April, 2005

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4/30 LOINA,

You may be surprised to see that the wildland firefighters actually addressed the lack of all options being laid upon the table. The NIMO study should have been thrown back by peer review but wasn't due to the groupthink mentality that was happening.

5. Subject: Update on the NWCG-sponsored NIMO Report (Agenda Item 7).

Discussion: The members were concerned that the NIMO Report was not looking at all options. The draft reports circulated to date have focused on conducting business through various sizes of national incident management organizations. When chartered, NWCG envisioned that the whole range of options for providing incident management services from the current militia approach along with combinations of a NIMO and militia or NIMO alone would be considered. The members want the entire range of options to be evaluated and requested that Jim Stires contact the NIMO Report group and arrange a conference call to discuss the status.

Since the NWCG Meeting, the NIMO Report group (aka NIMO MOT) contacted Jim Stires and requested modification of the report charter to include full agency participation so that the current situation could be evaluated. This is in line with the members desires as expressed at the 88th meeting so will be agreed to. The NIMO MOT also requests time at the January, 2004 NWCG meeting to provide members an update on the report. Time will be made on the January agenda for their briefing.

And then the land managers flexed their muscles against the fire managers.......

26. Update on the current status of the National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) process

Success is predicated on planning and implementing an aggressive landscape scale vegetative management program and nine key recommendations:

  1. Improved Capacity and Capability: Change Federal agency policy to require employee support of incident management and develop incident management positive requirements for unit level agency administrators.
  2. Type 3 IMTs: Significantly increase the number of Interagency Type 3 incident management teams.
  3. Training: Streamline the NWCG fire training and qualifications program to reduce redundancy & more effectively focus on the needs of the various positions.
  4. Legal Authorities: Improve and standardize the legal authorities to allow effective implementation of incident management across all levels of government.
  5. NMAC IMT Management: The National MAC becomes responsible for standardization & mobilization of Type 1 and Type 2 incident management teams.
  6. Non-traditional Partnerships: Actively seek partnerships with other federal agencies (i.e. EPA, Coast Guard, FEMA) to improve capacity for the development and utilization of incident management personnel for fire and non-fire incidents.
  7. Improved Hiring Authority: Reduce dependency on retirees and improve the temporary emergency hiring authorities.
  8. Standardized Contracts: Standardize pay rates, contracts, performance standards and common definitions of inherent government functions.
  9. Complex Incident Management: Develop a new model for managing complex incidents that utilizes social values, significant resource values & cost/benefits in the decision making process.

An interagency implementation strategy will be required to address the specific aspects of this recommendation such as: chain of command, pay/grade structure, methods to include state and local government participation, duty stations, and administrative support structure.

Analysis Conclusion
The analysis did not find a silver bullet. None of the alternatives analyzed were affordable based on the current funding levels and structure. None reduce the reliance on the agency “militia” or increase the capacity at the local level to complete natural resource work. None of the alternatives provide a career path for employees interested in working in large incident management.

However, the team determined that hiring and developing a small number of employees with large incident management as their primary responsibility would result in significant benefits if implemented along with the key recommendations presented.

Action: Schedule presentation of final NIMO report for NWCG review and deliberation at the January meeting.

And with a conclusion like that, without field support... or peer review... we are damned once again to repeat unsafe acts.... Especially when we do not consider all views.


4/30 National Fire Service...my two cents...The National Fire Service makes sense to fire people, but land managers (and they are the ones with the POWER in land management agencies) want and need that fire money for everything (including, oh yeah, that primary land management tool, fire). But outhouses get swabbed out with engines, and post holes get dug, and gates get hung, by fire personnel. Since fire engines drive roads, they grade roads with fire money, fire purchased equipment, and fire personnel. And fire equipment is used for non-fire stuff all the time in all agencies.

In the past the USFS had timber money, now they have fire money. When some brave land management agency tells Congress the truth about the uses and abuses of fire money, Congress may change it But the land management agencies will line up 500 people to run a "smoke screen with mirrors" and say no abuses have taken place. Why? They have come to depend on the money, and I really think that they believe in their hearts the money is theirs to use however they want. In some agencies the land manager (Park Superintendent, District Ranger, Refuge Manager, Resource Area/District Manager) can reallocate up to $250,000/year from program to program with no consequences.

And, saddest of all to me, is the fact that there are thousands of fire personnel who LIKE IT THAT WAY. This is because they have "grown up" with the system this way, and believe they are promoting and forwarding the mission of the agency by "adjusting" the use of Congressionally mandated fire funding. The National Park Service uses fuels money to clear around cultural sites that have existed with fire for thousands of years. The NPS wanted to use fire money for cultural surveys for all parks. The Fish and Wildlife Service uses the "hazardous fuels" funds for ecological restoration (and the resulting fuels burn more readily than the previous vegetation). And if the BLM could figure out how to spray creosote bush with fire money, I'm sure they would try (for you guys not familiar with creosote bush, it really does not burn, despite its name). And the USFS depends on a certain number of pay periods for non-fire people per year to be assigned to fire money. FMOs and land managers butt heads until one wins (usually that is THE BOSS).

Ever notice how the head of NIFC (and usually the head fire guys from each agency there) have land management experience? The agencies want it that way. And the one "national fire service" we have in existence (Alaska Fire Service) usually has an individual that was a former agency land manager. And they will all assist in the "smoke screen with mirrors" TO KEEP THE FUNDING FLOWING. Their agencies depend on them to do that.

The NIMO Study?? Read the fine print on the recommendations-----the agencies took the idea of a National Fire Service OFF THE TABLE of possible recommendations. They could not even consider it as an option...This is the same study that recommended IMTs have full-time jobs as Team members, and they could not even recommend a National Fire Service!

4/30 Ab, do you know where the TriDat Study is on the internet?


Check the Firefighter Safety Awareness Study in 3 phases on the Links page under Safety. Ab.

4/30 After many years of being on the fence, I would say that I have finally made up my mind that we need a Federal Wildland Fire Service. The federal land management agencies are headed for a train wreck, one of their own making.

After the South Canyon Fire of 1994, the federal land management agencies commissioned a study with the TriData Corporation to identify aspects of the culture, leadership, human factors, and accountability to improve firefighter safety. This study was known as the Wildland Firefighter Safety Awareness Study but is also known as the “TriData Study”.

When the study was completed, there were 86 goals identified with 227 strategies on how to implement them. While some of the goals and strategies have been implemented, far more sat blocked from implementation due to organizational biases, lack of funding, or lack of commitment from land managers.

In a speech in 2000, former Forest Service Chief Jack Ward Thomas wrote,

“The director of the BLM and I were on the scene at Storm King Mountain the day after 14 firefighters were killed when a seemingly benign fire erupted into a firestorm. As we stood on the slopes of Storm King Mountain, we took the oath that this would not happen again.”

Thomas also wrote in his speech,

“This may be a test, maybe the final test, of whether land management agencies have a future as presently configured. A review of literature will quickly show that there are questions, serious questions, from both ends of the political spectrum concerning the capabilities of the agencies to move boldly beyond deadlock to a means of active management.”

The land management agencies have repeatedly failed the test in their current configuration.

Thomas went on to say,

“It is my biased opinion that it is time to move beyond the concept of a firefighting organization, to a fire management organization. And that is under way. In such an organization, the focus is strictly on fire, whether on suppression or the application of prescribed fire. Personnel must be appropriately trained and retrained in fire behavior, fire ecology, firefighting, prescribed fire, public involvement, public affairs, personnel and resources management, leadership, air operations, etc. For these personnel, fire management would be a full-time job with appropriate career ladders.”

After repeated failures, the agencies have shown that they cannot be responsible for implementing cultural changes for safety. The Forest Service culture, for example, is deeply rooted in the management of the land, not the management of the firefighters and their safety. The agencies have also shown that they are unwilling or unable to implement the goals of the very study that they commissioned to improve safety.

The train is on the downhill leg with no brakes and a sweeping 180 degree turn approaching. The good thing is, the firefighters using situational awareness and recognition primed decisions, got off the train at the last station and insisted on a safe ride!!


4/30 There are many different ways to fix the problems that are going on in the federal wildland fire arena. We all should take a look at each one before we just hop on the bandwagon.

1. A national federal wildland fire agency (combining the wildland fire duties of the land management agencies), or
2. A national federal fire agency (combining the fire duties of all land management agencies plus DoD, DoT, Veterans Affairs, etc…), or
3. Centralization of fire programs within agencies, or
4. Consolidation of the USDI and Forest Service programs.

In any of the above scenarios, it would be in the best interest of the land management agencies to act fast and fix the problems or they may not like what they see if the congress has to intervene.

Here are some of the problems that I see with the current system:

1. Safety

For proper program oversight and direction, and to keep from getting anymore “Willful – Repeat” violations from OSHA, fire managers should be running the fire program, not land managers. Fire managers know best how to keep folks safe and what policies should be made, done away with, or revised to make the fire community safer. Resistance by land managers and bean counters cannot be tolerated when it comes to safety.

2. Financial Accountability

Congressionally appropriated funds for fire suppression, preparedness, and fuels management are being used to fund other functions and programs within the land management agencies through cost pools and other funding adjustments. Dollars that are meant to fund the fire program are being redirected through a “smoke and mirrors” system that keeps funding from getting down to the field where it was intended to go.

3. Wildland Fire Policy, Procedures, Training, and Experience

The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and various DoD agencies (Army Corps of Engineers, Army, Marines, and Air Force) all have statutory protection responsibility for federal lands. Each agency also has different policies, procedures, training, and experience standards for wildland fire.

Those are my thoughts.

Rogue Rivers
4/30 Lobotomy and Mellie:

Ok, I'll take the bait.

The number one reason I had to take my firefighter retirement a few years ago (as an FMO and at my earliest eligibility) was the apathy and greed of my agency managers towards firefighter safety and fire funding respectively. Safety is directly related to the highest management's attitude towards it in any discipline. Autocratic diversion of funds that directly relate to employee safety directly reduces by spades the same.

Highest wildland fire managers of my former agency are well aware of these illegal diversions of funds and continue to declare themselves powerless to do anything about it. Bless their hearts for their efforts but damn the agency for not instituting wholesale cultural change.

The only solution to this serious threat to firefighter's lives is a standalone National Fire Service where professional firefighters are autonomously and holistically allowed to execute federal wildland fire policy placing firefighter and public safety as the highest priority. Anything short of that guarantees that nothing will change. The culture of bureaucratic management apathy is dictated to remain the same. Tragedy fires will continue to occur.

I said this about this time last year in this forum and I will say it again:
Firefighters be very careful who you are taking orders from this coming fire season. Orders tend to come down the pike from totally unqualified agency managers who couldn't give a rat's a$$ about your safety, let alone to place it as top priority.

4/30 Ab and all;

I have been preaching for a National Fire Service for about 20 years. I really don’t think we are any closer now than we were back then.

The problem is that there are too many empires (fiefdoms) in the Federal Wildland Fire program. Every Forest, National Park, BLM Ranger Unit, Wildlife Refuge, Indian Nation, National Scenic Area and Grassland, competes for the small amount of money that Congress shells out for fire protection. The ones with the loudest voice or most political clout get the most money and the rest of the resources get the leftovers.

Ever increasing numbers of mediocre “Type 1” crews are being created out of thin air which has had the effect of watering down the pool of qualified individuals to run existing crews. Crews are assigned to areas where no one wants to live or cannot afford to live on the Govt. wage system (Happy Camp Vs Lake Tahoe). As such, it is hard to recruit leadership for these crews. Look at how many vacancies are out there being advertised over and over again and not getting filled.

Misplaced agency tradition, pride, arrogance along with politically motivated social engineering and hiring practices contribute to the lack vision that leaders display, regarding establishment of a professional wildland firefighting organization.

Too many administrative regulations and even laws are based on knee jerk reactions due to firefighter accidents and fatalities. These regulations and laws do little to increase firefighter or pubic safety, but increase the mistrust and animosity of us, the “regulated”.

Wholesale safety regulation by OSHA (who have admittedly zero wildland fire specialists in their ranks) is another area where our leadership has passed the buck, dropped the ball and basically capitulated any authority and responsibility for safety.

A National Wildland Fire Service run by professional firefighters would, I believe, come to grips with the fact that the fire environment cannot be made 100% safe 100% of the time (something OSHA and the wildland agencies refuse to acknowledge).

This realization would not be a copout but a truthful risk assessment that would allow development of realistic and achievable goals of firefighter and public safety regarding wildland and urban interface fires, not some pie in the sky list of 1000 rules to “keep us safe”.

I guess that is about all I have time to rant about today. Thanks for the opportunity to use my First Amendment Right.


4/30 Excellent job on the Spanish Ranch Fire Staff Ride!


4/30 Regarding the Fed Fire Service idea:

I was talking with a military friend the other day. He said it sounded like the firefighting agencies were undergoing the same kind of modernization  process the military had done. It was hard while it was happening, but better (streamlined, efficient, mission/vision driven) in the end. I don't know about that, but there is a lot of redundancy and lost efficiency in having all the land use agencies with their own fire departments, standards, training. Things have gotten so murky. I wouldn't mind merging them all, unless we all had to go under the Dept of Interior or the Dept of Homeland Security. I'd go for a new streamlined organization that has clear mission, vision, doctrine and a fire chief at the head.

Say we did go to a new agency. Anybody got ideas on how we'd accomplish the land use objectives that involve fire - like fuel reduction on forest/park/public lands etc? I guess I'm wondering about national implications beyond the safety, financial, streamlining benefits I can see for fire. Would the FS, BLM, NPS etc then contract for fire related services? Would the new organization and resources be spread out across the US with training centers located in more centralized specific places? I know I'm thinking logistics here, but what about taking an ICS approach and addressing some of the implications of making a change?

I also would like to see where the FS Fire Doctrinal Review stands. I wonder if the FS would consider centralizing fire and its other functions within the organization like a number of people suggested. Is the FS resistance to change so great that we'll eventually have to start over? sooner or later?

NorCal Tom

4/30 Lobotomy

I already see alot of areas doing the inter-agency thing so a full blown fire service to me seems like a good idea. We have to many people outside of fire telling us what to do and frankly alot of them have no clue as to whats going on. Also I like the idea of everybody's wages being the same if you do the same job. I don't understand places like the Deschutes who have there engine captains as GS-6 and everyone around them are sevens or higher. I myself would be in favor of it.

4/29 a national fire service

I'm thinking it should be seriously considered. We should at least have
an in-depth discussion of the pros and cons.


PS Ab please add:
I'll be in Boise for the statue unveiling. Yippee. I'm looking forward to
hanging out with Vicki and Burk again and meeting Foundation people
I've talked with often -- Melissa and now Peggy who I hear has a lot
of initiative. <chuckle> I'm looking forward to meeting Shane's and
Jeff's families too and Debbie Miley from NWSA. Anybody that's
reading who can make it, come up and introduce yourself at the reception.
I hear the smokejumpers and hotshots will be there and some of the
NIFC folks. See ya soon!

4/29 Hey everyone, what what are your thoughts on a national fire service?


4/29 Does anyone know the vendor/manufacturer for the silver ring adapter
that fits on top of a Bendix-King Radio battery allowing you to plug in
a cigarette lighter plug to power other items? A phone number or
address would be great too.

4/29 Wildland Firefighting Community, here's a repost of the info on the WFF statue unveiling. Many interesting people will be there. Don't miss 'em. Ab.

Here's the info that came several weeks ago from Vicki ~~~~~

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation helps fallen and injured firefighters and their families but, in addition, has as its mission to honor and recognize ALL wildland firefighters. In accord with that mission, everyone is invited to a public recognition of wildland firefighters on Monday, May 2nd at 3:00 pm at the Boise Airport in Boise, Idaho. (Ab note: That's next Monday.)

At this event we'll be unveiling an 8-1/2 foot bronzed statue of a wildland firefighter holding a Pulaski. It is an honor to have Shane Heath and Jeff Allen's brothers unveiling the statue. The former Governor of Idaho and former head of the DOI, Cecil Andrus, will be receiving the statue. A reception will follow upstairs on the 3rd floor in the Boise River Room at the Boise Airport, with an open bar, appetizers, and program.

Readers, this statue is to recognize and honor ALL wildland firefighters and the work you do. It's to honor ALL of you.

This is the first of many statues that will be placed in public places across the US to recognize and affirm the work and service wildland firefighters provide to our country. This inaugural statue is sponsored through the generosity of the National Wildfire Suppression Association. To date, the NWSA has given more than $80,000 to support the Foundation. A big thank you to them for supporting this project.

Wildland Firefighting Community, this is your invitation to attend. We look forward to seeing you on May 2nd.

Vicki Minor
Director, Wildland Firefighter Foundation

4/29 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
4/29 Smalltyme,

I have to agree with what FireBill said about the state and fed forces in the NW already working together using closest forces. Here in SE Oregon not only do we have both fed and state response on nearly every fire call regardless of location, but we also have the VFDs responding on every fire call. It's quite common around my small town for the Volunteers to arrive on scene, size up the fire, and get to work up to a half hour before any agency personnel can arrive due to proximity to the fire. This joint response/mutual aid over the past 8 years or so has really improved our initial attack success locally, since the more often we work together as a team side by side, the more everybody is on the same page. It has also helped our volunteer department gain some much needed respect, both with the agencies, and the within the local community. I think automatic response is a great idea, as long as everybody involved is determined to make it work.

4/29 states IAing fires

Look at COFMS, Central Oregon Fire Management Service. Works fine there.


4/29 Kicks said:

" Talk about a blast from the past with the Clear Creek stuff.
500 brand new pairs of Whites there with Marines in em."

In 2000, I was on the other side of the hill in the Bitteroot with a battalion from the 101st Division. We'd had them outfitted with logger-style boots, but they weren't in Whites - it was some fairly cheap brand of boot. When the assignment was over and the troops were getting back in uniform for the trip home, it was kind of astonishing to see the trash cans in their camp filled to overflowing with the logger boots. I guess some of the guys weren't that happy with those boots.

I took an Army ordnance battalion to a complex in Washington on '01, and they wore their regular-issue boots that time.

Kicks also said: " So that kinda gets me to wondering how many wildland folks we have here that started out with the military fire stint. Any stories?"

Every time I've worked with the military, there were always some people that seemed pretty interested in taking up fighting fire. There was this one time back in '88, I had some military crews on one of my divisions at one of the Yellowstone fires. I forget what unit they were, though I recall they were Army. But the Military Crew Liaisons (MCADs) for some of the crews were CDF guys that worked at CDF Conservation Camps. This one day in particular was a mop up day, and I was hanging out with the CDF guys while their crews were getting after it. One of the enlisted guys was apparently enjoying the work and the assignment, and he kept going on and on to the CDF MCAD for his crew about how as soon as he got out of the army. what he wanted to do, more than anything, was to fight fire.

The enlisted guy was pretty persistent talking about how much he wanted to fight fire, and he also kept saying that when he got out and went to fighting fire, he really, _really_ wanted to work for the CDF guy. Finally, after quietly listening to this for about twenty minutes, the CDF MCAD says to the enlisted guy, "You want to work for me? Tell you what - you get out of the Army, come to California, rob a liquor store, and I'll see what I can do for ya."

Apparently the enlisted guy hadn't figured out that CDF's Conservation Camp crewmembers are provided by the Calif. Department of Corrections.:


I sometimes wonder if the guy ever got his wish.


4/29 Smalltyme-

I don't see the problem, since many state units and ranger districts up here in the NW already have closest forces agreements and combined dispatch centers. There's always little chaos on IA, regardless of whose protection the fire's on or who's fighting it.

4/29 hi there, this is a very well done site! i worked on the anf for several years (dalton and engines)
and have worked for local govt for a while. just curious to know whats going on with the subject
of "all risk". when i worked there, we had all that equipment and trained and used it all the time.

sorry to hear about don, he was a great guy. worked for him several times.


4/29 Interesting testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Resources:


Hugh Carson

4/28 NorCal Tom,

Talk about a blast from the past with the Clear Creek stuff. 500 brand new pairs of Whites there with Marines in em. I think we were working up past Cobalt Mine where they had been "practicing" with their pulaskis. They's dropped everything along the side of the road there, looked like a swarm of beavers had come through. We managed to get an impromptu tool sharpening training in with some of them a couple of days later which was pretty cool. Seemed to me that, due to the interest shown, some of them were getting the wildland fire "fever" for after their hitch was up.

So that kinda gets me to wondering how many wildland folks we have here that started out with the military fire stint. Any stories?

As always, Stay safe!
4/28 States want to IA federal fires.....Is this a good idea or will it just create unorganized free for all????


"We're going to ask the federal government to allow us to respond immediately, so we do not have issues of jurisdiction," said Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who was flanked at a news conference by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

4/28 Alyssa

The detectors put in at Deadwood are by a company called Ambient Control
Systems out of El Cajon Ca. I have not seen these particular units but
the ones they showed us worked on detecting the IR signature of fire. They
have a web page if you want to get additional info.


4/28 Alyssa;

One website for this device says that it is infrared light oriented, and uses a computer program to differentiate smoke and heat of the fire from other natural sources. If you type in FireAlert-DC in your search bar, you'll get a variety of websites to read through, sometimes with mind-numbingly technical jargon. Sounds like it's effective, though.

4/27 Just when you thought the Forest Service was getting out of the eyes of Congress.

Forest Service: Better Data and Clear Priorities Are Needed to Address Increasing Reforestation and Timber Stand Improvement Needs GAO-05-586T, April 27, 2005

Abstract www.gao.gov/docsearch/abstract.php?rptno=GAO-05-586T
Highlights www.gao.gov/highlights/d05586thigh.pdf
Full report www.gao.gov/new.items/d05374.pdf

Wildland Fire Management: Progress and Future Challenges, Protecting Structures, and Improving Communications GAO-05-627T, April 26, 2005

Abstract www.gao.gov/docsearch/abstract.php?rptno=GAO-05-627T
Highlights www.gao.gov/highlights/d05627thigh.pdf
Full Story www.gao.gov/new.items/d05627t.pdf

4/27 With Don up in Heaven with his Leadership Skills and Fire Fighting knowledge,
HELL better beware. Don we are better for knowen Ya, God Bless!!

R5 Dirtminer
4/27 Alright. I have had enough!

Before my tirade, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Don Studebaker. I never knew him, but by all accounts, he was a man I wished I had. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

They are also with the crew of T-26. And so follows…

Why is it that the powers that be can’t put some time, energy, and $$ into both fixed-wing and rotor-wing aircraft designed for fire work?!

Don’t give me the BS about “It’s too expensive!” or “The responsibility lies with the contractors.”

Tell that to the families and friends of the T-26 crew, tell that to the friends and family of crew T-130, tell that to me and my bros who lost Gordon, and tell that to all of the numerous friends and families of all of the fire aircraft that have crashed with fatal results.

Get out of the past, spend some hard time thinking about what you have done, what you have let happen. It’s on YOUR head. Time to make amends. For all of us – accept responsibility and make the change!

4/27 Ab, thanks for posting the photos of a friend we'll miss.

Here are two photos from the Clear Creek Fire, 2000 for the military
firefighters who help us out. Thanks. (toward bottom: tents & transport)

Ab, I have some more.

NorCal Tom

4/27 Here is a picture of Don on the Stine Fire on the Klamath in 1999, if you
care to share.


Perfect. Here are all the pics together. Don Studebaker. Ab.

4/27 Hey all.
I have not been hitting this site as often as I like because I am mobilized for the Navy and am in training in Arizona. I am really missing fire and it is made worse because the local FS here has been doing some prescribed fire. I see smoke on the mountain and think that I should be up on the line doing something. Just homesick, I guess. Maybe I can hook my crew up with a severity detail down here.

My condolences to the family of Don Studebaker. I did not know the man, but by the feedback on the board, I would have liked to.

To M. Misiak, I had the pleasure of working with the Marine Corp on the Clearcreek fire in Idaho back in 2000, but did not take any pictures. I had a great time working with them, but learned that the Marines shouldn't use chainsaws. They think they are light sabers and dam near gave me a coronary before I was able to stop one of them from falling a tree on his buddies. Much safety training ensued after that. I had a great time working with them and they didn't even give me too hard of time for being Navy!

Still missing fire,
4/27 To the Studebaker family,

It has been many years since Andrew was in my 4th and 5th grade class at Hardy Elementary but the family has not been forgotten. Don is remembered here as a quiet dad who stayed in the background. I think of Andrew and the family everytime I wear the earrings that were given to me as a gift. During my years with Andrew, Don was in Hawaii a lot and Andrew spoke of him often.

The entire Hardy staff is keeping the Studebaker family in our thoughts at this time of loss.

Christine Garica
4/27 Hi abs, all;

In reading through all of the reports regarding the tanker fleet, something has come to mind that is disturbing. All media sources seem to assume that whatever happened to T-26 was a result of its aged condition or a mechanical failure or something of that nature.

The latest news I have read regarding the investigation was that the airframe was intact and all engines appeared to be running at the time of the accident. Perhaps it was something mechanical that caused us to loose T-26 and her crew, perhaps it was a birdstrike, or any other of the myriad unseen dangers that lurk in the mountain air--but the media has just assumed the worst and reported it as truth. I believe that the standards of fair and unbiased journalism have been irreparably lost, and this is just another example of it.

I also believe that our tanker pilots and crews deserve better than this treatment. I was once told by my helicopter pilot to never worry about boarding a plane because pilots don't have a death wish. If they believe the aircraft is flyable, it probably is. The media seems to think that our tanker pilots lack this form of common sense.

Class C Sagebrush Faller
4/27 Hello,

I was very curious and interested to know why there where no pictures of Marines on your site? My platoon was sent there to help put out smaller fires, back burns and dig fire lines. Even though we played a small roll, some help was better than none at all.


M. Misiak

Well. . .uh, I'm only guess'in, but maybe nobody took a picture of y'all and sent it in? OA.

4/27 Hey Ab + All --

Read about these "high-tech detectors on top of ridges" in & around
Deadwood a couple of weeks ago in a short AP article -- immediately
thought, lookouts? -- and had a lot of questions. I found this article
on USA Today:


Anyone have any insight on exactly how these work? It says they detect
growing fires ... so smoke columns, then, or is there some sort of
heat sensing gizmo?

Interesting, hmm?

4/27 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
4/27 From Firescribe: Articles on air tankers.

Are aging air tankers heading back too soon?

Forest Service may acquire more tankers like one in California crash

CA Governor promises to fund tanker fleet

Widows file suit over tankers

4/27 I was wondering if anybody knew if the governor of CA is going to mandate
the "4 on" law again. I had some great interviews with CDF but they told me
whether i get a job would depend on the governor.


4/27 John - Thanks for being there for Don in his time of need. I know you
and your engine company did everything humanly possible for him. As
a good friend once told me," it was a tough card to draw but the right
person who drew it."

Brian Rhodes
4/26 Members of the wildland family,

I've debated for the past couple of days exactly how to word this letter
without seeming too, um, something. Can't quite think of the word I'm
looking for. I just wanted to share my feelings about Studebaker's passing
with the community here. Some here may know me as a PSC2 trainee on a Type
2 team, but on Sunday I was the engine captain at the Studebaker residence.

Federal privacy rules forbid me from telling any details of his illness, but
from the end result it should be obvious. I initially couldn't see a lot of
Don because my FF and FF/PM were taking care of him. Because they were in
the way, I didn't recognize him. As I always do, I was talking to the
family gathering information. I asked his wife his last name and she said,
"Studebaker, do you need me to spell that for you?" I didn't need help. I
almost asked if they were related to Don, but just then my medic moved and I
could see the comb-over. Uh oh. Anyone here who's treated a sick or hurt
friend knows the feelings I had then. I asked Don if he needed me to call
anyone. As sick as he was, he still asked me to call one of my chiefs as
they were scheduled to meet on Monday. Don was supposed to teach a class
for our newly formed Type 3 IMT.

Basically, we got Don to the hospital very quickly. I knew that some calls
had to be made, but my cell phone was back at the station. I'll always feel
badly that I couldn't stay at the hospital to help the family more, but at
the time I felt it was important to let some people know what was happening.
My plan was to make some calls and get back down the the hospital.
Unfortunately, Don passed before I could make it back down.

As much as it sucked to see a mentor ill, I'm glad that I was the one there
to help. Most other city captains wouldn't have recognized the name or the
man. I'm glad that I was able to make some calls and help the family as
best I could. I wasn't as close to Don as many here. I'm sorry for your

John Fisher
San Diego Fire-Rescue

John, good to have one of our community present when needed. Ab.

4/26 Thinking of Don, I did a quick web search and came up with these.......
Anyone have more to share?


Don 1, Don 2, Don 3

Thanks TC. Ab.

4/26 SL,

Are you Sean Lyman? That's a picture of the BLM Rookie class of '93.
I think only Rob Allen (far left, standing) and Allison Cushman (far left,
kneeling) are still jumping.

Sunil Ramalingam
4/26 I have just heard that the mess hall at the Alaska Fire Service will
no longer be serving Steak or Crab this year. What is up with
these budget cuts???

Cannon Mix
4/26 Mellie,

Sorry about the time it took to respond.... been outa touch.

As NorCal Tom posted, the prework for the MCS presented L-380 is Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air". A harrowing account of a 1996 Mt Everest climb and the decisions that led to the outcome.....

The article "Communicating Intent and Imparting Presence" by Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Shattuck is in either the L-180 or L-280 Student Workbook I believe.....

4/26 Hi abs, all;

I just got a forward regarding one of my bro's, Wes Gissel. He was attacked on Jan 31 in Modesto, and stabbed several times. CDF is trying to raise some funds to offset the cost of care for his injuries.

On a more personal note, this is even more of a tragedy as he was just becoming fully recovered from his involvement in a CDF rollover in '02.

I have been unable to attach the announcement that I was e-mailed, so I am asking for anyone more computer savvy than I that has knowledge of this situation to paste a link regarding the full details of his conditon and where to send help.

Hang in there, bro. We're pulling for ya.

Class C Sagebrush Faller

I fiddled around a bit and was able to transform the forward I got into a recognizable format.

the announcement is as follows:



- CDF Firefighter Valley Springs FFS West Point FFS
- BLM Hotshot Silver State Hotshots
- Previously injured in E4453 rollover in Southern California Summer of 2002


- Cash accepted

- CDF Employees:
Make checks payable to:

- NON-CDF Employees:
Make Checks payable to:
(Wes’s father)

4/26 The world is a lesser place, but having a new angel like Don is the positive side of his passing that I will try to think about.

4/26 As everyone knows we have lost a great leader and mentor in the wildland fire service
Don Studebaker. Friday there will be service for the family and close friends, with a full
military graveside service May 3 for immediate family only. A Memorial Service is tentatively
scheduled for next Friday May 7, time & location to be announced later. When the
information becomes available it will be posted. The family has requested in lieu of flowers,
donations made to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation or Boys Scouts of America.

4/26 In honor of Stude.... and his lack of political correctness and his willingness to call a spade a spade, and a jack a jack..... (Be safe... you were a great mentor and a leader... your principles and leadership will be seen and used for years!!! Damn, Stude, I will miss ya!!)


What the hell are you talking about with the "current regional implementation plan"??? The SUBE class is intended to train wildland firefighters for hazards and how to mitigate them in association with their wildland fire duties in the wildland urban interface.... nothing less and nothing more.

The leading State wildland fire agency (CDF) only provides a total of 56 hours (All-risk and wildland training for its FF1's). Lets see, the USFS provides 32 hours of basic wildland fire training..... 8 hours of ICS training... and then SUBE.... 32 hours of All-Risk training in the interface topics...... then add on local training for hazards that have been identified in the local response areas.... ie- railroads, power transmission grid, freeways and highways, gas pipelines, gangs and violence, earthquakes, floods, etc.... JB, don't forget where experience actually trumps training...!!!!

If there is an "implementation plan" please share it with us, the wildland firefighters!!!!


P.S. - As I sit here in Missoula, I am amazed to see vehicles from outside of R-5 having the designators... DV 2 and CH 3 on them... MSF.. and SCF.... hmm... times have changed.
4/26 Stress and the lifestyle we all experience.

Folks, with the passing of Don, and the fact that his partner and supervisor of so many years, Richard Hawkins, has also experienced a heart attack recently, we all need to keep in mind the implications of the stress-filled life we all lead. We all owe it to our family, co-workers, friends, and ourselves to maintain a fitness program, live as healthy a life as possible, and work on managing stress in ways which are not so caustic to our bodies and minds.

