March, 2005

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3/31 Nor Cal Tom,

I agree with your post in regards to Bosworth.

I hope a lot more firefighters than you think back off in the W/U and say
" _ _ _ _ it " when the dung hits the rotors. Why do we think the W/U is
so much more dangerous than a wilderness or roadless fire? Most fatalities
in the last 10 years have not even been in the W/U. South Canyon, 30 mile
and Cramer were all far removed from any structures, with South Canyon
being the closest. I think the W/U can actually be a safer environment
because it causes our Situational Awareness to raise a few notches.

Every wildland firefighter would do well adopt the attitude that
be tempted to perform some supposed feat of heroism and get ourselves
injured or killed trying to protect a stack of lumber.

I am sorry for all you ignorant people who think you have to build your
dream home in a pucker brush patch or at the head of a canyon on a dead end
road. I am not going to risk my or my firefighters lives to save your
junk. If you do your part and develop some defensible space with decent
access and egress I might hang around a bit longer. Otherwise I will toss
out a red rock in your driveway and move on to your more intelligent
neighbor's residence and save their part of the "American Dream".

3/31 the cynic

I can't believe you would say that if more I.A.s get
away so what. Give me a break. Also no one said that
less money would translate to a less safe operation,
but if more I.A.s get away then people are more
exposed to larger fires which increases the chances of
people being hurt or killed. So I suggest you
re-think some of your thoughts. Maybe if more people
stood up to what is right and not just sit back and
say oh well "what can you do" things might get better.
It's time we start trying to make things better and
not just take it as in years past.

3/31 Cynic,

The last time it played out forests on the Salmon Challis merged, there was a
reduction in fire (and other) positions and a chronically unfilled Forest FMO position
that led to fire manager overload and contributed to deaths on the Cramer Fire. Fire
managers have too many expectations placed on them by people who don't
understand fire and who don't understand human factors in stressful situations like
IA --- like Manager Bosworth who could give a rip about firefighters. He's
not a leader, he's simply another appointed not-educated-in-fire MANAGER, playing
his role in setting up the next tragedy. Interesting how no one at his level is ever held
accountable for HIS HOLE in the swiss cheese.

Now we have criminal negligence insurance. Big WHUP, we can proceed as before.
Clearheaded and focused on the task of fighting fire knowing we have a stable of lawyers
backing us up. Will people die? Probably, specially if it's a bad W/U fire season and people
are stretched. How many times on the W/U interface do firefighters step back and say we're
going to let it burn because we're short on resources?. What can really be done to
mitigate the causes of fire manager overload and a lot of inexperienced firefighters on
the line?

You spout the party line. Give me a break.

NorCal Tom

Ab, please add. I think I'm more angry at acceptance of the status quo expressed by Cynic
than I am of Bosworth's letter. At least Bosworth has an excuse for not seeing the bigger
fire setup.

3/31 I have to admit I am getting a bit of a kick out of the posts related to budgets and Bosworth's letter. This same scenario has played itself out countless times through the decades. Although I am not a fan of Bosworth's, he certainly is not the first Chief to send out a rah, rah do more with less letter. I suspect just about every chief has done so, some several times. I would be surprised if Bosworth is not aware of the impacts already. To indicate he is not concerned about firefighters safety is blasphemous at best and I would hope such statements are the result of frustration. Should we bemoan the facts to our supervisors, absolutely, we would be derelict not to do so. They need to be made aware of the impacts, but after that it is time to figure out what will be accomplished with the paltry dollars that do show up.

I do not buy the argument that less money translates to a less safe operation. If anyone really believes that I would suggest it be re-thought.

We take the money we get and figure out how many of a given resource we can finance, meeting the standards for those particular resources. It is a fact we are not going to have as many, but that does not absolve us of the responsibility to ensure the ones we do have are well trained and meet the standards for their particular position. Now if there are supervisors out there that are saying we are not going to meet the standards that is scary and needs to be addressed, and I would ask that it be put in writing on official letterhead. I saw nothing in "the letter" that indicated we were to compromise standards.

Neither have I seen anything that indicates we will lose a significantly higher percentage of fires on IA. I don't think the facts bear that out, the percentage of fires lost on IA has not changed significantly in the last 15 -20 years. But if we do, so what? You do the best you can with what you have.

The "do more with less" axiom has been around much longer than any of us and is not likely to go away in our time either. That does not mean we have to like it, but it is a fact and and just like anything else we deal with it. I know I don't lose any sleep over it anymore.

the cynic
3/31 Hey anybody know what's happening with the new generation fire shelters?
Are the old style shelters facing extinction any time soon?

There's a slightly larger sized P-38 (more like a P-47) I bought at a Army/Navy
surplus store that rips through a can of sardines pretty quick and still fits on a
key chain.

3/31 good poem by a long time fire guy. DF

well folks, i'm on short final with flaps and wheels down and looking
forward to a loooooooong run out... it has been great and i wish you all
the best G Elton Thomas

End of the Line
G. Elton Thomas
April 1, 2005

It's the end of the line,
I can see it so clear!
I wasn't so sure that
I'd ever be here.

The journey just started,
So it seems to me.
And now it is over, but then
That's how it is supposed to be.

The Malheur National Forest
On Vinegar Hill spire.
Mom and dad
Spent the 1940 summer looking for fire.

After the war, dad
Began and ended his career
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
LaGrande District Fire Control Officer.

I grew up in the Forest
Hiking, huntin' and fishin'.
Wanting to follow dad's footsteps
A second generation tradition.

My career has been awesome,
It was simply the best.
Covering much of Oregon and Washington
In the Pacific Northwest.

A precious wife, son and daughter
Joined me on the journey.
A grand adventure
Each with our own special memory.

The people we've met
And the places we've seen
Combine to fulfill
The most incredible dream.

Union, Baker City,
Lakeview and Toketee.
Portland, Winthrop, Portland again
And finally to Wenatchee!

Montana, California and New York City,
Forida, Nevada, South Dakota and New Dehli
Fire fighting and emergencies
Took me where I never expected to be.

42 years in the Service
I have been blessed beyond measure.
There are a few regrets
But lots of memories to treasure.

Each one of us is given
A few significant events
That intersect a life, where only
Divine intervention makes sense.

A day to live over,
July 10, 2001, for me.
Four young firefighters,
Never more to see.

Their lives speak to us!
Live each moment as though it's the last,
Appreciate the present, look to the future
And remember the past.

I've learned a few things
The most important I cheer.
It's relationships with people,
Cherish and hold them dear.

Well, the curtain is drawn
This act has come to a close.
With the help of family and friends,
I'm ready to face what only God knows.

3/31 In response to Dale Bosworth’s Letter;

I respectfully disagree with "your take". Congress and the Administration may expect a comparable level of preparedness as last years, however without the funding there is no way we will be able to provide that. On the District where I work we are reduced in preparedness effectively 50%. We are also in deficit spending NOW, and fire season hasn’t even begun.

As far as complaining about budgets; I feel that it is MY responsibility to let those in charge know if we do not have sufficient resources to SAFELY accomplish the task at hand, and that includes "complaining about budgets". Perhaps Dale is hesitant about approaching Congress or the Administration to explain the situation and ask for additional funding (didn’t Congress agree to fund Fire at 100% MEL just a few years ago). If so that tells me that he is not as concerned about the safety of Wildland Firefighters as he should be. Perhaps Dale would rather personally talk to the Families of those Firefighters who die in the coming years and try to explain why the resources to fight fire were cut, resulting in increased exposure to those left to fight the fires that got away, than talk to Congress.

I am more than a little upset when the money that is supposed to go towards suppression is diverted towards something else (such as funding the HR consolidation), then we are told to produce more with less resources. As a supervisor my first duty is the safety of all my crew-members ( from myself to the lest experienced of them), then it is providing the resources (tools, training, funding, whatever) needed to safely complete the assigned task. If I cannot provide the necessary resources, then I need to go to my supervisor ad find a solution. Perhaps the solution is to leave the task unfinished, perhaps it is to find a way to acquire the needed resource. At ay rate it is the Supervisors responsibility to ensure adequate support and resources and to not just say "do more with less".

Lead, Follow or Get out of the way!

3/31 Hey everyone

It has been years since I have written but I was wondering if anyone knows where I can find 2005 predictions for the season or predicted weather patterns? I have checked out the NIFC site and also the Eastern Great Basin Dispatch webpage. I can't find what I am looking for, although I don't exactly know what I am looking for. I know in the past I have found "predictions" for the season but I can't find one for '05. An OT prediction would be perfect though....

Hoping for a hot season..

3/31 Hi Abs

In response to GGF and Beth, I recall reading concerns about complete
fire control from earlier than the 1940s. 1928 is stuck in my mind, and I
think the concern was first expressed from an academic source rather than
an agency source. Although I can't remember where I read it, it's probably
buried in the Forest History Society web site.

FHS is a fine resource for those interested in such things, with a data base
that's become mind boggling in the past few years. www.lib.duke.edu/forest/


3/31 Oliver,

I believe you summarized our points of difference and agreement well enough. It sounds like you should well consider attending the 2005 Timber Faller Roundtable Dec. 9/10 at the OSU LaSells Stewart Conference Center. The Faller Roundtable will provide the opportunity for all kinds of varying viewpoints to come together (from throughout the U.S. and from private industry and state & federal agencies) to discuss the issue of commercial fallers on the fireline. And, regardless of our differing views, I am very much convinced polite (yet spirited and even occasionally passionate…) dialog educates and serves to break down needless barriers. Discussion doesn’t always bring different perspectives together. It does, however, give us an opportunity to share them, and perhaps how we came about them and understand views that are different from our own.

My project is not a “research paper” – it’s a graduate level 12-month research project that is the precursor to the creation of a commercial timber faller cross training program to prepare fallers for work on the fireline. If you’re not jazzed about the S130-S190 requirement, well I don’t suppose you’ll be all that excited about the cross training program either. But that’s okay. I can deal with that.

Regarding worker comp – state coverage is different than federal coverage. Also, though state pays overtime, federal agencies do not. That is because the state operates under a different employer jurisdiction than does the federal government. Self-coverage – which is what federal coverage is – is not handled in the same way worker compensation is handled. To illustrate this, we could discuss how fallers/sawyers have been treated in regard to their injuries over the past decades – both agency and private sector. I’m sure Krs <snip> would be happy to speak to this. Also, until the award of PSOB benefits to faller Allan Wyatt’s family last year, commercial fallers weren’t considered firefighters under the AD program, but support personnel. And so, if an AD faller was killed on a wildland fire, their family did not qualify for death benefits. The DOJ appeal decision to award Wyatt’s family death benefits last year, changed that. It was a precedent setting case. Commercial Fallers working on the fireline are now consider “firefighters” per the Dept. of Justice definition. Under that definition, fireline fallers should then receive adequate basic firefighter training (S130-S190).

I’m not sure what doesn’t “add up” for you regarding the Faller Module program. But, truthfully, it’s more important that it “add up” for the commercial fallers who work under it.

I also have this question for you. Why is employing fallers on the fireline “brokering,” and employing them in the line of timber harvest somehow more acceptable to you? A word of caution…terminology has a genetic-like finger print on it. You’ve used a number of terms and references that suggest something bad will happen if guidelines are established for commercial fallers working on the fireline, or if they are trained in basic firefighting principles. Now THAT logic doesn’t add up in my mind. You mentioned OROSHA and OSHA with an air of warning in your recent post. I believe both of those agencies are concerned with keeping workers safe. I would hate to think you have a problem with that. Whether working on the fireline or on a timber harvest project, fallers deserve fair pay, sufficient training and adequate insurance coverage. Under the AD Faller program they have none of these things (the rub here between us, I believe, is that you think adequate training is being provided. The message I’m hearing loud and clear from fire management and operations folks is that fallers are often ill-prepared in this regard). I find it interesting that you discuss the inadequacy of the AD Faller pay but then brush it off in a fairly cavalier manner. You also mentioned fallers are willing to work on the fireline as some sort of community duty. Oliver, for the life of me, I can honestly say I haven’t talked to any fallers anywhere (that would include throughout about 5 states ) who are rushing to do community service in the way of wielding their chainsaws on fire. Usually, one of the first things I’m asked is “How much are you paying?” …which seems to be foremost on the majority of fallers’ minds. I think it has a lot to do with filling their transfer tanks with fuel and feeding their families.

Your comment regarding fallers depending on fires for part of their annual income is a common disqualifying remark I’ve heard a number of times, but primarily from state personnel. It appears to be a fairly common theme, and a way to disregard attempts to improve the fireline faller hiring program. The fact is, Oliver, I think you might want to take your pen knife and widen your peep hole a bit. Or, I have about 8 chainsaws in my garage that might do the trick. The commercial timber faller workforce is diverse, and widely scattered. While you have a view of how things operate in your neck of the woods, things don’t work that way in all other areas. For example, there may be pockets of timber harvest capable of keeping “local fallers” working pretty much full time. This occurs in areas such as parts of Douglas County, parts of the Willamette and in Western Washington. Fallers are able to stay close to home…and their families…and work. However, other areas don’t offer the luxury of timber related falling jobs year round, or with any semblance of regularity. So, many fallers must travel to where the work is. We’ll call this part of the faller workforce “transient” – because they are. Now, some areas of the country have a fairly active fire season, and when the humidity drops (and temps rise) and fire danger peaks, jobs are often shut down unless waivers are issued to continue work. In these cases, fallers are laid off. These fallers, though they cut commercially when and as they can, look to fireline falling to supplement their income. To discredit them for doing so is short sighted. Suggesting they should consider a career change is trite. Suggesting any of this while not working as a commercial timber faller yourself is unacceptable in my view.

Using the term “local faller” to discredit fallers willing to travel to work is unfair and unwarranted, and it is another method used to discredit fallers who seek fireline employment as somehow being inadequate. I have a great book I’ve read to my kids over the years. It’s pretty dog eared now. It’s a Dr. Suess book about Sneetches. Dr. Suess was a brilliant philosopher who managed to give us lessons about such things as bigotry and prejudice in the form of children’s stories. The Sneetches story is particularly apropos here.

Perhaps you think I’m being a bit harsh. Dealing with the timber faller workforce is harsh. Doing so while some in agency employ disqualify attempts to improve working conditions and pay for fallers – while they personally have regular salaries and benefits – is frustrating. Regular pay and knowing your children have health insurance doesn’t exactly provide an empathetic viewpoint of how many fallers live. These are some of the issues I’ll be exploring in my nationwide faller study. I’ll be researching the extent and condition of the faller labor force throughout the U.S., including Alaska. Perhaps this information will help in the development of a program that truly does consider the best interests of commercial fallers. Fortunately, there are some solid agency folks – both state and federal - who are committed to improvements in this area. I can’t express how thankful I am for them.

Shari Downhill
3/30 Here are some timber felling web sites that could be of some use. The OSHA
site has some possible training use.





3/30 ncbrush6 - your "shorts and sandals" volunteer fire chief is probably
too dense to understand the risks (was he smoking an unfiltered "Camel"
while talking to you??).

So, a few suggested phrases to throw at him in an attempt to get his
attention: felony negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter, personal
liability lawsuit.

Maybe that will start him thinking about the implications to him
personally when something goes wrong with the "good ole boys"
under his command and control?


3/30 “Old Sawyer”

If you are looking for procedural info on falling, D. Douglas Dent’s “Professional Timber Falling – A Procedural Approach” is excellent. Doesn’t cover fire specifically, but his video series does (although the series will cost you the equivalent of a Stihl 660 to purchase!). Of course, as an “Old Sawyer,” I am sure you have read/seen these…

Was Ex-R2LY, now StumpShot
3/30 A bit of humor to share...

Scientist have discovered a new element - The Heaviest Element - Governmentium

A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest chemical yet known to science. This new element has been tentatively named "Governmentium".

Governmentium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy
neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take less than a second.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of four years; it does not decay but instead, it undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypocritical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass." You will know it when you see it. When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element which radiates just as much energy since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Were they studying the R5 hiring process when they discovered this? Ab.

3/30 Ab,

How do we get in touch with Doug Campbell?


Take a look on the Classifieds page for a link to his website and contact info. Ab.

3/30 Old Sawyer,

The BC folks participated in the 2003 Timber Faller Roundtable and were a bit miffed we didn’t hold a 2004 version. I believe they intend on being at the 2005 Roundtable. In 2003 they brought with them their Hazard Tree Fallers Assessment Course. I’ll be asking them to bring it again this coming December to Corvallis. Also, though its not at a hazard tree faller caliber yet, the first version(s) of the “Up the Ante” program are available at www.fs.fed.us/r1/projects/haztree_index.shtml and address hazard tree identification and assessment, though not falling . The site provides related hazard tree links, as well. Paul Chamberlain from the Missoula Fire Depot worked on this project, which is evolving. Paul also presented at the 2003 Roundtable.

Shari Downhill
3/30 Scott Vail, Type I IC and FMO on the Eldorado NF,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, and Happy Retirement. Or am I a month early???

Thank you for your contributions.


3/30 GGF re fire in the natural scheme of things:

I did a paper last year and I'm pretty certain it was George McDougall an asst park naturalist NPS in 1943 (? probably Yellowstone?) who is credited with first publicly suggesting that fire burning in the environment was important part of ecosystem cycles. What guts! I looked in my notes. It wasn't until 1972 that Yellowstone began its Wildlife Project Management Policy -in which lightning caused fires were allowed to burn. I heard this created only 1 acre of burned area the first year and 2 acres the second year. Generally lightning busts are accompanied by rain to put fires out. It was explained to me that the combination of fuel loading due to bug kill, blowdown, drought etc and ignition without much rainfall to put it out (continued drought) only make for serious burn years like 1988 every 300-400 years. And that burning is critical for releasing nutrients back into the environment and releasing seeds. Things don't decompose there like they do here in coastal OR where I am, because it's too dry. They burn instead.

I've wondered if most of the firefighters who participated in that summer of Yellowstone fires have retired by now. I sure would like to hear some stories. I don't recall that anyone died even with all the extreme fire behavior craziness. Could that be right? I bet there were some close calls.


PS. missing the smoke.

3/30 Hey Ab,

Could you enlighten me as to why the USFS has an age limit to qualify for a permanent "FIRE" position. I came to wildland firefighting later in life, I truly love the work and am fully devoted to the cause. I have to say though I've never heard a good explanation as to why there is a magical 37 years old cut off. I have seen several very qualified folks go through a lot of grief and lose sleep over this. It seems to me we shouldn't penalize folks with experience who left for a few years or those who spent time in other fields and come to wildland firefighting later in life. I realize there are only so many permanent "FIRE" positions available but maybe the creation of a professional Federal wildland firefighting agency would create more positions.. just a thought…

forever a "seasonal"….

Thinking is that to get in the 20 years before mandatory retirement at 57, firefighters must start before 37. Ab.

3/30 For those of us who fall trees outside the fire context and will never get
the training, there is an informative handbook, the Fallers' and Buckers'
Handbook, available to download from the British Columbia Workers'
Compensation organization at this site:


Does anyone know of a similar handbook for Fallers working fires?

"Old Sawyer"
3/30 For temps looking for jobs

I see on some of the posts that some people are having
a hard time finding temp jobs. I just wanted to let
people know that we are having a hard time finding
people on the Six Rivers, Mad River Ranger District.
We are looking for GS3-GS5. We are going to pull more
certs from Avue later in the week or early next week.
Call Dale 707-574-6411 for any info. That number is
also my fax machine so if you don't reach me the first
time try again later.


3/30 Shari,

I accept your challenge ...but only if we use the same working definitions for qualified and competent. I've always stated that I was speaking from my little peep hole into the world. . I have always found enough qualified fallers to do the job. Not only were they qualified to do the job but most were competent as well. I'm using my thirty three years of experience using fallers on the fire line to quantify my observations to meet your challenge.

I have never argued that the pay scale for fallers is adequate. It's true I said we don't have a problem hiring qualified fallers at the AD rate but I personally don't agree with the AD pay they receive. The spin you put on other payroll issues don't add up. The fallers I use are already employed elsewhere in the timber industry. Falling hazard trees on a fire is not a regular job for them. That is, they don't derive the majority of their pay or benefits from this occasional work. And the fact is AD employees are covered by workers comp and they are paid OT. We are talking about a shift or two of work as an AD on most fires where a faller is needed. I know... I know... larger fires will have far more shifts and a felling boss will be assigned to direct and evaluate their work and provide the oversight necessary for safety.. and they will spend at least three shifts rat-holed in a staging area. If fallers are depending on fire season for employment I suggest they consider a career change. The fallers I know don't want a job on the fire line but most are willing to answer the call when needed.

Organizing the fallers may produce access to a few more competent fallers but I think the success rate will still be in the 80/20 principle range. 80 percent of the fallers will be qualified and competent and 20 percent will just be qualified. I think this is true of fire managers, fire fighters, contractors, school teachers...etc. Everyone doesn't operate at 100 percent everyday of their work life. 9 out of 10 people would admit to this and the 10th person would be lying.

You and I just disagree on some points... I believe fallers shouldn't be a brokered commodity under a contractors control. You believe the opposite. I believe I can provide adequate supervision to mitigate the fire line safety concerns for the non-agency faller (AD). You believe the best approach is to train every faller to a firefighter 2 with the standard 32. You believe there is a large problem with obtaining qualified fallers. I believe the problem isn't large (at least in my neck of the woods) or unique to finding qualified fallers. I believe a positive change in the AD rates would most likely cause an increase in the number of fallers willing to work the fire lines along with other timber industry resources such as tenders and dozers. You believe there are many fallers willing to attend 130/190. I have offered to teach 130/190 to fallers and other industrial resources and received minimal response so I'm still trying to formulate an opinion or belief on this subject. Not bad disagreements as I see it. (If I captured your beliefs correctly.)

We do agree on some issues: I agree the invitation is unnecessary <grin>...I agree with your soup kitchen analogy ...and having spent several weeks searching for the meaning of life in a little commune called Tacoma during 1970 (I think...yes it was 1970...?..I think?), I discovered listening to the minority voice to be a necessary foundation (for me) when examining the need for change. The majority comment was given as humor (as a small lad I use to poke bee nests with willow sticks). Lastly... I think we both agree that we probably won't change each others opinion in this forum.

My grandmother also had a few sayings...Oliver get a haircut and... Oliver ... If you can look in the mirror each morning and like what you see...you probably didn't do anything wrong the night before.

Good luck with the research paper. If you haven't worked with or had a chance to sit down and talk to Professor Garland at OSU I think you should. He is a great information source on the subject of forest industry and logging equipment converted to fire suppression use. He and I don't always agree but I respect his knowledge and opinions.

3/30 Need info..

Does anyone know who was the first in land mgmt to suggest publicly that
fire was important in the natural scheme of things? this is following the 1910
fires and the "put 'em out by 10 AM policy"? Was it FS or NPS?


I bet NPS. FS had Smokey. Ab.

3/30 <------------- As Ab said, many FS crews in the west are getting cut this year, so it might be a bit tough to get a job now. I know this from personal experience because my job (along with 3/4 of the other seasonal positions on my district) got cut, and the same scenario is being played out across Region One. ------------->

I am a long time lurker and a first time contributor....

Any one know about cuts in region 5? I have a job lined up on a type 1 crew on the LP...still have not received paper work or anything, I am being told it's being held up at the forest headquarters but still should be a matter of time. Hopefully I actually have a job....


Region 5 is plowing ahead as fast as mud with hiring. At least we're hiring... However, the R5 Forester wants to see your app. No one gets hired 'til their application crosses his desk. It will help if you have a hispanic name or checked the right ethnicity box. Ab.

3/30 ncbrush6,

I have worked in many places throughout this great country of ours. Many times my job has put me on the front lines with local Vol Firefighters. The best and easiest way to help them be more safe is not to blow a gasket about their policies. What I found the most effective is to put on training for them. I just came out of doing several 130/190 short courses and a couple of the full length classes. I spent one day on the 30 mile power point (that got a lot of points across). I would like to think that my agency is improving its working relationships with our local protectors. Its been a challenge not a battle. We've supplied a few radios to some for better comms. You might want to consider gathering up some of your old nomex and passing them out. A lot of Vol FF's agencies don't have the money to spend.

Keep in there, but remember, help them be safe don't tell them.

3/30 I'm a 22 year old student and summer fire-fighter form Montana.
I was proud to know that a P-38 is a small can opener, usually
carried on a key ring.


Welcome to the fray Bones. Don't hesitate to chime in here with info, questions, jokes or comments. We welcome you new folks. Come visit chat, too. You'll probably get swept away in the tidal wave of those who know each other, but folks are nice. You'll learn who's who over time. Ember, our moderator, is willing to answer questions and welcomes new folks. Ab.

3/30 terms, jargon, etc to add to the list:

Redline, or horizontal smile

The line you get from your fire back rubbing against your butt all season long as you hike*

*more of a shot or jumper thing


Thanks, Ab added it to WLF Terms.

3/30 First to Dale:

I think all federal wildland firefighters should pay particular attention to what is not truly addressed by Chief Bosworth in his letter... What the Forest Service is (or isn't doing) for what should be it's most important assets...wildland firefighters.

Lots of chat about programs and budget cuts but nothing about pending legislation that would improve the lives of all of you; nothing about using fire $$ to move Human Resources to New Mexico; nothing about regions not being able to hire seasonals; nothing about the serious impact Cramer is having on ICT3 quals etc.

It is what it is...bureaucratic rhetoric.

To "Proud to Be Here" from your 3-24 or so post:

Fortunately some 14 years or so ago, a small group of federal wildland firefighters, decided that "most of this" (your text) was, and still is in their hands and yours. All of you have an inherent responsibility to make sure these and all issues affecting you are in your hands.

The members of the FWFSA have learned that there is a voice to be heard from the federal wildland firefighting community and, through hard work and exercising that voice, people in congress are now starting to take notice.

First, congress eliminated the overtime pay cap for federal wildland firefighters in 2000. Now, we are on the verge of realizing true pay reform with legislation providing our federal wildland firefighters with portal to portal pay and including their hazard pay in retirement calculations.

True, the FWFSA as an organization harnesses those voices and does the "grunt work" all year long. But if you believe these issues are out of your hands, I challenge you to join us and make your voice heard loud and clear, whether it be on your forest on in the Halls of Congress with me and other wildland firefighters.

You can bet the Forest Service has heard our voice that has in essence said "its time to take care of the firefighters." Its not likely the Agency will promote such changes for your benefit, an example being Chief Bosworth's letter devoid of any commentary on efforts to improve employee pay and benefits.

Your future is absolutely in your hands. Feel free to contact me any time at FWFSAlobby@aol.com or 916-515-1224 and I guarantee you by the time we're done talking, you'll understand just how much power the voices of federal wildland firefighters have, and will continue to become.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Assn.
3/30 Oliver & all,

Thanks for the discussion on fallers and fire training. The bottom line…anyone heading to the fireline should have basic firefighting training. Oliver, if you believe this is a bureaucratic infringement on the part of commercial fallers, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. If commercial fallers desire the economic opportunity provided by fireline employment, they should be willing to traverse the necessary to path to have access to it. Professional, proficient commercial fallers are definitely worth their weight in gold. However, the responsibility the face in the process of doing their job on the fireline mandates that the people who end up in those positions should 1) be who they say they are; 2) be able to complete the job they say they are capable of doing; 3) understand basic firefighting principles and how to function safely in the Incident Command System; and most importantly of all 4) work safely and conscientiously around other firefighters and equipment operators in proximity to them. That philosophy has come out of extensive discussion involving fallers and agency fire folks over the past four years. However, just in case there hasn’t been enough discussion so far (and there hasn’t), I am undertaking a 12-month nationwide faller study as part of my graduate degree at Oregon State University. You mentioned you weren’t a commercial faller. While I appreciate your comments, I have to ask…how would you qualify and quantify your contention that sufficient numbers of high quality fallers are hired each year on fires? Have you checked that out pretty thoroughly? In terms of commercial fallers and issues they face on the fireline, I don’t believe your contentions hold water. Also, if you believe the AD Faller program is working, I have some beachfront property you might be interested in out near China Lake Naval Weapon Center.

While the debate continues regarding whether or not commercial fallers should be required to take S130-S190, fallers across the Pacific Northwest and Northern California are doing just that – whether or not you agree with the logic or fairness behind it. These fallers are willing to commit the extra time and energy necessary to prepare themselves (both physically and mentally) for work in the fireline environment. Many of them did so last year, and this year will be taking L-180 (Human Factors on the Fireline) as part of their annual refresher. Several fallers are involved in the creation of a faller specific first aid program. Others are involved in the design of faller fireline equipment. There’s a lot of work to do. Truly, though I very much appreciate the fact that folks are discussing faller fireline issues – like so many very important things – it appears there are lines of argument that will perpetuate themselves indefinitely. The one that goes “Commercial fallers shouldn’t have to…..(list requirement here)” is one of those lines of argument. Currently, under the AD Faller program, there isn’t much a “faller” has to do to get to the fireline. As I always try to do when I disagree with someone, I would like to invite you to propose a program that would work to insure only qualified fallers make it to the fireline. But, since you contend enough already do, then I suppose that invitation is unnecessary.

The ultimate goal is to adequately prepare commercial fallers for fireline work, keep them safe and alive, as well as those they work around. Seems a pretty straightforward and reasonable goal to me.

I think it’s important to point out the distinction between the AD Faller program (which you apparently believe works pretty darn good) and the new Pacific Northwest faller module program, which is NOT part of the AD program. Under the Faller Module program, fallers are employed under the umbrella of a faller contractor. They are paid a fair wage as employees with overtime pay after 40 hours in a week. They are covered by worker compensation, and their wages are credited to both their social security earnings AND count as earnable wages for purposes of unemployment insurance. None of these things are true for AD fallers. Under the Faller Module Program, fallers must submit their commercial faller background for scrutiny. This isn’t the case for the AD Faller Program (I realize you would disagree, based on your comments – but currently you’d have to go pretty far to prove that either the federal agencies, state and any County Protective Association comes anywhere close to checking AD Faller backgrounds adequately. If you think I’m incorrect, I’ll have to issue this challenge… prove it.) Under the Faller Module Program Fallers must complete S130/S190 (or what some folks call Basic 32). The requirements under the AD Faller program can be completed in about 45 minutes if everybody keeps their mouth shut. (I saw this first hand over and over as I observed on one major project fire where “fallers” were being processed like they were stopping by for a meal at a soup kitchen.) To have access to the additions to benefits and increased pay under the Faller Module program I haven’t heard one faller complain who worked under the program last year…or the scores of fallers I’ve talked to over the past few months who are looking for work this coming fire season. As my grandmother always said…the proof is in the pudding. Or…another oldie, but goodie…”You get what you pay for.”

And just a couple more things…this is not “my” vision. I’ve worked diligently to reach out to those within the agencies and to commercial timber fallers and faller contractors (state and fed) and not exclusively in Oregon…to hear what many, many, many folks have to say. Have you? This is not “my” program. The Faller Module program was developed…through many stages, by agency and non-agency folks who care about improving conditions not only for fallers, but for the people they work around.

And don’t worry – I wasn’t offended by the “hair coated” comment. I just wanted to know what you meant. I like to know what people mean to say, compared to what they actually say.

Just one last observation regarding your comment à “I'm confident, that with a few more years of experience, those that don't agree will change their opinion to match the majority. <grin>” Sometimes, the “majority” simply appears to be “the majority” because so many people are paralyzed by the status quo. I’ve never bought into the “majority” concept myself. If that philosophy were always the wisest choice, there would have been no room for some of the most profound advancements humankind has made. Compared to the wisdom of “the majority”? I prefer a new idea.

Shari Downhill
3/29 ncbrush6,

Go to http://safenet.nifc.gov/.

Not sure if you are federal employee or not, but it's a NIFC site and designed for something like this.

The intent is to:

* To provide immediate reporting and correction of unsafe situations in fire operations.
* To provide a vehicle for sharing important safety information throughout the fire community.
* To provide long-term data to assist in identifying trends.

I have not submitted one myself, but have benefited from the information sent in by others.

3/29 OFG

No problem...I agree that if an agency has a policy or written directives then one must follow them or accept the consequences. My agency doesn't have the 130/190 training standard for AD hired fallers. This is not a "make do" policy if we are following our agency standard and we have not waived any requirement of the standard.

As pissy as this sounds it's back to a my dad can beat your dad comparison of agency training standards...I have many friends employed by the big green and the majority agree that our operational ability to get things done are not hampered by the few differences in how each of us hire and supervise AD resources. I'm confident, that with a few more years of experience, those that don't agree will change their opinion to match the majority. <grin>

Except for the AD hired resources you could stick one of my crew members in a FS engine or crew and nobody would notice...and ditto if it was vice versa... Except the FS crew member would take a cut in pay and my person would have enough money to buy Nicks instead of Wal-Mart boots. < grin again >

3/29 Re: NE College Student

Here's my advice to Paul regarding hiring: Call all of the places you want to work and talk to the fire person in charge of hiring. If you're a returning student (going back in the fall) you can get hired with the FS through the STEP program with less paperwork than Avue.

Check out the USAJOBS site as Ab mentioned, and don't look in just the west unless that's the only place where you want to go. The eastern regions of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and USFS hire firefighters too. Also look at state agencies, as well as the BLM, USFS, and FWS.

One place to look that is exactly what you are looking for is the Great Northern Fire Crew in Missoula, MT. It's a training crew for people with no fire experience, and will get you on the right track. The crew supervisor is a great guy, and it would be a good idea to talk to him personally, because they will start looking at hiring soon.


As Ab said, many FS crews in the west are getting cut this year, so it might be a bit tough to get a job now. I know this from personal experience because my job (along with 3/4 of the other seasonal positions on my district) got cut, and the same scenario is being played out across Region One. But don't give up, because if we have the year it looks like we'll have, the FS might have to hit the panic button mid-summer and hire anyone with a red card. Try and get the basic wildland training if you can: S-130, S-190, I-100, the Standards for Survival/Annual Fire Safety class, etc.

Also, when you apply, be sure to highlight any skills you may have outside of fire. I know more than one person from the NE that got hired on fire crews out west because they were licensed EMTs or Paramedics.

Jump on it now, talk to people at the places you want to work, and be willing to go anywhere.

Best of luck.

Young and Dumb in Region One

3/29 Oliver,

Sorry, you got caught up in a rant I've had going for years regarding AD fallers and dozer operators.

The requirements for 130/190 etc. are the same for all employed by my agency the FS. There is manual direction that permits the agency administrator to "waive" the 130/190 training and fitness requirements for AD fallers and dozer operators. So far, none of the AAs I deal with have any desire to make that waiver...... good for them! Still, the "waiver" policy needs to be removed.

Again, the acceptance of a lesser standard is by definition a "make do" policy, whether one uses the words or not.

What would the agency or the employee gain by having less training than accepted at the minimum standard? And again, I reference my litmus test.

3/29 KF

You can get the 211 Pumps powerpoint from NWCG. They have it there. It is
a good powerpoint. You can purchase it on a CD.

3/29 CPF “Breaking News”

March 28, 2005

Pension Coalition Launches Radio Ad
Call Governor Schwarzenegger & Keith Richman NOW
Tell Them to Stop the Pension Grab

The people responsible for the attack on your pensions say they’re proud of what they’ve done, and wouldn’t change a word of it.

Here’s your chance to tell them what you think.

California Families Against Privatizing Retirement is launching a radio ad TODAY highlighting the governor’s vicious attack on your pensions – an attack that eliminates death and disability benefits.

It’s essential that the people behind this attack hear from you! That’s why we’re asking you to get on the phone right now.

Call Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Assembly member Keith Richman IMMEDIATELY. The message is simple:

Stop attacking the retirement security of working families.
Protect death and disability benefits for police and firefighters.

Here are the numbers to call:

Governor's hotline: 916-445-2821
Assemblyman Keith Richman's Sacramento office: 916-319-2038
Assemblyman Keith Richman's District Office: 818-368-3838

Be respectful but firm, and don’t be drawn into an exchange. If anyone tries to debate the issue – specifically on the death and disability issue – remind them that the Attorney General’s opinion is crystal clear, and that labor and management are together in opposing the governor’s plan.

Tell them that the best way to protect the families of fallen firefighters and police officers is to withdraw this proposal now!

If you get any interesting feedback, please let us know – email CPF at info@cpf.org.

Your unity and commitment have made a big difference so far. Keep the pressure on!
3/29 Monterey Co F/F

I meant to include the Monterey County firefighters and public in my
post. I hit the send after adding the attachment. Please accept my apologies
for the oversight. Thank you for clarifying.

SoCal 0081 Firefighter
(! who is avoiding eating rocks and glass - is willing to apologize !)

3/29 Well folks   

i see we are all yelling about work and safety... please keep yelling, some folks just cant hear... i was on a  fire about 2 weeks ago and came across 3 vol ff that wearing  shorts and sandals out digging line... so i go to the chief in charge and point out what i have seen, he says dont worry about it, they have been firefighters a long time.... so i am now asking you all what steps do i need to take to get this point across to the local vfd.... ooo yes i did take a few pics......


3/29 KW

The Federal Standard 595(b) paint code for the "green like no other green"
(quote by former FS Chief F. Dale Robertson) is No. 14620.
If you need the BLM slime green color code I have that too.

The Blue Lite
3/29 The word must not have gotten out very good, but the International Association of Wildland fire (IAWF) is offering some $100 scholarships toward the registration fee for the 8th Wildland Fire Safety Summit.

Interested? Just email a 1 paragraph reason to dtrethewey@fs.fed.us by April 3rd.

Dick Mangan
Blackbull Wildfire Services
11400 Kona Ranch Road
Missoula, Montana 59804 USA

President, 2004-2005
International Assoc. of Wildland Fire
3/29 The photos of the parasitic grub being removed from the firefighter's eye give new meaning to the term "wear your eye protection".

I am by no means an expert but that grub looks like what we call a wulve (pronounced like the plural wolf). These little beasties are very common in my area but, they generally infect cattle and squirrels in the summer.  It is a larvae for a biting fly similar to a horsefly but it is smaller. I used to have to give my cattle sulphur treated oil rubs to keep the flies off of them. I know just a few would drive a hereford steer nuts. I can only imagine how it would feel to have one in the eye. If it's any consolation, these pictures are the first time I have ever heard of this in the Unites States. I saw something similar that happened from a bite in a Central American jungle.


I wish we had the pics of the hotshot hand that got infected from the splinter on a fire in 2002. It was reported with slide presentation at the hotshot meeting in Feb 2003. Even small medical issues can turn into large ones. Nothing like a few graphic images to harden your resolve to seek help earlier. Serious lessons learned. Ab.

3/29 SoCal 0081 Firefighter,

Is that the project for assessing the fire problems in
Monterey County / Fort Ord that's funded by a BLM
grant and directed by a Monterey County board of
directors (firefighters and citizens)? Thanks for sharing
that info. I heard about that from one of the planners.

Monterey Co F/F

3/29 Hey guys,

Awesome site, been lurking for years, wondering if anyone out there
has S-211 (pumps) on a powerpoint presentation, or if its available
online somewhere. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for your time.


3/29 re: Campbell prediction system

This is the March 29th entry from my Sun-Tzu "Art of War" desktop

"What everyone knows is what has already happened or become obvious.
What the aware individual knows is what had not yet taken shape, what has
not yet occurred. Everyone says victory in battle is good, but if you see the
subtle and notice the hidden so as to seize victory where there is no form,
this is really good."
-- Chapter 4: "Formation"

vfd cap'n

3/29 Ab, I'm a long time lurker. Thanks for the informational site.

Doug Campbell's Fire Signature Method is being used to ground truth the
computer modeling output of Farsite. Some discussion of this went on just
last week between State and Federal firefighters. I find this an interesting
development. Attached please find a description of the fire signature portion
of that meeting that's circulating.

SoCal 0081 Firefighter

3/29 Mellie, White Tornado, NorCal Tom, others interested in
novice firefighter safety,

Marc Castellnou who had just participated in Doug's fire signature
prediction class (then called CPS) in Spain in 1998 as a novice sent
this message way back then. He told me please to send it to theysaid.

From Marc Castellnou,1998
An important thing is that CPS is saving lives in Europe.

We were just four days ago fighting in a long fireline. The fire was
going down in a very steep slope (SW). We started the work in the
morning at 0900 and were there working all day. Part of the fire in
front of us was 50 meters from the bottom of the valley at 1200 and about
200 meters down the valley from our position. It was dangerous because
there was fuel between this head of the fire and us. When the fire gets to
the bottom it will be in alignment with slope, aspect and wind to make a
run, and we were in the path of this run.

I told this to the boss of the fire. It took me a half hour to explain and
convince this guy, but at the end he agreed and called everybody out of the
area. The people start to leave at 1445 and the run starts at 1510. We
were safe at that time.

Campbell's method is changing the way to fight fire and be safe all
around the world.

Another new item is that Domingo Molina put CPS questions and Doug
Campbell's name in a University test for the ones who want the Forestry
degree and knowledge about fighting wildfire.

One more thing.
I just come from Portugal, where the third Forest Fire Research and the
14th Fire Meteorology Conference was conducted last week. I exposed
there some of our research work and also the software that makes the CPS
prediction, just the paper version. So its done, its running and the
people and experts of the world like it.

Today in Spain its common practice to have tracks, trigger points and time
tags marked on maps at the beginning of shift. Evaluation of changing fire
behavior and a heads up on reevaluating tactics have saved lives.

A *Fire Signature Prediction Method* Supporter

3/29 Danfromord,

What's the P-38 you talk about? A gun or a can opener
or something different named after a fighter plane?


3/29 I'm gonna have to agree with OFG on the safety issue of fallers. We are not working in their environment they are working in ours. If it is hard for you to hire fallers only due to the fact they have not gone through basic 32 then you need to find a way to provide it. I grew up in logging camps in the northwest and am on my 10th year in fire so as a logger's son and a trigger puller fighting fire I think I see both sides. Sometimes fallers are busting their butts other times they sit at a drop point for 2 days not touching their saw so I'm not willing to believe this job is not worth what they make on fires. I couldn't find the post on Shari's Qual system so I can't speak about that. But in final EVERYONE on fires should have 130-190 and standards for survival.

Trigger Puller

Read the clarification from Oliver below.

3/29 Old Fire Guy

I'm not talking about waiving the present requirements for private fallers. In Oregon these requirements are viewing a basic fire safety video and completing a workbook, fire shelter training, first aide certificate, PPE and experience in falling timber. I'm arguing against further training or qualification requirements for AD fallers we hire locally from the timber industry. I said nothing about removing any existing support platform for safety or waiving any existing requirement. I would not place fallers on the line if I didn't know that I could do it safely, or at least as safe as I can make the work assignment. Make do? Where in the bejezzus did I say make do?

Bottom line for me is that I believe fallers hired as AD, with proper supervision, do not need to meet all of the requirements of agency or professional firefighters. If and when the fire ground changes, and fallers are placed on the line and given the responsibility to act independently, without supervision and without job site briefings, I will change my position and demand a professional firefighter faller series (PFFS) and will pay them $100 an hour! ...Until then I refuse to support the ever growing bureaucratic response to fire line safety by placing obtuse requirements in lieu of meaningful change. (Oliver Manifesto...pg 123 paragraph 3)

3/29 Ab,

Over Easter weekend, we responded to several auto accidents. On one of the rollovers, we set up traffic control by closing one highway lane with a combination of apparatus positioning and traffic cones. We had a firefighter with a stop/slow paddle sign to encourage drivers to reduce their speed.

We were attempting to mitigate a known hazard, but still had motorists passing others just ahead of the lane closure and zooming through our accident scene. One of the state troopers commented about pending legislation in Colorado (like that in other states) to mandate that drivers reduce speed when approaching emergency vehicles with lights flashing.

He did pull over one truck that came flying past our guys and vented his frustration a little by screaming at the driver for a while, but probably ended up writing a minor speeding ticket or maybe just give a stern warning. The new law will change some of that, hopefully.

It seems to me that we have a similar situation with wildland safety. We sometimes impose severe penalties for those in supervisory roles when a firefighter gets killed, but really there is no enforcement on near-misses. Our unsafe acts (violation of 10, failure to mitigate 18, etc.) are treated just like speeding through an accident - not much is done, as long as nobody gets killed or seriously hurt. The 'safety cops' can vent a little in an AAR, is it enough to change the behavior of the 'unsafe driver'?

vfd cap'n
3/29 Oliver,

Re: Waiving of requirements for fallers......Every firefighter is entitled
to a safe fire assignment. That platform is supported by training,
experience, physical fitness, and personal protective equipment. Remove
one or more of those supports, and the platform becomes risky.

Litmus test: If the "firefighter" (faller) were wearing a government
uniform, would we be able to waive any of the required training,
experience, fitness or PPE? Obviously not.

