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May, 2004

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5/31 Tahoefd: you've got to look beyond Cal-y-for-nee-a. There is an NFPA Standard (NFPA 1977)
which covers all wildland PPE, and is the nationally-accepted standard. Most good wildland boot
companies now have the independent, third-party tests to get certified as NFPA-compliant.

Minimum standard is 8" high, leather, lace-up, non-skid sole, and lots of other cut/penetration/etc
requirements.

Aberdeen
5/31 GPer' wrote about wildland firefighting prior to modern technologies such as chain-saws and aircraft. He says

<<"We've gotten so dependant on the new technologies our career has gained that we have forgotten that the Wildland firefighters of the past did the same job we did with less. Granted it was not as safe as it is today, they still got the job done.">>

I've often thought about the differences, and have concluded that it is not at all true that it was more dangerous then, nor that early wildland firefighters "did the same job we did.....". The primary differences are: MUCH greater fuel load per acre now (consequently significantly more dangerous), and the increased urban interface problem (adding danger and difficulty, reducing options, and contributing to a need for more aggressive tactics). Our technologies have merely allowed us to more or less keep pace with the increased demands of the job.

CDF Mike in Arroyo Grande (retired)

5/31 I've been a lurker on this site for a really long time, and have finally decided to voice my opinion like everyone else on here. I've been reading books alot lately about the old days of Wildland firefighting, and the many hardships they had to overcome. Can yall think about having to hike onto the fire line carrying a cross-cut saw instead of a chainsaw? We've gotten so dependant on the new technologies our career has gained that we have forgotten that the Wildland firefighters of the past did the same job we did with less. Granted it was not as safe as it is today, they still got the job done.

I'm just a part time wildland firefighter, and I'm young and do not have nearly as much experience as most of the posters on this site. However I am also still a firefighter who takes the same risks every time I step on the line as all of you do. Maybe the politicians are wrong about grounding all of our tankers, but if it saves one pilots life I think it is well worth it.

If the politicians are comfortable with letting another couple hundred acres or so burn, then why should we worry about it. Safety first right?

GPer'
5/31 Hi all,

There have been a number of posts recently about ROSS and MIRPS and the
history behind them. I have been teaching MIRPS for several years in our
ECC and can shed a little light. During the siege of 1994, South Ops and
North Ops discovered that they had crews and equipment assigned to fires,
but that they had no idea where they actually were. It took several days to
straighten it out. In after action reviews by the GACCs it was decided that
there was a need for an automated resource tracking system that would allow
real-time accountability. The Forest Service and CDF decided to contract
with Boeing to design what would later become known as MIRPS. The Forest
Service was the lead on the contract. In May of 1995 the system was put
into use at the two GACCs, and was successfully used that season. MIRPS was
rolled out to 4 Interagency ECCs in the Summer of 1999 for beta-testing. A
year later it was rolled out to all the state and federal ECCs and has been
the system of record since then. ROSS is an NWCG product that went into the
design process at roughly the same time as MIRPS. California has always
been aware of the eventual possibility that we would transition to ROSS at
some future date, but there were many reservations expressed in the
dispatch community about the speed and flexibility of ROSS. The ROSS
working group has been working very closely with Julie Vogan and John King,
the Forest Service and CDF leads for the ROSS Transition, to address
identified issues for the last couple of years. John and Julie also put
together a working group to evaluate the two programs. The California ROSS
Working Group (CREW) did an enormous amount of research comparing the two
programs and finally made a recommendation to the managers of all the
wildland agencies in California. The decision of that group is what you
have been posting.

Hope this gives a little info on the subject,
SOCAL Dispatcher

PS... Mellie, it's nice to hear that you are starting to feel better. Keep
up your spirits.
5/31 I work for the City of South Lake Tahoe Fire Dept in Calif. We currently do not have a policy on wildland boots beyond 8", and fire-resistant material. Do you know of any OSHA or Cal OSHA requirements that differentiate between structure & wildland. Or have any suggestions for links to dig for the info? I've been to the OSHA and Cal OSHA sites and got dizzy from going in circles! I'm going to try them again.

Great site! This is the first time I've visited, but as our Governor said " I'll be back"...

Thanks,
tahoefd
5/31 I'm an occasional lurker that has a few questions. With all the AT's being grounded what about the CL-215? (the "super scoopers"). Forgive my naivet on the subject as I've never been exposed as to what they can accomplish as an IA resource. Would a "squadron" of these accomplish that which the old AT's did? Are or can they be fitted to drop retardant or do they drop water only? CDF still has their planes flying. What about other state forestry/wildland agencies? Do any have their own planes that are airworthy?

As I understand it the AT's were grounded from flying on (over?) Federal property to fight fire and can't be used by the Feds. Can the states still contract with them for fires on state/local property? Can someone please show me the light?

RET
5/31 Here's an email (Status of ROSS in CA) that was sent out to all CDF and R5' ECC. This should answer most questions. We always knew CA would be switching to ROSS. Management just wanted assurances that certain bars were met. The hold up was making sure that it would meet the needs of CA. ROSS was so slow when it launched that there were concerns that needed to be addressed before CA signed off on it. Recent upgrades and CA (CDF/FS/BLM/NPS/BIA) insistence that certain additional functions be added have addressed most issues. These we needed to match what we currently have in MIRPS. Now that the ROSS group has committed to adding those requirements, CA (and I mean all CA Wildland agencies when I say CA) has started to process the move to ROSS.

A little history on MIRPS and ROSS.
ROSS was created because the Federal Wildland agencies outside of CA would NOT take any program created in CA. CA offered to give them the code to MIRPS, spend the millions of dollars they had available to them and update MIRPS, but CA was told it would not fly, since it was created in CA.

So they took a copy of MIRPS, put it on one screen, put the ROSS shell on another, and created the ROSS program you see today. They took the best of MIRPS and added/changed/removed/adjusted to come up with what you see so far today. Much will be added in the next several years. ROSS, like MIRPS, is a daily evolving project. Make sure your IT/ECC folks are made aware of any changes you need. It is your program to use. If you don't ask for enhancements, it will remain stagnant.

Keestrokes
5/31 r5 pita,

There was a letter I posted on theysaid 5/27 that laid out how ROSS would be implemented in CA. ROSS is coming.

CDF knew all along we had to go to ROSS. What made it final was last fall's firestorm where the federal fire agencies in CA were using both systems and trying to interface with CDF. This created serious problems.

SoCal CDF

5/31 What about cancel the providers (companies) that have had tankers crash?

Todd
5/31 Ab,

If you go back to read all the AT posts, you'd say that Gerty Girl received lots of support, problem is
theysaid supports freedom of choice and speech, so we also have opposing opinions here. I
have to admit that if I answered a poll on whether contracts should be renewed with the current fleet of
airtankers, some days I'd say yes, some days no, today it would be I don't know. We've had some
very well written and influential commentary from both sides. Aside from the few "bullshit/get over it"
stuff, it's interesting reading.

I guess in a non-political world I'd say cancel the ATs with historical structure failures and fly the ones
without. Too easy huh?

Tahoe Terrie
5/31 Gerty Girl,

I will echo BB's sentiments in saying that I'm sorry you haven't found the support that you are looking for but I believe this is a simple misunderstanding or misinterpretation of where we are coming from. I know you think that our a government agencies are canceling these contracts to serve some sneaky political and personal agendas, but so far, all I have encountered is a genuine interest to keep our people, those we work with, and the public safe. You have to understand that the general attitude of this board is "safety first, safety first, safety first." I know YOU think the tankers are safe but you have to understand that you aren't necessarily going to be able to convince other people of that - especially those who have known tanker personnel who died. I do not doubt things have been difficult for you and your family since the contracts were cancelled and for that, I am sorry and I certainly hope your lot improves, but surely even you can appreciate that when I am talking, on one side, to the widow of a tanker pilot, and then to you on the other, she’s going to be the one to get my sympathy first. I know you do not at all intend to make light of these people’s losses but perhaps some of your posts give the impression that you do not consider them a matter for concern? Please understand that is our foremost priority. Best wishes for you and yours.

R5PITA,
I liked that too - even hungry bears aren’t fool enough to eat MRE’s! Ha-ha!

OD
5/31 To Gerty Girl,

I am sorry that you feel that They Said has not given you the support that you seek. I believe that you may not be seeing the whole picture. Abs and the posters here do a great job of getting issues talked about. The tanker threads have been all over the map (in my perspective), many good points have been made.

As a ground pounder (and increasingly lately, a manager) I appreciate the value of the heavy tankers. I believe that I am not alone. I also appreciate the helitankers (more expensive per hour for sure, but per gallon delivered?...) I want to have as many tools in the toolbox as possible, and have little power over the decisions made at higher levels.

It has been my impression that the pilots would not fly if they did not feel 'reasonably safe', but do not really know.

Anyway, rest assured that most of us support the tanker community.

JMHO,

BB
5/31 CDF Mike, obviously you have witnessed in-state "lawn chair riders " in an entirely different situation, and understood my feeble attempt at another humorous name coinage. look forward to your future words of wisdom; happy retirement!

OD, thanks for the link to that chuckle! bears were alert - no green ham sandwiches in their coyote camp.

Gerty Girl - our sincere appreciation for all the help pilots have provided to those on the ground; sorry they have been reduced to the unemployment line. DM's comments about the current sad state of affairs pretty much sums it up. we must look beyond the small picture - the grounding of the heavies has an economic impact that never makes the news.

btw, Abs, I have no clue where the inception of MIRPS or ROSS began. is it only rumor that ROSS was finally vetted outside of R5 for national resource management, or the folk in Boise/GB were sent to the southland fires last fall because few knew how to use it? is it only conjecture that CA STATE is considering adding Fed tools to their box for mutual aid resource tracking? no offense intended; inquiring minds...

safe fire season all!

R5 PITA

CDF is adding ROSS. Ab.
5/31 OK now all this talk about what do we do without airtankers and all the other talk. What we need to be talking about is yes, that was a tool in our arsenal but like any other job out there, when your missing a tool you adapt and find another solution to getting the job done. Face it, they are not available and i am sorry for all the personnel out there who now are out of a job. But we, as firefighters, have to come up with new tools that help us do our job better and more efficiently. Let's all come together here and get on the same page and talk about the tactics we will now use to do our job on the ground safely and efficiently. Remember we still have all the other tools. So lets quit whippering about the air tankers and get back to the basics.

Now get out there and fight some fire. I know some of you have put fires out with those dang planes. Personally i have used more helicopters in my efforts to suppress fires and now thats all we have. So get over it. Don't like it, then help develop a safer aircraft. You would not drive your engine or buggies if they where found unsafe. You would want a new one.

Just another firefighter who is going to fight fire without any airtankers
5/30 Dear Ab, Honestly I had no intention of slamming or posting negative thoughts about anyone. I asked the question because all my firefighting friends had no idea who this person was. I have never supported the negative responses from AAP or from They Said. Being negative is wasted energy. I will say I am sorry on posting a name.

With that my life has been insane since May 10th. I honestly wanted to puke over what the Government agencies state as facts. Am I bias? Maybe, but I am also someone who believes. I met my husband as his loader… He has worked for Aero Union for the past 14 years. Never once did I question the “Airworthiness” of his tanker. I watched the pride of the mechanics who worked on that old DC-4… As a wife who loves my husband would rather see him flying a DC-4 (Gerty or Ruth) than a SEAT.. I also believe they are effective and an important tool in the toolbox. Everyone in the firefighting toolbox has their place. My friends are the ones who told me to post on “They Said.” Honestly, I have been disappointed. I have asked questions to all my firefighting friends and all believe there is a place for the heavy airtankers. On “They Said” I do not see the support my firefighting friends said there would be. They told me they know the good drop of retardant to the bad, tail numbers and about “Pink Rain” As for Dr Gumby not sure. Have asked friends who should know and hope they will reply. One thought the cost of a P-3 is 4,000 a Type 1 Helo 30,000. You may not get a reply because all are trying to get the Heavy’s back in the air… Green ribbons for Green forests… Chris came up with the idea and he was a firefighter now tanker pilot… He will be in Washington this week… They wanted this site to also post the "Green Ribbon," but I’m not sure we have your support. My thoughts my views, my beliefs…

Gerty Girl

Green Ribbon Ab.
5/30 Tankergypsie-
Point taken- ( I said that not all air tankers should be grounded- meaning specifically Aero Union's Orions).

Please tell us about the "extensive inspections" that were conducted by Sandia Labs last year- because no one that I know of within the federal wildland agencies has ever seen the final report associated with those inspections. It would be interesting to see what we spent all that money on.

The DC-7s are fine aircraft, but even fine aircraft get old. Retardant is a highly corrosive material and inspite of the best maintenance possible, it's unlikely that one could ever clean it off of every critical surface of an aircraft that was never designed to deliver it.

All the best,
Dr. Gumby
5/30 Ab, didn't see where the AT board is so I trust you to put this in the right place...

AT pilot's wife

> They have stated that the Airtankers are only 20% effective.

Negative. What the report says is "During the past 3 years, airtankers delivered about 20% of all the suppressant (retardant, foam and water) used on fires." That statement does not pass any judgment on the "effectiveness" of them. I have yet to hear anyone suggest that air tankers can be replaced completely with type 1 helos.

On another note: Hilarious! www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0530B1-talker30.html

OD

5/30 Dear Ab,

Re: R5 Pita's post on Pavement Queens, a few years back I was with my CDF Fire crew on the second day of a large urban interface fire in Southern Cal. It was about noon and HOT! We were up on a ridgeline which the fire was just cresting. On the opposite side of the ridge from the fire, and about 600 feet (hoselay distance) below, was a local agency structure protection strike team. They were actually in lawn chairs and in their tee-shirts. A homeowner was bringing them drinks and snacks. I know because I was watching them as I repeatedly tried to get ahold of them on the Tac net with no luck. I shouted and whistled at them to send up a hoselay, and they glanced up a couple of times, but that was it. The flame lengths were at least ten feet, and they could not have missed that there was active spreading fire up where we were....... Eventually an LA County Crew Strike Team showed up and with their help, fighting hammer-and-tongs for a couple of hours, we stopped the spread there and lined it out. The structure guys down below really seemed to enjoy the show, as they re-oriented their lawn chairs so they could watch.

From my 33 years experience wildland firefighting, I know that any wildland agency firefighters would have kicked ass getting a hoselay up there, and have been able to do it without neglecting their primary assignment (this local agency ST had at least four firefighters per engine).

CDF Mike in Arroyo Grande (retired last September)
5/30 All this talk about air tankers is making me want to puke. Air Tankers are Unsafe, Air Tankers are Ineffective, Air Tankers are the Best Thing Since (fill in the blank). Has anyone asked the pilots if they think their airplanes are safe? I guess that would be like asking Evil Knevil if motorcycles are safe.

Air Tankers and all other types of aircraft have been crashing since they first started flying for what ever reason, mechanical, human error, etc.

There is a bronze plaque at the Redmond Air Port that commemorates a whole group of Air Tanker company people that died in a transportation accident that did not involve fighting fire it crashed back in the 60’s or 70’s.

I have said this before. The tax paying people of the United States need to wake up, tell the government to quit launching billions of dollars up into space get the smart guys at NASA to do something useful and build a safe effective and dare I say unmanned air tanker. We have Predators over in Iraq flying around dropping bombs and spying on our enemies, why not have some thing like those working fires where it is too dangerous to send humans. Priorities, Priorities, Priorities.

Happy Memorial Day everyone lets remember those who have died fighting for our freedoms or serving as public safety officers. And honor those who are doing it now as well. God Bless them all.

DM
5/30 air tanker thread:

www.neptuneaviation.com/Neptune%20Bulleted%20List.pdf

yactak
5/29 I agree with SS, those of you looking to get into the Fed wildland agencies, don't just focus on the USFS and R5, particularly if you are looking at entry level seasonal jobs. While I think the USFS in R5 has arguably the "best" fire program (don't argue, its just my opinion and I'm narrow minded, I don't mean offense to the other programs) as a seasonal, I think you are best off anywhere but R5.

My experience has been that seasonals in the other regions get many more opportunities. When I started out in R5 I was willing to come in during the winter for free to get some classes to further my career, couldn't do it, none of the seasonals I knew could. In other regions it doesn't seem to be an issue, I saw many seasonals getting paid (AD) to go to classes. I don't have personal experience with the other agencies but again from those I've talked with the USFS, R5 is about the bottom of the barrel for bringing up their seasonals, the BLM and NPS in California seem to do a decent job of getting their people up the chain, but the USFS in R5 seems to rely on the crap shoot of the JAC. Despite the media attention and some attitudes, the other regions do get fires so you will see plenty of action pretty much anywhere you go (plus anywhere has to be cheaper to live than CA).

Understand I mean no disservice to the USFS or R5, I still think it is at the top for firefighting and I miss it every day but payday, but at the entry level, it leaves something to be desired.

Fedfire
5/29 The FWFSA website has been updated with news from the recent trip to Washington D.C.
It's time for all you federal wildland firefighters to join. www.fwfsa.org

-Tonka
5/29 FWFSA Goes to Washington

Recently, representatives from the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association traveled to Washington on yet another lobbying trip to educate congressional members on H.R. 2963, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act (the portal-to-portal bill) and to receive confirmation from the House Civil Service Subcommittee that hearings on the bill have been promised for July of this year.

Recently on "They Said," FWFSA Business Manager Casey Judd posted an e-mail from a congressional staffer who had the audascity to suggest that our federal wildland firefighters do not deserve to be paid while sleeping and eating "free food." As a result of Casey's "call to arms" on the site, the staffer got an earful from many of you across the country.

Always looking to "educate" someone, Casey and FWFSA crew's first DC appointment was with none other than Mr. Frank Gladics, the staffer who questioned the need for portal to portal pay. Ironically, according to Mr. Gladics, he once was a federal wildland firefighter.

Thanks to the outpouring of e-mails to Mr. Gladics and FWFSA's "education", Mr. Gladics became a supporter of our issues rather promptly and agreed to assist us on the Senate side if a Senate bill is introduced.

FWFSA came away from Washington with a number of new supporters and cosponsors on the legislation. In addition, they are continuing to work with Senators Feinstein and Domeneci for a senate version of the bill.

FWFSA also sought time with representatives of the Forest Service so as to let the Agency know in no uncertain terms, that the portal-to-portal issue was not going to go away, that the FWFSA had the ear of congress on the issue and that it (FWFSA) hoped it could find a way to "work with" the Agency, rather than against, on bringing these benefits to our federal wildland firefighters.

The FWFSA met with Mr. Denny Truesdale and received some semblance of an understanding as to where the Agency's concerns were. However, Mr. Truesdale agreed with an awful lot of what the FWFSA representatives had to say about the issues. Additionally, Business Manager Judd and Association President Mike Preasmeyer are scheduled to meet with Region 5 Forester Jack Blackwell next week to discuss a variety of issues, including portal to portal pay and classification .

The trip was a success, however we all must be mindful of how slow the wheels of congress work. The FWFSA has laid the foundation for significant support on the issues affecting all of you, but we need your help.

A reminder to FWFSA members and those considering membership...we are currently in the process of mailing out hundreds of letters to our members to ensure adequate contact information given the fact the fire season has begun.

The FWFSA is in the process of working with vendors to create professional membership cards and provide its members with other FWFSA goodies. To that end, we'd like to use this forum to encourage all members, and those who want to become members, to contact Business Manager Casey Judd either via e-mail at FWFSAlobby@aol.com or office phone at (916) 515-1224 to provide accurate information on your mailing address, phone number and any other pertinent contact information.
5/29 Jason,

SS is right, don't give up. Keep looking into the other agencies in R-5. Around August start going back the fire stations and talking to the captains. Some of their firefighters return to school and they need to fill those positions for the rest of the fire season. I have known many firefighters who worked the last two months of the season and then came back at the beginning of the following season. The fire season really heats up in September around Southern Cal when the Santa Ana winds blow into town. The best thing you can know is not to give up. If you want a job in firefighting, you have to be willing to fight for it. Trust me it will pay off in the end. Good luck.

Firenorm
5/29 RE: Gleason

I too had the good luck to work with Paul on wildland fires and Rx fires early in my career. He was as interested in the rookies as he was in the overhead, perhaps even more so. My regret is an echo of so many others. I wish I had learned MORE from him.
JJ

5/29 Jason,

I know you're disappointed that you didn't get hired by the USFS in R5, BUT THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER JOBS OUT THERE!!!! The consent decree only affects the Forest Service, and only in region 5. That means that USFS jobs in all other regions are still open to you. Jobs with the BLM, NPS, and Fish and Wildlife in ALL regions, including region 5, are also open to you. It's a little late in the game, but get on USA Jobs and apply for some other jobs. The consent decree won't last forever, and you will be much further ahead if you get some experience somewhere else rather than holding out for that dream job.

I have worked in region 5, and when I did, I was guilty of the "region 5 is the only real region" ego booster. Trust me, just being in region 5 doesn't make it a good program, and there are great programs in all agencies and all regions. If you're new, getting any experience you can is the most important thing.

SS
5/29 Thanks for all the good wishes, everyone. Life is really good, rich, full of love. I walk, I rest, I pull some
weeds one handed, I read theysaid. KRS and others, Paul Gleason included, continue to inspire me.
Last year I started a memorial website for Paul, tracking down some of the materials on the web
relating to his life. I plan to get back to finish that when able. Karen has some additions to incorporate.
Here's the link: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/gleason/memorial.htm

I hope everyone has an inspiring and safe Memorial holiday.

Mellie

5/29 Abs,

First hope Mellie is getting better, and even though this is my first time writing I have been an avid reader for
some time now. Thanks for having this forum for everyone.

Second, I was wondering if you could help me out. I have been trying to take the philosophy of Mr. Gleason
to heart and be a student of fire. However, I have had no luck in finding a place where I could research and
learn from past incidents. I was wondering if there is a site or something where someone could go to really
take part of Lessons Learned.

BG

You probably know about the Lessons Learned and the Leadership websites. Readers, any other resources on past incidents? Ab.
5/29 Dr Gumby... Please understand!! Yes we might need new Aircraft, but the Airtankers we had until May 10th are airworthy. They went through extensive inspections last season. Also one company had the accidents, yet no one on the BRP, or the NTSB contacted that contractor nor their pilots. The NTSB thought that the C-130's and PB4Y's were still flying. Did not know they were grounded after the accidents. They just lumped all the contractors together. As for the DC series they sure were built to last... No wing failure in history in the DC series. This is totally political. Some in management want to see all the heavy airtankers replace with Type 1 helicopters. They have stated that the Airtankers are only 20% effective. My husband is an Airtanker pilot. I trust the company he works for and have never.... never!!! been worried about the wings falling off. Why because I totally trust the company he works for (Aero Union) and his ability!

QUESTION TO ALL YOU FIREFIGHTERS????

Do you know who <snip> is????????

AT pilot's wife

Anyone who wants to jump into the AT name calling, feel free to go on over to the AT board and do it. Please read their posting policy first. Ab.

5/29 FYI,

Asked to post this message: New California chapter of NWSA. For information, contact:

JimWills@Firestormfire.com or
Woodsfire@msn.com

Stu
5/29 awww SoCaLFF, sorry to rile ya! was only poking fun at past years stories - when OES strike teams left their home turf to protect structure in another state during a major rager. if no action, they unloaded the lawn chairs (read the archives; it happened). Surely if it's acceptable to gently use funny terms.
Wildland Fire Terms to describe Fed FFs, etc. why not coin a new phrase to describe the pavement queens?
lighten up, we know there is a big difference between wildland fire and the daily hazards faced by those who respond to a 911 call.

<< still waiting for someone to address the disparity of passing the boot in fire camp vs at the local government level.

diff topic. comment re. "passed on by SoCal CDF":
If R5 doesn't choose to get on the ROSS bandwagon they are shortsighted (or are the Feds considering a CA RIMS cross over for resources?)
Heard months ago that MIRPS was being introduced as a state tool; now ROSS. my my my, maybe last fall's so-cal firestorms' lessons learned will make a difference & we'll all be on the same page someday. any R5er wanna guess how SEMS will fair?

MIRPS, ROSS, SEMS, RIMS: my mind is reeling with all the acronyms.... gonna go do some light reading, just got my hands on a bootlegged copy of the BRC's rept to the governor. it's 5/8" thick; the pulp tree industry must be alive & well

be safe & sane this Memorial Day weekend all. never forget what Memorial Day is all about

R5 PITA

I do believe the informational post indicates that all are on the same bandwagon. Both MIRPS and ROSS began in R5. Sometimes it takes a while for this stuff to shake out. Kudos to those doing the hard work. Ab.
5/28 Tankergypsie-

Nothing sounds better to me than the sound of those radial engines coming in on final. My bacon has been saved many times by some brave, nameless, half crazed firefighting aviator diving a DC-7 into a hellhole that most normal aviators wouldn't fly a piper cub into. Having said that, my 27 years of wildland firefighting can no longer allow these fine people to hang their lives out that far in the name my tactical plan. While I know that most air tanker pilots would gladly accept the risk to do what they love, I have seen some pretty boneheaded uses of airtankers over the years. This was not the fault of the contractors. The contractors were going above and beyond the call of duty to please some witless blabbermouth who happen to have a portable radio and the right frequency. Bottom line- lets do it right.

Demand new air tankers now.
It will be painfull for awhile I know, but no less painfull than watching the wings fold in on some nameless bastard trying his/her best to deliver retardant to the groundpounders below.

Dr. Gumby
5/28 Some info on ROSS-MIRPS
From Lessons Learned Center: www.wildfirelessons.net/Library/News/MIRPS_ROSS_article.doc
NWCG on ROSS: http://ross.nwcg.gov/

Hi Everyone!

Yesterday, CDF held the CA ROSS Evaluation Collaborative Meeting with CA Wildland Fire Agency Management to make a decision on the implementation of ROSS in CA. Attendees were:
Ray Quintanar - FS
Ron Raley - FS
Julie Vogan - FS
Doug Waggoner - BLM
Sue Husari - NPS
Jose Merjil - BIA
Jim Wright - CDF
Ray Snodgrass - CDF
Ernylee Chamblee - CDF
Rich Green - CDF

The following decisions were made:

  1. Federal CA agencies will implement ROSS by May 1, 2005
  2. CDF will implement ROSS no later than January 1, 2006
  3. An Interagency Transition and Implementation Plan will be written and completed this summer
  4. The CREW (Core Members) will stay in tact to work on:
    • Cost Share Agreement for items needed requiring funding for all agencies (for T1 lines, etc.)
    • Research & Complete Connectivity Process from NITC to GACCs & SAC (T1 lines)
    • Service Level Agreements
    • Establishing Federal & State (2 positions) participation on the ROSS Change Board
    • Establish CA ROSS Training Plan
    • Process to utilize ROSS data for customization of reports (such as Governor's Report, etc.) & back-up for a CA database
    • Work with ROSS Team on input from Altaris & WILDCAD interface properties & compatibility, when funds are (final) approved for the generic ROSS-CAD Interface
  5. CDF will internally discuss the need for a dedicated CDF ROSS Implementation Coordinator
  6. A Letter of Intent will be distributed to units under the CWCG Letterhead (& signatures) outlining these decisions
On another note, Ray Q. has agreed to let the (forest) ECCs that want to voluntarily use ROSS to process out of state orders this year on these conditions:
  1. They MUST go through the normal ordering channels/organization, so GACCs know what is being committed. No wiggle room here.
  2. Protocol must be set up on how to do this so it is happening in the same manner (GACCs need to establish some basic Business Practices from GACC to ECC for this summer)

There were a few forests that desired to use ROSS as a practicing tool in filling out of state orders. NOT all ECCs have to do this. If you have a desire to do it, contact your GACC and let them know. I think this will ready us for implementation and use the training that has been accomplished.

There are still many decisions to be made & researched for the items listed above. The decision yesterday allows us to move forward in starting the process of implementation. I know you may have other questions but all will be known in due time!

Thanks to everyone for helping ROSS happen in California!

passed on by SoCal CDF

5/28 good evening,

just wanted to say hello from new jersey, my sister lives in sepastopol (however you spell it ) and i guess knows you or of you and told me about your website, I am a volunteer firefighter in woodbridge, (new jersey) and have to say cool website so........"Cool Website" take care keep up the good work and remember sail fast and live slow.

Mike

Welcome, Mike. Ab.
5/28 Huey and others-

No matter how much people whine and complain
(including Evergreen), the 747 will not be used (at
least not anytime soon). Because like the rest of the
tankers, it was not manufactured for the sole purpose
of delivering retardant. If you have not paid
attention to why we aren't using them, this is one of
the big reasons.

Also, if people haven't heard, up here in Alaska we
have been approved for severity funds to bring in two
of the CL-215's...I don't think we have secured them,
but we are in negotiations....

It's no big deal not having the AT's, we'll just either
chase bigger fires, or not go after them all and let
things burn like we do up here in Alaska.

-AKFSS
5/28 As an R-5er, I hope all USFS stations and other Fire
Stations across this state and country remember....

Something that is not commonly known or often forgotten
is what we are required to do as we raise our US Flag
every Memorial Day. In light of this past year and
continued difficult times we are having in Iraq and
Afghanistan, I hope all Station Managers/Captains
working this coming Monday remember to pay tribute to
those soldiers no longer with us. If you think back 200
years, where would we be without their sacrifice.

UNITED STATES CODE
TITLE 36, CHAPTER 10

175. Position and manner of display

(m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first
hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to
the half-staff position. The flag should be again
raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On
Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff
until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.

www.usflag.org/us.code36.html#36

Sincerely,
"We will never forget"

5/28 R5 PITA,

Lawnchair riders wow that's pretty good, but I do take offense to that statement. Well, being a former fed and R5er and now working for CDF/Riverside Co. Fire I think that is an ignorance and neglect on your part of not being properly informed about other depts. My thing is that you need to show tolerance and if your a supervisor its important that you do not reflect your beliefs to your crew. We all have folks on in both of our depts. That do not represent us well. Now that I work there I have worked with some excellent fireman who are "on there game" and have seen more of the world in the inner city than I would have in some shack up next to the foothills waiting for a fire raking rocks to stay busy! The reason why some of those folks are riding a lawnchair or sitting is they may have been up since midnight running calls and are now on a fire, if you think its easy I offer you a ride out exper. that will change your life and outlook on it!

SoCaLFF

5/28 WA Interagency Incident Management Team 2
Incident Commanders - Rex Reed/Bruce Holloway
www.WA-IMT2.org
NEWS RELEASE

WA-IMT2 Establishes Internet Presence

Washington State - May 27, 2004 -- The Washington Interagency Incident Management Team 2 (WA-IMT2) now supports their own Team website for public view. Over the last year, members of the WA-IMT2 have been exploring ways to expand their services to those communities they serve during wildfire assignments. "Today's technology provides us the opportunity to better communicate with the many residents, business owners and other agencies we serve over the summer months," says Incident Commander Bruce Holloway, one of two Commanders for the team.

The website has been created not only to provide information to the local community, but to the general public who has always had an interest in fire and the devastation it can often cause. The WA-IMT2 website will include current fire assignments, team photos, public and firefighter safety information, and links to other local, state and national situations. In addition, the site will have all-risk information related to home fire safety, emergency preparedness, and terrorism.

