MAY, 2005

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CDF Cedar Fatality Report (pdf)

Cedar Fire MAP

Novato Cedar Fire Report (lg pdf)
5/31 Actually I am not sure They Said is 'technically' BBS, but it sure is the closest I know. Sorry for the use of the acronym, common ff malady as you know.

I recall Bulletin Board Systems. Way back, many years ago, there wasn't a public Internet as we know it now. The BBS systems were the precursor to the Internet. They were privately owned and operated computer systems that provided discussion forums, email, chat rooms, software downloads, and much more. It was all DOS based and one had to know or learn a certain amount of text commands to make anything happen. There wasn't any windows based point and click happening. And unless you lived in a select few big cities, you were forced to pay big bucks to the phone company for connecting long distance, not to mention the monthly fees the BBS charged. My monthly phone bills were regularly over $250. I didn't consider it a big deal and was happy to be able to reach out and communicate. OriginalAb.

PS: I also know what Trumpet Winsock is.

5/31 Sorry Ab and users: BBS = Bulletin Board System. See even the internet jargon can get in the way of understanding!
*me thinks Ab asked the question to make that point, clever Ab!*
5/31 NW -

The hidsight 20/20 thing can be done all day, of course FF Rucker should not have died, what if he was in the house, what if the burn team called from below, what if he was sick and never went to the fire? It is a tragedy and I believe that only the other 3 people on the engine, or the people in the immediate vicinty can answer that question.

I consider myself a well experienced and trained FF, I admit I have been iin situations that I did not like, and nearly have lost my life to an overzealous firing team, bad communication, and been turned around in the heat and smoke.

There does not have to be a "failure" in leadership for a line of duty death to occur. All of us are aware of the x-factor. I believe that no amount of training, no amount of equipment, even the most experienced of personnel will be bitten by the x-factor. I just wanted to point that out - that even the best laid of plans can get buggered.


5/31 Ab -

Here's one for the A-76 Competitive Sourcing crowd:

"New guidance from the Office of Management and Budget on exemptions of federal jobs from competitive sourcing efforts promises greater scrutiny of agency decisions:

http://www.fcw.com/article88992-05-27-05-Web "

I especially like the part saying "...Exemption should be granted only if its loss to the private sector would result 'in substantial risk to the agency’s ability' to accomplish its mission, the memo states."Makes me feel really good about my tax dollars and the goals of "our" government. Nothing like a government striving to high ideals.

Be safe- -out there

PS - By the way, for those interested in following government policy news from non-government sources, both FCW (www.fcw.com/) and GovExec (www.govexec.com/) are pretty informative and you can sign up to get
daily news by subject.Also, for more IT and homeland security news, government security news and the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security have some good stuff.
5/31 Mellie and All Others,

I have been reading this site of and on for about 3 years now. Some people have come and gone, but I don’t believe I have ever posted any comments.

I would recommend that everyone reads Amanda Ripley’s article “How to Get Out Alive” in the May 2, 2005 edition of Time magazine. The article hits upon some of the same points as Kelly Close’s paper regarding the Cramer burnover. I am not making an assumption, nor am I implying any correlation to the Cedar fire, but I believe that we as a community need to understand some potential human factors that come in to play during an emergency and we seem to be on that thread right now.

I work with lifeguards and others in EMS and Fire, and am starting to conduct some research with a doctorial friend of mine involving “high trait anxiety”. This is a measurable personality trait that can make some individuals more prone to panic or other undesirable behavior during an emergency. This trait can explain why SFFs remove their SCBA during training in their first smoke house after their quarter service alarm starts and they “can’t breathe”, even though they still have air; or why, as the Time article states, unharmed passengers, in a burning airliner, sitting on a runway, merely sat in the seats to burn instead of using the emergency escapes. We need to understand these character traits better and hopefully develop tactics to train through the trait. Identifying this trait, or other similar traits will hopefully allow us to develop training techniques to guide these individuals through an emergency.

Before anyone jumps on me about “new training”, hang on. I’m not saying we need to be taught different material. Just present the material in a different format. We may also just need to focus more training on certain individuals. Draw this parallel: some of us enter the fire service with little upper body strength, but we focus on weights on push ups until we can hold our own. Same with non-runners developing the leg and cardio capacity to accomplish our jobs.

Mellie, would you get my email from Ab and send me any references you have on your adrenaline table? I would love to hear from any of you with other resources or references regarding this issue, off of the They Said page.

5/31 Does anyone know what the average seasonal cost for an IH crew, and a type 2 crew is ?
Including vehicles, housing, training, overhead, etc ? What does it cost to fund these crews
for a season ?

Single Resource Boss
Ellensburg, WA.
5/31 Old Fire DOG-

Amen brother- we need more like you out there!

Technology (GIS, GPS) is amazing. This coming year the entire state will be
flown at 1 meter resolution (good enough to find a roof) and the data will
be public domain spring 2006! By the way, this is HUGE.

The Dept. of Homeland Security has flown a number of urban areas of
interest (going slightly into the WUI) around the state at 1 foot
resolution- but unless someone processes the data it's a bit hard to use on
a large fire area. The data is free and is being processed in various ways
across the state.
Available urban area imagery:
http://nationalmap.gov and click "Go to Viewer"

The problem with CDF data is that most of the aerial photos have licensing
issues (only for CDF use under X, Y, Z programs). I believe the data was
bought by the California Fire Plan which is not directly linked to incident
support. I don't work for CDF so I can't say I understand the issues- I
only know that I have been told it is licensed for only CDF due to $$$
(which is normal and understandable).

There are a lot of things that COULD be done for operations. Most of it is
that you, as ops folks, need to start a dialog discussing what you want,
need, expect, and how we can help you on an incident. I have found over 35
documents (GAO, NWCG, FIRESCOPE, articles, etc) citing expectations of GIS
on incidents and only 1 was written by an operations person- the rest were
GIS types trying to understand what was wanted of us. I live in the land of
fire and so I'm getting better at guessing. Not everyone is lucky enough to
work for fire :-)

Stepping off the soapbox,
5/31 The death of Steve Rucker is again a topic on this site.

We can "what if" all we want about physical condition of firefighters, did or did not a firing operation cause a death, if we had good photos and maps, what the supervisors were doing when and 100 other reasons not yet speculated upon for Rucker's demise.

Having been at the scene, I can tell you that the structure the Novato engine was parked at was in a saddle at the top of a major drainage (San Diego River). The fire burned through the saddle destroying the house and other structures in the saddle while no damage was done to the structures on either side of the saddle. Basic topographical and weather driven fire behavior, up slope and up drainage, was exhibited at the time of the fatality. That portion of the fire was picked up by going direct within hours after the incident by IHC crews, engines and dozers.

The decision to retreat into the structure should only have been used as a last resort measure same as if you were deploying a fire shelter. The actual Safety Zone was the grazed off pasture 100 yards from the fatality site. No fire ever spotted into that field. Waiting until the last minute to try to escape an advancing fire front is the cause of too many fire fatalities and injuries.

This fatality happened in the same drainage and only a couple of miles away from the Inaja fire in that killed several firefighters in 1956 under somewhat similar conditions.

Give yourselves and your crews the extra 5 minutes of that will save you, them and your families the grief that too many of us have experienced in our careers.

5/31 Hey Ab,

What's the average cost per day of a Type 1 helicopter on an active fire assignment?

5/31 Why do you continually preach that deploying shelters as heat shields
is a viable tactic? If you are taking refuge in an engine or a house
or whatever and are deploying shelters for whatever reason, you have
already failed as a leader. Instead of focusing on the how to survive
the entrapment, we should be focusing on how to avoid the entrapment
entirely. Entrapment avoidance should be the lesson here, what do we
need to do to avoid this situation in the future? A simple breakdown
in LCES greatly contributed to yet another fatality. Your first
priority as a leader is to recognize these potentially hazardous
situations and avoid them or take steps to mitigate the dangers

Additionally, I think it is very fortunate that we are only reading
about one fatality. There were other "entrapments" that day on
Orchard Lane that were caused by the "firing team." Additional
engines, dozers, and a hotshot crew were all put in additional danger
by the firing. It seems the only resource that followed LCES that
day, and mitigated the hazards that were continually changing, was the
hotshot crew. Their supervisor recognized the hazards and disengaged
his crew to the safety zone.

I agree that leadership failed, but it was on a number of fronts,
first and foremost the experienced FC who was conducting the rogue

The need for physical testing and higher physical fitness standards is
evident, throughout the fire services. It should start with each
supervisor at the module level.


5/31 Howdy AB...greetings from Colorado.

I came across your website wildlandfire.com in an effort to locate some written history about smokejumpers and specifically about smokejumpers or forest fire fighters wives...and widows. I am trying to find some specific accounts of wives and widows of fire fighters and their stories, preferably from the earlier years of the Forest Service, that I can use to write a couple songs for a friend of mine in the Forest Service who is also working on this project.

Your website was very interesting to go through, and it was also very interesting to read the emails from today's wives (in familysaid) about their lives going on while their husbands and boyfriends are out on the firelines. I am certain that the communications between wives in the days before email probably read pretty much the same, with the concerns for the safety of their loved ones and the joys and tribulations of having babies and raising families without their loved ones around, plus all the other news, like the wives health issues, sharing recipes, talking about where their partners are working, etc etc....

If anyone in your 'family' there has any information they would care to share with me or any info on books or reference material I can get my hands on in regards to stories of wives or widows of forest fire fighters, I would be most obliged. Please feel free to email me at pattyclayton@msn.com.

Thanks for your time!

Patty Clayton ~ Performing Songwriter
Female Performer of the Year for the Western Music Assoc.
website: www.cimarronwind.com
5/31 Yes, there are many lessons to be learned in reading the Novato Fire and CDF Cedar Fire Reports. I hope that my postings will not put a damper on your communications. Keep up the good work and be very aware of your situation when you are on the fire line.

Adrenaline - perhaps. It is my belief that Steve's airway had been burned when he was taking refuge behind the engine. This makes sense to me because his last words to Captain McDonald were "I'm burning up!" as he fell up on the cement patio.

and to FC180 - what's with the statement "we all need to be prepared for other firefighters to do unpredictable things" (regarding the reactions of the 6162 crew)? The crew of 6162 was in survival mode, and it is fortunate that 3 of the 4 did survive. Let's shift the blame where it needs to be pointed. The CDF FC violated command structure, was not in communication with the crews on Orchard Lane, and had no water supply - all while setting backfires. If that's not unpredictable - and totally reckless behavior - then I don't know what is. If you do one day fight fire with the FC in question, I hope that it will be on a deserted island so that others will not be affected. I wonder if you will feel the same way after you have seen the video tape.

Cathy Rucker
5/31 You raise some interesting points and concerns about the tragedy in the Cedar Fire. But I find it interesting that you challenge the answers ("publish the unvarnished truth") provided, when you don't provide the truth/facts.

First Novato is not all flat. The Fire District is 71 square miles, which is about one third urban (Novato FD website). That one third is fairly flat, the rest (which is wildland and interface land) is at least as sloped as the burn over site, if not greater. Remember the slope at the burn over site was 20-40% (pg 70 of the report). Novato has brush and grassy/oak woodlands as it's primary fuel types, with heavy timber is some wetter areas. Marin is as close to the Pacific Ocean as San Diego is. Of course the weather patterns are different in San Diego, but we get the severe "transition days" as badly as San Diego did the day of the burnover. In fact, a common statement in Marin is we could have the Oakland Hills fire all over again, on a normal weather day. (Oakland Hills was on a extreme east wind day. But, viejo would lead you to believe we don't get that sort of experience in Marin, or in the Bay Area. Again, the "unvarnished truth".)

As to crew experience. We all want to go to fires, and many of us don't get to as many fires as we would like. That being said, do we not send personnel to a 500 acre (Class E is 300-1000 acres) because they haven't been to one before? Do we not send personnel to a 10,000 acre fire if they haven't seen that big a fire before? That would have meant there would have been very few (particularly in light of the other large fires burning at the time) people with viejo's required experience to go to Cedar, as it finished at over 280,000 acres.

Last year, engines from Marin went to at least 6 5000 acre or better fires that leap to my feeble memory without any digging into written records. Of course none were in Marin. Experience in Lake, Sonoma, Napa, Shasta and other areas counts, doesn't it?

There are some valid issues that can be documented in this report. The report said nothing I saw about the "experience" of the crew, as far as I can see. This is strictly a judgment call on viejo's part to attack the crew of E6162, and I am not sure where he got his "facts". The report mentioned all training at the engine company level was current and appropriate.

Is that "unvarnished truth"?

5/30 Both the CDF and the Novato FPD reports are very well done and both departments should be commended for making the reports available for the public (wildland fire community) to review for lessons learned.

Novato FPD also has another version of the report titled "Investigation Analysis of the Cedar Fire Incident" at www.novatofire.org/cedar.pdf. Please take a look at page 71 of the report regarding carbon monoxide exposure levels and the differences specifically on page 71 between the two Novato reports.

I understand that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) was also doing an investigation of the Cedar fire fatality and had some preliminary information (Novato F.P.D, Cedar Fire Incident Recovery Report, p. 71).

Will NIOSH release the preliminary report and will they also be releasing a final report?

NIOSH conducts third party independent fire investigations of line of duty deaths that result from traumatic and cardiac related events.



See Cathy Rucker's post below regarding the timeframe of the NIOSH Report.

Those doing the report probably had something new on carbon monoxide brought to their attention and they added it. It's not like some info was left out of the most recent report on the Novato website. Good info was added.

I downloaded the first Novato report last May. I should update that one on the server here to include the carbon monoxide information. Ab.

5/30 Dear Viejo,

I am Cathy Rucker, widow of Novato Firefighter Steven Rucker. I would like to point out a few facts:

1. You mention that the engine should have been used for shelter because it was relatively undamaged. Does that mean that it had breathable air in the cab and that the air was not too hot? I would like to show you Steve's melted duffel bag, which was located inside the cab.

2. The NIOSH report will be released soon. In it you will read that Steve had a physical exam in August 2003 and that he was cleared for duty without restrictions. Yes, he had allergy-induced asthma. It is estimated that 5-8% of the population has it - that would most likely include your fellow firefighters

3. What's the sense in deploying heat shield when the temperature is too great? The crew of 6162 were literally running for their lives. I suggest you go back and read the reports to realize the short amount of time they had to react. If they had stayed by their hoselines, there would have been four fatalities.

4. Novato, CA is completely surrounded by urban-wildland interface. Their fires stay small because they use mutual aid and aircraft, when necessary. Steve was an experienced wildland firefighter with two seasons with the CDF as a young man. I have heard many seasoned firefighters say over and over that they had never seen fires like they did in Southern California in 2003. My point is that no amount of experience can prepare someone for a fire storm - until they have lived through one.

And dear Gizmo

Amen!! There was a change of CDF Administrators in July 2004 - that's one excuse.


Welcome Cathy, sorry for your loss. I hope you know it's not our intention to inflict more pain. Firefighters just have to hash things out to see what can be learned. Ab.

5/30 vieho

I thought the reason we went to training was so we would use it afterwards. I put up all the possible topics to encourage people to think about possible issues.

Sometimes I just can't help myself...


PS Engineer Rucker's failure to go to the house is a puzzle we may never have the answer to. One simple possible human factors explanation comes from the "fight or flight" adrenalin and heart rate research. When we get charged up with adrenalin, it affects our whole body. Our heart rate increases automatically and lots of other human factors come into play. Ab could you please put up this quick Table of how adrenalin affects heart rate and other human functions. Fire sights, sounds, smell, heat overwhelm the senses, triggering massive adrenalin release. Engineer Rucker could simply have had an extreme adrenalin release and a heart rate increase into the red zone that made him confused, and be unable to run. There are individual differences in how people respond to that kind of stress.

5/30 Weirdness of Internet Communication:

So, the Cedar Fire Report is the latest catalyst to controversy and discussion. That is what this site was put together for (correct me if I am wrong Ab). And so far there has been some provocative ideas put forth. Again, that is what the site is for, right?

But, it appears that some feathers have been ruffled and some offense has been taken. Cooler heads, like Mellie and others have tried to get folks to focus on what we can learn from and avoid 'pointing fingers'. I applaud those efforts even though and precisely because I have been perceived to be abrasive and out of line at times. Sometimes it has been for a purpose, to be provocative, others it was misguided attempts at humor.

A respected colleague of mine reads They Said but never responds because he feels that too many folks just use this site to spout off with out having any real insight, he may have a point, but I wish he would contribute, he has some great ideals... and ideas.

One of the problems with a BBS (Bulletin Board System) is that it relies on the written word which is inherently limited. Readers cannot hear inflection, see body language and sense other cues that give clues to intent and emphasis. Don't get me wrong, this place is a great resource and has contributed greatly to the availability of info, and chance for discussion, I am just pointing out one of its limitations. Trust me I understand them better since certain communications produced an unintended misunderstanding.

But it is all worth it for such a provocative site, right?

Provocative: Function: adjective: serving or tending to provoke , excite, or stimulate

{Merriam-Webster Online}


5/30 Thought I'd pass this along. IAFC calls for "stand down" June 21 for firefighter safety

It's time for all of us to sit back and look at what we do and how we do it. As firefighters, both structural and wildland, we need to watch our 'Can do' attitude and sometimes say: "Let's look at this a little closer." A fire may burn a little more structure or acreage, but is it worth a firefighter?

5/30 There are good aerial photos and sketch maps of the incident in the Novato FPD report on the incident which is available in the archives. (Ab note: Also a link is available above in the header. Maps are pages 22, 25 & 27)

I suggest everyone read both the CDF report and the Novato report. The Novato report hints at a physical condition undisclosed in the CDF report, i.e. that Engineer Rucker was at the time using prescription meds for asthma. The report also goes into detail about the need for physical testing and performance standards for wildland assignments. Is there an unsaid statement in those remarks?

In a recent post, FC-180 makes a strong case for the crew not to abandon the engine. That's what I was taught and I concur. The facts seem to bear this out, since the engine was relatively undamaged.

I find Mellie's 5/29 post interesting. She is apparently trying to fit this scenario into all of that high level training she's been attending and reading about this winter. You know, Swiss cheese models, proximal cause, latent cause, and so forth. To be very blunt here, the leadership failed and the crew panicked. They did not stick together, did not deploy shelters as heat shields and abandoned their hoselines. The first thing a crew leader must do is keep control of his crew and when the situation turns bad you keep them close.

To say that this was an experienced crew is a misnomer. Novato is a medium large town (city to most of us), population 50,000 in the north of Marin County. It is relatively flat ground with little expanse of wildland. The county is subjected to a wet marine influence and rarely experiences a Class E or larger fire. Very little of the Marin County experience would prepare any crew for a wind driven San Diego County fire.

There are lessons to be learned here. Its too bad the parent agencies can't or won't publish the unvarnished truth. 

5/30 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated.

The State of Idaho Department of Lands is recruiting for two full time positions of Lands Resource Managers - Fire. One entry level, one Senior position. The application period closes June 17th, see the Jobs Page for more info.


5/29 Ab,

I found the Cedar Fire Fatality Report much easier to understand and to draw lessons from, when I had an air photo of the area for reference. I'm attaching two labeled air photo of the accident area that I tossed together. They are the same picture:
JPEG (smaller
, but not so good when zoomed)
Tiff (bigger, better detail).

The air photo is a DOQ from USGS via www.terraserver.microsoft.com
There are no copyright issues with the image. The image is dated 05/28/02. If you want a broader view, go get it from this website.

I got the address information to label the structure from San Diego County.
Parcel data online at www.sangis.org/SangisInteractive/viewer/viewer.asp.

Now my two cents.

Too bad the STL, the FC, the DIVS etc. didn't have air photos. Lot's of things might have been done differently. As the report correctly points out: Accidents happen at the end of chains of events. Therefore there are lots of places that accidents can be stopped.

Good Incident Intelligence is integral to Incident Safety. Don't settle for less than you can get.

CDF does have very good, recent color photography of much of the urban interface in the state. It would be a big change in the approach to fire intelligence/situational awareness if Ops folks left their briefings with an air or satellite image. Those days are not far away.

If Ops folks start to ask for photos, as well as maps, it will happen sooner rather than later. I suggest folks go to the Sit Unit with a USB data key and ask nicely for an image of their Division. Any laptop and some PDAs will be able to display the JPEG or Tiff you will get. Heck if you are staying in a hotel, chances are you will have free internet access. Go to Terraserver and get yourself a DOQ or two.

Make use of all your senses out there, including good old common sense.

-Old Fire DOG

Thanks Old Fire DOG. Another piece for looking at the puzzle. Ab.

5/29 Just a note to tell you what a lovely Family Day we had, the Wildland Firefighter 
Foundation did an excellent job. Some great speakers also. I think the most
touching was the releasing of the doves and the bagpiper. Of course Vicki, Burk
and Melissa really went all out for us. How can we ever thank the wff enough?
Please remember to join the 52 club.


5/29 Robert Cunningham please email Ab. Someone has expressed interest in buying your Davis Plume photo.
(Dave Lockwood, do you have contact info?)

Thanks, Ab.

5/29 Am I reading something wrong in the CDF Cedar Fire Review Report.

In the report, it says "The Review Report, supporting data, and
supplemental information were provided to the Agency Administrator
on March 10, 2004."

If the report had such valuable lessons to be learned, why was the report
not made public until 14 months after it was provided to the Agency

5/29 AB,

The lesson is that if you are unassigned to the incident let alone that
division, and apparently did not know the weather or fire behavior, you
should not be conducting unplanned firing operations. What the heck was
the thought process that prompted the firing and resulting maelstrom? It
is unbelievable. As I read the report and realized the consequences of
those two tragically firing along the lane, I stopped reading and put my
hands over my eyes and slowly shook my head. They did not even stop
after a helicopter begin dropping on what they fired. Simply
unbelievable!! It was individual action not department plan that
resulted in tragedy. The dept is culpable only if they allow that no one
is culpable and it was the fates of fire behavior that caused it.

Take Care,
5/29 Contributors, let's make Steve Rucker's death count for something. We can do that by having a meaningful dialog on lessons learned from this tragedy.

What happened? (Read about it.) What are the unanswered questions in your minds? Here are some things I thought of as I read along. I would like to hear anyone's thoughts on any and all of the following that is not clear in the report:

  • Was there an up-to-date plan? Large plan (IAP?). Small plan: saving the house safely? Was the plan accomplished? If there was no plan, why not? If the plan failed, why?
  • What led to entrapment? Were standard procedures followed pre-entrapment? Which ones were not? Why not?
  • After entrapment, were standard procedures followed? Which ones were not? Why not? Why did some survive, but not Engineer Rucker?
  • If we use the Swiss Cheese Model of causality, what was the " proximal cause"? What were the "latent causes"? What holes in the Swiss Cheese lined up? Where are agency and fire organization strengths? All agencies/organizations? Where are agency and fire organization weaknesses? All fire agencies/organizations?
  • We're interagency in this day and age; we need to communicate better and better. How can we do that?
  • Training. At a minimum do we need training standards like CICCS or 310-1 or something more like FSH 5109.17. What about physical training and physical fitness standards? How might we bring all cooperators up to speed on training? Do we need to do that?
  • A good leader knows the "team member" strengths and weaknesses and uses them appropriately. Would it be better to match agencies/organization's current training, experience and job (structure vs wildland) with assignment? Can we track that with technology?
  • What part did human factors play in this tragedy? How might knowledge of human factors help firefighters make better choices? Would this help at all? (Aside: Did the hotshield masks that Rucker and McDonald wore have any effect? Do they off-gas at high temps?)
  • What part did leadership play? How might formal leadership skills help us make better choices? What impact did human factors have on leadership decisions?
  • Experience. How is experience with wildland fire documented in each organization? How do we keep those with not enough experience out of leadership roles?
  • Competence. How do we make sure that firefighters at every level are competent to perform their job as safely as possible? How do we fire those who are not competent? Is it easier for fire departments to fire incompetent firefighters than for land use agencies to fire incompetent firefighters? Measurable standards?

Readers, the political wrangling and infighting following the 2003 Cedar Fire After Action Review was sad. It had lots of potential that was not realized. Let's do better than that. Please, let's educate each other.


5/29 I found this in the old archives after the Cedar fire. A little funny now in light of the new CDF report.

<snip, a theysaid post November 11/9/04>

It is in my hopes that the CDF heads will not turn a blind eye as they have done in the past. They need to make public now that it does not end with this report and that they are investigating further actions. Regardless of the agency, accountability must be up held.

R5 Dirtminer

I think the release of this report makes the burnout information public. Ab.

5/29 I am sure we can all agree that "Dave" jumps to conclusion when he unequivocally states that the CDF FC "put the fire on the ground that killed Rucker". I wish I lived in such a black and white fire behavior world. Being a firefighter would be so much easier.

Let me say that I have worked with the FC in question, he is a skilled and experienced firefighter. He has many years of service in a county that gets more than its share of dangerous fires, and has fought fire all over the west, not just San Diego. I have fought fire shoulder to shoulder with him and would do so again and probably will.

The main thing that stands out in the Green Sheet and the detailed report that was uncharacteristically released to the public (an entire subject for discussion on its own) is the fact that they drove the engine away from the scene of the fatality, and all four of the Novato firefighters fled from the engine to the house. Now I agree that a house can often be an excellent refuge since there is a delay in the ignition from the initial fire passage, but I teach my crew that the engine should ALWAYS be your first refuge. Despite the unintentionally misleading information in the MTDC video from a few years ago denigrating the engine as a refuge, encouraging people to leave the engine and deploy a fire shelter. Nonsense. Inside your engine you have water, A/C maybe, Breathing apparatus maybe, shelter of steel and glass, and with a fire shelter open against the windows, a fairly comfortable refuge. Look at the Crank Fire entrapment video from 1987. The 3 engine crews retreated to the engines in a CROWN fire. That is proof in the pudding for me. Even though they eventually had to leave the engines and deploy tents on the ground, the peak fire intensity had passed.

Imagine how different the outcome of the Cedar fire fatality would be if the crew had gone directly into their engine (they were already all together there), rode out the worst (shut the pump down to prevent loss of water), got out when the heat had passed and put the structure fire out and gone to the next one.

I also believe that if you read between the lines, there was an underlying medical emergency that resulted in Rucker's confused behavior and falling. He either had a massive heart attack or a stroke or something. The Novato Captain should have been able to drag Rucker into the house if he had stayed on his feet and contributed to his own escape. This is just my opinion, and we will never know the truth even if the investigation team knows something. Health Information Privacy Act, you know.

We all need to be prepared for other firefighters to do unpredictable things. Doesn't one of the kids interviewed in the "Your Fire Shelter" video say just that?


There are alternative explanations for Engineer Rucker's behavior in my opinion. Ab.

5/29 SoCal FF:

Who said I worked for the USFS and what difference does that make anyway? Maybe I work for CDF! Take your blinders off and examine the report critically, you might see some of the same issues I raised. Not sure how much time you have in the saddle, but by your quick defensiveness, I’m thinking not much.


Doesn’t feel (or read) very good does it?

AB-You are exactly right, my intent is to not bash CDF, but to further debate the material and hopefully learn from it.

Sign me “Sad for those involved, but grateful for the information”
5/29 Lets stop bashing the name CDF it may have been the dept. that employed that company officer but CDF didn't burn Rucker the Company officer who gave the order to put fire on the ground. I have had the opportunity to work for both agencies Forest service as an FEO and currently work for CDF in a contract city. All those who are bashing CDF who work for the Forest Service you should know better because there are many folks who work for the forest service who have done the same thing or similar that compromise your safety or others safety and what happen to them, promoted or put in training, dispatch and better yet an LEO position with F---ing gun.

I guess my point is that look we do a dangerous job and anywhere you go, There is know to avoid these people NO MATTER who's dept. you work for. So please stay safe watch your crew's ass and yours this year. Stay SAFE!


I took out the repeated reference to CDF in the post with the 19 points. I can see how you might interpret it as CDF bashing. Knowing the poster, I know that was not the poster's intent. FYI, there has been CDF input on this thread, so this isn't simply a case of non-CDF firefighters ganging up on CDF.

That said, Firefighters, let's remember to focus on "the what, not the who" for the best lessons learned. I appreciate that CDF has released the report and commend them. We can all learn from it. We will have interface fires in the future. We should be more ready. Ab.

