March, 2004

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3/31 JL,

I'm the guy you're referring to. I'm writing this sitting in a hotel room
near McClellan, and my ICT3 sim is tomorrow morning. I just got my ticket
punched for ICT3 in January, and have not done this on a fire except as a
trainee. Tomorrow will tell, I guess! I FEEL ready, have done my studying and
all, and I've been DIVS for a few years now, so I'm not stressing that much,
BUT, as you know, there's stuff on the line here, like my higher quals. I heard
some Forests are boycotting the whole sim idea, and letting them take away the
qual. I'm going to try it at least! I'll post tomorrow night and tell folks if I
passed or not!!


Good luck or have fun as the case may be. Ab.
3/31 Thanks TC with your help regarding proper classification.

The link you provided explained some of the answers that I was after. Something else confused me though and it made me gain some new questions:

From the link you provided...

"The GS-340 Program Management Series includes positions that manage or direct, or assist in a line capacity in the managing or directing, one or more programs, including appropriate supporting service organizations. The paramount qualification requirements of these positions are management and executive knowledge and ability and the positions do not require competence in a specialized subject-matter or functional area. Positions in which specialized subject matter or functional competence is a necessary qualification requirement are classifiable in the appropriate specialized or general series."

..... "As there are no prescribed titles for positions in this series, the agency may construct a title using the instructions contained in the Introduction to Position Classification Standards."

TC, I would still like to see the actual classification standard and the requirements that are in it. I can't find them anywhere.

I'm trying to find out why this series doesn't change over to the 0401 series, since 0401 seems to be the new "fix all". Also, why doesn't my fire management degree meet the requirements, since it says the core competencies are "management" and that competency in a specialized subject matter or functional area is not required?

P.S. - Obviously I don't need to be an english major based upon the quotes from the link you provided. I also am not an english major just for the record... I'm sure you can tell.

Confused in the Forest

3/31 I just went through the IC3 simulation (CA).

There are a few problems with the program that still need to be worked out, (it froze up during my simulation) but it was good. I feel it will be a very useful tool. For getting the mind ready for the season to come. And also for someone who has just finished their task-book. During that period of time that they are going through their task-book, they have had someone looking over their shoulder, providing bits of info to help them learn the position. Now turn them lose on the simulation and let's truly see if they learned what they were taught. They won't have that second head sitting with them feeding little bits here and there to help remind them what is needed to be done; its now all on them. If they are not able to pass, then more time with the task-book and a trainer. This way we are not setting up someone to fail. We are giving them an opportunity to see where they may need to improve.

3/31 i am looking for any info for the gonzo gear pack. they're made in dolores co.
need to find an address or a phone number.
i've looked all over the internet for an address or any info on them i cant find a web site.
thank you for any info that any body can offer.


Ab will forward any information along.
3/31 The rumor about the IC on the Cramer is completely false. There is no
civil suit. And it is the Department of Justice, not the FS that makes
decisions on defending employees.

The OIG investigation is ongoing. The Administrative review relating to
any personnel action decisions is ongoing.

Rumors can be very harmful things and should be treated with caution.

Thanks - Rose

Rose Davis
Public Affairs Specialist
USDA Forest Service
Fire & Aviation Management

Thanks for the clarification, Rose. Ab.
3/31 AZTrailblazer:

Good the hear from you, too. Sounds like your neck of the woods is having some fun. You didn’t p*ss me off…my reaction was as much based on bemusement at the idea that we “let” people do anything…it’s like the old story about holding onto the tiger’s tail. You aren’t “letting” the tiger run away with you, but you sure as h*ll ain’t gonna let go neither. You say you can’t believe that fire or DEQ let the burn happen in the first place. In my experience, if we expressly tell people they can’t burn, what usually happens is that they try to hide from us, either by burning at night (which usually isn’t as major a problem) or in the case of one guy, hauling his slash pile into the woods so that the overhanging branches would hide the smoke!

(smiling) I didn’t attribute any disrespect to tradition (farming or tribal) to your post, but feel free to attribute it to mine; I’m an uppity young whipper-snapper, and this time last year was a lesson in the willingness of people to be really, really stupid in the name of “we’ve always done it this way”. We burn this coming weekend; 80+ temperatures and 20 mph winds in some places. I just really, really hope we can get “please burn another time” past “my daddy burned the first weekend in April, and his daddy, and his daddy…”

Nerd on the Fireline
3/31 I am looking for any pictures of Tonto Helitack's B 407, helicopter 323 from Region 3.
Any help would be much appreciated.

3/31 Ab

As far as I know there is not a civil suit against <the ICT3>. Neither the Allen's nor ourselves
have filed anything. We have to wait until the last report is done by the General Justice to see if
they will file criminal charges.

3/31 What a difference a year makes. This time last year we were digging out from a five foot snowstorm. This year we just had the driest March since 1911. We are all hoping to get the moisture they are predicating for this weekend. In the mean time the following is a press release for a slash burn gone bad in our neck of the woods. It started at noonish yesterday, the report below is from this morning.

The following information update has been made for: Picnic Rock Fire

This morning the Picnic Rock Fire stands at approximately 500 acres. Eight homes have had a precautionary evacuation with an additional 12 on standby. Currently, we do not have a shelter established for these displaced persons. That may change as the day progresses. Much depends on the winds today and fire behavior to determine if additional evacuations will be warranted.
There are 40 firefighters on the line with an additional (4) 20 person crews ordered as well as a Type II Overhead Team for fire management. We also have two helicopters committed for today as well as two Air Tankers for retardant drops. The latter are coming out of Grey Bull, Wyoming and North Carolina. This is obviously very early to need air support like that and the North Carolina ship is apparently the only one available for duty other than the Wyoming air tanker. We also have called for an airspace closure in the vicinity of the fire. Pilots should check with the FAA in order to appropriately conform to the restrictions. County Road 29C is closed in the vicinity of the fire but Highway 14 remains open. There is no current information on percentage of fire perimeter enclosed with fireline nor any estimate of overall containment. Additional information when it becomes available.

For additional emergency information, see www.larimer.org/emergency/

Take care out there - and do your rain/snow dance.
Adios, CJD
3/31 Just a few words from Ab regarding the ICT3 certification process and rumors:

From what I have seen of the ICT3 certification process in R5, it's a good process, although pressed for time. I do not have first hand experience in other regions.

You have to remember that we no longer have new people coming up through fuel treatments - at least not many. We no longer have new people gaining important decision making experience with a spring and fall burning season in addition to the summer fire season. The fuel conditions 20 years later are phenomenally worse than when we did have a viable fuel treatment program. Being adept at decision making is critical.

Is the implementation of the ICT3 cert process much like implementation of the WCT? We groused about that at the beginning and, in my opinion, it has saved lives on the fireline. Maybe we need to let the system work in this certification process as well. If someone in the ICT3 position is not comfortable making decisions then maybe they shouldn't be in that position. From what I have seen of the cert process in R5, it is set up to be a win-win situation. However, having said that, I do see other problems inherent in the issues that are brought up in GW's post.

Regarding the rumors of civil suit. At this point, they're just rumors. I understand that fire managers are on edge and do not feel supported. That's an understatement and it's not just ICT3s. However, rumors can undermine morale and affect the trainers. Until the OSHA Report and the OIG Investigation (Office of Inspector General) come out, nothing can be decided from a legal perspective. The OSHA Report is in the process of being released and I've heard that the FS may have a news release out on that tomorrow.

Take a deep breath all. Keep training. Stay tuned.


3/31 Ab,

I've heard of a rumor that could have a serious impact on our fire program this year. The rumor is that the IC on the Cramer fire is facing a civil suit and the FS is choosing not to defend him. Some TypeIII ICs discussing this are seriously considering giving up their qualifications so as to not be exposed to the personal liability.

Does anyone know the truth or falsity of this rumor? It should be broadcast one way or the other so these ICs can get on with training and certs. If a number of TypeIII ICs do not re-certify, where are we going to be?


3/31 Ab. This email is making its way behind the scenes, sent out by one type3 IC who is not going to maintain their cert. Such concerns should be considered by all affected. GW

Reasons for me to drop Type III IC Qualification:

  1. Family, age and abilities.
  2. Concern over Forest and Oregon Board of Forestry commitment to promptly replacing Type III IC's on fires when they go to II or even I. We are clear that a Type V will not command a Type IV fire. With the burnover fatality events occurring at the Type III becoming II level, of course we need to apply that same appropriate governor there.
  3. Concern over multi-agency variances on ICT3 standards; FS doing pass or fail recertification, BLM staying as is, State with lesser experience levels.
  4. Belief that Type III IC is the toughest job in Wildland Fire. That Division Group Supervisor should be a pre-requisite for ICT III and not the reverse. ICT III having to do essentially the same job as a Div Sup without the support of a team. That Division Sup must be a prerequisite for Type III is easily provable. It is common for Type III IC's to designate Division Supervisors, {both in name and job complexity}, under them. Type II Operations Chief appears to be the current lowest level qualification that is capable of managing a Type III Incident that goes to a level utilizing Division Supervisors.
  5. USFS need to have 401 series leadership, that I regrettably cannot provide, in critical IC roles. {South Canyon in 1994 identified having a clear need for professional series managers in the most challenging fire management positions. Although, for some reason not identified currently, surely this must include ICT III if preventing fatalities with better leaders is the intention. Again, Type III managed fires are where the burnover fatalities are occurring.}
  6. Lack of FMO positions on Forest; both FMO's were gone when B&B went. For whatever reason, aerial detection flights were discontinued for the 4 flights prior to Bear & Booth escaping and a prompt transition was not made to the Type I team. Cramer fire showing that we must have FMO's in place during high risk periods. Lack of managerial support will hurt Type III fires the most.
  7. Believe in training in spring, not summer. Most contractors simply not ready.
  8. Fear of getting shanghaied by Type I Teams even though "3 day I.A." completed.
3/31 Hey Nerd,

Good hearing from you. Sorry to have p*ssed you off in my post. What I was trying to get across is that, I couldn't believe that the fire department or DEQ (department of environmental quality) approved the burn in the first place. With the current large fire happenings, and the type of weather we have been having (and yes, I know where you live) common sense should have prevailed yesterday. No disrespect intended towards farmers or tribal influences.......(and yes, you do know where I work as well. [BIA])

AZ Trailblazer
3/31 does anyone know what kind of shelters are going to be in the management teams fire cache? old or new

3/31 AZTrailblazer:

You said: “Citrus fire,...............ag burn go wrong in Gila Bend (humm, lets see, hot, dry single digit rh's, 25 mph sustained winds, and the locals are letting farmers burn their fields?!?!?!? What the H%^& is going on here?”

“And the locals are letting farmers burn their fields”?!?! My friend, being one of the ‘locals’, though not of Gila Bend, I’d like to say that “letting” isn’t always the operative term. In my district, the fields and the acequias have gotten burned the second weekend after the spring equinox for four hundred years. Last spring, trying to keep this supervised by fire personnel, let alone under control, wound up with two fist fights, one drawn firearm, and three law enforcement interventions. This spring, we got told by our local politicos that we shouldn’t even be there, because “If the fire department is there, and something gets away, we’re liable. If you’re not there, we aren’t liable. Wait until you actually get a 911 call.” What? We’re supposed to wait until it’s already gotten out of hand before we even start rolling? The great Southwestern mantra of “whiskey’s for drinking and water’s for fighting” holds good…if you try to stick your nose in ditch politics, which trying to prevent some of these burns counts as, you’re playing with fire (pun intended). We’ve got six engines, and last spring we all of them out on separate assignments shutting down unpermitted burns. We only had two law enforcement officers at that time, and nobody wanted to go out without ‘em.

One thing that I’ve never seen discussed in relation to WUI tactics is the cultural and less conventionally political ramifications of trying to keep people out of high-risk situations. It’s really hard to tell people that even though they’ve been doing something for generation after generation, like burning acequias or roasting chicos or collecting firewood, that they can’t do it because the winds are too high or that it’s too dry. Around here, you’ll have a fight on your hands if you try.

Nerd on the Fireline
3/31 The 0340 is a program management series.......... From the OPM site, so a
search on 0340. Here's a link to just one of 169 hits I got on that

www.opm.gov/classapp/decision/1997/03401401.pdf (pdf file)

3/31 Ab,

We've added about a dozen new pages to the Colorado Firecamp website, related to the use of contractors in wildland fire. In September 2003, NWCG released a series of memos and other documents "to promote safety and help standardize use of contractor resources." Included is information on training and quals, standard contract provisions and incident behavior. NWCG also released a sample MOU for training providers, similar to the MOU we have with RMCG, region 2.

Here's the starting page for the NWCG contract resource package. This information should be of benefit to both contractor and agency folks alike as we gear up for the 2004 season.

vfd cap'n
3/31 Regarding the Upper Santa Ana Burn, (BDF)

The next time BDF holds a public meeting in Big Bear it should be at either Chad's or that dump in Sugarloaf.

That way the drunks don't have to get out on the road and become a hazard to the motoring public!.

Signed, Smokey's Friend
3/31 I need some help with finding some things.... another classification question... sorry...

The Cleveland National Forest has an outreach for a GS-0340-14 Forest Supervisor and Sequoia National Forest has an outreach for a GS-0340-13 District Ranger.

The OPM site www.opm.gov/fedclass/html/gsseries.asp#0300 and all of my usual sources have no mention of this series. Actually, I can't find any reference to it except for Forest Supervisors and District Rangers.

Did the Forest Service gain a new series that isn't posted anywhere else? Is it an old series that was done away with like the old 0456 series but still used for classification? Or is it just an OPM oversight? Or an Agency Typo?

Bill Terry told us that the 0401 series was the "wave of the future" and would allow us educated Forestry Technicians to promote into management within the Forest Service.

I never wanted to head to the Regional Office or the WO, but the 0401 series seemed like it was the "fix all" as presented by the WO guy. I wanted to be a DR and then a Forest Supervisor and think that may not be possible now if management positions are going to be filled using so many different series.

Thanks for your replies in advance,

Confused in the Forest
3/31 OK Gang,

Let's get ready to ruuummmmmble!!!!

2 large fire in AZ in less than 24 hours. Webber Fire up to 1800 acres and will increase with additional burn out.

Citrus fire,...............ag burn go wrong in Gila Bend (humm, lets see, hot, dry single digit rh's, 25 mph sustained winds, and the locals are letting farmers burn their fields?!?!?!? What the H%^& is going on here?

The Colorado River area is primed and ready! No Burn jobs in RRU for past couple of days.

Between working CDF and training PHX BIA refreshers (no available t-2 crews available from PHX until the remaining refreshers are done), No days off!

Time to hydrate!

AZ Trailblazer
3/30 Along with the Rats Thread..................

Back in the 70's into the early 80's we use to store the unused peanut butter, jelly, and (very few of these) cheese cans that were leftover from C-Rat boxes in our Fire Cache. C-Rats were great by the way. Most of us saved and still have many P-38's. I cannot remember ever being hungry on a lengthy coyote assignment. Green eggs and ham!

The aforementioned PB, J, and (few) cheese cans were roughly the size and shape of a hockey puck. During the off-seasons we would (during lunch only, of course) play a game behind the firehouse called "Roller Pucky". The premise was simple. Put the pucky between two pylons a hundred feet away on the asphalt parking lot behind the firehouse.

One soon learned that PB, J, and (few, but they were the best) cheese cans all rolled, yes rolled, differently. One learned quickly to save the cheese cans.

Now, can anybody guess where this was? Hint: some of the earliest Arrowhead Hotshots may remember.

3/30 The report that RDF was asking about might be this NIMO draft:


3/30 Santa Cruz County Fire (Arizona) is looking for an Engine Boss in Region 3, with at least 2 years wildland experience as an Engine Boss, to Captain their new type 5/6 CAFS engine in 2004. For more details and contact info, check the Jobs page. Ab.
3/30 Re Line Gear:

I was wearing some horrible line gear pinching my shoulder blades awful on
the Sadler Complex near Elko, NV and a crewmember told me about Top Stitch
in Redding, Ca. I called up and told them my problem.

I was going back to Lava Beds and a topstitch rep met me in Redding that night.
As he was ex FS fire, he gave me a 30 dollar discount.

Quite comfortable.


RH, I just called the number you provided and talked with Rich at Top Stitch. They are in the process of rebuilding their website. It should be ready in 2-3 weeks. We're happy to provide specific contact info on theysaid for companies that advertise with us either with a Classifieds link or with a banner. Top Stitch is not yet on that Classifieds links list, but may be soon. Anyone wants their phone number, let me know. Ab.

3/30 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated. Asst. Hotshot Superintendent for Logan IHC is on the street. Announcement

Firestormers Wildfire Suppression contractor update: they now have a position they need filled for a full time engine captain. See the Jobs page for info and contact.


3/30 please find attached two pictures from South Africa.
"Working on Fire" Hotshot Crews.


Thanks Alex. I put them on the Handcrews13 photo page.
Also put up a photo of the Mat Su Crew, 2003, Alaska sent in by Cal.
Thanks contributors.

To date we have crews from six of the seven continents. We have North and South America, Europe, Asia (Siberia), Australia/New Zealand and now Africa. Wow, all we're missing is a crew from Antarctica. Readers, email your friends down there and ask them to send in a photo!

While I'm patting us on the back, Original Ab pointed out yesterday that there are now about 100 photo pages of 20 photos each or 2000 wildland fire photos in the wildlandfire.com photo library. It's no wonder that we get multiple emails a day asking permission to use them for non-commercial purposes, and some every once in a while that request commercial use as well. In that case, we put requestors in touch with photographers.

Nice job, community! It's great to see the photos in powerpoints around the US. Ab.

3/30 Apache-

There are many other quality packs other than Eagle Gear to choose from.
Our IHC uses Gear 911's Mountain Rest Pack. It's only $99 and has held up well for us over the last two seasons. The crewmembers (especially the sawyers) seem to like the storage space and the non-sliding H-harness (they call it a "Yoke" harness). However, if you don't plan on doing a lot of spiking, that model may be too big for you.

Start calling gear manufacturers- a lot of companies will let you demo their pack before purchasing it. The new GSA pack looks promising also- it looks like it's designed after the Missoula Jumpers' pack. Has anybody used it yet- if so, what did you think?

3/30 FS Web

Couldn't get any of the fs.fed.us sites to come up an hour ago, but they seem to be working now.
If we had this kind of FS web failure like yesterday's during the height of fire season, we'd
be up S*it Creek without a paddle.

It would make sense to have a redundant system for fire,

Tahoe Terrie
3/30 Apache:

I’m on my second season with an Eagle Gear pack…I’ve got a few quibbles with it (back,
double-back, and SAFETY PIN that main vertical strap in back), but overall I’ve been pretty
impressed with it. Not sure I’d call it the absolute best out there, but I haven’t seen one I like

Nerd on the Fireline
3/30 A question was asked about 0081 relating to wildland which is why I posted the links I did but there seems to be some misunderstanding in a few areas.

The pay 0081 FF get is 100% based on the hours worked, in fact my hourly rate is less than a 40 hour employees, I get paid the same as the 40 hour employee for my first 53 hours (so I make about 80% the hourly wage) the remaining 19 hours I make time and 1/2 of this reduced hourly rate. I get no differentials, no hazard pay, no holiday pay, no night pay and in place of these differentials I get... nothing. Thats right they took all of these pay differentials in lieu of getting paid for all the hours I am at work (must have made sense to someone). It is true under the old system we got a differential in place of all of these, but that is no longer true.

The grading of the 0081 series is being changed to reflect more of what we do, this will raise our grades in many cases since many bases require EMT, hazmat etc, many FF will be seeing 1 or 2 grade increases.

It is true that there is currently no mention of Wildland fire but that seems to be less of an issue to add the wording to the 0081 series rather than trying to create an entirely new series, I know a lot of 0081s who respond to more than 50% wildland, using the wildland agencies logic the firefighters at these bases should be 0462s. I was an EMT, did medicals, vehicle accidents, car fires, lost hikers, aircraft standby etc in addition to wildland fire when I was at the USFS.

I agree with MOC4546 on the idea of a combined fire protection agency, let the other agencies have their fire protection managed by professionals instead of various base commanders, forest supervisors etc who may not have any clue what Fire protection is about and have a tendency to spend fire money on their own pet projects. Fire money needs to be spent on fire issues, not rec trails for the base or new furnishings at the Forest SO.

I also agree that one of the biggest problems the wildland firefighters face is themselves, I don't know how many times I heard people talking about CDF wannabes referring to those who want support for the non wildland responses. Change is not easy and it is even harder when it is us vs them (WO, RO) and also them (FF who don't want to work year round or respond to non wildland incidents). I am now equipped with top of the line SCBA, structural turnouts and training when I go to a car fire, at the USFS I never had structure pants, I had the cheapest nomex jacket Galls carried and only part of the crew had SCBA, the only training the crew got was what I gave them, my training came from my volunteer department. Some of the engines I worked around had no training because their captains didn't have any and didn't want any. Part of being professional is having the knowledge and willingness to do all of your job not just the parts you like.

Although I am currently DoD I am ex USFS and consider all Federal paid firefighters to be Federal Fire regardless of series or agency. In fact the DoD has not been able to replace my USFS green blood even though they have bought my services for the time being. Like many it was simple economics and recognition of the job I actually do, not the job some administrator thinks I should (or shouldn't do). If the wildland firefighters ever get properly classified I will be the first one in line to get back on a Green engine. In the mean time, anytime I can offer my support I will.

3/30 NIMO Report

Do you know where to get a copy of the report that talks about how many
folks are retiring and that there won't be anyone to staff the Incident
Management Teams?


People in R5 who are retiring listed their names on large sheets of paper on the wall at the Division Chiefs Mtg. Ab.

3/30 MOC4546, thanks for your reply.

I appreciate your honesty and your professionalism. I am always open to discuss the issues head first and answer questions from anyone who is interested.

Lobotomy talked to you last night on chat and I was watching. As he said, I think we're all on the same page. We just express our views differently. You have a very important view from the outside that is appreciated more than you even know.

Your posts are informative and sometimes provocative to some of the wildland folks. I'm probably just the opposite of you.... a wildland guy who had two years (actually 19 months) DoD, 21 years FED and over 15 years VFD service in between. Some of my posts are provocative to the DoD folks and local government (Never intended to be). Maybe we are each others "alter ego's".

Anyway, never take anything said here as personal.... It's just an information exchange... It's just personal views and how we see things around us.

I'd be happy to talk with you in person... Ab, can you e-mail MOC4546 my addy....

Rogue Rivers
3/30 Look at this and you will get a new perspective on All Risk Management.
Especially when you see the Fire Engines and Helicopters.


3/30 old fire guy- on mre's etc.

time: July 1977
place: Truckee R.D.- 27 fire lightning bust between Truckee and Sierraville
saws: homelite XL's were blue or green, falling saws were gear drive Mclucks, 28lb powerheads...
we were given some boxed "K" rats out of the Truckee "rat room" to last for three days, excellent chief boy-yard-dee spaghetti, dolly madison pound cake, (not bad if ya poured the pineapple juice on it, warm preferred) and camel cigs (3 to a box with 3 gold stripes on each). when we got back i called the local distributor (Reno) and asked when the last time camels were made unfiltered w/3gold stripes. he said he'd have to call back, after 2 hours he did (after checking with a regional old guy) and said they were Korean war vintage- probably 1952... no one admitted to any ill effects...

stihl pullin'
3/30 Apache,

There is a lot of good web gear out there, it really just comes down to personal needs and design choice. If you will need to remove your day pack often, like on an Engine crew does to carry hose, then a pack like the True North Firefly pack would be good. If you are on a handcrew, and leave the day pack part on all of the time, then Eagle Gear or Nimrod would be a good choice. You need to think about need. Do you need to carry lots of gear, or just enough for Initial Attack? Do you need to carry a hydration system or canteens? Dp you need to carry many fussees or just a few? All of these come into play when selecting web gear. Some brands that are popular are also Pack Shack and Thielsen. Check some of these brands out by internet before you buy, with your use in mind, and remember, make sure the gear you buy will fit the new fire shelters, some companies are trying to sell off old gear on the shelf.


Please take a look at the gear available through our Classifieds page. The folks who have ads up there are part of this community and help support this website. Ab.
3/29 [censored] good chat last night..... I think it might be the most I've seen in many
months.... Went to a second page of chatters for a while.

Maybe we should schedule another one after the "ladies" chat.

Great to see all of the readers and posters there... and the newbies...... Thanks Ab for a great chat night.


It was so busy that I couldn't get on -- tried twice. I think that's a first. Ab.
3/29 hey guys,

First big wildfire of the season for the SOUTHWEST (R3) is raging right now at 600+ acres on the TONTO NATIONAL FOREST just outside of Pine, AZ.

dont know if any shot crews are staffed and ready for an assignment for R3, i know Fort Apache Agency sent two TYPE II crews and they are the only crews on that fire.

the fire is called....WEBBER FIRE

3/29 Ab, I opened an MRE from the early 80's the other day. The TP, matches and spoon seemed t
o be OK to use. I also found a "brick" labeled "fruit and cereal bar" don't have any idea how
it is supposed to be consumed (or used). The main course is freeze dried so it most likely will
last forever -- I am saving it for an emergency.

3/29 MREs

I found M&Ms from the 88 Olympics in 1998. I keep one around that was manufactured in
1985 to show the rookies in 130/190 what they'll be eatin in fire camp. ;)

3/29 The Redding IHC Reunion is not this year; our 40th Reunion will take place
in January of 2007. The exact date, time, and location has not yet been set.

The crew's first year was 1967, and in 2004 we will hire our 645th full
crewmember; nobody knows how many fill-ins we've had over the years, as
most of our records burned up in the plane crash/fire at North Zone in
1981. If you'd like to see who was on the crew for a particular year and
the position they held, we have a database of crewmembers & overhead that's
online at
Please let me know if you find any errors or omissions.

It's probably time for us to start collecting names and addresses of folks
who would like to attend in 2007. Please contact Keren Christensen at
(530) 226-2724 if you'd like to attend. We'll be setting up a reunion website in
the future.

My contact information is below if you have any questions.

Robert Holt
Redding IHC
6101 Airport Road
Redding, CA 96002
(530) 226-2722
3/29 Can anyone get onto any of the fs.fed.us sites from a home (non-intranet)
computer? Wonder what's up.

Tahoe Terrie

Seems the problem started sometime after the lunch hour. FS websters on the intranet didn't notice until the public started calling in. It appears to be a DNS failure in the fed.us domain. Evidently there's been fairly lengthy list of catastrophic system failures. They're working on it. Ab.

3/29 Hello,
Humphreys Team is now Whitney's team. Larry has retired.

New link is www.fireteam-sw.com/whitney/


Eric N

Thanks Eric, I'll be revising the team and the links page soon. Please send any changes. Congrats to Larry. Ab.
3/29 Does anyone know how CDF weighs the oral interview compared with experience?
I had an interview at BDU and it had to be no longer than 7 minutes, so I speculating that it is not weighed as heavily as training and experience.
Do any CDF folks know how long I have to wait before I hear back, I'd love to get a time frame.?

sign me
3/29 are EAGLE GEARS daypacks the best out there??. I want to get a new
daypack but there are too many too choose from. I prefer the low ones
that are around your hips.

any help please,

3/29 Thanks Tom and Domaque.

3/29 Doug, a search of Topozone.com shows Cramer Creek in the Butts Creek Point
Quad in Lemhi County.

3/29 In answer to Doug's post, I think the Cramer fire was in Lemhi County and
was in the Long Tom quad map. Find long Tom Lookout and that should get
you close to the Cramer Fire.

3/29 Rogue Rivers,

I'm sorry if you feel that my reply regarding the GS-081 Fire Protection Series was a put down of wildland firefighters, but it is NOT!

I was a federal wildland firefighter for nine seasons before going to Department of Defense. I was answering questions that were being asked regarding the series, the pay scale, and other questions. Nothing more, and nothing less.

You are correct, federal firefighters are federal firefighters, regardless of the series. And I firmly believe that. Wildland firefighters have not gotten the pay for the hours and level of work they do. I answered Backburnfs and Fedfire replies regarding the 081 classification. A big step is happening with the good legislation being guided by the FWFSA and Casey Judd. I can't count the times I was jealous that I was putting in the same hours and work that my CDF counterparts were doing on a fire, yet they stayed in hotels and had benefits and I and my fellow Federal firefighters did not.


As far as support from the IAFF, the only true and real support federal structural firefighters get is when it is politically expedient for the IAFF to support our federal interests. DOD and other agency GS-081 firefighters are constantly at the front of the chopping block when that dirty word called "Contracting Out" comes up at budget time. The Fire Departments on the Fed system are always the first to try to be cut. IAFF does not give federal firefighters the support you think. If you don't believe me, ask Casey Judd. He fought those battles for a lot of years. Contrary to popular belief, the IAFF does not give a lot of support to federal structural firefighters.

IAFF did not support federal firefighter with the broken promises of the Clinton Administration until the sixth year, when the democrats lost seats in Congress, and when they did get involved with our pay issues they watered down what was supposed to be a 25% increase in 1991, and ended up being 9% in 1996.

The IAFF gives the bulk of its support to the local government fire unions because of the money that comes in from union membership dues. Its only when the IAFF feels a strong pinch do they give the same level of support to Federal Firefighters.

FWFSA left IAFF and CPF because of their lack of support for federal issues. At IAFF conferences I've been to I here "Your Federal? It sucks to be you because everything negotiated for you has to be approved by Congress and the President. You basically have no bargaining power compared to the cities and states".

My "lumping" of all the federal agencies that provide structural fire services was just because they all use the GS-081 series for the firefighter and a description of what I have seen and worked under. Not that anyone's better than anyone else.

You bet that wildland firefighters are getting screwed over on the pay issues, particularly the upper level managers who get hit with that salary cap/overtime cap crap. If you get 1000 hours of overtime on a fire, you should be paid for it, not just because in a two-week period someone made more money than the President of the United States (the highest office) and a law says you can't earn more than George W., you are entitled to the pay you earn.

The federal wildland fire service are professional agencies with professional firefighters. The best solution is to take Fire-Pro AWAY from all the agencies, unify them into a single fire service where a district manager, park superentendant, or forest supervisor who hates fire can't cut their budgets or personnel.

There is no reason why the federal fire agencies cannot model thier seasonal program based on CDF where benefits can be obtained and time in service could count toward retirement. They just won't because it will cost them money. How many people did you know who spent 10, 12, or 15 years as a seasonal then be told "Sorry, we're not going to pick you up permanent status because....." and all that time doesn't count for anything other than Social Security.

There are a lot of changes that can be made, but the biggest change to overcome is the "We just do wildland fires" attitude. Not everyone has it, but it holds a lot of good people back. The only way to fix this is to change paradigms, and old farts who won't move forward with progressive ideas. Some forests and districts get more fires than military bases, but those bases usually have very strong prevention programs. The VA may protect one building, but that building is a hospital with hundreds of our nation's veterans.

There are differences between the jobs the wildland firefighters and the structural firefighters, but we all fight wildland fires the same way. My statements were what I could share with my fellow FEDERAL firefighters on the subject of 0081 vs. 0462/0455 pay and descriptions. Not who was better.

I think you did miss something.

If you want to talk to me further about this, please have Ab send me your email.


Firefighters get ready!!!

The Southwest Area, particularly the southern half of NM/AZ, is very dry. Single digit RH, warm temperatures, and recent breezy to windy conditions are taking the already droughty timbered areas right back to where they were during recent drought-year fire busts. We had the first bonafide Red Flag Warning yesterday in Southern NM and there will likely be more soon.

See todays fire weather conditions at ROMAN : www.met.utah.edu

See the current drought conditions for the SW Area and the US at: http://drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.phpl
See the latest SW Area 2004 Fire Season Prognosis at: www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/swapredictiveETC.php

We are gearing up for a busy fire season and the busy ones usually begin with April winds. Early season SW Area fires in very dry, droughty fuels are typically characterized as very fast moving (i.e faster than you can run) and very high intensity (i.e. crown fire in continuous canopy) with long range (i.e. over a mile) spotting. LCES needs to be a constant consideration with this fire behavior potential.


