February, 2004

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2/29 Dear Ab,

Please include website, banner logo and memorial information on your website for the National
Smokejumpers Association. NSA is at www.smokejumpers.com. Their national reunion is in
June in Missoula. The NSA Memorial plaque program is explained on the website.

Thanks, D.
2/29 Forwarded from WC:

The Idaho Statesman continues to follow the Cramer fire

2/29 Tony,

I 100% agree with your fist two paragraphs, maybe I came across a little strong.

Paragraph #3, ah.. err....I know for a 100% fact safety is first and foremost in Joe F.'s mind, and I would like for others to think it is in mine as well. My point in responding is when this "incident" happened, and for the rest of the day, it wasn't an incident. It somehow snowballed overnight.

With an imagination, yes, somebody could surmise that Joe was saying it never crossed the line, so no big deal. With even less imagination, (my view) Joe was trying to give what info he could on the goings-on.

"acceptable levels of incompetence and normalizing the risk"... Hey I said first, this was just my opinion!!!!...."First off this forum is exactly the right place for Dick to express his viewpoints, no matter what you or anyone else think, as you are certainly free to express yours." Amen, let me express my views.

About Jodi's post, yup cut, pasted, & sent...The thought of having to call one of my boys or girls parents and tell them that I just basically killed them would haunt me for life.

I'll say once again, Joe is intimately involved with this, and I too was pretty darn close. Let the TNC beat the war-drums & if the report puts egg on my face, then so be it. Once again, i give the disclaimer of: This is just my opinion. We dance with fire, nobody ever getting a little burn somewhere 100% of the time is a pretty high bar to set, yes I realize it should be set that far. I've gotten a mustache singed, or beard had chunks taken out of it several times. It happens to me, I don't want it to happen to my guys, but it does, every year.

Ab, I love this forum, great place

2/29 Readers,

I will probably not get to posting the photos until next Saturday. Some nice people pics among them. Thanks for your patience.

2/29 Jodi:

I want you to know how much Jeff and Shane meant to me. I have worked with them for two years and grew up with Jeff. Through the tragedy, I find some comfort in the memories of happy times and smiles both on and off of the fireline. Knowing, and trusting in each other, working hard and of course getting very dirty!

This summer Shane was falling a HUGE tree, and as a second season firefighter, I'd never seen big trees coming down. So afterwards, Jeff and I walked down and they both explained the cut, what he did well and what he could have done better. That is just one example of how my friends took the time to teach and mentor younger and more inexperienced firefighters. Their impact on my life is so enormous I can't describe. I pray every night for your family, Allens and anyone who was involved.

As a firefighter, the fact that overheads were not watching their backs just blows me away. How many other times were we all in positions that they were not aware of?

I have a quote from a firefighter involved in the Rattlesnake Fire of 1953, it is so true and I would like to share it: May we Always Remember, and Never Forget

"This place is sacred to the memory of those who died here. We, by remembering them and learning from their tragedy, give meaning to what happened here: that they did not die in vain, that their deaths give the gift of life to others who come after."

May God bring your hearts peace and comfort,

Idaho FireChick

2/29 sign me: _________ ,

Whoaaa buddy! I was not going to post to this thread, but after re-reading yours and Joe's reply to Dick I can't keep quiet.

First off this forum is exactly the right place for Dick to express his viewpoints, no matter what you or anyone else think, as you are certainly free to express yours.

I totally agree with Dicks view as I perceive it. For fire management types of land management agencies that professes to have safety as a core value make the statements you and Joe have made in your replies is mind boggling!!

A person suffered serious burns...does it matter whether it was a prescribed fire or a wildfire? My understanding of the core value of safety is that no accidents are acceptable. To state otherwise and minimize the potential of this particular incident helps perpetuate the culture and behavior of "acceptable levels of incompetence and normalizing the risk".

After reading Joe's reply, one could surmise that the fact that the fire never crossed the control line was fire managements biggest concern here. Last I remember "Public and Firefighter Safety" is the #1 objective on all of our incidents.

As I once again read through Joe's reply and explanation of events to Dick, words such as blind luck at the best and total incompetence at the worst come to mind. My perceptions.

sign me: _________ & Joe, I hope you have read Jodi Heath's post and have shared it with all of the module leaders who work for you. An awesome responsibility it is taking kids and turning them into firefighters and having their trust and faith in our leadership abilities.

I too anxiously await the "official" report on the Florida burns. Until then I am glad to see folks like Dick Mangan continue to be involved in not only this forum but the entire fire community. Dick, I liked your reference to the NWCG definition of entrapment as it possibly relates to this event!

Tony Duprey
Battalion Chief
aka Killer
2/29 Ab, Rogue, Dick & other folks:

Im sure the investigation will all proove this with time. As Joe F. said... DONT SPREAD RUMORS!!!!

Any body ever had your beard or mustache singed? What about that little piece of metal heating up on your gloves and "burning" you? Heat blast is all this guy got, from a little eddy of wind on the edge of a grass burn. There wasnt any big evacuation, closure of the burn, & it was joked about (by the victim) afterward in the AAR. Personally I'd say 3rd degree burns go a little far, but i'm not the one paid to make that decision.

I'm also not the one making the decision to investigate, but it is MY personal opinion that this may have been blown a little out of proportion, just my two cents before everybody blasts me. We've all been burnt a little bit before, it happens. yes yes, someone will say 2nd & 3rd degree is excessive, but i already said, may not (probably not) have been just that bad...

Joe summed it up, just wait folks.

sign me: _________
2/29 Re: Old Crusty Guy & Lobotomy & Apples & Oranges,

To take this contractor vs fed finding a step further, I think, since the contractors have sought and received "national contracts" to assist them in their quest for a fair wage across regional boundaries and agencies, not only must the same "type" of engine be compared, but a contractor engine must be compared to a "national" average of daily cost for fed engines. I'm sure any regional NFMAS rep has this info. As lobotomy is so frequent and correct in pointing out, there is a large disparity in position classification for those doing the same duties across agencies and the nation. I'll bet my dollars to your doughnuts that there are hundreds of GS-5's, 6's and 7's performing "captain's" duties all across the nation outside of California and especially East of the Mississippi.

And, let's not forget to include the NPS and the BLM in any kind of comparison survey. They really know what type 6 engines are, it's about all they have. Many contractors seldom work inside forest boundaries, should I ask why the comparison was based just on USFS engines? Should the USFS and Region 5 give up the ranch just because there are squatters along the fence and congress is pinching the wrong pennies.

Then again, many of the new and some of the old federal crews and engines don't have adequate (or any) housing or facilities for their new personnel and equipment. Toss those necessary and as yet to be funded costs into the national yearly average for a type 3 engine or handcrew and see how it compares. It's called indirect costs, but it all comes off the top before each forest suppression manager sees any real money for modules. You can't forget to include the pencils, paper, telephones, computers, square footage, administrative, personnel, electricity, heating, and other costs assessed by each administrative unit when calculating module costs. Contractors absorb these costs by being highly efficient, or they go out of business. Some forests rake so much off the top that their modules are operating at 50% of MEL. One need only check the theysaid archives on this site to hear from the victims.

Currently the federal fire and aviation management organizations are forced to complete and submit lengthy and complex justifications to try and fulfill the immediate need requirements of their modules and employees. Sadly enough, even if justified and approved, they will be scheduled for completion some time in the next 3-5 years. Too late.

So forget it. I give up. Let's outsource. Let the outside in. Make the outside the inside. I'm sure once all federal resources are gone that there won't be any dramatic surge in contracting costs. Fighting a forest or brush fire really isn't inherent government business is it? After all, aren't 80% of all national firefighting resources composed of volunteers? What the heck, let's let them do it. They can call in their local contractor when they need assistance.

Sorry, I seem to have lost my point, I think it was all about numbers, but then I do tend to

2/29 Mellie, I apologize. I guess I'm a "math" or "statistics" geek also. But the math and stats must add up and didn't in the report. I look forward to your "reprimand" in person at the Div. Chiefs Conference.

In my tours of the U.S. over the last twenty plus years, I continually ask myself.... what if.... ?..... is there a different way?... or a better way? .....How can we combine ideologies? ......Can we combine methodologies?.... How can we make sure we don't repeat the failures of the past? ..... How can we educate each other? .....How can we make the Federal Wildland Fire agencies the safest ever? .....How can we save the Federal Taxpayer money......

Mellie, hope to see 'ya next week....

2/29 Happy LEAP Day! Ab.
2/28 Reply to contract vs. agency fire:
Well, this is what I was talking about last week. Apples and Oranges as others put it.

Why use a Cleveland engine for a study on a Type 6 engines??? (for mathematical creativity I guess.)
The Cleveland does not use type 6 engines, so why use them in the study?

I understand that for the study they hypothetically removed some personnel to only include 3 persons in the study. However, the study uses the special salary and locality pay of the Cleveland engine to compare to the different locality of the region 6 area. The study took the quals. and pay of the Cleveland to make the agency personnel costs appear larger. The Cleveland's salary and locality pay are adjusted to include the level of complexity that the personnel are performing at and the extreme cost of living in this area. Cleveland's fire personnel must use S.C.B.A. and other equipment for vehicle fires and structure protection. They must perform at the level of professionalism required for multi-agency urban interface fires where type 6 engines have no business. The Cleveland Firefighters are either first responders or EMT qualified. There are higher pay and higher quals. required for the supervisors, so the higher supervisory or administrative cost of the study are also stretched. This study is a far stretch of imaginative and creative math.

Car salesmen are also good at this type of math. They will take new vehicle out there in the parking lot and make it appear very cost effective and affordable any way you look at it. However, if you bring your own calculator you can almost always prove them wrong.

Okay, so the study is fraudulent or stretched, but there are other issues to consider. We compared a contact Firefighter to a Forestry Technician. The Firefighter has no 'other duties.' The Forestry Tech. is also used for other projects in conjunction with his/her fire obligations. Are the contract fire personnel obligated to assist the public with whatever they need? Are they going to assist Recreation or Facilities or the Botanist or Biologist or whatever the Ranger or Forest Supervisor needs help with? Have them clean some crappers in their down time and see what happens to your mathematical study!

What about the extra public service that is spawned and harbored only with the dignity and professionalism of a fire agency or fire department can offer?

Someone commented to this issue by saying -- "try to convince the powers that be of the merits of maintaining a fully funded national wildland fire agency... if you believe it is the Govt's. place to provide fire protection." ---
If not, why even consider contracting out this service? We all know the validity, the responsibility, and the need for this resource and service. And we all know what a load of crap that this last study was.

The Forest Service Fire personnel are performing well above the low standards required by a shoty job description. The outsourcing of this resource would lower current level of service being obtained by the Government. (That is my real-world study.)

The only possible valid point was the usage of contract equipment to stabilize fluctuations of MEL.

Old Crusty Guy
2/28 Lobotomy, I am one of those math types, as in statistical analysis. Ahem... you gonna be at the
Div Chiefs' Conf? I might need to reprimand you in person???

Good comment about Apples and Oranges:
In statistical analysis, when apples are compared to oranges in my field of research, the oranges
are made as apple-like as possible for comparison purposes.

If no Type 6 Fed engines are available for comparison with Type 6 contractor engines in this study, I
wonder why those doing the study didn't choose to modify Type 3 engines FROM THE SAME
LOCATION as the Type 6 engines in Oregon. Without controlling for location, one can
always argue that the differences in costs are attributable to something other than the engine
module cost itself. Perhaps the difference is due to higher engine or engine crew costs
associated with southern CA, for example.

<hug for Jodi>
2/28 Dear Mrs. Heath,

I am very moved by your post. I am a member of the Entiat Hotshots and have been for 8 years; including 2001, the year that we were involved with the 30-mile fire. Much of what you said touched me and resounded with the experience I had with the tragic loss of life. I had problems with the report that came out after 30-mile - And a lot of anger over the whole thing - I have not yet read the report on the Cramer fire, but I intend to do so.

I have a few friends who knew and worked with your son and Jeff. They have said good things about them both. I also attend Boise State University and have seen the monuments for both Shane and Jeff.

I cannot possibly say the depth for which I feel for you and your family and Jeff Allen's family, and for all who lose their lives doing this job I love.

I hope and pray that you find the peace to be able to sleep soundly again, God Bless you and yours,

Matt Kennedy

p.s. please disregard the vast majority of what the media chooses to focus on concerning the incident, in my experience it is on the verge of being false, and/or rarely hits the target. MK
2/28 Someone who works with emergency services is looking for photos from the Santa Clara Complex (California, July 2003). Anybody have some? They need to know ASAP. Ab.
2/28 Backburnfs, I must have been a little unclear on my post..... As usual, you seem to prod me to clarify my statements. First, I did agree with many statements in the study, but I've clarified my concerns with some glaring problems.

I did see that they did "an adjustment factor" in their study. As I said before, it's like comparing apples to oranges.

You can "adjust" the cost of an apple (type 3 engine) to be comparable to that of an orange (type 6 engine)... or a Hotshot Crew (apple) to a Type 2 Crew (orange).. but what it comes down to is that they are different and can't be reliably used to make a valid comparison. The apple and the orange each have their place, as do the type 3 and type 6 engine, or hotshot crew and type 2 crew. Each has different capabilities and tastes that do not cross the "cost" boundaries.

Also, beware of "math brains" ..... I was told that they can always skew data to show whatever they want. The Federal Government has been using that approach for years, I'm sure the contractors know how to do it also.

Hey backburnfs, would you support my following statements regarding the western United States? These are "math" facts. I threw in a "minor flaw" to keep you guessing. This is data from 1980 to 2003. I'd appreciate the discussion.

Statement #1 - Region Five has the highest average preparedness costs in the west.

Statement #2 - Regions 6 and 1 have the highest average expenditures for large fire suppression.

Statement #3 - Regions 6 and 1 have the largest number of contractors (or "For Profit Fire Departments") providing service to the Federal Government.

Statement #4 - Regions 6 and 1 have the largest average yearly contractor associated costs. These costs are "preparedness" and fire suppression costs.

Statement #5 - Region 5 has the lowest average associated contractor costs in the west. Region 5 has the highest average co-operator costs in the west.

Statement #6 - Region 5 has the largest number of Federally Protected acres, not counting Alaska.

Statement #7 - Region 5 has the second lowest cost of "Average Cost per year by protected acre", second only to Nevada. The California population is 35.4 million people. The Nevada population is 2 million.(2000 Census Records).

Statement #8 - Region 5 has the lowest costs per federal taxpayer (per federal acre protected) for federal wildland fire protection in the nation. Region 5 also has the highest number of "urban interface" acres in the nation.

Dam*, that's some data for 'ya......

2/28 An informal gathering for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association members and
interested parties... is scheduled for the R-5 Division Chiefs / Hotshots / Captains

Ask around at the workshops for details!!!!

2/28 Dick, regarding your post and the subsequent replies.....

....."a TNC employee received a 2nd degree burn to his nose and a 3rd degree burn to his hand"....

As an average viewer and wildland firefighter, just my educated guess is that this firefighter fell face first into a pile or jackpot of fuel based upon injuries. But it's just a guess....

As a professional and current fire manager, I won't jump to any conclusions about the injury until it can be investigated and given to the public.

It wasn't a "burn over" or "entrapment"... but it was an injury of serious consequence that should be investigated and given to us in due time as "lessons learned".

Many firefighters have said for years that "prescribed fires" are more dangerous than wildfires.

With fire and smoke exposure, why aren't firefighters paid Hazardous Duty Differential for "prescribed fires" when they seem to be so dangerous.

There are at least three "prescribed" fires that involved fatalities and countless others that involved serious injuries to firefighters.

Dick, you championed the Safety cause and the Firefighter Fatalities studies... why hasn't this changed? I'd like to hear your opinion..... Thanks

Rogue Rivers
2/27 Dear Jodi,

Your strength in posting your message has moved me deeply. I will never
forget the sacrifice of Shane and Jeff and will carry the lessons of this
tragedy with me into the field.

God Bless you
Terry T
2/27 Jodi;

Thank you for your post. Words are cold comfort for your loss, but they are all I can give.
I would also thank Mellie for the post and say that it caught my feelings quite well. I just read
the Cramer report and tried to put myself in the same position as your boy in the hope of
learning something that might save me in the future. "There but for the grace of god go I" is a
thought that has crossed my mind when I come across situations that could have been really
bad but were avoided due to training or dumb luck.

I pray that no other families have to go through what you have.

2/27 Jodi;

Mellie is far more articulate than I, but…please know you have the support of the entire wildfire community,
and may the sorrow of your son’s death never be forgotten, but let it be overshadowed by the joy of his life.

Nerd on the Fireline
2/27 Joe - after reading the attached report that talked about 2nd and 3rd degree burns, I assumed that they
resulted from the individual getting burned over. Maybe the NWCG definition of "entrapment" works
better: "a situation where personnel are unexpectedly caught in a fire-behavior related, life threatening
position........." ??

2nd degree burns to the nose puts a lot of heat real close to the respiratory system, which isn't real
tolerant of high temps.

Sorry for the confusion, but I'm still concerned that a prescribed burn can result in 2nd and 3rd degree
burns as the attached report describes.

2/27 Jodi, thank you for your post.

My warm hug envelopes you for your loss. From everything I have heard, your son and his best friend were a pair of lights and they are too soon gone. Truly when a member of our fire community dies, we all feel the loss, we all grieve, we all want to understand. Usually it is not one choice or decision or act that causes the death, but a number of "holes in the slices of swiss cheese" that line up to create the tragedy. The "Swiss Cheese Model of Wildland Fire Tragedy" is a good way to look at all the layers of what occurred and could have contributed to the tragic outcome.

On most days the "holes in the layers of swiss cheese" don't line up and no tragedy occurs. Occasionally they line up with devastating outcome. Some holes may seem random, a small decision here and a choice there, a change in fire behavior, the weather. Human factors that cause groundpounders to minimize the risk or unexpected and overwhelming emerging problems across a region of many fires combined with human factors that cause managers to overlook the risk. Sometimes the "holes in the swiss cheese" may be systematic patterns that, if only we could see them, we could prevent them from occurring in the future. Wildland firefighters seek to understand potentially repetitive patterns that could lead to a reoccurrence of tragedy. They strive to identify and minimize the holes.

The process of trying to understand the "how" and "why" is the way wildland firefighters honor those who have died and try to make those deaths meaningful. Lessons Learned. None of us live in a vacuum. No man is an island, especially in our fire community. We are all inexorably joined.

In the process of trying to understand, it sometimes seems that there is a "blame game" that goes on. In my experience, this does not happen within the fire community itself. The community -- to a person -- is torn up by the deaths. The blame game does occur in the media. Journalists usually just don't understand, unless they are also firefighters.

In the fire community, most firefighters realize that tragedy has many antecedents and contributing factors at all levels -- from the firefighters themselves on up to everyone involved at the highest level. Who might shoulder the most blame often depends on the perspective of the viewer. No one is harder on themselves than the individual somehow involved in the tragedy. My groundpounder friends often look at what the firefighters did or didn't do, so as to know what they should or shouldn't do in the future. My fire manager friends look at what the managers did that contributed, because that's where they focus on understanding what went wrong and how they could prevent a similar error or oversight. Truth is, it's usually not only one person or another, it's the overall gestalt, dynamic or wedge of swiss cheese that creates the tragedy.

What is the perspective of firefighters on the ground? Groundpounders must believe that a firefighter's safety lies within him or herself. They believe this because they know that they must always work to maintain "situational awareness" to keep themselves and their crew safe. Fire is an unpredictable and fickle element, sometimes it is a killer.

To the outsider it may seem that groundpounders tend to "blame the victim". This is not the truth of the matter, however. It is simply what they must do psychologically: they must imagine themselves as the "victim" and determine what, if anything, they might do differently under similar circumstances to avoid being the victim. Growth, change, and their future functioning and survival depends on this process. If Shane and Jeff were alive they would tell you this same story. More than any other group I know, firefighters internalize the deaths of their peers. Shane and Jeff live on within many in our community. In the face of such tragedy, I believe also that all firefighters, regardless of religious belief, have something akin to the deep down feeling "There but for the grace of god go I."

Let me say that I love you, m'dear. I hope I haven't been too academic. I can't begin to imagine the enormity of your loss. You must know, I have felt some of your pain. We all have. We are all in this together.

<another hug for you>... as much to comfort me as to comfort you,
2/27 Dear Ab,

My name is Jodi Heath my son Shane was one of the firefighters who died in the Cramer Fire. I have had long talks with Vicki Minor at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and she has told me over and over to write to you, so here it goes.

I thought the worse day of my life was July 22, 2003 when my daughter Lacie called me and told me that Jeff Allen had been killed along with his partner on a fire that day. She said it had to be Shane because they always went out together. I spent the next 15 minuets making calls to find out what had happened. No one could tell me. Lacie called back a few minuets later crying that Shane was dead, at that same moment a green car pulled up to our house and I knew it was true my son was gone. As the days passed we knew that something had to have gone wrong, something more than just a blow up. To get us through, we had to tell ourselves that it was his time and he truly loved what he was doing. (I think he was born to cut trees, he had his C by the middle of his second season and he was good.)

Jan. 12, 2004 the day the report was released to us proved to be just as bad as the day we were told he was dead. I never in all the months waiting for the report thought that I had lost my son because of so many human errors. When I read some of the theysaid posts after the report was released, I so wanted to write to you but I really am not good at this kind of stuff so please help me out.

I am just a mom and really don't know but a few of the terms used when you all talk about most of this, but I do know that the only wrong thing Shane and Jeff did was to trust. They trusted that the people over the fire that day were watching their backs. We know from the report that the boys had felled 150 to 200 trees that day, some larger some smaller, some had decay and some were on quite a slope. We were told that they had worked their butts off and that they were two of the best. I have read that they should have been more aware of what was going on around them -- again they trusted that there had been lookouts posted. They trusted again when at 2:42 they were told a ship was on the way and yet again at 2:50 and 3:05 to stay put -- a ship was on the way. If they had been told at 2:42 to get the hell out of there they could have made it to H-4 which didn't burn over till much later in the fire.

Shane and Jeff were in radio contact with the Indianola base through out the day. As far as we know, the persons overseeing the fire had not been in contact with the boys or with Indianola during the day to see how they were doing. Some feel the delays were due, in part, to the number and condition of the trees (decay).

There is a new less redacted report which we received last week. It helps make things a little more clear, but not enough. I have written a letter to Senator Craig of Idaho asking for his help in obtaining a full unredacted report.
We have also been told that it will not be made known to the public what, if anything, will be done to the persons who partly may be responsible for Shane and Jeff's deaths.

Not knowing the full story, it haunts me daily to think that the same person or persons making decisions on the day of our son's death, may once again be in charge of making decisions that could endanger the lives of other firefighters. Did they put Shane and Jeff at risk? Might they do so again? If the investigations continue into the next fire season, how are we to know in time to protect other kids?

I hope your readers can use some of this to answer their questions. Ab, Vicki said you were a whiz at this so please do what you need to do with this info. A lot of what I have told you may be my own hurts. Maybe having done this it will help me move on a little. If you have any ?'s please e-mail me.

Thanks again,
maybe I'll be able to sleep a little better tonight
Jodi Heath,
just a mom who misses her most loved son

Jodi, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings. As I emailed you, your post is fine as you sent it in. We all mourn the loss of Shane and Jeff, but I can't imagine the loss, helplessness, confusion, and heartbreak a parent feels. Our hearts go out to you. Ab.
2/27 Could you please post this conference information from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District?
It is also available on our web site www.nltfpd.net.


Readers, please go to the website and download the front and back brochure pdf files. The conference is entitled Company Officer Training Symposium and takes place on April 19-21. Ab.
2/27 Has anyone out there used a Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) on wildland fires?
How effective was it? What was it used for (structure protection, burnout, etc) ? Would
a smaller system be suitible for a Type 6 engine? Would it be useful or just another gadget
to take up space in the cache?

Thanks in advance for any input.

2/27 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated. Ab.
2/27 Hey Gang,

I found the study on Contract vs Agency absolutely fascinating. We should all give alot of credit to those who conducted the study. Although we may may not all agree with the study, it provides a "somewhat" detailed accounting on how fire is budgeted for a specific geographical program.