5/29 Ab, a few comments on the Cedar Fire Fatality Report. It's good to read it and have the chance to discuss it.
  • First let me say we all were doing the best we could during the Cedar Firestorm, especially for the first few days. Resources were committed to the firestorms to our north. We were short. We were watching communities go up in smoke. We knew some people were loosing their lives. Day1 we were all acting fairly independently as we tried to get the organizations and coordination up to speed. By Day2-3 we were doing better but anyone who was there can tell you we were in combat mode the whole time. Some more experienced firefighters more than others. Willing structure firefighters who wanted to help were rolling in. By Day5 there was still a sense of urgency. Adrenalin was way too high. We need to guard against that in the future if we can.
  • Communications. We need to do better. If you can't communicate, pull back.
  • Fire training. We need to do better for firefighters not well trained or experienced in wildland. Grass fires are not the same as the conflagration we faced on the Cedar. Structure training is very different than wildland. It's hard if not impossible to be trained and experienced in both. When push comes to shove we go back to our training. We need to recognize our strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of our brothers/sisters. We need to place them on tasks they can accomplish successfully and safely. If/when we have a terrorist HAZMAT situation we will need to recognize that the situation will be way beyond the training and experience of many of our wildland firefighters. We will need those trained in hazmat to consider our training and inexperience.
  • Escape Routes/Safety Zones: When you have a hammer all you see is nails. When you're a structure firefighter experienced with small grass fires, you see a structure as a safety zone, instead of seeing it as just another fuel type.
  • Dedicated Lookout: Hard to remember this one when you're focused on structure. Harder yet to find someone that can really see and read the fire behavior. Saddle anyone? Smoke from several directions?
  • When people see something they've never seen before, they often don't make good choices. Whose fault is that? When firefighters don't know what they don't know, most will think they know how to handle it and they try. It's in our nature to try.
  • Finally. Most firefighters will assume those around them have a similar level of experience and can take care of themselves. We can't afford to make that assumption on the interface with interagency resources.

That's my twobits for a start.

Sign me socal CDF (Another one)

5/29 AB: RE-Cedar Fire Report

I couldn’t help but look back in your archives and re-read “Fire it Up!” from a few years back. Paragraph 7:

“I must say to be fair though, some of this effectiveness is also due to the inexperience of DIVS and other overhead not being very creative in how to use them, so it is not entirely the fault of the OES strike team. This is why you see reference to the "Lawn Chair" syndrome. Even the OES strike team leaders are getting a little more savvy to this and are trying to be a bit more discrete in the use of the dreaded chair and find meaningful work for their team. It's even covered now in I-330 STL class as a no-no!”

I can’t help but think that this lawn chair culture somehow had a part in all this. Local, state, and federal resources approach these fires differently. State and federal approach this work as another day on the job whether that is on forest, off forest, or in county or out of county. To local government, an out of district response is something rare and afforded to the few. It is a party, a chance to “get out” and go have some fun and see some big fire and play with the big dogs. Probably sounds harsh and arrogant, but it is a reality.

I am glad to see the CDF finally release something more than one of their standard 2-3 page “green sheet” on a major accident investigation. As much as some of these things must sting to those involved, there are valuable training lessons here to be learned that would never have been brought to light. I wonder though if this was an intentional release, there is nothing official about internally from the Sacramento office about it. Go to the CDF website and find it if you can without the link provided on They Said It.

Questions or thoughts generated in my mind after a first time read:

  1. Was the DIVS local, state or federal? Does that matter? Maybe so.
  2. Was the CDF Captain an experienced hand that saw something inevitable coming and reacted deliberately (independent action vs free lancing) to it, knowing full well he was operating in a manner inconsistent with accepted risks for when things don’t work out (“Stud vs Pud”)?
  3. Why was the FC so adamant earlier about an aggressive tactical plan? Were things so stagnant that he felt he needed to take the world by the balls?
  4. Would he have acted this way with CDF resources around him? Would those resources have understood the situation differently? Would the captains on those resources “kicked his F@$%*&^ ass” for doing what he did or proposed to do?
  5. Did the local government people understand what they were seeing from the fire and what the fire effects were about to be from the main fire?
  6. Lawn chair syndrome (again) by local government and the party is on, we get to go on the road again yippee!
  7. No common communications between forces at a critical time when everyone needs to be on the same channel (or at least the DIVS and STL’s).
  8. It looks like the only guy who really sized up the whole thing was the El Cariso Supt-things got weird and he re-grouped.
  9. Did the Novato engineer listen to what the Novato captain was telling him to do?
  10. How can the Novato FF not have had a hose pack and yet there is a burned up pile of hose next to him. Somebody was trying to fight fire with more hose.
  11. Reaction time of the Novato crew vs rate of spread.
  12. Why was the engine spotted where it was in the first place-between the main head fire and the house? And how come it is the only thing that didn’t burn to the ground? If it didn’t burn then that means there was an opportunity for something else to not burn. Something isn’t adding up here at all.
  13. Could the engine have been parked down the driveway somewhere and hose laid back up the driveway?
  14. Why was the crew trying to force a door at a critical time and why were they doing from the fire side of the house? Did anyone look first to see if the doors were unlocked or open one first long before the fire got to them if they intended to stay? Why didn’t they run around the lee side of the house and get in there? No doors?
  15. Did they understand what the Captain and engineer were doing? Sounds like it was a parallel operation trying to hold back the inevitable.
  16. Why were the FIREFIGHTERS taking PICTURES on fire impinging on them instead of fighting fire, etc….
  17. Why do the agencies (state or fed) put local government resources in these positions during critical fire weather, fuels and behavior alone without agency resources? We don’t put private dozers alone any more for this very reason.
  18. There is NOTHING new that needs to be created in the training world to mitigate this incident. It all exists now. This should be the case study for the L-180 through L380 series. Perfect fit.
  19. Don’t burden us with more rules and restrictions as a result of this, most can see the problems here and will use this report to revisit them.

I feel for the FC, he has a long road of scorn ahead of him, but then again, it is all about choices (#2 above). In a way it’s kind of like driving drunk and somebody hits you. Well, maybe.

Sign me “Sad for those involved, but grateful for the information”

Links to the Novato Cedar Incident Report and the CDF Cedar Incident Report are on the Documents Worth Reading list on the Archives page and on the Site Map.

5/29 Lobotomy,
This is my recommendation for California stakeholders.

A Guide to the California Public Records Act


5/29 Lobotomy:

A quick search brought up a site with FAQ which stated that the FOIA itself is applicable only to the federal government. However, most states have their own versions of the act. Another search of the California Code of Regulations mentions a California Public Records Act, which is probably the animal you're looking for. How to use it, I don't know. A newspaper reporter is probably the best source to start for this activity. Good luck

5/29 Al,

Forest Service Apprentices sign a service agreement that states that
they will work for the federal government (they could work for the FS, the
IRS or any other Federal Agency) for three times the length of the training
period after completing the Program and conversion to a permanent position.
If they take a permanent job before completing the program the time starts
counting down when they start that job. The length of their training period
is between 2000 and 4000 hours, depending on how much experience they came
into the program with. I don't have the exact number here, but for each
year they work they are credited a little over 2000 hours. This means that
the length of the service agreement is between 3 and 6 years. People in
other programs, such as TFM also sign service agreements. If you would like
to look at the WFAP's service agreement it is posted on our web page, just
look under region 5 forms. (www.wfap.net/forms.phpl#r5)

5/29 Strider and yactak, the SAFENET system is a joke.

On 5/17/2004... SAFENET ID # 6CNVYZSAFE was entered into the system.

The SAFENET addresses some real time safety problems with the new shelters. Nearly two weeks later.... no action has been taken even though folks are fighting fires and not knowing if the new shelters have the handles to deploy them properly.

Since the implementation of the SAFENET system, there have been some good corrective actions taken.... but many corrective actions have been ignored due to budgets. Safety should never be reliant upon budgets.

I plan on contacting my Forest FMO tomorrow and letting him know about the problems that have been addressed on the SAFENET page and the problems that yactak talks about.. my fix would be to pull the shelters from the field as a recall since there is an obvious problem.

Rogue Rivers

P.S. - how do all the USDI folks love your new radios and the lack of action in replacing them with something that works?
5/29 SoCal EMT-FF,

Yes there are many risks in both firefighting and EMT work, but the question was about haz pay for stopping bleeding of a fellow fire fighter. Each incident and area are different and has to be taken into consideration. Maybe in Southern California getting someone to medical treatment is not as hard as it is here in Montana.

You spoke of All Risks, do you mean other then the blood, the fire, the terrain, and possible wind shifts? Believe me I can go on for awhile about other risks. It is nothing everybody does not already know.

If you really think about it you alone has to make a choice on that fire line if you are going to help stop the flow of blood from a severe injury. That is why I suggested to get a set of rubber gloves and gauze and put them in the day pack.

5/28 SteveM,

I think that I agree with you on the Captains responsibilities. If their head is in the dirt and spraying water... they are not protecting their crews.

About ten years ago, our district used to have Captains on the nozzle of a hoselay. District fire management changed that policy and said it was the responsibility of the Captain to lead and direct the safe operations of his or her crew.... not to be fighting fire and having his or her head down and concentrating on putting the wet stuff on the red stuff. It was probably the first time I can remember when situational awareness was being implemented as a district policy.... the intent was to limit the distractions so that situational awareness (we called it fire environment back then) can be focused upon by the module leader. Now, some old timers remain and the people who made that policy are now gone. The new captains are going back to the "captain on the nozzle" version.

5/28 Since it was not in the version of the CDF report I read, does anyone have a copy of the Cedar Fire IAP (Incident Action Plan) for the division on the day of the incident that shows the 27:1 span of control ratio?

I believe the entire report and documentation is over one thousand pages long and only 81 pages were released to the folks who need the info most. According to the report, the IAP is in Tab Sections 204,205; Item # 36,37.

Also, does anyone know if California is subject to the rules of the Freedom of Information Act or does it only apply to the federal agencies?

5/28 AB,

In reference to the recent Cedar Fire report, seems to me there is very
little question that those two rogue firemen from hell, put the fire on
the ground that killed Rucker. These men should be charged or
investigated or whatever it takes. CDF wouldn't say it but I will. There
can be no excuse for their actions that day assigned or unassigned. The
can be no excuse for a DIVS span of control to be 27 to 1, either.
I have to complain about SoCal County fftr's reference to a 'cowboy' FC.
That FC did not have an ounce of cowboy in him.

Take Care,
5/28 I think one problem all agencies have is that it's hard to terminate incompetent
people who put us at risk. As someone pointed out people who are incompetent
are incompetent at seeing their own incompetence. We need to show and tell them
and if they don't "get" it and change their behavior, fire them before they contribute
to killing someone. With all the HR and union involvement, it's all about
documenting documenting documenting the unprofessional situations so you can
show a pattern.

It is every leader's responsibility to give the tough feedback and demand training,
quals, OJT, and performance standards be met.

If you can't get it up the chain of command, file a SAFENET.


5/28 In CDF, here's the Fire Captain's (FC) duties

FC: an experienced and trained company officer and fire station manager. Well-qualified to train, mentor & and supervise groups of subordinates. Directs and oversees the emergency and non-emergency activities and duties of a fire company.

My-gawd. Why hasn't the cowboy FC on the Cedar Fire been terminated by CDF or at least stood down? Where's the discipline??? He was out of line running around doing what he was doing outside of the chain of command and it sounds like he doesn't have a clue. CDF must think his behavior is OK if they've done nothing. Are they afraid of having to bear some responsibility for Steve Rucker's death if they discipline him?

As an exercise, take the death out of the story, the FCs behavior is unacceptable.

SoCal County Firefighter

5/28 Music Man,

Good drop. We'll see if you know the next clip I send in.

Ab, as far as music, 12 bar blues tracks (preferably instrumental) work very well for the fire clips. It doesn't have to be a cover song, original music works fine. What has worked well is a long (12-15 minute) live jam with ups and downs, seems to match the tempo of the fire footage. The important thing is the "feel", thats why Blues works so well. Thanks to all who sent in suggestions for tracks, If I ever get time, i'll pick one out and add it.


5/28 More on the thread of Wildfire Smoke and Your Health: www.nmenv.state.nm.us

NM Firefighter

5/28 It's my understanding that someone who completes the Apprenticeship
Academy has to serve in the Forest Service for a certain amount of time
once they're done. Does anyone know what that timeframe is?

How about people being trained to meet IFPM standards? What are
their payback requirements? IFPM training is happening on a priority
basis with the highest up getting the education slots first?


5/28 Just tripping down memory lane and caught a link to some postings from '03 regarding "Just one more time"

As a retired rapper I got my just one more time dream (or at least close) During the 2003 fire season in British Columbia things got really heavy with many more lives and homes on the line than I had seen in all of my active years. Long story short a group of us old guys got a call from the service to recert and look after some rookies down on the coast where things were not quite as bad. Did not get any action just some public relations stuff and a few patrols.

Feeling depressed about the whole thing I got back into my normal routine just as the season was ending and on the drive home after a long business trip, there it was. A new start, it it was moving fast (after 4:00PM with a good wind) did not get a chance to rappel but spent a few hours on the ground, swinging and slinging and chocking on the smoke. Finished off the evening in a 212 as a spotter.

I would not give up the day reliving the past but sometimes I think it was a bad thing because it just got my blood pumping all over again, I guess this proves it 2 years later.


Keep your Pulaski sharp, your lid on and watch out for those FNGs.
5/28 Today, 5/28/05 is the last working day before the retirement of a special man.

Pat Boss, of the San Jacinto Ranger District, San Bernardino National Forest, will put in a full day today doing his best to serve the public and his fellow employees. He has done so for many years, starting in the early 60's as a seasonal firefighter on the very same district. He also served his community, Idyllwild in many valuable capacities over the years. One important one was to use his standing and trust in the community to reassure them that his employer, and colleagues had their best interest at heart in an aggressive prescribed burning program. He was instrumental in the success of this program and will be missed. (His program has become a model for the forest, in this regard.)

Pat also has had a huge impact in the wildland fire world, from providing the logistics to get hungry firefighters fed, to keeping local press informed, to being the Information Officer on a very active IMT. I am honored to have known and worked with him and wish to share his accomplishments with the Firefighting community at large.

An admirer.
5/28 To all that have responded about the 'proper' procedure for hose lays,

There is not any ONE proper procedure for a hose lay! Any one that tells you different does not know squat! Each fire, area, region, fuel type, situation requires a certain response. Firefighters are not cooks, that can NOT rely on a recipe, we are professionals that adapt to diverse and changing conditions on the fly! That is why they pay us the big bucks... hehe...

To AXE and Just Another Engine Guy:

I will assume that your comments are tongue in cheek. since they obviously show no recognition of reality what so ever.

Many of us engine folks in SoCal resisted the 'Captain, Battalion Chief, Division Chief' nomenclature, but have come to realize that in this complex interagency environment it is helpful, efficient and even necessary for a smooth and safe operation in our environment.

I would not presume to speak to what is best in your 'neck of the woods' but I have come to realize (reluctantly... kicking and screaming) that it works here.

Which brings us back to the hose lay thread....

What ever works best in a given situation is the way you should do it.


5/27 I just finished reading the CDF's final report on the Cedar Fire Fatality, and I have to say I am disappointed in CDF's lack of candor and guts to face the truth in this investigation. While the report makes clear that independent actions by two of its employees occurred to conduct uncoordinated firing, and identifies that the firing was lit so as to place the Novato firefighters between the main fire and the back fire, the report only finds these actions as secondary or contributing "minor" factors to the burnover. The report fails to condemn the utter inappropriateness of its employees conducting freelance firing, nor does it condemn the fact that they were unassigned to the fire yet directing and interacting with resources on the line without authority. These activities should have been listed as primary factors in this incident. The witness statements even indicate that the freelancers "badgered" the DIVS to get a chance to lay fire on the ground and never got authorization to do anything that they did. Other causal factors of less importance were also apparent and highlighted, but the fact that CDF took over a year and a half to publicly acknowledge this and then failed to clean up its own house is an insult to the memory of FAE Steve Rucker and all firefighters who place their lives on the California fireline. Shame!

Contract County Guy

CDF Cedar Incident Report, 05 (2749K pdf file)

5/27 GH,

Many firefighting agencies use what happened on the Lauder fire to illustrate important points in fire shelter
use and re-emphasize the benefits of wearing PPE. A review of Lauder is often included on annual refreshers.
If you look, you can find a MTDC study of the fire shelters used on that fire. The LA City Fire Department
has a section on the Lauder fire in its Brush Fire Operations Manual. Maybe you can ask someone to let
you look at that. Thanks to John for the bullet points.

Dennis Cullen's death and the injury to the other firefighters were some of our sad losses and injuries of the
'87 fire siege.


5/27 GH-

Lauder Fire Bullet Points (1987)
  • Loss of Life: One firefighter died in the deployment area.
  • Injuries: Several burned in the deployment area.
  • Situation:
    • Early morning start in the middle of the 1987 “siege”.
    • Two copters and fly crews dispatched with ground resources and fixed wing
    • The fire was situated in a basically E-W drainage.
    • The fire was making narrow strip runs from the valley floor to the
      ridgeline at @0700.
    • Fuel was old brushy logging re-growth with considerable heavy dead and
      down component.
  • Events:
    • Ground crews were flanking the fire with hose lays and hand lines.
    • The first fly crew got out on the ridgeline and was holding the ridge.
    • The second fly crew chose not to commit to the ridgeline and committed to
      the right flank supporting a direct hose lay attack. They were ahead of
      the hose lay punching a hole through the brush.
    • About 1000 hours the fly crew on the ridgeline asked if the lower fly
      crew could bump up to their location to provide support to the holding
      action. Airtankers were working the fire by this time.
    • The lower fly crew decided to advance ahead of the direct attack hose lay
      thinking they were over half way to the ridgeline.
  • What happened:
    • The fly crew trying to hike up hill through the brush found
      very tough travel in the heavy growth and down material. They were only
      about one-third of the way to the ridgeline.

A normal weather cycle that was not anticipated or identified caught the
crew. Since sun-up the fire aspect was in solar heating evidenced by the
perpendicular narrow strip runs on the S-SW slope. As the morning
progressed, the drainage started to develop normal up drainage air movement.
The right flank (E) was beginning to vector to the east with the air
movement. When the fly crew started up the hill they took a perpendicular
path looking for the shortest distance to the ridgeline. The fire made a
run with an up canyon vector that outflanked the fly crew putting them in a
head too wide and intense for them to relocate and escape based on their
inability to move rapidly.

This is a bare bones account. As with all fatality and near miss situations
there are always a myriad of contributing factors having causal or
contributing affects. This was not the “mother of all fires”, it was a very
normal wildland fire. Guards were down for a numbers of reasons.


5/27 For Kvtwitt A.K.A. Cracker

Here is the website for Wolf Pack: www.wolfpackgear.com/

We currently don't carry their gear, but always happy to help anyone find
what they want or need!

Jim Felix
5/27 We have two fires burning south of Phoenix:
the Verkol Fire near Stanfield (7000+ acres),
the Greene Fire 20 mi south of Casa Grande (1000+ acres).

We appreciate the air tanker support.



5/27 ATs we're glad you're back... Firefighting tools are GOOD.

Grounded forest air tanker fleet reactivated

Firefighting aircraft ready for duty in northeast Valley (AZ)

Scottsdale (AZ) lands wildfire tanker

Neptune Aviation Cleared for Takeoff (Missoula MT)


PS thanx Ab for making my links good

Yer welcome. Be safe. Ab.

5/27 AXE

Here is the rest of the problem, but going in the opposite direction......If the ENGB is much to important to help extinguish the fire, what about the ENOP? He must be too busy fiddling with all those knobs and watching those gauge things on the engine to help put out the fire.

That would leave the FFT1 and 0-3 FFT2s that may or may not be left to put out the fire. But wait.....The FFT1 would be way too busy supervising the 0-3 FFT2s that may or may not be left to put out the fire.

But wait....There is always the FFT2 who thinks they should be the FFT1 so that may or may not leave 0-2 FFT2s to put out the fire.

But wait...The 0-2 FFT2s that may or may not be left may or may not be rookies so they may or may not know how to put out the fire.

But wait.. that may or may not leave anyone to put out the fire.

Uhhh?? There was one?

Just Another Engine Guy
5/27 In regards to the IC on an Initial attack

I have worked for the Forest Service in 4 states (3 regions) the Park Service and the BLM over the last 14 years. All as an I.A. person.

The first resource on the scene is the I.C. If it is an engineer a van/truck with multiple people, the most qualified person is in charge. As more resources arrive it CAN be turned over to a higher qualified individual if the initial I.C. is not comfortable being in charge or if a supervisor of the initial I.C. tells them to turn it over.

There can be many reasons for them being told to turn it over, ranging from other commitments to taking care of their rookies to getting training opportunities.

The Dispatchers should NEVER be the I.C.!!! That just sends shivers down my spine.


5/27 Hi Ab(s)

With the upcoming season looming, I would hope that all of our firefighters on this board would remember to use a certain thing that we all have, in our jobs... our brains. You see, we had a "discussion," today a "mandatory, voluntary," one at that. It seems to me that some folks, apparently mostly those in higher level positions have lost touch with reality... and the day to day SOPs of our profession. We are getting bogged down by issues such as "can we go without shirts on P.T. runs... and do we look professional enough?" instead of focusing on issues such as critical, important training, and the necessity of being with our crew EVERY day at least the first two weeks of coming on. I would encourage all, not just those in R-5 but everywhere to focus on the important issues, our safety, our people, and our cohesion... apparently some do not believe these are important attributes to pursue as making sure the Forest Supervisor is "in touch," with their fire folks... Even though they do not even hold a firefighter 2 cert. Sign me...


5/27 Steve M -- On Captains Laying Hose.

Lol -- and here lies the problems. The Engine Boss
(or captain as you guys in So. Cal need to call them
-- I assume to make you feel better about your job),
is supervising 2-5 firefighters.

The ENGB is much to important to help extinguish the
fire. He must direct the hoselay, etc, talk to air
attach, dispatch, etc.

The STLE is supervising the ENGBs. The STLs can not
put out the fire either, because they have to relay
all of the information from the ENGBs to the DIVS.

The DIVS is way too busy making reports to the OSC2 (or
the branch director) and supervising the FOBS and the
IHCs to assist in putting out the fire. The DIVS also
has the big headache of dealing with the IR Tpye 1
Crews who want to be classified as IHCs, as well as
the ENGBs who want to continually do someone elses

5/26 Can anyone tell me what happened in the Lauder Fire in 1987? Were there LODD?


5/26 Re: CS's version of extended hoselay,

In many years of working with and around engines, I've never seen a scenario where the Captain has the responsibility to grab the live reel and start squirting water. It's my observation the captain is much too busy scouting and sizing up the fire, providing location and directions to other responders, communicating with dispatch, air attack, and the Duty FMO (who typically wants every little detail), directing the hoselay placement, looking for hazards, determining additional or fewer resources, not to mention putting little check marks on all those lists.

If the captain has their head down and dragging a hose, who is responsible for maintaining Situational Awareness?

5/26 Fire Weather outlook for tomorrow in the SouthWest. Heads up!



5/26 Brandy,
You are correct! I searched also by ID #, Date and agency.... to no avail!

I know the ID #, date and agency are correct as the original printout is sitting
right in front of me.

Nearest I can figure is that the Safenet "sanitizers" have not finished "sanitizing"
it yet.... Good to know that the agency political correctness police are protecting
us from ourselves!

Hopefully they will post it on the Safenet page soon as that is part of what I
thought the Safenet system was all about.... timeliness of info......

If it does not get posted soon we will submit the original version here........

In regards to the yactak question… Not Tibetan or Llama deep, LOL…

I have owned a couple of sit on top ocean kayaks for years…. Ocean fish out of them.
The common “kayak” speak for sneaking up on big, wary calico’s in the kelp or any
fish for that matter, is yaktak…. Shortened from “kayak attack”….

I just changed the spelling to protect the innocent (or because I can’t spell) to “yactak” ….
And now you know the rest of the story!

yactak (think big calico bass!)
5/26 Ab,

I've been lookin' everywhere online for wolfpack web gear.
Do you know if there is a website for this product?

Kvtwitt A.K.A. Cracker
5/26 Is the Cedar Fire Fatality Report the first report (besides
greensheets) that CDF has ever made available on the

I can't ever remember one.


5/26 Good News- P2V airtankers have been cleared for duty. As soon as pre-hire
inspections can be completed the aircraft will be available, doubling the
number of aircraft. That makes 15 large airtankers: 7 P2V's, 7 P3's, and
one DC-7 (Instrumented for airframe time life data collection). Still far,
far off the 40-odd LAT's number that used to be on contract.

The final factor was a calculation of the time life criteria on the air
frame, now set at 15,000 hours. DC- 4's, 6's, and 7's may become available
if there is a time life set on those airframes. Boeing, now the holder of
the Douglas Aircraft certificates, originally said that there isn't a
maximum airframe hour limit on the Douglas aircraft if maintained according
to the maintenance manual. The push is to create an airframe time life
number in order to have a retirement factor on the aircraft.


Thanks J. Ab.

5/26 Yactac (What does that stand for anyway... You like Tibet? You
attack yac's. Yac cowboy? Some kind of a yac breath mint? I do
not mean any disrespect, you're obviously a person with wisdom...
I prefer llamas or at least TX Longhorn cows!!)

[Oh yeah, now you probably won't answer me... My mouth
has gotten me in trouble before...]

My Q:
I can't find that safenet report. I get to the site and click on the ID
option, but search doesn't work for that ID number. Any
suggestions? I have read some interesting reports...


(Thanks Ab>)

5/26 R4 Helitack Guy

There's a difference between where I am and your remote area.

It's not about the flow of blood from a fellow firefighter that's
hazardous, it's all the other All Risk incidents we respond to.


5/26 Cris...

Thanks for answering that stumper of a question re: Hazard Pay for Bleeding. I was pondering a response but decided not to go there lol. As for dispatchers assuming the role of IC on IA make me wonder how that could happen since the average disptcher doesn't have eyes on the situation, I don't know but being dumbass from the backwoods here it seems to me that the way its done around here where the first arriving crew boss, engine boss ect is the initial IC seems to be the way to approach the IC delema. The dispatchers here just order up additional resources and co-ordinate those resources after the size up from the IC.

Just A Pondering Thought
R4 Helitack Guy
5/26 Mountaineers Fire Crew is recruiting firefighters, sawyers, squad bosses, and crewbosses for a Type 2 IA Handcrew. They even have a training session with openings available coming up very soon, so'd best hurry if you are interested. See their advertisement on the Jobs Page. Ab.
5/26 Just some closing comments on my questions:

The question about hazard pay for medical emergencies was evidently extensively
discussed in chat last night. (I wasn't there.) Maybe there will be more of that tonight.
(I can't be there, except maybe late...) (Thanks for the email from someone
who was there.)

A second topic last night had to do with training required to be an instructor.

I also heard EMT Scotty popped in from Iraq. Our best to you Scotty. Thanks
for your service, Dude. Be safe.

My question about dispatchers and ICs came up because of an informal break
discussion about outsourcing and whether dispatching as a fire function is
essentially governmental or not. In my estimation, it is. Dispatchers have some
very heavy responsibilities, especially during IA. I can remember having a heavy
discussion with an A-76 specialist couple years ago and trying to describe what
dispatchers did, why it took fire knowledge and how there could be a conflict
of interest if the function was contracted out.


5/26 From Firescribe:

Federal Agencies' Aerial Resources Are Ready for 2005 Fire Season (press release)
Preliminary results of a study on P2V airtankers show that they can be used in the upcoming fire season.

5/26 During an Interagency Wildland Urban Interface Drill recently conducted in Central California which twenty agencies participated in, quite a few issues were raised concerning the new fire shelter.

Fire shelter drills were conducted at one of the field drill "stations" with a proctor on site.

The concerns, issues and problems discovered were submitted to the SAFENET system. The Safenet ID number assigned to the safenet is 6CQQR2SAFE.


SAFENET link is on the Links page under safety. Ab.