3/29 lordy, lordy, hooked on this website yrs ago!
Just another face on the fire: did ya light up those smokes?
Lobot: you never cease to amaze me, make me THINK & frequently a good snicker! :omy!!!
RH: *L* life of MREs!
anyone wanna guess the shelf life of EGGS? ever wonder why SJ's carry SPAM and tuna? anyone wonder why ground pounders gag if anyone serves ham at home?
<grins> thanks Abs. not only do you provide a comic relief link, you provide pertinent info - again, our sincere TY

safe season to you each and every one of you!

3/28 Anyone up for a "chat" tonight? 8:30 to 9:00 Pacific Time?


I'll try to show up. Ab.
3/28 Does anyone know the name of the quad map
where the Cramer fire was? I will need the county also.
I would like to have a solid terrain model made of the area.

3/28 MREs

In 1987 I found a can of fruit cocktail and a pack of smokes in a c-rat and
I have heard a person found a condom. Must have been from Vietnam, Korea,
or even the second world war. Cheneys Haliburton group is being denied 350
mil because of the lousy MREs being served in Iraq. Didn't Ross Perot
provide MREs for the gov. a priori?


3/28 Do you know where I can find some used equipment? I'm looking for an old
fire shelter (not the new generation shelter) that is still in pretty good shape and
a couple of shirts and pants. It is for a few guys with my volunteer fire department.

Thanks for your help,

Larry Glover

Not now, but sometimes people sometimes post used equipment on the Classifieds page. Readers, Ab will put you in touch with Larry if you like.
3/28 Old Fire Guy-

Found a soft pack of cigarettes three years ago while i was on the Star
fire. Saw the cigarettes and opted not to eat the MRE itself.

Note: MRE was not from fire camp.

Just another face on the fire
3/28 Anony"M"ous

I'm afraid that you may not get an answer to your question on the shelf
life of an MRE......because no one knows.

Modeled after the famous Twinkie, MRE's are thought to be immortal in shelf
life. The fine combination of organics and chemicals have rendered the
contents immune to any form of bacterial growth, desiccation, and most
low-yield nuclear (GW would say "nuculer") devices.

Oh, I'm sure that future generations of Starship captains may eventually
pull one out of their storage units and using Quark dating methodology
predict a final shelf date, but let's leave some of the mysteries for our
future generations.

Q: For you lurkers out there, what is the oldest or strangest item you've
found in a meal?

Old Fire Guy
3/28 Lobotomy has summed up most of my feelings about the Big Bear Thread.

But I will add this:

The media should be flogged for trying to make it a bigger deal than it was!
Promoting hysteria for the sake of ratings is what they did, in my mind that
is negligent at best.

Sign me, BB (for now)
3/28 The Wornick company (www.wornick.com) Following Their Links to

>From their Web Site (http://www.dscp.dla.mil/subs/rations/meals/mres.php)
"The shelf life of the MRE is three (3) years at 80 degrees F. However, the shelf life can be extended through the use of cold storage facilities prior to distribution."

Hope this helps. I have to confess I have eaten MREs that have been in the corner of the station (unrefrigerated) for a few years.

Makes you think.
eric @ PW
3/27 Hey, at risk of sounding naive, does anyone know the shelf life of a MRE? I found 3 packets when we were cleaning out our octagon last weekend. They date from the BigBar Complex, um 1999. I was thinking of having a family dinner and featuring MRE hors d'ouvres for fun? Well, maybe not... geez, I hope this question doesn't embarrass me. Remember when I thought Vanna White was a WO fire person... because it made sense in the context of the post and I'd never heard of her before. Well, maybe this question is like that. Maybe I should ask Original Ab in person (he never laughs at me, well not to my face anyway...). And I would like a ride on his backhoe. Maybe he could teach me a little about digging out stumps while avoiding taking out the shed. But clearly not this afternoon. Enuf rambling from me. (They never should have given me that brew, party or no. Quick, they're coming to take away the keys to my keyboard!)

Ab, please sign me anyone but <snip>. (I think I need to be anonymous, maybe?)
3/27 Concerned:

Glad you enjoyed some of the quotes from the not so famous 20th century
philosopher "Eraticles". I experimented with having some of them
printed on the bottom of coffee cups but.......

Old Fire Guy
3/27 MOC4546, please don't steer my wildland brothers wrong with your post on 3/25. The difference in the pay has very little to do with the work schedule... It has to do with the law that IAFF so successfully passed on the shoulders of wildland firefighters.... but wildland firefighters gained no benefits...... twice.

0081 Firefighters have a basic right of a higher calculated benefit to "assume" hazardous duty into their basic pay. It also counts towards their retirement. They also have similar benefits to cover other differentials.

MOC4546, don't lump all of the folks from DoT, Veterans Affairs, DoE, and DoI into the same boat as DoD firefighters. They each had to jump through hurdles to be given the same benefits just as the wildland firefighters are doing now. They didn't achieve that goal as "full service" firefighters as you claim.

An example is Veterans Affairs, they have firefighters in a single building..... yes a single building. They provide "Fire Protection" for a single type hazard and don't provide mutual aid. They do not provide for "full service" fire like you say. Also, the DoI firefighters have PRIMARY wildland firefighter duties with occasional structural duties, but specialized training or structure protection responsibility.

MOC4546, I may have missed something in your post, but from the overwhelming majority of folks this is what I've heard.....

FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS ARE FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS.... Red, Green, Black, Yellow, Orange, White or Blue.

I worked at a Military Base..... the first day of work, the Senior Airmen, Staff Sergeants, and civilian DoD folks were talking about the "good ole days".... three years prior.... thats when they had their last "MAJOR" fire on the base...... It was a VEHICLE fire.

My busiest year with the Forest Service was 1996-1997 and we had over 40 vehicle fires that year, over 50 traffic collisions, numerous medical aids. two airplane crashes, and yes over 40 significant wildland fires.... even two structure fires thrown in for fun..... oops .... wildland firefighters are non-risk.... not all risk.

I agree our Forest is a little abnormal, but the wildland urban interface is spreading nationwide. I think that any urban interface firefighter, where there is a true interface problem, would agree.


GS-0081-09/01 Station Chief - 144 hr. workweek (DoD Firefighter)
Annual Salary: $42,747 per annum $1644.12 per pay period
*Firefighter Calculated Salary: $58,069.44 per annum $2233.44 per pay period

GS-0081-09/01 Station Chief – 80 hr. workweek w/ 32 hrs. compensated standby time. (DoD Firefighter)
Annual Salary: $42, 747 per annum $1644.12 per pay period
*Firefighter Calculated Salary: $55,502.72 per annum $2134.72 per pay period

GS-0462-09/01 Battalion Chief – 80 hr. workweek w/ 32 hrs. non-compensated on-call standby time. (Wildland)
Annual Salary: $42,747 per annum $1644.12 per pay period
Wildland Firefighter Salary: NO CHANGE NO CHANGE

Rogue Rivers

The disparity is even larger between pay for Series 0462 (or 0455) and pay for state/county wildland firefighters. No wonder we have a retention problem. Ab.

There are many new photos on various photo pages, specifically Handcrews 11, Handcrews 12, and Handcrews13, Fire 21 and Fire 22, Helicopters 13, Engines 10, Logos 9, AirTankers10 and GrandPrix/Olds Fire. Thanks to all contributors.

I finally got caught up. If anyone finds broken links to larger photos or to the photo description pages or incorrect descriptions, please let me know. If contributors would rather have their real or full name listed in the descriptions page, please let me know. As for any mistakes, I've been a few days working on this and sometimes not with the clearest head. Thanks to Original Ab for updating the dropdown menu when he gets to it.

(Original Ab wouldn't let me post the photo of him in his bib overalls learning to drive his backhoe or the one of him lounging with a beer under a big umbrella while his <little> Rx pile burned. What a life! Just so's you all know, he is very active on wildlandfire.com behind the scenes now that he's retired, and WE REALLY APPRECIATE that!)

What follows are some of the emails that accompanied the photos. Ab.

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hi, this another picture from bravo 10 hope you like it, thanks & congratulations for this website

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Hey Ab. These are some photos from a prescribed fire we did here in North Carolina. The burn went well, it cleared a lot of the over growth and produced some good fire. Amazingly we had some group torching and a nice run during the burn, just might have impressed the westerners. The weather was: RH 48%, temps were in the upper 60's, and winds were 4 mph.

March 20, 2004 3 photos

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~~This is a picture of my friend Amy and I initial attacking the Tobias Fire last summer just outside of Salmon, Idaho. The fire blew to 10,000 acres and we were stuck in our safety zone for four hours! LOL Lot of good we did huh!?!
~~Jill and Jesse finishing up with the Badger Fire 2003 and having a "piss pump" war!!
~~Here is me sitting in a K-MAX out at Indianola July 2003!

Jill A

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Ab, Here are some photos. If you like any of them that's good. Feel free to use them. If they go into the trash it's not going to hurt my heart. It's all good. You've really done a good job putting this page together. Hope this year is good to all of us.

Thanks for your time, Chris D R8 timber marker

Nice photos. Ab.

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

Attached is the logo of the Brandywine Creek Forest Fire Crew out of Pennsylvania District 17 . Please Post this on your site for us . I am the President of the Crew , if you have any Questions Feel Free to E-mail me. Here's a link to Our Webpage.

Thank you Very Much!
Dan Seese

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Hi Guys, Fantastic website with excellent references and information.

Please accept these photos for upload to your website from Wellington
Volunteer Rural Fire Force. Wellington New Zealand.

Paul Setefano

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Just recently finally invested in a scanner and thought I would drop off a few new, old pitures from the 1999 and 2000 fire seasons. If any catch your eye I would love to see them on the site. Thanks, MadRedZeke

Burgdorf Junction Fire On The Line
Flexing Outside The Helliwell
Mc Call Smokejumpers Jump Tower
Trapped Inside The Heliwell
Burgdorf Junction Fire and Brian Gets ready for swimming
A Thirsty Brian FinleyTakes A Drink

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From Lakerschamps:
The following photos are of the Ventura County Fire Crew.

Ventura Crew- just got done with a training cut adams canyon
Ventura- control burn haley ranch
Ventura Crew 2
Simi Fire- simi fire oct 03
Burnout- control burn haley ranch
Ventrua Terratorch- fire control worker now firefighter clint hull using the terratorch
Training Cut- training cut @ broom ranch 6 & 7 are on heli page
Drip- fire control worker fuller burning out
Ventura Torch- control burn haley ranch
Ventura Crew 3- control burn haley ranch
Quick Pic- pausing for a quick pic in mentryville simi fire oct 03 
Crewmember at Work- fire control worker fuller
Haley Ranch- control burn haley ranch 
Laying on Fire- fire control worker golden burning out
Ventura on Simi Blowup- mentryville blowin up just watchin the show simi fire oct 03
Crew 21 and Crew 22

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My name is Brian A of Price Valley Heli-rappellers. I would like to submit a photo to go in your Logo's/Patches page. While I'm at it I thought I'd send you a photo of myself (left) and Jason R (right) doing training rappels last June. Maybe you could find a spot on your photo page for it. That would be sweet!
Thanks again!
Brian A

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I attached some pics of assignments while on SoCal Team-One. One is a view of the Buffalo Fire on the East Montana Complex, Custer NF (Nice scenery). Second pic is 3 DIVS at West Yellowstone jump base (Rathbone Fire Gallatin NF). Here is a shot of the Old fire running through Devore and turning north up the I-15. Here is the Old fire hitting Devore from another direction. (second day of it hitting this community).


3/27 Following some back and forth about logos and photos and how to send them...

Okay, here you go. As a little background, I noticed some of your Alberta
badges were out of date. As an organization we've gone through lots of
reorgs. As of 2004:

The Forest Protection badge will be worn by our Type 2 and Type 3

Same badge with Helitack added on, this will be worn by our Type 1
I suspect our Rappel crews (Type 1 - R) will still wear their own unique
badge, as far as I know it hasn't changed much if at all from the one you
are already showing.

The SRD badge is worn by permanent staff and some seasonal staff.

The Electra picture is from 1998. It was actually a BC aircraft that came
over to help on a north-western Alberta wildfire when one of our own
airtankers went unserviceable. What a day, one of my first wildfires and I
was in a perfect position to watch both some aggressive fire behaviour and a
good airshow. I was using a disposable camera so most of the pictures from
that day were less than perfect. This was by far the best one!

Wasn't sure if you had a picture yet of a Eurocopter EC 120. This picture
was taken in 2000 up in northern Alberta. Note the helitorch to the left of
the helicopter. At the time this 120 was owned by Phoenix Heliflight but
later the aircraft was sold to the city of Edmonton and is now serving as
Air One for the Edmonton city police.

Anyhow, I very much enjoy your web site and all the pictures from around
North America and the world. If I ever get any other pictures you might be
interested in I'll be sure to send them your way!

Grant Forster
Forest Officer
Forest Protection Division
Woodlands Wildfire Management Area

3/27 The solution following an attempt to send/receive some photos in viewable format, etc. Ab.

Ab, how about you please just provide a link to www.azfs.net.

Chief Fire Officer Adam Moore
AZFS Crash Rescue
3/26 -Big Bear RX fire thread:

Last Update: All of the fire except 5-10 acres was within the project boundary. The escape was called because the fire had exceeded the "prescription". 1 ski patrol hut was burned on the edge of the snowline. (News Articles)
Interface forests are unfortunately in a world of their own. Brush filled and bug killed forests are even at higher risk. It's a game of risk versus odds and risk versus gain.

So far the ratio has been about 99% successful burns versus 1% escapes. Also, out of those 1% of escapes, only a small percentage (I can't remember the number) resulted in significant damage. I remember this from something that came out of NIFC.... Anyone remember the link?

Beware: Large groups of residents demanding protection at all costs and small but very vocal groups with ties to the media looking for the feeding frenzy and "Breaking News". Somewhere in the middle are the groups of folks working their butts off to protect their homes and support a healthy and safe forest around them.

FSquirrel, the "getting schooled by the media" as you mentioned is known to many of us who witnessed it as the "Big Bear Bashing of 2004". I'll be using the term BBB for the remainder of my post.

The BBB event was meant as a meeting to inform and educate the residents of the Big Bear Valley, Moonridge, Sugarloaf, Seven Oaks, Barton Flats, and Angelus Oaks. It was the intent of the meeting to explain what was happening and why, and dispel fears to the many concerned residents who were there.

The meeting was meant to inform the residents that there was no threat to their communities. SMOKE IN THE AIR DOESN'T MEAN YOUR HOUSE IS GOING TO BURN. The intent was to explain that a mile of snow doesn't burn. I assume the burn was scheduled with this as a design factor. When the fire hit the snowline over a mile from the nearest houses, it dropped to the ground and was controlled. Unfortunately, a media feeding frenzy and a group of outspoken individuals kept the majority of the concerned residents from hearing the truth and expressing their concerns and support about the prescribed burn.

*** Burn around your at risk communities when there is snow on the ground. Take the chance. Reap the rewards in the future.**** Looks like they planned pretty damn good burn to me. I'm sure the communities who are so upset with the burn right now will be applauding it in the future.

In regards to the fuels, I hear that they had last burned in the 1940's. That would scare the heck out of me if I lived a mile or two over the ridge. I also heard the winds were just as planned in direction, but they peaked a little higher in velocity during the escape. RH was not high, it actually dropped to 8% prior to the escape and stayed low until nearly midnight.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there will be lessons learned as there always are. Lessons learned will only make prescribed burning safer in the future for all of us..... both the community and the land manager.

I'm sure the concerned residents will be thanking the Forest Service sometime in the future. They held a very successful burn that helps to keep fire out of the Big Bear Valley, Moonridge, and Sugarloaf areas for many years to come.

Willing to take the "Big Bear Bashing of 2004" rather than the "Big Bear Firestorm" that could happen in the future without prescribed fire.

aka Lobotomy
3/26 South Canyon Fire Review

Hard to believe it's been nearly 10 years!


3/26 Alvin FOR:EX
Got your e-mail, but return keeps coming back.

3/26 Firepup91,

The reason the NIFC website WAS down was because of a court order directing
the Department of the Interior to disconnect from the Internet.

This affected all DOI, BLM, NPS, BIA, etc. use of the Internet. The NIFC
website is hosted on BLM computers. That site is back up and running now.


Thanks for the update. Ab.
3/26 My brother the ex-cop sent me some of these from the famous stand-up philosopher, Will Rodgers.
Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.
Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
There are three kinds of men: the ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
If you're riding' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.

For the old fire eating folks:
1) Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying abut your age and start bragging about it.
2) Some people try to turn back the odometers. Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.
3) I don't know how I got over the hill without being on the top.
4) You know when your getting old when every thing either dries up or leaks.
5) If you don't learn to laugh at trouble, you won't have anything to laugh at when you are.
6) The older you get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

There is more but these seem to fit into firefighting real well. Stay safe.

I hope some one that posts here sends in a photo of the burn in Big Bear. That's something, snow on the ground and get a timer fire. Watch out Southern Cal.

Retired L.A.V.E.
3/26 AB...........any truth to the scuttlebutt that the Redding Hotshot Crew
(originally in the 1960s, thats right, the 1960s, the Northern California
Hotshot Crew) is looking at having a reunion this year? Please keep us
posted, it would be an impressive alumni to see all in the same place!!

signed NZ Helitack Supt.
3/26 -Big Bear RX fire thread:

Is the fuel load that big that the fire is going to run like that? The RH was fairly high and it looks like the crews needed skis to get to the front line?? I guess I'm a big rook, but was it the fuel and wind speed?

Man, I felt bad for the USFS interviewees getting schooled by the media. Although, there was some discussion about Rx burns just a small while ago, interesting that this happens now.

3/26 On the heels of the Cramer Incident, Region IV of the USFS has reassigned a person into the Regional Ground Safety Officer position rather than allowing the merit system to be utilized and an applicant pool to be evaluated. Those of us that have been in the federal service for a while, know that the majority of times a reassignment such as this occurs, it is not because the person was doing a bang up job in their prior position. There were several exceptional firefighters interested in this position. How could such a critical position be filled with anything but the absolute best candidate available? What message does this send about how the upper levels of management feel about firefighters in the USFS?

Along with this news, I noticed the note on an R-6 forest downgrading Engine Captains. I hope that is wrong but I fear it isn't. When will the recognition come about that the federal wildland firefighters, as well as those with other agencies, are some of the finest fire professionals in the world.

I feel for the individual that was reassigned in R-4 from a ranger's position to the safety officer position. That is a daunting position for a person that is imminently qualified for it. It is a position that would be extremely burdensome if one wasn't qualified, interested, and passionate about firefighting in the wildland.

Fire Ghost
3/26 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated.

Take a look at the Classifieds page and check out the 60th Anniversary of Smokey Bear that's happening May 7-9 in Capitan NM. Looks like one big shindig. Ab.

3/25 Did you all see the column of the Big Bear RX burn? I just saw it on the
news and it is a quite impressive smoke for late march considering elevation
and temp and snow. Hold onto your hard hats it is going to be a bumpy ride
this year.


This evening's report says it's 200 acres and 20% contained, running, spotting and torching in chaparral and timber, moderate spread; tomorrow's forecast is for 15-25 mph winds out of the SW/NW, temps 50s/60s, rh 20-35. Resources include 10 type 1 crews (9 of them CDF), 1 type 2 crew, 3 helicopters, 13 engines, 4 dozers, 2 tenders, 3 ATs... Ab.

3/25 From the CHP (http://cad.chp.ca.gov/) site:

Incident: 0830
Type: Report of Fire
Location: 38 AT SEVEN OAKS
Info as of: 3/25/2004 5:14:12 PM

Additional details
3:57PM - ERC will Bear City Fire
3:52PM - Precautionary evacs in Sugarloaf Area S/o Barton Ln **
3:26PM - Per 101-45 - Fire 1/2mi from base of Bear Mtn
3:09PM - D1 toward Big Bear City Fire as well as S2
3:07PM - Also evacuating snow summit area per USFS
2:54PM - Per 101-S2 Getting Rpts that fire got out of their control


3/25 From Firescribe:

This just out from AP
Forest fire threatens ski area in San Bernardino Mountains

"Two helicopters, two air tankers, six hand crews, ten engines and two water tenders are battling the fire."

Ab, please add...

NBC 4 (Socal) News with Big Bear fire images
Fire Raging In Big Bear Mountains

Info about the Rx burn
Santa Ana prescribed burn project begins March 24

The Fire News page still has the current event category San Bernardino and Fire. It just won't go away. Ab.

3/25 Anyone got news on the Fire up near the Big Bear area? Escaped Rx? Snow on the ground?

Horseshoe Fire



We've gotten some inquiries lately about updating a historical hotshot page we did and last revised in Feb, 2001. Most recently we've heard from Julia who has been working on the Rogue River Hotshot Crew page. Nice one. Here's what I told her about the wlf.com historical hotshot page.

Julia, I just updated our wildlandfire.com hotshot page to let people know it's a historical record and to point those interested toward the current hotshot websites.

That list was created in 2001 in response to a discussion on theysaid. At the time I don't think even Steve Karkanian's list existed. (Kelly Andersson had built most of the individual FS IHC pages.) When the theysaid discussion passed, I didn't give wlf.com ihc list another thought. Since you're the 3rd or 4th person who has asked about updating the list recently, I suppose it is still turning up on a google search... so I put some explanation at the top of the table and updated the historical links with the Way Back Machine. Thanks for the heads up.

Hope this explains why the list was out of date. Amazing how far we've come with websites on the internet and how many more good IHCs we have today due to the MEL buildup.

Anyone know which was the oldest IHC website? IMWTK. If you haven't checked it out, CA has a new IHC page too with more individual pages daily. CA IHCs Ab.



In memory of
Crew of Tanker 99: Carl Dolbeare & John Attardo
Crew of Tanker 130: Steve Wass, Craig LaBare & Mike Davis
and James Reynolds

Tanker 48 will carry out THE LAST FIRE CALL
Friday, April 2, 2004
at 9:30A.M.
Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center
2311 Firebrand Court, Minden, Nevada
Minden Tanker Base
Minden-Tahoe Airport

The Minden Air Corp's Family invites
the friends, firefighters, airport users and the community to attend.
Refreshments will be served.

3/25 Hey Ab just a quick note.

A R-6 Forest (SOUTHWEST OREGON) has just downgraded the GS-7 Engine Captains to GS-6's.

What the HELL is goin on, other regions such as R2 & R3 are upgrading?
Wondering what is up with FS and their thinking, or lack of it.
As it is, they have ENOP as GS-5s supervising GS-5s Senior Firefighters.
Oh well, I better look at my PD

signed little birdie
3/25 Hi,
I have contacted the USFS Eagle River district {715-479-2827}.
The 0462 hotshot position was a mistake, unless they changed their mind,
the Florence Wisconsin posting is not valid.

3/25 Backburnfs,

The GS-0081 Fire Protection Series is geared up for the 56, 60 or 72-hour work week used by federal fire departments. Besides DoD, structural federal firefighters can be found with the Department of Transportation (Coast Guard), the Department of Veteran's Affairs, the Department of Energy, even the Department of Interior (Yosemite, Grand Canyon, The Presidio). The job description is that of a full-service fire department that you would find in any local government city or county fire department.

With a few specific position exceptions, these firefighters work 24-hour shifts and have true overtime calculated in each weekly shift over 53 hours. Thus 19 hours each week are scheduled overtime. Working overtime beyond the 72-hour week is overtime for 24 hours from the hourly firefighter wage. With most DoD bases in California when a DoD fire crew goes on a strike team, single resource, or other wildland fire assignment there is no 25% Hazard Pay given to those crews like federal wildland firefighters. Part of it is the way 24-hour firefighters are paid, and wildland fire is part of the job description. Anything over the scheduled 72-hour weekly shift is overtime, kind of the way CDF pays their firefighters.

The calculation for retirement is different also. For now, overtime beyond the scheduled 72-hour week is not part of the overall retirement, but instead when retirement comes they are paid from what is called the "High 3's", or the three highest pay rates made during a career. Negotiations are in the works through the federal employee unions and IAFF to calculate overtime as part of it, but you know the story regarding the snowball and hell.

Portal-to-Portal pay is made to most DoD bases that allow their crews to go out on wildland fire assignments. I say allow because not all bases have the staffing or the equipment to allow such a response, and some base commanders do not want the fire department to leave the gates except for in the local area or by mutual or automatic aid agreements. Smaller bases such as Sierra Army Depot, Two Rock Coast Guard Station, the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Inyo Co., or The Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey. These bases run smaller crews than bases such as Vandenburg AFB, Edwards AFB, Miramar, or Camp Pendleton MCB that have many stations and crews they can call back.

The military is paying for a full-time fire department to protect the lives, property, and war materials from the destruction of fire. Unless the Base Commander authorizes it because of manpower or mission requirements those engines stay to protect the base, not the outside world. If a fire happens and the fire department does not do their job the base commander, fire chief, and civilian executive officer have their heads on the chopping block.

Sometime reimbursement for DoD units can be a problem if the re-imbursement from the fire gets drawn into the General Fund and not back into the fire department budget. Because of that problem some fire chiefs can't send units to fires.

There is a big difference between the two for benefits and pay. Because of the 72-hour schedule and the skills needed and job description 0081 Firefighters make between 25% and 45% more than their counterparts in the 0462 and 0455 wildland series.

I hope this clarifies things.

3/25 To those that are asking about the DOD firefighter. I am DOD at the GS-6-9. My pay works this way

Base pay at the GS-6 step 9 for 56 hr.
OT from the 56 hr. to the 72

72 hr. work week 24 on and 24 off.

portal to portal pay........Yes

If you look at a regular GS-6 step 9 pay you are making about 38,000

now look at a GS-6 step 9 0081 pay and I make 59,000 and
that includes Haz.pay and holidays.

I hope this helps.

Just to give you some background. I worked for the Forest Service for 7 yr. and then I came over to DOD to get a full time job and then I was going to go back to USFS but the cut in pay was too great to take for my family. Good luck to the wildland fire fighters, hope to see you at the helibase.

3/25 Vicki, I am deeply saddened by yet another death in our profession. I provide my condolences and am deeply saddened. I hate it everytime one of these messages come up on the "board". I think we can each play a part in preventing accidents and preventing future losses. Please provide us with anyway we can help.

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

Backburnfs, hope this answers your questions and gets you off the fencepost.

Regarding your questions: From your original post.

1) Your questions...."DOD has the 0081 series, what benefit does that give those
firefighters over DOI and USDA?"

A myriad of laws that provide special benefits only to those federal firefighters covered by 0081. An example is... hmm that pesky little lunch break required on incidents..... It's covered and not negotiable by the 0081 firefighters... it's up to interpretation for the Forestry Tech's. I'd be happy to continue this answer if you'd like additional (Note: I provided the smallest benefit of being 0081 if anyone wants to nibble, there's some pretty big things that are also covered, but they are all available to anyone who can use the internet)

2) "Do they get their hazard pay and OT included in their retirement calculations?"

Yes. They have a special calculation that counts these things as basic pay. I'd be happy to explain. Their OT outside of basic work hours is not included. It's a confusing subject but I can explain.

3) "Do they get Portal-Portal pay when away from their home unit?"


4) "If there is no benefit to changing from a 462 to 0081 what is the sniveling
all about? "If there is sign me up!"....... www.fwfsa.org

There is a great benefit for wildland firefighters having their own series or being included into a series that most represents them. I'd also be happy to explain. I'd be happy to sign you up.

5) Your statement: "If you are scared about keeping your job or moving up in the federal fire organization, find out more about how to qualify for the 401 series. I don't think it will go away very soon and the qualifications are not all based on having a college degree. Many of our "S" and "I" courses will help as will your experience."

Only a very few S and I courses qualify for the 18 upper division credits for the 0401 series. Most of them are offered at Marana. The only sure fire way to qualify is TFM.... but don't hold your breath..... 40 or so positions per year.... Definitely not a fix..... The R-5 classes being offered?... also not a fix at the $1500 plus (and I mean plus) a course.... for a couple of credits....

A recently separated.. (went to a better paying agency with better benefits) former Type 1 IC with over 30 years experience only had a hand full of classes that met the 0401 standard. He figured he'd have to go to school the rest of his career to meet the needs of the 0401 series. Kinda a waste of time .... especially when there are other agencies willing to gain your experience and give your the same retirement in 5 years as you would get in 25 years with a federal agency. (And pay you twice as much)

It all links back to recruitment, retention, and a pleasurable work and HOME environment (Career). Go Figure.


P.S. - What happened to Chat nights?

3/24 Chica,

CDF DOES have a agreement with the State of Oregon, the State of Nevada, and the State of Arizona that the CDF aircraft are available for IA. The only requirement is that they be able to fly to a CDF base that night. So in fact the S-2T's and the S2-A's have gone out of state for several years now. CDF just does not want them committed for the incident. And they go to any fire, state or federal. What ever NICC wants. Same goes for engines and hand crews with some exceptions and rules for CDC hand crews.

3/24 Ab, Prayers and condolences to our family members in Mississippi.

Check this link for more information on current firefighter safety issues.

That is where I got the details on the latest accident.

Last night a 40 year old volunteer firefighter died last night while responding to a woods
fire in Jackson County, Miss. The Coroner identified the victim as Terri Eiland. She was
driving apparatus and apparently lost control of the vehicle on Bayou Cumbest Road.
(please read the article for the rest of the info)

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

Some thoughts on the Firefighter position descriptions, professional series
and all that. I guess I need some education from someone who knows the
answers. DOD has the 0081 series, what benefit does that give those
firefighters over DOI and USDA? Do they get their hazard pay and OT
included in their retirement calculations? Federal Law Enforcement
Officers do! Do they get Portal-Portal pay when away from their home unit?
If there is no benefit to changing from a 462 to 0081 what is the sniveling
all about? If there is sign me up!

The "Professional Series" GS-401 deal is a snow job from the Washington
Office, partly because we are always saying how professional we are as a
fire organization. Part of the problem is that OPM doesn't know the
difference between "professional Foresters" and the "professional standards"
of our business. I looked up the word in Webster's (see below). Maybe OPM
should do the same thing. Basically it says what I have said for years, "I
get paid to do this so I must be a PROFESSIONAL." I think the National
Park Service did this a several years ago under the guise of their "Fire
Pro" system, someone told me last week that the two NPS IHC Superintendents
are the only GS-462's in the NPS system.

If you are scared about keeping your job or moving up in the federal fire
organization, find out more about how to qualify for the 401 series. I
don't think it will go away very soon and the qualifications are not all
based on having a college degree. Many of our "S" and "I" courses will
help as will your experience.

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

Main Entry: 1pro·fes·sion·al
Pronunciation: pr&-'fesh-n&l, -'fe-sh&-n&l
Function: adjective
1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
2 a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer> b : having a particular profession as a permanent career <a professional soldier> c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return <professional football>
3 : following a line of conduct as though it were a profession <a professional patriot>
- pro·fes·sion·al·ly adverb (Websters)

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


3/24 Dear Ab,

I just got news from Bob Wilken of a fatality.
Terri Eilnad was killed in a rollover accident in their brush truck while responding
to a woods fire in Mississippi. She was from Forks Lake VDF. she is survived by
her husband Preston and son Bobby. She had just completed her Basic Wildland
FF training in February.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Condolences... but condolences never seem like enough. Ab.
3/24 AB,

I have watched the thread re; tax or fee or assessment for rural home owners in CA to support CDF for the past few days. Sounds good, I think those who live in the interface should pay a fee for the cost of services. The same thing happened in Washington St a few years ago with the "Forest Patrol Assessment" or FPA, it was to support WA DNR and the fire suppression efforts. We in the DNR thought GREAT! a solution to our chronic underfunding. Well the legislators in their great wisdom, took the same amount of general funds $'s away as the FPA raised. So much for that great idea.

I would like to suggest that a proviso be added that any homeowner who created defensible space be granted some sort of a discount. Money talks and brush burns.

