November, 2004

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11/30 Dear Old Fire Guy

Sorry, I didn't see your post until scrolling down today. I've got my hunch as to who you are and if I'm right, many of us at the FWFSA have a great deal of respect for you. You oughtta join!!! 

I think all of us are entitled to at least one diatribe per congressional session although my posts, as usual (at least in my lowly opinion) are for the purposes of educating rather than ranting and raving. Of course after hearing about comments attributed to the R-5 Regional Forester against our Association and its efforts, I guess I'll settle for diatribe.

There are many folks in the FS leadership that have demonstrated their support for their firefighters. There are others who, quite frankly, couldn't tell a firefighter from a nuclear engineer and have even less practical fire experience. You, as an old fire guy, likely have far more practical fire experience than the Regional Forester or Chief.

Nonetheless, I'm sorry if you construed my comments as being inflammatory. I prefer to call them honest and factual. I've never been one to sugar coat or "spin" the information that those I represent deserve to know. Perhaps that was what got me in trouble with the IAFF. They, like many large unions, (and political parties) like to spin their commentary to put out what they want their members to hear. I on the other hand, provide information, good or bad, to those I represent. If my information and data were not accurate, we would not have been able to even get a bill written. You must know credibility is EVERYTHING in this business, especially when trying to get something from congress. It has taken us years and years to establish that credibility.

There is nothing that I have posted with respect to data, information etc., that has not been born out as factual either to members of congress or by them. I appreciate and respect the toeing of the proverbial "company line" with respect to your comments about appropriations, but I think there are several inferences one could draw from your comments.

As an experienced lobbyist, I know very well that the funds requested by an agency could very well be the sum authorized by congress. I would hope you agree that funds being authorized is one thing, funds being appropriated is an entirely different matter.

I would hope that you would also agree that many agencies submit a budget request only to be provided (appropriated) with funds that are far less than asked for. My point was that the FS requested XYZ dollars for suppression even though they should have asked for ABC dollars. Congress gave them their XYZ money only to discover that the FS was borrowing from other programs to come up with the ABC dollars. There were several instances this session when congressional members criticized the FS for not asking for the appropriate amount of suppression dollars they needed in the first place so as to not have to borrow from other programs...thus a large supplemental appropriation so that the FS would no longer rob other programs. If you'd like just one name of those not happy with the FS financial requests, that would be Congressman Norm Dicks (D-WA). I'm sure I can dredge up some congressional record if necessary. 

That leads me to the "deriding" comment. Same guy. As well as others. And he's a Democrat... Fact is, there were those from both sides of the aisle, inclusive of staff from a variety of committees and subcommittees dumbfounded that sufficient suppression dollars were not asked for in the first place. The congressional response was basically tell us what you need and we'll get it to you. If someone appropriating dollars told me that, I'd shoot for the moon...including telling congress "and by gosh, we need X number of dollars so that we can come into the 21st century and properly pay our firefighters like other federal agencies pay theirs..." 

I certainly was not attempting to blame anyone for PTP's failure this session. Again, any "experienced lobbyist" knows how weird things work back there is DC. You can have a bill passed into law with 1 cosponsor and a bill with over half the House of Representatives on board as cosponsors doesn't get the time of day. One member of congress can kill a bill, regardless of support. Committee chairmen can literally kill a bill or move it based on their own whim...or what they can get for themselves. 

In our particular case, we knew that such legislation would not be a stand alone bill, it would have to go on a must-pass bill. That meant maneuvering towards an end-of year appropriations bill like we did with the OT pay cap in 2000. The leadership had their significant influence this year and it appeared it was easier to insert a lot of spending pork that did not require a change in law as our legislation does.

In the end, I will meet with members of congress to identify the details of what needs to be done next session. I will say without a doubt, that when the Chairman of the House Resources Committee, a Deputy Majority Whip and many others with large forests in their districts say yes to this bill, then the failure has absolutely nothing to do with the author... actually the congressional member who introduced the bill. The actual authors of the bill are FWFSA members who have worked tirelessly for years in their off time with congress, the Legislative Counsel, Civil Service Committee and others to craft a workable bill. In fact, the primary author is relied upon quite heavily by the FS in R5... kind of ironic huh?

As you know, the major piece of legislation regarding the 9/11 commission report didn't get passed either because of... politics. So, we dust off, knowing that our goals and objectives are not only meritorious but reachable and we press on. Even today, I received a letter from the congressman who introduced the bill categorically stating his "commitment through to the end" to see this bill signed into law. 

Old Guy, the FWFSA is not the enemy of the FS. I think you know that. In fact, we've reached out to the FS offering our help after it (the FS) asked for our help on other issues. However if the leadership of the Agency in DC (and yes there is some disconnect between the DC office and R5 I'm sure) and maybe at the Regional Forester level, would stop worrying about their political lives and take an active role in what's best for their firefighters, we could achieve far more than we all realize.

11/30 Lobotomy,

Like you, I grow weary of some of the whining misconceptions I hear on this site…..especially to the effect:
"They" could guarantee permanent full time work to all firefighters if "They" wanted to.
"They" could give us 24 hour pay (with OT beyond 8).
"They" could set up pay grades that would result in all seasonal firefighters making $100,000 per year.
"They" could guarantee a promotion accompanies every course I complete.
"They" could stop this 401 foolishness that mandates training plus education to become an upper level manager.
"They" could force Congress to give us all the money we want, or just tell us to spend like we had it.

Support the firefighters? I've got 30+ years of firefighting experience, including a southern California Hotshot Crew …so let's not play the "he's an outsider" card.

I do agree that one should always offer a solution, or at least an "idea" for discussion. I think I've done so in the past but let me share some thoughts again.

1. The 401 series might not be the right "number" but I don't care. What it does is set a goal of ensuring our fire leaders have both formal education in resources, and training and experience in fire. I firmly believe that it will result in a safer fire organization.

2. Career firefighter positions. We've seen a great increase in the number of career firefighters in the past few years and that's an improvement over the previous "seasonals only" approach. But, we will always need seasonal firefighters, AD's, the "militia" , our cooperators, and quality contractors (there are many).

3. Fire funding has grown tremendously, but let's be realists…..we will not soon see 100% MEL nor a blank check for all the fuels work we have waiting. Budgets are competitive and we just aren't going to win out against national defense, social programs, etc.

4. PTP? I support a different version. The main argument today seems to be: Hey! There's a lot of government waste and pork-barrel out there. Some "cooperators" or "contractors" are getting filthy rich (and I question that)……and I want to join that elite crowd! Well…..I don't think we'll find a lot of support for adding firefighters to the feed trough. Always the question of "How are you going to pay for this?"

5. Ah yes, the solution???? Again, how about a PTP for 24 hour pay at straight time? Do the math. Current 16 hour shift (with hazard pay) equates to 24 hours of straight time.

a. Advantage: Firefighters make the same $ as if they had a 16 hour shift every day. So….there is no advantage to "stretching" a 12-14 hour assignment. Instead, get back to camp and get rested. = SAFER

b. How are you going to pay for this? (and this question will not go away no matter how hard we wish it). A: Savings from the cumbersome and confusing costs of monitoring timesheets. No need for "red dogs" showing base, night differential, overtime, meal breaks, hazard pay. Gone for 14 days? Gee, 14x24=336 hours of straight pay……4th grade arithmetic. Selling points are Safety, and Cost Neutral.

Agree or disagree. Build or modify my ideas, or come up with your own. I think I've met the challenge of "put up or shut up". Ball is now in your court.

Old Fire Guy

Please email Ab so we know yer addy. We have some emails with info to forward on to you, except we deleted ya. Ab.

11/30 Hi Ab,
I would like to know of any fatalities while performing the pack test.(2003/2004) I 
would also like to know of any injuries. Please include as much information as you 
have. I have downloaded all the information as to the tests make up. Thank you for 
your help.


Here are two: WFF list of the fallen.

11/30 I am interested in volunteering in NC as a Prescribed Burn Volunteer but am 
required to have fire fighting training ("Red Card" basic fire behavior, safety).

Not knowing if this is a professional course or something I can achieve in a 
volunteer status I thought I would do some research prior to going any further 
with this interest.

Any insight or direction you could give me would be appreciated.

Lynn Hunsicker
E-mail address: gailnlynn@nc.rr.com
11/30 centered,


Under the Northern and Southern CA lists select Interagency Weather Fire
Center and that is where you will find links to the latest intel. Hopefully
that helps you out. We have good fire weather folks and this is where they
put their predictive services information. I don't know much about the
"temporary" sites so I don't know if this replaces them or what. I just did
some quick geek searching to find this new site.

Hope that helps,
11/30 Dear Mr. Contractor:

Let's get things straight. There are a number of decent contractors out there who play by the rules, whether they be in the business of fire suppression of providing the government with some other service. Unfortunately, some have also identified the Federal Government as a cash cow and have learned to take advantage of the government. However, let's not be naive. Contractors are in business to make a profit. You don't say whether you are a firefighter working for a contract company, or the owner of a contract company.

If you are a firefighter working for a contractor, if you aren't making good money for the period of time you are working, then somebody is. Furthermore, many contract companies fail to provide their employees with proper benefits, which is why there has been legislation seeking access to PSOB benefits for contractors who lose their lives on duty. Frankly, we believe the Contractor ought to foot the bill to properly cover their employees, not the federal government.

As for making a living...hardly. The FWFSA is a non-profit organization. Additionally, we are not a union. We are simply an employee organization working to bring benefits to federal wildland firefighters that they deserve. Union militancy is the furthest thing from my character and if you asked anyone who has known me and my union activities over the last 20 years, they will tell you that I did not, and still do not, believe in militancy. Perhaps you are confusing militancy with passion.

Quite frankly, it is that passion (or militancy if you so chose) for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters that has allowed me the opportunity to gain access to both sides of the political aisle to gain support for our issues. If I was simply a "labor union militant" there would be no way on earth I could get a Republican to author a bill like HR 2963 let alone get into his/her office.

Our support from both sides has been a result of years and years of relationship building, education and factual information. The fact that we, as a small group were able to get a bill introduced for portal to portal, and get the OT cap eliminated in 2000 when the large, 260,000 member International Association of Fire Fighters labor union couldn't, should tell you that we are far from the typical militant labor union group.

With all due respect to you, the bottom line is that my job is to represent our members which are federal wildland firefighters. As federal employees, they are often taken advantage of by their Agency with respect to pay and benefits. There lies a distinct inequity in the manner in which the FS pays for suppression. There are too many studies that demonstrate that contractors and cooperators significantly raise the cost of fire suppression.

The cooperators are certainly our brothers and sisters in the firefighting community. However many of them, when on a federal fire, denounce the way in which our federal wildland firefighters are paid and taken off the clock. And let's face it, if there was not a dollar to be made in contracting with the federal government, there would simply be no contractors.

Haven't you ever wondered why so many feds retire or resign from the FS and take a job either for, or as a contractor? Wonder why so many recruits get their training and then jump ship to cooperators?

All that is fine and dandy. More power to them. But not at the expense of our federal wildland firefighters, who, with all due respect, are the best in the world at what they do.

As for a captive stable of members, I'm not quite clear as to your point. Membership is voluntary. There are no "fair share" fees. There is no obligation to be a member. The FWFSA is simply an organization working to improve pay, benefits and working conditions for federal wildland firefighters through the legislative process. My postings include my phone number and e-mail address. Please feel free to contact me if you wish.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
11/30 Casey,
I have reviewed my decision to join the FWFSA when I did in the early years of its existence.
What I have found is that my reasons for joining are still extremely valid!

I wish to thank the FWFSA Officers who continue to be a collective voice for us working
legislatively towards a better work environment for all wildland firefighters.

you have my continued support!

11/30 Everyone,

Casey's post may have the flavor of union militancy, on reread, I see it is a bit militant, but only because it's provoked by the R5 Forester. His posturing and threats at the National fire managers meeting last month ---to shut down the FWFSA--- treads on our freedom of speech. We are an association following all the rules. If he wants a fight, he'll have one.

I appreciate the work that FWFSA leaders do for all of us. I hope more federal firefighters will join up. We'll see who shuts who down if a line is drawn in the sand by the forester. We have a right to free speech! Ab, I hope you post this. I know there was discussion and you all agreed to hang on to some earlier posts on this issue.

NorCal Tom

We support FREEDOM of SPEECH 100%. Ab.

11/30 There are a number of air tanker photos from Mike Meadows that I have put on AirTankers 14 and AirTankers 15 photo pages. Many are quite dramatic. 

Also, there are new photos of the Runaway Fire up on Fire 25, Fire 26, and Helicopters 4 photo pages and some Morning Star IHC photos on Fire 26 and Handcrews 16. Here's a special effect for the night crew photo of the San Bernardino County FD on the Runaway Fire.

Many thanks contributors. If you have any more info to add to the photo description pages, please send it in. It's like Christmas when photos come in. 

I have tried to check all links. If you find any that are broken, please let us know. Contributors, if I have missed any photos, please let me know. Ab.
11/30 Here are a few photos from a burnout using the Fire Quick Launcher on the Rumsey Fire 2004.


Thanks, I added them to the Equipment 8 photo page. Ab.

11/30 Re AD Rates:
If you're interested, this is what I just sent to my congressman:

To the Honorable ... 

I worked more than 10 wonderful years with the USDA Forest Service, and in that time I was well trained to respond to wildfire emergencies. I left the agency to take care of my family, but have continued to serve as an AD fire responder, known internally as a "casual" firefighter and in more bureaucratic terms as an "administratively determined" fire responder.

Almost all AD fire folks are facing pay cuts as a result of a plan that was sent out for review November 17 to Regional Foresters and Forest Service Washington Office personnel.

It appears that the group working on this plan reviewed similar GS rates, but did not consider that AD firefighters are not paid overtime, hazardous duty pay or any of the other "extras" we received when working full time. Previous pay rates were set high enough to partially make up for this difference.

Frankly, I am baffled by this change. Many of us ADs bring years of experience to wildfire work and fill top-level, professional positions at a time when agency cutbacks, mandatory retirements, and other situations have reduced the number of people available to respond to fires. Some of us were even willing to respond to another agency's needs when requested last fall to go to Florida to help after the hurricanes.

The new rates have dropped so much in some of the positions, that I would not respond if called out, even if qualified to do so. I am asking you to intervene quickly on the behalf of those of us who continue to serve our country in this unique capacity. The rates need either to be set higher, or adjusted to pay overtime and other compensations.

I have taken the liberty to include links to the plan and cover letter: 

Thank you for your attention to this matter!


11/30 Ab, the Union Interagency Hotshot Crew is celebrating 25 years of service
in 2005. Here is our logo for the 2005 season, we will go back to green
and yellow in 2006.

We will be posting updates for our 25 year reunion as details are worked

Dan Fiorito, Union IHC Supt.

Nice logo, Dan. I have added that one and logos from the Morning Star IHC and the Hamilton Canada Fire Department to the Logo 10 photo page. Thanks contributors. Ab.

11/29 I would guess okfireman is from Oklahoma? If so give him my e-mail address, I have a contact in park service in Arkansas that may help. They have a S-230, Crew Boss, which is real close to the S-231 Engine Boss. Missouri will hosting another Big River Compact Academy in June and S-231 is usually on the schedule.

11/29 For okfireman:

S-231 in Region 9

S-230/231 in Arizona

S-231 In Region 8

S-231 In Region 6

New York Wildfire Academy


11/29 Please let "okfireman" that the 2005 class schedule for Blackbull Wildfire Services will be on the web at www.blackbull-wildfire.com by the end of this week, and will include several S-231 classes.

Dick Mangan

Permanent link for Blackbull on the Classifieds page. Ab.

11/29 okfireman,

Are you in Oklahoma? If so check with Lake Meredith NRA in Fritch, Texas (near Amarillo). They are really good folks who welcome OK trainees. They do S231 fairly regularly and I believe they are about due to do it again.

11/29 Casey,
I read your recent posting about greedy contractors price gouging the government and nearly fell out of my chair laughing. Perhaps you can tell my banker how much money I made this year when he calls my loans next month. 

First, our contract rates are to a large extent set by the feds. So you can quit throwing the prerogative "Greedy Contractor" around like its a manhole cover.

Second, when have you ever staked your 401k on the success of a fire contract and hoped that the feds don't change the game while you're holding the financial bag to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars? 

Rain or shine, I'm sure you make a comfortable living from the tribute you extract from your captive stable of members. If they receive a value for their dues, then more power to you. But whether you intended it or not, there is a bitter, condescending tone to your letter. The union militancy that subtly weaves itself through the lines of your posting does none of us in the wildland fire service any favors -- either with the public or politicians. 

As a taxpayer and a professional wildland firefighter, I will lobby for REASONABLE policies that serve the public. There is a bottom to their pockets and a limit to their goodwill. 

A proud fire contractor.
11/29 OldFireGuy,

Step up and support wildland firefighters or give your ideas on how to make the profession safer...... I'm tired of sitting back and listening to people like you offer half  "ideas" on how to solve the problem.... put up or shut up.....

Lobotomy.... no editing done on this side you <snip>.....

Ooops.... lost control

S' ok, I didn't. Ab.

11/29 Last year, many of us took pay cuts when rates were "standardized." Now 
we'll be getting another pay cut just so they can call us by letters rather than 
numbers? Since this is a flat rate, it makes little sense!

Still out there as an AD
11/29 AD rates:

How could Crewboss and Engine boss not be an AD5? You can have a crew boss 
(AD4) supervise a C Faller (AD5). And the Demob Unit Leader is an AD5? Who 
makes up these charts? Obviously someone who has never been out on the line.

Bored Hotshot


Wow!  You must be having a bad day.  Your diatribe is far removed from the reasoned arguments we usually see you post.  Yet, since it is posted, it merits response.

First, no one need question your devotion to promoting the welfare of all wildland firefighters.   That said, I will take you to task for inflammatory statements regarding the concern of our FS leadership for firefighters.  Here are a couple of points we may agree to disagree on:

1. “…..the FS failing to adequately ask for the appropriate amount of money…”
    1. Any experienced lobbyist knows full well that the funds an agency requests is the sum agreed to by the current administration (Republican or Democrat). 

2.  “…the FS was derided by members of Congress….”   Again, the Congressional members of the loyal opposition always take to task the administration’s position.  There is nothing new here, and again you know that.

It appears to me that you are blaming the failure of PTP on everyone but the authors and promoters of the legislation.  Perhaps if it had been better written, or supported by better documentation than the assertion that contractors or cooperators make $100,000 yearly in overtime……

One might conclude that your latest note indicates a lack of understanding of how political posturing is used to promote an agenda.  Or…..they might conclude that it indicates that you clearly do understand such posturing.

Old Fire Guy

11/29 Jackson,

Excellent analysis. Your data just proves another point for the wildland firefighting community. When the folks at the top of the Federal Land Management Agencies lose touch with their field roots, the very roots of the agencies begin to rot. If the roots continue to rot, the tree is going to fall over with a very big bang.

I'm sure the agencies could find some other way to save a little money rather than take it out of firefighters pockets. At least they are being consistent - Federal employees, ADs, and contractors are all taking it in the shorts lately. Maybe next year, they will make the ADs and contractors have to take biological sciences, forestry, agriculture, or natural resource management classes before they can "qualify" to do their current jobs (Tongue in cheek, of course).

Rogue Rivers
11/29 MOC4546,

The "plan" is called Competitive Sourcing, and you are mostly correct.
Surprised that you haven't heard.

In a nutshell, existing, permanent Feds are systematically being required to "compete"
against the Private Sector for their own jobs.

It starts when they (Gov.) "study" a type of job, like IT, or HR, or F&A.

Once the work is "defined", the Government asks the private sector to bid the job.
To make it a fair competition, the employee gets to re-apply for the job that they already have.

If a private sector company bids lower or flashier than the employee
already doing the job, the employee gets RIFed.

I know this is oversimplified, but that's how it seems to be playing out so far.
The actual process is much more complicated, but the result is the same.
I'm sure it all looks really great on paper.

Other implications, contractors trying to get paid, or employees needing HR
help will probably find it easier to settle a car insurance claim.
ALL HR and IT to be handled out of New Mexico.

- Batchmaster
11/29 Ab i was wondering about a wildland fire class i need. I need S 231..
I can't seem to find it anywhere; can you help?...
Please email some info..
11/29 Don't bother with AD. Sign on with a small local fire department that does wildland on the side. You get paid ($50) double or almost triple what ADs get and the local Municipal fire department also takes home 15%. We do this all the time in socal. Santa M<snip> is a good little firefighting community. Check er out.

I know some of you former dyed in the wool public servants will balk at this, but it's the cost of doing business where we are.


11/29 About the proposed AD pay rates for 2005--

I put together a table of 25 commonly used AD positions, comparing the 2003/2004 AD rates with the proposed 2005 rates. It is attached as an .php file. (Ab inserted it.) I selected the 25 positions BEFORE I looked at the rates. I did not select positions based on the change in the rate.
Pay Rate Comparison of Some Frequently Used AD Positions
2003/2004 vs. the Draft 2005 Rates (proposed 11/17/2004)  
Position 2003-2004 Classification, (48 States) AD: 2003-2004 Rate 2005 Classification (48 states) 2005 Rate Change, 2003 to 2005
Air Tac. Gr. Supv. 5 $24.00 J $21.36 ($2.64)
Asst. Area Commander 5 $29.00 L $28.16 ($0.84)
Base Camp Manager 4 $14.60 E $13.52 ($1.08)
Crew Boss 4 $14.60 F $14.76 $0.16
Demobe Unit Leader 5 $24.00 F $14.76 ($9.24)
Dispatch Recorder 2 $11.68 C $11.16 ($0.52)
Div/Gr Supervisor 5 $24.00 I $19.40 ($4.60)
Engine Boss 4 $14.60 F $14.76 $0.16
Equipment Manager 4 $14.60 E $13.52 ($1.08)
Faller, Class A 3 $12.84 D $12.32 ($0.52)
Faller, Class C 5 $24.00 H $17.56 ($6.44)
Firefighter, T. 1 3 $12.84 D $12.32 ($0.52)
Firefighter, T. 2 2 $11.68 C $11.16 ($0.52)
GIS Tech. Spec. 5 $21.00 G $16.08 ($4.92)
Helicopter Manager CWN 5 $24.00 G $16.08 ($7.92)
IC T. 3 5 $24.00 J $21.36 ($2.64)
IC T. 4 5 $21.00 F $14.76 ($6.24)
Ordering Manager 4 $14.60 E $13.52 ($1.08)
Safety Officer T. 2 5 $26.00 K $23.48 ($2.52)
Safety Officer T. 3 5 $21.00 H $17.56 ($3.44)
Section Chiefs T. 1 5 $29.00 L $28.16 ($0.84)
Section Chiefs T. 2 5 $26.00 K $23.48 ($2.52)
Status/Check In Rec. 2 $11.68 E $13.52 $1.84
Strike Team Leader 5 $21.00 G $16.08 ($4.92)
Task Force Leader 5 $21.00 G $16.08 ($4.92)
Unit Leaders (most) 5 $24.00 H $17.56 ($6.44)
AVERAGE CHANGE:     ($2.96)
(red numbers in parenthesis are negative numbers)      

Here are some highlights (or lowlights):

Of 25 positions:

--22 of the 25 positions have reduced rates.
--The reductions ranged from $0.52 to $9.24 an hour.
--The changes in the 3 positions that increased ranged from $0.16 to $1.84 per hour.
--The average change of the 25 positions was a reduction of $2.96 per hour.