As for as Lobotomy's comment regarding the Coronado, I wouldn't go stepping through the cow pasture in Tucson so quickly. I would put faith in the study in Tucson before anywhere else, only due to the fact that I'm familiar with the programs we run here in AZ.

Please keep in mind, Tucson and SE AZ (Coronado NF) has only a few private contractors in the area, Rural Metro being one of them. They do supply T-6 engines and T-2 hand crews under contract with both the AZ State Land Department and the Feds. What is more interesting though is the fact that local fire departments and districts also have "contracts" with the same agencies. North West Fire District, one of the largest fire districts in AZ, has such a contract, providing T-6, T-3, and hand crews to who ever calls. Due to the fact that here in AZ, we do not have a large wildland fire agency similir to CDF/NDF/ODF and the like, the state contracts local fire departments/district to provide that level of fire protection under a cooperative agreement similar to an EERA. Some departments are really into the wildland scene, with red carded folks who also play on national Type 1 & 2 teams, state of the art fire equipment, and interagency cooperation which shadows what I see in California.

Yes, these "contractors" are cheaper than some of the fed crews, but the money made by these fire departments provides for additional revenue to augment tight budgets.

Bottom line, in the Coronado study, your "contractors" were most likely local fire departments providing engines and crew on either severity or IA money. Here in AZ, local fire departments will be given "first out" consideration/opportunity on severity, IA, and EA assignments prior to the private contractors being called up.

Also, the BIA provides T-2 crews. Crews are made up of almost 99% AD's, which as I'm sure you know, are much less expensive than a crew full of GSs. These T-2 fire crews are also added into the mix when local forests budget for severity and prescribe fire projects.

By the way, if your looking for that 10 person hand crew, check out your local helitack crew, minus the helo.........

AZ Trailblazer
2/27 SmokeChaser;

I like the way this discussion is going; I think we’re coming up with some good ideas. The idea of drivers as extra ‘camp slugs’…I can see that being useful, especially with some training for them. How about using those drivers, with some mechanical training, for doing vehicle inspections while their crews are on the line? I remember a lot of complaints about slow inspections, substandard equipment, and lack of personnel for mechanical evaluations last season. We’ve got five licensed EVOs on our crew, and we’re all more than capable of checking a tire pressure or looking over an engine. We’ve all had forty hours of state training, plus umpteen hours of internal department training for driving ambulances. No reason I can see why driving a crew buggy should be all that different. The physics are the same even if the urgency isn’t. My main point is that I think that the driver should be someone who’s not on the line; some one who won’t be hopping with adrenaline on the way to the fire, and bone-tired after it.

Nerd on the Fireline
2/27 Sergiy,

Virginia has come a long way in the past several years with their wildfire academies. Generally the state offers at least 3 weekend wildfire academies each year. Every academy offers the S-130/S-190 courses, plus a pack test, and 3 to 5 other S courses. Last years offerings included S-232 Dozer Boss, S-270 Basic Air Ops, S-390 Fire Behavior Calcs., as well as several urban interface courses and a entry-level dozer operator school. There is an academy coming up in May in south-central virginia and another in september in south-west virginia. Check the virginia dept of forestry for more info. I think it is www.vdof.org. May be a bit of a drive from NC, but there are enough courses to make it worthwhile.


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or hiding...
your choice...

After talking to many of you on the San Bernardino NF this week during the National
Leadership Team meetings (Forest Service), I have found that many of you read this
page and know alot about the issues and are in favor of changes. I'd like to ask you to
engage the workforce on this page and express a personal opinion..... even if it is your
own "personal opinion".

or keep quiet, wait until retirement, or avoid the real issues until someone else gets hurt
or killed.

The field level wildland firefighters are listening and watching...
Follow the leader...
or Lead By Example...
Step up to the plate and address the issues head on....
as a leader.

Rogue Rivers
2/27 Ab,

Hopefully this will help in Sergiy's search for training. That is Black Mountains training schedule. It gets updated
every month.

(828)667-5211 That is the phone number to NC Forest Services District 1 office.
(828) 259-5636 That is the Asheville FD phone number, just ask for someone in training.
Finally, the Virginia DOF does a nice training seminar (from what I have been told, never
been) but, you can get info from their web site: www.vdof.org/info/training.shtml

Let him know that getting wildfire courses can be hard in this part of the country. Just keep
calling and be willing to drive; those are my big words of advice. Don't forget about the
National Forests and Parks in that area (Asheville IHC has to train sometime). Also when
you contact those Fire Departments ask about the regional fire seminars, sometimes they
offer S-130/190.

2/27 Lobotomy, you did not read the contract study very carefully or you would see that they made adjustments to the Cleveland Engine 34 personnel costs to some how make it equal a 3 person type 6 crew. Not excusing any of the bias or any other of the BS in the study but Don Carlton is a former FS employee and a major math brain. Not saying he is not biased to the contract side, but just that he knows how to build a study of this type.

As far as the money for a Hotshot Crew, $500,000.00 will fund a IHC crew for an entire year with 110 days of fire availability, with a Permanent Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent, 3 PSE Squadleaders and 2 PSE Senior firefighters, and 13 TEMP GS-4 Firefighters.

Seems like they could have found some more T-6 engines around to study instead of changing the numbers of a Model 62 on the Cleveland.

Contract fire resources are a fact of life like it or not. Some are good and some are weak just like agency resources.

Try to convince the powers that be of the merits of maintaining a fully funded professional national wildfire agency, if you believe that it is the government’s place to provide wildland fire protection.

If you want to see a private mercenary wildland fire protection system, then try convince them that the agencies with fire protection responsibilities are ineffective and cost too much.

There are millions and millions of dollars at stake in this debate, that is what it is all about.

I think I can see where it will end up if the current trend continues.

2/27 Dick Mangan's posting yesterday incorrectly stated there were two burnovers
on prescribed fire projects in Florida. This is incorrect. The first
incident referenced was NOT a burnover. There was no entrapment
whatsoever. The Nature Conservancy was conducting a burn with the
assistance of a crew from the Prescribed Fire Training Center. A wind
shift caused fire to threaten a mowed wetline. A TNC employee grabbed a
lateral line on a hose lay and cooled the fire down. The fire never
crossed the control line. Even though he had full PPE including a face
shroud, he received burns on nose and hand from radiant heat. Again this
was NOT a burnover. The local TNC FMO has an interagency team reviewing
the incident today, and any "lessons learned" will be shared through
appropriate channels. We all should realize that passing on
un-substantiated rumors can create lots of unneeded concern, phone calls
and general hassles for the folks involved. Wait for facts.

Joe Ferguson
Fire Management Staff Officer
National Forests in Florida
2/27 Nerd On The Fireline,
I can relate to and understand your reasoning about "non-crew drivers"...
Don't mean to ruffle any feathers here...but the reality is...sometimes ya just gotta get on the road to keep the gov't happy, why do they need to wait for a special driver to arrive to shuttle a crew to a new incident, when there is no doubt equally qualified crews that are "self-sufficient" that could make better time and provide services in a more timely manner?
I can only see this working to the benefit of EVERYONE involved, if the said "non-crew driver" were to travel with the crew to each incident, and essentially become a "camp-slug" while the crew is performing their work....then they are readily available for sudden changes in shift plans or incident changes.
Another alternative might also be to "stage" a pool of qualified drivers at a camp or a near by town/community to allow better access to their services if needed. The Gov't will end up paying the difference for the added personnel in the long run anyways...so why not make it a contract service, and supply each major incident with a pool of people that have driving experience in these conditions and use them as needed?

Just some alternative thoughts...
Thanks ,
Smoke-Chaser In ID
2/26 R6FF, great post...... You bring up important points.....

The study that you referenced had some glaring flaws.... I hope that the Fed's didn't really use it for a cost comparison. It was like COMPARING APPLES TO ORANGES or CATS to DOGS.

First, from my initial review, it appears that the contractor compared their costs for a type 6 fire engine with the FEDERAL COSTS OF A TYPE 3 fire engine. Hardly an equal comparison. It's pretty easy to "snow job" the people doing the study if the contracting officer doesn't have any fire experience or knowledge. APPLES and ORANGES.

Second, jump in here hotshots. Last I'd heard, a HOTSHOT (Type 1 Crew) was far less expensive than the proposed contractor-provided TYPE 2 crew at $509,226.92 .

Some glaring points that make this study useless if used....
from the study

"This study obtained actual cost data for a Type 6 engine module, a prevention unit, a twenty (20) person Type II hand crew, and a ten (10) person hand crew. These costs were collected from modules operated in fiscal year 2001 on the Coronado National Forest in Region 3, the Cleveland National Forest in Region 5, and the Wenatchee National Forest in Region 6. Field visits were made to each forest by the study team to collect actual module cost data."


I believe the Coronado National Forest information was of similar Bu>l>h>t or should I say B>uL>sh>t. Thats male cow dung for those sensitive and politically correct Region 5 readers who can't speak out in fear of offending anyone.


2/26 Domaque and Backburnfs,

Nice to hear voices of reason in this silly discussion. I would just like to add that many more truck drivers are killed annually than fire fighters. Maybe it would be a better idea to hire firefighters to haul freight. If you look at the incredible amount of miles and crazy conditions we drive a season, it is amazing we don't have more serious incidents as it is. I think this goes to show that the defensive driving training the agencies are using are working and no other measures need to be taken.

2/26 New direction from FS Washington office concerning fire and A-76.

Ab Note: this has come in from a number of people. We are only posting the beginning pertinent info from the memo.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
File Code: 1310-2
Date: February 25, 2004
Subject: FAIR Inventory Guidance in Relation to Fire
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Job Corps, and WO Staff

The Forest Service has worked with the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management on the coding of fire activities for the 2004 Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act Departmental Response and will use the following guidelines:

Fire activities should be entered into the FAIR Act database using Function Code S440 and use one of two subcodes A or B. These subcodes are described in our earlier guidance.

Some highlights of how to handle Fire include:
  • All policy, planning and management activities will be inherently governmental.
  • All qualified Initial Attack Incident Commanders, smokejumpers and hotshot crew will be IG.
  • All attack preparedness activities will be classified as Commercial, Reason Code A.
  • Other activities, e.g., prescribed burns will be classified Commercial, Reason Code B.
  • Support activities/functions e.g., human resources, facilities maintenance, etc., should be coded under their respective functional code, rather than S440.


2/26 About driving, FS rules are attend defensive driving every 3 years, Region
6 has also required CDL and 24 hour professional truck driving training for
many years for all vehicles over 26,000 GVW. This includes IHC Crew
Carriers, 500 and 1000 gallon engines, tenders, transports etc.
Maintenance costs reduced and better drivers as a result.

Hiring drivers for fire crews will only add to the cost and reduce the
resources capability to perform on the line. There are many ways to
mitigate driving time on fires such as locating satellite or spike camps
closer to the incident or using coyote tactics.

Last year on several incidents driving times from base camp to the line
exceeded 1 hour each way, add in an hour hike to the line and IMT's
insistence on returning to base camp to get "good rest" and you are talking
about 4 hours per day of travel time. This is putting crews on the line
just when things are heating up and taking them off the line before things
settle down for the night.

Overhead teams are not all the same and there is no consistency as to why
some allow crews to spike and some want all the resources in camp by 2000.
Management of travel time should be near the top of the list after safety
and tactics are considered. Line resources' input should be solicited by
overhead for ways to manage excessive travel time.

2/26 A couple of burnover events with personal injuries in Florida during the past 7 days on PRESCRIBED BURNS!!

1 person received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on a Nature Conservatory burn in conjunction with the National Prescribed Fire Training Center, west of Tallahassee, on 2/18/04;
3 Florida Department of Environmental Protection folks were "seriously burned" on a 250 acre prescribed burn on the St. Sebastian River Buffer Preserve on 2/24/04.

Both burns were planned events! Let's be careful, even on prescribed fires, folks!

Dick Mangan
2/26 Abs,
As long as everyone is reminiscing about pick up crews, I might as well add my memories.

I grew up in Placerville, CA in the 1960s. One summer, a fire known as Kelsey Mill and others in the Sierra foothills were running hard and fast. My father, who had no experience as a fire fighter, received a phone call from the Sheriff telling him to report to the ranger station for duty. My friend Stevie's dad got the call, too. Apparently, the sheriff started at the front of the phone book and worked his way through, ordering all "able bodied men" in El Dorado county to the fire lines.

Dad returned some time later looking like he had been wallowing with the pigs, and slept for two days. It's all us little squirts in the neighborhood could brag about for the next year. Of course, no one could tell us our dads weren't on par with John Wayne after seeing the tin hardhats and metal, four-cell headlamps they brought home. I still have the old headlamp around somewhere (don't tell the cache in Placerville, though. They still may be looking for it).

S.R. Sparky
2/26 Dear Sirs,
Could you please advise of the nearest place to Black Mountain or Ashville,
NC where it possible to take the S130 and S190 training.
Thank you,
Sergiy M

Hickman, NCCrew, NCBrush6 are any of you a Sir? Any ideas for training? ... I'm sure this has come up before, I just don't remember the answers. Ab.
2/26 D~ (sorry, your moniker is hard to spell)

As far as passing illegally, it may not have been that cut and dried. My recollection
from some report or other is that the driver had passed a vehicle and was moving
back into his lane when the non-passing stripe appeared. If true, how many of us
have made that kind of slightly wrong judgment call? When I have done it, I guess
I've been lucky not to meet a semi head on.

Can anyone remember the article or report I'm thinking of?

Tahoe Terrie
2/26 Ab;

I have to add my two cents about the non crew driver discussion. First, I must say that I am saddened by the senseless auto accident deaths on the First Strike crew last year. But, would a special driver really have solved the problem? If a special driver makes a bad decision and illegally passes a truck on a double line, wouldn't the result be the same? If you get special drivers for Hand Crews, what about Engine crews? What about single resource overhead? Don't they get fatigued on a fire?

I MIGHT agree that some extra training would be needed for those who are going to drive top heavy vans or six pack pickups if the accident was due to a rollover or driver inexperience. But the accident was due to a bad decision to pass a truck. I don't think there has to be anything done in response to this tragedy, there are defensive driving classes in place with the FS and some of the contractors do similar programs to reduce there insurance rates. I will say as an ENGB and CRWB(T), this accident has made me more aware that you have to keep your people safe on the road as well as on the fire.

Domaque (formally from Idaho, now from North Dakota!)
2/25 In response to the last part of WP's post, the law he references is still on the books in Idaho. Here's the pertinent Idaho Code verbatim (italics are mine):

The director of the department
of lands and his assistants, fire wardens, conservation officers and their
deputies and all other peace officers of the state are hereby charged with the
enforcement of the criminal provisions of this chapter and shall have full
power and it shall be their duty to arrest with or without warrant any person
found violating any of the provisions of this chapter or rules and regulations
of the state board of land commissioners after notice made pursuant hereto and
take him before a magistrate and make complaint, and when any such officer
shall have information that such violation has been committed he shall make
similar complaint.

The authority of the fire wardens respecting the control or suppression of
forest fires, summoning help or making arrests for violation of this chapter
or rules and regulations of the board may extend to any adjacent district or
to any part of the state in times of great fire danger, providing that in case
of conflict of authority resulting therefrom, the fire warden in whose
district the fire is located shall have ultimate control. In emergencies fire
wardens may commandeer tools, supplies and equipment and may employ
able-bodied persons or compel assistance of able-bodied persons and neither
the state board of land commissioners, the director, or his delegates, fire
wardens or deputy fire wardens, shall be liable to civil action for trespass
committed in the discharge of their duties; provided, that in performing their
duties they exercise reasonable care to avoid doing unnecessary damage.

On a side note, my father, who was a smokejumper out of McCall in the late '40s and early '50s, had several stories he would tell about he and other jumpers being put in charge of pick-up crews recruited from the bars of Weiser, Boise and McCall. I remember one that involved a two or three day hike into the fire in the central Idaho Primitive Area. By the time they arrived at the fire many of the crew member's shoes and boots had fallen apart and they had to hike back out barefoot.


2/25 A contractor's figures comparing contract vs agency fire.

Go figure.

2/25 Update on competitive sourcing, (WO Staff) 1310-1:

Fleet Management & Forest Inventory/Analysis data collection are officially
off the table for the Competitive Sourcing process this fiscal year '04.


2/25 Ab,

Looking back through some of the discussion on the Professional Biology (Firefighter) Series. Here are some docs explaining what qualifies for the series 0401.

Jackson, standards are for all FS, BLM, NPS, FWS, etc professional firefighters

GS-401 Qualifications Std, 8-28-02
Application of Education Experience GS-401 Quals, 8-28-02
Fire Mgmt Courses Creditable Towards 24hr Reqmt GS-401 Quals, 8-21-02

2/25 Ab and all,

I have not been able to read the board for a few days and did a little catch up, just a few comments and a bit of history re: hiring of crews out of the bars. It is true that way back when -- when men were needed for fire crews it was not uncommon to got to the larger cites (Portland and Seattle) and hire off of skidroad (skidrow). It is a fact that this was common practice in time of need. One could not go to the local town and get additional help as they were all employed and/or working the fire, "rangers" had to go where the unemployed were-sitting in the bars in big cites. The practice of hiring pickup crews with NO training and experience continued into the late 80's.

I was on a fire in Washington St. at that time near the town of Sultan and we were critically short of crews. Nasty piece of ground, no access - 2 mile walk to the base of the fire and 2000' straight up to the top. Inversion overhead, high temps and low humidity's. The order was placed for crews and into camp one night a Greyhound rolled and 40 people in new nomex and boots got off. They were recruited from the unemployment office off the streets of Seattle or Portland, given 2 days training and sent out to the fire line. Needless to say they did not last long, it seemed the only qualification was a beating heart. One of the crew members hired was physically disabled with one leg several inches shorter than the other but still sent out to work the steep ground, the young man did not last the day before quitting. I seem to remember about half of the crew quit the first day and most of the rest the second day, the new boots were as much as a cause as the ground. They were sent home on the third day (might of been day two-but it was a long time ago). I never saw "pickup" crews again that I can remember.

Also a note, there was a law on the books into the 1960s and maybe the 1970s that allowed conscription of private citizens in cases of emergencies to fight fires, stopping cars on the hiways and ordering the "men" to the fire line. My father in law tell a story of almost getting recruited in Idaho or Montana in the 50 or 60's. Anyone know if the law it still on the books.

2/25 Mellie <smooch back at 'ya> , as someone once said... "You can't teach
an old dog new tricks" .... and Mellie, I can't type a short post...

The Federal Land Management Agencies are trying to teach it's current
and prospective fire managers "new" tricks. The surprise is that these
"new" tricks are just the same old jobs that they have been performing
for years. The agency spin... it must be a new "trick" since it's in a
"new" classification series for fire managers.

The basic spin of the trick is..... keep them confused.... they won't
know what they are really seeing. The fact is, wildland firefighters
know all of the tricks. They KNOW and UNDERSTAND what they are seeing.

Wildland Firefighter Classification is the new "21st Century Trick".
The Federal Land Management Agencies and OPM are really good at trying to
hide their "tricks" in many different classification series.

The fact of the matter is: Wildland Firefighters are currently
classified (hidden) in over ten different classification series within the
federal government. Firefighter retirement has been applied to over twenty
different series. This was never the intended purpose of the OPM employee
classification or the entitlement to firefighter retirement coverage.

Education is the key...... The 0401 series (Biological Sciences or
Natural Sciences Professional) is not a fix to the "Wildland Fire Series".
It is only a stop gap, temporary fix provided by the agencies. It
obviously has failed if they have to fill a National Leadership position at
the GS-455-12 technician level and can't or won't fill it under the
GS-0401 professional series.

HOW CAN WE HAVE TECHNICIANS at the GS-12 Level (GS-0462 and GS-0455) IMPLEMENTING AND DIRECTING POLICY for PROFESSIONALS at the GS-9, 10, and 11 levels (GS-0401, GS-0460, and GS-0454)..... Ooops.... broken down system. It is in direct conflict with the current classification standards. PROFESSIONALS (SCIENTISTS) direct and supervise the work of technicians.

One series GS-2 through GS-15.... the Wildland Firefighter Series.

2/25 I am saddened to tell you that a west aussie volunteer fire fighter lost his life today when struck by a falling tree.


Condolences. Ab.
2/24 Mellie;

Favorite treat…hmm. We’ve gotten some great breakfast burritos (for those of you in more deprived parts of the country, that’s potatoes, scrambled eggs, green chile, and either bacon, chorizo, or chicharrones wrapped up in a tortilla with cheese), hot chocolate donuts are always popular on a long cold night on a structure fire (another point for wildland fire…you don’t usually get them at 25 below!), and we’ve got one lady who makes a mean frito pie (red chile, meat, and beans over Fritos…trust me, it works). Fights have started over the last half-dozen ginger snaps. We’ve done evacuations, disaster shelters, some long-*ss fires (structure and wildland), and I’d say it doesn’t matter what gets brought…gas-station powdered sugar doughnuts taste fabulous when you’re hungry, cold, tired, and they show up with a little sympathy for sauce.

Nerd on the Fireline
2/24 To all those looking for fire jobs it always helps to make some form of
personal contact. A face or voice with a name on quickhire goes a long
way. Just in case you haven't approached from this angle!!!

Thanks Ab
Terry T
2/24 To all those applying for jobs:

As someone who has been through the process many
times, it's a tough and often times confusing ordeal.
the frustration of having data erased can be
unbearable. then again, imagine if you were applying
to 20 different forests and had to fill out 20
different applications, not to mention BLM and NPS -
it would take forever. the process still has
problems, but it's getting better.

since we're on the topic, a little warning to those
applying: don't let your frustration at the system get
in the way of proofreading your application. check it
once, twice, and have someone unbiased check it too.
i accidentally omitted one question out of a few
hundred, and the computer kicked out my application!
i wasn't even considered for a job i was more than
qualified for. fortunately for me, i'm in a position
where it didn't cost me my livelihood for the summer,
but i know others aren't so lucky. so, word to the
wise - check and recheck!

good luck to those seeking jobs -

2/24 Taz Girl!

I have spent approximately 400 hrs applying online or filling the apps
out by hand or going to the post office or putting ink in my printer and
have apply for every permanent, term, temp, or other job in fire, fuels, or
maintenance, or motor vehicle from Alaska to Mojave, to Florida,
Tenn/Kentucky, VA, NC, and throughout the west and even Maine. I guess
this is what you have to do to get in. I might as well as I am laid off and
will have to go back to the fruit factory for a permanent job with benefits
for 10 an hr (A fate worse than death). Now there is nothing to tie me down
I want to be like the snowbird and live north in summer and south in winter.
I guess I will have to apply to everything unless I get lucky.

2/24 The Jobs page as well as the wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated. I think we have everything up to date after our isp move. Ab.
2/24 Here is a quote from the Australian NSW Premier Bob Carr 1/24/03.

"We can face the flame with a good heart and fight the battle that history
has brought us with a joke, a curse and a song".

I guess we could resolve to deal with AVUE the same way, since like fire it
is not going away very soon.


2/24 I just want to chime in with RH in my agreement that the online applications are ridiculous!!! Maybe once you have all your information entered in ALL of the websites, it would be convenient, but it takes a LOT of time to get to that point. I have been helping my FF apply for jobs and it has taken us hours and a lot of deciphering as well. Some of those job announcements are very ambiguous and confusing overall. One part of the announcement will tell you to mail it and another is telling you to submit it online. There was a separate announcement for what I swear were the same jobs, just that one of the announcements was an extension, yet the application instructions were totally different! It was very frustrating and took us a couple of hours to get through it all. And that was just FIREJobs, we still have to get through AVUE. It makes no sense to me at all. My FF probably never would've gone through with this application process if it weren't for my help and general pushy nature. He would be WAY too frustrated and lazy and just stay on his regular crew, instead of putting his toe in the water and seeing what happens. All just because of this bureaucratic nonsense and frustration.

I am also going through the same thing now that I am applying for dispatch jobs. I spent an hour and a half on one online application, only for all of my transcript info. to be LOST when my phone rang. We just got DSL, I'm not used to that kind of thing. Every class I took, the date I took it, credits earned, grade, at all FIVE colleges...erased! So you can see my frustration. The information they disseminate is confusing too, like the other person on this board says. They list all the locations, ask you to choose seven. And then list new locations under the same announcement number and ask you to choose another seven. You really have to keep track. Well, I guess I've ranted enough. Hopefully, you see my point. They need to get it together. I think they lose a lot of applicants due to the overwhelming nature of applying. It's easier to apply to grad school!!! Or at least figure out HOW to apply. Just breathe, just breathe.... Thanks for letting me vent.

