"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
October, 2004

Home of the Wildland FireFighter

DATE
SUBJECT    (Previous Archive: Sept-04)

Return to Archives Page

10/31 Just wondering if anyone out there knows what happens if a permanent
employee refuses to sign an evaluation.  It's already been through CORE,
with no solution on the horizon.

S
10/31 Dear Firefighters:

I am forwarding this American Heart Association federal alert (below) out to our friends in the AED and Emergency Response community. Please distribute it widely!! With our alert system, you can FAX our support letter to Capitol Hill AT NO COST TO YOU!! Please take a moment to TAKE ACTION and also -- forward this to friends, colleagues, and others you know who might want to support federal funding programs that place automated external defibrillators in your community.

We may sending this to some of our Grassroots Network at a later date, so I apologize in advance if you receive this alert more than once.

All the very best,
KBM

Tell Your Members of Congress to Support AED Funding

You can help bring life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to your community and other communities nationwide.

The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate will soon have to come to agreement on how much to invest next year in AED programs. The current House level is only half of what Congress invested last year, while the Senate provision will keep AED programs funded at last year's level of nearly $11 million.

AED programs save lives. Tell your members of Congress to support Senate funding recommendations for AED programs by sending them a message today.

Send your letter now.

American Stroke Association
American Heart Association

10/31 Hi,
Just was looking through your very impressive site, well done.

I am a forest fire fighter with Forestry SA and also with the State Country Fire Service in South Australia. Forestry SA is just taking delivery of its new replacement fire trucks. (photos on Engines 12) They have been purpose built for us using the Australian Defence Industries (ADI) "Bush Master" armoured personnel carrier as its base frame.

It has been a three year project to turn them into a "proper" fire truck as we have very strict guide lines as far as crew having safety goes. The fire trucks they are replacing were built for us in the early eighties by RFW in Sydney and have come to the end of their commercial life, but still are far superior than anything on the market even today.

I thought your readers might like to see what it would be like to go to a fire in an armoured carrier.

if you're are at all interested I would be happy to send more pictures as these were taken in the forest compound and really don't do the vehicle any justice.

Cheers

Chris Hourigan
Forestry SA

Thanks Chris. Ab.

10/31 DW, re: Food

The best CDC kitchen: Growlersburg, hands down! We had them on the
Power Fire and they were top notch. I rank them easily in the top 3, private
or inmates!

I cannot remember the name of the private caterer we had in WA last year
that was the best, but Cattleman's was close.

The worst ever, EVER! is Hog Heaven! The one I cannot remember
replaced them.

BB
10/31 Anyone going to Fire Tech -Reno this week?
Will be in tomorrow.
Could meet at The ElDorado @ "The Brew Brothers" for lunch, brew & cigar.
We'll have a "Fire Chat Live" session.

sfirelake
10/31 Forestfire25,

In regards to your inquiry, there was a webcast/call in question answer session a few days ago about the 401 series. There is a website with a fair amount of info and that is ifpm.gov I believe. Its a pretty bold move if you ask me, in the sense that they are requiring us to take "ology," classes, in order to label us "safer," firefighters. Folks that need classes/education have until October 1st 2009 to do so or they would be removed from their positions. To me it sounds like Washington is still trying to keep us in the "Natural Sciences," type of job descriptions instead of Professional Wildland firefighters. Im sure Mellie and Casey could provide a ton of more info than me... if they're reading.

NZHelitack

www.fs.fed.us/fire/news_info/webcast.phpl for starters. Comments anyone? Ab.

10/31 northzone.

I don't believe I have had the pleasure of trying a Mendo DownTownBrown,
your recommendation makes me want to.

Thanks,

BB
10/31 Food:

How about a survey on wildland food caterers? Both CA and Federal? How about any improvements that could be made as to product or what you like to see in breakfast to lunches to dinners. You guys all work hard. What about a say in what you get. These caterers also work a lot of hours getting this prepared for you. They'd like your opinions too. There's always room for improvement all the way around on both sides of the coin. Want to take a stab at it?

DW

10/31 Hi folks,

I've heard that the feds are going to convert the 0455 & 0462 series to 401 series?
How will this affect all the senior fire fighters and above to the GS-7 level Fire folks?
any info on this will be gladly taken. Also all the non fire people ie.. dispatcher types
of people.

Thanks
Forestfire25

Welcome to theysaid. Ab.
10/31 BB, although I agree with you about mutts, I'll trade you 2 Sierra Nevada's for ONE Mendo DownTownBrown!
FUELS GUY, thanks for the chuckle < grins, I'd add more, but the Abs might get cranky, again.
Do not bad mouth any FF. 10-15 yrs ago, many CCC kids (juvies) had an opportunity to get into CA FF & jumped from the state system to a job with the FEDS and became some of the best Fed wildland firefighters you will ever meet! kudos to them!!

Re: CDF inmate crew debate; a marriage of convenience?

ALL< more importantly: TUESDAY, VOTE & VOTE RESPONSIBLY!

northzone
10/31 Hi Everybody, Now that the season has slowed down and the weather has turned towards Winter my thoughts have changed from fire putting-out to fire starting and I am trying to find a source for fire starting aids such as Aluma Gel or Sure-Fire Gel or another product good for starting landing piles.  Any ideas?  Do any of you remember, back in the day, when we tried mixing styrofoam and gas?  Thanks for the help, Rock @ Wood's Fire, 1-888-309-3473
10/30 Someone who was at the Waterfall Fire (7/14-20, NV) should put in Walter's name for the Stihl Award. I'm sure he and other firefighters who have done similar things would say they were simply "doing their job" and anyone in their situation "would have done it" -- but they actually acted in a critical moment because it was the right thing.

Someone said to me the other day that viewing courage in another inspired courage in their own life regardless of the self-perceptions of the person who had "acted courageously". I believe that to be true. We inspire each other. Inspirational stories should be shared. (And BackburnFS, thanks for the Proverb 27:2 quote. I had to look it up.)

Beigefoot reported what Walter did on 7/17 theysaid. Remember this?

"I have seen many brave and heroic things on this fire, but my crew has decided that Diamond Mountain IHC crew member Walter <no last names> can be on our crew any time. As Diamond Mountain was starting a burnout operation on the south side of Carson City, Walter saw a local homeless man sit up (after sleeping off his latest bottle) just as the crew was carrying fire up a road. Walter ran through the fire and literally picked him up onto his shoulder and RAN with him downhill to our ALS engine. Then he calmly went back to work. Walter, if you ever read this, my crew would like to buy you a cold one if you ever come back around here."

Thanks Beigefoot. Thanks Walter. And thanks to all in the wildland firefighting community who have inspired me.
Mellie

10/30 Readers,

For the third year in a row it is our pleasure to welcome Stihl as a sponsor of theysaid. Their banner is at the top of the page; it's a link to their website. Each year Stihl solicits entries for their National Forestry Heroism Award. They are looking for anyone who

"can truly be recognized as a 'hero'; an individual who has exhibited an act or acts of bravery, valor and morality in putting the welfare of others ahead of personal risks or gains."

I know you all are a modest bunch and say you're just doing your job when you "do good", but it is also fitting that awards are given honoring those whose behavior "shines" in a critical moment and demonstrates to all of us who we really are and what our values are. I hope you all will all go to Stihl's website, read their information, consider who you might nominate, and then nominate them.

As I've offered in previous years, this Ab is willing to help anyone with the nomination process. It's not difficult.

Ab.

10/30 To those who have posted about, or are interested in, the USFS Apprentice Program,

Here is my personal experience ( in a nut-shell...) for you to consider....

* Signed into the program in March of 2002, and attended basic academy #19 with 3760 work process hours to be completed.
* Attended advanced academy and graduated in 2003.
* Finished the work process hours in the early months of 2004, but still needed to acquire some of the supplemental training courses before conversion could begin.
* "Qualified for Conversion" letter dated 7/ 20 / 04.
* Date conversion was approved, 10 / 29 / 04, retro-active to 9 / 19 / 04.
* Service agreement of 11,280 hours ( 3760hrs. X 3 ) to begin on conversion date.
* Estimated time of commitment to federal service: slightly more than 8 years.

SERVICE TIME BASED ON THE FOLLOWING:

* 2 years, 7 months to finish the program and convert non-competitively.
* Approximately 2040 hours available per year after conversion. ( 1440 base hours for an 18 and 8 tour and an estimated 600 hours of OT on a R-5 Helitack unit.)
* 11,280 hrs. divided by 2040 hrs. per year = 5.52 years
* 5.52 years + 2 years and 7 months = slightly more than 8 years.

Sincerely,
Mike Yearwood
R-5 LNF
10/30 Preferences:

4x4's: Sorry, Batchmaster, gotta agree with 'Type 1 gearhead on a Type 6 engine' here:
IH Scout! Anything else is just a car!
Huge torque, fleet engine that will go 300,000 miles, built like a tank and just plain unique!
Mine is a '72, 345, Warn OD.
Boots: Nick's, better quality, better service.
Dogs: Mutts, just because that is what I adopt, and all four have been great!
Beer: Batchmaster, I agree your first choice is a good one, the other two...
to each his own.
Guiness, Sierra Nevada, Abita Springs, and my favorite: Home brew.
All in good fun,

BB
10/30 Moose Drool is about like Snoose Drool. One time I was watching a baseball game with my grandpa and he left the room to take a p and while he was out I snuck a drink of his beer (I thought) and got a big swig of used Copenhagen. Cured me from both of those habits at once, for about 10 years anyway, I was about 5 or 6 at the time. Took my first chew of Skoal 3 minutes before my first helicopter ride, another rookie mistake.

I’ll have another Jubalale please.

GETTINREADYFORWINTER
10/30 motel humor

How many CDF'ers does it take to check into a motel room?
134.
One CDF Motel Unit Leader to set it up.
One CDF FOBS to find the 2 hour away motel.
One CDF Union Rep to assure HBO for a good nights sleep.
One CDF Law Dawg to make sure the drunk Hotshots are gonna return to the ICP quiet so as not to disturb the HBO movie ending. Sshheezzz.
One CDF lobbyist to petition legislators for more rural motels for the purpose of improving fire protection.
One CDF Spokesperson to explain the statewide motel deal and how its great to help the almost local economy.
One CDF CCBS (Caffeine and Continental Breakfast Specialist) to ensure appropriate calories etc for the drive back to the fire.
One hundred and twenty seven CDF employees to respond in an oversensitive manner to the "They Said" web site using the standard "It's in our contract" defense and thereby expose a collective group guilt.

{And don't forget that one Fed Fire Fighter that requests the 1:45 am wake up calls just for grins.}

Next Question:
If CDF inmate fire fighters are also on portal to portal, how long before they get motel rooms? 'Cause fire fighter well being is important for every single human being on the fireline. Right?
Or perhaps we just care less about "cons", regardless of how strong their union isn't or how hard they could work.

Fuels Guy

10/29 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated.

I posted 4 new pictures of the Bear and French Fires from Meko9 on Fire 24 photo page. Another one of Meko's from the Antelope on Fire 25 photo page. Some new photos from Mike Evans of ATs and helos on the Waterfall Fire on Airtankers 14 and Helicopters 17. Thanks contributors.

If anyone has sent in emails lately that haven't been posted, they may have gotten hung up in our spam filter. I try to check all spam, but sometimes something new comes in as I'm cleaning up and I've already hit the delete button and out it all goes. (LCV, did you send one?) Even if your post is no longer applicable, please email Ab so I can "whitelist" your email addy so your post won't get trashed next time. Ab.

10/29 BG,

Just one question, Were you ever on a federal hotshot crew?

Former R4 Shot

Former R4 Shot, this BG is CDF and just happens to have the same initials as the HS who sent in photos last month. I had forgotten that contribution or I would have added a middle initial or made the moniker "Another BG". Such confusion occasionally arises on an anonymous posting site. Thanks to both BGs. Ab hummin' "Stayin' alive, Stayin' alive, Ah, ah, ah, ah Stayin' alive..." must have a touch of Friday night fever...

10/29 Re Type 3 crews:

In southern Arizona in 2003, we had what was called a Type 3 hand crew. This crew was a "training" crew comprised of firefighters from mostly rural departments. The concept was to integrate qualified squad bosses and a crew boss, plus various trainee positions to help gain experience. The crew was used only in region for the beginning of fire season, and worked state fires, including initial attack. Later on, the crew did go to Montana for a two week assignment.

I know for the rural and urban structural/EMS departments who do wildland fires, this was a great help in getting wildland fire experience and a mixed group of experience levels with qualified leadership. I have not heard of any other Type 3 crews other than that, but I think it is a good concept. Why not open up the crew levels to one more type? Type 1 crews who are highly experienced, equipped, and national resources. Type 2 crews who are organized, possibly equipped, and moderately experienced. Then a Type 3 crew who is more restricted to local responses, has good experienced leadership, but is more aimed at training experiences in low complexity fire situations.

Just a thought.

AZfirefighter

10/29 Well not much to say except it was a safe year in CA this time. I have had a good time reading all your thoughts and input throughout the year. I hope that next year many of the issues will be worked out. Remember if you have a strong point to press, dont just sit and type it here, take it to someone who can do something with it. If we all speak up they will have to listen. Not just feds but any agency. So all you firefighters out there have a fun and productive winter and I will see you on the line come next year.

good bye
signed
jobless come nov13

ps over 400 hours overtime on the engine this year in so cal

We did have two CA firefighter deaths. Let's not forget Eva and Dan. I won't. Ab.

10/29 Going on record with my two cents worth,

Chevy is the only way to go. The Best? = '72 - '82 K5-Blazers

German Shepherd (Alsatian). The Best? = Male or Female, Classic Black &
Tan, Nothing smarter or more loyal.

Beer = 1st choice, Dead Guy Ale. 2nd choice, Olympia Stubbies. 3rd
choice, that new Michelob Lager.

Batchmaster
10/29 Ab, there's been so much discussion here, that I just got to weigh in.
Dodge, Whites, Black Butte. We got 8" of snow on the ground and the
seasonals go home today (as a former R5 Hotshot, I'll take a fed crew any
day).

Sign Me - NZone
10/29 Mollysboy wrote; Or maybe, Coors Lite vs Bud Lite vs
Black Butte Porter vs Moose Drool?

So to summarize what I've seen the past few days:
Hotshots = smells great?
CDF = less digging?

Do I have that right? Dam* I'm confused.

Fish
10/29 Ab,

As I am sure you know, there were two copies of the Cramer Fire Report that were released. The first one was "white-out" crazy which resulted in an outcry. The second one they released only censored the names. When they released the updated report they apparently scanned in a copy because the pictures and charts were of horrible quality. I have downloaded the most recent PDF, do you or anyone you know have the original PDF in which you can make out the pictures.

Thanks a lot

-BK
10/29 WA Willard, you can go to the r6 procurement site, and look at the
contract specs.

www.fs.fed.us/r6/ppm/fire_procurement.php

Not sure that they will have the 2005 solicitation up yet, be keep
checking.

Hope that helps.

dispatcher

10/28 Ab,

Here is the link to the 2004 Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation
Operations. www.fire.blm.gov/Standards/redbook.php. In Chapter 14,
page 14-8 is a chart showing crew standards for Type 1 thru Type 3 crews.
You'll notice there is no mention of Geographic Area or crew composition.
This was also in the 2003 version. I'm not positive, but I think the Type 3
crew classification was initiated in 2002.

R-8

10/28 To elaborate on Mollysboy's comment.

Don't forget the biggest discussion topic, to be decided next Tuesday.
Whatever candidates that you like or dislike, please at least show up and
vote. It doesn't help Casey and our other friends in Washington and the
state capitols if the people they are trying to represent don't bother to
vote. Other than $$$,$$$,$$$, our votes are the only other influence that we
have on the politicians.

Tree

I'm Ab, and I approve this message.

10/28 Ab,

This is my first time writing, but I've been reading for years. I found the discussion on crews interesting. The types have changed so much in the last years that it was hard to understand how they're different. I think I know now. I like it that this kind of discussion happens here. I know lots more than I used to. Thanks. As far as the other topic mentioned, I am not interested in beer or dogs or even boots right now.

Can anyone tell me about the meeting for Engine and Tender owners/operators (Okanogan, WA)? I missed it cause I'm taking care of a sick relative. Heard those above FF2 are going to have to have more classes and taskbooks and they're going to make sure equipment is dispatched and the equipment/driver is no farther away than owners say it is, etc, etc. I'd like to know the details and what people think. I'm good for the training (did it with BIA), but some owners may now have to eat their vegetables before going to heaven. Is it true engines and tenders are going to have to have more equipment on them? What? Someone said there was going to be a point system and more points for how good your truck is and how well you perform; that's going to be linked to call list?

Anyone know details? or how I can get the details?
Anyone have any opinions?

Thanks in advance.

WA Willard

10/28 YES! I'm with Mollysboy.......Black Butte Porter
Rocks! ain't nothin' better.

firegirl
10/28 Friends- ain't we beat the issue of Fed IHCs and CA Inmate crews way beyond the point of dead?
Let's get back to boots or Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge!

Or more importantly, Golden Retrievers vs Black Labs vs German Shorthairs;

Or maybe, Coors Lite vs Bud Lite vs Black Butte Porter vs Moose Drool?

Mollysboy
10/27 Firechat?

The Peanut Gallery

10/27 I don't have any interesting points of view to throw into the CDF vs. IHC
Type 1 crew discussion, but while reading all that I thought that one of
the main differences may be the entrance requirements. Which leads me to a
story...and this is no bullsh*t. At the Yellowstone fires back in '88 I
was a DIVS and ended up with military units on my division. Many of you
know that military units have a civilian Military Crew Advisor (MCAD)
assigned to each crew. A lot of the crews on my division had CDF MCADs,
most of whom ran CDF crews back on their home unit.

Well, one day I was eating lunch on the line with one of the military
crews, and listening to this enlisted guy that was going on and on about
how much he loved fighting fire and how badly he wanted to get into it when
he got out of the military. Apparently he really respected the CDF MCAD
his crew was working with, so the troop was bugging the guy endlessly,
sucking up and babbling during the entire meal break that when he got out
he really, really, REALLY wanted to fight fire for CDF under the MCAD guy.
The CDF MCAD was trying to eat his meal quietly, listening to this spray
for as long as he could stand it. Finally he said, "Okay kid, here's the
deal: you get out of the army, come to California, rob a liquor store, and
I'll see what I can do for ya." Then he leaned back and pulled his hard
hat over his eyes, trying for a few quiet moments of rest before work
started up again.

I just about choked on my green ham spamwich, laughing my a** off and
rolling on the ground.

BLM Bob
10/27 Nerd,

I have not see them on the line, but what I have heard is that they are essentially 
type 2 crews without saw qualifications; A few of the Southwest Native Crews, 
and AD Crews from the East. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's what 
I remember hearing. Pretty much just Mopping up and Rehab.

Bored Hotshot
10/27 Ab, 

Here is a picture of a burn out hitting the main fire on the Fischer Fire, Leavenworth WA.

BackburnFS

Excellent flames. We posted it on the wildlandfire.com Home page and made it available on the Wallpaper page. I have it on my computer. Thanks BackburnFS. 

Also some new photos from Mike Evans on Airtankers 14, Helicopters 17, and Fire 24. Ab.

10/27 Hot Shot Crews vs CDF Hand Crews. 

The main difference between the crews is "situational awareness."

Hot shot crew members are folks who have pursued this career with the intention of becoming intelligent, experienced, well trained professional firefighters. Inmate Crew members have probably signed on as a 2-for-1 candidate. (Meaning 2 days off their sentence for every 1 done in Camp). And these folks have not pursued a career in the fire service. The Fire Captain of the CDF Handcrew will provide hours of training to these inmates, both technical and manipulative lessons, and when it comes down to it, the training and experience which together align into this "situational awareness" is still loaded towards the hot shots. But as far as work production rate, quality and quantity of work are concerned, it is a push. The main difference again is the "situational awareness" of the personnel in the hook line behind you.

For some other issues that need clarification:

-CDF handcrews do "hotline". I guarantee it !
-CDF handcrews do know and use firing techniques. I guarantee it !
-Amazingly, CDF handcrews occasionally fight fire well off the road.
-Can CDF Crews get shuttled via copter? Yes, it is an annual skill test for the Captains and trained with at each camp. Or believe
this , we can hike !!
- And the cleared space also known as a "heli-spot" was probably cut by the helitack folks.

LET the animosity go and acknowledge both crews serve with pride.

CURRENT CDF CREW CAPTAIN

CDF Capt, I don't think there's a whole lot of animosity here. There is a lot of pride and that's good. Ab.

10/27 "The only person I have to prove to that I am better than is.... Myself!"

GH
10/27 BG

CDF crews are great but, if i need a crew for burning a piece of line I surely want Fed crew. Also fed crews' experience is much greater than any cdf crew I have seen in my 22 years. As IC, Ops, and Divs, I would take a fed crew over a cdf crew any day. Fed crews carry lots of tools in their box that make them much more useable: the overhead supt can function in the position as Divs for you, how could you do this with a state crew? Firing devices, firing teams, most carry portable pumps and hose, c fallers, supt vehicle is great to support the crew logistics in extended attack, most have numerous EMTs on the crew. Multiple overhead for scouting.

My understanding the CDF crew captains are promoted out of engineer positions and mostly from schedule A contract counties or fire districts. The fed crews have a career ladder in the hand crew organization, crewmember, squad boss, crew captain, supt.. Now really which crew do you want? Were all proud of our hand crews.

Sign me, 
Rhino.

PS. Great work Abs, read the site daily, have not written in for a few years.

10/27 Crews

It seems to me that this all kind of ties back into the whole “dispatching the closest resource” argument. All type 1 crews are not created equal, all type 2 crews are not created equal. I’ve seen a good type 2 run circles around a lousy type 1. The Initial Attack guide and the fireline handbook lay out “ideal theoretical scenarios” for how each type of crew SHOULD operate, but we all know that’s not how it works. In my experience (admittedly limited), crews get most appropriately assigned when overhead knows the crews best. I think that’s best accomplished when local resources are given priority in local assignments. As far as the little Useless Florist Circus versus Dead Army “you doesn’t respeck us” quibble…bloody hell, folks, imagine how we vollies feel!

Now would somebody please tell me what the bleep is a Type 3 crew? We talk about type 1s, type 2s, and I saw type 3 on Bored Hotshot’s pdf (thanks for posting that, by the way, that was informative), and I’ve never heard any discussion about ‘em, never seen one on the line. Is that just a type 2 that couldn’t get enough experienced people?

Nerd on the Fireline

10/27 The whole discussion about Hotshots vs other types of crews has been hashed
out for decades. Those who know, know they don't have anything to prove.

Hotshots, do your job with an attitude of servant leadership and humble
professionalism, and don't worry about the good, better, best thing.

Proverbs 27:2 <Ab snipped quote>

Backburnfs

Ab, here is a picture of a burn out hitting the main fire on the Fischer
Fire, Leavenworth WA. <Photo coming soon.>
10/27 Ab,

I think I have my limit now. It was a good showing.

CDF (Type 1A) Jake

Trolling again Jake?? haw, haw. Ab.

10/27 Ab,

No sweat on the slow server. Computers have a mind of their it own it would seem.

Type I vs CDF handcrews.

BG wrote, "I think allot has to do with the fact that hotshots label our crews as "inmates". . ."

Or it could have to do with them being inmates.

Proud hotshot (hotshot)
10/27 Regardless of the "we're better than you are" or "my dog can beat your dog" attitudes, several questions remain unanswered:
>how far off road can CA crews go to fight fire? >how does that CA crew get to the fire? >when did CDF begin deploying an orange crew via heli drop miles from any road? >who cleared space for that rig to land? <inquiring minds would like clarification.
Did someone forget there are thousands of acres of off road wilderness territory in CA, most of it Federal lands?

be safe y'all
northzone
10/26 Contract County Guy,

Any 'Type 1" crew, or a Type 2 'can' perform well in a given situation. But, on the whole, my experience (STL, DIVS, OSC) has been that nothing beats a Hot Shot crew!

"24 our shift?- forget the shots" Wrong! Flat wrong! Many, if not most will do that willingly, I have had them lobby for it even though the fed rules discourage it.

Just because you cannot figure out the standards/rules does not make them invalid! They are there for a reason and the inmate crews do not meet the standard. The inability to 'squad' them make them less useful!

Some of the Inmate crews do a great job, no doubt, but it is dependent on the quality of the overhead. Most simply do not stack up to most of the Hot Shots.

Digger Pine
10/26 BG.... nice try confusing the Fed folks.....

BG, a single Federal Type 1 crew can be broken into squads as the standard requires. Why would I order a CDF Strike Team of Crews to get the same job accomplished? Why would I spend money on extra folks that are not needed (two extra CDF Captains, 13-17 extra inmates, and wow.... a CDC Officer and Sergeant and CDC backfill costs).

BG, you seem to be just looking at the narrow view.... open your eyes and see what the bored hotshot is saying.....  You actually might be agreeing on several points and could find some middle ground to agree on and actually start a discussion instead of a pissing match.

Contract County Guy.... your statement...  "God has blessed me with a long career, long enough to see that these crews are all worth their salt and know that people who spend time arguing this point just for the sake of an interpretation of a federal document haven't figured it out yet...."

Contract County Guy... believe it or not..... many of these folks are not "arguing" for the sake of interpretation of a federal document ... they are discussing the issues for the safety of everyone involved..... Federal, State, and Local Govt. employee...

Rogue Rivers

Checklist of Minimum Crew Standards & how CDF crews fare
10/26 I think the biggest reason we (CDF) call our crews "Type 1" is so the
Forest Service can understand what we do as a fire crew within the State of
California. We don't care if we don't or Can't go to N. Carolina. It is not
our mission. We work for the state not the federal government. Amongst us we
consider ourselves nothing more and nothing less then Fire Crews.

For what ever reason, hotshots have a hard time figuring out what we
are. I am not sure if hotshots are confused by the fact our fire crew cuts
great line, are well groomed and are well disciplined Fire Fighters. Or when
they are in base camp they take pride to make sure they are clean and
presentable when going through the food line and in Base camp. Because by
judging by what we have seen this fire season, their are a few shots crews
out there making the rest of the good hotshots look real bad.

I think allot has to do with the fact that hotshots label our crews as
"inmates" and that they feel that gives them the right to have the "Holier
than though" attitude.

On the positive side, I will have to say that it was a great year for
working with FS engine crews. Came across engine crews that were willing to
help, were professional and acted as though we were all on the same side.
And that was a pleasure to see and be a part of.

BG
10/26 Its kinda fun to read the threads about T-1/IHC/CA inmate crews, as long as you've got a glass of good red wine in hand and a good baseball game on the tube.

So, lets get back to the Basics: what makes a type 1 Crew? Looks to me like "BG" called it right - is her/his description any different than that used by the highly esteemed Smokejumpers when they configure themselves into a 18-20 person crew? They take 20 individuals who've never been on the same fire together (except by a fluke of the jump List). put them under someone who hasn't been their direct everyday supervisor, and then declare themselves a Type 1 crew. Can you spell "Mann Gulch"?
The CDF inmate crews, if they meet the criteria, seem to meet the Type 1 definition.
Don't like the CDF crews calling themselves Type 1? Get NWCG to change the definition! Don't like their performance on a wildfire, document it!
I've been Ops Chief with nothing but Fed T1 Crews, and have had mostly successful experiences, but can remember some AWFUL IHC's too! Had some great CA inmates, as well as some BAD crews. Both were usually the fault of their supervisors!

Bottom Line: these "Pulaski Motors" are usually the ones that cut our fireline, burn it out, and hold it. Be they Fed IHC's or CA inmates, us OPS folks depend on them mightily, and should do all we can to enhance/encourage/improve/compliment their performance!

Aberdeen
10/26 I was wondering if anyone has heard of a rumor that Region-6 Hotshot squadleaders
are going to be bumped up to GS-07's... As a matter of insight, does anyone know
how the BLM IHCs pulled it off? Sure would be nice if the rest of the Hotshot/Helitack
community supported this.

NZ

10/26 ME

The last time I went through the RELO process, you had to have a minimum of
two appraisals, and then RELO split the difference, and I think that in
cases where you feel you are really getting short sighted - you can submit
a third.

I had a house 115 years old.

Came out good on the deal.

But watch out on the end that you are moving to - since you'll only have 30
days to make sure you get in the new place.

Old Fire Guy is onto something, there is a way to come out ahead and I
believe that's if you already know you have a willing buyer - then there is
that incentive for making things happen yourself - beware though - NO such
thing as free money!

--gurgle, gurgle, gurgle
10/26 About type 1 crews, a wise man once told me " Don't ever believe your own
BS"!

