"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
||Jerseyboy, were you testing the RACALS in digital against the Kings in
Here is my opinion on digital radio. I am against digital radio for
The best thing about digital is that it is very secure, scanners are made
but are expensive. Digital also has the ability to be encrypted to the
highest degree easily. Military and law enforcement applications can best
use these qualities.
Down sides are battery life, audio quality, and adverse affects from
radio interference. Reduced battery life is from increased electronics to
decode the radio signal even when used in analog. Audio quality is reduced
due to the sampling of speech to reduce it to the lowest amount of data that
can be understood. Radio interference, with analog you can hear the
interference as background noise or garbled audio, digital interference
results in silence.
For fire, you need the most common, reliable, proven method to
communicate with. Digital needed to be investigated before the Feds bought
into it. It is a non-common radio type that is going to cause big problems.
Analog radio has been refined for decades. Digital radios have only been
out for a few years, I feel the BLM, BIA and FS have jumped in too soon.
Due to policies coming from the top levels of government new Federal
radio systems have to be digital or they will not be approved and funded.
Here is a couple of stories I have personally witnessed.
A SRV crew shows up with RACALS to be programmed, told them it would take
a half hour to program them, they wanted to check out cache radios since
they were heading to the line, they held onto the EPHs until they demobed
then traded them back for the Racals.
BLM guys digging out EPHs they did not turn in when issued RACALS when
they found out I could repair them. There are a few SAFECOMs about these
Lets hear more stories of trouble with these radios. The more user
problems that are heard, the better chance there is of heading off more
problems. Strong words for sure, but to me, digital radios are not as great
as some people want you to believe they are.
Due to the importance of this thread on Interagency
Communication in the light of emerging technology we are posting it on a
separate page as well as on theysaid. Please add to the list of problems
with digital radios if you know of any. Any discussion of how technology
could be used so fallers could be warned of developing hazards is also
||Hello Ab and all,
I thought I would toss this quote into the mix and see if it could make it
to the quotes page...
"If you don't get involved then you can't get blamed...but, I found
this isn't always the case." This came from one of my FD's newer LT's.
||The Jobs page,
wildland firefighter job series 0462
and 0455 have been
rewrites report on Novato firefighter's death
"Gretchen Geary, the San Diego County investigator who drafted
the report, said Thursday that it contained errors."
||Next meeting of the California Blue Ribbon Fire Commission is Thursday
February 5th at 10AM:
Marriott Hotel - Riverside
3400 Market Street Riverside, CA
- A discussion of the status and application of the FIRESCOPE and
System (MACS) and their role during the fire siege in southern
- A discussion of the status and relevant issues surrounding public
safety communications and
interoperability in responding to the southern California wildland fires
and other disasters.
- Current and emerging technologies that can be applied to combating
- Recommendations relative to these issues that should be implemented to
prevent or combat
similar fires in the future.
CA Office of Emergency Services
CA Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security – SAFECOM Program
CA National Guard San Diego County
information about the CA Blue Ribbon Fire Commission, other meetings and
can read what the commission said about wasted airdrops, for example.
||No Longer Chasing Rainbows
I do agree with the majority of your post. Hotshot crews are hungry for OT
and Hazard pay, it is their bread and butter. Crews talk about their annual
OT like a badge of honor with other crews, its almost a scale of how tough
your crew is. On the same note, when the time comes at the end of their
hitch they are tripping over each other to get out the door. They don't even
want to hear about fire until the next spring.
I do think you made a ridicules comment regarding volunteer firefighters and
vendors intentionally starting fires. I used to be a volunteer and I am now
a career firefighter with a combination fire dept. You must have a very
Anyone remember the Hayman fire or the Rodeo - Chedeski fire and which
agency these arsonist worked for?
They were not volunteer firefighters, one was a USFS the other was BIA.
My two cents!
Former R4 Shot
||good link about the communication problems on the socal fires.
we had our own commo problems last summer on our hotshot crew. we decided
that we were going to phase-in the new racal digital radios. half of our
radio carriers had the new racals, the other half with the BKs. the racals
were simple to program, and easy to toggle between functions, but beyond
that, they were troublesome. without a mic they were very hard to hear (and
i wore mine on a chest harness). if you were a saw team, they were
impossible to hear. they seemed to have good range, but often times they
just wouldn't pick up signals, and high volume traffic would often leave
long silence gaps. we tried adjusting the settings, even changing batteries
every hour. still no luck. we took them to our comm. expert on the forest,
who in turn shipped them to boise and had them re-tooled. the problems still
existed when they came back.
after some frustration, we did a couple of tests, with 4 people in 2 teams.
each team would have a racal and a BK, and they would move around and try to
contact the other team. we found that the racals received only 70% of the
radio traffic that the BKs did. this occurred even when you were standing as
close as 15 feet away!
i've heard there will be a complete switch to digital band radios in the
near future. this could lead to many problems, the greatest of which is what
if one of those 30% calls are telling you to get out! some issues to work
out i guess.
has been very quiet for us. Lotsa rain & flooding occurring at the
moment in inland areas of NSW & Melbourne suburbs.
Have got some photos of the one decent fire we've had in the greater Sydney
basin - only 1100 hectares - about 5000 acres but pretty tricky terrain.
These two photos were taken an hour or so apart. A strong sea breeze kicked
in at the wrong time & made things interesting for all concerned.
"Expect the best. Prepare for the worst."
I will try to get caught up on photos on Saturday. Besides yours there
are some others. Added the quote to the Quotes to Live by Page. One of my
I brought up the very concerns that you and several others have brought
forward as SAFETY CONCERNS in a SAFENET as communications problems.
My SAFENET ID # 4SQNAUSAFE had "corrective actions by two people.... a
WO field person and a Regional Office person...... One replied as a General
Response and One replied as an Agency response. Neither addressed the
"root cause" of the problem. One of these persons immediately
replied. and the .. other person replied
recently, after a repeat of the SoCal Fires of 2003.....
THESE RESPONSES ARE UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!! They were just agency
"fluff" and didn't solve or address the problem. One response even
showed "back dated" responses by over two years... hum?????
Any replies from the agencies?..... Did you try to
address current issues by covering up past indiscretions or just fail to
reply and then "reply and backdate" your response?
If the SAFENET system is to be used as a valuable
tool, changes need to come.
WE WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS KEEP RECORDS ALSO...... Stop feeding us Bul*hi^!!!
If we have a Safety Reporting system (SAFENET) or a Lessons Learned center..
(LESSONS LEARNED)..... let us get and prescribe
the benefits from them without the agency knee jerk and cover up crap that
||NORCAL TEAM II: Check out the photos (and our IC) from our Cod Fire (Sept
2003) on the Tahoe NF:
They are from Wes Shultz, the photographer hired during the Cod Fire --
||This notice came in with a request to post it. Ab.
File Code: 6730/5100
Subject: Cramer Accident Prevention Plan Action Item 2 - ICT3 Simulation
To: Regional Foresters, Area Director
REPLY DUE FEBRUARY 6, 2004
Action Item 2 of the Cramer Accident Prevention Plan requires all fire
personnel qualified to serve as the Incident Commander on Type III incidents
to complete simulation assessment by April 30, 2004. To meet this extremely
tight and firm deadline, the Region and Area must have qualified trainers
attend the February Train-the-Trainer class. The test will assure that all
current ICT3's have the necessary leadership and decision making skills to
act safely under stressful conditions.
You must send four to six individuals to participate in a Train-the-Trainer
Program. This training program will be at the National Wildfire Apprentice
Training Center at the former McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento,
California. The dates are February 16-20, 2004. The attendees will be
provided the knowledge, procedures and tools to conduct the test simulation
stipulated in the action plan. The sponsoring unit is responsible for paying
employee travel to the training session. The selected individuals should
complete the nomination form at www.nartc.net. The form must be forwarded
through your Training Officer to Deborah Corner at email@example.com. Course
information will be forwarded to participants.
Attendees must be experienced fire personnel with the proper training skills
to conduct simulations and evaluate the performance of participants. We hope
that most of the attendees have completed Facilitative Instructor Training
(M-410). They should be at least Division Supervisor qualified or higher. At
least two participants should be a member of the Regional Fire
Qualifications Review Board.
By February 27, 2004, your Regional Fire Qualifications Review Board should
identify all individuals that have ICT3 as their highest current
qualification. Current ICT2 or ICT1 fire qualified individuals will not be
tested. The Regional Foresters and Area Director are responsible for
certifying that all identified ICT3s have completed the simulation process
by the deadline of April 30, 2004.
If you have any questions about this simulation assessment program, you may
Billy Terry, Branch Chief, Fire Training at firstname.lastname@example.org or
/S/ THEODORE W. BEAUVAIS,
JOEL D. HOLTROP
Deputy Chief State and Private Forestry
cc: Billy Terry, Ed Hollenshead, Dick King, William R Dougan, Wilson Fisher,
Jerry T Williams, Buck Latapie, Rich Wands, Deborah Corner, Don L Studebaker
Here is a smoke form to figure out smoke emissions using Hardy and Ward
emissions factor table.
If anyone wants this, please contact me. Ab.
||Many comments about communication gaps during the late 2003 fires in
"southzone" are worthy of serious contemplation by those who hold
the purse strings... CA state & local and Fed govt officials, and home
*who forgot why the OAKLAND HILLS FIRE blew up & so much expensive real
estate became a pile of fodder for winter rains & mud slides? that
biggie was later followed by what some call the "Malibu" fires
& that areas subsequent mud slides (early 90s).
* Why inadequate preparation for another big fire in urban interface?
not gonna point fingers at those who responded to any major rager, but will
ask the question: WHY SO FEW LESSONS LEARNED?
Everyone's taxes or insurance premium increases are compounded for many
reasons, directly or indirectly (home owner or renter, regardless of state)
< sure, call the FEDS to bail out state & locals when the going gets
tough! then complain when the Fed troops arrive too late to save your/our
personal bacon. arrrrrrrrrrrgh!
Here are some I remember from First Responder Operational Training (F.R.O.
1.) Safety, first, last, always.
2.) " Doing nothing is an option".
3.) This is a visual but I will try to describe it. "Rule of Thumb
(make a fist, stick up your thumb, now hold your arm out as far as it can
go. If you still see any of the area of product release (HAZMAT) you are
still to close, back off."
And here is one my daddy taught me, "Son, if you aren't going to do the
job right it's better not to do it all!"
Thank you Abe's and Abby's for all of your work and dedication. Good Job,
You're welcome L.A.V.E. Ab.
Thanks for the link to the informative article about the radio
communications issues encountered on the Southern California fires last
fall. The article points out that one of the most significant problems was
the lack of interoperability between agencies due the adoption of new 800
MHz radio systems. Law enforcement or fire department personnel with the
800 MHz trunking system radios could not talk to their counterparts with the
traditional VHF radio systems. In addition, the 800 MHz radio systems did
not work well in mountainous terrain, which unfortunately, is where many
large fires occur. They also found that the 800 MHz systems were
"overwhelmed", unable to accommodate some users when they pushed
on the microphone.
The report on the fires that was commissioned by the Lessons Learned Center,
had similar findings:
"Virtually every respondent cited the incompatibility between (the 800
communications system and the VHF systems used by state and federal agencies
as the largest problem encountered on these fires. Radio interoperability
problems caused coordination problems between cooperating agencies, command
and tactical units, air and ground units, and even between engines on the
same strike team. Units became temporarily unaccounted for and were unable
to communicate their status, placing firefighters at unnecessary risk."
This is not just a convenience or organizational efficiency issue, it is a
If we are smart, this "Lesson Learned" will be noticed by other
jurisdictions around the country BEFORE people get hurt, or worse. Many
state and local emergency service organizations are moving to the 800 MHz
system, with little or no thought about how they can continue to do business
on emergency incidents if they can no longer communicate on a radio with
their counterparts from other agencies.
||Here is a good article on fire communications during
the 2003 South CA fires.
For radio headsets and microphones I would recommend
produce some of the highest quality equipment, and are
made in the USA.
Thanks for asking me those hard questions. Monday-morning-quarterbacking can
be good or bad I guess. Accident investigations have parts where there is
proposed mitigation designed to prevent a similar situation causing a
similar accident. Isn’t this MMQ’ing? Isn’t this the way agencies have
always done it? The MMQ’ing is often thought to be something that should
be criticized but I do not agree with that line of thought. Accident reports
consist of a gathering of facts and witness and victim statements then
mitigation measures. Isn’t that MMQ’ing? What I try to accomplish is to
offer mitigation measures for an accident with the focus on the idea that if
the fire behavior was accurately predicted and the crew moved to safety
sooner no one would ever be burned over.
What one usually reads in the official accident reports is this core
concept. As often as there is an accident investigation, there is a
statement telling of how many violations there were of the 10’s and 18’s
and if they had not been compromised, the accident would have been avoided.
My preference is to teach firefighters how to recognize fire behavior
potential and stay out of the way of a fire run. Is it better to focus on
the rules of engagement to be able to avoid an accident or is it better to
see the fire potential and get out of the way? One without the other is not
enough. Training that teaches when and where fire behavior change potential
exists on the fire-ground in the path of the fire is another concept to
explore. A reliance on obeying the rules of engagement without knowing
wildland fire behavior has not been an effective guarantee of accident
avoidance. Firefighters need to know the rules and focus on LCES but without
knowing the fires potential to change behavior all the rules cannot be
assured to save you.
I like to test them and look at the record of accomplishment to determine
whether they were in fact sufficient mitigation. Consider a typical
mitigation measure the agencies designed. Take the Loop fire of 1966 where
the mitigation for the 13 fatalities the El Cariso Hot Shot Crew sustained
were the downhill line construction standards that were added to the
requirements of line construction. Consider the South Canyon fire of 1994
where 14 fatalities occurred while attempting a downhill line construction.
Did the downhill rule work? Why not? What if the crew could see they were in
an area that was in full alignment and was an extremely hazardous area? If
they knew that and could talk about it, don’t you think they would have
moved out of the in alignment path of the fire? Could anyone explain the
hazard well enough to stop a fatal action? Apparently not. Why not? Maybe
just maybe we haven’t trained firefighters to be able to describe the
potential and the tactical solution to the situation. Were the mitigation
measures put in place after the 30 mile fire effective on the Cramer Fire?
Striking a balance between MMQ’ing and successes on actual fires.
The CPS training program presents four fire problems in the workbook that
students are tasked to solve. Two (2) problems are fires where accidents
happened on and two (2) are fires that by using CPS, similar accidents were
averted. I have used CPS on wildland fires for more than 20 years and have
participated in many situations that resulted in pre determining the
potential and time tagging or trigger pointing the tactical change prior to
the fire endangering the position of the crews. I have evidence in various
forms in my personal files. I have been doing the escape analysis for Rx
burns for over 10 years and have made predictions of the weak portions of
the perimeter and have suggested mitigation measures that worked. I have
predicted the probability of escapes and had the experience of seeing them
do what was predicted.
Mellie you asked if I experienced any failures. Predictions of any kind are
not usually perfect representations of reality. No one should expect that.
Are weather forecasts accurate down to the time and place of wind speed and
direction? If the weather forecast is not exact, then anything that depends
on that forecast is subject to error. What is important is that the
prediction/forecast is sufficient to avoid injury. I remember an FBA
forecast that was posted on one of the Yellowstone fires that used BEHAVE
and missed the ROS and flame lengths by 2,4,& 6 times. The next forecast
recommended using these factors to tweak the outputs of the model
thereafter. No one got hurt but was the forecast accurate, no. The fire
modeling program often is said to have been in error.
CPS teaches that a prediction should be,
- “If the fire gets to that point it will do thus.” That identifies
a trigger point.
- “The safety area is good in the morning but not after noontime.”
That establishes the time tag.
- Defining the threshold of control: CPS forecasts identify the “when
and where” potential for fires to go beyond the threshold of control
and when and where the fire will drop within the threshold of control.
Forecasting for this specific allows all the behavior beyond the
thresholds to be largely avoided because no suppression action will work
and no one should attempt the impossible when extreme danger is
predicted to exist.
During my time using CPS, I never had my prediction leave anyone in a
tight spot nor did they result in causing endangerment. On the contrary,
there are many occasions that are cited in our class of situations on the
fires of 1987 and 1988, the Dillon fire, the Pony Peak fires of 1994, the
Marre Fire, Green Meadow fires of 1993 and as recently the 2003 Piru fire.
CPS prediction methods aided in determining the tactics and avoided
potentially serious accidents.
Students in CPS classes offer many insights into their successes and so an
exchange of learning happens.
There are many firefighters that have enviable track records. These people
know wildland fire. I did not invent these things but learned them from some
of the best. I simply tried to utilize the body of expert knowledge and to
do something with it that could lead to better mitigation measures than were
offered me by the management. Until I learned what my mentors knew I was at
risk and so were those who were with me. I was lucky to survive until I
learned enough to finish up my days without becoming a victim myself.
Other factors that are taught and considered in making predictions using CPS
are in part:
- The stability of the weather, fire danger, condition over the duration
of the prediction period, such as frontal passages, diurnal wind changes
and the weather that the fire produces.
- The dominant force causing fire behavior changes. Is it wind, slope,
- When and where will the dominant force become sub-dominate and what
force will replace it as the stronger force?
- What type of fire is it? Wind driven, topography, fuels, or fire
- Will the fire change from one type to another type in the forecast
- Do the tactics match the fire behavior potential and type of fire?
I sure hope that I have answered your questions. This response is so long
that maybe you should just give me a grade and tell the folks if I passed or
not. This paper is not a good substitute for a class in CPS.
Thanks again Mellie
Best regards to all wildland firefighters.
I hope you'll post the following quote, even though it's a little longer
than you usually allow. It's the postscript to a letter from deputy program
director Wayne Hale sent to the Space Shuttle Team. The full letter can be
read here. www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.phpl?pid=11675
"P. S. A final, personal note: a worker at KSC (Kennedy Space
Center) told me that they haven't heard any NASA managers admit to being
at fault for the loss of Columbia. I cannot speak for others but let me
set my record straight: I am at fault. If you need a scapegoat, start with
me. I had the opportunity and the information and I failed to make use of
it. I don't know what an inquest or a court of law would say, but I stand
condemned in the court of my own conscience to be guilty of not preventing
the Columbia disaster. We could discuss the particulars: inattention,
incompetence, distraction, lack of conviction, lack of understanding, a
lack of backbone, laziness. The bottom line is that I failed to understand
what I was being told; I failed to stand up and be counted. Therefore look
no further; I am guilty of allowing Columbia to crash.
"As you consider continuing in this program, or any other high risk
program, weigh the cost. You, too, could be convicted in the court of your
conscience if you are ever party to cutting corners, believing something
life and death is not your responsibility, or simply not paying attention.
The penalty is heavy, you can never completely repay it.
"Do good work. Pay attention. Question everything. Be thorough. Don't
end up with regrets."
This much I know. We can't separate 'who' from 'what' went wrong.
"I see a distinction between picking a crew based upon experience to be
gained versus the desire for overtime pay. It's a good thing to ask about
training opportunities and whether you'll see enough fire to be properly
evaluated on a taskbook. It is appropriate to ask an FMO how often you'll be
allowed to leave the home unit for regional and national assignments."
I don't know about everyone else out there, but when I was looking for my
first (and a lot of my subsequent) shot crew positions, the last thing I'm
going to have the balls to ask is about training opportunities and
off-forest assignments. I know a lot of shot crew members w/ 5+ years of
experience that just made squad boss. It's not that they're bad people or
their sup's hate them, it's just that shot crews can't always emphasize
"opportunities to properly evaluate a taskbook."
I completely concur w/ someone shopping for crews based on their
monetary/time needs. It works both ways for example -- (this could be
different now) Smokey Bear IHC had one of the shortest seasons around, Santa
Fe (and a couple other SW crews had the longest)....Hmmm let's think about
this.....If you really need the money, don't have a family and want to be
employed for 9 months out of the year; go w/ Santa Fe. On the other hand, if
you're just going to do the shot thing for, lets say, 4 months then Smokey
Bear is for you.
Please note to all you ex-Bear IHC, I'm not bashing you guys, you just had a
short season when I was around.
Furthermore, I believe (actually I should say know) there are very-very few
people getting hired for a shot crew that actually speak with an FMO, unless
you're a Sup, Asst. Sup or POSSIBLY a squad boss.
||Re: vfd cap'n. . . astonished that wildland firefighters want to fight
wildfires and make lots of overtime rather than one working on non-fire
projects all season.
At the end of your first post on this issue, you asked, “But then, what do
I know?” I thought Ab answered pretty well and I appreciate it. Thanks Ab!
When you continued to question why and then suggested a lack of integrity on
those who love to fight fire, I thought I better step back in and try to
provide some education for you and maybe some others.
I think your moniker and parts of your other posts help me understand your
perspective and perhaps your lack of personal experience with agencies and
contractors whose primary reason for existing is wildland fire suppression.
Yeah, some are all risk, some provide additional support for other
emergencies, but none of them are referred to as “Fire & Highway
Collision Departments”. Nor are the ones I have in mind referred to as “Fire
and Heart Attack Rescue”. They are hired, trained, and evaluated on their
ability to put out wildfires. I’m not talking about managers or
administrators here, just firefighters like Fire5 who wanted to know where
the “hotspots” were going to be this year. An experienced guess tells me
you have never been around a hotshot supervisor (or the crew) who has been
sitting in-station for two weeks in the middle of their fire season. Nor can
I imagine you have been around many engine crews, helitack crews, or other
avid fire-goers during the hot season.
They want to fight fires. They need to go to fires. They are frothing at the
mouth to go to fires. The only reason they are doing what they are doing and
putting up with all the other BS is so they can go to fires! The main reason
they want to go to fires is so they can pit themselves against the dragon
and kick it’s butt! Their ego and pride compel them to be on scene and put
the damn thing out as fast as they can.
The second reason they chose a career in wildland fire suppression is the
pure adrenalin rush. I don’t think I need to say much about that, everyone
knows about that or they wouldn’t be reading this. Actually it may be the
number one reason, but I always viewed it as a luxury benefit. I’m
surprised there isn’t an effort to tax it.
Now let’s get to the financial part. For most wildland fire agencies the
basic rate of pay is miserable. Going to fires and working overtime or
receiving hazard pay is a major portion of their annual income. My old
household budgets always included X amount of overtime per year. If I didn’t
make enough, I suffered. A new firefighter questioning a hiring supervisor
on the amount of fire activity and duration is not only prudent, I consider
it one of top two factors in selecting a work location. I know of many
engine and hand crews who spend the summer doing recreational maintenance
and yard work instead of fighting fire. One year on a hot crew can equal 5
or more for these engine crews. Come the next year and application time, it
can make or break you.
Your statement suggesting a firefighter’s desire for overtime or hazard
pay provokes an incentive to "go slow, let it grow" is insulting
and offensive. Your comparing a firefighter wanting to work in an area with
a high incident of initial attack and the potential of large fires to
willingly allowing fires to escape is without merit. There are and most
likely always will be those within the emergency response communities who
light fires for self-gratification. However, from what I’ve seen most
intentional starts (arson) of wildland fires come from volunteer
firefighters or occasional fire resource vendors rather than full time
firefighting agencies or contractors.
Your comparing structural firefighting where lives and property are at risk
to wildland fire is unfounded. I’m surprised you didn’t compare the same
illogic to ambulances and the honorable folks who perform those duties. I
know they don’t sit around and pray for vehicle accidents just so they can
use their red lights and newfound skills. Or do they?
As for the imagined question you included in your post of a firefighter
asking an FMO, “And, can you assure me that your district prevention
efforts are ineffective?” Now that’s just plain impractical. I worked 27
years on a forest whose annual fires were well over 75% lightning caused.
Winds or downdrafts from the thunder cells frequently created spotting over
a half mile were typical and led to large fires. Escaped fires really have
little to do with any prevention failures.
My reply to Fire5 stands. Don’t worry about overburdening the FMO or
potential supervisors about asking them about their areas fire history. Ask
the pertinent questions. Ask them how many hours of overtime they had last
year, how many IA fires and how many large fires. Get on the hottest module
you can find. Experience, task books, and all the other stuff will follow.
There are large variances between engines, handcrews, and helitack crews
with regard to annual fire dispatches within one forest and the next. If you
don’t ask, you won’t know!