Taz Girl

You go girl! Some of that roller derby persona coming out?... Ab.
2/24 SJ, I have some calls in trying to find the answer to your question. Basically you want to
know if applying for a job that says NATIONWIDE puts you in last place for consideration
for a job on a particular forest. I do know that in the past applicants were cautioned not
to put 9999 (willing to go anywhere) for location because those apps were considered last
after apps that specified locations. I don't know if that's still one of the options. Interestingly,
the hiring folks on local forests don't know the answer this early in the hiring process. I'm
working my way up the information food chain. In the meantime, Six Rivers at Lower Trinity
and Mad River are hiring. There have even been some nice spots on the news and in the
newspaper about the Apprenticeship Program through those forest locations. Northern CA
sees its share of fire.

Lobotomy, thanks for doing what you do for wildland firefighters. You are the CONSUMMATE
PROFESSIONAL wildland firefighter in my book. <smooch> It seems that many who
might dialog on federal wildland series, portal to portal and other issues are teaching at the
Academy or are otherwise involved in all the winter training craziness.

Rogue Rivers, your comment about the job being flown at the National Level not coming
under the professional 0401 series may be true. Is this a problem with the transition to 0401
or will it be an ongoing problem?

Good clarification on crew drivers, Nerd. I know some of the Familysaid contributors (Sammi)
suggested using non-crew drivers some time back. Seems logical. What is your vote for the
best treat for the relief driver to bring along?

Chainsaw Charlie, I haven't talked with Andrea lately. Is some of the inaction on chain saw
training exacerbated by the likely change in directorship of CDF? Is there anything she could
do at this time? If your reply is not appropriate for theysaid, please get in touch with me and
let's discuss it. Ab can pass an email on.

Sammi, we love you!


2/24 CDF Chainsaw Training:


What we need at this point is someone to file a complaint with CalOSHA. Management will not act on the information they have, meanwhile employees are exposed to injury and illness every time they operate a chainsaw without training. It is happening everyday and for no legitimate reason. Now there is a buzz word-IIPP!

CDF management is incapable of making a decision even when given all the facts to decide. It is exactly this type of management bamboozling that gets them what they will soon deserve. The internal email that was distributed to the training chiefs is excellent documentation of a violation of their own IIPP program. The guy who sent that out to everyone did the little fella out there on the end of a 371 a big favor. Email is a wonderful tool 'aint it? The bold type on the key points will really be an eye catcher for the regulators.

It will take another fatality or broken body for them to get moving again, but this time it will be CalOSHA. The highest managers in CDF will be at great personal risk because there is plenty of documentation out there of their inaction, and fortunately for us minions, their names are on it. Those minutes are all over the place too 'cause they get posted on the public board.

Sleep tight fellas, your day may come sooner than you think.

Where is the union?

"Chainsaw Charlie"

2/23 To lobotomy,

My friend, I for one agree with you completely. Those that don't may not be
close enough to the issue to really understand. I did recently write my
congressman regarding legislation on portal-to-portal and strangely enough
he hasn't written back! Keep fighting the good fight and rest assured
reason usually wins out in the end.

Terry T
2/23 Smoke Chaser in Idaho;

I think the point that is being made about non-crew drivers is that if the driver is a full, ‘normal’ crewmember, they will have been on the line and subject to firefighting fatigue, adrenaline withdrawals, etc. A non-crew driver would be fresh, or comparatively fresh, and less likely to make fatigue-related errors on the road. I don’t really see how a re-direct in mid-transport would be a problem. I’m also not real clear on how a designated non-crew driver would be detrimental to crew cohesion. As a vollie, I’ve found that our department support group members actually increase crew cohesion; we’re always glad to see them (especially when they bring homemade doughnuts and gingersnaps), and looking forward to them coming, speculating about what treats they’re bringing us, and welcoming them when they get to us makes our crew stronger. I think a well-chosen non-crew driver could take the same role.

Nerd on the Fireline
2/23 I have been applying for jobs around the country since Christmas and
one thing that is apparent is that the Fish and Wildlife Service has one online
system (Cares), BLM has two for Quickhire and Fires with NPS and USFWS, and
the Forest service has ads, with USAJOBS has one also. So I had to type 20
years of experience, temp and permanent at many duty stations plus schooling
and all else, three whole times and could only paste it twice. Then a good
many jobs only want mailed applications, except for the few who will let you
e-mail a resume. This is all the same government, after all, and a waste of
the taxpayers dollar and that includes you and me.

The good thing about this is that once in, you only have to point and
click. I can see the trend of a centralized online system but how far away,
two, three, or five years? I think it is an advantage to all as clicks will
be gotten around at least to some extent. This will eliminate a great many
personnel people across the agencies and truly streamline the government
where a great many personnel people are on a quasi break from fall until
spring. They will probably not fill the positions once the employees
retire. However, a lot of these employees fill fire teams in personnel time
recorder, equipment time recorders, communications, transportation, tool
manager, etc. in the fire camps of the west every year and they will be

2/23 I guess I've gotten to the point that I am questioning myself and my career.

I have been posting here since the "beginning" of Ab and wildlandfire.com.


1. Are there any other wildland firefighters still out there who have the gumption to still speak out and support the cause of proper classification? Are there better answers? A complete classification series from GS-2 to GS-15 has been our goal. Wildland firefighters need their own classification series.

2. Does any other federal wildland firefighter still think that portal to portal pay should be applied across the board, when the pay is already applied to cooperators and other federal employees.

3. Is there a need for a FEDERAL WILDLAND FIRE SERVICE saving the American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year?

I'd like to hear the discussion here........ If not, lets start the discussion in Congress....

2/23 To those who are hiring:

Some firefighters have told me that I do not want to get on a national cert. My boss last year told me the same thing. My question is if I apply for the USA OPM job below, does that put me on a national cert? Is it better to find the announcement for the exact places I want to work and only apply to only those ones?
Forestry Aid (Fire) GS-0462-03 Nationwide
Notes: Multiple Locations

Thanks for your time yet again.
2/23 I haven't written in for a while, but the Cramer Fire report really brings up some questions in my mind.

I read back through the theysaid comments on the Cramer Fire tragedy and like VFD CAPT, I wonder most at the time delays, half an hour here, 15 min there. When the firefighters called in they must have said what they were doing to someone. Why did they need more time? What were they doing? What did it take longer than expected to do? Was their equipment not working as well as expected? Was the cutting/clearing taking longer than expected? Did they like get into whatever they were doing and forget situational awareness?

When helitacks are sent out to make a helispot, are they told where to make it? Are they told to make it SO big or bigger? How much direction is given? It must be based on experience and what's going on at the time.

I realize that we will probably never know exactly what happened to them to cause them to make the choices they made. I would like to know more if more is known so I can remember not to do that myself. I wonder if any who investigated got a feeling about what happened to cause the delays they asked for.

Ab, you said investigations report the facts that are known. Do investigation people sometimes not say all they think went on?


Investigators do not speculate in reports. Ab.
2/23 I have some questions about Lobotomy's post on 02/20 about the 0401 series and the classification of fire positions, especially in the USDI agencies.

How come a National Fire Management professional position is being advertised as a "technician"? Are there different sets of standards to be applied?

If the local fire managers are required to be "professionals' and be qualified under the 401 series, why are the National positions not required to be?..... Just a guess.... it's called pre-selection. I would think that there is probably somebody who is rightfully in line to promotion to this position, but does not qualify under the 0401 series.

Just a guess.....not meant to offend anyone......

Rogue Rivers
2/22 Jason – I’m currently doing the same thing as you.. Here are some tips that will make things go smoothly for you.
  1. Have your transcripts ready. After my interview with the selecting official Human Resources demanded I provide them within 48 hours on a Friday night. (This meant digging in garage all weekend – a sunny weekend in Seattle L)
  2. Answer your telephone, or cell phone with phone courtesy, “Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening – This is Jason.” (Impressions are a big deal. Use call forwarding if you must.)
  3. Check your email often, besides fire fighting I received 4 emails asking if I wanted to be a 0025. (LE/EMS) After interviewing for a fire job human resources did nothing but email me.
  4. Have a list of all your strengths, qualifications, and desires. Go to monster.com or firehouse.com for interviewing tips.
  5. Have a list of all your questions for any hiring official.
    • (Example) When I was called they said, “Well we have a fire fighting position that has a lot of indoor admin time, about 50% of it is admin.” I said, “Well what is the other 50%?” Answer: Eatin smoke. *No problem. For me.
    • My first question: “Got housing?”
    • Got Engines? (don’t hold it against me.)
    • What cell phones work out there? (I’m an only child and of course I have to call mom…)
    • Resources (engines, crews, dozers)
    • Training?
    • OT hours last season was? (I’m paying out-of-state fees for school. Please a lot of OT! *crosses fingers*)
    • Going out of state any for details??
    • Fuels in local area?
    • Initial Attack?
    • Stuck on the forest?
  6. Have an idea of what you will or will not do. I.E. “I’m from Washington and I’m not going to Kansas unless there is gov’t housing, and I’m at least GS-03.”

Another important thing is be business like and professional. Have your boots ready – If that means you drive to Spokane for smokejumpers then hey – a road trip never hurt. Don’t forget to pile some rocks into your pack and start practicing for your pack test. At GS-04 you may have only 3 to 5 weeks to get ready for your season. Sample: Interview March 3rd – Season starts April 1st (ouch) .

Good Luck, Take Care – Stay Safe.

Another Jason from PS

Thanks Jason. Ab adds: If you delight in creative phone messages, for the time being change it to a business-like message.

2/22 Jason, if you are serious about getting a wildland FF job, mail a CLEAN application to the hiring
boss on that forest; a week or so later follow up with a phone call... Killer said it best.

Your questions are same as asked here every year, lots of info in the archives on this site, read
them! In the meantime, start running up hill & down hill wearing boots & a pack with about 40#,

AB, I remember when my kid called to say "they pay me to picnic in the woods!" - of course that
was long before the crew was sent to the LP for the 3rd time! <grins> my kids are still "picnicking"
in the woods occasionally, 10+ yrs later!

2/21 Office Bound,

I know that the Redding shots have a 234 power point, maybe they can give you direction.

2/21 Dear R6FF:

I worked for Bill Coutain on the Road Crew in Estacada in 97-98 and we
had the Douglas Dent Films in the S-212 course with Dennis Roberts as the
C Faller instructor.

2/21 Hey Ab,
Just wanted to touch on the subject of "non-crew drivers":

I find it hard to implement a "non-crew" member to drive for a fire crew, as alot of us are dispatched to a new incident en route to our home base or R&R location. If it were a strictly R&R situation, i could see the possibility of this, but what happens when we get a new incident on the way home from a 4 or 5 day assignment? A "non-crew driver" would be more of a hassle, why not use a "relief" driver, or a base manager that is not on an assignment? Better yet.. why not train more of our crews to drive....so as to always have someone as a relief in an emergency or other situations that would not warrant a normal crew member driver from doing this task??

Let's just make all Crew Bosses and Squaddies driver qualified...and maybe even train a couple of the regular fire fighters for "special-situation" driving...such as return trips home or to a R&R location?

I know everyone has their own opinions, but why bring in a "non-crew driver"?...we don't need to be shuttled around. and i think it might take away a little bit of the crew cohesion, having an outsider driving crews around after an incident...

Maybe the real factor in all of this would be, how far do they have to drive? How long will they be on the road? how long have they been out? are they returning to a base or responding to a new incident?

alot to factor into the equation........just my thoughts....

Smoke-Chaser In Idaho
2/21 Jason,

In regards to your post of 2/21, as a long time Hotshot Captain my preference is for folks to call and set up an interview with me prior to my hiring them. Phone interviews should be a last resort. I always felt that if a person wanted the job bad enough they would make the effort to call and set up an appointment to put a face with the cold list we use to select from.

Now that I am a BC, my direction to my Captains is to not hire anyone sight unseen. I encourage them to interview in person all potential candidates.

What are we looking for? Honesty, integrity and the willingness to do what it takes to achieve your goals. Don't be afraid to tell the individuals where else you have applied if they ask.

I would contact Captains where I would like to work via phone and set up an interview and ask them if they would like a resume sent to them. A short resume when you show up for the interview to leave with them is a good touch.

Follow-ups are essential, either phone or in person. It shows you still have interest in the position. If you do accept a job offer, courtesy call the other folks you interviewed with and let them know.

My 2 cents..........

2/21 Dear RH:

Just curious what years you worked on the Mt.Hood. I myself am a employee of MHNF and believe they put on a wonderful S-212 class and refresher. I believe they go out of their way in responsibly grading new saw operators. I also believe just because you are not a professional timber faller there is no reason that you can't become a C faller. I have seen some great C fallers with only 8 or 9 years of experience, and on the other hand have seen fallers with many many years be some of the scariest to be around. Well just had to drop my two cents.


2/21 Dear MTMOG:

I agree with you on the fact that a wildfire is no place to
card a person with falling skills as they will never acquire the skills that
an old faller who fell thousands and thousands of big trees over 30-40 years
to get the degree of experience. An old timer once in Hells Canyon told me
that a tree would barberchair as it was so brittle inside with the lean and
sure enough it did for the other younger faller. It was lucky that he got
clear. However, cutting trees out of the road can be pretty difficult. I
spent two years on the road crew on Mt. Hood and spent two months each
spring bucking up old growth Douglas Firs with a grader assisting me and
with two Stihl 064 saws and wore those chains out every day. I never
sharpened and refueled so much in my life.

Its all good, RH!
2/21 Good Morning All,

"Your application for the position of Forestry Technician (hotshot/handcrew),
GS-0462-04 at Nationwide has been evaluated. You were found to be eligible for
the position and your name was referred to the selecting official. If interviews
are conducted or additional information is needed, the selecting official or
someone from the Human Resources office will contact you."

Ok so I got an email with this inside today. I like what it says, but now my question is how can I increase my chances of getting an interview? Should I mail my resume out to stations I'm interested in? Go in person? What should I say or ask? I really want to get hired this season, I've been checking for jobs since like end of November and I've applied to BLM, NPS, and USFS. I just feel this is the career for me and I need to get started on it to show what I can bring to the table. Thanks guys, I'd really appreciate the help.


2/20 Hey Ab,

I have really been keeping up with "they said" since the Cramer report
came out. I noticed earlier alot of talk about the excessive
redactions but hadn't noticed any talk lately. I originally download
the report the first week it was out and was very upset with the
liberal use of white-out. Today I downloaded it again at a different
computer and noticed they have updated the text. There is much
less "white-space" and the only thing they have taken out in this new
posting is the names. It makes it much more readable. I didn't notice
anyone talking about it on the page, and apparently the USFS hasn't
made note of it either. Unfortunately the new copy is all black and
white and hard to see detail in the pictures. It looks more like a
copy machine piece. You really need both copies to get the full
effect. Anyway I just thought you and your readers would like to know.

Sign me:
-Idaho groundpounder

Thanks Idaho groundpounder. Here's the link again: www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/investigations/cramer/index.phpl. To see all the comments posted on the Cramer, go to the theysaid archives January 04. They start on 1/12.

Hint for finding all the posts on it: Simultaneously hit your control and F buttons; enter "Cramer" in the search space and check the "search backwards" box. You will then be able to follow the discussion resulting from the Cramer Fire Report.

Thanks to the powers that be for making a more readable version available. Ab.
2/20 For those going to the Division Chiefs Mtg on March 2, be sure you
VOTE ABSENTEE in the CA Primary. Tuesday Feb 24 is the deadline
in CA for requesting an Absentee Ballot by mail. Do it!


2/20 Re: Rodeo publication and display

Beth: do you have access to documentation from the fire? I was semi-attached to the first team that came in when the fire went to separate zones, and I know a good number of photos were taken. I may have a few stored electronically; I'd have to sort through various files. Do you have a way I could contact you directly?

Still out there as an AD

Let me know: I can pass messages on so you can communicate directly. Ab.
2/20 Does anyone know for sure about the chainsaw requirements for
CDF, a WILDLAND Agency??? Who else is at risk because of
the lack of training, if that is the case?

SoCal Cooperator
2/20 -AXE,

The story of how district rangers recruited firefighters in days past is
worth re-telling. It explains why line officers have oversight of today's
fire program. It doesn't mean it ought to remain that way - it just tells
how the fire organization got started.

It's worth re-telling this story because what are now respected
"professions" in law and medicine have similar backgrounds - a century ago a
person didn't need a degree to be a doctor or a lawyer, they just hung a
sign on their door. As firefighters, we happen to have got a later start in
bringing respectability to our jobs. This makes it relevant to the effort
at a special classification series and debates about 310-1 and 5109.17.

And lastly it's worth re-telling because it relates to other issues we still
face in today's fire service, like firefighter arson. I have been told - I
have no evidence to back this up - that wildfire arson dropped dramatically
with the hiring of regular crews and the end of the tavern-recruitment

Other than that, I'm just a captain with a volunteer fire department.

vfd cap'n
2/20 After more research... on chainsaw training. MTMOG as an ex FS FF, I agree completely with you. Read on about basic chainsaw training or lack of it.

I saw this *apparent* requirement in the official CDF department policy manual, but then I heard it was a "mistake" that was left there in 2002. Is this ass-covering or what? Say someone without the training gets hurt or dies, can CDF Management now say, well, they should have been following these regulations? even tho the regulations are bogus, in that there are no regulations at all?


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
(Limbing, Brushing, Bucking, & Felling)
(October 2002)

CDF personnel may be called upon to limb, buck, or brush and fell
trees while assigned to emergency incidents. As this is hazardous
work, the following items shall be considered before felling trees.
Remember; don't be afraid to say "No!" if you are uncomfortable with
the cutting assignment.

  • No CDF personnel (including inmates and wards) shall operate a
    chain saw unless they have completed or are enrolled in the CDF
    approved chain saw course (NWCG S-212) except in case of
    emergency where life is immediately threatened.
  • Chain saw operators in training may operate chain saws under
    direction of a certified chain saw operator.

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

2/20 The classification games continue.
After pushing hard for the GS-401 series for professional fire management, the BLM is hiring the below position as a GS-12 Supervisory Range Technician (National Interagency Fire Coordinator).

Obviously, they found that there were very few fire managers who could qualify for this position at the GS-401-12 classification. Unfortunately, they have also been finding that filling GS-401 jobs at the GS-9, GS-10, and GS-11 grades also aren't bringing in the qualified fire managers.

As the Forest Service plugs away headstrong towards the GS-401 series for fire managers, I hope they take a look at the successes and failures of the USDI agencies who were first to jump on-board.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Vacancy Announcement Number: BLM/FA-04-35-MP
Opening Date: Friday, February 20, 2004
Closing Date: Monday, March 22, 2004
Position: Supv. Range Technician
Series & Grade: GS-0455-12/
Promotion Potential: 12

Serves as the National Interagency Fire Coordinator for the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC). Plans, organizes, and coordinates total mobilization of nationwide fire and emergency response resources. Assumes all duties of the NICC manager in his/her absence. Responsible for NICC office policy and technical guidance of the operational systems. Evaluates adequacy and effectiveness of NICC operational systems through periodic reviews. Exercises full supervisory responsibilities of the NICC staff, including developing positions descriptions, evaluating performance and developing training plans. Responsible for development, implementation and monitoring of the NICC budget, including developing and coordinating the request for interagency funding. Monitors fire danger and severity indexes. Interprets weather forecasts and indexes in determining appropriate responses to national situations. Recommends priorities and allocation of critical national resources. As the first level decision maker regardless of agencies involved, coordinates the allocation and mobilization of national resources with the Geographic Area Coordinators. Provides counsel and direction as appropriate. Responsible for the preparation of the National Interagency Mobilization Guide.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2/20 AL,

In my opinion, CDF is liable, and especially in the area of chain saw use. OSHA has specific requirements that no one may use a chain saw without training. In general, OSHA regs regarding safety require an employer to provide general training in any equipment or PPE that the employee will have to use.

Currently there is no CDF requirement for chain saw use.

2/20 There are two memorials for First Strike. One is at the crash site on us hwy 20 about 18 miles west of Vail, Ore.and the other is at First Strike corporate office at 204 Quarry Rd., off of Diamond Lake Blvd. Roseburg, Ore. Yesterday's news review had a picture of the road side memorial, as well as part of the one at First Strike.


We have pictures of the Roadside Memorial from Kathy and FirenWater, but looks like we didn't get them listed on the Memorials and Monument Page. I'll have to track them down and list the two sites under Oregon. Ab.
2/20 Hi Folks,

We just returned from the annual National Wildfire Suppression Association meeting in Reno, NV. I think the meeting was a huge success. Lots of good information was dispersed, a wide range of subjects were covered by some very knowledgeable speakers and the Board put forward a great event.

The one thing that really got my attention was the out-pouring of generosity at the fund raiser auction for the Wildland Firefighter Memorial Foundation. Members of the NWSA raised over $25,000! The next time that I hear some neighbob of negatism complain that the contract firefighter is in it only for the money, all we need do is point out acts like this. The NWSA has raised the level of professionalism, training and acceptability of the vendor community. Many thanks to Rick Dice, Debbie Milley, Mike Wheelock, Bruce Fergusson and the many others who donate their time and money to make the NWSA what it is.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has done great work. They not only lend support to contract personnel but to all firefighters (Federal, State and all others) and their families in times of tragedy. I would encourage all firefighters to reach deep into their pockets and give to this Foundation. Vicky Miner's leadership of this Foundation is all volunteer and she has done a great service to the fire service, thanks Vicky!

An interesting side note: the meeting was not only attended by the private sector but was also attended by several State and Federal firefighters as well. Additionally, several retired BLM and USFS personnel were also in attendance and some are now Board members.

Everyone stay safe,
Rock of Wood's Fire and Emergency Services, Inc.

Links to both of those organizations are on our Classifieds page. Nothing like networking. Ab.
2/20 Hi Al,

Taking S-212 may qualify you to operate a chainsaw - it doesn't make you a faller. I've been operating a saw for over twenty years and still wouldn't consider myself a C faller since I just don't fall that many hazard trees. Cutting a downed tree off the road to get your engine through is one thing, falling timber takes experience, and personally I don't think that an active wildfire is the time or place give it a try or "happen into" a fallers position....Just my personal opinion....

2/19 Has any one heard that the Forest Service in R5 maybe going to a all risk fire
department in the future? And what are your thoughts about the FS going to
all risk. Is it good or bad?

2/19 Hello!!

Our district is putting together a brochure and various larger display
panels for the Rodeo-Chediski Fire '02. I am specifically looking for
several photos with firefighters, preferably on the Rodeo-Chediski Fire. I
will need the negative or a copy of the negative and if they are digital
the resolution needs to be 150dpi or greater.

Do you have any in your archives? Is it easy to get permission to use

Thanks for your time!

Readers, I don't think we have any photos from that fire. Anyone have photos to share with Beth? Ab.
2/19 vfd cap'n:

I'm sorry, but what the hell is your background? I
know other people have asked; and have been told, but
you said this:

the district ranger at Mann Gulch was still recruiting
firefighters just like the sheriff got his posse -
from the local bars.

why the hell bring up Mann Gulch??? Everyone knows
that *most* wildland firefighters at that time were
hired out of bars -- hell, many smkj's were only in
the 19-22 year old range. Mann Gulch had nothing to
do with USAR & SAR; in fact they are three completely
different things; in a way not associated to actual
wildland firefighting. Furthermore, Mann Gulch had
nothing to do w/ the District Ranger who hired people
from bars; it dealt w/ jumpers who were unknowingly
caught w/ fire below them without an escape route.

What the hell are you talking about; and where is your
information from?


2/19 I just thought I'd let every one know in reference to the first strike
story, a contractor in R5 has been teaching driver training since the
company's inception and have been sending drivers to pick up crews that
have exceeded work/rest for the past two seasons. They have made their
vans limited use and utilize crew hauls and suburbans for the fire crews.