Don told me recently that he was looking forward to other warm climates, work as an AD, and getting healthy. He's one of those role models of mine who made a big impression in my life, and the fire world as a whole. I can only hope that I will be able to accomplish a millionth of what he did.

4/26 Hey SoOps!

Wake up! McCormick retired! Vail retired! Things have happened since '04!

Your News & Notes site is a joke! UPDATE IT!

4/26 Mellie, the book for L-380 is Into Thin Air.

NorCal Tom

4/25 No message beyond this identifier, but what a bunch of youngsters... then.
I still need to get all the photos you readers sent in sized and on photo pages. Thanks for your patience.
More SJ pics ... Ab.

AK Smokejumper Rookies 1993


4/25 just a photo I thought I would share...

Martis Fire 2001 Truckee River

Found your website, great service...

Esther M

Welcome Esther. Thanks for the pic. Ab.

4/25 From Firescribe:

AT articles...
Widows of pilots take grief to court

Waterbombers to the rescue?
Giant Russian aircraft may be sent to replace grounded U.S. air tankers
(Good grief, I don't think so... Anybody know for sure?)

For the All Risk people:
Bright Idea: Los Alamos gear tracks hazardous plumes

For Retired L.A.V.E.
Fire tax re-emerges

4/25 Thanks for the info NMAirBear. I will thank him when I see him.

So sorry to hear that Don is gone.

So sorry that Don is gone. Big boots to fill...

Don received the Cal Yarborough Award for outstanding Division Chief awarded in 2001 by the R5 Division Chiefs, USFS... to one of their own. Prestigious award, well deserved.

Amazing firefighter,
Amazing leader,
Amazing man.

Tahoe Terrie

4/25 Re Unified Command:
Another SD firefighter, formerly of CA ,

As a FF that has worked all over the country I have always gotten a kick out of the prejudice/envy/mockery other regions have for R-5. Your link clearly shows that when other folks follow the lead of R-5, good things happen. The quote:

Brown and Lowe, however, insisted that the "unified command" system could have profound results in the fire-prone Black Hills. "They've used it for years in California," Lowe said. He spent most of his firefighting career there. Unified command is a management structure that allows various firefighting agencies to come together quickly to coordinate firefighting efforts." says volumes.

Other regions are also looking at R-5's cost apportionment model, because it works.

Folks need to just realize that when a certain area has more fire, in a more complex environment, before most other areas, they are bound to come up with better ways of doing business. It has nothing to do with elitism, it has to do with experience and practice.

Transplanted R-5er.

4/25 I would like to express my condolences to the Studebaker family in their time of grief.
I certainly agree with Mellie's comments about Don. He was a excellent leader and
role model for younger firefighters. When I first became Deputy IC on Team 4 with
Jack Lee, Don was our Plans Chief and I will always cherish the time that I had to sit
and talk with Don when we had those down times. To get to know the intellect, hidden
skills and sense of humor that the man had. He will be truly missed in the fire


4/25 Hi Ab,

We at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation would like to send our condolences regarding Don Studebaker's passing. We have heard many stories about him. He touched many people with his integrity and passion for his job. We so appreciate the wisdom and knowledge left behind by Don, and people like him.

Our most sincere and heartfelt thoughts go out to all of you in California and our wildland firefighting community.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
4/25 I am shocked and heartbroken to hear that Don has passed. He has been one of my favorite mentors, always ready to answer questions, to prod me to think further, a renaissance wildland firefighter and groundpounder at heart. He never ceased to amaze me... and make me laugh, often with delighted surprise! I can remember when I first met him and realized that many - on first glance - might underestimate his intellect, his photographic memory for maps, the fire & his peoples' locations, and his leadership. John Campbell the great mythographer would say that Don Studebaker was the archetypal groundpounder, wildland firefighter cum incident commander, truly a professional wildland firefighter of the old school. I loved it that Don was honest above all. Forget PC!

Several unofficial exchanges with Don stick out in my mind (my Don Studebaker slide collection) - They all have such positive emotional charge...

  • Sitting in the back row left side of the Division Chiefs meeting in the dark some years ago with him and Jeanne P-T, getting filled in (whispering) regarding large fire suppression costs, large fire's relation to failing to pick those fires up on IA, and the link between IA's success and resources (budgeted, funded, trained) and resource placement.
  • The video of an IC telling a loafing crew they didn't "cut the mustard" in no uncertain terms.
  • Talking with him one time over lunch in Sacramento about computer systems, simulation and training, IC3T certification, the timeframe everyone was operating under to get that done before fire season. He was so knowledgeable of fire, of his people, of strategy/tactics, of human factors, of the internet, of computer programming...
  • A discussion of the probable future of the wildland firefighting organization given the current OIG involvement and its impact on safety.
  • His announcement that he was finally retiring, his comment "I've traveled all over this country and you all should be proud of this BOD" and being so choked up when giving him a hug that I couldn't speak. We did talk that night at a party and he shared his plans, which did include fire and meant I wouldn't be loosing his presence, knowledge, and friendship entirely.

The wildland fire world is smaller for his passing. My life is much richer for his presence. I will not forget him. I would not be surprised if there will be moments when I will hear him in my mind reminding me to think about this or that in a particularly Studebaker firefighter way. I call such times my "studebaker moments". I am sure many others he interacted with and mentored have such rich and instructive memories.

My love and prayers for his family... I never had the good fortune to meet them in person, I can't imagine their loss.

My fire friends, take time to appreciate the people you admire, the people who have mentored you, the people who have made a difference in your lives. What we have for sure is the moment and the truth that lives in it. We need to tell people who make a difference thanks in the moment we can. I almost didn't give Don a hug that day because I was so choked up and a bit embarrassed at my feeling of loss. Thanks to the friend who prodded me to do it anyway.


4/25 JB,

Our northern CA forest has been trained and using SCBA for about 10 years now. We do not do structure firefighting but protect exposures during wildland fire. Occasionally we back up our red partners on a structure fire but only from the outside. We also use SCBA on vehicle fires. Most forests in R5 have had SCBA for many years. If your forest has just started, you are just catching up with the times. Let go of your fear of change and if your training isn't adequate check with the other forests and bring in better training. It isn't necessary to stand down the whole region. Most of us are quite safe in using this tool.

On another note, I am shocked to hear about Don Studebaker. He was a good man. My deepest, heartfelt wish for peace goes to his family and friends.

4/25 This is an open letter to everyone in the wildland world.

April 24, 2005

To all it may Concern:
It is with deep concern that I write this letter. It is my personal opinion and feelings that Region five of the U.S. Forest Service going All-Risk under the current regional implementation plan will jeopardize firefighter safety and well being. As such I feel that region wide all firefighting activities outside of the Forest Service’s scope and training should be brought to a stop until a time where a proper implementation and training program can be set up to properly train our employees for all risk activities.

I recently attended the SUBE class that is considered the Agency curriculum for training our firefighters for All-Risk activities. This class is thirty-two hours in length and very broad and general in the teachings and assumed that a lot of the people in the class had previous Structure experience. Coming from a forest that is just now engaging in putting SCBAs on their engines and beginning to train their personnel in structure tactics and ideals. I see a huge experience and training gap in the system. Many of the firefighters much less the Captains have never donned an SCBA or for that matter even seen one. This brings up the question of whether or not the Forest Service/Region 5 is providing the proper standardized training and facilities to bring all supervisors and firefighters to an equal and specific trained level in all-risk management. Some proactive people in the fire agency have chosen to seek out training and self-betterment outside of the Federal training system to keep themselves and their crews safe, but should they really have to do this?

Myself being one of these people, I jumped on board with a local municipal department as a pay per call firefighter. This department has a great reputation for their training program. It is easily one of the top two volunteer training programs in the state. They comply with the State of California’s Fire Fighter 1 training curriculum to create competent and safe structural firefighters. This program is one hundred and fifty hours plus (150+) of classroom and hands on training. Which is truly required to produce and maintain a safe work force in an all-risk atmosphere. Just comparing the number of hours involved in the state certification process versus the Forest Services training program should be alarming enough. People may argue that the certification process includes wildland fire classes and so the hours are knocked down a lot by this. The state certification of structural firefighters only includes forty hours (40) of wildland training which leaves one hundred and ten plus hours of critical safety training, which by no means creates a structural/all-risk specialist. They are more like a first year wildland firefighter that has yet to put the knowledge and techniques they have learned to use and build their slides of experience. So I pose these questions to everyone that reads this letter in the coming days. Why do we not use California’s training program for our people? What happen to putting our employees first? Am I an expendable asset after the thousands of dollars of training the Forest Service has put into me?

So here is my proposal to go all-risk in region 5. Here is how we all answer these questions and concerns.
  • First: Take a step back from all-risk for a few years till you have trained and competent crews in all-risk.
  • Second: Create an interagency training center in region 5 for all-risk training with the facilities to give attending students some hands on experience while providing a safe atmosphere. Utilize the masses of structure firefighters in California as an experienced and well-trained Cadre. Run it a lot like the NIJAC program where trainees spend a one-month period for two consecutive years at this academy. Tie in with the local departments around the academy so that the students have a chance to ride along with a city or suburban department. To get a little “real world” experience under their belts.
  • Third: Fight and get comparable salaries for firefighters to have retention and reduce the cost of constant re-training of new firefighters. Last of all at a forest level tie in more heavily with the local fire fighting agencies that currently are all-risk to help maintain the level of training and to keep abreast of new technology and tactics that are coming along in the industry.

We are facing the realities of an all-risk environment with the increasing number of homes being built along Forest Service and BLM boundaries. It is only natural that we will go all-risk. The question is will we go all-risk with all the tools in our toolbox or will the toolbox only be half full.


4/25 AB Please Post:

Don Studebaker, Retired Deputy Fire Chief for the Cleveland National Forest
had a heart attack on Sunday (April 24), late in the afternoon. He was
rushed to the hospital where he subsequently passed away. The medical team
worked on him for 45 minutes. Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
All of our thoughts and prayers go to Don's family who are dealing with
this unexpected loss. Don was an amazing person who always had a story to
tell. He will be missed on the Forest, in the fire community, and among
those who have known him for a couple of months to a couple of years. That
is how Don was, he is not a person who you would forget.

4/25 I don't know really how to say this, so I'm sorry for not being able to find the right words. This afternoon (Sunday, April 24th) Don Studebaker from Region 5 had a heart attack and passed away. I know some one here had mentioned knowing him, maybe it was Mellie? He just had his retirement party from USFS in January. He's been a wonderful mentor to me, and I just want everyone to know (who doesn't already know) that Don was a wonderful man. I was with his family today and we all discussed how everybody who meets him, loves him. I know he did an amazing job in the forest service. His family is in quite a bit of shock as you can imagine, but they also know that he lived to the fullest, and did what made him proud. And to those who had the opportunity to work with him, please know that he loved the job and those he worked with. You were all very special to him.

It's so soon, so I don't know any details about services. I'll call the regional office in the morning and they'll work it out.

I'm so very sorry that we've lost such a great man. I'm gonna miss him.

Newbie (Carrie Bowers)

Don's death is an incredible loss for the wildland firefighting world. Ab.

4/25 I was surfing the channels on Saturday and found a very informative one hour show on fire, "When Fire Goes Wild", it was on the Science Channel but may be on others too. It had several segments on various aspects of what scientists are doing to help firefighters and developing new and better tools. It also had some pretty good shots of fire and good interviews with firefighters who have survived burn overs.

One spot was on the development of the new second generation fire shelter being developed by the bother of the smoke jumper, Roger Roth (I think), who died on Storm King Mtn. The most interesting part to me was when they interviewed a research scientist who was working on computer modeling of fire whirls. She explained how two fire whirls can merge. When they come together they can generate winds in excess of 100 mph and toss fire out in front of the main fire up to 300 feet in less than three seconds. WOW. If you see it in your local listing it's worth the hour to see it, in my humble opinion.

Retired L.A.V.E.

Thanks for the heads up. Ab.

4/25 Just returned from the national A.C.E. conference put on by OAS in Reno and learned
some interesting new things are in the works for Federal Fire/Aviation including:

* The use of satellite tracking for all contract aircraft by 2006 (www.aff.gov) and eventually
3-dimensional satellite tracking for all aircraft, vehicles and specific personnel potentially by
2008 (www.keyhole.com). Keyhole was a technology developed by the C.I.A. in the late
eighties and recently sold to Google.

* The development and use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for IFR and intelligence in the
next several years in conjunction with NASA (OAS or AMB that is) and quite possibly the
development of SEAT UAVs in the next several years.

Quite exciting stuff, dont you think?

4/24 I thought this was hopeful. Feels good when it works...

An end to turf battles: New fire-fighting style tested at Camp 5 blaze
Rapid City Journal

"We came together as firefighters rather than as agencies."

Another SD firefighter, formerly of CA

4/24 Seems like I read on one of the GACC pages recently that they would be down -- or might
not work properly -- as the pages get updated to a standard format ... perhaps this is the
problem in the Northwest?

I sure hope standardization won't mean a reduction in information. Sometimes even national
information, like a particular form, could be easier to find on certain GACC sites, and I like
the Southern Region's "unable to fill" list.

Still Out There as an AD
4/24 Tahoe Terrie:

The only good news out of the recent T26 incident is that the pilot of that aircraft for the past several years was not on board. He is now the captain of T20. He is also an ATGS pilot in NM early every year before the Aero Union contracts kick in. So many of us who have flown with him and worked with him from both the ground and air are thankful at least for that.

Tell Greg thanks the next time T20 does a good job for you which will likely be soon. I sure will.

And so many prayers and tears for the families of 3 great men.

4/24 Yactac, is that article you sent me part of the reading assignment for L-380?


4/24 Kimberly S,

SInce most government agencies have most likely filled their seasonal positions for this year, you might want to look for private contractors in your area. IF you have trouble finding any, check with the nearest Forest Service office, they should know if there are any near you. If that doesn't work out, you could try contacting the larger contractors in Oregon. Contractors like Ore-Cal, Greyback, Patrick Environmental, and GHR usually have some sort of project work available to keep their crews fairly busy between fires thruout the summer. You could also contact Firestorm in CA, they are still advertising in the Jobs page on this site and offer in-house training. Good Luck.

4/24 I have found myself thinking of our three lost AT pilots with a lot of grief over the
last few days. What a tragedy... Tom, Paul, and Brian... Although I did not know
them well, I can readily picture T-26 in my mind. How often that AT, piloted wisely,
has saved our bacon on IA in northern california. I'll miss the sight. I'll miss the
sound. The AT family and the pilots families have my prayers.

Tahoe Terrie

Thanks for directions to the AT message board Ab. My old bookmark hasn't
worked for a while.

4/24 Anyone know why the NW area GACC page is down or how
long it will be that way? Or is it just my computer?

4/24 Hello, as a graduating high school senior, I'm looking for summer employment opportunities to help pay for college. A friend informed me of your organization, and I'm very interested in becoming a wildland fire fighter. However, I'm still a little confused with how the program works. Is there one common application for national federal jobs, or do I fill an application out for each department? I live in Utah, but I'm willing to travel anywhere. I am currently training to become an EMT, however I don't have any experience with firefighting. I realize the deadline for most application acceptances has already passed, and I was wondering if I would still be able to start work during June. I was wondering what the eligibility requirements are If someone could please contact me through mail or phone with this information, or potential contacts, that would be great. Thanks!

Kimberly S
Kskimbo168 @ aol.com

If anyone would like to reply to Kimberly, I'm sure she'd like to hear. Ab.

4/23 T-26

I have had the opportunity to work with Capt. Paul Cockrell during his piloting of weather modification planes. Paul was one of the best, most knowledgeable pilots that I have ever met. He always made sure that he knew in technical details what was going on, so that he could do not just a good job, but the best job possible. I didn’t know the other captains on T-26, but I know they were Paul’s equals. All three will be greatly missed.

Andrew R.

Readers, in case you don't know, here's another place to express condolences to the pilots' families and friends and to find information on services and memorial funds: the Air Tanker Pilots & Friends Board. Click Commo in the header and follow the links to the message forum. Because of spammers, you sometimes need a registered sign-in to read and write to the forum, but not right now.

CDFer Brian Kornegay, has also placed a link on his Virtual Condolences website for the three T-26 crew members.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones. Ab.

4/23 From Firescribe:

Tanker pilots undergo extensive training before taking to the sky

Team spends day scouring tanker crash site

Readers, you can conduct your own search on various fire topics by going to our News page. Clicking on WLF News Search in the left-hand menu takes you to some standard google wildland fire news searches. Ab.

4/22 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated.

Several new job positions are being recruited for Engine Boss, Helitack Crew Members, and Helitack Supervisors. Locations vary. See the Jobs Page for the new ads and more details. Ab.

4/22 To the crew of T-26: You will be greatly missed.

To family and friends: We are here for you. You are all in our thoughts
and prayers. If you ever need anything, all you have to do is ask.

Remember, you are our family, too!


4/22 From Firescribe:

My condolences to friends and families of those lost in the crash of T-26. I think I speak for many groundpounders. What a tragedy.

3 Pilots Die in Crash of Firefighting Plane (with some comments on investigation)
ChicoER (CA -photo)
Daily Review
(journalist is from Sacramento CA)
Washington Post
AZ Central

AZ Republic

Pilot killed Wednesday suffered tragedy when...

and on the upcoming IAWF Conference on Human Factors...
University of Montana will be site of wildfire summit

4/22 Ab,

Had not heard the Fire Chat rumors......
Guffaw.......chortle.........LOF LMAO.....

Old Fire Guy

haw haw
4/22 Yes, my response to TOM was incorrect re the number of Prineville Shots and appeared to dismiss the others who lost their lives on Storm King. The minute I hit the send button, I realized my TYPO was inexcusable!

As Mollysboy pointed out: "Most important, regardless of where the folks came from, that we must NEVER forget!"

Lori Greeno (4/19), my sincere apology for forgetting that you & others who have suffered a loss also read this forum & might misinterpret my "left handed" poorly worded suggestion that readers join the 52 Club.

In earlier years, information about individuals or families who suffered a debilitating injury or personal loss was often word of mouth - a small group or community support effort. Thanks to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation folk & this forum, FFs & their families support community has greatly expanded.
....but by the Grace of God....

Grief and sincere condolences to our Chico families,

4/21 Thanks Ab, thats what I thought and why I keep coming back.

4/21 Info about the tanker pilots who lost their lives.

Aero Union, the California company that owns the plane, identified the three aboard as pilots Brian Bruns, Paul Cockrell and Tom Lynch.

We will will miss you all, so very much.
For the rest of the story:


4/21 AB here is a Link to the Story. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=692573

Just put out on the ABC News 1 hour ago.

The plane, a P-3 Orion tanker, went down Wednesday evening in a rugged area of the Lassen National Forest, about 120 miles north of Sacramento.

The steep terrain prevented a rescue helicopter from landing at the crash site, forcing search-and-rescue teams to hike two to three miles to reach the wreckage, forest spokeswoman Leona Rodreick said. "It's a fairly remote spot, and it took them a while to find a route in," Rodreick said. "There are no roads or trails."

The crash caused a fire that burned over two acres by Thursday, and a helicopter and 20 firefighters worked to contain the blaze, officials said.

Aero Union, the California company that owns the plane, identified the three aboard as pilots Brian Bruns, Paul Cockrell and Tom Lynch.


4/21 Hello,

I was looking over your site this morning, checking to see if the tanker
that crashed on the training mission would be found in your photo pages and
getting ready for another fire season and I was wondering if I might make a

See, I drive a fire crew bus for Special Operations Group. I did see some
buggy/bus pictures sprinkled in among your photos for hand crews and fire
camps, I was wondering if, perhaps, you could head a photo page that
involves just crew transport, e.g., Airtankers, Equipment, Engines, Crew

While bus drivers aren't on the more glamorous side of firefighting, we do
get some incredible pictures and find ourselves in pretty hairy conditions.
We are, I'd like to believe, an integral part of the firefighting effort,
and deserve some credit for the services the transport companies provide.

A lot of the drivers that work for our company are retired firefighters and
do it because once you get fire in your blood it's hard to get out. While I
am not a firefighter, I have come to enjoy the thrill of being part of the
support system to the men, women and equipment that respond to these

We endure a different set of dangers than the firefighters, but dangerous,
nonetheless. One of our drivers was murdered by a firefighter on the job a
few years ago, we are responsible for the safe, reliable transport of crews,
overhead and, in some cases, pilots. I was lucky enough to have been
assigned the tanker pilots one year out of Lancaster (CA). We had a blast.
Before 395.12 was removed and reserved from the Driver Safety Book, we were
allowed to bypass all the legal restrictions on interstate drivers (now
mandated to 10 hours a day) for the first and last 48 hours. That was
dangerous in itself (thank goodness we don't have to do that anymore).

Anyway, I think you understand what I'm trying to say. I hope you consider
my suggestion.


Lori C

You transport folks certainly are an important part of the operation. As you mentioned, one of the Big Bar Complex bus drivers - Dick Blood - was stabbed to death in 1999.

I remember at least one story here of a bus driver who backed down a narrow track to "save" a crew that needed to move fast in front of a blowup. Needless to say, the crewmember who wrote was very appreciative.

We're happy to post photos of crew carriers, especially if they're in the field, have interesting action behind them, have flames or smoke column or have yellow-clad wildland firefighters around them. Some time back the Abs decided we won't make any more divisions of photo pages. It's just too much work. Please, though, we'd be happy to post your photos. Send 'em in. I'm sure we can find a good place for them. Ab.

4/21 Thanks to all the people who have responded to the Fire Jobs announcement for the Mad River R.D. We now have plenty of applicants. But one helpful thing, please, If you have been fired recently for misconduct, drugs etc. or are on felony parole, or have recent felony convictions, we probably will not be able to hire you. We go through former supervisors and check references, and do a thorough background check before making job offers. It can be a waste of your time as well as ours if you apply under these circumstances.

Thanks for all the response,

Screen those puppies! Ab.

4/21 Ab,


I know that "They Said" and the "Firechat" is a great place to share knowledge, experience, and education off the record.... Are people just LURKING to squeal on others or institute changes in firefighter safety?

Are things said on internet chat rooms and discussion groups actually listened to by the people who actually make the decisions?


Fire Chat: As far as we can tell, there are no bad lurkers in Chat. People remain civil and engage in interesting discussion, mostly fire-related to some degree or other, sometimes focused on policy, sometimes on local fire issues, training, building a water tender, etc. We have an Apache (a real one) that spirits through on the fringes every once in a while. "Hi Apache, Bye Apache." Our moderator Ember is frequently there. The rumor that Old Fire Guy is one of the regional fire chiefs, unh uh, not so. We hope firefighters raise each other's awareness of issues that impact safety, but Chat probably impacts and educates individuals more than it impacts policy right now. Chat is chat, where else could the Abs and fire crew sit with a brew and not have to drive home afterwards?

Theysaid, in contrast, impacts policy at many levels. Who would'a thunk it? Well we did, we have. We're dedicated to firefighter safety and to firefighter community...

We've discovered a forum like theysaid is called a BLOG. There's a reason that regular newspaper journalists and regular news media are concerned about blogs. People are sharing information on these forums person to person and beyond, and they're not journalists. On theysaid, they're professional firefighters from all over the country and sometimes the world.

Gizmo, our website provides a "statistics report" of general categories of viewers. They show your posts on theysaid are read by all of the interagency fire "categories" in this country and around the world. Theysaid is read by the white house sometimes, by congress, at least the staffers, and by the judicial branch of government. It's read by school kids and aspiring young firefighters, by college kids doing research and building websites, by teachers looking for lesson plans on fire and the environment, by environmentalists. Folks want to know what you're thinking for all kinds of reasons. I'm not surprised. Some good research is done by our dedicated contributors and, ya gotta admit, we do have experienced, knowledgeable and informed posters. We also have entertaining posters, story tellers, poets, people who occasionally rant, vent, stubbornly defend their position, and quirky characters who must'a written in at 3AM.

In the mid to late '80s and early '90s there was talk that the internet would change society because it provides a new "leveling" form of delivery for information exchange. How true that is: the carrier pigeon, printing press, pony express, mass transit, the telegraph, telephone, the television, transatlantic and transpacific cables, satellites, the laser all impacted society. More recently they've been joined by fiberoptics and the internet, and soon, real-time information exchange over all kinds of wireless apparatus, cell phones, plus tv, radio, etc. Boggles the mind.

I pointed out to Original Ab during the primary elections last year that he had created one of the earliest blogs that today is still in existence. We had a good laugh. Neither he nor I named it blog. That's a contraction of "web log". Any marketer would tell you it's not a pretty name for something as cool as theysaid. However, blog may be fitting. It has a kind'a "go ugly early", tongue-in-cheek humorous, wildland firefighter type quality to it.


4/21 This came in this morning. Ab.

Due to the crash of T-26 yesterday, Forest Service aviation has requested a
stand down of the P-3 fleet for pilot safety. As soon as we know the
duration of this stand down, we will pass that information to everyone. At
this point we have very little information on the incident with T-26, but
will share that too once an official release becomes available.

Chuck Wamack,
Assistant Center Manager, BLM
National Interagency Coordination Center

4/21 Abs, All;

Sad day for all of us. I was wondering if anyone knows which tanker the P-3 that went down was.

Condolences to all affected,

Class C Sagebrush Faller

T-26. I've heard the families have been notified. There are numerous pics of T-26 on the Waterfall fire and at Minden starting about AirTanker 11 photo page. May they rest in peace. May their families, friends and coworkers find peace. May we all... Ab.
4/21 Newbie,

The reason some places ban face masks is not just that they aren't NFPA approved, but that research has shown that some masks just break up the smoke particles smaller (PM 10,PM 2.5) and can lodge deeper in the lungs, causing more long term damage than larger particles. The USFS has Doctors on staff at research stations that look into these things. When a safe and efficient mask comes out that is usable, we will probably get them.

4/21 Thanks to good ol' George for his good work on the ground.
Thanks to SAR. Thanks to Mike. Not an easy task...

Stay heads up.

NorCal Tom.

4/21 Ab,

Here's a link to testing that FEMA is doing

FEMA tests digital alert system
Technology will send messages to wireless devices, radio, TV and the Internet: some excerpts...

The system is currently being tested in the DC area. As someone mentioned, not everyone has access to tv or radio. Broadening the alerting system to all kinds of wireless devices and the internet makes sense in the case of evacuations.


[Gary Jones said] officials are asking participants to provide feedback on how well they received the message, whether it was in the right format and whether they were able to re-transmit the message to their customers.


By law, the national Emergency Alert System (EAS) reaches 95 percent of the population mainly through TV and radio broadcasts, Hoover said. But not everyone has a television or radio or is constantly watching or listening to them.

"By transitioning to this datacasting technology, you'll get that message if you've got a cell phone or a pager or a [Research in Motion] BlackBerry, or you're sitting on your computer or on your home telephone for that matter," Hoover said. "We think that the capability and reach will not be 100 percent but certainly approaching that."

Interesting times on the interface
Be Safe


4/21 Here's the info that's going around R6 on AD Rates
Notes from Regional/Interagency Incident Business Mgt. Meeting
AD rates and incident business updates.

Notes are in red.

R6 F/F

4/21 Ab,

My heartfelt condolences to the families of Aero Union. Some of the finest individuals I have ever worked with in the aviation world.

On a different note could you please post our announcement for our 75th annual Southern California Forester and Fire Wardens Conference. It will be held at Camp Pilgrim pines resort in San Bernardino on May 5 & 6..

Go to www.pilgrimpinescamp.org for directions. I have attached the conference flyer. Cost is only $80.00 for a two day seminar which includes food and lodging. Lodging is cabin style camping. Bring your sleeping bag. Subjects are listed on the flyer however some great speakers will be here for the 75th. They include Chief Geldert – Director of CDF, Author John MacLean – Storm King and beyond, Dan Kleinman on Tactical Decision Making games (Sand Table exercises), 1970-2003 Wildfires – What have we learned – Chief John Hawkins CDF, Staff Rides, Helitack 404 burn over, just to name a few.

Cant beat the program for the price.

Hope see many of you there.

Ray Chaney

Ab would be happy to forward the application flyer to anyone requesting it.

4/21 My thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with the families
of the crewmembers lost yesterday in the P-3 crash.

A great big hug and thank you to Misery Whip for letting the
moths free from his wallet! You are my hero.

Lori Greeno
4/21 My condolences to the family and friends of the P-3's flight crew. Wow! It's not even fire
season and we have an air tanker have that has gone down, that is sad.

I was out yesterday at about 3:30 PDT and heard a familiar sound, I looked up and it was
an old piston CDF S-2 pushing its way through the sky. Maybe it was an omen? Don't
know, go with God guys.

Everyone else out there be safe, think safe, safety first, last, always.

Retired L.A.V.E.
4/21 I am so very sorry that we've lost an AT pilot and crew. I feel for
the airtanker community as well as for immediate family and friends.
"Condolences" don't begin to cover my feelings.


4/21 Ab, I was listening to one of your scanner sites - NorCal Live out of Red Bluff - link
on the news page last night and heard what sounded like a SAR on an AT crash.
The crash site was not accessible by air. People hiked in. They got there about 0400.
Ishi IC is the name of the operation.

My condolences. This is just terrible.

NorCal CDF

PS: Ab, please add this. Jake who owns and operates Northern California Live just
posted it on the AT message board: location 40deg00.2 x 121deg 42.5

4/21 Aero Union Corporation lost a P-3 and crew yesterday while on a crew
training flight. See attached link.

It's another very sad day for firefighters. May the crew rest in peace and
heartfelt condolences to the families.


more: www.modbee.com/state_wire/story/10349838p-11155192c.phpl

4/21 This is all pretty nebulous. I'm hearing that a CHP helo located a plane
crash near Chico. And the Chico paper is reporting that it's a P3 on a
training mission.

Aero Union tanker crashes: Three crew members believed to be dead

Sorry that's all I know.

John Fisher

4/20 Hey everyone just seen a thing on the redding news that a air tanker from the aero union in chico has crashed. the crash area is believed to be on the south end of the lassen. also the aircraft that suspected of going down is a P-3. The aircraft was out doing a maintenance flight or check up flight. this doesn't look good for not having any fires yet. well my condolence go out to the families and aero union.


Readers, we appreciate any heads up on accidents. We don't post without verification that the families are alerted and cared for, but we do let the WFF know so they can make arrangements to help the families asap if help is needed. I posted this on 4/21 although it came in last night. Ab.

4/20 Ab, please post the attached. This is going to be a pretty big deal. I
believe they're planning on both FS and CDF Honor Guards, as well as a
bunch of dignitaries. Everyone interested is invited. Mark your
calendars. Hopefully we won't all be out on fires.....
The new overlook (still under construction, but will be done in time) is
very impressive, and a big improvement over the old one.


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

The Mendocino National Forest
cordially invites you to attend
The Dedication Ceremony
The Rattlesnake Fire Overlook

Saturday, July 9, 2005
10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Forest Highway 7 (S.R. 162); then 2 miles up Old Alder Springs Road from
the Forest Service boundary sign
(40-minute drive west of Willows, CA)
(parking at Gillaspy Ranch and Firefighter Memorial, with shuttle bus service to the site beginning at 8:30 a.m.)

10:00 a.m.

Optional guided hikes along the trails where the fatalities occurred
11:15 a.m.

Jensen Park, Willows, for No Host gatherings/picnics
Noon to 5:00 p.m.

Questions? Contact Phebe Brown, Public Affairs Officer,
at 530.934.1137, email pybrown @ fs.fed.us,
or mail 825 No. Humboldt Ave., Willows, CA 95988

The Overlook will have interpretive exhibits describing the events of the Rattlesnake Fire on July 9, 1953, that claimed the lives of 15 firefighters. This was one of the deadliest fires in Forest Service history and afterward generated many of the standard safety practices used today to protect wildland firefighters. The exhibits at the site were developed in partnership with California Dept of Forestry and Fire Protection, California Ranch, and Glenn County Fire Chief's Assn. The site will be will be open for use by the general public and will also be used by new and veteran firefighters in their training.

4/20 Eric and Gizmo:

Thanks for the replies, I thought breathing in 900 deg's sounded a little off. I asked one of my instructors about that, thinking that's gotta be too hot to breathe. He confirmed that breathing in 900 degrees would lead to some serious issues. But he also mentioned that the hot shields made it difficult to breathe, so I'll take a look at those Whiffs. Who cares about snot rings anyway?