Old DNR Guy
3/24 MOC4546

DoD bases such as Ft. Ord (closed), the four in San Bernardino county...name them??, Pickle Meadows MWTC in Inyo Co., Sierra Army Depot in Lassen County all have missions involving military testing, training, storage, or demolition, and all have specific hazards beyond just wildland fires.?

Please address those issues and how they are included in the re-write of the 0081 standard. Maybe ask some of the affected firefighters how they felt about the re-write and how the re-write affected their classification. The re-write left out airfield duties, wildland fire, shipboard firefighting, and specialized operation and maintenance of equipment or "specialized knowledge required" .... ie- hint hint wink wink... WILDLAND, AIRFIELD, and SHIPBOARD.

The IAFF 16th District website has some info about how well they like the new standard...


Rogue Rivers
3/24 Lobotomy - yep, sadly many experienced Fed DOI/USDAg WFFs are worried they've chosen a career path with no upward mobility options unless they have a "degree".

|chica| - sorta kinda; it appears you are mixing bananas & apples with no specific timeframe for immediate need. lending any state resource is rarely reimbursed @ cost without a mutual aid agreement (MOU/contract in place), or unless an "incident" becomes a federally recognized disaster.

Radar: hope you've read & digested that "trailer bill" introduced & voted for by the CA legislature, after the 03/04 fiscal year budget was a a done deal! if not, check links for archives on this site; it was cussed & discussed last fall. VFDs and others were/are concerned by the vague "language contained therein". peruse it at your leisure - me thinks that slick piece of legislation was 180 m/l pages of verbage - most of it vague. it did specifically mention (?RA's? regional areas > ?) aka lands not within the jurisdiction of Fed or local government fire depts.. acronyms make my head hurt!

3/24 From Old Fire Guy's previous posts.... regarding the current thread...... www.wildlandfire.com/docs/quotes.php

There is a significant difference between a leader and a cheerleader.

Breaking tradition is like breaking out of an eggshell; it's the first step to growth.
"Not until it's perfect" means never.

Leaders serve the people; bureaucrats serve the process.

Unpredictable maneuvers saved many a ship from torpedoes.

If Columbus had known for sure where he was going, we'd all be wearing saris and turbans.

Thanks OldFireGuy... your post hit the point.

3/23 MOC4546, (Re: Wildland Firefighter Classification)

Your statement, "How many wildland firefighters do you know who have FAA approved CFR skills, ambulance skills, dispatching for a full service 911 system, structural skills requiring Firefighter I certs, and training for specialized equipment?"

My answer: A whole lot more than you think.

I appreciate your discussion and would like to provide a little more info:

Stats for the FICC - San Bernardino. Similar stats are available nationwide for any dispatch center who has their WildCad available online.

Calendar 2004 (Prepared 03/20/2004 16:02)

Incident Type # of Incidents
Aircraft Down 7
Emergency Standby 3
Hazmat 12
Law Enforcement 3082
Medical Aid 252
Miscellaneous 84
Prescribed Fire 2
Public Assist 163
Resource Order 14
Search and Rescue 35
Smoke Check 5
Structure Fire 2
Traffic Collision 132
Vegetation Fire 14
Vehicle Fire 6
Total Incidents 3813

MOC4546, I appreciate your support for a wildland firefighter series and the idea that they may not fit into the current 0081 Fire Protection Series, but the job is not as different as you have presented. I like to hear the different opinions and views from the outside. They keep us "wildlanders" on track and focusing on the issue.

Wildland firefighters led the way for the re-write of the 0081 series only to be shunned by internal agency forces when their issues came forward. Please note that USFS didn't even attend this meeting. (Link Document Attached).

I speak for only myself, but from what I've been hearing, wildland firefighters want a series that represents the job that they do. It may be a totally new series or a properly re-written 0081 series (many 0081 firefighters also felt the re-write totally missed the point). Time will tell, but the wildland firefighters will win the battle for proper classification.


3/23 Jason,

I worked in region 5 for 6 years on two different forest. I can tell you be patient. It takes time to go over all the applications. If you got a letter telling you what GS pay grade you qualified for than you are on a roll. Typically they start hiring in late March to mid April with pack test dates in early May. Have faith. It would not be a bad idea to call some of the captain or even visit the stations you hope to work at. That way the Captains can put a face with a name. Good Luck. I hope it works out for you.

3/23 More information circulating behind the scenes:

Guide to a Successful Rx Burn, prepared by Bill Ott, 2/2002

Thanks Contributors for the good and timely info that can help educate all of us. Ab.

3/23 Has R5 started their hiring yet?

I hope not because I haven't heard anything. I'm afraid this might be another year
where they miss out on a good quality worker!! lol. Ok I'm really afraid its gonna
be another year where I'm stuck watching the fires on TV and wishing I could be
there helping. Anyone know?

3/23 Here's a useful bit of information for REPORTERS and for those allowing MEDIA ACCESS to fires.

Interagency Media Guidelines for Wildland Fires, March 19, 2004

from DF

3/23 Looks like some great information!

Thanks NMAirBear, Frosty, & Sfirelake. This is a lot more than what I had
to go on before. Happy FMO's make your life soooooooo much easier.

Paul A.K.A. "Huey"

3/23 Radar made a good point on dedicated fire funding.

I'm not with CDF (so if you are and you can correct my info, please do) but here's another related item .... last year when the FS grounded a bunch of heavy airtankers, one of the questions that came up was whether California would loan out its S2s on fed fires in adjacent states or nearby regions. No. Why? Well, one reason was the funding. If the feds reimburse California for the use of the airtanker, the cost of the plane's operation is borne by CDF but the reimbursement goes to the state general fund and NOT to CDF. I don't blame them.

3/23 Reply to Nerd on the Fireline,

How much do I think a grunt FF should have?

Enough to ensure their safe return from the field.
If fire behavior prediction is left to the supervisor
and everyone else has their head down and buts up
that is not enough, in my opinion.

How does a grunt FF get to know fire if the supervisor
does all the thinking? When the grunt promotes to a
supervisor position do they learn to predict fire behavior
changes and tactical adjustments while supervising
firefighters? During the learning curve there is danger.

A very small investment in specialized observational
knowledge is warranted and has proven to be a
lifesaving increment and all I can say is that I want
that level of safety for my crews.

In CPS training exercises students get to size up events that
happened on fatality fires and devise a way to predict
the future behavior and select a trigger point or time tag
to change position. Using the alignment of forces language
they attain the attention of firefighters and supervisors
and are able to affect beneficial change.

Safety is everyones
responsibility and this small investment is a good way to
implement that edict.

There are two CPS classes that are planned for the Vandenburg
Training Center next year just in case some readers are interested.

I really think you and I are interested in the same result
for firefighters.

Thank you for your response and insight to your thinking.
3/23 un bonjour de la france
bravo pour les photos

Olivier Balland

De rien. Dites votres amis! Abercrombie.

3/23 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated.

I also posted a link on the Classifieds page under announcements, for federal employees who want to donate leave time to Vista Grande Hotshot Juan Estrada who is undergoing chemotherapy. The link is to the fs intranet site where you can access the donor leave form.

Check out the rest of the Classifieds page while you're there. The sites posted there have been recommended by wildland firefighters and the businesses listed there on our "fire business classifieds links page" help support this website.


3/23 Wow…so many good threads going I don’t where to start.

Doug; I appreciate your point, and my next question is a corollary on that: how much predictive training do you think a grunt FF2 should have? My thought (if I may beat a dead horse) is that a watchout or a violation of the 10 should be a cause for re-assessment of your position…on the grunt level, do you think that should involve working some predictions? I’m thoroughly behind you on the values of proactive versus reactive firefighting (particularly as applied to pre-attack briefing and good pre-planning), but I’m not sure how to get that across below the crewboss level.

MOC4546; You worked at Hungry Lizard? I spent some time there in an unrelated field, and from my experience, I’m surprised that you didn’t include ordinance/UXB training in your rundown of necessary skills. I’ve actually seen several instances (not at Hunter-Liggett) where wildland fires were rendered basically un-fightable by the presence of unexploded or dubious ordinance.

Retired L.A.V.E.; Greetings, my friend, and it’s nice to see you again! It seems to me that you’re essentially proposing a state-run, mandatory anti-wildland fire insurance. Why not run it the same way the Fire Protection Fund is done in New Mexico, with insurance agencies paying a portion of premiums into a state fund, which is then divided back out according to the ISO rating of the local fire department (but substitute some numeric threat ranking for the ISO calculation)? It works fairly well here.

General Question to the Forum: I’m looking for classes/apprenticeship opportunities to learn the logistics side of the business (or sport, as the case may be), and in my area it seems that logistics unit leaders seem to wind up being whoever looks most resourceful, with little or no pre-requisites. I’ve never even heard of a standardized course of study to do it. Ideas?

Nerd on the Fireline
3/23 Fedfire,

Thanks for bringing up this thread again.... I must have missed it earlier.

The GS-0081 series is NOT a structural fire protection series as the WO guy told us in Reno. The title of GS-0081 is "Fire Protection". Wildland fire fits this series, especially in the Western U.S.

We have given the land agencies an opportunity to create a new series that specifically addresses Wildland Fire and their concerns... but they seem to balk at it.... Mr. Terry was just speaking the agency line and shouldn't be criticized. He was uninformed.

For years, DoD agencies have asked that wildland firefighting duties be included in the 0081 series. They have also asked that shipboard firefighting, airfield firefighting, EMS, and HAZMAT duties be considered for grade controlling factors. Land Management Agencies have opposed it.

A small group, the FWFSA, pressed forward and got a review of the 0081 series with hopes that the wildland firefighter duties would be considered.

At the first meeting, Nancy Barnett and her assistant said that firefighting was secondary to any duties for employees of the USDA and USDI. How about those primary or secondary firefighter positions?

I filed a FOIA request for these meetings and was DENIED. Hmmm... something to hide?

Wildland firefighters led the way for the re-write of the 0081 series ONLY TO BE EXCLUDED........ Kinda puts a bitter taste in your mouth...... It really hurts when the OPM Director states her reasons for the re-write.... an outdated series and the actions of wildland firefighters.

Federal Wildland Firefighters ARE
the largest group of Federal Firefighters..... but they don't have their own series or a proper representative series.

The GS-0401 stuff just adds a little laughter to the whole equation. Remember, the WO guy said that Greg. P. got his requirements for GS-401 by taking a "BIRD WATCHING CLASS"..... how does that relate to wildland firefighting? I had to say... Bollsh*t

3/23 NorCal Tom,

Sorry to have taken so long to respond - BLM's been off the 'net, the
skiing's been good, I got a cold...

I must be officially old, to have my name invoked during this discussion
about WCT times. But I agree with the people that say you ought not to
compare times and that the goal should be 44 minutes or so. After cruising
through previous tests, last year I went hard to see what was involved.
You have to use a weird gait to get below 40 minutes if you're not gonna
run, and it really isn't good for you. I decided not to do that again.

Better to use other ways to see how you stack up. So that I can feel that
"I'm not doing too bad for an ancient flatulence" these days I'll take 3000
vertical foot hikes carrying skis and ski down tricky stuff. Even then,
there's always someone to make me feel bad - I'm thinking I need to quit
going out with anyone under 45. And just Saturday the ex-governor of my
state went cranking by me as I put my skis on after a stiff hump up a
ridge. He's my age and wasn't breathing hard - he's a triathete and
recently summited Everest.

It is nice to hear about all los viejos here that are staying fit and
cruising the WCT.

3/23 Fedfire,
You are correct about your information overall. However, the specific mission in DoD for the 0081 Firefighter Series is Structural Firefighting and Rescue skills, with wildland being a small part of the whole. The places that you mentioned, and some you didn't, have a high wildland fire hazard, Ft. Hunter-Liggett in particular.

But even though wildland is part of the job and a highly desired skill, the other parts of the job are more significant being structural fire skills, rescue, haz-mat, specialized tools (Extrication), Aircraft Crash Rescue, Basic Life Support Ambulance Operations, EMT-1 w/ CPR and AED certs, Class B license, Munitions ID, 911 system management and dispatching for fire and military units, and other hazards that are inherent with a military reservation.

I used to work at Ft. Hunter-Liggett and I could be riding backwards as a structural firefighter, driving the ambulance, operating the 6x6 wildland water tenders, operating the P-19 Crash Truck (which requires an FAA/CFR skill base and training), or dispatching. It could be a different assignment each 3-day shift. Not all of it was wildland firefighting. During the winter months when the seasonals are gone and fire season is over it becomes a lot of fire prevention and structural fire department duties. During the summer the focus is wildland, but protection of government property and lives comes first.

How many wildland firefighters do you know who have FAA approved CFR skills, ambulance skills, dispatching for a full service 911 system, structural skills requiring Firefighter I certs, and training for specialized equipment? The structural full-service fire department duties are a requirement for the 0081series, but wildland firefighting does not require all these skills. The National Park Service likes to see structural and EMS skills with the people they hire as 0462/0455 series because they get the collateral skills that can be used for the fire brigade systems they have set up in parks such as Yosemite and Grand Canyon.

The guy you mentioned doesn't know what he is talking about, but the DoD sometimes has a certain 'flexibility' in how they categorize their jobs. The Vandenburg shots have to deal with fires on a very large base that has lots of activities and hazards, such as fires started by missile testing, experimentation, or the satellite rocket that blows up after launch and starts numerous fires. The parts and debris off those missiles can be highly toxic.

DoD bases such as Ft. Ord, the four in San Bernardino county, Pickle Meadows MWTC in Inyo Co., Sierra Army Depot in Lassen County all have missions involving military testing, training, storage, or demolition, and all have specific hazards beyond just wildland fires. Places that are designated not to be traveled into unless life was at risk because of the materials or chemicals used that can still cause harm to human life. There is some training that wildland firefighters get for some of these hazards, but it is not the same as those who fill the positions.

Believe me, I want to see a professional wildland firefighter series come to being. Many of the federal structural fire community would. The wildland firefighters who died over the last century were firefighters, not Range or Forestry Technicians to be cast aside by those agencies when injury or death takes its toll, and there is little in the way of benefits. Look at the problems Krs from the Plumas Shots has had with benefits for his injuries.

There is more to a DoD firefighter on a base with significant wildfire potential than just 'wildland experience'. That's just my two cents worth.

3/22 Paul,

Try www.flightsuits.com or www.sportys.com in that order. Call them and tell them exactly
what your avionics needs are. I have had really good results with both.

Abs: I will echo a recent thread. You guys do a great job in maintaining a great forum!!!!

3/22 Paul; here is another vendor for headsets. I used one last year and it
worked great.

3/22 Paul, what you looking for is an adaptor made by Air Comm Systems, Inc.
Colton, Ca (909) 824-8860.

It is a little spendy but the capabilities are worth it.

3/22 pancake, re the Rural Resident Fee used to fund CDF:

Absolutely, The funds need to go to a dedicated fire fund and not CA's general fund to go to whatever. Several states have a fire protection assessment in place already for private landowners, CA could use formats from other states to set up their own (if they would be willing to ask) this would keep the cost down. Where I am from the tax appears on the yearly county taxes that landowners pay. There will be some costs to bear by the counties yearly but if done right most is on the state. Some of the funds are used by the states fire program to pay for the maintenance and updates to the tax rolls. The state the assumes suppression liability and either provides suppression or pays a protection fee for suppression to the BLM, FS, county or city.

The bottom line is that it does not matter if it is the fire department, police or whoever you call, somebody has to provide funds.

3/22 Todd, thanks for the fire behavior comments and
Nerd on the Fireline, thanks for your response to Todd:

If I may contribute to the discussion here...

Nerd, thanks specifically for your clarification of the use of the 10
& 18's. From what I read from your post on 3/22/04, I see the
distinction between making a tactical change after the situation has
changed and making a prediction of a fire behavior change and
taking a tactical action before the fire behavior changes.

One of the commonalities of fatal fires is waiting to move after the
fire has made its move first. This is a fatal error made many times
without fatal results, but it is common in fatalities.

What if firefighters could pick trigger points where the fire behavior
has high potential to change and become dangerous?
Would they ignore the potential threshold fire behavior and still
wait until the fire validated their prediction? What if they were
committed to determine the trigger points and act on the potential?

What if they could learn to identify the track or path the fire had
high potential to run in?
Would they use the path or track to make their escape?
If they knew the alignment of forces and signature prediction
would they also be willing to act on potential and move before the
fire did?

In many fatal fire situations if the firefighters had moved before
the fire did, they would have lived. If a firefighter has to justify
their withdrawal by using the fire pushing them out of position
rather than moving before the fire does, they are taking an
unnecessary risk. The 10's require firefighters to act on expected
fire behavior.

This is what CPS training is all about. Making fire behavior
change predictions and using such to move before the fire
does. Reactive fire fighting carries more risk than proactive
firefighting. Firefighting should be a combination of prediction
of fire behavior change and the establishment of trigger points
and tracks as well as the watch outs and 10s, but that is just
my opinion.

Thanks for the mental exercise. I look forward to our discussion
in the future because this kind of dialog is not an argument but
is an exchange of ideas and will help us understand each other's
point of view.


Click the following link for a definition of alignment of forces and a window into the rest of Doug's website. If you want some more idea of what "tracks" and "trigger points" are, you can go back to the January theysaid archive where Doug answered some of Mellie's questions about tactics on the fire ground. Ab.


From a wildland firefighter Job Series thread a while back:

"The WILDLAND FF's on the Vandenberg Hotshots (DOD) have been authorized to use the 0081 federal firefighter series for their FF's, this is directly opposite of what the Washington Office HR guy told us at the Reno meeting. He said that the 0081 could only be used for structure FFs. Either he doesn't know what he's talking about, or he's lying, and either one is bad."

Maybe Fedfire could fill us in on what exactly is expected for engine crews in the 0081 Series. The Vandenberg Shots may be a real exception. Ab.

I don't know anyone at Vandenberg to get the "real" story but I've talked with them on the occasional incident, my understanding is that they are 0081 series, they are paid portal to portal and they fill in as needed as structural firefighters. Ft. Hunter Liggett also has seasonal firefighters used during the summer who are also 081 series and work alongside the career firefighters. I don't know why the USDA, USDI etc claim the 0081 series cannot be used for wildland, about 1/2 of the call volume of my department is wildland related, I officially do stuff I "didn't" do at the USFS but the reality is I did similar work only now I get the proper support from management to do it more safely and the right way. I know Camp Pendleton, San Diego Federal, Vandenberg, Ft. Hunter Liggett, Ventura Federal, Camp Parks and Ft. Ord all do a significant amount of wildland under the 081 series.

Here are some links to info on the 081 series and DoD fire that may be of interest.

This is the new 0081 series just released from OPM (pdf file)

This is the DoD instruction that covers fire protection (pdf file)

and this is the firefighter pay act (the website providing this seems familiar) :)

I don't see anything in any of these that would prevent wildland firefighters from being included.

Ab, all of these links are from open sources, accessed from my home computer so there shouild be no security issues on providing this info to a public forum, I accessed all of it from public sites.

Hope this is helpful


3/22 LMH:

Ten pushups, ten sit-ups, drive a railroad tie ten feet with an eight pound sledge, then drag a railroad tie thirty feet with a rope while staying within a three foot square box, another ten pushups, and another ten sit-ups. There’s also talk of adding carrying a Mark 3 pump a certain distance without stopping.

Nerd on the Fireline

And this is a R3 vollie crew - nice. Ab.
3/22 To: Pancake Et. Al. re the Rural Resident Fee used to fund CDF:

I tend to think that the bill is somewhat illegal, it seems that anything the politicians want to call a "fee" would get passed with utmost speed. This trend will only hasten things as far as slapping "fees" on anything and everything. That is only one of my beefs with the "fee".
  • Only folks who live out of city limits will be assessed the fee, don't folks who live in cities get some benefits from CDF also.
  • The second, is the fee is not a $70.00 fee, it is a retroactive to 2003 (maybe even 2002) and you get to pay for 2004 as well ($35 for each year, why not go back to 1993 or 1893?).
  • The third, is if you have one lot that is say 1000 acres you pay $70.00 plus the $35.00, if you are like me, I have two lots that total less than an acre then I get to pay twice has much for a lot less (No Wal-Mart bargain there).
  • Fourth, many folks are already paying for fire protection from local departments which respond year round, in many counties you only get CDF during fire season. In some counties there is no CDF but a county agency equal to and sometimes hooked into the CDF response plan, will they get the money generated or will it go to CDF.
  • And finally what assurances do we have that the money will get to the firefighters, dozers drivers, hand crews, flight crews, and tanker pilots?

Don't get me wrong, CDF does a good job, a damn good job. I was a CDF brush bunny for two seasons and I know that they are needed and appreciated. When I was in CDF we were told our primary responsibility was to save the watershed, to preserve the state's water supply. If we saved houses, buildings, and the other stuff, that was good too. I just think that the legislators in Sacramento are way to eager to slap a band aid on a severed limb, let the tax payers pay for their over spending and feel good programs. I don't mind paying for CDF's services, it's just that I don't trust the politicians. Remember we once had a $10 billion dollars surplus and that went away in one summer. I just want the politicians to call a tax a tax, a fee is something you pay to use, like going to Disney land. I haven't had to use CDF in my neck of the woods in a while, I don't mind paying for my fair share.

I think it would be "fair" to pay on a sliding scale as to how much property you have, the value of your home, the area that you live, and land use, all combined to set the amount of tax you have to pay for CDF coverage. You are going to say a fire is a fire, yes and No. Look at the size of fires in southern California the end of last season (location, property value, land use, preparedness). Then there is the matter of folks not helping themselves by creating a defensible space and all the other things that are laid out to be ready for fire season. Stick those lots, households etc. with a bigger burden of the tax than me, I work hard to meet those guidelines set down by CDF and my local fire department.

Just my two cents, I'll climb down off my soap box and go home now to cut the spring grass and weeds away form my house. Thanks for the forum to spout off Abs and Abettes - you folks do a great job.

Retired Local Agency Volunteer Engineer. (ReL.A.V.E.)

3/22 Attention Rotorheads!

As a lunatic logistics scrounger, I have come across my first road block.
Where do you get the PTT finger switch buttons that wire into a flight
helmet and then into a hand held Bendix King radio? I need everything
short of the flight helmet and the radio.

My FMO is breathing down my neck for these. Any help would be appreciated.

3/22 Nerd…what does the strength test consist of? And just for G.P. all medics fidget regardless of the situation.

3/22 Regarding Pack Test times…

I like Rogue Drogue’s idea. I don’t like being on the line with firefighters who push push push to be the fastest…I think the better firefighter is one who knows how to pace him or her self. A firefighter who pushes his or her limits winds up with no reserves, so if you wind up having to move rapidly on day thirteen, that’s not the firefighter I want. My time last year was 44:46…but I finished up, drank some water, walked around, stretched, took my strength test, and went dancing…I didn’t crawl over the finish line in 35 minutes, then collapse in the shade panting and turning all blue-gray. I’d rather just scrape by than push out some incredible time and have the medics standing there fidgeting their EKG leads and waiting for me to pass out.

Nerd on the Fireline
3/22 Lobotomy

Thanks for your link to the inspiring article (3-21). I wonder if we all
realize how much responsibility we have as role models?

3/22 Todd;

The 10 and 18 are there to tell you when you CAN’T predict fire behavior, or when the fire is likely to behave in unpredictable ways…aka when you don’t have a good idea of the terrain, when weather is changing rapidly, or when spots are popping up in places you don’t expect them, as in your scenario. As soon as you got the spot in your scenario, the 18s changed, and you’re in a watch-out conditions. Then it’s time to back off, at least mentally, and re-assess the situation, re-evaluate your LACES, and think about re-positioning your resources. I’m not much of a hard-and-fast rules kind of person, but I like the 10 and 18, precisely because they aren’t predictive…they’re intended as a continuing size-up, a check for hard-to-control conditions. You asked: “How would you use the 18's to pre determine this event? Would you consider it a violation if you did not predict the spot fire by reviewing the 18's?” The 18’s aren’t in any way meant to pre-determine ANYTHING, they’re intended as a reminder that as soon as that spot starts, conditions have changed or are changing either spatially (in that you now have fire in your escape route) or in terms of fire behavior (fire behavior is spotting, and my be threatening to run, crown, or torch). Suddenly, you are in watchout conditions, and it’s time to re-assess. “In violation” doesn’t mean anything in terms of the 18…the 18 are “heads up” reminders. If you violate the 10, you’re just putting yourself in a position for something to sneak up on you…again, you’re removing your predictive capacity. In the end, I still maintain that it all comes down to LACES…those five apply all the time, on every fire, under every situation, as long as you keep applying them creatively.

Nerd on the Fireline
3/22 Johnny,

I need to hear a little more than.....

"One more item of concern to me, the USFS & BLM will lose a great fire manager if (Rick) is hung out to dry.
I believe with all of my mind & soul that we will all suffer. The best FMO I ever worked for not because he is a nice guy but because he is a professional and runs a great program. The man has a spine which many managers do not."

What is the background of this? Did I miss the earlier posts... am I missing something?

3/22 Shredder I saw your post on the 3-17-04

I can feel your dilemma . I was in the same one . I just hired on a shot crew as a seasonal, leaving a perm engine job . Same qauls and references and same answer when I applied for perm shot positions. Most all supts gave me the same answer, "You gotta pay your dues on a crew" which at first I didn't agree with until I'd done a few details. What I realized was most all perm jobs on a crew have leadership responsibilities. Most of the crews I have seen and worked with tight k nit and you have to earn most peoples respect before you can lead them willingly.

I bit the bullet and walked away from the benefits, which in your situation sounds a lot harder. I looked at it as a resume improvement project and a better chance to see fire from another angle. As for the resume side, having ten years on a engine doesnt look too bad but having five on an engine and five on shots probably looks better for those down the road jobs.

Make sure you do your homework before you leave your perm if you choose to do so.

Make sure you have 3 or it might be 4 years as a permanent so you are vested and you dont lose your fire retirement.

Also make sure the wife understands how much you will be gone. Losing benefits is bad, losing wife and family cant even compare.

But if you dive in and work hard it might not be too long before the perm opportunity come open for you.

Good luck,
signed Bit the Bullet
3/22 R5 transplant from R3, in reply to your post on 3/11

Thank you for coming by the booth at the wildfire 2004 show. Storm King Mountain Technologies will have the SKM shelter ready as soon as possible, what we need from the USFS and CDF is a letter stating that USFS and CDF firefighters can wear our shelter on the fire line as it has met the same testing as the new GSA Shelter.

To answer your question about why did MTDC not go with the SKM shelter, is because MTDC does not buy other people's products, yes Storm King Mountain Technologies did help and will always help MTDC with anything they need to protect firefighters.

About the size of the shelter we are working on this, and working with a most of the fire pack companies, yes the SKM shelter is larger in size. This is because of the way we fold our shelter, with less folds and with the shelter going from sig pocket to sig pocket. If you ever have to deploy the shelter while running or in a high wind, the quick deployment strap will help and pull your shelter out fully deployed and ready for you to get into. Our shelter is also made for guys who are about 6’4”, and will still work for firefighters who are 5’3” because of our full floor.

Storm King Mountain Technologies will be at the Colorado wildfire academy, please come by our booth and we will be more then happy to show everyone the difference in the SKM and the GSA shelter. Or if your Fire Dept is on the West Coast we will try to schedule a time to come by the station and show the two shelters.

Keep your Pulaski sharp,
3/22 radar:

"A 70 dollar one time fee and a 35 dollar a year assessment for CA landowners is Cheap,.... Dirt cheap."
agree, if "we" knew what it will cost local government to collect those fees or how that new revenue will be distributed.

any idea how those hidden costs will fiscally impact city/county? that legislated mandate would have had merit, if elected officials had considered the administrative costs involved, allocation of revenue, & which FF agencies should benefit from the "assessments".

right now it looks like the fee collection costs will be borne by local government without reimbursement or budget allocation enhancements for local emergency response services.

heads up all! time to read the fine print & consider the subsequent ramifications next time voting for anything or anyone

3/22 the thing with the DOI is just getting to be plain out stupidity. with all this money the
DOI gets, why not get the job done and over with, instead waste more money trying
to get back on, court fees, attorneys so forth? i got mixed opinions on this deal.

3/22 FC 180,

Sounds like CDF has some issues to address........

Rogue Rivers
3/21 Re WCT times

I don't even give my guys lap times, other than ahead of time, on time or behind time,
or a time when they complete, just a pass fail. That way nobody really knows what time
they got, eliminates "gloating" b/c nobody has the official time.

I guess I will stick with my old nick-name.....

3/21 Anyone up for a "good ole" chat tonight @2000 (8pm) Pacific Time?

I had to share this great story.... it's from the google news search...... Kinda makes
you step back a bit..... and think.....


3/21 The internet shutdown was ordered by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth.

"The interest of the 300,000-plus current beneficiaries of the individual Indian trust outweigh the potential inconvenience of those parties that would otherwise have access to Interior's Internet services," Lamberth wrote.

The inability to maintain the highest level of firefighter safety has now been officially ruled a "potential inconvenience" by a Federal Judge.


Thank you for your post on 3/14/2004.

In regards to writing your congressman in support of HR 2963 (Portal to Portal) and your request for additional ways that you can help.

1.) Make sure that your local congressional office knows who you are. VISIT THEM on a regular basis and speak to them on personal one-on-one terms. If you are really active, your local congressional office will be happy to meet with you on a regular basis.

After you complete this step, you will probably find that your local Congressman or Congresswoman will probably like to meet you in person. "Be yea not afraid"..... Be yourself and explain your concerns.

2.) Talk to them as a member of a profesional association (FWFSA) and a concerned constituent..... if you do this you never have to worry about "Hatch Act" provisions... Just make sure you don't present your views as "Agency Views".

3) Talk with Casey Judd, FWFSA Business Manager. He can give you some detailed information on how you can help to make this bill pass.

Casey Judd is always available and willing to provide updates on FWFSA information. He can also assist with any membership questions.

Hope that helps you.... Also, spreading the word and recruiting new members also helps us, the Federal Wildland Firefighters!!!

3/21 To Nomad

Regarding the Red Card system. CDF goes out of its way to re-invent the wheel and pretend like the outside world does not exist. Maybe because we are so big we are insulated from the rest of the fire service, or we used to be prior to “total mobility” and other concepts like “nearest engine” etc. Another issue is the physical ability standard in the NIFQS system. Basically we don’t have any standards, so it would be impossible to implement the red card system for that reason alone. Our union would have a fit, and we would be in court before the day was over.

If we didn’t invent it, it doesn’t exist. I do not see that changing anytime soon.

FC 180

3/21 Ab, you sound as if you might be a little bit Irish. I'll brag when I hit 70 and can
bring the walk in under 40. Got to give those youngsters something to go for.

Old Man of the Dept.
3/21 Hi Abs
I did a web search and found the information I wanted about the problems with DOI/BLM web sites. You can pull the plug on my question from earlier today if you want. My apologies for being web lazy. ;-)

Problems go waaaaaay back:
December 8, 2001 Interior Dept. Blocks Web Access at Judge's Order
Dec 20, 2001 Regional BLM web sites closed because of lawsuit
February 6, 2002 Net (still) out at Department of Interior
March 15, 2004 Many Department of Interior Web Sites Shutdown
March 16, 2004 Internet Cutoff Ordered at Interior

Thanks for the intel. Ab.

3/21 Re: CDF Foresters Taking Over

This sounds like something that would never come up if CDF used the ICS red carding system. And perhaps this goes beyond just the foresters- if CDF used taskbooks & the red carding process, it seems like it'd be nothing but good for them as an organization- increased credibility, greater quality control, easier interagency cavorting. No matter what the system, people slip through the cracks & there are errors, but the red card system really does standardize things and make sense in this interagency world. It throws out the assumption that some people hold dear that seniority=competence, which just isn't true.