The draft 2005 AD Pay Plan is out for "comment" right now, but the cover letter says: "Comments should be limited to issues that might prevent implementation or use of the pay plan." It sounds like they consider the pay rates to be etched in stone.

The 2003/2004 rates were already very much too low. Now, instead of improving them, there's an almost across the board reduction--as much as $9.24 an hour in one case.

What can we do? We can write our congressmen, and also support the AD Firefighter association.


The AD Firefighter Association has a permanent link on the Classifieds page if you want to find it easily later.
There's a "Practical" link to your Senate and House Representatives on the Links page under federal. Ab.

11/29 Good morning alll... just have to do a healthy bit of venting. This place is so perfect for that. And I'm so terrible at following the board so forgive me if I rehash an old subject...

Well, here's my story - Today I saw a forecast for Santa Anas over 40 mph for S. CA (not sure how accurate it was based on the source) and thought, "well, surely I can find out if that will be an issue by checking the south ops (ca) INTELLIGENCE site! No doubt the latest information on fire potential will be there." Well, it wasn't, and there was no explanation as to why. I looked for fire potential graphs, and found that the latest were posted November 9 although the site says they'd be updated weekly. I guess it rained, but it's hard to tell what's happened since from the site. So then I thought, well, I'll look at the monthly outlook and see what the thoughts were then. The immediate monthly outlook link from the site takes me to a July outlook. Then I checked the archives to see if any had been done since July, and the archive link no longer takes you to a list of reports from the year but to the October monthly outlook (later than July, so I guess that's good???). The 2004 seasonal outlook archive link takes you to the monthly archive page, which is out of date. So the latest monthly outlook I could find was two months old.

Concluding that no other useful intelligence could be found there, I am giving up. Lord only knows where the other links go to. I can't believe in this day and age that this is the state of things in the busiest geographic area in the country and busiest wildfire zone in the world. There - I said it, out loud. What's going on down there? (certainly don't ask the intelligence staff, I guess...)

How long is that site going to be temporary, anyway? Let's see, it's been, what, two years now? So much for cutting edge!

'nuff said. Be safe-

11/29 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated as are the 0401 listings (link on jobs page). The Los Padres still has a bunch of openings but their job listings close tomorrow. Ab.
11/29 Ab,

Here's the AD pay plan Draft......... currently out for review.
AD Pay Plan Draft Review Letter
AD Pay Plan Draft

11/29 Dear DS:

Thanks for your post regarding the portal to portal legislation. Your comments and concerns are not uncommon among federal employees of all occupations that are, for the most part, at the mercy of a bureaucratic agency run by folks with little, if any, practical experience in the occupations they manage.

For years I helped lobby congress for pay reform for federal firefighters. For those same years, the Department of Defense claimed to be too poor, didn't have enough money to reform firefighter pay, let alone properly staff their fire departments, blah, blah, blah. In 1998, Department of Defense federal firefighters finally realized some semblance of pay reform despite DoDs whining and after we demonstrated clearly to congress the need for such reforms and by also demonstrating the DoD literally loses (as in "gee, it was here yesterday") hundreds of millions of dollars each year. We argued then, as we do now, that if these agencies managed their money properly and re prioritized their spending habits, there would be plenty of money for everyone.

Even then our efforts were met by some firefighters fearing RIFs, layoffs, less hours equating to less pay etc. The Department of Defense fueled such rumors deliberately.

My point is that there is sufficient funds for this. The FS can complain, but the fact of the matter is your lack of staffing has nothing to do with a lack of money, it has everything to do with recruitment and retention and the FS failing to adequately ask for the appropriate amount of money it needs. Time and again this session of congress, the FS was derided by members of congress for having to borrow from other programs because it did not seek the funds it needed. Whether that was a deliberate tactic by those at the FS in Washington DC who are political appointees trying to save their jobs, I don't know.

Furthermore, it is our contention, backed up by volumes of data we have provided to congress over years and years, that properly compensating federal wildland firefighters will have peripheral advantages, not the least of which will save the American taxpayer money. That is always something congress wants to hear. However to illustrate that point, we must provide them with the facts of how much contractors cost the government and how much cooperators cost, inclusive of back fill costs, administrative fees etc.

Our point is really quite simple. If you properly compensate federal wildland firefighters (i.e. inclusive of portal to portal), whose hourly rates of pay are already far less than contractors and cooperators, you make a positive impact on recruitment and retention. Do that and you start realizing properly staffed units. Do that and the FS is less reliant on many price-gouging, for profit contractors, and less reliant on cooperators whose folks can make $100,000 a year in OT courtesy of the federal government while that same government takes you off the clock for 8 out of every 24 hrs.

As a result, paying federal wildland firefighters portal to portal while on emergency incidents would cost less than what is paid for suppression under the current system and actually save the government money.

As for bidding on your own jobs...over my dead body. It's unfortunate that folks like Bosworth and Blackwell have so little practical fire experience and fail to do what's right for their employees. If they won't, the FWFSA will. Ignorance is bliss. If you haven't spent time in any fire service, you wouldn't know that even way back in the 20th century, professional firefighters were, and still are, paid for sleep time on duty. Maybe its time the FS catch up to the 20th & 21st centuries!

You deserve every benefit we can get for you and we are convinced our friends on Capitol Hill will eventually instruct the FS to deliver those benefits to you. And, if the FS balks or feel they don't want to take care of their firefighters who risk their lives, we'll be sure to get involved in the process the next time a FS Chief is selected.

Forget the rumors, join the FWFSA, become part of the solution, part of the voice. As always, feel free to call me at 916-515-1224 or e-mail me at FWFSAlobby@aol.com.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

It is Ab's opinion that wildland firefighters will not have to bid on their jobs. Right now there is so much going on with the consolidation of financial services -- moving everyone financial who knows the interagency MOUs and the liaison folks behind them to Albuquerque, NM. Fed hands will be full for some time dealing with the outfall from that. We all know what happens when communications break down on a major-rager, and it ain't pretty.

11/28 Forester:
Thanks for the insight into camp life. I grew up as an explorer and have talked with
those guys on different occasions but they never indicated it was dead end job.
Maybe I was too zealous to hear what they were saying. Thanks for spelling it out
for me.

Rogue Rivers:
Thanks, I'll take that and try to run with it.

A sincere thanks for all the help!


11/28 Ab, was 'swirled peas' in your Thanksgiving Day greeting a play on 'world peace'?
I didn't get it until my wife told me to say it out loud. Ya got the recipe for that one?


<haw, haw> yep, and we're working on the recipe. It's an elusive dish but we try every year. Ab.

11/28 In DS's post today he mentioned the following:

"In 2006 we will have to bid on our own jobs (FS) just as our mechanics and IT people already have."

Exactly what did he mean by bidding your own job? I listen to this and it sounds like either competing with the private sector to fill the permanent government position, the employee setting his own wages and responsibilities to compete with someone else for the job he already holds, or that the employee is expected to undervalue his position in order to hold onto it.

Can someone give me a comprehensive explanation of this "plan"? Or at least direct me where to look?

11/28 I have attached the document that I submitted to the Cleveland Fire Management. You can post it to the Awards page if you like. Everyone listed received a Battle Ribbon, Poster and a Special Act Medal ( that Rich Hawkins designed). I believe the other Districts on the CNF did the same thing, but I don't have that information. The document pretty much says it. Many, many, many other heroes that I had no knowledge of should have received commendations.

Rich Hawkins was also awarded a Regional Heroism Award from the Regional Forester.

Just another Cedar Fire person

Ab did post the info to the Awards page.

11/28 Ab:

Thanks for the "Welcome back", I hope things slow down to at least a slow swirl wind so's I can do more and look at the posts a little more in depth. ----- I see Been There also commented on "delivery" of said water along with some good ground rule calculations and advice.

This msg. is actually an Oiiiinnnnnnnnnk, Eurrrrrrrrp! (like in oink oink oink), Thanksgiving was good eaten and bad for my waistline. Oh well, a couple a days and I'll be back to squeeking.

And many thanks again for They Said. It's a great site and serves a multitude of good deeds.

Have Happys, John
11/28 Happy Holidays all, as Disneyland gave free admission to firefighters after the california fire, Knotts is saying thank you to us this year.

Also Mike with Spot Fire Images has updated his web page with some great photos from Alaska, kind of nice to look at these and pump yourself up for next season! www.spotfireimages.com

Stay Safe,
11/28 Just wanted to express an opinion regarding the letter from FWFSA Business manager Casey Judd. First and foremost I would love to see portal to portal pay for federal firefighters. I am one. However, my concern is this and maybe somebody more in the know than me or someone from FWFSA can respond.

Almost every forest in R5 this year was over budget due to being mandated to staff at MEL but didn't receive the funding to do so. On our district we ended up $200,000 in the red even with multiple vacancies. Granted portal to portal would be charged to fires but the money still has to come from somewhere. Will the additional cost of portal to portal result in an eventual RIF?

I'm sure we'll face one anyway considering the increased staffing without the funding to support it, but at what cost will we pay for things like H-pay on Rx burns, portal to portal and so on. Will we cut crews and engines? I'm not even saying this is a terrible thing if the people who do stay get what they deserve but sometimes we need to be careful what we hope for.

In 2006 we will have to bid on our own jobs (FS) just as our mechanics and IT people already have. Will we be competitive if our cost is through the roof due to these new proposals? Again, I'm not bashing the effort, I want portal to portal as bad as the next overworked 1000 hour OT/season hotshot, just some food for thought.


11/28 Does anyone know who manufactures the fire shelter structure wrapping material?
You know, the house sized rolls of fire shelter material.
I can not find anything on where or who I can purchase it from.
Thanks for any helpful info.

Old Crusty Guy
11/28 Firefighting community,

First we would like to thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers, financial support, care and concern during the past six months, it has really been a bumpy ride. Fortunately the hospital, neurosurgeon and MRI clinics have forgiven all of the bills after our insurance and I am getting donated chemotherapy through the mail.

I started taking an oral steroid about a week and a half ago which has decreased the swelling in my brain a lot and has stopped the headache, the throwing up and a lot of the confusion and slowness. I am still taking chemo once a month, I don't experience any side effects from it which is nice.

I have decided not to have any more treatments other than oral chemotherapy. There is no known cure for GBM and I don't want to spend the rest of my life sick and tied to machines. I had considered a clinic in Texas but it would have required me to have a central line and wear an IV pump which would have kept me from FULLY enjoying this winter. This decision did not come easily but considering this may be my last ski season I want to take full advantage of it and I am sure many of you can relate to that. I don't want to stare out the window at the snow all winter.

My wife, daughter and I went skiing yesterday and had a really good time and we are going to be going to Mexico together for a week during Christmas. Who knows what this winter is going to have in store for me. My main concern is just spending as much time as possible with my wife and daughter.

We are putting together a journal for Jordan full of photos, stories and stuff like that so she will have a first hand account of who I am to my friends and family and coworkers. If any of you would like to add something to it that would be good. You can mail it to us at: 1216 NE 9th Street, Bend OR 97701. Thanks for doing that it's pretty important to me. Please feel free to get the message out.

Thank you again for all of your support it has really been nice. If you would like to get a hold of me directly you can e-mail me at mtaylor@bendcable.com.

In Christ, Matt and Kiersten

Our best to you and your family. Ab.

11/28 From Mike

Firefighter accused of setting 3 wildfires
Blazes in summer were on Los Padres National Forest lands where he lived

11/28 The Squirrel, since you are interested in FSA work, the following might also help you:

Firefighter Trainee Exam Notification
Exam R0198B
Filing: 12/02/2004 to 12/04/2004 Only

Entry Level Salary: $3,690.17 per month. Great Benefits and Retirement.

Exam Information

Application Form

Rogue Rivers
11/28 I'm interested in talking w/ contractors who have developed "new" types of fire apparatus.

For example, what have been your experiences getting this new equipment used? For example, how easy is it
to get a piece of equipment that is difficult to classify out on a fire? And does it get used out of
the area? Things I'm talking about are items such as Forwarders modified w/ water tanks, tracked skidgines,
etc? Again, how are your dispatchers classifying a tracked skidgine? It's not a skidgine (the yellow
book says skidgines are rubber tired) and it's not a pumper cat -- where does that fit into ROSS?

Anyhelp /stories would be interesting to me.


11/28 Chat appears to be back up and functioning normally.  Our server host is vague on the problem and remedy, but I can see that the file that saves nicknames was deleted.  I restored a backup file from 8/14, new users from before that date and perhaps some regular users will have to re-register.  My apologies to our regular chatters for any inconvenience!  Original Ab.
11/27 As many of you have already noticed and inquired about, the Chat Room is down!  Don't worry, we haven't kicked anyone out. . .it appears our webhost server is suffering a data capacity problem.  Or in other words, the tech staff is busy sleeping off the turkey and the hard drive filled up.  We'll be working on it, Original Ab.
11/26 Abs

Along with the good questions you asked on Dick Kahler's note about how much water is enough there are some other items to look at.
  • What is the delivery system? If, like a lot of small systems, everything is delivered in 2" pipe then quantity may not make any difference as you can't pump it.
  • If the pipes are good what is the maximum flow rate of the engines from the nearest fire house? Divide their maximum flow rate by the gallons of storage and if they were to be pumping flat out is that a long enough time to handle the problem?
  • Are there adequate connection points for the FD to tie on to?
  • What is the recharge rate of the tank?
  • How is it refilled and if by pumps, how well is the power supply to the pumps protected? There are formulas out there to calculate the required flow rates for a given structure that will give them a good answer to the structural side of the question. The local FD should be able to give them some answers on that side.

They need to look at both sides of the fire picture, wildland and structural and then think about dealing with both of them at the same time. If everyone is not doing their firewise activities, they will be. Remember fire spreads into the wildland as well as into the structures. Think about a house fire in the middle of fire season with the wind blowing.

Been There

11/26 While this is not specifically a Fire Book, it is related somewhat. Also
talks about Storm King and other tragedies from Chiefs perspective.
Explained alot to me about the politics of why things happen in the Forest
Service the way they do. All in all a very good book. I'd rate it 4 saws.

Jack Ward Thomas: The Journals of a Forest Service Chief


It's on my "to read" list. Ab.

11/26 Thanks Abs... and thanks for the 'swirled peas'. I had a good
laugh on that one.

A nephew asked yesterday what I thought was most important
for succeeding in life. I think it's having the ability and wearwithall
to solve problems and the bulldogishness to keep with it.

For thems thats on r&r, have fun, for all others, be safe and as
wheel said, stay engaged.

Tahoe Terrie


The Abs wish all a

Very Happy Thanksgiving.

We have much to be thankful for:
for family of all sorts -- nuclear, extended and fire;
for friends we play with and friends who watch our backs,
friends who teach us, and friends who give us a hug when we need it;
for this country, as omnibus and dysfunctional as our budget process is, the democratic (republican) process still assures peaceful succession from leader to leader;
for our health, and
of course,
for this wildland firefighting community;
as well for FWFSA and
for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation
who work on our behalf.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the fallen and for those struggling with illness or injury. Don't loose heart, extended family. When you need help, ask. You're entitled.

As we give thanks, please remember our military brothers and sisters wherever they serve. When their job is done, may they all come home safely and in one piece to their loved ones.

Thanks for the personal email good wishes behind the scenes.

Oh yeah, and here's to our favorite thanksgiving veggie -- swirled peas -- May we have some soon.

The Abs.

11/25 Re: Dick Kahler, How much water is enough?

I think Ab. suggests some very pertinent questions at the bottom of your post that go into the How Much Is Enough Water calculation.

Having done some “advisory work” on such matters (in Wildland Fire), here’s some additional comments, question - answer - thought process balances you might want to cover.

Above all, there are conditions in which no amount of water is enough. Amen...

With that comment in mind, delivery systems need to be weighed into your planning. 50,000 gallons of stored water where trucks cannot make use of it, or that delivery systems can't reach areas where it may be needed, don’t do much good. (More on this “in text.”)

Is your water storage on hand to be used by members of your private community to fight fire or is it primarily for the use of the fire house people that are 6 to 8 minutes away? (I’m not trying to ignite a “Pro Vs Non-Pro FF squabble here. I’m just relating situations I’ve been involved with.) If your fire plan includes “hands-on” by community members, give thought to at least some domestic type fittings (like 3/4” garden hose thread) for on-the-spot initial attacks. On more than one occasion I’ve seen 20 gallons of water on Immediate Initial Attack make it unnecessary to use that other 49,980 gallons you're keeping in storage.

For the “hands on” community, wet water and/or foam delivery systems can turn 1 gallon of water into 2 or 3 gallons of fire fighting efficiency.

Much of my work involved folks in the rural outback where professional FF might be an hour distant. Because they had a pond they felt they had adequate water supply - which in term of gallons they did - but they were relying solely on the “pros” coming to their rescue. They had no equipment, preparations or knowledge or training about how they could make use of all that water in the event the “pros” were unable to respond.

Hope these thoughts help out with your think tank. Best of Luck.

The Honorable Mouse.

Hi Mouse... Welcome back. Long time no squeek. Ab.
11/25 Lots of things I am thankful for, as I'm sure you are too. Nothing ever is
perfect and we never have enough information. As the agencies keep
changing, pull together and focus forward. We are going to be different,
but we have the chance to craft the result if we stay engaged.

11/25 Squirrel

I'm glad my info helped, now not to discourage you but the FSA's are a dead end. There is no promotional potential what so ever. I will start with the way the camps work. The FSA's are part of the Air and Wildland division which is part of operations, or the fire side. This division includes the camps, paid (FSA's), State inmate (CDC), and juvenile (county probation), air ops., and heavy equipment. The camp foreman are all firefighter specialists or engineers. They have all come from the stations. Superintendents are Captains and Chiefs are Chiefs. As an FSA you can either cut line or be a swamper on a dozer. The only way out is to take the upcoming Firefighter recruit exam, get hired, do your time as a firefighter, move up to firefighter specialist, do your time, and try to get into the camps. The camps are a desirable place to be for many so there is a lot of competition and most guys that are there don't plan on leaving to go back to station life. As I said I don't want to discourage you but that's how it is. There has been Improvements in the program like safety retirement and the benefits are damn good. There is even a push for pay increases. I hope this helps.

11/24 LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS ARE SET BACK: Portal to Portal Legislation not in Congressional Spending Bill

Despite months of effort and last minute meetings between congressional staff and appropriators crafting the Omnibus Spending bill passed this last weekend, the language of H.R. 2963, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act was not included in the final bill voted on and passed by congress.

The FWFSA, the primary sponsor of the bill, had hoped to duplicate its efforts of 2000 when HR 2814, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Pay Fairness Act was passed by being "tucked into" the Omnibus bill of that year. HR 2814 eliminated the overtime pay cap for federal wildland firefighters. Out of 7 federal agencies seeking to have the cap eliminated for its employees, only federal wildland firefighters realized the change in law.

The Portal to Portal legislation received significant bipartisan support. In fact, although it was authored by a Republican, there were more Democrats signed on as cosponsors than Republicans. Additionally, the Civil Service Subcommittee (committee of jurisdiction because the bill required a change to Title 5 of the US Code) was, and is still interested in moving the bill. So, what happened?

First and foremost, staff made it very clear to me that this "set back" had absolutely nothing to do with any opposition whatsoever. The merits of the bill are sound and understood by congress. Nor did the potential for an initial cost (the FWFSA stands firm in its assessment that enacting the bill and paying federal wildland firefighters would actually save taxpayers money) cause alarm.

Unfortunately, it all had to do with politics. According to staff, the leadership wanted to pass a bill that appeared to be austere. This despite the fact that the congress increased the debt ceiling. Additionally, there were simply too many people wanting too many things in the bill.

Often, the leadership will look at an issue and say "looks great, but you'll have to wait for next year." In other cases, "rank has its privileges". So while funding for animal waste studies, wild pigs and shrimp and other nutty "pork" made it into the bill, why not the deserving men and women who protect our natural resources while putting their lives on the line? The very simple answer is that the "pork" is earmarked in the budget for various agencies and departments. It does not require a policy or law change. Our legislation did require a policy/law change as it would have amended Title 5 of the United States Code. As staff said, "sometimes these things take a couple of tries."

One of the differences between this bill and the one that passed in 2000 was that the 2000 bill had a senate version and also had hearings at which the FWFSA testified. Field hearings for the portal to portal bill were originally scheduled for March of '04 in Flagstaff, Arizona. However, as things often do in DC, the schedule changed and it was postponed to September. In another year, September would have been OK. However with an election year, there is a quasi-rule put out by the Ethics Committee that frowns upon (not outright excludes) field (outside of DC) hearings within 60 days of an election. Some committee chairman follow the rule, some don't. In this case, the Civil Service Subcommittee chose to follow the rule and not hold the hearings. Still further, we simply ran out of time trying to work with Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Conrad Burns of Montana to get a senate version introduced.

All that being said, we are assured the bill will be quickly reintroduced after the next congress convenes and that hearings will be scheduled. I will be meeting with the author, his staff and other congressional members during the recess. While we made great strides and damn near got this thing done this session, we want all of you, FWFSA members or not, to know that we are in this fight for the long haul. We will continue to fight for what you all deserve. Additionally, we will seek hazard pay for prescribed burns and work hard to ensure that all of you are properly classified and compensated.

