April, 2004

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4/30 Some of the AT pilots are reading the NTSB report and see it the way I did. FINIS? See the -Say
Goodnight Gracie- thread. Good Grief Charlie Brown. What would firefighting be like without the
snoopie and red baron contingent overhead?

You go Lobotomy et al - you'uns what's heading to the big Washington town. Politic with the best of
'em. Kick some a$$. An' Muchas Gracias for the work you do!

Tahoe Terrie

4/30 I think it is important for you folks to know that the heavy air tanker program is in serious jeopardy. In fact it is to the degree that we may not see any big boys this year, except for those five airtankers already on contract. I need to know how you will feel when you do not have that resource available to you to help in the firefighting efforts.

If you feel like I do, I feel it will seriously effect the efficiency, and effectiveness of the firefighting effort and will effect the safety of you folks on the ground. I feel air tankers are an important tool in the tool box and I do not want to loose the ability to have that resource available to me when I need it. They are very good tool just like helicopters. One does not replace the other, but they work well together. Each has their place on the fire, I don't want to loose the big boys. what do you think?


We need all the tools in the box. The ATs are an important tool. Ab.

4/30 Mellie, Old Fire Guy, Chicken, Casey, DF, and Ab:

Wow... what a great discussion of issues regarding portal to portal pay and classification. It's great that it's just before the FWFSA trip to DC again and just hitting on the issues.....

Mellie's post regarding the costs of cooperators is correct nationwide. Anyplace that a cooperator fills a slot that a Federal Wildland Firefighter can fill, there are increased costs to the taxpayer, even if portal to portal pay was given to the Federal folks. Backfill and admin costs make it even more expensive.......

Old Fire Guy, let the base time idea go away...... 24 hours of base time without differentials just equals out to the same old formula as we are using now (and insures public servitude to over 15,000 federal employees)... WE ARE LOOKING TO INCREASE RETENTION and RECRUITMENT and SAVE the federal government money.... not to make the wildland firefighters think they are getting something better under a smokescreen as you propose. Your proposal will continue TO INCREASE GOVERNMENT COSTS as federal wildland firefighters get trained and go elsewhere.

....... To improve recruitment and retention, you have to be COMPETITIVE. Being competitive will SAVE THE GOVERNMENT money..... HR 2963 does THAT and improves the Federal Wildland Fire Service.

Chicken, Interagency Teams are a great idea... they are working nationwide... NOT JUST IN CALIFORNIA...... take a look at the membership of the Northwest Team that you cited...... You might be amazed at the similarities between the California Team and the Northwest Team. Teams nationwide are similar.

Casey... great job.. keep up the good work!!!

DF, yep... that basically shows how the computations work.. maybe you should share them with Old Fire Guy.

Ab, thanks for the forum....... We wildland firefighters are always appreciative.

O.K.... Off to D.C. next week....

4/30 Ya know, I'm sorry that my federal brothers and sisters in green and gray
and khaki don't get paid as they should. They have worked side by side with
me and are some of the best fire people I know, doing the same work as I do.
Yet it's an embarrassing thing that they are paid so dramatically different.
It's a sin they are not compensated as they should be! But one thing I know
for sure is how hard I work and the professionalism and commitment I bring
to my fire assignments...and yes I work for a County Fire Department in

I too have worked with probably most of the country's teams in one
assignment or another. There are highs and lows in all of them. And yes, we
have all seen abuses from local government folks, but we certainly don't
have that market cornered. There are jerks and unprofessionals of all color.
I have worked as an Operations Section Chief, Planning Section Chief, and in
many, many assignments as a DIVS or OPBD. My own roots in my early years
were in great jobs in both the USFS and CDF. I am very proud of my roots in
these organizations and am VERY proud of the job I do and the
professionalism I continue to bring to an incident. I still tell people
after 32 years in the fire service there is still a lot of "ranger in me".
So you can imagine how distasteful I find "One of the Chicken's" comments. I
am not alone. There are a lot of contract county/local government people who
believe wildland fire is the better part of their career.

Please don't take us on as you try to get what is right for federal
employees. We are not your enemy, we are among your true believers and best
supporters. We believe we bring value to your incidents and contribute to
the betterment of this, "our profession". Best of luck in your collective
efforts to get what you're due. We, your local government brothers and
sisters, look forward to serving together with you on the ground, and in
seeing that you get paid appropriately.

Contract County Guy

Well said. Ab.
4/30 Mellie, as long as you brought it up...
Ok, I'll jump with both feet into the stew pot.

Are the California overhead individuals who were paid $100,000 in overtime last year cut from the same cloth as the California team who took a turn at running the Corsicana recovery base at Columbia shuttle recovery last year? I served in Corsicana under several overhead teams. I'll use two as an example: a Northwest USFS team and a California team.

The Northwest team was professional, accessible and organized. All-in-all a class act. They mostly tented in the camp with everyone else and made the best of a challenging situation. The camp was clean, organized and was largely free of monkey business. What affected the chickens affected the roosters. They earned a lot of respect, certainly mine.

Then the California team came in. Among other changes, they stayed in motels. The difference in camp was striking. Once the paperwork was turned in at night, they were gone. Much like the "broken window" syndrome, things loosened up and some of the more unsavory hand crews took advantage of it. Substance abuse and fighting in the tenting areas was not uncommon. Trash began to pile up. The courtesy bus to Wal-Mart became a booze run. Day-by-day, camp life for those of us in the trenches took a huge dive.

I worked with div. sups. and strike team leaders sent in from California municipalities. One of them quite proudly told me what he was making on the deployment--portal to portal, overtime, differentials--and I about fell off my chair. Add backfill expenses and one could hire a team of pin-striped Philadelphia lawyers for what it cost the government to keep these individuals. USFS ADs were the chumps. Their total cost to the government was about a fourth, for the same work.

Now lets add in the California wildfires last fall. California municipal firefighters were brought in by the thousands in their city fire trucks. One of the engine teams I parked next to came prepared with their bar-b-que and lounge chairs--I'm sure to unwind from those tough days in staging. Back fill, portal to portal, differentials. The government probably paid more per day for one of those engines and its crew than a Type Two helicopter. Mellie, you probably have the hard numbers, so I'm not telling you anything.

When it comes to costs, some are laughing all the way to the bank with work rules sweet enough to make even a union negotiator blush. Others are getting screwed.

I certainly hope there is a middle ground somewhere.

One of the Chickens.

Readers and Chicken, this isn't about blasting California teams or any teams. Mellie described what appears to contribute to rising costs of suppression within one team that happens to be from California. She used that example to illustrate why it makes financial sense to employ and retain Federal firefighters with fair pay, etc. Please let's keep the discussion to the issues, if we can. We don't want this to turn into a team from this region vs a team from that region. Members of all of our fire teams are public servants, most are public servants of the best sort, even the individuals that may be paid more than their fair share. They didn't invent the system. Ab.

4/30 In relation to Squirrel's question about the 10 Fire Orders, my agency (CDF) started using the FIREORDERS acronym awhile back, mostly, I think, to make them easier to remember for the inmate fire crews. I learned them as the three sets of three plus the tenth many years back, and, in fact, can't recite them by the FIREORDERS acronym. CDF has recently gone back to this original method in order to reinforce the meanings of each one. At least, that's what the policy letter said. Sorry, I don't know what LACO uses. As far as the worthiness of each system, obviously I like the 3x3, but whatever works is fine. Just don't get caught up in the act of memorizing stuff without understanding the meaning behind it.

4/30 Dear LACo Folks,

I would appreciate your help with this. I want to make myself really familiar with the 10 standard fire orders. As a County explorer we learned the acronym F.I.R.E.O.R.D.E.R.S., but searching on the internet these past months I noticed the "revised" orders.

What does LA County use?
Are they different, depending on what agency you're with?
Does anyone see a problem with this?

I'd love a link to the EXACT words of the one used by county. Whether you know it or not, by these discussions, ya'll are training up the next generation, thank you.

The Squirrel
4/30 Here is a memo from the WO concerning cost
accountability for fire telecommunications

My personal take on this is the person who wrote it is
a little out of touch with the field. The people who
get to the higher positions of Information Resource
Management are usually computer types that are only
familiar with what is on their desk, the result is
radio programs getting neglected.

The idea of another ICS position for comm is good, the
COML is overloaded at the start and end of the fire.
The problem is finding qualified people willing to
accept the job.

With all the talk of accountability I would think
management would be nervous having someone who had a 3
day class and only did the job maybe 2 or 3 times a
summer to be taking care of something as critical as
communications. Folks like this can manage until there
is a problem, then they don't have the background to
develop a fix. It actually really scares me.

For a few of the recommendations, the people
authorized to do the job are already stretched thin and
facing outsoucing with the A76 study of IRM.

The recommendation for the Key phone system, the type
I am familiar with was outdated at least 12 years ago.
Phone switches also do not tolerate heat, dust and
vibration and need a clean power source.

4/30 Here's another consideration that comes under the category of fair pay for and retention of wildland firefighters and one explanation (among a number of explanations) for why fire suppression costs have risen so drastically in the last few years.

I got a note from a friend who had been at the R5 team meetings. In our discussion back and forth I asked about their team composition and associated costs. He/she made two points. (Note, the person's gender is not in question <smerk><scrutenizing><appraising>, I just want to protect their identity. <lifted eyebrow>)

This particular FEDERAL interagency incident management team my friend is associated with currently has more than 70% local government and DOD employees. It used to be composed of 95% Federal Wildland Firefighters and 5% local government trainees.

The LA County folks (<snip> of them) each earned over $100,000 of OT while assigned to the team last year. With the backfill costs, this resulted in over $1,000,000 (for this team alone) being charged to the US Government (that's our bill, the US taxpayers). This is NOT COUNTING BASE TIME.

The pay information is available under FOIA, by the way. Two more points from me:

  • I haven't looked at the team lists to see how this IIMT compares with others in CA regarding non-Fed composition. It might have slightly more non-Federal members than most teams.

    What is clear is that there's incredible inequity between costs linked with federal firefighters vs costs linked with other firefighters -- both on the teams and on the fireline. Federal is cheaper (better say "less expensive" as in "more bang for the buck") and will still be less expensive with enactment of the portal to portal law.
  • It's also clear that retaining federal firefighters by paying them fairly could be VERY COST EFFECTIVE in the overall financial scheme of things. Congress needs to know these facts. It is to the taxpayer's benefit to retain FEDERAL wildland firefighters that they already trained up at some cost.

Please note that I am all FOR THE INTERAGENCY FIRE ORGANIZATION. I support the part each group and agency plays in the organization. I just think that Legislators and the tax-paying Public need to be educated to understand the whole fire cost "enchellata", as my hispanic relative would say.

Thanks FWFSA for your good work. Thanks Casey. When do ya'll go to Washington?


4/30 From Marta Witt, Public Affairs Officer:

Remembered for love of outdoors
By Kirsten Singleton of the Winona Daily News

"There's comfort in knowing that her brothers Al and Steve are together,
Linda Toepke said.

Al Toepke, 30, the son of David and Sharon Toepke of Winona, died early
Saturday after being hit while walking across the interstate in West
Memphis, Ark.

His brother, Steve, died in June 1997 in a canoeing accident in Alaska.

"It's pretty tough," said Linda Toepke, 23. 'But the one thing that I think
brings a lot of peace to us is that those two boys are together. They're
together, and they're having a good time wherever they are.'"

Story originally printed in the Winona Daily News or online at
www.winonadailynews.com. You can read the whole thing there.

I am very glad to hear that Al's family pursued tissue donation. What a fine contribution to others and hard to think about in the midst of tragedy. The funeral is tomorrow. My prayers are with them. Ab.

4/30 Dear Ab:

FOR :Scott Puckett who is looking for some merchandise, he can e-mail me directly at FWFSAlobby@aol.com

FOR: Nerd on Fire Line & Old Fire Guy

The idea that the portal-to-portal bill is a budget buster is a natural initial response to legislation that seeks to increase pay and benefits for employees. This position is nothing new to us who have lobbied congress for years. The best example was lobbying for increased pay and benefits on behalf of Department of Defense federal firefighters. We heard the same whining from DoD...its too expensive, we can't afford it, blah, blah, blah.

Of course as we testified in favor of the bill, we were armed with GAO report after GAO report on how DoD wastes, and literally loses hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Loses in the sense of "gosh, it was right here a minute ago, we don't know where it went."

Consistently, DoD was graded an F for its fiscal management and it was our job, successful in the end, to convince congress that DoD could afford such legislation if it simply managed its financial affairs as each of us are expected to. In other words, it was our message that DoD ought to re-prioritize their spending practices to take care of those who protect the federal assets paid for by the American taxpayer.

The same argument can be made with the portal to portal bill. Our federal wildland firefighters protect the natural resources, and thus federal assets that taxpayers pay for with their tax dollars. Through added tasks, they do even more. The difference in this case is that we are not suggesting that portal to portal be added on top of what is already being spent on firefighting each season. Rather, we expect to change the mind-set on how firefighting is funded.

A fully-staffed, properly paid federal wildland fire service would decrease, if not eliminate retention and recruitment issues. Some would argue recruitment is not a problem. In turn, since I'm at the academy here in Sacramento occassionally, I can tell you that recruits do not always equate to qualified, hired employees.

By properly paying and staffing our federal wildland firefighters, the over-reliance on price-gouging, for-profit contractors and expensive cooperators is significantly reduced to the point that even paying our federal wildland firefighters portal to portal, IS STILL less costly to the government and the american taxpayer than the current reliance on others.

The data is clear. Congressional Record is clear on the subject. Now we must convince those that appropriate those tax dollars to USDA and the Forest Service that we must change the system to improve our federal wildland firefighting system while at the same time saving the government and the american taxpayer $$.

This is certainly not insurmountable. If you look at the current cosponsor list, you'll see some of the most fiscally conservative members of congress supporting this bill. Why? Because we have taken the time and been patient to 1) develop trusting relationships with them and 2) been able to demonstrate the merits of our issues by educating them.

Changing the mind-set of a government agency is not easy. But if we quit just because a few folks said it couldn't be done, what the heck is the point in fighting for what all of these brave men and women deserve.

This isn't a recent battle. This fight has been going on for decades but I for one, am damn determined to accomplish this feat in the near future because of my commitment to all of those who perform this admirable job. They deserve it, it is the right thing to do and, regardless of how long it takes, we'll educate every darn member of congress and every darn taxpayer.

Just today, Mr. Gladics, the naysayer staff person, e-mailed me in essence crying "uncle." He now is willing to meet with us next week and has even conceded that there is some common ground after all. Those of you that responded to my call to arms accomplished a heck of a feat in a couple of days.

So, to those that have concerns about the bill, take into consideration several things. The bill was introduced by a fiscally conservative Republican. One of the original founders of the Congressional Fire Service Caucus is a cosponsor...also a Republican. The fourth ranking Republican is a cosponsor.. yet, there are more Democrats on this Republican bill than there are Republicans. Tell that to anyone on Capitol Hill and it raises eyebrows.

Bottom line, these men and women deserve no less. Join us in getting this accomplished. Thanks.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn.
4/30 DF
I might have missed something in my reading of the bill, but amendment

"Sec. 2 (b) (2) Limitation - Notwithstanding any other provision of law,
for any 24-hour period, the total amount in basic pay and premium pay
payable to a wildland firefighter as a result of the application of this
subsection may not exceed the amount equal to the sum of --
(A) 16 times the firefighter's hourly rate of basic pay; and
(B) 8 times the firefighter's overtime hourly rate of pay."

would yield by your example ff @$5.
16 x 5 = 80
8x 7.50 = 60
Total $140 maximum allowed.

Again, my suggestion would be the equivalent of guaranteeing every day of
the assignment to be pay equal to a 16 hour shift. I think that would be
an increase over what most assignments actually yield.
Thanks for getting into the discussion. Ab, thanks for providing the

Old Fire Guy

4/30 Question for DF, $5 per hour in the US? surely that was only an example for
easy calculations. or were you are talking NET pay after multiple
deductions..... there is a Federal minimum hourly wage law of something like $6.25
per hour.

Old Fire Guy is thinking outside the proverbial "box" - his analysis could be
an "overhead" cost cutting measure by reducing the hours of accounting effort
processing payroll, diminish mistakes & speed up the process if there were
fewer variables when calculating pay = fewer headaches for you if you think you
were shortchanged on your paycheck. never forget the "overhead costs"
that erode fire budget.

Master Aircraft Firefighter, sincere condolences to all.

safe fire season, Ladies & Gentlemen
4/30 Would the person who sent in the email with Storm King or South Canyon in the subject line please send it again? I noticed it just as I hit the delete button on the trash (spam) file this morning. Don't know why that message was there, some just go there until I correct them. Ab.
4/29 Old Fire Guy, keep ducking.

I would just as soon keep the current pay scale with the various differentials (hazard/night/sunday and ot)
than potentially loose several thousand dollars a year getting paid 24 hours on your system. Here are the
numbers for a GS-1/2 getting paid $5.00 an hour.

As long as there is a chance that we can get the portal - portal bill passed, I say stay the course. We can
always ask to be gyped later.



           Current 16hr             Current IA 24hr          Old Fire Guy 24hr
  Base     5.00 x  8 = 40           5.00 x  8 =  40          5.00 x 24 = 120
    OT     7.50 x  8 = 60           7.50 x 16 = 120
Hazard     1.25 x 16 = 20           1.25 x 24 =  30
                      120.00                    190.00                   120.00
4/29 I agree with Old Fire Guy. Mr. Gladics’ comments about this bill being a budget killer are probably
exaggerated, but as the bill is written it’s a bit hard to defend. Not being a federal firefighter, I don’t
have the numbers at hand, but it seems to me that portal-to-portal pay at a fixed rate might not result
in firefighters getting paid more, but would result in firefighters being paid more realistically.

Nerd on the Fireline
4/29 My son is a wildland firefighter with the State of New Mexico, and I am
wanting to get him some wildland firefighter merchandise, but I don't know
where to look. I have searched the net for everything, but could only find
the stuff at firecache.com. He just graduated from High School, and I am
wanting to surprise him with some shirts, hats, etc. If you could help me
out, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you for your time,
Scott Puckett

Readers, we'll pass the info on. Ab.

4/29 At the risk of annoying the hell out of some readers.....
I just re-read the proposed Portal-to-Portal bill. Here's my take on it.
I don't think this has much chance of passing as written. It creates the appearance of significant cost beyond current expenditures. In the economic climate of today, I doubt it would succeed.

I would suggest considering a "compromise" that might have a better chance of success. That would be:
1. Firefighter pay would be calculated at base pay x 24 hours. No additional premiums would apply.
2. Hours would be calculated from time of departure to time of return.
3. Note that a 16 hour "shift" would by today's standards include 8 hours reg. time. 8 hours @ OT (1 1/2). 16 hours Hazard pay @ 1/4 time = 24 hours of pay! Same as with item 1.
4. Benefits? Firefighters get paid the same as if every shift were 16 hours (the max allowed) with H pay. The incentive to "stretch" the shift to the max would be removed (and we know this happens).
5. Costs? Well.....the firefighters might make a little more money, but there might also be opportunity to balance that with savings. Timekeeping would boil down to "how many hours were you assigned to this P code"? x your base pay. Thus eliminating the need for red dogs showing "night differential" "regular time" "overtime" "hazard pay" etc. all of
which takes time and people to record and process.

Again, just my opinion that the bill as written will have a tough time passing. And a bill that is easier to understand and less costly might make it.

Okay, I'll get ready to duck.

Old Fire Guy
4/29 Ab ,

One of our own died in the line of duty Wednesday afternoon, in coolage AZ -- EMT Tammy Maundel. Sorry if I spelled the name incorrectly, I have not got confirmation of Spelling yet. She on duty with Southwest Ambulance transporting a patient from Florence, AZ when a tractor trailer jack knifed and killed her and seriously injured her partner, I had heard from close friends that it was to be her last shift, she was taking maternity leave as she was nine months pregnant at the time of her death, my deepest regards to her husband, family and friends. we will miss her.....

I will get more details when they become available.

Master Aircraft Firefighter

Condolences. Ab.

4/29 Ab,
Please share the 72 hour fatality report.

Old Fire Guy

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

USDA Forest Service WO

File Code: 6730 Date: April 27, 2004
Route To:
Subject: Expanded (72-Hour) Briefing - Arkansas Interstate 40 Incident - April 24, 2004
To: Agency DASHO


Deceased Firefighter: Alan Toepke
Injured Firefighter: Vance Hazelton

Preliminary Factual Findings: The crew was returning from a fire assignment. The crew had stopped for the night and was residing in a hotel adjacent to Interstate 40. The accident occurred approximately 12:00 midnight (per Arkansas State Police Report). Visibility was reduced because of rain and darkness. Three crewmembers were attempting to cross Interstate 40. Two crewmembers were struck by an 18-wheel, semi-truck. One sustained serious injuries; one was fatally injured. The injured firefighter is in serious but stable condition at a local Memphis, Tennessee hospital. The three crewmember's destination was to a restaurant/bar on the opposite side of the interstate to check for fellow crewmembers. Alcohol was consumed by some crewmembers after they checked into the hotel and were off shift.

Narrative: One firefighter was killed and another severely injured in an accident that occurred while the Midewin Interagency Hotshot Crew was returning to the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie, their home unit in Wilmington, Illinois. The crew was demobilized from the East Fork Fire on the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee, Florida on Thursday, April 22, 2004. They began the drive home on the following day. On Friday morning, the crew left Tallahassee at 0800 and drove until 1730 when they stopped for the night in West Memphis, Arkansas. The accident occurred at 12:00 a.m. (per Arkansas State Police Report) on Saturday, April 24, 2004, in West Memphis, Arkansas. Alan Toepke, 30, was killed and Vance Hazelton, 30, was injured and remains hospitalized in Memphis, Tennessee.

They were attempting to cross U.S. Interstate 40 on foot near the hotel where they were staying. At the time of the accident, visibility was reduced because of rain and darkness. Their destination was a restaurant/bar on the opposite side of the interstate to look for fellow crewmembers. On Saturday, April 24, 2204, the remainder of the crew was moved to another location away from the accident site and was flown home on Sunday afternoon. Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is underway and ongoing. The Arkansas State Police conducted investigation of the accident site and a report was provided. A Forest Service Special Agent arrived at the incident site on Saturday morning by 0900 and began gathering preliminary information. A Forest Service Serious Accident Investigation Team arrived in West Memphis, Arkansas on Sunday, April 25, 2004, to investigate the accident.

/s/Jimmy L. Reaves
Team Leader

Thanks. Ab.

4/29 R5 so zone,

From where I was in South Zone, the whole season was busy, start to finish.... We had a few IMT's on our Forest before the October Siege managing other fires.... and IA fires were presenting extreme difficulty in control all season long.... Going to other units, I saw 2 inch tall grass give off 6 foot flame lenghts.... pretty extreme fire behavior.... Nothing slow at all about last season......

ERC's were at 90-97th+++ percentile... They are still above 90th percentile in many locations right now... in APRIL!!!! Look out for the real fire season. Brush mortality and cured grass component is the key... secondary timber mortality is an added risk, but down here the brush and grasses create the primary problem to life and property.

The Pleasure Fire in Riverside CDF was just an example of things to come.... fuels driven fire according to 209 reports..... How the heck do we have a fuels driven fire in April ? ... answer.... five years of drought.

As you said... "firefighters be on your toes and expect extreme fire conditions" ... they are already happening...

PS - BDU, ANF, BDF, and CDD each sent strike teams to a fire today in the Owens Valley.....

Rogue Rivers
4/29 Frank_Gladics -- "His title is Professional Staff Member, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources" hmmmmm, NICE TITLE, WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

My title is Professional Question Asker when it taps into my tax dollars for little or no return on my hard earned donation to your salary.

Mr Gladics, aren't all professionals well trained, expected to respond in a timely fashion to those who depend on their expertise in a time of emergency?

respectfully yours,

readers, VENTING, not what I'd write to any govt official
4/29 KJC & Oliver - funny funny cynical stuff - TY for the chuckles; post more!
< wish Ab could post the old story "so you want to be a Hotshot".

Marta: pls send best wishes for a fast & complete recovery to Vance & crewmembers who were traumatized and mourning because of that horrific accident.

Fedfire - been reading your posts a long time & for the most part agree with your intent - ok, maybe a few hair splitting from time to time. :) debate is a good thing - raises consciousness.
Me thinks most who post here are on same page when it's the bottom line of recent gooferment decisions vs reality.

Not all who post or read this site are R5ers, nor employed by the same Fed/state/local organization. for sure, not all FFs have the same degree of sophistication about mid or upper management decisions by region. Unfortunately the fire field is not even, never has been & never will be in my lifetime.

Most of us are "mushrooms" at the mercy of elected officials who hold the purse strings & make bad decisions that effect WFFs livelihood & well-being. We must ensure our concerns are known/ understood/ realized/ addressed... contact all decision makers at the highest level - write/email/fax!

Safety first Ladies & Gentlemen...SAFE FIRE SEASON ALL!

4/28 Will we have ATs, lead planes, jumper ships this season? I know I'm a little late getting to the NTSB report, but we had team meetings last week.

Article with pictures Air Tanker Accidents: NTSB pinpoints crash cause

4/23 News Release NTSB Recommends Rigorous Maintenance Programs for Firefighting Aircraft

4/23 check out what the NTSB says the DoI and DoA need to do HERE (html)
or read the whole 11 page NTSB Safety Recommendations pdf file

If you read over this stuff carefully you come to realize that all the photos on Abs Air Tankers pages may be history as early as this summer. These goals cannot be met. Not only will they not be met for ATs, they can't be met for lead planes or smokejumper planes either.

Am I the only one that thinks this is the writing on the wall???


Tahoe Terrie

PS. Thanks for the humor KJC and Oliver Moore. I enjoyed the stories.

4/28 72-hour report on Illinois IHC fatality is out.

Western FF

Has anyone seen the report on the web? We'll post a link. Ab.

4/28 Update on Vance Hazelton's Condition, 4/28/04

Vance's recovery is progressing so well that he was moved out of the
Intensive Care Unit yesterday evening. His family hopes to transfer him
soon to a hospital closer to home. In anticipation of that event, messages
and cards may be sent to Vance in care of his parents at 953 W. Mark St.,
Winona, MN 55987.

Marta L. Witt, Public Affairs Officer
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
4/28 RE: H.R. 2963, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act


I didn't expect a response but I did get one. Our responses have made an impression :-) I also logged onto the Senator's website and submitted a comment that I hoped his staffer was not expressing the senator's opinion and that he should treat the federal employees with more respect as they are asking more of us these days. First time I've ever written a politician but I couldn't stand to hear the ignorance.

>From: "Gladics, Frank (Energy)" <Frank_Gladics@energy.senate.gov>
>Subject: RE: H.R. 2963, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act
>Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 15:55:49 -0400
>Casey and I are meeting and I will listen - having been a federal fire
>fighter in the 1970's and 80's and being a federal employee today I
>think I understand the job a little bit - albeit fire fighting has
>changed since I last participated in 1987. Sorry to have offended so
>many of you - I will attempt to keep and open mind on this and your

My message to Mr. Gladics
>Mr. Gladics,
>I am appalled at your ignorance of the federal wildland firefighter's
>situation. Being in a state with numerous federal employees from the
>DOI's Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fish and
>Wildlife Service, and USDA's Forest Service, your distain insults your
>constituents. As a federal employee if I was in your state the response
>you gave would ensure my vote for any opponent of Senator Pete Domenici
>at the next election.
>I hope you listen to the educated words of Casey Judd from the FWSA.
>Otherwise there will have to be a grassroots effort to find an elected
>official that can properly represent the state of New Mexico's federal
>We are merely asking for your support for some long overdue legislation
>to extend the same respect to the civilian federal wildland firefighters
>as our local and state brothers and sisters already have. We camp on the
>ground eating "free" food that is not always desirable (but there are
>no stores nearby so it is all we have) and spending extended amounts of
>time away from our spouses, children, and family. I ask you to please
>re-consider your opinion on bill H.R. 2963. If you have any desire for
>further communication I welcome the chance to educate you from the
>perspective of a federal employee working in the fire program.

> <snip contact info>


Nice one.
But, READERS, don't lighten up, keep those "lessons" flowing to Mr Glatics. Ab.

4/28 The new video of the 747 AT from Evergreen. Go to the website and download it. The video
runs for 4 min and it takes a little time to download with Real Player, but you'll get the idea.

Test run is on the desert. Wonder how it would do in the mountains.




To all of you who have exhibited the bravery and courage to face the wrath of Mother Nature in the form of wildfires, WE NEED YOUR HELP.

As many of you know, the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association. (FWFSA) has spent years educating members and staff of congress on issues that affect the nation's federal wildland firefighters. The issue before all of you is important to you regardless of membership in the FWFSA and needs your attention immediately.

Currently, a bill is pending in congress in the House of Representatives to bring portal-to-portal pay to you as well as the inclusion of your Hazardous duty pay in your base pay for retirement calculations. This bill is H.R. 2963, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act and has bipartisan support. I am waiting to hear from the House Civil Service & Agency Organization subcommittee on dates for field hearings in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Additionally, we have been working with staff from Senator Feinstein's office to have her introduce a senate version of the bill. At their suggestion, I provided a significant volume of information to Mr. Gladics who works for New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici who is Chairman of the Senate committee on Energy & Natural Resources.

Attached for your reading DISpleasure is Mr. Gladics' rather ignorant opinion on the issues that are important to all of you. Also attached is my response to him. It is imperative that all of you who are disgusted with Mr. Gladics' position on your issues, let him know, in no uncertain terms, that he is in need of some serious education.

I am calling upon all of you to inundate, barrage, swamp and bury Mr. Gladics with e-mails, phone calls and faxes to offer your displeasure to his serious lack of education.

His e-mail address is: Frank_Gladics@energy.senate.gov

his phone number is 202-224-4971

the fax is 202-224-6163.

His title is Professional Staff Member, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources

Let's provide him an education he'll never forget. If you have any questions, please e-mail me at FWFSAlobby@aol.com or call me at 916-515-1224. Together, we can change the mind-set of the ignorant and achieve our goals all of you so richly deserve.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Thanks for your service, Casey. I'll be calling and emailing today and will pass the word to my family and friends to back us up as well. Ab.

4/28 Abs,

The son of a friend of mine used to be on Midewin IHC. Through him we have learned that the accident
was not a driving accident. It was actually a pedestrian accident. They were rushing to make it back to the
hotel by curfew and were struck by a semi. Evidently they had to go through a hedge and didn't realize the
road was right there when they broke through.


The accident was not a driving accident but a pedestrian accident. I do not know the rest of the particulars EMT_MB reports, but I think we should let the investigation take its course. Ab.
4/28 AB,

I would like to pass on my thanks to "AZ Trailblazer" for his kind comments regarding the HELOPS program at Santa Ynez Airport. HELOPS 2004 is scheduled for 22 May 2004. A flyer is available at the CSFA site at www.csfa.net or at our site at www.firedept.net under training. We have a full day planned and it does include a free BBQ lunch . Participants have signed up form all over California and Arizona for this one day hands-on training day.