5/26 Mellie,

I have not heard of regular firefighters being paid hazard duty to stop the flow of blood from a fellow fire fighter. There are EMT's on the fire line, but in case one is not near you and the bleeding needs to be stopped here's a suggestion. Get yourself a couple of sets of BSI, or better known as rubber gloves they do not cost much and do not weight alot. Also some 4x4 gauze pads work wonders too. Remember, pressure and elevation.

5/26 Regarding my questions yesterday:

I have just heard that anyone being paid Hazard Pay for an emergency medical firefighter response is an urban legend. It doesn't happen, even in socal.

Regarding my question about dispatchers being de facto ICs on IA. That is the policy for CDF, but not for the Forest Service. The FS duty officer has the responsibility of IC until someone gets on site. The dispatchers check with the duty officer. Even so, the dispatcher function of ordering resources is essentially governmental.


5/26 Re music on the video clip:


That would be
Led Zeppelin,
Dazed and Confused,
The Song Remains the Same-Soundtrack, for the Peak Fire clip.

Music Man

5/26 Hi,

I wanted to drop a quick note to your bulletin board to let you know I
appreciate all of the support and concern that was shown here for my
daughter Gina. I just recently learned of this site and would have posted
sooner would I have known. Gina was a real bright spot in my life and the
lives of others and God knows she is going to be missed intensely. She also
lived for the summer fire crew experience and after 4 years of working on
engine crews and going out on Type II pick-up crews for off-Forest
assignments, she had landed her dream job with the Union IHC. I truly
thank Dan Fiorito for giving her the chance to rookie with him. I so wish
she were there right now doing the runs and push-ups to make the cut. She
had trained very hard for the past couple months and had showed me her
progress charts almost every day. I can proudly say she was a real hard
body and know she would have made the cut. Anyway, I saw a request for a
photo to post and am sending a couple that were taken last year while she was
working on the Ochoco NF engine 3169 crew. Thank you again, fire community,
for the support you have shown and have a safe summer.

Dave Zalunardo

Gina with Saw & Gina's Smile
She is missed. Our best wishes to your family. Ab.

5/26 Hoselays--

To curious FF,

The #1 FF sitting behind the driver gets out, puts the chalk down, puts on a gazner and hooks up the engine. The captain gets out, puts on his gear, grabs the live rail, and starts fighting fire for the first 100 feet. The # 2 ff and the #3 ff grabs 2 gazners each and a tool each. The #1 FF deploys his gazner pack, has the trunk charged, charges his 1 in. and fights fire for 100 ft. The #2 FF gives his tool to the captain, drops 1 gazner for the #1 FF at the wye. The #2 FF hooks up his #2's pack. The #2 ff deploys his remaining pack, calls for water. The #1 FF charges the trunk. The #2 ff charges his 1 in. and fights fire for 100 ft. The #3 ff drops his tool, and drops one gazner pack for the #2 ff. The #3 ff hooks up his pack. The #3 FF deploys his remaining pack, calls for water and fights fire for 100 ft. The #1 FF passes the #2 FF that is waiting at the wye to be charged. After the #3 ff fights fire for 100ft., he returns to the engine for 2 more gazners packs and a tool. #1 hooks up his gazner pack to the end of #3's trunk. #2 moves up to the next wye and when #1 is ready for the trunk to be charged, #2 ff then charges the trunk. #1 then fights fire for 100ft and returns to the engine for 2 gazners and a tool. #2 ff hooks up a gazner pack, deploys it and hopefully #3 makes it back in time to charge his line. The further out you get, the more you have to improvise for fatigue and lag time.

Also, I wondered if anybody knows the status of the 26-0 upgrade for GS-6s?
Thanks, in advance.

5/26 Ab,

Wow. The CDF report is refreshingly different from other recent investigations. There is no recitation of the 10 & 18 or LCES, although the reader can easily spot their respective violation, non-mitigation and absence in the abundance of detailed facts. Not only are the names of individuals involved un-redacted, the F-word even appears in a quote on page 32, in the context of firefighters sitting in lawnchairs.

If anyone is looking for a case study on freelancing and firing operations, this is it.

As for lessons learned, I pulled out my radio chest harness this morning. Sure enough, the nylon straps easily ignite with a match and self-sustain burning. (The Novato captain lost his Bendix King while trying to help Rucker.) Does anyone make a leather chest harness?

We may have a new structural watch-out in this sentence (from page 62, similar to page 9):

"In order to avoid scratching the paint on Engine 6162, the driveway at 920 Orchard Lane needed to be brushed in order to back the engine up the driveway."

Thanks to CDF for publishing the good, bad, and ugly of this report.

vfd cap'n

5/25 Hey All, I have a couple of questions:

Today at the Six Rivers All Fire Meeting, Spanky and our Gang (of Engine Captains) wanted to know if anyone knew a reference or policy that states that firefighters responding to medical emergencies should get hazard pay. Anyone got that ref? Our guys aren't getting paid that. I'm sure one of you socal folks have the answer... Blood on hands. Sounds like a hazard to me!

Okey dokey artichoke.
How about, where is it written that dispatchers are the ICs until the first firefighter arrives on the scene? Somebody said it might be in the old Fireman's Handbook. (Am I old enough to have that RobMac? Does it go by another name?)
Thanks to our dispatchers. We couldn't do it without ya! (We were told that ICs should remember to keep their dispatchers up to speed. They can help immeasurably if you have a plan and they're clear on your commander's intent.)

I think there were other questions or comments, but need a bit to think of them...

Oh, and excellent job! Some Six Rivers NF Firefighter of the Year Awards - We're proud of you!
Jay Dillon our dozer guy from Mad River RD
Mike Gibbons from Ukonom RD
Jesse Knox from Lower Trinity RD
Paul Zurr from Smith River NRA

Oh yeah, thanks to Mad River Crew 4 for signing up for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation 52 Club. Awesome! I'll have to go see if any other crews are on the 52 Gold list.


5/25 Dear Ab,
I just received a call from someone in the Oregon Dept. of Forestry wanting to
know how to send flowers for Family Day to be placed at a fallen firefighter's
marker at NIFC.

I just wanted to share this wonderful idea, if any others want to send flowers.

Call the Boise Best ( Flower Shop) at 208-342-4885
You can have Boise Best send them here to the Foundation at
2049 Airport Way,
Boise ID83705
and we will take them over and place them at the person's marker.

Vicki Minor

5/25 Latest Cedar report is at:

www.novatofire.org/cedar.pdf (link doesn't work; see Ab note below)

Aerial view using google maps, looks to be post-burn but hard to tell. Zooming in and lets you try and draw some conclusions.


The large map from ESRI shows that the fatality area was the nearly the very last edge of the fire.


Hope people can and will take lessons from this. . .


Here's the report that was posted on the Novato FD server. Novato FD Cedar Report (5895K, 90 pages, very large). All of us linking to it last year may have overloaded their system. Ab.

5/25 Here is the link to the CDF Cedar Fire Fatality Report, it's large and takes a little while to load:

www.fire.ca.gov/php/fire_er_content/downloads/CSAR2%20_05.pdf (2749K, 81 pages with photos)

It is very sad because it appears somebody was a little overzealous with the firing and somebody else overestimated their ability to protect an unsaveable home. We can all learn from reading this report........

Alann Smithee

I also posted it here in case the CDF server gets overloaded or the report is removed. CDF Cedar Incident Report, 05. Ab.

5/25 Redding IHC move and possible rename,

I feel that if they do rename them they should be named "McClellan IHC"


5/25 We're very pleased to announce that we have a new sponsor for the Links Page -- Thielson Wildland Firefighting Equipment -- another good company with line and EMS gear, etc for the wildland firefighter. Check out their banner and their website.


5/25 HC:

I go out as a single resource, through my department, if that is what you are looking for.
My department does only structural protection assignments, but I go out with other
departments and resources, if that is what you are looking for.

5/25 For those who fought the Cedar fire and for those who didn't, here's a good description of what it was like:

Fighting the Biggest Fire in CA History
Notes from the Cedar Fire
by Colin Wilson

I would like to see the Cedar Fire Incident report.


5/25 Ab, I just found this site, so help me if I don't get this right.

Wildland Firefighter Foundation, thanks for giving a wildland firefighter
statue to Steve Rucker's parents. You do so much to heal the hurt.


Resident, you did that just right. Here's another picture from last year. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation rep presenting the bronze statue to members of the Novato Fire Department Station. Ab.

5/25 Bob,

Sorry for the delay in my response to your question. What did I mean to "take it to the field this summer?" Where do I begin.....?

Historically we train our new firefighters in the skills needed to fight in the wildland arena. We lecture on fire behavior in relation to fuels and weather and topography and then send them on their merry way. All after a week or two of training. Then they do their best to learn as they go, getting as much experience as they can as the fire seasons allow, adding to their mental slide tray.

In the paid structure fire arena, new firefighters generally have a fire academy lasting anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks before they even set foot on an engine. Generally that training is followed by another year of probationary time which allows the new firefighter to accumulate some of that experience and add to their training. Quite a contrast - and yet we kill plenty of structure firefighters each year as well.

What we fail to do in both circumstances is to talk about the most important yet most unpredictable factor (including weather) in firefighting. The human factor. It wasn't a lack of physical skill that killed the firefighters in Mann Gulch or Cramer or any of the many fatal fires in between. It was, in my humble opinion, the huge disparity in individual experience and the ability to recognize a developing situation that lead to many of these deaths. Add to that the complex dynamic of group interaction and it can spell disaster. Author Laurence Gonzales pointed out in his book Deep Survival “Only 10-20% of people can stay calm and think in the midst of a survival emergency. They are the ones who can perceive their situation clearly; they can plan and take correct action, all of which are key elements of survival. Confronted with a changing environment, they rapidly adapt.” However, as Kelly Close has pointed out, a statement such as Stay Alert, keep calm, think clearly, act decisively expects 100% of our wildland firefighters to stay calm and think in the midst of these survival emergencies.

So what am I proposing we take to the field? Situational awareness, but not just in what the fire environment is doing. What is the person next to you thinking when things get dicey? What's the crew you were counting on for support thinking / doing when a 60 foot wall of flame is headed towards their position? What are you going to do when the s**t hits the fan? Remember, your comfort level is not necessarily that of your crew or other resources around you. You can't make them feel more comfortable or knowledgeable about a situation anymore than they can do so to you. Be aware of this dynamic over the summer. Communicate. And take note of what goes right on the fires you're on. We can learn just as much, if not more, from these fires than the fatal fires we tend to concentrate on.

I think it's obvious we're not going to get the support we need from the top, so this amounts to a grass roots effort to make changes in the way we do business. In the field - both firefighters and managers alike. We know we don't need more acronyms. We don't need more rules (did you know there have been more than 170 new policies created by the feds since South Canyon?). And I'm not saying more training is the answer....though some additional training might help. With shortages in seasonal help every year, I know this isn't popular. But neither is loosing our friends, brothers and sisters on the fire line. Within my own department, I'm proposing an extension to our S130/190 course to include not only the integrated leadership training but in-depth case studies of fatality fires. These are intelligent people coming into the realm of fire. They deserve the opportunity to learn from these fires just as much as you and I. They may even be the ones to help answer the disturbing question of why we keep killing firefighters the same way, time after time.

I know I'm not giving you much in the way of a concrete answer Bob. But that's because this is nothing like teaching someone how to dig line. That's easy. Teaching them to ask questions, be aware of the personnel environment around them and acknowledge the differences between experience levels on a fire is touchy-feely stuff. And we're not so good at that, are we? Help me come up with the answers, all of you.

Mellie, thank you for highlighting some of Kelly Close's material. I know people are reading these postings....we've got to keep the subject in people's minds. And thank you all for letting me rant. Be safe.

Uncle Stick
5/25 Recently we've had a few folks trying to register for the Hot List whose email accounts will refuse all email from anyone who isn't already on a list of "accepted users".  It's fine with me if some folks chose to use that method of filtering their email.  However, we here at the WLF are too busy to personally answer your automated rejection messages.  If this issue if affecting you, please read the newly updated www.wildlandfire.com/news/policy.php.

Thanks, and thanks to all those busy dispatchers and others keeping us up to date!

Original Ab.

5/25 Rucker's death


Someone has to get blamned...


Is the report online anywhere? The CDF spokesman apparently says no comment, the report stands on its own. That may be well and good as a response to the Public, but are trainers folding this incident into "Lessons Learned" for firefighters? On interface fires, we need those lessons learned. Ab.

5/25 Oliver:

Well, you guessed the watershed.....there goes some of my anonymity but
thats alright lol.

Besides USFS and ODF, the Water Bureau's Sandy River Station Crew (the crew
that actually maintains the roads, trails and other infastructure in the
watershed) is trained for Wildland Fire and has responded to and fought
fires in the past. We actually have two large fire engines (regular city
engines, don't know what type they are considered) that they and the
Operating Engineers use to fight fires.

When the two tiny fires that we had last year ignited, I was dispatching
and did my best to coordinate our response with USFS and ODF. We sent one
engine to the scene along with a hand crew and perimeter security for that
area of the Watershed.

While the Water Bureau doesn't have a statutory obligation to fight fires,
we do anyway because we are in alot of trouble if a fire errodes water
quality or shuts down production. Its also the same with security and law
enforcement for Bull Run. We provide it because we can't afford something
happening (that and we NEVER see USFS law enforcement, or the CCSO deputies
that we pay for...)

Anyway, hope that helps with the info you were after.....


5/25 AL:

Although the current regulations require 100' of clearance, CDF policy for this season is to inspect and cite only for the first 30', i.e., if that much is cleared, the property is okayed. However, on the form we use for the inspection, a notice is made of the new regulation so that next year, everyone will be fully aware that at least 100' clearance is required. At least, that's the way it is in the central California units.

5/25 AL, here's the info on the California law.....

SB 1369


This law, which modifies existing law, requires persons subject to fire hazards (described in the statute) to remove all brush, flammable vegetation, or combustible growth that is located within 100 feet from the occupied dwelling or occupied structure, or building or structure, as applicable, or to the property line, or at a greater distance if required by state law, or local ordinance, rule, or regulation.

The law authorizes the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to authorize the removal of vegetation not consistent with these and related requirements. The law also authorizes the Director to place a lien on the building, structure, or grounds for the expense of the removal of that vegetation, as specified.

Additionally, the law requires a special certification upon new construction or rebuilding of an occupied dwelling or occupied structure damaged by fire in a very high fire hazard severity zone to be presented to the insurer providing the construction insurance coverage.


5/25 I want some input on how different engine companies perform their progressive hoselays. We are running Gansner Packs and have been having some discussion about who does what. What roles are the firefighters taking on? We number our seats, 1-2-3 and have each FF do a specific task. Also, I was curious to how different crews are deploying them. Does the first person with the live reel deploy their pack first, or is another firefighter supposed to take on that job?

I am just curious because I know from experience that all crews are different and I wanted to find out which way seems to work the best.

Thanks---Curious FF
5/25 CDF is in transition from the required 30' clearance to the 100'. This year
you will be RECOMMENDED to clear to 100' but not required, next the 100'
rule will be enforced.

5/25 Re: Defensible Space in California. New law as of Sept 2004.


5/25 the space around the home is 100' or to the property line
5/24 Anybody know what is the amount of space CA residents must keep
clear around their homes? Used to be 30'. Is it now officially 100?


5/24 From Firescribe:

Rucker's death led to new precautions
Steve Rucker died in the 2003 firestorm in SoCal, the Cedar Fire.

5/24 Dwight, need a little more information before I can hand out any advice.

Who currently provides protection to the watershed? Local Fire Department, State, USFS or mixture of all three? Municipal lands outside of a city are generally protected by a wildland agency, a fire district or both.

Dwight said:

"At the same time, we were just told that most likely we will not do any fire fighting at all if there is a fire in our area of responsibility, that we would be there too back up our "real" firefighting crew and most likely be providing scene security."

Who are the real firefighting crews you would be backing up or providing security to? Does your municipal water department have firefighting crews? If so does the water department have an Incident Qualification System and are they signers to any agreements with a wildland agency? You used the word "our" firefighting crew so I'm a little confused about the water departments role in wildland fire suppression. If this is the Bull Run watershed the only agencies that have wildland fire suppression responsibilities are ODF, USFS and the local fire department provides protection to improvements within the watershed.


5/24 Hi,

Seriously, for the helitack soundtrack it would have to be
"Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns n Roses.

Not so seriously, Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" the part
where Elmer Fud is being chased down by the electric razor
that Bugs Bunny has hypnotized.

Just took the S-212 class, good time of year to do it, Morels
all around, watch your backcut with those hollow trunks.

Quit raining in R6!!!

5/24 Ok, I know this has been hashed out before, but....

I'd like to talk to someone who is a single resource
(individual) who is on some type of agreement OTHER
than AD. So, if you are on an EERA, Cooperator,
Personal Services Contract, Etc., and you have the
time, I'd like to talk to you about this item.

Thank You.


Please ask ab to forward on the email/give you my
address. (Thanks ab!)

5/24 TP,

My first choice would be Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.
Second choice would be Metallica... Fuel for Fire.


5/24 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.

Readers, please note that we have a new sponsor for theysaid - The Supply Cache. Jim Felix was our earliest and has been our website's staunchest supporter throughout the years. Since we began offering classified ads and banners to help cover costs at theysaid, he's been there with his business. His banner has been on the Links page since "Day One" of banner sponsorships. He's also on the Board at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. I know he believes in the wildland firefighter community, professionalism, networking, connectivity. He walks the walk. Jim, the firefighter and businessman, is a class act, folks. Jim, we appreciate you. Thanks for all you do. The Abs.

5/24 Dwight,

In response to your post on getting into fire, I have only the limited amount of knowledge to what you can do but I thought that I would give you my 2 cents. You may want to talk to the people in charge of fire protection in the area and even more so to the actual ground pounders that actually work on the ground. I assume that it is the forest service since you mention it in your post. Go to the district office and they can direct you a little better. They may be able to assist you in getting the training that you want and possibly help get you on the line as a fire fighter. They would probably also get you into a meeting with the Overhead and see where you can go from there.

hope it helps
5/24 Dwight911,

I run a crew out of Eastern WA. and have run into quite a few folks from
the Hanford Fire Dept. on fires. You may check with them for employment.

5/24 Hello Ab:

I work for a large municipality in the Northwest. I perform non-sworn patrol duties for the municipal water department, and part of my patrol area is a large watershed located out of town and that is closed to the public. Some of my co-workers and I that patrol the watershed regularly have been selected for Wildland Firefighting training.

I have worked in law enforcement, and have alot of training in allied public safety disciplines, including Hazmat and medical first responder, but I've never had a single class in firefighting of any type, and never really had an interested in it - until now. Now, after doing some reading and spending a good part of the day on your website, I am very intrigued with the thought of Wildland Firefighting.

At the same time, we were just told that most likely we will not do any fire fighting at all if there is a fire in our area of responsibility, that we would be there too back up our "real" firefighting crew and most likely be providing scene security.

While I understand that that function needs to be carried out, and that we are the logical people to do it, I still want to fight the fire! I've never in my life been interested in this line of work, and I know very little about it other than what I've read on this website today.

Here is my problem - I make decent money and have good benefits with the city. I looked at the Forest Service fire jobs and saw that even the "permanent" positions were all seasonal...... and I have a family. The city fire department doesn't get involved with wildland firefighting hardly at all, so that is not a good option.

So....if I want to pursue this further than what little I'll be doing for the city, I'll most likely have to go elsewhere.....I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions they might be willing to share with me.

I have a TON of allied training, but none is in firefighting. I've been through the entire ICS series and am close to completing a degree in Emergency Management. My interest is more being involved in operations and NOT in management.....

Any suggestions or advice anyone could offer I would greatly appreciate.


5/24 TP, for music...

Joe Satriani; Anything off the "Surfin' with the Alien" album.

Stay safe,


TP, if we could find one or more bands willing to do a legal "cover" of some songs to go with video fire clips, which songs would we want? How long should they be? Ab.

5/23 Our mountain community in the foothills west of Denver, Colorado was directly affected by 5 major forest fires in 2002, including the LARGEST fire, Hayman, which ever hit the state of Colorado.

Part of the response to that year is described at www.theflume.com/ in the article titled "Fire fake, training real".

Additional responses have been the formation of Mountain Communities Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (www.mcvoad.org) and DSV - Disaster Support Volunteers Inc. (www.disastersupportvolunteers.com).

Perhaps this information may be of interest to readers of They Said It, and maybe they could give us some tips to help us become better prepared. I think information regarding what others are doing is always helpful.

Thank You for all the great information!

5/23 Still Out There As An AD,

Gotta love the "Lions Gate IHC" new name idea! hahaha...ahh
good times at that place when you're doing training in Sac.

5/23 Just stumbled on this today, while surfing, thought folks my take interest.


I especially got a kick out of the attachment about the perceived Fire Behavior qualifications...

That and much more in the report should be food for thought.

5/23 I bought a new computer last night, I did most of the deal online, but had some questions so I called the 800 number. The women was efficient and helpful as most of us expect. What I did not expect was when casual conversation about my occupation led her to tell me that her brother died in the tragic van accident that occurred last year involving a contract crew on the way home from a fire. I was struck by the personal trauma of this (and other incidents) and cared less about my aversion to the idea of contract crews and more about the personal loss. I expressed my concern for her loss and she responded that the support of the wildland community at large had been tremendous, and that she named her son (born within days of the incident) after her brother, and said all things happen for a reason.

I am still not sure why I am relating this, but it had an impact on me. I guess it personalized it.

Many of the other incidents have also had a huge impact on me, but I guess this is one that I wrote off to a reckless contractor. That may still be the case, but it does not change the fact that a bunch of fellow firefighters lost their lives.

Just Ranting (and chastising myself)

Glad you've seen the light. Who among us hasn't made a mistake from time to time. Most of us have just been lucky enough not to pay the ultimate price. I appreciate it that you share your self-chastisement. There is nothing like putting a human face on tragedy to change perceptions. Ab.

5/23 Dear Ab,

Just a quick up-date to the wildland fire community... from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation... We're very busy.

PSOB and Rx fire deaths:
When I was in Washington D.C. last month, I met with the Department of Justice folks and they affirmed to me that PSOB will cover federal wildland firefighter deaths that occurred during prescribed burns. Each case is different and has different levels of verification to go through, but all are likely eligible. Rick Lupe's survivors have received their benefits, so it is looking good for other families whose firefighter died during a Rx burn.

Injured Firefighter in North Dakota Burnover:
Mark Keller is still in the burn center in St. Paul, Minnesota. He and two others were burned in a grass fire in North Dakota last month. His wife is still at his side and sends her thanks to those who have joined the 52 CLUB. The Foundation is paying for her motel expenses and she is thankful for the love and financial and other support from all of you.

Wildland Firefighter Family Day:
We are hosting the first Wildland Firefighter Family Day on Memorial Day for our fallen firefighter families.

Here's how we anticipate the day will go... Our day will begin with registration at 10:30 am - coffee and greetings. At 11:00 the Honor Guard will open with a flag presentation. What is so wonderful is that these families will have some time to spend with the Honor Guard who answered the call to service when they lost their firefighter.

Dr. Bonnie Vestal will make a presentation. We will have a powerpoint in which the fallen firefighters' pictures will be shown one-by-one. The families will rise and be recognized when their loved one's picture is shown, so the other families attending can see who each person belongs to, who they lost, and whose life they celebrate. There will be a simple candle lighting ceremony. We'll have pictures of each family's firefighter engraved on metal dog tags for them to take home. Some volunteers are coming to help the kids make t-shirts with their loved one's picture on it and printmakers will assist them in designing what they'd like to create.

We're having a barbeque. Some of the dads are doing the cooking. We'll have buckets of flowers for the families. At 1:00 we'll go to the monument at NIFC where the Honor Guard and volunteers from NIFC will orient, tour with and share with the  families. White doves will be released at the waterfall. The Boise Smokejumpers will be taking families on a tour of the smokejumper base. We want to thank the NIFC directors who have been so supportive of the family day arrangements.

We're having an evening campfire for the families who want to stay, eat up the leftovers and grow closer with each other. The National Firefighter Foundation is providing Cathy Henderson to us. She lost her son who was a structure firefighter and she attended the first family event in Emmetsburg. Now she is working for the National Firefighters Foundation. We so appreciate her help.

It has been very humbling to interact with these families. Our commitment is to providing a place for reverence, honor and dignity for our families of fallen wildland firefighters, a place where they can get to know each other and network with each other, and a place where they can truly know that they belong to and will always be a part of our wildland fire community.

I would hope that any of you who read this who have not yet joined the 52 CLUB will join. For $1.00 a week, for 52 weeks - an annual donation of $52.00 - we can make a difference in firefighters' and their families' lives.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks, Vicki for being this community's support net. We don't know what we'd do without you and your wonderful crew. Readers, please join us in sending in your donations or donating by joining the 52 Club. Donations are needed so our safety net, the Foundation, can continue to provide support to our fire families. The Abs.

5/23 Lobotomy - just curious: the studies that you mention, do they give a breakout
of wildland vs. structural firefighters, or just "lump" everyone together?

5/23 Abs,

The Great Basin Chapter of National Wildfire Suppression Association will be conducting NWCG S-131 squad boss ($50), S-212 power saws ($150) and L-280 ($100) followership to leadership at Lowry High School in Winnemucca the entire week of June 13. The course is open to all who meet prerequisites. Preregistration is required. I will be the instructor. Contact E.C. Cates at 775-623-0695.

Targhee Fire Services
Idaho Falls
5/23 From Firescribe:

NIFC managers' move (to DC) put on hold

Mill Valley CA prepares for the worst
good drill to have, brings home the fire-prone reality of the interface

5/23 Abs,

I don't know when the term "Pickle" was applied to the Redding crew. However, I do know that the green shirts go back at least 34 years to Charlie Caldwell. As a member of the 1971 Northern California Hotshot Crew (pre Redding) we had green T shirts. That may have been the first year for them. I'm not sure.

There is a lot of tradition that will go along with the move to Sacramento, if it occurs.

A 1971 Northern California Hotshot

Redding IHC

5/23 Shots Name

I hate to admit it, but the first two names that came to my mind for the Redding IHC in
Sacto were Valley Girls or Arnold's Angels. OK, OK, it's a different valley so perhaps
"Great Valley IHC" would work. I like the sound of Lions Gate, but I don't know the

Still Out There As An AD

Lions Gate Hotel is the name of the hotel on the former McClellan air base, now business park. There's also a fairly obscure Lion's Gate Inn at the former Mather air base. I imagine both those places rocked and rolled - roared - to the sound of airplane engines/jets in their time. For more info google it. Ab.

5/23 Gimpy,

You bring up two excellent points.

The first point is that you are correct in regards to lung cancer in firefighters. Most studies show that firefighters are not at higher risk for lung cancer. Many of those same studies do show that firefighters are at higher risk for brain cancer, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, malignant melanomas, and various others.

Your second point is also a good one. There should be some studies about the mechanical damage we do to our bodies being wildland firefighters. The long hours of hiking, running, digging line, and carrying heavy loads over a 20+ year career should considered for study.

5/23 ashamed to sign: <grins> for shame! Aldabertos has same menu as newer Carolina's & Beto's - y'all will recognize them by their red & white paint - they offer huge, freshly made $3 machacha burritos. *L* add cheese.

one more Sacto hotshot name suggestion; jazzy 'mater (GROAN)

Gimpy: (cough, puff puff) ortho MDs, ummm wonder if any read this website since so many are operating on our joints.

Seriously, AZ, southern NV & SE CA are beginning to smoke. gear up & stay safe y'all

5/22 Wildland Firefighter Foundation is now on their new website. It's a nice one.

Readers update your bookmarks!

It's just plain old www.wffoundation.org/.


5/22 When I click on the WFF web ribbon on your index page, it's not working.
Not available. Have they changed address recently? I just looked at
it a few days ago and it worked fine. Maybe others are having the
same problem.

Thanks, Pattie

We've gotten several inquiries like yours, Pattie. The Foundation website is being recreated. My guess is that it's being transferred, but the server may just be down. I'm sure we'll get an update soon. Ab.

5/22 TP,

I think that's a great idea to donate proceeds to the WFF from your fire footage.
I have shown your work to other fire and non-fire persons and they all are impressed
with your work and ask how they can obtain copies. Hope the idea takes off and
receives community support.

