June, 2004

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6/30 I know it's late in the year, but does anyone know of a Helicopter Manager
class which might be scheduled for the near future. I know there are
several scheduled for this winter, but thought I'd check with the ultimate
wildland fire resource before I gave up for one this season!

Thanks - R2FFr
6/30 Re: EERA resources
Where sections of agency land are surrounded by mainly private or state land, VFDs and locals on EERAs are great resources. With the 24 (or 12) hours of mutual aid, many small fires are put out before they get big and become multi-agency. It's one of those deals where we help each other out -- a lot of times engines in our south zone are closer to the high fire activity areas of private land, and we'll I/A, a lot of times as a threat to agency land, until a county engine can get on scene and vice versa. In an area often off the National radar, we take all the resources we can get.

Can't find much in the news on the hot shot crew involved in the accident, but from a look at the NRCC sit it's the <snip>. Best wishes to the crew and regards from Eastern Montana to the RVer who lost a loved one.

Stay safe.


We need to <snip> until family are contacted and info is more officially released. This is a very hard time for those involved. Our thoughts and prayers are with family, friends and the as yet unnamed crew. Ab.
6/30 More info and a video clip on the accident. Our prayers are with them.

Vehicle carrying hotshot crew and RV collide

Tahoe Terrie

6/30 Islander,

Before I get to far into this, let me say, I have been serving with a small rural 100% volunteer fire department, with no tax based district status, as Fire Chief, and Assistant Chief since 1998. I can fully understand your point about small departments needing any potential income they can acquire. I know most actual fire districts, especially at the county level, have an abundance of training in the area of structure firefighting, haz-mat, automobile fires, extrication, etc etc, but I have found that most of the city/rural fire departments (at least in my county), have no more than the basic S-130/190 if even that for wildland fire training. Also most people on this website seem to feel the work capacity test is a good thing, that should be required of anybody on the fireline, yet I have never heard of a city/rural department that has adopted the packtest as a minimum standard, before sending their people out on an assignment. Last season, I was working on a wildland fire that was in the county fire department's jurisdiction, and had the county department's IC (the city's lead training officer which I have known for 10 years) tell me he was cycling his people thru daily while the private contractors were there (after the first day there were no State or Fed wildland personnel on this fire), not to make sure we were doing our job, but rather so his guys could follow us around and learn, because they were lost when it comes to wildland fires.

This is my 3rd fire season as a private contractor in R-6 (only 1 engine so far), and I have worked for another well known contractor for 6 years before heading out on my own. I have seen the level of training required by the EERAs, and the know first hand the level of training and experience that is available in a growing number of reputable private companies. When I look at the wildland fire training and experience between a city department engine's personnel, and a private contractor's engine personnel, I believe that the private contractor is more qualified to be on the line, and is also much more effective in most cases. I also know many SRBs running engines for private contractors that meet or exceed FS standards for their own people that have gained much more large fire experience, than someone that could have had they started working for a Gov Agency at the same time, due to not being stuck in a rotation schedule waiting for an assignment.

A small rural fire department's resources may be less expensive on a Daily basis, but if you figure in the quality of work performed, and in many cases the quality of the equipment, I think it would even out, considering a good contract hand crew or engine crew (yes there are a few around) could most likely accomplish much more work in a day than a typical small town rural fire department's crew. The fire may be contained quicker using the private crews, reducing the overall cost to suppress the fire.

6/30 Ab,

I just heard about the Hotshot crew that was in the accident this morning coming off the Davenport fire.
My condolences to the family of the RV'er that was killed. Our prayers are with them. Hopes and
prayers are also with the rest of those that were involved, may their injuries be minimum and recovery

ember and co-worker

6/30 >From SWCC, at 1100 Mountain...

ABZ... A hotshot crew departing the Davenport Fire was involved in a vehicle accident
with an RV near Magdalena, NM, this morning. One person in the RV was fatality
injured. Several hotshot crew members were injured and have been transported to
hospitals in Socorro and Albuquerque, NM. A news release will be issued shortly and
will be posted at that time.
6/30 Re: Braking Wind

Local resources are not normally dispatched by GACCs. Locals are generally dispatched by local dispatch centers at a county level, including to Federal and State land. This does fall under mutual aid response as what is referred to as the “closest forces” principle. It is not fire chasing, and it has been a principle of wildfire response since long before there were contract engines. Nor was the intent of Congress to supplant those local agencies – the use of private contractors in many of those cases would impact the ability to provide basic fire response within their communities. For example, I live on the edge of a 600 acre piece of Federal land. Should I hold back my engines while I wait 5 or 6 hours for a private contractor to respond, assuming of course that they aren’t already committed elsewhere?

Local agencies need to make their engines available 365 days a year. Firefighters from those agencies don’t get to spend the winter in Hawaii, they don’t get to pick and choose from the assignments they get offered. They are less expensive than contractors, and generally far better trained. Yes, many of them use EERAs and in the cases of many of the smaller rural agencies that is a significant source of the funding for their firefighting equipment. If you feel that that money, tax money, should be going into your pocket instead of maintaining an essential public service, I would have to respectfully disagree.

6/30 A quick question to any AD folks out there...

Has anyone ever signed up for and AD at a fire location during a fire? I'm on an AD crew in ABQ, and people from all around us are getting sent the Willow Fire, but we're just sitting around on our behinds, even though we've gotten about an inch of rain in the last few days. I'm trying to find a way to get on an AD crew in Payson, but can't dig through the phone numbers enough to find who I need to talk to. Just curious if anyone has ever employed this kind of work strategy before. Be safe!

6/30 Braking Wind and Siskiyou,

The sad truth is the lack of fire this early part of
the season is affecting everyone, albeit some more
significantly than others. Bottomline on this issue
is choices. Some chose to join contracting outfits,
others maybe had fewer options about working for the
agencies and took a job with the private sector. Im
aware that it will directly affect the pocketbook of
some of the companies that provide these private
resources but like any business its supply and demand.
As for the engine, water tenders and handcrews all I
can say is hope for a better middle and end to the
season. Getting angry and bitter only increases the
divisions that already exist among the public and
private sector in our industry. Afterall, we cant
blame the lack of fire on each other so we might as
well refrain from any attacks until we are all hard at
work once again

6/30 Just a few minor thoughts...

In my area, when the VFD or paid departments respond to new starts, it's generally with the expressed consent of the federal agencies. With the lack of large tanker support, everyone in my area is a little gun-shy on letting small fires go big. And on the competition with the private sector, the VDF and Paid Departments were there long before you, so get over it. They have been responding throughout the years protecting their communities, and when I hear the whining from the contractors about competition, it makes my temporary whining-induced tourettes syndrome act up. Generally speaking, and I only can talk about my area, through mutual aid agreements, the first 12 to 24 hours are no charge to the responsible agency, so initial attack is inexpensive to the taxpayer. And if an agency decides to keep IA resources, then there is set cost limits through the agreements between agencies. Now, please do not take what I'm going to say the wrong way, but it should be incumbent to Federal, State, and Local agencies to try to keeps cost down as long as it doesn't compromise Firefighter safety. So when I see a Federal, State, or Local Engine or Tender, I feel like my taxes are going to be used effectively, and hopefully efficiently. I absolutely have no problem with contractors, and have worked with some of the finest people who were contractors, but they should be the last called up on fires after a regions Federal, State and Local Department resources are exhausted. >phew!< Yep, now I know I've done it Ab, after spouting my anti-free commerce rhetoric, I will now retreat to my armored teepee and wait for the inevitable attacks on my opinion....sigh...oh well, there will always beer and Doritos....


Best check the beer cooler for boobytraps. Ab.
6/30 HI Ab,

Lots of fire activity in Regions 3, 4 and 5 over the last few days... but not too many Engine or Tender contractors are working. Anyone have any thoughts on this? It looks like we all (private Engine and Tender firms) ought to weld the wings of the grounded C130 air tankers to our equipment, if we want to work this season... In Northern Cal. and Nevada small, local fire departments are showing up to new starts without being dispatched by area GACCs and then billing out their time to the Feds and States...is this fire chasing or is this considered another use of mutual aid agreements? If the Private Sector started chasing fires, in this manner, we would have our contracts terminated. I thought the Federal government was supposed to use more private resources (as mandated by Federal law and Congress), additionally many of these small departments are using EERAs, a direct competition with the Private Sector. If you ( the Private Sector Vendors) with engines and tenders, want to work this season, you better start making yourself more visible. Contact your GACCs, your Contracting Officers, your elected officials and the Press or you might as well tie a rope on your trucks and hook 'em to your boat. Contacting your Contracting Associations and asking for their help might also help.

The Braking Wind
6/30 Nomad,
Would you like a little cheese with your wine?
You said;

"those of us stuck way up here in the nowhere'sville part of North Zone are
just stuck here until something happens in our neck of the woods" "Not only
is this breaking my bank account, I'm thinking that it's going to cause some
serious problems as far as retention & turnover for the crews in North Zone"

Reality check.
There are many contractors, crews and equipment, just over the border who
did not make a dime last year and nothing so far this year. When we are
sitting here maintaining our 2 million dollar insurance, equipment, crews,
training, truck inspections, licenses, medical cards, drug screenings, and
the list goes on, all of which is mandated, the feds do not pay us a dime.
We are relegated to just one forest and will not be dispatched to adjacent
forests until all of their resources have been dispatched. We like to eat
also. You on the other hand have a predictable paycheck and benefits that
just keep rolling on in. You have it good and just don't know it. If you
want to see just how tough it can be, try the private sector where
advancement only comes with skills upgrades and performance, not seniority
or screwing up.
Enough of my rant but this just pushed me over the edge.

6/30 Re the 52 Club

Readers, if you are hesitant because you prefer anonymity (want your name kept confidential), Vickie can do that! my suggestion is call directly or mail your donation with a note stating how you'd like to be listed, or not listed - I & many others did so months ago! (bet she'd use your moniker).

"52 a year out of the thousands earned is bootlace and incidentals money", or someone's bar tab for one weekend!
"I have heard several say that to offer thanks or otherwise publicly endorse the Foundation would possibly be viewed as a conflict of interest by their (federal) employer." that's an incredible stretch of anyone's imagination!

be safe out there kids: pray you or your loved ones will never need to depend on a check from Wildland Firefighter Foundation. doubters: take a good look at that website, and who were first on the Club 52 wagon!

best wishes for a safer season all!

6/30 With the 4th of July coming up, I had to send this one in.......


Beware of unattended beer coolers!!!!! It's funny initially, but, if true, is actually sad in the end that a wildland firefighters favorite pastime of drinking beer is now being identified as a potential terrorist threat....


Serious stuff? Hickman sent in the same warning. I was sure it was a joke. Ab.
6/29 52 List

Hey folks - check out the list. For such a good cause, this page ought to
be flooded.

Remember, with over 25,000 of us alive and kicking during the summer months
of battle, it's these members of the 52 club who are going to help YOU when
and if something goes wrong. Let's grow this list. With only 192 people,

Friend of the 52's

Everyone, We do need to work on Wildland Firefighter Foundation donations. Think of it this way...

So far this program has netted $ 9,932 (today there are 191 members at $52 apiece). I know some have sent in more, but let's figure the "income" this way, using the "power of one" numbers...

OK how about "expenses"? When someone dies or is injured, how much money does the most rapid Wildland Firefighter Foundation response require? Well, I have heard that family members are often flown to the site, and motel, car rental, etc may be arranged. There's also $$ (often $2,500) for family members' immediate expenses to tide them over until insurance payments kick in... with injuries, some funds may be needed to fly the injured firefighter home on a plane with medical capabilities... Statues are another large expense and 14 just went out to the families of the Storm King fallen.

So our 52 Club with less than $10,000 so far, at most will help 3 or 4 wildland firefighters this year (or just about cover the statues that were shipped out). Unfortunately if history is our guide, it's not enough. We need to do better. Ideally, we need to do well enough that our director Vicki doesn't dip into her own bank account when the money runs out toward the middle or end of the season (as she's done since 1994 following Storm King!). Ideally, we need to get a cushion so that support for firefighter families is paid out of the fund's interest, not the principal. The Foundation needs to be self-sustaining. I hope that as you receive your first checks this fire season you remember to send some in our Foundation's direction. The Family you help is your own. Our Foundation is a funnel of our support!

Those of you who have been helped, please speak up. I have heard several say that to offer thanks or otherwise publicly endorse the Foundation would possibly be viewed as a conflict of interest by their (federal) employer. I say BS to that! As public citizens you can honestly say you were helped if you were. First Amendment rights! Let's get real here! We need to do better. Please tell your stories! We want to hear them. Tell your friends and family members. Say your thanks here or on the Foundation website. If anyone wants some editorial help, get in touch. The Abs will help you write your story.

We're pleased to see that the number of Organizations that have 75-100% of employees enrolled is growing. 52 Gold Club Firefighters, please suggest to your employers to encourage their employees to join... $52 a year out of the thousands earned is bootlace and incidentals money. Employers, we challenge you to donate some more on top of that. You make lots of money on the back of fire suppression. Please support the fire family. To those who do already, many thanks!!!

Let's make this 52 Club work for ALL our sakes.


6/29 Great jokes guys and gals!

RR, I agree and I think the season is finally just kicking in.

As for the shelters. The safenet came from my Wildland Apprenticeship Academy in Sacramento this past winter. It came about when we did an "Entrapment Avoidance" class and the new shelters were brought out. They popped it out and it ripped near the handles. When that happened an apprentice spoke up and said he and his crew had the same problem. And that started this whole thing....it's kind of weird seeing the change of something so big right in front of you...

6/29 Mellie changing lightbulbs? Not in this life. From what I hear, she brings enough light
into the room with her, there is no need for any sort of artificial light!

6/29 Hello Sammi,

The new GSA 2002M shelters are being retro fitted and being sent back out into the field. If you are a contractor there was a letter sent out that you can carry the un-retro fitted shelter on wildland fires.

As with any new product, recalls do happen, but keep looking on wildlandfire.com and look for information on the new shelters.

You should be able to buy the new GSA shelters from a number of pvt venders, and most should have them in stock right now.

Anyone who has got a chance to open a new GSA shelter in a office setting or during training and has any thing they would like to make everyone aware of please use the


Stay Safe,
Storm King Mountain Technologies
6/28 The Nomad, ... rumors are rumors.... But if you have a document that proves your statement, I'm sure the HS community would like to see it.

Here is a list of the current HS, IHC, and RHC commitments in R-3.... Please note that most SoCal R-5 crews are sitting in place and aren't assigned to R-3....... Maybe there is another problem with why your crew isn't being sent off forest?... ie- certification, dispatch, or Forest preference?

Please note the Northern and Central California crews who went out in front of their buddies from the south!! Many SoCal crews who you are citing are still sitting at home and also wondering why the season is so slow....

Our local crews have nowhere near the OT or fire assignments that you are claiming..... it looks like NICC and the GACC's are sharing the wealth pretty good to me nationwide...... ITS BEEN A SLOW SEASON SO FAR!!!! Slow seasons happen every once in awhile......Get over it........ Unfortunately, every year can't be a 1000+ overtime year..... Those of us who remeber the pre-1997 years KNOW that 400-800 hours was a very good year. In 1985 I got 414 hours of OT (Very Busy Year) and in 1987 (Drop Dead Tired Busy Year) I had 840 hours of OT...

Nomad, if what you claim is true.. then things will change around in the future just as they do every year...... It all works out in the end...... Fire Seasons travel from region to region as the weather changes.....

Lassen          NO-CA-PNF N/A C 6/27 AZ SEZ CNF Nuttall
Plumas          NO-CA-PNF N/A C 6/27 AZ SEZ CNF Nuttall
Idaho Panhandle NR-ID-IPF N/A C 6/27 AZ CWZ TNF Willow
Chief Mountain  NR-MT-BFA N/A C 6/26 NM ABZ N6S La Joya
Bitterroot      NR-MT-BRF N/A C 6/25 NM ABZ CIF Davenport
Helena          NR-MT-HNF N/A C 6/27 AZ CWZ TNF Willow
Lewis & Clark   NR-MT-LCF N/A C 6/27 AZ CWZ TNF Willow
Lolo            NR-MT-LNF N/A C 6/27 AZ CWZ TNF Willow
Bear Paw        NR-MT-RBA N/A C 6/27 AZ CWZ TNF Willow
La Grande       NW-OR-WWF N/A C 6/24 NM LNZ LNF Peppin
Pike            RM-CO-PSF N/A C 6/24 AZ WMZ ASF Bear
Augusta         SA-GA-SHD N/A C 6/27 AZ SEZ CNF Nuttall
Jackson         SA-MS-JAD N/A C 6/27 AZ SEZ CNF Nuttall
Dalton          SO-CA-ANF N/A C 6/22 AZ SEZ CNF Noon
Laguna          SO-CA-CNF N/A C 6/25 NM ABZ CIF Davenport
Sierra          SO-CA-SNF N/A C 6/22 AZ SEZ CNF Noon
Rincon          SO-CA-SQF N/A C 6/26 AZ CWZ TNF Willow
Ruby Mountain   WB-NV-EKD N/A C 6/24 AZ SEZ CNF Noon
6/28 From BP

Wildfire in Tonto National Forest (AZ) doubles in size
6/28 Ab and MJX

There's a "Ring of Fire" pin in addition to the purple ribbon pin. There is also a new Ring of Fire pin representing 52 Weeks we Remember. That pin only comes with a 52 Club membership. (We don't have a picture yet.) To join the 52 Club, go to our website at www.wffoundation.org or call our office at (208) 336-2996.

Our office has just moved into a new building (2049 Airport Way, Boise, ID 83705) and we have been without phones and/or internet service for far too long. Our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience.

Burk Minor, Public Relations
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

6/28 How many mellies does it take to change a light bulb?

ONE she can do it alll


Good one. Ab.
6/28 Sammi

We are getting some erroneous emails for posting about why the new fire shelters are being recalled. Here's the memo that came out in April, 2004. The handles need to be reinforced.



6/28 Can you give me some information, relative to the Federal rules on the
retirement age for Police and Fire Chiefs and does the federal law override
city and state charters.


Maureen Garza
email momo39@comcast.net
6/28 So, two vollies are stranded on a desert island. They have, between the two of them, a beer cooler, two sixpacks, fourteen miscellaneous knives, a salvage tarp, a pike pole, a Mark III pump, and a St. Florian’s medal. Now, bein’ as how vollies are fairly used to doing amazing things with nothing, they drink the beer, improvise a parabolic reflector out of the cans, and begin trying to burn birds out of the sky with it. This was found to be highly entertaining, but they stopped when one of them pointed out that might hit something with T&E status and that might jeopardize their chances for VFA/RFA funding next year. So, they converted their parabolic reflector into a solar oven to try toasting coconut so they could make more beer, and a solar still to make fresh water, and maybe to make the beer into something more interesting. While they were waiting for the still to begin producing, they converted the beer cooler, tarp, and pike pole into a nicely functional raft, converted the Mark III to run on coconut oil and propel the raft through the water like a jet engine, and set off for the mainland to find more beer. Once there, they realized that even though they had this awesome boat, the ‘Shots were still getting all the chicks. One vollie kept offering to show them his St. Florian’s medal, but they all though he meant something dirty. Discouraged, the two vollies restocked on beer and headed back to their island to wait for lightning to hit their palm tree, and to apply for more funding.

Nerd on the Fireline (who else?)
6/28 More: "It only takes one hotshot to install a light bulb. The hotshot has only to hold the bulb
because the rest of the world revolves around them." LMAO!

Are you sure? what happened to the new solar powered illumination feature recently mandated
for installation on your brightly colored helmets?

Has anyone notified the tree hangers (lawn darts or rotor heads) that the world is revolving
around Shots this season?

Is it true, this season's new tool will be a neon hose lay dropped down slope by the engine
slugs? something Contractors can follow within the terms of contract?

keep safe all on the firelines!

6/28 R-5 Dispatching of Crews:

So word came down from the top today that R-5 dispatch is no longer rotating assignments between IHC crews , but instead are sending "the nearest available unit." So all the south zone crews are going to R-3, and those of us stuck way up here in the nowhere'sville part of North Zone are just stuck here until something happens in our neck of the woods.

Not only is this breaking my bank account, I'm thinking that it's going to cause some serious problems as far as retention & turnover for the crews in North Zone. For example, my IHC crew has been available since mid-May & we haven't gone off forest yet. Still getting those good ol' base pay checks. Meanwhile, crews just 4 hours south of us have gone on 3 major fire assignments already & raked in ~400hrs of OT.

I mean, in addition to morale being low in general, I really don't know how or why anyone would return to a hotshot crew that doesn't go on fires. I mean, seriously, there's going to be a real retention problem if the season goes on like this. Why would you stay on one crew that is virtually always the last one in line for fire dispatches when you could go to another crew that is actually going to fight fire & make you some money.

I understand on IA & stuff that you need the nearest crew, but when you're driving to 1000+ miles and it's only a few hours difference between crews- I mean, c'mon, share the wealth. I can understand a certain perspective & logic that says "Hey, send the nearest crew. Duh. Just makes sense." But when you look at the big picture, you're setting the system up for some major inequities in the quality & experience of trained personnel. If there becomes a distinct monetary pecking order of Hotshot crews, then the crews at the bottom will suffer & the forest service as a whole will suffer because a lot of good, experienced people will not be able to afford to live on the money they make by sitting around on base- and they will leave. There is a certain sect of the forest service that is here not only because they love what they do but they need the money. Sometimes, you work hard because you want it, sometimes you work hard because you need it. And I, for one, need it bad this season.

If anyone knows a little more about the backstory behind this policy change or why it came about, please share. I am interested.

-The Nomad
6/28 Could someone please give us an update on the "new" shelters? My guys are still lugging
around the old ones and I get a wee bit grippy at the idea that we were told they are ready
to go with the new ones then nothing happened. So...........

6/28 Discussion item: Wildland fire was the cover story of Parade magazine in Sunday's newspapers that went to millions of households across the country. Did anyone read it? Any comments? Did this article help or hinder wildland firefighting? I didn't get a chance to ask my urban inlaws what they got out of it yesterday. My first reaction to the article was whether 2 pages trying to solve all the problems would really help, hinder, or not make any difference. The impressive thought is that this went into millions of homes and I know my wife when we get the Sunday paper makes a point to pull out Parade to read.

6/27 How many rappellers would it take to change a

Well, the first out initial stick of rappellers would
vie for the job with their spotter in tow or find
themselves out of proficiency on their red card. Of
course the contractors would want a stake in the
operation so that they could give their two cents
because we all know they've "seen and done more". The
Contracting Officer would have to be there as well to
oversee agency compliance or issue a "SafeCom" due to
negligence of proper methods detailed in the IHOG.
The COR would need to back up the CO, most likely
someone from the state office with gray or graying
hair driving a late model agency sedan and toting an
important looking briefcase. The region's Helicopter
Operations Specialist would have some safety
annotations as well as OSHA and DOT regs that he or
she was recently privy to during some closed door
meeting about changing every helicopter regulation and
while neglecting to inform every crew from the east to
the west coast until there was an accident.

If the lightbulb had to be changed on an incident the
helibase manager would appoint a helicopter manager
who in turn would appoint the parking tender who would
recruit his best friend from the neighboring pad. The
helicopter coordinator (HLCO) would like to see it
done so that he could approve the work to the ATGS
oversight who would show the ASGS an aerial photo who
would have a cup of coffee with the AOBD and the team
that afternoon during the biggest blow up since it was
a single tree IA weeks earlier.

6/27 It only takes one hotshot to install a light bulb. The hotshot has only to hold the bulb because
the rest of the world revolves around them.


<rolling on the floor> Ab.
6/27 From Firescribe:

Alaska fires from space

6/27 Ab,

Just a reply to all the Hotshot Humor in the past posts. It sounds like no shots have had any comments, probably because we are on fire working while everyone else is wishing. Anyway I'm responding while on R&R from a roll in R3.

"How many hotshots does it take to change a light bulb?" The answer is None.
Shots are to busy putting in the hose lay for the engine slugs that cant hump their hose pack up the hill.

"Two hotshots were stranded on a desert Island..." I'm guessing the story involves the end of a 1000 hr OT season, a trip to the South Pacific in the off season, and a lot of beer.

Hope everyone on Dalton is O.K. Just worked with those guys on the Sedgwick fire.

Have a safe season, see you on the line.


Ditto on the wishes for the Dalton crew. As for shot lightbulb replies... Some of the funniest early responses were from shots. Ab.
6/27  "How many hotshots does it take to change a lightbulb?
Sixteen. One to change the bulb and 15 more to explain in the chow line how they did it better than a type II crew.

"How many jumpers does it take to change a lightbulb?
None. That is what hotshots are for.

"How many rapellers does it take to change a lightbulb?
None. That is what jumpers are for.

"How many engine slugs does it take to change a lightbulb?
Three, one to change it, another to find what compartment it is in this week and a third to complain about the cost of bulbs from GSA.

"How many contractors does it take to change a lightbulb?
Not Possible. It is not in either the regional or national contract. However, all contractors present will readily explain how private industry "could" do it cheaper.

"How many Washington Office Personnel does it take to change a lightbulb?
After the meeting is over, six: One to change it, two others to administer first aid, and three more to fill out the mitigation letter cover up for managers that forgot just how tough it was to change a light bulb in the field.

"How many CDF'ers does it take to change a lightbulb?
How many can you afford?

6/27 Firewall,
I have found lots of websites that update fires daily! I would love to share some of the most informative and (frankly, really cool) websites.
Here are some of my favorite links:
(The Geomac website has several links that I bum around on right on the main page, so I didn't copy those here.)


Both of these websites have links to each other and to more websites having to do with the different types of firefighting.

Take care,
6/27 Southwestern Utah is burning again. Square Complex is 2 separate fires started by lightning. It's down the road a piece from where the Utah Hill Fire and Dammeron Complex fire burnt a week and a half ago, burning in black brush and junipers. According to www.utahfireinfo.gov it has burned 11,000 acres since first reported this morning (yesterday) at 6am. Just got back from a long day of structure protection, nothing lost so far since its not a heavily populated area. Not sure what tomorrow brings since no one seems quite sure where this one wants to go. Some resources were pulled off this fire this afternoon and sent over to 2 other fires that had started burning in the nearby area. There won't be much left in the county to burn by summer's end at this rate...which I guess is both a good thing and a bad thing.. depending on one's perspective.


Someone told me lots of interface in that area and 100-200 foot flame lengths. Ab.
6/27 To keep going with the hotshot (smokejumper, engine crew, helitack, etc) humor as we wait for deployment... this came in from a reader:

Two hotshots were stranded on a desert island. [someone else can finish the story]

6/26 The links for the DAILY sit report are on the links page under news, second entry. I like the archived
reports because they're faster loading and easier to move around in than the pdf files.

Dana, thanks for the note. Glad you're using your substantial talents and experience for Homeland
Security. Please come back here and visit us from time to time!

Phew, I'm glad the shots are recovering. Any discussion of what to do as lightning approaches. I
remember a Flame 'n Go was killed several years ago in Utah (I think Utah) and we had the discussion.

Be safe all!


USDA Forest Service Coronado National Forest
300 West Congress
Tucson, AZ 85701
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Dean McAlister (520) 403-2495 Gail Aschenbrenner (520) 670-4529


Injured by Lightning Fighting Mt. Graham’s Noon Fire TUCSON, AZ (June 25, 2004)

Coronado National Forest officials have released the names of the Forest Service firefighters injured by lightning while working on the Noon Fire on Mt. Graham yesterday.

Transported to the Mt. Graham Community Hospital in Safford yesterday were Scott Gorman and Jeff Every, both members of the Dalton Interagency Hotshot crew headquartered on the Angeles National Forest in southern California. Two additional firefighters from the same crew, Travis Anway and Brandon Burrill, also were transported later in the day and hospitalized overnight for observation. The most serious of the injuries appeared to be first-degree burns and numbness in the lower extremities. All the firefighters will remain at the hospital in Safford for a minimum of 48 hours under medical observation.

The lightning-caused Noon Fire started on the evening June 22 in rugged terrain in the Pinaleno Mountains (Mt. Graham), about 12 air miles southwest of Safford, Arizona. Five crews of hotshot firefighters were working on the fireline at the 7000’ elevation level when the fast-moving thunderstorm approached. The lightning strike thought to have been responsible for the firefighters’ injuries was probably the first or one of the first strikes. The injured firefighters were on or near a rocky slope at that time, and were likely victims of the electrical current traveling underground rather than a direct hit.

Two hotshot crews are working on the Noon Fire today, patrolling the fireline and conducting mop-up operations


A lot of activity down here in Walla Walla County, some good boomers got me up
around 5:30 this morning. The Blues were hit pretty good but high fuel moistures with
all the early summer rain.    All hurried up....now waiting......

Anybody know of any websites that update the fire situations seven days a week?


6/26 We had heard that there had been 2 HotSHots from the Dalton Crew in So Cali hit
by lightening in New Mexico, but I haven't heard anything else. Do you have any Info
or heard anything?


Four hotshots were taken to two hospitals, actually two walked away after the strike but were taken in a bit later for a checkup. Those 2 are fine. A third was held overnight for observation, and is due for release soon. The fourth has been steadily improving and at last report has a little numbness in one leg. Ab.
6/26 What a wild night last night for Eastern Washington, Okanogan County Region 6 area!

The Thunder Storm must have started 20+ fires all around me. I lost count after a while and DNR got stretched pretty thin along with BIA. Lots of sleepers to watch for today, high winds and more lightning forecasted. A couple burning in the Forested DNR Land I can see from my window still smoking this morning they did not get to last night. I was watching trees crowning in the dark. So I think our Fire Season has finely started up here in full force.


6/26 To anyone despairing about the ability to get a job in R5:

Hang in there! Many of the recently hired apprentices are opting out, for many reasons. Some took a
job opportunity with out really knowing what they were getting into, some did not realize the physical
rigors involved, others flunked the drug test, and others do not measure up for other reasons.

My guess is R5 will continue to hire to fill in these gaps as the season progresses.

Bad news for a consistent and well trained firefighting force, good news for those still seeking a job.

Sign me,

6/26 Multiple fires in several western states, not many are making news...YET!

best wishes to the youngsters who are waiting to be hired or trained.
best wishes to everyone in the achey knees group!
best wishes for fewer headaches to all the "bosses".

*L* anyone care to debate OTC (over the counter) meds - Advil vs Aleve or Motirin vs plain old 5 gr aspirin?

seriously, things are heating up & it may be another lengthy fire season.


CNN is reporting a dangerous fire in Alaska, 90 miles of highway closed, no working land-line telephones,
6/26 I have heard that there is a new pin to honor the fallen wildland fire fighters.
I have the purple ribbon but I have been told that there is another one out
this year.

If so could you send me the information?

I'm working at SWCC and everyone is interested.


There's a "Ring of Fire" pin from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. There may be another pin coming out that I don't know about. Someone from the Foundation, could you please clarify? What pin comes with 52 Club membership? Ab.

6/26 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the appointments of Dale Geldert as director
of the CA Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Ruben Grijalva as CA state fire

Anyone know anything about them?

SoCal FF
6/25 Attached is the news that the USFS will no longer be using California Youth Authority or any other youthfull offender crews nationwide to fight wildland fire. This also applies to volunteer fire departments and contractors. The notice was dated 06/23/2004.

www.fs.fed.us/fire/news_info/articles/final_letter_16_17_year_olds.pdf (pdf file)

6/25 the usfs big wig in r5 are liars and hypocrites.
oh do i seem mad oh hell yah im mad.
6 new never been on a fire in their life were just hired and at least 6 well seasoned ff were passed.
oh the seasoned vets dont meet the other qual -- hispanic.
yes i am crying over this.
i have bled and sweated forest service green for 4 years.
yah i think every white ff in r5 should file a class action suit: that seems the only way to get hired in this outfit.

ticked off ff so zone
6/25 Aberdeen, welcome back.... Please read my entire post before responding... sleep on it if you must......... I appreciate your discussions... they are informative and educational for all of us who are interested in firefighter safety, fitness, and health.....

