"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
Is it just me, or is the NFC site down so that I can check to make sure
paid when I'm out here on fires??
Thanks - Fire Bug
Later, this came in...
Ab, answered my own question...
USDA’s National Finance Center shuts down in face of Katrina
A little help please.
I would like to read HR 408 but am unable to find it. Could someone
please help me with a link. I apologize in advance if I just overlooked
it on this site.
Just two short years ago, the FWFSA along with Congressman John
Doolittle (R-CA) met with representatives of the Office of Personnel
Management (OPM) to discuss proper classification for federal wildland
firefighters. Ironically one of those attending was Dan Blair who
requested that FWFSA Business Manager Casey Judd meet with him in
Washington DC recently while Mr. Blair was Acting OPM Director to
discuss HR 408. Both the FWFSA & Rep. Doolittle followed up with letters
to then OPM Director Kay Coles James on the subject.
The official response from OPM on classification (review of 0462),
signed by Director James stated "With respect to this series, we
believe that compensation reform, rather than a revision of the
classification standard, is the better approach..."
Fast forward to 2005 where HR 408, no doubt being a "compensation
reform" bill, and OPM's official response is to oppose
compensation reform at recent hearings while the OPM representative
agrees, on behalf of OPM, to work with Congressman Jon Porter and engage
in a review of classification reform.
Maybe OPM decides its strategy in dealing with pay &
personnel issues depending on what day of the week it is. Heaven Help
Us... Too bad... congress wants both; classification & compensation
reform. That should make it easy on the Agency... nothing to oppose.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT THE FEDERAL WILDLAND FIRE SERVICE
ASSOCIATION AT (916) 515-1224 OR FWFSAlobby@aol.com
IT'S YOUR FUTURE
And now a word from our sponsors. . .
Looking for Winter work? The Nature Conservancy in North Carolina is
taking applications for a prescribed burn crew technician, for more
information see their announcement on our
Anchor Point Tools has changed their name and now sports a spiffy new
website. Their new business name is Tune Wildland Fire Equipment. You
don't have to remember their new website address (www.tunefire.com),
just click on their ad on our
Classifieds Page as always.
Initial Attack Resources is accepting applications for Engine Bosses and
Engine Crewmembers. See their ad at the top of the
Dedrick Fire has again dropped the asking price of an engine they are
selling another $2,500 bucks. Tim says he's forced to sell, regardless
of how busy this season turns out. See his ad at the top of the
Heavy Equipment section of the Classifieds.
Here are some photo links from Hans W-B
Hello Wildland Community!
As you know, Kenneth Perry's run is just a little over a week away. I am
flying to CA to represent the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, not only
as an avid supporter, but also as an avid mtn biker and outdoor
enthusiast. I am planning to ride behind Ken offering as much support as
possible, however, I'm running into a problem getting my bike over there
with me without it costing an arm and a leg.
Is there anyone near Ken's route that could loan me a mtn bike? I need
one that's 15-16" (I’m just 5'4" so a bit on the short side!). I fly
into Burbank Friday night. Lori Greeno (an AWESOME lady!) will be
meeting me at the airport and we'll be staying at the Hilton in Santa
Clarita. If anyone has a bike in that area that they would be willing to
let me use, they could drop it by the Hilton at any time on Friday.
Ken's run starts at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, so I definitely need it
Thanks everyone for your support of Ken and your wonderful support of
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
My thoughts and prayers for the thousands who are trying to survive the
hurricane aftermath on the Gulf Coast.
For those of you who are called to help, and I have no doubt many
will be, stay safe ya'll.
There are many hazards.
BEWARE of red ants, water moccasins (rattle snakes, coral snakes),
alligators, mosquitoes with West Nile virus (take DEET), humid heat,
lack of drinking water and food, lack of sanitation, downed live power
lines, bubbling broken gas lines, underwater hazards that can snag a
boat engine, HAZMAT on the surface of the water, burning buildings, dead
bodies floating, wildlife, pets, cows, other animals including zoo
animals, unstable buildings, hazard trees.
The size of this disaster is just hitting us. My personal thanks to
the Fin and Feather folks with their flat boats, the Coast Guard and
other SAR folks and EMTs, and to those volunteering their pirogues and
other flat-bottomed vessels. For some people out there survival is a
matter of getting help in the next 12 hours or breaking free of attics
with rising waters. We starting to see on the news what's happening in
New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile. We don't see what's happened with the 25-30
foot storm surge in Plaquemines Parish, Saint Bernard Parish, Chalmette,
Slidell, Bay St Louis, Pass Christian. I have real fears that the death
toll will be astronomically high when all are tallied. I heard from a
friend that a large part of Plaquemines Parish has gone back to the
I thank the collective emergency response family for coming to help
in our time of need. I hope good plans are made and the effort is
coordinated. Ya'll take care, hear. God bless.
0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series
0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series
0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated.
I am waiting for a engine assignment on a type 5 engine federal I was
we don't get orders for those so I am pleading with anyone for severity
otherwise order type 5's
signed waiting in R-6 !!!
National Fire News:
The National Interagency Coordination Center is working with the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support Hurricane
Katrina relief efforts. Emergency Support Function #4 is staffed at
the Regional Response Coordination Centers in Atlanta, GA and
Denton, TX. Two Type 1 Incident Management Teams have been assigned.
One team will establish a base camp at Port Allen, LA and the other
team will be at the logistics staging area in Meridian, MS. A third
Type 1 Incident Management Team will establish a base camp at Stenis
NASA site in MS.
Jackson noted (they said 8/28) Logistics Management Teams, a Planning
Team, and two ERT-As are being mobilized for Hurricane Katrina relief
asked how these resources are organized and whether they were FEMA or
Having been on several hurricane incidents I can say
with certainty I don't know for sure. From my experience, on a small
incident, the Southern Region "fire" IMTs are staged ahead of the storm
often spend their time "supporting the team" if no real damage is done.
That is, they are positioned, found to be not needed, and return home
quickly (example: Hurricane Bonnie, which turned out to be a wimp
ashore at level 1 and doing little damage). The whole purpose of sending
them is to make sure they can travel BEFORE the storm hits and be ready
respond if needed. On Hurricane Ivan last year, the team I worked with
stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and coordinated the staging
several hundred tractor trailers with various relief supplies. We had
generators, tarps, etc. As other agencies needed supplies, we sent them
out by the truck load. That is, the Red Cross might have a center
a couple trailers of ice in a small town and we would send a couple
their direction. The exact use of a team varies with incident. The
ordering of 5 crews is a surprise, as in the past few if any crews have
I think the "Logistic Management Teams" are identical to IMT (Incident
Management Teams). The ICs are Custer and Prevey for the "LMTs" (per
said" on 8/28). The ICs listed in the national situation report IMTs are
listed as Custer, Quisenberry, and Pincha-Tulley. I think Prevey and
Quisenberry work on the same team (I've been on their team in the late
1990s). Translation? LMT = IMT.
A planning team is probably just the planning portion of an IMT, but I'm
guessing. On these incidents (like the World Trade Center), lines of
command between FEMA and the IMT tend to remain fairly distinct though
roles change. FEMA deals with their folks and R8 teams care for their
with high level inter-group communications mostly at the IC level from a
fire perspective. At the WTC incident, the IMT was supporting supply
caches and planning ONLY as their primary function, for example. We
planned for most non-IMT-group organizations in preparing shift plans
basically all work at the site AND maintained our supply units. But we
no operations, food, or many other "normal" units. Red Cross fed us, for
example, so the entire team was not needed.
Another point. FEMA doesn't usually use trainees, but depends on fire
incidents to train folks; few people outside the core team are usually
called up as single resource. FYI.
Attached is a
letter from Congressman Jon Porter, Chairman of the Federal
Workforce & Agency Organization subcommittee who heard testimony on HR
408 earlier this month, to the director of the Office of Personnel
Management as a follow-up to his commitment at the hearings to address
the issue of proper classification for federal wildland firefighters.
This is not the first attempt to get OPM to address the issue of proper
classification for federal wildland firefighters. However it is the
first time a committee chairman has gone on the record making such
reform one of his priorities.
For years, the Forest Service has said that OPM would not address the
classification issue whereas OPM has said they'd do whatever the
land-management agencies want them to do. It simply boils down to
getting these agencies off their duff, stop suggesting that our
firefighters don't do any fire related activities during the off-season
and properly classify them as wildland firefighters.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at
FWFSAlobby @ aol.com or (916) 515-1224.
Readers, Participants and Supporters:
Thanks for passing the
word on Ken's run in firecamp! The
pledge list is increasing as run time nears! Please pledge!
You are right...........It is highly unlikely you/I will ever
see a "national" IM Team on an ODF fire. Why? The landowners (Private,
Industrial, Contract and others) pay an assessment to the Oregon
Department of Forestry and several Fire Protection Associations to
provide fire protection services on their property. When there is a fire
on their lands they want/expect to see the Department, that they are
paying, providing the Incident Management on their lands. ODF makes
every effort to meet those expectations.
ODF has 3 Incident Management Teams, although it is rare for all 3 teams
to be managing fires at the same time, it has happened in the not too
distant past. I suppose under that scenario you could see a "federal" IM
Team (most likely a Type II) managing a fire on ODF protected lands.
However, there would be a strong ODF presence with single resource OH
involved in many of the operations positions.
OrFF (Not to be confused with Oregon FF - 2 different individuals)
CAJON PASS - A crash involving a boat-towing pickup truck and a
fire engine shut down Interstate 15 Sunday and injured five
firefighters responding to a brush fire. The collision occurred at
1:26 p.m. on the northbound side of the freeway at the base of the
A U.S. Forest Service firefighter, Jason Megowen, was airlifted to
Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. After regaining
consciousness, he appeared fine, said Forest Service spokeswoman
Ruth Wenstrom. Another Forest Service firefighter, Travis Thogmartin,
and three county firefighters Chad Patterson, Don Hulquist and Juan
Deleon suffered minor injuries, she said. One of the county
firefighters was thrown into oncoming traffic, said county fire
Battalion Chief Gary Bush.
See full story:
From the hotlist forum and appears to be true:
ALRAY Incident, is the correct spelling, an engine was struck,
two FF's transported. Reported to be doing well.
I have a pic from the Mail Tribune I did not know if you need permission
or not to post it? It is a very nice shot of tanker 62 on IA of the Jack
Springs fire in Southwest Oregon.
I would also like to post a kudos to the Rogue River Severity Task Force
that IAed Deer Creek with me. They stepped up to a important task
(Structure Protection) and completed it with no homes lost, also to
Rogue River Hotshots who, in my opinion, did a big part with the 4
dozers the first night in tying in alot of line on Divs B.
Hi JS, nice pic, but we would need permission. Ab.
I just wanted to send out my heartfelt best wishes for those in New
Orleans and surrounding areas as Katrina nears! This looks like a truly
scary, once in a lifetime storm, I am worried the devastation will be
unimaginable. All those folks in the Superdome scare the heck out of me.
Two Type 1 teams are heading to MS and one to FL. If you head down on
overhead or crew, be safe everybody!
Ken, I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mother...........
Could someone in the know confirm or disconfirm engine accident in SoCal
(I-15 at Hwy 138 ) as soon as it's possible. There are lots of rumors
I see from today's Southern Area Coordination Center
Morning Report that "Logistics Management Teams", a
"Planning Team", and two "ERT-As" are being mobilized
for Hurricane Katrina. These are new resources to me.
Does anyone know if they are strictly FEMA resources
or are they put together from the wildland fire
agencies? And, what are their roles and functions?
>From the SACC Morning report, August 28:
"The Marietta Mobilization Center is being opened
today, and the Red and Blue Type 1 IMTs will be
reporting there tomorrow by 1800. The 2 Logistics
Management Teams (LMTs) currently in place are being
relocated: Custer’s LMT-A is moving to Mississippi
tomorrow, while Prevey’s LMT-B is moving to
Tallahassee. An additional LMT has been ordered for
Alexandria, LA. FEMA is placing an order for 5 Type 1
Crews, and more requests are anticipated. A long-term
Planning Team is operating in Orlando.
2 ERT-As are set up – one each in Alabama and
Florida, while the USFS is also staffing an ESF4
function at the RRCC in Atlanta (Days – L. Howard and
J. Caffin, Nights – S. Weaver and S."
A clarification on the Deer Creek Fire:
Anderson's Team under the Unified Command is an (OSFM) Oregon State Fire
Marshall's Team "not" the National PNW Team 3. It is very common to form
a unified command with the OSFM when structures are involved and the
governor invokes the "Conflagration Act" which makes it possible to
bring in structural fire fighting departments from around the state to
assist in the fire fighting effort. It is also common to ask for FEMA
funding under the same scenario. This is definitely not a first! At
least not in the state of Oregon.
The forecasted weather will be a test for all fire lines today and
tomorrow. A dry cold front with low humidity, gusty and erratic winds.
Resp to Mellie's Unified Command - Deer Cr Fire
Anderson's IMT is the State Conflagration Structural resources IMT, not
the PNW T1 IMT. I'll chug a gallon of silvex the day ODF puts a 'Fed T1
IMT' on one of their fires.
FEMA Declared fires are common: Especially in places where there is
little or no other way to tap other Fed $$ (and if structures are
Thanks Fish. Interesting reading. I see it's not PNW Team 3 but a
structure-oriented combined team.
I haven't seen such web pages
before... More to learn.
Implication... It ain't real to me until it hits the web???
The FEMA assistance is in the form of a FMAG. (Fire Management
Assistance Grant) FMAGs can only be applied for when there are
structures threatened. Here's a link which further explains the
In California, the OES rep usually helps
the local agency fill out the application. The application is then run
through OES, and then through FEMA. Here's the process.
http://tinyurl.com/cvy86 The catch is that structures have to be
actually threatened when the FEMA folks in DC (Da Capitol) are reviewing
Here's the link to the worksheet, revised 2005 in case
anyone has the old one:
Harding and Manton Fires:
Congratulations to the Men and Women who
corralled those incidents.
Both are excellent examples of good aggressive fire fighting.
The weather has cooperated up until now... However, neither of
those fires are reported as completely contained and there's a RED FLAG
WARNING for this afternoon. Although they are mopping up, there could
still be rollout that gets fanned by the winds in some of the steep areas. Be
Safe. Maintain situational awareness. Ab.
Here's an interesting development in the larger scheme of things.
Deer Creek Fire (Near Cave Junction OR) is under unified command --
State of Oregon
and Anderson's Type I PNW Incident Command Team 3,
but in addition to that, it has been declared a FEMA fire...
Hmmm, that must be a first. Is this suggestive of things to come?
Speaking of FEMA, my best wishes to those facing the hurricane in New
and the surrounding Gulf Coast area. Camille was pretty bad and we
didn't have a
direct hit on N.O. on that one. Katrina has sustained winds of 175 mph
now (Category 5).
The levees are unlikely to survive the storm surges. There aren't too
heading north or west. For sure the causeway across Lake Ponchartrain
closed in high winds. Recipe for disaster... LCES! BE SAFE ALL!
Thanks to Casey and everyone else for their help on the portal to portal
issue, I know one of these days Fed wildland firefighters will receive
As an ex-Fed Engine Foreman, my family qualified for food stamps and my
kids qualified for free school lunches. I was too proud to participate
in these programs (no my kids did not starve), but it sure was tough if
fire season was slow. That was 23 years ago, I left the green (fed) and
took the opportunity to wear a blue shirt (local government) so that my
family would not have to struggle during slow years.
According to the info that Lobotomy provided us, not much has changed
over the years financially for the Fed family. You guys deserve more!!!
In regards to the turnover of federal employees, I have to say it is the
greatest thing since sliced bread, my agency has been the beneficiary of
numerous rookies coming in with years of hotshot, helitack and engine
experience. We are proud of the caliber of ex-fed employees that we
hire, year in and year out. Not only are these individuals experienced
firefighters, but most end up being future officers and leaders.
Tram Cam is starting to pickup a little smoke on the BDF fire (Blaisdell
The 209 shows ODF taking over management of the fire yesterday morning.
Looks like it's being managed almost exclusively with private resources.
725 of 872
personnel are private with 70 state of Oregon overhead.
Anyone have word on the Deer Creek Fire? I heard there's a
cold front s'posed to go through today perhaps with erratic
Here's info on the Harding Fire on the Tahoe NF. Sinclears Norcal I team
is managing it.
Re: 52 club ultra-run
First wanted to say thanks to GIS Girl for the maps. Pretty cool, and
much better than the hand drawn one.
I am out of the loop right now in a little town on Lake Chapala, Mexico
called San Antonio. Wish I could say I was on vacation. Unfortunately My
Mother passed away Monday morning. I am still training high in the
central mountains. Nothing like Thunder and lightning inside the bowl of
an extinct volcano. The tropical humidity is something I'm surely not
used to, either.
Anyway.....Tony D, I had planned on getting ahold of you when I came
back from Reno for Mandatory days off. I have no cell coverage here, and
unfortunately your number is in my phone sitting on the counter at home.
If you've got some interesting stuff, you can get my E-mail address from
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU THAT HAVE PLEDGED. IT SEEMS TO BE SPEEDING UP AS WE
GET CLOSER TO THE DAY.
Sorry about your mom. I'd be happy to pass any messages along.
Folks make those pledges. Ken
Perry/WFF Benefit Ab.
Well I also just got back from the Blossom complex. Being a Southwest
firefighter I'm used to hills at elevation, but not darn near cliffs
with that tangled mess underneath it.
I agree with Misery Whip that is a heck of a combination of terrain and
fuels. Just try mopping up trying to hold on to a branch with one hand
while you dig with the other one. Our crew hiked one hill there that was
totally amazing, and almost straight up. Don't know how they actually
cut the line down it as it was barely safe to climb or descend with a
full pack and you needed your tool to HELP slow you down in places.
Fire rippin' in norcal began 1500, near Manton (TGU, Tahama Co into
10 homes lost. Check the hotlist.
You can see it here
http://newweb.wrh.noaa.gov/satellite/ click Eureka then animation
and look for the little rising column at the Shasta and Tahama Counties'
shared border. Ab.
I read a few days ago about Ernie Johnson's passing on. My eyes
up with tears as I read about the people I knew who were there to meet
plane in Shelton and what was said. I echo all those and add that the
world and fire fighting community was a better place by his presence in
and a poorer place in his absence. I worked for 9 seasons on the
Ranger District, and started as an 18 year old firefighter the same year
and age Ernie did. I remember burning slash with him, working on
fighting fires with him, learning from him. The longer I work in this
agency, the more I come to appreciate people like Ernie, a person of
integrity, a great fireman, good teacher, good leader. I am a witness to
a part of his legacy and am proud to be a part of it. thank you Ernie,
You betcha the practice of not being at the dispatch location and
using an address as a shill was a big problem and still might be a
problem in some areas. I personally think those type of violations or
misleading actions should result in severe punishment... maybe a trip
down the Rogue River with Viejo? I can see your point that this
latest round of actions for permit failures may have a more positive
effect by keeping everyone honest and move the industry forward as a
safer and more professional resource. In a position to see the
documentation, between the scammers and those caught in the bureaucratic
permitting process, I guess I didn't want to see otherwise good
contractors to be lumped in with those contractors that outright
falsified dispatch locations in an attempt to gain more work. Not
complying with the contract is wrong.. and that's the bottom line.
Thanks ab for the clarification and the comments you included in my
Catching up on They Said, just got back from the Blossom Complex.
Toughest combination of terrain & fuels of any fire I ever saw. Two
weeks ago, I put our chances of hooking it at about 50 percent.
Containment acreage was about 15,000 acres.
Viejo, Are you still flapping about Blossom? Most wise They Said posters
admit when they are wrong and eat crow if they deserve it. If you still
feel this fire has been a boondoggle, I'll make you an offer: I'll give
you $100 if you can travel on foot from Rogue River Ranch to Hanging
Rock in three days time. Google up a topo map of the Wild Rogue
Wilderness and scope it out. It is only about three miles as the crow
flies, a mile a day should be easy, eh? See all those squiggly lines on
the topo map? You'll be glad to know that most of the Wild Rogue
Wilderness is covered with dense 15' brush and old growth Doug Fir and
Cedar. The brush will give you something to cling to as you develop a
better understanding that a slow ROS doesn't mean squat in that
The FAA Administrator, That is the funniest damn thing I've read in
awhile, I about hurt myself laughing! You have to be a pilot. I think
there is a promising career ahead for you in government, you speak
bureaucratic gibberish quite well.
Casey, Many of us feds appreciate your tenacity and support what you are
trying to do for wildland firefighters. I don't know you personally, but
I know you well enough from your postings to say that I would trust you
more than OPM when it comes to doing the right thing for us. Keep
slugging, keep explaining, it is nice to know that you are out there
tackling these issues. We will never get what we deserve without a
dedicated person leading the charge for us. Keep it up.
Julie's tribute to Ernie Johnson was touching. I didn't know Ernie but
it is obvious he was well loved. It is always sad when we lose one of
the good ones.
I thought the FAA Administrator post was a spoof making the rounds
behind the scenes, although it came in from 2 different regular,
credible posters. Wow, if that's for real, we're in trouble! Ab.
I had our IQCS person try to put READ into IQCS. Would not take
it..................... It is on a hardcopy list we got as an approved
position, however it is still not in IQCS.
There were a few questions on the hot list forum about where current
are in comparison to historical fires. I would l just like to remind
everyone that numerous fire perimeters for California's jurisdiction are
posted on the
California Fire Planning and Mapping Tools site.
If you want to look at fire history you can turn it on (check the box)
under the fuels section in the layers (right side).
If you make the fire history active (press the radio- circle button next
to the check box) you can use the identify button on the left to tell
you the name, year, acres, etc of the fire.
If there is not a fire perimeter loaded yet under the active fire
section in the layers you can turn on the Thermal MODIS (satellite) data
and it will give you a pretty good idea of where the fire has burned in
the last 12 or 24 hours or is actively burning.
If you have a GIS person they can download the data with the download
button on the left and make maps with their own data.
If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail or call. This is
first year for the site and although there are growing pains we feel it
a great success.
This is a California Fire Alliance project with the USGS.
GIS Lead- Branch of Fire and Aviation
Bureau of Land Management, California State Office
vcsmith @ ca.blm.gov (separated to prevent spam spiders from
Member 84 of the 52 Club, Wildland Firefighter Foundation
impressive and useful to have historical fire information. I've added
this site to the maps list on the News page. (I like the WFF member #
note at the bottom of your email.) Ab.
I'm not sure that I'm ready to take my hat off to NWSA or Joe S for that
matter... Not that I have anything against the organization or the
individual... but it seems to me that more significant suspensions of
contracts have taken place this year and last year with regard to
performance and training issues. Unless I'm missing something these
latest rounds of suspensions deal with whether the contractor had a
permit from the local government to use the location as a place of
business. I suspect a whole bunch of small business is run from homes
without a permit to use the property as a place of business. Don't take
this post wrong... This permit failure is still a contract violation but
In my mind not as significant or as important as performance on the line
or failure to meet experience and training requirements... and certainly
shouldn't be used to define the success or failure of local politicians
or contract crews.
This following type of recent contract crew suspension is far more
significant to me as a fire fighter than the permit issue.
On 8/19/05 Plans & Operations for the Blossom fire demobilized crew
number <snip> for cause. That cause being the judgment call that placed
a crew down hill from a falling operation closer than the industry
standard for safety would allow. There is a question of the level and
responsibility of crew supervision at the time of Incident involving
I found the article in the Bend newspaper interesting in a political
sense and was surprised to learn that one of the contractors who
contributed to the article and defended the suspension actions had 3 of
his own crews suspended for the following reasons: On 8/23/2005 the
Oregon Department of Forestry received confirmation from the City of
Redmond, Oregon that your company does not have the applicable business
license for the Designated Dispatch Location offered in your
solicitation response to the 2005 Interagency Firefighting Crew
My personal opinion with regard to the how and why now aspect of the
meetings, discussions and letters is one of doubt and I'm left with a
feeling that as long as there is money politicians will find a way to
protect their own assets.
Oliver, what you say about some folks operating out of their
homes may be true, but it is definitely not the whole story. Behind the
scenes for the last several years we have gotten emails from a variety
of people that certain OR contractors were purposefully setting up false
locations to get around the "no more than an hour away" (or whatever it
was) requirement. Generally such posts do not see the light of day
because we can't absolutely confirm (don't have research staff to
confirm) their veracity, so we're not willing to post them. That said,
the discrepancy between professed resource location and actual location
- sometimes tens or a hundred miles away - could have been a safety
issue in some instances. And we did encourage people to go through
whatever channels were available to them to make the problem known. I
think we're seeing some of the results of that process. This is simply
one aspect of becoming a professional and safe private sector fire
force, in my opinion. When contractors who have done this understand
they will now have to follow the rules, they will. This clarity of
contract benefits all of us. Ab.
Several people have posted about firefighters being brothers and
sisters, and that we should all get along just like family. If that's
true, then we're doing just fine.
We may bicker and disagree and squabble and get pissed off at our
siblings. At times, we may not share our toys. We may complain about who
doesn't share equally in the chores, or who gets more for an allowance,
or who has the later curfew.
What's important is that, in times of real need, we will also be there
to support and encourage one another.
Here's a very brief answer...
Portal to portal will be paid when an employee, as defined, responds
to an Emergency Incident and that incident exceeds 24 hrs. When we
originally drafted the bill, we literally listed every conceivable
response we could think of before settling for "emergency incident."
Given that prescribed burns are "planned" they would not constitute an
emergency incident... unless the fire got away and started a bigger,
longer incident. Of course as I've mentioned, we are working on getting
hazard pay for firefighters on prescribed burns.
With respect to severity details, if an engine is sent anywhere for
60-90 days, that is not an emergency incident and thus each period away
from your duty station exceeding 24 hrs would not incorporate portal to
However, the issue deserves looking at...perhaps some type of additional
per diem etc. If anyone wants to contact me personally and give me a bit
of instruction on severity details I can review the issue with the FWFSA
Board of Directors for guidance and perhaps develop some ideas.
Over the years, I've heard a lot of talk about portal to portal when
fire fighters are dispatched to fires. I am curious to know if this will
cover severity details. A lot of full time, year round firefighters
depend on these details to make ends meet at home, to fill unfunded work
days, and to work on trainee positions. Normally we have our details
preplanned in the winter months, so that when summer comes around we
head west. Most of the areas I've detailed, cannot afford to bring and
engine in for 60-90 days paying portal to portal. I know that my Forest
does not have enough funds to do this. I've also done several Rx burn
details too, will these have to be paid as portal to portal also? I am
all for being paid what we are worth, but I guess I want to know what
effect this will have in the long run?
Thanks for bringing together the links to gather info on breaking
fires. I use
and post there. The GACCS are also providing more real time news & notes
(good job usfs northops), I like the firemaps link on the news page too.
Thanks for adding the new map showing the S OR fire last night. That was
great. WildCAD is getting better but should be set up and maintained
more outside of CA. I also like tuning in on the scanner list sometimes.
The Redding CA scanner site tends to get shut down when a fire ignites
around Shasta, but that's not surprising. What about web cams?
Anyway, thanks. Information is valuable.
You're welcome. Web cams are sometimes useful, for example the
hpwren site, but it's limited to socal. If anyone has more ideas or
links to suggest for any kind of fire news, let us know. Ab.
The Region 5 Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program
announcement has been extended to September 16.
Here's the link:
Your reference to the GEL Drop on the Spruce Fire and the Ukiah AAB
is interesting. Where was the Spruce Fire? There is no record at Ukiah
AAB of dropping Gel on this Incident. By chance did you get a Tanker
Tail number? It may have come out of Hollister or Columbia AAB. This is
good information as with Long Term Retardants or any other product,
quality control is a must in order to improve the product or the
SPRUCE (CA-LNU-5590) from wildcad. Ab.
A Resource Advisor is "READ" and is being used. It is not even one of
new ones that have come out over the last few year. Problem with "THSP"
you cannot get legal credit for an assignment in the IQCS system if you
as a THSP. Where you can if you go out as a READ.
The current rate for
an AD READ is AD-5 at $24. If a trainee, then $3 dollars
less than that. (Same as for any trainee AD-5)
I was not saying that the product does not have uses, what I was saying
is I was not impressed at all. I have seen the blow torch test and the
WUI uses but as far as aerial use, I am NOT a FAN...
The smell I was referring to is a distinct smell, that to myself and
crew was very different to all of US!
Also as far as being hit by the tanker is this: I am not a SMURF nor
tend to want to be one. And as for that matter I do not think it is a
smooth flowing gel it is thick and clotted. Been hit by that before and
maybe you have not but 140 mph fast balls kinda hurt.
Last but not least " I hope" I am not bagging on your product I just
believe that it has its place and I do not think tankers are its place,
maybe helitankers but not fixed wing.
I am sorry if this angers anybody but hey get on a fire with this stuff
and see what you think.
Ps AB I still say this stuff smells funny....
New fire taking off near Grant's Pass Oregon reported on the Hot List.
Click Medford then click animation. It's getting dark fast, but check
Ab, here's what I got on the recent PNW crew suspensions. R6 FF
Talking points regarding the Central Oregon fire crew suspensions
1. ODF suspended nine private contract fire crews Aug. 16 for failing
to have Deschutes Co. business permits for their dispatch locations
2. We were notified of this violation of county ordinance by the
Deschutes Co. Board of Commissioners.
3. In February 2005, we sent out a bid solicitation to fire crew
contractors. The contractors were required to sign and return
it by March 4. The document stated that they must have business permits
for their dispatch locations, if so required by local governments.
4. Under the contract (Interagency Crew Agreement administered by ODF
for the Pacific Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Group), a dispatch
location must be a physical site (not a P.O. box) where a fire crew can
assemble and be inspected. It is a place of business; therefore, local
governments can require a business permit or license.
5. In mid-July, we also suspended six crews in Medford for failure to
have business licenses for their dispatch locations in
that city. Most of the crew contractors subsequently applied or the
licenses with the city and received them in a week to 10 days. We then
immediately reinstated the crews whose contractors had obtained their
business licenses. (Deschutes Co. has said their processing time on a
permit application is six to eight weeks or longer.)
6. The loss of the nine central Oregon crews still leaves us with more
than 200 crews on contract. Barring an extreme event, such as a
large-scale dry lightning storm, we think that we have an adequate
number of crews to get through the season.
The concept of portal to portal is relatively simple. We recognize that
currently, the law guarantees a minimum of 8 hours of pay per day
although most shifts stretch to 10-14. Of course the balance of that 24
period is a non-pay status.
The land management agencies have advanced the idea of 24 hr pay for
years but with the idea that the 24 hr. pay would all be at base pay and
hazard pay would be eliminated. Lousy idea!
When we originally drafted the bill, we envisioned 8 hrs of base pay and
16 hours of FLSA OT at time and a half. Hazard pay would be separate and
continue to be earned as now. Even our friends in congress said that
might be hard to sell.
So to a degree, we compromised. If we look strictly at a 24 hour period,
the idea behind HR 408 would be that the first 8 hours would be at base
pay, the "2nd" eight hours would be at FLSA OT of time and one half, and
the remaining 8 hours, currently generally spent in a non-paid status,
would be paid at the base hourly rate. No change to the earning of
hazard pay would occur.
In other words, the hours that you now spend in a non-pay status would,
under HR 408, be paid at base pay.
Hope that makes it clear although there have been so many "experts" on
HR 408 lately posting here, maybe I'm the only one who doesn't know what
it does... even though I helped write the darn thing.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.
For all of you, I want you to know that I had a nice chat with vfd cap'n
this morning. I hope he came away with a better understanding of our
position as an Association and I do appreciate and understand his
concerns about the "militia."
I think it would be helpful to hear from those that consider themselves
"militia" as to why their numbers have been on the decline in recent
years. Much of the commentary to that end comes as a result of families
of two-wage earners, not wanting that time away from each other or
children... heck, they already have a job, why spend days away from
one's family without pay and benefit of special retirement provisions
for federal firefighters.
Further, the multi-taskings as I call it, some others call it All-Risk
of our federal wildland firefighters has become as dynamic as any other
firefighter in the country. Thus their "off-season" no longer fits the
description of Forestry Technician, but rather firefighter. Their
off-season time is spent training, planning and preparing for fire
season along with vehicle and equipment maintenance, just like any other
full time firefighter. So when you look at the "militia" and their
collateral firefighting duties being performed for 3-4 months of the
year as compared to firefighters who perform tasks associated with fire
suppression and prevention, management, preparation, auto accidents,
HAZMATS etc., all year long, the argument of "equity" with respect to HR
408 may not be as viable as some people think.
However, that debate is not for me. If there are militia out there that
want an incentive to respond to fires, I would suggest researching a
Federal Circuit Court of Appeals case, Felzien v. Office of Personnel
Management (Fed. Cir. 4-17-91). You do the research but I'll offer a
glimpse of the case.
The Court constructively redefined "primary firefighter." This was a
significant departure from the rather limited definition of firefighter
that OPM had been applying to determine which employees were eligible
for early firefighter retirement.
The decision should have opened the door to early firefighter retirement
for hundreds of federal employees who "serve in support roles on fires."
The Circuit court emphatically rejected OPM's arguments in the case and
found instead that the Appellant's service as a Forest Service
Electronics Technician (Boy the FS sure likes that word
Technician) was qualifying experience as a "primary firefighter" even
though the Appellant did not personally extinguish fires and
irregardless of the fact that the Appellant's official position did not
say or imply that his primary duty was firefighting.
