JUNE, 2005

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6/30 Old Timer 1947/1983

Three years on the Cleveland NF (Trabuco District) then saw the light
and joined CDF (1949) Old Forestry District III. Worked up and down
the State until 1983. Retired and living in Sonora, CA. Would like to
hear about old times!


6/30 KD - under 310-1, OPS jobs like SLT and TFL require an assignment every
5 years, with aviation and dispatch every 3 years, in order to maintain currency.

6/30 New Guy Again

In order to keep those quals you have to go out as each of them at least once every 3 years.
Sometimes you can do things as an AD on projects but mostly you have to do them on fire assignments.
I would go to all your local agencies that use the red card system, talk to the FMOs and get into their programs if at all possible. Even if you only go out for one shift, it keeps your quals from expiring.
Good Luck


P.S. Forest Service can't use ADs on RX but all the rest can.

6/30 Hi all,

I currently work as a Firefighter/EMT for a municipal department in Northern California. My question to whomever can answer it is........ How do I keep my STL dozer, FALC and TFL(T) qualifications current even though my department doesn't recognize the red card system? It took me years to receive these quals and I DO NOT want to lose them. I spent 8 years working for the USFS and believe it or not they were the best summers of my life. Cheers to all of you who pound the ground and put in the long hoselays. Take care.........

The new guy again
6/30 This was Canada's way of trying to get there point across that the Fire Danger is High!


Reg #6 Willy-N

6/29 Hi Ab,

Here are several shots of T-23 at Minden on 6-22-05. She was there in support of the
"Badger" fire in Carson City. T-12 was at Minden on 6-25-05 in between dropping on
the same fire.

6/29 Tanker 12 was at Minden Sat. June 25th. Tanker 44 came to Minden
to help with the Badger Fire east of Carson City. You can see the
smoke in the back ground.

Ron Santi

A photo shoot. I put all of 'em on Airtankers 16. Thanks. Ab.

5/29 Two photos from Peggy Charlie. Hopefully when she gets a chance she'll tell us who the crews are. On Handcrews 17.


6/29 Finally had a chance to send a couple of the pics of the Walker Canyon fire in Washington.
Fire out now.

Pic 1 is what remains of the fire after it came over the bluff and moved to the Snake River.

Pic 2 is WA-DNR Rotor 8 as it lands to get instruction and information.

6/29 Ab,

Here are some pics from the Munz Fire on Monday June 27. The fire went 800 acres, location was just north of Lake Hughes on LA County IA. Just a heads up, the fine fuels really helped this fire, along with the wind which was really erratic, had some long range spotting also.


Thanks JR. I posted them on the Fire 27 photo page. More ATs and others coming sometime soon I hope. Ab.

6/29 Old Sawyer, the 211 system is pretty neat.

"the state has developed a statewide, web-enabled database system"

Yeah, a web database system.

On a similar track, I want to know who had the vision to create the system for 209s? That name should go on the IMWTK page. It's a database, data entered by many, read by some at a distance. Most of it is inside the fsweb and protected. But it's also used for research. In one freely accessed part, anyone can download summaries of the fire incident data by year under "SIT FACs" in a green bubble in the middle (it downloads as an .exe file). Brilliant, visionary database, stuff of the future. Kudos to the creator!

The key for the future will be to develop an internet database system so each one can hold hands with all other emergency systems relating to homeland security. One of these days we will have an overarching, overriding system, similar to the system of interstate roads with interchanges, but it will be an internet system in which data is shared among databases that need to talk with each other. This will help efficiency and enhance safety.

Why should 211 have to create yet another wildfire News and Notes page? Why not just link over to some central news and notes database or to the NIFC Fire News site and import that information to as many different centralized locations that the public can find and tap efficiently?

Right now we have a lot of redundancy of data that doesn't link to other data. We have redundancy because my agency's database software doesn't communicate with your agency's database software - no agreed upon standards. Believe me, before all is said and done, eGOV will have all the different fire softwares speaking with and augmenting each other. It's the wave of the future. That kind of networking of data is ultimately what the web is all about. And it won't stop there but will include cell phones and blackberries and other text messaging and alerting systems. Fed Ex tracks packages all over the world on such systems. The military moves personnel, ordnance and supplies around on such a system, we'll do all that and more at some time...


6/29 To Butterfly

Arizona just opened its internet based 211 website to be followed by a 211 phone system. These include wildland fire information as mentioned in your post as useful to the public and managers as well as firefighters. Here is the link:

Old Sawyer

6/29 The new NIFC GACC site is up and running. It is: http://gacc.nifc.gov
All of the GACC's are onboard also and so you can update your links. They also have news on all of them.

Two new Wildcad sites:
WCNVCNC.php Central, NV Winnemmuca
WCNVLIC.php Las Vegas, NV


I had already spent all morning updating our Fire News page to incorporate the transitioning new GACC sites. I'm glad to see that happening. A number of regional GACC sites are still at their old addresses, but forwarding to old urls works. The only sites that have news are the Southwest and the Western Great Basin Under the new system. even the SoCal GACC News and Notes goes away. The Eastern Great Basin might have a site sometime soon. They look like they're playing with data entry. As for the rest, there's a place holder, but no news and notes. If someone would alert us if such sites are created, I'd appreciate it. Thanks for the WildWeb sites. Original Ab just mapped and linked them, check News page under WildWeb. Good job. I also updated the Type I IMT and the Type II IMT pages and the GACC info on the Links page as well. If you find any errors, please let us know. Ab.

6/29 >From Old Sawyer: Mollysboy did well to remember the 15th anniversary of the fatal Dude Fire. Here is a photo taken by retired FMO Pat Velasco for me a few years ago of the Mogollon Rim firefighter memorial at the old Payson Ranger Station where I used to work, now a museum. The text reads:

"Dedicated to Firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our magnificent Mogollon Rim Country".
Chuck Cochane TBM Air Tanker Pilot 6/15/61 Roberts Fire
Constantine (Corky) Kodz FS Employee 6/21/61 Hatchery Fire air crash
Arthur G. Goodnow Pilot 6/21/61 Hatchery Fire
Ernie Cachini Zuni Fire Crew struck by lightning 7/10/89 Horton Fire
Sandra J. Bachman, Perryville Crew Guard, 6/26/90 burned over in Dude Fire
James E. Ellis, 6/26/90 Dude Fire entrapment
Joseph L. Chacon, 6/26/90 Dude Fire entrapment
Alex S. Contreras, 6/26/90 Dude Fire entrapment
James L. Denney, 6/26/90 Dude Fire entrapment
Curtis E. Springfield, 6/26/90 Dude Fire entrapment
6/29 R4 firefighter-

Okay, I'll bite, even if you weren't fishing. You said "You'd think ability to get this info would be a matter of safety" in reference to the availability of web information. I agree, and here's why I do:


This is for not only firefighters... but for the public as well. For firefighters, awareness about everything from firefighting conditions, fire behavior, fire danger, escalating situation conditions, and resource commitments, shortages, and availability should all be things you should know about every day when you head out to the field. Managers should know this stuff too to make good decisions. All of it leads to safety.

When fire folks don't have good information on the wrong days with all the right conditions, we end up with fatality investigations that unravel enormous complexities and problems throughout the system regarding 1) information, and 2) communication.

For the public, there are your standard fire safety issues relating to fire danger, etc., but also during escalating incident situations it would be super if we had more efficient ways to advise the public on evacuations, threatened areas, the safety of their homes, property, etc, areas to stay away from, and other advisories. There is no doubt that access to this information gives the public some "decision support" tools as well that can help with public safety.

While the internet obviously cannot deliver all of this to all firefighters (and the public) all the time, it is one hell of an effective way to help do so. It is a start.

Understanding the importance of information sharing and availability for ourselves and the public is a tough one for agencies to grasp, although pockets of folks do. I think the best way to move this issue forward is to ask your agencies and managers why and how they plan to improve their approaches. I am not convinced that the federal firefighting agencies take this issue very seriously at this point, but some folks in the right place may be listening and watching. I think though that not enough folks are raising the issue and educating managers at ALL levels about why access to information is important.

Be safe-

6/29 Here is site for the Eastern Great Basin Coordination Center, and
the specific link to their sit reports:


Taz Girl
6/29 R4 firefighter-

The WA/OR page, according to my highly placed sources, is now www.nwccweb.us.
I'm assuming other GACC sites are either up or will be up soon (?).

Does anyone know when the map links from the NICC page will connect to these
new web sites?

6/29 Madfoxzz

I was a MN smokechaser from 89-93 and a member of the Guard / Reserve

Write me at leoklarkin@ hotmail.com and I’ll try to give you run down on how it worked for me

6/29 Does anyone know where to find the Eastern Great Basin Sit Report?
For that matter, what about Washington/Oregon and other BLM sites?
Howcome the information on the web is so poor? You'd think ability to
get this info would be a matter of safety.

R4 firefighter

6/29 I asked my firefighter friend about the snakebite on the Three Fire Complex. He said
to tell people that the person is fine and returned to the line yesterday.


6/29 Does anyone know the web address for the page that shows the PL as a
color coded table that is updated daily and compares each day to the last
few years? I had found this site last year but when my computer crashed
over the winter I lost the link. It's a great site and lets you see how the year
is progressing and compare that to other years good or bad.

6/29 Hello, I am a part time state smokechaser in MN. I have already lost one job in the past because I was told there would be no problem if I went out west on assignment, when apparently there was a problem because I came home to no job.

Now I have a decent full time job with benefits again and I want to keep it...but of course, I want to go out on assignment as well. With the way my company staffs and the presence of part-timers who would welcome some extra hours, I want to approach human resources and ask for clarification of the employee handbook rules regarding military reserve soldiers and see if those rules could apply to me. Taking this tack I think I might have a chance at convincing them.

It seems to me that fire is similar and an emergency service that I have the training to provide our country. Smokechasers are not contractually bound as members of the military are though. I also believe there are no laws requiring employers to give us last minute unpaid time off or even last minute vacation requests that would protect us from losing our year round job when we go out to mop up or cut scratch line for two weeks. If there were such laws, I think there'd be more of us.

I am still kind of a rookie, but the only way to get experience is to do it right?

So, does anyone have some more good arguments I can pose to my employer as to why they should allow me to leave for 14-18 days last minute and why they should put that in writing?

6/29 Abs, please share the following with those who have yet to see their 1st paycheck, they must realize that Gov't pays bills as per a mandated time schedule. Not to cause worries to the new FFs, but:

#1 never bank on cash until you see it;
#2 no one should bet on a timely 1st pay check.
#3 one transposed letter or number can & will cause a delay;
#4 new Gov't hires - it takes time for your paperwork to be in place;
#5 double ditto for contractor employees who shouldn't be at the mercy of their employer's accounting practices.
= = = = = = = = = = = =
it may sound like BS to readers; please consider:
#5(a) some contractor's invoices must be reviewed by a contract manager before authorized & forwarded to the agency accounting office for payment. the contractor must have required IRS info and proof of current workmen's compensation insurance, etc. on file.
#5(b) < more than anyone cares to know>
CA agency nightmare: maybe some criteria has changed, but to my knowledge all agencies have up to 30 business days from the USPS date on the envelope before cutting a check in payment of non controversial "vendor" invoices (before fines/interest fees are assessed, or mail demand for supporting documentation). legally, CA State Controller's Office cannot pay a non compliant vendor.
#6 anyone who works for a contractor: if your company didn't submit a letterhead invoice as per the terms of their contract = SNAFU (kicked back for additional supporting documentation). that should not delay your paycheck!

#7 arrrgh< hit the wrong button and deleted #8 & 9> be happy, I gave myself a headache too.....
#10 most importantly, best wishes for a safe fire season y'all!
6/28 Anybody hear how the firefighter bit by the rattlesnake in AZ is doing?


6/28 R4Helitack Guy

It wouldn't be R-4 if the guy that thinks he might get a fire takes
precedence over the guy that has a fire. It is truly the home of
CYA. How many R-4 helicopter crews are at their home base?

6/28 So soon we forget!

Sunday June 26th was the 15th anniversary of the Dude Fire blowup that killed 6
firefighters: June, real hot, dry, Arizona, big fires.........sounds like 1990 deja vu
all over again in 2005?

6/28 Seafire... re out of state

The Sawtooth Hotshots are working the Blue Springs fire in southern Utah right now
and 5 blm engines from the Idaho Falls district are deployed to Utah also. Word has
it that as many resources as possible are being retained at home station for the 4th of
july weekend, I'm sure we'll get busy then.

R4Helitack Guy
6/28 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
6/28 Look who's getting hammered with lightning.



6/28 Is Arizona's Cave Creek Complex going to be larger than the Rodeo Chedeski?


6/28 Rogue Drogue/Lobotomy/joatmon

I'm wondering the actual benefits of hiring into the apprenticeship program. I've been in the Forest Service for 7 years now, right after I got out of college. I've been on engines, hotshot crews, IA crews, and details on helitack crews. My training mostly came on my own dime, during the off season, driving coast to coast for classes. I'd like to make the argument that someone who really has a desire to be in federal fire has a better chance of making his or her own training opportunities by taking seasonal jobs, building a network of contacts across the country to develop a rounded view of fire in different regions, and working to improve themself in a myriad of off season training opportunities- both related directly to fire and other areas within the Forest Service.

The apprenticeship program seems to be somewhat of a failure in recruiting employees who really want matriculate in federal service as a career. If the 50% retention rate (as quoted by lobotomy) is accurate, I'd say we need to take a close look at either how the program is run, or who we are recruiting into these positions.

As I understand the rules, the employee is required to stay in federal service for 3 times the amount of training hours. Basing a season on 1040 hours of training a year for 3 years, (lots of folks are 13/13's) the employee will have to work 3120 hours (1.5 full years) to complete training before being converted into a GS-5 appointment. Once that is completed, the employee must remain in federal service (any federal agency?) for 9360 hours (4.5 full years). At a minimum, we are asking folks, some with no fire experience at all, to commit to a career path for 6 years, without actually knowing if they like the job or not. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Look at the average college student who is approximately the same age. College now takes 4 to 5 years to complete, with many students changing their minds about their career paths within the first 2 years.

I understand that there are lots of folks who the apprenticeship program is the perfect way to kick off their career, but it seems that there are an equal number of folks that find out after a year or two that it isn't the path for them.
We should look at recruitment and focus on employees that have fire experience and a desire to excel in federal service.

6/28 re: preparedness levels

I'd wondered the same thing, since we clearly have three regions cooking and Type 1 teams assigned. I think from a political viewpoint, the more critical level comes as we approach a V because of various agreements and regulations affecting activation of MAFFS and military resources. (Of course, we were using MAFFS for initial attack last year during a variety of levels, so I guess little is set in stone.)

Oh man, NIFC in DC; who wants to pay that bill? And I have detailed to WO fire in August: not a pretty site. That hotdog stand on the corner makes even the worst fire camp kitchen look like a four star restaurant! Funny that they won't let you pitch your tent out on the National Mall.


6/28 ncbrush6,

I worked for a contractor once that took over three weeks to pay. I told them if they don't start paying sooner, then I will not work for you next year. Things changed, and I received my wages two weeks after returning from the fire. I would ask your boss where is my pay, if he says that he doesn't have it yet, or the Forest Service has not sent them a check yet, that is a bunch of bull! If he says this, then look for a different contractor to work for. There are many out there that are great to work for. Something you might like to know. The new rule is, after you have been released from a fire, the Forest Service has two weeks to pay the contractor, an the contractor should pay you. I feel for you, hope things get better.


6/28 I've been doing some catching up and a few things have caught my eye and given me the urge to respond...

For anyone who is new to They Said, read the letter(s) from KRS, his story is a very good one to be aware of. We need to realize the very real implications of being hurt and how the system handles it.

For NVJim, as someone who has over 20 years of fireline experience and also quite a few years (interspersed with fire time) in dispatch, and now as an AFMO, I would not shy away from a SafeNet. It is not a punitive action and unless you have supervisors or dispatch personnel who are open to comments and constructive criticism you may experience delays in anything getting done. I for one, and this may be unique, encourage my staff to file SafeNets if they are not getting the responses from either myself or other supervisors. This is a very very very valuable system by which we can bring recognition to a problem or issue which needs immediate attention - and I would consider communications to fall into that category. Speaking to a supervisor is, in theory, the best way in which to deal with this situation, but not always possible. And to someone who said that there is a fire requirement for dispatch personnel (and I may have that wrong), I checked with 7 different dispatches (a total of 41 people) and 7 of them had any fireline experience. NO ONE had heard about that requirement. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't believe you, I actually do. I had never heard of it either!

For the person who was from the Pike I believe, you have a unique situation with your dispatch and all I can say is God be with you. That's a management issue which isn't likely to be solved in the near future, I've experienced it first-hand and it ain't pretty - nor is it safe.

I hope there is future discussion here about the best, fastest, and most realistic ways to bring recognition to communication issues. Because these are real and serious problems which aren't being alleviated each year in some areas (Pike for example) and it is very dangerous. A SafeNet will CYA too. I am one person who supports my employees in doing what they feel they need to do in order to be safe.

Former R1 Heli
6/28 Like gizmo's and seafire's posts of 6/27 and 6/28, I've been wondering for
the past couple years why we're not at level III on the situation report.
I used to measure it by number of active crews. When we would hit around
200 it would bump up to level three. But in the last 2-3 years, we would
hit that mark and we would stay at level II. I have to admit I don't know
what the standards are for going from one level to the next. I'm sure
there are standards.

Of course, if its like many other standards recently, you just change the
standard and BINGO, you have fewer fires, right? Has the standard changed
in the past few years? Perhaps that's what happened. Or, as AB suggested,
maybe we're just in a state of de Nile with the rain in Boise. Anyone want
to detail to DC in August once (or if) NIFC moves there? I didn't think

6/28 ncbrush6

I would look for another contractor, if you haven't been paid in two months then
that isn't one I would continue to work for.

I have worked for a few and all of them have paid within two weeks of coming
back from a fire, sometimes sooner. If I had to wait two months or more to get
paid, I would be living down at the river. So after a month I would be looking for
another company and get in contact with the labor board. A company is only as
good as their crew, if they don't pay and lose their work force they won't be a
company anymore. but if you want to work for free that's your prerogative.

6/28 I apologize in advance for this question… could I get a down and dirty
description of the Apprenticeship Program that is being discussed.


No need to apologize. Permanent link on our Links page under Training/Education. Here's the direct link to their website. Apprenticeship Program. Thanks to those folks and the people who contribute time teaching for a JOB WELL DONE. It's always great to visit the Academy and feel the energy, excitement and passion for learning. Ab.

6/28 Ab, Excellent wildfire photo link to post. (2004)



6/28 This is a reply to Gizmo's post on National resources and Preparedness level.
I also would like to know why they haven't raised the level to the third level,
and for national resources, here in central Idaho, nobody has been dispatched
out of state yet. We hope it will be soon, we are tired of the rain.

6/28 I like to ask something of all the contract firefighters.. i worked for a pvt contractor
and have not gotten paid yet.. it has been 2 months.. what steps do i need to take
to collect my money?.. thanks

6/27 Ab, I was wondering if anyone knew why we were still in national preparedness level 2? I know there has been competition for national resources over the last week.

From: www.nifc.gov/fireinfo/pl_desc.phpl

Preparedness Level II – One region of the country is experiencing high fire danger. Wildland fire activity is occurring, and there is a potential for escapes to larger fires.

Preparedness Level III – Two or more regions of the country are experiencing wildland or prescribed fire activities requiring a major commitment of national resources. Additional resources are being ordered through the National Interagency Coordination Center. Incident Management Teams are committed in two or more regions, or 275 crews are committed nationally.

Preparedness Level IV – Two or more regions of the country are experiencing incidents requiring Type I Teams. Competition exists for resources between Geographic Areas. Or when 425 crews or five Type I Teams area committed nationally. Some firefighting resources may be pre-positioned to respond to predicted incidents and liaisons are established with the military and Canadian resources.


Denial? It's raining in Boise. Imagine what we'll be up against if/when NIFC moves to Washington DC. (tongue firmly in place) Ab.

6/27 Ab,

Just got word that multiple lighting fires from the past 36 hours are burning together and consuming a portion of the NPS Scenic Area in the Mojave Desert, which is about 80 miles south of Las Vegas, NV. There was a very heavy annual grass build up from the spring rains and several years of below normal rainfall. The area involved was former BLM land that the NPS took over. Cattle grazing was ended in most of the area by NPS and stock tanks remove. Water is now reported to be a very scarce commodity.

Fuels include pinion pine, pinion juniper, sagebrush, Joshua trees. Elevation is from about 3000 ft to a mountain range about 8000 ft, if it continues to burn north. This was a very scenic high desert area, so no sand dunes, etc in the fire area.

Fire overhead have been hampered by numerous other regional fires depleting suppression forces, especially in the early stages yesterday. Pray that everyone stays safe in mid to upper 100 degree range daytime temperatures.

6/27 Heres some pics of burnt vehicles from the infamous Waterfall fire in Carson City NV, 2004,
a nighttime fire silhouette and the two, 20 person crews: Slide Mountain Crews of 2005.


Nice ones. I put them on Handcrews 17 and Engines 14. Ab.

6/27 There seems to be some confusion as to reimbursement of fees associated with the JAC. Everybody knows someone who voluntarily separated and wasn't billed. They then spread the rumor that "you won't be billed because so and so wasn't". Here's what happened when they weren't billed. The DR, BC, FMO, Supervisor or forest apprentice coordinator never relayed the information to the regional coordinator (R5 Shirley Sutliff). If she doesn't know the reason for separation she can't bill. Most forests are getting better about this but in the past some apprentices quit and weren't billed. There are also some exceptions but they are limited. In the future, however, I wouldn't hold my breath that I wouldn't be billed.


It is my understanding that all who voluntarily separated are being tracked down and billed. The current budget situation doesn't allow for the alternative. Ab.

6/27 Ab,

Impressive afternoon (now morning) smoke plume coming from Arizona, columns
from southern Utah are visible also. Found this on the GOES website at:


6/27 Here is some lingo for the apprentice questions circulating lately...


The USFS apprentices will be required to sign a Service Agreement, under 5 U.S.C. Section 4108, that will stipulate he/she agrees to remain in federal service for a period three times the length of their training period. The term “training period” is defined as the term hours identified in their Department of Labor Agreement. If the apprentice fails to meet the requirements of the service agreement, he/she agrees to reimburse the agency for the tuition and related fees, travel and other special expenses (excluding their salary) paid in connection with their formal training. The estimated costs of the full program are approximately $7,000 per apprentice.

If the employee voluntarily separates from federal service while the agreement is in force they will be held liable for reimbursement to the agency.

Currently this is not a requirement for DOI apprentices.

A copy of the approved Service Agreement is found in Appendix F.


During their apprenticeship training period, apprentices are expected to perform work processes such as engines, helitack, and hotshots which may require that they work at a variety of duty stations. Working on a variety of modules will help prepare the apprentice for placement in future fire and aviation management positions.

At time of program completion, and depending on the hiring authority, the agency may choose to place an employee at a unit other than the one in which he/she was initially selected.

Currently this is not a requirement for BLM apprentices.

6/27 NorthNight

Things will always be new when the old timers leave the the room. You have to live with it and move on, I was the old dog in the woods with old ways. It does not mean I was always right. But I always believed in letting my folks talk about the problem first and then I would make the Call on the outcome. Your time will come alot sooner than you think. Some day right down the road you will be that old Dog with young pups to train. Keep your head up NorthNight. You will train around 100 plus before your time is done. You will sometime feel like its a waste, BUT ITS NOT. All of you New Folks Must learn to be Better than I was and bring all your Firefighters Home every time, all the time. To all of you out there your first thing is to STAY SAFE and remember all the trees and brush in the world can burn and it will grow back again BUT YOU WILL NOT!!!!!!!! SO Keep your eyes on the Ball.

OLD Tmo/Spike

6/26 Here is the Region 6 web page. Not all links are up yet.


Maybe someday it will be as good as R3's site.

Stay safe out there!

6/26 Rogue Drogue,

Despite the reality of being held financially responsible for breach of
contract, what about these people's "word" and "character". To be forced to
adhere to a contract by means of financial punishment should be the furthest
thing from one's mind. What should be foremost in one's mind (in my opinion)
is to do fulfill the obligations both parties have agreed to. Don't you
think??? In the case of sick parents, death of a loved one etc, I'm sure there
are some means of exiting w/o punishment in the case of hardship (aka mercy).

It seems a lot of people are looking for a way out their obligations and
duties. I even find myself with the disease of wanting something for nothing
from time-to-time! I really have to watch myself!! I personally think this
something-for-nothing "syndrome" is a big drag on our economy and society.

Off my soap box now....

6/26 Hey Abs,

I couldn't believe it when I saw it. We couldn't shut down a road due to
County politics, so they were letting people drive down the road during a
burn this spring. The photographers name is Phil Floraday. He's a student
at Ohio University. If people want to use the pic, they will have to
contact me or Phil.

I'll be submitting it for the wildland firefighter calendar.

Please post the pic and share.

Type 1 wrench

I put it on Engines 14 'cause looks like there's some engines around there somewhere and what else do you do with a Harley? Ab.

6/26 Found your website, great service...

Just a photo I thought I would share... Martis Fire Truckee CA 2001

Esther M

Wow, look at that column. I put it on Fire 27. Thanks also to the Willow Fire photographer whose pic is posted on that same page. Ab.

6/26 I have just found this photo I took on 8/24/04 at CDC........ In loving memory.

Ryan Hales

T-26, a sad loss of good men. I put it on Airtankers 16 photo page. Ab.

6/26 from Mike E:

Hi Ab, Here's Tanker 23 at Minden on 6-22-05. She was there in support of the "Badger" fire in Carson City.

and from Claude St-Pierre, Canada, a photo called "de yellowknife"

Nice ones. I put them on Airtankers 16 photo page. Ab.

6/26 From Andrew H

From Burns B: North Fork of the Shoshone National Forest. Spring Burns

From Wayne P3: Eat fire LA County off I-5 freeway 2004 August... crew rescue (4) from heat exhaustion

Thanks, I put 'em on Helicopters 19, Engines 14, and Fire 27 photo pages . Ab.

6/26 Ab,

Here are some air tanker pictures from the secret fire in arizona.
in one of the pictures is Kingman Engine 261;
the night pictures are from the shinner fire in arizona.
the BLM engine is our own Montana 264! GET SOME!


I put them on Airtankers 16 and Fire 27 photo pages. Ab.

6/26 Cool Fire Weather/Behavior Pic


Here is a once in a lifetime shot of what happens when a fire creates its own weather. On this day we had a lightning strike start a 800 acre fire on the Green River/Uintah River confluence in NE Utah on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation (BIA UOA). A small thunder cell started to develop just south of this smoke column and eventually the columns sucked up the cell and when they merged we had a good little lightning event. Robert Lee (BIA Fire Mgmt.) took the picture as we (Blaine Tarbell- BIA Fuels, Chris Secakuku - BIA Forester, and Kirby Arrive - BIA FMO) collaborated our strategy. If anyone wants a better copy of this pic, email me at c1secakuku@yahoo.com.

Chris F-8

It is remarkable, I put it on Handcrews 17. Ab.

6/26 JAFO, You have made a good observation, only a few contract engines are working in the Southwest and zero elsewhere. The political climate for contract engines in Region 5 (California) is very negative. South OP.s won't use 'em and North OP.s is limiting the total number of engines even able to sign-up to 15. Even this 15 engine sign-up is being held-up because of a GAO protest- so Region 5 engine contractors have no way to work. This smacks of Restriction of Commerce by the R5 USFS. R5's decision to not use contract engines defies Federal mandates to use the private sector. Think about this; many resources are not going to be used this season, small companies are going under, a huge resource is being eliminated and the American public is going to loose thousands of more acres to wildfire just because the R5 fire administration won't comply with federal policy. The R5 fire administration needs to re-think their policy on the use of contract resources, move into the 21st century and give the American public the service that they are paying for. CDF is mixed-up in all of this and they are not in favor of private engines either- private engines are competition to them in their quest to tap into the Fed. fire dollar. These are not good times for the private sector companies and it is only going to get worse.

6/26 Rogue Drogue,

I would have to wonder if it is also being enforced. I know of a Forest that initially tried to hire 99 apprentices. They were only able to hire 88 because there was obviously a RECRUITMENT PROBLEM.

After less than two years, only 45 apprentices are left from that group. This obviously shows a RETENTION PROBLEM. (Nearly a 50% loss rate for those hired and even a higher rate for those attempted to be hired)

I wonder how well the service agreements for the 0401 training will be received in light of how well the apprentice service agreement process has worked. Aside: If you can't keep folks at all levels in their positions, and cannot fill the void from below with qualified people who will fill the future leadership positions, how will the land management agencies last?

The answer is doctrinal change and review, recruitment and retention is KEY TO SAFETY. When something doesn't work, it must be fxed.

Someone told me once to stick just with the facts, so my post is going to be short and verifiable.

6/26 Rogue Drogue,

I have now met one person who was nailed for the whole $10,000. My supervisor
has also been called by the academy, looking for information on the where-a-bouts
of individuals who have left federal employment, specifically for the pay back.

Also, things may have changed (shocker eh?...) but as of two years ago, the BLM
did not hold their apprentices to a service agreement......Just the USFS.