I apologize in advance and promise that this is my last post on the WCT issues.... I'm getting bored with it also ... but no changes have been made to increase firefighter safety, just excuses...... I'd hate the Federal Agencies to be pushed into another knee jerk reaction by regulatory agencies as they have in the past by OSHA, the FAA, and others..... but it seems we are heading that way again by lack of action.

Lets say.... a JHA is required by National Direction for the "Pack Test" (attached) and it is over three years old.... and not signed by a line officer but is required by a WCT administrator to give the test... www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/wct/wct_index.phpl

Which line officer should sign it? The WO.... The Region.... The Forest.... or the District? What happens if a line officer doesn't agree? Does it move upwards or downwards for line officer signature? I know of some line officers who aren't willing to sign the A JHA unless some of the safety improvement ideas have been addressed as they were presented on this website. Maybe a 3 year old safety document needs a little tweaking to make it the "Best Wildland Firefighter Fitness Test Ever".

Since this is National Direction.... The JHA should be signed by the WO and not submitted without signature to the field as it has been for the last three years.

Just my thoughts on the subject.... I estimate that over 90% of the responders agreed that the WCT was the best test (AND I AGREE). Many also said that some changes needed to be made to make the test safer during the pre-screening (I ALSO AGREE) but NO OFFICIAL REVIEW HAS BEEN MADE!....

Rogue Rivers

P.S. - What "if" the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine don't agree with their form being used in a test that has killed and injured so many firefighters due to the lack of proper pre-screening.... Pre-disposing factors not adequately defined by internal and external agency documents of previous exposures of known heart risks............. ie- a report also from Dr. Sharkey et all...... www.wildfirelessons.net/Library/Safety_Health/MTDC_Smoke_1997.pdf. (pdf file)

IT'S PRETTY AMAZING THAT THE WCT AND SMOKE REPORTS SEEM TO CONTRADICT EACH OTHER ON MANY OCCASIONS when it comes to firefighter health.....even though they are each written by the same DR. SHARKEY.
6/25 I came in here not knowing what to expect, a complete surprise. My husband has been a firefighter in Illinois for a long time, he has seen a lot but no where near what your firefighters have seen. I am bookmarking this site for him and if you get this soon could you send me the smoked turkey recipes? Firefighters have to know the best way!! Our best to your best.

Thank You,


Try here: www.wildlandfire.com/recipes/recipes.php Yummmmm. Ab.

6/24 FireBill: (How many shot crews to change a light bulb)

After the engine crew immediately turned on the
lightswitch, they soon realized the switch was in the
off position due to a short in the electrical system;
and thus creating an inferno that engulfed the entire

The forest AFMO had realized the short and had turned
the switch off, but had failed to notify the FMO
before going on the fire assignment. Thus, when the
FMO ordered the IMT for the wildfire, he (or she)
failed to brief the IMT amount the seriousness of the

The report from the investigating committee would
place all of the blame on the AFMO, while he/she was
away on another assignment.

6/24 I updated the Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455.

Mad River Ranger District in the Six Rivers National Forest needs Detailers:
1 GS-8 Engine Captain;
1 GS-7 Engine Operator, and
2 GS-6 Handcrew Squad Bosses.


6/24 You have a very awesome website. I was simply looking for fire photos on Google and there you were. Very nice.

Teri in Alaska

Welcome, come again. Ab.
6/24 Nomad, me thinks you addressed the topic better than most!
AB's comment about the HotShot experience is very true. (do they still keep a "couth book"?)
Native, you made a good point & one everyone seems to overlook.
Additionally, some have forgotten that Native Peoples (and later cattle ranchers) to better "husband" Mother Nature intentionally introduced fire before the rains or snow.
Obviously there is a huge mix of locations, experiences, knowledge, etc on this forum. Sometimes it's very apparent a poster has never experienced fire in a western state's high country, and often no FF experience without a hose lay; that makes for misunderstandings and adds to speculation.
So, where is the Western WFF line drawn? the Great Muddy? the Great Divide? elevation, precipitation, or vegetation? can anyone explain where the "mid west" begins & ends? a line that separates the north from the south on a map?
My take is it's time for regular posters to reconsider their general geographical location & experience before addressing a true wildland topic. dunno, maybe I'm off base... I do know many retired/moved-on exShots rarely bother to post here!

Oliver Moore, *L* shall we expect a tale about a hungry & severely displaced bear lumbering into a coyote camp as it followed the scent of those forgotten candy wrappers in your backpack/pillow after your crew & you passed out? hint: don't overlook the minute fact that you'd hiked 3+K elevation before cutting line for 24 hours! (the 90s, northzone)

Best wishes for a well paid and SAFE SEASON ALL!

You think those missing shots fell off the earth east of the Great Divide or sumpin'? Ab.
6/24 My name is Penny Paquette. I am currently working on Apprenticeship: The Ultimate Teen Guide to be published by Scarecrow Press in 2005. The book presents an overview of jobs that can be trained for through apprenticeships, and I am currently working on the section on firefighters, specifically wildland firefighters. I am looking for a photograph of a fire crew to accompany this section and notice you have many on your site. Would any of these photos be available for reproduction in the book?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Penny Paquette
Apprenticeship: The Ultimate Teen Guide

Readers and photo contributors:
This request is a bit unusual in that a book is a commercial venture and we usually give permission for non-profit use of photos. Providing a good crew photo would benefit the wildland firefighting profession and bring attention to the Apprenticeship Program. Does anyone have a fine crew photo with men and women, and diverse races to offer Penny? Please let us know. I can put you in touch with her. Also I will also see which of the photos we have posted that might interest her and try to get permission from the photographer.

To those who have sent in engine and air tanker and fire photos recently, I am a bit behind on getting those up. I hope you'll bear with me. Ab.

6/24 Rouge Rivers,

The problem is that gender and race have to do with it! I don’t know if your familiar with R-5, particularly South Zones new hiring but that’s exactly how most were hired, based on race! The few firefighters that know that they will be passed up soon by other firefighters that meet the minimum reqs. have all said they will file a grievance but know it probably wont help. This is happening now, not planned for future employment but now! So the pitfalls exist.

"Firefighters are firefighters.... it's as simple as that....... Each is judged on merit, qualifications, experience and conformance with federal law or they shouldn't be judged at all". Sorry but its not happening in the forests here.

6/24 How many hotshots does it take to change a lightbulb?

It doesn't really matter; because while the 'shots were gathered around the crew busses debating if they should take a weather with a belt weather kit or Kestrel, complaining that their crew name was misspelled on the IAP, and drafting a SafeCom because there were no peanuts on the NIFC charter jet enroute to the incident, an engine crew drove past them and determined that the lightbulb was not actually burned out, but the switch was merely in the off position.

*wink* *grin*

6/24 How does one sign on to Contract a Water Tender for fighting fires in the BC Canada area?
I looked into the Links on the They Said site but found nothing that really pertains to it. Sure
would like to get some work up there if they are hiring but do not know who to contact.

Thanks, MH

6/24 From Kelly:

Indians and Fire

RE: the Washington Post article on Indian firefighters:

6/24 What a great surprise!!

Out of the Email/TheySaid loop for only 3 days, and I come back to see that all the
WCT issues have vanished off the TheySaid forum.

6/23 Christian:

As I understand it, within the USFS, C Faller cert process varies from Region to Region.

It originally began on the Wallowa-Whitman NF in about 1978, (because of a fatality the year before
on the Siskiyou NF), and two certifiers were required. One, a senior FS faller that had been certified
as a certifier, and second; a pro cutter. Some Air Center Manager by the name of Lee Walton was
smart enough to get it all started.

It went regional after another fatality and then from Region to Region generally with additional fatalities
sponsoring action.

Some Regions have not required, but may be in the process of standardizing the pro cutter certifier

I realize that there are not that many quality cutters around these days and that rounding up approved
ones is a bit costly and difficult. I would suggest that it is a very good idea to have professional "peer"
review by specialists. This might eliminate having second/third year firefighters C Faller rated, which
strikes me as foolish unless they had a significant logging background.

This is perhaps another area where we need to maintain our respect for specialized skills and not quickly
advance people in a dangerous environment.

Christian; if you cut the big sticks in AK, relax. It's a hassle for you but we need more consistency
throughout all agencies, not less.

Thanks from

Fuels Guy
6/23 First the serious bits, then the fun stuff;

First of all, Retired LAVE, good buddy, you rolled over too fast. KC, using violent language to threaten or intimidate is inappropriate in the workplace. Well, inappropriate period. However, I think that many of the violent metaphors we use for firefighting “Bludgeoning it to death” “killing the dragon” “hunting it down and killing it”, are an important way we make our sometimes futile jobs exciting. It’s a stress reliever and gawd knows we need those. And the decapitation reference was cheap. I recognize that many people are traumatized by recent events in the outside world, but that was a stretch, and I think you are in far more danger of making bad associations in peoples minds than LAVE was. Maybe that association came to your mind, that’s no reason to inflict it on everybody else.

VFD Captain; I’m not crazy…all the foam rubber and this nifty jacket with the non-functional sleeves are just to keep me from, like, tackling people with cigarette lighters and trying to cut line through candlelit dinners. They only let me out when the page tone goes off, but that doesn’t make me crazy. Oh no it doesn’t. All perfectly reasonable explanations, whatever the nice young man who took my rhino away is telling you…

Nerd on the Fireline
6/23 So far over the last few days I’ve been told:
1. I have narrow views and flawed conclusions.
2. I believe I’m exempt from common decency
3. I’m scary
4. I’m a collector of a Federal pay check (ouch!)

I even had federal law quoted to me. (Including the fancy punctuation) I realize I have a
knack for annoying people. But taking it national is a whole new level for me.
I want to apologize for tuning you guys up. With everything we have to deal with today no
one needs extra stuff to raise their blood pressure.

Take care,

6/23 Looking for the t-shirt guy for east complex t-shirts.

Mary & Jason
6/23 With the talk of wildfire being a white guy's domain, I would like to point out that Native Americans have been involved in wildfire before the immigrants came. My Grandpa, my dad and me have been involved in BLM hand crews, and it is a family tradition. It would be interesting to see a study of why there are not more Indians in overhead positions.

Here is a article from the Washington Post that point this out
For those that don't want to register to read it here is an attachment. (We can't post the article without violating copyright; you'll have to register to read the whole thing. Ab.)

Here are some outtakes from the article:

The federal government and western states have, in turn, become extraordinarily dependent on Indians as shock troops to contain forest fires. While Indians make up only about 1 percent of the country's population, they account for about half the firefighters on the front lines of wildfires in the United States, said Dale Glenmore, assistant fire manager in Billings, Mont., for the Rocky Mountain region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

"It is the high unemployment," Glenmore said. "This is a population you can tap into fairly easily." These (the reservations) are among the poorest places in the United States, with four in 10 residents living below the poverty line and unemployment rarely falling below 40 percent.

Over the past century, firefighting has become a cultural and economic fixture of Indian life, like hunting and fishing. It is not uncommon on many reservations for young mothers and fathers, when the fire call comes, to leave their children with grandparents for the season. Grandparents tend to understand, because they were also firefighters or fire camp attendants.

Native GS-11

6/23 Mark Warnick Feature

Mark Warnick is an amazing figure of the firefighting community and his story is one of sincere compassion for the representatives of his former career. His countless and tireless efforts have helped to raise over $28.3 million of used equipment for over 610 volunteer fire departments nationwide. Mark S. Warnick, retired assistant fire chief with the Brixey and Rockbridge Missouri Volunteer Fire Department, is a man worth knowing. After putting in 12 years of service to his Missouri home fire department, Warnick relocated to Jackson, Michigan where he selflessly sold a majority of his possessions and took out personal loans to satisfy his lifelong goal of helping the less fortunate fire stations. His determination to make a difference in othe people's lives resulted in the creation of his non-profit organization Helping Our Own, which is headquartered in Jackson, Michigan. On June 10 2004, Warnick was honored with the STIHL National Forestry Heroism Award presented by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman. Warnick was presented with a plaque, monetary gift and contribution to his organization.

The STIHL National Forestry Heroism Award was created eight year ago in response to the Storm King Mountain Fire in Colorado, which took the lives of 14 firefighters in 1994. This year's award reception marked the 10th anniversary of this tragedy. The award seeks to honor an individual who works with, in or devotes extraordinary amounts of time to the forestry industry. Nominations are open to firefighters, loggers, forest and park rangers, or other individuals employed in the care and maintenance of our nation's forests.

If you plan to use this story idea please let us know! Further press releases and photos are available upon request.


Jaclyn Bailey
Public Relations Assistant
The Meridian Group
6/23 DOC In the line of duty- Smoke jumpers is an HBO (Home Box Office) film, so they would have it in their home video library.

6/23 Rouge Rivers, I just called it as I saw it. The people in charge at the time were white males, as I am a white male. Most of my superior officers in the fire service have been white males. So I guess it is the fault of affirmative action that I have not experienced poor leadership from other races and the other gender (see the sword cuts both ways as I see it). That said I have had some really good motivating, caring, leaders in the fire service of the white male variety. I sorry if I offended you but to me the truth is the truth and sometimes the truth is painful!

To KC, yes, I can see that the threat of violence in the work place is wrong and shame on ME (I have never bludgeoned anyone) I will watch my words in the future. On the other hand isn't that what firefighting is all about, putting out fires, or as Smokey Bear use to say "put your camp fire out, dead out." Or maybe Smokey Bear is now politically incorrect now, too.

Retired L.A.V.E.

This Ab thinks all wildland firefighters need to spend one season on a hotshot crew to become "desensitized".

6/23 Mop-Up...Article 49...Don't feed the Bears

A recent news article in Oregon warned fire fighters to change their bathroom habits while assigned to fires in the West. Change bathroom habits? Is there a twelve step program for this? Hi...my name is Oliver and I potty...?
The article had quotes from a fur, fin and feather employee. It seems this employee is under the impression that fire fighters urinate in streams. Frankly the older I get I wouldn't call it a stream...more like pulse...dribble and squirt but certainly not a stream.
Oh...a creek type of stream...now I understand. No ...I don't understand. On the hundreds of fires I have been assigned to I've never witness an in stream urination. Then again I don't make it a habit to watch other fire fighters urinate.
The article went on to warn fire fighters against feeding bears. Is this a problem? Three miles from the nearest road system ... a bear walks out of the brush and you reach for a white bread and pressed turkey sandwich and say here boy...nice bear...come here... you are a good little bear...yes you are... Not me...I usually scream... trip the person next to me and conduct an impromptu pack test to the road and safety.
Maybe the problem is with the food. Do the warnings on the fire lunches...Caution may be harmful if ingested... apply to other mammals as well?
Fire fighters from the East Coast were blamed for much of the problems identified by this fur and feather huckster. He said the firefighters from the East didn't have as much experience with bears. Does he believe all wild land firefighters from the East Coast are from Jersey?
A wildlife graduate and he hadn't heard of bear problems east of the Big Muddy? I think the problem is with how this F&W person was raised. It's obvious he didn't get enough attention as a child and is now seeking out ways to get the attention he missed as a youngster.
Think about it...fire fighters are front page news items during fire season. The only time a Fish and Fur person makes the front page is when a Moose or Elk is in farmer Franks pasture trying to breed with his prize Holstein. Even then they usually say something stupid when asked why is the Moose acting this way? The answer is always...the Moose is in rut...DUH!
I've met many good fin and fur types and have worked along side of them fighting fires, trapping elk and Electro-shocking streams for fish surveys. I'm positive this fresh college graduate will receive comments from his peers about the article.
For the sake of maintaining the proper balance in our forests I suggest every fire fighter take the following pledge...I will not pee in Rivers...Creeks or Streams...And I will not feed the bears. However...if I see a bear while crossing a River, Creek or Stream I cannot guarantee that I will not pee.

Oliver Moore...Hey Yogi is this lunch safe to eat?...Be safe
Copyright Held by Oliver Moore Inc.
6/23 re: CISM on lightbulb incidents

I just wanted to pass along some helpful suggestions for Critical Incandescent Stress Management:

* Emergency responders often feel alone at times of filament failure. Reach out for other people.
*Keep a journal. Write your way through the hours of darkness.
*In addition to physical, cognitive and emotional reactions, some firefighters have reported changes in sexual behavior during and immediately following type 3 (or "transition") bulb events.
*People frequently suffer flashbacks after this type of incident. As one division sup told me, "I close my eyes, and it's just like the lights went out again."
*Don't make any big light changes, until things have settled.

And, to folks like Nerd: Don't label yourself crazy. We will take care of that.

vfd cap'n
6/23 In the various threads......

FFeric, passing over more qualified or experienced firefighters should only occur if the selection is a violation of Federal Laws, Rules, or Regulations. In that case, the selecting official may make selections that do not appoint the most qualified or most experienced employees. If you have evidence of that occurring, then you need to speak out.

Retired L.A.V.E, I agree with alot of your post except... one of your quotes brings questions....

Retired L.A.V.E. - your statement of "Now that said, I have some sour notes to add. Some of the worst firefighters I have worked with are white males. Talk about lazy, worthless, and piss poor leadership to boot. Man things like that do bring me down. That's why I am retired."

Gender, race, and national origin have have nothing to do with firefighting......... firefighters are firefighters........ If you use gender bias to make decisions or comparisons.... how can everyone else avoid those pitfalls?????? Firefighters are firefighters.... it's as simple as that....... Each is judged on merit, qualifications, experience and conformance with federal law or they shouldn't be judged at all.

Rogue Rivers
6/23 Wildfire, America's Heroes, and the Real Mountain Men (& Women)

I think there's a few different things & a few important insights that are going on here. For one, I think it's important for people to realize that humor in the form of sarcasm or irony really doesn't go over too well here on TheySaid- very hard for people not to misinterpret such words, a lesson I've learned from many a misread post.

At heart, I think, Startree has a good point, or at least I'm interpreting his words in such a way. But before I get too deep into that, I'd like to point out that there are two very different traditions at work here.

Wildland fire fighting is not & never will be the same as city fire fighting. The feds, particularly the USFS, has a culture & tradition that rose mostly from a history of logging & loggers. These are the mountain men, the descendants of the ol' cowboys- if not in flesh, then in mind & heart. If you talk to people who fight wildfire and ask them why they do it- besides the money, they talk about adventure, about waking up in different places everyday, about traveling, about brotherhood, about never ever having a desk job. And that is what makes wildland fire fighting special & something that I truly enjoy doing.

Fighting wildfire for the Feds requires that you kinda live a rough & tumble lifestyle, that you don't mind being something of a nomad. And if you look for the pithe, the core of what it means to fight fire for the feds, you find the hotshot crew. I'm not trying to make a statement here or put any of the other wonderful fire fighters here down, but culturally speaking, being on a hotshot crew is the pinnacle of what fire fighting is about- the traveling, the action, the PTs, the go-go-go lifestyle.

And that's the paradigm that we live by. And for those of you who've spent time on a hotshot crew, you know that the folk tend to be a hard-drinkin, hard-workin, foul-mouthed, rough around the edges bunch. These are not the people you neccesarily want standing in front of a TV camera or within earshot of a family establishment.

Now contrast this with the tradition of city fire fighting, the view that the public has of what a "fireman" is supposed to be. This is the place where the Irish & the Italians wound up, this is a lifestyle modeled around stability. They didn't read Lonesome Dove one day & decide they wanted to crash around America eating MRE's. They chose their jobs for different reasons- often times more noble sounding ones like "I want to help people." And hey, they have powerful unions, great pay, great benefits, etc. They're clean cut, model citizens even. They are what people think of when they talk about FDNY & "America's Heroes." These people have been subjected to background checks & relentless polishing by the high standards of their organizations.

And the reality is that a lot of wildland fire fighters fit in what i'm calling the "city fire fighting tradition" even though they have nothing to do with urban fire depts. (This is esp true in SoCal & CDF). My point here is not to say that one is better than the other, but to point out simply that they are two very different traditions & cultures at work here, and not to get them too confused.

But both of these traditions are rooted in the greater American culture, which is to say "white culture." Hell, I'm a hispanic & a hotshot, but I'm about as Americanized as they come, and I'll tell you that my ethnic "brothers & sisters" are a lot more inclined towards the culture & traditions of city fire fighting. Why? City fire fighting is about people having families & stability & living the dream of American consumerism. Wildfire is a lot more about "rugged individualism," and that's very much based in white America, and furthermore, that cultural tradition antagonizes just about every minority group out there, esp. hispanics.

And that's where I think Startree is on to something, even if i didn't like the way he said it or some of the other comments he made. The real reason we don't have more minorities in the federal wildfire program is not because of discrimination, but because of deep, yet simple culture differences.

So folks, for whatever reason you ended up here, have some fun out there & try not to spend too much money on booze before that first fire check comes rollin' in.

The Nomad

Well said! Ab.
6/23 Dear Ab

A couple of recent posts have really caught my eye. First Startrees. I think he/she has a valid point, but possibly failed to advance it in the best way possible. Now, everyone knows that wildland firefighting is a profession that is predominately white and male. As to why it's predominately male, I've heard several people, men and women both, say it's because women are too smart to keep coming back year after year. Or it's possible that this is just one of those professions that doesn't attract alot of interest as a career path for women. And I will stipulate that 20-30 years ago there was an institutional bias against females. However, that has changed considerably, and definitely for the better. Ok, so why are wildland firefighters mostly white? I'd say the two biggest reasons are geography and demographics. Most wildland fires on federal land are in the we stern U.S. So, people who see and are attracted to wildland jobs are predominately from the west. Makes sense right? How many lobster fisherman in Maine are from Iowa? I'm sure there's a few, but not many. Demographically, the west, excluding states bordering Mexico and certain urban areas are pretty much white. That especially holds true in rural areas. So, when people start looking for work, many look for work in their own back yard, and what do you know, the Feds have alot of jobs, especially for younger people paying their way through college. Believe it or not, there is no great conspiracy by white males to keep everyone else out of fire. Are there racist, sexist white males in the wildland fire community? Absolutely. Do they dominate it. Certainly not. Excluding a few jerks, every firefighter I know values a persons work ethic much more than the color of their skin or the way the're plumbed.

Now for Curious GS-4. I had a hand crew on the Moose fire and I can pretty much tell you why it kicked not only the North Carolina teams, but all of our butts. Fuels, weather and topography. Anytime a fire runs from 5,000 to 15,000 acres in a day, there's nothing anyone can do about it, whether the're from North Carolina, Montana, or Mars. And don't forget that when the Moose made it's REALLY big run Humphrey's team from the Southwest was running things. Which is not to say that Humphreys team did anything wrong either. Sometimes stuff just happens.

FireChica....How many hotshots to change a lightbulb?
It would take the whole crew. The sup and foreman scout the situation, the squad bosses don't do any work because they're watching out for the safety of their squad, the saw squad won't do any work that doesn't require a chainsaw, you have one person slinging the weather every 15 minutes, 2 lookouts, 3 people acting as squad boss trainees and the remaining 4 people are left to actually change the bulb. Now before I catch a raft of grief from 500 angry shots, let me just say that I'm talking about 1 particular shot crew that I've worked around and don't want to disparage all hotshot crews.


Retired L.A.V.E..... your statement, quote,

"The ones I want to hunt down and bludgeon with a dull pulaski are the ones who take credit for your work while don't little or none themselves." and then your statement of "They aren't afraid of the dark, actually they prefer the dark it makes it easier to sneak up on the fire and kill it!"

These statements are pretty troubling to me when it comes to workplace violence and prevention. Past federal employees have been fired for similar statements and others outside of the federal government have been prosecuted for such comments...... I know you didn't mean a threat by this, but realize that sometimes it could come across that way to people on the outside of your thoughts or organizational norms or by others who are just listening and contributing.......

singed... KC ... a full supporter of First Amendment Rights....BUT you still have to be careful that you don't offend or intimidate anyone in the workforce..... especially with bludgeoning.... Bludgeoning is kin to decapitation........


6/23 doc brown

the only problem I have found with the racal radios vs the kings is the volume issue.
The king is much louder and easier to hear around pumps, chain saws, ect. The racal
mike doesnt help much either.

6/23 From Northzone5
U.S. May Return Some Air Tankers to Fire Lines

The U.S. Forest Service's national fire plan coordinator told Western governors that the agency was prepared to consider returning a limited number of heavy air tankers to fire lines following a move to ground the aircraft over safety concerns. Corbin Newman, addressing the Western Governors Assn. in Santa Fe, N.M., said the Forest Service had agreed to a plan with federal transportation officials to review proposals from new contractors to fly the tankers. Officials will scrutinize maintenance information, previous inspections and other documents about the aircraft's flying life before considering its return to service, Newman said. (Los Angeles Times, 6/21/04)


6/22 Nerd and everybody,
Ha, ha, HA!
6/22 COMT

Thanks for the post. I've been trying to put the final touches to an interoperability plan for communications on my Unit. With Fire Departments going 800 MHRTZ and wild land agencies moving to narrow band it's like taking two jigsaw puzzles and trying to come up with one puzzle that captures the Mountain, Ocean, flower...etc scene from each.

I now recognize that my complaining about waiting for the tubes to warm up in the radio of my first engine before going in service was a waste of time.

6/22 OK, I feel the need to stand up for Startree here. I think he/she is being misinterpreted. I think the point Startree was trying to make is that there are different activity priorities in different ethnic and social groups. For example, my family is Italian, so we yell at each other, cause that’s what we Italians like to do. (before anyone gets upset, that’s a joke.) I think Startree was trying to make the point that in many African American communities, basketball is a major activity, just like hockey is in Canada, and soccer is in Brazil, etc. That doesn’t mean that other people don’t enjoy it or aren’t good at it too. Doesn’t mean that those demographics won’t change. I think Startree is just trying to say that right now there are more white guys than women and ethnic applying for wild firefighting jobs. It’s like hockey in Canada. There will always be lots of Candaians that are gung-ho about hockey and that’s not going to change no matter how many Chech’s get involved with the game. Doesn’t mean they should have preference. It is just a statement that the interest is there for that particular group of people. I don’t think Startree is trying to suggest that white guys are inherently MADE to fight wildfire.

6/22 I use Racal radios they seem to out perform kings and are water proof as well as having gps
capabilities I think king is good but will failure around those pesky down pours with thunder
storms unless you carry a plastic bag you can find them at


doc brown

Regarding: The Lightbulb Incident

Type: Medical treatment injury and property damage

At 06:00 a failure of incandescent module 75W was noted in the livingroom sector. At 06:30 the failure was confirmed, and at 07:00 the Sofa King hotshots were dispatched to the incident. The crew arrived at the site of the incident at 07:01, and were placed under the command of Mom’s Type I IMT. Following a routine safety briefing including a discussion of hazards specific to the livingroom environment, Squad A, with the assistant crewboss and one squadboss, lined out and began to cut line around the affected area (fuels were characterized as carpet, spider plant, and the couch). At 08:45, Squad B located a stepladder and successfully removed the failed element. Squad B was then re-assigned to rehab the black; specifically, to install a new incandescent module 75W. During installation, the firefighter in physical contact with the incandescent module 75W received lacerations to the right hand when the incandescent module shattered in his/her hand. This incident resulted in trauma to the firefighter’s critical “beerhoisting” hand, critical incident stress to the crew, property damage to the incandescent module 75W requiring complete replacement, and expenses to the incident including medevac by helicopter, biohazard cleanup of blood, and pending insurance claims.

The shattering of the incandescent unit 75W was most likely due to over-torque of the module as a result of excessive PT on the part of the injured firefighter.

In the future, all installation of incandescent modules shall be conducted using a torque wrench to prevent over-torque.

Who the hell let hotshots change a lightbulb in the first place?

Nerd on the Fireline

<haw haw>
6/22 A friend from Spokane notified me about an interesting article in the
Spokane Spokesman-Review:

A fire's line of legacies: Residents work to preserve mine shaft where
1910 crew survived still-influential blaze

It's pretty cool of the locals to take an active interest in that site. I'm
putting it on my list of places to visit. And anyone that's in the Wallace
area next weekend really ought to make it a point to go see Stephen Pyne
talk - that would be well worth your time.

And if you aren't in that area, be sure to read "The Year of the Fires" by
Stephen Pyne (order it from Amazon by clickin' thru from the Fire Books page
on this site, and earn angel points from the Abs). That book should be
required reading for anyone that puts on boots and nomex to head off to the
hinterlands - I give it five chainsaws. There's a gripping account of
Ranger Pulaski, as well as a lot of eye-opening stuff about the history
behind why we do what we do.

6/22 Race, gender, and hotshots screwing lightbulbs:

About the posts about men, women, and various skin tones in the game of fire. I have been on a couple of fire departments, and more than a few sports teams. The one thing I have done is to judge the individual on their merits. If they pass muster on willingness, drive, and the odd quality to do hard work for long hours with little reorganization then they are my "brother or sister". I don't care about color or gender or who they sleep with, if they do their job well and learn, admit mistakes and then learn from them, I want them on my team. What I don't want are lazy, whiners, who are always looking to do the least work for the most publicity. The ones I want to hunt down and bludgeon with a dull pulaski are the ones who take credit for your work while don't little or none themselves.

I once told my strike team leader that it would be easy to make him look bad, but that wasn't my job. My job was to do the very best I could and to encourage all of the other strike team members to do the same. His (the strike team leader's) job was to go get an assignment so we could go to work. If he would do his job I would do mine. What I got in return was and ear-to-ear grin. We were told by our division chief that he would ask for us by name the next time he had a fire in his district. Now that's a reward in my book.

Now that said, I have some sour notes to add. Some of the worst firefighters I have worked with are white males. Talk about lazy, worthless, and piss poor leadership to boot. Man things like that do bring me down. That's why I am retired.

Fire Chica -
You know hotshot crews don't change light bulbs. They aren't afraid of the dark, actually they prefer the dark it makes it easier to sneak up on the fire and kill it!

Retired L.A.V.E.
6/22 Wideband into narrowband/digital headaches.

When people ask me what kind of radio to buy, I
recommend getting a Bendix/King GPH. The reason is
that these radios are wideband/narrowband analog and
can be upgraded in the future to digital radio (I am
strongly against digital for fire use). They also can
be programmed with the new interstitial frequencies
(these are spaced so close together they actually
overlap adjacent frequencies). It is also the radio
most familiar to communications personnel.

The states of Washington and California have installed
these interstitial frequencies in places and have
found that thier EPH radios will not accept them. This
is why King came out with the GPH. Oregon state is
scheduled to implement similar frequencies soon.

In reading SAFENETs, there are quite a few on problems
with wideband into digital radios set to receive
narrowband analog. This is worth reading safenet.nifc.gov .

I hate to say it, but those bargain King radio you can
pick up on EBAY are going to be almost useless on
Federal (and certain state) fires, even the Flexmode
(narrowbandable) EPHs.

6/22 FireChica

The answer to the question... How many Hotshots does it take to change a light bulb?

None...only engine crews are red carded for this type of domestic work.

6/22 Hey,

Once we know how many 'shots will be needed for deployment on the "Incadescent"
then we will need to asign some type 2 crews to go behind and rehab........................

Yall be safe as this thing kicks off and just let us know when you want a type 2 from
florida.... soon i hope, i hope, i hope........