A lot of that goes towards the discussion of which is a better type 1 crew,
Hotshots or CDF Inmates (or Los Angeles County run State Crews for that
matter). All are generally outstanding with great training, organization,
and capability, and there are various applications where one is better than
the other. For instance, coyote tactics? - you better find a shot crew. 24
hour shift?- forget the shots, get a CDF crew. And sure, one can
occasionally find a rare screwed-up crew that works for either the feds or
CDF. However, As far as placing arbitrary lines on the ground as to which
crew should do what work....that hasn't ever been defined to anyone's
satisfaction yet. I remember a Type 1 fire where I was working as a Branch
Director. I had an incredibly tough piece of line. It was the same place
where the famous picture was taken where the airtanker appears to be flying
into the ground. This nasty piece of line went straight up and down and had
fire hung all over it and wouldn't go out for days. All that was available
for this piece was CDF crews and a couple of MIL crews (hotshots in
training). Ya know what? These guys did an EXCEPTIONAL job of safely and
professionally putting in some very tough line. Nay-sayers talked then like
you guys are here..."hey that's TYPE 1 crew work and CDF crews/MEL crews are
not up for it, blah, blah, blah." Can't tell you how tired I get of hearing
that crap. I've walked proudly in hotshot boots and worked for CDF. God has
blessed me with a long career, long enough to see that these crews are all
worth their salt and know that people who spend time arguing this point just
for the sake of an interpretation of a federal document haven't figured it
out yet....

Contract County Guy
10/26 Whomever posted the list for IHC's:

You forgot to note the items required in the appendix
of the IHCOG -- specifically the items about annual
review, and if they have current GACC IHC status (that
says GACC not CDF) approval/support.

Which I suppose this is going to derivate into that
stupid system about Type1A,Type1,Type2 crew
organization BS -- but, in my mind (and I think a lot
of others) this is how it works:

Crew Classification Breakdown:

Type 1 an IHC. If a crew does not meet the IHC
standards it is not a type 1 or IHC.

The remainder are type 2 crews.

-AXE
10/26 Thanks for the info OLD FIRE GUY:

And yes it is business as usual with these guys. It's hard to get a fair
appraisal when the relocation companies are paying the appraisers. One of
the problems I'm having is that the appraiser said he has put my house at
the low end of the market so the company can move it faster. Fair market
value doesn't figure in with this type of thinking. And of course no one
in the agency is willing to help out their own. It's no wonder why people
with houses don't want to move because this has been a total nightmare for
my wife and myself and then with no agency backing it makes me wonder why I
give my all for this agency.

Some words of advice for anyone who plans on moving and has to put their
house through relocation: make sure you have all the paperwork done and
relocation has taken possession of your home before you leave for your new
assignment. For one your house appraises for more when your stuff is in
it and they like to come up with repair lists after you leave. Also make
sure you write down all conversations with the company representatives even
if things seem to be going well. I was assured everything was going good
and then we moved and then it all went hell. And last but not least, be
professional, I got a little upset one day and lost my temper and they made
a call to the regional office who eventually contacted me. It's funny that
the regional office will get all over me for losing my cool but won't
assist me with an even bigger problem.

Overall this move will end up costing me between $8000 and $10,000 dollars,
it's going to have to be a pretty good job for me before I think about
doing this again.

Thanks for the site Ab

ME
P.S. anyone know a good cheap lawyer. lol

Is it a done deal? Maybe someone reading here would like to buy a house in your location. Ab.

10/26 What’s a Type 3 crew? Never heard of ‘em.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/26 I updated the So Cal Fires photo description page last week and discovered that all 4 fires around San Diego were burning on October 26th, 2003. At the same time fires were burning a bit further north around LA.

Statistics on the San Diego Region Fires, all 4 of which were burning on October 26, 2003:
The Cedar Fire burned a California record 273,246 acres and destroyed 2,232 homes;
The Paradise Fire burned 56,700 acres;
The Otay Fire burned 45,971 acres; and
The Roblar II Fire burned 8,592 acres.

The fires around LA were also burning one year ago today.
The Grand Prix Fire burned 59,448 acres.
The Old Fire burned 91,281 acres.
The Simi Fire burned 108,204 acres.
The Padua Fire burned 10,446 acres.
The Verdale Fire burned 8,680 acres.
The Piru Fire  burned 63,991 acres.
The Mountain Fire burned 10,331 acres.
The Happy Fire was contained on the 25th at 287 acres.

Did I miss any?

Remarkable time.
For more details and links, check the SoCal Fires 2003 page. For photos, check the Cedar Fire etc photo page and the Grand Prix/Old/Simi Fires photo page.

Ab.

10/26 Ab note: the links are to pdf files.

Re the Type I handcrew thread...

Hand Crew Overhead qualifications

Type 1:

Superintendent: TFLD, ICT4; Asst Supt: STCR, ICT4; 3 Squad Bosses: CRWB(T), ICT5

Type 2IA: CRWB and 3 ICT5

Type 2: CRWB and 3 FFT1

Type 3: CRWB and 3 FFT1

Notes:

Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC) are a Type I crew that exceeds the Type I standards as required by the National IHC Operations Guide (2001) in the following categories:

  • Permanent Supervision with 7 career appointments (Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, 3 Squad Bosses)
  • IHCs work and train as a unit 40 hours per week
  • IHCs are a national resource

Questions:

Where Do CDF Crews fit in With Qualifications?

Do Inmates have Qualifications other than FFT2?

Bored Hotshot

10/26 ME:
Been a few years since my last move, but looks like TOS is "business as
usual"......low ball pricing. Most times I've had TOS appraisals come
out less than I paid for my house, but once had an appraisal of $17M above
what I had paid just a year previous. You can beat yourself senseless
trying to fight this through.

So......
check with your HR representative on the move, but I think the outfit now
offers you an option to "not take the offer" and opt instead for a $5M "do
it yourself" payment. Figure out what you can get selling the place
yourself, and use that $5M as a cushion to minimize the impact. Good
luck.

Old Fire Guy

10/26 This is a question for anyone who has had to deal with relocation and is
willing to give some advice. I'm currently going through a move and the
relocation company is low balling me on the price of my house. I've been
dealing with these people for over 3 months with no luck. I've contacted
the regional liaison officer but they don't really seem interested in
helping. Some advice or someone to contact would be appreciated.

Later
ME
10/26 Bored Hotshot et al.

Here we go again with the department of ag hand crews whining about CDF crews. By the standards listed below CDF crews can be considered "Type 1 crews" . While we don't usually split crews, it can happen. Usually not for long since we think a full crew usually is more efficient constructing line. But in Strike team configuration that gives us 3 Captains to handle things. And since we are the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, our crews are able to travel all through out the State of CA. Also, we can travel into other states depending on the situation. Hotline is what we do. We also mop up, rehab. We are very good at it.

When it is not "fire season" we are still working together on projects and training. All year long. Where will your crew be come January? Your "Elite" hand crews are only "Elite" during there "availability period"? Really does not help when we have the potential for fires and other emergencies all year long.

CDF crews will be there.

BG

22 MINIMUM MOBILIZATION STANDARDS

The following minimum standards apply to all IHCs:

1.. . Must have a minimum of 18 qualified personnel to be dispatched (refer to Chapter 20 Section 24).

2.. . Shall have no more than 20% of the crew with less than one season of fire experience.

3.. . Must have a permanently assigned supervisory staff (refer to Chapter 20 Section 23).

4.. . Must have an assigned availability period with a minimum of 90 consecutive days (including required days off).

5.. . Must work and train together a minimum of 40 hours per week during their availability period.

6.. . Will be able to mobilize within 2 hours of receipt of orders during their availability period.

7.. . Will be available for incident assignments with no geographic restrictions.

8.. . Will be able to break down into at least three squads for initial attack and/or other independent operations.

9.. . Must have assigned vehicles, hand tools, power saws and communications equipment configured for their needs (refer to Chapter 40 Section 43.1).

10.. . Will be logistically self-sufficient utilizing credit card or agency purchasing authority.
10/25 Oliver,

you ask.... "Is this a Hatfield and McCoy feud or is it a symptom of something larger?"

and you also asked... "what in the heck is going on at the interagency meetings and reviews prior to signing the Parent and local area agreements?"

Oliver, I wish I knew the answers... There will always be turf wars and egos involved no matter where you go.... but hopefully some folks will look at the whole picture and not just their individual parts in the equation.

Personally, I think the whole problem is within the Federal System of classification and the lack of having professional fire managers signing many of the "parent" documents. Jo Ann Davis, former Chairperson of the Civil Service and Agency Organization subcommittee of the US House of Representatives, realized that there was a problem with Federal civil service employees and tried to correct many problems. She was working on many items affecting federal law enforcement and wildland firefighting before she was reassigned. Even though Jo Ann Davis has been reassigned, the subcommittee is still working towards fixes on the issues.

Here is where the problems exist: The federal wildland agencies consider their employees NATURAL RESOURCE employees. The public (who pay the taxes and the bill) considers them to be PUBLIC SAFETY employees. Many members of Congress consider them to be FIREFIGHTERS... local and state Agencies have no idea where to consider our folks since it varies from state to state and area to area... somewhere in the middle we'll all meet in agreement.... When we do that, we will have a safer, more efficient, and more cost effective wildland firefighting workforce.


Sign Me.... WFOS .... IFPM Wildland Fire Operations Specialist without a proper series or degree.
10/25 Oliver's post: What is roflmao? lol?

Old FF

For chat acronyms, check here. Ab.

10/25 Interesting evaluation of air tankers used in Alaska on the AAP board.

AL

10/25 In the 1970's, the Region Five Safety First Committee recognized the need for key fire management positions to be permanent full-time (PFT). This resulted in most forests making their engine foremen, crew foremen, engine operators, and fire prevention technicians PFT.

Currently, the Nevada State Office of BLM has many new Vacancy Announcements BLM-NV-04-153-MP and BLM-NV-04-154-DE (Ely), BLM-NV-04-155-MP (Las Vegas), BLM-NV-04-156-MP (Elko), and BLM-NV-04-157-MP (Battle Mountain).

When I read these vacancy announcements, it appears that they are being flown as "Long Term WAE, guaranteed 6 months employment, NTE 9 months employment".

Can anyone from BLM explain to me how they accomplish training, preparedness, safety, and crew cohesion with their GS-8/9 positions with such a limited appointment term? I would also like to know how limited appointments have affected, or not, recruitment and retention when many other areas of the country are giving PFT fire appointments down to the GS-6 and GS-7 level.

Rogue Rivers
10/25 Hey..if you R-5'ers and CDF'ers can't get along maybe you need to request some help from R-6 and the great states of Washington and Oregon. (roflmao)

It was such a slow fire season we all got to go to diversity training and working with difficult people workshops. Maybe we can meet somewhere near the border with a hotshot buggy of beer and task books for a bonfire. (lol)

My dad can beat your dad and my beer is less filling even though it doesn't taste great.

Seriously...if there are as many problems as people describe in their threads ....what in the heck is going on at the interagency meetings and reviews prior to signing the Parent and local area agreements?
Is this a Hatfield and McCoy feud or is it a symptom of something larger?

Oliver
10/25 Hmmm... looks like I opened a bit of a can of worms
with my comment about closest available resources.

I was actually referring to overhead positions. I've
often been frustrated to be sitting at home when I
find out that CDF or USFS is bringing someone in from
the ends of the earth. I used the example of check-in
recorders because they're needed en masse at the get
go. Having someone drive 500 miles to be a check in
recorder at a fire that's just going Type 2 is silly.
Someone needs to be there to help the plans geeks get
a lasso around all the stuff that's there.

So what's the story dispatch folks? We're hearing
about engines sitting while engines from further away
respond. I know people sit while positions go UTF or
overhead is coming from several days away. What
gives? Don't get me wrong, overall I think
dispatchers do a fantastic job, but there's certainly
some glitches.

Fish
10/25 CDF Jake,

Do you still have you Orange Jumpsuit of did they make you turn it in? And oh yea I do believe the R5 USFS is a lager organization than CDF, but I could be wrong and we are not leaving anytime soon, sorry to disappoint you. There are still fires off the pavement and who would go and fight them? Obliviously not CDF unless your dozers can make a road to them.

Okay seriously now.

To me it's more of a safety problem. A Divs Supt orders a type 1 crew for a complicated piece of line to help support my crew and next thing you know a CDF Inmate Crew shows up. No hotline capability, no burn out capability, unable to split up into squads, Limited communication. So maybe I'm off here but type 1 should be type 1. Every Crew has its place, but one of the most important things a type 1 crews brings to the table is their experience and qualifications, yea we have a lot of toys too.

On the closest available resource thing. Been IA on several State Fires this year and we sat in staging (Type 1 Hotshot Crew) while several red buggies and inmates show up and go and fight the fire. Talk about frustration to my crew. Only to be sent home within an hour. We could of done alot of good work before the other crews showed up, but since it was State they just sent us packing.

I'm calling Bull Shi% on the closest resource thing. This is towards the ICT3s and ICT4s out there because you are who decides who stays on the incident, not the ECC. If you want the fires to go out the quickly and safely, just use the closest available and qualified resource and not one of your crews that will be here in awhile.

Okay enough from me for awhile.
Bored Hotshot
10/25 Anyone know the particulars of this year's international fire conference? When
submissions are due? Where and when it is? Maybe I can make it this year.

Todd

There's a link to the website on the classifieds page. Here it is. IAWF. Ab.

10/25 Hi AB,

Someone was inquiring about fire T-shirts in a post in "they said" yesterday.

Here's a link that might help with that.

www.californiafireshirts.com/2003FireSeason/2003season.phpl

Cheers,

Mike
10/25 CDF Jake --

Thanks for the laugh.

Type 1 Inmate Crews. <rolling on floor laughing>

Don't get me wrong, most inmate crews are great crews.
Just not Type 1 crews.

I also like your comment:

"The other option is get a job with us and join the
best full service firefighting force in the United
States."

<continuing to laugh>

What a humorous way to start out a Monday morning.

Again, that was great Jake. Thanks.

-AXE
10/25 Abs I gotta say it!

Whether Fed or State jurisdiction, when any fire in CA gets beyond available resources it becomes a mutual aid agreement deal (including Tahoe Basin). When fire suppression on CA State lands looks to be beyond the capabilities of CDF, they call OES. Unless cooperative agreements have changed recently, until a fire is reaching catastrophic expectations, OES & NIFC or NIC rarely talk seriously.

BoredShot, take a look at the CA OES state fire "official" book - last time I saw it, it had a green cover (somewhere there is a cynical grin in that fact)

Me thinks "Jake" and some others need to temper their comments, especially bragging about CDF union perks! Much easier be well rested, fed, hydrated and hop on a rig for a ride to the end of the road!

AHEM! no way Feds are pulling out of R5 (take a look at a map) - no CDF crew can/will go where FED WFFs can/will go regardless of how they got to the fire (jumping, heli drops, trudging miles, etc.)

be safe y'all,
northzone

10/24 Concerned NV Firefighter,

I might have jumped on the wrong people with my Tuesday morning quarterbacking;
I painted with a pretty broad brush. My bad. I have heard from others that most
firefighters did a good job under dangerous circumstances. You were in the middle
of it. What is your take on the report and the burnover situation? Lessons learned?

Tahoe Terrie

10/24 Bored Hotshot,

Simple solution. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out of R-5.

CDF operates a little different than the USFS get used to it. We are not going to adjust to a Fed
system no matter how much you guys jump up and down throwing a tantrum. Whether it be motels,
portal to portal, task books or our Type I (inmate) crews. Lets put the petty jealousy aside and
move on.

The other option is get a job with us and join the best full service firefighting force in the United
States.

Im feeling saucy tonight!!

CDF Jake.
10/24 Hello,

I was wondering if you had any site that sells fire t-shirts, there was one I think it was called design tees
from northern calif. But since my computer dumped, I lost all addresses.

Thanks for the help, and for a great site

Phill
10/24 Closest Available Resource:

EngineSlug,

In the area I work in, USFS stuff will sometimes go to calls
that CDF would normally go to all in the name of Closest available resource.
Many times it does not make sense to us why a USFS Model 61 is responding to
a commercial structure fire, but according to the CAD system they are
closer. Now when it comes to USFS wildland fires, many times CDF sits while
USFS engines from 1-2 hours away are responding. The most amazing thing
about this is that the CDF and USFS dispatchers are in the same ECC, so why
is the concept of closest available resource not used by the USFS? I'm sure
all this ties into the portal-to-portal issue and federal fire budget, but
if they really wanted the fires to go out, closest available resource is the
only way to play.

Norcal CDF guy

10/24 Waterfall Fire:

Sorry Ab, but I gotta weigh in on this one...

Tahoe Terri, please do not take this as an attack, but were you there on the Waterfall? I was. I spent the first 2 days on IA structure protection in Carson City and the Lakeview area from a fire that was to say the least, impressive to those of us who were at close proximity to its power. I have just completed reading the report and I am reminded of another report that came out in 94, where, in my humble opinion, blame was placed on shoulders that did not deserve that burden. Yes, there were mistakes, more that I care to admit, but a lot of them were committed by people who are not being held accountable. So please, before you have a knee jerk reaction regarding the report, and think that all in Nevada who fight fire are backward-a$% buffoons and start lecturing to them that things are done wayyyyy better in SoCal, please talk to at least a general sampling of those who were there on the line. Then, if you still have the same opinion, I would be more than happy to talk to you via email, chat, or any other means of communications (no speaking swahili, mine is way to rusty to be of any use....)

ahhhh....now that this is done....I must adjourn to a wrestling match with a 5 year old hellion....

Stay Safe Everyone......
Signed....A concerned Nevada Firefighter

10/24 Type I Crews:

How can CDF give their crews Type 1 Status if they do not NWCG Standards. In my experience on CDF fires if they have hotline to build or a burnout to do they call for Fed Type 1 Crews (Rumsey Fire Oct. 2004). Yes there are a few CDF and LA County crews that are pretty good, but in my opinion it is a slap in the face to call of of the OJ's Type 1. This has always bothered me since I moved to R5.

I also have serious safety concerns working for DIVS on CDF fires, because of the lack of a task book system. Did they get the training or was someone needed to do the job. I have talked to several of them and the majority of the ones I have talked to said the quals just showed up one day. Maybe just an anomaly, but I don't know.

Okay enough for one day. But to me this is not really different from the contractors in R-6. But lets save that for another day.

Bored Hotshot

10/24 At the request of several readers, we've updated the wlf.com Site Map and Documents Worth Reading pages.

We've added a category to the Site Map to cover all the "Informative and Humorous Wildland Firefighter Pages" inspired by discussion and fun on theysaid. It includes IMWTK, Quotes to Live By, Funny Fire Terms & Nicknames, and Monument/Memorial pages. Those pages have been and still are available via the Links Page under Miscellaneous.

We've added to the Documents Worth Reading on the Archives Page and on the Site Map: a report Safety Protocol Review SoCal Fire Siege, 2003. This is an important document in our estimation as it addresses commander's intent vs. the growing number of "checklists" required to fight catastrophic fire on the interface.

We've retired CA Fires, 2004 and US Fires, 2004 from the top of the theysaid table. We'll bring them back if the season rekindles. Their permanent link is on the Links page under miscellaneous. To be ready for any new incident, you might want to register now for the Hot List Forum if you haven't done so already. We'll make an announcement on theysaid if new info comes in.

As fire season seems to have wound down, at least for now, we hope all are enjoying a relaxing time with family and friends.

The Abs.

10/24 Fish posted... What happened to the closest appropriate resource concept?

Not picking on you in particular, but that reminded me of a question i've had for a while.

Why is it that when there's a fed fire around here, local red trucks go, but when it's a state fire, i've been sitting twiddling my thumbs for the call but no fed engines are called. Instead of the response time of 15 mins to the scene which is about what it would take for us to get there, I listen to the state dispatchers call out an army of red trucks from an hour+ away?

With the closest resource concept, I was under the impression that the purpose was to put out fires. Not to make it look like more money is needed next year because the trucks rolled X amount of times.

Someone please explain this to me for i am seriously confused.

EngineSlug
10/23 On the 401 series thread....

Actually the decision to go to the 401 series for all GS-9 and above fire
positions in the FS came after Thirty Mile. That's when the FS, NPS and
BLM all decided to standardize and "fix" all those fire managers since
nothing was really changed after Storm King. The NPS has been using the
401 series for many years for at least the GS-11 level and their
interpretation is quite a bit more conservative than the FS on how to apply
it. I have personal experience with this after applying for a NPS 401
series DFMO job a couple years ago and being told I had plenty of the right
type of college credits, but since they weren't working towards a 4 year
degree the credits didn't count (For info, I'd been doing that job for 12
years in the FS for GS-11 wages with twice as many people in my department
as that park. go figure. Also, they advertised that job at least 4 times
before finally getting enough applicants to fill).

But getting to the pertinent part: Couldn't agree more with Clint that the
term "professional" is at the center stage here. Unfortunately the BLM,
NPS and FS are NATURAL RESOURCE agencies first, with a long history of the
upper management line officers coming from a RESOURCE background
(Foresters, Biologists, Range Cons, etc). They firmly believe that
professional means having the same background as them. There is not a true
understanding in the line officer ranks that "professional" in fire
management has become something quite different. Certainly a general
knowledge of other resource areas is necessary but a 4 year degree that is
geared towards what fire managers are actually doing would be far more
valuable than a resource management degree. As long as we are using the
401 series we will be required to get a college education that won't help
us be better with people and communities and budgets and emergency response
and state of the art equipment use, etc. But by golly we will know how to
do plots and scientific studies and how to write a biological analysis.

The best way to require a PERTINENT education is by having job series
specific to fire management that clearly identifies educational subjects
needed to excel as FIRE MANAGERS.

If the agencies can't overcome this cultural blindness, the long term
result could be to force the issue of a separate fire agency. People's
lives are at stake.

FirenWater
10/23 My thought on reading the Waterfall Fire Report is that the sense of failure -of
singular leadership, of communication and failure to clearly address LCES and
the 10 & 18- reminded me of the chaos of response and communication failure
when the planes hit the twin towers.

No disrespect to the firefighters responding on 9-11, they would respond
differently now. They took some lessons from interagency incident mgmt
expertise. Maybe NV should do the same.

NV and Sierra Front fed fire managers, Southern California fights lots of
interface fires. It was the home of ICS. Talk to those folks about how to manage
the media, rogue firefighters, "volunteering" resources, and jurisdictional politics.
All I have to say is that we were pretty dam* lucky no-one died on this incident.

Tahoe Terrie

10/23 Nor Cal Tom said: The sad part is that federal fire management at the
highest levels don't question this cost when the bill comes from others.
They have long stood in the way of federal portal to portal pay while
willingly paying for anyone else to have it.

Does this explain the resource orders I've seen that plainly state "Federal
Only" or "No portal to portal" in the comments section? Orders that go UTF
after there are no fed folks to fill them regionally? Orders that are
filled with a Fed flying from Georgia for a Status/Check-In Recorder spot
when there are plenty of local folks who drive red trucks who could fill the
spot?

I obviously differ with your view that the feds willingly pay for portal to
portal for anyone but themselves. I've encountered many many times where
it's been a problem, both in and out of R5. What happened to the closest
appropriate resource concept?

Fish
10/22 Ok, so call me wet and bored. Might as well weigh in on the drinking thing. My first crews in the 70’s were party animals from hell. If we did not drink we smoked and took pills or what ever to get a buzz. It was the culture and it was wrong. We worked hard and played hard as the saying goes. Also it did not matter if we were on duty or off. I remember the Superintendent packing beers in a green bag up on the line during a night shift.

Fast forward to 2004 and through all the problems caused by drinking and drugs on and off duty.

Seen it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Now I run dry crews and have a lot less problems. The rule is; if you can’t go two weeks drinking you need to find another crew. There are plenty of firefighting/drinking stories out there including tearing up passenger trains and stabbing bus drivers. Anyone who has been around more than a few years has plenty more to tell.

I know it is not “legal” to tell someone that they can’t drink while in travel status if they are not getting paid, but if it is made known from the first day on the job that there won’t be any partying going on then people seem to accept it pretty well and follow the example that the leadership and returning crewmembers set.

NOMOREHANGOVERS
10/22 I know the professional series was mandated by the South Canyon tragedy. Another
thing I heard was that the NPS hopped on board in setting up the actual biology requirements
because they couldn't find enough applicants for their professional NPS jobs. That's a bit
tongue in cheek, but I did hear that rumor... Looks like now we have to live with zealous
Parkies who need a professional fire job pool?

bleedin' green

10/22 I heard at least one southern california city firefighter made more than $100,000 on
fed assignments during the 2003 season.

Also heard that retired firefighters that might get hired on AD go to one of
the little city FDs <name snipped, south of San Luis Obispo>. They sign up temp
and make 50 bucks an hour instead of 20 bucks AD and the little FD gets 15%
over that. Sounds like a sweet deal for all but the taxpayer.

Dave

10/22 jt, on portal to portal pay (when assigned to emergency incidents)- it's not just about being paid for travel time but when you're on the clock.

On a "portal to portal" pay arrangement, you're paid from the time you leave home until the time you return home. You're on the clock 24 hours. There was a discussion last spring among Lobotomy and others, Im guessing, on how the rates worked - regular pay and OT - and how the new system would compare to the old.

With portal to portal, gone is the mandatory and varied and time consuming timekeeping, with often bogus lunch half hour, and the pressure for maximum OT. If youve worked on fire you know safety can be compromised when the maximum OT firefighters want bumps up against the mandatory 2:1 work/rest ratio. Portal to portal also means alcohol consumption or lack thereof can be dictated. You're "on the clock" when you leave your home unit and not "off the clock" until you get home.

One reason local and state firefighters in CA cost SO much on federally managed suppression fires is that they are paid portal to portal. And their base pay is so much higher than fed base pay to begin with - whatever their local market will bear, I guess. Or maybe it's fair given their cost of living. The sad part is that federal fire management at the highest levels don't question this cost when the bill comes from others. They have long stood in the way of federal portal to portal pay while willingly paying for anyone else to have it.

NorCal Tom

PS ab, couldn't find the post.

10/22 Re alcohol and drugs:
Hotshots are tight knit. Crews are tight knit.
If anyone breaks the crew norms or brings
discredit on the crew name, they're history.

Duty, Respect, Integrity

10/22 GIS Girl,

The Forest Service has contracted for some helicopters
qualified for night flying. They are available for medivacs.

KJ

10/22 So what I understand is that the management positions down to the BC is to be reclassified to the 401 series? Has any body seen a 0462 job (like a GS-7/8 FOS) be given consideration to those who hold a degree. What i mean is are those jobs going to those with degrees vs. quals? In my mind a degree should not be a factor in the decision made for the 0462 Jobs.

sign me Fossilbird
10/22 I found the Waterfall Fire Investigation Report somewhat difficult to follow at times. Here is what confused me:

1. The use of mnemonics without previous explanation of what they meant made it difficult to understand who was who, and this coming from a retired USFS employee who was a Type I qualified Resource Unit Leader and Situation Unit Leader Trainee. If the mnemonics had been explained upon their first use, there were so many of them being used it was difficult for me to remember what they meant. Too much shoptalk! I'm going to try reading it again with my mnemonics table.

2. The confusion started right away when I accessed the link provided by Lobotomy. The beginning of the website said the report was released, or something like that, "Today", yet there is no date shown on the web page. ?????? Are we to assume that it is the date the report was signed or is it a later date? Small point, however, it continued to be a confusing one as I read through the entire report.

3. It was stated that the Type III Incident Information Officer had no knowledge of the Nevada state law regarding news organizations. I would like to know what the law is and I don't think this is a minor point. It seems like the news organizations and their large trucks were a large contributor to the entrapment, and at minimum were the straw that broke the camel's back when the need to evacuate was finally obvious to everyone. How about a reference to a Nevada Revised Statute? The State of Nevada has a website where the Statutes can be looked up. Looking it up would help those reading understand what could have been done legally to have possibly prevented the evacuation problems.

4. The "Branch Commander for Structural Protection" had me wondering what type of command system they were using. Of course it is ICS, but I wondered if there was another version of ICS being used and modified to fit the needs of a local area, which is something that can really causes confusion when out of local area, out of area, out of region, etc. type resources show up. Example, ICS responses to traffic accidents on freeways involving the Arizona Dept. of Transportation, Arizona Highway Patrol, and local fire, as well as the Phoenix Fire Department responses to incidents involve the use of the term "command" instead of "IC". Example "Engine 91 at scene, we have a fully involved two story commercial structure, establishing Camelback Command" or "3W21 97 at Milepost 42, multiple car accident with at least 6 vehicles, unknown extent or number of injuries, establishing 41 Command". I think I know what they mean by how the terms are used in context, but do I really? ICS was created, in part, to establish common terminology, to avoid, not create, confusion.