Michael S. Williams
Training/Communications Officer
San Marcos Pass VFD
4/28 River, it might help to actually read my whole statement,

"I hope that when the state burns up since the USFS is short 500 FF the idiots behind the freeze are held accountable for it, bad enough to be playing these kinds of stupid games especially in a state that passed 209- but to hold up hiring of FF this late is criminal."

Meaning that I hope the idiots are held accountable for the risks they are placing on the firefighters and citizens of California, not that I hope the state burns up (unfortunately that is all to likely as a result of this).

If there is one single injury or one single home destroyed due to a lack of resources I want to see these people lose their jobs and be personally held accountable. They are playing with peoples lives and property over a political game and they don't even seem to understand what they are doing. CDF and many local agencies are already strapped for cash resulting in staffing shortages and some desk jockey lawyers and agency heads want to pull the equivalent of the SF or Oakland Fire departments full of the best wildland firefighters the state has off the line? If they want to play social engineering games, fine, I think it is a step in the wrong direction but at least wait for the end of fire season don't do it as we head into May.

As for the hothead comment? not much I can say except I've got more than a pinch of the Irish in my linage and of course the Irish are well known for their cool heads :o :)

4/28 I agree with most of what Nomad writes however, I have seen the trend. For
those of us way down south, we have seen 3 new employees hired in
prevention. All three are Non-English speaking Hispanics from Mexico hired
under a work visa. They are paired up with bilingual employees so that issue
has been addressed so far. As far as obtaining citizenship by completion of
the apprentice program, the program will take approximately 2 years to
complete. That also can be stretched as certain criteria need to be met for
completion, i.e., OJT, work experience hours, certain S courses.

It is the hope that those making the selections will pick locally or at
least within the U.S. But with the typical F.S. knee-jerk reactions,
anything is possible. It's as if "let's get this over with and deal with
the outcome later" mentality. For example, it is my understanding that part
of the R5 Hispanic Agreement is that any 89+ day detail or career positions
need to be advertised for 30 days. There is barely a week and half to
advertise and apply.
Selections are to be made on May 7th, which means our new employees cannot
start until June 7th due to the 30 day pack test notification. Unless,
again that gets bypassed.

Well, regardless of who we get out there, it's still our responsibility to
Look up, Look Down and Look Around. Be safe everyone!!

An R5 DirtMiner
4/28 Ab, what's the deal with the Midewin Hotshot fatality and injury reports... No 24 hour or 72 hour report?

Why aren't things being made public.... Lots of us are shaking and scratching our heads right now....

We all grieve at the loss of another brother or sister firefighter... We each want to make things safer... why the hush hush? Get the facts out to the readers and to the trenches..... It may hurt in the short term but be invaluable to the Firefighter Community in the long term...... I don't know the facts or even the suppositions........ but I know rumors spread when people don't know the truth.

4/27 Meaning no disrespect to the Vance, his family, and the others on the Medewin IHC, but I really believe that we're overdue to address the safety issue of IHC's, their "buggies", and the amount of road miles they travel to and from wildfire assignments!

Not too many years ago, one of the main criteria for getting the designation as an IHC was to be "within 2 hours of a jet-port". They had a 4800 pound weight limit 'cause it was determined that an important component of the program was timeliness getting to a fire by aircraft.

Somewhere along the way, Fire Managers and the IHC's have dropped that requirement, and now most if not all IHC's seem to believe that on EVERY assignment it essential for them to drive their crew buggies and Supt's vehicle, no matter what the time or distance involved.

I've watched IHC's work a 14 day fire assignment in Montana's Bitterroot Valley in 2000, pile all 20 folks into the buggies to drive all the way home to the Southwest or SoCal, then take 2 "days off" and drive back to the same fire for another 14 day assignment. Thousands of miles of exposure on the roads, especially in a fatigued condition.

This is a commitment to Safety? If the buggies are so critical, why not transport them on a flatbed using commercial truckers, and use a bus to get the crew to and from the Incident? I'm not looking forward to seeing how Fed OSHA views this last accident, driving nearly 1000 miles after a long pull on a fire assignment!

By the way, our T-1 IMT's are no better: too often they are driving from California/Oregon/Washington to Utah or beyond, "because we need our rigs, and no rentals are available." Or.........maybe 'cause we can't meet the weight requirements and limitations???

I fear that this accident involving IHC/IMT road trips may be only the first of many.....!


Some of your points may be fodder for good discussion. We could take a look at statistics, for example, how many accidents have hotshots had over how many miles, say last season? However, at the beginning of this post, you're making some assumptions about the nature of the accident that caused the death and injury. Perhaps you should wait until we have more information about what happened. Ab.

4/27 remember last fire season in r5 was relatively light until oct. no weather has made
an impact from this winter. conditions remain about the same. so r5 firefighters be
on your toes and expect extreme fire conditions

R5 so zone
4/27 Hi all,
I just read about the tragic loss of one of our brotherin due to an accident on the way home from a fire. That is the time when we really need to be on guard. Our job is to stop wildfires. We have to be safe not only on the line but getting to and from the fires. It is sad to hear that already early in this fire season we have lost one of our own. All Firefighter, structure, wildland, Haz-mat it doesn't matter we are all brothers and sisters. So from one of your brothers to all my firefighter family out there lets be safe. Take care, watch out for one another. And come home to your family friends and a fat pay check. BE SAFE ALL.

4/27 CDF Interview…DONE

Hey, I’d like to thank all of the posters out there who answered my sometimes "weak" questions and helped me with what to expect of the hiring process, questions, etc. The interviewing captain and engineer (whose names I can't remember) put me right at ease and it was just like shootin' the bull at work. There were 7-8 questions and most of them were common sense type.

A bit of advice from a guy who just went through it this a.m….RELAX!!!! I know you're excited about the prospect of fighting fires and skunking around in the boonies. Take your time answering the questions. Don’t go in thinking your gonna B.S. 'em because if you throw some answer out there that you think is what they want to hear, they may ask you to explain further upon it which leaves you sitting there wondering what your gonna say next.

DON'T SIT DOWN AND STEW. If you're checking into an office area and there are several other unsuspecting victims sitting there waiting to go over the top, look what they’re doing. Tapping their feet up and down, twiddling there thumbs, staring at the floor. Nobody is smiling or talking. Get away from that environment it's gonna mess with your head! If it's o.k. with the interviewing personnel, move around as long as you don't go too far. Keep the blood flowing which will help you think. Go over your notes in your head while you're walking around but what ever you do just stay away from the "psych out lounge". If your interview time passes and you’re still waiting to go in…perfect. Use this time to keep reviewing. Keep a clear head and answer the questions truthfully.

Now I wait.
See ‘ya round

Uh-oh, didn't they tell you, the real "test" takes place in the 'psych-out lounge' just before the one that you're scheduled for. Ever hear of the incident within the incident? Well, the 'psych-out-lounge' is the test within the test. Ab. (removing tongue from cheek)
4/27 The report for the "burnover" in Fla earlier this year is out...any body get a copy of it? I did.
AB, fwd emails if anybody wants one.

4/27 With all of the serious stuff we do...we can't forget to have fun.


KJC thanks and thanks to Oliver Moore. Anyone else want to try a hand at this kind of writing? Think of how you'd tell it to yer friends. We'd be happy to help with editing. Ab.

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

Mop-up... Article13... Broken Hips

Across the nation wild land fire fighters are aging faster than the ability to train replacements. As a result accommodations need to be made on fire lines and in fire camps to support an aging work force.

Medical units should have trained staff to deal with the health and safety risks of the higher age bracket. Training in treatment of broken hips, arthritis, incontinence and memory lapses must be given top priority.

Incident action plans, keyboards on portable radios and written materials need to be produced in a font size equal to large print version of Readers Digest.

On a recent fire (at least I think it was recent... memory thing) We had an issue with parking at Incident Command Post. Shut-up... I know every fire has parking issues. I want to discuss the Incident Management Teams inability to deal with handicap (insert your version of PC word now!) parking.

Several government vehicles, state federal and fire departments, showed up at the fire camp displaying the little blue card cards with the stick figure person sitting on top of a wheel... mounted on their rearview mirror.

Most of the drivers of these vehicles were firefighters called back out of retirement. Wearing fresh Tans from Boca Raton with white belts to match the orthopedic sneakers and blue polyester pants.

These aged firefighters were causing a scene in their quest for parking spots close to the ICP. With good reason they argued that the parking permits were valid at any parking lots or parking areas and state law required parking spots, located close to the place of business, be maintained for senior citizens that are less able.

One of the more vociferous graybeards yelled at the camp security officer. "You little whippersnapper…I was fighting fire before your parents met!" The security guard, to her credit maintained her composure. "SIR, she was yelling but only because the supply unit didn't carry hearing aide batteries, Sir you need to calm down and stop pointing that cane at me please."

The senior firefighter replied... " this cane saw me through hard times missy... What the hell this isn't my cane! Frank give me my cane back this is yours... ok... this cane saved my life during hurricane Hugo. Rescue personnel saw my cane waving at them through a hole in my RV roof." After much more yelling, again due to low and dead hearing aide batteries... parking arrangements were made that met everyone's needs.

The point is this... fire managers haven't yet addressed the issues with an aging workforce. Ensure type supplements for meals, adult diapers, poly-dent, support hose and charging outlets for "My Little Scooter" from Ronco are not being stocked on fire cache vans.

Changes to accommodate Senior Firefighters can be self serving…with the grace of god we will be in their orthopedic shoes one day soon.

Oliver Moore ... give granny a hug and yes…be safe out there ... Like Captain Ron told us ... if it's going to happen it's going to happen out there.

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

Mop Up Article 30 - Flying Horses

Remember when a pumper was a water truck with pumping capabilities and not an arterial bleeder on ER?

The good old days… FIRE BOSS…now this was a name bursting with authority and experience… Incident Commander on the other hand reminds me of a line from an old SCI FI movie. "Captain the Grand Imperial Incident Commander of Planet Zolar is on the monitor…he wants to know what our intentions are."

CHIEF SCOUT! The name yelled out everything that was important to you as a young person growing up. Boy and Girl Scouts (before United Way)…the Indian scouts who scouted for Custer on his way to a little place in Montana…and your Uncles International Harvester Scout 4x4 …one of the original SUV's.

After 16 years I'm getting use to the ICS way of life. Nobody can accuse me of standing in way of progress. In fact I've added several ICS positions to our arsenal of positions qualified to provide fire services across this great nation.

Point in case…K.U.L.Knife Unit Leader. Homeland security measures have caused those who fly to fires to leave pocket knives at home or risk confiscation of their favorite blade at the airport.

A firefighter without a knife is like a Forest Supervisor with out a calculator. Pocket knifes should be a GSA item. K.U.L.'s would have replacement knifes in all flavors ... Buck ... Gerber … Old Timer … Kershaw ... etc.

Imagine yourself at a fire without a pocket knife. FF's will be dropping like flies to dehydration. The lack of a pocket knife will make it impossible to remove the NASA developed shrink wrap from the case of bottled water.

Finger nails will go un-cleaned during fire briefings and meetings with the Forest Supervisor. Accidents will happen as some FF'S try to replace the pocket knife and begin to use other tools to get the job done.

Imagine pulaskis swung by delirious FF'S in an attempt to cut through the shrink wrap or worse yet wire brushes from supply being checked out to remove the grime and soot from FF'S fingernails.

Ok a test … who among the readers have ever had a wire puncture to a tip of a finger? Right ..hurts like hell doesn't it?
Almost as bad as sneezing and farting at the same time.

The most important loss of the pocket knife will be at meal time in fire camp. Steak Night!… Or like some of us like to call… pick your pony night.

Standing in line for what seems like hours … with anticipation (newbies) ... or sharpening pocket knifes and placing bets on whether the steak is Appaloosa, American Quarter Horse or Mule … (seasoned veterans).

Hint ... Appaloosa meat has almost an iridescent shine to it. Try cutting through this delicious meat with a plastic knife! My friend Dusty broke his Buck knife during "pick your pony night" on the Wild Horse Fire in Nevada.
Buck ... true to their warranty replaced the knife.

Oliver Moore ... The right tool for the right job ... Be safe

4/27 My most sincere condolences go out to the family, friends and crew members of the Midewin Hotshots.
The loss of a fellow firefighter is felt throughout the firefighting family, may their lives and sacrifice never
be forgotten. My prayers are with everyone touched by this tragic loss and with the recovering hotshot.

~Always Remember, and Never Forget~

4/27 FIRST & FOREMOST: my deepest sympathy to Midewin family and friends.

Even if some are eloquent enough to send personal & meaningful condolences to the families, it's again time for
me and all of us in this vast WFF community to donate to Wildland Firefighter Foundation! Albeit a loss is a
tragic, unfortunately wildland FFs do not receive donations or benefits close to equaling that of structural FFs.

To address some of the posts I've read tonight:
* Fedfire, "I hope that when the state burns up.." harsh words. sincerely hope you aren't as hot headed in real life;
* Nomad, thanks: "While I think this whole settlement agreement thing is BS myself, you might wanna read the fine
print just a little closer" .
*geeze, of course all R5 folk are worried about this SNAFU - job seekers, crew bosses, homeowners, et al.
holler at Washington or our shortsighted elected officials;
* please read & consider previous informational posts before hitting the send button, especially Ab's comments
(they are in italics);
* not all topics here relate to R5. hopefully those in R5 know many CA forestalled is NOT Federal land;
* yes, the R5 fire horizon is scary - it looks like an early season & those east of the great divide will see sunny
Cali soon.... it ain't Nebraska.

Best wishes to all for a safer fire season all,
4/26 Robb,

There was a string of this exact same discussion a few weeks ago when Squirrel
asked almost the same thing. Do a search and you'll find the answers to your

4/26 Wow, you get away from the internet for awhile and things go crazy.

Re: hispanic resolution

I hope that when the state burns up since the USFS is short 500 FF the idiots behind the freeze are held accountable for it, bad enough to be playing these kinds of stupid games especially in a state that passed 209- but to hold up hiring of FF this late is criminal.

I have worked with quite a few "hispanic" FF while at the USFS almost all were good employees but also nearly all left within a season or two based on being too far from their family.

If the region is serious why don't they just go out and hire the 15 porterville blue card crews full time there are 300+ experienced mostly hispanic wildland FF, oh yeah, most are over 37... Guess you can't have your cake and eat it too.

I feel for you current USFS types, I know you'll still get the job done, always do, you didn't need days off anyway. I'll make sure to keep the red bag packed since I expect the pavement queens will be getting out a little more action than usual this year. Good luck, and watch yourselves.

4/26 Robb --

My advice -- call, call, call! From what I understand, there are so many
applicants that it's hard for just a name to stand out. But if you call and
start talking to people, they will remember your name and look more closely at
your app/resume. There are contact name and numbers for most positions.

I don't have all the answers, as I don't have a job yet, either. But with all
the apps I sent out (about 30), the only responses I got back were from the
people I was actively contacting.

Of course now I have to re-apply, for the apprenticeship program in R5 -- so
you can bet I'll be on the phone soon. What a pain to have to go through it
all again. On the bright side, if I end up getting into the apprenticeship
program, it'll be a better position than the one I originally applied for!

Any tips from R5 apprentices (past or present) about getting into the program?

Good luck, Robb, and everyone else trying to get jobs!

4/26 While the official hospital classification is still "serious," Vance and his family want his friends to know that he is doing much better and expects to fully recover and fight fire again next year. He has a fractured right pelvis, broken left ankle, and swelling in both legs. There are no upper body injuries. He is fully conscious, but drowsy sometimes from the pain medication. Medical procedures to relieve the swelling in his left leg require that Vance remain in the Intensive Care Unit in Memphis through the week; his family hopes he will be ready for transport to a hospital closer to home shortly thereafter. Midewin IHC and National Tallgrass Prairie representatives are on site to assist Vance and his family.

Vance is temporarily located at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, ICU, 877 Jefferson Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38103.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks Vicki. That's good, if painful, news. Ab.

4/26 Please, if anyone has info on a local memorial, post it. We're NPS about an hour from there
and have helped each other out since Midewin was created. Their Sup is a good friend. My
condolences to him, his crew and the firefighters families.

4/26 Sad Program,

While I think this whole settlement agreement thing is BS myself, you might wanna read the fine print just a little closer- these potential non-citizens are required to be citizens before training is over. Furthermore, there's actually a few of us who were born & raised here in the ol' US of A. So I'm gonna doubt that the type of hispanics being hired under this proposal will be the make a few bucks & dash on home to Chihuahua variety. You might wanna think about that, because this hispanic has every intention of keeping his person and his money in this country, the one I call home.

4/26 Here's a link to the Cramer Fire suspensions:
Firefighting credentials suspended for those involved in deadly fire


4/26 Hi folks,
to day i heard that the ic and upper level folks on the crammer fire lost all their fire quals?
Has any one heard this, this came from a dispatcher in Id.. Well i see and hear fire season
is starting across the west, lets keep our heads up and be safe out there.

4/26 Just curious about others who work with either USFS or BLM...hearing
anything yet? This is going to be my first season working wildland. I put
in all my applications when the centralized bids opened up in January,
and have only heard back from a single guy whose crew isn't even a fire
crew! I have ff2 and EMT, I would think this was decent enough to at
least get onto a type 2 crew??? If anyone has any pointers or knows more
than I do, drop a note!

4/26 Ab,

I'm always amazed when I stumble upon some wildfire report on the web that nobody else seems to be talking about. One such recent "find" was a December 2003 report by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). It's the fifth of six reports on wildland fire policy that NAPA has prepared for either Congress or Agriculture/Interior Departments since 2000.

This report from the "Containing Wildland Fire Costs" series is titled "Utilizing Local Firefighting Forces" - a topic near and dear this volunteer's heart. I appreciate the time and effort the 40 or so workshop participants (no doubt some of whom are Theysaid regulars) put into drafting this report.

With permission from NAPA, we have put the full report on the Colorado Firecamp website in easier-to-navigate, smaller webpages than the original format. www.coloradofirecamp.com/NAPA_studies/NAPA_local_firefighting_report.php.

The NAPA wildfire study page - where you can find and download all 6 reports - is www.napawash.org/pc_management_studies/ongoing_wildfirepage.phpl

vfd cap'n

ps. Ab - I've also attached a conceptual photo of using cement trucks to haul water on the fireline. I'm not sure if you should add it to the tanker or tender picture pages? It does make the 747 idea seem pretty feasible.
4/26 I can't believe that R-5 has a program that would hire non-citizens to to work in wildland fire. And the liberals cry about job out sourcing to other countries. Giving jobs to non-citizens in the US is no different. Where do they think the money is going to go? It sure is not staying here in the U.S. What a novel idea, give jobs to people that could care less about being an American. Hmmmm, sounds like socialism to me.

Sad Program

I do not agree with having Hispanic quotas or hiring only Hispanics when there are others qualified and other minorities being denied a job. However, my guess is that most Hispanics who are here legally and looking for a job would like to be Americans and will be working toward that. Ab.
4/26 Here's a interview question which I'd like to hear answers for:

CDF asks you to work the season, then after a month on the job another crew which is
your first choice calls up and wants to put you through their academy. What do you do?

Been Interviewed
4/26 Condolences to the hotshot's family. Speedy recovery to the survivor. It's hard to convey
feelings on the internet. We all feel a loss, even when we don't know the people involved

Update on the fire in San Bernardino: 2,334 acres and 90% contained. 752 firefighters
working on it, more than half are CDF. 3 ATs and more helicopters. Supposed to demobe

Early heads up. Be safe.


Photos. Ab.

4/25 Good evening all, sad evening that it is...

I am so sorry to hear about the Al's death and Vance's injury. May their families and friends find
peace and healing. May Vance get completely well soon.

It's hard to know what to say when a person's loved one is lost or injured. Helping tangibly
with the nuts and bolts of financial and travel arrangements is the necessary first compassionate
step, and prayers help. It also helps if the families know their firefighter was loved, made contributions
and will be missed by our community. One thing I've heard from several families is that cards and
short letters of remembrance also help. Anecdotes, stories, if you knew the person, some little special
comment about them. Drop a card in the mail. If you send a donation to the Foundation, stick it in a
card with a brief note and I'm sure Vicki will send it on. Although bereaved family members may be
too stunned at the beginning to read cards, I'm told they do later... and a number of people have said
that the cards and stories matter a lot.

Take care, my dear friends. Take good care of each other. Be safe.
Blackliner and Tallgrass, hugs to you. So sorry for your loss.


4/25 Howdy,

I've been trying to log onto www.nwcg.gov all day and no joy. Haven't
tried in a couple of weeks. Do you know if this is related to the other
government fire sites being taken offline due to litigation? (grumble
grumble grumble...)

Thanks and stay safe.

Loren Davis
Kenwood FPD
4/25 Anyone up for a good ol'e Sunday night chat? after 8:00 p.m. pacific time??.....


4/25 Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
30239 S. State Route 53, Wilmington, IL 60481

Contact: Marta Witt (815) 423-6370


(Wilmington) April 25, 2004 -- One firefighter was killed and another
severely injured in an accident that occurred while the Midewin Interagency
Hotshot Crew was en route to their home base after being released from a
fire assignment in Florida. The Midewin Hotshots, based in Wilmington,
Illinois had been assigned to the East Fork Fire on the Apalachicola
National Forest.

The accident occurred late Friday night, April 23, in West Memphis,
Arkansas. Al Toepke, 30, was killed, and Vance Hazelton, 30, was injured
and remains in serious condition in Memphis, Tennessee. Both men were from
Winona, Minnesota, and were employed by the U.S. Forest Service for the
Midewin Hotshots based on the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in

The cause of the accident is under investigation by the local authorities
and the U.S. Forest Service.

Funeral services for Al Toepke are scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Friday, April
30, at Peace Church in New Salem, North Dakota. A memorial service is
scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Saturday, May 8, in Winona, Minnesota. The
location of the memorial service will be announced later.

The Toepke family has requested that contributions in Al’s memory be made
to either of two organizations:
Dakota Pheasants Forever, Bismarck, North Dakota (www.dakotapf.com)
YMCA Camp Olson to support cabin restoration or camper scholarships
as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2004 (4160 Little Big Boy Road NE,
Longville, MN 56655).

This was Al Toepke’s second season as a wildland firefighter on the Midewin
Interagency Hotshot Crew. He had worked for the U.S. Forest Service
previously in Ketchikan, Alaska on the Tongass National Forest, followed by
jobs with the Minnesota Conservation Corps, and as a general laborer in

Vance Hazelton is a crew squad boss and began his firefighting career in
1998 in Alaska, followed by positions in Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Cards and letters to both families may be sent in care of the Midewin
National Tallgrass Prairie, 30239 S. State Route 53, Wilmington, IL 60481.


Marta L. Witt, Public Affairs Officer
4/25 Pleasure Fire CDF-RRU Update...16:00 hrs. ... 200 to 300 acres... Additional Resources Requested and Branch Directors Assigned.

Evacuations in progress.... collection site is Aguanga Community Center .... Red cross notified for support. Additional Forest Service resources being brought on duty for support.

Fire is burning in grass and light brush....... Crossed Wilson Valley and became a potential threat to the San Bernardino National Forest, still moving parallel to the boundary of the Forest.

OES Strike Team missions initiated... and a BDF Strike Team requested, several other strike teams en-route. Estimated potential 500 acres by the IC. Numerous state, local government and federal resources committed. Large commitment by CDF RRU while still trying to suppress IA fires. Helitanker 794 en-route. One additional helitanker on order. Additional air resources requested through Sacramento CDF......

North to Northeast to East winds and very low humidities........ pretty normal for this time of year.... www.wrh.noaa.gov/TotalForecast/miscObs/raws/CA/ANZA.phpl (Normal Weather)

It's hard to believe this is only APRIL, seems like August or September...... 5th year of drought conditions.... hmmmm..... I'd hate to see what the "real fire season" brings .........

4/25 To the Abs and all,

The Midewin Hotshot Web Page has the time and place and address for Al Toepke services.
Thanks for your post and link for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation on your Home Page.
I will always be grateful for you and the other abs.

4/25 Thanks ABs, it makes a difference to know we're not alone.


4/25 Heartfelt condolences.

I had a chance to work with the Midewin crew and what a fine one. I don't remember individuals, but it hurts to know that one is gone and one is injured and many are suffering. Do you know any more on Vance's condition? anything about services? any address to send cards to?

Anyone reading that can tell the families and Vance we love them, please pass the word.

Ab thanks for the info re who the Wildland Firefighter Foundation represents, ie us. Our HAT. It is good to have some small thing to do. Thanks to Vicki and the Foundation for providing support for us all. I just sent my donation to the foundation paypal and with it an embrace.

Tahoe Terrie

I just talked with the PIO. Vance is now considered by the doctors to be in serious condition. We hope for the best. More information on services, etc should be available tonight or tomorrow morning. Ab.

4/25 A message from the Abs:

It is times of loss like these that we are very thankful for the presence of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. This Foundation is NECESSARY to our wildland fire community and to our fire families. It is necessary to every firefighter in our community who wants to funnel their support and caring to the families in a meaningful way. It represents our fire community. It represents US, providing services and early money that can't be provided from other sources.

Donations that come to the Foundation come from us, from our fire family, our interagency wildland firefighting community, from kids that have fought shoulder to shoulder with the fallen and injured, from supervisors and managers who have watched over them at home and on incidents away from home. It comes from fed and state and vollie and contractor and is provided to wildland firefighters, regardless of agency or business affiliation. The Foundation acts on our behalf. It funnels our money through -- to help the families and significant others of the fallen. It picks up all travel expenses. It organizes travel and lodging arrangements when necessary. It does this in a time when there's a lot of confusion and overwhelm for family and other loved ones and they can't see straight to do it for themselves. The government cannot fulfill this function. Firefighters acting alone cannot fulfill this function. All of us acting together as a community can.

OUR Foundation is like the HAT that gets passed in firecamp or at team meeting when crews or teams learn of the need of their crewmates and want to provide immediate support. It's also like the HAT in reserve for the emergency our community faces. But the Wildland Firefighter Foundation goes beyond that... we Abs want to thank those who volunteer and work on the behalf of all of us. We hope it is some small support to the families who are having expenses covered to know that the wildland fire community -- via our Wildland Firefighter Foundation -- embrace and comfort them as best we can in their time of loss and need. They are not alone. Their lost and injured family members were and are loved, appreciated and cherished by us as well.

We have placed a link to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation on our home page for any who want to help with a donation. This organization is the funnel that magnifies individual contributions into community support.

Of course all involved could use your good thoughts and prayers.

The Abs.

4/25 I have some sad news to report.

Midewin hotshot Alan Toepke (age 30 years, home Winona MN) has died and another hotshot Vance Hazelton (age 30 years, home Winona MN) is critically injured following an accident in Arkansas on 4/23. The details of the accident have not been reported in the media yet as the investigation is ongoing. We do know that the rest of the crew were not involved in the accident. They are physically alright, but are in shock and hurting for their crewmates as are family, friends, coworkers and others working on the incident.

The Midewin IHCrew was returning from a fire in Florida to their home base in Wilmington, Illinois.

As regular readers know, normally we wait until information comes out in a news report, but we are starting to get questions and were told by one of the PIOs that it is alright to share this information.

Our prayers are for the families, friends and crew. Ab.

4/25 River,

I’d have to tell him I’m very uncomfortable carrying out his order…especially if it’s illegal!
I’d enjoy working for the agency, but I’m not breaking any laws to do it.

4/25 Ab, our thoughts and prayers are with friends and family of the Midewin hotshot crew.
I don't know if you can post this yet, but everyone involved needs prayers and support.

4/25 Mellie, 180, & Nomad;

Thank you for your responses. Although I plan on continuing to practice using those wild assed
open ended questions, your input has helped tremendously in narrowing down what could be
asked. The guys at work are beginning to wonder why I’m locking myself up in the SCBA room
for hours at a time. I’m beginning to enjoy walking past them on the truck deck or sitting next to
them in the kitchen with a glazed look on my face.

4/25 Ab, et al sad state affairs when seasonal Fed FF jobs in R5 remain "up in the air"
88 degree temps in the valley & high 70s in the foothills mid-northzone - last weeks rain renewed bottom fuels...

to the "kids" who have scheduled interviews on their horizon: ya gotta "sell yourself" yet be honest about your abilities, wildland fire knowledge and desire - of course ask about training opportunities. downplay your concerns until you are sure you've really offered a job. harsh words maybe, but the interviewer(s) is looking for best candidates, not someone to babysit, unless that forest is desperate!

LMH, & CDF hopefuls: mock interviews are best preparation. unless the rules have changed, tis OK to bring a 3x5 card to the interview as your personal reference (unless it's a promotional interview, I'd ask). all CA state interviews are supposed to be taped for later reference.
here's a conundrum: what if the interviewing panel asks you how you would respond/react to a bad or illegal order from your supe?

btw. for anyone whoever worked in any capacity for a fire contractor, state/local government: safeguard any employment history records, especially your W2s or whatever they were/or are called!

4/25 It is time that another group is represented in a more appropriate percentage. This is an extremely
under-represented group. I certainly does not match the general population numbers. Those of you
out there that engage in alternative lifestyles, i.e. sexual orientation, need to sign up for a class action
suit at bigclassaction.com.

4/24 Ab,

These are a few more photos I was able to take around here in North Carolina. Hope you guys enjoy them.


Thanks NCCrew. I put them on Fire 22 and Handcrews 14 photo pages. Thanks to the Ab handling the drop-down menus. :) Ab.
4/24 LMH,

I interviewed for CDF 2x at 2 different locations a few years back. The questions were pretty similar, and no they weren't CDF specific. Questions i remember- your captain gives you an assignment on a fire and leaves. Then a BC comes along and wants you to do something else. What do you do?

Answer (i asked at the end of the interview)- You tell the BC that your capt gave you a different assignment, then do what he says if he still wants you to and make sure he gets word back to your captain.

Q (I'm a little hazy on the specifics)- you have to share living quarters with a female, how do you handle the situation?

Answer- Not sure, but show politically correct sensibilities i assume.

Good luck man, wish i could be of better help. See if you can talk to a current CDFer and get better advice.

4/24 LMH

In a CDF Seasonal firefighter interview, expect questions about following instructions and commands, living with a crew, physical work methods, what the job is like and what you have done to prepare yourself. Don’t expect anything too agency specific but answers that indicate you can deal with conflict and get along with others are preferred. It would help if you know someone who has worked for CDF before so you know what the job is about. They want to see if you have done your homework. Most answers are simply common sense and common courtesy.

4/24 LMH,

When I did the 5 month ROP FF1 class that included 130, 190, first responder, etc, etc, we had mock interviews from CDF. Looked in my notes... The interview included a question that pertained to chain-of-command/following orders; one that pertained to how to handle problems arising from living with people; one that indicated that you knew when to say that the order or the situation was beyond your capabilities or training; and one that let you talk about what you think the job will be like and why you want it or why you're a good fit for it. The folks in our class had an edge from being trained by CDF (yeah, the woman in charge was hard a$$ed, I felt like a convict sometimes) so we knew what the job was like. Everyone in our class got jobs either with the FS or with CDF. Maybe you could go hang out and do an informational interview about the job with CDF before your interview if you've never worked in fire or with CDFers on a fire before.