Many Incident Management Teams have their own team websites. This is just one of the many tools used to communicate with the general public and certainly would never replace the use of media outlets and community advisory meetings during a catastrophic incident. It does give the property owners or interested parties another avenue to gather information. During last year's assignments, the WA-IMT2 found that even some of the most remote locations made use of internet access. "We believe the website aids our team in fulfilling the needs of the community, agency administrators and supports our mission in serving the Pacific Northwest Region. Both Bruce and I are excited we can begin to provide this additional resource," said Incident Commander Rex Reed. For more information on the new website, contact Rex Reed, Department of Natural Resource Southeast Region at (509) 925-0968 or Bruce Holloway, Spokane County Fire District 3 at (509) 235-6645, Incident Commanders for the Washington Incident Management Team 2.

Josie Williams - Lead Information Officer
WA Incident Management Team 2

Thanks Josie, I added your link to the Type II Teams page. Ab.
5/28 Ab et all,

The tests of Evergreen's 747 look great in light of the recent updates in
the AT drama. The only thing that I would have concerns with is the turn
around time to reload. There would have to be a massive bank of pumps,
nearly unlimited water, and a small army to reload that behemoth. Why
don't the powers that be look at building up a fleet of CL-215 and CL-217
platforms? They have a very short turn around time and a good safety
record. Just my $.02 as I see things from the ground in my little Type VI.

Huey
5/28

Grand jury says San Diego County command center operated poorly during fires -- Seven months after the devastating October firestorms, San Diego County's grand jury has announced it agrees with the observations of many North County residents and officials ---- that the county's emergency operations center did a poor job of disseminating information about the disaster to the public. The 14-page report released Tuesday also said the grand jury determined that the federal Emergency Alert System was an inadequate tool to warn the public about catastrophes such as the wildfires, and urged county supervisors to look for new warning systems such as the "reverse 9-1-1" system the board voted to buy in March. Gig Conaughton in the North County Times -- 5/27/04

On another topic:
60 listings on the CLUB 52; good MEMORIAL DAY beginning!

Where are the hellprincesses, engine slugs, dozer dusties, camp kids, etc. Wildland Fire Terms gonna be outdone by the dirt darts, desk jockeys and grey bears?
< wants to see CDF/OES lawnchair riders pass the boot & get on the buggy!

R5 PITA

5/27 Ab, After reading New Mexico's Governor Richardson
Statement on the Air Tanker Situation
http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20040526_126.html,
I felt compelled to write to him and educate him. Feel
free to do so yourselves
www.gov.state.nm.us/constituentcontact.html

The only way to change a politician's mind is to let
them know how we feel.

JS
5/27 Good afternoon,

Just to let you know, the picture listed as the "Rolling Fire" in the Fire 22
picture page is actually the Chisholm Fire from 2001 in Alberta. I spent a
month on that fire, some great behavior.

Another Canuck Firefighter

I added a note on the description page. Ab.
5/27 >From what I see and hear......the air tanker issue boils down to:
Concern over air-worthiness of current fleet has resulted in decision to not use them.
The air tankers are a valued, effective tool.
No tool is appropriate for all projects.
We want to keep our people safe.
So.....let's continue to support the air tankers as valued, needed tools,
but let's help Congress understand that we need a modern fleet of aircraft,
not continue to utilize fatigued military surplus.

Hutch,
I painted the "duck" on the back of my Filson vest in '73. Learned a
bunch about fire, and a ton about safety, teamwork and trust. Wouldn't
take a million dollars for that experience, and at my age wouldn't give a
dime to do it all again.

Old Fire Guy
5/27 I think alot of people are missing the point about the AT's.

I don't think that many here disagree that the current fleet has been allowed to age well beyond what it should have been, and that too many tankers go down each year in part due to the age of the fleet. My concern is the apparent lack of concern shown by the agencies. If you go back to some of the first posts you will find a quote from an agency rep stating (roughly) that the loss of AT's is nothing to be concerned about, they are just one tool and can be replaced with others, nothing about the possibility of greater acres burned, or higher costs due to larger fires, or safety issues for the ground pounders who are losing the support of the large fixed wings, or safety issues resulting from other aircraft being jammed into the AT role. I don't criticize the agency for dropping the contracts since they determined that it was a safety issue, but what are they thinking by passing this off as nothing more than being short some shovels this year?

Several people seem to show some ignorance to what it is AT's do

Yes Dozers can put in better line, but they are slow, limited by terrain, and it is not wise to stick them right at the head of the fire. They also don't do anything to retard the fire allowing resources to close on the black.

Helicopters are nearly as fast but don't carry the same kind of load, for comparison try taking a 1" line into a structure fire, now try it again with a 2.5", the application rate is key, not just the total water applied. 250 gallons applied in one minute will leave you with a blackened room, the same applied over 10 minutes will find you washing off the foundation. Even the biggest helos only carry 1/3 to 1/2 the load of a tanker, plus lets not forget how old those Skycranes and Chinooks are, anyone notice how many Marines died in CH46's due to mechanical failure, those 46's are roughly the same age of those 47's and had USMC logistics supporting their maintenance, not a company with limited resources.

AT's provide rapid deployment of "scratchline" faster than most other resources can even reach the fire.
They also have very little concern for topography (if you've ever seen a P3 dropping downslope in the Kern canyon you will understand there are few places they can't go) and have the nearly unique ability to safely attack the head allowing all those flanking or indirect resources time to complete their jobs.

For those claiming the AT's just make others stand around while they work, AT's are not intended to directly support the ground pounder, helo's do that job much better. AT's keep the fire at bay allowing ground pounders to get up close and personal or time to get the heck out of the way of the fire when things don't go right.

Anyone who thinks this will stop with the heavy AT's better look at the other resources out there, the helo's safety record might be looked at, certainly more ff are killed in helo's than engines, and the helo fleet isn't exactly full of spring chickens. Air ops by their nature are more hazardous than ground ops. This year AT's, next year no SJ's and rotor heads? I wouldn't wait for the agency spokespeople to speak up for these programs.

The agencies should have been honest and upfront, the grounding of the AT fleet is going to cost money and acreage and there is nothing out there that can do the job of a heavy AT. Money is needed now to outfit a modern purpose built fleet of AT's or the public needs to accept larger fires and losses in the interface. It looks to me like years and years of neglecting to tell the public what it is that the USFS, BLM, NPS, F&WS, BIA and the other ABC's of federal wildland fire I am leaving out has come home to roost, nobody seems to care because the government is telling them it doesn't matter.

Fedfire

5/27 Ab --

Received a message today from Prineville Hotshot Superintendent Lance Honda that one of his crewmembers, Matt Taylor, is battling an aggressive cancerous tumor. His physician gave a prognosis of six months to one year to live. At present Matt is undergoing chemo therapy and doing what he can to fight the cancer. His chemotherapy costs $2200. 00 a month. His insurance company is only willing to cover half of that expense. In addition he has incurred further medical expenses that his GS-5 salary does not come close to covering.

The Prineville Hotshots are instituting a donation account with Bank of America to help allay the cost of his chemotherapy and the rest of his medical expenses. The account number with B of A is 2884010802, and if you are in another state you can go to your local B of A and use the following account number: OR2-134-01-01 to make your deposit. Matt has been married for less than two years and has one child, Jordan, one year old. Any amount not matter how small will be very helpful and appreciated very much.<end>

A posting on your website, if it isn't already on there someplace, will be appreciated.

Brian B

We posted this already, but here it is again for those that missed it. Also check the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Ab.

5/27 Way to go OD, finaly someone sane and realistic. All others stop whinning, old things do wear out and break. Think of alternatives, new options, future. No life is worth even one big $$$ contract.
sunny
5/27 OD,
I think it would be safe to assume the 2 airtankers that lost their wings in flight were indeed found unsafe by the NTSB when they investigated the crash, however nothing I've read in the news about the NTSB report claimed that the rest of the tankers in the fleet were unsafe. From what I have read, the whole issue isn't that they are unsafe, just that the NTSB concluded that the Fed agencies contracting the airtankers are ultimately responsible for insuring their airworthiness. It's my understanding that the contracts were cancelled, not because the planes were deemed "unsafe", but simply because the contracting agencies simply don't have the technical expertise or equipment necessary to adequately inspect the remaining tankers to a degree that they feel comfortable accepting the liability of having them in the air. >From what I have read, some of the airtankers in question (Neptunes fleet was mentioned in one news article out of Missoula) have been inspected in the past by the FAA and were found safe.

I was talking to one of my relative's last night that has been involved in aircraft maintenance with the Air Force for approximately 20 years, and was told there are ways to basically X-ray the entire aircraft to verify if there are any hidden structural problems or not. This would answer any questions about the structural integrity of the airframes, but the FS and BLM obviously can't just run out and buy that type of equipment today and expect to operate it proficiently with a 2 day training class.

One question I have about the NTSB's findings, would be that since the contracting agencies are responsible for inspecting the tankers and ensuring they're "air worthy", wouldn't that same responsibility apply to all aircraft contracted? It seems to me that we seem to lose rotor wing aircraft quite a bit more often on fires, than the large airtankers. If the agencies can't certify the safety of the airtankers, how could they possibly certify the safety of the Helo's?

I hope the agencies and FAA come up with some type of inspection process to clear up the concerns with the fleet. If the planes are found safe, the firefighters on the ground really need them available when the fire's are heading towards communities, to at least slow the advance enough to give us a fighting chance at saving something. Those that don't pass the safety inspection should certainly be grounded, but take action on a plane by plane basis, not a blanket action. I do agree it is also time to look into at least newer model aircraft with less flight time on them (possibly something designed from day one for firefighting/bomber duty), but until something newer and more efficient becomes available, I'm sure most firefighters on the ground would appreciate having these valuable tools back in our toolbox again.

John
Ab, Sorry this was so long.
5/27 The Lassen NF is looking to fill a squad boss position on a 10 person IA handcrew. Check the jobs page for details. Ab.
5/27 Yactak,

> So I guess having been in the presence makes you an A&P, structural engineer and all around expert on aircraft.........HMMMMMMM???

Well, if you are going to claim that I am not in a position to have the opinion that they are unsafe I would like to know how YOU or NMAirBear are in the position to claim they ARE safe. Perhaps I am mistaken and one of you are a structural engineer. But unless that is the case, I would have to say that we are in the same position -- having to fall back from our own opinions onto those of the experts.

So far, the experts (the NTSB) have deemed them unsafe (not a surprise since a study in the early 90's said this was coming). So I ask you: what puts you in a position to claim they are safe? I'm not saying that EVERY heavy tanker is unsafe, but I think we definitely need some new machinery if we are going to be putting people on them and flying them over the public as well as our firefighters. (Have you been on one of those things? And sorry if you don't like having them referred to in that way, but its not like they are sensitive about it.) I recently read a letter written by a family member of a tanker pilot who died in a crash thanking us for taking that step to keep our people safe. Now I ask you, how can you tell those people that we have done the wrong thing? Learn to live without for the time being.

E,
I liked your post. Let's move on and do what we can. And I sincerely hope that we do NOT bring back contracts for planes that have been deemed unsafe BY THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION BOARD!!! Let's get some new equipment in there or at least ones deemed worthy of flight by the FAA. Till then-we'll do the best we can without them.

Be safe everyone,
OD

5/27 Jason,

How did the FSA interview go? You might get a call from them depending on how that went. ? I know that I have developed that co-dependant relationship with the mailbox waiting for the County results.
'Sides, you should look at this as an opportunity to take classes and make yourself a more viable candidate. Education isn't everything though, you can also volunteer with the Feds, check out the web site.
If it's your dream, keep visiting stations and looking for that "in".

Ab- Please forward my addy to Jason if you would be so kind.

TheSquirrel-(inthesameboat)
5/27 OD,

As a long time R5 ATGS, OSC2, DIVS and Hotshot, I feel your post regarding the Airtanker Industry is way off base.

You say you have "actually been in the presence of those things (airtankers)". So I guess having been in the presence makes you an A&P, structural engineer and all around expert on aircraft.........HMMMMMMM???

Have you talked to one of the pilots or mechanics of "those things" as to whether or not they are airworthy and capable of performing the firefighting mission? Or have you taken the word of the current FS Aviation Managements "spin doctor" half truths, untruths and unsaid political agendas to formulate your denouncement of a viable partner to the ground troops in fighting wildfire?

As NMAirBear stated in an earlier post,

“The solution is not to get rid of airtankers; they are a safe, efficient, and cost effective tool that has been proven almost worldwide. Like every tool, their use is not without risks. The solution is to break the chain (swiss cheese anyone?) of risk that we can control by intervention in the faulty process of procurement and/or maintenance of non-airworthy airtankers. New airtankers (long term) or at least new inspection procedures of what we have (short term, these things are still getting older) is the answer. Either will require intervention by the congress and will cost money. Also, the USFS/DOI will have to change contract requirements to favor awarding of contracts to operators with newer aircraft.”

The aerial firefighting pilots of these aircraft and the companies that employ them are and have been committed to supporting us the ground fighter in our annual battle with wildfire. Talk to any of the pilots….They will tell you (as you should have learned in Basic Aviation class) that they are there to SUPPORT the ground troops. That support at times comes in the form of rapid initial attack, holding fires in check, reducing BTU’s and buying time for ground firefighters to get the final lines in.

Obviously the airtankers have been glamorized over the years (as have aviation resources during wartime) and the publics’ perception is often that the retardant from the airtankers is the final blow to putting raging wildfires to bed. This is not the fault of the Airtanker Pilots or airtanker industry. This is our own poor information dissemination at work.

Please take the time to think of how many times you were supported by airtankers allowing us the ground folks to “hook the fire” and or save improvements and valuable natural resources.

NMAirBear,

I sincerely hope you are correct in your post that the heavy fleet will be retuning to us soon. My toolbox is not the same with half of it idle.

Yactak

5/27 I think the air tanker thing is silly. We all know that we fight fire with the tools we have not the ones we hope to have or could of had. I think we have been so used to seeing air tankers in the sky and they have always been there since before most of our time. However I feel we use them as a crutch, because they are so politically driven. People see air tankers and feel safe. Now air tankers are very good in some fuel models not all of them, and the fixed wings do have there place. The biggest hindrance with air tankers is that about the time the helicopters start to make head way on the fire they have to move out of the way so the tankers can make there drop. Some times they are good drops but not all the time. You could argue till your blue in the face about fixed wing vs. rotor wing, but the bottom line is this it will not be the end of the world if the air tankers do not come back. My personal feeling is that the air tankers will be back because politics will jack every thing up, just look at all the S*%t we have to put up with now.

E
5/27 Ab

If you want to add the CDF (Type 1) Teams to your Team Page, here is the southern Line Up
Team 6 George Haines San Benito/Monterey
Team 7 Gary Marshal Tulare
Team 8 Rick Henson San Diego
Team 9 Pat Kerrigan Madera-Mariposa
Team 10 Lee Winton Amador Eldorado

FC180

Thanks, I always scramble to find those to list on the fires of the season page. Ab.

5/27 I hear you jason

I also went to job fairs, visited stations, applied online, and paid for myself to get my s190,
s130, and i100. still no job. i even have fire experience. wildland and structure and emt. Its
a tough world out there if your skin is white. I also feel sorry for every "hispanic" firefighter
who have worked hard and deserve to be where they're at.

desperate and jobless
5/26 Mellie, I hope that things are getting better for you and that you're on the mend. My thoughts
and prayers are with you. Hang in there, we are a resilient sort and find ways to overcome
what befalls us.

Also Old fire guy, when did you wear the duck? did that myself several decades ago. I also
found a color shot of a fs engine in red as well as a couple old green and grays from a long
ago discussion here.

HUTCH

Scan and send in the photos - history, ya know... Ab.

5/26 I just read this article in which they quote our magnificent ::read with dripping sarcasm:: Governor Richardson tells the press that the Peppin could have been kept at “one acre” if we had air tankers and he is furious. http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20040526_126.html (Thanks for being so supportive there, Gov.) That’s interesting, I wonder how he became so all knowing. I think that it is safe to say nobody can possibly know that the Peppin would have been a “one acre” fire with the use of air tanker involvement.

Look, I’m getting pretty sick of all the whining and crying over air tankers. We are not using them because they are not safe so until we get some new planes in the works we aren’t using them. If congress and the governors want tankers they should pay for new ones. End of story. Let’s move on and come up with some solutions instead of talking about reinstating dinosaur pieces of equipment that nobody has any business flying. (I feel I can say that because I’ve actually been in the presence of some of those things and I’ll tell you that my first thought was that it took some very brave souls to pilot those archaic pieces of sky metal.)

Between that and all the rumors about it being an escaped prescribe fire (not true! not true!) we are facing a serious PR problem in the southwest.
OD
5/26 So I applied with all agencies on their opening dates. Visited stations. Talked to people.
Went to a job fair and still didn't get hired. My cousin's boyfriend applied mid-april used
his half hispanic ethnicity on his application and starts June 5th. Outside of applyin online
he went no further as to trying to get hired. I'm happy for him, but that just doesn't seem
right. What can you do though? Guess I'm stuck watchin another fire season on TV instead
getting to be there first hand and helping.

Jason

5/26 Mellie - I hope you are healing well. My thoughts and prayers were with you the
entire time. The crises is over and the time is here to adapt, adopt, heal
and be healthy. You know how I feel, my friend, and I know you know where to
focus. Be there now.

As for healing, can the fighting, name calling, callous belligerence, and
mindless energy be halted for just a second regarding all of the confusion
out on the ground. None of us can predict the future - the only future we
can predict is when we - on the fireline - begin to unravel and lose focus,
gain complacency - and look for others to blame.

People - we need to depend on each other to get us all through the next
phase, whether its political in Washington, burning hot on the ground, or
wearing thin at home (where it eventually manifests itself the most).
Remember - we are a community of diverse strength - and although we don't
always agree - none of us is as smart as all of us! Try having a "fire
storm" without any cooperators; is this what we need?

Meaningful, Mindful, Resilient, Respectful Communication. Choke your
badgering and keep focused on the mission and maybe, just maybe - one year
-
We'll all come home safely and in peace.

-- Ghostload.
5/26 I'm going to second NMAirBear & everyone else in recommending Bob Martin's post on the AAP Board. Seriously, even if you're not 100% up to speed on the issues facing aviation, it's a totally worthwhile read. Kudos to Bob.

Also, on a very different note, about Matt Taylor over @ Prineville IHC. I hear he was the life of the party on the fireline. Damn shame, and in fact a little scary when you sit back & think about it. In case you don't know what i'm talking about, Matt Taylor is a senior fire fighter on the Prineville Hotshots and he was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. So my question for those of you on IMTs- is there any way to pass the hat at fire camp? I mean, could you include a little note on the IAP "and don't forget to donate some money to the Matt Taylor fund" or something so that people on the lower levels will hear about what's going on with him and donate a few bucks into the hat. i mean, you do that @ a fire camp with 3,000 people and you're gonna make some real money. Just a thought.

-Nomad

Similarly with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. I hope they get their "Fire Camp Kiosk" up and running this season. A few bucks when we've made a lot seems like such a small way to help. Keep an eye out for those "hats" this season. Oh, and you can donate to Matt via the Foundation now if you want. Ab.
5/26 The Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 were updated.

Would everyone please check the Type I IIMT page and the Type II IIMT page? I have updated them to the best of my knowledge without resorting to phone calls. I think I have good info on the Type I Teams, but the Type II Teams except for R5, R1, R2 and R3 are more questionable. For example, I haven't changed ICs for the Washington and Oregon teams without websites and Alaska teams without websites.

Thanks very much for help in updating. These pages are always available via the Links page under Federal.

Ab.

5/26 AL,

My opinion is that there is no FS grand conspiracy to put AT companies out of business.

From everything I've read and heard, the WO was as blown away by the NTSB report as any of us.
Given the issues of legal liability and not having any way to do inspections, all the FS could do is cancel
contracts. (NTSB evidently didn't buy the Sandia Lab inspections or didn't know of them, WHAT?)

There's another chronology on the AT message board that lists some of the relationships between NTSB,
FAA and FS that helps clarify some of this...

Mellie

5/26 I just wanted to comment on the dozer issue. My father in law has worked in that area before and believes that the <snip> soft track machines could do the job and compared to our area, he doesn't think that it is as steep. Could be wrong, but I sure would like out machines put to that test just to see.

We are set up to climb a 60% grade with 1500 gallons of water and ground compaction of 6 LBs psi, remote control water canon and CAFS system. Would these be able to do the job??

Thanks!
SoftTrackMama
5/26 re: the airtanker and federal pay discussions

I highly recommend ordering the new documentary from NWCG's urban interface team. The title is, "Keeper of the Flame." You can get it from the Firewise website, just by paying for shipping.

I showed it to a homeowners' group a couple days ago as we prepare to update a community wildfire protection plan. It provides a great historical context for how our forests got to the mess they're in today, as well as some insight in how we can deal with it.

There's a great line in the video (borrowed from a Michael Creighton book) saying that we exclude fire because we can, but don't really ask if we should. NMAirBear makes a telling comment in the 5/24 post: "we have snuffed many similar fires over the years..."

We as firefighters can readily accept using the term "stupid zone" to define where people build their homes without modifying the surrounding wildlands. Maybe it also applies to those areas where we suppress year after year after year, without getting back in to burn it as a prescribed fire.

One radical solution I'd offer is to restructure the federal pay scale for a decent base rate, to reduce/eliminate the need for hazard and overtime pay on the fireline. I'm all for people making a decent wage fighting wildland fire, but prescribed fire suffers because some folks would rather just work the 3 or 4 month wildfire season for the big money.

But, then, I am a volunteer.

vfd cap'n
5/26 Nomad: I have read all of your recent posts and respect your opinion. I very much agree with your attitude regarding airtanker safety in your Tuesday night post. Many of those no longer with us were coworkers of mine.

Everyone interested in the airtanker issue: See Bob Martin's post on the AAP page that is linked in NorCal Tom's post below. It is timely, sage wisdom regarding the issue.

The problem of airtanker safety is one that began a long time ago. Contractors have always used older military surplus aircraft converted to airtankers. The military put these up for surplus it because they were old and in some cases because they were suspect as to their airworthiness. This procurement/retrofit process became industry-wide SOP because the USFS/DOI made it so. We/they just would not pay enough to make it worthwhile for operators to purchase new aircraft. The lowest bidder got the contract.

The key here is that some of these aircraft were suspect as to airworthiness to begin with and that aerial firefighting can be tough on airframes. Should we allow this unsafe situation to persist? I think not.

The solution is not to get rid of airtankers, they are an safe, efficient, and cost effective tool that has been proven almost worldwide. Like every tool, their use is not without risks. The solution is to break the chain (swiss cheese anyone?) of risk that we can control by intervention in the faulty process of procurement and/or maintenance of non-airworthy airtankers. New airtankers (long term) or at least new inspection procedures of what we have (short term, these things are still getting older) is the answer. Either will require intervention by the congress and will cost money. Also, the USFS/DOI will have to change contract requirements to favor awarding of contracts to operators with newer aircraft.

Some recently grounded or "cancelled" airtankers will not be back due to identified, non-correctible airworthiness issues. It is likely that soon, however, some of the currently "cancelled" fleet will be resurrected using stepped-up inspection processes by qualified inspectors. That will be good and will help mitigate somewhat a serious and immediate wildland firefighting efficiency problem in the short term. In the longer term we need to pressure legislators to upgrade the fleet to all new airtankers and to keep it that way thereafter. Do we not as wildland firefighters deserve the same level of funding as it relates to aircraft procurement as does the military? If we are interested in safety, efficiency, and cost effectiveness in wildland firefighting I certainly think so. See the AAP page for numerous ways to contact legislators or just write your congressman. Silence means status quo.

Shooter: Dozers are certainly a tool in our box but not in the Capitan Mountains where it is too steep and rocky. We otherwise often use dozers in this neck of the woods, often in combination with airtankers (same as everywhere else). The team on the Peppin Fire is certainly using dozers as applicable in line construction and structure protection.

Late night update on Peppin Fire: Latest mapping has it near 20,000 acres. Team estimates of final size range from 30,000 to 40,000 acres, most of the Capitan Range.

NMAirBear
5/26 Ab,

Thought some of the readers might be interested in this article about Neptune Aviation regarding the airtankers.

www.missoulian.com

AL
5/25 RE: Airtankers

We talk a big talk about safety in this business, and I think that grounding the federal heavy airtanker fleet was the most safety-conscious move that the Feds have made since they required people to carry fire shelters. Checklists, more & more watchout situations, abatement statements, etc are nice, but they're probably not going to make a huge difference in how we fight fire.

Grounding the heavy tankers that have proven to consistently kill people year after year- now that's a real step in the right direction. Look, i know it sucks. i like hearing the soothing roar of those guys over my fires too, but the fact of the matter is that they are simply unsafe. Did any of you who are complaining about the govt decision read the blue ribbon report? It's shocking that these things fly at all! It's a tribute to the people who maintained and operated the things.

I know that not having airtankers on fires is going to increase fire behavior and acreage, at least theoretically. Nonetheless, we can compensate for the lack of air support by changing our strategies and tactics, but there is simply no way for pilots to adequately compensate for flying unsafe aircraft. I suppose we could install ejection seats on all planes that encase the pilot several layers of nomex, but no one has offered that kind of engineering solution. See, there is an unknown potential risk to personnel by not having heavy tankers over a fire, but the risk of having them is and has been known for a while- and that risk is huge. Simply do the math folks, we can't be crashing one heavy tanker a year when there's only 40 in the whole fleet! We might as well have a russian roulette table for the aviation folks at fire camp.

Bottom line: The heavy airtankers we have now are not safe, and we're just going to have to live with their absence.

So rather than try to go backwards in time and try to get the resurrect a dead, dangerous, and decrepit fleet, why don't we take some steps in the right direction and try to get newer, safer planes flying over us in the years to come. In the short term, it's a damn shame not to have the heavies overhead. But in the long term, it'll be better for us all.

-The Nomad
5/25 Airbear said,

This massive fire is the direct result of the lack of heavy airtanker availability when it was under 400 acres. We have snuffed many similar fires over the years on the Lincoln in similar weather conditions when heavies were available.

How would a dozer work in your neck of the woods? A strike team of dozers could put in some serious line or at least ring the ranches that the fire is heading for. Think of the rehab work for the crews this fall. Maybe even think about using the new dozer line as fire breaks for next year. Just try to think outside the box.

crips triggers
shooter

5/25 Retired L.A.V.E: Thanks for the thoughts, particularly regarding the heavy airtanker situation. Imagine somebody taking away all of your type 3 and 4 engines and telling you to use Jeepsters with a 55 gallon drum and a shindawa instead. That is what it is like for us right now in the aerial firefighting business.

The Peppin Fire is now well over 10,000 acres after taking out the small community of Pinelodge. I do not know the number of structures destroyed but I would venture to guess about 15-20 primary and vacation residences. Now the fire threatens the community of Arabela at the east end of the Capitans and many outlying ranches. All of the land to the east of Arabela gets into lower cow country so it is much more defensible. It is unlikely the fire will make it anywhere close to the Pecos! (LOL)

The team had a very good day Tuesday of line prep for burnout. We finally had a mostly cloudy and less windy day. Fire spread was minimal after about 0500.

Of special note: The site where Smokey Bear was found is believed to have burned late yesterday. This is the first time that area has burned since that date which was May 8, 1950.

A: "Heavy Airtankers are a legacy of a bygone era". Not so in Canada, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, and Russia where they have found ways to fund contracts using new CL215/415's and BE200's. Would the be doing so if the tool was not effective? What has happened here in the richest country in the world is a case of letting inexperienced, misinformed, politically motivated bureaucrats make bad decisions and think they can get away with it. I certainly hope the resurrection of heavy airtankers does not have to wait for the death of firefighters resultant from failed initial attack. My current ATGS pilot is normally the Tanker 26 (formerly T01) pilot. Not a happy camper. He's pretty frustrated as most aerial firefighters are right now. This is no way to treat a fellow firefighter, a hero. Greed my A$$!

From NMAirBear (an old California boy lost in New Mexico)
5/25 If you really want to get the word out about the
effect of NOT having heavy air tanker support on fires
please communicate this to your Congressman and
Governor. Let the politicians know your experiences
with and without these tankers. They are the ones who
will be making the decision on whether or not this
industry is going to survive. Your support of the
heavy air tankers, and what you do on the ground, is
appreciated beyond words.

Wendie Waldman
Tankergypsie
5/25 Great post by Bob Martin entitled Finger Pointing on the AAP board:

http://airtanker.com/wwwboard/messages/10333.html

NorCal Tom

5/25 Did anyone see the directive that was supposed to come out on the helicopter long line extraction? Discussion thread was happening 6 weeks ago.

Todd
5/25 to any CDF'er
Does anybody know when or how many FF1 the San Diego unit will be hiring this season.
cdf hopeful
5/25 To A,

I hope your tongue was in your cheek when you say that the heavy airtankers are ineffective. It has been my experience that many times these beasts are the ones that keep the fire in check, until the ground pounders can get there and do their thing. See NMAirBear's recent post about the ineffectiveness of the SEATs and smaller helos. Sometimes it takes a heavy punch to knock the ire out of the fire.

Yes you are right that the present tankers are old, and expensive to operate. I don't want to see any more pilots, or firefighters die due to substandard equipment. However I do think that the fleet of airtankers needs to upgrade and new more modern ships brought on line, some how. As far as letting houses burn and evacuating people that is a strong statement to make. I am sure that there are a number of insurance companies that will not like that policy. Not to mention how outraged taxpayers would be at this policy. I live in an urban/interface environment and I work very hard at keeping my home as fire safe as possible. I know it could be a pile of ashes someday but if your policy takes hold I might as well burn it down myself and move to the big noisy, dirty, smoggy city and run the rat race with the rest of the slubs.

Ahhh So it goes.

Retired L.A.V.E.

P.S. NMAirBear - Try and stop the fire before it reaches the Pecos River from an Ole N.M. boy lost in California. Good Luck and keep safe! (the last is for everybody)
5/25 Here is some info on digital narrowbanding of Federal
radio systems. I still feel digital radio is not
reliable as analog for fire use and should not be
used.

Narrowband
Narrowband Exceptions

The mention of audio cutting out when a wideband
analog signal is fed into a digital radio operating in
narrow band analog, is caused by the way the Motorola
digital audio processing chip handles analog sound
levels.

When the chip receives a audio signal greater than it
is designed for it, it distorts badly and/or audio
shuts down completely. It has a really fast recovery
time after shutting off but sounds terrible.

For your info, all digital radio manufacturers have to
use a Motorola chip as they own patents on it and are
the only company that makes it. Motorola also has a
strong lobbying force in Congress. Big corporations in
bed with the government again?

COMT

5/25 KRS,

Good to see you are feeling well enough to travel and share some thoughts
and perspective with the Laguna IHC. Say hi to the superintendent for me.
I knew him back when we both wore the "duck".

Old Fire Guy
5/25 An update on the Snag Awareness "SoCal Tour"..

I'll be in Descanso, CA on 1 June talkin' to Laguna IHC at about
2pm. If you and your crew are in that zone and want to swing by,
if it's cool with them, it's cool with me.
So ask them (www.californiahotshotcrews.org/crewlaguna.htm)
and we'll see what happens.

Otherwise I'll be traveling back up through Nevada prolly on 2
June so if you're on the way (close to 395) and want me to stop by
I can do that.

I don't care what you are- BLM, BIA, CDF, we all take the same
risks, and this sort of thing applies to all of us.

Thanks-
KRS

Take KRS up on this great opportunity. Ab.
5/25 Wow! AB, watching this website's rapid evolution in recent years has been amazing - kudos for a fantastic job well done!