6/22 Re: Non Fed IC’s

I certainly can’t speak to R5, but in other regions type 5, 4 and 3 IC’s that are not Fed are relatively
common. On our local Nat’l Park, we have long had a standing delegation of authority, as they have
no IC personnel. Closest forces agreements usually allow outside agencies to assume IC and many
areas have type 3 teams that are headed by state or other personnel.

6/22 I know this is going back in time, but I am dying to know. Anyone have
an opinion as to why the Moose Fire that took out Glacier NP in August
2001 got away so badly just after the North Carolina team took over? As
a state team east of the Mississippi, this was supposed to be a big
debut for them on a challenging fire. What went wrong?

Curious GS-4
6/22 Ab,

Firechica asks: "How many hotshots does it take to change a lightbulb?"

My answer: "Six. Unless they have the assistant crew boss do it instead of
assigning a squad."

6/22 How many Hotshots does it take to change a lightbulb?


None. It should already be changed by the time we get
home from the fire.

6/22 OHmiGOODNESS Nerd, your cathedrals and cedar note made me realize the (very small) problem with the original smoke post, the only small thingie that was missing. SAGEBRUSH. All you have to do is go without sagebrush (burning or just waving greenish on the breeze) for a few years, and then go get a good load of it up your nose, and you suddenly and violently realize what you were missing. Sweetgrass braids from the tribal ladies aside (I hope to god I never smell THAT on a fire), sage has got to be as good as pissfir is bad, burning-wise.

Oh, speaking of pissfir, I sent the original smoke post to an old friend who often misses TheySaid because he's not squirtin' water and flingin' dirt anymore, and he said:

Of course there's also gagging, crying, knee-crawling smoke -- but too much of a good thing always causes this.

6/22 Where Can I find the movie call "In line of Duty" - Smoke Jumpers


6/22 Firescribe, thanks for the link to the smokejumper story. Man, I would have given anything to be there amongst all that fire history. Anybody happen to be there and take a few photos of the tri-motor they are willing to share??

...and no comment (well, ok, just one) on the recent hub-bub, ya'll are giving a fair and well deserved ration the those who deserve it. As one who probably missed a fair chance at a fed appointment due to the consent decree (and reganonics). I have always felt (as a few of you have said) the most worthy fire firefighters out there are the ones who WANT to be there and do this job, regardless of their sex, race, religious beliefs or the color of their underware.


Re the smokejumpers. We got a request to add their site to our links page. We did have their link up several years ago and musta lost it in the shuffle of changing servers and revising the page... Take a look at the Links page under Jobs and you will find them. Also added a link to Mike McMillan's Spotfire Images under Miscellaneous-- a fine fire photojournal site. Please read "About the Photos" section before using photos for non-commercial or training purposes.
6/22 Wow, I must have missed something, all I got from startree's post was that for some reason firefighting is a job that primarily seems to appeal to white males, not that the best firefighters are white males. I would tend to agree that is true, when I taking fire classes, testing etc the largest group of people involved were white males, I'd guess 75%. Why this is? I don't know prior hiring and the culture could be part of it (rather closed minded towards non whites and women), family tradition (great grandad, grandad, dad did it) the Irish and Italians were a large portion of the early fire service, oddly enough due to racism against them, FF was a crummy job and people didn't want to hire the Irish and Italian immigrants for the good jobs. Who knows? Might make a good project for a government grant :) . Hey if there is something to it, then perhaps it could help recruit people that want the job but for what ever reason don't apply.

It seems to me the female angle got tossed in by an Ab and people ran with it (I saw nothing in startree's first post about women in fire).It seems many took the mention of the quantity and took it to mean quality.

Just to make it perfectly clear I am making no comment about the ability of any group of firefighter, I've worked with good and bad firefighters of many national origins and gender.

Startree interesting article, obviously a touchy subject but interesting idea anyway. Now then if I took this the wrong way and you were claiming non-white males are better, then what they said...

6/22 Ab..

I have been out of action due to injury and age for
quite some time. I am apparently DONE firefighting
forever.. and have accepted that bit of hard to swallow
news. And I have moved on to other "serve my country"
projects for which I am still suited. Getting old is
hell...but then again being young was no picnic

Anyway.. I have not checked They Said it for quite a
few months and have just noticed that Mellie is
recovering.. and being subjected to PT. If it is
possible please send her my best wishes for a complete
recovery. She is a sweet and wise part of this
site.. and will always hold a special place in my

6/22 I'm ashamed of the Forest Service's new hiring and promotion policies! So they think that passing up more qualified personnel and promoting or hiring the minimum required is the best for my agency? I don't thinks so! And it's all based upon race or sex. What ever happened to hiring the best man or women for the job? As a statistic less minorities apply to the USFS so that would mean less of them in the work force, well not in the head honchos eyes. Don't confuse me for being a racist or anything but I'm just so disappointed in the way my agency works. Can't wait for the "white male" resolution or more specifically the "Italian male" resolution so I can promote! And they wonder why they have a problem retaining firefighters by loosing them to other agencies. I'm I missing something? Did I not get the memo explaining this???

I understand I haven't read all posts before with your guys' opinion but this is mine. I've noticed a less "fit for the job" type group being hired on my forest over folks that I believed were better suited, prepared and qualified for the position to meet some so called quota. As I stated before we need to hire the best PERSON for the Job and not give it to someone who meets the minimums and is a minority. I work with several minorities who are GREAT firefighters, but they almost don't want to promote because they don’t want to pass other firefighters who might be a better pick for the job. So now will we all think that "Oh they were only given that position because of their skin color and not how well they do their job"?

6/21 Old Guy ,

D'oh! I (obviously) didn't scroll back to MJ's post. I guess there's one
problem with unthreaded message boards - people like me with short
attention spans.

Still, the R5 memo referred to IMTs, and I've been thinking about that and
wondering how Steve Gage (and the others) would have figured into that mix.

6/21 EH,

Man, I hate to stoop. Personally, I don't remember ever having had
prejudices toward any group of people. I do firmly believe however that being an
ass**** will transcend all race, color, religion, and gender. If you have a
problem with a person, you should be blaming the "person all the way through",
not just what you think you can see on the outside.

Going into some very bad situations, I've deliberately opted for the
assistance of females on certain occasions. I don't recall having ever made a bad
call in that aspect. But then, I've got a bad habit of thinking outside of the

Did you ever see Monty Python's cast singing the lyrics... "men, men, men,
men... men, men, men, men"? Oh yeah! The Lumberjack Song! You must be the
one on the right!

Please get your Crayolas out and write again soon.

Stay safe! (even you EH)

6/21 Re 'ICs are feds' comment:

BLM Bob, I was referring to Type 3, 4 or 5 ICs on IA that MJ was referring to.
Steve was one of those great Type I -ICs (CIIMT3 in 2001). I should have been
more exact.

Old Guy with the FS
6/21 An observation:
Must be a really slow fire season since white guys who apparently own the
world of firefighting because they are "wired" for it can take time out from
their busy day making the world safe from wildfire and misinterpreting human
biology and sociology in order to post here. Morons like EH are not really
the problem because they wear their ignorance like a red badge of courage
and can be seen from afar and dealt with appropriately. Startree on the
other hand is a little scary. I would not want to him (?) to be on a hiring
panel and see my application if he (?) is disposed to think that white guys
are inherently better suited for firefighting work because it is part of
their culture. I guess that I spent the last 30 fire seasons being
culturally displaced. Suggest Startree peruse some of Stephen Pyne's many
books on fire throughout the world. Non-whites have been playing with and
managing fires for a long time. Maybe that is the problem - white guy
culture has run around largely putting fire out while many non-white
cultures have tended to live peacefully with fire.

Wearing Out But Not Down - you go girl! I know who you are.

6/21 KJC;

I think that in your gastronomic enthusiasm, you’ve lost sight of the religious aspects of smoke. Though not myself of the most reverent bent, I find that a sudden intrusion of cedar onto the olfactories provokes nothing less than a yearning toward cathedrals. Best of all is following a faller through a cedar stand and having a sudden whiff of fresh cut cedar cut through the smoke like a ray of light through a stained glass window. You do touch on the medicinal and cleansing feeling evoked by burning sage; for my part I find that the rich nutty aroma of a torching tumbleweed cluster is most satisfying.

Nerd on the Fireline
6/21 Old Guy with the FS,

I'm going to have to correct you a little on your assertion that "ICs have
always been feds." In the time it took me to fire up my email, I could
think of at least four Type 1 ICs that aren't/weren't feds - Steve Gage,
Kern County FD(?); Joe Stam, Alaska State Forestry; Bob Anderson, Spokane
County FD; and Ed Story, Utah State Forestry. I'm old too, or I imagine I
could come up with more.

Those are national Type 1 teams, in the rotation for all Type 1 incidents -
including the FS in California or any other jurisdiction. I believe that
non-fed Steve Gage has been IC on numerous "R5" fires. Hes not an IC now,
but I wonder how that memo would have flown when he was.

But to agree with you partially, to my knowledge there hasn't been an AD
Type 1 IC, though oddly enough there have been/are AD Area Commanders. Go


PS: Hey EH, do you have any other interesting views like, say, on the WCT or
what type of firefighters are the toughest? I'd love to hear them.
6/21 Ladies and Gentlemen of TheySaid,
To lighten the mood given the dark comments of recent I offer up the following deeply philosophical question:

How many Hotshots does it take to change a lightbulb?

6/21 Ab,

I spent my morning wading through 8 pages of form SF-424 so my fire district can get funded on our Community Assistance grant from BLM. It includes a long paragraph from among 2 pages of assurances (as evidenced by my chief's signature) to the federal government that our little fire district:

"Will comply with all Federal statutes relating to nondiscrimination. These include but are not limited to: (a) Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-352) which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin; (b) Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended (20 U.S.C. 1681- 1683, and 1685-1686), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex; .....(i) any other nondiscrimination provisions in the specific statute(s) under which application for Federal assistance is being made; and, (j) the requirements of any other nondiscrimination statute(s) which may apply to the application."

I don't understand why folks who collect a federal paycheck (like EH and Startree) seem to think they should be exempt from federal law, or common decency for that matter? Is it because they are "leaders in all things fire" as the saying goes in R5? Or is the good ol' boy system just too firmly entrenched to abide by law?

vfd cap'n

6/21 From Firescribe: Found this via the Fire News page. Interesting glimpses at history.

Stories unfurl at smokejumper reunion

For some historical smokejumper visuals: Brownie's Smokejumper Memoirs
6/21 KJC

May I make one suggestion: Instead of a Merlot with the fir smoked sharp Cheddar I would
really recommend a Washington State Syrah. The spicy peppery tones of a good Syrah I feel
would stand up the sharpness of the cheese.

If I could go fight fires anywhere I would go to the forests of Central France (Nevers, Allier,
Vosges) where the wood for wine barrels comes from. That is the best smelling smoke in the

Ok, on another note my condolences to the family and friends of SEAT driver Wayne Turner.
I too will be very interested in what the NTSB concludes. From the photos I was curious if the
power lines in the foreground may have been a contributing factor. June 21 and 2 SEAT deaths...
No more!

6/21 Is it true that ICs on fires are being sued by the citizens? or is this just rumor?
If anyone knows of a case where this has happened please let me know.

SoCal FF2
6/21 Geeze. Just when I was getting bored with the WCT thread somebody livens it up with a nice bigoted post that is sure to get folks riled up for a while. i'm known for getting my opinion in early so here goes....

Ab: Thanks for responding so eloquently to EH. Your words were much kinder than what I would have said and you made the point that needed to be made.

EH: Grow up.

Startree: As a woman in fire who throughout my career was always one of the first and has been a Division Chief for 15 years trying to implement the top down bureaucratic insanity that is the culture du jur these days, I agree with you to a point. However, I draw the line with your comments about it being a white guys club. Yes there are more white guys than others and there probably will be until our society quits convincing women and minorities that they aren't good enough to participate in a "white guy's" society except as what the white guys tell them. Women and minorities have just as much "passion for firefighting" as you do if they are allowed the chance to get hired in the first place and develop it.

Another Fluustered FF: The Forest Service didn't say we needed more hispanics. A judge did.

I very much disagree with the current mode of lawsuit and fear based decision making that is forcing the latest method of hiring down our throats. (Yes I am in R5.) It is creating an unsafe situation that upper level managers don't seem to appreciate. But the real point is that if we quit stereotyping groups of people and looked at what in our society is keeping them from competing well for jobs, right down to our media and the education system (I won't even mention AVUE!), we would find that the answer is not so easy to address.

Just so you know, I am a product of the first round of consent decree, but I am also a pretty darn good firefighter. Not one of the best or most famous, but I've been around for a long time and have proved myself over and over. Been on crews (including hotshots), engines, fuels and as a DC now I have to go to fires to get away from my desk. And yes, I HAVE had to tell people I couldn't hire them because of the way our hiring system is goofed up these days, even though they were right good candidates. I do my best and I do what I can. Sometimes the system gets the best of me but it doesn't keep me from trying to do the right thing.

And so I've said enough that probably half of you know who I am.

Sign me:
Wearing out, but not down
6/21 EH,
I understand that it is frustrating that we give priority to people who sometimes don’t deserve it. I do not think that lowering the standards or trying to meet hiring numbers solves the problem.

HOWEVER, I happen to know a certain hotshot crew boss who claims that, if he could, he would have an entirely female crew because the female firefighters he has known have worked incredibly hard. According to him women firefighters either can't cut it at all or they are awesome to work with because they KNOW they have to work TWICE as hard to keep up with their male compatriots. It is true that there are women out there that can't keep up, but there white men that fit that bill too. Are you saying that you have never ever had a white male on a crew that was lazy or incompetent?

We have a woman here who was a hotshot back in the day. She is a tiny gal but she firmly believes that you have to rise to the occasion. She once owned a gym and you had better believe that she convinced all the men on her crew that she deserved a place on that shot crew. There isn't a man around that doesn't respect the status she has worked so hard for. A woman like her can give some of the big men I’ve met out there a run for his money any day. By making broad generalized statements, you do a terrible disservice to the women, who like her, have worked so hard to earn their place by meeting the same standards as the men on a consistent basis. You are right in as much as you are trying to say that we should hire the best person for the job and that should be the end of it, regardless of their sex or race but you go too far in making statements such as “After working with a wide range of people I don't trust women or minorities because they do not have the physical strength to keep up or the work ethic.” The fact that the most admirable and experienced firefighters I know out there, not to mention myself, disagree with that statement just goes to show that you are a bitter man. I can understand how you would come to be so, but sometimes we have to reexamine how we came to feel a certain way. It’s ok to be angry, its not ok to tarnish the names of respectable firefighters out there.

6/21 Whooooweee, not gonna touch that EH post! Ab, you were too kind.

MJ-- ICs have always been feds. You can't have contractor engines or
ADs IC-ing fire at any level. Think of the liability issue if something goes
south. The AD is not covered. The Forest Supervisor, will they be liable?
Will the Agencies assume liability? Not on your life!

You must know, however, there's nothing that says the IC has to be on
the fireline. That's how our forest deals with the lightning bust situation.

Old Guy with the FS
6/21 Ab:

I have no problem with female fire fighters as a group. My observations over the years are that their presence in the organizations that I have worked has strengthened us. As individuals some have been outstanding, some lacking and most falling somewhere in between. I found the same with men.

My observation is that, as a group, white males have more of a passion for fire fighting than any one else. Please don’t take this as a put down. There are many outstanding folks in the wild land fire community of either sex or various ethnic backgrounds. If the only reason they had the opportunity to become fire fighters was affirmative action then it was a good thing. If they got there by individual effort all the better. It’s just that there is always going to be an over whelming amount of white guys in fire fighting. It’s not because we’re smarter, stronger or braver. As a group we’re just wired to want it more. It’s because of this that us crazy white guys, more often, work a lot harder at getting fire jobs. Returning to Leonard Pitts’ article, he cites a 1997 Sports Illustrated survey that found that many white kids had given up competing with black basketball players.” They say that they feel intimidated by black players who seem not just faster and stronger, but - key point - hungrier.”

Right now white guys are just culturally hungrier about fire fighting. It will be interesting to see how and if things will change over the coming decades.

6/21 EH;

Generally, I wouldn’t reply to a post as venomous as yours, but I’m seeing tempers flaring rather high here, and as a woman in a mostly minority fire fighting culture, I’d like to put in my two cents. I’ve heard crewbosses and ICs who say they’d rather have Hispanics, especially migrants, on their crews because they work harder and they appreciate, rather than whining about, the pay and the hours. I’ve talked to crewbosses who would love to have all-female crews because they say that women want it more. I liked Startree’s reasoning right up to his flawed conclusion; right up until he decided fire was a “white guy thing”. I thought he was a building a great case for firefighting being a career for those who were willing to work for it; people who “are the first to arrive and the last to leave, people who work harder and want it more.”

When I decided on my career field, I got told over and over that “women don’t do that”. I worked my rear off, took it in the teeth in ways you can’t even imagine, sweated blood, and now I’ve got the job of my dreams, and I’m damn good at it. When I decided to do firefighting, well, I know I’m maybe not physically as strong as most of the boys, but I PT like crazy, and I study the job, which includes being a regular visitor to the Abs’ (oh, and by the way, don’t dis on the Abs, they work hard for a good cause, which includes pointing out errors in the “party line”). Maybe I can’t work harder than the boys, but I can work smarter, and last time I checked, that counts.

Finally, for the “party line” concept; I’m a vollie. I don’t have a party. I don’t have to be politically correct. My department has no quotas, no hiring, we’ll find a productive role for a quadriplegic dachshund if one walks in off the street…AS LONG AS IT’S WILLING TO LEARN. Close minded firefighters are bad firefighters.

Nerd on the Fireline
6/21 Another DoD FF,

What are the quals needed for the Engineers equivalent?

DOD Firefighter
6/21 DOD Firefighter,

I work for the DOD in CA, this is what we are starting to require to participate in strike teams although we are not yet 100% compliant. We do have a significant wildland response however so even the FFs without formal training have some experience.


FFT2 qualified
S-130 FF training
S-190 Intro to WL fire behavior
I-100 Intro to ICS

FFT1 qualified
S-131 Advanced firefighter training

ENGB qualified
S-230 Crew boss
S-290 Intermediate wildland fire behavior
I-200 Basic ICS
S-215 Fire ops in the urban interface

Being in AZ you should have a good resource in the Fed WL agencies and AZ state offers training to the volunteer departments which you could probably get some of your people into.

Good luck with this

Another DoD FF.
6/20 Ab
You say we can voice what ever we want I don't think we can. However I find this just another party line which I cannot support and will not ever read this column or support this hypocrisy you call a web site. Why you ask is because I have worked in two different regions and have worked with many different races as well as women. After working with a wide range of people I don't trust women or minorities because they do not have the physical strength to keep up or the work ethic. Lets talk about minorities they want the world handed to them they expect every thing handed to them . They have no idea that respect is earned not given. I will admit that there are some good females and minorities that makes what is going on in R5 a slap in the face to them and destroys everything they are trying to build. In this R5 hiring madness why should I pass up some one who comes to my station every other week than some knuckle head who puts they are a hispanic on their AP. I feel you have lost touch with the real firefighters. Have you ever told a kid that they didn't get the job because we have to hire for diversity. Probably not. So why dare you correct some one like MJ you are all a bunch of hypocrites so have fun with your bull shit site just like the over head that has no idea about what is fuc*ing us out in the field


I agree with you to some degree, but I stand by my comment to Startree. I know a number of kickass minorities and women who are wildland firefighters. Wildland firefighting is not a good old white boys' club. Respect IS earned. Lives depend on it.

After saying you don't trust minorities or women, I'm glad to hear you say, "I will admit that there are some good females and minorities." My point exactly.

Whether you realize it or not, generalizations, categories and stereotypes are "lenses" through which we each "see" the world. What we expect to see is what we're more likely to see. Self fulfilling prophecies. The key is to step back from our biases and really look at the individuals we meet and work with. It is true that respect is earned; some also have to pay more to earn their way past stereotypes.

Unfortunately, stupid hiring practices like the Hispanic "Consent Decree" make it even more difficult for Hispanics not to be stereotyped. Makes it mighty hard for some firefighters to earn any respect and for others who have already earned their way up, to maintain respect.

EH, some people get pissed and go away from theysaid. Some forever. Some come back. Up to you.
Only other thing I gotta say: Party line, my assss. You clearly didn't read the comments last month and before on the Hispanic hiring process. Ab.
6/20 MJ

I understand your frustration about the the whole IC thing however look at it from our point of view.
Would you want an out side interest looking out for your interest? I think you would not. I think the
agency rep or "IC" is a good thing; there are enough people to go around whether you think so or
not. I believe one would call accountability for your assets.

6/20 Ab:

I would like quoting some things written by Miami Herald reporter Leonard Pitts in his article, “What’s wrong with Bird? White men should jump too.” Pitts, who happens to be African American, was writing about a recent incident where, retired NBA great Larry Bird had gotten himself in some trouble by stating that the sport would be more exciting to the fans if there were more white players. I found Pitts’ analysis very interesting and applicable to the recent events in R5 and hiring situations career fire depts., here in the east, have struggled with for years.

Pitts writes, “You see people confuse race and culture. They regard skin color as a magic bullet that, in and of itself, makes one better or worse not just in sports, but in academics as well. The truth is trickier and less simplistic.

You do not show up one day on the basketball court and dominate it because you’re black. You dominate it because you maximize physical gifts of size or speed, because you’re the first to arrive and the last to leave, because you work harder and want it more.

Just as you don’t show up in school one day and excel because you’re white. You excel because you study, because you ask questions, because you go beyond what the text and teacher demand, because you work harder and want it more.”

I’ve been fire service/law enforcement professional for over 20 years. I grew up in home where my father (also law enforcement) took steps to dispel prejudice in me by teaching that you treat people as individuals regardless of race. I’ve enjoyed working with a very diverse group of people. My conclusion though, is that fire fighting, culturally, is a white guy thing. In a perfect world managers would realize this and quit wasting every body’s time with complicated systems to artificially even things out.

We’ve all noticed that most fire fighters are white guys. We have a passion for fire fighting (although occasionally misdirected) that is not equaled among other cultural groups. No matter what systems are put in place we’re going to find away around it. I can almost guarantee that five years from now the fire service in R5 will be overwhelmingly white. All you kids that got knocked out of jobs this year hang in there. If you’re persistent you’ll get a slot. A few years back the City of Newark NJ made it almost impossible for someone to get hired unless they were African American. But now, every white kid who really wanted to be a fire fighter, and was willing to do what it takes to get hired, has a job.

Sorry about the length of this message. Happy Father’s Day.

I'd hate to ask how women fighting wildland fire fit - or don't fit - into your rather narrow view... Ab.
6/20 Ab,

Could someone show me the link to the letter that says we can not use AD employees as Type 4 or 5 IC s in Region 5? What if we get 20 lightning fires at once, order up engines and crews, and get contract resources? Would we have to assign an Agency IC to every fire, even the small Type 5 ones? We don't have that many folks to spare! I understand doing this for Type 3 and above fires, but to say an AD can NEVER be an IC on a very small fire doesn't make sense.

6/20 For Tahoe Terri:

Attached is the actual memo from "Q"; looks to me like the meaning is pretty unambiguous:

"The Coordination Centers will not accept other Regions supplying AD's for these positions."


6/20 Re: 1LT JT requesting advice,

Here's my advice on pursuing a wildland firefighting career, first, ignore the other post here that questions your stated career interest and suggests alternatives that are "more structured and upward mobile". I personally find that advice flippant, ill informed and objectionable.

My information relates mainly to the US Forest Service and military, because that's what I know (and I try to avoid offering advice or recommendations outside my knowledge). I served four years in the military, then twenty-seven with the USFS. I retired last year and there is nothing I would change if I could do it all over again.

I had a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the awe-inspiring magnitude of Mother Nature across the United States, I've worked, played, or lived in pristine wildernesses, National Parks, and National Forests. I've fought fire from the lowest elevation grass and brush to the highest alpine areas across the Western United States. I've met, worked with, made friends, and have been motivated by some of the most elite, remarkable, and devoted individuals you'll find anywhere. I feel honored and proud to have been a part of and contributed to the mission, tradition, and values of the USFS.

Enough about me, let's look at your experience and objectives. Here's how I see it:
* When you apply to any federal agency, you'll be able to check the veteran's preference box giving you an instant advantage in the hiring process. Similar to when I was discharged from the military at the end of the Vietnam War, there may be additional opportunities or career development programs for veterans when you are ready.
* Your education will be another tremendous advantage in getting to the top of any employment selection lists.
* Your military service, maturity, and leadership skills should enable you to promote faster than your peers.
* The transition from military to the federal wildland fire service will be familiar and comfortable due to similar chains of command, terminology, and mission oriented philosophies.
* I find there to be an abundance of built-in "structure"; there are manuals, regulations, policies, procedures, and checklists for nearly every situation. You'll be used to "going by the book" and will appreciate their existence and availability.
* Your Geography and Natural Sciences degree should be a perfect foundation should you decide to pursue a Fire Science degree. It will surely assist you in quickly appreciating and understanding fire, fire behavior, and fire ecology.
* Now more than ever (and in the coming years) there is an urgent need for strong new leaders in the USFS. There are never before seen opportunities for rapid promotion and advancement. Upward mobility for the qualified will NOT be an issue.
* You will already be familiar with subsisting on MRE's. While other newbies are pawing through the stack, you can snatch your favorite.
* With your overseas tours in hostile countries, you may have lead troops against hostile forces. You're probably already be familiar with stress, how it affects you and others, and may have experience making decisions "under fire".
* Your family will be used to you being away for periods of time. Though now your absences should be limited to around two weeks instead of a year.

There are many, many more issues to consider when applying for a job, how to prepare for promotions, and making short and long-term career decisions. Due to the length of this post, I'll try to create some separate lists and get them posted.

I hope this information, based on my experience, is helpful. I encourage other vets to contribute to this thread and share their experience. There are obstacles and challenges to overcome for new employees, especially those with families, but they are known and can be managed. I'll address the ones I'm aware of in my next post on Why/How/Where/When to get a job in the USFS.


PS: 1LT JT, if you would like to email me direct, you can ask Ab for my address.
6/20 Abrdeen,

There was a memo from the R5 Chief that said that all ICs and Deputy ICs on Type I and II Incident Management Teams in R5 would be Federal employees, and that no ADs would be allowed in Command and General Staff positions. Cooperators (including those from CDF and many other CA firefighting organizations) can function in C &GS positions. There was nothing in the memo that I read and nothing that I've heard about that directed California GACCs to turn away out-of-Region IMTs that don't meet the "no AD" criteria. As I understand it, the memo's intent was to limit the action to our R5 teams.

I take it that you're not from R5. Are you an AD or on a team that has ADs in C&GS positions? Any insights on the upside or downside of having ADs in those positions?

Tahoe Terrie
6/20 DOD F/F

As a retired VA (Veterans Affairs) structural firefighter, I know what you are talking about with the lack of training. Starting back in 92, we would go on mutual aid on conflagration fires in southern Oregon, with full turnouts, no brush gear and what was a fire shelter, we didn't have them. About 98 or 99 we finally got brush gear and fire shelters and we were even shown the OR-OSHA and my fire shelter films on how to use them. Not much training.

Subsequently, I joined my local fire department that is a combination paid/volunteer department and received wildland training as we have a lot of urban interface area. And, I have taken training on my own since then. When I retired from the VA in 2001, they still did not even furnish the S-130/190 classes or any other type of wildland training, of course there was no pack test either.

I became a contractor (I know, bad words to some) with a tender as I am well past the age for going into wildland fire fighting for the feds. wildland firefighting sure beats the structural fire fighting I still do as a volunteer. Good luck in getting the training. Push for the proper training, as it is your life. Stay safe.


Not bad words here. We're all part of the wildland firefighting mix - tools in the box. Ab.
6/20 Keestrokes ,

First what state do you work in?

I work in the State of Arizona at a DOD installation which I believe is R3? ( Although the agreement is for California).

Is your agreement with a wildland agency or local government agency?

The agreement is with Imperial County California which is R5?

Is this going to be on a Type 1 or 2 engines or a Type 3?

We will be a Type 1 engine I believe.


DOD Firefighter
6/20 THANK YOU all who contributed to recent funny stuff on this forum. this is the time for
levity; before fires are again roaring in every western state!

Comment: usually new WFF hopefuls ask about best boots or best forest to apply to for
employment. when military personnel ask, I get an uneasy feeling in my gut.

R5 Question: did last years posters' who whined about an extra fire protection fee wake
up to reality subsequent the 2003 southzone fire siege?

*L* who wants to debate the shelf life of eggs or MRIs? no?, how about another Poison
Oak tale?

THANK everyone who provides the person power to keep TheySaid up & running.
I'm amazed how far this website has evolved whenever I actually take the time to read all
the new links.

Safe fire season all, especially those currently on the line in NM & AZ!
6/20 DOD Firefighter
A few things need to be addressed before anyone can answer your questions.

First what state do you work in?

Is your agreement with a wildland agency or local government agency?

Is this going to be on a Type 1 or 2 engines or a Type 3?

Answer these and we can help you. The rules are different, depending on whom
you are going to do business with. Not everyone requires a WCT.

6/20 Well i am a little flusterd at r5 hiring, but who isnt. 5 seasons in fire 4 with the feds, my frustrations come from the last apprentice hire. ok i agree that we need diversity in the work force. But the last hire 6 new hires that were picked up all hispanic and 4 seasonals all hispanic, hold it, Im not wining 3 were of other. Of the 6 new some could not pass a S190 test.

the forest service says it doesnt hire based on race. yet they said they needed more hispanics, 32 % to make this true. It seems to me that they hired these people on race. If anyone can help me out here so all this makes sense then feel free to fire away some answers. Im sorry but i cant say what forest, i will say so zone. I just want some answers,

another flusterd ff R5
6/20 A few weeks ago, I was forwarded a memo from the R-5 USFS Director of Fire ("Q"), that required that all IC's and Deputy IC's on Incident Management Teams be Federal employees, and that NO AD's would be allowed in C&GS positions. He also directed the California GACC's to turn away out-of-Region IMT's that didn't meet his (not NWCG's) criteria!

Today, I hear a rumor that the California USFS and their associated cooperators (less the CDF) are unable to fill out all 5 National T-1 IMT's with qualified and willing folks, and have asked NICC to kick them back to only 4 National T-1 teams. Rumor also has it that the Southeastern GACC (20 Southern States) will be asked to supply another T-1 IMT in California's place.

Any of you folks in "Arnold-Land" hear anything about this, or is it just bogus?

6/19 Hello Again,

I am the DOD Structural Firefighter that had some questions as to what Qualifications are required for us to enter into a Strike Team. Our Chief has already signed an agreement and has given us notification that we have a 5 minute deployment notice. Again we only have 2 Firefighters that have been through the 130/190 course, and 2 Captains that have been through the S-215 course only. I am the Union Steward for the collective bargaining unit and had addressed our chief, about the requirements for training and certification, and was blown off? He insists on sending us without due regard for our safety. My questions is this. With the help of some of you here, and researching other resources this is what I can come up with for required training. Can some of you verify for me that this in fact the proper required training for us to actively participate as part of a Strike Team / Urban Interface?