There vfd cap'n...I've done something for the militia. They can either
get their union to address the issue or join the FWFSA and we'll handle
it. Heck we're the only one's doing anything anyway.
It is at your fingertips. This site, hit
then hit "training and education" and you are there -
at NWCG Taskbooks. It is amazing how a little surfing can release the
stress and strands of
day to day life...
Enjoy, stay safe and walk tall,
Good to know some of the background and successful use of blue gel in
Thanks for the info. I'm still wondering how it works: what makes it a
Still Out There as an AD
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) is a cancer causing
byproduct of grilling in the
surface layer of grilled meat. One of the health recommendations for
of PAHs is to marinate meat for 30 minutes or more. Effective marinade
for meat can be
as simple as 1 beer + 1 cup orange juice + 1/4-1/2 cup
soy sauce (or you can leave out
the beer). Barbeque sauce alone doesn't work.
Re Thermo Gel
Thermo Gel has been used in aerial drops in Washington
State on BIA fires with great success. It not only hangs on that canopy
but also coated fine fuels in the forest floor when used with the proper
viscosity. When the NorCal Captain said he was on the active flank and
was just about hit with gel, good thing he missed us, I too ask him WHY?
I have worked with the product in the past and have had it on my person
repeatedly with no side effects. The fact is it was not dropped on you
and you were not affected by any results of such a drop. I find it
interesting that you say it "was chunky and too thick to coat the
vegetation". The make up of the product does not lend itself to be
"Chunky". I am also not sure what you mean by kind of weird smelling.
First are you just used to the strong smell of the long term retardant
when it takes your breath away? What have you been doing for the last 10
years when you have been inhaling the long term retardant? I have worked
with Thermo Gel and have found the odor to be inert. I work with a group
of 6 private contractors who have been trained to apply Thermo Gel and
none of them are aware of your weird kind of smell situation. The
comment made about the product staining is also interesting because I
have personally sprayed my truck with Thermo Gel, put a blow torch to it
and then rinsed it off with NO ill effects
Thermo Gel has been tested by the US Forest Service at a great expense
to the company and the Forest Service has found it to be environmentally
friendly and non toxic. After working with this product as well as a
number of the other unapproved gel products on the market today, I have
found that it is easy to work with, effective and easy to clean up.
Thermo Gel did not just appear last week. Thermo Gel is the result of
years of study and testing and modifications. The product has been
approved by MTDC in Missoula and meets all of the forest service
requirements set regarding fish, water and wildlife. These comments
coming from the NorCal Captain and the guinea pig seem to be coming from
someone with another agenda.
The reason the CDF is willing to use this product is because it works
The reference to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) is an
interesting one because it insinuates that Thermo Gel introduces them
into the fire situation, when in fact the PAHs already exist due to the
wildfire itself. If you go to the website recommended by guinea pig, you
will find that PAHs are found in all foods that are grilled. and if you
contact Thermo Gel directly, you will be told that the amount of PAH
produced is the equivalent of a cooked piece of meat.
I agree that this is a new way of fighting fire but I ask that we just
wait and see how effective it is, how safe it is, and how in the long
run it will do more to protect firefighters than harm them.
Joseph P Hickey
Wildfire Defense Systems
What is the general breakdown on portal to portal. Is it base 8's for 24
hours or a combination of overtime and hazard pay? I get good humor out
listening to folks that make loads of money, stay in motels belittle
for wanting to make maybe up to half what they make. Up here in Montana
use CDF about once a decade and when our finance folks see how much they
cost the shock usually lasts another decade.....
Outsider looking in,
CDF FFI employees work a 96 hour work week. 4-24 hour days. However,
they are only paid for 19 of those 24 hours, they cannot leave the
station in the evening.
If the FF has their sleep interrupted after midnight, they are credited
for 5 hours overtime.
Some FFs working in a busy Schedule A house may get 20 hours of OT per
shift as they are up on calls more often then their peers in the
Schedule B houses.
If those same FFs are on an incident or out of county on fires or
covering other CDF stations, they are paid 24 hours a day; I am not sure
of their hourly rate.
My FF got his sleep interrupted both nights I was on duty, and it
happened to him on the other shift as well so he will have a good OT
We don't have a work day per-se, 0800 to 1700 is typical, my house runs
all day and all night so we are some what more easy going compared to
other stations that are typically not as busy.
I hope this answers your question, there are a ton of rules regarding FF
overtime, the above is a nut shell answer and pretty much hits the
There's a plant with purple flowers (called Poodle-dog Bush)
that has popped up in
areas in SoCal that were burned in the 2003 fires. Contact with the
symptoms to the skin - itching, irritation, swelling, blistering.
may not show up for 12 to 36 hours after contact and the plant is
painful to the touch. As with poison oak, avoid all
contact - including touching, smelling
flowers, and breathing
Re Blue Gel
The Missoula center tests Foams, Retardants, and Water
Additives for both environmental impact and for corrosiveness to
magnesium. The CDF staff toxicologist has given the o.k. as far as
impact on humans. The USFS (Missoula) has approved Thermo Gel for use,
the issue is not the product or the environment, or toxicology, but the
fact that the USFS does not have a policy for its use. The science is
approved but not the policy. Once the policy is written, the USFS will
be able to use Thermo Gel. Thermo Gel is approved for use in California
and South Dakota. The material used in ThermoGel is a cousin to the
material found to hold moisture in baby diapers...
Hats off to Joe Stutler and the NWSA.
Please sign me: Oregon Rose
Boy you folks better read this, talk about hot.....
Posters have been clamoring for years that managers tighten up the
permitting of fire crews and do some checking up. I wonder if Chuck
Burley or one of his staff reads theysaid??? Ab.
I have long sought an answer to this, and so far been unable to acquire such information. My question is, How much does an entry level CDF firefighter make per hour? I have heard that one earns about $2400 per month. But that is including a guaranteed 96 hours of overtime in that time period! (So overtime pay is tallied toward that sum, correct?) Another question is, what is a CDF work day? 600-1800, 600-2000, or someother shift? If someone could answer these questions I would appreciate it.
A comment about the discussions that have transpired on TheySaid of late.
It does not matter what agency that one works for, whether it is municipal, state, federal, contract, volunteer or another. You are all public servants, therefore it is your duty to serve the public, whether it is in suppression of fires, caring for an injured individual, etc. The general public does not know the difference between one and the other, they see a person in uniform acting as a professional firefighter. They do not know the limits of one agency and what they can and can not do. You are there to help them. In the end you all work side by side, and hopefully on the fireline or the medical aid you handle yourselves with mutual respect, and professionalism better than you do on TheySaid. You are all experts in a field that few dare to venture, be proud of that.
Outsider looking in.
Hmmmm, and I thought posters were fairly restrained for this time
of the fire season. There certainly has been good information shared and
a variety of viewpoints on issues. I know discussion is good when I find
myself agreeing with one poster then another, as alternative viewpoints
are argued and additional issues are raised.
As always, I thank contributors for participating with good
questions, answers, information and perspectives. I learn something new
almost every day. Probably for a lot of casual non-firefighter readers,
a lot of this back-and-forth goes over your head... Ab.
As far as I know, there is no specific code for resource advisor, we use
Technical Specialist (THSP) on our forest for them.
Hey Ab, have you seen this? Thought it might be something to share with the gang.
From: AD Firefighter Association
To: AD Firefighter Association
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 4:21 PM
Subject: ADFA Update: ADFA Board Members Meet With Idaho Delegation Staff
Dear ADFA Member:
Hugh Carson (ADFA Chair), Dick Grace (Vice-Chair), and Carl Pence (Legislative Affairs) met for 1½ hours on August 7 with representatives from 3 of the 4 Idaho Congressional Staffs
Key players were Mike Freese, Senator Craig’s Natural Resources Field Coordinator, and Layne Bangerter, Senator Crapo’s Natural Resources staffer.
Items of discussion included:
1. History of the AD Pay Authority
2. How the Authority has been used over the last two decades
3. ADFA initiatives to achieve “fair pay for job performed”
4. Agency review of the 2005 Proposed AD Pay Rates (this proposal was the one that would reduce pay $2-$7 an hour for 99% of the positions and which was rescinded due to significant negative comments from both within the agencies and externally (gubernatorial staffs, ADFA, etc.)
From our perspective, and without exaggerating, the meeting was an unqualified success. We obtained the following commitments (Mike Freese has the lead on this):
1. The Idaho delegation will “closely examine” the results of the outside third-party review of the process and procedures utilized by both the Position Evaluation and Rate Setting Working Groups of NWCG’s Interagency Business Practices Working Team that led to the 2005 Rates. OPM will be involved in this review.
2. The Idaho delegation believes the agencies are honestly working toward a solution, and just want to help them get there, including evaluation of alternative methods of obtaining supplementary incident personnel such as Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts.
It is our impression that Judy Carvelho’s Position Evaluation Group did a good job of evaluating and ranking all ICS positions, though in some cases the levels were perhaps one grade too low. Between this group’s output and the issuing of the rates, the process went “south” with someone or some group essentially ignoring and discarding the Position Evaluation Group’s two years of hard work, and arbitrarily setting the 2005 rates you saw in the Proposal.
As a sidelight, ADFA and the legislators’ staffs discussed the lack of Forest Service response (as required by law) to the FOIA submitted by Shari Downhill of Wildland Firefighter Magazine. This FOIA requested 5-year data on AD utilization and all written, verbal, e-mail, and telephonic records regarding the evaluation of ICS positions and the setting of the 2005 rates. There will be immediate follow-up on this FOIA.
ADFA will also be submitting a FOIA all written, verbal, e-mail, and telephonic records regarding the evaluation of ICS positions and the setting of the 2005 rates (the 5-year data will be too expensive).
Comments on the above more than welcome.
Chair, AD Firefighters Association
Don't get the wrong idea, not all CDF'ers share the same view. You're absolutely right, we don't do the same things the same way- so what? What do run totals prove?
Bottom line is you guys aren't paid all that much in the first place, and if you cant go have a beer or hug your kid or do whatever you feel you need to do because of your job or assignment, THEN YOU SHOULD GET PAID FOR IT!! -any drunk monkey can figure that one out!
Put this in the Biblical Plagues category: Floods and Fires (There is even a regional infestation of crickets). While the town of New Harmony, Utah was threatened by the Blue Spring fire, we drafted water from the area’s flooded roads.
Targhee Engine 3-1 drafting from Ash Creek on flood-closed Forest Road during the July 2005 Blue Spring fire near Cedar City, Utah.
I added it to Engines
15 photo page. I also added two photos of the Deer IA to Fire
29, one from Mellie, one from Bard. Ab.
Cdf has a "gel use and effectiveness" form that the airbases use to figure out which gel (theres 3 types) works best and what it was used on. our guy dumped a load of regular old retardant on grass and it mashed the grass down and the fire crept underneath. A Hollister Ship came in and laid down gel (fire and ice out) and it stopped it with no creep thru.
As far as I know, the FS guy here said the reason behind the FS one load policy is that there has'nt been a corrosiveness on aircraft study published yet. Gel is
supposedly ok'ed for use on the forest (sierra) but not by application
here are a few pics of the tennessee forestry new dozers and rigs.
it's a big up grade going from ford 700 sirs sterling and deer to cat.
I put 'em on Equipment
9 photo page. Ab.
Here is our new crew logo.
I put it on Logo
11 photo page along with the Sandia Helitack (Cibola NF, NM)
logo from JA and 2 logos from Venezuelan firefighters. Ab.
Robert, Try this link
Help!!!! I am looking for a FF1 Taskbook online or by any other means.
Can you possibly help me? Thank you so much.
photos of Ramona Airport CDF
The retardant aspect of firefighting is admittedly a weaker area in my
knowledge base, but I thought phos-chek worked by temporarily changing
the chemical structure of cellulose fuels, thus interfering with the
chemical chain reaction needed to sustain combustion. Gels sound like
enhanced wetting agents, like we used for some structure work. The gels
just don't sound like they would be that useful for the type and
arrangement of fuels you get, especially when going higher in elevation
in most areas of California. Then again, I guess most state-protected
land is at lower elevations. Sounds like the Forest Service is adopting
a pretty sound policy if it can only be used on first drops.
Still Out There As an AD
Is there an ICS position for Resource Advisor? I have seen it
abbreviated as READ,
and am currently qualified as a READ, but I never see the position
listed in ICS.
Additionally, I was wondering what the current AD pay rate for READ is.
Is there anyone from the Thermo Gel Company willing to come forth and
tell us (present facts) if their product is safe and effective? I would
also like to see the MTDC studies.
Ingesting a product you are trying to sell only tells me someone may be
stupid and looking to gain a buck (or they may be confident in the
safety of their product?). I remember where many of the folks who
intentionally ingested Agent Orange to "show its safety" now lie. I also
remember the folks who regularly used "the safe herbicides" that the
Forest Service used in the 60's 70's and early 80s's. Some of those
folks actually shot each other with "squirt guns" full of that stuff. I
also know where many of them now reside or the battles they are
It would be nice if someone could provide the the links to full studies
of the effectiveness, the effects to the environment, and also the short
term and long term effects of personal exposure to Thermo Gel 200L.
I like the way gel protects structures but is it safe being dropped from
airtankers on the troops? When it is dropped from the air, does the
product become aerosolized as an inhation and ingestion hazard? We all
know that exposure to certain hydrocarbons is part of our jobs and a
carcinogen, but how does this new exposure affect us?
Not a Guinea Pig
Re: Gel Technology Delivered by Air Tankers.
WF and others,
I may be mistaken but I thought the aerial study of the gel was only on
the corrosiveness to the vessel it was carried in for delivery? Could
you provide the MTDC study or a link so I can become more educated on
gel technology delivered by the air?
OK, I will add the 'year to date' tally for the Berdoo, actually the
Federal Interagency Communications Center housed on the San Bernardino,
but serving basically all of SoCal for the FS and BLM.
Federal Interagency Communications Center
Calendar 2005 (Prepared 08/24/2005 20:30)
Incident Type # of Incidents
Aircraft Down 15
Emergency Standby 7
Law Enforcement 5558
Medical Aid 422
Prescribed Fire 18
Public Assist 686
Resource Order 153
Search and Rescue 94
Smoke Check 12
Structure Fire 12
Traffic Collision 545
Vegetation Fire 320
Vehicle Fire 49
Total Incidents 8829
This info is easy to find, and it make me wonder, why certain folks
post before any research.
"Why can't we all just get along"
To all HR408 opponents and CDF True:
Can we please stop with the comparisons and run call totals as it has
nothing to do with why we deserve portal to portal? I just read Casey's
testimony and didn't see anything greedy about it. I don't think we do
the same thing or have the same responsibilities as CDF and we're not
asking to be treated like CDF. Casey's testimony was right on. If you
are to be away from home and limited as to your ability to pursue
business of a personal nature, you should be compensated.
It's true, we don't have the same responsibilities regarding all risk
assignments as CDF or local Gov coop's, we respond to them, but the
intent of our response is different, just as our duties on a Federal
wildland fire are different. For example, I may fly out to the most
remote part of a fire, stay there 4 days, sleep right next to the line
(in a safety zone), then fly back. Could I call home while in that
safety zone? No. Could I go to the store while in that safety zone? No.
Could I do anything that even remotely resembled personal business or
pleasure? No. But because I had a hot meal (MRE) and adequate shelter
(space blanket), it is a non compensable break. CDF True, when was the
last time you had an assignment like that? I doubt very recently for the
simple fact that no matter the hard ship or lack thereof, you were being
paid! As a side note, I went to a vehicle fire today outside our DPA, we
were first in and Veg was involved. We knocked down the Veg fire,
switched to Turnouts(with bunker boots!) and knocked down the vehicle
fire saving two racing motorcycles in the process. The local Gov BC on
scene said that we did it more text book than most of his own companies
would have. I then was unable to go home because by time I drove home
from my remote station I would have had to turn around and come right
back. Did I want portal to portal for that? No and I'm greedy?
I would like all supporters of 408 to send me pics of things you do on
assignment while "off the clock"(ab this is a spare address so you can
include it) and I will make a Powerpoint to illustrate just how "greedy"
Gel vs Retardant,
I just want to let everybody know I was on the Spruce fire with CDF last
week. As most everyone knows that Ukiah air attack base is full-on gel,
so with that, here I go.
I was on scene about 1 hour after initial report. The tankers were still
dropping red and blue goo. I was on the active flank and was just about
hit with gel, good thing he missed us, WHY?? Gel did not impress me, it
was chunky and too thick to coat the vegetation, it left the underside
of the brush very much dry. I do think for grass it will work great but
for moderate to heavy fuels, forget it. Gel also had a weird smell to
it; unlike the ammonia smell of phos-chek, this stuff is kinda well just
plain weird smelling. So for the future I hope most folks will try to
get out of the drop of gel. I dont think it will be very good to get hit
by it, unlike the glory juice of the old days, this stuff is nasty all
the way around......
I’ve got an opportunity to help prepare a portion of an upcoming fire
report commissioned by the governor of California to assess how
California prepares and plans wildfire management. I think this is also
a great opportunity to let firefighters (who really know what is
actually going on) have their say for a change.
Below is a brief description of what I am supposed to be addressing. If
any of you feel moved to express your thoughts, please do (especially
for numbers 3-7). They can be posted here or sent directly to me if you
would like complete confidentiality (email address below). I want my
report to reflect reality rather than what we usually get. In my short
career as a firefighter myself, I’ve experienced a definite disconnect
between what we know and what politicians and the press say. I’m tired
Now’s your chance…
The questions I will be focusing on…
1. Who is directly involved in the fire planning process (CDF, USFS,
local fire agencies, etc.)?
2. What other groups are involved (County Board of Supervisors,
insurance agencies, developers, regional planners, etc.)?
3. What kind of coordination exists between such entities?
4. Over what time horizons are plans made?
5. What information is used to plan over the short term/long term?
6. Is climate variability and or other future changes accounted for in
7. Vulnerabilities/assumptions of fire planning over the next 50 years?
Readers, this is a really worthwhile opportunity to be heard from
another direction. Rick is a strong
supporter of fire and has done much to educate the public and
politicians to the need
for fire in chaparral. He's also a member of this community. Ab.
Here are some figures for a slow forest.... about 12-15,000 people in the
two counties. This is for the Inyo N.F.
Calendar 2005 (Prepared 08/24/2005 11:11)
Inyo National Forest
Calendar 2005 (Prepared 08/24/2005 11:11)
Incident Type # of Incidents
Emergency Standby 1
Law Enforcement 504
Medical Aid 6
Prescribed Fire 9
Public Assist 22
Resource Order 81
Search and Rescue 38
Smoke Check 49
Structure Fire 1
Traffic Collision 8
Vegetation Fire 89
Vehicle Fire 3
Total Incidents 982
Good Byes for Ernie Johnson
Hi there - this message is for those who could not join us on Saturday
at the Ernie Johnson Memorial.
Tears were shed and stories were told. There was a huge gathering as we
estimate about 350 people attended at the Shelton Civic Center. Tributes
were paid by Ken Van Buskirk (posted below) and Julie Stewart (Julie's
Tribute to Ernie). Ernies children
Jessica and Eric -- spoke eloquently and courageously about their Dad. More
stories were shared. Becky Slick shared how Ernie as an Incident
instilled throughout his Incident Management Team that the firefighters
always came first - first in line for food - first to be taken care of.
Friendships of 25, 35 and 45 years were shared. The firefighting
both young and old were in attendance.
Racing and firefighting equipment
were laid out on an Olympic NF Forest Service blanket.... and newspaper
articles about Ernie's inventions, accomplishments and retirement were
lovingly displayed. The family created a very moving music and photo
tribute of his life. Flowers were everywhere and one of the most
featured a 12 inch Smokey Bear tucked into a floral display of bear
and sunflowers. Afterwards, several firefighters and friends and Ernie's
son Eric went to a friend's home and we sat around an outside fire and
swapped fire stories. Ernie would have loved it.
The family has designated the "52 club" as a place where folks may make
contributions in Ernie's memory. You can get further information by
Signed - Ernie's Friend
Thanks Ernie's Friend for keeping us
up-to-date. Thanks also to Julie and to Van B. What eloquent and
...And the circles on the surface of the pool move outward... Ab.
A Tribute to Ernie Johnson by Ken Van Buskirk
I had quite the adventure bringing Ernie's truck home, I know if he had
been with me he would have "MacGyver'ed" it together to get home.
As many of you know I am writing a book and the dedication reads,
"Dedicated to those who know the smell of woodsmoke, to those who have
tickled dragons, and to those who have touched firefighters lives."
Ernie did all three and so very much more.
The crew of the DC-3 were deeply honored to fly Ernie home the other
day, the more we talked the more we realized that maybe Ernie hadn't
touched their lives directly but others they knew had been touched. They each
knew someone that had worked with Ernie and it was very moving to me to
fly back with them.
Ernie Johnson, Paul Gleason, Walt Smith, their exploits are legendary,
they are my heroes. I feel so fortunate to call them friend. Their
memories live on in their family and friends and I hope to do them
justice in capturing their legacies in my book.
I was visiting with the family the other day, sharing stories and tears.
Ernie was so full of life and so full of mischief. I remember setting in
Red Devil Alaska waiting for a ride with Ernie at an airstrip with a
200' runway. This plane landed, it was a Turbine Porter , and it's
all-motor. We got on board; Ernie got up front with pilot. Plane doesn't
have the normal controls; it's got a stick like a helicopter. Ernie
turned, and with a twinkle in his eye told the pilot. "Let's see what
this can do" We went straight up!!!!!!
Ernie's dad Roy had that same twinkle, Eric has it, and I saw it in
Payton's eye when he told me his grandpa was building him an airplane.
Eric told me he never grew tired of his dad's stories even though he
heard them over and over. None of us did. Eric, he told them with such
passion that you know they were true and I'm here to tell you they are.
Whether he was fighting fires, burning slash, racing, hunting, or
fishing he lived life to the fullest. Savoring every precious moment.
loved his family and his friends and was so very proud of his children.
In his life's work he always put the safety of his folks first, we are
all family. I'm convinced he is the one that the MacGyver TV show was
based on. Whether it was by inventing the helitorch, or the laser
ignition system it was for the safety of his folks. It seemed like he
was always the first on the scene of an accident and risked his life for
others with little regard for himself.
Ernie Johnson will always be my friend and my hero.
Another source for fire photos.
Yep, that is a good site and a good resource. I'll bet those who keep
it up-to-date know how time-consuming it is to work on photos and photo
Out of the CDF Airbases using a water enhancer, (gel) only Ukiah and
Hollister are exclusive gel bases. Hemet, Grass Valley and Columbia
still have a long term product. At this time, if there is a fire on USFS
land, the USFS will only accept the first load of gel for initial attack
and then the Tankers must reload with long term. As Hemet, Grass Valley
and Columbia still have a long term fire retardant; they can still
reload the Tankers and fly a Federal incident.
Each of the CDF Airbases mentioned above is using a different water
enhancer product. The gels are mixed with the water using a variety of
processes and come as a liquid concentrate, powder or a crystal. The gel
is primarily a water thickener that contains super absorbent polymers.
Once on the ground, it holds water in suspension on the flammable
vegetation. This retards evaporation, prolonging availability of water
for heat absorption. Once all of the moisture has evaporated, the
residual chemical does not have any fire retardant or extinguishing
Can someone please give me info on how contract crews are ordered for
large incidents? Is the use of these crews a move to total contracting
out or just to fill an emergency need?
Is it done simply by nearest available resource, by some estimation of
cost VS benefit for a contract crew VS force account (FED agency crew)?
Where, if anyplace, does the number of agency sponsored Type 2 crews
figure in the mix?
Does anyone of them transition from contract crews to agency crews? For
example are many of the people hired by contractors first and then
moving on to seasonal or career Fed jobs based on this experience? Or,
are they staying with the contactors or going to different lines of
Any info, sources, contact would be very helpful.
After being gone for awhile It took me several hours to read and digest
the posts I had missed. To make sure I understand all of the threads
Let's see if I understand the issues...
If I slip on "blue Gel retardant" and sprain my ankle will someone come
and help me? If it's a Green white or yellow fed responder should I be
jealous if they support portal to portal? If the first person is a
contractor should I question her/his training to apply an Ace bandage?
If CDF comes to my rescue should I ask for a MSDS sheet on the
hmmm...me thinks I'll just lace my boots a little tighter, take an Advil
and walk back to my white agency pick-up and head on home and read a
ps...I echo Mellie's congrats to the fire fighters and managers on the
oh...another ps...I appreciate all flavors of private and agency folks
who provide emergency medical service, search and rescue, and all of the
other emergency responses they may be involved in. If you see me
stretched out along side of the road, trail or fire line please feel
free to perform basic or advanced life saving techniques on this tired
old body of mine.
While reading the discussions on numbers of incidents I noticed a tone
of disbelief on the part of some folks writing in.
Consequently, I took a few moments to dig out the most recent Angels
National Forest Stats. These came of the ANF web site about 0945, 24
August 05; shortly after they were posted.
The ANF dispatches for both the Angeles National Forest and the Santa
Monica Mountains NP. They do not dispatch for any local fire or police
agency. For some of these incidents cooperating agencies would be
notified. For example on the aircraft down and medical aid. The first
response however would have been by either FS or NPS personnel
From many years of work on the forest these figures are not out of the
ordinary for this time of year. The diversity of work and pace of
activity is way above that of what many may see as "traditional" FS
By way of comparison and to get these figures in perspective I would
suggest looking at a copy of the Annual Run Reports published in Fire
House Magazine. I haven't done this for several years but the last time
I made to comparison the ANF was way up the list in terms of fire
I would hope folks would step back and evaluate this in terms of the
skills, training and experience necessary to handle this number of
complex incidents. My guess is may of these skill are in no way
reflected in the current 462 Position Descriptions or performance
standards. Because of that lack there is very strong case for reform of
position descriptions, standards and an increase in pay to properly
compensate folks for the work they are actually performing. This lack
also hurts the FS as employees who gain these skills can easily market
them to municipal departments at a much higher pay rate. The FS loses
the skill and experience after a fairy significant investment. Staffing
levels are in constant flux, crew cohesion is hurt, and in turn safety
can be compromised.
Angeles National Forest
Calendar 2005 (Prepared 08/24/2005 07:53)
Incident Type # of Incidents
Aircraft Down 1
Emergency Standby 4
Law Enforcement 763
Medical Aid 238
Prescribed Fire 24
Public Assist 241
Resource Order 126
Search and Rescue 80
Smoke Check 37
Structure Fire 21
Traffic Collision 411
Vegetation Fire 188
Vehicle Fire 86
Total Incidents 3735
0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series
0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series
0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated.
Anyone hear about an AT down in NV?
Info on the SEAT crash was posted on the Hot List Forum yesterday.
Pilot walked away with minor injuries. Quick Google News search shows
this article Reno
Wow, it is amazing to me how much anger this portal to portal testimony has released, I barely know where to start.
For those non-feds who immediately want to know where their portal to portal legislation is, well first person I'd talk to is your boss, that is exactly what the FWFSA is doing for Federal Wildland Firefighters (Congress is our boss when it comes to these issues). If you are not a Federal employee and you don't get portal to portal, thats too bad, some employers are getting it for their
employees; if yours doesn't, it really isn't FWFSA's place to get it for you. Of course if we do get it, think how much easier your argument for it will be.
If contract firefighting is so much better than government crews, then how come the cities haven't gone for it, very few cities have experimented with this and I know of only a handful that stayed with it. Try mentioning Rural Metro in most city fire houses and count how many seconds it takes for them to deposit you roughly on the doorstep, at least most of us feds feel contractors have a place on the fireline.
CDF true and the others who claim to know what kinds of calls Federal Wildland Firefighters go
to better than we do, you would be surprised, we go to the same stuff you do, maybe not as many of the non wildland calls but we get alot more wildland experience than most of you, yet we don't claim you don't do wildland just because it is not your main thing. Educate yourselves before you proclaim us wildland only. A couple of years ago I went through my fire experience log and I found that even the years when I worked outside of R5 (where the USFS supposedly only does fire) I ran almost 50% medical aids most years. The simple fact is in many of the areas where we work, there is no "Fire Department" except for us, I have worked in several places where the USFS was the first in structure response, sometimes the first type 1 engine was 1 or 2 hours out. BLM also has many stations like this, particularly in the California Desert District, large sections of I-15 and I-40 only have fed wildland crews available to respond to accidents and fires.
CDF true you ask about our training. As permanent employees we are required to maintain Medical first responder (the same level of training required of many CA fire departments as well as your own agency, CDF), and Hazmat first responder operations, we also have a Suburban Emergency Response class which provides training in vehicle extrication and structural fire response. Many of us have training levels beyond these minimums.
As far as authority to respond to these calls, the FS manual mandates we assist local agencies to the best of our ability, we have jurisdiction anywhere in the US until a
representative of that jurisdiction arrives and accepts responsibility; if it takes 6 hours for the SAR team to arrive and take over, guess who is out there looking for a lost hiker, guess who is often asked to stick around since we know the area best and are often better equipped to get around the forest? Who do you think is on the ground to guide in that medivac ship and provide patient care while the other "local" fire departments make the 40 minute drive up the mountain to the Fed wildland station and then continue the additional 30 minutes past the station to the incident scene, and that is assuming they don't get stuck or lost. I've been on numerous medicals where we packaged the patient, landed the ship, loaded the patient and had them on their way before the first "real firefighter" was even on scene. Who's helicopter is often used to insert law enforcement personnel into the area to make a raid on a
marijuana plantation? Who is often asked to carry out a patient on a litter because the "real firefighters" can barely make the hike in and out carrying just their own gear.
As far as your question about aircraft accidents, have you ever worked at an airbase? well if you did (as many of our crews do) then maybe you would have been to a few aircraft accidents. The National Forests make great places to crash an aircraft, you see we have all these tall pointy things called trees and mountains, and also funny weather events and lots of cool stuff people in aircraft might fly just a pinch too close to while getting a better look, they also just happen to cover a huge area, in California the USFS alone covers nearly 1/5 of the states land, that is alot of inhospitable area to run out of gas or have engine trouble over, and unlike many rural areas there are not little airports scattered about to make an emergency landing at. Then there is that odd little bit about how we are generally the only ones around to go and look for that aircraft in a timely way. I believe the The Humbolt Toyabe is dispatched by the Sierra Front ECC (one of those listed earlier), that forest alone is 6.3 MILLION acres, alot of land to crash in (that is about 1/5 of CDF's entire jurisdiction).
Your comment about being one of 6 responders to a sprained ankle makes no sense, for one thing a mutual aid responder is called because they are
needed; if not somebody needs to be slapped for risking crews that are not
needed; usually the Fed wildland unit is on-scene long before all the other "real" firefighters, so just who was redundant on that response anyway?
If you think the portal to portal legislation is bad law that is one thing but to try and diminish the efforts of some of the finest people I've ever had the pleasure to work with because your ego can't accept that the green, yellow and white trucks of the Federal wildland agencies go to the same kinds of calls you do is just wrong.
I'm starting to wonder if all this hand wringing is in response to the possibility that the federal wildland school for firefighters will close its doors to their recruiters if we actually start to get paid a comparable wage.
A sad and kind of angry FED
Actually the only thing new is the blue. CDF has been testing all four of the USFS approved gels for a couple of years now, both on the ground and in the air. All the gels have been thru the Missoula lab extensive program and testing process to make sure they don't kill fish and critters. Like it or not, us firefighters are just critters. What you should be worried about is not what is dropping on you now but what was dropped on you for the past 50 years. Kudos to CDF for leading us in the 21st century.
I had an opportunity to use the Thermo Gel on structure protection this past spring in South Dakota. It worked great and the clean up was better than I expected - washing right off with a 1" line. It wasn't blue, however I understand that the blue is just for aviation applications and that the pilots really like it. As far as the MSDS goes, the SD guys checked it out o.k. and I'm sure the CDF admin has checked it out. I do know the old retardant is nasty stuff.
I have not looked at your book or your narrative yet but I surely will. I loved the Midwest Book Review that said, "Hotshots! is a simple and engaging picturebook for beginning readers..." I have a few cousins and children of friends who might like to read the book when they get old enough.
I guess a picture is worth a thousand words if people can't read and comprehend things at such an early stage of development. The reading level for your book is described as years four through eight by the publisher. I am not sure if that is related to the age of the reader or the number of years someone has been a wildland firefighter <tongue in cheek>.
I will make no further comments until I receive it in the mail. The intent of the book was obviously noble and it got good reviews by Amazon.
I just got off the phone with a good friend of mine, an FS Engine Captain who routinely responds to TCs, medical aids, etc. as the first engine in, and he is so disgusted with a certain posters ignorance and adversarial stance that he said he is avoiding TS until said
poster's drivel passes.
'Tis said when someone elicits such a reaction...
CDF True, I ask you, what is your agenda here?
"Why can't we all just get along?"
Check out these blue gel drops from bard, originally from fyr pilot.
Blue Gel 4 and
Blue Gel 6
I added them to AirTankers
19 photo page. Ab.
I don't want to be rude but I am going to tell you something that may be
hard to listen to. Your facts were assumptions and not researched well
enough. EMSA (Emergency Medical Services Authority) is the
enabling body for local EMSA agencies. The CA State EMSA does not
provide authorization to individual responders, only direction,
guidance, and policy to individual local certifying agencies.