Lastly, on Lobotomy's comment on not having R5 experienced people on the investigation team. Often Humboldt-Toiyabe, Carson City-Reno area fire personnel are South Operations - Calif. transplants. I'm only familiar with one of the persons on the investigation team and I'm unsure of that persons R5 background. R5 experience is not necessarily a litmus test for how a jurisdiction handles an urban interface fire. However, I have experienced the R5 leprosy reaction. Example, Region 1 of the USFS did not adopt ICS and continued to use LFO until the national direction to adopt it in 1986, even though all the other regions had already done it, because "ICS is from California". I've seen other jurisdictions at the federal, state, and local agency level try to discount the validity of an idea just because it is from R5 or from California in recreation. lands, and fire management. Not so much in my last years with R3 (about 1981 and sooner) because R3 had so many R5 fire folks transfer in. But the attitude was pervasive while I was in R4. The flip side of the coin was the impatience and arrogant attitude that could sometimes come across with R5/Calif. folks. The down side of all of this is that South Ops. experience of almost 40 years (I refer to the Bel Air fire of 1963, I believe, to be the first defining event of the urban/wildland fire phenomena) of multi-jurisdictional and multi-function incidents is not used in the context it should be. I know that the California Fire Season of 1970 is most often cited as the year that "necessity is the mother of invention" caused the U.S. Congress to establish the "FIRESCOPE" program, but I remember as a west L.A. resident of 12 years old taking a Boy Scout outing into the Bel Air hills shortly after the fire and having a L.A. City Fire Department representative talking about the difficulties of having mutual aid work well in an extended attack situation (not his exact words at the time).

With this last comment in mind I often saw what I perceived as an attitude in R4 that appeared to be a inferiority complex. Sort of a "In my heart I know that other regions are better, but I will not admit it and I'm going to respond and express this feeling by puffing my chest up and taking the attitude that R4 is the best and we will do it our way, the way we've always done things here" attitude. Just my opinion, based on a number of years on an R4 Forest that really should have been in R5 due to landform, management problems, and the origin of the visitors. Example: we had the only wilderness permit program for any wilderness in R4 and bordered a large national park and R5 Forests which had a permit program, and was told to end the permit requirement because it was not consistent with the management of the River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho. We didn't end the permit program because we made the case that being consistent with the NPS and the surrounding forests was more important than being consistent in an arbitrary drawing of lines for agency administration!

Again, just my opinion. It is becoming somewhat dated as I didn't even retire in this century!! Almost but not quite!!

Retired Forester
10/22 401 series
This came about from South Canyon.
Somebody came up with the legitimate thought that we need
(more?) professional firefighters on the line, leading and making decisions.
>From that point on some folks in the federal government have taken the term
"professional" and taken the whole concept completely out of whack.

I believe the intent was to create a system that mirrored municipal fire
departments having a highly trained, highly capable and consistently
quality workforce.
401 puts the cart before the horse, thinking that the feds can create a
"professional" workforce via a degree.

Municipal fire departments often establish a related college degree as a
minimum employment requirement because the number and caliber of applicants
available, allows them to use a degree as a tool in selecting who they
hire.

The question that should be asked is, how can the feds obtain a larger and
higher quality applicant pool to draw from?

They would force their mediocre workforce to have a degree, yet hiring is
often not based on potential performance in the first place, most jobs are
not full time and pay and benefits are not commiserate with what other
"professionals" are making.

Clint
10/22 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated.

I posted two new fire column pictures of the Fred Fire on Fire 24 photo page. With Lake Tahoe in the foreground, they are quite artistic. Nice ones, Doug. Ab.

10/22 Wow, lots of stuff to comment on...

Drinking while off the clock: simple, as my grandma said, 'all things in moderation' until we get paid portal to portal, that is the solution.

Helimopping: down our way it seems to be the municipal orgs that want to do that, not the feds.

But the real thing I want to bring up is the 401 series.

It has been a while since folks talked about this, but I do not recall anyone bringing up the pay cut it will mean for those of us that get locality pay as 462s. As if retention problems - the brain drain due to retirement and the pressure to hire by 'consent decree' rather than by qualifications - were not enough now Captains in SoCal (and other places) will make more that BCs. What are the upper levels of management thinking? Their contention that College Educated managers will make better decisions is suspect at best, but when they want to lower the 401 requirement to the GS 5 level, they must be in lala land. Why not just give us the Firefighter series we want?

No real answers from me at this point, just disillusionment, to the point that I am considering fleeing the organization that I love!

Sign me,

POed
10/22 HG, thanks for the link to Rogue Rivers question about the Waterfall Fire.

www.forestry.nv.gov/main/waterfall_fire04.php

I spent several hours today reading and studying the information on the Waterfall Incident.

After looking objectionably at the incident... I have three observations and questions:

1) Why were there no personnel invloved in the investigation or review phase that were "Experts" in a complex wildland urban interface fire scenario?... yes, there were some R-4 experts in fire behavior and human factors, but this fire involved R-5 sized complexity and structural loss (ie- Southern California Forests 1970-2004). Many lessons could have been learned and shared through this investigation and fact finding. Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 ALL HAVE COMPLEX URBAN INTERFACE ENVIRONMENTS now. California has been dealing with it for over thirty years, many other Regions are just getting introduced to it and the DANGERS associated with it.

2) Why did the investigation and review say that the Sierra Front co-operators should get away from Unified Command in type 3-5 fires? It has been successfully done for 20 years in many wildland urban interface areas in the country..... Many units use an initial attack and extended attack organization staffed by Type 2 incident qualified personnel.

3) Why did a fire that was reported on FS land at 0247 hrs not go into unified command with the Forest Service until 0600 hrs..... Early failures in the ICS system last the length of the incident, both in safety and fiscal management. (Note: review board comment of Branch Commander...... lack of ICS knowledge and terminology)

No offense to anyone.... just looking for answers and good discussion on how we can make things safer in the future....

Lobotomy
10/22 got a new one for the "Funny fire terms& nicknames" link if youre interested:

LCES=Locate, Cooler, Establish, Shade

jt
10/21 Ab,

Will Spyrison, Division Chief on the L.A. River R.D. Angeles Forest is the instructor of The Campbell Prediction System, teaching in Vandenberg Academy and Redding. Will teaches a 16 hour class, while I do either a 8 or 16 hour class. Will is in service and his time is free to cooperators. I teach by contract agreement for time and costs and furnish a bid for each course taught.

Eight hours seems to fit the municipal fire departments scheduling better so I have designed a 8 hour class for their needs. Three classes are being scheduled for Vandenberg.  They are scheduled in January 18-20, 2005. Two back to back in February from the 14th through the 18th, 2005 and I have a note for an additional class in Vandenberg the 1st through the 3rd of March 2005. The class for Redding is scheduled in April, the 19-21, 2005. There are numerous instructors throughout the US, Spain and Canada. We are promoting a train the trainer course and have put those on in New Mexico, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Diego and Ventura County Fire Departments, Spain, Canada and for the North East Wildland Fire Compact, encompassing the 13 original states.

You are doing a great job of providing information, thanks for asking.

Best regards to all and stay safe
Doug Campbell
10/21 Not to belabor the drinking thread any longer, but I want to say
Thanks TC, for the clarification about not drinking on incidents. It's logical.
My info fits right in. The Medical crew demobe situation I described
occurred at Panther Creek Campground near Denny, which must have
been considered part of Denny Firecamp. The Denny Road was closed
to all but resident traffic and firefighters. Toward the end it was closed
altogether most nights as trees and fire came down. A rule of "No drinking"
made sense to me.

Proud Hotshot, thanks for your input. I appreciate getting good info
and I don't mind others taking me to task when they think I'm off base.
(Well, maybe there are a few I have told to stuff it.)

Again, I really appreciate your contribution, TC.

Mellie

TC, I saved your post. The drinking question comes up fairly routinely on theysaid and your statement is clear. Ab.

10/21 Readers, our server is still having intermittent trouble with the spam filter. They just gave me access and this one looks like it was sent Tuesday morning 10/19. In reading this, remember that it was written before some other explanatory posts came in. Ab.

The great debate continues on this forum, no not Kerry vs Bush, but even bigger, the Fed’s vs Big Red Machine. I read the forum often, but don’t post much, but I feel that I would like to comment on all of the expertise that has been thrown around here lately. So. . . here it goes.

First off, the issue of the feds heli-mopping with Type I ships in the interface. I don’t agree with it most of the time, as the cost and the exposure is absurd. I’m certainly glad that I have never used a type I ship to heli-mop on a CDF fire. . .? Mark III’s are a little tough to operate, but obviously the problem was that the fed trying to operate it was drunk and the folks working at the cache who packed it were also drunk. I saw it all the time when I was visited a cache one season, damn young kids. Maybe check the bill for a few of the CDF fires this year. How about the Straylor and the Gaviota and on and on (yes, I know it has been discussed). Holy crap. Also saw lots of federal folks sleeping on the ground at all the CDF fires this year, then working the same 24-hour shift as those who had swam a few laps the previous night. Lot of stretching goes on trying to justify the motel issue and the 24 hour shift. I just don’t buy it. I wish I could say that I never had to wake-up the engine folks at 1:00 a.m. to get some water for a bladder bag during these beloved 24 hour shifts. But not always.

Ok, the drinking thing by hotshot crews. Mellie, Bruce, et al., you are certainly entitled to your opinions and this is a good place to voice them, just know that there is fine line between fact and opinion. Mellie, I can say a lot drinking went on at Big Bar. After doing 25+ shifts on a very demanding fire, everyone deserves to blow-off some steam. Bruce you spent one season on a crew, by no means does that make you an expert on hotshot crews and their professionalism. To say things like “. . . just a bunch of kids. . .” is out-of-line. With all you’ve been preaching on this forum lately, I’m a bit surprised. The hotshot community is a pretty tight-knit bunch and I would gander a guess that there is certainly another side to your great stories about drunkenness and inappropriate, unprofessional behavior. I wouldn’t be surprised to see your comment, “The behavior was definitely not a secret. Some Supes were known to attend occasionally. And a Squad Boss or two of ours regularly joined in.”, to show up circulating through the emails of these “unprofessional” supts, along with a chuckle.

Alas, there are certainly a lot of issues on both sides that need improving. A lot of good people on both sides and also a lot of “baggage” on both sides. At least Kerry/Bush debates had a moderator. Thanks mysterious AB for allowing this forum, please don’t “edit” my post too much. You can sign me as:

a Proud Hotshot who has been known to secretly drink a couple after shift

Didn't even correct the spelling. <haw><haw> No misspellings to correct. Ab.

10/21 Ms Red Engine,

Factor in job security with CDF. Some cities are downsizing. In one city I know of in nor-cali,
all the firefighters including management are taking a 5% cut in pay and the dept's not able to
buy needed ppe.

Even though they're hiring now, there may be belt tightening in your city in the near future.

AL

10/21 That Waterfall Fire gave a bunch of us a wakeup call.

We've just had Doug Campbell here teaching the Wildland Fire Signature Prediction Method. Excellent training. This should be required for all wildland firefighters in addition to S-130, 190. There's not enough on-the-ground fire behavior taught, we have a real interagency mix, lots of older generation are going or gone, lots of inexperience coming on.

Doug's website doesn't do the method justice. Powerpoint presentation, demonstration, major points in the logic, maps, solid terrain models of fatality incidents, and solving a situation. It was eye-opening. I don't know why we shy away from such rich training. Do politics stand in the way... or inertia? It took a very scary fire to wake us up. Before that it seems we were just doing what we always did in the fire behavior area... a whole lot of nothing.

Sierra Front FF

There are lots of new Mike Evans photos of the Waterfall Fire on Fire 24, Helicopters 17, and Airtankers13. Here's Doug Campbell's website. It's listed on the Links page under training, I understand someone from the FS in R5 teaches his class too at least in some places. Anyone know more? Doug or other trainers, could you let us know what's up? Ab.

10/21 Rogue Rivers

Here is the link for the report you wrote about. It states the report was released on October 19th.

www.forestry.nv.gov/main/waterfall_fire04.php

HG
10/20 If anyone has the report that is mentioned in the following news article, could
you provide it to "They Said" for us firefighters to read.

www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/9971047.php

It's pretty bad when a firefigting safety report (investigation report) hits the AP 
News Service before it even goes to the firefighters in the field.... and comes with 
a statement of ...."State and federal officials said they would move quickly to 
adopt the recommendations."

Rogue Rivers
10/20 Ms Red Engine,

Look in all jobs you face hard to work with people period, when its your supervisor yes it makes it that much harder. But tell him stick with it! If he has his medic Cert. tell him to come to Riverside ranger unit he'll be a FFII/ Paramedic on an engine or ambulance. If your worried about disease and exposure to certain elements maybe he needs to re-think his career. In my career I've been exposed to just about everything other than nuclear weapons.

But i'm sure there will be a day for that as well. CDF makes good money and people don't get in this job to get rich, homelife thats why I came over from the forest service to CDF--my family time is very important to me thats why I'm here, your husband works schedule "B" in NORCal I assume so know his time at home is minimal but if your not willing to change your horizons or broaden them then things will stay the same. You have to be willing to sacrifice but also know when to draw the line aswell so this is a decision that he'll make thinking of your future and his just be supportive, give him time and encourage him to push forward keep positive!

SoCAL FF
10/20 Memorial for Dan Holmes, info on the Arrowhead Shots website

Due to nasty weather, the Park memorial scheduled for this Saturday 10/23 has been moved to Kelly's Beach in Reedley. Please arrive around noon -- the event will begin at 1300. (More info available on the website)

Page In Memory of Dan Holmes with tributes, photos of Dan with friends, online news articles that have photos of the Rochester NH service. Scroll to the bottom.

Mellie

10/20 Hello Ab, A friend suggested I write. I have a question for CDF F/Fs with families.

I'm a CDF wife, former military wife. My husband has worked for CDF for 3 seasons. He's almost done with his Medic Cert. He's always planned to make CDF his career, really likes wildland firefighting. He's been able to get along with everyone and accomplish his job extremely well. Last year CDF moved a new supe into his unit, someone rejected elsewhere. The entire unit has had trouble with this person. My husband has done OK, but it's been wearing.

As a result of the stress, some F/Fs started thinking about other career options. The abrasive person will not be returning next year, but the dissatisfaction started a ball rolling. Now my husband is thinking about going with a small city fire department near us (4 openings). If he applies, he will get hired. I never imagined him being anything but a CDF F/F.

As he thought about it, there are other things that make it harder to choose CDF. Why is the system so family unfriendly? To move up to permanent full time, he'll have to move from homebase here to a new unit more than 4-5 hours away. It would be really hard for me to move with him. I started a little business to help ends meet and we're buying a very small home. I help with the mortgage. We want to start a family. Our parents are here and we'll need their help with family. If he moves, it will be expensive for him to commute home- gas is expensive. Does any of this get better? The city job doesn't pay much more than CDF, it's just here and he'd be here... Northern Ca small cities don't have big bucks to pay anyone. A CDF F/F said the higher you go in CDF the more time you spend away from your family helping with training and going away to meetings. Is that true? A city F/F said if you want to do some wildland you can hop on an engine and go as part of an OES strike team.

He's asked me what I think. I have tried to stay out of it. I've told him I want him to choose the job that makes him happy. He asked for help listing the pros/cons, looked into benefits, medical, etc and retirement. My friend suggested we factor in disease exposure related to the medical aid calls of the city job. Is there anything else?

Ms. Red Engine
10/20 Im probably asking a silly question here, but portal-to-portal is travel time right?
And Fed FFs dont get paid travel time??

-jt
10/20 PYG; Former R4 Shot; NerdOnTheFireLine; SoCAL FFupnya; Better settle in, this is another long one ...

"Unprofessional". I did not label "our Fed crews" unprofessional. In the case I described involving the Shot crew I was on, I stated "these guys and gals didn't have a sense of professionalism - that is, they didn't perceive that their off-duty behavior could be an issue relating to their on-duty behavior or abilities". In my view a "professional" understands thoroughly the requirements of their position, both physical and otherwise, and strives to meet or exceed those requirements when and wherever they can. One of the major requirements for wildland fire control people is physical fitness and the ability to "be alert, keep calm, think clearly, and act decisively." In my humble opinion, based on many years of experience, first hand and otherwise, a person experiencing a hang-over is not at their optimum level of physical fitness, and may likely be unable to think clearly or act decisively. That was the case with several of the young people on the crew, repeatedly throughout the season.

People with a clear understanding of what it means to be a professional would not get drunk and stay out 'till closing time while wearing their crew logo T-shirt, knowing they had an assignment the following morning at O-dark thirty. Instead I believe a true professional's focus would be on preparing for the next days shift via a good meal, plenty of sleep and equipment rehab as needed. Some of my crewmates obviously did not understand, as I stated, that their late night antics can, and did in fact hinder their abilities the following day. In the case described a handful of individuals who routinely went drinking were regularly affected the following day in terms of their production. Who knows what effect their partying had on our crew reputation among the community locals who witnessed them drunk in public in their logo gear. I don't recall any specific instances of fireline safety being compromised, but in my opinion the potential for safety challenges was high considering their physical states. And to clarify ... I did not "sit here and state that the Fed agencies lack professionalism because their people drink on fires". I related my experience with a handful of Fed employees on a single crew and the actions of several others from other crews that I witnessed or heard first hand accounts of. PYG, you seem a little overly sensitive and more than willing to paint with an agency-wide brush.

Former R4 says "Drinking beer after hours did not make myself or my crew unprofessional. It did however give us a chance to socialize and cut loose with rank set aside. Spending time together outside of work is very important for crew cohesion; it does not make you a drunkard". I agree, but with some reservations. I'm gonna go out on a short limb here and surmise that Former R4 and mates were capable of exercising good judgment while out tossing back a couple after a shift ... that they maintained respectable hours ... that they didn't disturb their sleeping crewmates upon their return to camp ... that they didn't get drunk ... that they took care of crew business before going out ... that they didn't suffer wicked hangovers the next morning ... and that their ability to function physically and mentally during the following shift was unimpaired. If all that's true, then good for them. Nothing like a little social time to relax after a hard day. They obviously understand and respect their positions and the nature of their job. My reservations have to do with my personal experience. I've spent a whole lotta years being on duty 24 hours a day when assigned to fires; a whole lotta years being "in the public eye" 24 hours a day; a whole lotta years trying to earn and maintain a reputation as a "professional" 24 hours a day (thank you portal-to-portal). So for me, the concept that the evenings between fireline shifts are "after hours" or "outside of work" is foreign, though I know that is how the Fed agencies officially designate that time. And so the idea of drinking between fireline shifts doesn't sit well personally or professionally (but I sure love a good Porter at home on a miserable rainy day like today). And since my agency is organized such that drinking between shifts is not an option for me/us, I don't have to make that choice on a nightly basis.

Also PYG, I do indeed "remember all the hard and good work that Shot crews do", as I walked that walk myself, albeit briefly, and I've seen it over and over in my 20 some-odd years on the fire line as a Fire Fighter, Fire Apparatus Engineer, Initial Attack I.C., Engine Capt., Inmate Crew Capt., Helitack Crew Capt., Div. Supe., Crew Task Force Leader, Field Observer, Situation Unit Leader, Handcrew Technical Specialist, Initial Attack Operations Officer etc etc etc. In those roles I've had the pleasure to meet and work with some highly qualified, productive and professional USFS individuals and crews ... most of the Hotshot variety. Which is part of the reason I left a 20 year career and joined up with a Shot crew. But, as in any endeavor, there are always exceptions. As far as drinking being the norm ... in my experience, which is what I was describing, drinking to excess was in fact "the norm" among some people on several of the Region 1 Shot crews during the summer of 2001. And impaired production and poor performance the morning after was also "the norm" amongst the people I was describing. Though I try not to use the broad agency-wide brush you did in interpreting my words, I was led to believe by what I saw and heard that drinking to excess is/was a large part of the Hotshot "culture". I can't say, nor did I, that it is a norm throughout the program. I really hope it isn't because from my first day on a fireline I have always had a great deal of respect for the Hotshots. That is why my 2001 experience was a disappointment in many ways - my idealized image of the Shots was busted by those individuals on my crew and several others from other crews.

And regarding CDF folks ... you are correct PYG. I can not assure you that my "fellow CDF fire fighters never drink in their hotel rooms or when they are on project fires". I never made that assertion. But I can assure you that since CDF began portal-to-portal many years ago, the incidence of "unprofessional" and/or inappropriate behavior by CDF employees assigned to project fires has dropped to a tiny fraction of what it may have been prior to portal-to-portal. But none-the-less, in CDF, in the Federal agencies and throughout the entirety of the US workforce, there are individuals who can't or won't follow the rules or exercise good judgment. I am sure there are some individuals in CDF who violate agency rules. I can assure you that I have not witnessed or participated in any on-duty drinking in 25 years. (Ask me about the summer of 1978 sometime, my first season and a different era in CDF). But that is only my experience. And regarding "CDF crews in bars during fires". I'm sure you've seen some of us in bars. But seeing CDF people in uniform in a bar (I assume those you saw near Reno were in uniform or other logo'd gear, otherwise how would you know they were CDF folks?) does not automatically mean they are drinking or drunk. I've eaten dinner in motel bars several times over the years, while on an Overhead assignment, because that's where the Giants game was on the TV. But I never drank alcohol. And I would never wear my uniform into a bar, because the locals see only a CDF uniform in a bar, not what's in the glass, and that's bad PR. Though I can only speak from personal experience, human nature and demographics lead me to understand that out of 3,000 some-odd CDF employees there is likely to be some individuals who can't help themselves and feel they have to drink, or otherwise behave unprofessionally, on duty. Maybe those CDF folks you saw were drinking. If so it only makes them, not all CDF'ers, irresponsible, and unprofessional. Like the kids I talked about from the Shot crew/s ... they, not all Federal Fire Fighters, proved themselves to be unprofessional.

Whether Federal Fire Fighters ever get to enjoy the perks and responsibilities of portal-to-portal or not (careful what you wish for), there will always be individuals who can't handle themselves in a professional manner i.e. they will engage in activities, on duty and off, that will impair their ability to function as needed on the fire line at the level demanded by the nature of wildland fire control. Like the kids I talked about from the summer of '01. It's human nature in some. And it's unfortunate for them, their crew/s and their agencies who all tend to suffer a degradation of their reputations as a result.

Jeez ... was that long enough?. Does that help clarify what I'm referring to when I say "unprofessional"? I hope so. Thanks for reading and responding.

Never Forget; Never Again!
Bruce

10/20 Below are my opinions on the Drinking issue. I've run them by the Human
Resource folks on my forest and they agree.

The Government cannot control your actions when off duty, outside of Fire
Camp.

However, Fire Camps are considered Government Facilities. As such:
  • Drinking in Fire Camp is not allowed, either on or off Duty.
  • Being under the influence of alcohol (Drunk) in a Fire Camp is also not
    allowed either on or off duty. So Crews or individuals returning to Fire
    camp after partaking may be subject to this.
  • Motels paid for by the government, whether on per diem or pcms card, are an
    extension of the fire camp.
  • Supervisor’s & Camp Security have been trained (or should be) to recognize
    the symptoms of someone under the influence. While this may not be enough
    to stand up in court, it is enough to require further testing, send someone
    home, or reassign them to other duties.

The socializing / crew cohesion part of this is important, however it
should take place on home unit, after hours, and off base, keeping in mind
you need to be fit for duty your next work shift (and not hung over).
Also, if a Fire call comes during one of these crew drinking events, you
would be unfit for duty and should turn the assignment down, or be subject
to an adverse action.

Whether or not you agree with any of the above is not important. What is
important is a number of both Type 1 and 2 IC’s, as well as Human Resource
Specialists, have and will continue to take action in these situations.

TC

10/20 NWRG & AXE

I totally agree with you guys, I guess my thing is that if they want to control ya 100% and 24 hrs. they need to pay ya for it, but the law says what you do on your own time is your deal as long as you don't bring it to work. I guess all I can say is that those who party or drink after hours its your business but if not fit for duty the documentation process will begin and you'll be reassigned until you can perform your duties. I think its a cut and dry issue do the crime you will pay the time! This will always continue to be an issue within the federal government but those who bring there personal beliefs into your supervisor role use extreme caution because your doing the same thing that someone who's drinking by bringing it to work. Those having closed camps issues with your crews--If I find out about or here any complaints from your crewmembers on incident it will be noted and followed up with

SOCal FF
10/20 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see how hard it would be to create a Series 0401 page and how relevant it would be for wildland firefighters. The process was very cumbersome. The results leave a lot to be desired since many non-fire positions are represented in spite of doing everything I could to exclude them. If you sort by relevance, it's a little better, but GIS Gal and other GISers would be put down there with the biologists who want to be called biologists and we all know they belong up near the top with fire.

I'm not going to do this again any time soon - I don't get paid enough - but it was interesting for a one-time exercise.

Ab.

10/20 I knew a supe in the way back olden days who told the "pups" to use their
own good judgment regarding how much to imbibe. If they misjudged,
he worked their a$$es off starting with "pukin pushups". Long before
the crew went out on fire everyone was on the same page.

KS
10/20 After problems with drinking, the people that I work for decided to make a 'closed camp' policy, going as far as giving a curfew and no drinking policy when staying in a hotel when not even on an assignment. I wont lie and tell you that it went over well, the obvious was heard often 'this is our time, why should they tell us what we can do', but it did work. In the morning everyone woke up and were ready to go, and there was never a reason to get woken up in the middle of the night to deal with problems that might have arisen.

Please do not get me wrong, I believe that letting off steam and crew bonding is a necessary thing that must not be overlooked, but the way some people do it is in fact a bit unprofessional. It is a tough job we do, and I certainly dont mind when I know that everyone on my crew is clear headed in the morning. It seems that Bruce was commenting on how many on a shot crew are 'kids' working a summer job, and being kids some dont act as professional as they should. Or at least as the elite professionals that the public views them as. I think in reading the responses to Bruce's comments many Feds reacted as soon as you saw the word "unprofessional", and overlooked the important stuff. Unless Im wrong it seems that Bruce said nothing about any of his crew being unprofessional when it really matters, on the line.

jt

10/19 "Chlorine Chemistry Council who would like to use a
photo of an airtanker dropping retardant on their
site"

Just give us a location ( lat and long) and a billing
address we can make up to 4 drops on their site :)

My god, I must be tired....

MG

They'll need to have their camera ready? <haw><haw> Ab.

10/19 Bruce--

Can you assure me that your fellow CDF fire fighters never drink in their hotel rooms or when they are on project fires? No you can't. To sit here and state that the Fed agencies lack professionalism because their people drink on fires is a complete joke. I've personally seen CDF crews in bars during fires outside of Reno. No they weren't in their hotel rooms getting their quality sleep time, they were in the bars getting quality drinking time.

Also how many times while you were on the shot crew did drinking affect the crew's production or safety? You need to remember all the hard and good work that shot crews do and not sit here and bash a crew because some drinking went on. Maybe you should have stayed and tried to change things, instead of leaving and talking bad about your fellow crew. Also, don't make it sound like drinking is the norm on fires when it isn't. I've been on many large fires with camps and drinking was never an issue with the fed crews, not that it doesn't happen, but not to the extreme you're trying to make it.

And our fed crews certainly don't deserve the label "unprofessional".

Later,
PYG

10/19 Hey air tanker photographers,

We've gotten a request from someone who's creating an educational website for the Chlorine Chemistry Council who would like to use a photo of an airtanker dropping retardant on their site. Here's what she has to say. Please contact her if you have a photo to share. Ab.

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

Background info: Based in Arlington, Va., the Chlorine Chemistry Council (www.c3.org) is a national trade association of manufacturers and major users of chlorine and chlorine-related products. This specific web site will be an educational tool to allow users to explore the many benefits of chlorine: fighting disease, treating drinking water, and providing intermediate chemistry for tens of thousands of products.

I am looking for some good photos to demonstrate this statement:

For stopping wildfire in forests and grasslands fire retardants are extremely effective, often dropped from helicopters or fixed wing aircraft.

I can be reached  at 503.348.2083 or at pats@spiritone.com

Thanks for your help.
Patsy

10/19 Moleskin,

The National Registry has been around for a while, at least for the last
14 years that I have been running with the local volunteer ambulance. It
does not automatically get you accepted in any state unless that state
specifically authorizes out of state EMTs. This is due in part to the
differing protocols in the various states and the need for a medical
control that you can contact for situations that require medical control.
Montana has never honored EMTs from other states unless they challenge the
state practical test. That is changing with respect to fire assignments,
but the out of state EMT still needs to get permission to operate in MT, it
usually takes about 24 hours. There is a very good reason for the non
reciprocal policy in MT, so they tell me ;). In MT there is rarely such a
thing as the golden hour, from where I live it is an hour drive to a
hospital. An EMT could be providing care for well over an hour or two
before getting to a hospital or rendezvousing with ALS. Many EMTs from
other states and especially paid services have rarely experienced that. I
have personally seen new members in our service who came from cities and
were out of their element after about 20 minutes on really bad pages.
Therefore the state wants to make sure that the folks providing care are up
to it in a very rural setting. As far as line EMT goes, you have to be an
EMT and be fully line qualified. There are also Incident Medical Specialist
in R1, R6, and the Fire Medics in Alaska, they are trained a little more in
depth for dealing with camp crud, sports type injuries etc. that you see on
large incidents. Hope that helps you out a little.