6/26 Thank you for the updates on the Incident information page. It is very informative.
Sounds like So. Cal and AZ are ripping pretty good.
I've been out of fire for a few years. But I miss the action when it moves fast.
I was curious. Is it mainly fed engines in AZ now? i.e. USFS, BLM, NPS, FWS etc.?
Is the government still using contract engines?

-JAFO now-
6/25 Question regarding an apprentice leaving USFS before the commitment is up:

Does anyone know of somebody that the USFS or BLM actually went after financially to reimburse the training costs of the JAC program?

I have known several people that had to leave the program for different reasons, and nobody went after them for the $$. I know they make you sign, threaten you, scare you, etc, but I'm curious if they actually have gone after anyone.

Rogue Drogue

Yes, Ab has heard of a number of people who have been held financially accountable.

6/25 Dear 0081:

1) The vast majority of federal wildland firefighters are classified as 0462, Forestry Technicians. For years we have worked, and continue to do so, to develop a classification more suitable for our "firefighters." Its sad when all the politicians, agency heads etc., speak about our folks and call them firefighters but won't work to classify them as such.

2) Send me a name and address and I'll get you a PD

3) Federal wildland firefighters were not affected by the 0081 rewrite. This was consistent with the IAFF's "carving out" of the wildland firefighter provisions in the 1994-1998 legislation entitled The Federal Fire Fighter Pay Equity Act, which, if you've been in since 1998, know provided some semblance of pay reform to DoD and other federal firefighters but not wildland folks.

4) By and large, federal wildland firefighters are represented by The National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE). Members of the FWFSA were affiliated with the IAFF until the summer of 2003 but that relationship was for legislative/political purposes, not contractual.

5) Sadly, there are still GS-2's & 3's being brought in for a job in which they risk their lives. This is also still seen in the Army and Navy where GS-3's are still being brought in.

6) The DoD certification program, since its inception has been as nutty and mismanaged as the new 401 classification being pounded down the throats of wildland firefighters. I'm sure there is someone out there that can answer that question better than I.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

Thanks Casey, I wasn't aware of the Series 0081 rewrite. Ab.

6/25 I am a 0081 series firefighter that works for DoD and was wondering if you could answer some of my questions.

1. What is the official job title for wildland crews?

2. Where can I find a PD (Position Description) for these crews?

3. Were any of these federal crews affected by the firefighter rewrite this past year?
  • If so how did it affect the USFS and BLM firefighters?

4. Are wildland crews represented by a Union?

5. What is the typical starting GS level for the USFS and BLM?

6. What certifications are required for entry level wildland crews and what is required to reach the target GS level? Example: a 0081 firefighter at the GS 5 entry needs to at least have state certifications at FF1, HazMat Awareness and EMT and 1 full year of structural experience. To reach our target level of GS-7 we need to have FF1&2, HazMat Tech or NREMT-B plus Driver Operator Pumper/Aerial.

just need some info.

Readers, maybe someone can reply to his specific questions. As for rewrite, I don't know if you mean the new professional standards for non 0081 firefighters, but here is a little info and some resource links for IFPM standards (IFPM =Interagency Fire Program Management,). To advance up the career ladder in fire, you will have to meet IFPM standards.

The 14 positions that are affected by the IFPM Standards are:

* Interagency Hotshot Crew Superintendent (technical)
* Helicopter Manager (technical)
* Senior Firefighter (technical)
* Engine Module Supervisor (technical)
* Supervisory Fire Engine Operator (technical)
* Initial Attack Dispatcher (technical)
* Wildland Fire Operations Specialist (professional or technical)
* Prescribed Fire and Fuels Specialist (professional or technical)
* Prevention and Education Specialist (professional or technical)
* Initial Attack Lead Dispatcher/Assistant Center Manager (technical)
* Center Manager (professional or technical)
* Unit Fire Progam Manager (professional)
* Geographic Area Fire Program Manager (professional)
* National Fire Program Manager (professional)

(In answer to another question that came in recently about online courses for Fire Managers: List of IFPM Web-based Courses and Universities offering them from U Idaho; under "Courses", click the online Courses (download EXCEL Spreadsheet))

6/25 Mellie,

(regarding your post from 6/21...)

You betcha' CDF recommends that a "newbie" go to work for the USFS to get experience first, that is a very common suggestion.... and not just from CDF either. The same thing was recommended to me in 1998 and still continues today. ( and I've always been in NorCal...)

As for apprentices being liable for their training.... (the service agreement)...

If you become an apprentice, love the Forest Service, and plan to stick with the agency....but find out that you literally can't afford to... you're stuck. The "period of time" that you refer to Mellie, is MASSIVE. An apprentice is committed to a minimum of 5 years, and upwards towards 10.... It's not just an "if they drop out" thing...

By the time I am free and clear of MY service agreement and no longer liable for my training, I will have been employed (from the first day of academy) for roughly 9 years......... and believe me...... I 've checked and double check my math....

SO....If a firefighter takes an apprenticeship, and finds themselves struggling financially, they CAN leave, but the organization WILL want roughly $7,000 to $10,000 from them. It's a painful price to pay when apprentices already earn less than unemployment insurance on their base hours....... and are committed to it.

Mellie, these facts are ripping the hearts and minds out of MANY apprentices. If the USFS has an admitted retention problem with these folks, there are much better and more positive ways of retaining folks.

Here to the last penny,

6/25 Ab, quick note:

For those who have been commenting on the void at the South Ops website, there's
an internal FS outreach going on: GS-11, Series 460. Check the intranet. It's a good
opportunity to learn how management works.

Tahoe Terrie

6/25 With the coming of the new season there's something I believe everyone needs to be aware of- What will happen if you are injured. Not a stubbed toe- A long term "Career ending event".

How do I know what will happen? On 31 Oct 2001 my back was broken on the Redbird District of the Daniel Boone N.F. while fighting an arson fire. Long story short, I'll spend my life in a wheelchair, cannot feel or move anything below my chest, and will never walk again. Since I'll never recover, I'm "stuck" in OWCP.

Anyway, here's the money side of what happened to me, and what will happen to you.

I get $1,845 a month as "disability" from OWCP. Why that number? They took my GS-5 yearly base pay, lopped 1/3 off the top because I have no dependants (they'll take 1/4th off if you have a wife / kids) chopped it into 12 equal payments, and that's what I get. That 1000 hours of overtime I worked in the 2001 season? It doesn't count. I worked more overtime than base hours, and they don't count.

OWCP expects me to retrain myself, get a job, and get off the "dole". Would be great if I'd just smashed a knee & couldn't hike anymore or something, but with my injuries it's difficult to be awake & sitting for 10 hours at a stretch- Not enough time to hold down a 40 hour a week job. So even if I retrained myself, it's unlikely I'd be able to find a job I could do, and an employer willing to deal with me missing work whenever I hurt too much.

So what's left? I could work for myself. I'd be my own boss, and would easily be able to justify the "I cannot come to work today because I hurt too much to get out of bed" phone-call to myself. (For those of you who doubt my pain level, I'm on 40mg of methadone & as many percocet as I can eat every day. Some days the pain still shines through.) But even if I work for myself, there's still a problem. That $1,845 a month that falls into my bank account? Say I get a job & make $500 in a month. OWCP will only give me $1,345 for that month, so effectively I've worked for free. Any money I make in a month will be taken out of that $1,845 – even if I volunteer somewhere.. They want to know the monetary value of the volunteering I did, and will take those dollars out.

It's happening to me, and if you're injured & can no longer work, it will happen to you. I've a letter in to Senator Feinstein's office asking why OT isn't counted, and why it is that long term OWCP disability payments are set up this way. I can see someone being injured for a few months- 2/3 base pay for bills & food would be Great, and sure when that person heals & can go back to work, cut off the payments. But if someone is permanently injured & cannot work, why are they in the same system?

Had I sustained this same injury while in the Military, they would have "fixed" me as best they could, I'd be discharged, and I'd get X% disability for life, regardless of what I did or how much I made at another job. Why is a Federal firefighter any different? That is also a question I asked Senator Feinstein. I have no answers yet, and I'd imagine they'll take time. But as its set up now any extra money I make is taken from me. I *cannot* work some extra hours or something if I have a need for more money. I'm stuck at my $1,845 a month (with COLA increases when they happen) for life.

Let me say that again: For the rest of my life, that $1,845 a month is all I get. Nothing more. Even if I get a job, I don't get to keep the money.

I've written this for two reasons: To let you know what will happen when you are injured, and ask for help in changing the system. Put yourself in my shoes & imagine how frustrated you'd be. Another problem I have though is if I get any help, if you decide what happened to me would be a Bad Thing if it happened to you, and you want to help, I don't know what to tell you. I don't know where to go for help. So I guess what I / we need first is the name of the person or group who has the power to change the system, and then we have to get together & convince them that it needs to happen. We all know firefighting is hazardous, and as time goes on more of us will sustain career ending injuries.

Don't think it can happen to you? I thought the same thing on Halloween morning 2001. Look where I am now.

I hope someone out there has an idea as to how to fix this.. And if any of you would like to contact me you can do so here: http://krstofer.org/email.php I'd just put up my address, but I'm still weeding spam from the last time I did that.

Thank You to all who have helped in the past, and to any who do the same in the future.
6/25 -Al and Others wondering

Yes, all the GACC's are going to the new web sites. Definitely for the better. NOPS and SOPS are in the works. I have seen proto types and been asked to advise and what we, the dispatch, community might like to see on the wed pages. They will be very much like the other, some items missing some other items listed. Exact date of being up and running? That I can not tell you yet. When I know I will pass it on. Very shortly I do believe though.
All these site are a work in progress, getting better each time.

I do know that more than just the dispatchers at the GACC are involved, IRM, Web masters, computer folks, and of course all of our favorite folks, End User Support Center. But I have confidence it will happen.

6/24 I'm seeking a large high resolution photo of a faller (firefighter in nomex, safety gear) cutting a very large tree, like the one of the WY IHC faller that was posted the other day. It's for a special project that requires large printed photos. Ab.


The office of the Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management, (OPM) Mr. Dan Blair, located in Washington D.C., today contacted Casey Judd, Business Manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA) to seek a meeting between the two on HR 408, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act.

As many know, the FWFSA is the primary sponsor of the legislation which would provide portal to portal pay for federal wildland firefighters (as defined) and include hazard pay in retirement calculations.

Recently, a copy of a draft letter from OPM opposing the legislation, made its way among federal wildland firefighters and ultimately to Mr. Judd's desk. As a result, the FWFSA launched what was a very successful campaign to seek names to be used in a petition seeking hearings on the legislation. A copy of the petition was also faxed to OPM Acting Director Blair, along with a scathing e-mail from the FWFSA to OPM personnel involved in the crafting of the draft letter, denouncing the inaccurate and misleading information in the OPM letter destined for the subcommittee chairman and suggesting that OPM and the FWFSA sit down to reach accord to benefit the Nation's federal wildland firefighters.

For more information, please contact Casey Judd at FWFSAlobby@aol.com or (916) 515-1224.

6/24 Re: Re: NVJims dispatcher question & northern cali’s "confront" advice.

After a few swats on my 'puppy ass' as well, I have learned a couple of things too. Let's just say there's no need to go into details; photos and negatives have been destroyed, and the right people paid off handsomely. ;-)

Before engaging in a confrontation; which I have been known to do, from time to time, on rare occassions, take some advice from Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."

"Seek first to understand, THEN to be understood."

(This fine publication is also on the professional reading list at www.fireleadership.gov and available at many retail and online book sellers, including Amazon, which, by the way, benefits Wildlandfire.com if you use the link.)

6/24 Why does CDF bury any useful information about current incidents so deeply
in their website as to be of no use? As a member of the public, let me say that
this critical information for survival should be readily accessible.


In my opinion the internet is vastly underutilized for providing information in emergency situations. This has been changing for the better and undoubtedly will continue to change. You might send your complaint to the webmaster of the CA state website. Often those non-emergency people in charge of larger websites don't see the need for easily accessible emergency information. Firefighters who read here have little to do with the state website. It is frustrating though, isn't it? Ab.

6/24 To Doug @ Sierra Communications (they said);

I visited Mann Gulch in October of 04. I have some pics I'll share.
You can reach me via Ab.


I forwarded your email. Thanks for the response. Ab.

6/24 Re: NVJims dispatcher question & northern cali’s "confront" advice.

There are already several good messages offering better suggestions for NVJims’ dispatcher issue instead of confronting the dispatcher and finding out what their problem is. The Merriam-Webster dictionary indicates their first definition of confront is: “to face especially in challenge”.

A long time ago, I learned a valuable (and expensive) lesson that this may not always be the best approach. In an attempt to spare others here a similar experience, I’ll share the lesson learned. At the time, I was the acting supervisor of a 10 person IA handcrew. There were 4 of these crews on my forest at the time; we frequently joined to create 20 person crews for off-forest assignments. A rotation system was in place to fairly distribute dispatches.

One day, two crews were assembled and dispatched out of region. Since my crew was number one on the rotation and appeared to have been skipped over, I was determined to find out why. I soon received a report that a new dispatcher chose not to dispatch us due to a rumor my crew was “didn’t get along” with the number 2 crew in the rotation. And, that the dispatcher took it upon themself to skip us and sent the second and third crews instead. Well, by God, I wasn’t going to take that kind of BS from anyone, especially a rookie dispatcher! We jumped in our crew buggie and tore off down the hill to the Supervisor’s Office where the dispatch center was located. Stomping into the ECC, I quickly located and confronted the dispatcher who had allegedly performed the despicable deed.

It only took me a couple of minutes to get to the bottom of the issue and set the dispatcher straight. As I swaggered towards the exit, head held high, confident there would be no more misunderstandings with that dispatcher, a gentleman stepped from behind a partition and watched me pass. Even with my limited experience and awareness, I was able to recognize him as the forest supervisor. My righteous confidence may have faltered slightly, but I then quickly considered it just as well he overheard. As we roared out of the parking lot headed home, I even imagined he might initiate an investigation of the incompetent dispatcher.

Well . . . he began investigating all right. The next morning, I was rudely woken by an incessantly loud vehicle horn blaring outside my trailer. Before I could get out of bed, the trailer began rocking from a hammering on the door. As I hastily donned a pair of pant and stepped out, I was “confronted” by one red faced and very hostile District FMO. As I sleepily focused on a here-to-fore unnoticed throbbing vein in his forehead, he advised how he had first received a phone call at 0600 from an irate District Ranger and then another from a very concerned Forest FMO. He communicated to me in a manner I clearly understood, that I had five minutes to get dressed and have my “puppy ass” in the passenger side of his pickup.

To save me from reliving the rest of that humiliating day, not to mention the following few embarrassing weeks, let me just say there was an amazingly long list of folks who appeared very eager to “confront” me. I don’t recall that my crew or I ever made if off-forest again that year. It even seems like things were slower than normal for me personally the following year. Coincidence, you think?

I’m able to find a little humor in this memory now and hope you all can too. I hope it’s also as obvious to you as it is to me that there were many other ways for me to approach the issue. As it turned out, it was incorrect that the dispatcher I had heard to blame was at fault. They not only didn’t make the decision, they argued against it on my crew’s behalf. Our missing the rotation was a political decision made by the Forest FMO.

An interesting side note is that the dispatcher discussed herein went on to become what I believe to be one of the top ECC managers in the Region. I base that belief on the fact that I went on to become the ECC manager on an adjoining forest to them. While in that position, I observed that the lesson I learned so long ago is still apparently widely unknown. From squad bosses to battalion chiefs, certain folks seem to think it just fine to grab the phone and begin questioning, yelling at, or berating individual dispatchers. As the ECC manager, I’m proud to say I cheerfully applied my old lesson learned and spanked (or caused to be spanked) each and every “puppy ass” having the audacity to confront any of my dispatchers.

I’m not saying all dispatchers are always right, well trained, or even very qualified. I am saying confrontation is usually a very poor alternative and can lead you down a path you do not want to go.

Ab, thanks for the forum and sorry for the length of this post. Maybe there could be a WLF “real life lessons learned” area of some sort, where firefighters can share their stories to help other firefighters. Just sign me,

“been there, done that, didn’t get any new t-shirts that year”

Sounds like a good idea to have a "Lessons Learned" section. Ab.

6/24 Abs-

Here's the link to the new GACC website:


Not all GACCs have adopted the new template yet, ONC/OSC being notable exceptions.


Thanks for the heads up, -AL. I'm glad someone rejected the weird bubble gum, glow-in-the-dark colors of the initial GACC map. The new colors are much more in keeping with the work. Ab.

6/24 Two Bendix King radios for sale on the Classified Page – One GMH mobile & one GPH portable in great condition.


6/24 In response to the post for 6/23 regarding the Native American who retired
from the Klamath NF, R5, her name is Florence Conrad. Florence retired as
the ADFMO from the Ukonom Ranger District. The Ukonom is now consolidated
with the Orleans District of the Six Rivers. She was always there for us
and got us out the door to fires. She has been active as a base camp
manager since she has retired.


Thanks K and welcome. Sorry for the delay on posting this. Your email got caught in the spam filter. Ab.

6/23 Here's one more set of comments on Fine Flashy Fuels that shout watchout.

Fine Fuels, 2005


6/23 Hello,

I am working on finishing a music video dedicated to fallen wildland firefighters
and I was looking for the public domain shot of the white crosses at Mann Gulch.

I have searched all over for the photo. Could you help me?

Thank you for your assistance.

Doug Kohl
Sierra Communications


6/23 Ab-

In relation to the question regarding the Native American woman firefighter from the Klamath NF, I believe you might be looking for Florence Conrad. She is a Karuk Indian woman that worked on the Ukonom District. She spent her whole career there as a firefighter/prevention tech. She retired in either 2000 or 2001 as an ADFMO.


I added the info. Thanks. Ab.

6/23 Link to the Cave Creek Complex website:


New link to "official" website (Whitney's Team site is now up):


Old Sawyer

6/23 Great Basin Area
Safety Alert

Subject: Heavy Fine Flashy Fuel Loadings and Potential for Extreme Fire Behavior
Area of Concern: Firefighter Safety

Distribution: STATEWIDE

Discussion: The wet winter throughout the Great Basin has caused tremendous fine fuel growth in native, non-native and noxious weeds. Specifically, the non-native and noxious weed components, cheat grass (Bromus tectorum) and Red Brome (Bromus rubens L) have increased the amount of fine flashy fuels.

Fuel loadings in fine fuels are heavy averaging 1500 to 2000 pounds dry weight. This has been reported in Idaho, Nevada, and Utah in the Canyon Lands and Great Basin ecosystems. Unusually heavy fuel loadings above 1000 pounds dry weight have also been reported in southern Nevada and southern Utah in the Mojave Desert ecosystem.

Fine fuels have been reported under stands of pinyon/juniper where it does not usually occur. Ignitions in these areas along with other ecological impacts from previous year's insect damaged and diseased vegetation along with the decreasing live fuel moisture values will be additive. Intensity and severity will increase and will significantly affect burning conditions.

Fire Behavior Concerns to Firefighters and the Public:
Anticipate fire to creep under wetlines and retardant lines in areas where fine fuel matting is seen.
Anticipate any ignition in flashy fine fuels to ignite easily and move rapidly. You can't out run it!
Anticipate fire whirls because of a combination of fine flashy fuels, terrain, dry atmospheric conditions and strong surface instability.
Anticipate large acres to be consumed in a short period of time.
Fire Behavior will burn the fine flashy fuels leaving some shrub components until the live fuel moisture values drop to about 115% to 120%. Watch out for re-burn situations!
Once the live fuel moisture values fall, flaming fronts will elongate and fires will burn with more intensity and fire behavior will become more extreme.
Anticipate fires to exhibit extreme spread rates, elongated flaming fronts, and increasing fire brands; expect more long range spotting.
Anticipate dependent and independent crown fires in the insect infested conifer stands.

Indirect tactics may have to be used earlier this year.
Ensure firefighters have good anchor points - keeping one foot in the black.
Have adequate numbers of Field Observers who understand the effects of weather changes, topography and can see the flaming front.

Thanks to EVERYONE who sent links and messages and docs. It's great to see the info in one form or another come in from FS, BLM, CDF, and a vollie and from NV, CA, NM, AZ, UT, ID and WY! Ab.

6/23 Another acronym for the list

FEMO (fire effects monitor)


Thanks, I added it. Ab.

6/23 Ab

I just found this safety alert listed for the Great Basin Area, this may be what you were looking for. Here is the link:
I hope the link works...

Be safe all
sign me
6/23 Ab:

Here's the link to the recent NWCG Fire Behavior Alert:

NWCG Safety and Health Working Team Fire Behavior Alert

And here's a link to the Southwest Area Fire Weather/Behavior Outlook with more specific information regarding firefighter safety in the Southwest Area:


6/23 Readers,

At different times during the last few days, fire behavior has caused overhead to pull firefighters off the line on fires in AZ and NV. (I don't know about soCAL, maybe there, too.) Some fires have been active at night, in some cases more active than during the day. Fine fuel loading is VERY HIGH because of the wet winter/spring. Some rumors are filtering in but all firefighters are safe so far.


I've heard that NWCG recently put out an ALERT. If someone has it, please forward so we can share it widely and so those in firecamp can print it off and distribute it. Lots of firefighters are moving into areas with different terrain and vegetation than they're used to. Be aware.

I think the primary SAFETY message for this season is


Someone told me the NWCG message warned people

  • If you must deploy, BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU DEPLOY A FIRE SHELTER. Given the dense amount of fuel, even areas that are burned may have a thick enough fuel mat that didn't completely burn that it could have an opportunity to reburn if the fire reverses direction. Digging down to mineral soil, that's the key.

First goal this season as every season: Everyone comes home healthy.


6/23 Dear Ab:

Just wanted to offer up our website for info/pics on Cave Creek Complex in Arizona:


Maggie Lineback

Readers, you have to register (free) to view some stories and videos. Ab.

6/23 Fires and pay:

I was in Yucca Valley (San Bernardino County), CA last weekend visiting the
first federal fire station I ever worked at. About the time I pulled into
the station a good sized fire was going in the town of Pioneertown, just
north of the city. I visited with the firefighter who was at the station on
days off, and who was hoping that some of her crew would return quickly so
she could go to the fire.

When I started there in 1987 as a GS-3 firefighter my hourly wage was $5.77
per hour. The woman I spoke to was a GS-4 firefighter and her hourly wage
for Southern California was something like $13.45 per hour. Right now I
work as a GS-7 Structure Firefighter and my wage is just a little more than
that per hour (but I work a 72hr workweek instead of a 40hr week).

When I worked there in 1987 it was a new BLM station in the Black Rock
Campground of the Joshua Tree NM, with an old 1975 International Model 51
leased from the Forest Service. The station itself was a dilapidated
single-wide mobile home which let critters in from all the holes in it.

Today it is one of the most modern inter-agency stations that has and NPS
Model 61 engine, and a BLM Model 14 and Model engine. This place is an
example of what all federal wildland stations should be made up like across
the nation. To the people who work there, you have the best of both worlds
with new equipment, a modern station, and an active area. Be proud of it.

While I was there last Saturday the fire was making good runs with moderate
winds, but the temperature that day was only 76 degrees. Looking at the
fire that is going on today in Morongo Valley (which is southwest and down
the hill from Yucca Valley) the temps were in the mid-100's.

This is going to be a busy season if what we are seeing in Southern
California continues.


6/23 Hi Ab, I have some input on your IMWTK page.

Actually, Ab has heard thru the grapevine that a Native American woman firefighter retired one or more years before Jennifer. She worked on the Klamath NF and continued (as of 2002) working in fire as an AD. Anyone knows her name, please let us know.)
I worked with a Native American woman firefighter named Mary Brooks on the Mad River District of the Six Rivers NF back in 1977 and '78. She is the Mother of John Chester who still works there and the grandmother of Jaycee Chester who works there as well. It seems to me that Mary retired in fire in the early 1990's. Here is a photo of our Engine crew in 1977.

I also wanted to add to the woman hotshot part that Celia Howe was a crewperson on the Hobart Hotshots in 1981. Thanks, Dianna

Thanks Diana, I'll post the pic soon. I'm still working through a virtual stack of them. I added the info to the IMWTK page. Ab.

6/22 Southern California desert fire threatens hundreds of homes

Brush Fire Consumes 7 Homes, Threatens Others

Socal CDF

Remember Readers, you can go to the News Page, click WLF News Search in the left-hand menu, and find current articles yourself. You can also click on WildWeb Dispatch and when forests come up, you can look for most recent vegetation fires or for resources that have been dispatched. Back on the main left-hand menu, you can look for fire and smoke maps, sit reports or GACC news and notes. If you haven't signed up for the hotmail list, you should. If you know of breaking fires or fire developments, we'd appreciate hearing about them. Ab.

6/22 Look at the virtual smoke plumes: Go here and zoom in (click repeatedly) on socal, the red dots

Here's another: http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/goeswestpacus.phpl put it on quality 75%
highlight the animate button, and click on socal which will animate it for that southern area. You
can see the actual smoke from the 2 columns. It doesn't work in the dark!

Be safe, All.
Drive carefully!


6/22 I know that SRF Crew 2 has been dispatched. Departed @ 1705hrs
en route to San Berdo. May they have a safe trip.

6/22 6 HS crews from The North end are heading to So Cal.
I don't know the exact destination but they are on the way.


Maybe Soboba Fire in RRU or Paradise in BDU, both are new fires. Paradise reports structures lost. Ab.

6/22 Abs, thanks for the hotlist forum!

Good info there. It's popping!


Yer welcome! Thank the dispatchers and firefighters who let us know. Ab.

6/22 Streaming video of the AZ fires, in one Jim Paxon (now a specialist for News Channel 12)
mentions resources coming in from out of state to battle fires.


Click on either Phoenix or East Valley audio scanner link, then click the link there to the right,
either of the two titles below for streaming video:

Clips Lightning Fires Spread Firefighters thin

I-17 reopen as firefighters gain control of Sunset Point Fire

Last night 80 firefighters were pulled off the line due to high winds.
This morning there was additional lightning that may yield fires

Firescribe (another one)

6/22 From Firescribe: most have photos of fire or SJs in tree

Arizona Central (AZ)
I-17 open as crews battle wildfire

Tahoe Daily (CA)
Wildfire burns east of Carson City: No structures threatened in Brunswick Canyon blaze

Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Fire edges closer to Fort Yukon

hazmat in the wildlands, AK firefighters beware
PCBs moved out of Yukon forest fire's way

USA Today (NJ)
Smokejumpers to check for Asian beetle

6/22 The only word of advice i have for you is if you forest that has a union
officer, try them and see what rights you have.

6/22 Just wondering what rights a seasonal employee might have.

A few weeks ago a seasonal GS-5 Forest Service employee was offered a permanent position as a GS-6 AFEO on a water tender. The offer was made over the phone, and the employee was given a start date of June 26. Today June 18, that employee was given a call from some HR folks resending the offer because they just got around to determining from the application that the employee was shy 3 months of service to qualify for the GS-6.

6/22 Anyone know if Lone Peak IHC was part of the search for the missing
Scout in UT? I saw them driving through Park City heading in that direction.

He was found alive and well today (yesterday) after four days lost.

Dave A

I heard the sheriff say on CNN that they had called in the "groundpounders" to help search. Ab.

6/22 Poppet Flats Rx Burn:

The attached news release: www.pe.com/breakingnews (requires sign in)

San Bernardino Federal Interagency Communications Center (according to their wildweb page at the time of the escape) dispatched 17 - type 3 engines, 3 hotshot crews, 1 airtanker, 1 helicopter, 3 water tenders, and misc. overhead.

"It was all acreage that was going to be part of the burn plan; they just weren't gonna burn it today,"

The infamous "Bedford Window" rears its ugly head again as lessons not learned and repeated.

Another note for today, it was the first day for aircraft competition and diversions to other fires in Southern California. Three other wildfires (Cabazon, Winchester, and Cariso) were occurring during the "controlled" burn.

Weather at a local RAWS station at the time of escape was: 100 degrees and 8% humidity at 15:10 hrs. The burn plan must have had a pretty broad set of parameters.

6/22 Todd's post is only the tip of any Gov't gravy train... i.e. the annual IRS reportable sum total. (add another 30% for benefits - I'm curious about the Fed cost ratio)
Do Fed agencies, other STATES, City or County FDs offer the same info?
The U.S. Public Right to Know LAW was enacted many years ago.

All CA State employment classifications, pay scales & criteria are listed on the spb.ca.gov. website. OT varies by the "clock" based on union contract. FLSA rules or is easily circumvented.

<I'm not naive enough to bet multiple Fed desk jockey brass aren't paid OT for sleeping at their desk or worse.
<< Do I know CA FFs are milking the system? most I knew retired; none have been invited to join me as I view a glorious summer solstice sunset.

6/21 whooohooooo,

fires in az, fire in nv, rumor of a cdf escape in socali.

can't wait. red bag is packed.

rarin to go

6/21 Like many of you, I was amazed at the $$ on the SFgate.com listing until I started thinking about issues behind it and some unspoken considerations.

Now those listed are the top earners. For the apples to apples comparisons we might want, it would have been better also to list the median income (average) for earners in each of the categories - that's the income that has 50% of incomes below and 50% above. They could do that for base pay, OT, and total then we'd have some good comparison numbers. Looking at what they did post, my guess is that median base pay for this level of professional, experienced Battalion Chief and Fire Captain are probably closer to between 65,000 to 55,000. Wow, that's still a lot of $$ in my book, but I don't live in soCal.