And i guess what makes me scratch my head amidst this all is that CDF is such a professional, organized, interagency cooperation type organization that I just don't understand why they didn't go to the red card system long ago. I mean, the same thing happening now to CDF would've happen long ago to the feds if they didn't do the red card thing- out of work Biologists & Trails people taking command of hotshot crews, Timber guys turned engine captains, etc. So what's the deal- it seems like CDF could weave the red card stuff in with their current system without any radical changes. What's the hold up?

3/21 DOI/BLM websites

Hi Abs

Can anyone give me the background information about the problems with the DOI/BLM web sites?

3/20 Storm Stories on the Weather Channel is having a fire section in a few minutes Pacific Time. Don't know if it's worth watching, but we can hope. Ab.
3/20 I was wondering if you know why some web sites are not working, and if so will this
affect the job application process?


You mean the BLM sites. Read below to get an idea of why they're down. I don't know more. Yep, it will undoubtedly affect the application process. Ab.
3/20 I started this, not brag or go on an ego trip. I wanted to show that older, ie more mature,
person could get a good time on it and pass it without too much trouble. Also I am still
interested in finding others who are in there 60's or higher and who are still passing the
WCT and carrying a red card.

Old Man of the Dept

Me'be a little bit of brag? Bump up? Ab.
3/20 Re: 1. CA fire protection fee. 2. Hawthorn Boots

#1 A 70 dollar one time fee and a 35 dollar a year assessment for CA landowners is Cheap,.... Dirt cheap.

#2. Hawthron Boots are a quality product. I own 3 pairs (one being Caulks) I bought the first pair in 1988 thats 16 years and 4 rebuilds later.


3/20 Ab.

Once again thankyou for creating a great fire site for all of us to enjoy. Things in the Great Basin are not so well. Last week usdi-blm lost all of its internet servers, due to an on-going lawsuit and last night we got the word that all of blm's computers will be taken off line indefinitely.

My question goes out to the morons who are responsible for this situation, WHY?

Believe me if this situation goes on, you will lose more than you bargained for. If the season starts out here in GB and we are punished for your shortcomings, people will lose their lives. No weather reports, aircraft summaries, haines indexes, fdrs no intelligence what so ever can be passed down to all of us grunts and supervisors. I hope the $$$$ you stole was worth the public, ffs lives and the cost to structures and natural resources.

Brothers & sisters we really need to be on our game this season and every season.
Watch outs and 10 standards 9 down hills etc.
Keep our kids safe this year, there is a big green up in the GB and it may turn into another 1999 season.

One more item of concern to me, the USFS & BLM will lose a great fire manager if (Rick) is hung out to dry.
I believe with all of my mind & soul that we will all suffer. The best FMO I ever worked for not because he is a nice guy but because he is a professional and runs a great program. The man has a spine which many managers do not.

Ab thanks for letting me vent once again.


3/20 Foresters and their leadership role in CDF

Hi Abs,

Word is that CDF foresters are going to be sucking up Captains slots and in some cases
Battalion chief jobs.

This has created quite a bit of unhappiness in the rank and file as you can imagine.

Most of these foresters have a VERY limited range of fire experience and the troops main
concern is that of safety on the fire ground.

My concern is of having a forester moved into the slot vacated by my current chief when he
retires in less than a year and taking over our very active battalion in the big bad city I'm
assigned to.

My opinion of the whole thing is that CDF should have broken away from the forestry side
of things long ago as our mission has changed and we really don't need to have poorly trained
chiefs and captains coming to the fire control side of CDF.

There are many more concerns from the field, you folks don't have enough space here to
list them all!

Captain Emmett
3/20 Hey everyone thanks for the boot advice.

I was wondering what the best site is to find daily fire danger reports? Thanks

3/20 I agree with not making the pack test a competition. Unless, of course, the competition is to get as close as possible to 45:00 (44:59 would be the winner!). This test wasn't designed to be a race, and everyone who I've seen trying to do the non run "shuffle," has ended up with a tremendously sore lower back and shins, let alone the increased exposure to injury.

On the other hand, as we all love a little competition, how about some mile and a half times?

Rogue Drogue
3/20 I totally agree with Aberdeen. I think that a little friendly competition is ok while taking the WCT. There is a point however at which you are not walking. The test was designed to be taken while walking. If folks are concerned about times etc, post your run times or your push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups.

3/20 With the budget crunch in California, does anyone reading here have an opinion
on the transfer Resource Management Personnel (CDF Foresters) into fire
suppression positions -- even if they do not meet minimum qualifications and
require additional training?

Seems like a safety issue and an interagency safety issue to me. Even though some
Foresters have worked in fire suppression, some have not. Training review, additional
training, where does experience come in??? Fire behavior is more than test taking, book
learning, you got to be on the line.


Will they be supervising? Ab.

3/20 From Firescribe: For those in CA.

Opposition mounts against state fire-protection fee

3/20 I say let's have some real competition over the pack test.

Only post times that are less than 35 minutes.
Oh, and only those who check the box that wildland firefighting
is an extreme sport get to have their fast times on the list.

BLM Bob, what was your time? What do you think? What
might we call this page of WCT records?

NorCal Tom

PS Ab, thanks for the forum...
PSS Storm Stories special tonight is FIRE
8 PM PDT on the Weather Channel.
3/20 The Work Capacity Tests (Pack, Field & Walk) were designed to be Pass/Fail,
not timed competition. If you've got to puff up your competitive ego by showing
that you're "better" than someone else, join an AAU Track Team, a bowling league,
or a weight-lifting club - - some place where everyone worries about their individual

3/19 Re posting WCT (pack test) times:


I think it's a bad idea to post WCT times on the site, and here's why.

Posting the times would encourage people to compete during the WCT, and that is not safe. On my forest, we do not even record the times, as it was designed to be a pass/fail test. Dr. Sharkey, who helped develop the test discourages competition during the WCT. People have died taking it, and 45 lbs. can cause damage to your body if you jog with it. Also, you are supposed to be disqualified if you jog or run, so some of these sub-40 minute times should be disqualified anyway. The test is to measure endurance, not speed. If people want to compete, use the 1 1/2 mile run or another aerobic activity to use. In the USFS, people are supposed to be in pay status when they take the test, in case they get injured they are covered by OWCP. This unnecessary competition could cause lost time injuries charged to the agency, and the person injured could lose their job, if there was deliberate failure to follow the WCT rules. I don't want to ruin anyones fun, but injuries aren't good for anybody, especially firefighters.

3/19 I was actually looking for answers to my GS-401 questions that are current
and I hit on your site. Not sure if this is how to answer the question
about Hawthorne Boots, if you do not mind posting it for me?

In response to the boots, from what I have heard the original owner of
Hawthorne was an employee of Whites. The difference in the boots when I
wore them ten years or so ago was the Hawthorne was machine made and the
Whites brand is handmade.

As for the price and quality, When I purchased my Hawthornes they were
about $179.00 and the Whites were way above that. There was over 100
dollar difference I believe. As for quality, the boots were excellent.
As for hours on each pair and longevity, the Hawthornes lasted for more
overtime hours than the Whites.

That is my two cents

Thanks AB

Welcome TRW. Here are the docs we have posted on the 0401 Series:
IFPM Guide
Supplemental Qualification Standard
Application of Education and Specialized Experience
Other Education
3/19 Ab someone was asking about fire art. Here's something that might be useful to some:

Smokey Bear Fire Danger Level Graphic


3/19 Jason,

I have a pair of the Hathorn Smokejumpers also, bought them in 2000, and used them regularly every year, great boots. Just make sure you have plenty of time to break 'em in before you get on the hill, as they are rather rigid and high arched. Also, make sure that you coat em good with some Obenaufs LP before season hits , and continue to treat em throughout the season.

Smoke-Chaser In Idaho
3/19 Dear Ab's,

We would like to thank you for the great response we had to our employment ad. We
tried to get back to everyone but we might have missed a couple of people in between
all the meetings we have been attending. We were able to get quite a range of candidates a
nd have narrowed our prospects to fill our positions completely.

You are awesome!

Cindy Wood, CEO
Wood's Fire & Emergency Services, Inc.
3/19 Ab,

After about a year and a half of work, we are finally ready to launch a new wildland firefighting school, Colorado Firecamp. We have seven classes scheduled for April and May, including 2 sessions of S-130/190. We are located near Salida, Colorado in the Upper Arkansas Valley where the Colorado Wildfire Academy was started 11 years ago.

We hope to begin our "engine boss apprenticeship" this fall, to train primarily volunteer firefighters (of company/chief officer rank with little formal wildland training) over a 3 year period to meet the ENGB requirements listed in USFS handbook 5109.17 .

Our web address is www.coloradofirecamp.com. The website isn't completely functional, but we're adding content almost daily. I have new appreciation for the tremendous effort put out by the Ab's.

vfd cap'n
3/19 What have you heard about Hathorn Smokejumpers? They are sold through the Whites company catalog so I can't imagine they are bad. Anybody had them or knows of someone who has? Thanks.

3/19 Hey Ab,

It think it would be cool if we could see people's WCT times in age categories posted on the site. This would sure encourage me to do better. I think Arrowhead IHC has a best times and average times for the WCT and average and best for push ups and sit-ups etc.

Gosh, you don't have anything going on right now right? :)


Readers, what do you think? Ab.
3/19 Thought I would stir up the bit on the pack test. Just passed it yesterday. 37min.37sec.
Not bad for a guy who is 67 and pushing 68. Would like to know how many other 60
plus there are out there that also carry a red card.

For those who complain about it. It is no big deal, if you stay active all year and stay
ready for it.

Old Man of the Dept.
3/19 JT,
I am very partial to either Whites or Nick's Roughouts...but last season i needed a pair of "just in case" boots...and found the Danner Firelines, they are inexpensive ($200) and quite comfortable right out of the box....not much break in needed.

I was thinking that they would be nice for a "just in case" boot, but found that they are lighter than most boots available, and very forgiving on the line...they are now my main boot to wear...and my Whites ride along "just in case"!!
I am not sure where you are, but Sportsmans Warehouse carries the Danners, and they are NFPA Approved...just a thought!

Warming up in southern Idaho...in the 70's the last few days, and the snow is disappearing fast even at the higher elevations.

Good time to review the 10's and 18's and think about the first call-out of the season, get mentally prepared.....Stay Safe Everyone!!

Smoke-Chaser In Idaho
3/18 I used to work for Ron Campbell when he was Superintendent of the El Cariso Hot Shots. I lost touch with him a couple of years ago. Does anyone know how to contact him? Ab will forward the information to me. Thanks.

3/18 HELP!!!! I need to buy a pair of boots, I had Red Wings but want another brand. PLEASE TELL ME WHAT TO BUY!!!


Nicks has an ad on the Classifieds page. Ab.
3/18 Jr the jobs can be accessed through usajobs so far.
3/18 Nerd
Interesting thought about the 10's and 18's being the method to enable one to predict the fire behavior. I never heard that one used in the fire behavior classes. I always thought that fire behavior prediction was part of the size up procedure.

Lets take a spot fire situation as an example. Your crew is working on hot line and is confident that the crew boss has the 10'[s and 18's covered. A spot fire happens behind the crew and across the fire line. That cut off the escape route unless the hot spotting group can put it out.

Now we get specific. How would you use the 18's to pre determine this event? Would you consider it a violation if you did not predict the spot fire by reviewing the 18's?

Yours is an interesting concept but in thinking about how to implement the idea I may need your help.


Sorry I'm just getting to this Todd, it seems to have been hung up in the server or something. Ab.
3/18 Just thought you'd all like to know, the Abs have been enjoying a taco omelet, homemade bread, jam, coffee and juice made by Original Ab. Soon we'll be advancing to the rest of our semiannual meeting agenda... Carry on.
3/18 I am looking for some clip art and screen savers of wildland firefighting. Anyone got some great webpages for that???


Here's MoHick's page.
3/18 super tanker? someone is blowing smoke or in a pipe dream. most knowledgeable
folk MIGHT be willing to see their tax dollars spent on a MarsMartin type in the USA.
<thanks for the chuckle Mesquite (crushed runways).

USFS hires PR firm: imagine that! at what cost in our collective tax dollars> how many
$$s reallocated from forest "husbandry" or FF budgets, nationwide? (TTerri, last time
I crossed the stateline from southshore CA into NV, lots of fuel - dead trees, trash &
duff - timebomb!)

ICT3 Certification: personal comment only, no offense intended. we all pray non-western
state WFFs are prepared to respond to wildland fire west of the "MidWest" - training is
good, even as a simulation exercise.

What's happening in AK other than the Iditerod start line had to be moved to a location
where there was sufficient snow pack...
So far 10 consecutive days of 80+ degree record breaking temps in northern CA; foothill
grass is a cattleman's dream; Tahoe basin is doing a booming business. delta breezes soon
to arrive, but no rain in the 5 day forecast. southzone has been "HOT".
Everyone be safe out there! it's going to be an interesting fire season...

3/18 Re ICT3

Personally, I like those stimulation exercises.


3/17 The entire DOI web connection crashed yesterday (more court fallout) resulting in everyone’s RAWS obs being missing at 1300 yesterday. RAWS feed into WIMS is back up but the DOI sites are down. Today the FAMWEB site said

“The Satellite RAWS data is being loaded into WIMS again.”


3/17 I have heard that the Dept of Interior is facing another lawsuit and have taken their e-mail system off of the internet. The last time this happened the web sites were taken off too.

Should be interesting since time sheets are done on line now.
3/17 Dear Ab(s),

Is there a reason that the NIFC site is down? I tried several different ways of entering their site, and regional sit reports, with no luck.


3/17 Supertanker:

well it figures that technology will take over the old way. I guess its good, but it will also put the contractors out of business eventually.


3/17 ICT3 Certification

Last week I was involved with the first batch of certification in R6. As
stated up front there are no gotcha's. Having gone through the
certification myself I can tell you it was pretty real. The people putting
on the certification were committed to putting on a quality simulation. In
my 29 years there are fewer and fewer things that I feel have a positive
outcome. This on the other hand does have a positive outcome. It is just
good business to put people through these sims just to get their head on
straight before the season really kicks in.

I agree this is a knee jerk to cramer. But my experience has been that
this is a training tool and is being used as such. We spend a lot of time
on the After Action Review with the folks, even if they nail it. We (the
cadre) had the opportunity to tell the WO what we thought, which is that
they should drop the certification idea in the future and focus on using
the tool for training prior to fire season. I have for years believed that
spending sim time before fire season is critical and should be required.

have a good fire season!


3/17 What do people think of this?

Forest Service hired PR firm to sell log plan

Seems reasonable to me given the fire fuels in the Sierra Nevada. Firefighters, any comments?

Tahoe Terrie

3/17 Supertanker? Photo too, anyone know more about this?

Officials hope to begin Supertanker testing soon in Marana

Supertanker could be next wildfire tool

How much good can it be if it crushes the runway?

The AZ Wildfire Academy is underway. Good to see everyone again.

Mesquite Fire

3/17 TC,

The Florida fire (Impassible One, 15 miles NE of Lake City, FL) is in patrol and mop up. About 5 more miles of line to build but fire activity is minimal, not like the big one of '98. Got an inch of rain last night with a bit more possible today. To date the total burned is 34,200 acres, its 80% contained. Resources include 1 Type 1 FS crew, 2 type 3 helos, 22 engines, 23 dozers, and 98 overhead.

Hope this helps. Ya'll have a good day,

FL fire guy

Welcome FL fire guy, that's quite a few acres. Any story on the conditions when it escaped? Ab.

3/17 Good morning All,

And wow is it hot in San Francisco! Can fire season in the west be far behind???

3/17 Just trying to get some input.

I'm currently an engine foreman, with a career appointment, I'm qualified as a crew boss, engine boss, as well as quite a few other things (ICT4, HECM, etc.) My dilemma is that I'm trying to get a career position on a shot crew. I've applied for positions at lower grades, higher grades and same grade, have good references, but I keep getting the same response that I'm an excellent candidate, but have no 'shot experience. I'm willing to go almost anywhere (except California). Anybody have any ideas what I need to do? I've even considered going back to a 1039 position, but I need the benefits an appointment has (health ins especially, wife and kids) . Maybe there's a shot supt, or captain who can give me a heads up on how I can improve my chances.

3/16 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated.
Don't forget to check out the contractor listings on the Jobs page. Ab.
3/16 Cap’n Emmett what’s your position, over?

3/16 Being a small volunteer dept,. it has taken us a while but we finally are getting wildland PPE for everyone.. To be sure it doesn't walk, off we wanted to silk screen the shirts with some of the new FR inks (some reflective, some not) but can't find a US supplier. Any help out there? Anyone do patches/embroidery with nomex or other FR thread?

3/16 FS and Jason,

Thanks so much for the info. I have been waiting for that list since November, I was slacking on calling the info line. I owe you a beer. A root beer if you don't drink.

3/16 re: escaped rx burn in Florida
TC and others... check out this link. Sounds like it as of last night it was 60% contained, a little over 34,000 acres.


3/16 Anyone hear anything on the escaped rx burn in florida?

3/16 Whoa, Todd!

Let’s talk about the 10 and 18…from my grunt’s perspective, the 10 and 18 carefully written NOT to be predictive…”How do you know if you're violating the 10 and 18 if you don't know what the fire is going to do?”…that’s exactly what the 10 and 18 are FOR…to tell you when you don’t know what the fire’s going to do, and to tell you when you don’t have a good contingency plan when the fire does the unexpected. Here’s the 18:

1. Fire not scouted and sized up.
2. In country not seen in daylight.
3. Safety zones and escape routes not identified.
4. Unfamiliar with weather and local factors influencing fire behavior.
5. Uninformed on strategy, tactics, and hazards.
6. Instructions and assignments not clear.
7. No communication link with crewmembers/supervisors.
8. Constructing line without safe anchor point.
9. Building fireline downhill with fire below.
10. Attempting frontal assault on fire.
11. Unburned fuel between you and the fire.
12. Cannot see main fire, not in contact with anyone who can.
13. On a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below.
14. Weather is getting hotter and drier.
15. Wind increases and/or changes direction.
16. Getting frequent spot fires across line.
17. Terrain and fuels make escape to safety zones difficult.
18. Taking a nap near the fire line.

Note every single Watchout here ties back in to NOT knowing what the fire’s doing. If you don’t know what the fire’s doing, you can’t exactly predict what it’s going to do, so you need to put yourself in a position where you can figure it out. The 10 are the same way…if you’re violating the 10, you’re violating the 18. What also gets me is the fact that the 10 and the 18 need to apply to everybody on the line, not just to ‘leadership’. Prediction is a leadership function, observation is everybody’s job.

Keep your LACES tied, Nerd on the Fireline
3/16 Todd,

With all due respect, would we even be reading a Cramer Fire Investigation if there had been proper management over sight of the incident and the 10 and 18 were followed?

You did say something that makes me a bit nervous. We are not training firefighters on the ground about fire behavior now? In addition to our routine classroom and refresher training through out the year, every fire (regardless of size) and prescribed fire is a training opportunity and if not being taken advantage of someone is not doing their job. I really do not care what the terms are or the name of the system we want to use, we need to take advantage of the real life training opportunities as they present themselves. Maybe I misinterpreted what you meant, if so I apologize.

the cynic
3/16 FSquirrel,

Just giving myself more competition for the job, but apps for that are due March 20 and 21 only. In Person!! Check out the link http://www.lacofd.org/employment_ops.php. Goodluck!!

3/16 BLM Bob:

For the moment the FS is only requiring all currently ICT3 red carded folks to do the simulation. No trainees, no other higher or lower qualified as in ICT1, 2, DIVS, etc. have been invited for the moment. The simulation evaluations have to be done by April 30.

This whole exersize isn't to train folks. It is to certify that the ones that say they are an ICT3, can really do the job (at least that is the theory).....A quick response to the Cramer report to prove we are doing something. Whether or not the simulations really test what it takes to be a good ICT3 will undoubtedly be debated in this forum and in the hallways of many FS offices.

3/16 LA County will soon start another class for FSA'S off the old list. It should be a 4 week class starting with about 25 rooks. We are lucky if 20 make it thru the training. Applications are due next weekend ( 3-20-04 or 3-21-04) See www.lacofd.org for the application and info. All other hiring will be from the new candidate list. Good luck.


3/15 cynic,

How do you know if you're violating the 10 and 18 if you don't know what the fire is going to do? Even if you go back to the original meaning of the 10 as rules of engagement and disengagement, how do you know when to disengage?? Maybe we should be training ff on the ground about fire behavior, like the wildland fire signature prediction method, type of fire, weather, slope, aspect, time of day, forces in alignment, trigger point. Makes much more sense as a starting point for all new ff. Take a look again at the Cramer Solution. www.dougsfire.com/articles.php last one on the list.

Doug's idea, based on what fire supts were doing, has come a long way since I took the class.


3/15 Does anyone work for L.A County as an FSA? When are those guys going to start hiring again? I haven't heard any voices from them on Theysaid.

3/15 Mellie and everyone,

Concerning the questions about ICT3 training: At this point, the requirement for simulations for ICT3 apply only to Forest Service employees, and the Forest Service has indicated it will honor other agencies' certification for their ICT3s with or without the simulation. So DOI ICT3s that have not been through the simulation excercise should be accepted by the Forest Service. I expect that there may be some confusion in the field over this.

I haven't heard yet as to whether the FS will require the simulation for FS employees with higher quals, like say, their ICT2s in order to serve as a ICT3.

3/15 I cannot help but look at the ICT-3 simulator training with a bit of a jaundiced eye. I am all for training and the more realistic the better. However, I have had a lot of experience with the team exercises (ie, simulations) in 420 and 520 as a candidate, role player and evaluator. The results of these exercises can be pretty subjective. There are many ways to skin a cat, but if you don't skin the cat the way the evaluation team wants it skinned then you are going to hear about it. Once you make it through the simulator all you have proven is you can make it through the simulator.

In our three most recent tragedies one common theme that has been identified is lack of appropriate over sight. So what is the agency response to that problem, send line officers to a training course in warm, sunny, Tucson in the dead of winter? If the ICT-3 simulation is going to be a good one, why is it not mandatory for responsible line officers to sit beside the ICT-3 candidate and ensure they are qualified to perform the over sight role? Ditto for dispatchers.

The other common theme are the violations of the 10 and 13, oops, I am dating myself, 18. These are the very basics and they continue to be violated. Where is the over sight, why can't we get it right? That is the issue that must be addressed. We keep talking about getting back to the basics, it does not get more basic than the 10 and 18.

We can have all the checklists, LCES, LACES, Look Up - Look Down, simulator sessions, pocket guides, red books, fire line hand books, manuals, policies, training courses, task books, certifications, etc. we want, but if the 10 and 18 continue to be violated it is no different than playing Russian Roulette. Sooner or later the chamber with the bullet is going to come up under the hammer.

the cynic
3/15 For those still holding out for the right job in the right area, there are now four private companies advertising on the Jobs Page. ProInc was added last week, they are looking for a full time Engine Boss on the Sawtooth. A new company added today, Firestormers, is looking for a part time person in Eastern Oregon. If you aren't looking for fulltime work and you like the area, give them a call. Original Ab.
3/15 Mellie and Yactac,

Thanks for the information. Out here in the Non-Fed world it can be hard to know what is going on.


3/15 Not Just Waxing My Engine:

Instead of using regular mail try to email congress folks. I do this frequently and have learned that most of them do not receive regular mail for up to six months, due to screening procedures (Anthrax, etc.)

Unfortunately I have many horror stories about OWCP but I do have one good one. It seems you have to find that caring individual to get anything done.

Best of Luck
3/14 Tyler

Believe it or not you have a number of opportunities to learn about and
become involved in wildland fire living in Central Ohio! The Forest
Service has a fairly large Ranger District unit in southern Ohio along the
Ohio River right adjacent to West Virginia and Kentucky. When I was the
District Ranger there we had a good number of wildland fires and conducted
prescribed burns on several hundred acres. Each summer we would get the
call to combine firefighters from the Ohio Division of Forestry and our
own Forest Service unit and send them out west for several weeks when
their forests were on fire. In the fall with the help of the state
forestry firefighters we'd have to respond to several arson fires in our
area. Also in the fall right before Thanksgiving, we'd travel over the Ohio
River into the neighboring state of Kentucky to help our friends on the
Daniel Boone National Forest (the rest of you folks know all about Redbird
District but lets not scare the young fella off!) to assist with several
hundred arson fires.

Hocking Technical College near Athens Ohio that has a 2 year Forest Ranger
school that will enable you to qualify as a Wildland Firefighter. Ask your
high school counselor about that school. Ohio State University in Columbus
has a 4 year Forest Management program that will prepare you for a future
in forestry and fire management. Once you're enrolled at either one of
those schools you'll have the opportunity during the summer to go out west
with some of these combined crews if you pass the physical tests. The Ohio
Division of Forestry with its headquarters in Columbus can also help you
out with information on getting into forestry and fire management.

So Tyler even though you aren't living in the west you'll still have the
opportunities to make a career out of wildland fire management...good luck!

Sign me,
"Ranger Roger"
3/14 Mellie,
Far as I can see you pretty well nailed the process for the ICT3 testing.

What concerns me is not the fact that we are finally assessing folks skills, but the fact that people once again had to die to make something happen.

I have many questions regarding this latest knee jerk reaction. Is the testing going to be an annual event? Biannual? Once every 3 to 5 years?

What about DIVS, ATGS, HELCO, OSC, STL, SRB, ICT2, ICT1 positions? These folks also regularly make decisions or lack thereof that can affect lives. We gonna wait till someone dies to set up an assessment of their skills?

What about IMT's, Type 1 and Type 2? When we gonna start "testing" them for decision making and cohesiveness? Seems to me the land management agencies are the only entities out there whose "teams" only get together for the "big game". Where are the drills, exercises and testing of skills?

We profess to have safety as a core value, yet someone has to die prior to us opening the checkbook to truly enhance safety. We have the technology and the skills to provide quality assessment of skills.....simulators, sand tables...look at the low tech high impact techniques utilized by the company teaching Fireline Leadership. There is no excuse not to be assessing folks skills on a regular basis. An assignment once every 5 years for Operations folks and once every 3 for Aerial Resources is not enough in my mind to keep folks "current". True skills assessments will save lives and the almighty dollars. Why do pilots regularly go to currency training?

What about the other land management agencies who are not testing their ICT3's? Is the Forest Service going to let them perform on FS incidents? If this ICT3 testing is so all fired important, why is the Forest Service using the cop out "we accept other agencies quals no matter how they train?" Explain that to me will you? Once again we profess to have safety as a core value, yet we are not willing to take the high road with our cooperators and tell them they have to meet our standards if they want to perform on our incidents. Politics you say? Never happen? It would if our "leaders" had the moxie to stand up to our cooperators. We are supposed to be the big dog......then again maybe we aren't the big dog and ought to stop all of this knee jerk reaction and posturing to try and make us look like we are "doing something"...........

The ramblings of a "getting tired of it" old guy.......

3/14 It's pretty amazing to me that "Fire Science" IS a recognized professional qualification nationwide, but is not recognized by the U.S. Forest Service or other land management agencies. NFPA even has a professional qualification standard that relates to professional wildland firefighting. Fire Science has two-year and four year degrees.

Recently, Regional Forester Jack Blackwell replied to the San Francisco Chronicle touting the "Fire Scientists" input regarding the changes in the Sierra Nevada Framework. (Bush Forest Plan Strives to Reduce Fire Risk)... UNFORTUNATELY, THERE IS NO SUCH TERM OR CLASSIFICATION SERIES IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.... The agency "Fire Scientists" that Jack was referring to were us Forestry Technicians.... got used and abused again. (Bollshit)

Jack and all the WO folks, if you use us and see us as professionals, and tout our "scientist" quals for your, and our agencies gain, please give us the basic right to have a proper classification series. The GS-0401 series didn't cut it and never will.

My fire and natural resource management and protection duties can't be compared to those duties of a biologist. My education and training ALSO can't be compared to those of a structural firefighter. I am a Wildland Fire Manager and Firefighter, not a non-described and otherwise non-classified biological sciences position. Unfortunately, I soon hope to have a Masters in Fire Administration, and in the future, a PhD. But it will only qualify me for GS-4 under the current 0462 BS.

Stop the 0401 implementation. Start the "GS-0088 Natural Resources Protection, Management, and Fire Suppression Series". Just a thought. I appreciate the thought and reasons behind the 0401 series, but as Dr. Gilmartin said, "BOLLSHIT."

Rogue Rivers
3/14 Casey Judd, I to would like to thank you and the FWFSA for your efforts to put forward the portal to portal bill. After speaking to a number of people who were in Reno for the Chiefs meeting, it seems to me that there needs to be some educating going on to the upper management and the WO.

If they truly read this web page, then I challenge them to speak up and ask the burning questions that they have.

Upper management, I guarantee that if you ask, you will get an answer.

Casey, it sounds like Congress needs some more educating also. Besides writing, how else could we educate them? I don't really put alot of stock in e-mailing my Congress person knowing that there's some intern there reviewing it and possibly saying "this isn't that important".

Since the new buzz word in socal is "town hall meeting" and this is an election year, what are the possibilities of getting together a town hall meeting of Federal Wildland Firefighters? We could invite the Folks of Congress who are backing us and also invite those who are not. We could fill them in with on what we really do. We could invite the press. On your next visit to Washington, can some of us go along and educate our Congress people with you? I know there are a few of you that go but, like we have stated before, greater numbers speak more loudly.

I think person to person is the best, emailing, calling and letter writing also helps. We need volumes of contact... then and only then will they realize how important this Portal to Portal bill is to us.

I am writing my local Congress person just in case they really read it, to ask for their support on Portal to Portal. Anything else?

Thanks again.......


3/13 Hugh, Carl, and Lonnie,

Great job on the Leadership class you just put on at Vandenberg. It was great talking to you folks about current and past issues of the Agency.

If you haven't been through the MCS Fireline Leadership classes then I highly recommend it to everyone. Hugh I hope to hear from you soon when the first smoke starts to pop up.

3/13 R6 FF,
regarding the Type3 IC assessment that is being pushed along. I learned more about this just recently while at the Division Chiefs' Mtg.

This is what I understand.
Anybody -- please chip in if you know differently or have more information.

As a result of the Cramer Fire After Action Plan, all red-carded ICT3s are being "tested" via a PC based Wildland Fire Simulation (or a sandbox). Some very experienced firefighters and subject matter experts have been developing this simulation assessment, establishing the learning objectives and the script.. Kent Conaughton (Asst Forester for R5) has also been working on the procedures. The process has taken a major focus for these people, as well as serious dedication and time away from home their units. I want to thank them for jumping the program through the hoops to meet the newest requirements that have come down from above. Sometimes I can't imagine how hard and fast you all are expected to work

What is the procedure?
As I understand it, an ICT3 comes into the room, sits at a computer and is faced with a computer simulation of a wildland fire. Out of sight is a cadre of testers/instructors who change the simulation of the fire (fuel type, ,environmental conditions, topography, ROS), the resources, the time of day, tiredness of the troops, a critical incident that emerges within the fire incident, etc. Hopefully at each step of the way, the ICT3, responds with appropriate decisions based on emerging needs and "makes us all proud".

The simulation addresses 6 performance areas, represented by 19 objective "items" that are spelled out in words. All of the "items" are found in the position task book (PTB) and the 30 mi IC checklist.

The performance areas are

  • procedures: develops IAP, uses references, establishes documentation procedures, follows work/rest guidelines
  • leadership: provides adequately responsive leadership, establishes command and control, "I am the IC", allocates resources, delegates tasks
  • communication: gives instructions, briefs, reports conditions to dispatch, briefs new resources
  • decision-making: develops situational awareness of the incident environment, recognizes and adequately responds to changing conditions
  • safety: insures ability to work as a dedicated IC, is able to focus on critical vs urgent, can handle an incident within an incident, mitigates 10 and 18
  • transfer of command: interacts with next IC

In each area, there is one fundamental task that will be prettymuch a make-or-break task that must be performed at a satisfactory level for that performance area. (It's the first one in the list under each performance area: 1-1, 2-1, 3-1... 6-1.) In other words, if you miss that first one in any of the performance areas, it is prettymuch hard to come back and pass the overall assessment.