If you know anything about the nutty way congress works, you'll understand that this is simply a set back, not failure. I personally believe we have the juice on Capitol Hill to get this done. However we will need to energize our members and invite new ones to join in and outside of Region 5 so our voices will be heard from all corners of the country.

This legislation benefits more than just the firefighters who are eligible for federal firefighter special retirement provisions. As such, we hope everyone out there will recognize that the FWFSA is working for all of you and that you will choose to become an integral part of our success.

Should anyone have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at FWFSAlobby@aol.com.

To all of you that I respect and admire so much, have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

Thanks for your and FWFSA's efforts. Getting any of this done takes persistence. Carry on. We will prevail. Ab.

11/24 LP hotshots Cedar Fire

MH, the only reason I can think of, why Region 5 would give a pat on the
back to the LP IHC is because they felt guilty about all the crap they gave
that crew over the pictures someone found in their crew carriers.
You are right!! All the crews on the Cedar fire performed well under
really lousy conditions. I know because I was there and saw how they
worked safely and effectively without adequate rest or support.


Someone called and said other IHCs received commendations as well, like the Plumas Shots. Firewolf, what did their citation say? If anyone knows of awards, we're happy to enter them on the Awards page. CedarDIVS and others who fought those fires, good work. What a neckhair-raising time. Ab.

11/24 The Building Dept in Trinity Co requires 2,500 gallons per house for individual interface houses.


11/24 2002 fire Mt. Baldy

I understand you had a large fire there in 2002. How much water storage did you have? How much did you use? Was it all from the fire hydrants?

We live in a private community with our own well and tank and cannot agree as to how much water we should have in storage. Some are saying the 50,000 gallons we have is enough; some of us feel that 200,000 gallons makes more sense. We are 6 to 8 minutes from the closest fire house and there is wild vegetation and oak trees. I cannot imagine a fire fighter saying "dam*, I have too much water?"

Thank you

Dick Kahler
Sonoma, CA

How big is the community? What is surrounding vegetation density like? Thick with ladder fuels? Does everyone have defensible space, fire-retardant roofs and siding, etc, as recommended by Firewise? What about ingress and egress? Labeling on mailboxes? Readers, anyone know volume recommendations for communities of various sizes? Ab.

11/24 Was looking at your book list and thought a movie/film section might be
good. One I would recommend is "fire wars" Im pretty sure it was a NOVA

Interesting site, cool to find an independent site so well put together.


Thanks. We usually announce the heck out'ta films and specials on tv when the community lets us know. Maybe we'll think about a specials/films/movies page.

Little bit of wildlandfire.com management "good-old/bad-old days" trivia: NOVA put in a link to theysaid when the FireWars program first came on. It was flattering, I guess, as flattering as the National Geographic and other specials before that. Downside was that so many new viewers were clicking the link from NOVA that we ended up getting fined by our isp for going over bandwidth. Bandwidth use is beyond our control. We've since moved up to a website with a higher bandwidth ceiling, but those $500+ fines used'ta give us some BIG stomach aches... Ab.
11/24 Greetings on the eve of this Thanksgiving. I hope this Thanksgiving brings
joy, hope and gratitude to all of you.

Matt's condition is pretty much as
it was when I last sent out an update. He had decided to go to Houston to
the Burzynski Clinic to get an experimental treatment has shown good
success with brain tumors. Thanks to all of you, your generosity,
prayers, kindness has made it possible to pay for most of the initial cost
of the $18,000. treatment. Matt and this mother will fly down to Houston,
due to the work and efforts of Vicki Minor and the Wildland Fire Fighter
Foundation, on Nov 29. They will stay there for 3 weeks, while Matt gets
the initial treatment and gets familiar with the routine of getting it.

They will return after three weeks and continue to receive the treatment.
Since it is an experimental treatment, Matt's insurance may not pick up the
additional costs for the treatment until they see if it will be effective.
The monthly cost of the treatment, after his return will be between
$6000-7000. Matt and his family will take things one step at a time. His
attitude is very positive and he will keep fighting. Please remember him
and others in similar predicaments in your prayers.

Thank you all so very much.


Good news Lance. Thanks to all involved including the Wildland Fighter Foundation.

11/23 Hello All, 

I've gotten caught up with posting photo submissions. There are new photos up on Fire 25, a very nice one of the Zulu column and several of a night training brushfire at Ft Lewis. Thanks to Eddie and Ric.

There are also photo additions to Equipment 8 and AirTankers 14 (SEATS and "spotter planes"), compliments of Ric and Mike.

There's a colorful new logo of Ontario Aviation and Forest Fire Management from Bob on Logos 10. Always good to hear from the northland.

Thanks contributors.

11/23 Forester,

Thanks so much for the info. What did you mean by dead end? Aren't there promotional opportunities and whatnot?
I want to work in wildland, yet it seems impossible to pay the bills on seasonal work, that's why I applied to County. Any further suggestions or advice is huge to me right now. Thanks again!

11/23 Hello, to your knowledge, are their any books out on the cedar fire.
I live in escondido, Ca. and watched the cedar from start to finish. As
a little black smoke on that saturday evening to giant red glow it would
be by 1AM. Any how im in seach of any books or fire reports
available. Can you help?

Thank you.

11/23 Grizzly
Alpine insurance in Reno will be happy to arrange insurance for you.

We currently use VFIS, and have used Alaska National, Primedian, And
Lloyds. Insurance is out there. i suggest you call the NWSA and ask
who they currently use. I am sure that there are many other carriers
out there. or contact me directly as we had to cross this bridge a
few years ago.

eric @ pw

NWSA link with contact info is on the Classifieds page. Ab.

11/22 Aberdeen,

Ok let me explain this really simple, i live in missoula and as when you go to get your mou, they now want you to get personal liability insurance to give out pack tests. I have talked to every insurance broker and all say one thing, We have no market for this type of insurance so in turn we cannot cover your pack test business.

Now if this is true that means who ever is in charge can drive the private contractors out and that person can give out the pack tests and take alot of money out of the private sector.

I hope this clears up any confusion

If you dont believe what i am saying, try to put in your apenx A without insurance and see how far you get.

Good luck to all
11/22 Is there a list of all the RHCs etc like the IHC page. I'm after info on what crews are where and how to contact sup's.


Good job on raising $$ for Matt's treatment. Thanks Ab and WFF.

11/22 Ab,

I read your post on cancer and was touched by all that you Abs do for this community.

Matt Taylor, as most of you know, is going down to Houston, Texas for more hopeful treatment.

We at the Foundation, behind the scenes with the Abs, were able to help with some of the airfare and two weeks of motel costs. If we can help with a credit card - we can make it happen, as our cash funds are very low.

I knew that Matt and his family will need spending money for food, taxis, shuttles, and calls home, so I called Levi Brinkley's mom (Levi is one of the firefighters who perished in Storm King). She told me "whatever you need, we and the other parents want to help." She had me call Jon Keslo's Dad, Jon also perished on Storm King. Within 30 minutes the parents of the Prineville Memorial Committee had put $1000 in our bank account to help Matt and his Mom with their expenses.

I am so grateful to be part of the wildland firefighting community. I am grateful to know that these families have such open hands and hearts, after the loss of their own sons and daughters. Many thanks to all of you who have joined the 52 Club. You have made a difference in people's lives.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Vicki, we need you not to bust yer credit card again this year.
Hats off to the Storm King families and others in Prineville who are helping.

I have heard that some folks in R5 are working on getting the word out to various associations, organizations, crews, and teams about the 52 Club as well. The more the better.

A little heads up: Original Ab is working on a Fire Calendar and suggested a dollar from each sale should go to the Foundation. I agree. We'll keep you posted.

One thing that all members of the 52 Club could do to help is to add a note to the bottom of your emails that says: "Member XX of the 52 Club, Wildland Firefighter Foundation." I think one member of NorCal II did that first, but I have seen some other emails with that on the bottom. (You can do that in your email system so it's added as a footer to all emails.) Visibility helps create an organization that is sustained by contributions as a safety net for all.

Firefighters, invite Vicki or Burk to visit your event or training this winter to answer questions about what the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is and what it does. Kick in some travel money. They really are our "funnel" to help our fire family and our extended family. The "power of one" can make a difference.

Vicki, Thanks for all you, Burk and Melissa do! Thanks Community. I'm proud of you all. Ab.

11/22 Ab,

I find it interesting that the LP hotshots got that award for quote " slowing the advance...". I happened to be in the area of the action in question and noticed some other folks doing what I hope was the same thing. The Plumas, Stanislaus, Palomar, and El Cariso crews were also in the area. Why does the region not say anything about those guys. Now don't get me wrong, I know that the LP shots are one of the best crews out there year in and year out but it is certainly curious that they get alot of attention. WHAA, WHAA, WHAA!!!! right.


<haw, haw> Right.

11/22 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated as are the 0401 listings (link on jobs page). The Los Padres still has a bunch of openings.

Mellie has been researching cancer treatments and clinical trials for several people in the fire community. See her post on Familysaid.


11/22 Regarding exposure to radiation at Cerro Grande, I don't know
about that, but Kirk worked hand in hand with Paul on that fire.

AZ backburn

11/22 AZ Firefighter:

I don't know what to tell you about your frustration with the California vs. Arizona system. All I can say is that California consistently has a higher training standard and expectation within the State Fire Training System than most other states. This is not specific to only the fire service. The California Peace Officers Standards and Training system as well as the Credential system for teachers are both more comprehensive than other states.

As far as the SFMO you talked to, I'm not sure about the acronym. If you are referring to a Senior Fire Management Officer or something, that is purely a Federal Forest Agencies rank system (Forestry Tech., AFEO, SFEO, ADFMO, DFMO, AFMO, FMO). CDF uses a traditional west coast fire service rank system. (Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Fire Apparatus Engineer, Captain, Battalion Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief, Chief). As far a his rose colored glasses, I applaud him for promoting the level of training our employees receive, it is true! If AZ firefighters receive as much or more, great!

Good luck with your endeavors. You seem to hang your hat on the 56 hour work week. If you are committed to that, don't look at CDF. We work the 72 hour 3 on / 4 off. Most of us love that schedule as it has set days off all year. Additionally, with a two platoon shift, vs. three platoon, we only work two more days a month than someone on a 56. Good luck!

11/22 Ab,

We've added more Cramer Fire documents to the Colorado Firecamp website. www.coloradofirecamp.com/Cramer/index.php

In addition to the Management Evaluation Report, we now have the un-redacted Findings section and Appendix E from the Factual Report. The Causal and Contributing Factors pages are now linked to the specific findings upon which they are based.

Also posted is the full text of the OSHA investigation citations and the USFS response.

Here's a topic for training: Both Appendix E and OSHA Citation 2 discuss the 10 & 18. They agree that all 10 Orders were violated at Cramer, although they give somewhat different explanations of how and by whom. Appendix E says only 9 Watch Out situations were present, while OSHA says 14 should have been mitigated. Which is right?

vfd cap'n

I added that link and Mellie's 11/5 post on the legal process associated with the Cramer fatalities to our Documents Worth Reading page. Ab.

11/21 Grizzly, The regions canceling MOUs isn new news. In R6 for
Example, MOUs are administered by the ODF side of PNWCG, Ed is merely
cleaning house of all the one person and ill equipped training
associations, that provide training and allowing the reputable
associations play.

They specified clearer MOU terms and ask for more documentation on
instructors, and have the caveat to monitor any / all training they
wish too. Another item coming down the pipeline is RFD training may
not be acceptable to meet position requirements for the Interagency
Engine / Tender Agreement. There is more discussion due, but it
looks like RFD training will not be accepted due to the huge
variation in what one agency does compared to another.

As far as pack tests go for the private side. NPI of NW Washington
was awarded a contract to administer and monitor pack tests for the
R6 Engine Tender Agreements. In the beginning it was abugger with
logistics, but this next year looks like it will go smoother. NPI is
a reputable company and

They also contracted out the Apparatus inspections to two agencies.
One in Oregon, and another in Washington. This was a good
improvement over the previous system. It frees up a hundred or so FS
employees region wide to keep doing their day jobs in the spring and
makes a more uniform inspection process.

10 years ago the R6 agreement data table was a page and a half, and
had 80-90 pieces of gear on it. Now there is in excess of 700 pieces
of equipment listed. I agree that there are major problems with
issuing Emergency Equipment Rental Agreements - EERAs as a
pre-season contract, but the regions are doing what they can to cope
with growing work loads, and shrinking budgets.

This probably helps little but its my two cents worth.

Another privateer
11/21 Grizzly - as we used to say in the US Army Signal Corps: SAY AGAIN!!

I couldn't really follow the train of thought in your last posting about MOUs and the Pack Test.

Can you explain in more detail?

11/21 Hello Ab- I happened across this lately on the Internet...

It's pretty sad.

Have a great Thanksgiving.


From AboutMyJob.com......... <snip>

Readers, you can go read it if you like, I'm fairly certain the person has never fought fire and is simply trying to give wildland firefighters a bad name. Drivel... sure wouldn't waste any emotion on it. Happy Thanksgiving yerself, Mike! Ab.

11/21 Can any fallers recommend good gloves for chain saw use?
Kevlar gauntlets? I'm in R5.


11/21 R5r , best of luck & speedy recovery for your friend.

Speaking from experience, sometimes job security needs keep us from
sharing our health issues before surgery or other medical intervention is

>smoke, fatty foods, genes, etc, stats be dammed. it happens; same
as other unexpected life threatening diseases that no one can get a handle
on the "why".

To all: maybe we've met, maybe not & it's my loss to have not met you.
best wishes!

Happy Thanksgiving!
northzone (dislikes turkey more than green ham)
11/21 The LA Times on Nov 21 has a cover of Smokey with a Chainsaw and an
article by Lee Green on the FS. Not a pretty picture painted but how true it is.

Seldom Seen
11/20 To all fire fighters and private sector fire fighters,

I have found that certain region people are trying to get rid of us mou's
in the private sector.
I have been trying to put on pack tests but can not find personal liability
insurance like they require.
In tail this would put certain officials in a position to gain control of all
pack tests and we would never know who would be qualified to be on
the fires.

This needs to be stopped.
If you have comments on this or have any information please speak up
so we can stop the senseless deaths of firefighters.

11/20 Squirrel

I don't know what is going on with the FSA test but being in band two is not necessarily a bad thing. I know that the regular county test for firefighters is now into band three. You also don't know how big band one is. It may not be very big. Usually the county will go through band two before running another test. So be patient it could take a while but I would guess you have a chance. In the mean time the county, that is L.A County Fire will be accepting applications for Firefighter Recruits in December. Check the LA County Fire Department web site for info on filing. Another point to consider is that the last time the county ran a firefighter test was in 1997. I believe the last FSA test was a few years old. Also there has been talk of getting FSA's additional points when they have applied for the firefighter test so apply for it. It may work to your advantage. The FSA program is a good one but a dead end.

Anyone interested in applying with LA County Fire can pick up an application at any county fire station or I believe it can be downloaded from the Department web site. The County of Los Angeles Department of Human Resources web site will also post the announcement.

Good Luck

11/20 Good Morning Wildland Firefighters.

It's sunny where I am, a touch of frost overnight, woodstove crackling merrily. I hope all you Westerners are able to wind down from the season or that you've already made the transition, and that all you easterners "be safe" as your deciduous woods burn. Watch for falling snags. Santa Anas when they come in socal, we know they shout watchout.

For those lucky enough to be with family, hug 'em hard, let 'em know you love 'em. Count your many blessings.
For those going thru trials and tribulations, know that you're part of this community and we support each other. You're not alone.

The support and information that is passed behind the scenes here never ceases to amaze me. At this time of the year, what actually gets posted is like the tip of the iceberg. If anyone has info on increased cancer incidence in firefighters who fought fire at Cerro Grande, please email Ab. I know there was a push some time back for documenting exposure and failure to inform firefighters of risk when the fire was burning. As people retire, the details could be lost. We need to not let that happen. I know Paul Gleason was at Cerro Grande, was Kirk Smith there? Any others with cancer?


11/19 Hey Ab:

Rich went back into the hospital for the next stage of his heart plumbing "fixing." I don't know all the details since I wasn't able to talk with him prior to his going in to the hospital. But it was planned and necessary.

Privately, he didn't want anyone to know about any this ordeal, but I have overridden him. And he has been getting a lot of support via cards, calls, and messages. And I know he enjoys them.

I'll let you know when he's out and how he's doing.

Thanks - R5r
11/19 CDF TRUE:

Thanks for the info. I understood the progression of events for CDF FF II credit. I guess I am just let down to see that for me to really get considered, I need to go work in CA or become a paramedic. However, how do I leave my state to go work in CA and make a living for my family and make all the bill payments, without leaving my 56 hour full time FD job?

As a part of the NWCG and national fire system, I have fought fire in other states. I have plenty of structural/EMS and HAZ MAT experience as well. But, my point is, I don't seem to get any credit for it. Basically, I was told I don't get ANY structure credit, since the CA SFMO doesn't "recognize" my structural certs. My NWCG stuff does count, as well as my NREMT. Seems odd that CA has to think the CA system is "better" or more intense. The SFMO person I spoke with "bragged" about the level and amount of training their FFs get, yet in my state, we actually had much more (academy and CE). It seemed that individual had on rose colored glasses and didn't bother to even imagine there could be other good/great fire departments outside CA. I am not bitter, I would just love to work where I grew up, and with CDF, which is where I always really wanted to work (call me weird). Riverside county would be great...I grew up there.

Anyway, thanks again for your info.!
11/19 To AZ Firefighter:

I am sorry to hear your frustration with getting in the door in CDF. I have worked for the department for many years and have a tremendous amount of pride in our Red Army. We are not perfect, but it is truly a great career, with excellent pay and benefits. I will try to offer you some advice. First of all.........AB......your information is only half right. It is true that CDF hires alot of Paramedics to work in our schedule A program (over half our guys work in Schedule A contracts), and most guys looking for the permanent spot go that route....which would put you in one of more than 50 Schedule A contracts around the state. Examples are Riverside County in Southern California, but Nor Cal holds impressive contracts as well such as Butte County, Cameron Park , South Santa Clara County, Napa County, Fresno County, etc.

As far as Foresters moving into the fire ranks, this is a sore subject with most of us, but in reality, only 16 moved over statewide. Most went back to their prior jobs. The additional 11 or 12 foresters being hired right now are on Prop. 40 federal grant funding and are temp. employees for 5 years with no fire protection responsibilities (Thank Goodness).

The State Fire Training System is a bit of a monster, and although CDF / SFM operate as one department, State Fire Training has not changed their policies or procedures. Example....when a CDF employee takes a CFESTES class, they (or more likely, the department) pays the same fee as a firefighter from a local government department. It is, unfortunatly, a system that will not change until there is a major CDF / OES / SFM reorg. or consolidation. There has to be a dominate player to make the changes. This may come sooner than people think. (wait until Jan. 1st, 2005)

As far as helping you with career pursuits in CDF, here is what we are primarily looking for at the FFII / FFII Medic or Engineer Rank. The supplemental application has areas that are weighted differently, but here is a rough estimate in order of importance. This application would be followed by a unit level interview.

1. CDF Experience (Schedule A / B, Helitack)
2. Formal Education (B.A. or minimum of A.S.)
3. Certified California FFI Academy with CSFM FFI certificate ( Butte, Delta, Dominguez Hills, Crafton, etc.,etc.)
4. ICS Courses (at this level, 200 and some 300 level courses completed)
5. California State Fire Marshal Fire Officer Series
6. CFESTES or FSTEP courses ( Haz Mat Tech, Confined Space Tech., Swiftwater Tech.)
7. Volunteer or other paid firefighting experience

You are going to have to bite the bullet and get some California Certifications if you want to work in California. This will be the same for us as well as any local government department in California. Good luck and if you need any help, feel free to stop into any CDF station.

11/18 Abs

These photos were taken by the Sequoia Kings staff during the memorial for
Dan Holmes in Reedley CA

See attached files:

Awaiting procession & Awaiting Arrowhead-
Lined up and waiting for Arrowhead

Arrowhead crew entering the line of mourners-
From Right Brit Rosso Crew Supt., Delina Burke Dan's mom, Matt
Holmes Dan's Brother, Jules Sautter Dan's girl friend

Arrowhead passing through the assembled personnel-

Arrowhead crew buggy in the line-

Kaage and group-
Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks FMO Bill Kaage conducting the memorial.

Been There

Thanks, Been There. I put them on Dan's Memorial Page. I also put links on the photo description page to the Arrowhead Shots memorial page for Dan and to the DanHolmes.org website. Ab.
11/18 Current optimist,

In many areas the 462 series gets locality pay, 401 does not.

You can see what that will do.

I hope you stay an optimist this org will need some on its downward spiral!

Eternal pessimist
11/18 Current Optimist, There is no location or area pay adjustment for Series 401 like for the Forestry Tech series.

Mollysboy, I appreciate the comments.

Former Optimist

11/18 Wildland firefighter community:

Matt Taylor will be going to Houston for treatment after Thanksgiving - in about 2 weeks.
Thanks to Matt's family, to Lance and the Prineville IHC, to Vicki at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and to the praying, wishing, hoping, dreaming fire community for keeping hope alive. You can make a donation to the Foundation to help cover the costs. To do that by phone, call 208-336-2996.

We pray for a success. We are Eternal Optimists in this regard.
The Abs.

11/18 Former Optimist: can you please tell us where you got the information on the 401
pay cut? I don't see how an agency can take someone that has been in a job for
years, require them to get lots of additional training, then cut their pay! That seems
like grounds for a major lawsuit....

Current Optimist
11/18 Another one, going down the road............................


Please find attached the Initial 209 for the Raley Incident.. A final
209 will be posted on Dec 31, 2004.. Go Go Go !!!!!!!

(See attached file: Raley_209.rtf)

Good luck, Ron! Ab.

11/18 I heard that Ron Raley (Deputy Director R5) is retiring as are Dan White and Larry Wright (Plumas).


11/18 To anyone familiar with CDF:

I've been a full time municipal firefighter for over 9 years with 5 years of wildland experience. I am ENBG, EMTB/NREMT, FALA, ICT4(T). I am also a Haz, Mat. Technician, and teach at the junior college level the S-130/S-190 curriculum.