According to NFPA 1500 5.2.6 all members operating as Wildland Firefighters shall meet the requirements of NFPA 1051 (Standard for Wildland Firefighter Professional Qualifications). Furthermore NFPA 1500 5.1.2 states that the fire department shall provide training and education for all department members commensurate with the duties and functions that they are expected to perform. Members of a Strike Team should be qualified according to NWCG 310-1 standards. www.nwcg.gov/pms/docs/310-1new.pdf

1.) Completed training as specified in the NWCG (National Wildland Fire Coordinating Group) course NWCG 190 Introduction to Fire Behavior.
2.) NWCG 130 Firefighter Training
3.) NWCG ICS Orientation
4.) Complete each objective in NFPA 1051 Standard for Wildland Firefighter, Professional Qualifications, Current Edition,Wildland FF1
5.) Possess or have immediate access to PPE specifically for Wildland Firefighting as specified in NFPA 1977 Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Firefighters . Current edition.

NFPA 1051 Wildland Firefighter I Requirements
PMS-410-1, Fireline Handbook
PMS-414-1, Firefighters Guide
PMS-416, Standards for Survival
S-110, Basic Fire Suppression Orientation
S-130, Firefighter Training
S-190, Introduction to Fire Behavior
S-215, Wildland Urban Interface
I-100, Introduction to the Incident Command System

NFPA 1051 Wildland Firefighter II Requirements
S-131, Advanced Firefighter Training
S-133, Look Up, Look Down, Look Around
S-201, Supervisory Concepts and Techniques
S-211, Portable Pumps and Water Use
S-212, Wildland Power Saws
S-216, Driving for the Fire Service

Also firefighters that are expected to operate as Wildland Firefighters are required to pass a WCT (Work Capacity Test) at the ARDUOUS Level. Which requires the individual to complete a 3-mile walk/hike within 45mins while carrying a 45-pound pack. Before the WCT they are required to fill out a Health Screening Questionaire and pass a Medical Examination (Standard Form 78).

Thanks for your help,

DOD Firefighter
6/19 1LT TJ,

Hey dude, it won''t matter what background or other experience or whatever you have if you wanna get on a Hotshot crew- THEY HAVE TO HIRE YOU. Or at least they will when the time comes. You'll have veterans preference (assuming an honorable discharge), and they are required by law to offer you a job you before they hire anyone else, period. So don't sweat it, you can basically work anywhere you want, and that goes for all federal fire positions.

Good luck, and stay alive.

6/19 Mellie,

Hope you're getting well!! I'm a little slow this week, so I just saw your question about cell phones in Trinity county. In last week's Trinity Journal was a story stating that Trinity Co. just received 2.5 million for 10 new cell towers in the county, to be started this fall. The locations will be: Zenia, Pickett peak, Wildwood, Buckhorn summit, Hayfork Bally, Hyampom, Salyer, Del Loma, Weaver bally, and Eagle creek. The new cell tower in Willow Creek is operated by Edge Wireless, and the new one on Hoopa has 3 different carriers, Edge is one of them.

Almost all of the SRF engine and Crew c-phones use US Cellular, but it doesn't worl well in canyons, like Denny. If I was you, I would try to find out which companies plan to bid on the new tower contracts, as the ones in Salyer and Del Loma probably will cover Denny fairly well. Remember, c-phones have long contracts, so if you get a company that doesn't use one of the new towers, you might be stuck with a fancy doorstop!

Another route to consider is Tracfone, they have no contracts or bills, you just buy phone time as needed, and they pick up the nearest tower. I have one of these in my web gear, and it works well on fires. They sell them at radio Shack, K-mart, Costco and places like that. The new towers will be great for us in Southern Trinity county, as places like Mad River and Ruth don't have coverage yet either.

Hopefully this helps all of us way back in the woods, -MJ
6/19 Ab,

I really subscribe to what Nerd on the Fireline and Old Fire Guy are saying about the WCT. Personally, I become highly irritated when "firefighters" begin to moan and groan about the WCT. Hello people, it is called "at-will employment" and the WCT is no surprise to anyone...AND you have from the end of the summer until mid-spring to get in shape for the WCT. Sure, it can be a stretch to compare physical activity on the fire line to the WCT, BUT I am firm believer that if you cannot pass the WCT you have no business being on the fireline.

As far as lying on the health screening questionnaire, that's crap, now you have put not only yourself, but everyone that you work with on any fire at risk. There must be a baseline, the WCT serves as the baseline currently. I am a 30 year old female that weighs in at 175 and 5'11"- I am not the best hiker in the world, but my attitude is this, every time I do the WCT and pass, I know that I have met the standard, and that I could perform tasks needed of me on the fire line, if I couldn't pass the WCT, that would be the red flag telling me to get my butt in shape or find a new line of employment, that is the reality of it. What frustrates me is that people spend more time complaining about the pack test than they do training for it...

Be honest with yourself, be honest on the health screening, be honest with your crew about your physical capacities, and most of all, get off the couch in the middle of February and go climb a few hills. OH, and for all you guys out there finishing in 30 min or less, remember, there will come a time when you will only be able to go as fast as the slowest person in the crew....just some stuff to think about.

Just another chick on the fireline
6/19 Mellie,

Stu is right about cell phone reception in your area. Best bet are US Cellular for bag phone - maybe cell as well - and Edge Wireless for cell. Edge works in Hoopa and down to 299. Denny is one of those "shadow" locations. Another "shadow" between Burnt Ranch to near Weaverville. But you get up on any of the higher ridges and you're likely to get reception, or maybe not. US Cellular works down I-5 from Redding. Good luck. Satellite phone costs should continue to come down. Last season they were about 70cents a minute. Those things don't work in a vehicle, too much steel. Better to park, get out and talk. Avoid talking while hanging your head out of a moving vehicle- overhanging poison oak vines are viscous and can leave you with a strange case of PO -not me but someone I knew. Eyes puffed up like a blow fish and looked like someone had beat them about the face with a barbed spaghetti noodle.

Worst firecamp odor: ripe blue room!
Memorable fire image: smoke inversion has blown away, sun breaks thru on the millions of little heat-seeking bugs, like animated photons in a chem experiment gone wild.
Worst sinking feeling: a wiggler in my sleepingbag in scorpion country and I forgot to shake it out...

Norcal Tom
6/19 Hey Ab,

I like the chatter, if not a learning tool at least it exposes us readers to both sides of the story. Keep it up!

I am a troubled firefighter. I have had a hard time getting hired as a wildland firefighter and was wondering if anyone out there had a recommendation. When the primary entry age was 35 years old I was 36. Then they changed the entry age to 37. Unfortunately, I turned 38 just before that year’s hiring season. I have been red carded for the past five years, have a Class B falling card, squad boss certified, and am an EMT-B. I have been with a volunteer fire department in my home town for 12 years holding positions from Chief to Training Officer.

I am only able to get out on one dispatch per year so far as I have a full time job and have to use my vacation time to go out (my wife has been very good to work with so far). Because of the entry level age I’ve pretty much given up on that avenue. What’s the feeling out there about putting together my own Type 6 in order to participate in wildland? Or how about getting on with a private contractor? Can anyone give me some advice?

Thanks for being there for guys like me!


(P.S. – when I was 23 years old my roommate said we should go be smokejumpers. I was like “What’s that?”. Talk about wasted years.)
6/19 Wow!
KJC, During Shift Briefings, you're the one in the back making the noises
like they're describing fine wines. I already know how you're gonna act when
the shrink starts showing you all the ink blots. And, I'm betting that I
could find your house with an Osborne Fire Finder.

Fedfire, Off-season, everyone looks at you funny as you blast through the
"all you can eat" buffet like Taz wearing cargo pants. What's worse, is all
those little goodies that they've left in their packages that you cram into
your pockets, and down your shirt, for sometime later on. Nowadays, you'll buy a
sandwich at the gas station and throw it on the seat of the truck before you
get in. It'll be ready to eat in about 30 miles, nice and flat. Yup, things
are warming up. By the way, did you ever realize how bad MRE heaters stink up
the house?

It's your humor that makes our fire world a nicer place to be. Everyone's
got their gear packed and ready? Just as a reminder... check your expiration
dates on stuff NOW. That goes for med. stuff, batteries, and all your
hoarded goodies, etc. Remember, any MRE's over six years old must be registered
for school for September.

Stay safe!

also - Mellie, Thank you (just for being you)!

6/19 I am sorrowed by the news of the death of the SEAT driver Wayne Turner.

I am humbled by the response generated by the auction to raise funds for Matt
Taylor and his family. Your generosity is amazing. Keep PRAYING for Matt
and his family and the family of Wayne Turner.

God Bless all you firefighters and supporters.
6/19 Ref: R5DirtMiner

R5 does not have a policy that says you must assign a crew to a fire or return them home. In this case R3 called the south zone coordinator and asked if they could keep the crews a few more days and if the could not find a fire for them the would send them home, and not assign them to project work. Since there were not any fires for them to go to, they were returned to CA

And that word came from R3, NOT R5.

Sometimes things just happen. R5 continues to send resources to any region without any stipulations if they can spare them.

6/19 Hi Ab

Here's a link the state of Utah has created for fire info. www.utahfireinfo.gov
It has current fire info, photos and press releases as well as an archive of fires.


I added that good link to the Fires 2004 page. Ab.
6/19 Re: mop up

Thanks KJC, funny how strong just the description of the smells of fire will trigger memories.

For me the senses that stick with me are from wildlandfires are:

The sound of a recip engine tanker passing close over head

The sound of the chainsaws buzzing away in the distance along with the associated clanking and yelling from the crew trailing behind

The rush of air and moisture from a close helo drop

The sight of a chain of headlamps moving up a hill through the darkness occasionally backlit by fires

The cold, greasy but I'm so hungry I don't care (yet I'm still glad its not Ham omlette) taste of a beef stew MRE

The lemon joy mixed with burnt smell of class A foam

and that sort of musty smell when you empty out the red bag for the season

Thanks for the thoughts in my head right now

Wildland season is finally starting up in these parts, the red bag is packed

6/19 KJC, you are a sick individual but you have a great sense of humor. I personally can’t stand white fir smoke, you get a really good hit of that and you will be on your knees puking with snot running to your boots. I guess it ranks right up there with poison oak smoke in the worst natural smoke category. About the rest of your descriptors, nice work.

Been on the boards for a few weeks and haven’t smelled any of the aromas that you so deftly put into word. Thanks to you have an overwhelming desire to put my head in the BBQ hood and breath deeply. Too wet to even do any Rx burns.

BSAFE, Backburnfs
6/19 Hi,

Anyone looking for a dozer guy? Fill in for a few weeks or ?
Also would like to know the way to get work for my dozer if I had one.
I have over 20 years experience on D8's doing clearing and burn piles of years past when it was allowed. So have done limited fire fighting. And lots of very steep ground work. In the state of washington. Could travel outa state for a few weeks.

6/18 From Firescribe:

West drought could be worst in 500 years

Drought map

6/18 Mop- Up ...Article 90...Second hand smoke

Sometimes I don't think it's normal to have the feelings I do about fires and the smoke they produce. By all rights I should be an arsonist. Second hand cigarette smoke is a inconvenience and is a health risk. On the other hand I consider the sweet aroma of burning Madrone with a hint of Manzanita an aphrodisiac.

I personally don't think we have enough fires in Alder stands. Alder is a prized wood for smoking Northwest Salmon. The smell is sweet but not overpowering. Assigned to a fire with Alder as the main fuel component is like going to a fine restaurant and ordering a Portabella mushroom and goat cheese.

In some areas of the U.S. it's common to have fires in Oak stands. The smoke from the Oak is good but you have to be in the right mood for it. Oak has a little tinge of bitterness. I would compare Oak smoke to a side dish of pickled watermelon. A different ...not unpleasant taste... if consumed in small quantities. You wouldn't't want a steady diet of the stuff.

Douglas Fir smoke is a rich permeating smoke. Fir smoke is best with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese or perhaps a good Merlot wine.

Ponderosa Pine...the aroma brings back memories of simpler times. Pine smoke is like the granddaddy of all smokes. A sweet nectar of aromas. Best described as the feeling you get when sitting around a campfire eating crawfish, hotdogs or grilled trout. Pine smoke compliments other smokes.

A combination of Juniper and Pine smoke is like using the right amount of cilantro in your salsa. Too many Junipers and it overpowers the burning pine smell.

My all time favorite smoke is Mountain Mahogany mixed with Alder. This combination doesn't occur naturally. The two species are too dissimilar and require opposite conditions to grow. The mahogany is a strong smoke that is good for grilling beef steaks but is too strong for poultry. I think scientist should use their resources to clone a mahogany alder cross instead of cloning sheep and cats.

The smell of burning sheep, or cats for that matter, is not a pleasant aroma at all.

Cedar smoke is an interesting smoke. I find myself thinking of sweat lodges and the more modern spas with saunas. Food images from cedar smoke seem diffused and conflicted. At first you might think of grapes and then smoked salmon pops into your mind. However, everyone knows that salmon is smoked with Alder. The only fish dish cooked with cedar is carp.

Carp and cedar? Yep...Take a cedar shingle lay a bony filet of carp on the shingle...season well...bake at 350 degrees for forty five minutes. Remove from oven when done. Take the carp from the shingle and throw the carp away...eat the shingle.

Smoke from grasses and woody plants can be a treat. Sage fires in late summer produce a wonderful medicinal quality of smoke. Exposure to large quantities of Big Sage smoke is good for driving away demons and less than pure thoughts.

The only smoke I find objectionable is grass smoke. Not the herb... rather the lawn mowing, fertilized and domesticated cousin of the greasy grass and other native grasses. The only food image that comes to mind when smelling the smoke of domesticated grasses is my ex wife's cooking. She always became confused when cooking carp and threw away the shingle and kept the carp.

Oliver Moore...Inhale but only in moderation...Be safe
Copyright held by Oliver Moore Inc.

6/18 My heartfelt condolences to the family and colleagues
of the SEAT pilot who lost his life fighting the
Dammeron Valley Complex Fire in Southwestern Utah.

This fire season, as we head out into the fields, no
matter where we are, we should keep good thoughts in
our mind for not only our fellow ground firefighters,
but also for those who support us from the air, be it
fixed or rotary wing. Everyone be safe out there.

FWS Fire
6/18 According to the noon news the pilot killed in yesterday's SEAT crash at the Dammeron Complex fire in SW Utah was 58 year old Wayne Turner from Big Sandy MT. They stated he had 40 years of flying under his belt and was a private contractor for the BLM. NTSB is scheduled to arrive sometime this afternoon to begin their investigation.

Weather is cooperating for a second day with calm winds and some clouds, temps so far in the mid 80's. More humid than usual for this time of year. Last report had 4,300 acres burned and fire is 30% contained. SEATs are currently grounded but helicopters are up there working the fire.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends

6/18 As far as the WCT goes - you have to be in shape, period! I feel for the individuals and their families that have an unknown medical problem that results in disability or death. In fact, I feel for ANY individual that suffers a loss at the hands of the WCT, but if someone who is in lousy shape attempts the WCT and becomes incapacitated or dies, doesn't personal responsibility play into those deaths? I personally think it does.

As far as air ops issues, airtankers and helicopters will crash. They do both on fires and off. Certainly the stresses on both the aircraft and pilots are usually higher on fires than general aviation, but fire pilots share the same risks to life that all of us do, just in a different way. We know this job is risky, and we accept the risk or we leave the profession.

My sincere condolences to all who have lost loved ones in the fire service. And remember, the best way to honor these lives is to live a full life and take care of yourself and one another.

R2 Localyokel
6/18 To CA Taxpayer:

Does it stand to reason that if it costs more to live in an area it also costs more for everything else? How much is the cost of living in Santa Barbara? I was on the team that managed the Gaviota and I can tell you where the money went: Type 1 Helicopters and OES Strike Teams. When you are in the Santa Barbara Front with multi multi million dollar homes only a few hours away (the fire spread 6000 acres and over 5 miles downwind the first day) and a history like you have there with the Romero, Paint, Refugio, Coyote, Matilija Fires of the past, you don’t take the threat lightly. And that costs money.

Fireball XL5
6/18 Dear CA Tax Payer;

I too am a California taxpayer and am concerned about the state’s financial health. Compounding this concern is that our growing deficit has meant the loss of positions within my department that may very well never be restored. I understand also how, based on the numbers contained in your post, the cost of the Gaviota Fire would appear exorbitant. Unfortunately an across the board comparison of these fires is not a fair representation of the facts. Please allow me the opportunity to shed light upon the differences between these two fires and why their costs and staffing levels seem so disproportional.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, unlike the federal wildland agencies, does not have the luxury of figthing fire on their own land. Instead they are tasked primarily with fighting fire on the 31 million acres of privately owned watersheds within the state. This means that CDF is directly responsible for the protection of the lives and property of the Californians who live in these areas. More often than not, fires starting in CDF’s protection area immediately threaten homes and improved properties. The agency has found that the most successful means of combating such fires is with a large initial attack component. A standard “high” CDF dispatch calls for a chief officer, ten engines (usually includes the two closest local Gov’t) two type one crews, a bulldozer, three fixed wing aircraft and two rotary wing aircraft. This aggressive initial attack allows the department to contain over 90% of its 6300 annual Wildland fires before they reach ten acres. While this tactic is expensive, to the taxpayer’s who homes and property are immediately threatened, the money is well spent.

Contrast this with the Peppin Fire. Fifteen days after its start, 11 engines, 3 dozers and twelve crews assigned to the still uncontained 47,000 acre fire. I do not know if you are familiar with Santa Barbara County, but an uncontained 47,000 acre fire with 11 engines assigned to it would indeed bring forth the wrath of the local taxpayers. Moreover, the Peppin’s final 64,448 acres overlaid in the area of the Gaviota Fire would see the loss of millions of dollars in taxpayer’s property (Ronald Reagan’s Ranch might even fall within that perimeter). My sympathy’s to the Incident Management Team that would have to defend the use of such a small resource pool. CDF would not survive the scrutiny of not utilizing a high resource commitment to contain a fire at the lowest possible acreage.

It has been said in some circles that CDF’s portal to portal pay and use of motels to sleep their engine crews contributes heavily to the high cost of their fire fighting efforts. The truth is CDF by virtue its mission to protect private property must be a twenty four hour agency. Fires start at all hours of the day and night and the landowners, whose land CDF protects, expect an immediate response, day or night. To require this immediate readiness, but not pay the personnel for it is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In regards to motels, again CDF often operates in areas that are often heavily urbanized. The union was able to convince the state the use of motels was cost effective and contributed to crew safety. After many seasons of trying to sleep in a bone dry cow pasture in 100 degree heat, I personally believe this to be true. CDF for the most part does not protect pristine forest land with suitable sites for quite sleep areas.

Are there ways we could save money fighting fire in California? Perhaps. CDF’s wildland force has been in decline since the 1980’s, even as the population in the areas it protects has swelled exponentially. When large fires do occur, CDF’s finds itself relying more and more on higher cost local government equipment. If a portion of the money that is spent on the resource could be used to at least what has been cut, we may very well realize a savings.

As far as comparing the Peppin Fire and the Gaviota Fire, it is nearly apples and oranges. The Gaviota fire had to have a higher cost to hold to a lower acreage. The threat to private property demanded it. I can tell you from experience that any deviation from a maximum effort in a populated area will draw the criticism of the press and public. I know also that for those property owners within the 57,008 acres that did not burn, the money spent on fighting the Gaviota Fire was well spent.

6/18 I am not sure what to do about these accidents with the planes. Until the
reports are out it makes me wonder if they are from down drafts, mechanical
problems, pilot era, older equipment etc. So many things can go wrong in the
heat of a fire. When I watch the planes dump there loads on fires they are
doing something that mechanical failure does not give you a second chance
most of the time. If we have a pump fail we get another one. If a truck
stalls you get out and try to figure what is wrong. If we break a handle on
a shovel we cuss a little. Flying these planes is a different story
maintenance is of the up most importance and things can still go wrong. The
Pilots know the risks they take as so do we in our field but most of the
time we get a second chance they don't! A loss of any Fire Fighter is a loss
that if it could be stopped it should. None of the areas that are burning do
not deserve to lose a life over just to stop the fire. Just not sure what
can be done to end this problem.

6/18 I have worked with SEAT pilots who were the best pilots in the world [for their job / aircraft.] I have also worked with ones who should never have graduated from crop dusting. One result of the loss of heavy air tankers is the need for more SEAT pilots. As with any other specialized job, these folks do not grow on trees, so…. Now add to that increased missions /hours due to the lack of ATs,…

As far as the parallel people are trying to draw between aircraft safety and WCT safety…? Pilots and firefighters both do dangerous jobs, with some inherent risks. The only way to make either job absolutely safe is to not do the job. Besides, no one was complaining about aircraft safety last year [to this great extent].

6/18 The wildland fire community has just experienced it's 2nd fatality in less than 30 days involving a SEAT.

I'd be interested in hearing the thoughts of all those opposed to the WCT because of the fatalities involved in taking the Pack Test: are deaths flying SEATs anymore acceptable/unacceptable than those deaths that occur from the WCT? What are our options, and possible alternatives/solutions?

Condolences to the family of the pilot; your loss is also ours!

6/18 Ab, here's a link about the USFS and the Missing Wart Hog and other planes.



Thanks Mark. Ab.
6/18 Sincere condolences to the family and friends of the SEAT pilot who tragically died on the Dammeron Valley Complex Fire in Southwestern Utah. Sadly, too many lives lost again this year and fire "season" isn't yet up and running.

1LT TJ, I find it curious that a war veteran with the qualifications you've stated would consider becoming a Hotshot. No offense intended, it seems you'd be better suited to pursue a career in a more structured and upward mobile FF organization (& those benefits for you and your family). I'm sure others have better advice, but mine is to read all the archives on this site - find a thread and follow it. Consider enrolling in some fire related courses; also many FEMA courses are available online. There are many states personnel board websites that offer job testing requirement information by job classification. Good luck; and thank you for keeping US safe.

TheSquirrel, great idea about "shot" stories. Any up & coming bards out there under the tutelage of Oliver Moore?

CA Tax Payer, you want an exemption for costs associated with someone's lack of fire preparedness & prevention? BTW, do you know exactly what costs were included in those numbers, or why?

Safety first. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. is there a newer buzz word than mitigation?

6/18 To Signed-BEEN THERE

Any time any fire fighter dies it is a great loss. It makes no different if its on a fire or in a test.
It is sad if you take this lightly. No we can't stay 29 forever, but WCT is not worth some one

6/18 For 1LT TJ

Contact Col. Fred Abt, the Senior Army Advisor for Idaho NG. He has a full understanding of the firefighting mission and is liaison to NIFC. Years ago, he completed the standard basic fire training requirements so he can visit military troops on the fireline, completes annual refreshers (when not assigned overseas) and completes the fitness tests. He's a great source, understands the fire agency cultures, and the realities of our work. Lots of good resources available online for general orientation to the work the fire agencies do. Good luck -stay safe and it can be a great career.

6/18 Mellie,

The only "cell" phones I've seen work in the remote areas of Trinity county have been combination cell/satellite phones. Unfortunately, ALL calls made in that area have had to been made through the satellite mode. When you are in an area that has cell capabilities, it's much cheaper to use the cell mode, but if you really need to make that call, without a cell signal, you can always use the satellite mode. You might want to check out www.globalcomsatphone.com.


PS: Pagers don't seem to work very well in that area also.
6/17 Not much news yet but this evening on the Dammeron Valley Complex Fire in Southwestern Utah we lost a pilot and a single engine air tanker. I was out working this fire last night when it first kicked up from lightning strikes until our dept was released at Midnight so my heart feels a little heavier than usual when I hear news of a LODD. My thoughts and prayers are with the pilot and the family who is getting the news tonight...

will post more info when its released KSL News: Pilot Crashes, Dies Fighting Wildfire


Condolences. Ab.

6/17 I updated the Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455. Ab.
6/17 Hello all,

I'm new to this board and am inquiring about several employment questions. I've done a bit of web research and it seems that most Hotshot crews hire people with prior wildland firefighting experience, with a few exceptions to those that they feel may have the qualities to make a good Hotshot despite their lack of expertise.

I fit into that later category with no experience. However, after reading into about every Hotshot crews website I was wondering if I fit into that later category who they would still sometimes hire.

Without going into great detail here is a quick run-down of myself. This is to run it by the obvious wildland firefighting veterans and Hotshots who frequent this board.

I graduated from West Point with a degree in Geography and Natural Sciences. I played 4 years of football there. From there I have been a tank platoon leader, executive officer, and soon to be Captain in everything from a year combat tour in Iraqi to year tour in Korea. When I am able to (2 years from now) I will hang up my Army hat and put on a new one which has yet to be determined. And from then on I just want to live the rest of my life in peace.

Getting into wildland firefighting has everything that I could want in a career after I get out, and a career is what I plan to make it if I get into it. Physically, I'm pretty sure I could hack it in a Hotshot crew, (can easily surpass all the published firefighting PT standards I've read), but the whole experience thing I feel may be a big hang-up.

How hard would it be for a person like me to get a chance at a Hotshot crew? I am looking to try to get a more permanent kind of position as I have a family to look after and temporary work is just not going to work out most likely, but have no idea if that is even a reality starting off either. I'm really not looking for anything like an engine crew, but more handcrew kind of work as I enjoy the more physical nature of it.

Well everyone thanks for the input and I look forward to reading your responses.

6/17 Mellie, hope all is well, you are in my thoughts daily. Your strength and
courage are above all and your family is one of a kind. You've learned from
all us fire folks and now its time for us to learn from you. You don't look
at situations as set backs but just another challenge and I know how you
love being challenged. We are so fortunate to have you in our fire world.
Speedy recovery and know you have one hell of a strong support group.
NOTE: I spent two weeks in Arizona, visited the Dude fire and have some
stones to add to your collection (see, always thinking of you).

yours truly - FIRE WOLF
6/17 What ever happen to the Fire Hog that was being developed from the Wart Hog military aircraft?
Did it die on the vine or what?

6/17 From BP

MSNBC - Wildfires 2004 - What homeowners are doing: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5114140/

6/17 Hey I was checking out the smokejumper site and thought it was really cool that they had stories written by jumpers. Groundpounders should send in their stories to wildlandfire. Some could be selected and we can sit back and read the yarns <ahem> I mean real life stories you heroes experience. It would promote the wildland culture and give us young guys some inspiration. Just a thought.

6/17 Re: WCT - What's t gain / What's to lose?

Well, cry all you want about the work capacity tests and before you know it
you will have medical standards and then beyond that the agencies will have
so much information on your medical background, on file, available
somewhere - that God forbid - you get into an automobile accident, or
decide to move on from being a grunt to an MBA - only to be turned down by
an employer in the private sector - who learned you have some stigmatized
medical condition - that was discovered - while you were receiving your
$20,000 agency provided medical exam!!!! Now who is screwed - be careful
what you ask for.

The WCT is the best we have other than personal responsibility for knowing
to do the right thing - and that's get off the line if you will hinder
others - or stay perfectly healthy, without disease, disability, or the
affects of aging - so when you need that perfectly clean medical record,
you'll be next to holiness.

Move on - medical standards are coming. The government will have its
baseline data on you young bucks and buckettes / be careful to hide the
bruises and scars.

"We can not have any more tests from any more packtests" - WAAAHHHH. --
GET A LIFE. Two people died taking the light level / ( actually - one went
home, kicked about the house a bit, and then died later. My Word! What a
horrible test - Ask your doctor how many people die of heart attacks from
bowel movements every day - it will surprise you!

Think folks - we can't stay 29 forever.

Signed - BEEN THERE (just wait until the chart notes screw you over when
you need them most!)
6/17 Hi All,

Anyone have info on which cell phones work best in remote areas of Northern California?
Specifically Trinity Alps, eastern side = on down to Chico; more important -- western side = Denny area, Shasta-T NF, north coast along the Six Rivers NF and including San Francisco? I know Edge has a repeater north of Hoopa. Don't know if it reaches our New River watershed. To those who remember my Five Waters "telephone booth" during the BigBar Complex, I need an upgrade. (The "booth" was my red truck strategically placed in our meadow with a "bag phone" that ran off the truck battery.) I'm hoping there's been an improvement in norcal cell phone coverage since 1999.

Message for those who have sent me their love and prayers:
The medical report I got this week is most excellent!!! The surgery and all your prayers have set me on a trajectory for health and long life! <doin' a little jig> Thanks everyone! O'course, no more pack tests carrying a 35 lb pack for me, at least not at arduous level. <heh> However, I have been doing a few curls every day with my very weighty Wildland Firefighter Foundation bronze statue. <wanna feel my right arm muscle?> Aside from that, I have a fairly aggressive pair of PT masters, one man and one woman. He is nice but seems to delight in yarding on this muscle, that fascia, or some bone and ligament. When I look closely, i do realize he has a grin that could eat a shark! She has a husband who was a FS firefighter and she fought fire with CDF for several summers. Small world. I know, Original Ab, you've warned me about trusting people too much, especially ones with shark grins... But I think in terms of my rehab supts, I'll do whatever it takes... Meet problems squarely. No whining.

Love you all!
6/17 How many pack tests are administered?

Interesting question…
Possible formula:

# shot crews X 20
+ # organized non IHC crews X 20
+ # jumper bases X 30 [a guess]
+ # engine modules X 4.5 [averaged]
+ # Helitack crews X 15 [again, an average]
+ # contract hand crews X 20
+ # contract engines X 3
+ # overhead types not counted above
= LOW ESTIMATE of all FEDERAL pack tests
X 3 [to account for all non federal / uncounted pack tests administered]

I will try and flesh out this formula with numbers at a later date.

6/17 BLM Bob,

You are absolutely correct. As I stated in my post a few days ago, EKG's aren't the only test and they do sometimes provide false positives and negatives as you have stated. But they are the base level medical work required for a complete physical in the firefighting business.

You are correct to go with the facts as you know. This page allows us to share info and facts and I hope you might agree with some of the differing opinions....... EVEN ONLY ONE LIFE SAVED IS THE GOAL.... those of us who are speaking so freely are just speaking the facts and trying to make the wildland fire service safer. YOU ARE CORRECT.... this comes up each year as a discussion point.... it has not been corrected or mitigated.

Here's the REAL fact:

If someone shows up with a positive EKG for heart problems, a cardiac enzyme test is performed. If the cardiac enzyme test is positive for damage.... then there is a real problem for anyone taking a pack test. Additional tests are then used to determine if there are actual disqualifying factors. Either of these tests can be used before the either.....

(Note: the EKG and/or cardiac enzyme test are not required tests under current testing standards, even current USDI Medical standards except under extreme conditions.....)

The problem is..... NOBODY GETS THESE TESTS........ We keep killing firefighters year after year.... We also keep maiming countless others who do not die......

I agree that the WCT is probably the best test of physical fitness.... the pre-screening needs some improvements to better firefighter safety....

6/17 Gaviota Fire:

Started: June 5th
Contained: June 12th (or so)
7,440 Acres
Structures destroyed: 1 and 3 outbuildings
Highest personnel total day (from sit report): 1438
Ratio of personnel to acres: 5.17 acres for each person
Each acre suppression cost: 860.00 per acre
25+ Type I Crews (federal only)
Cost to date (June 12th): 6.4 million dollars
Type I CDF Team

Peppin Fire:

Started: 5/15 or 5/16
Contained: projected for 6/20
64,448 Acres
Structures Destroyed: 12
Ratio of personnel to acres: 95
Each acre suppression cost: 100.00
Highest personnel total day (from sit report): 672
11 to 12 Type I crews (highest total-federal)
Cost to date (6/16): 6.5 million dollars
Type II federal team

Do these number bother anyone? I know the ratios and such aren't hard science, but. . . Hard to believe CA is in debt.