4/24 We posted the photos of the engines yesterday on the Engines 10 photo page. Thanks to Jeff McD for sending them in. Also Beth sent in a night fire picture of a firefighter with pulaski. Thanks Beth. Posted that on the Fire 22 photo page. Ab.
4/23 25 MPH Santa Ana winds with gusts in some places as high as 40 MPH today in Southern
California. A couple of initial attack fires in the southern counties, and a hot and dry weekend
is forecast..... Can it be that fire season is very far away?

Contract County Guy
4/23 CDF Interview

Howdy…I have an oral with CDF next week and my wife has been holding mock boards
using questions that she’s been asked in her past interviews and questions off of job sites.
But I have a feeling that they’re going to be more fire department specific. Could anybody
give me a clue as to what to expect? I read a message in either March or earlier this month
from a poster who said his interview was over in several minutes (?) Any help would be
appreciated. Well, I’m getting the signal and it’s back to the “interviews”.

4/23 DF,

If the Abz would be so kind as to give you my email address, I will look up what
you want on the CDF intranet Monday when I get to work.

Captain Emmett

I forwarded your message. Ab.
4/23 How does a person go about finding the links to CDF safety investigation
reports (green sheets)?

Did some searches on the CDF home page and State Fire Marshall page as

Looking for Cedar fire and Humboldt Lightning in particular.

Thank, DF.
4/23 Paul R,

There is an S-290 CD-R that can be used. It is set up by management as the
administrator and then employees can go through the course work, take the tests, and
the administrator can access the answers to correct them, as well as the software
correcting the test after you submit it in every unit. Not sure where we got ours but,
if you ask around Im sure others have heard about it.

4/23 OK I give up! When I first got to this website there was a screen that had questions about history of the tools and clothing, etc of wildland firefighting. Now I can't find it. Where do I go to get back to that?

Are you looking for the IMWTK (Inquiring Minds Want to Know) page? You can always find that on our fire links page under miscellaneous.
Here it is www.wildlandfire.com/docs/imwtk.php

You can find info on what handcrew should have in their red bag via our FAQ page.

Info on costs of wildland firefighter gear

There's NOVA's list

There's also a FS version of firegear someplace...

Wildfire Lessons Learned site
search on "gear" for the recent safety alerts, recalls, etc.

All of these links are also available on our Wildfire Education Links page

I know, I know, too much INFORMATION. Ab.

4/23 Yellowjacket:

I had been waiting for someone to say exactly what you did in response to
the Cramer Fire fatalities, so thanks.

4/23 Hi ab

Just a follow-up to my question concerning the hiring of noncitizens. I did a little research on the OPM site and found the following:

Employment of Noncitizens

Several factors determine whether a Federal agency may employ a noncitizen. They are: Executive Order 11935 requiring citizenship in the competitive civil service, whether the position is in the competitive service, the excepted service or Senior Executive Service, the annual appropriations act ban on paying aliens from many countries, and the immigration law ban on employing aliens unless they are lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise authorized to be employed.

Executive Order 11935 on the Competitive Civil Service
Under Executive Order 11935, only United States citizens and nationals (residents of American Samoa and Swains Island) may compete for competitive jobs. Agencies are permitted to hire noncitizens only when there are no qualified citizens available. A noncitizen hired in the absence of qualified citizens may only be given an excepted appointment, and does not acquire competitive civil service status. He or she may not be promoted or reassigned to another position in the competitive service, except in situations where a qualified citizen is not available. The noncitizen may be hired only if permitted by the appropriations act and the immigration law.

I would think with the hiring freeze now in R5 there would be an abundance of qualified citizens willing and able to take on most of the fire positions. I "cut & paste" this directly from the OPM site, so I would not mess-up any of the wording, though I did underline the sentence so it would not be missed.

My job with the Forest Service is not directly affected by this hiring freeze, though I have talked to people who have been. I am not an angry or mad employee I love what I do for the Forest Service. I am not against diversity in the workplace, I think all qualified people should be given equal opportunity. My main concern is SAFETY. In nor cal the grass has started to cure (fine flashy fuels, the main carrier of fire), and due to winter snow there is heavy dead and down. In so cal we have forest full of bug kill trees that surround mountain communities (urban-interface). Will the resources (engines, crews) be staffed, and trained when they are needed? With a large percentage of the experienced temp. workforce gone, will we be ready? What about the SAFETY of these "new" employees, will they be ready? The Forest Service motto is: Caring for the land and serving people, will this hiring policy allow us to do that to the best of our ability?


4/23 Have you heard of any web site that offers S-290 as an on line class?
Would appreciate any help.

Paul R
4/22 Ab Note: Good try on sharing information JHMoose. We cannot reprint entire newspaper articles on theysaid without violating copyright laws. You can do a 20-30 word quote from it. Next time, please send the link to the online article you want to talk about. Here's as close as I could come to the text that you sent in. Ab.

Forest Service Seeks Firefighter Diversity

Urban job fairs for firefighters are set

Also for Fishguy- www.fs.fed.us/r5/hispanic-agreement/settlement.phpl

Don't just complain... Stay Calm, Act decisively, Remain Politically astute and get your APPLICATION in by APRIL 30, 2004. LCES is in Place and leadership will do the right thing. Experience Does Count. APPLY.


4/22 Ab would you please post this press release from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Many of our smaller wildland communities may not have seen it. It pertains to national security.


Contact: IAFC Communications Department

IAFC Recommends No Response to National Fire Station Database Survey
Questions Raised About Operational Security

Fairfax, Va., April 21, 2004…There is a company currently attempting to gather information from United States fire departments. Many of you have received letters from the company "Explore Information Services." They want very significant information about each fire department, each fire station, water supply, etc. to develop a "National Fire Station Database" for the benefit of state and federal agencies and the insurance industry.

Upon becoming aware of this letter and survey for operational information, the IAFC contacted the Department of Homeland Security to verify the relationship with Explore Information Services.

The IAFC is exploring safeguards to protect this information from sources that would seek to sabotage the U.S. infrastructure. Until we receive specific verification of the operational security of this information, we recommend not completing the survey.

The IAFC will keep you informed of any developments regarding this matter.

4/22 Hey Gang,

Not to take any wind out of anyone's sail, but has there been some sort of aviation incident recently? With all the talk about the IHOG and insufficient crash/rescue equipment at helibases, I was just wondering whether something happened or has it come to a point that someone out there has finally realized that, even though the whole helibase operation is a "high risk/low frequency" occurrence, that there needs to be a standard on helibase protection.

I think that it's great that we have a couple of private companies out there that specialize in the crash/rescue arena, but all in all, I think the folks who know from the "insides out" there (OAS, FAA, etc.) really need to step up to the plate and come up with some standards for temporary helibases. I totally agree with the fact that a 30 lb dry chem and a "crash kit" are not the answers. Hell, I wouldn't even put that cr*p in my pov for the occasional accident that I come across on the interstate from time to time.

Now, to take this whole thing a step further, has anyone out there even considered crash/rescue for the temp SEAT tanker bases? We will all agree that most SEAT bases are located at a general aviation airport with some sort of crash equipment operated by either the local fire department or FBO {fixed based operator for you non pilot types ;o) } but how many time have you seen or heard of a temporary tanker base going in on a country dirt road or at an uncontrolled airport. Lets face it, if the helo pilots and their investment can justify a crash rig and some crash/rescue folks, why not a tanker pilot with his AT 802 or Thrush?!?!? Just something to think about.

Although I work for a state fire agency (with a VERY large aviation program) and am a pilot myself, with many of the same concerns that pilots have, I would love to explore the thought of starting a steering committee in developing some national standards and required training programs for those who want to provide aviation crash/rescue services on wildland fires. Please keep in mind though, I want to see standards for both rotor and fixed wing.

Ab, if you would, send my name to the ARFF Chief, master aircraft firefighter, and that FBIs guy. Thanks!

Also, for those of you who are interested, the CSFA (California State Firefighter's Association) along with the San Marcos Pass Volunteer Fire Department is holding a one day multi agency HELICOPTER OPERATIONS exercise at the Santa Ynez Airport (off HWY 246) from 0800-1700 on May 22 2004.

I hear that this is a great training program with all types of rotor craft. The program will be of aircraft familiarization, loading and unloading procedures, water loading ops with drill on live aircraft, bucket ops, fueling ops, you know, everything that you ever wanted to do but fly the thing kinda class. Although, no certifications will come out of the training, it will be a great time for all to have. I think a bar b q lunch will also be provided. Hope to see everyone there!
For more info, you can contact Mike Williams at the San Marcoss FD @ 805-969-9829 or mswssi@earthlink.net
or Ed Foster at efoster@csfa.net

AZ Trailblazer
4/22 Does anyone know where to find the language on this hispanic consent decree?
A little history behind it?


4/22 Dear Ab,

I am wondering before I even type this if you will ever post something I send your way. Either I am not eloquent enough to compete with your regular posters or you do not like what I have to say.

In regards to your response to "anonymous" on 4/20, "sleeping on the fireline" is not a violation of a Fire Order, it is merely a watch-out.

And "Anonymous," if you are reading this, I think it is impossible for someone removed from the Cramer fatalities and the inter workings of previous(/current?) management on the Forest to understand just how much room there is for blaming.

4/22 Ab,

To answer the question about citizenship and applying for the
Apprenticeship Program, the Recruitment Bulletin states that "If you are
not a citizen, you may participate in this program if you are legally
admitted to the United States as a permanent resident, and are able to meet
citizenship requirements prior to completion of the program."

I hope that everyone who is interested puts in an application. For those
who can't make the job fairs the application and instructions are included
in the recruitment bulletin.

4/22 We all know this hiring freeze in R-5 is wrong. Many local Fire Depts. have been under the Federal hiring rules for minoritys and females for a long time. It's time we hire the best there is and do the best we can with the ratios. I guess all we can do is hope for the best and train the newbes to be the best there is to be.

As for crash rescue, on the Piru incident last October, there was a crash truck from the Naval Air Station Point Mugu at the helibase each day for crash rescue. Luckily they were not needed. It's getting drier in Socal. It could be an interesting summer. Stay safe, be careful, and watch out for your buddies.

VNC Dozer 3
4/22 Is it even worth showing up at a job fair if you know you're white as far back as anyone can
remember? I can't think of anything else I can do to be more qualified for a position unless I
can get in there and take some on the job classes and training.

The Squirrel

This Ab would show up anyway if it is not too much hardship to get there. Maybe they won't have enough hispanic applicants. Quin sabe?
4/22 Ab

I, like many, have concerns with what the effect on safety will be with all the "green" folks being hired here in R5 due to the Hispanic settlement agreement. My question concerns some of the wording from the USDA Forest Service Pacific South Region page, news releases "JOB FAIRS OFFER FOREST SERVICE FIREFIGHTER CAREERS". In this advertisement the following is stated. "Applicants must be 18 or older and United States citizens, or be able to obtain citizenship by the end of the training program." Does this mean that non-citizens can be hired as long as they obtain citizenship by the end of the apprenticeship program, approximately 2 years? I don't know much about the hiring, and the work rights of non-citizens, but this sounds a little odd to me, especially for a federal agency. I'm sure someone out there could fill me in.

Just a side note, I have been long time reader of "they said", though this is my first time posting anything. I think this is a great site for info. for us in the wildland fire community.


Welcome to posting. Good question. Ab.
4/22 Ab,

I just love your site!! I have been a FFT1 for 3 years now, and have worked for both state and federal. (they both have issues as far as I am concerned.) I have so many friends that do this for a living in the summer, and boy, do I worry, seems fires are getting more and more dangerous, incident and politics... ( I have turned forester, doing fire as needed) Anyways, I always tell all these FF friends of mine to check out this site for the truth of the matter, good info, and diverse opinions, great pictures ( I know a 4 year old that LOVES to look at the engines, incessantly).


I sure hope that this summer is nothing like last summer, but we've already had fires up here in NW washington, so, I am sure it will be screamin'....

Stay safe, keep up the good work, thanks for all the effort!!!
LCES< LCES> LCES>LCES< lets take care of one another!

Just another chick on the line.

Thanks chick. Someone just sent in some new engine photos for all of us 4-year-olds out there. Someone else sent in a nice night fire photo. I will try to get them up today. Ab.
4/22 Ab,

I am an AAAE Master Aircraft Firefighter and I would like the email address of FBIs to get with him on the ARFF standardizations with in the U.S., and also note I have been reading the board and yes the IHOG does not state that crash rescue is required, but it was recommended only after weighing out the risk factors,. It also states that one abc fire extinguisher and one crash kit are required per every five air ships. This is a great way to look at it, Have the authors of the IHOG ever attempted to extinguish an avgas fire with one extinguisher? I highly doubt it. Also the forest service crash kit could not open a can of soup. I have demonstrated it cannot be done with 50gals of avgas and three 30lb bc dry chem. It took one burst of purple K out of our crash unit and I have the newspaper article that documented that. With over 15 years as an aircraft firefighting experience, I would say that is like putting a band aid on a major artery bleed. I was informed that the IHOG was currently being reviewed for re-write. Did any one else hear that? Please get back to me with the email addresses of the ARFF Chief and FBIs.


Aircraft Master Firefighter

I sent you the email of the one who asked me to and forwarded your email to the other. We don't give out people's email addys unless they request it. Ab.
4/21 Do you have any suggestions concerning how I might obtain a contract (through Boise?) to work
as MEDL single resource? Have red card, will travel.

4/21 New Unit Identifiers page: www.nifc.blm.gov/nsdu/unit_id/Publish.phpl

The NIFC site should fix the link on its search utility.


Thanks. Nice format. Ab.

4/21 Ab,

On the links page your link to the NIFC unit identifiers is broken. when I go to the NIFC site
and search on "unit identifier" that search item comes up with the same broken link. Anybody
got any ideas where to find the unit identifiers? Is the site down or just moved?


I see what you mean. I don't know. Anyone got an updated location? Ab.

4/21 Hi Ab-

I noticed on your web page www.wildlandfire.com/docs/awards.php you have one of the International Association of Wildland Fire safety award recipients listed (for 2003), and you're requesting more information about the award. We have presented these awards since 1997, almost every year. Attached is a document that gives some general information about the award and also the individual recipients. If you would like to update your web page, that would be great.

If you have any questions. let me know.
Bill Gabbert, IAWF

I did update the info on that page. Thanks Bill. Ab.

4/21 Ab,

Just wanted to let everyone know that the R5 Apprentice Recruitment
bulletin is now posted on the WFAP website on the recruitment page.

4/21 Just got back from the Washington State Incident Management Team meeting and the Air-Ops. guy stated
that USFS does not require Crash/Rescue and that the IHOG only suggest It.

There are a few Crash/rescue companies out there. I for one do not have a web site at the moment. if the CFR
companies out there would like to band together on standards and Equipment types, maybe we can work with
the Feds on this. AB can give you my e-mail address.

4/21 Dear Ab:

Don't know if you want to post this on "They Said" or not, but I was curious if you were aware of the dynamics of the "job fair" you are mentioning.

Hiring Authority for our regular recruitment process was withdrawn by the Regional Forester for Region 5 Jack Blackwell recently to comply with a consent decree in that legal action was filed claiming the wildland firefighters were not "diverse" enough and not doing enough to recruit and hire hispanics.

Obviously this "News release" by the Forest Service would not have the "balls" to say as much in their notice.

It is an injustice to hire anyone into this business as a GS-2 and we have fought too long for this kind of crap to occur in the 21st century. The job has become complex, the tasks increasingly diverse which means the best candidate must get the job and those that do the hiring MUST have the ability to hire the best suited for the job, regardless of gender or race.

One of the troubling dynamics we are obviously looking at is that FFs with 6-8 seasons of experience will not be hired so that the Forest Service can hire GS-2 hispanics. OSHA has already indicated that the language issues could result in serious consequences this season.

What happens if others go to the job fair and sign up? They likely will not be hired. I am getting additional documentation to support our concerns and to unveil the Forest Service's true intent behind this "job Fair."

I'm sure we're all supportive of diversity. But to hide the truth and facts from those that continue to serve this country as federal wildland firefighters is a disgrace and injustice.


Thanks Casey, anyone reading here knows the danger in the hurried and forced hiring process via R5's 3 job fairs. All I can say is those in charge at the highest levels will be held accountable if/when bad things happen. Remember the SWISS CHEESE MODEL of Accident Causation.

When I posted the job announcement below, I also hoped that qualified and experienced people who want the firefighting job would heed the past theysaid posts and talk with parents, grandparents other family members to find and document as best they can the Spanish, Mexican, Guatemalan, or etc-tan blood that flows through their veins. It turns out that even I have one relative back some generations who was from Spain and married into the German side of my family. I have tan blood! I think that allows me to check the Hispanic box if I so choose. Applicants, DO NOT LIE, but find that link if you want a firefighting job with the Forest Service and check the box. If you are qualified but denied a job because you are not deemed Hispanic, I think there could be a law suit in that. If you can find that tan blood, Get yer'selves to the Job Fair locations and SIGN UP!

Little Aside: Always wondered why I enjoy hispanic food so much. When Original Ab's and my family get together, we always cook Mexican (and smack the current construction project, the piata and each other a little, too). Ab.

4/20 The Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated.

Check out our new sponsor on the Wallpaper page. Nice banner for the Colorado Firecamp, NWCG Courses. Thanks for your contributions to our theysaid discussions, too.


4/20 ERI Scholarship Fund started for Kirk Smith

I miss him. Thought others might want to participate.

Rose Davis

Good guy, we're sorry he's gone. Folks, contributing is one way to honor Kirk. Ab.

4/20 Jackson

Believe it or not, I was on the Four Peaks Fire on the Tonto Nat Forest back in 1995 and several helos were dipping out of a couple of local lakes (Apache and Roosevelt). Maricopa County Sheriff's Office had one of their lake patrol boats on stand by at the Apache Lake dipping "area". So, yup, I have seen it before. Now, I fight fire all over the West just like most everyone else here, but that was the one and only time I have ever seen that sort of ops.

ARRF chief,

I have worked with the AZ Fire Suppression folks quite a few times last summer. What a great bunch of guys and gals. Extremely professional and very well equipped and trained. When they showed up at our helibase, I actually thought that the US Air Force had showed up on this fire. They followed the crash rescue portion of the IHOG to the letter, developed the crash rescue plan for our helibase manager, provided some fire extinguisher training for the helitack folks, and even provided a little EMS at the base. These guys even did a mocked up rescue drill one day. Totally impressive.

Clearly noted, these folks did their homework and did ALOT of pre-season training. For being a private contractor, they looked more like the military or a municipal fire department (no disrespect to the privates out there at all!) I have been on several helibase assignments over the years and by far, no one out there (with the exception of the military) even comes close to the services that AZ Fire provides on helibases. I hope to work with these guys again this summer!

Does anyone out there know who they are contracted through or what part of Arizona they're from?? I heard that they were name requested through ROSS last season several times.

Well, I'll be in Ione CA for the next few weeks in training. Hope everyone is up and ready. SOCAL's predicted fire season has been in the local news for a few days and I've heard some 50+ acre fires are popping up in the central CA.

AZ Trailblazer
4/20 I must rephrase my concern. I searched the Internet and did find two listed private companies, one azfs.net, and alertone.net. They expressed that they follow FAA part 139 guide lines and the equipment listed in the sites meet the requirements, I guess that the other companies do not have a web site, I loved the equipment in azfs.net they have pic's. It is similar to the units used in the military, Love the effort and Details of there business and maybe you could contact them to help with the FAA Contact, numbers are listed in the web pages....

The ARFF Chief
4/20 In response to the new R5 job announcement, R5 has created a new motto:

"Quanity not Quality"

An R5 DirtMiner
4/20 Hi Ab,

Just wondering if you could make some mention of this site on theysaid?

See notice on special issues of Fire Management Today.

Marty Alexander

Thanks for sending in the link, Marty. Ab.

4/20 All of you who want jobs best hightail it to Sacramento, Fresno or Arcadia for the job fairs this Saturday. See Below for details. Ab.

News Release
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Region
1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592

Contact: Matt Mathes 707-562-9004

VALLEJO, Calif. April 19, 2004 —Do you want to help the environment while protecting people from fires? Are you interested in a job that is exciting, challenging, and rewarding? Consider applying for one of 500 apprenticeship firefighter jobs now available through the U.S. Forest Service.

The Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Office announced today that Job Fairs will be held in Sacramento, Fresno and Arcadia on Saturday April 24.

These jobs are permanent positions, with pay ranging from $8.42 – $10.31 per hour (GS-2 thru GS-4 Forestry Aid) and include benefits. All positions have promotion potential to the GS-462-5 level (Forestry Technician) after satisfying all apprenticeship training requirements and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) qualification requirements. In addition, because firefighters can work extended hours when fighting wildfire, they may earn substantially more during fire season.

"Wildland firefighters are the mainstay of our defense against wildfire, they are the people who get the job done on the ground," said Jack Blackwell, Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service, "I’d like to extend a personal invitation for those interested to apply. It’s a great job."

Wildland firefighters may be members of fire engine crews, hotshot crews, smokejumper crews, helicopter-based hand crews, or regular hand crews. During fire season, these crews often travel throughout California and other regions of the country to help fight wildfires, and occasionally provide assistance to other countries.

Those hired will receive specialized firefighting training through the Wildland Firefighting Apprenticeship program. This program includes classroom training at the apprenticeship academy in Sacramento and 4,000 hours of work experience at a variety of locations on National Forests in California.

  • The Sacramento Job Fair will be held at Florin Mall, 6117 Florin Road from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • In Fresno, the Job Fair will be at the Manchester Shopping Center, 1901 E. Shields Avenue from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • In Arcadia, the Job Fair will be at the Angeles National Forest warehouse, 701 North Santa Anita Avenue from 10 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Employment and fire experts will be on hand at all three sites to answer questions and to assist applicants in completing their applications. Applicants must be 18 or older and United States citizens, or able to obtain citizenship by the end of the training program. Applicants who accept job offers will also have to pass a physical fitness and drug test.

To request an application package or additional information, please call 1-877-263-0759 or contact your local National Forest office. All applications must be postmarked by April 30, 2004. Offers will be made by mid-May.

4/20 Abs

Don't know if you want to post this or not but it sure would not be the
first time I have seen summer fire quarters overrun with mice. Just one
more "think" for a heads up.


While the following is written for the NPS everyone that gets involved in
opening buildings up after a long winter when the mice have taken over need
to be aware of this and act accordingly

On March 30th, Jerry O’Neal, a longtime NPS employee at Glacier National
Park, passed away from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).

HPS was first recognized in the United States in 1993 and has since been
identified throughout the country. All Hantaviruses that are known to cause
HPS in the Western Hemisphere are carried by the New World rodents of the
subfamily “Sigmodontidae”. Two Sigmodontine peridomestic rodents known to
carry Hantavirus that are found in close proximity to human dwellings are
the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus ) and the house mouse (Mus musculus).
Recent scientific studies from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirm
that infected deer mice are present in every habitat type from desert to
alpine tundra.

Although the chance of contracting HPS is very low, all NPS employees
should be aware of this health issue. Each year, employees in many
National Parks get ready for summer operations by opening and cleaning many
cabins, buildings and backcountry facilities that have been closed for the
winter. Employees who are involved in these opening activities may be at
higher risk of Hantavirus exposure.

The Hantavirus can be spread to humans through the inhalation of
infectious, aerosolized saliva, urine or excreta, or dust contaminated by
these materials. Hantavirus can only survive outside the body of the
rodent host for a few days, but unless the age of rodent droppings, nests,
or dead animals is known with certainty, all rodent material should be
considered to be potentially infectious. Preventing rodent infestation in
and around the home or worksite remains the primary strategy for preventing
Hantavirus exposure.

For additional information on Hantavirus, the potential risks of exposure
and what specific work procedures and precautions NPS employees can take at
home or work to prevent exposure, click one of the following websites:

For additional information on rodents that carry hantavirus visit:

Been there

Hantavirus is not localized to areas around structures nor limited to the West. One article on the rodents of Missouri and adjoining states said 10% of the white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) that live in oak-hickory leaf litter were positive for the virus. Keep heads up when you come across any rodent nests. HVT has a 38% human mortality rate. Ab.

4/20 Well, I hate to bring up any hard feelings, but I am doing our fire refresher tomorrow.

I have decided to comment on the Cramer fire. I have also read a few of the postings written by the families of the deceased. Please understand that my condolences go out to them. However, I have just spent quite a bit of time going over the Factual Report and unfortunately, I disagree with a lot of the "blaming." I believe that it is just as much responsibility to each fire fighter as it is to the IC to make appropriate safety decisions. I think that blaming the IC is one thing, pursuing a lawsuit is ridiculous. I have heard rumors that some of the families have actually thought about this.

We as firefighters know the risk of the job. We also know it is our responsibility to ensure our own safety. I think most of us know too, that to fight a fire aggressively some of the 10 and 18 will be violated. The investigation crews just don't seem to get that. I looked at the positions of some of the investigating crews and I find it hard to believe that many of them understand the fire world.

I can almost guarantee that the IC of the Cramer fire is not feeling very good right now, nor will he/she feel less guilty anytime soon. Basically I am saying that the events that took place on the Cramer fire are very tragic and sad. But I do not believe that blame is the answer to this. There is also some information going around the agencies regarding insurance. It is similar to the insurance that Doctors get for malpractice. Would you go to a dr. if you knew he had malpractice insurance? Well if not, you won't be seeing a doctor anytime soon. Would you fight fire under an IC with "malpractice" insurance? I hope that it never comes to that.


Which of the 10 standards do you feel free to violate when you decide to be "aggressive"? Without looking at the orders/wo, I can think of only one that I frequently broke, "sleeping on the fireline", but then again, I wasn't being very aggressive at that time. More importantly, neither was the fire.

As for "would I fight fire under an IC with malpractice insurance", I have many times. Most ICs in the most active fire regions (excluding some FUM ICs) have it. Ab.

4/20 fire fighting job/trail maintenance/lookout...ect.:


My name is Tammy W. and I love to fight fire. I have 11 seasons of experience with CDF. I'm finding it hard to make the transfer over to the Forest Service. I've put my application in 3 years in a row, had a few responses last year, but as luck would have it, my contact was gone on fires for about a month and a half which basically put me at the tail end of fire season (which by the way was probably the most eventfull I've seen in a long time). In short, I have experience, I'm in shape, and all I need is a hand up, THANK YOU


Tammy, if you've been following the discussion on theysaid, R5 has a hiring freeze and you'll be unlikely to get a job in CA unless you're hispanic. I hate to say it, but your best bet might be to try another region. If you are hispanic or live in the hispanic culture or if your name is Americanized, you might consider checking the hispanic box on the app or using the Spanish version of your name instead of the American one. Experience has nothing to do with it. Ab.

4/19 Jackson,

You asked:

"Has anyone else heard of water rescue services being
provided or required for helicopter dipping
operations? Is this a new requirement?????? Or, did
this guy just have a really sweet deal going? "

I have not seen this (use of a boat/diver) before in many years of doing helitack and air attack supervision. It is not a requirement anywhere that I am aware of but many (most?) regions are requiring dipsite monitors at dipsites that are used on a "regular basis". As we all know, the full power hover-and-lift environment of the helo on the dip is a critical period where safety margins are greatly reduced.

The pilots had the sweet deal going! I have often wondered what good it really is to post helitack folks at a dip site if there is a problem ending up with a helo in the water and no way to very quickly get to the downed aircraft. Bravo to both the air ops folks who arranged this and to the AD/contractor folks who will do this type of work!

It will take only one successful rescue to prove and pay off this whole idea. This is an example of some out-of-the-box and reasonably inexpensive SAFETY FIRST thinking on the part of those who thought to create this service.


4/19 ARFF Boss, we share your same concerns with under protected
airbases. You are mistaken in the fact that there arent any other
companies out there, though. There are a lot of companies that
provide contract ARFF coverage. Problem is there isnt enough to go
around. I can think of at least 25 units available in R5North, R4
and R6. They all have the required gear to meet FAA requirements,
and extrication gear to cut up a down ship.

We have been working with an FAA contact to put together a spec for
intermittent, and temporary coverage for helibases, and airbases. Ill
keep Ab posted as to our progress.

eric PW
4/19 Hey my name is Tyler Chapman and I am interested in fighting forest fires.. I am willing to
relocate and go through all the proper training. I am almost 19 and live in Ottawa, Ontario.
If you could please point me in the right direction of someone who can help me out, that
would be great.


Any Canadians reading who can give this young man some pointers? Ab.
4/19 I recently met a guy who told me that last summer he
worked as an AD on a fire in Montana. He also signed
up his BOAT on an Emergency Equipment Rental Agreement
(EERA) ..... and get this, he said his job was to
provide pilot rescue services on a lake while
helicopters were dipping out of it.

I have been around many, many helicopter dipping
operations and have never seen water-borne rescue
services provided. The guy told me that he used to be
a SEAL in the Navy, so I assume he might have been
qualified for that job.

Has anyone else heard of water rescue services being
provided or required for helicopter dipping
operations? Is this a new requirement?????? Or, did
this guy just have a really sweet deal going?

If you think about it though, if a helicopter looses
power while it's dipping a long distance from shore,
your average pilot might have a very difficult time
getting out of the ship and swimming to shore.

4/19 Here's an airtanker photo for you. This was taken in April or May 2002.
Tandem CL 215s operation dipping into Pike Bay near Cass Lake MN.
The photo was taken by Monte Draper of the Bemidji Pioneer.


Nice photo, Keven. I put it on AirTankers 10 photo page. Please tell Monte it's up and thank him for giving us permission to post it. Ab.

4/19 sm,

The link that best illustrates Rogue River's post:


Search on "Forest Service". It's second from the bottom of the list.
When such a list exists is it any wonder that FS people angry for any reason go there and sign up???

INSANITY, and the days march on. People should be getting hired, having their 30 days for pack test
readiness, etc. We will not have the troops come the fire wars of summer. Yactac, Firenwater, I'm with
you. We need a separate fire service. Let's get together and send some letters to congressionals.

Tahoe Terrie

4/19 A best buddy of mine died in a motorcycle accident a few months ago. He was a helicopter pilot for a bunch
of fire crews in the west. I was hoping you might have heard of him and have a photo in your archives someplace
that I can't find. His name was Bob McKeagan, Robert McKeagan on his pilot license. If you have a photo
could you let me know where to find it. thanks
Thanks for your time.

--- Grant Armendariz
--- grantmendez@earthlink.net

Grant, we don't have a photo of your friend Bob (that I know of). But perhaps someone reading here knew him and will know where you might get one. Sorry for your loss. Ab.

4/19 Ab,

Did a quick search and found this New Zealand Site.

The chopper in my picture is actually from New Zealand and has a contract in Australia at the moment.
Probably some more great aircraft info on the page as well.


4/18 Chat anyone at 2000 Pacific Time? Like in 25 minutes? Be there or be square.


4/18 Re: Rogue Rivers saying, "the Hispanic Settlement Agreement is being advertised on the following page. www.bigclassaction.com "

I followed the link to the page and looked, I even did a followup page search and couldn't find the word
hispanic or even Mexican on the page! If you mean it can be found somewhere on the same website, you
need to be more explicit. If the page has altered since you posted your message, that is a common

4/18 From Australia:

Just a few pics that I thought might be of interest. All were taken by me so there are no problems with permission for display on your site. Two are of rappel crew training in North East Victoria, Australia. A Russian Mil 8 setting up the bambi bucket for water drops on two lightning started fires in NE Victoria. The last pic is a dodgy looking tree being fallen on the fire line. Thanks for the great site and keep up the good work.