Since OT links to base pay, OT's probably also higher than it would be for Non-Top Earners for the same number of hours worked. There are many more non-top earners in any work force than there are top earners.

The CDF story that also doesn't get told in a listing like that is that the high earners with high OT are often those firefighters that are willing to step up and cover when there aren't enough firefighters on duty during an emergency. The captains that run the convict crews have to work overtime if their crews are needed to fight fire, else things could get veeeery interesting.

CDF also has people bailing their organization and going to city and county fire departments that pay more. I've also heard CDF has stations that are short staffed at times. Evidently the state bean counters figure it's cheaper to not fill positions and to pay OT instead, hence some inflated numbers.

Couple of last observations on the list... Everything gets thrown into the total that was posted, all the bennies, etc. And there's no comment on what they pay in earned income tax.

Just my perspective... That said, I heard from one kid who wanted a career with CDF (not in norCal) that those hiring suggested he get on with the FS and go to the FS Academy to get good training and experience. Hmmmm... doesn't seem fair. I was glad to hear that those going to the FS Academy have to work for the FS for a period of time to give back service for their training and if they drop out, they have to pay back the money for their training. Still, it's a curious mindset that was being fostered (by one person).


6/21 06/21/05-06/28/05-Last chance to apply for the 2005 Fire Season!
Temporary Forestry Technician positions with the Six Rivers Mad River
Handcrew located in beautiful remote Mad River, CA. A position on Mad
River Handcrew is an excellent opportunity for those interested in training
and operations focused on the creation of a Hotshot Crew. Members of the
Crew are provided ample opportunities to be "students of fire" and develop
the skills necessary to become future leaders in the Fire Service. Great
importance is placed on the attainment and retention of the qualifications
required of professional Wildland firefighter. Mad River Handcrew also
prides itself in its dedication to diverse and rigorous physical fitness
program aimed at providing Crew members with the strength, stamina, and
overall prowess to perform arduous work in a safe and effective manner.
Daily physical training includes running and hiking on the remote and
scenic trails of the Six Rivers as well as the use of strength training
equipment. Mad River Handcrew is a group of dedicated individuals
interested in working hard as a team and having fun.

Ernie Weber
Crew 4
Mad River Ranger Station
Six Rivers National Forest
(707) 574-6233 ext.264
6/21 Has anybody heard ANYTHING about the investigation of the tragic
burnover death of Eva Schicke on the Stanislaus last year? It's been 9
months and not a peep. There's a very eerie silence surrounding this
whole investigation .


Hi BCT, When asked in the past, Ab has done some research and "peeped" out on theysaid regarding the status of the CDF Helitack 404 Burnover Report. I just did some calling around again with your question and this is what I found out.

The report is moving along through the bureaucracy. The joint CDF and FS Board of Review met on May 11 and, as of Monday morning, it's in the hands of legal counsels for both agencies. After they're done doing what they do, it will be released. Not sure when that will be. Hopefully it won't be too long, although sometimes lawyers don't have one particular report at the top of their "to do" pile. Rest assured, though, it will be released.

6/21 Top Pay!!!

You know what? I have no problem paying people for their services and time
but that website made me want to puke! A FAE/PM making $130,000.00 a
year and we have men and women getting their A # ^ ES shot off for $30,000.00
in fun filled Iraq. What the hell is wrong with this picture?!


Those serving this country in Iraq and Afghanistan are not getting paid enough for the work they do and the risks they take. However wildland firefighters did not create that reality or set up the soldiers' pay scale. Please, Readers, let's keep the discussion here on a track that relates to fire. But I agree with you LH... Those who serve the USA around the world do us a great service. They have my thanks. Ab.

6/21 Here's what can await firefighters go from FS to CDF... These are top earners whose OT is high.
I have removed the names. Wonder what numbers are like for some of the socal city employees.
From this website: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/news/casalary/employee
The first number is salary, the second is overtime, third is total..
(Total pay includes salary, overtime and other compensation including bonuses, educational pay,
recruitment incentives and premium pay for working certain shifts. Source: California State
Controller's Office)
Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$70,407.68 $67,852.34 Total: $166,969.62

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$70,139.64 $63,812.58 Total: $165,741.30

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$70,407.68 $62,239.05 Total: $160,525.53

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$70,139.64 $50,992.78 Total: $152,999.62

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$70,407.68 $46,543.30 Total: $150,200.22

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$62,778.24 $56,376.60 Total: $147,908.40

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$59,983.49 $58,140.77 Total: $146,710.90

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$71,382.68 $37,966.59 Total: $144,083.09
Fire Captain
$60,824.61 $62,322.20 Total: $143,511.96

Fire Captain
$55,280.64 $66,589.11 Total: $140,497.43

Forestry Fire Pilot
$73,359.75 $52,088.21 Total: $140,153.47

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$70,407.68 $37,619.00 Total: $139,893.88

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$69,123.90 $39,147.56 Total: $139,736.90

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$71,039.64 $34,806.18 Total: $139,379.34

Battalion Chief (Nonsupervisory)
$66,344.72 $42,140.80 Total: $138,636.56


6/21 We hear about the socal FS firefighter wages being low and cost of living high.
Does anyone know what CDF makes in a year, batt chief or capt?
And of course we don't do it for $$ but it is a consideration if you can't afford
to live in the area you're in.

Just Curious in Washington, I left CA some years ago...

6/21 Watched the program on the weather channel at 4:00 p.m. yesterday.
I enjoyed the program & found it interesting.


Thanks mom.
More showings:
Monday, June 20, 2005
7:00 pm. EDT

Other Showings (EDT):

6/22 - 12 AM, 9 PM EDT or Pacific time: 9 PM
6/23 - 12 PM or Pacific time: 9 PM, 9 AM
6/24 - 7 PM or Pacific time: 4 PM
6/25 - 1 PM or Pacific time: 10 AM
6/25 - 4 PM or Pacific time: 1 PM

6/21 So here is a good question? In Jan I got a Cost of living raise of 3.26% and my Cost of living went up at least double that, plus My cost of living is at least 30% behind the curve already. The only bills I have are my Rent and Car insurance - both are static. The cost of food and gas are through the roof here. $2.45 a gallon is cheap here. How do I, with the help of several others, convince our management that they need to fight for Locality/Retention pay for our firefighters on the forest if not for all employees here. We are losing many good firefighters and are about to lose several more if something doesn't happen. I'm really stumped on how to approach this in a positive way with management. It seems as though alot of them are just dragging their heels with excuses until retirement so that they don't have to deal with it. And then new management will be like "Whoa" I'm new; for a few years they'll pull the same thing till they retire. How do we break this vicious cycle? Isn't it managements job to watch out and take care of their troops. Fight the good fight that sort of thing? What ever happened to taking care of your people before yourself? The more good firefighters and fire leaders that leave the deeper the ground pounder's morale goes into the abyss of nothingness. Right along with my bank account.

See as I write this I realize that it is definitely and Oxymoron to watch upper management stand around a picnic table preaching to all my wildland brothers and sisters about interagency coop, money, and glad handing all the grunts. It reminds me of a small town mayoral race where they try to prove their the man of the people. When none of them really are. They don't speak our language anymore. 90% of their day is spent in their office or stroking each others egos at meetings. When they do get on the ground, they have trouble moving past the fact that they aren't the big dog anymore (fire is) attitude. They tend not to listen to their people when they have ideas. Instead they correct their grammar and dismiss them without a second thought. This is the thing I miss most about Spike. He at least listened to you. Can I really trust these white hatted politicians to keep my brothers and sisters safe? Or are they too mired in politics and witch hunts to keep anything safe, even the public? I'm sure I will suffer some sort of repercussions from this letter as I know at least one piece of our overhead reads this forum. I don't really care what they have to say. It's my personal opinion and I wouldn't be the first in history persecuted for expressing it. An old DFMO here used to love to say "If you don't like it, I can have a 52 for you to sign in 10 mins." Well that was till someone took up the offer and we lost a good firefighter. Gonna be alot of 52's of people leaving for bigger and better things/places soon.

Sorry for Attitude just trying to make things better some how for all of us,
NorthNight A.K.A Damned Apprentice
6/21 If anyone tries to compare normal the Forest Service contracting practices (apples) to
the way that A-76 Competitive Sourcing Contracting works (oranges), please let us
know the differences.

The normal contracts and the A-76 contracts are similar but not in any way closely
related in the way they are administered.

6/20 Matthew B.

I looked at your crew photos but you know Matt I did not see you anywhere.
What gives? Oh, I get it you are the one with the camera resting in the lawnchair
with the cool one in the other hand. Glad to see you are alive and well in CO.
You guys take care and maybe we will catch you on the big one!!!!


6/20 More ATs:

CDF T-95 from Mike Evans on AirTankers15 photo page.

On the AirTankers 16 photo page...

From MJ: "Ed Hollenshead's Team stopped this fire on my doorstep in 1990, the Bray Fire."
From John E, two nice photos of ATs and engines at Aero Union for the T-26 memorial.
From RA: "Photo of the new jet AT at Minden."

6/20 Some new logos up on the Logos 11 page: Yukon Wildland Fire Management, Wyoming IHC, Twin Valley Forest Fire Crew (PA). Ab.

Oh and here's a note and a photo that came in a while back...
While on a non-fire related business trip, I found Nirvana... FB

6/20 Hey there,
I would like to share our crew logo for the Slide Mountain Hand Crew, based in Incline Village, NV. We currently have 2, type 2 I.A. crews and fight alot of home front fires on the Sierra front as well as nationally. We are one of the few municipal hand crews in the nation and would like to get our name out there! Great website, keep up the good work!

Keegan Schafer
Crew Supt.
Slide Mountain Hand Crew

I put it on the Logos 11 page. Click on the thumbnail to see their larger logo. The thumbnail doesn't do it justice. Ab.


Ab, had you post this awhile back, could you post again as a reminder to
folks? Thanks

TC~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

10:00 a.m.

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

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

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

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

6/20 Here some cedar fire pics. I have tons more great pics.
I want to make sure you get these first before I send more.

Thanks Mario. Nice flames. I put them on the Cedar Fire photo page. Ab.

6/20 Ab,

Here are some pictures of the Interagency contract helicopter that ran for the Phantom Canyon Helitack out of Colorado last summer. I hooked up with them on the Fischer fire in Washington state last summer and we ended up making it all the way to Florida to help support the FEMA effort last September. What a great crew!!! The heli is out of MIDWEST Helicopters in Chicago. The pilot is Gus Ponder. Incredible effort on behalf of the USFS, NPS, Washington state DNR and Minnesota State DNR. Post a couple (or all) if you like.

Now if it would just stop raining, life would be dandy.
Be safe!!

Thanks, I put 'em on Helicopters 19. So many nice photos, it's great to see them posted. Ab.

6/20 There's a nice photo of S-61, a fire helicopter in its nice paint job. Oh look! It's Helicopter 527 from the Los Padres NF. Photo compliments of TP.

Thanks TP. I put it on Helicopters 18 photo page. Ab.

6/20 Hi Ab,

Here's a "Firehawk" during the "Andrew" fire south of Reno last year.


Thanks, I put it on Helicopters 18. Ab.

6/20 Could you please post this picture of the Mojave Fire Crew '03 on your website? If you could... thx JP

Thanks, I put it on Handcrews 17. Ab.
6/20 Ab, here are some fire photos from Alaska:

backburn in AK black spruce
Chena IHC
AT retardant drop
AT retardant drop2
Bucket drop
AK SJ rookies 1993


Nice ones. I put them on Handcrews 17, Airtankers 15, Helicopters 18 and SmokeJumpers2 photo pages. Ab.

6/20 The way contracts need to work is for the end users to input their needs
to a CO, who puts the legalize into the package , sends it out to
contractors for a RFQ, (request for quotes). Which may allow for several
qualified companies to compete for the contract. One must be very
specific when writing items in a contract. If you want it done a certain
way you must specify that.

The CO awards the contract. The COR represents the CO to the contractor.
In the absence of a COR, an Inspector is often designated.

Once awarded the contract can still be changed, it is a matter of
negotiation between the FS and the contractor. Change items also usually
add to costs.

The only place I remember seeing a COTR is with the Food Unit on a large

It can be fixed.
6/20 Fish asked "What's the correct torque for the lugnuts on a crew buggy? And
how do you know that you've put the lugnuts back on tight enough?"

Sedgehead responds from the south: "Iffin the wheels don't fall off within
the next 30 minutes, you probly havem on tightnuf." You want a serious
answer? Don't ask a botanist. What kind of tree grows lugnuts?

6/20 Here are some photos of the Wyoming Hotshots. I just wanted to ask if you could post these photos and our website on your site. The website address is www. wyominghotshots.com

Thanks for your time,

My pleasure. I put them on our Handcrews 17 photo page. That looks like a hot one. Ab.
6/20 Ab,

I have been meaning to send in a few pics for awhile now. Here are some various photos of the El Paso County Crew, we are located in Colorado Springs Colorado. Also, we have a website www.epsowildlandfire.com.

Matthew B

Thanks, I put them on our Handcrews 16 photo page. Ab.

6/20 Ab,

We've added a couple more documents to our Doctrine Review collection. The first is Ed Hollenshead's "The Review of Fire Suppression Doctrine for the USDA Forest Service" from March, 2005. www.coloradofirecamp.com/usfs_doctrine/doctrine_review.php

The second is the U.S. Marine Corps, Doctrinal Publication 1, "Warfighting." www.coloradofirecamp.com/usfs_doctrine/usmc_forward_preface.php

The USMC doctrine published in 1997 contains many of the buzzwords now being used in wildland fire.

vfd cap'n
6/20 Ab remind people not to forget the show tonight. Todd

We posted this earlier in the month, but I don't see it featured on the Weather Channel website. Ab.

Monday, June 20, 2005
7:00 pm. EDT


6/22 - 12 AM, 9 PM
6/23 - 12 PM
6/24 - 7 PM
6/25 - 1 PM
6/25 - 4 PM


  • Educating the public in the many aspects of managing wildland fire.
  • Introducing the role of fire use and other treatments in reducing the impacts of wildland fire.
  • Emphasis on the impact to human life and property.
  • Enlighten people on living with wildland fire in the wildland urban interface.
  • Programs done in partnership between the Forest Service and The Weather Channel.

If you find this on TV, there may be some photos/videos of the Bear and French fires (norcal last summer) from theysaid contributors. Keep your eyes open. Ab.

6/20 DZ,
No we don't wait for a R.O. for our local IAs. We are toned out for all fires on the forest. Structure and Vehicle fires no, but all veg. fires we are toned out in the initial dispatch. I couldn't imagine having to wait 10-15 mins for a R.O. to come in over the fax machine. We do SARs with the two local counties and dispatch just does flight requests. An half the time we don't even see those or at least I don't! ;) Could it possibly be that the Helicopter in your neck of the woods isn't officially/financially attached to the local area and they have to R.O. it everytime they want to use it? Like a NICC or Regional ship that is just sitting on a pad in a forest with no ship?

Regionals went well. We got dinged on the typical stuff. Base security and the condition of our broke down metal hut. Other than that we did well. York wasn't here, but Greg was and he seemed happy with the crew and our new pilot.

6/19 mtndv8

Thanks, so the way I understand it, the general structure and functions of the contracting process are likely to be as follows:

CO (Contracting Officer) writes the contract based on ALL users' needs;
may re-negotiate and, with the contractor, agree to amendments if needed.
Contract specifies:

  • What we need.
  • What we're paying for.
  • Specifics: Time of night/day, etc service is available; How far mechanic travels; What tasks/ repairs the mechanic does.
  • Provisions to withhold payment, backcharge for noncompliance; provision allowing the Gov't to cancel the contract at any time for just about any reason.

COR (Contracting Officer's Rep) awards the contract; possibly checks for adherence to provisions of the contract.

  • According to a former poster (6/17/05), this is based on BEST VALUE, not lowest cost and this favors contractors with a track record.
  • May maintain payment paperwork and daily contract diary type record keeping.
  • May be the point of contact person who contacts the CO and reports any problems the contractor is having meeting contract specs, or calls the CO to suggest contract amendments.

COTR (Contracting Officer's Technical Representative) inspects the contract; checks for adherence to the contract.

PI (Project Inspector) oversees the project; checks for adherence to provisions of the contract.

  • May maintain payment paperwork and daily contract diary type record keeping.
  • May be the point of contact person who contacts the CO and reports any problems the contractor is having meeting contract specs, or calls the CO to suggest contract amendments.

Specifically in the case of SERCO, the point of contact person appears to be the CO herself. Eric listed the contact info a few posts below. As Eric mentioned, the website for looking up that info is www.fbo.gov/ (although I didn't find the SERCO info myself...). I assume SERCO is a national contract. One size fits ALL FS functions??? Even EMERGENCY FIRE VEHICLE needs? Interesting if there are already 22 amendments to the SERCO contract. Perhaps there will be a number more before the process is streamlined for FIRE and we're really up and running for fire season. Hopefully SERCO's people everywhere will learn how to service all our engines, tenders, crew buggies, etc. so wildland firefighters can concentrate on their jobs as Rogue Rivers points out. If not, well maybe it will be easier for SERCO to fire its employees than it has been to fire some govt employees who demonstrate they aren't competent. (Did Mellie say that??? My baaaad???)

Thanks for the mini-education everyone.
If anyone has more detail to add to the contracting process info, let me know, please.

Oh, each region (I think) has a person in the RO whose specialty is contracting and hopefully each region is keeping track of mechanical problems and whether those problems are being solved, or solved over-and-over-and-over-again or remaining unsolved. As I understand it, R5 has such a person and some R5 engineers are keeping track of fire equipment out of service and for how long.

So SRJS, pass any problem information along; get your FMO to pass it along (or maybe the regional contracting contact person is collecting that, hmmmm). I'll try to remember to ask someone how to make such info part of the record. Ultimately this data would allow the FS to see if the new process is working. As you report your problems up the chain of command, it would also help if you make a note of where hidden problems arise in your process, including your people having to assume new mechanic duties (ie, becoming the pre-mechanic mechanic), the cost to your crew in time, time away from job for how many people, mileage on a vehicle, time out of operation for broken-down equipment, time crew is unavailable while equipment is broken down, forest and homes that burn, etc. Nothing like a database to help make hidden costs clear. It's about Wildland Firefighter Production Rates (WFPR) and not having engines and crew buggies available affects that critical budget item! This is only business, after all and we need to see where business practices work or don't.

long those same lines, it's not fair to "save money" by loading the "saved" work on the backs of firefighters with an already full schedule and then having the chief telling Congress we're fine with the budget cuts.

Happy Father's Day to you dads out there. We all appreciate the job you do!

Lobotomy, are you OK?

jimhart, welcome to the 180 Club. Training is GOOOOOOD.


6/19 jimhart,

Glad to here you a gonna be a dirt digger! My only regret is that you will have less time to get up here to talk. Maybe we will meet on a fire, and talk during the inevitable 'hurry up and wait' time.

Your points about public perception are spot on and it is partly our fault, we have not done near as good a job as 'the red trucks' getting out our message. But then we are up the hill at the head of the fire leaving them on the road near the media. (Before folks get bent out of shape over that comment, I don't lump everyone into that statement, but in general it is true.)

6/19 Ab,

Two recent events convinced me I needed to actually “do” what I was talking so much about…become a firefighter.

Some time ago, I was in a room with a number of colleagues discussing fire management issues and asked, “Has anyone run these things by someone who has actually fought a wildfire?” The room got pretty quiet.

Later, I was discussing issues relating to fire ecology in a recent workshop and a well respected USFS Battalion Chief said, “You know, I find it odd that as fire ecologist, you’ve never been in a fire.”

Enough of that.

You’ll be glad to know that as of Father’s Day today, I have survived my first week of wildland firefighter training with Crew 5 out of the USFS Descanso Fire Station. I will admit that it was a bit intimidating to appear on the first day, surrounded by a bunch of 20-year-olds ready to challenge every puff of smoke, but I’ve gotten over that. Training (and keeping up) with these guys (and a remarkable young woman) has allowed me to stand just a little taller with the knowledge that I will soon be able to be part of a very proud tradition.

There’s a very good story here that I will no doubt put together some day, but what I want to communicate in this Fire Bulletin are a few of the first insights I have learned from the folks at the US Forest Service who do fire for a living.

It has become very clear to me over the past week that the public (and many of those who are in, and close to, the fire management world) know very little about what the Forest Service actually does and what role USFS wildland firefighters play in fire suppression. First of all is the public’s (and some professional’s) misperception of fire suppression. One would think, from listening to the debate over the last 10 years, that fire suppression is an evil thing, a misguided policy, having been responsible for creating clogged forests and the conditions that led to recent catastrophic fires.

Here’s the real story. Fires destroy property and kill people. The only logical course of action for the government to take after the 1910 fires that burned millions of acres and took so many lives was to create a force that could help prevent that kind of thing from happening again…and the USFS has done a remarkable job of doing so. Yeah, some forests have become “over-grown” and that has led to some fires becoming more destructive than they normally would have been (becoming crown fires and taking out the entire forest). But to imply that the USFS (or other entities) is to blame for recent catastrophic wildfires is ridiculous. Forests blow up because fuels are made ready to burn by extreme weather conditions, low humidity and erratic winds. The number one variable during periods of increased frequency and size of wildfires has been extended periods of drought and extreme fire weather conditions. Fuel is definitely required for a fire, but it is only one of many variables in the fire equation; a simple concept, but one that is forgotten in political rhetoric.

Interestingly, despite all the bad press, the lack of recognition of what USFS firefighters do is equivalent to the public’s misunderstanding of chaparral and watersheds. When stopping into a 7-11 corner market for some coffee on the way to work, it isn’t unusual for a USFS firefighter to be mistaken for…

“It must be wonderful to be a park ranger in the mountains.”
“Do you do campfire programs?”
“Can I buy an Adventure Pass from you?”

This lack of awareness of what the USFS is all about was clearly reflected in the media coverage during the Cedar fire. It seemed as if unless one drove a red truck, you couldn’t have been a real firefighter. For whatever reason, those green USFS engines are not recognized for what they are. With a little first hand knowledge (and perhaps a small degree of bias), it’s my opinion that the folks who pile out of those USFS brush rigs and cut miles of fire line through dense vegetation set remarkable standards for national wildland fire fighting. Unfortunately, the US government doesn’t seem to appreciate that fact. Consider this. When on a fire, USFS firefighters only get paid for the shift they work, not the time on the scene. So if Crew 5 is sent to Montana, they only get paid for their actual time on their shift. In contrast, outside agency firefighters requested to assist (from San Diego city for example) get paid from the moment they leave their station until they return (which can be weeks)…plus the USFS pays for the salaries of the staff filling in at the home station for those who left to fight the fire.

How much might an experienced USFS firefighter expect to get paid to fight a Cedar fire for 2 weeks? About $3500. A fireman from another agency asked to assist for the same period of time? Often north of $7500.

And boots? Unlike most other firefighters, USFS employees have to buy their own. A good pair of Nick’s cost about $400.

Now when I hear that the budget for the USFS is being cut, I will no longer think it’s about reducing the number of campfire programs.


Welcome to another new member of the 180 Club. Ab.

6/19 To helitack types:

I was wondering how many exclusive use bases out there
have to wait for a resource order to be faxed to their
base for initial attack on their own unit? It seems
to be a waste of time and energy since most of the
info is not useful for IA. Just checking.

6/19 mtndv8,

Great post... it explains the normal world of terminology in the wildland fire community... The A-76 (outsourcing) contracting has a whole new terminology structure and procedures. Are you multi-lingual? If so, please explain it to us in common language.

6/19 I was inspecting my equipment and noticed a pressure gauge stuck. I followed the rules and called to see how to get it fixed. I asked if I could just order a new one from pierce, they said no. Well as I see it the equipment will go into the shop and wait for the part to come from back east, not to mention its over an hour away to get there. Now lets do some math at 2.49 a gallon and get about 9 miles to the gallon and its 60 some odd miles away and the man hours times two so someone can bring me back, we would save so much more money if it were shipped directly to the station and I spent about 5 min putting in the new one. My pd says small repairs. So my final answer was to them when they bring it down was I guess it will be broke all season.


6/19 Fish, I disagree!!

I have never seen even a ASE mechanic use a torque wrench to check the tightness of vehicles lugs.

If you want to use a torque wrench, the specifications are usually in the operators manual found in the vehicle.

I have seen both ASE mechanics and the fully trained operators of equipment use handheld and air driven tools to put the lug nuts back on..... and never check it with a torque wrench. Maybe each crew buggie should carry a torque wrench, but an operator should be able to change a flat tire.... give me a break.

There is obviously a need for doctrinal change and review.... we need to get back to doing our damn jobs!!

Rogue Rivers
6/19 Dispatchers and firefighters, thanks for posting info on the Pioneer Fire on the Hot List Forum.


6/19 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.


The Abs

6/18 Mellie,

I'd like to reply to your SERCO comments to Dave. First, I agree that it's lucky you're experiencing the weather you are, considering the difficulties SRJS describes. However, I would tend to disagree that the wording of the contract may be at fault. I would, ideally, like to read the contract before commenting, but there are a few general things I can point out to help with understanding contract administration. All federal contracts (...enter Agency/flavor of the Day here...) have identified/designated Gov't personnel who administer them. If listed from the top down, they are; Contracting Officer (CO), Contracting Officer(s) Representative (COR), Contracting Officer(s) Technical Representative (COTR), and sometimes a designated Project Inspector (PI). These individuals write, award, inspect and oversee the contracting process (usually in that order).

Start with an individual or group who've decided, for whatever reason, they need to contract out, say, maintenance on crew buggies. We'll call this group the users. The users then contact the individual within their organization who is the contracting official (CO) and explains their needs. This is where the verbiage of the contract is discussed and specifications are decided upon. This part of the process can be time consuming if it involves developing a unique or new contract, as there is much back and forth between the users and the CO. The CO, in effect, writes the contract. (based in most part, on the users needs) All gov't contracts contain a certain amount of "boilerplate", or, verbiage that is common, (the "legaleeze") but the specifications are the true nuts and bolts. As in; what are we paying for? The spec's are where the rubber meets the road. (BTW; all pun's are intended...) Again, I'd like to read the contract but I'd wager my pink slip that within the contract, items such as what time of day and/or night, how far a mechanic is expected to travel and what tasks/repairs they're expected to make are covered. If not, than ONLY the CO can change the contract, and then ONLY if the contractor agrees to it. What usually occurs is a re-negotiation of sorts and probably will result in an amendment or modification identifying, again, what we're paying (extra) for. Conversely; (almost) always there is written into the contract a clause or provision to withhold payment, or even backcharge for noncompliance as well as a provision allowing the Gov't to cancel the contract at any time for just about any reason. (... as in, ... anyone, anyone... ...LAT's!!)

The question I would pose (to SRJS?) is: Who is designated by the Agency/Region/Forest/District (or Crew) as the representative to ensure all the provisions of THAT contract are adhered to? (COR or PI) That's the person responsible for the day to day and/or periodic payment paperwork and daily contract diary type record keeping. More than likely, this is also the person who needs to contact the Contracting Officer and report the problem the contractor is having meeting contract spec's, if in fact that is covered by the contract. If it isn't covered by the contract, then that's the person who needs to document it and call the CO to suggest contract changes. Just like with our Risk Assessment/Management. We do our best to anticipate and prepare for the next bump in the road, but it is impossible foresee ALL the potholes coming. So to, is it impossible to foresee all the ways contract language will be challenged by circumstance.

Hopefully, I cleaned the windshields a little bit, as far as contracting is concerned. There is in fact, much more to it, but I could hear a few yawns starting and I've already spent more time than I intended on this.

One final thought... ...spare tire and a jack???


6/18 Quick! All you hotshot types. What's the correct
torque for the lugnuts on a crew buggy? And how do
you know that you've put the lugnuts back on tight

In a past life, I was a ASE certified mechanic. Big
trucks take a lot of torque to keep those wheels on.
Probably more than can be done by hand. Asking a
non-mechanic to estimate that figure on a vehicle
designed to carry people is just a crock. Maybe the
morning lineup should read "(your name here) plus 18
souls on board"!

6/18 AB.

I have been reading the posts concerning Serco's service and hope that
someone might drop them a note to voice their frustrations? contract #
53-9SCP-04-1F-17 was awarded for an estimated 27+ million dollars in
2004. and had 22 amendments. (www.fbo.gov)

listed POC for this contract is
Point of Contact
Robin Fowler, Contracting Officer, Phone 530 252-6657, Fax 530
252-6408, Email rfowler@fs.fed.us -
Dodi Wilson, Procurement Assistant, Phone (530) 252-6462, Fax (530)
252-6408, Email dwilson@fs.fed.us

Nothing gets us to move quicker than a call from our CO if there is an
issue. So I suggest you go there or get Serco's input directly.
later and be safe

6/18 SRJS,

Do your buggies not have any spare tires? I spent alot of time on crews and engines, and changing a tire was in my P.D. (Makes minor repairs, adjustments, etc.). I think changing a tire is a pretty minor repair. All of the buggies should have come with a lug wrench.

If you had a spare tire, would it be so critical to send one person in a pickup to get the tire repaired?
Also, did you tell your government rep. of your desire for a SERCO mechanic to come out? If the government rep. wants the mechanic to come out, they will. Maybe your problem was with the government rep. and not the contractor?