If readers/posters @ TheySaid have forgotten/overlooked the links provided here, suggest they take the time to surf. boggles my mind how many topics/issues can be found in the archives and classifieds, etc; plus WildlandFire News Page contains a link to hot-off-the-press fire news.
one stop shopping, who would have thunk it... :)

R5 Honey
5/25 Re: communications

I don't know why anyone would expect digital radios to be programmable at an incident. In my experience if it isn't a Bendix King you might as well leave it at home since that is all the radio tech can work with. Midlands are superior to the standard King mobile (Midlands are available with 100w Kings only 50w, I don't have a problem with Kings but I've used both and there were areas the Midlands worked great and the King not at all, none the reverse). Midlands have been used fairly widely by the USFS in multiple regions yet I have never been to a fire where the techs could program ours. Somebody needs to buy the COMT's programs for Motorola and Midland at a minimum, also a laptop, these radios are far to common to ignore.

As far as the 800Mhz these things barely work at home if you get out from the middle of town, every fire department in the nation that has any possibility of going on a wildland assignment away from home should have a Bendix King mobile in the cab and 1 or more Bendix King portables, it is stupid to expect CDF, USFS, BLM etc to spend the money to set up for a radio system that is completely inappropriate for use in the wildland environment (far to dependent on repeaters for even basic communication).

On the AT's I found it interesting how easily the overhead dismissed the capability of the fixed wings, yes fires can be fought without them but they are not replaceable by any other asset in the "tool box" more like when you leave your hammer at home and you make due by using a pipe wrench to drive nails, it can be done but it is much harder.

Mellie
sorry to hear you are not at your best, get well soon.

Fedfire
5/25 Observation: Wildland Firefighter Foundation's mail box isn't full to overflowing with contributions to the Club 52 yet....latest update was 5/24 and less than 40 contributors listed. We know that the USPS sends mail from R5 to Boise "round the horn"; why not call Vickie directly with a credit card number and ensure your donation goes 100% to this worthy cause?

Be safe all,
River
5/25 Heavy Airtankers are a legacy of a bygone era. No matter how many commentaries you hear from pilots, air resource contractors, and others who make their living off aerial firefighting resources, the fact of the matter is that these resources are antiquated, expensive and for the most part, ineffective. With the help of Congress and enabling legislation, the fire community at large needs to implement policy which will allow agency administrators to allow fires to burn, regardless of the few urban interface structures that may be burned in the process. Provide for rapid evacuation of residents and simply allow the fires to run their course. The savings to the taxpayer would be enormous. Problem is, too many people like the fire money - the oats - we are simply a greedy lot.

A
5/25 In regard to the message from The Princess of The Black Pearl to The Troops. You are right on Princess of the Pearl and I hope that those that read this board take heed. The world has changed for all of us in Wildland Fire Fighting with the cancellation of the contracts involving the 33 heavy airtankers. Tactics and Strategies will have to change. Safety will at times be at a premium due to the fact that aerial support will not be there when it is needed the most. Line production in remote areas by airtankers dropping retardant and not accessible by ground troops will not be accomplished as before. The list is long as to what has been taken away from you folks on the ground. Those of us in the air have taken pride all these years knowing we were helping you on the ground in any manner we could - we wanted to help you do "The JOB." Believe me, the feeling we get when we hear from you "great drop, just where we needed it, man that's what we really needed" is a feeling that we strive for everytime we showed up. The fight we are in now is not about jobs, it's about doing a job for you and putting fire out.

As The Princess of The Black Pearl said, read the AAP Airtanker Message Board. There are spots on the board that have listed where to contact Senators and Congressmen. Contact these folks and let them know what has happened to aerial fire fighting and the support that has been lost. Let your supervisors know, spread the word - it's for you.

Becareful out there bros.

Captain of The Ghost Ship.

5/24 From NMAirBear

The Peppin Fire is now about 10,000 acres. The fire began a major run at about midnight Sunday and has burned unabated to the east until late Monday night. Two small towns and many outlying ranches are now seriously threatened as the fire comes out of the Capitan Mountains to the north. The entire mountain range will likely burn.

The only air assets that have been tactically effective are the 1 heavy helicopter that we have. SEATs have only been useful on a very limited scale when winds permit and only on very short sections of line. They were grounded all day today due to winds. The heavy helicopter has succeeded so far in protecting a microwave and tower farm.

This massive fire is the direct result of the lack of heavy airtanker availability when it was under 400 acres. We have snuffed many similar fires over the years on the Lincoln in similar weather conditions when heavies were available.

Bateman's Northern Arizona IMT assumed command at 1800 Monday evening. They and many T1/T2 crews will try to establish an anchor point beginning Tuesday. Pack your bags and get ready to be really safe in a very dangerous environment as you may also be ordered to this one soon.
5/24 emt_mb

You asked a really good question:

"Is this new Digital Narrowband radio craze, which I assume is pushed by Homeland Security, going to cause problems with the C (Communications) in LCES?"

The digital narrowband craze was not created by the Dept. of Homeland Security. The FCC is requiring that we switch from wide band to narrow band. That way they can sell the frequencies in between, making more money while creating more radio spectrum. Many agencies have decided on their own to also switch over from analog to digital. There are many advantages to digital, which I won't go into here.

As long as a digital-narrowband radio has been approved by the NWCG, all Communications Unit Leaders should be able to program it at the Incident Base. If someone shows up with a radio the techs have never heard of, it's unlikely they will be able to program it. If the radio is field-programmable, the radio user should be trained to program it before they arrive at an incident. If it's not field programmable, it should not be brought to a large interagency incident. Don't depend on a radio tech being available to reprogram your radio. All new radios should be (better be) backward compatible, able to operate in analog OR digital mode.

But another question is interoperability between the radio frequencies commonly and traditionally used at large incidents and the new 800 MHz trunking system radios that many states and local organizations are transitioning to, such as Colorado, South Dakota, and many agencies in California. These are NOT compatible, and unless a person carries 2-3 radios, people can't talk to each other on emergency incidents. This is where the C in LCES is disrespected. The reviews after the 2003 fires in Southern California pointed this out very eloquently.

Jackson

5/24 For all the Communications folks out there:

DOI is buying new digital narrowband radios left and right. I know the Midwest Region of the
NPS already has them arriving at many parks.

These new radios include the Bendix/King DPH portable (which was purchased for fire programs
before it was even certified by Boise) and Motorola mobiles.

My question is this: With these and other approved radios coming into fire camp, will
Communication Units be able to program these different types to incident frequencies? What if the
mobile in my Type 6 engine can't be programmed by the COMT and my portables can't reach the
repeater or other personnel?

Is this new Digital Narrowband radio craze, which I assume is pushed by Homeland Security, going
to cause problems with the C (Communications) in LCES?

emt_mb
5/24 AB~>
Could you post this for me please?
Thanks-
KRS

Some of you have heard of me, some haven't. Long story short, I
was injured (made a paraplegic) by a snag while fighting an
arson fire in S.E. Kentucky on 31 Oct 2001. I'm now riding a
wheelchair for the rest of my life, unless some medical
procedure is invented. For more of the story, check out
http://krstofer.org

Anyway~>

A few years ago I was asked by Ron Marley (Fire Chief /
Instructor @ Shasta College) to do a little presentation on what
happened to me for his class. It's become a yearly event, and
this year a few of the Jumpers from Redding sat in. Next thing I
know, Redding IHC asked me to come over to give the presentation
as part of their snag awareness training. Then Tahoe asked me
to come out, so I did. Then Plumas asked. So I went up there.

Then I found out the Tahoe Supe sent the following out to most
of the crews:

On May 7th. We had KRS Evans from the Plumas Hotshots give a
presentation on snag awareness. It was good you could hear a
pin drop. I wrote him a $100.00 Govt. check charged it off to
training. KRS is willing to come to your station, his presentation
takes about 1.5 hrs. its a strong message it will make you and
your cutters more aware. KRS has a van that he drives around, he
doesn't ask for anything accept gas money. If you are interested
contact KRS
Rick

************************************
Rick Cowell
Hotshot Superintendent
Tahoe NF, Downieville RD
************************************

Shortly after that email went out I received a request from
Laguna IHC to come down. I plan to, but I'd kind of like to make
a tour if possible. Going to the Cleveland (From Chico, Ca) is a
bit far for me, and I don't want to receive a request to go to
(for example) Vegas or someplace shortly after I get back. I'll
go, but why make two trips?

So far the date for Laguna is undetermined, but as things gel
I'll have a better idea of when i'll be traveling in that
direction, and if any of you would like me to make a stop and
talk to your guys I'm more than willing. As Rick said, all I ask
for is gas money.

Anyone wishing to set up something can contact me on
http://krstofer.org/email.htm

Krstofer Evans

Good job on sharing your experience, Krs. Ab.
5/24 Hey Troops,
I am reaching to you folks that have the experience of working with tankers and understanding what a great loss the Air Tanker community will be to fire suppression. I'm not talking about your safety I'm talking about just putting the fire out, because that is all of our J-O-B. Any one who has been around knows how much a 2,000 to 3,000 drop of LC can do for you on the fireline.

What I am asking you to do........ is get on the air tanker message board and let the aviation world know that you "groundpounders" give a Sh__. You can make a difference ... and if you would like to see those guys over your fire again say something.... Lets give them some support!! The bottom line is we all have a job to do and we want to get it done as effectively, efficiently @ safely as possible. Let us stand as one and be the voice of the firefighting community, whether it be on the ground or in the air. ARRRRRRR...

The Princess of the Black Pearl
5/24 A safety zone has only 2 requirements.
1 It is large enough to sit out a fire run comfortably and
2 It can be reached in a timely matter.

A CDF Crew Capt.
5/23 NorCalTom & JustCurious:

In March 1999, while I was still at the USFS -MTDC, I did a Technical Report on Wildland Fire
Fatalities from 1990-1998 (www.fs.fed.us/t-d/php/library_card.php?p_num=9951%202808P)

It showed 19 fixed wing deaths (1 was Lead Plane pilot Henry Kim), and 4 rotary wing fatalities in
the 9 study years.

Since then, the NWCG Safety & Health Working Team report shows that from 1999-2003, another
13 fixed wing fatalities and 11 rotary wing fatalities occurred.

So, I ask you all: are 47 aircraft deaths in a 14 year period acceptable???

In the same 14 year period, our "big" burnover fatalities (Dude, Wasatch, GlenAllen, South Canyon,
Thirtymile and Cramer) totaled 30.

Dick Mangan

User name= t-d. Password= t-d.
5/23 From NMAirBear

The Peppin Fire moved about 4 miles to the east overnight Saturday night on the north side of the Capitan Range to the tune of about 2000+ acres. High winds and very poor overnight RH recovery in the thermal belt were major factors, not to mention major heat developed at the head of the fire late yesterday. Sundays growth was relatively minimal during the daylight hours. There is a major threat to an antenna farm and some threat to outlying ranches. Potential is for several more thousand acres to burn. A Southwest Type 2 team (Bateman) will be arriving Monday.

The Lookoout Fire also munched some more acres Sunday but containment is up to 40%.
5/23 Just Curious,

Unless I'm mistaken there have been about 40 AT related deaths since 1990.
I'd have to look up the MTDC/NWCG reports or on the AT Board. It may be
a few more than 40. On average that's more than 2.5 deaths per yr since 1990.

If you count all AT pilots and crew flying, you can come up with the percentage
that 2.5 is of the AT total. 200 is the number that represents the same percentage of
groundpounders. I didn't write down the total groundpounder numbers. I also
didn't record the total AT (pilots and crew) numbers. They must be out there
somewhere. I'll ask around.

NorCal Tom

5/23 Re: NorCal Tom,

Where did you get or arrive at the statistic you posted on 5/23? Were you including all ground
based firefighters? Night shift included? Since airtankers don't fly at night, the stats could be
skewed. Does it split out camp personnel? Dispatch or expanded dispatchers? Federal, State,
County, City, Private firefighters?

Just Curious.
5/23 Regarding AT cancellation of contracts:

I heard one statistic that made me cringe. 2 1/2 AT people die per year. If that was
translated into groundpounder deaths, it would be 200 groundpounders per year.
Unacceptable!

NorCal Tom

5/23 crispy triggers, I like your attitude!

OD
5/23 Okay Fuels Guy-
Give it your best shot (on determining the perfect safety zone) and let me know what you come up with.
Ol' Backburnfs offers some good points in his message to FC180.
I didn't require anyone to draw me a picture of what an appropriate safety zone was; even back when I was a pup (when Backburnfs was only as old as topsoil and not plain dirt).
So until you come up with the figures- error on the side of safety and use the hair on the back of your neck as a yardstick. Hair straight up means get the hell out of there fast.

With regard to airtankers- here our beloved agency administrators finally get the guts to take a real stand on safety and some people hammer them for it.

While not all air tankers need to be taken out of service, there are many that belong in museums.
If the military used the same logic that has prevailed regarding air tankers over the years within the Federal wildland fire service, then they would be using 1940's technology in Iraq right now. I say that the safety of wildland firefighters is at least as important as that of our military personnel.

I say that we demand an air tanker designed for the task- not some converted passenger aircraft that used to haul Charles Lindburg around.

Dr. Gumby Phd. (Professor of Handline Placement)
5/23 To All Federal Fire Crews-

This is a heads up for trying to fire replace items
using "S" #'s...

The following is a snipet from a May 11th, 2004 memo
from Hallie Locklear, Chair, of the Incident Business
Practices Working Team:

"Some organized crews routinely arrive at an incident
and provide the Incident Management Team with a
laundry list of items that need to be replaced. The
home unit originally provided these items through
preparedness funds and replacement due to normal wear
and tear should be accomplished using home unit funds,
not incident funds..."

What this sounds like is that the teams are going to
be more strict as to what fire crews try to get away
with in terms of fire replacing items. In talking to
a Supply Unit Leader on our local Type I team, he told
me that in their last meeting they specifically
addressed crews that show up and try and "fire
replace" non-GSA items such as tents, Kevlar/nomex
pants, etc. He was basically told this will not be
happening anymore. The crew must replace these items
using funds from their home unit.

So, thanks to Bush and good ol' Homeland Security
hacking up our preparedness budgets, fire crews now
have one more hoop to jump through in trying to
replace worn out items...

-AKFSS
5/23

-We are screwed, really screwed, by the recent fell swoop grounding of heavy airtankers (ok canceling of contracts). Everybody needs to be really aware of the safety issues that face us now that we have one less very important tool in the shed. We are already seeing a different approach (i.e. confine, contain) to initial attack here in New Mexico and I am not convinced that it is safer for firefighters or anybody in the longer term. SEATs do not do the job of heavy airtankers in timber and the heavy helos and their dipsites are just too far away in most IA cases. Let us hope that there will somehow be a positive outcome from what right now appears to be a totally WRONG DECISION!!!

Just saw this post and wanted to express a thought or 2 on it. Air tankers are just one of many tools that we have in our collective tool box. One less tool in the package will only mean that we have less photo ops on the line and more time to work. Our fires will continue to grow large and make the news. Crews will still work long hours for little praise. But on the bright side it gets us out in the field and out of the office. Sounds like a good year to have your seat base manager task book done.

crisp triggers

shooter

5/23 Rucker's Engine was indeed a Type 3 (CDF Model 14 Knock Off), however on the Cedar Fire, the engine was assigned to Strike Team XAL2005A, which indicates that it was a Type 1 (2005A) Mixed Agency Strike Team (X) from Alameda County Operational Area (AL). Why was a type 3 engine assigned to a Type 1 Strike Team? Yet another unanswered question from the Cedar Fire.

FC180
5/23 From NMAirBear

The Lookout Fire in the NM Gallinas Mtns. added some acreage yesterday but the NM Team is beginning to get a handle on portions of the north side and it is running into sparse fuels at lower elevations and in the old Pinatosa Fire from 4 years ago.

The Peppin Fire in the NM Capitan Mtns, where I am ATGS, added considerable acreage today (i.e. several hundred) and may be poised for some big acreage in the next few days.

All tactical aircraft (SEATs, helos) were generally ineffective or grounded today due to high winds. Sunday looks to be the same.

Heavy airtankers are sorely missed!
5/23 Mellie,

I wish you a speedy recovery. My Prayers are with you and your family.

An-R5er

_________________

A late but heartfelt best wishes to Mellie, glad to see you up and 'kicking'!

"May the wind always be at your back."

Much Love,

BB

5/23 maybe I've misinterpreted some recent posts

< me thinks too frequently in the rush for retort/topic hair splitting, that the importance of the good work of people like Dr. Butler et al is overlooked; such folks are working behind the lines for ff safety and too often they are unacknowledged unless to blame them for some snafu.

While I'm on behind the scenes fire people, has anyone forgotten about the combined effort & importance of admin, dispatchers, mechanics, timekeepers, etc. ?? We need them all.

< confused - why is it so important what color or size of that buggy you rode in on? when trees are torching & the wind is blowing, aren't turf wars a waste of effort?
as the Zebra said: Rumors can be dangerous things.

River

5/22 Hey Ab for the guy who was mistaken about Steve Rucker's engine type,

Here's a photo of Mike Hughes, Duty Officer of the Novato Fire Station and Shawn Kreps, Engineer on Novato (Type 3) Engine 18 receiving Steve Rucker's Wildland Firefighter Foundation Statue from Tom Coriell, the Foundation's representative, on Thursday, May 13, 2004. The engine is a Type 3.

Mellie
5/22 Mellie, Get Well soon, we can't do without you!!! -MJ

Good timing MJ, see above post. Ab.

5/22 Dr. Butler,

Thanks for the ongoing work on the safety zone definitions and for sharing the background and logic behind the effort in this forum.

Your efforts and the efforts of those working with you toward firefighter safety are greatly appreciated.

Mellie,
Best to you..........

Yactak
5/22 A heartfelt "GET WELL SOON"' goes out to Mellie.
Stay Safe,Keith
__________

Mellie,
I've been away at S 430 all week without my laptop. Missed the news about you until just now. Glad to hear all went well, and wish you a speedy recovery from the surgery.
Vicki, I'll be calling to sign up for the "52".

Old Fire Guy

5/21 so cal forestry tech (fire),

As Ab said, I speak English and still had a hard time following your post. You obviously have some information that you want to share to increase the safety and knowledge of wildland firefighters. That should be commended.

But......Either learn to type, utilize spell check, or avoid the "spirits"....... just a suggestion.

We all would like to hear what the "Green Sheet" didn't say or didn't recommend from your "on scene" experiences. All of us have our own opinions, some of us have first hand knowledge. Some posters just pull stuff out of their backside to generate interest without any real background.....Somewhere in the middle, there are "Wildfire Lessons Learned" for all of us.

Lobotomy

P.S. - Mellie.... WHOOOOO RAHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Welcome back WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER!!!!
5/21 Re: so cal forestry tech

Rumors can be dangerous things.

The Novato Firefighter (he has a name- Steve Rucker) was on a Type 3 Engine, as part of a Type 3 Strike Team, from an agency that had (just retired) a member of a Fed Type 2 IMT who regularly teaches S-234 (Firing Techniques). My agency and his train together regularly, including in firing operations and structure protection evolutions. And they respond to a fair number of wildland fires. The personnel involved were/are qualified to be there.

He was wearing all of his safety gear, was not carrying a chain saw (as reported by the Coroner and then retracted), and they had prepared for the possiblity of being overrun, including deploying hoselines and setting up the structure as a shelter.

I was also in the area the day of the burnover, and I visited the area afterwards. My agency assisted in the investigation leading to the "Green Sheet", as well as contributing to the various studies presented to the Blue Ribbon Commission.

Bluezebra

5/21 The Lookout fire is 10 miles west of Corona NM in the Gallinas Mountains. It is at least 500 acres at his writing (1600). Crown fire observed in PJ/Ponderosa timber. 2 SEAT's and 1 helo on scene. NM Team is ordered. Outlying ranches are threatened.

Peppin Fire in the Capitan Mountains is also very active this afternoon. ABQ TV13 is reporting 300+ acres.
5/21 Hi All,

Thanks for the good wishes and the prayers. I felt ALL of them. I think the
prayers have finally worked! My surgeon is very optimistic about my
prognosis, although the final reports won't be in for about 2 weeks. I have
to say that if I didn't have you all as models for "thinking outside the
box" and "don't say you can't get it done" and "end run", the outcome might
be different. I also felt guided be Paul Gleason and Kirk Smith, who I feel
would have chosen as I did if they had time. Thanks to you all for being
the unusual people you are.

The idea of supporting Matt via the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is a
good one and the 52 Club. (Thanks Vicki.) Please do that. Matt and his
family are in my prayers. Cancer is an expensive disease if you don't have
excellent health insurance coverage. We need to help out our firefighters.

I seem to be bouncing back from this surgery quickly, doin' my kicks around
the hallway last night and more this morning. Enjoying being alive. The doc
is letting me head home tomorrow, he said I was very fast. If I didn't have
my laptop along, I would have insisted on today. I'm addicted!

Thanks Ab and fire community. Good stuff on safety zones. Always
interesting.

<sleepy puppy grin> (but officer, I didn't inhale! it was legal!)

Mellie

Bear, Ramble, ecc1, Steve, and I, are most pleased <excited puppy wiggling/ peeing on the floor> to read this post! Ab.

5/21 BCT,

Yes you are right we need to be less aggressive it that is what it takes to
keep from committing suicide, which is basically what people have been
doing when they do not have LCES covered and wantonly violate the 10/18 and
Downhill Indirect Guidelines. The responsibility is on you and me and each
individual firefighter to responsibly turn down assignments that are not
safe using the developed protocols and then to develop a safe alternative
to get the job done. I also have a responsibility to those under my
supervision to ensure that they have a safe assignment and come home at the
end of it, in one piece. If that bothers some bonehead overhead type then
so be it. I know my supervisors will support me in any decision that I
make regarding safety questions even if that gets me sent home from an
assignment. I only wish everyone had that same support.

I agree, someone will get it wrong again and it will be the individual who
gets it wrong who will suffer along with anyone who is willing to follow
them. There is no way to introduce humans into a high risk environment and
not have something go wrong on occasion. That being said there are ways to
mitigate hazards, to a survivable level, increase the margin of safety and
still get the job done. Establishing trigger points and sticking to them
is one very good way to deal with Fire Order #10, and Fight Fire
Aggressively but not Stupidly.

Mr. Butler, I appreciate all your hard work with safety zones and fire
behavior, and understand the difficulties of predicting convective heat
effects on large fires so you will have to excuse me if I have a low level
of confidence that the problem of safety zone size will be solved during my
career. I have the feeling that the area needed to ensure that a safety
zone that would be survivable under extreme conditions of slope and wind
would be so large that it would be impossible to construct with out an
Environmental Impact Statement. Only large areas of nuked burn are
acceptable in those circumstances. I wish you all success in your
scientific endeavors.

Backburnfs
5/21 Dear Ab,

All the money raised in lieu of flowers for Mellie will be forwarded to Matt Taylor, Prineville Hotshot to pay expenses. Mellie likes expensive flowers, so be generous! Please call our office and give us your credit card, just like when you order flowers at the flower shop. Individuals, or companies wanting to make a donation to Matt Taylor through the foundation will receive a tax deduction. Funds tagged for Matt will be forwarded to him along with the donors' names.

I just had a friend's son go through brain tumor surgery and the social services people at the hospital helped him obtain Social Security benefits. This may be worth looking into for Matt.

If everyone, (the power of one, that is you), joined the 52 CLUB, $1.00 a week for 52 weeks, or an annual donation of just $52.00, we wouldn't have to go out looking for money to help people in our fire community when they need us. When you join the 52 Club you will receive a patch, pin, and helmet sticker. We have contacted nearly all of the Hotshot crews in the nation, and they are coming on board to help us reach our goal. How about you?

HELP US make our 52 CLUB a reality for our firefighters.

www.wffoundation.org 

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
3880 S. Development Av.
Boise ID. 83705
208-336-2996
5/21 I feel an obligation to weigh in on the safety zone discussion. It is
great to see the interest in this topic. As the “egg head” who proposed
the 4 times flame height rule based on a very simple analysis which
considered only radiant energy transfer, I would like to present some of
the background and logic behind the effort. Coming from outside the
wildland fire profession, it was amazing to me that Safety Zones was such
an emphasized issue in wildland firefighter safety, but so vaguely
defined. Fortunately, others agreed and were willing to support a small
effort to develop a quantitative definition of safety zones. The “you
will know it when you see it” philosophy depends on experience which can
only be gained after many seasons of firefighting, unfortunately it is
very difficult to communicate verbally to others and therefore is not
adequate for the less experienced. So one primary objective of the
safety zone project was to establish a “stake in the sand” so to say, that
would act as a foundation from which future discussion and training about
safety zones could be based. I am the first to admit that there are many
assumptions built into the analysis and results. By necessity I have
tried to ere on the side of caution. If this work serves only as a target
for which others can say, it is wrong for such and such reason and only
works in ideal conditions then it has been successful, simply because it
has served as the catalyst for discussion about what specific attributes
define effective safety zones.

We have tried to evaluate the accuracy of our mathematical models by
comparing them against measurements collected in “real” fire situations.
Measurements have been collected in crown fires burning in the Boreal
Forests of Northern Canada and Alaska, pine forests in Arizona, sage brush
fires in Montana, wildfires in Oregon, Montana and Idaho and prescribed
burns in the West and Southeast. Due to the wide variation in fire
behavior across space and time, it is often difficult to draw conclusions
from the data. However, in all cases the 4 times flame height (or length)
rule seems to be reasonably accurate and provides some margin for error.
But, once again, it only needs to serve as a basis from which additional
discussion about safety zone attributes should be initiated.

Regarding the question about convective heat transfer and its impact on
safety zone effectiveness: there is an ongoing project at the FireLab in
Missoula to address this issue. Unfortunately, convective energy transfer
depends on fire size, fire location relative to the safety zone (i.e.
upslope, downslope etc), wind speed, and terrain (i.e. chimney size,
steepness, slope, etc). our measurements for crown fires, and sagebrush
fires on relatively flat ground with winds less than 10 mph indicate that
convective heating is only significant within the 4 times flame height (or
length) zone. However, as slope is introduced, there is a point at which
a very rapid transition occurs and the fire and plume above it attach to
the slope, significantly increasing convective heating ahead of the fire.
We are working to simulate the fire behavior on the South Canyon and
Thirty-mile fires as well as various scenarios of slope, aspect, chimney
size etc to try to understand what the controlling variables are with the
intent of providing additional guidelines about the aspects that define
effective safety zones for situations other than flat ground.

Suggestions, comments, and yes, even complaints are appreciated as they
help us to understand what the concerns of firefighters on the ground are
and where our efforts need to be focused and where we need to improve
communication of our research results.

Stay safe.

Bret Butler
5/21 Hey Mellie, my "airport buddy" Get well fast !! See you on the big one
djchief
5/21 To All;

On Sunday, 16 May 2004, North Dakota lost a leader in Wildland fire due to a car accident. Frank Chase was the Fire Management Officer of the Fort Berthold Reservation. He was a former Navy Seal who served in Desert Shield and worked on both the Silver State and Tatanka Hot Shot Crews. I did not know him personally, being new to the area, but I have seen the effect of his loss on my crew and on the community he served. He will be sorely missed.

This phrase was at the end of his obituary and I find it very fitting; "A cry went out to the Four Winds, "Behold! A good man walks your way!"

V/R
domaque.
5/21 I just received a phone call from Mellie. She is in fine spirits, is recovering rapidly, and began her laps around the hallways last evening. She's already talking about when she can "get outt'a here" and I suspect her laptop will be plugged in very soon. I am once again awed by her strength and enthusiasm for life. Ab.
5/21 Who can ever forget the Prineville Shots? Best wishes Matt Taylor! this disease may be the wildfire fight of your life; fight that cancer - mind, soul and body! keep the faith compadre.

Vickie, do our donations to WFF include Matt?

Mellie, best wishes for quick recovery. <grins> how soon will you be using a laptop from your hospital bed?

NMAirBear, thanks for your reminder to all about being happy to have a tent and good boots; but you didn't mention old MREs *L* your overdue post about covered it all, if memory still serves...

read & heed folk, it's gonna be a tricky fire season
safe return
P.S. to JAFRO, thanks for the clarification
5/21 Backbunfs:

You're absolutely right that the safety zone you describe is indeed a good safety zone, and you're also right that most of the time the problem is locating one. But have you ever fought fire where you had a safety zone smaller than what you describe, even a little bit? I certainly have and I'm pretty sure everybody else has too. Not because we were out to flout fire order #4, but because we judged that, in the particular situation, a smaller safety zone would be adequate. The question is how much smaller can a safety zone be and still be a safety zone? Right now, we have to estimate that, based on experience and information. Could any of us have been absolutely certain that every safety zone we've ever planned on would protect us from a 30-mile column collapse like Fuels Guy describes? Probably not.

The blunt fact is you can't fight fire nearly as aggressively as we are now if you have to always have a full-meal-deal safety zone like you describe every single time. And what burns me (no pun intended) is that Forest Service leadership does not seem to recognize this fact. There is stark choice sitting out there like the elephant in the room: Until the calculator guys can tell us with absolute precision how large a safety zone we need, we either have to fight fire way less aggressively OR we have to accept the fact that firefighters will continue to have to make judgments about appropriate safety zone size and once in awhile, SOMEONE WILL GET IT WRONG. And I'm sorry, but I see it as a failure of leadership that the brass don't even acknowledge that this choice exists, let alone make it. All the well-intended investigation and new procedures after each fatality will not make this elephant go away and we will - mark my words - go through this tragic cycle every few years.

BCT
5/21 there has not been much talk about this. i was on the fire and was working north east of that area. i was doing structure protection with a green truck strike team. we are all veterens of the area. i was listining to the radio traffic when this all went down and have seen the site. nothing in the report states there traing in back fireing and it is to my knowlage it was a type 1 strike team. the report makes it out to be a type 3 engine. with the level of fire activity during that fire the proper resoures that trained in fireing out shouykd have been used. im not knocking anyone but stay within your limits of training. the victim was found to be without his proper gear something that was a on going problem on that fire and crews sleeping in garages at night when they were to be poltroling the area do to structure fires days past the main flame front. it is unfortunate that a firefighter died on this fire. but i hope the municiple depts learn they mite not be in a high risk fire area but there engines are going to come help out. the state is at stage of toltal caous. there is many things left out of the green sheet but hey thats there story and there sticking to it theres much more to tell but o dont want to take up to much space.

till next time ( TRAIN AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT BECAUSE IT DOSE)

not my phrase but something i picked up from someone very smart
so cal forestry tech (fire)

Folks, without meaning to pick on so cal forestry tech, it may be useful to use your spell checker before submitting messages. Correct spelling helps clear communications, promotes credibility, and increases the accuracy of the language translators for our readers in over 100 foreign countries. Ab.

5/21 Squirrel:

While on a fire, try for South-facing or SW facing slopes after noon.
This if you're in a somewhat arid setting. I.e., where there is less fuel, usually less heat from the fire.
Those that work commonly on "BLM" fires will often look for their safety zones on south slopes first.

Doug Campbell's focus is on preheating of fuel. A very important part of the equation.
Fuel loadings are also important.

The first rule is that there are no hard and fast rules. (Get it? Sort of a moderation in all things except moderation rule.)

Another nugget:
Think about staying on the ridge if at all possible. If you cut the corner going from one helispot to the next helispot and take yourself off the ridge. You lose the option of bailing over the other side should a burnover event happen. Yes, both sides can burn in tandem, but often they do not and this could give you an out.

Of course the best nugget is have an established easily accessible safety zone.
However, that would lead to a, "What is a safety zone discussion."