No Longer Chasing Rainbows
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I have been thinking about a few things relating to the Cramer Fire, fire
behavior, and harking back to comments from TC and others about there not
being enough data and analysis on some aspects of fire and risk. As I
understand it, reports go in for burnovers, deployments and near misses; but
there are none or few reports of incidents that could have been risky but
turn out to be successful and basically without negative incident because
people made prudent decisions. I know you might just call that your job.
Seems to me that it would be valuable to have reports of what went right
that others can learn from.
I have heard of a few such "good decisions" reports via this
- One was a commendation for the DIVS on one of the far northeastern CA
fires in 2002 who pulled people off the fire because he felt the fire
behavior and situation had moved beyond his level of experience.
- The other case was also in 2002, I think (in Montana or Idaho or one
of those inland western states) when the fire manager on the road was
out of communication range, got back in range, heard the situation and
immediately pulled people off the fire that then blew up.
Is there a way that such reports could be written up more routinely than
is done today and kept on file for others to learn from? Maybe the Lessons
Learned Center could be a repository of such reports - A case of learning
from what went right rather than only from what went wrong.
On a slightly different aspect of risk and analysis...
You have done a lot of "Finding a Solution" for the different
historical fires that have killed people.
Not to be in your face, but I could argue that what you're doing is a little
like monday-morning-quarterbacking. In building predictive models in
science, the first step is to use data to create the best model to fit the
what is observed. The second step is that the model is validated or used a
priori (ahead of time) to actually predict the outcome. As I
understand it, your first choice for making a prediction for fire behavior
is to find another place that has burned that is similar to the new location
where you want to predict the fire behavior. This becomes the "Fire
Signature" for the new location. If no such example is available, you
say you have to guess (use intuition, experience, I don't remember your
exact words). That's where slope, aspect, time of day (solar pre-drying
conditions that you used to call pre-heat), alignment of forces,
time-tagging, etc come in.
Can you describe when you have used the Fire Signature Prediction Method to
make decisions that resulted in actions that succeeded or failed. Have you
ever actually used it in that way? What was success? Did your prediction
ever fail? In science the failures go in the bottom desk drawer and rarely
see the light of day. We call it the "Bottom Drawer Phenomenon".
Do you have any failed predictions in your bottom drawer?
The success of a model of a complex event is that it provides some order for
looking at the multiple predictive variables and that the model better
predicts the outcome than the unweighted variables. Good models simplify.
Similarly our brains want a way to simplify complex events -- put them in
categories that help us survive and function better. (This is why Bayesian
probabilities/ analysis has gained popularity in statistics. They're about conditional
probability, for example, what is the probability of this outcome occurring given
that this other event preceded it? Preceding events are our experiences,
knowledge structures, assumptions. Still gotta read that NY Times
The benefit I see in your model, is that it is a way to begin to logically
organize and account for complex variables, looking first at what
experienced firefighters consider the most important... but keeping in mind
the other variables that might be important at some time. So Doug, what
other fire behavior factors might need to be considered beyond those most
important variables in your model - slope, aspect, time of day? ...Like a
cold front coming through, wind-driven fire behavior. What else? How do you
account for them?
I see a distinction between picking a crew based upon experience to be
gained versus the desire for overtime pay. It's a good thing to ask about
training opportunities and whether you'll see enough fire to be properly
evaluated on a taskbook. It is appropriate to ask an FMO how often you'll be
allowed to leave the home unit for regional and national assignments.
But, if a guy is worried about the OT or hazard pay to be made in the local
area, then effective IA becomes a matter of integrity. The incentive system
can work against quick and effective suppression - and for some it actually
encourages a "go slow, let it grow" attitude.
I like your approach to involve the public in the EMS decision. That's how
you'll balance out their expectations with the needs and limitations of your
We run as mutual aid to the ambulance when requested. We tried to get
automatic aid with a list of about a dozen medical situations (cardiac
arrest, stroke, uncontrolled bleeding, etc.) to be dispatched
simultaneously. We sincerely do not want to run on band-aid calls, or to a
nursing home, or to the ski area twice-a-day for another broken leg. But the
county dispatch balked at the plan, because they felt unqualified to
evaluate the true nature of the emergency.
What we have now is sometimes frustrating - like when the 2-person EMS crew
waits to ask dispatch to page us until they're already exhausted from doing
chest compressions on a 300 lbs. man on the second floor. But, for the most
part, they call us early enough to be of assistance.
Abs.....time to stop lurking and contribute a couple of thoughts for the
cynics amongst us:
"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity" - P.T. Barnum
"Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?" - Will
Thanks..sign me -
Atmospheric conditions related to blow-up fires
1. Fuels are dry and plentiful.
2. The atmosphere is either unstable for some hours, and possibly days,
prior to the fire.
3. The wind speed of the free air is 18 miles per hours or more at an
elevation equal to, or not much above, the elevation of the fire.
4. The wind decreases with height for several thousand feet above the fire
with the possible exception of the first few hundred feet.
By George Byram (Ab, I have the original copy of this paper you can email me
if anyone wants a copy.)
On another topic, the effects of smoke on firefighter health...
Here is a link to US-Citizen Watch, if you go to studies you will find
information concerning smoke. www.us-caw.org
Here is a link to a NASA site, NASA Microgravity Combustion Science, that
directs readers to the Pope et al. Lung, Cardiopulmonary Mortality, and Long
term exposure to fine particulate air pollution article. http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov/combustion/web/jama_soot.php
Readers, I still urge you to contact your congress people regarding
Senate Bill 459 Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act of 2003 that doesn't
go far enough in providing benefits to firefighters suffering from
fire-related illness. If you scroll down to my poston
1/22 you'll see the mock up letter you could send to legislators.
||Ab- Here is an interesting perspective on forest health in the Four
Thirteen scientists from Colorado State University, Northern Arizona
University, and other research institutions wrote the Secretaries of
Agriculture and Interior in December warning that salvage and other removal
of dead pinyon pines in Southwestern woodlands may have unintended
ecological consequences. The scientists describe the major ecological event
that is currently transforming the Four Corners region: climate-related
death of millions of pinyon trees across an enormous swath of the Southwest.
They attribute this ongoing event to a deadly combination of wet weather,
drought and insects.
The scientists told the Secretaries that “there appears to be little or
nothing that managers can do at this time to prevent or influence the course
of this mortality event.” They predict that trees will continue to die
until precipitation and temperatures return to more "normal"
conditions in the Southwest. Their good news is that the tree-killing
insects are thinning the forests and that, even though the dead trees will
temporarily increase fuel loads, the likelihood of severe fire will actually
decrease after the needles fall off the trees, usually in six months to one
year following death.
The core message in the letter is that agency managers should “resist
pressures to launch ambitious salvage or tree-removal operations in the
mistaken assumption that the dead trees constitute a serious fire hazard.”
The scientists warn that “efforts to salvage or otherwise remove the dead
trees over extensive areas, in an attempt to reduce future fire hazard or to
restore ecological integrity, are generally unnecessary and would likely be
counter-productive, ” while acknowledging that “…localized fuel
reduction may be needed to protect vulnerable structures or resources.”
||The Jobs page,
wildland firefighter job series 0462
and 0455 have been
What you may not realize is folks want more and more services. Medical aid
calls are a fact of life. I was an engineer on a medic-engine for 5 years.
We ran upwards of 5000 calls per year. That’s right 5000. 90% of those
were medic calls; the other 10% were for various other calls for service,
fires, rescues etc.
The engine I’m on now ran 1594 calls last year. These calls were 80% BLS
medical and 15% fire of all types and 5% just plain weird. My point? Tax
payers expect the fire service whether paid, PCF or volunteer to be there
when they dial 911.
Maybe you guys should explore the ambulance by subscription idea. It worked
for many years where I live. They were staffed by volunteer ambulance type
folk on a rotating coverage basis.
The biggest thing to remember is that fires are really few and far between
and we are probably going to always have medical aids to occupy our time!
I hope you get your wish for a busy fire season!
My department is almost exactly the same position as Siski is. In 2002, we
ran in the neighborhood of 140 calls, about 60 fires and 80 medical. In
2003, we finished the year at 300 calls, 85 fire and the rest medical. The
thing is, we don’t have a separate ambulance service; we’re it. If we
don’t go, we’re looking at an hour before just about any other service
can cover our territory, even though we’re just medical rescue. So what we’ve
seen is that we’ve lost a whole lot our old-timers. The guys who just
signed up to fight fires a couple times a month disappeared when it turned
into a med call every day (or every night), and we wound up running about
90% of our calls with a small crew of die-hards. We’re all volunteer,
unpaid, and we all have day jobs; even if we get back from a call at 3 am,
we still have to get up and go to work in the morning. Medical response is a
burden, but I’m not going to say it’s unfair to the firefighters or
anything else; it’s just what we do because there ain’t nobody else out
there that can do it. Besides, we’re a small community; these are our
friends and neighbors that we’re responding to. I didn’t sign up to be a
medic either, but I got roped in and now I love it. Wouldn’t trade it for
anything (well, maybe a good wildfire season with lots of little dragons, a
good crew to dig line with, and great camp cooking, but hey, you don’t get
everything). The article seems to imply that the firefighters are getting
dispatched to all medical calls, along with the ambulance; that I don’t
understand. Is there a substantial difference in response time? Otherwise,
why send two units?
Nerd on the Fireline
I've been very busy lately and am just now getting a chance to respond to
Jersey Boy's comments about Bayesian Analysis. I've lately been reading a
book called Deep Survival by a guy named Laurence Gonzales. He writes about
the (mostly mental) factors that allow some people to live while others die.
Pretty interesting reading. You can find it online at www.deepsurvival.com
or by the ISBN number of 0393052761. Check it out.
link for Deep Survival includes reviews.
If you purchase it via Amazon, you help support our website. Ab.
||AB, please post.
"If I wasn't doing nothing I would help you out, but nothing is what
doing so I'm busy right now."
||This is more of a joke quote from a friend of mine
(and if he views this site, have him email me).
"Ignore crisis long enough, crisis will solve itself."
||Here are some quotes that I have picked up over the years as a SOF. Sorry
I don't have all the who said for many of them. Post any or all of them.
Fires all go out eventually!
The longer you wait to make a decision, the fewer options you will have!
"The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has
"We are very good at finding reasons for what we do, but not very good
at doing what we find reasons for." Abelson, 1972
Always leave yourself a way out." Chuck Yeager
"But they emerged from the teleconference having accepted increased
risk once more. Following the rules, doing their job, they made a mistake.
With all procedural systems for risk assessment in place, they made a
disastrous decision." Diane Vaughn, The Challenger Disaster
"You can't do much to stop it when you're looking up at the
flames." lifelong Manson Wa. resident 2002 (Deer Point Fire)
Always remember "You don't know what you Don't Know." (Curt Braun,
Ph.D and others before him)
"In the last 70 years of wildland fire fighting, we have not invented a
new method to severely injure or kill ourselves."
I entered them on the Quotes
to Live By page. Ab.
||Some interesting reading:
Task force's recommendation for San Diego Co:
force calls unified approach costly but correct
And from a few days to a week ago, I didn't see these links posted:
promise in innovations for firefighting
(except for the 747 flying the fire)
fire agency director says 'cosmetic' air drops made during San Diego
Those did come up on the Fire News page. Ab.
I have not posted before, but I wonder what other vollies think of
this article. Any other interface fire dpts have the same pressures?
Fire department seeks solution to medical calls
||re: Rainbow response to Fire5's question
Does anyone see something wrong with picking a crew to apply for based upon
the extra overtime pay on more fires with "the better the chance [of]
I just can't imagine a structural firefighter thinking, "hey, maybe
we'll get lucky this time and lose the kitchen fire, and the whole house
will go up!!!"
This has to add to the pressure on FMO's around the country dealing with
fallout from Thirtymile and Cramer. It must make their day to get a call
from a potential applicant asking, "Before I apply here, I want to be
sure you guys are really far behind on your fuel reduction targets? And, can
you assure me that your district prevention efforts are ineffective?"
But then, what do I know?
vfd cap'n, If you object to picking a crew that sees a lot of fires for
the OT, what about picking a crew that sees a lot of fires in order to gain
experience in fire behavior? Seems reasonable to me. Statistically speaking,
"more fires, greater chance of escape" is a true statement. May
not even be associated with being behind on fuel reduction. Asking if an
area has a lot of fires is a valid question, IMO. On the other hand as far
as the OT goes, many seasonals rely on it to support their families,
purchase their own health insurance, or pay for school in the off months.
always happy to plug something from this part of the world that might help
A very cluey bloke by the name of Dennis McKay has set up his business of
McKay & Associates. His web site is www.mckayassociates.com.au/index.phpl.
They also have some Nth American distributors. Perhaps your chainsaw bloke
might have benefited from the bone mikes or throat mikes. Not sure how the
pricing will convert but the exchange rate at the moment means you'd pay
about 75% of the quoted price (before shipping).
Good to hear from the southern hemisphere. When does fire season heat up
for you? Ab.
In response to your quest to find the most lucrative location to work this
year. . .my crystal ball says, "No matter which crew you select, the
other crews will have more overtime". It's one of Murphy's Laws, or
should be. Get your hands on a copy of last years year-end fire report,
select an area that has a lot of fires. Lot's of big fires help, but they
don't always get big in the same areas every year. The more fires that an
area has though, the better the chance them escaping.
Ab, please sign me. . . No Longer Chasing Rainbows (at least not those kind)
||I am preparing for another fire season. Hope to see you on the fire line.
Have a good one.
||Re the Helicopter Pilot who was talking to the media:
Several years ago some Air Tanker pilots started talking to the media
about how they could have stopped fires, saved the day etc. similar to
what the SkyCrane HeliTanker pilot is doing now. The Air Tanker pilots
in that particular state contract are now expressly forbidden to talk to
the media, unless permitted by the contracting agency. They may be
excellent pilots, but not all are capable of dealing with a rabid media
looking for a story. Will the powers that be please consider a similar
contract modification for our friend the SkyCrane pilot.
Wondering in Nor Cal
||In the Sunday edition of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat there was a very
interesting article about combination departments and volunteers working
replacement shifts. It seems that with F.S.L.A. that once a volunteer has
worked a paid shift, they are then considered a part time employee and no
longer a volunteer. That technically means that after that first shift, you
are then a "paid part time" firefighter. This throws a monkey
wrench into the works at small departments that have few paid personnel and
"volunteers" who step up and carry the load while people are out
sick, injured, on vacation, or out of district on assignments. For that
matter when you go on out of district assignments, say as a member of a
strike team, and get paid by Office of Emergency Services, that counts too.
This rule has a number of fire departments in the county, and possibly the
state of California, running scared that they may have to come up with
thousands of dollars is "back pay" for these volunteer/part time
firefighters in this cash strapped state government. As I understand it,
this is a federal law (Fair Standards and Labor Act) passed in the late
nineties, so this thing could have larger ramifications nation wide.
||And the blame game goes on...
Says He Could Have Put the Grand Prix Fire Out
||I'm glad to see all this discussion about firefighter safety, in light of
the Cramer and other investigations.
It seems like most people understand that you've got to rely on experience
to know how big a safety zone to plan for, how short an escape route, when
the fire is about to change behavior, what that new behavior may be like,
etc. and that there isn't any textbook way to plan for every conceivable
contingency under every circumstance. I agree.
The problem is that we've developed an agency culture in which accidents,
and especially fatal accidents, absolutely cannot happen and when they do,
somebody must have screwed up. And we've led the public to expect the same -
just read the editorials in local newspapers following Thirtymile or Cramer.
Now zero accidents is a laudable goal and one we should continually strive
for, but as long as we're purposely engaging a phenomenon we don't fully
understand -i.e. fire -, once in awhile, someone will judge wrong. Even if
that person has a lot of experience, the fire may behave in a way that
you've never seen before. When you visit the Thirtymile site and look at the
rockslide where those four brave souls died, the reaction from most
experienced firefighters (that I've talked to) is, "Wow, I've ridden
out many a fire in a rockslide just like this".
What I can't understand is, since there is no ironclad way to predict the
size of safety zone you will need, how can our leadership expect every
fireline supervisor to guess right 100% of the time? I really think we need
some folks at the top to either tell us exactly what method they expect us
to use to determine safety zone size or to recognize that if it's up to each
supervisor's individual judgment, once in awhile a fire will behave in a way
that wasn't predicted and an accident will happen.
||In response to Krs about radio contact between all crewmembers.
I've just finished a ten year career in the world of professional cycling.
In the last decade radio communication between riders and director has been
a huge development. Currently a majority of professional team have all
riders equipped for one and most of the time two way communication. Riders
can communicate with other riders and their director and support staff.
For the last two years the team I worked with used a system from Alinco. As
you can imagine weight was a huge concern for the athletes. Alinco makes a
credit card size system that is light and very effective. This system can be
tapped into a much larger handheld or base unit system and is fairly
programmable. From experience we've seen the credit card size radios
broadcast across as much as a five minute gap in flat to rolling terrain.
(Five minutes is quite a distance at 23 mph.)
I also believe that Phonak, the hearing aid company makes a similar system
but I'm not sure of the range you get with them. I also believe it is only a
one way communication system. However, they have a professional cycling team
in Europe and are bound to be using a two way system with them.
I think a system like this would be ideal in a wildland situation. Small
radios for each member not only would increase communication at all times,
but at the most important times.
I'd be interested to hear if anyone tries a system out and their thoughts.
||Does anyone know what happened to the "California Wildland
Firefighters Memorial Highway" and the "California Wildland Fire
Fighters Picnic Area" on the Cleveland National Forest? I thought they
were a done deal after the State Senate designated the highway several years
The news article www.nctimes.net
and the memorial site at the www.wildlandfire
memorial sites have more information.
From what I've been told, the picnic area and highway areas haven't
changed..... not even any signage to reflect the sacrifices of wildland
firefighters. WHAT HAPPENED?
||What do all of you experts think will happen this coming season and
where are the hotspots going to be? This may weigh heavily in my
choice of employment if offered or hired or whether I will accept
a gs fire job or a wg position.
||Ab & others who helped me
Ive spoken personally with two shot crews who would love to have my services
the coming season.
Thanks for everybodys help in finding a new home away from home!
Nothing is 100% official yet, of course, but made some new contacts & I
really appreciate folks help.
||Attached are a few articles in the local newspaper today.
The first two require a sign-in.
About the Initial Attack of the Grand Prix Fire:
About the outsourcing (A-76) award to a British Company for fire mechanics:
and a great article on how the request in the above news article is being
handled by GAO:
Leanne and I have done all the Municipal Fire Departments around Tahoe
Lake. You might talk to one of the Chief Officers.
I am still teaching my course to anyone or any organization that wants
the training. There are numerous others that teach the course also.
When it is requested, I always tell the person that if they can get an
in service person to deliver the course it will be less costly and they
have that option. I have a one day course and Will usually does
a 2 day course. I have a 2 day train the trainer course given the
first time in New Hampshire for the NE Wildland Fire Compact.
Various organizations attended and became trainers.
It is my desire that other interested trainers teach this course. They
will learn from teaching as I did and just maybe they will develop
a better and improved way of delivering it too. There are a lot of
very wise firefighters among the ranks and there is always room
for improving what I have developed.
At times Will and I team up to teach, such as the up coming
course that the Santa Fe N.F. has contracted for. This one will be
how CPS is used in planning and implementing Rx burns.
As to contract firefighter organizations requesting a course, it has
not happened as yet. As for any individual requesting the course,
I always tell them that my door is always open and I will be glad
to go 1 on 1 at my home and if they want to become an instructor.
I have done that also. There are quite a few trainers that have taken
the course and are accepted by their department as trainers that are
currently teaching the Wildland Fire Signature Prediction Method.
These are spread from Spain to Canada and from the east coast
to the west coast of the USA.
Thank you for asking.
I know you personally do not teach the Wildland Fire Signature Method so
much any more. Forest Service Will teaches the course more often. I know
the socal counties rely on the training and I've heard that some states call
you or Will in to do a training.
Do contract firefighter organizations ever use your course? Do vollies?
I have heard that you have some 'training the trainer' sessions. Do you? Who
become a trainer? Do you know if they go home and teach afterwards?
From what I've heard the training seems to have changed a bit since 1999
when I did it. Leaner and meaner, Tighter? You were working towards a
shorter course then. How does it compare? Do people still experience the
'blinding glimpse of the obvious'? Todd, I know what you mean when you
say your head was rearranged. When I had it, I called it the most profound
experience of my life. (well maybe excluding two others.. ;-)) Maybe
rearranging' only happens to younger and less experienced firefighters.
SoCalCapt you must have been older and more fire savvy, did you have
More info on Steve Ruker's death
states firefighter stumbled
Chief blasts San Diego County
"Tuttle also said that it was very difficult for the forestry and
fire department to work in San Diego County because there was no unified
county fire department, and that fire protection was provided by dozens of
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I know that none of what
I say can make that much difference in your circumstances but I am truly
impressed by your willingness to talk about your accident.
I have had the privilege to be present when two survivors of fatality fires
(Loop and South Canyon) spoke for the first time publicly of their
experiences. One waited 30 years, the other 4 years to talk about their loss
and what they learned. It took a ton of guts for both of them to tell their
stories. Their honesty and willingness to discuss the details of the
incidents have helped themselves heal and other firefighters to be safer in
Your service in the military and as a firefighter is appreciated as well.
I pray for you to stay strong in your spirit.
||Hey I know that to be hired by a wildland agency you must apply, pass a
medical exam, and the pass the work capacity test. However I never read
anything about an interview in the hiring process. This is part of it right?
It seems that it would only make sense, but I read on the USFS website
"Prenotice" for job announcements that they notify you by email.
So I'm a little confused on this. I know I'm askin a lot of newbie
questions, but I really wanna get all the info I can because I really want
to be picked up this season. Any other comments or suggestions are more than
welcomed and appreciated. Thanks.
PS I found out that the job vacancy announcements will begin being posted
end of this month into the beginning of next month.
Have AB forward me your email addy. I have developed a list of local
most of it going on in Jan-May each year. There might not be anything on the
need, but its got great links.
All of the new jobs will be posted on www.avuedigitalservices.com
for the GS-8 and below for permanent and seasonals stay the same from the
GS-6 and below. When you enter this new site you will need to follow all the
directions that they give you.
Most of the new jobs will start to be posted after February 2nd. The powers
from above are taking a good look at this new system and will be having a
big meeting for all the Personnel and HR folks to explain how the new system
After the 2nd of Feb. I would call your local Forest that you want to work
and ask some questions to the HR or personnel folks. Until then I would
start filing out the profile section and start making a virtual resume so
you can be ahead of the game.
Hope this helps you out a little....
||Old Fire Guy
Thank you so much for the comments.
As you must have guessed, all of my program and insights
were obtained from the knowledge and experience of many
Old Fire Guys from whom I have gleaned knowledge.
I always asked them " How did you know what the fire would do?'"
They answered " I just knew."
I would ask them how I could learn that and then the conversation
began that helped me to achieve
the knowledge that I was seeking.
My thanks to all of them for
the vast body of knowledge they possess and pass on to others
when asked. I have always thought that if I wanted to know fire
I would ask the successful old salt and not rely solely on the
academic processes alone.
I was the Supe. of El Cariso in 61 & 62
Ron Campbell came later. Good guy but not any blood relation.
||I've read, and re-read several times the report on the Cramer. It fills me
with sadness, and leaves me empty of words to express the level of sympathy
I have for the families of these two fine young men.
There is some excellent dialogue going on here at They Said, and I am
relieved to see it focused on how we can fix what is wrong, and not who is
wrong. This dialogue has helped me in understanding my own approach to fire
Doug, thank you for your continued role in firefighter safety. You help
articulate a philosophy of safety acquired from years of experience. I think
I've applied some of that philosophy, but in not so eloquent terms.
Mellie asks "How does a wildland firefighter recognize when the fire is
going to change behavior?"
For myself, I wish I could say it is based on an observation of data, run
through a pocket checklist formula, resulting in a solution dictating a
particular tactic change. That's not true for me. It's more "experience
I've had the occasion to re-negotiate assignments that I felt were unsafe by
design. I've never had to flat out "say no" as the overhead I've
dealt with were trained, experienced, and willing to listen to another
opinion. In every case, we came up with a modified assignment that I was
comfortable in accepting. Had I not been, I would have turned it down.