5/22 Ab,

This 40 second clip from a fire on the Plumas last year has a catchy tune.. thanks to all of you for the suggestions for the rappel clip, can anyone guess the artist, title and album for this one? all of these clips are excerpts from footage I've shot over the last three years, I have around twenty hours total. Mostly for an agency project, but I make a music video for the crew and we watch it at our end of the season party. I would love to make a compilation and set it all to music, maybe sell them and donate the proceeds to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation? The only problem is copyright for music. If there are any musicians out there willing to jam something up for me I'd be willing to collaborate, any takers? hope you enjoy,

Peak (.wmv file, requires windows media player)


Nice one! Also sounds like a worthy project to benefit our great firefighter support organization. Musicians anyone?Ab.

5/22 Reading some of the posts about wildland firefighters and risks for cancer. Personally I don’t know many old time wildland firefighters who have lung cancer and did not smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a day while mopping up smoky white fir stump holes.

I do, however, know a whole lot of folks out there with bad knees, hips, shoulders, backs and numbness in the hands from hiking thousands and digging hundreds of miles of line. Pounding rocks with a “P” and running saw for several years could give you a good case of carpal tunnel. Ya think?? Don’t hear many folks our there wanting to study our joints.

Any doctors out there need a project?

5/22 TP,

My vote for music for the AG video also goes to Steppenwolf.......
either Magic Carpet Ride or Born to be Wild......

5/21 AG video music suggestions:

The Bug, Dire Straits, killer guitar and beat. Actually anything instrumental
with a strong rocking guitar sound would also be way cool.

I Can't Get No Satisfaction, The Doors?

All Along the Watchtower, Hendrix?


5/21 I don't know how it is, all around those of us in central MT, but it sure scares the pants off of you when a 250 acre CRP fire gets going and running in all four different directions. Especially when it happens 3 days after it had snowed, just a dusting on the ground. That was our wake up call. Nobody and nothing was ready. So who was ready February 23, 2005? Anybody else nervous out there?

5/21 ARIZONA, season severity:

Arizona has been heating up steadily since early April. Although we have gotten lots of rain diminishing some of the drought, we now have an over-abundance of fine fuels. As a result, we are seeing very active desert fires. The rains may have delayed the higher elevation fires, but it seems we are going to be very active in the desrt this year. This also increases our interface threat. We have already seen this increase. As a result, we are getting air attack and SEATs going early, which is paying off. I know on my engine, we are geting new starts every day.

5/21 We're concerned here in Southern NV. All we need are ignitions... hopefully not human caused...
Fire restriction in effect

Also concerns in Reno area.
Wet winter in northern Nevada has fire officials worried


5/21 Anyone have any current opinions on the severity of this fire season?

Fire Danger Map
Fire Potential Map
Drought Monitor Map

Hot List showed a start in AZ with use of ATs. There have been starts in SoCal...


5/21 Todd,
Hmmm....They are gonna be at McClellen, right?
I vote for "Lions Gate Hotshots"

Jim Felix,
Thanks for the clarification. I don't think that a lot of folks realize their buckles are
up for sale to the public. Just thought I'd let 'em know.....

5/21 Regarding the proposed name change for Redding IHC if they move.... how about Golden State IHC?

Redding Hotshots in Sacramento sounds too much like the controversy surrounding the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim....

5/21 AG video music...

Jump by the Pointer Sisters?

Tahoe Terrie
5/21 Wordsmiths & jokesters:
any wildland fire crew soon to be based in Sacramento (Sacra-tomato) gotta be renamed some variation/take off on tomato land.
umm, fog & smog, or maybe traffic Jam? or maybe the "Fiddlers" since Sac has long claimed to be the western dixieland capital. play nice, call them the Jazz.
<imagination running rampant, no disrespect intended

5/21 Re Redding Hotshot rename suggestions:

* Watt Avenue Hotshots
* MBJ (McClellan Budget Justification) Hotshots
* Apprentice Academy Janitorial Service (Mopshots?)
* Aldeberto's Hotshots

ashamed to sign
5/21 Any former NCSC smokejumper knows why the Redding IHC was called "The Pickles" - the bright, kelly green shirts that Lanky made them wear. They responded to a high pitched, mournful cry, impossible to reproduce by email but phonetically something like "PICK, PICK, PICK-ULLLLLLLL!

Joe Hill

Somebody got a music clip for that? Ab.

5/21 For the AG video clip music--

Stevie Ray Vaughn- Life by the Drop


5/21 From Hickman:

FEMA Announces Two New Web-Based Incident Command System (ICS) Courses

5/20 AG video clip music: Magic Carpet Ride
5/20 Suggestion for music for the AG Helishot video...

"Fire on the Mountain" - Grateful Dead

(this is my phone's ringtone for calls from my dispatch center)

5/20 Todd,

When I worked up around N. Ops, the Redding IHC were always referred to as "the pickles."
Not quite sure why, but here's a vote for

Pickle IHC

5/20 Recent article about Type I and II teams from the Great Falls Tribune. The
writer left out or ignored another major reason that folks aren't stepping
up to refill these vacancies anymore and that is the potential to have
your career ended through legal action because somewhere on the incident
somebody made a mistake or failed to mitigate a hazard that led to an
injury, fatality, or lost property.


TC (another one)

5/20 Anybody taking nominations for a new IHC name if the Redding Shots move to Sacramento?

Redding HS in Sacramento
Arnie's Shots
Central Valley IHC



5/20 re AG Rappel from TP:

Is there sound on this?


Nope, TP said no catchy music. Want to suggest some? We could have a contest. Ab.

5/20 Ab,

I felt compelled to respond to "joatmon" who questioned the business
practices of Western Heritage. I have done business with them ever since we
have been in business, almost 15 years. Western Heritage has served the
Natural Resource and wildfire community much longer than we have, almost 50
years. It is my understanding that it has been the responsibility of the
Hotshot superintendent to restrict the sale of the buckles in question. When
the buckles are first designed and cast, they are given the opportunity to
put that restriction in place. In the past most did this, some did not.
Western Heritage has recently restricted all of them. I do not want to go
into the details of how the system works because it can be abused. I don't
think any of the Hotshots want to travel to Loveland Colorado and present a
picture ID to buy a belt buckle. (Except for maybe Alpine!) The system is
not perfect and neither are the business owners and employees. But, they are
doing a exceptional job of providing great products to the community. That
is why almost every agency does business with them for a wide range of
custom products.

In regards to using agency logos, it varies by agency. Most all of them
require a licensing process and fees. They usually require a review process
for any products developed or catalogs produced. NPS is one of the most
restrictive, so you will see very little product available to the general
public. Lapel pins are usually available to the general public in gift
stores at the different parks. The USFS shield is one of the least
restrictive, but they do not tend to have a lot of gift stores around. While
marketing items with agency logos is legal, there are licensing processes,
fees, sales tracking procedures, and royalties to be paid on all products
sold. Legitimate businesses do it right and do it legally. Western Heritage
was one of the first to enter into this arena and serves the community in
legitimate business practices.

Jim Felix

Thanks for the info, Jim. The topic came up in chat some nights ago and a number of us were wondering what's up, is that legal? No better place to ask than here. Glad to hear Western Heritage does it right. Ab.

5/20 Good job! <snip> (TP),

Its good to see that some things stay the same in this day and age of everyone
trying to figure out what people think, thought and might think and why they did
this and that and why humans act like humans and, and and and........

The legacy of AG and old boy was and is and will always be NO BS!


5/20 Hey folks, check this out:


HHMMMMMMM....I think I'll be a Hotshot this week.....NO WAIT!....a SMOKEJUMPER!!!! yeah sweeeeeeet.

.....$20.95....Add one to the basket and "WOW" yer friends!

.....$20.95...."Washed out did ya?" no worrys, you can still get that buckle!.......

.....$20.95....Heck, it should be "Buy one get one free!!"....


Ya always wonder if selling the NPS shield as a lapel pin, for example, is legal. Ab.

5/19 Hi Ab,

Just a little clip of our Type 1 helicopter rappel program for the community.
I'm working on getting the quality better while keeping the file small. Sorry,
no catchy music.

AG Rappel (.wmv file, requires windows media player)


Thanks for trying again, TP. You sent the good firefighter clip long ago. Our computer crashed and we lost it. Hanging on to this one. Should we take suggestions for music??? Ab.

5/19 OK, I'll bite... The human factors lessons Kelly Close talked about included the following points, for a starter (with some elaborations on my part):

Accidents aren't random events, they're a result of large and small human systems. The thrust of his discussion (pp 8, 9) relates to Human Factors, with a focus on how humans notice new information, evaluate it, integrate it and make choices to avoid accidents... and what human systems exist that constrain or direct such processes in the high-risk fire environment.

  • The human body, including the way it responds to stress, affects how people "sample" and notice changes in the "real environment out there" including changing fire behavior that is becoming more dangerous.
  • The human brain likes consistency and without it we feel uncomfortable. The more we can transition from feeling like "it can't happen to me" to "it can happen to me and I'd better be aware of that NOW", the more likely we are to survive the dangerous moments when we might find ourselves in cognitive dissonance or confusion over what's real, given what we've always believed. I want to clarify that Cognitive Dissonance can arise when we feel a difference between
    • what we believe (think we know, value, set as a goal) and
    • what bit of new info we perceive in a changing moment, hear from a crew member, from a DIVS, weatherman, local resident about up canyon winds, etc.
    • (Negative emotion, for me has always been a tap on the shoulder to the reasoning me to "pay attention". It cues me that I may have some issue or perception that needs further reflection, rational scrutiny or change in behavior. I try not to dismiss emotion's "wake up" calls.)
    How we resolve that cognitive dissonance when it arises and how quickly we resolve it correctly can be critical to survival in high risk environments. If we settle for the status quo or currently held or "we're ok" reality, when the fire environment is changing, we risk death. Bottom line, it's beneficial to realistically update your perceptions of reality and start acting to save yourself soon enough when your life depends on it.
  • Expect the unexpected, the less likely outcome, anticipate the undesirable, don't look for confirmation, but for the thing that might surprise and kill you.
  • Build your experience base with a focus on human factors and how you respond emotionally and rationally. Watching where your mind goes in mindfulness training, among other things, can let you know where your emotional triggers could be so as to minimize their effects when emotions want to hijack your body.
  • Use your joint emotion and rational human thinking systems optimally.
    • Use your emotion - aka hot cognition or automatic, largely unconscious thinking process - as the wake up call. When under stress, it kicks in first anyway and can inform reason if you don't let it take you hostage.
    • Then as quickly as possible, bring to the survival process your rational conscious thinking process - aka cold cognition or rational, conscious thinking process that makes us human.
The unexpected, undesirable situation has been called the "high-risk, low-frequency event" we're not ready for and not practiced at dealing with. Create and think about: what if this scenario happened, how would I act? Be ready. Study prior entrapment and burnover situations with an eye to human factors. Envision how you would act. Go on staff rides, practice fireshelter deployment with someone simulating wind, sound, and human emotions. An individual's "preoccupation with failure" and "commitment to resilience" help the human being maintain situational awareness, presuming they have experience with or knowledge of reading changes in fire behavior.

Train yourself to look at what might happen to LCES as fire behavior changes when the day, the sun, the wind, the slope, the fuels, the alignment of forces march on. I add, let's avoid putting ourselves in "predictable harm's way" with respect to fire behavior by learning what Doug Campbell teaches.

  • Match fire type to tactic. Mark direction of the wind on your map. Note where you are on the flammability curve.
  • Time tag your task. Set trigger points for change. Determine tracks. Draw them on your map.

(You can find one of Doug's powerpoints that integrates Fire Signature Prediction with LCES on the Documents Worth Reading page or go to Doug's website.)

Beyond that, we need to be ready to keep the reasoning brain as aware as possible when the sh*t's hitting the fan and the emotions, the tunnel vision, the loss of attention to detail occurs because WE'RE HUMAN. We need to know what humans do and train ourselves to expect the emotion, to tap into our reason and to use the two in concert to survive.


5/19 A link to local news story about the proposed BLM fire moves.

Been There
5/19 There is a new personal equipment advertiser on our Classifieds Page (www.wildlandfire.com/class/classifieds.php). Wildland Warehouse, offering the highest quality, US made, wildland gear & clothing with same day shipping. Check 'em out. Ab.
5/18 J. Watt,

WE = the wildland firefighting community which we are all a part of.

WE is not a shout, it is an emphasis that WE can perform far more things together for safety than just the "I" thinkers can. WE can look around us and see that there are many health hazards of being a wildland firefighter that have not been studied, or have had limited studies due to budgets, or were only studied as a comparison to other studies because the studies lacked proper funding for indepth research. Don't confuse WE as "groupthink", WE is much stronger than groupthink because it has outside review that can shut us down, correct us, or get us back on path.

WE also need to realize that our personal, educational, professional, and institutional biases sometimes get in the way of studies progressing to a conclusion. For this reason, it is sometimes best to contract out studies (ie -TriData Firefighter Safety Study) where we have an independent research organization look at the hazards, the causes, and the effects. This is not an attack on MTDC, MTDC should still be actively involved as well as the entire wildland fire community... just as in the TriData study. Hopefully (my personal bias), more things from the TriData study will be used some day to improve firefighter safety.

WE who are in our mid or late career years, or in retirement and still actively involved in safety discussions, owe it to the newest wildland firefighters and the ones we hire in the future. WE owe them a true assessment of the risks and how to mitigate them, regardless of costs or who performs the studies.

J. Watt, yes WE are WE.

5/18 Here's the 72 hour report on the Mississippi Meadow Incident in MN.

72 hr REPORT


Thanks to others who sent this in. Ab.

5/18 For those who didn't get to go, you can access the proceedings of the
IAWF 2005 8th Annual Wildland Fire Safety Summit.

NorCal Tom

5/18 Uncle Stick,

I would have liked to hear Kelly Close's human factors talk on the Cramer Fire.

By taking the lessons to the field this summer, what do you mean exactly?


It's interesting to get snapshots of the development of the Cramer concerns and issues via the Docs Worth Reading Page. Some fine presentations there. Ab.

5/18 Was a policy ever developed for extended IA? This is especially
needed in So Cal connected with Santa Anas and wind reversal.
We've learned a lot since the Laguna Fire days, but with WUI,
fuels as they are etc etc, I'm just wondering what's different this
year than last year?

5/18 Terrie,

My experience with my husband's suicide three plus years ago sent me scrambling for
answers to the questions of prevention and recovery. Aside from the Bible, few were
found, but my best resource, was a book called Grieving a Suicide, by Albert Y. Hsu.
It's available on Amazon.

My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends of Gina.

Sarah Larson

Readers, before ordering, read the reviews to see if the approach is likely to work for you.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Sarah. It was good to meet you in Boise at the WFF Memorial statue dedication. Ab.

5/18 Mississippi Meadows Incident in Minnesota


I saw a 24- hour prelim report posted on "they said" on the 12th. Have there
been any further postings? Looking for the 72- hour report.


5/18 Does anyone have info on the rumor that the DOI folks will be moving from Boise?
I assume it's due to budget cuts. It doesn't make sense for the leaders in fire to
move east where there is little catastrophic wildland fire. They're out of touch at times
with the ground as it is...

Maybe the Powers That Be see that centralizing fire from the different federal fire
agencies into a central Federal Fire Department is inevitable???

The Redding shots moving to Sacramento?? If I step back from that one it makes sense.
It's a leadership training program.


5/18 First, thanks to the ABs for being good proof readers when my fingers

Lobotomy, I have thought about it; both my brother and I are cancer
survivors; one FS, one CDF. You ask questions when you're an "out of the
norm" patient. Mine definitely was chemical induced. The first questions
were how much coffee and beer do you drink. No one wanted to talk about 20
years of fire fighting at the time. No one wanted to talk about how fast
the 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T really broke down in the brush fields and if they
contributed to products of combustion, etc., etc. Studies should be
continued. I have not seen the 2001 HHS issue to which you refer, so I
can't discuss whatever slant was taken. The original work was good for the
time and money. There were some big guns in the occupational health field
involved. It was a beginning. If WE includes both of us, I'm on the same

5/18 TTerrie, re suicide,

Here's an informative link: www.afsp.org/education/recommendations/2/index.phpl

I think the main thing to remember is that you can't expect people contemplating suicide to just "change their mind". What you see as "not that big a deal" can seem huge and insurmountable to someone who is, for example, clinically depressed. What leads to suicide has biological roots in brain and body chemistry. If you can't provide help and you think there might be a problem, you need to find someone who can. As Chris said, however, often people give friends and family no cues that can be recognized ahead of time. That makes it really tough.

My prayers for friends and family.


5/18 Rogue River,

I agree with you on the smoke issue, exposure to ultraviolet radiation from
the sun and all the other environmental hazards that we are exposed to have
not had enough research and I am not sure how the guys with the slide rules
will do that research or if it will ever get done. I also agree that it is
tragic and disturbing to see our fellow fire folks knocked down by some
kind of physical ailment or disease which always seems to catch us after
the last candle on the retirement cake is blown out and the last war story
is told.

Thank you for your response.

5/17 Terri,

I have had at least 3 friends committed suicide and each time I asked myself,
what happened? Some have very distinctive signs and others are subtle, you
don't see them til afterwards.

Here are a few I do remember.
  • Talking about death,
  • high and low moods that change quickly and
  • a self destructive attitude.

There are many more signs that can be found on suicide web sites and also at
suicide hot lines.

My deepest sympathy goes out to Gina's family and friends.

My heart aches for you all.


5/17 For those that have heard the rumor about the moving of Redding Hotshots to McClellan.

It is true. They do have two weeks to come up with options before they have to move to McClellan. This move came down from the Region, one person to be specific. Many reasons were cited, one of the barracks on compound being closed and help needed at McClellan to run the training center as a few.


5/17 During the Tiller and Biscuit fires in Southern Oregon the CDC met with several IMTs
to discuss a planned study on smoke hazards by quantifying the amount of smoke
particulates processed through the human body (it was a more involved discussion but
my memory isn't what it use to be.) To do this they were suggesting urine samples be
taken from selected crews and individuals through fire season. Anyone know if this
project ever got off the ground?

5/17 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
5/17 Ab,

I am so sorry Gina died. I am shocked and saddened to hear that suicide was
the cause of Gina's death. My prayers for her family and friends.

Are there any kinds of Lessons Learned from suicide? I know there have been
some in the past in the fire world besides Kate. Does anyone know warning

Thanks for the links. I feel I need to educate myself...

Tahoe Terrie

5/17 On the news this morning, the autopsy report ruled Gina's death a suicide.

My condolences to her family.


Bend Bulletin article. Our hearts go out to Gina's family and friends.

One of our early theysaiders, FireGirl, created one of the early fire sites on the world wide web -- in part to honor her hotshot friend - Kate Louise Ranisate - who committed suicide in 1998. We still link to FireGirl's World on our links page under Miscellaneous. Here are several resource links with reference to understanding suicide that she provides on her site.
"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.”
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

5/17 Mellie, vfd cap'n, (and Ab)

Thank you for taking the time to take note and post about Kelly Close's paper from the IAWF conference. The paper is an excellent read - the presentation was even better. All of us here need to take this message to the field this season and make sure the ripples started by Kelly in Missoula reach as far as the WO. I suspect the WO is still hoping this thing will go away. NONE of us can afford that. Be safe.

Uncle Stick

5/17 J. Watt,

Thanks for being a member of the NWCG Safety and Health Working Team and improving firefighter safety. Now that WE all have evolved in our knowledge of the various hazards of smoke and the sampling methods that are available, do WE not need to continue those studies and improve our knowledge based upon changes in technology and personal observations? Every one of the 1990's Health Hazards of Smoke Reports said that WE need to address the long term health effects of smoke... in the Spring 2001 Health Hazards of Smoke, I get a very different message.

That report compared wildland firefighter exposures to children in Missoula and to women in developing countries cooking over wood stoves... WE can do a much better study of smoke exposure in firefighters than using comparative research as a foundation for our conclusions. WE can, as a wildland fire community, do complete research from A to Z... WE just need to get away from educational and personal biases, group think, and think outside the box... some things they don't formally teach in in Masters programs or in peer review for the Doctoral Dissertation.

In the original studies, PM10 and PM3.5 were studied in various degrees. New standards for PM2.5 have been developed by the EPA and are being implemented as health standards in many areas. The Spring 2001 Health Hazards of Smoke publication even addresses that fine particles (PM2.5) can carry carcinogens deep into the lungs.

With these new findings, I wonder how much research has been done to decide if the PELs for workplace exposures to the primary toxins, in non-fire occupations where people have adequate respiratory protection, are relevant to exposures in smoke where the PM2.5 concentrations are far greater factors and wildland firefighters have no protective measures. Past studies have greatly avoided the issue of PM and toxin exposure over CO exposure as the primary hazard and use CO as the primary indictor for other hazards.

Also, I wonder if the synergistic effects of smoke toxins and working with engines, pumps, drip torches, dozers, chainsaws, and the wildland urban interface are ever going to come into a study... or are WE just going to always throw out the effects of benzene, acrolein, PAHs, the aldehyde family, and the various other toxins in smoke as not being cancer causes in our profession?

As my PhD friend always says.. think about it.

5/17 Re The Future
Dear Lobotomy and others
I think Yogi Berra said it more succinctly;
"The future ain't what it used to be."
5/17 Hi, I was net surfing and came across your board, reading about Gina Zalunardo. I just wanted to let you know that the quote from Gina should not include "in bright purple and magenta".

The news article that used that quote from Gina's mother was poorly written. The purple and magenta part referred to the colors of paint Gina used to paint the quote on her bedroom wall.


DD thanks for the clarification. I realize the colors referred to her room, but took the quote as a metaphor for what I think is her underlying message - which I interpreted as "Dance yourself, be yourself, express yourself, whatever the color." It's a powerful message! I've clarified it on the quotes page. Ab.

5/17 Would the person (CC) who sent in the "Great Rx" post please resend.  I clicked trash on the spam filter and noticed it as it was going away. Ab.
5/17 re some forum threads:

Sincere condolences to those who've recently lost loved ones.
Great to hear many injured are recovering & making progress.
SoCalVollie - any new CDF or OES engines that hit the pavement this season were purchased via previous fiscal years' funding (most likely thanks to the pervious administration).
OES will also reshuffle some of their "loaner program" mutual aid engines based on mileage. retired & refurbished engines & apparatus should become available via an OES managed resale program to benefit VFWs. presuming it's still in existence - the price was right, so was the interest rate if any.

Mellie - yup, that NY central park gig has been quite a perk for the FFs for several years. grins> imagine a birds eye view of those fancy highrises< on the otherhand, intercity dwellers may realize and learn about the important SPECIALIZED jobs wildland fire folk perform.

Anyone know the status of the USFS, BLM, State planes? rumors I've heard, a great number remain grounded & no replacements on the horizon.

Heads up to those who will soon be on their way to tomorrow's fires; be safe!

5/16 Anybody heard anything on the BLM @ NIFC Overhead at NIFC being
reassigned to the DC office? What's up with that?

5/16 Joeboy,

Thank you for replying to my comments. I have actively read all of the research on the Health Hazards of Smoke and the related studies published by the MTDC and PNWRS. I also have read the recent studies on firefighter physiology. If I hadn’t thoroughly read or researched those articles, I would have in no way spoke up and said there were some flaws and personal assumptions articulated into the studies.

I am attaching a link to a compilation of studies that relate to firefighter heart disease and cancer research. In the compilation, it studies firefighters in general and does not directly study wildland firefighters. It is important to note that majority of the carcinogens found in the structural realm are also found in the wildland area and sometimes with a much longer duration of exposure.

As technology changes and we have gotten better ways to measure and record data, and track firefighter health, we should continue to pursue the answers on the long term health effects of being a wildland firefighter. Another often overlooked hazard in the wildland fire arena is the prolonged radiant energy exposure from both the sun and from wildfire.

The attached study makes it clear that there have not been full studies on the synergistic or long term studies of the effects of various hazardous substances in smoke or the environmental factors that may affect exposure.

Chemicals in Common in Wood Smoke with citations: www.webcom.com/~bi/pdfs/WoodSmokeChemical2003.pdf

Report to the Workers' Compensation Board on Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer Among Firefighters , September, 1994 , Toronto, Ontario

Rogue Rivers
5/16 Here's a quote relating to many of the threads going on right now.

Quote from John Schaar: American Writer, Professor Emeritus of Political Philosophy at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

”The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination.”


5/16 Veg-e-tar-i-an. Translated in Native American (poor hunter)


5/16 Arizona is just plain heating up!!

Multiple new starts here in Arizona. RED FLAG WARNING forecasted today this afternoon with the potential for another tomorrow. Several type 2 overhead teams are deployed or will be called up.

Please be safe. We have the resources now, all it takes is a few new starts with large fire potential in another geographical area and SW will be competing for resources!

What a way to spend a vacation!

AZ Trailblazer

Apache, what part of the state are you reporting from??
5/16 This is a video I thought you might like to post.

Flying Machines (.wmv file, requires windows media player)

It takes place on the Solstice Complex 2004.

Dave Zader

It's streaming video takes 2.5 min, is 2,705 K. I want to see if it pulls too much bandwidth or slows down the site.
The Solstice Complex was a complex of fires around Fort Yukon, Alaska beginning end of June 2004. Last report someone sent in for the end of July showed ~550,000 acres burned.
Pretty cool. Gets the blood up for the season, fer sure. Ab.

5/16 looks like the TONTO NATIONAL FOREST in AZ is starting to heat up and probably gonna get even worse with the holiday campers getting ready to go out and the temps getting over 100.

got another fire on the forest, the BART FIRE started yesterday evening around 1700 hours, by 2200 hours it was 1,200 acres and at 0730 this morning acreage was reported at 6,000+.

resources: 2 heavy airtankers, 1 SEAT, 1 T1 helo, 8 shot crews and numerous engines. with more shot crews on the way.

weather is going to be very hot, temps will be from mid 90's to 102 degrees. got a red flag warning posted for this afternoon with winds of 30 mph +.

5/16 Ab,

A couple of things in reply to two recent threads rolling along over the

First, to Rogue Rivers.

I would hardly call any of the folks at MTDC working on any of these
studies "irrelevant PHDs" unless you have both the knowledge and, in most
cases, the fire experience to be able to talk shop with them. You may be
right about the fact that they may not be medically trained. However, get
involved with any of the studies that they currently have going and then
comment after the final results come out. Better yet, actually read some of
their past studies, especially the recently completed studies done on
firefighter physiology. If any group is going to put out better documents
on the effects of the job we do on us ground pounders I'll more than look
forward to reading them.

Yactac and Todd,

If I am getting the jist of your current conversation, then it is CHS
(Contracted Health Services) and you may/may not be dealing with them yet. I
can tell you from experience that you will not complain about an HR person
approving your or your employees HSQs after you go to having CHS do all
your fire physicals. Wait until these folks start telling you who can/can't
go out and play anymore as they have done on my district. You will be
begging for the old days. When you do start dealing with them start your
folks early so you will have all the confirmations back by the time your
folks need to be available.

5/16 I've seen a fair amount of grumbling about the WCT, and there are a few things I just don't understand.

For one, what's better? No test at all, so that we risk putting people to work with no knowledge regarding their fitness base? The step test? It was no better on the knees etc., and I always thought the charts used for the final score looked like something out of the New Farmer's Almanac. A test run is even harder on the joints. What else is there, a NASA-style stress test, complete with blood samples to test blood oxygen and re-uptake levels like the East Germans used to use on their athletes? I don't mean to make light of the matter, because there have been some awful consequences to the current testing method, but I think we could engage in constructive criticism to make the system better, without blowing a nuclear hole in the budget.

Still Out There as an AD

5/16 SoCal Vollie,

While it is very true that CDF is having some financial issues, rest assured, new engines are on the way.

If you recall a few years back, the Model 25 (Pierce's FireHawk) came out and was tested in a few units. Engine 1681 ( the one that is seen in Pierce's ads and posters) is still assigned at the Pacheco FFSin the Santa Clara Unit (on HWY 152 near Casa De Fruta and is now the only schedule B CDF paramedic engine in the state currently undergoing some program modifications. Very nice ride with lots of room for both fire and EMS gear. A true type 3 urban interface engine!