I can't speak for others but the federal wildland agency I work for has
a B.L.S. (Basic Life Support) provider number through the Inland
County Emergency Services Agency (ICEMA). The minimum level of training
for our fire personnel is either EMT or Medical First Responder. The
enabling document for our response to taxpayer needs is our agency
mission statement...... "Caring for the land, serving people". Other
land management agencies have similar mission statements. The thought
behind serving people is best said as, "The greatest good for the
greatest number of people in the long run".
As far as what the taxpayers want... I would say they would probably
want any completely trained and equipped responder, regardless of agency
to respond if they need help. Do you think the CDF engine that rolled
off Interstate 15 a few years ago, cared that a federal wildland fire
agency was one of the first agencies on scene? I was the second person
on scene behind a County Battalion Chief. Do you think that the families
that are injured while recreating on or passing through federal lands
care if a federal wildland firefighter responds first or if they wait
for 15-30 or more minutes (in the case of the Mojave Desert and other
remote areas of the country up too an hour or more) for a county or CDF
engine to respond? It is all part of the closest forces concept.... it
is part of the California Fire Assistance Agreement language.... (hint,
do you remember that discussion last year?)
The National Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Academy requires
completion of Medical First Responder as part of the basic fire academy.
It is taught primarily so we can treat our own personnel, but it is only
ethical that if we are trained, equipped, and the closest available
resource, that we respond. We also respond when requested for mutual aid
as you have said.
As far as 15 airplane crashes... it is true. The FICC (Federal
Interagency Communication Center) dispatches a large area of desert
and mountains in Southern California that are major transportation
corridors between the LA basin and Las Vegas and Phoenix.. The FICC ONLY
dispatches federal resources, if you see an incident number assigned, it
meant that a federal unit responded.
My background.... besides being qualified in Wildland Fire (not being
pompous here, just wanting to show that the wildland fire agencies, at
least in my area, are not what you are assuming they are):
California Certified Firefighter 1 and 2
Emergency Medical Technician
HAZMAT First Responder - Operational
Swiftwater Rescue Technician
Former Rescue Systems 1 Instructor
Former qualified ARFF (Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter)
Former Medical First Responder Medical Instructor
I have some photos if you would actually like to see federal wildland
firefighters performing the things that you don't think they do. Would
that be factual enough for you?
Take care and keep safe, don't make this "us vs. them"... we are all
part of the wildland fire community.
Congrats to all working so long and hard on the Blossom Complex!
I look at that terrain and I am really impressed. I got word
declared at 1800 hours today. Mop up and rehab efforts are under
way. Evacuations and Rogue River closures were lifted at 0800."
congrats for doing it safely!
Steve M, by "wildland firefighters", I know you're including the
equivalent, aren't ya? If you're not, we be in a heap 'o trouble!
Recently I pledged $1 per mile to Ken's run, but in an effort to help
reach the goal of $1000 per mile, I'm increasing my pledge.
pledge the equivalent of 2 months of my recent pay raise, of $72 per
month, for a total of $144, or in other words $2.77 per mile.
If someone is willing to match me dollar for dollar, I'll pledge an
additional 4 months of my pay raise.
(sorry Lobotomy, that still doesn't equal your $10; but it does show
that FS Division Chiefs don't make that much more than their Engine
not doing the job for the money
Good one. I might just have to dig deeper! Congrats on your
We're pleased to announce National Fire Fighter Corp. is now sponsoring
the entire collection of Engine Photo Pages. National Fire Fighter
Corporation offers a wide variety of wildland fire fighting supplies and
products at competitive pricing. See their website at
http://www.nationalfirefighter.com to browse and shop online. You
can even request a catalog while you're there.
To All Interested Folks:
The next California Firefighters Memorial ceremony will be held on
Saturday, October 15, 2005 in Capitol Park in Sacramento California.
This annual ceremony honors not only those names of fallen firefighters
from California already on the memorial wall, but is used to honor those
that have died in the line of duty the preceding year by inclusion of
their names on the wall.
This year, one of the names to be added to the wall is that of Daniel
Holmes, member of the Arrowhead Hotshots who, as many of you recall, was
killed last October. Obviously family of all those lost this past year
will be invited by the California Fire Foundation and firefighters as
well as friends are certainly encouraged to attend. As soon as I have
additional information on the time of the event I'll post it.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (916) 515-1224
or Kelley Koll, Program Director at (916) 921-9111 or 800-890-3213.
Original Ab note:
There are still a few categories of photo pages available for
sponsorship. Pricing is currently around 2-3 cents per 1,000 banner
email@example.com for quotes.
Speaking of photos. . .long time readers here will remember our website
was the first to accept and publish wildland fire photos on the
Internet. A quick survey shows our, or should I say your, collection
has grown to over 3,000 photos. For those interested in what it takes
to catalog, publish, store, and maintain a collection this size, here
are some stats. Our main /pics directory where all the photos reside,
A best guess is that it takes between 7-10 minutes to save, create a
thumbnail image, resize the original photo, upload both images to the
server, add the thumbnail to the photo page, add the description to the
appropriate page, create the link from the thumbnail to the large photo, input the text and link to the description page under the
thumbnail, and announce it here. That would mean there have been somewhere in the
neighborhood of 350-500 hours spent working on the photo pages. While I
don't do it much anymore, I do appreciate my partner's hard work and
dedication in getting the photos up as fast as is possible! Thank you
Ab, for maintaining the world's largest collection of wildland fire
- 247 sub-folders
- 10,807 files
- occupies 173 megabytes of space
- used 23 gigabytes of bandwidth during the month of July
Ab Note: Thanks OA. You're right on the time
involved as you well know from the early days... but the rewards are
great. Besides enjoying looking at them myself, I get personal
satisfaction in knowing they get used for nonprofit purposes - in
firefighting training every winter, for presentations large and small
by firefighters to each other and to the public, by fire ecologists and
older students, by kids making websites for school projects, by agency
fire management talking to congress, in parts and pieces in university
fire training websites. Soon I hope, some will be on display on walls at
the Fire Academy in Sacramento. I need to get back in touch with the
person putting that together... FYI, I am checking with contributors on
those photos of interest to make sure we have go-ahead.
Firefighters, if you have any opportunities left in the season to
take high resolution, large size action photos of firefighters working
or crews walking in a line or with their engine or helicopter, etc,
please send them in. I'm looking for photos that inspire those at the
Academy, educate the Public and get the old dogs that walk the halls to
stop and remember. I think I'm caught up on photos to be posted here
(more or less, as much as I can be...).
In the Ruth Enginecrew photo, the 2nd from the left is John Arrigoni,
the 2nd from the right is Mary Brooks. I'm doubting the date of 1977,
because the guy in the white t-shirt looks like Chris Griggs, and he
didn't start until 1980. The guy in the headband looks like Marvin
Curry, who started in '82 or '83. So, If these are these folks, the date
could be as late as 1983. -
Just a couple of comments on HR-408,
First to address the thought that militia will have less incentive to
hit the fireline to incur hazard pay, cause their payroll deductions
would increase: The solution to this seems simple. If a person's
position description isn't covered as a primary or secondary firefighter
position (there's that firefighter word again), their hazard pay isn't
withheld from their payroll deduction as retirement income, rather just
normal income. Seems to me a simple "if/then" line of coding added to
the current financial software program could figure that out easy
Next, the fear of folks retiring early due to 3 consecutive years of
high hazard pay accumulation: This also seems easily overcome or
negotiated. One option would be to not include the hazard pay in the
"high 3" retirement formula, but to base it over the entire career of
the employee. For example, there could be minimum and maximum hourly
annual qualifiers. Each year a firefighter meets the minimum
requirements, they get a higher percentage added to the final retirement
calculation. The possible solutions to this issue and how to make it
fair seem endless. I think most would agree that those who spend more
time in harms way during their careers are justified in receiving higher
retirement than those unwilling to sacrifice the comfiness of their own
homes and daily routines.
As for the concept of folks not stepping up to management level
positions for fear of missing the hazard pay: The above paragraph would
solve part of the issue. My opinion is that firefighters leave or stay
on the fireline for many different reasons. The most common reason for
leaving I've observed is that they become an expert in what they are
doing and require new challenges. Another common reason is their bodies
tell them it's time to spend more time behind a desk, this may be
voluntary or involuntary. Or, like myself, maybe they just get tired of
babysitting and sleeping in the dirt. And, there are many who just don't
have the skills, ability, or other qualities to assume management duties
and responsibilities. Or, there are some who promote to a certain level
and enjoy it so much, they never want to promote again.
While I never met any firefighters who hated their job, I also never met
any who were willing to do it for free, at least not on a continuing
basis. HR 408 is simply another step to help provide fair financial
compensation to those willing to meet the high social, familial, mental,
and physical demands of the fireline. If you're not a wildland
firefighter, stop cluttering the board. I'm probably not interested in
what you have to say, cause you most likely lack the knowledge or
perspective to form a credible opinion. If you are a wildland
firefighter and dislike the concept of HR 408, please feel free to start
your own organization and make it your mission to have your region
excluded from the bill. If you are a wildland firefighter and think you
are already handsomely compensated for your work, please take any extra
money you receive due to the efforts of the FWFSA and your fellow
firefighters and donate it to your favorite charity (the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation comes quickly to mind).
Examine closely what is being said here and in the many available links
to other documents. Consider carefully the motivation and purpose behind
the comments, opinions, or offered statistics. Get out of the box and
think for yourself. I don't see any sharks in this swimming pool, jump
Recruitment bulletins for the Apprenticeship Program are now open for
Regions 1, 4, 5, and 6 and can be found at
Once again the Region 5 announcement is a short one. Applications must
postmarked by September 2. If anyone has questions about the
Program feel free to e-mail me at cescott @ fs.fed.us . Questions about
application process should be directed to the contact person in the
We are almost 1/5th of the goal for the run that Ken Perry is undertaking for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation... I encourage everyone, regardless of agency, goals, or affiliation. to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. It is a foundation that supports all of us in times of need. As the Wildland Firefighter Foundation supports us, we also need to support them.
The goal is $1000 dollars per mile pledge. We are almost 1/5th of the way there... Lets show what the wildland fire community is made of... dig deep and give what you can for your family , friends, and co-workers... Lets show we are all united towards the basic goals of security and safety for our families.
Please, Readers, let family, friends and co-workers know. Ab.
Who are the IHC supts that are respected and you would want on your division working with you?
RE: HOTSHOTS! review
I am the author of the book in question. The review was passed along to me
by <snip>. I was shocked at how the book was slammed.
First of all, I don't think the reviewer bothered to read the author's note
that talks specifically about what hotshots do, which would've made clear
the intent of what groundpounders et al do.
Backing up, this was the third book on fire I did, the first being (based on
my experience as an urban firefighter with some wildland firefighting
experience-FIREFIGHTERS A TO Z which was a New York Times best seller. The
second was SMOKEJUMPERS ONE to TEN. In the former I used my own experience.
For the second I spent time at the USFS base in Redding CA, the visit
organized by Chuck Sheley, VP/ NSA. Ironically, when I told Chuck about the
hotshots idea he contacted a couple of people in this field hoping to link
them up with me. I never heard from anyone. I also got zero response from a
number of hotshot bases around the west. Doing research through books and
this website and also talking with a supervisor at the Vermont Fire Academy
(I live in NH and had gone through this academy when I became a firefighter
while living in VT), as well as sharing my idea, information and art with
Chuck Sheley, all gave me a thumbs-up on the book.
The reviewer picked apart the storyline, adding that the deployment of fire
shelters was as if it was a daily occurrence, clearly should the ignorance of
the reviewer. In telling a story for kids about hotshots, was to show what
can happen, not what always happens. And the deployment of the shelters was
to show, IF a blow-up happens, that there is a way for them to protect
themselves and in the author's note, I explain it's not intended as really
anything but a last resort as the training includes being able to read a
fire to avoid such situations.
The story shows what can happen and how quickly things can happen, how the
use of backburns with drip torches and fusees are tools to deprive a fire of
fuel, one of the three ingredients, as you well know, of the fire pyramid.
The book was gotten starred reviews and been heralded by the wildland
firefighers I know. Obviously I can't please everyone but to condemn it as
being full of false information and therefore not an educational tool for
kids is subject to opinion. So few books for kids on this aspect of
firefighting have been done and my intent was to give credit and praise to
all the hotshots out there, not to antagonize them. I stand by the book and
its content knowing I did get support and guidance from those in the know.
The process of every book I do on real life adventures means talking and
spending time with those individuals who do their brand of work. A book on
Coast Guard rescue came out June '04 based on hours, not only talking with
pilots and crew, but flying with them. The book was so well received by the
USCG, I received a personal thank-you from the USCG Commandant/Washington
I book on Hurricane Hunters is due out next June, again based on my personal
experience with them. The story and art are done and have been shared with
them. Again the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
What does it show? Only that through cooperation can a book truly be
successful. Chuck Sheley and I were extremely disappointed not a single
hotshot out west responded to our requests. Still, the book in our opinion,
is an accurate reflection of the good work you people do.
With best wishes,
I was cleaning out old files and found this email from several
weeks ago which I'd forgotten. You can find the zero saws review on the kids
books review page. The reason I didn't post this message when it
came in was because I wanted to get the book, read it and see if I
agreed with the reviewer. I did that. The book is as the reviewer
describes it. Does that matter for little kids? I think if we're trying
to clearly establish an environment of safe and professional wildland
firefighting, it does. Has anyone else read this book? Thoughts? Ab.
So I guess the new saying is put the blue stuff on the red stuff?
I have been to trade shows where I have seen Chad from Thermo-Gel eat some of the Gel, i have also seen the Gel put on a stick and a burner at 1500 hit it for more then 20 seconds with no burn-though. I also think that Thermo-gel has done quite a bit of testing, so it should be ok for the land.
Also what is up with the fire season in the Northwest, Its time to start packing the warm sleeping bag in the 14 day bag.
Looked like I pushed a button with you. Yes...you are right, I am assuming your stats are incorrect (which is why I asked the QUESTION), based on the fact that if an ECC is dispatching a medical aid or traffic collision in the National Forest, they are dispatching a local government or CDF Schedule A piece of equipment. A FS piece of equipment may go to the call based on a mutual aid plan, but they do not have the EMSA or local taxpayers authority or responsibility for that patient. That is a FACT.
If you dispute that, then show me the FS policy that gives them statutory responsibility for EMS at any minimum level ACROSS THE BOARD (not forest to forest local rules). There is more to the responsibility of being an All Risk department than just turning your red lights on because you are the sixth engine into a sprained ankle at the local campground. You show multiple aircraft crashes in one season for all your dispatch
centers.......... I have been in the department for alot of years in the Schedule A and B side, rural and metro, and have never once been to a plane crash!
By the way.....I AM researching your research...........stand by!
There was a link to a small fire grant program near the first of August, if I remember correctly.
I can't seem to find it now. Help, please.
Take a look at the CA
Fire Alliance website under resource guide (pdf file). From what I
understand, this is going to be updated in the next few weeks, but it is
excellent info. Ab.
I read what you said to vfd and it made me very mad.
It should not matter whether you are a volunteer or a "paid" FS FF, we all do the same job of putting out fires. Something else you need to look at is alot of volunteers are willing to go to bat to support those who are on FS pay roll and to fight laws and bills that would hurt ANY FF.
Come on people its time to stop the attacks on each and realize no matter what aspect of the fire world we are in we are still a brotherhood/sisterhood and remember
"Together We Stand, Divided We Fall"
From Radio Guy
Here is the preliminary report that the FAST team presented to the NMAC on Friday, and to an Area Command Team on Sunday. An action plan is being developed by the AC team to try and get things improved nationally.
Communications, FAM Safety Team
Re blue gel
Copter 100, last I heard is that Hemet-Ryan Air Attack Base was
not going to be using the "gel" this year.... too many environmental
and safety concerns still left unaddressed?
Re blue gel
I have to wonder about the safety of the gel myself. The FAQ’s page says that the “gel” is 95% water but the Material Safety Data Sheet (Only a portion of it is available through the website of ThermoGel) says it is 20-30% polyacrylate polymer, 20-30% petroleum hydrocarbons, and 1-5% surfactant. I care about the environment, but I care a whole lot more about the people that that “blue stuff” is being dropped on.
The MSDS says that there are no carcinogens in the product. Did petroleum hydrocarbons somehow get overlooked? They must have been the good kind of hydrocarbons and not the bad polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or the various other bad hydrocarbons that cause cancer? But they did mention the mist that is produced by the product when it is dropped from the air and the inhalation hazards. They also mentioned the “mild” hydrocarbon “smell” with out even studying the fact that if you drop it from the air upon firefighters, they will ingest it. If there is a hydrocarbon “smell” that is available to the senses or a route of entry through ingestion, I need to know a whole lot more about the product before I will let my folks let people drop that “blue gel” on them or me.
> From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control…
The reason that the Federal Agencies and the CDF are at odds with the technology is that that “gel” has not been properly researched… the effects upon the people and the environment have not been adequately tested and documented.
Sign me… not a guinea pig to save a buck or two for CDF if it compromises safety without Safety or Environmental review,
… do the research before you try to save a buck or two at the expense of safety and the environment…. Convince us it is safe before we are used as guinea pigs for the safety of the product or how it will save the taxpayers money. You already presented the facts about how the
product works so good... Is it safe for the people it is applied upon and the environment?
You said, "I seriously questions the calls listed on "researchers" post unless it was an interagency ECC dispatching local government and CDF resources. Just a light hearted
question....... this should be fun!"
Simple answer: Facts speak a whole lot louder than opinions or assumptions. Do some research to find out if your hypothesis is correct. (hint... you will find that
your hypothesis is incorrect.)
Here's your link:
The CDF Air Tankers based at Ukiah AAB are using blue as a coloring agent.
The other CDF Air Attack Bases that are gel only are:
Grass Valley AAB
At least the militia can take comfort in knowing that HR 408 was born of good intentions. As you said:
"The original intent of the legislation was to apply the provisions of the bill to all employees of land-management agencies who respond to emergency incidents...."
As written, HR 408 sends the message that "bean counters and bureaucrats" (as you so often refer to the opponents of your bill) are not needed in wildland fire, simply because their job description is not primarily fire. I may not speak for federal wildland firefighters, but I can speak for the wildland firefighting community in saying that we need to inspire all land agency employees to become involved with fire and their supervisors to allow that involvement. This is not just something we can blame on OPM.
One need look no farther than the Cramer Fire to see a prime example. The lack of available operational and logistical support was clearly causal in overwhelming an IC and the tragedy that resulted. Perhaps those resource orders could have actually been filled that day or the day before, but on many fires we've never heard of, similar requests return "Unable To Fill." They are UTF, while people in nearby federal offices go about their daily routine.
We can't afford to write the militia off.
Hi vfd cap'n. HR 408 was not designed for primary firefighters
only. Federal employees who respond to emergency incidents include the
agencies' "militia" who are not primary fire -- such as those
who work on fire incidents as dispatchers, camp supply, security
managers, finance folks, etc. It may include the ranger and wilderness
person who act as public information officers or the timber beast that
fills in temporarily on a hotshot crew. The bill, as Kent Swartzlander
and Casey wrote it, has every intent to include "all employees of land-management agencies
who respond to emergency incidents." When the bill passes
and OPM is tasked with implementing the requirements, if they don't get
it right, it will go back to Pombo for technical amendment if necessary.
Thanks for the photo. I have heard that the gel is very hard to get off of the people and clothing it has been dropped on. I have also heard that the use of gel as a suppressant and retardant is being hotly debated because of its potential lack of environmental and safety studies.
These comments may be just from people who are resistant to change saying these things, so I want to find out if this is a fact.
Everyone, does anyone know what type of gels are being used by the CDF airtanker fleet (name, manufacturer, version, etc.)?
Concerning "Blue Retardant" Yes CDF is using a new gel retardant. Not
bases have it yet, still using up the old stuff and bases that are CDF
still use the red retardant. But seeing is believing....
I put it on AirTanker
19 photo page. Ab.
Yep, lots of Gardens in the Deer fire area. IC Team had standing orders
for crews to leave area if they ran into any, and they ran into quite a
few. LE made several arrests. Took alot of coordination with the Law
Enforcement folks. This issue is always around whenever fighting fire in
the Emerald Triangle, but seemed very prevalent in this area. Bottom
folks worked in an unusual situation and did it safely.
I have been reading they said since its beginning. It took someone like
yourself, making these
comments for me to write for my first time. I can't understand what you
have against the blossom
fire. Please let us know where you are coming from. Do you really have
experience fighting fire
in the Klamath Mountains. Whats it to you if crews take a little longer so
that they come home safe?
Take Old Logger up on his offer, or quit whining.
Is it true that eventually everyone has their button pushed? Boots
are a good offer. If Viejo writes back, I will copy and paste his reply
in an email to you. Ab.
I am truly sorry if it seemed in my last letter that I was trying to
down slap municipal departments. That is not the case. I believe that in
a WUI environment both Wildland and Structure agencies are essential to
operations. We both compliment each other well. Where we are weak, you
are strong and vice versa. You have a great union just wish we were
capable of having the same. In the end everyone has to play by the rules
they are given.
Just for your reference I work for the fed. I received my Hazmat
Technician in April of this year and I am an EMT and structure FFT1. I
used to be an intermediate, but this state doesn't support EMT-I
program. I don't deal with GSW, but on a recent tour to SE Arizona, I
almost became one. It seems like you would like to imply that my job is
inherently less dangerous than yours. I hope you realize that this is
not the case. Our crew here also assists the two local counties and the
national park with about 1/3rd to 2/3rds of their SAR calls. Plus you
can't beat the Initial attack side of the job. 3 days on the plateau you
and one other person working a small fire. In places most people, even
the most hardcore, don't even travel. Why would I find another job? I
love this one. I'm not asking to get paid 4,500 a month for what I do.
Just enough to live on and show that I am appreciated.
To all those that frequent They Said, I offer my apologies in advance
for this post. I did my very best to be cordial to those that have
offered opposing viewpoints on HR 408 and the FWFSA's efforts and
objectives by offering myself up to them via phone or e-mail address.
Predictably, some who are consumed with wanting to hear themselves or
see themselves in/on a public forum despite the nonsensical and
uneducated opinions they present still insist on continued postings
behind screen names. Thus the following:
Dear vfd cap'n: (AKA <snip>, a volunteer firefighter from
Nothing wrong with volunteer firefighters. They formed the foundation of
the American fire service, compliments of Benjamin Franklin. What is
disconcerting is a volunteer firefighter claiming to know all about a
bill that he had nothing to do with regarding its drafting, is not even
a federal wildland firefighter let alone a federal employee of any kind,
who wants the readers of this forum to believe he knows and understands
OPM, the intent and consequences of HR 408, and...most egregiously,
suggests the legislation needs a second and third look "before WE step
off the edge." You are not a federal wildland firefighter or even an
employee of a federal land-management agency. Surely you are not
suggesting that you are part of the federal wildland firefighting
community... Are you?
Let's try this again. HR 408 was written by federal wildland
firefighters for federal wildland firefighters. The original intent of
the legislation was to apply the provisions of the bill to all employees
of land-management agencies who respond to emergency incidents, despite
the fact that most of the dues paying members of the FWFSA are 0462
Forestry Technicians eligible for the federal government's special
You sir, are none of the above. Therefore, I don't understand the "we"
in your post.
Although you've posted on They Said for some time, eventually if you
become embroiled in a debate, the readers of this forum will form their
opinions and understanding of issues based upon the credibility of the
writer, their experience, and the respect he or she has earned as a
result of what they do for others... not just themselves.
With all due respect to your service as a volunteer firefighter and
creator of the <snip>, I firmly believe that my credibility and
knowledge of the issues of this bill, the needs and issues of federal
wildland firefighters, my experience with and understanding of the
federal political process and dealing with government bureaucracies, FAR
Thus unfortunately, although it may have been your intent to be heard on
this forum, I would suspect that most will now simply skip by your
postings and instead read and rely upon those who have demonstrated they
know what they are talking about and who are providing valuable
information to the wildland firefighting community. Unfortunately, when
it comes to HR 408 and the federal government, you are doing neither.
So let's start from the top shall we:
HR 408 will discourage agency militia in fire. Is the already
significantly declining number of militia now responding to fires a news
headline to you? This decline has been going on for years and years. The
reasons are as varied as the occupations of those who respond to fires
as a collateral duty. HR 408, if anything, would encourage the
militia... if your apparent friends at OPM write the implementing
regulations as intended.
Speaking of OPM, if you were a federal employee, especially a
firefighter whether you be wildland, structural, aircraft-rescue, you
would know damn well that OPM is not your friend and anything they say
in a bunch of you-know-what.
Thank goodness Congress doesn't place much credence in what OPM has to
say about pay reform measures. If congress blindly believed OPM like you
do, we wouldn't have seen pay reform for federal DoD firefighters in
1998 and we wouldn't have seen the elimination of the overtime pay cap
for federal (there's that "F" word again) wildland firefighters in
2000.. Let's see, I testified on both instances...want to talk
Let me provide a basic politics 101 class for you. The subcommittee
staff and chairman knew exactly what the issues were regarding HR 408
well before the hearings as I have been working with the subcommittee
for years. They also knew what OPM's position would be before the
hearings. Even I knew what OPM would say and challenged that position to
the point that the Director of OPM invited me to meet with him on July
8th in DC. By the way for your information, the Director is at the
top...Kichak is a wee bit lower... The subcommittee, in no way blindly
follows OPM on these things. They take OPMs response on pay reform
issues for what it is...bureaucratic rhetoric.
I dare say that if I or others who worked to bring pay reform to federal
firefighters in the past simply took OPM's commentary as you do, we'd be
where we were 15 years ago. Thus, if you truly believe the bureaucratic
rhetoric of OPM, than your "we" becomes "you" as fortunately, real
federal employees know that OPM is not a "friendly agency."
Quite candidly, I spoke to the Director about these "checklist items" in
July and politely called them a crock of #*!% along with other data from
their position paper and categorically refuted each and every "theory"
With all due respect, in regards to HR 408, you are not "we" so you
don't have anything to worry about. You are not eligible for the
benefits and I doubt you'd be affected by it at all.
However, if you feel the necessity to look at it 100 times, go right
ahead. We'll simply move along doing what we do for our federal wildland
firefighters. By the way, the next time I speak to the OPM Director or
Ms. Kichak, I'll pass along your warmest regards.
You've got my number...but I'm not holding my breath...
Ab had to employ a couple of snips... Please, let's keep this
I took your advice vfd cap'n.
I read Ms. Kichak's testimony and I disagree.
She states that other people required to work in remote locations would
then need portal-to-portal pay. I've worked with rangers (not LE) and
others required to work in remote locations. On their off hours there
no restrictions in drinking, LE patrols around their camps, no going off
camp during off hours, etc. Having been in both situations I think if
want to control the off hours like local/state government employees then
they should start looking at doing it legally with portal to portal. I
been personally told that I can not drink while on assignment- even in
off hours outside of camp without having to drive. Legally I don't
they have the right to do that unless they are paying me.
As to the statement "we believe it would be inappropriate to provide
hazardous duty pay for sleep and rest periods".... I thought the bill
to set basic portal to portal pay rates. I find this a slightly
I also am curious where OPM found the "quit rate" or turnover rate for
wildland firefighters. Turnover of five to seven percent for seasonals
seems awfully low to me. Are they looking at forestry/range technicians
overall?- this position description is used for more than just wildland
firefighting jobs. Are they looking at a quit rate of during the season?
are they looking at fire positions throughout the various agencies over
time. I feel that if a qualified captain does not return to his seasonal
job the following year due to joining the state- that should be counted.
Numbers are like maps- you can keep changing and reclassifying till they
prove your point. I can see where people could agree with Ms. Kichak's
testimony if they were not a fed and did not have personal experience
(dealing with OPM) to compare her apples to oranges. They once told me
position could never be above a GS-9 due to a court case 5 years prior
technology changing our workforce... a few years later there are people
that same classification at GS-11/12/13+. This happened because we
OPM's case was outdated, wrong, and times have changed. Here's to
it for the wildland firefighters!
Keep it up Casey and FWFSA.
Okay off the soapbox,
I was in the area of Ukiah Ca. a couple of weeks ago and s CDF A/T
dropping Blue color something? Has the Retardant changed colors?
Anybody have any information this?
I'm not sure which contractors that the fwfsa has demonstrated
can replace with a gs-4 and a skateboard. I am positive if a complete
cost analysis and performance evaluation would show that contractors can
do most jobs asked them and be at least as competent as any other
resources available. Some are better then others, any kind of resources,
but the poor performers will be weeded out if the CORs and FMOs do their
job. Several years ago Congress decided to reduce the federal workforce,
the latest round was called reinvention. That process made the workforce
smaller, recently legislation has increased funding for federal wildland
agencies to achieve MEL. Minimum or maximum efficiency level, depending
on how you look at it. They have all the 8 hour a day help they said
they needed. But I guess the fwfsa wants more. I am on the associations
side being a fftr for a while but they should rejoice to have the help
available to them through the contracting and cooperator arena. I do not
advocate federal workforce reductions and more contractor firefighting,
but I think the administration does.
Did ya hear that Haliburton just invested in water tenders? ha!
I made a three (to scale) maps of Ken's run.
They are in PDF format
Start (1:24,000) 36x44
Finish (1:24,000) 36x44
overall run (1:150,000) 11x17
I've been having trouble sending them over e-mails so I'm putting them
an FTP site for you to check out.
I like the hand-drawn map but I was playing with the route already so I
thought I'd send these in too.
Thank you kindly. Ab.
Ab, and anyone who wonders about the true cost of a Type I Interagency
My crew is funded for 110 days of availability and the total budget is
$420,000. This includes all funding for the crew, supplies,
facilities, training, vehicles and overhead (rake off the top for multi
funded personnel such as time keepers, supervision (ADFMO), unemployment
costs, office space, office equipment etc.) Personnel costs for Two PFTs
Supt and Asst. Supt., 3-13/13 Squadleaders, 3-13/13 Senior Firefighters,
12 TEMP firefighters.
This amount is only for 8 hour base pay days. I have no funding to cover
any overtime. So figure $3818.00 a day for a self sufficient, highly
motivated, mobile, professional, elite firefighting unit.
For this paltry amount an incident gets the following experience and
2 ICT3, 4 ICT4, 3 ICT5, 2 DIVS,1 RXB1, 1 RXB2, 3 CRWB, 2 STLC,
1DOZB, 2 ENGB, 3 FELB, 6 FALC, 8 FALB, 7 FFT1, 4 FFT2, 3 EMTB, 1
6 HECM with Longline capabilities and a partridge in a pear tree.
Any ordering unit is getting more than their money's worth.
I would say that most IHC crews have similar (and some higher) numbers
highly qualified wildland fire professionals on their manifest.
Bring on all comparisons of cooperators and contract resources. I
that the IHCs provide your best value for the dollar in any wildland or
Good grief Ab,
Ya leave the internet behind for the weekend and it takes over an hour to
catch up on theysaid.
Casey, thanks for what you do for us. Retention of FS Firefighters,
BLM, etc is very poor.
Having to hire and train new recruits costs taxpayers lots of dough.
FWFSA has some
solutions we're working on to retain and maintain a safe and
professional work force.
It ain't easy,
but it is necessary.
Thanks for the info.
Can anybody who was on the Deer Fire give us an update on how that went?
I heard there were lots of pot farms that made things a wee bit hazardous.
Stay the course.
Long time member FWFSA
Does anyone know who is in this picture of the Ruth Lake engine crew
in 1977 on
Engines 15? Some folks look mighty familiar.
Kind sir - if you have the inkling and time to come up with a solution
the Blossom Fire, I will personally ship you my custom 16" White,
direct from me to Ab to you. One condition, lay off the Blossom
firefighters until it is vis-a-vis; ergo the boots are yours so you can
speak as freely with your feet, as you do with your obnoxious
A few fires in SW OR. in the past 2 decades:
1987 - Silver Fire, 70+ days / 22.Million dollars - start date -- Aug.
1989 - Chrome Fire - 14+ days // Late October - season ending event put
199? - Mendenhall Fire - very remote fire, costly air operation,
tactical fire use fire.
2002 - Biscuit - 500,000 acres - $400,000,000.
2005 - Blossom>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
What makes these fires so costly. And ask this question next: How many
died on any of these fires?
The cost of doing business safely is a cost you can not put a limit on.
To understand fire behavior in the Klamath Knot, its network of peaks
rivers, and its geology, hydrology and exposures - just go there.
Because you sure don;'t sound like you understand the words "remote"
"accessibility" and risk mitigation."
thank you and have a nice day.
HR 408 is a form of downhill line construction: it appears to be a
quick, simple solution, but carries great risk and can make the overall
problem much worse.
I encourage people to read OPM's testimony from Nancy Kichak
In concise language she presents a checklist of reasons why HR 408 is a
bad idea. Notably, it will discourage agency militia involvement in
fire, encourage early retirement following heavy fire years, and
increase payroll deduction (retirement portion of hazard pay) from
firefighters who may not reap additional retirement benefits or actually
get much portal-to-portal increase.
Worst of all, when coupled with added educational requirements of IFPM,
it will create a huge disincentive for highly knowledgeable and
competent firefighters to leave the fireline and switch to fire
management or line officer positions. There is already a void in certain
areas of management, but it will get much worse if those with solid fire
experience choose not to step up to fill those roles.