6/18 Hi Ab and All

A word on dispatchers....This concludes my 30th year in fire and I have been every where and done just about everything..
from a grunt on end of a shovel with a hotshot crew to an IC on major fires.. and after blowing out knees for 3rd time.. I have been in dispatch for 5 years.

I offer up some advice...talk to your center managers.. get to know those dispatchers and make them more than a voice on other end. There is a requirement with most agencies that dispatchers have a MINIMUM of 1 years experience in the field on fires. I feel this is important and FMO, Center Managers and hiring officials SHOULD stick to that requirement.

But that is not always the fact. So I would suggest to all ...lets educate each other on our jobs.. talk and teach.. show and learn...know each other as more than a voice...We are always talking about how the fire community is a family.. well, if you talk the talk, you had better walk the walk. Lets remember we are a team and there is no "I" in team.

I would suggest that perhaps with the dispatcher and the wrong repeater, the dispatcher might not have been trained properly.. not their fault, perhaps their supervisors fault.. but lets move on, educate the dispatcher about repeaters. (Are you listening supervisors?)

The season is slow and at times like this we are all on edge. Lets have a safe season and when it is over be able to say..we made it thru safely and I found a new set of family members.

stay safe
Well worn one ( and still kicking)
6/18 Dave

I could not have said it better than Mellie, but to tag on to her post:

Yesterday was just a frustration, but what if? I am a big "worst case scenario" guy, and the way I do my job is it to prepare for the worst case scenario every day no matter if it is raining, a mop up shift or down in So Cal in fall of 2003. We need to operate that way to make sure all of our bases are covered, and we do not get complacent.

In all reality yesterday was not a big deal, but it could have been. What would have happened if we were in the heart of the fire season and one of our buggies were down and someone had to take the wheel and a chase rig 2 hours away to get fixed with a 5 to 6 hour round trip if they can fix it in a timely manner once they receive the tire. Now we are down one Buggie, one chase rig, and possibly one Senior Crewmember. Next we get an IA, and not enough vehicles to get the entire crew to the fire, and we lost a home or civilian life because of it. I won't go and say we could have lost firefighters lives, because it is all of our jobs to mitigate that, and make sure we do not get into a situation that could jeopardize my life or the lives of my crew. But if we don't show up on a fire with all of our tools in our tool box, we may not be able to engage the fire like we would want to, if at all.

Here is the one question I have heard many many times since Serco received the contract: What happens when we are out of region? No one has been able to answer that one, but it could be interesting.

Still Raining here in Northern California today!

6/18 Reply to NVJims letter about dispatchers.

Dispatchers work very long hours during fireseason and off, they have to know many different kinds of programs and take care of the customers. Which by the way is not only fire fighters, they deal with Law Enforcement, Recreation, Timber, Public, Medicals etc....... They are the center of information and are expected to know it all, well they don't but they can find the information you need if asked. If they can't then they will point you in the right direction. For NVJim you have a situation and need to deal with it in a professional manner.

I think the first thing I would do is have a talk with this dispatcher and try to work things out, if that doesn't work then take the next step. As for experience in the field, it is a good idea if someone in dispatch has that type of experience. But I have witnessed where it is not a good idea also, someone with experience in the field (fire) sometimes second guesses, which can be very confusing and dangerous for the people in the field. This can be due to the experience that they have had and feel that they can run the fire from the dispatch office. Where someone without the experience will just get them what they ask for. Of course this can go both ways so I don't think this is a issue of experience in the field or not for being in dispatch.

Dispatch is becoming more computerized, all of the resource ordering, CAD, IQCS (redcard) , Weather (WIMS) , Law Enforcement (Leaweb) systems are computer programs and these are just a few to give you a idea what dispatchers need to know. Dispatch is a very technical, stressful, and a demanding position. It is one of the most thankless jobs I have ever witnessed in my career. If anything, we need to be helping each other as much as possible so things can run in a safe and efficient manner on all incidents.

The fire organization works very hard to accomplish what is expected. We all have a very interesting career, let's try and make it as one unit instead of divided. I believe that safecoms are great but not to point fingers. I think it is too bad that we can't work things out with out bashing one another on the internet.


6/18 Dave,

I'd like to reply to your SERCO comments. The issue isn't rain per se, however, as you imply, we're lucky it's not burning now. We're in pre-suppression mode. I agree that the wording of the contract may be at fault. Who's accountable for contract wording if that's the problem??? How easy is it to change that? Since the function was outsourced, I am not sure the contract can be changed even if the current process is messed up? Anyone know? From what I've heard from a number of people across CA, SERCO mechanics in some areas don't know our equipment and it's a very large problem. Do we need a charge back number to hold SERCO accountable when they don't fix it right the first time? (In fairness, it sounds like the LPF and the BDF firefighters feel SERCO mechanics are performing well on their fire equipment, they have personal relationships and they want to please.)

I did some follow-up research on this norcal complaint. SERCO had the crew remove the wheel from the buggy (finally) and bring it into town to them - a more than 2 hours trip - which means a 5 hr roundtrip on the crew's tab. The crew did not have have the correct kind of large lug-nut wrench to remove the wheel from the buggy. An impact wrench would have helped too. So now do forests buy that stuff? Do crew buggies store and carry it around with them? SERCO should have sent someone out to do the job 1) to expedite it because they're supposed to provide timely mechanical support and 2) so as not to bugger up the threads or bend the lug stems on the wheel hub.

Bottom line is that it's is not in firefighters' job descriptions to supply tools, heavy equipment and expertise to service their transports, engines, etc, even if they are can-do people. If this is a contract issue, how does it save money to centralize mechanics away from the equipment to be serviced but then make the firefighters take on local responsibilities the mechanics used to do? Oh, I get it, the customer is now the pre-mechanic mechanic so we can save money??? ... And the process becomes ever more cumbersome ... Now, some socal people who are located closer to their SERCO mechanics may not be having problems with timely delivery of service, but the situation on remote norcal forests shouts watchout to me.

Dave, let's say it's August. We're now in suppression mode. We have a late fire year like 1999 with short resources on the early days of a Kirk and a Big Bar Complex, do you really think the process will go faster? What makes you think there will be better or more timely service? Resources being out of service will have critical impact then. We need to get the problems resolved before we get sun, hot weather and a couple of days of North winds.

On a slightly different note... anybody know what happens in fire camp with vehicle inspections?

6/18 R2FALC

I'm sorry, but that dispatcher is totally unacceptable. It sounds like it's
a power thing. Have you ever heard that joke about God and a dispatcher?
Well a Dispatcher thinks that they are God, but God doesn't think he's a

A dispatch center is there to provide services and support to the folks in
the field, and other duties as assigned. You know how that goes.
Anyway, I have been a firefighter for 10 years and on and off as a
dispatcher for 5 years. It would be a good idea to confront the dispatcher
to see what their problem is and get it out in the air.
Good luck!

northern cali

6/18 Hello,

I don't believe contractors are the reason the crew from Northern Cal
was put on unavailable. A contract may have been. A contract is only as
good as well as it is written and as well as it is administered. The 3
most important things in contracting are specify, specify and specify.
When something is evidently wrong with the way a contract is working,
consider revising it or even changing it if the costs make it effective
to do that. It seems to raining all over norcal, where is it this crew
needed to be available for? Maybe in August they could get faster

For the most part contractors provide valuable and needed help to our
wildland resources, but we need to make the contracts themselves and the
administration of those contracts, better.

6/18 Northnight,

How did the base inspection go? Did you pass with flying colors? After looking at the spread that Terry was fixing I would be shocked if you didn't! ;-) We've had nothing but rain and snow here on the western slopes. Looks like a late fire season over here. I'm hoping to get back over there in August in between all our trips. Until I see you all, stay safe!

6/18 Ab & All,

Two stumps up for the Fire Suppression: Foundational Doctrine paper (thanks, JG). Overall, I really like what the Pulaski Conference has produced. It is a nice beginning, but it will be interesting to see if this new/old ethics-based culture can be developed under the present conditions and political climate. How we are going to get from HERE to THERE still seems to be the $64 question, especially with the FS being diced up and outsourced these days. More than anything, I think the fed land management agencies need a lengthy period of organizational stability and relatively uniform budgets if they are going to make this vision real.

I agree with Mark Smith's quote on page 8; 95% of the doctrine probably already exists. And some of our more enlightened recent institutional additions like the Fireline Leadership program and the Lessons Learned Center are already changing and reshaping the culture of wildland firefighting. But my guess is that finding and fixing the remaining 5% is going to be problematic.

Included in that 5% is how future FS burnovers are going to be dealt with. The Cramer Problem is still with us, and as long as PL 103-207 is still in effect, in addition to our internal investigations, we are still going to have the Office of Inspector General (and OSHA) conducting independent investigations of FS burnovers.

These are strange times. There are so many possibilities floating around right now that it is difficult to know what to expect next. I am really curious to see what steps will be needed to change a rule-bound bureaucratic organization into an ethics-and-culture-based organization.

Misery Whip
6/18 Lori,
You are welcome to visit us any time. I hope we can fly with pride out of Bald Mtn. sometime this season. The ribbon magnets ended up on all our POVs. Booker probably doesn't need any more sweets. After our regional we had so much cake left over from Supt. 525 (ret.) That we are still trying consume it. :) We are doing the Bishop fly-in Tommorrow well by the time this hits the site today. I think it will be a great experince. We will see. :)

Thanks, If this is who I think it is. I think your T-Bone's personal hero. Talks about you all the time. Nice heli-base to house commute. The shady side was nice except I kept getting slapped in the helmet during 10 points. Sometimes it's a curse being taller. The B-man put together a nice rock memorial with a 525 buckle and a brass plaque. They planted a blue spruce earlier and it is growing like a weed next to the Mechanics 5th wheel. I to think it is great idea and a beautiful tribute to someone that meant so much to so many.
P.S. That's Booker's M.O.

I have a good idea what Old school F.F. words are gonna come out of your mouth when you read this. I just hope it doesn't affect your fishing for the day.

I wish I would have had more time to get to know you and learn from you. You were a huge loss to the Fire Organization not just here. I just hope that one day I can be 1/4 of the firefighter/leader you were. It just isn't the same here. The BC is in full force, but in the end he is doing what he can to take care of us. See him almost daily and I am beginning to think it is a PD for BC's to take verbal bird walks for a good hour or two. You have a good one T and when you get bored of hunting and fishing. There's always beer and Jack Daniels.


P.S. I'm glad Servco doesn't do helicopters. Got the Supe truck back last week and it shifts gears for now, but the e-brake still hasn't been fixed and I don't think it does over 60 mph empty, downhill with a tail wind.

"We may both fly, but in the end I look better in a flight helmet!"
6/18 SRJS,

Had to chuckle at your comment that the FS does not have any firefighters.
We have a new Forest Supt., and when they were talking about the "firefighter,"
force, I piped up and remarked" We are forestry techs, there are no firefighters."
The irony continues.


6/18 Excellent results from the Pulaski Conference. Kudos to all.
Mr Hollenshead thank you for your insight and persistence in
carrying the word up from the ground level. Thanks to Tom
Harbour for seeing the need.

What's the next step, What can we groundpounders do to help?
Send out some marching orders...

And a very nice rainy Sunday morning to everyone.
(Ab, thanks for the html version.)

NorCal Tom

6/17 The Pulaski Conference…

Important work…interestingly attendees. Interesting folks who weren’t invited. Interesting video.


6/17 Regarding the Pulaski Conference,

I hope the final version has been spell checked. I don't want the NLT ologists to think we are just a bunch of knuckle draggers!!! All tongue in cheek my friends..... The document is only 23 pages long and is a must read for all within the wildland fire community.

I watched the video about the conference today. It is at www.fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills/news/vnr/. It says coming soon, but the link IS active for viewing or listening. If you have broadband, you can click on the link even if you are not a Forest Service employee (video). The MP3 file is audio only for folks with only dial-up connections.

Great work by the Pulaski Conference attendees and everyone in the wildland fire community!!!

Sign Me,

Fingers Crossed

6/17 NVJims re dispatchers

It is time. It is time that those of us that see the train coming do something about it.
Go as high up the chain of command as you need to get a training session where
you can give an orientation of the area and any other information you think they

6/17 Say there NMJims, before you go getting all SAFENET on someone's ass,
consider taking a team approach. First, think about dropping the
complaining angle and work up some constructive ideas - maybe in conjunction
with other crews on your unit so that there's some group thoughts on what
specifically would help.

Some things that might help could include show-me tours or ride-alongs out
in the field for the dispatcher(s) to show them the lay of the land. You
could volunteer yourself to sit in dispatch for a few busy shifts to help
out and share your experience and knowledge. Or ask them what would help -
maybe they just need a few features and info on their maps or something
simple like that. With luck, you could even learn something that will help
you in your job, and/or make it easier for dispatchers to do theirs.

Then see if you can get together with the dispatcher(s) in question (and
maybe the dispatch supervisor) during a slow, distraction free time to
discuss it. Maybe even over beers after work. That would be a chance to
learn some things about why they're doing things the way they are. If that
doesn't work out, maybe you (and your group) could approach your boss with
the ideas. If your boss isn't the boss of the dispatch office, there's
probably a nexus somewhere up the chain that could help you get a hearing
with your dispatch office for your (constructive & respectful) ideas.

My point being, there's a good chance that the dispatchers are trying their
best, and you could work with them at some level to help them improve their
game. And maybe you'd learn some things to help you improve yours. You're
all on the same team, and we don't want R4 Helitack to get puppy-ass on
you. ;^)

By the way, if you get a chance, pick up the book "Leading Up" by Michael
Useem - it has good ideas on how to get people that don't work for you to do
the right thing.

6/17 NVjims:

<snip>, and use the chain of command!!

6/17 re: Serco

I started the "fire season" this year with no engine. It had a major leak in the #8 piping. About a week later we went to pick up our "fixed" engine. However we made the mistake and didn't fill it until we arrived at the station (our BIG mistake regardless of fire weather or potential). When we did fill it they had done nothing to fix the problem, so we had to return it to the shop once again. We got it back in a relatively short amount of time, but the damn thing started leaking again last Thursday (we took it on some washboards for the first time, POP). Serco's fix, according to the mechanic who came out to try it again, was to tighten the clamp a few turns. It didn't work the second time either. So we have been without a Fire Engine most of this drizzly season so far. Had it been hot and dry, we could be in a real situation here. We are one of three, soon to be two, 7-day effective engines on district. I wonder how long the "fix" will last this time? When it breaks for a forth time, I hope the region will look at our module as a wasted resource due to bad contracting decisions, and hire a competent company to perform repairs.


6/17 Just got word that long time smokejumper Mitch Decoteau sustained an injury
while jumping a fire in Alaska. Good news is that he'll be OK. For those of
you who know Mitch, he's a hell of a guy. Here's the story....

Yesterday afternoon at approximately 17:00, Mitch Decoteau was injured on a
fire jump out of McGrath. It was not life threatening injury and he was in
Fairbanks at 20:35 last night. He was taken to Fairbanks Memorial
Hospital's emergency room and was in surgery by 01:00. He broke both bones
in his lower right leg and during surgery, a rod was put in his tibia. The
surgery lasted 2 hours and went well. The doctor commented on the great
job done by the EMT on scene. (Justin McGregor-Boise was the EMT and he
just finished Paramedic training.) Mitch will be spending another night
at the hospital and is threatening to be at the shack as soon as he is

The jump and the jump conditions were not unusual. It was a surprise to
all when Mitch said he was injured. He landed with a some forward speed
and said he hit a hard object under the tundra surface. Everything bad
came together to cause a break in an otherwise routine jump. The remaining
jumpers on the aircraft were dropped to help prep Mitch for transport and
to cut the helispot. The original plan was to drop four to cut a helispot
for helitack coming out of McGrath.



Best wishes for a speedy recovery. If not flowers, do you have an addy for cards? Ab.

6/17 Hey, can anybody tell me (or point me to a link) anything about EMS
icensure in British Columbia? Scope of Practice, affiliation technicalities,
things like that? And does anybody know anything about fire around the
town of Likely, BC? Do they have a VFD? I’m not having much luck
online…might be user error.

Nerd on the Fireline
6/17 NorCalTom,

Ben Franklin said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Have we been in this situation before? I know this quote applies to the apprenticeship program, but does it apply to all of the outsourcing and centralizing?

It has been said before that the USFS is the largest fire Department in the World. Is this True? How many firefighters does the USFS have? Kind of hard to figure out when we are all classified as Forestry Aids, Technicians, or Oligists. Does anyone have the stats or know where to find them?

6/17 Draft from the Pulaski Conference for your readers. (large pdf file)


Thanks very much JG.
Readers, it's a very large (6,476 K) pdf file even if only 23 pages with photos.
If you don't have broadband consider downloading this weekend during off hours.

Here is an easy-access html version (fast) without photos. Please note that the original pdf draft is very professional looking. If you need a nice copy, download and print the pdf file above. It is really nice with photos and great layout. Ab.

6/17 R3 had a major and dangerous problem with radios.
The problem was bumped up the chain-of-command.
It's good we're having a light season.

R3 F/F

6/17 Yactac,
Congrats on your upcoming retirement! I hope you'll still be spouting
off and keeping us company on chat. Thanks for all the good
suggestions for reading, and the good dialog and comments here and
on chat.

NorCal Tom,
Good comments. I heard the record # of vehicles "down" on one CA forest
this spring was over 40. Good it's not the Fall 2003 fire season -- yet!

FirenWater - tsunami warning and emergency evac
There are some new evacuation procedures being evaluated and explored
in Humboldt Co. Some low lying areas had no procedures- King Salmon
and other areas around Humboldt Bay, Big Lagoon, etc.

Crescent City (Del Norte Co) didn't do as badly as I had heard. They evacuated
4000 people in 20 minutes. In low-lying areas sirens sounded. There were street
signs that told people where to go and directions from emergency units on the roads.

The perceived notification and evacuation failure - across Humboldt Co -
was the failure in emergency information sharing.

It's interesting that Public perceptions in an emergency are related to how
much info they can get asap that lets them feel they can take control of their own
safety and survival. This is over and above the safety they actually have.
Being able to get information lets them make good choices and reduces stress.
It also gives them positive feelings afterwards.

This is another argument for having information procedures set up so the Public
can "pull" info via computer or a personal information device like text messages
on a blackberry, cell phone, etc; or turn on a radio/tv (In this potential emergency,
local programming fell down.). It's time for systems to be established that provide
people with accurate, timely info in an emergency. We live in a new info-sharing
age. We should be using those systems.

I am also seeing people make plans with family for what to do next time. The
followup quake after 11PM last night is keeping this high on the Public's list
of priorities...


6/17 Ab,

I get the feeling that the FS at the highest levels would like to roll back time as though we could go back to being only the nation's "wood products" firefighting force. It isn't going to happen. We're already the nation's All Risk firefighting force, and the protectors of the interface. Of course it's really about the cash cow and who controls it. At the moment that's the FS non-fire managers. The FS in Washington is busy using congressionally allocated fire money to centralize everything but fire (computer support, radios, vehicle maintenance, finance including cooperative agreements with local cooperator fire depts) and thereby making our firefighting jobs on the ground harder and more dangerous. We can't get our computers fixed. Lord knows how we'll manage on fires. We can't get our cooperators paid. Dispatch doesn't have time to do the job finance used to do with cooperators. The record I heard of broken down vehicles on a forest awaiting maintenance by Serco was 30-some.

In my mind all this "centralizing" borders on insanity unless fire is centralized as well and we're allowed to streamline all functioning in a business-like way.


Please add:

PS We need to meet emergency needs. Fires that are caught on IA save money, resources, homes and lives. Systems must be in place to make this so.

PSS Has anyone heard the results of the Pulaski Conference?

6/17 Something has to change and soon. Today a type 1 crew in Northern California has been put unavailable due to contracting. Yes that's right contracting. One of the crew buggies has a flat tire and has to be removed by the crew and sent 2 hours away to the shop instead of someone coming out and fixing it or using an outside vendor.

Serco has the R5 contract for vehicle maintenance and repair. This contract has just been put into effect recently, I'll say in the last 3 or 4 months. The contract I do believe says that a USFS inspector has to come out and verify that the repair is indeed needed and then Serco will do the repair or sub-contract them out to an outside vendor at Serco's cost. Also minor repairs may be made at local vendors, IE oil changes and such that are no more than a couple hundred bucks.

In the past if any emergency repairs had to be made, all it took was a call to dispatch and a mechanic was on their way in no time, day or night. Now we have to bring most repairs in to the shop. If repairs that are made to the vehicle are made by another vendor instead of Serco, the repair cost will come out of the project budget as well as Serco being paid the same amount out of project too.

This theoretically may be the most cost effective way to do business, but in our remote location fire world, this is not the most effective way to do business. Is this the way to keep type 1 resources available? Or to save a buck? I'm just curious what would of happened today if there was an initial attack or a resource order for our crew, and we replied back and said "we'll be there, but have to wait on Serco first."

Sorry for the ranting, but no one at the SO gets it, so maybe you folks here can help get the message out if you are having similar problems.


I agree that this is no way to run a wildland fire department. We can't do the job if we don't have operating vehicles to get there. Note that I am not against using contractors in general but the question here is about using contractors appropriately and on the correct scale for FAST and TIMELY emergency response.

Anyone else have "watchout" stories regarding wildland fire vehicle maintenance? I wonder what the record is for emergency vehicles "down" and awaiting maintenance by Serco. How many hours/miles away is maintenance? What forest holds the record on that? Ab.

6/17 NVJims,

Well, the question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you think that the current dispatchers are enhancing your safety, or not.

I can give you an example which has been going on in R2 since the Hayman. We have dispatchers who have never been in the field, much less worked in it. They have never fought fire, much less coordinated it. One of the I.A. dispatchers is very difficult to understand when comms are working as good as possible, and when you ask for a repeat, you get verbally slapped! And they have no real supervision, meaning complaints (numerous) go undealt with, and because we ground grunts were told by a higher up in the SO that we were advised to not file a safenet, people are rather scared to do so. So, the consequences for not filing one is that we are left with a very unsafe, unsettling, and dangerous setup.

So, my advice... do your documentation and realize that the Safenet program is not a punitive deal (unless there is legitimate reason), it is specifically designed to support you, help you, and make the job safe for all involved. If you were a dispatcher wouldn't you want someone with more experience to tell you where you might be able to improve?

And yes, I know about the "qualified" statement. PULEEEEEEESE! Don't get me started. Qualified on paper, in classes, and in other different ecosystems and terrains is in no way the same as being competent in your specific neck of the woods, is it?

6/17 Does anyone know if any group has followed up on concerns
on wildfire terrorism? It would be reassuring to know that there's
consideration and planning if we have conditions again like socali
in fall of 2003 or elsewhere on the wui.

Tahoe Terrie

6/17 Add to one more time if you please....

An Old Wild land Fire Fighters Prayer

Let me lace up my boots one more time
and join my brothers and sisters on the line.
Another opportunity to work with the best
too young to stop… not old enough to rest.

Restore my eyesight and fix my knees
give me the energy to do as I please.
A fire assignment somewhere out west,
One more fire… one last quest.

Place me with friends from the past
Sign me up ...I promise I’ll last.
Grinning and grunting bent to the task
one last challenge is all that I ask.

Alongside of Mac, Ranger and young Blue
Flinging dirt and laughing… My lord what a crew!
C’mon just bend the rules for a shift or two
put me in the line-up… let me go against the flame.
One last inning … one last game.

Let me lace my boots up one more time
and join my brothers and sisters on the line.
give me another opportunity to work with the best
my last wish … my last request

Oliver …Counting the days

I added it to Just One More Time. Ab.

6/17 Hickman passing this along:

A new EMR-ISAC CIP INFOGRAM, Issue 221 - June 16, 2005, has been posted
to DisasterHelp at https://disasterhelp.gov/portal/jhtml/dc/sfi.jhtml?doid=24883.

6/17 Ab,

Here's a link to a story about former USFS Chief Mike Dombeck being a bone marrow donor.



Good story. Ab.

6/17 Check out the latest issue of "Bend Living" magazine. A great article with
photos on the Prineville Hotshots and the Redmond Smoke Jumpers. You
guys are famous!! And you look pretty good too!!

Sarah Larson (Matt Taylor's mom)

Lookee what I found. Bend Living on line. And they're on the cover. Ab.

6/17 Ab,

I am having a problem with my dispatch center. I am getting "dispatchers" who have 0 (zero) knowledge of the local area, but when I complain, all I hear is that they are "Qualified Dispatchers"... Today I had one recommend a repeater that was at the opposite end of the district from the person who was having trouble hitting a repeater.... Do I need to start a SafeNet, or is there any other way to improve the system......


6/17 Just an "interesting comment" replying to Retired L.A.V.E.

It USED to be that everything the government had was built by the lowest bidder.

Now it is best value. And as good as it sounds, it can really burn private sector.

Just an example. Try getting a new air tanker contract. You won't. It won't matter if you have the newest/greatest/bestest (I know that is poor english, Im trying to be funny) plane at the lowest cost. You most likely won't get it awarded because you havn't been in business as long as the other aviation contractors.

How do I know? We checked into a CL-415 (yes, 415 not 215) waterscooper to add to our lineup (not that we really can afford it, but we checked anyway). Basically, we would have to be significantly (approximately 30% of the total cost) lower than the lowest bidder, with dramatically better equipment to have a shot; and then it would still be a stretch.

And the same thing has already happened with engines/engine contractors. Not that it's a bad thing; I believe it is good. It rewards people with good histories. But, it also hurts newbies breaking into the business.

Oh, incidentally, in case anyone is wondering. An "awesome" fire season (5 stars, planning level 5 for 4 months, best ever, etc., etc.) would barely cover the expenses (pilots, + operations), and the interest on a new CL-415. This assumes you could actually get a new airtanker contract at the current (or similar) rate. The point is, the current rate would provide no debt service at all. It can't pay; unless you can use it overseas in the off season. Even if you paid cash for it, the Return on investment would most likely be at or similar to a bank savings account, in an awesome fire season.

And I wonder why there aren't any new airtankers............

Oh, and, food for thought: With very few FACTORY modifications, you can load a CL-415 with mud.

-/s/ Best Value
6/17 Ab, what's with this RAIN???

NorCal Tom

haw haw

6/17 California: Whole lot of shake'n goin on!!! Main-shocks, fore-shocks, and after-shocks... Also many different unrelated "earthquakes"... all in the last week..... much like last the week on They Said..... The discussions may not be directly related by thread, but they are directly related by overall content and intent.... On the USGS site: they are all earthquakes. On They Said: we are all wildland fire community members. Each member and "earthquake" contributes to the bigger picture and the knowledge we all gain. (the lesser earth movements have been excluded)

3.4  2005/06/16   20:24:28 33.491N 116.531W   10.9 15 km ( 9 mi) ESE of Anza, CA
3.5  2005/06/16   13:54:49 34.054N 117.005W   15.1 5 km ( 3 mi) ENE of Yucaipa, CA
3.7  2005/06/16   13:54:19 34.053N 117.023W   16.8 3 km ( 2 mi) NE of Yucaipa, CA
4.9  2005/06/16   13:53:26 34.058N 117.011W   11.8 5 km ( 3 mi) NE of Yucaipa, CA
3.5  2005/06/16   04:37:51 36.086N 120.144W   15.6 7 km ( 4 mi) NNW of Avenal, CA
3.6  2005/06/15   19:30:27 40.417N 125.342W   5.0 90 km (56 mi) W of Petrolia, CA
3.4  2005/06/15   06:23:01 40.798N 125.586W   34.2 114 km (71 mi) WNW of Ferndale, CA
3.5  2005/06/14   21:37:10 40.837N 125.825W   23.5 135 km (84 mi) WNW of Ferndale, CA
3.7  2005/06/14   21:17:16 40.974N 125.978W   2.5 151 km (94 mi) WNW of Ferndale, CA
3.9  2005/06/14   19:57:00 38.848N 122.823W   3.6 6 km ( 4 mi) NNW of The Geysers, CA
7.2  2005/06/14   19:50:54 41.328N 125.868W   10.0 147 km (91 mi) WSW of Crescent City, CA
3.0  2005/06/13   20:28:17 40.355N 124.931W   7.2 55 km (34 mi) W of Petrolia, CA
3.1  2005/06/12   13:47:47 33.500N 116.571W   12.6 11 km ( 7 mi) ESE of Anza, CA
5.2  2005/06/12   08:41:46 33.533N 116.578W   14.1 9 km ( 6 mi) ESE of Anza, CA
3.0  2005/06/11   13:13:57 32.556N 117.486W   18.6 32 km (20 mi) WSW of Coronado, CA
3.3  2005/06/10   16:56:35 40.389N 117.636W   8.9 36 km (22 mi) WNW of McCoy, NV

Whole Lota Shakin Goin On

6/16 Hey Mellie, didn't get to the computer yesterday but I was thinkin' of ya.
Sorry I missed the "rock and roll" and the beer. And I mighta been able
to ride a tsunami out if I'd been in the Kayak. At least I'da given it my
best try. I hear it's all in the angle of approach.......kinda like life.

6/16 Northnight

Greetings, from a former crew member to a current crew member. Did I understand your post right? Did 525 erect a memorial to Greeno at the base (Indy)? If so that is great, Greeno deserves every recognition for the life he lived, and the work he did. Glad to hear rappel training went off great, hope you had the shaddy side. Tell Booker to "quit screwing around".