Fuels Guy
5/21 Mellie!!! Good to hear you are out of surgery and doing well!!! Speedy recovery!!!

Contract County Guy,

I hope the modifications that were made to the S-2's dont cause the same problems as the modifications of the C-119's in the 70's and early to mid 80's..........

In regards to the costs of the modernization of the CDF fleet (actually a Federal Fleet leased through the Federal Excess Property Program to the state).... do you really think the "state" is paying for all of it?.... and the S-2's aren't that young either.

Rogue Rivers
5/20 Here is the link for the green sheet on the Cedar Fire firefighter
fatality, got it off they said archives for nov. 24 '03 if the link does
not work just search for green sheets by using the search WLF button at the
top of this page. I just finished presenting this as a training session
for my firefighters along with Mann Gulch and Cramer the kids could not
believe it. The maps are good as well.
Backburnfs

Green Sheet: http://www.wildlandfire.com/green_sheet/cedar/cedar.htm

Maps: http://www.wildlandfire.com/green_sheet/cedar/cedar-maps.pdf

5/20 God bless you Mellie and we wish you a speedy recovery.
Love, Doug & Leanne
5/20 <<HUGS>> and best wishes and sunbeams to Mellie!!!!!!!!
kelly.
5/20 'Confused X-Fed' was told, correctly, that his FCC License is not to be used at National Incidents. There are two very good reasons for this.

1 - When 'Confused X-Fed' is chattering away on his 'own' frequency, NO ONE in the incident command system has his frequency. That means he is operating outside of the ICS-205, on a channel NO ONE can get hold of him on when they need to tell him to RUN, with the end result in a major safety concern. Remember, the second word in LCES is COMMUNICATIONS. If you insist upon using your FCC issued Commercial License while at a national incident, please, just stay home. While X-Fed may be fire-proof, the rest of us aren't.

2 - The FCC is an agency tasked with licensing State and local Governments, Commercial enterprises, and Amateur Radio Operators. The Federal Governments' frequencies are controlled by the NTIA. The Incident Command System at the National Level is NOT AUTHORIZED to use FCC assigned frequencies as they fall under the jurisdiction of NTIA, as do all assigned assets. While assigned to the incident, you are under Federal NTIA rules, not the FCC. There is a process to undergo to integrate FCC assigned frequencies into a NTIA plan, but the process takes longer then most fires. So 'Confused X-Fed', really answered his own posting: WOW The FCC DOES NOT APPLY ON AN USDA INCIDENT!

Now that that is clear as slurry..............
Sign me

JAFRO

COML, COMT, INCM, RADO and a contractor to boot.
5/20 To Mellies friends
We are compiling a box of cards, notes and other paraphernalia of your choosing, along with a list of donations made in Mellie name. We will send it to her when she gets out of the hospital. You can email us (director@wffoundation.org), or call us and we can run a credit card over the phone just like a flower shop, with a note that will be forwarded to her, or you can send a card to our address.
I know Mellie, this would be a wonderful gift of love for her.
We here at the Foundation feel so fortunate to have her guiding hand on us.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
3880 S. Development Av.
Boise Id. 83705
208-336-2996
208-863-9090 cell
208-336-2995 fax
5/20 Friends,

Forgive my recent absence from this worthy forum and its recent most considerable threads. I have been distracted most completely by fire assignments (of all things!) in NM and CA. Tent living, you know. On to a few of the recent threads.

-I love my tent! I like camp food, too! What's the problem with this? I remember when both were considered a luxury and when I wish I had at least put an extra pair of socks in my lunch pail. Most jumpers and shots still know this or we would not be able to fight fire very well in the wilder areas.

-I still love my White's (since 1969). No discussion as to why but I respect those who like their other brands too. I really think we all just have different feet.... Well one point to discuss: As an FMO of many years I learned from the mistakes of others that good boots are going to cost you mucho $$.

-We are screwed, really screwed, by the recent fell swoop grounding of heavy airtankers (ok cancelling of contracts). Everybody needs to be really aware of the safety issues that face us now that we have one less very important tool in the shed. We are already seeing a different approach (i.e. confine, contain) to initial attack here in New Mexico and I am not convinced that it is safer for firefighters or anybody in the longer term. SEAT's do not do the job of heavy airtankers in timber and the heavy helos and their dipsites are just too far away in most IA cases. Let us hope that there will somehow be a positive outcome from what right now appears to be a totally WRONG DECISION!!!

-None of us could figure out what we were doing on major ragers in SoCal in early May. California, where I grew up, is ripe and ready to go fully 6 weeks ahead of normal. The brush was burning as well as a droughty August. Thanks Doug Campbell for your help! Also, the Northern Rockies is in a drought of epic proportions. We will be there soon enough and last year will seem like a wake up call.

-Today was the first day I could honestly say we are really in for it now in the Southwest. Red Flags all over the place. It is summertime "hot, dry, and windy and it's gonna burn like Hell, son." (quote from my first fire behavior analyst trainer when I asked him about BEHAVE inputs). Get ready for extreme fire behavior in the Southwest.

-My definition of a safety zone has always been someplace you can laugh, take pictures, eat lunch, play hackey sack, tell jokes, etc. and watch the fire go by. Don't ask me what the dimensions of this are in any specific situation but you will know one when you see one. More importantly you need to learn from experience when you don't see one.

-Get well Mellie!!!

EVERYBODY THINK SAFE!!! The 10 and 18 are, well they are still the best guidelines we have regardless of the format. Watch out for yourselves and your crew and be careful what you take as the truth and from whom. We all go home safe and the job is well done.

NMAirBear
5/20 RE Cedar Fire Burnover

Hey all,

Backburnsfs latest comment about safety zones and the cedar fire reminded me that there's been very little discussion about this fatality. What's the deal? Where's the investigation reports, quieries, scathing reviews, etc?

Is it just that this was a city firefighter so no takes it seriously? I'm just a little mystifiedm that's all.

-Nomad
5/20 I'm very happy to say that Mellie is now out of post op surgery and in her own room. Her doctor stated that all went as planned. She is doing well. Ab.
5/20 Matt Taylor is one of our senior fire fighters on the Prineville Hotshots. About six weeks ago Matt underwent exploratory brain surgery and was found to have an aggressive cancerous tumor. His physician gave a prognosis of six months to one year to live. At present Matt is undergoing chemo therapy and doing what he can to fight the cancer. His chemotherapy costs $2200. 00 a month. His insurance company is only willing to cover half of that expense. In addition he has incurred further medical expenses that his GS-5 salary does not come close to covering.

We are instituting a donation account with Bank of America to help allay the cost of his chemotherapy and the rest of his medical expenses. The account number with B of A is 2884010802, and if you are in another state you can go to your local B of A and use the following account number: OR2-134-01-01 to make your deposit. Matt has been married for less than two years and has one child, Jordan, one year old. Any amount not matter how small will be very helpful and appreciated very much

Most Gratefully,

Lance Honda
Superintendent Prineville Hotshots
5/20 Regarding CDF's airtankers and why they are different, CDF has been upgrading their S2 fleet since 1996, converting military S2E configurations by completely upgrading their propulsion to turbo systems. The upgrades allow for an increase in retardant payload from 800 to 1,200 gallons and makes them a much more powerful aircraft. They are vastly different from the original S2A's acquired in the mid 1970's. The retrofitted aircraft are known as S2T's for "Turbo". CDF will have 19 in service for the 2004 fire season and will upgrade a total of 23 by 2005.

I believe one post questioned why State's that chose to contract the old federal fleet this year should be treated any differently than California. Well the biggest difference is California has spent millions upgrading aircraft to meet contemporary flight standards and safety. Other States who choose to contract previous federal airtankers are still flying a very old airtanker.

Contract County Guy
5/20 Ex-Fed,

I did read that some states were considering contracting the air tankers on their own so they would have coverage, but I also read that the FS said that even though the state's could do that, the tankers still would not be able to fly on fire's that were on Fed land. With a majority portion of typical large fires being on primarily Fed lands in most areas that are prone to extreme fires, how much good would those state contract's be? Other than structure protection once the Fed fire leaves Fed land and comes across State protected lands, I fear that by the time the State contracted airtankers were allowed to act, the fire would have too much of a head start to be fully effective.
Does anybody on here know why the FS would treat State contracted tankers different from CDF's airtankers? It seems to me that if they are responsible for certifying the air worthiness of the private tankers, they would be just as responsible to certify the worthiness of any other tankers flying over there fires. Does the FAA inspect CDF airtankers? If so hopefully they would have the necessary inspection guidelines in place to speed up the inspections on the private stuff.

John
5/20 Retired L.A.V.E.:
You are absolutely right on topography and air movement influence. Although not always listed on common denominators, chimneys and draws etc. represent a high correlation on fatality fires, Even very small gullies are a place to stay out of.
What is disturbing to BCT and the rest of us, is that even with all our cumulative knowledge to this point, we can't predict a 30-mile column and therefore, what is a true safety zone..
Dude Fire; Thunderstorm downburst - predictable.
South Canyon; Cold Front - downhill line - firefighters in draws.
Cramer; Wind + slope + fuel.and so forth.

None of the firefighters I know has an explanation as to why the 30-mile column came down as it did. Can anyone help me here? Remember, with no scientific papers on collapsing columns, they are just another random bastard rumor at this point.
With the photos of that column we have, there does not appear to be any correlation with a column sponsored downdraft type event. It just look like an erratic vortices.

To the distinguished Gumby:
Look, we have to try on what is and isn't a safety zone. Just because this is hard for us to do is no reason to give up on a task. Especially one as important as what is a safety zone.

Fuels Guy
5/20 Ab, I would like to send flowers and card to Mellie. Is there an address that I can send them to?
thanks, ember

_____________________________

Ab, is there a place our wildland firefighter community can send "Get Well" cards and flowers to in support of Mellie?
Ken

_____________________________

NorCal FFs, thanks for the cheers.

Ab, Next they'll be asking where to send flowers!!?? If they do, tell them to make a donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation instead and Vicki will let me know of any scribbled note someone would like to send. I'd be much obliged. I''m told the hospital won't allow flowers. Last time they made me throw up. <chuckle> Firenwater! It was worth the horrified look on the nurses faces. Hopefully I'll be home again in 4 days or so.

Well, off we go. Boy is it early! Thanks to all who are... how did it go? Praying/wishing/hoping/meditating/cheering for me. I feel the "good vibes".
Mellie

I received the above message from Mellie at 0430 today. She will be undergoing a serious surgery this morning at around 0730. The surgery is not considered life threatening, but will change the ways she's used to doing things. Please keep her in mind today, during recovery, and as she faces new challenges. We will be anxiously waiting here for her next message. I will post new information as I receive it. God Bless you Mellie and speed your recovery. Ab.

5/20 Squirrel, The:

While on a fire, avoid South-facing or SW-facing slopes after noon, if you don't know why, check out Doug Campbell's fire signature method.

Hard-nocks and Near-misses

Check the Classifieds page for a link. Ab.

5/19 Ab, I don't think anyone has sent in this link yet. It's a great historical
perspective of the Forest Service through the eyes of Lynn Biddison (Forest
Service 1943-1982). It has a brief bio of Lynn and then an interview by Jim
Cook and Mark Linane.

This is a must read for folks interested in Fireline Leadership....

www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/documents/L_biddison.html

Lobotomy
5/19 John,

This page attached to your note about this heliplane tanker, what a crock, it
has all touched up pic's and an aircraft like that is years from testing or
production not to forget rotor wash on a drop. Evergreen has a 747 super tanker
that has passed all of the the tests and is now over seas getting a safety
check for service in the field check out there site evergreen aviation, I do not
have the address but they are high on the search lists. as for the tankers,
they are not grounded. The USDA and DOI have cancelled their contracts much
different. The key is that states can contract them on an EERA if they would
like. But that would be the Gov trying to get out of paying for the saftey check
costs. They were held responsible for the safety checks by the NTSB report so
they cancel the contract. did you notice that the IHOG, and ISOG do not even
follow any of the FAA Guide lines, I was on an incident and a national team told
me that my FCC Lic for my radio freq was not honored because it was a federal
incident..... WOW The FCC Does not Apply on an USDA incident? and what is the
FCC From last I checked they are federal... What is that Crap.... can anyone
of you tell me why??? read the NTSB report on NIFC website.....

confused X-FED
5/19 Mellie,

We're praying/hoping/wishing for the best for you tomorrow. We love you.

More than one NorCal FF

5/19 FC180,

I find it hard to believe that in 1994 "NOBODY could tell you what a safety
zone looked like." I have been fighting fires since 1975 and have known
what a safety zone was since my first fire. A large area hard black with no
overhead hazards, not located in a saddle, at the top of a drainage, or
where you can get run over by some type of equipment. Locating the safety
zones that meet those criteria is what has always been the problem not
knowing what one looked like. The Roger Roth and the firefighters at South
Canyon, Cramer, and any other number of fatality fires had no safety zones
to go to, and did not follow the basic10 rules that have been in place
since 1957. If you cover the 10-18, LCES, chances are overwhelmingly huge
in your favor that you will not have to find out if you have a survivable
safety zone. Give yourself a chance and leave before you need to (the 5
minute difference that leads to survival) those who wait till the last
minute to decide that their tactics and strategies are not working will cut
their chances down considerably.

The firefighter who died on the Cedar Fire was within 150 yards of a huge
grazed-off field that never burned, even under the extreme burning
conditions experienced on that incident. He and his engine crew PLANNED to
use a house located at the top of a major drainage, in a saddle, with 40
foot flames coming at them as a "safety zone" and suffered the consequences
of their actions. 1 dead, 1 severely burned and 2 others injured.

Science may eventually come up with the MODEL of the perfect safety zone
and should keep trying to figure it out but remember it will still be a
model. However that does not help us today or next week when a blowup
occurs, does it?

BEHAVE comes with the disclaimer that it is only a model and can be off as
much as plus or minus 25% to 400%. BEHAVE has to be ground truthed for the
location and conditions it is being used under. At my last work-station it
was very accurate under the RX Burn scenarios and fuel conditions that we
had. Under extreme fire conditions it was very much out of calibration.
And there was nowhere near the number of escaped fires to calibrate it
under those conditions.

Shame on me, I guess, for not trusting my safety to the number crunchers.

Backburnfs
5/19 I was reading about a new concept Heliplane tanker being designed by Carter, called the Carter Hydra Blaster.

www.cartercopters.com/heliplane_hydra-blaster.htm

I thought it was interesting to read about a comment made in November of last year, considering the air tanker situation that came about recently.

"As reported in an Article in the Nov 10, 2003 issue of AW&ST, on pages 60 – 62, by William B. Scott, where he quotes Tony Kern, USFS national aviation officer, “We’re redefining what ‘airtanker’ means. In 2004, we’re going to see larger numbers of Type-1 (heavy) helicopters operating in what used to be a traditional fixed-wing role . . . In many cases, when you call for an airtanker, you’re going to see a big helicopter show up -- and be glad it did.”

Could this aircraft be the future in air support? Reading the article it seems like it would be a very efficient piece of equipment, but I would think the cost would be prohibitive, unless the government decided to purchase a fleet itself. I just thought this was an interesting article so, so I thought I'd pass it on to the other readers.

John
5/19 Dear Ab or anyone else,

Good discussion on convection/ safety zones. I'm learning a lot, thanks.

I know I'm the one asking questions all the time but.........

What are some personal "nuggets" that I could take with me as I start off pounding ground?
Maybe what set you apart from other candidates, or lessons that you had to learn from "hard knocks". Thanks for the abundance of experience sharing, I'm starving for the info.

TheSquirrel
5/19 I was at a meeting a few years ago post South Canyon Fire, and Jim Roth (brother of Roger Roth, South Canyon victim) was addressing the audience about fire shelter and safe zone concepts, and I heard some of the same comments as have been aired in this forum about science or the lack of, or art or whatever, and he said he supported this research wholeheartedly, because at the time of the South Canyon fire, NOBODY could tell you what a safety zone looked like, even conceptually. We have been telling people have escape routes and safety zones and make them known, without telling anyone what exactly those things were. Without some science we cannot define the parameters of the world. Shame on those that are minimizing BEHAVE and research into safe zone size, no matter how incomplete. The concepts are better now than before 1994, and for that I am thankful and waiting for the next discovery.

FC180
5/19 Interesting article: "Air tanker grounding unfair, dangerous, California firm says -- A California company that supplied more than a third of the heavy firefighting air tankers grounded by the government said Monday it is unfairly being lumped in with a Wyoming firm responsible for most of the catastrophic accidents. Don Thompson AP -- 5/17/04"

Gonna stick my neck out here - sure hope I'm wrong.
Tisk tisk: except for some politicians rant, few northzone media reporters have emphasized the issues presented by grounding the Heavies.
Tisk tisk: none have mentioned the R5 Fed hiring mandates & the inherent dangers with so few groundpounder crews relatively close to being fully staffed & trained.
Sacramento Valley media (viewed by most in northzone) have shown video of FFs training in grasslands < won't comment on the close-up of someone using a pulaski; & an impressive dog&pony show of the new FF tools available (no mention of their price tags). Sadly, little coverage addressing WUI defensible space requirements as a heads-up for joy&joe-homeowner/vacationer TV-watchers.
What is most upsetting is the media seems to be focusing on hose lay capabilities...offering a false sense of security

"Interesting" turn of events worldwide & nationally.
Best wishes for a safe year WFFs!

River
5/19 CW:

Your hostility isnt necessary in your recent post. You
jumped to several conclusions about my post that I
never thought were possible. For instance, I never
claimed to know every Type 1 or 2 crewboss, engineboss
or helitack foreman in every agency across the U.S. I
do, however, know quite a few of them from Hotshot
conventions, Helicopter Manager workshops, interagency
training and strike team and div supe assignments
where I worked with some of the type I and II teams.
I do admit that if I didnt know someone within an
agency recommending an employee, my squadies or leads
or my AFMO almost certainly would. This lends some
necessary credibility to these candidates,
unfortunately giving them an 'edge'. I cannot but
wouldnt be opposed to saying the same about contract
crew representatives and company presidents or
operating officers. Many of these guys have been out
of the public scope for a long time if at all and
whose word do I trust more?

Do I hire someone who came from a crew whose crewboss
I have trained with or dug line with--or do I take the
word on a candidate from a guy who runs a profitable
private company whom Ive never met? Although
ideologically either should have equal billing, I need
to trust these people to potentially care for, make
life and death judgment calls and save the lives of
crewmembers. So, the cold truth is that I choose the
word of a comrade I trust when he says the agency
candidate is 'solid' or 'reliable'. There a couple of
up and coming private crews that I have had the
pleasure to meet and work with but I havent had anyone
from these crews ever apply to the one I help run. I
guarantee as they proliferate in number I will get the
opportunity to meet more of them and thus use this as
a basis for hiring. Im sorry I cant meet your
expectations for some imaginary level of trust I
should automatically have for contract crews. I have
to build it, just like Ive done with the agency crews
over the past 12 years.

AC
5/18 The Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated. Ab.
5/18 RB

Here's link to the DOI AD play plan which lists all AD pay rates...........

www.adfirefighter.org/images/2004_DOI_AD_Pay_Plan.doc

TC
5/18 Your discriminatory attitudes shine through your words. Are you saying that you either know ALL Government Sups. of Type 1 and 2 crews and all types of engines or at least someone who does. Are you saying that the word of a friend of a friend of a friend is better than the word of a " Contractor" as long as the friends were Agency.
What a Crock of S*^#.
I agree their is rapport out there but to say it is just within the government ranks is BS. I agree that it has been largely within the Gov. ranks but that needs to change ( And is ) It is sad that you think so little of your private fire service brothers and sisters that you do not build that rapport. By your words it seems that you promote the close-minded opposite . I have a good rapport with many agency managers across the nation. I have seen Type 1 crews disbanded and get "Bad press" with out thinking they are all bad . Take another look at your attitudes. I have seen good and bad on both sides of the fence. Private Fire Service is here to stay. Work with us and not against us.
CW
5/18 I see convection heating being most deadly in conjunction with topography, such as chimneys, saddles, swales, etc. If you accidentally find yourself in one of these areas when the poop engages the props, such as being on a mid-slope road above an advancing flame front below you. (Yes, the 13/18 Shout and Watch Out's {how ever many they are using now} should kick in here!)

I remember a firefighter survival class where a number of city engines were caught in such and situation in Southern California in the mid to late 90's. As the story was told to our class, a civilian vehicle was stalled on the road as the engines were on the way to a structure protection detail. The strike team came to a halt and one or two engines were in a chimney type structure and got blasted with hot air. I also remember that in a short period of time, the engines were directly impinged with active fire. But I distinctly recall the discussion of convection heating in hilly/ mountainous terrain with lots of gullies, washes, or arroyo type features that can channel hot air in conjunction with being in a mid-slope topography.

Retired L.A.V.E.
5/18 Professor Gumby,

How does someone new without a watch who doesn't know
the location of Wrong Place NF figure that out in time to save
their buttsky when the unexpected blows up?

Hardtack

Rx burn experience. Ab.
5/18 Now BEHAVE, there's a fairly useless program for the groundpounder.
I'll take the Hair-on-the-back-of-my-neck Training over that anyday,

Graduate of the School of Hard-nocks and Near-misses.
5/18 Point taken, Prof Gumby. But there is reason for looking at safety zone sizes
and at the research - lack of?- if only to understand how futile that approach
might be?

Dr. NoNo
5/18 I am looking for a list of all the AD pay rates for all fire positions. I had a copy and
forgot where I got it from. Please send me a link or a copy if possible.

Thanks
RB

Consider joining the AD Firefighter Assn. They have lots of answers, even to some questions you never dreamed of. Link on the Classifieds page. Ab.

5/18 If there are folks who are actually trying to figure out the exact dimensions of an escape route and safety zone for tactical reasons then they have missed the point completely.

Bottom line -don't place yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For those eggheads who just have to be measuring things to contribute to the cluttered trivia between their ears, I might suggest using a tape measure and a large thermometer to figure the mass and convective temperature of a 30 acre rolling horizontal vortex, so that they might provide me with a precise specification for my next made to order safety zone.

Lets see ...the square root of Pi minus a six pack on Tuesday equals blackened vegetation and flames that travel amazingly fast uphill in the middle of the afternoon in August somewhere in Western North America. Somebody give me a research grant and I will explain why fires go out in December.

Professor Gumby
5/18 Glad to see so many reactions to my post about safety zones.
Seems like most people said something to the effect that firefighting is as much art as science, that you have to use your head, and not rely on a calculator to keep you safe. I agree completely, and therein lies the rub: Is it realistic for management to expect firefighters who have to make life-and-death decisions based not on a foolproof formula, but on their judgment, to get it right 100% (not 99.999%) of the time? I don't think so. Any time you ask human beings to make judgments, even when they're based on a lot of information and experience, once in a great while someone will get it wrong. And this is why - burn me at the stake for heresy now - we probably haven't seen the last burnover fatality. And I think the sooner that upper level managers face this awful truth and deal with it, the better.

BCT
5/17 Abs,

I know this is off topic from the current thread, but I would like to take the time to thank the Abs
for all the hard work they do for all of us ground pounders. Wildlandfire.com helps keep us up to
date with new ideas, and news about wildfire. I know the Abs spend hours a day for free to do
this for us all. The Abs have touched us all in a good way by their dedication, and would like to
say thanks to the Abs!

Firemanphill

You're welcome. Our pleasure to work with this amazing community of friends and family. Ab.
5/17 For the good of the order:

I believe conductive = transferred by touch [such as an electric coil cook top]

While convective = transferred by air [flow] [like an oven with a fan to circulate the hot air]

On safety zones, sizes, etc…

Quick, without looking in your fire line hand book, pocket guide, etc… who can give the proper
size safety zone for a 20 person crew and 10 foot flame lengths?

Now make it 12 foot flame lengths…

If you figure it out, then consider continuous fuels on all sides…

Then read the fine print where it states that these “ESTIMATES” do not take convective heat
into account…

Once you have what you believe is the right number, go outside and measure it, and review what
you have considered safety zones in the past

Bottom line, as has already been stated, you have to use your head, and THINK.

JSJ
5/17 Let's not forget that heat is transferred by three methods: convection, conduction and radiation.
  • Convection - the transfer of heat by the circulation of the heated parts of a gas.
  • Conduction - the transfer of heat between two parts of a stationary system caused by a
    heat difference between the parts.
  • Radiation - the process by which energy is radiated as particles or waves by one body
    through an intervening medium or space and absorbed by another body.

When I taught classes in thermal curtain construction, I told students that the mylar layer reduced
heat loss by radiation by bouncing heat back, the quilted layer reduced loss by conduction by
making it hard for heat to get through and the sidebars that snapped over the Roman shade curtain
edges reduced convective heat loss as they didn't allow heat flow circles along the window face as
warm air rose and cold air fell. S-190 only talks (primarily) about convection and radiation, but
having your gloves on inside your fire shelter would be critical to minimizing conductive heat.

Geez, talking about this stuff gives me the willies. At least it's raining like hell here on the norcal
coast, so this feels a bit academic.

The Enterprise Team was doing some good work with interesting and useful fire-monitoring apparatus,
but needed more scientific definition of their studies to "sell" them to the funding entities. In my opinion
the question of safety zone (size needed under what conditions) and the knowledge of how a fire front
moves in and passes through are good topics for study. Much of science starts with observation of
how something acts under a variety of conditions. Then it progresses to the interesting questions.

Y'all BE SAFE! Sorry about the firefighter who died.

Mellie

5/17 BCT -

You're right, as far as I know there has been little
or no research into convective heat in the wildland.
The safety zone research that has been done to date
looks at radiant heat.

There is an enterprise team that is setting up
equipment ahead of wildfires and collecting data on
fire behavior, which includes convective heat. They
have been collaborating with Dr Butler in Missoula on
safety zone research but they (the enterprise team)
didn't get funding this year to continue their work.

John -

You're right, learning about radiant and convective
heat in 190. However convective heat can meet the
ground with steep slopes and/or strong winds.
Horizontal vortices also occur.

Backburnfs -

You're right, firefighters need to be aware of safety
zones and radiant and convective heat for themselves.
No one should depend on a math wiz but further work
in this area is needed to help with training, etc.

Student of Fire
5/17 John,

The comment about convective heat not being a factor in safety zones concerns me. If the wind is blowing 20 MPH across your safety zone the convective heat is coming right AT you, not above you. Remember convection is the movement of heat by air currents in ANY direction, not just up. Up is just the direction it USUALLY goes, but not always. If you underestimate the size of a safety zone, and the wind changes, you and your crew can die, so don't make assumptions, and allow for worst case scenario, not just the current behavior. Remember, Base all actions on current AND EXPECTED fire behavior.

-MJ

5/17 Want to learn about safety zones, convection columns, and the influences of
radiant heat? Spend more time on prescribed burns.

Dead and down fuels burned under planned circumstances are tremendous
learning tools for both observing and sensing fire behavior and thermal
dynamics.

Extend your career as a "firefighter" - pick up the torch and walk the
benign side of fire use.

You may not be a hero, you may not even be seen - but what you will see and
experience will make a lot of sense - especially when applied to wildfire
tactics.

It ain't all suppression when you take a look!

-- "Through the Looking Glass (the next generation of fire use)"
5/17 Convection and Radiant Heat

You're right, there is not a lot of literature or training on exact sizes with tape measures in perfect conditions. The logic is that radiant heat can kill you long before actual flame touches you -- it is also well known that the gases from columns and radiant will compromise your airway, therefore when you can't breath you sometimes will "go Dip$#^*." I think that the thirty mile fire and rock outcroppings said it all!

I guess my point is that we can use policies & standard operating procedures but remember we use them only as a guide line and the best tool that any firefighter can carry "young & old " is that round thing that sits on your shoulders. You guys can look in books all day with calculators and other means of how calculate and predict, but experience will prevail every time - just don't hand the experienced fireman a pencil! USE YOUR HEAD!

FF SoCaLi

5/17 Suggest that the Keene Flite Crew patch on Logo page 2, 2nd row, 3rd patch is indeed the BLM triple nickel {555} T2 ship out of their Keene helibase {actually located in Rio Bravo} located just east of the jct of Hwy's 184/178 {Kern Cyn Rd.}. I say this because the ship on the patch is painted red/white. Thom Guide 2K3, grid 191C3

Kern Cnty's helo is based @ its station 11 {aka Keene} in the Tehachapi Cyn. It's ship #408 is painted blue/white & is also a T2 and also has a flite crew. Thom Guide 2K3, grid 200A1.

Danny
5/17 For Immediate Release

May 17, 2004

The National Forests in Mississippi is saddened to announce the death of one of our Forest Service family. On Thursday, May 13, 2004, Randy H. Henderson, 42, died while assigned as a Safety Officer on the Mailbox Fire located on the Osceola Ranger District of the National Forests in Florida. An Investigation Team is currently on site; the cause of death is unknown at this time.

For three weeks Randy had been detailed to the Osceola as District Fire Management Officer. His permanent position was on the Bienville Ranger District in Forest, Mississippi; where he began his Forest Service career in 1980.

Randy Henderson is survived by his wife Patsy and daughters Nicki & Stacy. The family will hold a Visitation Monday, May 17, 2004 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. and Tuesday, May 18, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. at Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Forest, MS. Funeral services will be held at 3:00 p.m. at Lorena Baptist Church, Hwy. 35, in Lorena, Mississippi.

District Ranger David Carter expressed his thoughts by saying, “Our district has suffered a great loss, which will be felt for a long time. Randy was an employee who took his job seriously and was dedicated to providing a safe working environment for all employees. He loved his job as Assistant Fire Management Officer and was always ready to pack his bags when needed to assist with wildfires. Our thoughts and prayers are with Randy’s family at this time.”

Forest Supervisor Gerry Farmer stated, “Randy Henderson was indeed a valuable asset to the National Forests in Mississippi. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

Cards may be sent to: Henderson Family C/O Bienville Ranger District, 3473 Hwy. 35 South, Forest, MS 39074.

Bienville contact: Mary Bell Lunsford, Fire Information Officer, 601-469-3811 or 601-384-0782.
5/17 Ab,

There has been some discussion on TheySaid over the last couple weeks about accepting less-than-full compliance with the 10 & 18 and other safety rules. USFS Chief Bosworth earlier this month issued the 2004 action plan for federal fire and aviation operations. My understanding is that the Interior Dept. has or will soon issue the exact same document. These are the principles the plan identifies for safety:

Firefighter safety comes first on every fire every time.
The Standard Firefighting Orders are firm; we don’t break them, we don’t bend them.
Every firefighter has the right to a safe assignment.
Every Agency Administrator, every Fire Manager, every fireline supervisor, and every firefighter is responsible to ensure that established safe practices are known and observed.

vfd cap'n

vfd cap'n, I think that everyone expects to comply with the 10 and 18, etc as perfectly as they can. Safety exhortations from the Chief come out rather routinely year in and year out. The current issue with "rules, rules and more rules" that exists in R5 arose with the SoCal fires. Last fall on the SoCal fires some of the items on the 30-mile abatement checklist were not followed to the letter of the "rule" although they were followed in intent. My guess is that most of the current discussions about "not following rules" arises from that and the meetings that took place in SoCal last month that addressed initial attacking fires for 3 or more days at a time.

Then again, it is hard to follow rules that relate to fire behavior -- like safety zones (and safety zone size)-- if you don't know how the fire behavior is going to change. Firefighters have long been blamed for their own deaths when fires have "blown up" making their safety zones and escape routes non-life-saving.