This stuff is not new, its just too bad there had to be fatalities for
others to catch on.


Excellent. Ab.
2/19 S-234 Ignition Ops

I am Wondering if there is any S-234 powerpoints someone has put together,
I have looked at every Training/webpage around and this is one I cannot

I appreciate anybody's help

2/19 Charges dropped against First Strike.

Case dropped in firefighter crash

"In exchange for the county dropping the criminal charges, the company
agreed it would bolster its safety program by sending fresh drivers to pick
up workers from protracted firefighting jobs."


Does this reopen the discussion of having non-crew drivers? Ab.

2/19 Thoughts? I heard this came out in an email yesterday to all CSR Training Chiefs:

There is currently NO approved CDF Chainsaw policy nor is there currently
a CDF approved training curriculum or program relative to chainsaws.

What about a S-212 course for CDF? Anyone know the liabilities? Given
that falling snags/faller deaths come in second behind car accidents, seems
some sort of formalized training curriculum should be in place if nothing more
than to protect those of us who could be injured.

If a CDF firefighter who "happened into" a faller position was injured or killed on a large
fire managed by a team, would fed management be liable?


2/19 re: River's question - "can anyone explain why SAR is Law and USAR is Fire?"

The short answer is because that's who got called first.

In the western states, search-and-rescue naturally evolved from the local
sheriff's ability to deputize a posse (often recruiting drunks from the
bars) to chase the desperados across rugged, wilderness terrain. As more
of the West was "won" and became used more for recreation, the services of
the posse were requested for different purposes. SAR-teams (many still
called "sheriff's patrol") are called out more now to find and retrieve the
lost and injured.

Urban-SAR is a function associated with Fire because who else would people
call? So, that's who responds to building collapse from earthquakes and
explosions and heavy snow and lousy construction. Eventually folks on these
fire departments caught on that it takes specialized training and equipment,
and FEMA was there to provide it.

There are parallels here to wildland fire. Some 50 years ago, the district
ranger at Mann Gulch was still recruiting firefighters just like the sheriff
got his posse - from the local bars. Eventually wildland fire became more
of a profession, (with full-time crews, national training standards, etc.) -
but there's still a ways to go for recognition as such. And, over the last
decade there's been the move to all-risk, as wildland people got called to
different things because they were around to be asked.

vfd cap'n
2/18 Attached is the flyer (42K pdf file) announcing an exciting Workshop coming up in the Spring 2004 titled

"Managing the Unexpected in Prescribed Fire and Fire Use Operations: A Workshop on the High Reliability Organization."

It's basis will be the recent book by Dr. Karl Weick, who authored earlier papers on the "Breakdown of Decisionmaking" on Mann Gulch and South Canyon fatality fires. The Workshop is sponsored by a number of leading wildland fire agencies and organizations, shown on the front cover of the announcement.

Because of the short lead time for this Workshop, I'm asking that you each forward the announcement to as many folks as you can on your e-mail lists; feel free to make hard copies and send them out, too!

Any questions, give a call! Thanks in advance for your assistance in getting the word out. Hope to see you in Santa Fe!

2/18 Fire Management Today, a publication produced by the USDA Forest Service is
seeking entries for its annual fire photo contest. Please share this
information on your Wildfire Lessons website, using electronic mailing
lists, or other means if possible. This contest is open to all, prizes are
awarded, and the deadline is March 5, 2004.

This flyer and the 2003 winning contest photos are posted at

Thank you for your consideration. Please contact me if you have any

Karen Mora, for Fire Management Today

2/18 I believe that the Pacific Northwest USFS contract to monitor the WCT
administration only costs the Contractors $10 per person.

2/18 Coyote,

If the owner of your company had been up on things, he would have known that the "pack test" is going to be contracted out. That would have meant you only taking it once. But then again, taking it again probably would not hurt you. The test being contracted out, in my point is a good and bad thing. Good because it will be properly administered and the people who are taking it will have to show proper identification. So now Joe Blow will be Joe Blow taking the test. Bad because it will cost the contractor a whole lot more. I am also pretty sure all the region 6 crews will be doing it this way This year, and the National Crews will be doing it in the up and coming year.

2/18 Kirby;
Tim & several others did a fantastic job answering your questions… (look into the realm of Hazmat as a specialty if you plan to continue your educational options).

*what I've been waiting for was some FED to mention USAR.

USAR teams are comprised of FEMA certified specialized "stuff" professionals who are deployed to all major disasters, world wide!
most communities have SAR (volunteers) called upon by law enforcement for search & rescue - usually short term. USAR is attached to a FIRE DEPT & is a highly skilled multi-tasking team of professionals deployed to major disaster response & initial recovery efforts.
(can anyone explain why SAR is Law and USAR is Fire?)

2/17 Kirby;

Tim did a really good job of answering your questions…he’s from a large and well-respected agency, so he’s got one (very good) perspective on being a firefigther. I’m from a very small volunteer fire department, so I thought I’d chime in too.
1.) Are there different kinds of firefighters? Like a driver, or ladder man?
In our department, we’re small, so we don’t have the luxury of giving people different, defined jobs. Basically, everybody does everything. The two exceptions to that are medical folks and HazMat folks. We’ve got a few people who do EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) work but not fire, and not all of our people are trained to do HazMat work.

2.) What's the best part about being a firefighter?
I really enjoy it when we can walk into a situation, medical, or fire, or anything else, and make people feel better. I live and work in very, very small town (less than 2,000 people) so very often our patients and homeowners are people we know, and it feels good to make them feel safe.

3.) What's the worst part about being a firefighter?
Like Tim said, it’s seeing death. You really don’t think about it, but people think that you call 911, and everything gets better. We ARE 911, and sometimes when you can’t make everything better like everybody thinks you should, you feel like a failure. It really hard, but really important, to take a step back and realize that you’ve done everything you can, everything you were trained to do, and maybe the house was going to burn, or the person was going to die. That’s hard.

4) Why did you choose to become a firefighter?
I thought it sounded like fun, and good way to meet people after moving to a new town. I thought I could do it “just a little bit” and just fight wildland fire, but the next thing I knew I was doing medical, structure, and HazMat too.

5) What is your daily firefighting schedule like?
As volunteers, we really don’t have a ‘regular schedule’. We all carry radios, and when we get paged, we go to the station, and get ready to respond, either with the ambulance or with the fire trucks. We have meetings three or four times a month, and most of us meet after our full-time jobs at the station to talk, practice skills, or do paperwork. None of us get paid, so we basically just work fire around the rest of our lives.

6) Are you ever scared?
Yes. Every time the ambulance goes out, or the fire engine, I’m a little scared. Every time, I hope that nobody’s really hurt, that it’s nobody I know, that none of my department gets hurt, and that we don’t make any mistakes that are going to make the situation worse. I don’t like it when people call us heroes; it’s not that we aren’t scared, or that we’re braver than anybody else, or that we’re better people. We’re just the people who decided to get the training, and stick with it, and go out and try to make our town a safer place.

Nerd on the Fireline
2/17 Dear FF0121,

While fire managers and other agency bigwigs might not be the sharpest
tacks in the box at times, they do understand the marching orders that the
politicians at the Administration level bestow upon them with great gusto.
The Bush Administration has made it's wishes known that it would like to
see less people working for the Federal Government and more working in the
private sector (AKA contractors). With this political philosophy in mind,
perhaps you might come to realize that in the eyes of the Administration,
not only are your beloved and "much needed mechanics" expendable, so are
you and those bubble-headed managers who ultimately stand between you and
the Administration. The electorate who elected the present Administration
are the folks who ultimately determine who is expendable, not your
so-called mis-managers. We shouldn't dump our baggage on managers just
because they are the lucky one's who get to carry out the wishes of
clueless politicians, who pander to the "free-lunch" crowd who now run the

In the end we are civil servants and if the public doesn't value our
services, then we are obliged to find another market for our services.
Take your complaints to the ballot box next November. That's how
governance works in the good 'ol USA.
P.S. If you ever happen to find that "free lunch" that everyone keeps
hoping to find- please let me know.

Manager Moe aka- Stuck between Iraq and a hard place.
2/17 Fire mis-managers

I wonder if the powers that be ever stop and think about the decisions that they make on a daily basis? Do they understand the repercussions of the knee jerk reactions they make and how those decisions affect the fire community? To me, they act like a eighteen year old with a brand new credit card. Holy cow, a 10,000 dollar limit at 18% (sounds good)? I only have to make a minimum payment for 20+ years and it's free money at the time. But, the bank wants the money and eventually that 18% catches up to them. Not only does it affect the card holder, but everyone else around them. Any well trained first responder, EMT or Paramedic knows that without Airway, Breathing and Circulation the human body will shut down and expire. Without taking care of "A" the rest means nothing. Without sticking to the basics, nine times out of ten the patient will make a turn for the worse and the plot will thicken. The job that a firefighter is asked to do on a daily basis (regardless of agency) requires them to have honor and most importantly integrity. To face up to their decisions (good or bad) and to be accountable at all times. Being accountable and showing integrity are traits that most fire and forest managers don't have. I think at one point in their careers they did, but as they moved up the ladder they forgot to bring the basics with them. I've seen the affects of Outsourcing and what it's done to our mechanics. I fear that what the managers have done is just the beginning of a long oozing bleed that can't be stopped. They have opened a door that they in the long run will have wished they had never opened. They remedied a problem with the budget by selling out our much needed mechanics. And for what, to save a buck or to do it more efficiently? Times are tough, but staying with your folks and working the problem is the only way to get through the tough times. Running and hiding or selling out is not the way to do business. Work with what you have, don't over spend and don't bit off more than what you can chew. So for all of our eighteen year old new credit card holding fire and forest managers, cut up those cards and support your people. Without us you are nothing.

2/17 Holly Bejeezus...... What a load !!!! From the jobs page.....

The Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest's, Entiat Ranger District will be recruiting for a Supervisory Forestry Technician (Fire Crew Leader) position. This will be a Permanent Seasonal position (18 pay periods guaranteed). The position is located in Entiat, Washington and works for the Assistant Fire Management Officer. Position is a primary firefighter position for the purposes of retirement.

The position is responsible for supervising a 28 person Initial Attack Crew during fire suppression.....Serves as initial attack Incident Commander on wildland fires on both Forest and interagency cooperator lands, assists with implementation of the prescribed fire program. Provides for the safety and welfare of the crew, implements training in compliance with applicable requirements including the Incident Command System, fire suppression principles and procedures, fireline construction, hose lays, and training in the use of appropriate personal protective equipment.
.............blah blah blah


This position was classified as GS-462-7 Supervisory Forestry Technician (Fire Crew Leader) , a position that was meant to supervise a ten person crew or less.

This position should be re-classified as a GS-9 under current National classification standards.

2/17 Old crusty guy and Mellie, GREAT POSTS!!!

These are some important issues and great ideas and perspectives. Hopefully they will be some of the key topics presented at the California Chief Officers Workshop / Hotshots Workshop / Captains Workshop in Reno in a few weeks. If they aren't key topics, I'm sure there will be after hours discussions to address the issues.

Hope to see you all there and discuss our profession....


p.s. - I've heard that there is going to be an informal gathering of FWFSA members and interested parties one of the nights... any info?
2/17 I've updated the Jobs page as well as the wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455. I'm still trying to get all the links to the new location updated since we've moved. These links go to the most recent update. Ab.
2/16 RH

You need to read my post again. The point I was making was not about job classification or wages. Although correct classification of a job is a nice thing. I stated that I enjoy my job regardless of it's title.

I have continued my service blindly, without proper classification, pay, or recognition because I believe in the value of the service that the Forest Service Fire Organization brings to the American public. I am bummed out that the government could even fathom outsourcing or contracting these firefighting jobs. It is especially discerning during this day and age of national security and economic issues.

Do you realize that Forest Service resources constantly participate in national disasters other than fire? For instance, most recently the WTC and Pentagon attacks of 911, the Northridge, CA. earthquake, the Columbia ST 107 disaster, and the Newcastle disease incidents. We also give support for hurricanes and disasters that hit Guam, Puerto Rico and other U.S. interests.
I do not believe that giving a contact to some private company will ever facilitate the same quality of service. I think this is an inherently governmental job!

Something about contracting, ... do you realize that our mechanics jobs were outsourced to a company based in England? How does that help out domestic finances? Just wondering, but do you also support illegal immigrants obtaining amnesty for work in the U.S.?

It is a lot more than a paycheck that I am talking about, it is the desecration of a vital National Service. The Forest Service does not need to shy away from these duties and services to the public, it needs to step up to the plate to provide the service that it has shown it can.

I am sorry that after all this time you have not been able to promote past a seasonal job. Do not blame your current position on lack of ethnicity, that might be part of your problem. I to am white. I have a job, and I have some pride and dignity about what that job represents. That is my bitch! Re-read it 'till it makes sense to you.

Old crusty guy
2/16 Thank you AB.

I appreciate that you put both of my last two posts up for view. These
people for the most part on here are ones in charge and do not really
understand what the rest of us are going through. Nowdays the six month
seasonal permanent appointments are in vogue but unless it is an outstanding
fire season the appointees cannot afford to buy the bennies or retirement
and carry the med. over for the six months they are off. Unless it is an
outstanding fire season the unemployment goes way down. I think that the
government ought to give free quarters and that would go a long way to
helping the short term or long term temporary.

From now on I will after being wiped out in a divorce use my bros.
address as home of record back east and try to go north in summer and south
in winter and try to piece a living together as a temporary.

The taxes are so high on a single person especially the oppressive state
taxes of Oregon that this is what I will have to do with no retirement if I
should live so long to reach the full ssn benefit I would be 70 and by then
the government will probably raise the age again.


2/16 Everyone,

Thanks for the feedback on the 401 requirements. I am reviewing the NWCG papers on how one qualifies for the 401 and what the timeframe and options are. The HP woman on another Sierra forest where my friend worked before did tell him that a BA from a four year college was required before any other alternative fire courses could be counted. This is different from what I remember when I researched this last year and from what the NWCG documents say. Guess she is WRONG (in capital letters). Now why should I be surprised! I sometimes wonder why the HR people are so far out in left field. Maybe we don't hear the good they do - only hear when they screw up... The few I know are good people.


I do not say that fire people are uneducated. If you have read here long you will know that I have always said just the opposite, that they're more trained than any other group I can think of. My observation is that wildland fire managers who are nearing retirement do have a larger proportion who did not go the college route in the 1970s following Vietnam. Some are ex military. For many firefighters, sitting in classes being told what to do, memorize this, memorize that, might have been particularly meaningless at that time. Also, education inflation has proceeded exponentially since the '70s and a college degree is now considered the equivalent of the high school degree of the previous generation. For some then, the academic path did not suit and was not encouraged/required by fed fire management and the fire organization. It's hard to go back to college especially when living remotely while pursuing a full-time career. It is my observation that many firefighters learn primarily kinesthetically (by doing) rather than primarily by auditory or visual modes which was more the style of teaching used in the 1970s. I don't know based on statistics, just observation.

The reason I wrote my last post is that I do know that on one of my forests at remote (and not so popular) RDs, most of the old dogs do not have college degrees to begin with and they cannot just add on. When they retire (sooner than later because of the new NWCG requirements), who will be hired to take their places? The remote locations are not sought after. It is often hard to get people to apply. If people do come, they often do not stay long. I am concerned. I would like the experienced oldies to stay as long as we can keep them until we get a new crop of experience coming up. Unfortunately I am fairly sure the new requirements will send them packing. Then our kids will be at risk. We see lots of fire.

Aside from specific problems involving my guys here, I can see other problems with the transition. For those without the college degree or the courses (23 units, 18 units etc, etc) I do think there will be problems getting the requirements done within 3 years. I researched and wrote about this in more detail on a theysaid post a year ago. That was my conclusion then, too. There are not enough people/organizations doing the training that is needed. Has that changed? I need to go back and find that post...

Nerd, vfd cap'n,

I did want to say something about situational awareness. Vfd capn, you could say that SA is about maintaining an ongoing reality check, in that it is the degree that "perception matches reality". Remember, however, that perceptions of reality are founded on experience. This is especially true when we're talking about blowups and decisions leading to survival. Remember the Baysian analysis thread, in which the current decision is based on the experience that preceded it?

Nerd, you said "train our people to have good SA when they encounter situations they have never encountered before". I would say that "alerting to an emerging situation" or "applying a reality check on a situation" has many varied aspects that come into play from a human factors perspective, especially if you don't know what parts of reality are important for survival. You might see signs relating to changing fire behavior. You may not know that those signs mean that it's going to go gunnysack and you should drop your tools and run NOW. Having others around complicates things. On the one hand more heads (especially experienced or leadership heads) may be better than one. On the other hand, more heads can reduce the chance that any one head acts (social comparison - if all of them are not concerned, I shouldn't be, we must be OK). WHAT IS REALITY? even if you're staying or think you're staying situationally aware?

There's an old salt of a law enforcement guy from socal that gives seminars on risk and risk management. Can't remember his name. He has a website, I think. He spoke several years ago at the Division Chiefs' Workshop. He points out that events can be categorized as low and high risk and low and high frequency. If they are categorized on both axes, they can be

low risk/low frequency ----> not so risky and doesn't occur too often
low risk/high frequency ----> not so risky and you can train for it
high risk/low frequency --------> this is the one that matters for survival
high risk/high frequency -------->this one you can train for

This is a useful way to look at events that cause accidents, burnover and death. I know after that meeting the Plumas went home and had a simulated helicopter crash. I heard that some fire shelter deployments were practiced in high winds. Can you think of a relevant high risk, low frequency event that might be practiced? Seems that solving tragic fire events using the fire signature prediction method might be a useful way for groundpounders to start to get a handle on changing fire behavior. Seems like finding a reliable way for fallers to be signaled when a snag is coming down would be another. Using a ride along method of training where you actually go to the fireground and walk and talk over decisions that were made is also excellent.

Just some thoughts. This ended up being longer than I planned.

Looking forward to seeing some of you at the Division Chiefs Meeting.

2/16 Tim, you're my hero. And you failed to mention that when not doing all the above, you are putting on classes for new firefighters and/or making sure the communities you serve are prepared to handle any event, such as the bark beetle. And sometimes even shuttling equipment around.

And with a smile on your face too..

2/16 Tim, great reply to Kirby....

Kirby, the Fed side... (Federal Agencies) also do the same things as Tim said but.... we don't provide paramedics or HAZMAT teams though..... The Fed's do provide EMT's and Medical First Responders as well as HAZMAT First Responders to initial responses..... but not a paramedic or HAZMAT team response. The Fed teams also support national disasters and responses to non-traditional emergencies as CDF does. There is no difference in the CDF or the USFS version of the wildland/urban interface problem. CDF and the USFS are equal collaborating agencies when it comes to protecting the wildland areas of California.

2/16 Re: Old Crusty guy and wage classification

Quit your bitchin, You have a year round job, med. bennies, and a retirement. I am 48 and have none of those things with 17 years (seasonal) fire experience. Viewed as an old dinosaur and not a vet, hispanic, peace corps, woman, or black, how in the world can I get in? You have it rough!

2/15 Kirby,

I work for the California Department of Forestry and Fire protection in Riverside. We call ourselves an ALL-RISK fire department because even though we were originally chartered for forest, grass and brush fires. Over our history we have become California’s Fire Department in areas that are not protected by another city or county fire authority. We respond to all kinds of emergencies including fires, floods, earthquakes, riots, and last year our incident management teams were coaching and managing the outbreak of Newcastle Disease in the commercial chicken flock in California. So we do it all!

Here are the answers to your questions from my perspective.

1) Are there different kinds of firefighters? Like a driver, or ladder man?

There are as many specific jobs as you can imagine. There are drivers, hose persons, ladder or truckers, paramedics, rescue people. We are all trained to be firefighters first but then we may specialize in a certain skill. Our Ladder truck people are trained in all kinds of rescue and ventilation , our helicopter crews are trained in wildland firefighting and rope rescues. The fire engine crews do a little of everything. Our fire crews are cross trained in fire and flood fighting and were used in December to clear earthquake debris. Each engine has a driver who can be a Captain or Engineer rank, and 1 to 3 firefighters. Our Truck Companies have a Captain, an Engineer (driver) and 2 or 3 firefighters. We have 2 Hazardous Materials Teams with Captain Engineer and 2 firefighters that specialize in spills and releases of toxic chemicals. Our Paramedic Ambulances and Squads are usually 2 Paramedic-Firefighters.

The basic ranks are (from low to hi) Firefighter, Engineer (usually a driver –operator), Captain (usually a supervisor), Battalion Chief (supervises several Captains), Division Chief (several Battalions), Assistant Chief (usually staff type positions) and then the County (Unit) Fire Chief.

The Captain rank appears in all functions, crews, Command center (dispatch), Fire Prevention Law Enforcement and Planning/Engineering, Helitack, Air-Attack, Public Information, Training, HazMat, Paramedics, and even GIS/Pre-Fire Planning.

2) What's the best part about being a firefighter?

I like being outdoors, using radios, managing fires, using aircraft, hiking, using maps, camping, and of course there is a great satisfaction arriving at the scene of a fire and putting it out. The best part is coming on scene of a problem and solving it with the resources available.

3) What's the worst part about being a firefighter?

We see too much death. Children are especially difficult. And fellow firefighters are hard.

4) Why did you choose to became a firefighter?

All the reasons in 2) above. There is a lot of satisfaction in this job. And it is lots of fun. Fun is very important to me.

5) What is your daily firefighting schedule like?

I work 3 consecutive days in a row. Each day is the same except for fire and other call interruptions. But in a way, you never know what will happen next. By the end of the day we could end up anywhere in the West on a large and damaging fire. But mostly we start the day with Breakfast, then clean the station, then go out to the engine to make sure it is ready for the day. After that we usually hike or do some kind of physical fitness activity. Then lunch, after lunch we work maintaining the equipment and station or do some training activity.

6) Are you ever scared?

Not often but there are always scary things happening. One of the scariest is driving with lights and siren! It sounds fun but people don’t know what to do or they don’t hear you and pull in front of you. When you are driving fast, it is dangerous. Fires always present some danger. All calls have some danger in them even if it's being exposed to a communicable disease, or live powerlines, or violent people. Its always something. The key is to respect all calls as potentially dangerous and always keeping good situation awareness.

If you have any other questions this week, please feel free to email me at

2/15 Ab, I'm looking info on a fire, that took the lives of 5-6 firefighters on a Humphreys
trail in montana, it was on dateline nbc. do you know when it aired?
it also covered how the heat blanket failed.
2/15 Dear RMR:
The rules and classifications do not mean a hill of beans. At the <snip> BLM an appointee was given a Fire Ecologist position as a GS-9/11 with twenty years of fire experience and little schooling. He no doubt is good at fire as I can testify having been out with him many times he knows his sh*t inside out but on the fire science/botany/flora/fauna he knows next to nothing!
All others have to have a four year degree in science. Does he being Hispanic have anything to do with the appointment. Quit unfair to the rest of us . Fire5
2/15 From Firescribe, a few stats/trivia on this last year, oops, this fiscal year:

Of the 450 million dollars allocated annually for the emergency pot for fire
suppression (non-MEL), already $77,430,835 or 17% have been spent on
the SoCal siege, 10 days in the Fall 2003. This does not include any direct
structure protection costs, just wildland. Structure costs were picked up by
local and state fire agencies and FEMA. I don't know what those costs
were. BAER costs, also not included in MEL funding, have been
2/15 Concerning Pro-vs-Tech talk

I have held my thoughts for a while. But now I just have to say a few thing.
Those that are thinking that Fire Folks don't have collage knowledge think again.
A LOT of us already have BS's in Timber, Forestry and Fire Sciences. Many more
have credits from classes we have taken thru the years.

As I fire dispatcher, I have a degree in Forestry and a minor in Fire Science. Been
with the FS for over 18years. There are many more of us out there then ya'll might
think. Most of us don't walk around with our diplomas on our sleeves like out FS
or BLM patch. Most of them are in a drawer gathering dust.

Ok I feel better now I have said that much.