Maybe see you in the smoke one day.


Alpine, thanks for the contributions and for your persistence. I put the photos on Heli 14 and Handcrew 14 photo pages.

Do you know what's the payload of the Mil-8 compared to a Bell 212? I'll bet that thing could pick up about 4 Bells in midflight! Pretty darn impressive. Ab.

4/18 Ab,

Here's a picture from the March 29, 2004 of the fire at the Big Bear ski area in California.
I'm guessing this was taken after the fire had escaped the prescription.

A friend forwarded it to me with the heading: Winter "Wildland" Wonderland. This will work
great for public education about the year 'round fire season.

vfd cap'n

Snow and fire. I put the thumbnail on the Fire 22 photo page. I took down the slightly larger version until I check with the photographer to see if it's OK to post it. Ab.
4/18 Everyone,

if you think things are bad now with the HSA... just wait until we have four Consent Decrees going. Very damning
information below........ Please read the entire post....

Womens Settlement Agreement (Ongoing) (Illegal under current terms)
Hispanic Settlement Agreement (Ongoing) (Illegal under current terms)
African American Class Complaint www.mlode.com/~aspencer/
and the Asian Class Complaint.... still searching for the details....

Of an interesting note.... the Hispanic Settlement Agreement is being advertised on the following page. www.bigclassaction.com
It is a FOR-PROFIT source. That's probably also in violation of Federal Law.
It is also soliciting new "class action" complaint lawsuits from anyone looking for a quick buck.
www.bigclassaction.com/employment_labor.phpl (See bottom of the page)
I've attached it below for view only....

Notify me of new Class Actions
If you would like to receive notification of new class actions and class action settlements and verdicts, enter your
email address below and press Submit. (Ab Note: hitting "submit" will reveal a broken link on purpose.)

Email Address:        

Here's the specific link.... www.bigclassaction.com/class_action/complaint_form_hispanic.phpl

Any complaints on the violation of Federal Law can be addressed at:
United States Office of Special Counsel
online complaint / whistleblower form: https://www.osc.gov/forms.php#index

Rogue Rivers

4/18 crash rescue on helibase and tanker bases:

Dear, AB

There is a concern with the industry, how can interagency fire dispatchers can hire a water tender or type 3 engine for crash rescue service just because they are AFFF foam equipped. The navel research labs performed tests in conjunction with the NFPA that the only approved aircraft firefighting agent is purple k. not one (that i know of) forest engine or contract engine has this on their unit and they don't even have the proper tools or equipment to perform the job, also lets go into the training, I have not seen a red card position for ARFF yet, I often wonder why is the interagency does not conform to the FAA part 139 guide lines for equipment and training requirements, How is that possible the FAA and NTSB come in for an investigation of an incident with aircraft, I was told that the interagency uses the motto "High risk low frequency" what a way to look at it. We in the ARFF field would like to help the victims of an incident not add to the victim count guess that is food for thought. doing a search I have found one private contract company that has the training and equipment in region three, check them out WWW.AZFS.NET They are not listed in your links page, why not?

The ARFF Chief

The links page is a working groundpounder page. We have lots of requests for commercial links: thus we developed the classifieds page for commercial entities. Get the azfs folks to contact the advertising director (contact info on the classifieds page) and I'm sure they, too, can have a link. Ab.

4/18 dsteid: Years ago, my Shot said, "I don't want to be the weakest link in the CHAIN". Good advice...

Northzone CA Weather: 4/17 light spotty rain & snow in R5 - in northzone Sac valley this is only enuff to settle the dust;
some good short downpours in foothills as the rain cells moved east; at least 2" snow in the Donner Pass area.

Southzone CA had at least 1/4" precip in Riverside county.

This kind of precip is fine for feeding grasslands & bottom fuels throughout R5.
Surely the R5 bosses have alerted the decision makers in DC.
It's gonna be an interesting fire season everywhere.

be safe
Northzone 5

4/17 Just saw the 1975 Laguna Hot Shot picture. Whoever that came from had to
be some sort of genuine dinosaur. That's me second from the left in my
Padre hat. Seems like Scotty ought to be in this picture. AB, who ever
sent that picture could you give them my email address. Isn't history


No hat second from the left. Do you mean the right? The cocky one? (Handcrews 8) Ab.
4/17 Just something else to think about when considering the fact that the HSA is being monitored on the merits of the census bureau data. Even if we wanted to hire every hispanic the census bureau counted, we couldn't -- due to the fact that a good percentage are not US Citizens and, even if they were, we would only be successful at recruiting a much smaller percentage than what the HSA is striving to achieve.

I am a white male married to a hispanic female (non-citizen as yet). I don't know a female that she knows or is related to who would do this temporary firefighting job. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any hispanic female in my community who works period -- by work I mean at a paying job with an employer-- they do work harder than anyone I know at maintaining the household. And by "they", I am not generalizing, just making a point, but that's the culture, hispanic females work at home. I'm not being racist or sexist or expressing my opinion, my wife works very successfully and is employed outside the home, but many hispanic females will not. So that reduces your recruiting pool by almost half, couple that with the fact that the census data is established as being flawed due to non-citizens and we are chasing non-existent wild geese. Even if quotas were legal we'd never meet this one.

I hope homeowners know the right people to blame this summer if communities burn and the firefighting force is not ready. They can blame the hispanic settlement people and the FS lawyers who let this come to pass. Some more food for thought- since I'm married to a hispanic and have two hispanic children, therefore am supporting a majority hispanic household, could I claim "hispanic" on my application? I know that sounds tongue in cheek but I'd like some feed back on that one.

On another note:
Here is a little something I wrote for everyone to remember this fire season, feel free to spread it around. The original concept is not mine so I won't take credit as all I did was tailor it for firefighting.


Every year fire crews all over the nation successfully fight fire and return home safely. Unfortunately, every year, fire crews lose a brother or sister. The crews that survive have one thing in common. Contrary to popular belief, the crews that survive don't do so with the most talented, strongest, most athletic or even with the most experienced firefighters. The one thing they have in common is they hold the rope.

What is "holding the rope"? Imagine you are hanging over a cliff hanging on to a rope. Now look around at your crew. Who would you like on the other end of that rope? If you can only name 2-3 people, that's not good enough. They may not be around when you need them. When all 20 people can hold your rope and you have proven to all 20 of them that you can hold theirs, then you have the makings of a successful crew.

Now take a good look at yourself. Are you doing everything to insure your crew members that you will hold the rope for each of them?

How can you "hold the rope"?

  • Be Physically fit and mentally tough. When you have a slow and boring shift push yourself a little harder. This provides additional exercise and more importantly, it builds mental toughness.
  • Be professional: the most important rope you'll ever have to hold is the public's. How can they depend on you to hold their rope when all they can see is the firefighter who drinks, uses profanity, or even appears lazy, resting on the road side? Let the public see what you do best.
  • Be fit for duty. When you have time to: eat right; sleep right, and rehab. Do it so you can be there to hold the rope.
  • Get the job done. Every incident has a list of missions. We are all brothers and sisters in firefighting. Friendly competition is fun, but nobody should be here with the intention of "showing up" another crew. Instead, work together, motivate and encourage each other, don't complain, just get the job done.
  • Go home safely. Maintain your situational awareness, no matter what level, you ask questions when appropriate. If everyone holds the rope for each other, you can go home and hold the rope for our families. That's why we do this job, right?


4/17 Swampthang,

There are many a rappel program out there. R-5 has tons of helitack modules & a fair amt of them do rappel- whether they get to rappel into fires is another thing. I know the AG Flight Crew has a fairly exceptional setup with nearly 30 people running a type 1 handcrew and rappelling out of a big ol' Sikorsky. They're on the Los Padres NF, something like an hour north of Santa Barabara.

R-6 has an excellent rappel program that runs a lot like a mini version of the jumpers, complete with standardized training & equipment and "boosting" to backfill busy areas. You can check them out at
www.fs.fed.us/r6/fire/aviation/rappel/outreach01.pdf (pdf file)

In Region 1, i know the Flathead and the Gallatin NF have rappellers. Also I think the Boise NF does as well. The southwest? All i know is the Tonto NF rappellers, but there's more I'm sure.

Good luck.
4/17 Dear Ab,
We had our first moving fire the other day. It was just over 5 acres at about 6000' elevation. The fire behavior was "out of the box" for this time of year and elevation. All in California please take notice, fuels are already dry with no significant rain in the future.

My question is, after the initial attack and taking on a lot of smoke (mostly sage brush) I noticed a slight change in my decision making and people skills. Nothing drastic but noticeable to me especially after my head had claered and I reviewed some of my interactions. Are there any studies available to see what actually is generated by burning brush (sage or other fuels) upon combustion and how it effects our bodies?


Carbon monoxide. There were some links posted last season I think. Maybe someone has them in their favorites list. Ab.
4/17 Thanks R6FF for the FAM Ops Plan, it's interesting reading.

Some Helitack website links, one with a 404 message, some of the others are slow, but informative:

Tahoe Terrie

4/17 Ab, this came in from Laurie Perrett and should be of interest to many. R6 FF
Here's what she said:

Below is a copy of the interagency federal 2004 Fire and Aviation
Operations Plan
. I understand that a letter is currently being written in
the Forest Service WO to send to field units making it direction. Until
then - it may be useful to line and staff as we begin to have preparedness
meetings internally and externally.

It is significant that the 2004 Ops plan covers all federal agencies this
year. Fire leaders in Boise worked hard to craft the document. The "fire
policy" section is a strong one that clearly articulates our federal
guidelines for all agencies.

When Line Officers ask me for suggestions of things to cover when they
outline their expectations of fire organizations - I point them to this

For FS and BLM folks - this will be included in the Preparedness document
that Jim Furlong is compiling. Thanks - Laurie

Laurie Perrett
Director, Fire and Aviation Mgmt.

4/17 An old squad boss with bad knees:
Although I haven't physically visited the Storm King memorial, my exFF did recently - very emotional.
even if you don't have knees or time to hike far. please go as my proxy. don't forget to go to the WFF
memorial in Boise if possible. Wildland Firefighter Foundation

No one has commented about the CA Blue Ribbons Committee's after action report? On the page it
says Welcome to California .... <"Welcome to California"? <<isn't that a hoot? (when I linked it here
it shows as Welcome to California and you can click on the lengthy pdf file)

I've read most of the 280-/+ pages.
one thing stands out, TURF WARS ARE SELF-DEFEATING!
if fire is war, only humans squabble & allow fire to win a battle.

4/17 ab,

I'm trying to find out where, how many, and what agencies have heli-rappel programs. You would think the agencies would have a master list showing all rappel programs or at least all the helitack locations. I cant find anything like it. Why is it so hard to find information about this. I am a permanent on a FS shot crew, and I will give you 5 bucks if you can tell me exactly how many real Type 1 Hotshot crews there are active today. I'm frustrated that this information is not easily found. Anyway, any help would be appreciated, or is the gov. keeping this top secret?


Shhhh, stuff about hotshots is very very secret: www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/hotshots/IHC_index.phpl
The stuff about the helirappers is in the "if I tell ya, I'll have to kill ya" category. All that upside down and spread eagle spook stuff out of the helicopter, ya know. Shhhh. Ab.
4/16 Thanks sm for your informative posts. We're both on the same page, I think.

An important thing to remember.... this is a settlement agreement (Consent Decree).

Under a consent decree, the judge doesn't offer or make any interpretation, he or she just enforces the "agreement" made between the plaintiff and the appellant. The judge just appoints a court monitor to let him or her know how the agreement is going and whether anyone is in contempt of the agreement.

Another judge could over-rule the Consent Decree if it's found to be illegally using quotas for hiring...or was not attainable by any party in the agreement. Marci Seville's own tape recorded message --that all R-5 employees had to watch --said there was no quota system... She was careful to avoid quotas since THEY ARE ILLEGAL...hmmm. Federal Law.

Don't get me wrong, I fully believe in creating a diverse workforce. I work in a pretty diverse workplace compared to many other sectors of the Federal Government. It's nice to have all of the different ideas, cultures, and perspectives in the agency.

It's just very hard to compete with every other fire department (and yes, the Forest Service is a Fire Department) who is offering better pay, benefits, working conditions, and portal to portal pay. Each of these other fire departments are also looking at increasing their diversity and are using us as a "shopping cart".

Shopping Cart = We hire new employees.....we evaluate them.....we retain and promote the strongest and best candidates to career positions... we send them to specialized training to accelerate their career..... we give them a strong work ethic... we set them up to be our managers of tomorrow....... then they are hired by another agency and they check out.

Thats the problem that Marci Seville should be addressing.......

Sorry for the soapbox....
4/16 For post:

Re: Ab's comments on my "Es el mismo perro con diferente collar" quote.

A more literal translation of the quote would be, " It's the same dog with a different collar". The who/what/why of the Hispanic Resolution vs the Consent Decree is irrelevant. I suggest we've seen this lunacy before and the bottom line is that everyone in Region 5 suffered from the Consent Decree, just as they will suffer for years to come from the Hispanic Resolution.

I'm not surprised you can still feel the pain here in this forum from male and female participants as they continue to vent or defend themselves against the long term effects of the Consent Decree. I feel strongly that if there had been no Consent Decree, there would be just as many females in just as many high level positions as there are now, except they wouldn't be carrying around a large load of unnecessary guilt baggage. As I read of the intent of Region 5 to remedy their current fiasco I'm reminded of their futile Consent Decree Resolution attempts to fill round holes with square pegs. It didn't work then and it won't now.

As I review my original "perro" quote, I see it could be inverted from my original intent and the dog could be the white male and the collar used to hold them back analogous to just another foolish judicial decision.

An optimist might say that there is always a silver lining in every cloud. In this case it must any Region other than 5 who are receiving more applications than normal as they intelligently select their new hires based on knowledge, skills, and abilities.

4/16 The Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated. Flaming Gorge Heli- Rappellers are recruiting as is the Mad River RD of the Six Rivers NF.

Please notice that we have a collection of new sponsors on theysaid. When you refresh the page or when you log on, the banners rotate randomly among the four vendors who have banded together to support us on this page.


4/16 Ab who has shelters for sale?


The new ones have been recalled to reinforce the handles. I doubt that any are for sale at this time. Ab.

4/16 We've discovered the photographer of the Picnic Rock Fire plume posted on the wildlandfire main and wallpaper pages. It was taken by Rod Moraga (Boulder, CO) who was the initial FBAN with Blume's Type II IM Team. Kelly Close, of the Poudre Fire Authority let us know. He's archiving the Picnic Rock Fire photos and took some of the other photos on the Fire 22 photo page. If anyone wants a copy of Picnic Rock Plume 1 in a larger version for wallpaper, ask us. It's a nice one. Many thanks Kelly and thanks to the other photographers, too. Ab.

Having just read some of the discussion on "They Said," here a little more background on the Picnic Rock Fire. It started mid-day on 3/30 northwest of Ft. Collins, CO (near the mouth of Poudre Canyon). It went big, and quickly - steep, rocky south aspect, dry grass (pre-greenup) and dormant brush. It was run with a Type 3 IMT (Poudre Fire Authority and Larimer County) for the first two days. Blume's Type 2 team took it over on April 1. Rod Moraga (Boulder, CO) was the initial FBAN with Blume's team and took the plume photo on your index and wallpaper pages and I took the other plume photo (4/1) on the Fire 22 photo page. I also took the aerial origin photos (4/5) and Jim Lynxwiler of the Poudre Fire Authority took the night fire photo. I took over as FBAN for the last few days of the fire. Cooler weather and rain helped bring it to an end, and it transitioned back to a Type 3 on 4/8.

Amazing how fast those photos spread through the system from just one casual e-mail! Hope this helps.

This fire may be a sign of the season to come for CO; looks to be a tough one.

--Kelly Close, Poudre Fire Authority

4/16 Hello, I would like to submit our logo and another pic of our FMC (Ford Motor Company) skidgine and trucks.
I submitted one last year, but now we have flames on them and they look soooooo good.


I put them on Logos 10 and Equipment 7 photo pages. Ab.
4/16 Barry,

How come you have given up because you cant get a perm fed job?? The feds are'nt everything!! CDF will hire perms at any age, as will many high class fire contractors, such as Firestorm or North Tree Fire, and some of these contractors have full benefits, with retirement, health insurance, etc., and have year round work fighting fire and doing prescribed burns, and PAY MORE than the feds. Some people get so burned out trying to get Fed work that they forget that there's other very good options out there. -TRY SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!! Don't get caught up in all of this hiring freeze stuff if you dont have to!

4/16 My family and I will be traveling to America from Alaska for the first time in quite a while. I worked on the line for 14 years. We'll be going through Colorado on I-70. I understand there is a memorial and/ or trail commemorating our brothers and sisters who died in the South Canyon fire. Could someone please give directions and/or any info on the memorial. We would like to pay our respects. Thanks!

An old squad boss with bad knees.

PS- All of you be safe this year! No more memorials...
4/16 DISPATCHER'S WEEK - kudos and sincere thanks!! also to the many "support personnel"
who labor behind the scenes to ensure everyone on the fireline is paid, outfitted, fed, etc

Has anyone read the official CA blue ribbon commission's after action report subsequent to last
fall's firestorm in southzone?


4/16 Re the Quota on hiring Hispanics:

In 1980 and again in 1990, I worked in the Winter months for the Census Bureau as a special places Crew Leader. As all of this hiring freeze stuff is related to Census demographics, let me tell all of you about how the Census is counted. If you go to a house, and the family refuses to give you race info, the enumerator IS ALLOWED TO GUESS!!! This then becomes federal data for all uses, including determining state race populations. So much for the "Accurate Census data" that the court monitor keeps talking about. Also, the Hispanic population in the western states have one issue that other races do not, Up to 30 % of all the Hispanic population in California are NOT legal citizens! As census enumerators do not have to determine a persons legal status, all are counted as if they were legal. So, If this settlement was based on numbers of potential future Hispanic applicants based only on Census Bureau information, the real numbers of people that would be able to apply for positions is much, much, less. After selections for apprentice jobs, there is a drug test, then a background check, and applicants must be able to read and write English to enter the program. Every year even experienced folks wash out of the program, How are the new off the street hires going to fare?

I think this whole thing is jeopardizing Public Safety and Property, and possibly human lives, by delaying the start dates of many Engine Modules and handcrews that would have started on May 3rd. I realize that the feds probably have not treated all races equally in the past, but how will jeopardizing the Safety of the entire State fix this? Forced Bussing in the 1960's didn't work, Affirmative Action in the 1970's didn't work very well, and I cant see this working either. I know FMO's and AFMO's who are so fed up by this whole thing, they are retiring earlier than they would have, so as to not have to deal with this, and that is a real "Watch Out Situation"


4/16 Hispanic Resolution Solution:

Here's an idea for resolving the current shortage of Hispanics in R5 fire employment. According to the Hispanic Settlement Agreement Monitor (and everyone who's written in here), there just aren't enough candidates to be found willing to relocate themselves and/or families to work in widely scattered, remote areas for seasonal work.

How about we dust off our history books and check for a prior solution to a major US employment predicament? I don't think we need to look any further back than 1942 when the United States and Mexico signed an agreement that provided hundreds of thousands of workers willing to travel anywhere for a job. Yup, it was the Bracero Program, see here if you haven’t heard of it: www.farmworkers.org/bracerop.phpl.

The USFS Regional and National administrators need to remove their blinders, widen their perspectives and think “outside the box”! There is a virtual unlimited applicant pool waiting just across our Southern border! They will work anywhere, under the harshest conditions, for minimum wages. There wouldn’t be any need for “La Migra” to cloud the process with green cards, they’d all have a “red card”. There wouldn’t be any worry about them “jumping ship” to work for other agencies who offer superior pay, work environments, or benefits. We could work ‘em all Summer, then send ‘em home. That would also produce in large unemployment savings. Please contact me for a list of many other significant benefits if you are interested.

I’ve seen this idea surface in the newspapers over the last 6 months as a solution for other agricultural issues, so it really isn’t that outlandish. Just give me the word and I’ll submit a contract to San Francisco for signatures, then I’ll form a committee and some task forces to make it all happen!

The Hispanic Settlement = Es el mismo perro con diferente collar.


sm, I know your ref to the Bracero Program is tongue in cheek.
Your statement that The Hispanic Settlement = "is the same but of a different color" is not quite true. The quota on which this is based is bogus from the census data on down to the under-reported race or ethnicity data. At least with the Consent Decree, the gender quota was a more scientifically "real" number in that someone's gender is usually more clearly distinguishable than whether someone is Hispanic. Ab.

4/15 Someone just told me that it's DISPATCHER'S WEEK.

Let's hear it for all the dispatchers out there in the fire world. We couldn't do it without you!


4/15 Ab, please post this --
Meeting notes from the National IC and Area Command Meeting


4/15 With all the posts on quota, at an age over 37 I can only work fire as a temp.
No career path for me. IT has been this way for some time, How about changing
it too, or accept the way things are and live with it, life is not always fair.

4/15 Interesting, DF


January 2004
Similarities of Fatality Fires

Following is a brief overview of the some of the key similarities of three fatality fires: South Canyon, Thirtymile, and Cramer. Twenty firefighters lost their lives on these fires in the last decade. These similarities are based upon a review of the official fire investigation reports and other public documents.


Each host fire Unit had experienced previous entrapment and/or fatality fires

Each Unit was a "consolidated Unit" and/or had poor working relationships with the adjoining Unit

Severe to extreme drought conditions and a high Haines Index were present

A multiple fire situation existed, both in the GAC and on the Unit

There was active fire behavior day and night

Rapid fire growth unexpected by leadership

Personnel were working up hill and/or up canyon from the fire

Multiple day, extended attack operations on a Type 3 fire

Strategy and tactics: Direct attack with hand crews (two of the three fires involved the aerial delivery of firefighters above the fire.

Firefighters personal actions did not reflect the fire danger

Improper application of PPE provided (esp. fire shelters, gloves, fire clothes)

ICT3 involved in significant managerial and/or personal issues not related to the fire suppression action on the fatality fire.

Numerous leadership failures, as evidenced by:

  • Inadequate briefings of assigned personnel
  • Unsuccessful strategy and tactics not adjusted
  • Spot weather forecasts not requested
  • Lack of fire behavior predictions
  • Confusion on who is in charge
  • Poor management of fatigue
  • Risks un-assessed and/or poorly managed
  • Non-compliance with 10 Standard Firefighting Orders
  • Non-mitigation of applicable Watch Out Situations
  • Need to deploy shelters was unexpected
  • Fire Program Managers with a large span of control re: oversight
  • Fire Program Managers with limited strategic operations experience
  • Poor oversight of the ICT3's strategy and tactics by the FPM and/or AA
  • FPM and/or AA didn't ask for help (deputies) in a high workload situation
  • Lack of preparedness actions in response to fire season severity and multiple fire situations

Jim Payne

4/15 Interesting, DF


January 2004
Similarities of Fatality Fires

Following is a brief overview of the some of the key similarities of three fatality fires: South Canyon, Thirtymile, and Cramer. Twenty firefighters lost their lives on these fires in the last decade. These similarities are based upon a review of the official fire investigation reports and other public documents.


Each host fire Unit had experienced previous entrapment and/or fatality fires

Each Unit was a "consolidated Unit" and/or had poor working relationships with the adjoining Unit

Severe to extreme drought conditions and a high Haines Index were present

A multiple fire situation existed, both in the GAC and on the Unit

There was active fire behavior day and night

Rapid fire growth unexpected by leadership

Personnel were working up hill and/or up canyon from the fire

Multiple day, extended attack operations on a Type 3 fire

Strategy and tactics: Direct attack with hand crews (two of the three fires involved the aerial delivery of firefighters above the fire.

Firefighters personal actions did not reflect the fire danger

Improper application of PPE provided (esp. fire shelters, gloves, fire clothes)

ICT3 involved in significant managerial and/or personal issues not related to the fire suppression action on the fatality fire.

Numerous leadership failures, as evidenced by:
Inadequate briefings of assigned personnel
Unsuccessful strategy and tactics not adjusted
Spot weather forecasts not requested
Lack of fire behavior predictions
Confusion on who is in charge
Poor management of fatigue
Risks un-assessed and/or poorly managed
Non-compliance with 10 Standard Firefighting Orders
Non-mitigation of applicable Watch Out Situations
Need to deploy shelters was unexpected
Fire Program Managers with a large span of control re: oversight
Fire Program Managers with limited strategic operations experience
Poor oversight of the ICT3's strategy and tactics by the FPM and/or AA
FPM and/or AA didn't ask for help (deputies) in a high workload situation
Lack of preparedness actions in response to fire season severity and multiple fire situations

Jim Payne

4/15 Question: Have Gov't policy makers gone nuts? Are lawyers crawling out of the woodwork hoping to make a name for themselves & maybe rake in a big fee in the process? Fleecing the public takes many roads especially frivolous law suits.

<grins> "gonna be hard pressed to find a bunch of Mexicans/ Guatamalans/ Latinos/whateverthehellyouwannacall'em / brown people who are gonna relocate to ... Boondock National Forests"...
*L* maybe not if recruiting in Fresno - farm laborers understand stoop labor and how to use a hand tools - Can they communicate effectively?

<education & hiring quotas were attempted in CA in the 80's. i.e. the Bakke (sp) case in the 80s. anyone recall the caucasian guy who filed/won a law suit after UC Davis medical school turned down his application? (he later washed out before graduation) That fallout may have led to a state general employment hiring QUOTA mentality, including CDF. Anyone want to guess which ethnic groups lost out? (Japanese and white males) BUT, wasn't that about the same time law enforcement & firefighter height restrictions were phased out & opened the employment door for shorter folk - sorta evened out the ground?
< last time I looked, demographically CA & several other states have a higher percentage of Indian/Native American/ American Indian/ Indiginous People than many US states. are there any R5 all Indian crews?
<what's the firefighter ethnicity ratio compared to the demographics in AK?

Sure everyone wants a leg up on their chosen career "ladder"; bottom line is ya gotta cut the mustard in any profession. A quota system is as short sighted as "good ole boy" mentality.

Do I have answers? HELL NO!
Do I think the latest edict that sounds like a quota system will stand? not when mid-April grass is yellow in northzone; not when half the R5 urban interface homeowners still have shake roofs and dead pines in their yards. Doesn't Tahoe Basin still have dead & dying trees beginning at the NV border?

To those who are hoping for a WFF career, follow your dream;
To the parents whose kids want to fight fire, support them;

4/15 I too am a disgruntled with this whole quota system.

Although I was hired as a permanent in R-3, I accepted the job. Received my job packet with the opening line, Dear Ms. (my last name). I paid no attention to it until I had found out that the forest supervisor had held up my application during some hiring process and said quote "You will hire this woman", Paying no attention to my selective service registration number. (Which they don't have women in the draft system). Now I'm a Module leader in R-5, and still proving myself and keeping my crew safe.

P.S. If stuff keeps going like it is we're going to get our expletive deleted kicked this year.

4/15 NG... I wasn't posting towards you unless you are Gordon.... or an assimilation thereof....

I learned two years ago that it's best to NOT post tongue in cheek comments..... it's best to be factual and hit the points... After many online beatings from posters and corrections from the Ab's, I try to just hit the points and issues.. while tongue in cheek works in face to face conversation, it usually fails while people are reading or "chatting"... we don't know the other person and don't know if they are being sincere or making a post "tongue in cheek". Many times we agree but seem to argue because we each keep posting "tongue in cheek".

Thank you for clarifying your post.....

I am an R-5 employee... I don't plan on leaving... I love my job, my agency, and my workplace.... There are changes that could be made though..... That's why I am interested in, and active in the FWFSA and come to post here on a regular basis. I don't know all of the answers... nobody does... That's why I come here... Information exchange... It's two-way communication and education....

Like I said before, it's time to stop being treated like a mushroom..... rules are rules... laws are laws...process is process..... Lurkers... shame on you!!! Speak up or continue to be treated like a mushroom!!

4/15 To All-

NG is right, get out of R5 right now...between Norton, Bush, and the other powers that be, it will only get worse.

I left the Socal area two years ago when I was told the only way I could ever get a permanent job was to go through the JAC Acedemy. Well, now I'm sitting in a nice permanent GS-6/7 position in Alaska. More importantly, I am much saner than I was down there beating my head into the ground as a GS-04 on a shot crew. Just remember, the same politics that helped burn houses down last October are now keeping well qualified individuals out of jobs....

But this is only the beginning. On the horizon looms the fact that MEL hiring is winding down, the big wildland fire machine is running out of funding, and now all these new engines, helicopters, and crews that have started up might be on the outside looking in when it comes to funding for 2005 and beyond. Some areas of the western U.S. are already seeing a reduction in severity and pre-suppression money...So, if you are one of the new MEL hires in the last 3-4 years, don't kid yourself, it might not matter if you are Caucasian, Latino, African American, Native American or any other ethnic group, you might not have a job or you will be asked to take on a position you don't want...it's historically happened before, and if Norton, Bush, and the rest of the highter ups have their way, we will see a significant reduction in our forces after Clinton and his administration did so much to help swell the ranks...Man I love our government and the crackhead way we do things...

4/14 I've updated the Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455.


4/14 SAFETY WARNING: New Fire Shelter Recall

AZ Trailblazer

We posted this on the 9th before they got the warning up on the safenet website, but it is worth pointing to again. Ab.

4/14 Lobotomy: You missed the tongue-in-cheek in my post.

But in a more real sense -- the Constitution and the law have nothing to do with it. The Federal judiciary in general, and the 9th circuit in particular, are above the law. The routinely reinterpret or just outright ignore precedence and the Constitution. The are accountable to no one, never face reelection, and de facto have no limits on their power. Their daily whims and fancies become law, enforceable by the U.S. Marshals -- a law enforcement agency not accountable to elected officials, only to the same federal courts that issue their orders. By now you know the 'checks and balances' we all learned in high school civics class is largely a myth. I don't like it. It is not fair. But it is reality.

This why we have lawyers and judges misusing and abusing the law to social engineer an entire federal agency. 93% of the population of California is urban. The other 7% have no real choice but to suffer mob rule. We can moan and complain about it, but unless you are willing to fight and accept all the risks such a fight entails, there is little we can do about it.

To all the others on this forum who are not in R-5 or work for another agency -- stay there. If you are a white male R-5 does not want you, regardless of skills, experience, or qualifications. If you are an R-5 employee -- leave. You will make just as much money elsewhere, and you will regain your sanity and your self-respect.


While that's all true, this Ab says with passion... Pull on gloves, adjust shroud, lower visor. I'll never abandon the line.

4/14 AB,
I am confused about the whole Hispanic thing. I feel
that the most qualified person should get the job,
regardless of race or gender. I am pretty sure that
all of us can look in our family trees' and find
something that will get us an advantage over others.
It is time that we start working hard, and get the
job, because we are the most qualified applicant, and
not because of our race or gender. I think that the
Forest Service and every other Fire Service agency
should look at qualifications, do to safety issues if
nothing else. Isn't it constantly stressed to us as
Fire Fighters. Safty, Safety, Safety!!! And finally
my last rant, NorCal Forests are alittle backwoods,
but they are still good places to get great fire
4/14 To the Nomad

I was an explorer with Stn32 in Azusa. That was back in '97 though. Thanks for the helpful insight from all of you! My deal is that I am currently not working any fire job and since I am a husband and a poppa of one (with one on the way) I need to get out of my cubicle job and do what I was trained to do. More than 5 years of schooling and two fire academies later I finally figured out my calling really is fire, but in the wildland fire.