HR 408 has popular appeal, just like the idea of quickly cutting some
line down to the river below. Likewise, this legislation needs a second
and third look before we step off the edge.
Thanks for the reply on the helitack crews, I will check both of them
out. I am currently living near Yellowstone National Park going to
paramedic school looking to find a job that I can mix both some medical
and fire. I have no problem digging line or hiking in to treat an
injured patient however it is a little difficult to find a place where I
can get experience in both without getting "stuck" under one title.
Also as far as the discussion about portal to portal, I know that a lot
of paid fire departments in Washington no longer participate in state
mobilizations due to not being paid portal to portal. I think that this
stems from the idea that normally if they were not on a mob that they
would be getting paid to be on standby at the station, therefore they
believe that they should be getting paid their normal 24 hour rate the
entire time they are under the direction of the government. However a
Wildland fire fighter knows that they normally work their 8 hour shift
doing project work or working in the cache and then when they hit a fire
it is into the overtime and hazard pay (the reactionary part of their
job). I also know that some of the back pay for call back also
discouraged these departments from participating. Lets face it
firefighting and EMS are reactionary jobs, no one wants to get in a car
wreck or start a fire (at least most normal people) but that is why they
pay us to be here. We do our best to be proactive and have programs that
eliminate the need for our services but in the end we are simply
insurance that is paid through people's taxes. Also are contractors paid
when they are "under the direction of the government" or is there a
separate billing scale for their time (a daily rate for the truck)? Does
this mean that on travel days they earn the daily amount of the truck or
is it broken down by hours (1/12th the daily rate or something like
Ab is willing to pass any replies on to Freud.
The recent postings about HR 408, my testimony (and let's not forget
that a number of other federal wildland firefighters and IAFF
firefighters provided written testimony in favor of HR 408) has to be
taking its toll on AB.
With any of my posts, the main idea is for me to present factual
information, not incite riots, criticize others etc. I think to a large
degree, and AB, feel free to correct me, the idea of this incredible
forum is to provide information to the wildland firefighting community.
Often however, some feel the power of anonymity behind a screen name and
offer posts that do incite and inflame. Nearly every one of my posts is
closed with my real name and the offer for anyone to contact me any
time. Despite that offer and the occasional "opposing viewpoint," no one
has ever called me.
I want to make it very clear that the FWFSA, and I personally, have the
highest regard for our brothers and sisters in the municipal and state
agencies our federal wildland firefighters work with. I was on the
Executive Board of the California Professional Firefighters (CPF) for
five years, from '98 to '03 and worked with the leaders of the other
districts, inclusive of District 6, The CDF.
There is no doubt that the firefighters of the CDF and other
municipalities across the country deserve every thing their lobbyists
and negotiators can get for them. In all candor, it certainly didn't
hurt the affiliates of the CPF, inclusive of the CDF to have the CPF
enjoy an incredibly close and productive relationship with former
governor Gray Davis. With the CPF paying their lobbyist nearly a quarter
of a million dollars a year, they better get good legislative proposals
that succeed in becoming law.
As we should all know, therein lies a huge difference between state fire
agencies, municipal departments and our federal firefighters. Quite
simply, federal employees cannot negotiate pay and benefits as the
others can. About the only way to effect change is to change the
law...and that requires congress. To a lesser degree, some changes can
occur administratively through OPM.
Our issue is not what cooperators make and where they stay on a
wildfire. Our issue is that the boss of our federal wildland
firefighters, the Federal Government pays these inherently higher costs
while taking our men and women off the clock. That is simply wrong.
Furthermore, since the agencies have been discussing and recommending
portal to portal for 20+ years, we believe its time for them to get off
their butts and get it done.
We have not advocated the complete elimination of the use of contractors
and cooperators but rather seek the land-management agencies to reduce
their reliance on such resources, hire more federal firefighters, even
seasonals, and provide those seasonals with basic health care.
We have demonstrated beyond a doubt, that reducing one position from a
cooperator or contractor, hiring a skilled, experienced seasonal
firefighter in their place, providing basic health care for that
seasonal firefighter and retaining that firefighter saves the
government, and thus the American taxpayer money. Sounds simple. It is
simple but for some reason, agencies, bureaucrats and others want to try
and make it more complex than it is. Heck, we can even throw in hazard
pay on prescribed burns for our folks and still save money position for
We also firmly believe that the land management agencies can accomplish
this within the budgets they currently use. If they become more fiscally
responsible. Fiscal responsibility does not mean raking off $100 million
from the fire budget to pay for a personnel move to New Mexico!!!!!!
Further, we recognize that cooperative agreements vary across the
country. However the FWFSA's membership includes those from entry-level
GS-3s to FMOs. Thus the wealth of information and data received is
superior to that received by OPM and other agencies... and more raw and
My bottom line is that I represent the members of the Federal Wildland
Fire Service Association. We wrote the bill, we've spent the time,
energy and money pushing for reforms of pay and personnel policies for
all federal wildland firefighters, not just members. As someone was kind
enough to earlier point out, we are not a union. That is NFFE's job. My
loyalty and my efforts are to the members of this Association. At the
same time, I'm delighted that so many others deserving of the benefits
of HR 408 will receive them regardless of their membership. If you want
to call us a "special interest group" that's fine with me because we
truly have special interests. So do municipal and state firefighters.
They too are special interest groups.
The federal wildland firefighters of this country, whether they be FWFSA
members or not, are probably the least recognized firefighters in the
country. Post 9/11 Congress authorized and appropriated millions of
dollars for fire departments across the country through the SAFER Act
and FIRE Act... by law, those funds are unavailable to federal
You'd be stunned as to how many members of congress I have to educate on
exactly what a wildland firefighter is, what they do for this country
and its citizens and what issues they face.
Contractors have organizations to address issues affecting them. ADs,
municipal and state fire agencies have organizations to address their
issues... and now... finally after 14 years of development and growth,
the FWFSA is here for federal wildland firefighters. But let's do AB a
favor. Both AB and I have offered myself up to anyone that has questions
on what we're doing, what we're saying etc. If you truly have a
question, concern etc., call me, e-mail me. Don't hide behind a computer
screen and spout off just because its easy to do.
We may not agree. That's OK. But let's remember that someone has to put
these postings on They Said. It certainly must be time-consuming and
tedious sometimes... not to mention stressful when "debates" flare up.
So I'm here, I'm not going anywhere. As I told the Chairman of the
committee... The Buck Stops Here.
The entire wildland firefighting community has the capability and
capacity for great achievements if there are those that are willing to
give 110% for those they represent. I'm in, how about you.
As an Old hotshot, I would like to put this out there for the Hotshots.
I feel that any crew that was cut in 1978 to 1982 should be viewed
as An IR Crew without anymore Crap. They were here before most
It seems disgruntled dispatchers trying to spread the pain about ROSS,
doesn't make for a good discussion on they said? Makes me wonder why?
Dispatch dude, re: gROSS
Dispatchers, if you have been ROSS 'ed to death make a statement. I
know about you but being at the the end of the pipeline makes ROSS a
pain and anything but an efficient tool making the life of a dispatcher
Thats a $53 million dollar incorrect assumption. That's our take on it
Feel free to write in with issues. Messages saying you hate
ROSS are not very informative. Ab also would be willing to hook people
up behind the scenes.
I ran across this pic of a USFS engine on a Ford C-cab chassis, it looks
alot like a structure engine. I've never seen an engine like this used
by the Forest Service, does anyone know anything about it. The website I
found it on just lists it as US Forest Service, Las Vegas, NV.
Here is the link
To "why can't we all get along":
I know.....I probably did sound a bit testy.....long shift.
No harm intended to the masses.
To Engine Captain
You make some great points about the comparison between the federal
wildland agencies and all risk fire departments.
Not to open a hornet's nest here....honestly, it's just a
question.....but I have to question your call volume and type for the
ECC's you posted. To any federal agency person out there....
What is the current POLICY on the USFS and their response to all risk
incidents in Region 5. There seems to be vast differences between NF's
around the State. Last time I checked it was something like this:
- Structure Fire response as a wildland resource for wildland
exposure if structure fire threatens FRA. No interior attack.
Turnout are worn with wildland boots.....?
- Vehicle Fire response only if it threatens FRA?
- No statutory authority for Medical Aids, Traffic Collisions, Haz
Mat, Rescue, etc.?
- What is the minimum required level of EMS, Haz Mat, and Low
Angle/Swiftwater certification for a FS firefighter on an engine
I seriously questions the calls listed on "researchers" post unless
it was an interagency ECC dispatching local government and CDF
resources. Just a light hearted question.......this should be fun!
The federal firefighting agencies are All Risk... a national fire
department embedded in a land management organization... Ab.
Sittin' back in BigSky retirement-land, reading the posts of the past
few days, takes me back to those dreaded days on a National Forest when
we had a relatively quiet fire season. The folks hired to fight fires
got bored, and had nothing better to do than peck each other on the rear
end like a bunch of chickens in a coop! Those were NOT the good old
days: better an a** busting fire season that keeps the troops dog-tired
than a quiet season with well-rested troops looking for a fight to be
RELAX folks: we're all in this together! Either we hang together, or we
the numbers used for the study were from exclusive use engines on a
contract and not an EERA. Just like any business when you have a
guarantee of work you can offer the best rate. An EERA is a crapshoot
at best, a contractor is forced to charge more to cover the unknowns.
I can not speak to all of the Exclusive use engines, but here are the
ones used in the study,
go to www.fbo.gov
search the archives, and awards for
The firefighting community has always been a special brotherhood and
sisterhood. We all share a special bond. Why has Casey Judd and HR 408
caused so much discontent between agencies and contractors? CDF has a
union and gets to stay in motels. I think that is a great thing and more
power to them. After all, the most important thing in firefighting is
the firefighter and safety. Contractors have expenses to pay. Fires
would burn until the rains come without contractors. The US firefighters
only ask for better pay. I had a GS-4 tell me that without overtime he
made more on unemployment. Is that any way to retain the brightest and
the best? Every agency wants the brightest and the best. Personnel
turnover and training are a major expense to agencies.
Why are you so mad with the way the Blossom fire is being run? Have
you actually been on the fire? I have... and I have nothing but
admiration for all of the ground pounders that are working their hearts
out. It seems to me and a lot of others on this forum, that you have an
axe to grind against the USFS. I really hope this isn't true. The IMTs
that have been on the fire are trying their damnest to bring the fire
under control. Just remember that in order to understand what those
firefighters are going through, you need to walk 10 miles in their
I would sincerely hope that you would give the men and women that are
doing battle with the Blossom fire, accolades and encouragement instead
I would really like to know where they found contract
engines that were $850 a day. I really think those
numbers are wrong. I just recently came off an
incident with contract engines and the cheapest on on
my strike team was $1700 and the most expensive was
$2500 for a two hundred gallon Type 6 with a two
person crew. So personally I think these numbers are
wrong. Especially since this is a 4 year old study.
Maybe out-of-date, but then you could also say that of
the Kirk study... Ab
Re Engine Captain,
Shasta Trinity National Forest, California - Calendar 2005 (Prepared 08/21/2005 14:04)Incident Type. Aircraft Down: 2 Hazmat: 6 Law Enforcement: 952 Medical Aid: 70 Miscellaneous: 285 Prescribed Fire: 18 Public Assist: 30 Resource Order: 181 Search & Rescue: 10 Smoke Check: 94 Structure Fire: 7 Traffic Collision: 84 Vegetation Fire: 102 Vehicle Fire: 19 Total Incidents: 1860
Pueblo Interagency Dispatch Center, Colorado - Calendar 2005 (Prepared 08/21/2005 14:07)Incident Type. Aircraft Down: 4 Hazmat: 2 Law Enforcement: 56 Medical Aid: 4 Miscellaneous: 275 Prescribed Fire: 119 Public Assist: 34 Resource Order: 97 Search & Rescue: 4 Smoke Check: 142 Structure Fire: 5 Traffic Collision: 13 Vegetation Fire: 288 Vehicle Fire: 3 Total Incidents: 1046
Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center, Nevada - Calendar 2005 (Prepared 08/21/200513:15)Incident Type Aircraft Down: 2 Emergency Standby: 11 Hazmat: 27 Law Enforcement: 35 Miscellaneous: 19 Prescribed Fire: 4 Public Assist: 33 Resource Order: 12 Search & Rescue: 8 Smoke Check: 25 Structure Fire: 94 Traffic Collision: 164 Vegetation Fire: 277 Vehicle Fire: 21 Total Incidents: 732
Federal Interagency Communications Center, California - Calendar 2005 (Prepared 08/21/2005 07:22)Incident Type Aircraft Down: 15 Emergency Standby: 7 Hazmat: 21 Law Enforcement: 5488 Medical Aid: 416 Miscellaneous: 893 Prescribed Fire: 18 Public Assist: 681 Resource Order: 146 Search & Rescue: 93 Smoke Check: 12 Structure Fire: 12 Traffic Collision: 535 Vegetation Fire: 310 Vehicle Fire: 48 Total Incidents: 8695
Wow, where do I start...
To viejo: Since you are so knowledgeable and experienced, what is your alternative?
To Northnight: Well said, I have been in the FS for 20 yrs and am just now making the amount you quoted for a starting salary with a municipal department.
To CW: Read Northnight's post and then explain to me how we are 'greedy' seeking to be paid for our time away from home. Or email me directly, I am sure Abs can
To vfd cap'n: Casey did not 'slam' cooperators, he just pointed to the facts. I am on a team that has lots of them, and they are a valued asset. Their cost to the effort is disproportionate to the cost of federal 'firefighters'. Furthermore he did not suggest that we quit using cooperators, just that if there was more incentive for fed folks we could use more of them and save money.
To Eric: Well said on your two cents worth! And I will see what I can find out about 'Six Minutes'.
To CDF True: You make some good points, yet you seem adversarial, why is that?
To MKS: Wow! Yes, this is a big problem... I wish I had a good solution. The team I am on tries to balance the demands of 'cost containment' with firefighter welfare, but I too have issues with what I believe are unnecessary costs, ie. bleachers for briefings. I wish I had an answer.
To ALL: This is a great forum for voicing views and problems, but I fail to understand why folks would not want to have the whole family of wildland firefighters achieve the goals they seek. Decent pay,
benefits and a livable retirement.
"Why can't we all just get along"
Re HR 408 testimony
Here is the written testimony
of Casey Judd and FWFSA which is now public record.
The document we linked to several days ago is about 10 of the 15 pages
of his oral testimony before the committee. This is the whole 30 pages.
Please free to review it and contact Casey personally if you have any
contact info: Casey Judd at FWFSAlobby @ aol.com or (916) 515-1224.
Thank you to Casey Judd and FWFSA for your hard work and determination.
Re: The "Birthday" for the Blossom Complex
Of the 51 handcrews on the Blossom Complex, there are 6 federal type 1 crews and 11 federal type 2 crews. The remaining 34 crews are cooperator and contract crews.
Of the 44 engines assigned, there are four federal engines. The remaining 40 engines are cooperator and contract engines.
Of the 462 overhead assigned, there are 201 federal employees. The remaining 261 overhead positions are cooperator, contract, or A.D. employees.
Cost to Date: $22,313,264
Current Acres: 10,132
Cost per acre: $2202.26 per acre.
Been working on a model of the B-17, changing it too show the fire fighting colors
and mods... any photos of the plane on the ground would be helpful.
Important Aviation News!!!
PROPOSED FAA REGULATION - Notice Of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM)
No FAA certificated airmen, or person or persons acting on the direction,
or suggestion, or supervision, of any certificated airmen, may try, attempt
to try, or make or make any attempt to try, to comprehend or understand,
any or all, in whole or in part, of the herein mentioned Federal Aviation
Regulations, except as authorized by the Administrator or an agent appointed by, or under the supervision of, the Administrator.
If any certificated airmen, or group of certificated airmen, becomes aware
of, or realizes, or detects, or discovers, or finds, that he, or she, or
they, are, are beginning to, or are about to, understand the Federal Aviation Regulations or any
of its provisions, (he) (she) (they) must immediately, within three (3) government working days of such discovery or
awareness, notify, in writing, the Administrator.
Upon receipt of any such above notice of impending comprehension, the Administrator shall promptly cause said Federal Aviation Regulations to be
rewritten in such a form and manner as to completely and totally eliminate
any further possibility of comprehension by any pilot or pilots. The Administrator may, at his or her option, require any certificated
airmen, who commit(s), or attempt(s) to commit, or exhibit(s) any propensity to commit, the offense of understanding or
comprehending the Federal Aviation Regulations, or any part thereof, to attend courses of
remedial instruction in said Regulations, until such time as said certificated airmen can demonstrate that they are no longer capable of
exhibiting any comprehension or understanding of anything.
The FAA Administrator
Your comparison of federal firefighters and municipal firefighters logically doesn't hold water. How many HazMat incidents have you, as a federal firefighter responded to?, how many shootings at 1 am have you responded to?, how many structure fires in the commercial/industrial district have you responded to?, when was your last
emt/paramedic certification test?. Not all municipal fire departments pay well. Maybe you should look at a new line of work other than the one you're presently in?, maybe you should begin the hiring process with one of those socal departments so you can get your own summer home?. I do believe in fair wages for all and I'm a very Proud Member of the IAFF but don't slide my fellow firefighters for what they've work hard for when you have the opportunity for the same and I wouldn't say that all municipal "Dabble" in wildland, just look at some of the socal departments that took your summer home, some of them risk it all on the wildland front like you seem to. Some even have some pretty nice wildland engines.
Maybe you missed the part of Judd's testimony at the hearing where he mentions contractor's get paid 24 hours a day. As a fire equipment contractor, I can assure you that's not the case. The exception would be if the equipment were double-shifted, but then it would be getting paid for hours actually worked, wouldn't it? I've also seen it mentioned in previous posts here on this forum, but it took misleading Congress to get my dander up enough to speak out about it. I agree with vfd cap'n assessment that Judd is stretching the truth a bit and potentially hurting his credibility. I support this bill but let's try to maintain a little integrity and get it passed with honest efforts.
I'm not old enough to know if the Forest Service actually did their own logging but I do remember when logging and road construction were about the only contracted activities. Everything else was done by FS personnel, what they call "Force Account".
R4 Contractor & retired FS firefighter
What's your point? Agency crews less expensive than contractors? Why not have your "bean counters" do a breakdown of the true cost of an agency crew? There is a lot more to agency crew cost than daily wages and mileage.
Sling Load is on a new assignment, gone to ID. The info is on his
laptop. He promises full details when he gets home. Ab.
2700$ for a hotshot crew? thats 135.00 a day per person. for a twelve hour day without OT, every person would have to make less than
11.50 an hour. The contract crew may make 4000 a day, that is actually a
Difference is the contract crew must provide all of the following, fuel, vehicles, PPE, saws, insurance, workers comp, taxes, radios,
lodging off incident, training, training verification, overhead, and a ton of other little things.
When comparing resources you have to adjust the feds to cover all of the admin, and hidden expenses associated with the crew, Who provides
training, fuel, buggies, ppe, retirement, admin, maintenance, tires, insurance, saws, radios, shop floor space and the other items to a fed
Take a look at study
it lists far better the associated costs i mentioned.
Its just better to compare apples - to - apples.
you've been pretty open in your criticism about the management of the Blossom Fire on the Siskiyou NF, and have every right to your opinion, and to express those thoughts on this site (as the rest of us do frequently).
But now, I'd like to pose some questions to you:
- What have you personally done to try and insure that something like this does not occur again, given your obvious dislike for the current operations and management direction?
- Did you submit comments on the "Biscuit Fire BAER DEIS"?
- Have you written/called/Emailed the District Ranger/Forest Supervisor/Regional Forester/Chief about your concerns as a taxpayer?
- Have you come up with safe and effective alternative strategies and tactics that would suppress "Blossom" at a smaller size, and for less $$? Are you a member of a Regional or National IMT so that your opinions and options on future similar events will be considered?
- Are you commenting on Forest Plan revisions where similar management philosophies are under consideration?
It's great to keep challenging the status quo way of doing business, but in doing so, a person also assumes a responsibility to offer suggestions for improvement and change. Even if you are a USFS employee, you can offer comments about management activities and proposals on your own time, from your own computer at home, without ever identifying yourself as an Agency employee. I've done it, and never suffered any retribution.
To get ahold of the USFS Line Officers and decision makers, go to www.fs.fed.us
and let them know your thoughts! Keep asking tough questions, but consider taking the next step and offering constructive answers to your questions.
Good suggestions. Viejo, say the word. I'd be happy to put anyone
in touch with you. Ab.
Hey Viejo, it sounds like you have some major issues to work out with some
one. This may not be the most appropriate way to vent your misconceived
and ill-informed frustrations. Quit embarrassing yourself and try to learn
the facts before you criticize others.
Happy Birthday to the Blossom Complex...its one month old today! During that month it has backed and rolled itself to 10,132 acres (including burnouts). It now has 51 crews, 44 engines and 10 helicopters committed. That's pretty impressive for a fire whose described ROS never exceeded slow. And I'm sure the $22.3 million dollars spent so far is worth every penny.
I picked up one of my favorite magazines and right on the front cover is two firefighters. They are
Bob Elliott and Jason Matheson on the Timber fire near Tionesta, California. The photo was taken
by Pat Ratcliff.
Congrats guys, you made the front cover of the Range magazine and there is a nice little salute to
all FF's on page 69. I already checked their web site and it has not been updated to this issue.
To all I answer here,
Number of things I would like to address. Thank you to the FWFSA. I am a huge supporter of the FWFSA. Notice the A at the end. It stands for Association. Right on
their home page it states "we are not a Union." The federal employees union is though. The NFFE is currently tied in with the Machinist union. I encourage every and all Federal Wildland firefighters to tie in and support both the association and the union. I pretty much give up one beer a day to pay my dues for the association and the union.
I live in a town where Socal municipal firefighters buy vacation homes and I can't even afford my own rental need two roommates. Is that a fair pay gap? Is that being greedy? We are all risk here
too.. The federal fire force is becoming just like a municipal department we are just geared primarily for wildland, but dabble in structure where municipal is geared for structure and dabbles in wildland. Now this isn't meant to say one or the other doesn't pull
their fair share in each others realm. What I am saying is that when it comes down to it, we all do the same job. We are all one team. Shouldn't the federal side of the team get
paid fairly too? I make $27,000 dollars a year working for the fed. I could make $54,000 starting with a municipal department. It has taken me six years to make it to $27,000 and three of those years were without medical,
retirement, or even the promise that I would have a job the following summer. To call Federal firefighters greedy is just dumb. An I am sorry for saying that, but it is the only way to put it.
On to the fun stuff. The Inyo N.F. helicopter (H-525) does not and has not, to my knowledge, done any ocean rescues. The Inyo is in the High
SIerras. Next to the California-Nevada border. They do alot of High altitude mountain rescues. They work hand in hand with the Inyo County and Mono County SAR groups and also have been known to do a bit of SAR work in Kings Caynon/Seq National park. The park has
their own helicopter though, out of Ash Mountain. If you want more information contact
their base at (760)878-2200 this is the number for Independence Helitack Helicopter 525 of the Inyo National forest. For information it is a Type 3 AS350B3 Astar. If you
haven't read the news yet the same model helicopter just landed on top of Everest in May. Setting the
record for highest take off and landing!
Thanks AB, know my rants get long when I have them.
Seems as if folks need to read these posts more carefully. Casey said
cooperators in his post, not contractors. It would not surprise me if
cooperators were more expensive then contractors.
The coops, Casey was referring to are the big municipal/state depts that
have high rates of pay on a regular basis, send them to a wildland
incident give em portal to portal and it starts to add up pretty darn
quick. Some of these depts have learned that the federal cow has the
sweetest milk. I don't want to mention any names but LA County seems to
come to mind. (Although I have worked with folks from LA Co and they
actually seem human)
As for the costs, it is bad, but to be honest with you the feds throw
money out the window so darn fast that all you can do is hope that you
get some rotorwash off the thing as it clatters by. And if the fella
from Colorado is getting shorted by hundreds of bucks a day, take it up
with the chief maybe you can work a better deal with wherever you sign
As far as the National Forest system goes, there is literally too much
work that needs to be done. Not just in suppression activities, but in
vegetation management and prescribed fire. The FS has always used
contractors for various jobs and it will continue too. Logging has
always been done by contractors, at least I don't think FS crews ever
did that job. Did they?
A check with the Team bean counters on one recent R6 fire showed
- the cost of a hotshot crew to the govt was $2,700 a day plus
- the cost of a contract crew to the govt was $4,000+ a day.
Record keeping is getting better and teams are working hard to
account for all
costs. Computer tracking will streamline all of this.
The entire Tuolumne Fire Report must come out. An article in Fire Engineering (by Mike Terwilliger, cdf) comes from the cdf greensheet/fs 72hr report and the Executive Summary
(5 page pdf of 186 page unreleased report).
I think the article is misleading or incomplete in some places, but probably not on purpose.
An author can only interpret and report on what he reads from his own
experience. The reports out now have limited info. For one, I don't
think the Eva's crew was told to build downhill line. How can any of us make sense of what happened and learn anything without details and timeframe?
All firefighters NEED to learn some critical stuff from this tragedy. Communications
from cdf to fs and back need work. Some communication systems between
copters and crews and atgs and ic's might need to change. Frequencies should be put in
place by cdf.
Not placing blame here. just looking for answers. cdf and the fs need to let us read it to figure it out from the horse's
mouths. Another thing I think is we don't need more rules. Firefighters do need to read the WHOLE report and figure out how to change to keep this from happening again.
Ab, could you add links.
I called to ask and CDF has told the FS that the whole report will be made public. I put a list of links to all the reports we have on the Docs Worth Reading Page (Archives). Ab.
Casey and others...
OK I stand corrected on the union comment, and as I said and agree with many here I do think wildland firefighters are NOT paid enough.
I still think a boost to 24 hour a day pay is too much (yes greedy)
PYG who I work for is my own business. Come on, you could not have read the testimonies and at least not got a little kick out of my comments. It clearly did not take you on a walk down the middle road.
Either you support the efforts of the FWFSA in proposing HR 408 or you don't. When you try to compare Maria Cantwell's bill to HR 408, you get some folks lost. It is like comparing apples to oranges.
The intent of both bills (Hastings and Cantwell) was for firefighter safety improvements... There was to be an independent review (investigation) of wildland firefighter fatalities from the OIG that would improve the safety for all of us. I agree fully with the intent of the legislation.
The bills are actually really good bills as I see it. The problem lies in the bureaucrats interpretation of what the bill really means. Unfortunately, the OIG never hired professional accident investigators with wildland fire experience to complete the investigations. Remember, the Cantwell version did not pass... the Hastings version did. The problem with the bill that Doc Hastings introduced and got passed was that it was hijacked by Agency Bureaucrats of the Forest Service and USDA OIG to assign blame rather than provide for Lessons Learned to prevent future fatalities. It began the use of redactions and Agency Approval before release.
It is a bureaucratic problem and not a legislative problem... the legislation is good, the way the agencies have carried out the legislation is bad.
We have learned that Agency investigations of fatalities sometimes seek to cover the Agencies backsides and not present the facts about how these accidents occurred or could have been prevented. That is a clear example of bureaucracy vs. intent of legislation. The intent of the legislation was to keep folks safer.... somehow, it became a game of CYA (cover your ass) rather than "Lessons Learned".
Don't get caught up on intent of legislation vs. bureaucracy of implementation... If the intent is allowed to continue without bureaucratic "redactions" and "roadblocks", there will be great gains to the wildland fire community.
In reply to the person who is referring to violins and pictures of starving
children........ your information is about a accurate as your spelling and
grammar. You obviously work for one of the federal agencies, due to the fact that you bullseyed CDF as "the
one" (overpaid). I guess you forgot about about the hundreds of local government fire departments who are on the line on both state and federal fires under a number of cooperative agreements, none of which are free.
Regardless of that........... the main point is that the federal wildland fire management agencies do not have a union that bargains with management for the betterment of wages, benefits, and safety of their employees. All other fire departments DO! End of story. This subject seems to pop up every year on this website. Let me guess........next week it will be the motel issue!
Oh, by the way. You mentioned "not using CDF is possible" (instead of working toward better wages for the
feds)............... Last time I checked, we ran our 300,000 plus calls a year in the state of California without waiting on another agency to use us.
There are as many different cost analysis comparing agency / state /
municipal / volunteer / private resources to one another. many of
them draw conclusions 180 degrees apart.
When I started doing this, it became painfully clear I would never be
able to support my three children, a mortgage, and retire someday.
Any industry where the majority of the work force is in a permanent
seasonal position (an oxymoron in itself) should realize this. It
sucks, and unless you plan on working your way up through the ranks to
management this is to be expected.
Casey is attempting to make life better for FF's in federal service;
to blast him for his efforts is uncalled for. The better solution
would be to exercise your rights, and write congress, make phone
calls, and get your opinion out there.
just my two cents -
later be safe
good luck - ken
PS... Does anyone know where to get the "Six Minutes" series as a set? or
do I have to download all of them Individually? - Thanks.
Let me start by clearing up any misconception other readers may have: I am not in firefighting for the money. If this is a cash cow, I must be on the wrong end, or maybe I'm just milking the steer.
It is not an attack to speak to the issues. I stand by the statement that Casey was misleading in his remarks to Congress. Anyone could clearly accept that among "the greatest causes for the sky-rocketing costs of wildfire suppression across the country" are:
a) years of wildland fuel build-up,
b) the tremendous growth in the wildland-urban interface,
c) huge public and political pressures to suppress large fires at any cost, combined with a "blank check" for fire, and
d) an extensive, multi-year drought covering much of the West and accompanying massive beetle kill
To do as Casey did, and slam cooperative agreements is wrong. Those agreements allow for mutually-acceptable qualifications, common radio frequencies, coordinated initial attack (which is often not compensated during the first 12 hours) and assistance for rural departments with equipment and training. Those agreements rightfully became a national priority for the BLM following the Point Fire ten years ago. Those agreements provide for annual operating plans to fix problems.
Those agreements save firefighters' lives.
Interesting, you didn't spell that out in your first post... a bit
of the provocateur, are you? Ab.
I'm sorry for your situation. I am careful to document everything.
Has anyone been paying attention to the PSOB issue as it progresses? If not, here are a couple links that will help you do so. Surviving families of firefighters who suffer heart attacks may soon be covered under the program, which currently pays out $275,658 in death benefits to the families. There is a 60-day comment period on this area of the PSOB regulations. See
and PSOB "Hometown Hero" benefits. I realize we’re all busy and in the middle of fire season, but I encourage you all to read through the material and then take the time to send in your comments. This matters to a lot of people. Do it for Ernie’s family.
Casey, I don’t have the location where comments should be sent just yet…Do you have it by any chance? Ab? If not, I’ll track it down in the next couple of days.
The reason that the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association exists is because of its members. It is not a union, but an employee association comprised of federal
wildland firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Fish and
Your assumption that the reason the FWFSA is pursuing H.R. 408 because of greed is far from correct. Your statement that “This never was a line of work to get rich at, But it is a good living and most of us kept in it for the love of it and not the money.” Your statement may be correct for you, but many wildland firefighters cannot continue to stay in the profession because they have to support their families and provide shelter. For most people, the ability to at have a median income consistent with their surroundings and the ability to purchase a home, is what they would call “a good living”. The United States Census sets the poverty level at $17,463 for a family of four. The Department of Health and Human Services set the poverty level at $17,650 for a family of four. Please note, the entry level and mid levels of employment as a federal wildland firefighters are not far above the poverty line, nor are they close to the median, or middle income families as described in the link below.
Then, you must realize how many of these people are working a less than permanent full time schedule, and that many of the employees are not receiving health benefits. These folks may only be working 4-6 months as temporary wildland firefighters, or they have permanent career seasonal or WAE appointments of varying lengths that keep them from achieving a full years salary as shown in the table below. The biggest shame of all is that many of our lower level positions qualify for the Food Stamp program. I am glad you are happy with the earnings you have. Greed has nothing to do with the folks who are fighting for better pay, benefits, and working conditions for our federal wildland firefighters.
Median Income for a family of four in the United States:
Median Home Prices in the United States by region:
The United States Government Food Stamp Program:
Pay Grades for Federal Wildland Firefighters (Base G.S. Table)
Grade/Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7 Step 8 Step 9 Step 10 WGI
1 16016 16550 17083 17613 18146 18459 18984 19515 19537 20036 VARIES
2 18007 18435 19031 19537 19755 20336 20917 21498 22079 22660 VARIES
3 19647 20302 20957 21612 22267 22922 23577 24232 24887 25542 655
4 22056 22791 23526 24261 24996 25731 26466 27201 27936 28671 735
5 24677 25500 26323 27146 27969 28792 29615 30438 31261 32084 823
6 27507 28424 29341 30258 31175 32092 33009 33926 34843 35760 917
7 30567 31586 32605 33624 34643 35662 36681 37700 38719 39738 1019
8 33852 34980 36108 37236 38364 39492 40620 41748 42876 44004 1128
9 37390 38636 39882 41128 42374 43620 44866 46112 47358 48604 1246
10 41175 42548 43921 45294 46667 48040 49413 50786 52159 53532 1373
11 45239 46747 48255 49763 51271 52779 54287 55795 57303 58811 1508
12 54221 56028 57835 59642 61449 63256 65063 66870 68677 70484 1807
Re HR-408: I think DoD Fire got their pay increase because it was snuck in as a rider
attached to a postal bill. Maybe you can back door ‘em too.