I applied to CDF for a full time job. Yes, even though I have a great municipal job, running 7-15 calls a shift, I wanted to go back where I'm from and try CDF. But, they wont hire me, or give me ANY structural credit. State Fire Marshal doesn't recognize the state certs. from my state next door. I trained in a VERY respected fire department academy for 15 weeks, and got IFSAC and NFPA firefighter I and II certs.

Just curious. I would have really liked to get hired somewhere in So CAL, But, with all my experience, I guess I am still not attractive??


As I understand it... Gotta have yer medic cert these days. As the dept has downsized, they've been picking up the foresters and shifting them to fire to keep them employed. I probably have incomplete info, so you CDFers chime in. Ab.

11/18 Gordo,

I have a few ideas for you as far a new equipment fire apparatus. In the rural areas of California alot of the VFD and combination depts. are going to a type 2/3 engine basically it is a 4 door cab on a smaller chassis than a normal type 2 but it has all the same large hose bed, ladders, 500 gallon water tank, master stream, and some have up to 1250 gpm pumps. Its alot of stuff to put on a small truck but it worked great and it is street legal weight wise. I know that I-ONE makes a couple and so does WEST-MARK check them out and see what you think. They are cheaper than a type 1 and can fight both structure and wildland fires...

11/18 Hey all,

I haven't posted in a long while.
If I may impose upon you all for a bit of insight. (since insight and experience run rampant here.)
Does anyone know the situation with LA County FSA hiring? I got on band 2 and am thinking
I'll never get a call. Maybe I should have done better to earn a call? I dunno. Any kind of
advice on this is needed greatly. Thank you all so much in advance.

11/18 Former Optimist - venting is good.....it's what keeps Mt. St. Helens from having a massive blowout......just like us real people!

Another perspective about the firefighter liability issues on wildfires: much of where we are today is a result of what has happened since South Canyon. In 1994, Chief Jack Ward Thomas stood up and accepted full responsibility for the 13 USFS fatalities, even though it happened on a BLM fire; they were his troops, and he was Chief! Ever hear of Harry Truman's sign that "the buck stops here"? That was real leadership, and JWT exercised it.

Fast forward to 2001 on Thirtymile, where the current Chief made the Investigation team re-look their findings relative to the accountability of the folks that died for their own deaths, coupled with the active pressure by the parents & spouse, as well as members of the US Congress. Somebody else was at fault!

Now, in 2003 on the Cramer Fire, Regional Forester Jack Troyer announces to the parents that "your sons did not contribute to their own deaths". So, let's blame someone, and not get the parents or US Congresspeople mad at us!

So, with multiple years of training and experience, the two young men had never heard of the 10 & 18, or LCES; never saw the IRPG and its help in turning down unsafe assignments? Someone else should hang?

I believe that the TOP leadership of the USFS is trying to operate in "blameless mode", but I don't include the folks in F&AM (both in the WO or at NIFC) under that blanket. They're all experienced on-the-ground fire people who have been in similar situations, and did the best they could under the given circumstances. I hope they all recognize the fallacy of trying to assess blame in a constantly changing environment where nothing is "for sure" before you make a decision or take an action.

All that said, I too am taking a hard look inward to decide if I want the increased risk of liability that seems to be the new "norm" on wildfires and prescribed burns. It's not about more pay, portal to portal, motels or any other short term economic gain; rather, its about my willingness to subject myself and my family to the stresses and financial risks that one mistake, omission or bad judgment might bring.

The "right" answer lies within each of us: I haven't found it inside myself yet!

11/18 the GOAT,
The most popular are the Makalu and the Glacier. They meet the standard set forth in the "Red Book" aka Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation. 8", Leather, Vibram type sole.

11/18 Implications of the Cramer Fire "possible lawsuits" resulting from the DOJ investigation... and other current "crap"

I wonder how far this process will be taken... Now that its started and plea bargains seem to be occurring in secret (non disclosure) will that threat of "take our deal or pay the big bucks and possibly do the jail time" come up over and over again? Will DOJ repeatedly pressure people into resigning rather than fight charges they might be found not guilty of? Where will it stop? Will an engine capt be responsible for their crewmember who doesn't fasten their seat belt? or a newbie seasonal ff that smokes some pot or drinks some alcohol and gets themself killed? He*l, with all the PC human resources restrictions in place you can't even fire incompetents, slackers, jerks if they know how to work the system. I heard of a mechanic guy (non-fire) last week who 15 yr ago was busted for growing pot at home, had stolen electrical things from the FS shop, and he wasn't fired... he was put on disability! In my observation its even harder today than 15 yr ago to dismiss loosers.

Ab, sorry for venting. I know I'm preaching to the choir. I just feel some despair that the system is breaking down beyond repair. There were close calls during the SoCal Firestorm. We all did the best we could and followed our training. We did not have time to complete all checklists or in my opinion someone would of died. If a fed had died I'm sure that firefighter's supt would be facing the threat of jail time or a resignation with loss of retirement benefits. A study was done to show it was our intent to follow our training. The WO has disregarded it. They are OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY. They should not be surprised when the next fire hits socal if no ICs are willing to fight it. I can see it now... pull everyone back and watch. Already teams are called in to fight fires that the forests used to handle. And congress wonders why the costs are so high. Pay now or pay more later. Support the troops or none will sign up. A firefighter draft?

SoCal Fed firefighters are moving on to county or city employment. Did you see the list of openings on the Los Padres? Look at the jobs page. Mid level Federal wildland firefighters on the interface don't make enough to buy a house in CA. To become "professional" (Series 401) you have to take a mandatory cut in pay. Liability insurance is a tax that doesnt protect you from jail time. FF are expected to put ALL on the line for our jobs with no backup. The only organizations that really selflessly support us are the FWFSA, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and theysaid. Thanks to everyone helping.

I worry about who will train the new kids with so many going. And I still feel guilty that when a close call came I lost situational awareness and in a moment was more worried about loosing my career, my retirement, my family than about the ff under my command who made a bad choice.
Ab, sorry again for the venting.

Former Optimist

Yer welcome. Venting allowed. Thanks for your contributions to fire. What's needed to improve the system, reduce distracting thoughts and increase retention seems pretty clear. Ab. (We'll be in touch.)

11/18 Ab,
In response to the Old Fire Guy:

The narrowband mandate on our Federal frequencies, 162-174 MHz, will
provide us with additional frequencies. The new C7 repeater pair,
additional Air-To Ground channels, and additional Tactical channels are
benefits we have already seen this season. Yes, the FCC will sell or
provide additional channels down below our frequencies when those users go
narrowband. Our fire and law enforcement cooperators will be the primary
beneficiaries of these frequencies when they go narrowband from 2007 to
2015 depending upon their licenses. They all will be going narrowband in
the future.

The narrowband signals can be received by the wide band receivers
with a small reduction in volume and a slight increase in noise. This has
not been a problem. The problem occurs when wideband transmitters go into
narrowband receivers. The wide signal and higher deviation overloads the
receiver causing distortion or even shutting down the receiver.

After December 31, it will be, with very few exceptions, unlawful to
transmit a wideband signal on a narrowband channel. Since 1995, all new VHF
radios that have been Type Accepted for sale in the United States have had
narrowband capability, and can be programmed to comply with the
regulations. Currently, most Federal agencies have policies (that, in some
cases, are not being followed) to replace all radios after 5-7 years of
use. Most of us get a new computer every 3-5 years, and radios are under
the same type of lifetime replacement.

Most of our cooperators like the local VFDs will still be wideband
on their channels and we can have their channels programmed in wideband
mode in our radios. However, they will need to make sure that their radios
will do the proper narrowband transmit before they can use our frequencies
in their radios. If their radios are wideband only, then they cannot use
those radios on the Federal frequencies.

Digital is happening. A large percentage of the repeater
infrastructure now in place is running in dual mode. It will pass
narrowband analog as narrowband analog and it will pass digital as digital.
(if your analog squelch opens with a strong signal that sounds like a hiss,
someone is using digital). The new P25 radios can decode either signal if
they are programmed to do multimode, and it would be transparent to the end
user. As far as propagation goes, it is virtually identical to narrowband.
It will be totally clear until it drops out. At the signal level that
causes the signal to drop on the digital, analog is too noisy to pass
traffic also. The usual tricks to try and improve the signal work the same
– hold the radio so the antenna is vertical and above your head; move to a
higher location; use an external antenna; with your truck broadsides to the
signal, stand about an arms length away and use the truck as a reflector;

Very good point on saying NO to partial communications, after all, if
you remove communications from LCES you get LES(S). Good planning ahead of
the season, training, system testing and having backup equipment will help
minimize the effects of the recent USFS ISO system.

NV Jim
11/18 Ab,
Along with the other NFs, we're struggling with the radio mandates. Here
are some points (as explained to me):
  1. Narrow banding......FCC wanted to sell additional frequencies. This
    was made possible by mandating our move from "wide band" to "narrow band".
    As I understand it, it is sort of like requiring "fine tuning" radio system
    to prevent slop over into someone else's frequency.

    Challenge......narrow band radios are supposed to work okay with
    older "wide band" equipment, but that's not proven to be the case. We have
    had greater incidence of loss of communications. Solution has been to
    make a total change to an entire unit rather than try to mix components.
  2. Digital.......another mandate for the Forest Service.
    Advantage: When you have a signal, it is crisp and clear (analog
    can receive a scratchy, noisy signal).

    Disadvantage: Works in a straight line......no "bending over the
    horizon" like with analog. Bottom line, you've either got a signal, or
    you don't.

    Additional challenges: Many of our cooperators are sticking with wide
    band, analog systems. Solving that will be on a local basis.

    Also, our elimination of IT services may mean we are left with contracting
    out for "radio" service. Assuming some national forests are located in
    rural or remote areas (who'da thunk it?).......finding a local radio
    service may prove a challenge. Hey, we'll just wait 72 hours for someone
    from a metropolitan area to drive up.

    And in the meantime........we'll have to be firm in saying "NO" to "make do
    with only partial communications". We'll risk the resource loss, but not
    our firefighters' safety.

Folks, feel free to correct me if I've got some of this wrong. I am in
no way, shape or form a communications wizard.

Old Fire Guy

11/18 Hutch and Rich Hawkins,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you both! Get well very soon

M. Rohde
"Contract County Guy"
11/18 Someone has contacted us asking about the firefighter safety issues involved in the current push for digital radio technology. Good communication is necessary for a safe assignment. I know we have had posts on the subject and I know the issue is very important. I don't remember the main points. I don't want to search the archives.

Could those of who participated in the discussions or have an interest or pertinent experience help us out here? Here's the assignment:

Please remind us of the issues and/or let us know about any problems encountered with digital radio technology that might affect firefighter safety. Please consider how digital radio use affects communication among handcrews, engine crews, the air show, overhead? And anything else you'd like to throw in. Do you think the use of digital technology at this time is the way to go? If not, what has to be addressed before it could be?

Thanks, Ab.

11/18 Hello, my name is Mike Reekers, I am a student at American University in
Washington, DC. I am writing a research paper on President Bush's
Healthy Forest Initiative and I am looking for information from
organizations that have extensive knowledge on the policy. I have
written five particular questions on the issue, and if possible I would
greatly appreciate if anyone from your organization could take a short
amount of time to answer any of them.

1) Many groups argue the Healthy Forest Initiative gives free reign to
timber industries to the National Forests and other reserves where fire
control isn't necessary. Is there validity to this claim, and if so what
are some of the details surrounding it?

2) One requirement of the policy is fuel reduction around communities.
Has the policy been successful in addressing this goal?

3) Has the policy had any major changes to environmental law regarding
the national forests or forests in general?

4) What is the appropriate action needed in the thinning process to
reduce the spreading of wildfires, and does the HFI properly accomplish

5) Does the HFI successfully reduce the risk of communities against
wildfires? If not, what could be done to improve it?

If nobody has the time to answer any of the questions, then I would
greatly appreciate any information you could send me on the issue. My
address is 5325 Westbard Avenue, Bethesda MD 20816. Thank you again and
I appreciate the time you have taken to read my letter.


11/17 Gordo

Contact Chief Murphy from Foothill Volunteer Fire District (NorCal) at (530)
675-2383. Chief Murphy has a wealth of knowledge in volunteer company
operations, applying for grants and development of fire equipment.


Ab is passing info behind the scenes as well.

11/17 A more recent update on Matt Taylor's condition. I spent the afternoon
with Matt last Wed. His spirits were good, and he was positive. He is
significantly slower in making reasoning decisions, but seems fine
physically, though his energy level is a little slow. At this point in his
treatment, the oncologist wants to stop the chemo, since it is apparently
not being effective. He wants to treat the symptoms instead, which will
mean an increase in decline as the brain tumor has nothing to slow it.
Matt's friends and family have noticed a marked decline. About every
fourth meal is being rejected by his body. The latest MRI has shown that
there are definitely lesions on the right side of the brain, and the
radiologist estimates at the growth rate that Matt has about 6 months. I
believe he can still be cured. I will continue to send him my prayers as I
know you all will.

Matt is considering going down to Houston to try an experimental treatment
that has shown decent success. Matt's wife, parents, family and friends
wanted tell me to extend all their gratitude to all your prayers and gifts
of the heart and generosity you all have shown. Please pass this on to
anyone who has helped, is or may be interested.



Ab note: Donations of federal leave time would be very helpful for Matt and his family. For info on how to do that, email Ab. If you want to make a monetary donation to help with his treatment, make a check out to Matt Taylor and send it to Lance for deposit in Matt's account.

Lance Honda
Prineville Hotshots
3160 NE 3rd St
Prineville, OR 97754

Our hopes and prayers abound for all decisions made by Matt and his family to continue the good fight for his life. Some of the experimental work offers profound results and a turnaround is seen in 3 weeks if it is the "right" treatment. This Ab and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation are exploring ways to help meet Matt's expenses if the experimental treatment route is taken.

11/17 Gordo;

I hear you, my friend…I’m in much the same position. A couple of things I’ve seen work really, really well: 1,800 or 2,000 gallon tenders/tankers work great for both wildland and structure. Smaller than that and it’s not really worth it, bigger than that and you lose so much maneuvering time it’s not worth the extra thousand gallons. One set-up I’ve seen a well-trained crew do wonders with is an 1,800 gallon tender with multiple porta-tanks and Shoemaker (very cool jet suction device…not sure how widely used they are). Depending on what kind of flows you’re pushing, you can drop one person and a supply engine at your fill site (we use a 1971 pumper which doesn’t go very fast, but it has an amazing 1,250 gpm pump…we just park it by a lake and feed tenders with it), put one engine and a tank farm at your staging site, and with some practice and good shoemaker use you can run your entire water supply with three people, including your driver.

Something I haven’t been real impressed with is the three or four variations on the 500 gallon quick-attack hybrid trucks I’ve seen. It’s a case of one size fits all fits no one well. They’re not much shorter than a Class A, because of the huge pump-and-roll pump set-up, and they really don’t push the volume you need for structure OR the pressure you need for wildland. They look nifty for small interface departments, but I haven’t been impressed in real life. Might work for large-scale hazmat decon, but how many small rural departments do that often enough to merit a designated truck?

One thing we’ve found to be great for all-purpose interface stuff is a fairly standard Type VI wildland engine with a trailer hitch…we set up two trailers, one for hazmat, one for technical rescue. In addition to standard wildland stuff, we’ve sent that engine to structure fires to patrol for spotting into the wildland, we can hook a hazmat decon shower up to it, and we can use it as an anchor for rope rescue, a rehab station, command center, whatever. Works good. We don’t have as much water as it sounds like you do, but it could be cool to set up water rescue or ice rescue trailers as well, or put a snowplow on the front and use the Type VI to clear roads for the bigger stuff behind it.

I’m a huge fan of small and modular…I think we spend too much time on specialized equipment instead of general equipment we can drop specialized packages onto. It sounds like your department has more money than mine (I hate you for your paid mechanic), but I think well-thought out general pieces with well-thought out add-ons works better than specialized stuff you’ll only use for a few calls a year.

Nerd on the Fireline
11/17 Hi AB,

I'm a furloughed tanker pilot. I find myself on a citizens committee at home tasked with determining the future equipment needs of our Rural Volunteer Fire Dept. We have a paid chief, secretary, mechanic and PIO. We have one new station, three bay, and six other smaller stations spread around the area. Town numbers about 4500 spread over 54 sq. miles, most of it forested. We do have a large number of summer residences and the local population doubles in the summer months.

The Captains want new equipment. They bought a new class A pumper, CAFS equipped, for $400,000. It is so large it won't fit down half of the roads in our area. Most of the roads are unpaved. Our annual budget for the coming year is projected at $1.6 million, not including new equipment purchases.

My question for any of the folks out there who have experience in small, expensive, rural FDs and VFDs is: What equipment, specifically tenders, pumpers etc, would do us the most good? What about the fast attack tenders? Any one have experience there?

I would like to see my local FD purchase new equipment that fits the job. Almost our entire service area has huge wildland interface potential. Although we live just south of the Canadian Border, on the coast where it is fairly damp in all but the summer months.

Any ideas and suggestions you guys have would be most appreciated

11/17 Texas Canyon Hotshots will be hosting its 50th year reunion on Friday December 3rd and Saturday December 4th.

Total cost of $50 per person you can share the making of T.C. history. The fee will help fund a number of events-- photo exhibits, a CD ROM detailing Texas Canyon's history and a mouth watering barbecue . The festivities will be divided into two exciting days. Day one will consist of a banquet dinner at the Sportsman Lodge in Studio City. Day two will include an outdoor barbecue (Los Cantilles CG) and a station walkthrough.

Please contact David Nish at (661) 296-8418 to reserve.
11/17 hey what model sportiva boots are all the cool guys
wearing, and are they approved?

thanks the GOAT
11/17 Northzone,

You are quite a bit off base with your comments. Most Structural FF are crossed trained in wildland fires. Alot of us receive red cards because of where we work. The only difference is that most of us have to wear our structural gear when we do wildland fires. An advantage that we have in the Midwest is that our water sources allow us to conduct relay (I've seen 1500 ft relays) pumping to the fire with each pumper putting out at least 1250 GPM, we also conduct Tanker shuttles (out west they call them tenders) each tanker carries a minimum of 3500 gallons, Another resource we use are our ARFF P-19s and similar ARFF rigs. We rarely cut break and mostly surround and drowned. Which for a bunch of engine pukes and truckies ain't to bad. I do give all wildland FF tremendous credit for the jobs you all do. In my opinion you should receive the same pay and benefits that us 0081s get. I hope that some day my brothers and sisters out on the fireline get the same benefits and pay as us!

Midwest Trucky
11/16 Ab, we lost another great supporter of both Fire and Prevention this last weekend she did a lot for both programs on the Angeles and in Region 5 she will be missed.

Mailrooms - please distribute to employees w/in your region and WO - thank you

It is with great sadness that we notify everyone that on November 13, 2004 Margie Behm, Angeles NF Prevention Officer passed away after a long illness with cancer. Margie worked for the Forest Service for 28 years and will be missed by many.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but we expect to be able to provide information by Thursday.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Margie Behm's name to
The American Cancer Society, Ovarian Cancer Research
20655 Solidad Canyon Road
Suite 17
Santa Clarita CA 91351
phone number (800) 227 - 2345 or (661) 298 - 0886

Cards can be sent to Margie's family at the following address
The Behm Family
19108 #B Valley of the Oaks
Newhall, CA 91351

Condolences. Ab.
11/16 dubois leather custom boots in dubois idaho

I worked island park for the forest service this summer. i saw
many people wearing these boots made by dubois leather. I
am wondering if any one likes/hates these boot. some info please

thanks skimore

11/16 Quick note on stress and "bad" cholesterol (LDL):

Northzone said: "stress alone will raise bad cholesterol levels."

Clarification: Long term stress has been shown in several studies to be linked (correlated) with raised blood cholesterol (LDL) levels. This is an indirect relationship (stress (A) affects something (B) that causes increased cholesterol (C)). Researchers think the most likely way that stress may "cause" higher cholesterol is by affecting eating habits. When some people are stressed, they console themselves by eating fatty foods which contain saturated fat and cholesterol, and which contribute to higher levels of the "bad" blood cholesterol.

Here's a place you can find the basics on the different kinds of cholesterol, the risk factors, and what you can do to affect your cardiac health. FDA on Cholesterol

I must get out right now and do my "kicks" around the marsh!


11/16 Hutch speaks words of wisdom!

"All those years of cumulative stress, high blood pressure while on the job, sucking smoke and eating the wrong things will catch up to you."

Stress related blood pressure elevation has long been medical fact. Increased cholesterol levels because of stress remains controversial but more medico's are paying attention. (A decade ago a cardiologist told a close friend of mine that stress alone will raise bad cholesterol levels.) Hopefully medicine has evolved to now acknowledge damage to hearts, not only orthopedic stress factors.

AL, in addition to the History Channel and PBS websites, you might check MSNBC for "dangerous jobs" (missed the smokejumpers). some documentaries are repeated elsewhere. Thanks in advance to folk who will alert us about fire related TV airings in advance, even if it's a rumor.

Todd, remember, presidential appointees must be congressionally approved - short tenure 4 yrs max, and submit a letter of resignation at end of president's term. a re-elected president may ignore the letters or accept them. a new proposed USFS boss must be congressionally approved. considering the departure of Powell and other national security folk will no doubt overshadow congress's focus on Mr Conner's qualifications.

geeze, I've given myself a headache *L*


11/15 Hutch,

I'm really glad you're recovered and doing well. I've meant to
email and just haven't. My bad. <smooch>


11/15 In regards to Todd's post re Ann Veneman's resignation, AP reports the following speculations:

Chuck Connor - White House farm advisor (not "the rifleman")
Charles Stenholm - D-Tex, who lost his seat in the election
Allen Johnson - US negotiator on agricultural matters
Bill Hawks - Undersecretary (USDA) for marketing
Charles Kruse - Missouri Farm Federation.

11/15 NorCal Tom

Thanks for the good wishes. I am doing fine and recovery from my turn of heart problems is going just fine thanks to the wonders of modern medicine and medications. The scary thing is that my LDL and HDL as well as blood pressure (thanks to retirement) were where they were suppose to be when I had my heart attack. So the message I share is that it's alot more than a few numbers. All those years of cumulative stress, high blood pressure while on the job, sucking smoke and eating the wrong things will catch up to you. The Doctor chastised me for being a smoker (even though I quit over 30 years ago) as I still had smokers lung sounds due to exposure while on the job. So be safe and healthy out there guys and gals, it does catch up to us with age and time.