2/15 I just wanna say I would feel more comfortable taking orders from a person who came up through the ranks as opposed to some body who had a degree. I was a structural firefighter before I went to the wildland side. And that is just what happened to their side. Just because you have a degree doesn't mean you know your a$$ from shinola. You should have skills and knowledge before your qualified to lead a team. Take a look at city departments testing and hiring. You will find that some of the highest scorers on their test wash out. They can't handle being blacked out. They can't do their job. Just because you have degree doesn't amount to a hill of beans as far as I'm concerned. I would rather listen to someone who has been there for 15-20 years. In my opinion were only gonna kill more firefighters if we have to rely on people with book smarts rather than street smarts.

2/14 As probably the only (ok, former) wildland firefighter with 4 years experience
bombing the hell out of things in a military environment and 6 years experience
on various hand crews, I have some thoughts on the "747 water drop" issue.

Think of what commonly happens after a large helicopter puts x gallons of water
down on a hot spot. Should said spot be on a steep slope and near the line,
usually sparks / embers are washed over the line causing a few spot fires. Not
really a problem if someone is right there to check, but can cause a little more
work than it's worth at times.

Now imagine quite a bit more water hitting the ground at a very high rate of
speed, if the water is incased in "bomblets". The "splash" just might blow
embers everywhere causing more problems than it's worth. Now in a critical (read
as "oh shit") situation these type drops may be effective in knocking down the
flame front for long enough for a crew to get in there and build line, but if
the fire activity is that high in the first place, we have to wonder about the
safety of the crew.

As for the enormous aircraft and their maneuverability, I have to say that a
C-130 is right on the edge of ineffectiveness for "ground attack". There's a
reason why the Military uses them for transport rather than Close Air Support.
I've worked with AC-130 Gunships, and essentially their job is to circle
at 10,000 feet and pick off the bad guys. They're very good at it, but I think a
105mm cannon shell with a h2o warhead would be rather ineffective on a fire.
A water bomblet drop from 2-3,000 feet would be essentially the same as a
cluster-bomb, something that's not really known for it's accuracy. The Military
calls it an "area weapon". If you want the entire area wet, it may be an option,
in a level delivery in flat terrain type scenario. In my experience however,
fires rarely burn on the flats. An A-10 would be almost perfect, if it could carry
more than 16,000 pounds of water and in some sort of effective delivery mechanism.

I think the bottom line may be that anything larger than a C-130 simply doesn't
have the maneuverability required for firefighting in mountainous terrain. It's a
great idea, but as a ground controller, I would much rather have a 4 ship of
'130s at my command than one 747. Then if the first guy misses, I can adjust the
drop of the next 3. If I have one huge drop and he misses, I have to wait x time
for a reload, and who knows what the fire might do in that time.

Never mind getting clocked by that much water going that fast. A beach ball
full? Cripes I'd hate to see that coming at me. I remember being pelted with
water balloons as a kid, and that pretty much sucked. I can just imagine
something 10 times as big.... We'd kill someone for sure.

2/14 Abs,
I am a long time reader, first time writing in. Long time employee of the 'U.S. Forestry Services'. I am an under appreciated R-5 engine captain A.K.A. Supervisory Forestry Tech. Most of my career I have been a happy employee. However, recently I have had serious thoughts of leaving.

I have never minded the lack of recognition that my agency gives for working in FIRE. However, I will be upset if the outsourcing studies do not include all of the 'Other Duties as Assigned' that I constantly deal with. I hope the comparison involves My job duties and responsibilities. It should also include the level of training and qualifications that I and other Forest Service employees operate with. I am continually dispatched to mutual aid fires, vehicle fires, traffic collisions, haz-mats, and medical aids. I constantly participate in prescribed fire, fuels projects, recruitment, instructing, cleaning camp ground crappers, and you name it... "other duties as assigned". Comparing our jobs to that of three bodies crammed in a contract engine on a two week fire doesn't cut it.

It amazes me that with all of the publicity that brush and forest fires receive annually, that the Forest Service's -- Fire Employees can not, or have not been able to make a case for our proper job classifications.
The public praises the service that they receive from our department / agency. They have shown constant gratitude for our vigilance and professionalism. Yet they have no idea how we are classified, paid, or that we may even be contracted out to the private sector.

The avenue of public involvement has been largely un-explored by the FWFSA or IAFF or anyone seeking to better the working conditions of Federal Wildland Firefighters. These associations have done a fine job of approaching Washington to better our work situation. I think if they used some public scoping, many areas would have a large response and aid our cause at the capitol hill. It seems that there are only deaf ears available for our cries. So why not bring cries from the public?

We need to inform the public of the current situation and solicit feed back (FWFSA). I think this would to strengthen our position and kick-up the heat a little. Or, I guess if the public never knew what they had, they will never miss it. (this seems to be our current administration's policy)

It seems that the public and other emergency agencies have grown vitally linked to our federal cooperation, especially during these tough financial times. I think that if they knew the potential to reduce their Federal Emergency Service was an option being seriously considered, they would be outraged. What happened to the Department of Homeland Security tying in with Federal Emergency Services, oh thats right, skip the Forest Service, we're just a bunch of technicians!

Can you imagine the next Cedar Fire... A Forest Service Biologist / Fire Manager with little to no fire experience and 5 strike teams of contract engines. Imagine this guy/gal trying to coordinate a plan with a real Fire Department. In one hand, his blue WFSA form and pocket cards, in the other hand, his contract inspection forms. So much for mutual aid involving the U.S.F.S.

Old crusty guy
2/14 Hi, I'm Kirby De Jesus Espinal. I'm a seventh grader that's doing a project on being a firefighter. I would grately appreciate it if you could answer these interview questions (before vacation ends):

1) Are there different kinds of firefighters? Like a driver, or ladder man?

2) What's the best part about being a firefighter?

3) What's the worst part about being a firefighter?

4) Why did you choose to became a firefighter?

5) What is your daily firefighting schedule like?

6) Are you ever scared?

can you please give this to as many fighter fighter's possible?

Anyone care to answer Kirby's questions? Might be good to have someone who does structure as well as wildland. I assume Kirby needs to do this report before the end of President's Week. Ab.
2/14 To Everyone who described Situational Awareness and sent me to places
to learn more.

Thank you very much. It is much more complicated than I thought when
accidents happen to firefighters - or maybe I should say when firefighters
get themselves into accident situations - or when the unexpected happens
and firefighters do not have enough situational awareness or experience to
do the best thing.

I am applying.

2/14 Here's one useful link if no one has send in this southzone fire CDF "after action" report link: www.fire.ca.gov/php/fire_er_siege.php

Although the report is 99 pages long & a PDF, it offers choices to peruse section choices. (lots of familiar quotes & names mentioned); it's worth a careful read.

I'd think that all out-of-state FFs regardless of agency, and all CA residents would be wise to take the time to read it in its entirety.

My initial take on the report - it minimizes the importance of FED folk who saved so many homes, businesses, etc. from KYAGF (kiss your assets goodbye forever)

gonna shut-up before I step on "stupid zone" soap box !....

2/14 Coyote,

"refresher is three times as long, a day and a half." I thought it was the "24 Hour Refresher."
Maybe days are longer in your neck of the woods.

2/14 I need to know how do you decide the level of altert or alarm of a forest fire?

We need to compare with us in Chile.

You can also answer to dedalo@surnet.cl

Macarena Donoso S

Does anyone have an hour or two to help out with a reply to Mac? Ab.

2/14 Good Evening Again,

We're still here, the new email accounts are now functioning. . . not totally well, but are beginning to get the messages. If you are reading this message you are now linking to our new server location. In case you are wondering why we needed to move, we are now around 400 megabytes of disk space and using over 25 Gigabytes of traffic monthly. We are now at a site with 800 mb and unlimited bandwidth at our disposal. Some areas of readers will still be connecting to the old servers for a while yet, so we'll duplicate the new messages in the interim. Please advise us of any errors you experience or other odd stuff happening when browsing our site. As many of you may know, we had split the site two years ago in an effort to save money on our monthly bills. We will also now be combining the two sites back into one. Please bear with us as we are doing all we can to make it as seamless as possible. Original Ab.

2/14 Good Morning All,

It's 0730 PST...
We wanted to let you all know that we are in the process of moving wildlandfire.com to a new ISP that has some nice new capabilities. They tell us that the move will take 24-48 hours to propagate through the worldwide ethers. In the process you might experience some broken links, but probably not very many. Please bear with us as we move to our new home.

The Abs.
2/13 Mellie,

RE: BA degree in Biology.
I have received a little different information, it is more than a required degree for fire leadership positions. I do not have all the facts but it appears to me that it is aimed at fire leadership, FMO's and above. This would not be limited to GS-11's, it might be a requirement for a GS-9 FMO also. I did not do a quick check of USA jobs to search for new FMO job postings to see if the 9-FMO jobs are now being advertised in the 401 series.

The changing of the requirements came out of South Canyon, one of the findings/mitigation measures was to make fire leadership "more professional." So the move to move fire leadership to the 401 professional series. What I have seen does not require a biology degree but a degree in a natural science, critters, foresty, water, dirt, rocks etc. If a person does not have the required education and training, they will have 4 years to obtain additional training with a one year extension possible (it might be 3 and 1) if they do not gain what is required by then -- they will be removed from their position.

A graduate of the Technical Fire Management or is it Professional Fire Management (?) program will also qualify as a 401 series. But the down side is that only 40 students per class are allowed (do not know if it is one class per year or every other year?) How many hundreds of people need the course? There is also supposedly a plan in place for continuing education to gain the equivalency of a 4 year degree, with different classes being awarded credit hours toward the 401 series. But without at least 2 years of college it might be difficult to obtain in the allotted time.

What is not well known, is that EVERY fire position from FFT2 to fire staff, including dispatchers will have a REQUIRED list of training that needs to be accomplished! I saw the draft but did not get to look it over thoroughly. The quick look that I had I saw some of the entry level position had basically what is required in 5109.17, and maybe some addtional training courses. I did not find out if one would need the required training prior to being considered for a position or if one would have 3 or 4 years to get the required courses? What I saw was still in draft, my understanding is that there is only one copy per region, the copy I saw belonged to the regional training manager. I was lucky that I got a look at what fire training I needed for my position and had all but 3 of a list of 20 or more (did not have time to count them all). I am being proactive and now only need one basic 200 level class that I somehow dodged years ago. If I did the math, I just might be able to retire a week before they "remove" me from my position.

I am sure we will more accurate information as time goes one. Remember the only thing constant in this life is change.

2/13 Re the professional series:

I know that my agency is moving to the 401 series for 11 and up, I have also been told that the 9 and up may also be required to meet the educational requirements of the 401 series. We will also have 3 years to complete the requirements. We do not have to get a biology degree, but we must get the 24 credits in biology or a related field and 18 of those credits must be upper division 300 level and up. I have a business degree and I am now taking online courses to meet the educational requirements at the 401. Many schools offer these courses and you wouldn't have to go back to college.

2/13 Mellie -

You make some excellent points, and I just have to echo your concerns. As a person with a degree in the biological science/forestry area working in wildfire management, I can say that the degree in only small ways has helped me be good at fire management. It has helped with writing, computers, professionalism, and those sorts of skills. A fraction of the info I picked up in college regarding actual biology, forestry, chemistry, watershed management, etc. has been helpful for me, but the bulk of the knowledge I use from day to day comes from experience working in fire for a number of years. What scares the hell out of me are the same things you mentioned... being 1) how well will fireFIGHTING programs work if they are forcibly run by scientists? My experience with academics is that they tend not to understand operational things (not that there are not some fire people with degrees etc., as you said). And 2) what happens to our profession and field as far as advancement/development, etc.? We already have some pretty big disincentives to stay in fire and work toward upper management positions, including (and this first one is big) POLITICS, lack of pay, high risks to person and career (ie: be careful what you say), personal liability for taking initiative and responsibility (ie: ICs have to get personal liability insurance these days), personnel and management drama, and general stress from trying to do more with less on a continual basis.

Why stay in fire?

I hope like hell there are some people in this profession who are still enjoying it. I am beginning myself to seriously question my career choice as being the wisest of all the options. My friends and family seem to enjoy their jobs and their lives. People in fire seem to get trouble from all angles. You try to protect the public - but you're never doing enough (even though people continue to build in "the stupid zone" and expect the government they don't want to pay for to protect them). Budgets are constantly under fire. Agencies are underfunded. Everybody argues about everything because there's not enough to go around and making changes means more work no one has time for more work. We're constantly told that the government doesn't contract enough. Oops! There goes fleet management, and IT may be next. You try to stick your neck out and fix things so people stop dying, and you get burned yourself in the process.

Well, I could go on for hours, but I already said more than I meant to. I just hate to keep seeing more obstacles thrown up all the time. On the other hand, the fact that people continue working in this field is a testament I think to each other and to public service. What a phenomenal and amazing group. I just worry that you can only hack away at a foundation for so long before next thing you know, the foundation that's left won't hold a damn thing up. On the one hand, I hope like hell we can hold the pieces together and avoid it. On the other hand, I am pretty concerned that politicians and the general public don't understand the effects this disintegration could have on their well being and safety. And, I'm out of hands, but still worried and confused about the whole thing and not sure what to do about it from here. Wouldn't it be great if large groups of politicians or citizens got together and said "Holy crap! The emergency management community is totally underfunded and beat up! What happens if we have an actual disaster! Maybe we should give them some money and some support, and stop putting all our money into 'security' and 'Iraq' and subsidies for enormous industries like airlines! I thought this was a capitalist country that was supposed to care of its taxpaying citizens!"

Okay, now I've gone completely overboard, but I certainly do feel better. Fridays are rough.
You all take care out there and I reckon we'll keep at it either way.

-butterfly (the migratory kind)
2/13 passed my pack test today, and found out that we are going to do it again. due to new engine contracts the government has contracted with someone outside the company to officiate. so all contract fire fighters that are engine qualified be prepared to do it twice, unless you fell then you would have to do it more. and the refresher is three times as long, a day and a half.

2/13 Mellie-

In your post about the new requirement for the biology degree, I assume you
are referring to the US Forest Service? Does this affect any of the other
federal agencies?

2/13 Ab, Just a quick post before I run off for the rest of the afternoon.

I am very anxious about something I just heard.
If true, this could result in FIRE loosing half our experienced fire managers in a very short time as their jobs are reclassified GS-11 or higher or as managers retire and their jobs come open with few qualified applicants to fill in behind. October 1, 2004 is the implementation date for the 4 year biology degree requirement for new GS-11+ hires. It is also the beginning of the 3 year transition period after which ALL GS-11 or higher fire managers must have a biology degree.
  • Here's one story as I understand it. This illustrates my most immediate concern and relates to those applying now:
    Fire Managers in my area have been doing their job and doing it well. Some jobs are being reclassified to GS-11 or higher. In such a case, those in the job are reapplying for their job as you might expect. Upward job reclassification is good, reflecting the higher demands and complexities of the jobs. However, now the people who are reapplying for their newly classified jobs are being told by a Forest Service Human Resources person that they MUST have a 4 YEAR COLLEGE BIOLOGY DEGREE in hand to apply. They are being told that the alternative 24 appropriate units is not enough. This is a change from I have heard before: that it is degree and units or units and working toward a degree that must be demonstrated. Is the HR woman wrong?

    Before I express my second concern, let me say:

    • I am in favor of fire managers having a professional degree. Fighting wildland fire and all that goes with it is clearly a profession, increasingly technical and complex. (This action taken by the NWCG group arose out of the Storm King tragedy.)
    • At the same time, I think that coming up through the firefighting ranks and gaining the experiential knowledge of fire, fire management and fire safety is much more important to safety on the ground and to the profession itself than any academic degree, especially one not related to fire.
    • I don't think a BIOLOGY degree is the way to go to enhance or acknowledge fire professionalism.
  • Here's my second concern about what happens after October 1, 2004:
    • Regarding management jobs that are reclassified GS11+ after October 1, 2004, what happens then? Do we loose the people in those jobs who do not have the college degree? They take some lower job and we loose their fire experience? Knock them back to Batt Chief?
    • What about the jobs that become empty due to retirement. Only biologists with fire experience need apply? How many able and experienced Batt Chiefs won't be able to move up to fill in behind because they haven't quite finished their college degrees?

This transition period SHOUTS WATCHOUT.
What is the PLAN for all groups and scenarios involved?
Is there a realistic understanding of academic timetable?

There is a plan for the fire managers whose jobs are not reclassified. This is the simplest case. They have 3 years to get up to speed with a degree in biology in addition to performing their fire job and their job on the forest with targets, ETC. Those Batt Chiefs wanting to advance into the upper ranks of management also have time, maybe. Maybe not. Some of them are nearing retirement as well.

So here's a bit of information. I checked and getting a 4 year bio degree at Humboldt State University now takes the full time student 5 to 6 years on average. This is because classes required for the degree are "impacted": too many young college people want to take them and it is hard to get in, so you have to wait until the computer lets you in. In addition, you can't just call up the university administration and say, "I have these units and I want a degree". Students enter the university in a certain year and they are bound by that year's requirements and time limitations for the degree.

If you don't know, academics work within their own academic time frame. They march to their own bureaucratic drummer, much as fire marches to theirs. They protect their own turf. They are jealous of maintaining their "academic standards". (Sounds like some trainers? Well, of course. What we have in common. <grin>) There are deadlines for students submitting classes for degree check and all the steps toward getting a degree take time. In my experience, it is hard to get academic bureaucratic types to bend the rules or change deadline dates for anyone. Often it is even difficult to understand what the rules are.

I know that under the NWCG plan, the 3 year transition/grace period can be extended on a case-by-case basis for those currently in the management job. More paper pushing. There will be lots of it.

But what is the plan for filling the reclassified jobs and the newly open jobs? That's what I'm worried about. How do we rehire our best? How do we attract our best who may not yet have a degree? Any chance they could have the 3 year grace period?

I am also worried about the good experienced people who will take the earliest retirement possible rather than have to get a college degree at 47 or 48, let alone 52. Retention anyone?

This issue requires more research, more thinking about "what if" this reclassification, "what if" that retirement. We need to really look at who might be filling in behind and are they making the appropriate steps. How can we help them? It is hard to fill in behind seasoned people when those coming up are not seasoned or when you have a large contingent who, while working on it, currently lack some degree.

Can someone tell me? The FS human resources person who said a 4 year degree is now required for application for a reclassified fire management job (GS11+), is she correct? If so, we may loose applicants for jobs that are currently being flown. We may also loose a number of our fire managers whose jobs are being reclassified to a higher GS level over the next year.

Hmmmm, we may have a number of fire mgmt types that may have to take summer school instead of fighting fire this season. <little madonna smile> Alternatively we could call in the smoke jumpers, a number of whom even have Masters and PhDs. <chuckle> Now wouldn't that be a sad thing to wish upon our unsuspecting line officers? (We all know it's notoriously hard to get those jumpers to roll over.)


PS. IMHO we must have a professional FIRE series and start moving our people up within a professional FIRE SERIES. Maintaining a safe working environment demands that we retain our experienced FIRE managers and mentor along the best and brightest new people coming up. Biology, what's with that????

2/13 Ab,
Here's something interesting...weather its true or not, who can tell....


Looks like H and P is going for the "bring your own rainstorm" method of fighting fire.

Everyone start walking, the test is coming up fast!!!!

Stay safe everyone,
2/13 Check out this well put together web page with great links for FIRE JOBS 2004.
Anyone looking for fire jobs this season will be amazed at all the opportunities for
both permanent and seasonal jobs. -W


Nice one. Posted it on the Jobs page as well and just updated wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455. Ab.

2/13 Hickman:

CL-215's (water scooper/bombers) are being used in MN.
The state owns 2 of the older style CL-215's w/
radial engines. I believe they were purchased used in
late 2000 or early 2001 from Bombardier. I THINK they
get shipped down to SE this time of year, but don't
quote me on that. I did see them in use in Eastern
Montana last year, also. They're highly effective,
although a lake located close is very important to cut
turn-around times. They're pretty darn cool and
highly effective, as the pilots can inject foam into
the water before they drop. Bombardier now has the
CL-415's, which have turbo prop engines.

2/12 Lots of comments on the C-17's dropping water "bomblets" thinking outside the box, could it work for IA on non-staffed fires, wilderness fires, fires on steeep ground? lots of possibilities. Of course the one factor is no one should be within a county mile of the drop zone.

One more comment on the 747 tanker, several years ago a Russian (?) company had an Ilyushian 76 (IL-76) equipped to drop water, tried to sell the services to the government, even offered to do it at fuel cost for a demo but no takers.

PS Ab, what ever happened to the wind machines?? Alas, like all great ideas the budget ax got it!

2/12 Someone should overlay Cramer on the South Canyon picture.

Cramer and Mann Gulch, side by side comparison


I put the photo on the Fire 21 photo page. Check the photo entitled Trigger Point on that page as well for Doug Campbell's early take on fire behavior relating to the burnover.

They are indeed very similar. Todd, good job in first noticing the similarities of Cramer with South Canyon in your post on theysaid back on 1/20/04. That began a good round of dialog for those who missed it, click on the Jan-04 archive.

Link to Doug's presentation of The Cramer Solution. The last link on the list is the ppt of the Cramer Solution using the Wildland Fire Signature Prediction Method. Doug has made this powerpoint available for free, so feel free to download, save and use it. He also says you can modify it to meet your needs.

Sometimes what gets shared on this page blows me away. Ab.

2/12 747's on the fireline would be a site, i love all sorts of aviation,
but would no want to be the one signing off on that. If it works,
more power to those involved.

A google search for "747 spec" came up with these numbers
Take-off 10,561 ft
Landing 7,870ft
Stall speed of 165 knots, thats puttin right along, even at stall.

The beach ball thing would be an awesome to watch. I am not an
airtanker pilot, but isnt SOP to dump your load when in trouble?
Water or retardant from 2000 feet AGL would hardly be noticed on the
ground. I wonder what 2800 cubies from 2000AGL into a neighborhood,
interstate, base camp etc would do? ive come close to being hit from
above by the known hazards too many times. I would dread telling a
family why a guy was drilled into the ground by a beach ball at 300+

Hey evergreen if possible I would love to watch your demo
flight, ill pay admission.

Sign me
"the skies falling"
thanks for the forum Ab your contribution is immeasurable, and
2/12 All this talk about airtankers and giant wind machines reminded me of my
all time favorite, the firefighting blimp!


Here are the most recent NWCG work-rest guidelines. The following letter accompanied them. If anyone wants the pdf file format, please email with the request. Ab.

National Interagency Fire Center
3833 South Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705
February 6, 2004

To: NWCG Members; Chairs-Working Teams and Advisory Groups
From: Chair, NWCG /s/ J L Stires
Subject: 2004 Work /Rest and Length of Assignment Standards

In the fall of 2002, the NWCG tasked the Safety & Health and Incident Business Practices Working Teams with reviewing the NWCG work/rest and length of assignment standards. Proposed interim changes were tested during the 2003 fire season, with request for comments by October 1, 2003.

The enclosed final standards have been developed based on these comments, discussions with firefighters, line supervisors, geographic and national multi-agency coordinating group members, and other fireline leaders.

The standards have been revised to reflect the strong consensus that: 1. the previous standards be simplified, 2. managers be provided increased flexibility to meet operational needs, and 3. appropriate fatigue management be emphasized.

Work/rest guidelines have basically not changed. The 2:1 work to rest ratio is still valid and will be followed. However, flexibility to exceed the guidelines is allowed when warranted under certain circumstances.

This revised standard maintains a 14-day length of assignment. Fatigue management concerns, as well as many state contracts allowing only 14-day assignments, strongly indicated that the 14-day assignment length be retained. The new standard provides for a simplified assignment extension process when necessary.

For fatigue management purposes and in line with credible research recommendations, a 2-day-off-after-14 day assignment standard (exclusive of travel) has been adopted. Please insure that this information is made available to your fire management personnel.

Cc: Chairs, Geographic Area Coordinating Groups

2/12 Referring to the concept of a 747 Air tanker: if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.

Smokejumpers??? Rappellers??? Air tankers??? Fire Shelters??? Women on fires??? All crazy ideas in the years before their times? Same with horseless carriages, radios and television, cell phones, walking on the moon, and a polio vaccine.

IF the 747 works, it won't be a cure-all for our wildfire problems, nor will it put the regular A/T's, helitankers and SEAT's out of business: it will just become another tool in our box.