All’s fair in love and politics.
generally speaking, i would not enter my opinions in a medium like this b/c i think there is enough complaining that goes on in our world; who needs to listen to another firefighter whining about hours? however, this is something i feel strongly enough to speak up about b/c conventional and sanctioned channels for voicing our opinions have been quietly but thoroughly closed to us.
while on a helibase on a relatively small but expensive fire in OR (during this current season) which i will designate only as being near gold beach, a type 1 team was brought in to transition with the type 2 that was managing the fire. as new teams typically do, they proceeded to make various changes to the current operation, including a scrutinization of the hours we had been working. this of course was expected, as was the subsequent reduction in hours. however, the time unit of this team then declared that our hours were then reduced RETROACTIVELY, backdating and altering our FTR's five days prior, effectively chopping two hours from all personnel from the time the team took control of the fire. the helibase manager, upon broaching the topic with human resources, that if he were to pursue the matter in any formal fashion, under any sort of grievance, the team would audit time back to the beginning of the fire, including the portion which had been under type 2 management...effectively telling him, in not so many words, to shut his mouth.
now, i understand fully that a few hours is "no big deal"; that to complain about this is somewhat ineffective. however, it is less the matter of the hours themselves and more the principle of this action. in case anyone out there is not aware of this, a CTR is, in fact, a signed document, and IT IS ILLEGAL TO ALTER A SIGNED DOCUMENT.
i also understand the policy and the idea behind "cost containment" which is so prevalent in these latter days of fighting fire, however: any management team that has 90 people on its staff, orders superfluous personnel, runs two helibases in a clumsy operation that could be more effectively executed with one, orders and supports a retardant operation that becomes not only risky but also redundant, could perhaps be better served to "cut costs" by, in short, taking a minute to make a plan instead of making a plan a minute. perhaps ordering a few less CWN helicopters and modules to ferry around dignitaries. perhaps dumping a little less retardant into active creek drainages by using vehicles and drivers who are accustomed to driving on logging and forest service roads. heck, maybe even ordering half as many cases of gatorade. i have a hard time believing that whacking a couple of hours from a few GS-4's and 5's is going to make any appreciable difference in the overall cost of a wilderness fire that has already far exceeded what it should have in the first place.
so, a word of warning to the little guys and the people who manage them:
<snip> guard your time like you would your soul. the mantra of the forest
service these days has nothing to do with caring for the land or serving people. it runs something more along the lines of "document EVERYTHING".
I can't quite figure out where wanting portal to
portal is greedy. Look at the wages and benefits of
other agencies and then tell me it's greed. The Feds
have some of the lowest wages in the fire world. We
also have to pay more for our benefits (Medical) than
any other organization, and we receive less. Also go
back through some of the post in the past and you
would realize there are other organizations that cover
other firefighting groups, the FWFSA is a group that
took on the role to help the Federal Wildland
Firefighters because we were not really being
represented the way we should have been. Also the
statement about hearing violins and starving children
is probably one of the more ignorant statements I've
heard in a long time.
By the way, what organization do you work for?
I hope you don't edit this to much AB
PYG, please keep posts to issues and not personalities or I'm
gonna have to tell yer momma on you. Ab.
Casey Judd is doing Good things for the Federal Wildland Firefighters, But the numbers that he stated is off the wall as for the cost for contractor and there equipment,
A type 6 engine will make 100 to 150 per hr or $ 800.00 to $1200.00 per 8 hrs. contractors are payed on Hours worked and no more, and we don't get the Motel. also contractors pays for all taxes , fuel, equipment, emplyees and any other cost.
FS charges for a type 3 engine over $600.00 per hr. this cover the cost of the engine fuel and emplyees
CDF is a long one that I well not go into.
other Fed engines like the one I work on is a type 1 going for $650.00 per Hr. X 24 hrs.
Don't blame the contractors for the cost.
Colorado Fire Chief
$1,006 was the average it COST for the Federal Government to employ one State or Local Cooperator
per day of the Kirk fire in 1999. Many of those firefighters were from
California but many were from across the country- something like 35 of
50 states were represented. Kirk
Fire Study link. If you were a local cooperator that came to the Kirk Fire, you might have fit in
at below average firefighter COST, especially if your
firefighter pay at home is less than non-fed CA firefighter pay. CA has
high cost of living and most municipal firefighter jobs pay a lot so
their firefighters can support families.
On any large fire you're deployed to, there also undoubtedly other
costs associated with your engine's deployment that are above and beyond
the $$ you get paid. Your post earlier in the month complained about the
university tacking on dispatching engines and garnering administrative
costs. Those are not uncommon and they are high, pushing the COST of
suppressing fires higher and adding to the overall high costs of
Not a Fed
You mention cooperators getting $1006 per day for salary per man, if this is true then why are we only getting $936 a day for a type 3 engine and we pay the crew out of that?? I think you need to get your facts together before you start making these wild statements.
Colorado Fire Chief
I may be wrong but after re-reading Firefighting Flyguy's post I didn't see anywhere in it that he referred to the FWFSA as a Union. Federal Employees are barred from any collective bargaining organizations aka UNIONS. I see where all of this is leading to...a split in the wildland fire community and that's a shame. I have been an active member of the IAFF for over 20 years and I believe in Collective Bargaining. I don't necessarily agree with all that Mr.Judd told that congressional committee and I know that VFD Cap'n was correct about studies by the IAFC regarding Municipal Firefighters and Wildland Fire. There are more than a few career fire department that will have a dog in this fight due to several factors.
1. Numerous Career Departments have Wildland Teams (both hand crews and engines) that respond to wildland incidents not only in their own jurisdiction but in/out of state.
2. More and more Career Departments and getting involved in the WUI Environment.
As for working wildland incident I can only speak for my crews, they don't care if its federal, state, vollie, career or private firefighters they work alongside, just that they know know their job, do it safely and watch the back of the firefighter next to them.
I didn't catch it that MT Firefly's post addressed the wrong
person. MT Firefly clearly meant CW, not the other
guy. This mis-remembering happens from time to time. I remember when
everyone was Anon. Boy it was hard to follow the threads then... Ab.
You asked, "Why is NWCG and IAFC exploring ways to get more local firefighters on the fireline?"
Two word answer "Cash Cow". Don't make it an us vs. them discussion... make it a "we", the wildland fire community discussion and refrain from personal attacks.
You made an attack against "Mr. Judd" and the FWFSA by saying, "It's one thing to talk a little smack here on Theysaid. It's something else to mislead Congress." Guess what, there are Members of Congress and their staffers who regularly read They Said.
You had me busting a gut rolling on the floor with the Type I IC
nomination comment. Yeah right.
I <snicker> just thinking about it. I love this fire stuff, but I
don't think so. I like to think I'm a good
leader and a good follower when needed, but I have a hard enough time
gagging myself at times
on this board. I probably would tell off some member of the Public (very
worse yet, some firefighter
bigger than me. Best stick to what I do best...
Firefighting Flyguy and others. The FWFSA is not a UNION! It is a member
funded association that voices the collective opinion of its members....
federal wildland firefighters. If you have questions on anything, feel
free to contact Casey Judd at the FWFSA Link on top of this page. My
personal opinion would be that you look further into this NON UNION
association before you jump to any conclusions.
Today is August 20th, probably the most important date in the history of US wildfire.
95 years ago, in Northern Idaho and western Montana, the "Big Blow-up" occurred, burning hundreds of thousands of acres and killing at least 78 of our early comrades, many of whom were fighting fire for 25 cents per day!
It's also the day that ranger Ed Pulaski herded more than 40 firefighters into a mine shaft outside of Kellogg, Idaho and held them in there at gun point so that they could survive the holocaust outside. 40 men lived because of ranger Pulaski's actions, and the USFS had
its first true hero.
The events of that date changed the history of the USFS and wildland fire in the US.
"Those who can't remember history are doomed to repeat it".
Pulaski would'a told ya he was just doing his job. Ab.
Lots of new helicopter photos on Helicopters
19 from Ryan H, WayneP3 and Shari and on on Helicopters
20 from Connor Zwicky, Mike Evans, TD, and SEA.
Sir, I've been reading your forum here for some time and I'm impressed with it to some degree. I haven't wayed in on any of the issues that have been discussed here. I have been in some group conversations with fellow members of the wildland community concerning some of the issues here and have heard some real interesting comments about the current issues and I do have some questions concerning them. After reading Mr.Judd's testimony to the congressional sub-committee I have to wonder if he has spent any time out in the woods or the deserts gathering facts for his talking points to the congress critters. I can attest to Mr. Judd's statement that the Military Members have a very hazardous job but their job is MUCH more hazardous than wildland firefighting sine theres not too many crazy sob's in the woods setting up ied's and ambushes used against the average hand crew, point being theres no comparison to testify about. Mr. Judd goes on to state that "Contractors" and Co-Operators raise suppression costs but what he failed to tell the committee is that a lot of those "Contractor" costs are Aviation Resources, both Personnel and Equipment, maybe he should have suggested to that committee right then and there that the government invest in their own Air Tankers and Helicopters and the people to maintain and fly them. I do have to admit that flying wildfire is a lot better than flying combat missions.
One other question that I have is that Who is actually in charge of maintaining the Wildland Firefighter Monument? I've read the WFF website and according to it, their foundation has been charge with maintaining the monument. For any
account of who's in charge of its sure went through a sorry state of affairs, those memorialized at the monument deserve a whole lot better than that.
Who's in charge got worked out and arrangements are being made to
give the Monument the regular love it deserves from the firefighting
Casey, the only contractor I'm aware of that gets paid 24 hours a day is the one who supplies the portable toilets. Oh, I guess the shower guy too. I think most of the rest of us get paid for hours worked, which is usually 16 or less. Can you expound on that?
Am I the only one who sees portal-to-portal pay as GREEDY. A lot of the argument seems to be based on fairness, but there are many more out there that would still see it as unfair if all federal firefighters went portal-to-portal.( State, Private, Vollies,etc.) Should we all bump up to the level of the one (CDF) or should we opt to just not use them when possible. If things are not as they should be, Fight for ALL firefighters not just the special interest of your union. ( I do know it is your job to do just that) As I read through the congressional testimony by you and several others I was sure I could here the sound of a violin playing in the background, I was waiting for pop-up photos of starving children waiting at home. I realized that the members of these sub- committees must have to wear some pretty expensive hip waders. Could all Wildland firefighters use and deserve better wages YES. Should any one group or all of us for that matter get paid 24 hours a day?. I for one do not think so. This never was a line of work to get rich at, But it is a good living and most of us kept in it for the love of it and not the money. Portal-to-portal is an example of unions wanting more more more no matter how much they get. I always thought that greed was a bad thing.
It's an association, not a union. Ab.
Casey Judd - "First and foremost.........." let there be no doubt in anyone's mind that I fully support your efforts for wildland firefighters across the US, especially to achieve full overtime and portal-to-portal pay.
But, I must disagree with the opening statement in your August 19th post that said
".... for a member of congress to even consider introducing a bill, they and their staff collect data and information necessary to ensure that the bill has merit, the issue is just, etc. I would suspect that a member of Congress is not inclined to introduce legislation without thoroughly examining the issue."
My rationale: the Bill introduced by Washington's Senator Maria Cantwell and Rep Doc Hastings after the Thirtymile Fire that required an independent investigation of wildland fire fatalities only involving USFS personnel. Their unthinking efforts led to the investigation process that resulted in the fiasco that we now call "Cramer".
Let's not give our esteemed Congressional reps too much credit: they too listen to the "squeaky wheel" many times, often to the detriment of the rest of the citizens and taxpayers! And in the case of the Public Law they forced through Congress and for Bush's signature, to the detriment of USFS firefighters!
Casey - keep up the great work!
<<been sitting quietly reading the various topics on this forum from time to time. interesting mix.
Experience with mutual aid (Fed, CA state & local agencies, vollies, contractors, etc) gives one a wider
perspective rarely comprehended by personnel who are fighting fire.
Budgetary issues are another story. The state legislative process is an uphill hose lay, especially during tight budget times when most elected officials have a personal agenda or no interest.
Having seen both at the state level, I can only imagine what Mr Judd faces at the national level.
"That doesn't include the admin fees, backfill costs etc"
FFs, your salary is what you see, not the total cost in support of your employment.
Be safe y'all.
Casey or anyone. What was the other fire besides the Kirk that cost so
BigBar Complex, both late in the season in 1999. Ab.
Dear vfd Cap't:
First and foremost, for a member of congress to even consider introducing a bill, they and their staff collect data and information necessary to ensure that the bill has merit, the issue is just, etc. I would suspect that a member of Congress is not inclined to introduce legislation without thoroughly examining the issue.
As I've mentioned in recent posts, the development of the legislation, the effort to secure the support of someone in congress to introduce the bill and the effort to secure hearings on the bill has taken years and years, and has produced volumes of data and information supporting our contentions about costs.
Quite simply, there would be no bill, and there would have been no hearings and we certainly wouldn't have the bipartisan support we have, if the information we have provided to congress was not accurate.
Again, while we are not advocating the total elimination of the use of cooperators, it is a fact that
1) their base rate of pay is inherently higher than that of a comparable federal firefighter 2) the Federal government pays that cooperator his full 24 hr pay, inclusive of overtime while taking their own firefighters off the clock 3) agreements call for the payment of Admin fees to municipal departments which are 17%+.
I do not know what studies you refer to but I'll refer, as I have in congress, to a report on policy implications on costs for large fire incidents which demonstrated that on average, a cooperator cost the federal government $1006 a day in salary alone, while the federal firefighter cost the government $385 per day.
HERE for documented info on costs. You do the math. That doesn't include the admin fees, backfill costs etc. The report went on to say that on
these two complex fires, the government could have saved $25 million if the feds had handled the fire alone.
As a firefighter, perhaps you don't see, or get to enjoy the costs paid to your department by the federal government, but I assure you
that they are there.
I know that in certain areas of the west, some of the land management agencies have started to reduce their calls to contractors and cooperators. I certainly cannot comment on your particular situation, the lack of calls, etc.
The bottom line is that I have worked on federal firefighter issues at the congressional level for over 11 years. I would not have been able to secure a bill or hearings or support for the bill if my credibility was suspect or that it was evident that I was misleading congress.
I'd be delighted to chat with you any time. You can e-mail me at FWFSAlobby @ aol.com or phone me at 916-515-1224.
I was wondering about Mr. Judd's testimony to Congress. In referring to the cooperative agreements with state and local agencies he said:
"There is no doubt that cooperative agreements with such fire agencies in a number of cases are crucial to prompt responses to wildfires each season...to a point. The inherent higher costs of such resources, often substantially higher than comparable personnel and equipment from the federal land-management agencies, must be looked at and is, in our opinion, one of the greatest causes for the sky-rocketing costs of wildfire suppression across the country." ----- from
Greatest causes? Really? Then why do several research papers and reports point to cooperative agreements with local agencies as a way to contain wildfire costs? Why is NWCG and IAFC exploring ways to get more local firefighters on the fireline?
It's one thing to talk a little smack here on Theysaid. It's something else to mislead Congress.
of Ken's MegaRun 848K
I was just catching up, and took a peek at the Ken
Perry Run pledge pages. I noticed that although Ken
was a smokejumper and a hotshot in a previous life,
there are very few pledges from the jumpers and 'shots.
Now I realize that we're in the height of fire season
now, and most of those folks are out chasing smokes
and cutting line, and don't have time to check out
I know that a lot of us here have contact with the
jumpers and shot crews (many of us led these former
lives ourselves), so please pass the word on when you
hear from those folks on R&R. Being that there are
roughly 400 jumpers nationwide, and 90+ hotshot crews
- that's a lot of potential donations out there!
Anybody reading this from near fire camp, print off a flyer/pledge
forms. Get copies made in black & white. Get permission to take 'em
to fire camp and pass 'em around. You might even get the IC to announce
the run at briefing. Collect 'em and fax or mail 'em in. Thanks to
those who are doing that! Ab.
I just posted some new engine and engine crew photos:
- CDF with some structure protection from Andrew H.
- Action photos from Sharkbait in New South Wales,
- Photos from engine crews in UT and WY this season.
- Historic Ruth Lake SRF engine crew pic from 1977.
I've posted them on the Engines
14 and Engines
15 photo pages. Please read the description page for photo details.
HR408 Portal to Portal pay. Here is the link to the House Committee on
Government Reform regarding the hearing on portal to portal pay.
The link includes the testimony given at the hearing. I thought the stuff
was worth reading - some things I hadn't thought about.
0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series
0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series
0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated.
I'm one of the mechs that just left Craigmont , Idaho with the Blackhawk. This is my
first season doing this stuff, and I wanted to thank the agencies and personnel involved.
I met some great people, and everyone was helpful and informative. If we can be of
assistance to those of you on a helibase in the future- please, come over to see us--
It's a bit difficult to tap away on the computer as a result of carpal tunnel surgery on Tuesday but I wanted to offer some comments about OPM and their position on HR 408.
As I think I've mentioned before, the bureaucratic response and opposition is nothing new when dealing with any kind of pay reform issue for federal employees. We faced it with the overtime pay cap elimination 5 years ago and prevailed, and we'll face it again and prevail in this instance.
Don't know that its fair to single out Kichak for her comments. She's simply told where to go and what to say. These are not one person's opinions, this is a compilation of bureaucratic bean counters and a systematic opposition to things they simply don't understand.
However as citizens and federal employees, if you want to vent to OPM, vent to the new Director, Linda Springer at 202-606-1000. She has been appointed by President Bush and comes from the private sector so her experience with federal personnel policy is likely limited. Even more limited is her understanding of federal wildland firefighters.
For the record, I did my very best to rebuke as male cow excrement (can I say that AB?) her rhetoric, her odd, or should I say archaic assessment of current laws etc. I want to make it very clear that if the subcommittee staff and chairman were not behind HR 408, we would not have had hearings...simple as that.
The OPM and FS testimony was incredibly weak (in my opinion) and simply out of touch with what is going on in the field. I made it very clear to the committee chairman that since the FWFSA represents employees that run the spectrum of positions of wildland firefighters, we often get data and information not likely received by OPM and other agency bureaucrats.
Bottom Line, OPM's opposition is irrelevant if congress deems that the legislation, and accompanying issues such as classification need to be reformed. They'll do the reforming and OPM will be mandated to establish regulations to implement the reform measures.
But as I said, if you want to vent, call Linda Springer. Let her hear from those that OPM "respects so much they're willing NOT to compensate them properly."
OK, my hand hurts. As factual information becomes available on the movement of the bill I
will keep you up to date.
Got the E-mail you forwarded. Thanks, Amanda.
I just got off the phone with Tony Duprey. We talked about logistics,
etc. and he had a good point that some of the folks that will be with me
that day may not show up at the start. So, for those that are running a
bit late, and would miss the briefing, I thought I would put it down
here, so that we've got everyone covered.
As I mentioned in my last post, Wendy will be pacing me for the first
ten miles. From about ten to 40 miles, I'm not sure if I will need a
pacer, but for the last ten, a motivator is a nice thing to have around.
Between those two points, it is actually good to be able to retreat into
my own little world. However, as Tony and I discussed, having a bike
rider riding a bit behind, as a safety and welfare dude is a good idea.
I was also thinking of making a sign of some sort reading "CAUTION
RUNNER ON ROAD" that we might be able to affix to the rear of a
volunteer's car or truck, and have that person follow a little behind
would be cool also. So if anyone is interested in doing any of these
things, let me know (I am going to put my E-mail address at the end)
Now for the safety briefing.....
Bike riders: The Bouquet Canyon portion of the course is pretty
gnarly in a couple of places. I can't give you mile markers, so you will
have to keep heads up. Make sure you bring water/gato, etc. And for
goodness sake, wear a helmet. Once out of the canyon, the road opens
up, but there still could be a lot of traffic.
Drivers: Same as above! Bouquet Res. is a popular spot, as are
the day use picnic areas, so heads up for that. There are plenty of
turn-outs and parking areas. I believe the Angeles has prohibited
smoking outside vehicles. but you shouldn't smoke anyway...and please
don't do it as I'm running by. Please obey all traffic laws. The road is
open, and we don't want to have to turn around and do this in the
desert. Best way to do this is not to follow me. Just go ahead a few
miles and have a coke. Once we get into Santa Clarita (Copper Hill,
McBean and Majic Mtn. Parkways) there is no parking on the curb. Best
thing hear is to spread out and pick parking lots, etc.
Hydration/food: From Palmdale (Albertson's at Ave N) to Santa
Clarita there are no stores, so make sure you bring some snacks and
drinks. And, as you drive by me, if you have an extra bottle of water, I
might just grab it...Thanks.
Snakes & Sun: Angeles is full of snakes, especially this
year after all the rain we got. So heads up for that.
Bring sun-block with you. The desert is especially hard on the skin.
Tony has been in contact with the folks at Sta. 76. They are aware that
we are coming, in fact you may see a fire engine or two along the route.
An LACO Fire PIO is in contact with the LACO S.D., as well. Good
thing...that's what worried me the most.
Okay, I think that covers it. Now, there is a bit of a discrepancy in
start times. So, Let's go with 0700 on the 10th. Sorry about
that. That's what's on the "flyer". If there is a bit of confusion close
to run-day, if I need to be I will be at Fox at 0530, just in case.
I joked earlier about having to turn around. However, if for some reason
(fire, flood earthquake, etc.) we cannot continue down Bouquet, we will
load up and head back to Fox, and I will continue the run out into the
perrykc93 @ hotmail.com (Ab fragmented it to foil the spiders; copy
and take out the spaces.)
This is Ernie Johnson's son Eric. I have just read through all of the
posts and I am so deeply honored by the love that is being shared. It
was the greatest honor of my life to get on that plane yesterday and
help carry my dad off of it. The turnout was huge. It was so neat to
have him come directly in to Sanderson Field. Dad spent years out at the
airport flying and racing go-karts, so the place was very sacred to him.
People have called from all over the country with their stories and
memories of my father. The grief I have felt has been tremendous, but
the love and emotion from people has kept my chin high.
Thank you for all that knew my dad and that share in the memories of
a man who truly knew no limits.
I love you all -
Eric, your dad taught many and the ripples move out. He lived his
best life from what I've heard and we are the beneficiaries. Would that
we could all do as well. I'm sorry for your - and our - loss. Ab.
Ernie came home
It's hard to put into words but I will try for those who could not be
with us but were there in spirit. Ernie came home yesterday on the USFS
DC-3. The weather made his journey touch and go and we didn't know if we
would be at Sanderson Field or Olympia. We had a great line-up of
engines and trucks outside Olympic Air on the tarmac. Dispatch kept us
closely apprised through AFF where the "Doug" was as it made it's sad
journey from Grangeville to Shelton.
In true northwest spirit, the heavens opened up enough for the DC-3 to
land and then gently the Olympic rains began. There was a large line-up
of firefighters both young and old in nomex and uniforms that formed an
escort for Ernie. There was nothing but tears as the DC 3 gently landed
and made it's way to us. Eric, Van B, Johnny, Jessie and Jim scrambled
aboard and brought Ernie through a line up that he would have been so
proud of. Dave Craig escorted Teresa to Ernie as we stood guard..... It
was so very quiet.....
There was such a sense of relief that he was
home.... and we are so grateful to Region 1, the aviators, the
Smokejumpers, the dispatchers and the Nez Pearce NF for bringing home
our hero in a beautiful respectful manner. Ernie's homecoming was on the
front page of today's Mason County Journal along with his obituary.
Friends and family are presently enroute from throughout the US and the
local hotels are either sold out or filling up fast..... Saturdays
service will be memorable for not only honoring a great man but for
bringing together our fire family. We had many great times on the
Olympic and in serving others throughout the US..... It won't be the
same without Ernie
I heard that the pilot of the plane that brought Ernie's body home
"This must have been a very well loved man" when he saw everyone waiting
below. We're really missing Ernie.
here is a re-write of the poem "brother when you weep for me" with a
wildland twist, i just was tired of all poems being structure fire
oriented so i gave it my own twist
Brother when you weep for me
Remember it was meant to be
Remember I’ll be at your sleeve,
On every steep and shale covered hill
When your hiking continues only through will
When you feel that touch against your sleeve you will know
In draws hot with searing heat
On ridges where a spot you unexpectedly meet
By snags where the embers fly
You know that I’ll be at your side
The station from which I now respond
Is overstaffed with heroes gone
Those who went on one last roll
Who did a job and and gave their all
As firefighters we understand
That death’s a card dealt in our hand
A card we hope we’ll never play
But one we hold there anyway
That card is something we ignore
As we hike across the “classic” draw
For we know we’re the only chance
To stop the beast in its fury filled dance
So remember when you wipe your tears
The joy I knew through out the years
As I did a job I loved to do
I pray that thought will see you through
The poem that inspired this is
May They Not Be Forgotten by James McNulty, FDNY (retired)
Here's the link to the 52 Mile run flyer on our website.Folks can
download and print it to hang around your offices or around town, attach
it to emails to friends or ?????
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/52.doc. It is a MS Word .doc file.
It's also available on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation Website in
a link at the very bottom of the
Ken's Run page (where it says "To print a
pledge form to mail in, click this link!")
Ab and All,
I appreciate the kind words regarding my efforts with the Monument. It is also important
to acknowledge the efforts put forth by the NIFC folks, especially during a fire season. It
was definitely a cooperative effort from all of us.
On another note, the Foundation just sent out a check to Ernie Johnson's wife.
Everyone, please support Ken Perry in his effort to run 52 miles to help support the
Foundation. (expressing my emotional intent=> <tongue in
cheek>) Who knows,
we might have to send his wife a check.
Haw, haw. Excellent firefighter humor on that one! A small photo
of Ken running. He looks up for it. Ab.
I was sniffing around the internet for information on HR-408 and I came across OPM’s site with news releases. While reading their take on the measure, I glanced up into the left hand corner of the page and saw a link titled “Strategic Management of Human Capitol.”
Humm…that term "human capitol" doesn’t exactly give me a warm fuzzy feeling. “1984” anyone?
Good luck on the bill.
You donate to the CDF training and equipment fund every year, on april 15th! ( tax time) Other than that, it's a scam. I use to get calls for
donations for the "Fresno CO Firefighters" union. They quit calling after I would ask what local they were with - Fresno Co is a CDF contract!
You should be nominated for a National Type1 IC slot, you got that high management stuff down pat. That was quite the history lesson on the wildland fire club, hopefully someday most of what you said will be implemented. Up here in the rockies and in r4, crew performance,
whether engine or hand crew, is recorded and kept for future use. If a crew sucks during the season then they aren't invited back the next, or if they really screw the pooch they are relieved and shown the road home, as what happened to several crews at the Cramer Fire. As for contracted resources, their performance means the difference in a profitable year or going flat azz broke as has been seen the last few years. There are great crews out there and a few "soup sandwich" crews, both federal and contracted. My organization actually does wildland fire as a sideline since we have numerous contracts for municipal fire/ems service in areas with heavy WIU. BUT we have very high standards in performance, training, capabilities and leadership. For example, all our wildland teams have certified in all levels from fft2 to ic3 as for the line dog positions. Every year we do the rudimentary wct and refresher training but every year we also have to pass a firefighters physical agility test which is more demanding than walking 3 miles with 45lbs in 45 minutes. Our training cycle for wildland begins when the last deployment is completed to the last the end of the next fire season with lessons learned, new policies/procedures from federal/state/local authority, new ideas and concepts (Our C3I Vans-6x6 & 8x8 trucks with
Command/ Control/ Communications/ Intelligence Capability, implemented spring of last year in our organization), Our ARFF Crews train year around for not only municipal work but for helibase/tanker base as do our als/bls crews (every engine is
at least bls capable). And with all that said, Our crews still come home safely and with nothing but "Excellent" on their 224's.
Be Safe All Out There On The Line.
Commander's Intent does indeed come from the military. I was first
introduced to the concept during a tour of Gettysburg Battleground PA
back in 1989 before I joined the 180 Club. The Union win in that bloody
battle was attributed to its use.
If you do a wildlandfire.com search on "Commander's Intent" you'll see it's been discussed here since 2003 when the R5 Hotshots and Engine Captains initiated the dialog. Yactac and Lobotomy were part of that early discussion, as I recall.
Following Storm King in '94, the 30mile fire fatality mitigations in '01 had piled on more "rules" as did the Cramer fire fatalities in '03. The SoCal 2003 Firestorm heightened the discussion to a tipping point when it became clear that
firefighter COULD NOT fight fire safely while documenting all the checklists of rules that had come to be
required of themselves and their subordinates. Some ICs had said they could not and retired early as it became clear that DOJ would come after them for that confession
a priori if a fatality occurred on their watch in a subsequent firestorm. (I still hold IC Mick McCormick as a hero for retiring rather than saying the emperor was clothed when
the emperor was clearly stark nekked.)
The paper that has been most often talked about here since the early days has been Shattuck's "Communicating Intent and Imparting Presence". It was posted on the
Fire Leadership website
and is important in the L-380 class. The Commander's Intent concept is what the Forest Service Doctrinal Review is all about -- the philosophical
(and legal) question:
- will ICs be held to Rules and documenting all the checklists for themselves and
all their many subordinates (currently including the non-professional yahoos out there) or
- will they be held to Imparting Intent to a well trained, professional firefighting force who then use the best tactics in the moment to respond to changing fire conditions.
The jury's still out. (I also appreciate Ed Hollenshead for
his unwavering, good-humored work on fire's behalf with regard to the
push for Doctrinal Review. In my opinion, we all need to support that
If you're interested, here's the preliminary report on the USFS
Pulaski Conference on Doctrinal Review. I saw a cool video of it
too, but can't remember if it's online. Anyone know?
I don't know how poor performers are currently documented on fires, or
even if they are. They should be. If they're not, I don't know how they
might be. Keeping more computer records from start to finish on fires
might let fire better document who did what, when, and why they have so
little to show on some days... keeping in mind that some of firefighting
is "hurry up and wait". I want to add that a very professional
private sector organization that has helped raise expectations for
excellence is the NWSA.
Good effort there...
(Boy, do I miss Don Studebaker. Used to could... I could give him a call...)
Dawn, it's nice to have an excuse to share some of this...
Ab and BR, fun pic, thanks for posting!
PS. Oh yeah, those who haven't, pledge for Ken's
run. Let your friends know. Time is counting down.
Support the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation 52 Club!
There's a link on the Archives, Docs Worth Reading: FS
streaming video Ab.
Thanks to those of you who are getting info on Ken
Perry's Benefit Run out in your communities, fire stations, to the
media, etc. People are working on a flyer that can be posted. Ab.
You might want to check out the rappel program in
Yosemite NP. They do lots of search and rescue and
medical stuff for Yosemite and Kings Canyon NPs in
addition to wildland fire. From my brief experience
with them, they don't do a lot of helibase stuff -
they are pretty unique in that respect.
Also I believe the helo in Inyo NF does a lot of S&R,
including ocean operations.
You had me baffled there for a second about "Commanders Intent", I didn't think that phrase
had hit the wildland community yet. I only know "Commanders Intent" to be the first sub paragraph of the 3rd paragraph
(Execution) of the 5 paragraph army operations order. When you used "Commanders Intent" with your wondering what performance standards were in place so "we" could weed out the poor performers
from the wildland club, I assumed that maybe you were referring to the Crew Evaluation (ICS Form 224), which is completed by ICT General Staff, Division Supervisors, with a copy retained by the
government and a copy given to the the evaluated contractor.
Ya know looking back at some of this, the army has helped develop wildland firefighting other than contributing some of the first smoke jumpers (the 555th parachute infantry battalion, 1941/42) deemed unfit for combat duty, this all black airborne unit was assigned to firefighting detail in the northwest and rockies by parachuting into remote forest fires early into ww2. But after re-reading your post I got the
gist of it.
Be Safe All Out There On The Line.
Engine Boss (Private Sector Professional)
There is a new Type 6 Engine for sale on the Classifieds Page and several Skid Units w/Storage Compartments.
Hey Alice Forbes,
I just want to say I appreciate you for all the hard
stuff you do and for your good heart!
Readers, anyone else out there you
feel you need to appreciate?
(It's easy to get kinda pissy this time of the year when lots of fire
people are exhausted... or bored and feelin' they're missing the
BR, didja send in that pic?
I’ll second Hugh on that
I was blistering myself in my comments
It takes a certain individual(s) such as you to set a standard
Hopefully the upper management at NIFC has heard all and will put
efforts into NOT letting this happen again
She definitely sets a fine standard. Ab.
Vicki and The Monument
I would like to convey my gratitude to Vicki
Minor for being such a
positive force in helping to reach a resolution to the issue. 10 days
I wrote a somewhat blistering post regarding my own sense of outrage at
what had been - or had not been done, as the case may be, to maintain
upkeep the site.
Vicki, you're an inspiration to a lot of us.
You wanted contact info for the OPM bureaucrat? Please remember she is
just doing her job before everyone goes berzerk on her. It could help to
send her factual and heartfelt information about what wildland
firefighters actually do and why her testimony was not received well in
the wildland firefighting community. I would concentrate on the three
basic principles of
- “why OPM” is opposing H.R. 408 and explain to her and OPM why HR
408 is needed to continue the “mission”,
- why wildland firefighters cannot be compared to “various other
groups who face similar challenges”, and
- why as a taxpayer, you feel that HR 408 is “efficiently and
effectively” spending taxpayer dollars.