Waiving training requirements for fallers is a "make do" approach, and
that's the path to tragedy. Commercial fallers certainly represent some
of the best in the world at their special skill. Let's make sure that when
we ask them to use that skill in our wildland fire venue, we invest in the
other aspects to provide a safe assignment.

Old Fire Guy
3/29 < chuckling about SteveM's "Spotfire" joke. first time I heard it the rottweiler's name was name "Jesus". Either way, good analogy.

Donovan, a little story for you: many years ago, before there was a THEY SAID, a kid was hired on a seasonal crew in R5 - hirees were advised to bring lots of cotton sox & underwear - told to show up wearing high top boots. No one offered advice for best boots - first week of side hill work good feet went bad. (impossible to buy good boots or anything in firecamp 15 yrs ago & no one carried credit cards)

Although wildland FF has changed, if it were me, I'd ask a smokejumper which brand the majority prefer... "lawn darts" are expected to be self sufficient & hike miles

3/29 Dear Sir,

I am a college student in the Northeast and am interested in spending the
summer of 2006 fighting wildland fires. I have found your site to be both
informative and helpful; however, I am a little confused as to how to begin
finding an appropriate job for someone of my skills (or lack thereof). Any
help would be much appreciated in this manner as well as anything else you may
think I might need to know. If I am wrong in asking you this question, I
would appreciate you directing me to someone who might know.
Thank you,

Paul Chatelain

Paul, go to our FAQ page and read there. If you get a job working for the feds you will be trained. I don't know about private companies and their training procedures. To work for the feds this summer, you need to apply NOW for an OPM Series 0462, Series 0455 or Series 0401 job. (You probably should have started applying in early Feb.) These jobs do not say "firefighter", but the ones we've weeded out on the links to our Jobs page are firefighter positions (top right - Series 0462, Series 0455 or Series 0401). The thing is, you want a seasonal or temporary job, so it might be best to go to one of the fed pages that lead you through applying for those, like this FS page with a centralized listing. (Seems you need to be a rocket scientist these days to figure out the ropes.) Figure out where you might like to work. Some areas of the US are not hiring seasonal firefighters due to budget. You might call before you apply. Apply to as many as you can. I hope that's a start. Good luck. Ab.


Another casualty of the spam filter. Sorry for that Dan. I put 'em on the I remember page. Ab.

I remember when everyone carried a P-38 with them, just in case....
And for those that don't know what a P-38 is, it wasn't to ward off
hungry Bears. It was to ward off hungry F/F's.

I remember when Air Tankers were Borate Bombers.


3/28 FS Capt -

While I'm obviously not unbiased about the fire shelter and the training associated with its use because of my work at MTDC from 1989 - 2000 and participating in way too many entrapment investigations, I must still voice my disagreement with your comments about that practicing an organized shelter deployment is "farcical". I believe that there is merit in practicing shelter deployments, and using "visualization" to prepare yourself for the conditions that you may eventually encounter.

Need an example? I'd recommend reviewing the shelter training video "Your Fire Shelter - 2001" and listen closely to the comments of Dave LaTour, who went through the "Dude Fire" entrapment with the Perryville inmate crew. Dave's impressions and comment were the result of his near-death experience and were offered to help others survive a similar event.

I'm about one-third of the way through "Deep Survival" and haven't reached the same conclusions that you've drawn from it: maybe the rest of the book will change my mind? Or, maybe it won't?

Dick Mangan

3/28 Donovan,

You're right, you have a unique foot. I've been a Certified Athletic Trainer for 13 years (I still wonder if I'm a part-time FF/full-time ATC or vice-versa) and reading a description of your foot shape tells me you need some custom fitting, in fire boots, sneakers, or even flip-flops.

You can read on and on in this forum about which boot is better, and there are some great observations, experiences, and opinions. (Who would have ever thought firefighters would have strong opinions? *chuckle*) Your biggest problem now is a time crunch. Custom fitting is going to take you about 8 weeks to see your new fire sneakers, and then there's break-in time. There is an outfit in Central Oregon called "Drew's" that should be able to fit you for Nick's, White's, or their in-house brand. I'm sure they're on the internet somewhere.

As far as socks go, the Ab's could start a whole new discussion area on that subject alone.

My humble advice is to get moving on this, and take your orthotics with you if you're going to get measured. Happy Hiking.

3/28 Hey All
I was just wanting some input on the letter
Mr. Bosworth put out to all the F.S. personnel. What
are peoples thoughts and reactions? My own opinion was
it was a nice rah rah session full of empty promises.
How are we supposed to meet our target for
fuels reduction with no money, and go tell the Regions
who aren't hiring seasonals that we should make do with
the resources in place to do our job. Again the
Washington office is asking us to do a dollars worth of work
and sending cents to do it with.
Just my two cents


Bosworth's letter follows:

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

I’m hearing a lot of buzz about the Forest Service budget for FY 2005 and the President’s  proposed budget for FY 2006. Let me give you my take on our budget situation …

This is without question a difficult budget year, and I expect the foreseeable future to be the same. When discretionary spending is tight -- in times of budget deficits and international challenges - - I accept that the Forest Service has a role in fiscal restraint.

I know that tough choices and tradeoffs will have to be made. In my discussions with Congress, the media, and others, I openly acknowledge such challenges, but I focus on what we can accomplish in spite of them. I’m confident that we will continue to make great progress in such high-priority areas as hazardous fuels reduction, where I expect we will again set records this year. The National Leadership Team will meet in early April to focus our programs on our top priorities and identify the needed tradeoffs.

I also tell people what we’re doing to increase program efficiencies so we can reduce our overhead costs and get more dollars to the ground. The efficiencies we’re gaining in Budget and Finance Management, and Information Resources Management once again demonstrate the “can do” character of the Forest Service. To go from just a concept on paper 18 months ago to a functioning national service center today with close to 200 employees is a phenomenal achievement. I’m confident that we’ll see similar successful changes as we restructure our Human Resources Organization and that substantial savings from all three of these efforts will be realized. We’ll also gain efficiencies from stewardship contracting and other tools under the Healthy Forests Initiative and Healthy Forests Restoration Act. All this will go a long way toward getting the on-the-ground results we need to accomplish our mission, as well as reducing our costs.

We should also be proud of our three clean audits in a row, and we’ve just been removed from the Government Accounting Office’s list of high-risk areas in government. The list identifies programs and agencies that need special attention from Congress and the Administration, and we’d been on that list since 1999. Being removed from the list can’t help but make us more competitive for federal dollars in these tight times.

I’ve probably heard the most concern expressed, both internally and externally, about whether we’ll have enough firefighting resources this year. Both Congress and the administration expect a level of preparedness comparable to last year, and I’m confident that we can provide that. We’ll also have enough money to fight fires without being anti-deficient. A bad fire year is predicted, especially for the Northwest and Northern Rockies, but if we exceed available suppression funds, we’ll simply adjust. We’ve done it in the past, and we can do it again if necessary.

In my 39 years with the Forest Service, I’ve found out the hard way that it doesn’t do much good to complain about budgets. It rarely results in additional funding, and it usually doesn’t resonate well with the public. Most people feel we have plenty of funding if only we’re efficient about how we use it.

In closing, let me just say again that I know we have a challenging future. But I also know we’re up to the task. By focusing on our top priorities, working with our partners, and finding ways to improve our efficiency, we can accomplish our mission, even in these tight times.

At least, that’s my take.

3/28 FS Capt-

I have not yet read “Deep Survival,” although it is on my list. With that said, I agree, in part with your assessment of the shelter training we give our greenhorns. However, I recently taught a 130/190 class in which one of my assistants took the ball after the students were in their shelters. He took them through a visualization exercise of what it might be like to be the one in a burnover and the mental process of survival. As an veteran of the 1st Gulf War as a forward observer in the Marines, his scenario was very realistic, as he, himself, had been in life and death situations numerous times. I was very pleased he took the ball and so were the students. They came out of the shelters after five minutes visibly shaken. Train as you work, right? I know nothing will ever compare to the real thing, but many aspects of life are like that.

I pray I will never find myself in that position, but if I do, I imagine I will be pretty pissed off at myself, initially, for getting into that situation. And then, I believe I will focus inward, as you would, and worry about saving my own a**, whatever that will take. While some may think you are being selfish by worrying about yourself and not worrying about the rest, we all have to take care of #1.

Don’t worry about me, I won’t worry about you. Until it is all over. There will be plenty of time to reflect from the other side, whether that be in this world or another.

Cautiously optimistic,
3/28 I have been quietly sitting back and reading the posts here for some time and feel like putting my 2 cents in (i may only have 1 cent to give if our budget keeps shrinking) and introducing myself to the group so here it goes.

I have been thinking about my personal experiences in regards to training of firefighters and more specifically the younger firefighters (this is because I am one of the younger firefighters). Since I began working for the forest service I have felt like I have to fight tooth and nail to get into some of the basic courses like S-131 and S-290. I am now in the apprentice program and am more able to get these classes but when i was not in the program and was just a 1039, I was told that I wasn't going to be able to attend these classes because I wasn't career. It seems like as the "old folks" are hitting their retirement, they should be concentrating on getting the younger people into courses to fill their shoes. I hope that all of the supervisory persons think like this because if you want to see our organization thrive with good people in the positions to make positive changes, they have to have the qualifications to be there.

Hope this wasn't too vague of an idea. I would like to see some input from others on my idea if you can consider this an idea and any advice on better posts would be appreciated.


Your message is clear. Thanks for writing in. Ab.

3/28 Re: Deep Survival

I read the book and drew the following conclusions:
  • The number of (wildfire) disasters will increase proportionally to the number of safety plans, standard operating guidelines, high tech equipment and rules of engagement we are compelled to generate, memorize and maintain.
  • Some of us will check out the view from inside a fire shelter again this season. Gladly we're getting (new) better ones.
  • To practice "organized" shelter deployment (let alone how we intend to act once we're in there) is farcical. We may assume our leaders already experienced some sort of tactical short-circuit well before the fact. Survivors will abandon their leaders, their plans, and any operational loyalty. If it ever happens to me, I intend to pass my time (surviving in a fire shelter) deep within myself, not worrying about you. Whether I survive or not, I'm done with wildland fire.

Come to think of it, these three points have consistently proven true since I started in 1981.

FS Capt

3/27 Joke:

The burglar quietly jimmied the back door and entered the house he’d been watching for some time. He snickered to himself at how easy it was. The owner seemed to be absent a lot in the summer, sometimes 14 days or more. He crept through the kitchen and into the living room with an eye out for anything he could grab and sell easily. Suddenly, from across the room he heard a scratchy voice say, “Spotfires behind you”. He jerked his flashlight across the room searching for the person who spoke. The voice came again, a little louder in front of him, “Spotfires behind you”. This time his flashlight reflected off a bird cage, in which sat a parrot, calmly watching him.

He was very relieved to see it was just a dumb old bird. In jest he whispered back, “Well, hello parrot, what’s your name”? To his surprise, the parrot answered and said, “Sparky”. The burglar chuckled aloud, “That’s a silly name for a bird”, he said, “who’d name their parrot Sparky”? The bird cocked its head, then replied, “The same guy who named his rottweiler Spotfire”.


Haw Haw. I added it to jokes. Ab.

3/28 AB - you used to have a link to a picture of a parasite of some type
being removed from a firefighters lower eyelid. Looked like a large
grub. That picture is worth a thousand words. It still gives me
shivers, and makes me wash my hands more - rub my eyes less on fires.

Ab Note with gross photo:
I found it. It was sent in by backburnfs. Reposted from 2/4/03. Now FirePsych, this should grab some attention.

Wear your eye protection. backburnfs

The story behind the photos. NOT FOR THE SQUEMISH.
Always remember to wear eyeglasses or clean out your eyes thoroughly after working outside if you feel there are intruders...... this is disgusting..... Yikes! Is there a market for RAID eyedrops!

Subject: Why do you wear PPE ? Good training issue.

Its just like from an alien movie, be very careful when you get caught with dust...
The following photos will show effects of bad dust to a person's eye.
While a firefighter was walking he felt an eye irritation. Thinking that it was just regular dust, he started to rub his eye, in an effort to remove the dust. Then his eyes got really red, and he went and bought some eye drops from a pharmacy.
A few days passed and his eyes were still red and seemed a little swollen.
Again he dismissed it thinking that the pain will go away.
As the days go by, the swelling of his eye got worse: redder and bigger.
He decided to go see a doctor for a check up.

The doctor immediately wanted an operation, being afraid of a tumor growth or cyst.
At the operation, what was thought to be a growth or cyst, actually turned out to be a live worm.
What was thought initially to be just mere dust actually was an insect's egg.
Because of that, my friends, if you do get caught in dust, and the pain persists, please go see a doctor immediately...

...and always wear your PPE.

3/28 Shari

I'm not a professional faller but I did test Newton's gravitational theory all over "Jo" county in my younger firefighting days. And I have cut more than a few cords of Madrone for heat and smoking Rogue River...Applegate and Illinois river Steelhead and Salmon.

In my post I thought I made it clear that I don't think fallers are paid enough...but what the hey... none of us are really paid enough. Even with the low pay we are able to hire qualified fallers each fire season. Are some fallers better than others? Yes, just like agency crews you get the good and the bad... eventually.

Without mincing words and causing further confusion...I have a problem with all fallers needing to attend S-130 and 190 to be qualified to work on fires. I also don't believe the faller community needs to be organized as a brokered commodity. I like the present system...I know the local loggers and fallers and we teach them basic fire and fire shelter training each year prior to fire season. They sign up their resources in spite of the pay scale. I think partly because they are connected to the local community. We provide supervisory oversight for the fallers safety and to evaluate their performance. I'm opposed to creating any system that would affect my ability to hire fallers that don't meet the qualification system you propose.

I support the need to have agency level experience and training standards for agency employed sawyers that are working hotline with a hand crew to fall danger trees and snags. And I believe we have the training standards and are slowly gaining in the number of experience sawyers.

Shari, I believe you have the best interest of the fallers/timber cutters in mind. However, we just disagree about the level of fire training fallers need or whether an organization to provide a consistent set of specifications to adequately address private sector fallers on the fire line is needed. Again, this is my personal opinion, it's not meant to be slanderous to the hard work you have done or to take away from your vision of what's needed.

Good luck with your program.

PS ...on a recent trip to Caveman country I noticed a bumper crop of Poison Oak...you might want to stock up on the itch cream.
This ugly little scratch and itch plant infected my son as he was looking for morel mushrooms last week during our visit.

Oh...hair coat is a sexist term used in the early and mid seventies to describe a Neanderthal... all male dominated work force. It was also used to poke fun at the macho types when they would make remarks like ..."stand back" and let a real man show you how it's done. I don't personally prescribe to either of those two uses. I offered the hair coat remark as a reference point for historical perspective and levity. If it offended you or anyone else I would ask that the comment be taken as intended and apologize to those offended... Besides, there is a certain non-hair coated FMO in the southern part of our state that would kick my backside if she thought I was being a sexist Neanderthal.

3/28 sj's, all

Good code to live by jh
Didn't know if I had to be politically correct.
Am I relieved.

Now see wot you've done...Did you hear the one
about the tanker slug.....? jk

To old dogs and NG's alike,
keep 'em safe this summer.

3/28 Re: Forest Service Green paint codes

KW – Just so you know, I am pretty sure they don’t make the
FS green in the interior semi-gloss you were hoping to use for
your kitchen.

Just kiddin’! I am sure someone will have the code.

3/28 Redwings:

As Hank Stamper would have said (in Ken Kesey's great book
about life and logging, Sometimes a Great Notion)):
"Never apologize, never explain..."

Joe Hill
- "stand tall, eat rocks and glass"

See Redwings, SJs and ex SJs just have a lott'a bark. Ab.

3/28 OK, White Tornado, I've been thinking about this issue long and hard from another direction. I think it's ready to send in tonight.

Ab and all, thanks for your indulgence. This is another long one... As I pounded away it just turned into more of a "barracuda" piece than a "guppy guppy"! I call it An Argument for Training in Tactical Fire Behavior Prediction for Groundpounders - What are the "Barriers" to Such Training?


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It looks like Doug Campbell's tactical fire behavior prediction class (Fire Signature Prediction) might be taught to line officers in R3 so they can try and cover their legal posteriors. Helibase managers and others have also been worried they're at risk as a result of Cramer and OIG/DOJ. Of course, here on theysaid we've had a first-hand seat on the legal concerns of ICT3s and higher ICs. Legal concerns are mitigated to some degree if firefighters buy criminal/civil liability insurance. <hellof-a'note> However, problems that led to the concerns have not been mitigated. I do commend the good efforts underway to clarify Fire Doctrine, policies and practices. We need some real solutions.

There's growing momentum for tactical fire behavior training - Campbell's fire signature prediction - and it's my professional opinion that this method has real value. I know firefighters have lot on their plate, a lot to teach, a lot for new folks to learn, a lot of new folks. That said, in my opinion Campbell's method should be taught to all on the fireline so that Commanders Intent more easily and safely can be implemented as Doctrine.

For all you old fire dogs out there, I imagine you've heard about Doug's Fire Signature Prediction class, have taken it, have integrated parts of it into your S-190 class, and/or have focused on computer-oriented fire prediction route. All of you have fire behavior experience and at this point have a perspective, which is not a novice's perspective. While you don't necessarily need a tactical fire prediction course, the groundpounding novice does, especially as more of you retire. So how does this training impact a novice?

Here's my "take" on Fire Signature Prediction from the perspective of the novice and why I think it's important training. I also offer psychological insights as to why its not more universally required for novice firefighters.

Overview: When I took Doug's Fire Signature Prediction class in spring 2000 with the Ventura Co Fire Dept, I literally "felt" the cognitive shift ("blinding glimpse of the obvious": BGO) that many inexperienced participants report. It occurred in my brain when all the many possible fire factors got organized and prioritized and I realized you could ask and answer:

  1. "what particular important fire factors made this fire do what it has done on this piece of ground" and

  2.  "when and where might those factors change, changing the fire's behavior and putting me at risk?"

The logic to evaluating fire behavior change on the ground, so as to evaluate the 10 and 18 (or more simply LCES), dawned on me in a flash. In cognitive psychology, we'd say that Doug's teaching enhances the "chunking" process -- the process of ordering and prioritizing many complex bits of information at a higher level. Chunking information can be a meta-cognitive process that develops in people with years of experience who more automatically make sense of a situation involving complex inputs. Their mental organization is usually gained in small increments, like gathering a photographic slide here, a slide there, with relations between slides -- over years. Often experts in professions that deal with very complex phenomena can't tell you how they know what they know, but if you used a method of brain imaging - like a PET scan - their brain patterns would probably light up differently than a novice's brain would when confronted with the same task.

Interestingly enough, Campbell's method has met some resistance in fed fire circles outside of Southern California for a number of reasons that I can see. Here are some I've observed in the order they popped into mind.

1) Cognitive processes: First and foremost! Through fireline experience, advanced firefighters reviewing Doug's method have already achieved some level of "chunking" of the myriad predictive fire factors. They can't go back to having an inexperienced mind (for example, as when they had no "slides" in even one tray of their Recognition Primed Decision-making or RPD fire slidetrays). As a consequence, they may not see how Campbell's method can really help new folks get a handle on all the info that they themselves first recognized and then integrated, through experience and/or guidance under their fire mentors.

Most experienced fire minds already have the bigger fire behavior picture - in the RPD analogy - more slides and fire outcomes organized by category in multiple prioritized slidetrays. As a result of their developed brain organization, experienced firefighters are freed up to notice the nuance of little details that might still impact the fire's behavior. To the inexperienced all those details are simply a jumble of little details, each item having the same importance as every other, and lots of lists to memorize in training. Lists of disjointed items are not slides that inform behavior. Slides need slide trays to have coherence and logic and meaning.

You can think of chunking as placing the many details into categories or into a hierarchy of groupings of details with an emphasis on the hierarchy, i.e., training yourself to look for the most important combination of things first in answering the question "What made the head and heel and flanks of this fire burn as they did?". Novices pull on individual slides with little or no organization imposed. Masters pull on trays of slides with known relations to other trays. Having some way to facilitate chunking of the most important information is critical to move more quickly toward achieving a metacognitive structure.  You could say that Campbell's method experienced by the novice creates and orders the slide trays that form the logical structure that the slides will go in, and provides a number of illustrative slides as well. The feeling you get when you see the logic of the slidetray arrangement is profound. It's that "blinding glimpse of the obvious".

Continue HERE...

3/28 Hello!

My name is Donovan, and I was recently hired by the USFS to work on a Type 3 Engine in Central OR. What are your thoughts on the type and manufacturer of boot that I should buy? I have large (Size 14 or 14 1/2), relatively narrow, low-volume feet. They're also flat, and I wear a custom orthotic footbed in my other shoes and boots. I've heard that White's makes an amazing boot, but is there anything comparable at a cheaper price? I realize that my foot is pretty unique, so I might have to spend the extra dough for a custom fit, but if you have any recommendations, I'd really appreciate it!!!


p.s. What are some favorite socks out there? I can get Smartwool light hikers at a discount, I was thinking about a dozen pair or so. Are they worth a damn? Thanks again!!!

Donovan, welcome. Read back over the last month. There's been discussion of boots. If I get time today look back I'll point you to some dates. Readers, if anyone has really big feet and/or orthotics, please chime in here. Ab.

3/28 I desire to express my deepest sympathy to the families and friends of Charles Edgar, John Greeno, and Jose Victor Gonzales who gave their lives in service to their country while conducting a prescribed burn on the Sabine National Forest in Texas in order to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations on March 10, 2005.

The honor and respect given to Charles during the funeral services, and to Johnny as we performed the honor escort, placed him aboard the Forest Service DC-3, and lined the runway to see him off to be returned to his family and friends in California was very moving. The people of the Sabine National Forest and the Forest Service Honor Guard showed the deepest respect in honoring our loved ones. Our friends will be missed tremendously, but remembered often by people across the country because of the many ways they touched our lives.

For all of us that mourn the losses, we need to remember that God promises that he will not give us more than we can bear. We are also taught that our life is but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. These things in mind, we need to focus upon right relationships with God, our families and friends. We shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what we need to do now. And, the important service that we perform for the People must go on. Charles would want it that way. Though I did not personally know Johnny, I feel certain that he would want it that way also.

We will always remember our friends with fondness and keep them in our hearts.

Greg Cohrs
Sabine National Forest
Hemphill, Texas

Our condolences for your loss. Ab.

3/28 Good post, White Tornado. One way to focus on this issue is to try
to understand and define FAM DOCTRINE for the current generation.
Has anyone heard where this process is?

NorCal Tom

3/27 Apology


I didn't mean to offend anyone. It was just a joke. sry


Hey Redwings, this is not something to apologize over. Yer a newcomer and the smokejumper is just testing yer resolve. Stand up straight and look 'em in the eye! I thought it was pretty funny. Ab.

3/27 Ab, thanks for putting my post up on your site re: my need for photos related to wildland firefighters and injury.

The photos for my presentation would not be for the purpose of getting people to stop and talk with me. I figure the free beer out in front of my stand ought to do that fairly well. Kidding aside, my hope is that the photos would embellish the written materials that I have, and make the whole presentation a little more interesting for those who are wandering by. Nor do I need photos to make specific points. Just pics of anything injury related: air or ground ambulances in action, evacuation, accident scenes, anything that is visually interesting and related to the topic. Thanks again for your help.


3/27 Our National Fire Leadership Defies Logic

In the publication by Rothermel in June 1983 NFES #1573 Titled: How to predict the spread and intensity of forest and range fires. In the introduction on page 1...Quote:

"Can wildland fire behavior really be predicted? That depends on how accurate you expect the answer to be. The minute-by-minute movement of a fire will probably never be predictable - certainly not from weather conditions forecasted many hours before the fire."

The rules of engagement are used to assure that the agency and OSHA and OIG follow the lead of the Forest Service and assign blame in fatalities to those found to be in VIOLATION of such rules.

This procedure deflects blame from the agencies training and qualification standards and assumes the folks they certify as competent are in fact never over their heads on any assignment. If firefighters run into situations that are beyond their capability to understand, whose fault is it?

1. You can't possibly have a burnover fatality and not be in violation of many of the rules of engagement.

2. To avoid burnover situations one must be able to predict the minute-by-minute changes in fire behavior and detect a hazardous situation before it occurs.

3. Now if the preferred fire behavior prediction method is based on Rothermel's work and BEHAVE, and the author said the models can't make these predictions, how can we fix the blame on folks who are doing the best they can but fall short of accurate fire behavior predictions? Experienced firefighters are able to utilize their acquired knowledge to fill the gaps in the fire behavior training. When it fails and burnovers happen the S-courses are not questioned to determine if the training would have prevented the accident if it had been followed as taught.

If the training is truly adequate for these classic fire scenarios then why not write solutions using the subject training and teach from the lessons learned?

4. I think it is time that we insist that our leaders who espouse the "We don't bend or break any of the rules" take a Division assignment on a complex fire. Why don't we ask them spend time on a few fires and demonstrate their capability to accomplish what they think is possible, and document it. Maybe they should join a Hotshot crew for a season.

5. In case they do not take the challenge and are too busy with more important things I would conclude that they are just spouting these phrases but are not willing to do what leadership requires and demonstrate their ability to make fire behavior predictions that are accurate and keep the tactics always within the rules of engagement. I think this would be a valuable lesson for all firefighters. Imagine the knowledge that could be imparted to a Hotshot Supt. or Ops. Chief. If they can truly show the way to better, superior situational awareness and compliance with the rules of engagement, what are they waiting for?

Leadership is demonstrated by another saying. "Do not ask of others what you are not willing or able to do."

White Tornado

3/27 with regards to the slander, re: "Smokejumper Handline",
I would contend the only safe line is the line that's black
on both sides.

Joe Hill
Former Smokejumper
Former Wobbly
3/27 usfs paint code


I am looking for the pale green paint code used on USFS fire vehicles,
and LEO vehicles. If you can provide any leads, I would really
appreciate it.

thanks much!


3/27 Dumbo

ENOP requirements are listed in the Interagency Standads for Fire and
Fire Aviaton Operations (the Red Book) NFES 2724, Chapter 15. Doesn't
make a lot of sense to me anyway, to require this, plus a qualified crewmember on
a tactical tender. Bare minimum ENOP quals do not even include ICT5
which a normal person would think might be essential as a minimum on a tactical
apparatus. Its barely above a FFT2. My question is how often have you ever
seen a Type 1 or 2 Water Tender used in a true tactical sense? Rarely. My
experience is that it is more commonly utilized in support of tactical
operations, or dust abatement, whichever comes first.

3/26 Good Morning All,

I've updated the Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist).

We hope you and your families have a good day and weekend.


3/25 The information below is from the FEMA site. I hope it stirs some discussion about classification, pay, and responsibilities. Note: It is for logistics, operations, and planning section chiefs.... FEMA is hitting the NIMS hard....



**All Eligible Candidates** Orlando, FL

**All Eligible Candidates** Orlando, FL

**All Eligible Candidates**
3/25 I remember: 
  • C-rations on Helitack in the 60's but I carried an old box Motorola which could 
    occasionally reach a tower from a ridgetop.
  • No nomex (nor could we afford the fine boots worn by the regulars).
  • Our first Hotshot buggie - a leased flatbed on which we built wooden toolboxes, 
    on which my crew sat, under a canvass top.
  • I can't recall whether we installed seat belts.
  • My Superintendent was an old gentleman in a uniform with disabilities that kept 
    him off the fireline and out of the woods.
  • My crew had no prior experience at all.
  • Morning football caused so many injuries we had to switch to jogging.
  • Crew contest - see who could catch and eat a lizard first (wasn't my idea).
  • My last bar fight - saved from personal injury by my loyal crew (the lady who 
    caused it was thrown out and the assailant and I bought each other a beer).
  • Good morale but not enough fires.

"Foreman, 1971" 

Added it to the list... I Remember ... Ab.

3/25 More Jargon

Safety Nap: The "so called" 8 hrs. you get to sleep after your 16 hr shift.


Ab Note: This came in last month but ended up in the spam filter and then I overlooked it because I was out of town. I wanted to make sure our community saw Nancy's email. We will not soon forget Matt. My thanks also to Lance Honda, superintendent of the Prineville hotshots for representing our fire community well in all regards.

I was humbled and awed by the honor shown to my son, Matt Taylor, yesterday at the memorial service.

You guys just keep on blessing us!! At least a hundred hot shots from surrounding areas and long distances came for a parade, complete with banners and engines with lights on, coming through downtown Bend and to the Church. It was standing room only as we watched a power point with photos of Matt with his fire friends and listened to Lance remember Matt. The presence of all those friends meant more to the family than any of you can know...or maybe you do, and that's why you were there. The donated leave, the contributions, the cards, prayers and well wishes, certainly sustained us through this time.

As I and my other children remember Matt, we will hold a special place in our hearts for the folks who worked on fire with him. What a brotherhood.

Thank you, be safe, and God bless you and your families.

Nancy Larson

Nancy, you're fire family. Thanks for sharing with us. Sorry for the delay. Ab.

3/25 New AD rates are out. Just glanced at them. If there are changes from 2004, 
I didn't pick up on it.

One change (I think) is AD's on assignment who get a R&R are not entitled 
to base 8. Seems kinda c-s to me but with assignments at 14 days, maybe 
it's a moot point.

Sorry I don't have the link.

Old Fire Guy
3/25 Ab,

I have to fill in as the lead instructor for an S-290 next week and I am asking 
for help if anyone has it on PowerPoint. The RM version is lacking several Units. 
My WWW searches have come up empty.

Looking for help
3/25 Backburnfs,

"I am gonna call your bluff on the no hardhat part of your post, especially if you were eating Vietnam date C Rats".

Attached is a photo taken in 1981 of a couple members of an Alaska hotshot crew. If you look closely you will see no hard hat. We were in the tundra and the highest vegetation was up to our knees. If you look at photo PBY-1 on page one of the air tanker section you will several other firefighters relaxing without the benefit of head protection.


Lighter PBY-1 photo. Ab tweaked the brightness. Still hard to tell about helmets. Tim, you must'a been there! Ab.

3/25 Ab,

I am putting together a poster presentation for the upcoming IAWF summit in Missoula. The title of it is “Wildland Firefighters and Injury Recovery.” I am in need of photos along this theme, e. g. treatment, evacuation, injury scene, etc. The taker of said photo(s) would be referenced if I use their pics, should he/she so desire. I can be reached at msocharlie@earthlink.net if anyone out there has something they want to share. Thanks!


Readers, you're also welcome to send photos here and Ab will pass 'em on.

Are the photos for getting people to stop at your poster and talk with you? Or are they to illustrate some points in your poster paper? If they are for making points, please let us know what points - if you can do that without giving away your message. (I'm thinking about a thorn in hotshot finger that got infected and led to loss of the finger... those photos were graphic but I don't remember where I saw them.) Ab.

3/25 Jokes:

Here's another one....if you haven't heard it a thousand times.

How can you tell smokejumper handline?
It's burnt on both sides.


OK, Here's a place for wildland firefighter jokes. Ab.

3/25 re shot handline joke

Ah…ex shot, you of all people should know that joke was made for
jumpers. Maybe you typed it wrong, should read:

What’s the difference between a jumper handline and a deer trail?
The deer trail will hold.

And because we are on jokes, well its not really a joking matter, why
is it when you order lunches and water though helislak they always
come up with the wrong number of lunches and water? Maybe its time
for a new S class SCB-101 (should count better)


3/25 Backburnfs

I can remember "K" rats my firefighting daddy brought home once (?1949).
We kids thought they were great.
And all the mystery meat variations of things we ate thru the years.
Some of them weren't so great and once you threw up on one of em you never wanted another...ever.

Yeah, engines were tankers.

Old Wolf (also a Forester)

OK, here's the list... I Remember ... Ab.

3/25 Old Wolf,

I am gonna call your bluff on the no hardhat part of your post, especially if you were
eating Vietnam date C Rats or Ocean Mice as we used to call them. And those Engines
were Tankers weren’t they? Otherwise I am there with you bro.


3/25 Since we're on shot jokes...

Whats the difference between a shot handline and a deer trail?
The deer trail will hold.

ex shot

3/25 I remember when I was a GS-3 I could buy 10 gallons of gas for an hours
wages now I am a GS-9 and guess what I can buy 10 gallons of gas for an
hours wages.

3/25 F.N.G. = F***in New Guy


3/25 Here's an old one:

whadda you get when you send hotshots down to the basement?
A whine cellar ...

Actually, most of the shots I've run into have been great folks.

Still Out There As An AD
3/25 From Firescribe:

Chico air tanker firm being sold --AeroUnion being sold to Lake Union Capital Partners

Portland OR City officials work to keep lid on tinderbox

Vision Emerges for Future of State Forest Martha's Vinyard

Martha's Vinyard,
...which fire experts say is sited on the third most flammable landscape in the nation, after the Oakland Hills of California and the pine barrens of New Jersey. Historically, wildfires have roared through the scrub oak and pitch pine at ferocious rates, crossing from West Tisbury to the edge of Edgartown in as few as five hours.

Low humidity, high winds lead to fire alert ... in Texas

Large Incidents Map for fires currently burning across the middle states

Ab note:
As fire season approaches, remember you can browse our WLF News page. If you're new to wildlandfire.com, the news button is on our "header". Once there, click on the WLF News Search option to google searches under standard topics, or create your own search. Later as the season begins, other news sources will contain breaking info, including GACC info, scanners, fire maps and the Hot List Forum. If you haven't signed up for that, you might want to. Please tell dispatchers to contribute, so all of us can know what's coming up when the season takes off.

3/25 "Queeze Bag" term developed by the El Cariso Hotshots in the early 70's
for a firefighter or crewmember who can't cut the hard work or complains
about anything.

"Tanker Queeze" Anyone on "tankers". El Cariso Hotshots 1976.


Added it. Wildland Fire Terms (not PC) and Irreverent Names Ab.

3/25 Staffride

I would like to say thank you to the Angles N.F. for putting on a great staffride of the Loop Fire this past week. It was a pleasure and an honor to be in the same room with so many of the people I have always looked up too and respected for my short career.

The first couple of days we had the pleasure to listen and interact with retired LtCol. Eric Carlson of the USMC. If any one has the chance to hear him speak I would highly recommend listening to what he has to say.

I think what really put everything in perspective for me, was hiking the same ridge line and seeing the steep terrain they were in and hearing the personnel accounts of Chuck H. and Gordon K. of what happened that tragic day. What a great lessons learned day that was.

Dan K. and Mike A., you guys did a great job.....


3/25 Hi Everybody, 

Maybe one of you can help.. Region 4 has released their Great Basin Engine/ Tactical Water Tender EERA RFQ (R4-05-01) and have added that all tactical tenders will now require a crew of two;(1) ICS Engine Operator (ENGOP or TWT operator) and a Firefighter Type 2.  I am assuming that the ENGOP or TWT is the Foreman.  Does anyone know where the NWCG ICS Position description and qualifications is located?  So far I have not been able to find any info about this position anywhere, including from the Point of Contact for the solicitation, Sue Huston.  It is my understanding that, although a few Regions still may recognize this Position, that, in fact, the NWCG had eliminated recognizing this position.  Are other contractor types running into this or similar problems with this solicitation? 

Thanks for the help and be safe out there,
3/25 NOPSer,

You suggest:

"If you are so worried about the site in March why don't you call down
there and ask if you can help get it up and running?"

That is not my job, I am a customer of that site and should not be called on
to administer it, that is what they pay the person in the job for. (An NTE,
BTW, not a detailer.)

We are all busy in our jobs, and most are overwhelmed, but updating that
sort of site more than every few months should not be too much to ask!


3/25 Levities?

What do you call a bunch of Hotshots in a cargo net?

That's right! "Sling Shots"

Stay safe!

I added it. Ab.

3/25 I remember:
  • As a GS-3 60 hours regular time or 40 hours OT paid a years tuition at
    an in state 2 year college. (Today same GS-3 at the same college takes
    245 hours regular time or 164 hours of OT)
  • As a GS-3 820 hours regular time or 547 hours OT would buy a new car
    (Today same car same GS-3 takes 2850 hours regular time and 1900 hours OT)
  • When the best find was an old orange fire shirt
  • Hard hats were metal
  • Fire shelter were optional
  • No personnel tents in fire camp
  • Paper sleeping bags and rain


3/25 Ab, have you seen this. Welcome to the new millennium

First British Aerospace BAE-146 Regional Jetliner acquired by Minden Air, of Minden, Nevada, for conversion to Air Attack role. Silver State News Service visited on February 4, 2005, as the conversion work began on the former Air Wisconsin N606AW.


Yep, Firescribe sent in that link 3 days ago. I think sometimes things get picked up here and sent around, but we're always happy for messages of interest, even if they overlap occasionally. Ab.
Minden Air Begins Work on First Ever British Aerospace 146 Pure Jet Air Attack Tanker Conversion

3/25 RE: 1889 fire, etc.
Ab --

Just to follow up with this, San Diego is spending millions of dollars to support a full time helicopter all year long. It is a tangible thing the politicians can point to that they are doing to protect citizens. Best use of fire management dollars? No one seems to be asking the right questions. The money would have been better spent on new rigs…or better yet, education programs to help people understand what it means to live in a fire prone environment.


3/25 Oliver,

I do believe you’re preaching to the choir.

The term you use “forest industry fallers” is, in fact the same animal as a “private sector faller.” Although, to be quite honest, I’m not sure what you mean by “hair coated fallers” – would you like to explain that? “Commercial Timber Faller” Definition: People who operate a chainsaw on their job in the commercial timber industry to cut logs which go to a mill for processing – either into lumber or other wood products, with the products eventually distributed to consumers. Sometimes fallers cut timber for faller contractors. Sometimes for a helicopter logging company. Sometimes for a conventional logging company. Sometimes for a lumber mill, on a crew. Many cut as independent fallers using their own state industrial policies and general liability & logger’s broad form. But, without exception, these people make their living, pay their mortgage and feed their families with the money they earn by cutting timber professionally in what you call the “forest industry.” If we’re missing definitions here, feel free to point it out. There’s not a lot of room for misunderstanding from my view.

I’ve read this comment of yours over a number of times…and you know, Oliver…I just kind of have to say to myself … “What the h___?”

“I hope NWSA faller chapter understands and supports the concept that on private lands in Oregon the first call for fallers will be to the timber companies and local fallers... and they may or may not be "private sector professional fallers" as defined by the NWSA faller chapter.”

I hope the above definition helps clarify this for you. I’m not sure just how many definitions of “private sector professional fallers” there are out there. In terms of “closest available resource,” the NWSA Faller Chapter fully supports the state & federal agency dispatch protocol and cooperative agreements maintained for fighting fire on private lands. Are you referring to land owned by companies such as Roseburg Lumber and Boise Cascade? I’m not aware of any private timber lands or land owners that do not have some type of cooperative firefighting response plan. But, that’s not at the center of this discussion.

And, you are absolutely correct…”forest industry fallers” or “private commercial timber fallers” have a long history of responding to wildland fires, as well as many other forest industry related resources – i.e. manpower, equipment and expertise in the woods. Unfortunately, the payment system relied upon to compensate commercial fallers for fireline work has dwindled pathetically over the years, and this year the proposed AD pay rate for a commercial faller under the “C-Faller” designation was $17 an hr. I’m not aware of any experienced commercial timber faller who would work for that amount in the Pacific Northwest, especially considering the level of skill necessary and the extent of hazard involved. Do you, Oliver? Fortunately, the proposed AD pay plan proposal was withdrawn, but still, the 2004 AD rate for fallers remains at $21 hr. (that’s straight time). This is approximately half what most commercial fallers make on their regular job. The new Faller Module Procurement Program provides a completely new hiring mechanism and a way to identify, hire and compensate commercial timber fallers in a much more equitable way AND assure they are covered with worker comp. and line of duty death benefit insurance for their families (which they aren’t provided under the AD Faller program). Additionally, the specifications – with the exception of S130-S190 – are experience, training and equipment a commercial faller would already meet in the course of performing their job…provided they are working as a commercial timber faller and not just cutting a couple cords of madrone for the woodstove each year. Without specifications there are no guidelines under which non-fallers can be measured and so, be prevented from making their way to the fireline. A new saw. A new shoulder strap. A strappy new fire shirt & chaps, fire pants & boots…are pretty much all it takes under the current AD faller program. I’ve been searching for meaningful specs for four years, everywhere, throughout the U.S. and abroad, with any agency, state or federal, and haven’t found any that are being successfully utilized. If you’re aware of some, let us know about them, please.

If you’d like to attend one of the upcoming fireline faller meetings, you’ll be able to get all of your questions answered. If we can’t answer them, we’ll find someone who can. If you have questions for agency folks, we’d be happy to send you in that direction, depending on the region you’re from and whether your question relates to state of fed jurisdiction. Since you mention Oregon, I imagine you’re in R6. The R6 Equipment Specialist who served a significant role in the development of the R6 Faller Module program is Terry Brown. You’ll be able to find his contact information in the Forest Service national directory. I believe there is a link for it in the Wildlandfire.com Link Section.

I think we do disagree on one point; there is no consistent set of specifications in place that adequately addresses private sector fallers on the fireline. If there were, and they were being applied and administered effectively, there would not be the significant numbers of unqualified (or under qualified) “fallers” showing up on the fireline as there has increasingly been in the past. With meaningful specifications in place - and administered - qualified commercial timber fallers will be clearly identified and will have access to fireline employment. Are we concerned about developing a set of specifications that can then be used to bludgeon commercial fallers as a labor force? No. Your OSHA comment rings like other comments I’ve heard throughout the timber industry. And, indeed, creating new and arbitrary guidelines needlessly could “divert time and $$ resources from where they can do the most good.” In relation to timber fallers working on the fireline, however, I don’t believe establishing criteria on how a qualified timber faller is determined falls under the category of needlessly diverting time and $$.

Lastly, there is no need to “develop private sector professional fallers.” They already exist – and actually in surprising numbers. New fallers learn falling skills just like every faller before them…usually by working closely with another seasoned faller and working their a_ _ off everyday rain or shine. The NWSA Prof. Timber Faller Chapter was established in 2002 to provide these forest industry workers with representation in the fire realm.

Oliver, if you’re a commercial faller, and/or you know commercial fallers, please consider coming either to the Wenatchee meeting, the upcoming Oregon meeting in Corvallis, or the Northern California meeting in Chico.

Shari Downhill
Exec. Dir., NWSA Prof. Timber Faller Chapter

3/24 Forester,

The 1889 fire was covered by all the major newspapers at the time and I have a copy of one of the clippings if you are interested. Send me an email at naturalist@californiachaparral.com and I’ll be more than happy to send you the pdf. The San Diego Fire Department was formally established several months before the fires in September of that year and I am in the process of trying to see if I can find any descriptions in their archives.

Thanks for your comments about my book. I really appreciate the input. The section you might have been particularly interested in (and hopefully enjoyed reading) is “How We Fight Brush Fires” in Chapter 3, “Fires and Firefighters.” I can’t tell you who provided the information on that one, but I’m pretty confident most firefighters in southern California would recognize the name with pride. It was a lot of fun writing that piece because it allowed me to use a different style from the rest of the book.

I am engaged in a number of other wildfire related projects and feel this group could provide a lot of valuable input before I submit any final drafts…if you are all willing. The one thing I want to help counter with my work is the continual stream of misconceptions and errors that comes out in the press concerning what all of you do. When I give presentations and detail about some of the reality firefighters face, I get a lot of wide eyed stares of surprise and disbelief from the audience. “You mean helicopters alone can't put out a wind driven fire with a water drop???”

Don’t know if you are aware of a group down here in San Diego called the “Committee on Accountability” but they are convinced the Cedar fire was primarily the result of backfires lit by the CDF. That kind of thing gets tossed out on talk radio all the time and people believe it.

Anyway, if any of you read anything I say that is not accurate or have any suggestions about things I should be looking into regarding helping the public (and politicians) get the story straight, please contact me via the above email.

It’s an honor to be able to contribute here.

aka jimhart
3/24 here's a little diddy to entertain the abs...wrote this a few years back after a close call .

The Sawyer

Lightning cracked snag
busted at its base.
Looking up for broken limbs
a grin on his face.

Vented flames midway up,
cracks in the trees armor.
Two pulls and the saw roars
echoing across the forest floor.

Trees of black rise to the sky
surrounding the sawyers task.
Ear plugs in to quiet the din
goggles worn like Zorro’s mask..

Undercut to sway the fall
as he moves around the tree.
The back cut made and “timber”
echoed a warning for
all to heed.

The snag came down
with a thud and cloud of dust.
Safety for incoming crews
A must.