I've had one occasion where the fire assignment seemed safe, and yet things
"changed" enough that I pulled my entire division and we sat in
safety zones while the fire ran a mile beyond what was to be our line that
Although the assignment was based on "current and expected fire
behavior", the "change" was enough that it just felt wrong to
be where we were. I don't know if it's years of experience, or variety of
fires, or just staying heads up.....but sometimes one instinctively
implements much of what Doug better identifies as points for change.
Can I sum that up in a phrase? How about, "Base your plan on current
and anticipated fire behavior. AND Implement that plan with your eyes open
for un-anticipated behavior."
Another? "If your tactic is not working, stop doing it." Applies
to fishing, football, and firefighting.
Thanks for letting me be a part of this dialogue. Ab, clip wherever needed
if I've rambled too much.
Old Fire Guy
PS Doug: Any relation to the Campbell that led "the" crew in the
||As I continue to think about the questions posed by Backburnfs, I remember
idea I came up with a while ago. When the tree that kicked my ass was on its
way down, most of the crew saw it and tried to warn me. With my back turned,
live saw, and earplugs, I didn't hear them, and thus had no chance.
Is there a way they could have warned me? My swamper saw the tree, but was
far away for me to hear him as well. What if we were in radio contact with
other? Just Jermey (my swamper) and I, and maybe the saw boss, on a separate
channel? It is possible. In the Military, the "high speed" groups
use throat mikes (like
and an ear piece. I used a special "push to talk" armpit switch at
while talking to my aircraft as an Air Force
1C451. Had we had and used a setup
like this, maybe I could have heard the yelling. I probably would have
wrong way and died, but maybe not.
Maybe there's someone out there who would like to try to make a setup like
Who can get the NSNs for throat mikes and have a radio guy wire something
Just an idea, but maybe it would save lives, or at least prevent injuries.
don't need any more deaths, or (worse, IMHO) cripples like me.
KRS, thanks for the insights and suggestions. I can't imagine what your
life is like, the pain, the difficulty, as you've said your legs dancing
with each other beyond your control. We're very glad you're alive and
working with all of us. Just remember, "No man is an island."
We're all part of the same community. Ab.
||An interesting announcement from Jet
Propulsion Lab today...
JPL Weather Expert Predicts More Drought in
Western States 01/23/2004 18:42:20
(Los Angeles, CA) -- The weather experts at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena say another drought may be in the works for the West. The
JPL's Bill Patzert said, "We're dry as a bone here in the West."
He said looking into the next decade, "We see a large scale shift in
the Pacific that has really dried out the South West and we're probably in
for, on average, another decade of drought." Patzert urged residents
to conserve water now to help stave off future shortages.
The west's fuels will surely continue to undergo massive die-off from
drought and related problems like bark battle infestation with this bad
news. Massive die back is readily apparent to me from my travels in the pine
and chaparral forests of Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and
Southern Utah. Firefighters who encountered the mega-fires of Southern
California this last fall will no longer refer to them as the worst in
history, rather they may become the norm! This problem has similar
implications for the entire Southwest. This also means the rookies you
are hiring today will have a career like no other as they endure the fire
behavior that climate change will bring. Lots of implications here from fire
behavior, training, and preparedness perspectives. Just think, no fuel model
even exists that adequately predicts fire behavior in the 100% dead standing
mixed fuels like we are seeing. >From experience, we also know this
ratchets up the interface fire problem incredibly. Hang on to your hard hats
ladies and gentlemen, the interesting days still lie ahead!
Contract County Guy
I posted the Power Point slide show on my web site so that anyone
could copy it and use it at will. Shareware you can modify
it and make it your own with new and perhaps better ideas.
That is how we advance the state of the art in firefighting.
Remember the past
Predict the Future
Regards to all and I mean all of you out there.
||vfd capn, I wonder why the Cramer Report didn't talk at all about the
extreme fire behavior.
Thanks Doug for the info...
||In reply to Backburnfs, here are my thoughts:
The only person responsible for my injury is the rat bastard who lit the
Many times have I wondered what I or anyone else could have done to avoid my
injury, and there's nothing. No matter how much education we do, fires are
going to happen. Unfortunately the cause of mine wasn't "natural",
but I could
have just as easily been injured on any one of the other fires I've worked.
We've all been out there, and we know things fall all the time. No crew has
enough eyes to watch everything all the time.
The investigation points no fingers. We may not have done everything
but we did it to the best of our ability.
I wonder sometimes had I heard someone yelling and stepped left or right,
might have happened. Maybe I'd have a cool story, and maybe I'd be dead.
I hadn't stopped to have a smoke that morning. What if I hadn't taken a
lunch. What if this, or that, or the other thing? I don't know. I might
walking, but I might be dead as well.
The bottom line is I am alive, and the only person to blame is that guy with
Sure, maybe we didn't need to check that edge of the fire. It was dripping
But it only takes one smoke, and here we go again. Maybe I didn't need to
and cut that little tree (the one the flagging's wrapped around in one of
accident report pics. Yeah, the 'stick') but then maybe "my" tree
would have hit
someone else. Alot of the guys are smaller than me. They would have died.
I think it comes down to both management and individual responsibility.
Sometimes, even when everyone's doing the job and paying attention, bad
still happen. If fire was predictable, they wouldn't need us.
||So Cal Capt:
I used the "yellow book" for reference. This is the start of my
28th year doing this. I too have seen fire behavior that I cant explain, 40
foot flame lengths off of 2 foot tall brush in AZ. I totally concur with you
that experience is the best, but some people need it in numbers.
What part of So Cal. Used to work for CDF down there when it was region 6,
also worked for Orange County Fire. Have we Met?
Have a good one Sir
||Ab, couple of comments:
Thanks to Doug Campbell for posting the solution. I have tried to explain
his method to friends who have not taken his class. the ppt speaks a
thousand words. Doug, you don't know how many people I have told to read
your post to see what I was talking about. Do you mind if we copy the
solution and pass it on? I know it costs you money and understand if you say
Re the S190, 290, etc. There is good info in them like Dave and Nerd
and others say. But I have found them inadequate on tactics, especially
after Doug's class. (I had it from Will Spirson (sp?) who works for the
Forest Service and teaches most of the classes I think) Will didn't bash the
S-290/290/390 classes and I'm not either, exactly. I do think with
declining experience in our leaders we need different tools about fire
behavior to be more responsible for our own selves. I don't think that
threatens chain of command.
After learning Doug's Fire Signature Prediction method (I call it CPS) I
felt like my head was rearranged. I had a framework to look at fire,
consider if I would be safe and for how long if I kept doing my task.
I'm not bashing FBANs either. They have an important job. But they are
usually not on the ground pounding dirt, clearing line.
||Hey I was wondering if anyone has the inside scoop as to when USFS will
accepting applications. All I've heard was January sometime. Anyone have
exact dates? Just wanting to apply asap, appreciate the help. Thanks.
||Ab, I suggest that you take a look at the following web site.
Site/link # 1 - also look at gallery, then to link # 6, old fire, then to
Crest Vol. Fire Dept. approx. 105 photos (that move, can be stopped,
forward and back). Let the unit run thru for a second time.
The verbage will disapper and you will get an uncluttered photo. Have fun.
Grover G. Payne
I couldn't get anything to "move" in any browser, so I don't
understand your directions past "look at the gallery". There are
some nice early pics of point of origin and its move up Old Waterman Cyn.
||I seldom respond to posts however Fireball XL5 is just a bit out of line
on his post on S190/S290.
When I took S290 years ago it was the test to see if you could be a crew
boss and the failure rate was 25% since it included nomograms. Now we have a
S290 that is "just select the correct answer" from all of the unit
tests you have. If you take a look at the Apprentice Academy and the failure
rate of basic apprentices who have had the course and worked for the
agencies for at least a season, should we be surprised at any failures? I
agree that CPS is just another avenue to instruct, however any
firefighter who is on a South-Southwest facing slope in light fuels between
the hours of 1200 - 1800 might want to ask WHY?
NWCG courses are basic for a reason: all of the agencies who have wildland
fire responsibility have an equal voice. So guess what? Training is reduced
so those folks can play rather then going to higher standards. If anyone out
there believes that NWCG instructs at the highest level then there is a
bridge in New York I have ready to sell.
"the only legacy you will leave your agency with is those who you have
Success finally on the OWCP front.....
Case was accepted/approved whatever you say. It was initially denied on Nov
8th, i didnt learn of it until Jan 10th or so.
Please fwd this to those who have responded to me & maybe even put on
the main board.
I hate to fathom what Krs is goin through, my entire claim added up to just
over 10K, very obviously injured on the job, and I had the paperwork started
the day I got injured. I cant imagine what kinda stuff you are goin through,
I finally got some satisfaction after talking with my claims examiner's
supervisor (reached through OWCP customer service) I explained to this
supervisor person that I had called every day for over a month at that time
with no return calls. Less than a week later, it was resolved.
Thanks Ab & others
Just another HEALING shot, formerly busted!
Good news. Ab.
What you’re saying about Bayesian Analysis makes a whole lot of sense…I
can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on EMS called and realized later
that myself and other responders weren’t necessarily responding to the
call at hand, we were responding to the last similar call which had gone
badly…most likely because that was the call we had gone over many times,
both consciously and unconsciously, trying to figure out what went wrong. It
brought to mind another hypothesis I’ve heard about human behavior; that
the main driving force behind behavior isn’t self image, or who we think
we are, but self concept, what we think other people think we are. So what
do we fall back on in an emergency? Our memories of how things are supposed
to go, and our feelings about how we think others expect us to react. In my
mind, what that breaks down to (nod to Fireball XL5…btw, I thought my
S-190 was excellent) is training, training, training…and then, coming back
to an earlier point, what happens in the rare times when our training can
hurt us as opposed to help us? The best solution I can come up with is to
make us young FF sit down and listen to as many war stories as we can take.
We need to hear about Cramer, and Inaja, and Mann Gulch, and Thirtymile, so
that hopefully we can take the experiences of our elders and learn from
them, then recognize when the same exceptions to the rules apply.
Nerd on the Fireline (thoughtfully)
||Someone asked 'How does a wildland firefighter recognize when the fire is
going to change behavior ? And then they say it wasn't in 190.
I have to disagree. I remember from 190: You feel the weather getting hotter
and drier. You notice the wind begin to blow, increase or change direction.
You are in an area where you are unfamiliar with local factors influencing
fire behavior. You are getting frequent spot fires over your line. and Keep
informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts. Know what your fire is
doing at all times, observe personally, use scouts Base all actions on
current and expected behavior of fire. Post a lookout when there is possible
danger. That and thorough discussions and explanations on topography
(aspect, elevation) and the inter-relationships between fuels, weather and
It is true the canned courses won't give you all the tools you need to
become an FBAN. But the common language and terms used in NWCG training is
still the best way to learn. Tempered, of course, by your experience as a
||Mollysboy, re your comment:
"why are there no comments that CDF needs to have a "major
paradigm shift" in their organizational structure?"
There is always talk in CDF about some overhead (some foresters and
director's) lack of fire experience and that this needs to change.
Organizational structure change, sure, many of us press for it. We feel it
unfair that CDF is the California Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection. The Forestry rankles. We would rather be the California
Department of Fire Protection, as we consider ourselves California's
Fire Department and Professional. We have many similar problems as you feds
do and we grouse about it just as much, maybe more, but we don't have a
theysaid forum that is this active and productive on our political issues.
Unlike you feds, we have a union that has helped us become more professional
and appear more professional to the public.
I think if you fed firefighters had your own OPM fire series it would help
with perceptions of professionalism, both as you view yourselves and as the
public views you. Just my opinion.
||hope everybody is working out for the pack test mainly us older fire
fighters, take it easy at first all you need to do is a 7 min 1/2 mile and
you got it licked.
I'm trying to track down some digital images of scenes depicting the
1) 1933 Griffity Park Fire
2) 1943 Hauser Creek Fire
3) 1953 Rattlesnake Fire (there's is the photo in Carl Wilson's 1977
International Fire Chief article but it's not the best & have now seen
the photo on p. 30 in John Maclean's new book Fire and Ashes)
4) 1956 Inaja Fire
5) 1959 Decker Fire
6) 1966 Loop Fire
Thanks for any help.
||The Jobs page,
wildland firefighter job series 0462
and 0455 have been
||There are two very important threads of discussion going on here on They
Said. One is the Cramer fire investigation and the other is Krs' s on going
crisis with OWCP and his health care.
I may be going out on a limb here in bringing this up. I am seeing
discussions as to who's fault it is when someone gets hurt or killed on a
fire assignment. There is the one side who think that management is the
cause or contributing factor to disaster, and the other side who think
personal responsibility for our safety is or lack of is the cause. It seems
when there are fatalities involved management gets the finger pointed at but
when someone is injured it is their responsibility.
Since we can't ask the ones who are no longer with us, I will direct my
question to Krs if you are willing to answer.
Was there any time since you got hurt that you felt that anyone besides
yourself was responsible for you being injured, either a supervisor or
someone in management? Did the investigation of your accident show that
management was at fault for your injuries or could have been a contributing
factor in the accident? I am assuming that there was some type of
investigation involved since you were so seriously injured. I am sincerely
curious as to your thoughts on this.
As a supervisor I fully understand and take very seriously my responsibility
to train and direct those under my command to follow all safety procedures,
checklists etc. as well as to look out for each other. But when it comes
down to it, if I make a decision to accept an assignment, how can I blame
someone else if something bad happens.
Investigations when the only people who know the story are dead should be
directed to studying the fire behavior, weather, tactics, that were involved
and how to avoid getting in the same situation as the ones who died. Trying
to figure out who's to blame in this situation is pointless and leads to a
lot of speculation and covering of butts.
||Woodsman 20 ..... great thoughts on safety zones.
Over the last 10 years, dozens and dozens of people, from Hoshot Supt.'s to
fire managers have gotten together to discuss safety zones and methods to
"calculate them". They have never come to a consensus.
The standard of 4 times the fuel height is bogus...
Many of us have seen 12 ft. flame lengths come from 2 inch tall grass and
100 ft. flame lengths come of of 1 ft. tall rabbit brush under extreme
Woodsman 20, take your little yellow book..... and.... ONLY use it for a
reference tool. The experience to guage a true safety zone comes from the
experience and from using the basics. Don't ever place a safety zone in some
place that could come into alignment for the worst case scenario. If you
place a safety zone in one of these places, it changes rapidly from a safety
zone to a deployment zone to a survival zone.
Doug's post hit the mark. The folks who have been around for awhile use
Doug's teachings whether they have been to his class or not. It's called
education through experience.
The newer folks, new managers, and supervisors who do not have any
cumulative fire experience have not gained the repetitive fire behavior
knowledge. Doug's class should be a requirement for any new module leader,
supervisor, or line officer. Doug's class would also be good for those of us
who need a little refreshing such as myself.
Mellie also hit the mark. S-190, S-290, S-390, and S-490 don't really teach
fire behavior as they used to. The current fire behavior classes only teach
you how to use some basic smarts, a hauling chart, nomograms, and the behave
program to calculate fire behavior based upon 40+ year old algorithms. I've
NEVER KNOWN "MATH" or little yellow books to really solve any fire
there was a great article in the "science times"
section of the new york times on tuesday, january
20th, about decision making in times of high pressure
and unfamiliar environments.
(note: www.nytimes.com requires a log in - its free
the article starts with sports examples, a quarterback
being rushed, etc. what researchers found was that
people in uncertain, but familiar, situations, rely on
something researchers call Bayesian analysis (bear
the real thrust of bayesian analysis is that "the more
uncertainty people face...the more they make decisions
based on the subconscious memory and less on what they
i know this sounds like a bunch of scientific
gobbledeygook, but the analogies used make sense:
when crossing a street, we rely not only on what we
see, but what remember (subconsciously) about the
speed of cars.
or when deciding to take a sick child to the doctor,
we rely on the child symptoms (what we see), with what
we remember of the kid's medical history, as well as
what we know about the illness in general.
so, long story short, this "decision science" could be
an area worth looking into in terms of training people
for the future. computer simulation, field
just a thought -
||I'm feeling kind of uncomfortable with all the S-190 and S-290 bashing
going on here. I am an instructor for both courses and I feel that these
give the foundation for good sound decisions making on the fire line.
Without them you are strictly using recognition primed decision making
alone. These classes were designed to speed up and more efficiently transfer
knowledge learned in the school of hard knocks, especially after the Mann
Gulch and Inaja disasters. Remember that these NWCG courses are basic
education, they are not a cookbook to use to bake a perfect firefighter. And
no matter what Doug says he doesn't have all the answers either. His
technique is just another approach to the same thing covered in the NWCG
sources. In my opinion his intentions are good but all of his concepts are
already part of the instruction in 190-290. And it is a money maker for him,
he doesn't give it away.
All of this goes back to Paul saying "Be a student of Fire". You
use basic fundamentals to build upon with your experience and judgment to
make the kinds of decisions that determine the escape time you have and the
safety zone size. Nobody can give you an air-tight way to be safe. Knowledge
and facts and rules will fail you under stress and time constraints. That is
the challenge we all are here for right. To do it well and to have the
satisfaction of doing it right.
||Hello Ab. I got a few questions that don't really need posing.
As you know I am stuck in the south during the winter and spring and as such
I can get next to no wildland training. North Carolina only offers a handful
of classes for people outside the state agency. Is there a distance learning
option for NWCG courses? Also, what is/are the requirements to teach and
certify someone as being S-130/190 qualified? My county FD training officer
came to me with that question, cause I guess he is getting upset with the
run around our local NCFS guys are giving him. Which leads to my next and
final question, could the county FD teach to NWCG standards and self
||Todd and others contributing to the discussion,
Good for you! You see similarities in the Cramer incident and other fires. I
have made up a PDF file and have made it available on my web site, www.dougsfire.com
(last link, Cramer Solution) that attempts to provide one way the accident
and many similar accidents could have been avoided.
The 5 elements to consider are:
1. Time Tag the task
2. Establish a trigger point where you change tactics.
3. Understand where the "In Alignment" fire tracks are.
4. Determine the fire signature threshold.
5. Make predictions.
Where is the course that teaches these concepts? There is a 2 day course
scheduled for the first week in February at Vandenberg Training Center.
Taught by Forest Service folks. The course targets just this kind of thing,
the commonalities of fatality fires and provides students a chance to create
a solution for a few classic fires.
My heart goes out to Shane and Jeff's families and friends as well as all
the folks this affected.
Todd, you got real and I commend you for that. Let's insist on training that
speaks directly to the problem.
We all need the tools and skills to be able to predict fire behavior changes
in time to avoid entrapment. If you don't know when and where the fire
behavior will change and become dangerous how do we expect L.C.E.S. to be
the safety net?
I invite any interested people to check it out.
When I heard that Doug had created a "Cramer Solution" using
his Fire Signature Method, this Ab suggested that Doug make it available for
all wildland firefighters to evaluate for themselves. I am glad to see that
he has done so. I made the link directly to his web page containing the
download. Please browse Doug's site for more information. We welcome
||Abercrombie and Readers,
Please read the letter below then copy it, substituting your Congressional
Representatives' names and addresses and send it to them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Senator Dianne Feinstein <or your Senator or Representative>
United States Senate
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Or call (415) 393-0707
Fax (415) 393-0710
Senator Diane Feinstein <or your representative>,
I would like to congratulate you with your support in passing Senate Bill
459 Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act of 2003.
But Senate Bill 459 Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act of 2003 www.ichiefs.org/newssys/news/NR121703.shtml
does not go far enough.
Persons surviving a stroke are not included 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.
FEDERAL FIRE FIGHTERS PRESUMPTIVE LAW
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.
- 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.
I need your support to include Federal Firefighters that have strokes,
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
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
For information on the effects of stroke, please visit www.aphasia.org/.
||I have to agree with heli5 and his comments. It is important to remember
that there are still two more reports that have to come out about the Cramer
Fire, one includes OSHA. Please don't read too much into the parts that are
whited out. The loss of Jeff and Shane has been extremely difficult and an
unending nightmare for their families, friends and fellow firefighters.
Remember that there is still more to be learned and by doing so, their death
has not been in vain.
Please remember to sign your posts with your moniker or with initials if
they are other than your own initials. Otherwise we Abs will use your first
and last initials or first, middle and last initials on your posts.
Another thing that would help us: Please put theysaid, familysaid, "for
post" or some identifying thread topic in the subject line. With all
the spam we get, it is sometimes hard to tell what is not spam as we look
through the junkmail file for posts that have been filtered. (Pulaski, DF,
Hickman and NorCal Tom, you can continue with your highly creative and
non-pc subject lines if you like.)
||I have read a few of the comments on the Cramer fire,
specifically the few entries that feel that focusing
on who did or did not do what is wrong. Unless you
are intimately involved in what happened you can't
know how well this report focused on exactly what some
of the issues Jeff and Shane faced long before they
rappelled the Cramer fire. We have to take a look at
each incident/ accident on a case by case basis, while
balancing some trends that may be agency wide. The
Cramer fire has some aspects that won't be encountered
in other investigations and the specifics of the
Cramer fire are further reaching than just the
suppression actions on July 22. There are significant
issues being addressed forest wide. Let's be patient
and be careful of rumors and let the process run its
It is unfortunate that the focus has become a
management issue, but it is equally unfortunate that
it is a management issue. If, as managers, we are not
ready to be held accountable, maybe we shouldn't be
taking young kids to fires. This is a job with a high
level of responsibility and let's not forget that.
With responsibility comes accountability they are
Let's also not forget that there are
plenty of people hurting from this loss, the Allen's
and the Heath's, the Indy Crew and management, the IC,
myself, and all the friends Jeff's and Shane's lives
touched outside of the fire community.
The part of the Cramer Fire that is troubling me is the 5 hours and 22
minutes it took to clear the H-2 helispot. Here's some of that timeline from
9:43 – Allen and Heath arrived at H-2 to do what an unidentified
person had been “…estimating that it would take one hour to clear the
between 10:30 and 11:00 - “…maybe 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete
between 12:30 and 13:00 - “Allen said that things were going fine and
they would be another 30-45 minutes.”
shortly after 13:26 - “…maybe another 15 or 20 minutes and they
would be done.”
between 14:43 and 14:47 - “…they needed another 40-45 minutes.”
15:05 - “Allen notified helibase they were ready to be picked up from
15:24 – “Allen, calling in an excited voice and breathing heavily,
asked, ‘Could I get a helicopter up right now?’ ”
Mollysboy has a point about how the investigation pendulum has swung
between the South Canyon and now.
To a helitack, the relying on the aircraft may be psychologically akin to
the chainsaw that doesn't get dropped.
At Storm King apparently Rob Browning and Rich Tyler were heading back to
their original helicopter drop zone when the fire overran them. I doubt that
they spent much time discussing it. My guess is that it's what their bodies
did almost automatically.
Brings me to another related question.
How do you train people to step out of their automatic responses when those
highly practiced responses become life threatening? How do you train for the
rare and unknown life threatening event? That's a hard one. As everyone
knows, personal experience and a larger view/ repertoire of responses can
help you or your supervisor identify that the event is coming and may
provide some help in determining appropriate behavior. You can get some of
this via training, slides, ppt presentations, talking with others,
participating in a staff ride at a burnover or fatality site. You can
individually practice some life-saving behaviors in timed and simulated
exercises. Your crew can practice together. Maybe computer training is in
the offing. Anything else?
You can rely on your overhead and your FBAN and on your own knowledge of
fire behavior. What if you're relying on somewhat inexperienced overhead?
Hmmm, and who is the FBAN on IA? The Firefighter? (Those of you Supts and
DIVS and Branch and OPS and FBAN people who know me, know that I am not
slamming you or supervisors in general. I admire you all greatly. However,
many of our experienced people have retired, are retiring, or will retire
Or maybe you're only two somewhat inexperienced guys who are focused on
clearing a LZ -- while maintaining LookOut, Communications,
reviewing your EscapeRoute and keeping your SafetyZone in mind
and reevaluating the 10 and 18, etc, given changing fire behavior?
I have been admonished on this forum by Old Fire Guy, Pulaski, FireWolf,
Original Ab and others that when the fire changes its behavior,
firefighting tactics must change so that fire can continue to be fought
safely. How does a wildland firefighter recognize when the fire is
going to change behavior? I sure didn't learn much about that in S-190 which
was a pretty academic class. Is S-290 or the higher classes any more
situationally oriented? (What are nomograms anyway?)