Another TC

10/19 Moleskin,

As an NREMT/Structural FF who moved from Ohio to Michigan, I learned the differences each state has even with the National Registry status. For example I could tube patients as a basic in Ohio and not in Michigan. I think that some states are slow to accept the NR (National Registry) license, because some may feel that it is not up to par with their particular training. I must admit that I am quite naive on the subject of fireline EMT, in fact I heard somewhere that to be a line EMT one must have SRB status, but would like to learn more about it. How does one become a line EMT? Also how does licensing from state to state and fire to fire work, do medics in camp and on the line always come from the state the fire is in? It's funny how it works from state to state, some are so accepting of others' EMT training and the NR, but others seem to be up on a bit of a pedestal. It is too bad that even a nationally standardized curriculum couldnt bring them down off of it.

jt

10/19 Moleskin Mike:

Add this to your list…in New Mexico, an EMT cannot function with out
a medical director signing off on their protocols, scope, and QA/QC. How
many crews are going to keep a consulting MD? Does this invalidate the
qualifications of the EMT?

Nerd on the Fireline

QA/QC = quality assurance/quality control.

10/19 Bruce,

I was on a shot crew in 2001, and probably drank beer with your fellow crewmembers in Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Montana. Drinking beer after hours did not make myself or my crew unprofessional. It did however give us a chance to socialize and cut loose with rank set aside. Spending time together outside of work is very important for crew cohesion; it does not make you a drunkard. The shot crew was the closest thing to a family I had for five months, we worked hard and played hard. I am now on full time with a city f.d. We are not allowed to be anywhere near alcohol while in uniform. We can and do still drink on our own time with each other, and somehow still manage to be professional for our next shift. If drinking after hours ruined the respect you had for your crew, then I feel sorry for you.

Former R4 Shot
Would not trade it for the world !
10/19 From Firescribe:

Suspected Hetch Hetchy arsonist fingered in delta family homicides
Modesto Bee article
10/19 I got a good one to piss off all of those people who
think they can (and have the authority to) control
"drinking" and other after hours activities.

Before I go any farther, I have some tough beliefs.
1st, don't tell me what to do unless you're paying me.

Next, everyone always likes to include dispatchers and
everyone else as "firefighters" on an incident.

THEREFORE the conclusion can be made (because we've
all heard the argument that dispatchers are as
important as the people on the fire) that:

Dispatchers are not allowed to engage in drinking
while off duty.

After all, the drinking may affect their performance
-- they may order the wrong resources, divert
helicopters carrying food or supplies to a fire, not
hear the radio during a potential entrapment, etc.

Options For Solutions:

1. Pay me 24 Hours a Day -- IF you want to control me
24 hours a day

2. Get out of my after hours life. If I'm not ready
for work the next day -- leave me behind AND begin
documentation to fire me.......

Simple.

-AXE
10/19 SoCAL FFupnya-

Twenty years ago I woulda said "right on Bro!" for your comments about doing whatever you want after hours while on a project fire. But, now I'm no longer a line grunt looking for a party each night after kickin' a$$ all day. They work for me now, and its all about balance. My folks can go in to town as long as they don't do anything stupid that may come back to discredit the efforts of the other professionals fighting the fire. Stupid includes a lot more than drinking too much. I have to disagree with you about the discrimination aspect of determining fitness for duty. If I determine that someone is not fit for duty based on my perceptions of them, (and this can include sobriety, fatigue, or attitude) I can stand them down, reassign them to another task (camp help) or send them on their way. If differences of opinions develop over after hours behavior, they may be first on the demobe list. Demobes happen all the time. Labor laws?? Don't think so. I'm not firing anybody, just releasing them from a project...their regular employment hasn't been terminated as far as I know.

NWRG
10/19 PS..............

Are the USFS regulations and guidelines online
anywhere??????

Rangerash

I assume this question relates to the supposed 2 drink rule? Ab.

10/19 Huh. ‘Scuse my funny little vollie perspective, but we’re told not to respond if we’ve had ANYTHING to drink in the last eight hours, and we can get thrown off the crew or the department if we’re seen in any form of uniform anywhere near alcohol, or anywhere near alcohol if we’re supposed to be on duty in eight hours or less. We get held to the same standards as firefighters as EMTs are under Duty to Act…anytime we’re in public in anything with the name of the department on it, we can be expected by the public to respond and there better not be any alcohol in our systems. Are you telling me my little rural vollie department holds its VOLUNTEERS to higher standards than federal employees?

Nerd on the Fireline (who would probably be more sober with two or three drinks in her)
10/19 I wonder what firefighter EMTs think???

There's a new National EMT Registry. I just finished the recertification process in norCA. I learned some things that raise some questions about changing certs on firefighter EMTs and having adequate EMTs on the fireline in the future. Also there may be some confusion next season as nationally certified EMTs come to CA and aren't certified to practice here.

What's required in CA as of 10/10/04:

  • The EMT cert has been nationalized. There's a National EMT Registry.
  • To get a new EMT in CA now, you have to take the same classes as before, get certified in CA but now you also have to take the national test.
  • Existing CA EMTs are grandfathered in, but certified to work only in CA. That means if you're on a crew and go out of state to fight fire, you're not legal to act as EMT without first taking and passing the national test.
  • Nationally certified EMTs are legal to work everywhere except in CA. To practice in CA you also have to have your CA EMT.
  • All states are trying to standardize; CA has not jumped on board. This could be a problem for EMTs on crews coming to fight fire in CA. (The FS, NPS, BLM, etc has nothing to say about national or CA certs. Maybe there could be a Fed MOU with the state of CA for firefighting EMTs.)

Does CA think it holds to a higher standard than the national standard? I don't know.

One thing I wonder about, what's the incentive for new CA people/ff to get their EMT? How does this impact the EMTs on fire crews? Look at the costs, they've doubled.
New people take

  • California -128 hr CA EMT class, cost ~$200, books ~$50
    apply for CA EMT cert, cost $40
  • National EMT test, cost $20
    Seating fee for the national test, cost $285
    Misc fees, cost ~$50
    The National test is given only in certain places. The nearest site to me is a 6 hour drive, so I also have transportation costs.

All in all it now costs $750 (plus transportation) to become a new EMT. Before it was <$300. This is a lot to be certified for a job that pays minimum (poverty level) wage. That's in our rural Norcal community- if you don't work in fire and have other duties/pay. Of course if you work in seasonal fed fire, you're likely to be poverty level also.

Will there be a pull of EMTs away from fire even moreso than happens already? Will fewer people on crews seek out their EMT certs? I don't know.

Whats the upside of a National Registry?

  • EMTs no longer have to classroom test for recertification- Only need to fulfill their 24 hrs of Continuing Education field credit verified by a certified EMS Instructor.
  • Less impact on those overloaded with teaching recert classes, more impact on those who supervise hours in the field.
  • Standardization across the US.
  • Knowing who's available for a national emergency response. Will there be enough of us?
  • More recognition by the medical field?

What are the implications of all this for EMTs on the fireline? I don't know.

Moleskin Mike

10/19 Fuels Guy,

> From your post .... "How many CDF'ers does it take to check into a hotel
room?" .......

/s/ Awaiting the Humorous Answer
10/19 FFEric.... read the bottom of your leave and earnings slip ..... it explains why you
may not be able to sign into your "Employee Express" page.

All future actions have to be completed with the USDA Employee Personal Page
or through USDA-FS Dashboard.

Lobotomy
10/19 Mellie, JE

I'm afraid to say that during the summer of 2001, on 90% of the fires my Hotshot crew was assigned to throughout Montana, Idaho, Washington and Alaska, 5-8 crewmembers found the means to attend bars at least a couple nights during the typical two week fire assignment, if not several nights. (Obviously they couldn't when we spiked out). The few fires during which they didn't find bars were those so far out in the boonies that there weren't any to be found. And it wasn't just the last night of an assignment prior to de-mobing the next day. They would hitch-hike or walk to the nearest establishment - sometimes hiking up to two miles, such as during the Purdy fire. On three occasions I went along: into Livingston during the Fridley, into Gardiner during the Hoppe and into Grangeville during the Earthquake. Being the old man of the bunch I couldn't handle more than a beer or two, while the youngsters stayed out often until closing. Our Supe's view was that as long as we were able to show up on time and in shape for work the next morning he didn't care what we did; we were, after all, off duty. That was stated clearly during our initial orientation. Generally I was so exhausted after a shift it was all I could do to eat, shower and crawl in my sack and snuggle up next to my boots. It's hell being 40-something and a digger on a shot crew. I should have done it when I was twenty-something like the majority of the kids on the crew. Then maybe I would have had the stamina to dig line all day and drink boiler makers all night too. And my crew was not the only one involved. The three occasions when I attended there were always any number of other USFS crew people in the bars : Helitack crewmembers, Hotshot crewmembers, Overhead types; and agency vehicles parked out front.

On those many occasions when I remained in camp, the stories being told the next morning almost always included people from other Shot crews. Nobody on my crew ever snuck out of camp; nor did any of the others whom I met throughout that summer; they didn't have to. After returning to camp after a day shift, we were on our own time. I have to assume that the Supes of the other crews were aware too. The behavior was definitely not a secret. Some Supes were known to attend occasionally. And a Squad Boss or two of ours regularly joined in. Every indication I had throughout that season was that drinking in the local taverns was common practice, especially among large numbers of Shot crew people. It made a sort of perverse sense to me seeing as how the Fed folks were all off duty over night. It appeared to me to be part of the Hotshot culture. A part of the culture I had not anticipated before going in. Shots had always seemed to me to be "the elite". At least that's how Shots are always portrayed in the media. I assumed they were all true professionals. I found a much different environment than I expected. With just a couple of exceptions, the folks I worked with were just a bunch of kids doing a summer job they hoped would earn them enough money to get them through the winter.

I wasn't a supervisor of any sort on this crew - just a common everyday dirt digger like the rest of the kids. On those occasions when I felt I needed to say something I was pretty much ignored. The majority of these guys and gals didn't have a sense of professionalism - that is, they didn't perceive that their off-duty behavior could be an issue relating to their on-duty behavior or abilities. I had originally planned to spend a couple of years with the Hotshots; but after 2001 I wouldn't go back to the crew I was on and I had no way of knowing that all the crews weren't pretty much the same.

Two things ultimately motivated me to return to CDF when I did: 1) This lack of professionalism (the drinking in particular) and 2) The physical beating this 43 year old body took - 2001 was the single most physically brutal season of my career. Now I wonder if my experience assigned to Region 1 was typical or not. But, alas, I have my doubts that this sort of behavior is unique to the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest Regions. I hear stories from ex-Feds now with CDF about their off-duty exploits here in California. I figure that until the Feds put their people on portal-to-portal it will continue to be pretty hard to try and control their off-duty actions. And just as there were in the pre-portal-to-portal days of CDF, there will always be people who need or want to spend their off-duty time doing whatever they want regardless of how it may effect their work the next day, or the reputation of the agency they work for. I can only hope that my Shot experience was an aberration. Don't get me wrong ... despite the physical abuse and the obvious inappropriate behavior on the part of some, my summer as a Hotshot was awesome. The fire behavior I witnessed, the country I saw and the physical challenges I met will all be part of some great memories and will aide in my ability to function safely and effectively on the line throughout the remaining years of my career. And despite what is likely seen as less than effective leadership on the part of my Supe I give him great credit for his fire ground knowledge. This guy knows fire. And for that I came to respect him a great deal. As far as other aspects of crew leadership ... well, he may have lost a step or three over the years.

Never Forget; Never Again!
Bruce

10/19 regardless of agency affiliation:
<<< displeased with intolerance
<<< disgusted by braggarts
<<< tired of whiners with a keyboard and internet access who do little to improve their situation.
<<< refuse to get into specifics about safety vs stupidity

we've all seen inequities on some fire and are cognizant about the chushie perks CA strike teams enjoy compared to others. regardless of which agency, tax payers only see "heroes" on TV - they have no clue what the $$ accounting is because it is not tallied until the media has moved on to the next latest-breaking-story du jur.
until a fire becomes a CA state or a presidential disaster, agencies eat the bill. my guess is the vollies are the last to see a nickel of reimbursement.

< grins> the media says because of rain, R5 north folk may be busy with mud response.
down time is time for educating ourselves!

be safe y'all,
northzone
10/19 Any Aviation Person

Does the Forest Service have new capability to fly at night on fires with single engine helicopters now?
A check of the IHOG still shows aircraft must be in by 30 minutes after sunset at the very latest.
Are NVG's authorized now?

Just curious.
GIS Gal

10/18 Anyone up for a chat tonight? Say around 2000 hrs. Pacific.

BB

Sounds good. Keep in mind that at least one chat-er turns into a pumpkin at 2100. Some folks might hop on chat earlier than 2000. Ab.

10/18 SoCAL FFupnya, I can see the necessity of Portal to Portal, but here are a few questions...

Was the Branch Director that sent the AZ Medical Crew home for drinking with a Local on the Big Bar Complex ('99) out of line? Could they have slapped him with a lawsuit? I don't think they had exceeded 2 drinks when they got caught. (Is that really a FS rule?) Were they working OT at the moment they were drinking? I'm pretty sure they weren't. They were in the Panther Creek Campground. Did that make it wrong? The fire was backing down into the community. They needed a clear head whether officially working or not.

Do you expect all people on a pressure-cooker incident to use good judgment all the time? If one individual or crew drinks, and it's allowed by supervisors, it sets a tone even if they manage to fight fire with a queezy stomach the next day. Is it possible to maintain discipline/ safety if you don't have zero tolerance on an incident?

A bus driver who objected to his AZ crew drinking got stabbed to death. That's a helluvanote. He was a nice man. They'd demobed the fire and he was taking them to catch their transport home. Clearly very few people that drink kill people, but drinking reduces perceptual acuity, reflexes, and situational awareness. The driver may have gotten stabbed because of zero tolerance and the killer's anger at what he thought the driver had told fire overhead about his drinking.

Mellie (It's fun to get plastered every once in a while, but I give up the keys to my keyboard!)

10/18 Some more photos:

Angeles Helitack Crew and Logo on Helicopters 17 and Logos 10.

Minden Helitack at work on the Waterfall Fire also on Helicopters 17.

A crewmwmber fighting fire on the ground on Handcrews 16.

Check the description pages for the credits. Nice flames. Thanks contributors. Ab.

10/18 Hello All,

In the rule book somewhere is, there a rule that someone can have a 2 drinks with lunch or with dinner, this would be for USFS.

And I cant think of how many times my old shot crew has been in Idaho, and after the fire is out and we hike out we find a small little hole in the wall place that has cold drinks for sale, we do need to put fluids back in the body! Mostly from those longer hike outs in the Salmon NF area when helitack is busy on the other fires.

Who needs a hotel anyways, only a place to get into trouble, with the phone, and watching the TV and those Pay Per View movies, the Hotshot Hotel does just fine.

Fuels guy, I would say 10 to check in.

STL-checks firefighters into hotel, asks where bar is at

First engine –spends 20 mins finding parking spot (one driving, one backing, other sleeping)

Second engine – One scouts for ice machine, other for soda machine, and third going for extra towels

Third engine – One scouts for a place to eat, other is on the phone downstairs that he wants to earn hotel points to add to his 100,000 points he already has, and third is washing up from that long 3 hour drive from station to Fire Camp to hotel.

Just then the BC returns to his Tahoe only to find he does not have any cold drinks, rings alarm for more engines.

Stay Safe,
Sign me
2 drinks not enough for me
10/18 Abs,

That sure looks like the CNF radio shop to me. Or at least the melted
version of it. The radio shop sat on what I think is Miramar Marine Corps
Air Station land just to the southeast of Scripps Ranch in San Diego. It
did have pretty decent clearance around it (100+ feet in most places) and
was mostly metal-sided buildings. It did sit pretty much on a ridgeline
above some pretty deep canyons.

Fish
10/18 Bruce,

Summer season in Jackson Hole would mean there isn't much cost savings
between an hour of helicopter time and a motel room. Both would cost about
the same.

Humor for Monday morning!

Joe

10/18 Thanks for the great pictures Mike!

Missed the discussion in July but can confirm the pilots and crew of Tanker 21
as: Jan Reifenberg, Jim Lesley, and Dan Dawson. Pilot of Lead 8-8 is Rick Gicla.

sign me
rcair
10/18 Its so funny to listen to these people talk hard about "drinking while after hours." Well folks, got news for ya, as long as its after hours and your not drunk or intoxicated out on the line, there is nothing anyone can do about it. If your supervisor tries to say anything, its usually they don't believe in what your doing so its merely a morals difference which has no place in station or on the line.

If this is an issue with anyone contact a labor attorney -- and caution for supervisors -- this is fine line you walk, make the judgment calls on this, its no different from discriminating. What folks do off the clock you have neither power nor the right to decide what they do or how they do it as long as there fit for duty. Remember your not a professional in deciding who is intoxicated either -- your job is to fight fire. Engineers you as well need to understand that while under the influence your held to commercial restrictions as follows on your license same as captains or anyone who's job initials operating that piece of equipment. This will continue to be an issue until the forest service goes to portal-portal! Keep strong.

SoCAL FFupnya

10/18 Motel Humor:

Bruce:
I think I can speak for all Feds and say that we have been personally hurt by your
viscous attack suggesting we would waste money in a political context.

At least you didn't point out that the "CONTRACT" heavy helicopter pilots,
(protecting V.P. Cheney's home), stayed in motels too.

Did someone mention Halliburton? If there really was a ton of money to be made
here, wouldn't they be providing motel rooms? {On a non-competitive exclusive
contract, of course}.

The only reason we're devoting so much time to CDF motel/budget concerns is that
states have to balance budgets or terminate governors.

On a Fed Fire, cost is not an issue. At least that has been my experience.

Question for the good of the order: How many CDF'ers does it take to check into
a hotel room?

Fuels Guy

10/17 This message just fell out of the server. It was sent 10/13. Ab.

Here in Northern California, word has just reached us
about the death of Dan Holmes. Our crew was saddened
today to hear of this event, and we would like to
offer our sincerest condolences to his family and his
crew. God bless Daniel, his friends and family.

Six Rivers Crew 4

10/17 Bruce

I feel for you. You must have been on a bad crew and had a bad supervisor
to have to put up with drunks at 2 in the morning. This has happened under
my watch and the people that went to the bars and are not fit for duty were
sent down the road either at the incident or as soon as we arrived home.
This kind of behavior is not tolerated on any Fed crews that I am aware of.

JE
10/17 Bruce, I question your comment about fed crews being allowed to drink after
hours while on incident. My experience with large fire incidents is that there is
zero tolerance. Crews that drink are sent home. If you're tolerating that
behavior or looking the other way, you're part of the problem. Same with
drug use, be it state, fed, medical or contract crew. On fires there's no room
for being less than 100% situationally aware.

Mellie
10/17 From Firescribe:

Modesto Bee on the alleged Hetchy arsonist

Rangers find body of arson suspect

10/17 Hi Group,

I have a question in regards to the P-3 Orion. On the port side, right behind the captains
windscreen, some models have a small round vent.

Does anyone know what the function of this is?

Thank you,

Mike Evans

Readers, Mike has sent in a number of excellent photos of Air Tankers that dropped on the Waterfall Fire in NV. In July there was some discussion on theysaid regarding who piloted the Lead Plane and T-21. I posted more of his photos, including a couple of SEATS on AirTankers 13 and a couple of Kmax helicopter photos on Helicopters 17. Thanks for sharing, Mike. Ab.
10/17 Ab.

Here are 4 photos taken by me on the Boundary Fire. I think when all was said and done, it burned over 500,000 acres. The first picture is of a Bell 212 making a water drop. The next was taken from a house in the middle of nowhere which a couple of us were in charge of structure protection. The third picture was taken back in camp at about 2330. I don't think anyone on the crew could sleep the first couple of nights we were there. The sun goes down in Idaho, not in Alaska. The last one: This picture doesn't do what we were looking at justice. The reality was WALLPAPER size.

Thanks, Douglas S.

Nice photos. I posted them on Fire 24, Crews 15, and Helicopters 17. Ab.
10/17 Hi Ab,

I was a member of the Kaibab helitack over the 2004 fire season. Our crew is located in williams arizona on the kaibab national forest. There are two pics of the helitack crew in our bell 407 ( from helicopter express from lawrenceville georgia). One is a proficiency rappel in Payson AZ. the other pic is from the line on the willow near payson arizona in july 2004. thanks alot, I have tons of fire pictures and if you like these I can send more.

Cody

Nice, Cody, I put them on Helicopters 16. Ab.

10/17 Ab,

Here is a photo of a CDF dozer working at night at the "Geyser" fire.

CZU

Thanks, I posted it (1741) on the Equipment 8 page in the second row just after the photo of the same dozer on its transport. Ab.

10/17 Ron sent in photos of the air tanker Minden Air is testing and the logo on its tail. I posted them on AirTankers 12. Thanks Ron. The Neptunes on that page were moved from a page that had too many photos.

On Equipment 8 photo page is supposedly a photo of the Cleveland NF Radio Shop, burned to the ground. We received a number of photos. I posted only one. Anyone know the story on that or was that a hoax? My questions to the sender came back as undeliverable.

Ab.

10/17 RAIN in Norcal and in Socal!

Started on the northcoast at 0900 or so, heard they're having 1/2 inch + in the Bay
Area and in San Diego in the last 24 hours.

County Guy

10/17 Fireball XL5, $29K for 6 Type 1 OES Strike Teams? Sorry, but I think not, even for 3 hours. Expenses associated with the rigs including broken transmissions etc. The cost ratio increases if you add in travel time, or the fact that those who "person" the engines will rack up lodging & possibly sustenance expense in addition to their salaries & OT.

Bruce, yes and if anyone cares to read the archives there was a big discussion about CA strike team personnel sitting in lawn chairs drinking cold beverages while guarding expensive homes, just in case a spark flew over the summit.

There were and continue to be inequities. Life isn't always an even playing field. Instead of beating that dead horse forever, isn't it time to focus on a solution?

Meteorologists say R5 might get a gully washer, but if it is like rains of a month ago it will be spotty - that one delivered 2" in an hour to one locale & a mile away it was mostly virga.

be safe y'all.
northzone
10/16 Any Forest Service employee's having trouble finding the Dept. of Agriculture link on the employee express sign in page? Can't seem to find it after I enter my SSN and password. I know there is a new web page coming out that will handle everything, is that why I can't find it? Oh yeah its foggy and cold in So. Cal with low pressure systems and moisture on the way, looks like fire season almost outta here!

FFEric
10/16 To Aberdeen:

Who would have thought that a small group of rag tag, renegade union firefighters from California would have had the audacity to actually meet with Republicans in 1994, the year they took over the majority of the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years, and develop relationships to the point that we now have eliminated the overtime pay cap for federal wildland firefighters and now are on the verge of realizing portal to portal after decades of effort?

There should be no doubt that our aggressive efforts to relate and communicate with those on both sides of the aisle, and more importantly our success at it, rankled many a feather at the IAFF.

How could it be, that an Association of some 300 wildland firefighters can achieve success on their issues, when the 260,000 member IAFF who, over years and years adopted the wildland issues through the resolution process at convention, failed to achieve anything for wildland firefighters? They have made significant strides as a result of 9/11 to get funding for the F.I.R.E. Act and SAFER Act, but guess what? Federal firefighters cannot access those millions of dollars.

Again, most of the unions representing federal firefighters, whether they be DoD (Department of Defense), wildland firefighters or others, also represent other federal employees. Granted, the IAFF is an exception to that. However the fact is that the number of federal firefighters in the IAFF is but a pimple on a horse's you-know-what as compared to the number of municipal and state firefighters. It should therefore come as no surprise that federal firefighters frequently get only lip service from their unions because federal firefighters represent such a small portion of their membership. It might surprise you to know that a union president for a federal DoD fire department covered by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) could be a plumber, carpenter, or anything OTHER than a firefighter who has absolutely no clue about the issues facing federal firefighters.

It should also come as no surprise that the number of registered republican union members has increased significantly over the last few years. Still, the major unions only make tepid inroads to develop relationships on the republican side. Most have gotten wise enough to at least tell their members they work both sides, and list a handful of moderate republicans, primarily from the East Coast to demonstrate their "bipartisan" efforts. But who are they kidding. Labor = Democrats, that's the bottom line...or is it?

I say hogwash. Success at any level of politics involves your issue, your strategy to move the issue, and the relationships you've developed that can shepherd your issues through the quagmire called congress. You simply cannot expect success at the federal level when you blast the Administration and the Republicans for all your woes, (shall we not forget they still have the majority on the Hill) so as to rally the troops, trot out a few moderate republicans and say "see, we work both sides of the aisle" and then expect your issues to move simply because you are firefighters.

I want to share a very poignant statement made to me by the 4th ranking Republican in the House. " If the IAFF had come and talked to me and developed a relationship with me and my office like you have, chances are my AFL-CIO voting record might be different. But if they are going to continue to ignore me and others, the heck with them."

Still further, from the lips of the 2nd ranking Republican: "It's time we empower our federal firefighters..."

Now granted, I don't agree with their politics on every issue. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less what they think about abortion, or guns or prescription drugs. What matters is that they support our federal wildland firefighters and give me as much time as I need because we have taken years and years to forge relationships with them as well as democrats. It is gratifying to know that those we work with on both sides know very well that we work both sides and respect it. Simply stated, firefighter issues should be bipartisan.

Therein lies a key point. The major federal unions, even the IAFF, have sucked themselves into issues that might not necessarily be germane to the firefighting occupation. As a result, they lose, to some degree, their shine as America's bravest. Thus, when their (the union) legislative priority might be national collective bargaining, even with over half the House of Representatives on board as cosponsors, it won't see the light of day.

Yet, us small group of renegades, known as the FWFSA, again not a union, have ventured out on our own and eliminated the overtime pay cap, are on the verge of bringing portal to portal pay and the inclusion of hazard duty pay in retirement calculations to all who are so deserving of such pay reform and will next tackle the nutty 401 and work to ensure all receive hazard pay on prescribe burns.

We accomplish this not because we dole out thousands and thousands of dollars to politicians. It's because we have taken the time to educate those that can effect change for the better. We have done more than simply say "we're firefighters, we deserve this." We have spent hours and hours working with congressional staff, providing data and information. We have created marketing strategies to sell our issues to fiscally conservative republicans as well as liberal democrats who, until recently, had no idea what federal wildland firefighters do. Most important...We have established our credibility and integrity on Capitol Hill.

Unions, as imagined, have done wonderful things for employees. However, sometimes, and this is just my opinion, they get so big, they lose sight of who they are representing. They may hear you, but they may not be listening to you.

My quip about the FWFSA petitioning the FLRA probably caused a few heart attacks on our Board of Directors and was said "tongue in cheek"...sort of. The process of course is far more complicated than I suggested and most importantly would have to be a proposal submitted by the members and voted upon. My point was that we're doing pretty good on the legislative side of things. If NFFE isn't interested in working their butts off for their federal firefighters, maybe someone else should.

Regarding our "compassionate conservative," he needs to be educated too. He's not the brightest bulb in the pack and dare I say a number of House Republicans don't agree with him on many issues. But you need a good marketing strategy and access. Access comes from the relationships you've developed in his party. Simply yelling at him and deriding him from a few blocks away in DC, isn't going to cut it.

Both sides of the aisle and the Administration can become a support group for federal wildland firefighter issues. The key is the leadership representing federal wildland firefighters.

Thankfully, someone has pulled the soapbox out from under me.

With Great Affection to all of you on the lines...

Casey Judd
10/16 Motel Discussion:

I will add my two cents worth on the motels as a former USFS employee. It would seem like some federal people are a little upset at times that CDF is able to get motel rooms and they can't. This is not a reason to throw rocks at CDF people. The person who posted he would love to see the best of both agencies by all the agencies in wildland fire made a very insightful observation.

I was on a Type I incident near Palomar Mtn. near the Cleveland on a fire in the early 90's. The fire was being managed by a Type I CA team with a USFS incident commander even though it was completely on SRA. The fire camp was in a CDF conservation camp. I was the resource unit leader and had a friend from CDF as a trainee. The friend had been my strike team leader in Yellowstone in 1988. The metal plans trailer had been pulled inside a metal warehouse building in 100 degree weather. With no air circulation inside the warehouse building it was difficult to work. It was a hot type I incident and working the resources unit was difficult as everything was on paper then and your mind had to work like the computer we didn't have. Sleep for resource unit leaders is essential to keeping the mind fresh enough to work incidents with lots of resources. In camp it was very difficult to get sleep or a shower because of the high numbers of CDF crews and not being able to mix in with a crew when they occupy the shower unit. My CDF friend arrived the second day I was there and had a motel room and no truck while I had a truck and no motel room. I asked the agency rep for the Forest Service if there was any problem with myself and my trainee staying in the motel room and commuting the short distance to the fire together. He said "go".