Readers, any comments? Ab.
5/17 I'm a collector of fire fighting patches and recently got one that says N.S.C.A. Helitack Crew.
I can't find anything with N.S.C.A. in a search engine.
Do you have any idea what that stands for?

DM in Texas
5/17 Convection/safety zone thread:

There is not a lot of information on convection or convection columns in most resources online.
Can someone school us or throw out a link since it's a current thread?

TheSquirrel
5/17 BCT,

I don't quite understand what you mean about convective heat being a consideration in safety zone standards. If you go back to the basic 190 information taught to everybody on the line, convective heat is rising from the flames, not heat down at ground level. When standing in an actual safety zone (not a deployment area), your clearing should be large enough that while you may feel some radiant heat when standing in the middle of the zone, I would think that all convective heat would be rising well above anybody standing on the ground. If the safety zone was on a slope with the fire coming at you from below, you would still be looking at the flame lengths and radiant heat as the major factor, if the slope was steep enough to leave you in the convection area of the fire, it might be wiser to relocate the safety zone to a more level area. Taking radiant heat into consideration should cover us when deciding how big of a safety zone we need. Now if you were planning on building a safety zone in the top of the trees, convection might be a problem lol.

John
5/17 BCT,

Your logic is bullet proof.

There is no magic formula for identifying a safety zone. Establish realistic conservative trigger points and get out at least 5 minutes before you have to. Most of the fatalities I have studied would have been near misses or non-events if the firefighters involved would have left 5 minutes earlier than they did.

Yes it is your fault if you estimate wrong. But do you really want some math wiz telling you what is safe? No mater how many numbers they crunch there is always a variable they either miss or don’t even know about yet. Firefighting is as much art as science, just like weather predictions. Only the weather forecasters can be wrong and still have a job tomorrow.

Hang in there and don’t be a”HERO”, ‘cause we all know that is what they call dead firefighters.

Wish I had a better answer.
Backburnfs
5/17 "BCT" says there is "almost always some kind of conductive heat involved in an entrapment".

Interesting thought! Having been on 20-25 entrapment investigations, I'd be interested in getting
her/his source of info before I comment if "management is putting us in a no-win situation".

Dick Mangan
5/17 Ab,

As of 2200 hours MST, the Diamond Fire, in the Tonto National Forest, North East of Phoenix, AZ, is 800 acres. Fire is burning in mixed brush. Crews have cut 1.25 miles of line. Crews will have to deal with 15-25 mph winds and low rh's tomorrow. This info from Phoenix Channel 12 news.

FyrEtr
5/17 Butte Crews

>From meeting with Unit Chief and Admin officer: Probable that BTU will have 5 ten per
crews. Plan is to position them throughout RU. Given State hiring process and budget they
may not be in place until July. Not all will fit at Station 17, in progress.

C.Bork
5/17 "Abs are in the wilderness without phone lines " great to have good "down time", hope you made the best of it, Abs.

JN, you & co-workers trust your abilities, don't sweat the small stuff. me thinks this "quota" mess in R5 will blow up and bite the decision makers as soon as a rager makes the news.

Gene-Paul, rumor has it "aging" experienced wildland firefolk are seriously considering AD to pick & choose where & when if not tied to a hose lay. for a list of contractors, check out the classifieds link on this site ^ along with previous posts/archived.

< concerned about the current combined demoralization and attrition
<< prepare for the worst, hope for the best

SAFE SEASON ALL!
best wishes to the walking wounded
don't forget the 52 club

PS, Lobotomy: "puppy mills" <snicker about your analogy but arrrrgh!

Northzone5

We had fun, early mornings with coffee and the river, a bald eagle, great laughs and tritip from the barbi. Ab.

5/16 Ab,

Hoping you can help me out. Do you have a list with any contract crews that may be hiring experienced ground pounders? I am looking for summer season employment (thru Sept or so ).

I am rated (with current red card, Ard. Physical) as FFT1, FALB, EMTB, with various other classes and certs.
I have several years of western exp. from Va. type 2 crews, and lots of region 8 experience working local. I am finding it difficult to find fed work that is not AD due to age. (36) I don't feel that old!!! Who would have thought that getting out of the office to go work in the woods would be so hard.

If you have any contacts that need good ward working help, please let me know or pass my info on. Thanks for any help you can give.

Thanks Gene-Paul.

You could check the crews on the Jobs page. Ab.
5/16 OK, somebody poke a hole in this logic:
  1. Fire order #4 tells us to establish escape routes and safety zones.
  2. We have research that tells how big a safety zone you need based on radiant heat (4 times flame height).
  3. There is no available research that tells us the effect of convective heat on the size of safety zone needed.
  4. There is almost always some kind of convective heat involved in an entrapment. Therefore,
  5. There is no way to know for sure if you're in compliance with fire order #4 - you have to make an estimate based on experience. And
  6. If you estimate wrong it will be YOUR FAULT.

Am I missing something, or is management putting us in a no-win situation?
It's hard to believe they haven't thought this through.

BCT

5/16 Nine dead in Russian wildfires.
www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,9578011%255E1702,00.html

OD
5/16 I have been with the forest service for almost ten years and I have had to work and work
hard to get to the position that I am in now. But now hispanics are getting these jobs with
no experience and will be getting promoted faster, this makes people look at me different.
I think its bull@$%#.

JN

p.s. I'm brown if you haven' figured that out!
5/15 No emails have come in this morning. We will post again Sunday evening. The Abs are in the wilderness without phone lines until then. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend. Ab.
5/14 I heard a very quiet whisper of a rumor of a burn-over and deployment in
Florida yesterday. Can anybody confirm or deny?

Curious

A firefighter did die in Florida yesterday. His death is being investigated as a heart attack. We'll post more as we can confirm it. Our condolences to his family and friends. Ab.
5/14 Lucky:

My state aviation director said that they have no set plan for the
deployment of rotor-wing resources in response to the heavy tanker
grounding, only that many helicopters might be prepositioned (another word
for rat-holed) in certain regions, districts, etc., that have high fire
danger and a high estimated rate of spread. This could mean type 1,2, or 3
aircraft based on need and availability. If it's going to be type 1 heavy
helicopters, the only personnel they would need would be a HCWN Manager and
maybe a trainee. If you are qualified for this, you might get quite a few
overtime hours this year due to standby needs. IF they decide to employ
the use of type 2 and 3 aircraft and crews, even if they deplete the
existing exclusive use crews available, there are plenty of CWN contracts
they can throw together with aircraft from all over North America (yes,
Canada has privileges too) and outfit them with a veritable army of HECM
qualified personnel across the continental U.S. and even Alaska and Hawaii
if necessary (AFS HCWN and HECMs seem to flood the lower 48 post July).

Some HECMs that come from the southeast talk funny (unless you emanated
from the good ole south) but are fun to work with and God knows there are
plenty out there who want the overtime. Check with your agency training
rep and see if there are any S-271 classes he can get you into so that you
can bring yourself and a taskbook if and when they call in the cavalry!

AC
5/14 Those who do not know of CDF's new outlook on web gear which changes from
year to year, Just last season they approved wearing any web gear that has osha
approval. Before we could only wear FSS issue web gear. But I guess my heart
burn with this issue is they want osha approved web gear correct, but you can
wear any kind of hose pack whether it be a military sack, FSS green pack,
Private vendor who makes what you want, the point is that maybe overhead need to
choose there battles and be careful how they choose them, remember firefighters
aren't lawyers and certainly not rocket scientist. After private vendors
threatened our dept. with lawyers and lawsuits our dept. finally gave in. If you
really think about it overhead should really look at themselves in how they
perform field and make decisions on the fire ground not what a firefighter wears
to accomplish a job safely and comfortably!

FF.
5/14 ah yes... the annual roundtable discussion on boots.

I started as an engine slug with (please don't laugh too hard) a pair of
Georgia Boots. I don't think we need to go any further on those other than
to say they barely made it one season.

My next pair was the Nick's 55F Forester, a great pair of boots. What I
appreciated most was the customer support provided by Nick's. As it was my
first time with a boot like that, I made several phone calls to Nick's and
was given fantastic advice all the way through the break-in process. Two
resoles later they are now my reliable back-up pair.

On the the 25V "Hotshot", which arrived a month or so ago. if you have a
thick rugby player calf like I do, get the custom cut upper so your laces
are tighter and you'll get better support. Once again, great customer
service from the staff at Nick's.

I can't emphasize enough what has been posted earlier about maintaining your
boots. I watched a drop of class A concentrate eat right through a fresh
grease job on my boots. and the water leaked right through that spot
immediately.

Whichever boot you buy; take care of the boot, it will take care of you.

~FireBill
5/14 I'm going to add my 2 cents to the endorsement of Nick's. Those guys are
great and they make great boots!
OD
5/14 The Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 & Series 0455 was updated on Tuesday and won't be updated again until Sunday evening. All Abs are on the road and the system is not letting us cut and paste OPM jobs from dialup. Apparently it is too slow and OPM times out.

I did a quickie job on some non-R5 fed and state announcements for experienced firefighters that came in and put them up on the Jobs page. BLM and NPS are still hiring in R5. Contractors are still hiring as well. Ab.

5/14 This just in from the Congressional Hearing today (05/13/2004) of the SUBCOMMITTEE ON FORESTS AND FOREST HEALTH, COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES, U.S. House of Representatives.


These quotes were part of the opening statement of Chairman Greg Walden at the congressional hearing titled ........

"Oversight hearing on firefighting preparedness: Are we ready for the 2004 Wildfire Season?"

..."Our firefighters on the ground and in the air deserve the safest conditions we can provide."...

...."As the severity of fire seasons has increased, budget problems and concerns have grown proportionally. One problem, in particular, is making it very difficult for the agencies to adequately fund key programs. Each year, due to the increase of large expensive fires, suppression money has become exhausted long before the wildfire season is over. This has forced the Forest Service to borrow money from other non-firefighting accounts. Consequently, serious harm has been done to the continuity and viability of Forest Service programs, including hazardous fuels reduction, essentially turning the Forest Service into the Fire Service.".....

..."Fortunately, thanks to Budget Chairmen Nussle and Nickles, language is currently included in the conference on the FY 2005 Budget Resolution that addresses this issue. If enacted, it will make available up to an additional $500 million in supplemental appropriations for fire suppression activities for FY 2004 through FY 2006. This would give the Forest Service enough flexibility to fight fires while also continuing—rather than halting or suspending—important projects. Furthermore, it would also allow the implementation of HFRA, which will help to reduce and prevent catastrophic wildfire."...

O.K.... now my view..... Federal Wildland Firefighters, for the most part, never wanted to be the "fire service", but they are firefighters. They do want to classified properly, be paid appropriately and be given comparable benefits. Every federal employee knows that they will NEVER be paid anything close to their counterparts, but atleast calculate our pay in a way that makes the Federal land management agencies the EMPLOYERS OF CHOICE and not the "puppy mill" recruiting factory for local, state, and DoD firefighting agencies....

The FWFSA has met with countless numbers of congressionals and agency officials and explained how HR 2963 will actually SAVE the government money.... Congress is listening and supporting... too bad that a key "green agency" can't offer support due to it's "group think" mentality... I guess they'll just go along for the ride again..... wasting hard earned taxpayer money... time and time again.

At the D.C. meetings, the "green agency" actually tilted their ignorance card..... they said that the "administration" didn't support HR 2963.... maybe they didn't notice that many of the authors and co-sponsors of HR 2963 were the very ones that got the Healthy Forests Restoration Act passed....

They recognized a problem... studied it...worked out the bugs... and fixed it with bi-partisan support...... That's exactly what they are doing on HR 2963.... It's bi-partisan and meant to save the federal government money while providing adequate benefits to federal employees... there has been alot of give and take behind the scenes..... The final product is good for the government, good for the federal employee, and good for the taxpayer. WIN-WIN.

Lobotomy

5/14 About Fire Boots-

Whites used to be the best game in town. That was my first pair
of "good" boots. Then I sent them back for a rebuild. I got my rebuilt
Whites back and they were TOO BIG! The custom boot makers measured the
stretched out lowers or something, and they were useless to me. Not only
that, but the new soles they put on were no where near the original quality.
I then purchased a pair of Nicks, and I will never go back [ or elsewhere ].
In fact, I had Nicks RE-rebuild my Whites, and they fit great as well. Nicks
uses they thickest vibram sole of any of the brands, and it lasts. As far as
Drews is concerned, I have heard good and bad. Go with Nicks Boots, and your
feet will be happy. Avoid the lace to toe [any brand] unless your feet are
really odd [they leak, and rot at the junction of all that stitching and
leather.] Get at LEAST a 10" upper [I prefer 12"].

Finally, care for your boots! They need regular applications of
grease to protect the leather. In addition, 3 - 4 times per year you should
wash them with saddle soap and a tooth brush. Then apply several coats of
oil. Once the oil has soaked in, apply a few coats of grease. Your boots
will last for years if you do this.

[And for engine folks, Class A is MURDER on boot leather.]

JSJ
5/13 "Ye Ha" it ain't enough that we have OSHA, state osha's. Now introducing
the Forest Services' Washington Office OSHA or WOOSHA. Maybe they can
work on save airtankers as their first big headliner project. See ya on
the line, you won't be able to miss me, I'll be the one wearing the full
body fire resistant ballistic chaps, a radar equipped hardhat, and air
purifier to keep the Carbon Monoxide from clouding my decision making
capabilities. Have fun and watch out for the man from WOOSHA.

Backburnfs

The new WO (Office of Safety & Occupational Health) Intranet site is up and
running. http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/OSOH/ (Accessible only within the FS.)

5/13 About boots

I bought my first pair of Whites smokejumpers in 1978 and wore them until
2000 (3 pairs total) I wear an 8 1/2 F so I need custom made boots. the
first pair was great, the last pair did not fit and I had to go back and
get them stretched. When the time came to get new soles on that last pair
they refused saying that a weak spot in the upper would develop a hole
before I could wear out a new pair of soles and invited me to order a new
pair. I disagreed and went down the road to Nicks. I now own 2 pairs of
Nicks Hotshots. They are far more comfortable, easier to get into when they
are damp, and fit like a glove. I will wear Nicks till I am too old to walk

Smokey's MT handler
5/13 The CDF type 1 crews in Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego are a "GO"
all three of these ranger units were allotted funds for 100 personnel that's
basically 2 crews per county and the others are relief positions similar to LA
Counties FSA program, but their type 1 status is in question -1. the # of
supervisors on the line is only 1 Capt.-2. the experience level of most of your crew
members are gonna be 1st year seasonals-3. how will they figure out the work
hrs. and locations to bed them down. It seems to me that this is not a long
lasting thing. With CDC and CYA taking the brunt of California's budget cut
backs we will see less and less of inmate crews out on the line. Due to custody
issues with our dept. "CDF" and the correctional officers, this is something that
is gonna be a political hot bed of controversy. Basically its already started
with CDC now joining the crews out on the line "its pretty funny" ! Me being
a former FS employee and leaving to advance my career on the "city side of
things" yeah wearing blue and working in the jungle-it was the best thing I ever
did!

FFA
5/13 One main thing to remember concerning the heavy airtankers. They are NOT
grounded, DOI and FS just cancelled their contracts. Big difference. They are NOT
grounded. Just no contracts.

SW Dispatcher
5/13 Ab,

Here's a link to a sample chapter from a 2003 book about leadership. http://www.loyolapress.com/store/title_extras.asp?index=3&mode=samplechapter&isbn=0829418164

It was written by a former Jesuit priest who became an investment banker for J.P. Morgan.

I believe this book is very relevant to the issues facing the wildland fire service today: Adapting to changes with the loss of the airtanker fleet. Dealing with minority hiring in R5. Finding agency support for IC decision-making. Working towards the better use of inter-agency, contract and cooperator resources.

Some people may laugh at the idea of using Catholic priests as a leadership role model for firefighters. It may be easier for folks to accept Sun Tzu or Attila the Hun. But the Jesuits have been handling 'all-risk' assignments for 450 years, while developing leadership skills at every level of their organization and supporting decisions made in the field (which for them, has spanned the entire globe.) They have been innovators in the use of new technology and in the inclusion of a diverse workforce. Long before ROSS, they have been dispatching scarce-but-qualified resources in support of incidents around the world.

The book is "Heroic Leadership" by Chris Lowney, published by Loyola Press. A longer review is posted on the 'about us' page of the Colorado Firecamp website.

vfd cap'n
5/13 Regarding boots.....
i have used and still use the White's Smokejumpers, and the Danner Firelines.....both great boots, the Danners are a considerable amount lighter, but both have pro's and cons......also i like the Nick's Roughouts...just my 2 cents

about the contract vs. gov't crew posts......
hmmmm where to begin....as a contract firefighter myself, i may sound biased, however, i have often thought of making the step to gov't crews....i had some bad experiences on contract hand crews, but it was based more on the crew boss and squaddies than the company itself.....i have worked for 2 of the more well-known contract crews in the northwest, both are great crews, just have some management issues.

Currently, i am on a contract engine crew, and am perfectly content where i am, we meet or exceed everything asked of us on the fireline, and have been requested by several IC's to return to fires after they have worked with us.

My advice is...ask alot of questions, get some input from crew members away from the crew bosses, and ask about what fires they have been on, how often are they out, and ask about safety records....and turn-over...if they have a medium to high rate of turn-over....chances are....it's not wise to work for them...

Stay Safe and Cool,
Smoke-Chaser In Idaho
5/13 RE: Airtankers grounded

I hear they're going to fill in with a lot of helicopters. Anybody know what
the plan is on that? Is the government going to be hiring support people for
those helicopters? or just using existing folks?

Thanks, -Lucky-
5/13 Jason,

I've been wearing Whites for the past 8 years, and have never had any complaints. I happen to live close to Drews in Klamath Falls, and have always bought my boots in their store, and have always had a perfect fit (no blisters in 8 years). Buying from Drews also works out nicely if a stitch starts coming loose on a fire. Since they run most of the commissaries I've seen in fire camp, I've been able to have my boots repaired in fire camp in 10 minutes or less. I've always had excellent service from Drews, and when talking to them about their own line of boots a few seasons back, I was told they essentially took what firefighters told them was the best points of both the Whites and the Hawthorns, and combined those features into their own line of boots. This season I am going to try out the Drews Linecutter 2's and see how they do.

John
5/13 Does anyone know the status of Butte CDF's 2 new type 1 handcrews?
Are they a "Go?" or will they be short crews due to no CCC crews this year?
What stations would the crews be run out of?

Fire Guy
5/13 Does anyone know the status of Butte CDF's 2 new type 1 handcrews? Are they a "Go?"
or will they be short crews due to no CCC crews this year? What stations would the
crews be run out of?

Fire Guy
5/13 RE: Airtankers grounded

I hear they're going to fill in with a lot of helicopters. Anybody know
what the plan is on that? Is the government going to be hiring support
people for those helicopters? or just using existing folks?

Thanks,
-Lucky-
5/13 Hello Ab-

I was perusing the vacancy announcements at USA Jobs the other day and got "that sinking feeling" in the pit of my stomach. So many fire positions and so few qualified candidates. The task that confronts our public land agencies is so immense that it boggles the mind! I see a large collision on the horrizon- the big bang and implosion of mass retirements combined with increasing complexity, green firefighters and fire managers. Fancy equipment and snazzy crew T-Shirts might not be enough to pull this rabbit out of our +*^%. So stay tuned and enjoy the ride- it should be a dandy one.

Joe Grey Hair and Broke Knees
FMO - Dead Wood Ranger District
Pyrocumulus National Forest
5/12 Hey Ab please dont discourage everyone from California engine jobs, while
it is true that the F.S. is under a hiring freeze there is still NPS. BLM,
and USFWS.

So Cal BLM

Sorry about that, I fixed it. Ab.
5/12 Hey everyone,

I'm sure those of you who have read theysaid know about the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, our community's organization for helping wildland firefighters and their families when terrible things happen. Every year the Foundation struggles to raise adequate funds to fly family members to accident sites and home again, to pay motels and car rental fees and to provide funds the family can use for their immediate expenses. Almost everyone who works at the Foundation donates their time so all the donated money can go where it's needed most -- to support our fire families.

There's a new program for donating to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The webpages went up today. I think (and hope) this fundraising effort is about to "go gunneysack". It's called the 52 CLUB and is based on the idea that everyone can afford a dollar a week(52 weeks in a year) to help fellow firefighters and their families in times of unthinkable crisis. One $52 check from one person (or 52 - $1 checks) can do some good. Many $52 checks from lots of people can do a WHOLE LOT OF GOOD.

I sent in my check. I just noticed on the donor's list that Ab did too for wildlandfire.com. Hey, FWFSA, get your members to join the $52 club! I sent a check - I like a stamp and an envelope. PayPal is good, but they take their cut. 'Sides, I love the mental image of all the checks piling up on the Director's desk. <heh> Vicki Minor, the Founder and Director of the Foundation deserves to have a year when she doesn't have to stay awake nights wondering if there will be enough money to take care of folks. And she deserves to have the actual pile too! For those who don't know, she waw a need and began this creation in 1994 after Storm King. It's now almost 10 years. She's kept it going and it's been getting better since then. Yeah, she deserves to see the Foundation really FLY.

Vicki says to remind you "Whatever the Foundation does for any person, we tell that person that it comes from every wildland firefighter out there." To injured firefighters and firefighter families who need a hug and some practical support, that's a whole lot of hugging from our community.

I won't tell all the stories or share all the details, go to the website for that. But one structural department firefighter from near Storm King came into the foundation as the website was being created, he was touched, he signed up and pledged to sign up 51 more structural firefighters who want to support their wildland brothers and sisters.

Now there's a concept! Tell your coworkers, tell your crewmates and teammates. Ask your boss to create a way to deduct it from your first fire paycheck (or your second one if you really need those boots). Offer some challenges to friends, family and competitors! Get kids in your community involved. Service organizations. Bump up! Let's make this something big that provides a cushion for the Foundation and for our community!

Mellie (Thanks Vicki, Thanks Original Ab, I love you Dudes! and I am so thankful for this firefighting community.)

5/12 local news is covering the "beginning of firefighting season" with advice for homeowners in urban interface. on today's noon news, KCRA-TV did a nice (albeit short) piece on specialized firefighting equipment; also lots of new firefighting tools including foam, lightweight kevlar pants, the demonstration was provided by TycoWildfire.

the news clip will probably be rerun on the 5-7 PM news tonite (Wed). saw a sweet little hand held pump too. there may be a link on the KCRA website by now, dunno.

Northzone 5
5/12 So we all know everyone has their preferences in which brand of boots to get for wildland firefighting. However nobody usually specify's which model. I.E. White's Smokejumpers, Drew's Rough Shots, etc. So whats the favorites? Just looking at what to get so I can break them in you know? Mostly I'm interested in either White's or some Hathorns.

Let me hear it. Thanks.

Jason
5/12 joke
from Red Army Wife (now turned to the green side!)

How does a wildlandfire fighter put out a grease fire in the kitchen?
He backburns the Living room.
5/12 does anyone know if they need engine company guys in R 5.

ROD
5/12 I have been reading the Air Tankers Pilot Association message board.

I was wondering how many MAFFs equipped C130s are available for use, now that the contractor ships have been grounded. Which leads to my next question, will these afore mentioned aircraft be used as initial attack aircraft or will we have to wait for the poop to engage the props before they are called into service.

Does it take an act of a state governor declaring a disaster to get the aircraft flying? What exactly is the chain of command and red tape to get the Air National Guard to fly firefighting missions?

Enquiring minds want to know!

Retired L.A.V.E.
5/12 I was looking at the fireleadership website this morning with my cup of coffee (recreation before work) and came upon the article by Shattuck entitled Communicating Intent and Imparting Presence (pdf file). Interesting article on leadership from a military man. Here's an excerpt.

If the enemy commander has 10 possible courses of action, but the friendly commander,
restricted by the senior commander, has only one course of action available, the enemy
clearly has the advantage. But, if the friendly forces senior commander, through a minimally
constraining intent statement, empowers his subordinates, they can adapt to any situation
they confront.

It seems to me that some of what Shattuck has to say about "intent = purpose + method + endstate" is relevant to how we might change our way of fighting wildland fire, especially in light of all the rules, regs and checklists that have come out of recent tragic incidents. Narrowly defined rules and checklists -- to the degree that they constrain other logical options that have integrity in a moment-by-moment changing environment -- could be dangerous. I am thinking in particular of the 3+ day IA socal fires of last fall.

Mellie

Not to make light of the loss of property and life... Do we realize how lucky we were that things did not go even worse than they did??? Are we ready for the fires to come this season?

5/12 Nerd:

I read your post and agree, however, the truth in the matter in starting
with a contract crew and switching to a federal job is slightly more
telling. Having done the hiring and helping to do the hiring for both a type I
IHC crew and a rappel crew, I can offer this: although candidates who work
for a contract crew are considered for the job as having adequate
experience to qualify, many times a candidate with agency (BLM, USFS, USFWS,
BIA or NPS) experience will be selected ahead of those with contract crew
experience. This isnt necessarily because those who work for the contract
crews aren't good candidates or wouldnt make good agency firefighters.
The fact that many contract crews have had some bad press in the
past and the reputation of all contract crews has suffered because of it
isnt necessarily the reason this is so. It more has to do with the rapport
and experience crew bosses, engine bosses and IHC superintendents in the
federal agencies have with one another. When one crew boss of a type II
district handcrew calls and recommends a candidate or gives that candidate a
good reference, it will generally be someone familiar or at the very least
a friend of an associate. Hiring bosses can get first or second hand
reliable info on the candidate from someone they know, as opposed to speaking
to a private contractor that might or might not have been with an agency
crew in the past. Although there are some exceptions (some private crews
are comprised of people with genuine agency rapport), for the most part I'd
rather call the guy who I worked with 2 or 3 fires in the past several
years and ask about an ex-employee than speak to someone who I've never
met. As bad as this sounds and in need of change, its just the sad truth
at the moment.

AC

PC vs reality? Not surprising to me since firefighters' lives often depend on the members of their crew. Ab.

5/12 Ab could you please add this award to to the wildland firefighter awards page?

Courage And Valor Award: Captain Doug McDonald (with the story of the burnover)

Doug McDonald, Novato Fire Department CA repeatedly attempted to save Steve Rucker's life on the the Cedar Fire, San Diego Co, 10/29/03

The award is made for a singular act of extraordinary courage and valor in the line of duty, however it recognizes all firefighters for their daily commitment to the core fire service values and to life safety.

Novato Firefighter

I added it to the Awards Page. Ab.

5/12 From Firescribe:

I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion on the cancellation of the airtankers.
If you haven't looked at what is being said about the ATs around the West and across the US, check the fire news page. Here's one good one:

AZ Governor leads fight to restore air tankers
www.azcentral.com

Many western states that have little water, huge distances of open and rugged land, and also lots of WUI (wildland urban interface) need airtankers in their firefighting toolbox. California may need them less than some states. Helitankers that have greater limits on range than ATs just won't work as well in AZ, CO, MT as in CA. We firefighters need to be asking ourselves "what tools do firefighters across the US need and how can we have that?"

The FS and BLM "powers that be" did not make the ATs go away: a long past history of economy and mindset did. The NTSB handed down the verdict which shocked the hell out of the WO. Basically they offered the FS one solution and one solution only, which was to dump the AT tool from the toolbox. It's the NTSB report that should be questioned. In my opinion, it is out of the FS hands -- unless you can convince the lawyers of the FS (and the President) that either more crashes are not inevitable following the after action "fixes" of last season or that huge lawsuits and public outcry wouldn't follow on the heels of another AT crash.

A prime question someone should be asking:
How valid are the NTSB's conclusions about inspections and airworthiness? After looking at more than one company's inspection program, might they reconsider and not make the FS responsible for incredibly costly inspections?

For more discussion check the AT message board. Ab.

5/12 NorCal Tom

What do you mean by "the hiring process will stay open until May 15th"
Does that mean if I'm not called by May 15th, I won't be getting a US Forest
Service job offer?

First time FF
5/12 Ab,

I just hope that when they hire these new apprentices the person knows what kind
of commitment they are making, because it is a big one. For someone coming
in with no experience they are probably making a 9 or 10 year commitment.
It will take them, I?m guessing, at least three years to finish the apprenticeship.
Then the service agreement kicks in, which would be just shy of 6 years.
If they voluntarily leave federal service in that time they will be billed
for both academies.
According to the service agreement they sign, this bill
will be for around $7000. Ouch.

No name on this one.

And if people feel they have to stay because they can't pay or they want to stay in spite of being less than competent, we have a whole new group of disgruntled FS employees who draw fire, are more likely to file grievances, and might even call in the legal beagles to go after some kind of personal financial settlements for them. Ab.
5/12 getting a job

its dodgy dog world out there. the only thing i can say is politic and be resourceful.
get your name out there and work at it. you need to aggressive. dont be afraid to
pick up the phone and call people. but be careful, you can talk your way out of a job.

ff cnf

5/12 FireChica:

What is the difference between smokejumper handline and a deer trail?
The deer trail is only burned on one side.

At a party a baby cries, three people respond in unison, "He'll make a fine hotshot."

What is the difference between a State Forestry shovel and a Forest Service shovel?
The State shovel can stand by itself.

These are the three basic wildland firefighter jokes. Can anyone else take us to the next level?

Fuels Guy
5/12 Yellowjacket, wisdom is defined as making due use of knowledge; discerning and judging soundly concerning what is true or false, proper or improper; choosing the best ends and the best means for accomplishing them. Sounds much like common sense to me. Solomon was given a choice between wisdom and wealth, chose wisdom, got both. I think that if you lack common sense, you don't have the common sense to know it. I don't much think you can learn common sense, or there would be courses at the universities. Read Proverbs some time.

Dave, I was curious how you reacted to the other 13/18 situations when you encounter them on the line?

I am going to miss the sound of radial engines firing up.

Tim
5/12 FCB,

You seem to have misunderstood my post.

First, I have no problem sleeping in tents. Under most conditions it can be much more
efficient than driving an hour to a motel. I have had opportunities to ‘go red’ and have
not because I love what our mission should be.

Second, your distinction between ‘managing fires’ and putting them out is bogus! The
difference, in my experience, is that the FS is better at looking at the long term, having
contingency plans and not ‘initial attacking’ everyday.

Last, specific examples include: efficient and concise planning meetings, not the hour long
marathons I have witnessed in CDF ‘Type 1’ planning meetings. Actually looking out for
the ground troops instead of posing for the cameras (again, witnessed first hand on CDF
team fires.)

And, the big one, rationally planning out realistic contingency plans.

DST
5/12 to AB
to answer your question

i have all CDF certs S-190 S-130 I-100 HaZ MAT Confined Space, Along With medical stuff. I have exp. as an explorer. I actually just got back from a greecy medical aid when i am writing you. Im in SO.CAL. i would go anywhere I needed -R5 or wherever. I tried to apply to USFS using that acuvision services BS! but never even got a response. I made Ban 1 for CDF up north and just interviewed with san diego cdf two weeks ago. Im really hoping for that to come through. they said ill get a call beginning of june.

KID
5/11 Hold on Little yellowjacket you certainly do live up to your name. Life
is a game. It is baseball and reaching home safely is the only thing
that counts. And I'm not sure about some folk's common sense, what have
you been taught?

Dave
5/11 All Risk, but not All Risk at the Same Time

Mellie,

you bring up an interesting point that I have wondered about since I started
working in R-5. R-5 engines have BA's & turnouts, but are we really trained
how to use them? I think i got 1 hour+ of related training during my short
stay on an Engine. Did i ever go on a vehicle or structure fire? Nope. What
would i have done if I was in the situation? The best i could, I guess.