To Rich Hawkins, best wishes guy, slow down and take the time you need to heal up, the job will always be there. . .


11/15 My opinion: The Dept of Agriculture FS fire org is being made
nonfunctional so we'll be reorganized into Interior. First step is moving
the finance people to ABQ NM.

11/15 Not sure if this was posted earlier. Interesting article. I for one don't
want to ever be under one of these but that's just one opinion.

Trial by Fire - article in Portland Tribune on Evergreen 747 airtanker

11/15 Todd - no matter who replaces Ann Veneman as Sec of Ag, you can bet that she/he will be a rancher/farmer who could care less about the USFS, with the largest number of employees in USDA.

The USDI (Norton, Scarlett) thinks they are the big players in the federal wildland fire world, and no one in USDA is stepping forward to contradict them. But then, folks in Washington are always ready to give up Power to competitors in other departments, right? Just look at the support to re-align the intelligence community!

Do I smell a conspiracy out there.......?


Conspiracy, bah. I doubt it... You should see some of the emails we've gotten that we haven't posted. The last two may have been posted. Entertaining?
  • From Germany in heavily accented german font: "Lots of people think there was no plane that flew into the Pentagon on 9/11. It was an explosion from inside. Could you put me in touch with someone from the fire team that confirm this can?"
  • Environmental groups are bringing lawsuits involving treatment of firefighters against the FS so they can offer to drop them in exchange for the FS placing more land in wilderness designation.
  • The AT contracts were cancelled so MAFFS could take over, followed by creation of an aerial firefighting force under the Dept of Homeland Security. Planes could get used for other purposes like hurricane relief in the off season.

There are some emails that come in that are really strange... Ab.

11/15 DOD/NIFC 2004 Wildland Firefighting AAR


I am a contractor working for USNORTHCOM. We are conducting a wildland
firefighting AAR. Any chance you could forward this to the Western
Regional GACC aviation representatives (Rocky Mountains westward)?

One of our after action review topics (AAR) is to identify and train NG
helicopter crews on bucket operations prior to the fire season. The GACC
input would be useful. I don't have contact information on all the GACC
aviation representatives. Please forward if able.


Mr. Eric Bleakney
L3/SY-Coleman Analyst ISO USNORTHCOM J35

Mr. Eric, Looking up GACC emails and forwarding all those attachments is beyond what we Abs are willing to volunteer for. GACC mgrs who are interested, you could get in touch and ask him for the map, agenda, etc, etc. Abercrombie.

11/15 I heard there was recently a show on the history of air tankers on the History Channel. If anyone hears of a rerun, would you please let all of us know?

Fighting Fire with Fire (West Glacier, summer 2003) was on PBS last night. It's due to rerun on 11/20 (Saturday) at 9:30 pacific time. You can look here for local listings (enter your zip code) for a day or a week. www.pbs.org/tvschedules/


Thanks AL. Ab.

11/15 Readers,

Please take a look at the photo of the Type 6 Brush Truck for sale in the Classified ad under Equipment, Heavy. Never too early to start planning for next season.


11/15 Ann Veneman is supposed to resign today. Wonder who her successor will be.


11/15 I am constantly hounded by my underlings about signing off on their Position Task Books. My answer is this, and I am adamant about it – if I haven’t seen someone perform the task, and perform it well and safely, then it doesn’t get signed off.

In the past few years we have seen an inordinate amount of contractors entering into the fray, many of them with little or no experience. How is it going to be possible to track these folks’ qualifications and experience? One suggestion I’ve heard is that, within the contractors’ associations, establish a peer review board. Upon completion of a task book, the individual would go before the board and to the best of their ability explain why they should be signed off. The board would consider quantity and quality of the assignments and only after discussion would they allow final approval. Volunteer departments are faced with the same dilemma and some are following the same process as the private associations. With self certification of contractors, it is absolutely vital that we establish some means of being able to track quals and training.

11/15 Around 11/9 -- Someone asked about the Wildland Fire
PC game.

Well, for lack of anything better to do (I'm still
waiting for fire season 2004) I downloaded the demo,
so here's a review:

It takes awhile to download; It took about 30 minutes
with my super highspeed DSL. You can download a demo,
which is essentially the entire game -- you just need
an activation code if you want to buy it.

The graphics are excellent. The game also seems to
have a fair amount of depth to it, it's not a cake
walk. I've played it now for about 45 minutes, and
have only been able to complete 1 of the first 3
challenges, and there are 16 total challenges, all
becoming more difficult. The sound is interesting,

The interface is fairly easy to use. I didn't read the
instructions (which is how I normally handle shift plans
on fires -- JUST KIDDING) and was able to figure
out the interactions in about 5-10 minutes.

The only concern I would have, is this: I'm running
the game on a new, pretty high end laptop. I've got a
64 bit processor, operating at 2.00 GHz, 512MB of RAM,
and I think (can't recall) about 64 or 128MB of video
ram. The game seems like it takes a bit of time to
load (About 1.5-2.5 minutes on my system) -- which
would make me wonder how fast it would load on a
slower system.

I would highly recommend it.

11/15 *L* Abs, obviously you didn't have the "pleasure" of working with the individual I
briefly described. "Peter Principle" was an understatement.

too bad he never articulated nor implied, "Don't simply bring me a problem; think
about it and bring me at least one solution you can think of as well."

I heartily agree with succinctly stating the problem along with a probable solution
a good "manager" fosters brainstorming when a situation warrants it; fortunately
there are many who do and those who do not are eventually sent packing.

11/14 Does the following seem a little short sighted to anyone else?

All the FS financial folks who know the interagency agreements and the players in the other agencies are being relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico! How stupid! No more quick and easy agreements when fire is scorching those rich citizens and congressionals front doors. Gone. extinct, kaput, finito, adios, hasta la vista, nonexistent, vaporized, obliterated, etc. Why don't we take away all the comm units while we're at it???


11/14 Steve L, et al. red card or not
what others may overlook in the heat of "discussion" in this forum is that those on the line require/depend on knowledgeable support staff - be it for a timely comm fix-it, a quality GIS map, dispatcher, or someone to process their time sheet correctly.

Everyone has encountered incompetents & has a corresponding gripe.
some have signed off on a taskbook in the midst of rush on paperwork.
some have refused to sign off on a taskbook they should have.
some aren't doing anyone any favors by putting lives in jeopardy.

I remember a make-me-look-good boss, "don't bring me problems, bring me solutions" . frustrating and dangerous. (a Peter Principle stereotype) most heaved a big sigh of relief when he was replaced but sadly his legacy lived on for a few more years.
life isn't even, nor is the ground we walk on.

be safe y'all,

I agree with your first two paragraphs, but have something to add in response to your third.

I'm not a "make me look good boss" but this Ab believes that if you only "bring problems", it's like whining or calling wolf. A whine often ends with... a whine or, worse yet, a whimper. In my experience workable solutions are more easily found if suggestions are made by the professional who is intimate with the problem. Problem solving is almost always a collective process even if it's something like not signing off a task book and telling the person what they still need to do.

I have frequently said, "Don't simply bring me a problem; think about it and bring me at least one solution you can think of as well." Often to solve a problem, the dialog - from brainstorming to laying out viable options - has to start somewhere. A brain is required... or as someone I know has said, "YOU have to 'show up'."

11/14 Well another year done and another year done safe. My heart goes out to Rich Hawkins my fmo from the Cleveland NF, Im done for the season but his battle goes on. Even though im done working hard for the season i will not forget how hard he is working for his life. Rich will fight this harder than he's fought any fire ever. I hope that he recovers soon so he can lead us through another safe and educational fire season. He is in my prayers and will not be forgotten. Rich, get well soon from the firefighters on the trabuco rd, cnf .


11/13 To all and any involved in taskbooks.

When we are discussing taskbooks, let's not forget that not all positions are line-fighter positions. I won't even try to figure out, beyond FF2, how to fight fire. I don't need to. I am an AD Comm Unit Leader with an extensive, non-wildfire tactical and strategic communications background that dates back to 1975. I put in working Comm systems and keep them up. That's how I work to keep my firecrews safe - by providing working comm systems.

When I was first getting into incident management, I knew a lot about radios and communications and only what my old man taught me about fire (he was with the Chilao Hotshots when I was born). My first assignment had me assigned as a technical expert COMT. When the Incident Management Team found out I had never had a taskbook and was on my first fire, I was treated like I didn't know a battery from an antenna. The COML had put in a 'system' that wasn't working for the Team or the firecrews. I recommended a fix to the COML and was told "I have more experience at this than you do so don't tell me my job". His comments were backed by the LSC2. My 25 years of daily experience didn’t count for squat against the county GIS supervisor that did it 6 weeks a year. After that Team was replaced, I went to the new IC and Log Chief with a fix to the 12 day old comm problem. A short helo ride and 15 minutes ground time later, the system was working. The COML had a completed taskbook, I didn't know what one was.

I have worked within the system to become a fully carded Communications Unit Leader. Yes I still carry RADO, INCM and COMT as well as COML. Getting through the system, even with 29 years experience, took me 4 years. There doesn't seem to be a method of transferring non-wildfire experience to the Red Card system.

The taskbook system has a lot of flaws. In areas where the system is supported, the taskbooks are a great evaluation tool. In areas where the system is given the 'good ol boy' shuffle, it doesn't work and is misused. I don't support getting a taskbook signed off completely at a single event any more then a evaluator holding back a deserved signature. It takes a lot of faith in the system to withhold a sign-off when you see someone not performing up to par. A signature is a sign of your confidence in the trainee and the reward for a job well done.

Do your part as an evaluator or trainee or taskbooks will be just another rubber stamp document.

I, for one, vow to never rubber stamp a taskbook.

Steve L
11/13 AZfirefighter, you are a rarity :

"...I am actually a city structure FF, who LOVES wildland. I get the best of both worlds by having a summer fire season, and a year round job that takes care of my family well. Because of this, I have a lot of fire experience on both sides. I know the two are different, but you have to admit, you learn a lot for EITHER side by doing both."

This may be off topic, but unfortunately too few structural FFs are prepared for wildland status on Fed lands unless they are protecting some structure. the other side of that coin is that our Fed FFs are too often ill prepared or trained for all hazard disaster response.

Considering this ever evolving occupation and the growing risk factors, we can only hope the folk in DC are paying attention to safety issues when they allocate $$s. Parity would be nice too.


11/12 Backburnfs:

Bro here!!

I agree with you on many of your points. In Arizona, the state fire units are trying (slowly) to put into effect, a time frame/experience level for qualifications. I do agree with you on gaining valuable experience, and many go too fast. What I don't completely see eye to eye with is the "years" concept. I understand why some think it a good idea, but sometimes I think it can be a hinder in some ways. Here is my thought:

1. Some people are just good, and pick up fast, but hold on, consider...
2. AMOUNT of experience in a season...
3. TYPES of fuels and fires
5. Background experience
6. Employment specifics.

I really hope I am not losing your previous support. I still COMPLETELY believe there needs to be personal, STRONG accountability with Taskbooks. My reason for those 6 items are simple. I have worked with some people who "just get it." They are "naturals" when it comes to fire skills, understanding, and a personality that stays calm under fire, we all probably have. If you have someone like that (we probably all have), you put them into the system, and get them out on assignments, and they get better and better. As the gain #2, experience, they refine their skills, LEARN fire behavior, and really polish their natural understanding of fire fighting.

AMOUNT: 3 - 5 fires in a year, or 20, or 30+

Our state system is trying to account for fire TYPES, as well as time in grade. I think TYPES make a lot of sense. We must account for several fires in the different fuel types, i.e., grass, brush/chaparral, timber, etc. Further, we must log these fuel types by being deployed to X amount of Type 4, 3, 2, and 1 fires. We are trying for 3 of each type (type 1 or 2 are the same). So, you must get out to several BIG fires in various fuels, and on down. Hope this makes sense.
Unfortunately to some, I am actually a city structure FF, who LOVES wildland. I get the best of both worlds by having a summer fire season, and a year round job that takes care of my family well. Because of this, I have a lot of fire experience on both sides. I know the two are different, but you have to admit, you learn a lot for EITHER side by doing both. This helps too. This is where BACKGROUND experience and EMPLOYER comes into play. You might be employed full time, but how many fires do you really go to?? I run on my truck in the range of about 3,000 calls a year (7 a shift, if that math works). I work in the ICS system everyday, and multi agency on almost every call. I have gained invaluable experience by being a firefighter, an acting engineer, and an acting captain.

I know this is long, but I hope it makes sense. I think moving up the rank does take time, but I don't know if specific years is completely the way to go. It might limit someone very capable of some positions, especially when there might be some high attrition rates soon. By no means should anyone be a single resource boss in 1-2 years, but lets be objective and look at the whole picture (it took me 4 years, after being a full time firefighter for 5 years already).

Basically it should look like this:

TIME (years / # assignments) + FUEL TYPES + COMPLEXITY = EXPERIENCE

If you sign taskbooks, its YOUR job to make sure that trainee performed correctly, professionally, and safely. If not, suggest more time. If you are a trainee, don't be mad because you need more time. EXPECT it. It takes time to gain experience and learn. I tell every trainee, and TRAINER, I don't expect to be signed or to give a signature. Please only sign, or expect a signature, if I completely fill the expectations. Its for ALL our safety!

(would love to hear others comments on this)
11/12 There are some good points being raised about taskbooks. Some people don't
like taskbooks and others think they should be much tougher. I think it's a good
system, but could use some refining.

I believe in the taskbook system and I think it does a good job of making
individuals have at least a minimum of experience in a position. I now work in
the structural fire world and we have no system for ensuring an individual's
level of experience. To get promoted in my dept, all someone needs to do is place
well in the testing process. There is no method to ensure the person has any
experience in the position. In fact, my dept has no procedure for a person to
get experience in a position until they are promoted into it. Firefighters
become lieutenants without ever having an opportunity to supervise anyone, even
in practice. The taskbooks, if used correctly, do a great job of exposing an
individual to a position without giving them the sole responsibility for it.

Of course, the evaluators must truly require the individual to complete the
tasks to get that experience, which is a big problem. I know several evaluators
who will sign off pretty much anything an individual wants them too,
regardless of accurate that is. That creates a major problem when an individual who is
in a given position doesn't have the experience or ability to fulfill the
responsibilities of that position. On the other hand, I know some people who make
taskbook completion so difficult that it becomes almost impossible. I
personally went through this. I got hired on with the USFS as a former FFT2 qualified
AD. I never completed a taskbook as an AD. My supe suggested I complete an
FFT2 taskbook, so he initiated one for me. Then after several fires on which I
managed to complete all the tasks, he told me the district ranger wouldn't sign
off on it as it was only open for less than a month. This was after having 7
years as a red-carded FFT2 with over 110 operational shifts.

Everyone involved in a taskbook must take their position seriously and
consider the ramifications of their actions. Taskbook initiators and evaluators
should only sign off tasks that have been correctly completed and that fulfill the
requirements of the position. On the other hand, they should not withhold
signatures on tasks or taskbook completions when they are deserved. Most of all,
trainees should make every effort to fulfill the requirements of the position
they seek, especially the taskbook. Completing the tasks, even multiple times,
will only make you better in the position you seek! We as a wildland fire
service need to work together, fairly & honestly, to ensure trainees are as
prepared as possible! In this climate of accountability, being responsible in
administering taskbooks could help protect trainers and trainees from liability as

As always, Thanks Abs!!!

11/12 Others retiring in R5:

Scotty Vail, Don Studebaker (altho I heard that's on hold because of Hawkins
being out), John Wendt, Becky May up north and others I'm sure will come to
me as soon as I hit send.

I'm adding my prayers for Rich Hawkins and his family for the best outcome
and his speedy recovery.

I hope Hutch has made a full recovery as well.


11/12 Task Books

AZfirefighter, hats off to you cousin, don't know if you are boy or a girl (Rebel, Rebel) so cousin will do. Anyhow making the hard decisions is what training and certification are all about. Too many people are getting rubber stamped through the Task Book process because trainers don't want to take the time to honestly evaluate an individuals performance.

It amazes me to see 2nd and 3rd season firefighters issued single resource boss task books and getting them signed off. There needs to be a minimum experience requirement written into the qualification system some thing like 5 seasons for crewboss, 7 for ST/TFL, and 10 for DIVS/ICT3. Those numbers are too long for some and not long enough for others but would at least get us back to people having to have some actual on the ground experience to go along with the task books.


The Cramer fire accountability/liability thing has raised it's ugly head again and this time it is out in the open where everyone can see. But none of us can get the whole story. Speculation on who/what/why is just that so who can say for sure what the punishment should be for an IC if someone is seriously injured or killed on their fire. There were many fatalities on the Cedar fire and the CDF and FS IC's are still around, in fact the CDF IC got a big promotion after the 2003 season.

I think the firefighters and their immediate supervisors have more responsibility for their actions than an IC could ever have. No one can force me to accept an assignment. I have to agree to it after I have gathered all the information I can about the assignment and insured that LCES and the other safety issues have been addressed. My accepting an assignment has to remove at least some of the liability from the shoulders of those above me.

I guess accountability like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

11/11 Will whoever sent in the photo from the following link, way back in early 1997, please contact Ab? We have an urgent request for its use. The photo is on the Fire Photo 2 Page called Guest 11, the direct link to the photo is here:

Thanks from the management!

Original Ab.
11/11 Alan,

I know a little about BAMs, (Big A$$ Maps) so if the questions are indeed simple, I
can help. If they are beyond me I have contacts.

You can find me on Fire Chat fairly often, or we can figure another way to correspond.

11/11 Is anyone keeping a list of all the fire Folks (State and Fed) that are retiring at the
end of 2004?

I know Jerry Williams and Buck Latapie (USFS-WO), Rod Richardson and Greg
Greenhoe (USFS-Northern Rockies) have signed up; any others joining the mass

11/11 I'm trying to find someone who has experience building
the "big maps" at fire camps. I just have some simple
questions I'd like answered.

Ab: If you could just forward a reply to this
email...Thank You.


Will do. Ab.

11/11 Abs,
It is said that no job is finished 'till the paperwork's done. Well, no fire is finished
'till the hose is rolled. (Busy firefighters are happy firefighters!)

Kitsap Structure Protection Team, DP-18, Fischer Fire, Wenatchee National
Forest. August 2004.


Thanks E. I put it on Equipment 8 photo page. Ab.

11/11 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated as are the 0401 listings (link on jobs page). The Los Padres has a bunch of openings.

New photos of helos from Hickman and Mike Evans on Helicopters 18. Photos of Rock Creek Memorial NV (at bottom of page) from Winslet and the Monument statues at Boise (near top of page) from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation on Monument & Memorials photo page. Thanks contributors. Some new logos on Logos 10 from and lookout at Sanhedrin MNF on Misc 2 photo pages from CZ. Please read the photo descriptions for the full info.

I hope everyone is having a fine holiday (if yer off). Thanks vets.


11/10 With respect to the Cramer Fire situation, I'd like to weigh in with a few points!

My primary concern deals with the lack of accurate information. All most of us have to review is a heavily redacted Cramer Investigation report that is very difficult to read, much less comprehend and study. We also have news articles from a variety of sources, perhaps edited or at best written with a reporter bias.

So, now we know that the Incident Commander has resigned, austensibly due to a plea offered him by the US Attorney in lieu of seeking a <snip> indictment. The cost of defending a felony charge is probably six digits, with the outcome uncertain. IC Hackett was faced with a very difficult choice, one that would squeeze the strongest of us into submission. Faced with resigning or mounting a defense....not really much of a choice!

Now we are to move forward with limited knowledge and information regarding why the government chose to proceed with this course of action. Even the best of us cannot help but wonder what will happen in future fatality fires. Unless we have a better understanding of what prompted these actions so an informed IC can evaluate this information in light of his/her situation, most of us will assume the worst. In other words, what happened here is merely a precedence for what will happen to the next unfortunate IC, Duty Officer, District Ranger, Fire Staff, FMO, Forest Supervisor, or.....!

I hope Forest Service leadership is developing a strategy to deal with the unintended fallout from this tragic situation. The men and women firefighters in this agency are waiting and watching.


Ab note: I clipped the indictment because we cannot confirm that. Thanks for the post GET, many are wondering.

11/10 Regarding the signing of Taskbooks and quals:

We as a fire service need to watch each others backs, both on the line and off. To watch each other off the line, we need to make some hard decisions in regard to taskbooks.

I have been on an engine crew for several years, and am now in a position where I am signing people off. One of THE HARDEST decisions I have made in my career, is to have to DENY someone a signature for a taskbook. However, I felt it was called for, and that is was a SAFETY ISSUE. This person was not only on my crew, but also a friend. I had to explain that it wasn't personal, but that he needed more work, more effort, and more assignments before I felt he should have things signed off.

I justified this because he was working towards an engine boss position, yet when we were doing fire attack, he was staying with the truck, and not following my directions, let alone leading as a trainee. It caused much grief later, and to this day, things are not as friendly between us. However, I tried to explain my feelings to him, and let him know he could continue to train, but needed to work on these issues.

I guess with today's society, people are too quick to get upset about a critique. Any position of leadership, and where decisions are made which can result in injury or death are very serious. I do not intend to get any of my crew hurt or killed, and I want to pass along that trait to my trainees. A true professional will understand that, and the role of leadership, and not get bent out of shape because someone feels they need more experience, or improvement prior to getting a signature.

I hope others out there reading this post, who are trainees (aren't we all?), will agree, or see the light, that a taskbook signature eventually leads to more responsibility, and decisions which affect peoples lives. Don't take it so personally when someone suggests improvement. Those suggestions are for your benefit, and the safety of others.

Be safe,
11/10 BLMgirl,

Yes, sorry, I should have included that the first time:

Richard D. Hawkins
Fire Management Officer
Cleveland National Forest
10845 Rancho Bernardo Road
Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92127

Thanks for the email follow-up Ab.


11/10 R5er,

Where can we send cards, etc to Rich Hawkins? He is a true standup guy who
endured way too much during Cedar. After working for him and CA Team 5 on a
couple of type 1 fires, he has my eternal respect.