My performance on this particular fire was very important to me for several reasons. First, this was my first Type I assignment as a RUL since the Stanislaus Complex in 1987 where my performance was not really up to the task. I later found out that I had been red carded for RUL by the Forest red card committee and never had the basic 40 for the RUL position. This decision had been made as a result of participating as an RUL in a team ICS simulation in Boise some 2 years prior and due to some Type II experience I had under LFO. Trouble was that LFO experience did not give me the training I needed to understand all the duties of an RUL in ICS. When I arrived on my first Type I incident, I fell on my face and was given the boot, a situation which had to be reviewed by the IC. By the way, this happened while I was an employee in R4.

After that experience I made sure I received some Type II experience as an RUL and gave myself the hour basic using the position course book. Once I did that I felt very comfortable about accepting out of area Type I assignments again. I had transferred to R5 a year after the unfortunate experience on the Stanislaus and really wanted to make a good name for myself in R5. As a result I found myself RUL on this CDF fire near Palomar working for the same IC I had worked under when I had my bad experience on the Stanislaus. With more experience and clear mind from the excellent sleep I got in the motel, my mind worked very well and I left the incident with a really outstanding rating. The plans chief had been informed by the IC that I was to meet with him before I left the incident and when I did, he thanked me for a great job and said I had really redeemed myself from the experience in 1987. I think staying in the motel and getting good sleep had a lot to do with my ability to perform in a job that requires a lot of multi-task, simultaneous task, and interrelationship type thinking. The shortcut qualification I received would never happen now because of the task book system.

Although I had been and continued to be mostly an operations, groundpounder type on most of the fires I went on, I looked at this experience with the motel with a different perspective. When you have nearby motels and a good policy to make sure the people who really need it are up on the priority list I think the CDF folks have a real good point about their use. I think it sure helped in my successful effort to reestablish a good reputation after a red card team put me in a situation I never should have been involved with in the first place.

Again, just my two cents worth.

Retired Forester (R3, R4, and R5 and in that order! 1973 - 1999)

10/16 BLM Bob,

Don't want
to forget the "hair nets" and "gut bag" meals.
Remember we also got "smokes" in those WWII era rats
and cigars in camp. First shower I saw in camp was at
the Marble Cone in 1977. Nothing better than Frisco
jeans, except we had to buy them ourselves.

earthpig
10/16 Unions

I'm not trying to be a pessimist, or punch holes in anyone's desires to get a better work environment,
but ................. for anyone who wishes for, wants, dream or desires a strong union representing the
interests of wildland firefighters at the Federal level, I'd sure recommend that you look back at the
situation that developed with the Air Traffic Controllers under Ronald Reagan in the 1980's: do you
really think that our current "Compassionate Conservative" and his crew of NeoCons will be any
more supportive, and less vindictive?

Aberdeen
10/16 From Firescribe:

On the Aftermath of the San Diego Fires:
Conference details new policies after fires

10/16 FLRA = Federal Labor Relations Authority?

Mellie

10/16 To the Bruce who posted to the Hot List Forum

Thanks for the "skinny" on the actions & search for the armed arsonist on the
Hetchy Fire. It's a Pretty Brazen Thug who lights fires with a propane torch
while holding a gun in his other hand. I've heard some bizarre tales, but that
takes the cake. Hope they catch the SOB.

Many thanks for the Hot List Forum Abs.

Todd

Yer welcome. This Ab who didn't set it up appreciates the Ab who did.

10/16 To DM, NZHelitack, CDFTRUE, Fireball XL5 , CDFBC, Rouge Rivers and anybody else the least bit interested in rehashing this 15 year old motel question ... and other issues of fire costs ...

Isn't it fun picking cost nits? I've heard this "complaint" about CDF'ers getting motel rooms from many of my Federal and local government brothers a zillion times over the last decade or more. As somebody said below, it is in fact a tired old issue. Unless maybe you're brand new to wildland fire control in Calif. and just now experiencing some of the differences between the two agency's methodology and mission. Tired issue or not, I see an opening to contribute an anecdote regarding the comparison of costs for your enjoyment.

A couple years ago, 2001 to be exact, I interrupted my 20+ year CDF career and spent a summer as a "digger" on a Hotshot crew based in Montana. One of the fires we were on ... let's see which one was it? Oh yeah ... the Green Knoll fire just west of Jackson Wyoming, on some ridges adjacent to a subdivision of really upscale homes. (One of which just happened to be owned by our ever-scowling VP Dick Cheney.) Anyway, a few days into this fire it was contained and well into the mopup phase. But as is typical in that part of the world there were no type III engines to speak of so we were told we would be provided with Mark III pumps, pumpkin tanks, pencil hose and the like. On our section of line some guys from who-knows-where set up a pumpkin and attempted to get the Mark III running ( you should have seen the attempts to fill the pumpkin with a Bambi bucket - what a riot!) Well, the first Mark III out of the box wouldn't go ... neither would the second. That, or the guy trying to run 'em didn't know how. So lacking any functioning portable pumps, guess how we spent two days mopping up a fire within site of Dick Cheney's house?

If you guessed heli-mopping you win! But not just helimopping, oh no.... but Type 1 heli-tanker-mopping!! That's right sports fans, two Type 1's of the "crane" variety, and a gaggle of Type 2's to boot ... mopping up for the better part of two days. I wondered then, as I do now, how many of the hundreds of Federal firefighters sleeping in the dirt at base camp, near the flight path of all those copters, and within earshot of the generators providing air conditioning to the overhead's yurts, could have been provided clean, quiet motel rooms in Jackson (ten minutes away) for the cost of two Type 1 helitankers doing mopup for two days?

At the time I was outraged ! ( But knowing that I would return to the CDF fold one day I was glad that I wouldn't have to accept this BS for long). I failed to see the justification for trading a Mark III pump for a "sky crane" in order to mop-up stump holes and downed logs. But I also thought it was pretty cool 'cause I got some great photo's of the ships in action. (Side bar question... how many truckloads of Mark III pumps could you buy for the cost of one-day's worth of Type 1 helicopter? ) The other things I thought of at the time were ... It's pretty sad in this so-called modern era that my Federal Brothers and Sisters are treated so poorly .... Who allows this sort of fiscal and personnel abuse? Is anybody working on behalf of my downtrodden Federal brothers and sisters? Do these guys and gals really think this is the best way to operate? Or is it just that they don't know any better? Will we sit around on this mountain side long enough to time our return to base camp so we can score a couple hours of overtime? If we do that, will the kitchen still be open and will there be enough time to take a shower? How long is the line at the shower trailer anyway? Will they be running the damn generators all night, again? Why can't we disconnect back-up alarms after 2200 hours or at least require all these knucklheads to only drive forward? How come half my crewmates will be in town tonight at the bar? ( hey ... how come USFS guys get to drive into town and drink beer after their shift while I'm restricted to soda pop in my motel room?) I hope I can get back to sleep after the drinkers get back to camp at 0230 and wake the rest of us up. Wait, wait, wait! I'm getting off the track here... starting to whine, sorry.

Anyway... I guess my point is that our missions differ, our operational geography and demographics differ, our policies differ, our tactics differ, our equipment differs, our career possibilities differ, etc etc etc. There are probably as many aspects of our two agencies that differ as there are that coincide. I suggest we spend our limited time and energy considering ways we can increase our knowledge and understanding of fire behavior, how to best deploy resources to meet our mission, and improving fire ground communications and equipment, all with an eye toward eliminating future fire ground fatalities ... instead of whining about who gets what comfy perk when and where - like CDF'ers bitching about the money our brothers and sisters in local government make on our fires, and Fed folks bitching about CDF'ers getting motel rooms on their fires. Lets all sign on with and support our respective employee organizations and let them work on the benefit issues while we concentrate on other important issues... like making sure the Mark III's from the cache work.

Never Forget; Never Again!
Bruce

10/16 JT,

I'm not sure exactly how the military eats when they're on their maneuvers
(other than a lot of MREs), but I've taken a couple of military battalions
to fire assignments and I noticed two things. First, the food they eat in
their base cafeterias isn't a whole lot better than what the better fire
camp caterers put out, and second when they got to fire camp, the troops
thought _very_ highly of the food ("chop") there. So draw your own
conclusions.

i worked in Alaska for a while, and while AK ffs are pretty used to eating
MREs for three or more days straight, you couldn't say the same for a lot
of people coming up from the lower 48 on an assignment. There was often a
certain amount of grumbling about the food on AK fires.

Of course you can live on MREs for a long time, but people have different
expectations these days. When I started fighting fires it was C-rats, and
if you got trucked to a nearby school for a shower every other day that was
sheer looooxuuureee.

To generate a little thread drift: I'm sure some of the other old-timers
here can tell stories - cotton fire shirts, Frisco jeans, military surplus
web gear, the early huge orange-cased fire shelters, Filson vests,
one-gallon 'banjo' canteens, the first generation of nomex pants, and the
first women on fire crews.

BLM Bob
10/16 Casey

How do we start the petition to have FLRA take over exclusive bargaining
rights for Federal Firefighters from NFFE? Help Guide us.

Long time member of the FWFSA
JE
10/16 - Victoria S.

I just got back from Pensacola last friday, I was traveling around the area
working for FEMA, I might be able to answer some questions you may
have about P'cola. Hope I can help.

-JT
10/16 DM:

How much does it cost?......Only the audits could answer that. CDF motels are paid at a state rate of 84.00 per night for two people. However.........how much does a contracted air conditioned tent cost per night from one of the big vendors? We will never agree on this issue, as I assume you are a fed and I work for CDF. Bottom line is that this was a union issue bargained for like our salaries, retirement, and benefits. As far as feds getting the same treatment on CDF fires, they often do, as with local government resources. However, I don't believe CDF has any intentions or obligations to extending a L2881union benefit to federal resources. One thing to consider is that unlike CDF Firefighters, fed resources are off the clock when they are off the fireline, right? The same goes for CDC staff. They do not receive motel rooms even though they are mated with the CDF crew strike teams. It really is apples and oranges, and is simply one of the many differences between CDF and the federal agencies.

As far as the 24 hour shift pattern, that was simply my opinion. Crews bedding down on a 24 is not written into that shift plan in any way. I have seen 12 hour night shifts where crews are not allowed on the fireline due to snags or rolling material and they sit around camp fires at a drop point. There are a multitude of isolated examples you could cite, but if you look at the entire cycle of 24 hours on a large fire: Briefing, breakfast, supplies, fuel, TRAVEL TIME, division or branch swap outs, safety briefings, more safety briefings, TRAVEL TIME more briefings, etc. etc. etc. the 12 hour shift turns into a few hours of work and a lot of back and forth. If a resource is working the 24 as it was designed, you should see 15-18 hours of production in a 24 hour shift, allowing for good, solid rest the following day. CDF Assistant Chief John Hawkins wrote a great article about the 24 hour shift published in Firehouse Magazine a while back. If you can find it, it might answer some questions for you.

We will continue to see CDF and fed resources called to one another's fires. I don't always agree with it, but it is the day and age of MIRPS, NIFC, OES, and the other interagency programs we deal with. However, don't expect to automatically see assimilation with the other agency's way of doing business. Take care.

CDF TRUE
10/16 As a former Executive Board member of the California Professional Firefighters, I had the honor and opportunity to work with, and learn from, the leadership of the CDF local. CDFBC is right on point when he speaks of "contracts."

Under Governor Davis, the CDF, for the most part, flourished. Their lobbyists at the state level, Aaron and others, are extremely potent and good at what they do. They secured benefits that are worthwhile to their members.

The problem on the federal side rests in their "contract," or lack thereof. Most federal wildland firefighters are covered by the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE). The problem with many of these national federal unions is that federal firefighters are but a small portion of the employees they represent. All too often, federal firefighter issues, especially with respect to pay and benefits and working conditions, are not actively or aggressively pursued because their needs are not understood.

Case in point. The FWFSA is likely the only organization nationwide working to improve pay & benefits for federal wildland firefighters, yet the FWFSA is not a union. We are working tirelessly to bring portal to portal to our folks while NFFE is AWOL in the fight. We conduct this effort 3000 miles away from Washington, DC where ironically, NFFE is located.

For those in the federal wildland service, it is time you make NFFE hear your collective voices loud and clear. You pay dues for something, it's time the union does something for you.

There are many times that I wish we at the FWFSA were able to represent our federal wildland firefighters at the negotiating table. Perhaps if the union expended as much effort and passion for its federal wildland firefighters as we do, the issue of motels might not need to come up.

CDFBC is also clearly correct with respect to the "geography" of state incidents versus federal agencies. Don't know a whole lot of CDF folks who have had the opportunity to deploy coyote tactics.

In any event, don't punish or blame the CDF for the work their leadership has done on behalf of its members. Send a message loud and clear to NFFE. Or...you could always contemplate the FWFSA petitioning the FLRA to take over the exclusive bargaining rights for federal firefighters from NFFE...yikes, did I say that?

Hopefully if we can get portal to portal done this session, you may not care where you sleep. Stay safe.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
10/16 On the subject of feeding crews....

As a person who likes MREs, it doesnt sound like a bad idea, but I do believe that if we did get MREs for all meals morale would drop to about zero. We all know how nice it is to be able to sit down and have a nice, hot, well made, delicious (in most cases) meal after a long day on the line. I do have a question though, how does the military get fed? I know its MREs in the field, but what do they get in camp? Just curious.

Also on the subject of hotels, I was just down in Florida at the NAS Saufley field camp, at the camp they had portable sleeper units, 18wheeler trailers set up with a bunch of beds inside. Would this be a viable and cost effective alternative to hotel rooms for crews? Or are they way to expensive to contract?

By the way if anyone who was running the Saufley Field camp is reading this, I must send my compliments for a job well done.

JT

10/16 CDFBC, well said!!! great post...

Your Federal brothers and sisters may not be the only ones behind the posts regarding the hotel debate.... But, I'm sure most of the Federal Wildland Firefighters are grateful for your wishes and support for portal to portal and increased benefits. Thank You!

The great thing about this site is that it is anonymous. The folks that keep bringing the issue to the table may be state or federal legislative staff, other local government departments, envious federal firefighters, or even the press- who knows? In any case, it's important to express your views and opinions... Whomever posts here always has important opinions, questions, or answers to educate all of us.

CDFBC, keep an open mind on the 24 hour shift as many of us Fed folks do. The 24 hr. and 12 - 16 hr. shifts each have a place and purpose. Somewhere in the middle we'll meet. I think it's the same thing on the hotel policies. There is a definite place and purpose - work:rest guidelines, quality of rest, fatigue, and incident costs are all factors to be considered. Each management team must make the best decisions for the specific incidents they are managing.

I must note though, a CDF friend of mine gave the literature behind the CDF "quality of rest" policy to me. It would appear that air conditioned sleeping tents with cots, sleeping trailers and portable showers meet the intent of the agreement on federal fires. But are the federal accommodations (fire camp) more cost effective than the hotels and local feeding arrangements? Somewhere in the middle I'd guess the answer sits...

Rogue Rivers
10/15 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated. Ab.
10/15 To NZ Helitack

Re: your cost analysis of hotels: an average cost of 29,000 dollars per 24 hour shift

Lets put that in perspective:

That’s 3 hours of Type 1 helitanker time…
Or
6 Type 1 dozers or excavators for the day
OR
10 3000 gallon water tenders
OR
6 Type 1 OES Strike Teams

Fireball XL5
10/15 Picker,

RE: Air show question

No wall, ENF dispatch (Camino) informed ATGSs on Power and Freds that Minden was open …..….. There was some confusion initially as to whether the Presidential TFR at Tahoe encompassed MEV. ..so the tankers were told to reload SCK …… Once it was cleared up tankers were sent to MEV. 

CIC was used to facilitate fueling of the P-3’s ….. Ever try and fuel 5 P-3’s out of the mini hose on the fuel truck at MEV? Could be an all week event!

SCK continued to be used intermittently to keep MEV from getting backed up.

Also, North Ops was fine with tankers loading and RON ‘ ing at MEV……

Tiddly tac the airtak

(also nice to have LC!)
10/15 Picker, re Stockton vs. Minden:

Just a guess, but it might have something to do with President Bush being in Reno yesterday. There is a 30 NM TFR around anywhere he is. That may have either necessitated going around so far from Minden, or such a pain, that someone felt it was "easier" from Stockton. Although I agree and have seen first hand the "wall" as you refer it. I'm not sure that this was the case here. Again, just a guess on my part............and I hope that was all that was going on.

KCP
10/15 To all,

I've followed some of the talk about CDF staying in motels and about how the Government can save money. I don't see any problem with anyone, State or Federal, sleeping in motels, when practical. It just makes more sense to get the best rest you can, again, when it's practical. I'm sure that safety was a consideration when the CDF implemented their policies. And yes, there are a lot of other areas where money can be saved.

On the subject of safety vs money, I'm sure that everyone can agree that a well fed firefighter is an advantage over one that isn't. I hear that the Feds are critical of the cost of providing food at fire camp (beancounters on the march). Some say State kitchens (ie CDF) are the way to go. Others say the Federal (ie Forest Service contract) kitchens are the way to go. I've even hear some say that every firefighter (including camp rats) should be perfectly happy with 3 MREs per day.

What does everyone think? Is food even a safety concern? Should they cut back on the food at fire camp? Or, should we go the other way and argue for more or better food at camp? Or should we get MREs for breakfast & lunch, and then go to town for dinner?

I'm just curious.

- Batchmaster
10-15 hi i hope you don't mind if I ASK you some questions about Firemen's clothing:

What did firefighters wear in the 1950's?

What were the materials used?

Why did the uniform change?

kiri

10/15 On Hotels and 24 Hour Shifts

I have to smile at how often this comes up. I sure wish our federal brothers and sisters would get their portal to portal and associated benefits so we can stop re visiting this. I also hope the CDF contract is used as an example of why they should get the same benefits. They certainly deserve them.

I am sorry DM, that I can’t give you a cost for the motel rooms. Naturally it varies from fire to fire. I can say this though; it has saved the state significant money versus the 3 or 5% pay raise we had to forgo to get the benefit. Or maybe it was a reduction of the seasonals' 96 hour work week. I can’t remember; it has been over 15 years.

I can remember though trying to sleep in 115 degree heat under an engine in a pasture using cow droppings for a pillow (organic Frisbees is what we used to call them). CDF isn’t blessed with a lot of pristine country, especially in the southern 2/3rds of the state. I am glad I gave up the raise for the benefit. It is a safety issue.

Two last thoughts on motels: CDF protects mainly private property. Motels are more abundant near many of our fires than are open sleeping areas. That we differ in this respect from the federal zones is often forgotten. Secondly, when we do rent rooms, at least that money is going right back into the local economy. I am a tax payer too, but I would rather see my money go into Ma and Pa’s Shady Rest Hotel than a lot of things I’ve see tax dollars squandered on. That the federal agencies must a times pay this goes back to the contract and the four party agreement.

As for the 24 hour shift, there are no excuses for crews bedding down when it gets dark. That is a pet peeve of mine. I hope the rest of the CDF’ers reading this take heed and keep their crews working.

A twenty four hour shift used correctly is very efficient. It means only one planning meeting, one briefing and one shift change per day. Unless the fire is really moving at night, the planning meeting can actually account for fire growth after the peak burning period, instead of an estimate made at an 11 am meeting. This results in more realistic staffing. More importantly, from a safety standpoint, you get to see your line in daylight. Fighting fire at night in country you haven’t seen is supposed to be a no-no.

That’s enough for now, thanks all.

CDFBC
10/15 DM, 

I would have to agree... It seems that you hit the nail on the head, while everyone in the state of California is in an uproar about suppression costs, we seem to neglect the fact that hotels are still a part of CDF's "union rule." I would like to venture a cost analysis about the Rumsey Fire... Lets just say that there are only 1000 people hoteling up... at two people per room (in a perfect world) at the conus rate of 58 dollars a night that would be an average cost of 29,000 dollars per 24 hour shift... a lot more expensive than sleeping in the dirt! Our crew prides itself in being cost effective... even on a simple 2-3 hour I.A. if we reach pumpkin, the contractors sleep in a hotel and we sleep in the dirt, or airport, or wherever. 

Signed N.Z. Helitack
10/15 The recent threads lead me to the conclusion that I'm not qualified to sleep in a 
motel since most of my experience came under LFO and the majority of my after 
graduate education came as a result of ICS.

I guess I'll be sleeping in the blue sky motel and school science labs until I finish 
my career.

I can't go to work for CDF because I can't stay awake for 24 hours at a time 
anymore. I can't go to work for the USFS due to an agreement I made with Uncle
Sam when I came back from Canada in 1972.

Oliver

Seriously...I tried motel sleeping on several large fires and it was great. Ole Tom 
from Motel 6 even left the light on for me when I was late getting off of the line.
10/15 A few months back on the fire on the Lassen Modoc Unit, CDF hired coach
buses to drive CDF personnel for two and a half hours to motel rooms in
Redding and back the next day. Is this practical or fair use of tax payers
money?

JE
10/15 Fuels Guy

Back in the days of the "Great Valley" and growing up with Little Foot and the gang, Life was Grand!!

OIG audits, I have never seen the results of these audits but have only heard the rumors that came out after their audits. I sure would like to see one of the actual reports. It is my opinion that when these folks do their audits, they are only concerned with what is on paper (both the FSH 5109.17 requirements compared to your documentation in support of your qualifications). I would guess that they are not concerned with the school of hard knocks or whether you can perform the job. I know when my Forest converted from the Large Fire Organization to the ICS system, it was a group of Fire Management folks sitting down and deciding where you fit in the ICS system. There was not good documentation done to explain their rationale. In fact, does any unit still have what the requirements were for the Large Fire Organization or all the different versions of the FSH5109.17 or the PMS310-1 that have been used in the last 20 years?

I also think you have to ask this question, "Can I defend my qualifications, on paper, during an investigation either by OIG or an Accident Investigation Team?" If anyone's answer is NO, Good Luck because you will need all the luck you can get!

Have a good one!
Hippy Mike

10/15 DM and PYG

Drop it already!
We get hotels as a part of our contract. Organize and negotiate with your employer
and then you too can sleep in a hotel.
It's an old argument trotted out each and every fire season and it's tiresome.
Everyone in CDF has slept on the ground at one time or another and still do.
We sleep in hotels when PRACTICAL not as a guarantee: it's a privilege, not a right.

Captain Emmett
10/15 To CDF TRUE:

Motel Unit Leader Positions aside.
Do you see any potential conflict between your points #2 and #3.
#2) "a 24 hour shift pattern, which has proven to be far more efficient" ......
#3) "are under strict CHP / DMV driving vs. uninterrupted sleep rules " .....

Fatigue is the real issue here. You're right, a good night's sleep is priceless.
Trying to sleep during the day does create zombies for night shift.
However, there is a reason we feds gave up on the 24 hour thing. The
further along I get in this game, the more I wish we could pick and
choose from each agency's best policy.
Anybody sucking down some CO for extended periods want to make
a judgment on that?

Fuels Guy

10/15 Fuels Guy,

Thanks for putting things into perspective. I, too, remember when mountains were higher, canyons deeper, trees taller & bigger! not too sure if you saw the biggest rocks, tho........ do you remember no roads? or the Pillican fire on the ElDorado when anyone driving a 1/2 ton pick-up (truck in todays terminology) on US 50 was conscripted? <grins> I gotta remember your words, because no one believes that I trudged barefoot for 3 miles to school, in drifting snow!

* before anyone takes offense or doubts what the seniors say, think again!

all funnin' aside, best wishes to all the kids on any wild fire anywhere!

northzone

10/14 Still my question wasn't answered, how much does it
cost? I know your union got this approved years ago
but the bottom line is it's still a huge expense. And
yes I know that there are more and more green rigs at
hotels, but mainly overhead. I think most of them
have earned that luxury. I don't see a mass departure
of federal engines and crews to hotels on complex
fires (state or federal).

Also I'll question your statement that a 24 hour shift
is more efficient.. I just got back from the Geysers
fire and as soon as it got dark the crews jammied up
and bedded down. How is that more effective? or are
the 24 hour shifts built with 8 hour of rest in mind.
I would like to see the study where they say 24 hour
shifts are more efficient.

You are right about one thing and no, crews don't get
proper sleep in 120 degree weather but most teams are
providing air conditioned tents and in special
circumstances they give them hotel rooms. I just
really think it's funny that when federal crews are
called to assist on CDF fires that they aren't given
the same luxury of rooms especially when we're helping
you. Because the majority of the time we eat the bill
for your hotels when we call for assistance on fed
fires. SO WHEN IN ROME.... as the saying goes.

DM

10/14 Hi,
I noticed that you didn't list the monument to those who perished fighting the Rock
Creek Fire near Orevada, Nevada. It is now part of the Staff Ride program. Here's
a link to a picture of the monument:
www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/staffride/lsr3_stand1.phpl

I had the opportunity to go on the staff ride this last season and it was excellent.
Hope this helps.

Thanks,
Jim Shepherd

I'll add it. Lots of folks have sent in photos of monuments and memorials around the country. Instead of having a page of granite thumbnails, I might just link to them individually from the monuments/memorials page. I've done some of that already. Ab.

10/14 OIG vs IQCS

Hippy Mike:

Well I started when the rocks were harder, the trees tall, before the valleys all filled in flat from erosion.
What Strider is trying to say, is that OIG does not recognize the school of hard knocks.
Next Question: What role do the OIG audits play?
Did OIG put out any reports on Cramer and the sampling of National Forests they were looking at?
Please post, if so. Thanks.

Fuels Guy

10/14 lobotomy...I ran my first division on a fire in 1961, and was active in suppression all thru the implementation of ICS and Firescope.

Previous posts on this board have shown that it is common practice to overload the span of control of a Division Supervisor in an IAP.

The Sector Boss position was a good spot for a young fire person to have a chance at directing a limited number of suppression forces within a given area. It was always regarded as a young firefighter's first line supervisory job and a chance for them to demonstrate their skills. I don't think the Division/Group Supervisor rank is the place for this to happen.

I say again, it is simpler to assign this span of control in the Plans Trailer than it is to make those assignments at a DP or Staging Area.

viejo

10/14 The 209s report no HELTK or FIXW assigned to the Powers Fire at any time.

SoCal CDF

10/14 Air show question:

Can someone out there set me straight? Why are the Power and Freds
incidents reloading out of Stockton instead of Minden? The Freds incident
is 70 NM from SCK and MEV is 28 NM. The Power incident is 62 NM from SCK
and MEV is 36 NM. Yesterday the Power was reloading out of CIC (Chico)
which is 109 NM. Am I missing something here? MEV was opened yesterday
upon request from the Power and never used, and is open this morning. Is
that infamous wall standing tall in R-5?

Picker

10/14 Another term for the terms page.

"Maximum ching-ching" overtime with hazard pay

KRM

Thanks, I added it. Ab.

10/14 Response to PYG

You could dissect the fiscal responsibility of both agencies on large fires and I think you would find much bigger fish to fry than motels for CDF Firefighters.

Why do CDF Firefighters get to sleep in motel rooms?.....why couldn't they sleep on the ground like the rest of the feds?....My friend, you are asking a question that has been tossed around in bitter circles a million times, but with respect to your question, I will give you my opinion in bullet points.

1. The motel policy was fought for by our Union, Local 2881 of the International Association of Firefighters. It was bargained for by our members and adopted into MOU policy many years ago in an effort to better ensure the rest of off shift CDF firefighters.

2. The motel policy parallels our departments SOP's of a 24 hour shift pattern, which has proven to be far more efficient than 8,10,12,or 16 hour shift patterns when you look at pure fireline work hours complimented by true off shift rest.

3. Our Captain B (Crew Captains) are under strict CHP / DMV driving vs. uninterrupted sleep rules due to the passenger endorsement needed to operate an Emergency Crew Transport (ECT)

4. CDF has strict rules about CDF motels.....the priority system goes: Fire Evacuees, CDF pilots, CDF Captain B's (both due to rest regulations), CDF engine companies, CDF overhead, CDF basecamp personnel........However........ If we are in LMU on a fire and there are no motels, then we sleep on the ground. If we get to a fire three hours before morning briefing, we sleep on the ground, If the drive proves unsafe or too long to be effective, we sleep on the ground.

5. These days, a work vs. rest cycle is often talked about when adopting shift patterns and assignments on a fire. Does a fed crew really get their off duty rest in a tent in Cabazon when it is 120 degrees on a 12 hour shift?

6. Finally, take a look around at other agencies on a large fed fire. Avoiding the Scud Missles of a CDF Motel Unit in base camp is popular, but where are all the local government overhead assigned to Fed Teams? They may be paying for the motel with their agency card, but I will bet it is being billed with their time package. Also, take a look at fed resources these days. I see more and more mint green rigs in motel parking lots. When in Rome...........

CDF TRUE

10/14 Ever heard of collective bargaining? We bargained for hotel rooms. It’s in our
contract. It is a term of our employment just like our hours and our pay structure.
If the citizens of the state of California didn’t want us to have it as a condition
of employment, then they should have had better bargainers on their side of
the table that year.