Personpower involved: In R5 there are 8 cadres of 5 people each (or 40 people overall). Each cadre has a simulation director, lead evaluators, 2 coordinators, role player (and a dispatcher recorder). 4 cadres will be testing in the NorthZone and 4 in the SouthZone. I don't know about other regions.

There have been several Train the Trainer sessions at McClelland. The next one is Mar 16-18.

The simulations begin on March 30 in R5. ICT3s have until April 30 to complete the test/exercise and get the certification. QUITE A HUSTLE TO GET EVERYONE DONE.

Hopefully it will not just be an exercise, but everyone will learn something out of it.

Hopefully R3 will remain quiescent until there are enough Type3 ICs to handle the first fires of the SW season.

Just found this site that spells out some of the performance areas. www.nationalfiretraining.net/ict3prestudy.php


3/13 Casey,

Thank you for the excellent update regarding the issue of portal to portal. I am extremely thankful for your continuing efforts on the behalf of all federal wildland firefighters!

Thanks Casey!

3/12 Despite negative rhetoric from the bureaucrats of the Land Use Agencies, congress has taken yet another step towards fulfilling our decades old pursuit of Portal-to-Portal Pay.

As many of you know, last summer, Congressman Richard Pombo, (R-CA) introduced HR 2963, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act. This bill would provide for the payment of portal-to-portal pay for our federal wildland firefighters when dispatched to "emergency incidents." As members of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn. (FWFSA) provided the text of the legislation for review and acceptance by Rep. Pombo's office and the Legislative Counsel (those folks that turn legislation into un-readable legalese), we were committed to ensuring that the term "emergency incidents" was included to recognize the variety of tasks our folks perform besides "forest" firefighting.

The bill also amends language to United States Code Title 5 to include Hazardous Duty pay as pay for retirement calculation.

After significant lobbying by the FWFSA, the Civil Service Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Joanne Davis (R-VA), has agreed to prepare for hearings on the bill. In fact, in my dealings with their staff, I get a sense that they are keenly interested in this legislation and other issues that affect our firefighters. This will result in hearings in Washington DC or field hearings. There have been some cursory discussions about field hearings in the Southwest.

For anyone who understands congressional politics, the fact that we are now at a point of scheduling hearings, which, quite excitedly will provide us the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with the agencies on this issue, is a significant step. The fact that the committee is clearly interested in moving the legislation speaks volumes for our ability to "educate" congress on our issues despite bureaucratic opposition... which, from what I have seen, is diminishing as our efforts advance.

I would encourage all of you who visit this site regularly to call or write your representative in congress and ask them to support/cosponsor HR 2963. Oddly enough, although a Republican introduced the bill, we now have more democratic cosponsors than republican which clearly illustrates the legislation's bipartisan support.

As always, if anyone has any questions on this or other legislative/administrative issues facing the nation's federal wildland firefighters, please feel free to e-mail me at FWFSAlobby@aol.com or phone me at (916) 515-1224.

With Warm regards,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
3/12 Quick question for you CDF types - a few years ago I heard of a crossover chart between training for CDF and USFS - do any of you guys out there know if this doc exists?

later - eric
3/12 I am 15 years old and I live in Ohio, is there anything I can do to make my chances of becoming a wild fire fighter better? Is there any high school courses i could take that would help me to get into fire school? I live in central ohio so I can not find any close fire schools to visit and get information on fire school prerequisites. Can you help?

Tyler Miller

Ty, you might ask your school counselor if you have a Regional Occupational Program in Fire Science. Many counties in California offer introductory classes for Firefighter1through the County Office of Education. You have to be at least 16 to take them, and often preference is given to seniors in high school and older because you can't be picked up by the feds until you're 18. I don't know if such a program exists in other states. You might also take a look at our list of 2 and 4 year colleges that have fire science programs. You could call and ask them for advice. Some of our readers might have other suggestions. Ab.
3/12 Cap/LMH

39 eh? Dont let the age factor get you down. There are lots of good early season training regimens out there to get your mile and mile and a half times down. Try the BUD/S workout. You can find it on the internet and it will shave your mile and a half times down to nearly a sustainable 7:30 to 8:00 mile over long distances and the best part is that it is only a 16 week program! Keep up the good work you guys and good luck at CDF.


BUD/S = Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (added it to acronyms)

For example: http://navyseal.s5.com/workouts.phpl

or books at Amazon for example: The United State Navy SEALs Workout Guide : The Exercises and Fitness Programs Used by the U.S. Navy SEALS and Bud's Training

3/12 Cap’n Emmett;

O.K. I’ll answer what I can:

First off, I’m not going to disclose which unit this is.

I spoke with the Training Officer and was told the money is "for academy training" and not due until the first day of class. It is to be made out to my local municipal F.D. training facility.

This was the second application that I filled out, the first was entitled “FFI Application for Employment” (CDF 215) and this latest one is “CDF Firefighter-Basic Academy”, no form number.

No job offer was or is given. You are placed on an eligibility list after completion of the academy and then interviewed if a position is available.

I’m guessing now they peruse these recently submitted applications (which I did this a.m.) and figure out what they’re going to need. And as much as I’d like to change my career path if I’m unable to line up leave days for the needed 2 weeks, this all becomes a moot point.

Take ‘er easy,
3/12 Ab,

I'm pleased to let you know that a helmet is on the way. I'd like to give a sincere thank you to Ryan of the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. A sincere thanks also to Jim for the generous offer.

As soon as the memorial is set up I'll send you a picture and some more information.

Thanks for your help and the service you provide.
Steve Heath

Good news. Glad we could help out. Please do send a pic and some info on the memorial.
Thanks to others who offered helmets of other colors or offered to track down a blue helmet. Ab.

3/12 Ab and others, re: a wildland fire or natural resources protection series......

Ab, thanks for providing the link to the list of all the wildland firefighter job series (your reply to No End to the Amazement 3/8/2004 post) ...... There are indeed currently more than 30 job series in which you can get firefighter retirement.

Here's some additional information on that.... It relates specifically to Title 5 and 5 CFR..... and who actually directs OPM to make changes.

If a "job" requires more than 51% of time required to be firefighting (primary) or in support, management, or administration of firefighting (secondary) then that position qualifies as a FERS-M (Firefighter) retirement coverage. If that job is a support, management, or administration job, it still requires a majority of the time (51%) be spent on "fire" related duties. Biology, Agriculture, Fisheries and others DO NOT QUALIFY. The original intent and language of the bill that was passed during the Nixon Administration, was not for biologists.... it was for FIREFIGHTERS. (Nixon Veto pdf file) It passed after a severe battle and the House and Senate overrode the Presidential Veto.

Classification also requires that if a position requires more than 25% (Mixed Classification Duties) or over 50% other duties... that "the position" be classified into the predominant series AND be classified using a mixed classification audit. In either case, it must be classified properly and that requires 51% or more of the duties required to be directly related to: FIREFIGHTING, FIRE MANAGEMENT, or FIRE ADMINISTRATION to qualify as a firefighter.. Most of our Regional Office and Washington Office positions WOULD NOT meet THIS CHALLENGE (and Law) as presented by the Title 5 and 5 CFR requirements.

Maybe this will light a FIRE under their a$$es to address proper classification ......... or loose their Firefighter Retirement coverage. GS-0401 is not the "fix".

The problem is..... THERE ISN'T A SERIES THAT ADDRESSES PRIMARY OR SECONDARY WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER DUTIES UNDER THE CURRENT OPM SYSTEM... THERE WAS UP UNTIL 1972......OPM was, and is, as confused as we were at our March 2003 meeting. We educated them. They educated us. OPM agreed. Agency representation is needed.

Contrary to what the agencies present as the public story and what they continue to tell us, OPM told us that OPM works FOR the federal agencies. OPM DOES NOT DIRECT THE AGENCIES as a few recent speakers at conferences have stated. If an Agency has a concern or problem, OPM will work to fix it..... but only if directed to fix it from the Agencies or the Congress, or the Administration.

FWFSA is working internally (USDA-FS and USDI-BLM and others) and within Congress to address these issues.

Every federal wildland firefighter has the right to proper classification, pay, and benefits.

3/12 Thanks to Ab and all the posters here.

I have been lurking for quite some time but wanted to post to say thanks.

And: Congrats to Norm and Mellie!

And, for Katie's post... please read her leave donation post on Juan.

Will have more to say later.

No Appropriate Name Yet.

Welcome. Glad yer here. Ab.
3/12 For Ryan Beyer:

As bad as it may sound, it's nice to see another paddler in my little creek. I must say I feel your frustration- and at least it's "just" your arm.

My advice is this: Get as many people pissed off about your situation as you can, and get them writing letters. Write them to the Senate, the House, the news, the Forest Supervisor where you were injured, whoever you can think of. I started the same thing last July, and eventually something happened last month. Right now I've got a couple of Congressional Inquiries goin' on, but those things take ALOT of time to come online, and even more time before something happens. Expect to get passed around alot. Expect to be told to submit one form, and when you do, expect to hear it was the wrong one, or it had the wrong (something) code on it, or they got it on the wrong day, or you used the wrong color ink. Keep at it. Do NOT give up, as that's what "they" hope you will do, and then they won't have to deal with you any more. Can't get ahold of your caseworker? Go up the chain. Keep going until you either find someone who can / will help, or they get so tired of hearing from you they do it anyway. Go to your local SO and ask to talk to the workman's comp person. Mine on the Plumas are helping me quite a bit. They know there's a problem, and they're trying to fix it. Part of the problem is that the folks in Washington (DC) don't know there's anything wrong with the whole comp system.

Suicide? Been there. I was there about an hour ago while I flopped around on the floor trying to get back in my wheelchair. (fell out of bed) I cannot tell you "It will get better" because in my experience it hasn't. But you do get used to it. I've made friends with it, but I'm still afraid to keep a gun in the house. (I've got my crossbow, as it's pretty hard to kill yourself effectively with one of those, and they reeeeally scare thieves.)

I can say that eventually you WILL get compensation. Mine took almost 2 years and there's still a few issues I'm fighting, but it has gotten alot better in the recent past. Bringing Senators and the local Comp folks online has helped alot. So don't despair too much, but settle in for a loooooong fight.

3/11 Ab

The Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest will be willing to donate a blue hard hat to Mr Heath. If he still needs one he can contact me on my cell phone. Let me know if he needs any other assistance... be glad to help.

Ryan Sundberg

Thanks Mystic Ranger District and Ryan. I'll pass your phone number along. Ab.
3/11 Dick, I am planning on attending the workshop based solely upon the description and content...

I plan on attending if "Uncle Sam" spots the bill or if I have to on my own... Even if I have to pay out of my own pocket. It's no different than paying for any other class over the last twenty years... It's just alot of us are looking at "upper division credits" now-a-days.... seems like a great workshop and educational opportunity either way......

3/11 Rogue Rivers - the "Managing the Unexpected" Workshop is sponsored by the USFS and NPS (and others), focusing on what "High Reliability Organizations " (HRO's), such as aircraft carrier landing crews, do to prepare for the inevitable glitches that show up in their high risk operations. This workshop will attempt to apply those lessons to prescribed burning and Fire Use fires, hoping to avoid another "Lauder" or "Cerro Grande" type event that could put all the wildland agencies out of prescribed burning for the next 10-20 years.

The target audience isn't just folks on the Fed side that are full-time in Fire: we're looking for line officers, State folks, The Nature Conservatory burners, County & Rural departments that burn, wilderness managers, etc.

This Workshop won't help you with your 2004 red card; it probably won't help Feds change job series. But for folks who really want to be fully professional in their prescribed fire or fire use jobs, it promises to be significant event in their careers. Karl Weick, who wrote the book "Managing the Unexpected" will be there the whole week; he's also authored major papers on "The Breakdown of Decision-making on Mann Gulch", "South Canyon Revisited: Lessons from High Reliability Organizations", and "Human Factors in Fire Behavior Analysis: Reconstructing the Dude Fire".

Just like going to Forestry School or TFM, the payoffs from attending this Workshop may not show immediate, short-term payoffs. But be assured that the long-term benefits will be with you for many years - and prescribed burns - ahead. Hope you can make it, even without upper-division college credits!

Dick Mangan

Karl Weick is good. Ab.

3/11 What are the new requirements for ICT3?

3/11 Dick Mangan,

If you would like to sell out the workshop (Ab, please add LINK to help Dick)..... offer some upper division credits from an accredited college. [This is a pdf file: "Managing the Unexpected in Prescribed Fire and Fire Use Operations" Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico on May 10-13, 2004.]

Right now, all of the managers are concentrated on taking classes that will get them into the new mandated 0401 series....... and classes that will help them abate the new ICT3 requirements.

If you can affiliate with OSU, ISU, CSU, Cal Poly, or a UC or CS college, you'll probably sell your classes out.

Rogue Rivers
3/11 Howdy Abs!

A few questions, if ya don't mind......

Why the heck are you paying for a Basic Academy Class?
Have you been offered a job?
Is this your particular Unit's method for selecting new employees?
Is this a Community College based CDF basic wildland fire class?
I'm not sure what is going on here, but you don't have to pay to apply with CDF!
What Unit are you applying to?
I'm very curious what the story is.
Anyway, good luck with the academy!

Captain Emmett
3/11 Ab,

What a great offer from Jim, I hope it's a good sign of things to come.

I wanted to write you back to clarify about the memorial. The memorial I'm working on is for all the fallen wildland firefighters, the style of helmet I'm looking for is my personal preference for reasons I'm sure you understand.

Thanks Again
3/11 Jim from The Supply Cache just contacted us. He's offered to supply a NEW full rim blue replacement helmet to the firefighter who is willing to donate their used one to the memorial Steve is making.

Thanks Jim.

Steve, is it a memorial for Shane?


The Supply Cache is the sponsor of the Links page if you want to check out the helmets or anything else.

3/11 Dear Ab,

Hello my name is Steve Heath, Jodi's husband and Shane's dad. I first would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the service and the personal time you took to talk to Jodi and to post her letter. The response was very helpful and the compassion from the wildland fire community was very heart felt. Thank You.

What I do need some help with, though, is I'm doing some work building a memorial for Vicki Minor at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and to complete it I'm trying to locate a full rim blue hard hat. I know I can buy a new one, but I'd much rather have a used one with the battle scars that wildland firefighters earn in their very dangerous profession.

I'm attaching a picture of Shane wearing, as he put it, his "old school helmet" which is what I'm looking for.

So if you would not mind getting the word out for me, that if someone would like to donate one to a very special memorial, it would be greatly appreciated. Ab, I would have no problem paying for the shipping if need be.

Please if you have any questions you can call me or reply by e-mail.


Steve, it's good to hear from you. Sorry for your loss. Shane and Jeff's deaths have touched us all.
Readers, anyone have a used full rim blue helmet to donate to a good cause? If you do, email us and I will forward it on. Ab.
3/11 Federal Firefighters: leave donation is needed for a Vista Grande Hotshot. Here's the message that is circulating behind the scenes. Katie says it's OK to post it as is. The fsweb is intranet, accessible only by FS personnel. If you are other fed, I think you can still donate leave time. Ab.

Juan Estrada has been approved as a leave donor recipient. For those of you that don't know Juan, he is a crew member on our VG Hot Shots. He has been diagnosed with cancer and is going though chemotherapy treatments now. He needs our help. To donate go to the following website and click on "Leave Donor Program". Click on Juan's name and a form will come up. Fill out the form and email it to me or print it and bring it to me. I will need to keep track of these forms and how much leave he gets. If you have any questions call me at (909) 382-2942.

Thanks a lot,

http://fsweb.cleveland.r5.fs.fed.us/operations/pay.php (internal Forest Service web)
3/11 Backburnfs:

Could you share the Blackwood document or a link to it for those of us who haven't seen it yet? As for your comments, I agree heartily with all but one part. That is personally for me I choose not to let them push me to the point of giving up my ICT3 quals through fear and intimidation. There is enough fear based decision making in the bureaucracy already. I also realize this is a personal choice for each person and I totally respect that.


FirenWater, you and others are looking for the document. It was short enough that we posted it yesterday morning (see below, scroll down to he one with the bullets) or hit Ctrl and F simultaneously and enter Jeff in the search space. Couple of returns should get you there. Some very thought provoking information. Ab.
3/11 to R5 from R3

This is paraphrasing the firefighter/U.S. military sayings, remember your fire shelter is built by the lowest bidder. Let the buyer be ware, in this case the end user, on that note have a Happ-Happ-Happy day.

Retired L.A.V.E.

3/11 Hello Ab,

I have been to your site numerous times and I like it it's cool. I have a question about getting on with a type III forest service rig anywhere in the us. The avuedigital service is not working for me. I am still 17 years old and I graduate in may and turn 18 in may. I really want to get on with a type III engine. I am a junior volunteer firefighter and love it. I took both 130/190 last year as a campcrew member in colorado. I love fighting both wildland and structure fires. I appreciate your taking your time to read this and I hope to hear from you soon.

Ernest Sanisya
3/11 Jeff Blackwood;

It was with great interest that I read your opinion paper "Where did all the IC 's Go". (Posted yesterday, 3/10.)

Having been a ICT3 since 1988 I can say that it has been (up till now) a good position to keep on my Red Card as it is a challenging position and keeps me on my toes when I get the chance to perform those duties.

My position no longer requires me to maintain an ICT3 qualification. I am seriously considering removing that qualification from my card, and your paper only served to further justify my feelings.

When someone in your position writes a paper documenting the feelings and perceptions that many of us with the responsibility to make decisions quickly and effectively in a high risk environment have, it makes me wonder why I should expose my family to the risk of loosing my job, if someone is seriously injured or killed on an incident that I am perceived to have TOTAL CONTROL over.

Last year an employee on your Forest expressed those same concerns and others in your annual IC meeting. It seems he was chastised for bringing these concerns and ideas to the forefront in a public forum and wound up resigning his position rather than compromise his values. The Forest Service and the fire service lost a valuable asset when he made that decision.

If a high level Forest Service manager has to write a opinion paper to try to affect some change in the way we treat our employees, it says to me that you have tried other methods of getting your peers and superiors attention regarding this problem, but your attempts have been ignored or given a nod and a grin and "thanks for your input, we will take that into consideration". It means that the organization is unresponsive, reactive vs proactive and untrustworthy. In the mean time the juggernaut continues on in a straight line course with a mission to cover the agency's ASSets.

We get the standard line "If you do EVERYTHING you are supposed to and are acting in the scope of your DUTIES, the agency will support you". This may have been true 10 or 15 years ago but it is not so today. The problem is that Everything and Duties become more unattainable everytime we have a serious incident or fatality.

The ICT3 recert is just the first of the changes coming from Cramer, I can't wait to see what is next. I am sure I won't be disappointed.

3/11 FSquirrel,

Having worked for both agencies, I'll tell you right now that CDF & the USFS are two totally different beasts. CDF probably fits more with what your brain thinks Fire Fighting is about if you come from LACo Explorers- uniforms, haircuts, clean shaving, etc. But it all depends what you're going for. With the USFS you'll probably travel a lot more & to different places- some people like this, others don't. Also, there's more & various advancement opportunities with the Feds- Hotshots, Helishots, Helirappellers, Handcrews, Jumpers, etc. whereas CDF is pretty much bread & butter Engine-type work, with some exception (ie Helitack @ some units & the Con Crews). Again, it depends what you're going for. The bad thing is that experience & quals don't really travel back forth between the agencies very well. CDF guys (for the most part) don't really care much what prior Federal experience you have, and the Feds just kinda shrug when you mention CDF, or at least that's been my experience. Check both out, see what you like & who hires you.

Oh, and as for your question about USFS stations- I'll have Ab drop you my email address (Ahem, Ab por favor....) and if you want I can snail mail you a 10 page listing of pretty much all the people who hire in R-5 that I downloaded from the old ASAP website 2 years ago before the Avue system was up & running. It breaks it down by forest, gives you a name, a phone #, a city, and module type.

Also, FYI, as someone who's been trying to get hired with a CA Hotshot crew, It's been my experience that 1) nobody will hire you unless they've met you 2) you need experience, and 3) you probably needed to start talking to someone well before now. Also, everyone seems to have a hard on for IHC crews when they first start, but there are plenty of quality crews out there who fight some good fire that don't have hotshot anywhere in the name. If you wanna be a hotshot at some later date, check out the MEL crews that dot various parts of the state. They will PT & work you to your heart's content, I promise.

Good luck.
-The Nomad
3/11 Good Day yall,

As fire season is almost here, some of us should be running, others still thinking where they want to work. Some thinking about boots, fire packs and training.

One of the question I have had is on fire shelters, I have got the chance at the wildfire 2004 show in reno last week to play with both the Storm King Mountain Technologies made by Roth and the new MTDC shelter, what is everyone going to wear on there belts this season, after playing with the MTDC dome shaped shelter and hearing what has been said.
Has MTDC really done their homework on this new shelter?
In high winds will this shelter fail?
Will the MTDC shelter delaminate?

It seems that this new shelter from my eyes looks really nothing more then an extra layer of foil on the outside.

> From everything that has been put out by MTDC on the new shelter why did they not go with the Storm King Mountain Technologies shelter, clearly it’s a better shelter!

Also on the sheer size of the Storm King Mountain shelter I did not like, it was a bit larger but also had a pull handle.

If USFS/BLM/ or even CDF firefighters want to wear a Storm King Mountain Technologies and spend our own money on a Storm King Mountain Technologies shelter what will have to happen? I never want to have to use a shelter but if I do its nice to know that I will have something that might protect my A$$ if need be.

Stay Safe,
R5 transplant from R3
3/10 LMH, the FS does not have age regs on temps. On the Klamath N.F. a couple of years ago they had a temp who was 60 years old on an engine. He was a retired city FF in excellent shape who did it for the fun of it, as he had a decent pension going.

Tahoe Terrie, the WILDLAND FF's on the Vandenberg Hotshots (DOD) have been authorized to use the 0081 federal firefighter series for their FF's, this is directly opposite of what the Washington Office HR guy told us at the Reno meeting. He said that the 0081 could only be used for structure FFs. Either he doesn't know what he's talking about, or he's lying, and either one is bad.

About transitioning into the 401 series: Who will run the fire depts on the Forests while the FMOs are gone back to school?? The ADFMOs that supposedly aren't qualified because they don't have degrees. With all of the vacancies at the FMO, ADFMO, and Captain level now, how are these going to be filled?? I see more unfilled FMO and ADFMO jobs, especially at the more remote or undesirable locations. So the people that aren't supposed to be qualified just have to act in the FMO jobs until they're filled, but don't get the pay grade to do it.

- MJ

P.S. Congrats again, Mellie

MJ, lets assume he wasn't lying. (Did you hear the presentation by Dr. Gilmartin? Gotta watch that cynicism.)

Maybe Fedfire could fill us in on what exactly is expected for engine crews in the 0081 Series. The Vandenberg Shots may be a real exception. Ab.

3/10 I believe that FS fire service should be apart from the rest of the FS. Firefighters are not fill-in labors for the FS to use for any old job on the forest. The firefighters are highly trained professionals with technical equipment. You can not take a person from behind a office desk to do the firefighter's job.

I joined the FS fire service to fight fires and respond to other emergencies! NOT to go out and count sticks in the woods or chase little animals around!

I believe that if we firefighters do not stand up for ourselves, we might as well start looking for a new job.

3/10 Two more reports out recently on the 2003 Southern California Fire Siege. The CDF fire siege review.

The San Diego County Grand Jury report recommending regional fire protection and helicopters can be found at Fire Report

As a side note, we would be in Red Flag conditions today in Southern California if not for the rains last week and the increase in fuel moisture. strong Santa Ana winds, 82 degrees and RH of 21%.

Contract County Guy
3/10 Attached is the REVISED announcement for the "Managing the Unexpected in Prescribed Fire and Fire Use Operations" Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico on May 10-13, 2004.

We have extended the application period until MARCH 22nd to give everyone a chance to see this flyer and apply if interested.

Please forward this on to the folks on your mailing lists in order to get the widest possible dissemination.

As they say in Santa Fe: "Gracias, amigos!!"

Dick Mangan
3/10 LMH,

I got a call for an interview with CDF for the 24th for the same position. Maybe you are the man, and they are giving you the job based on your glowing application! Post if you get the job, let us know how it goes.

FSquirrel (maybe CDFSquirrel)
3/10 LMH;

I’m not CDF, but half my crew is your age. More power to ya.

Nerd on the Fireline
3/10 Hey Cap,

Thanks for the response. This is the situation: I’m currently a full time f/f for the DoD in SoCal with over a decade of service, a couple of hitches in the Corps under my belt and I happen to be 39. I can still push out an 8.5 minute mile and can hold my own in the weight room. Anyhow, I dropped an application into the local CDF office in January for the Firefighter I position. Well, I was notified the other day that they’re starting up an academy in April and I have until 1300, 12 March to deliver the Basic Academy Application form (with a check for $280.00). Needless to say I’ve got numerous questions running through my head, like What happened to the interview? Is completion of the f/f I training followed by a job offer? And what is the usual length of time from a seasonal to permanent position? Is the States’ fiscal mess going to put the screws to full time hirings?

My wife thinks I’m on crack but is supporting my decision 100%. I plan on contacting the asst. training officer and barrage him/her with questions. Thanks for your time.

3/10 LMH
The oldest FF1 in my unit is a 48 year old guy with 25 or 26 seasons under his belt.

We did have a FF1 who reached the age of 54 before he promoted to another unit as an engineer. I don't recall how many seasons he worked prior to promoting.

We seem to have a large group of FF1 in their mid to late 30's and early 40's.

Captain Emmett
3/10 Have to join in on the firefighter series issue....I agree about the fear line officers have of centralizing fire in any form. I have experienced it on my forest. It's not just line officers either...Heck many fire folks are against centralizing, much less removing fire from the agencies all together. This concept really strikes at some folks core values and it will take alot of time and debate before it can happen (or maybe an act of congress...literally).

But a wildland fire series is a different beast and is supported quite strongly by fire folks in the field in all agencies. Lobotomy, I grew up with some of those W.O. people and I know they had sense once and are probably doing the best they can, but their actions don't tell us they are in touch with reality much. Lest people forget, the whole 401 series thing came out of Thirty Mile as a way to "fix" those damn fire managers that keep screwing up and killing people and turn them into educated "resource managers" because that whole fire culture is so exclusive and if we make them get an education they will be more like us "professionals".

Why don't they (and we) really try to get to the bottom of the firefighter series in an open and above board way? What if some fancy study group was formed with people from all levels (not just someone's good ole boy buddies) and looked at the whole enchilada and had alternatives (god knows we are good at analyzing alternatives) comparing the current 401 thing to having a separate wildland fire series and maybe even another alternative or 2. Bring OPM into the discussion too. Why not get the real pro's and cons on the table for the better understanding of everyone?

Well that's all for now. Gotta get to it.

3/10 Regarding the Centralized Fire issue.....

The LPF (R5) is getting ready to lose it's centralized fire organization. The forest supervisor has convened a "panel" that has made recommendations on a "altered fire organization". The final decision will be made within 2 weeks. Whatever "organization" is selected, sounds like the Division Chiefs will go back to working for the District Rangers. Two additional Division Chiefs have already been hired and re-alignment of the three division organization has already taken place to put the fire organization back to the old five district organization.

A giant step backwards....

3/10 XXX Rated News:

I've often been credited/accused of having "green underwear", based on my long-standing pride of having been affiliated with the USFS, but this really sets me off:

an article in a local newspaper today details that the former Regional Forester from R-1 (Northern Rockies) lost the confidence of Chief Dale Bosworth after USFS investigators found that he had "used a government-issued laptop and desktop computers to access pornography."

So, what did Chief Dale do??? Well, he "voluntary" demoted Brad from the Senior Executive Service (SES) to only a measly GS-15, and appointed him as Coordinator of the National Fire Leadership Council... not in Washington, DC but in Phoenix, Arizona. Poor Brad!!!

Guess we know where the Fire Program sits in the eyes of the Chief???


Aberdeen and readers, just so you know, the XXX in the subject line relegated this post to the trash bin. Luckily I checked the trash this morning it befoe deleting. Ab.

3/10 Ab, received this in my e-mail to-day, initially it was sent to all the forest sups in r-6, or so it seems by the header information, it is a good read. WP

Ab Note: I just talked with Jeff and he gave permission for us to post this. As he says, context and intent are everything. Jeff asked me to preface this piece with the following:

I have a deep concern for the Agency. My intent in writing this was to expand the discussion with the idea
of having a fuller and richer communication of issues, to bring people together and decrease divisiveness.

Thanks, Jeff, that is also the purpose of this forum.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Where Did All The Incident Commanders Go?
An Opinion
Jeff Blackwood , 02/04

If we are not thoughtful in our responses to incidents where things go badly, one day soon we will look around and ask ourselves, “Where have all the ICs gone?”

As an agency, we respond to things that go wrong by reviews, analysis, and developing more processes and requirements while prescribing accountability and penalties. We anticipate that it will make things better. This may be helpful and necessary, but it is not the full answer if we are truly committed to a sustainable approach to dealing with wildland fire safety. These typical responses deal with the process and legal ends of things, but what of the human end?

When I meet with our ICs at the field level, I see more and more frustration, and outright fear. They ask why should they be an IC? Where is the agency support? What will happen to them and their families if anything bad happens? Who can they trust? Are they being set up by mandatory training and processes, so if something goes wrong, the agency can say that the Forest Service did our part – the IC or the line officer just did not do hers/his? They understand accountability – they are concerned and fearful of agency reactions and support. Even though the track record does not necessarily bear these fears out, believe me, they are there. You can see it in their eyes and feel it in their questions. The simple fact is that the playing field has changed, and we need them more than they need us.

These are real life responses to serious concerns. We as an agency tend to focus on providing the framework within which people should operate. We train and train, but is there more?

I suggest there is. I suggest there are several things we need to do to provide incentives and support to the ICs for them to be successful. It is only when they succeed that our agency is successful. Consider:

  • We invest heavily in technical training. We invest little in the art of decision-making. The kinds of decisions ICs make are not normal bureaucratic decisions. They are literally under fire. How well do we understand this, and provide the support, training and trust that recognizes the uniqueness, complexities, and difficulties of these situations?

  • We have top down reviews of programs. We need reviews from practitioners. Do we ask local ICs to critique processes and requirements we set on their shoulders? Do we ask them what is needed for a safe and effective program? Do we actually use that feedback? Maybe locally, but not much further.

  • When was the last time that we saw a national letter of support for the ICs, recognizing the difficult and important job they do? It is more common to just give them a letter with a long list of agency expectations.

  • Have we considered incentives for ICs? Have we asked them what would be useful to them? Many Type 3 and larger ICs are not in primary fire positions. It would be easy for them to say the press of business elsewhere is more important.

  • Could we more effectively single out ICs for tailored leadership training in a way that develops their skills, and doesn’t just leave them with a list of expectations?

  • Put yourself in the shoes of an IC. You are responding to an incident and are responsible for the life and safety of everyone involved, plus a host of other things. This is an awesome responsibility. How many of us have done this lately? Are there ways to help the ICs with this pressure? I assure you that another form to fill out or another certification program won’t do this.

  • Many of our fires are multi-jurisdictional. Some of the other jurisdictions do not necessarily endorse or support our process requirements. The IC has to make that work in real time, under heavy pressure, with real lives at stake. How many of us have to do this?

  • How many of you are line officers, ultimately responsible for everything that occurs on a Forest? If things are not 100%, there are many who know how to “make it better”. And, by the way, make sure all your targets are met.

I am not suggesting we change our standards or accountability. There are good and legally based reasons for them. What I am suggesting is there is a human element here – a need to invest in the arts and sciences of building decisional capability, of creating trust, and developing incentives for people to want to be ICs. It would be easy to say that this is the kind of leadership we should practice locally, and we do. What I see as missing is the national link to these principles. How often we forget that our agency is only as good as the people we employ. To employ good people, we need to be a good outfit that not only provides a safe and supportive work environment, but also the trust that is the basis for any relationship.