CA Tax Payer

If CA taxpayers are not willing to do what is necessary for fire prevention on the interface ahead of time, NO, these numbers don't disturb me; they only reflect suppression reality. Unfortunately, it appears that taxpayers at a personal level are not so good at planning ahead. Ab.
6/17 Oliver Moore... Survive the Challenge, WONDERFULLY timely scenario. that would be a "Survivor" show I'd watch! thanks for putting it in perspective. LMAO!

One glaringly apparent misconception seems running rampant: basic EKG facts. an EKG taken at rest will only register blatant cardio problems; a treadmill EKG is a better indicator. there are more rigorous & expensive types - none of which the government will or should pay for when it comes to prescreening to ensure readiness for employment regardless of the individuals age.
enuff said

6/17 Dr. Gumby Phd.

I'll admit it. I don't know fire well enough to be able to specify safety zone dimensions. In most instances, it'll be like pornography, you'll know a safety zone when you see it even if you cannot define it.

However, until I can figure out why the 30-mile column came down as it did and other "theory of chaos" stuff.. I admit weakness and that 35 years of acquired instincts could fail me.

A couple years ago I would have said water, mid-thigh deep, that goes far out into a large lake would have been the perfect safety zone. I'm aware of just two wildland fire events where fatalities occurred when using water as a safety zone. Peshtigo, of course, and one of the 1910 fires where a snag hit and killed two firefighters that were in a smaller stream.

Of course, water is like all our other safety zones, fraught with inherent risks. Fast moving, deep with boots on, very cold with hypothermia resulting and so forth. But we've had three water safety zones events on our forest since 1979 and I know of several others elsewhere with positive results.

With time, even I can be taught. Last year on a local 21,000+ acre fire, that was dramatically plume dominated on the first day, we almost lost two County Sheriffs that were in the process of leaving a lake that they had just evacuated. Please see the photo that I have attached of one of the Jet Skis that was lifted from the lake by a vortices and slammed to the ground. What saved us here was one Sheriff had a hotshot background and he insisted to his pardner that they leave and not save the watercraft. Good call! The vortices lost energy quickly over water, but it still picked up two jet skis, perhaps 60 feet high, and trashed them.

As a matter of fact, I can't even avoid smoke around a campfire with 100% reliability. Could that be part of my problem?

What I do know is this: That on a high risk day in serious fuels. Four times the flame height is not and adequate radius.
{That is even before wind and slope are figured in, Slope = Wind: Wind = Slope are all the further I ever got with equations.}

Fuels Guy
6/16 Hey Ab,

One more thought .... still on the wct debate....
How many tests per year are administered? In Florida all Rangers are required to pass the moderate test just to keep their job, and of course any who want fed/ western details have to go for the arduous. So, think about this out of all the federal, state and local agencies out of all the cooperators, volunteers and hopefuls how many tests are given each year? You can't quantify how safe the wct is till you know. Because once you know then you could say 1 out of every ???? tests given. To me I figure people die everyday from heart attacks, some expected with a history and some as a complete shock. So unless someone can show that some significant number of test subjects are passing, then how do I know the wct is at fault?

How many people die every year of heart attacks while watching TV? Should TV be banned? You have to generate parameters to show a correlation.

And in response to the earlier post where the guy said he had almost never had to carry such a load and never for 45 minutes, you test for the worst case scenario, hopefully you will never be in that situation. How do you measure having to hike out of an area that is about to be overrun? The stress of being in danger mixed with elevation changes mixed with fatigue......a 15 minute hike under certain conditions with almost no pack can still kick your rear. So I submit that the WCT isn't made to perfectly duplicate what we do in the field, it is just a physical standard.

Ok I'm done on this subject. (until next year when we start arguing it again...)

Flash in Florida
6/16 HI Ramble,

Being a big guy certainly doesn't help you get through BUDS training - being fit in body and mind would be a better set of criteria. As a former Navy SAR Swimmer that had the honor and privilege to be trained by, and work with members of at least two different east coast teams I can tell you that they were incredibly fit, but their true strength comes from mental conditioning. Very few people in our society have ever been tested to the point of physical and mental exhaustion at the same time - BUDS is 52 weeks of it. While my 4 week SARS course only gave me a taste of that type of training regime would be like, it did allow me to explore the limits of my ability to think and act under high stress situations...Maybe that's why I love fighting fire....and for what it's worth my work out is 50 to 60 hours a week of urban interface fuels reduction...Isn't life great!

Be Smart, Be Safe,
6/16 KJC

A very passionate appeal!

"We shouldn't accept deaths by pack test. Period!", man am I sick of that rederrick! Of course we shouldn't accept deaths, but shouldn't we all listen to our wives when they say, "hey, fire season's coming up, go get your physical." It is all about the personal responsibility. Push your doc for the EKG, ask him/her for anything else they can think of. (or else they won't, they make the same rate of pay.) Other than that how will you know when your card is up? The WCT is not hard, yet people die. They could have had a hard attack heaving their SeaDoos into the river the next day. My point being, people die seemingly out of the blue. Is it something we can control? Sometimes, but not always. Let's use some common sense out there. 10 out of 10 people die. Period!

6/16 Hey all,

People dying taking the WCT is very unfortunate. But for a country with a death rate highest in obesity followed by heart disease, I don't feel it will ever be avoided. I think those numbers (WCT deaths) can be reduced by pre-examinations (yeah more costs) and better firefighter fitness.

If you're a wildland firefighter, it's important to have a personal exercise plan and dietary program (not including camp chow) in order to maintain a fitness level suited to the demands of the job. Simply put: eat right and exercise. Train year around and increase the intensity in the spring, avoid trans-fatty acids (partially hydrogenated oils) eat a balanced diet- meats, fish, breads cereals, fruits and veggie's. I don't want to sound like anyone's mother but with a good training program and diet, the WCT is just a sweaty formality for the upcoming fire season. This website offers some good links for training programs, don't forget to consult your doctor first.

I can't believe it's June 16th, my nomex is clean and my Wooly Buggers and Elk Hair Caddis aren't hanging from any tree branches....Still too much runoff.

General thoughts,
6/16 Hi:

It was called to my attention today that there was a mention on this
forum to the effect that Bullard's representative on NFPA 1977 was
"asleep at the switch" in voting in favor of the 20 ounce weight limit
in NFPA 1977, due to the Bullard FH911H helmet exceeding this weight.

While it is true that, at the time the weight limit went into effect at
the last NFPA 1977 revision in 1998, Bullard's FH911H was close to and
sometimes exceeded the limit and so was not certified for some time, I
thought it might be worthwhile to mention that this helmet has since
been redesigned and retooled to reduce its weight, and it has been
certified to NFPA 1977 for some time now, weight limit and all. Bullard
has no objection to the continuation of the weight limit, as we feel
that weight is one of a number of relevant factors to be considered in
evaluation of protective gear for wildland firefighters.

Richard A. Oleson
Senior Product Designer
6/16 Mop-Up ....Article 81...Fire fighting as a Reality TV show.

Jeff Probst! ...Hey dude do I have a new Television reality show for you. Forget Survivor Outback or Survivor All stars. How about a Survivor Fire Camp?

Contestants are assigned to 14 to 21 day stays in remote areas of the United States to battle each other and fire in a game of outthink...outwit...outlast. Alliances could be made to make sure you stay the maximum amount of time allowed. Overtime and food would be awards for tests of strength and endurance.

Some tribes would be required to sleep during the day and stay up all night long. Other tribes would complete arduous physical tasks during the day. Sleeping and working in temperatures of 100 degrees sounds like good TV doesn't't it Jeff?

To make it more interesting fire fighters could be placed in tribes they have never worked with. Fire fighters from Arizona could be placed with fire fighters from Washington State. Leaders would be assigned...there would be trust issues as the tribe competes to complete their tasks. Maybe the cameras would capture a heated discussion around the hood of a pick-up as contestants question the plans given to them. TV viewers would take sides. Arm chair and Monday morning quarterbacks could second guess the actions of the tribes.

Food challenges! Remember the Africa Survivor series Jeff? The contestants had to eat disgusting items. What better setting than a fire camp to reintroduce the TV audience to this little game of botulism.

Due to obvious reasons none of the reward challenges could include alcohol as an award. However, a good cup of coffee would be appreciated. Even cold water not delivered by a fish liberation tanker or Port-A-Pot company would be welcomed awards.

Some changes would need to take place to your format of using fire as a survival series icon. We generally have enough fire Jeff. What we don't have are the monsoon rains that appear in your other shows. A good heavy rain shower would be nice at Survivor fire camp Jeff.

I always enjoyed the memory tests in your Survivor shows. Fire camps would be great for this challenge. Contestants could memorize radio frequencies, names of other fire fighters and road systems. If this isn't't enough you can add drop off points, safety messages, shift plans and the party affiliation of the visiting politicians as they grab free media coverage during camp and fire line visits.

Jeff all I ask is... please don't send that trucker lady or the nude guy from the first survivor series. Both of those personalities couldn't't even hold a candle to the obnoxious actions of real fire fighters. Believe me you won't have to worry about stacking the deck to ensure controversy at a Survivor Fire Camp.

Keep an open mind to the possibilities Jeff. The puzzle piece challenges in your Survivor series will fit (no pun intended) with a fire camp/fire line survivor show. Contestants would have to identify resources to fight the fire and then place them at the right time and best locations to do the most good.

I think the part I would most like to see adopted from your Survivor Series is the camp council thingy...you know...the part of the show where the other tribe members vote and kick out another tribe member. Holy Cow...now that would be great!
I can think of a number of people who I would love to vote off the Island! I would begin with the food unit leader that ordered 56,000 Hoagie rolls and proceeded to have the kitchen serve everything on a bun. Steamed carrots in a Hoagie bun...hmmm another reward challenge?

Oliver Moore... Survive the Challenge...Be Safe
copyright held by Olive Moore Inc.
6/16 I have to be careful with the words I use in responding to the Navy Seal mentality response to the pack test.

I agree with the thought that firefighters need to be fit to do their job. Where I disagree and start to get more than a little concern is when the superman attitudes emerge. The hair coat...beat your chest invincible BIG men who end up in body bags because their ego's wouldn't allow less. My only hope is that these young people are putting as much effort into gaining experience on the line as they are in defending the pack test.

We shouldn't accept deaths by pack test. Period! I believe in evaluation of a persons ability to do the job, which would include physical and mental evaluations. I don't know the best way to test a persons physical fitness but we need to find an answer soon. If the mental evaluation was given to some of the more extreme defenders of a goose stepping big man only pack test club...they would fail. I would not hire them...Period!

I tired...the end of my career is near. I'm tired of wearing a black band across my badge...I'm tired of listening to bagpipe music...tired of thinking up new ways to express my condolences to families and I'm tired of going in circles over issues that need leadership.

A word of advice to the piss and vinegar group...By the grace of god you will be in my shoes one day. Knees and other joints that take longer to wake up and participate in daily activities. Hair, if you have any, is as gray as the ashes of a hardwood fire. I pray that you live long enough to experience this. It's not all bad...growing old allows you to look at life as a team event... It gives you the wisdom to make right choices.

Be safe...

6/16 Heh, people are still hittin' on that ol' WCT lure - it's every bit as
effective as a Wooly Bugger or a Elk Hair caddis on opening day.

Here's a little background so that people can focus their thoughts:

Federal agencies are already starting to provide medical testing for ffs
prior to taking the WCT - coming soon to a Geographic Area near you. (We've
been through this before here on TheySaid) It started in the Southwest a
few years back, then the Northwest has taken it on, and this year I believe
Alaska is jumping in. The DOI agencies in each Geo. Area are all going in,
the FS regions have been hit-or-miss - I think there may be some union
issues. So, if you're a fed and you haven't had to undergo medical
screening before taking the WCT, it's probably just a matter of time until
the medical standards program gets to you. Now read this:


And it seems the EKG isn't totally reliable. The BLM started out putting
higher-risk people though EKGs, but it turns out that there is a very high
false-positive rate (around 10%) and an even higher false-negative rate
(upwards of 25%) for EKG tests especially for women, so because of that BLM
gave it up except when recommended by doctor. A quick Google search for
ekg+false+positive+percent turns up some interesting articles:


Well, actually they're kind of boring, but buried in them is that EKGs have
a surprisingly high incidence of false results.

It's never as simple as it looks. Now, back to your regularly scheduled
argument over the WCT.

6/16 Re: WCT's


I appreciate your concern. But, |chica| please check your facts. NIOSH, MTDC, and private firms all have data about the WCT program. NOBODY IS WHINING ABOUT THE PROGRAM.... PEOPLE ARE JUST TRYING TO MAKE THE PROGRAM SAFER even though firefighters continue to die!!!!!!!!

Post accident reviews and coroners' summaries DO NOT support your claims that nobody would have known about pre-existing conditions or the stresses involved in work capacity tests. EKG's are cheap.... really cheap..... I'd love to hear where the $20,000 dollar cost came from.

Myself and others on the "TheySaid" page have given our views on how to make the program safer...., but we aren't Dr. Sharkey or Dick Mangan. I'd like to hear your views on how to make the program safer from your standpoint....

6/16 Ab,
can anyone make sense of the process to either stay certified as a c faller
or to regain your quals. I was signed off as a C faller in the fall of 2001
by the INF designated certifier. He had attended the Doug Dent class etc.,
and was actively involved with the regional committee. Last summer my c
faller status was yanked when he came back two years later and said that
there should have been a pro faller involved in the certification process as
well. I have looked everywhere and can't find anything that says I needed
one on scene in 2001. What do you know on this subject. Help!

6/16 Nerd on the Fireline:

Since when has anyone been able to compare a flat 3 mile course to a 3 mile 6% or greater slope and come to the same conclusion that they produce the same aerobic and anaerobic outputs? It is audacious to compare those two variables in the same equation. As for physicals, and I don't mean to be blunt, but EKG's DO show if your heart is good. Aside, from simple textbook Tachycardia, Bradycardia etc ( abnormal heart rhythms) they pick up all sorts of ARRHYTHMIAS, or wrongs in the heart beat pattern. So yep... if you don't have any, then your heart is fine. As for the competitive timing I do agree, it is our basic test, why not save the shins and take more of your allotted time? Ankles, Knees, and other joints, take responsibility for yourself, and your job and take care of yourself... Glucosamine chondritin is a big step in the right direction... but, even professional athletes have to take care of themselves once and a while, and I encourage all that are serious about their careers to do the same... take care of yourself or face the consequences.

NZ Helitack
6/16 Any "work related" fatality is heart wrenching for all of us in the firefighting community regardless of our relationship or degree of actual WFF involvement. Sincere condolences to family members who have lost loved ones and may be reading this debate about the WCT or any injury/fatality topics discussed in this forum.

Emotions aside: FINALLY, voices of reason with eloquence (thanks Flash in Florida, chica, KCP and others). yrs ago a boss told me "don't bring me problems, bring me solutions" equate that to the WCT debate. yrs ago a rookie Shot told me, "I don't want to be the weakest link in the chain"; the shorter in-seam length wasn't a consideration... if anyone missed the point, she didn't want to be a liability to co-workers.
No job is without hazards or without competency requirements for both physical and mental ability. everyone needs to take personal responsibility - this is the real world and safety nets are not optional.

One underlying thread is apparent, on this forum there is a mix of apples & oranges between the various agency perspectives by region & terrain....all fire, yet not all same. are the current Shots & Jumpers only lurking?

Heads up to VFDs in CA, check into what MOC4546 posted. the SAFE Act fire equipment resale program has been around a long time & it is a good program. if you aren't taking advantage of it, you are remiss.

Safe season all!
6/16 What is going on with the San Bernardino? Just heard that one of the Captains has filed a compliant of unfair hiring?

Here is what I heard, a VERY QUALIFIED person had put in for a GS-9 position and was denied because of nepotism and the job was given to a person who was an apprentice just a few years ago. Is this true?

I feel sorry for you guy's because you are going to eaten alive by this person.


Hang in there and I hope everything works out for you.....

Sign me rumor control
6/16 MH, on 6/15 said, and other posters have suggested the weight carried when taking the WCT should be based on a person’s body weight or size.

I think there are fundamental flaws in these ideas. From where I stand, if a person can’t carry 45 pounds strolling around a track on flat ground, I don’t want them anywhere near me on the fireline, nor would I ever want them on a crew I was on.

Some of the liberal, carefree, everyone who wants to be a firefighter should be able to be one, ideology seen here lately, would result in the weakest, puniest, most hazard prone group of firefighters ever seen. The most extreme example I can think of would be a “little person”, ok, what the heck, a dwarf, wanting to be a firefighter. There are probably some of them who could pass the test while carrying around 2 pounds of weight. If the image of a “little person” being on a hotshot crew doesn’t work for you either, then where exactly would you set a limit on the person-weight vs. WCT-weight?

I have always liked BIG firefighters, not fat ones, big ones, the bigger the better. Big and strong firefighters can outperform little and weak firefighters all the time, every time. Desire, motivation, and mental fortitude are also necessary attributes, but given equal quantities of each, the big firefighter will kick the little firefighters butt day in and out. I say let's adopt a more Navy Seal type of two week training/test to weed out the culls. Then, by God, you'd see some firefighters on the line!

Forget the “stress” issue. Who cares how stressed you get, either mental or physically? Big strong firefighters don’t get stressed over the WCT. Every time someone dies while taking the WCT this issue returns like a bad dream. I’ve seen nothing new from any angle this time, I’ll echo chica and say shaddup. Check the TheySaid Archives over the last four years, all your losing ideas and arguments are already there, since the inception of the "pack test".

As for the older, big strong firefighters who have sacrificed their knees and backs in their public service and are losing their jobs over not being able to pass the WCT, that’s a different issue involving job position descriptions vs redcard ratings. It is an issue well worth discussing and requires immediate change!

But I'd better go, before I
6/16 Retired Militia Dog,

I recently asked the same questions you have. I was led to understand that a PAL of “A” allows all types of cutting. A PAL of “C” restricts the cutting of dead wood, and so on. Other than that, the information is still sketchy. We have been told that we will follow the PAL for our project work. It actually sounds more restrictive than the SAL [which existing timber contracts are still following.]

Any help?

6/15 Those advocating for EKG and other tests paid for by the government or other
employers regarding the pack test need to get their hands around these facts:

People ranting about the pack test fatalities over the last few years, though
those were totally unfortunate and regrettable and all that, need to consider
this. I checked into the background of some of those who caved on the WCT and
they did not have any semblance of medical condition that would have been
detected with a regular checkup or physical or EKG or other standard medical
testing. The condition that killed several of them would have been identified
only with about $20,000 worth of medical specialized testing. (And this came
from the aftermath after they were dead, from people who saw the medical
reports.) Several of these fatalities had already passed the (honest)
fill-out form deal and had also passed the smarter-agency (read that DOI and
not USFS) testing. The testing that would have found their particular
specialized individual health problems run about 20 grand. It's not that the
agencies don't WANT to do this kind of testing, or REFUSE to do
this level of testing, or don't have the capability to do such
testing, it's just that they do not HAVE twenty grand apiece to thoroughly
check out individual red-carded firefighters.

Sorry, but that's the reality check.

To those of you still harebrainedly ranting about the pack test, what's your
proposed solution? The best and brightest and most long-term grounded folks
in the nation have worked for YEARS on this. Who the hell do you think you
are, questioning that? Read up on the (easily available) documentation, and
until you've helped them come up with something better, or more appropriate,
or more accurate, or more applicable to fire, then please shuddup and deal
with it.

6/15 Hi,
I just saw your website for the first time today and
without mincing words, it kicks as$!! I will be
starting my first wildland assignment with USFWS in
Region 6 within 2 weeks as a Range Aid/Firefighter.
I've got 15 years in the field, mainly structural, but
with some wildland training and small brush fire
experience in the mix as well. I was e-mailing to
comment on the photo portion of your site, especially
the handcrew section 9 area. I am a graduate of the
Tulare Kings Fire Academy in Central California (2000)
and I remember pushups all too well!!!!!!!!!!!!! When
we did our wildland module at Lake Success, we all
got dropped for bad line construction, bungling a
progressive hose lay, and the fact that we called an
"inappropriate cadence" while climbing a ridge :-)
Like you said, it pays to be careful. Anyway, you got
a great site here, keep up the good work.

6/15 Mollysboy.

2004 Volvo S-60 and a 2004 Toyota Tundra (safest truck in America).....;)

Just about a year ago I had 3 lbs. of titanium rods and screws added to my
lumbar spine. I run 3 to 4 miles a day....shuffle really....But I feel it's
important to stay in shape. Now I don't think I "should" take the pack test,
although I'm sure I could pass it. The point is that I STAY IN SHAPE. Why
should we feel that the government (local or federal) should foot the bill
for all of this. Again I get the distinct impression that the blame for this
death should be shouldered by management. Why not? That seems to be the
theme these days. There is a thing called personal responsibility!

I recall a few years ago, as a jumper, that on Monday morning I took the PT
test...no questions asked. On Tuesday, however, I couldn't take the WCT
because I answered the questions honestly. Had I experienced shortness of
breath in the last 6 months? Well, hell yes on Monday morning! I haven't seen
the new questions, but I can't imagine they are much better. For instance,
would Pepto Bismol tablets knock you off the list?

But I'm afraid that no matter what "intervention" is done before the WCT is
taken, there will be an occasional fatality. There are heart defects that can
not be seen without a stress EKG test, and as someone else pointed out people
die in the Dr.s office on these things too. Age isn't always the best
indicator. 9 years ago they found my brother on the floor in front of the
door to his office. Keys in the knob.....age 31. He was in pretty darn good
shape, and saw his Dr. regularly.

I do agree that the test is not necessarily "fair". Certainly a person the
weighs a buck-twenty is at a disadvantage to the one that has a 38 in. inseam
and weighs 190. But it's not a race. If you are really stressed (pardon the
pun) over this, then maybe your body and mind is telling you something.

P.S. I did look at the Audi A-6, but it was for my wife.....
6/15 This is an Information Notice for those of you volunteer fire agencies and districts in California.

The State of California Office of Emergency Services (OES) is making available the sale of several used OES Type 2 3-man cab fire engines for sale under the State Assistance for Fire Equipment Act (SAFE ACT) program. These engines are between 1973-1977 International FleetStar chassis models (affectionately known as "Tuna Boats") with 1000GPM, 800 Gallon Tank, Allison automatics with either Catapiller 3208 or 1160 diesel engines, and includes an amount of hose and equipment. All engines are CHP inspected and repairs made prior to sale.

These units are not without cost in that the asking price is $15,000 each, with a down payment of $5000.00 and up to $10,000.00 financed over five years at 1.0% annual interest.

You can contact the OES Fire & Rescue Branch at 916-845-8711 or go to www.oes.ca.gov for more information. The application can be obtained here. The application process rates each applying agency based on need, ability or operate and maintain the engine, and the ability to provide for financing. They will give everyone who applies a rating then offer those chosen the chance to come down and examine and operate the engine that will be offered, and chose to accept or reject it.

They will be looking strongly at who really needs it, so if you just got a new engine with some of that Federal Fire Act money you'll probably find yourself at the bottom of the list.

These engines were set up for both structure and wildland firefighting by OES and used probably a handfull of times each year by the guest agency who housed it. This is a good deal for a poor department, and at the worst that can happen is they say "No".

I hope this information can assist our brother volunteer firefighters located in the forest and foothill areas of California.

6/15 Hey Ab!

I haven't spoken for a while so I wanted to jump into the same old WCT debate
to pound my favorite point... it seems a recurring theme to have
someone want the wct to be adjusted based on body size or age. I
think this is a horrible idea.

The fact is the job facing you doesn't care if you are 100 or 200 pounds
20 30 or 40 years old.. it simply is the job facing you.
I think it is fair to offer that bladderbags are commonly used on wildland
fires. These are filled with 5-6 gallons of water at a little better that
8lbs per. hmmm that 45lb test makes more sense doesn't it?
I hope anyone with a love of firefighting feels welcome to help, but all
people are not suited to all tasks. From the "honey-dippers" to the IC
there are a lot of jobs on the fire that have different fitness
requirements, so if someone can't make the WCT at arduous, then they need to
look for different ways to serve.

I have been on the hill, in the middle of the moment, and had to step up
physically. I have been asked to hump rolls of hose up the side of mount
motherfxer for a hoselay to nowhere, then been sent back to bring the
mark3, I have had to carry someone else's saw and gear along with mine, and
once had a teammate that had to be carried to the nearest road.
The weight of the bladderbag/ hose/ tree/ partner/ yadah yadah.... doesn't
care how old or how slim/heavy you are.

I don't know if the WCT is the best test or if there is something better
around the corner, but I do believe that lowering standards to accommodate
age/ build etc. would be a mistake.

Thanks for the voice!!!

Flash in Florida
6/15 I have just heard about another heart attack a few hours after taking the pack test in Bridger, MT.
This was with the Bridger Vol. F/D. My condolences go out to the family. This apparently
happened on 6/8/04, as it is posted on the national line of duty death role call.

6/15 New contracts for timber sales and new contracts seem to have what is called
the "Project Activity Level" built in and older sales and contracts have the
"Sale Activity Level". The SAL is being phased out. I have done searches
seemingly everywhere without finding out what the PAL levels of Alpha,
Bravo, Charlie, Delta . . . . . . stand for. Can anyone out there tell me
where to find the explanation of the various Project Activity Levels? I've
done Google searches, searches on the USFS site, looked through the FS
manual and handbooks, and have come up blank. Can anyone steer me to a
website that will tell me?

Retired Militia Fire Dog

Ab will pass the info on.

6/15 Re: WCT and physicals
As a local government manager, I require all of my personnel to pass the WCT
for wildland firefighting. Unfortunately, it is still considered optional
for local agencies in this state. Before electing to do that, I also
instituted compliance with NFPA medical standards, which goes above the
requirements for screening in the WCT. The cost is about $150 per person per
year. The third leg of fitness is a fitness program, which we also make
available, although we do not mandate it.

If we did not utilize this medical screening, we would probably not lose a
firefighter to a heart attack. The odds are slight. However, by utilizing
fitness testing and screening upfront, we have reduced the cost of training
"dropouts", reduced our injury rate, and reduced our injury and fatality
risk. Overall, the cost has been worthwhile.

Past reviews of fireline fatalities have shown that volunteer firefighters
(which make up over half my firefighters) suffer a disproportionately high
rate of cardiac and other fitness related fatalities and injuries. I think
that alone speaks to the need at the local level for improved screening. If
I had the luxury of hiring from the same pool of candidates that Baker River
Hotshots do, I would be less concerned. I ask a lot of my firefighters. To
say that I will not do whatever is reasonable to ensure their safety would
be not upholding my end of the bargain.

Food for thought.

6/15 What I was getting to on the Fairness part is if you are going to set up a
test to stress a person for fittness then make it designed for the weight
and frame size of the person. So if you want 45 lbs to be the starting point
use that. Now for the person who weighs 190 lbs they should carry more
weight to offset there being stronger built if you want to test there true
stress point. Percentage of body weight verses weigth carried to get the
same resaults no mater what you weigh. To get into the Los Angeles Police
Forse you have to do 2 pull ups now I can whip out 25 in a row no problem
due to my size and a larger person has a problem doing that. I saw big
strong guys having a problem doing 2 of them. There are things smaller
people can do better than larger people and reverse of that is true also. So
if it is a true stress test we need to stress people according to there size
to get the heart rate up same for both, then it is a fair test of the bodys
capabiltys that is what I am talking about. There are plenty of different
jobs to do on the fires with different stress levels so that is why they
have different standards for each. Not everyone is going to pack in and
shovel dirt all day cutting lines. I belive those jobs are for the young
guys in great shape wanting to do that. Leave the other less stressful jobs
for older guys to do. Just because you get older it is not a reason to not
be fighting fires or all the Fire Crews would loose there experianced people
in no time with only kids on the line!
6/15 MH, thank you for making the statements about the weight requirement limits.
During my firefighting career I have never consistently carried 45lbs
(probably around 30-35lbs). I have carried piss pumps but I have never been
asked to carry it from point A to point B in 45min (not saying that it has
never happened for other folks). Safety has always been stressed, especially
when heat was a factor. I, also, am a small stature person and have a very
difficult time w/ the WCT. I do not, however, fall into any of the five
catagories that JSJ listed. I do believe that physical fitness is a must and
that everyone should maintain a 'level' of persistent training. When I first
started w/ the FS, I was handed several pamphlets regarding the purpose of,
the training for, and the expectancy of the arduous pak-test. Within one of
those pamphlets it was clearly stated that people of smaller stature and
lighter weight would find this test to be more of a challenge then other
people of larger stature. Now, I have noticed that there are some people who
do not workout (or maintain an active physical regime) before the test date
and pass, others workout extensively and still struggle. Are the people who
do not 'train' for the test in better shape b/c they do not struggle, or am
I more physically fit b/c I am required to carry almost 40% of my body
weight thus exerting almost twice as much energy? But, that is the way the
ball bounces.

Point is, that no one should have to worry about their life when they step
out onto the track to take a 'test'. If I knew that I would die during my
next pak-test, you can bet that I wouldn't show up. To me that is not a
glorious or, even remotefully, useful way to die.

6/15 This question goes out to the R5 Dispatch World, especially the south half.
I have been told that R5 South Zone has a new Off-Forest (Out of Region)
policy. I am a Capt. On an IHC. Traditionally, this time of year, crews are
sent to R3 under severity. We typically get spread out through the region
and do project work until a fire breaks. I personally have done this for
several years. Currently, my crew was sent to R3 under severity. We have
been here for 24 hrs and now R5 South Zone is saying we need to come home.
According to them, they have a policy (agreement) that states if a crew is
not assigned to a fire within their first 24 hours out of region, that
region must send the crew home. When the our Supt. called South Zone, they
said we have project work at home we can do, not R3's and that we would need
to be assigned to a fire within that 24 hours or come home. Has anyone
heard this policy (agreement) or are we the first?

R5 DirtMiner
6/15 Re money and the WCT, etc:

Anybody who doesn't think money is an issue for the Feds has never sat in on
a district management team meeting trying to stretch the numbers every way
possible to keep people off the unfunded list, engines staffed and
campgrounds open. Since many of the fire hiring decisions are made at the
most local level for most agencies, I can guarantee that decisions will be
made to save money.

No, I would never say money is worth more than a life, but if the health
screening questionnaire is revamped slightly (get rid of the catch-all
questions like asking if someone takes OTC medicine), done very early so
people take the time to get in shape prior to the WCT, the program can work

Still Out There as an AD
6/15 "Outside the Box" says that $$ should not be an issue, and that if it saves just one life "it's worth it to me".

So, a question or two for everyone: first, are you willing as a local taxpayer to bear the increased costs of a first-class medical screening program for your volunteer, local county, Rural and State Forestry agencies fire programs? If so, start the ball rolling by going to your local media, county commissioners, rural & volunteer fire department: get a citizens initiative on the ballot for a mill levy; make it happen if you believe in it. Don't expect "Big Government" at the Federal level to suck up the local costs.

Second, for everyone that says that $$ should not be an issue, do you "walk the walk", or just "talk the talk"? Is your personal vehicle a Volvo, proven in numerous studies to be the world's safest car? If not, why not?? Do you do everything you can to insure the safety of yourself and your loved ones while driving, even if it means spending lots of $$ on a Volvo? Or, are you willing to commit $$ from "the government" for safety, while not spending $$ out of your own pocket for safety?

Just some food for thought.............!

6/15 Aberdeen, re "full physical exams for everyone that takes the WCT, including a Stress EKG"

All I can say is IF WE SAVE ONE LIFE!!!! It was cost efficient and medically necessary. You need to snap back to reality and rediscover the original intent of IMPROVING WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER SAFETY.