Those of you who saw the OPM letter of opposition three months ago
can easily see that the OPM has changed direction and has begun to
“circle the wagons”.
Acting Associate Director Kichak said,
"In determining our position on H.R. 408, we are governed by
three basic principles. First, we need to address the merits of the
proposal based on the objectives that must be met to achieve a
particular mission. Second, we must try to maintain some level of
equity among various groups of Federal employees who face similar
challenges. Finally, we are obligated to ensure taxpayer dollars are
being spent efficiently and effectively to achieve results for the
Here it is:
Associate Director Nancy H. Kichak 202-606-0722 Location: 4307
P.S. – While you’re at it, write to your Congressional Representatives
and let them know you want them to support H.R. 408 and what your
feelings are about the OPM testimony before Congress. There is nothing
more grueling for an executive branch bureaucrat than answering a
Congressional inquiry and having to present only the facts and not the
Thanks Lobotomy for your hard work on firefighter's behalf. Ab.
Just wanted to express my memory of Ernie Johnson. He
was one of THOSE PEOPLE. Rewind back to the late 70s early 80s: He
managed more 'BTUs per pay period' than a lot of us see in years!! I run
into a lot of folks that 'were there' (during the glory days of westside
slash burning): most were not or were too young to have a clue.......
but Ernie was there, and usually in front of the power-technology curve.
Yep, he was key in helitorch development: Did you ever hear about the
unit they burned that showed up on a NORAD screen that a new volcano had
erupted or a nuclear bomb had gone off?? The real cool thing was that
they (Shelton) had a BD Hughes 500 just for burning............... All
coordinated by Ernie
Thanks MW for the response on the Grand Canyon helitack, I am in
school now and I am interested in looking at places to build some
I have worked fire for the last 3 seasons and structure for the last 5
to get into aviation. It has been really hard to sit this year... Thanks
again and stay safe!
SMKJ Dad asked where to find a list of congressional contacts.
The AD Firefighter Association (ADFA) put up a fairly comprehensive
contact page (addresses, phone number, fax numbers) for every US Senator
and Representative, as well as all 50 State Governors, as part of our
Outreach program for the AD rate issue..
It can be found at http://www.eteamsolutions.com/adfa1/legislative.php
Click on Legislative and Gubernatorial Contacts link, which can be
accessed directly at
Chair, AD Firefighter Association
Readers, does everyone know
cool Fire News page exists as one link option via the News page. The
button is in the top border. Those of you who like to see what the media
is reporting about fires around the country should check it out. Google
it. There are articles on the air tanker anniversary, forest fires in
Indonesia and Portugal and other places around the world. I even found
an online article on wildland fire training being put on in a town near
me. If there's no other action, maybe I'll go watch them light off some
fuels and try to put them out. (Can you tell I'm bored?)
GREAT job on solving the Monument crisis. Vicki, hats off to you
for your level-headedness. Good work at the Foundation on all your many
projects for our firefighters.
Lobotomy did a good thing. We could follow suit. He sent out an email to all his
friends asking them to do a pledge for Ken Perry's run and
included all the necessary links for them to read about it and pledge.
There's power in that!
FWSA and Casey, nice going on the efforts for HR 408 in
the hearings. Thanks for the report.
Public Sector Professional Firefighters, keep up the good
work! It's too bad that one or two "Aw Sh*t" crews can outweigh a dozen
"Atta Boy" or "Atta Girl" crews. The key is for the govt and
professional private sector watchdog organizations to keep weeding out
the bad ones. Wonder what kind of performance standards could be used to
separate the solid crews from the chaff? If Commander's Intent (or
Leader's Intent) is going to be the doctrine of the future, we need to
make sure the poor performers are shown the door.
You CDFers, thanks for the instruction on Indirect, and
Downhill line tactics and guidelines.
DR, I want that pic of the Big Guy with collar brass. I'm not
sure I've ever seen him dressed up! AW, thanks for the photos of
the 50th AT anniversary. It would have been lots of fun to be there.
TC, thanks for letting us know about that event and for the IA pics
of the Deer Fire. Guess that fire in Hoopa (TishTang) got contained? I
don't smell smoke!
Be Safe All.
I would like to let others know
how I felt when I took my family to NIFC to see the Firemen’s Memorial
where my son is honored. I was very upset when I saw
what had been done to it.
My husband and I went to the 1st
Wildland family day on 5-28-05 (which is also my son's birthday). They
had a great program for the families and part of the program was taking
us over to the Monument. We did not realize it was there, never mind
that they had put a marker for our son there. It was like being out in
the wilds of Idaho, with the grasses and wild flowers. There even was a
tree they called the moon tree that someone who flew the Apollo 14 had
taken on the flight and then donated to the Memorial. It was a wonderful
feeling to walk through and see all the stones in memory of a son,
father, mother, sister, brother, friend, in the environment they fought
for. There are no words to explain what we felt to know my son's marker
is there and he is remembered. We both cried a lot that day.
When I took my family back there
the first of August it was like some one had raped the land. All the
grass and flowers had been weed-eated. It looked like they had not
watered it in weeks. Things that families had put on stones of their
loved ones were gone, or broken. The moon tree did not look like it will
make it. It was like I had lost my son again. It brought back more pain
because I knew he would have been upset if he had seen this total
disregard for his fellow Firefighters who have gone on.
I hope whoever ordered the destruction of the Memorial is
not allowed to do so again. I'm afraid it is going to take a lot of love
and care to get it back to what it was in May.
The other thing that is very wrong
is that you cannot go and see the Memorial except 8 to 4, Monday –
Friday. I wish it was somewhere else so it could be
open 7days a week, so those that need to travel to see it can.
A fallen Firefighter's Sad Mom
Hi Mom, dry those tears. The wildland fire community (including staunch fire
supporters at NIFC) is on the way to getting the Monument back in shape
and keeping it tended. A plan for the future is being made. I talked
with Vicki this morning. She'd been to the Monument Task Group meeting.
She's feeling optimistic that all involved have begun working toward a
common goal and that the Monument will soon reflect that.
experience, sometimes the best cooperative efforts are "forged in fire"
and become more tempered than they ever would have been without the
forging process. There's still some ongoing good communication that's
needed, but I think the next time you visit the Monument, nature will
have transformed it in some very nice ways. Please feel free to go,
enjoy, celebrate and appreciate what valuable work wildland firefighters
do and that your son will always be remembered as a part of this
community. The Monument is "our" Monument. Ab.
Ab. Good day to you Sir, and a great forum you have here.
What is missing, though, is the site to show how to contact your
state Representatives in each state to "VOICE" your thoughts to them. We
can complain here all day if we want but it won't do any good unless
we're heard by the people that represent us. So find out who they are
and let them know. "It's your right".
Be safe out there and God bless America.
Hi SMKJ.Dad, good point. Readers, you can find the site that links
you to your congressional representatives' names, addresses, phone
numbers, and email addys via the
Links page under federal, toward the bottom of that category under
"practical". I know some of our community are very familiar with that
resource and contact our reps often on different issues. I wouldn't mind
having contact info for the OPM person, too. Bet we could give her an
"ear full". Ab.
I've waited some time before going over to the Monument after seeing the
weed whacking pictures. Growing things always change the landscape and I
needed to give it some time to heal. In addition, individuals within the
wildland fire community needed to come to new understanding, so we could
collectively and constructively work toward some solutions. I think that
is happening now.
My intention at this point is to make sure that the Monument never gets
in that shape again, either in "look" or in "feel". One thing that the
recent impasse has done is to get everyone that's involved to re-commit
ourselves to communication and problem solving, to remember the PURPOSE
for which the Monument was created, to honestly state the issues, to
work fairly at resolving them, and to feel creatively inspired by what
The Foundation has been asked back onto the Monument Task Group
Committee, a step toward renewed communication. The 2-year hold on the
bricks has been lifted. I was invited and attended a meeting several
days ago with the Monument Task Group. They are all very special folks
with a lot of compassion for the Monument and all that it holds. The
meeting was very amicable and the communication good. The NIFC employee
core group is of the same frame of reference as the Foundation.
Hopefully the trajectory we're setting now for bricks and Monument
maintenance will become more defined and even more supportive of the
Monument's original purpose -- to provide honor and tribute to all
wildland firefighters, their families and other people who support them.
After the meeting I walked through the Monument, it is becoming green
The day before we dedicated the Monument in 2000, a Native American man
came and blessed that land, with a deep and rich ceremony. Although it
has had some mistreatment, I believe reflection, healing, and
inspiration will continue to occur there. One of the folks at NIFC, said
he didn't realize how many people across this nation were so involved
and aware of the Monument. I'm not surprised. It means a lot to many,
many firefighters, their families, and other wildland firefighter
Abs, I want to say thanks for the part you play in creating and
maintaining this forum that lets us communicate freely. I especially
appreciate the policy of anonymity so people aren't afraid to share what
they see and think. We're all in this creative process together and it
does take communication. The dialog on Theysaid lets all of us --
firefighters, families and fire supporters -- be larger than the sum of
the parts. ...It's another kind of monument to wildland fire. Thank you.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Vicki, we're very happy to hear about the positive developments! We
also thank the readers and contributors here who helped bring the
Monument situation the attention it deserves. Communication is critical.
It's times like this that we know we're meeting our mission of sharing
and distributing information and allowing the wildlandfire community's
voice to be heard. Ab.
Here are some pics from the Willows 50th Anniversary Airtanker
Celebration. It was well worth the trip. I am splitting them into
Jumpers 1, 2, & 3, these are from the Smoke Jumper demonstration, a
total of 4 jumpers were dropped, in groups of two.
N3N, this is an example of the type of aircraft first used, they
typically held 120 gallons but under ideal conditions could load 180
gallons of water.
Original tanker, this is what is left of one of the original tankers,
somebody bought it and apparently has plans to restore it.
marker, this is the marker at the Willows airport recognizing the early
Pilot, here is Frank Prentice at the podium, he is the last of the
original group of seven who started flying in 1955.
Seat flyby, here is the seat that made a drop for the crowd
CDF display, CDF had an S2T and OV-10 on hand as well as Vina Helitack
and their Bell 205.
Model 51 & 62, Kanawah FD a local volunteer fire department brought
their engine 852 a retired US Forest Service Model 51, it is sitting
next to a current US Forest Service Model 62, things have changed in the
past 25 or 30 years.
The Mendocino NF did a really great job, after the show at the airport,
the SO was opened for a display of historical photos and equipment, as
well as cake and Cedar saplings for the guests, Smokey also made an
appearance for the kids.
Nice job AW! I put them on
AirTanker18 photo page. Ab.
This is a late 1950's early 1960's model #4 4x4 engine stationed at
"Howard Forest" Fire Station. Tank capacity is 260 or so gallons and
carried a complement of hand tools and fire fighters. Photo by Leroy
Sweet old red engine. I put it on the
Engines 14 photo page. Connor, it's a nice way to honor yer old dad
to scan in some old photos for the "record". Thanks. Ab.
Hi Ab & All...
Wow its probably a good thing that R6HS is where he is and not here at
Blackerby, theres 37 Private Engines working here, but there is 1 state
and 1 forest service engine here. He'ed probably have a real vapor lock,
but we'ed take care of him since this "Joke" of an engine group is "ALS"
capable, that's Advanced Life Support Capable. But with all the fires in
R6 and all those contracted resources in R6 working those fires I guess
I can see why he's steamed about not working. I've always had the
attitude that we're all in this together, be a Federal Crew or a
Contract Crew?. Oh well back to sitting around on my azz on my day off.
Be Safe All.
Been lurking for years. This is a great place to catch up on the
happenings. I took this photo after being awaken at 2-am the meet this
on the Old Fire.
List me as...I was there
Thanks, former lurker. I put it on the
Fire 28 photo page. Ab.
Maybe you will post this, included is a picture of the Nevada Engine
for those who haven't seen a burned over BLM Engine.
I put it on the
Engines 14 photo page. This is one of the photos from the NV Engine
Burnover Report. Ab.
If you don't like your situation, why don't you become one of those
freeloading contractors yourself? Its the life of Riley I tell ya. I was
an underpaid and overworked federal firefighter for over 30 years, now
I'm one of those GD contractors. Let me tell you pal, its no easier on
this side of the fence. Equipment is expensive to operate and maybe you
didn't know, but in all cases, the contractor pays all the operating
expenses. I have to work two weeks just to pay my annual expenses, so
far this year I've got 3 days. I'm not whining, just stating the facts.
When you go looking for work after they get rid of your whiney ass,
don't come knocking on my door.
R4 Fire Contractor
Ms. Kichak said; "We respect the difficulties inherent in the complex and intense situations they address, and I want to express our appreciation for their efforts.”
Her empty words only reinforce my jaundiced and increasingly cynical view of our Federal Government in general and the Forest Service, OSHA and OPM, specifically.
Our Federal agencies are being run by these political hacks who make a GM -15 wage and make recommendations to Congress on issues that they have no clue about, based solely on the bottom line.
We are being sold down the river by these inane people who live for the sound byte or a few lines in a press release.
Our profession is becoming a commercial endeavor, populated by contractors who make a lot of money for minimum effort. A fire I was on this week had an engine sitting in camp making $2,200 a day (as an example). It is not their fault, it is the Government’s. Why not sit in camp for 14 days if you are making that kind of money and with no wear and tear on your equipment. Most of the contract resources are a joke because the Government has paid them to do less than they should be capable of for many years.
One bright note I heard that the Government is reducing the number of contract hand crews by 100 next year. The cut is going to be based on performance. About time I say.
Smokejumper foremen at Redmond Air Center got upgraded to GS-11’s not too long ago. Funny how that slipped under OPM’s radar. Can you guys can help figure out how the rest of us can get paid what we are worth? Or maybe you should just keep your heads down so as you don’t get noticed.
Thanks Ab and FWFSA. You are what’s right about the Wildland Firefighting profession.
OPM, bite me!
As another member of the "Old Shelton folks" I want to wish Ernie's family the best.
Ernie meant a lot to all the people who were lucky to enough to have known him, myself included. He inspired many people who have furthered their careers with the Forest Service. As a Slash Burner in the old Shelton Ranger District, he was the man to listen to and follow, always leading a calm and safe operation, (but he did know when we could add some fuel and get more units done). His life was full of excitement; not only in the work force but in his personnel life as well. He was a blast to be around and the times I got to pit for him during his races were something I have not forgotten. Ernie was also the Forest Service Rep. in the Mason County Demo Derbies (yes some rules were broken to keep up with the Simpson Co. driver's antics) and all in great fun for the Community. Ernie, my hat is off to you and I will never forget what you taught me.
What an appropriate moniker for such an important factor in safety. Human Factors.
The Butterfly Effect....
You say it best... "Take care of your crews, yourself and your families. God bless us, we do the job that no one else will do....Stay safe all."
ButterflyEffect, you are right on target as I see it. As BB said, we lost a pioneer for safety that may have surely understood the Butterfly Effect... the Butterfly Effect is still spreading...... the people who are looking for change are still out there... Change will happen....
Doctrinal Change... Doctrinal Review... If the Agencies or Administration oppose
it.. they will understand it soon...
"Take care of your crews, yourself and your families. God bless us, we do the job that no one else will do"....... AKA.... "dont come to a gunfight with a knife"...... Wildland firefighters are pissed off about political bantering like Ms. Kichac presents... Someone who has never been a wildland firefighter should not be comparing our CREWS, OURSELVES, AND OUR FAMILIES on the frontline. It is O.K. to compare.... just not O.K. to make determinations.
The “CDF” fundraiser you describe is surely a scam! The CDF Firefighters Union occasionally uses a paid phone solicitation organization to raise funds for our benevolent fund, similar to the function of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, to support families of injured firefighters, etc. So if they were representing themselves as raising money for “training and equipment” this is bogus.
Radios: Sent in by JS
SAFETY ALERT 2005-06 Narrowband and Wideband Operation
Anyone interested in a photo of the big guy sporting collar brass!?
Ernie... gone to Big Ernie.
My condolences to the family and friends of Ernie Johnson... I never met him, but he must have been one heck of a proponent of safety and innovation.... So young to retire... so young to die... Such a great loss to all of us, especially those of us who did not get the fortune of meeting him, we will miss the legacy for safety and innovation that he leaves behind.
On the wings of Angels....
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Hi there - here is some information about the services for Ernie Johnson this week. Never in a million years did I think I would be writing this message......
Roy "Ernie" Johnson, retired Forest Service employee, is believed to have died of natural causes on Saturday, August 13th. Ernie started working for the Forest Service when he was 18 years old and retired 25 years later at the age of 43. He spent his entire career on the Olympic National Forest where he influenced the careers of all who met and worked with him.
Ernie was the Hood Canal District FMO when he retired in March of 1996. He was an extraordinary person, inventive and creative. As mentioned earlier, he was key in the invention of the helitorch. Ernie was multi-talented and served in many different roles including Type II Incident Commander, Ops Chief, Logistics Chief and Air Ops.
Ernie was on assignment in Grangeville, ID as an Airspace Coordinator. He was an exceptional airspace coordinator and loved being back within his fire family. Ernie was passionate about aviation and was building an airplane in his backyard.
Ernie is being flown home to Shelton, WA on Wednesday, August 17th by the Forest Service to Sanderson Field at 1300. We understand that he will have a firefighter escort on board the plane. We plan to meet Ernie with a stand up greeting and a line-up of engines and various fire fighting equipment. We are asking attendees to wear their fire shirts.
Viewing is scheduled on Friday, August 19th from 0900-1830 and Saturday from 0800-1200 at the McComb Funeral Home, 703 Railroad Ave, Shelton.
There will be a service for Ernie on Saturday, August 20th at 1:00 PM at the Civic Center in Shelton WA at 525 West Cota St. Fire fighting shirts are welcomed. Ernie is survived by his wife, Teresa (married 33 years this week), and three children; Jennifer (30 - who is having a baby today), Jessica (28) and Eric (22).
Cards and letters may be sent to
McComb Funeral Home
P.O. Box 179
in care of Teresa Johnson and family.
Ernie's large extended fire family is gathering in Shelton to bid him farewell. If you can not be with us, we will post an update as the week goes by.
Thanks for letting us know. One of the excellent contributors to
fire. Condolences. Our thoughts will be with you tomorrow. I added his
name to the Inquiring
Minds Want to Know (IMWTK) page with ref to the helitorch. Ab.
Bill would raise pay for federal firefighters
RED ROCK CANYON NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA, Nev. -- Federal firefighters would receive 24-hour pay when assigned to battle wildfires under proposed legislation that is being opposed by the Bush administration.
"It's a very, very tough job," said Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., who led a congressional subcommittee hearing Friday to explore the issue of compensation for federal firefighters. "I want to make sure they are compensated properly."
For more of this story, click on the URL below:
Good 'nuf. Ab.
Bill would raise pay for federal firefighters
"Casey Judd, business manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association,
All Risk: CDF
responds to call -- man hit by buffalo Buffalo Seriously Injures Worker.
What's the strangest All Risk (wildland) firefighter call you've gotten?
(State, Fed, etc wildland.)
I liked Hickman's photo.
fire helicopter hoists man off mountain
I thought everyone would get a kick out of this. This is from the OPM website and is a public domain press release.
OPM Official Testifies Before Congress on Compensation for Federal Employees who Perform Emergency Functions
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nancy H. Kichak, Acting Associate Director for Strategic Human Resources Policy of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) testified before a House Committee on the issue of compensation for Federal employees who perform emergency functions. She also provided the Administration's views on compensation for Federal wildland firefighters generally and, more specifically, on H.R. 408, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act of 2005.
In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Government Reform and Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Organization, Kichak recognized the importance of the work performed by Federal wildland firefighters and by their state, local, and tribal government colleagues.
"We respect the difficulties inherent in the complex and intense situations they address, and I want to express our appreciation for their efforts," Kichak said.
She discussed the basis for pay and classification of wildland firefighters and those of structural firefighters as related to the differences between their duties and responsibilities.
In providing a statement in opposition to H.R. 408, Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act of 2005, Kichak testified before this hearing chaired by Rep. John C. Porter (R-NV), "In determining our position on H.R. 408, we are governed by three basic principles. First, we need to address the merits of the proposal based on the objectives that must be met to achieve a particular mission. Second, we must try to maintain some level of equity among various groups of Federal employees who face similar challenges. Finally, we are obligated to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively to achieve results for the American people."
I just had a phone call from a person that said she was representing the CDF State firefighters. The caller also stated she was a member of a professional fund raising organization. This person wanted me to donate money for the firefighters training and equipment. Of course I told her to take me off the list and did not donate anything. Any one else been contacted? Is CDF actually doing this or is this a scam? My caller ID listed the number as private.
PF & Ab,
Thanks…got the 60-Second tents handled. Now if I can just work
through this radio fiasco my head might stop throbbing.
Some pics from the IA on the Deer fire on Mendocino 8/9/2005
Thanks TC, I put them on Fire
29 photo page. Made one of them our most recent Home Page fire photo
and added it to the Wallpaper
Readers, check Fire
28 also, in case you missed (or I missed announcing) some new fire
photos there. Ab.
You are correct.
The SITL responsibilities regarding GIS on Incidents is outlined on page 9
in the Draft GIS SOPs for Incidents, Chapter 1 (GIS Minimum Expectations).
The chapters are:
1. GIS Minimum Expectations
2. File Naming and Directory Structure
3. Map Symbology (Standardized Safety Zone and Lookout symbols anyone?)
4. Map Products
5. Minimum Essential Datasets
6. Data Archiving and Sharing
7. Documentation and Metadata
8. Team Transition
This GSTOP project is responsible for clarifying the GIS business needs and
functional standards for incidents. SOPs were developed for the work
performed to fulfill the GIS needs of the Plans Section of the Incident
Management Teams. The project focuses on the GIS needs of wildland fire
incident management, including wildland fire use.
If accepted next fire season these will be NWCG standards. They were
developed by subject matter experts who have been in the field. But more
than anything they will give guidance to over 700 people currently
classified as GISTs in the system- people who have never had an official
standard to look to. These standards will affect what the wildland fire
community sees in your IAPs, your briefings, your planning meetings, and
places such as GEOMAC. Please ensure that we have met your needs. The GSTOP
truly believes we have- but we need to know for sure.
I put some new engine photos up on the Engines
14 photo page. Be sure to read the excellent descriptions. Thanks
everyone. Hickman yer a nut. Ab.
Just one quick note on GIS products. Big shiny maps are cool, but they take time to plot and plotters are hard to come by. The GIS folks do the best they can, but are constantly bombarded with requests for maps. Folks, please coordinate your map requests through the SITL who should be prioritizing the requests. See
for the shift mapping request form and map request T-card. Also remember that the SITL does have some other piddly duties such as the 209. Just ask any IC about their view of
SITLs who don't get the 209 done!
This came in after COMT sent in photos of Eagle AK ast month...
Finally getting some of the photos posted.
OK, so who was ragging on Californian's in Alaska? I'm up here on Walker's team in Eagle. Things are just tippy tappy here. There's a learning curve, but nothing this team can't handle. Remember, this team has been in Montana and Oregon before.... I'm enclosing a few pictures to prove we've adapted just fine. Since everyone is spiked out here we need to brief by radio. Some of the folks covered their tents so that they can sleep in the lonnnnng days up here.
Many thanks to Chrisman's team who did some great work here and left us set up well. Abercrombie, we'd love to hear your stories from the 70's while we're still up here.
Sign this one,
Thanks, I put 'em on the Crews
18 photo page. Also on that page are faller photos of the Blossom
Fire, of the Grayling Crew '05, the Roadrunners Crew '05, the Craig
Hotshots and photos of the Cave Creek Fire including one of Firefighters
and Nuns! Thanks Shari, Dave, UCLA-J, DC, and Proud FF's Mom. Ab.
Peter and Polly Conlon of Beulah CO sent in a cd of fire photos from the Mason Gulch fire. They include
the 5 photos I posted on Handcrews
17 and Fire
28 and others. They're willing to send photo cds to firefighters.
Email Ab for contact info if you're interested.
Mason Gulch Fire Camp, Hotshots in CO: The Mason Gulch Fire burned 7/8-7/15/05. These are photos of the Lassen and Big Bear Hotshots setting up camp in Beulah CO. Taken on 7/12/05 by Peter Conlon.
Hotshots at Work 1, 2 & 3: Mason Gulch Fire. Photos compliments of Karin Kyte Romano. Photos are of the Lassen, Big Bear or Pike Hotshots. If anyone knows
which ones, please let us know.
Still Out There as an AD and others who like the techie advances in the Sit
We, the Fire GIS community, need YOUR help. To all the SITLs, PSCs, ICs and
others that use our maps...
Please review, or get your GISTs to test, the draft SOPs for GIS on
Incidents posted at http://gis.nwcg.gov/gstop/
this fire season. There is
an on-line review form if you have comments while reading the document.
There is also a simple and quick check-list document for those who test the
SOPs on an incident this season.
There are a number of dedicated folks who have gone above and beyond the
call of "other duties as assigned" to put together this draft which we hope
to make final for fire season 2006. But to ensure the SOPs are correct and
then official. We need reviews, feedback, and testing.
Remember even comments saying that we are on the right track are extremely
The Passing of a Great Man
My old boss, Ernie Johnson, passed away recently. He was on an aviation assignment in Idaho and apparently died of natural causes in his motel room.
Ernie had a passion for keeping folks safe, so much so that he was instrumental in the development of the
Helitorch. He worked on this and other innovations because he did not like exposing folks to hand lighting slash units. He knew of the dangers first hand, as he had lit many slash units on the old Shelton Ranger District of the Olympic N. F. Innovators and visionaries like him made the Forest Service the great organization that it was/is! He even tried to light slash units with a
laser... 20 YEARS AGO! It was not tech for tech's sake, or to earn points for promotion... it was to reduce exposure for the firefighters that he loved!
I love him, will miss him, and hope that his legacy lives on!
Jerry wanted me to send you this information on the destructive 2003 Cedar Fire available to all, so you can post it on your site. I was the IA ATGS on that first morning of the Cedar Fire in San Diego, so my view of the rapid destruction was unbelievable to say the least.
Multiple views of the October 2003 Cedar Fires captured by the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network
Evan Morikawa, Atul Nayak, Frank Vernon, Hans-Werner Braun, Ron Serabia, Jennifer Matthews
Abstract: Late October 2003 brought devastating fires to the entire Southern California region. The NSF-funded High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN -
http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/) cameras captured the development and progress of the Cedar Fire in San Diego County. Cameras on Mt. Laguna, Mt. Woodson, Ramona Airport, and North Peak, recording one frame every 12 seconds, allowed for a time-lapse composite showing the fire’s formation and progress from its beginnings on October 26th, to October 30th.
The time-lapse camera footage depicts gushing smoke formations during the day, and bright orange walls of fire at night. The final video includes time synchronized views from multiple cameras, and an animated map highlighting the progress of the fire over time, and a directional indicator for each of the displaying cameras. The video is narrated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Fire Captain Ron Serabia (retired) who was working then as the Air Tactical Group Supervisor with the first aerial assault on the Cedar Fire Sunday October 26, 2004.
The movie is available as a free download on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Visualization Center Visual Objects library:
www.siovizcenter.ucsd.edu/library/iotd/2004/09/wildfire.phpl. You can request a DVD of the movie by sending email to Atul Nayak (firstname.lastname@example.org). The DVD has extra features such as a movie of vegetation growth after the fires taken by the HPWREN station at La
(supported by the OptIPuter project)
I asked Joe Millar (FMO Shasta Trinity NF) that question last week. I
was all excited with the Deer Fire on the Mendocino. His short answer
for our forest and probably the Six Rivers NF as well is probably no Big
Bar Complex because we're not in a drought year or season following a
series of drought years. As I understand it, we're likely to get small
fires if we have ignition as we have some dry fine fuels at mid- and
low-elevation, but the bigger stuff that has to burn for the sustained
fire isn't extremely dry this year.
Looks like the action is in ID and MT and OR and WA.
I hate to say it, but there was a touch of Fall in the air
yesterday, but maybe it's just a break from the 3 weeks of really hot
that we've had!
You can always check those maps links via the Links
page under weather. Ab.
Firecache.com and Montgomery Marketing (www.mmi-fed.com) have the Catoma
speed dome 60-second tent.
Firecache/SupplyCache helps support this website. Their
banner/link is at the top of the page. Ab.
The Grand Canyon Helitack operation uses folks from several operational
areas. The wildland folks that are assigned are both permanent and
seasonal. Their primary duties are wildland fire related but they will
fill in on the other operations as needed and trained. The Rangers are the
lead on the SAR operations and supply most of the medics that fly with the
ship. They do a lot of short haul in and out of the canyon. I don't think
they are doing any rappelling at this time. The primary ship is a NOTAR to
reduce noise which is a major concern at Grand Canyon.
We covered all possible bases that we could think of Molly's, then some. Everything by the book. We have "Little Birds" (uav helicopters) covering, flanks & forward, and any blind spots we may have, all trigger points are being observed by lookouts & safeties (10/18/LCES is definitely covered), we had 2 tires in good black,
escape routes (primary and 2 alternates marked/flagged, "RIT" Tenders (5K Tacticle) less than 1/4 mile down the road, Heavy Helos is support of area ops, two 5000 gpm portable pumps supplying 5" hose to 2 portable deck guns.
But no, wasn't going to face the Dragon on its terms. We didn't lay out as much sprinkler pipe as you probably did to protect the Old Faithful Inn but we do have smaller like systems in place, that fire in Yellowstone (one of several large ones that eventually merged) sure burned a nice circle around Old Faithful. Sula (Saving Sula 2003?), was a good job, though not many of us had 20 years experience, we sure had some great mentors there.
Oh Molly's...The "Big Yellow Monsters" is what we refer to our 5 Engine Strike Team, they're all yellow and we all want to go home safely after this job. Be Safe All... Peace Out.
Rumor control: For resources this year is it agency before contract or
closes resource, not bagging on anybody just bored sitting here in R-3???
Rest assured I Was There,
The SoCal Type 2 Team, Walker, that has been dispatched to the Mission Creek
fire in Eagle AK will do well. Armed residents will not faze them. Nor will the differences
of the geography. These folks are professionals that have dealt with far worse.
Has anyone heard any predictions for the Mendocino, SixRivers, Shasta-T, Plumas,
Lassen NFs? NorCal? Any chance we'll have a late season like '99?
COG and MT Firefly
Yes, Goat Mtn lookout still stands (what's left of it). Has not been
staffed in last 20 yrs that I know of, vandalized way too many times, and
not maintained. Basically it's been written off.
Rambob- thanks for the corrections! Your dates are correct: I had a few synapse gaps
between the brain and the typing fingers. Not the first time, and likely not the last from
this old slide-rule forester!
I googled Goat Mountain Lookout Tower and found out it is still standing
(from the last report). Try google.com, and find the same info I did.
AB - my tongue was firmly implanted in my cheek when I responded to Engine Boss Dawn about her Big Yellow Monster and the worst fires that the Dragon can throw at us.
But, that said, I was serious about not underestimating the potential of Mother Nature ("the Dragon") to throw the unimaginable at us, and our need to place our egos in check and "hope for the best, but plan for the worst". I used some fires from the past 20 years that may have set new standards for "how bad it can get" in the hopes of dispelling an attitude of invincibility. After my experiences at Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone NP on September 7, 1988 I'll never believe again that I can overcome "....whatever the Dragon decides to throw at us." Without the expert predictions of Dick Rothermel, and our preparation of extensive safety zones, there might have been a different outcome that afternoon. We were lucky too, but you can't always count on luck.
Just thought I'd input some corrections to Mollysboy's response to the big dragon thing
or whatever they were talking about: The Hog Fire was 1977 (Everything burned up in
N Zone in 87), the Bitterroot Valley fires were 2000.
Indeed, Ted Putnam deserves our deep appreciation for taking a stand
holding the line in not signing off on that South Canyon Fatality
"Our Good" for finally acknowledging him with the fire
Hello all from beautiful Redmond, OR,
I wanted to update everyone on the latest for the 52 mile run.
First, after talking with Tony Duprey and Vicky, we decided to push the date ahead to Sept. 10th. Tony has another commitment, Vicky felt this would give us a little more time for folks to decide if they wished to pledge, and the road I will be running on is pretty busy, and this will get us away from Labor Day weekend. This will also hopefully give Lori a chance to make it down. I know you wanted to Lori, but you had other
commitments as well.
The run will start at 0530. That gives me plenty of time to get through before it starts getting dark towards the end.
I drove the route last week. It looks good except in a few places, but that should not be a problem. I did draw a map (I coudn't find a map small enough with enough detail to digitize) We'll scan it and send it to "Wildlandfire" And then we'll have the big map on hand at the start for anyone who shows up to look at.
The route (on 9/10/05 in SoCal):
From the front gate at Fox AAB east to 40th street W, then south (this is actually trail) to Ave "J" (LACO fire sta.) then west back to 50th st. W. From there south to Ave. "N" (Albetson's market). West to 60th st W. then up the first grueling hill "Godde" and around to Elizabeth lake Rd. Turn west on Eliz. Lake for about a mile to Bouquet Canyon rd. Follow Bouquet all the way into Santa Clarita past Texas Canyon Fire station (T.C. is approx half way) At Haskell Canyon road, I head north to Copper Hill Road and head west on C.H. (another steep and long hill). C.H. to McBean Parkway to Magic Mountain Parkway and around the Valencia Mall (twice) and then west on Valencia Blvd.west to Tourney rd. then north back to Magic mtn. Parkway then west under I-5 to Old road (frontage along I-5) North to Henry Mayo Rd. and west to LACO Fire sta. 76. (there is a turn-out just west of Sta. 76) I may have to pass the finish line and make a small loop to get the 52 miles, but that turn-out will be the finish line.