See, the Feds, esp in R-5 respond to All-Risk hazards whether they're
technically supposed to or not, but we're not trained for it. Haz-Mat? You
betcha. Anyone remember the Junkyard Fire on the LP ~2 years ago- was a
brushfire that burned up a bunch of abandoned cars & rubber tires & random
trash. Coulda been a half-dozen places in South Zone. Sounds like all-risk
to me.

Car accidents- I did CPR on Motorcyclist that crashed his bike into some
railing along the Angeles Crest Hwy on the 4th of July. It just happened
that I was on that engine on that particular day. I was the only EMT. I
think the Captain had CPR training, or maybe first responder. But I'm not
sure. We spent ~15 minutes with the guy before LA Co FD paramedics arrived.
The guy died- we did the best we could. Sounds like all-risk to me.

So what happens when someone's cabin catches fire in the woods & the green
engines show up first? Cut line around the place & light a backfire? I don't
think so. We fight the structure fire. Someone's trapped inside? "I'm sorry
ma'am, but we haven't been trained on that yet..." No. Like the FS has
always done- you do your job & whatever is asked of you the best you can.
You give it the old college try, because that's just what we do. And what we
do looks a lot like all-risk.

>From what I've seen in R-1, they don't do vehicle accidents or medical
emergencies out there. But this is R-5, and working in the urban interface
is an inescapable reality. And the real problem is that as our job
environment & demands have changed, the organization is still half-stuck in
the "Forestry Technician" mentality. But in truth, we are professional fire
fighters, whether it's on paper or not.

CDF likes to make a big deal about how they're an all-risk dept (i know, I
worked there), and I gotta say that the only difference between CDF & the
Feds in R-5 is that the CDF guys actually get the training. It's the same
job folks, and it underscores a glaring oversight on the part of the
Regional organization to come to grips with reality. And it starts with the
0462 job series & the Forestry Tech title and ends with the people on the
ground who are unequipped, untrained, and working their asses off to do the
best they can with what little they got.

Look, I am no glut for more training, more classes, more time away from the
woods. But we need to start thinking seriously about what our job has become
in this place & age and it ain't just swatting at brush anymore. We are an
all-risk organization and we need to start thinking like one.

-Nomad
5/11 Someone PLEASE hire me. I'm rated a number 2 on several Northern Calif. CDF lists though I really want to enter the apprenticeship program for the Forest Service. I've taken Basic Wildland firefighting, Wildland Fire Contol, EMT, Haz. Mat. , Confined Space Awareness, Swift Water Rescue Awareness, Plus some other fire science classes.

Is there anyway I can find out if I made it on "the list" for the USDA Forest Service? Unfortunately I'm not hispanic. Would it do me any good to visit the stations? I want a job so bad that I can smell the smoke. At this point in the season, what can I do to increase my chances of getting hired? Is there any hope?

Josh H.
5/11 OK.... I'm a long time federal wildland firefighter.... a second class citizen, as the Forest Service WO folks would think.......... I'm a Forestry Technician and not a "PROFESSIONAL"......

I've been on the firelines for over twenty years...... and am about to jump ship to a better paying department.... since they offer better pay, benefits, and retirement... They offer me a realistic pay scale based upon my experiences.


OK... FS WO folks and nay sayers........ put up or shut up.... Does the WO support or oppose the things coming from the "ground" to the "top"..... Your voice is actually the saving "Grace" of the organization or the "death knell" of the Forest Service. It's your decision... Speak or be silent..... listen to the folks in the field or be silent and observe a silent death...... or listen to the politicians..... It's your decision.... But the history of the USFS is in your hands..... I hope you speak your mind...... We saw how you handled the airtanker thing and aren't really impressed.........damn shame........

Wildland firefighters (and politicians) are watching and waiting for answers......

Rogue Rivers
5/11 Whoa, Ozone!

I’ve got some friends who got great experience with reputable, responsible contract crews, then wound up ahead of the curve when they decided to “settle down” to government work. Let’s not generalize. Kid, it’s really going to depend on the crew…ask around, talk to your prospective crew, talk to crews who have worked with your prospective crew. If they’ve got a reputation as being safe, competent, and on-the-ball, if you feel good with them, and they see good fire (better yet, if the same ICs keep inviting them back), go for it.

Nerd on the Fireline
5/11 How many times have you exceeded exposure limits for carbon monoxide?

EXPOSURE LIMITS

* OSHA PEL
The current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) for carbon monoxide is 50 parts per million (ppm) parts of air (55 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m(3))) as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) concentration [29 CFR Table Z-1].

* NIOSH REL
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established a recommended exposure limit (REL) for carbon monoxide of 35 ppm (40 mg/m(3)) as an 8-hour TWA and 200 ppm (229 mg/m(3)) as a ceiling [NIOSH 1992].

* ACGIH TLV
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has assigned carbon monoxide a threshold limit value (TLV) of 25 ppm (29 mg/m(3)) as a TWA for a normal 8-hour workday and a 40-hour workweek [ACGIH 1994, p. 15].


www.osha.gov/SLTC/healthguidelines/carbonmonoxide/recognition.html

RR
5/11 To my weird person friend who sometimes tilts at wind machines and sends people
looking for squeek trees, please email. I lost your email addy.

Mellie
5/11 A kid who needs advice,

I would rather whittle a beak and pick s@#! with chickens than work for a contract crew, stick with the government.

Ozone

Kid, are you already employed? Are you applying? For state or fed? Are you in R5 or another region? Ab.
5/11 The Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated.

The Lassen National Park is looking for seasonal temp firefighters for those who want a summer job.

Ab.

5/11 As a young FF is it worth my time to work for a contract crew or should i stick with the gov?

a kid who needs advice
5/11 Ab, my 2 cents worth... Here's a clue to Blackwell's lack of safety awareness...

R5 Forester Blackwell has set up the meeting in Vallejo so that those of us in the most
far flung California forests have to violate the work/rest guidelines to get there on time.
Would he be held accountable if someone died in an accident? One BIG HOLE in the
swiss cheese model of accidents exists at the top of the R5 Forest Service and he's not
in fire.

He didn't come today or I would have told him in person.

R5 FF
5/11 Does anybody know how many ff 1s CDF san diego are planning on hiring for this season?

KB
5/11 Mellie,

Your response to my post is well taken. One point though- one of the main
problems here is that fire managers do not appoint or hire anyone. We are
asked to do the footwork and make recommendations only. The line officers
are the selecting officials. In this case, the individual forest
supervisors are the selecting officials. Blackwell is basically dictating
to them what he wants. The fire managers are certainly working behind the
scenes to try to provided them with pertinent info to arm themselves with,
but none of that seems to be having any effect in this case. In fact it
seems to be creating an even stronger backlash (ie the nasty conference
calls yesterday). Line officers everywhere ought to be concerned about
the perception this whole thing creates on their overall ability to manage
a complex fire organization.

I, for one, will be very interested in what your legal friend has to say and
will be looking forward to joining your letter writing campaign. FYI, I
have heard some hispanics that currently already work in the fire community
are organizing their own response with advice from lawyers also.

Yes indeedy, it ain't over till it's over.

Still Cares
5/11 Mellie, thanks for going to bat for us. Here's some more info on R5 hiring. We don't actually do the hiring, only recommend to the forest line officers.

We're meeting today in Vallejo with managers from all the other CA forests to sort out who gets hired on which forest.

Before I begin with the details:
First) all of us in FS fire are for a diverse work force of fully qualified, professional firefighters. We are for using outreach and then hiring quality within the applicant pool. My objections to this year's hiring fiasco are that the current process is very late and disruptive. It should have happened in January. Having to go through this now puts our people at risk. We already are having fire starts around the state and we don't even have our force already hired and into training.

Second) it is and has been clear from Blackwell's behavior and statements that if a certain hiring "mix" does not occur, it will not be approved. This is tantamount to his saying that A QUOTA WILL BE ENFORCED. His attitude toward us is evident; he hasn't even come to the meetings today. His staff is being very careful not to use the Q word. It's clear that they are working to set up the FS legal disclaimer, although Blackwell's actions and messages are clearly yelling QUOTA.

The details:
We received the applicant pool list on our forest on Friday May 7. It included names of those who requested our forest as their first preference for the place they'd like to work as well as those who said they would go anywhere in CA.

We had two days had to choose and contact people. Our folks had to work over the weekend. We began with those who we had outreached with and then went to the list of several hundred that came to us out of the state outreach drive from the cities. All forests did not get the same number of applicants. The Cleveland, for ex had 1150 on their list. We sorted through our applications and began calling. All applicants on our list spoke English.

My forest rose to the occasion with many people working hard and on the weekend to get thru the applicants. I came to this Vallejo meeting with a list of people equal to what we need. Some of those were also on some other forests' lists. I am told there are 633 duplicate apps among forests. This is more than the number of people we're hiring state-wide. When we have had overlaps of people that more than one forest wants, we honor the applicant's first choice which helps with housing and retention. In several cases where the applicant has said they will go anywhere we have called them to get them to choose.

This hiring process will stay open through May 15.

It is still up in the air as to whether new hires will be trained centrally. That would make sense so forests that have already done their training modules would not be disrupted too much more.

Housing is one real challenge. We have not had money allocated for housing in the past years. We'll be hard pressed to find places to stay for the new people who are coming from out of the area. This is likely to affect retention.

It's clear that we're moving toward a permanent fire workforce. That's good, BUT... Temps that make it through the academy are assured an 18 /8 appointment with higher pay and benefits than a temp's pay. (18/8 is a permanent 9 month appointment.) The increasing tours will make a more steady workforce available for All Risk incidents. Unfortunately, this process is not occurring in light of the good job we've been doing in fire and the budget effects of this process have not been addressed. What I am concerned about is that future budget allocation will not take into account that we will now have more people holding permanent jobs as a condition of their Academy Training. The money to pay for those more expensive jobs has not yet been allocated through Congress. If it is not allocated, the money will come out of existing budget which will result in a net loss to fund firefighting resources.

NorCal Tom

5/11 Hey Dave,

So, you're telling me that you've never mobed to a fire in the dark (watch-out #2)?
You've never hiked into a fire in the timber (w.o. #12)?
You've never been to a fire with moderate to steep slopes (w.o. #13 and #17)?
You've never built indirect line (w.o. #11)?
You've never gotten multiple spot fires (w.o. #16)?
The wind never changes direction on your fires (w.o. #15)?
You "take yourself off shift and get to a safe area" every day when the weather gets hotter and drier (w.o. #14)? Or maybe the temperature and relative humidity never change on your fires?

Do I need to go on?

In your last post, you said "If you want to win, you have to play by the rules!" Do you think firefighting is a game?

I ask the question again: Is common sense only instinctive or can it be taught?

Yellowjacket
5/11 Air Tankers, End of an Era

How many aerial firefighting/ support companies just went out of business today? I am just as concerned about the safety of the fight crews and the people who work under these beasts, if the aircraft can't do the job safely then they shouldn't be flying. I guess we will find out how useful or not these big birds really were. It looks as if the air tanker photo section maybe a historical archive on "They Said".

I just wonder how many people will be hitting the unemployment line? Many thanks for all the work these fine talented folks have done over the years and I further hope good things for all the people this will affect. Both in the air and on the ground as well as the firefighters on the lines. Is this like the dinosaurs going extinct, is this the end of an era, what's next? Will the Canadians come to the rescue with the scooper line of aircraft?

Just want to thank the management for this web site, it gives me something to look forward to.

Retired L.A.V.E.

Ditto from this Ab. I wish the airtanker community the best and thank them for the wonderful job of air support they've done through the years. It's hard to imagine not having them available for IA on the Plumas, the Shasta T, the Six Rivers, etc where terrain is so rough. Ab.
5/11 Dear FCB and Everybody,

I think that we wouldn't have to go into so much of a blind panic about putting fires out in the urban interface if we were able to get the public to implement Firewise principles. Jack Cohen has demonstrated quite soundly, at this point, that a wildfire can pass through an area and leave many, if not all, of the building still standing without fire service intervention. I would like make a proposal.

I don’t know about everyone else but when I am flying on a plane, or chit-chatting with someone on the corner, people always are interested in the fact that I work in wildfire. These make for GREAT opportunities to educate the public. I think everyone in the fire world should make it their personal responsibility to know about what people can do to keep their homes safe. A better prepared public means that we put less of our people in harms way.

I encourage everyone to go take a look at: www.firewise.org/usa/
This is our solution to our interface woes!

Thanks,
OD
5/11 Re R5 Hispanic Quotas:

MINIMUM STANDARD for hire: in this case would include - but not be limited to - being able to read, write, speak and understand English. Seems to me an English proficiency test should be the first logical prerequisite for hire and appointment to the Academy. Clear communication is implied or stated in each of the 10 Fire Orders.

Managers, do not hire anyone that you have not talked with to determine their ability to speak and understand ENGLISH.

Mellie, I have wondered about the legality of Blackwell's directives. Worse than losing jobs, I worry about loosing lives.

Tahoe Terrie

5/11 Still Cares,

It is my opinion that Regional 5 Forester Jack Blackwell is simply a high level, micromanaging bean counter who does not understand either how UN-SAFE his QUOTA demands are, how ILLEGAL his QUOTA demands are or how his QUOTA demands will result in yet again another FLEECING OF AMERICA by the Forest Service under the guise of hiring diversity.

This is where we are:
Hiring outreach has now been completed with the job fairs that were held. What I have learned from a number of sources is that this has resulted in 1,700 applicants for the 400 seasonal temporary positions whose hiring was held up by the hiring freeze. Of these1,700, approximately 50 % were minorities of some sort (oh wait, that includes female applicants who no longer can be counted).

Fire Managers, I suggest the following:
Regardless of what Blackwell demands, stick to your turbojets. The standard operating procedure is that you do outreach, then from the pool of eligible applicants, you make selections based on MERIT alone. We have legal recourse to not deviate from that SOP even if we don't reach Blackwell's QUOTA. We also have a moral obligation to choose and train the BEST candidates and to not choose anyone who cannot meet a minimum standard.

Appoint people to the academy based on ability, not ethnicity, race or gender. If ALL fire managers do this no one will loose their job over not following Blackwell's ill-advised demands.

I am in the early stages of planning a letter writing campaign directed toward all levels of governments within the state. Emails to those I organize for such a letter writing campaign will go out soon. I also have a call in to a lawyer friend to find out exactly what we can say and do on the legal front. Stay tuned.

Thanks for your good work keeping firefighters and the public safe.

Mellie

5/11 Disgruntled Tent Sleeper,

The Forest Service and CDF have always had different missions. The
Forest Service wants to mange the fire, CDF wants to put the fire out. While
we could learn allot about managing fire from the Forest Service, those
principals do not apply to urban interface fires. These are the fires that
are on TV and everybody sees. If the fire is not put out in the first
burning period and the situation warrants an aggressive attack so be it.
That is what we do. Fight fire aggressively but provide for safety.
You stated that we could learn allot from Forest Service "Type 2"
teams. Any examples of the lessons that could be taught?

And as for being a "Disgruntled Tent Sleeper" , change jobs. We will all
be relieved if the portal to portal bill passes. No more having to wrestle
with Shot Crews or Engine Crews about the myriad of different pay rules.

Hopefully motels will be addressed as well. Everybody is tired of hearing
about that as well.

FCB
5/11 Just wanted to address a couple of things I been hearing on this. Sleeping on the line? I've done it. A good supervisor knows when to rest the troops. Sometimes resources are stretched thin. There's nobody to fill in behind you. So you have to improvise and adapt. You just sleep in the black for a couple of hours. Keeping lookouts awake in shifts. Pull yourself off shift? Yea right. That'll get you de-mobed pretty fast.

Somebody else was complaining about not getting a shower or a motel room after one shift. Poor babies. Fires are by nature emergencies. Meaning they happen without warning. Things take time to get organized. I'd recommend carrying some handy wipes and gold bond powder. That ought to keep the monkey butt away. Just be glad you got invited to the fire.

Hispanic resolution? Sounds like the consent decree of the eighties. Lot of people got screwed in that deal. Isn't it nice to know the top brass rolls over every time some lawyer files a complaint. There were those couple of years where anybody under 37 with a heartbeat could get a permanent job with the feds. Nothing that good lasts forever. In the meantime there's plenty of other states and other agencies. California's getting too crowded and expensive anyway.

That's my two cents.
~Lucky~
5/11 Lobo,

I have some good field gridding pictures of Texas recovery. Abs can link.

SRS
5/11 This morning on the radio I was hearing about various governors being "hopping mad" about the tankers being grounded.

I am so frustrated with people. They are just making the problem worse! Rather than pointing fingers and people trying to blame the FS-who is just trying to protect peoples' LIVES- why can't they stop and say "what can we do to fix this? This is what our country has deteriorated to these days: a shouting match. We need to be calm and productive not all overreactive and dramatic.

OD
5/11 IS THERE ANYONE FROM THE WASHINGTON OFFICE OUT THERE LISTENING?????

Today (May 10) several conference calls took place in R5 in which Regional Forester Blackwell personally ripped Forest Supervisors and fire managers all over the state and made a new round of psychotic demands concerning his version of how to pacify the monitor of the Hispanic Resolution. These are not his exact words but these messages (among a number of others) were strongly worded and made very clear to those listening:

Of the 600 positions targeted for apprentices 75% of the selections WILL BE DIVERSE.
Women DO NOT COUNT in the 75%.
DO NOT HIRE LOCALS that do not meet this target.
The applicant's potential to succeed does not matter in any way, diversity is the main objective.


At 1700 on Friday, May 7 selection certificates were electronically delivered to the 19 R5 forests with attached applications. The forests were given until close of business on Monday (today) to enter their share of recommended candidates on a regional database. Many forests had 800-1000+ applicants on their certs, to evaluate in some form of legal process. However, it seems legal process is not the concern here.

The hispanic resolution is very clear that there are to be no quotas, but I suspect class action lawyers everywhere would be salivating if they knew how many employees are about to be pushed into a formal stance by this latest insanity.

I hope this doesn't get lost in the many posts about the airtankers, which are also important...but this should also serve as a warning that many slices of swiss cheese are lining up in R5. If you fight fire here this summer, be aware.

sign me
Still Cares
5/11 Ab, I need help from the readers of "They Said".

I am looking for photos of "all risk" or "non-traditional" responses showing federal wildland firefighters at work...... Local action, FEMA response, or "chicken choking".... anything outside of the normal wildland fire response activities.

I have lots of photos from R-5, some from R-3, and a couple from R-4.... But I'd like to get some from other regions as well... and many more from ALL of the regions.... I'd really like to see some photos from the Department of Interior side.....

Could you forward... or post.... or create a "link" to any photos that might come in?

Thanks in advance....

Lobotomy
5/11 Abs post of 5/10 should be a wake-up call for everyone living in wildland fire country - sure hope they are lurking & reading! -also informative for all the groundpounders out there this season.... looks like none on the "back country" fireline will complain about being "slimed" this year... :)

Experienced WFFs have long recognized the Heavies/most slurry droppers are ancient machines. time to face up to the fact that too many have gone down in recent years ... those crews performed incredibly; God rest their souls.

TG! average age of "large airtankers is 48 years with some more than 60 years old." Don't those facts wake everyone up? METAL FATIGUE alone, without a retrofit for additional stressful air miles!

Ab, et al. please address the likelihood of smokejumpers catching backwoods fires early (and how that may effect others), advise/help all WWF folk without a scaring the bejeasus out of the new-to-fire people (regardless of their involvement).

SAFE SEASON ALL,

River

P.S. gossip, like rumor/supposition/conjecture, etc is NOT a good tool

5/11 Jason,

I took that same interview many moons ago. I remember that I was one of a few candidates that wore a suit with a tie. It paid off well along with some previous experience. If you don't have any experience don't worry. Just talk up what you have done to prepare yourself for the job and use terms that will perk up their (the interviewers) ears. Always go with safety (key word) and just be yourself.

Some basic homework won't hurt either. Know the job you have applied for and be willing to tell why you want it, what you have done to prepare for the job, what is special about you (good or bad) and some information about yourself. ( The hardest product to sell)

I remember that at the end of my interview one of the raters asked me what I thought of the Rams chances that year in the upcoming football season. (Thats how long ago it was the Rams were in Anaheim) I was somewhat stunned and asked him to repeat the question. He smiled and said "don't worry you've got the job, I just wanted to see what you knew about football". He was right I got the job but can not remember how the Rams did that year. I hope your interview goes as well. Good Luck.

Firesout

Jason,if you look back through the last month archive, you'll find more info on the types of questions. Ab.
5/11 Re the sleeping near the fireline,

It has to do with the remark that sleeping on the fireline was 'merely a
watch out situation' and or a 'time honored tradition'. Each of the 13
watch outs was used to describe a situation that has killed at some time
in the past. Sleeping on the fireline should not be used to gain some
advantage on the work-rest guidelines it is too dangerous. If you or
your crew genuinely needs the rest take yourself off shift, get to a
safe area and get some sleep. There is no room on the fireline for
sleeping. If you are utterly exhausted, still absolutely not on the
line. No excuses!

If you are willing to ignore one watchout you will ignore others. Do not
jeopardize your life! Learn and understand the 10 Standard Firefighting
orders and the 13 Watchout situations. If you want to win you have to
play by the rules!

Dave
5/11 DSF

Interesting observation about the YOU being deleted on the latest list of 13 watchouts. We
should strive to get every firefighter to take the fire orders and watchouts PERSONALLY.

Strider

5/10 ff cnf trabuco ranger district:

welcome to the trabuco. not to harp on details, but your cnf engine count forgot 8 engines.

Old Crusty Guy
5/10 CDF's S2s aren't cancelled, right. They kinda "belong to" the state but wait,
technically they're "owned" by the feds, right? What's their status? Are they
airworthy? What a strange surrealistic world we're in?

"One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small,
And the pills your mother gives you don't do anything at all,
Go ask Alice, when she's 10 feet tall..."

No more Jefferson Airplane?

5/10 To FSB re: CDF Fire Camps

I have worked for a couple of CDF 'Type 1' Teams, and it is my desire never to do so again.

They 'initial attack' the fire daily, regardless of the size and complexity.

They have little regard for the 'non contract' troops.

They could learn alot from 'Type 2' federal Teams.

Not a rip on the CDF troops, just the overhead.

Signed,

Disgruntled Tent Sleeper.
5/10 Wow, Yet another blow to the FF efforts, less air tankers, cannot fill all our temp slots
due to the Hispanic Resolution, and an early fire season.

What next?

BB
5/10 More information and talking points from multiple sources, including but not limited to BLM Girl, Ironwing, Lobotomy, MS, TC.

Large Airtanker Contract Termination --
Key Points - 5/10/04

The Fire Management leaders of the agencies created a short-term strategy for 2004 that will incorporate increased pre-positioning of resources, additional helicopters and helitankers, additional Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) and prioritization of resources to be protected.

Large airtankers are primarily used for initial attack and structure protection support. While other aviation assets will be used to offset the lack of airtankers, homeowners and communities should take action today to reduce their fire danger by reducing fuels and using the FIREWISE concepts.

This decision may result in a reduced amount of retardant used in firefighting. During the past 3 years, airtankers delivered about 20% of all the suppressant (retardant, foam and water) used on fires. However, due to the condition of the fleet, we reduced the amount of retardant load by weight carried by these airtankers. For the past decade, the amount of retardant delivered by airtankers has been trending downwards, while helicopter suppressant delivery is increasing.

In 2003, the agencies paid nearly 30 million dollars for airtankers during the fire season. With the termination of the contract, the cost of paying contract airtanker companies for preparing to fulfill the contract, including maintenance, inspections, training and overhead will be about 10 million dollars.

Any unspent dollars associated with the termination of the contract will be used to offset the cost of additional firefighting resources to mitigate the reduction in airtankers. Additions to the aerial fleet could include added Single Engine Airtankers (SEATs), helitankers, and Type 1, 2, and 3, helicopters.

Airtanker bases will continue to be an operating facility for Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs), helicopters, smokejumpers and aerial supervision operations.

As needed, the agencies will use the eight National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130 aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS) because they are documented airworthy by the military.

Equipment and personnel will be prepositioned in areas of expected fire activity based on predictive services information. The National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC) will control the assignments of all the additional aerial assets brought on contract to offset the reduction in aerial resources by the airtanker contract termination.

Not every initial attack effort gets air support. Firefighters are trained to improvise and adapt to the conditions on the ground, and to the resources available to fight fire. The 10 Standard Fire Orders, guide firefighting efforts at all times and in all situations. By following these tenets, and by mitigating the 18 Watch Out Situations, firefighters are able to operate safely with or without air support.
_____________________________

Airworthiness
Questions and Answers
May 5, 2004

1. What is an airworthiness certificate?
An airworthiness certificate is an FAA document that grants authorization to operate a civil aircraft in flight. There are two different classifications of FAA airworthiness certificates, Standard Airworthiness Certificate and Special Airworthiness Certificate.

2. What is the definition of airworthiness?
According to FAA Order 8130.2, airworthiness means that:
a. The aircraft conforms to its type design, and;
b. It is in a condition for safe flight.
Courts have ruled that flyability should not be equated with airworthiness.

3. What is a Restricted Airworthiness Certificate?
A Restricted Airworthiness Certificate is a Special Airworthiness Certificate limited to purposes identified in the applicable type design. These special purpose operations include: agricultural, forest and wildlife conservation, aerial surveying, patrolling, weather control, aerial advertising, and any other operations specified by the Administrator.

4. Do public aircraft require an airworthiness certificate?
No.

5. What is a type certificate?
A certificate issued by the FAA to a manufacturer meeting the airworthiness requirements of the applicable Federal Aviation Regulations for an aircraft, aircraft engine, appliance, or propeller. The Forest Service holds three airtanker type certificates for the P3-A, C-130A, and P2V-5 aircraft.

6. Who is responsible for the airworthiness of and aircraft?
The pilot in command is ultimately responsible for the airworthiness of his aircraft. However, maintenance personnel, the aircraft owner and operator, the FAA, and the aircraft manufacturer all have critical roles in ensuring the aircraft's airworthiness.

5/10 Anyone wanna give me some pointers for my upcoming FSA interview with LACoFD? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

Jason
5/10 www.nifc.gov/nr_airtanker-contracts.html

Press Release:
U.S.D.A. FOREST SERVICE AND DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AGENCIES CANCEL LARGE AIRTANKER CONTRACT
(that's 33 large tankers)

BOISE, IDAHO, MAY 10, 2004 – The U.S.D.A. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior announced today that they are terminating the contract for 33 large airtankers due to concerns over the airworthiness of the aircraft and public safety. The large fixed-wing airtankers were used in wildland firefighting primarily for initial attack and structure protection support.

The decision comes in response to findings and recommendations contained in the April 23, 2004, National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) report on three previous airtanker accidents. One critical NTSB finding states “it was apparent that no effective mechanism currently exists to ensure the continuing airworthiness of these firefighting aircraft.” The NTSB report also concluded that the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior were responsible for ensuring the safety of firefighting aircraft. Private companies operate the 33 airtankers under a contract with the federal agencies during the fire season.

Since most of the large airtankers were designed and used for military operations before their acquisition by contract companies, the NTSB report also indicated that a complete history of maintenance and inspection records are not available for many of them. This lack of documentation makes it impossible to guarantee airworthiness, according to the NTSB. The average age of the large airtankers is 48 years with some more than 60 years old.

“Safety is a core value of the firefighting community and it is non-negotiable,” said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. “To continue to use these contract large airtankers when no mechanism exists to guarantee their airworthiness presents an unacceptable level of risk to the aviators, the firefighters on the ground and the communities we serve.”

“We take the findings and recommendations made by NTSB very seriously.” said Director Clarke, “Chief Bosworth and I are committed to working with other federal agencies, our state partners, Congress, industry, and the public to understand and adjust to this change while continuing to provide safe and effective fire management and suppression."

The large airtankers are one of many tools that firefighters use, but wildland fires are managed and suppressed on the ground, not from the air. During any year, thousands of wildland fires are suppressed on initial attack without the benefit of air support.

The agencies developed a strategy for the 2004 firefighting season to supplement aerial resources with other available aircraft such as large helicopters and helitankers, single engine airtankers (SEATS), and military C-130 aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS). A strategy for long-term aviation asset management and acquisitions of newer aircraft based on available funding will be developed by the leadership of the Forest Service and the DOI agencies.

“Clearly the days of operating older aircraft of unknown airworthiness for firefighting operations are over,” said Chief Bosworth. “We are grateful to the pilots, crews, and operators of these aircraft, who have dedicated themselves to firefighting efforts over the decades. We have the greatest fire management and suppression program in the world, and we will continue to protect lives, property and our nation’s natural resources.”

For further information, contact Rose Davis, Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management Public Affairs at (208) 387-5437.

From multiple sources, including but not limited to BLM Girl, Ironwing, Lobotomy, MS, TC, Todd, AL, GJ, John.
Tahoe Terrie and NorCal Tom, you were right, I'm sorry to say. Condolences. Ab.

5/10 Does anyone know when the next FSA academy starts?

A big wannabe
5/10 Just found out;

At 1600 Monday May 10th the Forest will suspend all contracts with all Federal Airtankers. The whole Airtanker program will be shut down. CNN is supposed to cover the story....

MS
5/10 Firesout,

I think somebody already mentioned the fact that when people come to our
Fires (CDF) or any other fire they need to be prepared. The 2 large fires
that burned in So Cal burned nearly 30,000 acres in 5 days. Not much time to
ramp up and establish a base camp. People are more worried about houses
burning. Not sleeping pads for engine crews.

Also, regarding the showers. The reason the cooking staff has their own
showers is a Health and Safety issue. We are obligated to provide showers
and hand washing facilities. They are only to be used by the cooking staff.
These showers are ordered separately from the incident so that they show up
with the kitchen.

FCB
5/10 staffing

as you might not know the cleveland nf is staffed and ready for action -- all 22 engines -- and to reply to the staffing question, bdu cdf sends a first alarm dispatch to the san bernardino nf with 5 engines and 2 crews with aircraft on order from south ops. the cleveland will be ready for nation wide dispatch come wednesday so see you out there.

stay safe

ff cnf trabuco ranger dist.

Thanks for the info and welcome to theysaid. Ab.

5/10 To: "Contract County Guy"

My post was mistaken for whining. My frustration was with the incident's Supply Unit Leader , the R&D Mngr. and Facilities. There was a cache van on the incident. It should have been open and supporting the incident a lot sooner to support incoming resources. I am a qualified Supply Unit Leader and, as I understand, my job is to support the incident's operations. Quality rest for line personnel is one of those objectives. Opening the cache van when I feel like it is not an option.

As far as seasonal resources go (national contract equipment) their not being available is a bunch of bull. These people are in the business to make money. Any time and any where. They knew what was happening. They were not ordered because of budget cuts. (That's what one member of the team told me). I mean, hey the T-shirt gut was there.

I had my own gear and was prepared for the assignment. I've been in a tent for fourteen and many times twenty-one days. Believe me, I know how to maintain comfort on wildland fires. The poor soul in the bumper of his rig should have come prepared I'll agree, but if he does'nt and there is a supply of items to ensure his comfort, then dont you think he should have access to those items?

I have no problem waiting for handcrews to shower. I would gladly give my place in line to any hotshot. I do have a problem with 400 inmates that should and usually do have their own shower unit located near their sleeping area. But as was explained earlier, the funds for such luxuries were IAP (in Arnie's pocket). Also there were only four shower stalls for the entire incident of 1000 plus people. Come on, don't tell me you think thats acceptable. As far as "timing" my showers I will consider setting my alarm for like 2 am so I am sure to see no lines. Give me a break !!