Last fire season here in SCU, we were able to play with the Model 24, (also from Pierce), a more beefed up version of the 25. No more hydrastat pump and roll components. I have heard from a few of the HFEs and mechanics that the 24 will be the way that CDF goes in the future.

With the aftermath of 2003 there is supposed to be year round staffing with 4-0 on board for RRU, MVU, and San Berdo, but working in NorCal, I cannot confirm.

Keep in mind also, OES is in the process of passing out new engines to those OES friendly fire agencies who currently have OES engines assigned. So, if you have an OES engine in your agency, be sure that your folks have rescue systems 1 training and that you're up on your CICS (California ICS) or red card quals.

bottom line, be patient

AZ Trailblazer
5/15 Hi All,

I got a call from my cousin in New York City who couldn't wait to tell me about the Redding SJs who are climbing to the tops of trees in Central Park in search of trees infected with the Asian Longhorn Beetle. The beetles came into NY thru the docks and the city has been working for 5 years to keep them contained. It lives in the very tops of trees so those searching for it have to be very good climbers. SJs are. When they find an infested tree they fell it, buck it up and burn it. Good show she says and they've created quite a flurry.

She was impressed. Good wildland firefighter Public Relations in that job. Another example of All Risk!


5/15 Some comments on recent posts:

>>I agree with William Moody about heli mopping. Large helicopter mop-up has
evolved due to contracting procedures and limited numbers available. I
haven't looked at the latest CWN contracts but 3 or 4 hour minimums each day
will induce folks to fly the machines to "get their money's worth". If
you're not flying them "productively" then some other fire may get them.
There is the great fear of having a fire escape containment, enough that the
fire community will delay releases and downsizing to make sure it doesn't
happen on their watch. Look at the engines and crews, with foam and water
tenders hydraulic mining is the order of the day rather than using water
efficiently. The only argument I have accepted in favor of heavy duty use of
water is it does often expedite mop-up and return crews to IA status. Six
to eight thousand dollars an hour per copter would have to speed up the
mop-up program by days to justify the use. For many years the fixed wing
program was the universal bad guy in fire costs. That has now shifted to
the rotary wing and support programs.

>>Rogue Rivers, if you are talking about the NWCG Heath Hazards of Smoke
study done through MTDC in the early-mid 1990's, I was part of the Safety
and Health Working Team overseeing the project. The bullet point results
were that the volatiles created in the combustion process were so short
lived that the counted accurately be measured. Due to the uncontrolled
nature of incomplete combustion the compounds generated were too numerous to
identify. PM-10 particles, a physical exposure, caused short term loss of
lung capacity which normally became normal after several months away from
the fireline. There were doctors and medical teams involved especially in
setting up the investigation protocols. What didn't come out the study was
an ongoing age group illness and morbidity study. Yes, these should be
done. Structural, wildland, and switch hitter firefighters need to be assessed
within the framework of their working environment. Rather than rail about
what wasn't done in the past, look at the basis provided, see if there are
methods to capture data available now not available at the time of the
study, and push for a continuation of the research. Employee
associations/unions work the best in getting monies for these types of
studies, it's member welfare issue.

>>Pack Test. Just like guns and people, pack tests don't kill people, people
kill people. If a physical test is reflective of the job environment then
the screening of persons being told to take the test is the prophylactic
measure to ensure that unfit personnel don't expose themselves to the risk.
Self assessment of your own fitness level is not always accurate. Where are
the fitness maintenance programs?

>>Line Gear for CDF. CDF has a policy on non-GSA equipment. I recall that
the two main points were 1) must be NFPA approved, and 2) the fire shelter
must be on the hip.

5/15 The 209s for the two Alaska fires reported yesterday:

Island Lake fire with Jandt's team 5% contained, size not reported has 2 type 2 helos, no ATs
Tracy Ave fire near Homer now 95% contained at 5400 acres had 1 Type 2 helo, no ATs


5/15 Winema IHC and Rouge River IHC already up in Alaska. Could the rest of us be heading up there? Hopefully so.

AK Fire Service Website http://fire.ak.blm.gov/

5/15 TIA, re eating vegetarian on fires



There is always a vegetarian choice available at camp and even in the field. MREs, ("Meals Ready to Eat"...these are the same rations the military eat...known as eating "rats"...) also have a vegetarian option, which are actually some of the "tastier" ones. mmmmmm......

By the way...after 1300 everyday, on all large fires, there is a cornucopia of red apples to be found discarded along the firelines of America........just in case your hubby needs a snack.


5/15 Alaska is already burning. Dave Jandt's Type 2 team is on a fire SE of Northway.

Here's one site I use for smoke information for the public.

and on particulates...

Sun is another hazard for F/F.

Can anyone put up links to bonafide research on cancer in F/Fs? I do not smoke or
chew.  I have had precancerous moles removed. Get checked every year. My doc said
firefighters have higher rates of cancer - melanoma for sure but also other kinds of
cancer. Any stats?


5/15 Rogue Rivers,

From what I've heard cancer risks are much higher for wildland firefighters than
for the general public. Smoke is also linked to heart disease and lung disease.
Some few argue that maybe firefighters have risky habits other than inhaling smoke
from wildland fires that put them at greater risk for disease. Seems to me the
general public does much of that same risky stuff too.

Here's a website with many articles and white papers on smoke effects:


Here's a link for a listing of articles on the effects of smoke and how you
can get info out to the public.


Getting info out to firefighters who are young and sometimes feel invulnerable
is another matter.


5/15 Rogue Rivers, good question.

Does knowledge direct research or does research direct knowledge?

5/15 From Hickman:

Another description of the study on the pack test
DHS Funds Biometric Study of Wildland Firefighters During Pack Tests

and on air tankers
Large Air Tankers Will Keep Flying, For Now


5/15 My husband just took one week of firefighting training, just finished yesterday.
He is a vegetarian. Is there ever food vegetarians can survive on at fires?

5/14 There is a new advertiser with a very nice looking wildland engine for sale on the classifieds page at a very reasonable price. The engine can be inspected at Ashland, Oregon and has recently been under contract in Region 6. See the ad with additional details here: Dedrick Fire. Ab.
5/14 My thoughts and prayers go out to the Zalunardo family.... what a tragic loss... a loss to the family, the Union IHC, and the wildland fire community. The work that Gina was pursuing was so honorable... such a terrible loss.... a loss to all, but the family especially.

The quote that Cindy Zalunardo said struck home..... I asked myself, what a leader Gina would have been and continue to be.... she made it clear on what a leader would be and the leader she is..... "It says ‘Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watchin' in bright purple and magenta,"..... My condolences to the family... it is a tragic loss to all of us, especially you.... the wildand fire community also feels the terrible loss...


I added that quote to the Quotes to Live By  page. The TV evening news on had a school picture of Cindy and a description of events and the investigation. If anyone has an informal photo of her please send it in and we'll post it. Ab.

5/14 Relating to the pack test thread.... and many others... And a big kudo for for Todd for bringing it back into the limelight. It's about time that outside studies are done on the effects of being a wildland firefighter and the exposed hazards that don't get addressed.......

Does anyone know?... Are there medical doctors involved in the MTDC studies?... or just non-relevant Phd's making determinations of safety based upon their specialties? or.. If a study has relevance to someone kicking over and dying, just as it has been has the inception of the pack test... How about the retirees who die shortly after retirement...? should there not there independent review by peers who actually have the knowledge in the subject...? there actually is, the Forest Service just doesn't look at peer review the same way. A doctor is a doctor.

The reason I ask is that the report from MTDC on "Smoke Exposure" reeks with errors that have not been peer reviewed and corrected... the only peer review happened from the wildland fire research community and the findings BECAME FACT.... neither the medical research community, nor the common sense community, nor the air quality specialists were consulted for peer review. The medical research community and the air quality specialists reports directly contradict what is being said from MTDC. What is the specialty of the PhD who is performing these studies and what are the specialties of the researchers who are performing these studies?

Have things been properly peer reviewed, researched, and fact checked before they become policy and direction for the land management agencies? Does knowledge direct research or does research direct knowledge?

Sorry for the long post....

Rogue Rivers
5/14 Pentagon Plans Massive Overhaul of Bases: www.defenselink.mil/brac/
What does this mean for the USFS, BIA, NPS, FWS, BLM....Doing more with
less? Is this the beginning of the stove pipe? Something to think about, if it's
happening in the military, what makes us think that it won't happen here.
Any thoughts?

Just a thought
5/14 `RE: the WCT study,


A “test” that hammers the knees and lower back….

A “test” that has resulted in fatalities……

A “test” that requires one to fill out a self evaluation form (HSQ) in lieu a doctor visit to save money

A “test” that requires the evaluators and “keepers” of the self evaluation forms (HSQ) to be District Clerks / Human Resource folks with no medical qualifications or training

A “test” that requires these HRO folks with no medical training to issue a “Mother May I” to the agency test administrator after “evaluating” the HSQ

A “test” that requires a doctors clearance if one tells the truth and checks the correct amount of boxes…..

A “test” administered by agency folks with no medical quals required……..

A “test” that has no resemblance to the work it is supposed to be testing for……

Hmmmmm….. maybe, just maybe the DHS folks (or the ones they received the grant funding from) know more than you think Todd………

5/14 Heads up, we have fire in Hawaii, Nanakuli and Lualualei Valleys near the Honouliuli Preserve.

Honolulu Advertiser

Nature Conservancy Firefighter

Welcome to theysaid. Ab.

5/13 This is from the article in the Bend Bulletin on Gina.

Dave and Cindy Zalunardo remembered their daughter as an adventurous woman and a gifted
artist. Her mother said Gina painted a quote above her bedroom door, and refused to let them
cover it with white paint when they converted it into a guest room.

"It says ‘Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, dance like
nobody's watchin' in bright purple and magenta," said Cindy Zalunardo. "I don't know who said
it, but that was her."


5/13 Here's something a little far out. It may be a worthwhile study since there
are WCT deaths, but not for the reason they say. I just hope they don't
pile more regulations on us... But what do those DHS people know

DHS Funds Firefighter Safety Study
"The pack test simulates the conditions experienced by firefighters during
an actual wildland fire."


5/13 I've updated the Type I and Type II Incident Management Team pages. Please check them for accuracy and spelling. I had to check some of these with phone calls and might have misspelled names. Many team sites across the US have not yet been updated. Please let us know when they are. If anyone knows of new sites, email me an I'll add links. Also let me know if there are any broken links. The Southwest has no rotation schedule for the type II teams...

Note that a number of the BLM sites are still offline.


5/13 Howdy Abs!

This is for Socal CDF and his question about web gear.

Look on the True North web page, their stuff is marked prominently as being CDF approved.

I have a Nimrod fireline pack and really like it. Very comfortable with lots of room for stuff.
I don't recall if this particular manufacture is CDF approved.

Also, I think Eagle Gear packs are approved as well.

Hope this helps,

Captain Emmett

CentralCal CDF
5/13 a big wildfire is burning right now on the TONTO NATIONAL FOREST in AZ, started at 0200 from a car fire. first estimate was 50 acres and at 0800 this morning acreage is estimated between 800-1200 acres. they got one T1 helo, 3 heavy air tankers, 1 SEAT, 15-20 engines and 4 hotshot crews on or enroute to the scene.

the fire is called the ST. CLAIR FIRE.

5/13 Webgear question

Any recommendations for CDF approved (detachable) webgear thats not GSA?


5/13 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
5/13 Does anyone know if CDF will get some new engines it needs with
the CA budget crunch? If so, what? Any details?

SoCal Vollie

5/13 Kris,

If you do anything be honest with both employers let them know what's going on, because that supervisor is basically waiting on you to see if you accept the job or not. I started with FS and now work for a large municipal dept. When I was going through the process, I kept my supervisor informed. So wherever you decide just keep them both informed.

5/13 L.Dean Clark, others: thank you for relating the "old days" in wildland fire.
lots to be gleaned from those stories.

IMHO, some may disregard stories beginning with " when I was a FF ":
many of those first hand accounts cannot be analyzed ad nauseum, yet
they contain gems applicable to current WWF situations, if a person will
only listen.

it hasn't been that many years ago since western states WFFs packed in
to fight the dragon - how soon technology outsources memory...

5/12 Fellow employees,

Dave Zalunardo called here (Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests) this afternoon to tell us that his daughter Gina's body was found late this morning on Slaughterhouse Island at Lake Shasta, California. Gina had been missing since Saturday evening. No further details are available at this time.

We know that you join us in sending our deepest sympathy to Dave, his wife Cindy and their son Michael, as well as the rest of their family. We will share information regarding services when known.

If you would like to send a card, their address is:

Zalunardo Family
730 NW 20th
Redmond, OR 97756

Dave welcomes email messages and his email at home is: wetdog @ bendcable.com

Dave really appreciates the outpouring of support the last several days, and obviously they will continue to need our support, thoughts and prayers.


Readers, if you knew Gina or even if you didn't, please send condolences to the Zalunardos. Parents say that such communications mean a great deal to them. Prayers help too. Ab.

5/12 Thought I'd share this with you. Some good news! Carol

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hi all,

Jerry Bishop has continued to do well and gain strength over the past
month. He went in for a scan on 4/28 and was able to meet with his Doctor
yesterday (5/10) to review the results and discuss further treatment. The
news is that the scan showed some decrease in the size of the tumor area
but also showed that one of the pressure relieving shunts may have shifted
out of position and might require another surgical procedure to correct.
Further study of the test results and consultation among the Drs. is
necessary before a final decision on this. In the meantime, Jerry will be
taking an oral chemotherapy medication for five days, followed by three
weeks off, probably for the next few months.

The Doctor was very happy and impressed with Jerry's rehabilitation
progress (talking, walking, motor skills, etc.) and has approved him to
start going to a physical therapy center in Oakhurst for more intense PTs.
He also said that, if Jerry continues to progress at his current pace, he
may be able to return to desk type work in about 6 months. Currently,
Jerry is able to stand himself up and walk up to 30' or more at a time with
the aid of a walker. His appetite, along with his chewing and swallowing
skills are excellent and it appears he is beginning to gain back some
weight - a really good thing since Jerry has lost close to 70 pounds since
January. The family has also been able to get Jerry outside more and even
venture out briefly for some fun, social activities, rather than just
medical appointments - hopefully we will see them at some of our upcoming
events soon.

Thanks to all for your continued prayers and support.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks for the good news. Ab.

5/12 Sad news regarding Gina Zalunardo. Gina's body was found at 11:10 today,
found on the island at Lake Shasta, California. Gina had been missing since
Saturday night.. Gina was to report to the Union Interagency Hotshot Crew
on Monday, May 16th to begin the 2005 fire season as a crewmember. Gina had
spent the last 4 seasons working on the Ochoco National Forest as a Engine
Crew Firefighter. Our sympathy and prayers for comfort to Gina's parents,
family members and friends. We are sorry for your loss.


Dan Fiorito, Superintendent Union IHC

Our condolences as well. Ab.

5/12 Here's the 24 hour report on the Mississippi Meadow Incident in MN.

24 hr REPORT


5/12 Gizmo, Joatmon, et al.

I just got word that both the Locality Pay and the Special Salary Tables remain the same except for some no-impact changes in text. TLet me reiterate... there are no financial impacts on socal special salary or locality pay. Some R5 HR person made a big booboo and sent around an email that caused confusion. I'm glad to report we're good.

NorCal Tom

5/12 From NMAirBear

Coverage of the AD issue in the Santa Fe New Mexican:

5/12 For all those folks that didn't make the 8th IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Missoula (over 300 folks did), all the excellent papers are available through the Lessons Learned Center's Web Site at www.myfirecommunity.net.

For those who'd like to get the papers from ALL the IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Summits since 1997 on one CD, send an email to iawf@iawfonline.net

Thanks for the excellent support on TheySaid, too!

Dick Mangan
Conference Chair
5/12 Has anyone heard about an alleged burn over incident that was associated 
with the Mississippi Meadows Fire in Minnesota?



I did a bit of checking. That Rx fire escaped on May 5 and was contained on May 8 (in lowland grass and timber, 22 mi w of Grand Rapids on state, fed, tribal lands) at 475 acres. I was told that during IA a wind caused a flare-up in flashy fuels and it that burned a firefighter's face and hands. The firefighter returned to work the next day. Ab.

5/12 Hello, I have a few questions to those who do the hiring for any agency, or
anyone else who can help for that matter.

I have worked for a private contractor, on a national contract crew, for the
past three seasons. Each winter, I would apply to various state and federal
agencies, for seasonal fire jobs. I was never really looked at, either because
my info was not appealing, lack of experience, who knows. This winter I worked
hard at applying again, making sure everything was covered in my applications,
and making sure they were turned in well before the deadlines. Well, the hard
work paid off. I have had two job offers from two different places. Each one
has its benefits over the other. The one is senior firefighter position on a
handcrew, with a state agency. The other is a engine crewmember, with the FS.
They both came at pretty much the same time, which has made my decision harder.

The state position, has the better chance of leadership training, along with
other training. They seem more personal, and know your name. It also seems to
have a more "cozy" atmosphere.

The FS job, happens to be on a district where I have worked on each year. It
was one I tried to get hired with, after my second season. I'm not sure how
much training goes on, and what my role in the crew will be, other than a
engine operator.

My main question is this. If you turn down a job offer for the season, does the
hiring unit remember this the next time around? Would this go against me during
next season's hiring? I think I would feel more comfortable taking the state job,
and the training potential sounds awesome. But ultimately, I wanted to end up with
the FS. If turning down the FS job this year, in exchange for more experience
is going to hurt my potential for being hired in the future, then I dont know
if that's a good idea.

Any words of advice, whether positive, or negative, is much appreciated.

5/12 Mike,

If you're thinking about just the lower section of the boots then you just bring the lace straight up to the next loop on each side creating a loop between the two eye lids then cross the laces through those loops from each side then pull up, it makes H's. God I know those are horrible directions so Ab. here's the photo of my boots...I guess you could put it up in the misc. section...let me know if that is what you're talking about.

boot lacing photo


5/12 JMHO,

It would be interesting to see how national and regional leaders weigh in on the topic.

5/12 boot lacing

I think this is what you are talking about. Lace your boots up to the top, but leave the top eyelet/hole open. Double over the ends and stick the end of the loop through the hole. Then take the end of the lace and pull them through the loop, and pull the loop tight. You then can tie the boot.

Hope this helps,

Crew Leader P.W.

5/12 Looking for family member we have lost contact with - Leroy (Roy) Epps III

Last conversation (year 2000) he indicated he was wildfire pilot.

Non-binding, just pass my email address to him if you know him.

Anyway you can distribute this request would be greatly appreciated.


mdgraves1 @ bellsouth.net

Martin Graves
5/11 Lobotomy, Re: Fire/A-76,

I often read your posts with great interest and also believe that a shake up is in order. I part ways with what I perceive of as your stance in the idea of a NATIONAL Federal Fire Service. I know that you are from R-5 and so am I. The problems it faces may well be the precursor to what other regions will face in the future, but the fact is that R-5's problems are unique. It is my belief that a more regional federal fire service would be a better fit. Folks in most other regions will never buy off on the wildland fire service concept, especially in the east, it just does not fit their needs, and therefore will never get signed off by the NLT.


Out of the Box
5/11 Ab...

I had no "Misperceptions" about that van accident, just facts stated by local law enforcement, coroner and prosecuting attorney involved in the incident. Initially the county coroner stated that alcohol levels were above the legal limit but those findings were called into question by the companys attorney due to the conditions of the bodies as a result of the subsequent fire. You're right before any firm blame could be placed more detailed information would be needed. I was just making a point about leadership. When our crews deploy, either to incidents or even to training, we have a detailed safety briefing. Route, Road Speed, Driving Standards, Safety Concerns, Emergencies etc. to and back from our destination...and definitely NO Alcohol. No Ab I wasn't conducting an AAR about the accident just sharing some thoughts about leadership that I think contributed to the accident.

I knew Jeff and Shane and it still bothers me what happened to them, I was in the Salmon/Challis area when we lost them and I think leadership failed them plain and simple. I see a lot of chatter here about what has went wrong, what needs to happen, what needs changing, who's to blame for the present working conditions, staffing, funding, training, who should run the whole circus... I guess its a good place to vent ones frustrations lol. I was in boise last week for the firefighter statue unveiling and was impressed, I thought there would be more people present but it was good. Ab maybe someday we can sit down with a beer and discuss what the hell is going on lol.

R4 Helitack Guy

Incomplete perceptions, then... Relying on "live" person blood alcohol limits has been called into account in airtanker crashes and in other legal cases where people died in flaming and non-flaming crashes. Just because someone is "law enforcement" or otherwise involved in law doesn't mean they have any facts. Status doesn't automatically confer knowledge. However, there are a number of coroners with scientific specialty in the field, especially one in Texas, who can give you an earful on the lack of validity of supposed alcohol level "facts" that defame people who can no longer offer testimony or samples on their own behalf.

That said, I agree with you about not purchasing and consuming alcohol before you arrive back at your home base.

We'll look for you next trip to Boise. If we tip a few we might make you the designated driver. Ab.

5/11 vfd cap'n linked to
Kelly Close's  Fire Behavior vs. Human Behavior: Why the Lessons from Cramer Matter (pdf file)
It was presented at the IAWF Human Factors Conference several weeks ago.

Read it! Excellent paper!


5/11 This has come in from several sources who would like to inform the community and see what people have to say. Does anyone have the author's contact info? Ab.

Helimopping: Is There a Better Way to Do It?

by William D. Moody (His professional credentials can be found at the end.)

With growing concern over the inappropriate use of helicopters in fire tactical operations, the USDA Forest Service (Fire and Aviation Management) and the National Aviation and Ground Safety committee published a joint paper in Risk Management in Action (Issue 1: March 2001). The paper, "Heli-mopping: A Dirty Word" defined heli-mopping as "use of a helicopter for water or retardant application beyond an initial attack in recently burned areas where there is minimal danger of the fire escaping." The paper cited examples of inappropriate uses, factors that motivate heli-mopping, and outlined legitimate reasons for use of helicopter applications inside the black.

As long time and current Air Attack Group Supervisor Ward Monroe states, "Today heli-mopping appears to be an accepted practice and does not have the stigma that it had years ago". Perhaps it is now time to reassess our tactical use of helicopters (aerial applications) and to determine whether or not "the dirty word" is still a part of normal fire operations.

As a current Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) I would like to share with you some of my observations with regard to helicopter aerial application operations. Rightly used, the helicopter can be a tremendous tactical tool to assist in containing the fire. However, when the tool is inappropriately used, such as when there is minimal danger of fire escape, and when ground alternatives are readily available, the result is unnecessary exposure of flight crews to a high risk low level flight environment, significantly higher suppression costs, and in many cases, less effective mop up. In some situations, helicopter aerial applications inside the black are justified and perhaps the only practical and safe means for mop-up, preventing fire escape, or spotting from torching near the line.

In the following pages I will discuss my observations, their consequences, and potential alternatives. Before concluding , I will provide recommendations on how I think the "heli-mopping issue can at least be partially resolved and how helicopter aerial application operations can be made safer and more efficient.


  1. There has been a significant increase in the use of helicopter aerial applications to directly support containment and mop-up objectives when alternative means or methods could be employed to accomplish the objectives. In other words - there's a lot of heli-mopping going on! The greatest increase has been since 2001.Perhaps this is, in part, a response to past fatality fires and changes in how we fight fire today.
  2. A significant percentage of the tactical use flight time, and cost, can be attributed to heli-mopping - often with Type 1 helicopters.
  3. A majority of the crews / individuals utilizing heli-drops are deficient in effectively communicating target locations, identifying targets and directing drops. Most do not have signal mirrors or ground panels to pinpoint target locations. As a result, mission coordination is often confusing, time consuming and more costly than it should be.
  4. Some crews are not acquainted with, or trained in the use of alternative mop-up techniques and equipment. i.e. gravity sock systems, use of pyramid tanks / baby hose and other collapsible tanks - some delivered by helicopter.
  5. Many aerial drops "violate" the principles of good risk management and the "Twelve Standard Aviation Watch Out Questions." Most frequently violated are:
    • #1 Is this flight necessary? Often not - alternative methods could be planned and used. i.e. backpack pump, fold-a-tanks, pyramid tanks and collapsible freestanding tanks with baby hose, gravity sock/hose systems - and good ole dry mop.
    • #5 Is there a better way to do it? Often times, yes. See #1 above.
    • #7 Can you justify your action? Often times the answer is no- not when safer, more effective and less costly means are available.
  6. Assessment of the potential for fire escape has not been done, or if it has, and there is minimal potential for escape, the drop has been ordered anyway.
  7. Some Operations personnel plan heli-mopping in their daily action plan as a standard operating procedure.

Although Fire Managers Incident IC / Operation and ATGSs have tried to address the "heli-mopping issue" it continues to be widespread, even by many hot shot crews and other highly trained firefighters. Unfortunately, some Operation Section Chiefs and Division Group Supervisors, when the practice is brought to their attention, fail to do anything about it.

The Consequences

  1. Increased exposure (to accidents) of pilots flying in the high risk low level "dead man's curve" environment.
  2. Significant increase in costs to accomplish the objective.
  3. Overall significant increase in aviation resource costs.
  4. Increased risk to ground personnel who direct the drop and fail to clear the drop zone.
  5. Unnecessary and poor use of pilot duty / flight time.
  6. To read the rest click HERE
5/11 R-4 Helitack Guy,

Thanks for writing to TheySaid. I'm glad that people have not quit trying
to learn from Cramer.

Kelly Close gave a presentation at the 2005 Safety Summit entitled "Fire
Behavior vs. Human Behavior: Why the Lessons from Cramer Matter." It's
available online at: www.myfirecommunity.net/documents/Close.pdf (pdf file)

I personally hope (as I keep learning myself) that Alan Hackett gets another
chance. Maybe at the start of next season when his 18-month exile is up,
somebody in the USFS with an AFMO job opening will hire him back. In a
reasonably solid fire program where he wouldn't again be set up to fail, I
believe he would do well. And, I believe he'd show his leadership qualities
by sharing lessons to keep our other ICs from walking in his shoes.

A couple years ago I was at a banquet where the Fiddlin' Foresters brought
the house down with "Cold Missouri Waters." To me, what makes those lyrics
so tragically powerful is that there was no redemption on this earth for Wag
Dodge. I pray for something different for Alan.

vfd cap'n
5/11 Ab & Chuck,

I’ve been looking for the two documents below related to a request from researcher J. Thackaberry. In hopes either FireNet or They Said readers have access to these, I’m putting this request out to the masses:

-1965 (or so) safety training manual that included training on the fire orders which eventually became Standards for Survival;
-1957 Fire Control Notes article by McArdle with the original list of 10 Standard Fire Orders.

Readers, if anyone has these, or knows where they can be accessed, please route this information back through the facilitators of these two sites and I’ll send it on its way to Dr. Thackaberry…. If you do, we both thank you.

Shari Downhill
5/11 FPA is a complete Joke, at least as it stands now. Maybe 5 years down the
road when they get the bugs worked out, it "might" work, but as of now,
it's totally unworkable. And fortunately I won't be around to see it.

5/11 Mellie,

My take is that this (FPA) is a test to see if the wildland fire agencies
can handle the shift towards interagency planning, budgeting, and
reporting. I believe if the agencies can make that cultural shift that fire
will be allowed to remain where it is.

If the agencies simply can't handle interagency life (technically,
administratively we have the ability- but can we learn to think "our
federal engines" not "my X agency engine") I think Congress/OMB/someone
will say- well if you can't play nice in the sandbox together then we'll
take your toys away.

I do believe it is logical for the powers that fund wildland fire to ask-
How many fires were there? How many acres of fuels were treated? How many
engines exist? Up until now you would have to go to 5 different agencies
and then add the numbers together. Some Washington DC people trust NFPORS
more than a field officer. They believe what you are entering is accurate
and complete and the latest information. Personally, I am not yet sold on
FPA though I'm learning about it and preparing diligently for it. I am
unsure of the future of the wildland fire organization but I'll be around
to see it happen.

Personal opinions only....
5/11 The Ukonom Handcrew would like to wish our Superintendent, John Gibbons, a
Happy 56th Birthday today May 11, 2005. 365 days left to go John.