I looked back in some of the archives here and some one had mentioned that some agencies actually barred employees from wearing protection other than the bandanas, being as they weren't NFPA approved. Well, of course neither is the bandana, but what can you do? Has anything new come up or has the NFPA finally approved anything? I find it hard to believe that the NFPA is not concerned about improving respiratory protection for some one they might have to insure. Or is it that it cost too much for companies to go through the process to get their product approved?

Thanks again,
4/20 Update on 3 firefighters in the North Dakota grass fire.

Mark Keller has 3rd degree burns over his chest, arms and face. The back
of his head and neck have 2nd degrees burns. His wife is staying in the
hospital room down the hall, but as soon as another burn victim family comes
in she will have to move to a motel. The Foundation will be notified and
pick up her motel room then.

James Myers is single and has 2nd degree burns around his eyes. They are
looking at doing skin grafts.

Jeremy Olson is married and has 3 little boys, ages 5, 3, 1. He has a broken
foot and 2nd degree burns on both feet.

Lorrie Greeno, thanks your for your post. I know that people in fire spend
most of their careers helping and looking out for others and I know John was
that kind of man. So, I can say from this community that it was an honor to
help you, and your children.

I also know that the Parents of Storm King who put up the monument in
Prineville are some of the finest people who touch this foundation. They
have done a wonderful job in Prineville, and if those parents even hear that
we have a need, and they are sending us money.

I also wanted to mention that the statue going in the Boise Airport is to
help the public to understand and support the role that the Wildland
Firefighter plays in protecting life, property and natural resources in
this country. It is to honor and recognize the hard working, professional
Wildland Firefighter.

Vicki Minor
Director, Wildland Firefighter Foundation
4/20 Regarding the current thread on the AD issue this is a letter to my elected representatives:

On Monday, April 18 you received a faxed letter from the AD Firefighter Association (ADFA) regarding recent attempts to cut pay rates and benefits for casual wildland firefighters hired and paid through the Administratively Determined (AD) hiring authority of the federal government. As a current casual wildland firefighter paid through AD authority I fully support the ADFA in everything stated in that letter.

You need to understand the scope of this issue on your constituents affected—and the potential impact on America’s ability to fight wildfires—is much larger than many seem to realize. In order of degree the groups affected are:

1. Semi-organized Native American and Hispanic Firefighter Crews
2. State Employees who work as ADs using vacation time on large mobilizations
3. Volunteer Fire Department members on large wildfire mobilizations
4. “Seasonal” employees such as schoolteachers and spouses working as dispatchers
5. Retired Fire Management Professionals with critical skills
6. Contract firefighters who are paid on a scale with AD firefighters

The continued loss of wages and/or benefits to ADs has already disaffected all of these constituencies. America is already having trouble filling out fire crews during national emergencies and incident management teams already rely heavily on ADs for positions requiring critical skills and continue to have problems filling these positions. Continuing to disaffect these constituencies will further exacerbate the well-known firefighter shortages that America already faces. I, for one, will not fight fire anymore. I simply cannot afford it. My local casino or Wal-Mart pays better, is a lot safer, is a permanent job, and I get to stay home with my family!

It completely amazes me that the National Wildfire Coordination Group has not enhanced the pay and benefits for casual firefighters in recent years. They instead cut AD wages for most of us by up to several dollars an hour 4 years ago and recently proposed to further cut them by up to 40%!! ADs have been subjected to harassment by federal employees in recent years that smacks of anti-contracting and anti-outsourcing. If this happened to a regular federal employee it would be considered a hostile work environment and grounds for grievance.

I want to meet with you and/or your staff soon. I will be contacting your staff very soon to arrange to do so.

A Neglected and Concerned AD Firefighter
4/20 As part of the ADFA’s effort to increase wages for ADs, in this case the
100+ Type 2 AD Fire Crews, does anyone have a list or partial list of
Type 2 Crews?

In particular, the SWIFF Crew List and Alaska Native Crew List as
well as other Native American and/or Type 2 AD Crews around the

Please e-mail Hugh Carson at adfa@rmci.net

Thanks in advance.

Hugh Carson
Chair, AD Firefighters Association
4/20 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
4/20 Ab, here's the

Preliminary 2005 Seasonal Fire Weather / Fire Danger Outlook for the Northwest Geographic Area


Ab put the nuts and bolts of the report in html since I couldn't find it on the internet. If anyone would like the original word document and/or the single powerpoint image showing the national fire potential outlook, Ab will send it.

4/20 72 Hour Report on the Chainsaw Accident

Heads up folks.

4/20 Gizmo and others...

Concerning SOPS and other GACC web pages, YES they are being standardized. With a link off of the NICC page... up and running May 3rd I do believe. Being modeled after the SW pages, one of the best GACC pages we have. Problems in CA are the debate what can go on the inter- and intra-net. A big debate right now. The sites planned to be up this spring not last fall. I will find out more info and with links as soon as I can and post it. Yes even the dispatchers in Northern and Southern CA are frustrated over the debate on what can go where and what can not be on internet in our region but other regions do post. So I will find out what I can.

4/20 Debbie Miley,

It is great to see the things that NWSA is doing to improve the contract resources. Nowhere in my post did I state anything about contractors. My post was meant to bring to light the training that was being provided by a "puppy mill" as NWCG approved courses in order meet the new Oregon Mobe standards. I have been following what the NWSA is doing and I applaud them on being a leader and watchdog for their profession.

Lobotomy (No Fear of Being Mislead... to many ologists, academics, OIG's, friends. and family watching)

A permanent link to NWSA is located on the Classifieds page. Ab.

4/20 newbie, if the air coming through your mask is 900 degrees you have
bigger problems than the neoprene. I have used the whiffs brand and
they work well. Other than the ring of snot they leave behind, I like
4/20 Out of my element:

While the weather warning system you posted about may be somewhat useful for travelers and possibly for firefighters I doubt it will be any more accurate or faster than the local news weather broadcasts or NOAA weather forecasts that we can already get nationwide on our portable radios in the field. I doubt if Storm Hawk has any qualified Fire Weather Forecasters on its staff. Sounds more like something the storm chasers and recreational users might like. The technology part minus the GPS tracking of my location sounds like it may be something that could be integrated into our dispatch organizations but how much better is it than what we already have access to.

I am also pretty sure I do not want some private company tracking my whereabouts by GPS or any other method to tell the truth. We are living in an age in which it is becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain any privacy. With RFID on many of the products we buy and other methods of tracking our personal habits these private companies and the Government are amassing huge amounts of personal information. These same companies have a very bad habit of selling our personal information to anyone who pays a fee. All this type of technology just brings us one step closer to the reality of Orwell’s Big Brother. I’ll pass thanks.

If they really are watching you, can they call you paranoid??

Winston Smith
4/20 A question for the masses.

I would like to know what should be done with Rangers that over step their powers. We currently just submitted our list for temp hiring on our District. The hand crew came out with 70% minority and women on the crew after their selections. The Ranger asked to look at the list of the people who weren't selected and then started questioning why they weren't offered positions. The only people he was interested in were the people of hispanic decent, the ranger is also hispanic. All the people that weren't selected either had bad references or no experience and that didn't matter. Currently the crew is 50% hispanic which is pretty impressive for an isolated district in Northern Cal. Our crew boss has been recruiting people all winter, going to job fairs, handing out flyers, notifying military bases and the list goes on. It really angers me that now he isn't being allowed to hire his own crew and the ranger is now trying to make the selections. Our FMO made the statement "when is enough enough?" a question I wish someone would answer.

signed: Lets start getting more resource managers and let go of all these career managers
4/19 Newbie,

If your neoprene mask melts at 900 degrees.... don't worry... you will already be severely burned and dead. Its alot like the old argument, "We must use metal helmets, plastic melts".... take those "goggles off of your hard hat, they'll melt." or the most recent one from a state agency.... you can't use that webgear because it melts!!!.... or it may just be the hard old fact that wildland firefighters hate change.... and some of the best changes for safety come from a newbie asking questions.

If my webgear or anything I'm wearing is being exposed to those temperatures, I must have done something wrong.

4/19 Ab,

I have to ask, is the dialogue between Out Of My Element and Jackson legit? It sounds very much like a set piece advertisement for Storm Hawk, if you know what I mean. If either one of these folks has any connection to Storm Hawk, they should be ashamed of themselves for not publicly stating their association with this product. If I am mistaken, please forgive my suspicious and wicked mind.

This past fire season, the Missoula Jumpers and MTDC were testing military style battle-hardened laptop computers coupled with digital cameras, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, GPS, satellite connections, etc. If the Storm Hawk really is a worthwhile gizmo it should be impartially evaluated by fire people in the field.

I was quite moved by Lori Greeno's touching and eloquent appeal for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. I admire her for caring enough to publicly support the WFF in spite of having lost her husband just a few weeks ago. I cannot imagine the courage this must have taken.

Looks like our They Said family has another reluctant, but much loved, member of The People Who Really Care About Wildland Firefighters Club. Lori, whether you realize it or not, you have many friends out here. Please consider this an invitation to post here anytime you damn well please.

I am finally going to do what my miserable cheapskate skinflint Scrooge self should'a already done long ago, I'm going to write a check to the 52 Club right after I send this.

Misery Whip

Haw haw. Wicked mind. Yeah, both are legit, both are wildland firefighters with no product to sell. Ab.

4/19 SoCal FF,

I don't have the 72 hr. report here at home, but the upshot was:
kick back + broken chain brake = injury to face and teeth.
He apparently had all PPE except long sleeves.


4/19 Northzone5 - 9 members of the Prineville IHC died on the South Canyon Fire;
the others were 3 SJ's (1 from Missoula and 2 from McCall) and 2 helitackers.

Most important, regardless of where the folks came from, that we must
NEVER forget!

4/19 always wear your PPE!
thought you might like the attached photo


4/19 vfd cap’n,

You said, “Their cover memo makes it clear that they're not interested in hearing from outsiders: "Only comments from NWCG member agencies will be accepted for review by the IOSWT."

What you seem to have missed is that…… “The IOSWT is soliciting all field units to review this document and comment on changes and improvements to be considered by the IOSWT for inclusion in the 310-1. Agencies should consolidate all comments through their agency Regional/State Fire Management Officers or State Foresters and forward these comments to their respective agency representative on the IOSWT.

The reason that comments will only be accepted from NWCG member agencies is because they do not want every swinging pulaski to make individual comments and overwhelm the system.

State and local governments are represented within the NWCG through the National Association of State Foresters (Member Agency). The process would be to have your department submit your responses/concerns/corrections to your local state forester through whatever channels are established in your state. Please note that while each federal agency only has one “member”, the National Association of State Foresters has two “members”, east and west. Within these "members" are sub-members... ie- Northeastern States Rep., Western States Rep., etc...)

vfd cap’n, if you see changes that are needed, I would applaud you for using the process and forwarding them through channels to your representing member agency.

4/19 Anyone know if info on the chain saw accident is out?

SoCal FF

It is but we don't have it. Ab.

4/19 Ab, look what I found on CAP.

The CAP: What, Why and How


Thanks for that. Ab.

4/19 northozone5,

Why should people be skeptical of the need for donations to the WFF? I am one of the recipients of a grant from them and thank goodness they had the money to give to me. While I am now in a situation to be able to repay it in kind, I know that not everyone is. Take a minute and think about your families and if they were in the situation that I was just a few weeks ago; paychecks frozen, no insurance coming in because of waiting for death certificates, bills piling up, house payments to be made. If it hadn't been for the generosity of the WFF, I'm not sure what I would have done. I had never heard of the organization until my husband's death. So please, if any one out there is having misgivings about donating to them, DON'T! Know that they are using the funds wisely and helping out the fire community tremendously.

Lori Greeno

Thanks for your re-affirmation of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Lori. We're also thankful for their work.

We Abs don't think people are skeptical either. While some people may not be convinced enough to donate right this minute, I think most see the need. If not now, I hope they'll contribute as soon as they can. All our families deserve the backup. Paypal makes it easy.

Vicki, Melissa and Burk have always said the Foundation is a funnel, a way for us wildland firefighters of all kinds to support our firefighter families who've lost a breadwinner. To have money and resources ready to go out when needed, there need to be donations coming in. I know for a fact that money that has gone out to our families every year has pushed right up close to the money that's come in. Growth of the 52 Club is helping. Lori, thanks again for your positive voice. Ab.

4/19 Lobotomy

Reading between the lines and having ESP must be a S course I missed
or I might have cut class 15 minutes early. Evidently you are qualified to
teach this class. <grin>

4/19 Ab did some calling around re the Public evacuation system technologies questions.

The geospatially oriented public warning system is called the Common Alerting Protocol. It's not a system but a medium for transmission of the emergency messages that are shared among agencies or between agencies and individuals. Its acronym is CAP. (I guess they rejected the kind of logical naming terminology that came to my mind above as being too prone to misinterpretation?)

I've heard rumors that fire might be involved.

My opinions:

All kidding about naming aside, fire moves FAST on the Wildland Urban Interface across the West. Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, California, you name the state, the interface is the reality.

SoCal 2003... This Ab was scrambling here for days to get timely info out to a clamoring Public during the 2003 socal firesiege because NO INFO was available online over that late-Friday-Saturday-Sunday time period. Very little info was even available via the media except on local news. (Have you noticed events that happen on weekends are not as important?)

Most of you regular CA readers and contributors were working on that fire. I called some of you personally for updates. (Thanks.) I called Information Officers at Incident Command Posts. The phone lines were often busy. LA City, LA County, Santa Barbara City, Santa Barbara County had nothing on their websites about where the fires were and who was being evacuated. No one there was even answering their office phones with information. They were off fighting the fires. CalMAST - JIC, they weren't yet up to speed. A small southern sierra website (in an area adjoining San Bernardino NF) folded because of bandwidth use, ISP fines and cost overload. We were getting many hundreds of inquiries here as we had gotten them during the Arizona and Colorado fires. (Luckily (?) we had been fined earlier in the season for bandwidth overuse when some NOVA program linked to us; as a result, we had just bought a larger site for wildlandfire.com.) We kept our CA Fires 2003 up to date in the basics, with links to the local internet media and to other sites when we could find them, even to mom and pop websites with questionable information. The Public was in a panic. Their relatives across the country were worried. SoCal residents couldn't get information. They could see the flames, were choked by the smoke, and many didn't know what to do. I'm sure it was the same on the Rodeo-Chedeski and Hayman Fires.

It was even harder to get information on other fires that roared to life and encircled communities further south. In spite of web searching and calling, I was not able to find much info on the San Diego Area - Cedar Fire - and others near Mexico. It's like that area of southern California is a Black Hole when it comes to ANY internet fire info.

Easier and more timely ways to alert our Public is a MUST. How many lives might have been spared on the Cedar Fire if we had CAP ringing people's cell phones telling them to leave NOW and what routes to avoid because they were compromised by fire? Lives could be saved.

I think the HUGE risk here is that ICs and Incident Management Teams get saddled with yet another function or responsibility that is neither supported nor funded and it's not about fighting fire in the woods or on our public wildlands, per se. Heck, our wildland firefighters didn't have enough time to complete pencil and paper checklists with the 2003 fires moving as they did. Counties have traditionally had the responsibility for fire evacuation unless we're talking about clearing out campgrounds on federally managed lands. Such evacuations are not covered in the FS mission statement unless you take "serving people" out of context and interpret it in that way.

Think of it. If these things are coming - Common Alerting Protocol - and they are, how can CAP be implemented REALLY? Who will do that? With what systems? With what money? (Maybe more important to firefighter managers reading here is who becomes criminally liable if the system fails and people die?)

  • The FS has lost its Information Technology folks from the forests where the interface fires rage (...along with the Finance people who knew the fire cooperators... and the $$$ millions to finance those reorganization moves got pulled out of the fire and fuels budgets allocated by congress!).
  • There's pressure to reduce IMT size. Earlier this year Boise was saying, "Order the IT people and wait until they can be dispatched; don't worry you will eventually get who you need." Would that delay have cost lives on the Hayman Fire?

Who else could possibly manage the Common Alerting Protocol system of the future? The state of CA (or AZ or OR, etc) is not equipped. Have you even seen CDF's computers lately? One more year and they could be sold in a "retro" vintage computer shop. They need upgrading. We are not a third world country! What about counties, cities taking on CAP? I hope long before the CAP "tone" needs to hit the airwaves that the program gets reasonably funded, staffed, and implemented.

It would make sense to me that we have a two pronged approach, PUSH and PULL:
1) an appropriately managed and funded Common Alerting Protocol that ICs push information to instead of having their dispatch call county.
2) one stop real-time fire info shopping online with real time data on fire perimeters, evacuation instructions, etc. It's much more cost effective in time and money and Public reassurance for people to "pull" the info they need off the dynamic real-time web when they need it to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, whether it's info on fire perimeter, pet shelter availability or evacuation. There needs to be ONE OFFICIAL PLACE online with robust bandwidth capabilities, not the redundancy of sites that may be up or down depending on day of the week, bandwidth overload, etc.


4/19 Hey Ab, I am not sure if this is the right way to get a message on they
said. I am looking for two detailers for a 75 day contract. FF2 is the
minimum quals I can take. We are also a rappel crew. Thanks, I love your

Joshua M. James
Prescott Helitack
928-777-5733/5732 wk
4/19 Ab,

The California Fire Planning and Mapping Tools site is collocated with
GEOMAC. We tried to use the same look and feel since numerous people were
familiar with GEOMAC and we have the same programmer working on our site.

During the fire storm of 2003 the server was handling approximately 5-9
million hits a day. While it did slow down, the server never crashed.
Our agreement has built in development and support until 2009. The
agreement ensured that the grant money can be used to update or replace the
server if needed.

The California Fire Planning and Mapping Tools


Thanks for the info Victoria. The system used has to be able to handle the internet traffic. Ab.

4/19 Re the state, local, fed, contractor, vfd training thread.

It is all about getting on the same page with training. If there are national
standards I think a F/F would be a fool to not get trained to that level.
If you don't you can't play in every way. I hope those "short hour" training
courses in OR are not misrepresenting what they offer and what certs F/F
completing the training will receive.

I have heard all the qualifications are going online soon. People and
resources will be tracked. Individual certs will be a matter of instant record.
When that happens F/F who do not have minimum training will get left out
or worked around in spite of MOUs. The excellent contractors see the
writing on the wall and have set a standard. Professionals police each other.

In my experience there's never enough time in courses to share the "slides"
that might save someones life. How much time is there for examples in a
short course?

I need and use every minute of the real-deal courses.

OR Trainer

4/19 Jackson, you may scoff, but here's an example of this technology's potential in a disaster.

I was talking with a friend last night about the technology posts. She said that after the South Asia tsunami the cell phone companies got together, identified the areas people might have died in, located the cell phones operating within those gps areas and sent a text message to all the cell phones. It asked people who received the message to reply. As a result of responses thousands were taken off the missing persons lists.

I can see this working in a similar way for evacuations whether for wildland fire on the interface or in a large scale terrorist attack. We needed a better system to evacuate citizens in the socal fires of 2003. I heard that some high muckity mucks with homeland security and affiliated all risk fire departments are working on testing this kind of system.

Does anyone know more?

NorCal Tom

4/19 does that mean that if we're structure firefighters or contractors and
take those short hour state courses we couldn't fight fire on anything
but oregon state fires?

is there a way that blm or fs could check that?
if we're already on a state fire will the feds keep us if it goes big?


4/19 Lobotomy,

NWCG now has the draft 310-1 revision available for review. The comment period is open through May 20th. www.nwcg.gov/teams/ioswt/310-1review.php

The Incident Operations Standards Working Team is responsible for the 310-1 revision. Their cover memo makes it clear that they're not interested in hearing from outsiders: "Only comments from NWCG member agencies will be accepted for review by the IOSWT."

I suggest that agency folks need to solicit comments from those non-members you work with and send them up the chain. If you are concerned about the training/qualification of cooperators and contractors, maybe input from those groups would be a good thing.

Of course, the timing is just great for the field units. One more thing to do, just as FMOs are trying to: (1) finish out their IQCS entries, (2) meet the prescribed fire acreage targets, (3) see if they actually have a budget this year, and oh yeah, (4) gear up for fire season.

vfd cap'n
4/19 Oliver, it’s not a battle about the Big Green vs. the local govt. or state cooperators… It’s about SAFETY and you seem to let agency biases get in the way. NWCG is multi-agency, involving federal agencies, state, and local government.

Did you even take time to look at the link that “frustrated in r-6” provided before you started typing away? Did you re-read r-6’s posts and mine twice before you started writing defensive posts? Are you afraid of making things safer or just really good at stirring the pot with lots of irrelevant info to the discussion?

www.nwcg.gov/pms/training/fmcg.pdf Updated April 2005.


NWCG is aware that there have been courses presented in an abbreviated form, varying greatly from the suggested course hours. Instructors and students are cautioned that in order to be recognized as an NWCG certified course, certain guidelines must be followed:

  • Lead instructors are encouraged to enhance course materials to reflect the conditions, resources and policies of the local unit and area as long as the objectives of the course and each unit are not compromised.
  • Exercises can be modified to reflect local fuel types, resources and conditions where the student will be likely to fill incident assignments. The objectives and intent of the exercises must remain intact.
  • Test questions may be added that reflect any local information that may have been

    added to the course. However, test questions in the certified course materials should not be deleted to ensure the accurate testing of course and unit objectives.
  • Test grades, to determine successful completion of the course, shall be based only on the questions in the certified course materials.


If a course is available through PMS, the recommended course hours and the “NWCG Position on Course Presentation and Materials” WILL be adhered to by the course instructors.


4/19 Lobotomy,

I am concerned that you are being mislead, the link that was given to you by Frustrated in Region 6 to the DPPTS training site, is training that is being given to structure fire departments NOT private Sector Contractors. Under the MOU with Region 6 we are required to meet the 310-1 training requirements just as the agencies are and in NWSA we even encourage our members to exceed that level. I would welcome you to attend one of our NWSA Conferences and our annual Mandatory update sessions for our certified instructors to see the level of training required and the quality of instructors being used. Please visit our website at www.nwsa.us and click on training to see how it is done in the private sector.

Debbie Miley

4/19 Any Hot Shot crews out there looking for a detailer this summer?


4/19 Anyone know what happen to the 6 Minutes for Safety. It is now giving
me weird information and not coming through to my computer correctly.
I rebooted with no effect??


I see the message for the day is on the blink. Ab.

4/19 TOM who provided the link to the Prineville website, thank you!
it's amazing what a loving & supportive small community can accomplish and continue to maintain in honor of their fallen FFs.

The 14 Prineville "Shots" will forever remain near & dear to me for very personal reasons. I hope to someday visit their memorial and sit quietly as I mourn the loss of so many groundpounders.

Vickie, although some may remain skeptical about the need for financial support, others may prefer to support specific people or events. we haven't inquired yet, does Wildland Firefighter Foundation offer options?

4/19 Out of My Element-

Holy Cow, you're right about the Storm Hawk hand-held PDA that tracks weather and storms in real time! In addition to what you described, their site claims that it provides "real time lightning strike data" and "tracks storm movement to provide forecasts 30 minutes into the future, plus lightning PREDICTION with up to 97% accuracy." (emphasis mine).

Can you imagine how useful it would be for a crew out on Division Echo to have a real-time hand-held map of the predicted path of a mature thunderstorm cell, or a map of lightning downstrikes in the last 10 minutes, or PREDICTED lightning?

What if the Fire Behavior Analyst were able to transmit to crews the latest fire behavior prediction along with a map? What if an Infrared equipped aircraft could send the Laguna Hot Shots a map showing the spot fire below them?

Over the last several years the military has installed thousands of GPS-enabled gizmos in field units that transmit their location back to a map at headquarters. Wouldn't it be nice if we automatically had real-time accountability of all of our fire units and knew exactly where they were? For example if your storm or lightning prediction PDA forecasted strong winds or lightning. Or if the fire made a run toward where crews were assigned, you could determine who was there and be able to warn them. And confirm that they made it to a particular safety zone.

All of this technology is available now--off the shelf. It's crazy that we are not taking advantage of this. If our leadership was proactive about safety, they would be forcing this on us.

Elect me King of Fire and I promise to Make It So!

4/19 Yactac

I remember reading Mr. Weavers anguish filled article regarding the Thirty Mile incident in a forestry type publication I can't remember the name of. I also remember Rep. Cantwell screaming that heads would roll, there will be hell to pay if this ever happens again, the USFS doesn't take care of its employees, etc.(Thirty Mile happened in an election year, don't forget that bit of timing to draw maximum political interest.) Then came the passage of legislation that calls for investigations for USFS personnel any time there is a fatality. Never mind that this bill fails to recognize that BLM, BIA, USFWS, and NPS all train wildland suppression resources and could have fatality fires right alongside the USFS, especially in this new age where you go to a class for 40 hours and know all there is to know about fire behavior.

If one fed agency is to be scrutinized in their actions when several other agencies contribute to the same effort, then all those agencies should be covered under the same legislation.

Personally, as a wildland fire decision maker I wouldn't do a thing without liability insurance in this day and age.

One last thing. After reading Mr. Weaver's article, I did an extensive amount of Thirty Mile mitigation training for the forest I was on the next spring. Then I read the article again. My conclusion: All the folks that listened to the CRWB and the CRWB(T) and did as they were instructed are still here and the folks that decided to follow someone else's instructions are not. So was it inexperience, disregard for peoples safety , or a crew cohesion problem? Also, regarding Thirty Mile, was told several months ago not to respond to any attournies that may or may not come sniffing/sliming around asking questions about how we train our new folks in the use of fire shelters and what we tell them that a shelter will endure.

Be safe and be cautious. Lots of ways to be taken down in a career ending s##t storm.


4/19 Gizmo-
I noticed the lack of updates on the R5 site as well. This will be my first season and I was hoping to get an outlook. Oh well, guess I can just go hang out at Palomar to get the answer to that one. Looks like a lot of states are going to have a busy season anyway.

Question for everyone: does anyone wear anything besides bandanas for respiratory protection out on the line? I spoke with my captain last week and had asked if it would be wise to purchase something with a little more protection. He said the hot shield products have neoprene in them that melt at 900 degrees, whereas fires can get much hotter than that. Which makes sense I guess, like wearing all cotton underwear. But what about products like the Bandit on firecache.com? It doesn't seem to have a whole lot of neoprene in it, yet it offers more protection than a regular bandana. It's got an active carbon filter to breathe through. Anyway, anybody got any suggestions?

4/18 For those who are looking for the latest and greatest fire perimeters in California I recommend the website created through a National Fire Plan grant and sponsored by the California Fire Alliance- it is known as:

The California Fire Planning and Mapping Tools site at:

The USFS Region 5 and BLM California have already issued official policy stating that this web mapping system is where fire perimeters will be posted for 2005. CDF will be issuing official policy any day (there is draft policy) that they will be using the same site. It is also open to other agencies for posting wildfires, wildfire use fires, or prescribed burns. It is password protected and if anyone is interested in posting, please contact me or one of the other contacts posted on the site.

This site also has fire history, fuels, communities at risk, locations of fuels projects, CDF assessments, and more. Users can download data, create maps, or simply view the latest information out there.

Please let us know what we can do better for you in terms of web mapping. This is an interagency site and we are working together to get the agencies and the public the best information possible.

Victoria Smith (one of the many people who work on the site)
Fire GIS Lead
BLM-CASO-Fire and Aviation

Victoria, do you know how it handles lots of viewers? Ab.

4/18 Gizmo, New Rules & VRB,

The Intel job at SoOps got filled a while ago...

That is part of why it is frustrating News & Notes and many other
'temporary sites' have not been updated. I tried to get info on the
fires near Erinsburg and came up empty from the GACC.

Good thing They Said is here! This is where I found the newest
seasonal assessment too.

'Tis a said state of affairs!

"Shaking head and shrugging shoulders"
4/18 To Gizmo and others...

The notes about getting information inspired me to send this thing on... someone sent me this link today and it looks pretty cool.... from the Storm Hawk web site at www.weatherdata.com/products/storm_hawk.php, they say

"Storm Hawk is the ultimate in portable weather forecasting technology. Using GPS technology and wireless or satellite communication, Storm Hawk provides weather information in real-time through a personal digital assistant (PDA) - on demand, wherever you are, 24-hours-a-day. It tracks your route of travel and anticipates weather movement to provide weather hazard warnings. On a PDA, the weather data is displayed with high-quality mapping imagery that is always oriented to your location and moves as you move. With constant tracking of your movement, you can quickly and accurately determine your location and any weather hazards ahead."

My question is, why aren't we using this kind of technology in fire??? Holy cow, that would be useful. Anyone have any ideas what's going on with this kind of neat stuff and fire, if anything? My imagination is coming up with some pretty cool ideas, but I'm not sure where to go with them...


-out of my element

Interesting technology, for fire we could have real time incident mapping; residents could have real time information, say text messages over cell phones or PDAs, about fire perimeters and what areas were being evacuated. In a situation like the Hayman, Rodeo-Chedeski Fires, or socal fires we wouldn't have to worry so much about the time it takes fire dispatch to alert the county sheriff and the county people to evacuate the public. On federal lands there would also potentially be faster evacuations by the FS, NPS, BLM, NPS. Right now in the case of fire or emergency, the public is alerted with sirens, tv, radio. Sometimes the tv or radio is not turned on. We live in times of new technology. Lots of cell phones out there. There should be new processes. Interesting thoughts... Without a push will fire test and implement anything like this anytime soon? Ab.

4/18 Lobotomy and frustrated in r6

I took the bait and responded with 18,000 words in defense of State and other agency training standards. I even threw in some real life failures of the big green... came back from lunch... read my response and decided not to send it because it was too defensive.

If you two are experiencing problems with untrained people from other agencies it needs to be discussed and fixed. I'm not experiencing the same problems with training standards. My Fed friends and partners aren't complaining that we (state agency fire fighters) aren't meeting the required hours for S- courses. In fact their complaints are against the Fed system for not having the flexibility we do. The other caution is to be careful that others won't be mislead that by following the suggested number of hours it will ensure competency to perform at the level of qualification they are training for.

If each agency maintains an Incident Qualification System, and agrees to the process through interagency agreements, agencies can present the required S courses in an agency adapted format as long as the overall training presentation meets the S course objectives and doesn't deviate too much from the time allotments. If the agency wants to participate beyond IA or its jurisdiction then each agency needs to determine what level they will participate... locally... regionally or nationally and communicate this level with their federal cooperators. This will determine the additional job skills and experience levels needed to participate beyond the local area and jurisdiction. Most agreements between the feds and the states accept each others levels of training and qualifications at the National Level.

Example: my IQS card lists my qualifications and the geographical level (Agency or National) that I can perform the duties of the position. From ICT1 Trainee at the National Level to AREP at the agency level with stops at OSC1 DIVS and even staging area manager (saving this for retirement).

I hope you solve your problems... we have solved most of ours through interagency fire schools, table top exercises, playing in each others sand boxes, local operating plans, MOUs, and over a beer or two at the local pub. Some of the volunteer fire districts still need additional experience and training to take on more wild land responsibilities but most have adopted a Wild land IQ system and are making large gains. Contract resources continue to improve but still lag in some areas.

By the way... I don't recall any of the recent investigation reports stating an additional 8 hours of class time for a non fed fire fighter would have prevented an accident or criminal actions being filed against a fire manager. I do recall the OIG report from Cramer talking about contract resources and poor performance of those resources on Cramer. This needs to be investigated and dealt with to determine if the poor performance was due to lack of training, inadequate supervision, experience levels or just a bad contractor... In addition we need to determine what effect their poor performance had on the management of the fire if any.


4/18 Gizmo, New Rules –

I agree with you that good information = safety. Situational Awareness (SA) is all about getting and understanding information. I will tell you that during the time I held the Intelligence Coordinator position at South Ops (I left last June) I worked very hard to ensure our Intelligence Office could provide accurate intelligence via the internet and other means (such as presentations at safety meetings, etc.) about current fire situations, fire potential and fire danger, and resource availability/commitment (although that information was more sensitive and could not always be placed on the Web). Understanding this stuff is a key to fire management and SA, and it’s a constant learning “opportunity”.