11/10 CM,

No interest in getting fat here. Yeah, I know how I sound.
As a Veggie, I know you get more than your fair share food

Personally, I'm not a Veggie, but I know many who are.
They all tell me that the Veggie choices in camp often suck.
My favorite is when they tell me how frequently they get a
Beef & Bean burrito or tuna sandwich in their Veggie sack
lunch. As much as I get sick and tired of mummified baked
potatoes, they get sick of beans, beans, and more beans.

I guess my bitchin comes from hearing about what we are
paying. A buddy showed me last years (2003) prices for
sack lunches. The average price was almost $15.00 each
per lunch.

- Batchmaster
11/10 What if they had a wildland fire and no IC came?


11/10 Westin Glass

Give me a shout, we are always looking for quality candidates here in
Northern California.


AB, if he replies back could you forward my email address to him?

Yep, I will. Ab.
11/10 Fire Line Candy

Hotshots flinging dirt
working for their vittles.
Wolfing down plastic bags
of sugar coated Skittles.

Engine crews eating M&M's
in air conditioned rides.
Showing a hard exterior
but all soft inside.

ICs strutting through camp
noshing on a bag of Nerds.
Like a sheepdog tending
a herd.

Air Attack flying high
sticky Milk Duds in their teeth
keeping a watchful eye

DIVS marching the line
munching on Snickers.
Pointing out the obvious
even the little flickers.

Candy on the line for comfort
sugar induced highs
while back in camp
Logistics is getting
bigger thighs.


Good response to the Skittles post with image from Bored Hotshot that we had up on theysaid over night. Appreciate the humor. Ab.

11/10 Hi there,

My name is Westin Glass, and I am hoping to be a wildland firefighter next summer.

I completed the Wildland Firefighting course at my community college in Albuquerque, New Mexico in Spring 2002, resulting in a red card. For the past three summers I have applied online to every fire job I could find in the West and Southwest--literally hundreds of jobs--and I received absolutely no response at all.

I just moved up to Seattle, Washington, and I'm hoping to find a ranger station, fire crew, or anywhere at all that I can volunteer this winter and spring to hopefully build relationships and prove myself, so I can have a better chance at getting a fire job in summer of 2005.

Any advice on places or people I can contact in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or Montana to volunteer?

Thanks a lot!
11/9 A longtime member of the wildland firefighter community, Richard Hawkins,
Forest FMO of the Cleveland N.F. has recently suffered a heart attack and
is in between critical surgeries. Thoughts and prayers are with him. Letters
and well wishes would undoubtedly be appreciated.

In short... Life is short.

11/9 The liability issue is already affecting staffing.

On my unit are three individuals. Previously identified as quality candidates and groomed for several years to move up and become an IC or burn boss -- given accelerated development and preferential training assignments -- only to refuse to step up and assume the responsibilities when the time came.

All three gave the same reason. "I'm too close to retirement to risk it."

I do not blame them one bit. I had several positions removed from my red card because of the management climate.

Agency leadership is way past due for some serious soul-searching.

11/9 I've been reading the post on the liability insurance
and the others on Type 3 I.C.s and I have to agree
with alot of the points. The question I have though is
how many of our Type 3 I.C.s got their quals without
getting the proper experience. I'm seeing more and
more people getting quals with very little time on the
line. Now I know that too be a Type 3 IC you have to
be certified now, but when your own Forest and friends
are doing the simulation how many people are going to
get qualified because someone didn't have the heart or
they aren't going to fail a friend.

I just came from a forest where the Type 3 IC's were
being qual'd on small Type 4 fires. I also seen
people getting signed off as Task Force Leader after
one shift of mop-up. Just because someone has a
completed Task Book doesn't mean they are qualified.
So when are we going to start making Forests or the
people signing off Taskbooks a little responsible if
the person isn't ready and someone gets maimed or
killed. This job is to dangerous to put people with
minimal experience in key positions. I know there
are a lot of people out there that I wouldn't want to
be in charge. There still are to many accidents
waiting to happen because of lack of experience. We
can train people to death but without the experience
and first hand knowledge what good is it.

Now whats happening over on the Salmon/Challis is
wrong and I feel bad for Alan and it's a sad state of
affairs when our own agency won't back you.
Thanks for letting me vent AB.

11/9 Re: sack lunches....quit yer bitchin. As a hotshot and a vegetarian, i
get more than my share of the short end of the stick. It is.....part of
the ethereal experience of wildland firefighting. If you don't like it,
stay in town and get fat off dennys.


Some of us might agree, except that one of the food contractors asked about firefighter likes and dislikes so we're entitled.
My two most memorable gustatory experiences:
a small container of raisins and peanuts -savored one by one- at sunset with pink light glinting off the mountains in the distance and valley fire burning in the dark below;
my third day in firecamp and the closeout dinner entre was a standing rib roast cooked to perfection with horseradish, almost crispy little veggies, little potato chunks, Joe, Joy and Al. Ab.

11/9 It's both encouraging - and discouraging - to see the in-depth discussions about firefighter liability that is currently being cussed and discussed.

At the risk of being viewed as a pessimist - I truly believe that you give new definition to "Fool" if you do your best serving in ANY fire management position and believe that your Agency will stand behind you when something goes wrong. It ain't gonna happen!

After the politization of wildfire fatalities by Senator Cantwell and Congressman Hastings after "Thirtymile", no one who serves in any responsible position on prescribed fires or wildfires is protected from the threats of lawsuits and/or criminal charges. Long gone are the days when a FMO who experiences fatalities on his District after failing to perform up to standards can expect a cash award at the season's end.

So, what to do? First, consider the benefits and risks, both to you and your family, from serving in positions where firefighters and/or civilians might die, or where property might be lost on a prescribed burn. If you decide to fill those jobs, get good liability insurance as has been described in earlier posts.

It's a new day in wildland fire, girls and boys! No longer are we the heroes in the white hats that are never held accountable when things go wrong. Wildland fire is, in my opinion, still equal parts of art and science: we'll never know for sure that our decisions will always turned out as planned.
So, err on the side of fiscal prudence and, as the Boy Scouts say, "Be Prepared".

11/9 Batchmaster,

I wrote this awhile back in my attempts to point out the culinary deficiencies in fire camps.
I support your suggestion to ban Skittles.

Mop-Up Article 5... Sack lunches

Fire managers and supervisors complain about fire fighters complaining about sack lunches. In this article I offer to document the problem and be a mediator to help solve the sack lunch complaints.

To mediate a responsible reaction to the fire fighters complaint seems fairly easy to me. Make the food unit leader eat a sack lunch instead of making a trip through the salad bar at base camp!

Another thought is to change the obvious practice of the food handlers using sack lunches as pillows and <snip> cushions prior to sending the lunches to the line. Pressed duck may be considered fancy fare in some cultures but pressed white bread and processed turkey sandwiches are banned in third world countries.

Why even send the condiment packages out to the line? I defy anyone to separate the white bread slices to apply the mayonnaise or mustard. Dry white bread sandwich... followed by a can of tart orange juice....mm... mmm good.

There needs to be a new ICS position attached to the teams. I would offer the acronym BIUBTDUL (best if used by this date unit leader). Personally I like Grandmas cookies. Here's a hint for the new BIUBTDUL, the cookies are better if they have a best if used by date that at least coincides with the first Bush administration.

Seriously it would be nice to go through a complete fire progression without a sandwich recall. These recalls are usually announced just after mid-shift. After a sandwich recall several years ago I made the mistake of asking... over the command channel... what was wrong with the sandwiches. The reply I received and by everyone else scanning the command frequency was short and to the point... " the meat may be tainted". This announcement started a series of rather unpleasant events on Division D.

It seems most of the crews had already consumed at least one of the pressed white bread sandwiches. In an attempt to apply tainted meat prevention efforts, a 20 person crew decided to perform self induced purging. An adjacent 20 person crew was watching the first crew and not knowing that this was a prevention effort their stomach's reacted violently to this rather unpleasant scene and they started vomiting.

I think you know where this headed... the next crew up the line seeing the second crew vomit and having heard the tainted meat broadcast also started reinforcing the hand line with chunks of pressed white bread and turkey slurry. Before I knew it I had six 20 person crews loaded up and headed for the medical unit to be checked for Sam and his friend Ella. This story has a happy ending, the meat most likely wasn't tainted and for 2 shifts we had ham on wheat bread sandwiches instead of processed turkey on pressed white bread.

Look for a future article on why "Eggs Britannica" shouldn't be served at fire camps. Ok...ok... incident base camps. You know what they say about old dogs and habits.

Oliver Moore...Ask the difficult questions...be safe
11/9 Has anybody tried the new Wildfire PC game yet? I'm thinking of buying
it, but before I put my money into it I'd like some input. At least
there's no liability being the IC on these fires! You can download it
at www.catdaddy.com/wildfire.phpl


11/9 DW and BB, re: Food

I've never experienced Growlersburg, but I agree with you about Hog Heaven. Sometimes you get one that makes you wonder if you are a guest on Fear Factor. Had a kitchen once served breaded country fried steaks cooked in (smothered in) BBQ sauce. Really gross looking and tough.

I HATE soggy bread in my sack lunch! When I make my own lunch at home, my bread doesn't turn to mush by noon! What gives?

I HATE Skittles! Please, please, please, for God's sake, NO MORE Skittles in sack lunch!

How about a beef steak that I can actually chew? Come to think of it, how about doing the same for chicken? The last chicken I had in camp tasted mummified.

How friggin hard is it to cook a damn burrito BEFORE you put it into a sack lunch? I know that sometimes I can cook it on the line, but why should I
have to?

Canned food in a sack lunch?!?! Gee, I forgot my can opener. Cold canned corned beef hash tastes like dog food! Canned macaroni tastes like vomit!

There are other condiments besides ketchup and mustard! Anyone ever heard of steak sauce or pickle relish? How about garlic powder or onion powder?

Orange juice in cardboard or plastic looks and tastes like orange juice. Orange juice in a can looks and tastes like battery acid.

Does Turkey stop being a meat after Thanksgiving is over? Beef, chicken, pork, beef, chicken, pork, beef, chicken, pork, beef, chicken, pork, AAARRGGH!!

What ever happened to fish for dinner? Or Pot Roast? Or Ribs? I like Burger Bundles. StoveTop stuffing inside a ball (baseball size) of hamburger (with worstshire) topped with beef gravy and mushrooms.

How many different ways are there to make potatoes? "Wow, we get baked (mummified) potatoes again! Yeah!"

No more blue Gatorade or anything else that tastes like fictional, made-up fruits like Crappleberry, Tangerspleen, Burpleberry, Razzamellon, Pukecherry!

Omelets are eggs too.

More Snickers (candy bar) in sack lunch, Less Gummysavers or Starburst (candy).

Sound Off! Good, decent, edible food is important. Some of these jokers need to get a clue and remember why they are there.

- Batchmaster
11/9 Ab,

I would like to update everyone in the wildland community about the
status of Matt Taylor, the Prineville Hotshot sff, who is suffering from a
brain tumor. Things have been pretty much up and down this summer for Matt
and his family, as in good news-bad news-good news-bad news. About two
months ago the MRI showed another tumor on the right side of his brain (the
left side was where the original tumor, surgery and radiation were done).
Matt received radiation on the new tumor, and will have another MRI soon to
determine if the cancer has spread or has regressed. He is still taking
chemotherapy to the tune of about $2000.00 a month, and his insurance is
covering about half of that. Thanks to all your kind and caring
generosity, we are able to cover the rest so far. According to the
radiologist, there may likely to be more spread of the cancer, due to the
new growth on the right side of the brain. What happens next is the
deterioration of brain function, which Matt is starting to show some signs
of. His biggest need at present is for more leave to be donated. At
present, his total is about 253 hours, which adds up to around 31 days.
Matt will be needing more than that, since I do not foresee him returning
to work, and we will keep him on the payroll as long as he has leave.

If you have any leave you could donate, that would help tremendously. If you
are not familiar with the process, you use an AD 1043 form. The directions
for the procedure are on the form itself. You can get the form at your
local office or pull it off the "forms" site in the FS directory. I will
also include a copy in this email. (If you need one, contact Ab.)

I also want to send my thanks, the gratitude of Matt, his family, and the
Prineville Hotshots out to the entire wildland fire community, to everyone
who opened their hearts, pocket/check books, auctioned things off, passed
messages, donated a fund raisers, said prayers to help and support Matt,
Kiersten, Jordan and the rest of his family. Your response has been
overwhelmingly generous, heart warming, and awe inspiring. I just feel so
tremendously proud to be part of a community that acts on its compassion
in so many supportive and caring ways. It is my hope that you all
experience the blessing that giving to others in need provides.

Gratefully yours,
Lance Honda

Federal employees, in these days of "Use it or loose it" this would be a very meaningful donation.
Some have asked about a monetary gift to help with the costs of his medical treatment. Here's the account info.

If you're in Oregon, the direct deposit account number with Bank of America is 2884010802 .
If you're in another state, you can direct deposit into Bank of America OR2-134-01-01.

If you'd rather pop a donation check in the mail, make it out to Matt Taylor and send it to Lance for deposit in Matt's med treatment account.

Lance Honda
Prineville Hotshots
3160 NE 3rd St
Prineville, OR 97754

Here's that sweet photo of Matt and his daughter. Ab.

11/9 Ab,

I have to weigh in on Alan Hackett’s behalf. I don’t know the man, but I feel sad today for him, his family, and our Forest Service family. Don't get me wrong, I also grieve for Jeff & Shane, and empathize with their families and friends. But Alan is unfortunately facing the nightmare that all incident commanders worry about; someone getting killed on a fire you are managing. From the moment he first learned that two of his firefighters were missing, Alan joined the infamous list of ICs who were unlucky enough to be at the helm when events took a bad turn.

You may wonder why I say unlucky, because when you read the Cramer investigation report, it is obvious that Alan made mistakes managing that fire, some of them significant. But I cannot think of a single Type III incident that I have IC’ed in the past ten years where I did not make some mistakes and in which people were not placed in a close proximity to hazards. It is the nature of what we do. We do our best to recognize & mitigate hazards, then, we go to work & hope that everyone on the incident has enough training, experience, brains, & luck to avoid getting maimed or killed by whatever hazard they are facing on their portion of the fire.

On a Type III or larger incident, the IC has to rely on the skill & training of the firefighters assigned to the incident. That doesn’t absolve an IC from doing everything possible to provide a safe work environment. But a rapidly growing fire is somewhat like a battle unfolding; as a commander, your priority is to maintain the big picture, predict what the enemy (fire) will do & where it will go, determine how many troops and resources you need to win the battle (control the fire), and direct the general placement of troops and resources. How accountable should an IC be for events that occur on their fire but not under their direct and immediate supervision?

There is a real danger in applying punishment to working people like Alan and not looking beyond the proximal causes of the accident. How about investigating the system that spawned the accident? In many ways, Alan is a victim of a system that failed to properly train him and others to recognize the gravity of the situations they were facing. He was also victimized by the failure of managers to staff critical positions on the forest, which left him floundering as an overworked AFMO trying to IC one fire and manage several others at the same time. And, I dare say, he was victimized by years of Forest Service WO directives to do more with less, combine ranger districts/forests, give more collateral duties to fire managers, etc.

Potential civil & criminal penalties elevate Alan’s predicament to a whole new level. How many mid-level FS fire managers & Type III ICs are currently asking themselves whether they can continue to do their jobs if they can expect the lion’s share of the liability and blame when the stuff hits the fan? Forget whether Alan manages to escape civil or criminal penalties, the fact that he is being forced to defend actions taken in the course of his job, in the interest of the agency, and apparently in good faith make this a landmark case. I hope he at least has liability insurance.

If we are going to start chopping people’s heads off for making errors in judgment, then we might as well quit fighting fires. No one should have to face jail or losing everything they own because someone was killed on a fire they were managing, unless there was malicious intent or absolute recklessness. If the Forest Service will only defend its employees in court if no rules are broken and if it is in the best interest of the agency, Type III ICs will soon be harder to find than wolverines.

Giving us more checklists and firing employees who make errors in judgment are not going to end fatalities on wildfires. Until we quit applying band-aid fixes and take a NASA-style introspective look at our entire system, we are guaranteed to continue experiencing fatalities on wildfires. One big step in the right direction would be legislation protecting wildland firefighters from criminal or civil litigation if they made errors while performing their jobs in good faith, much like the Good Samaritan law for EMTs.

Misery Whip
11/9 Ain't it a sad world when everyone has to go out and LAWYER UP?
in order to serve... And then your family might still loose everything.

Tahoe Terrie

11/9 The liability conversation is interesting. When I completed S-420 ten years ago I was advised to purchase personal liability insurance to cover my backside. Agencies will tell you that as long as you are working under the scope of your job duties the employer will cover your actions. This is where nuance is important. Imbedded within policy, position description and agency guidance there are literally hundreds of "working within your scope of duty" minefields waiting for a lawyer's interpretation

It's amazing that so many of us are still willing to take on the risk of criminal and civil actions because we choose to work in a leadership position. My stance has always been that each fire fighter has the responsibility to perform their job safely. IAPs, briefings and supervision all provide direction to establish LCES prior to engagement, that ALL personnel will comply with the 10 orders and 18 watch outs and how to properly refuse a fire line assignment.

Beyond this leadership goes to great length to identify and describe the influences on the fire ground. Fire weather and fire behavior forecasts, setting incident objectives and performing an Incident Risk Analysis. This holds true from IA to large fire management.

So where are the failures occurring?
At the leadership and supervision level?
At the individual fire fighter level?

My suspicions are that if you dig deep enough and do enough Monday morning quarterbacking you can lay blame at the feet of whoever you chose.

The good news is that we have a lot of dedicated, educated and motivated fire fighters and fire leadership positions at the fire ground level and we continue to enjoy a high degree of success with the majority of our assignments. The sad news is that if we let the perpetual efforts to attach the failure label to a person, due to agency fears of liability, we will continue to be blind to other causes and solutions in our efforts to develop a safer work assignment for fire fighters.

Fire fighting is a tough job... if it was easy every one would be doing it.

Oliver...remember insurance started out as threats of extortion...hmmmm
11/9 For Fuels Guy

Not only can you be sued by employees, you can be sued by the public. I worked around some very litigated recreation sites and there were fatalities and live long injuries occurring with some regularity, along with lawsuits pending almost all the time. I would guess that once a plaintiff was denied an administrative claim, then sued the government, they could come and sue you also, as a private person. Whether the government would defend you (Office of General Counsel and U.S. Attorney) would probably depend on the merits of the plaintiff's case.

Can you imagine a burn boss or IC being sued for a decision that resulted in the loss of structures? I'm sure they would be defended by the government. But then again, what if they weren't. Most District Rangers and other line officers I worked with had this insurance.


11/9 Not sure why you think the lytle spot photo is fake.

I looked at it closely, and was on that fire.

Nothing seems out of the ordinary to me.

And I am sure FFEric would not fake anything!

11/9 Mellie

Here is some info I dug up on the Personal Liability Insurance, It's not a plug for these guys, just some general information about it. I would highly recommend getting it, the cost of it VS the actual Lawyer fees is well worth it. It's a fact that people die on fires and unfortunately this will happen again and again.

Watch your ass.


--------------------------------------- Especially designed for Federal Employees

Lawsuits against Federal Government employees are increasing at an alarming rate. Members of the public, even fellow workers, can bring personal lawsuits against you. You are at risk whenever you are acting within the scope of your job including:

* delegating assignments
* making staff evaluations
* working at your desk
* meeting with the public

Away from your desk, you could be exposed to even greater risk of lawsuits from private citizens. Frivolous or not, it could still cost you thousands of dollars.

Effective October 1, 1999, all Federal agencies are required to pay half the premium cost for most employees up to $150 per year.

The Federal Tort Claims Act states that the government can choose whether or not to defend you. It cannot cover any monetary damages awarded against you personally. Even if the Justice Department refuses to defend you, this plan picks up the full cost of your legal defense and pays covered damages awarded against you (up to the $1 million limit).

This Professional Liability Insurance was specially designed to protect Federal Government employees. You are protected anywhere in the world against losses from lawsuits stemming from the performance of your official federal duties.

This article offers a brief description of the Professional Liability Insurance plan. Details can be found in the Certificate of Insurance which will be mailed to you upon enrollment.

ELIGIBILITY Any full-time employee of the Federal Government working at least 17.5 hours per week is eligible for Professional Liability coverage

* $1,000,000 of professional liability coverage for judgments arising from acts, errors, or omissions committed by you within the scope of your employment.
* Administrative legal defense coverage up to $100,000 to pay the costs of defense and monetary penalties associated with administrative proceedings for acts committed or alleged within the scope of your employment. Coverage is provided for Internal Agency Disciplinary Proceedings; Criminal Proceedings; and Judicial Sanctions for any monetary penalty.
* Protection against judgments involving personal injury, bodily injury and property damage within the scope of your employment.
* Protection against lawsuits that existed before the effective date of coverage provided as an insured that you had no knowledge of such suits and no othere insurance is in force.
* A discovery period of 36 months is effective the day you retire.

This plan pays for your defense cost even against groundless or fraudulent suits. This is in addition to your liability limit and is without limitation. There is no deductible, and where allowed by state law, this plan pays punitive damages up to your coverage limit.

EFFECTIVE OF COVERAGE Coverage is effective on the first day of the month following receipt of the application and payment, except if paying by payroll deduction. Coverage will then be effective on the first day of the pay period for which your premium is deducted.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CONSULTED IN DESIGNING THIS COVERAGE This program was developed with the advice and consultation of attorneys in the Torts Claims Division of the Justice Department tmattrovide the fullest protection possible for you as a government employee. They work in the field daily and are more acutely aware of your needs than anyone else. You should feel confident knowing this is the only professional liability policy developed with the advice of the Justice Department.

EXCLUSIONS Coverage under this plan does not include:

* Any obligation for which the insured or any carrier as his insurer may be held liable under any workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, disability benefits law, or other similar law.
* Damages arising out of willful violation of a penal statue or penal ordinance committed by or with the knowledge or consent of the insured, or damages arising out of acts of fraud committed by or at the direction of the insured with affirmative dishonesty or actual intent to deceive or defraud.
* Liability assumed by the insured under any contract or agreement.
* Bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, or the use of any land motor vehicle designed for use principally on public highways, including any machinery or apparatus attached thereto, or any aircraft or watercraft.
* Property damage to:
* property owned occupied by, or rented to the United States Government or insured;
* property used by the insured;
* property in the care or control of the insured or as to which the insured is for any purpose exercising physical contact (not applicable to property of persons in custody or property under lawful control).
* Any liability for hazardous substances, including asbestos.
* Bodily injury or property damage resulting from accidents caused by nuclear materials. (more)

11/9 Proof is in the pudding.