6/16 Earthquake -Yucaipa, 79 mi east of LA, San Bernardino Co,
no major damage, no lives lost, 5.3 magnitude.

Socal CDF


Firescribe sent these links -

CA earthquake map: http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/recenteqs/
around the world: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/

6/16 Northnight,

The kids and I had a great time over there, as usual. The hardest part for me was the trip home. Such a huge sadness came over me as we left the Owens Valley for the journey over Sonora Pass. The memorial is beautiful and as soon as I get my darned computer working right I will email the pictures to you guys. Or maybe I should just bring over some more goodies? Be safe, have a good fire season, and maybe we'll see you at Bald Mtn. this year! Thanks again for everything....


6/16 I learned this one a few years into the fire service. It was related to me of a veteran of Viet Nam, remember your fire engine (insert any piece of equipment including aircraft) was built by the lowest bidder. From then on I always kept that thought in mind when using any piece of government equipment. With that thought, have a good day.

It's raining on and off here in Northern Sonoma County, state of California. Fire season is open and looks to be slow so far.

Keep safe.

Retired L.A.V.E.
6/16 VFD

Thanks for your info on that safenet. The number is 6AHM3DSAFE for anyone who wants to read it. It has some info on the way that command handled the incident. It sounds to me like the IC's directions were not followed, however we should find out more about it once the report comes out.

5th year rookie

PS. I was not sure how the relationship among STF's helitack and 404 was. Thank you for the info, Lori. You would be the one to know as John was a valued member of Bald Mountain. Thank you for making the clarification.
6/16 Lori,

First I wanted to thank you for your visit to our base. The baked goods were delicious! I never knew John; I am sad for this. It was a huge loss to the Fire Aviation world from the stories and reputation he holds with so many. As for you, keep the strength and speak out for the cause. So many just go quietly into that good night, because people refuse to speak up. WFF is a great foundation and I support them fully. Keep up the good fight and I hope your pictures of John's memorial here turned out and end up on this site. The tree will be big before any of us know it. It is getting lots of water and T.L.C. Last of all Lori, Welcome to the Indy family again.

R4 Helitack

As a first year R5 helitack person and 4 previous years fighting fire in 3 different regions on handcrews and engines. I find that your remarks about R5 helitack getting off the porch to be hilarious. Our mods working relationship with R4 is beautiful. First our contractor for our ship has our contract plus a few in R4 including our friends in Bridgeport. Bridgeport and Independence Helitack work hand in hand. Most of the personnel here are friends with people on the Bridgeport ship. Their Supe spotted me for 4 of my cert rappels while they were down here training on our tower. To have that type of trust from one mod to another from region to region is not really rare, but refreshing. Our main mission in Independence is fighting fire, but we also do a high number of SARs a year being that Mt. Whitney is in our back yard. We work closely with the county SAR team here. That being said, the Inyo N.F. is also an interagency forest where BLM and FS are one entity. Some of us here drive yellow trucks and others drive green. On the South end of the forest where we have CDF, We get along just fine with them. Take time to step back and lose the bias you have against Region 5. We have a set way of doing things down here that work for the type of fire that we have in this region. The tactics and missions vary greatly from one end of the region to the other, but that has alot to do with the fuel type and fire behavior that we deal with on a seasonal basis. I saw my first Socal fire in 2003 it had me sucking buttermilk. Alot of the plants that grow in Socal are accelerants. Not to mention the amount of houses that are crammed into every canyon and saddle down there! And that is not to say R4 doesn't have WUI, just not at the scale of Southern California. The point I'm making is that Socal fires are intense with alot of political and public pressure to kill the fire and the whole time you have 30 news cameras breathing down your neck. In the end, the world doesn't revolve around R5 and fires burn like a mother anywhere you go, just takes the right conditions.

Thanks AB,

6/16 Hey Gizmo,

The USFS NEVER said these new ones were the best shelter tested. They used weight, ease of opening, protection, cost, size, and more in the comparisons. Other shelters scored higher in the protection tests, but cost too much. So, the USFS approved the ones that scored the highest overall instead, and that's what we have now. The Storm King Technologies shelters would actually keep you safer, but cost too much. The government has to draw the line somewhere at cost, or else we would all be driving around in Ferrari Fire engines in 4 layer Kevlar nomex with carbon-fiber hardhats.


6/16 I would like to be the first poster here to say happy soon to be (July) retirement to yactac. I first met yac in 1993 when his hotshot crew came over to complete there dozer boss class when I worked as a dozer swamper for SBC. Yac came up and introduced himself as "killer" and I thought to myself, what a crazy nickname, wonder what he did for that one.

A few years later I got the opportunity to fill in on the crew and was assigned to his buggy. I learned allot from Yac, Supt, and Bone the couple of months I spent on the crew. Yac has been a good friend to me over the past 10 years and I can't say how much he has taught me.

When you here the phrase "pay it forward" yac is the first in line to lead and guide. His contributions in the air world, hotshots, and fireline leadership has been huge. He is truly going to missed in the fire community and on the forest where he has spent most of his career.

Killer my friend, you haven't left yet but I would like to say happy soon to be retirement and enjoy the wind in your hair as you and Crowbar make your rides to Mexico and enjoy your soon to be unlimited time to throw your line into the ocean to slay some yellow tail.

Good luck and I wish you the best,

6/16 Well I've read this site for as long as it been on the web. I feel its a good way for people to talk about the things that make them tick. The one thing I hope everyone always keeps in the back or front of their mind is that the No.1 job in Wildland Fire is to bring everyone back everytime. No matter what Color the Engines, The Region, State, and Local VFD's. I was in wildfire for 35 years on Engines, Hotshots, Overhead, and Teams; As a Type 1 Ops I always new it was my Job to bring all my troops back safe and I did that on some the major fires in the USA .

Times are changing for all Wildland Fighters - some good some not so good - but give it a chance and see what happens. Don't waste a alot of time worry about it. The FS is like everyone else, it will change its mind at some point.

I would like to say Thanks to all of you out there who over the years I have work with on the fires in my past. THE WILDLAND FIRE FIGHTERS ARE THE BEST!! and I am Glad to walk away knowing that I did bring youall home safe for 35 years.

T.Mo/AKA Spike Thompson Falls Mt

Congratulations on your retirement, Spike. Ab.

6/16 5th year rookie,

Hopefully when the Tuolumne report is released, we'll have some answers for the questions
you've asked. The 72-hour report doesn't give that kind of information.

There was a SAFENET filed in March that alleges the CDF captain was from a structural/medic
background with little wildland experience. It also claims that aerial resources on the fire were
not utilized as requested by the IC.

vfd cap'n
6/16 Hello Gizmo,

The results will be out soon for the shelters, also keep your eyes out for more
information coming on something new, and when its ready you will read about
it on wildlandfire.com

6/15 Regarding the new fire shelters.....

I agree that we should not rely upon them when we decide tactics or strategy..... but if we or others make a human factors mistake and get into a deployment situation, the last chance for survival must be a top notch product without any flaws.

Snap shot to the past:

Another view showing the test results of another shelter:

A statement regarding fire shelter development by BLM:
I got stumped when I read,

"The new design will be superior to the shelters currently in use. The new shelter is .6 pounds heavier and 64 cubic inches larger, but it folds up to almost the same size. The new shelter showed a 22 percent reduction in temperature rise in radiant heat compared to the current shelter, and an 81 percent reduction in temperature rise in convective heat testing. It is also more resistant to punctures and tearing than its predecessor."

(Important: weight, size, radiant and convective heat reduction, and resistance to tears and punctures).

So, does anyone know where we can find the published results from the various studies that show that the current shelter was the best model?... so that we can compare and learn? Can we find a comparative study between the new shelter, the old shelter, and any of the other proposed designs?

I'm just a wildland firefighter who wants to compare the facts for safety.


P.S. - If anyone has the Boreal Forests study of the fire shelter testing available.. please post... thanks!

6/15 5th year rookie,

I can tell you that the working relationship between CDF (and more specifically 404) and the Stanislaus NF was excellent. I know people in both these agencies and there was no animosity between them, so I don't think that this was in any way a contributing factor. 404 would come to Bald Mtn for training sessions and vice versa, and the respect each showed for the other was outstanding. I feel that mistakes were made (obviously, or we wouldn't be talking about it), and that everyone will learn from them. This isn't a "them" vs "us" scenario.

Lori Greeno
6/15 Hey AB,

Maybe we can get everybodies' minds and tempers going a different direction.
I have a few questions concerning the new fire shelters. I have one, along with my partner.
Now I have heard that the left hand right hand tabs have torn off, is it true? Is there a recall on this type of shelter? Is there anything else we should be worried about concerning this shelter? It was made in 4/04.
No, I have not removed the shelter from the plastic cover, I just hope I never have to.
It has been raining here in Montana, but if history repeats its self and it gets hot and dry later on, watch the sky for smoke.


There may be some dialog going on. Perhaps we'll get some feedback. Ab.

6/15 Hmm, not only am I a troller, but apparently I can't resist one either - Ab
just mentions me and here I come.

I'd say R4 Helitack has earned his Troll Award (if he'd just stand tall and
take credit). To honor his achievement in drawing extemporaneous responses
maybe we could all pitch in and buy him a big bag of Purina Puppy Chow(tm).

I think it's okay for me to say that because I was on a SoCal helicopter
crew once. (How did DM2 get away with that one?)

Be safe everyone, and take your work seriously, but don't take yourselves
too seriously.

6/15 Lessons Learned

I was wondering specifically about the tuolumne fire since it is more like the area that I work in currently (agency relationship-wise and topography-wise). Is it known whether or not they believed that LCES was in place? Had they gone through the Downhill line check list? If they had all of this in place, was there communication of these? Was there tension among 404 and the forest service? From what I hear there was a good working relationship but if there was not, do you think that it contributed to the fatalities?

As I said in my previous post, I am interested in learning lessons and passing them on. I was not attacking you and your knowledge, just trying to get your perspective. I hope I have not offended too much as that was not my intent.

5th year rookie

We welcome new firefighters here, especially the younger generation, seeking to learn. Don't be too sensitive about offending. The Tuolumne Fire official report should be out soon, beginning of June was what I heard some time ago. There's a new regional forester who might be reviewing it before release. That last sentence is speculation on my part. Ab.

6/15 Today is apparently "Ladies Day" on Capitol Hill...or my charismatic charm. Congresswomen Doris Matsui (D-CA), Mary Bono (R-CA) and Lois Capps (D-CA) all signed on today as cosponsors to H.R. 408, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act.

For those of you that lent your names to the "petition," it has obviously had its impact. Thanks again.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
6/15 Thought some of your readers might be interested.... (See attached file: SCNF Fire Safety Conference.doc)


File Code: 5100 Date: June 13, 2005
Route To: (6700)

Subject: Salmon-Challis National Forest Safety Conference
To: All Employees

The Salmon-Challis National Forest will be putting on a Safety Conference, June 21-22, 2005. This safety conference is a one-day event, presented on both ends of the forest.

The keynote speaker will be Robert Mutch, who will kick off the conference with “A Dream, A Team, A Theme: Your Portal to Zero Defect Wildland Safety”. Bob gave this presentation at the International Association of Wildland Fire last month in Missoula, Montana.

Dave Thomas will be the second speaker with his presentations “High Reliability” and “Staff Rides”.
The third speaker will be Paul Chamberlin, who will present “Portals to Increased Firefighter Awareness”.
Joe Carvelho will close the conference with his presentation on “Fighting Fire in the Salmon Breaks”.
All four presenters have powerful messages that deal with lessons learned.

On June 21st, the session will be held at the City Center in Salmon. The conference will start at 0900. On June 22nd, the session will be held at the Challis High School in Challis. The start time will be 0900.

The Safety Conference is open to all employees and I encourage all employees to attend.
Questions about the conference can be directed to Terri Knauth, 756-5552 or Kurt Werth, 756-5158.

/s/ William A. Wood
Forest Supervisor

6/15 Lessons Learned et al,

Hold on a minute, shouldn't we be talking about what went wrong on fires such as the Cedar, Toulumne and Cramer? Isn't this how we learn and in some way pay respect to those who have died. I had no idea what was going on during the Cedar fire. The Cedar Fire report I read via They Said was educational and drove home some notions of situational awareness and lack thereof in stressful WUI situations. I also want to learn from these past events for the selfish reason of self preservation, maybe I can save my ass from the house of pain because of something gleaned from a discussion on a tragedy fire. I do think discussions should focus on the what not the who and avoid the regional or agency rivalries that are often hinted at, subtlety or not so. I came to R-5 from R-1 and there are differences in fire culture betwixt the two, however I am tired of defending both regions and the way each does business to myself and others, this is the United States of America... we are in this together, red truck, green truck, missoula or redding, we all have the same goal... to see some fire, make some scratch and come home in one piece when it is all said and done. Be safe out there and stay dry.


6/15 Hey I don’t know if it’s too late to post about things to do in Colorado—but I would recommend visiting the Devil’s Head fire tower in Pike National Forest, off Rampart Range Road. Pike NF still operates an actual fire tower at this location, though I think it’s more for publicity than anything else. It’s a very easy hike to the tower, which has an incredible view of all of central Colorado, from the Sangre De Cristo Range all the way to Long’s Peak. You will have an incredible view of Pike’s Peak and a birds-eye view of the Hayman burn area. If you look closely you can also see several other burn scars including Schoonover, Buffalo Creek, and High Meadows. Start your hike early in the day to avoid lightning.

Sign me,


Never too late. I will copy and paste the message to the Aussie. Ab.

6/15 5th Year Rookie -
Actually, I have been known to occasionally do some report dredging myself.

Ab -
I wasn't really trolling for responses yesterday, just maybe chumming the water
a little bit for R4 Helitack Guy. You know, tossing some of those grunion chunks
back into open waters.

vfd cap'n
6/15 earthquake & tsunami update

I thought the earthquake/possible tsunami offered an excellent training opportunity and/or a HEADS UP for the emergency responders and the Public on the Pacific coast. Seismologists did not know at first what kind of quake it was: any sub-Pacific quake over 7.0 triggers an automatic alert. Alerts should always be responded to in my estimation. More time means more decision space. So if a quake is 90 miles away out in the ocean, responses must be fast, evacuation procedures should run smoothly and be practiced. (I thought of Gordon Graham and the emphasis he placed on practicing for those high risk, low frequency scenarios.)

As it turned out, the earthquake (7.4) was along a strike-slip fault -- which meant movement was side-to-side. Side-to-side quakes don't displace lots of water and don't create tsunamis. If the quake had been along a subduction fault (one plate diving under another), it would have thrown water up with massive force and the wave would have traveled at airplane speeds (500+ mph) like in southasia. As I understand it, the way they figure out which kind of fault was triggered is by whether the tsunami warning buoys show a resulting wave. With those kinds of speed, there's not much time, perhaps way less than an hour to nearest land. An additional local concern was that we had just had a record high tide an hour before and water level was still very high, plus there's a low pressure coming onshore soon (with precip), pushing the ocean before it. The southasia tsunami did us a favor here by awakening seismologists to the fact that we are more vulnerable to tsunami following subduction quakes than previously thought.

(Firenwater, that sea level restaurant where we had lunch was evacuated, as were the beaches and marsh where we walked yesterday afternoon. If you'd been in your kayak with a tsunami approaching, you might have been in trouble! Wow, you know how low the tide was when we were walking, well it was equally high when it came back in. Think of piling a big wave on top of that! Those cliffs, cold water... we woulda probably been goners.)

Shari, I don't know about other areas, but I think there are tsunami maps MAP for the town here that show how far inland you might expect a tsunami to travel based on differing magnitudes of subduction earthquakes at avg tide levels. At least my family has that all figured out. We also have agreed on evacuation plans and where we'll meet on higher ground if needed. Might check for San Francisco.

Some interesting north coast CA history: A family friend, Debra Carver, did some research and documented a large subduction quake that took place 320 years ago that dropped the land 100' in places between Fortuna and Trinidad. That's where those big bluffs at Fortuna (CDF helibase) and between the McKinleyville airport and the ocean (& hwy 101) come from. Debra had a grant and spent 2 or 3 years interviewing Native American elders between Crescent City and Shelter Cove who had very interesting stories to tell that are part of all the tribes' oral history. The stories of massive earth movement are supported by geological record. She did a paper that is probably on file at the HSU library. (Her husband Gary is a retired HSU geology prof.) Interesting stuff.

I have heard that Crescent City failed yesterday's impromptu tsunami notification and evacuation test. They are at sea level and lost 11 people in 1964 from a tsunami created by an Alaskan subduction quake. They have a lot more people to loose should a tsunami hit again. I hope they will use this for lessons learned. I need to talk to a FMO friend who retired there to see what he thought and if his house is almost at sea level or not...

As for my family, we had our first ever tsunami party. Our house is on high ground. None of us are at risk. Nevertheless, the guys showed up with the fattie first aid kits, big flashlights and extra batteries, food and beer. Firenwater, you left too soon!

Original Ab, hope I didn't break your eardrums yesterday evening. I don't think I've ever been talking on a phone when a quake's hit before. <chuckle> We do tend to have the whoohooo-ride-m-cowboy response to earthquakes, etc in my family. Best to be prepared as possible when the adrenalin hits and ride the wave, hopefully thinking all the time! (Boy, I can tell I'm ready for fire season... and we're getting more rain tomorrow!!!)


6/15 In this process of attempting to quickly tracking down valid information on last evening’s quake off the N. Calif. coast (most accurate, up to date info came out of Palmer, Alaska), I found an excellent site that can help us all prepare ourselves and our families for a wide variety of emergencies. I’ve advised my adult children (who’ve all chosen to live on the California coast) to largely ignore the oncoming media frenzy/hype and instead focus on gleaning and using valid and useful information provided by organizations such as the California Seismic Safety Commission (www.seismic.ca.gov/hog.php). Really good stuff there if any of you are interested.

6/15 Just received notice of second FF/ATV accident, June 3rd. This one
resulted in a fatality. Nevada Division of Forestry employee.

Old Fire Guy

Old Fire Guy, would you please alert the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to make sure Vicki has the info? We reported a NV ATV death last week. I hope this isn't another one. Be safe on those vehicles, firefighters. Ab.

6/15 Donna,

I IA’d the Roberts fire that burned into Glacier Park two years ago… I spent just about the entire season working out of MSO and IA’d most of the large fires that plagued R1 that year and helped keep quite a few others small. I have fought fire in Alaska, the Southern Tier of the lower 48, all over the Western US, Texas, Kansas and Mexico.

My point to R4 Helitack is that no one place has a lock on “fire behavior”. She or he should choose their words more wisely …. Especially when speaking about brother and sister firefighters.

As for her or his interpretation of folks speaking of current affairs, historical fires … If she or he feels they have nothing to learn from it … don’t read it! Let it roll off of the back like water…

I am extremely proud of our cooperative agreements with the local, county and state fire agencies. We work well together… I am not sure where she / he is coming from in alluding to the fact that we do not work together. I believe we have the best interagency cooperation I have seen anywhere.

If you have never experienced a grunion run, you should! It is great fun and they make fantastic Halibut bait not to mention being tasty little dudes and dudettes….

Anyway, as AB said … time to put this thread to bed as it serves no useful purpose.

X R5 Hotshot

6/15 Folks,

Have been away for a bit and find this latest line of dialogue to be both entertaining and disturbing. To R-4 helitack: As an old busted knee hot shot I can say I have been all over the west and dealt with lots of fire in various places. I hope to be back with you in R-4 this season as the Salmon Breaks are where I cut my teeth, so to speak, on big fire, and it is still my favorite place to play the game. Maybe this has to do with the majority of the helitack folks I have dealt with working looooong days at the base and crashing in the shade but you should be the last of the members of this outstanding group of professional firefighters to be telling anybody to get their "puppy asses" off the porch. Come to the district I manage now and there ain't no manufactured shade and your drinks will get warm in the sun cause coolers and motel rooms aren't part of the helicopter deal unless your detailed here.

As for places to get burned, the closest I ever came was in Mississippi with a close second in that now forgotten fire which the Cramer Fire burned into.

New Thread: New Evolution Fire Shelters

You folks actually plan on getting yourselves into a situation that you will have to use one of these? If thats the case then we might as well quit training you and stop pouring fire behavior training into you and our new folks. Have folks forgotten that the goal is "TO NOT HAVE TO USE THE GODDAMN THINGS"! Does that need to be repeated?

What part of the problem are you missing? Counting on your fire shelter to protect you is the same as counting on a helicopter to be your escape route and not paying attention to where your safety zone is.

Fifth Year.

We need to discuss these events to keep them from happening again. Part of our history, mode of operation, and basic method of training. Do you think military agencies stop using past actions as a training tool? Learn what you can as fast as you can because you are going to be asked to step up far beyond what you think you are capable of doing as folks start to go out the door.


Having worked in R-1 for twenty years and having seen several of the incidents you mentioned (which fire in the Glacier area were you referring too. Robert, Wedge, Moose, or the complexes on the Flathead in 01/02/03) plus a few that you didn't mention (Canyon Creek in 88, Black Sunday in 88, Kootenai 94/98/00,) In my opinion you are in the best fire region in the country because of the variety of what you will deal with plus the fact that by the time R1 burns folks have already worked through the initial jitters that accompany the beginning of fire season. Best party in the fire world when we start burning up north.

Be safe,

Ex Joe Boy

6/15 R4 Helitack Guy:

Nice try at the back pedaling!



I just could not keep my mouth shut in the face of your prejudice.

Sign me,


Now, now, time to shut this down. Ab.

6/15 As a seven (7) year vet from CDF... with another seven (7) with the
California Military Department (BOB)... and yet another 6.5 with

add is...

Clumsy Dumb F*ers

as I too served in more than one capacity... at this
capacity... given the point of view of those I was
honored to be in the presence of... but man how we
dished it back!

Rich Hoffmann, "HOFFY"
Fire Captain (med-ret.)
Patented Inventor (2)
Published Photographer/Graphic Artist/Writer

Keep up the great work!

A wise man is open to new ideas. In fact, he searches for them. Proverbs 18:15
6/14 Ab..

I wasn't trying to start no rivalry between any regions, like I said we're all in this job/career together. All I meant to bring out was that after the different incidents concerning fatalities, pointing fingers doesn't do anyone any good, learn from what happened and apply the lessons learned then move on. Ab like the discussion you and I had some time back about the the contract crew returning from the south fork fire, nobody can say with any certainty what caused that accident, we can assume, speculate, even condemn like I did but bottom line is who knows what happened and what those involved were thinking at the time. We learn from the circumstances and move on. Hope everybody made it through that shake down there in norcal in good shape. Hope it didn't shake them Big Dawgs up too much.

Be Safe Everyone
R4 Helitack Guy

Hmmm, it appeared to me from yer own words and style you were fishing for responses... If now was a couple a years ago you might have won the Trolling Club Award of the Year. I think BLM Bob might have been the last recipient, but I'm not sure... Ab.
6/14 Earthquake and tsunami?

What a roller! Went on for a long time. I thought if it originated
right here that it was about a magnitude 5.4.

It originated about 90 miles offshore and was a 7.0. They're
evacuating beaches and low lying areas. We should know
soon if we're going to have waves.


Ab, followup... they've cancelled the tsunami warning, probably
because it would have hit us here by now. Phew.

6/14 Earthquake in Humboldt? Mellie, you’re there. Was there one?
Have you heard anything about a tsunami warning for the west
coast? I have daughters in the bay area.

6/14 Well I wanted to post the question to VFD as to why we should not discuss what happened on the fires he mentioned (Cedar, Cramer, and Tuolumne). Whats wrong with "Dredging up the past"? If its a waste of your time, DONT READ IT!!! But as our first amendment right gives us the right to a freedom of speech, I have to say to all who want to, dredge up the past. There are many lessons to learn and pass on and by bringing them up it allows us to learn it better.

As for deciding that everyone who died on these fires were being "Big Dogs" it is my belief that you should not make that assumption. Were you there? If you were, I would like to pick your brain so I can learn more and pass that knowledge on to the younger firefighters I know.

When I started to write this, I was mad. I got through and had to start over so that I didnt sound stupid to all of you. I want to say as a younger firefighter that you all should encourage all firefighters to discuss these tragedy fires to make those lives lost not wasted.

5th year rookie

Well said. Ab.

6/14 Every Geographical area presents its own hazards and is unique to the firefighters around it.

I think that no matter where you are that you can get hurt by an incident if you underestimate the powers that be. I dont care what region you're from. Be careful and watch out for others and others will watch out for you and quit bashing each other cause some day you may be in a different region fighting for what you may think is worthless but may be important to others around you.


6/14 Gosh Helitack sure touched a few nerves here. Reading back I can see some of his point as valid from some of these "Puppy Asses" from where ever that responded to his post though they sound more like "Candy Asses" to me. During my 3 years as a Smoke Jumper up "North" I never learned that fires in California burned "Hotter" than anywhere else, then again water boils faster at 212 degrees at sea level, but I guess a Rock with a GED cutting a fireline would probably know that with his vast knowledge and experience. "Like wow dude maybe that has somethin to do with the run of the grunion at malibu...totally narley". I guess xR5Hotshot and DM2 never seen the blow ups at Clear Creek, Sula, Hayman, Glacier..oh wait those were up north where theres hardly any fires. I can see where cali could have a heavier fuel load with all those homes build on the hillsides compared to slopes of nothing but pine, fir, juniper, sage ect. Anyway I'm sure you studmuffins will handle anything real hot that comes your way, on the computer anyway, Surfs Up Dude...Peace Out!

Engine Captain/Paramedic
Northern Rockies

Haw Haw. studmuffins?... No POSH in yer neck'o'the'woods? OK, the first posts from R5 Helitack and those following were pretty funny and flavorsome. They illustrate the rivalry between regions. This afternoon, I'm feeling like the tone of posts is changing. Maybe it's time to find a new thread or change the tone. Ab.

6/14 R4 Helitack Guy

What are you whining about?
Give me some background?
You sound like the whiner...... Sorry, but when you start grouping people
together.... there is alot of difference. Unless you know your history,
just keep your trap shut.

6/14 Has anyone heard when the R6 site will be back up?

6/14 R-4 vs R-5 or R-5 vs Rest of World.

Just had to comment on the thread that R-4 Helitick started and some of the comments that he (or she) got back. I would caution those in R-5 not to underestimate fires in other locations just because you have survived the "crucible" of California fires. That can lead to injury. I personally have not had a chance to go to work in Cali on a fire, but I do hear that they are hot and intense. I will take the "3 day rappel camping show on a single snag" over a detail to California any day of the week. I started fighting fire in the Salmon River Country in Idaho, which is very steep and nasty, but that experience did not prepare me for cheat grass fires in Nevada. I have talked to many folks from R-1 and R-4 who have had details down to California and they have not had positive experiences. Most of the issues they have related to me were personnel related. I personally worked with a Management Team out of California on a fire in Montana and watched them systematically offend the community surrounding the fire. They did not have an understanding of the "culture" of the area they were in and were trying to do things the way they would in California, and not adapt there strategy to fit the area.

Now that I have managed to offend most of R-5, I will say that many of the tech changes and many good ideas have come out of R-5. A lot of the management techniques we use today were perfected down there. Due to the large population and lots of urban interface, there are many firefighters concentrated in a relatively small area. This can lead to a good exchange of ideas and techniques.

To sum it up, treat every fire as if it could hurt you, regardless of its location or your experience. Familiarity breeds contempt, and contempt of fire will get you burnt!

Have a safe season
6/14 The lessons learned from historic fatality fires must be something we
all have to learn. 'Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to
repeat it.' If you don't believe in learning from the past, throw away
your fireline handbook, forget your 10 fire orders and the watchout
situations, and dive in head first.

6/14 re: the "yur puppy asses" comment


I think R4 Helitack Guy brings up a really good point. All these "puppy
asses" who keep dredging up the past about Cedar and Toulumne and Cramer and
Point are just wasting everybody else's time and squandering the precious
bandwidth of your website.

After all, there wasn't anything "puppy ass" about how those two sawyers
above Cache Bar drainage did their job. They chewed it up just like the big
dogs, dropping all those trees to clear out H-2, regardless of the fire
below. And the crew of Helicopter 404 didn't stay on the porch - they
jumped right off to build that downhill fireline.

How about the crew of engine 6162? Or the jumpers, 'shots and helitack guys
on Storm King? Or the boys at Mann Gulch?

No sir, not a puppy ass to be found on those incidents. They just kept on
being big dog firefighters right up to the end.

So, like R4 Helitack Guy says, everybody should just forget about what
happened last year or a couple days ago (let alone a decade or a half
century back!!!)

vfd cap'n

ps, My puppy ass and the puppy asses on my crew will be joining the IAFC
Stand Down for Safety next week.
6/14 Hey Gizmo-

As soon as Proctor and Gamble, the insurance industry, and other big business ask me my permission as a stockholder before they funnel their monies for a political cause happens, then I’ll be fine with the idea of the union asking me too. It’s called a one sided muzzle and the “Son of 226.” We fought this same battle a few years ago, now the focus is only on public employee unions this time around with private unions left out.

Analogy: very similar to turning the gizmo a quarter-turn to the right……..shut off.

“Another CDF BC”
6/14 R4 Helitick

Thanks for fulfilling the comedy portion of my day!!! R 4 Helitick
taking about us sitting on the porch! bout broke my gut laughing so hard!