In closing, it is not my objective to "sound needy". I guess I am only spitting out a bad taste in my mouth left from recent experiences involving CDF Logistics. They can do better. Maybe budget impacts are a reality to recon with, we will see. I've been around the block a few times and I am qualified on both sides of the fence (ops/logs). I know of what I speak and do not consider myself to be "awsome". Just lucky.

Firesout
5/10 BB

You're right, the originals had you before each of the watchouts. Kind of implied that
EACH and EVERY firefighter is responsible for THEMSELVES, as well as those
around them. I wonder if some of us don’t forget that every now and then.

Maybe the revised fire orders should have YOU in front of them too. (Actually, they
might have… got to check that.)

JSJ
5/10 Just out of curiosity, to Nomad or others who might know about fire jurisdictions, I want to make sure I understand...

There are forests, grasslands, and other national land holdings. Firefighting on those federal lands comes under the auspices of FS, NPS, BLM, FWS. There are people who lease cabins or grazing land within the national public lands that must follow rules for keeping their leased properties fire safe (like in the National Forests surrounding Tucson AZ and above Los Angeles CA for example). That was a new one for me, long term cabin leases on federal lands.

There are private properties that are inholdings or other adjoining interface properties that might be SRA or county or municipal responsibilities. Technically if there's a residence, does that come under state or some other non-fed auspice? Wildland firefighters in the FS and BLM generally do not fight structure fires? But if a fire threatens the national forest, the FS might respond? If a vehicle fire threatens the national forest the FS might respond? But otherwise not? And this is changing as we become All Risk? I see FS firefighters along Hwy 299 and Hwy 96 responding to vehicle accidents. The woods aren't burning or at risk of burning.

There are also tribal lands and some tribes have their own fire departments and also rely on federal help through agreements (Memoranda of Understanding, MOUs). I know the Hoopa Tribe for example has a fire dept and also calls on the Forest Service for help. Just trying to get this all straight in my head. Does every group having responsibility know what lands/properties they are responsible for and who to call for help?

I presume that most adjoining response areas have MOUs to guide their interactions. And if a fire crosses many jurisdictional boundaries, all the entities affected have to be involved in the decision making? If so, no wonder fighting a large suppression fire can get so complex and cost so much. And I assume this and fire size is part of what defines the "complexity" of the incident that moves the fire into a Type I IMT category from a Type II?

How might the eastern and western US jurisdictions differ from each other, or do they? Any jurisdictional issues that shout "Watchout"? This train of thought gives me a clue as to why fighting fire at the end of the Big Bar Complex in 1999 and the socal fires last fall might have been so political. Lots of Chiefs to talk with. Politics, psychology, turf! Regular tangle of laundry?

Thanks to the teams for taking all that on. I wouldn't want the job...

Strange where my mind goes with my cup of coffee in the morning. Just popped the clothes in the washer...

FWFSA folks, Good job in Washington! Couldn't make it to chat last night, but sounds like you were VERY successful!

Mellie

5/10 I have yet to have a bad experience at the CDF fire
camps, most of the people I've known that have had
problems there created their own. Situational
Awareness comes into the tent subject. Even though
i've only worked as a wildland firefighter for three
years, our crew has supplied our own tents and like
scottfree said we take pride in not having to ask for
things. Sleeping in a tent has been a luxury to me
cause there's times where just a space blanket has to
do for the night (and hopefully there's dry, flat, and
soft ground). And i have yet to sleep in a motel.

AH
5/9 Re: Chat invite from Lobotomy. Sounds good, any particular topic(s)? Hopefully D.C. stuff.

Re:18/13 Watchouts (JSJ) Good post. Don’t discount that the 18s got rid of the ‘you’ reference,
very important to personalize the Watchouts!

Re: Abs, thanks for the forum in general, and specifically for the Payne PPT.

BB

Thanks to Seldom Seen. Good one. Ab.
5/9 Ab

After 32 years of structure and wildland firefighting its time to get a new knee. Rough decision this time of year, just something that has to be done. Should be back given'er heck by August, I hope.

Really drying out early in southern Idaho, don't know what to expect for the season. If we don't get any rain, its going to be a dandy. Supposed to cool down with maybe a little rain this week. But rain seems to elude us with a passion. Up in the forest north of us burning slash last week, what a thrill that was. Had to watch the fires every minute, not enough moisture left, even at 6 thousand feet. Enough complaining everyone knows its dry in the west.

Every one please be safe and maybe we will see you in August!

Bish in Southern Idaho
5/9 Anyone up for chat tonight??? 8 p.m. pacific time?

Lobotomy
5/9 Happy MOTHER'S DAY to all those who are wildland firefighters and/or who support wildland firefighters.

We know how tough it is to combine mothering with fire. Hats off to you! Thanks for hanging in there. MOMs, your service and love does not go unrecognized.

The Abs.

5/9 To EV,

Check into the Wildfire Hazard Center, right there at UCSB:

www.icess.ucsb.edu/resac/resac.html

another TC

5/9 To All:

Anyone know what the status with R-3 is these days? Their season started pretty hot but i haven't anything from them since that storm hit the west coast a few weeks back. Is the Southwest still dry or has the weather been non-conducive to large fires or what?

Resident,

A lil' FYI- CDF does not staff the San Bernadino NF- the US Forest Service does. So don't count on the CDF staffing announcements to affect you too much if you're living on the Berdoo. You questions should be directed to the Federal Govt rather than the state.

-Nomad

True Nomad, but there's lots of interface SRA (State Resource Area) adjoining the San Bernardino NF and we all know when there's a fire people expect the firefighters to show up whether state, fed, county, city, vollie or contractor. After I explained, Resident says he's in the "SRA" and should have said near the San Bernardino NF as opposed to beetle killed areas in NorCal. Ab.
5/9 I'm thinking this board might be a good place to ask this question...

Anyways, I was wondering if anyone knew of a way that I could get involved with a wildlands firefighting program in the Santa Barbara area. I currently attend the UC here and would like to help in any way with the firefighting starting immediately. I'm not sure if there is some program through a community college in the area or something like that to receive some training, but thought someone here must know. A recent trip through the burn area near Big Bear opened my eyes to the severity of the wildfires, and I would like to get involved in helping prevent future destruction like that. Just wondering what might be out there. Thanks.

-EV

Here's a place to start, www.wildlandfire.com/docs/firesci_edu.htm (access on the fire links page under training). There also may be other options. It's late for this season, but maybe you could get a leg up for next season. Readers from the Santa Barbara area, any ideas?

Hey Longboard, your email got eaten by my spam filter. I only caught it on the swallow, too late, could you please resend? Lucky you had a relevant topic "for theysaid" in the subject line or I never would have known. Ab.

5/9 Contract County Guy:

I stand someplace in the middle between your view and
Firesout. Some crews just, especially underfunded
contract ones, just dont have the provisions on hand
to suffice, thus they depend on the mothers milk of a
type I or II team. I guess some just feel lucky to be
invited, after all the best fire is the one your
currently on, right? I do agree, however, that to
complain after the fact is pointless unless there is a
valid attempt at changing the status quo and it doesnt
seem like anyone who is ungrateful at getting assigned
to such an incident and subsequently abhors the
experience will ever want or get to be invited to
further ones.

River:

Maybe it would be prudent to reread what I wrote
regarding "time honored traditions" I wasnt laughing
when our type I crew was implicated for "hazing" based
on something that has been done routinely in the past
that seemed useful. I find nothing wrong with
sleeping on the fireline as long as the individual (or
crew boss) stays vigilant about safety and I have no
axe to grind whatsoever. I just think the word
tradition is a WATCHOUT in and of itself.

AC
5/9 Firesout, By reading your post it doesn't seem as though you have been around fire long.

I am a U.S.F.S firefighter so I am not taking any sides, but try to be a little more self-sufficient.
Its nice when there is a good Supply Unit but don't expect one. I for one take pride in not
needing stuff from others to survive a roll. The more self-sufficient you are, the more valuable
you become.

scottfree
5/9 Resident,

I believe there's a press conference on Monday that will announce an executive order for CDF staffing,
engines, crews and a helicopter.

SoCal CDF
5/9 Anyone know if CDF is staffing extra engines in the beetle kill/drought kill areas of San
Bernardino NF? We've taken care of our trees and brush, etc going way back from our
house, trying to make it a "keeper". Thanks for all your efforts for us.

Resident

It helps to have residents that do what they can to take care of their own property. Makes our job easier when the flames approach. Ab.

5/9 Firesout, your endless complaining is embarrassing. Given that many of the seasonal contract resources were unavailable to us in early May, CDF did as good a job as they could in putting it all together. Sometimes lavish camps are just unavailable. Food was good at both big fires and sleeping accommodations were there if you brought your own like most wildland firefighters do. Waiting for hand crews to eat or shower is simply a matter of timing, and you get no priority in fire camp just because you think you're awesome. Next time bring a sleeping bag and tent/cot like everybody else and plan your meal and shower times if you don't want to wait. And if you want a hotel room and CDF isn't buying them, whip out your own credit card. (CDF gets rooms as a condition of their labor agreement by the way). Preparation for wildland fire is often a personal thing. When in Rome......do as the Roman's do.

The kind of whining seen in your post gives us contract county people all a bad name. If you can't get into the wildland scene then transfer to a job in the flatland. Remember, wildland fire requires warriors not whiners. Whatever you do, please don't sound so needy in your next post.

the original
"Contract County Guy"
5/9 Ab,

Minnesota has a fire Red Lake 313, 2560 acres, 90% contained that is burning near Red Lake.
When it was going it was running with 15-20 foot flame lengths at the head in hardwoods and
grass with aspen islands. Aerial resources (BIA SEAT, MN DNR air attack plane, P2V tanker)
in combination with tracked vehicles made the difference. With all the heavy dried fuels and lack
of access into the wetlands, I'm wondering what we're going to do if the lg air tankers disappear.
Maybe more SEATS will be the way for us to go.

Firechaser

5/9 << chuckling
it appears that AC forgot I had quoted Tim's previous post in support of Yellowjacket. (I do have a picture of someone sleeping in the black & it was obvious that crew members were observing the watch outs.) sorry, AC, but it appears you have an axe to grind or like to split hairs/debate/theorize.
... "Some timed honored traditions include ritualistic hazing to seemingly "toughen up" candidates..." what hazing?

since when is a 160 acre fire a "large fire"? that fire west of CA/NV stateline caused interstate80 to close for a few hours & inconvenienced Friday travelers. the wind was driving it. rumor is smokejumpers were en route but winds were too strong - no photo op but a local news crew did get an impressive shot of a pine tree torching. if that is what it takes to wake up the general public, good! (my brother has lived in Truckee since the early 60s. I heard first hand accounts/observations/details about the Martis fire IA(s).)

regardless, it's mindboggling that any fire in northzone forest land occurred so early in the season. heads up, this is not gonna be a predictable fire season anywhere in R5.

safety first,
River
5/9 Firescout, your recent experience with CDF is unfathomable. have you considered
notifying the Governor's CPR committee? (California Performance Review for those
who are unfamiliar with it)

R5 SoCal

5/8 The way I understand it, using the Risk Management process found in the Incident Response Pocket Guide:

Situation Awareness
Hazard Assessment
Hazard Control
Decision Point
Re Evaluate

The 18 Situations are Hazard Assessment items, if you are in one of the 18 you are prone to hazards, The 10 Standard Orders are the Hazard Controls you use to mitigate the hazards.

FC180

Sorry for all the emails, I have been on fires for a week!
5/8 Here is my original letter to Mr. Gladics and his reply and my reply back to him.

<Big SNIP, Content copied to it's own page.>

FC180

Readers, to see this important dialogue between FC180 and Mr. Gladics, please use the following link.
FC180 & Mr. Gladics
I created a new page for this information to save space and download time on this page for those uninterested in the topic. However, I consider it mandatory reading for all who are affected. I urge others to use their own experiences and arguments to communicate and continue to enlighten those making recommendations and decisions. Thanks much FC180 for sharing this and demonstrating the importance of intelligent communication! Original Ab.

5/8 For the second time within a year (Oct 03 and May 04) the logistics at CDF fire camps have been below standard.

On the Paradise fire (Oct 03) our "contract county " strike team was not allowed to take showers until the inmates were finished, at about 2230. Then there were no sleeping areas in the base because why design a camp for sleeping when thats all happening at the motel /casinos that are occupied by CDF strike teams.

We finally got the incident to honor the "contract" and received motel rooms for the balance of the incident. But only after all the CDF units were tucked away in their rooms did we get ours (between 2100 and 2200 hrs. each night.) Only to arrive and find the CDF units had been there since about 1900, right after they ate dinner in camp. Did I mention the political arm wrestling match between our strike team leader and the motel manager nightly?

Then it's on to the Cerritos. First night there (after the fire had burned for two days) we arrived right at dusk. Found an unmarked sink / shower unit near the parking area. After dinner a few members of the strike team used the facilities. The next morning some guy I guess he was the Facilities or Base Camp Mngr. chased us out of the area because the sink / shower unit was for "kitchen help" only. The four shower stalls (for 500 people) that were assigned to the rest of the non CDF personnel on the incident (the next day) were also used by inmate crews. We found this out by standing in line for half an hour only to have the same "shower sheriff" chase us away from there and to have us come back later. Didn't have that problem in your motel room did you CDF?

After we deployed our own sleeping gear (good thing we brought it) I noticed that the Supply Unit was not open. (almost day three of the incident) One member of a Type 1 Eng. strike team was sleeping in/on the front bumper of of his engine with a light blanket. It would have been nice for this guy to get a few pads and sleeping bag from supply. But its tough to manage a cache inventory from your motel room.

My point is simple. We are all paid well to do our jobs. If you have to sacrifice a night at the tables to ensure that the incident is supported then that goes with the territory. Do your jobs or get a different one. At this point and time as far as CDF goes I am "one UN-happy camper" with their logistical support. The "take care of our own" attitude is more than prevalent in your operations.

Firesout
5/8 I agree with AC when he/she says that "it is difficult to point a finger in one direction" regarding the Cramer Fire suspensions. There were many mistakes made by various people that snowballed and resulted in the tradgedy. And I do not dispute the fact that yes, Jeff and Shane did make some critical errors. However I do not feel that blaming the two that payed the ultimate price will help anyone. I am ademant that when it counted the most, the two were in fact, "left by their bosses in the path of the Cramer Fire". I highly doubt that anyone involved will ever dispute that.

IdahoFireChick
5/8 About the sleeping on the line thing. What do you all call Coyote Tactics and what about all the CDF crews that hit the hay after midnight even though they are getting paid and “working” 24 hour shift? As long as you have LCES and the 10 and 18 covered sleeping on the line can be a very productive way to do business. I find that I get more and better quality rest when I can Spike or Coyote on or close to my work, rather than driving back and forth to some camp that is infested with people who have no respect for crews in their sleeping areas, staggering into camp at all hours after a store (beer) run, being loud and obnoxious and thinking they are cool, slamming the rocket doors at 3 a.m. and running their stupid generators, lights and shower units till late. Not to mention getting woken up before it is time and standing in the slop line at 5 a.m. I’ll take the # 18 and a couple of MRE’s over that Base Camp ridiculousness any day.

Backburnfs
5/7 Large Sierra Nevada wildfire has shut down part Interstate 80 from Hirschdale, just east of Truckee, to the Nevada state line Friday afternoon, California Highway Patrol officials said.

High winds drove the fire that started at about 2:45 p.m. in a 20-foot space just east of Farad Road. Within several minutes, the fire jumped the freeway. By 6 p.m., it had grown to about 160 acres, officials from the California Department of Forestry said.

Both directions of traffic along the interstate were closed at about 3:15 p.m. CHP officials said they expected the interstate to reopen by 7 p.m

Firefighter51
Be safe out there!!!!!!!!!!!

Sierra wildfire closes I-80 just west of Reno with pics. Ab.
5/7 River:

The words 'time honored tradition' (in respect to your
entry regarding sleeping on the fireline) conjures up
the inherent risks of honoring such traditions in the
face of change derived from the influx of research and
new information. Tradition as defined "the passing
down of culture from generation to generation, 2b. A
custom handed down"

Nowhere does it indicate the provision for the
adaptation of progressive thinking and/or possible
consequences for following the norm without
challenging the previous notions based on an
antiquated S.O.P.

Some timed honored traditions include ritualistic
hazing to seemingly "toughen up" candidates for the
military, professional and amateur sports,
fraternities and sororities and even in our own
dominion, wildland fire in the past. Some traditions
are better examined under a microscope to see if they
still apply.

AC
5/7 Release Date: 05/07/2004 Release Time: 1:14 PM
Contact: Rick Vogt
Public Affairs Bureau
909 377-8380 Subject: CDF Aircraft Aborts Take Off, Pilot Uninjured

Full Text:
A California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) Air Attack plane aborted a take off just before noon today at the Hemet-Ryan airport. The aircraft sustained minor damage and the pilot was not injured. The plane lost power to one engine during take-off. The pilot was able to avoid homes and power lines in the area by landing the plane in a field next to the runway.

Air Attack 310 is an OV-10A twin-engine aircraft used by CDF for command and control of firefighting airtankers and helicopters. Air Attack 310 was on a proficiency flight (not assigned to a fire) with only the pilot on board.

Firefighters from CDF/Riverside County Fire Department and Hemet City Fire Department responded to this incident.

A CDF investigation team is being assigned to investigate and assist the NTSB and FAA in determining the cause.
5/7 Ab,

I wrote the following article in response to the Barker/Orr article in today's Idaho Statesman. I believe that the public is being misled by the media in this matter, only making the grief that the families/friends/supporters suffer at the release of such news that much more difficult.

I was dismayed at the front page article about the disciplinary actions for fire bosses in the deaths of Heath and Allen. Orr and Barker wrote that Heath and Allen were "left by their bosses in the path of the Cramer Fire". While I do not dispute the findings of the investigative team that was adept in their pursuit of what transpired on July 22, 2003, it is clear to me that Orr and Barker have chosen to disregard one fact: That safety start where the rubber meets the road. In other words, each individual firefighter have been trained to follow 10 fire orders and 18 watchout situations (not to mention an LCES safety checklist and numerous other live and classroom training scenarios) and recognize the conditions and hazards of the job.

I had worked with Allen on at least two incidents and I was aware that he was no fire fledgling (as opposed to 3 out of 4 fatalities in 2001's Thirty Mile Fire), but a professional and well-trained rappeller capable of applying such training to an incident such as the Cramer Fire. While I believe that there has to be some disciplinary actions handed down to those making the 'final call' in such a tragedy, I think it is important to recognize that Allen and Heath had some degree of control given their time 'on-scene' and the necessity in their pre-selection of applicable escape routes and safety zones (agency training dictates the need for these prior to fire suppression when on scene, consult the LCES checklist in any Fire Operations Guide). I have no doubt that this article gives the general public the erroneous perception that Allen and Heath were 'hung out to dry' by management, when in reality it is a symbiosis of both logistical and operational duties that makes a suppression action tick and is very difficult to point a finger in just one direction.

AC
5/7 Thank you to everyone who replied to "Dave" about my past statement. The purpose of that statement was to clarify that the "Fire Orders" and the "18 Watch-outs" are two distinct lists. Certainly anyone who has fought fire long enough has found themselves in a number of the positions described as a "watch-out." Some of us know that this is not necessarily wrong or unsafe procedure (unless you are also violating a Fire Order, hairsplitters), it is just something to be aware of and possibly mitigate for. I guess other folks don't understand that; which makes me wonder what else in our plethora of guides, handbooks, checklists, etc. they don't understand. Here's a question for anyone: Is common sense only instinctive or can it be taught?

Yellowjacket
5/7 From JR, Cramer Fire Update:

Six Forest Service workers face discipline

"The U.S. Forest Service has proposed disciplining six employees over their actions during a wildfire that killed two firefighters last year. The proposed actions range from suspension to firing, Regional Forester Jack Troyer said."

5/7 Ab,

Can you help me get the word out to folks to get their fire shelters back
for retrofit?

As a private supplier of fire shelters we have been working with the
manufacturers to get any shelters we have sold retro-fitted to address the
handle separation problem. One of the things that have delayed this was
whether the federal Govt' was going to pay for all retrofits or just the
ones that were ordered by GSA. Yesterday I received word that the Govt' may
not pay for shelters, made for non- GSA orders, to be retro fitted. They are
also allowing any contractors to carry non-retro fitted shelters on Federal
Incidents. Here is an excerpt from a letter I received:

"The Federal agencies recognize that shelters have been purchased
commercially by private contractors through distributors. If a distributor
or private contractor chooses to have their shelter(s) retrofitted they may
do so through the manufacturer; however contractors will be allowed to carry
the unretrofitted M-2002 Fire Shelter on Federal incidents."

I want the fire community to know that The Supply Cache is committed to
retrofitting shelters we have sold at no cost to the customer. If you have
purchased a fire shelter from us and it needs retro-fitting please call us
as soon as possible. We need to get these shelters through the process as
soon as possible. However, in a conversation I had today with one of the
manufacturers, I found out the Government has still not determined exactly
what the retro-fit process will be. So no shelters are being retro-fitted
yet. New shelters are being manufactured with the changes already, but the
retro-fit process has not been finalized. The manufacturers are going to do
them first come, first served, so the sooner you get in line the quicker you
will get them back.

Thank you.

Jim Felix
President, The Supply Cache, Inc
1-800-839-0821

5/7 The Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated.

Anyone have an update on the Hispanic hiring in R5?

I've posted some more of Brain A.'s photos: take a look at Helicopters 15, Equipment 7, Airtanker 10, and Airtanker 11 photo pages. Other contributors, I still have photos to do... Cedar Fire, supertanker, dozer photos. Thanks for the contributions. Ab.

5/7 MOC-

Preparedness Reviews are usually conducted by someone
or a group of people from outside the area that is
being evaluated. People from the same agency, a
different agency, or contractors can be used. This
practice became widespread in the mid-90's and is
considered a valuable tool for determining the
readiness of a unit to suppress and manage fires.
Preparedness Reviews have also been pointed out after
some fatality incidents as a tool that should have
been employed on the affected unit. It's also listed
in the Red Book as a standard practice. Here are some
links with more information:
BLM, 2003:
https://doi1.ios.doi.gov/cdirectives.nsf/yadayada.pdf (pdf file)
NPS (see page 6)
www.nps.gov/fire/download/fir_wil_rm18_ch07.pdf (pdf file)
A list of 17 standard preparedness reviews:
www.fire.blm.gov/Standards/BLM_Preparedness_Checklists.htm

I am not aware of NICC requiring preparedness reviews.
They can't actually require much of anything, it's up
to each individual agency or the National Wildfire
Coordinating Group to set policy.

Jackson
5/7 Let's Try to get our College pool credits for work experience.

What I'm saying is for every "S-course" or job experience. They should get credits toward a degree in fire science. I know several people that are in college, but they have to try to adjust their schedules to meet academic "NEEDS". I would like to see a system to where our seasonals don't have to say " I need this day off to get through this training at school" We have a enough trouble staffing. I would like to see a system where race/gender/sexual/religious/political affiliation has no effect on the hiring system. If you want a job in R-5 apply to the student employment program on AVUE (for whatever good it does).

KUDETAH
5/7

18 Watchout Situations

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

ORIGINAL FIRE ORDERS
1. Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts.
2. Know what your fire is doing at all times. Observe personally and use scouts
3. Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire.
4. Have escape routes and safety zones for everyone, and make them known.
5. Post lookouts when there is possible danger.
6. Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively.
7. Maintain prompt communication with your forces, your supervisor and adjoining forces.
8. Give clear instructions and insure they are understood.
9. Maintain control of your forces at all times.
10. Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.

I could make a case for at least two more of the “watch” outs being violations, but I think the point is clear. Most of the added watchouts to the original 13 are violations [ to be fair, a couple of the originals are too]. We have fixed the changes made in the fire orders. Now lets see if we can straighten out the watchouts too.

JSJ

5/7 In April 1995, less than 12 months after 14 firefighters died on the South Canyon Fire in Colorado, the US Forest Service Technology & Development Center in Missoula, Montana USA hosted a "first-of-a-kind" gathering of diverse and incredibly talented folks to look at the "Human Factors in Wildland Firefighting".

The Workshop, and its resulting Proceedings, were not only well received by the fire community, but became the benchmark for all other efforts looking at the Human Dimension of fighting wildland fires.

On April 25-28, 2005, the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) will host a 10th Anniversary Workshop, based on the original 1995 event. We will look at all the progress that has been made over the past 10 years, and develop a course of action that will incorporate the concepts of "Human Factors in Wildland Firefighting" into the wildfire culture around the world well into the 21st Century.

IAWF invites your involvement and participation!

We're in the early stages of getting ready for this Workshop, and would like you to join us! You can serve on one of our Committees for the Program, Facilities, Publicities, Papers & Posters, or just let us know that you'd like to stay informed about the Workshop as a potential attendee. Also, we appreciate any help that you can offer in passing the word to others in the wildland fire business that may have an interest.

I've attached the "Preliminary Announcement" that we're sending out to let everyone know as early as possible, so they can plan to attend.

If you'd like to receive future announcements and information about this Workshop, drop me an Email at blackbull@bigsky.net.

Hope to see you all in Missoula, Montana in April 2005 for the 10th Anniversary "Human Factors in Wildland Fire" Workshop!

Dick Mangan
5/6 Seldom Seen sent in Payne's powerpoint:
Similarities of Fatality Fires: Storm King, 30-Mile and Cramer.

PPT says: Similar Stage, Similar Scene, Similar Players, Similar Human Factors, similar Leadership Failures. A number of slides are focused on historical lack of leadership training and need for firefighters to develop their leadership skills.

Download it after work or early in the morning please. It's moderately large, 852 K. Ab.

5/6 Here are a few of the photos that I took at the Eagle Fire near Temecula on 5/3.

Thanks, Jack

I made an Eagle Fire photo page for immediate viewing. (I did this really fast and it's not linked to the photo or description pages yet.) Ab.

5/6 MOC you're fed aren't you? And the guy saying this is fed? Or is he from one of the
surrounding fire departments? I'm trying to understand the psychological dimensions
here. Is they guy from a competing FD or is he superior/parallel within your organization?

Mellie
5/6 Ab,
Big fire near Ashland MT in the rugged and inaccessible Cook Mountain Recreational Area.

www.billingsgazette.com

Last night's report called for smokejumpers and type 2 handcrews although I think type 1s
would be better because of the rough terrain. We have ponderosa with lots of dead and down
and basically no resources on hand when it started - lightning. That's changing. Stay tuned.

DJ

Welcome DJ and thanks for the info. Ab.

5/6

DSF, which got left off?

Todd

18 Watchout Situations

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

MAFFS on the Cachuma Fire

Please add Large Fire Map.

Sit report is up and running for all that want national fire info. Good R3 fire info from the R3 GACC.

All these fire sit report and map links can be found on the LINKS page under news for those who don't know their way around wildlandfire.com. Also, check the Fire NEWS page. Ab.

5/6 An apparent escaped rx burn on the PNF near Stoney Ridge. Type II Team calling it
560 acres. A dispatch team scheduled to arrive today.

S
5/6 Strider and Cleveland Chuck,

Recently a Safety Review Team visited SoCal in regards to the fires of last fall. I believe they will find that while some of the policies that came from 30 mile were impractical and unattainable, the 10 Standards were adhered to. Let us hope and pray that the powers that be will realize we can manage situations without a ton of 'checklists. The 10 Standards and the 13 (yes 13, not 18) Watch Outs cover safety for those of us on the fireline. If we steadfastly adhere to them, we will remain safe!

DSF

5/6 I need some information from the Federal Fire People on a piece of information I just picked up that sounds like pure Bull$#!@.

Has anyone heard of a NIFC mandated program where either a State, Local, or other Federal Agency will come into another federal agency's station to "evaluate" how that unit's engine and handcrews perform with line construction, hoselays, and general knowledge. I was told this was going to happen to my agency by both a city and a county fire department we border.

The guy who suggested it is, putting it nicely, of suspect character and likes to make his subordinates look bad to build himself up and make himself look strong infront of his bosses. I checked around with some of the people I know of in Region 5 and they know nothing of such a program.

Does anyone know of such a program like this that is mandated by either the regional FMOs or handed down through NIFC? I found nothing on the NIFC sites or in other places.

MOC4546
5/6 >"Taking naps on the fireline is a time honored tradition. It can help mitigate the effects of fatigue and is a tool suggested by the USFS for that purpose."
< many fire seasons ago someone showed me a photo of a WFF sleeping in the black - obviously someone was responsibly maintaining the watch outs.
< splitting hairs, Dave & AC? Tim's response sounds about right <> common sense.

> "Determination of a worker's exposure to airborne carbon monoxide is made using an Ecolyzer direct reading field instrument."
RR,
< wildland fire storm scramble & 100% comply with OSHA?

consider the multiple hazards inherent conducting "business" in unpredictable wildland fire situations.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best! as many have suggested, train for worse case scenario; be better prepared for what the dragon may present - afterall, it is WILDLAND

again, thank you Ab(s) for providing a forum for such diversity of thought processes, ideas, experience, perspectives, etc.
safe season all!

River
5/5 10 oregon crews and 8 engines on way to california

check it out at the northwest coordination center report

doc
5/5 Instructors, I know we're all antsy with the fires down south. Let's not skimp on training even if the dispatchers are clamoring for resources.

On the topic of air tankers. Terrie, I've been thinking on this a few days now and have come to some (sad) conclusions.

Aging ATs, not designed for fighting fire, kill 2.3 pilots per year and have for some years. These are not acceptable losses. Blue Ribbon says so. You know it, we all think so. The AT program costs too much in lives. To save lives, we would have to modernize. It will take boukoo sums of money to do that even if we could move toward it gradually.

But there's no time. I think the NTSB has painted us into a quick corner with their report. Look at their findings and recommendations. They say the FS has to inspect planes. The FS has neither enough time, enough expertise, nor lots of money to do that. If the NTSB had given the direction to the FAA, maybe they could have arranged inspections and pulled it off with their engineers, they work in aviation. But not the FS and BLM. I mean, come on, we manage the forests and fire, not planes. We could as soon go into rocket science.

To modernize the AT industry, if we could, would cost millions. As much as I like having a lot of tools to choose from, some firefighting tools cost much more than others. Perhaps putting more dollars into Type 2 helos, jumpers, hotshots, engines, etc would be money better spent than throwing more money at aging and falling apart ATs that would probably continue to kill pilots even if we did inspect. I know, hard to imagine no airtankers, this sounds terrible to me too. But we're in a real pickle with the NTSB report. And don't say we inspected last year. We did, but this is a whole new level.

Unfortunately, I can see this getting political. Because of TV, we've oversold the air program to the public and to congress and we love that red stuff falling where we need it on the evening news. Say our public gets scared, senators bend to pressure, step in and say we have to keep the program and we try to do inspections, throw lots of money at it, do it as very best we can. What happens the next time a pilot dies? (And they will.) Boy, we're screwed then. Call out the super lawyers. Fend off the public outcry. Any deaths are unacceptable. Deaths should be. The legal fallout alone would be horrible. There's just no solution short of ending it.

I just don't see the AT program continuing for long. Even the supertanker seems unlikely. Mud at $10 a gallon or whatever it will cost? I doubt it. (I don't really know how much it might cost, but probably far too much.)