(I apologize for the life story). I want to work in wildland. Structure stuff just doesn't hold my interest.

<dream sequence> Once you've seen a fly crew come over a hill in a huey and the toughest people you've ever seen unload shovels and pulaskis, gosh it still makes my heart drop, well.......<little tear>

I didn't want to go back to TC's and full arrests. I admire the structure people for what they do, don't misunderstand me, but wildland is the only direction I want to go. I'm in the same boat with the person called "Jason" right now I am going to test for the FSA position soon (which is ideal for family as far as job scheduling and full-time pay, and I know what to expect growing up with LACo) I won't be rich but that has never been the goal. I also am on the "call list" for CDF (whatever that means). I have been disenchanted with the Feds, but I think it's because I expect to say sir as many times in a sentence, and all that militaristic training I've been through. Even the shot captain I was talking to kept insisting on me calling him by first name. I couldn't do it.

SO That's what I'm weighing. This may be too much on the personal side for this board, but I really desire the advice & input from ya'll. It's like having a bunch of family members helping me, and that is priceless to me at this point in the game. Thanks in advance heroes.

Maybe just,
The Squirrel.
4/14 Ab --

I've been lurking for a few months now -- you've set up a wonderful forum!
I've appreciated the lively debates and thought-provoking discussions, as well
as the great links to other sources of information. And now I actually have
something to say...

RE: the R5 hiring freeze...

what a pain, eh?! I turned down a job in another region, as I was in
negotiations with a crew in R5 and I decided CA is the right place for me for
now. Instead, I get a call from the preferrered job in R5 saying there's this
hiring freeze and they don't know when it will all get sorted out, but they
still hope to hire me. I hope so, too! What do I now? I'm not hispanic, so
does that mean my job offer is in jeopardy? Should I be actively pursuing
other options in other regions? What a mess. Does anybody know when the
process might get moving again?

I don't think I expect answers, just needed to vent. Getting a fire job has
been a dream of mine for years, and being so close yet so uncertain is very

My personal thoughts... being qualified for the job should be the only
consideration. I have no control over which ethnicity I was born into, just as
I couldn't control being born into a struggling farm family. But I do have
control over my attitude, my enthusiasm, my ethics, and my desire to keep
learning. I had to work hard for my education and experience, and I earned
every bit of it. I personally would feel cheapened if I knew I got a job
because I'm female, not because I'm qualified -- and I would think a Hispanic
or African-American or purple-and-green-polka-dotted-American might feel the
same way. And if everyone is pointing out that quotas are illegal -- why are
the admin types getting away with this? Seems like a big political mess to me,
and I just wish my (potential) job wasn't in the middle of it.

I would hope some of the higher-ups might read some of these discussions to
gain some important perspective.

-yakkin' yeti

Welcome to theysaid. Ab.
4/13 Gordon, your assumption that "case law and the Constitution are irrelevant here." is just another uninformed example of Federal Employees being treated like mushrooms. KEPT IN THE DARK AND FED BULL*HIT.

Common sense, fairness, and rational thinking has EVERYTHING TO to do with it... as does the Federal Laws.

Federal Employees are a little more educated than you seem to think..... not everyone has the "Forestry Technician" mentality.... and willing to be treated like a mushroom...... A few speak out...

4/13 FSSquirrel,

Consider this- CDF may not be able to rehire returners in some places because of the CA budget crisis. I haven't had much to do with CDF for a while now, but given the current budget situation, I'd say your chances are slim. Nonetheless, I'm sure your chances vary from ranger unit to ranger unit. Also, remember that CDF is union run shop- seniority means a bit more than it does with the feds.

I don't know if you know how CDF runs things, but it goes a little something like this...
Most people start out as seasonal Fire Fighter 1's on a "Schedule B" (ie Wildland) engine. Moving up in the world typically involves either a) doing helitack or b) working as a Fire Fighter 2 on a "Schedule A" (ie structure) engine.

After that you try to get a spot as an LT (Limited Term) Engineer then as a Permanent Engineer & up from from there.

The nice thing is that 1) seasonals get full benefits & time in grade counted toward retirement 2) FFT1 time counts toward your CA state Fire Marshall FFT1 cert requirements if that's what your going for. 3) CDF training -swift water rescue, Haz Mat FRO, low angle rescue, etc- crosses over nicely with most CA structure departments, since that's what it seems like you're going for.

The downside -if you want to call it that- is that you don't travel as much as with the feds & your season is dependant on in state and local fire activity almost exclusively. The other thing is that there's less opportunity for advancement or if not true "advancement" there's less diversity of experiences than with the feds. With the feds, you can start out on an engine one season, try your hand at Helitack the next, then hop on a handcrew or a shot crew after that. And you can pretty much work anywhere in the American West.

If any of you current CDFer's out there have anything to correct or add, please do so. I am by no means an authority on these matters.

One last thing- FSSquirrel, what LACoFD station are you an explorer at?


4/13 To Forest Service employee about CDF

If you have a chance to take a perm. 26-0 position you should take it with either agency. You just have to ask yourself where youre happy and if you want to expand your career as a firefighter. I did it and love it, I got my work ethic from the Forest Service. In Socal here in Riverside, we have 94 stations and have all aspects, both urban like "Los Angeles" and we have rural places like "Ely, Nevada" so its your choice and if you just want to do wildland, stay with the Forest Service.


4/13 Hello, I am looking for a course book for Fire line EMT. I don't know if there is
such a book, but I am looking. I know of the Medical Unit leader book, but that
is not what I am looking for.

Any help in this matter is greatly appreciated. Jeff Ostrander
4/13 To An R-5er:

Common Sense?

This whole thing is driven by lawyers and federal judges. Common sense, fairness, and rational
thinking have nothing to do with it. Remember -- this is the 9th Circuit. Case law and the Constitution
are irrelevant here.


4/13 Just a thought on the settlement agreement in R5.

Although I could have checked the box as a hispanic I never have. I always wanted to think I got the job because I was qualified, not because I was brown or from an inner-city barrio. My name does not reflect my ethnicity, but it does reflect my gender (female). I can't help but wonder how many others out there have done the same not thinking of ridiculass quotas? Is there anyway to let those people "check the box" if they are willing to now? What a mess, when are we going to get it together and just hire people that are A: Interested and B: Qualified? I left R5 during consent decree and it sure doesn't look like i'll be going back anytime soon!

4/13 Question for CDF Folks,

What is the chance that after working a season with CDF that I will be hired on full time.
Let's add to that...let's say I am a work horse all season, and volunteering for stuff etc. I
am just weighing this position verses a full time position.

4/13 Everyone... flash back to reality........FOCUS on the issues at hand.

Quotas and hiring targets are illegal under Federal Law..... Then maybe
certain settlement agreements are also illegal or invalid....

Hmmm... just for thoughts

Rogue Rivers
4/12 "John" posted some thoughts about using his fire shelter and personal accountability for protecting your own butt while on the fireline (my words, not his): this seems to fly directly into the face of the recently stated opinion of the Intermountain Regional Forester of the USFS that the 2 folks that died on "Cramer" had no responsibility in their own deaths.

What a bunch of crazy ideas: personal accountability and responsibility; be your own safety Officer; follow the 10 & 18.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear our old friend Paul G. has come back (using the pseudo "John") to give an LCES "Heads-up" for what could be another nasty, and dangerous, fire season!

4/12 Ab,

If your posting is true about bringing SoCal Hispanics to NorCal and getting a recruitment team together to go and get Hispanics for the Apprentice program, then that is the STUPIDEST thing I have ever heard.

If this plan is followed, there will be huge wedge driven in the agency. If they are going to get a hiring team together to go out and recruit, then they need to bring in people from fire to give perspective hires a CLEAR and REALISTIC explanation regarding what this job is all about. They should be looking at recruiting for seasonal jobs instead of permanent. There are plenty of quality people that work for the agency right now that have some experience that could be picked up for the Apprentice program.

I have a question, how many new apprentices do we really need? I don't know about the other Forests, but the LP barely has room for the 12-15 new Apprentices that are going through the Academy right now. We can't even find qualified people to fill most of the permanent positions we have open right now!!!!!

As the days go by this settlement gets more comical. I agree with Half Staffed Crews if I read their last comment correctly. I too will throw in my vote of no support for the Regional Forester. This surfing Spaniard will do anything to help make a change, especially since he was part of taking the LP's fire organization away.

Wake up people in the Regional Office and, for once, do something that can benefit everyone. There are ways, if you use something called common sense...

4/12 Ab,

I've seen discussion here that some people think that their job offers are safe based on when they were offered, and that's NOT true. The initial calls are called " Interest calls" and no official job offer can be made at that time. Then the tentative selections get examined by the FMO, the District Ranger, and are signed and sent to the Forest's HR dept. There, the Civil Rights and HR people look them over, and recommend for selection, (or not), and from there, they go to the Forest Supervisor, who must sign off on them. After all of this HR will inform the supervisor that they can make an official job offer. If all of this has not been done, it is not a real job offer. So, most of the calls made before April were just "Interest calls", and were NOT real job offers, and are frozen in the Hiring freeze. Any Forest that promised people guaranteed employment during an interest call could be in trouble, as this system is set up this way to ensure that all the R-5 forests get an even chance at hiring new employees, and is supposed to be a "checks and balances" system to ensure diversity. The forests that have been ignoring this, and hiring the "good old boy" way, have ruined this for everybody, and this is why we now have the freeze. Also, when a manager sees the Certs, there is no race or sex info on it, but we are directed to look for diversity. So, the only way to do that is to guess at names, and hope they ate diverse. This lends a little credo to the person who said to change names to get selected!


-MJ, people I have talked with today have bent over backwards to follow hiring protocol and to hire experienced and educated diversity people. That's why some fire managers are considering a grievance. No one I know is following the "good old boy" approach you describe. What I heard is that of the 1700 temp seasonal positions, 1200 have already been filled. In my estimation the hiring method is not what has created this problem. People have worked at hiring minorities. The hiring "target" or "quota" is what it unrealistic, given the job and location. Read Nomad's post. Ab.

4/12 Re: r5 hiring

R5 will never get out of its hole until the regional office is moved out of the bay area -- not just across the bay to Vallejo, not reshuffling jobs in HR and CR -- move the entire office completely out of the bay area and away from the bay area mentality.

There's an old saying with a lot of truth in it: California is the land of fruits and nuts, and when people get too looney for the rest of California, they move to San Francisco. R5's entire HR and CR staffs, by design or proximity, march in lockstep to the ultra-liberal whacko politically-correct San Francisco group-think. Maybe they didn't intend to, but they became like that by immersion.

Get them out of there while there is still time!! Move to Sacramento, Redding, or Fresno. Even Los Angeles would be an improvement. Any city where real people think.

I am not bashing San Francisco. It's a great city to visit. Kinda like going to the circus. But it is no place to headquarter a government agency.

As for the argument "The courts are making us do it. We are just following orders." -- Well, I think we dealt with that argument in the Nuremburg trials.



Dear Hoping,

I know what you mean. Even if this regional "team" is successful in hiring 500 people off the streets by the first week in May, we will have to give them 30 days to prepare for the pack test and knowing the bureaucracy needs at least 2 weeks to get the paperwork cranked out just to get them signed up (if everything goes at the speed of light), then add 2 weeks of basic 32 training on to that ....we are talking the 1st week in July at the earliest just to get them on board. How the heck do you provide a positive environment for crew cohesion with that kind of schedule. You know dang well fires will be popping by then.

As for safety, I smell a few slices of the swiss cheeze model lining up......

Do you suppose it would be too much to ask that the basic 32 be provided at the regional level before they are sent to their assigned units so we don't have that monkey on our backs on all forests everywhere in CA?


PS. Count me in on the hostile work environment grievance.

4/12 The last month of discussions could probably be said under the three following links....




SAFETY FIRST, foremost, and always

Rogue Rivers
4/12 Ab, here's an mpg of the 747 drop that was done on 4/7 at Marana. It's being passed around to coworkers. I'd hate to be under the drop from that thing.


R3 Observer

Here's more info and the comments from the AT Pilots Board.

4/12 Structure Triage Checklist


I am teaching a structure triage class shortly and I have lost my file. I used to have a checklist that would
give a points score to determine if a structure was "savable". Do any of you know where I can find a copy?
I have looked for 3 weeks and my class is coming up. Thanks for any help. And Stay Safe!

4/12 On looking over the Quotes and Aphorisms to Live By:

Here's a little something I tell the volunteers in our local vfd whenever I
teach a 130/190, or annual recert.

If I ever have to deploy my fire shelter, it means I personally messed up. It
means I over looked something that I have been trained to watch out for at
all times when I am on the fireline, and should have seen coming well before
any need to deploy . It means I have over looked most likely several items found
in the 10 Fire Orders and 18 Watchout Situations. It may also mean I made a
bad decision, not to deny a particularly hazardous assignment, or to properly
mitigate hazards. In the end I feel that in any case, responsibility for my
personal safety, and the safety of my crew ultimately rests on my own shoulders.
It is up to everybody on the fireline to be their own personal "safety
officer", and make sure the return home safely to their loved ones at the end of the


4/12 Here is the letter I told you about. Feel free to post it. It's no
secret. Note the monitor's email message about being out of town and no
doubt she's not the one to dream up this latest hiring mess (although she no
doubt initiated the panic). Looks to me like the Regional Forester is
the one behind all this insanity.

A little birdy

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

Letter from Hispanic Settlement Agreement Monitor, Marci Seville, to Region 5 Forester, Jack Blackwell

Dear Jack:

Enclosed is the letter I discussed with you this morning, along with
attachments to the letter. I will be out of town 4/5 to 4/15. I plan to be
at the RHWGX meeting with you on 4/19, but feel free to contact me before
then if you would like to discuss anything in the enclosed letter.

Marci Seville
Monitor, Hispanic Settlement Agreement

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

April 5, 2004
Notes from Conference Call of the Regional Hispanic Working Group

This morning I participated in a conference call of Forest Representatives for the Regional Hispanic Working Group (RHWG) in Region 5. I will briefly go over what was discussed.

Once a month the Executive Committee meets with the court appointed Monitor (Marci Seville <snip phone number>) to discuss all areas of compliance with the Settlement agreement. Some of the current areas of concern are:

  • After One and a half years of the Hispanic Settlement Agreement there seems to be little if any improvement in numbers.
  • There appears to be substantial non-compliance with the Settlement Agreement. Possibility of being in "contempt"
  • Leadership selection - there are some questions concerning the processes used in selection of leadership roles for the Region.
  • Temporary Hiring - various problems involving the AVUE system and with STEPs, SCEPs, and Apprenticeships.
  • Enterprise Teams - a lot of TEAMS but very little diversity in employees.
  • Forestry Techs in Fire - this is the employment area most under represented. Some talk of pulling authority to hire from Forest Supervisors and doing it from central location.
  • CR Officers - need for the Officers to be involved in all aspects of recruiting and hiring. Not consistent between Forests.
  • Unit Employment Review Teams - possibility of teams that will review all aspects of recruiting and hiring including numbers of diverse applicants all the way through hiring.
  • Retention and upward movement - what is being done for those already in the organization "what's it going to do for me"?

The role of the Forest Representative is to act as a conduit between the unit and the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee meets monthly with the court appointed Monitor. The Monitor acts as the Judge's "eyes and ears".

On a regular basis the Forest Representatives also meet with the Executive Committee and the court Monitor. This will next take place on June 22 and 23.

The Monitor is due to release a report on her findings in the very near future. As soon as I receive this I will share it with all of you.

In the next couple of months I will try to gain a better understanding of where we currently are on the Forest, what steps we have in place to improve, and what additional steps we can take to increase the percentage of Hispanics in our Workforce.

If any of you have issues or concerns that need to be addressed please contact me so that I can bring them forward. I look forward to meeting those of you who I do not yet know. <snip phone numbers>

Michael Rubinstein
Forest Representative RHWG

4/12 Ab,

You said, "I know of some experienced blacks and women firefighters that now will not be hired locally here in Norcal." Seems you failed to mention white males....or does that go under the heading of WHITE MALES NEED NOT APPLY!

How about permanent positions? For those of us (white males) who are trying to move up the ladder, is there any point in continuing on with the FS? Experience, qualifications, education (Bach.of Sc.), and outstanding work performance apparently are not enough to succeed anymore.

This is not simply a job to me, it is my career and what I have always dreamed of doing. I've paid my dues but it seems I am still at the same grade. Others, with few qualifications, pass me by so quickly my head spins in dismay.

It is "optional" to select race, ethnicity, and sex on the application form. What happens if you select "no answer?" My guess is they assume you are a white male!

At the very least, meeting quotas is demoralizing to everyone involved. I grew up in a very diverse community. I have never judged people on their sex, race, ethnicity...and if a candidate is just as qualified for a position as I am..hey, let this be the tie breaker. But to advance (or hire) people based solely on these criteria is ludicrous.

I can only speak for myself, but lately...with nothing to strive for, my career is beginning to seem more like a job. With no chance for advancement, I can no longer justify staying with the USFS. It would be heartbreaking to leave, but I do have a family and future to think of.


Good point. Ab.
4/12 Ab,

I got the verbal offer in March but I didn't get the paperwork until last week. You guys got me nervous there for a second with this hiring freeze talk, but supposing an R-5er is right, I'm breathing easier. Whew....

So one bit of intel I'd like to see is the actual documentation where this is all written- we're all relying on hearsay & second hand info here in this discussion, but there's gotta be some documentation on the web or in the public domain somewhere to ground us before our imagination goes too far. Or maybe I'm just the only one here out of the FS email/internal memo email loop. Either way, I'd like to see SOMETHING other than hearsay.

The Nomad

We'll post the letter from the Hispanic Settlement person when it comes in. Ab.

Yes indeedy there seems to be no end to insanity in the agency these days. I am speaking of the latest R5 temp hiring freeze (which is just for fire since we have the most folks and apparently other department's temps are not counted as real by the hispanic settlement monitor. Aren't we special!) Forgive me if this turns into a little bit of a rant, but my dander is up even more than usual....

In my work Email I have a letter from the Hispanic court monitor to Regional Forester Blackwell (via several others, circulated widely) basically ripping him a new one and telling him all the things that haven't been done that he supposedly shoulda done by now and threatening to tell the judge we should be found in contempt. She referred quite liberally to the census figures that we should be meeting and how meager our increase in hispanic representation was in the technical ranks last year (from 10% to 11%). If someone has a copy of the letter, perhaps they can share it with Ab so a link can be posted here and youall can read the details for yourselves. Even though the settlement agreement itself is very clear there is no quota, methinks if the king is wearing no clothes someone ought to tell him....

My fire department is one of those who had all the paperwork in to hire highly qualified new temps that had a good percentage of diversity who probably will be gone to other jobs by time we could ever get permission to hire them even if that is possible. (unfortunately the offers weren't made before the big freeze) I do admit that my Ranger is as worked up about this as I am and intends to push this point back up the line ranks. I'm proud of him, but not very hopeful of success.

Several new opportunities for class action grievances come to mind over this mess. One would be the obvious reverse discrimination towards all the non-hispanic folks that now have a year or more delay in opportunity to compete for the apprenticeship program. The other (which is dear to my heart) concerns pushing fire managers everywhere to join together in a formal way to oppose the hostile work environment the Chief of the Forest Service has created for us by hiring a long succession of Regional Foresters with the marching orders to "fix" Region 5.

From a Fire Chief to the so called Chief: You can't keep doing the thing you always did and expect different results.

Sign me:
Hoping my half staffed crews will be safe this summer

4/12 I'd like to make a few points on the R-5 hiring thing.

1) Diversity in the workforce is a good thing. Every attempt should be made to hire and foster a diverse workforce. Quotas are bad and illegal.

2) Diversity brings many positive things to the workforce, but also brings many barriers. Current organizational norms have to be changed to allow for a more diverse workforce. ie- Forest Service Special Emphasis Programs... these groups need to done away with....

Forest Service special emphasis programs (SEP's) foster a fragmented workforce.... In 1998, Byron Kunisawa was hired by the R-5 Forest Service to do a study.... after his study was completed and presented at the R-5 Employee Event 1998 (www.wildlandfire.com/docs/herger2.php), the Forest Service "threw away" his report and ideas.... His report basically said, 'How can you have an all inclusive workforce when you insist in placing people into special emphasis programs and categorizing them?'

The main problem that the Forest Service fire program has with hiring and retaining a diverse workforce is:

1) Pay
2) Classification
3) Benefits
4) Retirement

When every other fire agency in the state is also struggling to meet diversity goals, do you think that the Forest Service will ever be able to compete? If the Forest Service could step up as the leader in the federal workforce and provide adequate pay, classification, benefits, and retirement.... then there would be not problem in hiring and maintaining a culturally diverse workforce.


p.s. - The Forest Service can step up to the plate and provide better pay, classification, benefits, and retirement.... Ask an FWFSA member how.....
4/12 As A-R5er said, if job offers have been made to temporaries, they stand. The LPF HRO folks sent out a list of already selected temps to the districts to verify. So guess if your hiring is done you are ok....if not,,guess we will see what the future holds.

As I alluded to in an earlier post, when individuals turned in applications and were hired locally (eons ago) our crews were made up of a mix of folks that represented the ethnicity of the local population well, Course that all changed when the WO decided to "fix" the problem? with a national system,,,,,,,,and here we are. Another fine mess.........

Don't know bout anyone else, but when the Captains that work for me lose the right to interview and select their crews it is time for me to just say no........If that means looking for other employment .so be it.

in answer to your question .NO. I don't check any boxes. The only "edge" I ever used was the 5 point veteran preference when I first got picked up in the mid 70's...Figured I earned that one.

4/12 hey!! ab my name is Armando Duarte, i was a crew member of bravo 10 in Mexicali Mexico, i just want to say thanks for publish all the work that every firefighter does, i would like to contact any fireman from bravo 10, i really hope you can help me, my email address is gammaraypowermetal@hotmail.com, Thank you and keep that good job.


You're welcome Armando. I will try to keep this good job. Ab.
4/12 LMH,

I would recommend that you contact the Unit's hiring coordinator from which you received the academy
announcement. CDF seasonal hiring is a very dynamic thing, so good communication with the Unit you're
applying with is a good thing. Good luck.

NorCal Tom,

I am by no means an expert but here is some information.

You are right on with your assessment of helicopter operations. CDF utilizes a "go/no go" checklist before any helicopter rescue. Pilot, rescue supervisor, crew chief, rescuer all have to be in agreement. The short haul rescue process for CDF is by design to be utilized as a "last resort" due to the hazards you have pointed out. A timely extraction by ground transport would be carefully looked at before an aerial rescue. Also we would look for an LZ to land or perform a one skid landing before utilizing short haul. Interestingly enough the USFS does not do one skid landings but CDF will and trains for it.

An important point here for all to consider. If your plan is aircraft dependant, then it is a bad plan! Before you put yourself into a spot consider like all other operations what your escape route is. If it is by air then you have made a monumental mistake.

Bottom line helicopter operations as stated are inherently hazardous. A risk assessment needs to be done on all air operations. Does the injury justify the need for a medivac by helicopter? Is it a night operation? If it is your risk has gone up exponentially. A chainsaw cut to a finger will not justify a night hoist rescue by helicopter. However a more serious injury may.

Risk analysis by more than one person on hazardous air operations is a good thing. Helicopters are a great tool and should be used in a time and place that is appropriate for that resource with minimal risk to the ground and air crew.

CDF Jake

4/12 This weekends edition of the National Public Radio Program ”Justice Talking” is about the
Healthy Forest Initiative. Here is the website to listen online:


4/12 Dear Jason,

I went out for the FSA program 2 years ago. It was the HARDEST course I ever had to endure. I only made it a few days before I dropped out. I thought I was on the verge of an serious injury and decided to walk away before getting hurt. If you are going out for this, please take my advise. WORK OUT HARD!! You have to be in shape or you will not make it. Out of 30 or more people that started the class with me, only 10 or less survived the training. If you know any U.S. Marines or Navy Seals ask them what their training was like; it will sound close to what they put you through. I am not kidding it is really tough. Here are some hints to help you during the training.

1. Bring a few plain white t-shirts with you. You don't know it yet, but that is the standard uniform.
2. Know your 10 and 18. Word for word. Be able to write them down. Study study study.
3. Don't wear and jewelery, sunglasses rings any thing like that; they will make you take it off.
4. Before the training starts drive to Camp 9 so you can find it. You don't want to be late the first day.
5. Be prepared to yell "YES SIR" and TIMBER BYE" alot. Don't ask what Timber bye means I never understood it myself.
6. Get comfortable running shoes and make sure they are well broken in. You don't want a blister to slow you down.

That is all the advice I can give you. If you want you can email me at firenorm@hotmail.com so we can talk more about the program. GOOD LUCK!!!!! You are going to need it.

4/11 I've got a test date with Los Angeles County Fire Department for the FSA
position. Anyone know what those tests consist of and how they are like?

4/11 For Your Information:

The Hispanic Settlement Woman pointed out that the numbers of hispanics hired in R5 did not reflect the percentage of Census Hispanics. I heard she left town for 2 weeks right after that. She is not imposing this irresponsible course of action on R5 Fire Hire. So WHO could it be? The WO? The Regional Forester? Who will be held accountable when R5 burns and we're not ready? God forbid, what if someone dies? This is a case where the WO or Regional Forester or whoever it is needs to be held accountable if there are terrible outcomes from this stupidity in hiring.

Another Disgruntled Manager.
4/11 Mellie,

Thank you. Your ability to write and clarify things is amazing. We will always be
<smiling with a big grin> cyber buddies.


From my understanding, if you had made job offers to your seasonals prior to
Tuesday April 6th, then they will be honored.

I wish everyone a happy Easter Sunday.


Nomad, there's your answer. Did your written or verbal offer come before April 6?

Does anyone know if no seasonals will be hired locally even if they are Hispanics? I know of some experienced blacks and women firefighters that now will not be hired locally here in Norcal. R5 is being required to adhere to hiring only Socal Hispanics from here on out to meet the "quota" -that the Hispanic settlement woman says is not a quota. Evidently a hiring team from the regional office is going to Fresno and several other places that have a high Hispanic population and they're going to have the authority to hire 500 Hispanics on the spot under the 0499 series into the apprentice program. These will be people who need not have fire experience. They may not know what they're getting into. Seems to me that hiring inexperienced people for the apprenticeship program in such a way sets a large percentage of them up to fail. My opinion. Ab.
4/11 Ab, This is what i tried to send that night It came in blank. I know you usually post these on Firejobs, but could you put this on They said ? -thanks.

The Mad River R.D. of the Six Rivers N.F in California has an IMMEDIATE NEED for 89-day DETAILERS to come here and run modules until we can hire permanent folks. We have a GS-8 Engine Captain detail, a GS-8 Handcrew captain detail, and a GS-7 Fire Engine Operator detail. You must be fully qualified as ENGB (CRWB for the handcrew detail), and have experience with ICS Type 3 engines (Model 62 would be helpful), for the ENGB detail. We have barracks to stay in during the details, sorry, no hotels in the area. Detailers have to be current Federal employees, with time in grade at the next lower level to be considered. Contact M. Jameson, ADFMO at (707) 574-6233 or Dick Kersh , FMO, at the same number.

4/11 I am currently planning on working for a private contract company this season, this will be my first year doing any kind of wildland fire work. I am very naive about....well everything. Is there anything that I need to know about working on a private crew as opposed to a federal crew are they viewed any differently??? Along with that, is there any advice that all you seasoned vets want to give a rookie? I have been a structural firefighter for a while so I have seen fire but I know this will be a whole different experience.


JT, there are a great number of excellent wildland fire contract companies. Have you checked into the reputation of the company you hope to work for? One place to start is to see if the company is a member of an organization like the NWSA. (They have a permanent link on our classifieds page.) Check out their website. Good group, promoting professionalism. Ab.
4/11 Could we get someone from Alberta to jump in here and give us some of the
details on the fatality that occurred in 1995 with an aerial extraction?

This one was where two rappellers were being lifted out by long lines from a
possible burn-over. The second rappeller had significant injuries, but the third
who was not long lined was able to escape the fire front. Did I remember this

Canadians; with your Rap Attack program, what is your policy on Aerial
Extractions? Thanks

Fuels Guy
4/11 Anybody got any decent wildland firefighter jokes?

4/11 Need a little feed back from any of the CDF gang.

I went through the process of applying for a seasonal F/F I position; the first application being the standard form and then a second application which was to attend the academy. Well around the beginning of this month I received a letter stating that I had not been selected to attend their academy which happens to start tomorrow down here in my neck of the woods. O.K. no problem, I’ll just keep working with DoD Fire and go merrily on my way. I come home from work this a.m. and there sits another letter from CDF. So now I’m thinking that these guys are just having a little fun by reminding me not to darken their doorway ever again, but to my dismay…I’ve been invited to an interview later this month!! I guess I’m still in the running? What’s’ up?

4/11 So let me get this straight....

I am hispanic and I am starting on an R-5 Hotshot crew come May 3rd, which is still going to happen because I'm hispanic. BUT if I wasn't hispanic I'd wouldn't be hired because they need more hispanics? Or am I not starting May 3rd because no new hires are starting until the USFS meets their Hispanic quota? I am little confused.

And what's this business about busing SoCal hispanics out to the boonies & North Zone- Ab, is that for real or just someone's hyperbole?

Not to be a spokesperson for my race (sorry, "ethnicity") or anything, but you're gonna be hard pressed to find a bunch of Mexicans/Guatamalans/Latinos/whateverthehellyouwannacall'em/brown people who are gonna relocate to the Modoc or the Plumas or the Boondock National Forests. Like someone said earlier, it's a cultural thing- Latinos are big on family, esp. folk with real ties to their homeland, and their family does not live in the woods. This whole wildland fire, last of the cowboys mentality is very much an American thing, and California has A LOT of Hispanics who haven't been in America all that long. Thus it should only make sense that Hispanics would be underrepresented in the R-5 employee populous. Furthermore, most Hispanics live in urban centers, and you're gonna have to drag your average city slicker (regardless of race) kicking & screaming to go muck around in the woods and eat MRE's all day for an entire fire season. Not that it doesn't happen (I am one such example), but it's fairly uncommon.

This whole thing strikes me as the work of some well-intentioned liberal politician or lawyer type who is simply uninformed about or ignorant of the reality of on the ground USFS operations. Sure, the R-5 USFS has a less diverse racial makeup than the CA population as a whole, but if you look at the racial makeup of the actual localities where the forest service is, I'd bet that the FS workforce is more racially & ethnically diverse than the respective native local population. All of which seems like it would point to the exact opposite conclusion than that of Consent Decree v2.0- the USFS is a remarkably diverse, color-blind workplace that brings together a host of people with a variety of professional, ethnic, racial, and personal backgrounds, which is a lot more than I can say for most of the other jobs I've had.