In my experience, a person can maintain all the "situational
awareness" in the world, but if they don't have a knowledge of the risk
(in this case fire behavior and how it might change), will that do them any
||The Wildland Firefighting Community lost another brother this week. Walter
retired Air Tanker Pilot, passed away unexpectedly at home Monday. Details
arrangements are posted on the Air Tanker Message Board.
Walter P. is a true icon in the industry and was an unwavering advocate of
pounders. He will be missed........
I never had the honor of meeting Walter P, but everyone I know in the
aviation side of fire speaks very highly of him. I know he will be missed.
You've hit a very important nail on the head: How can you tell for sure if
you've planned for a large enough safety zone and short enough escape
route? Currently, it's based strictly on experience (OK, the little
table in the yellow book does tell you safety zone sizes needed for a given
flame length, but that's kinda useless since it only accounts for radiant
heat and there's almost always convective heat involved.). There really is
no universally recognized way to calculate the size of safety zone you will
need in any given situation. In fact it may not even be possible to come up
with a foolproof formula because there are still aspects of fire behavior we
don't understand, and yet fireline supervisors are expected to get it right
100% of the time. So how can you tell for absolute sure if you're in
compliance with Fire Order #4 (Identify escape routes and safety zones....)?
Until such time as we have the research to completely understand every
aspect of fire behavior, the awful truth just may be: you can't.
||Mollysboy, re: your post.. the first step is change and discussion.. If
you think some of us are "riding the wave".... get a grip... we
are seeking firefighter safety. Don't put words into our mouths... We are
wildland firefighters and our actions and thoughts speak for themselves.
I'M SICK OF SEEING AND HEARING ABOUT DEAD FIREFIGHTERS
In my 20 years of service, I have been at nine incidents that resulted in
From your post....
"Some of the folks that have posted regarding "Cramer"
seem to me to be using it as a vehicle to forward their own agenda:
specifically, it would not have happened if we had a wildland fire series
of full time professionals in the Federal services. I strongly
..."The players involved in the "Cramer" fatalities were
experienced and knowledgeable in Fire management; many were full time in
fire management, and others had significant part-time experiences and
responsibilities in fire."
..."Does a full-time fire organization guarantee a fire-safe
Your Statement #1: The "direct" players in the Cramer
fatalities were experienced and knowledgeable in fire management. The
investigation says that "everyone" was qualified under current
standards. What were the "qualifications, experience, and
education" of the line officers who were providing program oversight?
If you know the background, you will understand wildland firefighter
concerns about program oversight...... Line officer experience and oversight
WILL come into play.
Statement #2: Does a full time fire organization guarantee a fire safe
No it doesn't, but it provides a groundwork for a safer and more productive
firefighting workforce..... A biologist, chemist, forester, or natural
resource manager CANNOT TELL ME OR A 25 YEAR HOTSHOT SUPT. how to run a safe
fire program unless they have the same experience, training, and
"education". Individual firefighters and groups of firefighters
can still continue to make mistakes.
I DON'T EXPECT THEM (LINE OFFICERS) TO HAVE THE SAME EDUCATION AND
EXPERIENCE THAT I HAVE nor DO I EXPECT MYSELF TO BE ADVISING THEM ON HOW TO
DO A TIMBER SALE, A WATERSHED SURVEY, A BALD EAGLE COUNT, or A T&E
CONSERVATION PLAN........ THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT PROFESSIONS.
Mollysboy, I don't know your past, your present, or your future..... You may
be a first year firefighter or a Washington Office Director..... All I ask
is that you LISTEN to the things presented and consider the requests of
readers.... If the readers here are listened to, there will be a safer
firefighter workforce. It's not the individual ideas that are correct, it's
the collective ideas as a community.
Mollysboy, do you know what the "primary" duties of the main
person who wrote the 30 Mile Abatements was?... If you think the "WO
FIRE FOLKS" wrote 30 Mile, think again... Look at the legislative and
legal side of the USFS to see who really wrote the 30 Mile Abatements. If
you know how to use "google search" you can actually find out the
primary author was not a fire person or anyone with any real firefighting
real simple formula: you get your max flame lengths by doing fuel height X4,
safety zones are factored by doing flame length x 7. Some people are going
to argue about this because of the pocket line fire guide. That formula only
gives you the distance to the center of the fire "Safety Zone". My
formula gives you the total area needed. For instance. 200' flame lengths
times 7= 1400 times that # will give you approx 1.96 million square feet
needed for a safety zone, (just for info this is over 50 acres.) We'll never
get it but were hoping.
P.S you can check my math if you want. this follows the pocket line fire
guide but eliminates a step.
||Nerd on the Fireline,
Think you need to watch your mouth about the USFS. Not appreciated one bit.
Another face on the fireline
Face, Ok comment but you need to realize that the terms and slang names
are all done in good fun, kinda like the good-humored guff and pranks that
brothers and sisters poke at each other. Go to the page and read all of them
and you'll see that no one agency group has been immune from the ...dare I
say... name calling. Just chill with this. We seek a balance between PC,
professionalism and reality. Ab.
||It's appropriate and important that "TheySaid" is hosting so
many comments about the recently released report on the "Cramer"
From my perspective, it looks like the issue of "Responsibility"
has shifted 180 degrees in the 9 years since South Canyon: in that case, the
investigation report wanted to put all the blame on the firefighters; in the
"Cramer" report, managers are held fully responsible, and the
firefighters that died are held blameless for their own deaths.
In my opinion, neither scenario is valid. The issues of managerial
responsibility on South Canyon are well documented in John Maclean's book
"Fire on the Mountain" and in the History channel's video of the
same title. The "Cramer" report, and associated news reports
("They told us the boys did nothing wrong" .. Idaho Statesman,
1/20/04) put all the responsibility on management, and absolves
firefighter's (trained and experienced) from any responsibility for their
own safety and well-being. Is USFS Chief Dale Bosworth getting a little
"gun shy" after getting beat up on the Thirtymile fatalities by
the parents and Senator Cantwell and representative Hastings from Washington
State? The marching orders of Chief Jack Ward Thomas, who ran the USFS
during the South Canyon event was....."tell the truth", no matter
who's feelings were hurt or toes got stepped on. Is that the case today??
Some of the folks that have posted regarding "Cramer" seem to me
to be using it as a vehicle to forward their own agenda: specifically, it
would not have happened if we had a wildland fire series of full time
professionals in the Federal services. I strongly disagree! The players
involved in the "Cramer" fatalities were experienced and
knowledgeable in Fire management; many were full time in fire management,
and others had significant part-time experiences and responsibilities in
fire. Does a full-time fire organization guarantee a fire-safe operation?
Few will argue about the quality of the CDF fire program, yet even they have
entrapments, burnovers and fatalities: why are there no comments that CDF
needs to have a "major paradigm shift" in their organizational
structure? The same can be said for the Florida Division of Forestry:
excellent firefighters and managers, but they too experience entrapments and
burnovers. Where are the calls for change? Is the need for a more
professional wildland fire job series truly needed in all firefighting
agencies (Federal, State and County), or are the comments asking for it just
a self-serving method of one's own situation?
One last thought on the "Cramer" investigation report: over the
past 15-20 years, the purpose of these investigations was to find out WHAT
went wrong, not WHO did wrong. We need to have a free and open discussion
about what happened on entrapments and burnovers so that we can work to
insure that they never happen again. I believe that that
"blame-game" mentality that surfaced in the "Cramer"
report is a dis-service to firefighter safety, and that in a few short years
we'll regret its tone and focus. We're telling firefighters that management
is responsible for their safety, and that they, as firefighters, don't have
to share those responsibilities. I believe that is absolutely the wrong
One of Ab's "Quotes to live by" say that "If your plan
depends on aircraft make another plan"; how appropriate for
||Someone asked "Is the direction and distance to the safety zone
something we should pay more attention to in the future ?" If you
haven't been paying to the placement of your safety zones the answer is
yes. #4 Have escape routes for everyone and make them known. Learn,
know and follow to the letter the standard firefighting orders and the
Watch out situations. For the sake of all firefighters.
||Photos/video of one woman and one man who are "Persons of
Interest" in the Thirtymile Fire:
Thanks D. We'll keep our eyes peeled. Ab.
||What does everyone else think about the adoption of the GS-0401 series as
the new "Wildland Fire Management" series fix offered by the
AGENCIES..... Some estimates show that upwards of 80% of current wildland
fire managers are now "CAPPED" and unable to continue to safely
and effectively manage their fire management programs.
Somehow, we have folks who have been GS-7's, GS-8's, GS-9's, and GS-11's who
before were able to progress to the next fire management level. Many of
these folks have education in fire science, fire administration, public
administration, business management, and political science, that do not
qualify them to be our NEW MANAGERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY. Unless your college
credits are DIRECTLY upper division agriculture, biology, forestry, or
natural resource management... you are no longer qualified to do your job.
The Forest Service has been slow to change series to the new ones, but the
USDI agencies have hurriedly jumped head first....... The Forest Service has
begun to change some of their GS-11 and most GS-12 jobs to the new
No, not a retired B.C. for CDF. spent two fire seasons with CDF and 18 ½
years as a volley in Sonoma County. Miss fire season and the good guys,
& good times, etc. but not the B.S.
Just a side bar on the Miller Fire. I was on a CDF strike team that had been
sent to Humboldt/ Del Norte R.U. they were expecting dry lighting. We were
sleeping in Garberville CDF station and they woke use up at 3:30 in the
morning and sent us up to the Miller Fire. We felt like a ping pong ball,
first hurry up and go north, then hey wake up and go south there is a huge
fire, but you guys are on the night shift. But first we stopped in our home
ranger unit to fuel up and eat breakfast. We then headed to the fire. We
were tasked to be on the night shift. On the way to fire camp we were passed
by at least 3 strike teams of immediate need local engines going code 3. We
got some strange looks as they passed a CDF strike team cursing along like
we were out for a picnic.
Typical of the way government works.
||A new funny came up the other day:
USFS= Useless Florist Circus
Nerd on the Fireline
||Request for open thinking and open discussion……..
HOW ABOUT A REAL “30 Mile” and “Cramer” ABATEMENT ITEM:
Create a wildland fire classification series to address the unique
challenges and requirements of fire management, addressing the skills,
knowledge, and experience needed to enter and manage a fire management
program. This classification standard should address the full range of
duties from entry level GS-3 through upper management GS-15 and S.E.S. THIS
CLASSIFICATION STANDARD will be independent of the GS-0400 Natural Sciences
group and will be classified under the GS-0000 Misc. Occupations group.
This classification series, as with others in the Federal Government, will
work on an interdisciplinary nature with other professionals within the
organization. This series has specialized experience, education, and
training required. Our forests and rangelands are managed by an
interdisciplinary approach. Currently, foresters, range specialists,
biologists, botanists, hydrologists, and other specialties all have “professional”
input. Wildland Fire Management needs to have “professional” input to
the interdisciplinary approach. A wildland fire series would solidify this
and make our land management agencies SAFER AND MORE PRODUCTIVE in our
protection of our nations wildland areas and communities.
Have a classification series that has entry level standards, standards for
professional development, and standards for performance. Provide for “grade
controlling factors” such as incident commander type 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Utilize “grade controlling factors” as well as experience and education
needed for these positions to maintain the standard. Provide a
classification series that must work directly with, or for,
interdisciplinary professionals in other fields such as forestry, range,
biology, or natural resources.
REQUIRE PROGRAM OVERSIGHT TO BE ACCOMPLISHED by professional wildland
firefighters with secondary oversight to be accomplished by EDUCATED
and EXPERIENCED line officers with experience in wildland fire management.
||Got my letters off for KRS.
On the topic of the Cramer Fire, how can firefighters know where the safety
be and what size safety zone is the right size... if they don't know what
the fire is likely to
do?... Where's the training that helps firefighters understand fire behavior
enough to know
they should demand to be pulled off the fire when it is likely to blow up
and make their
escape routes and safety zones ineffective? Does S190 and S290 really do it?
S390. Nomograms anyone???
Does anyone besides me see parallels to South Canyon and Mann Gulch in the
slope, aspect, time of day? Any other fires?
Rest in peace, Shane and Jeff. I hope we learn something from your deaths.
Just wanted to say thanks to all for getting Krs' letters started.
I have completed mine, including a letter to my home state Governor and
Senator (Arizona). I have rallied the support of friends and fellow
firefighters. Everyone, please remember that this could have easily been one
of us. Let's all stand behind one of our own. Perhaps if the folks higher
up get bombarded with letters, the chances of this payment issue happening
again will be smaller.
And Krs, hang in there dear friend...we'll try to get this fixed for ya.
What a small world. I was on the Miller Fire also.
I was working as a seasonal BLM engineer, but was on days off working for my
local Volunteer Fire Department, the Vacaville Rural Fire Protection
District. I was
a Volunteer Fire Captain for them.
On the Miller Fire, I drove down a "wrong" road and thought I was
going to burn
up our truck. Actually, it was a dozer line that lead to a dead end.
Luckily, we were
able to make it back to a safety zone.
Retired L.A.V.E., you happen to be a former CDF battalion chief?
||Report Blames Managers In Wildland Firefighter Deaths
From a Newpaper Article.....
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service released its
investigation report and accident prevention action plan on the Cramer
Fire, which killed two firefighters, Jeff Allen and Shane Heath, in
central Idaho on July 22, 2003.
The report found "inadequate management oversight" as a key
factor in the two firefighter deaths. "Leadership on the Cramer fire
was inadequate to provide for safe and effective suppression
O.K. ..... time to put up or shut up...........
How can in-experienced LINE OFFICERS be responsible for the fire management
oversight and leadership?
THE PROBLEM EXISTS IN THE NATIONAL PROGRAM.... until the national offices of
the USDA and USDI pursue a "Fire Management Program" , there will
continue to be losses of firefighters.
Foresters, Natural Resource Managers, and others cannot manage a program in
which they are NOT themselves PROFESSIONALS.
If we want to stop or slow wildland fire fatalities, we need to have a major
||Ab for the KRS mailing effort:
Attached is a list
of elected representatives for convenience.
Feel free to edit/add/subtract from this list.
For those that choose to e-mail. We can suggest a date of Jan 22nd to
roughly match our snail mail.
OK. Readers, feel free to write your representatives if you haven't
||RWA: Were you there? How do you know what type of effort the <snip>
made? Do you really think that someone listening to a scanner in Salmon can
hear line-of-sight radio traffic from a aircraft below Long Tom in the
Salmon River breaks? Come on man, don't make stuff up!
Once on the ground, you are a firefighter, you are not helitack anymore and
you should never rely on air support. (Maybe you shouldn't rely on
BCT: Don't forget LCES and the Fire Orders. What makes you think 'everything
was done right?' Why do you think so much was redacted from the report?
We'll never know why Shane and Jeff didn't head downhill into the blast
furnace toward their "safety zone." I probably wouldn't have
either if I saw what they did, and there really isn't much room for
discussion. It surely should never have gotten to that point.
Yellowjacket (formerly "saddened," now getting pissed)
||In response to BCT asking "why they didn't head toward their safety
zones" concerning the Cramer Fire.
The answer to this is that the safety zones that IC <snip> had
earlier determined were not even survival zones, meaning they could not have
even survived in these areas with their fire shelters deployed.
Jeff Allen had fought fires near this area before and knew of another
helispot called H-4 that was located up above H-2, closer to Long Tom
Lookout and it is thought that they were headed there. The fire was coming
at them from both sides and was burning over their safety zones and so a
persons own sense of direction would tell them to run away from the fire and
not into it, which is where their safety zones were located.
I feel that they could have safely made it to H-4 if they had been correctly
told that the helicopter was not coming for them, instead they were forced
to wait at H-2 until it was too late and they had nowhere to go except make
an attempt at going to H-4. Some people who have scanners in the Salmon area
<snip 4 lines>.
My snips. Ab.
||hi ab, have been having trouble finding your quote section. could you
many thanks, ken. jellat rural fire service. (australia)
Click on the Quotes to Live By just above, at the top of this table.
Think of us as being directly Downunder it. There's also the page of Funny
Firefighter Terms. You can get to that via the Links page under
||Something keeps bugging me about the Cramer Fire Investigation report.
As I read through all the facts and causal factors and all that, the
question that keeps nagging ate me is "Why didn't they head toward one
of their safety zones?" Their bodies were found uphill of H-2 where
they'd been working, while both safety zones were downhill. Obviously, we
can't know for sure what they were thinking, but I'm surprised there is no
speculation in the report about it. Admittedly, the report said that neither
of these would have actually been a safety zone, given the fire behavior
that occurred, but I think this question is still pretty important for us to
consider if we're to learn for the future. I shudder to think of a future
fire where absolutely everything is done right, and when the chips are down,
people head the wrong way to safety. (This is not in any way to blame Allen
and Heath for their own deaths - only to try and understand why they may
have done what they did).
Did they somehow feel those safety zones weren't really safety zones? Did
they wait too long, hoping for a helicopter evactuation? And why didn't they
deploy their shelters? Was it just blind panic causing them to run uphill
until it was too late?
I'm interested in what other people think about this. Is the direction and
distance to the safety zone something we need to pay more attention to in
In my experience, reports do not speculate. Ab.
My letter is done. If it's not too big, could you post it for me?
The letter and the supporting documentation weigh almost 12 ounces.
When I find time to scan all the other documents, the whole thing will
be available on my site.
Thank you to all for your continued support.
Here's KRS' LETTER
TO SENATOR FEINSTEIN and her assistant. Today is January 20, the target
day for sending letters of support for KRS to Senators. The Abs sent in
their letters. Readers, take a look down the page to see what you can do to
bring Krs' situation to the attention of legislators if you have not already
||Hello to all during this quiet time of the year....We've made a new
website for CA IHC crews and wanted to pass along the address; maybe you
could post on your links page as well, wherever you see fit.
California Interagency Hotshots (www.californiahotshotcrews.org)
We are still waiting for some crews to submit their info, so it's a bit
incomplete, but it is up and running so go ahead and take a look. Thanks!
We posted it on the links
page with the other hotshot links under jobs. Ab.
||Just some "Press on the Fireline" stories:
In 1988 I was on the Miller Fire near Vacaville Ca. It was shift change and
we had just arrived on our division. There was a local news crew out doing a
story. The camera man was wearing a yellow nomex shirt, but to my surprise
this guy was out 200 yards from the press car, and was hiking fresh dozer
trails with dress loafers, patent leather kind with tassels, and polyester
pants. He had his typical load of camera gear and battery packs and all the
stuff they need. The poor guy was struggling to get around, and he was 6
foot plus and over 230 pounds.
We were watching a gang of dozer cut a 50 foot fire line and I stuck up a
conversation with the guy. He didn't have a clue what being on or near a
fire line was like. I asked the typical questions like what is your under
wear made of, what are yours socks made of, what kind of shirt do you have
under the nomex? Has it turned out almost all the stuff he was wearing was
plastic or had some plastic in it. All the guys on the engine were listening
in by now and you should have seen the looks on all the faces. First it was
amusement then as the guy described is wardrobe it tuned to one of horror.
We then strongly suggested that they rethink their clothing choices the next
time they had a fire assignment and further suggested that for their own
safety they might want to get their film back to the station.
Another quick press story. In the early to mid 90's there was a large fire
on Highway 50 between Lake Tahoe and Sacramento. The highway was closed and
only local and emergency traffic was allowed. When we finally got and
assignment, we sat in staging for 4 day on a local agency strike team, we
were sent to protect a small hamlet in the potential path of the fire. Two
hours after we arrived at this little town it rained like crazy. The next
day the fire was down but not out. The press being what they are, need good
photo ops., but there was not nearly the spectacular fire that there was the
day before. One of the engines in the strike team was sent up the road to
put out a spot fire. When they got there the press corps were lined up and
taking turns so the could use this "back drop" for their reports.
According to the engine company the teams of reporters were begging them not
the put out the fire until they could get their shots for the evening news.
We all found this very amusing and some what unbelievable, what kind of
mentality do these folks posses.
||Old fire guy
Thank you so much, that is the exact picture!
Are you looking for a painting or a figurine? Can't help you out if it's a
painting (although it rings a bell), but there is a figurine that fits the
description. It's a firefighter kneeling down with a dog in his arms and an
angel standing over him.
It's a Seraphim Classics figurine called 'Caring Touch-Angel with Fireman'.
It was retired in 2002 but I'm sure you could find it available somewhere if
you plug the name into a good search engine.
As for any paintings that fit the description...well now you've piqued my
curiosity and I'm going to have to do a little digging before I can get back
Hunter - A work comp rate of 2% is VERY low. That percentage is not out of
the wages paid to an employee but in addition to the wages. It is one of the
many costs of doing business. I pay well above that but not nearly what a
logger pays - @ 40% here in Montana.
On a different note has anyone heard what the actual NRCG decision is
regarding R1 EERA EngB training requirements for the upcoming season? I'm
hearing that they are not going to require the full list of courses
specified in 310-1 and will allow people that have been through just 290,
230 & 231 to be considered EngB's...and in many cases these folks have
jumped from FFT2 to EngB without completing the requirements for FFT1....As
a R1 contractor that has worked hard to meet the requirements outlined - in
black and white - in 310-1 regarding the course work and sequence of
positions required to become an EngB this is disturbing. Not only will it
perpetuate the horrible reputation that R1 contractors have - and in many
cases deserve - but it puts us all at risk.
I supply a top quality piece of equipment staffed with a crew that knows
what they are doing - and our evaluations reflect this. Unfortunately under
the current system this has nothing to do with getting dispatches, so it
seems that the EERA welfare system will be perpetuated....I realize that in
the current situation the relationship between Fed folks faced with the
outsourcing issues and contractors is less than great, but this is a safety
issue! To an outsider it doesn't seem like the folks in Fire are very
involved with the folks in Contracting. Is there way to change this? If
you're still reading this post I'd like to ask you to stop by your
contracting office or drop a note to the folks on the NRCG and let them know
that standards do matter.
Thanks for your time,
||I just want to report in that Bridger Fire who has advertised
seasonally on our Wildlandfire.com Jobs
Page for two years now has all its positions filled for the 2004 season.
No more applications, please. There are some new ads up from Firestorm and
Woods Fire. Check them out. If interested, contact them and send in your
Don't know if this is the same artwork....but an ice sculpture of a fireman
with angel was widely circulated last year. Interesting article on it can be
found at www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/icesculpture.phpl.
Old Fire Guy
||As Hunter said:
"I wonder how many Krs' there are out there that are being ran
through the grinder by those agencies who are supposed to be supporting
them in their time of need. It is no wonder that there are so many lawyers
in the country. I would never go into a workers comp claim without
Not to frighten others who have more recently been injured; but I agree
-- if there's no access for arbitration or no way to file an appeal without
a lawyer. Many injured on the job have had to go the lawyer route. What is
really scary is that so many hire a shyster who will promise them the moon
& immediate resolution.
For CA employer/employee workers comp (w/c) claims, the lawyer's
"take" of their injured client's final resolution is set by law or
the judge (haven't checked lately but CA law was 12%, now it seems it's up
to judge @15%, maybe more in southzone)... I have a list of northzone
lawyers to avoid & an extremely short list of the lawyers that friends
have found competent.
What about in other states? What are the Fed "Law of the
Land" laws for workers comp claims? ADA (Americans with Disabilities
Act), etc is common knowledge if any read the links the Abs have provided -
especially the new links.
Abs, how can we share info about the "w/c" laws in other states,
or Fed claims? (there is a wealth of information on this forum regardless of
Me thinks K's plight is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
||Heard a rumor the other day about R-3 might be looking for some helicopter
modules to come out for an early season.
Anyone have any info?
i was wondering if anyone knows where i can find the firefighter art work
of a fire fighter kneeling with an angel leaning over him. i've seen it once
would really like it. any pointers would be great.
thanks, northwest firegirl
||I'm sending my letters in support of KRS to CA and KY Senators. Made some
extra copies for
family members and they're sending them also. Thanks to the organizers
Mellie, Ab, Krs, Larry,
Firechick, etc. My wife said it did her heart good to know we were doing
I'm getting ready to fire off my letters for Krs and had a few questions.
First, OWCP? What does this stand for? Instead of making all these Senators
look up which department runs the program, I'd like to spell if out for
them. Do you have the OWCP director's name?