A quick check for widow makers
That might be waiting to fall,
fire crews waiting for the
all clear call.

Moving across the hill
to another fire holding tree
to tip.
Taking out a snuff filled
tin... pausing to take a dip.

At the base of the snag the sawyer
sizes up the job.
Old tree ...a few limbs
eighty feet up to the broken top staub.

Saw in hand he makes the first cut,
sawdust black with soot.
Then something fell from above
hitting his boot.

All of a sudden the bark
lets loose and a ton of tree layer
came crashing to the ground.
The body of the sawyer
lies under the mound.

A lesson learned that bad things happen
to good people.
Gathered in remembrance
under the Church steeple.

Oliver Moore…copyrighted material
3/24 Appreciate the ROSS/MIRPS info NOPSer.


3/24 Re: Private sector Fallers on the fire line

Not to fan the flames but I hope NWSA faller chapter and the movement to design a professional faller series is guided by the practical application and use of forest industry fallers on most fire line situations. There is a long history of forest industry resources being successfully used on fires. In fact without the forest industry in Oregon our complete and coordinated fire suppression system wouldn't work. That is ...the landowners couldn't afford our services with out the help of Oregon's forest industry.

I understand the change from hair coated fallers with experience in falling big timber to mechanized harvesting equipment and smaller diameter wood being felled. However, there still exists a great number of qualified (by experience) fallers who each year provide a valuable service in tipping over snags and danger trees safely. These fallers maintain a basic level of fire training as required by OR-OSHA, they are experienced in falling timber and have the skills necessary to perform the task(s) asked of them.

I understand that once in awhile we might need to shop for fallers with a higher skills or ability due to the situation.

I also understand the AD pay scale for fallers suck and this might be a way to actually pay them what they deserve.

I hope NWSA faller chapter understands and supports the concept that on private lands in Oregon the first call for fallers will be to the timber companies and local fallers... and they may or may not be "private sector professional fallers" as defined by the NWSA faller chapter.

As we establish new categories or quals for fire fighting resources we fan the winds of change at OSHA and State OSHA levels and new rules are either developed or the occupational and health agency holds us to our internal polices or what they perceive to be the industry standard. Sometimes these changes divert time and $$ resources from where they can do the most good. I'm not saying this change will result in negative consequences I just think we need to be careful in identifying what we want versus what we need.

My comments are from my little peep hole into the world. I'm sure there are others who have had a series of unfortunate events with fallers who will have a different take on the professional faller series and I respect their view points.

In case I'm missing the argument in favor of developing private sector professional fallers I will take the time to read the information from NWSA faller chapter flyer (pdf file) to make sure I'm better informed and to make sure I'm not just talking to people standing behind me at pocket height <grin>.

3/24 As I approach retirement I've been thinking about changes in
wildland firefighting I've seen over my career.

I remember:

  • No hard hats, no nomex, gloves optional.
  • No radios on the line.
  • Slit trenches in fire camp.
  • C rations that were leftovers from Viet Nam.
  • Engines with stick shift.
  • Practical jokes, some of which involved tootsie rolls, rolled
    between warm hands to resemble "you know what" and left in
    strange and surprising places.
  • Favorite hotshot crew songs pre mtv.
  • Driving from here to there sometimes asleep in your food.
  • Chants yelled out while working - rude and crude.

Anyone else?

Old Wolf

There have been major changes in technology, vehicles, in structures from fire houses to fire camps, in food, in safety, in use of ICS and teams, etc. Many have taken place in the last 20-30 years.

See also other entertainments and firefighter levities from days gone by... Add to any of these lists if you want to...
Just One More Time
Wildland Fire Terms (not PC) and Irreverent Names
IMWTK (Inquiring Minds Want to Know)
Quotes to Live By

3/24 Proud To Be Here,

I must say that I agree with everything that Mellie said in her post. I am a little of a "flame fanner" myself. All fires start with a spark. That spark is eventually fanned and with sufficient fuel grows into a flame.

From the flame, with the right conditions, it can grow to a raging fire.

The question is, are the conditions right for this spark to grow? In my opinion, the answer is yes. I believe we (the firefighting community) are tired of the apathetic attitude from the higher powers that be. We place our lives on the line day after day. To be rewarded with what? Gutted AD rates, empty promises of improved safety, and more of the same apathy. The people who are willing to stand and make their voices heard can and will make a difference.

Mellie I applaud your attitude and I loved the post. I guess with a little more fanning we can get a little flame started. Or, maybe better yet, we can get several sparks going and we all know what can happen when we start getting frequent spots across the line!


3/24 R6 Tender Operator -

Many, many thanks for your great posting about getting qualified to work as a Tender Owner/Operator on fires this season. As a taxpayer and long-time Ronald Reagan supporter, I'm really pleased to see that supply side economics really works, and that the laws of supply-and-demand are finally being considered by the government agencies to get the best bargain for our tax dollars.

As you must well appreciate, there are some less-than-satisfactory performers out there in the Contractor ranks, and they need to be weeded out of the system. Looks like you've shown you've got a product that gives us taxpayers a good return for our money.

Most of us in the private sector enjoy the freedom of not working daily in the bureaucracy that has become our fire agencies, and are ready to take the risk of a rainy fire season or lack of fire dispatches to maintain that freedom.

Hoping for a quiet, low cost and safe fire season!

3/24 Disgusted,

OK I am going to say my two cents concerning fire web sites both north & south California and across the nation. They are ALL undergoing a MAJOR over haul. Following the lead from the Southwest Area. The National site should be up on line around then end of March and the GACCs I understand on line by May. As for the intel job at SOPS, it is still being filled by a detailer. A very good detailer but one like everyone elsa in the dispatch arena, very over loaded at this point. The dispatch world in California is down about 30% on staffing, makes it real tough for us to get through training, teaching and year end reports.. oh yeah staff the center 7 days a week 8-10 hours a day.

If you are so worried about the site in March why dont you call down there and ask if you can help get it up and running?

OK my two cents are up.
3/24 Re: Private sector fallers on the fireline…

We could use some assistance from agency fire folks out there. The NWSA Prof. Timber Faller Chapter has been working pretty hard in the development and implementation of meaningful and consistent specifications for commercial timber faller experience, equipment and training for those who wish to seek fireline employment. There has been significant progress, thanks to some very patient, persistent and wise folks inside and outside of the agencies who have shown they are committed to improving safety in this area. The Pacific Northwest regional Forest Service staff should be specifically commended.

There are three general information meetings coming up in the Washington, Oregon & Northern California for commercial fallers and faller contractors interested in working on the fireline under the new Corp. Faller Module Procurement Program. I have attached information regarding the NWSA Faller meeting (pdf file) in East Wenatchee, Washington April 9. The dates and logistics of the Oregon and Northern California meetings will be made available in the next few days. We would certainly appreciate this information being circulated to commercial timber fallers, or those interested in running a roster of fallers (faller contractors). In addition to providing information on the Corp. Faller Module program and the associated requirements, we’ll also be discussing the NWSA Prof. Timber Faller Chapter and opportunities to get involved. We could use more good minds and strong shoulders to help carry the load.

Again, the meetings are open to commercial timber fallers & faller contractors. Fallers…be ready to put your falling experience on the table…Verification is mandatory not optional, as is verification of wildland firefighting experience. A Faller Background verification package is now available through the NWSA Faller Chapter, with the verification process being completed by a contract background verifier using a consistent format and protocol nationwide.

Thanks for spreading the word.

Shari Downhill
Exec. Director, NWSA Prof. Timber Faller Chapter

Shari's contact info can be found via NWSA website (link on the Classifieds page); on their site, look under "membership". Ab.

3/24 RE: Halsey's book


I finished the book about a week ago. It is informative with lots of good information. Halsey covers just about all aspects of trying to manage chaparral ecosystems. I believe he was targeting homeowners, there is a lot of information on defensible space, veg management around structures, and what to do for recovery after the fire. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the ecological processes at work before during and after brush fires. One interesting note there is mention of a 800,000 acre fire in Orange county and 200,000 acres in San Diego county in 1889 both being wind driven by Santa Ana's. Any one have more info?


If you are going to ad the book to Fire books I give it 4 saws.

3/23 OK, I have held my tongue for quite some time, but I will now chime in
with a criticism of the SoOps site. Mick McCormick retired 3 months
ago and no longer is the IC of SoCal Team 3. Vail has also retired... etc.

C'mon! SoCal fire is supposed to be a leader! The Intel site there is a
disgrace! The last entry is Nov. 1 04!!!!!!!!!!!!

That job was filled a while ago, where is the evidence that someone is
at the helm?

Sign me Disgusted!
3/23 Hi Ab,

Good to hear from the sharp eyed Retired L.A.V.E. ICO the blades on our Tractors. Due to the hurricane activity around here over the past few years we have a lot of blown down trees and branches. The "Storm Blades" are all homemade in our maintenance shops and although they all look the same they are all slightly different. We use them to push away the debris so that the plows can get down in the ground and not fouled up with a lot of wood debris. I know that all of the fire control tractors in NCDFR Region 1 (eastern part of state) have them but I am not sure about the rest of the state. I don't know where the design originated and although they work fine our purpose they are not very good for trying to grade the terrain!


3/23 Proud to be here,

It's good to hear from you. Your post clarifies the source of your passion. Thank you for sharing it so clearly.

I can understand you wanting to light a spark. I frequently have the feeling of wanting to light things off -- sometimes under some people's as$es. <chuckle> Sometimes my feelings are a bit more subdued and I want simply to gently fan the glimmers of sparks I see. <little Madona smile> Other times I glimpse immense possibility and know the time is not yet quite ripe for me to get out the big bellows. <blacksmith at the forge>

Occasionally when I think the current reality is created by someone other than me, I wish some Lancelot or firefighter John Wayne type (or my dad or mom) will come along and set things right. The reality is this:  with whatever inner guidance we want to acknowledge -- OUR ACTIONS both individually and collectively create the best new emerging plan. And life is about continuously emerging plans. Sometimes it's simply about digging necessary line, sharpening chainsaws or rolling hoses. Sometimes it's about speaking up and questioning, seizing the moment. Sometimes it's about sharing vision. The key is in knowing what you can affect and what you might affect if you give a try, when to act individually and when to join with others, when to see what may be needed and then wait for the right moment...

Proud to be here, you have "the spark" for working to create change. I do too, as do many California firefighters who work at the higher levels. I say California only because it's the region I know best where I've gotten to observe some of the processes from the ground up. I am not a big fish, just a Mellie fish, sometimes a guppy, sometimes a carp, sometimes a barracuda, doing what Mellie does, guided by my passion, creativity, hopes and emerging vision just like you. Sometimes I simply wish for a day off from fire. I wish for a day when I don't have to maintain situational awareness. Sometimes I wish my mom hadn't taught me so much academic about levers and fulcrums and vision and my dad hadn't had me out with his Boy Scouts physically building swinging bridges over alligator and water moccasin infested Louisiana swamps. With knowledge comes the responsibility to use it wisely.

I don't think that I will ever be mentally free to take time off... One of my fire friends said that to create change you have to consistently "show up". That is true, so I do. And so do many fire managers concerned with trying to make policy in a changing world and mold a fire organization that keeps their people safe on the ground. And there's the problem... mandated policy, politics, bureaucracy, overblown expectations from govt, having to go along with the status quo, managers being pinched in the middle with directives from the top and pressures that relate to groundpounder and Public safety from the bottom. What managers do to support the ground troops may not be evident to those at other levels above and below them. These regional and middle managers are not REMFs, they're people who have come up through the pulaski-weilding ranks like you. That said, it's important for those below to keep bringing information back up to the top, to keep reminding them of current issues. Groundpounders to crew bosses to FMOs and FMOs to the BoD. Groundpounders up to their crew leaders and teams and ICs up to the regional chief and on up to Boise and the WO. Demonstrate that we're a centralized fire information-sharing organization. Form follows function! We have to remain dedicated to getting critical info upstairs -- like with the unworkability and issues with safety of the current hiring process especially for some GS levels where Hispanics are not available to be hired. What's with that??? Give our managers information and empower them to take your messages on up. And keep writing in here.

So we keep working at creating, addressing, igniting or otherwise lighting and fanning all manners of sparks... and sometimes it's great when you notice someone farted and you can light that off too. <BOOM> ROF LMAO

Service, Professionalism, Dedication, Guts... Some train our new kids or older ones moving up. Some mentor on the ground. Some go outside the agency to collectively lever for change from another direction like those in the FWFSA. (Thanks guys and gals. Those fed fire employees who haven't yet joined, sign up and make a difference!) Some work globally via IAWF. Some provide the safety net for our families and injured firefighters like joining the 52 Club of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, maintaining the Monument at NIFC or serving in the Honor Guard. Some contribute to theysaid or support this community's forum in different ways. Some do all of the above. Some have the guts to put career and job on the line and speak the truth -- like those involved in the Southern California Fire Siege 2003 Safety Protocol Review. Mick, your integrity blows me away! Ed, your intellectual integrity blows me away! (Original Ab, you know you blow me away! <smooch>)

Some firefighters hit 57 years young and have to retire hoping or knowing they've made a difference. Some come back to fire as AD or NWSA members. (And some have dedicated their lives to fighting fire as a business! Hats off to ya!) Some have to retire earlier because, for example, they have a teenage son who really needs a dad to help him now by being home in the summer. Some are simply burned out and have paid their "situational awareness fire dues" way beyond what's needed for entry into heaven. Wind surfing and a beach... for them and... often thoughts of fire. Some firefighters of pre-retirement age shift jobs because they can't afford to buy a SoCA house on their current income or support family while continuing to fight wildland fire in their current job. Some do that, then wish they could come back into wildland fire where their heart and passion are and make it work. There are many variations on reality of a public servant firefighter. But it continues to be true that change is brought about by those who continue to be involved, especially if their inner guidance inspires them in that way.

Me, I've been at this for 5 years as Lobotomy reminded me sometime last fall. I figure I have at least another 15 before I can even think of "retirement". Someone told me the other day that members of the 180 Club never get to retire from fire. Instead it's up to FIRE to let go of you and usually that doesn't happen til you're dead. I've been letting that comment sink in. I think it applies to me probably... My brain has been changed by fire and by all of you. I may be here for a veeeeery long time. My life is very rich for that and I'm thankful.

The bronze firefighter statue from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation awarded by John Wendt at that Division Chief's Meeting in '04 is precious to me, not only for the link with the fallen and those at the Foundation, but also for the honor you all did me with your standing ovation.

I am but one Mellie
<hand on cheeks><pressing in><little fishie face><guppy guppy lips>
playing my role with others who are passionate, professional and have guts;
mostly enjoying it - frustrations and all;
thankful to be here... with all of you.

3/23 Ab,

Nice to see a wildlandfire.com representative in Reno for the NWSA Conference.
Here is my website: www.pnwfire.com

Doc Brown

Our thanks to Debbie Miley and NWSA for including us. Nice new website for you and for them too... Ab.

3/23 Woody,

I like your pictures. Just wondering what kind of blades are on your dozers. They look different from all the others I have seen, is this common in the east or something special you guys have come up with? I have fought fires for 15 + years and I admit haven't seen everything, I might have missed this along the way.

I was enlightened and some what frightened, reading about the availability, or lack of air tankers for this upcoming fire season.

I guess the show will start soon for some folks, so be careful out there.

Retired L.A.V.E.

3/23 I would like to know if anyone that was fighting fire in California late april/may of last year, might have any photos of the airtanker I was a crewmember on, Tanker 65. We were on fires by San Berdoo/Riverside, Santa Barbara, Porterville.. Tanker 65 is a four engine DC-4.

Please let me know if you have any.

My email is msu94@aol.com

I saw a question someone asked about orthotics in boots? When I was on an engine crew, I wore orthotics in my boots. For some of the newcomers, I would also buy some Obenaufs boot wax, and grease up those boots.

Air Attack 2002, 2005?
Engine Crew 2003
Tanker 65 copilot 2004
3/23 Mellie,

Ok, ok, the full of themselves comment wasn't fair and for that I do apologize. I do realize the need for qualified individuals in the fire service and understand the shortage of up and coming leaders. I agree that questioning each other and ourselves is a great test of who we are. I did go a little overboard in my generalizations towards the "Agency" and should'nt of slandered it on a forum like this one. The reason I wrote the letter was to light a spark under people like you Mellie. In a sense I went fishing for a Big Fish that HAS ALOT of influence on a number of very important people in the "Fire World". I was at the Div's Chief workshop when you received your award. I was one of those folks in the crowd that stood and applauded for you. I also looked around to see people like Ray Q. doing the same. I was impressed with the mark you made with the big bosses and with the fire community. There aren't many influential people like yourself in the fire service anymore and that is what I have a "issue" with. I see alot of my close friends and co-workers from across the state with extremely LOW morale and it makes me sick. I obviously missed "dv's" point as well as SO-Cal FF's. And I guess that my experience (14 short years) with the USFS doesn't give me the right to speak even if it's out of my BUTT. All that i'm saying Mellie is, the wheel is broken and it's time to fix it. I know that you and others at your level can and want to help. I want to see the folks that can make a difference make it. I want to see the GS level turn into a FIREFIGHTER series. I want to see a better benefit package for FIREFIGHTERS and RESPECT given to those that sacrifice soooo much as WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS. I also understand that most of this isn't in our hands and that is what bothers me the most. Again, Mellie and whomever I offended with my RANT, I do apologize, it's just hard watching my friends suffer.

Sign me,
Proud to be here
3/23 Letter from WCFA on new contractors

Ab - we get many of the same questions on the steps involved in
starting a new engine / tender / handcrew business. Here are all of
the steps resources, and links. its in word format and at last check
all of the links are current.

hope this helps you out.


If anyone wants this, please let me know. Ab.

3/23 We're still looking for a couple more RXI2's (or
higher) for this year's burning season.


Ex-Shots Fire

Check the Jobs page. Ab.
3/23 Curious,

MIRPS/ROSS change over. Well I can tell you what is on the books to happen, what most of the actual dispatcher would like to happen, north vs south, and I can tell you what will more then likely happen.

First, what the books say.. May 1st 2005 all Federal Agencies will go to ROSS for out of state orders, Type 1 or 2 incidents and UTF orders that need to go to the GACCs then NICC to fill. CDF will go to ROSS come Jan 1st 2006.

Second what most dispatcher would like to see happen. North- Go now and go all the way and get rid of MIRPS: it is just making more work for us, cut the ties with MIRPS and go head long into ROSS. South- Just make ROSS go away.

Third-- Feds will go half way this year, all the way by 2006. CDF hummmm well next year sometime. Seems lots of politics are in the way.

No one likes change we all know that, but the only thing that remains the same is change. ROSS is a change. A change that California is way behind the power curve on. The rest of the country went about three years ago. For once California is not the leader, yes they have concerns about ROSS, they had the same concerns about MIRPS. Business practices are almost done being written. I have used the program for three years it has come a long long long way since 2000. I am on the cadre to teach ROSS in CA and the attitude towards the program is changing, now that the dispatcher can actually work in the program and not just listen to the gossip about it.

Any more questions or concerns I will try and help.

3/23 In response to the question of boots. An inaccurate statement was posted as to steel shanks being in all better boots. Most better boots in fact do not not have steel shanks. Handmade wildland boots from Whites, (including Hathorn and Hathorn Explorer), Drews and Nicks have all leather arch , shank and insole. One reason these boots cost more and perform so well is that the high all leather arches will form to the individual wearer's foot during break in. Steel shanks are actually an inexpensive construction. It costs more in materials and labor to construct a boot from all leather components and properly balance the heel to the arch height. Inexpensive high heel boots with no arch support simply throw all the weight to the ball of the foot. Proper weight distribution is key to comfort via all leather arch support. Steel shanks can conduct heat, break or bend.

What sets off metal detectors in airports are the metal hooks and eyelets or maybe some nails in the heels. Hope this clears up some misinformation.

3/22 I've updated the Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist).

Readers, I've been working for several days to update the photo pages. I think I'm caught up. Please look. It's nice to have photos available for training and educating powerpoints, personal enjoyment, and for making the occasional request for funding. The middle- and high-schoolers love making fire websites. I like looking. Thanks to all contributors.

Thanks to our photo page sponsors: Alan Simmons Fire Videos for the fire pages,  Colorado Firecamp for the Wallpaper pages and Nick's Boots for the handcrews pages. Ab.

3/22 Ab,

Could you please add this logo to your webpage. Appreciate the site, and
have a good winter.

SHF Fly Crew.


Bg, I added it to the Logo11 page. Ab.

3/22 some pictures from AK last season


Thought I'd finally get these out to you: The descriptions are as follows:

Boundary Fire, Steese Portection Taskforce
Burnout by Midnight Sun IHC at Poker Creek, Boundary Fire: Note the sign on the bridge!
Burnout by Midnight Sun IHC at Poker Creek, Boundary Fire
Torching tree, Boundary Fire
Helibase at Wolf Creek Fire, with two Era Aviation Bells
Lucky Creek plume, approx 12 hours after it was called in



Thanks Robb, I put them on the Fire26, the Helicopters18, and the Handcrews16 photo pages. Ab.

3/22 These photos are of Kern County Fire Department Helicopter 408 making a drop and taking on water from the newly constructed dip site in Golden Hills near Tehachapi, CA. Taken October 2004.

Tony Diffenbaugh

Thanks, I added them to the Helicopters18 photo page.

In addition thanks to Mike Evans for more of his apparently never ending supply of helicopter photos: Training Aids, CDF-205 and Re-seed / Bale-bombing.


3/22 Ab,

Here's a photo of the Davis Fire Column, June 28 2003 Crescent Oregon.

Dave L

Nice plume. I put it on the Fire26 page.

Thanks also to JS, Mark M and Pete for other photos on that page. Ab.

3/22 Hey guys thought you may like this photo.

its of the Lime Creek Fire, near Pine Idaho 2004
Jason M asked me to send it in - his computer is tired and out of action


I put it on the Fire26 page. Ab.

3/22 Ab, Here are 2 pictures:

Photo Olinda Hotshots, Tasman Helitak 345 (Canadian) & Canadian air crew
Photo "fogged in" - Tasman Helitak 345 on stand by / Olinda Australia

The Worrells

Thanks, I added them to the Helicopters18 photo page. Ab.

3/22 Hello Ab,

I am sending these pics of some of our crew this last fire season. I work for the Southwestern Zone BLM in Rock Springs WY. I would like to have these put on your site.

Thank You,

Happy to oblige. I put them on Engines12 and Engines 13 photo pages. Ab.

3/22 to whom it may concern:
here's a photo i took on one of the fires i was on last summer. I have already recognized some of my fellow firefighters and engines from my unit. I like your site and hope you can post my photo.


Thanks Byron. I put your Strike Team photo on the Engines12 page. Ab.

3/22 Here is a photo I took of the Campbell Fire in 2004. Fire burned around 4100
acres mostly BLM and Uncompahgre National Forest near Nucla, Colorado. Photo
was taken at sunset from the Paradox Valley near Paradox, CO.

Tim M

Thanks, I put it on the Fire26 photo page. Ab.
3/22 I was hoping you could put these on your website. Great site and keep it up.

1st is a crew picture of one of the two Initial Attack hand crews that I work on based out of the Wenatchee River Ranger District in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests in Leavenworth Washington. The picture was taken on the Icicle Fire '04 and you can also see the bucket of X-ray popa (the helicopter that went down last year on our ranger dist.)

2nd  is a Fire dept. patch for Douglas County Fire District #2 of East Wenatchee, Washington that I volunteer for.

3rd is the new logo for our I.A. shirts of  the Wenatchee River Ranger District Fire Management. Also we were formally 2 ranger districts which were Leavenworth and Lake Wenatchee. Now we are combined and are officially the Wenatchee River R.D.

Hope to see the pics on your site soon. I have a million more fire pics  if you would like them. Email me back. Thanks again. Luis

Luis, I put those on the Handcrews16 photo page and the Logo11 page. Ab.

3/22 These are just some of the pics brought to you by Medford BLM Oregon


Thanks JS, I put them on the Handcrews16 photo page. Ab.

3/22 Hello Ab,

I attached a few photos from the Corapeake Road Fire in the Great Dismal Swamp NWR on the NC/VA border during May & June 2004. About 240 acres started by a lighting strike, mostly ground fire and it took several weeks and a lot of water from a half dozen high capacity pumps to saturate the 640 acre block the fire was in.


Nice plows and people from a different part of  the firefighting world; I added them to the Equipment9 photo page. Ab.

3/22 Love your site and would like to share two photos of our private water tender. I had hundreds of great fire photos I have taken on fires but lost my hard drive (ouch) Thank god I had posted these to my website before the loss.

Anyhow both of these photo's were taken last year at the Kincaid/San Antone fires in San Jose Mt Hamilton area.
Our Family business is Cal Hydro and we have two Tenders a 4200 gal support tender and this 2400 gal fire ready tender shown in photos. we are getting ready for this season and hopefully I will be able to send some good pics later this year.
If you decide to post could you send me the link?

Thanks stay safe,
Robert O'Connor
Cal Hydro Engine Boss

I put one of them on the Equipment8 photo page. Ab.

3/22 Ab, here's an interesting essay I came across...
Halsey's website has interesting info on fire in the ecosystem.
He also has a book that looks to be instructive. Has anyone read it?
Fire, Chaparral, And Survival In Southern California


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

The Cedar fire: a question of blame?
By Richard W. Halsey

On your next excursion to Julian, California, stop at the Inaja Memorial just up the hill from Santa Ysabel. Take a moment and read the bronze plaque listing the 11 firefighters who were killed while battling the Inaja fire on Nov. 25, 1956. The incident report published after the disaster recommended "that a better knowledge of fire behavior must be developed as an essential means of preventing future fire tragedies."

The Cedar fire of October 2003 in San Diego County, California, started approximately five miles southwest of where the Inaja fatalities occurred, in the same type of vegetation and rugged terrain. Consequently, San Diego-area fire commanders knew the risks involved when they arrived on scene with approximately 350 fire control personnel within an hour of the Cedar fire being reported: impenetrable, 12-foot-high chaparral, steep canyon walls and approaching Santa Ana wind conditions. Not a lot could be done without risking the lives of hundreds of firefighters. Then the winds picked up, blasting an explosive inferno across 18 miles by early the next morning. It was an unstoppable force.

Nine months later, after listening to grandstanding politicians, ill-informed radio commentators, and now attorneys of the Allstate Insurance Company who are considering suing local firefighting agencies for not "dispatching appropriate firefighting efforts at the incipient stage" of the Cedar fire, one would think the entire disaster was caused by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. According to one of Allstate's lawyers out of Chicago, "Little or nothing was done in the process when this fire was very, very approachable." Really? One wonders if this attorney has ever confronted 100-foot flames screaming down on him during a California brush fire.

The Cedar fire was reported at 5:36 p.m., Oct. 25. Claims of earlier calls have never been corroborated. Being able to assemble 350 fire control personnel into the backcountry within an hour of the report is hardly an inadequate response.

To read the rest click HERE. Posted with permission of the author. Ab.

3/22 From Firescribe:

Minden Air Begins Work on First Ever British Aerospace 146 Pure Jet Air Attack Tanker Conversion

CDF calls in pilots; appears ready to staff tankers fully

Oregon Governor Considers Statewide Drought Emergency

Only 8 or 9 air tankers to be ready for service (National)

Lingering drought in South Dakota brings fire worries

Firefighters Train For Duty in Oregon

GPS-based system lets Forest Service keep track of firefighting aircraft

3/22 Sorry to stir such a big pot, although R2LY seems to know what I was talking about. Didn't mean to rub folks quite so raw. I could explain it further but for self preservation I'll choose to just drop it. I enjoy reading most of the posts and contributing my 2 cents worth. This is a good forum and the anonymity makes for good no holds barred discussions. I have to admit sometimes I just play Devil's Advocate and spout off ridiculous bah blah just to see who bites, but I stand by what I said to R2LY. There is nothing wrong with someone telling someone else they are concerned about policies from our cooperators that MAY not mesh with what we do. The questions were to the point, blunt, and probing, the same type of questions I ask folks who apply to my crew. By the way thanks for being a good sport R2LY, it's just one of the many hurdles you might encounter.

Mellie brought out a good point about not knowing who you may be speaking to, on advice from some I did change monikers to maintain a certain stealth-like profile. At first I had only intended to write in on a very specific topic, since that experience went well I opened the flood gate of my not so perfect wisdom for everyone to bask in.

I do like the sarcasm but seriously VFD how do I get one of them cool R2 Fire God Taskbooks.

3/22 New Forest Service GS-9/11 International Disaster Assistance position open
government-wide, closes April 15. Don't let the social science stuff put
you off, good ICS skills particularly at the C&G level and overall
management/leadership experience are big assets.

3/22 Anyone know what the status of ROSS/MIRPS is and
when changes will occur, if ever?


3/22 Safety. It is on all of our minds.

Since 2000, the Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) of the United States Forest Service has been publishing "Firefighter Health and Safety Reports" and recommendations. So far, I see that nine have been prepared and I think that 9 out of 9 have never made it down to the majority of field level firefighters, supervisors, and managers. Why produce safety reports and recommendations for 5 years if the LESSONS LEARNED are not being forwarded to the firefighters in the field? Why have the Tri-Data Corp do a study when you don't implement the majority of safety recommendations?

MTDC has performed many other studies that don't seem to reach the field level. After the 1987 and 1988 fires in California and Yellowstone (The first recognized Mega Fires)... MTDC did a study on the health hazards of smoke. It was an excellent study and never made it down to the field level unless folks actually spent their own time actively seeking the results in either print form, Fire Management Today, or through internet searches. The Tri-Data Study hit the heart of firefighter safety, but little has been done.

There is a broken link in firefighter safety. It is one of MANY broken links. The links have been broken for a REASON and wildland firefighters are about to take that REASON to TASK and make changes for firefighter safety. The reason that wildland firefighters are treated like mushrooms is that knowledge is power.... If a wildland firefighter is kept in the dark and fed BS... they will just produce another mushroom (firefighter) who just sits there and continues to eat BS. Wildland firefighters will no longer let themselves be treated as mushrooms or produce offspring who don't understand that SAFETY is what it is all about.

3/22 Hi Dave,

My older pair of Whites held up for almost eight years with reasonable maintenance before they needed a rebuild - what a mistake, I should have just kept getting them resoled. After the rebuild the new leather started cracking within months. I had purchased a second set while the first was away and they have stretched much more than the first pair ever did. On the whole I think that Whites "ain't what they used to be". I don't know what changed over in Spokane but my money will be going to the Nick's shop for the next rebuild - and they will rebuild White's product.....FWIW.

3/22 Boy, talk about a can of worms!! First of all:

Mellie – thanks for reiterating, in a much more eloquent way, my point about words, verbal clues, etc.

PTBH – your encouragement is greatly welcomed. I did not take dv’s post as a hip check, per se, rather a check-up. I would imagine I would have thrown the bulls**t flag if I were reading my first post in this thread, too. His questions were solid and appropriate. >From my p.o.v., no harm, no foul.

dv - see above!

I never intended the firewhirl this turned into. I wanted feedback and got it. I would have been a fool to think some people would not write what some have - their opinions which they are entitled to. I am, however, entitled to throw them out with the baby and the bath water if I don’t agree. No offense meant, but that’s how I see it. As PTBH hinted to, firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, etc. are PUBLIC servants, not PERSONAL EGO servants.

So, if you are in the business, or are looking to get in, to have your own ego stroked, think long and hard and make another choice. Maybe a professional sports career might be more in line with your mindset. Besides, you get paid a butt-load of money to play a game! If you chose a career in fire, leave the ego and the associated psychoses at check-in. We cannot, in good consciousness, serve the public they way the should be served if we are always trying to get our pics or a quote in the paper. As many of us have been saying, actions speak louder…

Egos are important in this business in the sense that if you are looking out for #1, you will keep yourself safe (hence, Job #1). But, PLEASE, don’t forget about #2 - your families and friends, #3 - your crew, and #4 - the public. And if you can’t get past #1, you aren’t doing anyone any favors, including yourself!

Someone, take my soapbox, puhleeeeese!

3/22 They Said Tender Inspection Finished

Some of what a Private Contractor wanting to be a Tender Owner/Operator for the USFS has to do. This is after you finance or buy a $30,000 to $40,000 proper Water Truck.

The Tender Inspection Process is very rigid. You have to first have it inspected for being safe by the Federal Commercial Truck Inspectors. Apply for a Federal DOT Number with Inter/State use and a Business License, open an account with ORCA, CCR, DUNN, EATIS, ROSS and get a Tax Number. You will also need to get a CDL Class B License with Air Brake and Tanker Endorsement. Pay for Training and Testing for Alcohol and Drug Abuse along with being set up for Random Drug Testing thru the year at any time. After that they do another complete inspection of your Tender to include proper type of tires, all required fittings and hoses, full safety inspection of the Mechanical Condition of the truck and it better not have any defects, leak any oil or fluids. They want you to pass this the first time or you go down further on the Call List!

Your Tender is Rated Excellent, Good, Fair or Not Passed. They weigh your truck empty and full to figure how much water you carry, check the Factory GVWR to be sure you are not over weight. Your Pump is Vacuum Tested to see how far down you can draft and the GPM is tested to verify how much water you can pump. You need to pump at least 200 GPM and Draft at minimum requirements to pass. You have to have to carry full Commercial Vehicle Insurance, 2 Million Dollar Liability Insurance and pay GVW Tonnage Fees for the Full Year. They require you to provide your own Radio and show you can program it and use it properly. All Personal Safety Gear and 2 changes of clothing are required to be on the truck and supplied by you. This is sorta the tip of the Iceberg to get on with the USFS Private Contractors besides having all the proper Fire Training and Certification.

Now that you have done all this you are put on a list with over 800 Tenders - at my last count for Region 6 - to compete with to get on a fire. You may or may not get called out during the Fire Season Year. You pray that you do so you can offset at least some of the investment you put out to sign up. You hear about how much Private Contractors get - anywhere from $800.00 to $1,600.00 per day - but I only went out 14 days last year and this did not return all my investment required to get a Contract. I did not get rich. I hope to break even this year due to building my own truck to save some of the cost. A lot of guys did not even see one day of work last year, I was lucky to get out as much as I did!!

I Contract with the USFS because I enjoy Fighting Wildland Fires and it gives me a way to get on the fires to do my part.

R6 Tender Operator who just completed all the required steps to get on again for another Season!
Hope to see all you out there on the Fires and remember to Always Be Safe!

Maybe we should put this on the FAQ page. We often get questions asking what it takes... Ab.

3/22 Ex-R2LY,

From what I hear, the new 310-1 will have the following courses listed for MFG4:

* S-232, Crew Titan
* S-297, Wildfire Deity Behavior (intermediate)
* RX-305, Pre-Ordained Fire Effects

I guess they're still kicking this back and forth between the various NWCG working teams, so the course numbers may change. There's still no word which classes will be recommended and which will be required. The current taskbook format will likely be discontinued in favor of a 'task scroll.' Positions that maintain currency include FBPS, Fire Budget Prophecy Specialist.

It would be helpful if the leadership committee folks would modify their curriculum to add something like L-183, Followership to Worship. The way they keeping pushing their heathen safety agenda sure isn't making these MFG4(t) assignments any easier.

vfd cap'n
3/21 David - ah, the perpetual boot question!!

Without getting into brand preferences, I can give you a little background about the criteria we used to develop the NFPA Wildland PPE Standard (NFPA 1977) in 1993 and 1998; there is a new version out now, but I'm betting it's essentially the same.

Wildland boots must be leather (no synthetic materials), at least 8" high, lace up, and with non-skid soles. Steel toes are not advised or recommended, but steel shanks are found in most of the better wildfire boots like Whites, Nicks, Westco, etc..., and are important to have - they're just a pain when you go thru airport security on out-of-area fire assignments! They have no effect on the wearability of the boot.

If you want some real basic wildland boots and foot care advice, call the USFS Technology & Development Center in Missoula at 406-329-3900 and ask for their FREE video "Meet Your Feet": it explains all the boot/sox/foot care issues in depth!

Dick Mangan
3/21 Proud to be Here:

Let me just say that readers of theysaid rarely know the history of posters unless they visit chat and use the same moniker and tell you who they are. If they want, people can be anonymous, without status, agency or job affiliation, gender or age on this forum. Not knowing who is who, what their experience is, what their concerns are, what facial and body cues accompany their words, readers can easily misattribute comments posted here to a lack of professionalism or label the writers as a pompous, immature and insecure. They probably are not.

Readers, I would ask you all to imagine firefighters who are posting here to be coming from a place of integrity and safety orientation following Cramer and/or a lifetime of firefighting. If you did, you'd probably get close to the attitudes of the professionals who raise issues here. I think the community and the Abs long ago weeded out the real ugly posters. I've heard them repeatedly ask posters to stick to issues and not make personal attacks. People do that pretty well here and in chat.

I think this last thread is valuable. Qualifications and experience are key to safe firefighting on the ground and to safe management. Quals across fire vary by location and employer. The questions being raised about this are good questions. I appreciate the honest questions and answers. I don't even take dv's comments as a hip check. If you had paid attention to dv's other posts through the last year or two -- that is if dv wasn't just a pair of initials to you -- you might have an idea why he asked ex-R2localyokle about experience. If ex-R2L hadn't thought he might be getting into something over his head, it's a good thing to consider.

Oh, and I don't think where the Agency and its employees are now is a result of them being full of themselves. How? Doesn't make sense to me, but I don't know your history or issues. Perhaps if I talked with you face to face I'd better understand what you meant by that. 70-80% of communication is non-verbal.


3/21 Sir -

I am a new Volunteer with a rural WA. State fire district. We are getting ready for the summer season and I find that I am at loss. Is it possible for you to give me a direction to head in finding information regarding Boot Selection. Everyone I have spoken to and based on pretty complete research, I find that all boots have Steel in the shank. The people I am associated with are an older group of Volunteers and say "No Steel" in the boot. Not possible by my findings. Does it make that much of a difference and where can I find the right answer. 

Thank You for the Assistance.


Check Nicks boots on the Classifieds page. 

3/21 vfd cap’n – you’ve been on those fires in Colorado, too? I guess complexity is in the eye of the beholder.

On another note, is the MFG4 task book USFS or BLM based? I know some guys who want it. Not me, of course; I don’t think I will ever have the prerequisites spelled out in 310-1 for it!

3/21 To: Ex-R2LY

I have to say that I am a little surprised at some of the responses directed at you after you asked for help from the "They Said" readers. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't this job (FIREFIGHTING) about public service? Isn't this job about helping one another out when they need it? In a time where the "Agency" is losing a record number of its employees to outside departments you would think that everyone involved with the USFS would be more helpful and less judgmental. One would think that the "Agency" would go out of its way to guide and direct seasoned folks like yourself to a opportunity that would benefit the cause. After working in R-5 for 14 years I have had the privilege of working in both sides of the state. And after working in south-zone for the majority of that time I have also had the privilege of working with some of the best people that the fire service can offer. On the other hand I finished my USFS career in north-zone and had the privilege of working with another excellent group of Firefighters. I now work for a county fire agency and am learning a new side to the fire service. What has not changed in my travels is the pride, professionalism and honor of being a firefighter in this country. I'm a little peeved at some of the posts that have been and still are being directed at you in a pompous, immature and insecure way. I think it takes a big person to lay it out the way you did on a site like this one. I think that if the "Agency" and all of its employees would be a little less full of themselves they wouldn't be in a mess like they are in right now. I think that if you decide you want to be apart of the USFS, CDF etc... etc.... you will find a great bunch of folks that do a great job helping people. We are all doing the same job, we just wear different uniforms as you already know. If people like SO-Cal FF and "dv" want to hip check you, let them. It is usually the insecure that are first to throw a rock in a brittle glass house. Good luck to you in your search, I hope you find what you are looking for......

Sign me,
Proud to be Here

P.S. Ab, can you please spell check this? My comp isn't working well today.
3/21 Ab,

I found the links for Oregon's precip and fuel moisture.

Things are getting interesting around here. Rumors of 10+ acre fire last week from the coast to the Cascades. Came home from Redmond S-490 and saw crows at the crater lake turn-off. Also Mt. Thielsen looks like late July.

The smoke management website for all the info you want is:

Specifically for days since precip and fuel moistures which is under "consumption aids" in the above site is:
www.odf.state.or.us/DIVISIONS/protection/fire_protection/daily/drying.asp and www.odf.state.or.us/DIVISIONS/protection/fire_protection/daily/fuelmois.asp


3/21 dv,

I've been working on my MFG4 taskbook for a couple years now. You would be
surprised how hard it is to get signed off as a "type 4 minor fire god" in

You also wouldn't be the first to come to Colorado and be rather unimpressed
with our fire load. One would be inclined to think all these folks coming
in from outside the region with all this great, real fire experience would
have no problem at all with our measly, low complexity fires.

I guess the fires just look simple when viewed from the interstate highway.

vfd cap'n
3/20 dv – You know my ex-chief? I hope you are nice the next time you talk to him – my status and my recommendations are riding on you! Thanks for your understanding. I hole-heartedly agree with the idea of B.S. quals that many of the Colorado front range folks hold (up to and including DIVS!). Many of the agencies around here look at state- and nation-wide dispatches as their meal ticket. Combine that with the fact that chiefs, regardless of the WL fire quals, can sign off up to ENGB is crap! Talk about a conflict of interest… Several agencies in this area exist that do get folks out on campaign fires across the country. These experiences, along with the some local I.A.s make for some good FFs. You are not only well within your rights, but very smart if you are critical of folks from the area on fires, until they prove themselves. However, any fire supervisor should be wary of crews, engines, hotshots, jumpers, etc. that they do not know. 

I almost got badly burned by a BLM engine under my watch who said they has B-faller quals. I did not check their cards – that was my mistake, no question. I walked up on this crew after flying the fire with the IC and IC(t), and found the only A-faller in the crew trying to drop a cat-faced tree that, green, was “B” complexity. As I walked up, he started to use the pie wedge from his face cut to wedge the tree (he had attempted to fall against the lean without proper wedges). I should have been more critical at the get go. Lesson learned on my part. If you are not critical of people you have not worked with, you are setting yourself up. As my ex-chief always said, “Nobody knows more about fire than you do, until they prove different.” A bit of an egotistical view, yes, but it makes the point. As I have been saying in my recent (numerous) posts, I would rather prove myself on the fire ground than describe my quals and experience. 

Guys and gals, what it comes down to is that talk is cheap. Take care of yourselves and one another on the lines. That is the most important thing we do as FFs.

3/20 Rock Hill Fire is looking for engine crewmembers. . .bases are in Wyoming and Minnesota.  View the new recruiting ad here:  WLF Jobs Page


3/20 nmairbear:

Thanks for the input. But from my experience with the specific departments I was talking to R2L about, they tend to move people along in their training without much regard to type or complexity of incident. I would think R2 L would agree with me, in fact he did in his response to my original post. Where I hail from has a bit of R2 experience, and I'm glad you mentioned Paul, he was the last of the good guys. I know first hand that Front Country Colorado doesn't see that much IA or even large fires. You call pull out the most recent years as being high fire occurrence, but in any western region it would be an average season.

I'm just reiterating some of the prejudice he is going to face making the BIG SWITCH. Most of us go the other way, to the county. I'd hire him, in fact we're looking for folks. My concern with anyone's quals is that it's not paper, it's on the ground line punching, fire seeing, firing operations not rx, air tanker coordinating, helicopter directing, multiple experiences dealing with extreme fire behavior, and such. Not many county FDs get that experience to lead suppression efforts of that complexity. Many times, not always, fire of this complexity outside of R5 are usually Fed fires. I know that may not be a popular stand, but there it is. I am prejudiced against those from certain areas with high quals, because I have seen the system and the fires they encounter. That doesn't mean R2L isn't a damn good fire man, in fact I know who his chief is and I respect him a lot. so there it is prejudice from experience. sorry i can't explain it more. R2L sorry that those before you, and you know who, have made a heck of a lot of us wary.


3/20 Concerning the DRIPTORCH curser...

Sorry I am back reading. been on the road way to much this spring teaching and dispatch workshops...

Yes I would still like it.. or would like to know where I can find it to download it...

EX R3 Dispatcher NOW R5 Dispatcher at NOPS

I just emailed it. Ab.

3/20 no comments about previous posts; only one question:

when y'all refer to a "Fed" do you only refer to those who are employed/paid by the Dept of AG?


Within the overall interagency fed wildland firefighting organization, FS is the largest and it's DOA. DOI organizations include BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA. DOD also has firefighters that do some wildland. Ab.

3/19 SoCaL FF – I couldn’t agree with you more. However, with all due respect, please reread dv’s post. Specifically, he asked:

“From your previous post you said you had the quals to get an AFMO job,
what are those quals and how did you get them?”