Come on out and play with the big dogs Brother!
.....If you can stand the heat!

x R5 Hotshot.....
6/14 R4 Helitack Guy,
I would have to say that most of us are not so much into bashing one another, but promoting equal pay for equal work. If "ya'll," had as many fires up North as we do down here, I would surmise that you would be in the same boat, preaching about equal pay for equal work. Not that I am totally discrediting you, but until you have worked down here, on a helicopter, I would suggest you keep quiet. Fires down here are more than a 3 day rappel camping show on a single snag. N.Z. Helitack... P.S. Joatmon, We had a similar experience with the shelters... Are we going to have to wait for a safety alert to tell us to rip the sides and then tape them?... Or can we finally do it on our own without the "man," telling us to do so.

6/14 Ab..

Yea part of of it was tongue in cheek but I've sure seen a lot of bickerin, backbiting, second guessing, monday mornin quarterbackin from some of them cali firefighters directed at other cali firefighters. I'll just take a shot at this but it seems to me that alot of that doesn't really create good comaraderie. Why can't someone come up with topics of discussion such as tactics, training, hands on stuff. The average Grunt (and I use that term affectionately) on the fireline really doesn't give a rats ass about who was to blame for something that happened years ago or two days ago for that matter, and that includes somebodys 2 cents worth about how that engine captain at the cedar burnover should have done this or that, what happened was a tragedy no doubt but incidents like that get beat to death in here more than a dozen dead horses.

Oh yea Ab...do fires down there in Cali burn any hotter than fires someplace else?, I know Clear Creek and Hayman was burning pretty hot when I was on those.
You Da Man Ab

R4 Helitack Guy
6/13 "yur puppy asses on the porch"

This has to be a joke

Mr. JCrickett

Might'a been kind'a tongue in cheek but it's fer sure if he gets to California he'll find out what real heat is all about. Ab.

6/13 backburnfs,

Did you mean Petronius Arbiter?

6/13 Question

What site has fire details posted. I'm having trouble
finding any info.

Thanks PYG

Isn't that done through the Forest Service Intranet? Ab.


Monday, June 20, 2005

7:00 pm. EDT
(4PM Pacific)


6/22 – 12 AM, 9 PM
6/23 – 12 PM
6/24 – 7 PM
6/25 – 1 PM
6/25 – 4 PM


Educating the public in the many aspects of managing wildland fire.
Introducing the role of fire use and other treatments in reducing the impacts of wildland fire.
Emphasis on the impact to human life and property.
Enlighten people on living with wildland fire in the wildland urban interface.
Programs done in partnership between the Forest Service and The Weather Channel.

Dick Mangan

Set your timers. Ab.

6/13 Didn't check to see if this one was already posted but it seems


"We trained hard, but it seemed that every time
we were beginning to form up, we would be
reorganized. I was to learn later in life that
we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing.
And what a wonderful method it can be for creating
an illusion of progress while producing confusion,
inefficiency and demoralization."
Petronious Arbitar, 210 BC"

How appropriate for the times. We posted it on the quotes page. Ab.

6/13 I just went outside and kissed the ground and praised the lord that I work here in the backwoods of R4. I think us backwoods country bumpkins are gonna be busy this season, we'll probably get sent down to cali to fight them fires cuz it seems that all them cali firefighters are gonna be too busy fightin politicians and amongst themselves to fight them big ol cali fires. Ya'll down there need to wake up and smell the coffee, you're all in the effort together, CDF, USFS, BLM, Cooperators, Career Municiple, Vollies, Union, Non Union ect. Its time to step up to the plate people, quit the whinin n cryin, the pshycoanalizin, remove the cranium from the anal garage and get out there and do the job instead of blowin hot air, either that or keep yur puppy asses on the porch.

R4 Helitack Guy
6/13 Lori,

I never knew your husband but it sounds like he was a part of a
first class group of folks. Way to go 517! I had some tears well up
as i read that.

God Bless and am still thinking and praying for you all,

6/13 Here it is, the start of a new fire season. Yesterday morning I was having my coffee when I could faintly hear the sound of rotor blades. I went out on my deck and watched as usual. I watched as John's helicopter, 517, came and circled my house twice with the sirens going, and then flew off to Bald Mtn. It was a beautiful tribute to Greeno and once again makes me realize that I have a bigger family than I could have ever imagined.

Everyone have a safe season and take care of one another. If you haven't joined the 52 Club at WFF, please take the time to do so. They do more for families than you realize. Hopefully you will never have to use their services, but know that if you are hurt or killed on the job, they will be there for your families! Thanks to those that have joined already and to those that will join. It made a difference to us in our time of need and for that I can't thank you all enough.

Lori Greeno

Glad yer with us. Ab.

6/13 new generation fire shelter:

so's i finally got to whip out a new shelter. the first "red ring" i grabbed ripped clean off. luckily, i've been trained to stick my finger in the hole and continue to rip open the package, however, the other ring stayed intact and this was not needed.......

brand new shelters......same old problem....

on a good note, we stuck a 6 ' 7" dude in it and guess what? it wasn't as bad as i thought! everyone has been whining like mad about the length, but this fella climbed right in. he was a bit cramped but agreed that it would do the job.

we stuck two "normal size" dudes in it also. while we did fit.....there was no acceptable air-space left. make sure you REALLY, REALLY like the other person before you try this drill....

anyway, all things considered, i like it enough to carry it.


P.S. how many of you got yer feet tangled in the hold down straps while donning?
6/13 Retired L.A.V.E.

TY <TY=thank you> for sharing your VFD knowledge. most VFDs I encountered yrs ago had common sense attitude, not all.
Although I expected to get beat up for my statements, didn't anticipate that my national "dumming down" would be misinterpreted to be FF specific.

Like you, I know what I witnessed and the injury claims "processed" along with accounting for the "boot" passed proceeds. However, the cash from a "boot" is usually delivered to the family directly.
CA FF injury claims were paid quickly; that differs greatly from those of Fed ground pounders or sky jockeys - reports I saw claimed the "boot" collection (Cedar fire tragedy) was close to half a mil, shared between the Novato responders. maybe Vicky can provide specifics.

Most who post here have experienced different scenarios, and all have differing views better a good debate than stupid party line mentality.


Herr Gropinator will only add to the CA state debt if his ego isn't roped in... last guess $90,000,000 and growing....cities & counties will foot the bill for a special election which equals budget cuts. time for elected legislators to enact meaningful legislation and stop milking their status. if no budget by 6/15, withhold their pay checks and no expense claim reimbursements!

AB, has the original intent of a FF memorial morphed into all inclusive to include those who have passed when sitting in their rocking chair?

be safe y'all

-iver, please do not muddy the water regarding donations. If you have good things to say, say them. If you have critical things to say, say them clearly. Craft your paragraph with known information and let us know specifically which entity got what donated and what you mean by donations to "boot funds". Fire camp? State? Fed? Some unknown entity? Make your points 1, 2, 3. If necessary, YOU call and gather info and INFORM US.

You do more harm than good (and I assume you want to do "good") by posing confusing questions and offering confusing information when it comes to behavior of organizations supporting wildland firefighter families. Vicki and her staff have critical things to do with their time. Don't waste it. The WFF did not have a "boot fund" following the Cedar Fire. I called and asked. They don't know about monies contributed to other entities.

Guess you pushed my button... If you're not part of the solution, you're not really helping our families... Ab.

6/13 From Firescribe:

Attack helicopter, one-of-a-kind U.S.
Forest Service flight simulator help pilots battle summer blazes

6/13 I am currently a firefighter in Alaska. We do have to wear Nomex, we do have to train with and carry fire shelters. The only thing different in our uniforms up here is that we don't have to wear 100% leather boots. We can wear boots with rubber lowers and leather uppers because of the wetness. Any good water proof tent will work. The fancy ones with all the windows and stuff to let the air in, will most likely let the bugs in as well. http://fire.ak.blm.gov/

To the guy from "Down Under" asking about fire things to look at in Colorado. If you can get ahold of the Forest Service in the Boulder area they might be able to show you some stuff on the fire that they had that burned a bunch of houses, back in the early 80's I believe.
Go to Storm King. Plan on taking a whole day, then walk that line, don't just visit the markers. Fort Collins has a shot crew, if they aren't out visiting them would be good, especially if you could then go to Estes and visit with Alpine or down to Pikes Peak to visit with them. Alpine is one of two National park Service Hot Shot Crews in the Nation. The Hayman fire was down south as well. That one is very recent and I am sure that any of the forest Service Units in that part of the state will have information and maps to show you. That was the biggest fire in Colorado history. Hope that helps.


6/13 Regarding the CA legislation, specifically paycheck protection,

Many UNION workers in California ARE REQUIRED to be MEMBERS of the UNION to hold their jobs. Those same members have no say whether their REQUIRED union dues actually promote their wishes. Many IAFF departments REQUIRE members to contribute dues for representation. CPF, a part of the IAFF, is actively opposing the paycheck protection clause.

It's a small part of the equation, a bigger part of the whole.

Why is it so bad that members of an organization can say whether or not their contributed funds from their paycheck go to things that they support?

The United States is not a socialist state.

6/13 Hello,

When faced with an untenable vegetation fire people will stand in front
of them, to protect structures and it does not make sense. Resources
would not have been committed to Bonita Creek or Walkmore Cyn if it were
not for the structures, resources would not have been committed to
Orchard Lane if it were not for the structures,etc.

Micro burst and downbursts are not unpredictable especially at that time
of year in that part of the world. It was 122 in Phoenix the day the
Dude Fire started, what do you need to know about fire behavior in those
conditions, well it was also the beginning of Monsoon season. Mogollon,
monsoon! sounds like downdrafts and microbursts to me.

The only thing that makes fighting a fire in the wui more dangerous that
the wilderness is the structures and roads, and because of those things
we seem to forget topography, fuels and weather.

I trying to say that this is a flammable planet and when a monster
vegetation fire burns in vegetation that happens to include buildings,
be especially careful because a mindset sometimes prevails that we must
'save the structures' please do not fall into that trap.

Would we fight the Soboba fires and the Morongo fires and the Kitchings
and the Bee kinds of fires so hard if it weren't for the structures and
towns of the San Jacintos and the San Gorgonios?

6/13 Thanks to Kyle & joatmon

For providing info and links regarding Line Of Duty Deaths and the memorial
in Sacramento.

It's all much clearer now ... no wonder there are so many names.


6/13 A CDF Public Employee,

You said. "Supervisors under the Arnold administration are treated like sh*t to put it bluntly. Because they do not have collective bargaining rights, they must meet and beg for scraps. They make less money than the people they supervise. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the problem with this. Many are sure to leave shortly now that the governor this week has shut the door on them once and for all."

I have to ask, with all of those CDF Bargaining Units, how does CDF not have collective bargaining power? So what does Local IAFF 2881 do with their money? Are you referring to the Division Chiefs and above that make less than Battalion Chiefs and Captains?

Rogue Rivers
6/12 Does anyone with CDF know if and when they will open up the Hiring for new
Fire Captains?

6/12 Well, after spending a good part of the morning searching and reading on the Internet about the special California election issue and what it means to various organizations, I'm a little more educated, but probably not any wiser.

Ab., please delete my post from yesterday as I now realize the relevancy and its importance to a large segment of wildland firefighters. The union dues initiative has the potential of affecting other States should it pass in California first, so it's not just a CA firefighter issue. Here's one of many links I plowed through that offers a fairly balanced point of view:

Thanks for the forum and the continuing education Ab. Keep up the good work!

SteveM (with knees once again firmly secured with velcro straps to chair legs)

Haw Haw -- on the anti-knee jerk remedy. Good luck in stifling a reaction that's as powerful as a firehose being charged. Ab.

6/12 CDF Issues and Arnold


The situation between Arnold and the CDF firefighters is complex. On one hand, he has supported many things that have been good for the department. We have a new director that is a firefighter and this is good. He has budgeted for year round staffing in southern California and this is good. He has started to address replacing a fleet of 350 engines of which over 50% are way past their operational service life with many approaching or past 20 years in age -- this too is good.

Many of the fire stations and other facilities are also worn out and in need of replacement. The operational budget has not been increased since 1985. Many unfunded programs that have come into being since then have taken those scarce dollars and squeezed them even further. To make up for that, the department typically converts personal services dollars into the operating side at the end of the year. The problem with this is that the positions are left unfilled to make this shift possible. Meanwhile, retirements continue and we loose people and don’t replace them. The department is about to experience a huge loss of the baby boomers through a couple of dynamics about to converge, yet the department refuses to recognize this through proactive hiring into the state’s fire academy. The worst part of it all, is Ione was just dismantled in the last three years after the temporary funding was allowed to sunset just when they needed to be gearing up for replacing the exodus. All of the leadership in Sacto just watched it happen for whatever reason. It’s too late now. They will be hard pressed to catch up.

On the contract side of things with the employees, Arnold is nothing more than a Pete Wilson clone. Many of Wilson’s cronies are in the Arnold cabinet. He has been declared public enemy number one by the employee unions that have fought hard over the last 20 years to gain in areas when there was nothing going on in salary. The typical CDF firefighter has had only a 5% pay raise since September 2001. Yes, they have finally had their overtime rate fixed to match that of the rest of the fire service, but that too has taken over five years to accomplish and at the expense of regular salary increases. In many cases, employees have not realized the 5%, because the exchanged it with the Davis administration for an extra day off a month when he was looking for a pay cut two years ago.

Arnold is out to destroy the one single thing many of us signed up for: a secure retirement. After years on the line and sacrificing many days and years away from the family (you wake up one day and realize that you missed a lot), here is a flash in the pan actor that makes millions of a single movie, declare war on the working men and women -- it’s the same playbook Pete Wilson used. He has created a firestorm that will surely make the public relation firms lots of money. He is going to spend $80 million tax payer dollars to take on the public employees in a special election. Boy would that solve some financial issues in CDF!

Supervisors under the Arnold administration are treated like sh*t to put it bluntly. Because they do not have collective bargaining rights, they must meet and beg for scraps. They make less money than the people they supervise. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the problem with this. Many are sure to leave shortly now that the governor this week has shut the door on them once and for all.

So, in some ways he has been good (if you want your 20 year old piece of sh*t fire engine replaced), but in many others, he represents a clear threat to the gains achieved fair and square though the collective bargaining process by men and women of CDF. We will see who wins shortly.

“A CDF Public Employee”

6/12 From Firescribe:

Here's the result of a google search on Schwarzenegger "special election" fire
for those who'd like more info.

6/12 For those of us that are NON-Californians and who couldn't make sense of the incoherent ramblings contained in the CPF news release, what are the ISSUES?

6/12 i'm with steve m on watchin the grass grow (and dry out too!) i'm with arnold,if you cant get the politicians to do the right thing or anything for that matter,let the people decide.the sad part is that the politicos will probably find some judge to say the people who voted dont know sh#$ and therefore the whole thing will be in vain. my dad always told me the fattest hogs were the hardest to get away from the trough and if you did, boy did they make a racket.arnold,good luck trying to get the hogs away from our trough!!!i know before davis was ousted he fattened-em up real good


6/11 I sent in the CPF breaking announcement hoping it would start a dialog on issues
and implications for fire. I didn't provide the rest of my post then because I found
myself in the middle of a family crisis that demanded my attention.

If at all possible I will be in Sacramento to stand in support of CDF and
against a special election that will cost CA taxpayers an unnecessary $80,000,000.
If we must, let's put the Arnie's question on the ballot during a regularly scheduled
election next fall and save the money. In the mean time, let's educate people. It's
clear that there hasn't been a discussion of IMPLICATIONS.

JWatt, SoCal CDF or any of the other CDFers who write in here, would
you please let us know the real life safety effects of cutting CDF funding --
on staffing, on the number of firefighters per engine, on retention, or anything
else that relates to firefighter and Public safety. I have heard that Arnold's plan
removes PSOB from the equation. What else?

Educate us, please.


6/11 From Firescribe:

Anchorage Daily News:
Fire managers worry the West could dry out all at once

Sierra Star
Fire season now in effect

6/11 For the CDF firefighters and their supporters out there:


June 10, 2005


Protest Arnold in Sacramento at the State Capitol - MONDAY, June 13, 2005

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to call for an unnecessary $ 80 million dollar statewide special election via satellite from the State Capitol this Monday, June 13, 2005.

Arnold and his allies want to use this costly election as a means to strip you of your political voice and then come back next year to steal your retirement. But California’s firefighters are rising up to oppose his shameless attack with a simple message:

No Special Election for the Special Interests!

Want to let Governor Schwarzenegger know what you think of his scheme? Then we need you to join other firefighters, nurses, teachers, law enforcement and other public servants in protesting Arnold on Monday.


WHAT: Governor Announces Fall 2005 Special Election
WHEN: Monday, June 13, 2005, 4 p.m.
WHERE: Meet at the corner of 10th & L Streets, Downtown Sacramento
ATTIRE: Union T (no uniforms or dept. T)
ON-SITE CONTACT: CPF Staff – 916.921.9111

CPF Staff will have protest signs on hand…

If you plan on making your own signs – here are recommended messages:

No Special Election for the Special Interests
Keep Your Promise to Firefighter Families

If you're a non-union CDF supporter and have one, wear our tie-dye flames t-shirt. Ab.

6/11 There are two additional ads in the Heavy Equipment section of the Classifieds page this morning. One Type 5 wildland engine at a very low price and one Type 6 wildland engine pump unit.

See 'em both here: Classifieds


6/11 Dave,

A lot of people note that the Dude Fire fatalities occurred while protecting a subdivision but I don't think that had much to do with it nor do I think Dude was similar to Cedar or Oakland Hills. On Dude the fire was backing down hill against the wind from 0800 to 1419 and only moved about a hundred yards in those 6 hours. The burnout had been successful the entire length of the dozer line from north of the subdivision all the way to the NW corner of the subdivision with the fire still well north of the line. The downburst at 1419 (deployment reported at 1423) pushed the fire over a mile in 30-40 minutes in all directions and crossing canyons with little regard for slope (or indeed, structures). See attached map (pdf file) showing fire perimeter and acreage at these times. The involved crews were just improving line and burning it out as the fire was still a long way from the structures. Structural firefighters were not significantly involved. Microbursts or downbursts remain a deadly unpredictable force.

Old Sawyer.

6/11 Dave,

I appreciate your comments. I have to disagree that folks have a “save the structures” attitude in my area or that wildland urban interface firefighting is anymore dangerous than fighting fire in a wilderness.

Fire behavior is fire behavior. I don’t know of anyone who has been killed (except for electrocution and drowning) from a hazard only found in the WUI. I do know of people who have been killed by limited knowledge and observance of fire behavior near or in an interface area, the same fire behavior that occurs everywhere regardless if there is the “home” fuel type nearby.

If we keep concentrating on the “dangers of the WUI” we are not addressing the root causes of fire fatalities: human factors and fire behavior.

6/11 Dave,

I just read your remarks. I do not know if you have heard or not, but there is now
a #14 fuel type. Structures. Just a couple of weeks ago I took both S-230 and S-231.

Life and property.

Well, our lives are not worth someone elses property.


Bottom line for me, my life isn't worth my own property. Ab.

6/10 From Firescribe:

U.S. Forest Service, UC Davis Partner on Air Safety

A key tool in that training will be a new simulator developed by the Forest Service at McClellan Park that recreates real-life cockpit conditions in wildland firefighting operations. Six stations create a mix of air tankers, lead planes, air attack planes and helicopters that have to work together on a computer-generated fire scenario. The students have to find and fight fires, watch their altitude and drop their retardant in the right places, while communicating effectively with each other and their commanders.

6/10 Dumbing down... can't say much about that when there's a NPS former LEO now FMO without quals who is passing himself to structure F/F in the North SF Bay area as "Fire Chief" working for the NPS! Talk about dumbing down. Somebody gets killed and there's gonna be hell-to-pay on that one. The feds who should get him out aren't. WHY?


If you send specific information, we can forward it higher up. By 2006 all must meet the new IQCS standards. Will that help? Ab.

6/10 opinion-

The Oakland Hills fire was an anomalous wind and fuel situation that was
complicated by the 'save the structures' attitude that pervades in the
fire environment, and that basically structure and/or city fftrs were
tackling a monster wildland fire. I'm pretty sure that the same 'save
the structures' attitude contributed to fatalities on the Dude Fire and
the Cedar Fire and maybe others. Structures are just a large diameter
fuel to a fire like that one. Also, there were very few r5 fs resources
on the Oakland fire, if any.

The federal wildland agencies don't insist that oes & cdf follow nwcg
guidelines for training or ojt.

Go figure. OJT, we don't need no stinking ojt.

Personally I think that the firefighters and managers that are coming up
through the ranks are as good as anywhere or anytime. Strong,
intelligent, hard working personal that I would take on any fire

Retired or retiring people have a way of thinking that 'it is all goin'
to go to heck without me.' Do what you can to pass on your knowledge of
fire behavior! Paul Gleason always told people to know your fire
behavior, I would like to second that.

6/10 Training of local agency firefirefighters - In response to iver.
Disclaimer: I am speaking from my own experience so don't take this as gospel.

The small department I was a volunteer with had 3 to 6 members out of 30 that were working or had worked as CDF seasonal firefighters and each had between 2 and 6 seasons of experience or more. There are many departments in the county that I live in that have CDF employees or ex-CDF or ex-USFS employees working for them. Also many of the departments in the area have folks that have lived in the woods all their lives and have many years of experience on the local fire department and have been on a number of fires both small and large. With that out of the way.

I see some of the large city fire departments having much less experience in wildland fire fighting experience due to their commitment to the city environment. But remember many of these full timers that live in small towns and serve on the local volunteer fire department and get a lot of experience with them. Then again look at the extremes of the area in which I live, you have San Francisco that is mainly urban and then across the bay is Oakland which had one of the worst urban interface fires in recent history. I do agree that sometimes you get some under experienced over zealous firefighters or supervisors who get in to deep and pay the price for their folly. The departments that I have worked with have responsibility for areas of wildland and wildland/ urban interface fires and train for it.

As for the dumbing down of the firefighters I have not seen that, the training officers I have had stress knowledge and encourage firefighters to take additional classes and advanced training in all areas of the firefighting field. I guess one of the down sides to a volunteer department is that you don't get as much training time as a full paid department. With that said that DOESN'T mean that they are bad or inept at the job, It just a fact. Some of the volunteers are well schooled at hose lays, mobile attack, and cutting hand line it's they may not be in as good of shape as a CDF or USFS crews.

It has been my experience that some of the firefighters on local departments DO NOT like wildland fires (I bet some of the guys on big departments feel the same way) some are more comfortable with a more urban setting and that's O.K. as long as the whole engine company is not of the same mind. When I was with the fire department I would rather be on a wildland fire than a structure fire, but it didn't bother to be at or in a structure or on a medical aid or what have you. What finally got my goat was the politics of the fire house. Well, that's another story.

Retired L.A.V.E.

P. S. Every fire season since I have retired I wrestle with my self about going back, because I liked fighting fire so much and I missed the people and the experience, but I do not miss the bovine fecal matter from above. Every one be safe out there and watch out of each other, SAFETY- first, last , and always.
6/10 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated.

The Tahoe National Forest has an announcement for an AFEO.

Targhee Fire is selling a W.S. Darley CAFS Interface Quick Attack/Light Rescue Unit on the Classifieds Page under Heavy Equipment. It's a factory demonstrator unit under full warranties, and available for immediate delivery. Very nice looking . . . check it out here: Classifieds


6/10 Injured Prineville Crewmember:

I am sure many of you have heard something about our recently injured

What happened: The crew was thinning juniper on the Crooked River National
Grasslands on Wednesday, June 8. At about 1445 one of our sqaudleaders who
had filled his saw approximately 5 minutes prior was cutting a small
juniper when his saw, the front of his chaps and nomex ignited. He was
able to put himself out using dirt and Stop, Drop, and Roll procedures and
upon arrival of crewmembers, the surrounding fire was extinguished. Our
EMT's were the first to the scene and rendered First Aid immediately and
transported the crewmember to Redmond St. Charles. The ER did an initial
diagnosis and decided to transport to Emanuel Burn Center in Portland. The
Crewmember stayed overnight at Emanuel and was released back home the next
day. The result of the burns was 2nd degree on the inside of his legs and
behind his knees. The wounds have to be kept clean for the next week and
the doctors expect full recovery and back with the crew within 3 weeks....

We are currently investigating the accident locally with investigation
experts and subject matter experts to identify what happened. We do know
that somehow the gas leaked out of the saw and soaked his chaps and nomex
pants. What we hope to learn by the investigation is how the gas leaked
out and what the ignition source was.

This accident had the potential to be much worse and he was very lucky that
the injuries turned out to be much less severe than originally expected.

The crew would like to thank all of you that have called and expressed
concern and offered support.

We are currently unavailable for the weekend and will be back up and ready
to go early next week....

I will send updates with more information as it becomes available......


6/10 Re: Possible manufacturers defect in the new generation fire shelter and other problems.

Safenet #6CNVYZSAFE was posted on May 23, 2005.

In the Safenet, it said "During a training drill we opened a new generation fire shelter for demonstration and practice and noticed that one of the hold down straps on the inside was missing. This was an actual shelter, not a practice shelter. I am passing this along in the event we start seeing other problems like this with other shelters. Unfortunately, I will only open 10 actual shelters. If I see other problems I will pass it along." I personally don't know anything about the new shelter since I am still using the old one.

The poster in the corrective actions section said that he or she had passed it along to GSA and MTDC.

Anyone know the specifics?

Also, two other Safenets were filed regarding the new generation fire shelter (6CPRHRSAFE and 6CQQR2SAFE). There were two responses to these Safenets (6CWTA5SFIR and 6CWT85SFIR)

So far, three Safenets forwarded to MTDC with no action or response to a potential immediate safety problem? If there has been action, please share it with the folks in the field.

Also, if the continued Racal radio and the 800 Mhz vs. VHF problems have been fixed, please let us know.

Rogue Rivers
6/10 They Said readers should step back from personal agency macho mentality and seriously consider Viewfinder's "cash cow" analogy, especially when R5 Fed & State mutual aid resources intermingle. lessons learned subsequent to Oakland Hills fire as a starting point..

Maybe things have improved in the last few years, but based on previous experiences, unless CA OES & CDF insist that city/county mutual aid engine crewmembers are better qualified before entering severe wildland fire terrain, accidental injuries and deaths will occur.

The dumming down of our nation's emergency service personnel coupled with ill prepared fools moving ever deeper into wildlands have reached nightmare proportions, now what? (not even gonnna touch on the Fed classification series that shut the door on those with years of experience and no BS degree).

me? I'll sit in my rocking chair & watch the next disastrous conflagration on TV.
Stay safe out there kids.

6/10 Viewfinder,

Actually the two crews I mentioned are not both IHC's. One is a RHC. While I agree that the IHC is a national shared resource, the district and forest have control of the availability of the crew. I am not sure what you meant by jurisdiction sharing, could you explain more?

Our fire planner (GS-9) is in the supervisor's office and we have no assigned fire ecologists.

6/9 Prineville Hotshot:

We are thinking about you,
My Hopes and Prayers go out to the Prineville Hotshot.

Seafire from Idaho

6/9 Ab, this came out this morning:

Late in the day yesterday, a member of the Prineville Hot Shots received
2nd and 3rd degree burns after a flash over from a gas can. He had been
doing project work with a chain saw on the Forest, removed the gas cap and
there was a flash ignition.

The Forest will be doing a local level investigation. We should have some
info out soon. The employee was moved to the Burn center in Portland
last night and we have an agency rep enroute to the Hospital now.

Best wishes for fast recovery.
Be SAFE all.
Tahoe Terrie

6/9 To: Lobotomy:
Re: My District:

Yes, a somewhat higher number of employees than average, but keep in mind:
  1. The 2 IHC crews are also national shared resources - once committed they can be gone all summer, elsewhere other than home unit, except for required trips back to home unit for R&R, etc.
  2. Current Agency business practices aim to:
    1. consolidate districts
    2. organize fire resources according to zones or shared jurisdictions, especially in high fire occurrence areas. These business practices allow for better local control of administration responsibilities and costs (financial management), improved cost efficiencies (by combining training, career fostering, dispatch, and response opportunities - note the number of FMO and ADFOs - all this with low overhead. (Kind of serves as a model for a full-time fire operations center.)
  3. Not sure of your location but bet there is a high component related to jurisdiction sharing and response duties.

Question though: Where are the fire planners and fire ecologists, the "science types" located?

To MS:

FMO: Duties mostly strategic and tactical; usually has duty officer responsibility.
FMS: Often includes a Research component. Can be a fire management specialist position that involves fire research and tech. transfer duty components. Position may be higher graded than most FMO positions especially if it requires a higher education level or specialized education component. -- something to look into for those firefighters who are also academic in nature and pursuing career path options.

To: Dave and vfd capt:
Re: Wildland fire fatalities statistics for state of California and in general.

Keep in mind:

  1. State of California constitutes 2 separate Geographic Areas; by default the expectation would be higher than average for other western areas.
  2. Wildland firefighter fatality statistics now include (according to FEMA database): structural firefighters working in wildlands or on wildland fires, and of course: volunteer fire departments, contractor, inmate, municipal, federal and sometimes citizen deaths. The 2003 California Fire siege is a good example of many fires couched as "wildland fires" in which the statistics would be even higher except we were very fortunate for the many lives saved.
  3. There's a common expression in the overall fire community and it goes, "All of California is an interface area with wildlands."
  4. Many of the deaths that have occurred in California were in wildland urban interface areas, now areas known for potential "mega-fire" events.