2/12 Hey Ab,

Just a comment on the airtankers..... having 6 years experience with all types and sizes of air tankers, i find it a long shot of seeing a 747 flying into a wilderness fire, have'nt we had enough fatalities and injuries using aircraft that were "modified" to suppress wildfires: ie: the C-130's and possibly the P-3's???? these are far more maneuverable than a 747 yet they have a track record for weak wing spars under flying conditions related to wildfire suppression.

The idea of a "heavy-tanker" is a great concept, but when is enough , enough???

I must have missed the comment about "beach balls", what is this theory about?

Even a retardant in liquid form is going to dissipate and become far less effective dropped from those elevations, and is the 747 even rated to fly at speeds low enough to make successful drops??

The future is no doubt upon us in the fire world, but i must say that seeing a "vintage" air tanker orbiting a drop zone and making its low level approach is half the fun of being on the lines.....and what will happen to current tanker pilots of this were to come about as a new form of suppression?

Can't say that i can picture airline pilots moonlighting as tanker pilots if ya know what i mean.<haw>

....Last comment about this;
What bases are capable of loading/reloading a 747? and what bases can accommodate such a large aircraft? I know Boise can handle one, but the reloading facilities are not near capacity, this would require some hefty holding tanks for reloading ops.!!!

Guess we'll just have to see what develops from this new idea!!

Smoke-Chaser In Idaho
2/12 Missouri MidWest Fire Acad. June

Registration for classes have not started yet, but this is the list that will be going on at Missouri Summer Fire School. Structural Classes will also be available, but have not see the list yet. I'll pass it along as soon as I get it.


Thanks Hickman. Yer the midwest man fer sure.
Emilio, if you want me to send you the word doc on this academy, email me again. Ab.

2/12 Ab, while I'm thinking about it and getting ready to honor some folks...

Sometime or other someone suggested having a page honoring people who won fire awards and naming award they won. Did the Abs ever think about that one? Professions acknowledge their best. I know you've done that on theysaid. Just wondering if a separate page something you'd think of doing? Maybe pull them out of the archives and off the misc photo page for a starter???


Sure, you volunteering to do that? haw, haw. Ab.
2/12 All this "outside the box " thinking about airtankers is great. But isn't
there already a plane specifically built for airtanker duty, I seem to
remember something about some yellow planes called CL-215 and CL-415, are
these planes not being used in the US? I have worked fires for 28 summers
and have never seen one. Beach balls from 2,000 feet, how 'bout cubies
from space? I saw something about once about how some early aviator tried
dropping wooden barrels of water on a fire from a Steerman back in the
1920's or so. Nothing new under the sun.


Yeah, speaking of nothin' new, what ever happened to the R&D of the giant wind machines to put out fires? And the Squeak Tree experiments? WP, have you kept up on that research? Ab.
2/12 Couple of thoughts on the 747 and firefighting:

Maybe someone has asked this, but are they thinking about the t-balls bursting
before they hit the ground and changing the atmosphere (fire envelope)? Seems
this might be achievable by tailoring the thickness of the ball so it would burst
before it would hit anyone. Is this even a worthwhile goal?

It seems to me that if we use any more aircraft not specifically designed for a fire
mission, we're going to have to be very careful that the aircraft flies under
conditions it is designed for. The only safe way to do it... no canyons, I take it.


2/12 Tanker Balls:

Thanks but no thanks. If I did the math right that 50 lb. ball at 2000 ft. elevation would have an impact of 16 times it weight. About 800 lbs.

To utilize this resource it would require some " extreme" coordination with ground units. The only avenue would be to possibly delay insertion of personnel and equipment on a given shift of particular divisions. ( I know, I know.. everybody hates staging).

I for one would not be happy with moving my crews (one can only imagine the size of "Safe Zone" this operation requires, much more than conventional retardant tankers I'm sure) away from progressive line construction to facilitate these drops.

I guess it would be best to see this in action rather than downplay its effectiveness.
It's just the common sense in me has some reservations about 2800 of these 800 lb. balls falling from the sky. I mean how many of these would it take to kill you?

I'll take retardant any day!! Thanks,

2/12 To CDF Jake,

You said;

"Firesnake and Firewatcher were given criticism when first conceived as
well. Yet the Florida Division of Forestry and the USFS have persisted
in their programs have now come out with an effective aerial platform."

Firewatch is still far from being proven. Don't you think it should do
at least one full season?


2/12 hello,

i had a couple of questions. do you have to be a fire fighter to get a red card? do you have to be a fire fighter to go to a training facility or academy such as the tennessee fire services and codes enforcement academy to get the basics (s-130 and s-190)?

one more question. i grew up vacationing in my grandfather's farm and grew up loving the outdoors. i have my heart set on becoming a smoke jumper someday. i'm not a fire fighter at the moment and i feel like i'm so far away from becoming one. i'm from chicago which is the problem. is there anything that i can do to improve my odds of becoming a smoke jumper? are there any facilities that i can look into? maybe a facility where i can train and work at the same time? well thank you very much for your time!

thank you for your time

- Emilio

Emilio, You must have experience as a wildland firefighter before having a chance at smoke jumping. First focus should be getting that experience and seeing if firefighting is really for you and if your crew and supt think that you are for firefighting. Read the stuff on Wanting to Become a Wildland Firefighter. Some info on Red Cards there. I'll leave it to midwestern and eastern readers to provide info on training in your area. Good luck. Go for your dream. Ab.
2/12 WP,

C-17 air tankers? Sounds interesting, but at what cost to firefighter safety? Since air tankers are used to support ground suppression efforts, firefighters are usually found near if not in drop zones. Carpet bombing a fire with 2800 fifty pound "beach balls" from 1000 to 2000 ft altitude sounds like a recipe for disaster. At least with the current methods of drops, an unaware firefighter can usually have a last second warning by the noise of the lead plane or the "low" flying air tanker. What type of warning noise will come from a plane at 2000 feet? As to the containers, I'd rather be hit with a fluid than a solid any day! I think we know what the final verdict on this concept will be.

2/12 I’d like to chime in on the situational awareness issue. Justin, if you really want to see situational awareness in action, set up a ride-along with one of your local law enforcement officers (they’re usually really good about ride-alongs for FF). If you can, get yourself in with a long-time patrolman, and watch how he/she evaluates a situation, from walking into a restaurant to sizing up a fight in progress. Law enforcement is highly trained in situational awareness, because they’re often going alone into tense and rapidly changing situations; those skills do translate to fire. The principles of alertness in the face of stress and fatigue, and of keeping a constantly moving “threat scan” going in a dynamic environment, are exactly the same.

I just did a quick web search and turned up something called the “Ace factor”. The phrase was originally coined (apparently) by Mike Spick in a book about WWII air combat. The idea behind the term is that one characteristic that distinguished the tactics of ace fighter pilots was situational awareness; staying clear of melees and picking off stragglers under tactically simpler situations as opposed to getting drawn into more complex multi-plane combat situations. In that sense, situational awareness meant more successful encounters because a good size-up made for better use of resources…aka “I can do more damage to the enemy by not throwing myself into the middle of this mess, but just keeping my head up and looking for developing opportunities.”

Nerd on the Fireline
2/12 HELP,

I need some help in locating a Smokey Bear branding iron. I know they are out there but have not seen one for years, any one know of a source? Tried all the Smokey supply places I know of and did a web search, to no avail. Also would like a USFS Sheild logo in a brand, I could get one made but don't have the $250 in my budget to get the branding iron made.

Any leads would be appreciated,

Thanks, Brandless in the Forest.
2/12 Hey Ab,

Justin, situational awareness is pretty common sense to most...depending on what your report is about:
In the wildland fire standpoint, i would say that it starts with the dispatch, u need to know where u r going, what u might need that u normally don't take, what the topography of the fire area and surrounding area is like, what the weather is, and has been doing, what other resources are going to be available, what the command system will be like etc....while on the incident, think about your crew, is everyone mentally and physically capable of doing their job everyday, are instructions being clearly given and understood by ALL of your crew, do u have "commo" with your crew and adjoining forces and command?? everything that plays into having a safe incident is situational awareness.

Follow the 10 and 18's and make sure you take time to ask and answer questions as they come up, never assume that everyone understands what has been said, or done...

Hope i could help
Great discussion topics everyone, it's still early in the year, but never too early to be fire-ready!!

thanks, Smoke-Chaser In Idaho
2/12 Justin,

Situational Awareness (SA) is simply the degree to which one's perception
matches reality.

A good horror movie relies on poor SA to build suspense - the woman in the
shower unaware of the knife-wielding maniac on the other side of the
curtain. Or, it could a scene where the students are freaked out about
someone stalking them in the school hallways when it is only the janitor
pushing a broom.

Another example of poor SA is the pre-war intelligence failure in Iraq. The
lack of WMD calls to question how "imminent" a threat Saddam really posed to

One of the best examples of good SA is a video I saw at the National Fire
Academy. It's a tape of an actual city council meeting in California, with
the administrator addressing the board about a natural gas explosion the
previous night.

She tells how the city's fire department was paged to a gas odor
investigation. The first engine company arrived to find an multi-story
apartment building covered in a plastic tent for pest-control fumigation and
a distinct, whistling sound. The company officer immediately begins
evacuation of the neighborhood. About 15 or 20 minutes later, the building
blows up. No injuries.

After the administrator finishes speaking, a councilman begins with a shaky
voice. He tells how his family was woken up the night before by the
firefighters. His daughter's bedroom window faced the apartment building.

The challenge for the fire service is to train our people to have good SA
when they encounter situations they've never faced before.

vfd cap'n
2/12 a 747 or two to put out large wildland fires in mountainous terrain?

"The 747 is an interesting concept and is a step outside the box", now
that is an understatement!

what's the term meteorologists use when precipitation doesn't hit the
ground? virga?

maybe it's just my perception of reality. words beginning with P are
sooooo confusing....profit or prophet

2/12 747 Tankers???, Don't know about that but Boeing is doing some research in
using C-17's dropping "water bomblets" from 2/3000 ft. see attached web site.
Boeing may just be on to something.


2/12 Thanks for the two helicopter photos sent in:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ab, here's a pic of our Helicopter 408, Kern County Fire Dept. CA.
Bill B.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WA DNR FireCobra: DNR's newest bucket ship.
Photo compliments of Pat M.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I put them on Helicopters13 photo page. Ab.
2/12 Hey Ab,

long time lurker.... been involved in wildland fire suppression since '95..started working at the Boise Air Tanker Base.. filling tankers and mixing retardant.. was an asst base manager after a few years... continued employment until we lost the contract bid in 2001...went to Grayback Forestry in "01 and 02.. then PatRick the end of 02.... currently on a contract engine for G & O Inc out of Bend Oregon... here are some pics of one of our type 6 ride.. and a pic from fire camp on the hot creek...


Thanks for the pics. I put them on Engines10 , and Handcrews11 photo pages. Also a pic of the 2003 PatRick Crew from CJ. Ab.
2/12 ab:

here's three photos for ya:
Wind Cave National Park's type VI engines on the Highland Creek RX burn

Some of the lightning responsible for the Dome Complex, Modoc NF, Sept 2003

Lava Beds National Monument E-74 enjoys the sunset on the Holbrook/Stateline RX burn, in southern Oregon, Oct 2003


MR, thanks for the pics. Nice one of E-74 in sunset. I put them on Engines10, and Fire21 photo pages. Ab.
2/12 Holy - ****

Ok -- I'm AXE -- Some of you may know me as Alan....

Last year everyone bitched about the lack of air
tanker support. Oh yeah -- and about cement trucks as
water tenders on the line. And how bad contractors
sucked. And NOW people are concerned about how a NEW
airtanker MAY perform.

Why don't we support the private industry in trying to
produce a modern tanker (vintage 1975+) instead of
being concern about their airspeed, coverage,
altitude, etc. Is it better to have a 1989 747 at
1000' altitude w/ wings intact suppressing a wildfire
line; or have a 60's era war plane collapse thru a
canyon when being stressed?

Damn...A lot of people here would mimic those that
thought that jumping out of a plane outside Winthhrop
WA was ******* insane.

We advance by taking risks.


P.S. I'd LOVE to invest in a new airtanker, and,
probably can swing it -- have AB contact me.
2/11 Put water in an airplane and drop it on a fire. What are these people thinking. Not easilyimpressed you sound like some folks probably back in the late 1940's when the concept of dropping water from an aircraft to suppress wildfires was first introduced. The 747 is an interesting concept and is a step outside the box. It is innovative thinking like this that brings us foreword in technology and modern fire suppression systems. Firesnake and Firewatcher were given criticism when first conceived as well. Yet the Florida Division of Forestry and the USFS have persisted in their programs have now come out with an effective aerial platform.

Give it a chance, your not spending your tax dollars on the R&D so relax and let the folks at Evergreen pursue this innovative idea. As far as your concerns with vortex is concerned, its minimum drop height will be 800' vs. 150' for today's airtankers. It might be even higher dependant on the test results in a few weeks. Some bases will not support this size of aircraft but others will. The refill system is being work on, and will prove to be a logistical challenge.

Stay open to new ideas and new technologies, it is how most of the stuff we use today got put into use.

CDF Jake
2/11 Will the 747 be able to get into the steep canyons in northern CA?

2/11 747 airtankers huh? The inmates really are running the asylum. What are
these people thinking?

What would the vortex from this size plane do to a fire? What would be the
cost /hour on one of those baby's?

What airtanker bases are capable of even landing one, let alone filling
it? Is it just me or does this sound crazy?

Scrap the Space Shuttle and Mars insanity and have NASA and the airtanker
dudes do something productive. Design and build a new airtanker that will
fly in and out of canyons safely and deliver retardant efficiently and

2/11 Justin:

Check out this link and the other stuff on this web site and your questions
should be answered. Basically SA is keeping your head out of the sand and
knowing what is going on around you at all times. Following the 10 and 18
and LCES without compromising will help you to keep your SA on a fire. SA
is needed in all areas of our lives on incidents, when driving, walking
into strange places, dating, raising your kids, etc etc etc. Figure it
out, practice it and you will be a happier camper.


2/11 Justin,

Situational Awareness often goes hand in hand with Avoiding Danger, either Fire danger
or other dangers:

Think about how a kid has to keep "feelers out" when walking through a bad neighborhood
in a city. That's situational awareness. The kid with more bad neighborhood city experience
is expected to have more sensitive "feelers" for what dangers to watch out for and might
maintain better situational awareness. Other things that can dull the "feelers" is tiredness,
being distracted by a friend or lulled by an experience that does not signal danger, having too
much fear that causes you to make poor decisions about a real danger.

Situational Awareness and other factors relating to human decision making are called Human
Factors. One of the first people who studied these factors in the fire world was Ted Putnam.
Good luck with your report.

On the 747 stuff, thanks for the update. Somehow I missed the AT board. Probably too
busy to think of it. Seems a strange idea.

Tahoe Terrie
2/11 What exactly is "situational awareness". I want to put it in my report but I don't get it.


2/11 Hi all,

Just got a letter back from Senator Kyl of Az saying that he's deferring Krs's
case to his California Senators... I'm glad to hear that you are getting some
response, Krs.

Best of luck,
2/11 Mollysboy-

The concept of the 747 that Evergreen and Boeing are converting to a 24,000
gallon air tanker has generated a huge number of comments on the Associated
Air Tanker Pilots board at: www.airtanker.com/ (click on "Commo"
and then "Message Board"). They will be testing it this month near Tucson.

2/11 Many of us have been on and have worked with Type 2 IMT's that were better teams and executed more effective/safer firefighting than certain Type 1 IMT's we have worked with. The reverse is, of course, true.

The key to effective, safe firefighting, as we all know, is experience, leadership skills, and teamwork. It should be no surprise that the best Type 2 IMT's have folks with all of these attributes and who are often former Type 1 team members.

Many of us in the Southwest Area talked about the concept of eliminating team typing about 7 years ago in a widely attended forum in Phoenix. There was general agreement on the concept but it was also generally agreed upon that it must be a nationally agreed upon change before it could happen. Since then nothing has changed either in the Southwest or nationally.

There was also a certain amount of resentment at that meeting that the T1 folks are the journeymen, the big guys, and that T2 folks were generally in a training mode for the T1 teams. None of this discussion impressed me much as T2 teams often deal with the most explosive fire situations before the T1 teams get there.

I am glad you once again raised the issue. We saw a real mess last year in the Northern Rockies with any available team regardless of typing being assigned to very complex fires. This problem needs to be addressed nationally and now. 520? I am not sure that is the simple answer.

Let the discussion continue!

2/11 R5 CIIM Team selection and new directions:

How about bringing the 6 Type II teams up to the training level of the 5 Type I teams
with 520 and throw all the CIIMTs into the mix on equal deployment footing for next



2/11 For Tahoe Terri -

I got a recent mailing from Evergreen in Orygun about their new "Super Tanker":
a 747 that carries 24,000 gallons of retardant, and lays out a 25,000 foot swath
of "mud". It includes a 6-7 minute computer video clip.

Still untested, but they have the political clout to get it looked at by the "biggies"
in the wildfire suppression world, especially after Firestorm 2003 in SoCal.

2/11 Fireweather in Southern California.....

Contract County Guy

630 PM PST TUE FEB 10 2004



630 PM PST TUE FEB 10 2004




630 PM PST TUE FEB 10 2004




630 PM PST TUE FEB 10 2004




2/10 Here is a test of digital radio I found on a Yahoo group for CA fire communications.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Region 6, VHF P25 Field Test


Region 6 was planning a large investment in P25 equipment, but had no first-hand experience with the equipment or its operation. We had heard many, often conflicting, stories of coverage and audio differences, and had a strong desire to see for ourselves what the differences were in the field. This was discussed with Douglas Bigrigg of Daniels at the USDA/DOI meeting in Las Vegas, and he offered his assistance in providing a repeater for the purpose of conducting a field test.

Test Participants

Mike Schone, Region 6 Radio Systems Manager Mike Andler, Region 6, Customer Service Area 5, Telecommunications Manager
Howard Banks, Electronics Technician, Wenatchee , WA
Dan Long, Electronics Technician (STEP), Wenatchee WA
Douglas Jacobs, Electronics Technician (SCEP), Colville, WA
Dave Riddle, Electronics Technician, Wenatchee WA (His first day on the job)

Support Acknowledgements

Jim Shelton, Region 6 Telecommunications Program Manager who suggested the test to Daniels and supported its completion.
Kim Torp-Pederson, Alster Communications who provided the DPH radios
Douglas Bigrigg, Daniels Electronics, who made it possible for Daniels to participate
Ken Parks, Daniels Electronics, who facilitated the delivery of the test repeater and provided lots of technical information on P25.

Customer service personnel at both Daniels and Relm who assisted in programming and setting up the equipment.


This document does not attempt to portray the results of an exhaustive scientific test. It simply documents a series of tests, made in the field, where the results were simply recorded on either a subjective signal quality scale of 1 to 5 or as a series of numbers heard or missed during a test count. The results we observed may not be repeatable, and at best, only apply to that specific location, time and situation.


One of the goals of this test, was to compare the coverage difference between an analog system and a P25 system under the conditions of both weak (fringe) signal conditions and conditions of multi-path. The specific location chosen to perform the test was in the vicinity of the town of Leavenworth, Washington. Leavenworth is a Bavarian style town, popular with tourists that sits in the Cascade mountains about 15 miles west of the town of Wenatchee. The Leavenworth Ranger District of the Wenatchee National Forest is located there.

Near Leavenworth, are two long, narrow, windy and rocky canyons: one is called the Icicle Canyon as the Icicle River runs through it; and one is known as the Tumwater Canyon which the Wenatchee River runs through. Both of these canyons have historically presented a challenge to providing two-way communications as a result of their length, topography and geology. They are characterized by both weak signal and multi-path conditions.

Test Procedures:

The team met at the Forest Service Radio Shop located in East Wenatchee on Monday, July 14 and planned the field exercises. The field tests were conducted the next day, Tuesday, July 15, 2003.

For the purpose of these tests, two Daniels repeaters were installed at an FS repeater site just North and West of Wenatchee, called Burch Mountain. One of the repeaters was a Daniels Analog and one was a Daniels P25. Both were equipped with 30 watt Power Amplifiers and each had an FS provided duplexer. A 1.3 Ghz rated antenna switch was utilized to manually switch each repeater onto the same antenna for the various tests.

Two BK DPH portable radios were utilized as the field units. Each had one analog and one digital channel programmed.

There were three separate and distinct test procedures utilized during this exercise. On each of the tests, there was a fixed ‘control’ station that was located close to the repeater and a mobile station that roamed around the country side. Each station recorded the results of each of the tests. Each test was assigned a serial number and the serial number was passed as part of the test message to ensure that test results were recorded in sync.

Single Point Test

For the single point test, the roaming DPH portable would be placed in a single location and a test count transmitted in both analog and digital mode and the results recorded at the control station. The test would then be repeated with the control station making a test count in both modes and the roaming station recording the results. The results from this test were essentially identical for analog and digital.

Walking Circle Test

In the walking circle test, the roaming portable would be held and a test count would be transmitted while the user walked in a circle. The control station would record the overall signal quality and any numbers missed in the test count. The test was then repeated in the opposite direction, with the field unit in receive mode. The results of this test showed an advantage to analog in the ability to communicate further from the repeater.

Driving Test

In the driving test, a section of road was driven while a test count was transmitted in analog mode. The control station recorded the overall signal quality and any numbers in the test count that were missed. Then, the vehicle returned to the start and drove the same stretch of road, at the same speed and transmitted the same test count in digital mode. Again, the control station recorded the overall signal quality and any missed test count numbers. The results of this test showed a significant advantage for the analog signal.

Results Discussion

The results that were observed during these tests were both expected and surprising. The single point and walking circle test pretty much produced the results we expected, based on comments heard from users familiar with this equipment. The driving test produced a big surprise. The following briefly summarizes the results:

-P25 really works
-The audio quality of the digital signal (when working), was ALWAYS better than the analog.
-Analog coverage always extended beyond the digital coverage area.
-The difference in coverage area between Analog and Digital was quite small, except:.
-In the case of the driving test, the coverage difference was significant.

In general, the audio quality was always better with the digital signal then the analog signal. It also was much louder. I’ve heard other digital signals at trade shows that didn’t sound as good. This just plain sounded good. As expected, there was no noise, even under weak signal conditions. However, if one party was transmitting, but not talking, background sounds had a definite DSP quality to them, kind of like the phased music that was popular years ago.

We could create a situation where the digital signal would be in that zone where it was between working and not working and you would hear lots of noise and cutting in and out. But to make that occur required a lot of effort in locating the exact spot and holding the radio in just the right position. It didn’t seem like it would actually happen very often.

The area of coverage where Analog continued to work and was copyable, but with lots of noise, and digital ceased to work definitely existed, but was quite narrow. The coverage difference is estimated to be approximately 5% of the total coverage area, measured radially from the repeater.

The big surprise was in the driving test. During this test, the Analog signal was quite noisy and exhibited classical VHF picket fencing, however all of the numbers during the test count were copyable. Performing the same test in Digital mode resulted in a 50% LOSS in test numbers! This is one area that needs some further testing to document the behavior differences.

Other Observations:

Delay Time

For some reason, which we did not investigate and identify, one of the DPH radios required the operator to delay his speech (up to 2 seconds) before talking or syllables or even words would be lost. The other DPH exhibited no delay at all.
2/10 I keep hearing bits and pieces about the future of the Air Show over fires. 747s,
helitankers... what is the inside scoop?

Tahoe Terrie

PS, I'm glad someone heard from Herger. Maybe I will today. Rock on Krs!
2/10 Anybody got info on the Red Flag Warning for Southern California? Is CDF prepared?

Former CDF, now in NV
2/10 Greetings Ab, Krs, and all,

Yesterday I received a reply from California Representative Wally Herger regarding my letter to him on Krs Evans difficulties with OWCP. Wally is ready and willing to initiate a congressional inquiry into the issues and as he stated, "work in Krs's behalf until I have received satisfaction". However, he says he cannot begin until he receives a personal request from Krs along with a completed privacy release form he included in the letter he sent me.

I'd be happy to forward the letter and form I received to Krs if I had his address. I have observed Mr. Herger become actively involved in other constituents complaints several times and believe he will act as he said. It appears there is activity and interest in Krs's situation forming in several areas. More is better.