That sounded like a request for me to post my quals and experience. If I misunderstood, then I apologize. But I really don’t care if people think I am just talking the talk. I know who I am and what I can do. Hence the statement in my previous post regarding an audit of my training, experience and quals. I wish we might meet up on a fire somewhere, talk face-to-face, allowing me the opportunity to show you who I am and what I am capable of, as opposed to telling you. In fact, we may have already been down those roads.

Unfortunately, this forum only allows for words. And I sincerely doubt that anyone would want to watch a video resume of mine (I’m not that attractive to look at), even if the Abs had, and would, allow the high use of bandwidth. Interpretations are left open to the reader. You saw read what you read. I wrote what I wrote, in response to a follow-up post. I would hope that anyone reading “They Said” would take each post with a grain of salt (and maybe a shot of your choosing if that’s your gig) and understand that words alone can never accurately represent the entirety of a person.

NMAirBear – Thanks for the input. I appreciate your views. USDI is on my list. Let me know if you hear of anything that might be for me. Ab knows how to get a hold of me!


3/19 Ex-R2LY:

Great response to dv. Stand your ground. From the information in your post you are VERY qualified for an AFMO or similar job with the feds. You might want to look at some of the USDI agencies that are having a hard time finding good folks. I have seen folks with much less quals get some of the permanent-but-not-so-glamorous fire management positions lately. Yes it probably means you have to pay your dues for a while.


Readers on this esteemed forum definitely support your concern. Where, however, do you come off thinking that somebody with non-fed experience from R2 is by definition less-than- qualified for an AFMO or similar position? Some of the best fire folks I know after 35 years of doing wildland fire as a fed (retiring as an FMO) are non-fed/non-USFS from places other than wherever it is you hail from. They are from all over the USA! Paul Gleason ending his career as a fed with the NPS in R2 comes to mind. Maybe you should join us in chat some evening and talk to some non-fed folks from places you have never been. You could learn a lot.

3/19 The Fire Service is a very competitive job, but for people to be comparing qualifications is rookie stuff. This is like 1st year seasonal crap. It just shows your insecurities with your job and knowledge. >From the time I got on the job I learned very early that people can talk the talk but cannot walk the walk. Everything I have learned from past supervisors is to be humble, do your job and never confuse confidence with cockiness. So the conclusion in my opinion is that if your a good Fireman you let your work do the talking for ya!

3/19 dv – re: your post of 3/18

I appreciate your concern. I don’t WANT to take a step back, but if it will help me in my future goals, ya’ gotta do what ya’ gotta do! As far as my quals, here it goes: B.A. in Biology + Secondary education certificate, DIVS(t), ICT3(t), RXB2(t), WFI3(t), HECM, TFLD, RXI2, FALB, fire behavior up to S-490. State FF1 (structural), State EMT-B, Hazmat Awareness, Ice Rescue Tech, High Angle Rescue. Have taught 130/190, 131, 215, 230, 231, 212, 290, I-100, I-200, I-300, and refreshers – most of these multiple times (290 no less than 8 times). 14 years in Fire/EMS, 11 in wildland fire. Ran a crew of up to 14 doing W/UI assessments and mitigation implementation, as well as local, state and national fire responses. Been on ~20 campaign fires on engines, crews, helitack. 100+ I.A. fires. Sorry for the laundry list, but I wanted to put it all in perspective. If I need to spend a season or two paying my dues with the feds as a seasonal, so be it.

I know, by name, some of the R2 individuals you are referring to. I hate the fact that I am lumped in with them. But I have always known that my quals are valid and true. I would never knowingly place myself in a situation that I could not handle. I step outside of my comfort zone, but that is the only way to learn and grow. I think the minimums some agencies place on people in regards to training and task books is a bunch of crap. Task books cannot be applied to everyone equally. My structure fire and EMS experience lend themselves to many positions: FFT1, ENGB, ICS, etc. Just because it wasn’t on wildland fire, doesn’t mean the experience is invalid. I ran an engine crew of three and was IC on 100s of non-wildland calls. All-risk? You bet! That is what the “O’s” and “I’s” are for. I would have anyone from any agency look at my training, experience, and quals any time. Did I do it by the book or the way that 310-1 prescribes to the tee – no. But I am comfortable where I am, and so was my supervisor, who spent many years in the USFS, up to DFMO.

In conclusion, I will do what needs to be done to get me where I want to be.

3/18 From Firescribe:

Fewer troops free to battle wildfires

Woman lost fighting Calif. wildfire lives on in crewmates' memory

U.S. Forest Service in deep doo-doo over wildfire started by flaming cow dung

Authorities are investigating whether Forest Service workers can be charged with arson for a 900-acre wildfire that was ignited after gusty winds carried flaming cow dung outside a controlled burn site.

3/18 This came in from a Utah firefighter. Thanks for the information. Ab.

Services for Steven Smith, wife Amber (Miller) and daughter Opal.

LDS Church
100 West, 500 South
Panguitch, Utah

Viewing: Monday, March 21 @ 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22 @ 10 a.m. – noon
Service: Tuesday, March 22 @ 1 p.m.

Cards and letters for the Smith and Miller families may be sent to the following addresses:

Dale Smith
331 Bowlan Road
Belton, SC 29627

Jim and June Ann Miller
510 South, 250 West
Panguitch, UT 84759

Donations for the families are being accepted by the Wildland Firefighters Foundation.

Wildland Firefighter Foundation

For more information:
Jan Passek 435-772-0188
David Eaker 435-772-7811

3/18 I've updated the Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist). Ab.
3/18 Ab, thanks for this website. It's like coming home when I've been away and don't have a chance to read on a daily basis.

Old business: Nerd and Fedfire, I probably mis-interpreted Nerd's post. The current "decision space" is not as simple as might be expected. I think my medical and business analogies still hold.

Old, Old Business: I was cleaning out my files and came across this briefing paper from last June. It is still pertinent. This next season if we are time constrained between attending to our people and verifying that we did so by filling out checklists, we must attend to our people.

New Business:
Changing Times, I also bought the insurance.
SRJS, I think that ALL our managers at all levels including ICT4s and various supts, capts, should get the price break on insurance.

NorCal Tom

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

USDA Forest Service
National Fire Operations Safety
Information Briefing Paper
Date: June 1, 2004

Topic: Agency Mission, Intent Expressed in Policy, Public and Management Expectations, and the Reality of Fire Suppression Management on the Ground.

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

Key Points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The DIAGRAM of relationships that follows this idea. Ab.

3/18 Hi to all:

A recent post of mine referred to factual information about our bill and that if you don't hear it from me, it may not be factual. "ME" means the FWFSA and its leadership, members of the Board of Directors etc.

The members of FWFSA should also have a clear understanding of our legislative intent. The intent of my post was to simply suggest to be wary of information from the Agency or other sources that may not have a clear understanding of what we are trying to do.

I apologize for any confusion.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

I don't know if you have seen this?

Inquiry on Fire Begins (Pawnee National Grassland area)

Jim R

3/18 Hey R2 Localyokel,

I was reading your past posts on getting a Fed job and was wondering about your experience. You said earlier that you had the quals and experience to be an AFMO, now you are talking about taking a seasonal STEP position. What's the deal? Why would you go that far backwards? From your previous post you said you had the quals to get an AFMO job, what are those quals and how did you get them? It's not an easy transition from the county to the fed side of things. I have seen several individuals in R2 who work for the city or county and claim to be minor fire gods, but I just can't figure how they got far with so few responses. I also know first hand that several county FDs sign folks off on a single training assignment. Remember the Cramer incident was staffed with an AFMO as IC. I hope you truly have the experience to match the quals. R2 isn't a very large fire prone area when compared to the rest of the country. It might be best to work your way up.


dv, your concern is a good one, but my take on it is that Former R2LY is exploring all possibilities. You have to start gathering all the info somewhere when you consider making changes. I met him at a R5 major rager in 1999. Ab.

Received this news release today, NW snow pack is at record lows.
any rain we get now will just help the grass grow and melt the snow
And There I Was

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

Idaho Snowpacks Reaching Record Lows

(Boise, ID)—Water users in northern and central Idaho are facing record low snowpacks, according to the Idaho Water Supply Outlook Report issued this week by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Many snowpacks in northern Idaho are measuring less than 50 percent of average while snowpacks in central Idaho range from 50-65 percent. Southern and eastern Idaho range from 70-85 percent.

“Due to well below average February precipitation, Idaho’s water supply outlook has deteriorated even more,” says Ron Abramovich, NRCS water supply specialist. “Barring a record snowfall in March or an unusually wet spring, drought conditions will continue in Idaho.”

With only one more month left of winter, snowpacks range from 48 percent of average in northern Idaho to average in the Bear River Basin. Most snowpacks across Idaho hold only 50-75 percent of the snow water equivalent they contained at this time last year.

February represents the fourth straight month of below average precipitation for most of Idaho. The Panhandle, Clearwater, Salmon, Weiser, Payette, Boise, Wood and Lost River basins all received 20-26 percent of average precipitation in February. Water year to date precipitation amounts range from a low of 54 percent in the Weiser, Payette and Boise basins to 105 percent in the Bear River Basin.

Streamflow forecasts decreased another 15 percent last month and now range from 35-65 percent of average for most of the state. Due to deteriorating conditions, NRCS will update statewide streamflow forecasts again in mid-March and the information will be available on the Idaho NRCS website.

3/17 Hi Ab,

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation wants to publicly thank Albertson's for
their very generous donation of meat and cheese trays and flower
centerpieces for John Greeno's memorial service to take place Friday, March
18 at 2:00 p.m. in Sonora, California.

They were more than willing to do whatever they could to help with this, and
we can't thank them enough. All it took was a phone call.

We send our thoughts out to John, Charles, and Jose's families.

Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way
Boise ID 83705
(208) 336-2996
3/17 Ab,

The 2005 Summer Fire School and Midwest Wildfire Training Academy
information is now available on-line from our website. Just go to...


3/17 In response to a request from "R2 localyokel no more" who asked for more
info on the student hire program with the USFS. You can find more info at:


I asked a student here. The program we have a few students in here is
called the STEP program. The above website describes this and other
programs. To my surprise several email addresses are listed (one for each
program). Not all students in the STEP program end up as USFS employees,
partly because they choose other fields than those used by the USFS. Don't
assume all the jobs go to minorities. Surprisingly, sometimes they have a
hard time finding students willing to work.

It sounds like R2localyokelnomore is on the right track! Just hang in
there. Mobility is often a significant issue in promotions. I'd be 1 or 2
grades lower had I not moved twice. I was fortunate my kids were grown,
almost; I left my son to complete his senior year by himself. I moved more
than 15 times as a kid so I rarely saw the downside, and enjoyed the cross
country trips during the school year! I know many folks out there are
simply not mobile, but you trade a lack of mobility for the local community
life one establishes over many years. Its a life style choice and
non-mobility can be ok if you accept the results. But if you can get that
first move or two in with promotions, that helps markedly now and in
retirement both.

I look at it this way. Someone will usually be selected (and yes, I've
been ticked when no one was and I was on the list). Put your name in 30
hats and it may come out of one of them. The long application forms are a
pain, but then just remember; perhaps the five best qualified folks won't
apply because who wants to send in 30 applications.

Z ecologist
3/17 An Old Fire Gal,

I'm glad you brought up performance evaluations. It gives me a chance to stand on my favorite soapbox. It's relative easy for me to give an honest evaluation of a crew performance when the failure to perform is so blatant that it affects the mission. On the other hand the safety failures and production issues of any resource on the fire line that either goes unseen or if noticed is corrected right when you arrive at that portion of the line are much harder to capture on the evaluation. Evaluations of contractors and other firefighter resources has always, in my opinion, been one of the hardest tasks to complete when you are only getting snapshots of their work ethic or production outputs.

The rating form...the daily changing of resources between Divisions... and the magnitude of tasks assigned to DIVS and TFL seem to conspire against our line managers causing even the best of them to drop the ball of performance in favor making bag on controlling the fire. Way back... when I was a DIVS, I tried very hard to meet the Agency and team standard on performance evaluations. Later as an OSC I tried to make sure all performance evaluations were being completed. I say I tried because I never felt that I complied with or obtained a very high compliance rate with regards to producing meaningful evaluations. Now as an IC I set the expectation that all resources will have a performance based evaluation prior to leaving the fire. My success is better but as I read through the evaluations they don't seem to always match the side conversations overheard in the dinner line and briefings or for that matter conversations about the fire during the off season.

To me there needs to be a better way to produce the desired results of performance based evaluations. As a result of OSHA findings.. close calls ... fatalities and to make sure good resources are receiving good evaluations.... and bad resources are receiving the constructive evaluations they deserve, we need to be doing a better job of evaluating the fire mission and how the human resources are working to achieve the missions goals and objectives... And without turning the DIVS and TFL into a babysitter dealing with performance issues on crews that should have never made it to the fire in the first place. We all want a highly skilled and experienced workforce but without having a good evaluation system, workable at the fire ground level, the same people are making the same mistakes until finally the mistake results in injury or causes a failure in the mission as outlined in the IAP.

Much of the problem is with span of control. I pulled out several old shift plans and found Divisions with up to 10 contract crews, 9 contract engines, 6 agency engines, two shot crews, 5 water tenders, 4 dozers, 3 sets of fallers, a gaggle of Canadians, 8 miles of fire line and one TFL. In a situation like this It's darn near impossible to have the contact necessary with the resources to observe and document a meaningful evaluation of each resource in each performance area. When things get to burning in the west, there isn't enough overhead resources available to address these span of control issues during the first two or three shifts of a major rager. Even then there seems to be an agency level reluctance to staff at the optimum levels necessary to achieve the supervisory oversight needed.

The answer? I'm sure like everything else the answer is multi-faceted and will depend on the fire line supervisors ability to multi-task... prioritize and do more with less. (is this whining, cynical or just fact?)

On a fire in 2003 I used supplemental Safety Officers ( for some reason it was easier to get safety officers than TFLs during 2003) to help conduct Division safety evaluations during the shift. I gave them very specific items to evaluate (mainly LCES questions). This worked well. The DIVS and TFL were engaged in this decision and both were provided observed documentation notes by the Safety Officer to assist them in developing the performance evaluations of assigned resources. More good observations were made by the Safety Officers than bad observations... which reduced my intake of Antacid for the remainder of the shift.

To end on a positive note I have been on fires where the span of control and other driving forces have aligned and produced a perfect world... Short shower lines, crisp bacon for breakfast, grilled Halibut for dinner, water tenders that arrived at designated job sites and on time, Shot crews weren't assigned mop-up duties, nearest WUI was a days drive from the fire and everyone walked around camp with a smile on their face and a pocket full of money.

3/17 Structure Fire in Kansas:


Hope this works...a picture is worth a 1000 words...


haw, haw, haw

3/17 FirenWater & "Z ecologist" –

Thank you for your insight. I have been keeping a close eye on USAJobs and have found some possibilities.

"Z ecologist" –

I appreciate the well thought out response. I would like to add a few points to yours, so I have paraphrased below.

For other readers - "Z ecologist’s” comments are in indented.

>"paying your dues”

I made some assumptions here. I fully agree that internal applicants who are fully qualified for a position should be considered over external applicants. It seems to me, though, that a hiring process should not be limited to internal folks, unless the hiring committee knows of individuals they would like to target for a position. Why spend all of the time and energy going through a stack of internal apps just to find you don’t have anyone who meets the minimums? Maybe I should put down the pipe, so to speak, and realize I am entering (hopefully) the realm of the federal government, read: bureaucracy and get over it.

That is, the agency looks for folks who have dealt with the bureaucracy of being a federal employee supervisor. It IS different… It boils down to this; the agencies perceive themselves as being in a unique position, and to some extent, they are.

Great point. I know the fed system, but from the outside. More on this below…

1) get the education. The more the better. An MS is better than a BA or BS. A Ph. D. is better. Someone with at least a 2 or 4 year degree has much better chances than a high school drop out. Even training counts heavily with federal agencies.

Copy. I have a BA in biology, a secondary school teaching cert, my EMT-B, and numerous wildland and structure quals. Looking into a fire science degree and maybe a MS in Fire Ecology – I hear CSU has a great program (Thanks, Paul! We miss you.)

2) seek out a federal student program.

Know nothing about this. Anyone know where I can find info on the web?

3) be patient and persistent.

Copy. Persistent is no problem, patience I will have to work on…

4) make contacts. People in any business are more likely to hire someone they know. If you can afford it, volunteer for your agency or local fire department. Make yourself known.

I believe I have a pretty good rep locally, and somewhat statewide, but I hear ya’. I worked for a local F.D. until recently, and know the local players. Believe me when I say I have been “banging doors.”

5) take a temporary or term position. If you become a temp employee, you'll go a long way towards being known in the agency. You'll get some training, most likely, making you a better candidate for your next job.

Came to this realization last night. I could move once, but twice would be hard (a kiddo in the house and a girlfriend who needs a job, too…).

6) be willing to move.

See above.

7) be patient and persistent. I can't say that enough. Don't be discouraged because you can't get the first position you apply for. Few people do.

Thanks, again. I needed the reality check!

Sorry about the long post, Abs. Thank you’se all for your hard work and dedication.

R2 localyokel no more

3/17 Old Fire Guy, I'm sure you didn't mean this per se, but the Dude Fire apparently did not have any violations that caused the 6 deaths. (Dude Fire, June 25, 1990, Tonto National Forest, North of Payson AZ, remember Paul Gleason was there and the experience led him to simplify the 10 fire orders into LCES.)

From my notes (from the R5 Chief Officers mtg. which are not infallible, especially on spelling names):

The Dude Fire investigation was not the best.

Michael Johns (the DOJ lawyer) said that following the investigation which showed causal violation of the 10, Ted Putnam and Dick Mangan demonstrated how fires should be investigated. In the process they refuted every finding that one of the Ten Standard Orders had been violated -- or if it was, it didn't cause death. Donald Haynes (whoever he is) said it was a microburst. The Dude Fire Report was flawed. Those who were blamed shouldn't have been. (I don't know who was blamed... Does anyone know more?)

I googled it:

Dude Fire Staff Ride Fire Management Today by Marty Alexander (pdf)
article on weather and fire behavior factors (pdf)
personal account of a resident The Dry Season part 1 The Dry Season part 2
Paul Gleason

3/17 The Ten Standard Orders have been around for probably all of our career
(most of us).

Recent fire investigation reports refer to "how many of the Ten were

What incident had a burnover fatality, with the least number of the Ten
being violated?

I really don't know.

Old Fire Guy
3/17 As per:

71.05 - Definitions. (5 U.S.C. ch. 59, subch. IV)

Eligible Employees. Employees eligible for the partial
reimbursement of the professional liability insurance costs in
the Forest Service:

This does not cover all employees who may fall into the role as an ICT4 or Single Resource boss such as my self and a ton of other folks. I am looking at getting this coverage myself but it is a shame that it does not cover the lesser grade folks that are put into roles and are required to be IC in their job description in the 5109.17, but their grade and job title does not have supervisor or manager after and do not qualify for the 50% reimbursement.


3/17 "R2 localyokel no more" asked about federal positions.

Specifically, he was concerned about positions open only to current federal employees. He said "I don't mind paying my dues, and I have, but why should it matter where I paid them" Can anyone give me insight into these hiring policies? Are there ways to work the system?"

I don't claim to be an expert, but here's my 2 cents worth.

First, as for "paying your dues", I used to be quite disappointed as "R2" was seeing positions advertised that I could not be considered for. Having been a federal employee 13 years and non-federal 20++ years before that, I can see both sides. I don't agree with both sides, but here's what I see. This is general, and includes more than fire positions. When a position needs to be filled, the unit with the position will usually put out an outreach notice. This notice helps them to decide if they are going to announce a position internal-only or external as well. If 50 or more people internally respond to the outreach, odds are pretty slim it will be advertised externally. I know of one position that had 80 applicants recently; another had three. Just depends on the position, location, qualifications, etc. Having talked with personnel folks, they are reluctant to sort through hundreds of applications, BUT are required to do so if anyone applies. And I would add that if 50 agency people apply, the odds of a well qualified external applicant landing the position are probably minimal if it was advertised externally. The agencies I've worked with tend to hire from within if possible. I saw one position that had 5 applicants, 3 fairly well qualified, all external to the agency. The "deciding officer" wanted an internal applicant, so they did not fill the position and readvertised.

I feel like I've "paid my dues" as well, yet with 14 years in the agency, the fact I've run my own business and hired / fired employees doesn't seem to give me "supervisory experience". That is, the agency looks for folks who have dealt with the bureaucracy of being a federal employee supervisor. It IS different. When I was on my own, I could fire someone when needed. Its not that simple in the agencies. It boils down to this; the agencies perceive themselves as being in a unique position, and to some extent, they are.

How do you work the system? Some people get lucky. Others create their own luck. I'd suggest you (and any others) work harder on the latter and you may find the former come your way as well. For myself, I decided to get a MS degree "for the fun of it". That created "luck" led me into the agency when an agency person needed my specialty and looked me up. Here's my suggestions you can use to create your own luck.

1) get the education. The more the better. An MS is better than a BA or BS. A Ph. D. is better. Someone with at least a 2 or 4 year degree has much better chances than a high school drop out. Even training counts heavily with federal agencies.

2) seek out a federal student program. Don't assume they are "only for minorities". I was hired under a "workforce diversity" program, but they knew me as a white male (despite some native american blood). IF you can lock into a student program, and work for an agency while in school, you have almost made yourself an employee of the agency. They tend to hire externally from the student pool first.

done with school? Keep reading...

3) be patient and persistent. One refuge I visited years ago told me "all our employees are veterans". I could have taken that as a "we don't hire non-vets" attitude. But I'm a non-vet, and eventually landed a federal job. When a vacancy occurs it often takes months or more than a year to fill. Another local position here went vacant in Jan. 2004. The new person will be on board next Monday. "The wheels of the gods grind slowly". It took two years from my first contact with my agency's local folks until I had a full time permanent position. One USFS Forest Supervisor told me recently that she had applied to 65 positions at one point in her career before landing a new slot, and that was a lateral move and not a promotion. I applied to 35 positions before my last move and have already put in 4 applications for the next one.

4) make contacts. People in any business are more likely to hire someone they know. If you can afford it, volunteer for your agency or local fire department. Make yourself known.

5) take a temporary or term position. If you become a temp employee, you'll go a long way towards being known in the agency. You'll get some training, most likely, making you a better candidate for your next job.

6) be willing to move. I was told I could get a promotion in 5-10 years after being on board a couple years. Instead of waiting, I moved 4 months later and had the promotion immediately. The same goes for new hires. If you're only looking at one location, your options are very limited. The first government office I worked in had not had a new employee in 14 years. The office near you is VERY unlikely to hire you simply because they have few openings. Two places to consider are Alaska and the DOE/USFS Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. Many people don't want to go to Alaska. Many don't know about the SRS. If you only think local or western US you're limiting your options. The USFS at SRS has a strong prescribed fire program (as does most of the SE) and occasionally hires externally. They have been known to scrounge for employees because they are simply not that well known and fewer people apply.

7) be patient and persistent. I can't say that enough. I've never won the lottery. But I have only bought 1-2 tickets. You can't win the lottery without buying a ticket. The same goes for federal employment. Don't be discouraged because you can't get the first position you apply for. Few people do.

"Z ecologist"
3/17 Old Fire Gal

Thank you for putting things into perspective for all the readers on this website. I worked on the fed. side of fire for 8 yrs. I had my doubts about moving over to the Contract side of the industry. But I am glad I did. I have received far more formal training from instructors from the NWSA. Like you stated "Respected retired folks". I also have seen more fire than I ever did with the Government. For the simple fact that Fire and fuels is all we do, and it is getting to be year round. I am a Crew boss for a National I.A. Crew here in the North West. I feel, and my performance ratings have proven this, that my Crew has far more training and experience than most crews. Be it State or Agency. Our performance ratings, fire experience and working safely is what guarantees we will be working every year. This is our lively hood and we take it seriously. Yes there are bad contract crews out there, and I cringe every time I work with them. But the same goes for State and Agency Crews. Like Old Fire Gal stated. Get the Evals. done and turned in. Follow up on them if you feel the Crew is a risk. This is the only way the not so reputable crews will be weeded out. Don't wait till there is an injury or death. Same goes for the State or Agency crews.

I love evals. My Crew has something to prove on every fire we go on. Just because we are a contract Crew. Sometimes I feel like by just showing up we already have a bad check mark next to our name, just because we are a contract Crew. But by the time we leave the fire we have worked hard and safely and left everyone with a good impression. We do not get paid unless we are on fires. Not like some State and Agency folks who go home and get a guaranteed pay check. So sitting around and not accomplishing objectives on a fire is not very beneficial for us. We want to make sure we get to stay till the end. Be it burning out, holding line, moping up, rehab., building fences Etc. We will do it all and happily do it. Can you say that about most the State or Agency crews you have worked for or had work for you?

Try to do a little more research on the Contract industry and find out about the crews or Companies in your area that you will be working with. Some of this negativity and threat about contract crews is stemmed from hear say, not understanding the contract industry and feeling threatened. Our folks training records and assignment histories are checked regularly by the Government and are in order. And from my knowledge, are far more detailed and in order than most Fed and State agencies. If you noticed I did not try to lump the not so good State and Fed crews into one category. Try not to put all of the Contract industry into one pot either.

On another note I look forward to seeing all of you here in the North West this summer. It is dry dry dry!!! Had some snow in the Cascades last night. Just enough to make the public feel a little better. But it was not enough to make a difference.

National I.A. Crew, WA.

3/17 Thanks REFE, you're right. Ab, could you change that? Mellie

I put in a ? Ab.
3/17 First and foremost, thank you for the many prompt responses I have received regarding my recent request for ICT3 info. It is greatly appreciated and will help in our overall political efforts.

As those of you at the recent R5 Chief Officer's meeting in Reno may remember, Mr. Ron Borda offered his unique insight as to our portal to portal legislation (HR 408) suggesting that he had "called back east" and knew who the bill would affect, when hearings would be, what the House would do and what the Senate would do.

Weeeell, still wondering who he spoke with. It certainly wasn't the author's office (Rep. Richard Pombo) it certainly wasn't the federal wildland firefighters and their favorite business manager who actually put the language together, and it certainly wasn't the committee of jurisdiction who has the bill. When I met with the committee this week, I got "Ron who?" from them. Perhaps he got his info from the Forest Service's legislative affairs office who apparently also doesn't know the facts.

Therefore, to make it simple may I offer the following on HR 408: If you don't hear it from me in person or in writing regarding any fact or information on the bill, then don't trust it. The latest spin is that there is no additional money to pay for it. Frankly, the current budget can handle it quite well. It simply requires the FS to redirect suppression money to you rather than contractors and cooperators...with all due respect to those groups of course.

There is plenty of money. Maybe the Agency claims it doesn't have the money to properly pay federal wildland firefighter compensation because they're using suppression money to pay for the logistical move of HR to New Mexico. You can take it to the bank that utilization of suppression money for this purpose has drawn the ire of a number of folks on Capitol Hill. More to follow...

With Great Respect,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/17 Mellie,

The reference in your message on 2/16, "On state ground with fed firefighters on duty. (Example of this type of fire = Tuolumne Fire)".  The Tuolumne Fire was a Forest Service fire, on Forest Service land, with a Forest Service I.C.  The burnover involved State firefighters. However, I believe your observations about OIG not being involved are correct. "If a fatality occurs on any of the following kinds of fires with the particular configurations of involvement... the OIG will not be involved. These are outside the scope of the law (Public Law 107-203):"

Just trying to keep the record straight!

3/17 An Old Fire Gal - nice, well thought out write-up. Good perceptions (at least, ones that I agree with) and well stated, ideas that many of us can relate to.

I only question one of your statements, where you address the folks shown as NWSA Certified Instructors: while many if not most, as you say, are highly experienced in their fields, they may not meet the requirements of 310-1 for currency in their positions. It requires that a person serve in their "red-carded" position at least once every 5 years (3 years in Air jobs): do these folks all meet those criteria?

For the record, I am a member of NWSA, and work on the "contractor" side of the street. Just want to be sure that everyone is being held to meet the same set of rules.

3/17 Liability Insurance

Before folks start running out and buying Professional Liability Insurance and expecting the feds to split the price, make sure you check your status for eligibility. The only sure fire way Forest Service employees can ensure reimbursement is to make sure that NFC codes your supervisory status as a 2, 4, or 5.

In any case, even if the agency doesn’t offer you reimbursement, any IC, Burn Boss, Prescribed Fire Manager, or Fire Use Manager would be foolish to not have a Personal Liability Premium in the current climate.


71.05 - Definitions. (5 U.S.C. ch. 59, subch. IV)

Eligible Employees. Employees eligible for the partial
reimbursement of the professional liability insurance costs in
the Forest Service:

a. Law enforcement employees as defined in 5 U.S.C. 8331 (20) and 8401 (17). These are employees in positions covered by law enforcement retirement identified by early retirement code 1 or 2 in the USDA National Finance Center position management system online, screen QM.

b. Supervisors and managers as defined in 5 U.S.C.
7103(a). These employees are identified by supervisory codes 2, 4, or 5 in the USDA National Finance Center information research inquiry system, screen 102.

TITLE 5 > PART III > Subpart F > CHAPTER 71 > SUBCHAPTER I > § 7103
§ 7103. Definitions; application
--(a) For the purpose of this chapter—
(10) “supervisor” means an individual employed by an agency having authority in the interest of the agency to hire, direct, assign, promote, reward, transfer, furlough, layoff, recall, suspend, discipline, or remove employees, to adjust their grievances, or to effectively recommend such action, if the exercise of the authority is not merely routine or clerical in nature but requires the consistent exercise of independent judgment, except that, with respect to any unit which includes firefighters or nurses, the term “supervisor” includes only those individuals who devote a preponderance of their employment time to exercising such authority;
(11) “management official” means an individual employed by an agency in a position the duties and responsibilities of which require or authorize the individual to formulate, determine, or influence the policies of the agency;

3/16 Hi to all:

I'm in DC this week and have been asked by a number of congressional offices about the potential impact the criminal complaint stemming from Cramer might have on those eligible/qualified for ICT3 assignments. I've had some feedback that some have retired early and others would refuse such assignments given the potential liability. If anyone has any hard evidence on the potential negative impact, please let me know ASAP at FWFSAlobby@aol.com. Thanks

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/16 I just found this site and want to say all who knew Charles Edgar
on the Sabine NF are missing him. He worked for the Forest Service
for more than 20 years
. He loved his job. He was good to work with.

To those who came out to our piney woods on the space shuttle
recovery, thanks. We lost another one of our own (Charles Krenek)
in a helicopter crash about this time of year in 2003 working on
that mission. It's hard to loose friends.

My condolences to friends and family of John Greeno and Jose

Hemphill TX

Sorry for your loss. Ab.

3/16 washington state


my folks live on the west side of the mtns and have told me it is so dry there..
ive been told that there will be no fire protection at our land near minnral lake,
near morton... is dnr staffing any engines up that way.. my folks like to camp
at our land most the summer... i want to make sure they will be safe.......
hey eric how goes it

steve, ncbrush6

3/16 Ab and Elton Thomas,

There's also this pdf file on Fire Orders as Rules of Engagement
from some time back. I found a link to it on the Docs Worth
Reading page.

The Fire Orders as guidelines or as rules are useful only insofar
as you have the experience with fire behavior to know what they
mean. Read the fire orders as an outsider or a person
inexperienced in fire. They're vague. It's no wonder all those
acronym lawyers and anyone else can find violations in any
given instance.

We need to get back to basics, imparting that knowledge and
experience to our new folks. My time these days is not taken
up with training or with fuels work, it's nonstop hiring protocol.
Hoops don't begin to describe it, JG, Inquiring minds, and
Holding My Breath. Pretty soon we're going to be like
the reservation. It will take 8 months to hire a GS4
ff position. More and more I'm wondering if a stand-alone
non-FS fire org is the way to go.

Tahoe Terrie

3/16 LookOut, re state and local cooperators and the legal stuff -

Here's what I have in my notes from when the DOJ lawyer Michael Johns spoke at the Chief Officers Meeting 3/3/05.

If a fatality occurs on any of the following kinds of fires with the particular configurations of involvement... the OIG will not be involved. These are outside the scope of the law (Public Law 107-203):

On state ground with fed firefighters on duty. (Example of this type of fire = ? Fire)
On a fed fire but everyone involved is state. (Example of this type of fire = Waterfall Fire)
On a state fire with an engine, helo, hotshot or other module. (I think this would be like the Rumsey Fire -CDF in charge.)
Death of a fed firefighter on non-fed ground or on a non-fed incident.

OIG should not be involved on a state incident even if a fed firefighter dies. (He said to check with OGC on this one.)

On your question about redacted names:

As I understand it, OGC specified the redactions in the FS Cramer Report, the investigative team had nothing to do with that. Later FAM and/or the Investigative Team got permission for a less redacted version so we could have some kind of lessons learned.

My opinion/ speculation: OGC presumably did redactions to "protect" those involved, as in "you're innocent until proven guilty". They also could have done it so there would be no grounds for a tainted jury pool or some other legal consideration if it went to trial.

If criminal proceedings may be a more routine reality, names may need to be redacted to protect the innocent.


PS. Here's a good WATCHOUT that came up in talking with a FBAN friend yesterday.
If you're on a fire and you're inclined to go for your camera to take a picture, it could be a good cue that fire behavior is changing and you maybe should get out'o there. On fatality fires (except for Cramer), look at who took pics when.

(OGC - Office of General Council, legal beagles of the FS or USDA) Ab.

3/16 Ab-

Do you have any info regarding the 2005 GS pay scale for the DOI? Any web links would be helpful.


3/16 I'm seeking an online version of the S-290 Student Workbook.

Anyone have one or can you direct me to an online source?

John Bennett
3/16 R2 local...

You can apply to fed jobs. Go to the usajobs.opm.gov site. Click on biological sciences (yes, it's true. OPM does not recognize firefighting as a profession....but then again, neither do the federal agencies). Do not check any of the statements below that, then further refine your search by putting in the word "fire" in the space provided. This should bring up a bunch of fire jobs that are available to the public. Hope you can follow this.

Although it is not common for most places to hire for a management position from the outside, it is not impossible. The applicants have become fewer and fewer for a variety of reasons (which have provided very active discussion topics on this forum). I'd say go for it.

3/16 On the lighter side...
Read today's "Get Fuzzy" comic strip. Great Situational Awareness demonstration.


3/16 The Arizona State Lands, Forestry Division is recruiting 6 full time resource managers.  Pay starts at over $34,000 p/year with full State benefits.  Various locations available.  See the full ad here on the Jobs Page. Ab.
3/16 Ab,

We need some RELIEF on the hiring process in R5. We are not able to
get any fuels work done. Everyone is jumping through hoop after hoop
of new and added on rules.


3/16 Laws and Investigations:

As I understand it, the "outside investigation" was mandated by law (as introduced by Washington's Senator Cantwell and Rep Hastings) after "Thirtymile": they specify that only fire burnover fatalities of US Forest Service personnel will be investigated by the US Department of Ag Office of Inspector General.

So all you BLM, BIA, F&WS and NPS feds don't have to worry!

When the USDA OIG is done, they turn their results over to the political appointees at the US Department of Justice, who are always ready to carve another notch in their resume tree! And showing how bad a Federal employee performs is good business, right?

But the can of worms is now open, and if you think that those slippery, slimy barristers will stop crawling out of their can with just USFS folks........ I still have that ocean-front property in Arizona for sale, just for you!


Here's more on today's American Gov lesson:
OIG... the entity that investigated Cramer and recommended charges be pursued by DOJ. (Cramer was a bit more lively and out of their depth than fraud or waste - and now they want to go to fires. You can see why Congress might be worried about the Pandora's box it opened, all with good intentions.)

There are 57 statutory OIGs (Office of Inspectors General) that exist throughout the federal government, each as an independent entity within the agency it oversees. The office was created by act of Congress in 1978 to

  • Detect fraud or instances of waste, abuse or misuse of the particular department's funds
  • Identify operational deficiencies within the particular department
  • Ensure the underlying problems that permit such failings are rectified
  • Offer recommendations for preventing problems in the future

The USDA OIG  www.usda.gov/oig/about.php


3/16 Oliver, what did they say???
3/16 Ab,

Here is a link to article about John's arrival home to Tuolumne County.

God Speed, Greeno.

3/16 I am looking for some insight and know that I can find some here. I have recently resigned from my position at a county FD. I believe I have good quals and experience equivalent to an AFMO level in the fed world. As I search through WildandFire.com’s “Job Page” (thanks, Abs!), USAJobs, and other various federal employment sites, I keep running into various forms of “If you ain’t already a fed, don’t bother,” or “Even though you may have equivalencies regarding KSA’s and experience, you have to start back at the bottom.” I don’t mind paying my dues, and I have, but why should it matter where I paid them? Can anyone give me insight into these hiring policies? Are there ways to work the system? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

R2 localyokel no more

dear ab...i'd be interested in any comments on this paper.../s/ g. elton thomas

Rules of Engagement vs. 10 Standard Orders
By G. Elton Thomas

There is still significant confusion and concern within the firefighter rank and file regarding the intent and function of the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders. This confusion has been reinforced by accident investigation findings that point out the connection between the end result (fatality, serious injuries, etc) and breaking of the Orders. This situation further causes initial attack firefighters to question themselves and their actions which can lead to delay and/or uncertainty with significant safety overtones.

Recent administrative and judicial actions are causing firefighters to question themselves and their actions as they pursue this challenging work in a dynamic setting both in environmental and human terms.

The 10 Standard Fire Fighting Orders were developed in 1957 (Appendix 1). The revised S-130 course (Appendix 2) has incorporated yet another version of the Orders and differs significantly from the acrostic listing (FIRE ORDERS). The Spirit of the 10 Standard Fire Fighting Orders can be summed up in five items:

  1. Size-up the fire, evaluate environmental and human factors
  2. Develop a plan of attack
  3. Brief this plan with all involved personnel
  4. Implement the plan, ensuring lookouts, communications, escape routes, and safety zones (LCES) are in place
  5. Continual review and monitor, adjust plan as appropriate

Consider changing the orders from a linear list to a circle (Table 1) noting the above items as Rules of Engagement.

Reducing the number and incorporating the Rules of Engagement into a well-recognized and easily understood format will lessen the chance for error and omission, thus increasing overall safety and situational awareness. These Rules of Engagement can be applied to all fires, whereas the 10 Standard Orders are often disregarded on low complexity fires.

Subsequent reviews can easily evaluate actions on the quality of the size up, the attack plan and its briefing, implementation, and monitoring.

These Rules of Engagement contain the 10 Standard Fire Fighting Orders and are more easily understood and applied on all fires, especially during initial and extended attack.

   Rules of Engagement                          10 Standard Firefighting Orders
1. Size Up Fire, evaluate environmental         1. Keep informed on fire weather 
   and human factors                               conditions and forecasts.
                                                2. Know what your fire is doing 
                                                   at all times.
2. Develop plan of attack                       3. Base all actions on current and 
                                                   expected behavior of the fire.
                                                6. Be alert. Keep calm. Think 
                                                   clearly. Act decisively.
3. Brief plan with all involved personnel       8. Give clear instructions and 
                                                   insure they are understood.
4. Implement plan, ensuring LCES are in         4. Identify escape routes and
   place                                           safety zones, and make them known.
	                                        5. Post lookouts when there is 
	                                           possible danger.
	                                        7. Maintain prompt communication with 
	                                           your forces, your supervisor and 
	                                           adjoining forces.
	                                        9. Maintain control of your forces 
	                                           at all times.
5. Continually monitor and adjust plan         10. Fight fire aggressively,
   as appropriate                                  having provided for safety first.
3/16 just got back from the hills outside Wenatchee. Looks bone dry. The
entire Chelan valley during our drive looked like it did in June of
last year. (right before Pott Peak) My parents lawn is already dry
as a bone, and needs to be watered weekly. Also King County declared
a "Drought Emergency" who knows what this means - seems way to early
for fuel moisture to be that low.
be safe.
3/16 Dear Ab,

I have been reading this website for a little over a year and I have found the discussions to be informative, challenging and educational.

However, as I have read these discussions I have seen periodic disparaging remarks made about contractors that I believe are unnecessary. Specifically these comments have been made in regards to profits, safety, training and performance. I would like to take the opportunity to provide some perspective in relation to those 4 areas.

First, I will preface my comments with the fact that I am not a contractor. I have been involved with wild land fire fighting for 25 years in a variety of capacities and I have had the opportunity to work with fire fighters from a variety of entities (Contract, AD, EERA, Volunteer, Agency, Structural, Etc.)

Anyone who has ever been involved with a business (I.e. contracting) understands that if the business doesn't make a profit that business is soon out-of-business. The government, on the other hand, is not required to make a profit in order to stay in business. Yes, there is an expectation that the funds will be managed wisely but even if they aren't managed wisely the government does not go out of business.

"Contractors" can be anyone (plumbers, electricians, farmers, roofers, fire fighters). They are people who have identified a need ( homes need plumbing, electricity, roofs; people need food; and fires need to be fought), determined that they can meet that need and have turned that need into a business opportunity (contract).

Anyone who has been in business knows that the "good years" ("profitable") have to carry you through the "bad years" ("unprofitable"). The government, however, continues to function regardless of the kind of year that occurs.

Some business owners are very astute managers of their assets and make a profit. Others are not very astute managers and either barely get by or go under. Just as some "agency" employees are astute managers of their personal finances and do quite well investing in the stock market others are not so astute and either barely get by or lose money. Some prefer to hire (contract) someone else to manage our money. Those who are involved with the stock market know that the "good years" (profitable) average out with the "bad years" (unprofitable). So it is with contracting ("owning a business").

I suppose it could be debated "how much" is a reasonable profit but that kind of a debate would only come from a person who does not understand that profit is money earned above and beyond the normal day to day income needed to conduct business. Some would call profit "overtime". Is there any agency employee who does not like earning overtime? Overtime (profit) provides the means to accomplish goals over and above what can be accomplished with a normal income. Goals such as replacing aging vehicles, putting more money into the children's college fund, taking a nicer vacation, upgrading the appliances, upgrading the home electronics, replacing the roof on the house and purchasing a long-desired toy. Should not contractors and their employees be allowed the same opportunities as agency employees?

It is amazingly naive to expect a contractor (business owner) to provide a service and not make a profit. That's what being in business is all about. Contractors have business needs that must be met with the money they earn. They have equipment to maintain and/or replace; fuel to purchase; wages, taxes and insurance to pay; training to provide; materials and supplies to purchase and more. On top of that they have a family to feed, clothe, shelter and educate. They have employees with the same needs and desires for their families. Regardless of the outcome of fire season agency employees know the minimum amount of money they will take home every month. Contractors don't have that luxury. It may be a nice paycheck or it may be zero.

To intimate that contractors are not as concerned about the safety of their employees as the agencies are about theirs is ludicrous. Contractors have to follow the same safety rules as the agencies (Fed/State OSHA). Most contractors have employees who have been with them for many years and are very loyal to the company and the company is very loyal to them. A fatality or serious injury could be financially disastrous not only to the company but to their employees too.

Contractor's (I'm referring to the Interagency Regional Agreement only) have to meet the same training and instructor standards (PMS 310-1) as all of the federal agencies (except the USFS) and many state agencies. Have you looked at the NWSA website lately and seen who they have listed as their certified instructors? Some of their instructors (contractors) are retired federal employees who are highly respected and considered experts in their fields of expertise.

Some have insinuated that all contractors are "poor performers". Again, I find this to be a very unnecessary statement. After 25 years I have seen contractors that have ranged from very poor to excellent. I have had contract crews who could out-perform many IH crews. I have worked with IH crews who were not worth the stump they were sitting on and that's usually where I found them. The point is there are contractors who are poor and there are those who are top notch. There are agency employees who are poor and there are those who are top notch. Let's not put all contractors into the same mold any more than all agency employees would want to be put into the same mold.

The correct way to deal with poor performance (regardless of affiliation) is to have the "intestinal fortitude" (guts) to give then an honest and fair evaluation and then to release them from the assignment. That will get a lot of people's attention. Unfortunately I hear a lot of griping but I don't see much action. There are contractors who have been terminated from the contract agreement list because of poor performance but it takes an evaluation, and maybe a follow-up phone call to the Contracting Officer, to make that happen. Fire line supervisors have a responsibility and an obligation to ensure this happens. If contractors are being held responsible for their poor performance I wonder if agency employees are held responsible when they have been sent home from an incident for poor performance? We all need to hold the poor performers accountable regardless of "who" their employer may be. Reputable contractors are professionals and they want to see poor performers released from an incident and held accountable just as reputable agency employees want to see poor performers released from an incident and held accountable.