I was also lucky enough to work with some really amazing folks in the interagency community in southern CA, especially those working on some very cutting edge ideas in fire danger, incident mapping, incident reporting, and so on. I left my position for a unique opportunity to work from a different perspective of emergency management, but I have to tell you that I do miss very much working with the folks in southern California and in the national mobilization system! I had a great time working there and miss being able to provide the information I could to folks who needed it, on all levels.

I am not sure what the future of “incident intelligence” information is, but I will tell you that I think there is some excellent potential out there, especially in this day and age. One thing I learned is that a lot of things I assumed were “out there” or collected in some way were really not so organized or even available. I spent a lot of my time hunting for information and learning about how it all works. Anyway, don’t know much about what’s happening in South Ops now, but I would encourage anyone who is more interested in learning about how the national mob system works or what “intelligence” is all about to do so… whether it involves better understanding fire danger, fire planning, dispatch, resource coordination, planning section stuff, weather, or fire intelligence work. There’s a lot of really neat stuff going on in the fire world outside of the actual firefighting at the actual fire (although most days I’d rather be there!).

Stay safe out there this season –


Glad yer reading VRB. We miss your contributions. Ab.

4/18 For Donovan:

Usually, packs and webgear are issued by your unit in an effort to have uniformity and recognizability within their crews--so one engine may have blue web gear, and another red, etc. It is the same with hard hats. Some of us DOI folks will shell out for the kevlar "tan pants" as they are quite good for cooler weather and dont hang up on the sage as much.

Issued nomex usually comes in size ranges, such as 30-34 waist and 34 long. Get pants that are slightly too large and wear a good belt--it will make hiking easier.

Usually, customization begins inside the pack. You could choose to use issued canteens, or buy a camelback. You can use an issued headlamp, or buy a good one. You could pack an issued MRE or you could pack your own food.

Hope this helps clear up some of your questions;

Class C Sagebrush Faller
4/18 Gizmo -

In reference to the Southern CA Web Site (or lack thereof), my understanding after asking some questions is that the Intelligence Officer who was there for the last 4 years left last June... which is about the time south ops web site took a further turn for the worse (it's been "temporary" for like 3 years). From what I hear, the inability to get folks on board with modernizing the web site was one of the reasons she left. Apparently there is some trouble understanding that the communication medium of today is THE WEB, whether it be within the community you're working with or the public. The good news is, there is a rumor that the GACCs will all have a standardized Web setup someday soon (due last fall?). Of course, that doesn't mean that people will keep up web sites!!!

For my money, this looks like a management problem to me. But management doesn't seem to get it. Good luck getting information!

- New Rules
4/18 Link to the reports on the Dan Holmes fatality.


4/18 Dear Fire Community

The AD Firefighter Association (ADFA) faxed a letter on Monday, April 18, 2005 to President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, 535 legislators in the U.S. Senate and House, and 50 State Governors.

ADFA felt this action was necessary for the following reasons:
  • Failure of the NWCG Interagency Business Practices Committee (IBPWT) over a period of five years to establish fair, just rates for AD firefighters, and agency misuse of the 1951 AD Pay Authority to utilize a “quick, cheap source of labor” to supplement incident staffing,. The agency position is that the 1951 Authority was never meant to provide pay equality. ADFA’s response to this -- and the continued use of the AD Hiring Authority -- is that it is an archaic, outmoded hiring method that was never meant to hire supplemental firefighters other than literally “off the street.”
  • Failure of agency fire managers, including the NWCG, to provide oversight over the products of the IBPWT, which appears to be working at cross purposes to agency fire operations managers
  • Significant resistance to alternative methods such as utilization of personal service contracts and the OPM Waiver of Dual Compensation Reduction For Rehired Annuitants
  • Discriminatory treatment of AD firefighters; awkward, inefficient, and non-standard processes and procedures relating to AD hire
  • The resultant loss of desperately-needed expertise of some AD firefighters who found AD Pay Rates and treatment demeaning and insulting and who no longer participate (an ongoing process)
  • The refusal in 2005 – as well as in past years - by many agency dispatch offices to sign up AD firefighters due to concerns regarding training and experience documentation, liability, etc. We recognize the issues involved, particularly due to Cramer Incident concerns. However, to date we are not aware that any direction has been provided from agency national offices to facilitate AD signups.
  • The prediction of another disastrous fire season in many areas of the country, coupled with the inability of agencies to staff Incident Management Teams (as much as 25% of teams are comprised of ADs), dispatch offices, and miscellaneous overhead positions, further exacerbated by the above refusal of offices to sign up ADs

Complete background of the entire AD issue can be found via
AD Firefighter Association (ADFA) Legislative/Media Information Page. The documents contain the entire history of our correspondence with the agencies, FAQs, pay inequality analyses, ADFA’s proposed 2005 interim rates, etc. and other documents of interest.

ADFA has attempted to work with the agencies for two years, all to no avail. Given this, our communications with our elected representatives became absolutely necessary.

The long and short of it is, the AD Pay Authority is an archaic, broken system that has been used inappropriately. It should be replaced as soon as possible.

ADFA is in this for the long-haul. The agencies can view ADFA as a danger to be fought tooth-and-nail at every turn, with the ultimate outcome that ADs will leave the workforce in droves.

Or, they can view our efforts as an opportunity to work cooperatively towards a viable, long-term solution that will meet the challenges of incident staffing in the 21st century, with fair, equitable pay and treatment for equal work.

We encourage the agencies to select the latter course. ADFA has proposed the following:

  1. Rescind the 2005 Pay Rates issued March 24, 2005 and establish fair, realistic rates for the 2005 fire season.
  2. Request an extension of OPM’s Waiver of Dual Compensation Reduction for Rehired Annuitants and establish procedures that are realistic. Any retiree should be able to be hired back without penalty as a Rehired Annuitant during any emergency incident, regardless of fire preparedness levels.
  3. Utilize contractors and/or personal services contracts to access individuals who were part of the AD workforce. ADFA advocates this as the long-term viable solution and that coincides with the Administration’s emphasis on outsourcing and market competition.

It is abundantly clear that a new approach to this AD firefighter issue needs to be taken:

  • All stakeholders, including ADFA, must be involved;
  • Outside, objective subject matter workforce experts need to be involved;
  • Agency contracting personnel should be represented to assist in evaluating the needs of implementing ADFA Recommendation #3;
  • A Congressional liaison should be identified to address legislative challenges that are identified
  • A high-level Agency Administrator should oversee the process

Interested ADs who are not yet members of ADFA can sign up at www.adfirefighter.org. (live link above)

Individuals who are concerned about this issue can access name/address/fax information for all elected national and gubernatorial representatives via links at www.adfirefighter.org (look for Legislative and Media Tool Kit).

Hugh Carson
Chair, AD Firefighters Association
E-Mail: adfa@rmci.net

On behalf of the ADFA Board, as well as ADFA Membership, plus all ADs who have no representation
<snip> go to the ADFA site to see who the board members are and their contact info.

4/18 Greetings Ab and fellow "They Said"ers.

I posted a question regarding boot selection and got a hugely appreciated response (I opted for the White's...gotta keep the dogs happy, right?), but now I'm wondering: How does the USFS go about outfitting their firefighters? I'm a big guy, and so I'm not only wondering about the nomex workwear and its sizing, but various webgear and accessories as well. Do you folks commonly buy your own lighter-weight/more breathable/more functional, etc. gear? Do you get a "uniform" allowance? Just wondering what some thoughts are...

Thank You Kindly for any input!!!


4/18 frustrated in r-6,

It is interesting that in the link you provided, that the majority of NWCG courses are being taught well under the required classroom hours and some classes require prerequisite experience.

I would have to ask three questions...

1) Are these institutions approved by NWCG or Federal Agencies to teach these classes and if they are, why hasn't NWCG or the Federal Agencies pulled their approvals?...

and 2) If these are the levels and quality of instruction that are being given to our "cooperators", why is it Forest Service policy to honor State and Local government qualifications when we know the instruction, qualification, and experience processes are flawed?...

and 3) Why would we place our ICT3's into yet another no win solution of having under qualified and under experienced cooperators working for them in such a shady period as post 30 Mile and Cramer?...

4/18 OK..... how are we supposed to be safe and watching things around us when our "Intelligence" sites are not updating info:

NEWS AND NOTES www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/operations/osc-archive/notes.phpl LAST UPDATED 12/22/04

SoOps MAIN PAGE www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/operations/ (Temporary Site.. hah!!) Still has 2004 Seasonal Assessment

MONTHLY OUTLOOK www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/operations/osc-archive/monthly.phpl (Updated September 28, 2004)

WEEKLY OUTLOOK www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/south/fwx/psaweek.phpl (Updated July 2004)

OK, don't shoot the messenger..... I know that many of these websites have been migrated to other areas... but maybe there should be just a little hint to where they have gone and can be found? When it comes to Safety... folks should not have to search to find the answers....

Unless someone has missed it, fires started happening two weeks ago in SoCal..... time to step up and realize fire season is here!!!!

4/17 When reading the legislation that ultimately became PL 107-203 as well as the law, the text seems relatively mundane and straightforward. The legislation introduced was of course by Washington State congressional members in response to Thirtymile. The FWFSA firmly believes that this legislation, and subsequent law was well-intended.

However, as with many laws passed, once the practical applications of its requirements are set in motion, often times it is necessary to revisit the law to review what has subsequently become unanticipated consequences.

I don't believe for a moment that anyone in this business expects our leaders to perform in any other manner than to the level for which they were trained. We all know all too well that this is a life & death business and expertise in managing folks on an incident is absolutely crucial. We also all know that when dealing with Mother Nature, there are a number of variables that often complicate the utilization of that expertise, no matter how much experience or how much training.

As an Employee Association, the FWFSA is certainly not intent on compromising, interfering with, or influencing the current investigation(s) through our political contacts. We believe, as I'm sure everyone does, that those who fail to command their training and expertise, and thus others on an incident which results in injury or loss of life, must be, in some intelligent way, held accountable for their actions so that all of us can learn from the tragedy rather than creating scapegoats to appease constituents.

That being said, the application of the law has created unintended consequences which impact the entire federal wildland firefighting community. We all must know by now that the criminal investigations has led to a number of employees removing their ICT3 qualifications for fear of automatic criminal liability simply for taking such an assignment. In addition, all too often, others take on such assignments when necessary and they too are saying to themselves "why the heck should I take on that liability when I'm not paid to do so.?"

In speaking to a number of ICT3 qualified firefighters as well as high-ranking folks within the Forest Service, this "qualification exodus" is born out of fear that perhaps an overzealous OIG employee is looking for a promotion. Still further, a great deal of it is a result of the failure on the part of the FS to step up and support its firefighters in whole. While they may want to, they are concerned about appearing to interfere or influence the investigations.

As a result, a discussion as to the unintended and unanticipated peripheral consequences of the law must be conducted in an effort to resolve the impact to the entire firefighting community without compromising the intent of the legislation. There are however, serious questions that need to be addressed.

Perhaps most importantly, why is the FS the only land-use agency required under the law to investigate the deaths of their firefighters? What happens if a FS managed fire results in the loss of a BLM, BIA, Park Service or Fish & Wildlife firefighter? Answer...no investigation according to the law. Still further, how does Congress, the Agencies and those of us representing our federal wildland firefighters resolve the "exodus" yet ensure that any investigations are truly independent, void of any grandstanding, and allow us to learn from such incidents rather than to rush to criminal prosecution.

Think of it this way. What would be the response of the entire Nation's firefighting community if laws were passed that held all fire organizations...federal, state, local & even volunteer, to this investigatory standard? The fallout would be unprecedented.

We are all hearing a great deal about personal liability insurance. Will this truly benefit employees, or make some insurance broker very rich? And why, if the government is mandating investigations in the case of firefighter deaths, are they not paying to cover their managers with such insurance?

The FWFSA will be seeking congressional hearings in an effort to address these questions so as to ensure we all have a safe fire season while maintaining the expectation that our Incident Commanders perform to the best of their abilities.

On May 2nd, I will be representing the FWFSA in Boise for the unveiling of a statue to commemorate our fallen wildland firefighters. It will be in this setting, mindful of why we are there, that all participants in this proud profession, whether it be the FS or other land-use agencies, the Dept. of Ag, Dept. of Interior, individual firefighters or even overzealous bureaucrats must communicate and work together to improve safety, training, but most importantly to take care of our greatest asset...our federal wildland firefighters.

With Great Respect:

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/17 Ab,


well here is another fine link to training but how come the state agencies don’t need to follow the law? they say the classes are nwcg approved but how can that be when s-230 takes 24 hours not counting s-231... but these people are doing it in one weekend and we wonder how we get so many incompetent fire leaders out on the fire line???

frustrated in r-6

4/17 To the wildland firefighting community,

We're all very appreciative and supportive of the work that Vicki and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation are doing. I'm personally pleased that a statue honoring all of us is soon to be unveiled in Boise. I'm sure a lot of you who read They Said have visited the tranquil site of the Wildland Firefighters Monument in Prineville. (scroll down to Oregon for the Prineville Monument) There is a misconception about this monument that I would like to clear up. While the site itself, with its winding path, aspen trees waving softly in the wind, and beautiful granite boulders engraved with individual plaques, is a Memorial to the 14 who tragically spent their last day on Storm King Mountain, the monument that resides there honors all wildland firefighters. The Wildland Firefighter Monument was dedicated in June of 1996. It is the first of its kind in the United States, honoring the contributions of wildland firefighters, past, present, and future. The Prineville Hotshots Parent Committee, Inc., who commissioned the monument, desired that it honor all wildland firefighters throughout history.

4/17 LB,

Yeah, so Congressional bureaucrats are getting Office of Inspector General (IG) bureaucrats to go after wildland firefighters. What an exciting and new endeavor for OIG, much more interesting than investigating fraud. If I were them I would widen the exciting search so I could re-define my whole job along those new much more interesting lines! (new backdoor way into the adrenalin-pumping area of fire? R3 Joe, I liked your viagra comment before you deleted it.)

There's a rumor that DOJ (Justice) didn't want to be the hatchet man for OIG. Maybe some fed lawyers have integrity and justice in mind?

There's a rumor Congress didn't want to do it but did it anyway. Their excuse "We didn't know...!!! We didn't expect...!!!" Maybe some in congress have integrity? LAME! They didn't ask any wildland firefighters the implications of their exciting potentially unfair law. They didn't ask about IMPLICATIONS... for our safety lessons learned procedures, for the ICS system of the country. They didn't PLAN FOR what was likely to come next!

Tell me where to sign up for letter writing. I'll do it. I'll get my family to write and call too. Maybe we could decide on a plan and come up with points to make. There are some congressional representatives who are beginning to be educated on firefighter safety issues.

Tahoe Terrie

4/16 BLM R-4, take a look at some of these interface videos...


Or ask some folks from the San Bernardino National Forest for a revised and CD available video copy of the 1980 Panorama Fire ... hmmm... both the 1980 and the 2003 video look like similar fires... "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it".....

4/16 Professional Liability Insurance

Quotes from lawyers who know the system and federal law. Comments anyone?


Your Legal Shelter in the Post Thirtymile and Cramer Environment

The first major problem arising from this post-Thirtymile Fire investigative landscape is the reality that dedicated federal employees involved in the very dangerous profession of fighting wildland fires will now be considered for criminal prosecution simply for trying to do their jobs.


In our opinion, this precedent of criminally prosecuting well intentioned federal employees involved in a dangerous profession is a bad one to set.


The second problem associated with this new investigative landscape is that the IG for the USDA does not have expertise in running a manslaughter investigation, nor does it have any experience in investigating wildland firefighting accidents.

Interestingly enough, this lack of experience in investigating firefighting fatalities has resulted in the IG relying heavily on the Forest Service’s Accident Investigation – a result Congress specifically did not want in enacting the new law.

With regard to the IG’s lack of experience in investigating supposed manslaughter crimes, this is because the IG’s statutory mandate is to investigate matters associated with fraud, waste and abuse of government funds or authority

It has been our experience that the federal entity that usually investigates fatalities involving federal officials/employees is the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The FBI and local law enforcement typically investigate all accidental shootings by federal employees (Border Patrol, INS agent, etc.) that result in injury or fatality, and it has been our experience that these federal officials are cleared by the FBI of any criminal wrongdoing within 24 to 48 hours of the shooting. Based on our experience in the very first IG investigation conducted under this new authority into the Cramer Fire, and the fact it resulted in an active criminal investigation achieving a criminal disposition for one employee (the Incident Commander), we are left with the distinct impression that criminal prosecutions will be aggressively considered in every burnover and entrapment fatality, which is unlike the outcome of other accident related fatalities occurring throughout the federal government.

Direct Quotes obtained from Roth, D., Vergnetti, A. “Professional Liability Insurance: Your Legal Shelter in the Post Thirtymile and Cramer Environment” (2004) Shaw, Bransford, Veilleux & Roth, P.C. Attorneys at Law.

To read the entire article, click the link in the title. Ab.
4/16 More on Digital radio. This is from a discussion group for California COMLs and COMTs.


Just a note of interest to the Debate:
Yes digital has a lot of great advantages, however there are serious drawbacks.

I have help set up the Communications at several major golf tournaments around the country for the past several years. The average tournament will utilize aprox. 12-15 repeaters or more. I have used the latest equipment (rented directly from Motorola) both digital and analog. THE DIGITAL DOES NOT TALK AS FAR!!!

I have experienced the same thing as cell phones. At the edge of reception, the digital drops off, where the analog is still readable. Especially in hilly areas, the digital will cancel out due to multiple phasing. The analog is very readable. The engineers can say all they want on paper, however in the real world digital fails in weak signal areas.

PS: Up in the 800mhz area, many public safety agencies are finding that trunking is causing a safety issue. Delays in connect time, busy signals or just not being able to access a talk group. They find that they have to switch to simplex analog for reliable fireground communications. Bottom line is in emergency situations, you can't beat an analog, simplex radio for reliable communications.

You can call it a debate, but it really boils down to what works.
4/16 Readers,

The unveiling of our first Wildland Firefighter Foundation statue in the Boise airport sounds good. (Thanks WFF.) If you're going to attend the IAWF Conference in Missoula the week before, take a few days vacation and consider dropping down to Boise on Monday. If you're going to the 100 year anniversary of the FS in Boise on Tuesday, consider going a day early. Or go to the statue unveiling, check out the Foundation (smell those t-shirts!) and take in the FS 100 year anniversary the next day. Sounds like Boise will be the popping place early that week. There are some pretty direct flights there and fares are still low for a few more days if you buy tickets now.

Yactac, thanks for the reminder, Dude. I've read that Commander's Intent article front to back several times. Good one. I think you recommended it to me 2 years ago... Oh my, do we have an ongoing long term-relationship? <chuckle> All in good fun. You know how I admire and love so many of you!

Competent, thanks for the excellent article on competence. Ab, you should put that on Docs Worth reading.

Re the law criminalizing firefighters: I heard a month ago that there are lawyers who are experts in the federal legal process; they're talking with members of Congress to try to make the process fair (if that's possible). It seems unfair to me that Congress did not consult wildland firefighters to determine the far-reaching implications of such a law, including implications for safety, failure to renew red card quals, etc. In any case, here's the article that Ab posted some time back that was written by those authors. Professional Liability Insurance Your Legal Shelter in the Post Thirtymile and Cramer Environment Maybe FWFSA and this wildland fire community can also inform Congress. If we need to write letters or make phone calls, FWFSA, please let us know.

I hope all managers will get the liability insurance. Here's my overall argument on why get liability insurance. The link to the insurance company is halfway down my piece. (No, the insurance company is not paying me; it just makes sense. Right now those who have the insurance are not having to "cut a deal" to avoid criminal charges.)

On another note, I heard that the WO Fire Director announced in the CIIMT Meetings last week that the National Leadership Team has approved the concept of working on Doctrinal Change. I think that means the Pulaski Conference Ab mentioned some time back has officially been blessed.

Have a good weekend all. Relatives and friends across the US say the central states, SW, PNW are already burning and drier than usual. (Thanks Firescribe for the links.) I know we say it every year, but this could be a BIG one. Be ready, be safe. Whatever you do, make sure your tactics fit the changing fire behavior. LCES! Firefighter safety first! Houses can be rebuilt.


4/16 Ab,

This email is in regards to Paul Mueller's post on 4/15.

There are ways to help on America's wildfires. We had a volunteer from England a couple of years ago. I'm not sure if she had a green card or not. We worked pretty hard in getting her a temp social security number. She had a lot of backing from our forest, and she was able to work as an AD (casual or emergency hire). I will drop her a line and have her post the steps that she went through. In the mean time, start calling some forest, parks, or BLM offices and see if they will take you as a volunteer. It wouldn't hurt to see if they might have housing for you too. Keep checking TheySaid.


Thanks NOTA. I researched this last year and put the answer I found on the FAQ page. If you find anything different, let me know. Behind the scenes, someone sent in a German contact for Paul. There's a German group that fights fire in Greece every summer. Ab.

4/16 Hey Ab,

Were putting on a S-215 (Urban Interface) class next month and want to
show some supplemental videos. I know there are some fantastic videos
or clips out there I just cant find them. Does anybody have any or know
of any good ones out there. Sure could use some help.



4/15 Hey Ab,

Look at this neat wildland firefighter story site I found.



Matt is part of this community... Ab.

4/15 Active wildfire season predicted

wildfire season out west prediction...

doc brown
4/15 My gosh Yactak! What can I say other than thanks for providing us info to maintain
some sobering perspective on Thirtymile and PL 103-207. PL 103-207 is not a
sinister plot to make our lives miserable, it was a reaction to a terrible tragedy resulting
from human error with unacceptable outcomes. Great post. Thanks!

Sign me,
GG Fire
4/15 To the Wildland Firefighting Community:

I'm sure that all of you reading here know that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation helps fallen and injured firefighters and their families. We also have as our mission to honor and recognize wildland firefighters. In support of that mission, we are inviting all of you to attend an event that it's taken four years to bring to fruition.

We're holding the first public recognition of wildland firefighters at the Boise Airport in Boise, Idaho on May 2nd at 3:00 pm, with a reception following upstairs on the 3rd floor in the Boise River Room at the Boise Airport, with an open bar, appetizers, and program.

At this event we'll be unveiling an 8-1/2 foot bronzed statue of a wildland firefighter holding a Pulaski. It is an honor to have Shane Heath and Jeff Allen's brothers unveiling the statue. The Governor of Idaho will be receiving the statue.

Readers, this statue is to recognize and honor ALL wildland firefighters and the work you do. It's to honor ALL of you.

This is the first of many statues that will be placed in public places across the US to recognize and affirm the work and service wildland firefighters provide to our country. This inaugural statue is sponsored through the generosity of the National Wildfire Suppression Association. To date, the NWSA has given more than $80,000 to support the Foundation. A big thank you to them for supporting this project.

Wildland Firefighting Community, this is your invitation to attend. We look forward to seeing you on May 2nd. If we can help with information on hotels and any other needs please contact us at 208-336-2996.

Vicki Minor
Director, Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Remembering Fallen and Injured Wildland Firefighters. Please see www.wffoundation.org
Renew your "52 Club" for 2005!
4/15 Damn, R3 Joe - you sure know how to ask the tough questions, even if they are brief!

What to do?? I honestly don't know! Maybe have an attack of "Blue Flu" (ours would be a "yellow and green flu") like the cops do? Follow the letter of the law (10 SFOs) under all circumstances, even if it means losing many more IAs? Burn our red-cards, ala Draft cards in the 1960's? Go back to school, get a law degree and sue the firefighting agencies for setting impossible performance standards? Contract out fire protection on Fed lands to States/Counties, regardless of the costs, since the US DOJ doesn't prosecute them?

Where I am in my retirement cycle is irrelevant to the question at hand:
how do we all as wildland firefighters deal with this new issue concerning our performance?

Guess this brief moment of introspection still leaves me back to my earlier statement: I honestly don't know! I guess that the right answer lies inside our own heads, after a serious look at our goals, motivations and aspirations!

4/15 Mellie,

Glad you enjoyed L-280. The attached article "Communicating Intent and
Imparting Presence
" is the rest (or another piece) of the story in regards to
Commanders Intent........


It is hard to maintain Duty, Respect, and Integrity and not have your blood pressure raised when trying to do the right thing and hire the best crew possible in R5. I struggle everyday with the ethics of what is going on out here. This is the first time in my Gov't career (military or firefighting) that I feel like I must grin and bear it. I feel like the only option I have left is to not be a part of it. Let someone who does not care about Duty, Integrity, or Respect hire for me. I will take what is given to me and work with what I have. It may not be who I would have hired but at least I will know I had no involvement in discrimination. HERE is some information that I read to help me with this difficult situation.

4/15 Region 6, you had ascertained the terrain & read the signs for anticipated fire behavior. be happy you listened to your gut instincts. not all find themselves in same situation; not all have the current on scene info or FF experience.

No comprende how someone over the next hill or directing operations from closest base 60 air miles away can be expected to make judgment calls about safety routes for anyone without a clear realtime eye-in-the-sky.
Finger pointers and blame sayers need to acknowledge the logistics before jumping to conclusions. sad to say, but based on the gist of themes in this forum, looks like until the armchair quarterbacks. Get a grip FF. Decision makers best buy personal liability insurance to mitigate loss of hearth & home and sanity.

JS, as Ab implied, until gov't officials or analysts have unexpectedly survived a wildland fire firsthand, it's not gonna happen - ditto for the uneducated who move to the "hills" every year expecting a big red engine to be at their doorstep at the first smoke signal.

Absent first hand knowledge about the rest of the county; snow is melting in the high country, wild flowers are blooming in the foothills, and lots of lush bottom fuel soon to dry in
4/15 Hello,

I just discovered your homepage in the internet.
Pretty impressing!

Since a long time I am interested in wildland
firefighting, but back here in Germany are no fires
worth to fight!

The only chance I got so far was during my military
service by the special mountain force. There we had to
help the fire department by a small wildland fire.
But thats my only fire experience.

In spring 2006 I will finish my apprenticeship and
after that I am planning a long trip through the USA
and Canada. I was thinking about the chance to join
the firefighters there for one season.

But now I read on your homepage that I only have the
chance to do that if I have a job in the USA and a the
green card.

Do you know if there is somehow another way for me to
fight the wildland fires?

It would be kind if you can give me an answer.

yours sincerely

Paul Mueller

Paul, I know of no other way. Ab.

4/15 Another perspective on PL 103-207………..

The four firefighters who died July 10th on the Thirtymile Incident

Tom Cravens, 30, Ellsburg, Career Firefighter
Married with 2 small children. Once scouted by the Dallas Cowboys. Beat OJ
Simpson’s junior college yardage record.

Jessica Johnson, 19 Yakima, Student Central Washington University
Athlete and adventurer, wanted to be a dietician. Worked as a volunteer firefighter
in West Valley.

Karen Fitzpatrick, 18, Yakima, Graduated a month earlier from West Valley High
Loved academics, sports, home arts. Took it as a sign that her fire boots were
made the same day she became a born-again Christian.

Devin Weaver, 21, Yakima, Athlete and Camper
Loved Baseball, planned to study electrical engineering at the University of
Washington this fall.

Excerpts from an article by Devin Weaver's father, Ken Weaver

“Three members of the Forest Service came to our home with the first details of the tragedy. They described an out of control wildfire that blew up quickly, trapping and burning my son to death. They said it was no ones fault, an act of God.

Over the next days and weeks, more details became available, and the picture that emerged was something quite different from an act of any God I know. The fire was indeed out of control, but had been for more than four hours. This crew was led down a dead end road in a steep box canyon with a plan that was later determined to have no chance of success. In all, the people who were supposed to be protecting Devin’s life violated every single rule of safety on the books. They ignored every single warning sign present, abandoned all common sense, and could not exercise even minimal command authority after they were entrapped.

And so it is that an Incident Commander can abandon his responsibility to his crew, break every rule, ignore every watch out point, suspend his common sense, exercise no leadership, cause the death of his crew members, and simply be reassigned. No fines, no loss of wages or rank, just reassignment.

It seems like a bad dream, but it’s not. It’s a nightmare from which I will never awaken. I will spend the rest of my life marking time until I see my best friend again. A lifetime before I can hug him. A lifetime before I laugh at his humor, before I see his broad smile. A lifetime before the circle will be unbroken.”

So I guess that whether you think the PL 107-203 and how it is being implemented is a good or bad thing depends on whether you are an overworked, multitasking IC, Ops, Chief Officer on a unit that has holes in its organization and priorities other than fire and fire training or are you the parent, sibling, child or partner of one of the deceased............

You make the call……..


Thanks for the perspective, yactac. Remembering those who died. Ab.

4/14 Competent

What an excellent article on competence. During the L-380 I brought up the very same issue during the portion on the "Johari Window". The issue I had with this was that the window where you are unaware of your own traits -that other people are aware of but don't tell you- should be resolved by seeking feedback. I brought up a point that others aren't generally willing to give honest feedback. This article seems to confirm my view but does little to resolve it (neither did the instructor). Seeking feedback is one of the greatest traits of a competent leader, but are you getting honest feedback, and does your competency level allow you to improve with feedback? My resolution? Be honest with those you work for and those who work for you. If you have a sub-ordinate who is generally incompetent, don't pass the buck. Make him/her aware of incompetencies and help improve them. Be honest, I continually receive feedback, overhead evals, etc... that are nothing more than routine. Why won't anybody come straight out and say" Boy, you really blew it here" or " You really need to work on this". Sure I may get upset, defensive, or even retaliatory but I assure you I will spend a lot of time thinking about what I was told.

How many "rants" posted here complain of an FMO or Supt. who, in the ranter's mind, is incompetent. Have you told them? We'll never know what people say behind our backs until it's said to our face, and until someone does we'll keep doing the same things.

AARs are another great way to find our communication shortcomings but the portion of the AAR that really helps you is often overlooked. "What was planned?" Ask your first year person this and tell them that if they didn't know the plan to be honest. If their perception of the plan differed from what your "Intent" was or they flat out didn't know the plan, take a long hard look at your communication skills and your briefing routine.

Most of all continually seek honest feedback. "What are you guys saying behind my back?"



Here's a report on a fire that burned Tuesday. It shows what may be in store in SoCal, from CDF - MVU, San Diego area.

To: Chuck
Cc: MVU Chiefs; MVU Battalion Chiefs; MVU Ramona Air Attack Base
Subject: CA MVU 002516 Harrison Fire

I am providing you with some photos and details concerning the fire today, April 12, 2005, at the toe of Palomar Mountain. Copter 303 was out continuing its training missions with the San Diego Sheriff’s Office Fire Pilot program. We had started our training/recon in the Deluz/Tenaja area and continued along the Riverside/San Diego county line up and over the Palomar State Park Campground. We continued on to the East for a bit more then turned south to make our way back to Gillespie. FC Ted Schaffer was as the right rear door continuing his Helitack training with us at Gillespie when he spotted what looked like a burn job putting up light smoke to the west. FC Schaffer asked to fly over the area check out how close to the brush the burn job was. Coming from the east, we were unable to see the cause of the smoke as it was on the west facing slope and up the first few switchbacks of Harrison Grade Rd North of Hwy 76. At this time, I glanced at my watch and noted the time of 15:22 hrs and commented that if it was a burn job, it was after hours and we should investigate further and pass it on. As we flew around the ridge to see the origin, we realized that this was a wildland fire that had started from the edge of the road. The fire appeared to be very narrow, running upslope and about 50 to 75 feet long from the road to the head. I realized this fire had started within the last few minutes and I looked up and down Harrison Grade Rd to look for vehicular traffic and noted none. I gave a very quick report of conditions to MVICC on the way down to a landing zone to offload the Helitack Captains and release the tank snorkel so the ship could go to work. We hitched a ride with B3317 to the fires edge and got to work.

That is the fire’s background, now for a PHOTO...