Good Luck and Thanks.

-Ukonom Handcrew

5/11 Ab,

Used to work an engine on the Angeles N.F. in Southern California... been awhile
now working elsewhere, and back again to wildland firefighting.

Can't for the life of me remember this little "hotshot" trick my AFEO taught me for
lacing up my boots so they wouldn't get loose if they came untied.

Do you have any recollection of such a thing or know of someone I can talk to
who does?


5/11 My Favorite Mom & Fire Story

One day in my teen age years before I started fighting fires I was listening to a folk song titled "On Top of Old Smokey". My Mom came in to the room and wiped a tear from her eye. She said "Your Dad was whistling that song when he finally came in from those big fires of 1951 (No 14-day policy back then). I heard him for the longest time before he made the corral."

Dad was Fire Control Officer (FCO) on the Covelo District of the Mendocino National Forest. He was leading his stock string back to the barn at the old Ranger Station on the bluff overlooking the confluence on the forks of the Eel River. The date was September 17 and the rains had started, the crews were coming in, at last. It was his birthday that day.

Les and Arlie Mae Clark just celebrated their 55th anniversary and Dad told that story at the party. I was born on May 14, 1952. Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad; Two of the finest parents any fireman can have.

L. Dean Clark

5/11 I've been doing wildland firefighting for 6 years, started on a engine crew now doing helitack. I have been reading posts here for over a year and this is my first time throwing my 2 cents worth in so here it goes. I've read a lot of posts about ic liability after the Cramer tragedy and the simple truth of all of it is that the Cramer IC failed in his leadership duties, as others have in the past, and 2 good men died so I have to ask myself "Would I want to work under an IC like that?"...Nope, personally I think he should have gotten more than he did. So now we got people saying that ICs need a lawyer on the team...BullS%&#. Use Leadership Skills, Traits & Training. The Wildland Community needs to adopt the U.S. Army's leadership Philosophies & Training.

I have looked over the Wildland Firefighter Foundation website and was compelled to make this point. In 2003, 8 contract firefighters were killed in a van accident while returning to their home station from the South Fork Fire in Central Idaho. Before the accident members of this crews were seen in purchasing beer during stops along the way home, ok here's where the red flag flies. What was the crews supervisor thinking when this was happening? Yea he showed terrific leadership all the way up to the point when the driver of his van tried to pass another vehicle on a double yellow line and went head on with an oncoming semi. Now I have a hard time thinking that this act of stupidity could be considered an "In the line Duty" accident that resulted in 8 deaths, and 2 serious injuries not to mention that it endangered any others that were on that road home at the time.

Its time people in wildland firefighting take a hard look at "Leadership", learn it, preach it, practice it and Live it!

To those who will be out there on the fireline this year, lets be safe, look out for one another and bring everyone home alive and safe. For all the wildland groupies...nevermind its not worth saying.

R4 Helitack Guy

I agree that LEADERSHIP needs to be practiced every moment. In the second case I want to clarify, however, that alcohol did not play a part in those deaths. It's too bad alcohol was bought when it was during ONE stop, but alcohol is not what caused the accident. The alcohol found in their systems was shown to be no more than that resulting from normal decomposition processes. The driver of the van had passed a vehicle and was trying to get back over to his side. People make errors in judgment while driving every day. That's likely what happened in this case and the result was tragic. I doubt the accident had anything to do with failure of leadership. Undoubtedly it had everything to do with being human. We would need lots more information to ascribe blame, information we will never have. And AARs are about what, not who, if I remember correctly. Thanks for the opportunity to correct your misperceptions. I hope you'll write in again. Ab.

5/10 Happy 100th Birthday to the California Department of Forestry! I know, it was yesterday, but I didn’t realize it until last night. It looked like a fitting ceremony at Sacramento from what I saw on the tv news. It’s interesting to me that the USFS celebrated their centennial only a week before CDF. Even though I worked for CDF outt'a Whitethorn in 1971, I wasn't aware they dated so far back. Then again, being a rookie on an engine crew, I really didn't learn much more than which way to point the dang nozzle.

Getting hired by CDF in 1971 was a little simpler than now days. One day I was hitchhiking back to Fortuna from Scotia, where I'd been sitting waiting to be hired at the Pacific Lumber Company, and was picked up by a CDF employee. He said he'd just quit to go back to school and that if I wanted work I should stop by the CDF office in Fortuna. I had him drop me off there and went in to get an application. After completing the application, the front desk immediately sent me back to a Ranger who gave me an impromptu interview. It consisted of just three questions; will you cut your hair? Do you have any boots? Are you allergic to poison oak? I replied yes, I’ll get some, and just a little.

The interview happened at around 10:00 am, I was employed by 14:00 pm (wearing some new, cheap, stiff boots and a buzz cut) and meeting my Captain and crew by around 6:00 pm. I have fond memories of that summer. Happy 100th Birthday CDF!

Original Ab.

PS: I never grew my hair long again, learned to hate Redwings, and suffered only one moderate case of poison oak.
5/10 With all of the great discussion about a national wildland fire service, I think it is pretty ironic that no one has mentioned what may happen if fire is ever forced to take a hard look at its current organizational structure and compete under an A-76 study (competitive sourcing / outsourcing).

I feel it’s pretty ironic. The fire program is funding so many other functions through cost pools, rake offs, and redirection of funding… What would the most efficient organization (MEO) look like (fire and other functions) after an A-76 competition in fire? How, under the MEO, would these cost pools, rake offs, and redirection of funding happen then? They wouldn't.

The very highest levels of the land management agencies, who sit on their hands as A-76 studies are being done, should really take a hard look at the fire program. Through mismanagement, and the lack of leadership asking the tough questions and working towards a correct answer, they are going to lose the fire program one way or the other…. unless rapid and unconventional steps are taken for change. The ball is in all of our courts now, time for the leaders to step up, ask the tough questions, think outside the box and provide some unconventional answers.

5/10 WOW,

Thanks everyone! I'll have time to practice up.

I haven't seen the video of the foresters fiddling.

Brandy (Ab, you can send this on to Capo. Thx.)

5/10 Brandy... my favorite guitar cords


Ab, you can give her my email I have an old cd. There is a newer version in which
he corrected the Mann Gulch location to western MT (rather than central) and made
one other little wording change, but my extra cd is good and great to sing along with.


5/10 Brandy,

Title is "Cold Missouri Waters". Hope you've had a chance to see the video
of the Forest Service's "Fiddlin' Foresters". They do a great job.

Search the web and you can find the lyrics and chords/tabs for it.

Old Fire Guy
5/10 Brandy,

The song name is Cold Missouri Waters. It is performed by various artists
and available for purchase at amazon.com. Some of the CD's have the lyrics
in the package. Hope that helps.

From Amazon it's on the James Keelaghan CD "Then Again".

Also, the sheet music, lyrics, and history behind the song can be purchased at:


5/10 The song is titled "Cold Missouri Waters" by James Keelaghan ( a Canadian). He may have it on an album of his own. My copy is on a Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky, and Richard Shindell album titled "Cry, Cry, Cry" 1998 Razor and Tie Entertainment 7930182840-2
POBox 585, Cooper Station NY 10276

5/10 Brandy - you're looking for "Cold Missouri Waters" by James Keelaghan

Artists bio

Words & Music

I found it on Limewire. Ab used to have a link to it in the they
Said Archives but that was pre-Napster lawsuit days. But its out

5/10 Brandy -

The song you're looking for is "Cold Missouri Waters." You can find the
lyrics a number of places on the web... here's one:


Various people have recorded it; the most recent I'm aware of (and my
favorite) is by Cry, Cry, Cry, comprised of Richard Shindell, Lucy
Kaplansky, and Dar Williams. It's a CD well worth the money.

- K
5/10 King Handheld Training

I am scheduled to provide handheld radio training at the San Diego County
Wildland Fire exercise in two weeks and though I've provided this training
in the past I'm trying to update my information and provide a more
comprehensive training program. So, I'm looking around for any and all
training material for the Bendix-King handheld radios that you or others
may have.

Of course when I'm finished the presentation will be available to anyone
who is interested.

Thank you,

John N. Hudson III, Assistant Chief
OES Telecommunications, Southern Region.
858-268-5436 Office.

5/10 Does anyone have the music and lyrics to that Mann Gulch song that was
written from Wag Dodge's point of view? I can't remember the song name
or the artist. Also if anyone knows where I could listen to it. I have a new
small guitar...


5/10 Dear Ab

I've been reading your posts about mothers and I thought I would write.

I would like to express a lot of gratitude to a very special woman who I'm very lucky to have as my mother. I think a lot of you know who she is and the type of woman she is, so I wont go into a whole lot of detail, but I wanted to tell her what a GREAT MOTHER she has been, not only to me but to all of my friends and yours.

If  someone needed a ... walking, talking, swishing, hugging, supporting, charismatic, laughing, crying, teasing, silly, grand-mothering, serious, really listening ... definition of unconditional LOVE - not only loving her own family but loving this whole wildland fire community - the definition would be Vicki Minor.

happy mothers day mom!
with love, your son!

Hear, Hear. Ab.

5/10 Mom Stories relating to fire

This is as close of a mom story relating to fire as I can get, but I have always gotten a kick out of this.

I was working on the Bull Bay Fire during the '98 Florida firestorms. One afternoon someone let a newspaper photographer on our division. I was on a Type 6 engine and we were just doing some mop-up. I turned around and there was this huge camera lens stuck in my face and he was asking questions about who I was and where I was from etc. etc. While I was answering his questions we got called to get around to the division break and help out with some flare ups. I never saw him again and didn't get to ask what paper he was with, had I found out I would have bought one the next day. Anyway, about three days later I got the opportunity to call home. I called my wife and she said that she had found out that I was just fine so she hadn't been to concerned about my well being. The day before my mom had called her and told her that she had seen me and I was "upright and well fed". Come to find out the photographer had been associated press and the pictures he had taken went nationwide. My picture had wound up in my hometown paper and my Mom had found it first and started calling everyone. To this day my Mom still has that picture stuck in a scrapbook along with a few others. She still thinks I'm crazy due to my career choice, but always tells everyone how proud she is to be a firefighter's mom.


5/10 Mom Stories relating to fire

Here's a Mom story from another point of view. Matt was on the crew at Cabin lake in Central Oregon in 1995. Our church was having a potluck at Paulina Lake on the Sunday of Labor Day and since it was so close, Matt joined our family and had a great lunch. Then as he headed back to work he asked the rest of us to come see where he had spent the summer...his fire home. It was late afternoon as six of us piled into our old Toyota Land Cruiser and began the ten mile trip through the pumice and red gravel road to Cabin Lake. As we rounded a wide corner we were suddenly faced with a green FS buggy full of determined fire fighters on a mission. Thankfully, we were able to give them the entire road since that was what their speed required. As the dust settled we realized that we wouldn't see Matt at Cabin Lake....he had been the grinning driver of the big green box which had nearly run us off the road. We finally turned around and looked behind us to see the enormous plume of the Paulina Lake fire, but the green rig was long gone.

Sarah Larson

5/10 Please be praying for US Forest Service Firefighter Gina Zalundaro. She has
been missing since Saturday, May, 7 at 1800. Gina was at Lake Shasta,
California with a group of Oregon State University students and disappeared
Saturday evening. Please pray that she be found and for comfort for her
family and friends. Gina previously worked on the Ochoco National Forest
and is to be a member of the Union Hotshot Crew this season.

Thank you,
Dan Fiorito

Will do, Dan. Ab.

5/10 Mom Stories relating to fire

My favorite mom story happened in 1987. The team I was on was assigned to a fire near my old home town. It was about day 7 into the fire when I stopped at the check-in road block to camp and was handed a package. Looking in the brown paper bag I felt my face flush as the camp slug who handed me the package started laughing... My mother had dropped of three pairs of tighty whities (underwear) and several pairs of socks with a note to be careful... By the time I reached the command parking area and walked to the briefing it became obvious that the camp slug at the road block had shared the purpose of my mother's visit with others.

My second favorite story happened just two months ago. My mom passed away in 2003 and my father wanted me to help him go through her things... I wasn't ready to do that until March of this year. Sitting in my father's living room I opened a box he had handed me. Inside of the box was newspaper articles of fires I had been on since 1972 and several fire line maps I had given her. My mother was hesitant with my career choice and had given constant admonishments to be careful. She never was a mother who got mushy with words and I can't recall her ever telling me she approved of my choice or how proud she was of it. However, going through the box of maps and newspapers I could tell she must have accepted my choice and I would like to think she was proud of her eldest son.


5/10 BLMgirl,

So you're saying that there already seems to be movement toward a single federal Fire Service Agency? Do you think there is a hidden agenda on someone's part? Alternatively, do you think it's a logical progression expressing the changing need for this day and age? Good business? Is it a step in a conscious restructuring plan or one of those organic progressions we will finally come to recognize and formalize?

Does anyone know if there are any federal think-tank groups of fire professionals that are consciously looking at the future structure of fire -- as in looking at the pros and cons of a variety of possible alternative organizations? For example,

  • centralizing fire but keeping it within the various agencies vs
  • drawing fire from FS/BLM/NPS/FWS/DOD and creating a single fed agency vs
  • completely contracting fire out.

I think someone wrote in several weeks ago (when I was off on a training or trip) that we should look at the implications of changing the structure of the fire organization. Discussion has occurred here, I'm just wondering if fire professionals at the higher organizational levels are making similar evaluations. Seems to me we need to have info on the implications of different possible structures, especially if it seems we're already moving on a trajectory.

On another note, I've heard repeatedly and from a variety of testing sources that the new finance software that all agencies are using under FPA has serious and ominous glitches relating to "production" that are likely inherent in the software program itself and may be uncorrectable. From what I understand the software makes it look like all fire problems can be solved with water... <slaps knee while laughing out loud> No brainer, right! And yet we know how hard that resource is to come by in the non-rainy season here in the West! Engines and miles of hose lays that magically show up in remote areas... Implications anyone???


5/10 With all the talk on a federal fire service I am amazed that I haven't heard of the one acronym that is impacting so many of us... FPA anyone?

Fire Program Analysis is only in phase 1 with the Initial Attack (HA and PM) part of fire being considered but consider what phase 2 looks at: Extended Attack, Program Support, etc. Everything in FPA is looked at for interagency budgeting.

Maybe I'm only thinking of it since it is starting to take over my work life (I'm not fire fighting so it's cool) but my gut instinct is that since Congress is demanding FPA, demanding interagency budgets, demanding NFPORS (National Fire Program Operating Reporting System?)- they are essentially demanding interagency enterprise software solutions that work the same across board. So our budgets and reporting systems are all moving towards being the same... and what makes an agency? Budgeting, reporting, and management - 2 out of 3 so far.

Too young to know any better,

p.s. Mom Stories relating to fire

My favorite mom story- I was at ICP in fire camp when I called my mom to let her know where I was and how to get ahold of me- She sighed and said, "One daughter off on a fire, the other fighting a war (Afghanistan), and my son is sitting at home programming computers- I don't know where I went wrong." We gave her fire and war t-shirts for Christmas that year :-)

5/10 Hey-

Our fire crew here at the University of Wisconsin-RF campus had got its first call, since the program started 10 years ago, this past Thursday (5/5) for the Cottonville Fire in Central Wisconsin. And, I would just like to say a few things about it. I was thoroughly amazed by the organization and sense of team when I arrived at the IC. Learning about it in class and seeing it for the first time are two completely different things. Everybody there was extremely friendly and willing to help, from Frank on the dozer to George on the engine. This will be a first time experience that I, for sure, and I'm pretty sure the rest of the guys on the crew won't forget. I'm amazed by what you firefighters do. Keep up the good work.

Crew Leader P.W.

5/10 Federal Supply Service

GSA Federal Supply Service (FSS) provides federal customers with the products,
services, and programs to meet their supply, service, procurement, vehicle purchasing
and leasing, travel and transportation, and personal property management requirements.

5/9 Retired L.A.V.E.

Federal Supply Schedule


5/9 Attached is from the 5/5/05 Cottonville Fire in WI.

Cottonville Fire, crowning

Steve C.

Nice one. Ab.

5/9 I want to know...

What do the initials FSS stand for on some equipment I see?

Retired L.A.V.E.

5/9 Ab,

What a special day last Monday was in Boise for my daughter and me, as we attended the unveiling of the statue at the airport. By making that trip, I was hoping to see some of the places and meet the people who had been so supportive to my son (Matt Taylor) during his illness. I was certainly not disappointed. The statue, the wildland firefighter monument, the National Interagency Fire Center, and even the wall of T-Shirts, gave me a deeper awareness of who my son worked with and why he loved his work. I was honored at last to meet the personalities behind the generous Wildland Firefighter Foundation; Vickie and her staff, Mellie, and numerous others who simply show up when firefighter families are in need. Do you even know what a blessing you are?!

Sarah Larson

Ain't it great to have people who get involved. Anyone can do it: Wildland Firefighter Foundation, donating is easy.
Photos of Boise Airport WFF Monument event. Thanks photo contributors. If anyone has more to share, send 'em in. Ab.

5/9 I'm beginning to think this is the wettest drought on record
for the Pacific North West...<grin>


5/9 Joatmon,

I hate to be the one to say this but in the area I work a 3 bed 2 bath is about $350,000. I have tried to get seasonal FF from the local area to come to work. 2 of these kids told me no because they are going to work for CDF they make about what an AFEO GS-6 gets WOW!!!!

I know money is tough all the way around but if the USFS does not try to help us out with some kind of raise we are never going to be able to keep anyone around after we spend $30,000 on training for them!!! PLUS all of us who are to old to start over are going to have to get second jobs!!!!!!

5/9 Anyone out there experienced in dealing with a leave of absence from the Forest Service?
I would appreciate some advice from someone with more experience than I have. Ab,
could you link any volunteers to my email address?



Will copy and paste their message to you. Ab.

5/8 Mom Stories relating to fire

I thought it might be time for some fun!! It is time to lighten-up a bit. We will all be more than busy enough soon enough!!!!!!!

My best moment with my Mom and is fire related was about 20 years ago when I was assigned to a wildfire between 1-82 and the frontage road that ran next to us south of Kennewick, Washington.

Our engine approached the incident from the frontage road and were assigned the hot flank/head of the fire as the fire was running South at a pretty good clip.

We attached with 1 1/2" hose on steep ground and worked our way up the hill to the freeway about 200 yards above us. We got the fire stopped and then the real hard work GROAN (mop-up) began.

Worked the fire for about a half-hour of so and stopped to take a break at the top and noticed a car with familiar plates (all the traffic was stopped North bound for miles, the flames had been laying over the freeway).

By this time I was nice and dirty from hose work, dirt, soot, and smoke, you know the drill. Walked over and knocked on the window, pretty lady rolled the window down, her nose crinkled up from the smell of the fire and Oh Boy did she get a surprise when I lean in and gave her a big KISS and told her I loved her. HI MOM!! You should have seen the look on her face as she didn't recognize me and then did!!! Worth a $Million, that look.

Ab, I hope you get lots of stuff coming to you on this topic, we as emergency workers have got to lighten-up!!


5/8 As we fortunate folks who still have our mothers with us, honor them this day, let's also remember and say a small prayer for the mothers whose sons and daughters have been taken away. My wife lost her son suddenly and unexpectedly, I know how hard some of the holidays are to get through. Today is a BIG one!

And let's remember all the moms whose military sons and daughters have made the ultimate sacrifice, so we here at home may continue to enjoy our freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

So here's a virtual hug to all the mothers whose gatherings are not as complete as they should be today. Know that we care, know that we appreciate you, know that you are in our minds, not just today, but always.

5/8 GIzmo,

While I haven't heard anything about losing the special pay rates in SoCal, (and they probably won't...) It wouldn't be a surprise... would it? A special pay study in 2002 for NorCal forests found that the federal salary was 37% to 88% below the AVERAGE of their cooperators from the Senior FF level to DFMO.

What do ya think NorCal got?

Well heck, GS-5 and 6 folks were told they could become 18 & 8 employees ....sweeeeet. That'll pay the bills huh? There was something about the use of retention bonuses too....BWAAAHAHAHAHAHA! Please somebody pinch me...

Real estate in NorCal has increased 200 to 300% since 2001(average 3 bed, 2 bath home in 2001= $140,000... now in 2005=$300,000 and in most places, even more...)

So.... to answer your other question: yes, we are that underpaid, and no, we can't afford homes. AND IT'S OBVIOUS. Makes USFS seem like the poor choice if you're looking at a fire career in California, doesn't it?

Recruitment, Retention, and Relocation?.....hey, we get what we pay for.

Whew, I think I need a nap.

5/8 Commercial web page with images of the Cottonville fire in WI:



Nice photos. Ab.

5/8 Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there. Ab.
5/8 I heard something about the Southern California special salary rates going away....

Anyone got the scoop on why, how, and if the agencies are fighting for it or
against it? Does this affect other areas in the country?

Does this mean that wildland firefighters have lost another battle?.... how does
this affect recruitment and retention nationwide?... How does this affect other
areas who have been looking at various OPM authorities to improve the the
three R's... Recruitment. Retention, and Relocation as emphasized by OPM?
Are wildland firefighters so underpaid, that they cannot even own a house in
the areas that they work and protect?

5/8 Hey Lobotomy,

Read what you said. Way to go. I was watching the local news the other night and in Missoula, MT they were having a debate on whether to log dead and dying trees or not. Well one tree hugger got up and told the viewing public that dead trees have more bark on them then live trees. They are also able to slow fire better then live trees. They do not burn as quickly. Bull SH*T!!!!

Gee I also thought they were death trap snags. Like you said lives cannot be replaced, but natural resources, like trees, can. The biggest problem is we are caught between two different groups who do not give a ratsbutt about the fire fighter, but a tree.
Pretty sad.

Prez. of a Fire Company
5/7 Don Studebaker's Memorial Service...

I want to say thanks to Rich Hawkins and all involved for the really fine tributes to Don and
celebration of his life. I think his memorial service was far-and-away the most impressive
and heart warming Forest Service event I've ever attended, bar none. Nice comments from
all. Kent C pulled off an amazing wonderful 3-minute tribute to Don.

Honor Guard, you do us proud!

Not a dry eye that I could see. We all be missing a good man.

Tahoe Terrie

5/7 re: promoting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Ok, there was a bit of discussion on this a few days or two ago, but I just found the document I was looking for and I've been busy the last few days. This is probably not as much for the fire fighter on the ground but more for the fire info, prevention folks or those involved with public meetings on a large incident.

How often have you been asked by John Q. Public as to what they can do for the firefighters or something to that effect? It doesn't get any better than that for an open invitation to push the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. I believe it has been posted here before, but I've attached a document that was used in Montana in 2003 for just this type of situation.

<< www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2005/i_can_help_firefighters.doc >>


Thanks Pulaski, very nice. I remember this from 2003. All teams should have stacks of these available for public meetings. The public needs to be invested in keeping their homes fire safe and many people would love to help. I revised this sheet with the Foundation's more recent street address and website info. Ab.

5/7 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
5/7 Re Don Studebaker's Memorial Service:

Wildland Firefighter Foundation, thank you for the Fallen Wildland Firefighter statue
for Don's family. I like that it came from all wildland firefighters.

Ray Quintanar, thanks for doing the honors of presenting it. The memorial service for
Don was perfect from beginning to end. It was good to share it in the presence of old

Here's to a great fireman!

5/7 Today's (yesterday's) memorial service for Don Studebaker, retired CNF Deputy FMO and Nat'l IC, was an extremely moving experience. Along with Don's immediate family, friends and co-workers, an estimated 500 active and retired fire service personnel were in attendance. These good folks traveled from near and far, with solid representation from various federal, state and local government fire agencies and departments.

It was truly overwhelming to hear the outpouring of fond remembrances and kind words shared by those speaking during the service. I can attest that the feelings expressed were mutual among the attendees who knew Don. Many a tear was shed, many an old acquaintance was renewed, and many a good story was told as we all gathered to pay tribute to a man who was an important part of so many people's career and/or life experiences.

The US Forest Service Honor Guard accompanied by their bagpiper opened the service by posting the colors, followed by emcee CNF Chief Rich Hawkins reading Don's obituary:

Don was born in Seattle, WA, to Marvin Franklin and Nina Irvin Studebaker. His father was a Lt. Commander in the Navy during WWII and the Korean War. Don had the privilege of living in many places during his lifetime including: Virginia, South Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California and Japan. Don graduated from Crawford H.S. in 1966 and graduated from San Diego S.U. in 1979 with a Bachelors Degree in Geography.

He served in the Vietnam War from 1969-1971, as an Army Ranger Detachment specializing in Infrared Field Surveillance. During the war he was injured when his helicopter was shot down. He received an award for his service to his country. Upon returning home, he continued his work with the Forest Service until the day he retired on Dec. 31, 2004. In 1977 he met his beloved Ann. They married 1-1/2 years later and he acquired not only a wife but a 3-year old daughter Robin whom he loved as his own. They went on to have three more children, Candace, Ian and Andrew.

Don was a man of many hobbies including fly fishing, taking his family on camping trips to Red's Meadow, coaching his children's sports teams, scouting, stained glass, photography, growing orchids, carpentry, restoring antique Studebaker cars, flying sports kites, computers, and Indian dancing. He had a great love of Native American art and had an extensive Kachina collection. Don started a lucrative new business in Incident Management Training, teaching classes all over the country. He felt retirement gave him the chance to still participate in the fire community and time to pursue his other passions.

Among the highlights of his life was serving on National Incident Command Teams for the last 21 years of his career and seeing his son Andrew attain the rank of Eagle Scout in March. On the day that he passed away he remarked to a neighbor when asked about his retirement "Every day is a Saturday" "Retirement is a dream." His family takes solace in knowing that when he passed he was a very content and happy man who had accomplished every goal he had ever set for himself.

A powerful lineup of speakers then chronicled their experiences working with, for and alongside Don. The thoughts and stories expressed by these individuals came from the heart and were wrought with emotion.

A video presentation of Don's infamous "IC's Closing Comments" from the Eyerly Complex elicited both admiration and applause from the audience. This was followed by a showing of a power point program that Don personally concocted for his retirement party last February. This featured photos of Don throughout his life from the early years up until his last day in the office. Set to music personally selected by Don, it was extremely powerful.

"Leadership in the Words of Don Studebaker", the focus of Don's acceptance speech when he received the Cal Yarbrough Award as "R5 Division Chief of the Year" in 2001 was printed on the memorial service program and also reviewed with the audience:

Listen to the people you work with. Remember, the further you are removed from the tasks on the ground, reality tends to pale and fade from your memory.
Empower subordinates and allow them to spread their wings.
Achieve your goals and help those that work for you achieve theirs.
Demonstrate by being a role model. Lead by example. Show them how.
Encourage others to achieve and reach to a higher standard.
Responsive of the needs of your people and the organization.
Share what you know.
Help others to meet their expectations.
Inspire. Lead and others will follow.
Prepare your people to succeed.

Presentations were made to Ann Studebaker and the family including a Fallen Firefighter Statue, Angel and Prayer Quilt.

The Honor Guard then re-entered and conducted the folding of the US Flag with a presentation of the flag to Ann and the family. This was followed by the "Last Call" Bell Ceremony.

A short prayer was read followed by a few closing remarks. The Studebaker family was then escorted outdoors along a covered walkway lined by at least 200 uniformed firefighters, an awe-inspiring sight if there ever was one. Upon gathering outside, the family and those in attendance viewed a red-lights procession of USFS-CNF engines, crew carriers, water tenders and support vehicles. Shortly afterward two Type II fire helicopters concluded the program by flying by from east to west with sirens wailing. At the last moment, one peeled off to the south as they passed overhead. Very touching to say the least.

I will never forget Don Studebaker and today's memorial service doubly reinforces that fact.

Everything was conducted with reverence and the utmost in taste. "A BIG THANK YOU" goes out to everyone who donated, organized and participated this special event!