How many of you know the history of the fire fighting contracts? For many years the Industrial Timber Land Owners used contractors to do most of their forestry work (tree planting, thinning, pruning, hand piling, prescribed burning, etc.). In the early 80's the Oregon Department of Forestry saw these "woods working crews" as a potential ready-made fire fighting resource. ODF contacted contractors and established agreements with the companies to use their crews during fire fighting emergencies. Apparently this concept worked very well because the federal agencies started looking at these crews as a potential resource when federal lands stopped producing vast quantities of timber that contributed funds to hiring numerous seasonal employees. Many of those employees would make up the ranks of a FSR Type II hand crew (or fill in on an engine crew) to fight fire. As the federal timber dollars dried up, seasonal and permanent employee numbers declined dramatically resulting in less and less federal fire fighting resources. In the early 90's the federal agencies approached ODF about using "their" crews on federal fires. Eventually this evolved into today's Interagency and National Contract Agreements.

Whether you like it or not contractors are here to stay. There is a need (suppress fires) and they provide a service (fire fighters and equipment). Some of them provide an exceptionally professional service. Rather than making derogatory and demeaning comments about contractors let's work together to provide a highly professional community of fire fighters regardless of our affiliation.

Thank you for providing this avenue to have these types of discussions.

An Old Fire Gal
3/15 I've updated the Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist).


3/15 Lookout

My agency has asked our State Department of Justice for an opinion
on how or if Public Law 107-203 would affect our IC's when they are
working a joint fire with USFS or managing a USFS fire with a state

3/15 Questions about the creatures that might come from the black lagoon.

Who decides who gets investigated by the fed lawyers that bring criminal charges? Is that only the federal agencies? What if someone had died on the Waterfall Fire? What if someone had died on the Rumsey Fire? Does it matter if it's a fed or non-fed that dies? A fed or not fed jurisdiction? What if it's a vehicle or helicopter crash? Is it only fire? What if a state f/f dies on a fed fire? What if a fed f/f dies on a state run fire? Should state fire managers and county f/f have liability insurance? If they should, anybody have any ideas for companies that sell it?

Why do names get redacted in a report? If names are redacted does it mean a criminal investigation is likely to occur next? Does anyone really know what's going on? Is interagency that good of a thing?


3/15 Re delay in the release of the Cedar Fire Report...

I heard they're trying to figure out what to do about redactions.


3/15 This Ab has done a little research on Bruce L's questions regarding the Tuolumne Fire Investigation:

An Interagency Investigative Team (FS and CDF) are in the final stages of the investigation. Because it's a joint investigation, it's taking a little longer than it might otherwise take. When the Investigative Team is satisfied that their investigation is complete, the report will be submitted to an interagency Board of Review, probably in early May. If the Board accepts it as written, it will be released. If not, the Investigation Team will address any questions or recommendations and revise the report.

Final Board of Review acceptance is expected mid to late May.

It's expected the report will probably be posted on the Lessons Learned website when it is released.

As far as names being redacted, that is unknown at this time.


3/15 SteveM:

The direction to charge fire to "base" code vs charge to the P code flip
flops back and forth every couple years.

On one hand, there is a good argument that the "base" hours cost is
already financed and planned. On the other hand, tracking the cost of
the fire "P" is cleaner if everyone charges all time to the one code.

Charging the crew you sent to "b" and filling in behind them at home for
standby using the "p" code is equally confusing.

Bottom line is for FY 2005 instructions are to charge all time, including
base 8, to the fire p-code.

Last week also heard on a conference call that all Regions had been
advised they are expected to produce the same level of FFPC as in FY
2004. (FFPC = Fire Fighting Production Capability)

Old Fire Guy
3/15 Bruce,

My experience is that CDF releases as little as
possible relating to any incident. This makes it
difficult for lessons learned.

I wonder when or if we'll see the Cedar Fire
Report. Haven't even seen the NIOSH Report.
What's the holdup there?

Good for Novato for doing their own report and
taking it out to other areas for Lessons Learned.


3/15 Johnny came home

Last night I had the honor of seeing my friend come home, to rest. On an
absolutely clear beautiful night, a USFS DC3 landed at Columbia airport and
taxied over to the CDF Tanker Base and parked under the spot lights.. The
hearse pulled onto the tarmac and parked behind the plane... A row of
FS and CDF Firefighters in full uniform and at attention, formed a line
from the rear plane door to the hearse, then the flag was given to his
family. Johnny was carried by his coworkers to the back of the hearse then
escorted to the funeral home by sheriffs and his helitack vehicles.

I'm generally not too emotional a person but I was taken by the quiet order in
which this was carried out and the honor shown Johnny and his family. I actually
felt very proud of the organization. Thanks to whomever arranged and
directed this.

Also thank you CDF for being there for us.


Thanks for letting us know. Your description is masterful at conveying the feeling. Ab.

3/15 USFS/CDF "accident reports"

Can anyone school me on the process the FS and CDF use for compiling and
releasing reports following fatal fire incidents? I've read a great deal
here regarding the Cramer fire, and others from the recent past, but I'm
unclear on what can be expected in the area of a so called "final report".
My specific interest concerns the Tuolumne Fire last fall that killed CDF
Firefighter Eva Schicke.

The fire was on FS ground and an FS IC was on scene, though a large
percentage of the initial attack resources were from CDF; the investigation
team was a multi-agency group; CDF & USFS both released what I'll call
"preliminary" reports within days/weeks outlining the facts as known at the
time. So it's now been 6 months and three days since the incident. What's
next on the horizon?

Will there be an official "final report" from the USFS? Does CDF ever
compile and release anything other than their bare-bones initial "Green
Sheet"? Does the fact that the deceased is from another agency have any
bearing on whether the FS does a full scale investigation and report such as
those compiled for Thirty Mile or Cramer? When should we expect the FS
report? When will CDF release their report? Will a final report be a joint
effort or will each agency release separate documents? Will any report/s be
posted on a web site, distributed in hard copy or otherwise made available
to the public? Are these reports released directly to the media? If / when a
report is released are the names of those involved in the supervision and
management of that fire likely to be blacked out?

Thanks for any insight you may be able to provide,
Bruce L

3/15 Ab,

Is it possible that the reduction in seasonal hiring this year is associated with a
move towards the fed agencies having more year-round, permanent fire jobs?
Harder to get a foot in the door, but better once you're in?

vfd cap'n

No, the Forest Service WO pulled $140,000,000 allocated by Congress off the top of the budget and used it to move ALL Forest Service Finance and Human Resources personnel to Albuquerque NM (100 million pre-suppression dollars that should have gone for fire and 40 million dollars that should have gone for treating fuels on the interface). It's a simple as that. Money meant for FIRE preparedness and FUELS work went to restructure - to centralize - non-fire functions. Sounds analogous to embezzlement to me. We'll see who gets held accountable this season if homes burn and people die. Hopefully FWFSA is informing our congressional reps. Federal firefighters, join FWFSA. Ab.

3/15 Anyone know... do you have to update your apps on AVUE every 3 months?


3/15 Tahoe Terri,

Your post says it all. I have a great fear that it will take many more
firefighter deaths before the disconnect between the WO, the R5
Forester and the field is acknowledged and dealt with.

And then there are all the regions that aren't even able to hire temps
because of the money drain into national cost pools and the big move
to Albuquerque, among other things.

As loyal as I have always been to the agency I work for, I am becoming
more and more convinced that a separate fire agency will be the
only way congress can "fix" it.

Till then I'm

3/15 RE Budgets, Hiring processes and other hostile work environment items:

With another level of insanity being foisted on R5 fire hiring and the nonexistent hiring happening in other regions, I am wondering how much time is being spent in the average fire department dealing with this stuff.

Maybe a few of you can enlighten the lurkers here (which I am told include more than a few high level management and politico types) by answering this puzzler:

How much time is spent by the average district fire department on hiring? In other words how many person days (hours are too small, I know) of recruiting, looking at apps, interviewing, processing the paperwork, and then waiting while upper management approves it all, does it take? Let's make it easy and say just for the time from Jan 1 to the beginning of fire season. Include EVERYONE who contributes.

Inquiring minds want to know.
3/15 Casey,

I've seen a few posts recently about the cuts to federal fire budgets in
various regions. RE your trip to DC: Can you summarize what you will
be sharing with congressional members and which ones they are? Maybe
a few of us can help by writing a letter or making a phone call ourselves
(on our own time of course).

BTW.....DEEP THANKS for the work you and the other leadership
of the FWFSA do for us! You are heroes.

Potential Activist
3/15 Re: BLMgirl, who said, "whereas my understanding is that the
USFS will charge all salary to a fire while they are assigned to
the fire".

I seriously doubt the USFS is now charging their normal base
time to a fire incident management code while they are on a
fire. If they are, damn skippy! But I doubt it. After all, they,
just like all other folks working under a federal "fire" job
description, are already getting paid to be ready and fight

I'd like to hear from some current FS fire manger who knows
what they are talking about on this idea.

3/15 So many lives lost recently is a shock. please forgive my stuttering attempt to
express sincere condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Charles
Edgar, José Gonzalez, and John Greeno.

It's amazing how many lives an individual touches during their too short time
with us. retelling the good times, especially personal quirky stories, often
provides the best healing process when a compadre has passed on.

May the John Greeno family find comfort in the kind words expressed here.
my loss for never having the pleasure of meeting him.

3/14 Rogue Rivers and T,

While the base numbers of the BLM budget may have gone up- it still does
not mitigate for the mandatory cost of living adjustment. Therefore if FY04
is compared to FY05, the overall dollars to be used for operations are
decreased. We are all affected by the current administration and their
focus on external versus internal issues.

The BLM budgets differently from the USFS. Community assistance grants and
rural fire assistance grants are included in the "fire" budget and are
managed by the fire and aviation folks. This money does not go towards BLM
personnel or operations- it goes directly to the communities for their use.
BLM will NOT charge the base 8 of any fire preparedness position to any
incident- whereas my understanding is that the USFS will charge all salary
to a fire while they are assigned to the fire. This means that while the
USFS has a chance during a busy season to "make up" some of those
operational dollars by charging to fire numbers, the BLM can not "make up"
those operational dollars- only overtime is charged to the fire numbers.
Either way, we are both facing a decrease in our ability to do our job due
to a reduced budget.

FPA will be interesting,

3/14 Ab,

I just received a call from the Zion NP in Utah. Steve Smith, Zion National Park Assistant Lead, Fire Use Module, was killed in an automobile accident near Las Vegas, NV, along with his wife Amber and his 2 month old daughter. Donations for Steve's family can be sent to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, 2049 Airport Way, Boise, Idaho 83705, or go on line at www.wffoundation.org to make a donation in his name.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
3/14 John Greeno was the Helitack Foreman at Bald Mtn. from 4/01 till present.
I have known John for twenty years. He was one of the kindest people I
have ever known and one of the best helitack foreman in fire. The crew at
Bald Mtn. now has a big hole in it that will take time to heal. I have
been his assistant since 2001 and it was a privilege to have known and
worked for him. So his death is not in vain we all need to do our jobs in
the safest and most professional manner we can.

Good bye my friend.

Dennis R. Kuster
Stanislaus National Forest
MiWok Ranger District
Bald Mtn. Helitack 517

3/14 Cramer Fire - I see there is now a less redacted Accident Investigation
Factual Report on the Forest Service fire website. The IC's name is not
blanked out so now it is clearer about what happened particularly if you
read both the report and the USDA IG's account.



I'm glad you sent the link for the page of reports. The Accident Investigation Factual Report is a pig of a pdf file, even with broadband. Downloading in off hours might be faster. Ab.

3/14 Ab,

ChuckRoast Nomex Fleece also has a firefighter's event page. Readers can
enter the site and enter the drawing for a nomex fleece hat or can go directly
to the event list page: www.chuckroast.com/fire-safety/expo.phpl.


There's a permanent link on the classifieds page. Ab.

3/14 Here is some info on grant money available for fire departments from
Homeland security. Just got it and I have not reviewed it yet, but any
help buying new radios is always welcome, even if they are digital.


3/14 We have developed a very user-friendly Wildland Fire Event Calendar. The goal is to list every major planned event related to wildland fire. We are especially interested in geographic area meetings and other conferences that are interagency in nature. There are other sites that list training sessions, so we will not duplicate what those sites already carry. And, we won't attempt to list every event related to structure fire.

You can see the calendar by going to www.iawfonline.org/ and clicking on Upcoming Events. It can be viewed as a list or as a monthly calendar.

If you have an event you would like posted on the calendar, let me know by clicking on "Contact Administrator" at the bottom of the Calendar page. (I don't want to post my e-mail address on They Said--spammers would harvest it. But between you an me, it is iawf at iawfonline dot org)

Bill Gabbert
Executive Director
International Association of Wildland Fire

IAWF has a permanent link on the classifieds page. IAWF is also currently sponsoring theysaid (banner at top of page) while advertising the 2005 Wildland Fire Safety Summit. Ab.

3/13 John was the Manager @ bald Mtn and also served at the base manager
when we would have a second and or third ship come in.

Really sucks he is gone, he was one of the few fire people I really
took a liking to when I was up there. He was great to work for.

3/13 Here's an update that came in describing the timeframe for the memorial service and celebration of John Greeno's life.

John's body will arrive in California on Monday Evening.
There will be a public viewing on Thursday afternoon.
The memorial service will be Friday 3/18/05 at 1400 hrs near Sonora, California.
A celebration of John's life will take place after near Jamestown, California.

John's friends and family are working together to establish a collection point for donations.

John's wife would appreciate cards sent to

Lori Greeno
P.O. Box 816
Soulsbyville, Ca.

Thanks everyone for your support.

3/13 ab read this:

Early fire season expected

doc brown


My information on the Presidents proposed budget for BLM is a 1.6% increase. It is a fact. You can check my facts at the OMB website, the Resources Committee Hearing websites, or by just clicking the links that I provided in my earlier posts below.

I feel your pain that even when budgets are going up for some, less and less money is making its way down to the field level fire programs. The Forest Service buget is going down 4% and so even less money will be making its way down to the field level fire programs.

If you would like to read the info that I posted for T below, you will see that the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee have some concerns with the FY 2006 budget being too low and cutting funding to critical programs.

Rogue Rivers
3/13 Re: ARIZONA wildland fire courses

Mesa Community College and Glendale Community College in Arizona both
offer the S-130 and S-190 Courses. These classes are offered at various dates
throughout the year. MCC currently has a class in late March/early April, but
not sure about GCC. Check the college web sites for all the info.


Also check 2 and 4 year schools: HERE. Ab.

3/13 I recently read a concern from a water tender operator who was concerned about having to get drug tested to operate a Water Tender and pay $350 for it. He also had a concern about why others firefighters are not tested for fire duties.

He raises a good question.

With regard to the Wildland Fire Agencies, here is the background.

Several years ago, and Executive Order was signed by the President directing each Department to come up with its plan to drug test employees in public safety sensitive positions. Both USDI and USDA submitted plans accordingly.

The USDI plan does require all Primary fire positions to be drug tested. As a former BLM employee, the original plan required just about everyone to be tested. This raised a lot of concern from various Unions and the scope was eventually narrowed to just the Primary firefighter positions. Secondary firefighter positions were not required.

The USDA plan was also submitted. The US Forest Service analyzed the requirement to have all secondary and primary firefighters subject to mandatory drug testing. As a result of the analysis, the Forest Service plan requested an exemption under the Executive Order. The agency argued that mandatory drug testing "would cause an undue hardship to the agency". The hardship was the cost to the agency to administer it. This is truly an interesting position. Like it or not, that is the way it is.

This statement was made by the USDA Drug testing program coordinator at a "Reasonable Suspicion" training I attended 3 years ago in Reno. As such, I presume it to be accurate.

Now, all wildland firefighter Apprentices are required to be drug tested as I understand it.

All wildland agencies require drug testing as part of operating Motor Vehicles with a GVWR over 26,000 pounds. This is in accordance with the Commercial Vehicle laws under DoT and the states. Many of our engines and water tenders fall into this category. Most Crew Carrier Vehicles (CCVs) are not in this category because the chassis is less that 24,000 GVWR. Also, in California, the operators are not subject to the chauffeur class license because the vehicles carry 10 or less people. If the CCVs carried 11, then drug testing would be required because of the number of passengers would make the vehicle a "bus".

Employees can volunteer to be in the Drug Testing program, if they so chose. This is interesting and poses some nuances. An employee volunteered to be Drug Tested for some strange reason and got into the Random Drug Pool. Apparently, he "forgot" about it and several years later was directed produce a sample. He failed the test and was removed from the agency.

Managers/supervisors can require employees to be Drug Tested under what is known as "Reasonable Suspicion". There are criteria which must be met. Managers/supervisors must have gone through the training.

I do share the same concerns as the Water Tender operator regarding Drug Testing for firefighters, operators and managers. I get no comfort knowing the firefighter next to me is drug free, while ICs and others who are not required to be tested may not be. The logic certainly escapes me personally, but again, that is the way it is.

On another topic, I personally broke down and am acquiring personal liability insurance. This was after hearing the various US Attorneys for the Department of Justice and the precedence set after the Cramer Fire. I also feel there is sufficient cause to have an attorney present prior to answering any questions as a result of a serious injury accident or fatality investigation. This would be required so as to invoke the notion of "Use exclusion" for any information developed as part of the investigation, thus making it unusable with regard to any potential criminal prosecution. This may change as a result of further analysis by the Department of Justice, Solicitors / Office of General Counsel, etc. But until such time as more determinations are made, I personally feel the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination is of a higher magnitude and order than the compelled testimony under an agency investigation.

Last, I need to make it clear that these statements are my own and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Agency I work for.

Changing Times
3/13 Hi Ab!

Just got my papers in the mail after a verbal job offer on Friday. I've been lurking here for awhile reading about what I can understand. After reading quite a bit about the boot discussion, I think I'm going with Nicks (yeah it's late to get boots, so I'll have to break them in as quickly as possible). If anyone has anything bad to say about Nicks, say it now so I make sure they're right for me.

Socks: I hear so many different things about socks. Cotton is natural so it's best, but it doesn't wick away moisture. So synthetic is best...but when mixed with heat it can be bad...this has gotten me pretty confused. A lot of people suggest wool socks with a liner, but doesn't wool get too warm? Sorry if I sound like a complete novice....it's because I am.

And does anyone wear orthotics or inserts in their boots?

What to carry: I read the (FAQ page) list of what handcrews should carry. I'll be on an engine crew, but should I assume I should carry the same stuff (not all of it I understand, just what I need)?

Respiratory protection: does US Forestry provide filter masks or carbon masks? or just bandanas? I was helped into all this by Don Studebaker and he gave me the speech about bandanas being what everyone uses, but I'd personally like a little more protection. Should I go ahead and buy my own? I know with increased technology as well as education nowadays the forest service may already provide these things. Maybe some one can shoot me some advice?

Thanks everyone!
SoCal Newbie

Who is holding the human resources people and the Region 5 Forester
accountable for the intolerable life-threatening slowness of the hiring
in Region 5? It is not life-threatening at this moment, but
it will be when fires hit and we don't have hired and trained folks on the

There should not be 20-some-odd steps to hiring a firefighter. It should
not take months to accomplish! It should not tie up our forest fire
personnel who have other responsibilities.

We were late getting everyone hired and lined out last year. We were
blessed with a light season. Odds are against us that we'll have such a
light season again. This year it is even worse with more steps. We need to have
our hiring act together NOW! When people die, the first heads
I want to see OIG go after
are HR and the Chief R5 Forester.

Tahoe Terrie

3/13 Ab,

My condolences to the families and loved ones of the people who died in the helicopter crash in Texas.


My apologies for labeling you a pessimist, I thought I detected a wee bit of pessimism in your 3/8 post. But you are right, in most of your posts you look for the silver lining. I shouldn't ascribe an attitude to you that you don't deserve.

In my real life, I am also mostly an optimist. I'm sorry to say I just don't see a happy ending in the wildland fire arena right now. I also admire Ed Hollenshead's efforts to revise wildland firefighting doctrine, I think it is a worthy project. But he is facing a monumental task convincing our present administration that a change in doctrine, and everything that needs to accompany such a change, will improve wildland firefighting safety. And at best, we won't likely see any fruit from his efforts until a few years down the road. In the meantime, more young people will die.

It is hard to feel optimistic when people like our House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health Chairman Greg Walden says things like this:

"While it will be imperative that the agencies learn to do more with less, it is equally indispensable that Congress adequately fund those programs that are essential to the long-term health of forests and local communities. I look forward to working with the Administration to ensure the full implementation of the Healthy Forests Act and making necessary changes to the budget recommendations."

I read two big messages from that statement. First "do more with less." What a load of crap. What I hope my firefighting brothers and sisters will do instead this summer is, do less with less. If your fire gets big because you don't have enough resources and too many checklists and firefighters who are afraid to engage because of the current legal mess, don't be heroic and take undue risks. If your fire rips into a subdivision and burns several hundred homes, don't take it as a failure on your part. The failure will be on the heads of our president, our congress, and our agency administrators who had ample opportunities to do the right things but chose instead to do something else.

The second message I get from Congressman Walden's statement is one that is conspicuous by its absence. What about funding programs that are essential to the long-term health of our WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS? I'm getting sick of hearing politicians and fools talk about the so-called "Healthy Forests Act" as if it will be a panacea for all of our wildland fire problems. Thinning forests and logging big trees will not do anything to improve wildland firefighter safety, unless they plan to include thinning grass and brush as part of their precious projects. It isn't timber crown fires that kill most wildland firefighters, it is light, flashy fuels like grass and brush that cause most burnovers.

I'm sorry to say that I see very little to be optimistic about when it comes to the approaching fire season. We don't seem to have many people who are progressive and passionate about firefighter safety in key positions right now. Or, possibly, good people in key positions are being effectively muzzled by the political appointees who are presently holding the reins. The protracted silence from the WO on the Cramer fallout and other important issues baffles and angers me. I fear the end result this summer will be more dead kids.

It was good to see the condolences note from the chief on the Texas accident, along with the statement that we will conduct an administrative review. Our agency is very good at reacting to individual accidents and writing regulations in blood. I just wish we had more people in positions of influence with the kind of vision and guts it takes to be proactive instead of reactive.

Misery Whip

3/13 I just wanted to express my condolences to the families of Charles Edgar, José
Gonzalez, and John Greeno. Though I did not know Mr. Edgar or Mr. Gonzalez,
I did know Greeno from my time in the Helitack world.

Greeno was the kind of guy everyone liked. He always had something funny
to say and was just an all around nice fellow to be around. It was a pleasure
to work with him and I appreciate the short amount of time I knew him. Bald
Mtn. will never be the same.

If anyone knows when the services will be held please let us know.



Tomorrow (today) I will embark on yet another trip to Washington DC. I can't count the number of trips I've made there over the years but this one will be unique. It will be the first true lobbying trip I've made exclusively for the FWFSA and all federal wildland firefighters since the FWFSA disaffiliated from the IAFF.

For years I traveled to DC to attend the IAFF's legislative conference as a local union president and as the 5th District VP for the California Professional Firefighters. Each trip was predicated on the federal firefighter agenda, if any, set forth by the IAFF.

This trip is predicated ONLY on the issues facing federal wildland firefighters. With our portal to portal legislation gaining momentum and the FS taking note by spinning inaccurate information about the legislation's impact, this trip and the meetings I will have with congressional representatives will be incredibly important to all of you.

Already based upon the response to my meeting requests and the offices I will be meeting with, I can see that there is a serious interest on Capitol Hill regarding the issues that affect all of you. Thanks to the response from many of you I asked for with respect to budget cuts, no hiring etc. outside of R5, I will be seeing members of congress representing many of those wildland firefighters affected by these cuts.

I will try to keep all of you abreast of my activities this coming week. In the meantime, if there are still those of you that have received factual information about cuts and haven't already passed them on to me, please feel free to do so at my e-mail address of FWFSAlobby@aol.com. If you do, it would be very helpful to know where you live so that I can ID your congressional representative and pass along the information from you, their constituent.

Whether it be you folks leaving your families for days on end on assignments, or me leaving mine for a week, it is tough for most of us to do. However, without sounding too corny, there is no greater honor for me than to meet and work with some of the most powerful people in this country in Washington on your behalf.

With Great Respect,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/12 Rogue Rivers,

I am not sure where you got your info that BLM's budget is going up
but BLM in California has had nothing but budget cuts. The fire
management has taken nothing but cuts do some research other
than outside your own front door.

3/12 "Bruce L" is correct, and I should have been more specific in my statement
about the availability of "Red Skies of Montana". It should more correctly
read that "....LEGAL copies are not available for purchase on VHS or DVD".
Thanks to the wonder of the Web and Ebay, you can buy almost anything these
days, some legal and some.....? Let the buyer beware!

Dick Mangan
President, IAWF
3/12 We've recently become aware of a possible problem with the Hot List Forum registration form handling. If you have tried registering and failed to receive an email containing the information required to login, please try the registration process again. If you are already registered, you do not need to do so again.

The registration form link is at the bottom of the forum policy page here:

The Hot List was a new addition to our News Page at the end of last year's fire season. It rapidly became one of our highest used areas as dispatchers, other contributors, and interested viewers embraced the concept of "almost live" fire and other emergency incident information.

If the dispatchers in your area aren't already using the Hot List forum as an information sharing tool, tell them know about it and encourage its use. Anyone else with ready access to initial attack fires or emerging incident information, give the forum a try. There is a "test" posting topic so you can try it and see how it works.

We know many folks listen to local fire and emergency frequencies on radio or scanners. Share the info with others who may not have your capabilities.

Original Ab.

It's a good thing to be up and running on that site. We've heard of fires in Okanogan WA, MT, and SD in the last week in areas that should still have snow on the ground. Last night on chat a new visitor said some place in CO had 6% 10hr fuel moisture, warm and windy. NorCA redwoods (the asbestos forest) is facing another year of drought and is very dry for this time of year as is OR - as SWO Fuels Monkey reported on ts on 3/9. If we have lots of ignitions to go with another dry year, are we ready? Real time info on breaking fires is the best. Ab.

3/12 Does anyone have any information on when and where funeral services will be
held for John Greeno? We used to work together on the Inyo in the mid 80's.

I haven't seen him since 1997. But he was my friend,

Thanks. -Jerry-
3/12 dear ab,

I knew Lori Greeno when she worked at Dodge Ridge Ski Area a loooong time ago and met John after they married when he was at Bald Mountain Helitack. I don't know how to set it up but is anyone considering a condolences site for him? I think it would help Lori, and the kids to hear about him, other peoples thoughts and memories.

buffy bandley
strawberry CA 95375

There's a Virtual Condolences website you might consider, started and maintained by CDFer Brian Kornegay in memory of his daughter. www.virtual-condolences.com/ Ab.

3/12 To Still an AD:

I'd like to thank You, MJ and Others for posting your observations concerning the Marre Fire. Last month I helped instruct S-330 (Strike Team - Task Force Leader) and the Marre Fire was used as one of the scenarios. The scenario ended with the fire coming up out of the drainage and crossing Cat Way Rd. The text leaves you to speculate how it ends.

So thanks for filling in some holes for me. It sounds like what happened that day put you folks in a tight spot, but over 11 years later fire fighters, several thousand miles away, are able study this incident and learn.

Thanks for your part in helping my people and organization to operate better and safer.


3/12 A couple cents worth regarding a couple of recent posts:

On 3/8 a post about the upcoming IAWF Safety Summit includes a mention of
the classic 1952 film "Red Skies Of Montana", specifically, that it is not
available. In fact you may be able to find a copy of it on VHS. Last year
I did a search on EBay and came up with a couple of vendors offering copies
of the film. The one I purchased was obviously taped off the TV, so I'm not
sure how "legal" it is, but it is a real good copy, perfectly watchable. I
first saw the film on TV back in the 60's when I was just a sprout. What
makes it interesting these days is the opportunity to see some of the
practices and equipment in use by the smokejumpers - an early chain saw, the
ones that required two men two operate; a motorized "trencher" they use to
dig fireline; a large 40's (?) vintage military style "walkie-talkie"; and
best of all ... the guy in the small airplane using a megaphone out the
window of the plane to communicate to his men on the ground. Is it a
realistic depiction of 1950's operations? Can't say, but all in all it's a
cool movie, far better than most recent attempts to capture wildland
firefighting on film. I recommend it. Check out EBay, sometimes there are
movie poster reproductions available as well, you may get lucky.

On 3/9 Firefly posted some info about CDF airtankers. Upfront I'll admit to
being only marginally familiar with the issue, so right off I ask for
someone with direct knowledge to jump in and correct me if I'm wrong. It is
my understanding that prior to the engine retrofit of it's airtanker fleet
CDF S2's were all out of service one day a week for preventative/routine
maintenance, not for "cost savings" as he claims. And not just during the
1992 season, but every year prior to the retro fit eliminating the need for
the weekly maintenance. So while we can argue the wisdom of a return to a
six-day coverage program, we can't say that six day coverage is new or
unprecedented. Of course, just because it's been done before doesn't make it
smart, doesn't mean it wont degrade our IA capabilities some, and doesn't
mean it wont impact the DynCorp pilots significantly. But we should try to
get the facts correct, and know something of past practices. I hope my
understanding of the history of this issue is correct. There must be an air
program guy out there who can confirm my version, or set me straight.
And another thing, from the same post ... I just gotta call "BS" on the
assertion that the lack of an S2 resulted in "several fires", including the
Gulch Fire, getting beyond the initial attack phase. Being the skeptical
type I'll need to see some definitive proof of that claim. In my experience
it's rare that the lack of a single resource results in a fire going big.
It's far more likely that a combination of factors, i.e. weather conditions,
terrain, accessibility, local and regional draw-down and even just plain old
bad luck ( a broken hose, a wrong turn, a missed opportunity, a spot fire)
combine in a sort of chain reaction gang-up on initial attack forces to
cause little ones to become big ones. But I have to agree with Firefly on
his bottom line, in part anyway ... if your plan depends on aircraft, or
any single resource type for that matter, to be successful, you're bound to
be disappointed at best.

Bruce L.
3/12 Whom it may concern,

My name is Steve K. I am having trouble locating the basic fire courses. I am
looking to take S130, S190 somewhere around the west valley AZ. If you could
guide me to some websites I would appreciate it.

3/12 A cool flyer came in... it's a large file. If you'd like a copy, email Ab and I'll forward it. Here's the info in short:

Elton Thomas Retires!
Wanted: gifts, contributions, cards, letters, memories, stories and photos.
Saturday 4/16/05
Wentachee Valley Senior Center
1312 Maple St
Wentachee WA
6-10 PM, dinner 6:30
RSVP by Tuesday 4/5 to ebrodie @fs.fed.us or ccorbett @fs.fed.us
Potluck $5 /person (or $15 /person), beverage and desert provided.
3/11 T, first I want you to know that I was in Region 5 in 1985 and worked for BLM in 1988, and 1990-1992. The FACT is that the BLM budget is going up 1.6%. That’s a whole lot better than going down 4%.

Second, it appears that the BLM must be suffering the same problems that the Forest Service is.
Ologists running the fire program and using the fire dollars as a pork barrel. The fact is that the BLM budget is going up just as I stated.

Obviously, BLM Fire is low on the concerns of the overall program in USDI. It would sure be nice to see some BLM fire leaders (and when I say leaders, I mean entry level firefighters to the upper most fire managers) step up and begin the discussion about improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions for wildland firefighters just as you have.

T, this link may be of interest to you. It is from your BLM Directors testimony before the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, Resources Committee. Notice that both Kathleen Clarke (BLM Director) and Mark Rey (USDA Undersecretary) have a CAN DO ATTITUDE (Give me a dime budget and I'll do you a dollars worth of work.. BS)... Both are executive branch political appointees, as if the current Chief of the Forest Service. Both Congressional Speakers, Rep. Walden (R-OR) and Udall (D-CO), are elected by the people. Congressman Walden and Udall BOTH express their concerns that the budget sucks (sucks is my own word but you'll get the idea after looking at the testimony).

Rogue Rivers
3/11 <little voice>
Was John the heliport manager? I thought he was the helicopter manager.
I've been trying to tell folks the right info.
<just wonderin' voice>


3/11 Release No. FS-0527s
Contact: Press Office, (202) 205-1134

by USDA Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth
Forest Service Helicopter Crash near Center, Texas
Mar. 11, 2005

A helicopter flight carrying two Forest Service employees and a pilot under contract with the agency yesterday afternoon crashed in southeast Texas. Charles Edgar, fire management officer on the Sabine National Forest, John Greeno, Bald Mountain heliport manager with the Mi-Wok Ranger District on the Stanislaus National Forest in California, and José Victor Gonzalez, a pilot with the Brainerd Company in Minnesota, all perished in the crash. The Forest Service employees were conducting a prescribed burning operation in the Sabine National Forest.

“I am deeply saddened by this tragedy. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family, friends and loved ones of Forest Service employees Charles Edgar and John Greeno. I know that the loss of these individuals is also devastating for the Sabine and Stanislaus coworkers of Charles and John. The Forest Service family is thinking of them during this very difficult time. I also want to extend my compassion and sympathy with the family, friends and loved ones of pilot José Victor Gonzalez.

“The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is leading the investigation into the cause of the crash. The Forest Service will cooperate fully with NTSB, the government’s chief investigative unit for accidents involving aircraft. In addition, the Forest Service has begun an administrative review to learn from what happened and to improve our safety procedures for the future.”
3/11 To Rogue Rivers:

Sir, I don’t know what state or blm region you're referring to when you said "The BLM budgets are going up". They are going down in Fire Management and all agency programs. Even fuels $$$ is being moved from projects and going to other more pressing issues for which the president needs the $$$.

How many districts out there RAMPED UP resources the last few years. I hope your 26/0s are very secure because the budgets this year and the funds slicked off the top, middle and below will affect everyone. 20 & 30 engine districts prepare for a PROP 209 year. Ask anyone who was around in 1985 in USFS R-5 what to expect.

Stay safe brothers and sisters.


To Ab & Displaced SW Dispatcher,

I have the driptorch pointer on my old computer and when you posted your question I went looking to see how to get it on my new computer too. It is at www.wildlandfire.com/images/torch.zip

I just downloaded and installed it and it still works!



Ab Note: I'd forgotten about that one. Here are the directions that B'cause sent in when she sent in a driptorch, engine, airplane and fire hydrant. If you want any of the others, email.

Here is the drip torch and a couple others that came with it. Share as you see fit. Tell folks to just add them to the cursors folder on their personal computer, or on agency computers file it in their own folder (the FS security programs won't let you download anything in the system files). Then just browse when assigning cursors through the control panel. Hope this helps.

B'cause it's fun

3/11 Cedar Point Contracting is recruiting Engine Boss and Firefighters for the Wenatchee area. See the new Jobs Page employment ad for details.

I've updated the Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist).


3/11 It is our pleasure to announce that James Costantino of the Goosenest Ranger District, Klamath National Forest is the recipient of the Region 5 Cal Yarborogh Award for 2004.

His name has been added to the Wildland Firefighter Awards page.


3/11 CRAZY LEGAL In our discussing legal and safety and crazy spin-off, try this on for size.
A law enforcement agency gets investigated because it's officers extracted people from a
burning house and the dept. didn't supply them with suitable safety gear for the occasion.

(requires providing some info to enter)

Are we entering an Idiot Cycle these days?

The Honorable Mouse.

3/11 ab...would you please post this attachment to "they said"

The time is drawing near for the Cramer Legal Defense Fund to close.

...many thanks

/s/ g. elton thomas


Cramer Legal Defense and Employee Assistance Fund

March 10, 2005

The Cramer Legal Defense and Employee Assistance Fund was established in November, 2004 to provide financial and other assistance to the current and former Forest Service employees involved in the Cramer Incident.

To date one request was made to the Fund Administrator for financial assistance. The Board of Directors decided to remit $1500 in response to that request and to keep a small balance in the event other requests were received. The total donated to the fund has been slightly less than $2000. There is still a need to assist employees and I’m asking you to contribute towards that end.

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.

3/11 Everybody,

Conditions in Eastern Montana and the Dakotas seem to get more severe on a daily basis. No significant precip in the past two months. We have had 2 red flag warnings for wind in the past week. Starting to get some pretty good fires, a burning coal vein started a fire that consumed 236 acres in less than a couple of hours. The fire activity we are seeing is pretty substantial saying its still winter here in the north. Maybe some of you will be rafting the little missouri this summer on your r&r days.

3/11 Misery Whip & others interested in the "Discursive Openings" paper: Dr Jennifer
Thackaberry will be giving a talk at the IAWF Wildfire Safety Summit in Missoula
on April 26-28.

Dick Mangan
President, IAWF
3/11 MJ

Your description of the team's reaction to the burn over at the Marre fire sounds disturbingly similar to the Saddler fire in NV, 1999. I was on the Saddler fire the day of the burn over and while I heard some rumors of injuries it wasn't until the report came out months later that I found out how serious it had been. I guess the only difference is the team at the Saddler got caught.

NorCal Tom

I took Nerd's comments differently than you, in my opinion his idea would offer more protection to supervisors by shifting blame to those who directly took action resulting in injury or death. It would not be enough to simply say the IC made the call and somebody died, that is possible but it would have to show that the IC failed to make a reasonable decision that violated standard practice, and that the IC's decision was the cause of the accident. Perhaps such a standard would put much of the responsibility back on the crew boss where it more reasonably belongs and who at least has a pretty good idea of what each crew members situation is.

It also seems to me that if OSHA and OIG are going to go after individuals as they appear to be they need to get some real fire investigators, people that understand the conditions on the line and the reality of managing a fire. I find it interesting that the USFS is always getting accused of covering up the truth to protect the guilty yet when I read the reports I've always felt they come much closer to the truth and accept more blame than the reports of many other agencies.

3/11 For what it's worth John Greeno was the Superintendent of the Bald Mt
Helitack Crew on the Stanislaus NF. Those of us that knew him will deeply
miss everything about him.


SH, sorry for your loss. Thanks for the info. Ab.

3/10 From Firescribe:

Three dead in helicopter crash

A helicopter under contract to the U.S. Forest Service crashed Thursday during prescribed burning operations in a national forest in east Texas, killing three people, officials said.

Pilot Jose Victor Gonzales and passengers John Greeno and Charles Edgar were the only occupants of the craft and died at the scene, said Heather Crustner, a dispatcher with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Condolences. Early in the season for this to begin. First Florida, now Texas. Folks, if you haven't renewed your 52 club membership, please do. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation will probably be helping with arrangements. John was from the Stanislaus NF, Region 5 helitack supt, he'll need to come home; Charles was from the Sabine NF, Region 8 DFMO. Pilot Jose Victor Gonzales, flying the helo... condolences to all families and friends. Ab.

3/10 Retrieved from the spam filter, sorry for the delay Zimm.

Oliver is right on target but was just a bit short, really close though, so close. Let us look at the definition of "Watchouts" could be defined as to 'be vigilant, be on the lookout, be on one's guard, be careful; "Watch out for pickpockets!" '. Taken from somewhere on the internet.

This then takes the 18 into some what of a different look. They then become 18 issues which must have vigilance, be on guard for, be careful of. How could anyone look at these items/issues/thoughts and call them rules. They are not defined as a rule. The definition of "a rule" is 'a principle or condition that customarily governs behavior; "it was his rule to take a walk before breakfast"'.

Yes, we need to be held accountable for our actions on an incident, the 18 must be applied, reviewed, and a judgment made as to whether or not we have looked at 18 issues and decided that some do not apply and some do thereby forcing us to take a corrective action to resolve the watchout in a manner that allows our people to go work the incident.

Then you have the 10, They are defined with the word "Orders". Orders are defined as, '(often plural) a command given by a superior (e.g., a military or law enforcement officer) that must be obeyed; "the British ships dropped anchor and waited for orders from London" '. The 10 because of the word 'orders', have taken on the position of issues that they will not be disobeyed or be changed and must be followed.

Again we need to be held accountable for our actions on an incident, the 10 must be reviewed, applied and a judgment made as to how all 10 will be followed as orders to resolve each order in a manner that allows our people to go work the incident.

No matter how you view the 10 & 18 they are there for a reason. Each of them was created because in all cases someone DIED doing the very thing they are saying you should not do or need to look at. Everyone be extra safe this year, with moisture levels so low in the west this year could be the year we did not wish for.


3/10 Lunch break and here I am at my computer...

Nerd that is the standard. It is unreasonable and makes for an unsafe mental state for managers. Don't you get it??? It is sometimes impossible to accomplish ALL the mandatory checklists that came out of South Canyon, 30 mile, and Cramer. Too much is expected of fire managers now in their desk jobs and on the fireline. This is what led to many FF opting for retirement or failing to renew their IC quals.

On the fireline:
Some of the extensive standards mandated by congress also assign managers unreasonable responsibility for contract crews, vollies, and others interagency troops with inadequate training or a yahoo mentality or .... No manager can insure that an individual or crew follows the 10 and 18 during conditions like we saw in socal, fall 2003. To some degree we have to assume people have good training, smarts, and a survivor's orientation. Let's say the fire moves FAST. LCES has to be recalculated moment by moment for many crews under an IC's command. Crazy. It only takes one crew or engine supt one crewmember making a bad decision under the best conditions to wield the fatal monkey wrench. When that happens the manager has the boom lowered on him (or her).

Relevant to what you've said in the past:

It's not like an EMT and SOPs. It's not that simple. The EMT is responsible only for his or her own behavior. A better analogy would be an medical manager in charge of and responsible for the unfolding patient-saving actions of a bunch of EMTs and ambulance drivers and physicians assistants and nurses and med techs and first responders from a bunch of training backgrounds across the US - a medical manager who is threatened with criminal prosecution when someone's patient dies and /he's not looking over their shoulder to see if they used the right procedure, the right communication, the right instrument, the right triage, the right ambulance moment by moment as the patient's condition developed following a horrific accident.

It's also not like a business engaged in high risk activities. Such a business can work across the board to create an environment of safety. As it is now when tragedy hits, fire managers in a land management organization are set to take the blame for a cobbled together interagency fire workforce embedded in a land management organization where critical standards need to be met, where reasonable SOPs need to be shared and implemented from the ground up, where fundamentals need to be taught and reinforced not only by their OWN land management agency -that has a different mission/vision/doctrine than fire--- but also by ALL agencies and businesses and volunteers involved. In my opinion, training and experience in tactical fire behavior and human factors training are still lacking in our Agency. BD crew work could help with fire experience. We're doing well on leadership training for those who can be leaders. We are in danger of losing our lessons learned due to legal risks.

Nerd, how about you come join us? Bring your knife, we supply phone booths. I think you have to live with the expectations we do to see what smoky conditions we're dealing with. It's no wonder people die. Gonzales said death is inevitable but knowledge and action can keep it from being you (the survivor) who dies. I would add that's true of being made scapegoat as well.

Thanks to contributors here for sharing info that lets us dodge the bullet (zing, dodge, there went another one).

NorCal Tom

3/10 Since we’re on the 10 and 18 again…I really like the four-fold standard of liability applied to EMS care providers: the provider must have had a duty to act, must have breached the standard of care, harm must have occurred to the patient, and that harm must have been as a result of the breech of standard of care. Under that template, a person liable for a fireline injury or death must have been in a responsible position; must have acted in a manner inconsistent with standard firefighting doctrine (10 and 18, written SOPs, etc.), harm must have occurred, and that harm must have been directly related to the breech in standard of practice. This seems fairly logical and inclusive to me, and it shifts the burden of proof back to the accuser, where our legal system says it should be. Next question is, how does a standard like that get instituted as precedent? It’s gonna take a lot more clusters like the aftermath of Cramer.

Nerd on the Fireline

PS. Mellie, thanks for making me read Deep Survival. I’m midway through and really enjoying it. I love the “knife fight in a phone booth” analogy.
3/10 Misery Whip,

I am not pessimistic. I think there's great opportunity for change right now. In fact I feel that if change doesn't come from within the FS fire organization it will be imposed by Congress. Unfortunately, as someone pointed out in chat last night that is likely to involve another fatality of a fire family member. I'd hate to see that...

There are people working on reviewing Doctrinal Intent. If we don't know doctrine under which we operate today, how can the legal system?

It seems DOA could arrange "use immunity" for AARs and Lessons Learned. (It was a relief to figure out what I'd do if I were an ICT3 or other fire manager.)

I think we need to know more about how human factors play into decisions we make. I heard that Ted Putnam was promised that human factors would be explored and that funding would be provided to do that some years ago following Storm King, but all support for that was pulled back the Mary Jo (WO) person as soon as the Storm King stir died down.