My wife, Wendy, will pace me for the first ten or so miles (she has an awesome ultra runner pace). After that I won't need any pacer until I get towards the end. However, if folks want to run along that's cool, but I will be in my own little world there from about T.C. There are plenty of turn outs and day use areas along Bouquet. I do caution (and we'll have a quick safety briefing before the start) bike riders on certain stretches of Bouquet.
Chances are it will be hot that day, so make sure you bring fluids, etc.
Okay folks, that's about it for now. Get the word out there about pledges.
If anyone has any specific questions, post them here, and I will get back to you.
Sign up. Ab. Ken
Anyone want to design a flyer we can send around and post in
To AZ Trailblazer, danfromord and others,
Having been born in Willows, I only recently have come to appreciate the history and significance of these events. I wish I weren't so far away, I would have enjoyed the day! In the mid sixties, just out of high school, I worked in the Office at the MNF headquarters. My son has been a hotshot on a SW crew. But what I mostly am writing about is to inquire - whatever happened to the Goat Mountain lookout tower in the Mendocino NF? My parents spent the summer of '48 there and I have their stories about fires and some cool photos (including me learning to walk on the platform around the tower). Anybody know about this lookout? Thanks.
I also am not a fan of the after accident / fatality review system. The reason for the dislike is why it's published. Every year bushes burn, houses are threatened and some of our brothers and sisters are injured or even worse. The system that is in place to investigate these horrible accidents isn't perfect nor are the people asked to investigate these incidents. Many times the reenactment isn't accurate because no one was there to see the facts or to witness what really happened on site. What the system is there for is to enlighten folks like myself to the terrible consequences of poor S/A. The more that we see the more we will learn. The more that we study the more we will understand. The more we work together and follow our SOP's/SOG's the less these reports and studies will be published. Take care of your crews, yourself and your families. God bless us, we do the job that no one else will do....Stay safe all.
Engine Boss Dawn - sure am glad to hear that ".....the Big Yellow Monsters are ready for whatever the Dragon cares to throw at us."
It's good to know that as long as your "big yellow monsters" are on duty, we'll never have another "Hog Fire" (1987, NorCal); Yellowstone (1988); Bitterroot Valley (2003, Montana); or Cedar Fire (2003, SoCal), along with lots of other memory-makers that the Dragon has chosen to throw at us mere mortals who didn't have the "big yellow monsters" to put the Dragon down.
Keep up the good work, but keep an eye on the 10/18/LCES just in case the "big yellow monsters" should burp, or the Dragon comes in with a surprise that you haven't seen before!
Mollysboy, I hope you have your tongue in cheek on this. Best to
keep posts about the "what, not the who" for the greatest
information sharing. No need for personal "digs" to make your
Re AT 50th anniversary at Willows CA
I wish I would have known you were there. I could have shown you some more local history. You didn't mention the other local F.D.'s that were there. Kanawha & Hamilton City. (mine was the white 1-ton with the slip-in).
When I was in high school and a big fire was rippin, my buddys and I and lots of other the local folks would go out to the airport and sit and watch the air show. If it flew and you could bolt a tank into it, it became an Air Tanker. Little did I realize then what a huge piece of history was before our eyes. Willows and the surrounding Glenn Co. area is farm country. As Greg Nolta pointed out, the air tanker business was a way to pay for the aircraft after the farmwork was over for the season. The original Pilots were our friends and neighbors, I feel grateful to have known many of them. We only honored the first 7 pilots, several of the pilots from the second year lived and raised their families in Willows and continued flying crop dusters for years. The stories about these guys and the program go on and on but a short little bit of folklore that didn't come out was Frank Varney (one of the original 7 pilots) it's told buy a very good source that he held the US Navy Pilots license #1.
I am trying to locate a good copy of the Chilao patch from 1979 to 1984
It is for a retirement gift to a friend of mine. It stated that the patch was submitted by
J.R. and was designed by Jim Beard.
Greetings for Idaho:
My crew just finished our 3rd day of structure protection here at Blackerby. Trying out some new equipment, strategy and tactics so far all has worked great. The Big Yellow Monsters are ready for whatever the Dragon cares to throw at us. We know where the Elk will be moving to this
fall... Steaks on the Grill. Good Luck and Stay Safe all of you out here in the woods.
Just wondering if you or anyone else had any information on the Grand Canyon Helitack crew. Are they rangers or a seasonal firefighting crew? Also if anyone knows if they fly with medics on board who are also cross trained in firefighting? Repel capabilities or short haul? I tried to find some info on the net but haven't been able to find a whole bunch. The stuff that I have found sounds pretty cool. Also any CDF people out there what is the capabilities of your helitack crews? Mostly EMTs or do you also fly with medics? Any info that someone could provide would be great!
Hello I need your help.
Years ago I used to receive NIFC morning reports in my private email. I believe it was
from vita.org. Any idea where I can find these?
>From Section 7070.2 of the 7000 Handbook (Fire Operations)
Downhill/indirect line construction in steep terrain and fast burning fuels shall be done with extreme caution. Direct
attack methods shall be used whenever possible. The following guidelines shall be followed before firefighting
- The decision to fight fire downhill is made by a competent firefighter after thorough scouting.
- Downhill line construction shall not be attempted when fire is present directly below the proposed starting point.
- The fire-line shall not lie in or adjacent to a chimney or chute that could burn out while members are in the vicinity.
- Communication is established between the members working downhill and members working uphill from below. When neither
group can adequately observe the fire, communications will be established between the members and supervising overhead. At
this time a lookout with communications will be posted where the fire's behavior can be seen.
- Members will be able to rapidly reach a zone of safety from any point along the line if the fire unexpectedly crosses
- A downhill line shall be securely anchored at the top. Avoid under-slung line.
- Full compliance with "THE STANDARD FIRE ORDERS" is assured. If possible line firing should be done as the line progresses, beginning
from the anchor point at the top.
>From the Incident response Pocket Guide:
Downhill fireline construction is hazardous in steep terrain, fast-burning fuels, or rapidly changing weather.
Downhill fireline construction should not be attempted unless there is no tactical alternative. When building
downhill fireline, the following is required:
- Crew supervisor(s) and fireline overhead will discuss assignments prior to committing
crew(s). Responsible overhead individual will stay with job until completed (TFLD or ICT4 qualified or
- Decision will be made after proposed fireline has been scouted by supervisor(s) of involved
- L.C.E.S. will be coordinated for all personnel involved.
• Crew supervisor(s) is in direct contact with lookout who can see the fire.
• Communication is established between all crews.
• Rapid access to safety zone(s) in case fire crosses below crew(s).
- Direct attack will be used whenever possible; if not possible, the fireline should be completed between
anchor points before being fired out.
- Fireline will not lie in or adjacent to a chute or chimney.
- Starting point will be anchored for crew(s) building fireline down from the top.
- Bottom of the fire will be monitored; if the potential exists for the fire to spread, action will be
taken to secure the fire edge.
On 8/5 BLM Bob said:
and its partner website http://myfirecommunity.net/
are terrific resources for this sort of thing, and They Said readers would do well
to browse those sites when looking for info. It's never a bad idea to start there.”
I have to echo BLM Bob on that.
They Said is wonderful. It’s the pace and range of discussion in fire camp
while eating dinner in the caterer’s tent. It’s the discussion of Hotshots
and engine crews and team members and camp crew and helitack and overhead.
It is made up of stories (“No %^&*@#$* there I was”), humor, rumor,
philosophical observations, new ideas, discussion of new equipment, etc –
not unlike what occurs around the campfire on an initial attack fire. It’s
the sweat and grime and muscle and smoke and brain of firefighters all
mixed up in one place, vying for our attention.
For those of us who are on the path of developing ourselves, along the
lines of Paul Gleason’s legacy – as “students of fire”, the Wildland Fire
Lessons Learned Center and Community Center are invaluable resources. The
Lessons Learned site includes a link to an extensive library. It contains
thousands of reports and other documents sent in by wildland fire
professionals from around the world. Also here are links to information
about After Action Reviews (AARs), the Center’s publications – the
Scratchline and the Learning Curve, and the Winning Series – invaluable
information on tactics, techniques and procedures that have proven to work
in various parts of the country and on various types of incidents.
Many of the documents from the library are accessible through the Community
Center site as well, but with more robust searching capability. In addition
there is the infrastructure in place to allow extensive discussion for
those in fire management who have special interests. This Discussion Center
component of the Community Center has very robust capabilities but
unfortunately seems to have dismal participation to date. I’d really like
to see the sparks that would start flying here if this capability were to
be taken up by some students of fire.
That’s some quick highlights of the sites. I have found them to be very
useful in researching and staying abreast of issues in fire management. I
would invite all the “students of fire” who visit They Said to take a look
at the site. To my view there’s a lot there now and it has incredible
potential to be even more in the future.
Ab, the only thing I would add here is that, to my mind, it would be ideal
if They Said had a prominent link in a red button at the top of the page
(instead of at the bottom of the Links page) to the Lessons Learned Center.
And, I think it would be right to have a prominent link at the Lessons
Learned Center to They Said – in fact I am emailing this letter and thus
this suggestion to Paula Nasiatka – the center manager. The entire wildland
fire community would benefit by bringing these two sites in cyberspace
We'll consider that, although our Links Page is not set up to have
Lessons Learned at the top. The Lessons Learned site does get mentioned
frequently here on theysaid, as it is a terrific resource. So is the
Fireline Leadership site. Excellent work and they just get better. I did
move Lessons Learned to the top of the Safety Category on the Links
I am a fireman for Fairfax County, Va. I want to get into wildland firefighting, and take some classes and get certified in it. Where could I get this training around here? If I do get training, will I be able to travel out west when there is a big fire? Please send me information on anything that will help out. I appreciate any help.
Marc, many of our easterners are out west fighting fire. If no one replies now, try asking again in early January. Ab.
For those who have asked, the hot list forum went offline briefly
today as Original Ab shut down the new Familysaid chat room. It got hijacked to some degree by a huge group of roving revelers. Thanks ~C for letting us know.
Our regular chat room is still available, link button in the shared
header. Familysaid Chat requires a username and password. Email us if
you want one. Ab.
Ukonom, have fun in Idaho. Be Safe!
MapGuy, Keyhole is an amazing program, apparently on Sep 6th 1995 at
17:57.23 hours PST I was mowing my lawn, as you can see me clearly on
my pops old mower from above!
Be safe all and have fun
Gizmo - referencing your comments about "Quarterbacks/Investigators": take a quick read
of Maclean's book "Fire on the Mountain". Not all QBs follow the coaches orders!
Thanks for your observations about the latest technology. It doesn't seem that long ago that you had field observers coming in and saying, "naw, I don't think the fire's to that ridge yet, but it sure burned out that draw ..." And morning briefings weren't complete without taped-together topo maps with big magic-marker lines. GPSing the perimeters, GIS capabilities, IR, and the work of the techo-wizards have done so much for wildland firefighting. No doubt, we need real people drawing on their professional experience and that "sixth sense" that can almost tell you ahead of time that there's a problem. But I've sure been impressed with the technological advances that have been made in the situation unit over the last ten years or so.
Still Out There As An AD
Got an email from Original Ab and he's having waaaaay too much fun
with it. Watch out or you might get imaged in yer hottub (fer example)
in whatever yer wearing (or not)... Ab.
Well, the 50th anniversary of the airtanker program came and went.
For those who were fortunate enough not to be on a fire assignment and had the time to stop by one of the coolest little California I-5 towns, fun time were held by all!!
CDF had their static display of an OV10 and a S2T tanker, and if you waited around for a bit, the tanker made a great low pass flyby for the crowd of about 200. CDF also had one of
their helitack crews and helo on display as well as a local medical helo and CHP helos were on hand.
The original Stearman tanker (kinda crashed some years ago), and one of the other first run Stearman airtankers were on hand. They also had a Tanker 474 (SEAT) who did a flyby and water drop demo.
Lots of fire aviation history in this little town, which by the way is gateway to the
Mendocino NF. This is definitely a forest service town with the local ranger district on hand with an engine, water tender, and a couple of crews. NPS and FWS were here as well. Willows Fire Department was on hand as well with a great display of their equipment and crews. I think every 4th person in Willows volunteers for the fire department!
The talks of of the history of the tanker program and the rededication of the plaque was moving.
It was great to be apart of fire aviation history. Hope to see everyone there for the 100 year anniversary! I'll be 86! Save me a spot in the shade!!
From the National FAM Safety Team:
Communication issues are being addressed. The National MAC has released this:
Delegation of Authority
Fire & Aviation Safety Team (FAST)
Hope this gets a handle on things...
Re: investigations of entrapments, fatalities, and injuries.
Aren't investigators just "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" also?
1) They were not on scene of the incident when the accident occurred.
2) They get their marching orders from the "owners of the team" and the "coach" through line officer directions.
3) If the quarterback (investigator) makes a play that the "owner" or "coach" did not call, the play (report) does not get called.
It is amazing how many times the "coach" or "owner" can manipulate the calls (reports) of the Quarterback.
If you know of such a thing, you should report it. Ab.
Does anyone out there know where I can purchase 60-second tents in bulk?
I don’t even know the manufacturer. But they sure are handy.
Sure is nice when Ma Nature cooperates once in a while isn't it? Glad the
FF's had a reasonable chance to corral this one. Thanks for your reply.
MNF deer fire
Rest assured, the MNF is not using the Deer fire to achieve Forest
Objectives. This fire was in suppression mode from day one, and remains
that way. Lastest 209 shows 75% contained. I understand the team is
planning on turning it back to the Forest as of Monday 8/15 if everything
goes as planned, and it will be managed as a type III incident. We were
lucky on this one in that the weather cooperated, and fire basically laid
down after one burning period, which is unusual for this time of year on
Hello Ab & All...
Thanks Ab for your response to my last post here on your forum. Yes I have completed the L-380 course and found it rather useful as the rest of the courses from NWCG, NFA, State & Federal Agency I have completed. We were discussing "Monday Morning Quarterback" so I thought I would add some comments and opinions for my "Cheap" seat. I don't have any secret sources that I can't "Revile", wait I graduated the 8th grade, "Reveal", thats better, like the guy who knew before the rest of us about the I-90 Burnover but Ab you hit it on the head when you said that the coming investigation would provide accurate details as to what happened. I'm just grateful that the 3 firefighters involved survived and will live to see another day.
As for <snip's> comments I think he's "Reviled" dang did it again, "Revealed" that his knowledge of any subject containing the word "Fire" is quite limited, I'm surprised that he's just sharpshooting the wildland fire community, from the comfort of his computer, and not the rest of the fire service.
Ok thats my 2 cents worth, to all those of you out doing the job in "Real Time", Be Safe and bring everyone back safe at the end of the shift.
haw haw on the funny typo. The person's spell checker didn't catch
that one... Gave me a good guffaw. Ab.
Thanks for a great site, it has been fun to watch it come along over the years.
I have been working mapping fires since '99, and have been really blown away by some recent new web-based tools that we have to gather intel. Wanted to share a few of them:
All you need to access a great library of online Satellite Imagery are the lat/long
(decimal degrees seem to work the best) of the fire. You can use GEOMAC.GOV's
map viewer to zoom to any fire in the Sit. Report, and then check out ownership, thermal satellite images, and fire perimeters.
Use the "Identify" tool to get the lat/long of a fire. Then use the lat/long to search in Google Maps or Google Earth.
Google Earth - http://earth.google.com
- is a free map browser that lets you look at satellite imagery in 3-d, and spin it around (you need to download the
free browser, have a fast internet connection and a fairly new computer, but it
is a great tool!) If you don't want Google Earth, Google Maps - http://maps.google.com
- let's you look at the same imagery, just not in 3-d.
WARNING, DO NOT USE GOOGLE EARTH UNLESS YOU HAVE A LOT OF FREE TIME TO CHECK IT OUT, AS IT IS TOTALLY ADDICTIVE!
Most of the imagery is a few years old, but fires show up well - there are some great high-res images of the Biscuit Fire effects for example.
Interesting stuff. I have heard that some websters are working
with the google maps programs to take 'em even further and make 'em much
more responsive to individual needs and purposes. It will be interesting
to see how it all may apply to fire. Ab.
FWFSA Secures Commitment from Subcommittee on Classification & Pay Reform
The FWFSA appeared before the House Subcommittee on The Federal Workforce & Agency Organization yesterday outside of Las Vegas for the purpose of a congressional hearing on HR 408, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act. Also providing testimony in favor of HR 408 was Mr. Ryan Beamer, Southern District VP for the Professional Firefighters of Nevada.
As expected, a representative from The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was there to offer opposition to the bill and the Forest Service was there not to comment on the policy of HR 408, but to provide insight as to what federal wildland firefighters do.
It was not lost on the Chairman that despite classifying our folks as a variety of technicians, the OPM representative and FS representative continually referred to our folks as firefighters.
As a result, the committee chairman, Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV) committed on the record to make it a priority to address the proper classification issue for wildland firefighters as well as pay reform for our firefighters. He steadfastly offered his disagreement with assessments offered by the OPM representative.
There is no doubt that months and years of work by the FWFSA with committee staff enabled the Chairman to have a clear understanding of the issues. The Subcommittee will now report its findings and recommendations to the full Government Reform committee. In the meantime, the FWFSA will continue to work to secure additional support in the House as well as a Senate companion bill and work with congressional staff to move the bill.
Despite earlier assumptions that this was a bill not likely to be taken to the floor of the House for a vote, but rather "attached" to another bill, the response from the subcommittee might in fact make it feasible to take the bill to the floor during the height of the fire season and challenge members of congress to oppose it while fires rage. Timing is everything but ultimately we will need to rely on the experts in DC who know how to maneuver these things.
In any regards, federal wildland firefighters are a huge step closer to realizing the reform or elimination of long-standing, archaic pay and personnel policies. Quite frankly, hearings would not have been held if Congress had not been convinced these issues needed attention.
If you have any questions, please contact Casey Judd at FWFSAlobby@aol.com
or (916) 515-1224.
Thanks FWFSA and Casey. Ab.
viejo, and others
I think its funny how people will give their opinions
on fires when they aren't there and then think they
are right. That country the crews are in right now is
some of the nastiest in Oregon. I commend the crews
on their efforts because I know their task isn't easy.
I had to listen to a person the other day tell me all
they were doing on the fire is rehabbing and
heli-mopping even though he hasn't been to the fire
nor would he want to be there. There are to many
people that let their mouth run at 100mph and their
brains are running at 2mph (Speeding with the brakes
CDF Downhill Line Construction
The difference in the CDF and NWCG (1998 edition) is that two words were changed. “Should” became “Shall”. You can see the problem. It is found in only one place in the CDF Handbook system: Handbook 7000. This handbook was an attempt to recreate an older CDF fire control handbook that had existed for years carried on all apparatus and was known as the “5600.”
The section is 7070.2 and it is problematic. The solution is very easy and that is to bring it in line with the 2004 NWCG edition. Will they? Who knows.
“Another CDF BC”
The dates I have for the various color schemes show 19whenever to 1956 being Dark Green
So 1953 would be dark green, I've also heard some vehicles were dark green with black fenders. Also for a few years in the 50's there were some FS fire vehicles painted red.
In the photo section there is a picture of a Model T owned by the San Bernardino, it should be similar to what you are looking for, I see it has the green with black fenders scheme, I've heard this was also common on FS Dodge Powerwagons as well. Perhaps you could contact the forest for more detailed info.
Here is the caption with the photo,
"San Bernardino Model
T: Here's a photo of the model T that Forest Service owns. Well actually it's the San Bernardino National Forest that has it. It was not an engine, but the Chief Officer's vehicle. We just decided to post all our old vehicles together. Here's the
request form if you want to use it for your local event. Photo sent in by MAW."
I believe this vehicle is going to be on the Stanislaus NF for their
centennial celebration in October, if that is closer to you.
You just need to look at the photos to know that no
IHC superintendent or crew boss is going to commit his
crew down into any of that country...from reading
articles to looking at the pics you can tell that the
teams are doing what they can with a very complex
situation...you have to remember there are a lot of
politics involved with fighting fires (safety
concerns, liability, scenic areas, etc, etc...)
Don't forget this celebration in Willows CA tomorrow:
Aerial firefighting nods to pioneers to mark 50 years
As someone who just timed out on the Blossom fire and spent an entire 14 day roll on it, I don't appreciate your comments of it being a sham. The Crew Members from El Cariso, Ukonom, Jackson, Morning Star, Smokey Bear, Elk Mountain, Winema, Rouge River would most likely disagree, in that
we all busted our butts to control this fire. And unless you were actually on the line and hiked the blossom fire, not in country like, you would agree that we were doing every thing possible to extinguish, but we can only do what the terrain and fire behavior allows us to do. The terrain in and around Blossom & Mule Creeks are some of the tuffest I have ever put line in.
photos of steep terrain
The Orca l team tried everything possible and sometimes it still does not work. For reasons you are not privy to, the Blossom fire is extremely political due to the Rogue River Scenic Wilderness. The local Forest Management and County have put major restraints on the team. Good luck to all of the folks still out there on the line.
Thanks for the slap in the face, but I am going to spend the rest of my 2 mandatory days off with my family.
Casey, Good luck with today's hearings.
Thanks for the links to revealing photos. Anyone who wants to
understand the politics involved, call the ICP and ask. I just
As I reported before, there are a lot of cooperating "players"
on this fire. Decisions are being made by Unified Command with input
from a number of agencies that stand to loose personnel and valued
natural resources if fire is not fought safely and aggressively.
Lohrey's Type I Team and ODF are the main two agencies involved right
now, but they coordinate with the Coos Fire Assn and the Curry County Sheriffs Office
as well. The Rogue River has been closed to rafting and overnight river
camping since the fire rolled over containment lines in the Mule Creek
area several days ago. If you look at the photos, you see why stopping
it is incredibly difficult. Yesterday fire was continuing to back slowly down very steep slopes
(80%) of Mule Mountain toward the Rogue River. As a result of all this,
public interest is high and the media are watching. Be Safe
Firefighters. We appreciate your good work. Ab.
I don't think viejo understands the whole realm of this incident, heavily dissected terrain with very limited options for direct
attack. Hell I heard the rappeller's ropes would'nt touch the ground on IA ? Just hear say but the ORCA team wanted to go direct, but the Type 1 Crews said no way. After Cramer and other incidents I believe these folks are doing a good job of making sure everybody does get home for Christmas
SAFETY FIRST, am I wrong?
Signed Steep N Deep
A good source of info about the western Montana fires is www.missoulian.com:
they have knowledgeable and experienced reporters (they all got lots of experience
in 2000 & 2003), and the posted reports are real timely.
I’m with Ab on this one. For one with such vehemence and self-prescribed firefighting
“ethics,” I think you should march yourself right up to the Blossom ICP and speak your
mind. The IMT assigned is Lohrey’s team. They just replaced ORCA. I’m sure they
would be interested in your thoughts.
Hey there Dave,
Sorry it took me so long to respond back to you, but the kids and I just got back from New Orleans. John's family had a wonderful family reunion to honor his memory. So, I will send you cookies and brownies. Let me know how many people are on your crew and where I should send them. My email is
LGreeno @ msn.com and no matter what happens, i.e. Ken finishing or not, the cookies are yours. Anyone who is willing to help out the WFF deserves some goodies. Any other takers??
I'm sure glad the acreage was downsized and the explanation being that more accurate maps was utilized. It's a tough job to do the mapping and I know everybody's always wanting to know the results immediately. Nice job. I've been on the MNF more times than I can count on all toes as an Air Attack Officer, Helitack FC, as well as a lowly "ground pounder". Tough country and LOTS OF IT. Here's hoping that the IC isn't constrained by having to let the incident grow to "achieve forest objectives" which usually aren't announced until well into the incident. There's a lot of RARE II and sensitive areas to the Northeast and it would be a darn shame if unwanted fire was allowed to advance into these areas.
Have been watching (reading) your site for a while now and find it an interesting place to view different opinions as well as information. A very nice way to keep in touch for a retired 35 year employee of CDF. I have been following the interchanges with "viejo" and others and I must admit that "viejo" points out some extremely obvious facts. I certainly agree with his latest regarding the forest's spending of 11 MILLION of the tax payer's monies w/o bringing this thing anywhere NEAR containment...much less control. For a piece of land that the taxpayers can't get into (according to the guys/gals "fighting" this thing!) it sure is getting pricey. Kudos to you for all the hard work you obviously put into this forum.
Greetings ALL, Need some help from anybody. Especially
you old timers.
Does anyone know or have a picture of the Original
color of the Forest Service vehicles Cira 1950's? Also
we are trying to find F.S. Door decals of that time as
well (picture would be Great). We are restoring a 1953
Willys Jeep and looking to paint the jeep the Original
FS color, but need a picture so we can try and get the
colored matched. Any help would be appreciated.
link to AP article on deployment
Old Fire Guy
Running Red Lights
I have run red lights while under contract for the Forest Service on
district and also as a strike team of type I engines responding from
Western Washington to Eastern Washington on a state mobilization. It
seems to me that the more visible that you can make yourself the safer
that you are going to be, especially if you are going to be working
along busy roads on initial attack. Also I know each state has its own
driving program for "running code" and I have seen park service vehicles
running code on state highways (transporting medical patients). Anyways,
not to make the subject any more confusing, just adding some
I would rather be falling a burning snag in the wilderness anyways.
Where can I download the full Tuolumne Fire Report?
CDF has not made it available, only the Executive Summary. The link
to that was posted 8/10 and 8/3. Ab.
Well let me be the first to let everyone in the rumor mill in on some
deployment was not because they were being over run and did not want to
be baked. This was a environmental deployment, you know lot and lots of
embers. Yes the shelter can be used in many ways.
I'm sorry but I can revile my sources do to the investigation but its
signed someone who heard way before all you guys.
Reveal? I am sure
the investigation will provide information. Ab.
viejo, that's your opinion, not mine. If you need more concrete
details, visit the incident and speak in person with those involved.
This is not the Biscuit Fire. Ab.
We are now 3 weeks into the Blossom Complex on the Siskiyou NF. We have
watched the fire grow with a slow ROS from less than 50 acres to more
than 3,000 acres (including burnouts). We have watched the transition
from a type 2 team to a Type 1 team and observed as the Forest has spent
almost 11 million dollars with no containment, no control.
I support my Federal Brother and Sister Fire fighters in their quest for
equal pay and benefits, but it becomes difficult to do so when fires are
not extinguished in the most expedient manner. How can we justify asking
for portal to portal pay when its obvious the Siskiyou NF hopes this
fire will burn until it rains? As the fire weather worsens that becomes
a real possibility.
I pick on this particular incident as it is close to home. I know the
area, the fuels and the terrain. I am familiar with burning conditions
in the area and have fought fires on the Klamath and the Six Rivers NF.
I know that any fire if allowed to burn in that area is not going to
The members of this forum should be as outraged at this abuse of the
system as I am. It only demeans the efforts of those crews who are out
there bustin' their butts to control wildfires as quickly as possible.
If the Siskiyou or any forest wants to introduce fire into the wildland,
I am all for it, but don't promote a sham like this. viejo
Check the link to Rogue River / Siskiyou National Forest for updates on
Blossom Complex and Blossom Fire.
I asked several CDF active and retired who have been involved with
Training at Ranger Unit and Statewide level about downhill fireline
construction standards. I was told CDF adopted the NWCG downhill line
construction standards. It is further recommended that the line should
be securely anchored at the top and firing should progress with line
construction to provide a continuous safety expanding safety zone.
The Eva Schicke report notes that CDF and Federal guidelines for
downhill line construction vary slightly, but I have been unable to find
out where the difference is.
The CDF policy manual has become terribly fragmented in recent years and
I doubt if anyone can locate THE POLICY. It is written several different
sub chapters and different TO's might have a different take on the
Obviously this is a hazardous tactic. viejo
In case you didn't get this from another source already, this is
today's news release from the multiple deployment on the Tarkio Fire
For Immediate Release ~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ninemile, Montana -- At approximately 7 pm this evening, August 10,
2005, three firefighters working on the Tarkio Fire in the I-90 Complex
of fires on the Lolo National Forest deployed their fire shelters during
a period of very active burning on the north side of the fire. All three
firefighters are unharmed and have contacted their families by satellite
phone to inform them of this evening’s event.
Fire shelters are tent-like devices constructed of reflective materials
designed specifically to protect firefighters from burns in emergency
situations. The fire shelters worked as intended in this instance,
leaving the firefighters unharmed.
Firefighting agencies consider the deployment of fire shelters a serious
event, and have initiated an investigation to determine the specific
sequence of events that resulted in the need to deploy the shelters.
These investigations are routine following shelter deployments and are
intended to determine if the need for shelter deployment could have been
prevented. Investigations of this nature are conducted to improve
firefighter safety in order to prevent future accidents or injuries.
Safety of firefighters and the public is always the highest priority
objective during wildland fire incidents.
A press conference on the shelter deployment is scheduled for 8:30 am
Thursday, August 11, at the I-90 Complex fire camp near Ninemile Ranger
AP says that 3 firefighters on the Tarkio fire deployed their fire
yesterday evening when flames got too close. The fire burned burned over
them but all 3 escaped without injury. They returned to camp late last
Check the hot list.
Has anybody heard anything about a shelter deployment on the I-90
in Montana? Supposedly a dozer operator and one or two others deployed.
My family and I wanted to send a heartfelt message to Carlos Inzuna and
family and to the family of Chris Kanton. Just wanted to let you know
are in our thoughts and prayers. Firefighters are a close family and it
doesn't matter what department or agency we work for we stick together.
firefighters across this great nation are filled with great sadness when
lose any of our brothers and sisters and we are here for you now. Any
that is needed feel free to contact me via email at: firektjoyce @
May God comfort and protect you in these very difficult times!!
On the day that the Shuttle Discovery launched Dr. Amy Donahue, Senior
Advisor to the Administrator of NASA (2002-2004) and a member of the
NASA Return to Flight Task Group, sent an email to a mailing list she'd
developed during the Shuttle Columbia Search and Recovery. She said
"Launched today thanks to all of you. Good on you all. My best wishes
and thanks, Amy".
I'm sharing this with your forum to communicate her appreciation to
those who made it happen every long, soggy, buggy day on the largest
search and recovery in US history.
I am at a loss of ability to express my sorrow for Carlos Inzunza’s loss of his family and for the family of Chirs
God Bless all of you who have lost loved ones recently.
Firefighters dig deep and support these people either through the Wildland Firefighters Foundation at
www.wffoundation.org/, directly though the families, or in any other way you can.
Vicki if you read this, check Carlos’ address (Rialto, CA ) just wouldn’t want the Postal Service loosing any cards or donations. Thanks for all the work you and Burke are doing it was great to meet you.
Ab(s) thanks to you also.
I thought you might like a photo of a USFS "platter" emergency light configuration that I have just finished restoring. This platter would have been used on trucks such as the Dodge as seen in a photo titled "FSeng 2" on the photo page of your
website, (along with other vehicles of that era).
This set up consisted of a Federal Signal CJ184 combination light/siren, and two red Dietz bucket lights on either side of the CJ184. The amber lights along the front acted as the cab lights. There was also one Dietz amber bucket light to the rear of the CJ184. In the photos "FSeng 2" one can clearly see the platter, and lights.
This particular triangular platter was as actual USFS platter. The platter was recovered from a USFS truck taken out of service in Southern California a number of years ago. This platter set up may be unique to the Southern California area, and possibly California to meet the
requirements of the Vehicle Code for a fire truck. It came to me only as the platter, and I obtained the correct lights and mounts as needed to complete the restoration. I grew up in Southern California, and well remember these light set ups as the USFS trucks ran up the San Gabriel Mountains to several fires.
Please feel free to place this photo on your website if you wish. I am also looking to communicate with any of your
members who may have additional photos of trucks with this light configuration as a reference.
Hi Kyle. I put it on the Engines
14 photo page. Ab.
Fish - in reading the Black Hills NF "Light Bar Policy", it seems to me to make perfect sense for most of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
Things are different in different places, that's why local policy is way better than policies set from afar by those in the big cities with bright lights!
> From IMWTK:
Q: What was the first piece of PPE issued to a wildland firefighter, and when (year)?
The first piece of PPE was in fact the human brain. Hopefully it was issued at the year of birth for each wildland firefighter. <tongue in cheek> If a brain full of wildland fire knowledge was not delivered at birth, it takes some education, experience, and discussions to rival the importance of the first PPE issued to wildland firefighters. Without trying to understand the number one PPE, there is no need for other personal protective equipment or measures to be used or sought. Without an understanding of Human Factors (basic and advanced psychology and sociology), there is no such thing as personal protective equipment.
Good people make bad mistakes sometimes.....
Bill Teie's book Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting has diagrams
and details for downhill indirect line construction. I did FS training first before I
switched over to CDF and saw this book. Teie's diagrams look like the ones
seen from the FS. See if someone has the book and if you can borrow it.
If not it's on the books page.