-The Nomad

Nomad, Giddyap, if you've already been hired in R5, you're hired. Wooah lil doggies, as I understand it, everyone else is not hired no matter how far along negotiations are. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Ab.
4/11 couple of things on my mind here.

The whole region five issue on hiring hispanics seems to be rubbing the wrong way. Which i have mixed opinions about. One is I believe what other people are saying about quotas, we had a small hassle with making sure that certain last names ended up on certain crews during the apprenticeship placement. But i believe that the best person with the best qualifications should get the job. Two I believe that there are other minorities that need more outreach at this time. But it's not the people's fault that are getting hired because of this lawsuit technicality and i don't believe people are taking advantage of it either. I also feel i'm not getting the wrong end of the deal with this plan.

next topic is the downhill construction discussion that was kicked around in here. Both the fireline handbook and irpg have good points. But i believe the irpg is more accepted due to the fact at least on my forest only certain people receive the handbook. It's less confusing to brief a crew if everybody is on the same page and has the same material in front of them.

The last thing is yacktak said we needed to start being treated like professional wildland firefighters. What constitutes not being treated being a professional? I hope it's not because of pay because that's not what makes you a professional. It shouldn't be how were labeled in society either. I believe professionalism is an attitude. If you work and act like a professional than you'll be treated like one.


4/11 Hi all,

This is my first e-mail to "They Said" but I'm a long time reader. Hats off to you Ab and everyone for the idea sharing.

Regarding Evergreen's 747, I think it's a great concept but with a more limited application than what's currently in use (P-3's, Canadairs, C-130's etc.). I wonder about take-off and landing-roll distances, and runway weight capabilities. If a fire is of substantial distance from an airport capable of handling a fully loaded 747 then turn around time would be longer. But it does go 500 MPH (in cruise)? Also, I wonder about wake turbulence after a drop, both for other air traffic and on the ground. And, will the pilots fly drops without a lead plane?

Just my thoughts as a flyer. The aircraft I fly only go "splat" on the windshield of a 747.
Have a safe season all.


P.S. I like my White's, my Nimrod pack, Enjoy my MRE's from 1997 and am looking to ADD seven minutes to my PT time this week.

Welcome to posting Firewall. Ab.
4/10 Hello:

This is Brian Webb in Moorpark, Calif. I found your e-mail address by
accident while doing research on the Internet.

During last year's wildfires in Ventura County, Calif., I took several high
quality 35mm film still photos. In case you or your colleagues are
interested, I will make these images available at no cost to public safety
agencies, local governments, disaster relief organizations, and academic
researchers for non-commercial use.

The first images have been posted at the following location:


I have a few more negatives that need to be scanned. I plan to post those
images within the next few months.

Brian Webb
4/10 To all the people on the negative side of the 747 issue:

I always thought fire fighters were of a tough, positive attitude, can get it done type people. Innovation in fire happens. New things need to be tried. Some of the ideas currently being thought up MAY still be too small in scale, and may not work at all. But there is merit in trying them. Seems to me most of the posts regarding 747s and blimps with 100,000 gallons of water were from people that just did not want their world to change.

Well get over it.

Where would we be if we did not try some things that at the time seemed crazy at the time and now are the norm. I am just amazed at how many posts have made this site in negative responsive to this concept. I for one have always thought we need something 5-10 times bigger than a C-130, to drastically change the fire environment. So what if nothing like that exists now. At one point neither did most of today's technology


I don't know anyone here who has said they're outright negative on the 747. Do you have us mixed up with another message board? Ab.

4/10 Ab,

60 acre fire on the Shasta-T in Harrison Gulch, last night they ordered 20 engines + more, I don't have much more than that, fire season starts in Nor Cal!!!


MJ, I just heard that it's 250 acres, 50% contained, surface fuels are burning under timber canopy, fire is very active in heavy brush. Of course high growth potential, high difficulty of terrain. 4 SR State crews, 5 ST State crews, 11 engines, 1 T1 & 1 Type 3 helicopters, 1 AT, 1 dozer, 1 water tender. They expect to contain it by 6PM tomorrow. Someone just called. Ab.

4/10 NRSV

The so-called 747 super tanker is alive and kicking. The prototype is currently sitting over at Evergreen in Marana Arizona, (Pinal Air Park, also where NARTC is located) and going through the testing phase. This has been confirmed by my father, who flies out of Ryan Field (Tucson) and flies one of the tow planes out of the El Tiro Glider Port (just south of the Pinal Air Park). Being a retired CDF'r himself and in aviation for the last 30 years, he was amazed by what he saw. He has witnessed several drops from the 747 and has stated that the drops look more like a "spray" (like the C-130 MAFFS) than a typical drop that we all know.

Also, seems that "they" are looking for several sites for their evaluation process. My good friend who works as an FMO for a large local Indian Reservation has been asked to locate some suitable locations on his 'rez' for these evaluations. He has yet to say yeh or neh to the idea.

I can't even imagine something of this size being cost effective or very agile through the canyons. Anyone have any thoughts on this one??

AZ Trailblazer
4/10 An-R5er, I can understand why you wouldn't find my name comments funny. Let me give you some context. Let me also say thank you very much for all the good and important work you do recruiting hispanics, sharing your passion for service, your optimism, and your persistence. And I am very thankful you didn't go to work for CDF! If you had, our hispanic numbers would have suffered!

OK, An R-5er, let me turn this around.
My family's immigrant background is probably similar to yours. I am half Norwegian. My grandparents came from farms, were hard workers, lived close to the land and were good at coping. My Norwegian grandmother and grandfather struggled with nothing but "passage" money to come to this country at age 17, they met and married, struggled to feed themselves, to pay the bills, to bring the younger brothers over as they could, to take care of their new family including my mom. My grandmother cleaned other people's homes, my grandfather was a carpenter, my "popeye" granduncle was a longshoreman, another was in the US military got PTSD and died after war, another became a skyscraper builder. They had great energy and a "can do" attitude. Some of their stories about language and communication problems are a hoot. "Ya sure, ya." I know from what you've said in chat that your family had that same "can do" attitude and the same willingness to sacrifice so the family could get ahead. Many immigrants new to this country demonstrate great energy and drive. That's one strength of this country.

So how would I feel if some group that supposedly represented Norwegians said that Norwegians were under-represented in the Forest Service and set up quotas or "targets" based on some census number. I would be outraged! How dare they presume to diminish my family's energy, drive and creativity? What makes them think we need to be taken care of? How patronizing. It's my experience that QUOTAS dehumanize people. There's research that shows enforcing quotas or "targets" just doesn't work. But beyond that, how do those pushing for the quota really know that the quota is not being met? Hispanic ethnicity is under-reported.

Here's why. Race/ethnicity/culture is a subjective thing in the way it's measured and reported and especially with hispanics. Being hispanic means different things to different people. Some are white and hispanic. Some are black and hispanic. Some who are culturally hispanic report that they are hispanic, while some do not for a variety of reasons including wanting to fit in, to not be categorized, none-o-yer-business, being confused over the options, thinking it will help them, thinking it will hinder them, you name it.

Part of my extended family is hispanic in that they came from Mexico and had hispanic names at one time and are more "tan" than me. I asked some of them what they considered to be their race/ethnicity. Half said caucasian or white. Half said hispanic. ALL of them said they never checked any box about race/ethnicity/culture on any job application. So here's one group of hispanics that -- if they were applying for Forest Service jobs -- they wouldn't even be counted based on their self-reported ethnicity. Some don't look particularly hispanic. More than half don't even have hispanic names. So Juan probably would have been counted based on his name, but not Tina or Joe or some of the others with Americanized names. However, I asked their mom, who married into the culture. She said she put hispanic on her last job application some years ago because she considers it a cultural thing and she wanted to be counted. She said the only thing that would have been better would be to have an option under race that said "human".

The bottom line is this: The process of counting up minority members, so as to compare the total with some target or quota, is inherently flawed. Minorities and especially hispanics will be UNDER-REPORTED among the actual hispanics being hired either because they don't say or because they choose to report something else like another alternative ethnicity (like caucasian or black) and because they don't have a hispanic name.

Yactac, if I'm not getting too personal... do you report your ethnicity? If so, what box do you check? The one that says "All of the above?" You said your name doesn't give you away.

An-R5er that's the context and my Julio story is a real one. I am amused. Given all the other flaws/problems with self reporting hispanic race/ethnicity/culture, my alternative option of allowing people to choose culture and ethnic name sounds as reasonable as anything else... After all this is America where failure of creativity is not an option!


4/10 Northzone5,

I agree with most of your statement, but please don't generalize to one specific race. Everyone loses kids
the first couple of weeks of training or after their first fire because they fail to "communicate effectively
and intelligently perform the job" and they are not all women, hispanic, or black.

There is one thing I hope everyone will think about from this whole thing. There is no winner in this whole
settlement, like Terrie has stated, everyone who moves up through the ranks will now be judged on how
they got there. It's too bad.

Terrie, there will only be a wedge driven if people decide to put one there.


Well said. I think Northzone5 had most of the emphasis on JOB, not on effective communication and intelligent performance. Sometimes I miss formatting if it doesn't just copy over. Ab.
4/10 Greetings All!

Just dropping a note asking the group if there are any of you that use set training evolutions, such as structure protection, hose lay deployment, hand line construction, ect. ect. ect. We are going to have our annual seasonal academy and I was just wondering what other departments do so I can check up on my training so I can keep providing a quality product. Thanks everyone

Stay Safe Everyone! (coming from a newly anointed SOF3 (t)
4/10 Tahoe Terry you are absolutely correct in stating that fire season is almost here and here we go with
another wrench in the hiring process. It should throw up a HUGE red flag for all.

You and others need to realize that the USFS is and always will be a social engineering agency tasked
with protecting the National Forests. We continue to delude ourselves in thinking that we can have a
professional Wildland Firefighting Organization while still employed by the Forest Service.

One just needs to look at the objectives and missions of the Forest Service "Caring for the Land and
Serving the People" and FS Fire "Firefighter and Public Safety" to realize that the two organizations
are just that, TWO SEPARATE ORGANIZATIONS with separate missions. This is where we have
evolved to today!

It is time for the Fire arm of the Forest Service to be violently removed from the Forest Service and
placed under an organization where it is recognized and treated as the Professional Wildland
Firefighting Organization that it is and needs to be!

In the meantime. continue to train, drill and fight fire.........

Stay safe
4/10 I am a firm believer of hiring people on their qualifications or their desire to come and
work for this agency, I have never been a big supporter of "QUOTAS".

THANK YOU, An-R5er, as long as those hires can communicate effectively and intelligently
performing the JOB they were hired to do.


Ab please add:

I don't need sympathy. I am not a person who needs a job and I did not support the consent decree. None of this makes any nevermind for my career. I made my own way. In general, litigation creates more problems than it solves. A lot of my male friends got screwed as a result of the consent decree and are still pissed. I'm pissed for them.

What I do think is crazy weird is that there is now a new "decree" with the equivalent of "quotas". Whatcha bet there will probably be the same long-term negativity surrounding it. Like women before them, Hispanics for years to come will probably have to convince others that they earned their hire and their promotions, rather than those actions being driven by quotas. I feel for my Hispanic friends who have made it on their own merits so far. Why drive the wedge?

But worst yet is the short term... we are already behind on hiring. As I understand it, once really new people (500 of them?!) are hired in socal beginning of May, they will be farmed out to where-ever in the state, and then they have 30 days before they can be pack tested and then... only then can we get to the basics. Getting late folks... Gonna be quite some time before we have those bodies on the engines, etc. Think fire season will wait?

Tahoe Terrie

4/9 Tahoe Terrie et al..........

Well, well, well ! !!!!!!! The lunacy has come full circle! When I started with the USFS in 1974 after a 4 year stint in the military, local hire was the rule and folks were hired based on recommendations of hard working individuals on the crew. They were kept on based on how hard they worked. Ethnicity and gender did not matter. Our crews here in So Cal were a mixed bag of minorities and whites. While females were the exception and not the rule, they were represented.

A few short years later we had the female consent decree come into play and myself and quite a few of my peers could not buy a promotion no matter how hard we tried. You see, I am a mixed race male (Mexican, Black and White) with a European surname.

Do I have any sympathy for you?????? NOT!!!!!!!!!

4/9 If it was that easy to get a fire job based on your ethnicity then I should have been picked on our local municipal fire department 12 years ago or I should be a Battalion by now.

The Angles, Berdo, and the Cleveland National Forest have a strong and aggressive recruitment program with the inner cities. One thing the region does not take into account is the make up of the local people in the area and the cost of living.

The four Southern California Forests have a much easier time getting a wide variety of diversity than the Northern Forests. Most of the population is mixed race in these areas. I have been doing recruiting for a while now and have made some good contacts from the Angles and I have yet to hear about someone being hired "right on the spot" because of the color of their skin.

I am a firm believer of hiring people on their qualifications or their desire to come and work for this agency, I have never been a big supporter of "QUOTAS". I have worked just as hard as the next guy trying to become the best Firefighter I can. I come from a Firefighter family and take great pride in that. Everything I have achieved has been done by hard work and sacrifice of my family.

Let me give you a break down of my Forest.

5 Division Chiefs - 4 Caucasian 1 African American
7 Battalion Chiefs - 6 Caucasian 1 Hispanic
35 Captains (including Helitack and Hotshots) - 28 Caucasian, 3 women, 3 Hispanic, 1 African American
5 Superintendents - 4 Caucasian 1 African American

Now with this break down, tell me if this is a diverse group and do you really want to change your name to Julio, Jose, Juan or Mercedes (which I don't find very funny)?

4/9 Another group has a beef with the FS. Result: hiring chaos.

While their beef may or may not have merit, it is irresponsible to delay hiring right before fire season. The merit I hesitate to speak to, but will I guess.

SoCal has lots of Hispanics in the lower ranks, and less at the upper levels. Many I have known have gone on to the 'red trucks'. Why? Not sure it is anything cultural, my guess it is because they get better pay and working conditions.

So we fix this how?

... food for thought.

4/9 <snicker> I can't resist...

backburnfs, I also firmly believe that the best action is to anchor at the
toe and work uphill, flanking and going direct.

and you slip in
He is risen!
<little madonna smile>
Happy Easter!

Love you Dude!
<rolling on the floor laughing>


PS, Tahoe Terrie, maybe we need to get some fire women and other minorities together and bring a suit against the Hispanic suit and the lawyers for the quota.

OR, Here's another idea...
All you folks wanting to get hired out there, help out R5. Embrace the Hispanic culture if you're inclined. Then change your name to Julio. No lie, I have a capable and smart friend who has gotten hired for all kinds of jobs maybe because his name is Julio, although he's as northern European looking as me. (His parents went to TX for a year, embraced the culture, loved the Simon and Garfunkel song with the line "Me and Julio down at the school yard", named their newborn son Julio and doors opened for him as an adult. Even more important, I chuckle when I think of the organizations that had to meet a diversity quota that got to count him because of his name.) Any of you can change your name legally. Let's not everyone pick Julio, of course! Be creative, Jose, Juan. I like Mercedes. DO NOT mark the box on the application that asks your race or culture. DO NOT LIE. Because of your name, if you are hired, you too may be able to help R5 meet the required new QUOTAs!

4/9 Back to the R5 hiring freeze...

So what do you call it when you have an experienced diverse group of employees lined up
for hire, they're women, blacks, other minorities with college degrees and a few years of fire
experience and now you're told they will not be hired??? You MUST NOT HIRE a qualified,
experienced and diverse group WHY?? WHY?? Because not enough Hispanics have been hired??

Quotas, we're dealing with QUOTAS here! Quotas by any other name are still QUOTAS!!!

Instead HISPANICS ONLY will be hired at job fairs in socal and offered jobs right on the spot.
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST OTHER MINORITIES, that's what I think this is and a

Isn't anyone else think this is bah-zaar --as in "crazy". Have we lost our minds with the litigation,
settlements and so-called FIXES?

Tahoe Terrie

4/9 Been busy for a couple of days so I need to catch up on a couple of

Rouge Rivers, thanks for the profound advice. I will try really hard not
to race into the bottom of a wind driven fire that is burning downhill.

Nor Cal Tom, I liked your comment that "Some San Bernardino NF fires show
the limitations in rule driven thinking. Think Rx fires." Fires everywhere show those
limitations but if we don't follow the rules that were developed from others fatal
mistakes we are destined to repeat them at our own peril.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, I think we all know that. In
a plume dominated event you are probably not going uphill, downhill or
sideways except to get the heck out of Dodge. Most fires we fight are
influenced by topography and the usual suspects. The rules are written for
the "usual" fire behavior and tactics. Though we have to apply them to all
situations regardless. The unusual events are where (we hope) common sense
and experience comes in.

There is no way to cover all the different scenarios of fires even in the
10 and 18, and yet we are held accountable to those rules when OSHA
investigates the tragedies that occur. Cramer is the latest example that
we are all getting very familiar with.

I still say that 99% of the time it is going to be safest to anchor at the
toe and work uphill flanking and going direct.

Here are some quotes out of the FS manual about who is responsible for what.

5135.04c - Work Supervisors. As directed in the Health and Safety Code
Handbook (FSH 6709.11), and FSM 5720 (for requirements related to aviation
safety), work supervisors are responsible for the safety of employees
engaged in wildland fire management activities.

5135.04d - All employees. All employees must accept personal
responsibility for protecting themselves and other workers from injury or
accidents through safe work practices and compliance with the requirements
for safe operations of equipment.

Hope everyone has a Great Easter, He is Risen!!

4/9 TO : vince_mazzier@nifc
FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
DATE : 04/09/2004
SUBJECT : SAFETY WARNING: New Fire Shelter Recall

In mid-March, a SAFENET was submitted describing rips occurring in two new generation fire shelters during deployment training. According to the SAFENET, the tears were in the floor material near the shake handles used to quickly deploy the shelters.

Equipment Specialists at the Missoula Technology and Development Center immediately researched the problem and confirmed that some shelters are tearing near the shake handles during deployment. Tearing occurs when shaking creates stress on the material near the handles. All tears are on the floor material. NO TEARS have been found in the shell material. Forest Service equipment specialists believe the problem is related to the stitch pattern used to attach the shake handles to the seam that joins the shelter floor and shelter shell. The stitch pattern may cause the cloth to tear more easily. During the development of the new generation shelter, shake tests did not reveal a weakness in the original design.

MTDC equipment specialists, in consultation with engineers at the University of Alberta, believe the added risk associated with the potential tearing of the shelter is very small because of the location of the tears on the underside of the shelter. However, interagency fire management leadership and specialists at MTDC are taking immediate action to fix the problem in order to ensure firefighters are provided with a quality product.

Upon notification of the SAFENET and verification of the problem in mid-March, MTDC instructed GSA to have the shelter manufacturers halt production until a remedy to the tearing could be found, and instructed GSA to put a hold on distribution of the shelters currently in stock. MTDC personnel worked with a contractor to develop a solution to the weakness in newly manufactured shelters by reinforcing the floor material adjacent to the shake handles. They also developed a retrofit solution to 'fix' the existing new generation shelters.

GSA and contractors are currently producing the new generation fire shelter design with the reinforced floor section. Fire management agencies will immediately recall existing new generation fire shelters for retrofit. Retrofitting should proceed quickly, at the rate of approximately 3,000-5,000 per week. Fire caches will not issue the new generation shelter until it has been retrofitted or replaced with units made using the new reinforced design.

The eleven National Fire Caches will act as collection points for shelters requiring retrofit. Instructions for submitting shelters for the recall are being finalized and will be issued next week in a National Cache Memo. Firefighters are advised to wait to return any new style shelters for retrofit until the cache managers are prepared to receive them.

Firefighters should carry the old-style shelter on the fireline until either a new reinforced shelter or a retrofitted shelter is made available. Further, firefighters carrying the older style shelters should review the training and deployment requirements.
4/9 Wanted to say hi to mark h. this is doc brown e mail me some time.

4/9 Thanks AB for the picture Reference on Fire 8 photos. I never saw the fire from that angle,
never realized it looked that bad from town! I was in the middle of that plume for 5 days. I
live on the top of that hill. Now I know why the people in town said we were lucky to save
anything up there. I sure coughed alot of junk out of my lungs for a while afterwards.

4/9 Ab, coupla comments on helo extraction. I think anyone making procedures for teams to follow and for helo pilots to follow needs to consider the following from the firefighters point of view and from the helicopter pilots point of view. Thanks for the link CDF Jake.


  • People are injured every season fighting fire. Often in inaccessible terrain. I can attest to the fact that there is great pressure to get them out, especially if they are with their crew and screaming.
  • The most critical time to minimize critical injury is in the hour following the accident. Any trauma doc can tell you.
  • If a way exists to get injured firefighters out, it will be demanded by crewmates. There will be pressure for it to be used.
  • There will be pressure for extraction capability this season since it was used last season.
  • We start with extraction for severe injury. What about extracting entire crews at risk for burnover?
  • To make extraction worthwhile, it should be doable without specialized equipment since most remote firefighting does not have baskets available.


  • Helicopter operations are hazardous, but I think there is a fairly low accident rate when you consider the risks.
  • Longline operations are hazardous.
  • If things go south, the possibility of death/injuries exist for the pilot, for those on the ground and for the person being extracted. You can't glide to a landing.
  • What happens this season if/when someone tells a pilot to do this again?
  • For the person on up the chain of command, what are the risk/benefit criteria for authorizing extraction?
  • There are a limited number of rappel helicopters in the US for use on IA. Will there be pressure to make these available for other than IA use? Say on large fires? For what purposes?

Some thoughts. Jake, do you know how CDF has dealt with these issues?

NorCal Tom

4/9 Ab,

Visit your web site often and sure enjoy the pictures. I live near Jefco and watch tankers being fueled, loaded, depart and return whenever they are operating out of Jefco. I have a couple of pictures that are not on your web site - one from the Durango fires two years ago and another from a propane explosion in Billings, MT about 3 or 4 years ago.

I was wondering if you are interested in seeing / having them.

Tim M.

Thanks Tim and welcome. I put the Durango Fire pic on the Fire 22 photo page. Did that house survive, do you know? The photo of the propane tank torching reminds us to be careful of hazards on those interface fires. Ab.

4/9 FSquirrel:

One of the factors that might have come into play at Big Bear is the live fuel moistures in winter. On a couple burns here in Central Oregon 2 weeks ago we had green Caenothus burning reasonably hot. Manzanita, bitterbrush and mistletoe pine clumps are being spot lit carefully. We've had above average moisture and snow pack this winter.

Burning next to snow can be a somewhat false sense of security. In many mid and lower elevation places, the snow comes off quickly and you can be off to the races. Most of our escapes are not like Lowden and Sierra Grande, they happen when the burn is in patrol status.

Ab; a couple of photos included. These are from two different but similar burns, both had humidity's in the low 30's when photos taken.

Fuels Guy

I added them to the Fire 22 photo page. Ab.
4/9 Sorry I got some upset with my post.

I had been fighting Wild Fires for around 3 years when the Virginia Lake Complex Fires (Washington) happened. I am a Volunteer Fire Fighter but not structure, just First Response Wildland Fire Fighter with a Red Card FFT2 and we pull out when the other Agencies arrive unless we are needed still. Most of us in this Fire never had been in one this large & wild of before. All the Fire Fighters lived in the area of the fire and were protecting their own homes. Most of us did not sleep or stop for about 2-3 days and never again do I want to repeat that! It was very dangerous for everyone but we could not stop and lose it all. We hit the fires fast and got the small ones out in a hour or so and some of the bigger ones we put out in only a day. One of the problems was getting the homeowners out. They were trying to stick it out, not realizing what was going to happen in a short time.

This group of fires was started by 5 strikes of lightning in tall dry grass and brush and we got 4 of them out that first night. I saw the first strike and called it in. That one was behind my house and I was staying up watching for strikes. The first hit happened about 1:30AM. We worked all night putting those 4 out. The 5th strike was just small in the woods, still burning. The picture I took was about 8 hours after the lightning struck. By the time it was starting to blow up, we had about 9 hours into the fires, had been awake and working for almost 24 hrs with no body to replace us yet and it was working its way towards our homes. That is when other crews started to show up, but they had to go to other fires that had also started with the lightning that night. We were flusterd because it was impossible to stop the fire with what we had to work with.

We did our best to save the homes where we could the next day. After 24 hours it reached my house and a few other homes and still we had to keep going. The next day it was still burning good in the homes. It was close to 36 hours that we'd been fighting it with no sleep or breaks yet. After about 72 hours go by with no sleep, you got to the point you don't care anymore and are willing to let it burn. This fire was a good learning experience for some of us and changed the way we fight fires now. Of course, if it happens again like it did then I really think we will stick it out till we can't fight anymore.

My experience is that when it comes to your own homes it is different, when you are about to lose everything you have including all your animals. I had my Family, Cattle, Dogs and other Livestock to deal with at the same time while fighting this fire.

My terminology in names of different Fire Fighting Groups is not that of a Professional Fire Fighter who does it for a living. I am slowly learning who is who and what their names are after 6 years. I believe the people who fight fires need to stick together as a group. A lot of things happened in this fire that brought people together and pushed some apart. After the fire there was a lot of finger pointing, Sunday Night Quarter Back talk ect ect. Some people who lost their homes were very unhappy at the Fire Fighters and blamed us for not doing enough. Yes a few of us had to deploy our shelters after being over run and it was in a report made about the fire. I and a few others were not paid for our time because they said we were on the fire too many hours in a row so they only paid regular hours.

I spend a lot of time during the summers getting my place ready for Fire Season and it paid off. A 30 minute fire ball went over my home but did not burn it down even though I lost 35 of my 40 acres in it. But if I had not gone back in right after it happened, I would have had nothing. If I had played by the rules, I would have just had to watch it burn. I did leave when it got to the house because nothing I could do would have helped, so I sat in a truck with my family and dogs and watched from a distance at night till I could. All I could do was move the Cattle from one burning area into one that had burned already. I will never forget this fire for the rest of my life but I will still fight them.


Mark, you've come to the right place to learn the names of all the organizations that work together to protect life and property and to learn about the safety rules for wildland firefighting and why they exist -- if you are willing to learn more about fighting fire safely. I can tell from what you've written that the Virginia Lake Complex of fires affected you profoundly. I hope the next time you and your crew get some sleep. People who are sleep deprived make poor decisions that not only affect their survival chances, but can affect the survival of others. Our main responsibility whether professional or volunteer is to come home safe every time. "Stuff" can be replaced even if it is a hardship to do so.

I put your second pic of the Virginia Lake Complex on the Fire 22 photo page and the image of your tender on the Equipment 7 photo page. There are a few more pics of the plume and low level fire on the Virginia Lake Cplx on the Fire 8 photo page. Ab.

4/8 Subject for a Safety Briefing from Sylamore Ranger District, Ozark-St. Francis NF

From a March 15 note:
On Friday Ronnie A called me to report an explosion inside a
prescribed fire they had been working on the previous day. Bystanders said
it sounded about like stick of dynamite, and it rattled vehicle windows
over 200 yards away. With the assistance of the fire crew we located two
disposable propane bottles which had been discarded from a nearby camp
site. Next to the two propane bottles there was a crater about two foot in
diameter and about four inches deep. We located the remains of the
canister by following a trail of cut and damaged bushes from the crater.
After going through the brush the canister traveled approximately 93 feet.
The canister was ripped open to a nearly flat piece of metal with sharp
jagged edges. This could have been very dangerous if someone had been
watching a fire line near where one of these exploded. Here is one
picture of the scene.


Exploded LPG can.

4/8 Ab,

CDF addressed the issue of aerial extraction several years ago. They had the same concerns about FF's
becoming trapped and adopted the current short haul rescue policy. I attached the PDF found on the CDF
Internet website. It is under the Fire/Rescue Aviation section. Not sure if you can post it on your message
board. All the best.

CDF Jake

I didn't post it but here's the link: Short Haul Rescue It's a pdf file, but not too large. Ab.
4/8 Mark,

Like AB said , thanks for your explanation and clarifying what YOU meant. Like AB said also, better show a little respect when taking about US firefighters. It gets a little to personal when you start naming names (BIA, BLM, USFS, or states) and implying blame for something gone wrong. I think you hit the nail on the head though when you said that you fight fire differently when its your own home threatened. Just remember though, the number one priority it to provide for "firefighter safety," if I'd seen the fire blowing up and getting big I think I would have pulled back too.

4/8 This is in regards to the hotshot injury on the Cramer Fire and being evac-ed out in a net. The person injured was a hotshot crew member from Ruby Mountain Hotshots out of Elko NV. He was injured by a very large rolling rock that popped out when a tree was felled. The falling tree loosened the rock, it started to roll and the hotshot couldn't get out of the way, so he was hit by the boulder and fell all the way down the side slope. I believe the terrain they were in had very loose soil and that may be the reason why the boulder came out too. The crew member ended up in what seemed to be bad shape with injuries to his arm and leg, no feeling in some areas of the leg and lots of bruising. (Ab Note: His injuries turned out to be not so bad.)

But yeah, I thought I would answer your question about the evac on the Cramer Fire in Idaho. It's a pretty interesting story to hear from the folks who witnessed it and lived through it. The shot is one of he few to evac in a sling load.

Stay safe everyone....
The Unknown

4/8 re: Mark's post on 4/8,

Hello Mark and welcome to TheySaid. It is always nice to see new ideas and perspectives here. I also liked your photo of the Virginia Lake Complex taking off. If you continue to read and contribute to They Said It, you'll find that it is best to chose your words carefully and review your message before pushing the Send Mail button. If you ever get one of your own buttons pushed and write reply when you are angry, it might even be better to wait until the next morning to review and send the message. There are a lot of people from a wide variety of agencies and backgrounds here and they are not shy about pointing out mistakes or questioning what you say. I've even seen the editors here allow a bit of back-flame when they feel it's earned.

That being said, I question your statement of your company working harder to save homes in your own area than you would if you were fighting a fire elsewhere. If anyone ever accused me to my face about how I fight fire differently away from my home area than I do at home, we'd be hitt'in, kick'in, and rolling around in the dirt. I've been an engine captain and strike team leader on quite a few rippers that I was responsible for making the decision of letting specific homes or areas burn. I still feel guilty about them even though there was nothing I could do with the resources I had.

And. . . there ain't no such thing as the US Forestry! (One of my personal buttons seem to have been pushed!)

4/8 Hey Gang,

So analogies and examples aside here's the real deal. I don't pretend to have any of the answers for the current state of Federal wildland fire fighting. I do know that I, and many others, do our best with our little corners of influence, and we should continue to do so. Continue to promote accountability among crew members, and take responsibility when you fail. To those waiting for the next big fix from the Cramer Fire, I understand there is anger, frustration, and a lack of understanding, and we could ask for decades "What were they thinking?" I would like to know myself one day. But there is going to come a time to put the rhetoric aside and step up. Accountability and responsiblity carry a lot more weight for all of us these days. But they are a passion for some of us. You cannot ignore problems, they don'y go away. Maybe it's time we finally say "don't let the door hit you..." to those who aren't up to the job. Do the sim, do quality training assignments, don't push people along, build quality into your program, and listen, listen, listen. The Cramer Fire didn't just happen, it was built from the top down.

To Jodi, Steve, Diz, and Bill,
I knew a great kid who had a great friend, and I wish everyday they were both here.