Second, I remember reading something that the fire Krs was hurt on might
have been set by an arsonist. Do you know if it was? I believe this would be
something worth mentioning in the letter if it is true.
Thanks for your help,
OWCP= The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs of the Department of
Labor (in the Acronyms Glossary). Some info from the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation. More answers your questions can be found here: www.nalc.org/depart/owcp/owcp.phpl
The fire was set by an arsonist. Krs' parents did a lot of PR with
authorities in KY seeking to publicize the effects of arson to stop people
from lighting fires on Halloween. Ab.
||Ab and all,
I supported Krs by sending letters to my two senators, the two Kentucky
senators, and the two California Senators. I surly hope the support from
the grassroots is effective.
I wonder how many Krs' there are out there that are being ran through the
grinder by those agencies who are supposed to be supporting them in their
time of need. It is no wonder that there are so many lawyers in the
country. I would never go into a workers comp claim without one.
I am not sure where this information fits in, but I recently read in a
California newspaper where in California $6.16 of every $100 in wages goes
toward workers compensation coverage. In the rest of the nation, an average
of $2.00 + of every $100. No figures were given for federal employees, but
I can assume that they fall in the $2.00 + area.
Im in need of some help from the readers and
watchers of your site. I have spent 4 seasons working
for the Forest Service. Three years on a hand crew,
and one year on a engine module. I am extremely
interested on being on a helitack crew this up coming
season. Im not so much interested in a rappelling crew
but just a normal helitack crew. If anyone has any
hiring info or contacts that might have a job opening,
any info would be greatly appreciated. Ab, feel free to
give my email out.
Thanks for your time.
We'll forward emails. Ab.
what a small world. I need to talk to you, CALL me at wytheville, we have an
engineering job open & lost your #. itd be a good foot in the door
lead fire guy for SZF
||Larry, thanks for making the letter better and more versatile. Strength in
numbers. Here's to the mailing. <clink>
Hey, KRS, we're backing you up.
(L, thanks again to you and your crew for the help on the Big Bar Cplx.)
Letter writers, additional Senator names and addresses can be found at www.senate.gov
I wordsmithed Mellies letter and sent the following to my MT and to the KY
Feel free to post or use it if it will help others from states outside of
Thanks to Mellie for the good work.
Senator <(home state senator, Bunning, McConnell of KY)>
Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
January 20, 2004
Dear Honorable ,
As a wildland firefighter I am writing on behalf of Krstopher Evans, a
fellow firefighter. Krs was a seasonal wildland firefighter on the USDA
Forest Service Plumas HotShot Crew. On 31 October 2001 he and his crew were
working a fire on the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. A tree fell;
Krs was hit and seriously injured. He is now paralyzed and confined to a
wheelchair.< I believe that you are familiar with him.( to KY
He suffered 15 broken ribs, broken left scapula and collarbone, smashed
brachial plexus, collapsed left lung, lacerated spleen, torn right posterior
cruciate ligament, concussion, and a burst fracture of thoracic vertebrae 4
and 5, damaging his spinal cord. He spent a month in the neurological ICU in
Kentucky, part of the time in an induced coma. Following surgery to
stabilize his spine, he spent 2 1/2 months in a rehabilitation hospital
Kentucky and several more months at another rehab. hospital in Colorado
rebuilding his strength and learning to get around and function
While he was in the hospital and in rehabilitation Krs' bills were paid
without issue. Since he's been on his own in California he has spent over
$8,000, out of pocket, for hospital charges medications, prescriptions,
supplies, travel for checkups, wheelchair tires, etc. To date he has
received only $360.50 due him in reimbursements from OWCP. He and his rehab
counselor have submitted reams of receipts and paperwork to OWCP to no
avail. To compound the problem, in November 2003 OWCP contracted all
reimbursement operations to a company called ACS. Working with both groups
has proven to be a nightmare for Krs.
< (to home state senators) Although Krs is not a resident of our state,
he and the Plumas Hotshot Crew assisted with fire suppression efforts in
(home state, throughout the west, country).>
< (to KY senators) Although Krs is not a resident of your state, he and
the Plumas Hotshot Crew were in Kentucky in 2001 as part of a Federal
assistance to your fire situation. He would not have been injured had he not
been in Kentucky.>
Krs was a public servant who was injured while working for the good of our
country. He should not be forgotten about nor be treated in this way.
Krs needs help to get reimbursed and to get his hospital bills paid. It is
my hope that you will support Senators Boxer and Feinstein from Krs' home
state to facilitate this.
Nice job, Larry.
Readers, please highlight this letter, copy and paste it into ms word or
some other program. Print it out and send it in on Tuesday or as soon after
that as possible. (Monday is a postal holiday.) Print out extra copies and
ask your friends and colleagues to send it in. Addresses are listed below in
To all who participate, you have our heart-full thanks. Krs deserves our
Im looking for wildland firefighters in V.A or R-8 to talk with about their
crew or agency.
Or anybody that that worked on Santa Fe I.H.C in 98/99 or anytime.
Contact me at email@example.com.
Pulaski County Fire Crew.
According the Idaho Statesman www.idahostatesman.com
the Cramer Fire report may soon be un-redacted:
Regional Forester Jack Troyer has asked his boss, U.S. Forest Service
Director Dale Bosworth, to reconsider the redactions and contact federal
Freedom of Information Act officials to figure out what changes should be
made to the report, said Joe Walsh, acting press secretary of the Forest
“Our intent is to be open and honest about what the investigation has
found,” Walsh said Tuesday from Washington. “What concerns us is there
was so much redacted, it doesn't fit our intention to be open and honest.”
One place to start is the multiple places where they whited-out only two
letters as either a subject or an object of a sentence. I've been left to
wonder whether the person making decisions and being reported to was the
"IC" or, I guess, it could possibly be "Ed"?
There are some really informative parts of the report. Appendices C and D
were left alone by the FOIA folks. There is a good explanation of the fire
behavior/weather and the conditions at H2 and the fatality site to tell us
how this tragedy happened. We still don't know why.
Perhaps you can add this to the quotes page: from Norman MacLean's account
of Mann Gulch in Young Men and Fire: "The fire didn't have
||Sorry, just another quick post to "A little different
What were you trying to say.... I got confused..... You supported, you
opposed, you supported......... I think you confused everyone........
What the hell was your real position? You confused most of us.
Are you from the WO of the Federal Agencies?
Before you spout off numbers and percentages, make sure they correlate with
officially FOIA..able documents..... don't waste your time if you are just
trying to make a claim without documentation.
||Hey, wanted to throw my two cents in on DF's e-mail on 01-13-04.
It was concerning the press stuff on fires. To the best of my knowledge
the press, at least in So. Cal., has complete freedom on the fire unless...
1) They interfere with OPS. on the fire (So this is pretty broad) and
2) If its a crime scene. Other than that as far as PPE goes, well its up to
Just another face on the fire
||<sore fingers> but this is worth a comment:
"Having gone thru numerous brands (boots and beers, both!!) I have
my favorites, but have long ago given up trying to convince others of my
wisdom in making these important decisions!"
Aberdeen is intriguingly annoying; plus has provided many chuckles during
stressful times - Thank You !
This is a great story for anyone in the field to hear www.nationalgeographic.com/firecall/
Please post it somewhere. Thanks
We first saw and shared this link back in 2000 when it was brought to
our attention. It is linked on our Education
Page, but truth be told, I was a little dismayed the skull fragment in
the eyeball comment was included in the story. However, I think we can all
agree with old Norbert about how addictive it is! Ab. (only two marriages
lost to fire)
||Here's the letter I wrote for KRS to my CA Senators and, with
modification, to the two Senators from Kentucky. My extended family members
and friends are also sending variations on this letter. We will mail them on
Tuesday, January 20. I hope many others of you will join us. (Firechick,
I'll send you the word version.)
Feel free to copy and paste and modify this letter I've written.
If you send a letter to the KY senators, be sure and remind them that KRS,
although he is not their constituent, would not be in the situation he's in
if he hadn't gone to fight fire in their state. He doesn't deserve this
Senator Jim Bunning
818 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Senator Mitch McConnell
361-A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Does anyone know which Senators oversee OWCP? I would also send the letter
to them if I knew who they were.
<Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510>
<Senator Diane Feinstein
Attn: Morgan Galli
One Post St, Suite 2450
San Francisco, Ca 94104>
<Your own address>
January 20, 2004
Dear Honorable <Barbara Boxer or Diane Feinstein or Jim Bunning or Mitch
I am writing on behalf of Krstopher Evans, one of your constituents and a
<friend, acquaintance, fellow firefighter>. He was a wildland
firefighter on the USDA Forest Service Plumas Hotshot Crew, Plumas National
Forest, CA. On October 31, 2001 he was with his crew "mopping up"
on a fire on the Daniel Boon National Forest in Kentucky. A tree fell, Krs
was hit and was <critically, seriously, gravely, etc> injured.
Krs had 15 broken ribs, broken left scapula and collarbone, smashed brachial
plexus, collapsed left lung, lacerated spleen, torn right posterior cruciate
ligament, concussion, and a burst fracture of thoracic vertebrae 4 and 5,
damaging his spinal cord and resulting in paralysis. He is confined to a
wheelchair. He spent a month in the neurological ICU at the University of
Kentucky's Chandler Medical Center, part of the time in an induced coma.
Following surgery to stabilize his spine, he spent 2 and a half months in
the Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington, KY and several more
months at Craig Hospital in Denver, CO rebuilding his strength and learning
to get around and function on his own.
Krs' bills were paid while he was in the hospital and in rehabilitation.
However, since he's been back in California, he has received only $360.50 of
the more than $8000 due him in reimbursements from OWCP. He and his rehab
counselor have submitted reams of receipts and paperwork for medications,
wheelchair tires, and travel for checkups, to no avail. To compound the
problem, on November 15, 2003 OWCP contracted all reimbursement out to a
company called ACS (http://owcp.dol.acs-inc.com/portal/main.do), which
operates via the ACS Medical Bill Processing Portal. Working with both
groups has been a nightmare.
Krs needs some help to find out how to get reimbursed and to get his
hospital and radiology bills paid. I hope you or someone from your office
can act as a liason with OWCP and ACS. Krs was a public servant who was
injured while working for the good of our country. He should not be treated
in this shabby way by OWCP. When you receive Krs' letter requesting
assistance, I hope you will act to help streamline his healthcare
My message was not a slam, just a little poke at ya!
Relax, no harm meant!
||I would rather breakfast wrap my Nicks so they are easy to remove for the
airport screeners than have to make a stop somewhere to get a pair of Irish
Setters or Georgia boots to get through an assignment. Not much of a hassle
to put up with versus the alternative of lost or stolen bags.
||The discussion over the best boots (White's versus Nick's) is really a
narrow slice of the firefighter preference pie. Let's get down to the most
important decisions we have to make: Chevy, Ford or Dodge?? Bud Light, Coors
or Moose Drool? MacDonalds, Burger King or Arbys? And the 9 (no, make that
8) choices we have for the Democrat nominee for Commander-in-Chief!
Having gone thru numerous brands (boots and beers, both!!) I have my
favorites, but have long ago given up trying to convince others of my wisdom
in making these important decisions!
||Southern Ranger and JR,
I threw away my copy of the Peter Principle book when they made me captain.
As I recall the basic rule is that within any organization, "people
the level of their incompetence." One of the addendums is that people
then actually promoted one step beyond their incompetence level, so that
their superiors can show that the earlier promotion wasn't a mistake.
Perhaps this explains why some people get their next taskbook so quickly
after a new qual.
Anyhow, surely they'll hurry up and make me battalion chief any day now.
Haw Haw. Ab.
||Excuse me Captain Emmett. GET OVER IT. If I had to drink a beer and take
asprin everytime some called me the US Forestry Service I probable wouldn't
be here anymore.
Yes, I wear shorts, river sandals, tank top, and a fanny pack when I go to
the airport. The rest is packed inside my rappel gear bag, I.A. gear bag,
and red bag. I've had to remove my boots several times before one boarding
before and it sucked. And be forewarned that you may still be hassled for
residue from fusees on baggage checked through, but I have no problem with
them going through everything, as long as I don't have to be there. It might
also help to do as I do and be liberal with the attached tags which notify
everyone who handles my bags that I am a firefighter.
Hope this helps.
NCBrush6, Ab sent your hotmail acct the url for the packshack. If they
were on our Classifieds
(business links) page it would be so much easier for firefighters to
find them. Same with all those boot companies. Anyone who wishes to place a
classified or job ad, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
||With all of the discussions and insights into the Cramer Fire
Investigation, please remember that
there are friends, family and fellow firefighters that haven't, and may
never be able to bring themselves
to read the report. It has been a very difficult six months for alot of
people, and unless you are
directly involved in such a tragedy, its aftermath can never actually be
understood. Please keep
everyone in your prayers, and in all of the arguing, don't lose sight of the
realness of the loss of
our friends and fellow firefighters.
||Beigefoot and FMRr6er,
Just to balance things out, I'll never go back to Whites after wearing
Nicks! A much more personal fitting, unlike the "get them in and get
them out" fitting at the Whites shop. Add to that, two pairs of Whites
that were improperly repaired at their facility, I'll support Nicks over
P.S. Bear, right about subject matter.
This looks like a good we page, and also has information on the burnover in
||The Jobs page,
wildland firefighter job series 0462
and 0455 have been
" One problem I see in the fire community is having folks move up
the fire quals ladder too quickly. Only one or two assignments, and then
on to the next level. If your familiar with the Peter Principle, where
your skills meet your level of your incompetence, that's where we run into
" In my experiences, these situations are the exception rather than
the rule. These folks have more ego than common sense and thankfully most
fire folks can pick them out of a crowd quickly."
Southern Ranger said it right!!!
I agree totally. I think this is the single biggest flaw in the current
qualification system. When I was made a "sector" boss (a long time
ago) I would not have been considered for "division" boss training
for at least two years as a functioning, journeyman sector boss. I had to
gain experience and prove my current qualification before being considered
for training assignments. Now it seems as soon as you gain a qualification
you get a new task book and resume the training assignments. Not true in
every case but an all too common generalization???
I also agree that the "fast trackers" stand out, but all too often
it is because they are in a position of responsibility and it is their
faulty decision making that exposes them. Unfortunately the consequences of
their poor decisions have already occurred. Waste, inefficiency or hazard
are the result. We all have seen the difficulty inherent in trying to remove
or, at least negate, these people.
Training is great but training AND experience are the best. I feel the
training portion of the equation is currently grossly exaggerated.
||I too was miss- led by a fellow FF to "abandon" my Whites and
try a pair a Nicks.
Not a wise choice. The heel had problems, soles were coming off, and they
biggest "smile " in the toe I have ever seen. I could put my
fingers from the outside
to the inside of the boot at one point. Im sorry I strayed from Whites that
Never again!! My advice would be to stick with the Whites. But then there is
different strokes for different folks.
||Good Morning! In the message with the pic of Hawk and Johnny, John is now
the Forest FMO. Circa about Oct. of last year. Too bad about Hawk leaving
Butte, he's a great fireman and just a damn fine person. I first met him in
he instructed a couple of fire classes at Butte College. Arson Investigation
I edited the post. Ab.
does anyone know how i can get a hold of the packshack corp. i have a pack
from the and been using it for 5 years . i like to rebuild is.. also has
anyone had a problem in airports when on the way to fire jobs.2 years ago
they swabed my line gear and got all upset that it tested pos for powder or
somesort.. it turned out to be from fuseees.. i now will go to the airport
in sandles, shorts, and tanktop.. at one airport i had take off my boots 4
times...... thanks ncbrush6
We haven’t been the DIVISION of Forestry for more than 25 years! Please
it right, it’s the California DEPARTMENT of Forestry and Fire Protection,
I can compare that Division thing with California newspapers that call us
“California Department of Forestry and Fire PREVENTION”.
Whew….. I’m ok now; I’ll quietly go and watch TV, have a beer and an
Far be from me to offer my lowly opinion, but in regards to Neptune's post
about boots, and after having owned a pair of Nick's after being convinced
by a friend to abandon my tried and true relationship with White's boots,
and several blisters and loud complaints about the breakin period of the
@#$$%$ Nicks products....IMHO<snicker> I think I'll recommend the
White's....I will wear Nick's again...after I get a pic published on the
cover of Wildland Firefighter Magazine and get a free pair.
and now for something completely different.....
Ab, do you remember the hoorah about having dedicated all-risk IMT's last
year...someone was listening...here's the link... www.usfa.fema.gov/inside-usfa/media/2004releases/011504.shtm
FEMA announced a training "roadmap" for the nation's fire and
emergency services that wish to develop local and regional/metropolitan
interesting concept...let's see if they can make it work
Stay Safe everyone....and its time to start walking for the pack
test....just around the corner woohoo!!!
||Attached is a picture
of Chief John Hawkins (right), Butte RU and FMO
John Gay, Plumas N.F. (left). The Plumas honored Chief Hawkins at a
presented a plaque for his efforts towards Cooperative Fire Management
between the California Division of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S.
Forest Service. After 30 years on the Butte Unit, John Hawkins is moving to
a new assignment in southern California. The Riverside Ranger Unit should
feel honored to be receiving John Hawkins.
IHC has an Assistant Supt vacancy.
I also posted the announcement on the jobs page.
||To bad "you pulled the plug years ago" You miss out working
with all us District Rangers who actually have great fire
quals. We're not as rare as you might think. I truly live
for my assignments each year as Crew Boss/Strike Team Leader
and have a well worn shovel handle to prove it. There are
those of us who actually want to be IC's and other leaders
in the fire stage, who respect not only fire but the
responsibilities and accountability that goes with it.
One problem I see in the fire community is having folks move
up the fire quals ladder too quickly. Only one or two
assignments, and then on to the next level. If your
familiar with the Peter Principle, where your skills meet
your level of your incompetence, that's where we run into
In my experiences, these situations are the exception rather
than the rule. These folks have more ego than common sense
and thankfully most fire folks can pick them out of a crowd
On a fireline, I don't care if your a GS-3, GS-12, or a
GS-OhMyGod, I don't care if a GS-5 Strike Team or a GS-7
Division Sup is telling me what to do. I'm looking to make
sure you know your stuff and will follow accordingly.
The Forest Service of old is gone, and is a vastly different
place from the 20 years ago when I started. A lot more
managers didn't come up through the ranks, but there are
specific fire leadership trainings out there for line
officers not directly involved in fire, that are required.
This doesn't make them experts but education like one post
said, is essential. I believe Line Officers have to be
responsible when warranted. That has been a fault of the FS
for many, many years - lack of accountability. A good line
officer has to know a lot of things and the most important
one is their weak points.
I thank goodness that I came up through the ranks as a GS-3
marker to my Ranger position now. I proudly consider myself
a crusty old-timer that I used to make fun when I started as
a rookie professional. This crusty old-timer ranger will be
in the fire circle till I drop.
I figure you were generalizing some and have worked with
alot of good line officers on the lines but your post
tripped a little on one of my nervy things.
||Food for thought,
When it comes to centers, units, bases, districts, how do
they manage for Work/Rest and length of assignment? They set up schedules,
rotations, back filling, coverage staffing plans, etc... and they do it
internally as part of their responsibility for providing a specific
service. Relate this to the supply/demand issues surrounding Incident
Management Teams and it brings up something to consider. Think about what
it would be like to assign the same service expectation upon IMTs or other
teams for that matter. Now you could spend a lot of time debating the
to's" but avoid that for just a minute and just think of the positives.
Besides, there are a lot of extremely talented and high paid individuals on
those teams that can work out the process. The big one for me is the
retention of corporate knowledge throughout the life of the fire. The
elimination of large scale transitions and the associated interruption of
If you have three fires that overlap each other over a three week time
period, how many teams do you end up putting in motion before the fires are
completely wrapped? Depends on a lot factors but it is easy to say that it
won't just be three.
||not to nitpick, but in regards to JUST ANOTHER HAS
BEEN's post, wasn't there a discussion a while back
about fireline experience among the higher ups.
Someone pointed out that many of the regional
foresters, foresters, dc folks DO have pretty
extensive fire backgrounds.
i know that the point being made is that all district
rangers, etc. should have good fire experience. but
also consider the job of the district ranger: do we
demand that they have good biology experience as well?
or good timber experience? many of these folks have
to be "jacks (or jills) of all trades." to expect that
they all have good fire experience seems to me to be a
its tough because this is our job, and often peoples
lives depend on the decisions made by folks who aren't
fire people. but i don't know that fire experience
per se is to blame - maybe a lack of understanding of
fire and an unwillingness to learn.
maybe its that they've never been taught! sometimes
we, as fire professionals, do a bad job of letting
people know what we do. sometimes we form our own
little fire community that has little to do with the
day to day operations of the forest. often times
we're not in the office, and when we are, we sometimes
come back dirty, smelly, and telling tales that to an
outsider seem incomprehensible. that people don't
know what our job is like isn't a surprise, do we know
what a biologist does and why?
maybe we need to meet people halfway -
||Although I agree with several of the points that JUST ANOTHER HAS BEEN
alludes to about the "modern" work force analogy - however; I
with the general assumption that those in WO positions (especially) FIRE -
having not ever being on the fireline or "on the end of a shovel."
You can pick out of the top tiers of Fire and Aviation Management and
you'll fight 100's of years of seasoned experience combined with management
organizational skills, based on bring on thousands on fires - of all kinds
- both in aviation and ground fire. Just go down the roster to see who were
hot-shots, career smokejumpers, pilots, Forest Staff Officers, FMO's.
ADFMO's etc. Please do make that assumption that the last bastion of
leaders are gone. These are some of the remaining veterans from the 50's,
60's and 70's - program leaders who are trying so hard to salvage the
program to keep the field units running. DO NOT confuse them with the
politically appointed Line Officers. -- they are two different animals. IF
they let experience run the programs, a lot of B.S. would disappear. It's
the politically correct high roller line officers (without the field
experience) that are calling many of the shots. If Fire and Aviation was
left to itself - in credo it would be light years ahead; politically - it
would be dead - and therefore - of no help to anyone.
Why do you think firefighting is being looked at by other departments?
Defense, Homeland Security, --- pay attention out there please - if you
have not been there, please don't whine about it - A lot of good people are
putting their careers on the line for the ground firefighter. Take up the
issue with your Human Resources leaders who strive for "equity."
know, all things being equal......"
A little different Perspective
||Lobotomy for the most part I agree with you about line officer oversight
of the fire program.
The federal agencies have run (yes run) away from hiring folks that are
trained to manage natural resources including fire in favor of hiring the
new generation ologists. This resulted in the agencies hiring a management
group which refuses to fight fire, are afraid of it, or for that matter
simply dislike fire folks.
You suggest that a fire series would solve alot of that, well I am
ambivalent about that one. Because somewhere, the fire organization still
needs to tie back to a line officer -- be it a Ranger, Forest Sup. District
Manager, State Director, Regional Forester or on up to DC. Take a look at
the people sitting in those chairs! How many have even had a shovel in their
hands, let alone fought fire? I am not talking about them having been a
training officer or some other camp slug job but actually having dragged
hose, cut line and fought fire, had the crap scared out of them enough to
know when the stuff is about to hit the fan!
Years ago (like the 50s and 60s) to be a district ranger, a person had to
have fire experiences and quals and ya they were college boy foresters, but
let me tell ya there were lots of junior foresters eating smoke, pukeing
snot and fighting fire with the temp crews. Thats how they learned and
became good at it. NOT TODAY! They want to go home everynight and sleep in
their own beds with their personal warming device. These new managers tend
to hire people to fill their fire jobs with people like themselves, thus
diluting the skills pool. Lots of these are "yes men" and
"women" who wont rock the boat because, for the most part alot,
not all, havent paid their dues and learned from the ground up. Many of
these people have been in fire jobs and taken the easier softer way -- so
now they sit in the leadership? chair with out the depth of experience to be
Used to be that fire quals were required in order to promote from driver to
captain to ADFMO to DFMO to Asst Forest FMO. To be a Forest FMO you had to
have line and fire experience. That all got bunched in the efforts for
consent decree and "ability to obtain" replaced it. Line Officer
oversight is desperately needed as well as leadership in "senior fire
staff" at the forest levels. In the twilight of my career I was blown
away by the lack of skills and knowledge of a very high percentage of the
"senior fire leadership" of most every unit I visited. At least
the Forest Service has two strong experienced fire guys in DC right now. Too
bad it doesnt flow down to the district levels. Big part of why I pulled the
plug a couple years ago.