  1. The brush looks green. No great surprise with all the rain we had. The fire burned the vegetation cleanly to the ground with little left over. This is also no great surprise. From the air, the brush has a nice green canopy with some new growth on it. On the ground and beneath the canopy is the same dead brush we had last year and the year before that and so on.... It was dead yesterday and it will be dead tomorrow, all summer and will stay readily available until either it's burnt or decomposes.
  2. Although it would appear to be a roadside arson fire, the cause was still under investigation as of our release. I noted that the grass near the road was still primarily green with some dead grass from last year. There appeared to be very little grass in the majority of the fire area.
  3. This was a fuel and topographically driven fire.
  4. Note the tree mortality above the fire to the northeast. We fly recons over Palomar weekly and the severe mortality is on everyone’s mind at Gillespie. This looming disaster immediately prioritized the water drops from C303: KEEP THE FIRE OFF OF PALOMAR MTN. I asked for the first drop to be across the head as we had little wind effect on the fire and the copter could make that drop without flying through the smoke. The fire was small enough and the refill point so close that an accurate drop across the head would work in this case. The first drop was from the left shoulder and downslope across the head. Drop #2 extended that drop across to the right shoulder. I then directed 303 to concentrate the rest of the drops on the left flank to keep it from continuing upslope. The first 20 feet from the heel was vertical and any attempt to start hoselays from the bottom was hazardous and would have destroyed the origin for an investigation. Two hoselays were put in from the top, anchoring into the water drops and continuing down each of the flanks. The water point for the copter was very close and the turn around time was 2-3 minutes. C303 framed the fire with water drops and the hoselays secured the lines.
  5. C303 made 6 to 8 total drops before needing to consider refueling. Remember, we had previously been on a training assignment for the Sheriff pilot and we had already burned 1.5 hours of fuel prior to the fire. As you know, Gillespie is staffed this winter to assist in the Sheriff Fire Pilot training. While we have a fuel tender loaned to us from Bieber Helitack Base, we do not have the staffing to deploy the fuel tender for an immediate response. Had this fire lasted longer, that would have been a factor in the copter’s effectiveness. C303 made the decision to fly to Ramona Air Attack Base and refuel with the airport jet fuel vendor. Fortunately, the San Diego City Copter arrived when 303 needed to leave. After air-to-air handoff the City Copter continued the work of extinguishing spot fires.
  6. Numerous spot fires in the “green.”
  7. Sheriff Deputy/Fire Pilot Tony Webber did a fantastic job for his first fire. All drops were on target with proper airspeed and altitude. Instructor pilot Cecil Gill never had to intervene in operations at all. These guys are nearing the end of their training and they are ready to drop water on fires. They may not have all of the nuances of firefighting figured out, but they are skilled pilots and have a solid foundation thanks to Cecil. I’ve been impressed with the whole program. Cecil’s efforts and their developing skills will only help CDF in accomplishing its mission.
  8. This fire was kept small for two reasons:

    The presence of the CDF copter that is maintained in a fire-ready status while conducting its training missions. While it is true that we rarely ever attack a fire this soon after its start, today’s action has averted or at minimum delayed a Palomar wildland fire disaster. If there is an arsonist with Palomar in his sights, then a swift, comprehensive and aggressive air attack is critical. Multiple helicopters based at different county locations will assist CDF in accomplishing its mission.

    The fire occurred in an area of the unit where its only three staffed (Amador) stations are within a 10-15 minute response time. Elsewhere in the county, the fire would have been more severe.
  9. Unit recons have revealed many things to us this spring.
    • The grass is abundant and tall everywhere. The last few years we needed the wind to get our fires up and running. With the grass, we will have the fine fuel bed to carry the fire up into the mortality stricken areas with or without the winds. Helicopters and helitack crews are highly effective on grass fires.
    • The amount of fuel in the eastern desert areas is sobering and extends as far as we can see, well into Imperial County. Is Imperial County our DPA? If it is, the San Diego County Supervisors have indicated that their aircraft will not venture far from the county boundaries for firefighting; state ships with helitack crews would meet this need.
    • Our truck trails and other roads we’ve used to access fires are in terrible disrepair due to this year’s record rains. We will have a tough time getting ground resources to the fire’s edge in many instances if fire burns those areas. Helicopters with helitack crews would lessen this impact. Putting FF1 helitack crews on the county ships and locating a state funded contract ship with crew again this year would meet the needs of our unit and keep the CDF’s other air resources at their bases where they are needed for their own initial attack areas.
    • Mortality is everywhere, brush, pines, oaks and soon a bumper crop of annual grasses will add to it.
    • Water sources frequent the landscape making helicopters very effective for this fire season.
  10. Finally, as you are aware, Cecil Gill plans to have training completed at the end of April. This leaves the unit without a helitack resource for May and June. Chief Chaney will have more details, but the SDSO pilots have indicated that their ships probably won’t be ready until July 1 at the soonest. The grass is turning and I hope we (CDF) don’t roll the dice on whether we can get away with gambling for a mild/late season start and withdraw a state copter presence and delay station staffing.
Fire Season is here whether we can afford it or not. One significant incident negates all of the staffing savings.

I’m sure you have grappled with most of these issues already so please consider it an observation of the current situation from the field.

Steve S
4/14 I had to write because I'm so excited!

I ordered line gear from True North because their stuff comes in standard or SMALL sizes
and I got it today and it actually fits!! I couldn't believe it! For those of us who are tiny this
is great. Having the narrower harness is so much more comfortable . . .

Pocket FF

4/14 From Firescribe:

Fire Danger Map
Fire Potential Map
Drought Monitor Map

National Wildland Fire Outlook (pdf file)

Large Incidents April 8, 2005

Current stories:

Wildfire hits close to Ehrenberg Arizona

Wet winter eases fire season fears in Lake Tahoe Basin CA;
North of Tahoe and into the Pacific Northwest is a different story.

Wildfire outlook grim for northern Rockies

A dry winter has increased the possibility of large and widespread wildfires in northern Wyoming, the Black Hills and most of Montana.

Forest Service tightens budget, delays hiring in Montana

On the Bitterroot National Forest, jobs aren't being filled immediately when people leave or retire, said Dixie Dies, public affairs officer for the Bitterroot National Forest. For instance, Curt McChesney retired as Fire Management Officer for the West Fork Ranger District in January. His spot hasn't been filled, Dies said. Had McChesney retired a few years ago, the Forest Service would likely have hired someone to replace him right away, she said. "Right now, what we're doing when that happens is we're taking a much harder look before those positions are advertised," Dies said. Forest officials still don't know what it will do with McChesney's position, she said.

Windy cold front worries fire meteorologist in Montana

And elsewhere across the nation:

High Forest Fire Threat in Pennsylvania
Spring wildfire season is here in central and southern Michigan
Fires scorch 200 acres in Wisconsin
Forest Service: Spring burning begins this week in New Hampshire
300 firefighters battle Sussex Delaware blaze

4/14 Aberdeen, what do you suggest we do about the situation?
Grimace and bear it? Are you retiring soon?

R3 Joe

4/14 Friends - while I too hate to see what's resulting from the Thirtymile fire, relative
to the criminalization of firefighters, there is not a change to the laws that the
US Attorney is possibly using in her/his investigations.

The law that was driven by Thirtymile requires the USDA-OIG to conduct an
independent investigation on every USFS fire resulting in the death of a USFS

The US Department of Justice considers the actions of US Government
employees (yes, you folks at USDI too) for possible charges of involuntary
manslaughter, negligent homicide, etc. Those laws have been on the books for a
long time, just never applied to the world of wildland fire before.

There's an interesting commentary about this in the January/February 2005 issue
of "Wildfire" magazine.

4/14 Hello They Said'ers!

I am looking for a few digital images of fire folk engaged in After Action Review (AAR). Checked the photo archive here. Firepix.blm is not working. So, I'm wondering if anyone has a few digital photos of their crew, team, etc in AAR? Would be used in a presentation at the upcoming Human Factors Workshop. All I can offer is a photo credit and a few minutes of fame. I suppose Ab could hook us up off-line(?)

Mike DeGrosky
4/14 Mollysboy,

RE: the OIG warning on your e-Nuttal Report.......

Sounds like Cold War Soviet Union.........

Another reason to love this country but not trust any government entity.......

4/14 After reading the recent messages regarding the incompetent FMO, I mentioned in an email to Ab, that the FMO in question would probably be very angry to read there was somebody like that in authority. And that they would also be totally unaware they were reading about themself. I was basing my comment on a newspaper article I'd read about 7 years ago. I had to do a Google to find it, but once I used the right words it came up in hundreds of links. The item refers to a study done by a professor of psychology at Cornell and may be read at the link below.

What it basically says is that incompetent people do not realize they are incompetent and that they are also unable to acknowledge the competency of others. If you have, do, or think you may in the future, work with, supervise, or be supervised by an incompetent person, this article is a must read! What you do with the article after reading it is your decision. The biggest problem I see is, even if an incompetent person reads it, they will most likely agree with it, but won't recognize it in themselves.

When I read the article, I spent a couple of days questioning myself about my competency, I expect all competent people will. Since I had the dubious pleasure of working with a very incompetent person at the time, I left it laying around in the hopes they might pick it up. They did, they agreed with everything in it, they even confided the names and details of those they knew who fit the profile.

So therein lies an inherent problem. If you're already competent, you will analyze yourself and discover ways to improve. If you're incompetent, you may also analyze yourself, but will be unable to recognize you're incompetent. Oh well, regardless of benefit, it is interesting and can help explain the character or behavior of some. Here's one link, many more in various formats can be found using the words dunning, cornell, incompetent.


Sign me:

Competent, I think. . .

4/14 Re Nuttall:

Maybe Nuttall is off limits until OIG investigates.

Should we be calling our congress people on this? They started this mess.


4/14 Dave T,

It is not "legal" for a bill to be passed into law and then serve an
indictment or complaint against someone who, in the past, may have
committed or omitted an act that would put that individual in jeopardy of
being charged with a crime.

4/14 Legal issues

If OIG and DOJ are witch hunting, how far back can they go? I was involved in an incident that was not my fault and I did not have insurance. No one did. Lots of firefighters in R3 still don't have it. No one is advising them in a convincing way to get it. There's intranet mail coming around but who reads all that...

I was not found to be at fault by the agency investigation. But the FS did not find thirtymile fire managers to be at fault either. What might those thirtymile firefighters have said in AAR that now makes them possible criminals? I heard the Chief even made the investigators change the wording on the thirtymile report. Do the OIG legal hacks get the pre-change or the post-change thirtymile report? Will the Chief be investigated? This whole thing is completely wacked.

Does the agency now abandon fire managers every time an DOJ or civil suit is brought? New SOP? It's clear the agency is run by non-fire morons.

If OIG and DOJ have instructions from Congress to go back and open up old cases again I am sure I'll have to pay out the ear to some lawyer just so my family and I can sleep at night. Is that fair? I am getting so I hate lawyers and congress and the stupid bureaucracy where the rules change every day on somebodys ill-conceived whim. It almost makes me believe in conspiracy theory. How many lawyers are there in Congress who are making laws supporting this kind of legal system? When you have a hammer all you see is nails? When lawyers/congress see tragedy fire deaths all they see are court cases? When a middle aged lawyer gets hit by the fire bug and wants that firefighting adrenalin the only way he can getin on the exciting scene is by making a legal case?

What about retiring? Do I not retire now? Do I cover my ass by sticking with the agency until the bitter end so I might have legal coverage? Will that cover my ass? Are there any considerations for staying with the agency that I am not considering? Maybe I'm stupid to think the agency would support me, after all where's the evidence for any support or rationality lately? The agencies aren't supporting any employees these days as far as I can see. Maybe I should retire and take my chances. Oh yeah, now I need to pay big bucks to hire a lawyer to tell me whether to retire?? If I don't retire I may need to hire a lawyer to tell me if I can burn out here or have crews cut line there?

Ab, sorry for sounding so bitter. It's not firefighters here who need to be taken behind the woodshed. It's the lawyers and congressmen!

Just a R3 Joe who wants to retire soon

(Ab, I really do apologize for the rant. Anonymous incompetent bureaucrats are clueless. It makes me so mad when they dont consider implications. If you dont want to post this its ok by me. Thanks for the website. I read it first every day.)

I understand your frustration of not knowing the new rules and feeling that the legal situation is unfair. I too question how the law resulting from 30mile can legally be applied retroactively. What are the legal implications for fairness if managers are re-investigated on past incidents where they have already gone through what is technically a "consenting" non-criminal investigation process. What are the implications for AAR, our lessons learned environment and firefighter safety? Readers, educate your brothers and sisters on the legal insurance issue. I personally feel that the federal agencies should pay all legal insurance costs and they should do it for all managers below the ICT3 level as well as higher managers. Ab.

4/14 Nut Cracker and Strider - I've got an electronic version of the "Nuttall" report that I'd be happy to share with the world, except............. it's got this real ominous warning on the front page that it can't be released without permission of the USDA-OIG. Must be some violation of the "Patriot Act" or something?? I don't want to be deemed an "enemy combatant" and see Guantanamo from the inside!

I really don't understand the restraints: it's a positive lessons learned case study that might help prevent future entrapments!

Maybe somebody should start a FOIA request??

4/14 An article of interest...

California wildfire costs need control, legislative analyst says


It's interesting they look at the cost but not at the savings that having resources available provides. Ab.

4/14 Out West,

I will give it shot. I guess my first question for you would be, what geographical area are you referring too? If it is anywhere in the 3 most Southern Forest in R-5, then my answer would be: most of the population is of minority descent and the Forests do a good job in hiring a diverse work force. I really don't see a big problem with hiring in R-5. If you are hiring seasonals then you can pretty much hire who you want, you just have to show that you made an effort to out reach to the minority groups and we do. If you are hiring for a permanent position, then diversity will play a role, and I stress play a role. It is not a guarantee that a minority will automatically get the position.

I base most of my answers on having a limited role in the hiring and recruitment process. I work on one of the 4 Southern California Forest, we used to do alot of recruiting for the Forest. What we have found was that there was very little turnout of minorities when we had a recruitment open house. I can't explain why this would happen, but we would have to document our findings and it would be turned into our HR folks. They would forward it up to the folks in the Regional Office.

I honestly had a hard time understanding your post when you said that most of your friends who have experience are not being rehired because of needing minority numbers. What is the make up of your former Forest? What type of recruiting do they do and do they show any numbers backing up their findings? Who knows, this restructuring could be from an audit that was done recently to wake up some folks about looking at the make-up of your Forest work force and how they are doing business. We could all throw out speculation, but the cold hard facts for why lie with upper management.

As far as the other the post that I read about the Hispanic Settlement Agreement, I couldn't help but laugh. The settlement is a joke and again I base my skepticism on last years "panic" of the hiring for the Apprentice Program. All I heard was we were getting 15 to 20, non-qualified Hispanic people. What did we get: not even half of the people that we picked up were Hispanic and EVERYONE had limited to no experience in fire, didn't matter if they were Hispanic, White, or Black.

I hope this helps you out a little. Don't worry about your buddies getting picked up, if they applied to other Forests and they have the quals that you implied, they will not have a problem finding a job.

4/13 Decisions you Make?
True story;

You're making a Dozer Fire Break when things start to go bad. All of a sudden you realize things are now blowing up around you and it is time to go to the safe zone. After you get back to the safe zone which is a large green grass meadow with plenty of distance from the trees and brush, you clear a 5 blade wide clear to dirt area out. Then you sit on the Dozer and say to yourself guess we can watch it burn and then go back to work. While sitting there watching it blow up, you call in and let them know you're OK and ask if they want you to do anything. They tell you to head down this small draw to an area that is even clearer, but you just came up that draw and believe it is going to burn over soon. You tell them no and still sit there thinking.

Now you're wondering if the wet muddy spot in the meadow might be a better place for the dozer to go into, but you're afraid the dozer might get stuck trying to clear it out some more. Winds are now picking up to around 35+ mph and things are getting bad around you! The brush that is off in the distance is starting to burn and some trees are crowning. Now you're wondering - since you have been sitting there around 15 mins thinking - did I make the right decisions about where to stay? All of a sudden the draw you were instructed to go down blows over and closes in; the wet muddy area you thought might be a better spot burns up with a lot of force! You jump off the dozer and get behind the blade which just happens to be pointed the right way and it blocks you from the flame front. To late to deploy now and you make a dash under the dozer and start putting out the embers flying under it. Getting hard to breath now, air is really hot and you think it is the end.

The fire is roaring all around you as several mins go by. Then out of nowhere it starts to quiet down. The front has gone over you and you're still alive! After you come out, you see the cab of the dozer is OK and you could have stayed inside it. The wet spot is totally burned up and black. That draw is still burning hot and you're alive to fight another fire!

Any one of the decisions you made could have got you killed but for some reason you made the right ones. Yes, you could have done more, but it was not supposed to blow up and those high winds, they weren't there a minute ago.

Just remember it is up to you to do the right thing when the time comes. You will be the one who really answers to a mistake in the end!

Be safe this Fire Season so you can still be around for many more to come in the future!
Region 6


In California Hispanics have to be hired or the overseer for the Hispanic Settlement Agreement can put someone in the Forester's office in jail.

I don't think the best people are being hired. There certainly are people who are being passed over who have lots more experience including some Native Americans and women. Go figure.

The other side is that neither can we freeze (re)hiring even if the Washington Office says we don't have $, because the same Hispanic Settlement overseer will raise holy hell over that too.

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

4/13 MM:

Effectively teaching ICS with out putting students to sleep is a challenge. I'll give you what has (occasionally) worked for me.

1. Believe in what you're teaching. ICS works great, I know that the more our agencies (Eastern) get good at it the better we'll manage incidents. I try to make that attitude come out when I teach. Many times the students are only there because the class is required. They can be amazed if they see you actually enjoy this stuff.

2. Use as many personal observations as possible. Tell as many stories as you know. Bring in props. Old IAPs, pictures of incident organizations (facilities, status boards, etc)

3. Use scenarios. They learn more by doing than being lectured. Even a basic class can be split up into teams and solve problems. If the book doesn't have ones that apply or you like write your own.

People learn more when they're having fun. If it fits your teaching style tell jokes and slightly weird stories. Stay on track, but have fun.

I hope this helps,
Bill E.

4/13 Ab, a kneejerk here.

The Nuttall Fire info on that lessons learned link looks
a little like a CDF Greensheet. Maybe CDF has a good
idea there. Control the information coming out and
manage the public's or OIG'S perception? I am a bit
ashamed of us. Our values for learning are going down
the toilet.


4/13 Greetings Ab and all!!

SO, here is a question that I simply cannot get an answer to. Before the question(s), the disclaimer... I am not intending to cause problems I just want to see if my perception of the situation is accurate.

Can the Forest Service recruit only minorities for certain hand crews????
Can the Forest Service only hire minorities for certain hand crews????
What's the deal with the FS flying jobs to the general public and then only hiring folks of minority or females (which I guess they consider a minority)???

I just don't get it, could someone please explain this to me, because it is currently going on, and I am somewhat dismayed to see my seasoned fire fighting friends (who have at least 5+ years in) who have worked for the FS get passed over for a job because they are not of minority standard (whatever that means), and a bunch of folks who aren't even carded get hired because they are of minority...

Honestly curious, and yes, I do know have a basic understanding of the forest service, I used to work for them, but now work for a different agency, so any feed back would be greatly appreciated.
I am not trying to raise anyone's blood pressure!!!!

4/13 Ab, I heard the WO FS is telling congressionals that only the overhead on
teams will profit from portal-to-portal. Does anyone know more about
this? What spin!

Jumpin Geo

4/13 Just wondering if anybody has seen a safety report for the Nuttall
Complex Shelter Deployment? The incident took place July 2 of last year,
and yet no report has been released. Smells like a cover up to me, is the
Washington Office hoping that people will forget that this ever took place
and try to quietly slide the report in to the system without anybody
knowing? It's like the saying goes, "When the government wants to lose
weight, they usually try to cut of some fingers and toes, when they should
be cutting off fat."

Signed Nut Cracker

Hard copies of the report are out there floating around. I don't know why they won't release it. Funny how something like not releasing a report can make the situation look a little like cover-up. Just searched on Nuttall at the Lessons Learned Website where it was supposed to be posted. It's not there... yet. Shades of No More Lessons Learned given the OIG climate? Ab.

4/13 Roads are closed to the 30 Mile fire fatality site. No one is "allowed"
to talk. Does anyone have info about heads rolling? Is it legal
for a law to be made and people indicted after the fact?

Dave T

4/13 MM,

I have used the following technique to instruct I-100, 200 and 300 to contractors (pilots} and agency folks....

Set up an IA incident on the sandtable. Walk through (grow) the organization from IA to Type 2/1. Expand the incident with resources and fire size commensurate with ICS Organization.....

Cut out 2 inch x 2 inch white construction paper and fold in half .... Write IC, Safety, Information, Plans, Finance, Operations and Logistics (C&G) staff on one each "Tent" to utilize as props. Cut out 1x1 inch "tents" to be utilized as unit leader 'props".

Add an ICP to the sand table along with a helibase.... I add an "airport" on a table nearby to add aircraft. Place the tents in the appropriate area as you expand the incident. Remove tents as you "de-escalate" the incident.

I also utilized an erase board to draw the organization and had it in view nearby....

This has worked well for me as it graphically shows span of control and the growth and de escalation of the organization depending on Incident needs......

4/13 There's an interesting report on the costs of CDF fire protection at www.lao.ca.gov.



From what you say, my guess is you're going to need to distill the main points. Maybe frame it in terms of

  1. This is a system that can start small and can expand to larger that can get emergency responders on the same page when trying to achieve a goal and minimize loss of life under hazardous circumstances.
    What are a few simple examples they can relate to, where ICS was in place even if they didn't know it?
    What would it have been like without ICS?
    ICS arose out of one of SoCal's really bad interface fire seasons in the '80s.
  2. On each incident we have a goal or plan.
    This is how we want it to look when we're done.
    This is the organizational structure we need to accomplish that plan safely.
  3. why/who
    [we really need it as a way to get a lot of different organizations speaking the same language and using the same framework to deal with emergencies; including fed, state, city, vollies, SAR, HAZMAT, Homeland Security, etc];
    example of the mess we'd be in without it; base examples on the experience of who you're talking to;
    with structure folks you might point out that if ICS had been used by all and communication units had been available at the time of the Twin Towers, more firefighters might have survived.
  4. what
    [structure that simplifies and streamlines the work and also allows Commander's Intent to be implemented: points made by Still Out There as an AD: commanding (Command), thinking (Plans), doing (Operations), supporting (Logistics), and paying for it all (Finance); chart or visual if there's time]
  5. where
    [here and/or there... and it's an expandable structure for small incidents getting larger/more complex and multiple incidents being overseen or regulated by a MAC group; span of control is important to achieve the goal safely]
  6. when
    [it needs to be called into play - anytime large or small that you need it]

NorCal Tom

4/13 Re ICS: Thanks for all your posts fellow Firefighters.

I came to the conclusion from this ICS assessment that what they want to see is our ability to speak in front of people and how we verbally communicate information and keep it simple - they don't necessarily want to know how knowledgeable we are on the topic! you could have written the book on ICS and talk about it in a “Fire” language unknown to someone new in the service. This could lead to lost interest and confusion then what you have is a wasted 15 minutes of someone’s life.

Any advice on how I can explain ICS with out confusing people and giving them information that doesn’t just go in one ear and out the other? What do I tell them to keep it interesting so they don’t just nod their head and agree with what I’m saying about ICS! Thanks again guys!


4/13 Good morning!!

For Anyone Interested:
For those that are interested in the early history of the ICS system (not
to be confused with the ICS Computer Application), here is a path to a
document that is on the NWCG web site. This document was produced in
October, 1994 and gives a good description on the history of the ICS


"ICS applications and users have steadily increased since the system's
original development. In 1980, the ICS that was originally
developed in California under the FIRESCOPE program made the
transition into a national program called the National Interagency
Incident Management System (NIIMS). At that time ICS became the
backbone of a wider-based system for all federal agencies with
wildland fire management responsibilities." <Ab added this quote>

If a person want to see additional documents, dealing with HiRise,
Multi-Casualty, USAR/Swiftwater Sar and etc. stuff, they can go to:


Once there, go to Documents/Free Downloads and have a ball.


4/13 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
4/13 <jumping in here on a short rope: ICS originated with the MILITARY, ( LAVE's 4/8 jogged my memory about a topic, " One of the most impressive presentations, to me, was the footage on the Oakland Fire of 1991")
CA state OES "developed" a variation on ICS in the mid 90s: "SEMS"; statewide for all types of mutual aid disaster response.

Fire et al. may have evolved but it's still the same basic ICS, expanded or massaged to fit current operational needs - regardless of state or jurisdictions. Contributors: no offense intended; consider our microcosm & breadth of experience, at all levels.

4/12 Readers:

After reading Mellie's post about notifying the Wildland Firefighter Foundation concerning the recent fire injury, I want to point out what may be obvious but can stand to be said over and over:


This cyberspace place has become a community (or dare I say family) that takes care of its own. Sometimes this is done by Ma and Pa slapping some youngster when they get outta line or by grandpa mentoring someone with good stories and advice or by a bunch of friends sharing info and keeping the humor factor high.

It also is a place of high politics that happen behind the scenes.... and also out in the open to the great benefit of firefighters everywhere.

Take a moment and give thanks my friends. Your world is better because of this place and the people who started it and keep it running with their passion and integrity.


We Abs are also enriched by all of you.

4/12 It's a small internet world. A member of our firefighting community from MN
called Vicki at the Foundation to offer to be a physical presence and support
for Mark Keller's family.

Thanks for doing that. I am sure it means a lot to family and friends know
there's love and support from the whole wildland firefighting community.


4/12 I've been to several Gordon Graham seminars. Not only is he the best
risk management speaker i've ever heard but he's funny as all get out.
He's a CHP Major and an attorney and worth every penny to hear. His
material is geared for emergency workers of all types.

Wildland 206
4/12 Are we in for a bad wildfire season this year?

www.katu.com/stories/76399.phpl wildfire news in oregon

doc brown

4/12 In California as I know the ICS System is all the same even for structure fires, NFPA, Cal-Osha, NIOSH and the U.S. Fire Administration make up standards that you have to abide by we in california just incorporate them into the ICS System that the wildland firefighting organization came up with. Generally we have all the same positions but they usually are more focused around operations such as "interior ops, search teams, roof ops, exterior ops, RIC ops and any other specialized operation that goes along with a fire. My dept. aggressively practices these operations daily . We have been since last 2 years I can remember drilling on I-zone, I believe san diego CDF came up with this for there municipalities to train on. However I do know a lot of depts. that do not practice these both wildland ICS nor structure ICS and it only hurts us when its game time. I believe the book that is given to all depts is ICS-420 handbook and it has all the ramifications in it, good little book to have especially those who do not operate in fire camp on a weekly basis.

SoCal FF
4/12 ICS

About structure protection organization... that is an excellent question my friend.

Its something that we need to address and do a much better job of. Speaking as someone who has led structure protection for Type 1 and 2 teams, IA and extended attack, I can say there are about as many ways to organize it as you can dream up, and no one way has the market cornered.

Embarrassingly, some teams have a tendency to almost ignore structure protection and lean on National Fire Policy as the means to say "were gonna let the locals handle it". This is a mistake, and a throwback of nearly 30 years of cooperative fire protection. In these cases you cant even get the plan to reflect structure protection organization, or you have guys who wear green who aren't comfortable in that environment who instead of engaging just look to a guy dressed in blue and say "you handle it". Not an enlightened way!

Some teams do engage very well and try to do better, integrating the entire fire into one plan and one operation. But there are still organizational shortcomings that need to be addressed nationally. For instance; many teams will organize a "structure branch" to work side by side with perimeter control branches and divisions. This leads to some conflicts but also works well over limited areas. Problem is, when your structure branch is 15 miles long and includes 40,000 homes that gets pretty overextended. At other fires you see where they try to have branches with "structure protection specialists assisting at the branch or Operations Section level, but this isn't too clean either. Some teams try to get a bigger bang from their branches and divisions, expecting them to run both operations over designated terrain well. We need a better fix.

While were at it, we need to recognize the dynamic nature of structure protection. Typically it moves fast, organizing and collapsing structure groups as fast as the threat moves. This is contrary to the practices of traditional wildfire planning and operations management, and for those that haven't done it before its sometimes confusing and frustrating. For my book, we need to reinvent this science, and recognize that structure protection is part of every wildland firefighter's future, from Florida, to Alaska, and Montana to California.

Contract County Guy

4/12 MM - when I was involved with a structural fire company, the ICS system was set up with as many as four sections based upon your relative position to the building. Span of control and other concepts were identical to the wildland fire system. While we were taught this during the IFSTA Firefighter I class, I don't recall if this was "their" system or something adopted locally.

As far as rapidly explaining the organization of what most on this forum know as the ICS system, an instructor in my initial I-220 did it very well by saying it was commanding (Command), thinking (Plans), doing (Operations), supporting (Logistics), and paying for it all (Finance), and I've remembered it by that very general framework ever since.

Still Out There as an AD
4/12 Yes; Gordon Graham is an excellent speaker. His canned messages are a great learning tool.
Look for him a conference near you.

also: Has anyone seen any PowerPoint presentations on the 2003 CAL. wildfires. Am looking for structure protection stuff. Already have Al Simmons video.

Am Teaching S215 at the end of the month.
Any other ideas aside from the 215 ppt.?

Last month I taught a S130/190 class. The class donated over $100 to www.wffoundation.org
This was a great tool to use to get donations and educate the class on the need.
Thanks Vicki, Bert, Melissa!


Readers, Al Simmons link is on the Classifieds page. He also sponsors news, wallpaper and fire photos pages. Ab.

4/12 Readers, after I saw the post about the N Dakota firefighter who got burned over in the grass fire, I did some more research and sent the Wildland Firefighter Foundation more details on contact info. I didn't get permission from Vicki to share her reply, but this is how the Foundation helps wildland firefighters ... and it matters! Just so you know, when the bad stuff happens the Foundation can take on the burden and cost of making the travel and lodging arrangements and can often get reduced rates on airfare, rental car, lodging. The sooner they're alerted, the more likely they can ease the family's burden.
Many thanks sfirelake for letting us know. Mellie



I just called back to N.D. and one of the little gals at the office, told me
that some of the firefighters went to all the ATMs in their little town,
until they could get $1000.00 collected to get Mark K's wife enough
money to get her on the plane to St. Paul to the burn center. She said she
had no idea about her motel expenses or a car. She and some other from
their community are going over tomorrow to see what she needs. I told her to
call me back and let me know so we could help her. This gal started to cry
and said you don't even know us, where are you guys from? I told her there
were wildland firefighters all over the west just waiting to help them.
Mellie thanks for the contact.
I'll keep you posted.



Thanks Vicki, Burk & Melissa. www.wffoundation.org Ab.

4/12 ...man, this is no fun anymore! ..used to put some good stuff in the subject line, now I'm always afraid my note will end up in the spam filter if I do!! :(

..ok, here goes it fer the board...

I took a gander at the ICS link Nor Cal Tom posted the other day and as I was looking at the ICS flow chart I got to wondering about the structural protection end of things. I've never been involved in a fire with a high level of interface in my western experiences (ok, well I have but at that point in my career my nose was too far in the dirt and by butt too high in the air to know it and the structures were a long way away from where I was anyway). My question is, how/where do "you" fit the structure protection folks into the organization on an interface fire?

In my world (flatland fire with a worse case scenario being a running crown fire burning up to 10,000 ac in a single burning period), we Branch Ops into a Wildland Branch and a Structure Branch and the FD folks run the entire structure protection end of things on their own pretty much. Instead of divisions the Structure Branch utilizes "zones" which are predetermined and mapped out depending on fuels and density of structures. We also organize an Advance Group which works well ahead of the fire, an Interior group which is working within the black as near the head of the fire as possible securing structures and putting out ones that have ignited but stall savable and an Overhaul Group which is more of a patrol and mop-up mode to ensure that structures that have survived stay that way.


Yeah, Pulaski, we kinda miss that explicit subject line abuse. haw haw Ab.

4/11 ICS works the same regardless of emergency org.

Look at homeland security www.auxetrain.org/icsmodule1.php
I-100 is the same training that we do in wildland fire.


4/11 Thanks for the post NorCal Tom! Do you know where I might find
something exactly like that but something that deals a little more to the
structural fire organization!?

Thanks again.

thanks abercrombie!
4/11 I heard the sentence - Predictable is preventable.

Someone suggested I read Gordon Gram's work.
Has anyone heard him speak?


I think you mean Gordon Graham. Here's one of his articles in pdf format that has some very useful info. Take a look at his 2x2 table of risk by frequency with non-discretionary time.


He spoke 3 or 4 years ago in R5. He is a good speaker. He's natural and funny. I think 6 Minutes for Safety might have been inspired by his work. He suggested that training a little bit all days on narrow topics helps people keep training topics (RPD slides) at the front of their memory. Ab.