As we continue with the aftermath of South Canyon, Thirty-Mile, and now Cramer, we need to deal with the human side as well as the process side. There needs to be good reasons, based on trust, that make the job of an IC worth the risks that grow everyday. On this Forest, we average 130 wildland fires a year. There are 130 times that things can go wrong. We depend on the ICs to make them go right. Their motivation and character keep us in the game. I write these words not to be critical, but to stimulate a more rounded approach in positioning us all in reducing the incidents where bad things happen. My heart is with the Forest Service, and with the wonderful people who make it work.

I do not want to be a line officer watching a fire going over the hill, wondering - where have all the ICs gone?

3/10 I would like to pass on my personal best wishes and congratulations to both Mellie and Norm for their Awards at the Reno meeting, well deserving recipients.

Fedfire I will contact Dan and see what he says, I know another reader has already suggested he post a few here. I will also dig in the dusty garage files and see what I might have in the way of photos on FSrig paint schemes.

Be safe folks the temps are headed up and fire season isn't too far round the corner.


It would be nice to have some photos of vintage engines. Heard the other day that AZ is expected to pop soon. One friend in Tucson said they had been having 80 degree days. Ab.
3/10 Quick comment on the 401 Series. A couple of guys who finished their Masters Degrees in Biology with an emphasis on Natural Resources at HSU called me over the weekend. They were wanting info on fire and OPM to apply for a 401 job in Humboldt Co. Basically the job they had found was one of the FMO jobs on the Six Rivers National Forest. When I told them that it wasn't a biology job, but a wildland firefighter job, they were dumbfounded.

"Why not have firefighter jobs listed as firefigher jobs?" asked the first.
"No wonder the government has a bad rap for efficiency," commented the second.

I have to agree with them. Just think of all the biologists who must waste time chasing down an irrelevant firefighter job under Series 401. Think of the time Boise wastes sorting out the irrelevant applicants. The little interchange was amusing for me, but they were a little pissed. (I recruited them as letter writers of the future, if we need more letters.)

Mellie <chuckling> <shaking her head>

3/9 For everyone who is inquiring about the fall SoCal Siege, South Ops has a good archive site with links to the various fires.

NorCal Tom

3/9 Maverik, Amazement, Tahoe Terrie and other interested readers:

NOT ONE of the more than 30 OPM Job Series offering firefighter retirement gives credit for NWCG courses, experience and performance as a Wildland Firefighter.

The real concern for Foresters and Line officers with a Professional Wildland Firefighter series is that firefighters would be "Stovepiped" or centralized and lost to the Forest Service workforce as the LEOs were some years ago. The Regional Forester in R-5 made it clear at the Division Chief's Meeting, "No more centralized Fire organizations" in R-5.

We should continue to educate the Regional Foresters and the Washington Office folks about what a "Wildland Firefighter" Series would really mean. It would provide Position Descriptions and a clear Career Path within one OPM Series that reflects the complexity of education, training and experience needed to manage our forests with wildfire, fire use, prescribed fire and fuels reductions in the mix.

Think of it, a series that also describes today's all-risk/urban interface Wildland Firefighter, a person who can accomplish resource management objectives as well as other duties on the WUI.

As Amazement said, this is a separate issue from having a centralized fire force.

Congressional assistance is available.

I can assure you the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association is working toward a "Professional Wildland or Natural Resources Management Series".


3/9 Hey CDF,

What is the oldest seasonal f/f that you've seen or worked with?


3/9 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated.

There's a new contractor listing on the Jobs page -- ProInc out of Twin Falls, ID. They have a contract with the Sawtooth NF at six different stations.


3/9 For all those trying to get hired in R5 here's an opportunity to go meet some people. www.beardivide.4mg.com/jobfair/jobfair.phpl
I'll definitely be there just like last year, hopefully I'll have better luck this year!!


And don't miss their photos of their engines: www.beardivide.4mg.com/
3/9 Has anyone given any thought to what numbers the hoped-for professional wildland firefighter (natural resources) series might be?

Tahoe Terrie
3/9 Job info from our local newspaper......

USFS Plumas Nat Forest
Job fair open house

March 13, 2004
10am to 4pm

Feather River Ranger Station
875 Mitchell Ave
Oroville Ca

for more info (530) 534-6500 ask for Fire Management

3/9 To FSquirrel:

Try the Wild CAD links and click on Resource status. A Forest map helps:


3/9 Thank you to everyone for their replies. I greatly appreciate the information. :)

As far as my explorer experience goes, I have been an explorer for a little over a year now. I only have a little experience...so. Our department, however, cross-trains in everything pretty much. You respond to any type of call (med aids, fires, gas leaks, TCs, etc). If you get a commercial fire, you jump on the truck/aerial ladder and respond on that. If you get a HazMat incident, you take the HazMat rig. If you get a brush fire, you take the brush engine. You get a wide variety of experience and I love that. Unfortunately, explorers mostly train for structure fires. We have not done any training in regards to wildland firefighting.

The only other experience that I have is the paid-call academy, hazmat cert, emt, and a few other certs. I wish that I would have taken some wildland classes. Though I am still interested in learning and taking classes about it now :)

Fireweasel, the department that I recently applied for said that they are hoping to get some medical staffing and that would be a good position for me, since I have my EMT (and the main person doesn't even have his emt cert). How did you like doing the EMT stuff on the frontline? It sounds like it would be very rewarding/ fun. Thank you for the info on the pack test.

The safety class that I am going to attend....I'm not sure the title of it. All I know is that it's an 8-hour course, talking about firefighter safety. What to do, what not to do. We get to practice deploying fire shelters and so forth. It's not a pass/fail, grade class, it's a simple take it to have the class in case anyone on a CDF fire asks to see your card (??)...

Thank you to everyone else who responded with their opinions on the difference of structure and wildland firefighting. I think I may take this path and see if I like it or not. Also, thanks for the info on the pack test, I'm working on getting physically fit for it (lots of walking!) :)

Stay safe all
3/9 FSquirrel,

Go here for R5 shot crew information www.californiahotshotcrews.org/. As for getting hired w/o any line experience, I couldnt say, but I would surmise that at least in small part it would depend on the crew that is hiring and how many quality applicants they have. I got hired on a shot crew my first season with only one fire under my belt on an AD crew....but that was back when the typical lead "chainsaw" on a crew was a brush hook.

3/8 To all those that have posted replys, thank you from the bottom of my heart! I feel so much better knowing people like you are there for support. Please, anyone that can give me any more info feel free to e-mail me at divindeep1@msn.com. I wish a safe fire season this year for all! I wont give up and let the government win !!!!!!!

God Bless You
Ryan Beyer


pssst, Ryan, most of us are the govt in one form or another... but we know what you mean. Ab.
3/8 For all of us folks trying to get our foot in the door:
Does anyone know of a website with station listings so we can do some visiting (specifically in R5)?
I could still use advice on the shot interview (see previous post) if someone would be so kind.
By the way everyone thanks for the education!


What he asked before:
I am going to meet a captain at a hotshot crew, I have had no prior experience on the line, but I have been through fire academy and was an explorer with LaCoFD for four years. Will they still only hire experienced folks? Thank you all in advance for the education you've given this lurker/ Future pounder.
3/8 ffgirlie,

The Firefighter safety class for CDF fires is probably the Basic Training Class (aka 67 hour class). It covers everything you need to attempt to not kill yourself. It briefly covers structure and wildland safety.

Unfortunately CDF does NO physical ability test for the seasonal forces. We only do a VERY basic Respiratory Protection physical examination that involves going to a nurse-practitioner for an eye check, hearing, lung capacity and vital signs. Almost nobody fails it, no matter how bad shape you are in. And if you get hired permanently you only have to pass the Not-strenuous physical ability test ONCE at the date of hire.

FC 180
3/8 Information is now on the web for Missouri Summer Fire School & Midwest Wildfire Training Academy


3/8 Ryan Beyer-

In reading your e-mail I want to say from a federal employee- thank you for your help on Hayman. I am eternally sorry that you have been put in such a horrid position. I was in Denver doing training the first week of Hayman and remember the community's fear.

From a personal standpoint I see a desperate cry for help. I do not know what to do other than say maybe we, as the wildland community, can try a letter writing campaign on your behalf like it was done for Krs earlier this year in regards to your work comp claims. You have been through a ton in the last two years, surgery itself is a lot to deal with by itself.

As to the battling of depression- that is a horrid thing to endure. A book I've found useful in my life is Talking to Depression: Simple Ways to Connect When Someone in Your Life is Depressed by Claudia J. Strauss, Martha Manning (it can be found on amazon.com). It may help both yourself and your wife. www.suicide.com offers some free counseling services both via phone and the internet. I'm not saying I have any answers since I'm battling the same dragon as we speak but I know these resources are keeping me here now. If you ever need to just vent the Abs can give you my e-mail.

Praying for you,
3/8 To Ryan Beyer,

Are you a federal employee? or were you on a mutual aid run from a municipal department? If you were a federal employee, then you need to go through the union (if you have one) and have them help you file a grievance and retain legal services for you. If you were from a municipal department on mutual aid, then you need to go after your employer and seek Workman's comp through your state and I would still retain a lawyer. I say this because if you were municipal, your department pays into Workman's comp for you, and they should handle your claim whether you're hurt on a federal fire or not. We had a firefighter hurt on a mutual aid call to our department (which is federal) and I know that his city and the state paid for his Workman's comp. If you want, you can shoot me a e-mail to grunt82abn@yahoo.com and I could see what the steps are to your problem. I don't know if I can help you solve your problem, but I maybe able to help you find a different avenue of approach to attack this problem.


Thanks for the info and assistance. Ab.
3/8 Ryan, regarding no-cost psychological services and other issues...

Most areas in the United States have a County Social Services organization that provides crisis counseling and crisis assistance 24 hours a day. If you look in the phone book under County Government Offices under Human Services, you can usually find a hotline. If your situation is not an immediate crisis but you need a psychologist or counselor, you can call Social Services and set up an appointment. They will do a needs assessment with you and tailor services to match your needs. Usually such an interview falls during the regular work hours Mon thru Fri so give a call ahead. Some info to expedite the process could also be provided on the phone. The point is, there are some psychological services available in most areas for the short and longer term without cost.

Another source of support is your local church, temple, meeting, or other religious or spiritual group. Ministers/ priests/ rabbis/ other clergy are trained to help people through difficult, apparently uncontrollable times. Even if you are not a member of a church or religious group, you might consider seeking counsel there anyway. It is my experience that you will not be turned away.

You should know that depression can be a medical disorder. (Short to longer term imbalance of hormones which are also neurotransmitters.) Sometimes the human body can change its mental/ physical state if you can get about solving your survival (or other) problems. As you probably know, you feel better if you can get information and start making a plan. Sometimes working with exercise and diet helps. Some people find support from their extended family and feel uplifted by their religious community. Social connections are very important. But sometimes recovering from depression requires taking drugs for the short or longer term.

Like you, I'm recovering from yet another surgery and have a bad arm. I've found that rhythmic activities like walking, dancing, and slow stretching are good, whatever my arm will allow. Fresh air and sunshine or rain help, whatever the elements. It's strange, but sometimes working through the pain is even a challenge I welcome. I feel that if I can do something about the things I can actually control like diet and exercise, I come out ahead. I also feel like I have an unlimited amount of spiritual support.

Having a sense of control of critical aspects of our lives is important. We each have things we can control and things we have absolutely no control over. As Ab says, sh*t happens. Right now you may feel you have no control over your financial affairs with the government and what you've done doesn't seem to be working. Very frustrating especially when it challenges your breadwinning role and impacts your family. Maybe someone here will have more or different ideas on what to do next with the government. I approach the things I can't control the way I think about approaching wildfire. I make a plan based on what I think the fire behavior will be and then figure out the LCES of the situation. Basically, I think about uncontrollable things when I must... to make an IAP... and I gather a supportive crew, but I try not to think about the uncontrollable things at other times, just focus on cutting the piece of line at hand. In other words, while maintaining situational awareness, I refuse to dwell on the negatives. (Sometimes this rational approach is hard to do if you are "clinically depressed". Trying to just "change your mind" and "not dwell on the negative" when you have a physical/ medical depression disorder is almost impossible.)

Most of us experience depressive symptoms at some time in our lives. If you're feeling blue or suicidal or depressed for more than 2 weeks at a time, you do need to seek help. It's usually easier to find solutions for the other problems of life like house payments and family if you have a positive non-depressed mental state.

I hope someone else reading here has some practical, non-psychological information to offer you to help you make a plan and achieve more psychological and real control. It seems that the problems injured firefighters have in dealing with the governmental bureaucracy is widespread and pervasive. As you find your way toward a solution, please let us know what worked. Good luck.


3/8 ffgirlie

Depending on the amount of training you have done with the Explorers it should help quite a bit. I was an Explorer for 5 years prior to going into the forest service, and the training I got from the explorers prepared me for the training I got from the FS. To tell you the truth, my first year with the forest service I was put in charge of all medical aids because I was the only EMT on the crew, I was also the lead for structure fires (if we were ever to get one) because I had the most structure training and experience than the rest of the crew. So being in the explorers really helped me out. But that is the FS not CDF or BLM. CDF does a lot more structure than FS, so they are more well trained in the matter. I'm not too sure about the CDF class but like others have said it's probably like the S-110/S-130/S-190 courses. You could read up if you like. There are a few wildland manuals out there that would be a good reference and guide. I'm sure Ab has some listed in the fire books site. As far as the pack test is concerned, train, train, train. The pack test is hard. It's harder on shorter people than on taller. Just remember you have to keep a minimum pace of 4 mph, and you can't run. Hope I was of some help.

3/8 What's this I hear or read about Mellie... an award.....OUTSTANDING.....

I can't speak for others, BUT I think we all feel the same... Mellie had been not only a great web friend, but a great asset for all of us in the wildland side of fire fighting. To have someone who has been bitten by the fire bug and then have that bite turn into a passion for both structure and wildland fire fighting is outstanding. And to see this love and support, grow into what is has, in such a short time of two or three years (or has it been longer then that?), is something to behold.

Congrats Mellie


5+ years! Ab.
3/8 FFgirlie,

I’m a volunteer firefighter with a mixed structure/wildland department…I might be able to answer some of your questions. I’m not familiar with the fire explorer designation, but I figure it’s similar to the fire cadet system we have. Structure is to wildland firefighting what a bachelor’s degree is to a career; it may not actually teach you anything directly applicable, but it proves you’re trainable. Have you had S-130/190 (Operations and Beginning fire behavior)? That’s kind of your starting point. The pack test is hard. I don’t know anybody who claims it’s easy. Start training NOW, because you’ll have to take it no matter who you’re fighting wildland fire with. Get your time down, then start upping the weight. I recommend a side order of serious push-ups, too. Sets of twenty, Marine-style. The other side of that is that the pack test is a pretty realistic representation of the level of physical exertion wildland fire is going to take.

Now, is wildland more challenging than structure? Doing both, I’d say it’s like apples and oranges. Structure takes it out of you…you don’t actually DO as much as you would in wildland, and you certainly don’t do it for as long, but structure takes more straight-up strength, and the extra effort of breathing through apparatus wipes you out. The longest structure fire I’ve been on lasted just shy of six hours, though…and wildland you’ll be going for sixteen, then getting up and doing it again the next day. Given the choice, I’ll go to a wildland fire before a structure fire, but I’d rather fight a wildland fire the day after a structure fire than the other way around. Tips? Read every wildland book you can get your hands on, talk to everybody you can, and look at the crew pictures on this site…if you look at, say, the Union IHC picture on Crews 2 and think “Man, I wanna do that!”, start training now, and you’ll be fine. And listen to the war stories from old timers. Learn from their paranoia and their mistakes, it makes for good situational awareness. Good luck!

Nerd on the Fireline
3/8 ffgirlie,

I started my fire career in 1979 as an Explorer Scout on the East Coast and think that it is a great program. I am now on a career department and a volunteer department in the town where I live. I got sidetracked briefly and went into the military and took on some other jobs, and I am here to tell ya that being a firefighter is the best job in the world, structural or wildland. I am fortunate enough to belong to a career municipal department that has an extremely strong wildland background and supplies the FS with everything from FF/EMT's to Crew Bosses to Division Sups to Overhead Team Members.

To answer your questions, I am not from Cal, so I cannot say with surety what the CDF ff safety class is all about but I would be willing to bet that it is similar to the S-100/130/190 wildland classes that entry-level ff's take in other parts of the country. These classes teach you everything from your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to recognizing weather and fire behavior. Usually, if an organization is willing to put you through these classes they are prepared to invest in your training for a possible position. As far as it being fun, that is up to you. Some of the material is a little dry but for the most part I have found that every class I have taken in the fire service has been fun. Being brand new to this aspect of firefighting, it should really be interesting for you. Meeting other people with similar interests and career goals is also alot of fun. These classes are the cornerstone for all of your future wildland endeavors, so pay attention, participate and have fun.

As far as the pack test goes, there are alot of variables that will affect your degree of success. First of all your level of physical fitness will be the biggest part of passing or failing. Only you know your fitness level and if you have any doubts, go out and throw on a 45 lb pack and do some training. Secondly, your attitude and drive will be a big factor. Go into it with the attitude of giving110% and don't give up. Truthfully, some people find it fairly easy and some find it hard. Unfortunately you will not know how it will be for you till you get there.

I do know that some events in structural firefighting will tax you physically for short to medium lengths of time. Wildland firefighting is also physically taxing, but typically for longer periods of time, so your endurance is very important. Your Explorer background will prepare you for certain aspects of the Wildland side of firefighting, especially working as a member of a team and the rank structure of that team. When I was in the Explorers we were training almost exclusively for structural; probably because we lived in an urban area with no Wildland Interface, so in my experience, Wildland was a whole new world. Don't be surprised if you get bitten by the Wildland bug while you "are waiting to get picked up by your department" and find yourself 10 years down the road still doing the Wildland thing and loving it. I would encourage you to sit down and come up with a goal for yourself of where you want to be in 5 to 7 years and start laying out a roadmap to your success. Once that roadmap is in place don't let yourself take any detours until you are there.

Anyway, good luck to you. I wish I could have given you more specific answers but maybe there is someone else out there that can help too.


A general roadmap yes, but if you're going for structural firefighting, allow that you might get turned completely by wildland fire. We think that's the best career around. Ab.
3/7 Hey Onelick,

I gave those Emmitsburg Memorial photos to someone who can use them in a powerpoint. Send me an email so I can tell you more. I don't have your email addy.


3/7 No End to the Amazement

I agree with what you had to say. We as FS firefighters are being snowballed by the WASO. In today's world we have just as many professional duties as a structural department. The day of the "Forestry tech" is over for fire, we are professional. And this pertains to the lowest GS level to the highest in fire. Our firefighters are trained for almost any emergency there is, from wildland and structure fire to 9-11 and the space shuttle disaster.

We, as employees, need to band together and make our voices be heard. I believe that if we do not band to together we will be out-sourced like the mechanics in R5.

I was told that the FS is backing blindly into all-risk. This scares me. It mean that the FS is hiding from the future instead of preparing for it. This action may cause FS firefighter to get hurt or even killed in the line of duty.

Again let me say that we must come together and let our voices be heard from the top of the FS to the bottom.

3/7 Can't sit still without speaking up any longer.

At the Division Chiefs meeting this past week we had the "pleasure" of hearing from an impromptu speaker from the W.O. on the new 401 classification standards and the plans for implementation for all fire management GS 9's and up. (Sorry didn't catch his name, but I think he was a classification guy, not a fire guy, but not sure.) Here's the dead serious guts of the points he tried to pull over our eyes:

  1. This won't create a glass ceiling. It will make it easier for all of us that want to become GS-15's or even be the Chief of the Forest Service.
  2. We're doing this because OPM made us do it.
  3. This will make firefighters everywhere so much better resource managers, how can we resist?

AHEM….(Clearing throat loudly) I'm so choked up I can't tell you how touched I was.


The presentation was quite the sell job. The implementation plan has been changed favorably to a 5-10 year timeline instead of 3, which everyone was grateful for (giving them a crumb to draw attention away from the REAL story, but wait! There's more!).

THEN the speaker was confronted by a person in the audience who pointed out that

  • the nature of wildland firefighting has changed in the last 20 years or so, AND that
  • much of the federal wildland fire service is now as close to a fire department as many of our structural brothers and sisters, AND that
  • firefighting is no longer a part-of-the-year job, AND that
  • we simply want to be recognized as the fire professionals we are, AND that
  • a single fire series can cover technician as well as professional requirements, AND that
  • there are 10 or more different series out there for firefighters so how does the 401 series fix that?, AND that
  • OPM would be listening if the agencies at the Washington level supported this concept, AND
  • wildlife biologists and archeologists to name a few have their own series that covers tech and professional positions so how is that different than fire?

Whew, I'm breathing again. I think I remembered most of the points. In a show of agreement the audience broke into a huge round of applause.

How did the speaker answer? He said the person was right. The WO IS against a separate fire series because they don't support stove-piping fire so we are stuck with the 401 series. Get used to it.

Stove piping fire??????? Since when did common, consistent and accurate position descriptions equate to stove piping fire? Biologists and Archeologists aren't stove-piped. Could this be evidence of a blind spot of paranoia in our upper management?? Do they really think having a standard fire classification series will lead to a stove-piped organization…. or even worse (gasp) a separate federal fire service????

Well, well. I think I may have touched on a raw (or rotten) spot. A federal fire service is certainly a whole separate issue and discussion. But somehow a fire series seems to be linked in the minds of the WO and many line officers (the R5 Regional Forester had a disparaging comment about not wanting to separate fire from the "rest of us" creating a fire culture where all we do is polish our engines).

I'm gonna breathe for a moment. I hear this forum is viewed by quite a few on the planet of Washington D.C. Maybe some of you can add to this thread and help me reach out and do our best to lead up into infinity.

Sign me: No End to the Amazement

No End to the Amazement,
From the 12/31/04 post from Lobotomy: There are more than 30 job series that receive firefighter retirement coverage. I believe there are 2 additional series under aviation, but I couldn't find the reference. Ab.

3/7 CRM is *not* Cultural Resource Management as noted by Ab a couple of posts down. At least not in this context. CRM is referring to Crew Resource Management. It was developed in the 70's by the airline industry to combat a growing number of 'pilot error' crashes. The basic principle of CRM is that everyone from the top to the bottom has a voice in safety. Sound familiar? Here's the best link I could find with a definition. www.raes-hfg.com/reports/crm-now.php


PS Congrats Norm!!

Thanks Fish, I corrected it. Ab.
3/7 I ran across the "TheySaid" page and absolutely love the questions/answers given. They are very helpful, thank you. :)

I was wondering a few things though and hope that your expertise could help. :) I just recently applied for a department that does mainly volunteer work and wildland firefighting (It's a paid on-call station). The person instructed me to be at a class, gave me the time and date. (I hope that means I will get a position?) The class is the firefighter's safety class for CDF fires. What do they teach in this class? Is it interesting, fun, informational? Should I read or study anything ahead of time? Also, if I apply for BLM or CDF, how hard is the pack test? It "sounds" easy, but we all know how things sound easy and usually end up being hard. :) Any helpful tips? Thank you very much. :)

I also had a question in regards to your personal opinion... I know city/structure firefighting is a lot different than wildland firefighting. I have been a fire explorer for a little over a year now and am hoping to get picked up by the department soon. However, until then I am trying to get into wildland firefighting. Will any of my explorer knowledge help me with wildland stuff or are they 2 complete different things? Is wildland firefighting a lot more physically challenging?

Thank you for all your help!

3/7 Good Afternoon All,

Thanks so much for the award, Wildland Firefighter Foundation (Vicki Minor, Director) and wildland firefighters.

Those of you who were at the Chief Officer's Conference when John Wendt made the presentation, I'm sure you could tell how much this award means to me. WOW. I was nervous and almost speechless/ choked up, and it's hard to get me to the speechless state! Geez, I've presented scientific research before huge crowds and not been nervous. Guess I really cared about this. Thank you so much for the standing ovation. I will remember that moment my whole life! Honor Guard, you gave a fine presentation as usual. Many a teary eye after that. Hard to believe it's only been 5 years that you've been in operation. Look at all the good you've done for all of us in fire and all the families who have needed you!

The statue, it's so beautiful... and heavy, very heavy, solid brass... Guess it set off some alert bells on the way home. Reno airport checkers opened my luggage before they let me check it and a note in my bag said they opened it again in San Francisco. (It's good I had my dirty underwear in a plastic bag! I did think about making it a little more interesting for them, but wrapped the statue in pants and a sweatshirt instead. <chuckle> Rax, I know you would have gone the more interesting route!)

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard on the conferences. Good job, lots of work, smooth ppt presentations for the most part. (When does that essential media guy retire anyway? Hope he's training up a replacement!)

Congratulations to Norm for being awarded the Cal Yarborough Award, and thanks to Dave Kohut for his stories and images honoring Pat Cooney who died of cancer last year. I feel lucky to have met Pat and heard about the beginning of the Cal Yarborough Award. Special man. Special award. Pat and Cal were good friends. There was talk of creating a museum of the SoCal FS old stuff which is sitting in boxes somewhere and includes some of their joint history. I hope that happens. Remembering the past is important.

Speaking of the past:
Gordon King, it was and honor to meet you and sit with you at the luncheon -- and to hear more of your stories. You should lurk here on theysaid and write in if you feel like it. Questions, comments, it's all good. Ab keeps people civil for the most part if they stray.

DF, I won't go into what I did to earn that award. <laughing> Seems I was just doing my job(s). My thanks did cover all the bases you described and then some.

Original Ab <smooch>, Pulaski, Old Fire Guy, Doug, DF, Hickman, Hunter, Firewhirl, Sting, BLM Bob, 6, Cache Queen, DW, Dick and all the others who trained me up via this forum, THANKS. (Oh, you helped educate me too Lobotomy; you've always provided such good info, well almost always, until you start picking on statisticians. You should know, I was in search of you during the entire conference. I think you stayed one jump ahead of me. Were you afraid of the "reprimand" on behalf of the statisticians that I had to deliver, eh? Well, we'll talk next time...)

John Wendt, Hutch, Joe S., Dave Kohut, FirenWater, Lasagna, Elizabeth, Ray, Don, NorCal Tom, Ron and Sherry and others who have helped me face to face, THANKS.

FireChick, FireWolf, Brian, Battman, Scott, and the hotshot supts who spent time describing how firefighters fight fire in the context of the Big Bar Complex, hmmmm, you all got me started. Wondered what I would be when I grew up...

Tracy, Betsy, Mike, Rax, Ron, Carol, MJ, John C, Doug A, good to talk with you. Always fun to meet new people face to face.

Here's the STATUE in its new home...

3/7 Gordon, I also hope you're reading theysaid.

Like others, I came over from the Division Chiefs Conference to the HS Workshop to hear your presentation. Thank you. I also had a chance to look at the news clippings and photos and the replicate of the El Cariso shield from 1966. I am glad you came to the workshop and told your story. Info from the old timers like you is invaluable. Good to see the ruptured duck logo displayed on the powerpoint, too. Now that's a bit of history.

I see that Doug didn't put a link to his web site on his post. He has a very good field prediction
approach to fire behavior change. Ab could you please post the link? www.dougsfire.com/

Thanks to all who contribute here and to the Abs.

NorCal Tom

You can find the dougsfire.com link on our Links page under education and on our Classifieds page. The El Cariso Ruptured Duck logo was created by Patty Campbell some years ago. To view the logo and read the history go to the first Logo Page. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image and on the words for the description. Ab.

3/7 To Gordon King

If you are reading this site Gordon. I hope you have had your cup of coffee because we used to not be able to talk until you had your morning coffee.

This is just a note to thank you for your wake-up call. When I heard of the Loop fire disaster I immediately thought "If it could happen to Gordon then it could certainly happen to me too." I remembered that you already had 8 years of hotshot experience before coming on the El Cariso Crew as a crew foreman. I remember gaining valuable knowledge from your experience the two years you and I worked together. You worked four years with El Cariso up until the Loop Fire changed everything for you and for me.

From our time together and our discussions about the Decker Fire burnover of the El Cariso crew on the Ortega Highway, I began to examine our backgrounds and training to see what was missing that would result in a failure to foresee these kind of fire behavior changes that could catch any one of us in the trap.

I would guess that I was just lucky not to have had the same thing happen to me during my career because I am not smarter or as experienced as you were but have put my crew at risk many times too.

I wanted to thank you a hundred times for waking me up and convincing me that I was not special and invincible to wildland fire. If you had not been the catalyst for changing my perceptions, I might have plodded along until retirement and not taken the challenge to action.

I began to put a training course together that was designed to prevent this from happening. It has evolved into the Campbell Prediction System. This project has given me hope that we can lower the future risk to firefighters in the future. From what I hear from practitioners of CPS, we are on the right track.

My very best regards
Doug Campbell
3/6 NMAirBear and Old Dog in RO2 ,

You both have some valid points..... Paul Gleason also had some great points... Keep It Simple was Pauls's message as I heard it. Doug Campbell followed the same message.

As you add checklists and policies, the folks who have to follow and implement those policies and procedures are less likely to implement and follow them.

Keep it Simple..... 10 & 18, LCES, Situational Awareness. LCES was so simple. Show us a fatality or injury that could be related to somebody who followed LCES. Show us a fatality of somebody who had followed the CPS.

I've heard that a current Forest Service Course uses the idea of CRM.... I've also heard that CRM is really big in the military, pilot, and the "critical action" world. (Fish note: CRM = Crew Resource Management, everyone from the top to the bottom has a voice in safety)

NMAirBear, you know where I'm going with this. If you look at some of the old crusty guys, they didn't use checklists. They used common sense, experience, experience, experience, and experience, inter-twined with a little bit of "gut" feeling and education. Paul also did this. Paul Gleason and Doug Campbell were some of the first "FORESTRY TECHNICIANS" to break out of the mold. They were/are professionals..... L.C.E.S., and CPS which has more recently been called Fire Signature Prediction Method, all had a major impact upon firefighter safety.

CRM, LCES, and CPS all seem to do the same thing. Minimize the checklists and emphasize the experience. They can all be taught at the same time.

Rogue River
3/6 Injured on the Hayman Fire and Forgotten:

To all that will listen,

Wow, where to start? Fathers Day 2002 while working for Larimer County Emergency Services (Northern Colorado IA Crew) , I was dispatched to Lake George to assist in fighting the Hayman fire. While on the fireline, I fell backwards down a draw and broke my arm. I was sent back to Ft. Collins after being treated in the ER in Colorado Springs. It was determined that I needed to have an operation to fix my arm.

Since 6-17-02 I have had to have a total of 6 or 7 operations (I lost count). In my last operation 2 months ago they had to take bone out of my hip and put it with a 8" long steel plate and 10 screws into my left wrist and arm. I have been unable to work for the last 8 months because the past 3 operations have been in the past 6 months. When I was hurt, Larimer County said that they could and would not help me with a claim because it was a federal fire and while fighting that fire, I was an federal employee. I have battled against the government fighting for help. They just started paying me 4 months ago. Did I mention my check is only $980 a month.

My claims examiner Virginia Jurgensen has refused to return my calls, in the past 6 months I have left 61 messages! The federal operator tells me they can not forward my call to her. I can only leave a message for her and she has 3 days to call me back. In frustration I contacted Channel 7 News with my story. On Super Bowl Sunday they ran my story on the nightly news. I was then referred to Senator Wayne Allard's office. They said I have a good case and would look into it. Not much was accomplished.

Throughout this ordeal I have had to sign financial responsibility papers for some of my operations that the government would not authorize. To this date I have over $7000 of medical bills on my credit. I have fought and fought letting the feds know that I was not going to give up. I was also the only person named in the suit against Terry Barton for she was also charged with injury to a firefighter. I was called down to Denver several times to help the feds in the prosecution. Even after all that I was left hung out to dry. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation were the only folks who helped me. They were kind enough to send a check for $2500. This was a God send. Vicki Minor is an angel! But that money is long gone and I will not be able to work for a few more months.