Just my perception and some folks aint going to like it but if the shoe
JUST ANOTHER HAS BEEN
Never a "has been". Thanks for your contributions to the
||To vfd cap'n,
Again, I'm sorry for any mis-reading of your intentions. And I should
mention that since I last wrote I found a couple places where the redaction
made it really hard to follow what happened - especially in the findings on
Management Oversight in the Factual Report and #2 of the Causal Factors in
It's occurred to me that one of the reasons the files for the report are so
huge is that they are scanned images. Essentially they are images of the
report, and images make for large files. Adobe Acrobat files can be read
directly from the document files, and then they are a combination of text
and imagry, and much smaller. But I guess the FS redacted the report by
hand, then scanned that into a pdf file, rather than electronically read the
document into pdf. You can tell the difference when you do a word search in
Acrobat - if a pdf file is read directly from the original document file,
then the text will show up for the search function. If the search doesn't
work, then the whole file is a scanned image...and huge. I could be wrong,
but that's what I think.
Wow, those are some old reports you have - they have to be really
interesting. (A side note: From what I've seen, reports these days have a
lot better information and conclusions in them than used to be. Times have
I was thinking about some way of making the old reports available to
everyone. Ab was kind to mention that perhaps they could be hosted here,
but the scanned files would be huge. It occurred to me that maybe it would
be better to offer the reports up to the Lessons Learned website:
That would alleviate bandwidth and large file storage issues for this site.
And it might be a good fit with the mission of the Lessons Learned center.
They seem to be pretty comfortable with putting all sorts of huge files on-
line. I might contact them about it. Would you be interested in lending
your documents to them? Email me if you are.
Re the cause of the size of the pdf files: That's what I was trying to
get at in the post you misunderstood. If they had used the original word
file and redacted that electronically, then electronically saved the report
to pdf (rather than scanning the hard copy redacted file) it would be much
much smaller and more available to all.
As far as archiving the old reports at the Lessons Learned website, that's
an excellent idea, especially since people GO to that site looking for that
kind of information. It would good to have it available there to document
the history of wildland firefighting as well. Do you want to give Dave a
call? (I think he knows how to do the pdf side of it to keep the files as
small as possible.)
||Whoa there, IAFFTR.
White's Boots is NOT "out of Seattle".
Never has been, never will be. Spokane is where they're from, and is about
as far removed from Seattle as Constantinople when it comes to politics,
socio-economic dynamics and climatology. I try not to let a lot of
"They Said" issues push my buttons, but when someone tries to
claim an Intermountain West working-class tradition for the WetSide
liberals, hang on.
White's actually started in St. Maries, ID, an early 1900's logging
epicenter (and home to the 1910 Firefighter's Circle - shameless plug for
Memorial Page), and then moved to Spokane. Having got that out of my system,
and having NEVER owned a pair of White's, my advice to Phil is to buy a pair
of Nick's, a better boot IMHO. Oh, and also made in Spokane.
||Phil (and others applying for federal jobs):
Make sure that when you fill out applications online
that you are careful to check your application for
mistakes. I just spent half an hour on the phone
trying to rectify a mistake I submitted. Because of
this, I probably won't even be considered for a job
that I am qualified for. Don't mean to scare you but
heads up when filling out online applications - once
the computer sorts you out, it is almost impossible to
Should've known better -
||Some answers for Phil:
Your Q: Do you think I have the right sort of qualifications to be hired as
a seasonal firefighter.
A : Phil you are not only off to a great start with the qualifications you
have, you have what appears to be what is really needed for this job and
that is alot of heart....
Your Q : My other question is a little bit simpler. Basically, if hired,
what would I be expected to show up with in terms of gear? What sort of
A : Driver's lic., hiring information, watch w/second hand; belt and pocket
knife. For your war bag you will need the basic stuff ie : socks, underwear,
t-shirts, a pair of shorts, pants, and your hygiene bag. If you are on any
medication bring that as well and advise your captain. You are entitled to
carry 55 lbs of weight with your war bag and gear a combined weight of 55
lbs, if this is still standard. When you arrive you will be given a full
orientation of your station the agency and what is expected of you as an
employee. As far as the boots go, a majority go with whites a company out of
Seattle WA an excellent boot. I feel they are the best bang for your buck.
These boots can also be purchased at your local boot shop for about 340.00
dollars. Tell them you are a firefighter and most places will give you a
discount. Oh yeah for the money have them throw in laces and a can of boot
oil. Log on to some of ABs links and do some searching on what most Hot
Shots are carrying in their bags and what boots are required.
Your Q : Lastly, what about the starting dates of the various fire seasons.
I don't graduate until the end of may really, and I sort of got the
impression that in many places the fire season begins in the start of may,
is this true everywhere?
A : We take students all the time and we allow them to finish their
schooling. Most Captains will work with you and will wait. As far as the
season goes, we bring on seasonals around the end of May and early June, so
you have time. My suggestion to you would be to determine your interest
geographically and start making some interest contacts with station captains
and forest Battalion Chiefs and let them know you are interested in a
position. Introduce yourself and if time allows go and visit the forest to
determine if this is the place for you.
Phil, I wish you the best of luck on your new voyage, and want to thank you
for considering the US Forest Service as an Employer. We are the ones that
would be lucky to get a well defined and educated employee such as yourself.
May your journey be on the wing of an Angel and may your path be smooth and
See you on the fireline,
||Hey, The Meat,
Someone is interested in one of your photos and I don't have your email addy
on my laptop. Drop me an email and I'll put you in touch.
I think you may have the quals it takes to be a seasonal firefighter.
I've seen some with less. Did u have any wildland fire experience on
the trail crew? I know when I worked for a trail crew we were sometimes
used on fires if needed. If you find the forest that you want to work
for, contact the Crew Sup of whatever crew you want to work with, then
just let them know your situation. If you keep in contact with the
Captain or whoever is in charge of hiring for the crew then it is a
possibility that they will keep that spot open until you get there. If
you get everything in on time. Fire seasons do normally start sometime
in May, but most crews are willing to work around school, within
reason. You might even want to check with your school to find out if it
would be possible to finish early. I've done that before too. You need
to get a pair of 8" leather boots with a vibram sole. It doesn't really
matter what brand, just whatever feels right for you. My suggestion is
just to start calling your contacts now. Get in touch with them and
keep in touch. That way when your name shows up on the list, it sticks
Take a look on the Classifieds Page for boot links. Ab.
Though I've never been on a crew other than being a Call Firefighter for
LACoFD, I can tell you that you have more than enough qualifications to get
hired as a seasonal wildland firefighter. All of them will look extremely
good on a resume. Just be sure to list them all and to apply as early as
possible when the jobs vacancies are posted. I know CDF is hiring right now
and USFS will be hiring at the end of this month. Also BLM is hiring right
now and their first round cut-off is in two days (1/16/04) you can apply
online at https://jobs.quickhire.com/scripts/doiff.exe.
As far as boots go I've heard nothing, but good things from Nicks Boots,
White's Boots, Drew's Boots and also Hathorn's Boots. Best of luck to ya
I thought there were 18 watch out situations, so which 5 are not?
||I've sat back for awhile reading the posts on the Cramer Fire
Fatalities..... They have stirred similar thoughts in the past.
I'm still a little bit confused. I understand that mistakes were made, but
once again I feel that the "Agency" is pointing blame in the wrong
Who had overall responsibility for the Cramer, 30 Mile, and South Canyon
Fires? The Federal Land Management AGENCIES did!!! Any attempt to direct
them elsewhere should be avoided.
I'm not going to harp on the individual reports, just a re-occurring theme.
Archaic policies and procedures have continued into the 21st century
resulting in dangers to the wildland firefighters and the public. Two basic
things have come up in all three reports.
Lack of Line Officer Oversight
How can a line officer be held accountable for the oversight of a fire
management program when they have, in most cases, FAR LESS wildland fire
experience and education than the people they are providing oversight to.
How can an agency hold a line officer accountable for something that they
have not been trained to do. It would be the same as holding a wildland
firefighter accountable for managing a timber sale or road inventory
This is another example that there needs to be a wildland fire series and
management oversight directly related to wildland firefighting. This
wildland fire program needs to go from top to bottom GS-2 through GS-15 and
How come we (federal land management agencies) are going to a 0401 series
for fire managers as a "30 Mile" abatement action item? Can you
show me how many "upper division" courses are directly related to
the SAFETY AND WELFARE OF FIREFIGHTERS in Forestry, Natural Resources,
Biology, or Range Management degrees? .... the agencies some how think more
classes on dendrochronology, planar lansects, and advanced plant
identification are CRITICAL to performing as a wildland firefighter and
wildland fire manager. I disagree.
I say that experience and education in FIRE SCIENCE and WILDLAND FIRE
SCIENCE, supplemented by experience and education in public administration,
fire service administration, business administration, business management,
safety and health management, and countless other degrees are more relevant.
How does a degree is Forestry or Biology make you a MANAGER?....
Extensive education and experience in your field makes you a manager.... but
wildland firefighters currently do not have an occupational field..... at
least the agencies and OPM say so.
As long as we continue to think that Foresters, Natural Resource
Professionals, and Range Conservationists can run and manage a WILDLAND FIRE
PROGRAM, we will continue to have accidents and fatalities.
Don't get my post wrong, we still need an interdisciplinary approach to
issues and management of our wildland areas with input from other
specialties such as Forestry, Range, Botany, Biology, Hydrology, and others.
WE JUST NEED SPECIALIZED INPUT FROM THE PROFESSION OF WILDLAND FIREFIGHTING.
Right now, there is NO profession of wildland firefighting, That's where we
Back to the Basics
Each firefighter must adhere to the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders. Each
firefighter must mitigate any of the 13... yes 13 "Watch Out"
situations before proceeding in fire suppression. Each firefighter must
maintain LCES. .... Pretty Simple.
My interest is not to encourage the "naming of names" in the
Cramer Fire report. I'm just frustrated at the extra effort being required
of me to read, learn from and share this report.
You proved my point about cut-and-paste: you were able to quickly do that
from the Q&A document (available in both .pdf and Word formats) and
include the pertinent info on redaction in your reply. That feature is not
now open to us for the summary, narrative and findings section of the
By the way, I was able to piece together that what happened at 8:20 a.m.
July 22nd, (see my earlier post) was that several people departed in
helicopter H-193 for a recon flight. It was during that flight, among other
things, that "they" chose the location for the H-2 helispot and 2
safety zones. The placement of H-2 and selection of safety zones (that
really weren't) are key to what later happened. (Even here, I can't readily
check my facts by doing a text search of "mid-slope" to find out
exactly how that term was mentioned in relation to H-2.)
My point here is that the recon flight was not a minor event in all of this.
That flight is clearly one of the holes that lined up with the other
"swiss-cheese" layers in the model of how tragedies like this
Unfortunately with all the white-out, the report itself sort of reads like a
piece of swiss-cheese, leaving the reader to fill in the holes.
||I've read as much as I can on your website, with intense interest.
I found the 'Firefighter Suggestions - For Those Wanting to Become a
Wildland Firefighter' section. It answered a lot questions I couldn't figure
out for myself.
I do have some questions, I hope you have the time to answer them.
My circumstances: I'll graduate from a 4 year college in May. I've done 2
summers of trail crew work. I feel pretty confident running a Chainsaw. I've
gotten wilderness first aid, CPR and Chainsaw training from the trail crew
Aside from the fact that you've never met me, do you think I have the right
sort of qualifications to be hired as a seasonal firefighter?
My other question is a little bit simpler. Basically, if hired, what would I
be expected to show up with in terms of gear? What sort of boots?
Lastly, what about the starting dates of the various fire seasons. I don't
graduate until the end of may really, and I sort of got the impression that
in many places the fire season begins in the start of may, is this true
Thank you and I hope you have time to answer my questions.
||The Future of the National Interagency Incident Management Organization OR
Well, where is NIIMO?
Take a look at this powerpoint
(small, only 376 K) that was presented at the BLM Fire Leadership Team
Meeting a few weeks ago. It lists info on membership turnover and attrition,
addresses issues and concerns and presents a number of alternative models
for the incident management organization.
||BLM Bob, some of us have a few more senior moments than others..... just
kidding my friend.... Keep it civil (lol)... you know I have some senior
moments also.... even though I'm a spring chicken compared to you......
I have some copies of fatality reports from the 1950's , 1960's, and 1970's
..... All are SoCal fires...... Including the Decker, Loop, and Mack fires
.... they all have "some" editing done to protect the privacy of
individuals...... Each has some continuing underlying factors that continue
From each of these, lessons are to be learned that seem to repeat themselves
year after year, decade after decade, century after century. These lessons
are the "basics" and the "management" of fires. Many of
these things were addressed in the original "Safety First" study.
Somehow, after 30 years of studies, many of these changes have never been
Maybe Ab would be willing to dedicate a page for the wildland fire fatality
and injury reports.... It might be a little too much on bandwidth.......
Many of the reports come out on PDF since they have to be scanned in since
they are so old......
Seems like a possibility. Ab.
||So much for the censoring in the report. The full report should be
available to all.
The media is having a frenzy. I added a Cramer Fire category to the
Current Events section of the Fire
News page. (While you're on the fire news page, for some lighter
activity, click the banner link of our new sponsor and take a trip to the
Alan Simmons Fire Video page.) Ab.
||Okay, okay - I had a senior moment. I was reading the complaints about the
redacting of the Cramer report and thought that your proposal to publish the
report was part of all that. Sorry for the confusion.
But cut me a little slack - I didn't make any comments or even hints that I
don't believe everybody in the world should have the report. And don't go
pulling that "lonely firefighter struggling against the big
world" thing on me - I *invented* that...and it was a long time ago,
after the invention of dirt.
The report files are huge - too huge for easy access. My highspeed T1 line
connection at work wouldn't even work trying to download the report at work
last night - I think some of the delay people are experiencing may be due to
demand on the site. But size matters, so I suggest that everyone (like
FMOs, crew supes and bosses, etc) with a fat internet connection download
it, print it, and circulate it. Crewmembers should be able to get it from
And if you can get an html version on-line, bless you, but I think people
ought to get their hands on the pdf version at some point.
One last thing; you know it's only been less than five years since the first
investigation report was published on-line in 1999. We shouldn't take it
for granted. It used to often be really, really hard to get your hands on
reports. I've got some rare original ones like the 1976 Battlement Creek
fire and the 1983 Mound House fire. The reports are so much better
distributed now than back in the day. Talk about hard for the youngsters
and groundpounders to get the information. We should be glad for the
progress made there.
Yeah, we know you invented the "lonely firefighter struggling
against the big bureaucratic world" thing, right after you invented
dirt, fire and firefighters. <haw><haw> As far as the size of
the documents, I wonder if the snips were handled a different way and then
converted from word to pdf it would make the files smaller? If so, it should
Say, as far as the two hardcopy reports you have... Could we borrow and scan
them and put them into... hmmm, -pdf- ... for history's sake? <haw
||The Jobs page,
wildland firefighter job series 0462
and 0455 have been
||BLM Bob, you did misunderstand me. I wasn't proposing to post names, just
grousing about download speed, knowing Ab could fix it if he had time and
wondering at all the non-name snips the report had in it.
Ab, you know that someone will be putting those names out in the media.
Journalists don't worry about protecting anyones privacy. In fact some
opportunistic journalists make their own reputations on the backs of
wildland firefighter tragedies. That and blaming the agencies. (I'm not
talking about our few brother journalists who have worked on and with shot
crews. They seem to have a more realistic view.) Maybe the reason that some
words besides names were left out of the report is because once the names
hit the media the report would become too personal.
What a sad situation, that we lost comrades and that people who made
mistakes (for whatever reason) will have to live with it for the rest of
||To vfd cap'n and Todd,
I hope you read the Q&A from the web site, but in case you didn't, it
addresses your concerns on the redaction (snipping/whiteout). It says:
Q. Why are the Accident investigation Factual Report and Management
Evaluation Report redacted? This is the first time redaction has been
A. We have every intention of being open and honest about what this
investigation found and what we intend to do about it. However, we must also
comply with requirements to protect individual privacy under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act. Under FOIA there is a balancing
test between the public’s right to know and the individual’s right to
privacy. The redacted report represents agency’s best effort to balance
these two needs.
I think you (and Ab) should think long and hard before publishing names or
information that would directly identify individuals here on the web. I'm
still reading the report, but so far I haven't found any place where I was
unable to tell what happened, at least to the extent that I need to know in
order to learn the lessons from the Cramer Fire. I may yet find somewhere
that the information is incomplete for me to understand what happened, but I
haven't so far.
Knowing the identity of the people involved doesn't seem crucial to me - I
think we just need to know enough about what happened to do what I can to
prevent a similar occurrence. I think I can pick that up from the report as
published. Like most of us here, I'm not acting in an official capacity and
I wouldn't be comfortable with thinking that it was my call to determine
what the individuals' right to privacy is, and acting on that call on the
World Wide Web.
Think twice before you expose others just because you can. We enjoy a
degree of anonymity here in They Said, and perhaps because of that we have a
responsibility to not violate that for others.
BLM Bob, O Ye of little faith! <haw> We wouldn't post names on
theysaid or fill in the blanks even if I had that information. We wouldn't
want that done to us in this forum. We never said or implied that we would
do that. Go back and read the comments. Hmm, maybe you didn't understand
what we said.
The main gripe as I heard it is this: the (secondhand) pdf format makes the
download so unwieldy that the report is fairly unavailable to some people.
Maybe you could say it is unfairly available to those with T1 or
broadband lines while being fairly unavailable to those who do not
have such access.
Theysaid has presented pdf reports before in faster-downloading html format
(like the CDF Greensheets, like some job announcements, like some other
information-rich but unwieldy pdf reports) . We believe that ALL interagency
firefighters at home or at work should be able to easily download a report
being discussed on theysaid. It's narrow minded to think that the pencil
pushers at desks with fast connections need the lessons learned to a greater
degree than the seasonals or contract crew folks who might not have access.
Did the kids who died have access to a fast computer? Do their firefighting
friends? WHO needs to be able to read this report?
IMHO, the information should be easily available TO ALL. (And knowing you, I
think you'd agree with that comment, just as I agree that maintaining
privacy is the fair thing.)
Ab. (chest puffed out, feeling every part the advocate for the youngsters,
||Jackson: The news van Chuck Henry incident is a function of the stupidity
of the California State Legislature who has not seen fit to provide
protection to the idiots behind and in front of the cameras. In California
as I found out much to my dismay, on the Cedar Fire, the news industry is
basically allowed full access to anything anywhere except an on going
criminal investigation. I am all for the First Amendment and free speech,
but when it endangers my fellow firefighters something has to be done.
On the Cedar Fire I almost had to physically restrain a news guy to keep him
from following a Sheriff’s Deputy down a one way road to investigate some
vehicle headlights that were parked down in a hole with the fire about a ½
mile away and running towards it. The news guy thought he would be ok even
though the fire spotted above the access road just after the Deputy drove
down it. The news guys had not one bit of PPE and little regard for their
own or anyone else’s safety.
Where I work news reporters have to have shelters and nomex etc., and are
almost always accompanied by an Incident Information Officer. I guess the
news reporter fatality will be the next investigation we have a hard time
downloading unless something changes. On a side note I was very close to
punching Geraldo Revara (sp) right in the face for some comments he made
while he was standing near the site of Steve Rucker’s tragedy. What a
Sorry Ab for the personal stuff take it out if you need to.
Whoever censored the Cramer Report was a bit heavy handed on the white out.
They did way more than just names. To me this is inappropriate. I don't care
who did what. but... How can we learn what not to do it we don't know what
Also, like VFD Capt, it took me hours to download. I printed it out. If I
send in a zipped scanned copy (text) of the report I printed out, do you
think you could put it in regular computer language so that everyone can
have easier access? I know it's a lot of work, but it's important to have
information such as this in accessible form. Aren't there some rules about
You could try that. My scanner is on the blink. Narrative, Executive
Summary, Findings, Appendix A and Appendix C are the most problematic for
size. Some of them also have maps and diagrams interspersed.
If the webmaster for the report site is reading this...
Please consider taking the original report, and putting in a <SNIP> or
some something to indicate that info has been left out and
then... convert the Altered Original Report into a pdf. Perhaps that would
help reduce the size of the pdf files and make them accessible to all. Ab.
The Cramer Fire 4-page executive summary finished downloading in a
blistering 1 hour 38 minutes.
Apparently they printed a hardcopy of the report, blacked out stuff they
don't want the public to see, then scanned it as an image into a .pdf file.
Because it wasn't brought in as a text file, there will be no cut-and-paste
exchange of what's in the report.
Supposedly the blanks in the text are names and titles of individuals. But
some sentences are also lacking verbs, so we not only don't know who did
what, but what it is they did. One sentence simply has: "At 0820 on
July 22, the..." and then 2 blank lines with a period at the end.
We may never know about this valuable lesson-learned from the section on
fire suppression strategies and tactics: One sentence on the 4th page has
only "The...[2 blank lines]...were not available."
Is somebody protecting the innocent or just covering their a$$es?
||Some readers might care to think beyond their "now" perspective.
To elaborate on AL's post, why not teach "inmates" a worthwhile
trade? state may get reimbursement for services rendered - good gawd, they
are not "chain gang" forced labor, it's individual choice! many
old SHOTS were once a CCC as teens - some went on to college and a less
body-stress occupation, a few are still pounding the ground in some
Ahem: "Professional" FFs - who served your cooked-to-order hot
meals in fire camp when you were dead tired from too many hrs on shift
during an urban interface major-rager? for sure it wasn't always a USFS
Home owners who witnessed efforts on the part of a correctional facility FF
crew need to speak up by writing letters to their elected officials at all
levels of gov't. especially if those FF's are your closest fire protection
resource... County's services will be cut; VFF's are gonna be on their own
to pay the gas bill for some rig. (for sure no crews can go too far off road
next wildland fire scene)
no, I don't have incarcerated family or friends; we all pay taxes or
"fees", some more than others including those who are below the
new "median" income level
I don't really understand the first paragraph of your post. Inmates are
being taught a worthwhile trade. Some in California even go to work for CDF
when they have done their time. Ab.
why don't you just get a good lawyer
I'm trying to download the sections of the Cramer Fire investigation report
from the FS website, but the file sizes seem excessively large. Maybe with
your webmaster connections (and all your abundant free time) you could
possibly find out if the "executive summary" and
"findings" .pdf files are really supposed to be 7.96 MB. The
entire report is shown as only a little over 8 megs.
On another subject....I got Cabela's latest workwear catalog in the mail
yesterday. My wife and daughter just sighed and rolled their eyes when I
read the product description for the NFPA-approved, nomex long underwear.
And, I got some really funny looks when I read to them about the Helly
Hansen "flame-resistant" rainwear.
For those of us who fight the off-season wildfires, such items could find a
place in the webgear.
I hesitate to also mention that the catalog also carries a couple different
brands of fire boots, but then again, it's been a while since the last
debate of which boots are worthy of the fireline....
I'm not sure why some parts are 8100+ KB and 4 pages and others are 8100+
KB and 22 pages. Also there's one appendix that is 25 pages and only 340 KB.
Maybe someone knows why the pdf files vary so greatly in size. I downloaded
with broadband and the downloads took one to two minutes apiece for the big
ones. My guess is that many people are downloading the report right now.
Can't imagine downloading on a dialup. Speeds will be faster outside of work
hours. Might try it then. Ab.
You will probably get this a couple of times but the Cramer Fire
Investigation has been released. The link is
http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/investigations/cramer/index.phpl. It is a
BIG file about 90 pages so takes a while to download.
For KRS has he looked into the Public Safety Officers Benefit Legislation.
I know that it was just changed but the previous version also covered
disabling injuries. Also has anyone been in touch with PEER to see if
they are willing to take any action in this case. I know they are
currently involved in the case of the US Park Police Chief who is in the
process of being fired.
We posted the live link to the Investigation yesterday. Ab.
||I may have missed this post or simply don't know of the situation, but
what exactly is Krs's
situation? Sounds like everyone on here is behind him so that makes me
believe whatever it
was wasn't his fault and I wanna help. Thanks.