The local shop guys working off just maintenance records tell us:

1) Chevys are high maintenance; Consumer Reports says the opposite, but they deal in pavement pick-ups.
2) The bigger (3/4 ton up) Fords are pretty decent, and none of the rigs we've seen can keep up with a big ol' high off the ground 6-pak Ford long bed in a foot or two of snow.
3) Dodge produces the least problem rigs on one of the largest FS Districts with plenty of wash boarded roads.

Hot Shot crews ain't what they used to be. With all the new crews someone is going to have to go to tie dye shirts.

Of course, CDF inmate crews have dropped in quality too. Former Governor G. Davis sent all the illegal aliens over to Fed Prisons in a midnight run and the gang felons just can't keep up with former crews of south of the boarder guys just trying to send money home to family. But the bangers do have high return rates that help with the experience issue.

Any good baseball stat keeper knows you cannot compare players from different ages. Then to go a step further; current 20 person shot crews vs. 15 inmates vs. 25 man IR crews that weren't weighed down by shelters and a space stations worth of gear. I still remember what assistant foreman Bill Stewart said about the 'Shot crew attitude coming out of California; "They're worse than jumpers."

Woa now. I'm just saying high maintenance is part of both the mechanical and human equations.

Concerning beer. I must request that all beverage evaluations be confined to rice and corn free products. And we all know what watered down means in our profession. Some dang engine crew. Even though they handle more fires than any other group.

Fuels Guy
11/9 Several things here:

IH vehicles were and are far superior to the big three for torque, longevity, and toughness.

The 401 push is misguided, even with its quals standards, it will push the FS into a bad place.

Module leader responsibility is key, and when retention problems erode that, we are in trouble!

Fuels Guy said:

Concerning beer. I must request that all beverage evaluations be confined to rice and corn free products. And we all know what watered down means in our profession. Some dang engine crew. Even though they handle more fires than any other group.

I agree!

The Dodge P-up I used to drive was junk, tranny problems, big turning radius, and could not walk it's way out of any thick stuff! I am not really a Chevy guy, but my Tahoe is much better. My Scout kick butt on either of them though!



11/8 There is something out there that from what I remember
is called Personal Liability Insurance.

Basically it's insurance to get an attorney

It's a yearly 1000ish cost that gives one an
astronomical amount of money towards lawyers and such.
From what I remember, this is for Government

I know some people out there have this and can more
than likely provide more information on this. When I
was in fire I used to carry this.

I'll try to dig up some more info on it.



I have received an email from a firefighter friend requesting financial assistance for FS employees who may need to mount a legal defense without bankrupting their families. A number of people - from contractors to ICs to groundpounders - have expressed a need for this kind of fund. I agree. Just as our Wildland Firefighter Foundation supports families of fallen wildland firefighters in their time of grief and loss, a legal defense fund helps ensure fair representation and helps defray trial expenses if it comes to that. The post is self explanatory.

I am sending in my contribution.



This is a fund that has been established to assist the FS employees involved with the Cramer fire.....who have the possibility of facing criminal charges.

Cramer Legal Defense and Employee Assistance Fund

November 1, 2004

In July of 2003 a wildfire claimed the lives of two firefighters on the Salmon-Challis National Forest. This tragic fire impacted the lives of many people; including, fallen firefighter family members, survivors, and many other employees.

The accident was investigated by the Forest Service, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Disciplinary actions are moving forward by the Intermountain Regional Forester against several employees. The US Attorney in Boise, Idaho has paneled a Grand Jury to review the facts. Criminal indictments could be returned on one or more individuals.

A legal defense and employee assistance fund has been established to provide financial support to Forest Service employees who need assistance to respond to administrative and potential criminal charges.

Contributions can be made to:

Account No. 1000015584 Cashmere Valley Bank
Cramer Legal Defense Fund P.O. Box 5040
127 Easy Street
Wenatchee, WA 98807

This fund will remain open until April 1, 2005. The Fund Administrator is G. Elton Thomas with assistance from several others. Funds will be distributed on the basis of demonstrated need. Any funds remaining in the account on April 2, 2005, will be donated to the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, Emmitsburg, MD.

A copy of the Fund Charter can be obtained upon request, by writing: Fund Administrator, 1031 Canal Blvd, Wenatchee, WA 98801.

This is a privately established and managed fund that is not sponsored or endorsed by any government agency and it does not have tax exempt status.

Cramer Legal Defense and Employee Assistance Fund Charter

November 1, 2004

Purpose: The purpose of this fund is to provide financial assistance to employees (current or former) involved with administrative and legal proceedings resulting from the Cramer Fire.

Process: Contributed funds will be distributed by a three member Board of Directors, one of whom is G. Elton Thomas, Fund Administrator. The Board will have sole responsibility for these funds and shall develop controls to account for fund distribution and management. Records shall be kept and made available for review.

Distribution: Requests for funds shall be made to the Board in writing and shall be limited to those named in administrative sanctions by the Forest Service and/or are the target of potential criminal charges resulting from the Cramer Fire. Monies from the Fund will only be distributed to current or former employees. Written requests shall be submitted to:

Fund Administrator
Cramer Legal Defense and Employee Assistance Fund
1031 Canal Blvd
Wenatchee, WA 98801

The written notice shall detail the specific reasons for the request. All decisions by the Board are final and are not subject to appeal or litigation.

11/8 Ab: I think you’ve been had. The photo on Fire 25, Lytle Fire Spot, appears
to have been altered. I don’t believe the spot fire is real.


Maybe the photographer can confirm and bring forth witnesses?
11/8 I was at FireTech Reno last week at the Reno Convention Center and while there I visited the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and spoke with the person staffing the booth.

He was very professional, he spoke about the benefits to both government and private contract wildland firefighters, the booth was very well set up and comprehensive in its presentation.

I am a structural firefighter now, but spent many seasons fighting fire to pay for school and the way that the government will discount us if we are seriously injured or killed is shameful. There needs to be a better support system for those in the wildland field when disaster strikes provided by the government. But in the mean time this is the best thing going if the need arises.

I want to encourage all of you who read the They Said board, be it Government or Private, paid, seasonal or volunteer, regardless if you are a first year Firefighter or a 30-year Chief, to join the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and support the mission they have taken on. There may be a day when someone you know will need the support to get through this horrible time, and it is good to know someone has.

11/8 Ab,

According to the Warbird Registry, the Grumman F7F Tigercat
flown as N6177C Tanker 31 crashed in 1974. There is a color
photo of the aircraft and more information here.



Thanks, Fedfire. Interesting bit of history. Ab.

11/8 Lookouts going away?

High-flying firefighting
Remote-camera surveillance gives crews a bird's-eye view of wildfires

HPWren site the article talks about: http://archive.hpwren.ucsd.edu/cameras/


Goldfinches on the feeder birdcam... almost looks like Original Ab's backyard feeder. Ab.

11/8 Rogue Rivers,

Actually I will have to have a waiver under the the new medical standards when they are implemented in my geographic area but no I am not totally blind.

I don't see it as a long term problem, only a short to mid term one. If these folks affected want to retire or stay in current positions, so what. There will be plenty of people willing to move around, over, and through them. The policies driving our business has been changing every year and this is just another change, with 5 years to full implementation. Get on board or you will get left at the dock.

See going Back to school's post below. This is the kind of attitude we need........

I'd give you my "Life is all about choices, and you can always make a new one if you don't like how things are working out." speech, but it would take to much room here.

11/7 Friends:

I finally have to weigh in regarding the GS-0401-thread. I retired a couple of years ago as a GS-0401-12 Fire Management Officer. I retired with a really great firefighter retirement deal in my 50’s. I remain active as a retiree (FBAN/ATGS) and love every minute of it. I will do it as long as I can. This is a great profession!

Old Fire Guy said:

“Enroll in a 4 year degree in a natural resources field. I'd suggest "forestry", but others will do. Pay for college by working on a fire crew or engine crew etc. Continue in fire getting all the training and experience you can. Demonstrate a good work ethic. Become a leader with both education and experience. We need that.”

AMEN! Bravo OFG! That is exactly what so many of us did for so many years to get to where we are now. I started when I was 18. I would not take back a minute of the professional development of my career including both ground-pounding and education. We worked our way through college, took a lot of government sponsored training, and had a blast doing it. We also made a lot of friends along the way.

Experience and Education, the 2E’s, are essential prerequisites in every vocation, every profession. This is certainly the case in land management agencies, especially for wildland fire managers. The wildland fire manager position now requires someone very well educated in the scientific aspects of wildland fire i.e. fire ecology, botany, biology, etc. as well as the political aspects of same As a wildland fire manager you will go mano-a-mano with those dreaded Ologists on the interdisciplinary battlefield. Without the knowledge and credibility of a science-related college education and a whole lot of experience the wildland fire manager simply loses the argument and firefighter safety is compromised. There are many examples of failed wildland fire programs out there for exactly that reason. And firefighter safety is compromised!

Now, all of that having been said, I absolutely believe in the concept of a professional wildland fire management series for GS 9 and higher wildland fire managers. I do not believe, however, that either of the 2E’s should be relaxed from those required for any other federal professional natural resource manager positions. In the aftermath of South Canyon we identified lack of proper management education and planning in wildland fire as a primary cause of tragedy fires. Professional wildland fire managers must be properly educated in both the planning and execution aspects of their responsibilities and must be comparably educated to the rest of the interdisciplinary community. We must do away with the 0401 series for wildland fire management and professionalize into a separate Wildland Fire Manager series to give us unique and equal representation at the table! Yes, redcard qualifications must continue to be a major part of the prerequisite for these positions. We said this in the aftermath of South Canyon almost 10 years ago! Why is this taking so long?

Casey: Keep listening. We need you!
Thanks BLM Bob for website information!
Going Back To School: Enjoy going back to school!
: You have great focus and spirit! Keep it up!! I would like to get you talking to my 21 year old son!

This Summer I had the great fortune of working with a great group of folks on the North Rim. We all studied wildland fire together and looked out for each other for days on end monitoring WFU’s and executing Rx burns (thanks Ed and Dick; MSO Jumpers Bobby, Jen, Rocky, “Axe Murderer” --going back to school?). We all agreed that, as Paul Gleason said it so well, we must all continue to be “Students of Fire”. If we do that we will not only be doing what is best for ourselves and the Earth we will also under our watch keep all firefighters safe.


11/7 This photo was taken at the Ukiah Air Attack Base in
Ukiah California in Aug.1972 and I think the pilot's
name was Harry Chaffy and operated by Sis Q Flying
Service. Thanks Leroy Zwicky for the photo.


Thanks cz. Interesting old black and white. Any more info on it? I posted it on AirTankers 14. Also posted some more photos taken by Mike Evans photos of Lead 88 and T-21 on the Fred and Waterfall Fires. Ab.

11/7 I have posted new photos on the Handcrews 16, the Engines 12, and the Fire 25 Photo pages. felling a tree, the images of Faith, the little engine that could, and some fire from R6. Thanks, Brian and other contributors. Ab.

Fire Fighter Memorial at Bass River State Forest.
Memorial location: N39, 40’, 06.3” by W74, 26’, 27.4”. Greenbush Rd. near the intersection of Stage Rd.
1977 fatality location: N39,37’, 16.8” by W74, 26’, 21.7”. East of Allen Rd. near the intersection of Oswego Rd.

I’m currently unsure of the 1936 fatality location; if I come up with something I’ll update this.

The Bass River Memorial was originally dedicated on May 25, 1976 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary loss of 5 fire fighters (two State Fire Wardens and three Civilian Conservation Corps fire fighters) who were burned over while fighting a forest fire near the Town of Warren Grove in 1036.

On July 22, 1977 four Volunteer Fire Fighters from the Eagleswood Fire Company were killed when their engine was burned over on a fire several miles from this memorial. In 1982 a plaque remembering these fire fighters was added to the existing memorial. Another memorial stone was placed by the fire company in front of the Forest Office.

Bill Edwards
Section Forest Fire Warden
NJ Forest Fire Service

Thanks Bill, I put it on the Memorials page with a link to the memorial photos page from there.

Readers, while you're on the memorial photos page, could you remind me who sent in the photo for the roadside memorial to Shane & Jeff and where it is? Ab.

11/7 Lytle Fire, San Bernardino NF 2003...nice spot fire taking off below the main head of the fire.

Grand Prix Fire, San Bernardino NF October 25th 2003...This photo shows how great the the Santa Ana's were pushing the fire into the urban interface. The hills in the lower part of the photo would be the point of origin of the Old fire in just one hour. I took this picture just before heading into my station...little did I know we would be fighting to save thousands of homes in sixty minutes.

Old Fire, San Bernardino NF October 25th 2003...Took this photo one hour after dispatch. After several hose lays failed we resorted to falling back to the homes and burning out. This is Hwy. 18 just north of San Bernardino. Fire is about to reach the city limits and burn several hundred homes.

I haven't sent photos in before so I was quite sure of which format you wanted, but here you go anyways. Thanks for the great site.

Photos compliment of FFEric

Thanks Eric, I posted them on the Grand Prix/Old/Simi Fire photo page, about halfway down. Ab.

11/7 BLM Bob said:

"- the 401 series will not affect firefighters at a GS-7 and below. Read
the ifpm site."

Yes it will, it affects everyone down to GS-5

"- during the broadcast, one of the panel members stated quite unequivocally
that OPM was _not_ open to creating a wildland firefighter series. That
would seem to indicate that the roadblock is at OPM, not the agencies."

There is evidence to the contrary!


On the inmate crew thread... Old CDF Capt said,

"With over 30 yrs with CDF, 18 yrs as a Crew Capt, I have worked with IHCs on many fires. Some CDC crews are very good type 1 crews and some are not. Some IHC crews are very good and some are not. But to answer the final question, are CDF crews type 1? Just ask the Fed ICs who need crews at intial attack when their own resources are not available. It seems that CDC crews are always type 1 crews. So what is the problem?"

Nope, Look at the NWCG standards! ICs will take what they can get. Face facts, CDF Inmate crews DO NOT meet the standard!


11/6 I am a long time lurker and just have to put in my two cents re: the new fire quals/401 stuff.

I am in an encumbered position, so I have to come up with a college education. I have been a long time agency employee and I don't agree that a my having a degree is going to make the folks I work with safer. But......There is an FMO on a neighboring unit that scares the heck out of me. This person got their job thru the old 401 series and has no fire background. I could write an essay on the stupid decisions I have seen made by this person. A good thing about the new qualifications system is it will weed out folks like this. It is going to be way easier for me to get educated than for this FMO to go from no fire quals to those required in the new plan.

Sign me,
Going back to school...................
11/6 CD, you are correct. People affected by the 0401 series have a choice to make.
Unfortunately, the choice that I'm hearing from many fire managers on my forest
is that they will just retire or refuse to promote.

CD, are you blind to the long term safety hazard this creates?

Rogue Rivers
11/5 Long time lurking, but following the news on Alan thought I'd finally
jump in with the following:

Cramer: The OIG report has been finished and delivered, however it is a
report for the Chief and Regional Forester, not one that is produced for
public distribution. You can bet that the Cramer IC's employment status
changed because of this report. We'll need to see if the Ranger who is
responsible for everything on the district and/or Forest Supervisor who is
responsible for the Forest will have similar life changes. I'd bet not,
besides a change in location they're still collecting GS 13-14 wages and
can probably look forward to retirement when they choose. If the IC is
held responsible, so should they!

IFPM: everyone gets tied up with the 401 issues involved, it's a lot more
than that. Don't overlook the experience and qualifications requirements
that go along with each position identified, they are in reality much more
important to everyone's safety than additional college credits!

Stay safe in all you do.
Ol' Pogue
11/5 A photo came in entitled "Mike-on-pot3.jpg" with this description:

On the pot at Sanhedrin Lookout. The tower survived
the Mendenhall fire (87) but the outhouse did not. What
!! No privacy ?

It's pretty funny, we Abs wish we could share it, but we won't; we've heard that Homeland Security has recently raised the terror alert from “yellow” to “conservative". Thanks cz for the laugh. Ab.

11/5 So here we go down the road of accountability and a “professional” Fire Manager with a family and I assume excellent safety record up to Cramer is out of a job. I just hope I can make it to retirement before someone on my watch gets themselves maimed or killed. Some of the responsibility has to lay with Jeff and Shane’s direct supervisor, who failed to keep watch over his/her charges and must have approved of his/her firefighters being placed on the hill above the head of an uncontained fire. As well as the two deceased firefighters who accepted the assignment.

Litigation, Legislation, OSHA, OIG, 10/18, LCES, IFPM, Medical Standards, Pack Tests, Two-One and on and on and on it goes.

The CDF IC on the Cedar Fire got a promotion after it was all over anyone remember how many fatalities on that fire? Where is the accountability on that one?

11/5 Lobotomy,

BLM Bob pretty much covered where you can find the info I cited, and I will try to cover the other points you asked about.

If our "overworked" employees don't want to spend any more time away from home to deal with these new requirements, then they have a choice to make. It's up to them.

If the employee at the lower grade levels doesn't already have incentive to stay in wildland fire, then I don't believe IFPM will persuade them one way or the other . If they don't want to stay, they have another choice to make.

My district has taken the position that we will help the employees who want to become 401 qualified. This will benefit those at the lower grade levels.

I do think the 401 series is OK for now. I think we will all be under one fire agency before long and that may be a better time to pursue a Wildland Fire Management series, although I am not totally convinced we need one.

11/5 Reading that we have lost another good firefighter with Alan's resignation I
couldn't figure out how to write up my thoughts to come to his defense. JD
covered everything I was trying to convey. You summed it all up in a way
that, knowing Al personally for many years, I wholeheartedly agree with. I
would still fight fire with him and would still work for him if he were an
IC on a going incident.

Anybody else remember being trained to not count on aerial extraction as an
escape route because I sure remember having it hammered into my head when I
was in the shot world?

11/5 The Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages are updated. Also fiddled with the 0401 listings.

I posted 2 new pictures of the Mendenhall Fire ('87) on Fire 25. Some new photos helos including one of the Chester Helitack crew on Helicopters 17 and Helicopters 18. Chester logo is posted on Logos 10. I posted photos on Handcrews 16 of a furry tarantula friend and a handcrew member on Cabin Creek. Thanks contributors.


11/5 jd and all

jd, good comments all around. Thank you.

Let me make it clear that my informational post about the legal process is simply that, an informational post. In no way shape or form do I want to crucify Alan or anyone. That said, I feel that Fire Managers of today need to understand the cumbersome legal processes and growing personal & family risks associated with fighting fire (and managing homeland security incidents). Just as there are more mandated checklists to attend to in the midst of hot interface fires, so also are there new mandated investigations with legal recommendations by OSHA and OIG when things go wrong.

Some questions that have recently crossed my mind:
What happens when somebody dies because the fire manager was busy doing mandated paperwork when fire behavior changed? What climate is created when fire managers get blamed but line officers do not? How do you identify or "take to court" systemic forest issues -- say, those involving past management that influences the current condition of the fire program there? There are human factors issues, too. This stuff is not black and white. It's the color of cheese, swiss cheese.


Carson on the Swiss Cheese Model

Accident Investigation Guide (pdf file)

11/5 Before there is more comment about the Cramer
Fire, let's remember that these people that we read
about on this post, in the official investigation
reports, and in the newspapers are real people. Alan
Hackett is a real individual, Jeff and Shane were real

Not to ever take the focus off Jeff and Shane, I think
it's important to know the person that is so easily
crucified. Let me tell you about Alan Hackett. Alan
cares a lot for the people who work for him. He goes
out of his way to help people. He is honest, kind,
and optimistic. He's a good father. He is a good
friend. Alan has integrity. Alan has taken more upon
himself than we could ever heap on him. And Alan
makes mistakes, but he doesn't run from them.

The reports and articles are out there, and there are
things to learn from them. Let's make sure we're
looking at the actions of folks and not the quality of the

11/5 Hi Tahoe Terrie, last time the question of legal process came up, I did a some
research, but decided not to send it in it at that time. Seemed only fair to let the
process take its course. Here's what I found out in early September:

"Can anyone fill us in on the process? with the 3 reports (FS, OSHA and
OIG)? What's next legally?"

my answer in September that I never sent in:

Following the Cramer Fire deaths, there were 3 reports which were mandated:

  • The USFS Report with the many controversial redactions imposed by the
    Office of Personnel Management (OPM);
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Report after
    which the Forest Service paid a fine; and
  • The Inspector General's Report on whether the handling of the incident
    should result in criminal charges of wrongful death brought against an
    individual or individuals overseeing or related to the incident. This
    was required as a result of the 30 Mile deaths and before that, of Storm
    King. The Inspector General's Report has not yet come out (as of September).

Here's the legal process that usually occurs following release of an Inspector
General's Report
. The Inspector General oversees the Office of the
Inspector General (OIG):

The OIG report makes recommendations regarding criminal liability to the
Department of Justice (DOJ) which is then obligated to act upon them.
The OIG report may recommend no further action or it may recommend that
charges of criminal negligence be brought against one or more people.
If the OIG report recommends criminal charges be brought against
someone, DOJ first asks the state if they want to take the next step in
the criminal proceedings.

If the state says yes, a Grand Jury is convened to see if there's
enough evidence to take the case to trial and the process proceeds at
the state level.

If the state says no, the DOJ must take the next legal step and the
process proceeds at the federal level. The DOJ issues an arrest warrant
and a notice to appear before the Federal Magistrate. Federal marshals
may come and lead the person away in handcuffs. The Federal Magistrate
then follows a legal evaluation similar to that of the Grand Jury, to
see if there's enough evidence to bind the person over for federal

If either the Grand Jury or the Federal Magistrate decides there's enough
evidence, the case goes to trial in state or federal court, respectively.
If the person is not represented by the Agency lawyers and
cannot afford a personal lawyer, starting when charges are first
brought, a public defender is appointed by the state or federal court.

Doesn't the Forest Service have lawyers to defend its employees against
criminal (or civil charges)?