I'm in danger of losing my home and my family. This has been so hard on my wife and 3 sons. I have been so depressed that I can't feed and support my family. Suicide, although a chicken way out has passed through my mind on a daily basis. Whats a man to do? I have fought and fought and I can't take it ANYMORE! I need help. The government won't authorize a shrink for me, don't they know this has turned from a physical injury to a mental one. I can't pay for one. I have been fighting for almost 2 years and I'm tired. I feel a downed firefighter should never have to go through this! Just pushed to the side and forgotten. I want people to know my name and story! They need to know that they can't get away with this.

I'm sorry for going off like this. I just don't know what to do and have run out of options (except for chaining myself to the doors of the federal building in protest). My life has changed, I will never be able to bend my wrist again, all for what............................. NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!! Does anyone have any ideas? I don't want to lose my family, but who could blame them. A man that can't provide for his family is not a man. I have lost all faith in the system and have been left by the wayside. Another government victory or just another victim!?

Thank you
Ryan Beyer

Ryan, take a deep breath, or two or three or 100, then try to get a good night's sleep. Sometimes sh*t happens and things seem pretty hopeless. In my experience there are usually solutions. I don't know the worker's comp system but perhaps someone here will. I know some have posted in the last months with ideas, contacts, and organizations for making your way through the bureaucratic maze. For a start I'll check back through the archives tomorrow and see what pointers readers have suggested. In my life, I've found that when one door closes another opens. You can choose to be a victim or not, regardless of what anyone else does, including the government. Choose to not be one. Take some deep breaths. Have some faith. Give your family a hug. See you tomorrow. Ab.
3/6 Re: Old FS engines

Firehorse I had forgotten about the engine at Mt. Hood, Thanks.

Hutch thanks, I've never seen the gray over green (of course in black and white photos it probably doesn't show) and I'd never heard of Red USFS equipment. Do you know if Dan has any of the old photos online anywhere? If not any chance he'd be willing to post some with the Ab's?

You don't see many old wildland rigs, I bought a book on them but very few were CDF, USFS, BLM or NPS, most were the standard pickup with a slip on unit used by city and county departments.


As far as making decisions on the fireline, I've felt for some time that the teaching method used in most fire classes could be partly to blame, all of these classes focus on breaking into groups to deal with the class problems. Where I see the problem is you usually get one or two "leaders" a couple of head nodders (agree with the leaders plan) and a few who go along for the ride. How do you teach people to take quick decisive action when you train them in committee form and then debate a plan of attack? While this teaching method has some advantages (less time than individual projects, doesn't force wall flowers to speak up etc), I think there needs to be more emphasis on individual action in class. I've seen too many people get on scene and then start a debate between the IC and IA forces on what tactics to use until the fire finally has had enough and makes it for them (get the heck out of my way, and call all of your friends to come help). Also why do we wait until strike team leader to put people through a strategy and tactics class, by that point you better already have a pretty good idea of strategy and tactics, I guess single resource bosses and ICT4s don't need to know much about the strategy and tactics of fire attack.


This Ab talked with Dan about a year ago but didn't follow through. Don't think he has any pics online, but maybe'so.

3/6 For the R5 Forester,

Here are some stats from the R5 Engine Accomplishment Report:

Region 5 had 13,682 engine calls in 2003. This may be on the low side of reality as some info is still coming in.

  • 3151 wildfire calls
  • 2126 fuel treatments
  • 2065 medical assists
  • 80 HAZMAT calls
  • 193 structure fires
  • 425 vehicle fires
  • 1236 overhead assignments
  • 614 cover assignments
  • 3908 miscellaneous from public assistance calls on up

Contributed Labor Hours summary:

  • 333,364 wildfire
  • 92,788 fuels
  • 12,795 recreation
  • 31,987 engineering
  • 12,412 resources
  • 182,451 presuppression (training for safety is key)
  • 734,932 hours total

R5 Engine Captains provided public service to

  • Texas -- the Columbia Shuttle Recovery
  • Guam -- Typhoon Disaster Relief
  • numerous leadership assignments

Mr. Blackwell and others who do not know the fire community very well, the stats speak for us.

We're GETTING WORK DONE! With all the communication about "respect", please give us some. Come out and see what we do. You and others have some wrong ideas. Our jobs are complex. We are professionals. The only way you change your misperceptions is to get to know us, to educate yourself.

And Engine Captains, step up with information. We need to educate all line officers on up the food chain. Be bold. Make an opportunity. Let yourselves and your work be known.

R5capt looking for a little R E S P E C T
(spell it out to music a'la' Aretha Franklin "RESP-ECT, that is what it means to me")

Ab updated this on information that came in from the Engine Captains Report. Thanks for the complete info.

3/6 Old Dog in R2,

I have the checklist filled out a coupla different ways ready to turn in as we speak. The filled out copies are in the clipboard on the front seat of my rig. Gravitate from one to the other depending on time of year, fuel conditions and available resources. That way I am not heads down on IA, or writing while trying to drive. And if the boxcheckers happen to show up on the IA, I can hand it to them so they can say "good job"

Not hard to figure out if we are gonna transition to a team or not....mainly driven on our unit by logistics. The Division/Forest can't logistically support anything past 24 hours anymore...so the call is easy.

I believe in checklists as I also am an ATGS, but you are correct in stating that this one is not the answer to anything except checking the box on the 30 mile abatement,.....

3/6 Our hats off to you Norm. What an honor. You deserve it, for all you do for all of us
as well as being a dam* good firefighter.

SoCal FS
3/6 Congratulations Mellie!!!!!..... I tried to track you down Wednesday and Thursday night to buy you a "cold one" for the celebration. Hope we don't have to wait until next year. Are you going to be at the R-5 Team's Workshop next month?

Backburnfs, I apologize for the lateness of my reply to your 3/1 post. I was out of town.

Backburnfs, I have to agree with you on your post this time. Comparing all Regions and their individual specific equipment is like "mixing oranges and watermelons."

I have to also agree with you...... as you said ".....worked in all those areas on many fires and have seen the good and bad of each."

There are a great many of us who have also worked in "those areas" and have seen the good and bad of each as you have described. I'd like to hope that each of us presents the GOOD, and sidelines the BAD, to make the Federal Land Management Agencies the strongest national organization around.

Alot goes on behind the scenes... perception is not actually reality in many cases. This occurs in many discussions including classification, fuels, pay, benefits, etc.....With just about any type of change, these are the initial replies usually given....

The Reality is: The Employees Support This. The Perception is: The Agency Opposes This. THE FACT IS: Employees are the agency. Somewhere, reality and perception meet in the middle.

1) Reality..... each person has their own and individual opinion. Some express it, some don't. Each opinion is valid.

2) Reality..... each person has a supervisor..... Some supervisors allow individual expression, some don't.

3) Reality.... as you get higher and higher up in the Federal Organization (GS-12-GS-15+), your "personal opinion" sometimes gets sidelined whether you want it to or not. Agency and Political pressure sometimes make you fulfill the "company role".

4) Perception.... As WO and RO personnel express their "opinions".... they are Agency policy or direction. When you get them one-on-one, their opinions seem to emulate the changes needed and our inability to obtain them. The perception is that they understand the problem, but don't know how to fix them. ie - Increasing fuels targets, no increase in money, and the inability to claim acres if they are treated with a different funding code. This is just one example, as is the classification issue.

5) Fact..... The WO and RO folks, for the most part, came up through the ranks as most of us have. They are very approachable to discuss and debate changes that are needed in the Forest Service. I hope we all take the time to do dialogue on the issues that we are concerned about. THIS IS WHERE REALITY AND PERCEPTION MEET IN THE MIDDLE.

3/5 I have to agree with old fire guy in R -2 about the IA complexity analysis.

I've been in this profession for 10+ years and it seems to me like we're paperworking ourselves into a corner. Most of the items on the complexity analysis are pretty much second nature to anyone who's been around long enough to be an IC on an IA fire. If you're not taking these items into consideration maybe you shouldn't be IC 'ing fires. Seems like burying your head in a checklist does take away from situational awareness. This is just an opinion from someone who's primary fire responsibility is IA on a zone where there's heavy IA. I've used these checklists, not because I want to, but because I'm mandated to. They don't help me much, except to waste time.

The current fire culture is starting to take away the "safe aggressiveness" and taking it more towards an" afraid to make a decision culture". I know my supervisor is a firm believer in these checklists, but he couldn't get any type of action going on a fire if his britches were burning. He's too busy worrying whether or not he's covered his @#* properly. I have to wonder how much IA NMAIRBEAR does after 35 years in the business. I wonder how many more checklists will come out of the Cramer fire investigation. If the hairs standing up on the back of your neck you shouldn't be where you're at. Common sense keeps folks alive. Not paperwork.

3/5 Congratulations Norm Walker -- "USFS"!
Wow -- and what a coincidence -- you even worked for Cal when you were with the (snip) pink colored hardhats of the Little T Hotshots!

-- Your Henshaw Cafe' cheese burger eating buddy!
3/5 Changes are coming in job postings. Soon ALL R5 fire jobs will be advertised on AVUE. More information is coming out on Monday.


Ab Note: This doesn't affect those applying, just helps out those in the hiring process. New applicants, keep following the process you're already using via the web and all will be fine.

3/5 Ab, please repost my message and cut it off here. I did not mean to sidetrack this discussion into one relating to the integrity of the WO. My bad for not keeping this about issues.

Second try: let me say...

This has been on my mind for some time and I just thought I'd see if anyone else has concerns about this issue. As a result of 30 mi, we have to do an IA complexity analysis form - going down a checklist and checking this and that box. What I was concerned about last season is that doing that takes away from real SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. People are so busy filling out the checklist they're not really looking at whats happening in a fast breaking situation. I'd much rather have my folks trained and thinking and keeping HEADS UP.

NMAirBear, I think our friend Paul would have said enough additional rules and regulations. He thought the 10 and 18 were too many rules and LCES grew out of that. So now we have more and more requirements with each tragic incident -and this one has ff heads buried in a complexity analysis form. Have you worked with this particular form on IA on the ground? Can you really evaluate whether people can maintain situational awareness while filling it out? I think Paul would say let's train people very well and let them do their jobs and remember to look up, look down, look all around.

How can we do it differently and more safely -meybe, from inside the firefighter out? LOOKing out.

I don't think more cards, more checklists are the answer. Maybe in aviation what you say is true, I don't know about that.

My question is directed to those who have used the complexity analysis form on IA. What are your experiences? Any good ones? Any watchouts? Maybe my experience is mine alone.

Old Dog in R2

Old Dog, I'm going to leave your former post up so that this thread makes sense. Thank you for clarifying. It does help to stick to issues. Ab.

3/5 Hey all,

Just got back from the R5 Division Chief's workshop. Some good stuff but a couple things got my hackles up:

On the fuels arena, we got told we can no longer count fuels reduction acres that were accomplished by fire folks that are fully funded out of suppression money. WO folks that showed up at the last minute say this direction came from OMB bean counters. Musta been done out of their proven affection and regard for the Forest Service (tongue firmly in cheek). Such a wonderful thing, don't you think? All that pressure to claim more acres with less money and now no incentive to be efficient by fire use folks to do fuels work. Never mind that it keeps crews busy and offers valuable opportunities to train and deepen their resource knowledge. Guess the R5 Regional Forester will have to take back his remark about not allowing fire people to just hang around shining their engines. Seems that is all they are funded for until the fire bell rings.

Looks like we will be adding to the victim count of the "war between the agencies".

Oh, Yeah... almost forgot. In addition, the comment was made several times during the course of the meeting that we are getting more fuels money than ever. Yes, it's true folks. Unfortunately that old Beltway magic and slight of hand has moved the shells so that most of the money is under the earmark column, including QLG, Lake Tahoe, and now the bottomless San Bernardino. You can talk all you want about treating fuels on the landscape.....many of us have righteous fuels projects ready to go but languishing for lack of funding (at least in R5).

Where's a congressman when you need one?

Gotta go for now, will add more later.


3/5 Attached is the link to the report from the interagency team that was conducted upon the management of the Cedar, Paradise, and Otay fires in San Diego County.


Charles R. Maner
Unit Chief

Thanks Chuck, interesting reading. Ab.
3/5 Old Dog in R02:

You jerked my chain a bit with your negative attitude regarding Complexity and IA checklists. As you said checklists are meant to be documents to "cover the govts a**", ostensibly WASO and other higher-ups. I deeply disagree that this is the primary or even a secondary purpose of the checklists.

After 35 years in this business I am thrilled to see that such a thing is now being required. Indeed, in the early seventies a whole bunch of my friends and I would not have been burned over in crown fire fashion if the fire boss had simply had a tickler list to remind him of a few things that he evidently wasn’t thinking about. We all survived due to the proximity of a creek that we used as a survival zone. He hadn’t thought about that either. Us young’ns had to move him there. Minor injuries: burned hair, beards, “sunburns”, etc. A lifetime lesson learned for all of us. Lesson learned: If all hell's breaking loose you should get the hell out of there.

Does this sound a little bit like 30 Mile? It was about 30 years ago.

We have come a very long way in terms of SAFETY from those times. My friend Paul Gleason makes that abundantly clear in his last interview as other posters have noted.

As an aviator/firefighter I can’t say enough for checklists. The bad pilots are the ones who claim they have all the checklists memorized and don’t need them. I have watched even a good pilot miss an important landing parameter in a busy airport pattern even while using a checklist. Thankfully there were two of us. Many of us who are fire aviators have used our own version of checklists to deal with fire for a long time. The 10 & 18, the Risk Management Checklist (in the Incident Response Pocket Guide), and the IA runsheets most of us use come to mind as checklists already widely used by all firefighters.

As an Air Attack Supervisor I hope a concise and comprehensive IA and Complexity Checklist becomes universal for all fireline supervisors. It will be nice for all of us to work off the same sheet of music in the same order of items regarding the fire itself. It is time well spent by fireline supervisors to rationally and rapidly (and maybe even legally?) to assess the fire and develop a plan of attack. Situational Awareness is enhanced by the use of checklists unless you are not a good multi-tasker and that can be learned. Good leaders become even better leaders in dynamic situations using checklists. I concede to you that this process must not be a lengthy, time consumptive one. It should take as long as it needs to take to ensure the total SAFETY of all involved.

OK, assuming the CYA attitude ( "the busywork of checking boxes and calling that macaroni to cover the govts a**") consider this: Have you stopped to think that filling out the checklist might be your own best CYA if things go over the hill or worse? I still wouldn't consider it a primary or even secondary purpose for the checklists.

3/5 Loop Fatality Fire

I want to thank Gordon King for coming in and talking to us Hotshots about the Loop Fire. It took a lot of courage to do that, Gordon, and we appreciate it. I wish the whole group including chiefs and capts could have heard your presentation.

Ab, I think you linked to this before, but the Loop Fire Staff Ride site is up.

R5 Shot

The whole fire leadership site is excellent and growing. We have a permanent link to it on the links page under training and education. It's the 3rd link down entitled NIFC Fire Leadership. Ab.

3/5 _________;

Dude, we gotta get you a moniker, I’m just gonna start calling you Blank, and I don’t like to be responsible for assigning too many names in a week. Anyhow, I don’t have a fool proof splinter preventer aside from keeping your sleeves rolled down (on my crew, having your sleeves rolled up on the line is a ten-push-up offense, no matter how hot it is) and your gloves on. We’re all structure FF first, so we’ve got a higher PPE tolerance than most wildland folks. I hope I didn’t come across as insinuating that you were knowingly cutting corners; but I have noticed that many people don’t recognize some of the corners that are out there. Treating any injury, however minor, as inevitable counts as cutting corners in my book, but like I said, my training’s been a bit different. As far as taking heat, my friend, yeah, I’ve been there. The difference is, in the history of my (albeit fairly new) crew, NOBODY has ever gotten burned under those conditions, in however minor a way. We take PPE really, really seriously; we’re the only crew I’ve seen who carries particulate masks for heavy smoke, and when we’re holding the line, everybody wears their shrouds fastened. We’ve gotten razzed for it; we’ve been told we look like the villain army from The Two Towers, but nobody gets burned. We’ve also never lost a line.

I like Paul Gleason’s comment on lack of aggressiveness and divided tactics; we’ve got the advantage of being a small-fire, rough-terrain crew, and generally being the only crew on the line. Our Crew Boss is the de facto IC, so there is no divisiveness on tactics; the decision gets made, we execute it. It’s usually a matter of less five minutes between the time we’ve scoped the fire and the time the first pulaski starts moving duff. That’s the beauty of IA…if it’s one of ours, we’re usually on it within two hours of the smoke report (or the next morning, if it’s a late afternoon report), and we’ve usually gotten before it gets past three-four acres.

Blank, if you really want to join my crew, I’m warning you it’s a sucker’s proposition. We’re a vollie Type 1.5 crew, which means we train a lot, but we don’t get paid unless we’re actually on a fire. The physical to get on the crew is more than most Shot crews ask, and the majority of our fires are in >100% slope terrain. Upsides: we’ve got a great crew feeling. There’s a lot of pride to being out there out of sheer masochism. Nobody’s there for the money, ‘cuz there ain’t much; nobody’s out there for the glamour, ‘cuz nobody sees what we do, and nobody’s ever heard of the fires we’re on. I think I got 30% off a breakfast burrito once, but that’s the closest to perks we’ve got. We watch each other’s backs because there is no safety officer, and everybody’s on the line together; the closest thing we see to an REMF is who ever gets tabbed to swing the weather. We came through a gnarly season last year, and nobody got hurt beyond a fill-in crew member who showed up on the line in un-broken-in gloves and got blisters on her hands.

Nerd on the Fireline
3/5 Ab,

This has been on my mind for some time and I just thought I'd see if anyone else has concerns about this issue. As a result of 30 mi, we have to do an IA complexity analysis form - going down a checklist and checking this and that box. What I was concerned about last season is that doing that takes away from real SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. People are so busy complying with the WO regs they're not really looking at whats happening in a fast breaking situation. I'd much rather have my folks trained and thinking instead of going thru the busywork of checking boxes and calling that macaroni to cover the govts a**.

Do I get blamed if there's an incident on my watch and it's because someone was paperpushing? Or in that case will the blame go on up the foodchain to the WO? Don't really mean to slam the WO types. Just wondering if they really know what they're doing to SAFETY by encumbering ff on the ground. Maybe some of them should come with us on a breaking goin-blowin fire and see what it's like to be checking boxes as all hell's breaking loose.

Old Dog in R2

3/5 Mellie thanks for letting us see on this forum what overhead are saying about the CDF budget. Sounds right on to me.

Here's something else that will impact fire protection in SoCal. LA Times takes a simple login if you haven't read here before, but its usually worth it.

4 Fire Protection Measures Rejected in San Diego County

Just four months after the most disastrous fires in the county's history, four of seven ballot measures to improve fire protection in San Diego County failed to win passage Tuesday......

Alone among large California counties, San Diego lacks a countywide fire department; fire protection is provided by a patchwork of 60-plus agencies that often have trouble communicating; and the city of San Diego has fewer firefighters per capita than nearly all large American cities. When the fires struck, the city lacked a firefighting helicopter and had no agreement with the Navy or Marine Corps to use theirs.


Ab couldn't find the article. If you have more info, please send it in.

3/5 Hey Ab,

Recently, Firechief magazine did a feature/competition for fire station design. I know many of the folks on TheySaid are agency types etc, but would you consider something along the lines of a ‘design TheySaid’s dream facility’ for wildland fire? With all the varied experience and backgrounds on TheySaid, I’ll be we could come up with something very, very cool.

Full disclosure caveat, my department is looking at a.) renovating our station or b.) building a new substation, and I’m looking for wildland-oriented ideas and not finding much in the journals or on the web.

Nerd on the Fireline

Nerd, if you'd like to spearhead something like that, and if there's enough interest, it seems do-able and might be valuable for other groups. Readers, what do you think? This also might be something that could be discussed a bit behind the scenes if that seems appropriate. Ab.
3/5 Mellie,
Well done! Well deserved!

Old Fire Guy
3/5 I would like to congratulate Mellie on her award!!

I first met Mellie on the Big Bar Complex while I was helping with structure protection on her cabin, and many others in the area. She showed me then, and has continued to show others, her big heart and her VOICE within the wildland community. If I remember correctly, that was her first "show" with wildland fire. She has been vital to us ever since. I have never met any one quite like Mellie. If you ever get a chance, look her up. She is an outstanding woman who is great to have on your side.

Mellie, hats off to you. Thank you for all you have done for us, the Wildland bunch. I remember the Big Bar days and think back to us cooking breakfast in your kitchen. I will never forget your kindness and hospitality. Thank you for everything you do for us.

You are an angel. Congratulations!!
3/5 Lets keep making...., or newly named Burnt:

I knew I couldn't be the only one taking a stand on this one, although I find myself often standing alone for a few moments, talking things over, and eventually talking people into supporting me, or at least not blasting me with all kinds of "slander." I see those scars on me too, the memorable ones (oddly enough) are from stupidity. I can remember sharpening my saw without gloves years ago, and seeing the blood pour off my fingers.. or the time i was running a drip torch with out gloves...I too have those white places on my forearms where embers found their way in between my gloves & nomex. I also have that scar on my shoulder from a fusee-tossing exposition gone wrong.

Each time I look at these scars, I am forced to think how many more I would have, or how worse my scars would be had I not had safety equipment on. What about the pair of old chaps in my office that have the big saw mark on the left leg? Or my cracked hard-hat from a stick falling out of a tree
Im afraid now Burnt will get "burnt" too. But hey, I agree 100% with you. That and 50 cents will get you a cup of coffee.

Nerd, please provide me with a sure fire 100% splinter preventer, I'm a woodworker, so I'd love to know this. I never said I was cutting corners as I think you insinuated. How many times have you been holding a particular section of line & the wind shifted just enough for you to catch some heat? If you've figured out the 100% sure fire way to not take even a little heat, let me know, I wanna work for yuh, I'll go back to being a grunt.

I used this part of Paul's interview in our fire refresher. It brought up some excellent conversation between the old guys and the new guys. Both had some excellent points, I'll try to find my notes & post them. I have the pleasure of working for a boss, although he may disagree with me on tactics sometimes, he always supports my decisions & expects them to be made quickly and executed immediately after 10 & 18 & LCES has been addressed.

My offer still stands on the idea of being re-located to where firefighters don't receive a little heat.

Ab, this is such a cool forum!!!!
3/5 Ab

Please post the following link. It covers the investigation into the Oct 03 helicopter crash east of Florence Oregon near Swisshome. theworldlink.com

Longtime Lurker


Norm Walker is the 2003 recipient of the Cal Yarborough Award.
He was honored by his peers as outstanding Division Chief.
The announcement was made today at the Cal Yarborough Luncheon
at the R5 Division Chiefs Meeting.

Congratulations Norm.

Ab added this to the Wildland Fire Awards page.

3/4 A few days ago FedFire ask a couple questions on old fs engines.

I think I can shed some light on a couple items, First there is a old Mormon Herrington engine in San Bernardino, it is privately owned by Dan G. He restored it and its a beautiful piece. There are some others around in various condition and ownerships. Dan also has a fairly extensive photo collection of old FS engines. As for the paint color question the FS went from the dark forest green to the present shade green with a gray top from the bottom of the windshield up in 1956. Prior to that there were several FS engines delivered in Red the last ones being in 1954. The Green and Gray paint scheme was replaced with the 1976 year deliveries with the present all green (for those of you that still get them). There are some other old FS rigs out there not all engines, Back in the 80s the Challis (Now Salmon Challis) National Forest in Idaho had a 1934 Ford Stakeside that was used as a parade piece. I havent seen it in years and do not know its present condition.

Hope this helps
3/4 Dear Abs
This is in response to the Burn Scar/ Singed Mustache Debate. As usual, I can see both sides. I did a quick survey of the scars I have received from my 10 seasons and the two most visible are from stupidity. One was a cut on the leg from a circle grinder while sharpening tools (wasn't wearing leather chaps,,,,stupid on my part!) and the other was from stabbing myself with a knife while wrapping a house (improper knife handling on my part,,, I know better!!). I don't have any burn scars, I tend to back up when the fire gets too hot. I completely agree with Nerd on the Fireline's last post.

That being said, I think that the main point that sign me______ and the other person with the REALLY long moniker are trying to get at is lets not get too timid. I was reading an interview with Paul Gleason at www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/interviews/leaders_PaulGleason.phpl which he was asked the two following questions;

Q: Since you started in 1964, what are the biggest improvements you have witnessed in the wildland fire service?
Gleason: I think that would have to be the increased focus on firefighter safety.

Q: What do you consider the worst changes you have seen in the wildland fire service?
Gleason: Lack of aggressiveness on the fireline. This might sound like a contradiction to the last answer, but I don't think so. What I mean here is that there seems to be a lot of indecisiveness on selecting a strategy and getting with it to make it happen.

I think that all of the participants in this argument are on the same side of the fence, but are arguing different aspects of the problem.

I appreciate this forum (thanks Ab's) and every one who posts on it.


3/4 Way to go Mellie. It would be nice to know what you did to earn that award, what does the citation say. Did you do the Oscar thing? This is how I imagine your acceptance speech went.

" I would like to thank the JACT Academy, my sponsors, my family, God, all who contribute to "They Said" , CDF, USFS, DOI, all the Contractors, and especially Gifford Pinchot and Ed Pulaski." "Peace Out".

Seriously, Congratulations.

3/4 Let me add "Good for you Mellie. You deserve the award."


3/4 Backburnfs,

Thank you for the comment that you made to R6Privet, I fully agree that he is out of line with his "attack-like " comments.

The fact that you can read what i have to say, and still find that i am putting thought into the subject, and that you see that i am respectful and professional toward you, makes me appreciate your opinions that much more. Thanks for being respectful and professional as well, makes it very easy to have an "adult" discussion and see both sides of the fence.


I must say that i am a little shocked by your comments, and personally can't picture a "shot" crew performing in such a way.

Perhaps you spent a little bit too much time in a NorCal burn?
*(most of us know what this means i think) <haw>
I suggest a milder approach tactic when responding to posts on this site, amazing how people from all agencies and backgrounds can get along if you just show a little bit of respect, and most of all, some self control
Just out of curiosity, what contractor do you represent?
Do as Backburnfs suggested, read some of our continuing posts, there is no hostility or negative remarks from either side....nice way to discuss things...try it.

Thanks all, And thanks again for being a great person Backburnfs

Smoke-Chaser In Idaho
3/4 Dear Ab,
I have never seen Mellie, but I know her voice and her heart. She has spend much time and wisdom with the family of our fallen and injured, getting the help they need. It has been a long time coming in acknowledgement from our community, and this foundation for the wildfire humanitarian efforts she has brought to us. Mellie I will always be grateful for your guiding hand you have lent to this foundation.

We have also awarded Debbie Miley, Executive Director of the NWSA our Wildfire Humanitarian Award. She and the NWSA have touched this foundation not only with continuous funding, but have infused us with a light, in the darkest of times.

The first Wildfire Humanitarian award went to FS, Chief Dale Bosworth. I had never met him before December 03.
What a wonderful man he is. I admire his leadership. I do not know his politic, but I do know his heart. I have learned from the families that he personally send letters to them, not once, but several to see how they are and how he can be of service to them. He wrote a letter asking people to wear the purple pin one year, to remember our fallen. Out of the one letter he wrote, $90,000.00 worth of pins were distributed, in just a few weeks. His kindness touched many, many lives, in our community, and continues to do so.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
3880 S. Development Av.
Boise Id. 83705
208-863-9090 cell
208-336-2995 fax

Thanks for the correction of my earlier post on award recipients Vicki. I knew this was only the third one, but hadn't remembered Debbie. Sorry Debbie. Original Ab.

3/4 Whoooo-hoooo, Mellie!

Nerd on the Fireline
3/4 WHOO HOOOO!!! Congratulations Mellie!!! Well deserved!!! Made my day...week...month hearing that!!!

3/4 Ab,

Thought this article might be of interest to your contributors & readers...


3/4 Sign me: Let's keep making more rules until all we can do is respond to watch the fire go over the hill because we are too regulated to get to darn close and we don't want to be responsible for anyone getting a little hot spot on their bodies.


I’m kind of assigning you a new moniker, Burnt, because your sign off was a bit long to use. Burnt, my training a background, outside of fire, is in heavy industry. There’s some folks on this board who know what I do in ‘real life’ and can attest that I know what I’m talking about. From this dual background, I see fire as being now where industry was ten years ago; “How do you tell a rookie driller?” “He’s got all his fingers.” Anybody with a structure background here remember “Only rookies have clean bunkers?”. After seeing the soot on the outside of a pair of ‘trophy bunkers’ re-ignite with the proud firefighter inside ‘em, that one gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies. The point I’m trying to make is that it used to be that the “unavoidably hazardous activity” stamp used to be interpreted as meaning that injuries are inevitable. That’s NOT TRUE. Every injury is a failure. Every injury, from a splinter to a minor burn, to a death, needs to provoke thought, and needs to be avoided. The P.A.C.E. union has a system called the Triangle of Prevention: www.pacehealthandsafety.org/TOP/Main.php

This system is fundamentally based on the idea that there’s a pyramid of accidents, with a series of near misses leading to fewer, but still a fair number of first-aid cases, to restricted duty injuries, to lost time injuries, to disabling injuries, to deaths. Near misses are not inevitable, they’re indications of a problem. If you can prevent near misses and minor injuries, you’re preventing deaths as well. And guess what, Burnt: it works. You may be proud of your scars; I’m glad that makes you feels better. But your scars are indications of institutional failure. Sign me: _______ talked about singing off mustaches by cutting it too close; well, if you cut it TOO close, you’re talking about respiratory burns. Cut it even closer, we call that death. “Fight fire aggressively” true; but you’d better be d*mn sure you know how close you’re cutting it. The difference between no burns at all and a singed mustache can be ten feet; the difference between a singed mustache and a respiratory burn might be ten inches. I’d rather take that extra ten feet.

Nerd on the Fireline (frustrated)
3/4 Based on an observation from Jim at The Supply Cache (check his ad on the Links or Classified Pages) all links on this page now open a new browser window. He said it was often difficult to follow threads and then have to return to TheySaid and wait for it to re-download. Thanks to Jim for bringing it to our attention. Original Ab.
3/4 Hey Mellie, congrats on your award from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. You really deserve it.

NorCal Tom
3/4 I am very pleased and proud to announce that our very own Mellie received an award from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The award was presented yesterday by John Wendt from the Six Rivers NF, at the Division Chief's Workshop in Reno, Nevada. This is only the second time the award has been presented to an individual, Chief Bosworth received one several years ago for his efforts on firefighter safety. I am trying to get a copy of Johns presentation to share here and will post it when I can. It doesn't seem that long ago I recall opening Mellie's first email and posting it here. Her dedication, efforts, and contributions benefit all wildland firefighters. She is a shining example of how just one person can make a large difference in the lives of so many others.

Here's a photo of John (on the left) presenting the award to Mellie and the next link is an image of the award. Award Presentation Statue

Heh, heh, sorry folks, she insisted. Don't forget there is a full facial photo on our Misc Photo page from when she was attending FF1 training. Shy thing isn't she?.

Congratulations Mellie my friend! Thanks for all you do and for hanging out with us here. Original Ab.

3/4 R6 Privet,

Wow, you must really be on some bad juice dude. You are tripping-out.

When did I ever say that I or any other firefighter, contract or agency was perfect or anywhere near it. I have huge issues with the Forest Service and the way some of our management deal with many items of concern. I work to correct the things I can.

Next time you see an IHC Superintendent wearing shorts and t-shirt and conducting a firing operation take some pictures and send them in to Ab, or send them to the Washington Office, and fill out a Safe-Net. I guarantee you will get results. What fire was this on, what year, better yet what planet?

You must have a serious case of the “wanna be’s” to be ragging on the Hotshot Crews. Read the previous postings that Smoke-Chaser In Idaho and I had. I think there was some thought going into what was being said and there was some respect and professionalism shown by both sides. Maybe you can learn something from those writings instead of blowing your cool so easily, and use that spell checker once in awhile, have you heard the “Verbal Advantage” or “Hooked on Phonics” commercials on the radio?