Jason, What happened to Krs was not his fault. Krs was a sawyer on the
Plumas Hotshot crew. In 2001 he was hit by a falling tree in Kentucky. He
had extensive injuries and is now paralyzed and getting around in a
wheelchair. Members of this fire community know him well and reports on his
situation came in to theysaid from the beginning.
While Krs was in the hospital in Kentucky and in rehab in Colorado, the
Federal Government picked up his bills with few bureaucratic problems.
However, now that Krs is living on his own, he is having problems getting
reimbursed and getting money for his meds from Worker's Compensation. The
hospitals and medical people who provide him with critical services are not
being paid. He is in danger of being cut off from services. His credit and
good name are at risk. This is not fair.
Here's how we're going to try to remedy the situation.
On January 20 we're going to write letters to Senators of California and
Kentucky asking for their help in prodding the Worker's Comp people.
Hopefully today we can make available as a "boilerplate" a short
letter that spells out Krs' situation and what the Senators can do to help.
If people copy and paste the bare bones of the letter to a word file and
personalize it a bit, AND snail-mail it to the Senators, it could help a
great deal in getting Krs and his medical providers the reimbursement they
need and deserve.
I am told that all National Engine contracts were extended for the 04'
We received our mod letter extending ours, and the other companies I
with have received their letters as well.
The reporter that got caught in the fire near LA was Chuck Henry of NBC4.
Yes, firefighters rescued him from his van which burned, but I don't know
what agency they were from. It happened on October 28, 2003. Here's a link
to more information.
||Hi, I have been coming to this site for some time now and just wanted to
that I think its a really good site. Secondly I am an employee of the forest
on the Huron national forest i am one of 3 jacks there and was wondering if
could post something on "they said" that i am looking for a
helitack detail for this
summer. My base eights will come out of my home unit. So basically is
picks me up they get a free person for the summer. Any help would be great.
anyone is interested or can tell me where to look, here is my e mail.
||To all FFs regardless who pays your check: this may pertain to you -
although CA fiscal year is July 1 thru June 30, not most tax payer's normal
calendar year; the Federal fiscal year is Oct 1 thru Sept 30. (other states
& some special Fed funding may differ).
As AL stated, CDF faired extremely well, especially if there are no current
fiscal year cuts for overtime funding for perm staff. A cut of 4.8 temporary
help personnel years (PYs) = 8 or more positions THIS FISCAL YEAR, unless
the CA Dept of Finance changed the math again.
That might equate to ZERO CDF temp help personal years (PYs) lost this
fiscal year based on attrition; however it doesn't necessarily imply a cut
to temp hire FF PYs. - not everyone who is temp help @ CDF is a FF. Again a
big IF: if staff at CDF & the other Departments under the Resources
Agency "umbrella" pay close attention to required paper work.
What the Governor proposed is his vision of a normal "May revise"
for CA's current fiscal year budget. Don't forget, CA budget year 2003/04
ends 2359 this next June 30.
What is proposed for fiscal year 2004/05 is subject to many revisions before
Gov's mid-June final budget submittal to the legislature... The Feds do it
sorta the same. The slight difference is in CA. It's a "trailer
bill" after the state budget is passed by the legislators & becomes
chaptered legislation; the Fed stuff is a larger pork barrel.
cynical?, I think not!
||SoCal CDF. Here's more about CDF Crews.
camp closure irks area residents
At an emotional public meeting, state officials announced a Mariposa
youth correctional facility will be closed June 30 to cut state spending.
The closure faces strong opposition from many in a community that has
worked closely with the camp rehabilitating young offenders since 1957.
||An article by John Hawkins that explains what the CDF Crews do and
something about their history:
||The Investigative Report on the Cramer Fire is out.
A summary article from the Idaho Statesman:
Supervisory mistakes led to firefighter deaths
||Fire Ecology and Fire Policy:
Let's not just focus on the ecological effects of fires.
The reason fires are suppressed is not bureaucratic inertia. Fires effect
all resource values both positively and negatively and resource values
include human social values as well as biological. Experts of all
disciplines everywhere now agree wildlands are more than eco-museums and we
cannot manage them solely as such. Social, political, and economic values
are as important, or more so, than the pure biological ones.
Air quality, watershed, rural economies, recreation and tourism, land usage,
land ownership patterns, infrastructure, public safety, local government
desires and public opinion all must be factored into fire management
decisions. Focusing exclusively or even primarily on the ecological effects
is bad stewardship and bad fire policy.z
In the final analysis, fire ecologists and biologists are only one voice
in the debate. All others are equally worthy of being heard too.
||On a lighter note......
Two government employees are standing at a vista providing an excellent
view of the Grand Canyon.
Recreation Specialist: "Magnificent!"
Hydrologist: "Who's responsible for this!!!!"
Old Fire Guy
Does anyone have the contact info for the reporter that got pulled from his
newsvan on the
Old Fire? The guy got pulled out of his newsvan by an engine crew (I believe
before the van torched. He was did a report right after. I'm pretty sure the
reporter is from
the LA area. The wildland community for saved his hide and he might be
persuaded to help
Just a thought
||does anybody know if the national engine contracts are going to continue
If you have not already found it here is a link to a site that has the OWCP
There may be others but this is the one I know. One of the real jokers in
the compensation is they will not pay both a COP and a payment for the
“Schedule of Benefits” at the same time. So you get to choose one or the
A couple of additional possibilities for you to consider. If you wind up
getting a lawyer make very sure they are familiar with the FEDERAL OWCP
system. There are a lot of compensation lawyers out there who deal with
state claims and that is a completely different world. Does the FS have a
primary contact person back to OWCP? Some of the agencies do and that
person can often get things shaken loose.
Well said. We can't expect the public to learn about the complex role of
fire in the
world if we in the fire community don't educate ourselves and others. I
your message entirely.
Those in the fire restoration business try not to refer to acres burned
as "acres burned or destroyed." A better sense of realism is
the acres within the perimeter as "acres affected by the fire",
(%'s of damage according to burn pattern.)
History shows that every large fire burns in a mosaic. Recent mega-fire
review and restoration teams report damages in the "no",
or "heavy/severely impacted" category. Read a few of the
reports and you'll see.
Visit the sites in a year or less - the entire sites - and your tune will
change. (Yellowstone, anyone?)
"Acres affected - not acres destroyed." The common term is
jargonism at its finest.
Now, MEGA-WIU's - that's a real problem - evidence California 2003. --
Levels of fire intensity affect the soil in critical ways or not. Ab.
||I've beaten out my letter to Senator Feinstein's office. It's "set in
jello", as I have to check on a point or two, but all the information
to OWCP is correct.
It's a 1mb download, in Ms word format, and may be found right here:
Thanks to all-
There is a group called the "National Association of Federal Injured
Workers" out of Puyallup, WA. (Sorry but I don't have a contact).
Can anyone else fill in who might know more about them? They seem to work
the OWCP Seattle Dist. Office, over fairly heavy - so it's a place to
start. Let us all know if something comes up.
'Signed: A Friend"
||some for the quotes and aphorisms page:
"Never go into a fire with someone braver than you"-Old and
'No Good deed goes unpunished"-Me (I'm sure that I have stolen this one
someone, but time and beer have dulled the memory.)
I put the first one on the Quotes
Your usage of the words "damage fire does to the ecosystem" are
just what is wrong with the
whole public perception of fire and is the reason that we are in this mess
we find ourselves in
today. Read "Year
of the Fires: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910" to adjust your
As far a pictures of the aftermath of fires, look at http://jicfire.calmast.org/fireinfo/baer/
||For those of you planning on writing letters-
You may use any information found on my site, http://krstofer.org
and/or any information found in the accident report or news stories I have
saved at http://krstofer.org/poplar/Investigation.pdf
would be the (you guessed it) the Accident Investigation Report from October
31, 2001 (Poplar Log Fire, Redbird Ranger District, Daniel Boone National
Forest). Page11.phpl has a little column, and 2924456.php went up in the The
Lexington Herald-Leader on Sun, Mar. 24, 2002.
I hope to have my part done late tomorrow night, and will post the link as
soon as I do.
Thanks to all-
The accident report was interesting reading. Ab.
||while that "boiler plate" letter is being drafted, pls don't
forget others who have been injured and are scared & suffering -
especially those who may not have ability/resources to post here or
articulate. our collective letters & emails not only need to support
Krys, we must also notify & remind elected officials how many more WWFs
are waiting for "fair-care" ( too many WWFs were injured on the
job find themselves in a circus of red tape, if you caught my bad pun...)
||I am looking for information and especially pictures to document the
damage fire does
to the ecosystem. The large flames look cooool and exciting but I am looking
Any help would be appreciated thank you.
Original Ab would say... This isn't the right place to be looking for
anything that happens after the fire is gone. If there isn't any flame or at
least some smoke, who cares about it? Ab.
Cool planes but the priorities of our “fearless leaders” are all wrong
to ever make it happen in our lifetimes. The Prez is getting ready to start
trying to send a select few people to the Moon and from there to Mars in the
next 10 years or so. Here is some of the story. www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3910698/
We will have brand new space stations, orbiters, rockets etc. spend
ourselves into oblivion revamping NASA to try to build some national pride.
But you know what? The Airtanker Jockeys will still be flying 50+ year old
planes on fires and we’ll be riding out to the helispots in helicopters
that are almost as old.
In the mean time Krs and the rest of the bros and sisters who get hurt
trying to make a difference here on earth, are going to get nickel and
dimed, and by an agency that tries to find ways to keep them from getting
the help they need.
Call me a cynic but I just get pissed when I see how much $ we waste on
crazy space toys when we haven’t even figured out the stuff we have been
given to take care of here.
If NorCal Tom is going to set up a word document with all the info
regarding Krs injury and lack of assistance from OWCP, that's awesome.
Could you please put me on the mailing list for that?
Krs is a good friend of mine...worked with him at a ski resort in the late
80's in CA, and then ran into him again on the line in N. CA. He is an
awesome person!! It is true, this can happen to ANY of us. Krs deserves
much better treatment. I will do my best to get a lot more people involved
in the letter writing campaign on the 20th. It would be great if we could
get the "form" letter with all the details (I've got some info I'd
add myself, if it isn't already on the form) a few days ahead of time. I
plan to solicit quite a few fire folks here on my forest and within my
network of friends who may of not heard this story.
Anyhow...I am interested in helping.
Sign me.... firechic
Thanks again for the great FIRE forum!! You rock.
Got you on the list. We'll work on the draft this weekend. Ab.
||Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for the 35 cent pay raise this year. My name is
"snipped" and I am a federal wildland firefighter. I was recently
involved as an "Incident Commander" during the Southern California
wildfires, I have worked for the Federal Government for 20+ years. I am
currently a GS-09 step 5.
How can anyone below my level afford to stay with the Federal Government? I
would hate to know what the GS-7 and below levels think of their "pay
raise" that you have given them, each federal employee actually took a
PAY CUT when inflation is taken into account. How could you do this again?..
and again... and again... and again......?
Federal Firefighters once again received improvements in their pay and
benefits system, while federal wildland firefighters received none. Thank
goodness companies such as "In N Out Burger" pay more for entry
level employees and give better pay raises than those of Federal Wildland
Firefighter agencies. MAYBE "In N Out Burger" should perform an
A-76 study for wildland firefighting......
I have been a federal wildland firefighter for the last twenty years. Each
year, I am amazed that I continue to stay with the Federal Government. What
the hell am I thinking?
What are we all thinking?... obviously , we are not thinking the same. Some
of us have been thinking public safety, firefighter safety, and protection
of life and property.... I still think the same... firefighter and public
safety... but..... Obviously, the executive branch has other ideas. Congress
has even other ideas. Somewhere our goals are not meeting in the middle.
THERE SEEMS TO BE A MISSING LINK!!!!!
I will not continue to risk my life or ask others in my profession to risk
their lives for a trivial cost of living raise that does not even come close
to the inflation rate. I currently make less than 50% of the federal
government competing agencies..... Competing agencies in my area offer
better pay, benefits, and working conditions. My counterparts in the
private, state, and local sector make over twice the hourly wage I do when
compared to hourly wages and benefits.....AND receive portal to portal pay.
Our competing agencies also offer better benefits and working
Can anyone imagine why the Federal Government has recruitment and retention
Can anyone imagine why communities are now more at risk than ever near
Federal Wildland areas?
Mr. President, you ask more and more of our firefighters under Homeland
Security, but you offer less and less.... You have provided the straw that
broke the camels back......
A Professional Wildland Firefighter.......
||For those interested in CA Fire... having Arnold visit the Cedar and Old
fires may have helped him understand our and the public's needs.
Here's the location of the new CA governator's budget.
(it's a 169 page pdf document)
Looks like CDF Fire didnt do too badly. (altho Resources got cut.) Here's
The following info for FIRE is on pp48 and 49.
Major budget adjustments for 2003-2004:
Reduce 4.8 Temporary Help Personnel Years, pursuant to Control Section
4.10 Budget Act of 2003
Major budget adjustments for and 2004-05:
$740,000 for new fire shelters
$3,500,000 for Federal Trust Fund to continue funding of various
cooperative forestry assistance programs (probably for beetle kill)
$1,622,000 for Sate Emergency Telephone Number Account for acquisition of
CAD dispatching system
$200,000.00 Reimbursement for continued inmate crew expenses associated
with pre-fire projects for local agreements with Fire Safe Councils and
Resources Conservation Districts
||The Future Air Tanker?
||To wildland firefighters from California or elsewhere, why not let your
coworkers know of Krs's situation and ask for their help in letter writing
on January 20.
I think form letters are OK if there are a number of versions. There is
something powerful about hardcopies that add up to a visible stack of
letters in a Senator's inbox. Maybe key people could volunteer to make up
some letters and hand them out for coworkers to sign and send to the
Senators on Krs's list.
Krs was on the Plumas Hotshots. How about some people making a
letter-writing effort on the Plumas NF? How about putting the word out
across the country to all the hotshot crews? Besides vehicle accidents,
falling accidents take the largest number of our firefighters each year. An
accident can happen to any of us. Not getting bills paid when the Govt
should is WRONG. Let's get this FIXED!
Ab, the best form for a letter is probably a word document. I'd be willing
to create some versions of such a letter with the appropriate info on krs
and the situation. Ab, maybe those who are willing to make copies to hand
out to coworkers or crewmembers could email here? If you are willing, maybe
you could forward the word doc to them to print out, copy and hand out.
Just a thought. As somebody said, what happened to Krs could have happened
to me or my brother some years ago and I'd have wanted the support if it
||I must thank all of you who have caused things to fall from the sky and
into my mailbox. It's a good feeling to know that I am truly not forgotten.
Apparently some of you wish to write some letters. I believe that 20 January
is the "mail it" day. Here's who to contact:
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Attn: Morgan Galli
One Post St, Suite 2450
San Francisco, Ca 94104
Miss Galli has the hammer on OWCP issues, and has taken an interest in my
The Honorable Jim Bunning
818 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
361-A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Be sure to remind the Kentucky folks that had I not been helping them, I
would not be in this situation, as they may try to redirect you to your
I am in the process of preparing a letter to Miss Galli explaining the
disconnect, and asking her to look into several specific issues. When it's
done I will post it on my site, and provide the link here.
In other news, I will be contacting OWCP here shortly in an attempt to get
my entire file. We'll see how receptive they are to that request.
Thank you to all.
As time gets closer, we can provide the bare bones facts that should be
in a letter so that these Senators will recognize KRS. These facts will be
about KRS' accident and his failure to receive funding. Contributors from
Kentucky might have special power with their Senators as they are part of
their constituency. If you don't live there, do you have family or friends
there who could send a letter?
Someone suggested no form letters, but we can provide info that can be
easily incorporated or personalized to streamline the letter writing
process. The more people who write in to these Senators, the better. If
there are no kidnapped kids, mt lion maulings or other high profile news
items around January 20, maybe we could also get some of the newspapers to
pick up on KRS' story. Anyone have an in with CNN, the Today show or the
Morning Show? Ab.
||The Jobs page,
wildland firefighter job series 0462
and 0455 have been
updated. Several people have written in and asked if we would post 0401
series fire jobs with the other 2 series. Is there demand for that?
As I mentioned on Tues, there's a new contractor ad up on the jobs page.
Today I also added some fire ecology job announcements and an announcement
from the Washington DNR.
Hiring is starting to heat up.
I think the reference of the fire investigation report release date (end of
January) CDF is doing on the fatality of the Novato FD firefighter in San
Diego is probably the "long" report.
If so, this is a confidential document that contains the transcripts,
photographs, narratives, causal factors, findings and opinions of the
investigation team. There will also be recommendations for any disciplinary
action where applicable. They are recommendations only.
These confidential reports are reviewed by CDF management and are not
released or available to the public. Only the chair of the team presents the
material for management review after the team is finished with it. Novato FD
probably had a seat on the team with and OES representative.
Don't look for or expect a "Thirty Mile" or "South
Canyon" style report like the USFS completes and releases to the
public. In many respects, it is too bad CDF doesn't have a more detailed
report available, there are always lessons to be learned from tragic events.
The only official document you will see is what is called the CDF
"Green Sheet." It is a very basic summary that contains minimal
information of the event and is usually less than a half dozen pages. You
have seen all you will see on this subject in report form from the
They call them "Green Sheets" because they were originally printed
on green paper.
"Another CDF BC"
||From Firescribe but available also on the Fire News Page:
News brief from Southern California
"other communities could learn from Ventura County"
Firestorm Death Toll Climbs, Man Is 15th Victim Of Cedar Fire
If you haven't looked lately, check out the Fire
We have a new sponsor - Alan Simmons Fire Videos. Click on the
banner and it takes you to their website and the featured southern CA
firestorm of 2003. Nice website. They have a link on the Classifieds Page as
Also on the Fire News Page under "wildland fire", there's a story
of a Wyoming County that has vollie FD problems and may not have had
insurance since 1938! There are vollies from another Wyoming town that won
the Regional Forester's Honor Award, a National Fire Plan award to those
applying from the Rocky Mountain area.
If you look under "brush fire" you get a list of fire news from
Florida, Texas, NJ, SC, Hawaii, etc. Something for everyone. Ab.
||I’m not sure if this falls into the quotes category, but as Mellie said,
I was taught that “In an
emergency situation, you don’t rise to the occasion; you fall back to your
level of training.” I’d
never really believed that until I saw the heart monitor strip from the
first time I did CPR on a
real person; I wasn’t thinking about anything at all that I can recall,
and I certainly wasn’t
thinking about the depth of my compressions, but somehow my body was still
doing it right.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Let me put on my psychologist's hat for a moment...
From the AP article:
"Basically you're running for your life, you take no tools with
you," Provaznik said.
"It could be he thought he'd be needing those things later, but you
think about your
personal safety first."
Human factors research shows that in times of extreme stress, automatic
responses take over. That's why the military and wildland firefighters
spend so much time
training. Split second reactions matter. I doubt that Steve Rucker was
anything to do with his chain saw. As most of us would do, he was probably
just doing what
came automatically for him -- in this case, carrying it.
I also want to point out that knowing rationally or "in your head"
what to do under stressful
circumstances is very different than knowing somatically or "in your
body" what to do. It may
help, but if you haven't put your body through an exercise that can save
your life, you haven't
done all that you can do to "be safe".
My comments are in no way meant to disrespect Steve Rucker or his family and
My heart goes out to them and us. All of us feel his loss.
Report Details How Firefighter Killed In Cedar Fire
Rucker Tripped While Trying To Escape Flames
Assoc Press says CDF report due out the end of the month:
||I have been reading your site for a while now, and really enjoy it.
I have sent some photos for you to include if you feel they are worthy.
Attached is a file containing a photo of our dept. patch, a photo of our
"fleet" of wildland engines. They are modified CDF spec Model
15's, and a
photo of CA OES Water Tender 62 which our dept. staffs and operates. This
is a brand new WT delivered in Aug. of 2003. It immediately saw service on
a couple of small incidents, and then was sent to the Roblar Fire on Camp
Pendleton and then to the Cedar Fire. One of the type 3's in the picture
was also on the Roblar Fire, and then the Paradise Fire in Valley Center.
San Marcos FD is located in San Diego County, and we are heavily involved in
wildland fire suppression, even though we are technically "pavement
(Remember the Harmony Fire? that was in our City.)
anyway, here are the photos if you are interested.
Thanks Jay, I posted them on Engines
6 and Logo 9
photo pages. Ab.
||Alright, I've got to stop biting my lip, so to speak. I'm probably going
piss somebody off, but I guess that's okay today. I agree with what
"Batchmaster" posted yesterday. Fatalities aren't supposed to
occur, but they do. "Batchmaster" made a good analogy that its
impossible to avoid a trip without realizing you can fall. You can't leave
the relative safety of your home without the possibility of something
happening. Why drive defensively? Why take your cell phone with you? Why
carry survival gear when you venture into the woods? Why wear a life jacket
when you go rafting? Why carry a fire shelter on every fire?
Come on folks, you all know the possibility is there. You all know it will
happen again. And if you're in the business long enough it will be someone
you know. After the last two seasons I figured that out. This last one was
the worst. I spent the rest of July numbly walking around telling myself
that "this wasn't supposed to happen." I "heard" and
"saw" things that I guess were part of my own healing process. I
spent paranoid nights awake on fires thinking about what could happen,
peering out of my sleeping bag or out from under the space blanket every
hour or so to see if the "dragon" had awakened.
I don't think the fear is ever going to leave, and that's just fine. The day
I loose my sense of "what could happen" is the day I should find
another job. I've known people that have burned up, I've known someone who
is now paralyzed because of a falling snag, and I've known someone who died
when his engine rolled off a cliff. Why should I ever think that this can't
happen to me or someone on my fire, crew, district, etc? Of course every
accident is preventable. But, we are all human and humans are fallible.
I could keep going, but I think I'd better stop now.
||Can I toss a bit of semantics into the fray?
There’s a difference between a hazardous situation/job/environment and a
dangerous one. A hazardous situation is one which presents the high
potential of damage of persons or property; a hazardous situation _need not_
be DANGEROUS if approached with due respect, training (I include PPE under
the heading of ‘training’…no tool is useful unless used properly), and
caution. Example: In our structural fire training, we entered a burn
building, opened a door on a raging fire, then lay down until the heat
alarms on our SCBAs all went off (for the record, opening that door on a
solid wall of flame was one of the most frightening things I have ever
done). This was a hazardous environment; since we were wearing full PPE, had
been trained to deal with the environment, and had experienced firefighters
standing over us to make sure we didn’t freak out and do something stupid,
it was not a dangerous environment.
Wildland firefighting is inherently hazardous; we will never eliminate the
POTENTIAL for danger. But I don’t believe that any situation is inherently
dangerous. If we need to be there, we can be trained to deal with the
hazards and to keep them from becoming dangers. If we cannot keep the
hazards from becoming dangers, we don’t need to be there.
Nerd on the Fireline (thoughtfully)
Steals Fire Truck
"The Ford truck is painted blue with a white stripe, has North
Tree Fire written on
the side and California license plate NTFI 64. It’s valued at about
Strike asks judge to dismiss criminal charges
I've been trying to stay out of this one, but here goes.
Making the statement that Firefighter deaths are inevitable does not in any
way mean that the person making that statement is being fatalistic or that
they are not serious about safety.
I was accused of something similar back when NASA first started launching
the Space Shuttle. After seeing a television program about the solid fuel
boosters and the large main fuel tank, I made the comment that it will sure
make one terrible explosion when it crashes. The people I was with at the
time were shocked by my comment. I tried to explain that for as long as
anything continues to operate according to plan, the likelihood of failure
increases. I wasn't wishing for the Space Shuttle to crash, I was simply
recognizing the reality that it was possible and that with every launch
after the first, that it became more probable that something would go wrong.
Fighting fires is dangerous work. That is precisely why there is heavy
emphasis on safety. But no amount of training or safe practices can prevent
100% of firefighter fatalities, that's just the way it is. I can drive down
the road as safely as I possibly can, but I KNOW that eventually I'm going
to be in an accident. If a firefighter dies, it does not automatically mean
that procedures were not followed. When an Airtanker or helicopter crashes,
it does not automatically mean that the pilot made a mistake, or that the
aircraft was not maintained properly. Sure, I'm all for a fire season with 0
fatalities, but that is just wishful thinking.
I applaud people who can see past wishful thinking to be able to make true
statements and see things as they truly are. I think it makes a person more
Here's my quote:
"Nobody ever avoided tripping over something without first
acknowledging that it was possible that they could fall."