Laurence Gonzales book Deep Survival is a must read in my estimation. It's being handed around my family right now. People are reading it in record time and I see them applying the "survival insights" one youngster is doing it even in his business place.

I've even given thought to attending the IAWF Conference. It's pretty far and costly for me to go, but it sounds like it will be veeeery educational. Someone sent the tentative human factors agenda a while back. Link at the banner at the top of the page.

I would say, let's not loose heart on this. Persistence is what it's all about. For survivors I could sum it up with what I live by when the opportunity presents itself... "Out of chaos comes creativity."

Betty and Rene, still getting my ducks in a row. Is socal drying out yet? Parts of OR are pretty dry... Norcal is still green... I heard last night Minnesota still has ice and snow but AZ is already pretty hot. Fire season's not far away.

Hmmm, I'm already getting a bit apprehensive for our firefighters this season. <talking to self> Work on. Steadfast... What happens will be defined by those who continue to show up with ideas and possible solutions.

ever the optimist looking for opportunities for good change and taking opportunities to act...

3/10 I am a Private Contractor on a Water Tender. I have to be Drug Tested for my license and the people who work for me are also Pre Screened and Random Tested during the year. It costs me $350.00 for each person to do this but it is required and should be done. If you have a CDL License you are Drug Tested period if you drive a big truck on the road for hire. A person who is in charge of other peoples lives should also be Drug Tested as far as I am concerned all the way up the ladder to the top! We do not need Drugs or Alcohol in the systems of people making important decisions. If there is a burn over or major problem the Leaders should be Drug Tested right then just to double check they are clean.
Tender Operator
3/10 I still don't know how you can hope to follow the Fire Orders (or LCES)
if you don't know what the fire's doing. You can have all the situational awareness
possible and if you don't know fire behavior or what makes it change, you're
screwed. If the fire doesn't get you, the legal system will unless you have a
manager above you who will assume the "goat" role. What about paying for
some of the liability insurance so we can be covered? Those making the rules
are only paying for the bigger guys. That make us the goat next?


3/10 It would help the discussion here if people were careful with their
citations and rumors. In reference to the 10 & 18 being "rules", on page 01-
4, the Federal Fire Program Policy and Guidance Overview chapter of the 2005
Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations (which stands as
policy for feds, unless otherwise noted), the section titled Code of Conduct
for Fire Suppression reads:

"Firefighter safety comes first on every fire every time. The Ten Standard
Firefighting Orders are firm. We don’t break them, we don’t bend them.
All 18 Watch Out Situations must be mitigated before engagement or re -
engagement of wildland fire suppression activities. ..."

For what it's worth, it reads the same in the 2004 and 2003 Red Books.

Clearly the policy states the the Ten Standard Orders are not to be broken,
but that the 18 Watch Out Situations are not "rules" - the 18 identify when
mitigating actions must be taken in order to continue working. As I read
it, "mitigating" doesn't mean that you have to eliminate the situation,
rather that you have to recognize it and take steps to moderate or lessen
the severity or seriousness of the situation.

You can find the 2005 Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations
at: www.fire.blm.gov/Standards/redbook.php

And you can find definitions for "mitigate" at:http://www.dictionary..com.

And one of the Abs wrote: "OSHA and OIG were given the 10 and 18 as RULES of
engagement- 'we don't bend 'em we don't break 'em.'" Are you certain about
that? The reason I ask is that it is clear on our published policy (as
cited above) that only the 10 are rules. It would seem that, regardless of
what "OSHA and OIG were given" that the written policy is clear.

There are a lot of issues and questions coming out of the Cramer Fire and
the subsequent agency actions, but let's try to keep our issues straight and
focus our energy on evaluating the facts.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled debate.


Say, can anyone tell me where to pick up that Fireline Lawyer Task Book?
Are there ICS Types - FLL1, FLL2, etc? I think I'm ready.

That's what I heard. But thanks for the attention to detail, Bob. The 18 were probably given as mitigations, but point to a firmness about the 10 Fire Orders that are impossible expectations if they are now hard and fast legal RULES to go to jail by ... as impossible as it is to fill out all the checklists under certain circumstances. Ab.

3/10 Ab,

The chain of errors committed in recent years by United States Forest Service management is nearly complete. The only thing lacking now is another busy fire season, and some unwitting fireline supervisors to take the blame for the upcoming tragedies that are bound to happen.

One of the chief responsibilities of leaders is to communicate, and our present managers have failed miserably in that respect. They have also demonstrated that they don't understand the nature of the problems with which they are wrestling, and have not yet consulted with people who do have the expertise to help them solve our present predicament. The end result will be another fire with multiple fatalities from a burnover, the 10 & 18 "violated" once again, and grieving families and friends who will wonder for the rest of their lives why their loved ones are gone forever.

In my opinion, Mellie's post-Reno assessment of the need for all wildland firefighters to obtain professional liability insurance is absolutely correct. Sad, but correct. Our new-found love affair with After Action Reviews is going to crumble into dust once firefighters figure out they are liable for any errors they might admit during an AAR or investigation. Lessons learned? Forget it.

In nearly every recent publication by experts in human behavior, CULTURE is identified as the primary underlying foundation that prevents accidents. And our present culture sucks. "Managing the Unexpected" says that organizations that understand human information processing limitations and have a strong safety culture are called High Reliability Organizations. In order to have a safety culture, you must first establish conditions that support a reporting culture, and a learning culture.

Because our managers don't understand the importance of human factors, and are still trying to apply the same old failed solutions, we are rapidly transforming into the opposite of an HRO. We are in the process of becoming a Low Reliability Organization, where firefighters are eternally suspicious of everyone else, afraid to engage for fear of making a mistake, and likely to cover up or not admit any mistakes that are made.

The ongoing debate on They Said over the 10 and 18 is revealing in many respects. I have not yet met ANY person who has a deep understanding of human factors who feels that it is appropriate to use the 10 & 18 as hard and fast rules of engagement. But Forest Service management continues to doggedly insist that absolute adherence to the 10 & 18 is the key to safety, in spite of a great deal of evidence to the contrary. It brings to mind another famous quote; "one definition of insanity is to keep on trying the same thing and expect a different result."

In a recent post, I referenced a publication by someone who does have a deep understanding of human factors and the problems faced by wildland firefighters. Below is another snippet from "DISCURSIVE OPENING AND CLOSING IN ORGANIZATIONAL SELF-STUDY: Culture as Trap and Tool in Wildland Firefighting Safety" by Jennifer Anne Thackaberry of Purdue University. Here's the link:


In 2001, four young firefighters were killed in an otherwise routine mop up of a fire in the Okanogan National Forest in Washington State (see, e.g., “Trapped at Thirtymile,” 2001; USFS, 2001). Whereas in 1998, the Safety Awareness Study had cautioned against using the Ten Standard Fire Orders as a yardstick, in 2001, investigators nevertheless determined that “all ten” of the Fire Orders were broken (e.g., Murphy, 2001; Preusch, 2002; Solomon &Welch, 2001a, 2001b). And whereas the Safety Awareness Study had emphasized that the Eighteen Watchout Situations were simply cautionary statements and should not be used as punitive checklists for blame, the Thirtymile firefighters were nevertheless found guilty of “breaking” the Watchouts as though they were rules (e.g., Murphy, 2001; Preusch, 2002; Solomon & Welch, 2001a, 2001b).

Parents of the fallen firefighters, the local paper, and members of Congress were angered that despite promises of change, firefighters were once again being blamed for their own deaths by official statements that detailed numbers of rules violated (see, e.g., Murphy, 2001; Preusch, 2002; Solomon & Welch, 2001a, 2001b). Furthermore, many were outraged to note that a risk abatement plan developed in the wake of the Thirtymile Fire simply recycled some of the very same recommendations that had emerged from the Safety Awareness Study 3 years earlier (e.g., “Change Forest Firefighting Culture,” 2001; Pfleger, 2001). The Seattle Times noted, for example, that it was “maddening” for outsiders to see the same findings reiterated in wildland fire fatality investigations: “the same problems captured in the same words, with no apparent effect on the policies and culture [italics added] of the Forest Service seven years [after the Storm King Mountain fire]” (“A Smoldering Frustration,” 2002).

Likewise, in a Senate investigation into the Thirtymile deaths in November 2001, Senator Cantwell (DWA) criticized the agency for failing to live up to the changes proposed during Phase III of the Safety Awareness Study. She argued, “These ideas aren’t new. They simply haven’t been implemented” (Pfleger, 2001).

Thus, 5 years after the study was concluded, external constituents reasonably ask that if the Forest Service set out to study and to change its culture, Why do large-scale tragedies continue to happen? Why do official accident investigations continue to find that firefighters “broke all the rules” (e.g., Solomon & Welch, 2001a, 2001b)? and, most damaging, Why do investigators seem to continue to “recycle” the same recommendations for safety (Pfleger, 2001)? Recent comments from organizational insiders also reveal continued frustrations about how safety is managed.

Firefighters quoted in news reports use increasingly draconian language to characterize firefighter instruction about safety rules. Fire managers, for example, express frustration about violations of rules that are “drummed into the head of every firefighter” (e.g., Furnish, in Banse, 2001). Surviving family members who chafe at blame placed on their loved ones insist that their sons and daughters characterized the rules as having been “written in blood” (e.g.,Weaver, in Sieckmann, 2001). One widow even exhorted, “Tom disregard an order? That’s ridiculous . . . These guys followed orders all day; it’s what got them killed” (Solomon & Welch, 2001b).

The issue of better enforcement of the Ten Standard Fire Orders, which was included in Goal 37, is also causing debate over how to properly punish surviving firefighters who were found to have violated safety rules at the Thirtymile Fire (see, e.g., “Who the [blank] is the Forest Service Hiding?” 2002; “Thirtymile Report is Mostly Secret,” 2002). As recently as March 2003, reactions in public documents related to disciplinary action have further angered some constituents (e.g., “Discipline Handed out in Wildfire Deaths,” 2003; “End the Secrecy,” 2003). Although one implementation strategy for Goal 37 was to produce a reduced set of “true orders” that would be distinct from guidelines (see Table 3), this apparently has not been done. The Ten Standard Fire Orders have certainly been reordered to guide firefighters to “provide for safety first” and then to “fight fire aggressively” (e.g., USFS, n.d.), but to date, they have not been pared down per se.

Nevertheless, the implementation strategy related to the Watchout Situations is being carried out. For example, lessons from the Thirtymile Fire have been incorporated into a PowerPoint training tool that is available on the Forest Service Fire and Aviation Web site (USFS, 2002). However, the final slide presents the following “key message” that should be taken away from the presentation:

The Ten Standard Fire Orders are firm rules of engagement. All decisions to engage, disengage, or re-engage in a suppression action must be made in terms of the Ten Standard Fire Orders. (USFS, 2002, last slide)

In other words, the lessons of the Thirtymile Fire are being taught in such as way as to reinforce the authority of the Fire Orders. This is in spite of the fact that the study’s Phase III report had criticized a similar statement issued by the cabinet secretaries after the Storm King Mountain fire.

In the Safety Awareness Study, firefighters had articulated a vision for a different kind of culture, one that would be less reliant on the steering medium of safety rules and more reliant on local reasoning and decision making. But these reactions to the events of the Thirtymile Fire indicate that as much as 5 years later, the Forest Service is still managing safety by emphasizing rule following.

If you haven't yet read the entire "Discursive Openings" paper, I highly recommend it. It is laden with professional jargon and is intimidating to read, but there is a good deal of wisdom contained in this document.

Like Mellie, I also hate to sound so pessimistic about the present state of affairs, but I truly fear what may happen this summer if we have a bad fire season. I have been accused by some of playing to people's fears and stoking the fire, but, damn it, I didn't create this situation. No single person did. We all inherited it. The question is, what do we do with it?

In the past few months, I have tried to inform, coax, wheedle, shame, and inspire our senior Forest Service fire managers to wake up and DO THE RIGHT THING. As far as I can tell, I have absolutely failed. They don't seem to see the wreck that is fast approaching. The last lug nut is coming off our wheels, and they appear to be blissfully ignorant, and telling us to go full speed ahead. This is wrong, it is sad, and is likely to result in the deaths of more fine young Americans. I was once proud to be a Forest Service firefighter, but all I feel right now is a deep sense of shame.

In spite of that, I'm not ready to give up trying yet. Here's another quote for our managers from Susan B Anthony:

"Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, can never bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation."

Misery Whip

3/10 For you cherry-pickers out there still waiting for the right job to come along, there is a new employment ad on the jobs page. The San Juan Island Fire Department is accepting applications for one seasonal type position. $15.00 p/hour, overtime, vegetation firefighting, and housing included! I had to go find some more info and found all I needed here:

If the phones in our advertising department start going unanswered, it's cause I got the job. Heh, heh.

Original Ab.

3/10 I have a driptorch cursor. The person who wants it, please write in again.


3/10 I heard something about a "Pay it Forward" presentation at the California
Hotshots workshop. Was it presented?

Can anyone give the specifics? How do we pay it forward?

Former Hotshot
3/10 Mollysboy.

It is pretty interesting that the most recent addition to "Leaders We Would Most Like to Meet" was none other than Ted Putnam.

Ted, asked some pretty tough questions and provided some pretty blunt answers... He got the cold hard shaft... sorry for being too blunt for some of ya... ... If you are a wildland firefighter, you understand what happened to Ted.. wildland firefighters always seem to get the shaft when they speak from the heart.

If the wildland fire community wants its current and future leaders to step up.. WE need to get rid of the fear of speaking ones mind... Ted didn't have the fear, he had the courage to say Bullshit over career and recognize how he could influence safety!! Ted Putnam is a wildland fire leader and should be properly recognized for his contributions to wildland fire safety and the changing culture of the wildland fire agencies.... even though his thoughts went against the grain with current perception in the agencies...

3/10 Ab,

"The President's FY06 budget request for discretionary appropriations for the Bureau of Land Management in Fiscal Year 2006 is $1.74 billion, an increase of $27 million (1.6 percent) over the Fiscal Year 2005 enacted budget. The request for discretionary appropriations for the Forest Service in Fiscal Year 2006 is $4.06 billion, a decrease of $173.6 million (4 percent) from the Fiscal Year 2005 enacted budget."

Hmmm.... BLM gets an increase of 27 million dollars (1.6 percent UP) and the Forest Service gets a decrease of 173 million dollars (4 percent DOWN).... Looks like a trend.

I can't wait until FPA (Fire Program Analysis) takes hold and the Forest Service budget drops like a rock.... (All tongue in cheek.. don't shoot the messenger!!!).

I am happy to see that the BLM is getting more money... they have long deserved it. They must be doing a great job working with the Congressionals and responding to GAO and OMB requests. On the other hand, are the folks in the Forest Service afraid to accurately paint the picture and present the need?

The Forest Service has long been its worst enemy. Year after year, when faced with declining budgets, the Forest Service presents the "can do" attitude. I guess the "can do" attitude has always been a part of the culture and is hard to drop when that is what you have been taught for so many years.

It is time that Forest Service Managers say B.S. (and thats not the 0401 Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Forestry, Natural Resources, etc..). Stop being afraid of communicating with the OMB, GAO, and Congress.

Instead of presenting the "can do" attitude (Mostly by political appointees and folks hired by them or supervised by them), the Forest Service needs to present the facts of what a decrease of $173.6 million dollars will mean on program delivery and oppose the future implementation of the FPA system.

Jack Ward Thomas should be commended for his stance against political appointees and how they hurt the system of accountability .... They seem to block (or influence) the professionals of the Forest Service from presenting their educated opinions without bias.

Sorry for the long post .... It is time for the Forest Service folks to become LEADERS and not be just MANAGERS or political pawns ... it is time for having managers who are leaders in the changing Forest Service culture!! Step up or step down.......

Rogue Rivers

3/10 Ab,

Among other stuff still to be posted from our Cramer Fire FOIA request is the 26-page OSHA Thirtymile Fire briefing paper. It is similar in content to both the South Canyon and Cramer briefing papers, showing a path of development between the two. There is a clear evolution in the OSHA inspections, as they gained their wildfire footing from 1994 to 2001 to 2003.

By the way, the USFS Thirtymile Investigation index http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/investigations/30mile/index.phpl does list a 'briefing paper' in the OSHA section, but it's really a 2-page USFS response from Ed Hollenshead. They also list a 12-page copy of the OSHA citations (6 pages of the actual citations, plus a cover letter and boilerplate/notice of employee rights.) If you plan on downloading that file, pack a lunch and make space on your hard drive. Amazing even for a crappy, scanned PDF with no pictures, it's an unbelievable 220 Mb.

For the South Canyon Fire, OSHA did not specifically mention the 10 & 18 in the two citations. Instead, the Willful and Serious violations cite the actions themselves (ie, downhill line construction, failure to provide weather forecast to firefighters, failure to provide lookouts, etc.) The conclusion of the South Canyon briefing paper does include this about the 10 & 18:

"At every level of the organizations, compliance with the standard Fire Orders and careful observance of the “Watch Out” situations and Common Denominators must be promoted and enforced. The consequences of compromising these orders and guidelines must be made clear to all individual involved in firefighting."

In the Thirtymile citations, the Willful violation did cite the litany of all 10 Orders violated and ten of 18 Watchouts not mitigated. OSHA's abatement recommendation consisted of this single sentence:

"Among others, a feasible and useful method of abating these hazards is to develop and implement effective procedures to ensure the 10 Standard Fire orders are followed and the 18 Watchout situations are mitigated."

In the Cramer Fire citations, OSHA again went item-by-item through the 10 Orders violated and fourteen of 18 Watchouts not mitigated. They wrote this about the 10 Fire Orders:

"Among other methods, one feasible and acceptable abatement method to correct this hazard is to ensure that none of the Standard Fire Orders are violated. Utilizing the simplified LCES (Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes and Safety Zones) would have prevented most of these hazards from occurring. Hazard recognition and control may involve the addition of safety staff specifically qualified to identify hazards to Type 3 or smaller incidents. Specific and in-depth safety training for firefighters, supervisors, incident commanders, and other fire personnel to recognize situations where Fire Orders are violated and to correct them immediately."

And this is what they suggested for fixing the problem with ignored Watchout Situations:

"Among other methods, one feasible and acceptable method to correct this hazard is to ensure that where hazards such as any one of the 18 Watch Out Situations is present, adequate steps be taken to mitigate the hazards. Hazard recognition and mitigation may involve and be enhanced by the addition of safety officers to Type 3 or smaller incidents who are specifically qualified to identify hazardous situations and take measures to mitigate the hazards. Provide specific and in-depth safety training for firefighters, supervisors, incident commanders, and other fire personnel to recognize Watch Out Situations and to correct them immediately."

Also included for Cramer was this Repeat violation from OSHA:

"Performance evaluations did not have elements relating to meeting the requirements of the agency’s safety and health programs for all fire supervisors, fire program management officials, and line officers. Compliance with the Ten Standard Firefighting Orders and Eighteen Watch Out Situations was not included as an element in the 2003 performance evaluation criteria for line officers, fire managers, and fireline supervisors."

Apart from the current hysteria surrounding civil liability and criminal prosecution in the event of a fatality, both OIG and OSHA are pushing for consequences on the "near-miss" fires. They really want to see people held accountable for the 10 & 18 all the time, not only after another family loses a son or daughter.

vfd cap'n
3/9 Ab,

Apparently, 'someone' told the OIG and OSHA that the 10 and 18 are "rules". Who? When? Where? The why is self-evident as they were uninformed. That is uninformed unless s/he is THE policy maker at USFS and then the rest of the fire world has been deliberately misinformed for YEARS. I have never seen the 10 and 18 described in any training or actual incident documentation as being "rules". They have always been guidelines.

Unless this is corrected, wildland firefighters will be both unemployed and the scapegoat. I don't see a way to fire a wildland fire AND follow the 10/18 "rules" without a violation.

Can anyone out there find out the three W's of this? I don't mean the "we don't break them" crap that comes out of the WO by non-fire trained political talking heads. I want to know when the guidelines became "rules" and in what policy making document they in. I haven't found it and the USFS WO so far has refused to respond to requests for the information. Maybe I gotta try the FOIA!?

What can be done at a policy making level to either correct this uninformed person or get the policy written so every one can see it. Changes in policy are never popular! I would suspect that this issue is so far down the important issue ladder at the USFS that the policy makers are willing to allow this to continue rather than make the corrections within their organization and to the OIG and OSHA.

I wonder what they think of LCES?

Steve LCES

You'll be OK unless the rule violation "causes" the death. We all know when there's a death the "rules" have almost always been broken as though they're causal. OK, I'm gonna stop talking. Ab. Maybe...

3/9 For Immediate Release (From the House Resources Committee)
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Contact Matt Streit or Brian Kennedy at (202) 226-9019

President's FY06 Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Budget Analyzed

Washington, DC - Today the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health held an oversight hearing on President Bush's Fiscal Year 2006 budget for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and other subcommittee members heard testimony from BLM Director Kathleen Clarke and Agriculture Department Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey.

"As members of Congress, it is our responsibility to work with federal agencies to help them become as cost-efficient and program-effective as possible and this is particularly critical in a time of budget deficits," said Subcommittee Chairman Walden. "While it will be imperative that the agencies learn to do more with less, it is equally indispensable that Congress adequately fund those programs that are essential to the long-term health of forests and local communities. I look forward to working with the Administration to ensure the full implementation of the Healthy Forests Act and making necessary changes to the budget recommendations."

The President's FY06 budget request for discretionary appropriations for the Bureau of Land Management in Fiscal Year 2006 is $1.74 billion, an increase of $27 million (1.6 percent) over the Fiscal Year 2005 enacted budget. The request for discretionary appropriations for the Forest Service in Fiscal Year 2006 is $4.06 billion, a decrease of $173.6 million (4 percent) from the Fiscal Year 2005 enacted budget.

On-the-ground implementation of the Healthy Forest Act received increased funding under both agencies. Fuels treatment projects under the budget remain a central focus in reducing the threat of ongoing catastrophic wildfire across the West.

"The President's budget would allow for record-breaking levels of fuels treatments as called for in HFRA, however, the budget seemingly reduces the ability of states and communities to participate," said Walden.


3/9 After 35+ years doing wildland fire, I'm having a real hard time understanding this discussion about the 18 SSWO being called "rules". Some one please help me!!

# 2 - "in country not seen in daylight": where is there an actionable item in that statement??
#14 - "weather becoming hotter and drier": again, where's the rule in that statement?
And so on for the other 16 SSWO's: things that are happening, changes in the weather conditions, or things relating to the firefighters, but not a single "rule that must be followed" in any of the 18.

I'll sure buy into the legal concept that the 10 SFOs are "rules" that must be followed, especially when any of the 18 SSWOs are recognized.

Now, back to the "legal beagles" for further clarification! Me, I'll hang out and talk to my favorite Golden Retriever!

3/9 vfd cap'n

I really don't want to get in between you an Mellie on the guideline issue with the Ten and Eighteen... but what the heck.. RH is 52 and temp is the mid 60's with light winds from the west and my ex-wife hasn't called to harass me all week.

I think the 18 can be considered guidelines or guidance because they instruct the firefighter to be alert to the 18 watch out situations so he or she can determine how or if safe fire line operations can be conducted. This determination is made by using a crosswalk of the guidance statements in the Standard Orders and as they apply to the Watch Out Situations.

My personal opinion is that these are only words...guidelines...guidance...rules... To me it boils down to what happens after consideration is given to the 18 cautionary statements. If the caution applies and is mitigated through LCES or the essential elements of the 10 Standard Orders... the book (and experience) tells us that much of the risk of firefighting can be reduced.

What if I'm constructing a short stretch of line downhill during spring green-up with weather conditions similar to what I listed above.

IF the 18 are considered rules I just violated the rule...but IF the 18 are guidelines... I have followed the guidelines by considering the Watch Out Situations...and in a deliberate and sequential way I implemented the Standard Orders systematically and applied them to my fire situation. Even though I'm constructing line downhill with the fire below me and there is a chance of rolling material ... I've determined, through experience and knowledge of the burning conditions, that I can safely complete the mission under the reduced risk doctrine of the 10 and 18.

An argument can be made as to the working definitions of deliberate...sequential...implement and systematically. From my own experience and SOPS these actions are internalized through experience, training and are contained in our District's Initial Attack plans and addressed in Incident Action Plans. I would bet that most of us base our fire line actions on the 10 Orders without really consciously knowing we even thought about them individually or in the same sequence. Personally I try to begin with number 6 unless it's a real rock and roller and I take a moment or two to stand in awe of the power of nature. I haven't wet myself yet so I believe I remained calm.

I can appreciate your commitment to safety vfd cap'n and would admit to splitting hairs between rules...guidance and guidelines. My philosophy is that I expect to be held accountable for my mistakes but I do not want bureaucratic interpretations from non-fire agencies or personnel determining the rules of engagement for myself or my crews.
The most common thread posted on this site is fire line safety and the consideration each of us should give to the 10, 18 and LCES. I'm pretty sure we both preach from the pulpit ... using all of the guidance and tools necessary to make sure that everyone working one of our fires understands our expectations of risk mitigation and aggressive firefighting.


Ab comment: OSHA and OIG were given the 10 and 18 as RULES of engagement- "we don't bend 'em we don't break "em." OSHA can fine the FS on findings related to "breaking the rules"; OIG can recommend further action against individuals with DOJ pursuing criminal charges. It's a critical distinction when it comes to the rule of law.

3/9 Dear Ab:

I was glad to see your clarify for the very concerned Firefighter that the issue is really not getting control of drug use by "Contract Crew Bosses" but about making sure that all fire resources work in a "Drug Free Environment". That is a clause in the contracts and reason for suspension so if this person was concerned they should have reported it to the safety office on the fire or gone to the company owner with those concerns.

We all know that all facets of the fire service have their problem children and that we must continually push through good example and peer pressure that this behavior is not acceptable anywhere in the work place.

I do not personally know of any contractor that would be willing to knowingly take that risk with a crew boss on the job.

NWSA Members mission is to provide a quality product to the agencies at a cost effective price to the taxpayers, and keeping SAFETY FIRST out there.

Debbie Miley
Executive Secretary

Thanks for that, Debbie. Ab.

3/9 very concerned contract fire fighter

Well..... I would say you have a responsibility to bring such information to someone's attention that will actually do something about it. Yes some company owner might turn a blind eye as they profit from it, but those are the "contractors" we can do with out. More often than not these contractors have had problems on many previous fires and not had a contract pulled. COs and contracts are getting stiffer but separating the good from the bad is not as easy as it sounds.

Most every wildland firefighting agency or company have had problems at some point, This is a national problem in our society and it is not that you have had this happen but how you have dealt with it. Some contractors may not screen their higher up as much because their SRBs have come through the ranks and proved themselves as drug free responsible people. Drug screens are an expense and a good contractor may not want to waste money on people they know will pass?. There are many rules involved in what you can and cannot do.

On the subject the FS does not drug screen anyone except law enforcement (as far as I have been told) BLM ? anybody know? Anyone here rumor of some Ranger Districts where the drug use is more prevalent than others. Shot crews disbanded for drug use? This is a problem for us all. And will take us all to make it better.


I will only reply to the last paragraph. No drug testing is required of FS crews, although Class B drivers are randomly tested and occasionally there are failures. In the past 29 years there's no hotshot crew that's been stood down due to drugs (or alcohol). My experience and the experience of everyone I've consulted on this -- on a fire there's zero tolerance of drugs or alcohol. On a ranger district any drug issue is immediately addressed, usually bringing in HR to follow appropriate guidelines and Law Enforcement when indicated, but it is addressed and action is taken. We ALL need to do our part. Ab.

3/9 At this time, the Ca. Dept of Forestry is planning to uncover each S2T
tanker one day a week in order to save money. In 1992, the CDF
uncovered one tanker at the foothill bases, (cost savings) with
disastrous results. Several fires escaped the initial attack stage with
the Gulch Fire the most notable. This fire grew to 18000+ acres with
over 40 homes lost. If one tanker was not removed from the mix...the
fire would have easily been stopped during the initial attack phase. It
is next to impossible to quantify what "did not burn" because resources
are in place.....but once the fire goes ballistic, those add up quick.
In my opinion, taking an air tanker out of the resource list is asking
for disaster.

In the Federal system, it looks like the P-3 aircraft will be flying as
well as a swarm of single engine air tankers, (SEAT). In the past, we
have not seen a lot of SEATs in California, but we may see more this
year. The helicopter program continues to grow. We will see more type
1 contracts and the usual mix of type 2 and 3 ships.

Bottom line....if your plan is dependant on aircraft, reevaluate your
plan!! They may be there right now, but as the resource is scarce, they
may not be there when you need them the most due to divert!

3/9 Abs,

Retired L.A.V.E. asked about Air Tankers. The attachment contains
talking points sent out by the Public Affairs Specialist USDA Forest
Service, Fire & Aviation Management, National Interagency Fire Center
on February 4th of this year.


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


Background: In 2004, the Forest Service terminated contracts for 33 airtankers due to concerns about the airworthiness of firefighting aircraft. After a review of individual airtankers by DynCorp, the Forest Service and BLM returned eight P-3 Orion aircraft to service last summer. Two additional P2V aircraft were also returned to service to collect operational load and maneuvering stress data.

  • Over the years, we have increased the numbers of helicopters and single engine airtankers (SEATS) in firefighting support. In 2002 for example, the fixed wing airtanker fleet was delivering only about 20% of all suppressants, including retardant, foam, and water.
  • The optimum mix of fixed and rotor wing aircraft is determined by the characteristics of each fire. Both tools are valuable in fire management missions.
  • We are confident that we have the assets in place or available to respond to the air support needs of the ground firefighters.

Key Fleet Components:

  • Heavy airtankers
    • The request for proposals (RFP) was released on 1/28/05. Bid opening is scheduled for February 22nd. The contract asks for bids for 10 aircraft for 180 days, five aircraft for 140 days, and 5 aircraft for 100 days.
    • The Forest Service has purchased and paid for installation of Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS), Operational Load Monitoring Equipment in all activated airtankers as addition safety and data gathering elements.
    • Large airtankers will continue to be downloaded by 15% by weight of retardant as part of the contract.
    • Eight to nine P-3 airtankers are expected to be available.
    • Two P2V airtankers and one DC-7 could be returned to limited service collecting operational loads data for the aerial firefighting mission.
    • The Forest Service is contracting for additional engineering work to determine if an operational service life for the P2V and Douglas airtankers (DC-4, DC-6, DC-7) can be developed.
    • The operational service life is expressed in how many hours an aircraft can be safely flown according to the Original Equipment Manufacturer and takes into account the stresses imposed on the airframe during different flight maneuvers.T
  • Type I Helicopters - Six type I helicopters are planned. Additional aircraft are available on Call When Needed contract and can be converted to exclusive use as the need arise. Using CWN contracts is a cost saving measure.
  • Type II Helicopters - Up to 24 Type II helicopters are expected to be available through regional contracts.
  • Cooperative agreements with State and Interagency partners includes additional CL 215 and 415 airtankers and SEATS.
  • Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) - Eight MAFFS units are available for use in military C-130 aircraft.
3/9 The Marre Fire was on the Los Padres during late September, early October 1993.

Thanks, MJ, for filling in the details and being willing to share your experiences. Glad
you got out OK. You are so right about the incident being downplayed. I saw at least
two of the engines with a safety officer who took photographs. Almost nothing was
said back in camp, and the crew was "just fine."

I had forgotten the location of the engine burnover because, in my memory, the terrain
just doesn't look right for the LP.

Seems like this occurred after a day or so when the fire hadn't grown significantly. The
morning after the burnover, I ran into someone on the way to the AM briefing who
said the fire had burned that night like it was mid-afternoon.

I am curious about what is generating the current interest ...

Still Out There as an AD

3/9 Re the Marre Fire burnover:

The Marre fire burnover was a mixed strike team of 3 Six Rivers Engines, 1 Yosemite NPS engine, and 1 MNF engine, with an Angeles WT there also. It happened at 0200 in the morning on the Catway road. I do know the (Retired) STL's name, because I was there in one of the engines. One engine had major engine damage from an ember being sucked down the air filter, 2 engines had shattered windshields, my engine melted the light bar off, and shattered windshield. One person was so freaked out after the incident he went to a psychiatric hospital for a while. We had been working nightshift for days and had not seen the Div at daylight.

The DIVS was supervising 2 divisions with a trainee, and they were gone to their other division when it happened. A spot fire in the supposedly "clean Burn" area downhill from the road started burning up toward the road, so we moved the engines up to a small safety zone, had a quick briefing, took WX, and started backfiring back toward the north along the main road with 5 SRF folks. (I was one of them). The fire coming uphill jumped up into the crowns and roared uphill toward the engines and us, we started firing as fast as we could down the road away from the engines to the north, at a dead run. we made it out of the way when the main fire front hit the engines, and we didn't know if the engines made it out or not at the time.

The folks inside the engines deployed shelters inside the cabs, and pressed them up against the heat shattered windows, and the fire front took over an hour as it hit from 3 sides. Due to trees falling and smoke covering the road, it would have been impossible for the engines to get out of there. After 2 hours, the flaming front had passed, and the engines that would start moved north to a safe area on the road. Buses came up from camp, along with an ambulance, and returned everybody to camp. The next morning, we didn't know what to do, as the team was acting like nothing happened. After several serious complaints and threats from us and the other affected engine crews, the team grudgingly agreed to get us to CISD. They took us to a hotel, and in the morning, gave us a 30 minute stress debriefing, and rushed us back to camp. We waited 3 days for our engine to have the windows replaced and be checked out, and got asked if we wanted to go home or stay. Our engine, and a few more, stayed on the fire to finish out our tour, although they did give us day shift.

The Marre Fire Entrapment has been written up in a binder-size document, but nothing ever came of this because it "embarrassed" the IC team, and copies of the report are very scarce now.


Ab question: where? and how long ago?

3/9 i have a concern.

having worked in the private contract world, ive seen some bothersome things. it seems that the crews are now being drug tested, which is all fine and dandy, but ive worked for a crew boss for three years that my old company has known was using meth the whole time. numerous members of the crew have seen him inject himself. when the crew members informed the management of the company the people who gave the info were black balled and told they would "never fight fire again". ive since switched companies this year, to a company which follows standards it says it sets, my only concern is why the low level guys are getting all the drug tests while crew bosses are being hid as soon as an accusation is made. no testing no concern and no thank you for following what we are supposed too, the rules of safe fire fighting.

in all my years on the line a spun crew boss has never been what i'd call safe. so here i am now putting up this post. i want it to be anonymous so i can actually keep fighting fire, but someone has to do something to take control of the rampant abuse of drugs by CONTRACT CREW BOSSES! the crews get tested, and its time the bosses get tested out the door.

but wait, theres more. the company i was working for is going to use this boss again this year, after all he makes them money, but whats going to happen when someone dies? will everyone act surprised and say they didnt know he was using? i bet they will. i left out all names because the people involved know who they are.

thank you for your time.
a very concerned contract fire fighter.

This is not an accusation against all contract crews or the contract industry. Concerned, thank you for having the guts to stand up. Ab.

3/9 AW;

Check out www.westcoastshoe.com Great boot! Solid company. They've been
making logging boots for 85 years. I've got two pair. (for rebuild rotation)
I'm in love with my custom fit, 14 inch, lace-to-toe Jobmasters. The
Jobmasters come in a multitude of options and heights, as well as, regular,
lace-to-toe and semi lace-to-toe lasts. They have a fire boot called the
Firestormer with Kevlar thread and special vibram sole for fire, that I have
not tried. The base price of the Jobmaster is $297, and the Firestormer runs
$349 without options. Rebuild price is $175+s/h. As a rappeller I got just
under two seasons between rebuilds. Hotshot's would probably get less due to
mileage. My handcrafted, custom fit 14 inch Jobmasters fit like a glove out
of the box. In fact they went to a fire with me the first day I put them on
without a single break-in issue. They do weigh more than a similar pair of
White's, but I could only tell if I had one in each hand. For the price,
performance and company support, I'll be wearing WestCo's long after I'm
done on the line.


"If you don't think too good, don't think too much!" (unknown)
quote from jumper lounge at BAM AAB
3/9 Ab, the Calif. DOG does not have an office type address. I am on the Board of Directors of the Southern Cal. DOG. Please give out my home address and I'll get the correspondence to the proper person. <snipped address>

We have a great group of dedicated guys, both Agency and Contractors. We meet once a year at various Fire Depts. that have heavy equipment. We stress Safety, and try to get standard safety equipment carried on the dozers. This includes SCBAs, fire curtains, blankets, backpack pumps, and firing tools. We have chapters in both North and South in Calif., Oregon, Nevada, Arizona. Feel free to contact me for any info. you need.

VNC Dozer 3......

I passed the info on. Ab.

3/9 There was a persuasive presentation at the R5 Chief Officers Mtg from the Forest Service
IA Fire Dozer Group under the Mobile Fire Committee.

Presenter was Mike Cherry (try the FS lookup for email addy) and Rocky Oplinger was/is
a big supporter.

Said the dozer operators are a changing face:

  • there are 17 Type 2 dozers (DC6) across the region
  • with winches, grippers, blade, foam unit on EID;
  • with communications, cell phones, laptops;
  • cost $15 per hour, no availability rates, only paying mileage (most modules are 26/0
    available all year long, no extra inspections if you order them);
  • quals/training - module is up and trained with certs from dozer IA up to OPS2;
  • they're following ICS, Rx, agency policy and procedure.
  • Future:
    • building lessons learned website for dozer captains
    • they're embracing apprentices as swampers
    • building a CD for each forest with hazards
    • creating an accomplishment reporting system for next year
    • goal is to have 2 operators/dozer with 24 hr operational capacity on incidents

    That's all.
    Dozer Fan

3/9 Get ready for a banner year possible all of our south slope burn units are
out we are going to burn north and west slopes and even they are a bit
crunchy, also look at eastern Oregon DRY!

SWO Fuels Monkey

Significant Precipitation equals 0.50 inch or more in western Oregon
or 0.25 inch or more in central and eastern Oregon during a 48 hour period.
Date:                Days Since
3/8/05               Significant
----------Zone 601----------
Astoria                    6
Jewell                    28
Newport                   29
Mapleton                  28
----------Zone 602----------
Dixie Mtn                 28
Lees Camp                 28
Scoggins                  48
----------Zone 603----------
Laurel Mtn                 6
Summit                    28
Eugene                    22
----------Zone 605----------
Gresham                   48
Scotts Mills              22
Mehama                    22
----------Zone 606----------
Foster Dam                22
Upper Soda                22
Quartzville Cr.           37
Lookout Pt                22
----------Zone 607----------
Bonneville Dam            29
Three Lynx                22
----------Zone 608----------
Detroit Dam               22
Cougar Resvr.             22
Hills Cr. Dam             22
----------Zone 609----------
Hood River Ag             28
----------Zone 610----------
Bend                      15
----------Zone 615----------
North Bend                 6
Powers                     7
----------Zone 616----------
Roseburg                  15
Riddle                    15
Tiller                    15
----------Zone 617----------
Steamboat R.S.            22
Toketee  Falls            57
Date:                Days Since
3/8/05               Significant
----------Zone 618----------
Brookings                  6
----------Zone 619----------
Illahe                     6
----------Zone 620----------
Sexton Summit             15
Kerby                     15
Williams                  57
----------Zone 622----------
Butte Falls               57
Medford                   57
Emigrant Lk               71
----------Zone 623----------
Crater Lake N.P.          51
----------Zone 624----------
Klamath Falls             88
Lakeview                  15
----------Zone 630----------
Madras                    68
Redmond                   22
Prineville                15
----------Zone 631----------
Heppner                   67
Hermiston                 68
Pendleton                124
----------Zone 632----------
Ukiah                     48
Bates                     48
John Day                  88
----------Zone 633----------
Walla W.  (13SE)          22
La Grande                 22
Meacham                   15
Union                     22
----------Zone 635----------
Imnaha                    22
Enterprise                22
----------Zone 636----------
Burns                     68
----------Zone 638----------
Halfway                   15
Baker City                89
3/9 Mellie,

I don't think any judge or jury will buy the argument that the 10 & 18 are supposed to be just guidelines. No matter what the original intent, there's a reason we don't call them the Ten Occasional Suggestions or the Eighteen Situations that Whisper: "Observe with casual interest."

Ted Putnam tapped into a source of the problem when he wrote the following as part of his presentation to the 2001 IAWF Safety Summit:


"It would be very informative to come up with a list of the 10 that firefighter[s] are actually following as they perform their duties. What follows is my take on what the orders are in reality.

The Real Fire Orders:

1. Fight Fire Aggressively
2. Maximize Overtime
3. Keep other costs down
4. Promote self and crew image
5. Promote agency image
6. Shut up and butt out
7. Don’t say no
8. Red card ratings are more important than experience
9. Commit to an action and stay with it even if adverse changes occur
10. Reporting safety infractions will adversely affect your career

To the degree that the above follows the behaviors that are actually reinforced, it suggests a large gap between where we are and where we ought to be." --from http://www.iawfonline.org/summit/2001%20Presentations/proceedings/Ted%20Putnam.doc

I'm sure nobody likes the current investigative and legal climate. But, maybe this is the incentive needed to finally close the gap on firefighter safety.

vfd cap'n

3/8 Speaking of air tankers, what's up with the availability of air tankers for the up coming season. Has anything been worked out to get last years idle tankers certified and back on station? Does any one have a clue what the FAA and the aviation branch of the Forest Service are doing about them? What is the outlook for the number of air tankers that will fly?

I want to apologize to any that I offended last week with my posting. Because of all of the emails, it seems as if the very real threat of lawyers have drastically influenced the leadership and their role due the all of the legal ramifications of making a decision no matter how right or wrong. I view it as a sorry state of affairs, not only do you have to worry if you are making the right decisions and being concerned about firefighter safety but you have guy standing behind you ready to arrest you if you screw up. All of the Incident Commanders I have worked for stress safety and worry over their decisions that affect peoples lives. It's a mean world out there and in the job of fighting fires with all of its unpredictability only makes decision making that much harder.

Retired L.A.V.E.

I can't hold this one in, a Fire Line Lawyer would of course wear boots, they would have no souls, and a larger than average tongue. (really, really bad but I couldn't help myself.)

Good one. Ab.

3/8 boots boots boots boots... (say that like a hockey chant and it sounds much cooler)

I haven't tried out the White's, and I'll tell you why. I got a pair of Nick's the second year I was signed on to this gig, and I have been happy ever since. What sold me on them was how the boots treated my feet a couple of seasons ago when I took a dispatch to another part of my state and discovered that in that country, an engine is just another way to get to where you're parking so you can hike (and hike some more) into the fire.

The customer service by Nick's from day 1 was fantastic, and pair #1 is on its 3rd sole. Next week I'm going to be in Spokane for a conference and am getting my first ever pair of custom fit Nick's. My feet are giddy with joy.

3/8 Great news for those planning to attend the IAWF Wildfire Safety Summit in Missoula on April 26-28: on Thursday night April 28th at Missoula's historic "Wilma" theater, there will be a showing of the 1952 classic wildfire fighting film "Red Skies of Montana" in it's original 16mm format!

This is a great film, loosely based on the 1949 Mann Gulch fire, and not available anywhere on VHS or DVD because of ownership restrictions by 20th Century Fox.

John Maclean, author of "Fire on the Mountain" and son of author Norman Maclean who wrote the story of Mann Gulch in "Young Men and Fire" will be the Wednesday evening banquet speaker!

It will be shown courtesy of the Museum of Mountain Flying here in Missoula, which will also be open for post workshop tours on Friday, April 29th.

Join us in Missoula for the Safety Summit, and stay around on Thursday night for "Red Skies of Montana". Check out www.iawfonline.org/summit for more details.

Dick Mangan
3/8 I want to thank NWSA for the phenomenal support they showed the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at their conference in Reno last week. The $32,000 that was raised by contractors, who didn't make any money last year, was outstanding. You can't imagine what that support means to the surviving families, and to us. The NWSA conference has historically been the most enjoyable and most fun event we get to attend each year. Everyone is so open-hearted, and open-handed, in their support of the Foundation and wildland firefighters. Thank you.

I also want to thank the R5 Chief Officers, Engine Captains, and Hotshots for the warm welcome they gave us at their Reno meeting. The Chiefs welcomed Heather DePaolo's (Stanza Fire 2002) mom and myself to the podium to share the Wildland Firefighter Foundation's story for the first time in person with that crowd. Mellie joined us on the podium in the Hotshots meeting. On the spur of the moment the whole group donated their pin sales money from last year and this year to the Foundation. Many joined the 52 club and more promised to get Incident Management Team members on board. Experiencing the Honor Guard and bagpipes was a high point. Truly a warm introduction all around. Thank you.