FC 180
10/14 The issue of How Many People Can A Division Supervisor Manage is a serious one. In 1999 six people on a NPS Type 2 crew were entrapped on the Sadler fire near Elko, NV on a Division that had 22 to 26 units that had to be directly managed by the Division Supervisor.

I have participated in safety evaluations of ongoing Type 1 fires. One of the most common issues found is overloaded Divisions, where the Division Supervisor (DIVS) is directed to manage more (sometimes much more) than the Incident Command System ideal of five subordinates.

At times, this serious condition seemed to be based on laziness of the personnel in Operations and Plans that prepared and reviewed the Division Assignment Lists. One Type 1 Team routinely listed all of the individual units, including Strike Team Leaders and Task Force Leaders, and expected the DIVS to later sit down during the operational period and tediously form Strike Teams and Task Forces, basically rewriting part of the Plan. Hopefully they had enough Leaders to do this. Then the DIVS had to notify all of the units affected by the changed plan. Usually this rewritten plan was not communicated to everyone on the Division or back to the Resources Unit. Accountability of resources was difficult under these circumstances.

If this is done during the first burning period while resources are still arriving or en-route, it's understandable. If it is commonly done in every Incident Action Plan it distracts and puts too much of a work load on the DIVS (as Viejo said) and compromises  safety.

Division Supervisors can and should refuse to accept an assignment if they realize before they even leave the briefing that they have been given an assignment that can't be performed safely. There are ways to mitigate this, as Lobotomy suggested, but it should be incorporated into the plan, rather than shifting the workload over to the DIVS, who has plenty of work to do, without  having to fix a poorly conceived plan.

Incident Commanders, before signing and approving an Incident Action Plan, should ensure that the span of control is appropriate.

I like the slogan on the Associated Air Tanker Pilots web page http://airtanker.com/index.phpl that says: "Fire suppression is not an emergency....it's our job!"

In most cases, if we refuse to accept an unsafe assignment on a wildland fire, life goes on. Brush, trees, grass, and houses grow back. If we DON'T refuse it......life may not go on. WE don't grow back.

Thankfully, life went on for those six people on the Sadler fire. They were treated at a hospital -- two of them for burns, and four for smoke inhalation. I believe all of them were released from the hospital within a day or two. The Type 1 Team that managed the fire was, uh, "fired". Disbanded.

Jackson

Hi Jackson, good to see you here. That slogan is on our quotes page as well, it just has a "hey stupid" added at the beginning. Ab.
10/14 Viejo, this is from the F.I.R.E.S.C.O.P.E. Field Operations Guide (FOG). FIRESCOPE was the predecessor and force behind the ICS and NIIMS systems as I'm sure you are aware.... The job description in the current fireline handbook is quite similar. LFO (Large Fire Organization) has been gone for several decades in most of the United States.

I don’t understand that these are added responsibilities for a Division Supervisor..... I been a qualified DIVS since 1991..... and I've always operated by these guidelines and many other guidelines and policies..... Don't confuse the terms in the LFO with the ICS...

Division Boss (LFO) = Branch Director (ICS)
Sector Boss (LFO) = Division Supervisor (ICS)
Qualified Supervisor (LFO) = Task Force Leader (ICS)

DIVISION/GROUP SUPERVISOR (ICS 222-3) The Division/Group Supervisor
reports to the Operations Section Chief (or Branch Director when activated). The
Supervisor is responsible for the implementation of the assigned portion of the
Incident Action Plan, assignment of resources within the Division/Group, and
reporting on the progress of control operations and status of resources within the
Division/Group.

a. Review Common Responsibilities (page 1-2).
b. Implement Incident Action Plan for Division/Group.
c. Provide Incident Action Plan to Strike Team Leaders, when available.
d. Identify increments assigned to the Division/Group.
e. Review Division/Group assignments and incident activities with
subordinates and assign tasks.

f. Ensure that Incident Communications and/or Resources Unit is
advised of all changes in status of resources assigned to the
Division/Group.
g. Coordinate activities with adjacent Divisions/Groups.
h. Determine need for assistance on assigned tasks.
i. Submit situation and resources status information to Branch Director or
Operations Section Chief.
j. Report hazardous situations, special occurrences, or significant events
(e.g., accidents, sickness) to immediate supervisor.

k. Ensure that assigned personnel and equipment get to and from
assignments in a timely and orderly manner.
l. Resolve logistics problems within the Division/Group.
m. Participate in the development of tactical plans for next operational
period.

n. Maintain Unit/Activity Log (ICS Form 214).

Lobotomy
10/13 We lost the Sector Boss position when we went from Large Fire Organization
to ICS. The reasoning was never satisfactorily explained to me.

The Division Supervisor is the primary functional building block of the
suppression side. It baffles me why we would add to his load by making him
perform organizational functions (the creation of task forces) on the fireline.
He should have that authority, but not be forced to do it because of an
inadequate IAP.

I think the position should be re instated into ICS.

viejo

10/13 Emails I send to myself now show up in my inbox. Someone want to write me? Is anyone still having problems accessing any of the pages?

Ok, I'm getting some test emails. Looks like the problem is cleared up.

Ab.

10/13 Ab, writing as per your request, all the buttons seem to hit pages on my
machine. Seems your server flu is cleared up.
Matt
10/13 Good Morning All,

We're having server and e-mail problems. Trying to get those resolved. Those who have sent e-mails that have been returned, please try again... Stay tuned. Oh, the news page works fine and there are new posts about the Power Fire (Eldorado NF) and the Rumsey Fire (N of Lake Berryessa, Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit) on the Hot List Forum.

Ab.

10/12 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated.
10/12 Re the new ICT3 certs:

MJ, all we know is that they're good until thru 4/30/05 as it stands now. In R5 new firefighters trying for ICT3 will continue to be simulation certified using the process laid out by Blackwell in that letter. Longer term, I'm sure the WO will be balancing recert cost against need. Some very informal discussion I heard tossed around among a couple of upper fire folks suggested maybe every 3 years??

Studebaker said the audio portion of the simulation was complete and would be added. I'm sorry he's retiring, but happy he'll still be helping out in R5. (I'll bet those crews (who deserved it) that he's chewed out thru his years as IC will be happy they can slack. Some of the rest of the ICs will have to take over the chewin' out in Studebaker style!) Love that man!

Mellie

10/12 FOBS73,

I first must say that I agree with almost everything you said, but like always, I have my own take on the situation.

You said, "There is no evidence that under high stress situations people can effectively deal with span-of-control ratios of greater than about 7 or 8 to 1. The ICS systems 5-1 ratio is right on the money."

Under ICS, an experienced Division Supervisor knows how to mitigate the risk of large and overstaffed divisions. An experienced division supervisor will assign Task Force Leaders (TFLD) to make sure they meet the 3-7:1 ratio or assign other supervisors to meet the "intent". This is part of the "Commander's Intent". It was never the purpose of an Incident Action Plan (IAP) to meet or address the preferred 5:1 ratio. The IAP is the "Commanders Intent" through the operational and control objectives. Field level commanders need to recognize it.... fix it.... or deny the assignment.

Here's an example...... (It's not a California example..... It's a Montana example)

Fictional Division B - Nowhere Fire - Someplace National Forest - 2004

Units Assigned: Green Tree Crew #1, Green Tree Crew #2, Green Tree Crew #6, Engine 101, Engine 705, Engine 901, Engine 2164, S/T 6601-C, Dozer 9, Dozer 6, Water Tender 99, Water Tender 101, Water Tender 706, C-Faller Johnson, C-Faller Smith, Felling Boss Goodman, Hotshot Crew #1, Hotshot Crew #2, Hotshot Crew #3, Feller Buncher E-10, Skidgeon E-11, and Skidder E-12........

THAT'S A LOT OF RESOURCES ASSIGNED FOR SUPERVISION..... (6 crews, 4 single resource engines, 1 strike team of engines, two dozers, 3 water tenders, 2 C-fallers, 1 felling boss, 1 feller buncher, 1 skidgeon, and 1 skidder....)

OK... that's a 22:1 ratio thrown at the Division Supervisor.......... As a division supervisor... how would you accept, fix, or deny your task? How would you organize it? Will your decisions meet the "Commanders Intent" and the flexibilities of the ICS system?

Lobotomy
10/12 Dear MJ:

The entire Board of Directors at the FWFSA has recognized over the last year that its communication and flow of information to its members in recent years has been less than desirable. As all of the Board members are front line firefighters and officers, running the Association as a business has been difficult. Hence, their hiring of me as their lobbyist and business manager. I've completed a 24 year career as a firefighter and can devote all my time and resources to lobbying, membership, recruitment etc.

Since taking over membership duties just a few months ago, I have had the daunting task of locating our members during the fire season and either ensuring the information in our database on them is accurate, or changing it. This was the first step in "reconnecting" with the membership. Upon contact, I have sent out membership cards, pins, decals and a legislative update letter. Just a handful of "hard-to-find" members remain.

I would like to think that those who have received their packages are pleased with the product. I know from first hand phone calls how much it means to our members to finally have communication from the Association. In fact, our membership is increasing each week as a result of firefighters seeing the decals, pins, membership cards etc.

Now to politics. You could possibly understand why there is so much voter apathy in this country if you understood the nutty things that go on in Washington DC and learn how things work, or don't work there. Those nutty, weird procedural actions are amplified at the end of each session when members are in a hurry to get back home and get reelected. That amplitude is increased further every four years when a presidential election takes place.

Those that know me know that my "M.O" over the years has been to give those I represent all the facts and details on our issues and the politics involved, whether it be good news or bad. However, much of what is done at the end of a session, the "wheeling & dealing" the back room deals etc., are not for the faint of heart.

I'd love to explain detail by detail, the strategy involved in our bill as outlined by the author, Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), but for obvious reasons, I can only go so far. However, that being said, if any member of the FWFSA wants to contact me directly, I'd be happy to go into a bit further detail. A public forum, even our website, is not suitable for the minutia of "end-of-session" politics.

Here's the best I can offer at this point.

Hearings on the bill (HR 2963-The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act) were originally scheduled for Washington, DC last March before the House Civil Service Subcommittee. Scheduling conflicts precluded that and the Subcommittee chair, JoAnn Davis (R-VA) decided to conduct a "field hearing" on our bill in Flagstaff Arizona. Field hearings are often conducted in districts where a candidate is having trouble with his/her reelection effort.

Unfortunately, the field hearings were scheduled for September. This violated a "quasi" Ethics Committee rule that suggests field hearings not be held within 60 days of an election. Thus, we lost an opportunity to once again place oral testimony into the public record. However, according to Rep. Pombo, sufficient testimony already existed on the issue(s) via previous testimony by myself and former FWSFA president Kent Swartzlander.

As many of you may know via news accounts, congress has not completed its work for this session as the elections draw near. In fact, only one of the 13 "must pass" appropriations bills had been dealt with until recently. Therefore, it is likely that a "lame duck" session of congress will be held in January. This means that current members of congress who are either retiring at the end of this session or are beaten in their election next month, must return to DC to complete the 108th Congress' work.

There also could be one or more "Omnibus" Appropriations bills which contain all remaining "must pass" bills and all sorts of other "pet project" bills...sort of like members of congress throwing all their "wants" into a big bucket knowing its going to get passed and signed into law. Hey let's face it, that's how the FWFSA got the overtime pay cap eliminated in 2000. 

There are literally hundreds of bills that members want passed so that they can tout their accomplishments to their constituents. The process in the House of Representatives has been well underway. The House leadership has already put together a package of bills that it will send to the Senate for action. By and large, most bills are not passed on the floor of the House or Senate. They are tucked away onto other bills as "riders" or "amendments."

The FWSFA is working with key members of the House to ensure our bill is included in the proper place in the package going to the Senate. Thus it is likely that action on our issue may not take place until January. Provisions of the bill would go into affect upon signing by the President.

Sounds like a bunch of political, bureaucratic rhetoric doesn't it? Well, welcome to congressional politics. It ain't pretty most of the time and it can be downright cutthroat and mean, especially when you consider one member of congress can derail a bill that has overwhelming support.

Our bill currently has only about 28 cosponsors with a few more to be added. That's OK. The most unique and eye-opening dynamic of our bill is that although it was authored and introduced by a Republican, the majority of cosponsors are Democrats. Some bills get signed into law with one cosponsor. Others don't get passed even with more than half the members of the House of Representatives on board as cosponsors. Go figure. Its a very weird place indeed.

All we can ask of our federal wildland firefighters at this point is to know that as you work the lines during the remainder of this fire season, you have some very powerful folks on Capitol Hill working for you to ensure you get the benefits you so rightfully deserve.

As for anyone leaving the FWSFA out of lack of communication over the last few months, I'd have to say its doubtful. If you have left, come back...I'll communicate with you for hours and hours until you're sick of hearing me. 

With Great Affection for All of you:

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
10/12 Funny Fire Terms and Nicknames:

I had to add another to your list.

Shake and Bake with Seasoning - The new fire shelters

10/12 Ab(s) it is heartening how helpful some are when a question is asked in this forum. 
sincere thanks to all who have responded to my questions over the years.

be safe y'all,
northzone
10/12 Re: Professional vs. Technician Thread

I retired about 5 years ago and many things have changed since then. I had a two hour discussion with my neighbor, who is a registered Professional Engineer by reason of passing an exam, on the subject of degree vs. experience. He began by making the claim that anyone who gets a college degree, works for the government learns the wrong way (he of course learned the right way), and does not have any idea what they are doing. I've had similar discussions with many, people during my career. Both of the techs I supervised in the last 11 years of work, made similar claims, devaluing a degree. I think this is a poor attitude and many people without degrees often come across this way. I think it gets started when a recent college graduate comes off real arrogant about the "degree" thing. Some without degrees react defensively and some react from age old statements made about people with an formal education by those without one. Example: BS degree, you know what that is, MS degree, more of the same, and PhD, piled higher and deeper. A couple of generations ago, and in some places I've lived while working for the Forest Service, people without a high school degree made fun of those without that "degree". The reaction of my neighbor and many others without a college degree seemed very arrogant too. An arrogant attitude is not productive from either side of this coin and does not improve anything.

The degree ceiling exists in business as well as government. My experience watching businesses in my town is that many are poorly run in regards to human resources and that the training required of all supervisory personnel, tech or otherwise, in the federal government, is far superior to the average businessman in a resort town. I see college as the compression of thousands of hours of training courses like these, compressed into a shorter period. Instead of getting about 40-80 hours of training per year for 40 years, you are able to do this in 2-3, once the freshman prerequisites are satisfied. People can ignore only so much in both the training or in college and having no degree does not exclude one from this.

During my career one could enter the GS-025 Series (Park Ranger) by education and experience. I don't think this is the case now and many people without degrees enter the 025 series. As a forester in California you must pass and exam to become a registered forester, required for "practicing" forestry on all but federal lands as a federal employee.

There are some disadvantages to having a degree. For the most part 0460 begins with people being exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) upon becoming a GS-9. I worked about 3500 hours overtime, non-paid, not compensated, in my career, on normal day to day activities. How the FSLA is being applied to 9 and 11 techs now is something I don't know. For non-exempt positions the agency is required to offer overtime, and can in no way pressure an employee to work comp time instead, they must choose the latter only if they want to. In addition, as a GS-9, step 10, my overtime rate on fires was 1.2 time, not 1.5 time, due to overtime being limited to the rate of a GS-10, step 1. Some many of the very experienced incident command personnel had overtimes rates lower than their base pay. In my brief, seven years as a GS-11, I could "max out", where the biweekly check was limited to an amount equal to that of the highest GS rating's check. The max out was changed by the Congress in 1988 during or shortly after the Yellowstone Fires of 1988, due in part because of the wide spread long fire season of 1987, where a I worked a pay period on the Stanislaus Complex for free for 5 full, 16 hour days. We were given a temporary, not to exceed one time only, pay check for those pay periods we were on fire duty, which changed the next year. It took 9's and 11's relatively few hours to max out, as compared with some GS-7 IHC sup's who had to work a lot of hours to have this happen. Prior to 1985 to 1990, transferring was not a pressure that techs had to face as much. Of course, if they wanted to advance more quickly, techs had to transfer nearly as often. They were not subject to being on registers where the choice of the next transfer may not be your own. I'm speaking of internal agency registers and not the OPM type. For "professionals" a transfer about every 5 years was nearly required. Since moving became more expensive in the mid 80's this has not been as true. Finally, college grads often had to give up other work, to make time for college and in most cases that education did not come without considerable effort and expense. Going to college is not easy and those who limited their income for at least 4 years did not get handed the degree. My graduating class was 58 in size after 75 made it to their junior year, and about 300 were in the freshman class.

It seems to me that the line between "professional and tech" is not that sharp except in the OPM, and even that one seems like it is beginning to blur. It doesn't seem like a black and white issue to me. All professions try to further and improve the work in their fields by requiring training. In R-5 one such attempt is the fire academy. How do fire folks feel about its applications to fire management?

The discussion of this subject has been good, but doesn't offer any solutions. For those who have made comments regarding this subject where they are complaining about the degree thing, what would they suggest government and business do? Some good alternatives suggested would be interesting. I worked on both sides of this issue and have heard valid points made on both sides.

This is not well written or organized, but it is 0340, and I have insomnia.

Retired Forester

Get some rest, Retired Forester. All is good. Ab.
10/12 I was just wondering if anybody in the CDF could tell
me how much money is spent each year in California for
hotel rooms for their crews. It seems if CDF crews
are short of money, equipment and personnel this would
be a place to look at saving money. Why can't their
people sleep on the ground like the Feds have to. 
Just a thought.

PYG 
10/11 Ab,

How long are the ICT3 simulation certifications good for?

And, does anybody know the status of the portal-to-portal bill? The FWFSA site has not been updated since August, and then it said things were happening in the next few weeks. I know folks that have left the FWFSA because the info doesn't get shared in a timely manner, and they get tired of waiting without hearing anything. We support this organization, but they should keep us informed.

-MJ

I heard from Casey last week that FWFSA would like to release some info and were close to having some legislation wrapped up, but they didn't want to jump the gun and post info too soon. Politics is politics. Give Casey a jingle. He's always willing to talk. His phone number and email addy are posted all over the FWFSA website. He's also willing to entertain gripes, so if you have a gripe, email him. Ab.

10/11 Ross, here's the Summary from my notes. Kent did an OUTSTANDING job. Mellie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
R5 ICT3 Simulation Assessment Closeout presented by Kent Swartzlander (10/6/04)

Timeframe

  • 2/17-19 National Train the Trainer
  • 2/27-29 Regional Train the Trainer
  • 3/16-18 Cadre training (80 people)
  • 3/29-4/29 268 Simulations (254 people); 20 people failed the first time, 14 tried again, 12 passed; 95% of feedback was positive
  • 7/8 RO letter lays out the certification process for those being certified after 4/30/04 and takes R5 thru 4/30/05

The simulations took 45-55 minutes followed by a 10 min meeting between student and IC to clean up notes, etc while the instructor and the tester talked and arrived at the score. The After Action Review was valuable for everyone and some lasted for up to an hour.

19 Performance Measures (elements) were tested in 6 Focus Areas (IC Studebaker who helped create it said it was a huge "enchellata": the simulations were difficult to put together as most simulations contain only 1 to 2 objectives. In this one there were MANY and they just kept on coming.)

In R5 the majority of people taking the certification had 20 years in fire and were rated Ops 2 or higher.

National stats

  • 1068 total were certified as ICT3
  • R5 had 25% of all ICT3s (254)
  • R1 & R6 each had 18%

Simulation or Sandtable as the mode of testing

  • R1 & R5 used only the simulation
  • R6 75% of firefighters used the simulation, 25% the sandtable
  • R10 50% simulation (2 of the 4 firefighters tested)
  • R2, R3, R4, R8, R9 used only the sandtable

Kent did an analysis of common mistakes to focus on to improve training in the future.

  • Def of "common mistakes": Those performance measures on which 10 students or more (of 254) performed inadequately, ie 2% of the CA total. (Mellie comment: This is a very rigorous criterion in my experience in testing but is logical in looking for lessons to learn regarding training, people's thought processes, and ways to streamline systemic processes, eg complexity analysis.)
  • In order of highest frequency of poor scores first:
    Performance Measures (PM) 1-1; 3-1; 4-3; 3-2 and 3-3; 5-2; 1-4; 4-2; 5-3; 1-3.
  • There were more specific details and recommendations associated with each PM that were interesting and excellent lessons learned. (Mellie comment: If you'd like to know more, Old Fire Guy, Ross or others, send an email and I'll try to get the info.)

Characteristics of firefighters who chose to not recertify in R5:

  • Retiring soon
  • Reactionary response to Cramer
  • Didn't want the time pressure of the simulation

How many ICT3s did we loose nationally?

  • 10-15% (some of these were due to inaccuracies in the Redcard database which doesn't keep track of retirements).
  • A more accurate stat of ICT3 attrition is that 5-10% of the existing ICT3s prior to February chose not to complete the new requirement.
  • We need this skill level requirement for BCs at a minimum (Mellie comment: Didn't clarify why in my notes)
  • Nationally and in R5 there was a less than 2% failure rate which says good things about our pre-existing ICT3 training process.

Ross asked, "Was the new certification process worth it?"
Preparing the simulation and running the certification cost a lot of money and it took a lot of time on many people's part to pull it off. Participants said it was a great refresher, great exercise. This closeout analysis points to the elements we need to focus on in future training.

Where do we go from here?
For R5 there's a letter from the Regional Forester that lays out the cert process through 4/30/05. The Regional Forester states  the intent,  "Region 5 would like to take every opportunity to retain or add qualified ICT3s into the qualifications system for availability. We will continue to implement the ICT3 certification process."  The steps are laid out in the letter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mellie PS. The benefit I see in the simulation process is the opportunity to respond to information - at some point clearly too much information - and to see how your mind works, where your weaknesses or watchouts might occur, where to direct strengthening your own individual training, beyond that what the cert requires. In a sense it's an opportunity to strengthen and practice your own situational awareness at a manager's level in an individual way. The brain can only process 5 to 7 bits of information from short term memory into long term memory when conditions are optimal. That's why span of control is put at about 5:1. Add in sleep deprivation or an incident within an incident and performance declines. Standardization across forests of the home unit incident organizer, use of the IRPG for reference in briefings etc can help minimize buildup of cognitive load. But the greatest benefit I see in the cert process is the glimpse managers get of their own thought processes and how they can increase their own management situational awareness... Human Factors are paramount in maintaining safety at ALL levels of fighting wildland fire.

10/11 Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
offers a Associates degree in Fire science.

Sincerely,
Kevin R

Hi Kevin, I added it to the list of 2 and 4 year Schools. Thanks, Ab.

10/11 From KA

Idle wildfire crews help out in hurricane's wake

10/11 Green Blooded;

I’m glad to hear that you’re actively studying your profession. The way I read your initial post, you reminded me of a number of high-ranking fire types I’ve met who insist that they’ve been doing their jobs so long that they don’t need to study fire anymore, and there aren’t any classes out there that could possibly make them better fire managers or leaders. I’m glad to hear that isn’t the case. It’s particularly frustrating for me, as a grunt, to personally seek out training, come back feeling like I learned some good things, try to bring them home to my unit and be told to sit down, shuddup, be a good grunt and don’t try to educate my seniors because they already know it all. Fire is a tremendously dynamic field; to stop learning is to risk yourself and others in a catastrophically arrogant way.

Nerd on the Firleine
10/11 northzone

Yes there are Forest Service Firefighters on the Firefighters Memorial at Capitol Park. I was there this summer and I recommend you or anyone else for that matter go see it. It is quite moving. I don't remember If the other Fed agencies were represented. Excuse the ignorance but they may not have suffered any fatalities in the state. The one thing that was interesting was how many USFS and CDF firefighters have fallen in our state.

Forester

PS Sorry all. I guess I should have read the rest of the posts before I responded. I did not read the post for Daniel Holms. I assume that he will be added and so will the NPS. My condolences.

10/11 Finally Congressman Wally Herger, has become the 28th
cosponsor of H.R. 2963. I hope my endless emails
helped. For more info on how to contact your
Congressman goto www.fwfsa.org/contact.phpl

Lets hope it's finally going to pass......

SRJS
10/10 I read the article at the link from Pat H on 10/7. It was an interesting piece. Now comes the problem.

From the article :
Linda Chase, director of a relief center assisting fire victims, said that Martinez can't be held solely accountable for the devastating fire.

"You can certainly blame him for starting the fire, but you can't blame him for not putting it out," Chase said. "There were lots of other people who failed to do what they needed to do to cause it to go out of control."

The highlights are mine to bring attention to the part in question.

Now I don't know what exactly was being referred to but i have some ideas. I want some feedback on this please.

Twilight

Hmmm, I just interpreted that closing quote as an out-of-context comment picked up by an irresponsible journalist stirring the pot, otherwise he would have clarified it. Alternatively, maybe he is not skilled enough to do a more complete job? Reached AP's word limit? Could it be a lead in for his next piece? Ab.

10/10 Workin' on photos... Whomever sent in the pics of the burned down Cleveland Radio Shop, I need more info and your return addy doesn't work. Please email me some details. Ab.
10/10 Hi Ross,

I heard a verbal report from Kent S that I'll try to summarize tomorrow.

Mellie

10/10 Anyone know if there was some kind of lessons learned coming out of the ICT3
certification process. Everything I heard was good. Was it? Our region used sand
tables. There was talk on theysaid  about simulations (R5). Was one better
than the other? Limitations on either? Anyone have any idea when recertification
will happen again? Was it a one-time thing? It must have cost a lot, was it worth it?

Ross
10/10 Operating via Commander's Intent in wildland firefighting requires that those being
"empowered by the intent statement" at the level below are adequately trained in Fire
Behavior to know how to accomplish the mission successfully. Are people trained?

Tahoe Terrie

10/10 Ab,

Here's a letter I received in an email from a former hotshot supt. I have heard of this letter. It has been the topic of discussion in CA fire circles - and a little on theysaid (BB et al) - because of the SoCal fires last fall. I sent in a link to the military article on "Commander's Intent" and mentioned that the Battle of Gettysburg was won because the leader imparted Commander's Intent rather than issuing hard and fast tactical directions (or checklists).  I had not seen the letter itself nor the report that came out of the SoCal group that met to address these issues. I think the issues are critical for groundpounders and for management. (see attachment: letter on Changing Doctrine - Safe Operating Practices)

Mellie
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

USDA Forest Service
National Fire Operations Safety
Information Briefing Paper
Date:   June 1, 2004
 
Topic:     Agency Mission, Intent Expressed in Policy, Public and Management Expectations, and the Reality of Fire Suppression Management on the Ground.

Background:     An outcome of the South Canyon and Thirtymile fire tragedies has  been the promulgation of prescriptive policies intended to address shortcomings in fireline decision-making, leadership, and fire operations oversight.  The unintended consequence of these policies, as expressed by incident management and fire operations personnel, is the creation of an untenable disparity between agency and public expectations, expressions of “acceptable risk”, and the realities of fire operations necessary to meet incident-specific issues.  Nowhere was this more evident than during the Southern California fire siege, November 2003.  Following are key points of discussion resulting from a “Safety Protocol Review” of the Old and Cedar fires, and may be understood as applicable across the wildland fire management spectrum in the United States today.

Key Points:

  • Having to focus on meeting the letter of prescriptive policy rather than a clearly stated intent creates a distraction, palpable tension, and excessive workload for incident managers.  Firefighters and fireline supervisors are expected to exercise initiative and to perform according to the fundamentals of safe operating practices, but the myriad of check-lists, protocols, and prescriptive policies are interfering with their situational awareness, command effectiveness, are confusing, and take away from focusing on meeting the challenges at hand.
  • In order to accomplish the mission, meet agency and public expectations, and provide for safe and effective suppression operations, conscious decisions are having to be made by incident managers to violate policies even though there is close attention being consistently paid to implementing their intent.  Incident managers are feeling vulnerable and unsupported by agency leadership.
  • Firefighters do not knowingly "break" or "bend" the Standard Fire Orders, nor do they ignore mitigation of the 18 Watchout Situations.  In every case we examined they were focused intently on these core values.  However, we have created an environment where deviation from the letter of policy is described as lack of adherence or a violation of firefighting fundamentals.  It is simply not true.
  • Adherence to or deviation from prescriptive policy is the current measure against which actions are evaluated when something goes wrong.  While easier for management (and OSHA) to "evaluate" performance or define "quality" or assign a "violation" in this way, it is not effective in measuring true performance or effectiveness, or deviation from principles of safe and effective firefighting.  It is in fact counterproductive, as prescriptive policy begets more prescriptive policy.  We have seen the phenomenon and are laded with its burden.