Another Gen. George Patton quote: "Courage is fear holding on a minute
||The Jobs page,
wildland firefighter job series 0462
and 0455 have been
There's a new contractor ad up on the jobs page. Nice logo.
||I think it was NCBrush6 who asked why the feds hire people who don't stay
until the end of the season?
I think it probably has something to do with the fact that they don't give a
hard end of the season, working as a seasonal from September on is almost a
day to day event with many forests, when you need to worry about having a
job in the winter or starting school to get a "better" job, you
would think at the very least the federal government could give you an
ending date better than maybe next week but we might be able to get you
another pay period or 2. So you stick it out pass up that winter job you had
lined up or decide to skip school this quarter and then find out at the end
of the week "thats it, we didn't get the funding, sorry". This
issue could be handled by dumping the whole 1039 and hiring 13/13's as a
minimum, we work most 4 to 6 months anyway why not have the government step
up and treat the seasonals right instead of treating them as expendable
unskilled personnel. This would also eliminate the abuse of those
"elderly" over 37 temp seasonals the agencies rely on.
||DPF, don't be too quick to "spend" your extra money.
You seem to have misunderstood the language of the bill.
The bill that you referenced below did nothing to change the pay cap. All
the language did was to
ensure high ranking GS employees could receive the higher of two things:
either the OT rate for a
GS-10 step 1 OR an overtime rate equal to their hourly BASE pay, whichever
(Note: this bill was intended for the folks who actually made less on
overtime than they did for their
normal hourly rate).
There is currently a bill in Congress to change the overtime cap to that of
GS-12 step 1.
||Overtime pay cap raised for supervisors
by Shawn Zeller
"High-ranking General Schedule employees who work overtime have
won a long
battle to increase their compensation, thanks to a provision in the 2004
Defense Authorization Act." etc
for the whole story.
Good news for those folks working on non-wildland fire incidents.... full
time and a half. Retroactive to 11/24/03.
lets not make this a bad mouthing site, Yes i am a firefighter in north
carolina. But my home state is washington. so does that make me a redneck
also.. and yes i do use all of my ppe on any brush or wildland fire.. the
ncdof here in this cnty does where and use ppe at all times.. so i dont know
what pocrew is getting at..
steve aka ncbrush6
You say. "Let's not make this a bad mouthing site," but you
were eager to pigpile on NCCrew a few days ago. Get a grip, NCBrush6. You
should know better. You helped personalize the issues without even really
reviewing what NCCrew was saying.
Everyone, take a deep breath. Ab.
I been there. And I, along with a nested group of others, suffer daily
from wildfire trauma and injury.
First office, request your entire file from your District OWCP office, from
DOI (date of injury) to present. Do it under the Freedom of Information
Act, and the Privacy Act. Include your OWCP Identification number on every
piece of correspondence. GET YOUR FILE from day one including the original
CA-1, CA-2, CA-16, and Continuation of Pay records.
Request that you need this information to better educate yourself on your
medical condition and treatment recommendations form each and every Doctor,
Rehab, Occupational Therapist, etc - BELIEVE ME - there is stuff in your
file that they don't want you to see but the medical opinions are there.
CC your local Congressional and perhaps a Member of one of the committees
on Americans with Disabilities, or any patient advocate.
Something is wrong as it should not be taking so long to get the treatment
you are required to have through the FEDERAL EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION ACT
(FECA.) Don't waste money on an attorney because OWCP has made itself such
a morass there is nothing for an attorney to gain from; and unless you have
lost the use of an extremity, tongue, penis, etc - spines are not
compensated for by a SCHEDULE AWARD (lump sum fee.) The only compensation
for spinal injury is if you can not work. And if you have not been able to
work since said injury - DO NOT GO TO WORK or they can take you off their
rolls. You should have received COP (Continuation of Pay). Did you? That
should have covered you for 45 days after the DOI until a medical
determination was made on your ability to return to work.
This is where you need to dig into your file. If your spinal injury had
caused an impairment to an extremity; either partial, or partial permanent,
or permanent - such as partial use of right leg - then you are entitled to
lump sum compensation based on the amount you were making at the time
measured up against award schedule for that limb or extremity. If you have
not gone through this part yet then you must get your file. Find the MO's
(medical opinion's) and Request a Hearing from the WO Office of OWCP.
FECA guarantees you the rights to 1) COP, 2) Schedule Awards for loss of
use of limbs or extremities, 3) education or Occupational Rehab, 4)
Physical Rehab or periodic treatments, and 5) and all medications that are
palliative and enable you to live comfortably - and that includes treatment
for chronic pain. Chronic Pain is a recognized AMA disability and you can
not be turned away for suffering pain caused while on the job.
GET THE FILE; organize it; analyze it; get the FECA book; go to OWCP on
line and read all there is. In the long run you will prevail - but make
sure someone didn't screw you over by not submitting the early paperwork -
that's what really counts and that's why so many injured workers have
problems later with injury symptoms that were caused while employed.
I'm sorry Krs - but when it comes to your body - it's a paper world. All
of us injured workers have to write to New London Kentucky - because that's
where they first scan in all your correspondence before it goes to the
Krs - I don't want to discourage you; I know what you have been through.
Your accident report is justification for your treatment - get the
paperwork - go through it all - you may be surprised by what they owe you
and have not told you.
Do it today.
I've been there, and back, and back, and back. I busted extremities as
well as injured my spine. I didn't think it was for real when I found out
my penis was worth more than a total disability to my back. Go to the
library, get the guide for the current Congress and Senate. Look up the
advocates for the injured workers and government oversight groups. They're
out there, but it's a struggle and a fight and you have to do it on your
own. (Or with help of friends that care and can help you figure the
system.) Good luck my friend - let us know how you are doing. Keep the
attitude but keep it professional and write your letters with Godspeed and
clear, concise, language. DO IT NOW KRS.
and p.s.: if they offer you a sedentary job - make sure its a secondary
firefighter position - or you'll lose your firefighter retirement if you
are in that position. That was a big screw for some of us to find out the
Get YOUR FILE THRU FOIA. CC: the appropriate Political advocate when you
do this. - Trust US.
VofTWFF (Veteran's of Traumatic Fire Fighting)
||today's news review will have an update on the First Strike hearing.
should be on-line this afternoon. for those interested.
||Ab and All,
I am truly impressed…an official response to a comment on They Said. Is
that a first? Let me start by saying I make NO claims to represent NC DFR,
nor was what I said to be represented as something from the state agency.
For that matter my handle could mean Northern California, North Central, or
I still stand by what I said 110%. As long as we put people in a hazardous
environment there’s a chance things will go wrong. As wildland agencies
pick up structural duties and as structural departments take on the wildland
we increase our risk. Firefighters will unfortunately die; there is very
little you can do to protect yourself while working a vehicle accident and
an 18-wheeler decides to merge with your engine (or scene).
The phrases and risks in our job description include: “fire entrapment”
and “The hazardous nature of the work” both of these appear in our job
1. Marked by danger; perilous.
2. Depending on chance; risky.
The 2nd definition is the one I like…CHANCE...OF WHAT!?!?! RISKY!?!? SAY
IT AIN’T SO!
Now on to North Carolina. Yes, it is my home state. And in response to MY
apparent “fatalistic attitude”, “free lancing”, and “carelessness”
persona…why is it I almost always find myself the only one on wildland
incidents (with DFR personal present) dressed in the proper PPE? How come I
am ridiculed or poked fun at for carrying a fire shelter? How come I don’t
always see DFR fire control personal wearing their shelter? Why are they not
setting the example for the county fire agencies to follow? I have more
questions too… I never knew that REDNECKING was an approved fire control
Why has this turned into ME VS. FIREFIGHTERS WHO JUST WANT TO STAY ALIVE?
Why is it I am now anti-LCES? Anti 10 & 18?
||ok, tossing my 3 cents into chat:
Anyone considering firefighting, read the links offered on this website,
read the archives too. answers to your questions may be there; if not, the
links here are worth a read for "background" information (parents
Wildland can become a career choice or a stepping stone to a future career
in firefighting - WFFs with urban interface or EMT experience is the name of
the game for those desiring a FF career any western state! if you can't
pound the ground or pull hose, support staff will always be needed,
especially knowledgeable dispatchers, also computer geeks & number
crunchers - just expect long hours doing the best you can to help those on
the fireline during some raging firestorms....
To those asking about "summer job" before college resumes, many
forests & community colleges offer assistance/guidance.
Here is something i like to ask.why does the feds hire folks that dont stay
on until the season is over .. for years i have been on fed engines and crew
that lose up 75% of there man power in the middle of aug due to folks going
back to school..one year i had 2 days off and came backk they had to park 2
out of 3 engines due to lack of crewfolks. .anyone had that same exp as i
.do fmo ask when the crew is going to stop working before they hire.. hey
all stay safe... HEY ERIC HOW GOES IT.... NCBRUSH6@HOTMAIL.COM
||Ab, Just passing on a note.
North Tree Fire had one of their engines stolen from winter storage in Reno,
It is a Ford F Series with CAFS unit in rear. They also had some gear stolen
of their associates, ERA aviation. (looks like they used the engine to steal
the ERA gear)
If people could keep a look out for I am sure it would be appreciated.
i'm from Malaysia. i was browsing through the wildland fire books from your
interested in buying some of the books and just wondering if that's
Jaime, welcome. We do not sell the books. They are sold through
Amazon.com. You can click on the book cover or on the title and you'll be
taken to Amazon. You can follow the directions for purchasing the book.
Wildlandfire.com gets a small commission for each purchase. I don't know
about shipping charges to Malaysia. You might have to contact someone at
Amazon and ask what those are. Ab.
Is the reason you need to quit in September because you are returning to
school? If so, then the Sierra National Forest has a great student
program. That's how I started out in the FS. If you would like more
information on it or would like to get into contact with the guy in
charge let me know and I can give you his information. Please e-mail me
My name is Ian Gaffney, I was wondering about any summer programs
(from June to late September) that might be available to a 19 year old
who has no fire fighting experience. But I was really hoping I could
get a summer job in firefighting in order to get my foot in the door
for a future job to be a fireman. I would love to hear if there is any
work that your company could give me. Thank you very much.
||I would like to find out how I can get training to become a wildland
firefighter or a hotshot firefighter. I am planning on moving to Colorado
in the future and would like to get into this profession. Please let me
know where I can start getting information on this job. Thanks A lot!
V / R Joe D. Bell
With 2004 being the 200th anniversary of the “Corps of Discovery” (Lewis
and Clark) expedition I thought I would read the “Journals of Lewis and
Clark”. I think I may have come across the first recorded (Western)
wildland fire fatality investigation as well as the first use of a fire
In William Clark’s entry for October 29, 1804, an incident is recorded
near Ft. Mandan, North Dakota.
“The Prarie was Set on fire (or cought by accident) by a young man of
the Mandins, the fire went with such velocity that it burnt to death a man
& woman, who Could not get to any place of Safty, one man a woman
&Child much burnt and Several narrowly escaped the flame. a boy half
white was saved unhurt in the midst of the flaim” ….”The couse of
his being Saved was a Green buffalow Skin was thrown over him by his
mother who perhaps had more fore Sight for the pertection of her Son, and
[l]ess for herself than those who escaped the flame, the Fire did not burn
under the Skin leaveing the grass round the boy. This fire passed our camp
last [night] about 8 oClock P.M. it went with great rapitidity and looked
The goofy spelling is right out of the book.
Journals of Lewis and Clark” copyright, 1953. Edited by Bernard De
Houghton Mifflin Company
215 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
The perceived advantage is that the military can come in and solve all the
woes of the civilian airtanker fleet, this is far from the truth. The MAFFS
system is not as effective as conventional tankers with seasoned
professionals flying them. I/A as far as MAFFS is concerned is impossible .
It is un-godly expensive in terms of both man power and money. What happens
if a war breaks out in the middle of August? No-competition laws were
enacted for a reason, first airtankers but then what? helicopters? ground
Its simple, it is an easy fix for the Forest Service, no more hassle with
private contractors. And mutually beneficial for the ANG, increases their
budget/mission, and makes some senators look real good bringing in the
military with their fancy J model c-130's to save the day.
I would like to dedicate this poem in the memory of my
friends Jeff Allen and Shane Heath who passed away on the Cramer Fire in
July. I will always remember and never forget...
In Loving Memory of Jeff and Shane
by Jill A.
You never said that you were leaving,
You never said goodbye, then God took you home,
In the blink of an eye.
Every morning when I wake,
It is your face that I see, I cannot put into words,
What you have always meant to me.
The memories we made, the sorrows that we shared,
I wish that you could have known how much I truly cared.
Every song, every stranger on the street…
In everything I see, I see you.
I miss your laugh and I miss your smile.
You are, and always will be my friend,
I will never forget, and to my love,
There is no end.
In everything beautiful, I see you,
Everything beautiful…is why I miss you…
||Mellie and AL,
The other pipers with the CDF'er's at the Rose Parade were from the Orange
County Fire Authority, as was the color guard.
Contract County Guy
||The CDF pipers were from northern CA:
Cyrus McCormick and Rick Hood SKU (Siskiyou) have been piping about a year
Matt McElhinney and Skip Sannar BTU (Butte)
Mike Carr NEU (Nevada-Yuba-Placer)
Jesse Estrada AEU (Amador-El Dorado)
||For those of you who knew him and his contributions to fire fighting it
should be noted that Harlow Yeager passed away a few weeks ago at the
ripe old age of 82. Harlow was the crew boss on the crew that pulled
Smokey out of the woods down on the Lincoln a few years back. He was a
Im getting the same run around with OWCP for a knee injury. Nothing like
what your goin through, tho. Wrong form, wrong #, doc not putting things on
the right form, I even went to the wrong pharmacy...I still get bills from
my initial APMC visit to a clinic. Im fine now, already had surgery &
been through rehab & have been released, not the first bill has been
paid, OWCP hasn't officially accepted my case. ( i got dropped after i went
over some magical dollar amount threshold) Keep figthtin man, don't let them
get you down (easy for me to say huh?!)
Im from the east, got hurt in MT, filed a claim through Denver, they bounced
it to DC, 4 different claims people later, still got bills piling up.
AB will give you my addy if I can help you any way, I was hurt while being
Saw #2 on a shot crew.
Just another busted up shot
VIDEOFUEGO 2004, the International Contest of Videos, Photography and
Multimedia Programs on Fire and Emergencies. Deadline: 15th of May
VIDEOFUEGO 2004, el Concurso Internacional de Video, Fotografía y Programas
Multimedia sobre Incendios y Emergencias.
Fin de Plazo: 15 de mayo
VIDEOFUEGO 2004, le International Concours de Vidéo, Photographie et
Programmes Multimedia sur les Incendies et les Emergencies.
Date limite: 15 mai
||IA DISPATCHER, thanks for your comment!! NAMERIF 1
||The local ABC station in San Francisco has a consumers advocate that maybe
able to help. Not to mention the investigative journalistic potential of
this case, they also do feature stories and this would really get them
I don't know where Krstofer resides but one of the local television stations
would most likely have a consumers help line.
I would be willing to write my congress critters and representatives on
Krstofer's behalf. It could have very well been me who got clocked, as him.
Could be "political" . With a new priority mission for USAF/ANG (
some bases slated to be closed in the near future might stay open -
Elections coming up !!!
R4 has the tanks also, Fire-Trol & Astaris each have 6,000 gal. contract
tanks w/ Operator & Retardant or Foam.
||Hey as a firefighter in nc i 100% stand behind what Gray woods has spoken
about. death on the fireline can and will be avoided, 10 and 18s are a must
and are a life saver. nc crew does not represent all north carolina
||Steven, Ashkickers got sold off in pieces sometime before 1999. One
of the spinoff companies is or was active in Southern Humboldt Co (CA) the
last time the question came up. Don't know if it still is.
KRS, I'd be happy to write on your behalf on January 20 and get my
family members to do the same. We're in northern ca so have Senators Boxer
and Feinstein and also Congressman Mike Thompson (who has a son working
seasonally for CDF).
KRS, please post the list of KY congress people we should write to. Senators
are easy enough to find out. Have you written to any others? Are there any
other congress people from other states who might bring pressure to bear on
the Workman's Comp people?
On a practical and more immediate note, those wishing to help KRS
financially can make a donation. It would be hard for me to face a day
without meds if I needed them to stay alive and functioning. Ab is checking
CDFers: On another note, I saw some CDF bagpipers in the Rose
Parade yesterday. Anyone know who they are? Part of an honor guard or just
some guys who do it for fun? It was good to see the representation.
NCCrew IS safety oriented. I have been told by folks on his crew (his
crew is not from NC, but from the far west) that he demonstrates his safety
orientation daily during fire season. I think you are misinterpreting what
he had to say. He'd be the first to endorse the 10 and 18. All I heard him
saying in those posts last month are that, in terms of long time frames, it
is inevitable that someone sooner or later will die fighting fire or in an
accident going to fight fire... The risk wildland firefighters face as a
group is greater than the risk faced by other professions, regardless of how
careful individuals are. Accidents happen. Mistakes happen to the best of
us. That's not to say that we don't work at maintaining situational
awareness and filling in those holes in the swiss cheese model, to minimize
the risk of systemic accidents. It's just to say that sh*t sometimes happens
and when you talk about long term (say geological time) periods, sh*t is
inevitable. He's also saying that if you want a risk free job in which you
don't have to maintain situational awareness or take responsibility for your
own safety, that you shouldn't fight fire. Sounds correct to me. Come to
chat sometime in the spring and hold a real-time conversation. You'll see...
My guess is that your thoughts on safety are no different than NCCrew's.
Ab sez, here's an address to send a check to help out:
2409 Holly Ave
Chico, Ca 95926
What is the perceived advantage to activation of USAF/ANG MAFFS/AFFS units
before civilian airtankers?
Does this move stem from concern over the airworthiness of the civilian
||RE: ashkickers, The last I heard Dave sold out and disbanded Ashkickers.
Then started a hunting / fishing magazine. Anyways that was the rumor.
that was late 98'
||It was brought to my attention that a remark was made on your "They
Said" page by someone using an alias "NCCrew" stating
"he/she thinks that firefighter fatalities are inevitable, and seems to
have a fatalistic approach ("if you can't accept the risk, change
jobs") to wildland fire fighting.
I am a member of the N.C. Division of Forest Resources Fire Staff, serve as
a Training Officer for our Division, and am a Re-Carded SOF2 with our Type
II - IMT. Officially, our Division does not condone this type attitude and
approach to wildland fire fighting. We have an excellent safety record, due
to our training program, and use of established strategies and tactics. The
NCDFR does not favor this fatalistic attitude, nor do we tolerate free
lancing or carelessness on the fire line, nor by fire managers. Fire
fighting is serious business, and there are associated risks and hazards.
However, they are to be mitigated, not compromised. The 10's & 18's, and
LCES, must be followed at all times! If you want a quotable quote, then
here's one from me! "There ain't one square inch of ground out there
worth one square inch of your hide"!
The NCDFR strives to maintain a safe environment for all firefighters
involved in suppression activities, and will not compromise anyone's safety
involved in fire suppression activities for any reason. Please post this as
an "official" response from NC regarding fire fighting.
Gary C. Wood
N.C. Division of Forest Resources
Fire Training Specialist
||Regarding the workmans comp problems faced by Krstofer Evans.
If several of us were to conduct a coordinated effort directed at key
players in congress. Perhaps we could grease the skids.
My experience has been if you get 50+ people involved, sending letters out
the same day, directed at 1) their congressmen/women and senators, 2) those
same in Cal and Kentucky, and most importantly - 3) those on any committees
related to workmans comp/USFS funding, you'll get a higher "level of
It is best if we were not to use a form letter as a group.
This would require a bunch of us picking a date and sending out about a
dozen letters apiece.
Apparently the IA response didn't do the job and it is time to bring in a
Task Force. Anybody else ready to go for say a January 20th mail date to
We're way ready here. Let's do it! Ab.
||I am trying to find an e-mail address or URL site for Ash Kickers Inc.
Steven B. Combes
I did a quick search this morning for ya, nothing but old/bad links on
the 'net. Seems to me this issue came up a while back. Ab.
||SADDENED by the posts from those with unresolved issues.
Best wishes for all for a better 2004
I appreciate all of your responses- All I can say, really, is
thought I was in a pretty good situation, and "they" would take
care of me. Now,
however, I know how the Vets feel.
I have written to 20 some Senators and Reps, both those here in Ca and those
Ky, for if I hadn't gone to Ky to help, I wouldn't be in this situation to
Of all of those, I have gotten 3 responses, and one took the time to look
the situation. OWCP gave them the same "We're working on it" snow
job they have
been giving me for the last year and a half. I am in the process of
reply, siting references of collection notices, unpaid bills, and denied
and reimbursement claims.
So far I have been uninterested in looking for a lawyer, but after the most
recent developments, I believe it's time.
So after I get my reply to the Senator done, I'll post the whole thing on my
site and let you guys have a look at it.
Thank you for your continued support-
||I just wanted to get some input from the ground folks about their feelings
when it comes to civilian airtankers v.s. military. There is a big push in
congress right now to allow MAFFS USAF/ANG tankers to be activated before
civilian tankers. How do the ground guys feel about this? Good? bad? dont
know or care? I have seen tha MAFFS guys work and can feel the food being
pulled out of my mouth so I have my opinions, but we are only here to to
help out our brother and sisters on the ground, so what do you all think?
||Abz and All
Happy New Year from soggy California!
I hope you all have a safe and prosperous new year.
||Thx to Lobotomy -- That Nixon Bill was quite
I'm thankful a few people like Labot' keep track of
that type of information.
||Just wanted to pass on my good wishes for a safe 2004 to every one. God
Bless all the firefighters in the US, Canada, Mexico and overseas. I hope
2004 comes and goes and we don’t loose any of our Brothers or Sisters to
carelessness or unnecessary risk taking. Remember there are people who love
you and depend on you to come home after every assignment.
Krs, I am not going to say that God had anything to do with your accident,
but I will say that there are plenty of people who can testify that HE can
be a great comfort to you in your trials. I know that many people have been
praying for you since you were injured and are committed to continuing to do
Check out a woman named Joni
Eareckson Tada who has been in a wheelchair since she had a diving
accident in 1969. She has spent her life inspiring and helping disabled
people all over the world. God Bless you Krs.
A Fellow Hotshot
What a load of hog swill Krstofer has endured from the faceless
paperpushers. Unfortunately, no mortal has a magic wand to make it all go
away. If I might offer a suggestion: Having spent a tour of duty in D.C., I
learned that there is no more diligent public servant than one who has a
political blowtorch on his or her corpulent derrière.
Krstofer, my suggestion, in addition to legal remedies (in which I have
little expertise), is to contact your U.S. Senator. Start with the Senator's
field office closest to you. These offices are located in most larger cities
in your state and can be found in the government section of your phone book.
You have two U.S. Senators. Pick the one who is not afraid of mixing it up
with bureaucrats. Especially one running for re-election. You may also be
fortunate to have an aggressive U.S. Representative (Congressman) in your
area. They may not have the shear political throw weight of a senator, but
an effective representative will have a good field staff more than happy to
help. Representatives run for office every two years, so they have to hustle
for their constituents.
If you can get a Senator of Congressman to assign one of their staff to your
case, they will run political interference and hold the bureaucrats
Peace be to you, my friend.
||Krs, many of us have similar stories to tell about dealing with Workman's
Compensation. In my husband's case, it just took time before everything
worked itself out. I know, that's probably one of the most frustrating
things anyone can say to you right now. Sometimes dealing with other
government agencies requires thinking outside the box. Is there a
possibility that your doctor can help you get the prescriptions you need?
Are there other pharmacies in your local area that you can deal with? Is it
possible to get your prescriptions filled on-line? These aren't perfect
solutions, but may help you until Workman's Compensation actually does
something productive. If a letter writing campaign will help, as Ab
suggested in an earlier post, I'll volunteer to write the first letter. Any
ideas who we might send them to, to get the best response?
Todd, please don't discourage folks from writing in and offering their
support. NAMERIF1 didn't mean any harm in their post. Writing rude responses
is not helpful to anyone. We are all doing the best we can and trying to
show our totally support in the best ways we know how. Life has shown me
many, many times that there is a reason for everything that happens to us in
life regardless of whether you believe in God or not.
- IA Dispatcher