Regarding "knowledgeable Medical folks" ..... every doctor that I've shown the HSQ to says it must be some type of joke if they know the wildland firefighter job. EVERY FIREFIGHTER is at risk.... CO exposure, aldehide exposures, repetitive stress, poor fatigue management, and calorie laden meals in fire camp.

Regarding a stress EKG and doctors not wanting to administer one, every doctor that I've talked to would recommend one for anyone undertaking the "stress test" that the federal agencies are requiring.

Regarding your concerns over Dollars and Cents, most of the dept.'s that you have concerns about $$$'s DO NOT REQUIRE WCT's. 310-1 and 5109.17 each state that "WE" accept local agency standards for certification and qualification.

Committed to safety and the facts,

6/15 NZ Helitack;

I disagree. In my area, it routinely takes longer to hike into a fire
than it does to dig line around it. The faster pack test pace pretty
decently duplicates the strain of hill-climbing and of longer hikes, and
while 45 pounds is pretty heavy for a line pack, it's not unrealistic
for what we actually wind up carrying. I don't like the pack test,
personally (and I'm not a whiner, or out of shape; I just find it
tedious and I haven't seen a weight vest really well designed for a
woman yet), but I do think it's a fairly realistic test. The thing about
the medical tests I've seen is that they tend to tell you that there's
nothing WRONG...they don't tell you if things are going RIGHT. A heart
monitor can't tell you you're not having a heart attack; it can just
tell you if you are. And I haven't seen a good test for bad knees and
wonky ankles besides going out and seeing if you can use 'em. One thing
I do object to is the folks who get competitive about it. The target
time is 45 minutes, folks; there's nothing heroic about doing it in 30
minutes, you're just wasting effort, and wasted effort has no place on a
sixteen hour shift.

Nerd on the Fireline

This Ab likes competition.
6/15 Hey Aberdeen...

your figures and MTDC's figures don't jive with the NIOSH figures on
wildland firefighter heart attacks and deaths in the last twenty years.....

Who should we believe? technology development center (MTDC) or the
national institute of occupational safety and health (NIOSH)?

Rogue Rivers
6/15 Aberdeen,

Comparing $$$'s to firefighter safety. You must be an agency WO staff or field employee. Seems for many it comes down to..... $$$$ dictating policy....... Common sense, firefighter safety, and protection of the resources are forgotten traits of the wildland firefighter.

Ab, here's a quote that I heard on the radio the other day....... It's a good firefighter quote...

"If you are twenty and are not a liberal, you don't have a heart. If you are forty and not a conservative, you don't have a brain." Sir Winston Churchill


6/15 How do you know when it is spring time? People start complaining about the WCT.

"S" hit the nail on the head, when he said people need to take some personnel responsibility. If you are having doubts about your health or getting a little long in the tooth go spend a few bucks at the Docs (you will get the money back when you cash that first overtime check).

And for the folks who think the WCT is unfair because of your size, weight, age, sex or what ever, just remember when you get to the fire everyone has to climb the same hill, swing the same tool or carry the same hose pack so everyone should have to do the WCT.

The WCT is not as hard as what we have to do on the line. If someone goes down while taking the WCT they would have gone down on the fire line.

6/15 Food for thought.

Since 2001 there has been 5 deaths during the WCT.

3 State employees
2 Local Fire Companies
0 Federal

Where does the problem lay?

Still Thing Outside The Box
6/14 Aberdeen,

CDF does not participate in the WCT, but should. What
is the difference between the SRV, Southwest FFs.
NOTHING, we all deserve a higher degree of medical
screening. Thats just this guy's opinion.

But here is a question I will look into and ask you to
do the same. Of the 22 heart attack fatalities what
percentage from each agency were these? My guess is
State and local crews, are higher than federal, but
thats just a guess.

$$ should not be an issue here. If we could of saved
one of those 22 lives it's worth it to me.

Think Outside the Box

The Southwest FFs are BIA, hence still Federal, I think.

6/14 Re: WCT

Concerning the fatalities that have occurred taking the Pack Test, there seems to be lots of folks that support full physical exams for everyone that takes the WCT, including a Stress EKG. Lots of folks want Paramedics, ALS, etc at every test site, too. Most of the comments seem top be coming from folks that are Feds with the USFS or USDI.

Another perspective: first, the knowledgeable Medical folks will tell you that for most folks, the physicals are unnecessary if the HSQ is filled out honestly. Also, most Docs will NOT give the Stress EKG except under medically necessary conditions: lots of folks die taking Stress EKG's, even in a Doctor's Office!

And then there is the $$ issue: for Feds, it's not a big item, but there are many wildland firefighters that aren't Feds. Take my home State for example: geographically large, with less than 1,000,000 people in 56 counties. More than 80% of our fire departments are volunteer/rural, and all have wildland suppression responsibilities, as well as working on Interagency fires around the West. We still have "bake sales" to buy equipment, and get our engines from the FEPP surplus program in many cases. Where will the $$ come from to pay for these costly, and may times medically unnecessary, exams and support folks at the WCT test site?

How about the California inmate crews? SRV Farm Laborers? Montana and Southwest Indian firefighters? Contractors? Even State crews? Do they all deserve this level of medical screening, and at what cost?

The WCT is the National Interagency standard for wildfire positions, agreed upon by all the NWCG players. Mandatory Medical screening as is being suggested should go through the same process, with all the cooperating Federal, State, Rural and Volunteers laying out the implications to their agencies/departments.

According to the MTDC study on Wildland firefighter fatalities, 28 heart attack fatalities occurred on wildland fire activities between 1990 - 1998; in the following 5 years (1999 - 2003), another 22 heart attack fatalities occurred, 5 of those from the WCT.

50 fatalities in 14 years: looks like there's a bigger problem than the WCT??


Dick Mangan, Thanks for the info on NFPA 1977 Standards for wildland helmets.

Sorry, I missed this last PS first time around. Original Ab and I tipped one too many brewskies this evening and I was distracted by the excellent company. Ab.

6/14 Ab,

Congratulations to Mark Warnick, founder of Helping Our Own, as recipient of
the 2004 Stihl National Forestry Heroism Award. For those that don't know,
Mark was a VFD assistant chief in Missouri when he started this great
organization that helps small fire departments around the country get the
equipment that they couldn't otherwise afford. Visit their website at

vfd cap'n
6/14 A little late this morning getting the new posts up. . .ok, REAL late! Speaking of posting, when sending in posts, please put something in the Subject line of your email. Most emails with blank subject lines get auto-filtered to the junk folder. Including TheySaid in the line would be a big bonus! Thanks, Ab.
6/14 I was wondering if the rumors are true about a 16 hour refresher next season for 2005 if so were is the information on what to teach and how this is to be accomplished

6/14 TOTB,
>From what you've said about folks intentionally checking fewer boxes to
avoid a required physical......sounds like a problem of integrity of those
employees. The HSQ and any physical exam will both require honest
responses from firefighters in order to get the best results. Falsifying
an HSQ (by failing to check appropriate boxes) and/or concealing health
information during an exam does create increased risk, and as you say,
places greater risk on our co-workers. They are in effect falsifying their
"qualifications", and if they'll lie about "physical fitness" quals, what
else will they lie about?
I don't want to work with folks who do this, and I hope you will not
tolerate such behavior.
There's a saying: "It all comes down to integrity. If you have it,
nothing else matters. If you don't have it, nothing else matters."

Old Fire Guy
6/14 NZ HELITACK you and others have said same; some continue to clammer for more
assurances. the WCT isn't best method nor is it administered equally
everywhere. when does an individual take responsibility for personal health
clearances before it's WCT time and the associated mental stress?

sorry Ab(s) et al. as much as we'd all like guarantees, it isn't gonna
happen; whether WFF or other real life situations in general. if I were a parent
who's kid wanted to be a groundpounder, for sure I'd make sure my "get" was
evaluated by a competent MD as my best gift for success to peruse their goal.
*L* along with a pair of good boots!


6/14 AB; Some of us haven't any problems with our Hearts but the knees are
starting to wear out over the years. So we can carry the weight no problem
but at the speed they want it done it is hard on the guys with worn Knees
and Ankles. If they want to test the Heart go ahead but why stress the
joints to the limints that only most young guys can still do with the
weight? As far as a Tender Opperator you are not going to be packing 45 lbs
on your back while you work. I watched the guys doing the pack test and
everyone of them looked beat when they were done! I saw them fail the walk
test too because of being out of shape or to heavy. Short guys like me have
to take a lot more steps to keep up with the long legged ones, so should
they carry 65 lbs and do a longer course to make it fair? 45 lbs on a 128 lb
frame is not the same as 45 lbs on a 190 lb frame lets just make this test
fair for all. Another thing if I have to run from a fire I sure am not going
to carry my pack doing it! Just a Tender Opperators point of view who took
the walk test in 13 mins.

Thanks, MH

6/14 Thanks for all your help guys! I did alot of research at the station last
night on the NFPA Standards for Wildland Firefighter Training. I am going to put
together a letter and present it to the chief. I just don't want our guys,
including me going out blind and possibly getting one of us killed because we are
untrained in this field..

Union Steward
DOD Firefighter
6/14 Howdy Abs

There I was watching the Cubbies and the Angles battle it out when the house filled with smoke and the wind started blowing harder. As a very experienced wildland firefighter my spidey senses began to tingle. (Well that and Tanker 78 and AA 430 over the house.)

Abandoning the game, I sprang to the second story window looking west and I spotted the first below the house, thank God I'm home grass fire of the 2004 fire season in my neck of the wood-land oaks.

It would appear CDF has this blaze well in hand judging from the lack of excess smoke over the fire and the fact that T78 has not dropped his load yet. WHEW! Go CDF!

Now if the rest of this summer goes this easy I'll be a very happy home owner! Lets's all remember we have a very long way to go this year and to be safe, remember safety first last and always and keep 'em small!
Captain Emmett,

Living on the edge in the wildland urban interface

6/13 Personally, I believe that the pack test is at best a far cry from what we as firefighters routinely encounter during wild land fire suppression. Yes, there should be more invested when screening individuals for firefighting( EKG, VO2 Max etc.) but, the sad fact is that these batteries cost a lot of money, in which the agencies, at this time do not want to invest on every firefighter. If people are having trouble in passing the pack test, should they actually be engaged in the stresses of actual suppression? Come on folks, realize that the pack test IS NOT in any situation anywhere close to real fire suppression activities.
6/13 Just Waiting,

I'm USFS in R-5 now and came from USFS in R-3, and it
was the same both places. Fill out the HSQ, and don't
check too many boxes so you don't have to take a

In my opinion all line fire personal should take the
arduous test including water tender drivers, safety
officers, and anyone getting hazard pay or walking out
there on the line. But only after a complete
physical. Lets get rid of the HSQ and give everyone a
physical. When it comes to our personal safety money
should not be an barrier! It's putting all of our
lives at risk when someone goes down on the line.


It good to get the Wildland Urban Interface
Class(S-215), but do you have a qualified ICT3 to
teach it as required in the NWCG instructors manual?

Thinking Outside The Box
6/12 moc4546

Region 6 tender operators are required to pass the WCT at the light level only. 1 mile walk, no pack in
16 minutes. To me it should be at the moderate level, as they (ODF & FS) will put the operators out
working at times and there are some that are not hardly able to do the light test. This year the test were
monitored, which dropped some out of the running as they were passing their own test in the past, and
they would not have been qualified it they were monitored.

6/12 MOC4546, In R-5, there are 2 kinds of Fed water tenders. Initial Attack agency Tenders
are usually 1500 gal, and have a crew of 2, these positions need the ARDUOUS test
Support tenders are usually 3000 gal. and have 1 operator, these require the MODERATE
test, so it depends on the type of resource.

6/12 WCT

TOTB, I don’t know where you work but the people who have had to see the Dr. around here have to go
through all those test procedures that you mentioned. So the physicals and HSQ seem to be doing the job.
We have a N.P. through all the HSQ’s and make referrals as she sees fit, she takes her job seriously and is

WCT is not perfect but I guess it is better than the old step test. Need some fires so we have something else
to yak about.

Just Waiting
6/12 MOC4546,
Here in R-6 (if I'm not mistaken) I believe that tender operators only have to pass the pack test
at the light level (walk with no weight) but I know it is no more than the moderate level.

6/12 DoD Firefighter,

The scary part to me in your situation is you said your department has no training in wildland, I understand how certification could be an issue (money) but I hope that your department is not actually sending you guys out without any training even if its just the experienced FF training those without wildland experience. I'd suggest two books to at least get a start (both available through this site and Amazon.com)

Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting
by William C. Teie

In my opinion this is the best book on wildland firefighting out there.

Structure Protection in the I-Zone: Focusing Your Wildland Experience for the Urban Interface
by George Bradford
If your department will be sending Type 1 engines (structure pumpers) and doesn't have much practical experience with the wildland I'd suggest giving this book a look, it specifically targets firefighters in that situation.

You also might check the forum over at DoDFire www.dodfire.com/index.php.I know the Army has policies regarding Redcard certification and there are knowledgeable people from all of the DoD branches that frequent that site.


I think the WCT is a great test but I agree too many people are dying for no good reason, there is no excuse for not giving every wildland firefighter a good medical screening each year and having at a minimum an EMT with a defib standing by, medics would be preferable. It seems like 2 or 3 people have died each year from this test (at least equal to the tankers that have become an issue). I hope the mention of DOI giving a real medical to their people is accurate and followed up by all other agencies Fed, state and local, paid, and volunteer.

6/12 For DOD firefighter re: red card quals

There's been a bit of discussion lately about necessary quals to go out on
an assignment. I think one of the misconceptions is in the use of the slang
'red card'. For the uninitiated, all a red card is is a list of your
qualifications. You could have a red card and have zero line quals. It's
what those quals are that counts.

Ideally, all members of your strike team should be qualified according to
NWCG 310-1 standards. www.nwcg.gov/pms/docs/310-1new.pdf I'd want
to see all members have the basic firefighter classes and the officers have
intermediate fire behavior, air ops, fire in the interface, etc. That
doesn't always happen or need to happen. Heck, it doesn't happen with
municipal fire departments in California. If you're somewhere that air ops
aren't typically used and your strike team isn't going to drive somewhere
they are, don't worry about air ops. In R-3 you're certainly going to see
air ops. If you were at say the Sub Base in Groton, CT you wouldn't.

Ask around your department. Many DOD structural firefighters are former
wildland firefighters. Many move around from base to base. Maybe someone
there has the training to help build your program.

6/12 I have a friend who will be retiring next year from a California Fire Protection District who has a heavy
background in wildland and urban interfae firefighting, and is a California Fire Mechanics Instructor. He
plans to spend his summers camping with his wife up in one of the national forests in Region 5.

He asked me about working as a seasonal firefighter for the Forest Service and was particularly
interested in working on a water tender or in the shop. He is still physically fit and wants to stay in the

The question he wants to know is if you work on a water tender or other support roll like this, what
is the fitness level for that position? Is it arduous (the top level) or the medium level?

6/12 Jeff,

Red Card certification is all that is generally required for WUI assignments. In some states, a valid Red Card is required, while some states still allow “structural” firefighters to be assigned to WUI incidents without a red card. That is becoming less and less the case.

As far as the training needed to safely function in a WUI assignment, as a minimum all members of a strike team should have S215 Wildland Fire Operations in addition to basic firefighter training. (Key word is “should”. Not a requirement.) Obviously, engine bosses and strike team leaders should all be certified at the appropriate level. That is probably the key point to safety on a strike team – adequately trained supervision. If your agency does not have trained, qualified and experienced strike team leaders, then arrangements must be made to ensure that one is assigned to work with you.

Unfortunately, I can’t help you with Arizona requirements – you may consider contacting the State Fire Marshal or State Lands Fire Management Division for answers to your questions. Generally, states are responsible for WUI events or manage the mutual aid/mobilization procedures – even if the adjacent land is federal. If your agency is making arrangements to become available on a mobilization plan of some type, then they should be provided the requirements by the coordinating agency.

6/12 OK, I'm probably opening a can of worms here, but as I understand it, the health screening procedures are set up so people can begin a fitness program prior to the WCT. If this were enforced, people would be screened AND fit prior to even trying the fitness test. When I took the fitness test, we turned in the health screening questionaire moments before taking the test. I think this may be the real problem.

No doubt, there are still problems with the program. I betcha people will get turned away (especially us ADs) because local units are not going to want to pay for exams for those who are honest enough to say they take any medicine. A buff 20-year-old who takes pimple medicine would have to check a box in the top section and be told he doesn't meet "the established HSQ criteria."

Still Out There as an AD
6/12 R2 Fireguy:

Im not sure if anything other than agency memorandums
are provided for the dissemination of U.S. Department
of Transportation regulations on the exemption dealing
with the recommendations on the air transport of
HAZMAT on federal wildland fire incidents. Each
season, it seems the DOT will simply issue these
'recommendations' to the U.S. Department of the
Interior and Department of Agriculture for specifics
on transport and they will change frequently based on
bureaucratic decisions. I've seen some information on
the www.OAS.gov, specifically dealing with the
transport of personnel and hazmat:


You can also browse www.DOT.gov and ignite their
search engine.

6/12 WCT

All DOI employees [I believe] were hooked up to an electrocardiogram
this spring prior to being cleared for duty. The USDA is 1-2 years behind,
but on the same track.

I would love to see paramedics, ALS, and/or an AED at pack test sights.
In the mean time, I will continue to take the pack test, fill out the required
forms, and do the best job on earth.


6/12 NorCal Tom and others:

Regarding airtankers returning to service: I am on a fire assignment (head down, on the ground) and from what little I have heard the jury seems to be out on the effect of the DynCorp deal with USFS. My left seat last week, a currently furloughed P-3 tanker driver, seemed to think that getting the P-3's and some of the others inspected and flying again is a no-brainer. After all, his employers maintain and inspect airframe issues on U.S. Navy P-3's of the same vintage. We haven't grounded them yet.

We will just have to see what the USFS/WO comes up with now. The best place I know to watch is your USFS email and bulletin boards and the AAP page.

6/11 Hey all,

Any rotor heads out there (or anyone else for that matter) know where
I can get up-to-date haz mat info related to helicopter use on fires? A
web site perhaps?

Thanks much!

6/11 WCT

Well I see TOTB and Lobotomy got my drift on the WCT.

Glad to see it stimulated someone's thinking!

6/11 WCT

It's not the test that should be changed. All
crewmembers on our shot crew got below 40 mins
including the 55 year old Supt with half in the 35 min
range. The HSQ is a joke. If you check more than two
boxes you have to go and get a physical, and most know
not to check too many boxes to avoid the physical.
For the physical itself is a joke and needs to be more
through and include an electrocardiogram, a stress
test, as well as a treadmill test based on risk

Thinking Outside The Box
6/11 V.P. IAFF Local F-106,

I appreciate your concern about wildland firefighter qualifications and safety. A former IAFF Local F-262 sought to help but was derailed and subsequently left the IAFF due to lack of support. F-262 was instrumental in current law and pay practices being passed for DoD firefighters on the wildland firefighters' coat tails.

The "former F-262" is more than happy to help you get your proper wildland firefighter training before serving as a firefighter, company officer, or strike team leader on wildland fire incidents.

NWCG 310-1 and FS 5109.17 offer the qualification standards. But be aware, IAFF is very distrusted due to their actions in the past. IAFF 16th District is a birdie voice on this page-- Ask for help officially and you will receive-- WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS ARE 16.000 STRONG and represented by the FWFSA!!!!!

Former IAFF
6/11 Old Man Of the Dept and JSJ, and My Ducks Are in a Row,

I agree with you that the WCT (Pack Test) is still the best measure of FITNESS around for wildland firefighters, but we should ALSO be concerned with the general health and safety of our firefighters. WE DON'T WANT A FIREFIGHTER TO DIE ON THE HILLSIDE OR THE WCT TRACK.

My problem with the work capacity test rests on two things that MUST be changed to increase the safety of the WCT program. We have killed more people by WCTs than the 30 Mile and Cramer fires combined. This is unacceptable to the wildland fire community as a whole.


1) The Pre-Screening (Health Screening Questionnaire and limited SF-71 medical) (cost driven), and
2) The On Scene Medical Providers (EMTs) (cost driven)

The pre-screening and testing of applicants and employees (even those under 40) should consist of cardiac blood work and a stress EKG. These pre-screenings are under the supervision of people who are qualified to perform Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS or ALS).

Paramedics, at a minimum, should be required at testing sites to ensure rapid ACLS or ALS intervention.

If we save even ONE life.... it's worth the expenditures.


P.S. - If the Agencies don't implement changes soon... I'd hate to think how many more people will die..... Each spring and summer since the WCT has been implemented, we hear of these firefighter fatalities and no significant changes have been made. THESE FATALITIES CAN BE PREVENTED when it comes to WCTs!!!!!! JSJ.... Ducks in a Row?..... ask a wildland firefighter. Agency Liability? ..... ask an attorney. yikes.... Agency imposed "stress test" without proper medical evaluation and supervision....?
6/11 Islander,

I am a DOD Structural Firefighter in Arizona which falls under the Southwest Region , I believe. So basically what you are saying is that the RED CARD is not the level of training and certification that we should have to be involved with the WUI (Wildland Urban Interface)??

6/11 Dear Abercrombie and the DOD Firefighter Shop Steward

I am also the Vice President of our Local here at McGuire AFB in the small state of New Jersey. I really feel for this DOD brother having his management send the firefighters out improperly trained and most likely improperly geared up. It is unfortunate that he is working for a bunch of dinosaurs. But unfortunately we here just went through this battle here and won. It is now becoming a DOD standard by years end I am told to be at least S-130/S-190 trained or DOD wildland certified if you do any wildland firefighting or support roles. We here are a support to our brothers at Ft. Dix for tanker assignments and we are compliant with training and proper PPE. Please forward this to him and I will be glad to try and help him with his situation.

V.P. IAFF Local F-106
6/11 Re: DOD firefighter

It would help if you told us what state you are in, as the requirements vary from state to state if it is a state level fire. In Washington, a red card is required for wildland urban interface fires. Frankly though, to be safe and effective on a WUI fire, meeting the minimum level of a red card is like, well, playing with fire. They can be among the dangerous and complex assignments. For example, even as a firefighter on an engine, you may be assigned to triage, pre-treat homes, cut line around homes, prep fuels, fire and hold, extinguish spot fires, attack a running fire, mop up and patrol. WUI assignments often put firefighters in front of fires they would otherwise flank.

You are right to question the wisdom of their attitude.

6/11 I am a DOD Structural Firefighter and I am also a Union Steward. My question is this.

Our Chief is planning on sending us on a strike team. We have no Training or Certification in Wildland Firefighting. I have told them that we are required to be Red Carded before we can do this. They keep saying that all we will do is Urban Interface. Im unclear of what Urban Interface really is and what training we will be required to have. At this point Im afraid that they may been sending us into harms way. Any help on clarifying what we the (Firefighters) really need to have and what is required to be part of a Strike Team would be greatly appreciated!

DOD Firefighter
6/11 Due to a family emergency Firestormers is urgently seeking a qualified engine boss. They will work with the applicants regarding scheduling. Contact information is on the Jobs Page. Ab.
6/11 Northzone5

I was not speaking in any way about causes of heart attacks, or their diagnosis. I was speaking about people WHINING about having to be fit for duty.


I have thought about your point every time someone dies while attempting to prove they are fit for duty. I have thought about your point every time I see an individual fail the WCT because they are out of shape, lazy, etc... I am not on the attack. I am defending the BEST measure of a firefighters ability to do this job. Anyone who cant pass the pack test does not belong in an arduous duty position.

6/11 ATs and WCT:

Does the announcement that the FS will use the CDF-related company to oversee the technical
evaluation of the large ATs mean that there was some agreement reached among the FS, NTSB
(& FAA?), and legal beagles for the FS and President? Id have liked to be a fly on the wall of
the negotiators room. So which aircraft of the cancelled 33 are we likely to get back? Any ideas?
AT folks who read here? NMAirbear? Others?

Regarding the WCT, research went into adopting that fitness standard. I haven't been able to find
it, but I think there have been fewer deaths on the line from cardiovascular causes than in years
prior to the WCT. The most deaths each year are due to vehicle accidents, if I remember correctly.

NorCal Tom
6/11 WCT and airtankers-

JSJ said:

I have noticed that most people who complain about the arduous pack test fall into one of these categories
1. grossly out of shape for the job
2. lazy
3. those who have been told they were not fit to take the test by a doctor
4. those who have failed the pack test [see 1 and 2 for possible reasons]
5. those who feel ENTITLED to their jobs, regardless of fitness

Well, I am none of the above, thank you very much. My post was merely meant to make people think. Your tone/attitude is very much not appreciated. Why don’t you think about the point before attacking the one making it?


6/11 JSJ,

You are mistaken if you believe your list of 5 includes the only causes of heart attacks. Frequently heart attacks do not "present" as classic text book symptoms; many times previous ambiguous warning signs weren't recognized by the individual or the doctor: often there are other contributing factors.

6/10 The USDA Forest Service, Washington Office is pleased to announce that we
have signed an agreement with DynCorp Technical Services to oversee the
technical evaluation of the current large airtanker industry aircraft.

DynCorp has 55 years of experience in the world of aviation and currently
generates a half billion dollars of annual aviation related revenues.
Dyncorp also has extensive experience in the areas of wildland fire
airtanker operations, engineering studies and aging aircraft.

For more information on DynCorp please see:

James Barnett
W O Aviation Management Specialist
6/10 From Firescribe:

For the kid wanting to know about heat stress, here's what Sharkey says.

www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/htmlpubs/htm01512817/index.php (use t-d on any query)

6/10 Howdy again all,

(especially Rotor heads, this time.)

Where do I find the big blue crash kits for Helo crash rescue?

6/10 Southwest Area Fire Behavior Alert:

It is just about to get a lot busier in the SW. Be safe out there!!!!

R3 fire behavior alert (pdf file)

6/10 Larry's services will take place on Friday June 11, 2004 at 1300 at the following location:

St. Peter's Catholic Church
1222 West 10th Street
The Dalles, Oregon

A reception will be held at Parish Hall

Donations in memory of Larry may be made to:

St. Mary's Academy
1112 Cherry Heights
The Dalles, Oregon 97058

If interested in the procession, gather at 1200 at:

Mid Columbia Fire and Rescue
1400 West 8th Street
The Dalles, Oregon

Thanks, Ab.
6/10 A story in the June 9th edition of the Portland Oregonian tells of the death of Larry Hoffman, Area Forester for Oregon Department of Forestry, while taking the Pack Test in The Dalles, Oregon. According to the article the cause of death was an apparent heart attack. EMT's were at the test and started emergency treatment immediately.

Services for Hoffman will be held Friday June 11 in The Dalles with participation by emergency service agencies from the Columbia Gorge Area.

More details are available from Oregon Department of Forestry, or the article can be read in the Oregonian archives at www.oregonlive.com


Here are the details: The memorial service will be held Friday at 1PM in St. Peter's Catholic Church in The Dalles. I'm told it'll include a procession of firetrucks, a pipe and drum corps from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, and an honor guard from the OR state fire marshal's office. Anyone have more info? Ab.
6/10 Last year I read a prayer that instead of "The Lord is My Shepard" it read "The I.C. is my Shepard."

I tried to search for it again but couldnt find it. Could you email it to me, or post it up again??? I really loved it.


Here it is, compliments of Fuels Guy:

From 12/19/03
A Firefighters Psalm:

The IC is my Shepard, I shall not bitch.
He giveth me plume dominated fires, beside Mark III pump shows.
He restoreth my sack lunch: he leadeth me in the chow line, for his name's sake.
Yea, Tho I hike into canyons filled with smoke,
I will fear no flames,
For I wear his nomex
Thy (new?) Fire Shelter and Shift Plan,
They comfort me.
He preparest green eggs before me,
In the presence of Heli-nerds.
He anointest my head with retardant,
My bottled water runneth over.
Surely Overtime and Hazard Duty will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell on the ________ Complex, Forever.
6/10 Squirrel,

The way you prepare for heat stress is not just by reading about it but by practice, by building up to the point where you almost feel comfortable wearing buttloads of clothing in 100+ degree weather. If you read the literature about heat stress, it says you need at least several days to develop a reasonable heat tolerance. So again, i recommend just building up to the point where you're not totally miserable & useless. Remember, it's not about where you start, but where you finish. Progress man, it's the name of the game.

And also, with such a high attrition rate @ LACo FSAs, you gotta think that a good portion of the drop outs are people just trying to get city fire jobs who've never cut line or done anything wildland before, so of course they can't hack it & walk. But then there's gotta be at least half the people who are ex-FS, ex-hotshots, ex-smokejumpers, etc. And if those people are getting washed out, you gotta think that you're dealing with some pretty gnarly training.

A few more recommendations- try the rowing machine @ your gym to simulate line construction exercise. Also, do lots of pullups. And if you do a stairmaster, do it while you're wearing a pack.


Dude, i say if you're on the outs with your old supt, then go & talk to him. What could you possibly have to lose? If he hates your guts, then how could it get worse? And beyond that, despite whatever the facts are and whatever actually happened, the truth is that's no one is gonna care about your sob story. They're just gonna nod their head as you tell it and say "yeah...." Then they're gonna talk to your old supt. You are a nobody, he is a somebody, and if he's a well known hotshot supt, people are gonna know him personally & have worked with him before & thus have their own judgments on him before you set foot on their doorstep. So i say try to make peace with him, get a job somewhere else & don't even mention the troubles you had in the past. Just be positive about what you wanna do now, if & only if they ask about what happened, then be honest & straightforward about what happened. But sell yourself as a positive guy first, not a rationalizing troublemaker.

And worse case scenario you're not able to smooth things out with the old boss, then go to a new crew & start anew. If you make a good reputation for yourself @ the last place you worked, then it becomes way less important that you had problems at some point in the nebulous past.

Also, another option is that you try to get hired this season on a crew sometime in august or so when the college students go back to school. Two years ago i got a job on a Type 1 MEL crew just by showing up & PTing for a day, at the end of which we got called off for a fire assignment & i was hired on the spot. If you show up & they like you that's gonna be way more important than anything else, esp if they're hurting for people & you got the red card quals & some experience. You do that & you'll have rehire rights for the next season.

Ab & friends-

Word on the streets is that R-5 is going to an all permanent workforce. No more temps. I heard this from my IHC supt- tell me it ain't so?

6/10 In reply to:

“Sincere condolences to Larry Hoffman’s family.
Another Pack Test death….
Heavy air tankers are gone because the program was deemed to be unsafe.
Food for thought.”

I was not aware that the NTSB was looking into the pack test, or that they or anyone else has yet to deem the pack test “unsafe”.

In all seriousness, my condolences to Mr. Hoffman's family.

I have noticed that most people who complain about the arduous pack test fall into one of these categories
1. grossly out of shape for the job
2. lazy
3. those who have been told they were not fit to take the test by a doctor
4. those who have failed the pack test [see 1 and 2 for possible reasons]
5. those who feel ENTITLED to their jobs, regardless of fitness

I sympathize with those who fall into # 3. I know that I will be devastated if a doctor ever tells me I can’t fight fire any more. As for the rest, GET OVER IT! The arduous pack test is the best measure of an individuals ability to do this job. It only takes 45 minutes, once a year, to pass. That gives you the rest of the year to stay in shape for it.

I welcome all debate on this subject. But you better have your ducks in a row.


6/9 Update on the Matt Taylor Auction:

We here at WLF thought Dan Fiorito, Superintendent of the Union Hotshots, might need some help with the benefit auction his crew is conducting for Matt Taylor of the Prineville IHC. With Dan and his crew being subject to fire assignments at any given time, we offered to create a method for folks to bid online and to monitor the bidding. Please see the Auction Page for information and links to submit new bids, or just review how the bidding is going.