B a c k b u r n f s
3/4 RE: sign me ____

Way back on the 29th of Feb., when "sign me" questioned if others were familiar with anyone having their beards or mustaches singed, I almost answered, but wanted to see how others responses first. I thought there would be many who would agree with him. As I read his post, I scanned my forearms and observed with pride the frequent whitish, irregular shapes that no longer support hair follicles. I was forced to retreat to the bathroom to review that one area on my face to see if the scar underneath my beard was noticeable. I don't think it is.

My body retains the evidence I am a firefighter. Were I to be held under bright lights and questioned by experts on how I received such disfiguration, I doubt I could remember where half of them originated. They are not important. They are the result of my choosing a career desiring to be next to the closest side of hell a non-firefighter can imagine.

I expect some of my scars were caused from 2nd degree burns. I was aware of some of them happening when I was burned, however they weren't a priority at the time, nor did I ever seek treatment for my injuries. The ones on my forearms came from my failure to follow the proper policies. The ones on my face came from usually begin too close to the fire. I always wore my longsleeve shirts rolled up past the elbows, sometimes there wasnt' time to pull down my goggles. I found it much cooler and easier to work with my sleeves rolled up. When I considered the fire danger close or too hot I rolled them down.

After attacking hundreds of fires and working on hundreds more prescribed fires during my career, I think I understand exactly what "sign me" is trying to say. I do not believe it is possible to prevent firefighters suffering an occasional burn. If the thought of being slightly burned is repugnant to current or wann'a be firefighters, find another career. And for those who bow to political pressure and become incensed to find someone to blame for someone accidentally suffering a few burns or scars, I repeat the end of the last sentence. Get a new job, perhaps an office manager where you can worry and control things like paper cuts and file cabinets tipping over. You can scrutinize those demanding and strict OSHA regulations and chat about it over lunch with other department heads in the local deli.

Firefighting at all levels is demanding and dangerous enough without having to suffer a new clueless committee being convened every time some mamma's boy or girl gets a blister and thinks they have to go to the hospital.

Somebody somewhere once said, " If you play with fire, you're gonn'a get burnt", didn't they? What or who do all of you who have jumped on "sign me" think they were they talking about?

Sign me: Let's keep making more rules until all we can do is respond to watch the fire go over the hill because we are too regulated to get to darn close and we don't want to be responsible for anyone getting a little hot spot on their bodies.
3/3 Some little info from the Division Chiefs' Conference (now called the Chief Officer's Conference):

There was a panel of CA fire cooperators who talked about budget effects on fire and interagency fire: Kern Co Chief Dennis Thompson, FS Deputy Chief Ron Raley, CDF Chief Jim Wright and OES Kim (sorry I didn't get his unusual last name).

Kern Co Fire is potentially facing an $8 million cut. The factoid that was of most concern to me: 17 out of their 28 Chiefs have less than 2 years of experience. As a result, the 2 experienced management staff that had formerly participated on national teams can not be spared for the upcoming fire season.

OES will likely have budget shortfall as well, which might result in a cut of local training, which will mean less overhead moving up. (There was more info but I didn't take good notes.)

CDF: The watchword at CDF is uncertainty, even though the CA bond issue passed today. Passage of the bond issue may merely mean stabilizing of financial hemorrhaging -- and cuts that are not too deep.

CDF has had large increases in worker's comp and unemployment insurance costs like other CA businesses. Employee compensation is also up and legal settlements are costly. All this increases the basic costs of doing business. There are spending restrictions on travel, meeting attendance, and they're postponing purchasing and repairing things.

The SRA fee ($35 per rural parcel) was supposed to compensate $50 million that got cut out of CDF's fire budget by the legislature. But now the legal beagles have found it must go to a vote. Implementation is questionable. Without that money CDF fire faces a $50 million shortfall. (yikes)

Collateral budget damage has resulted in a reduction in crews. The conservation camp program has lost 2 camps (9 crews, leaving 188 crews). One camp has been backfilled with 2 paid FF1 crews and they expect to spike out additional crews. It's questionable whether the CA legislature will authorize paying for handcrews. The CA Youth Authority has lost 6 camps (10 crews). On another front, to save money in the CA penal system, inmates get 2 days credit for every one day of good work. By working they can decrease time on their fire tour and prison sentences. Downside is, CDF trains them, they work and leave early.

There has been a reduction in the Forest Resource Improvement Fund (FRIF) as environmentalist court cases halted timber harvesting on one forest. In the past, these slush funds were used to fund other programs formerly under the General Plan. Now they're gone and with them it seems CDF will loose helo piolots, firefighters on some helos, mechanics and some other personnel.

What's up with fire shelters at CDF? The 2 year implementation program has been stretched to 4 years. That is unacceptable, so CDF will have to find something not to buy in order to fund shelters sooner.

CDF like OES, Kern and the FS has had significant losses in experienced personnel through retirement. There was a big hole in DIVS during the SoCal Fire Siege. Unit Chiefs were sent south to maintain normal functioning. More retirements are predicted.

CDF Resource Management personnel is being cut. 150 foresters will be moved laterally into fire positions if qualified or if they can be remedially trained. We were assured that safety would not be compromised. Foresters moving out of Veg Management may also impact the FS fuels management program.

That's all for now, (phew)
3/3 R6 Privet;

Easy there, gunpowder. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. But (as both a vollie and a rabble-rouser), don’t get yourself confused that the Shots are necessarily the best. Shots see a lot of fire. This can make for some d*mn good firefighters, or it can make for firefighters getting casual. Remembering my White Gloves and Party Manners, not to mention my S-130/190, I’d call shorts and tees pretty casual. Casual is sloppy, and sloppy is dangerous. But the best firefighters are the ones who go home, after every assignment, safe, successful, and happy. I’ve seen bad shot crews, I’ve seen absolutely inhumanly amazing shot crews. Ditto vollies, type 2 crews, engine crews, and contractors. Don’t slag on anybody as a group just ‘cuz you saw one bad crew or one bad assignment. So, my friend, deep breath, proofread, and remember that we may not all be perfect (in fact, I’ll eat my line pack if any of us are), but we can and should all aspire to perfection.

Nerd on the Fireline
3/3 Greetings, for those people who worked on the Old and Gran Prix Fires in November on the San Bernardino NF,

There will be a weather channel presentation of these fires with some High Definition video. See dates and times below:

We now have a solid air-date for the California wildfire show on the Weather Channel. It will air on
Sunday March 14th (8:30 EST) and again
Wednesday April 14th (8:00 EST).

Please check your local listings.

Best regards,
3/3 Krstofer -
CONGRATS not only for your efforts to find someone to pay attention to your issues, but to have walked out at the right time, before a BLOWUP/ OUT - my take is SMART MAN. << learned too late, never lose composure in legal battles.

to any recently injured FFs, read & heed - learn from what you have seen unfold in this forum (if you missed it, selectively read the archives) & never forget there are time limits for filing an injury claim

Northzone 5
3/3 Dear CDF folks, Question:
I applied at two different CDF units in R5 for the FF1 hiring.
The first one, a uniformed person gave me an application number and said to expect contact between March and April. The second unit said don't call us we'll call you. I've been trying to poke my head in and talk to someone but to no avail. Any suggestions?

One more question to FS folks:
I am going to meet a captain at a hotshot crew, I have had no prior experience on the line, but I have been through fire academy and was an explorer with LaCoFD for four years. Will they still only hire experienced folks?

Thank you all in advance for the education you've given this lurker/ Future pounder.


3/3 Dear Jodi,

I hope you know that the entire wildland community feels for your loss. Some will write in. Some will not. Many like me don't know exactly what to say to you to be helpful and supportive. For whatever it is worth, firefighters do feel Shane's and Jeff's losses deeply and hope for the best for you and your family. We also want to understand what may not be understandable.

I'd like to offer a few comments in search of Lessons Learned. Please do not take this the wrong way. I do not mean it as blaming Jeff and Shane. I have worked hard at trying to get these words right. I think some of the potential human factors contributions to this tragedy need to be discussed, namely situational awareness when we have to be aware of several situations at once.

You said,

"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."

I picked up on this statement because you"re right... when firefighters get in trouble and get hurt or die from burnover, we're are often doing what we love and what we do best. For one reason or another we can get caught up in it. It may simply be that we know how to cut trees or cut line better than we know the signs of changing fire behavior. I think Putnam once said something like... "Your mind goes to where your experience and knowledge are", or maybe it was, "You do what you have the most practice doing". You probably get the idea. I don't know how much experience Shane and Jeff had with fire or watching out for changing fire behavior, but from what everyone says, they had extensive experience as fallers. I can see them really focusing on cutting trees on the mountain that day. That was their task, to make a helispot.

When we're out there, we need to pay attention to the fire as well as to our task. BUT When the chainsaw is running, it's hard to maintain situational awareness about the fire at the same time I'm maintaining situational awareness about that bugkill snag that could fall and hit me. When the chainsaw is running, it can be really hard to step back from the dangerous task at hand and consider potentially dangerous fire behavior, even presuming I have enough experience with fire behavior.

After the fact it's always easy to say firefighters should be more aware of what the fire was doing and how it might get worse. It's easy to find a violation of one or more of the 10 fire orders and the 18 watchouts. In an ideal world we would keep it ALL in mind. In the case of fallers, attention is focused on the trees you're falling, especially when some are rotten. That's why we need sups backing us up, or a system in which we disengage at some critical predetermined times to reconsider whether our tactics continue to fit predicted fire behavior. I know its also our responsibility to follow the 10 and 18... But how can we cover those if we don't know what the fire is going to do?

Sincere condolences.


I think it is great that you have so much pride in your job. but not all go.firefighters are so perfect as you. this last season my private crew along with the entire division witnessed the <snip> hotshots brake 2-4 different fire orders ---4 nights in a roll. first night out 6 beginners ask us why the supervisors could be in shorts & tee shirt, when his crew burned off 2 miles of road. all of the overhead caught them doing something wrong every night. in the end, those of us that backed the safety officer got sent home. <snip> staid on to complete their guarantied 2 week tour. i say if thats one of your best--- then anybody can be a hotshot. shame on you. stop hiding behind that gov. badge & paycheck that makes you think your better .

R6 privet
3/3 Here is a NIFC web site with some info about the RACAL radio. Programming and some general use hints.

3/3 Ab, yrs ago, in CA, elderly engines were retired/decommissioned/junked... beginning in the (guessing) 80s, if state owned all equipment was "supposed to be" audited and then "SURVEYED".

some engines were refurbished via the old SAFE program and offered to the VFDs (aka sold at less cost on a 5 yr payment deal/some V's couldn't pay & their refurbished engine was free).

some of those VFD's bought classics, & used them/kept then in good condition until they had access or $$ for a more up-to-date replacement engine.

some those classics may now be in a personal collection in some small community & now used only for a hometown PARADE.

no offense, does anyone see a correlation? when institutional knowledge is gone, what or who do you have to rely upon?

3/3 Some new quotes I found and enjoy:

"Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud." ~Sophocles
"Never underestimate your power to change yourself; never overestimate your power to change others." ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
"For the resolute and determined there is time and opportunity." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

3/3 Idaho BLM guy,
Nope, I define how good of a job I did at the end of the day as to weather or not Everybody got home from the fire or Rx burn safe, sound & happy. We always catch the fire on the next ridge, or so the Rx burn makes a small run, firefighter & public safety is #1.... enough said, sounds cliché, but well, thats the way it goes.

I ask you to read some of my previous posts, but I'll give my disclaimer one more time.. I don't think it was all that bad, I honestly in my smoke filled heart don't think the burns were bad, maybe i need to start more investigations on myself. Who said I worked in R-8?

Come on folks, I'm not normalizing risk. 95% of the time i deal in reality, we play with fire. Anybody who has made it through a career and not took some heat, please, I'm mobile, I want to work for you, I've been trying for a long time not to take any heat at all, but it does happen.

I agree, you always seem to realize you were just 2 feet too close about 5 seconds after you needed to know this...
3/2 Thanks everyone for all your help. My computer has been down so I'm just now getting around to reading your posts. One more question though when would be the best time  to go in and do the meet and greets with the captains? I just don't want to go in too soon and be forgotten when hiring time comes. Thanks again everybody.

My thoughts and prayers go out to you Jodi.

3/2 Backburnfs,

I understand where you are coming from totally.
To respond to your comment about my company....no. the owners were not agency affiliated, there was a demand for high quality wildland engines in the area in which they are based, and they took all of the appropriate training and paid out of pocket for everything that has made them what they are today. We are one of the few that passed inspection EVERY time last season. Unlike the agencies, contractors have to maintain their equipment and gear out of pocket, proving that those of us with the drive for excellence with shine thru above those that have less than standard policies. As a contractor, we want to see less of "us" out there as well, it evens the playing field.

The F.S. may be the superior wildland fire agency, but does that really make those of us that have been taught and trained by those same folks ,( ex F.S fire folks) any less qualified or less likely to make a good decision on the line???

I will touch a little bit on my training and experience now though,
I was employed for 6 years by one of the premier retardant contractors based in California. Not only did this company contract to the gov't, but we were, and the company still is, the best in the business... then i switched to a type 2 hand crew and worked my tail off to prove myself, and became a squaddie, after some more than noticeable issues with that crew, i switched to a new company, again as a type 2 hand crew, again as a squaddie, but again found the same issues with that company.. now i am with a contract engine crew and feel that this is where i belong, it is natural to me and i am good at what i do.

Simply put, there is a demand for contract services, whether directly related to fire operations, or in the background... after all what is a fire camp without caterers? It's a brown bag belly ache incident!! <haw>.

I have taken many classes and been certified in my fields of choice, out of my own pocket. To me that says dedication, i don't think that the private sector will ever dominate the wildfire scene, but i do believe that we are proving that you don't have to be an agency to produce equally strong and skilled firefighters.

I think that contractors, like agency, should be judged on a first hand, experience level...... don't throw us all in a bag and say we all stink...work with us individually, and base your opinion on our individual crew experience and knowledge, and how well we adapt to situations , and most of all, how safe and informed we are in our field of work.
There are pro's and con's to both sides of the fence, but what really matters is that we are all doing the same job come fire season.

Personally, i don't ask firefighters i meet throughout my travels if they are contract or agency, i just know that they are wildfire brothers and appreciate what they do...as is what i would expect, until i show that i am not capable of doing my job as well or better than expected.

Smoke-Chaser In Idaho
3/2 My thoughts are with Jodi and her family.

I have dealt first hand with fatalities on the fire ground and as awful as that was, I can only imagine how much worse losing a child would be. (And Jody, there's no such thing as being "just a Mom"). Why the situations that have hounded Kris from the Plumas crew and Jodi Heath exist at all are amazing to me. I truly believe that one of the most sincere gifts you can ever give to another person is your full and undivided attention when they need you. Such attention to people is also one of the cornerstones of leadership. Why will our agency (USFS) not work as diligently to make these people whole, as it will to make our lawyers happy? We hide behind the veil of what we are and aren't allowed to say and take cover behind the layers of litigation that may someday confront us. It's time to stand up. True leaders don't hide behind policies, they come forth and tell the truth. Being a Chief Officer in the Fire Service has many perks and a certain degree of status. One pays for these perks by being able to bear the weight of leadership and command and especially at those times when things go wrong. I hope the leaders within the Fire Management ranks of the Forest Service step up and help both Kris and Jodi. Kris needs compassion, compensation and direction, not a lesson in forms and filing. And Jodi needs answers. Some of these answers may exist some may not, but we owe it to her to get her all the answers we can. I would would hope we can give her these answers soon. It seems like a small price to pay for what she has given to the Forest Service.

Fire Ghost
3/2 I noted my name and company reference and thought I could offer some further info.

1 We have recently set up a subsidiary in the US McKay Communications, based in Rocky Hill CT - mckayheadsets.com. WE are in the final stages of appointing Alliance Fire and Rescue - alliancefireandrescue.com) - as our distributor for our range of accessories for the fire fighting industry.

2 We market a throat microphone system that works very well. I was aghast to see the suggestion that a WWII throat mic be butchered for use on a fire ground radio - NOT a good idea!!

3 While we do not support RACAL radios at present (there being almost none in Australia and SE Asia), this would not be a difficult task and we would be more than happy to provide our range to suit this platform should there be a need.

If Kristofer Evans contacts me denis@mckayassociates.com.au I would be more than happy to help

Denis McKay
Managing Director
McKay Associates Pty. Ltd.
3/2 Fedfire,

There used to be a fully restored old FS engine on the Bear Springs RD, Mt Hood NF. Call the Hood and they should have a location.

3/2 In regards to old CDF engines, look in the photo section at the misc. section 1, the engine in the Larry Groff Memorial picture is a restored CDF engine. I am not sure if CDF owns it or an ex-CDF employee owns it. I will post more info when I get it.

One of the things I would like to know, is there a history and photos of the old Forest Service type engines out there somewhere, they same goes for CDF engines? I know there is a number of books dedicated to structure engines of New York Fire Department and other cities but is there something that addresses the wildland engine category?

Retired L.A.V.E.
3/2 Smoke-Chaser In Idaho,

I think we are saying the same things from two opposite sides of the fence.

All your training and experience as a contract firefighter has come at the expense of dedicated agency firefighters, who for more than 100 years, have been slowly and steadily working to improve working conditions, safety and productivity of our profession.

There is a long tradition of the federal wildland fire organizations and especially the U.S. Forest Service of being the premier wildland fire agency in the world. No one can dispute this fact. Forest Service fire experts have traveled to many countries at their request to help develop firefighting capabilities in those countries. Some of these same people have since quit or retired and started their own companies to contract their skills and knowledge to the Govt.

You are fortunate to be able to work for a "good contractor", unless you tell me otherwise I assume that the owner is a former agency (state or federal firefighter) which would further prove my point. There is however a very small possibility that the individual(s) you work for are completely a product of the contract culture since there have been some companies in existence since the late '70s'.

Many years from now there may be a couple of "They Saiders" out there wondering if there really ever was any way of fighting fire besides private companies. I hope that does not happen because we will loose more than we will gain if this country decides to privatize its wildland fire organization. Maybe that is just my opinion.

3/2 Greetings,

Part of the information for the Midwest Wildland Fire Training Academy has been put on the web at www.mufrti.org/summer/WFTAcourses.php.The registration and pdf catalog are not available yet but the courses and schedule are there.

3/1 I've got some questions about old USFS apparatus, I've heard there is a restored 1947 Ford Engine at El Cariso station on the Cleveland NF and have heard rumor of an old engine on the San Bernardino NF, does any one know of others? Also when did the USFS switch from Dark Green to the current light green color (for those that didn't go to white).

I'd also be interested in any old (1960 or earlier) CDF engines as well, anyone know when the change from division to department took place?


NC Crew, I've always taken the "fight fire aggressively but provide for safety first" as sort of a yin - yang kind of statement, reminding us to be aggressive in our tactics but also to make sure we mitigate the hazards to the best of our ability. Perhaps effectively would be better than aggressive since aggressive does not necessarily mean it is an effective attack. Sometimes there is no safe way to fight the fire but you still see some try, others are so timid you wonder if they even have a use on the fire. Sometimes you can't mitigate the hazards and the best thing to do is take a break, pull out the kodak and get some good pics for the abs, other times a "risky" tactic can make all the difference and if you keep your head up, apply all your knowledge and do it at the right time with the right resources that "risky" tactic may not actually be unacceptably unsafe (for example downhill line construction after meeting each of the guidelines). I think that is all the fire order is trying to remind us of, push the limits but never exceed them. Yes it could probably be better written but none of the 10/18 really mean anything as written, each of these sentences really needs a paragraph of explanation to be of any value, as written they are simply reminders.

Finally, I went ahead and bought Structure Protection in the I-Zone (I couldn't find any reviews for it), it is pretty basic for a dedicated wildland crew and absolutely does not replace a book on wildland firefighting, but it would be useful for firefighters who don't do much wildland and will be responding to wildland fires on a pavement queen. If you have Teie's and Perry's wildland books and want to read another book on wildland I'd recommend it particularly if you are a structure firefighter, if you don't have any books on wildland don't buy this one first (buy Teie's Firefighters guide to Wildland Firefighting), it is intended to build on the basics for a crew of a type 1 engine and covers skills they will need to develop. Ab's I'll give you a more complete review for your books section when I've had a chance to re-read it more carefully (I got it a few days ago and have only given it a quick speed read).

3/1 Update on the continuing saga with Worker's Comp:

Last thursday I went up to Quincy for a meeting with Workman's Comp folks at the Plumas NF supervisor's Office. It was to get my reimbursement and medical billing issues straightened out. Mrs. Cotter (Raced against her sons on the high school ski team) and Mrs. Rice (Her stepson packs a saw for Tahoe IHC) who are the comp liaisons on the Plumas were very helpful, and are now aware that there is a big disconnect in the whole OWCP / ACS way of doing business. I presented the facts and bills to them, and they are working on the issues.

During that time we put in a conference call to a Mrs Morris in Washington (DC), who is the federal liaison to OWCP. We told her of the "providers not getting paid" problem, and she immediately asked "Well what form are they filling out? It should be a something something 1500." Now I have no idea what form(s) they're using. I don't think it's my job to tell them how to do theirs. I would think being a workman's comp provider that they would know, but since I don't work for them in their billing office I really don't know. Seems to me that when 6 of 7 providers have not been paid, are they ALL not submitting the right paperwork?

So she continued with this "must have been the wrong form" attitude, and seemed to deny the idea of "ACS not being willing to pay anyone" outright. Now I've been hearing this wrong form wrong time didn't have the right code in the right place song-and-dance for about two years now, so hearing it again pissed me off almost immediately. I found myself biting my tongue at first, and then starting to yell, so I gathered up my stuff and left. I don't know what happened in the rest of the meeting. Mom stayed.

So it didn't go as well as I hoped, but at least there are some folks on the Plumas who are willing and able to help. We'll see what happens. Also, after asking Senator Feinstein's office to check on what's going on with my reimbursements, I did receive a check for $3,221.25 last week, which (they say, but I have no way to check) is the last of the outstanding reimbursements, with the exception of the $900 and some they owe me for travel to Craig Hospital last May. It was amazing how fast that check appeared when her office started asking questions.

Krstofer Evans
3/1 NCCrew:

The fire order you refer to is not meant to be taken literally, but what is says is true. You have looked at the safety factors, make a plan and follow the 10-18 & LCES. Now is the time you can fight fire aggressively. Here is why this order nags me.... For some reason it is the one order we remember and second the word aggressive is placed before the word safety. Reverse the phrases and make it work.

Go to 6 minutes for Safety and read further

3/1 Sometimes "blown out of proportion" is the final step from making it to the black. (Just an opinion.)

-- Ghostload
3/1 Ab and All,

I've been reading the posts about the TNC's incident in Florida and the responses on both sides of the issue. And for me it seems reminiscent of a debate I got involved with a few months earlier about LODD's. I think its a fair assumption that everyone has felt a little more heat then was desired during an IA or what not... you know, been pulling the hose (just a little too close in hindsight) up to the fire when it flared, even if ever so slight. Obviously the TNC's incident was unfortunate and a mistake was made, the evidence of that is in the injury.

But this incident, along with others seems to get at something more. I for one think it has to do with the 10th Fire Order. "Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first." DO NOT GET ME WRONG THIS IS A VITAL ORDER! But something about its very nature doesn't seem pragmatic. In the TNC's case it seems like a firefighter took an aggressive action to keep the fire in check and as such was injured. He had the first part of the order down, just not the second part. At a basic level these two parts of the order seem in conflict, that as aggressiveness increases the risk of injury increases or perhaps safety must decrease somehow. A rudimentary example is running to advance a progressive hose lay, if you run you increase your risk of tripping and possibly spraining an ankle or breaking a leg in the fall.

Since my first fire class the order has nagged at me...maybe someone can help "de-nag" it for me.

3/1 The Jobs page, wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated. They will not be updated again until Friday. Ab.
3/1 Backburnfs,

I for one am a contract firefighter, and i have worked for 2 of the largest, better known contract companies in the business. I am currently working for a "less-known" engine contractor, and feel that it is a better company altogether than the larger ones i have worked for.

Being a contract firefighter in no way changes the duties performed while on an incident, in fact i have been on fires where the contractors receive better evaluations than the agency crews and engines have. This may just be luck of the draw but i take great pride in knowing that we are looked up to by overhead teams and fellow firefighters. My engine crew has been "specially-requested" for many incidents by teams that have worked with us in the past, which in my mind says we are doing something right out there.

I think that the main issue between contractor vs. agency is that contractors are spotlighted alot more as a whole, especially when something tragic happens. We contractors have always been targeted as "inferior" compared to agency, but that in no way makes us ignorant or less skilled or trained. I agree that SOME contract companies are fly-by-night and have less training than should be in place, and should probably be overlooked when dispatches are being made, but there are also some agency crews out there that i could say the same about.

I am not going to brag about my training or experience, but i find it hilarious when i am looked down upon as a contract firefighter when some agency newbie or 2nd year firefighter has something to say about the fact that i am contract...... this will be my 10th season in wildfire. I guess all i really want to say is...... some of us contract guys have our stuff together, and the only time attention is brought to us in a whole.. is when something careless happens, and someone gets hurt or killed... then we are the "inferior, less trained contractors"!! Most accidents are a result of personal error...and has little or nothing to do with who the firefighter actually works for, in MOST cases!!!

anyways, i just wanted to shed some light from the contractors corner ...thanks,
Smoke-Chaser In Idaho
3/1 Ab,

This message was posted on theysaid on 1/25

Does anyone know what happened to the "California Wildland Firefighters Memorial Highway" and the "California Wildland Fire Fighters Picnic Area" on the Cleveland National Forest? I thought they were a done deal after the State Senate designated the highway several years ago.

Please see message below from Judy Behrens (from the Cleveland NF) with an update on the Firefighter memorial that is on their Forest. There was a question regarding the status of this memorial on your Jan 25 "TheySaid" page and this email answers the question -- if you could PLEASE post Judy's email to your TheySaid to help get the update out to your audience I would appreciate it-- THANKS! -- take care -- Cathleen

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Firefighter Memorial Picnic Area is open to the public; however, the actual FF Memorial site is still closed, so that we can begin working on the memorial. The site for the memorial has been selected, has been leveled, and is ready for pouring of the concrete plane. The plane will contain the Maltese Cross and in the center, the keystone that was signed by all the attendees at the groundbreaking ceremonies. We are working with a master stonecutter who will be carving the donor names on a granite wall that will be erected to form a backdrop. In the backdrop wall will be placed the two bronze plaques that had been placed in the original memorial......one for the Decker Canyon fatalities and one for the Loop Fire fatalities. There will be an accessible walkway to the memorial with benches located along the outside perimeter of the concrete plane. A sign was purchased for the FF Memorial Picnic Area and will be erected.

Due to many personnel changes--transfers and retirements-along with the death of one of the primary Memorial committee members, it has taken time to reorganize. However, we are now on track and, in fact, are working on the fundraising aspects of the project. Currently we are selling FF Memorial pins ($5.00 ea) to supplement other funding sources. Anyone who is interested in purchasing a pin or pins can contact me. The California Wildland Firefighter Memorial group is a 501c3 non-profit and we have established a banking account to deposit donations. Re fundraising.....the pin sales are Phase I of the fundraising; Phase II will be the sale of "bricks" to be carved on the backdrop wall and the edging of the walkway, as well as the benches. If there are any further questions, I would be glad to respond to them.

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

I'll get the Memorials page info updated next Saturday when I work on the photos. Thanks for the clarification. Ab.

3/1 Ab - 2 Comments:

At the NWSA contractors meeting 2 weeks ago, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation received over $25,000 in donations from the CONTRACTING COMMUNITY - funding that enables the Foundation to continue all they do for our fallen firefighter families and survivors. -- What a truly outstanding commentary in a world that is filled with so much derision, tension and ill-feeling about how contractor performance, trust, etc.

Without saying much more - remember these are the funds that go to help "The Family That Is US - the Entire Wildland Firefighting Community." Whenever any wildland firefighter goes down. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is first on the scene without judgment, investigation, or complicated process on entitlement. Their donations and funding come from the community, and this donation from the contracting world says a lot about how much real people care each other and the respect they have for the mission of the Foundation. So, next time something painful happens - remember that if the contractors can give, without asking - then let's give them due credit for their caring. This is support from the heart.

The prescribed fire season is upon us, especially as we go at it full bore in certain areas of the country until the weather turns on the Rx season. Can we each be a little giving too, now before next fire season? Contact the Foundation at their website, and next time you look at a crew or engine that isn't green, or yellow - think of their leadership whose generosity and what they put on the table. - thanks Ab

>From Long-time Reader
3/1 sign me: _________ ,

Proven point. If, in fact as you stated, you do burn folks facial hair every year then you obviously have "normalized the risk." Second and third degree burns not an incident? Talk about re-enforcing poor judgment at the best!

I am not going to judge all R-8 firefighters by your remarks, but I sure would not send anyone I cared about to "train" under you!

You are right about one thing....this is a great forum.......thanks AB

3/1 Ab,

These are the main awards I could find mentioned on theysaid. There was one more made by the Plumas to one of the CDF team ICs. Don't remember when that was. Maybe you do. Thanks again for this website. I know it takes lots of work by several people on this board and behind the scenes.

I'm off to the Division Chief Conference today.
I'm sure I'll see some of you there.
Don't forget to visit the FWFSA table.

Drive safe.

Thanks NorCal Tom. I started a page of Wildland Firefighter Awards with the info. The Cal Yarborough Award for 2004 will be made this week. Ab.

3/1 I agree with Dick and Tony,
when _______ said "heat blast is all this guy got", I had to chuckle to myself. I for one believe that a blast of heat near your face is a dangerous situation. My airway is pretty important to me! The fact that it happened on a prescribed fire is a big concern. I get a sense that _______ may be someone who thinks taking some heat defines how good of a firefighter you are.

3/1 Lobotomy and all other kinds of fruits,

Talk about apples and oranges. You compare R-6, R-1 and R-4 with R-5, that is like mixing oranges and watermelons.

Fortunately I have, in the last 28 fire seasons, worked in all those areas on many fires and have seen the good and bad of each.

The multiple agencies in California can’t even communicate to one another on a going fire. This is such a problem that “Blue Ribbon” panels have to be organized to try to solve the problem before another disaster occurs.

I never have supported the mass #s of contract firefighting forces that have come out of the wood work over the last decade or so. My lack of support has had no effect on stemming the tide and somewhere, someone has decided to privatize the wildland fire service to an obscene level. Like I said millions if not billions of dollars are at stake in this game. Money talks.

The growth of fire contractors cannot be blamed on any administration or political party. They have multiplied under both of the Bush’s and Clinton’s watches, and during times when the legislative branch was in majority control of both parties.

I agree that the majority of the agency fire resources exceed training, qualification and production requirements. Apparently no one cares enough about that to either increase the standards or enforce the existing standards of many of the contract resources.

There are several quality contract fire organizations and I am not lumping all in one basket. However even the really good companies have problems when the demand for crews and the profit margin override safety and common sense and they start recruiting “firefighters” off the streets and forming crews. This is not unlike the way the FS used to go into the bars and skid rows and enlist firefighters for an emergency.

On the agency side there is a large difference in the requirements for FS vs DOI vs state fire qualifications. The FS requirements being the most stringent at this time.

The only way I can see to help solve any of these problems is to document the good and poor performance of all resources on an incident fairly and honestly, and require all wildland firefighters to follow the same set of qualification rules regardless of their ownership. This would help level the field and make our profession safer and more productive.

3/1 Dear Ab:

FWFSA will have a "Legislative update" at 1800 in Ballroom "A" at the Atlantis Casino on Wednesday, March 3rd. It's open to any member or Firefighter interested in membership.

Portal to Portal is moving in Congress, Our Business Manager Casey Judd will provide the latest information. If any Wildland Firefighters would like to stop in, Please do.

Mike Preasmeyer
President - FWFSA
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