4/8 One of Region 5's Leadplane/smokejumper pilots from Redding CA is
presently in Baghdad flying Cobra Helicopters in war missions with the
Marines. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Sure would be
nice if the firefighting community all sent him a letter of support. He's
one of us!


Ab has been instructed by somebody military named "Hellfire" (aka firefighter EMT_MB) that we shouldn't have a military address posted on the internet -- that we should only give it out to "family". Email us if you want to send a letter or card to "our pilot" and we'll pass on the address to our "family members". I hope we get some requests. Ab.
4/8 Ab did some checking around.
Word is that the Helicopter Management Program is currently working on procedural direction for the situation in which aerial extraction of a severely injured firefighter might be needed. Ab.
4/8 Old Fire Guy. I think some of the California IHCs were involved in that
cargo net rescue. The Superintendent from the Arrowhead IHC might be able
to get you in touch with someone who has the full story. I heard the story
but I have CRS and don't recall the details enough to quote them.

4/8 Todd and Old Fire Guy, it was last season in Idaho. Does seem like some time back, though.
They thought theguy was seriously injured. The only way to get him out was cargo net and
longline. But itturned out to not be life and death.

4/8 I think the Old Fire Guy may be referring to a DIVS. on <snip> Team.
His name is <snip> and he is a <snip> Fire Dept. all risk Tech Rescue F.F.
(It is nice to know us "all risk" guys have something to offer.)
This is may first E-mail to "they said". I'm not sure if I should be posting his name or E-mail.
I'll contact him and hook him up with "they said".


Hi CK, welcome. Sorry for the snippity snip snip. I agree that you should contact him and see if he'd like to tell the story if we put Old Fire Guy in touch. We do appreciate hearing that someone knows something. For all we knew (if we didn't know him so well, haw, haw) Old Fire Guy coulda been trolling. Ab.
4/8 Old Fire Guy,

Didn't that happen a couple years ago?


4/8 So......
Who has any details to share about the helicopter medivac of the injured
firefighter using a cargo net on a longline?

Old Fire Guy
4/8 RR;

I noticed two important things about the checklists you posted: what about us smaller folks? Both checklists required either Strike Team leader or ICT4 quals…what about small vollie agencies who consider ourselves incredibly lucky if we can put an ICT5 at the fire? Or if we have enough personnel (aka more than two) that we can pull somebody off the line to be a designated look out? There are still situations in which it makes more sense to dig line downhill (see my prior post), but we aren’t in position to follow “the letter of the law”.


As a vollie myself, I can understand how you felt watching the BIA crews back off, but something I’ve noticed as a direct disconnect between vollie and agency firefighters: as vollies, we aren’t always as aware as the agency folks that a wildland fire isn’t an emergency. We tend to get amped up, and this breeds frustration with the guys who are taking a more relaxed approach. Conversely, they see us as reckless, over excitable, and basically as reliable as a basketful of puppies. Solution: they aren’t always being lazy, and we aren’t always making too big a deal out of things. There’s a place for SAFE haste, and there’s a place for standing back and watching a bit. I’m not defending anyone or attacking anyone, but a little empathy between groups goes a long way. Would a more aggressive approach have saved the houses you’re talking about? Maybe. But maybe a more aggressive approach would have gotten somebody hurt. Something to think about: when it ain’t containable, it ain’t containable.

Nerd on the Fireline

4/8 Downhill rules are shortsighted in that they only consider
a topography fire. Wind driven, fuels and plume dominated
fires all have head fire that travels up, down and sideways
to the topography. Following the downhill rules in all
fire type situations is not safe.

Some San Bernardino NF fires show the limitations in rule
driven thinking. Think Rx fires.

NorCal Tom
4/8 A worthy tribute by Jim Barnes commemorating Chief Ira Townsend.

Ira was an advocate of CDF’s air tankers program (one of the “Gang of Five” or the “Five Old Men”) and also one who helped found the Associated Airtanker Pilots. Ira passed away last night. He will be missed.


CDF fixed wing

4/8 Abercrombie,

About the DOI medical system:
I had been cleared to arduous duty for the 2003 fire season and was cleared in 2004 under
the new medical system, (www.chsmedical.com/index.php) but I received a letter that a
cognitive deficits or defects, evaluation had to done, after 500 bucks out of my own pocket.

4/8 AB;

No disrespect to the BIA was meant. I was saying they up and left when it
blew up. This was our first Large Fire in this area in 19 years. They had to
pull back because there was nothing that could be done at that time. We as
Volunteer Fire Fighters didn't. This was our back yard and homes we were defending
and could not leave. You fight fires differently when it is your own home your
trying to keep from burning. By the next day or so they had the US Forestry
in there with around 15,000 fire Fighters and equipment fighting it. It hit
my home at 11:30 PM that night and we still did not have any more Fire
Fighters helping in that area due to several other large fires that started
at the same time in other places. I guess that is why they left to go to
those fires. There were about 12 of us and 4 Brush Trucks working to save the
20 or so homes in the area. We evacuated the home owners; some were still in
their homes when the fire was only a hundred yards from there house. It got
pretty hectic because it was moving so fast. After the rest of the Fire
Crews got there, the homes were pretty much gone already. If it wasn't for
all the help that did come later we never would have gotten it out. I have
great respect for the Fire Fighters who helped end this Fire! This Fire was
one of the reasons I built a Type III Tender set up like a Engine because it
can take some time to get help in and being able to protect your home can be
just you sometimes.


Thanks for the explanation. I'll get the additional photo posted today. Ab.
4/8 Ab,

I believe the FBAN on Picnic Rock Fire was Rod Maraga (not sure on the spelling) with
Blume`s type 2 team. He is out of the Boulder CO area I believe. Picnic Rock is getting a
lot of PR, the earliest major fire in CO history. The PR, IMHO is for $$$$.

I was there...
Sign me Rained Out in CO
4/8 Does anyone know if the FSA academy is under way, and when the next group will
be tested?? I have a co-dependant relationship with my mailbox now. Any information
would be wonderful. This has been my dream, and I thank you for the interchange; I
have learned so many things that just stays between the ears!

4/8 Subject:
downhill line construction

I wanted to get my two cents in about the downhill construction. I found an older alliteration of the downhill line construction checklist that changed from the division to strike-team leader at the critical point of the line construction. I remember very vividly on the Palm fire 1994, we were at a critical point of line construction and burning out when the Division came out to see our operation in the morning when burning out started and 5 helicopters were in-bound and division wanted to stop. We didn't, and we completed are assignment. What I am trying to say is we need to get back to the roots of downhill line construction checklist. The list I attached included that The Incident Commander and Operations Chief are personally aware of the circumstances. These lists and checklists were originally developed to save lives after lives were lost.


Here's what came in the attachment and followup message:

Abercrombie, Here is one of the many Downhill line checklists that are there. After they changed the division responsibility to STL, I worked with the hotshot groups that tried to change the 10 standards to the original form and we also worked on the downhill checklist.


Building fire line downhill is hazardous practice, especially when burning in flashy fuels and in steep topography. Fire can cross the slope below the crew and move uphill to entrap them. A fire line must not be built downhill in steep topography or fast burning fuels unless there is no suitable alternative. Then it must only be done when all of the following safety requirements have been met.

1. The Incident Commander and Operations Chief are personally aware of the circumstances.
2. The line has been thoroughly scouted by a competent scout and a competent individual has made the decision after scouting.
3. The capability of the crews assigned to build the line has been established and they have been thoroughly briefed, oriented and are in top physical condition.
4. A fully qualified Strike team leader (or higher) is serving as the lookout and he/she is located where he/she can observe the fire.
5. The crew has been provided with radios and there is constant radio communication between the crew at the toe, the crew working downhill, and the lookout.
6. Safety zones and escape routes have been laid out and flagged prior to the start of the operation.
7. The officer directing the operation is personally at the most critical portion of the line until the job is complete.
8. Direct attack and burning out is being used whenever possible. The crews should keep one foot in the burn to assure access to the burned out part of the fire line.
9. Frequent checks are being made on fire weather and fire behavior. Any change in wind direction should be noted immediately.
10. The toe of the line is secured.
11. A safety officer has been assigned to that portion of the line.
12. The fire line does not lie adjacent to a chimney or a chute that could burnout while crews are in the vicinity.

Downhill Checklist

Downhill fire line construction is hazardous in steep terrain, fast burning fuels or rapidly changing weather. Downhill fire line construction should not be attempted unless there is no tactical alternative. When building downhill fire line, the following is required:

  1. Crew supervisor(s) and fire line overhead will discuss assignments prior to committing crew(s). Responsible overhead individual will stay with job until completed (TFLD or ICT4 qualified or better).
  2. Decision will be made after proposed fire line has been scouted by supervisor(s) of involved crew(s).
  3. LCES will be coordinated for all personnel involved.
    • Crew supervisor(s) is in direct contact with lookout who can see the fire.
    • Communication is established between all crews.
    • Rapid access to safety zone(s) in case fire crosses below crew(s).
  4. Direct attack will be used whenever possible; if not possible, the fire line should be completed between anchor points before being fired out.
  5. Fire line will not lie in or adjacent to a chute or chimney.
  6. Starting point will be anchored for crew(s) building fire line down from the top.
  7. Bottom of the fire will be monitored; if the potential exists for the fire to spread, action will be taken to secure the fire edge.
4/8 Steve, excellent reply. Puts it all in perspective. Thanks for taking the time.

NorCal Tom
4/7 Hello; I love your site!

I thought you might like a picture of the Beginning of the Virginia Lake Complex Fire. I took this when it just started to blow up and BIA was watching it. I am a member of Okanogan WA Dist.#8 VFF and had been fighting it all night. We already had put out 4 fires earlier that night, but could not get to this one. This is behind my house and we lost 8 homes around mine during the fire. It grew to 39,000 acres real fast then combined with another fire totaling 78,000 acres before it was out. The picture you have on your site does not do this fire justice, so here is a good one. PS the BIA Fire Crews just up and left when it blew up! We (Dist# 8) stayed and got the people out of their homes.


Nice photo. I put it on the Fire 22 page. Hmmm, a word to the wise - You'd best show a little respect here, you being a newcomer and us having a lot of BLM members in our community... Ab.

4/7 There are some more pictures of the Picnic Rock Fire near Ft. Collins CO. The pics and message are making the rounds behind the FS scenes. I put the picture of the column on the wildlandfire.com index page and another one on the Fire 22 page. Looks like the season is indeed off to a ripping start. Be Safe, Ab.

Here's the message that came in with the pictures, from LA, I think. If anyone knows more about the FBAN, please let us know.

Here's a picture of the Picnic Rock Fire plume, Fort Collins, Colorado. Currently at 8900 acres and 65% contained as of today (4/7/04). Some pretty spectacular fire behavior for this area, and especially for March. Folks are more than a little nervous... The fire started right across the river from the Picnic Rock Day Use area that's along the Poudre, if you know where that is. A guy was burning small piles of trash behind his house next to the base of a hot, dry, steep south aspect, and, well, that was that. <photo of origin> In the perimeter map, that's Seaman Reservoir in the middle, Grey Rock to the center left, and Bonner Peak subdivision is NW of Seaman. Amazingly, only one house and one garage burned. What really blew people away is how this thing burned as well during the night as during the day for the first 3 days. Single-digit RH in the day, and recovery to 20-30% at night and windy.

4/7 Ab,

I just attended the Great Basin Incident Management Team Meeting in Reno yesterday. As I was sitting there with about 300 people, and listening to the speakers before me, I could feel the painful silence fill the room when they talked about the Cramer Fire, and injured firefighters. There is such a sense of loss in our community for these two young firefighters. It was heavy in the air.

I looked over the room and all the faces of those team members. I thought of how many lives have been saved that we will never know about because of good decisions and good work of members of the incident management teams. I wanted to share that thought when I made my presentation, but I was afraid I would cry -- so I didn't. This awareness, this feeling was and is so deep in me.

I need to express this to all of you -- not just the Great Basin Teams, but to each and every Wildland Firefighting Team member: We owe to many, many of you a thanks of gratitude for all the lives that have been spared because of the work you do and the decisions you have made, and because of your dedication to safety in all you do. How many firefighters have been saved? We'll never know.

To those who serve on Wildland Firefighting Teams, ~Thank You!~ for all you contribute to the safety of our wildland firefighters.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

4/7 AB....Here are a couple pics for the logo page. Happy posting

NZ Helitack Supt.

Thanks, I put them and a FS-BLM fire logo on the Logos10 page. Ab.
4/7 DG sent in a dramatic photo "hot" that I posted on the Fire 22 photo page in fairly small version.

Upon further questioning, DG said he got it from the photo collection at the Alberta Sustainable Resources Development web site that says it's a pic of the Rolling Fire 2001.

Here's the way to get to the image page it came from: http://envweb.env.gov.ab.ca/env/forests/fpd/external/photo.phpl Enter by clicking "CURRENT" and then search on the page "Top 100". Note that a larger and higher resolution version is available for download for non-commercial and educational use.

Here's the homepage url: http://envweb.env.gov.ab.ca/env/forests/fpd/index.phpl. If you have high speed internet for download, take a look at the info they have available for homeowners both in video clips and pdf format. They're doing some good educating as to defensible space back to 300 feet, and info on how not to start fires from burn barrels, etc.

CALL FOR PHOTOS: If anyone has a large and high resolution (300 dpi) dramatic wildfire/ big flames photo to submit for consideration for our home page, please do so. We could use a change of wallpaper.


4/7 Steve,
4/7 Re: my prior post regarding federal agencies supporting their ICs,

My post on 4/1 was instigated by the rumor of the USFS allowing a civil suit to be brought against USFS employees. This was the first time I've heard such a specific rumor, but the threat of such an occurrence has been looming for years. My intent was to bring attention to the alarming trend of public servants in wildland fire suppression being forced to obtain private personal liability insurance

It is my firm belief the USFS and all other federal agencies have the capabilities to hold their employees accountable and to determine and apply any punitive actions when warranted. Should an employee's conduct or actions prove negligent to the point of their being removed from service, I am open to the argument that personal liabilities may follow. However, as long as they remain a federal employee, they have the right to expect their agency's full legal and financial support.

When I first began hearing of various fire personnel obtaining private insurance I dismissed it as a "chicken little" syndrome. When Rose Davis, the F&AM Public Affairs Specialist stated in this forum recently, "it is the Department of Justice, not the FS that makes decisions on defending employees", I must conclude personal liability is now a real and immediate new hazard. It seems only logical to me that the DOJ would rely fully on the recommendations of the responsible agency. After all, what does the DOJ know about wildland fire suppression or how to interpret policies and determine culpability? I view Rose's statement as a chilling example of evasive intent and written proof of a lack of commitment by the USFS to their employees.

In hundreds of fires each year there are personal injuries, property destroyed, and lands lost. Allowing the first personal civil claim against a public safety officer will open the door to a landslide of similar claims. To think that the IC positions would be the only ones targeted is illusory. Any firefighter, at any level, who makes or fails to make a decision that results in a perceived injustice by the general public, may find themselves on trial. They could be sitting in a courtroom with an attorney funded at their expense as they defend their decisions in front of a jury composed of those who know nothing about wildland fires or firefighting. Along with having to defend your actions in front of an unqualified judge and/or jury (see next paragraph), where will you find an attorney well versed in the same issues to capably provide for your defense?

To explain my use of the term "unqualified jury", I refer to the practice of the military using the Courts Martial system to prosecute and punish their officers and enlisted personnel. In effect, their peers rightfully judge the accused. These peers have a shared background, understand the traditions and have experiences in common with the accused. It does not mean the peers will be more compassionate or sympathetic to the accused, rather that they are qualified to establish a just verdict. I would be extremely anxious to appear before a jury of so-called "peers" in a civil court who were ignorant of the complexities of the tactics and strategies used in our annual wars against wildland fire. Few of the general public have ever experienced the commonly described freight train sound of the fire dragon's furious approach. Logic then dictates they've also never been forced to make emergency decisions affecting the lives and property of others during a catastrophic fire. If I'm to be judged and found to blame for any decisions I make in the line of duty, I demand the investigation, verdict, and any punishment necessary be from my true peers, other wildland firefighters. Only they are fit to judge me.

Have any of you ever returned from a particularly exciting fire and tried explaining your feelings and emotions to your family or friends? Did they get it? Were you able to make them know how you were affected by the fire activities and how you felt about the role you played? Can they understand your dedication, commitment, and the satisfaction you receive when the fire is out? I didn't think so, I wasn't ever able to adequately express myself either. Consider for a moment, these people love you and want to understand you, would a collection of twelve people from off the street even try to understand you? Keep in mind how juries are formed. The prosecutor is aggressively looking for those liable to be sympathetic to the plaintiff. That's going to insure the prosecutor is comfortable that half the jury will side with them before the trial even begins.

Are there any Division Supervisors or Strike Team Leaders here who fought the Southern California fires last year and made decisions on which homes to allow to burn? Would you be at ease defending your decisions against the homeowners whose structures you failed to defend? Do you think a civil jury as described above is going to care you were without effective communications? Will they understand the difficulties and complexities encountered during the initial attacks across many jurisdictions as a wide variety of agencies scrambled to respond? These juries will not be composed of your friends or family who love you. As evidenced in this forum after the Southern California fires, even other firefighters were unable to refrain from blaming various agencies and resources for their perceived failures.

So, am I now guilty of promoting a chicken-little conspiracy? Or, should federal employees, who are by definition public safety officers, be exempt from personal civil liability?

I apologize to Ab. for the length of this post, it seemed each paragraph opened a new doorway. I hope I've clarified my first post in that I never intended to pass judgment or cast blame on any individual, their actions or lack of actions occurring during the Cramer Fire. I was not suggesting employees who fail to follow policies and procedures or who are negligent in their duties go unpunished. I am a firm believer in being accountable for my own actions and expect others to be responsible for their own. It's just the method employed during the process I feel strongly about.


Thanks for the eloquent clarification. I hope the WO is reading. I also hope that people like Rose write in to dispel blatant rumors even if more questions or concerns arise. Ab.
4/7 Abercrombie,

Medical standards
Has anyone using the new DOI medical standards testing, required a test for cognitive defects or deficits?
http://medical.smis.doi.gov/wlffmedstds0902.pdf (pdf file)


Pyromania??? (tongue firmly in cheek) It's on the list. Ab.
4/7 Black on both sides

I always loved it when after working till the hotter part of the day, and rh's are in the teens,
spots were too numerous to handle, just like the day before, and the weather has been the
same for the past few shifts and you look up, and a see huge column building.


4/7 LMC,

You can get the Faller A, B, & C taskbook on the following link

Its a BLM taskbook, and I'm not sure if all agencies are using it.


4/7 An article on crew cohesion and family and back stabbing, pertains to the discussion.

Crew Cohesion, Wildland Fire Transition, and Fatalities
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/cohes.pdf (pdf file)


Good reading. This is available on wildlandfire.com via the Site map page, about the middle of the list, or the Documents Worth Reading list on the Archives page. Some other good reading there, too. Ab.

4/7 I added another federal job announcement and link to the Jobs page. The AG flight crew needs a Squad Leader.


4/7 MJ,

I would bet bottom dollar that the hiring freeze in R5 has something to do with the Hispanic Settlement Agreement. I didn't see any numbers in that agreement, but someone in charge must have some firm ideas of what those should be (quotas anyone?) and probably R5 isn't measuring up. (The R5 "boss" is known for his quick, shoot-from-the-hip, sweeping-directive CYA moves, as we know when grandbaby pictures had to be removed from workers' cubicles presumably for fear of accusations of pedophilia following the crew buggy sexual harassment stuff last year. Nothing like having a boss that looks ahead to every little nonexistent thing that could be seen as a threat! But Hey, maybe that is his job... and I should probably toe the agency line instead of relying on my own and coworkers integrity and values...)

Hispanic Hiring: I can tell you that we've worked our butts off to recruit Hispanics, other minorities and women. Outreach, outreach, outreach, job fairs, etc, etc. In some socal areas it's way easier than in norcal. As with other ethnic minorities who count on family and community to feel they are "at home", we can't entice people to move to live in remote areas where there is little to no preexisting ethnic minority community. We do invite them to come visit in groups when more than one applies for jobs. If they have the choice of norcal or socal with community, they choose socal. And if they feel the area is too "white", no matter how friendly and welcoming we are, they choose not to come. I have used the same criteria in deciding where I want to work. Feeling at home and a part of the local community is important to me too.

Bottom line is that QUOTAS in any form are not supportable. When is that going to get through to people? And going to a centralized hiring process? That would be the next upper mgmt FS's CYA move. Good Luck!!! Waste of taxpayer money to create more bureaucracy at the top and hinder us from hiring locally. It won't make more minorities apply, accept or be happy firefighters. My opinion, voiced from my home computer on my own time.

Tahoe Terrie

4/7 Re: All of the discussion of fatality fires.

A common factor in some of these, (South Canyon, Cramer), is midslope line in brush
fuel models. Why risk lives to save brush ? It grows back in 2 years!. Disengage, change
tactics, anything, but DON"T OVERCOMMIT in brush! It's not worth lives. If nothing is
at risk, risk nothing. Go to indirect line and fire out, let it burn to a safe engagement
position, or back off.

USE TRIGGER POINTS, (Wind direction or speed, Rh dropping, Fire location, etc.) and
do not ignore one that has been hit!! Use proper, accepted firefighting techniques, a hot,
going fire is not the place to try something new unless it is a life threatening situation.

I think if people train on the basics, such as "one foot in the black", and really do a
Risk vs. Gain analysis before engaging, they will be able to keep their Crews safer,
and make better decisions, even if a few more acres of brush burn as a result.

Remember, Firefighter safety is First, public safety is second, then property. Dead or
injured Firefighters can't save the public or their property. Just a friendly reminder as
the season is winding up.


4/7 Backburnfs,

About the downhill list www.nifc.gov/sixminutes/dsp_discussion.php?id=7

The thing I'm most concerned with is that it has changed from a DIVS supervised operation to a TFLD or ICT4 supervised operation. This change occurred long ago when it used to be the Sector Boss under LFO and then changed to DIVS under ICS. Sometime it changed to a lower standard...

I'd be a little more concerned with a five or six year firefighter who is ICT4 or TFLD qualified person making decisions to go downhill. I'd really be concerned if a five or six year firefighter only relies upon a checklist to accomplish it and doesn't use common sense as Rogue Rivers and Nerd on the Fireline mentioned. There are times when a fire is burning downhill and it is not safe to anchor on the bottom. Its safer for the folks on top to anchor and flank, meet the 10 & 18, and make damn well sure that they have good escape routes and safety zones as well as lookouts. Good communications with a lookout who can see what is going on is also needed.

I'm a Paul Gleason fan....... LCES...... it covers all the aspects of safety.

Just my thoughts,
Another Opinion
4/7 Ab

I am pleased to let you know that the monument I've been working on is finally finished.
We met with Vicki Minor this last Sunday and set it up. It is located at the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation Monument in the N. I. F. C. compound. Although very emotional it was well
worth the time. Again Thank you to Ryan of the Mystic Ranger Distr. of the Black Hills
National Forest for the prompt response with the hard hat. Attached are a couple of photos.

To All -- Please be safe this fire season
Steve Heath

Thanks for sharing, Steve. Our best to you and your family and to the Allen family. I feel honored that you write in here to make the tragedy real and to help all of us heal. I hope that you don't take our comments, opinions and analyses too personally. For the most part, firefighters are talking to firefighters. You need to know that every person who has written in here sends a personal note to Ab with directions not to post their comments if we feel they could add to the pain. We do our best to make that discernment while maintaining the open flow of conversation. If we fail sometimes, please forgive us. As I've told Jodi personally, it is also our intent to foster discussion to keep those reading here safe on the line this season.

Readers, here are the pics. Blue hardhat and NIFC Monument. I am also linking to the photo of Shane, lost on the mountain that day. If the Allens send in a photo of Jeff, we'll post that also. I have linked directly to the photos. I need to work on the Miscellaneous pages and split out the monument and memorial photos for a new photo page.

4/6 I heard that they have just come out with task books for Faller A, B & C.
I can't find them on the NWCG site. Does anybody know anything about this?

4/6 Backburnfs,

The areas that I noted are not "hypothetical" . They are areas where firefighters have been killed or severely burned while being overrun by a fire moving off of a slope downhill.

Thanks for the open mind though and the chance to openly discuss our differing opinions.

As for the fires you mentioned.....
South Canyon..... would a crew working from the bottom have made a difference?
Loop.................. there was a crew working from the bottom.
Mann Gulch ...... this wasn't downhill line construction, they were hiking into the fire.

Also, these fires were nothing like the ones that I was talking about... the ones I'm talking about are fires that are being influenced by either thermal low pressures (ie - Elsinore Effect) or foehn winds. If you've never been at the bottom of hill under these wind conditions, I'd recommend you don't try to race in and establish and anchor point at the bottom for me. Just a tip from one firefighter to another.

Rogue Rivers
4/6 Rogue Rivers, Your hypothetical fires in Colorado, California, and Utah
only prove my point. Consider South Canyon, Loop, Mann Gulch, many other
fires where fatalities occurred because fire ran uphill (one of the 4
common denominators) and you will understand why I know it is almost always
safer to anchor the bottom of a fire. There are always exceptions and I
probably should not say never, it could be raining I guess.

Downhill line construction is one of the most hazardous tactics we can
conceive of in fighting fire.

Your comment about the IRPG checklist for downhill line being developed by
Hotshot Supt's and Smoke Jumpers doesn't give me any reason to accept it
over the Fireline Handbook guidelines which were developed by Hotshots and
SJ's. Hotshots and SJ's dont know everything. Ask me how I know.

If we get on a fire together you can take your crew to the top and I'll start
at the bottom and monitor for you, good luck.

4/6 Ab, The R-5 Regional Forester Jack Blackwell has issued a hold on all temporary Fire
hires effective 04/05/2004. It has something to do with the hiring and selection processes,
and very little info has come out. This affects ALL of Region 5 temp fire hiring, and
hopefully it won't affect the start dates for temp employees, as a lot of mandatory
training has already been scheduled.

4/6 Rogue Rivers:

I’d like to add another scenario to your list of fire that could actually be more dangerous to fight uphill. The fire was a small (<1 acre), single crew fire, low fire activity (just skunking around in the duff, actually), but on a rocky, well over 100% slope. On size-up, we decided that the head of the fire was actually the downhill side, because there was greater spread potential by rolling firebrands than there was by ‘normal’ uphill ignition, and that danger to the crew due to rocks dislodged by their supporting roots burning away and by crewmates kicking them down from above was greater than the danger from the fire. Having a second crew working up hill toward us would have increased the danger in the situation, because the fire was so small it would have been impossible to position crews such that the upper crew wouldn’t have been kicking material down on the lower crew.

Nerd on the Fireline
4/6 RW, please go back and reread my 4/3 post carefully and then the comparison of FF education & training to those of surgeons - I did. Normal grieving processes are complex; my statement should never have been misconstrued as a slam to anyone who has lost a loved one anywhere, anytime - God forbid!

Once again, sincere condolences, sympathy, and understanding to the Heath & Allen families personal situation (what a crappy word), and to those who lost loved ones on 30 Mile, Storm King, et al. I sincerely apologize for any misunderstandings in chat. Reading the links Ab provided are heartbreaking when anyone's life is lost.

Steve, your post provides anyone involved in FF something to chew on - regardless of experience, classification, forest, employment entity, etc.

Wildland Firefighter Foundation donations - the best we can do for the wildland fire families who do not have financial support in a time of true need ASAP! Thank You, Vickie & all who participate!!!!




Backburnfs, I like the version that is in the IRPG. It was well thought out by Hotshot Supt.'s and SmokeJumpers.

I'd like to explain. It allows for safety and requires safety to be maintained at all times as the original intent was. THE FIRE MANAGEMENT HANDBOOK VERSION COULD ACTUALLY PLACE FIREFIGHTERS IN HARM'S WAY by trying to follow "guidelines", rather than common sense. Sometimes guidelines that aren't properly written can actually cause more harm than good.

It may seem a little vague. It still requires everything except "the crew working uphill".

The reason that this may have been left out is......... there are some local areas where it may be impossible to safely "anchor at the bottom" but it is completely safe to anchor and flank from the top.... ie - A Colorado Chinook wildfire running downhill towards the valley, a Southern California Santa Ana wildfire running downhill at 60 mph, or a fire running downhill at Moses Lake Washington. There are many other places that have this same problem (Lake Elsinore, CA..... Eagle Lake, CA.... Salt Lake, UT.... to name a few others) The anchor and flank actually takes place at the top, the most hazardous areas are on the bottom of the fire.

The IRPG version only says to.... as you stated.....
"monitor" the bottom of the fire and that "if the potential exists for fire to spread, action will be taken to secure the fire edge". What is this action? Some bucket drops, or what? This is open to interpretation and leaves too many options besides getting a line established below the crew working downhill.

Under some of the above scenarios, the last place you'd ever want to be was at the bottom of the slope with a wind driven fire coming at you. And, it addresses the fact that the folks on top still must know what is going on below through lookouts and some sort of suppression action... AND must have readily accessible safety zones.

As with any operation, if the 10, 18, and LCES are followed, everyone will come home safely. The only things that still scares the heck out of me are powerlines, falling trees, and rocks. They have been our number one killer outside of aircraft accidents and no amount of training or experience can take them away.

Basics: Anchor and Flank, 10, 18, and LCES....Situational Awareness... Can't go wrong with these.

Rogue Rivers

4/6 The Jobs page, is updated. The Florida Wildland Academy has new jobs listed. Also updated are the federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455.

Another sawyer photo came in. I posted it on the Handcrews 13 photo page.


4/6 BR,

The tragedy of the Avue system is that it doesn't actually provide any instruction on how to get a job. Here's the trick- find some forests where you think you might want to work and call the various district offices asking to speak "with someone in fire management," preferably whoever does the hiring.

Most places are going to ask you these questions:
1) Are you in the Avue system? Did you put in for our forest? (My advice- Lie. Say yes, even if you didn't put in for that forest because most people won't even talk to you until you're in the system. You can always change your preferences on avue after the conversation.)
2) Do you have a Red Card?
3) Do you have any experience?
4) What are your dates of availability? (Be honest)

Most places then write your name down on a piece of paper and actually consider you for a spot. When they get the 100+ long list of names from avue, the "people who've called" list is much shorter. The more you call, and the more they like you, the higher your name is on the short list. Simply putting your app into Avue offers absolutely no guarantee of a job or even really being considered seriously. All it means is that your name ends up on a very long list of potential candidates somewhere.

Things you should ask for sure-
1) How many spots do you have?
2) Do you hire students? (some places bypass the Avue system entirely to pick up students that they like)

Whatever you do, be persistent and don't get discouraged, though a lot of places have already done their hiring for the season. And you probably shouldn't waste your time calling Shot Crews, cuz they require more experience & calling months ago. Also you might wanna consider places in oregon & washington because, much like the northern rockies, they have a compressed fire season that tends to be more conducive to students.

Good luck,
-the Nomad
4/5 It is always surreal to read OSHA citations that have to do with wildland
fire. When they refer to providing a workplace free of danger etc. I just
have to shake my head. It just doesn't sound right. I also find it
interesting that Citation 1 included RAWS station maintenance. I plan to
use this one to advantage to get some radio techs off their ass.