As you can imagine our message in both meetings was that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation can do many things to help families of fallen firefighters and can help injured firefighters. Above and beyond monetary awards, we arrange for and pay for plane flights and accommodations, set up and pay for counseling sessions, do research and network to find solutions. We are the wildland fire community's supportive hands when you need a hand. With cash awards, we are your funnel, the conduit for your donations to support each other and our fire families in time of need.

Both conferences were truly magical. It was wonderful meeting everyone. Thank you for letting us serve you.

On another note, the five Hayman Fire families who lost children are in the middle of court and legal issues with the Ford Motor Company due to safety issues with the van that tipped over with terrible deadly consequences. The Ford cargo vans have proven to be unsafe and unstable. Please keep these families in your hearts as they begin another chapter in this very long journey.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks for your good work Vicki, Burk and Melissa. You're a gift to this community. We hope those fire families make their voices heard. Let us know if we need to write letters or contact congressional representatives.

Firefighters, as we begin another season, please be aware of the stability problems with top-heavy vans. I will go back through posts when I get a chance and pull together the warning information. We need to not let down our vigilance. Ab.

3/8 "djchief" submitted quotes from Charlie Drag-McLeod on your website. I'm a documentary producer making a film about firefighters. (I'd be happy to tell you more if you are interested.) Do you know if Mr. Drag-Mcleod is alive and how I may reach him if he is. If not, do you know who djchief is....and could I talk to him.


Char Woods
Documentary Development

<haw><haw><snort><snort><snort> This is a gen-u-i-ne request. Would Charlie Drag_McLeod and/or djchief please email Abercrombie.

3/8 Wildfire Reflections

Some noteworthy information about the approaching wildfire season has appeared in national news media. California and Florida sources reported about the possible threat of these blazes arising in areas not normally associated with wildfires. Officials from these states discussed the dangers of debris left behind by the hurricanes, floods, and mudslides on both sides of the United States during the past six months. They expressed concern about too many piles of dead trees, branches, and other combustible material that still remain in many areas. A U.S. District Forest Ranger in Florida said the debris caused by "hurricane blowdown" might fuel a wildfire that could burn intensely and quickly spread to nearby residential and commercial areas.

The EMR-ISAC reminds first planners and responders in these areas that terrorists or arsonists can capitalize on the vulnerabilities resulting from disastrous hurricanes, floods, mudslides, or any other natural disaster. Extremists could attempt to create catastrophic fires from the unattended debris as a means of attack or diversion. Therefore, involved communities and their emergency responders can consider controlled burns of remaining debris as an active and cost-effective prevention measure.

More information about wildfires can be obtained at the U.S. Fire Administration website using the following link: www.usfa.fema.gov/subjects/wildfire/safetyinfo.shtm.

On another topic:
Independent Study Courses

There are four independent study courses that are immensely useful for Emergency Services Sector leaders and practitioners of critical infrastructure protection. These courses are available online through the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) Virtual Campus:
* IS-100, Introduction to Incident Command System
* IS-200, Incident Command System, Basic
* IS-700, National Incident Management System, an Introduction
* IS-800, National Response Plan (NRP), an Introduction

Due to an overwhelming demand for these courses, users may experience access problems and technical difficulty. The highest utilization time for students on the NETC Virtual Campus is from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST. The help desk is processing requests as quickly as possible and work is ongoing to resolve any problems. Students may wish to access the system during non-peak hours. The NETC senior staff appreciates the patience and cooperation of all users.


3/8 Rogue Rivers:

Thanks for the primer on appointments - complicated (as expected), but helpful!


You are asking two questions at once regarding AARs - one about policy and one about practice. Policy/doctrine is currently in flux - as there is an interagency group looking at all references guiding the use of the AAR tool.

Practice - you describe one approach to AAR (an informal, undocumented tool). However, not the only approach, and definitely not the approach of the U.S. Army who invented the AAR. I would definitely recommend the information on AARs at the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center's website www.wildlandfirelessons.net to help answer your questions. Be sure to check out the excerpt from David Garvin's book "Learning in Action" that's posted there. I'd also recommend the book "Be, Know, Do" by Eric Shinseki - basically a commercial version of the Army's leadership manual. Author is former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Sign me,
3/8 My friends, Here's what I've discovered from research and talking with people at the R5 Chief's meeting. If anyone knows better, correct me.

As I wrote this I found myself offering my opinion interspersed between points that I believe to be facts. To separate the two, I have put the my opinion comments in italics except at the end where it's clear I am making suggestions.


My "Take" on the ICT3 Situation Resulting from the First OIG Investigation
into Firefighter Deaths


This also applies to ICT2s and ICT1s, OPs chief, division supts, hotshot crew bosses, handcrew bosses, dozer bosses, engine captains, helitack and helibase managers, etc, anyone that Rax would call an "engagement specialist" or an overseer of an engagement specialist. (See also my former research on the legal processes following law congress passed relating to the Thirtymile Fire fatalities.)

What we know for sure:

Whenever there's a death on the fireline of a Forest Service managed fire, there will be

  • the usual Forest Service investigation which is "administrative" (I believe this is basically an investigative "accident report". Without redactions imposed by the lawyers, such investigations are excellent.)
  • the mandatory OSHA investigation which is "administrative" and aimed at the entire fire organization
  • a mandatory investigation by the Inspector General's Office (OIG or IG) which explores possible criminal cause and effect.

    This last investigation - which can lead to criminal charges being brought against individual employees for the death(s)- is a result of a law created by Congress following the Thirty-mile tragedy (Public Law 107-203 enacted 7/24/02). Participation of the OIG first occurred in response to the Cramer Fire tragedy. Prior to that neither the Forest Service nor individual firefighters nor OIG nor Department of Justice (DOJ) had any experience with this legal situation. You could say it's a precedent-setting case. (In addition, I believe that the IG usually deals with fraud, misuse of government funds and the like; heretofore loss of life investigations have been handled by the FBI. Thus, as I understand it, the process is fairly new to both OIG and DOJ.)

    I added DOJ into this step because DOJ - with appointed US Attorneys like the one who spoke in Reno - must pursue OIG's recommendations if the State Grand Jury will not. OIG/DOJ investigates and prosecutes on behalf of the fallen, so their function is prosecutorial. DOJ's purpose, like the State Grand Jury's purpose is to look at causal factors for the death to determine if there is enough "legal cause" to bring a person or persons to trial for the death. Given the charges they expect to pursue, DOJ may or may not have enough evidence to go all the way to trial, just as a Grand Jury may not. In some cases, if not all cases, they go as far as the process allows - such as they did in prosecuting the Cramer ICT3. In that case, they took it as far as offering a him a Pretrial Diversion, which is considered an "adequate non-criminal remedy". Deciding to take a "deal" is a personal decision usually based on resources at the potential defendant's disposal to fight the threat of criminal charges or the actual charges if they are brought. No criminal charges were brought against the Cramer Fire ICT3 as a result of him agreeing to the Pretrial Diversion.

    The violations of "rules" or policies that OIG/DOJ is looking for are violations of the 10 Fire Orders and failure to mitigate the18 Watchout Situations, plus failure to perform other job-related checklists which might be causal factors leading to the firefighters' deaths. When policy for rules and checklists exist (i.e., mandatory directives), they can investigate people for violating any of them to determine if they're causal factors. They can take people all the way to trial, a jury can find them guilty and send them to jail, although the US Attorney who spoke in Reno is quick to say that hasn't happened yet. (No one told the OIG/DOJ that the 10 & 18 are all GUIDELINES. No one told them that there is no FS firefighter manager out there who intends anything but having their people have a safe assignment and come home to their families at the end of the day. No one told them that in high risk jobs sh*t happens and rational psychological processes can get hijacked by hot cognitions in spite of the best of human intentions. They need to read Deep Survival... They don't have a clue!)

One final kind of suit that may be brought is a civil suit ("tort") brought by the family of the fallen firefighter against the individual employee or against the Forest Service if the FS chooses to act on behalf of the employee.

For the rest of Mellie's long informational post, please check HERE.

3/8 If some of you would comment on and/or direct to stated policy on After
Action Reviews. Specifically, I am wondering about the anonymity aspect
of AARs.

I have been under the impression that AARs are an informal session where
we can learn from each other what went well and what went bad. I have
been hearing that AARs are being documented, in some cases extensively,
as a common practice. In my mind documenting AARs dissuades people
from being completely open as to what is really happening.

3/8 HI Ab,

This is a seminar that is being given tomorrow regarding the Cedar Fire Engine 6162 Crew Entrapment, Fatality, and Burn Injuries:

The Novato Fire District Investigative Report
Date: March 9th, 2005
Time: 0930-1230hrs
Location: Barbara Morse Wachford Community and Aquatic Center
9014 Bruceville Rd.
Elk Grove, CA 95758
Contact Information: Mandy Campanario (916-686-5140) or mandycampanario@egcsd.ca.gov

Subject: Chief Jeff Meston and Retired Chief Dan Northern bring a dynamic Audio/Visual presentation that will take us through the events leading to the burnover, as well as lessons learned about:

*Fire Behavior
*Training and Experiences
*Policy and Tactics
*Human Factors

There is no cost to attend this presentation.


Elk Grove is South of Sacramento off Hwy 99.

3/8 Lisa,
I'm not aware of Tanker 00 going down, I checked Aero-Union's site www.aerounion.com/, Aero-Union operates Tanker 00, a P3 Orion, I also checked AAP's tanker memorial site. No P-3's went down in 2003. A P2V (Tanker 99?) was the only tanker listed as lost in 2003.

DR Boots
Thanks for the comments on the boots, I personally haven't had problems with my Whites but I've heard Nick's customer service is better, now seeing that Nick's has become a sponsor on this site, I think I'll go ahead and try a pair.

3/8 Hey, is anyone else out there more that a little nervous about these stories
about us having to fill out acquisition forms on everything we order on incidents
this season?

Worried Dispatcher

More unreasonable expectations given time factors, priorities on incidents? Ab.

3/8 Before a rumor or two runs amok, Tanker 00 did not crash in 2003 or any
other year. It is still in the possession of Aero Union Corp., although it
is the only one of their P3's which did not resume flying during the 2004
fire season. I don't know the details but it was found to have wing cracks
during the 2003 fire season and was grounded. During the Southwest fire
season it usually flew fires out of Arizona air tanker bases, so probably
did see duty on fires around the Apache/Sitgreaves NF.

In early October, 2003, Tanker 99, a P2V operated by Minden Air, did crash
while on approach to San Bernadino Air Tanker Base after working on a fire
on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The crew did not survive. That air
tanker also saw extensive duty throughout the Southwest Area during 2003,
and could have easily worked fires on the A/S.

Snake Air

Thanks for the correction. I hadn't heard of that crash either. Ab.

3/8 I've updated the Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist).


3/8 Lisa,

T-00 is alive, well and probably sitting on the ground in Chico, CA as we
"speak". The only tanker to go down in 2003 was T-99 in San Bernardino.
While they had a similar paint scheme T-00 is a P3 Orion owned by Aero
Union in Chico and T-99 was a P2V owned by Minden Air Corp. in Minden, NV.
Hope that helps to clear things up.


Thanks BDF. Ab.

3/8 We're pleased to announce that NICKS BOOTS is sponsoring all the handcrews photos pages. They also have a permanent link on our classifieds page.

Thanks to Nicks for supporting this wildland fire website. Click through and take a look at the boots they have to offer.


3/8 Lisa,

Here's the list www.airtanker.com/memorial.php.

If you don't find the info there, you can ask at the AT message board.
Click Commo in the header. There's no longer a direct link due to
problems with spammers. Occasionally you have to use a password.

There's a photo of T-00 at the Gibble Fire from some years ago.

NWSA members!!!

Thank you, thank you for your extremely generous donations to the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation! I heard you raised $32,000 with
your dinner and auction. WOW!

To the friends and family of Henry Hobbs -

I am so sorry for your loss.


3/8 Once again, it is my sad duty to report the loss of another wildland

Henry Hobbs
Age: 37
Cause of Death: Stress/Exertion
Rank: Senior Forest Ranger
Nature of Death: Heart Attack
Status: Career
Emergency Duty: Yes
Incident Date: 02/21/2005
Duty Type: Fireground Operations
Incident Time:
Activity Type: Cutting Fire Breaks (Wildland)
Death Date: 02/21/2005
Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

Fire Dept. Info:
Florida Department of Forestry, Jacksonville Division
7247 Big Oaks Road
Bryceville , Florida 32009
Chief: District Manager Bruce Hill

Initial Summary:
Senior Forest Ranger Hobbs had responded to two wildfires on 02/21/2005 and
had complained of some pain and a burning sensation in his chest prior to
going off duty. Hobbs went home where he collapsed from an apparent heart
attack. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Memorial Fund Info:
C/o Florida Department of Forestry, Jacksonville Division, 7247 Big Oaks
Road, Bryceville, FL 32009
Telephone: 904-266-5001
Fax: 904-266-5081

Sean Kassebaum
Telecommunications Specialist
National Forests in Alabama

Condolences. Ab.

3/8 Hi,

I am working on a pastel painting of the 00 air tanker. I took a photo of it
on a fire in the A/S Black Mesa Ranger District in 2003 while fighting fire there.
It went down later that season. If you know who the crew was and can give
me that info and any info on the crash I would appreciate it very much.

Thank you,
Lisa Bartley
3/8 to whom it may concern

my name is pat malson and i am a member of a small emergency services in Wyoming. and we are looking for a general standard operating procedure and was hoping you could help us. you can call me at 307-262-9783 or email me at Pat_malson@anadarko.com or you can contact our chief at danny_morse@anadarko.com
Thank you for your time and information.

Patrick j. malson
salt creek emergency services
Midwest, Wyoming

Here's where to start, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. The 310-1 contains all the regs for everyone but California which uses the 5109.17 with more stringent standards. Ab.

3/8 Casey and all who believe,

First off I want to say that I am proud of Casey Judd for all of the hard work done in benefit for our wildland brothers and sisters. I am proud of the folks that believe in better pay, REAL benefits and a better life in the fire service. I know from being on a hotshot crew, Forest service engine and other various jobs, that you the FIREFIGHTERS aren't getting what is very much deserved. I have watched myself with many others leave the one job that they love the most because our so called leaders have truly let them down and don't support a FIREFIGHTER SERIES. Call it what you want, a series, a grade, portal to portal ect..... They do not and will not support it and will do everything in their power to stop it. I for one think "Q" was and is a used car salesman. I for one think that Blackwell couldn't pass the pack test with a 50 mph wind behind him, nor could he run a initial attack fire for more than 5 minutes at best. So, my question? Why did they or do they have any right to speak for or on behalf for any wildland firefighters at any level? I have sat through captains workshops in Reno in total amazement of the BS that was being pumped into us. Do they really think that a bonus retention would keep a employee around that is tired of being treated like a mushroom? (in the dark and fed #$%@)? I have had and still do have alot of bitterness about poor management, lies told and giant deficits that somehow get skimmed back to the RO or WO levels (or New Mexico, city to be kept a secret). Like it or not Jack, or if yer still there Ray Q, R-5 is a fire department now, it will be forever. Start paying your folks or you will keep feeding the Fire Departments your people. You the management have already lost the battle for trust, keep it up and you might lose all of your FIREFIGHTERS. P.S. Good Job Casey and all who Believe

Sign me, Hate the Game and not the player
3/8 California Dozer Operators Group


My husband is a member of the California DOG. We are searching for a
mailing address for them, might you be able to provide one? Please help
out if you can.

Thank you,

Mrs R McA

Anyone got that addy? Ab.

3/8 GG Fire,

There are many different types of appointments in the federal service. Hopefully this will address what you are looking for.

Career Appointments / Career Conditional Appointments

A career appointment confers permanent status. Employees with career status have the greatest possible job protection during a Reduction-in-force (RIF). Since employees with career status are in a higher retention group, career employees whose jobs are abolished can "bump," or take the jobs of, any career-conditional employee, provided the career employee is fully qualified for the job. Having career status also gives you permanent reinstatement eligibility should you leave the Federal Service. This means that you may be considered for re-employment in the Federal service without competing with the general public.

Career and Carreer Conditional Seasonal Appointments

A career seasonal position is often termed a "WAE" position. Depending on the Agency, the title may be 13/13, 18/8, or 6 Month WAE, or 9 Month WAE.

Temporary Appointments

An appointment is considered temporary if it lasts one year or less and has a specific expiration date. Agencies use this type of appointment when there is no need for a permanent employee. Temporary appointments are used to:

1. fill short-term positions (not expected to last more than 1-year), or
2. to meet an employment need that is scheduled to be terminated for such reasons as abolishment, reorganization or contracting of the function, anticipated reduction in funding, or completion of a specific project or peak workload, or
3. to fill positions on a temporary basis when the positions are expected to be needed for placement of permanent employees who would otherwise be displaced from other parts of the organization.

Agencies may make an exception to the general time limit for temporary appointments to positions involving intermittent or seasonal work. These appointments may be extended up to a maximum of one additional year or extended indefinitely as long as the extensions are for one year and the employment does not exceed six months (1,040 hours) in a service year.

Most temporary appointments are filled through the open competitive examination process. However, an agency can give a temporary appointment, without competition, to individuals who fall under these categories: reinstatement eligibles, qualified Peace Corps employees, 30% disabled veterans and veterans eligible for a veteran's readjustment appointment.

What types of benefits can you expect under a temporary appointment:

* leave
* Social Security, and
* unemployment compensation.

However, current law "does" allow temporary employees to purchase health insurance, with "no" government contributions, after they have served one year of temporary service. Temporary employees are not eligible to participate in the Federal Government Life Insurance Program (FEGLI) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).
Term Appointments

An appointment is considered term if it lasts more than one year, but does not exceed four years. Agencies use this type of appointment when they have special projects, extraordinary workloads, the position is scheduled to be abolished, the agency is reorganizing or they may be contracting out the jobs function.

OPM may authorize an agency to fill a vacancy by term appointment when there is an insufficient amount of eligibles to fill the vacancy in a position that will last for more than one year. It must also be in the best interest of the public to fill the vacancy before eligibles can be certified.

Most term appointments are filled through the open competitive examination process. However, as with temporary appointments, an agency can give an appointment, without competition, to individuals who fall under these categories:

* reinstatement eligibles
* veterans eligible for a Veterans Readjustment Appointment (VRA), and
* 30% disabled veterans.

What types of benefits can you expect under a term appointment? Basically, term employees receive the same benefits as a permanent employee, including:

* health insurance
* life insurance
* within-grade increases
* Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and
* Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) coverage.

Rogue Rivers
3/8 Ab,

Displaced SW Dispatcher now at NOPS asked about a drip torch pointer. I think it was Hillbillie who had that. ...Hick ya out ther and listenin???? It was kinda cool as I had it on my old PC, but was lost when I got a new one. ..and of course at my day job the computer Nazis' barely let you turn your computer on and off by yourself let alone adding anything jazzy.


P.S. by the way Hick...visited your site looking to see if it the drip torch pointer was on it. First time Ive visited in a while...MY Gawd, change your background!! I had to go get sunglasses to keep from going blind!! ....all in good natured fun of course.

3/8 Ab,

Here is just a quick note for all the California BLM fire guys. The National office is trying to take away the SCBA program. But little do they know that California is a very much diverse and complicated state to be a WFF in we do not just do wildland fires but the national office thinks that is all we need to do. So if any of you want to I suggest a letter of concern go out to FWFSA and just in case they want to give us a little help maybe CSFA and IAFF because its your lungs guys and gals and the National office does not really care. I think the best part is there money quotes they think a fully equipped SCBA with spare bottle costs $6000.00 what a crock I would not spend that much on 3 units. If anybody wants to read the email from Ca state office to the National office it should be in lotus notes somewhere!

3/7 C.L. James:

With many thanks to SW AREA Predictive Services, try this web site for RH/DP Tables:


3/7 C. L. James

You can find the Relative Humidity tables and tons of more useful information on
the Southwest Area Wildland Fire Operations website. In my opinion this may be
the finest GACC web page in the country! Go to www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/ then click
on Fire Behavior on the left side.

Tom Jones
Also from Ellensburg WA
3/7 Does anyone know of a web site where one can get replacement R.H. and Dew point tables at?

C.L. James
Crew Boss
Ellensburg, WA.
Lobotomy here.... since several folks have been sharing what they feel is necessary for a "wildland fire" education, I thought I'd share what my degree field is. My degree field is Fire Science and is not recognized by the 0401 standard. I have worked for the wildland feds for 22 years and my degree field is directly relevant to the positions that I currently hold and will hold in the future... but the words "Fire Science" are taboo to many ologists in the Agencies.... I am not saying that other degrees are not important to the wildland fire community... I am saying that "Fire Science" is very important in a mixed complexity/responsibility career as a wildland firefighter. Agriculture, Biology, Natural Resources, and Forestry should not be the only "Natural Sciences" that qualify for 0401.

The student who graduates with a major in fire science will be able to:

  • Recognize the legal basis for public safety responsibility and product liability.
  • Explain fire fighting and disaster planning as practiced in other parts of the world.
  • Write reports and make presentations of the quality expected by senior management.
  • Use computer technology to inform and enhance operational and strategic management decisions.
  • Use current information technology to access relevant managerial and educational resources worldwide.
  • Develop a comprehensive hazardous materials management program, including pre-incident planning, on-site emergency response, and post-incident analysis and investigation.
  • Apply skills in analysis and evaluation to complete fire-risk assessment.
  • Apply project management strategies to design disaster and fire-defense planning.
  • Apply design principles to detect, control, and suppress fires in buildings and other structures and use fire modeling to analyze fire propagation.
  • Apply a systems analysis approach to solving problems of incendiary-fire investigation and fire protection.
  • Apply risk assessment methods to analyze pre- and post-occurrence factors.
  • Apply skills in human resource management to deal with the psychological effects of emergency situations.
  • Evaluate fire-prevention techniques, procedures, programs, and agencies.
  • Think critically and constructively and perform research in fire science using appropriate quantitative and qualitative analytical tools to understand and evaluate fire and emergency situations and scenarios.
  • Apply analytical and problem-solving methods in resolving fire and other emergency problems and issues.
  • Analyze the domestic and global dimensions of fire science.
  • Develop effective written and oral communications consistent with the fire-service and related professional environment.
  • Understand and apply current computer applications and technology in the workplace.
  • Develop innovative leadership and team-management skills necessary for success in a diverse and changing workplace.
  • Apply appropriate information technology to analyze problems and issues, develop business research, report key data, and recommend management strategy and action plans.
  • Describe the history and development of theories and concepts in fire prevention and emergency management and their application to various situations.
  • Evaluate ethical, social, civic, cultural, and political issues as they relate to fire prevention and management, human resources and human factors, information systems, and governmental regulations.

Required Core Courses (15 s.h.)
Students must take the following core courses:

Supplemental Major Courses (15 s.h.)
Students must take five of the following courses:

Additional Required Coursework (3 s.h.)
To complete the general education requirement in computing, students must take one of the following courses:

The following courses are recommended; credit may be applied to general education or elective requirements, as appropriate.

Excellent point, Lobotomy. Ab.

3/7 Ab,

My thoughts exactly, I have found that some of the best training in Fire
Behavior is found in Rx Fire. We need to be doing more Rx projects if for
no other reason than training.

Thanks and be safe
3/7 Ab:

Could anyone give me a quick primer on the various types of appointments (and non-appointments) that exist in the Fed agencies (or direct me to a reference where this information is available)? I'm wondering about terminology for PFT appointments, currently terminology for less-than PFT appointments, current range of PST appointments (number of PP) etc. Any help appreciated. Thanks.

Sign me,
GG Fire
3/7 Anonymous- Wildfirefighter

At first read and very little bit of thought...

I see nothing wrong with instructors not meeting a 5 year currency standard for a number of the fire courses that are required. My caveat would be that the instructor would need to update their currency if the educational objective of the course changed so drastically that it could cause significant implications to the fire ground ... And on the ground experience is needed to have an operational feel for the new objective.

Instructors who haven't successfully walked the walk sometime in their career shouldn't be in the lead instructor role... in fact they should only be responsible for setting up the chairs and providing coffee.

I personally don't think we (as a fire industry that includes all agencies) could survive the brain drain in our qualified instructor pool adhering to the 5 year currency requirement at this time. I would rather see "leadership" auditing a high percentage of all required fire line courses to help determine if a person has the knowledge, skills and ability to teach the subject matter. I've attended S -courses with "current" instructors where they have failed miserably at connecting with the subject matter or students in a mentoring way. And without saying I've sat through courses with a mixture of "current and prehistoric" instructors and witnessed the light of enlightenment.

Anony...I think the question should be ...Are current instructors competent and qualified to teach the subject matter? Instead of... are instructors meeting a currency standard?

Good leadership is the answer. Adhering to bureaucratic requirements for training standards that don't make sense is, in my opinion, not the yardstick to use when determining if the objectives of the course can be met.

Sometimes I think all of the emphasis on training overshadows the need for experience.


PS: There are ways to increase the numbers of current instructors and experience levels at the same time... but unfortunately it would take money. And as we all know the money is there but the allocation isn't.

It's a funny world we live in... so it makes sense to me that humor should be the most common language used...Which reminds me... Did you hear the one about the Logistics Chief... Ground Support and Food Unit Leader that walked into a bar? Personally I would have expected one of them to duck. I've never felt much jocularity over pain and suffering but did find this joke amusing because, in my experience, you never see these three people together after the in-briefing...and certainly not acting with one mind and walking in the same direction.

Be safe

You gonna share that one with us? Ab.

3/7 Ab,

I couldn't agree with you more. Firefighter Safety HAS to be foremost on
all that we do, especially when conditions are extreme, and even evacuating
the public can be hazardous. What I am getting at is we need to have the
manpower and resources available to catch fires in the I.A. stage where the
exposure to risk is less than on a large goin and blowin fire. Not only
does this help keep us safe it helps keep costs down.

Wish that I could say see you in Oregon, but I doubt that I will be
allowed to go anywhere due to lack of coverage on the Home Unit.

Be safe

I'm in agreement and then use the forces to manage fuels in a variety of ways. Ab.

3/7 Ab, it’s great that more firefighters are being encouraged to talk to the media. That puts a real “face” on wildland firefighting, which is terrific for the nearby communities. It can also help with the series and pay issues.

Plus, I’ve known operations people who have become FIOs as well as FIOs, with no fire background, who have made it their business to learn fire: both make excellent FIOs. I just don’t think that the public or fire community is served very well when people who don’t know fire get up in front of a microphone.

Unless the laws have changed recently, the media in California can seek prosecution against anyone who they feel has blocked their access to a scene. Many reporters and photographers can be extremely cooperative, especially if you can demonstrate you have their interests in mind.

Keep in mind, that firefighters can’t always safely do their jobs and deal with the media. That’s why, from my viewpoint, we need FIOs with more actual fire training than is now required.

Still Out There as an AD
3/7 I couldn't believe it!

One suggestion the US Attorney had was that we made sure each ICT3 took along a safety officer whose duty it was to certify (a checklist recorder?) that each engine, crew, whatever had LCES in place. Gimme a break! Altho he sometimes lives on the socal interface, he's clearly never been on a socal goin and blowin fire. Knowledge of each crew's LCES has to change moment by moment in that kind of fire because the fire's position and your position are changing so quickly. Besides being impractical and downright impossible!! who'd want to do the job??? I wouldn't. The safety officer will be the new designated goat facing criminal charges when someone dies.

If he's talking about a Type 3 Team with a safety officer and an ICT3 and a few others, I ain't interested. It's unrealistic for how fires develop and take off in a bad season here! In a bad season with dry fuels, when fires start they go to Type 2 or Type 1 complexity almost immediately.

Safety Officer

3/7 The Greatest Good: A Forest Service Centennial Film

Website has the following:
1. Film Trailer
2. Ordering Process (Both the main film and other historical films - 3 DVD set)
3. Historical Photo and Comic Galleries
4. Press Releases
5. Screening Locations


3/7 Ab,

Months if not years ago .. instructions and "a driptorch as a pointer" were posted.. I down loaded to my laptop and loved it. Well I recently upgraded to a real computer... and love to get the drip torch back as my pointer arrow.. but can't figure it out.. (Not that much of a computer nerd). Looked all over the site cant seem to locate the instructions.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Displaced SW Dispatcher now at NOPS

We never have had a driptorch as a pointer, well not that I remember. Readers, any help? Ab.
3/7 AW,

I used white's for about 9 years they always fell apart. Poor stitching, poor material, craftsmanship, who knows. I have seen folks with brand new Whites 1 week after they put them on, the sole started to come off. I have personally have seen it happen 3 times once with my own pair. I have also "heard", that Whites Boots was over loaded with orders, so they began to use machines, mass production and if that was the case, I understand why their boots are starting to fall apart now. For the Money we pay for those, they shouldn't fall apart even after a hard 6 month on a shot crew.. Whites used to be good in my opinion, but I believe their true handmade boot was taken over by supply and demand and of course MONEY.

THE BREAKING POINT - After ordering a new pair of boots from Whites, I received a boot that would loose me as a customer. The first day I wore them and to begin the breaking period I noticed that my boots stank. Not like feet, It continued and I know that I don't have stinky feet. SO I called Whites and told them the situation and they told me that the leather wasn't properly cured during manufacturing process, and Whites told me to send them back, at the same time the width of my boot (EEE) was made to (E) foot. They told me to send them back and 3 month later, they still stank like rotten leather....and that was the last time I ever did business with them.

I began to use NICKS and was very very pleased with the service I received from them. I noticed that the stitching was thicker, the leather above the sole it thicker, and they use a higher quality grade leather, and they are all made with time and effort and good quality. I have noticed that they do last longer then what my Whites did. So you have one opinion whether it matters or not who knows, but I do know that my feet are very happy and I definitely got my moneys worth.


3/7 NorCal Tom,

Laurence Gonzales spoke to the R8 fireline group several weeks ago. Did he
ever open some eyes! The human factors information presented in the context
he presents is rather shocking. If you can't hear him speak, at least read his
book (Deep Survival) before the season begins.

3/7 Hey now!

Too Sad to Say said "As far as many of them are concerned places like Montana,
Arizona, and Nevada might as well be on the other side of the world."

We from Montana, Arizona and Nevada take issue. D.C. is on the OTHER SIDE

Steve LCES
3/7 Randy,

I took notes.
Rax basically asked the lawyer and the Agency,

"When are you going to distinguish between an ICT3 and an engagement specialist? I'm not an ICT3 and don't want to be one. I'm an "engagement specialist". As an engagement specialist I don't need an ICT3 to come check on me. I need to be able to pull up to the fire, engage the fire and go to work if it's safe to do so. It's up to me to engage the fire and decide if my crew goes to work. You can lead me to water but you can't make me drink. I go to work with the intent to keep people safe."

He added that the ICT3 needed to know where his engagement specialists are: the engine captains, hotshot supts, helo people. They all have specific jobs, they engage the fire, go to work and are doing it with the intent of doing the jobs safely and keeping their people safe.

He suggested that if Type 3 Teams are going to be what's happening, those in charge should be developing the structure of the Type 3 organization FAST so that all involved, the volunteer, and others can do their job duties as assigned.

Rax, Nice job.
I hope I got that right.

Is this something that points to Doctrine with Commander's Intent and Self Responsibility being several of the Principles? Seems like it.


PS There are some who do not think Type 3 Teams are the way to go.

3/6 Hey, nobody has asked about boots lately so...

I currently have a pair of White's Original Smokejumpers which I have been very happy with, but they really should be rebuilt which will leave me with no boots, I don't want to trust having them back for fire season at this late date and probably wouldn't have time to break them in anyway. I'm thinking about buying another pair of boots, I'm trying to decide whether to go with Whites again or give a pair of Nicks Hotshots a try, also whether to stick with the standard style laces or the lace to toe style.

If I stick with Whites I know I like them, on the other hand maybe I'd like something else even more, if I don't like the change I guess I at least have a decent pair of boots to wear during rebuilds of my current boots.

To sum up I'd like some help on one of these choices

1). Send in my Whites for rebuild and wear worn out Redwings until they return
2). Hold out for one season and hope they don't blow out
3). Buy another pair of Whites just like my current pair
4). Buy some Whites SJ lace to toe
5). Buy a pair of Nicks Hotshots
6). Buy a pair of Nicks HS lace to toe

So anyone want to sell me on one of these options? I'd really like some opinions from people who have some experience with both styles and/or brands. Please give some reasoning as well even if it is as simple as one brand / style is more comfortable to your foot. BTW I work on a FS Engine crew if that makes a difference.

3/6 310-1
a five year rule for instructors ?

at the recent nwsa meeting in Reno I heard from Alice Forbes, that instructors who have not been on a assignment in 5 years will still be allowed to teach as adjunct instructors. as she put it, this is a temporary fix. so she is speaking on the behalf of nwcg which mandates that instructors must be carded and have been on a assignment within the last 5 years - so I guess the nwcg can write its own rules and forget asking for input from the legal instructors who are qualified. if an instructor has not been on a assignment within 5 years, why should they teach as lead instructors? do they really know what's going on out there from watching cnn and not being there on the lines? what do think?

anonymous- wildfirefighter
3/6 After returning from the Reno Chiefs Conference, I had to submit this quote.

Benjamin Franklin was a leader when our country was undergoing revolution,
or what I like to call "Doctrinal Change". As the Forest Service embarks on
the process of Doctrinal Change, we must all get involved, get educated, ask
questions, and stay the course.

The wildland fire community is comprised of federal, state, and local
government firefighters. The community also is comprised of cooperators and
ADs. Each component in the wildland fire community has a place and purpose.

"We must all hang together, or we shall surely hang separately."
-- Benjamin Franklin


3/6 Thanks to FWFSA leadership and to Casey for keeping on task, sharing the truth,
paying attention to details and clarifying misperceptions. If we always do what
we've always done, we'll always get what we've always got. I say, let's do it
differently and persist, persist, persist.

Thanks to those who make the DC trek for all of us. Those who stay home, hop
on board!

Ab, who said that about always doing?

Tahoe Terrie

Quotes to Live By. Some good quotes there. Thanks for initiating that list, Backburnfs. Ab.

3/6 Ab, here's some news you may wish to post;

Last Friday, at about 1:30am, a fire was observed in the sign shop at Mountain Home Conservation Camp, a CDF/CDC fire camp in Tulare County. CDC woke up the two captains who were staying at the camp that night (me being one of them), and we managed to get the engine out of the bay and start putting water on the fire. I say it that way because the engine is in the same building, albeit at the other end, as the fire.

The fire was contained to the sign shop, but we lost, at least temporarily, all five buses in the garage due to fire or heat and smoke damage. Total loss is estimated at $500,000, mostly in the buses. The cause is still under investigation. There were not injuries. So, if any of you in Central California see some burnt CDF crew buses being taken down the highway on a flatbed, you know the reason why. Maybe I'll get some photos and send to you for inclusion in the Crews section in the galleries. Or the Equipment section. Or the "Oh S ## t!" section. If anyone has any other questions, I think CDF has a press release out, or maybe I can answer them here, dependent on our prevention policy, of course.


3/6 GEN Yer,

Im not quite sure whether you are pondering the moral
and ethical collection of unemployment insurance after
being laid off due to lack of work or how the states
unemployment regulations differ from state to state.

I say this because in my state, the Job Service
specifically states that you can collect unemployment
compensation if you know you are returning to work by
a specific date. Do you still have to look for able
bodied employment? Yes. Are they many jobs out there
that will employ (or hire) a career seasonal worker
for four months besides someone looking for X-Mas help
or a ski resort? Highly unlikely.

Many career seasonals that I know simply return to
work in the winter for an old employer on a part time
basis earning well under their summer wages and use
unemployment to compensate for the disparity. Since
many of them have wives and children, which they need
to provide for, I just dont see anything wrong with
this. Its part of the reason my state adopted their
specific unemployment insurance policy and worded the
regulations the way they did.

3/6 Lawrence Gonzales (Deep Survival) didn't make it to the R5 Chiefs Meeting due to
a family emergency. Does anyone know if he's going to talk at any other
fire meetings?

Ed Hollenshead, good presentation. Sometimes it takes a minute for the
questions to get thought out when talking of such heady stuff as doctrine
relating to principles, policy and performance
. It all happened a little too
quick for me.

Here's my thought. Those going through the modelmaking process should go
to one of the socal forests like the Angeles or San Bernardino and let the
firefighters take you along on medical aids, initial attack, etc. before you
sequester yourselves to create doctrine in an office or in your heads. I still
have visions of myself as the tall, slim, striding the wilderness firefighter-ranger
of days of yore, but it just aint so. We are a fire department with all that means
and we also fight fire in the forests IA, EA or suppression. We do it interfacing with
other fire departments. We do a dangerous job requiring split second decisions. Don't
rule out doctrine and policies that could apply to a more centralized fire (department)
organization within the Forest Service. Take a look at legal concerns of different
groups like engine capts and you'll see the reality of the fact we're already a fire

NorCal Tom

Ab, do you have a link to that proposal of how that more centralized org. could work?
Also, my spellchecker on this computer doesn't work. Could you check? Thnx.

More Centralized FS Fire Organization

Done on the spellcheck. We're talking with Laurence. We'll let you know what develops. Ab.

3/6 Thanks Betty and Rene, I did get the first name wrong. No Barbara! I'll be in touch.


3/6 What did Rax tell the lawyers?


3/5 I wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who attended the recent R5 Division Chief's meeting for the opportunity to address the hotshots and meet so many of you.

Unfortunately I was not able to remain for subsequent comments from Mr. Borda about his knowledge of HR 408. With all due respect to Mr. Borda, I do not believe there is anyone in the Forest Service who has a better touch on the pulse of this legislation than I do. I have lived and breathed these issues for years; helped write the bill and even crafted the title for the bill, so I believe I am in a better position to provide factual information on the bill and its future progress.

The full committee of jurisdiction has yet to even refer the bill to the appropriate subcommittee. The FWFSA knows of course which subcommittee this will be and has been working with its members and staff for the last 2 1/2 years providing them with sufficient data on the issue. The subcommittee has a new chairman and its hearing schedule is certainly not fully prepared. I can say that the author of HR 408 will be meeting with the new chairman of the subcommittee to discuss a hearing schedule. I do not think it too much of a stretch to say that I will know when hearings are set before the Forest Service does.

The Headquarters of the Forest Service and its leadership are perhaps not overly enthusiastic about the bill. One reason of course is that it will require them to change the way they pay for suppression. Let's not forget that the Agency was not keen on eliminating the Overtime Pay Cap in 2000 either, and sent Mark Rey, Under Secretary for Agriculture to the hearings on HR 2814 (another FWFSA sponsored bill) to tepidly oppose the measure. As we all now know, the bill passed and federal wildland firefighters were the only federal employees to enjoy the cap elimination.

The FWFSA looks forward to hearings on the bill. A great deal of rhetoric can be had from both sides of the issue but hearings provide the forum for truly selling the issue to congress. Quite candidly, waiting until summer for hearings would be waiting too long.

Mr. Borda also suggested that while the bill may pass the House, the Senate would not address the matter. I certainly don't know who he has spoken to but I am confident that a Senate version is forthcoming. After all, it was the Senate who first introduced the OT Pay Cap bill in 2000, not the House. I will be traveling to Washington the week of March 14th and already have a number of commitments from Senate offices to meet on the matter.

Apparently there was also commentary from Mr. Borda that all emergency responders for hurricanes, floods etc., who are paid using a specific emergency response number would be paid portal to portal, not just wildland firefighters.

I tip my hat off to the Agency if they want to expand the entitlement of the provisions of HR 408 farther than its intent. However perhaps he or those that he is getting his information from have not read the bill or are interpreting it incorrectly. We should remember that the bill is entitled The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act, not the Emergency Responder Emergency Response Compensation Act.

The bill states that for the purposes of definition: 'wildland firefighter' means an employee of the Department of Interior or the United States Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, the duties of whose position are primarily to perform work directly connected with the control, extinguishment, prevention, and management of wildland fires (including an employee engaged in this activity who is transferred to a supervisory or administrative position).

In other words, the sole intent of the legislation is to provide portal to portal pay to our federal wildland firefighters when they are dispatched to emergency incidents exceeding 24 hrs. Given that these firefighters are multi-tasked and often respond to emergency incidents other than wildland fires i.e. shuttle recovery, EMS, FEMA assignments involving hurricanes, floods etc., we specifically crafted the bill's language to include entitlement to portal to portal pay for these firefighters when dispatched on an "emergency incident."

I hope we can work with the Agency to bring all of you the benefits you deserve. However the most important thing at this point is to ensure you have the factual and accurate information. As always, if you have any questions, please contact me.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/5 Is anyone else as flabbergasted as me that the FS is using 140 million
from the top of the FS fire and fuels budgets to move and centralize the
various staffs in Albuquerque? And that is going to screw up
fire teams and interagency agreements too.

It's no wonder there's not enough $$ in some regions to hire seasonals
and other regions that are hiring anyway are doing it at a huge deficit.

FWFSA should tell our congressional reps THAT!

FED Firefighters, you should join FWFSA. I'm not going to
Washington but I belong. It's the only way some information gets
out so things might have a chance of getting better.


3/5 Here is Colorado State University Fire Science Concentration syllabus:

www.cnr.colostate.edu/frws/forestry/undergrad/checksheets/Fire-Science.PDF (pdf file)

Sounds like Young in R-1 is reinventing the wheel.

3/5 I've updated the Jobs page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist).


3/5 vfd cap'n: An even bigger concern to me than the guide you mention is the training the fire information officers regularly avoid because it's never been required. FIOs do not have to take even the basic fire fighter or fire behavior classes even though they can work with communities in the fire's path, visit the fire line, and escort media who then becomes the FIO's responsibility. Even the yearly refresher and fire-shelter training requirements are unevenly enforced. (Wanna talk liability? What happens, under current conditions if a reporter gets burned over?)

While a fair amount of information about fire is given during the FIO classes, the emphasis is usually on the things you mention from the guide. And they sure don't get the helpful information you'd get from a crusty old fire engine captain teaching a basic fire fighter class. As a result, I have encountered FIOs who can't even read a map, who confirm the media's understanding that we can put out all fires with air tankers, who regularly confuse such things as firing out and back burning, and even one who wondered out loud why we don't just march into the middle of a fire to fight it. Why hang out at the edge with the wusses?

FIOs should at the very least have the basic courses, plus the yearly refreshers.

Still Out There as an AD

In R5, FS firefighters are being trained to be able to talk/work with the news media when asked to. They're encouraged to stick to what they know, stick to info about their fire and use plain English. One good topic is what their assignment is that day and how they're fulfilling that assignment. We all need to do a better job at sharing our successes and firefighter training is reflecting that realization. The Public wants to see hardworking safe firefighters protecting forest and homes.

In CA by state law, we allow credentialed news media full access, if access does not violate safety. We recommend PPE. News media are part of the fire environment; we need to find some way to work with them. They're civilians, not federal or state employees: they can sue their employers, not us. If someone can take reporters under their wing, we can make them safer, tell them about PPE, how fast fire moves, etc. Hotshots - no more having to buy ice cream for the whole crew if you talk with the media. Follow Brit's lead. He did a nice job on the NOVA Fire show. The times they are a changin'.

Anyone from CDF or other state agencies have info? Ab.

3/5 I'm still working through emails, some of which were in the spam filter. Sorry for the delay in posting this. It came in on 3/1. Ab.


I am dismayed at the current state of affairs with the Forest Service. No seasonals? Tom Harbour and Ed Hollenshead both personally assured an IHC conference that fire money was to be commensurate with last year's funding. Was this just lip service or are the regions and forests stealing from fire to fund other programs?

Congress allocated money for fire and trusts our land management organizations to put that money toward its intended use. I personally don't believe these men were giving their audience lip service. Instead, I believe Regional Foresters and Forest Supervisors are utilizing this money to continue funding programs that the administration and the legislature do not wish to prioritize.

So much for integrity...


3/5 hey i have a pair of drews that i like alot, but want to get another pair to
break in for a backup for the upcoming season (i am working w/ the alpine

i was thinking some nicks, but i am wondering if they are the best for
what i wanna do

your advice would be appreciated


3/5 The Cynic,

I work for the FS. I think biologists and the like can work for others in
a similar resource field or under a resource officer. What I am saying is
fire fighters should work in an organization that is supervised and managed
by experienced leaders in fire management. Fire management and suppression
is a specialty. It is a dangerous occupation that is different than other
resource fields. It is an emergency service and firefighters can get
seriously injured and killed while fighting fire. That is what sets it
apart and makes it entirely different than the other resources programs in
land management. It takes a professional, highly trained and skilled
organization to make the best decisions that affect the fire organization
and crews and individual firefighters. The support needs to be there at the
base organization, on the ground, every day. It is not there under the
current system!