4/11 MM

Here's a good resource

NorCal Tom

4/11 Please post if someone else hasn't sent it to you yet.... sfirelake


A Wilton North Dakota firefighter is listed in critical condition at a burn center in St Paul MN and two other firefighters also suffered related injuries and burns.

FF Mark Keller suffered severe burns Friday when he and two other firefighters were stranded while fighting a large grass fire near Wilton... when the wind suddenly switched direction and their truck stalled. Wilton Fire Chief, J-D YoungBird says the firefighters became engulfed in flames, but those who weren't injured managed to get the others out. Sheriff Steve Berg says he talked to Keller last night. He was coherent but had severe burns. It is reported that Keller has second and third degree burns, covering his face, hands and chest. Keller is also a Burleigh County deputy sheriff.

FF Geremy Olson suffered burns and a broken leg and FF James Meyers suffered burns to his face. The severity of their injuries is not yet known. YoungBird says he spoke with Olson and Myers Sunday morning and they are in good spirits.

Take care and be careful,

Our thoughts and prayers for the firefighters and their families.
Grass fire north of Bismark ND injures 3 firefighters
Fight continues for injured firefighters

4/11 AB,

You can remove Troy Bell from the Leave Donor section of your site.
Troy is now back to work and is doing well and looking much better than
when he left. Thanks again to all those who donated leave and kept Troy
and his family in their prayers.

Jim Huston
Laguna Hotshots

Good news. I removed that link. Ab.
4/11 there is an assessment lab i'm doing for my fire dept and i'm stuck on this scenario.

You are a firefighter with six (6) recruits working with you in the field.
You have fifteen (15) minutes to explain the ICS system to your crew.

Any advice fellow firefighters?! And advice will be very much welcomed!

4/11 Thanks to those putting on L-280 (Followership to Leadership) and inviting me to participate.

It's excellent training and a prerequisite for all supervisory quals/classes. We had everyone in the training from groundpounders, to a dozer operator moving into dozer supervision, to team finance supervisory people. (I hope I got those details right. If not, please correct me.) Everyone was encouraged to and did participate. Good personal examples and movie clips to illustrate points. Good small group exercises. Our instructors are top notch. The depth and breadth of our instructors' knowledge, given their youth, was rather remarkable. In the field exercise portion, I don't think I'm giving away anything when I say that everyone had a turn at being the leader. There's nothing to internalize leadership classroom learning like actually participating in exercises in which you brief your "team" with Commander's Intent as the goal, communicate on safety, acknowledge communications, ask and answer questions if necessary, and practice After Action Review (debriefing) according to the IRPG (Incident Response Pocket Guide) to see if you accomplished your goal.

Some personal on-the-ground "slides" that were demonstrated through the exercises:

  • There's a standard of performance expected of wildland firefighters. Some standards are specific to task, like how to start a chainsaw safely. Some are more universal: safety standards, for example, use of PPE regardless of task. Training and practice are critical to all standards of performance. In addition, crew training to SOGs (Standard Operating Guidelines) can help firefighters internalize responses to specific pre-identified dangerous situations.
  • Leadership without practice, in the beginning, was not a comfortable role (for me anyway). Even with practice, it may not be a comfortable role. Having one or more leadership role models helps. In this training, I learned a lot from my peers and the course leaders.
  • Directing, delegating and participating are all strategies in your leadership toolbox. (Disappearing and observing may be another strategy, especially if you're supervising a convict crew that may act differently when you're absent.)
  • Power comes in many forms and some forms are more important than others when bad stuff or too much stuff happens. Knowledge/expertise power comes first. (I had less of this.) Respect power comes second.
  • The person who truly takes on the leadership role dons the mantle of leadership. He or she feels or appears different to the follower. As perspective new leaders "get it", their body language and delivery style demonstrate it. (Thanks for the opportunity to watch that first hand.)
  • What the leader said and what they think they said can differ. The IRPG Briefing Checklist on the inner back cover helps prompt even experienced brief-ers to say everything necessary in a brief time.
  • What is said by the leader and what is heard and remembered by the follower can differ, follower by follower and situation by situation.
  • Repeating briefing instructions back helps the follower doing the speaking remember better, but may not help the other followers remember. (We did this to see if it improved retention.)
  • Clearly imparting Commander's Intent (the purpose of the exercise: that is, what it will look like when you're done) has phenomenal power in making it so, regardless of tactics used to get there.
  • In complex unfolding incidents, tactics must change to meet unexpected change. Those on the ground know best how to make the best choices to accomplish Commanders Intent given a rapidly evolving and complex situation.
  • Time marches on, sometimes before you're done!
  • As a "team" becomes more cohesive, it is easier for the team to fulfill Leader's Intent: strengths, weaknesses, ego, communication styles, safe communication environment, trust... understanding develops - even in a day - and friction is reduced allowing for smoother and faster performance.
  • Inability or blocks (for whatever reason) to imparting Commanders Intent - a vision of what it will look like when you're done - makes achieving any task much more difficult, if not impossible.
  • AAR (debriefing) is critical to the learning process and to optimizing future safety.

Some personal best memories of firefighters in this training:

  • The caution from the "kid" leader on the steep downhill to not slip on the banana slug (which he had done on his mountain bike once), that if I did, I could grab his arm, ...and the fact that he dubbed me "Mel" in a tone that indicated I was just one of the guys.
  • The rain running off my nose as the <virtual> spot fire is coming over the hill.
  • Not dropping John's head in that pile of dog sh*t as we "lowered" him to the ground.
  • Atilla must have been a wildland firefighter.
  • How good that cold bottle of water tasted in the rain following the steep uphill and passed out by the "big guy" who thoughtfully hauled enough waters for the whole team.
  • The simple appreciation and insight of the "small wiry guy" who ended both his leadership tasks with "First thing, good job, we got that done" even before we looked at what we could do better next time... and who, on the hike out, articulately summed up the special unique strength of each team member.
  • The absolutely impeccable leadership / humanity / professionalism demonstrated by the young leaders, hotshots and engine captain of both genders teaching the class. Guys and gal, you do your respective crews proud, although I'm sure you don't want that kind of "spotlight" shined on you, you'd say you're just doing your job. "Character"... you guys and gal are the real deal.
  • The total booming body laugh I experienced when I was told by the hotshot instructor briefing me as I was acting leader that "I had to stop the grunting, that no grunting was allowed on the next section" (and I'm proud to say he was not joking and I shouldn't have been grunting given the task at hand, although I don't remember grunting! <wide eyes> <I'm innocent look>).

    While on the topic of hotshots, I need to say I gained new insight and, if possible, additional respect for the new generation of professional hotshot firefighters who are upcoming leaders and natural educators. I have had a variety of excellent hotshot "slides" in my head. Most of the R5 BoD members and many if not all of the ICs are former shots, I have worked with hotshot supts on various humanitarian behind-the-scenes projects - in several instances, they've supported me, in several I've supported them. I've also I lurked on the fringe of the R5 hotshot leaders group as they discussed and worked on choosing the Leadership Values (Integrity, Respect, Duty) at their meeting in 2002 (I think it was) and in more recent years as they've shared Lessons Learned. So now I have more slides of hotshots, the Educators. You hotshots have probably been doing that for years, but this is my first experience as student of a hotshot leader in a structured course.

I can't think of when I've had as much fun or felt so positive about the next generation coming up in our wildland fire agencies.
For those wanting to learn or read more on leadership, go to www.fireleadership.gov/values_principles.phpl.



PS. I think I need to sit in on the R-5 Engine Captains' Workshop next February or March. <hint> <hint>

4/11 I'm doing a report on firefighters who fight wildfire. Do you know what order the tools go in. I know there are 20 people on a crew and they are usually about 10 feet apart and they dig down to mineral soil but each person does a little bit on their own tool and its like a conveyor line so when it gets to the end person its clean of stuff that burns. Is there anyplace that tells this?


Tools go cutting to scraping: chain saw, brush hook, Pulaski, McLeod, shovel
picture: handtools (no chainsaw or brush hook)

4/11 Anyone have an update on the OIG investigation/ charges/ anything relating to
the 30mile fatalities? We heard here some time back after Cramer that they were
going to go back and investigate that incident too.

Are they going any further back to any other fatality fires? If so, when does
this become a witch hunting?


4/11 Wendy,

There are mainly 3 types of structure fire departments in MO.

1. Fire associations that have an annual membership fee (tag system).
2. Fire districts that are an independent political subdivision financed by a property tax.
3. Municipal fire depts. Financed by the funds of the city.

I suggest you find out which if any covers your area and work with them to get a station within 5 miles. Money as usual is the big problem. I am over 5 miles from a station and after 12 years of “hounding” my district board am going to have a station in the neighborhood opening this week. My ISO rating will go down from a 10 to a 9 and hopefully with the next rating a 5 this summer. The big selling points to a board are that the children in the area should have some basic fire protection and the home owners' insurance costs will go down. The state fire marshal’s office (http://www.mdfs.state.mo.us/) should be able to help you determine the “rules” you asked about. The brush trucks and related wildland fire equipment as well as rescue/extrication tools are just a sideline to most structure depts. Good luck.

4/11 Wendy, try your state Fire Marshal: www.mdfs.state.mo.us/

2401 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 844
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Likely they can tell you the regulations and perhaps even tell you how you might be able to get assistance. (Some federal money might be available through the Forest Service branch called State and Private Forestry.)

Unless something's changed in the last number of years, Missouri sets up fire districts rather than county-wide fire departments, which should aid you in trying to get something local started. (Although, in re-reading your message you seem to be saying that you come under the jurisdiction of a town council?) If not, you may even get taxing authority. Even if you face some out-of-pocket expenses, having a fire station nearby will probably lower your home insurance rates since the availability and quality of the local department is usually part of the formula in establishing rates.

If it does look like you can get a local effort going, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to get everyone trained from the get-go. Way too many local volunteers mean well and get themselves seriously injured.

Whether or not you get a local station, there's plenty you can be doing to create "defensible space" around your home and other buildings. We here in the east sometimes ignore the wisdom of giving yourself some space. The work would go a lot faster if you and your neighbors worked together.

Still Out There as an AD
4/11 MOC4546,

I hear ya. Nerd wrote in a month or two ago re: criminal liability against any IC who put people in danger on a fire for 'criminal' reasons - ego, retribution, whatever. Some folks thought it couldn't happen, but I've worked for an AFMO capable of such a thing - and guilty of some of the things you mentioned, too.

This guy had an active sexual-harassment lawsuit against him from his previous district and engaged in sexual harassment while on our district as well. For this, despite our district's supposed 'zero tolerance' policy, he got a 'letter in his file'. He also used plain old garden-variety harassment to drive out most of the competent firefighters on our district - turnover in the two years after he appeared was nearly 100%. The stories go on and on.

It still bugs me; if he winds up getting someone killed I'm going to feel partly responsible for not saying anything when I had the chance. But like you, I don't feel there's many options out there. I've little doubt the district would have ignored our complaints and left him free to retaliate against any person brave enough to stand up to him. Most of my crewmates lived paycheck to paycheck and had families to feed - they couldn't afford being driven out of work.

Kinda fatalistic conclusion: maybe it's just like corporate America - the 'golden boy' bad bosses are out there, and it's up to you to watch your butt (and your crewmates' butts) when they're in charge, on or off the fireline.

Anonymous, because he's still there.
4/11 IMHO there are several reasons for the lack of leadership in the Fire Service.

The biggest one is bureaucracy. Un qualified persons are promoted for various reasons (court orders, quotas, and just plain bad management) and no one has the fortitude to hold them accountable.

Another compelling reason is the "us vs them" attitude that is prevalent in the Federal Service. The managers are generally college graduates while the fires are fought (generally speaking) by persons without a degree. That creates a divide between the doers and the thinkers. This attitude is exemplified by the lack of action taken on the Tri Data study and its recommendations.

In the fire responder ranks (say up to BC ranks), a bad leader is usually easy to identify. His (or her) crew(s) are usually lazy, poorly trained and not something you want to share the fireground with. Those people are usually encouraged to migrate to a less demanding position.

In the ranks of fire administration, the problem individuals are much harder to identify. They are protected by civil service rules and granted authority by their position.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I am sure that allowing an IC to be prosecuted is not the answer that anyone in the fire service wants. The Hackett prosecution demonstrates the fact that if something goes wrong the bureaucrats will find someone other than themselves to blame.

4/11 Re thread on Conclusions about Leaders

Hello Student of Leadership!

Let me first say that your (rebuttle?), can I call it that?, was obviously a emotional one. Looks like I struck a few nerves with you and quite possibly a few more folks. Unless you are one of the folks I was describing when I was talking about not having morals and integrity, you aren't apart of Joe and myself's conversation. Yes the 50% number wasn't correct, I apologize. You ask me what hard decisions do I make? How will I pay for my son's college, what size endotracheal tube to insert on a CPR patient I had two days ago, how do I tell someone their son is gone? I sound sour, you sound brainwashed. Not to mention you completely missed the "Johnson" issue or the poop where ya sleep comment. The next time you want to eavesdrop on a conversation, hit the print icon, READ the post and then decide on making a personal attacks or judgments. My observations were objective, yours were pointed at me. So, here is another little saying, ready? If you eat manure long enough it will start to taste good. I know you will get this one, if not write back and i'll help ya out......

Hate the game, not the Player

Sorry about allowing Student of Leadership's pointed responses. I lost SA. It was Sunday and I was not "heads up". Hmmmm, reading back over posts, it looks like we get both the negative and the positive viewpoints. Ab.

4/10 Lobotomy,

How does one contact any of those officials? It's not so easy for good people on the ground to do it without loosing their jobs. Could someone submit a safecom anonymously? Is there any other "heads up" anonymous route?

How does a federal agency (not the FS) find someone to do a FMO job if there is no one who wants it? (I hope this is not indicative of might happen somewhat routinely in all fire agencies in the not-so-distant-future.) Is it right for the agency to simply appoint someone with no fire qualifications who gives himself airs and authority with implied experience that he does not have? If there are deaths, will the agency get fined more than a slap on the wrist? Will the highest management heads roll? Whatever the case, why must our guys die first for those in charge of putting this guy in place to see the danger this move poses??? I know this happened a lot in the past, and in areas other than CA and that current quals that snap into place in 2006 should stop this, but what about now???

I promised to keep the details between my friend, myself and the wall, but there should be a route to deal with such a situation.

Lobotomy, sorry for bringing it here, but if not here, then where?

(I hope I have betrayed no confidences...)

4/10 Abs and all:

Many posts that are thought provoking and interesting, so I figured I would weigh in with a true story about a leader who I worked for and with quite a few years back.

Back a few years when I got out of college, I worked with a leader and supervisor that I still recall vividly. Before I go any further, some background on this person would be helpful. This person- I'll call him Ted, though it's not his real name, was a government supervisor in a well known part of the NPS. As a kid growing up and working the fringes of the same business he was in, I'd heard about him- a lot. Then one I was asked by Ted to apply for a job and was offered a position later that year. Ted had been around a lot and gathered information and techniques from every place he set foot. He read about his line of work and equipment voraciously, talked the talk, walked the walk and never stopped striving for perfection- in himself and those of us he employed. However, he was no saint. He'd worked around this business since he was eight, as had his uncles. Uncle Sam called him away in 1951 and sent him to Korea with a Regimental Combat Team. 6 months of combat and another 6 months of peacekeeping duties after the bullets stopped flying. He came home with sergeant stripes, put the war behind him and went back to what he knew best.

Enter me. Before I worked for Ted, I'd done the same work outside the government. Now here I am with all these old timers and some young bucks like myself. It is amazing just how dense I must have been ( a forward looking backwards glance), but us younger guys just figured we knew it all with our experiences. How he put up with us through the years as we slowly matured is beyond me, but he never stopped trying to teach us what we needed to learn.

Some of his "skills building" techniques were to send myself or someone else out to do a job with just the minimum equipment to accomplish the task. I mean minimum. He knew it could be done, but wanted to see if we could. If we'd returned with everything 100%- great. If not, Why? Ted would go through the whole process, sometimes right there with everyone looking on until you finally grasped what he was trying to show you. Oh, you don't get it? Fine. Here's another way to do the same job. That won't work for you, here's another way. And on until it finally got through. If he couldn't get through, then he'd detail another person to work with you until you got it. Ted didn't really care how you got it done, as long as it was safe and efficient.

Then later on he's sent you out with the normal complement of equipment to do a job, knowing damned well that you could not accomplish the objective. Why? Just to see whether or not you had the experience, smarts and common sense to get to where the work was and say " This can't be done". The caveat being you didn't return and say "I couldn't do this", but return and say "for these reasons I could not accomplish all the objectives, but given what I had, I did this, this and this and here's what left and how much time it will take to finish the job."

I could talk all day of the circumstances Ted would put me and others in alone and leave it to yourself to figure a way how to get the job done. It took years to realize ( at least consciously) what he was trying to do. Build smarts coupled with experience. Getting busted up or tearing up the equipment wasn't part of the equation, and unless unforeseen circumstances intervened, wasn't accepted as an excuse for partial results.

Ted would send a young guy out with some of the older guys, and put the youngster in charge of the operation. This didn't always set well with the older guys and friction soon followed. When you came back in he's pull you aside and ask how it went. He knew he'd hear from the older guys, but wanted your story first. The expectation was that you were responsible for the outcome of the project. When in charge, take charge. But you'd better take a good look at who was working with you, strengths, weakness, ability, skill level, tools and the dynamic of working with a bunch of type A ultra individuals. God knows I had enough bad experiences with that. Ted just wanted you to figure out a way to lead, but some of the lessons were hard and bloody. Other times Ted would just send a bunch out to do a job and let the cards fall where they may. Who'd shine in the moment or was it a free for all? Did you pull together and get the job done or was the job accomplished with a minimum of grace- or outright hostility?

As I said, Ted was no saint. He'd drive you to the brink sometimes. Got a battle with another individual? Your problem until it interfered with work. Mouth off to Ted and he'd make you feel like a penny waiting for change. Do it enough and you'd be looking for another job. Want to get on his bad side, go ahead, and every filthy detail was yours- perhaps through the season or until you quit. Whichever came first. For an example. I had a job working with another individual from another unit. This guy was a major problem. 4 months later, after trying everything in the book, consults with Ted, trying his advice, having a high ranking Ranger discuss a few issues with this individual- all to no avail- I'd had it. Tact, diplomacy, threats, multiple conversations had done nothing to bring us to common ground (at that time a 70/30 split his favor) would have mollified the worst of the situation. But no. So I told Ted here's how it is from my view, here's what I've done, documented, etc. A few phone calls later on this individual, his division chief, Ted and myself are school circled up and the yak starts. 5 minutes later the guy's fired. I got the 'you'd better be right' speech.

I worked for Ted for 11 years before he retired. I also worked for several bosses after that, all with different styles. What stands out to this day is years later while working with a five person crew, I had one person who just could not fathom what I was trying to teach. I tried everyway I could, used others methods and still no joy. When I was called into the bosses office to lend my comments to his evaluation, I was in a quandary. He tried, he worked at it, but just didn't get it. My final comment to the two bosses now in the office (trying to figure out how best to evaluate this individual) was "If there is a fault with the student trying to learn, then there is some fault with the instructor's ability to impart the information." Boss 1 (High ranking Ranger- Armored forces officer) started laughing and said " I think your right. And maybe, you're starting to learn. The individual got a good eval and is now a permanent ranger in another place.

L-380 was my eye opener. I looked back through that week of training to all the individuals and bosses I have worked with, fought with, fought for, battled. I am married and have kids. I'm on a team. I marvel at the leadership and supervisory capacity of some, scoff at others- as I'm sure many scoff at mine. There's nothing to marvel at. I guess at best I at least know what I need to learn, where I'm weak. Middle age has started to show me pretty well what I don't know.

I've had the luxury of working for some great supervisors. I've had some truly impossible ones also. Where I am now, our fire unit has great morale. The rest of the organization's morale is lower than whale shit. And that comes directly from the top.

Maybe some of those FMOs discussed are not good leaders or supervisors. Maybe though, in another capacity they'd shine. We all know that some promote or move to where they should not be. Others should be promoted and are not. What I do see is most of our organizations are resistant to change or admitting they'd made a mistake. We in turn pay for those individuals when the fat is in the fire. Admittedly, I'll be damned if I know how to change the organization from within, except to train and teach the best methods, practices and skills to those who are following. OIG, IG, Congress, FWFSA and others may be another way to create the needed changes.

I guess this went a little ways to long. I don't have any ready answers. In fact, this may not be pertinent to the discussion at hand. If it isn't, the Abs have my permission to not post this.

I would like to wish everyone a safe and prosperous season.

Kerrick Bend

Thanks for the story. Those who have great mentors have a real advantage. Ab.

4/10 SAC,

Like a hawk, 22 sets is the new count, affirmative, Santa Ynez river is too
high right now, bout 33 minutes now due to brush and other miscellaneous
obstacles, nope, still have the new car smell to em, I will let you know
when we do Fremont this year, miss ya too bro and good luck with med school
and the new addition. See ya strummer.

P.S. Call Web.

4/10 This is kind of off your site subject. My husband and I live in the rural Ozark Mtns. We have a few neighbors but we are all separated by lots of land, woods, fields and scrub. Many of us are over the 5 miles to a local volunteer fire department.

My husband and I have been talking to a number of neighbors and all are willing to work to start and support a local volunteer station. BUT, I have been unable to find what the requirements are for the state of Missouri. We are wanting to bring it to a town council meeting but it would be nice to have some information in our pocket.

Can you help?
4/10 There are some good comments on leadership last two days. If I have time, I'll respond to that thread later, having just completed L-280. <proudly strutting her stuff> <wincing as her downhill shin muscles twitch>

However, if I'm reading things right regarding the last few posts on the current thread, there seems to be an underlying question of whether one person is stirring the pot (MOC under different monikers?) possibly working up to defamation of someone specific? Like they have a real Johnson on and are out to get someone? (psst, Ab, I'll take "Monikers for 200". Is Johnson related to that Bigstick guy who comes into chat who sometimes boots the pottymouths?)

Alternative explanation for those jumping on the bad leader bandwagon: I could also see it that once bad leader behaviors are named, we can each imagine a "bad leader". Bad leaders - or those in leadership positions who are not real leaders - are salient slides in our Recognition Primed Decision Making slidetrays that carry a strong emotional charge. --> They raise the hair on the back of your neck! It's an example of Brain behavior related to survival in a high risk environment... You don't trust the untrustworthy; your life depends on that judgment. Even if your rational brain doesn't know it, your emotional brain certainly does.

Anyway, one of the few disadvantages of using monikers on theysaid is that we don't know who is saying what here, with what knowledge base and with what intent.

One other comment... Can you imagine that the original bad FMO (in this case, dangerous person in a leadership position) referred to in the original post would recognize himself? To borrow something from what a friend said, my guess is that if he reads here, he's also madder than hell there's somebody like that in authority!


Mellie, clarification on where posters are coming from is part of the dialog process here. I think it's fair to say that as far as Ab can tell, these posters are all different people. (Don't know if they have the same FMO in mind, though.)

4/10 OK, I'll bite. My first time here. (Ab, help me out if you think something is not clear?)
Here's my counter to I Feel Better Now's view (The Ten Commandments) and the
effect his or her words have on creating a professional wildland fire organization.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated

    I say: Most folks don't like to be called idiot, don't talk about showing their
    "Johnsons" and don't want to have their co-workers want to have them put on trial.
    Emotional intelligence and professionalism are the hallmarks of a true leader.

  • Make hard decisions, make the right ones

    I say: Which hard decisions have you made today?

  • DO NOT poop where you sleep

    I say: You pooped here.

  • Reward the troops when they do good, counsel them when they do bad, build
    a strong team

    I say: Are you trying to build a strong team? or are your comments aimed at
    undermining the strong professional team most of us reading here are already
    working hard to create?

  • It takes one sour apple to ruin a pie

    I say: You seem sour.

  • There isn't a "I" in the word TEAM.

    I say: You seem to have an "I " complex; the "I" person is an integral part of
    the TEAM.. A great team cannot exist without INDIVIDUAL TALENTS
    cohesively employed. I can't say that you inspire cohesion. The team is way
    more than its parts, but it is composed of its individual parts.

  • Suck-ups don't belong in the fire service, they should be doing community

    I say: See commandment #1.

  • The best leaders lead from the front and not the back.

    I say: The best leaders solve the cultural problems and inspire others to win the
    individual battles. They lead by example, they direct, delegate, participate,
    they entice with their words and may give away their power to enhance the
    team's power.

  • Don't ask your people to do a job that you yourself aren't comfortable
    doing yourself.

    I say: Don't ask the readers of theysaid to solve your individual personal
    problems if you are unwilling to do the job yourself.

  • Finally, if I were to be on T.V. everyday, every minute, every second,
    would I like what I see?

    I say: If you were on TV, every minute and second, if you are a true leader,
    you would not like everything that you see. You would see that you have
    weaknesses just like every human being. You would be trying to understand what
    they are, you would work with and around them. Leaders never arrive but they
    always "show up".

    True leaders are always "students of leadership" and "students of themselves".
    The object is not doing only what will let you like what you see or what lets you be
    comfortable with who you are, but risking to grow bigger knowing you can
    look honestly and learn from whatever comes out of that, which you might or might
    not like. Each and every leader has weaknesses. In this particular case, one of them
    is preaching to the choir in a demeaning way. No leader or aspiring leader likes
    personal attacks, or attacks against other leaders. Leaders want facts.... just
    the facts.

Keep it Safe (thanks Abs for the site)
Student of Leadership

Clear to me. Ab.

4/10 I Feel Better now........you said... "People that are responsible for lives and crew safety should have integrity and sound morals, sad to say that 50% do not."

Do you really believe that half of the leaders in the wildland fire community have poor integrity and unsound morals? Are your continued posts an indication about the process of poor supervision and leadership, or an attack on a particular FMO or agency?

If it is an attack on a particular FMO or agency, I'd prefer not to hear it.


P.S. - MOC4546, "I Feel Better now", et al... if you have a valid complaint and it is not being handled by your agencies, there are several things you can do. First, DO NOT take it to the "special agent/ head cop/ LE types for your agency" as Biker Joe proposed. Agency Special Agents and LEOs are statutorily prohibited from investigating the items that you are concerned about unless there are direct and imminent safety concerns, and then can only refer it to the Agency OIG.

Your avenues for remediation are: 1) Misconduct Complaint through Agency channels and protocols, 2) Agency OIG Complaint, 3) Office of Special Counsel Complaint, or 4) Merit Systems Protection Board Complaint. MOC4546, OPM does not have anything to do with the complaint process... why would you be so concerned in contacting them?

4/10 I Feel Better Now,

I think there are a lot of us out there who feel the way you do. I spent the last five years working for an FMO who has a stack of grievances a mile high and still doesn't get it. I moved to a new job with a great FMO, but I'm still not optimistic for the future. It is true that there is no "I" in TEAM, but there IS a "ME" - and I see a lot of new firefighters who seem to know it. You wouldn't believe how many excuses I've heard from newbies about why they can't show up physically and mentally for work, on time and on their days scheduled.

Here's another one for the retirement discussion. If you accept a secondary position and request your primary coverage to continue, can you switch back to secondary coverage when you turn 57????

4/10 NOPSer, StumpShot, others who helped us troubleshoot, we think we have the Hot List Forum registration ironed out for the new server. Appreciate your help. If anyone still has a problem, please email to the addy four posts down.


4/10 Ab,

Alan Erskine was seeking some info concerning tank design for Ex-Military trucks turned into wildland fire engines. Check out the designs and plans at www.roscommonequipmentcenter.com , this site is part of Michigan's forestry service. Lots of good info here!

Woody, District Mechanic NCDFR D-7
4/10 Alan: We don't have any fire rigs locally that look like that truck you sent the photos into Wildland Fire.com,but it's very similar to custom built trucks used by well drilling contractors. They need to haul water to their work sites and use the flat tank top to haul pipe and equipment. I spoke to a friend who has a metal fabricating business and has built a few of them. His name is Dan and he would be happy to answer any questions. He can be reached at Boatbuilder24 @ aol.com. Also attached is the web page for the Roscommon Equipment Center. They have detailed plans for 1000 gal. and 1500 gal. tankers. These are some of the best designs I've seen.

Take Care,
Bill Edwards

4/10 Canadian wants an Army truck...

I am opening a business and am looking for an Army truck , 6x6. I have been looking on the internet, but so far, there are only army trucks sold in the States. Where can I find an army truck near Vancouver, British Columbia?


4/9 The Anchorage Fire Department is recruiting for a Wildland-Urban Interface Fuels Specialist. Starting pay is over $25 p/hour. View the announcement on our Jobs Page. Ab.
4/9 Good morning, Community,

We understand there have been problems registering for the Hot List Forum. We think we've fixed it. If you register and don't receive a reply in a short amount of time, you can email a request/message to
wildland @ wildlandfire2.com for a manual reply.

There has been recent activity on the Hot List, things are heating up. To get to the HotList Forum and to access the WildWeb, click on the News header button.


4/9 Evidently this was caught in the spam filter around 3/29 and just resubmitted. This Ab feels we have a fix on training the filter up. We're trying. Thanks for your patience.

There are two sides of the fence in the fire shelter world, the small but growing number of us that have survived entrapment by deploying, and the rest of us. We've made quantum leaps in our shelter training (remember practicing once a year, on a cool day, on a green lawn?) but as a supervisor, I can't promise I'll lead well if the unthinkable happens. It's easy (and probably naive) for me to say my first time (actually) in a shelter will be my last day as a firefighter, Never been there, done that. My perspective is from only one side of the fence. Is it possible to simulate leadership breakdown, panic, chaos or injury? Do we make it clear that the fire shelter is designed to protect the airway, not necessarily the hide? I agree with D. Mangan, practice and visualization is critical training, but in the real world nature of fireline disasters, I wonder if we shouldn't train for Disorganized Deployment:

* Render a practice shelter unusable. re-fold it so it looks like all the other practice shelters and train with it. Does the trainee do everything they can to make it work (survive) or give up?
* As a supervisor, simulate poor, nonexistent, or fractured leadership. will your crew follow you into the grave, or follow their survival training?
* Visualize loss of situational awareness, embarrassment of being trapped, going through a big investigation, survivor guilt and "shelter stigma" for the rest of your career/life. (Only guessing about this, and please no offense to deployment survivors out there. I aspire to your collective courage.)

So what about (Deep Survival author) Laurence Gonzales' observation that "efforts to make ... systems safer, especially by technological means, made the systems more complex and therefore more prone to accidents" Anyone else see themselves in that line?

FS Capt

4/9 So, even after SoCal has sent resources to fires, SoOps News & Notes is not updated?

I got a hard time from some one from north ops over my previous criticism, but you have
to admit that not updating the page when something is actually happening is pretty weak!
Not to mention that the ICs listed for the teams have not been valid for months.

I know every one is busy... bla... bla... bla...

It is time that SoOps Intel does its job!

Just a disgruntled customer!

Team meetings happen soon at which time ICs, etc will be updated for the year, on this site as well. If anyone knows the ICs for the teams outside of R5, please let us know. Ab.
4/9 moc4546,

Everyone has a poster on their HR bulletin board that states anyone
under anonymity can request an OSHA inspection if they feel their
work place is unsafe for any reason.

4/9 Biker Joe,

I'm glad that someone has finally said what is on most of our minds. Regardless of the agency involved, many of the behaviors you stated occur on a daily basis wherever you work within the fire service. I've noticed that poor planning, not looking at the big picture and politics has gotten in the way of progress in the last ten years. I've noticed that the "Yes Man" generation if slowly infiltrating our much loved fire service as a whole. Like you, it makes me sick to see some of the immoral unethical BS that happens within our workforce. In my opinion the true problem lies within SOME of the "Old Gaurd" that has gotten away with murder in their past tenures. I've also noticed that POWER to some people is like a much needed drug to a habitual user. The more they get the more destructive they are to themselves and those around them. The more BS they spread the more they have to cover up and are forced to live in a lie and affect everyone around them. In a sense, birds of the same feather flock together. Bad leaders breed bad leaders. It is much easier to hide shortcomings than to face them and improve on them. I've seen the golden boy mess up many of times with their incompetent supervisors hoping that they will change their ways. To me i'd rather be disliked and respected than the transverse. The problems that Moc and quite possibly all of us are encountering everyday are ones that can and should be addressed. I think that it is up to us to stunt the growth of these IDIOTS that are responsible for GOOD FIREFIGHTERS everyday. I think that integrity and good moral values play a huge role in what we FIREFIGHTERS do everyday. I scoff at the supervisor that can't keep his or her JOHNSON where it belongs. I scoff at the moron that still believes in the good o'l boy system and still thinks it works. I scoff at the supervisor that repeatedly makes bad decisions and moves up the IDIOT chain. There aren't many places for these types of people to hide anymore and it's up to us to put them on trial and stop this un-healthy circle. People that are responsible for lives and crew safety should have integrity and sound morals, sad to say that 50% do not.