They do, but sometimes employees do not get that defense. The FS lawyers
are from the USDA Office of General Counsel. To determine if they will
represent an employee, it must first be decided if the liability should
be borne at the personal (individual employee) level or at the
governmental (employer) level. Agency legal representation is available
only if the employee is considered to be working "within the scope of
their employment" when the incident occurred. As I understand it,
working "within the scope of their employment" means that when the
incident occurred, the person was doing what they were supposed to be
doing to fulfill their job.

Are the families of the fallen involved creating this court case and process?
No, absolutely not. This process occurs completely independently of the
families' wishes. The DOJ and the state are working on behalf of the
fallen who cannot work on their own behalf. In fact the families of the
fallen may greatly oppose criminal charges being brought and this part
of the legal process would proceed anyway. However, a family can decide
to file a civil suit against individuals (or the Forest Service if the
employee was acting "within the scope of their employment" and the USDA
defends them) for up to 3 years following the death.

What is the difference between a criminal and a civil case?
There are many differences. In a criminal case, a jury must decide
unanimously that a person is guilty. The guilty verdict results in a
sentencing process and may result in jail time. In a civil case there
needs be only a "preponderance of guilt" for a guilty verdict, ie, it
takes only seven or more jurors, not all 12. Civil suits that result in
a guilty verdict often require a cash settlement to the family and there
is no jail time. In civil cases in which the FS lawyers determine that
the FS employee was acting "within the scope of their employment", the
FS legal team takes on representation of the individual who is no longer
at personal financial risk for a guilty verdict.

As you can see from the arrangement that is reported to have been reached, the process is
not cut and dried. What Hackett's "leaving the USFS" means legally, I don't know.


11/5 Lobotomy,

It only took me about 30 seconds of reading the IFPM implementation plan at:


..to find that on page 2 it reads:

It is the responsibility of each bureau or agency to ensure every employee
affected by the IFPM Standard meets the minimum qualification standards by
October 1, 2009. This includes paying for training and associated costs as
well as providing employees with work time to complete the training."

There are a lot of issues and challenges with the IFPM, but everyone that
reads this site could save a lot of time and effort and focus their energy
better if they would just "read the directions." The web site URL has been
posted here a couple of times.

Incidentally the question about paying for the costs for incumbents is also
answered in two places in the IFPM FAQ pages.

As far as training priorities being set to help people meet IFPM, remember
that doesn't mean that _all_ the training resources will be directed to
that - the "GS-4/5/6/7/8 and some 9 folks" that you mention will not be shut
out of training. Think of it like multiple fire priorities - the fires that
have lower priority still get resources and supplies, and they often move up
in priority as the others get handled.

I'm going to hold you to your promise to tell us why the problem with the
wildland firefighter series isn't with the OPM.


11/5 Does anyone know the federal legal process, the reports, or what Hackett's
resignation means for the rest of us?

Tahoe Terrie

11/5 For lack of anything better to do on a Friday morning, I’ll wade into the CDF/IHC foray. I’ve had good and bad experiences with CDF folks, but it seems the least palatable are the ones that stick with you. Last year my wife and I were vacationing in Southern California and I stopped in at a local CDF/county station with the intent of perhaps swapping a t-shirt. Upon seeing a firefighter rolling hose, I inquired if he was indeed interested in swapping a t-shirt. He looked me up and down and with an air of superiority sniffed “No, I don’t think so.” I turned around and walked out.

My first experience with CDF was in 1994, working the fires in Northwest Montana as an engine boss. On one side of a ridge was the Yaak Complex, which I was assigned to, and on the other side was the Koocanusa Complex. We had just arrived at our assigned area, mopping up, when a pick-up came flying up the road, dusted us out, and came to a screeching halt. My engine crew and I were scratching our heads as to who this might possibly be as he came from the other direction of travel we came from. When the dust finally cleared, I got my first look at the driver, the lone occupant, and immediately recognized the CDF shoulder patch on his nomex shirt. Before he did anything, he adjusted his rearview mirror, checked himself out, shook his honey blond hair, donned his aviator sunglasses, and climbed out of the cab. He sauntered over to us and without any introduction told us to initiate a hose lay down the opposite side of the ridge, approximately 2500’, to tie in with some hand crews he had coming up from the bottom. I then asked him who he was and he proceeded to tell me, as if I should already know, that he was DIVS whatever on the Koocanusa Complex. I politely told him who I was, that we weren’t assigned to his division nor were we even assigned to his dam*ed fire. And with that, he blinked a couple of times, hopped back into his truck and sped off down the road, leaving us again in a cloud of dust, never to be seen again.

I have since worked with a number of CDF’ers and found them to be quite good at their job and consider several of them as good friends. We should never let one or two bad experiences guide us in our opinions of others – there are always exceptions. I’ve worked with good and bad shot crews, good and bad Type 2 crews, good and bad engine crews. We accept what we get and find ways to work around and with them.

By the way, I finally got my t-shirt. A good friend of mine, a retired battalion chief from Navarro County, secured one for me after he heard my story.

11/5 From Firescribe:

AP Wire release
Manager of deadly Cramer wildfire leaves Forest Service in deal

SALMON, Idaho – Alan Hackett, the U.S. Forest Service incident commander when two firefighters died in the Cramer fire in 2003, has left the agency, but officials declined to release details of his departure.

11/5 Casey,
I heard you talk about the next session of Congress. What exactly will the FWFSA we going for now and how do we look as far as the firefighter series, portal to portal, and Hazard Pay towards retirement go? I know there are several plans on the table for what kind of portal to portal we will try for, but what do you think we will get if we get anything? What seriously are the our odds of getting something passed this time? I guess I kind of want an update on it all, so I can pass it on to my fellow workers to help encourage them to join the association.

I totally agree with you about the JAC program. I'm getting a feeling that people feel if they do the minimum requirements to advance to the next level then the are owed that job. Some have even talked about filing a grievance if they don’t get it because they have been passed up for it before. Why can't they just understand that upper management feels they don't exhibit the firefighting and manager skills that are required of it. I'm guiltily myself. I sometimes think that it will be easy to move up the chain of command if I just do the tasks books and take the courses. Just cause I've got four good seasons in now doesn't mean I know fire how I should. All us youngsters need to do a lot of listening and learning from the old crusty ones. It perhaps is better than any training course ten fold.

Proud FWFSA member
11/5 CD, re: your reply to Casey....

I read the implementation standards and didn’t see exactly where it said that the government would "pay" for all the required training for the 0401 series. Could you tell me exactly where it is? Also, with the already overworked employees, how will their families feel about even more time away from home as part of the continuing profession?

If the priority for the 0401 training and funding will be incumbents, why is there any incentive for our GS-4/5/6/7/8 and some 9 folks to stay around?

Regarding not discounting the "resources side" of wildland firefighting..... CD you are right and resources is an important part of wildland firefighting. Having a wildland firefighter series would not change the importance of resources management but enhance it.

Biologists, botanists, foresters, rangeland management specialists, soil scientists etc... are all resource management professionals with their own very unique series that accurately accounts for the duties, education required, and complexities of the profession. Is there a problem with wildland firefighters having their own series and being properly classified?


P.S. - Don’t swallow the talk that OPM kept the agencies away from a firefighter series as described in the 0401 webcast... there are some folks who know the truth.. more on that in the future.
11/4 Casey ......

In response to your post regarding the GS-401 series .......

During the IFPM webcast week before last, we faxed in the question of whether or not the agency should pick up the tab on paying for folks to go back to college to obtain the 24 hours required to meet the GS-401 standard. The answer from the representative for Human Resources / Forest Service Washington Office was that yes, the agency would indeed pay for folks in immediately affected positions (all GS-11's and above and some GS-9's) to go back to college, or attend Technical Fire Management, or meet the NWGC quals, or a mixture of NWCG and college. They could attend college classes on government time as well. Because they could potentially be removed from their positions if they do not meet the quals by October 1, 2009 they fell into a different category than those employees that are not in immediately affected positions such as Hotshot Superintendents, Helicopter Managers, Engine Module Supervisors, etc. For folks such as these that are not in immediately affected positions, the agency would continue to pay for TFM or the NWCG classes, but probably not college. I do know of one Forest that is not paying for an employee to go to college, but they are working with her to have a very flexible schedule so that she is able to do that and still work 40 hours per week.

On our Forest we are looking at both groups (immediately affected and not immediately affected) and working to develop Individual Development Plans tailored to help folks get where they need or want to go. The list of qualifying NWCG classes is fairly extensive, and we are trying to get folks in critical classes that can assist them in meeting the quals. Because the GS-401 can be met with a mixture of college and NWCG courses, some of our folks are looking at doing a little of both where they can. There is no easy or correct answer on how to make all of this happen, but we are trying to adapt as quickly as possible in assisting our affected employees that must meet the 2009 date, and in "grooming" our other employees that have their sights on future fire management positions that will be moved to the GS-401. The longer we wait to get going on this, the harder it may be for our employees.

Out of all of this I do see one very positive thing ...... the new IFPM Standards and Guides have Red Card qualifications tied to each position. On our Forest, up to this point, we have not been able to advertise jobs stating that a person must be qualified, as an example; an ICT3, Division/Group Supervisor, and RXB2 to be a District Fire Management Officer. Throughout the webcast different folks kept saying that the implementation of the IFPM would enhance safety. While I personally don't agree that having 24 hours of natural resource courses under my belt will enhance safety, I believe the Red Card quals tied to each of the 14 identified positions in the IFPM will. Thanks for allowing me to comment.

R3 Forest Fire Management Officer

Thanks for writing in. Ab.

11/4 Casey Judd,

Read the Implementation Plan for IFPM. Its available on the NIFC website. It says that the government is responsible for paying for folks to meet the IFPM requirements. This includes both the 401 credits and fire qualifications requirements. The only caveat I can find is that the employee must be the incumbent in one of positions that is required to be 401, and is responsible for taking advantage of every opportunity to meet the IFPM requirements. If they don't take advantage of the opportunities and meet the qualifications, they will eventually be removed from their position. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me if the feds are going to prioritize certain positions for both fireline training and college credits.

The folks that are going to have to fund some of this on their own are those who are in a non 401 mandated job that eventually want to be in one of the 401 positions.

It's yet set to be seen how this will affect training budgets. I would imagine some of the budget will be funded locally and some will be funded at the state/regional level.

Don't discount the 401 series as the correct place to have these positions classified for now. Remember that the resource side of the house is what drives our Fire Management Plans.

Remember that the 401 requirements are only part of IFPM. There is also a list of fire qualifications that goes with each of the 14 key positions.

Let's see.......... Hmmmmmm........... IFPM............... Interagency cooperation under FPA......... Can you say precursor to one Federal Fire Agency.

11/4 Everyone,

I am trying to get up to date on the Memorials/Monument Sites page. I split out the Memorials/Monument Photos (from Miscellaneous photo pages) and put them on their own page, to be referenced by the Memorials/Monument Sites page. The photos page is also linked to photo descriptions with credit given to photographers. Please check your contributions to make sure I have correctly given credit. If you have any more info to share, I'd appreciate it.

I am currently adding the pictures and info that you've sent in during the last year. If you do not see photos or information you contributed on those two pages and the photo description page, please email me. Winslet, Bob K and Kathy B, I have your photos/info to add.

If anyone has corrections or additions, please drop me a line. Thanks, and thanks to new contributors.


11/4 Casey,

I think we are in violent agreement. My suggestion to Wags was as a plan
for students, not current pft employees. I too believe that an agency
should pay for and allow time for mandated new education requirements.

Old Fire Guy
11/3 I can attest to the professional attitude of Growlersburg MKU-45. As a CDC food
service person, I've interviewed the lieutenant in charge of camp #21 and found
him to be a truly knowledgeable food service professional, even though he's a
custody officer and has no food service training. MKU-45 is a top-notch
operation. It's too bad CDC doesn't have any food service folks in the camps.
If it did, I'd be knocking on Growlersburg's door for a job to run the camp
kitchen and MKU-45.

prison cook
11/3 Wags:

With all due respect to "Old Fire Guy," if the FS is going to ram 401 down your throat and discount any experience you have to date, it should be incumbent upon the Agency to pay for your upgrade training.

Its kind of like an "unfunded mandate" by the federal government to the states. They tell the states they have to do something that costs money but then don't give them the money to do it.

Don't know if NFFE was asleep at the switch with this 401 thing but for a youngster coming up in this business, it should be the responsibility of the Agency to attract and retain talent that will stay in the service as a career. You don't do that by taking them off the clock for 8 hours in any given 24 hour period while on assignment and you don't do that by mandating education and expecting the employee to pick up the tab.

The FWFSA will do everything in its power politically next session of congress to ensure that Congress gives the Agency a mandate..."you want them educated...pay for it...!" Of course we're not convinced 401 is the way to go. In fact, although many of our members may already be in compliance, it puts an undue burden on younger folks. There has simply got to be a better solution for all concerned. Unfortunately, bureaucrats take a bureaucratic approach to solving these things and, as we all know, that isn't always where the common sense lies.

This all refers us back to the fundamental, inherent argument of what wildland firefighters are, or should be. Recognizing there is a "season" of firefighting and that in order to retain employment, you've got to do something else through the remainder of the year, all we ask is that the employees, the firefighters, be able to have a voice in their future.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
11/3 BLM Bob & SRJS & Old Fire Guy,

Thanks for your help with the 401 series, that
website was just what I was looking! SRJS, I share similar concerns as
you, I want to see experienced not just educated fire managers in
place. However, as a student NOW it is important for me to ensure the
degree I'm working towards will support me further down the road. In
10-12 years I don't want to have to go back to school because I failed
to look and plan ahead.

Thanks everyone, take care
11/3 Wags,

Enroll in a 4 year degree in a natural resources field. I'd suggest "forestry", but others will do.
Pay for college by working on a fire crew or engine crew etc.
Continue in fire getting all the training and experience you can. Demonstrate a good work ethic.
Become a leader with both education and experience. We need that.

Old Fire Guy
11/3 Re Series 401

Get on the ground experience and after crewboss, with 8-12 years of fire experience on the ground, maybe less in the hotshot world, then worry about the GS 7 and above, but until then just sit back and learn as much as you can from the ones who will be retiring in the near future. In my humble opinion this probably the biggest problem with the apprenticeship program, that a large amount of new apprentices just want to know how do I move up, and what classes are needed to move up. With all of the retirement projected in the next 5 - 10 years we will have a lot of "educated" fire managers out there without tons of actual fire experience.

11/3 Re Series 401

Here you go - pay particular attention to the FAQs:

Or the short version: get some sort of natural resources BS degree and lots
of fire experience and training.

11/3 MG
The original reference is:
Brown, J.K. 1974. Handbook for inventorying downed woody material. USDA Forest Service Technical Report INT-16.
You may be able to find one in a University Library.

Down Woody Inventory Manual:

11/2 Ab,

As a college student and seasonal fire fighter looking to make fire
my career I was wondering if you or anyone could give some
clarification regarding the 401 series. What do we need as fire
fighters to advance beyond a GS 7? What are the educational
requirements? Is the 401 series the series all federal fire positions
above a 7 will be going to?


11/2 Ab, if you could post.

The Laguna Hotshots are in the process of building
a training/day room. We are looking for old crew photos to hang around the
training room. Here is the years we need: 1974 to 1979, 1980 to 1989 and
1992 to 1999. We would also like, if possible, location where the photo
was taken and crew members names in photo. Photos can be mailed to:

Laguna Hotshots
PO Box 418
Descanso, Ca 91916

You can either send a scan version or we can scan an original and return to
you. Our email system will only allow I believe 25MB attachments. So
depending on the size you can also email to: dbaldridge@fs.fed.us. Any
assistance would greatly be appreciated. It would be great to do this
small tribute to our past Laguna Hotshots.

Laguna Hotshots

If anyone wants to send some here, I can make sure the shots get em in the right form. Ab.

11/2 Ab,

Just a quick note to let all know that the L.P. Hotshots based in the Los
Padres National Forest, will be recognized (not sure of the date) for their
outstanding work during the devastating fires a year ago in Southern

The Los Padres N.F. Forest Supervisor (Gloria Brown) said the Regional
Forester's Special Act Award is given only to firefighters who have shown
outstanding leadership and who have worked aggressively to control a
wildfire helping to significantly limit the fire's threat to human life and

The citation accompanying the award notes that the Los Padres Hotshots were
instrumental in slowing the advance of the 280,278-acre Cedar Fire last
October as it approached the towns of Julian and Pine Hill in southern San
Diego County. The crew's efforts allowed sufficient time for additional
firefighting resources to arrive and protect the towns from the quickly
advancing wildfire.

It’s good to see the Hotshot community get some positive and well deserved
recognition for all their hard and dangerous work. Outstanding job LP, and
a big congratulation from this old hotshot!

V Calvert

Good job. Ab.

11/2 Ab,

Here is a photo of the firefighter memorial for Denis Lee Cullins who died on September 29, 1987 on the Lauder fire. Denis was a Helitack crew member on Copter 102 from Kneeland Helitack in Humboldt Co. California. I was part of the rescue team that treated and medivaced the crew off the fire. This process took several hours from locating the crew to treating their burns and placing them in burn kits. Then a Coast Guard helicopter with a cable winch raised each victim one at a time off the fire and flown to a waiting medical helicopter and flow the the burn center in Chico, CA

Bob Zwicky

I put a link to it on the Wildland Firefighters' Monument and Memorials page (under Mendocino NF, Lake Co CA).

11/2 Ab,

Judging from the increased traffic on the Firecamp servers, the Cramer Fire report images are a popular item. I hope they are put to good use in training presentations or informal discussions in fire stations, dispatch centers and FMOs around the country.

When the Cramer report first came out in January, I was one of the Theysaid readers who complained about all the redactions (white-outs of names, places and actions), the text quality and large size of the .pdf files. As far as the redactions are concerned, I am satisfied that the July version presents the details the fire community needs to know.

The Management Evaluation Report (MER), in fact, now is not redacted at all. But, the copy on the USFS website is still a poor-quality scan of a printed document, which is hard to read and is not capable of cut-and-paste copying. With about six hours of work, we have created a webpage version of the MER at www.coloradofirecamp.com/Cramer/index.php. Our hope is that more people will read, share and learn from what happened.

My wife thinks it's weird that I get up in the middle of the night to work on this stuff. I can't really explain to her why I'm doing it.

On Sunday, I'll fly out to Emmitsburg, MD to attend an ICS train-the-trainer class at the National Emergency Training Center. I suppose I might gain some personal insight when I visit the Fallen Firefighters' memorial to find the names of Jeff and Shane.

vfd cap'n

Thanks for taking on the project of clarifying the report and for bearing the expense of greater bandwidth use. (Be careful you don't get fined for going over bandwidth.) We Abs know both the expense in time and the monetary cost that can result from making information more widely and clearly available. Thanks for providing the service. Ab.

11/2 Please Everyone, go VOTE.


11/2 Best vs better, Proof is in the pudding.

The local shop guys working off just maintenance records tell us:
1) Chevys are high maintenance; Consumer Reports says the opposite, but they deal in pavement pick-ups.
2) The bigger (3/4 ton up) Fords are pretty decent, and none of the rigs we've seen can keep up with a big ol' high off the ground 6-pak Ford long bed in a foot or two of snow.
3) Dodge produces the least problem rigs on one of the largest FS Districts with plenty of wash boarded roads.

Hot Shot crews ain't what they used to be. With all the new crews someone is going to have to go to tie dye shirts.

Of course, CDF inmate crews have dropped in quality too. Former Governor G. Davis sent all the illegal aliens over to Fed Prisons in a midnight run and the gang felons just can't keep up with former crews of south of the boarder guys just trying to send money home to family. But the bangers do have high return rates that help with the experience issue.

Any good baseball stat keeper knows you cannot compare players from different ages. Then to go a step further; current 20 person shot crews vs. 15 inmates vs. 25 man IR crews that weren't weighed down by shelters and a space stations worth of gear. I still remember what assistant foreman Bill S said about the 'Shot crew attitude coming out of California; "They're worse than jumpers."

Woa now. I'm just saying high maintenance is part of both the mechanical and human equations.

Concerning beer. I must request that all beverage evaluations be confined to rice and corn free products. And we all know what watered down means in our profession. Some dang engine crew. Even though they handle more fires than any other group.

Fuels Guy
11/1 MG

The accepted way to get tons per acre is

"Brown's planar intercept for dead and down fuels" however I believe it's
currently out of print.

Another way is to use the FMAPlus program which can be purchased at:

www.fireps.com (I think the page is currently down though................)

11/1 MG... try this link out.


11/1 How does one measure "tons per acre" I am looking for
the formula for all fuels types (stuff on the ground).

Know of a good website?


11/1 Hey Everyone,

I am also asking anyone from the Waterfall Fire or
anyone from, or close to, Diamond Mtn. IHC to nominate
Walter for the Stihl Award (See Mellie's message from
10/30). I had heard of the incident, but did not
realize it was Walter who did it. And like me, if any
of you know him, you were not surprised. He is
selfless, hard-working and a natural at this business.
So if you have information on him or the incident,
please step up & nominate him, Lord knows he did.


Readers, please be sure and read my comments on 10/30 welcoming Stihl back as sponsor of theysaid and requesting you send in nominations for their Heroism Award. Thanks, Ab.

11/1 With over 30 yrs with CDF, 18 yrs as a Crew Capt, I have worked with IHCs on many fires. Some CDC crews are very good type 1 crews and some are not. Some IHC crews are very good and some are not. But to answer the final question, are CDF crews type 1? Just ask the Fed ICs who need crews at intial attack when their own resources are not available. It seems that CDC crews are always type 1 crews. So what is the problem? Old CDF Capt
11/1 A couple of quick notes on the 401 series issue:

- the 401 series will not affect firefighters at a GS-7 and below. Read
the ifpm site.

- during the broadcast, one of the panel members stated quite unequivocally
that OPM was _not_ open to creating a wildland firefighter series. That
would seem to indicate that the roadblock is at OPM, not the agencies.


However if you do not plan ahead, and get to GS-7 without 401, you might wonder how you arrived at such a dead end regardless of your fire expertise, people managing skills, etc. Ab.

11/1 Ab, I ran across some interesting documents on the Fire Leadership website.

Lynn Biddison Interview and Bio

Region 5 Fire Director Biddison Letter to the Chief and to Forest Supervisors

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