It didn’t take long for the bidding to get to the point where most firefighters might feel a little challenged to make a new bid. If that is the case, you may consider enlisting the cooperation of your entire module, multiple modules, or even an entire Forest, District, or other larger area organization.

We also encourage contractors, vendors, and businesses whose customers are firefighters to participate in this worthy benefit. If the bid is too high, get another business or two to join forces to up the bidding.

Originally the auction was to end at midnight on 4th of July. Ain't nobody thinking benefits or auctions on that Saturday night! To remedy this, we've extended until midnight on the 9th of July. We promise not to extend it again.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide this service for Matt and his family, and the Union Interagency Hotshot Crew.

The Abs.
6/9 Canyondweller:

Take it from me when I say that although it might be the right thing to do morally to approach the supe of your past IHC and discuss the tenets of rehire possibilities and the past, I sincerely doubt it will get you anywhere. Type I crews have an enormous pool of applicants and reserve the right to be selective. What I believe will help your cause, however, will be to apply to a Type I crew elsewhere and explain your situation in detail. If this supe has a reputation for being hardnosed then it will be figured into your application status. Good luck!

An action plan memo entitled: Operations Strategy for Type I and Type II Helicopters for 2004 states:

For Fiscal Year 2004 beginning June 1, fifteen (15) Type I and seventeen (17) type II helicopters will be added nationally at mostly USFS exclusive use bases and a few BLM bases nationwide to augment the aerial firefighting resources on hand in the wake of the heavy Air Tanker abatement. The majority of these helicopters will be staffed and managed by exclusive use crews with existing management staff and treated as simply an "exclusive use" contract with the potential for some training within these bases for HCWN and HELB positions. The document also mentions that some HECM single resource positions might be considered if there is any low staffing situations only on a case by case basis.


6/9 Nomad/ FS

I am feeling the love.
Thanks so much for the info. The captains did tell me in the interview that I got as many possible points as they could give for education, do any of ya'll know what else I would be rated on?

I had a guy at the camp tell me that his academy started with 30 and 8 graduated. Half of them walked away on the first day, yikes!

I looked into some AD crews through the Jr. Colleges and it seems (based on a couple of conversations with crew members) as though they train like crazy, then ride the chain-link bleachers. I actually got a sense about some of them that safety might be a concern. I'll look into that more though.

Ab- The heat stress symptoms that you were referring to... is that the USFS health and safety report? I would really appreciate a link or info on how to specifically gear up for/or prepare for "layered" work duty, besides drinking lots of water.

Thanksforhelping,..........TheSquirrel get a job.
6/9 Need Advice:

In 1999 I was on a Hotshot Crew in Region 5. Out of respect for the guys I wont name the crew at least not directly. I will say it is between the <snip> and Stanislaus. So that may narrow it down. Anyways, I've been out of fire for a few years due to my wife being in Nursing School. Well now I am ready to jump back in. So here is my problem. While I was on that crew a lot of unprofessional events happened with the Super of that crew. Enough to where it could not be handled within the crew.

Our rights were violated many many times and I was personally threatened with violence by the Super. This all went way beyond being tough and the Hotshot tradition. It ended without rehire due to the fact that I stood up for myself. Nothing else. I was squeezed out. My review stated I met all criteria successfully, except getting along with the crew. Which was bull and I know it.

Another crew member and I went to overhead with documentation and information on all of the events that lead to this. Well no one really listened, which is a shame. This particular Super has a reputation for this behavior and I was actually warned to not go there. However since the base is so close to my home, I went anyway. So now here I am wanting to fight fire and wondering if I even want to ever work for the FS again. Once you're a Hotshot I think it is always in you and that is the way I will go.
But I will have to leave my area to do it, this I know. My wife and kids support this.

I would love to on the crew I have been talking about as the base is around the corner. I am mentally and physically prepared for this so that's no issue. I PT on the same trails the guys do. I will have to wait until next season to begin my quest but I will succeed. This year I will be working for a contract company in my area. Which is a good bunch of people with a good rep. Plus they do a lot of presciption stuff and I can get training.

So here is my question. Do you think I am black balled on this forest or should I try again? Should I try and talk to this Sup and clear the air for the future? Or should I move on? I know the answer lies within me but some advice would help. I will eventually attain my goal. I would like to also add that as far as fighting fire was concerned, I had nothing but respect for this man and always felt safe. However as far as being a man, I was not willing to compromise that. A good crew comes with good leadership and respect goes both ways. If morale is down, it starts at the top. Not the bottom, respect is earned not given. That should go for any crew. I mean aren't all firefighters brothers anyway?

Thanks For Reading!
6/9 Announcement:

There is a new vacancy on the Jobs page for those who have been learning and working as their fire station's computer guru without receiving the pay. The City of Scottsdale, AZ is looking for a Fire Technology Manager. Check it out!

6/9 Retired LAVE:

Oh Gawd, you’ve caught that “Get er done” virus too. It’s everywhere! And how was that again?
Sissy-la-la? What, you not getting enough smoke to drown out the scent of a little baby powder?

Nerd on the Fireline (laughing)
6/9 Heart attacks are going to happen and like has been said better on a pack test
than on the way out O dark 30 time or 0300 inside of a building in SCBA.

I would ask the ones all upset about the WCT what do they suggest be Done?

I passed the WCT in Mar. and I just turned 68 in May, I jog 3 mi a day and work
out on a home gym. I also have a annual physical by a internal medical Doctor.

Also our WCT are always with paramedics in attendance.

So until something better comes along, I say keep going with the WCT. Get ready,
Stay Ready and Do It

Old Man Of the Dept.
6/9 MD,

One of the things I have found useful is take a large zip lock baggie, I think it's a gallon size. I put a tee-shirt, a pair of socks and a pair of under shorts in the bag seal it, get the air out. This way you have sets of clean stuff and it's easy to transport, easy to count and take to the shower area, and when I am done I fold the old dirty stuff up and put in the bag, so it keeps the smell and mess to a minimum. It's easier to repack your bag to go home too. Also it's easy to grab a baggie out of your clothes bag and toss it in to your fire line kit. I use to take five sets, strike teams in our area were told to be able to support yourself for five days on the line.

One thing that is a must is either baby powder or gold bond powder. I like the bond stuff better, it doesn't smell as sissy-la-la as baby powder but either will work in a pinch. And boy does it come in handy about day three with no shower in site. You can use in your boots as well.

I have also found to take a small medicine chest, aspirin, cold tablets, anti-diarrhea meds, vitamins, and any other medications you need for your health. If you wear glasses,pack an extra pair, cause you never know what may happen. Same with a second pair of sun glasses just in case, you can use as trade items if necessary. Many times I have helped out folks on my strike teams cause I had some stuff on hand.

Oh yea, almost forgot. Have a small personal stash of toilet paper. For obvious reasons.

Be careful out there. 10 & 18, LCES. Get er done!

Retired L.A.V.E.
6/9 Squirrel,

Word on the street about FSA's is that it's super-hardcore. And -again, this is all hearsay- is that's it's not Hotshot style hardcore, but smokejumper (BLM, not FS) style hardcore. Ok, maybe that may not make any sense to you. So here's a some suggestions- go over to the Dalton Hotshot Base over in Glendora or drive up Azusa Canyon Rd to the Angeles NF Rincon Fire Station and ask them to show you their PT hikes ("poop out" & "punk out"). I know it's out of your way, but the Bear Divide station has "the Bear" which is pretty famous. Anyway, go & hike 'em with ~65 lbs. on your back-fast. And wear long sleeve shirt & pants. If i remember correctly, FSA's wear CDF style nomex, which is double layered & hot as hell (nomex yellows over cotton or nomex duty pants & 2x layered fire shirts)- the heat stress will seriously affect you if you're not prepared for it, so be ready. Also, think that you might not just be packing water, line gear, and a tool, but think of hiking with saws & piss pumps. I got a rude awakening the first time we had "saw appreciation day" on a PT hike, one which i don't wish on you.

Again, all i know is what i've heard & seen- i've never worked as an FSA or for LACo directly, so i'm no authority on this by any means.

And a little note on the Junior College handcrews... Yeah, do your homework before you go signing up for one of those, or any other AD crew for that matter. There's good programs out there and there's really bad ones. Like unsafe bad ones. I don't want to discourage anybody outright, and while it is a foot in the door, I've worked with people who've came from some of these crews, and some had really good things to say, while others had some rather disturbing tales (like grossly unqualified 1st year fire fighters being put in supervisory positions). So just do your homework, ask around about the reputation of whatever crew you want to go to. Remember, safety is our number one priority.


Squirrel, if you end up with all those layers and 100-110+ temps to boot, be sure you read up on heat stroke symptoms. Wildland firefighters on the line with too many "protective" layers have died from heat stroke. Such deaths are preventable. Remember, safety is our number one priority. Ab.
6/9 The Three Forks was reported as 350 acres. After infrared mapping that takes into account burnout,
etc, the fire is found now to be 3,500 acres.

Charlie Coyote

Ab has just confirmed this.

6/9 Red flag warnings and watches are posted for all of Arizona along with northwestern New Mexico.
Firefighters, please be aware of critical fire weather patterns that could significantly affect fire
behavior. We have a new fire -Three Forks- on the Apache-Sitgreaves NF.

Be Safe

I posted the links on the US Firelinks, 2004 page. Ab.
6/9 MD:

I’m going to take your questions one by one, ‘cuz I was in the same position not very long ago.

in my pack that i'll have on the line w/ me, what do I have to buy for my own and what will/should be provided to me?

Don’t count on anything being provided for you. Your FD should get you a fire shelter, but everything else is going to be your problem. Make sure you have at least a gallon’s worth of water bottles, a “comfort care” first aid kit, an MRE, a rain poncho, extra socks, and treats. I like Nalgene water bottles; they’re expensive and over-hyped, but they are truly the only ones I’ve never had trouble with. I recommend the narrow mouth 1-liter style because you can drink out of them while on the road without looking like you’ve got a hole in your lip. The “comfort care kit” is kind of personal…don’t worry about big stuff (splints, etc), but I recommend an ace bandage or vetwrap, an assortment of bandaids, blister stuff (I love Second Skin), med tape, a knife (I like the one-piece neck knife style), a space blanket, extra chapstick, maybe some bug stuff, sunscreen, and a maxi pad or tampons if you’re female (and if you’re male, you could probably sell the aforementioned items for big money or big points in fire camp). The kit should be a bit bigger than your two fists together. Extra socks…spend the money. Good socks pay for themselves many times over. I recommend wool. Treats…power bars, pemmican, make sure it’s something nice. Something durable that you like and look forward to eating, something that brightens up your life when everything is cold and miserable and painful. Makes a huge difference. Oh, and have a cotton sweat shirt or other warm thing (natural fibers or nomex only) with you. Just ‘cuz you’re on a fire doesn’t guarantee it’ll be warm.

I see fuzees are a item to bring, do i just buy any old flares or do i need a special kind?

Pretty much basic flares will work, the longer the better (as long as you can carry them practically). I’ve never heard of a department not providing those.

My dept is pretty much making me get all my gear i need too: I have nomex but its the overcoat/pant type.. will that work or should i actually get the nomex green pants and nomex shirts?

Get the pants and shirts (one set of pants, two shirts). It’ll be a lot more comfortable. Are you looking at initial attack (first 24 hours) or extended attack (two weeks) assignments? Where are you geographically?

Also do i have to have all my personal clothes in a certain bag too since there's the 65 lb weight limit?

Most crews have a standard “red bag” for your EA stuff (tent, clothes, sleeping bag, etc.). You shouldn’t need much: a couple of clean T-shirts, some clean pants, underwear, personal hygiene stuff. I recommend a good paperback, maybe extra treats.

Please enlighten me more so that i wont be so "green".

Hey, I’m pretty green too, compared to most on this site, but everybody was green sometime.

Nerd on the Fireline

6/9 Dear Nameless, Faceless < B------ > Tanker Pilot,

Indeed I am outspoken and perhaps arrogant as well. The tone of my rants emanates from 27 years of fighting fire with all those nameless bastards (with families) whom I love so dearly. It comes from 27 years of witnessing unknown grunts slam line with every ounce of their spirit that tends to transform a person into an outspoken warrior for firefighter safety. I have watched my profession get hosed by opportunistic politicians and agency executives without the backbone to defend us. This expediency has killed far too many of the people I love over the years. It has gutted the ranks of many talented people to the point where we are hard pressed to find competent Division Supervisors and ATGS. We have been treated like bastards over the years so we might as well take pride in it. Sorry if it hurts your feelings as it was not meant to. With regard to "let the experts in aerial firefighting fix theirs." I could just about buy that philosophy if you could keep the metal to yourself. But the parts tend to fall back to earth and that's when your problem turns into our problem. "How familiar are you with air ops?" you ask. Lets just say that I am familiar enough with air ops to have managed a few hundred thousand dollars worth of exclusive use aviation contracts over the years. I am familiar enough with air ops to realize that large, visible and well represented programs (like the heavy air tanker program) often take on a life of their own -for the sake of themselves. To the point where rational people defend antiquated machinery for the sheer love of it. The time has come to stand back and look at the big picture. Demand a new generation of air tankers- designed for that purpose.

Dr. Gumby, WFB (Wildland Firefighting Bastard and Proud of It.)
6/9 Hi there!

I recently completed S130/190 and successfully completed my pack test. i am now currently posses my redcard. My fire dept is on a waiting list to be deployed. i read what i need to take, but as for in my pack that i'll have on the line w/ me, what do I have to buy for my own and what will/should be provided to me? I see fuzees are a item to bring, do i just buy any old flares or do i need a special kind? My dept is pretty much making me get all my gear i need too: I have nomex but its the overcoat/pant type.. will that work or should i actually get the nomex green pants and nomex shirts? Also do i have to have all my personal clothes in a certain bag too since there's the 65 lb weight limit? Please enlighten me more so that i wont be so "green".

thank you,
6/9 Squirrel,

I'm glad that you're excited that you did well at the FSA orals. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, keep taking firefighter tests, try to get on one of the ad crews at AV college, or there is a crew at one of the San Fernando JCs and I think Mt. Sac still has a crew. Take as many fire Dept. tests that you can. There were over 600 that took the oral test at camp 2 and I know of about 5-10 were military vets, they get an extra 10 points. LA County does not know how many FSAs they will hire this year, maybe only 25 from your list. It all depends on how many current FSAs get hired as firefighters, they are all taking tests.

If you get a call for the PAC test and then the back ground check, then you need to start your pt. They have around 25% dropped in the first week due to not being physically ready. Remember the testing process takes a long time with LA County. I think that this list will be good for 3 years. Good luck

6/9 "Concerned":

Unlike Air Tankers fatalities that won't happen if you don't fly, heart attacks associated with wildland fire suppression won't stop if the Work Capacity Tests are eliminated! Just ask the folks in the structural fire world: the IAFF refuses to support a yearly mandatory work capacity test for the structural folks, and nearly 50% of the structural fatalities over the past 20 years (excluding the 9/11 deaths of FDNY) are from heart attacks.

Me, as an over-50 OPS guy, would rather have my heart attack at the Pack test site than at 0300 on some deserted hillside on a fire with no medivac available.

My sympathies go out to the families of those that die taking the Pack Test, but I believe that we're all safer for it!

6/8 Squirrel,

Actually, there isn't much more to do before the academy between now and then except some solid P.T. I come from a municipal fire department background. (I now work for a wildland firefighting gear distributor.) It has been my experience that when new folks get started in an academy, the less they know the better. All they want to know is that you know the basics. That gets determined in the testing process. The rest will be taught to you in the academy. If you come into it with "too much" training, you might get labeled as a know it all. Or worse, some poor instructor may have to spend extra time getting you to unlearn what you have learned so they can teach you to do it their way. Too much pre learning can put you in a position where you start sentences with "The way I learned it...." or, "What we used to do where I came from...." Any seasoned instructor will tell you such students are more trouble than the dumb ones.

So, hang in there. Go over your basics to stay fresh. And always remember that the only dumb question is the one unanswered.

6/8 Fedfire

Thanks so much for the "in between the ears" info, I have found that to be the best stuff to try and pick up in applying for a job. Again thank you. I am waiting to actually hear back from County. I passed the written and they place 100% on the interview to see when/ if they will put you through their academy. I am waiting to hear the results of my interview now, and since LA County hires full time folks for their paid camps (non-inmate), I cannot rely on people dropping out because of school and such.

I guess my main questions lie in what I can do to prepare for their academy and questions about the academy. This may be premature, but I think I did well enough in the interview. It seems to be a secret that current FSAs aren't willing to share on much. When asked, innocuous words fly out such as "Start Hiking (Chuckle-chuckle)" or here's a good one "better know your 10 & 18 (tee-hee)" I hike tons, I know the orders and watch outs word for word. <big exhale>

If any FSA's could find mercy in their heart to help a guy out I will owe you one.

6/8 Dear Ab,
Just wanted to let you know what a couple of farmers in Melba, Idaho have done for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Shane Heath's dad Steve, and his friend Darrel Rosti, took a cargo trailer and worked on it until it became a retail trailer. They fabricated the trailer so we can campaign the 52 Club, sell merchandise, and share information in and outside of fires this summer. 52 Club Trailer

I have always thought that it is our job to take care of families of fallen firefighters, but Shane Heath's family keeps taking care of us. They always come to the Foundation and volunteer their time and resources.

Many times I have heard folks say, "If I ever lost a son or daughter, I hope I would handle such a loss with the grace and compassion as the Heaths have." I feel this way myself.

We have shared some wonderful times with them, some laughter and sorrow, and they have always treated us like family.

Look for us this summer in our trailer. We'll be comin' for your $52.00 to join up in the 52 CLUB. With the power of one (that one is YOU), we can turn $1.00 a week into 52 weeks an annual donation of $52.00. Our goal is 19,800 members by the end of Aug. 2004.

If everyone in fire followed the example of the Heaths, by joining the 52 CLUB we will have enough money to take care of our own, and even their children they leave behind.

Thank you Jodie and Steve for your example, and for your strength and heart. Steve and Darrel, thanks for the trailer. We'll run the wheels off of it this summer.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

We see that Steve can weld trailers. <haw> Can he paint, too, or are you counting on the white, completely unadorned trailer to get the message out? Send in another photo after ya get the paint job on, will ya?
Folks, give the Foundation a call and join up. 52 Club. Ab.
6/8 TheSquirrel

I would suggest you do go down and "bug" the guys on shift, alot more of the hiring process is determined by the impression you make before and after the application and testing process than many know. I can't speak from experience about LA county but every place I've had experience with likes to have a face to go with the application. It really isn't bugging them if you are prepared, make a list of your questions and write down the answers you get so they can see you are serious about it, also so you remember what they told you (write down names, it sounds silly if you call up asking for the tall guy with brown hair, I think he was a captain but not sure). Bringing cookies, Ice cream etc to structure oriented departments seems to be the standard payment and helps grease the wheels (about asking questions, not getting hired), probably a good idea for CDF, USFS, BLM etc but it doesn't seem to be the norm for them to expect it. I would suggest you spend more time asking about the program, department, what you can do to make yourself a better candidate etc and less time on yourself, just let them know you've got the quals to get hired but understand they are not likely to be impressed with your resume so don't get caught in the trap of talking about how great you are (a humble approach goes far), this may not be an issue for you personally but it is surprising how many firefighter candidates will try to make themselves look more qualified than the person doing the hiring. Community service and activities that show your ability to do the job should be mentioned (sports you play etc), construction skills, mechanical experience etc not just fire training. Even if you don't get picked up right away I'm pretty sure LA county just like every other wildland program hires late season firefighters to replace those who don't work out, return to school or get hired full time elsewhere.

Good luck

6/8 Re: Nameless AT pilot

Ab. wrote: At no time did Dr. Gumby call pilots names as your quotes imply. We try to stick to issues on theysaid. Name calling, in general, doesn't promote informative dialog. Ab.

...and on May 28th Dr. Gumby wrote:

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.

I saw it also. AT pilot. In fact it was directed at the wife of an Air tanker pilot. Of course he didn't know that. But that is what the problem is with many of the folks that write on this board. It's perfectly acceptable to be concerned with AT accidents, as it is for the pilots of the AT's to be concerned with YOUR accidents. But by and large, most of you do not know anything about the sittuation at hand. You guys should do all you can to fix any problems on the ground, and prevent anymore of your accidents, and system failures. But let the experts in aerial firefighting fix theirs.

I'm sure that every AT crew out there has a story about steering an airplane, and in the process exposing themselves to a hazard, down to drop on some nameless...B..that got into a bad sittuation. But they have the courtesy to not actually call tham a nameless...B's..


P.S. How many firefighter (passengers) have been killed in helicopter accidents in the past few years?

OK, I stand corrected: that one slipped past me. I even did a search on it and nothing came up. Ab.
6/8 Sincere condolences to Larry Hoffman’s family.

Another Pack Test death….
Heavy air tankers are gone because the program was deemed to be unsafe.

Food for thought.

Sign me,
6/8 Dr. Gumby,

You seem to be a very outspoken person in regards to firefighting and the use of aerial resources. Just so you know, those "nameless, faceless <snip>," have names and faces. Some even have families, many have died in the line of duty. If you were so inclined, you could find out those names by checking the AAP website.

I frequently would invite ground crews I ran into around the US to come visit the tanker base and get to know us and our aircraft. I spent 17 years as a ground pounder, so I am familiar with ground ops. How familiar are you with air ops, other than "having a radio and a frequency."? I can't help but detect a tone of arrogance about your many posts. I could be wrong, but I wonder where that eminates from?

Nameless, Faceless <B------> Tanker Pilot

At no time did Dr. Gumby call pilots names as your quotes imply. We try to stick to issues on theysaid. Name calling, in general, doesn't promote informative dialog. Ab.
6/8 Keestrokes, a sincere thank you for answering my questions in detail.
*L* naturally your answers only lead to more questions, mostly about the CA OES which is the lead agency for large in-state disaster response within CA (not only wildland fires although FFs are usually first on scene for any event).
Having skimmed much of the BRC 2003 fire siege report to the Governor, maybe I overlooked mention of ROSS implementation in their list of recommendations; it is not listed in the Glossary of Terms, although MIRPS is.
sigh! more light reading before the OES after action report is released...

Best wishes for a safe fire season all.
6/7 On Saturday June 5th, Larry Hoffman, the Unit Forester for The Dalles unit of
Oregon Department of Forestry suffered a heart attack while taking the Work
Capacity test and died. Larry was a close cooperator and good friend of the
Scenic Area as he worked very hard to make a flawless interagency fire
program work. Please join us in expressing our condolences to his family,
co-workers and friends. I will keep you posted when I hear about funeral/
memorial arrangements.

The address for The Dalles ODF office is:
3701 West 13th.
The Dalles, Or 97058

Rod Altig
Fire Management Officer
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Loosing one of our own is always difficult. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and co-workers. Ab.
6/7 To R5PITA reference ROSS

If ROSS is coming to R5, good! if CDF expected it & prepared, better.

Several nagging questions:

#1 what percentage of USFS districts are have trained personnel?

Some of the R5 forests have had ROSS training. A lot more is scheduled during the next 12 months. Most will be after fire season.

#2 ditto for CDF!

Same for CDF folks. Training will be done be ROSS team and will be interagency, just like MIRPS was.

#3 since major ragers in R5 are frequently a combination of federal, state & local gov't agencies' response because of WUI, will the CA OES co-ordinate mutual aid using MIRPS & ROSS?

OES is will be going on line with MIRPS shortly. They will be switching to ROSS like the rest of us.

#4 will CA local gov't continue to request mutual aid resources via their current Operational Area State system (SEMS & RIMS)?

Local area coordinators for fire and rescue do not use SEMS or RIMS to process requests for fires. SEMS and RIMS are used for everything but fire. The local operational areas use Resource Order Cards, expect for the ops areas that are CDF, then they use MIRPS. And all 6 OES regions are on MIRPS now.

#5 most R5 forests abut OR & NV, are those states onboard?

OR and NV will be using ROSS also


6/7 I updated the Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455. Ab.
6/7 HI,

I'd like to offer a potential solution for folks frustrated during the recent R-5 apprentice hiring.

Antelope Valley College, Los Angeles Valley College and Rio Hondo Community College all have Wildland Fire programs. Each school also has a type 2 crew associated with it.

If you are looking for folks who have career interest, training and some on the job experience these are places to contact for qualified applicants. The folks in these programs all meet basic 310-1 requirements, in many cases they exceed them. For example the kids at Rio Hondo get basic 1st Aid, ICS-100, Haz Mat Awareness, S-110, 130, 190. They do a minimum of 5 hrs per week PT and do hikes from 5 to 9 miles which often include line const practice, shelter drills and field discussions of fuels, weather, fire histories and suppression techniques.

These folks also come from every ethnic and social background so those "targets" are easily met.

I won't blow smoke at you but we run a pretty strict program at Rio. Fourteen folks failed our first session this spring. If you're interested please contact me at jrbfiretch@msn.com. I can also put you in touch with the primary instructors from the other programs.


John Bennett
FS retired
6/7 Dear AB / LA County FSAs,

Could I get some help from one of you via email so that I don't have
to bug the guys on shift?

Ab, could you give my email addy to that wonderfully helpful County
person. Thanks so much.


When the person writes in, we'll forward your message. Ab.
6/7 Ab,

I am always amazed at the response that we get when we ask for support of a fellow firefighter. I have received a bid of $500.00 for the Union IHC belt buckle that is being auctioned in support of Matt Taylor and his family. That bid was entered on the first day of bidding June 3rd by a California firefighter. Again bids will be accepted until July 4th. You people are the best, God bless everyone who has bid or otherwise donated to Matt. Keep it up.

Thanks again,
Dan Fiorito

Thanks for your good help, Dan, and thanks to other Matt supporters. Ab.
6/7 Ab,

Here is a link to the Gaviota Fire. Not much out on this one.


This link is included on both lists: Cal Fires, 2004 and US Firelinks, 2004. Ab.
6/6 <Chuckle>,

Bullard was asleep at the switch when they voted in favor of NFPA the weight limit for wildland helmets. Someone forgot to tell their guy at the meeting [their ceo?] that the new style shin strap caused the full brim helmet to exceed the weight limit. As I understand it, Bullard has addressed this issue with a complete re-design of the full brim helmet.

For anyone who cares, those helmets are overweight by a VERY small amount [couple ounces!?] replace the metal buckle chin strap with the old style chin strap and its good to go.

6/6 The Gaviota Fire was estimated at 6000 acres at midnight.

It's burning in 4 Chaparral (6 feet) fuels of the heaviest mixed brush, oak woodland, grass. This area last burned in the 1955 Refugio Fire. Terrain is inaccessible. There are limited roads. Rate of spread is extremely rapid, there's long distance spotting. It's a wind driven fire spread with winds in excess of 50 mph at times.

The Hollister ranch and the UP Railroad trestles are at risk. Protection of an oil processing facility ahead of the fire is also a primary concern. If the wind changes, the fire could get pushed into the Los Padres National Forest -- higher into the Santa Ynez mountains.

CDF Team 8 with Rick Henson as the IC has transitioned to take over management of the fire. 329 personnel are working on the fire with more coming.

So Cal FF

6/6 "Wreckage of the SEAT that went down near Mt. Borah in Idaho has been found".
Feeble attempts to offer sincere condolences to the pilot's family, friends & co-workers
are inadequate. Hopefully you finally find closure to help you deal with personal pain for
your tragic loss.

6/5 According to the latest report on South Zones "News and Notes" page,
they are estimating it at 5,000 acres as of 20:45


6/5 BREAKING NEWS: Brushfire Forces Evacuations in Santa Barbara County
More than 1000 acres are burning on both sides of highway 101, near Gaviota State Beach.
Southbound lanes are closed, northbound traffic is moving very slowly.
All train traffic coming through the area has been stopped.

Fire officials have evacuated both Hollister Ranch and Gaviota State Beach as a precautionary measure.
Officials tell key news spot fires are burning on the Venoco oil refinery grounds as well.
The refinery is shut down while crews try to get those small fires out.

R5 DirtMiner

Wind is a factor. www.montereyherald.com. More on the Fire News page. Ab.
6/5 Great White North - the NFPA 1977 Standards for wildland helmets looks at top impact, rather than side impact. There hasn't been a track record of side impact injuries on wilfires.

You have to order the NFPA 1977 Standard from NFPA, so most wildland offices don't have a copy, since it mostly focuses on lab test measurements that relate back to the real world. The NFPA committee that develops the Standard has wildland folks from the USFS, NPS, BLM, and States like CDF (even though they don't "play" according to NFPA), North Carolina and Pennsylvania. There's also reps from different manufacturing companies, and the test labs like UL. MTDC also has folks involved: Fire Program Leader George Jackson is Chair.

Back on hardhats: the Bullard 911H is NOT NFPA-1977 (1998 version) compliant: weighs too much! Bullard had a rep at all the meetings, supported the weight requirement ( less than 20 ounces); beware since some companies still advertise that it meets the standard that was issued in 1993.

There are also other products that are not in NFPA 1977 (like "Facemasks") because they don't offer protection against identified hazards like Carbon Monoxide. They claim to exceed the performance requirements, but aren't approved by NIOSH for Federal employees with out the NFPA "label".

The next version of NFPA 1977 is due out in 2005: if you've got ideas that should be included, contact George or Leslie Anderson at MTDC.

Dick Mangan
6/5 Hi Ab,

I have a question about the NFPA 1977 standard as it applies to hard hats. Is there a
requirement for side-impact or lateral protection? I'm having troubles tracking this standard
down around the office.

6/5 Eric,

About buying saws for fires, not only do they need to be broken in first, but the Federal GSA
price for a new Stihl MS440 (044) is over $500 each. So if a crew bought 3 saws, which is
what most crews carry, that is over $1500.00 to buy new saws, when the total cost to ship 3
saws is only $70-$100. It is quite a bit less than 1/4 of the cost of new saws, not to mention
that saws are considered "sensitive items" and only can be purchased by specific purchasing
folks in the Fed system.

6/5 Wreckage of the SEAT that went down near Mt. Borah in Idaho has been found. The pilot was
enroute to a contract with the FS in Nevada. Second SEAT fatality this year -- and it's still early.
Will wait to see and comment on safety comparisons for the various air support bandages that
are in place for the year.

My thoughts to the pilot's family,
Cache Queen

Condolences. Ab.
6/5 To Winslet:

The Eastern Fire Season, for the most part, runs in the spring and fall. Dry summers can give us fits too.
Depending on the weather, there may be opportunities for RXB during the winter and early spring.

My suggestion is that you check with your respective State Forester to see if there's something there.
A close by US Park might be an option also. Someone in your school program may have a hook with
them. US Fish and Wildlife does some burning and may hire an AD. The Nature Conservancy also
burns and may take an experienced hand.

As far as training the New York Wildfire Academy runs around Halloween, on Long Island. They
offer a variety of courses.

Good luck,

6/5 Buying saws for crews on fires:

Not only is that a poor use of tax dollars, but new saws have a break in period. A fire assignment
is not a good place to break in a new saw. In any event, most sawyers [my opinion] are pretty
attached to the saws they are familiar with.

6/4 Re Apprenticeship Positions in R5...

Jason, some apprentices picked up as SKEPs under the Hispanic outreach in the large CA cities have resigned. Some apprentice applicants are not passing drug tests. For some others, the program is not what they expected and they're backing out. New apprentices were about 52% Hispanic. The dropouts disproportionately affect them, because they are disproportionately represented.