I have thought long and hard on this type of subject matter in the past and I have come to some conclusions.....

1. Treat others as you wish to be treated
2. Make hard decisions, make the right ones
3. DO NOT poop where you sleep
4. Reward the troops when they do good, counsel when they do bad, build a strong team
5. It takes one sour apple to ruin a pie
6. There isn't a "I" in the word TEAM
7. Suck-ups don't belong in the fire service, they should be doing community service.
8. The best leaders lead from the front and not the back.
9. Don't ask your people to do a job that you yourself aren't comfortable doing yourself.
10. Finally, if I were to be on T.V. everyday, every minute, every second, would i like what I see?

Anyway, these were some things that I think about. To all that are doing the wrong thing, you know who you are. I'ts just a matter of time before your bluff gets called, I hope it does. Good job Moc, I got yer 6 Joe.....

I Feel Better now....
4/9 Input for MOC4546

I read your letter about the FMO situation and I tell you what it sounds like the last FMO I worked for. I don't know how this guy got a FMO position, in the three years as a FMO he has not been able to keep the same crew or Captains, he has had at least 2 EEO charges filed against him plus mine ( miss conduct ). I started asking around about his work history and found to the best of my knowledge that he has never served as a FOS or AFMO. So how does one go from a captain to a FMO? It has been shown time and again that this guy can not run a fire program properly but he still holds his position. The system is failing us when they allow people like this to hold such positions, it's sad that it take something like Storm King to make people to realize what is going on.

4/9 Dear Curious:

Several sessions of congress ago, the maximum retirement age for federal firefighters was increased from 55 to 57 as a result of legislation authored by Congressman Elton Gallegly of California. The law did not affect the ability for federal firefighters to continue to retire at age 50 with the proper years of service. The legislation was primarily a result of federal firefighters from the Dept. of Defense wanting to take advantage of pay reform passed in 1998 under the Omnibus Budget bill. Of course as all of you federal wildland firefighters know, your issues were "carved out" of that legislation by the IAFF which has resulted in the FWFSA now taking the lead on those issues.

Having represented federal firefighters for many years, it is my understanding that any time spent past the age of 57 is up to the discretion of the employer.

There have been many instances where fire officers have been allowed to stay on past age 57 for a certain period of time as a result of a number of factors. One of those factors could be the difficulty in filling the expected vacancy.

My suggestion would be to discuss the matter with your supervisor to see where he/she sits on the issue. They have the authority to waive the 57 requirement.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/9 Does anyone out there know if CDF San Bernardino has made their FF1
selections yet? Thanks!
4/9 Curious Gambler,

Our Supt turns 57 at the end of May 2006, and is going to have to retire then.
Everything we have herd so far, is that he will have to retire by then but it is
possible for him to take a non-primary fire job, ie Fuels Battalion or
something that is not deemed a primary fire position.

4/9 Curious Gambler-

My understanding is that on the last day of the month the employee turns 57
they are forced out UNLESS management deems it to be some major safety
concern (can't find an acting, etc.) then an extension through HR can be granted
for a specific amount of time. That extension is one of the HR "acts of God"
where it will only be done with some serious political or management backing.

4/9 Curious Gambler:

If a firefighter is 57 and under the firefighter retirement category, they would
have to retire at the end of the pay period of their 57th birthday. They cannot
finish out the season.

4/8 The Southwest Area is starting to slow signs of activity.
Check out the WLF Hot List forum. (via the News header button)

4/8 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
4/8 A few observations and questions regarding the 2005 Northwest Assessment (pdf file)

First, I continue to find it interesting that we have fewer numbers of fires in recent years resulting in many more acres burned. For example, the Forest Service in the Northwest had 2,492 fires for 14,289 acres in 1977. In 2000, the agency had less than half the number of fires but burned 154,531 acres.

Also note that the lightning is expected to start around July 18. The big bust in 2002 was slightly earlier with 12,000 strikes is Oregon alone with 375 starts on July 12 to 15 including the fires that burned together into the Biscuit.

I am curious about the changes in the number of smokejumpers, since it is a program that is less familiar to me. I know the Cave Junction base went away -- were there others too? Is this showing a change in philosophy? I.e., is road access so much better now than when the program started back in the 1940s that the risk of jumping is not as often considered necessary? Is this also reflecting the greater use of "prescribed natural fire"?

Still Out There as an AD
4/8 Have a bet riding on this one. Hope someone with some actual personnel
knowledge can solve this.

If a Federal Firefighter reaches age 57 in June, does he/she have to retire
in June or can they finish the season and retire prior to their 58th

Curious Gambler

I am pleased to report that as we take on the Forest Service and other land-use agencies over our legislation to benefit our nation's federal wildland firefighters, the FWFSA continues to see an increase in our membership, primarily in regions outside of R5.

This is significant in that for some time, many outside of R5 knew nothing about the FWFSA or believed it was some kind of R5 "social club". Word of mouth regarding our efforts is now far-reaching but we continue to need our current member's help in getting the word out to your co-workers or anyone you know in the business.

If you would like brochures to pass out, please contact me directly at 916-515-1224 or FWFSAlobby@aol.com and I'll get some out to you.

With Warm Regards,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/8 Moc,

We've all seen or witnessed the situation you've
described under a different guise or costume before.

Whether it's

  • The unethical supt. screwing around on
    their partner (I won't say wife / husband/ whatever
    cause there's a few women in this group).
  • The Capt. who's favorite P.O.S. flunky gets the choice
    assignments without experience to back it up...then
    moves up and burns over their crew.
  • The FMO drinking and driving in a Govt. rig.
  • The Regional FMO who pulls a crew off an active fire.

We've written the same book several times, only to
rewrite it under a different name, with similar
characters, same plot line. The hand slap at best,
then onto the FUMU program (you've just won the p.o.s
lottery, here's your promotion).

What's the story here, Leadership and Integrity are
not KSAs for most jobs. Where the shovel hits the
dirt seldom matters in the political reality that
ensues after the appropriate appendage has been
satisfied. We are not judged by our peers when chosen
for the next position, but selected by those who think
they can work with us (do they play well with others,
god/ess I hate that one). A leader makes the hard
decision, not the knee pad one. The leader I want to
work for has a his/her story of doing the right thing,
over the future position momentum thing. I get to
sleep well at night knowing I make the best decision I
can with input from my team.

Someone was sold magic beans in the form of your
golden boy (maybe, or maybe they once had potential,
now rancid by power and self servicing whatever). No
parent wants their child to grow up to be Ted Bundy.
No FMO wants to hire a P.O.S.. The true sign of great
leadership is the willpower to cull the herd, to deal
with the hard problem in an effective manner, to
retain the best and brightest (no 15 watters, please).
To catch and release...

And to lead by example, period.

And sometimes bad operators just don't make it home
(another escaped burn, another HR complaint, "Bob has
a history of bad decisions at the wrong time" region /
state/ powers that be/ have to look at these).

Unfortunately the take away from your situation will
end up as a civil case, with your epitaph being "sue
the bastards".

If the dude is holding information that is potentially
incriminating, go to the special agent/ head cop/ LE
types for your agency. They have to investigate. IF
they've lied on their quals, fabricated experience,
inflated their ego, then they may go down in flames of
their own making.

If the dude is a valid watchout, post it, give us
outside your scope of influence a fighting chance to
not be a part of his demise. Live inside firechat,
spread the word. Just don't slander anyone, talk in
the truth as you see it.

And a final hard, not easy to ask question. Have you
looked at getting out? This is a bad relationship,
someone may eventually die (let's talk a little
relationship counseling here, just like an abused

I've got your 6.

Biker Joe,
True believer

4/8 Tom,

I'm currently with Battle Mountain Dist. As far as I know the
Elko and Wells engines are all still 1900 numbers, Battle
Mountain is all 6900 numbers and Winnemucca is all 5900
numbers. Hope that helps you out, if you have any more
questions, i'd be happy to try to answer them for you.

4/8 Sheriff'sSAR:

I've sometimes seen a disconnect between local emergency operations and information flowing from an incident. Training should probably include how to get and understand items like the Incident Action Plan and Incident Summaries (209s). It should also include using the intelligence data readily available on the internet (for Oregon www.or.blm.gov/nwcc/). Since you are in the west, I'm assuming you've already considered important preplanning concerns such as how to interact with the local state and federal agencies over radio frequencies.. This lack of communications planning was a real problem during the evacuations for the big Florida fires in 1998.

Still Out There as an AD

4/8 RE: Response to Questions about the Dude Fire.

Old Sawyer- Thanks for providing some information. Some I had heard, some not.

Dick M. - I have a lot of respect for you, and everything you have done for the fire community. I thank you for that. I respect your point of view, and hope you will extend me the same courtesy.

Firefighters should NEVER blindly accept anything which they have questions about. And no, my information does not come from "internet mythology". Nor does it come from any of the individuals who were actually burned over. I do not know any of them personally, nor do I have an opinion about them, negative or otherwise. I have never spoken with any of them, to my knowledge.

I do have questions. I am well aware of what the official reports say about the Dude fire. I have also talked personally with a few individuals who where on the Dude fire that day. Not all the stories say the same thing. I am unaware if you were there when the events occurred. Never the less, your comments regarding your sworn statement have been added to my knowledge of the events. But does that mean that I should just accept one version over another? Or should I ALWAYS accept the OFFICIAL report?

I will not do either one. I will question the official report, because there are too many instances of those reports getting white washed, shifting blame, etc…, and the writers of those reports are rarely directly involved. I will question individual accounts as well. People do not always recall stressful events as clearly as they might. Some people will recount a stressful event differently the next day, or years later. Opinions and viewpoints can and will differ.

I intentionally avoided using ANY names in my original post, of those involved in the entrapment or those whose viewpoints differ from the official report. I do not see a benefit to doing so. That leads to blame, which is not what I am looking for.

I intend no disrespect towards anyone. I have walked among the crosses in Walk Moore Canyon, and paid my respects to fallen comrades. I left a piece of myself there.

But I will still ask questions when I am looking for information.

-Looking for Answers-
4/8 I'm looking for information on wildland medical teams, groups, responders.
I work as an EMT IV for the local fire district and the forest service as an AD.
I currently hold an Engine Boss rating on my red card and i'd like to specialize
in emergency medical on fires.

Wildland 206
4/7 Re Dude Fire:

I took my S-130/190 from Dave, and have since worked with him on several occasions here in AZ and out of state. He is a very professional structural/wildland FF and paramedic. He works with a very respected southern Arizona Fire Dept. I have heard his story first hand about the Dude fire, not to mention watching the fire shelter video over and over when I teach my own S-130/190 classes. He has the burns, the emotional scars, and now has the eager intent to pass along his experience. He took his situation, along with getting something positive out of the burn deaths, to teach new and experienced FFs, to improve our knowledge, and try to prevent those of us on the line from going through what he went through. Dave is a great individual, I respect him alot, and always look forward to seeing him on the same piece of line.


4/7 Sheriff'sSAR, you may want to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriffs Department. I believe they have put together several training programs and videos relating to fire safety for their deputies during evacuations. During the 2003 "Old" fire, the SBSD was responsible for the evacuation of over 40,000 people (while performing evacuations on the "Grand Prix" fire at the same time.)

San Bernardino County Sheriffs Department
18000 West Institution Road
Devore, CA 92407
(909) 473-2604
scote @ sbcsd.org

4/7 Sheriff S.A.R.

One of the most impressive presentations, to me, was the footage on the Oakland Fire of 1991. One of the local news channels had a special, I live in Northern California, showing the chaos of the evacuation and some of the survivors stories. The one that was most chilling as well as interesting was the two Oakland firefighters and a resident that survived under a pool cover in a pool in someone's back yard. I don't know the name of the special and I don't know the network that produced it but I bet some one on this web site will know or can find out. There is a made for TV. movie out there, it does show some scenes of the news footage, I would not use the movie but try and get the news documentary.

The documentary shows scenes of the residents trying to evacuate and the roads blocked and the panic and confusion in their voices and faces. There are good examples of wind driven fire, and all the other things that happen during such an event. Some people will try to play down that the events, but many of the conditions that existed in Oakland will exist where you are. Small narrow winding roads, heavy brush and timber, steep slopes, and the most important the influence of wind.

I didn't make it on the strike team out of our county, so I did not see the destruction first hand. I was traveling west from Sacramento during the afternoon of the fire and the smoke column was something to see, it was viable at about 40 miles. I was listening to the 49ers football game on the local radio station, the game was across the bay from Oakland in San Francisco. John Madden made the comment that it looked like a snow storm at the stadium. I know the Oakland event is of the extreme but it is well documented and I have a feeling it will impress some of the people that see the footage.

I would think that any one with average intelligence would catch on after watching this program and then seeing the number of deaths that occurred as a result.

I hope this will help you.

Retired L.A.V.E.
4/7 Here is a Question for the Masses, in particular to the managers, superintendents, human resources people, and agency executives in the Federal System:

How does a person, with all the rules and regs regarding training, task books, and documented fires that are now required, still manage to obtain the position of authority and responsibility of a Fire Management Officer for a federal district which he or she is clearly not qualified for? Or better yet, how does someone get an FMO position and it is passed down that he was "hired as an FMO in training"?

I recall when the Storm King Investigation happened the BLM State Fire Management Officer was relieved of duty because he did not have the proper fire experience for the position, and was in fact a biologist with one season as a firefighter. Many people were removed from positions, transferred to other disciplines, and training was improved to address discrepancies after this report.

This is something I have pondered for several years now, and when I bring it up those who are in the know they shrug their shoulders and say "Its just politics", "He's got something on one or more people high-up in the organization", "He knows how to play the game", "He's got connections", "They'll protect him no matter what", "He's the Golden Boy and can get away with anything" and "It will take him killing someone before they get rid of him".

I thought that all the hoops we all have to jump through regarding red cards, training, documentation, and due to Storm King and other incidents was to make sure unqualified people would not be filling positions or responsibility such as this.

This guy has been in the position for more than three years now, and since then his organization has had the personnel working for him completely turnover once. He passes down responsibilities to his subordinates such as training others and does not provide them with the materials or provide preparation time until right before the class time, then blames his subordinates for producing a bad class.

He represents himself to other agencies in matters that are not within his responsibility area and speaks for others without their knowledge or permission.

He makes his employees jump through unnecessary hoops and withholds required documentation to allow crews to go to major fires. He creates tedious new ways to do things which cause delays and problems for his employees.

His latest plan is to make the Pack Test part of the Wildland Refresher to save on time and preparation. On top of that, the Pack Test will be done outside the set parameters for the test that could cause harm to an employee in the event of a medical emergency. I also read through the NIFC Refresher Training site, and to me a Pack Test does not qualify as a refresher topic, especially since the number of people who have to go through the test would take most of the day.

I have gotten so tired of hearing the overhead people tell me that this guy knows something about the people who approved him for the position that could get them disciplined, demoted, or even fired if they move against him. OPM has eliminated any ability to contact them directly by phone, and when you can get a'hold of them they tell you contact your human resources office. The politicians don't want to hear about it since everyone hates Bush. Unfortunately, H.R. goes along with what the superintendent and ops officer instruct, without regard for regulations or the law.

I have no idea why the regional fire management officer went along with this person's promotion to the position.

This is happening now. This is the basic truth.

So here is the question: What can be done OUTSIDE the organization to have the person's qualifications checked, and if he does not meet the requirements for the job removed?

How do you overcome someone who's holding information over someone to his benefit that can bring about disciplinary action, demotion, termination, or possibly criminal prosecution?

This is a serious concern for agency liability, and firefighter and organizational safety. What happens when this guy does a control burn and takes out a community?

What happens when my wife gets a visit from a government official saying I'm in the hospital with injuries on the fireline, or I'm in the morgue? That Government Death Benefit doesn't replace me for my loved ones.

Any input would be appreciated.

4/7 I use to be with Elko BLM with jerald on 1943.
can i get an update on engine numbers for Wells, Elko, Battle mtn and Winn?


4/7 Killer,

Hey bro. I didn't forget ya. I've been a forgetful dude lately. Mrs H2o's
is 8 months pregnant and our little boy will arrive May 15th. I start Paramedic
school in June and it feels good to be the new guy again. I talk to Bunyan
every now and then, he is a cop in Sacramento now....Take care bro...I'll
call ya soon

4/7 sheriff sar

my name is doc brown I am in central Oregon and would be glad to
offer any assistance to you I am a lead nwsa as well as nfpa instructor
drop me a e-mail

hotshotboss @ hotmail.com

4/7 Sheriff's SAR,

Your issue is similar to other public service provider questions I have dealt with in recent months. I think it's important for organizations like yours to have an understanding of the fire ground, the organizational structure (ICS) and to be involved in fire safety discussions with your fire service providers. In Oregon you need to contact the Oregon Department of Forestry field office, for your county, to discuss private land SAR/Fire actions. For National Forests SAR/Fire actions you need to contact the Fire Management Staff in the Forest Supervisors Office. Each can provide the safety training or point you in the right direction for interagency training. Even with training it will be difficult for you to operate your SAR activities on the fire ground with as much freedom as you are accustomed to in a non wild land fire environment... depending on the emergency nature of the SAR action and fire behavior. To provide for your safety you will most likely be assigned trained firefighters/managers to oversee your operations on the fire ground.

I think the real dilemma non-fire agencies face is with training and certification...All fire service providers (in Oregon) must maintain an Incident Qualification System for wild land fire if they want to fight fire or fill support roles as an Interagency workforce beyond Initial Attack. Currently, due to this certification process, most if not all fire agencies only certify their own employees (with a few exceptions) and accepts the standards of other agencies who have a Wild land fire IQS system. To certify other agency personnel in our quals system is darn near impossible ...for a variety of reasons... including the ever present liability issue.

The Sheriff's Office, Animal Control, Water Bureaus and others do not maintain a Wild land Fire Incident Qualification System...Why? Because these agencies are not fire service providers. However these agencies mentioned and others provide public safety services that are needed during large fire events. Pet and livestock rescue, evacuations, traffic control and SAR activities can and do place non-fire people in or near fire ground operations.

So...the minimum level of training for personnel of non-fire agencies in Oregon (on private lands), in my opinion, is:

ICS 200 - Gives the trainee an understanding of the fire management structure and would allow non-fire service personnel to work more effectively with the Incident Management Team, in a liaison role, to make sure your needs are being addressed.

Basic Fire Suppression Training - OR-OSHA requires this minimum level of training for all woods workers, private foresters and others that might be called on to fight fire on private lands in Oregon. It provides less than S130 and S190 but it does meet the current minimum standards for non-professional fire fighting resources in Oregon that may be assigned to the fire ground on private lands.

Fire Shelter Training and Yearly Refresher - Oregon OSHA requires this training if the employer issues a fire shelter.

Meeting the minimum levels of training is just the first step. Experience is the single largest factor for fire line safety. Direct supervision will still be provided to meet fire line safety objectives until the evaluation process ensures less direct oversight wouldn't put any assigned resources at risk.

Other Training and Use of Non-Fire Personnel thoughts :
There are always exceptions to the rule. IMTs are a blend of flavors. Representation from State Agencies, USFS, BIA, BLM, NPS, Tribal, and Rural and Municipal Fire Departments can be found on most large fires. This same blend is happening at local levels. It's not that big of a jump to visualize that training additional, non-fire public safety agency, resources in overhead support and Liaison roles could result in better coordination and cooperation between all public safety agencies. It could also help ensure IAP'S and District Fire Plans adequately address concerns from all jurisdictions and not just fire. I think the door is wide open for further integration of non-fire service personnel from other public safety agencies like the Sheriff's Office but I think there is a need at the County Emergency Management Level (?) to develop a Wildfire (or all risk) IQS certification process and the MOU'S , between Fire agencies and other emergency services providers, that would allow the use of these resources across jurisdictional lines on wild land fires as Group or Single Resources... That is, IF the goal is to have better access to the active fire ground for your SAR personnel to conduct an Incident within an Incident type of operation.


Thought for the day... If you hear someone yell... UP THE HILL... DOWN THE HILL... EVERYONE FOR THEMSELVES! .... You didn't pay enough attention to the 19th Watch out Situation...19. Lack of Leadership on the fire ground, forest or district...
4/7 Dear Ab:

I know that it is unwise to disagree with the "Abs", but I must respectfully disagree this time. Regarding my response to "Looking for Answers" you replied that "no harm is meant here." While I'm not sure how the Abs could possibly know what the person posting intended, whether harm is meant or not, serious harm can be done - at very least to a person's reputation - by repeating the kind of innuendo that Looking for Answers posted on this site. Since you snipped the person's name from my post (but not Mangan's or Old Sawyer's) I'll not repeat it here. However, it can't be OK to suggest on "They Said" that a person may have engaged in very serious unethical behavior, but not be OK to defend the person - at least not without being taken to task by Ab. I'm glad you thought Dick Mangan's reply was a good one. I agree with everything he said. By the way, I thought my reply was pretty mellow by comparison. Peace to you.


You can disagree. The person writing in (Looking) carefully and responsibly included no names and asked a question that's been asked before. Ab did not even have to request any change in his/her post. It's human nature to want to make sense of what happened when people get burned over or die. I don't see anything about blaming anyone for any actions in a horrific situation. (Have you read Deep Survival?) Beyond that, I see no wrongdoing in the crew's or individual's behaviors. So in answer to the question, just state out the truth. It's there in the records what happened so long ago -- to the best of investigators' ability to determine. There's an excellent Staff Ride to share lessons learned.

I think this was simply a case of clarifying misperceptions, to the degree they exist, so we can get to the important stuff of fighting fire safely. What I object to is mixing the questioner up with the question or the messenger up with the message. That simply starts a flaming war in which people take sides and nothing is clarified. My opinion. Ab.

4/7 Ab

I manage a Sheriff’s search and rescue program in Oregon and have
responded to several wild fires to evacuate communities. I am looking
for any training programs for law enforcement on wild land fire safety.
We use fire fighter training videos and have got some help from the
local USFS however because we don’t fight fire. I am not sure I am
getting the point across. Any ideas?

4/7 SAC,

You still speak the truth grasshopper, though whilst you live the good life
in banjo land we still toil in the gong show...

Didja ferget my phone #?

4/7 I've had a fantastic response to my email requesting info about the
'V'-shaped tank on the 2.5 ton ex-Army truck.

Very much appreciated.

Alan Erskine
4/6 Looking for Answers:

Looking for answers or looking for trouble? I must admit, I did start in on a most sarcastic and flaming response, but then remembered how much I hate seeing those posts on They Said. Instead I will offer this advice. If you are truly seeking answers, do not take the word of a single individual (whether they were there and seem convinced of their point-of-view or not.) Seek other sources. You've heard from Dick Mangan. Read the investigation report and the staff ride document. Other people who were involved are still around. Ask them what they know. I would suggest you start with:

J.P. Mattingly (NPS in Omaha)
Paul Linse (USFS at Savannah River)

Finally, you might want to check-in with <snip>. You have insinuated a very serious charge against <same snip>. To do so without giving him the benefit of telling his side is un-informed gossip at best, but more likely slander and character assassination. I find the story you have repeated here on a public web site to be far from credible.

Sign me,


GGFire no harm is meant here. The unclarity about what happened has been floating around for quite some time, hence the investigation, which some did not know about. I think Dick's and Old Sawyer's replies were good, clear explanations that helps lay it to rest. I'm glad to hear you're not planning a sarcastic and flaming response. In my opinion, the topic does not warrant that. Peace out. Ab.

4/6 Thanks to all who sent in the link to the 2005 fire assessment for the Northwest. I got home from meetings this evening to 5 of them. Good job! There should be such documents out for other areas soon. Bunch of excellent photos in the inbox as well. Stay tuned... Ab.
4/6 LP Fellas,

Do we have as much sense as a goose? Are 20 sets of eyes better than 1? Is the best fire shelter we have the one between our ears? Is Sage Hill still a dome wrecker? Is 30 minutes or less still a good time on Snyder? Do the buggies still have the same smell to them? Is it about 4 and one half miles to East Camino Cielo from Denny's house? My answer to all of the questions is YES. I miss the good and bad times fellas. Never have I had a job like the one I had on the LP Hotshots. God be with you guys this fire season. To the new guys, listen, learn, work hard and keep the tradition alive. I hope to see you guys this summer in Banjo Land....Take care Bro's....

LP Hotshot 1994-2001
4/6 There's a new ad on the Jobs Page for a Fire Manager for the The State of Idaho. It closes in two days, so best hurry if interested. OA.
4/6 Newest fire season assessment. Accuracy will be confirmed sometime in October.

www.or.blm.gov/etc/2005/assessment.pdf(pdf file)

4/6 Re: Looking for Answers posted 4/5,

Eleven Perryville Crewmembers including Corrections Officer Bachman and Crew Rep Dave LaTour were cut off when fire crossed the road they were running down. Fire spread was 18 plus miles per hour from a downburst. All day long before the downburst fire behavior was moderate with little spread in their direction as they were on the flank, nearly the heel, and the slope and winds were favorable all day. One deployed there and survived with minor injuries. Ten ran back up but were cut off. They all deployed. There was some physical and circumstantial evidence that Bachman and perhaps others were hit with hot gasses while upright before they were able to fully deploy, but there was subsequent testimony from the survivors that all ten at that site were seen fully deployed before the first flame front hit. There was testimony that several of them, including Jeff Hatch who walked out and was rescued by Paul Gleason, J.P. Mattingly and Paul Linse, left their shelters during thermal hazards, killing some of them. The photographs on site of the deceased showed deployed, damaged shelters. The survivors' testimony about their shelter experience is genuine. LaTour subsequently participated in the Dude Fire Staff Ride and recounted what occurred there.

Old Sawyer

4/6 Photo Contributors,

I hope to get new photos up on the weekend. Thanks for your patience. If any of you have any really great fire photos, please send them in. Original Ab is already keeping photos in mind for next year's calendar.


4/5 Re: Alan and Looking for Answers questions.

It is soooo nice to be able to have a place to ask questions. It was inspiring today to see how many readers responded to give their answers to the questions from Alan and Looking. I mean, like, where in the heck would Alan and Looking find their answers to such esoteric questions in less than 6 hours unless it was on this site?

I was so impressed, I had to go back and read the Ab Speaks document again, to see what Ab had said about what his vision was and then to try and compare how the current website measures up. In the document, Ab said he was, "frustrated with the lack of a quick, reliable system to allow firefighters and other employees (and their families) the ability to voice their thoughts, ideas, experiences, or even ask a few simple questions".

Well, by God, with questions asked and answered today, not to mention the post from Lori Greeno, it strikes me that Ab's original intent and goals are being well met. I wonder if he ever knew just how critical and far reaching this forum would be. I know the quality of information exchange is typically high quality, maybe it was just the timing of today's posts, or the heart wrenching post from Lori that made me re-think what I normally take for granted.

I suppose I just assume that TheySaid will be here for me to read, respond to, or just lurk on.

Anyway, I want to thank the Abs for providing the place, and thanks to all of you who contribute by sharing your knowledge, skills, and abilities! I will keep learning and adjusting.


Thanks Chandler. I also had to go back and read Ab Speaks. Heh, good idea, Original. Yep, we Abs think this community is just the cat's me'ow for information, entertainment and breaking news. We don't plan on going anywhere. Lurk on. Post on! Thanks, Community. We also keep learning and adjusting. Ab.

4/5 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
4/5 I live in the upper peninsula of Michigan. I am trying to find s130 and s190 classes
and have been for a while. if any one out there knows of any classes please contact
me at frfd18 @hotmail.com


4/5 -Looking for Answers-

Have you heard the one about the Scuba diver that was scooped out of the water by a helibucket and dropped on a mountain side?

Have you heard the one about the traveling businessman that woke up in a bathtub of ice (after getting a "spiked" drink from a lovely lady), with a note saying that his kidneys/liver/etc had been surgically removed and that he'd better call 911??

Have you heard that one about Crew Rep Dave LaTour not really being with his crew and getting burned over on the Dude fire???

Welcome to the world of "Internet Myths that Refuse to go Away!!"

I was on the Investigation Team for the Dude Fire, interviewed a badly burned Dave LaTour and others that survived, and have stated so in a sworn "Deposition" that I gave at the request of the US Attorney in a lawsuit relating to "Dude".

A few simple questions: 1. how did Dave receive the 3rd degree burns on his legs? 2. why would the surviving inmate firefighters all swear that Dave was with them? 3. Is your "individual who was there" willing to come forward in public and make a sworn statement about the "facts" as he/she knows them, and bear the consequences for their statements?

I spent a lot of time one-on-one at the Dude Fire Staff Ride in 1999 with Dave at the Fatality site, and have enormous respect for his courage to come forward and tell the firefighting world about his experience: he doesn't deserve such bulls**t rumors to continue unfounded, with his detractor hiding behind an anonymous name.

Dick Mangan
4/5 Alan,

I don't know who built that rig but I know the Colorado State Forest
Service builds similar looking rigs. Check with them in Fort Collins,
Colorado, 970-491-6435.

4/5 Alan Erskine,

The Fire Truck in the photo you have looks similar to one produced by Colorado State Forestry. You may try contacting Greg Sundstrom at 970-491-8435 and see if he has any information that may help.Good luck.


4/5 Alan-

I believe that engine you see in the picture is a product of the Colorado
State Forest Service. The tank is a 500 or 750 gallon flatbed platform
that keeps the vehicle's center of gravity low.

The best office to contact would be in Fort Collins, but off the top of my
head I can't remember who runs it.

Here's the link for the site, with a contact number:


4/5 re: alan, the engine in the picture is a Colorado State Forest Service
engine you should be able to see more about it on their web site.

4/5 Aussie needs help with identification

Attached is an image of a 2.5 or 5 ton U.S. Army truck, converted into a fire truck by a volunteer brigade. I found the image on the internet, but can't remember where. I would like to know which brigade and any contact details available as the tank design is most fascinating.

I am a member of the Country Fire Authority in Victoria Australia, and we use 'box' tanks - essentially square. The tank in the image looks like it would lower the centre of gravity, making the vehicle more stable over rough terrain.

Any and all help is appreciated.

Alan Erskine
Alanerskine1 @ bigpond.com

4/5 My children and I would like to express our deepest thanks to everyone on the Sabine National Forest for the respect and honor they showed our Johnny when they were sending him home to us. We were sent pictures that absolutely touched our hearts and brought us to tears showing us the whole procession from the funeral home to the DC3 taking off. It was done with such dignity that I was floored. When Greeno (as everyone knew him) got home, he was once again treated with respect and honor here on his home forest. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring from not only friends and coworkers, but from people all over the country that had been in contact with John one way or another, and the kindness that everyone has shown. My hearts go out to Charles Edgar and Jose Victor Gonzales' families. Right now we are sharing the same heartbreak, but we will go on and work to make things a little easier for the next family that goes through this.

I would like to challenge everyone who reads this to join the Wildland Firefighter Foundation 52 Club. They were the first ones there for us when no other money was coming in. It has really helped us through a hard time by easing our financial situation until everything can get straightened out. Please contribute to this worthy cause - you never expect it to be you.

Lori Greeno
Wife of John Greeno
Helitack Superintendent H-517
Stanislaus National Forest

Lori, we mourn with you for the loss of our good men. Our best to you and your family. Ab.

4/5 Foamy, please get in touch with me? Ab, please give him/her my addy. Thanks. Mellie
4/5 Looks like the topic of fuel models has come to light in regards to Urban Interface. Some folks seem to be taking offense to the idea that a structure built in the interface area is just another fuel type. Fuel Model 14 has been around for a long, long time. Just never had a need to use it till now. If people choose to build 'out in the country' then they are going to have to pretend they know what they are getting into. Public education falls on deaf ears till the flames are in their back yards. Maybe it is not 'PC' in this day and age to point out the obvious but that is the way the pickle squirts folks. Like a midget at a urinal the U/I arena will keep you on your toes. Sometimes you gotta let one go so you can fight another day.