5/7 Talk about your Swiss Cheese Model:

A centralized fire organization on a forest ordered by the Regional
Forester, through the acting Forest Supervisor, to take fire back under 5
diverse experienced District Rangers (DRs) ranging from none to some experience.
If you can manage a Mc Donalds you can manage fire; managing is
managing doesn't matter what, right? DRs are never on unit, throw e-mail
away while proudly telling that's how they manage to keep the in-box clean,
don't know what's going on in their district anyway never mind keeping up
with changes in fire or safety, their sights are on paper cut safety. At
transition meeting when Cramer criminal charges were brought up, one ranger
said "Cramer, Cramer what's Cramer? (character on Seinfield perhaps being
their only reference point, sure didn't read any of the reports?)

Very few are inclined to go toward burning danger - most run away from it.
It takes a lot of knowledge, skill, ability, learning, practice, experience
and confidence to run towards it.

The Forest Service hasn't done anything to "grow" rangers since they rode
horseback with a gun, the agency" functionalized". What a joke to have
most of them in charge of something they don't "get", understand, don't
have time for nor want the responsibility of. Perhaps they're even incapable
personally of learning fire since they can't lower themselves to get dirty,
take classes, can't humble themselves to admit they don't know that they
don't know - but that GS-way lower than them knows, must be quite
embarrassing. Yet they are in charge and are happy to tell you so.

Let fire "functionalize" right out of this agency before more time is
wasted, more folks are injured or worse. It takes many years of training
and experience to get those red carded ratings, compare that to 4 years of
school studying landscape architect.

5/7 Yactak: You have me partially pegged right: I spent my last few years with the agency in the puzzle palaces far from the ground. (More than a few times I saw money flying at those levels and thought, "And we used to worry about buying a box of pencils???")

Anyway, my point is that fire is very tightly integrated within the Forest Service and it is generally cheaper to run one agency than two. The FS is good for fire, and fire is good for the FS. In management team and ID team meetings, I've seen fire folks provide valuable insight into far more than just their fire specialty. And I've noticed that the best I-can-figure-out-how-to-get-it-done employees are the ones who also stay trained and available for fire assignments.

Although I like your idea of having a food unit leader to run district barbecues, my point is that there are positions in the incident organization that don't require people to be fire operations qualified (indeed some jobs are better done, or even must be done, by people with other professions). I don't know if it's possible to calculate how many fire dollars are saved by having non-fire folks available to fill positions on an as-need basis. Unfortunately, I've seen a certain big fire region seem to go out of its way to alienate the militia, and now has people pointing to a self-fulfilling prophecy and saying, "see, I told you we couldn't count on the militia."

I can understand why career fire folks could get extremely frustrated with some of the dimwits that have passed into management and then try to micromanage fire. To some extent, the past was better when your ability with fire was linked to your advancement in line positions. We could partially return to that by requiring more fire training and experience for anyone gunning to be a line officer -- no, not necessarily operations positions, but something that would make them see first-hand how the agency can support fire rather than muddle.

My point with the SCBA was the concern that all-risk would become all-consuming. Look how much extra money the Park Service has floating around (yeah, I'm kidding) as it tries to provide all services within the Parks. And I have seen counties provide less law enforcement when FS law enforcement began to expand.

And no price-tag can be placed on the value of FS fire research and relations to state and local fire organizations through State and Private Forestry.

Still Out There (Way Out There) As An AD
5/7 Ok fire folks,

About the National fire service: i hear there might be another clue that were moving that way, the other day i was looking at the AFF (automated flight following) site and happened to notice that most of the fire resources on the Bitterroot NF were equipped with this equipment. Ok think of this. when there is a fire say Butte Mt. some one can pull this info up and see what resources are near and then dispatch them to the fire????? this was quick interesting seeing this technology is great. I think that in the next few years all fire resources will be equipped with this technology. I think that the National Fire Service is nearer than we think?

5/6 This came in a few days ago but got spam filtered. Rick sends out bulletins to readership associated with the Southern California Chaparral Field Institute. This is an excerpt from his most recent bulletin. Ab.

Don Studebaker, Retired Deputy Fire Chief for the Cleveland National Forest, died last week (April 24) of a heart attack. Don was a tremendously respected and well liked leader who will be sorely missed.

I had the pleasure of meeting Don on two occasions. The first time was over a glass of fine wine supplied and poured by a good friend who fortuitously also happens to be the Forest Service’s unofficial wine connoisseur. The three of us had discreetly left an official function to meet in the back parking lot for a session of wine tasting and conversation. It didn’t take long for me to realize Don was a special someone I really needed to spend time with if I ever wanted to understand wildland fire. He was a wealth of information and was selfless in his desire to help and encourage me in the work I was doing. This all showed clearly at a wildland fire convention last October. I had just given a presentation on chaparral when Don stood up in the back of the room and told the crowd some pretty nice things about me. You see, I knew next to nothing about fire until I jumped into the topic after the 2003 southern California firestorms. Don had read and listened to all the things I said from the very beginning when my lack of experience showed to a time when I was finally starting to get it straight. He said that I was beginning to get a good handle on things and was proud of what I had accomplished. I’ll never forget that moment. You don’t expect that kind of thoughtfulness in such a setting, but it reflected who Don was. People don’t usually don’t take the time to do that. He was willing to help others and do whatever he could to inspire a greater understanding of the important work wildland firefighters do so well. I so wish we had had another chance to have another glass of wine before he left.

Rick Halsey

5/6 Still Out There as an AD: 

Not sure if you have peeked inside the agency lately …..
  • We currently own and maintain our SCBA gear. A local physician who certifies the county also certify our folks medically during their "required for other reasons" twice a year physicals. The SCBAs are certified and repaired by the same individual who does the county. Let's see …we have had SCBAs for around 10 years now and the neighboring counties still maintain their required level of outfitting commensurate with their jurisdictional responses.
  • We are paying HUGE cost pool dollars now supposedly for admin and other support yet the on the ground fire folks are required to complete all of our own administrative "stuff".
  • Can't remember the last time any 'project" dollars were available besides fuels… and that has come back just recently. Fire has been funding other functions of late. Also not sure which planet you are on …. I have never seen staff here worry one lick about keeping the "fire folks" on … unless it is with fire dollars to accomplish project work…. 
  • We do our own times and administrative work now. As for food unit leaders?? When besides on an incident do you use one? District BBQ's?? Fire folks fill that role also!
  • We have very little militia now. Would be prudent in my mind to have an agency that did not rely on "part timers" in this day and age. Times have changed….
  • NEPA required environmental documentations are the responsibility of the agency and should remain so. By the way, many times we have "fire" folks help the "ologists" with the documentation or complete it anyway cause the ""ologists have other projects… and the "ologists" seem to always charge for their services anyways…… hmmmm thought that was what they were funded for….
  • I would rather pay top dollar for decent facilities than continue to function in the substandard facilities that the fine agency has us in now…. 

Still hanging in there as a Forest Service Supervisory Forestry Technician with Firefighter retirement and FIRE as the primary duty and responsibility in my PD…..


5/6 Re All Risk Separate Fire Agency

As I’ve said before, I support a wildland firefighter series and standardization between agencies. I also think it would be wise for agencies with relatively small fire programs to go to the larger agencies for coverage rather than maintaining a bunch of small federal fire programs. And, although the rest of this message may sound like it, I’m not against prudent use of SCBA since I’ve been on fires where people have been exposed to hazardous fire gasses. But I think what so many have supported lately in the They Said will lead to a financial train wreck:

  • Go to an all-risk approach and substantially increase the costs associated with buying and maintaining the extra equipment plus increase either the training costs or pay for a certified SCBA contractor to repair and inspect breathing gear. Watch cost-strapped counties reduce their presence since the fire agency is providing this service on federal lands, thus increasing the staffing and equipment costs and reducing the flexibility to respond to wildland fires.
  • Pay all the administrative costs year-round to support the fire agency (managers, acquisition personnel, etc.).
  • Bring crews on later and lay them off earlier since no project dollars will be available. (I participated in hours of meetings where recreation, biology, and other staff officers worked their durndest to keep the hotshots on duty.)
  • Start paying the seasonal and full-time employee costs for timekeepers, food unit leaders, information officers, GIS folks, and others who used to be called on from non-fire careers to fill out a huge chuck of an incident organization. (Do you really expect to draw folks from agencies that are losing their fire culture? It might work for a few years, then what?)
  • Take on the full costs of nation-wide fire research.
  • Hire ologists, foresters, and planners to prepare the NEPA-required environmental documentation for “federal actions.".
  • Pay top dollar for buildings a million miles from where you need to be because of some GSA intervention.

Still Out There as an AD

5/6 Mellie,

Sorry I missed you in Boise. I was at the Foundation last week and was
planning to attend the ceremony with some shiny rolling stock. I was
hornswaggled into teaching a basic firefighter class for AmeriCorp staff.
Gee, nice to know SOMEBODY misses me...

5/6 Firescribe-

Thanks for the information and the links about the
fires in Wisconsin. Pretty interesting. 

I love seeing the way local TV stations cover wildland
fires. My favorite part was the reporter saying: 
"You could see the smoke billowing up into the sky,
edging up with the clouds and stuff."

5/5 From Firescribe

Wisconsin fire (20 miles S of Wisconsin Rapids)
5 homes destroyed as of 6PM; 1,400 acres; pine WUI; heard later 4,000 acres
Wildfire Spreads Quickly in Adams County includes video

Wisconsin Fire Danger

and that fire isn't the only one burning...

5/5 Abs,

In the new Ruralite magazine there's a nice article on Tom "Troop" Edmonds who was a smokejumper for 25 years. He is now inventing new tools for firefighting - one which is an improvement on the Pulaski. Interesting reading.

The Prineville Memorial walk run will be on the 4th of June this year. 5k 10k walk or run. It costs $23.00 for entry with a t-shirt included. Lots of fun. You can sign up before 8:00 at the starting point or can mail in entries to the Prineville Athletic Club (541) 447-4878 Is the phone number.

Hope to see some of you there.


KB, it was good to meet you in Boise. Glad you're part of this community. Ab.

5/5 Debbie, Rick, Mike, others from NWSA, it was nice to have a chance to talk with you at the WFF statue dedication in Boise. (Sparky, is it true you were there but we missed each other??!!)

I have a question for you all in NWSA in light of recent posts on awards...

Does NWSA award or give formal recognition to an outstanding organization and/or crew within the private sector? It seems to me that such an annual award might be in order. Professionalism and leadership are about setting the standards (values), achieving "buy in" by the member organizations/ crews, monitoring yourselves and each other (all of which I know your NWSA membership tries to do), removing members, disciplining crews, firing individuals that don't measure up, and honoring those that could be held up as an exceptional example of fire professionalism. Just an idea. Maybe you already do that and it just hasn't shown up on wildlandfire.com's Awards page yet.

On a slightly different note... I loved it that the inscription carved into the rock that is placed with the Wildland Firefighter Statue is



Thanks to Dennis Pendleton for the idea of having a larger than life wildland firefighter monument in airports across the West, to NWSA for the donations to the Foundation to "make it so", to Brit Rosso for his suggestion on wording of the inscription, and to others for reviewing the wording. The wording is perfect. The values DUTY, RESPECT, INTEGRITY represent what we are... and what we ALL aspire to!

Q-man, my R5 friend, my personal thanks for showing up and offering your personal thanks to the crews of firefighters past, future and present - SJs, IHCs, Private Sector who were there. I want one of those 8' bronze statues in a CA airport near me, but first I want the WFF optimally funded so we can insure ALL families in need can be served without financial concerns on the part of those running the WFF. We need for them to carry on as stress-free as possible and that's hard when we're always wondering if there will be enough funding to back us up through the season.

Special thanks to Vicki, Melissa, Burk and Polly for their great work on our behalf for fire families, on this statue dedication, and for shouldering the ongoing important work at the Foundation. You all are the GREATEST!

HEY READERS, all wildland firefighters and our families need you to donate to the 52 Club. Get your name on the 52 list! Better yet, get your whole organization/ crew/ family/ friends on the 52 gold list. It's human nature for prospective donors to visit the foundation site, be all positive, then go home or back to work offering few follow-up donations. We all need to BUY IN to this Foundation. It's OUR Foundation. My suggestion: write a check and take it with you. Offer it in person or leave it discreetly on a desk. It's too easy to let other priorities intrude once you leave. This Foundation is this wildland firefighter community and exists for our families' benefit. Our Foundation may appear to have deep pockets, but in the larger scheme of things it's small fry - hopefully  on the cusp of becoming bigger fry - but only if we all help by both walking the walk and by talking the talk with friends and coworkers. What amazes me is that, as foundations go, WFF has not been in existence all that long for the worlds of good it's done.

OK, so bottom line, we need more money in our WFF coffers to meet needs for this year and, heaven forbid, we all know bad things happen. When we have deaths or injuries, they often come in a flurry. The immediate drain on Foundation funding is great. We've already had some deaths and injuries this year and the heat of the season is not yet upon us. $52 a year is not much to contribute for "support insurance" for our families. Ask anyone who's gone through this... when I asked in Boise, they all told me with the same look in their eyes "You never think it will be YOU." And then they all told me the value of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

I was amazed to discover the good-ly amount of money the private sector fire organizations contribute in support of interagency fire families. Hmmmm, I wonder how many 52 club memberships the private sector provides relative to number of their employees, say, in comparison with agency 52 club memberships per number of agency employees. My analytical mind... I'm not asking that the private sector do less, but that maybe everyone else in the fire agencies could do more.

Thanks Tahoe IHC! Your crew's pledge call came in while I was in the WFF office. It made me proud! Arrowhead IHC, thanks for your continued support and outreach. Rowdy good on you for kicking all this off with the teams last year! Awesome collection of t-shirts on the wall and awesome contributions from the crews and teams from the Great Basin. ...Which 4 hotshot t-shirts are you still missing? Heh, t-shirt visitors look like they have fun. I saw some pics of Elizabeth C up on the ladder putting up one from the Modoc IHC...

Readers, stop by and check out the t-shirts when you get a chance. Drop some bills or a 52-club check in the boot.

Couple of ideas:
Anyone who has contacts or ideas for people we could contact who may make large donations or if anyone has grant-writing experience, please email me or Melissa at the WF Foundation. Any other fund-raising ideas, holler.

This summer if any members of the public you serve asks you how they can help, give them the url for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation! (www.wffoundation.org) Make sure you're on one of those mandatory work/rest breaks when you do it.

If you haven't donated, donate! If you guys want to talk with someone at the Foundation before you donate, call Burk! 208-336-2996

Thanks for listening! and acting in support! This is an awesome wildland fire community!


5/5 National Wildland Fire Service, huh?

Let’s see… Fire and resource management can’t be separated? Maybe we could have groups from within the NWFS who are responsible to assist land management agencies with their Forest Management plans (e.g. – Rx burns, Fire Use fires, etc.). Oh wait! We already do - Prescribed Fire/ Fire Use Modules. They seem to be able to move to different areas and help with Management Plans. I know they are often from the same agency. Doesn’t matter. So we CAN separate land management and fire folks while still getting the job done.

Training Guy - Your discussion refers to resource benefit/damage. Most fed, state, and local land management agencies have resource advisors, if I remember correctly. I see them every time I’m on a fire or Rx burn. We can’t all know everything. Let the resource gurus do their thing, we fire folks will do ours. We can work together. It has already been proven.

A consolidation of this magnitude would no doubt have its hiccups. But what we are doing now isn’t working. Let’s try something new. Take it slow, as Backburnfs suggested, and we can see the progress.

What are people afraid of? Losing their control? Get over it. Losing the history? It’s already written.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way!

5/5 The proposal of a National Wildland Fire and Aviation Service...sounds good TO US. Now prepare a spin so it sounds good to everyone else.

The U S Forest Service in the Dept of Interior? Sounds logical, but Bruce Babbitt knew he couldn't muster the political muscle to make it happen. The last honest president (too honest for his own good) tried it, but was shot down. Anyone care to guess that date?

So OAS/AMD, all Regional Aviation types, State Office Aviation types, Hotshot Crews, National helicopters, Airtanker Bases, Smokejumpers etc, put in a new service? OK, why?

Besides saying "the system is broken", we better have answers as to why it will work better. Better safety? Sure, all for it. But politicians (and they will be the ones to make it happen, not us) want to present a spin to the public as to why the backyards and houses (and Bambi) won't burn as much.

And this spin needs to be presented so that 'ologists OUTSIDE the agencies are for it (say, as there would be MORE prescribed burning, BETTER watershed protection, more game, better hunting, more open parks/forests/refuges, etc). The environmental groups, National Rifle Association, liberals, and gun-toting cow-wrestling skinny-dipping, snuff-chewing, tie-dye wearing four-wheeling peacenik rednecks all need to be convinced as to why it would be a good thing. Some of those groups have the ear of politicians.

But this change will not come from within agencies. None of them want to watch the best milk cow taken away. But it would PROBABLY need to be proposed by someone at the upper levels. They will expend political capital to make it happen, but in the current atmosphere of federal power centralization, it might work. Who woulda thought Homeland Security would have happened? Would not have happened without 9/11. If we have another fire season like last year's.....well, who knows..may have to wait for a Montana 2000 season...

5/5 The IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Summit was awesome.

The names of Ted Putnam and Paul Gleason are properly found together in these awards. Ted taught me, among other things, that findings in reports are not the end of the story. Rather, they are doors through which one needs to pass in order to explore for truth and understanding. Paul's leadership continues to save lives, as at the Nuttall Complex deployment, where "LCES worked".

Once the proceedings are posted by IAWF the readers of this site will find some fascinating information, such as Jennifer Thackaberry's explanation of how the wildland fire service's ethical model moved from a virtue-based model to a duty-based model in the context of the Fire Orders. Having been involved since 1968, I should have realized the shift myself - too much smoke in the way? Thanks IAWF.

Old Sawyer.

I put Ted's awards on the Award page. Ab.

5/5 This is the best conversation we have had on They Said since Cramergate. National Wildland Fire Service? Bring it on.

Someone was asking who would administer the new fire department? The U.S. Fire Administration would be a likely candidate for a parent organization, it would seem to me.

How would we implement changing from a multi agency fire department that competes not only with itself for funding but has to fund various other functions from cleaning toilets and building trails to stacking sticks and planting trees? Start with a logical first step. Separate the National Shared Resources (Interagency Hotshot Crews (not MEL crews) Smoke Jumpers, National Contract Helicopter crews and the Air Tanker/Lead Plane organization) out from the FS, BLM, NPS, USFWS, BIA and DOD. These resources are already funded from the top, and most have their own facilities.

Do this immediately and retain their current funding minus the rake off the top for the hosting units which seem to be abused and spent on other projects, and for funding other department’s personnel. Eventually we could work at incorporating the Engines and other IA resources into the new U.S. Wildland Fire and Aviation Service. We should do this incrementally and efficiently - not like previous rushes to spend money programs, like inventing new crews and fuels programs without having an infrastructure in place to support those programs or enough quality people to run them.

Once we have a handle on the Shared Resources and show how a professional fire organization is run by professional fire officers and managers, the rest will fall into place because the nay sayers will want to be a part of a winning team.

Another question was about who would dispatch these resources? We already have National Wildland Fire coordinators and dispatcher in place in Boise and at the GACCs. Most local dispatch organizations are already interagency so change the management code and uniforms and presto chango USWFAS dispatchers are sitting behind a computer dispatching USWFAS resources to wildland and WUI fires all over the nation. Not only that but they are paid better and being treated with respect as professional fire service employees.

BD/KV? Gordon what century are you living in dude? Anyone ever explain a dry well to you?

For all those who are scared of this thing or think it can’t be done hear the words of Henry Ford, who said...

“I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can't be done.”


“If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.”

Have a good May cause Dirty August is coming.


5/5 Training Guy,

you said, as it relates to the opposition in the current discussion ..

" how we have to get resource managers out of fire management"..

that is the root of all evil in the discussion... I dont give a rats ass when the value of a human life is compared to the value of natural resources.

The fact is ... a human life cannot be replaced, the natural resources can !!!!

Training Guy, you also said ..

"The thing is that everyone must understand is that fire management of any kind (suppression, Rx, or wildland fire use) *is* land (resource) management. If you think otherwise, you're fooling yourself."

... I say Bullshi!!!!!! .. stop fooling yourself and others.... do some research. If land management cannot learn what the firefighters are talking and walking.... then there needs to be a separation.

First, fire is not a bunch of culls... they are forward thinkers.... folks who consider all things.... safety and the lives of employees are foremost. Wildland firefighters want change, very needed change for safety. Cultural and educational biases prevent change. When ologists, maybe such as yourself, refuse to look at all the options.. you are presented with the problem that the current Forest Service Chief addressed, and yes, it does exist and will continue to exist under the current system....

“Our problem is not really change; change is inevitable. Our problem is that too many people seem to be stuck in the past.” Dale Bosworth, Chief of the Forest Service (2003)

Training Guy, you are fooling yourself if any more "Fire" folks are going to die because of your resource concerns and the idea that the management of the land trumps the rights of employee and firefighter safety.. fire folks are fed up of having folks with less than full knowledge give half truths and without giving any reference to the sources from which you gained the knowledge.


5/5 Just curious if any one has heard anything about the Pulaski Conference to
look at the Fire Fighting Doctrine that Tom Harbour is putting together.
Just trying to find out how well the word got out on this?


I'm not up to date on this. Last I heard it would be early June... Ab.

5/4 Ted Putnam Receives the IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Award and the Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award at the IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Missoula, Montana

The International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) inaugurated the IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Award in 1997 at the first Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Rossland, British Columbia. The organization presents this award to a deserving individual selected from nominees submitted from the country hosting the annual conference which has rotated between Canada, Australia, Europe and the United States. The nominees are reviewed and voted upon by a committee comprised of previous IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Award recipients and a member of the IAWF who chairs the committee.

The award is given to someone in the wildland firefighting community who has made a significant contribution to wildland firefighter safety, either directly on the fireline; or indirectly through management, cultural changes, or through wildland fire research. IAWF received a record number of well-deserving nominees this year’s, with a strong diversity of fire backgrounds.

This year’s Wildland Fire Safety Award recipient cuts across all of those lines. He has been previously described as a “hybrid” that has been able to view wildland fire safety from the aspect of several different disciplines bringing a unique point of view not always readily seen or accepted by others. The International Association of Wildland Fire presented this year’s Wildland Fire Safety Award to Dr. Ted Putnam at the conference banquet. The previous day at the Safety Summit Dr. Putnam also received the Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award. This award was created by the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Committee under the National Wildfire Coordinating Group in honor of Paul Gleason, a wildland firefighter whose career spanned several decades before his death from cancer in 2003. This award was developed to recognize individuals who lead by example and for demonstrating leadership traits during or in support of wildland fire operations. Paul Gleason was also the 2nd recipient of the IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Award in 1998.

Bill Gabbert
Executive Director
International Association of Wildland Fire

Well deserved congratulations to Ted. Ab.

5/4 As Paul Harvey says "Page One" - I have worked for a cutting edge (fire wise) state agency, for three out of the four agencies in the DOI with wildland fire responsibilities, and a stint with the Forest Service. The only way to stop injuring and killing folks and get the job done - the fires put out and the public kept safe and sound and the wildlands managed back to viability is a separate fire service. The only way to make the system work and achieve goals is collaboration. Separate agencies can do this and get the job done. We do it all the time with unified command, we do it all the time with co-op agreements with other agencies, both fire and non fire. And the job gets done. So why not? We (all of the managers, rangers, supervisors, etc) keep saying that something new has to be tried. Walk the walk, lets put our money where our mouth is. The agencies, especially the USFS diverts millions from fire management funds and efforts to over inflated cost pools, other projects as pointed out at all levels from the WO down to the bottom level. Take the operation back, from the bottom to the top. Every aspect of Fire and Aviation Management should be placed into a separate bureau and provide services just like the service centers they are so proud of (like IRM only more efficient) and build the organization on the principle that everyone should come home safely. Risk can be managed and what fire people do is dangerous, however we can minimize this risk.

5/4 I've read a lot of posts about how we have to get resource managers out of fire management. The thing is that everyone must understand is that fire management of any kind (suppression, Rx, or wildland fire use) *is* land (resource) management. If you think otherwise, you're fooling yourself. The integration of fire operations and natural resource planning/strategies is critical and cannot be separated, even if you wanted to. What we do on the fireline has huge consequences for the resource in question, good or bad. If you think that natural resource staff should step aside and let ops people do what they want, you're fooling yourself again. It's not going to happen and shouldn't. Now, that is not to say that we shouldn't have professional, safety conscious, operationally bullet proof firefighters. We must have both and they must learn to work together.

Training Guy
5/4 Arizona is finally heating up. Lots of fine fuels this year, and we are going into the 90's with 100 degree temps soon to follow. Welcome to Fire Season 2005 in the southwest.

Stay Safe!
5/4 I have been lurking around and reading the posts about a National Fire Agency. From a non-fed agency guy (only state and local) it makes sense to me to have firefighters in charge of firefighters, and land management done by land managers. The big stumbling block I see, besides the whole thing happening to begin with, is when the fire.org has to work with land management.org then the POOP will HIT the PROPS. With each outfit looking out for themselves and taking credit for the good things and blaming all the bad stuff on the other bunch. The interaction of the groups would most likely be contentious at best and down right ugly at times (It might even get good enough to be a reality show on TV).

Old Chinese Proverb: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!

Retired L.A.V.E.

Well, from my perspective that poop you mention has been hitt'in the props fer years.  OriginalAb.

5/4 Yesterday (Monday) was a beautiful day in Boise as many, who have given so much to the wildland firefighting community gathered at the Boise airport to unveil a statue dedicated to all wildland firefighters.

Prior to the unveiling, I had the immense honor of meandering through the wildland firefighter monument on the grounds of the National Interagency Fire Center. The markers bearing the names of so many brothers and sisters who have passed on doing what they loved to do were laying in the midst of a fittingly natural setting.

The folks attending were diverse in the individual niche they serve the wildland firefighting community. Contractors, federal firefighters, family members, USFS representatives and, perhaps most importantly, Vicki Minor from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. 

As those of you prepare for the upcoming season, regardless of age or experience, I hope you will take to heart the sacrifice so many have made to protect our Nation's natural resources as well as real and personal property. Still further, I hope you will go into this season knowing that there are folks out there such as Vicki, Mellie and so many others that exude passion and commitment to all of you in their own special ways.

Whether it be Wildlandfire.com, the Foundation, the IAWF or FWFSA or others, we are all working in one way or another to ensure all of you on the lines know that when you are away from your family in a remote, inhospitable area of the country, someone is working for you...perhaps your "other" family.

The raw emotion shared by all yesterday is a tribute to all that our wildland firefighters do. I know I speak for all concerned that our affection for all of you, our desire to see you through a safe season and to be there for you and your family in time of need, is the greatest opportunity we could have been given in life.

That being said, please continue to support the foundation as well as this incredible forum that allows all of us to share our thoughts, ideas, opinions, and information. If this season takes you through Boise, please visit the monument, the new statue and the Foundation.

Thanks Mellie and Vicki for a wonderful day.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (the bold is for you Mellie :) )
5/4 Gordon, you bring up some great questions. First, the idea National Fire Service is a safety driven idea, not a financially driven idea.

If your hypothesis is correct, it was probably correct when “timber was king”.

The BDBD funds and the KV funds have been struggling to keep up as “the cut” got less and less. I looked around at a sampling of KV funds on several forests in regions 3, 5, and 6 and was amazed to see that in many occasions, the funds wouldn’t even fund me for two or three pay periods in their entirety.

As far as the BDBD funds, same problem as the KV funds… less cut, less money. With the move towards the National Fire Plan, far more firefighters rely of WFHF (Wildland Fire Hazardous Fuels) dollars to keep them gainfully employed throughout the winter.

The National Wildland Fire Service that most of us have been talking about would continue to provide pre-suppression, fuels management, and wildfire emergency response, as well as keep the congressionally appropriated funds for those programs.

With the rake-off that occurs at the national, regional, province, forest, and then district levels (not to mention the redirection of funds for special projects), I think the proper management of WFPR and WFHF funds would far outweigh the limited, and lessening benefit of the BD and KV funds as a cure all in keeping a handfull of folks employed outside of fire season.

5/3 Just received this today for Region 6 Engine, Tender and 20 Man Crews. It is the award date for private contracts with USFS. Note the "Best Value 50 Engine" part. I guess they are going to have 50 engines that are at the top of the list to be called. I guess you are the elite if you get on this list?