Given the many dropouts, the CA forests are finding it challenging to figure out how many more people they will still need to hire, to get people on to do the training and to get them ready to fight fire. The forests were bound by the job-fair&SKEP protocol until May 30. They're free of that now and are going back to their contact lists for possible applicants. There may yet be hope for you non-Hispanics. Try calling those forests where you applied to see if they're still hiring. Ask them about the Apprenticeship Program or a temp firefighting job.

I was told R5 forests are behind in hiring and training. Not all the firefighters needed have been hired, even now. Apprentices start on June 14, then their training begins. Late!


PS. Thanks for the cards and support everyone!
FYI, Vicki Minor sent me a note saying a check for $2,500 from the fire community via our "funnel" at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation had been given to Matt Taylor (Prineville IHC) to help in his battle with cancer. (Cute little girl he has! Attitude!) I hope all who haven't yet helped out can contribute something to Matt's Bank of America Fund or the WFF Foundation or make a bid on the Union HS commemorative belt buckle. Maybe some of you could go together on that buckle and frame and hang it in the office... Prayers help too.
6/4 Just a note on shipping saws.
I love FedEx and UPS but they have their downsides. Our shipping
software informs me that it will cost about 70$ for 3-5 days ground,
and over a hundred bones to overnight our saws

Wouldnt it be more cost effective to buy saws at the incident -
nearest town?. Its not like they are disposables. They will get
used, and be returned to someones supply cache (most likely the
local) Sounds expensive but at least it is better than burning 1/4
the cost of the saw to ship it. Just a thought.

later - be safe, eric
6/4 for Info:

WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security recently established the
National Incident Management System Integration Center (NIC). The NIC
will support direct participation and regular consultation with other
federal departments and state, local, and tribal incident management
entities, as well as private organizations for incident response.

"This multi- jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary National Incident
Management System Integration Center will provide a valuable resource to
better coordinate our response to all-hazards," said Under Secretary of
Emergency Preparedness and Response Michael Brown. "The establishment of
the NIC allows for a mechanism to provide ongoing coordination among
federal, state, local and tribal incident management entities with
emergency responders to coordinate our mission to better protect our

The National Incident Management System strengthens America's response
capabilities by identifying and integrating core elements and best
practices for all responders and incident managers. Through a balance
between flexibility and standardization, and use of common doctrine,
terminology, concepts, principles, and processes, execution during a real
incident will be consistent and seamless. Responders will be able to
focus more on response, instead of organizing the response, and teamwork
and assignments among all authorities will be clearly enhanced. The NIC
brings together and coordinates all of these efforts, and will be
physically located at Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA).

6/4 Hello Ab,

You have done an outstanding job this website! GREAT!

Is there any place that this below announcement may be posted?
I am in hopes that it will draw more attention to the seriousness of
both of our websites.

Green Valley Lake Citizens for Disaster Preparedness, Inc. (GVLCDP)
Chapter of the Mountain Rim Fire Safe Council, Inc. (MRFSC)
GVL Fire Depart., Station 129, 33596 Green Valley Lake Road CA
Meets 2nd Saturday of the month, 10:00 a.m.

Char Johnson
6/4 Ab, Can you get my email address to Winslet? Hope Mellie's doing well.
Stay Safe!!!

I forwarded it. Ab.
6/4 Well, if the Air Tankers aren't flying again soon, it won't be because Montana's Senator Conrad Burns doesn't understand the problem. After yesterday's Senate hearing on the A/T situation, good ole Conrad is on the watchout for delays: he's quoted as saying "I know what bureaucratic runaround is. What I don't want is some faceless little person with their eyes too close together who is speaking in tongues to give us the runaround.....".

So, you little faceless bureaucratic that speak in tongues, BEWARE: Conrad is watching out for you!! Put on elevator shoes, sunglasses to cover your close-set eyes, and try speaking English (lot's of "Yeps" and "Howdy's" would sound like music to Conrad's ears!

Sure is nice to be a retired USFS fire person living in Montana and have that kind of quality representative in our US Senate!

Dick Mangan
6/4 Firepup, et al,

Have the saws shipped TO YOURSELF at firecamp. Don’t have them shipped until you get there.
Also, insure them, require a return receipt, and anything else you can do to track them. That way,
when supply gives them to another crew, you are covered [you might even end up with new saws].

6/4 Theysaiders--

Despite popular knowledge, fire season is up and going in my neck of the Montana/Dakotas. It's 2330 and 71 degrees outside, with LALs of 4 through the weekend, and we've already got two Type II fires under our belt. Makes a seasonal with school to face in the fall wish the school year was 6 months long instead of 9 to accomodate the fire season.

To my point -- I was hoping those with knowledge of the Eastern area could shed some light on possibilities for training and AD work over the winter & spring while I'm at school in New Hampshire. I'm a qualified EDRC & IADP working towards an eventual aviation dispatcher or ops job in the not-so-distant "grown up" world -- and I'm a little worried the move is taking me away from my goal.
Leaving the land of the BLM is a little nerve wracking -- espescially since I know next to nothing about fire season in New England. Some help would be great.

6/4 For years there has been 6 strong national helicopter programs. Each program has had its unique challenges, co-locating with a local or regional ship, scheduling in rappel training while the WO is screaming for the ship, rotating crews for days off with private jets every 14 days, or crews spending months away from home and taking R and R in place. Through it all the goal has been to provide an incident with an elite crew that can IA, run a helibase and coordinate logistics of keeping a machine flying while adhering to all of the policies regarding pilot and crew duty limitations. After working with two of these crews for entire seasons and running into the other four national helitack crews over the years I believe in my heart they bust their ass doing the logistics and keeping the national helicopter program name upheld although there are always gaps in their management. They persevere using their knowledge base of years past, they make it happen. It takes a minimum of 12 people to staff a national crew with six on and six off. Most national programs run with 15-25 people.

My point is if these six crews have barely made it over the years how can they add two dozen more national helicopters with the same expectations and get the same results? There ARE NO more helicopter managers, assistants, lead crews, crew members etc. There will be an accident because of throwing money the wrong way.

western pilot
6/4 Does anyone have current news about the mandated Fed hiring snafu in R5?
Rumor is most northzone engines were fully staffed last month; what about groundpounder crews, especially the Shots?

Although this forum is comprised of nation-wide WFFs, belaboring the topic is not intended to imply it's only about R5 issues; you will be affected eventually.

If ROSS is coming to R5, good! if CDF expected it & prepared, better.
Several nagging questions:
#1 what percentage of USFS districts are have trained personnel?
#2 ditto for CDF!
#3 since major ragers in R5 are frequently a combination of federal, state & local gov't agencies' response because of WUI, will the CA OES
co-ordinate mutual aid using MIRPS & ROSS?
#4 will CA local gov't continue to request mutual aid resources via their current Operational Area State system (SEMS & RIMS)?
#5 most R5 forests abut OR & NV, are those states onboard?

fire doesn't have a region or state boundary
echoing Cpt Emmett: Stay safe everyone, it's getting hotter and drier remember safety first, last and always!

6/3 What has happened to the website Large Fire Locations from the National
Interagency Coordination Center at NIFC?

It's been offline for about a week now. I really miss the pinpointing of the fires.


New location and embedded in the FS "template"? http://firemapper.sc.egov.usda.gov/
I'll change the links page. Ab.
6/3 AB here is a link to the Apprenticeship program for Jason on today's post www.wfap.net.
I know that there are often new positions open, and check it out first. It is a great avenue
for new employees, but like everything we do in our jobs, there are some setbacks. I am
an apprentice from R1, and I had to fight for my appointment.......

Just sign me as MTFirefly
6/3 In support of Matt Taylor (Prineville IHC) who is battling cancer and needs financial as well as spiritual support, the Union IHC is auctioning off the very first presentation grade Union Hotshot belt buckle serial #0001G. The belt buckle is brass with silver and gold plating and will be a beautiful piece of collectable firefighting art.

Here is a model of our standard bronze buckle, just picture it in silver and gold. Due to this being a fund raiser in support of Matt who is also a former Union Hotshot we are placing a reserve price of $75.00 as a minimum bid. All proceeds will be placed (in the purchasers name) into Matt's Bank of America donation account #2884010802 to help with his medical expenses and support of his family.

If you wish to bid on the buckle and help Matt Taylor in the fight of his life, contact the Union Hotshots at 541-962-8541, on our cell at 541-786-1358 or email me at dfiorito@fs.fed.us. Bids will be accepted through July 4, 2004. The winner will receive their buckle as soon as possible after that date and at least within 30 days.

Thanks for supporting one of our own.

Details on Matt:
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 $2,200 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 no matter how small will be very helpful and appreciated very much. Here's a photo of Matt and Jordan.

6/3 To the aspiring line EMT
I am not sure all the hoops you have to jump through elsewhere but in
region one to be a line EMT you have to be line qualified which means fire
refresher, snag awareness and the appropriate WCT, either moderate or heavy
depending on what your region requires. Then you have to have EMT put on
your red card or equivalent, should be as easy as showing your state and
national registry certification to the whoever is on the red card quals
committee of your local district or dispatch office. Not too sure how that
would work for AD employees but single resource is not a requirement. The
FS 5109-17 lists no fitness test for EMTs however region 1 and region 6
required that all Incident Medical Specialists (IMS) be tested at the
moderate level for fitness. On every Incident I have been on only the line
qualified folks were allowed up on the line while the others were kept in
the Med Unit. IMS is not the same as EMT. You have to be an EMT to get into
the IMS program

Hope that was more help than confusion.

Smokey's MT Handler
also EMTB and IMSA and a whole bunch of other stuff that gets me out on fires
6/3 I heard USFS is gonna still hire some people through the apprentice program.
Anyone have any extra info on this and how I can apply?

6/3 Nomad and EMT;

I was looking at the line EMT gig too, and I’ve heard two schools of thought. One is that if you’re a certified EMT with 100/130/190, 131, and 200, you’re good to go. The other is that you have to be a single resource boss (‘cuz you’re a single resource and you’re bossing yourself, basically). I’ve seen EMT/FF1/squadbosses go out with crews as AD EMTs, but I’ve never seen anybody with less experience than that get on…and I’ve never seen anybody with less than a single resource boss or HECM/paramedic go out as an independent single resource EMT on an incident, and I’ve heard of Med unit Leader trainees who’ve had trouble. I dunno. The best way to get in on the med unit side seems to be to be real cozy with somebody who’s in a position to recommend you by name. As I said, I looked into it, and it just looked too complicated, and I don’t need fire work to eat.

Nerd on the Fireline (sadly)
6/3 So here is the latest news release from Washington on the Airtanker deal.

Looks a little like a "CYA with the media" type message to me. It says
the feds "will contract with private companies for up to 36 single engine
airtankers (SEATS), 26 Type 1 (heavy) helicopters, 45 Type II (medium)
helicopters and two CL 215 airtankers. In addition, eight U.S. military
C-130 aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System are
available". All this at a whopping cost of $66 million. My taxpayer
pocketbook just trembled.

So let's see....thats 117 aircraft to replace 33 heavy airtankers. Hmmmm.
Are these aircraft gonna be prepositioned somewhere, ready for the firebell
to ring on IA? Or could this just be a list of what is already on the
National CWN contracts, already at our disposal, with the normal delayed
response depending on location (like up to several States away)?

A few rumors going around in R5 about prepositioning a few Type 1
Helicopters, (mostly in South Zone) but what about the rest of it?


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

Date: June 1, 2004
Contacts: Rose Davis (208) 387-5437
Anne Jeffery (208) 387-5458


Boise, Idaho--U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and U.S. Department of the Interior agencies will acquire more than 100 additional aircraft to aid in this year's wildland fire season.

"We are committed to using available resources to stop fires before they become unmanageable," said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. "These additional aircraft will enable fire managers to fully maintain their ability to stop nearly 99 percent of all fires on initial attack and continue to protect communities."

Federal agencies will contract with private companies for up to 36 single engine airtankers (SEATS), 26 Type 1 (heavy) helicopters, 45 Type II (medium) helicopters and two CL 215 airtankers. In addition, eight U.S. military C-130 aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System are available. The additional aviation assets will cost approximately $66 million.

"The new contracts and additional aircrafts will ensure that we maintain a high degree of aerial support and effectiveness," Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke said. "We are working to ensure that are our firefighters are safe and have the resources they need to defend communities against wildfires."

These newly contracted planes and military planes will be part of the existing fleet of more than 700 firefighting aircraft that drop fire suppressants.

Federal and state firefighting partners developed the plan based on an evaluation of existing resources, fire danger, efficiency and cost effectiveness as well as a recent investigative report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). When NTSB found that the agencies could not ensure the continuing airworthiness of 33 large fixed-wing airtankers, federal agencies last month terminated contracts for the tankers due to concerns for the safety of their crews and the public. The airtankers were used in wildland firefighting primarily for initial attack and support.

Wildland fires are managed and suppressed on the ground. Aerial resources are one of the many tools that assist firefighters in meeting their goal of successfully suppressing nearly 99 percent of all fires on initial attack. Fire managers have gradually increased the use of smaller planes and helicopters in firefighting support because of their maneuverability compared to the larger airtankers.

Thousands of wildland fires each year are suppressed on initial attack without the benefit of air support since not every ignition needs aerial support.

6/3 O.K. you Fed-Ex your saws to a fire you were dispatched to in another region. Meanwhile, while enroute, your crew or whatever resource you are, is reassigned to another fire, what now? Will someone at the original fire destination have the wherewithal to figure out where to forward the saws, or even return them to the correct address? Just wondering if there is a solution I'm not seeing.

6/3 Tim,

The thrust for PSOB for pilots has been going on for quite a while.
The cancellation of AT contracts happened only recently.

6/3 Cache Queen, Tim and others on the AT thread,

All it would take to change the large AT contract situation would be to get the FAA to agree to take over inspections, which would mean getting a redefinition or waiver of the "public" vs "private" designation of responsibility. The USFS is not equipped to handle inspections at the level the NTSB recommends (read "requires"). All of this is a matter of safety as defined or implied by the NTSB in that it also comes down to liability. Those at the top (USFS, FAM) need to toe the line with the President's lawyers as well. The USFS (DOA) comes under the Executive Branch, after all. Anyone with half a brain, whether from a military background or not, knows MAFFS are not cost effective and do not have fighting fire as their primary mission. But what is more important -- regardless of cost -- is that if one crashes, the FS will probably not be liable, as MAFF inspections are done by the military. Now there's the kicker.

You want the "safe, large ATs" flying again, go after congress to go after the NTSB to get the FAA taking responsibility for inspections and it will happen.

Red Mud

PS: Ab, please add this good informational link.

6/3 Startree,

I have worked in the supply unit on several incidents. Getting chainsaws for the crews that fly to the assignment has not presented that much of a problem. The crew can Fed-Ex the saws directly to the incident (you need a physical address which is sometimes hard to define when base camp is in the middle of nowhere on the map). The trick with this tactic is timing, by making sure you and your saws arrive together.

Or they can have the saws sent to the nearest field office or station near the incident. Also there is an inventory of saws available from the supply cache. And more can be ordered to supply these crews. Just a couple of ideas for adding wings to your chainsaw.

6/3 Air Tanker Saga Continued, continued and continued:

OK -- here's the quote posted earlier from the WO -- I put the bold in for a reason.

"We're working overtime with the Federal Aviation Administration on both short- and long-term plans, but in the meantime we can still do our firefighting job. We have hundreds of aircraft providing water-, foam-, and retardant-dropping capability, including medium and large helicopters, smaller single-engine air tankers, and military air tankers. ..... Our objective is to continue our record of success, suppressing 98 percent of fires upon initial attack....... Safety is our core value in firefighting. There is nothing we do in fighting wildfires that is worth losing one life."

Objectives, Safety and Tools:

1) Totally agree with Fedfire -- let's get the rotorheads all in a dither and check out the statistics on helicopter mishaps -- probably hard to dig up as the dirt is buried so deep within the community. Gliding would be my choice of hitting the ground rather than dropping like a rock.

2) And how about those SEATS? Let's take a look back at the end of the season (or two or three) -- safety record on a single engine versus multi-engine.....hmmmmm.

3) MAFFS -- here's a real kicker. Combination of all sorts of political stuff -- including "Objectives" -- I honestly believe that some of the previous postings were right on -- take a look at the head of Aviation for the FS -- military guy through and through. So, the "real" objective has been met -- get rid of the private sector and go with the military. Well, folks, these guys are fighting a war -- do you think they'd rather sit around a tanker base picking their nose waiting for the action to start (which has been ingrained in OUR culture, NOT the military culture).

Enough said -- I am ABSOLUTELY NOT an aviation expert, nor do I wish to be, but as a friend recently said to me: "You are SO retired" -- which is is SO right, and I'm SO glad to be, just because of some of the politically asinine events, comments, etc. like these that continue to spew from the agencies to cover "whatever." Better to "look good" than "be good."

Cache Queen

6/3 Thanks again for all the input on flying and saws. Fed-Exing the saws sounds interesting.
In your experience who picked up the cost? Any horror stories?

6/3 First time Firefighter, and other hopefuls:

Many northzone community colleges offer an array of fire related courses- both summer & regular session. Check with the community college closest to home; many city based community colleges offer outreach classes in smaller towns. Off-site-campus instructors often bend over backwards to accommodate FF students' work schedules.

Even if you don't get hired as a FF this season, obtaining an education is never a waste of time! Competent support staff are needed to keep the folk physically battling a rager safer...computer geeks, dispatchers, timekeepers, etc... many of those jobs are seasonal & it's a foot in the door if you think firefighter is your goal. For every crew you see on the news there is an equal number of people working below the media's radar.

Best wishes to all, especially those recuperating from injuries.

6/3 I spent a little time looking around on the airtanker page and one thing struck me. A big chunk of that site is dedicated to trying to get PSOB for airtanker pilots, including some statistics on how dangerous the AT pilot job is. On the other hand there is a significant amount of space dedicated to showing that it is really not that dangerous, and that the contract cancellation was "arbitrary, capricious, and counter-productive".

In terms of marketing this is a mixed message, each argument weakening the other. I think they would be wise to carefully pick their battles, and drop the PSOB campaign until they have missions to fly.

6/3 To the EMT who wants to go out a as a Line EMT:

I believe -not sure- that you have to be Single Resource Boss qualified before you can do the
Line EMT thing, if i am not mistaken. And that means you gotta have Squad Boss, Engine Boss,
and a few other things dialed in before that happens.

I'm hazy on specifics, but it's a little more complicated than it sounds, i believe. Good luck
nonetheless, and if you learn different, let me know!

6/3 Sorry to hear about the airtanker deal. Aero union took it in the shorts. A shame. They are a really top flight company.
Thought I'd share this link I found on Evergreen's New Air Tanker, 747 Air Tanker FAQ's Might as well figure out how to play the hand that's dealt us. I was wondering if these big things can land at most existing Tanker Bases? ( i.e. is the runway long enough?) Anybody know?

Just curious. Could be an interesting summer. Take care and C.Y.A.

6/2 Hi Ab,

To First Time Firefighter,

Santa Rosa Junior College is offering the CDF Wildland Firefighter Academy this summer session. There are two one-week long sessions. One running 6/7-6/13 and the next running 6/14-6/20.

You might also check out the Fire 66 class, Wildland Fire Control, if you live in the area and will be around for several weeks. It runs 6/15-7/22 on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Last time I looked this class earned you S130 and S190 and I think a couple other S certs. But better check on that to be sure though.


Kenwood FPD
6/2 Flying and saws --

Remember a few weeks ago when someone wondered why
shot crews were always driving instead of flying?

Flying and saws are one of the reasons.

Nothing makes you feel like an idiot (on a shot crew,
or possibly any experienced/good crew) arriving on an
incident, after flying in, and finding out that the
receiving unit/fire provides you with:

0 saws
1 Bus w/ bus driver
3 Pulaskis (dull)
3 shovels (Ames variety, purchased from Ace Hardware)
6 McClouds
8 Combi's
1 Falling Axe
1 Drip Torch
20 Lunches
600 MREs

and a map printed from Mapquest.

I still believe, screw this flying. Drive. You
should have all of the equipment you need, and can get
the job done. And, in my opinion, if you're on a fire
ordering crews, and flying a crew in IS an option
(because the crew is so far away), you're already SOL
on that fire. It's going big. What's another few
hours to have a crew show up properly equipped?

6/2 So, did anyone else think that the NBC Nightly news story about Evergreen Aviation's 747
airtanker was total political BS?

They briefly covered the heavy airtanker contract cancellation, then showed the C130 loosing
its wings on a drop last year(???). This was followed up by fantastic footage of the new toy..
er tool being tested. The pilot/project leader for Evergreen even said they hop to have it certified
for later this fire season.

It's insane if you ask me.

6/2 This came out from the WO:

Why Suspend the Use of the Large Air Tankers?

Since the mid-1950s when we began using air tankers on wildland fires, we have relied primarily on older, surplus military aircraft. They served us well, reliably, and safely for many years. However, as fire seasons passed, these aircraft aged, and the stresses of working in a wildfire environment, where frequent and aggressive low-level maneuvers and high levels of turbulence are the norm, began to take a toll. That toll turned tragic.

In the last decade accidents began to happen. Most recently, in 2002, two air tankers fell from the sky, with the crews giving their lives. We must guard against the possibility that not only additional crews, but also lives and property on the ground could be lost in a crash.

That's why we terminated the contract for these tankers pending a determination that they can be operated safely. The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that the tankers have potential structural problems that might lead to a catastrophe if we send them to fight a fire. The NTSB has further determined that there is no means currently to immediately ensure the air worthiness of these aircraft.

We're working overtime with the Federal Aviation Administration on both short- and long-term plans, but in the meantime we can still do our firefighting job. We have hundreds of aircraft providing water-, foam-, and retardant-dropping capability, including medium and large helicopters, smaller single-engine air tankers, and military air tankers. In addition, we have thousands of firefighters -- including smokejumpers and hotshot crews -- as well as fire engines and bulldozers ready to fight fires on the ground, which is critical to stopping fires from spreading. Contrary to widespread belief, fires are stopped on the ground -- not from the air. Our objective is to continue our record of success, suppressing 98 percent of fires upon initial attack.

We understand public concern, but the American people expect us not to place lives at needless risk. Safety is our core value in firefighting. There is nothing we do in fighting wildfires that is worth losing one life.

Kathleen Clarke is director of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management
Dale Bosworth is chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service
6/2 Howdy Abs!

I'm of to see my youngest daughter graduate from high school this evening!
Man do I feel old all of a sudden!

When her sister graduated 6 years ago, it was bad enough.......now the baby
is heading out into the world.

The strange thing is, neither one wants to be in the fire service! Go figure ;)

Stay safe everyone, it's getting hotter and drier remember safety first, last and always!

Captain Emmett
6/2 Does anyone know where in Northern Calif. I can get the CDF 67 hour Wildland Firefighter Certificate? I'm not currently a firefighter (not for the lack of trying) but would like to get this cert. to increase my chances next year or later this season.

First time Firefighter

In the last 4 years everyone who took and passed the Humboldt Co ROP has been hired. It's much more than 67 hours. ROP training is on the links page under training and education. Have you tried calling CDF? Ab.
6/2 Startree
According to the Eastern Area Interagency Mobilization Guide " 22.3.2 Type 2 crews when traveling by air are not expected to arrive with tools or chainsaws" I suspect this is why your interagency crew doesn't travel with saws.

Here is a link to the EACC guide on the web. www.fs.fed.us/eacc/library/mob_guide/index.shtml

There are lots of interesting documents out on their site you might want to look at if you haven't already.



Thanks for the links and welcome to theysaid. Ab.

6/2 hi, im an emt from colorado that would like to know how to get listed to go
out as a line emt (overhead). i have had 130 and 190 a year ago.

thanks for the help.

dcadmedic9@excite .com
6/2 Startree,

1. It is not ONLY shot crews that are flying saws. Any crew that has sawyer quals and saws can TRY and fly them.

2. Not all airlines will allow saws, regardless of how clean they are.

3. You can help the process by insuring that the saws, the chaps, EVERYTHING, are spotless. No oily rags, no saw bags that smell like fuel and oil, and no fuel or oil of any kind.

4. ALWAYS take your saws to the airport. If they will not allow them to go with you, have your local district FEDEX them to the fire. No kidding!! Just have them shipped by commercial carrier to the fire camp / district, whatever. Obviously, insure them, and the same clean standards apply. Also, have them shipped with a return receipt required.

6/2 OD, Startree,

Not even Hotshot Crews can carry saws on commercial airlines no mater how clean and purged they are. If you know any that have since 9-11, I would like to know what airline they used. You can carry saws on the Evergreen charter planes out of Boise, check with NIFC but not on some other charters. I researched this extensively several times over the past years and there is simply no one willing to take the liability on a commercial aircraft with passengers. However there is a way if you will it. Get your dispatchers and cache folks to help you ship your saws to you air freight, FEDEX or UPS, they will arrive within a day or two of you on the fire or back at home if you demob commercial after mobilizing charter.

Thanks for the heads up the WUI hazards there OD. Can’t argue with you about the methlabs but electricity and gas have been around a while. BSAFE.

6/2 TahoeFD: Nomad is correct advising you to find boots that fit YOUR feet. high top, lace up; no steel shank/toe cap for wildland fire use. break them in right! try lightweight sox under a heavier cotton pair; some baby powder sprinkled in those boots might help for personal comfort during the break in process. (there was a store in Placerville that sold & refurbished Whites, dunno if it's still there).

SoCal CDF: I read your 5/27 post; still curious how it will interface with the entrenched CA SEMS & RIMS & local gov't mutual aid.

SOCAL Dispatcher and Keestrokes: thanks for posting your explanation re. the beginnings ROSS.
Startree: take a closer look at airport safety regs subsequent to 9/11. As OD stated, airlines have beefed up their security stds for everyone hoping for a hop on an non-Fed aircraft.

happy landings all, be safe!

R5PITA (soon to retire)
6/1 Do not forget about wesco boots. This company has been very good to my feet and the
boots seem to last just as long as any other boot.

6/1 TahoeFD

The big difference between wildland & structure boots is one thing- steel. My Chippewa's (typical urban FD
footwear) have a steel shank & a steel toe. My White's (classic Wildland boot) are ALL leather, except for
the shoelace eyelets.

Also, you don't really want to do the zip-up boot thing with your wildland boots. On wildfires, you hike over
rough terrain. You need shoes that are snugg & offer lots of ankle support.

Realistically though, just go to a boot store and ask for wildland fire fighter boots. Any reputable brand (Nick's,
White's, Red Wings, etc) will be NFPA, OSHA, CAlOSHA, etc approved.

6/1 You are falsely wrong that minorities that are not qualified are being hired. I am a female hispanic and have worked at <snip> Job Corp. for 14 years and started as a GS-5 and am still a GS-5. I have a degree in Social Work, plus over 25 years of experience working with youth. <snip> who is a disabled Europeon caucasion hired and promoted all white male and females and all white gays and lesbians. He discriminated against minorities and the Civil Rights Division did nothing and continue to discriminate against Hispanics especially. Everyone in government is burying their heads in sand so they do not see what is going on. What kind of country are we still living in? The government wants us to fight in a war but not to have civil rights. You need to look into this if you don't believe this is happening. JGA. I have filed 35 EEO complaints and they rather spend the money to investigate then resolve my problem. I dare anyone to get involved and start investigating into these matters. Thank you for listening.

Are you a wildland firefighter? Did you go for a wildland firefighting job? Were you denied a wildland firefighting job? Ab.
6/1 I updated the Jobs page and federal wildland firefighter job series 0462 and 0455. Ab.
6/1 OD:

Thanks for the info. Sometimes we use the Mob center in Harrisburg Pa., other times it's commercial.
Either way the answer is still the same. No saws! I figured it was a hassle, but I had to ask.

Take care,
6/1 Bankburnfs,

One thing to consider is the increase in hazmat. When we talk WUI today we are talking propane tanks, power lines, hazardous chemicals, meth labs, etc. And CDF Mike in Arroyo is right about the fuel loading. Who's to say when it was harder to fight fire, but there are certainly some complications now that they didn't have to deal with back in the day, and on the other hand they didn't have Nomex. I'm gonna refer folks to an article that headlined the National Geographic in 2002 (August or September issue?) on Russian Smokejumpers. Talk about tough firefighting! Those guys make do with nothing! I have often thought it must be so difficult for those Russian firefighters who come over here to go back! Compared to them we are fighting fire in luxury.


Here's the story on chain saws. Its up to the pilot and the airlines. Same story as when we charter a flight. Even if the airline and the pilot agree to fly it those chain saws have to absolutely spotless and tanks have to be completely empty. (Some hotshot crews have been known to run theirs through do-it-yourself carwash). Your MOB Center will also come in to play on this one. There are some Mob Centers that have an established relationship with their airport and the airport knows there is no way that Mob Center would let a less than perfectly packed chain saw through. They have no trouble flying saws out of those places usually. Some Mob Centers don’t have that same reputation. I'm willing to guess you run into a problem out East because people aren't so well verse in fire. I know when I flew out of an airport in the Midwest once they didn't recognize my Nomex, I got stopped at every check point, and they guy at security almost deployed my fire shelter! Flying out of Montana they saw my Nomex and asked for my Redcard (showing your Redcard is SUPPOSED to exempt you from random searches at security but not everyone on all the airlines know or follow this) and I breezed right through. I don't know if you guys even use a Mob Center on your deployments, but if you do, that's something that will have to be worked out between them and the airports taking you guys. And there may be some rule some lead Forester has made out there to boot. But on our side of the hill you can sometimes work it out to fly saws though most people don’t like have to deal with the issue because it is such a pain in the rear. Usually it’s only shot crews that get to travel with their saws.

6/1 CDF Mike,

You have been around long enough to see the impacts that technology has made for good or bad on wildland firefighting but I can’t agree with you that firefighting is more or less dangerous that in the past. Or, that there is more WUI now. Think back to your history lessons, Pestigo, WI, the 1910 fires and Wallace, ID, the Malibu fires of the 50s’ and 60’s, the Panorama fire and the Oakland fire. Our history is full of interface fires we just did not call them that until a few years ago. I could argue that there is less WUI now because the cities and towns of the past were surrounded by forest and wildlands. Most people 100 years ago lived in the WUI, now most people live in the city surrounded by concrete and pavement.

Also, if as you say, firefighting is more dangerous, more difficult and we are operating with fewer options, I might suggest we should be more cautious and less aggressive in our tactics? As the saying goes “Fools rush in where Angels dare not tread”.

6/1 Greetings from the Great Green East:

I'm looking for some input on a problem we've had for sometime. My State, along with others from the
East have been flying fire crews to all parts of the country for sometime, but we aren't allowed to bring
our saws. Finding saws on host districts or fire camps can sometimes be difficult.

Is this a rule that's just imposed on us or is it across the board? There's even a scenario in the S-230
curriculum that talks about flying saws.

6/1 Jason and The Squirrel

Like SS and Fedfire said "there are alot of other agencies and states to apply to. I've had my share of "biscuits" ie; letters of rejection from alot of agencies, around the country and different agencies. You have to be willing to take a job on the Boondock or Middle of Nowhere Forests wherever they may be. So what if you have to live in Bunkhouses in one-horse towns, do it, Even if it is for just a season or two. You'll gain experience and education. It has taken me 5 years as a seasonal to get a permanent job with the feds. Just keep doing the good job you know you can and you will succeed. By the way, my Agency will be looking for a few firefighters (regardless of race, creed, color). just keep plugging away and be the best firefighters you can. Keep up with the applications and contacts.

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