Conclusions:     The organization is by and large behaving and operating in a safe manner, and is generally effective in meeting agency and public expectations. Prescriptive policies are forcing fire leadership to take the risk of violating them in order to complete the mission and meet agency expectations. Further, these policies divert critical attention and energy from accomplishing incident objectives in a safe and efficient manner.  The disconnect is between agency expectations and the expression of those expectations through  prescriptive policies, policies which are used as a measure of  performance when an undesirable consequence occurs.  To improve firefighter safety and performance, and to ensure continual reduction in firefighter accidents and injuries we need to implement and rely on a doctrine founded on three critical components:

  1. Leadership, through policy, must express operational intent which defines acceptable risk and the decision-space available to the field commander and fireline supervisor to meet it.  We must improve the ability of leadership to construct and promulgate clear intent, and resist the tendency to do so in a manner so finite as to constrain creative initiative in the field.
  2. The reality on the ground requires fireline leadership to exercise initiative in meeting agency and public expectations within the confines of a broad, yet sufficiently specific and focused intent relating to performance expectations and firefighter safety, and that the individual recognizes and accepts responsibility for his/her own safety and performance.  We must improve the ability of leadership to expect and require those closest to the point of friction to exercise prudent initiative in meeting that intent.
  3. Fireline leadership must understand and accept their responsibility to exercise concentric *  initiative to accomplish that intent.  The willingness and ability of lower-level leadership to do so in a concentric *  manner is the true measure of the quality of operational safety and performance.

    *  Concentricity describes those actions that reflect the core values of the organization.  Fireline leadership decisions that disregard the requirement to manage firefighter fatigue in favor of sustained operations would not be deemed concentric.  However, if work-rest ratios and duty-day limitations are "violated" yet fatigue countermeasures have been designed, are in place, and are functioning as designed in view of the mission at hand, concentricity is achieved.

Finally:  The agency must create an environment in which prudent initiative, concentric with "commanders intent" regarding safe and effective operational practices is not only expected, it is required.  This is not a comfortable doctrine, it is in fact counter to "normal" bureaucratic thinking.  It is not an easy doctrine to simply "create"; it will require a retooling of our skills-based and human performance training, a change in managerial principles, and an evolution in the definitions of success and failure.  But it is a doctrine that, when fully implemented, better responds to the high-risk / high-consequence mission, improves the focus and attention of fireline leadership, results in higher performing and safer firefighters willing to be accountable for their decisions and actions, and allows the agency to reclaim its responsibility and authority to perform its mission.

Contact:  Ed Hollenshead, ehollenshead@fs.fed.us

(Note: Ed Hollenshead is the National Fire Operations Safety Program Manager)

10/10 Hello, I'm not a government employee, but I'd like to get some training
on the new narrow band radios. I was hoping someone might be able
to point me in the right direction.

Thanks.
-Kilo Bravo-
10/9 AB just wanted to share this from the SACRAMENTO BEE
SAN DIEGO CEDAR FIRE INDICTMENT

Grand jury indicts hunter who allegedly started San Diego wildfire
www.sacbee.com

Pat H
10/8 Nerd, Tisk, Tisk, Tisk

"knee-jerk reaction"? Interesting, I've only been
thinking about this for the last couple years, trying
to decide what my future would be with the agency and
what would would keep me looking foreword to coming to
work everyday. Knee-jerk I think not. "assimilate and
apply diverse information" you may need to read my
note again, because I am for education and I said I
hope this is a step in the right direction. Practice
looking at the whole picture and take it all in before
focusing on one part of the statement. Heck I didn't
even learn that in college. I am for the education of
the up and coming. I teach myself from basic local
fire classes up to national level. I am going to
school myself but not for a degree. Specific classes
that will help me. Business classes, computer classes,
etc, etc. Nerd, if I was a little sarcastic, my
apologies. It's good to have young grunts that are not
afraid to speak up. But don't be so quick to judge
especially when you don't know the person you're
judging. Good luck in your future and stay safe.

Green Blooded Student of Fire

10/8 Ab and Aberdeen, Sorry for the delay, I have been tied up with my classes for the last few weeks.
Reference the overloaded divisions. I used that as one example of why we will probably see a large increase in the number of overhead positions assigned to fires, not the "steady state" system that is indicated in the NIMO report. There is no need to pass this type of information along, as everyone who works with teams fully understands the problem. But, you did spark my interest. The IAP's that I have been using in class for the last few years are all from the 2001 and 2002 fire seasons. So I took a look at some others (I have two 12 gallon boxes full of old IAP's). For those 2001-2002 IAP's the largest divisions on a state fire had a 35-1 span-of-control ratio. The largest division on a federal fire had a 21-1 span-of-control ratio. I had never really noticed it before, but as a general rule the state fires appear to have larger divisions than the fed fires. I did notice something really interesting. While every IAP that I looked at did have some divisions within the 7-1 ratio, every single IAP had at least one grossly overloaded division. This years IAP's seem to indicate the same. The most recent one I have (last month) indicates the following. Division A 15-1, Division B 20-1, Division C 18-1, Division D 16-1, Division E 10-1, Divisions M-N-Z all have 7-1 and Division Y had a 16-1 span-of-control ratio.
Reference span-of-control, is it possible for a Division Supervisor to manage more than seven units? You bet. Limited fire activity, flat terrain, simple assignment, etc. But, that's not why the FIRESCOPE committee limited span-of-control to 7-1. Span-of-control is based on what MIGHT happen and a leaders ability to control and direct units under high stress situations. If the case ever goes to trial, this will be a pivotal issue in the insurance industry lawsuit facing San Diego County and the State of California (for the 2003 fires). There is no evidence that under high stress situations people can effectively deal with span-of-control ratios of greater than about 7 or 8 to 1. The ICS systems 5-1 ratio is right on the money.
I go back to one of my comments in the original post. In the future more and more Division Supervisors will simply not take on overloaded divisions. With the increase in litigation, agency trends to hold overhead personnel personally accountable, detailed accident investigations, the "new" emphasis on safety, combined with the excellent work being done that is directed at leadership, I see no other option. And, if you have to use more divisions, many of your other overhead requirements go up. If I am correct (time will tell), that first assumption under Chapter Two (draft six) in the NIMO report is flawed. If it is flawed, all of the other training / staffing targets will fall short of needs. So, I am still trying to find someone who can tell me how that assumption in draft six was developed.

Thanks,
 FOBS73
10/8 Northzone,

In looking at the names on the monument I know the fallen from the Stanza
Fire are up there and there are other federal folks. I'm relatively new to
fire (few years) so I don't know if they have them all. I do know that
California Professional Firefighters has been doing a stand-up job trying
to represent ALL firefighters regardless of where they fell. Here is a link
to the list by department (there also is a link by year).

http://www.cpf.org/downloads/ByDept.pdf

CPF states, "The centerpiece of the California Firefighters Memorial is the
Memorial Wall. Our objective is to include the name of every firefighter
who died in the line of duty in California since California became a state
in 1850." Check out CPF's website for the process and criteria if you see
anyone missing. I'm not a member of CPF but I must give them kudos for the
job they are doing.


California Firefighters Memorial Information

BLMgirl
10/8 (Thoughtfully) I’ve never seen an analysis, but it seems that the last several years,
the vast majority of fatalities have happened at the end of the season. Has anyone
run the numbers? What’s causing this? Fatigue? Time since refresher training?
Complacency? Regional factors? More interface fires at the end of the season?
If there is a real pattern, what can we do about it?

Nerd on the Fireline

I don't know about seasonal patterns, but I do know in R5 that we've entered the season of lightning fires and Santa Anas, a volatile mix. The message the R5 Chief is putting out there is that it's not over yet, stay vigilant, work on maintaining the basics. Toward the end of a slow season adhering to a PT regimen can decline. Folks are being encouraged to stay with it. Ab.
10/8 Thanks to all for the info shared at the Academy meeting... and for the party. Welcome back to
R5, Judith! Very nice to meet you, Dan Kleinman, Ron Bollier, and Tony Osa. Hope I spelled
your names right. I'm gonna hop right on the reading assignments you gave me. Thanks for the
Lassen NF croakie, Tom Cable. I've felt like I lost my glasses at least a dozen times, only to
find them hanging around my neck! Don Studebaker, thanks for your service. Best wishes for
your upcoming retirement.

Mellie
10/8 Bob Hardknocks, NV Jim, and FireNWater:
many of us readers appreciate your words of wisdom & experience; hopefully they will provide a bit of insight to all - especially the impatient and those who are frustrated with chances for upward mobility in their chosen profession.

BLM Girl, re. Firefighters Memorial in Capitol Park (Sacramento, CA):
is there any substantial consideration afoot to add/include the names of Fed FFs who fell on CA fires saving our forests and real estate? or, have their names already been included? (I haven't been to it, yet)

Wildland Firefighter Foundation,
thank you and those who initiated the WFF Club 52; kudos to all who participate in this much needed program.

be safe y'all!
northzone
10/7 Today I watched as the funeral for Daniel Holmes walked down the main street in Rochester NH.
I do not know anyone from his family but I cried as the put him on the firetruck. I cried for him, the
family, and his friends. The men and one women all looked so sad as his mother held her head high
as they walked down the street behind the truck.

So I wanted to say I am truely sorry and also to say thank you, All of you who give to us every day.

Thank you
and God bless

You will always be remembered.
Love Michelle

Thanks, Michelle. Many of us in CA today thought of him, too. Ab.

10/7 Two from the wildland community will be honored this Saturday in Sacramento
at the Firefighters Memorial in Capitol Park. Steve Rucker and Eva Schicke
are among the 13 names that have been added from 2003, 2004. The California
Professional Firefighters website has the details on the event being held
October 9, 2004 in the morning: procession staging at 10:30 (for those who
RSVP and are in uniform) and memorial ceremony at 11:30. There also is a
private breakfast for the families earlier.

www.cpf.org

Let's show our respect,
BLMgirl
10/7 AB just wanted to share this from the SACRAMENTO BEE

Grand jury indicts hunter who allegedly started San Diego wildfire
www.sacbee.com

Pat H
10/7 Nerd on the Fireline offered up some interesting points regarding the issue of education vs. shovelcraft within the wildland fire profession. Being a 401 dude myself, I can appreciate the power of knowledge which an education affords. However without the experience, book knowledge is nothing more than a fancy certificate on the wall. While I understand that FMOs and the like need to do more than grunt and whistle, they also need to have the depth of experience to pass on the art of fire management to the pups. A well rounded firefighter will understand the finer points of managing people and politics. An education does not ensure that a manager will not be a pinhead. Knowledge and self improvement will always be a good combination to live by. The ability to manage from one's heart and soul, while lifting up those you lead is something that takes time. While education can broaden one's horizons and ultimately their paycheck, the primary degree required in the fire management profession is the passion to serve others. 

Bob Hardknocks, FMO
(GS-462-2 to GS-401-11 in 27 years).
10/7 Hi,

I'm part of the fire community, although my days swinging a McCloud on the fireline were in the past. I'm now in Communications. I'm the guy who issues you a radio, sets the repeaters, builds the 205 (comm plan), and fixes the radios when they break. I'm also the guy who tries to train you on how to use the radio, tries to provide you with the best communications possible, and tries to comply with the orders from above.

The new radios that are being issued are GOOD radios. When they are properly programmed, with the current updates, and the current accessories, they are far superior to the old LPH and EPH Kings. The key word in the last sentence is "CURRENT". Yes, these radios had some real problems when they first came out, BUT SO DID THE KINGS WHEN THEY FIRST CAME OUT IN THE MID-80s. The manufactures have been really supportive in trying to make the radios work for us. For example, Bob Didianto of Thales has been at several incidents acting as a COMT to help us with the Racals.

Narrowbanding is the LAW. After January 1, 2005 anyone transmitting on a Federal Government frequency (162-174 MHz) must use narrowband modulation. All King LPH radios and a lot of the EPH radios cannot transmit in this mode. Those radios cannot be used on Federal fires. They need to be replaced.

If your new radio has not been upgraded to the latest firmware, programming and accessories, see you local tech and get it fixed, but DON'T WRITE FLAMES ABOUT IT.... If you don't know how to use it, ask for training -- it is available, but DON'T WRITE FLAMES ABOUT IT. If you are having problems with your radio, talk with your local tech and take it up the line in the tech community, but DON'T WRITE FLAMES ABOUT IT UNTIL YOU HAVE REACHED A DEAD END.

Everybody hates change, but it is interesting that the new BLUE fire shelters haven't received a bad word despite the fact that they are much larger and heavier than the units that have saved hundreds of lives over the years. Let's learn to live with change.

NV Jim
10/6 Abs,
I just wanted to let you know that the Arrowhead Hotshots arrived in New Hampshire safe and sound. They were greeted with a bus ride to their hotel which is 20 minutes away from Dan's mom. Dan Holmes viewing will be at 6 pm tonight and the funeral is at 10 am tomorrow. The local flower shop is Studleys 1-800-356-4383. They will take care of delivery to the services.

We were honored to help the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in putting together travel for 29 people from Fresno to New Hampshire - with just hours to spare - United Airlines' staff helped us get all of Danny's crew on a flight back East for just under $258 per person, round trip. A BIG thanks to United Airlines. We were originally asked if we could pick up the cost for the reception, but the local fire dept wanted to take that expense. Their local fire and police departments are receiving the wildland firefighting hotshot crew with all the dignity they deserve. I also know that Mike Beckett, superintendent of the El Dorado HS & Stan Stewart, superintendent of the Los Padres HS, have been with the Arrowhead Hot Shots, helping them through this ordeal. Many thanks to those who are helping behind the scenes and especially to the National Park Service folks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I just received this from the family liaison.

A time to celebrate the life of someone with a purpose

The short life of Danny Holmes serves as a guidepost for us all

The dangers faced by the men and women in the front lines of public safety was brought home again Saturday with the loss of one of the Seacoast’s own a continent away.

Daniel Holmes spent most of his life in Rochester, graduating from Spaulding High School. Saturday that life was lost.

Danny Holmes lost his life fighting a fire at Kings Canyon National Park in northern California, struck by the burning top of a dead 100-foot tree that fell while firefighters were conducting a controlled burn. He died while being transported to a helicopter landing zone in the park.

Danny Holmes was doing the work he loved — work that allowed him to contribute to the preservation of the environment. First a ranger with the National Park Service, he was part of an elite group of firefighters trained to go anywhere in the country to combat forest fires. He was only 26 years old when he died Saturday, but he set out and achieved an ideal, a challenge too few of us are willing to confront as we go through life. He was an "adventurer," his mother, Delina "Dee" Burke said of him.

Thursday, Danny Holmes will be mourned in Rochester. Firefighters from across the country will come to the Lilac City to honor one of their own — one of a special breed of people who put themselves on the line every day in defense of lives, property and our environment.

There are people who walk among us who go unnoticed as they perform their routine duties each day — invisible heroes we take for granted as members of our communities. We only see them when we, our properties or our surroundings are placed at risk. But they are always there for us —trained and prepared to come to our aid.

A loss of life is almost always a tragedy for someone — loved ones, friends, neighbors. The loss of someone like Danny Holmes is something that makes each of us poorer. The people who knew him are especially poor for the loss.

Danny Holmes was part of a special kinship — a kinship of men and women who have answered a call within themselves; a kinship few can understand because few are members of this unique class.

Danny Holmes had a passion for the environment — an enthusiasm for all that is natural. The woods he hiked and the mountains he climbed were his world. His ardor for the environment led him to something more than a vocation; it led him to a purpose in life. He earned his degree in environmental services at Johnson State College in Johnson, Vt. in 2002.

"Danny loved the environment and keeping our environment safe and beautiful," his mother said. It was a love of the environment that led him to become involved in outdoor safety, and eventually to becoming a ranger, she said.

Danny Holmes has come home. Thursday, he will be mourned by his family, friends and other loved ones — by neighbors and comrades from near and far. But as the mourning takes place, let’s also think in terms of Danny’s life — a life with purpose; a life worthy of being celebrated; a life from which each of us can learn something.

Vicki Minor
Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
208-336-2996

10/6 On the 401 series thread:

I think most fire folks recognize the advantages an educated person has in
the TODAY fire service. I can't tell you how many fire managers have moved
up through the old days and are great firefighters but can't spell or
write. The 401 series standards BLM Bob is insisting on are aimed towards
resource management of the type that line officers are required to have.
One of his posts mentions his knowledge of "plenty of clueless fire
managers" to prove his point. Well if a resource management degree was the
answer to curing "clueless" it would already be a perfect agency since line
officers mostly come from a resource management education background.
Now before any line officers get too insulted, I am aware that many of them
also use that resource management degree to keep our federal agencies
afloat in a climate of politics and reaction, doing their best to keep our
focus on managing the lands our country has been gifted with. I am
completely grateful that they are here doing that very job. But the more
important point of Lobotomy's posts has been that the education component
of those "standards" mentioned by BLM Bob should be TOTALLY integrated with
what FIRE managers do. A tie to resource management is only a part of the
picture, not the main part.

The best way to identify those standards is through a new series classified
for the TOTAL fire management program.....not to continue to try to fit a
square peg into the round hole of the 401 series.

FireNWater

PS to BLM Bob: I really don't think Lobotomy's use of CAPS was a personal
slam to you. He is just passionate about this subject and wanted to
emphasise his point. Actually I suspect you both are probably more on the
same page than you think.
10/6 Regarding the education issue:

I think BLM Bob made a very good point about how education combined with experience makes the best fire managers. The knee-jerk reaction (Green Blooded?) of “no degree is going to make me a better manager” is short-sighted and reactionary. I’m just a grunt, but I’ve been flabbergasted at the number of times in my two years of all-risk response that strange bits of my education came in handy (Japanese? Experimental mineralogy? Microeconomics?). I think the best fire managers (and definitely best all-risk personnel) are the best synthesists…the people who can best assimilate and apply diverse information and diverse sources of knowledge. A college degree doesn’t say jack about what you know; it says a few things about how you can learn. A degree means (theoretically) that you can complete complex, multi-phase tasks, express yourself clearly, and assimilate and apply information. I would argue that these skills are very, very necessary to a fire manager. I’m not saying a degree is the only way to get them, but it’s a good way to prove them.

Nerd on the Fireline
10/6 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages were updated. Ab.
10/5 EMT_MB

The WFF has been working towards becoming part of the Combined Federal
Campaign. To my knowledge, it has not come to fruition yet. We have a board
meeting next week. We should get a report on the status of that effort. The
Federal Campaign, and other ideas, are in the works. These efforts will make
it easier for firefighters, and anyone else, to contribute to the
foundation.

If anyone from the community has any ideas, suggestions or critiques for the
Foundation that they would like to have brought before the board, please
drop me an email. We are here to serve the Wildland Fire community and
welcome your input.

Jim Felix
Board Member
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
10/5 I think the 401 series will stop some good people from advancing. But I do agree we need some change and this I hope is a step in the right direction. I think I've topped out because I have no want to go get a degree or do TFM. I worked my way up through the ranks from Hotshot Grunt to being a BC. I love my career and have received many compliments on my work over the years. But a degree isn't going to make me a better manager.

If you look at it realistically by the time you've reached the BC and for sure the Division level you better understand business and human resource management. You spend all day working on budget, dealing with personnel issues, reading spreadsheets, interpreting policy or the lack of, hiring, firing, dealing with training and qualifications issues, meetings with the Chiefs, meeting with the public, etc. You can only pray for a fire to get you out of the office and into the field, but you know those dam* fire captains will get on scene and have the fire knocked down before you get a chance to switch your siren on. Not sure if I made my point or not, short and sweet I don't think there is any one degree that will help to make a good fire manager, so I will be content to do what I can in the position I'm in until it's time for me to move on.

Sign me, Green Blooded and Happy.
PS what the heck happened to the fire season in Ca.?
10/5 Lobotomy:

I didn't miss your point about a wildland firefighter series, I just addressed your question about the IFPM and how a 401 series contributes (or not) to safety. I tried to say that it's just part of the overall effort to address shortcomings in fire management, which includes safety. I don't see anything I wrote as knocking a wildland firefighter series.

And I don't see the 401 series as a "fix" - no one thing is a fix. But I support a strong biological/forestry/ecological background for fire managers for the reasons I outlined. That, plus fire experience. I'm sure that there are people like yourself that may be able to do the job without a degree or specific formal education - just like some people can defend themselves in court or figure out legal issues without a law degree - but I've seen too many clueless fire managers in place to think that we don't need some standards. I'm open to discussion about widening the standards, but having a forestry/biological/ecological education is a pretty good place to start, for the reasons I stated. The other educations you discussed might be helpful, but I think 401-type education seems basic to a good part of the established duties of fire managers - and that opinion is supported by my experience as outlined below.

And you can quit the caps-on shouting at me about how much firefighters know - I just completed my 31st fire season, all in fire positions, except for one season in the 70s as a temp where I was on a timber-marking crew. I've been on hotshots, helishots, helitack, and engines as well as in dispatch and air attack and lots of other things. As I wrote, I know it's tough on firefighters that don't have the 401 quals, but I provided one alternative and there are others - I managed to get a forestry degree while fighting fire every season. Your cynical dismissal of TFM doesn't provide much factual information - it just seems to support my feeeling that you're grinding an axe.

And to BB:

Degrees (and TFM) don't prepare people for fire ground problems, but they prepare people for fire planning and Rx fire problems. But the education requirement is just part of the IFPM - experience and fire training are other parts.

People without degrees can be in a good position - maybe the best - to prevent tragedies. Crew bosses, ICs, DIVS, and fire operations specialists are probably the key positions to prevent fireline deaths, and none of those positions require 401 quals.

I firmly agree that "Book learning' aint worth doodoo with out experience" which is why I'm glad the IFPM includes those experience requirements. I just think that a natural resources education will, all other things being equal, make a person a better fire manager.

To all, I can't do much about snobbery/disrespect from agency "professionals" towards firefighters - even with my forestry degree I get some of that - but I think having standards is one way to cut that off at the knees.

BLM Bob
10/5 I need to express my deepest sympathies to the Holmes family, the Arrowhead
Hotshots and the staff at Sequoia-Kings Canyon Nat. Park. I can never hope
to ease your pain or sooth your souls through mere words, but, alas words
are all I have to offer. I suppose only time and fond memories will quell
the grief. Remember your son, your brother, your friend, your crewmate for
the fine man he was, doing what he loved. I never met Daniel, but I'll not
soon forget his picture - strong, happy, in his element. Why the Fates
choose to take the good people so early I'll never understand. But I can
encourage you all to stand strong like Daniel, continue your good work
knowing that wildland firefighters everywhere are with you, now and every
day.

Bruce Lodge FC
Columbia Helitack
10/5 Can anyone tell me if the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is part of the
Combined Federal Campaign? If I'm going to donate part of every paycheck
to something, I want it to go somewhere that I know.

Heaven forbid the WFF may need to be there for my wife and son someday.

Arrowhead IHC, your Midwest NPS firefighter brothers and sisters are
thinking of you. Be strong.

EMT_MB
10/5 Please write in your thoughts and prayers to the Arrowhead IHC Guestbook.
You can access it to read and contribute via the web link below GL's post.
The link to the Guestbook is on the righthand side.

Tahoe Terrie

10/5 My thoughts and prayers go out to Dan's family. He lives in our hearts. To all my fellow sisters
and brothers especially the Arrowhead IHC, our thoughts are with you.

TP

10/5 FYI. Arrangements for Daniel Holmes and a short writeup are in today's NPS "The Morning Report".

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
Passing of Arrowhead Hotshot Firefighter Dan Holmes

GL

Also: www.arrowheadhotshots.org

10/5 Good post Bone,

The irony is that many of the 'professional' managers are relying on 'technicians' like me to design fuels projects to manage the forest. I am just a knuckle dragging firefighter converted to a fuels manager after 20 years of fighting fire. The biologists, botanists and even the Rangers around my neck of the woods do not attempt, nor have the skills to design projects that both protect communities (both human and wildlife) and help to restore the ecosystem to it's natural fire dependant regime.

They also rely on myself and many others like me to respond to the wildfires to protect above resources and do, at times, praise us for our ability to do so. However, when they do not agree with our proposals to restore the ecosystems, protect communities and resources, they point to our lack of 'good science'. We are not 'published' so our 20 or 30 years of experience in fire, fire behavior, and even fire effects is discounted as anecdotal and not worthy of consideration.

This may appear to be off the subject, but I maintain that it is not, and Jack Blackwell and Q would be wise to understand the connection. I believe that most/many of us are professional fire managers and many straddle the line between suppression, fuels and resource management. This applies to everyone from the 'stick stacker' in the off season, to the fuels planners.
 

BLM Bob, you said

It's a changing world, and people (and programs) have to evolve. Unless FMOs have fire experience and understand the ecology and biology of fire, they can't run a safe program IMO. I know it's tough for the people that have lots of fire experience but lack the education requirements, but we need FMOs that are both experienced and educated. And for what it's worth, check out the Technical Fire Management Program (TFM) - it was designed to help working firefighters (462/455 series) qualify for the 401 series: www.washingtoninstitute.net/

The TFM program does little to prepare folks for real world fire ground problems (at least in my neck of the woods). The 401 series is not a panacea (on that point we seem to agree). What it does is discourage some very experienced fire folks from positions in which they would do some real good in preventing some of the recent fatalities.

I qualify for the 401 series due to a degree, but I still disagree with the concept and the message it sends! Book learning' aint worth doodoo with out experience!

BB

10/5 BLM Bob, thanks for your view. You seem to have missed the point of my opening statement though....

I stated ".. I like the idea of professional wildland firefighters and fire managers...... I really like the idea that wildland fire management should have its own series...... and its own education and experience requirements. I'm not a biologist... or a forester... or a natural resources professional..... I'm a wildland firefighter and a wildland fire manager."

BLM Bob, your view seems to be that the 0401 series is the "fix". I honor your opinion, but have to disagree on some your rationale. The Fire Program Management Standards are a good thing, they just SHOULD have been carried forward with the push for a new and complete series..... bottom to top, not the stop-gap 0401 series. The 0401 series could never (and should never have been expected to) support the positive educational requirements of the wildland fire program or recognize the internal training and experience that the Land Management Agencies give to Wildland Firefighters throughout their careers.

I whole heartedly disagree with your statement that you have to have education specifically in biology, agriculture, natural resources management, or forestry to be safe or productive fire manager.... How about education in fire services management, fire administration, public administration, safety management, or any of the other related disciplines that make firefighters safer? ... How about political science? we never want politics to drive firefighter safety and want fire managers capable of representing the profession before our diverse Congressional stakeholders?

Here's my point...... I have experience in the latter disciplines, I am a mid-level Fire Manager and Prescribed Fire Manager. I have developed and presented many projects and served as an ID team leader on several others. I recently proposed and developed a $3 million dollar plus community wildfire protection project. It cleared the left side and right side of NEPA process in record time with no complaints, no appeals, and no legal challenges. I have no formal education in biology, natural resources, agriculture, or forestry. How do I and the many other "Forestry Technician" fire managers do it?..... it's called real world education, experience, and working under a truly interdisciplinary process.

BLM Bob...... your statement ... "Like it or not, the agencies do not just 'put out fires.'".....
I'd be happy to invite anyone to my Forest to determine if the Wildland Firefighters and Wildland Fire Managers think we 'just put out fires'. Countless other wildland firefighters across the country would also send out the invitation. Wildland firefighters KNOW THERE IS A WHOLE LOT MORE ABOUT OUR PROFESSION...... THAT'S WHY WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS ARE ASKING FOR PROPER CLASSIFICATION NATIONWIDE!!!!

Lobotomy

P.S. - Wildland Technical Fire Management - great program - How many slots were there last year? How were the slots distributed? LoL..... band-aid trying to cover a sucking chest wound!!!!
10/5 Mellie, et al:
My mother always said "charity begins at home"; we interpreted that to mean family and friends first. Wildland Firefighter Foundation is #1 on my list for annual cash contribution.

Some may be leery about using the Internet; some may want 100% to go directly to the 52 Club and bypass PayPal. If anyone has doubts, call WFF staff directly (208-336-2996) without fear of a breach in confidentiality. Vicki & crew will probably accommodate you by posting your moniker on the list of contributors if you want to remain anonymous.

Better yet, if you can afford it, send in a few extra $$ and specify where you want your dollars to go.

<early 52 Club member
10/5 IMTs on other than Fire Incidents.

I had the opportunity to respond to the Shuttle Recovery with my Type 2 IMT.
At first I was reluctant (to say the least, thinking, what the hell!)

I went as a OSC(T) and had such a valuable training assignment in managing
resources that I cannot even properly explain.

We (IMTs) are just very good at managing incidents that it just makes sense
for us to respond to whatever this nation needs us for.

On the anniversary of 9/11, it should be clear.

BB
10/4 Hi All,

Like many of you, I am so sad that tree fell and Daniel Holmes died. I appreciate it that someone shared his smiling picture. I have no doubt he loved what he did and did it well. I can't begin to imagine what his mom, other family members and girlfriend must be going through. I do know the pain that members of our fire family are feeling. I wish I could give everyone a big all-embracing hug and squeeze for emphasis. I wish even more it would help.

My way of dealing with grief, in addition to crying, is to do something to help. I just talked with Vicki. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is helping with arrangements relating to Dan's death.