Given that overall LODD deaths encompass percentages that break down LODD deaths into categories, keep in mind that a) medical (heart attacks) and b) transportation (planes, helicopters, engines, volunteer vehicles, crew rigs, buggies, etc) contribute a significant percentage - estimated to be 50-60% total leading cause of all firefighting LODD deaths. When you break down the actual cause of death you'll find that burnovers, falling snags, falls, - these fireline fatalities are fairly low when measured across a parameter such as person hours worked. Which brings up another few thoughts to consider:

  1. To answer the question of why fatalities are not kept by agency - this was a NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group) decision going back several decades to address annual wildland firefighter LODD's as: federal, state, cooperator, private (contract.) It is important to understand past practices.
  2. Statistic keeping has diverged in the last few years. Federal statistics should soon be recorded as to what agency the person worked for - however the fire they died on will also be noted - which may be on a different entity's jurisdiction.
  3. There was also a political push in the last few years for FEMA - keepers of the structural firefighting database to start including wildland firefighter statistics - which they do now. However, there is an absence of important parameters that are missing and skew the true meaning of the statistics. Lumping wildland firefighters into the structural LODD category does not account the rate of Wildland FF deaths per hours worked (which is by far lower than the rate of LODDs only attributable to incidents. This may seem of little matter, but in terms of Congress funding firefighter safety programs, when "wildland" was incorporated into the FEMA (structurally-focused) database - it helped provide political clout (and subsequent high dollar funding) to FEMA for "wildland" firefighter safety programs.

In may circles, this factor - when combined with looking at the letter LOBOTOMY sent in 6/7 www.govexec.com about abolishing the federal General Schedule wage system (and job classification overhaul) - may be in direct effect of "will there be a "wildland firefighter" series? Or will the money go to FEMA to continue the evolution of a one-responder organization?

I guess there are some things wildland firefighters will always be good at - responding, working hard, pride and camaraderie. But it helps to keep a 30,000 foot view of the other items, like looking at the cash cows now roaming in the wildland range. The changes are upon us, and in many areas the handwriting is on the wall - it just looks like Sanskrit now - but it will be de-coded. Just pay attention to the outside forces. Some are good, some are not bad. Some are way ahead of the general population and are managing the systems from not only a high altitude, but with a sense for being in the year 2025. And that's looking ahead - but it may not be looking forward.

That's my view.


6/9 Jake

I agree with your last statement of spending money
The land management agencies are great at addressing OSL issues on old iron
B747 and DC-10 are old iron, too and the case for large airtanker maneuverability come very well into question and the DC-10 and B747 may do well in delivering large amounts of water and retardant but I’ve seen better when it comes to prop driven acft

While I agree that testing aircraft is a good idea to replace the SOME of the LAT fleet
You can’t even get a good E model C130 or a J model to dream about because of the USAF concerns on the same issues with H&P ‘s fleet and that has been addressed in Aviation Week and Space Technology last week or 2 weeks ago
So what do the USFS and USDOI got for answers other than B747 DC-10 IL-76??

Canada is still running Martin Mars on occasion and that is prop driven

There are plenty of turbo props out there or other piston that can be retrofitted

I think to be fair, the LAT industry has been pretty well beat up over the last years contract issues and they deserve a whole lot better and the Agencies have spent and wasted just as much dinero over even less than what is going overseas

I’ll keep in touch

6/9 Curious in SoCal,

Ab is right that firefighters in AK wear nomex (at least they were by 1996) and are
trained to use and carry shelters. But there's that dang shortage of mineral soil in AK;
on a tundra fire there's rarely any place to deploy that isn't on top of tundra, which is

Sunil R
6/9 Re HR408

Ok, at some point I'm going to stop laughing...

Ab, I want to thank you again for allowing my post for soliciting names. It has been absolutely overwhelming. Municipal and state firefighters, mothers, dads etc., from all over the country.

It'll be faxed today although I did speak with the lead staffer at the subcommittee yesterday who acknowledged that agency responses to reform measures like 408, are often a bunch of mumble jumble, distorted information. He further went on to say the subcommittee chairman is interested in the issue and holding hearings... Just a matter of scheduling. Additionally, I've been promised by a few high ranking republicans in the leadership to "nudge" the subcommittee chair about hearings.

I guess I can't be too surprised about the 120 pages thing. I had one FWFSA member e-mail me yesterday about the "portable to portable" legislation. Yikes.

Thanks again.


6/9 Hey Ab and Readers.

Please be cautious about printing "the Bill". Printed it yesterday and it's 120 pages long!
Hard to explain why I needed to stand by printer in the workroom for so long!

Sign me

haw, haw. I wonder what you printed? HR408 is only 2 or 3 pages. It was written with wildland firefighters who know how to cut to the chase. I may even have posted it earlier on theysaid. In any case, you shouldn't be printing it at work if you did... OK, I found it. I have posted it before. Here it is HR 408. Short'n'sweet. Ab.
6/9 Ab,
The information concerning the firefighters memorial is available through California Professional Firefighters. Their website is www.cpf.org
  • "Any death of a firefighter where the deceased member’s family would be eligible for a line-of-duty death benefit under the regulations of the U. S. Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program.
  • Any death of a firefighter, which has been determined to be a line-of-duty death by his or her local fire department or employer.
  • Any death of a firefighter where the member died of an injury incurred while engaged in emergency or non-emergency duties on the job or as a result of the job.
  • Other cases where a department (individual) makes a formal request to the California Fire Foundation Chairman, who will evaluate the circumstances surrounding the death of the firefighter and will make a determination based on the facts. Such cases could include the death of a firefighter where the firefighter died of an injury incurred while performing fire fighting or emergency medical duties as a “Good Samaritan” while off duty, or other similar circumstances involving the death of a firefighter."

It is the same criteria as the memorial in Colorado Springs.

Kyle Hamilton
San Rafael F.D.

Thanks Kyle and welcome. For the exact quote and more: The Memorial Wall

6/9 B Lodge,

...not sure of the exact criteria for getting a name included, however, i believe a very large portion of the fire folks on the wall died of "occupational cancer".

when the wall was dedicated, there was a handout (a really nice magazine...) that had a little "bio" on the folks who perished in 2002. if memory serves me correctly, occupational cancer was a leading cause, followed closely by vehicle accidents. anybody else out there remember reading that "memorial magazine?"

6/9 Ab,

I have been told that my district has more resources on it than most forests have for their entire program. I have also been told that our forest has more resources on it than some regions have. Can anyone validate those assumptions? I believe it is true. Any thoughts?

My District
10 - type 3 engines (70 people), 2 - hotshot crews (40 people), 2 - Water Tenders (6 people), 1 - type 2 dozer (3 people), 1 - fuels technician, 4 - fire prevention technicians, four - ADFMOs (Two suppression, one fuels, and one prevention), and one DFMO. Roughly 70% of the employees are permanent or apprentices who work year-round.

Each suppression ADFMO (Battalion Chief) supervises five type 3 engines. (5:1 ratio)
The fuels ADFMO (Battalion Chief) supervises 2 dozer operators (1 filled, 1 pending), 2 HS Superintendents , and one fuels technician (5:1 ratio)
The prevention ADFMO (Battalion Chief) supervises four FPTs (4:1 ratio)
The DFMO (Division Chief) supervises four ADFMOs (4:1 ratio)

District FMO is a GS-0462-11
District ADFMOs are GS-0462-9
HS Supt.'s are GS-0462-9
HS and Engine Captain's are GS-0462-8
Engineers, Fire Prevention Technicians, and the Fuels Technician are GS-0462-7
HS Squad Bosses and Asst. Engineers are GS-0462-6
Senior Firefighters are GS-0462-5
Apprentices are GS-0462 3-5
Temporaries are GS-0462 3-4

6/9 Can anyone tell me what is the difference between a Fire Management Officer and a Fire Management Scientist?

The situation I came across is a person I know who had the title of FMO for a BLM district in Cali now has the title of Fire Management Scientist. So what is the difference. Is this a lesser position, is he not in charge of a fire program, what?? Myself I have been in fire for 7 years and never heard of such a position.


6/9 AB, here is one for you.

How many fire departments, FMOs, ICs, Div Sups, Foresters, whatever the title are using the
href="http://www.nifc.gov/sixminutes/dsp_sixminutes.php"> 6 Minutes for Safety everyday of fire season. If they are not they should be. It is a great tool to
use this way.


There's a permanent link to this site on the Links page under Safety. Ab.

6/9 Larkin,

I am not very familiar with the DC-10 other than what has been posted here. I am somewhat informed on the 747.
You are correct that we are taking aircraft outside their engineered design envelope. P-3, P2V, BAE 146, etc have never been designed to do what they are doing. Which will put these aircraft at risk for structural issues (wing spar, and control surfaces) as time is logged on them.

However if you look at the 747 attitude during drops, it is not performing high G dives or high G climbs. Straight level flight while dropping. (www.evergreenaviation.com) Well within the engineered flight parameters. Boeing Corp. has even signed off on the project which is amazing considering what that takes. If the DC-10 follows this same flight profile I believe they will be viable and effective aircraft. As far as airspeed goes these aircraft can slow to a speed that can function in the FTA. Fire Traffic Area. I believe the DC-10 stated 146 Kts. No problem

A final note. It amazes me that the US government will spend Billions on a war overseas but will not spend 1/10th of a percent of that funding to build an airtanker designed to be an airtanker from the ground up.

6/8 From firefighterclosecalls.com..... A Nevada Division of Forestry firefighter crew supervisor died in an ATV wreck Friday afternoon. Audie Lee Cross, 44, of Carlin died from blunt force trauma after the four-wheeler he was driving flipped on top of him. Cross was working with his 12-man Carlin Conservation Camp fire crew about 10 miles south of Battle Mountain on a fence-building project, said NDF Regional Forester William Wolf. Unger said the inmate crew contacted 9-1-1. Cross is survived by his wife, Lori, and their seven children.

Sign me Keep Safe

Condolences. Thanks to others who wrote in. Ab.

6/8 AB,

It is not surprising that California has had a third of all recorded
wildland fire fatalities. CA probably has a fire load, in matters of
numbers and severity, that must equal and/or surpass most other states.
It could be argued that CA has more WUI than most other states. And CA
also probably has, between CDF and USFS R5, the two largest fire
departments in the world. It is regretful we have fire fatalities at
all, but it is very dangerous work.


Undoubtedly there are other reasons for large numbers as well: sheer size of the state, of the wildlands where fire is fought, of interface, prior to '94, more deaths of entire crews that became entrapped, perhaps better record keeping at the state and local levels, say, than by some smaller states. It's good to see that recent records also include entrapments not resulting in death. California certainly has had many fewer deaths since the Safety First program was begun by the R5 Division Chiefs/BOD (following the Loop Fire?? when?).

BLodge (CDF) asked about the fallen firefighter wall in Sac and what constituted inclusion. I'm curious about that too. Also on that NIFC list, there were lots of heart attacks and vehicle accidents; were those fire-related only (LODD) or more generally wildland firefighters who died? Tragic in either case... Ab.

6/8 B Lodge,

The NIFC website has a tally of wildland fatalities from 1910-2004, with reports available by year, state and accident type. www.nifc.gov/reports/

Of the 918 fatalities during the period, 296 were in California. No other state has had more than 40. Fire behavior must account for some of that disparity, but surely their must be some human factors and organizational culture / unsafe supervision involved.

The NIFC site doesn't have a specific breakdown of deaths by agency.

vfd cap'n

Deaths by agency/contractor by state Ab.

6/8 Does anyone know why the wildcad web site is now password protected?
It was a great source of real time information ( and a great way to get incident
numbers, dispatch times and P#'s etc...without bugging dispatchers)

Click the News link button above in the header and go from the WildWeb link there. Ab.

6/8 Have you been to the Firefighter Memorial at the State Capital, Sacramento
CA ?

I had a chance to visit recently, for the first time. It was a sobering
experience to say the least ... so many names. So many CDF names.

A handful of names were immediately recognizable as I ran my fingers down
the long columns. These few names immediately kindled memories from my
training and personal experiences throughout the years - Lauder, Spanish
Ranch, Tuolumne. But the majority of CDF names were totally unfamiliar.
And yet there are so many of them - I'd have thought I would have heard
about these fellow CDF'ers and the fatal fires killing so many of us; it's
not like I haven't been paying attention. It's been over 25 fire seasons
for me by now, and I had no idea we'd lost so many people in the line of

Since I've returned home I've begun to wonder what the specific criteria are
for getting a name inscribed on that wall. Maybe I'm misinformed? I thought
the wall was to memorialize those who perished in the line of duty? Or
maybe I just don't understand the definition of "in the line of duty".

Anybody out there know how individuals are chosen for inclusion on the wall?
Can anyone provide the details?

B Lodge
6/8 RA

Just remember these ”NEW” tankers DC-10 and B747 are subject to the same problems the PB4Y2’s and C130’s……..
They were designed for straight and level flight primarily and retrofitted

You will get a lot of arguments from the drivers and the REAL aviation professionals about these aircraft and the use of jets in a slow moving environment

If the land management think this is a cheap alternative….. Think again!!!!!!

Leo K Larkin
7 yr wildland firefighter
20 yr helo mech
A whopping 10 month DC-10 mech
6/7 What is the story with San Bernardino County Fire cheaping out and ordering
LOCAL GOVERNMENT single resource engines under Master Mutual Aid instead of
ordering the closest and "Wildland Agency" engines to a fire threatening
Joshua Tree National Park? And they got away with it. While agency CDF and
USFS engines sat nearby, LOCAL GOVERNMENT engines responded from as far away
as CORONA (100+ miles) just because they are "free forever under Master
Mutual Aid". This is a disturbing trend when $$$ concerns drive tactical


High Desert wildfire almost fully contained, fire crews say ...article... Ab.

6/7 Wish I Was 50,

Don't get too upset. Remember the OPM letter was probably written by a
GS-5 Staff Assistant who had no access to the over ten years of
documentation and Congressional record that the FWFSA has. I sent my
e-mail off to Casey Judd today!!!

Data can be manipulated, facts speak for themselves.

6/7 This article may be of interest to some in the wildland fire community.

Bush administration developing governmentwide personnel reform bill

6/7 Ab, check this new airtanker out!

Making a big splash
Passenger plane converted into air tanker passes test


6/7 To the wildland firefighting community:

I have been amazed, humbled and honored by the number of e-mails I have received in the last several days in response to my request for names to support a call for hearings on HR 408. I have heard from as far away as Minnesota.

I have amassed nearly 500 names. If you have not contacted me and are willing to lend your name to a petition in support of hearings on the bill as well as ultimate passage and implementation of its provisions, please contact me in the next few days. The petition will also serve notice on several western senators of the outpouring of support for the legislation.

Sadly, it appears that the Forest Service will be "towing the company line" and offering a similar spin on the legislation as OPM has done. Not totally unexpected, but disappointing in that we have worked hard to educate the leadership of the FS as to our intent as it relates to the underlying dynamics which have led for the need of this legislation.

Perhaps as the fire season continues to encroach on all of you, the land management agencies will show some semblance of respect for their wildland firefighters and support our efforts.

Thanks and keep them coming.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
6/7 Does anyone know why they don't have to wear Nomex clothing or use fire
shelters in Alaska? and what types of tents does the warehouse issue if I get
a sweet detail to Alaska?

Curios in SO-Cal

Alaskan firefighters wear nomex and are trained to use and carry fire shelters. (rearranging mouth) As for sleeping, I hear that between the numerous skeeters and the soggy ground, shuteye is futile with or without a tent. (tongue firmly in cheek) Ab.

6/7 Readers,

Linda Jacobs' new novel Summer of Fire is now out and available. She's advertising on our Classifieds Page and sponsoring the Books page. Those looking to buy can click on the sponsor link to purchase the book via Amazon.

Amazon.com's # 1 Reviewer, Harriet Klausner, rated this book "5 Stars". "A superb reading experience, a real page turner"

Might be a good book to take along in your red bag for those hurry-up-and-wait times this season. It's light weight, a paperback, not too expensive. I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing it myself.


6/7 Eric,

You would be better off living and working in Southern CA if you are in the FS.
Housing costs in Northern CA are just as high, but the pay scale is lower. Go
figure that one....


6/7 My first reaction to the OPM’s letter about firefighter pay was that it really sucked.

My second and more thoughtful opinion is that Dan G. Blair should metaphorically “die and burst into flames” for the stupid, inane letter he wrote without having a clue what it is like to be an overpaid federal wildland firefighter.

I wish I had the problem of “employee dissatisfaction” caused by reaching the annual premium pay cap and had to donate some hours of service. What a freaking moron! That is like saying to someone that they should not accept their winning lottery millions of dollars because rich people ain’t really happy and have a lot more problems than us poor folks.

Gee Dan, thanks for warning us about a terrible error in our thinking. What would we do without a genius like you to show us how wrong headed we are for wanting to have an equitable pay rate and correct classification for the jobs we do in the fire service.

How ‘bout you go to H-E-double toothpicks, and take the rest of your agency’s worthless overpaid dolts with you.

Good luck educating this dork Casey I hope you have more patience with him than I have.

Wish I Was 50

Readers, if you are FWFSA or not, give Casey an email or a phone call and sign up to be heard by congress. Read his post from yesterday. Ab.

6/7 I've been following a few "threads" over the past few years, and they all seem to be coming together.

First, the loss of USFS firefighters in SoCal because other agencies pay more; second, the outsourcing of Federal jobs; overhead costs that depend on the fire program to support computers, human resources, etc; and now, the extreme cost of buying homes in SoCal for Federal firefighters.

So, pulling all these threads together, is it inappropriate to ask: should we consider "outsourcing" the fire management on the National Forests in SoCal?

Since most of their overhead costs are already covered, would it be possible to have the CDF, LA County Fire, Orange County Fire, etc to provide fire services on National Forest lands on the Angeles, Cleveland, San Bernardino and Los Padres NF's at a reasonable cost to the US taxpayers?

As an "outsider" looking in, it makes better sense than moving a bunch of admin support folks to ABQ, and might resolve lots of the concerns that have been raised here. But I'm looking for other opinions.


It's not only cost of living in SoCal, but elsewhere, as well. Rumor is that the FS is going to outsource the Smokey Bear costume to India or China. Even Smokey can't afford his cave on the current retrograde fire budget. Heck, Smokey can't afford the new fire shelter. Maybe someone should tell FIRE that we now live on a flat earth. haw haw. Ab.

6/6 And There I Was

You must work for the Washington Post if you were there. Are you fishing for a reaction?

Just wondering.


6/6 Fuel for National Fire Org. and Competitive sourcing discussion.

I ran into an article in The Washington Post, dated 5/31, www.washingtonpost.com (requires registration) that hints at a A-76 Outsourcing study of Forest Service Fire.

"The Forest Service, for example, studied its technology infrastructure and the way it supports desktop computers, a review that involved 1,200 agency jobs. A restructuring to be completed in 18 months should produce savings of about $30 million in annual operating costs and will lead to a cut of 292 jobs, Pyron said.

Comparable savings will result from "business process reengineering" studies of budget, finance and personnel operations, with projections showing that 502 jobs will be lost in financial management and 458 jobs in human resources.

In addition to the 100 jobs in communications this year, the Forest Service in fiscal 2006 plans to look at 65 jobs in vehicle fleet services, 88 in computer services and database management, and about 500 in mapping and charting. For 2007-08, the agency will review 460 jobs in fire prevention and protection."

My guess is that a National Organization will be the result of the Outsourcing study. Might be similar to the re-structuring FS IRM just went thru. Also there is the push to combine BLM and FS into the Service First Organization. Might happen at the same time.

And There I Was

6/6 From Oregon Department of Forestry:
The Grants Pass Unit experienced a serious falling accident on Friday the 27th of May.

During mop-up on a prescribed burn employee, Lyndon "Butch" Thomason, was struck by the top of an oak tree and knocked unconscious. Butch was resuscitated on scene by co-workers and air lifted to Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford. He is being treated for serious internal injuries, numerous cuts, abrasions, and broken bones. Lyndon was also in the Intensive Care Unit for 2 days and is now recovering in the hospital with no immediate release date. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.

Butch has been an employee of the Grants Pass Unit since June of 1998. He is currently a Laborer 1 on our CoOp crew. The accident is being reviewed jointly by ODF, BLM (the landowner), and OR-OSHA.

This notification is released with Butch's permission.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Ab.

6/6 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated.

Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests have an outreach for a Deputy Zone FMO


6/6 A letter from acting OPM Director Dan Blair to Congressman Jon Porter, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce & Agency Organization, has recently made the rounds among Forest Service wildland firefighters and I wanted to take this opportunity to place the letter, and its commentary in proper context.

The letter, for the most part, opposes all provisions set forth in H.R. 408, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act. This is a typical, Federal Government Agency response to a bill in which their opinion is based solely on the legalese text of the legislation and void of any understanding or education on the dynamics which resulted in the legislation in the first place.

This response from OPM, and similar ones from the Forest Service and Fish & Wildlife, are nothing new to legislation calling for pay reforms. We faced the same bureaucratic rhetoric from OPM & the Department of Defense in the mid to late '90s when many were working on pay reform for federal firefighters. We faced the same opposition from OPM and the Forest Service, via the Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey, in 1999 when the FWFSA was pushing for the elimination of the overtime pay cap for federal wildland firefighters.

In the end, on both occasions, federal firefighters prevailed. Thus it is important for all federal wildland firefighters and those who support the concept of HR 408 to know, that such a letter opposing our bill from OPM does not sound a death knell for our legislation.

Quite frankly, it creates an even firmer foundation for hearings on the bill. Traditionally, an agency response on such a bill is solicited from the subcommittee via an invitation to attend a hearing on the bill. That way, all concerned parties have the opportunity to place their positions into the "congressional record." As of this writing, I do not know if the letter was solicited by the subcommittee or offered by OPM arbitrarily.

Regardless, it is important for all federal wildland firefighters to know that congress, not the agencies, pass the laws, amend existing laws etc. Opinions are a dime a dozen. The "rubber meets the road" during the hearings and throughout the lobbying process. Fortunately, we have secured proactive support from a bipartisan group of congressional members, inclusive of fiscally conservative republicans who have taken the time to be educated on the true issues leading to this legislation. It is now my job to educate the Acting Director of OPM.

While I have received commitments from some members in congress to be aggressive in calling for hearings, I think the subcommittee and the OPM Director ought to hear from all of you.

Thus I'm asking that ANYONE, FWFSA member or not, who supports pay and benefit reform for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters, to lend their name to a petition I'll be sending to the subcommittee chairman asking for hearings immediately. All you have to do is e-mail me at FWFSAlobby@aol.com and say "you can use my name." Of course including your name would be helpful!

In the past when I have asked for help from this site's readers, you have responded overwhelmingly. We need to send a clear message to the uneducated, that we intend to educate them, and the American public if necessary, on the issues facing federal wildland firefighters and will not rest until we succeed. Our federal wildland firefighters deserve nothing less and you can make a difference in your future.

I hope to hear from many of you and in the meantime, if you have any questions at all regarding the OPM response or the nutty political process in general, please feel free to e-mail me or phone me at (916) 515-1224.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
6/5 See attached file: H R 408 letter 5-20-05.doc

6/5 There are a couple of new starts listed on the Hot List forum. Ab.
6/5 Re the SAFENET process:

Sometime back there was a comment that a SAFENET had not yet been
posted on the SAFENET website, although it had just been submitted. I
asked a friend how the process works. Here's what I found out:

  • A firefighter sends in the SAFENET to the NWCG in Boise. It's
    an easy, quick way to report a safety concern.
  • It is "sanitized". That is, the NWCG representative removes names,
    forests, personal identifiers.
  • It's sent to the Regional Safety Officer where the alleged incident
  • That person studies it and adds "Supplemental Corrective Action".
  • The SAFENET is posted on the website within 2 working days of

Hope that helps.

6/5 Re housing:

Could the term "median" be misinterpreted in the California Realtors Study and the census study?

According to my knowledge of what median means, it means 50% above the median, 50% below the median.

eric, you must not work for the feds.... $50-60 thousand a year for a young firefighter is well outside their reach as temporaries, apprentices, and career conditional appointments even if they are single. Add on the responsibilities of a family and it gets even worse. Many career appointments up to the GS-9 level don't even hit that range, even in California.


6/5 What ever happened to the airtanker research being done with the
A-10 Wart Hog (Fire Hog)? They still in the sky or they never got
out of the testing stage? I have never seen any new pics other than
the initial new release about 4? yrs ago. Glad to see the heavies are
back to work.

6/5 Eric,

Not just Southern Cal my friend. Newspaper article 2-3 months ago in local paper
(Grants Pass, Oregon) had the headline "Affordable Housing" on homes starting at
$150,000 with the lot going for another $100,000. I'm not aware of many engine
captains that can afford those kind of "Affordable Housing" prices.

6/4 Damn looking at the real estate gains in SoCal I am in he wrong

How does a young firefighter making 50-60K buy a home in one of these
areas? especially if they have a family.

Glad I dont live in SoCal,
later all - be safe and have fun this season
6/4 Tahoe Terrie,

A press release from the census bureau has some good info. In the release it says,

"California led the nation with the highest median home value ($316,600), followed closely by Hawaii ($302,300), Massachusetts ($300,800) and the District of Columbia ($246,300). In contrast, some of the states with the lowest median home values were West Virginia ($78,200), North Dakota ($78,600), Mississippi ($78,700) and Arkansas ($79,902). (See state ranking table.) Since 2000, Massachusetts (50 percent), California (46 percent), the District of Columbia (44 percent), New Hampshire (41 percent) and Rhode Island (39 percent) experienced the largest increases in median housing value."

Note that the release was comparing the data from a 2003 study. Attached is the 2003 ranking table.

Here is a nationwide county by county breakdown also available from the press release.

For comparison, go to the California Realtors Association webpage and see how the numbers have changed since the 2003 figures were used. At the bottom of the page you can see the most recent figures by region. www.car.org

Note: In a little over two years, the median price in California went from $316,600 to $509,230.


Almost forgot to cite the original source: www.census.gov/PressRelease

6/4 Discussion on retention always leads to comments on differences in cost of living in different areas. Here's some info on cost of houses in soCA. Housing is a major indicator for Cost of Living. No wonder firefighters want to go home following the Academy. If there's no place they can afford to live it seems logical.

April 2005 Median Home Prices

Anyone have a site with the same kind of info for the far northern CA area?

Tahoe Terrie

6/4 Howdy AB and all, As R-6 Helitack said it,


The season has started and now it's time we hear, Gentlemen, start your Engines!!!
It's time to stop bitchin and pull together. Look after each other and do our job.
It's going to be a fast and furious season in Nor-Cal with the short and fine Flashy
fuels not so short. (twice as high as a normal yr) Keep your heads up and use
your LCES.

As the Old Fat Chief always says,
"Be safe out there gang."

See ya on the next big one.


6/4 From DSR:

Monday, June 20, 2005
7:00 pm. EDT


6/22 - 12 AM, 9 PM
6/23 - 12 PM
6/24 - 7 PM
6/25 - 1 PM
6/25 - 4 PM


  • Educating the public in the many aspects of managing wildland fire.
  • Introducing the role of fire use and other treatments in reducing the impacts of wildland fire.
  • Emphasis on the impact to human life and property.
  • Enlighten people on living with wildland fire in the wildland urban interface.
  • Programs done in partnership between the Forest Service and The Weather Channel.

I wonder if this is what the Storm Stories editor was gathering photos and videos for. Readers, keep your eyes open for photos from the Bear and French fires and for video credits from our up and coming young fire photographer and videographer - Andrew. His whole extended family works for CDF. Andrew, if you're reading and have any details, drop me an email. If they're doing some other story on Storm stories, we'd like the inside scoop. Thanks, Ab.

6/3 Yeehaw...

Small start in our area yesterday, less than 5 acres, Helitack, 3 Engine Crews, a Hand Crew and a few Co-Operators. Things went great from the get go, everybody knew their role, we jumped on and got her done. We didn't even have to break out the swiss cheese to phycho analize anyone, no finger pointing, no back biting.. not bad for a bunch of backwoods hillybilly types LMMFAO.

R6 Helitack

6/3 For those of you still looking for equipment, there is a new Type 6 Engine from Oklahoma being advertised today on the Classifieds Page: Check it out here: Classifieds
6/3 Oopsie on the bad link for the WFF in the following message this morning. Bet that religious site will be wondering for months what caused the spike in their webserver. Haw. Original Ab.
6/3 Dear Ab,

Last week we held the first Family Day for survivors of fallen wildland firefighter. We had families attend from Tennessee, Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Missouri, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, California, Colorado, and across the rest of the country. We were honored to have several families from Storm King with us. Our "Family" was gathering to share, to console, to grieve, to remember, to celebrate, to break bread together, to support each other as only family can.

When our Family started to show up, they all just jumped in and started helping. It felt like the big Family reunion it was: some were cooking, some setting up tables, others making salads, some filling cooler, all the while getting to know each other. One of the Family explained, "We don't want this to be about, doing for us, we want this to be about us doing for each other." What an inspiration the families are for us and for each other!