4/5 TC,

I agree with you that OSHA wasn't requiring that District Rangers or Forest Supervisors be
qualified at either SOFR1, 2, or 3.

It is their "recommendation" for a fix. Their recommendations are pretty powerful though.

Because we didn't listen to their recommendations last time, item #3 was a REPEAT violation.

I think their recommendation is an excellent way to get the line officers back in touch with the
programs that they are supervising.

4/5 I am a college student and I want to work somewhere west of the Mississippi this summer as a
wildland firefighter. (Ideally, for the USFS in Idaho or Montana.) I've been working paid-on-call
with the North Carolina Forest Service for two years. I followed the instructions on the Avue site
to apply to the Nationwide announcements, but I'm not entirely confident that I haven't missed
something small that will prevent me from being considered for a job.

Does anyone know when I might be notified if I am offered a position, or if there is anything I can
do to speed the process -- or should I at least call and find out whether or not my application is
missing anything crucial? When are applications typically reviewed?

Info appreciated, thanks.
4/5 747 tanker:

I have heard about a 747 getting tested, is there a web site for it? I think it is crazy, the c-130
could not hold up, how can the 747 hold up?

Thanks NRSV

Here's an article: Fighting fire with 747s

4/5 Steve, I'm still looking at your post and wondering how much of it relates to the Cramer
Fire and the ICT3 problem there and how much is in reaction to the feelings of Type I
and II ICs that they and their families are at risk for much more than is under their control.

Could you please briefly clarify whether you're against the ICT3 requirements
coming out of the Cramer Fire investigation. If we don't have a certification
process, how do we check to see if our IC3s can handle the worsening situation
when the sh!t hits the fan? With the old guys retiring and some of the new guys/
gals getting pushed along, some maybe too fast, how can we check for quality
control? Live fire without the fire, more or less.

What about some kind of similar test for line officers? Who knows what that might
be. Something to provide a reality check that someone they "supervise" is not up to
par or not up to par at the time...

I know it seems like the govt scapegoated the groundpounder in the past- citing the 10
and 18 -and now the govt seems to have shifted to management and line officers. Do
you think this is without cause in the Cramer Fire deaths? How else might the govt
handle people that make "terrible mistakes" as Old Fire Guy put it? Fire em? Put
em in the brig? Any other ideas? Will they instill f/f confidence ever again?

OK nuff from this old duffer,
NorCal Tom

4/5 Downhill line construction guidelines:

Got my new 2004 "Incident Response Pocket Guide" today and was disappointed
that the Downhill Checklist on page 8 was not changed to reflect the
standards found on page 47 of the "Fireline Handbook".

Conspicuously absent is the part stating that "Communication is established
between the crew working downhill and crews working toward them from
below." This part of the guidelines in the "Fireline Handbook"
establishes the need for an anchor point on the lower portion of a fire
when attempting to build fireline downhill. The IRPG version only says to
"monitor" the bottom of the fire and that "if the potential exists for fire
to spread, action will be taken to secure the fire edge". What is this
action? Some bucket drops, or what? This is open to interpretation and
leaves too many options besides getting a line established below the crew
working downhill.

I was taught early in my career that you had to have a crew working uphill
towards you if you were attempting downhill line construction. A look at
past fatality fires will show that this tactic is much safer if the fire is
anchored at the bottom and line is being built from both ends.

I will refuse to participate in downhill line construction that is being
attempted without first establishing an anchor point on the lower end.

Another area of concern is that they left out the part about carrying fire
downhill as the line progresses, which in the right fuel conditions
establishes your safety zone along your line.

I would like to see the "Downhill Checklist" in the IRPG amended to match
or strengthen the "Downhill Guidelines" found in the "Fireline Handbook"
not weaken them and water them down as is the case now.

Our firefighting rules need to match from one document to another. We can
not have this ambiguity, especially in relation to a hazardous operations
like Downhill Line Construction.

4/5 The OSHA citation does not require Rangers and Forest Supervisors to be
qualified Safety Officers, it only says that one method (among others) of
abatement would be to train them to commensurate levels...... Entire
citation below. Note to Abe, - wouldn't allow me to cut and past, so
used a screen-shot (bmp file).


I typed it. Here's what it says:

ABATEMENT NOTE: Among other methods, one feasible and acceptable abatement method is to ensure inspectors receive specialized safety training commensurate with the level of incident complexity, such as the qualifications necessary for a Safety Officer Type 1, 2 or 3. Also ensure that these inspections are thoroughly evaluated to ensure maximum competency.

4/5 Ab,

I posted last week about the ICT3 sim results, but it must not have gone through.

I passed the simulation, and it wasn't that bad. The people that had organizers, pocket
guides, and other memory joggers, and wrote everything down, did much better. The
people that tried to do everything all in their heads did not fare as well, and some were
invited to return to retake it.

On the Cramer citations, ALL district Rangers must become Safety Officers? To
become a safety officer, you must first be Division Supervisor qualified. How are all
these Rangers going to go to all of the required classes and training assignments to
get these quals? (CRWB then STEN or STCR, then TFLD & ICT3, then DIVS).
This will take many years.

The problems at 30-mile and Cramer were caused by people not following CURRENT
regulations and SOPs, so how is adding more regulations going to help, if the existing
ones do not get followed?


MJ, that one account of yours seems to be the problem, either on the sending or receiving server end (or both). We don't think we are having trouble with our spam filter. We got it trained up. Ab.

4/5 I just read the complete OSHA citations given to the Forest Service regarding the Cramer Fire. www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/investigations/cramer/index.phpl

I was very pleased that OSHA completely laid it on the table in this report. I am looking forward to the OIG report.

These citations hit home with me and if they are abated, I think our workforce will be much safer. These citations were very specific and hit the foundations of LCES, 10 Standards, and the 18 Situations. Of particular interest were:

Citation 1 Item 3 - "Serious" was of great interest. It pretty much spelled out the requirements for District Rangers. They need to be trained as Safety Officer Type 1, Type 2, or Type 3. Right now, I'd bet that fewer than 5% (just a wild guess) of District Rangers or Forest Supervisors were qualified or have received training at that level.

Citation 3 Item 1 - "Repeat" leads right into the whole fire classification issue. An OSHA citation repeat is really bad.

I'm not going to do a dissertation, I'm hoping everyone will read the citations and come back here and discuss how we can make a safer firefighting workplace.

4/5 Old Fire Guy,

I know that lots of units are using the GS-0340 series... That's why I asked my original question. Isn't 0401 meant to be the fix all?

I have been trying to get the specifics from OPM.gov . It is not on their website and when I called them to ask where to find them they told me to check their website. An endless circle. The Forest Service route I've taken is also an endless circle.

All I'm trying to do is find these classification standards.... neither OPM nor Forest Service has been able to provide it yet..... All I've been told is that you are automatically a GS-14 Forest Supervisor or a GS-13 District Ranger.... nobody can produce the standard.

If anyone knows where I can find the standard, please post it. I'd really appreciate it.

Confused in the Forest
4/5 Ab,

2 volunteer firefighters were killed on the Point Fire, southwest of Boise, Idaho in 1995. These deaths have greatly influenced the direction of Colorado Firecamp. A ruling by a U.S. District Court has been available on the BLM website as a .pdf file and is now on our site in .phpl format. www.coloradofirecamp.com/point_fire.php

I think the case is relevant to the Cramer Fire deaths. In one of the footnotes to the ruling, the judge wrote:

'The worth of a life cannot be set with mathematical precision. If it is our own life we are discussing, we would not give it up at any price. William Bradford, in writing of those who died during the crossing of the Mayflower, said that "the loss of honest and industrious men's lives cannot be valued at any price." Yet the law requires in this case that the Court, in determining the loss of society and companionship suffered by the plaintiffs, set a price on two men's lives, a nearly impossible task.'

Please extend my sympathies to the Heath and Allen families.

vfd cap'n

4/5 Northzone 5,

Last time I checked it wasn’t JH blaming someone for the loss of her son, it was the USFS and OHSA, she has just reiterating what their reports and officials have told her, but could you blame her I mean how would you feel if that that was your son and you found out that there were several opportunities to get those boys out of there, but instead they were forgotten about and left to die.

Also, you say that comparing a crew boss to a surgeon is a stretch because surgeons have years of training (which is plural for more than one) and that crew boss’s do not. Well, I will have to defend the Salmon Challis National Forest here as I fought fires there for five summers and their crew boss’s were always well trained and did have years of experience and I do not ever recall them having a first year fire fighter as a crew boss. I do not know what forest you work for, but if you have first year firefighters with no experience or training as crew boss’s then you might recommend that they do purchase malpractice insurance because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something terrible is going to happen. If this same thing is occurring on the forest in which BLM Bob works on I can see why he would be so familiar with the policy on refusing an unsafe assignment. In my five years on the Salmon Challis National Forest I never saw or heard of anyone turning down an assignment because it was unsafe.

I think that in comparing a crew boss to an attorney or surgeon is a stretch myself and that a crew boss, district ranger, or forest supervisor should be compared to other federal employees such as the military in which put in the same position would be court marshaled. I do not believe a civil suit is what these employees should worry about, what they should worry about is the OIG report that is coming out and if they find that these actions were deliberate and willful as the OHSA report did, it will be jail time that these employees could be facing and not monetary damages. There is no doubt that everyone makes mistakes and that we need to learn from those mistakes, but when your mistakes result in the death of another individual then you should be held accountable.

4/5 JH:

The question as to who to trust, or who to rely on is one all firefighters face. Please know that I am speaking only for myself. I teach my folks to trust in their training, especially the 10 Standard Orders, and the 18 Watch Out Situations. It is imperative that every firefighter clearly understands the objectives they (or their crew) are assigned, and that they constantly monitor what is going on around them to ensure that they are in full compliance with the 10 and 18.

IF….a firefighter sees the situation has changed to where they or their co-workers are not in compliance, it is not just their "right", it is their "obligation" to bring that forward and see it is resolved before further engaging the fire.

I have heard the stories of firefighters getting berated for not wanting to follow an unsafe plan, but I have never seen it first hand in my 32 years of fire experience. I have seen discussions, and have been involved on several occasions in discussions where an assignment was unsafe as originally planned. Those assignments were always modified to ensure compliance with the 10 & 18.

Should not "leaders" be the ones to ensure 10 & 18 compliance? You bet! It is their job to do so. But in every profession, skilled, dedicated people make horrible mistakes, and those mistakes cost people their lives. Maybe it's fatigue, maybe it's trying to do many tasks (and thinking you can). Maybe it's because you don't see anyone else stepping up to share the load... but it's still a deadly mistake. The failure to recognize the loss of "situational awareness" seems to be a common thread throughout many tragic incidents.

Who's to blame? There's a long list. You'd have to include the people in charge of the fire, and the "management" that was to provide the oversight of that fire. How about the people who teach the firefighters? Did they somehow fail to instill the message on safety? And I'm sorry for causing pain, but the firefighters themselves have an obligation to adhere to the 10 & 18.

Getting overrun by fire does not occur because "somebody" failed when it came to safety. It occurs because "everyone" failed.

Old Fire Guy
4/4 I blew the warning whistle last week regarding fire danger in the Southwest Area and
(after some large fires in AZ) things have changed. Guess I had better update.

The cut-off low pressure system over AZ during the past few days has provided varying
amounts of moisture to almost everywhere and it isn't done yet. Most timbered country
has received substantial rain and snow and will see the onset of fire season put off until at
least mid-May to early June.

There are flood warnings (and floods) in much of Southeast New Mexico and West Texas
today and tonight. There is snow in all of our NM mountains. We will be quite wet and
greening up for at least a month. Several very ambitious prescribed fire projects that I am
aware of that were slated for April will be severely impacted if not postponed indefinitely.

However, this could be a drought breaker in some areas. We are happy about that!!

4/4 Hi Ab!

I've been cruising your site most of this evening and really applaud your work! I worked for the Fire Management Office at Mesa Verde National Park in 2002 during the Long Mesa Fire. I started out doing payroll until the fire hit hard and the Incident Team came in and took over. After that I went to work building the fire website. I processed all of the digital images and videos that came in and published the site. I also put together powerpoint presentations that were used pretty intensively in the Intermountain Region in discussing wildfires in the National Parks and Monuments. Several folks on the fire crew are good friends and I respect them tremendously for the individuals they are and the monumental work they do. I thought you and your readers might like to see some of our fire pix. www.nps.gov/meve/fire/longmesa.php Keep up the great work! I forwarded your site to my fire buddies and expect they'll really enjoy it if they haven't already seen it!

Ops Manager / Webmistress
Mesa Verde Museum Association

Hi Krista, we linked to the LongMesa site via our Fires 2003 page last year. Welcome to our forum. Ab.

4/3 JH and Ab,

Refer to the "Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations 2004"
for policy/info on refusing an unsafe assignment. It is on page 06-18 at:
www.fire.blm.gov/Standards/Redbk2004/Chapter06.pdf (pdf file)


How to Properly Refuse Risk

Every individual has the right and obligation to report safety problems and contribute ideas regarding their safety. Supervisors are expected to give these concerns and ideas serious consideration. When an individual feels an assignment is unsafe they also have the obligation to identify, to the degree possible, safe alternatives for completing that assignment. Turning down an assignment is one possible outcome of management risk.

A "turn down" is a situation where an individual has determined they cannot undertake an assignment as given and they are unable to negotiate an alternative solution. The turn down of an assignment must be based on an assessment of risks and the ability of the individual or organization to control those risks.

Individuals may turn down as unsafe when:
  • There is a violation of safe work practices.
  • Environmental conditions make the work unsafe.
  • They lack the necessary qualification or experience.
  • Defective equipment is being used.

Individual will directly inform their supervisor that they are turning down the assignment as given. The most appropriate means to document the turn down is using the criteria (10 Fire Orders, 18 Watch out Situations, Principles of LCES, etc.) outlined in the Risk Management Process.

Supervisor will notify the Safety Officer immediately upon being informed of the turn down. If there is no Safety Officer, notification shall go to the appropriate section chief or to the Incident Commander. This provides accountability for decisions and initiates communication of safety concerns with in the incident organization.

If the supervisor asks another resource to perform the assignment, they are responsible to inform the new resource that the assignment has been turned down and the reasons it has been turned down.

If an unresolved safety hazard exists or an unsafe act was committed, the individual should also document the turn down by submitting a Safenet (ground hazard) or safecom (aviation hazard) form in a timely manner.

These actions do not stop an operation from being carried out. This protocol is integral to the effective management of risk as it provides timely identification of hazards to the chain of command, raises risk awareness for both leaders and subordinates, and promotes accountability.

4/3 Abe,

Here is one for the Air Tanker page, the other end of the equation. Photo taken at the
Ramon Air Tanker Base during the Pines Fire.

Al C

Thanks Al, got to remember those critical support people. I put it on the AirTanker 10 photo page. Ab.

4/3 Ab,

Are firefighters trained not to trust others and to only rely on themselves? Can they really say to a boss "I don't think I feel safe doing what you are asking, find someone else"?


You cannot "train" anyone to trust another. Firefighters are given the basic training to allow them to be aware when they are in a dangerous or worsening situation. Trust of their peers or supervisors is given only through close working relationships, as they learn to value their judgment and respect past decisions. There should be few situations when a firefighter is forced to rely only on another person. One common situation would be a faller who has a lookout watching for snags or broken tops.

And yes, I've always felt ok to saying I wasn't comfortable with a plan, though I wouldn't say "find another person for the task" except as a last resort. I would try to discover alternative ways to complete the same mission before refusing it. Ab.

4/3 Confused in the Forest

The 0340 Series is alive and well. It has been used for District Ranger and Forest Supervisor
positions in the FS, and Refuge Managers, Park Superintendents etc. in other agencies......for
about the past ten years.

It is a series that focuses on management/administration skills that a variety of "professions"
qualify for. Foresters, biologists, engineers, hydrologists, recreation specialists, lawyers,
business managers...... you get the picture.

Get specific details directly from opm.gov if you need more.
Actually a pretty good series, and certainly no secret.
Hope this helps.

Old Fire Guy
4/3 I was wondering with all this Cramer accountability stuff if the manager/ spotter have had the
same scrutiny as the IC and the District Ranger. I would think they would have to accept the
mission, and I would think they would be responsible for providing a lookout for their
crewmembers. I don't rappel so I don't know what their SOP's are. On the Hotshots we
provide our own lookout everytime and don't rely on ICs.

4/3 Looks like I missed a significant event. Did the DOJ reverse their earlier decision
and now will award Mr. Wyatt's family the benefits deserved? Ms. Minor's post
indicates some undue delay of that decision.

Just returned from a week of ICT 3 assessments. Those who participated all said
the test was "real" and "fair".

Old Fire Guy
4/3 TC, thanks for the update......

I've asked the local and province HR's for the 0340 standards... no luck. Most
HR folks are less educated than I am in regards to classification.

I must be missing something somewhere.... does the 0340 series really exist?
Why is it so secretive..... Where can I find this classification standard?

Confused in the Forest
4/3 The loss of a loved one is difficult. It is normal human reaction to blame someone as part of the grieving process.
Comparing a surgeon to a crew boss oops is a stretch of the imagination. Surgeons have years of training & testing before "practicing" medicine & they purchase mal-practice insurance. WFF fire folk have no comparative education or safety net.

My heart goes out JH and anyone who has been injured or has lost a loved one on the fire line. As Vickie implied, the least the gooberment can do is expedite injury & loss of life claims in a timely manner! Where (not who personally) to place blame is a conundrum for all to consider.

Be safe all, especially those in CO & FL this week.

Northzone 5
4/2 Abs:

I am forwarding pictures of T48 dropping today in memory of the
Tanker 99 crew, Carl Dohlbeare and John Attardo, at Minden ATB.
Pictures by my wonderful and resourceful uncle Joe Wizner (a retired
aircraft mechanic) of Gardnerville NV.

Thanks so much to Minden Air and Gordo for doing this!!!!


Thanks NMAirBear and Uncle Joe. I put them on the AirTanker 10 photo page. Ab.

4/2 Backburnfs,

You stated "My son just had surgery on his shoulder that lasted about 3 hours and the bill was over $14,000.00." Here is something to think about..........

While during your son's surgery, mistakes were made by the doctor entrusted with your son's life which led to his death. Would you not hold the doctor accountable? Of course you would because that was his job, to perform a safe surgery on your son's shoulder.

The Cramer Fire incident was no different than this scenario. It was the jobs of the Forest Service Officials to make the correct decisions regarding the safety of Shane and Jeff, along with all of the other firefighters lives. This is what the government pays these officials to do. So if they are not doing their job correctly why should the government back them up?

It is very cut and dry and you have no argument.
Read the official Forrest Service Report or just pick up the Idaho Statesman and then convince me that the government should in any way back these people who made such tragic mistakes.


LH, I am sorry for your loss, but it is not quite the same. I am not defending anyone or blaming anyone. I am stating the truth about firefighter safety as I see it. Let me speak to the first two and a half paragraphs of your post.

Unlike patients who place themselves completely in their doctor's care, firefighters can never simply put themselves in the care of their supervisor. While it is the supervisor's responsibility to keep firefighters safe, EACH firefighter is also expected to be responsible for their own life, to be constantly vigilant and to speak up right away if they feel uncomfortable. EACH person is expected stay aware and to follow the 10 Standard Fire Orders which are rules of engagement and disengagement of the fire. EACH is expected stay aware and to observe the 18 Watchout Situations. Even if such orders are disregarded or overlooked by superiors, it is EACH firefighter's responsibility to question, mitigate concerns and refuse the assignment if not satisfied. EVERY ONE is responsible for keeping heads up for safety. In our dangerous profession NO ONE can afford to get so involved in their task -- no matter how much they love it or how tired they are -- that they loose situational awareness. Firefighters do not have the freedom to simply count on others to back them up. If you read Mellie's description of the Swiss Cheese Model of Wildland Fire Tragedies (link below), you'll understand what I mean when I say NO FIREFIGHTER can afford to be a hole in the swiss cheese. REDUNDANT SAFETY is key.

4/2 Ab,

Sorry, I got a little crazy. You were right to put up the post about the
civil suit rumor, it needed to be stopped ASAP.

But some of the attitudes get me. Do these people really feel that nothing
was done wrong by the IC ? I bet if it was their loved one they would
want someone to be accountable for it. Is some extra training really that
big of an imposition ?


A little reactive (not crazy) is totally understandable given your loss. I'll let other posters reply to your questions if they choose to. If names start getting thrown out there, I will snip.

Readers, Jodi has shared her feelings with us before. Jodi's thoughts on her most beloved son Shane and Mellie's insights. Ab.

4/2 Backburnfs & Steve

Did you even read the report??????
How can you say that there was no negligence involved?
I'm not saying that <snip> or <snip> woke up that morning and said today would be a good day to have my head up my a$$ and let two great kids die. But I'm sorry, for ALL TEN OF THE SAFETY STANDARDS AND 14 OF THE WATCHOUTS to have been missed, their heads sure the hell were definitely not were they should have been!! Why should the Forest Service stand behind them ? Were they doing a great job? Maybe even a good job? Pretty sure that if they were, Shane and Jeff would still be here today.

Also, last time I checked Shane and Jeff were also employees of the Forest Service. So where do you get off on acting like <snip> and <snip> are the real victims here?????

CIVIL SUIT~ Hmmmm,,,, What civil suit? Maybe people should know facts before they decide to voice their opinions on matters this serious!

Tell me what would we get if we sued ? Money ? Big deal! Would It bring my son back to me ? No! Because if it would, you bet your a$$ I'd get every lawyer I could. But guess what, it won't bring him home.

The Heath Girls

Posting the rumor about the Civil Suit was Ab's call. Part of our function at theysaid is to allow most rumors affecting the fire world to be stated right out front. Better to have the rumor "out" and corrected than to let it foment and do some potentially evil work. I thank you for your clarification and denial of that rumor and I also thank Rose who provided a more official statement. Ab.
4/2 Ab,

Allen Wyatt's widow and children have not yet received his PSOB. I called the Department of Justice this morning and was told again that it would be 4 to 6 weeks before they could let us know the outcome. I talked to Allen's daughter Leigh Ann. She said she couldn't even begin to tell me how many times the DoJ has told her they must wait "4 more weeks" and "4 more weeks" and "4 more weeks" until they will know if Allen's benefits will be paid.

It saddens me to see a family have to go to this length -- and with all the waiting involved -- to receive what our government should provide in a timely fashion to those who fight fire. Alan lost his life protecting our public lands. His family deserves the benefits asap.

Is there anyone who might be able to help this family speed up the process?

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

4/2 Forestfire25,

I'm getting Ab to send you the number for Gonzogear fire packs.


4/2 Heli 5,

Airline Pilots are in the plane when it crashes and have direct
control of the aircraft. Surgeons are holding the knife, and they have
millions of dollars of liability insurance, malpractice insurance and the
smart ones incorporate to avoid personal liability. Attorneys are a big
part of the problem in this society where many people are sue happy
headhunters looking for a scapegoat to pin liability on instead of taking
the personal accountability for their actions that we all esteem. Personal
accountability is a wonderful thing if it is accepted by everyone involved.
If it is only the supervisor that has to be personally accountable then it
doesn't count for much.

All three of these "professions" are highly respected by the society we
live in and are compensated much better than we are for the risks that they
accept. My son just had surgery on his shoulder that lasted about 3 hours
and the bill was over $14,000.00. Most attorneys charge at least $100.00
an hour and in a quick check of a major airline pilot contract, 1 yr of
service pays $127.00 an hour 12 yrs of service gets you $268.00 an hour
depending on type of aircraft.

An ICT3 does not have the control of every act made on fire by up to
several hundred firefighters assigned to them. I think that is where your
analogy fails to give me any comfort.

Based on the last few incidents that have involved firefighter fatalities,
there is a real threat that an agency will not support an employee where
there is not any actual negligence involved. That is the scary part.

4/2 Got these pics of the Picnic Rock Fire forwarded to me by a fellow VFD officer from a resident (whose house is in the pics). Pretty disturbing fire behavior in Colorado for this time of year. We are supposed to get snow tonight, so hopefully Mother Nature will help us put this one out. Updates on the fire are posted at www.larimer.org/emergency

Take care out there - Adios, CJD

Very active, I put the pics on the Fire 22 Photo page.
Remember what Paul would say, People... LCES. Ab.

4/2 From Firescribe:

The Idaho Statesman had this to say about OSHA on the Cramer fatalities:
Forest Service violated standards
4/2 Heli5

Bless you !!!

Luv JH
4/2 For all the fearful ICT3's out there count to ten and
put things in perspective.

The Cramer Fire accident shouldn't stop your ability
and desire to lead our young firefighters if you are
capable. Where things get scarey is if you are not
capable or negligent. If your lack of action or
competence gets someone hurt you should be held
accountable. Personal accountability is what
distinguishes good programs from great programs.
Professional capable firefighters should not be afraid
of accountability and they shouldn't be afraid of
having their skills tested. Pilots, surgeons,
attorneys, and many other professionals are required
to pass exams to show their proficiency. I think
it's about time we pony up and show what we've got.

The Cramer Fire has some unique aspects that may only
apply to this incident. Repeated warnings of a
program that was functioning well at below desired
levels were ignored. This is where the negligent part
is infused into this mess. So if you or your program
are sitting in this situation then you should be
afraid. If your program is above the board, and your
card says you have the skills, let's show the taxpayer
what you've got and do the simulation AND DO IT WELL.
The question shouldn't be if I should continue to do
this, or if the simulation is worth it.

The big question that should be asked: Are Jeff and
Shane's deaths going to cause you inconvenience and
perceived liability, or are they going to make you
think long and hard about your ACTUAL ABILITY to lead
the kids on your engine, your hotshot crew, your
rappel crew, or your emerging Type 3 Incident?

This is stuff dangerous, let's quit screwing around.


4/2 looked at this site first when friend in CO mentioned their fire; some media footage shown on northzone local TV - not so new news.

web news says: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved federal aid to help fight the fire" and "The fire is an ominous sign of what could be a long fire season. Colorado, like much of the West, remains in a drought with little sign of relief"

heads up all, pack your gear. BE SAFE!


4/2 Ah, Mclellan, just got back from there. I was in
academy 27 just last month. I hope you didn't have the
misfortune of eating at the California Cafe. Right
now the only LCES i'm doing is locating cool and
establishing shade. They didn't find a use for me at
my home unit so they laid me off till mid May which is
odd due some of the current events happening in the
fire world. I guess i'm just writing to wish everybody
a safe and happy fire season and maybe we'll run into
each other. i'm on SQF's engine 23.

was freezing in wisconsin
4/1 Thanks for the MRE info everyone. We opened one (from 1999) and heated it.
The veggie part had deteriorated, but the crackers and peanut butter
and cookie were pretty tasty. We survived.

Some poptart topics on theysaid these days.

Anony"M"ous (good moniker for me Old Fire Guy)
4/1 TNF - I don't have any pictures of H-323, but I could give you the address
of the Foreman and/or Asst. Foreman there.

Abs can give you my e-mail.

AZAV guy
4/1 Ab,

OSHA issued their news release about an hour ago.
OSHA Finds Safety Violations at Wildfire Site In Idaho, Notices Issued to U.S. Forest Service

Here is Jack Troyer's statement on the OSHA Notices.
Regional Forester Troyer's statement on OSHA violations

People will find more information on the Cramer Fatalities on the Forest Services' website @

Information on the OSHA notices should be posted later this afternoon.


Thanks for keeping us in the loop. Ab.

4/1 Ab,

So far, we've only put one website on our links page. Here's the description we came up with:

Wildlandfire.com is the self-proclaimed "home of the wildland firefighter." Among many resources on their site is the bulletin board, They Said It, which was first moderated by the original "Abercrombie" and now by successor Abs. They Said provides us all with LCES: a Lookout for what we probably couldn't otherwise see happening in the rest of the wildfire world; Communications to bring together a diverse group of agency, contractor and cooperator folks (and even some of those structure types); Escape routes for when the off-season or office day lasts too long or is just too far from the smoke; and ultimately, Safety in the information, innovation and motivation to help bring us all back home.

Thanks for all your work.

vfd cap'n

Sounds good. You're welcome. Ab.

4/1 I think there is much more to the issue referred to in the post on 3/31 where Ab. says, “If someone in the ICT3 position is not comfortable making decisions then maybe they shouldn't be in that position”. I'm afraid I agree with Ab's statement, but for all the wrong reasons.

During many years of initial attack, I was always comfortable making decisions as a Type 3 Incident Commander. I always felt I would be supported by my agency if an accident occurred. I was comfortable knowing I was qualified and certified to perform the duties of my position. But then again, I was never distracted by the concept of an event resulting in a civil court claim where I funded my own defense. Any suggestion of my agency abandoning me to fend for myself would have been ludicrous.

Evidently times are changing. Being comfortable making decisions on the fireline may no longer be synonymous with being comfortable with one’s agency support after the fire is out. What has traditionally been a respected and prized position of leadership is now under suspicion of having a built in bull’s-eye.

A little over a year ago a Region 5 Forest FMO not only resigned his position as a National Type 1 Team Incident Commander, but actually retired due to his fear of personal liability. I know of several and hear it is becoming quite common for ICs at various levels to privately obtain insurance policies. I’m afraid I understand and sadly support any IC’s decision to remove the qualification from their redcards.

Am I the only one astonished, embarrassed, and ashamed at how our agencies and government have allowed this public liability issue to devolve to such an degree? Who in their right mind will continue to place themselves, families, and futures in such a vulnerable position? There is a tragic, fundamental flaw when a public servant, operating within their qualifications and policies, risks being undefended by their own government. It is past time for our leaders to step up and deliver their unmitigated legal and moral support. Their employees willingly place themselves and lead others in harm's way to protect lives, property, and public lands. They deserve the same type of dedication and support from their leaders.

I can imagine a scene in the not too distant future, similar to when other groups gathered to publicly burn draft cards and bras, where ICs assemble to pile and burn their redcards.

And it makes me sick.

4/1 Confused in the Forest, re the 0340 Series.

You're going to need to talk to an HR person to get the answers to your
questions. I know the Forest Service switched all District Ranger and
Forest Supervisor positions over to the series around 12 years ago or so,
to get away from the traditional 0460 (Forester) series. As I understand
it, qualifying for the 0401 series, would qualify you for the 0340 series,
providing you had management experience..... But then again I'm just an
old fire guy, and you need some real HR folks to explain all the ins and
outs of it.

4/1 Does the ICT3 do IA and other stuff or IA only? If we don't have enough qualified people
to deal with the starts, what happens? If this differs by region, what happens? I'm in R6 and
a temp seasonal, how does this effect me?

Who investigates the burnovers and starts the recommendations for changing the rules
anyways? Are those people retiring too? Will there be enough investigators who know
about fire?

Does OSHA know enough about fire? How does the findings of OSHA or the other one
OIG relate to whether civil cases might happen. How does this all work?

I think I'm beginning a career in wildland fire, what shouts watchout?

new-bee: more or less, at least kindof new to the politics and policies

As I understand it, this is OIG's first time investigating, following legislation after 30 Mile. We will see. Ab.

4/1 This came in late last night.


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.
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