4/5 vfd cap'n , you said "The first hole in the swiss cheese is always the unsafe act(s). Those are the errors and violations committed by those closest to the accident, especially the single resource boss and the type 3/4/5 IC."

What do you think about the first hole in the swiss cheese model being at the very top, ie- the agency or professions cultural and safety doctrine?

For many years, the Agencies have been trying to fix the hole at the bottom... it cannot be fixed. People are human and humans make mistakes. There are many mid-level and higher level holes that closed minded folks have never attempted to fix... they just try re-arranging the slice of cheese and hoping that the holes do not line up again. It is time for doctrinal change.... maybe we should just add a different type of cheese to the sandwich?


Doctrinal change is coming. There's going to be a Pulaski Conference in early June. The best and brightest are being tapped to participate. Ab.

4/5 mtndv8: Thanks for the info. Bill
4/5 Probably Going to get flamed big for this, but here goes…

I have heard some a hand account about the Dude fire, the fatalities, and the “your fire shelter video”. I am not so sure I will ever watch that video again. Seems some of the folks interviewed after the burn over might not have actually been in their shelters at all, let alone out on the line when the entrapment occurred.

Has anyone else heard this? I am not saying it IS true, but the account I heard was from an individual who was there. The individual’s reactions / emotions were very convincing to me.

- Looking for answers-
4/4 IMPORTANT: See below, the Forest Service has updated its performance based measures under the Interagency Fire Program Management Standards and Guide!!! (Not really, just an adaptation of a long circulating joke modified to fit the Forest Service.)

Keep Safe.


Chief of the Forest Service
Leaps tall buildings in a single bound
Is more powerful than a locomotive
Is faster than a speeding bullet
Walks on water
Gives policy to God.

National Director of Fire and Aviation Management
Leaps short buildings in a single bound
Is more powerful than a switch engine
Is just as fast as a speeding bullet
Walks on water if the sea is calm
Talks with God.

Regional Director – Fire and Aviation Management
Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds
Is almost as powerful as a switch engine
Is faster than a speeding BB
Walks on water in an indoor swimming pool
Talks with God if special request is approved by the Regional Forester and the Chief.

Forest Fire Management Officer
Barely clears a Quonset hut
Loses tug-of-war with a locomotive
Can fire a speeding bullet
Swims well
Is occasionally addressed by God.

Deputy Forest Fire Management Officer
Makes high marks on the wall when trying to leap buildings
Is run over by a locomotive
Can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self-injury
Dog paddles
Talks to animals

District Fire Management Officer
Runs into buildings
Recognizes locomotive two out of three times
Is not issued ammunition
Can't even stay afloat with a life preserver
Talks to walls, they are the only things that will listen.

Assistant District Fire Management Officer
Falls over doorsteps when trying to enter buildings
Yells, "Look at the choo-choo train!!"
Wets himself or herself with a water pistol
Plays in mud puddles
Mumbles to himself or herself.

The Wildland Firefighters (Hotshots, Engines, Crews, Helitack et al.)
Lifts buildings and walks under them
Kicks locomotives off the tracks
Catches speeding bullets in their teeth and eats them
Freezes water with a single glance

haw, haw. Ab.

4/4 Thanks jrb, Mollysboy, AKA and Ab for the info on the situation awareness poster.....
it is just what the doc ordered! I appreciate it!

4/4 Bill E.

I finally found the info on the azimuth stickers you'd asked about in your
4/1 post. I use them at my tanker base on all my aeronautical wall charts.
There is an address printed on them I'm hoping will still work for you...

Catalog Number MR-5 ( for the 5" Protractor)

194 Veterans Blvd.
Carlstadt, NJ. 07072

The ones I have are pretty old, so I'm hoping the company is still in
business. If not there are several aviation supply companies that should be
able to help you.
good luck.

4/4 Will the person who sent in the email with a subject line about interface fuel types please send it again. I had already hit delete on the spam male file when I noticed it. Readers, if you put they said or theysaid in the subject line, your emails shouldn't go in the trash. Ab.
4/4 Hi,

I'm looking for the 10 & 18 in Spanish. Can anyone point me in the
right direction? I found it a few years ago (I think on a BLM site)
and now I can't find it again.



I found the link in the 1999 archives and used the way back machine to pull it out: 10 & 18 In Spanish Ab.

4/4 I have created a web site that many who visit your web site would be interested in .
It is called "The Mann Gulch Virtual Field Trip", and it can be viewed at

Rod Benson
Helena High School




Cowboy also sent in this link. Thanks to all. Ab.

4/4 Situational Awareness Poster - Jim Kautz of MTDC took all 3 of the photos; NIFC has lots of copies available thru PMS.

Also, look at the WFSTAR site for a good PowerPoint using the Poster.

4/4 yactak,
You may try MTDC.
4/4 Anyone know where I can quickly get a copy of the video FireWars,
a NOVA production in 2002 ( I think).


Amazon orders come pretty fast. NOVA Fire Wars Ab.

4/4 NOPSer

Thanks for the info. I couldn't find that written anywhere.

No Name

4/4 No Name,

I do believe you still have to get approval from your Red Card Committee.
Then get the the task book (TB) back to your IQCS account manger so your
TB and certifying official name can be documented then a new Certification
Card printed (Red Card). Which on some forests may only be down once
or twice a year. Does that help any?

4/4 Here's the link to the 2005 AD rates doc.



4/3 I'm in R5. If I get through the class required by 5109.17 and meet
the requirements of the taskbook am I good to go?

No Name

4/3 Anyone know where the poster with the Mann Gulch, South Canyon and
Cramer Fires topography depicted can be ordered from?

4/3 Need Testers:

I am developing a device that will allow a person to operate any 12 volt device with a "car" type power plug form a King Radio battery clamshell. I believe it's almost done, but I need it tested in the field. Since I am now in a wheelchair and thus have a bit of difficulty getting to the fire-line, I need 20 volunteers who are willing to test this device.

The 2 requirements for testers are: Have access to a King radio clamshell and have a need to charge your cell phone battery (or use almost any other 12 volt device) while spiked out or away from a vehicle / fire camp for an extended period of time.

For more information or to request a demo please go to: http://crew13.com/adapter.php

KRS Evans

4/3 From Firescribe:

Bad Wildfire Season Feared in West

Air Tankers under contract: ready for fire season

San Bernardino National Forest Rains douse fire program

Thailand - Drought - cloud seeding meets success: Rain brings respite from forest fires

Canada - Ministry gears up for 2005 forest fire season - Northwest Fire Management Centre

4/3 weirdest thing in the woods


The strangest thing I have found in the woods was a 16 lb. bowling ball
about a mile from the nearest road on a ridge top. Needless to say it did
not stay on the ridge once I found it.


haw haw. Ab.

4/3 Thanks to those of you who offered observations on the 30-Mile plume. I had wondered if the lenticular clouds to the left offered any kind of clue although I kept getting drawn back to the way the columns are leaning apart. I'm not trying to dwell on a tragedy fire; I know there are a lot of knowledgeable folks on this site, and I just like to try to understand what I'm seeing.

Still Out There as an AD
4/3 sting – you're crackin’ me up!


4/2 My take on the 30 Mile plume photo is from a meteorological perspective.
The two plumes, each creating low pressure, in simple terms, the ability to
go vertical. Thus creating a small high pressure in between, or a small stable
airmass, in the center. I am no meteorologist, but I did stay at a Holiday
Inn last night.


4/2 Nota,

Your response to ncbrush 6 was spot on and I agree with all you have said. However, there are some large problems in this area dealing with volunteer department mindsets. I'm assuming from his handle that ncbrush6 and I are in relatively the same area. I am in an area in Western NC where volunteer service are the primary responders to all incidents and the operational tactics are grounded in tradition more than practicality. Many times I have been told "we done it this way 20 years ago, why change now". I have taught until I am blue in the face, only to have the lessons taught only hours prior thrown out the window on scene of an actual fire. One fire in particular keeps coming to my mind: An interface fire with several threatened structures on one two-track road. Engines nose to nose, some backed in others pulled in. Little or no PPE on the structure protection personnel. Fire that I was introducing to remove fuel from around the homes was being extinguished with 1 3/4" preconnects faster than I could light it. These are just a few examples of things that were being done by people who had been through S-130/190 and S-205. I am not trying to belittle anyone or reflect negatively on any department in my area. I only want to make the point that training is only as good as the willingness to implement newly learned skills or tactics. I wish I could point out an answer to the problem, but unfortunately I can't. The biggest hope for this area are the newer younger folks who are beginning to move into positions of authority with the ability to change or write new policy. Because the old "we've done it this way for years" mindset just isn't working anymore.

4/2 CDF BC: Thanks for the info.! I'll follow up on that next week.

Bill E.
4/2 30mile plume
Still Out There as an AD, here's my take...

The striations between this plume and two primary convection columns is
smoke that is layered in relatively stable thermal bands and is apparently
not affected by either orthographic or thermal lifting or gradient or
diurnal winds. Topography channeled convection and fuel arrangement is
shaping the column.

This is the "Eye of the storm," so to speak. Notice that the columns visible
on either side have punched through a thermal band and are exhibiting
pyrocumulus behavior -- below the striations. This tells me that although
there are products of combustion in the striated clouds, there is not enough
heat and lifting action for them to condense in the thermal pocket.

Anyway, that's my best shot.

S.R. Sparky
4/2 30mile plume
Still Out There as an AD-

Thanks for pointing out the picture of the very unusual plume over the 30-mile fire. It is fascinating to look at and try to determine what is causing the plume behavior. Here is what I deduced.... I welcome any other opinions, and make no claim that my interpretation is the only one.

The wind is blowing approximately from the camera position to the fire; you're looking at the heel of the fire. The well developed columns you see on the left and right are on the flanks of the fire. Between those two areas, most likely, is the center of the burn area that burned some time earlier, leaving presently a low-intensity burning condition, hence, less smoke and no column.

But then it gets interesting. See the lens-shaped clouds to the left of the column; the layered clouds that are trying to form altocumulus lenticularis clouds? They frequently form over mountain ridges when you have a strong gradient wind. Those have some similarities with the layered smoke over the center of the fire. Perhaps a meteorologist can better explain exactly how those were formed.

We can't see the head of the fire, but judging from the columns over the flanks, if there is fuel at the head of the fire, you can bet there's a major column there too. If that is the case, you have a U-shaped column that is open only on the heel side of the fire. And this is where it gets REALLY interesting. The layered or striated smoke over the center indicates resistance to vertical movement, thereby trapping the smoke, or perhaps forming an inversion. I'm thinking that the gradient wind formed a cap over the top of the column.

So if I'm right, you have a 6-sided box, closed on 5 sides by the columns on 3 sides, the ground, and the "inversion" on the top. The wind is blowing against the open sixth side of the box, much like a wind sock, trapping the light smoke rising from the burned over interior of the fire.

4/2 Azimuth Stickers

Bill from NJFFS-

CDF used to print these. You might check with a local unit’s warehouse and see if they still have some in stock. Call 411 for the unit numbers under California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Tell them you are another agency looking for them for official use only. Good Luck and I bet you’ll find them in CDF someplace.

Headquarters are in the following locations and start with the units in the north (Bold). They got rid of the lookouts last.
Santa Rosa
St Helena
Morgan Hill
Red Bluff
San Andreas
San Bernardino
San Diego
San Luis Obispo

“Another CDF BC”

4/2 These are some scary quotes I have heard in the military, but they sure fit the fire world.

Be very afraid when you hear a second year firefighter start any sentence with "In my experience..."

Be even more afraid when a smokejumper (or anyone else) says "Watch this sh*t!"

4/2 Lobotomy,

The first hole in the swiss cheese is always the unsafe act(s).
Those are the errors and violations committed by those closest
to the accident, especially the single resource boss and the
type 3/4/5 IC.

vfd cap'n
4/2 30mile plume

Still AD –

Hard to tell, but it looks to me like the “milling” in the center is the result of in-drafts at the base between the two major columns. The striations at altitude have me stumped. I have never seen anything like them! It is clear to me that any wind at that level has been overpowered by the plumes. You would expect the majority of the movement w/in the plume(s) to be vertical, and not laterally, at least not that much!


4/2 Bill E. NJFFS
About the self sticking azimuth circles. Im not sure if we still have a source or the agency just has a big poop pile of them built up but yes we still have and use them. If I cannot find a source, I can ship you a few. I will post back next week with what I find out.

"Structures are just another fuel type"
Im kinda surprised this statement started such a whoopdeedoo. I have used this statement, and believe it. However, I always preface it with "To the fire..." Im not sure if that is the context backburnfs meant it but that is how I use it. Especially when Im talking to folks about firewise topics. To the wildfire, a structure IS just another type of fuel.

Stumpshot stated that "I have told all of the residents of my former fire dept. that very thing. And you know what, not one of them said “What the hell are you talking about?” Rather, they said, “Fair enough, what do we need to do?” That is a great attitude for the public, and usually that is the type of response I get when talking to the public on the topic. But lets look at it one step further. How many of those folks actually did anything to improve their properties chances of survival? From my observation, too often folks dont get off the stump and actually start to do something until the smoke is in the air. Case in point, in 2000 wildfires were raging all around Missoula. I dont know the numbers but Im sure there were many homes lost. In 2003 Missoula is burning again and while I cant spout any specific numbers or percentages, I was amazed that how few folks had done anything or were aware of the threat to their property from wildfire (mebbe Im just always looking at the worst examples or talking to the folks who just moved to town yesterday??) Not to be negative, there was one small community that went big on firewise concepts after 2000 and guess what? Their community was hit head on by one of the 2003 fires and not a structure was lost. One BIG disappointment that I witnessed was when a type 1 IC was speaking at a town meeting. He was asked "What they can we do to protect our homes?" by one of the citizens at the meeting. Before he had a chance to say anything, I thought WHOO HOO, what a segway!! Come on buddy, tell em like it is! I cannot recall his reply word for word, but unfortunately the attitude of his reply was ...dont worry about it, we have lots of engines that can protect your property. AARRGHHH!!!!

Im sorry, but I am not risking my butt (and that is alot to risk) to save a structure where the home owner has not lifted a finger to help his cause.

....oh yea, I still have my P-38 too!

4/2 Aberdeen I know this may be a little bit late but,

Back on 3/17 you asked An Old Fire Gal if the instructors for NWSA met the currency requirements as required under 310-1. I've been an NWSA Unit Instructor for several years, and this year when I renewed my membership as an instructor, even though I have my training and certifications listed in the NWSA database (for the past 8 consecutive years as far as I know)), I still had to send in a photo copy of my last fireline qualification card along with my most recent performance evaluations to show I actually have been operating in my claimed fireline position. The NWSA is verifying fireline qualifications this year for all of their instructors as far as I know. I have a friend that is an NWSA Lead Instructor that also had to gather and send in documentation to support his recent fireline experience.

4/2 having read selectively, again; 2 comments:

viejo - if you are CA FF, surely you realize that when fires rage in CA state interface, OES starts calling their "on loan" engines to action. it's up to the "keeper" of that city/town chief to decide who persons the crew - unfortunately some consider OES deployment a perk, if you get my drift.

KRF, you may be right; most of the intelligent Jumpers realized achy joints weren't fun about age 30ish - BLM or USFS. slow learners are still hoping for a better landing in a related career where their skills are in demand; some hold Governmentium key cards.

4/2 Hey Folks

Here is something i like to ask, what is the oddest thing you have found in the woods
when out on the line.....well so far i have found parts of a plane, a balloon with a name
on it. yes i did write the person... let me know what you all have found..


4/2 backburnfs,

I also was on the Dude fire. I was also on the Wasatch Fire. (and 7 other fatality fires non-entrapment related). Both fires were categorized as wildland urban interface fire fatality sites and used to make the idea that wildland urban interface areas are dangerous and should be avoided..... I say BS to that notion...

Each fire was near communities but not directly affecting community protection at the time of entrapment. When these fire fatalities occurred, they were the result of holes in the swiss cheese model, not the result of folks wanting to protect homes (Basic failures in wildland firefighter doctrine). These fires were far away from the communities at the time and were being fought at the appropriate locations.... but the holes on the model lined up and the weather conditions turned sour... the holes lined up once again to provide for wildland firefighter fatalities.


P.S. - backburnfs, I agree.... as you stated.. "I think the W/U can actually be a safer environment
because it causes our Situational Awareness to raise a few notches.".... BUT THE WUI AREA is safer because the folks recognize the wildland fire problem and carry situational awareness to other areas of the country outside the WUI. Situational awareness cannot be taught in a classroom setting... it needs good and qualified leaders to present the question, the problems encountered, and the solutions.. and provide the experience to back up the learning experience.... ie... www.fireleadership.gov

P.S.S. - A question to all... when the Swiss Cheese model holes line up for an incident to occur, where does the first hole in the cheese start at? Top or bottom of the wildland fre community?
4/1 With all due respect, viejo, the CDFers I've worked with have been first to categorize houses as "keeper" or "move on". I've agreed with trainers when they've said to students, "Remember, it's their emergency, not ours." It's only logical. My experience is that CDF and FS are not that different when deciding whether to save a structure or not. All risk doesn't mean stupid risk. I think that's all backburnfs is saying. That's what I'd say to any firefighter regardless of agency. You're right, we're all in this together.

Tahoe Terrie
4/1 I was poking around some of the photos and am wondering if anyone can help me understand what I'm seeing in the picture labeled "Plume" for 30-Mile. I've seen some serious plumes in my time from Biscuit on down, as well as plumes collapsing, merging, etc., but the center of the 30-Mile plume looks odd -- specifically the way the smoke is almost milling in the center and the striation at the very top. Any fire behavior whizzes want to fill me in? Thanks!

Still Out There as an AD
4/1 Backburnfs,

I was disappointed to hear the remark "structures are just another fuel type" and the other remarks indicating that structures in the wildland are such an irritant.

I see people on this board who are struggling to achieve recognition as an all risk fire department. They are asking for the job benefits commensurate with that task.

When houses burn, the citizens don't care what color the engine is, whether its FS Green, BLM Yellow, NPS White or CDF Red. They only see the big letters that say FIRE.

If you want to be treated as a full time fireman, act and think accordingly. Otherwise, you will continue to be treated and paid as a seasonal forest worker.


4/1 Lobotomy,

No, I don’t think people are a fuel type and I will do anything I can to save human lives. I will not however get emotionally involved in saving property regardless of the $ value. Emotions based on some supposed value of improvements, as opposed to natural resources, on the part of firefighters is what gets us to make stupid (the public likes “heroic”) tactical decisions that cause firefighters to die. Mission Tunnel Vision (MTV) as a result of some real or imagined pressure to risk lives to protect structures is based on emotion and will cause some of us to loose our Situational Awareness and make unreasonable choices which will result in death and injuries.

I have worked on two fatality fires in my 31 yrs of firefighting, Dude and Cedar. Six firefighters died on the Dude Fire and one on the Cedar. (I am not counting the civilian fatalities on the Cedar fire because I don’t know many facts about how those poor people perished.) Based on my experience I have to say that the Interface is a safer environment, because you are closer to your vehicles and you are generally out of the way of falling snags and rolling rocks etc. Probably there is a higher fatality rate due to heart attacks and vehicle accidents in the Interface but I am just guessing about that one.

I am all about making firefighting safer.

StumpShot; Feel free to use any of my writings to make all the t-shirts you want. I live 100 feet from a year round stream and I have flood insurance. I totally agree with you about people taking responsibility for the choices they make in regards to where they build and the precautions they take. I really like my home and property but I hope no one ever risks their lives to try to save it if / when the creek floods. We don’t need anymore dead hero’s.

4/1 Steve LCES:

TSA will take your P38. They tried to get mine (Vietnam era) that was on my key ring packed in my carry-on last year. I almost missed the flight frantically mailing it home to myself. I opened cans with that P38 on fires for many years. Too valuable to me to lose.

BackburnFS and others:

In 1969 we were wearing aluminum Bullard brain buckets, orange nomex shirts, blue jeans, and that was the year I bought my first Whites. We played roller pucky with C-rat peanut butter or jelly cans rather than hacky sack.

4/1 B,

hey my opinion about the packs is that I have had good stuff with a company out of boise, idaho and it is called BAG MAKER. pretty reasonable. they make all kinds of packs from wildand fire stuff to military packs. and i believe they may retro some stuff.

website is www.bagmaker.com

4/1 B,

Look into True North Gear www.truenorthgear.com

Stay Safe,
4/1 B

Ruffian is a good company they can make anything.
They used to be on the classifieds, but I don't see them.


4/1 B
Look at the nimrod packs, so far so good for me.

4/1 B,

Everybody will have their favorite, but I have had tremendous success
with the Ranger line of packs. If your looking for a jumper style look
into the Cougar.. www.rangerpro.com

4/1 A month or so ago I asked if anyone had strike team leader (S-330) on power point. Thanks to a lead by one of you folks I now have a disk in my possession that some talented people in Southern Cal put together.

I'm having a hard time finding a supplier for self sticking azimuth circles for maps.
Due the fact that computer driven mapping is replacing manual map making and fewer people are using fire towers for detection I guess there isn't much call for them. If anyone knows of a company that still sells these I'd appreciate it if you let me know.

Bill E.
4/1 There is periodically a boot discussion but I have gotten to the point where it
looks like I'll need to buy my own line pack. Any recommendations/preferences
out there? I need a friendly company that will be willing to alter mine . . .

4/1 Old Wolf, since it was AK I guess you got me, although I am pretty sure that you were issued a hard hat as part of your required PPE. Any federal firefighters in the lower 48 have been required to wear hardhats since before I started in ’75, we were not allowed to remove our hardhats unless we were on the crew bus or in our paper sleeping bags, we even had to wear them to chow in base camp. State and volleys of course were subject to there own set of rules. I know in ’81 the fire line handbook (NWCG) had fire resistant pants and shirts, gloves hardhats and fire shelters as required items. Of course they may have been required in Alaska too and folks there just chose to ignore the rules.

I have a copies of the old 1960 crew boss training film that shows all the firefighters wearing tin hats, Frisco jeans and cotton work shirts. We (SZ R-5 FS) got issued cotton fire shirts and hardhats and had to wear our own cotton jeans Levis or Friscos, until the end of the ’75 season when they gave us our first nomex pants.

Funny, we still have to buy our own boots, but I guess I would rather do that than get issued some GSA low bid crapola boots, but that is another issue.

Thanks for making me think of all this old stuff.

4/1 I've updated the Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist). Ab.
4/1 Ab,

Ok, I know what a P-38 is. My question is to anyone out there that can help with a definitive answer.

Is a P-38 a "tool". Can I carry one on a commercial aircraft or will TSA 'seize' it as a terrorist weapon of mass destruction?


(Look, they seized a 1 1/2 inch allen wrench in ALQ after the Sedwick fire because it was a 'tool' and "therefore, a possible terrorist weapon of mass destruction" (their words, not mine))

Steve LCES
4/1 Wonder if this could effect AD rates........yea right.


Washington, DC - On March 24, 2005,
Independent Sector announced that the 2004 estimate for the value of a volunteer hour has reached $17.55 per hour. This is a tool that can be used to help organizations quantify the enormous value volunteers provide. This year's estimate increased from $17.19 per hour in 2003 Nationally Independent Sector estimates in 2004 the total value of hours volunteered was equivalent to approximately $272 billion of contributed service, assuming the total number of volunteer hours held constant from previous years. "No number can adequately capture the true value volunteers bring to so many causes and communities across this country," said Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector. "Nevertheless, this yearly estimate helps us all focus on the enormous contribution of our nation's volunteer corps." The hourly value of volunteer time is based on the average hourly wage for all non-management, nonagricultural workers as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a 12 percent increase to estimate for fringe benefits. To learn more about the value of volunteer time, go to: www.independentsector.org/programs/research/volunteer_time.phpl

Independent Sector is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of approximately 500 national organizations, foundations, and corporate philanthropy programs, collectively representing tens of thousands of charitable groups in every state across the nation. Its mission is to advance the common good by leading, strengthening, and mobilizing the independent sector.
4/1 I thought jumper line would just be attacked for being so scraggly...When I thought about it, I realized that any jumper line found by other firefighters would always be black on both sides...why else would the others be there, if we hadn't lost it?

As for KRF's accurate observation: When I see the bros and they ask me what kind of law I'm practicing, I always say 'DUIs and divorces - Jumper law.' I made this comment at a National Smokejumper Association dinner in Grangeville a couple of years ago; looking around the room, Jerry Zumwalt suggested Elder Law might be the way to go instead.

Sunil Ramalingam

4/1 Happy retirement John Watt. We'll miss your vigilance in the fire skies over Redding.

Hope you'll still keep writing in here!


4/1 Thanks SITL, cool site. I do like the fire history stuff.


4/1 Backburnfs,

Per capita, do you think it is safer to protect the interface areas or the remote wildland areas?

I don't know of many wildland firefighters who gave their lives protecting interface areas.... but a whole lot of firefighters have given their lives protecting trees, streams, and butterflys without any education about what or why they are protecting them......... and sacrificing their lives.....

Safety should never be about comparisons... it is about facts. WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS GIVE THEIR lives when they make stupid decisions and the swiss cheese model above them allows them to make those decisions..... The problem with the system... ie - "Doctrinal Change" is that it never seems to happen until someone, or several, are laid to rest without the top levels in the organization realizing they are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

When it comes to safety and doctrinal change, it doesn't matter if you are in the wildland urban interface or the most remote wilderness area..... wildland firefighters die each year... THINGS CAN AND MUST BE MADE SAFER..... and they will be.

4/1 CDF/USFS reunion for retirees in MVU/Cleveland NF
on April 19th at Viejas. RSVP Sal Garcia by April 2.
$20.00 contact Sal at 760-789-9702.
4/1 Cynic,

I must admit I was initially a little miffed about you getting a kick out of the responses to Bosworths letter. However upon further reflection I do admit I agree with some of your post. Namely “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.” We should not just let it go at a simple “I mentioned it to them, they are aware”. We need to keep getting to message out, while we SAFELY accomplish what we can.

Is it blasphemous to question the concern of a supervisor who tells us to “do more with less”? I think not. Mr. Bosworth CAN show how concerned about our safety he is by finding the funding needed to staff us at the level we were assured we would be. He is not doing this, as far as I can see. Should Mr. Bosworth stand up and find the needed funding I will gladly retract my statement regarding his concern for Firefighters.

I did not intend to imply that less money equates to less safety, but if we do not have the funding to effectively staff our engines, helicopters, etc. then I do feel that we have an increase in exposure to risk. As an example, lets say you have 4 engines (you pick the type), last year you were able to fully staff those engines. Last year those engines responded to a total of over 130 IA fires on your district alone, a fairly typical year for your district. Those 4 engines were kept BUSY. This year however, due to budget cuts, you are only able to staff two of your engines. Will those two engines be able to respond to every fire if you have another typical year? No, of course not, some of those fires will go unstaffed, perhaps most of them will burn out on their own, but what about the one or two that don’t self extinguish? The have an increased chance of becoming a large project fire, costing millions of dollars and causing an increased number of Firefighter to become exposed risk. That is the problem with letting a fire escape initial attack!

The axiom “do more with less” indeed has been around a long time, but the attitude that we should accept something because that is the way it always has been is a dangerous one. For a long time Women and Minorities were not allowed to vote. That was a given, that’s the way it had always been and the way it always would be, forget that it was wrong. I feel the same way about the attitude of “do more with less”. We will accomplish those tasks we are safely able to with the resources given us. Meanwhile we will let those in power know that we nee additional resources or a more appropriate assignment.

4/1 On the Bosworth letter thread:

I have been reviewing a number of fire management environmental documents (EAs, EISs) lately and they all have one thing in common: not one of them places firefighter and public safety as the highest priority! They all look at impacts on "sensitive resources" and "valuable infrastructure" and they all neglect any meaningful discussion on the "impacts" on firefighter safety when firefighters are ordered to "protect" these things. This seems to me to be a violation of the Federal Wildland Fire Policy of 2001!

The momentum is in place, as always, to meet deadlines. Line officers will soon be signing these analyses off as complete and the action plans that ensue will dictate that we put firefighters at risk to "protect a stack of lumber" (good one Backburnfs). Or to "protect" wilderness from wildland fire (??). Have we learned nothing from our collective history of tragedy fires??

Cynic: I'm with the majority opinion on this forum. Highest management seems not to "give a rip" regarding firefighter safety. There will continue to be more tragedy fires if something doesn't change. Protecting the party line just feeds this syndrome.

NorCalTom: As always I respect and endorse your post but Bosworth HAS NO EXCUSE for not seeing the bigger fire picture with a seemingly flippant attitude towards firefighter safety.

4/1 Joke:

This is a joke, just a joke and not to be considered a poke at anyone or any fire department or fire fighting organization. That disclaimer, disclaimed, here is the joke (it can be adapted to rib any group of fire fighting people you want).

It seems there was a large warehouse (or anything else that burns) and the fire department gets there and is not making any headway. The owner comes up and explains to the I.C. (fire chief, burn boss) that there are valuable documents (secret documents, scientific data, baby bunnies, etc.) in the building and they need to be saved. Try as they might the firefighters can not make any head way on the fire and more alarms are called in. As new units arrive the same explanation is given to each new engine (crew, etc) and as a bonus a reward is offered, $10,000 cash to save the valuables. Well none of the new engine crews can do any better than the original engine on scene. Mutual aid is called in and more fire companies arrive and the same reward is offered to save the structure (scene) about this time the reward gets doubled.

At about the same time the (insert the name a fire department or fire fighting organization here) comes flying down the hill, siren waling and air horn blowing, every light is flashing on the oldest, most beat up fire engine in the county and there are eight or nine old out of shape good old boy firemen in tattered, dirty, worn out bunker gear/ turn-outs/ (insert whatever is the correct P.P.E. for the story) are hanging on for dear life, some even riding tail board! They go flashing by all the engines, water tenders, and what ever else is on scene, with what everyone thinks is a stern look of determination. They crash right into the structure (scene) that is on fire and go to work fighting the fire like they are trying to extinguish the flames of hell and damnation. Lo and behold they do the impossible, what six or seven engines and 30 firefighters and overhead couldn't accomplish in and hour in a half these guys did in just a few minutes. The owner of the facility goes up the old Fire Chief and shakes his hand and tells him how wonderful he and his men were, and that due to the heroism of his men his company will still be in business and that he will add another $5,000 to the reward making it $25,000. Well of course the media is there and covering the whole thing. This cute little reporter catches the Chief's eye and asks for and interview, and of course the Chief grants one. The reporter compliments the brave and heroic work of the old, wise, and battle hardened veterans of the small fire department and finally asks the question what will your department do will the reward money. The Fire Chief responds "well the first thing is were gonna fix the dang brakes on that there old fire engine, we were all scared to death we were gonna die."

Most of you have heard this in some form if you have been in the fire service any length of time, but you have to admit it is a classic.

Retired L.A.V.E.

Retired LAVE, good one. This joke came in from Pathfinder (one of the original theysaiders) about 2 weeks ago. Because he did name specific groups, (old, Norwegian, vollie, Minnesota) etc, I did not put it on theysaid but put it right on the Jokes page. Thanks for providing a pc version. I know I've heard more firefighter jokes over the years, just can't remember them... Ab.

4/1 Not trying to beat up on the jumpers, But have you heard this one?

Q: What do you call a jumper wearing a necktie?
A: A defendant !

4/1 backburnfs,


Are they just another fuel type when they include people?.... families?...etc????

The narrow look at the Wildland Urban Interface would say "walk or run
away!!!".. The facts speak a whole lot different story..... the complete
look at the urban interface would include HUMAN FACTORS and
values at risk.....

4/1 Geez, Backburnfs – You wanna make up some t-shirts with a catchy slogan from your last paragraph? I have told all of the residents of my former fire dept. that very thing. And you know what, not one of them said “What the hell are you talking about?” Rather, they said, “Fair enough, what do we need to do?” Now, we had a fairly wildfire savvy population, especially for R2, but with the Walker Ranch Fire (2000) out the back door, and Bobcat, Hi Meadow, Buffalo Creek, and, not to mention, Hayman, in the area, black sticks are well within view.

I would be interested to know if anyone out there is getting negative feedback from the public regarding this line of thinking. And, if so, where in the country. I know it is not a popular belief with homeowners, but if you live in a flood plain, you don’t fight flood insurance, why fight the responsibility of living in the W/UI?

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