The day started with the Forest Service Honor Guard presenting the colors. As they posted the flags, I saw one of their hands shaking. I thought to myself, he was not nervous or scared, he was filled with compassion and honor. I have to say when the Honor Guard showed up the night before, they helped so much with all their experience. They brought with them a special spirit, and a great deal of help for us.

We had a short program, then a barbecue. Some of the Family brought lots of food dishes. We could have fed a fire camp with all the good food that was there. I noticed that Family members began to talk about their experiences with each other, and the bonding was happening.

After lunch the Family was lead by the Honor Guard with the bag pipes playing - across to NIFC - where a flock of doves were released and Family members sent white balloons into the air with message to their loved ones. They went on to the Wildland Firefighter Monument and laid flowers on the marker. This was the first visit for many of the families to this Monument.

The Boise Smoke Jumpers took most of the Family on a tour through the smoke jumper loft. Many thanks to them and Garden Valley Helitack. Thanks to the Boise Forest Service, Guy Pence, and the Salmon National Forest, also to the NIFC Directors and staff and to Rick Dice for the use of his van to transport Family members.

Smoky Bear came for the little kids and gave bears and other treats to them. They created t-shirts about their Dads. I have to tell you what it was like to get to spend some time with these little kids. You could see the pain in their little faces as they would talk about their dads. I believe some them got adopted by other grandmas who were there. Two of them were born shortly after their fathers died. Some of us got to hold them. I believe they touch all of us.

Many of the the families returned to the foundation to nibble and help clean up. Many were taken by the Hotshot t-shirt collection on the walls.

What an inspiration the families are for us and for each other. We are made stronger and enriched by the connections, the sharing, the support and humanity.

Let me again say we owe a debt of gratitude to the many fire folks who volunteered their time and efforts. We also owe a special Thank You to those of you who support this foundation. This is truly a wildland fire community taking care of its own.

Most of all the appreciation and love to the families of our fallen who are truly part of our larger wildland fire Family.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Good work. Ab.

6/3 Correction...

I read through what I wrote yesterday (see below) again last night and had to just say I do feel like I misstated the statement "I hope like hell people on this board are somewhat more flexible out fighting fire"... I just meant a few of the folks on the board and not everyone.

Gizmo, when I have the patience to sit and re-read my diatribe on the national fire service stuff, I'll review it and send it in sometime. Don't hold your breath though! I have a tendency, as probably many do, to only write frustrating stuff into this board, and that's another long, depressing article.

For some positive notes, I meant very much what I said about folks in that mess in so cal in 03 needing some congrats. That whole event was a safety nightmare and while there is MUCH room for improvement, on the very basic levels people worked together extremely well for the situation that unfolded... thanks to training, interagency work, and integrated fire environment in s. ca, etc etc.

Also after thinking some more last night, I guess what I feel like is that those fires were an enormous event, a real disaster, a real challenge. Real chaos, a system strained to the max, etc etc. I very much remember the spirit of the event, having been there, and I guess I feel like the shock about it is fading from the fire world, or maybe it was never really felt outside the local area. I guess I feel a bit like I do as more time passes since 9/11.... like it seems less real and less imperative that we do something to be ready next time the more time passes since the event. But, unlike 9/11, unlike Storm King, Thirtymile, Cramer, etc., I don't see the impetus to change on a national scale in response to the southern California fires of '03. I guess that's what concerns me the most... even after writing the long bit yesterday.

Stay safe out there, and for heaven's sake enjoy yourselves (for those of us who can't be in the field anymore!!)-

-outside in
6/2 While yer sitting at the computer waiting for the "big one" to hit, we'd be pleased if you'd stop by our online store and see what's new. Products and items are being added daily, with much more coming. When you get there, I think the theme will be obvious, if it's hot or has flames, it's a candidate for the store. Please let us know of other hot items you're aware of that may be of interest to other firefighters. Here's the doorway (also available from the top navigation bar): https://shop.wildlandfire.com/ Drop us a line and let us know what you think. Original Ab.
6/2 Still out there,

I have no hesitancy recommending potential fire fighters to a number of the contractors providing hand crews in the Northwest. In reality if the agencies were hiring at the level necessary to put together numerous type 2 hand crews... we would be hiring from the same pool of people as the contractors are hiring from.

There are good contract crews and not so good contract crews...the same as there are good agency crews and not so good agency crews. I've been in the biz for 33 years as an agency employee. During my career I have seen and experienced all three sides of every issue with the fire fighting work force regardless of employer. On past fire assignments I've had shot crews that had the leadership, work ethic and experience you would expect of this type of resource. They worked hard, knew their job and contributed greatly to the fire effort. On the other hand I've had fires with shot crews assigned that lacked good leadership, were short on experience and thus made my job as a DIVS resemble that of a day care worker herding around 6 year olds on a field trip before I could have them reassigned to the backside of the fire.
I've also had my share of working with not so good contract crews. Lack of leadership and experience, along with the hiring process, all contributed to the contract crews inability to perform at levels I expected from this resource.

If I had a stretch of difficult... direct line... that needed to be constructed I would use shot crews first. However I can also name several contractor's crews I would assign (and have in the past) to the same task. Either way my expectation is both type of crews would have to prove they are able to do the job if they want to stay on one of my fires.


I agree with Oliver. And CJ, Chris, Sign Me, and AXE. . .this agency vs contract horse has been ridden to death and kicked many times afterwards on this forum. I doubt there is anything left to be said that hasn't been. It's all in the Archives for those who weren't here when it's been discussed, or for those who just can't get enough of it. I'm thinking the lack of fire activity is beginning to wear on folks a bit. Original Ab.

6/2 Well to start, now I feel like I need to be on the defensive and explain myself a little more. I never said they went home and sat on there can. I never compared a contract Crew to a shot Crew. I was more interested in the cost comparison of crews and was wondering about the cost of a IHC. I myself worked on the government side of fire for 6 yrs. and on the private side for 5.I have seen both sides of the industry. Yes there are crappy contract crews out there, but there are great ones also. If they are not a good Crew why is it not being documented and have them released? It is up to everyone to see that these crews are weeded out. Safety is uncomprimisable, and having bad crews on a fire is an safety issue. Document it and work on getting them released. If you do not then they will keep showing up. So instead of complaining about it. Do something about it. I hate working with these crews just as much as you do.
My Crew has never had an issue with performance, knowledge, or self sufficiency. My assistant and squad bosses have anywhere from 13 to 6 yrs of experience with the feds, state crews and contractors. I have certified EMTs, helitack, STL, ICT4s, 5s, and fallers on my Crew. The Crew can and has been broke into 4-5 squads for I.A. As far as being mobile. We keep our folks on a short leash and most I.A., on our district, we get there before the fed or state crews do. We also do thinning and prescribe fire during and after fire season. We also work with FEMA with natural disasters ( example, Florida ) and the space shuttle recovery. As far as versatility goes, we have built fence, buildings, sheeted roofs, and done trail maint., for the Park Service, back East all winter for the Hurricane disaster. Our crews also go back East 2 times a year for there fire season and prescribe fire. The Crew does voluntarily P.T. during fire season and mock exercises along with training.S ome of our Crew have been assigned to a district for the summer, doing misc. work and I.A.
I didn't write in to get everybody's ******* in a wad. I was just curious about costs and to maybe see if I could open some peoples eyes. Not all contract crews are the same. As far as cost goes. You would be getting, I feel and anyone I have worked with will tell you, more bang for the buck with some of these contract crews. Don't put everyone in the same pot and I will try to do the same.

6/2 Sign Me
I agree Type 1 Hot Shots are a great asset and generally kick ass,
but there were more contract crews dispatched to hurricane support,
shuttle recovery and chicken choking than agency crews. So they are
pretty versatile as well. Contract crews are also a "national
resource" The current language of the R5 and National Handcrew
contract both list FEMA mobilization as a possibility. In fact with
off season assignments, more contract crews have been utilized as
they are still assembled doing fuels work, stuffing trees into the
ground, BD, commercial thinning, and so on.

The 25K a year is not the true cost of supporting a crewman for the
year on an agency crew. It is much higher once you factor in the
support below. (one rule of thumb in the private sector - Wages equal
35-40% of the cost of operations in wildland fire)What does an agency
crewman make in fire season?

Contract crews on the low end charge 26.24 an hour, and 38.00 for the
high end. I am sure that there are some flyers out there outside
this range (but this is the average I came up with with the available
lists), so a 40 hour week costs (40x20x26.24) and (40x20x38.00) =
$20,992.00 to $30,400.00 a week respectively. that would be all of
the costs, minus food on a fire charged by the contract crew. The
federal crew would charge much less an hour in wages, but then there
is support, and it adds up we all know this.

Some costs not as easy to factor in for an agency crew - crew
buggies, (100K each) PPE, training, saws, fuel, food, perdiem,
overhead, shop floor space, stores, retirements, medical, claims,
maintenance and so forth. I know that this adds up to more than a
contract crew.

There are 351 crews on R6 agreement in WA and OR. and 50 or so on
national contract. This represents a work force of 8020 personnel
that fight fire as well. Are there some screwballs in this group?
Yes I am sure of it. are there screwballs in any group of 8020 -

I am not trying to start a pissing match but just looking at the
numbers. - No one is trying to take T1 crews out of the fray and
replace them with contractors. And I don't recall them being put down
here. Just pointed out the fact that they are an excellent resource
- a pricy one but necessary. EH
6/2 Come on people. What is the big fuss about contractors vs. regular (dirt) fire fighters?
I thought the main objective in all fires was to PUT the fire out,not tear into each other with petty attitudes.
Yes,I know the nicknames (if you can call them that) that are used to discribe engine crews, hot shots and others and I think they are uncalled for. Yes, there are ppp crews out there,but there are also great crews too.
We should all work together to get the objective done.
6/2 I generally have to agree with Hutch and Helitack re: contract crews. I've long had the sense that the companies running the crews are always trying to get by on the cheap. That looks good to the federal bean counters but hasn't meant much for consistently getting good line cut or preserving lives. Even though it should be easier to get on with the contract crews, my advice to wanna-be-firefighters has been to avoid them. On the other hand, hotshot crews often seem to add up to more than their individual parts, especially the ones that have long histories.

Still Out There as an AD
6/2 -outside in,

There must have been a nugget in the info you wanted to share regarding a
national fire service organization and how it would make things safer.

You said that you had a paper titled "Potential/Options For A National Fire
Service And/Or Future Of Wildland Fire Discussion"

I would like to hear more as it relates to safety and accountability.....

6/2 As for the re name of Redding IHC, I vote for Adlebertos hot shots, when
the belt buckle goes up for sale on the web it could have a big burrito on it.

Then they would no longer be known as the pickles.......The Burrrrrrrros!


They're not moving. Ab.

6/2 Eric and CJ,

Lets look at what the 25K/ person goes towards: 40 HRS per week base pay, minimal admin support (we do most of our own admin/ records keeping), vehicles, fuel, shop/office space, training, PPE, and the other costs of the permanent employees. This does not give anything other than a 40 hr work week.

During these non-fire weeks, we are out doing fuels projects, cutting brush, prepping units, laying out units, etc. We dont just sit at the station and wait for calls and sleep like some say. Also when we are at home and doing project work, we are ready for initial attack. We are able to be mobile, and going to the fire as soon as the call comes out. How quick can a contract crew be on an initial attack fire? (Our hand crews have to be moving in 5 to 10 minutes for IA fires) In the event that we are not at work and get called when we are on days off, we are required to be on the road within 2 hours of the supt. getting called. so there are sacrifices that we make and reasons for our 40 hr/ week paychecks.

How much does 40 hrs/ week cost for a contract crew? I would like to know this. Also, what else does your crew do other than fire and fuels projects? Did you know that a Type 1 IHC is not only a fire resource? They are able to be mobilized to do just about anything from disaster assistance to things like shuttle recovery. It seems to me that the contract crews are not as versatile.

Now those of you employed or owning contract crew, dont get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for what you do and the effort you folks put in. Also, these posts raise some questions and a desire for more info. I want to know whether or not contracting is more or less expensive than our regular employee staffed crews. Thanks for the reason to know whats going on.

Sign me: Sign me
6/2 Cost of crews --

I have a little experience with the cost of IHCs, but
it was some time ago. In my experience, the budget
was just a little over $400,000 for the crew, BUT
(here's the neat part), that did not include
suppression work. Any work done on a fire got charged
back to the fire (different charge code). And this
changed every couple of years; some years base 8's
were charged to the fire, some years they were charged
back to the district.

So, from a government accounting stand point of
actual time on fire (lets call this actual time
suppression a fire), contract crews cost more on a
fire. But the actual fire accounting (again, this is
time on a fire) do not account for the overhead cost
of the government provided crews while not on a fire;
since that cost accounting is handled by the
district, or whatever agency sponsors the crew.

6/1 Well, I have tried to resist getting into this most recent fray. I will have you all know that I wrote quite the diatribe on the “Potential/Options For A National Fire Service And/Or Future Of Wildland Fire Discussion” (5 pages), but was depressed for three days after writing it and opted to save you all the same trauma, so consider yourselves lucky.

On the subject of the 2003 fire situation in southern California I will say this, and I swear to you I will keep it short (for me anyway):

This is the largest wildland fire disaster ever experienced in modern times. 16,000 firefighters were MOBILIZED in addition to the other folks who responded locally, through Red Cross, non-fire channels, etc. in FIVE DAYS.

ICs and others have stated that it was flat out impossible to meet the safety and other guidance developed to protect firefighters and others in wildland fire situations. This includes post Thirtymile mitigation stuff, the 10/18, checking everyone’s quals as they get to incidents, etc. These incidents were hit-the-ground running situations where everyone did everything they could do save lives and property. Communications sucked. Situation intelligence was hard to come by. Chaos ruled, especially during initial attack. 23 other fatalities have been attributed to these fires in addition to the tragedy surrounding the events leading to Steve Rucker’s death. The fact that there have been at least 8 major investigations into the situation in addition to what will eventually become a multitude of smaller scale after action reports says loads.

The situation(s) that lead lead to Steve Rucker’s death and those deaths of non-firefighters can be debated eternally.

However, I think we need to have some perspective. This is unprecedented fire. Unprecedented conditions. Unprecedented cooperation. Unprecedented mobilization, speed, potential, threats. Et cetera. The miracle to me is we didn’t lose more folks, including firefighters.

With the high volume of independent actions, running tactical work, public concern, intense, widespread urban interface, high speed, and constantly changing environments and so on I think that the work the firefighters, dispatchers, law enforcement, and everyone responding did was highly commendable. I am not saying that these fatalities are the fault of no one. I am saying that a lot of the discussion I’ve seen here just recently in relation to this issue is the same stuff we always hear in fatality reviews (in addition to getting into the weeds on some of this discussion on sheltering which is good too) and a lot of it is band-aid work on larger problems.

These fires point out the fire world has changed. In threat level, volume, scale, intensity, speed, complexity, communications, technology. In reaction to these fires, large scale changes need to be made. Some work is being done in this regard, but it doesn’t appear to be happening very quickly. In some cases, after these fires, agencies turned to each other and started pointing fingers, shifting blame or vying for funding. In the early 70s in southern California, agencies turned to each other and built the Incident Command System, the model for the National Incident Management System now mandated in the US.

These fires represent the largest scale application to date, EVER, of ICS. Did it work? Mostly. Could it have worked better? Yes. Was the safest, most efficient approach used consistently throughout this fire disaster to manage the chaos and protect public and firefighter safety? No.

I think the real question here is how to answer that last question. Could we be less aggressive in saving structures? Absolutely, in theory. Did many of the firefighters have personal connections to the property they were trying to save? Was the human tendency to go all out, to do everything possible to do the best work in the worst case scenario what caused many of our safety risks? When you see destruction everywhere, would you do everything you could do prevent even a little more of it? Do we always always stick to our incident objectives?

These questions are in addition to the bigger ones having to do with cross-training, communications, and access to decent intelligence to do a better job. The situation with Steve Rucker was one of many other entrapment and also near-miss situations that occurred during this entire event that have not been officially reported or documented anywhere, as some folks put it to me, the situations were just too absurd and too common. We can nitpick this one little tiny piece of this disaster all we want but my impression is that similar and worse (but luckier) scenarios unfolded all over this fire disaster event. I am not making this up, I am saying out loud (through the anonymous silence of ether) what I have heard from lots and lots of folks who were out there.

I myself was intimately involved with these fires and my life has changed forever because of it. One reason I love the spirit of this board and have been a part of this online community for eight years is because this place can be about positive change. But for God’s sake, this nitpicking, finger-pointing, blame-shifting, armchair-quarterbacking attitude crap makes me absolutely sick to my stomach sometimes, especially in reference to this 2003 CA fire situation… the first set of fatality fires I’ve ever personally been involved with. I was upset all evening last night after reading some of this discussion. Last week I was just as frustrated after reading Colin Wilson’s Notes from the Cedar Fire (posted 5/25) because I know damn well it’s one of probably 15,000 stories that are very similar… stories of chaos, overextension, clear fatigue, over-commitment, poor communications, troublesome coordination, and all while facing a fire monster we were in many cases powerless to fight but tried anyway (plus, I know we had resources staged for days on the Cedar… why did some work constantly, while others sat constantly? The questions about these situations are endless…). We as firefighters are supposed to stick together, to be proactive, to move forward, to protect each other. I hope like hell people on this board are somewhat more flexible out fighting fire, or the next terrorist attack, because the world isn’t always all neat and organized where the situation allows you to follow exact policy doctrine and get the perfectly trained folks where you need them exactly when you do. I guess that’s why I like the spirit of the Commander’s Intent work. It’s also part of why we have problems… and why our after-actions are problematic as well. Thirtymile after-actions prescribed requirements that simply are not possible in the real world. We’re setting ourselves up for failure when we don’t admit that we MANAGE EMERGENCIES, which don’t always follow protocol. There were issues at play in these fatality situations well out of the control of the folks on the ground who suffered the consequences, whether it be injury or followup finger pointing. These fires were huge and the decisions made at many many many many levels from Day 1, Fire 1 on October 21 affected the situations folks were put in and had to make decisions about how to act in throughout the disaster. Plus, trouble with communications and other problems added a complex framework to put all of that context into.

Okay, this was not short. I incorrectly judged my ability to make a simple point, because nothing in relation to this disaster is simple. That’s why it was called a disaster. Ab, thanks again for this forum and the opportunity for providing those of us with something controversial to say a safe forum to say it in. You know as well as I do that many lives, careers, and people have changed as a result of these fires… some in good ways and also some not so much, and I appreciate the “freedom of speech” this forum allows.

Be safe-

-outside in
6/1 I like Todd's idea of making his own map to study the fatality on the Cedar Fire.

Has anyone packed down some sand on their sand table and worked this out like
Todd has? (This could be your chance to tell your supervisor to "go pound sand"
and get away with it. <grin>)

Enjoying the new and improved S-271 (in the rain),

6/1 Retired L.A.V.E,

CDF is awesome at sharing what they can. It's good that they spend the $$
to take care of their own needs. I believe the dataset is AirPhotoUSA which
covers most of California. Unfortunately not all of us in other agencies
have the $$ or reason to buy that licensed product. I believe it was bought
by the CA Fire Plan project and is given to the PFEs in each unit (some PFE
out there has to read this board and can let us know)...

But all the state, local, and federal agencies are participating in the 1m
resolution data for Spring 2006 and we can share it far and wide. So we are
working towards a good enterprise solution.

GIS people like to share- but data is $$$,
6/1 From Downunder


nicking over quickly to see my Dad in Ft Collins CO for a week in the middle of
June. Interested in some guidance on some interesting wildfire places to visit.
Understand Storm King is in reasonable travel - any other suggestions?


6/1 CJ your comments about contract vs paid fed crews leave alot to be desired.

IF you make the assumption that cost/price is the only decision then perhaps you may have a valid issue. However I will disagree with you as to the abilities of contract crews vs Fed type I crews. I have seen alot of both on lots of fires over the years and have NEVER seen a contract crew that can "out perform" any type I crew. They do not have the skills, leadership, stability, equipment, self-sufficiency, production rates, physical conditioning, or collective fire knowledge that type I crews have. Certainly the costs of a contract crew are lower per crew and employee due to generally lower wages, and lack of benefits or career ladder for the dirtthrowers on the crew. Perhaps your crew leaders have a better pay and benefits package, those things translate into unit costs. Some of the other things that you missed is that the type I crew does not go home and sit on their can when they are not on fires. I had two crews on my last unit and they are always doing fire and fuels projects as well as a myriad of other work on their home unit when not on fire. Also you think that its less expensive to keep a contract crew on a fire and send the type I crew home. Well hate to tell ya this keeping the contract is not cost effective as it costs additional $$ when the type I crew is already budgeted, not only the crew cost but the support costs. As an IC and District FMO, I always preferred to leave agency resources on fires as they were self sufficient, skilled and already budgeted. You must look at the macro instead of the micro economics when pursuing this discussion. I realize that as a contractor you're trying to make a buck and treat your folks right but you're really comparing different varieties of apples and they are not the same. Each has its place in the fire world but they are not interchangeable simply based on the dollar.


6/1 CJ,

If you broke it all down over the last ten years or so I think you would find that contract crews haven't out performed government crews in fireline performance, they have although been relieved of duty for poor perfomance more than government crews ie: the 2 <snip> crews taken off the fireline at the cramer fire for ppp (piss poor performance).

R4 Helitack Guy
6/1 Eric,
You hit the nail on the head. This is what I was asking. Overhead teams complain about the cost of contract crews. So what I want to know is..... has anyone done a cost chart for the things you mentioned for Gov. crews and if that overall cost was broke down into a bid, like the contractors. How comparable would it be to the Contractors bidding wage? Just curious that if most folks realize it is sensationally cheaper. Now I just wish the teams realized this and took into account a contract crews performance and production instead of cost. I have been released from incidents because of cost. When I know my Crew outperformed quite a few, if not most, crews on the incident. Why is this? Because we only get paid when we are on incidents. We do not get to go home and receive a 40 hr Gov. paycheck for the week. Which means my Crew has to out perform most crews on the incident to stay on it and receive a paycheck. Think about this for awhile.

6/1 SRJS,
Does the study you cite take into account, vehicles, shop space, overhead admin,
training, PPE, fuel, food, housing, claims, retirements, benefits, etc.?
was just wondering, a budget of 500K on a 20 person crew is only 25K a person
per season. Seems low for a federal crew to do all of the above mentioned items.

6/1 I saw the new law that mandates 100 foot clearance for California residents. While this is all well and good, what about us poor saps that don't own enough property to get the 100 foot clearance. I am lucky that the lots that surround me are not occupied and I have pretty much had my way to get 30 to 40 feet of safety zone, but 100 feet, WOW. I live in a forested area that is definitely WUI, I do my best to keep things cleaned up as well as I can but some neighbors don't. (FYI) I hope the local fire department and CDF get out there and write some citations.

On to other subjects I work for a small town in the engineering department, I share all of my aerial photos, GIS, etc. info with the Fire Department and the local CDF Battalion Chief, he was my Captain when I was in CDF. I was not aware of the information that CDF has. It would seem that since they use our tax dollars to protect us and that the other assisting agencies also protect us shouldn't they have access to the data also. You know a for the good of the order kind of thing. There maybe some glitches and problems due to differing software and formats and such but to say the information is proprietary, well it's wrong and down right criminal at times. Typically CDF works with the local fire departments, at least around here, they train with them, work on incidents together, and share command structure at times. Why not then share information, maps, and photos or does that make TO MUCH SENSE! I get tired of the little minded kings protecting their kingdom at the expense of others.

Well all you working firefighters be safe, think safe and have a good summer.

Retired L.A.V.E.
6/1 Posters,

Let me commend you for sticking to issues and raising solid discussion points with regard to the Cedar Fire. It is easy to get hot under the collar and direct it against the person who has posted on issues you don't agree with. I'm pleased that people are keeping comments civil. We all learn more that way.


6/1 A friend sent me this analysis and I did what this person describes. I agree with him unless the info in the report is not complete or accurate. Here's what he did:

I superimposed the addresses onto a Delorme map and projected it in 3-D. Then, one by one I added each detail in the report: location of the main fire, location of spot fires, disposition of resources, 3334’s fire operations, 6162’s firing operations, aircraft activity, etc. Here is the sequence of events that I see as they relate to fire activity:

1. The main fire laid out a flank to the west of (and parallel to) the addresses on Orchard which was west of the river bottom and burning downhill, sheltered from the wind.
2. The main fire sent out an eastward finger north of the northern most address mentioned on Orchard which burned up to the knoll above the road. This would have been the piece of fire line closest to 920.
3. 3334 did several burns north, south and east of 920.
4. Moments before its arrival at 920 the main fire transitioned thought the river bottom and ran up the slope funneling into the slight saddle in the ridge at the location of 902, 920 and 930 Orchard.
5. The main fire hit 6162’s position from the west and forced them to shelter on the east side of their rig.
6. When they ran for the house they felt a lot of heat coming from the west, and proceeded to the east side of the house where there is no mention of problems with flames, heat or smoke during the time it takes to break down the door.

All this leads me to believe that E6162 was hit by a severe but predictable head fire from west.

I think we need to separate the (illegal) firing action from the cause of death. Firing out should not have happened without a plan with all being informed. COMMUNICATIONS, COMMUNICATIONS.

However, in my opinion, the fire would have whipped through that saddle in short order due to the onshore wind, slope, fuels, etc regardless of the firing operation as the report stated. Would more time have helped the engine crew recognize their vulnerability from the fire to their west, get out of there or get to the house, into it and all survive? Maybe, maybe not. They were in a vulnerable position in that saddle on the ridge of a west-facing hillside with a wind driving it. They didn't recognize the danger of their position and they didn't see the fire coming from that direction. As Old FireDOG said, a view from above and info on the fire to the west might have provided some critical information before hand.


6/1 C.J.

Our budget for a USFS Type 1 handcrew as approximately $450,000 per year. It is built in that almost $280,000 will be saved by being on fires. The bulk of the budget is attributed to wages.

After a little searching on the web I found the notes from the 2002 BLM IHC Superintendents Workshop their budget Ranges from $470,000 - $500,000 fot FY2003 (www.fire.blm.gov/ihc/doc/2002Suptsnotes.pdf page 4 of 5).

6/1 CJ

I remembered reading a report a few years back, and knew this
report existed. I googled it, and found it on the Wildland fire site!


I talked to the fellers that did this draft, and there was talk about
doing it again, with newer more diverse numbers.

Thanks ab for the forum and the resources
hope it helps.


6/1 I have been reading all the debate going on surrounding FF Rucker's untimely passing. The biggest thing that I have noticed is there is alot of finger pointing about whose fault it is. My big question is who has really stepped forward and admitted guilt?

We can all sit here and debate all fire fatalities til our fingers turn blue and fall off, but it will not change the fact that there are firefighters dying in fires.

Is it the training? The attitude, "can do?" The rush? What is causing these deaths?

We have the LCES, the 10-18,the handbook and pocket guides, now what else do we need?

None of us can answer all these questions concerning all fire related deaths, because no one thing led up to it.

That's my two cents on the subject, for what its worth. There's been no rain lately, so everybody be safe.

6/1 Regarding Mrs. Rucker's last statements and reply to FC 180.... specifically putting blame to the CDF FC because they lit a backfire and had no water supply?

Hand crews and helitack crews fire out right? and engine crews often fire out 100's of acres of grass at a time that 500 gallons of water would never even put a dent on.

We are reaching pretty far out here people... The CDF FC did what he was trained to do. When a wall of fire is approaching and you have a defensible road, wind conditions, etc, are favorable, you should fire out. Firing is a technique. Sometimes mother nature plays against you, things/ situations change. To completely remove "firing out" as a tool in wildland fire control, you might as well sit in the station and watch the neighborhoods burn.

But to argue that the FC should not have fired out because HE had a lack of water supply? This is reaching pretty far for something to grasp onto....

What about Rucker's Captain. Why did he lead his crew into such a position? and better yet.... stay and let everyone take pictures? Why wasn't the door "forced" open earlier.

One more thing.... as far as replying to the statement of sheltering in the engine and the fact that the duffel bag was melted.... my first question would be.... was it visible thru the window, i.e. radiant heat? did any similar products melt on the floor below the window line? The engine was driven away and was operable. A few fireshelters deployed against the glass and everyone would have been fine.

In my job, if one of MY firefighters gets hurt, I as his direct supervisor am DIRECTLY responsible for his or her injuries.
Pointing fingers can be hurtful, be prepared for people to reply. Let things be.
Sorry for your loss.

If anything comes out of this.... perhaps CDF and the USFS and the other major WILDLAND fire agencies who are members of the joint powers, should review the trainings and qualifications of the local government personnel and equipment before ordering them and putting them out on the line.

In the last 4 years I've seen more local government personnel put into ICS positions that they have no idea what they are doing, all because we are supposed to be "sharing" the experience. I'm all for teamwork, but sometimes you should just leave the hard stuff for the experts. You don't see smokejumpers calling for Type 2 crews on a lightning strike do you?

How about that OES strike team, the one in the CDF report that the FC in question, told to get the f%$* out of those lawn chairs? If those individuals had been replaced with WILDLAND firefighters maybe things would have gone differently that day.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop and wait for the whimsical replies.

Be safe out there. If you don't know what you are doing, or feel unsure of anything....get out of there. ask questions later. No one needs to die or get hurt for a bunch of grass and brush thats just going to grow back next year.

Sign me:
CDF Fire Captain (NO.....not THAT one....)
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