There will be a service in Rochester, New Hampshire. As I understand it, the whole Arrowhead Crew has been asked to attend by Daniel's family. There will be a reception (size unknown). The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has been asked to pick up the tab for the reception. Last time I looked on the membership page, The Foundation is us. Of course, the WFF will pick up the tab. The WFF is also picking up some other expenses as well for travel for Dan's Significant Other and her friend who will accompany her.

Those of you who would like to, can donate to the WFF to help defray the costs of those arrangements. You can join the 52 Club ($52) or make another Monetary Donation (then send an email saying it's for Daniel Holmes arrangements).

Here's how you join the 52 Club. (For the first or second etc time, it's the same process.) I'd never done a Pay Pal donation or payment. It was easy, like buying anything online if you've done that.

  • Under Name(s) to be displayed in membership list, put "<your name> for (or in memory of) Daniel Holmes" in the box provided and click "Join Now".
  • The next page reviews what's in your cart --> it should be the membership with your name and "for (or in memory of) Daniel Holmes". Click "Checkout".
  • On the next page, the amount of money should be $52. I don't have a PayPal Account, so I clicked "Continue Checkout".
  • On the next page, choose "No Shipping Required" and fill in Name and Address in the boxes provided. Click "Continue Checkout".
  • On the next page, fill in your credit card information, email address, and phone number. They keep all of that info private. Finally, type into the space there -the combination of letters and numbers that they provide. Click "Continue Checkout".
  • The final page allows you to review the info you entered before clicking "Pay". If you need to change something you can go back and do that.
  • The next page that comes up is your receipt number. Go up to "File" on the left-hand corner of your browser screen and go down to "save as". Save that page someplace logical for future reference. You will also get an email receipt from Pay Pal.
  • Besides Pay Pal, you can also call to donate or join the 52 Club or send in a check by snail mail.
    In either case the Foundation gets the whole amount without a portion going to Pay Pal.
    • The Foundation Phone Number is
      208.336.2996
    • The Foundation Address is
      Wildland Firefighter Foundation
      3880 S Development Ave.
      Boise, ID 83705

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is all of us -- The Power of One, raised exponentially -- to help our firefighters' families in their time of need and -- to help them exponentially know our love and support. Can't you feel it?

Respectfully submitted... and with a lot of LOVE for ALL of you. I have my candle burning...

Mellie (Living the dream: The Power of One, joined with others)

10/4 I want to offer my condolences for the tragic loss of Daniel Holmes.
What a great guy and too soon gone. I have been searching for
words to share my grief and I haven't been able to find enough.
May God be with his family, friends and with all of us.

DL
10/4 To Dan's Family and our NPS brothers and sisters. I feel I've been in
shock. This tragedy affects us all. My thoughts and prayers are with
you. Brit, Sue, Arrowhead HS crew, and Hotshot community, Dan's
family, Dee, Julie, your pain is our pain.

SS
10/4 My deepest sympathy, condolences, and respect go out to Dan's family and friends.
He will never be forgotten.

Mike
10/4 I have spent some teary-eyed days since hearing of Dan's death. The death
of this second young member of our fire community tosses me right back into
grief and makes me reflect again on how fragile life is.

In Dan's memory, give your loved ones a hug. Take time today to tell
someone who has been important in your life how much they mean to you, be
it mentor, co-worker, child, spouse, or your hs supervisor.

God's speed Daniel.
Tahoe Terrie

10/4 Mellie,

My "who is Mellie" poke was all in good fun, just a little teasing.

For what it's worth, since the quals for Deputy IC are the same as IC, it seems that as often as not a new IC on a Type 1 (okay Arge?) team was the DPIC preciously. Not always, but...

Lobotomy,

It seems like you have an axe to grind about the newish 401 series requirements for fire managers, but there is an answer to your question:

"So, can anyone explain how the GS-401 series addresses the concerns that drove the change to the GS-401 and <...snip...> AND HOW THESE NEW STANDARDS ARE GOING TO KEEP THE TROOPS SAFER WHEN THE STANDARDS KEEP THE FOLKS WITH ALL OF THE EXPERIENCE and TRULY RELEVANT EDUCATION from promoting or staying with the Agencies?

Would the South Canyon Fire, 30 Mile Fire, Cramer Fire, or any countless others have been changed if the firefighters and FIRE MANAGERS had more experience or college credits in Biology? ..... or Forestry?......."

First off, the change to 401 series for fire managers isn't going to - or expected to - prevent every tragedy. But you seem to be overlooking the other standards that are now required for fire managers - the standards that require fire experience and training. Those standards are relatively new, and combined with the positive education requirements should make for better, and safer, fire managers. The education requirements are just part of it.

In the world today (and under the IFPM) fire managers need a lot more tools to run a safe operation. We couldn't go on living with some of the poor selections for fire managers that have taken place in the past. Now that the IFPM requires fireline experience for managers, you can (hopefully) expect FMOs to have the necessary background to ensure safe fire operations - that wasn't the case before IFPM, there wasn't universal requirement of fire experience. I think we can all probably recall hearing
about fire managers without fire experience...like the person who was the Colorado BLM state fire management officer at the time of the South Canyon disaster. Think about that.

And I can think of at least two areas where a forestry or biology education are necessary for a quality FMO - prescribed fire/fire use and fire planning. Like it or not, the agencies do not just 'put out fires.' We know conclusively that to do that is to invite disaster as we deny the fire- adapted nature of the lands we fight fires on. FMOs have to understand the biological and ecological role of fire on the land so that they can take a major part in creating the land management plans and fire management plans that drive the firefighting staffing and actions. Take some time to learn how your agency's land/forest management plans and fire management plans drive the local level fire funding, staffing, and responses. You might find that interesting.

Incidentally, one of the problems on the South Canyon fire was that resource specialists and the managers on that district had gotten into the habit of delaying suppression of fires because "it was doing a lot of good." But they didn't have approved fire use plans or good fire manager input. Bad habit.

And prescribed fire and fuels treatments are crucial to providing safety for the public and firefighters. Unless an FMO fully understands the biological and ecological role and effects of fire on the land, they won't be able to implement or administer a safe and effective prescribed fire and fuels program.

It's a changing world, and people (and programs) have to evolve. Unless FMOs have fire experience and understand the ecology and biology of fire, they can't run a safe program IMO. I know it's tough for the people that have lots of fire experience but lack the education requirements, but we need FMOs that are both experienced and educated. And for what it's worth, check out the Technical Fire Management Program (TFM) - it was designed to help working firefighters (462/455 series) qualify for the 401 series: www.washingtoninstitute.net/

BLM Bob

10/4 Re: Sulfur Fire Safenet

Steve's right in that this is a good site to monitor people's perspective
of "what happened?"

>From what I've heard......
  1. Looks to me like all ff's should be prepared to deal with adverse
    weather.
    • carry foul weather clothing and be prepared to overnight
    • don't count on aircraft ......weather can ground the best pilot.
  2. Be willing to leave the heavy gear behind for later retrieval.
  3. On-site overhead should be willing to declare an "emergency" when
    conditions warrant. ie: if you truly believe that hypothermia or other
    risks are imminent, then call it.
  4. Management needs to respect the call of the on-site leadership (from
    what I see so far, that was done here......if not in the optimal manner)
  5. Each safety situation shares common threads, and each is unique. In
    this case, whether a helicopter should have been dispatched is rendered
    moot because the weather situation prevented it at the time of request, and
    the ability of the crew to walk out finally eliminated the need.

All in all, a good discussion, with everyone getting to see a little more
of each other's perspective, and hopefully learn from this exchange. Once
again, thank you Ab.(s)

PS: I do hope that the "rectal thermometer" will not become standard issue
for ICs to determine hypothermia onset.

Old Fire Guy

10/4 A special thanks to the members of the U.S. Forest Service Honor Guard
for making the ceremonies at the National Fallen Fighter weekend spectacular.
The families and I were very impressed with their professionalism and sincere
concern.

"Boo"
10/4 I was excited to read the post from P. Harvey presenting a management perspective on the recent thread of the Salmon-Challis Helitack event. I’ve been sitting on the fence regarding this issue because I didn’t have enough information to form an opinion, let alone write in here. Too often in this forum I’ve observed someone with a personal axe to grind appear and receive more public support than is warranted.

It’s easy for people to read a single post on this site and reply with a sympathetic, knee-jerk email without hearing both sides of the story. Someone sends an email to Ab pronouncing a horse dead or dying, and many others jump in to give it a kick. In this case, the horse kicked back. I was delighted to read it.

It sounds to me like the helitack crew was given sound advice for departing the fire and ignored it. It sounds to me like the forest was unresponsive when the helitack crew asked for help.

I’m still sitting on the fence on this one. Being cold, wet, and upset with management doesn’t cut it with me. I have experienced similar events. Any fire management organization ignoring the requests of their Incident Commanders, forcing them to seek redress via safety reports or this website implies serious deficiencies and a distinct lack of communication.

So I’ll wait to read more and form my own conclusions. But I don’t see any winners when firefighters suffer, from poor supervision or poor management.

My thanks to the other posters for their insightful comments and questions regarding this incident to help form my humble opinion. Except the one from Rouge Rivers, whose post in reply to P. Harvey, was so far out there. Rectal thermometers, medical doctor, ologists. What is that all about? Please don't answer Rouge.

Steve
10/4 Sincere heartfelt condolences to Daniel Holmes' family, friends and co-workers.
May you find comfort knowing we care.

The unanticipated dangers inherent in this wildland fire avocation our loved ones
choose is heartbreaking when a tragedy such as this happens.

All the more reason for us to emotionally support one another and the families
of those who are injured or gone from our presence. I take comfort in my belief
that they remain with us in spirit.

northzone
10/3 On behalf of the members of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, several of which serve on the Arrowhead Hotshots, we offer our sincerest prayers and sympathies to Dan's family and our "family" of Arrowhead Hotshots. Oddly I had spoken to Brit just the day before, often reminded of his "movie star" status in at least one wildfire movie.

To all of you who cut the lines, make command decisions and place yourselves in harm's way, please know that we honor all of you in times like these and in fact year round, and offer all of you our heartfelt respect.

We trust the Arrowhead crew will take comfort in the knowledge that their extended family is here for them. May God bless all of you.

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
10/3 Our heartfelt condolences to Dan's family, Brit, the Arrowhead Crew and friends. Dan will be sorely missed. May we all find peace.

Thanks to community members who wrote in and were willing to wait for the official news release posted below. Many thanks to Jody for emailing the news release as soon as it became available after the family was notified. We know it is hard to have some information, many anxieties and want the details. None of us sleep comfortably under the circumstances. Thanks to those of you with information who restrained yourselves on the Hot List Forum. You all know what is right in not releasing detailed information prematurely... and you do it. 

Thanks for the photo, Jody. If anyone would like a larger photo, we have a really large one. Email and one of the Abs will make sure you get it.

Daniel Holmes

Our prayers for all involved.
The Abs.

10/3 National Park Service
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
For Immediate Release – October 3, 2004
Jody Lyle (559) 565-3703

National Park Service Grieves For Wildland Firefighter

Wildland firefighter Daniel Holmes, age 26, of Bellingham, Washington was killed yesterday when he was hit by a falling dead tree on the Grant West Prescribed Fire in Kings Canyon National Park. Daniel’s family has been notified.

The accident occurred shortly after operations began at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 2. With four acres ignited, the top of a 100-foot white fir tree unexpectedly fell where firefighters were working, striking Holmes. Approximately 20 firefighters witnessed the accident and provided immediate medical assistance. Holmes was carried to a waiting ambulance by his fellow crewmembers, but passed away while being transported to a Lifeflight helicopter landing zone in the park. Daniel never regained consciousness after the accident and was pronounced dead by the Lifeflight medical crew.

A three-person accident investigation team has already arrived in the park. Teams like this one are routinely dispatched for the Department of the Interior following serious accidents. Over the next few days, they will complete a standard investigation, interviewing witnesses and gathering documentation.

“The National Park Service is heartbroken over this loss,” said Superintendent Richard H. Martin. “My two priorities now are providing help for Daniel’s family and supporting our park family here at Sequoia and Kings Canyon.”

Holmes was a crewmember on the Arrowhead Hotshots, an elite firefighting crew that responds to large fires across the country. The National Park Service has two such crews: Arrowhead Hotshots at Kings Canyon and Alpine Hotshots at Rocky Mountain National Park. For more information about the crew, go to www.arrowheadhotshots.org.
10/2 Strider

My Forest has not had the pleasure of an OIG audit. But what I have heard,
from some of the Forest was that it was not very pleasant!!
But it is my belief that if you do not have the hard copy documentation, to
back up your computer application, OIG will eat your Forest alive. It is
also my belief that there is not one Forest, in the nation, that could with
stand one of OIG's audits with out having some problems as you suggest (some
Forest will bear better than other). We have not done a very good job with
keeping our mandatory hard copy files up to date and have relied totally on
our computer applications to store our records. Maybe it's too bad that the
results of these OIG audits are not shared, with other Forest (Agencies) as
lessons learned.

Have a Good One!!
Hippy Mike
10/2 Just curious. Is there anyone out there who does not prefer the Kevlar Pants that has used them?
Everyone, I've run into seems to greatly favor those ripstop pants.

Now; what about chain saw chaps. Anyone here have to have some type of orange chaps?

Fuels Guy
10/2 Hippy Mike,

Has OIG done an audit on employees on your forest to see if they fully meet
FSH 5109.17 certification criteria? You might be surprised. I thought I was
up to date and qualified. I was not. Many were not. Problem here.

Strider

10/2 For Strider

I have been around since before dirt. When the qualifications were moved from the USFS Red Card program, the positions that you were qualified were moved over, into IQCS as qualified. As an example, when I became an EDSP, many years ago, there was no formal training; you got certified by the school of hard knocks. When my data was moved from the old program into the IQCS program, I am still qualified. When dealing with some of the old courses, if they were equal to a new course you were given credit for that new course. For courses like S-390 (Intermediate Fire Behavior), which was replaced with the current S-290 and S-390, your old S-390 was changed to XS-390 and you were given credit for both S-290 and S-390 under the new system. As for your University fix, that will no longer work for the Forest Service. The reason is as follows, on page 8 of WO amendment FSH5109.17-2004-5 and I quote "5. If an individual is serving in the designed 3-year Task Book completion period, and a revision to FSH5109.17 identifying additional Level 1 or 2 training for the positions is issued, the individual shall be required to complete the training prior to certification for the position."

I have been involved with fire qualifications for the last 20 years and the IQCS is the fourth computer application that the Forest Service has used and it is my profession opinion that this, the IQCS computer application, is by far the best program that I have seen.

Hippy Mike
10/2 From Firescribe:
So much for Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations on deadly interface fires.

Governor Schwarzenegger's vetoes irk firefighting leaders

10/2 Gordon King clarified that no crew refused the assignment on the Loop Fire,
although the story is commonly told that way in training. The other crew that
was available besides El Cariso had been fighting fire for 24 hours. El Cariso
was fresh, so they went. Evidently there are some errors in the report that
came out all those years ago. (The other thing that wasn't stated in the report
was that he and the supt walked out on the intermediate ridge, really looked the
fire over and discussed it 2 or 3 times before his crew engaged.)

Mellie

10/2 P. Harvey....

You stated, " No one suffered from hypothermia".  I hope you have your rectal thermometer readings to support your assertion as a Medical Doctor. Thermometer readings are the key to knowing if hypothermia existed. It's usually taken by a medical professional, not normally by a Biologist, Forester, or Natural Resources professional, or an ADFMO.

The IC said he or she felt that hypothermia was a concern. Cold weather and rain and requested a demob from an alternate location due to these safety concerns. If any ologists question this, let them provide their medical doctorate to counter the Forestry Technician IC's decision.

Rogue Rivers
10/2 OK.... I like the idea of professional wildland firefighters and fire managers...... I really like the idea that wildland fire management should have its own series...... and its own education and experience requirements. I'm not a biologist... or a forester... or a natural resources professional..... I'm a wildland firefighter and a wildland fire manager.

So, can anyone explain how the GS-401 series addresses the concerns that drove the change to the GS-401 and the "Interagency Fire Program Management Qualifications Standards and Guide", referred to as the IFPM Standard and the Supplemental Qualification Standard for professional GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist positions".... AND HOW THESE NEW STANDARDS ARE GOING TO KEEP THE TROOPS SAFER WHEN THE STANDARDS KEEP THE FOLKS WITH ALL OF THE EXPERIENCE and TRULY RELEVANT EDUCATION from promoting or staying with the Agencies?

Would the South Canyon Fire, 30 Mile Fire, Cramer Fire, or any countless others have been changed if the firefighters and FIRE MANAGERS had more experience or college credits in Biology? ..... or Forestry?....... Somewhere there is the missing link.....

> From the IFPM Website:

Following the South Canyon Fire in 1994, an interagency team was formed to investigate the fatalities and contributing factors. The subsequent 1995 Federal Wildland Fire Policy and Program Review, signed by both Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, directed Federal wildland fire agencies to establish fire management qualifications standards to improve firefighter safety and increase professionalism in fire management programs.

The Interagency Fire Program Qualifications Task Force was established in July 1997, to develop these qualification standards and accomplish related assignments. Their efforts resulted in the Interagency Fire Program Management Qualifications Standards and Guide, referred to as the IFPM Standard and the Supplemental Qualification Standard for professional GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist positions, which were approved by the Office of Personnel Management in August 2001.

The National Fire and Aviation Executive Board (NFAEB) through the Federal Fire Training Task Group (FFTTG) chartered an interagency IFPM Implementation Team consisting of human resources, training and fire management personnel to write an implementation plan for the IFPM Standard.

Lobotomy

P.S. - How many field level wildland firefighters were involved in the decision process? .... IS THIS COVERED BY NEPA REQUIREMENTS?..... It relates to the management of the land and probably should have a Record of Decision.... and probably an EIS since it adversely affected so many wildland firefighters...... I Can't find any FONSI or case file relating to this decision as required..... hmmm............
10/1 Thanks for the reality check, BLM Bob. I sometimes forget how arrogant
the internet can make me sound. I like to think I'm not.

Here's what was behind my question "Who is Lynn Wilcock?" Sometimes a
Deputy IC takes over from an IC at the end of a season and commands the team
on an incident. I should have asked if that's what Wilcock did. That was the
question in my mind.

If you'd really like to know who I am, I'd be happy to answer any of YOUR
questions. <little salaam> Send a request via Ab and I'll share my personal
email and/or phone number. We can talk. I also come to chat sometime.
If you'd rather I call you, give me your number and I will.

Mellie (Who may have had too much time on her hands this week... NOT)
10/1 For Mellie - Lyn Wilcock is the Alaska State Forestry Operations Forester,
stationed at the Alaska Fire Service.

So, who is Mellie?

BLM Bob

<haw><haw> Ab.

10/1 Sulphur Creek Fire Demob Safenet

There are lots of interesting comments on this topic representing viewpoints from both sides of the fence. Let me add the facts about this incident that have not made it into print.

The DAFMO hiked into the fire and met with the crew to conduct an on fire inspection. He hiked 1.3 miles from the Boundary Creek parking lot. Demob options were discussed with the crew. They were informed that there was a boggy flat below them that could present an obstacle hiking to Sulphur Creek Ranch. A discussion was held concerning the predicted incoming weather. It was stated that weather would most likely affect their plans and if nothing else; they might spend the night at the Sulphur Creek Ranch so that a fixed wing aircraft could be used to pick them up in the morning. The rational for spending the night would be the $1,000 cost difference between using the medium helicopter to pick them up verses using a fixed wing aircraft. It was pointed out that hiking to Boundary Creek would not involve aircraft, would be the least cost option, and would not be complicated by the weather. The response from the IC was, “We have a policy of only hiking downhill to pack out.”

From the fire it was possible to side hill to the ridge that led down to the Boundary Creek parking lot. The ridge was completely bare from an old fire and had a trail down its length. It took the DAFMO two hours to hike back to his truck from the fire.

After the crew dropped their pack out bags and headed to Sulphur Creek Ranch airstrip it took them 45 minutes to reach the strip. They followed a dry stretch of ground from the meadow to the trail. This route was used by the stock to retrieve the gear. The fire fighters on the Sulphur Creek fire had rain gear but said it was in the bottom of their packs. No one suffered from hypothermia.

The decision to suppress this wilderness fire was made due to the proximity of private in-holdings adjacent to the fire. The Morgan Creek Ranch is about one mile NE of the fire. This is the predominate direction of spread of fires on the Middle Fork driven by SW winds. The Sulphur Creek Ranch and airstrip is about two miles to the W of the fire. The owner of the Sulphur Creek Ranch called this fire in and asked if we planned to put it out or should he.

At the same time as the Sulphur Creek Fire, Cones’ Fire Use Management Team was managing the 3,000-acre Porter WFU on the Middle Fork RD. Porter WFU is about six mile SW of the Sulphur Fire. The first rains to hit the area occurred the day after the initial attack. Suppression was the appropriate management response to the Sulphur Fire.

Now you know the rest of the story.

P. Harvey – Good Day!

Thanks for the details. Ab.
10/1 Re the Alaska Type 1 Team: Dave Dash (former IC) is the Manager
of the BLM Aviation Program at BLM's National Fire & Aviation
Office in Boise. He's been down there - what Dave, a couple of
years now? Lynn Wilcock (current IC & formerly Dave's Deputy) is
the Fire Operations Forester for the State of Alaska, Division of
Forestry. & for the last time, gang - "types" in ICS are expressed by
Arabic numbers, not Roman numerals, i.e., "Type 2", not "Type II", &
so on.

RJ
10/1 I guess I can't get on any www.fs.fed.us sites because Mt St Helens blew?
They should take that webcam down!

GG

They did, but they're saving the pictures. The server is slow. Keep trying. Ab.

10/1 Anybody besides me who's been around since older'n dirt notice that the certs for FSH 5109.17 don't work if you use the computerized IQCS (Incident Qualification and Certification System)? Near as I can tell, there is no built in way to peg a person's qualifying time for a particular cert with what was required at the time (and not what's required now). Course numbers have changed. Positions that are now prerequisites did not exist when I got certified.

Universities offering degree programs only make the degree candidate meet the course requirements laid out in the handbook for the year they entered the program. Gotta fix that for ICQS. I bet if the powers-that-be checked, they'd find that the majority of fire folks who formerly qualified for their position no longer do under ICQS.

Strider

10/1 New Standards are in place as of today for the OPM Professional Biologist
Firefighter Series 401. Hopefully in the near future OPM can crosswalk this
to a true-ly professional Wildland Firefighter series.

Interagency Fire Program Management Qualifications Standards and Guide

Todd
10/1 Thanks for the info on fuel moistures, as always looking for the proper
time to throw down a match on some hard north slope units.

Skip
10/1 Ab-
As far as I know Dash is no longer IC since he is now in Boise. My
understanding is that Wilcock is the new IC of the AK team.

BLMgirl

Thanks. Ab.
10/1 Lower Trinity 1000 hr fuel moisture:

At Hoopa it's 14% (400') and at Underwood it's at 10% (mid-slope S Fork Trinity: 25-2800').
On-the-ground measurement at low elevation on Underwood would be higher than the mid-slope figure.

OK ya can quit calling Rob now. He was wondering why all the messages asking the same question.

Mellie

PS, Thanks Mike. I was pretty sure there were still 5, but Dick did prompt me to call an IC last night
just to double check! Luckily, it wasn't tooooo late.

10/1 Salmon-Challis Safenet

Looks like we need to work on the basics again!
First Standard Order! They all knew the significant weather was coming in, right??
So what was management's thought process behind the insertion?
When the crew heard about management's "plan" in front of the weather, what was their thought process? Sounds like they were in for a nasty hike out all along! Or was there an extraction helispot in the plan? As far as initial attack in a remote location, did the IC have a backup plan in case they had to spend a night (or two)? Yeah, you can (and should) question the handling of this situation by management, but I think the guys on the ground should have turned it down or been a whole lot smarter about situational awareness in regards to being in a remote area with crappy weather heading their way!

TL

10/1 Bravo to Bruce Lodge and jde,

yes, yes, yes for bringing up the point.... What were those rappellers doing there in the first place??

This is a critical question that MUST be addressed if we are going to be "successfull" fire managers. I believe that is the first question that must be answered before we send any firefighters into a fire, especially the wilderness.

(As a foot note: I was a rappeller at Indianola some years back and have spent some time with fire use teams recently, I have seen the light after being hard-headed as a youngin', rappelling and jumping ain't as glamorous as it is made out to be - that is for dam* sure. If we gotta rappel or jump, chances are we don't need to be there except to watch and learn.)

firepup21
10/1 CA BLM in Sacramento is now flying the State Fire Operations Specialist
job. We unfortunately lost Doug Waggoner to the FWS as their new Regional
FMO for California/Nevada. It is a GS-0401-12/13 position with a fun office
and is being flown now on USA jobs. The position closes October 29th.
CA-04-128DO-MP
CA-04-127DO-DEU

And FYI- Dave Dash is now at NIFC working for BLM in the aviation shop.

Thanks for the help,
BLMgirl

The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated. I listed this on the jobs page as well. I took Dash off as IC of the Alaska team and left Wilcock on. Is that correct? That team does not provide a roster on the internet so it's hard to know who's in charge. Ab.

9/1 Looking for fuel moistures (1000k) in particular for the Six Rivers area
centered around Lower Trinity.
Any ideas?

Thanks, Skip
10/1 EMT_MB,

Hate to burst your bubble -- The Type 1 and Type 2 teams are coordinated by the
U.S. Forest Service under the National Response Plan -- and the U.S. Forest Service
has an agreement with the USFA. Wherever a Federal Team exists, it doesn't matter
who the IC is, it's still a Federal Team.

All tongue in cheek...

See ya...
Rogue Rivers
10/1 I'm pretty dam* scared that we are tearing up a good tool in the fire leadership toolbox..

After action reviews (AARs) were never meant to be an investigative tool. AAR rollups were meant to increase safety..... but never supplant an investigation of the facts during entrapments or near miss situations. This year.... AARs seem to be the fix all.....

If Fire Managers continue to use AARs as an investigative tool, the intent and purpose will be lost......

As a firefighter, AARs have always been confidential..... they are internal and meant to make us more cohesive and learn from our mistakes. Many hotshot crews refuse to document the AARs... Everyone admits their mistakes and makes the unit safer........ It's a great tool that the US Military has given us..... I hope we don't bastardize it so much that it fails to work.

When you have a Forest Leadership Team and Firefighters AAR........ such as happened with the Sulphur Fire on the Salmon-Challis..... firefighters are not as willing to speak their mind...... Let the firefighters on the crew do an AAR and then roll it up to the district and forest management...THAT'S THE PROCESS... DON'T STEP ON THE PROCESS!!!! It's just like a Rubber Boa..... step on it... you kill it...... and you kill the open speaking of the firefighters on the ground.

Former Hotshot
10/1 Re: The recent situation on the Salmon-Challis ....

Having just one season's worth of experience on a USFS IR Shot crew I am not qualified to speak to many of the issues raised in this discussion. But I have one main question, which being the long winded type will probably take me a while to get to. Here goes with the preliminary questions...

Am I correct ... this fire was in a wilderness area, right? Doesn't the USFS typically consider the necessity of suppressing fires in wilderness areas, sometimes choosing to suppress, sometimes not?

And this fire was small enough to only require 4 people to suppress, right? Or did it get really big, and these rappellers were excess and being returned for IA availability? If it was actually small enough to only require 4 people ...

Were there any weather forecasts available prior to insertion of the rappellers that indicated the potential for torrential (my word) rains capable of significantly swelling streams, turning game trails into puddles, the ground into a bog, plus hindering or eliminating the potential for flight operations, and generally making "... travel difficult and slow"? Or, was the weather system a surprise?

My main question ... If the fire was in a wilderness area, and small enough to only require four firefighters, and the weather forecast called for significant rain ... why were the rappellers inserted in the first place? Wouldn't being proactive about crew safety, not to mention justifying costs and reasoned consideration of the positive or negative impacts of the fire on the involved environment, lead a fire manager to consider letting nature take its course out there? How about wait a day, see if the rain can put the fire out, then insert a crew if needed when the weather turns to the better?

I have the luxury of being able to ask these questions from the comfort of my home office, with the benefit of hindsight, and admittedly, a limited understanding of how things work regarding wilderness areas and the S-C. But when I read that Safe-Net the first question that fired in my head was just that ... why were they there in the first place? How's about one of you educate this CDF guy?

Never Forget, Never Again!
Bruce Lodge
10/1 Dick, and Mellie,

Last winter region 5 talked about dropping down to 4 type
I teams but decided to keep it at 5.

M Nelson
10/1 Has anyone heard any more about the new grand scheme for LATs?
I thought it was supposed to be unveiled in September?
Thanks!

Craig
 
Copyright © 2014 FWI WildlandFire.com - All Rights Reserved. Your source for Wildland Fire News and Wildfire News and Information.