Cancellation of the existing 2004 Agreements

All existing 2004 Interagency Engine and Tender Agreements will be cancelled effective Midnight, May 12. If you are “under hire” as of Midnight May 12, you will remain on your 2004 agreement until you are released from your assignment and return to your designated dispatch location or point of hire.

Pacific Northwest 50 Engine Best Value Contract

The solicitation for the Pacific Northwest best value contract for 50 engines should be posted this week to: www.fedbizopps.gov . The contract will be a one-year contract with 2 renewable option years. The solicitation will be open for 30 days with selections completed about June 18. Contracts should be awarded no later than July 1. If you are awarded a contract for 2005 and you already have an agreement for the same piece of equipment, your agreement will be cancelled upon award of the contract.

National Crew Contract

The National 20-person Hand Crew Contract should be posted to: www.fed.biz.opps.gov sometime the week of May 9. The solicitation should be open for 30 days. The existing National 20 person Hand Crew contract is valid until July 31 or until the 2005 20-person National Hand Crew Contract is awarded. 

Region #6 Contractor 
5/3 Question came up last night: when did helirappelling begin, 
where did it start, by what agency? When did it begin to be 
widely used?

The unveiling of the wildland firefighter statue and party 
following it were pretty cool. Wonderful to meet Shane's 
and Jeff's parents and siblings and Levi Brinkley's parents 
and Sarah Larson, Matt's mom and his little sister. Had a good 
time talking with members of NWSA.

Casey of FWFSA was present, he cleaned up nicely. I couldn't 
see my notes to remind me what the initials stood for. My bad!

For all my norcal L-380 buds, our MCS instructor Bill showed 
up with his wife. A couple of the Boise jumpers said he is 
remarkable, in great shape for being sooooooo old and retired. 
Got to visit with a few of the jumpers including Eric Hipke briefly.

Today the NIFC barbeque, Memorial Ceremony bell ringing, silence 
and Intermountain Legacy Production were very nice.



5/3 In support of the National Fire Service:

Some years ago on western federal land a ranger/manager type person took it upon him/herself to supervise a wildland fire over the radio from 80 driving miles away. The IC on site was overridden by the meddling manager on every one of his/her tactics. These tactics included fuels modification around structures, burning out, abandoning their position of structure protection for a safety zone, ordering airtankers, etc. The folks on the fire were ordered over the radio to hold their position with two light engines and a few assorted extra people and to protect those structures with the wind-driven 1 mile wide flaming front (20 foot flames) coming directly at them in 3 foot grass and scattered juniper. 

The result was the non-fatal entrapment of about a dozen firefighters. 

A different-agency engine captain was onsite during most of this incident. Let's call him "Opey". Opey and his crew, realizing they were about 30 minutes away from being entrapped and drove their engine for safety as the fire was bearing down on the area. While driving for safety Opey requested airtankers through the different-agency dispatch.

The request for airtankers was heard by many in the area including many folks on a nearby Type 1 incident (which is where I was). We had a whole bunch of airtankers that we weren't using. We had an air attack supervisor (2 in one plane actually) over our fire who we advised to go on down. The ATGS said he already had smoke in sight at about 40 miles and would be headed south.

There is nobody who was on site on that incident who does not agree on what happened there. The air attacks, the airtanker pilots, the folks on the ground all agreed that all that really saved the bacon of the firefighters who were cut off and trapped was those airtankers. All orders were being given on this fire by a distant, inexperienced, and arrogant land manager who evidently had total disregard for the safety of the firefighters involved. The mutinous request by a renegade different-agency engine captain was all that saved the firefighters lat the structures.

This is an event which many people in this part of the world have not forgotten. The entire event was covered up with great prejudice by the host-agency federal managers. The FMO was admonished no to make waves over this incident through fire management channels (or anywhere else!). One person was terminated. One was forcibly transferred. Opey got the hell out of Texas!

This incident also changed the way many of us involved did business from that day to this. I do not trust any tactical orders that come from persons who are not fire professionals. I will happily tell this story with names included to Congress to help justify a National Fire Service. Opey, I know you aren't retired yet like I am, but do you want to go with me?

I know that there are a lot more stories similar to this one out there. I have a few more myself. In every case we, the involved, have been coerced into silence by the federal managers we work for. When they hold disciplinary action over your full-time-permanent hind end they can get away with it. I think it is time to start talking about these frequent incidents in support of establishment of a professional and certainly much safer National Fire Service. I for one will not stand idly by while arrogant pretenders continue to endanger my fellow firefighters.

5/3 Before everyone jumps on the national fire service bandwagon evaluate your
personal situation.

Are you or any of your fellow firefighters funded any part of the year out
of BD or KV? Do you work for other shops in the off-season?

With a separate fire agency all that disappears. Whether you care to admit
it or not the Forest Service fire program is directly or indirectly
subsidized by the other functions. With a separate fire agency the subsidy
is gone.

Be careful what you ask for.

Gordon N.
5/3 I am truly saddened by the news of Don Studebaker's passing. He was a great man, firefighter and soldier. I played football with him at Crawford and we climbed all over the Cleveland NF, fighting fires and having fun. Happy Camp in '87, Puerto Rico in '00, The Dillion, Manter, Pendola, Stein, etc. I was there at the Greenhead Gun Club when we broke the 'glass slipper' from Germany. (Don, IC on the Manter Fire.)

Don you will be missed, I will think of you when I fire the 21 gun salute on Memorial Day. 

God Bless us all.

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

5/3 An Old Farmer's Advice. He was a wildland firefighter in his youth and borrowed some of these from Will Rogers (check the Will Rogers quotes for Incident Command Teams on the Quotes page.)

* Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong. 
* Keep skunks and bankers and lawyers at a distance.
* Life is simpler when you plow around the stump. 
* A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor. 
* Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. 
* Meanness don't jes' happen overnight. 
* Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads. 
* Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you. 
* It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge. 
* You cannot unsay a cruel word. 
* Every path has a few puddles. 
* When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty. 
* The best sermons are lived, not preached. 
* Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway. 
* Don't judge folks by their relatives. 
* Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer. 
* Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time. 
* Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none. 
* Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. 
* If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'. 
* Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got. 
* The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'. 
* Always drink upstream from the herd. 
* Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment. 
* Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in. 
* If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around. 
* Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God. 
5/3 I'm so sad about the loss of T26.

I knew Brain from Minden two years ago; he flew T26 out of Minden.
This picture of T26 is from last summer. It came in to Minden to fight 
the Andrew fire south of Reno. Hope your viewers like it

Ron Santi

Thanks Ron, we also feel the loss of our good aerial firefighting folks. Ab.

5/3 The time is now to go to a federal wildland fire department. I am glad to
see so many people talking about it. A couple of months ago, I outlined
numerous reasons on 'They Said" for doing so. We cannot have land or
resource managers "managing or supervising" fire management programs and
other emergency and all risk services. This job must be done by qualified
firefighters! I saw a while back where someone said..." we can't have
career managers supervising fire, we need resource managers." I disagree
completely. Resource managers supervising fire programs is what got us into
the current state of affairs. We need knowledgeable, skilled, and
experienced fire personnel with demonstrated leadership skills to manage
and supervise fire management and emergency fire and all risk services.

The following are some statements I have heard resource managers make who
have been "in charge" of supervising and managing forest service fire
management programs.

  • "We don't need a fire management organization on this forest."
  • "Just how aggressive do we want to be this year on initial attack?"

I could go on, but this is just an example. Now that should raise your
eyebrows, your ears, and your situational awareness.

I believe a federal wildland fire department that is supervised and managed
by firefighters with demonstrated leadership and skill in fire management
is the only way to go. Safety, effectiveness, efficiency, and service
demand it! It won't happen easily or overnight, but it is the right thing
to do.


5/3 Scotty from the El Dorado,

RP says hello and to keep you head down, the fishing is good, and a couple of other 
things I can't post here. *grin*

Shoot him an e-mail when you get out of the desert and back inside the wire, or post 
something here and I'll relay. (Ab(s), please give Scotty my e-mail when he gets a 
chance to write back)

Hope you get back to the land of the big PX soon, Scotty, and trade those BDUs 
for nomex.

5/3 Happy 100th birthday USFS!


5/2 Attached are the details for the Don Studebaker Memorial Service this coming Friday from 1000-1200 at the Barona Ranch Casino and Hotel near the community of Lakeside, CA near San Diego. All firefighters are welcome as
well as apparatus. Don Studebaker is a name that will live forever in the wildland firefighting community. RDH


The memorial service for Don Studebaker, retired Deputy Fire Chief of the Cleveland National Forest will be held on Friday May 6th at the Barona Ranch Hotel and Casino at the adjoining conference center. Click on the link below for directions. The service will begin at 1000 and will conclude by 1200. Dress or field uniforms will be appropriate for USFS personnel and Class A uniforms for cooperating agency personnel, 


The Studebaker family requests in lieu of flowers that donations in memory of Don be made to one of the following : 

By Credit Card: Wildland Firefighter Foundation or Boy Scouts of America

By Mail: 
Boys Scout of America: 
San Diego County Council 
1207 Upas Street 
San Diego, CA 92103 

Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way
Boise, ID. 83705

Condolences for the family can be sent to: Ann Studebaker
4739 55th Street
San Diego, CA 92115

5/2 OK folks, I'll bite on the new fire agency thing. I think it's a great idea, but I have an observation that may be valid in some areas, and not in others, or not at all.

A lot of folks seem to be saying "let's get the land managers out of fire and have an organization of firefighters." A few people have alluded to having "land managers" in upper management is a bad thing, and it may be. But in my humble opinion, I, as a firefighter, am a land manager. Granted, I work in Montana, and wildland fire here is a lot different than in California or other heavily populated areas, and wildland fire folks here usually end up dealing with some aspects of land management at some time or another.

My question is simple: Why not turn firefighters into land managers AND safe, effective fire suppression experts? Instead of avoiding land management and dealing only with fire, why don't we integrate fire into land management instead of dividing the two as we tend to do now? Most places I've worked have seen fire as a part of land management, but didn't view the firefighters as land managers, just as tools to be used for suppression and project work.

Just my rambling and incomplete thought for the week. Blast away at 'er, and have fun doing so.


Young and Dumb in Region One
5/2 To the "They Said" forum members who wrote in regarding the passing of Don Studebaker:

We were alerted a week ago by our good friend Carrie Bowers to the messages being left here about Don. We (his family) have read and re-read them, and we want to thank all who took the time to add their thoughts and condolences. We have printed them out to include in his scrapbook. He was truly one of a kind as a firefighter, a mentor, a husband and a father. The recognition and respect of his fellow firefighters meant everything to him and he never considered himself "above" anyone, even after he became an IC. He was an engine foreman at Descanso Station when I met him 27 years ago. He loved the Cleveland and never wanted to leave, although his professional horizons eventually expanded to include the whole world. His retirement celebration in January was the highlight of his life and we will remember it always. We just wanted you to know how much we appreciate everything you have written about him. We shall miss him, too. He was much too young to leave us.

Ann, Candace, Ian and Andrew Studebaker and Robin Coley

Our condolences for your loss. We're all missing him too. Ab.
5/2 More quotes from the Chiefs….. as we discuss a national wildland fire agency:

“Our problem is not really change; change is inevitable. Our problem is that too many people seem to be stuck in the past.” Dale Bosworth, Chief of the Forest Service (2003)

“But sometimes, no matter how much safety is stressed, accidents do occur. And they can occur with tragic results, such as serious injury or death. I promise you that the recommendations of this investigation team will not be forgotten. I am charging my leadership team with ensuring—and I am accepting responsibility for the Forest Service to do everything within its power to ensure—that what happened on the Thirtymile Fire does not happen again.” Dale Bosworth, Chief of the Forest Service (2002)

“At Storm King Mountain, at Mann Gulch, and on countless other fires over the last hundred years, many brave men and women fought the flames and sometimes made the ultimate sacrifice. They did not do so in vain. The lessons they taught are still with us today. We owe it to them, we owe it to ourselves, to always remember our cardinal rule: Safety is our first priority.” Mike Dombeck, former Chief of the Forest Service (2001)

“The USDA Forest Service and other natural resource agencies are proud to employ some of the brightest and most experienced firefighting professionals as our leaders in the fire organization.

These leaders have worked their way up the firefighting ladder through years of experience. They have dug line, jumped from airplanes into remote areas to handle initial attack, and planned and conducted prescribed burns to accomplish important natural resource objectives.” Mike Dombeck, former Chief of the Forest Service (2000)

“Looking back at my time as Chief of the USDA Forest Service, I vividly remember the summer of 1994. We lost 34 friends and co-workers --- and many others were injured --- during efforts to contain wildland fires. I spent agonizing days trying, as best I could, to console families, deal with survivors, attend services, and work to see that such tragedies were less likely to repeat themselves. My nights are still interrupted with flashbacks to that awful summer”. Jack Ward Thomas, former Chief of the Forest Service (1999)

As a wildland fire manager, I vividly look at the years of 1987… 1988… 1990 … 1994 … 1996 … 2000 … 2001 … and 2003 as my portal for learning and “having flashbacks” as JWT states … I was on fatal fires those years…. . events that should not be repeated but ARE repeated time and time again.

Too many friends and co-workers have died, is it time for a change?

From a famous quote from Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”


5/2 Thinking,

It’s a whole lot different than the LEO fiasco.

The FS LEO program was born when the fire prevention technicians started taking advanced classes... ie - Level 4 Law Enforcement.

As a large group, they started to find that they were butting heads with the land managers... in some cases, even being prevented from investigating incidents from land managers. A pivotal case happened when a District Ranger actually had personal interests in an investigation.... interests that were against the government and interfered with the criminal investigation. As a result, the LEO program was centralized, to keep land managers away from the decision process as it related to criminal investigations.

So, how is the Fire situation different?

The LEO's (Fire Prevention Technicians for the most part) were funded out of the Forest Service fire program. When they left, the fire program funding that they were so used to getting also left. As they became centralized, their budget was not realized by Congress as a primary responsibility of the Forest Service.

Now, some in the fire program are proposing a different agency or a centralization of fire. The fire program has the funding..... If the fire program were to leave the Forest Service, the funding for that program would be sure to follow since fire is on the minds of everyone.

Thinking, you asked...

Where would it be located? Answer... same places as it is now.

Who would do the work of the militia and the dispatchers, and all?
Answer... the militia (the few that are left), the dispatchers, and all would continue their work.

How would it be paid for? Answer... the same way that it has always been paid for... through congressionally appropriated funds... but now more of those funds would actually be used to meet the target, the intent, and the vision of congress and the people.

5/2 On the separate Fire Service thread. Logistics and Ops...

Where would it be located? Would it be interspersed across the West and the rest of the country or in a couple of locations? Who would do the work of the militia and the dispatchers, and all? How would it be paid for? Everyone says don't let it be like when the LEOs were stovepiped. What exactly happened to the LEOs and how would this be different or would it be?

Thinking about implications.

5/2 Yactac,

Thanks for saying it so well. I'm gonna use your excellent summary in a letter 
to my congressman. Hope that is OK. 

I've bled green for 28 years but can no longer stand by and watch federal 
firefighters take it in the you know what with each budget cycle, lawsuit, or 
lame idea generated from some high level landmanager brainstorm session.

I hope others of you are not so overwhelmed by the weirdness that you can 
also take a little time to make your views known with your representatives. 
It can only start where you are at.

5/2 Nice place, this Boise. The jumper tower/base and NIFC are right here 
adjacent to the airport. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is just off 
base as well. Vicki gave me and OA a quick tour of the airport site of 
the festivities later today. Casey Judd is supposed to arrive sometime 
soon and a bunch of parents are coming into the WFF sometime today.
Rick Dice is around and Debbie Miley is due to be here representing 
NWSA. The celebration and statue are to honor ALL wildland firefighters. 
It's not a memorial but a Monument to Wildland Firefighters visible to the 

More later.

5/2 Lobotomy,
I am not trying to raise hell here I just am trying to get a spark to light the big burn. I have called my congressman 4 times in 4 weeks. I let him know that money for fire protection has been misused for other needs. What about you are you proactive? I know we are all in the same boat here but it still has no paddles and the motor is missing a prop! Who is going to help US the people on the ground doing there jobs as usual. One last thing Lobotomy to prevent an accident is to stop the unsafe action, or avoid the danger. So tell me should we all stay home this season or stand up to our managers and demand seasonal FF's and money to outfit our programs. My family owns 1500 acres of ranch land which is surrounded by Urban interface and if my tax money can pay for CDF to protect it then why cant your tax money pay for USFS to protect there own Lands?

Rouge River

401 series is a JOKE I have been to 2 of the classes for this deal and guess what there are folks in there who are not even from FIRE! I asked the dumb question why is it that a DEGREE in FIRE SCIENCE 4 year degree not good enough? answer because its not! that is what I was told but nobody can tell me why its not kinda funny if you ask me!

You my brother hit the nail on the head


5/1 NORCAL Capt,

Why not be proactive rather than being reactive. Call you congressman now if you have 
concerns about where the money went or your feelings about land managers inexperience 
or misguidance being safety problems.

Calling your congressman after a fatality or serious injury just leads to head hunting and 
never prevented firefighters from getting killed or injured in the first place. If you act 
proactively, you may actually inform your congressman and help to prevent a tragedy in 
the future.

If a lot more wildland firefighters became active constituents and interacted with their 
congressional offices, there would be far less problems in the land management agencies. 
Education is key…. Members of Congress do not know all or perceive to know all, they 
need some education and comments from the folks they represent to make good 
decisions, especially when it comes to wildland fire.

5/1 NORCAL Capt,

You said…. 401 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE FIRE MANAGERS….. what a hoot. It defies LOGIC.

Since the IFPM implementation and the 401 component has already happened, do you or your troops feel safer that folks who specialize in the biological sciences are paving the way to your safety and your future? ... or just hindering you and your crews safety and the safety of others?

On another note.... Time for change.... quick change.... before the next fatality or serious injury occurs, because we have folks who are land managers and not fire leaders at the helm.

No disrespect to the regional and national wildland fire managers, but you know your views are left in the trash bucket when the discussions are confronted by the folks who are more concerned about managing the land than keeping folks safe. Time for you to be a leader for safety and not just a manager of the land.

Rogue Rivers
5/1 HELOPS 2005 is set for 21 May 2005 at the Santa Ynez Airport. This is the sixth year that CSFA and the San Marcos Pass VFD have cosponsored this event. 

Aircraft participating in this year include: Santa Barbara County Fire and Sheriff's Department, Ventura County, CalStar, CHP and Vandenberg. Several vendors will provide portable water tanks and an air operations trailer. The CSFA live steamer will also be at the event with Blaze and the crew. 

The program starts at 8:00 am with a complimentary tri-tip lunch with all of the trimmings at noon. 

Additional information can be obtained by visiting www.csfa.net and/or www.firedept.net/wra. To sign-up, please call 964-7194.

Michael S. Williams
President-Executive Director
Wildland Residents Association, Inc.
San Marcos Pass VFD
5/1 An article in the early edition of Sunday's Washington Post was saying that the Northwest 
may be the driest cycle ever recorded for that section of the country. The article was mostly 
considering the effects to farming, but it certainly has interesting implications for fire. Makes 
me wonder how this year compares to the weather going into Biscuit, Yellowstone and other 
major, major fires ...


5/1 The 90.6300-l / Snap Adapter can be found here: 

The Supply Cache


5/1 A Federal Wildland Fire Service………
Where to start….??.... My beginning...

The old? days

When I started with the FS in 1974 on the Los Prietos Hotshots we built and maintained trail, packed horses and mules, built fuel breaks, swamped for the forest engineering dozer and grader, kept the local campgrounds in good order, fixed Forest Service water systems, built fence for Range, re-roofed Forest Service buildings, maintained the backcountry cabin system, etc, etc. Oh yeah, we fought fires too…. We were basically the forest workforce and jacks-of-all-trades, depending on which function had the money. The crew came on at least a month early every year to work backcountry trails and stayed on well into the winter to work fuel break, trails and whatever other projects needed accomplishing that were funded.

There was no 1039 hour limitation on working temporaries. The local District Ranger was Sector Boss qualified. The Forest FMO and AFMO had Fire Boss or Line Boss qualifications. There was no fire refresher mandated training, in fact there was barely any “mandated” training. A new class, “Basic Firefighter”, had just been implemented that year. Firescope was in its infancy in the implementation process.

We had local hire authority. I filled out an SF-171, turned it in to the local hotshot supt and got a call the next day to come to work. Folks were sent down the road if they were non-producers. Our crews reflected the local ethnicity. We had pride in the agency and ourselves. We were a cohesive team, on and off duty. Being a Forest Service Wildland Firefighter meant something.

The current situation

Where has the Forest Service Leadership (or lack of) gotten us today? It takes 10 years or more to qualify a Division Supervisor due to the 5109.17. Keep in mind that it takes seven years to produce a surgeon in the medical field….
Our cooperators including other federal agencies with Wildland Firefighting responsibilities adhere to the 310-1. Why the difference? The Forest Service accepts other agencies' Incident qualifications on Forest Service Incidents yet makes its own folks adhere to a “higher standard”. Where is the logic in that? If Joe BLM or CDF or Local County can adhere to a standard that the Forest Service deems good enough to fight Forest Service fires, why are we throwing roadblocks in our folk’s paths? Seems to me all Federal Wildland Firefighters should adhere to the same training and qualification standards, the 310-1….

Once a person is qualified in a position they have to only perform in the position once every five years to maintain currency! Once every three years for Dispatch or Aviation qualifications. No complexity or length of assignment requirement. No simulation requirement, no continued education requirement, nada… no tests, no graded drills, nothing. Talk about design for disaster. Highly touted Type 1 Incident Management Teams do not drill or train together prior to the “big game”. What is up with that? Only bringing the Type 1 team together for the supposedly most complex incidents is like sending a football team to the Superbowl with no practice time or sending a military unit to war that has never trained together.

No fire qualifications required for a District Ranger who oversees each District Fire Organization anymore. Forest FMO and AFMO not even close to having any IC qualifications. Only one qualified Type 2 IC on the whole forest, no Type 1 ICs. At the rate we are going, the forest will not be able to support a Type 2 team in five years due to retirements, not to mention the folks leaving for better paying jobs with other agencies. IFPM says I need twenty four units in biological sciences to keep my fire management job, yet requires no fire qualification for the supposed leaders of the organizations….IFPM is a joke. The requirement for me to be a “Professional” stems from fire fatalities… So 24 units of biological sciences is going to make me a more “professional” firefighter and prevent fatalities? How about we require a Fire Science degree or at least ICT2 qualifications for our Forest, Regional and National Leadership Teams?

Our hiring process is so convoluted it has taken over a year to fill one Captain's position on my district, (we had quality qualified candidates on the certs). The temporary hiring process is a maze that now resides out of reach for much of our ethnic population.

We can no longer work our temporaries past 1039 hours. Why? Congress’s intent on mandating this was that if you work an individual more than six months you should give them benefits and retirement. So what does the Forest Service do? Looks for ways “around” the law…. Severity … oh the fire season is soooo bad….. Request relief from OPM…. Did anyone from the agency ever think that maybe if we petitioned OPM and Congress to allow the temporaries access to the Federal Health Benefit Program and our advertised highly portable Federal Retirement System (FERS) that maybe we would be seen as trying to meet the intent of Congress and have a permanent relief from the mandate? Heaven forbid the Forest Service should do anything to help its employees without a court mandate.

MEL….. great to have another engine and a dozer on the district….Wish we had a career ladder for the operator and swamper instead of antiquated engineering WG PD’s. Oh yeah…. Dozer swamper is a WG-3 which equates to a GS-2 in our locality. Try to get a qualified firefighter to fill a GS-2 position. There is “safety as a core value” in action! Don’t have engine bays for two of my other engines so now I have 3 brand new engines and a transport sitting out in the weather with tarps covering them during inclement weather. Fire money cannot be used for facilities, you see, and engineering does not have any money or the incentive to move this project higher on the forest priority list. Facilities on the forest are in the worst shape I have seen but Fire's share of the cost pools is at an all time high. Barracks? What are those? Profess safety as a core value, but don’t even provide crew facilities at the station to rest if they arrive after hours from an incident. Profess safety, yet do not provide training facilities at the stations. Require internet usage (6 minutes for Safety, Leadership Web Page, Lessons Learned, etc) and intranet for times, travel and email, yet the stations phone lines hook up at 14.4 kbs if we are lucky.

The great Forest Service Aviation boondoggles……. TARMS study…. Supposed to take us into the 21st century… The Forest Service chose to ignore it. The highly touted “Blue Ribbon Panel” … the only italicized sentence in the whole document is in the executive summary,

“Possibly the single largest challenge now facing leaders of these federal agencies is to foster cooperation and collaboration among working-level staffs, contractors and states to raise the standards of aerial firefighting in the United States.”

So talk to one of the fixed wing air tanker contractors…. See how much “cooperation and collaboration” with them has gone on. Speaking of air tankers, after the Forest Service rescinded the air tanker contracts, extra helicopters were brought on CWN to “augment” our aerial firefighting resources. We had one on the forest… S-61 that carried 550 gallons of water in its initial attack bucket. Let’s see, it “replaced” a 3,000 gallon air tanker that cost about $4500.00 per day availability and about the same per flight hour. The S-61 cost $12,500 per day availability and about $6000.00 per flight hour. You do the math …. 90 day million dollar contracts. 550 gallons vs. 3000 gallons. How many of these contracts were spread across the nation? I believe at least ten, possibly more. Lead Planes…. National Aviation Office tried for over a year to purchase replacements for the Barons. Couldn’t get it together and finally gave some money to the Regions to lease lead planes. So now each region is doing its own thing and aircraft standardization has gone out the window. Set the lead plane program back at least twenty years. The BLM has an excellent model in its ASM program but the FS has the “not invented here” syndrome so forget about doing something that has a proven track record.

Times have changed radically since I started with the Forest Service. Unfortunately the Forest Service leadership has not kept up with the times, attempting to manage a Fire/Fuels and Aviation Organization that has become more complex with increased responsibilities.

Will creating one Federal Wildland Fire Agency solve these problems right away? Obviously not, but it will provide an agency with one goal and mission able to focus on its issues.

I know I did not hit all the reasons for creating one Federal Wildland Fire Service and some of the ones I did hit on may be seen as local issues, but these local issues are, to me, indicative of agency failure. I am fortunate to have started with the Forest Service when I did and would not change that. The Natural Resource Management Agencies no longer have any business trying to manage Emergency Services. Fire/Fuels and Aviation Management is a full time profession requiring students of fire in the leadership roles not biologists.


5/1 Hi Folks,

I have been reading what alot of you have been saying about a National Fire Service. I just wonder how many of you have enough clout to call your congressman? Lets get real. It's nice to hear everybody's ideas BUT who's listening except all of us that know this already. I do not want to come across as an ass but Land Managers do not listen. I know I have tried to get funding for just one seasonal FF. We all know the answer I got NOPE we need that money elsewhere "new campground" $265,000.

I do believe that we are professional firefighters but in reality we are only recognized as 0462 FORESTRY TECHS, 0455 RANGE TECHS, and 401 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE FIRE MANAGERS. Does anybody see the light as to where this is going? I have; we are going back to the days of bucket brigades. Or how about we all just volunteer since we love our jobs so much.

I am sorry folks but I need to blow sometimes.

I just have one more question for anyone who has the answer.

If we go to a natl fire service, which I doubt will happen in the next 40 years, who is gonna be in charge? and where are we gonna get money from?


P.S. I promise you all this much. If just one FF gets killed this year due to inexperience or misguidance from outside the fire realm, I will be the first one to call my congressman and request an answer as to why was the money for firefighting taken away? Is your life really worth $485,000,000? I know mine is not in Land managers eyes.

5/1 We would like to express belated sincere condolences to the Studebaker family.
Don's common sense attitude, skills & experience saved many FF lives. sadly few others can attempt to fill his boots.


Glad to hear there will be a Wildland Firefighter statue in the BOI airport, finally - where better to start a trend...

Rumor is most of the competent NIFC & NICC dispatchers may not return this season. politics takes its toll everywhere

Best wishes to the new hires regardless of agency, new to fire or newly promoted; be safe y'all,


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