Wildland fire suppression is too complex now. Since 1987 we have
experienced an increase, at least in the modern era, of large destructive
and deadly wildfires that burn communities, towns, subdivisions and kill
firefighters and the public. i.e Cedar Fire 2003, Central and Northern
California 1987, Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies 1988, the 1994, 1996
fire season's, 30 mile, Cramer, the Berkley Hills fire and on and on and
on. We have had deadly fire seasons in the past, but since 87 we are
having fires we can't put out until the snow flies. Put in your 14 or 21
days, go home for a few and then come right back. I say wildland fire
suppression and management is too complex and it takes our full attention
and focus to make our program the safest and most efficient and effective
and productive it can be. Fire people should work for fire people, up and
down the chain of command.

The lives and well being of our firefighters are too important to demand
anything less than excellence. The current funding on my forest is 33% of
MEL. One third of our efficiency. BD and KV, we can burn with those funds,
if we ever see much, and we don't. I don't tap into wildlife dollars or any
other dollars because there aren't any to tap into. Fire and fuels pays for
just about everything. Our cost pools here are 25% (and I've seen them a
lot higher on other forests) of our forest's fire budget. There is always a
cost of doing business, it just might be cheaper at a fire department level
for administration than what we are doing now. Fire and fuels pays for all
the NEPA I do, no one else. Fire and fuels pays all of our FOR and mileage,
no one else. There are many employees who aren't "in fire" who are paid
partly from fire dollars. There are some very good militia who are on
incident management teams, support fire suppression and rx fire efforts,
use them. Stove piping for law enforcement was a good move also, I think
law enforcement people should work for law enforcement people.

I think that fire management is special. We are special because of the type
of job we do and the hazards associated with that job. There will not
always be guaranteed funding, there sure isn't now! Not enough funding to
hire firefighters. That is absolutely and completely absurd. There are
funding problems with all government service programs or agencies at all
levels of government at one time or another. That is just a fact. But that
should not stop us from trying to progress and increase the effectiveness
and safety of our program. I don't think the idea is simplistic at all. I
think it is a good idea that deserves debate and thoughtful and careful
consideration in response to a program that is currently suffering. No one
person will have all of the answers and no one person should. I don't have
all of the answers, but I have ideas, and I have some expertise. Believe me,
I have spoken with many other fire management veterans and there is more
support for a federal wildland fire department than some might think. There
are some great fire and organizational minds within the ranks and those are
the ones who have the ability and the fortitude to develop a federal
wildland fire department.

There are admin costs of doing business, but 25 to 40% cost pools and other
big chunks of change to fund other salaries and programs is not at all cost
effective. The dollars don't get to where they need to be. I say a
streamlined fire service agency could do better. Our cost pools and other
costs are way too high.

My bottom line is this: Firefighter safety is the most important part of
the wildland fire management job and everything we do in fire management
should be in support of that goal, everything. The current state of affairs
in fire management is not good. Prescribed fire targets of several thousand
acres and no fire fighters and we're told we have to get it done? Over 100
fires per year on 1.2 million acres that in the best year is only protected
by 3 type 6 engines, and this year two 5 day a week engines with no
seasonal firefighters? Where's the support? What are we setting our people
up for? My bottom line is we must do better, we must have a supportive
atmosphere within which to perform the fire management job, and it ain't
happening. There has to be a better way of doing business. I say a federal
wildland fire department warrants careful consideration. Going into my 31st
fire season, this is the worst I've ever seen it. It has been going
downhill for years. So keep looking for better ways, keep a bright outlook,
do the best you can safely, with what you've got now, but look to the
future with new ideas.

Thanks Cynic for your perspective and your questions. The debate is great
and I appreciate it!


Well said. Thank you. Ab.

3/5 Cynic:

I do not think that KevinJ is talking about ONLY letting a wildlife
biologist supervise a wildlife biologist, etc. However I think that you
miss his point. As a Retired DFMO, I am sure you realize how dangerous our
job is, a wildlife biologist's job is NOT potentially life threatening. If
a Wildlife Biologist has more targets than he can meet, he just does not
accomplish everything, no lives or public safety threatened. However, if we
get more fires than we can Safely staff, bad things happen, look at 30
mile, Cramer, and South Canyon to name a few.

As for who will be doing the NEPA work, who do you think does it now? I
have been involved in the NEPA process and have watched FIRE PERSONNEL,
paid for by Fire write NEPA documents from start to finish, no budget
impact there. Fire pays for its own Vehicles NOW. Fire also pays for a
portion of the HR staff’s budget so no major impact there, As for getting
support from other functions when the budget gets tight, the other
functions have been relying on Fire to help save money by doing projects
for free or having their employees work on fire to help save their budget.
Nothing is going to change as far as who is able to do what on fires, the
militia will still be encouraged to participate as much as possible.

To put it short we are not trying to get something without paying for it,
we are already paying for it. We only want to streamline the process, and
ensure that those supervising Fire have some idea as to what it is like on
the ground (many of the District Rangers and others who supervise Fire
Management have little or no Fire experience). We are trying to ensure
that the VALUABLE money that is allotted to Fire gets to the ground, where
it was intended to go, not the Regional Foresters office.

No, Firefighter Safety is not dependent on a federal fire service, but I for
one do not feel that the FS, BLM, NPS, etc. are vocal enough when it comes
to letting congress know that we need the money that they promised us to
SAFELY accomplish what they and the public expect of us.

Times have changed, we MUST change with it. A Professional Fire Service in
the Federal Government is one way to more effectively and efficiently
provide the service that is asked of us. How much does one large fire cost
the taxpayer? I feel that we would be able to catch more of these fires in
the initial attack stage with a better trained and staffed Fire Service,
which would end up saving money in the long run.

Just my two cents for what it is worth.


Pyroman, I catch what you're saying. However, bottom line, if we don't have enough firefighters to operate safely, we should modify our tactics - even if that means pulling out, evacuating residents and letting the wildland/urban interface burn. If there aren't enough folks to safely do fuels work, we should refuse. Firefighter safety HAS to come first. Ab.

3/5 GISGirl and Others:

The Type 1 Teams are supposed to only have a total of 37 people on their roster as detailed in Chapter 60 of the National Mob Guide and that has been the standard for some time now. NICC came down on this because the rosters were starting to get out of hand with upwards of 60 people in some cases. Name requests will be permitted within reason (ie. a suitable individual is not locally available) as long as the requests are not made UNTIL the team takes over. What is a greater point of concern at this time are the following new policies being put down to the Forest Service by the USDA this year:

1. IRM, the section of the Forest Service that held the Computer Specialists and Communications Technicians, has been completely reconfigured and IRM employees in the Forest Service have been instructed NOT to put in for teams. This means that if you need a computer specialist or a COMMUNICATIONS UNIT LEADER (a CRITICAL position that needs to be the first on scene, for those of you unaware of this) that person is going to have to come from a DOI agency or NOT work for FS IRM. If you DO want a COML who is a FS Radio guy, you'll have to wait to request him till on site. This, as I'm sure most of you realize, is RIDICULOUS!!!!

2. AD hiring, as has been discussed on this board, is becoming complicated.

3. I have heard that recently the Forest Service has been told that it must fill out a requisition form that must be filled out for everything they spend money on and that these forms will then have to be approved by one of 47 budget and finance officials (Nationally) for anything that will cost money apart from overhead and crews. AT THIS TIME INCIDENTS WILL NOT BE EXEMPT and this will pertain to Expanded Dispatch for THIS season. If they want to order ANYTHING, (sack lunches, bottled water, CWN helicopters for IA) then they will have to have these acquisition forms processed. This policy will negate the ability to perform extended attack on any fires within Forest Service jurisdiction. Hopefully an exemption will be granted.

I would like to point out that when the firefighting world gets bad policies handed down, everyone is quick to blame the fire managers. "They don't know what it is really like on the line!", "We need better leadership higher up!" etc. I'll tell you, those men and women at the top of the ranks in fire know their stuff. They are all ex-firefighters themselves, many of them put in a hefty number of seasons as Hotshots. They aren't the ones who are screwing firefighters over. WASHINGTON D.C., specifically departments such as Finance and Human Resources, are responsible. People in D.C. do not know or care about fire. As far as many of them are concerned places like Montana, Arizona, and Nevada might as well be on the other side of the world. The bottom line is that Iraq is costing 2 BILLION a day and this administration is hurting for money so all kinds of departments are being told to make cuts. The sad thing about this is that we are putting firefighters in a position where they have to choose between taking assignments and protecting the lives of their crews. If things are not changed very soon then we will be choosing between fighting fire and filling out paperwork.

It is truly a sad day when we make it necessary for firefighters to turn down assignments because we cannot support their efforts.

Sign me,
Too Sad To Say
3/5 Hi Ab

This note is regarding courses which have been useful in my present
position as an AFMO Fuels Specialist and Planner:
Let it be stated that my undergrad converted me to a Vandal (U of Idaho) so
I'm biased toward the need and use of math and statistics:

-Mensuration (both cruising and quantifying using a spreadsheet)
-Intro to Stats
-Applied Statistics (graduate level) or any class which teaches how to
create allometric relationships between ground measurements and whatever
you want to measure
-Wildland fire ecology and management
-Prescribed Fire Lab
-GIS and Geoinfometrics (Spatial analysis using GIS)
-GPS (the whole story from field to office and then some!!)
-Silviculture (both even and uneven-aged management strategies)
-Soil Science (and the effects of fire on it)
-Botany (related to fire effects)
-Interdisciplinary natural resource management (a must for learning to work
with others.. U of Idaho's class was excellent preparation!)

Most importantly, I think if you have no plans to go to grad school, then
arrange it so you can do an independent study that forces you to solve a
problem. Problem solving is the key to contributing to the Wildland fire

3/5 Here is some humor to lighten things up. Apologies to
the unknown original authors, as I collected them at
various fires when they were passed around.
And There I Was

10 Standard Incident Base Orders

  1. Push paper aggressively, but provide for overtime first.
  2. Initiate all action based on the location of the IC
  3. Carry an important looking piece of paper with you at all times.
  4. Ensure you stand in groups appearing to have important conversations.
  5. Obtain current Information on meal times and the arrival of new snacks.
  6. Remain in communications with others even though you could care less.
  7. Recognize your tent among all the others that look the same.
  8. Stay alert during briefings and other times when you may doze off.
  9. Determine multiple escape routes that no one knows about.
  10. React to all instructions as if they are understood.

18 Incident Base Watch Out Situations

  1. Your desk has new ICS-213s that have not been scouted and sized up.
  2. You're in a fire camp you have never seen in daylight.
  3. You're the only one there at midnight when the plan needs to be copied.
  4. You're in an area where you are not familiar with local customs influencing social behavior.
  5. You're uninformed on morning briefing time and wake-up to the sun in your eyes.
  6. You have been given instructions or assignment you don't like.
  7. You have no communications link with your supervisor and you like it.
  8. You're attempting to construct a plan without a computer.
  9. Success on the fire is going downhill and there is a news team waiting to interview you.
  10. You're in an area where there is no work to be done and demob is behind.
  11. You notice long lines at the port-a-potties after every meal.
  12. You're attempting to say something but you're not in contact with someone who cares.
  13. You're on the bottom of the organization where rolling material may dump on you.
  14. You feel your boss is getting hotter and madder.
  15. You're at a planning meeting and someone has made the wind blow or change direction.
  16. You are getting frequent criticism of your work.
  17. Your tent is deployed in an area where escape to a port-a-potty is difficult.
  18. You feel like taking a nap all the time.
9 Standard Orders for When ICP Gets Slow

Communications has no radio traffic
All personnel have screen savers on
Morale is at an all time high
Plans had IAP done by 1800 (12 copies)

Operations is on weather watch
Resources are outnumbered by overhead
Demob is looking for work
Equipment is leaving camp
Relaxing and pigging out is a must
Safety is #1

3/4 LAVE and Oliver

That lawyer stuff at the Chief Officers Meeting, a strange collision of
Perry Mason meets Dr. Strangelove, but not so funny. Hundreds were
there from hotshots to engine capts to chiefs trying to understand the
redacted message through the lawyerese.

I like your firecamp version of
How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The... Court

Am I a GEN Z-er?

3/4 I had a weird conversation the other day... was speaking with a friend of mine about firefighting job opportunities, she was speaking a current USFS employee about applying for a brand new Type 2 fire crew that is being put together... she was being encouraged to apply because the crew that is being put together was supposed to be recruiting minorities, specifically, anyone not white male...

SO, I was under the impression that this is what R5 got into hotwater for...

I always encourage my female friends to apply, but only the ones that I believe could actually do the job... personally, I would hate to get a job just because I was a female or minority for that matter.... I believe the most qualified person should get the job, no matter who you are...

What is going on here??? Should current USFS employees be promoting this type of "idea" about recruitment for jobs??? Is this legal???

Of course, then the conversation turned to the fact that she was also told that after her stint as a FF all summer, she could just kick back and collect unemployment... even though she is an able-bodied individual, intelligent, and work worthy... painful to hear from a bunch of generation Yer's...

I know a bunch of people who do this every year, go fight fire, collect unemployment... is this right??? Is this just an accepted practice???? (have I been living in a cave?? no, I just have never been encouraged to collect unemployment in the winter, but I pretty much enjoy working, you know, the whole contributing to society thing...)

All I can say is that it's called seasonal employment for a reason, so with a new season (winter) perhaps some should consider a new line of work... I hope the unemployment benefits decrease for able bodied individuals who just don't have the drive to work for more than 4-6 months of the year... work hard, play hard.... I can do this and work full time too, year round at that....

What do you guys think???

NOT a GEN Yer, a hardworking ( and confused ) GEN Xer...
3/4 Barbara of the Honor Guard, please send me an email thru Ab. We need to talk. I don't know your last name to look you up and hmmmmm, I hope Barbara is your first name! (thanks Ab)

Alice, hope you got to continue the dialog. I know you wanted to.
Ed Hollenshead nice presentation on doctrinal review for fire. We need more discussion on that.

Southzone and others, I will be working on my "take" on the legalities surrounding Cramer and surviving as an ICT3. I ran my ideas by the San Bernardino IA/EA guys over beers the other night and conferred with an IC on the way to the airport. (I'm trying to get in tune with and understand socal firefighter issues. To do that I've found it easiest to sit with them in meetings or on the shuttle to see when they say bullsh*t under their breaths...) Needless to say, that night some of us were up past our bedtimes, well maybe just me. Now I just need to recover enough to write it down.

Nice to meet you in person Vicki Minor, BB, Lobotomy, C Bork, NorCal Tom, Todd, and a few others I dare not give away! Fun to hang with friends. Good to see my very own local dispatch gang there. You dispatchers play an important part in fire. Same with our incredible new young go-get-em prevention staff. What a nice bunch of energetic kids - our pre-initial attackers, our PR crew!

FWFSA, thank you for all you do and carry on, please! Legislators... it's good when we work with them - as you have been doing. That R5 finance guy's statement that the bill probably wouldn't pass... well, he was just parroting the FS-WO position. How could he know?

I missed John Wendt, Studebaker and others who are retired. Becky, Elizabeth thanks for the company. Hutch, it was so good to see you there working on education/training. You're looking very good and healthy, my friend.

Take care all. Thanks for the further education, the hugs, etc.

To all who haven't heard, Dennis found his dog Sage who'd been walkabout in a life of her own in Sacramento for 90 days! Good pals deserve each other! Phew, now I can blow out my candle and breathe easy!

Ever your networker...

PS, the note from Denny:

Sage, the motorcycle riding dog, was lost November 28th on a Sacramento Toy
Run. I went inside a building for a brief moment while a friend held
her leash. She got scared, slipped her collar and took off running, looking
for me. Did an extensive search for 2 months. Well 90 days later we got
her back. She had been living in culvert "wild". folks saw her off and on
from their work parking lot. A kind lady started feeding her three weeks
ago. She gained her trust last Friday, took her home but her cats didn't
like the new house guest. She contacted a animal rescue group who took her
in. They recognized her as the missing motorcycle dog, did a google search
and found us. PS; her sleep number is 25

Re doctrinal review for fire, see below too. Ab.

3/4 Was that US Attorney speaking to the right group in addressing the Division Chiefs?

He should have been talking to the Engine Captains too. Increasingly they have to deal with all risk incidents. For those who haven't noticed, we are a fire department. Sometimes we're a fire department on densely populated non-forest lands bordering the wilderness. Given our current FS mission, we have NO mandate to do much of what we are being called on to do - unless we have cooperative agreements or actually are on FS lands. Consider the following that we do:

  • Medical aids
  • Accidents with no wildland fire risk
  • Use of unapproved equipment
  • Use of unapproved personnel
  • Hazmat response

Is anyone thinking about the legal issues related to jurisdictional authority in the following?

  • Team Membership vs FEMA use of the team
  • Employee participation in disaster response

The person who said that it's easier to open pandora's box than close it was right. Maybe Engine Captains who aren't ICT3s should be considering their legal position if the Agency bails on them when confronted by a fatality as they perform one of their expanded and legally ill-defined duties.

Lawyer Up

I think this is why we need Ed Hollenshead and the Doctrinal Review. FS FAM mission has changed in the last 30+ years. Ab.

3/4 Chimp attack

This will probably be the craziest all risk call for some FS firefighters.
Yesterdays headline about the chimpanzee attack near Caliente, California,
put a Sequioa engine crew second in, with a Kern county 2 person
engine crew, all arriving at the same time.

Green Gestapo

3/4 From Nancy Larson, sister of Matt Taylor, Prineville Hotshot

My thanks goes out to Lance, to the Prineville hot shots, to the 52 Club and to the rest of the wildland firefighter community for support and prayers for Matt Taylor and the family. From the time you learned of his fight with brain cancer, your generosity became apparent. You donated leave and various forms of financial help for support of his family, and for medical expenses. You sent cards, photos, made encouraging visits and phone calls. Your contributions sent Matt and Kiersten to Yellowstone for a much needed vacation in June. The calls from Vicki, Mellie and Bonnie encouraged all of us. We experienced an exceptional tribute at the memorial service when the Prineville hotshots and other firefighters from various parts of the country came in force to honor him with their respect. Throughout the past year, I have come to appreciate the quality of people that Matt had the privilege of working with. What a blessing for us just to know that all of you are thinking of him and missing him too. God bless you.

Ab note: Our best to you and your family. Matt's loss is deeply felt. (I just found an email from your mom Sarah in the spam filter too.)

Readers, my apologies for the delays in posting some things. We've been off at meetings and are doing the best we can with all responsibilities.

3/4 Retired L.A.V.E.

A Fire Lawyer would need to carry instructions that if he or she
should die they would need to buried at a depth of 27 feet. Why?
Because we all know that deep down lawyers are good people.


3/4 Ab -

I sent this a few days ago but I haven't seen it posted so it probably
got filtered out somehow (I made a couple of typo corrections on it
anyway). I've seen posts over the years about international disaster
response, a lot of them with incorrect information most recently with the
Asian tsunami. If you could cut and paste from the attached document (and
correct any formatting errors that may have happened in transit) I would
appreciate it. I know it's long piece but it is a complex subject and I've
tried to say it all at once instead of a bunch of postings over time. I
put my name at the end of the document so folks will probably look my email
up on the FS if they want to communicate directly. If someone contacts you
and wants my email address, no problem. I get enough weird email from all
over the world as it is so I don't want my email address posted on the net
any more than it already is. Thanks and keep up the good work.

International Disaster Response


Thanks Bob. We appreciate good information that educates the wildland firefighting community. Thanks, folks for trying again when emails don't get posted in a timely fashion. Sometimes our spam filter does eat 'em. Sometimes we're away and the ones that need formatting or have photos wait a bit. If you want to contact Bob, the FS lookup link is the first one on our Links page under federal. Ab.

3/4 Ah, KevinJ, go for it my friend. I must admit I am curious what agency you might work for. Following your logic a wildlife biologist can work for no one other than another wildlife biologist, a timber beast must work for a timber beast, etc etc. Is that realistic? Is the demise of the FS on the horizon?

I am close to agreeing with you on the Federal Fire Service.

However, I do have some questions. Under your proposal, who is responsible for burning slash, performing wildlife burns, natural fuels projects, and how is that funding handled and who tracks it, and what does it cost for them to do so? How is the BD and KV funding handled? How does the district fire management program tap into the wildlife dollars to support wildlife habitat burning or do they hire their own folks or contract the projects? I assume we will be paying every single dollar for all the NEPA support since we stand alone so the projects are ours. How many ologists will we be able to finance? Who pays for our stand alone facilities, since we are a federal fire service I assume that no other function will be tapped to help finance our facilities. Can the fire program finance all the vehicles without being able to tap into the other functions for some help with FOR and use? How is purchasing, contracting and the personnel functions to be handled? Do we hire our own folks to take care of these necessary evils? Oh yeah, and the real evils, the one eyed monsters, who is going to pay for those and their support? Who do we tap into if we need a pay period or two to fill out one of our folks or lay them off? Can we still tap into the militia? How many fire folks are Type 1 logistics folks? Enough to fill out all the national teams? How about Plans? How many fire folks are status check in recorders? How big does our budget need to be to support a stand alone fire agency? How did stove piping law enforcement work out after the first couple years? I seem to recall they could hardly drive their rigs to the gas pump or to the donut shop? What makes us thing we are special and will get every single dollar we want?? There are some advantages in being able to share these costs with other functions even though it does seem unfair at times. I remember back in the 60's and early 70's when those other functions kept us afloat. Of course I am darn near a dinosaur so you might have to cut me some slack.

Now that I think about it, I may not be so close to agreeing with you. Actually, I think it is a rather simplistic idea that has not been thought through. Unless of course there is guaranteed funding to support such an organization. If so, then count me in. What do you think the chances are that we will get guaranteed funding? I think all we have to do is look at this year. In fact I think while everyone is talking about wanting to hire more pft's etc the bubble is about to burst if it hasn't already. I think financing the organizations we have built up to will become an increasing challenge from now on. I hope I am wrong, but I have been down this road a few times in my career.

I think everyone is seeing the results of a war in Iraq, hurricanes, mud slides in southern cal and a huge national deficit! There is not enough money to go around, being a federal fire service is not apt to change that. The homeland security department has funding problems without us, you think they want to take us on as a ba--ard child? You think they would not tap us for overhead, facilities etc? I doubt it!

In my experience in the bad budget years we worked with the other functions and scrounged up some FOR and some time for the folks to work in timber, wildlife, range, etc to avoid laying them off or minimize the time they were off. We tried to maximize their funds and stretch ours so we could staff at the highest level possible when the cheese got binding.

But the bottom line is if the money ain't there it ain't there and we pick up the pieces and do the best we can. Maybe the money will show up late and maybe it won't but if you plan and train like it won't you will be ahead of the power curve. Then when it does show up, when it is hot and dry and the fires are getting tougher and tougher and you are stretched to the limit, you will have to take time out to train the new resources. Sound familiar?

There are without a doubt efficiencies that can be built in to many of our programs. Aviation and contracting in general to name a couple. On the surface a federal fire agency seems to offer some benefits but I think there are many questions that need to be answered. I would certainly hope that fireline safety is not dependent on a federal fire service. If that is the case, firefighters in general are in deep kimchi!

If you want to pursue a federal fire service go for it, but think it through. It is one thing to beat the desk to support a federal fire service, but a totally different thing to explain how it is going to work and whether or not the funding is going to be there. I would be happy to support the effort but I want the questions answered up front.

My perspective is that of a retired FS DFMO, just so you know what I am basing my comments on.

the cynic
3/4 To L.A.V.E

Maybe you should read the reports on what happened before you
get up on that soap box!!!!!!!


J, a big hug for you. LAVE did not mean anything disrespectful. None of us take the loss of our fine young people lightly. Sometimes, humor is the only way we can all keep going when confronted by death, a dangerous profession, and having to go back out there (soon) and do our potentially gut wrenching jobs again with all the checklists and lawyer considerations. Ab.

3/4 Hey Ab,

LAVE and others may be kidding, but I heard at the Reno
meeting that the DOJ lawyers want to go on fires now. Is
that a scary thought.

After all the lawyer speak, I don't still have a clear idea of
what to do to be safe from the DOJ and the FS if somebody
dies under my command. someone who might not be trained. who
might not have good SA. who might just be human under stress.
while I'm trying to cover my ass with a checklist? The lawyers
say do this, do that, we can't talk on government time... (Until a few
more heads roll) we lawyers won't know what we're doing or
where it's leading...
Nodoubt they'd like to help, they have some socal wildfire
experience... but Ruby Ridge, boot camp operators, and cops
(or whoever)that rape women just don't equate.

Rax, thank god for you and your comments, man!
Mick, if you're reading, thank you for calling it like it is!

Why can't someone just lay it out no redactions???


Ab, we didn't have a redcard burning. but I doubt if Mick will
come out of retirement either.

3/4 VNC Dozer #3

You sure do know of Capt Mullens, as he has been the IC on
Ventura Co. Rx burns for and I have the video of the close
shave he had as the Green Meadow fire ran over his position.

Older than most.
3/4 Subject: FY 2005 Fire Apprentice Bulletin
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

In a memo dated January 26, 2005 I described the approach and time line the Region would use for the outreach and recruitment of the 2005 Wildland Firefighter apprentices.

The recruitment bulletin opened on February 14, 2005 and closed on February 22, 2005. Management met recently to discuss a variety of issues relative to our current and future workforce including fire positions. As a result it was decided not to fill any apprentice positions at this time. The Regional Office will notify applicants of this decision by letter.

A task group has been solicited to develop a comprehensive strategy to address our current apprentice and future overall fire workforce needs, which will include outreach, recruitment and retention components.

I sincerely appreciate the time, energy and enthusiasm you expended towards outreach for the apprenticeship effort, particularly given the short turn around time. I look forward to sharing more information on the upcoming strategy upon its finalization.

If you have any questions please contact Ray Quintanar.

Green Gestapo
3/4 The Burnover on the Marre fire was a Strike Team of the Cleveland I believe
I know some names but they are not important as the info:
I do know a Strike Team leaders rig melted the plastic grill and I think
some engines blistered some paint, Don't recall all the details and I
wasn't there but I know these people that still work in south zone and
check this site probably have better insight.

PS Southwest Oregon is getting pretty dry as is the rest of the Pacific
Northwest, Had my Fire Refresher last week and the NOAA man said dry
spring predicted with possible above normal lighting season? Oil your boots
and get ready for a possible long summer

3/3 Have the courage to dialog with Alice about your concern. I have always
found her approachable and very willing to listen.

3/3 Does anyone have info, or know of a web site that does, on the 2005 national crew contracts?

CLJames R6

How 'bout this? www.fs.fed.us/fire/contracting/ If in doubt, Google it! OA

3/3 When do you think the Fire Line Lawyer ( FLL) will be installed into the command structure. The position would be right above safety officer or maybe above the Incident Commander. (my tongue in firmly planted in my cheek!) It seems if a lawyer should be consulted before any major decision is made, such as do I run to save my life and let some ones home go up in smoke or do I stay and have the Incident Commander charged for my death or injury. Then there all the other things to blame and sue, the manufacture of the fire engine, hose, ppe's, boots, web gear, fire shelter etc. Not to mention the people involved, the weather person (who's usually wrong), the person who wrote the incident action plan, the division super, or the strike team leader, or the crew boss, or the guy in fire camp that didn't put toilet paper in the outhouse or the gal that didn't give me an apple in my sack lunch. Blah, blah, blah!!

When do the so called "leaders" stop the silly $#!+ and get back the job at hand, running forests and puttin' out fires. This sounds a lot like a zero defects mentality, when the poop hit the prop many decisions are made some good some not so good, and sometimes some fatal. Didn't anyone tell these folks life isn't fair and sometimes it's deadly. I'm not discounting safety, hell that's the main reason I am in one piece and can enjoy being a retired volunteer firefighter. Man, hearing all of this nonsense, it makes me glad that I put away my boots and shelter. Too much P.C. and not enough brain power. (Here you can have your soap box back)

Retired L.A.V.E.

P.S. What safety gear would a fire line lawyer wear, use, and or carry? (just for fun)
3/3 Mellie,

You are Right On! Everyone needs to make their voice heard about fire
management programs and safety issues. Together, we can accomplish great
things. I know there are a lot of people out there who have a strong
passion for firefighter safety and strong fire management operational
programs. I also know there are many out there who are disgusted with the
current state of fire management affairs in the federal land management
agencies. The time to make our collective voices heard is NOW. Take a leap
of faith and demand professionalism and excellence in our fire management
and suppression programs.

The wildland fire job has become too complex to be a sideline bastard child
in a land management agency. Again, I call for a federal wildland fire
department where our full attention and focus is on professionalism,
training, safety, and excellence. Wildland fire management programs by
their very nature need to be progressive to keep up with ever changing
complexities, issues, and challenges. A wildland fire department that is
lead by qualified and experienced fire personnel who have come up through
the fire management ranks is a must. We must change the way we do business.
We cannot have resource people/administrators supervising and managing fire
programs! The district manager for Burger King isn't the Chief of the San
Diego Police Department nor is the route manager for Wal Mart the Chief of
the Phoenix Fire Department. So why do the federal land management agencies
have non-fire resource people supervising fire management programs and
activities? It doesn't make sense. It is an old way of doing business that
must change.

Ask yourselves, Is the agency doing everything it can to make the fire
management job the safest and most efficient, effective and productive it
can be? I say the answer is no and that is why I call for radical change.
I would like to see federal wildland fire management come out of
agriculture and interior and go under Homeland Security and become a
federal wildland fire department.

I would like to see the wildland firefighters association support this. If
we were to become our own fire department then I also think we would
receive firefighter classification and enjoy the pay and benefits of
"Federal Firefighters' that we so rightly deserve.

Be Safe,
3/3 Here's a link to the letter the NMAC sent out regarding IMT size:
www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/swamgmt/etc.pdf .

3/3 VNC Dozer #3
You sure do know of Capt Mullens, as he has been the IC on
Ventura Co. Rx burns for and I have the video of the close
shave he had as the Green Meadow fire ran over his position.
Older than most.
3/2 Ab,

A little bird with a lawyer's briefcase arrived on my windowsill today. He left a little present, I thought I'd share it with They Said readers.

The title of this pdf document is Professional Liability Insurance Your Legal Shelter in the Post Thirtymile and Cramer Environment. I'm not exactly endorsing it, because it was written from a lawyer's perspective, but since our managers aren't telling us what to expect as far as liability, this might give fire folks something to think about.

Misery Whip

My apologies for the delayed link! OriginalAb

3/2 I am curious why there has been no chatter on the teams cutting their
rosters last week in R5. I heard Type 1 teams are now 33 and Type 2 are 25

Are all the regions doing this? Since there are not supposed to be name
requests- how is this going to affect the season? I know GISTs have been
cut from rosters so this will affect the map making...

3/2 Ab,

I was browsing the NIFC website and came across the "Wildland Fire
Communicator's Guide. "

There's a wealth of information about the who-what-where-when-why of
communicating fire messages to various audiences -- from talking about the
ecological benefits of wildfire, discussing smoke management issues,
protecting cultural resources like Mesa Verde, etc. I understand the
primary intent of the Guide to encourage public acceptance of prescribed
fire and wildfire use.

But, I wonder why there is no mention of firefighter safety. There is
nothing about shelter deployments, engine entrapments, or wings falling off
tankers. And, there's nothing in the Guide about the measures being taken
to prevent those things from happening.

Is this something we're not supposed to tell the public about? If safety is
supposed to be the number #1 priority of the wildfire program, shouldn't it
be our top message to the public?

vfd cap'n
3/2 I neglected to make a significant suggest to R1 concerning college course
selection. When I was a student, I never really considered a double major
or even a minor. I concentrated too much on my area of interest, my major.
I thought only briefly of a minor in computer science. But as time passed,
I realized there's a minor (or double major) that would have REALLY helped
me. I concentrated too much on a specialty and should have broadened my
education background. I should have at least minored in business
administration but didn't realize it til much later. At the time I thought
"why would anyone major in that?"

Anyone considering firefighting quickly realizes that leadership is
critical in gaining permanent positions. A solid background in forestry or
firefighting is desired. I would also suggest you get at least a minor in
business administration. Permanent firefighters are almost always leaders.
You can do without a business background IF you plan to just pound the
ground. But I'm guessing someone with BOTH firefighting and business
educational background would have a leg up on the competition. I first
realized this need when I started my own construction biz. Now that I've
worked for 20+++ years, I could also use the business background in my
current USFS position.

You won't pound the ground forever. Think ahead.
3/2 I was on the Green Meadow fire from the start to finish. I remember some Type 3 engines from Santa Barbara County that took a tanker load on the second or third day. I don't think any Ventura engines getting in a tight spot, and don't know any Capt. Mullen. I may be wrong. The memory ain't what it used to be. VNC Dozer 3

One thing we have heard bandied about is that we may need a new system, maybe called something like the "Federal Retired Reserve". That would take legislation to create. AD was never meant to be used as it has been.

BOYZ in the Woods

3/2 BOYZ in the Wood:

In regards to what century Alice F is from (based on her comments), it is my understanding that she was one of the main proponents of the Draft 2005 AD Pay Plan rates. As you know, the WO said they did a lot of wage/responsibility/complexity analysis of the AD pay rates they proposed, but did not provide those analyses for review. Inside information says those really did not exist for most positions, and those that did exist were badly flawed. Alice's reality base must be based on numbers, budgets, (and administration pressure to do more contracting instead of AD hires??) and is not field opinion based. From what I hear, the "field" opinions have basically killed the 2005 AD Pay Plan.

While legislation (408?) may address pay equity for permanents and seasonals in the federal fire community, the AD employees have had NO pay increase (even a measly 3% cost-of-living increase) in 3 years. And the ADs have had to battle just to keep their wages from being LOWERED. The rumor is the 2005 AD Pay Plan Draft will be scrapped and the 2004 Pay Plan will be used (but that is not official yet, as far as I know, so the WO may surprise us).

Have dozers, engines, water tenders, caterers, showers, crew buses, etc rates been lowered? Raised?

I don't know, just asking for AD pay equity (and hey, how about a 3 % cost-of-living increase?).

"NO, gotta keep those large fire costs down, and you ADs are the reason the costs are too high!" Yeah, right, I see now....

3/1 Vicki Minor spoke at the chief Officers Meeting. She introduced Sylvia,
Heather DePaolo's mom. Memberships to the 52 Club came in hot
and heavy. If you havent signed up, just do it!


Wildland Firefighter Foundation 52 Club

3/1 Alice F from the WO spoke at the R5 Chief Officers Mtg today. What she
said does not bode well for the future of the FAM Forest Service organization.
It's clear she's out of touch. One thing she said about portal to portal was so
off base! It was based on a study that was 2 years old. It makes you wonder
where the WO is getting their info??? They don't have a clue.

And then there were her comments on the militia. We know for years there's
no militia left but she says we gotta convince them to go to fires. I thought militia
work for the line officer, not for fire management. What century is she from???

BOYZ in the Wood

3/1 Wondering,

Some of the Fed Contracting Officers retired or moved jobs.
Each region will be doing its own engine crew contracting based on
national specifications. Those should be out within the month.


3/1 Casey,

I appreciate your optimism. It is nice to hear someone say things will get better. I would like to say that I am looking forward to the 500 million that you were mentioning, however I will not hold my breath. I agree with you that we could sure use the money, as Misery Whip said we need more PFT folks, I dream of the days when we have the majority of people PFT with just a few seasonals to round out the crew for the height of the season. Crew cohesion and dynamics would be greatly enhanced, at least on the district/field office level and as KevinJ put it, the foundation is at the district level. This is just one step closer to the Professional Fire Agency that we need to be.

One thing that has me worried is, will our seasonals WANT to come back if and when we get the funding the re-hire them, or will we have to start over from the ground up? I have heard that next year's budget is looking even worse than this year's!! I seriously hope that someone does not have to die before management, congress, whoever, decides to put some new tires and a full tank of gas on this old jalopy that they expect to run like a Ferrari ( liked the analogy Misery Whip, thanks).

I haven't done the math and not sure anyone has or could, but how much more do we pay for the large fires that we might have caught if we had only been staffed at 100% MEL? I know that it is hard to quantify prevention and how effective it is, but it sure seems that if we caught even 5% of the large fires in the initial attack phase (before they got to be large fires) we could more than pay for the cost of 100% MEL and a full PFT force with the savings. kind of like insurance, you pay for it hoping that you never need it, but are happy to pay it cause the cost of not having it when things go bad is unacceptable.

Be safe and remember to always be your own look out on the line and off.

3/1 Just wanted to clear something up about my previous post about the Prevention Tech. This person has not been treated fairly by his/her employer's either. This person is being positioned right back into a place that may have caused the incident and which prompted the suspension. Grant employment but not there. They are not doing this person any favors by doing this. If a federal position is a must, I am sure he/she has plenty of experience in other fields and should be placed into a better fitting position. I wonder what was behind the decision to place this individual back. It is not helping the employer, fellow employees, and not helping the INDIVIDUAL ! Doesn't anyone think of these things?

Sorry Ab. I didn't leave a signature last time

3/1 Glad to see the comments folks; keep 'em coming. As Ab said, this IS a forestry degree with some substitutions, and I'll explain why I did it like that. This isn't a degree that would be able to get someone with little experience into a GS-7 Foreman job; this is a degree that would prepare them for being an upper-level fire manager further down the road.

I'm just thinking that because, at most schools, anything that has to do with wildland fire is closeted within the natural resources department, it makes sense to base a fire degree on a degree already in existence there. Some schools call it the college of forestry, others the college of natural resources, call it what you will it is still "forestry" based. So, the easiest way to get a major listed is to use what you already have, which in this case is forestry. Also, when you get to the "professional" level (AFMO, FMO, etc), who will you be working with when planning fire use, prescribed fire, etc? People with degrees in natural resources, the -ologists. So it makes sense to design a degree that will make you fluent in "-ologese."

Second, this degree is based on the requirements here at the U of Montana, so all those 101 type classes are required by the university. That's why I added them into the program. As far as the order of the courses goes, that's also specific to course content at the U of M. Other schools may teach them differently, and could switch them around as Type 1 Wrench suggested.

I agree with what AW said in that this degree would need to go with experience. There is no substitute for experience. But, with experience and a degree that is aimed at making you a professional in the upper levels, I think a person would do a pretty good job.

Also, in other areas where timber is not the primary fuel type, you could think of combining a range management-type degree with some fire and other classes to get a degree aimed at Great Basin and Great Plains type fire programs.

Anyway, keep the comments coming. I'll be seeing if the U of M has any plans for a degree like this in the future. Right now they are undergoing a restructuring of sorts, and now would be the time to put a bug in their ear.


Young and Dumb in R-1
3/1 It seems to me since there are already degrees in fire science and various 'ology and natural resource degree's it would make sense to me that a wildland fire degree should combine some of each. It seems foolish to me to have somebody at a high level in a suppression organization that has a 4 year + ology degree with no fire science and at the same time it doesn't really make sense to have someone with a fire degree (which is basically aimed primarily at structure fire), running a fuels program or making decisions on how to manage fire for forest health. I have been getting myself organized to begin working on the National Fire Academies BA program through a degrees at a distance (internet based) system, the degree is split between an administration major and a prevention major, it seems to me it would make sense to have a wildland based fire degree split into 3, admin (suppression), Fuels and Prevention, basically the differences being how the % of fire science, management and 'ology is divided up, while I don't think having the "wrong" degree should force the type of jobs available it would make sense for the student to pick the major that best fits their career goal. In the end the degree is secondary to their experience anyway.

For more info on the NFA's degrees at a distance


3/1 Young and Dumb in R-1,

I'd swap the RS, GIS and intro to computer classes around a bit. Put the
Intro to computers in the first year, GIS in the second year, followed by
RS the third year. GIS without RS knowledge is like knowing how to make
race car stay on the track in tight turns, but not knowing how to drive a

Type 1 Wrench
3/1 R-1 suggested a course program for a "wildland fire major". Ab said it
sounded "like a forestry major with a few replacements. From my limited
experience, I'd suggest the following . . .

Don't sweat the small stuff. General courses like anything 101 are
probably going to be required by a college and not specific to a major.
That is, I'd suggest paring your requirements down to a minimum. I have no
idea what those minimums would be, as I'm a sedgehead and not a forester.
But I'd suggest something like 24-30 hours "within the major" and only a
some of those as "required". After all, that's what most majors require
from my experience (zoology and botany). That leaves much more flexibility
for electives both within and outside of the major.

Just a thought. Good luck!

3/1 Just heard a rumor that the National Engine contract is no longer going to
exist. Does anyone have any facts or reasons for this?

3/1 If you mean the Marre fire on the Los Padres, I was there for the bulk of it and don't remember an entrapment. Are you thinking of something involving engines? Seems like I was on a fire that season where some engines were burned across, with mostly paint damage. Can't remember for sure if that was the Marre. Anything before that awful 1994 fire season is a blur to me.

Still Out There as an AD
3/1 Hi all,

A while back Mellie said something that got thinking about what a wildland fire major would look like. Well, here's what I came up with. It's something that is heavily forestry and natural resource biased, but it could possibly be pitched to the powers that be here at the U of Montana. 90% of the classes are offered currently, and with the addition of a few fire classes like the U of Idaho is offering, it could work.

I'd like feedback, comments, suggestions, etc.

* indicates a class that would need to be developed or altered from a currently offered class.

Year One

Fire Policy & History*           3 credits
Fire Management Fr. Seminar*     2 credits
General Psychology               3 credits
Public Speaking                  3 credits
English 101                      3 credits
Pre-calculus                     3 credits
Applied Calculus                 3 credits
General Chemistry                3 credits
Botany                           3 credits
Microeconomics                   3 credits
                                29 Credits

Year Two

Developmental Psychology         3 credits (or similar 200 level)
Technical Writing                2 credits
Forest Insects & Diseases        2 credits
Photogrammetry & RS              3 credits
Forest Biometrics                3 credits (applied nat. res. math)
Dendrology                       3 credits (tree ID)
Tree Biology                     2 credits
Forest Mensuration               4 credits (intro to cruising, etc)
Soil Science                     3 credits
Computer Science                 3 credits (intro to computers)
Gen. Ed. Electives               4 credits
                                32 credits

Year Three

Fire Behavior w/ lab*            4 credits
Fuel Management w/ lab*          3 credits
Human Behavior                   3 credits
Intro to GIS                     3 credits
Meteorology                      3 credits
Timber Harvest & Products        3 credits
Rangeland Management             3 credits
Forest Ecology                   3 credits
Gen. Ed. Electives               6 credits
                                30 credits

Year Four

Prescribed Fire w/ lab*          4 credits
Fire Ecology                     3 credits
Multiple Resource Silviculture   3 credits
Ethics in public land mgmt.      3 credits
Natural Resource Policy          3 credits
Watershed Hydrology & Mgmt.      3 credits
Forest Economics                 3 credits
Leadership Fundamentals*         3 credits
Gen. Ed. Electives               6 credits
                                31 credits
                               122 credits total

Again, let me know what you guys think about this. I'm very interested in hearing your opinions on the subject.

Young and Dumb in R-1

Thanks R1. Sounds like a forestry major with a few replacements. There are lots of other options. Maybe we'll get some dialog on this after the Chief Officers conference and the NWSA conference (with their Fed retirees), if not before. I'd be curious to know what academic classes have helped people most in fire. Ab.

3/1 Just thought I would pass this one on to all who care. It may be just another day in the crazy Fire Program but, there is actually a firefighter that has committed arson, eventually plead to a lesser charge of destruction of government property, that has been returned to his position after a suspension of duty (which was withdrawn). This is the best part . . . . . . .the position is a district FIRE PREVENTION TECH. I don't know all the facts, but it may be something some one should look into. I don't understand this program anymore. First they limit the firefighters that can be hired by an age limit (funny that a 99 year old seasonal can do a similar job as a perm.), then complain that there is a lack of experience (an actual safety concern). Then do things like this when everyone is looking at this program with lots of questions.

Oh yeah, also know of a District Ranger GS-12 that makes himself available as a radio operator . . . .goes out . . . .extends himself . . .and then returns laughing about the AD firefighter that worked next to him. I think the term i have heard for that may be . . .fire whore . . . .but not sure if this applies.

Just concerned about a program that is under a microscope and I have an interest in. I love being involved in fire in any way and cringe at things like this. It makes the rest of us look like goons. The honor in this may be fading.

Thanks for the opportunity for me to post this. I try to view the postings when i can, but I will be watching for a little while for any responses.

just had to get this off my chest. I just hate to see this stuff happen.



3/1 Cheyeanne & DC: Thanks for your reply to my post. I'll check out the Ventura Co. lead.

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