Steve Myers

PS: I"m still waiting for a reply from CBS's "60 Minutes".

Here's KRS' address:

Krstofer Evans
2409 Holly Ave
Chico, Ca 95926

2/9 Looks like I might be one of the very few fortunate people to actually receive my order from Flamin' Ts! But I agree- they run a shady business. Back after the 2002 season, I had a bad experience with them also. I waited and waited for my order (which I had paid for), and made numerous phone calls to them wondering where my shirts were. They would either not return my phone calls, or would give me the runaround on what was going on and why Charlie was not getting back to me. Then the excuse was that they couldn't find my order. I finally got pretty loud with them on the phone one day, and one of their employees actually laughed at me! I guess they finally got sick of me, because after about 6 months of calling them, I finally received my order. These people are crooks- DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM!!

Robyn VanDerSys
2/9 Hey Ab-
Here's an update for 'theysaid'.
Thanks for everything-

What I know as of 6 Feb 04

So far I have received no feedback from any Senators, however, I realize government type offices can move rather slowly, especially when questioning government agencies.

However, I did receive a surprise on 4 Feb. My mother received a phone call from Mary Morris, the Headquarters FS liaison to OWCP in Washington DC. Apparently she had received A LOT of emails from various individuals who were wondering why this … “Denial of Payment” game was happening to me.

Mrs. Morris wishes to set up a conference call type meeting at the Plumas SO at the end of the month, to discuss the denied reimbursements and bills, the appropriate paperwork to be submitted, how to fill out the said paperwork correctly, and decide who my FS contact should be if I continue to have problems.

So it appears things may get fixed here in the near future. I have to admit I find it rather annoying that I was not provided with all the appropriate documentation on how to complete these forms and requests way back when I was first injured, which would have (hopefully) remedied the situation in the first place.

As for the ‘no apparent action’ so far with the Senate, I believe it will still happen, at some point in the future. I sent Senator Feinstein’s office a rather large package containing evidence of all my problems, and I’d imagine it’s going to take some time to research each one. I figure as many re-attacks I can get on this subject, the more chances I have to get it resolved. I found out today (9 Feb) that Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is “interested in this matter”, and is willing to cooperate with Senator Feinstein in “whatever action may be taken”.

On a sideline, in the process of talking to a representative at Sportaid.com, I came to find out that I am not the only one who is having problems with OWCP / ACS. For those of you who do not know, OWCP has contracted out all payments / reimbursements to ACS, (http://owcp.dol.acs-inc.com/portal/main.do) and from what I understand, ACS handles all Federal claims, as well as state workman’s comp claims. How many states I don’t know. Apparently there are several other people who get their medical equipment from Sportaid, and who are having problems getting reimbursement from ACS. I intend to try to get their names, tell them what I am doing to remedy my situation, and provide their names to the Mrs. Morris. Hopefully I will be able to show I have not been singled out (or some such) by ACS, and at the same time (maybe) get these other individuals some help.

So this call from Mrs. Morris was a very nice surprise, and I must thank those of you who caused it to happen. I had the feeling that the Forest Service had passed my case off to OWCP back in April of ’02, and was essentially done with it. Now I know that is not the case. I know now that there are people within the organization who are aware of my problems, and are willing to help. Until two days ago I had the feeling I was alone in my leaky little boat, with a damaged paddle, in waters full of leeches and sharks. Now, while the undesirables are still in the water, I now have a shiny new boat, my paddle’s been fixed, and hopefully I’ll have some smooth sailing, at least in the near future.

Thank you all,


Krstofer Evans

Mary Morris, yer a gem... and thanks also to the hotshot supts involved in bringing the situation to the attention of the powers-that-be. KRS, don't be a stranger. Ab.
2/9 Ab,

Anyone who has had their credit card charged for t-shirts without receiving
product should immediately contact their credit card company and file a
dispute. The credit card company should stop payment to flamin-t's and send
them paperwork to defend the dispute. If they can not show that they have
delivered product, such as UPS delivery records etc., you should get a
credit back. This is assuming you DID NOT SIGN a charge slip without
receiving product. If they do not have a signed charge receipt and do not
have record of delivery, you should get your money credited back to your

What if you signed a charge receipt? Well, you might have some recourse if
it has some wording like "to be delivered" or "deposit for shirts to be
delivered", but you might not get anywhere. I would call and give it a try.
You might even want to try and find out who their bank and credit card
processor is and file a complaint there. If enough people complain there,
they may be investigated. If they use a reputable bank or processor, enough
complaints may shut down their merchant account. Of course, they will just
turn around and find someone else, with similar business ethics as theirs,
to process cards for them.

>From here on out, never, never, never sign a charge slip without getting
product. You can give them the card number and expiration if you want, but
without your signature or proof of delivery, they can not justify their
charges on your card. But it is risky to do even that. It is time consuming
to dispute charges and "proof" can be manufactured.

Enough complaints in the community will hopefully put them out of business.
Those of us who run reputable fire businesses would love to see folks like
this "run out of town" too.

Jim Felix
The Supply Cache, Inc

Thanks for the lesson, Jim. Reputation counts for a lot. Ab.
2/9 bluezebra,

I'm from the Fresno area and I would gladly look up any info you need.
There are two numbers for the Fresno District Attorney: Consumer Fraud -
(559) 488-3156, and Consumer Complaints - (559) 488-3836. Another
Number to call might be the Better Business Bureau of the San Joaquin
Valley at (559) 222-8111. Let me know if you need any other numbers.
You can e-mail me at fireweasel11@hotmail.com, or post on they said.

2/9 Re: Flammin T's

Hmmmm.... Unless something changes between now and next fire season, I guess
I know who I will NOT be buying any shirts from. I've seen the Wildland Firefighter
at several incidents and always buy something from them, at least I
know at least a portion of my $ is going for a good cause and not just to pad the
pocket of some entrepreneur.

2/9 Look out you all.

NCBRUSH6 passed the pack test. See us big guys can still do it..
i may not be the first one up the hill but i know i will not be the last...

2/9 Bluezebra,

Reading this tshirt story I almost thought I wrote it based off of my own
experience with Flamin T's, also known as H&S Creations.

I as well had a strike team of engines that I took to the Cannon Fire in June
2002. While we were there, the crew bought about $200.00 worth of
T-shirts and other clothing; these items were already done and ready for
purchase. There were several of my crew that wanted sweatshirts, but we were told
that they were re-supplying and would have them made in a day or so. The fire went on for
at least another week and Flamin T’s disappeared. I contacted them a little later down
the road and was told that the shirts would be shipped by weeks end and surprise,
they never showed up.

The season continued and a few months later when things slowed down, I
called again and was told the same thing, "they will be to you by the
end of the week". This happened about 8 more times to me personally and
countless times to a few others that made additional attempts. Here we
are in 2004 and I have not had one phone call from them regarding the
$400+ of sweatshirts that they made sure to charge to my credit card
with in a day or so of the fire. We know they are watching out for

The funny part about this is my partner had talked to them during a fire
in 2002 about making some company shirts. We had several phone calls
and e-mails from him pushing us to do business with him. Once I told
him who we were and that he should consider finishing his previous
obligations before pushing us to spend thousands more with him. I was
told he would look into the sweatshirts and get back to us; that was
the last I have heard from them over a year ago. In my opinion, Flamin T's is
a terrible group to do business with, their shirts may have great appeal to buy,
but consider that this is just two of many stories about them. Charlie H<snip>
and his wife run this shady organization.

Bluezebra, best of wishes with your headhunt, let me know if we can assist.

Tyler PW

Ab will be happy to forward on emails to put you all in touch with each other. There may be greater strength in numbers. We've already forwarded at least one email to bluezebra.
2/9 Blue Zebra sorry for your loss. We placed 1350 in orders (360 for
sweatshirts on the biscuit) and a custom run for around a grand with
flamin tees.

We have yet to see anything. I still get emails as if everything
is hunky dorey talking about specials. I suggest you spread the word
to all of your associates. In fact we have listed them (flamin
tees) in our briefings for the new guys.

Bluzebra - you can kiss your money good bye. After a field manager
made at least a dozen calls over a year, a director at our operation
picked up the phone and made at least a dozen more calls. Customer
service is nill at this outfit. We cut our losses and moved on. The
only consolation we had is in the act that this is a small industry,
in passing we let our associates know th4 scoop. It will not be long
until theyre lack of service closes down the wildfire market for them.

eric @ PW

PS. If you want more info to pass on to whomever you think can help,
drop an email and I will put you in contact with the PW director who
has all of the info.
2/9 when I forwarded that Disney offer to They Said, I quietly questioned the obvious limitations, thus my warning to read their offer carefully beforehand.

what about SeaWorld's offer; same limitations?

of course because of the fires daily attendance at any southzone resort or "attraction" had to be down - they are a business & that offer sounded like a good deal to the public at large!
life in general has become ever more buyer beware! same for the t-shirt offers..... sad but true in this day & age when scammers abound; we need to be more vigilant and closely read the fine print.

blue, contact the local DA & file a complaint! contact the state AG too.


Last year those who went to Disneyland simply checked ahead. We heard of no problems. Ab.
2/8 Hi:
I am a member of a strike team of Engines that went to the Cedar Fire in San Diego in Oct 2003. We, as a group, placed about $400 worth of shirt orders with an operation called Flamin Ts out of Fresno. They have not filled our orders, even now, after almost 4 months.

We have made repeated contact (6 times that I am aware of) with them, and just gotten the run around. We paid for our orders, and those who used credit cards have had their cards charged. Never during any of the contacts has Flamin Ts offered to refund our money. At every contact they have promised to deliver within a week or so, and have failed to deliver every time.

Anybody else out there having a similar problem? We are considering contacting the Fresno District Attorney, looking for a Consumer Fraud Division. We would be interested in anyone else’s experience with this group.

Anybody out there from the Fresno area who could look in the phonebook for the Fresno DA’s office number for me?


P.S. Ab, could you forward any private responses to my e mail address? Thanks.
2/8 Comment on the Disney FF pass:

I was sent out to CA for the fires this past fall. I also heard about the great offer from Disneyland, so I took my family out. I presented my ARIZONA Fire Department ID card and got the full package deal. No problems. Maybe Disney doesn't realize different fire agencies responded from outside CA??

2/8 The Forest Service is looking into how to provide better support for employees
injured on the job (see attachment). If you’ve got something to say, let Bob hear
from you.

– Union guy

To: Work Supervisors
From: Bob Beckley
Date: January 20, 2004
Re: Injured employees

In 2003, the Washington Office of Safety and Health sponsored a project for supervisors of employees who were injured and/or disabled on the job. The goal of the project is to develop a guidebook to assist managers and supervisors in accommodating employees' needs and returning them to meaningful employment. In this pursuit, the project will determine the full extent of the problems and issues employees face after an injury, as well as the obligations and challenges the agency faces to accommodate these employees. In addition, the project will ascertain the real-world actions managers and supervisors can take to successfully address these issues.

A project team from the Missoula Technology and Development Center is currently working on the project. The project team is comprised of Bob Beckley, Project Leader, and Lisa Outka-Perkins, Sociologist. To assist in the development work for this project, we are currently looking to interview employees who were injured and/or disabled on the job. We are especially interested in hearing employees' stories after an injury and their suggestions for improving the program. We are also interested in speaking with managers and supervisors who were successful in addressing both employee and agency needs in these situations and/or have suggestions on how to improve the program.

The interviews will be tape recorded over the telephone, take one to two hours, and resemble an informal conversation. The interviews are voluntary, employees will have complete control over the topics discussed, and names/identifying information will be kept confidential.

For your information, here is how we will maintain confidentiality.

During the interview, employees' names, locations, and Forest Service work histories will not be recorded. This information will be kept in a separate file not associated with the interviews. The project leader will maintain this identifying information and not disclose it to third parties unless required by law.

If any direct quotes are used in the project record, employees' identifying information will be removed. If any quotes are used with identifying information, employees will be consulted first.

The interview recordings or transcripts will not be released to third parties or any other Forest Service units unless all identifying information has been removed or the law requires the release.

Finally, we understand that the nature of these interviews may cause employees to think about issues and feelings that make them sad, angry, or upset. If this should occur, employees should contact the employee assistance program at 1-800-222-0364.

If you have any questions, please call or e-mail us. Thank you for your valuable time and assistance.

Bob Beckley, Project Leader
(406-329-3996) or rbeckley@fs.fed.us

Lisa Outka-Perkins, Sociologist
(406-329-3849) or loutka-perkins@fs.fed.us

USDA Forest Service
Missoula Technology and Development Center
5785 Highway 10 West, Missoula, MT 59808
2/8 Dear Readers.

I am just a little displeased that Disney is Limiting their appreciation to California Agencies. I know first hand that there were other states involved in helping out in the Southern California wildfires. 3 engines from my forest were there, not including engines from other agencies and we are from NV. We were on the Roblar fire and the Cedar fire. We spent 15 days there. And I also ran into my friends from my old forest in AZ down there. There was an Engine from Colorado in my strike team. I guess im just saying if they want to Thank public Servants, they should just do it. Besides They're not losing money letting you in free. Food, Drinks, Memorabilia = $$$$$$$$$$$.

2/7 Hey ab.

I am a long time lurker of wildland fire. I just wanted to add a quote that my first Fire Chief use to say a lot. His name is Robbie Robertson. He always preached the Seven P's. Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. He certainly inspired me early in my fire career. I doubt he will see this post since he's a structure guy and I've since gone on to the Wildland side of it all.

Sign me.

I Guess if you must snip something it could be the six P's. But to me I Will always remember the 7.

I hope everyone has a Safe Season.
2/7 This may be to long for the quote page however I had to add it since this is
how I have spent my time in the agency. Also anyone that has not read Ed's
books and works for the Natural Resource Agencies Should.

"Society is like a stew if you do not keep it stirred up you get a lot of
scum on the top." Edward Abbey

2/7 Charlie Gripp,

Best wishes in your retirement and I'd be happy to respond to your post. I was not attacking you or the Agencies. I was addressing a re-occurring problem that for some reason isn't being fixed or at least addressed and forwarded to the folks in the field. Charlie, you have to remember, my posts here are of my own free will and do not represent any agency views. Only my personal views. I use my home computer and my own time.

Somehow, whether it be intentional or not, your reply never showed up on my e-mail (personal or agency) or web browsing for the following year. Knowing the Lotus Notes program and the Agency internet protocols, who knows why it didn't show up. The only reply that I received was from Wini as posted on the SAFENET corrective action. The SAFENET program is set up so that the original submitter of a SAFENET was informed of all of the information regarding their submission. I was not informed.

I provided COMPLETE contact information, and I'm sure you received a copy of the un-edited version of the SAFENET, so you know exactly who I am and where I work. For some reason, nobody seemed to reply after Wini's post. If you want to give out my name, Ken Kempter, feel free to do so. I have never been afraid to give out my name on any subject on wildlandfire.com that I have addressed.

Charlie, I apologize if I have offended you. I have offended many people over the years. Most people who I've offended have become good friends after we really start some real discussion. I'm the first person to apologize. My intent is discussion and fixing of the problem. Some of the statements in your post would also be VERY OFFENSIVE to me. If you are really interested in safety, I think some apologies are needed on your side also. If you are just attacking my views, no apology needed.

Charlie, in your SAFENET reply, read your statement and see how it REALLY relates to the issues addressed in the SAFENET..... I was talking about incompatibility of 800 Mhz systems and safety.... YOU replied about "impacts associated with tactics frequencies through better frequency allocation and management...and more emphasis on radio discipline by users".

From you (the complete version)...

"This issue was brought forward to the FIRESCOPE Board of Director shortly after the incident by several parties to be re-addressed. This was one of the original FIRESCOPE issues. The Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, is also moving forward to lessen the radio use impacts associated with tactics frequencies through better frequency allocation and management on larger incidents and more emphasis on radio discipline by users."

I checked back for over a year to see if any meaningful action had been taken on my serious SAFENET. I never saw yours....sorry...

The most important fact is: A serious safety problem exists and continues to exist. It was brought forward in a SAFENET and only two replies were made, neither reply fixing or giving real world solutions to the problem.

A safety problem that exists and isn't corrected is a re-occurring problem. It's a pretty simple fix.... supply FED and State resources with FIREMARS capable radios.... Remember, you are retired now, I don't want to hear the complaint..... it costs too much. Cost is not a SAFETY FACTOR.

Good luck in your retirement.

Ken Kempter
formerly SoCalCapt

2/7 Ab could you post this info if it has not been posted before. Thanks Rb

SeaWorld Firestorm Tribute
SeaWorld San Diego would like to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of the firefighters and other emergency response officials* who came to the rescue during the recent wildfires that ravaged Southern California, by extending an invitation to be our honored guests.

Simply show your photo ID and proof of employment anytime you visit SeaWorld San Diego between now and April 18, 2004, and you’ll receive complimentary admission for yourself and up to three additional guests. Offer valid for one visit. In addition, up to six guests may join you and save $10 off general admission.

*Offer valid for CA Dept. of Forestry, all San Diego County Fire Departments, San Diego County municipalites’ Police Departments, CA Highway Patrol, CA Border Patrol, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, US Forest Service, Dept. of Homeland Security, San Diego Emergency Medical Services employees, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 911 dispatchers and San Diego County Humane Societies.

**Red Cross staff members and Red Cross registered volunteers please call (619) 542-7613 for entrance information.
2/7 ab,

I am looking for any contacts or any info on the CDD (California Desert District) fire program.

2/7 Disneyland has extended an invitation to all active members of California's firefighter, law enforcement and rescue organization personnel who participated in the Southern California Wildfires to obtain one complimentary 3-Day Disney's Wildfire Heroes Salute Ticket valid at both Disneyland Park and Disney's California Adventure park. As part of the offer, eligible personnel are invited to stay at any one of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels at a 40% savings. In addition, active members are also able to make a one-time purchase of up to five 3-day Companion Tickets at $39 each for their spouse, other family members and/or friends. All travel must be complete by March 31, 2004 (blackout dates apply, please see attached link for details). To obtain ticket, you must present valid and active organization identification and photo ID. For further information, please see link (provided below) or by calling (714) 520-5069.

I encourage you to take advantage of this well deserved opportunity. I would also like to thank everyone who contributed to compiling the list of agencies that participated in the response and recovery


there are limitations, so please read carefully & confirm beforehand

2/6 Chris,

I agree with Backburnfs' post about having multiple inhalers around if you are going to get into wildland firefighting. I've been doing it for a while, and am pretty lucky to not have a severe case of asthma. Do you have exercise-induced asthma? If so perhaps hiking up and down mountains with 35 plus pounds on your back in a dense haze of smoke isn't a great idea. If you have had asthma for a long time, then it's likely you know what triggers the onset of symptoms. You should know yourself well enough to be able to decide whether you are able to do the job or not. Also make sure your employer knows about your condition beforehand.

Good luck -
2/6 Who me? I'm not bored. Here's what I could find on the two quotes posted on the board yesterday.

Re: yesterday's quotes,
Here's what I could find,

Quote: The important thing is are you willing to give up who you are for what you could be?
Rene Dubois, ecologist, writer, Pulitzer prize winner.

Quote: "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!"
This one is attributed to several people, so I listed them by best guess said it first:
Verne Hill
Dr. John Cotter
Karl Albrecht
"Moms" Mobley

Bored in the Fog
2/6 To complete the quote from Ken (down under)

What is an expert? An 'ex' is a has-been and a 'spurt' is a drip under

More quotes:

>From an old FCO (I'm dating myself by referencing a Fire Control Officer):
"Never take any fire personally. You aren't the one that made the woods

Often said by many after another court ruling stopping a thinning project:
"All fuels get treated eventually -- one way or another."

2/6 Ab,

Hope I'm not out of line here...

Been really busy the last few months and missed my normal lurking. Am
trying to catch up but I may have missed an important discussion related to
driving to and from incidents. I just read the First Strike letter, and it
occurs to me that the principals in this discussion may be overlooking an
important factor.

I vividly recall driving to incidents in a hurry (for many reasons) - and
drugs, alcohol, or rest were not factors. And I recall driving home, in a
mental fog, from incidents. That is, 8 hours rest didn't solve the problem
for me. It seems to me that the "fog of war" was/is very real. Rollouts,
blowups, bad chow, etc., kept poping into my head and I wasn't focused on
the task at hand - driving or otherwise. It usually took me several days
at home to get re-oriented to the non-incident world. I've been really
lucky; there but for the grace of God.....

I'm wondering if it may be time to start discussing, in a calm and general
way, the potential advantages and disadvantages of using professional
drivers to deliver and retrieve firefighters, especially crews. Pros would
be less likely to drive to the incident with the incident on their minds,
and probably could drive home clear-headed. Any thoughts? Are any
contractors already doing this, and if so, should the agencies start
thinking about it? (I'm not talking about IA, rather, the extended
situations where large numbers of resources pour in and out for weeks.)

Puffin II
2/6 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 have been updated. Ab.
2/6 Re: Asthma

What really matters is what triggers the asthma in the first place. All those plants
people having blooming in the spring can leave me gasping for breath while sitting
still. Put me on a mountain in the summer with a face full of smoke and I have no
problem at all. Although I do suspect the years of smoke, dust, etc., might rough
up the lungs and make people more likely to develop lung problems. I have
nothing scientific to back that thought up, just observations.

Still out there as an AD
2/6 Ab,

Have another memorial site to add to the list. Savanac Historic Nursery has
a memorial arboretum dedicated to firefighters lost in the 1910 fires which
burned much of the surrounding area. The nursery is about 75 miles west
of Missoula on I-90 near the town of Haugan and is a pleasant two hour or
so diversion to do the whole tour. There may be some other things there but
the visitor center was closed for the season.

2/5 This is an article from The Oregon News Review.

First Strike charges heading to trial

2/5 Dear Ab(s);

I'm a long (long, long...) time lurker who would like to finally
step up and say thanks for such a great web site. I'm currently visiting
wlf.com daily to check job announcements and really appreciate the ease at
being able to go straight to the postings from this site. thanks for the
work to keep this updated. Searching for a new job reminds me of a quote I
live by; "Change is inevitable. Are you willing to give up who you are, for
who you can become?" (unknown author)

Thanks again;

Welcome mtndv8. Yours sounds like a more personal version of another popular quote: "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got." I did a web search on both and the original speakers are unknown. I put them on the Quotes Page. Ab.
2/5 Ab,

This just came in from First Strike Environmental.
It's their response to at NIFC regarding
Drug and Alcohol Impacts on Incident Management (IM) issues.

2/5 At least one criminal charge dropped against First Strike.
The article will be on line later, In today's News Review.


We got this news release today: Judge dismisses charge; DA admits toxicology no good, SAIF agrees. Ab.
2/5 Chris, like fireweasel said, I don't know of any asthma restrictions. What does
your doctor say? Do you have exercise induced asthma/allergy induced or
what? Think long and hard about your answers. I have known several people
who had asthma and fought fire without incident, on the other hand what if
you're are in a bad situation and can't breath, are you going to be a hazard
to your fellow firefighters. You and your doctor are the only ones who can
answer these questions.

Any BLM people know what the medical testing you have to do
says about asthmatics?

2/5 Hi Ab,

heres a quote,

"What are experts? Drips under pressure."

Ken (down-under)


2/5 Chris,

I don't think there are many restrictions on asthma. One of my friends
has to take three different inhalers everyday, but she's still a
wildland firefighter. I think as long as you have it under control it
should be ok. Just make sure you have extra inhalers. Keep one in your
red bag, one in your line gear, one in the engine or crew buggy
(whatever you plan on being), and one at the station. That way you are
covered, just in case. Have you ever been around a lot of smoke to see
how it affects your asthma?

2/5 Hey, did Pulaski just nominate Ab as a religious figure?

Nerd on the Fireline

If so, Ab declines. <haw> <haw>
2/5 Hey all I'm looking for a little advice.

I'm applying for the up coming fire season to be a wildland firefighter. I have a question though, how can I improve my chances of being hired and especially hired in a specific area? You see I'm a Call Firefighter with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and I would like to remain close to the area so that whenever I'm available I might be able to still drill with them and remain active in responding to what ever incidents I can. I know my goal should just simply be to get hired, but I can't help wondering if remaining local is possible. I just really enjoy doing the volunteer work and would hate to give that up.