This is depressing, I like those big ships; reassuring sounds and sights; but I wouldn't be surprised if the memo or statement that comes out from the WO in the next few days comes to the same conclusions I did. Does anyone see this going any differently? Tahoe Terrie you started this thread, you already gone south?

NorCal Tom

5/5 JSJ,
reckon you might have a contact on that particular crew? A fire use module would suit me to a "T".

I'm sure AB would fwd my email addy to you if you dont wanna put ur addy on the main board.

Found out today officially the crew will be down from June 12th to July 26th, I had my facts sorta wrong.

thanks folks.
ZKP
5/5 Hey everyone!

This is the first time I have been on this site. It is great! Pictures are cool along with everything else
on the site. Well I will be sending some pictures to this site real soon from last year and a few years
back. Everyone have a good season, and I will see yah out in the woods real soon.

GW

Welcome to theysaid. Ab.

5/5 hello my name is trevor kosloski. i live in southern bc in canada.

i am interested in fighting forest fires this summer. i am currently with a volunteer fire department and have completed some forest fire fighting courses and training. i was wondering who i would talk to and if fighting fire was possible, because i am a canadian citizen. i am 19 and have had about six months of training.

thank you very much

Fighting fire in Canada is more likely than in the US. There are quite a few hoops to jump through to get a wildland firefighting job here if you are not a citizen or a person with a green card. Anyone have the details? Ab.

5/5 Dave,
I am not really sure what your response to yellowjacket means. "How many fire orders are you violating when you sleep on the fireline?" Maybe alot, maybe none. Taking naps on the fireline is a time honored tradition. It can help mitigate the effects of fatigue and is a tool suggested by the USFS for that purpose.

(see www.fs.fed.us/fire/training/fatigue/fatigue.pdf (pdf file) or www.fs.fed.us/fire/training/fatigue/fatigue.ppt (powerpoint file))

Of course it needs to be applied to the proper situation and only when it can be done safely. It is a decision to be made by experienced supervisors, and not by individual firefighters.

Yellowjacket stated "sleeping on the fireline" is not a violation of a Fire Order, it is merely a watch-out." I think that he/she is still 100% correct.

Tim
5/5 I want to say congrats to Thomas Hamill, the truck driver and firefighter who escaped from his
captors in Iraq. I read he escaped once and realized that he couldn't survive in the desert with
no one around to pick him up, went back to his "jail" and locked himself in. After being moved,
he waited for his second chance when he heard American troop movement nearby.

Did he maintain Situational Awareness and a Can-Do Attitude. He did.

SoCal vollie
5/5 AC and Dave;

A while back there was a protracted discussion about the purpose of Watch Outs between myself, Mellie, Roguerivers (I think) and Doug Campbell (I feel all nervous mentioning myself in such illustrious company). I think the final conclusion was that Watch Outs are exactly that; they’re times when you need to exercise a little extra caution and awareness, because the situation has the potential to change quickly, or more quickly than you are in a position to react to. You can’t be hazard-free all the time (this is firefighting, not competitive crochet), but Watch Outs are times to be aware that the situation is just more hazardous than normal.

Nerd on the Fireline
5/5 Are we complying with OSHA?
WORKPLACE MONITORING AND MEASUREMENT

Neither NIOSH nor OSHA has a recommended method for full-shift sampling of employee exposure to carbon monoxide in the workplace. However, the following analytical methods are available.

Determination of a worker's exposure to airborne carbon monoxide is made using an Ecolyzer direct reading field instrument. This instrument is capable of detecting carbon monoxide concentrations between 0 and 600 ppm. Several types of detector tubes are available to screen for the presence of carbon monoxide; these tubes have a reported limit of detection of 0.5 ppm. This equipment and the ranges of carbon monoxide detection are described in the OSHA Computerized Information System [OSHA 1994].

www.osha.gov/SLTC/healthguidelines/carbonmonoxide/recognition.html

RR

5/5 Dave,

When yellowjacket mentioned "Sleeping on the Fireline" as being a watchout
situation he meant that "we" as firefighters need to take mental note of
the watchouts that we violate and essentially use these "violations" as
trigger points before deciding we have put ourselves in a precarious spot.
The Watchouts are not a "DONT DO" list as some would have you believe, they
are a list of things that if minded will hopefully even our odds against
the danger present in wildland firefighting.

I think that most of us, during Initial Attack, will violate a watchout or
two to get the job done but are still considered good firefighters and
safety minded. When the watchouts start stacking up, this is when things
get out of control and accidents or calamities happen. So BE SAFE and keep
a checklist in your head so that when things around you are seemingly
getting out of control you can address these issues to the crewboss, IC, or
team.

AC
5/5 We've been getting some SoCal requests for a 2004 version of our links page to Wildland Fires on the Web. Been working on that. Here's what I have so far:

Cal Fires, 2004

Still no incident photos that I have found. If anyone can fill in team info, please let us know, especially CDF team info. It's only early May and we're having this fire behavior.

Be safe.
Ab.
5/5 Just looking through the posts and decided that yellowjacket needs a
wake up call. He says sleeping on the fireline is 'merely' a watch out
situation, not a fire order. Hey yellowjacket tell me something, How many
fire orders are you violating when you sleep on the fireline?

moc4546,
if you want the skinny on those green fleet engines at McClellan give
Polo a call and he can give it to you. Rodriquez, why?

Later, Dave
5/5 ZKP
Whiskey Town Fire Use Module [Whiskey Town NRA, Redding, CA] May be looking for some detailers. Get ahold of their Crew Supv.

On another note, are you aware of the new DOI physical clearance requirements? You Gotta pass the physical before you get hired, and with all DOI doing it at the same time, the seasonal folks are likely to start late this year. [Did I mention that they are being WAY strict, failing people left and right?] And people are failing for some silly stuff, not just major issues [heart conditions, etc…] I wonder why they don’t check the knees while they are at it. They are doing everything else.

JSJ
5/5 I'm in the So CA desert - its hot, dry and NO humidity right now.
Family in Riverside Cnty near fire line. Folks, please take care - we
need you and your expertise. Its going to be a long hot summer in
Sunny CA.

Pat B
5/5 didn't catch where, anyone else see it?

one of the TV networks showed a film clip of FFs in Riverside County (red engine) dragging hose downhill thru the black in steep/rocky terrain towards a hot spot yesterday. it appeared there were bigger flames on the crest above their engine. spot fire could cut off their only way out? distorted video because of a zoom lens perspective? saving reporters bacon again?

heard OES sent additional mutual aid strike teams from R5 north bay cities & counties.
TG on-shore wind & temps are back to "normal" in nothzone for Mother's Day weekend.
safety first, best wishes for a better fire season

north

5/4 Islander,

Go to USDA USFS T & D pubs: www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/ (both user and pswd are t-d)

Click on link for Fire
Click on link for 0251 - 2323 FEEDING THE WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER

There's a lot of info there for feeding the folks on the fireline.

Arrowhead Cook

That link has a permanent home on the links page. Ab.
5/4 Quote:

"Most people would rather die than think" --Burtrand Russell

BP
5/4 Thanks Casey! We appreciate your work!

IA on the LPF Cachuma Incident....interesting day with limited resources!

Yactak
5/4 Ab,

Just got back from the funeral of the fallen firefighter I told you all about her name is Tammy Renae Mundell and her unborn son Connor , she was 29 years old and died when her ambulance was hit by a rock semi truck while transporting a patient, she leaves behind 5 children, 11yoa, 7yoa, 6yoa and a 4yoa. her life and time with us was dedicated to helping others she was a member of IAFF I-60 and she will be missed greatly. special thanks too all of the Arizona fire departments that came out to pay their respects to her friends and family. ending the day with an air Ambulance Missing man Fly over. and Last roll call it was tough to be at another bag pipe honor guard all be safe.

AZ FF
5/4 Hey folks,
I'm a PFT Lead Firefighter, from "back east." I have some down time due to _______ hotshots being off for part of the summer. Anybody know where a guy might find a detail on a WFU or a helicopter detail? Maybe even a nother shot crew needing a filler for July & August? C-Sawyer, rotor-head certified, FFT1... Just needing somethin to do with some down time, AB..would yuh fwd any emails?

Many thanks.
ZKP

Will forward emails. Ab.
5/4 As several of us head off to Washington DC this week to work on bringing all of our federal
wildland firefighters portal-to-portal pay and other benefits, we know that many of you have
already started your courageous work on the fire lines.

We want you to know that as you go do your work, we will do ours by educating members
of congress on the integral role all of you play as well as the inequities you face as federal
wildland firefighters.

Keep safe, and know that we have your backs on the "Hill"

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn.
5/4 Islander,

You might be able to find the nutritional requirements in the National Catering contract
on the NIFC site. If you can't find the contract specifications there, you may still be able
to find it on http://www2.eps.gov/spg/USDA/FS/ under the National Interagency Fire
Center links.

As far as what we like and don't like, I personally have nightmares about that roast beef
with the nice rainbow trout look to it.

lol Good Luck
John
5/4 Request for info:

We are working with a local group to provide lunches for initial attack/extended
attack incidents. Does anyone know here to find the guidelines for fireline food?

Also – would anyone care to share your preferences for sack lunches?

Thanks,
Islander
5/4 black on both sides

Let the games begin.
Live fuel moisture in Malibu Chemise 1981-2004
www.lacofd.org/Forestry_folder/LFM/Malibu.pdf (pdf file)

RR

5/4 Strider,

This quote "If you can see the incident commander’s ass instead of his face, he is in the wrong place." Great quote for several reasons! [And the author had the rep of being a Firefighter's firefighter, knew when to read someone the BOOK when they screwed up or slacked off, like Studebaker does.] The reasons I like it...

1) Right now blaming management is the goin and blowin, top-down "accountability message" from the WO as though the ic's ass should be in view on every maneuver (sp?). Not possible, not desirable, not delegating correctly. REMFs have a different job to do.

2) When So Cali blows up again, it will be an impossibility to see the ic's face everywhere at once even if the ic's feel they have to be there to cover their a$$. My guess is theyre going to be forced to set some intentions and trust us to take care of our people. The 10 and 18 cover work-rest intent, youre right on with that. More rules dont necessarily save lives. Rules can even put lives at risk. We need to get back to safety basics and away from checklists. Practice safety.

My 2 cents. Things are starting to RIP. Be SAFE.

Cleveland Chuck, long time lurker

5/4 I liked this quote

"Fire prevention is suppression in its purest form." — John Tait

The Preventer

Ab added it.

5/4 About to head out to fight fires in the south but my button got pushed.

Caught CNN Lou Dobs last night. He did a blurb on the fires. Had exciting pics of the fires last fall
and a comment by a CDF rep who said fire season was beginning a month early. More flames of
current fires. Lou ended up saying we were better off now than last year. Whats up with that? The
CA budget crunch for CDF, the FS Hispanic quotas postponing hiring & training of 500 firefighters, the
probs with cutting out beetlekill, the lack of agreement or a ff plan in San Diego Co. I don't get where
the "we're better off now" came from? Any of the readers here handing out that BULL to the press???
The press should be telling people to clear their defensible space & that firefighters will not be able to
save most of their asses er assets if we have fires like last fall. Tell the public about homes that are
keepers vs losers. & about communities that are keepers vs losers. Doesn't take a brain surgeon
just some responsible reporting.

Sorry Ab, for the asses, People TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. No deaths for stoopid interface
homes.

Another Q: how are the teams planning to deal with it when we have to break the letter of the laws that
go with all the abatements? Another 3-5 days of IA? You bet your booties if we have another big
conflagration down south. We are staggering under the bureaucracy of rules and regs. We need
relief from the work-rest. Can't we be trusted to make good decisions? Quality rest is more impt
than quantity everyone knows that. Seems to me its covered by "Fight Fire Aggressively but Provide
for Safety First".

I'm shutting up now. Rogerdoger over and out.

Strider

5/4 River & others who might be interested,

You must be a good luck charm, River. I took some obscure scearching turns and twists (unfortunately not using Google) and ended up at the Wenatchee Forestry Sciences Laboratory. There are a wide variety of forest related scientific reports here...in addition to the one I was trying to find.

www.fs.fed.us/pnw/wenlab/pages/pubs-index.html

Though its not a fire specific site, there are fire related materials available through the lab. Maybe it would be a good link, Ab. Some of the reports are old, but not that old.

Shari
5/3 Shari.... try "google" search.... pretty easy to find your answer... I'm amazed you didn't try that first......

MOC4546.... more to come on that subject.... stay tuned.....

May take a week or so since everyone is out of town on fires in SoCal or traveling elsewhere......

Rogue Rivers
5/3 Ab,
I have a request. I've been searching for the following:

"Long Range Planning for Developed Sites in the Pacific Northwest: The Context of Hazard Tree Management"
(#FPM-TP039-92 - Published by the USFS in 1992 in R6)

It was recommended by a gentleman at MTDC. I'm not sure if its out of print, but up to now I have been unable to find a copy. I'm hoping information contained in it will help us as we put together the Hazard Tree Faller cross training program for Commercial Timber Fallers which is currently in the process of being developed.

If anyone out there has a copy that they're not using, I sure would appreciate getting my hands on it.
Thanks
Shari
5/3 To All:

I know there are many who read this board who are seasonal firefighters, permanent firefighter, and those who are looking for work. So this next question going out to all who read this needs to be answered with a No-Nonsense and No-Bull#$%^ answer:

With the Consent Decree thing rearing its ugly head up again the threat going on the board, but more significantly in the Media, is there will be no temporary employee hirings in California's National Forests, National Parks, or BLM Districts. The rumor going around on TV and in the newspaper is the USFS will instead "concentrate on its permanent employees to handle the tasks".

Is there going to be any Federal Temporary Firefighter hirings for the Big Three (FS, BLM, NPS) or not? Are these temporary positions being converted to permanent slots, like what happened in Region 6 back in the early 1990's? Has this new effort of Consent Decree brought us back to the 1980's where there are plenty of qualified applicants applying but they do not have the desired statistical plumbing or skin color?

I read a lot on the board here but could not find a direct answer to my questions. Can someone out there give us all a CLEAR UNDERSTANDING of what is coming up? Especially for those who are current seasonals and new applicants who need to find a job for the season if this one does not work?

Thanks.

MOC4546
5/3 Record heat, lack of winter rain, cured fuels, yeeha! Keep your heads up folks!

SoCal is on fire already! It looks to be another big season.

The Seasonal Assessment said as much and looks to be right on, (I was not convinced
it was a worthwhile effort, but it seems they were right).

Now, too bad we are not fully staffed due to the hiring... ummm... snafu caused by the
Hispanic Resolution.

BB
5/3 Hey Kibby,

Me and JR worked with you last year in NV, where are you this year?
The Caribou folks are good, professional people. Email me if you can
at cowkiller@dirtracers.com

K.R.
5/3 AK,

I also worked with the Caribou-Targhee folks a couple
of years ago. They were professional, safe and
efficient in everything they did - line digging,
burnout operations, directing helicopter bucketwork,
etc. They were also friendly and easy to work with.
They seemed to have a lot of experienced/well-trained
folks in their ranks and definitely would have passed
as a 'shot crew.

Kibby
5/3 AK: I have worked with this crew in Utah. They are a great crew and should
be a shot crew. The only item they were missing at the time was vehicles.
You can see a pic of them on Handcrew 5 - Targhee Regulars.

sfirelake
5/3 Lobotomy,
Thanks for the note, and thanks for being on the chat line. No offense
taken, we in fire are noted for being passionate about our work, and we
speak in clear text. Differences of opinion is why we all appreciate this
forum. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; I'm still learning.

Old Fire Guy
5/3 HI Ab & MOC4546

You were asking about the Engines that are parked at
the Training Center. Around February about half that
lot was full of Model 42, 51, & 61's all up for
auction, from what I understand those that are left
are headed to Guam.

Keep on truckin
Lucky 13
5/3 Moc4546,

The forest service engines you saw are used for the engine academy
they have there at the training center. We used one in the academy we
were just in to stage a mass casualty incident with van verses model 42.

ah
5/2 Old Fire Guy,

Keeping on the same discussion track. I agree with you that improving firefighters appointments to 18/8 or PFT is something that all the agencies should look at. OFG, this is an administrative issue and not a legislative issue. Each agency has the opportunity to address recruitment and retention issues, find the fixes as you have mentioned, and then submit a budget to congress to cover those ideas. This is just the regular operation of Executive Branch funding processes.

When it comes to the legislative side, Agencies cannot lobby congress. Individual employees and members of associations can. That's where HR 2963 (Portal to Portal) comes in. The FWFSA listened to its members and worked with Congress to craft legislation that the members of the FWFSA wanted. It was introduced with bi-partisan support. Field hearings are in the near future, probably somewhere in Arizona.

Old Fire Guy, I welcomed your attendance in the FireChat last night even though I was a little rude and coarse with you. It won't happen again. I should have realized you were only speaking your honest opinions. We both have the same goals in improving recruitment and retention. We just have different ideas on how to do it.

Lobotomy

5/2 100 degrees and light offshore winds in Orange County today....Southern California opening
fire season tomorrow officially. This is three weeks earlier than normal.

Contract County Guy

5/2 Has anyone worked with Centennial Type 2 crew from the car/targee nf?
does this crew have a good rep? i thing the sup is mike <snip>. any info please.
i think they are based in island park idaho AK

Ab's willing to put people in touch.

5/2 HI Ab,

Recently I was down in Sacramento for a State Fire Marshal Training class at the old
McClellan AFB. As I was driving by I saw the new Forest Service Wildland Training
Center (which looks nice) and on the backside I saw about 20 old FS engines parked
in the back lot. Does anyone know if those are to be sold, or being used for training?
They were mostly Model 42s.

MOC4546

5/2 Hi ab and all,

This web page, www.firenuggets.com/oneliners.htm is a listing of "One
Liners" from our fellow firefighters throughout the fire service. you will
find some real pearls of wisdom relating to fireground safety, the value of
training, incident management, and situational awareness. Most are
adaptable to wildland firefighting. Enjoy them and share them with your
crews.

Hunter

Thanks Hunter. Lots of training going on. Trainees, and others, jot down the good quotes (funny, serious, inspirational, etc) from your instructors for our Quotes to Live By list. Ab.

5/2 anonymous monikers are a good thing - if everyone had to use real names there would be
fewer postings and erode the sharing of information in this forum. "mining" for information
is not always a bad thing either; more often than not it is educational!

I, for one, have trusted Ab to keep my personal identity safe <grins> if anyone wants to
contact me, I'm sure Ab has the ability to find me in cyber.

SAFETY FIRST! safe fire season all,
River
5/1 Chat at 7:30 or 8 Pacific time? Ab.
5/1 Abs,

Regarding your comments to my Air Tanker post.........
The NTSB report recommends exactly what the Blue Ribbon Panel recommended regarding the Airtanker Fleet. Funny thing is that the DOI and DoA FS have already accomplished the recommendation........Remember last year...Sandia Lab inspections???????? The process is in place to accomplish what the NTSB report is re-stating from the BRP report.

The political games have begun..... There is a faction of the Aviation Leadership in Washington who seem bent on getting rid of the current heavy air tanker fleet even though the inspections were accomplished.......

Gonna get interesting...

Yactak

5/1 www.nationalatlas.gov/

Hi cool site for all to enjoy. Be Safe out there.

Firefighter51
5/1 Old Fire Guy,

In regards to the chat.... how about 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. pacific time?

Lobotomy

5/1 Hey Old Fire Guy....

I don't wan't a longer appointment. If you force me to work a longer appointment than 13/13,
I'll leave. I just want to be paid the same way as other firefighters while I work. I know I'll
always be paid less, I just want to be paid the same way.

I am a seasonal firefighter because it offsets my winter work season. I love to ski and work
as a ski patrol member. I also love wildland firefighting.

Also, if it's a bad ski season, I can collect unemployment from the state andit's pretty close
to my "normal" pay check. I know that sounds bad.... but it's how the system is set up.
Our pay is so low that "unemployment" pays the same as base time.

I know of teachers and professors who are wildland firefighters during the summer. They
are against longer appointments also.

I think several years ago, the FWFSA had some pretty cool benefits lined up for seasonal
firefighters. They were told "NO" that they could not make these benefits available because
they weren't government sanctioned.

Pretty bad news when the "gov" can't cooperate with a group trying to make things better
for us seasonals.

SkiBum

5/1 Casey,

I understand the reasoning for portal to portal pay for federal firefighters, I wouldn't mind being paid portal to portal myself, but you said something in your last reply here that I would love to hear some clarification on. That would be "the over-reliance on price-gouging, for-profit contractors" part of your comments. I admit I haven't been able to find many "Cost Comparisons" between Agency and Contract Resources to evaluate the differences in cost, but the one I did find (on this site), seems to clearly show that at least in some cases, contract resources may provide an honest savings to the Government. If the private contract community can offer the same level of equipment and trained personnel, at considerably less expense to the agency than it would cost them to maintain and staff that equipment themselves in-house, why would anybody say contractors were "price -gouging"? Contractors have just as much to consider when figuring cost into their bids before a fire season, as the agencies do, between maintenance, general liability insurance, vehicle insurance workers compensation insurance (which I would almost be willing to bet is charged at a much higher rate than the Federal Government pays to cover their employees that do the same work).

In closing I guess what I want to say is that while there may be "some" private contractors out there that do indeed "price -gouge", for the most part the average contractor out in the workforce right now is simply trying to provide a necessary service, for a reasonable and competitive price.

John

5/1 Abs,

I appreciate the discussion on compensation. I need to clarify something from my last posting: This groundpounder supports equitable pay for wildland firefighters no matter who they are. I am a pragmatist, though, which usually doesn't get me very many free drinks.

As a wildland firefighter, I want to be compensated fairly. But I am also a homeowner and a taxpayer deeply involved in my community. There is a bottom to the public pocket. Government only spends money, it doesn't create it. The private sector has to be creating income to pay taxes. No revenue--either property, sales, duties or income, no government. There comes a point of diminishing returns when the goose (taxpayers) can't enough golden eggs (tax revenue) to keep up.

Sure, I would like to make $100,000 in overtime putting out wildfires. Then again, why not $200,000 and I'll forget about work for a while? Gee, let's all demand $200 per hour plus overtime, get paid 24 hours a day and while we're at it rack up two months of paid vacation to Hawaii! Any Economics 101 student knows, though, that a balance must be struck between equitable public employee compensation, fiscal responsibility and public accountability. There are states in the U.S. teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Among other cost-saving measures, they are revisiting public employee labor rules and compensation packages as they attempt to bring revenue in line with outlays. For many in public service, the days of generous new labor contracts are history. I see that in my own town where the IAFF is in for a tough fight with the fire commissioners for their next contract. The commissioners will be looking at every penny. In the past, the IAFF local pretty much had a blank check.

We are doing ourselves a disservice by believing that we can model and replicate some of the more generous state and municipal compensation packages (which are becoming endangered species in their own right). We can be spoiled children and demand everything because the kid down the street has it (whose parents are nearly bankrupt), or cagey professionals who strategically measure our actions with political and fiscal reality.

One of the Chickens

5/1 The Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455 are updated.

Everyone, there are some fine photos sent in by Brain A., primarily of helicopters and helirappllers, but they also include some equipment photos and a SEAT photo. To see those, take a look at Helicopters 14, Equipment 7, and Airtanker 10 photo pages. Other contributors, I'm working on your photos... Cedar Fire, supertanker, dozer photos. Thanks. Thanks also to the NJ firefighter for sending the historical info on the several memorials to NJ wildland firefighters who died. I'm working on that too. Ab.

5/1 Ab,

This post is virtually unrelated to the conversation strings currently ongoing on They Said.

First, I will say that the vast majority of contacts - both within the agencies and throughout the private sector - I have made through this venue have played a phenomenal role in the ground we have gained to develop and implement National Standards for Commercial Timber Fallers working on the fireline. Those of you who have lent a hand...in terms of advice, support and facilitated networking, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. There are some solid people here working toward bettering the working conditions of folks in a variety of realms. You are to be commended.

Unfortunately, there are also folks utilizing this venue to "mine for targets." Meaning - information posted here, and the identities of those posters have been used, (and continue to be used) as ammunition...to further personal agenda's not necessarily linked to bettering working conditions for anyone but the individual doing the "mining."

I have received my share of abusive and vengeful email correspondence related to my work in the National Standards for fallers arena. All of them have been sent under the "cloak of anonymity," which I personally don't take lightly. Having the background of an investigative reporter, it doesn't take long to trace the origin. Which leads me to this piece of advice..."No communication, however covertly it is transmitted, or through whatever conduit it is sent, is anonymous." Every piece of communication can be tracked. Take this into consideration even in this venue. Using monikers accomplishes little but providing amusement in observing what we call ourselves.

I was very active on They Said over a year ago. I came onto the site to express frustration at the current state of fallers on the fireline. Many of you helped us form strategies, and make connections that have played an invaluable role in helping us make huge progress over the past year. I stopped participating at the point where the contractor bashing started, fueled by what I saw as frustration over the "outsourcing" debate. I withdrew because, as a contractor, I didn't feel there was anything I could, or should say in that regard (especially when I was just at the point where I was trying very hard to understand all of the nuances), and connecting fallers with that debate was, in my opinion, inappropriate. I also began to realize I didn't agree with the whole philosophy of using monikers to cloak identity...and embarked on my own investigation to see if I truly could decipher "who was who" and track emails that had been sent to me without clear identification. I could and did. Others do the same.

So, to those of you who use this site in the way I believe it was intended, bravo to you and thank you for the efforts you make to understand the issues affecting the firefighting workforce and your attempts to do something about them. To those of you who mine for information and for victims...karma will get you folks. I, for one, have enough "umph" left in my "karma bag" to do something about it.

Everyone, be safe this summer and watch out after yourselves AND one another. It takes both.

Ciao,
Shari Downhill
aka Fire Momma

Original Ab’s Response:

We here at WLF are happy your personal and organizational goals benefited from your participation here in our humble venue. It means to us that you received information. Information exchange is the reason this site was created, it has remained our primary purpose and we plan on keeping it that way.

As in any public media, there may be those here whose personal goals are objectionable or even illicit. We do our best to moderate TheySaid It with an open mind and allow most any reasonable postings. We believe some folks are more comfortable using a moniker, their initials, or amusing phrase to identify themselves, and we will continue to allow it. We think the label a person uses at the end of a post is essentially irrelevant. We tend to focus on the validity of the information they are looking for or are sharing with others. We are not in the business of “mining”, collecting, or validating email addresses or other personal information on our participants.

I think one of the attractions of TheySaid It is the dynamics of the threads and topics. A subject that is important and receives a lot of attention one day may disappear the next. We always think it’s a good idea for folks to withhold their comments when they don’t understand a topic, much as you did when the outsourcing subject arose. Rather than fan the flames with ignorance, sometimes it’s best to back off and watch where the head of the fire is going. You can learn a lot about what people are thinking and what their perceptions are, even when they are hostile or confrontational. We do.

We are proud of you for using your cipher skills to learn more about those who sent you anonymous vengeful emails. We could do that too, but we don’t much care or pay a lot of attention to that sort of thing. We have pretty thick skins, as anyone who had been doing this for seven years would have to develop. We’re not sure why you feel the need to warn our readers about your email issues and I think it a bit unwarranted. A quick Google search on your name picks up several of your email addresses from many different sources.

I can tell you one thing about the emails we receive here, you or anyone else isn’t going to get their hands on ‘em without a warrant, or a really. . .really good hacker! And hackers can be traced too.

We appreciate the kudos you gave some of our readers and our venue, but please direct the “umph” in your karma bag somewhere else. You are encouraged to continue sending in your thoughts and comments just as everyone else is. It doesn’t mean we’ll post it, just as we don’t post everything we get, but we’ll read it!

5/1 I would recommend reading the NTSB report regarding the Air Tanker issues. www.ntsb.gov/Recs/letters/2004/A04_29_33.pdf (11 page pdf file)

Page 10, recommendations to the USDA Forest Service and the FAA are particularly telling as these recommendations would be a 180 degree switch in the way both agencies currently do business regarding the Fire Aviation Resources.

Also begs for the HUGE question.........how will this line of thinking apply to the helicopter wing of our firefighting "fleet"??????????

Yactac

Hi Yactac and DP,
Tahoe Terrie suggested loss of the ATs due to the NTSB revised findings some days ago. In html (for quicker download) HERE's what the NTSB says the DoI and DoA need to do. I didn't include the FDA recommendations on this page. I agree that these recommendations are 180 degrees different than anything the DOI and DOA have done in the past and an insurmountable task to accomplish before fire season. Cost, expertise, lead time??? I hate to say it, but it does look like the writing is on the wall. Good question about what this means for inspections of helicopters. Terrie also asked what about the jumper ships? Ab.

5/1 Contract County Guy....

Thanks... your support is invaluable and really appreciated.....

The problem is... "Contract County" guys such as yourself haven't signed on and supported the legislation being presented and passed by federal wildland firefighters and the US voting public.

Wildland firefighters have never been, or will never be, against their structural brothers and sisters, federal or local.

The federal wildland firefighter guys (FWFSA) supported and presented the "POWER" to pass the past legislation to improve federal DoD firefighter conditions. The DoD brothers and sisters who reaped the benefits, stood silent and milked the rewards gained upon the efforts of the wildland firefighter brothers who stood up and overtook the challenge and got the "bill" passed. Pretty sad.......

Any matter, this is why the WILDLAND guys are a little bit pissed off and wondering why their legislation has been put on the "back burner" year after year? This year, it's on the FRONT BURNER......... they are just asking for support. They deserve it......

Rogue Rivers
5/1 Ab:

Contract County Guy had it right. I too am a "contract county guy" and we
fully agree and acknowledge that Fed Firefighters are deserving of better
pay and benefits, and we fully support your efforts to gain portal to portal
and other improvements. But we don't have this animosity towards our fellow
firefighters who work for federal agencies. It is getting very old to get
verbal and other abuse about this issue on this site, and when we meet face
to face. We all make choices in life- don't blame me for making the choice I
made, as opposed to the choices you have made.

It is also totally wrong for any of us on this side to brag about our
working conditions, and I know too many of us do stupidly and flagrantly
flaunt these issues. My agency regularly reminds our employees to NOT
discuss pay or working conditions around fire camp, as this rubs people raw
very quickly. We work hard to project a reputation of taking any assignment
given, and completing it safely, professionally and efficiently regardless
of our pay scale.

One thing I ask federal employees to remember- most of us line animals on
the state and local government side prefer and request to work the 24 hour
shift. We fully believe, and work very hard to support our contention, that
we are very safe and productive in this environment. I personally worked 36
straight hours w/o any relief aggressively fighting the Cedar fire, and
believe my Engine Strike Team is responsible for many saved homes and
business during this extended shift. So we are not spending hours getting
paid for doing nothing but eat camp food and watching the world go by.

bluezebra
5/1 Lobotomy,

We agree on the need for retention. I would pursue that through permanent and competitive appointments, those offering benefits.

An appointment of 18/8 or PFT would provide yearlong income, and the opportunity to participate in some of the training that is available in the "off season". Additional training, benefits, competitive status = greater opportunity and greater chance for retention.

It is my belief that expenditures of government funds in this manner would be better received by the public and congress than the current PTP bill will.

Please read again my proposal. It equates to a payment equal to a 16 hour shift (even if the shift is actually only 12-14). It offers overall cost deferral by reducing the cost of overhead time-keeping.

Take the additional OT $ you would spend paying folks "to sleep" and use it to pay for their employment year-round, offering training/competition/benefits. Overall, the costs may come out exactly the same as your proposal.......

Old Fire Guy

Hey....anyone want to chat about this Saturday night?
 

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