I'd really appreciate the help.

2/4 I'm working on a few projects and its finally got to the point that I need to get some sort of editing software for digital video. Namely, what I want to to is to be able to convert from one type to another (example from avi to mpg) without loosing the quality (thats the problem with the chincy software that came with my camera) and to be able to extract a section of a clip into another or its own separate clip. If I can monkey with the audio on the clip so much the better. Anyone have any suggestions?

...and I know some of you might have noticed that I haven't been spouting my smoke on here very much lately, but my buckets just overflowing too much right now. Some excellent topics have come up! Thank (insert religious figure of choice) for this forum...and Ab too.

2/4 Hi

I was wondering what the health requirements to become a Wildland
Fire Fighter were? I have asthma and take a inhaler everyday. What's
the restrictions on asthma?


2/4 I don't know how the whole dispatch system works
in the sequoia national forest; but i know for sure we
use run cards for different response areas when it
comes to dispatching resources for incidents. I agree
with some of the other folks on this forum that it
makes things easier for the dispatchers. From my
experience the dispatchers have their hands full when
a full blown incident occurs, and i have the utmost
respect for them. They're able to tell us the response
area, what township and range it is in, the lat and
longs, and who's going in a matter of minutes. hats
off to the dispatchers.

freezing in wisconsin
2/4 A few good quotes I've come across through books, daily calendars, etc:
"Success is never final, failure is never fatal; it's courage that counts." -Unknown
"Courage is resistance to fear, the mastery of fear-- not the absence of fear." -Mark Twain
"Whether you think you can or think you can't--you are right." -Henry Ford
"In youth we learn, in old age we understand." -Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach


Thanks JM, I put them on the Quotes Page. Ab.

2/4 Coming in late on pre-planned dispatch.

The system does work great, the dispatcher does not have to make any tactical decisions, the fire staff has decided what to send depending on the locations and weather. BUT one thing to remember, the pre-planned card is only good until the first qualified person arrives on site and make an evaluation and adjusts the resource order to fit the situation. Don't think that all resources have to be dispatched just cause they are on the list. As a dispatcher your job is to get the troops/equipment/supplies moving to an incident -- not make tactical decisions. I have used the "cards" for many dispatches, and have been directed to "turn everything around" to "SEND THE CARD" Plus!!!

I have seen several systems that have been developed for different parts of the country and they all work. Is there any system that is better than another? That is a question for great debate.

The one dispatch system that does not work is letting the fire staff dictate the order of dispatch, trying to insure that all the forces get equal dispatches (and OT). By having a rotating list, you will have resources passing each other in the night, costing time and expense. I would hate to be an FMO explain why a crew person got hurt due fatigue -- due to a long drive when there was a closer crew but they were not first on "the list." I had an incident last season where there was a crew in the next unit less than 20 miles from the fire. Their home dispatch center would not send the crew because it was not there turn and the "up" crew was over 2 hours away. We did without the help as the logistics of hosting an out of area crew was to great, when the neighbors would have been able to sleep in their own beds at night.

2/4 4 Vs 3

BLM dispatches are required to be using WildCAD (Computer aided dispatching) FS is following suit, CA most centers using it already. All the centers I have worked, CA, NC, FL, ID, AZ and MT all have had some kind of IA response to the area. Which are reviewed every spring, and of course dispatches call always increased or decrease by Bat Chiefs or by the center manger IF the situation calls for it.

Dispatchers have SOP just like the rest of the fire world. Responses are quite often upgraded during the day due to higher indices or activity. There have always been "plan" to follow if there haven't been then I have helped them write them. That way dispatcher know what to expect plus the field will know also. Often the engines have the response plans in the engines.

I strongly believe in dispatch plans. It gives consistency to dispatches. Also helps upgrade dispatches without bothering FMO or AFMO's. Trigs points so to speak.

My opinion and mine alone is since the SW is pretty set in their ways with zones, is to create a East Zone and West Zones similar to CA. that way there's one contact in AZ and one in NM. Individual dispatch centers answer to one Zone Center then that one to NICC. Or get rid of individual dispatch Centers (which make sense, there are THREE federal centers in PHX as there is) and let the Zones dispatch for their area. In a way I like second one better. SWICC is a well set up GACC.

R3 Disaptcher
2/4 re: creative dispatching

In 9 years of dispatching, two as an ECC Manager, I've observed that it most likely isn't the "creative" dispatcher who causes the most problems, but the ones who begin thinking of themselves as "god-like". You all have probably experienced or known one.

I've seen that on any given day there can arise an emergency the standard response cards fail to cover or computer aided dispatch programs are useless for. I prefer to work with "creative" dispatchers who are able to use their experience to determine the appropriate resources to respond instead of one who sits on their hands because they are afraid screwing up. A mob guide would have to be as big as a house to cover every circumstance, and even then there would eventually be an emergency situation that wasn't included.

Of course, when you are being creative you'd better be right. A dispatch center, similar to the fireline, is no place for those afraid to make decisions. But that's just one of the reasons why dispatchers make all those big bucks, right?

2/3 Backburnfs raises some good questions, proving again the value of this forum. Some of us scheduled to attend the Train-the-Trainers session had questions too. We have been told that this is a decision by the Chief to implement recommendations of the Cramer report, and to get it done by April 30. This initial effort will focus only on IC 3's (an IC 3 was in charge at Cramer). We anticipate that the simulator testing may expand in the future to encompass IC 2's and IC 1's and Division Supervisors.....although we have received no firm instructions as to that.

I see this as an expansion of our continued efforts to improve. It was not long ago that we implemented the "mandatory refresher" and the WCT. Now we are adding a periodic simulator "refresher" to our requirements to renew ones qualifications.

This is a FS decision and affects only FS employees. It will be reflected in our 5109.17 manual.

Will we be asked to retake S-130 and S-190? You may have hit on something. I recall the 10 Standard Orders being emphasized in those classes. Had the 10 been fully adhered to during any of the tragedies in the past 10 years......
Question of my own (any Pilots lurking?): Don't airliner and combat pilots continue to train and certify on "simulators" beyond their initial qualifications testing?

Old Fire Guy
2/3 Hi all. Mellie checking in. All goes well. Looks like some good
discussions going on.

Thanks everyone for the messages and phone calls. Good LCES email
backburnfs. Nice to to hear your voice, Old Fire Guy, Steve, John, Doug.
Home again, home again riggidy jig tomorrow.

I sure miss reading theysaid when I'm away. Love you all.

2/3 I’d like to chime in on IA Dispatcher’s post.

We use the same “response card” system (we call it a mobilization guide) that IA Dispatcher mentioned, and it works GREAT…when followed. We’re dispatched out of a central dispatch which also handles law enforcement and medical, so the mobe guide often gets forgotten in the press of events. We’ve found that it takes pretty much constant feedback and lots of cross-training to keep dispatchers from getting “creative”. Now, this is not at all intended to disparage our dispatchers in any way (overall, they’re great folks who do a wonderful job under intense pressure), it’s just that when they’ve got a couple of ambulances, about thirty police officers, and an IC yelling in their ears, it takes more than standard composure to stick to the script. And for the record, I’m staying out of the “pyro vollies” discussion. But it is nice to see some pros and agency folks standing up for us.

Nerd on the Fireline
2/3 Fuels Guy,

I knew a guy who worked in Silviculture (Snivelculture) and routinely
exceeded all overtime on the forest planting trees, administering
contracts, going to fires as a security dude, Rx burning and picking cones,
in the fall and winter he would volunteer to do the weekend hunter and
christmas tree patrols. I lost track of him but he was still married (first
marriage) last time I saw him. Don't know if the ever hit 1600 hours but
he had to be close.

2/3 My department is getting ready to buy some new radios, and after reading all the posts about the Digital problems I wanted to ask a few questions. Has anyone worked with the King DPG model, which is supposedly capable of both digital AND analog? We were recommended that model by our state fire office, and wondered if anyone had any positive or negative feedback. Any information would be helpful.


2/3 R3 Dispatcher,

It sounds as if you have quite a bit of experience working in various
regions and in both 4 tier and 3 tier dispatch organizations. My question
is: in all of those various dispatch centers you’ve worked in, what
mechanism did the dispatchers use to decide what resources to send for
initial attack incidents?

When I did some work over in Region 6, the dispatch office used a
pre-planned response card which told the dispatchers what types and
quantity of resources to automatically dispatch to an initial attack
incident under each of the various fire danger levels. This took the
pressure off the dispatchers to make tactical decisions that they may not
be fully capable or trained to make AND it kept the fire managers happy
because the dispatchers were not “calling the shots” and making tactical
decisions. After each dispatch of initial attack resources, the
dispatcher would call the fire manager to make sure the response was
appropriate or to get additional direction from the fire manager on
canceling resources or sending additional resources depending upon the

It concerns me to think that we might be setting up dispatch centers
(dispatchers) to make decisions that our fire managers will ultimately be
held responsible for. I’d like to hear from other dispatchers about the
processes you have in your offices and how you take the tactical decision
making away from your seasonal dispatchers and place it back on your fire

- IA Dispatcher
2/3 I am very glad to see this has invoked some discussions and I appreciate
the responses. I am receiving an education as well. I do see many
advantages to the shifting of dispatches but I also see some local
knowledge being displaced as well. I also feel that perhaps some of the
problems we have encountered in the past may be due to the attitude "that
anyone can be a dispatcher" and see this in my organization. Perhaps some
of those past problems with dispatching wrong units, delays and information
not getting to the forces in the field coming from the lack of
organizations not requiring screening and/or requiring training for these
positions. BLM BOB makes some very good points as well as R3 dispatcher.
One of the problems I am seeing is the lack of cost studies and assistance
with relocation. We need to do what is needed to keep the our good
dispatchers and provide training to those who need it. Thanks to all for
your input and let's keep this going.

well worn one (learning new lessons)
2/3 4 vs 3 dispatching...

I have dispatched in CA for 5 years with 3 tier, and also in many different centers across the Nation. I have been in the SW for the last three under 4 tier. I truly believe 3 tier is the way to go. Fast and more efficient. Other areas which have zones, the zone is the dispatch, not a middle man. It works. Eastern Great basin is a good example. They recently went to zone dispatching. Total interagency. Doesn't matter what color the engine or helicopter is. Closest resource. Radio system is also the best I had ever worked with.

Changing in the SW will cause heart ache, but for the good of the fire community I believe it is for the best. Though it will be a slow process I am sure.

R3 Dispatcher...

R3 Dispatcher had to send this message twice due to the recent virus incident. Please include wildlandfire.com in your subject line when you send email. We can guarantee if your subject line is Hi, Hello, Test, or even left blank we're going to delete it without even checking. Thanks, Original Ab.

2/3 It feels as if the Fire season of 1970 and the Southern California project called FIRESCOPE which is arguably the genesis of the Incident Command System and the Geographic Area Coordination Center, NEVER HAPPENED. To wit:

* When the Grand Prix and Verdale Fires crossed jurisdictional boundaries, the agencies involved split the incident in two along jurisdictional boundaries. Hence the Padua and Simi Fires. I remember in 1977 going to fires where we fought them until they crossed the forest boundary and then let them go. Bye bye not our problem!
* In 1978 everyone was on their own frequency and there was no interoperability, LA County was on low band, forests were on the high end of the band and we were down low. Sound familiar?
* I heard from a very good source that when the Multi Agency Coordination System went into Mode 4 when all the agencies are supposed to send a shot-caller to SouthOps for the daily or twice daily resource allocation meetings, that some agencies sent low ranking flunkies that had to vett every decision by cell phone. That’s not how it is supposed to work folks.

What Happened! We have failed to learn the lessons of the past.
2/3 re: accusation by socalcapt to safenet 4SQNASAFE

I was the Regional responder to that SAFENET and I believe I'm the one that socalledcapt is accusing of filing a back dated, corrective response. It doesn't matter which of the two responders he meant as both have our names prominently displayed with our responses. I take strong personal exception to what was alleged by socalcapt that my response or Winnie's was backdated. I will only address my response made at that time.

This comm issue was discussed in depth by CALSAFE, a small group representing the major fed/state wildland players whose role is to help keep a primary focus on wildland fire safety in CA. After our meeting early that winter this issue was given to 4 different state/fed reps to take to the FIRESCOPE BoD. Which was done!!. It was right after this meeting that I crafted my response to the SAFENET and shipped it back to NIFC who posted it on the website. A subsequent end result were continuing comm problems that surfaced big time again this past fall to few agency personnel's surprise. I, for one, wasn't and I'd been retired for 10 months when this last Santa Ana go-round occurred.

Fact: the dates on the SAFENET for both responses are the correct dates. I resent the implication that one isn't. I assert this misinformation comes from a poorly informed, attention-starved person wanting recognition for surfacing an issue previously that now is drawing an immense amount of post fire attention. I would think a person so astute would already have a thorough comprehension of the mechanics necessary (like it or not) to effect such change with so many agencies on some many different levels quickly. There is no magic wand that just one entity can wave, at least not yet. The Feds cannot make the fix happen by themselves nor can the State. As well expressed in some recent articles, it is a very big issue. I did not then or now, expect everyone to agree with what I say or have said. But I said and did what I felt was right. And, for safety to have credibility, to follow processes. Like, you don't change the rules by breaking them. There still is that forum to make changes and FIRESCOPE still have the ear of the world.

I believe I'm owed an apology by socalcapt for blatantly distorting the facts about the responses to that SAFENET and disparaging my name. I wasn't afraid then, nor now, to sign my name. And, if someone doesn't like what the overhead does then move up, let them make it right. It real easy to sit back behind a moniker and have bugle diarrhea. So If you want to slam someone, or me in particular, get your facts right or keep quiet (which, in many of the present communications issues facing the wildlanders, is the correct response). And still/yet I applaud socalcapt for using the SAFENET process. Even if the result weren't meaningful to that one person, it gave credence and substance to an emerging issue that still needs to be resolved. Hopefully there will more success this time.
Charlie Gripp

Thank you Mr. Gripp for your open and informative reply. I applaud your composure and restraint responding to some critical and apparently unfounded accusations. I know the readers here (and our staff) gain valuable knowledge when managers are willing to confront or explain their decisions, processes, or the resulting concerns. Enabling firefighters at all levels to exchange information is our fundamental objective here. Hard questions and honest answers are both informative to our readers are rewarding to our staff. I believe the "ball" is in SoCalCapt's court. Original Ab.

2/3 I can't see how professional firefighters can bust on
volunteer firefighters. I was a vollie before I
joined the forest service and I have a lot of respect
for the guys. These guys risk their lives for other
people for FREE. It goes the same with this whole CDF
and Forest Service Battle of who's better. I thought
we were professionals and had a maturity that exceeded
a thirteen yr old.

Freezing in Wisconsin
2/2 For the folks pounding on the volunteer firefighter's for having a higher number of fire setters vs. "professional" FF's maybe it has to do with the fact that over 75% of the nations firefighter's are volunteers. It's not acceptable for either but do the math.

Just another Firefighter
2/2 Ab,

The National Fallen Firefighters' Foundation is hosting a LODD Prevention Summit in Tampa, Florida on March 10th and 11th. According to their website:

"The Summit program will include discussions about five specific areas of concern: Firefighter Health and Wellness, Structural Firefighting Operations and Training, Wildland Firefighting Operations, Vehicle Operations, and Reducing Fire Occurrences in the United States. The discussion will consider a full range of programs, strategies and approaches that could be implemented to prevent firefighter deaths, including technology enhancements, training, education, standards, regulations, and others."

The Department of Justice will also make a presentation about PSOB and "streamlining of its processes and procedures."

More info is at the NFFF website. http://www.firehero.org/Index1.asp?BD=3483 About 100 fire service organizations have been invited to send a representative, but anyone interested can attend on a space-available basis.

vfd cap'n

2/2 Hi well worn one,

I hope that that your post generates some discussion, but I want to fine-
tune it just a bit. The aim of looking at three-tier dispatch in the
Southwest is not to reduce the number of dispatch centers. In the
Southwest, moving to three-tier might just reorganize things so that more
centers report directly to the Coordination Center - that's a possibility.

The reason for looking at going to three-tier is that the national standard
for feds is three-tier. It's policy - any geographic area or local dispatch
center using a dispatch system outside the three-tier system must justify
why a non-standard system is being used. This information is in the Red
Book, Chapter 3.

Three-tier dispatch became the standard in part because of IMRT
recommendations after the South Canyon fire. The aim was to reduce
confusion, overlap, and delays that may be caused by four-(or more)-tier
systems. The three-tier vs. four-tier has been an issue at the geographic
area level ever since then, but recent national policy changes (see above
about Red Book) are bringing it to a head.

Is the dispatch system (in the Southwest) currently organized in the best
way possible? Are there exceptions in other geographic areas that have some
important lessons that we can learn from?

Hope that helps. Looking forward to the discussion - particularly any
alternatives that might be suggested that would help address safety,
efficiency, and the policy.

2/2 Hey AB, saw that MOC4546 was asking if Grayback Forestry Inc was closing up shop. Saw this article about Grayback Forestry doing some driver training recently so I guess they aren't out of business. Thought I'd pass the info along.


2/2 Well, the “safety” training portion of the agency’s (FS) attempt to cover their bases before the next fatality occurs on a wildland fire has started.

Let us gather all the ICT3’s around the computer and run them through the simulator and have them play in the sand box for a day or two. “The test will assure that all current ICT3's have the necessary leadership and decision making skills to act safely under stressful conditions.” Oh really! I thought the Task Book and all the training assignments that we go though to get certified in the first place was supposed to assure us that all current ICT3’s have the qualifications needed to make decisions under stressful conditions.

Who really thinks these schemes are not going to make anyone safer or make better decisions? Steve Rucker died when a Type 1 IC was in charge how come the Type 1 and 2 ICs are exempt? Where are the CDF training recommendations to assure their personnel have the necessary leadership and decision making skills?

What are we going to do next time? Send us all back to S-190 and 130.

I hope Billy Terry is a lurker and will respond to this.
2/2 It seems we are being hit with DOS (denial of service) attacks this morning. Please bear with us as updates may be delayed. Ab.
2/2 I'm curious, the largest OT achievement, who? Two years back, one local friend passed another, 1530 hours beaten by 1565 hours. Yea, they have a life, maybe not the one you would want.
Suggested ground rules; no portal to portal, in a calendar year, no more than 3 divorces cumlative.
Who has the record?

Fuels Guy
2/2 In Australia we have also had the experience of an air tanker pilot writing a letter to the media saying that he would have saved the day. The letter I am thinking about was written by an AMERICAN pilot in response to a fire half way around the world that he had no first hand knowledge of. I presume the public just believed what he had to say which would have contributed to the publics already distorted view of the Government Fire Department. I know that all the people I worked with on the fire would have been disgusted by the way our efforts were brushed under the carpet in his(the pilots) search for publicity, glory or whatever he was trying to achieve. In no way am I lumping all pilots with this individual as I realise that no matter where you are in the world some people are always going to stick their neck out and show everyone what fools they are.
On a different topic, I think that this sight could do with a forum where everyone could communicate without the use of emails through a third party. Topics could flow much easier and with the help of some moderators the work load would probably be decreased for Ab.
Anyway cheers from Australia (where the season so far has been mostly wet and uneventful in my area which is a stark contrast from last season!!), MB
2/1 Television viewing in San Francisco:
NOVA is having a post Superbowl showing of Fire Wars right now.

Antonio José Pina has sent in a number of photos of forest fires in Portugal. Check the following photo pages for his and other fine fire photos: Fire 21, Engines 10, Handcrews 11, Helicopters 13, Airtankers 10, and Equipment 7 . Visit his fire department at www.bombeirosdealhandra.com.pt


2/1 Here are some pics. of my crew.
PatRick Crew out of Ellensburg Wa.


Thanks. I put them on Fire 21, Handcrews 11, Heli 13. (See post above for live links.) These pages also have some fine Australia photos from OB and one helicopter photo sent in from the Iran Interface. (Couldn't resist.) Ab.
2/1 One book recommendation:

IN FIRE'S WAY by Tom Wolf. Mr Wolf is an independent ecologist and
"forestry expert."

I recommend that this book be rated three chain saws.

This book is written for the citizen homeowner to become better educated
about their role and responsibilities in the Wildfire Danger Zone (also
known as the Wildland Urban Interface). Greater involvement by the
homeowner community, in the long term, could change the role of both the
federal and state fire agencies from one of protectors to partners. The
author makes common sense recommendations that can be implemented without
breaking the piggy bank-thus reducing our dependency on "Uncle Fud". With
a little hard work we can break the habit!

This book should be referenced by each wildland fire manager, fire planner,
agency line officer and local land use decision maker.

TRABUCO SIX (retired)

2/1 4 tier vs 3 tier dispatch

Here in the Southwest there is a move to reduce the number of dispatch
centers in order to reduce amount of time in processing resources orders
(with ROSS? HA!), errors in dispatching units and more control by Zones of
resources. However the BIA and FWS are moving their dispatch centers out of
these larger Zones and dispatch centers for the same reasons listed above
with exception of Zone controls. It does not make sense. These smaller
units are more familiar with their resources and areas of dispatch. There
is going to be an enormous cost in relocating dispatch offices as well as
displacing persons or relocating staff. This is already being done despite
lack of cost studies and input by dispatchers in these smaller offices.
Talk about jumping the gun. It sounds as though there should be more time
spent in considering these alternatives. I would like to hear from
dispatchers in the southwest as well as other dispatch centers on this
subject. Maybe as a combined dispatch community we can get some answers.

well worn one

2/1 RE: discussion of volunteer firefighters and arson

To my knowledge (and I've researched this) there is no evidence nor data even suggesting that vollies are more prone to arson, or more often responsible for arson starts, than any other group, firefighters as a group included. In journalism school one learns about the "Scary World" theory: Crimes and "oh wow" news are reported much more frequently and widely than are non-crime items and "oh boring" events. This causes people to maintain the false impression that the world is a far more dangerous place than what it really is. Easily proven by polling folks about what they think their chances are of being shot by a cop. It pretty much never happens, statistically, but the incidence of this on TV and in other media reports is dramatically high compared with other incidents, so people THINK it's pretty darned likely.

Same with firefighters and arson. If your neighbor guy the electrician torches off a woods fire or leaves his campfire going, it may not even be reported, much less widely disseminated. But let it leak that it's even rumored that a firefighter is suspected of an arson, and reporters from three states are onto the story.

2/1 I just got my January 2004 issue of Wildland Firefighter, and was looking
through the classified page to find that Grayback Forestry Inc. was selling
off a lot of vehicles and equipment. Does anyone know if they decided to
close up shop?

2/1 Doug Campbell,

Thanks for answering my questions. Interesting stuff. Definitely a
different way of looking at mitigating potentially dangerous
firefighter situations. <Chuckle> on your comment about giving you
a grade.

2/1 i read about some haz mat training quotes quite a few threads back. cdf/huu put
on a hell of a hazmat class this week. just want to add that it was a reminder that
even though not particularly a main concept in our mission statement, a heads up
to everyone because of the low frequency but high risk of hazmat events.

forester dude
2/1 It is time to quit slamming the Volunteers!!!

In almost 40 years of wildland fire experience in places where the primary cause
of fires is human activity, I cannot agree that the primary source of wildland arson
is from the volunteer fire service.

Yes, we have arrested a very few but not anything remotely close to the number
that has been suggested in posts on this site. To suggest that this is true on a
national basis is a cruel slam on a whole bunch of dedicated people who truly
are trying to serve their community.

At this time my unit works closely with approximately 40 volunteer fire
departments and I would suggest that their sense of mission and their
dedication to it via thousands of hours of donated time is something that
the paid fire service would do well to emulate.

Without question some departments are better funded, equipped, led or
trained than others but that is also true in state and federal agencies.

One significant indicator of Volunteer performance on wildfires seems to be
the energy the state or fed's nearby put into building a relationship and working
together. If you are seeing bad things on your turf you may be part of the

Respect them and work with them and the result will be most pleasant!!

Ed F
Area Forestry Supervisor
Wis Dept of Nat Res.

Thanks for your input. There are lots of great volunteers out there who contribute immeasurably to the safety communities. A number of them even read and write in here. Ab.
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