Ab & everyone,
Remember the field hearing for HR 408 is this friday in Las Vegas, NV. They always give their hearings a catchy title.
This ones called "Tension in the Tinderbox: Finding Fairness for Federal Firefighter Compensation".
Much thanks to the leadership of the FWFSA and the dues paying members who supported getting the legislation this far.
here is the link to their schedule http://reform.house.gov/UploadedFiles/schedule.pdf
Ditto on that. Ab.
Does anyone have info on the budgeting program that's in the works for
Has it been tested yet? Any suggestions that it will be an improvement on
What was the matter with NFMAS anyway?
I take offense at the Mendocino being called a brush patch.
It's a wonderful place (although it does have its share of brush).
who needs TV or high priced movies?? TGU CDF has two separate wildland fires
(one report came as 50 ac. 1/4 mi spotting with 60ft. flame lengths), and a
multiple-structure with 4 ac. of wildland and a venting propane tank. I'm saving
my movie money tonight!
Light bar policy
Here's one forest's policy. Sounds overly restrictive to me, but what do I know?
Perhaps they have no traffic there. Here, you'd never get anywhere without one.
Even crew buggys are starting to have light bars and sirens.
OPERATING PLAN FOR LIGHT BAR USE
BLACK HILLS NATIONAL FOREST
ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION
Refer to FSH 7109.19 Fleet Equipment Management Handbook. Chapter 60 and
The Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations 2003.
The District Ranger, FMO, and/or Qualified Driver Examiners will
conduct a safety orientation/briefing on use of lightbars. An annual
refresher or training will be a scenario/classroom setting.
Certification: As described in the Black Hills Supplement 5160
Directions for Use: Light bars will NOT be used on roads during travel to and from any
incident under any circumstances. All fire responses require a safe speed of travel. Responses
will not exceed road conditions nor posted speed limits. Light bar use
is approved only for on-scene protection in the urban interface and
along heavily traveled roadways and where smoke impairs visibility and
Disciplinary Actions: If operation
of light bars is misused, disciplinary actions may take place, depending
on the circumstances.
1 more for the quote page
"Excuses are the nails that built the house of failure"
Firecat from FKU
Thanks, I posted it on quotes. Ab.
I heard last night that the Lassen NF had the dedication ceremony of the
monument for those we lost on Engine 11: John Self, Steve Oustad and Heather DePaolo.
Family members from all three families were in attendance. Thanks to all
who worked on it for making that real.
On another topic, can anyone from CDF tell me what their training is
for going indirect on a fire? Back when I was in the basic FF training,
that part was taught by the woman CDFer who coordinated the class. I
know CDF goes direct whenever possible because of fire fatalities
associated with indirect downhill line and the ability to use the black
for safety zone in direct line construction. What happens when indirect
line construction is not possible? Do you look at how much flammable
fuel there is between you and the fire when you go indirect? Do you look
at how much area there is for fire to make a run at a crew in the light fuels?
Of course downhill or not must play into it too. Any guidelines? What do
you teach the new guys/gals?
Ab, I've been browsing the site. Neat place. Besides theysaid, I like
terms n quotes
to live by pages and the IMWTK.
How long have you
been doing this? It's a blog, right?
Welcome HL. You can read about how the site began by clicking on Ab
Speaks at the top of this page. Original Ab had a mighty good idea
and enough smarts to figure out how to make it real back in the days
when you had to figure out and invent everything yourself. It's
developed from there. All this blog (short for weblog) stuff, well they
can call it whatever they want, we don't mind. Several days ago I saw
some commercial TV anchors talking about people using the internet and
blogs for information and that replacing tv news. They pointed out that
sites like this one supply information usually on a specific topic and
help people organize and think about that information. They added that
some sites had good info and some didn't and that readers soon figured
it out. Two commentators seemed to take blogs seriously, two didn't. We
work at being responsible while fostering freedom of speech. The sum is
definitely greater than its parts.
Happy browsing. Check the Links
page for interesting and useful info. I use it daily to look
something up. Also, if you're interested in breaking fire news, hit the
News button in the header. Sign up and go to the Hot List Forum. Ab.
Anyone out there in dispatchers land have any idea when out of state resources might get used from Arizona?
Lots of resources here looking forward to some assignments out of the southwest.
It's great to get to the computer, log onto the Hot List Forum, and
find out the name and some info on that fire with the HUGE column just
north and east of Clear Lake on the MNF. I was traveling Hwy 20. What a
neat column, one of those large twisting ones that go up and up,
creating its own twisting convection. Driving thru that area reminded me
of going to the Cabbage and Franklin etc fires there around April Fools
day 5 yr ago. Made me think of the Rattlesnake burnover too and how fast
and hot those fine dry oily fuels take off. What a brush patch the
LOTS of CDF rigs and a couple of other local cooperators heading west
on 20. Whooohoooo!
OK, that's it! I'm just checking in. I think I'm addicted to this
forum! Be safe all.
Pacific Wildfire has 10 FF1 & FF2 positions open at various
locations around the western states. See their info and rates on
the Fire Jobs Page.
Cedar Point Contracting, based in Wenatchee WA has one Engine
Boss and one firefighter position open. Check their ad on the Fire Jobs
Page, they are currently very active with multiple engines on multiple
fires. Tell 'em Original Ab sent ya.
Firefighter Chris Kanton
A memorial service for Firefighter Kanton has been scheduled for:
Date: Wednesday August 10, 2005
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Crossroads Church
2331 Kellogg Av.
Corona CA 92881
Thomas Brothers Map Page 773 E-1
Reception to follow from 4:00PM to 7:00PM at a nearby location, details will follow soon.
Firefighter Kanton will be buried in his home town of Paso Robles on Friday August 12, 2005.
Arrangements for the interment are pending and will be made public as soon as they are available.
Fire Departments, Public Safety Agencies, Public Officials and Dignitaries are asked to contact the
CDF/Riverside County Fire Department RSVP unit at (951) 940-6840 or (951) 940-6841. Please
have the following information available when contacting the RSVP Unit: The number of apparatus or
vehicles attending, the number of personnel attending, a point of contact name and phone number.
Dignitaries and public officials are asked to call so that we can follow up with further details. Large
agencies and individual CDF Units are asked to call from a single point of contact. Check the
www.rvcfire.org website for details regarding the procession as they become available.
The RSVP lines will be in operation from 8:00 AM until 7:00 PM PST. General Public information can
be obtained by calling the CDF/Riverside County Fire Department Public Affairs Bureau at (951) 940-6985 or by checking the Fire Department website at
Information will be forthcoming later today regarding locations and addresses for donations in lieu of
Riverside County Fire
Thanks for the info, SoCal CDF. We are sorry for fire's loss of a
good man. Ab.
Don't forget an event celebrating the origins of the use of
airtankers on fire.
On August 13, 2005, at the Willows Airport, the Mendocino National Forest
will host an anniversary day marking the 50th year of aerial firefighting.
In 1982, the 25th anniversary of the first water drop on the Mendenhall
Fire, the USFS honored the original ag pilots who proved that wildfires could
be fought from the air with a ceremony and a plaque at the Willows Airport.
The sole surviving member of that group, Frank Prentice, will attend the
anniversary at Willows on August 13, which will feature displays of vintage
aircraft, airtanker demo drops, and historical exhibits.
Other sponsors include CDF, Glenn County, Frank and Lila Prentice, the City
of Willows, and the Willows Chamber. For more information call Phebe Brown
0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series
0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series
0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated.
Thielsen Wildland Gear is sponsoring a Summer Photo Contest. Click their
banner ad at the top of the Links Page for details. Don't delay, it ends August 31st.
We appreciate that they support this site. Take a look at what they
Ab also posted a whole slew of AirTanker Photos on AirTanker
16 and AirTanker
17 photo pages. They're from Ron Santi, Mike Evans, Jamie Urrea, and
40Acrefarmer and simultaneously JS. I posted a photo of the Shasta Trinity Fly Crew and Chester Flight
Crew, taken in Arizona 07/2005 with their ship on Handcrews
17 photo page. Photo compliments of DM. Thanks contributors and
thanks Chester Flight Crew for all the MegaRun pledges. Ab will be
posting more photos at the end of the week.
Greetings to all from the circle of fire in South Africa
I have seen your site and have a few photos to add.
I work for a government sponsored "poverty relief" project
that trains and utilizes
people for wildfire suppression. I am presently based in the Cape Town
Here are a few pics that have been taken by various people on fires
in South Africa.
I unfortunately can't credit the photographers as I am not sure who took these
They are from all regions where I have worked in South Africa.
Hope you can release them onto your site for all to see. Let the world
there are active wildland fire fighters in South Africa.
Working on Fire
Hi Brick, We usually don't post photos without permission. In this
case I appreciate your wanting to let us know South Africa burns and
firefighters fight fire. Thus, I reduced the size of the photos a great
deal (they're not print quality) and put them on the Fire
27 photo page. Hopefully your S African photographers will find the
website and announce themselves. Please direct any you find to us so we
can give credit and/or ask permission and/or beg forgiveness.
Jamie and Eric have also sent in plume and flames photos from
Colorado (Mason Gulch Fire July 2005) and Los Angeles area (Pine Fire
2004). Those spill over onto Fire
28 photo page. Nice job, contributors. Ab.
Thanks to Al for sharing the Tuolumne Fire photos. Thanks to Ab for
Condolences to families and friends who have lost loved ones.
From firefighters on the San Bernardino National Forest:
With great sadness we send our heartfelt sympathy and prayers to Carlos
Inzunza, Firefighter at Oak Glen Station 39. On Saturday August 6, 2005
his wife and two children were killed in a traffic collision on highway
138. His sister remains in the hospital with serious injuries. In lieu of
flowers donations for funeral arrangements can be made to the Inzunza
Family in c/o Carlos Inzunza, 845 N. Verde Ave., Rialto, CA 92376. If you
have a personal message that you would like relayed to the family, their
family contact is Eddie Cortez. He can be reached at (909) 815-3957 or
pager number (909) 849-7911.
Marlene Rhynes will also be a contact for additional donations at (909)
382-2973, at the Danny Rhynes Training Center, 4121 Quail Canyon Rd., San
Bernardino, CA 92404.
Any donations are greatly appreciated and needed. Additional information
will be sent out regarding funeral arrangements.
I was contacted by someone in the Honor Guard and was asked if we could help
someone in the fire community. Believe me, when someone from the Honor Guard asks,
we will go to any length to try to help.
The sad news is that a young firefighter on the San Bernardino NF lost his family in an
automobile accident on Saturday. Carlos Inzunza lost his wife, his 3-year old son, and his 8-year old son, on
August 6. Carlos is a first year seasonal firefighter who is known and
liked by those he's worked with at his station over the last 3 months.
Everyone there is trying to be supportive. I know it's hard to know how
to help when people are in such deep and numbing grief. Many people who
have lost loved ones have said how much it means to get cards. Passing
the boot is another practical way to express support and help people
through. Perhaps the larger community can help too with cards and
donations to cover his immediate expenses and funeral arrangements.
Mellie just called his station and reports that he and his family
welcome prayers too. Here's Carlos' address.
Carlos & the Inzunza Family
845 N. Verda Av.
Realto CA 92376
I got a note that the CDF is sending the link to the 5 page Executive
Summary of Tuolumne Fire Investigation Report to the news media this afternoon.
For those who haven't seen it, it was posted on theysaid on 8/3. Here's
the link to the pdf file again. The whole report is 187 pages.
For the person looking for the scan group that may have info for the radio net
between the forests and North Op's, Check with Jake. jake @ norcalscan. org
He should be able to help you.
The website (News button in header) with the scanners is very interesting. There used to be (still is?) a forest dispatchers net that linked Redding to all the forests in Northern CA in Region 5. It was comprised of both UHF and VHF frequencies and was all inclusive, when one forest talked all the other forests heard it.
Do any of your scanner links tie into this system? And, maybe they don't even use radio anymore with the advent of the internet. I was with the Nev Div of Forestry for over 20 years and it was linked into our comm center there. Of course in those days the word "internet" was not even heard of!
Good Morning Everyone.
Over the weekend I've been working with Al Golub, fire
photojournalist and now retired from the Modesto Bee. Here's a page of
his images of the Tuolumne
Fire and of Firefighter Eva Schicke's Memorial Service, a little
less than a year ago. For more details on the photos, please take a look
at the photo description page.
Another firefighter too soon gone.
You have a great forum here, many interesting subjects of discussion/debate, very good coverage of the wildfire community and some really interesting thoughts and opinions. After reading the recent posts concerning the Wildland Firefighter Memorial and Fatal Incidents, I felt the desire to add my thoughts, I don't mean to offend anyone here but theres always different perspectives on any subject discussed.
In regards to the Wildland Firefighter Monument belonging to the families of those firefighters who lost their lives, I thought ANY Monument for lost firefighters belonged to those that are memorialized by the monument. I lost some good friends on 9-11 and after
attending services for them, talking and crying with, and holding surviving family members, I was told by one surviving wife, that the planned memorial belonged to her husband and his brother firefighters that died that day. She also said that she didn't need a memorial to remember her husband because her memorial was in her heart & soul.
About Backburnfs' comment concerning the Cedar Fire Burnover, All speculation aside since he stated having been able to personally visit the site of the burnover, he can contend all he wants about what happened, and what that engine crew should have done and all the other horse dump that goes with monday morning quarterbacking from the cheap seats in his post incident analysis. Until he stands in the shoes of those who were there at the time, knows what they knew at the time, and seen what they seen at the time, he needs to pick up his shovel he's shovelin crap with and be on his way, 30+ years of firefighting or not.
Hi Wes, Deaths on the fireline are always a hard, emotional topic.
No one wants to blame the firefighter or the crew involved or the
choices they made. Neither does one want to blame those overseeing them
or those working near them on the fireline. Most firefighters, as we've
all experienced, make the best choices their training and experience
allow in the time they have. However, as firefighters, you know, we
discuss these things a lot. Call it Monday Morning Quarterbacking if you
must. We do want to make sense of the tragedy, and learn what we can so
as not to repeat it, and grieve our loss or at least come to grips with
it. So we can go on with our lives and safely and clear-headedly fight
The fact of the matter is that burnovers and deaths usually occur
when a lot of proximal and latent causal factors line up that resulted
in that particular person being in that place, at that time, under those
circumstances of fire behavior, topography, fuels, personal
physiological responses, experience, wind event, others lighting
backfires, etc, etc. This is described by the Swiss Cheese Model of
Accident Causation described in James Reason's work (taught in Fireline
Leadership L-380 and summarized
by HC). This model forms the basis of current accident investigation
procedures. One area that is less understood by firefighters and fire
investigators is the field of human factors and its effect on choices
under stress. An eye-opening book on this is Deep
Survival, Who Lives, Who Dies and Why by Laurence Gonzales.
As for backburnfs, in my years of knowing him via this forum and
knowing of him in the fire community, he has no ax to grind. He's not
stirring the pot intentionally. He knows what I described above
regarding the Swiss Cheese Model and Human Factors. He also knows fire
behavior and fuels... and has had to come to grips with Steve Rucker's
death and the SoCal Firestorm of 2003. I certainly hope he will not be
on his way any time soon, as he has always contributed here for the
betterment of this community.
I'm glad you spoke your mind. I'm sorry for your and our loss of
You're right Nor Cal Tom
It was not freelancing it was more like bad decision making. And fighting fire with the blinders on. As much as we would like it to just be a case of the wrong place at the wrong time it was not that case. We all need to remember its not just our supervisors responsibility to train us on how to stay safe. It starts with the one you see in the mirror everyday.
not afraid to speak up
Causes for death are usually not due to only one thing. Please
read my comments above. Ab.
Kudos to the CA-LNF Chester Helitack crew for hammer'n the pledge list today!!!
Nor Cal Tom,
Freelancing played absolutely no role in the Tuolumne Fire incident.
RRU E -58
thoughts and condolences are with the family of the FireFighter that lost his life in the line of duty
Ab note: Brian Kornegay has created a page for Virtual Condolences for
fallen firefighter Chris Kanton, RRU. He invites you to take a moment and post your thoughts...
RVC Press Release
Sun Aug 7, 2005 13:18
On Saturday, August 6, 2005 at approximately 3:01 p.m., Fire Engine #58 from the CDF/Riverside County Fire Department, traveling east on Interstate 10 east of Highway 60 in Beaumont, was involved in a single vehicle accident. The engine left the freeway and traveled down a steep embankment, struck several trees and came to rest on the roadway below. As a result of the accident CDF/Riverside County Firefighter Chris Kanton, 24, was fatally injured. Two other firefighters were injured. Firefighter Richard Bruning received minor injuries. He was treated and released from a local hospital. Fire Apparatus Engineer Michael Arizaga sustained moderate injuries. He remains hospitalized at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for ongoing evaluation and observation.
Firefighter Kanton is survived by his wife of six months, Kathryn. Cards can be sent to the family in care of:
CDF/Riverside Co. Fire Dept
c/o Kanton Family
210 W. San Jacinto Av.
Perris CA 92570
The California Highway Patrol Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) is conducting the investigation.
CDF/Riverside County Fire Department Chief Craig Anthony wishes to express his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and injured firefighters. This event deeply saddens all of the members of the firefighting community and affects the members of the CDF/Riverside County Fire Department. Grief counselors have been made available to members of the fire department and family members to assist them through this difficult time.
Funeral arrangements are pending. A news release will be sent out later with those details.
Please let us know about funeral arrangements. Ab.
Ab, In response to some questions about the monument:
Some of the families (including us) requested that our marker be moved to the inside of the
Monument instead of the outside. Family and friends had tried to find the markers.
They couldn't or didn't think of looking outside. That is why some or all of the markers were moved. I certainly apologize to Mr. Carson, as it wasn't meant as malicious. I think if
families want their firefighter's markers outside of the fence, those should be outside; and the ones that want them inside,
those should be inside.
We would like to come over and help in Sept. if at all possible. We feel that the
Monument should be for firefighters and families and after all that has happened, I think they
and we should be the ones to take care of it.
I do know that families have tried to get in to see the Monument
during non-business hours. It is very hard to get in on weekends and
late or early in the day because of 911. We would like to see the
Monument maybe fenced off some way so that you wouldn't have to even go by
security and the buildings. Would it be possible to come in from the back gate across from the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation building and visit the Monument that
I have tried to find out if the recent maintenance work was hired out or if somebody from nifc did the weed whacking.
I have really not been able to get an answer.
Some people who have never lost a child, spouse, brother, sister or are firefighters do not really understand the significance of the
Monument and the Memorial Markers and Bricks. The Monument should be a place of peace, reflection. Anything left at the
Monument such as a penny, rock, statue, was left there for a reason, because someone cared.
Ken and Kathy Brinkley
CDF Firefighter Down:
Thoughts and prayers to the family and brother and sister firefighters. It is a sad
and dark day in SoCal. Let's be careful out there. You never know when it will
VNC dozer 3
Backburnfs; how do you account for the fact that the firefighters that reached in the interior of the house made it, and all would have probably made it with no injuries except for the fact that one was trying to help Mr. Rucker, and then the other two went check on the two still outside? It was not a perfect choice, but in hindsight, it does seem it would have worked for all four, had they all made it inside.
Thanks backburnfs for the perspective, I plan to visit this winter.
At first glance, M.I.S.T. (Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics) seems like a sure winner.
Its got a catchy name that evokes pleasant feelings.
The crews have got to love it. In its job description it lengthens the amount of time committed to fire. The crews get free meals and fire pay.
The Forest has got to love it. They can conduct land management without an EIR and get some reimbursement from the Emergency fund.
As Lobotomy pointed out, it does in some cases significantly lengthen control time, and that is a safety hazard.
It does at times commit an inordinate amount of manpower and equipment to an incident that could possibly been brought under control in days, not weeks or months.
It does add the risk of having an uncontained uncontrolled fire burning in the area.
It does contribute to air pollution.
It does contribute to a shortage of scarce resources ( i.e. helicopters and handcrews) during peak fire season.
It looks like the only people who may not get a fair shake is the taxpayers. They get to pay for the above mentioned follies.
(tongue firmly in cheek) Guess that's only fair. Some group of
taxpayeractivists came up with the legislation in the first place... Ab.
Ab, NorcalTom and others, speculation aside in regards to the Cedar fire firefighter fatality, having been able to
personally visit the scene, I contend that placement of the Novato engine and
preplanning to use the structure as a safety zone was the cause of Steve Rucker's death. The home that they were trying to save was in a saddle at the top of a major
drainage (San Diego River). The fire had nowhere else to go but through the saddle the home was not
defensible, regardless of independent action by someone doing an "unauthorized" burn out. This is attested to by the fact that the
structures on either side of the saddle are still standing.
Base All Actions on Current and Expected Fire Behavior.
The safety zone that should have been identified was the grazed off pasture across the road
approximately 100-150 yards from the structure.
The firefighters on the Cedar fire were able to save many structures in the first 48 hours. I am sure that the Novato firefighters can be credited with saving a few. This was the most unfortunate incident I have witnessed in 30+ years of firefighting.
I will not forget the Cedar Fire.
If your department is teaching you to take refuge in a structure other than
as a last resort -- such as an alternative to using your fireshelter -- then they are doing you wrong. The use of the structure on this incident was a pre-planned event. Read the report. The crew placed a crash axe at the rear door to gain entry to the structure in event that they needed to use it as a safety zone. All a structure or vehicle is, in an event like this, is a larger version of a fireshelter, NOT A SAFETY ZONE!!
Identify Escape Routes and Safety Zones and make them Known.
Leave 5 Minutes Before You Think you Have To.
Be safe all - ever vigilant. Remember more deaths occur from
traffic accidents going to and from incidents than on incidents
Yesterday afternoon shortly after 1500 hours, CDF, RRU and RVC suffered a grave loss of a valued firefighter. The accident occurred near the intersection of SR 60 and Interstate 10 at the west side of the City of Beaumont. The fire engine went off the road resulting in the fatality and injuries to the other two members of the RVC engine
company #58. The injured firefighters did not suffer life threatening injuries.
The Press Enterprise has an article but it requires simple
(scroll to the bottom)
Info on this has been posted on the Hot List Forum yesterday. We
commend posters for being responsible. Ab.
In the interest of trying to understand and mitigate the recent CA
Freelancing in setting backfires seems to have been a problem
hastening arrival of the firefront that led to Steve Rucker's death
on the Cedar Fire. What CDF followup is being made to discourage
that deviation from chain-of-command in the future?
Ab, I know we try not to speculate, but with no full report from
we deserve to know, Did freelancing play a part in entrapment
of Helitack 404?
Ab, another post, a sad one...
Condolences on the CDF LODD death in Beaumont (Riverside). My heart
out to friends and family. Prayers for all.
Our sincere condolences as well. Our SoCal interagency
firefighters are a tight bunch, having worked hand in glove on many
fires. Support each other in this time of loss.
Is there any support that can be provided for the family? The
Wildland Firefighter Foundation is willing to step in to help with any
arrangements and immediate expenses. Please e-mail contact info and
we'll see Vicki gets it. Ab.
Eva's friend and BL. I feel your pain. Many of us do.
The spinmasters at CDF wouldn't have released the Report on Steve
on the obscure state of CA link if his wife hadn't leaked it to the
Marin paper. Good
for her for making it public. Discussion here was helpful. We'll
incorporate some lessons
learned from that into next years training. One way we honor the fallen
is to do our best to
make sure it never happens again. To do that, we need to know what to
watch out for.
Like you students of human factors say here, we need slides in our carousels
Those we train need slides, too.
The Executive Report of the Tuolumne Fire Fatality is not adequate.
I have not replied to this before, but I am concerned with the way our
cdf incident report information is "managed".
The Executive Summary doesn't give much more info than the Greensheet/72 Hour Report. How can we learn from these potential learning opportunities if we don't have the detailed timeline of events and conditions, some maps, etc? I know
cdf wants to control release of info to the public so it won't be
sensationalized. But why can't we see the report and learn from it. It's easy to blame a person and have the learning stop there.
We'd learn more if we could potentially each see ourselves or someone under our command in that fire setting and think through what we could do differently and more safely if
it was us. As it is, I think the Executive Summary is not about learning, but about placing
blame and managing image. Until cdf can release the whole report as a matter of routine,
cdf will not truly be a learning and safety-oriented organization which
are the prerequisites for being a truly professional firefighting
organization as hard as we try to make it so.
We need to do more. This should not have happened.
More "good news" from the USFS Human Resources Director!
File Code: 6180 Date: July 21, 2005
Subject: Professional Liability Insurance
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, and WO Staff
There has been considerable discussion and interest in the Regions to expand the reimbursement coverage for the Professional Liability Insurance (PLI). The discussion is focused on including the Incident Commanders and those who volunteer for fire assignments and who are not normally in supervisory or managerial positions in the reimbursement for PLI. WO staffs from Human Resources, Legislative Affairs, and Fire and Aviation are working on a remedy.
Until a remedy is secured, you are reminded that Public Law 104-208 Section 636 allows agencies to reimburse a qualified employee for one-half of the cost incurred by the employee for purchase of PLI. According to Section 636(b) of the law a qualified employee is an agency employee whose position is that of a law enforcement officer (LEO), supervisor or management official. A supervisor/management official is identified on the personnel action under the field called Position Supervisor Code with a 2, 4, or 5. The definition of supervisor may be found at 5 USC 7103(a)(10). This section states, "with respect to any unit which includes firefighters or nurses, the term 'supervisor' includes only those individuals who devote a preponderance of their employment time to exercising such authority." The Forest Service Handbook Section 6109.12,70 Amendment No. 6109.12-99-3 subsection 71.04 (see enclosed) states that the head of the servicing human resources office (SHRO) is responsible for offering the reimbursement to eligible employees. It would be contrary to law for the SHRO to certify that employees are eligible for reimbursement of PLI if they don't meet the requirements of the law indicated above.
There are groups of employees, including Incident Commanders, who do not meet the legal definition of a supervisor even though they may be exercising independent judgment, assigning work, managing, and/or supervising other employees while on a fire assignment. This is because a fire assignment is considered to be temporary in nature and as a result the employees are not performing the responsibilities specified in the General Schedule Supervisory Guide. In addition, the temporary nature of the fire assignment does not contribute to the Position Description (PD) having a preponderance of time exercising supervisory or managerial authority.
Please ensure that those employees who are currently ineligible for reimbursement of the PLI premiums are aware that they are eligible to apply for PLI on their own by paying the full premium which is about $300 per year.
If you have any questions on this please contact Teresa Marler at (703) 605-0844 or email@example.com.
/s/ John G. Lopez
JOHN G. LOPEZ
Director of Human Resources Management
I just looked at the pictures showing the advanced state of disrepair into which the Wildland Firefighter Monument had fallen. Through the thread of subsequent posts, I gather that something pretty bad was done since then.
[From Oldest Dog Barking] “Someone person got their tail feathers in a bunch over some personal power thing and spread a lot of garbage around at NIFC about the Monument belonging too much to the families who have lost kids and spouses. A NIFC higher up reacted to the threat/control message. This kind of unintentional poisoning process is not uncommon with both small-minded people who feel under appreciated and those who get nervous and try to control situations. In any case, someone higher up hired the company that made the drastic changes that resulted in the current "down to mineral soil" look of the
Monument.” [Oldest Dog continues]: “I personally think that the BLM person in charge of unilaterally mandating the changes is sending a clear message that "this is BLM land" and "we will control it" while saying "nothing is to happen here for the next 2 years" and "no bricks will be set" etc, etc.
So I’m going to add my long two cents, for what it’s worth.
I suspect Oldest Dog is correct in his analysis. I spent the last three (inglorious) years of my career on that 18 acres of “BLM land, though last I heard, it
is not BLM land, it is the American taxpayer’s land, and given the intent of the Monument, it
most definitely first and foremost “belongs … to the families who have lost kids and
spouses.” Any NIFC fire bureaucrat who believes and acts otherwise ought to revisit the basic core values they are supposedly teaching the new generation of firefighters: Duty, Respect, and Integrity. Because if Oldest Dog is correct, you’ve
shot all three right through the heart.
Prior to my taking a job at NIFC in 1997 and during my 3-year stay there, a bunch of good folks like Dick Terry, Laurel Simos, Mike Apicello, Roy Johnson, Billy Mitchell and countless others spent untold hours digging sprinkler lines, landscaping, planting, etc. Billy especially had this vision of a place of peace and remembrance, and if anyone drove the Monument into reality in the mid- and late 90s, it was Bill Mitchell. A vision become reality that Vicky Minor is doing her best to preserve.
When I got To NIFC, Billy, having heard I’d been a stone mason in a previous life, asked me if I wanted to build waterfall. I jumped at the opportunity, seeing it as both a chance to honor friends and fellow firefighters who’d lost their lives, but also as excellent therapy to decompress from the Nevada “BLM/NDF aviation wars” that I’d been in the middle of for 9 years.
However, when Billy showed me the “water feature” plans, they portrayed a dinky little 10’ stream coming down off the hill with one of those rubber “thingies” underneath it to hold the water in. I said to Billy,
“I thought you said you wanted a waterfall, a REAL WATERFALL?” He grinned and said
“build it any way you want.”
So, with the full support of BLM management, myself and a rotating band of BLM SMJs as hod carriers and rock haulers, spent two summers building what you see now at the Memorial. Above the pool and underneath the 3 major levels of rock, are three 10’ deep x 25’ wide x 4’ high x 24” thick slabs with rebar on 12” centers. Literally built to last a century or more …. and done purposely, since it will take several cases of dynamite to get rid of it in the event someone decides the “water feature” should go the way of the native grasses and shrubs. A small minority see the Monument as a “weed patch,” but as Oldest Dog said,
“The Monument was carefully landscaped to demonstrate the diversity of fuels within the overall Great Basin
ecosystem.” If anyone has the idea our Memorial should look like a manicured city park, then I and a few others have got a real problem with that.
Bill Mitchell struggled constantly with the BLM maintenance crew, who, though hard-working, seemed to have the Monument dead last on its list of a 100 priorities. They were not firefighters, and I perceived that, unlike the rest of us, they didn’t have their heart and soul into the Monument. I don’t know how many times I saw Billy out there replanting trees and shrubs that had died due to lack of a regular watering schedule, or redoing irrigation pipes incorrectly laid.
After retirement in 2000, I figured the waterfall was safe since management had decided to let it run year-round (it was truly a beautiful sight in mid-winter to see the ice sculptures that had formed, with crystal clear blue water flowing underneath the ice). I was
dead wrong: someone decided to turn the pumps off one fall (2002?), but had neglected to drain either the pumps or the 2” plastic pipes buried in the concrete slabs that led up to the top pools. Predictable results: next spring there were massive leaks “somewhere in the concrete” and two broken $2500 pumps.
When asked for the design drawings for the waterfall so they could try to locate the leaks, I said,
“What plans? I built this all in my head as I went.” So I asked the person what they intended to do, the reply being
“we’re going to jackhammer the rock out and drill into the slabs, find them and repair
them.” I was flabbergasted. This alternative would not only be a huge cost, but the guaranteed result will be a pile of rubble, and, by the way, the problem won’t be solved. If I were paranoid (grin), I’d think this solution was part of a hidden agenda to in fact get rid of the waterfall.
The easy forget is to forget about the broken plastic pipes, just disconnect them and run some flexible waterfall pipe up from the pumps, hiding the piping underneath freestanding piles of rocks. Which is what I should have done in the first place (this was my first waterfall). But who could predict someone would let 1000 gallons of water sit in pumps and pipes during the winter, freezing harder than the rocks on top of them.
I’ll know better “next time.”
Throughout the construction, I’d hear about all the politics associated with the memorial, but just ignored it and kept laying rock like a madman, sympathizing all the while with Billy and his struggles with the maintenance crew. Despite overwhelming odds, Billy and the volunteer crew made it into the incredibly beautiful place it became from 2000 until he retired. Just as someone said, every 3-4 months Laurel or Billy or Dick would organize a weekend weeding clean-up party and the job would get done.
Tonight I called Billy (since retired) to verify what I was reading here on “They Said” about the Monument. He told me the sad story of what he saw a few weeks ago after the “remodeling” had been accomplished: native shrubbery ripped out the ground, grasses raked to nothing, etc., etc. . But here’s the kicker: flat stone memorials that were associated with a tree that friends bought to honor a fallen friend had been moved to other locations away from the tree. This is outrageous!! And the pumps feeding the top of the waterfall still aren’t turned on (they did get them repaired when some politicos visited two springs ago –just wouldn’t do to have a non-functional waterfall).
Who is responsible for this outrage!!?? But let’s get beyond that. Let’s look at solutions.
One is a personal solution for the leaks in the waterfall. After retirement, and while still living in Boise, I committed several times to fix my mistake with the pipes. But “something else” always came up. Now I’ve got a good buddy named Jon Ridolfo, Sergeant Major Special Forces (RET), with whom I teach L-380. Some of you may know him – one tough son of a gun. I had offered up some bs reason for a minor omission in my L-380 presentation. He looked me right in the eye and in his inimitable New England-Lithuanian-Italian accent, said,
“You know what the maximum effective range of an excuse is, Carson?? It’s zero, I repeat,
zero meters. Ya’ got that straight? And while we’re at, we don’t make minor mistakes, we don’t make major mistakes, mistakes kill. Am I making myself clear”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Ridolfo (I’d follow Ridolfo on the high road to hell and love every minute of it – though I’m pretty certain
he’d leave me in the dust!!)
So in the interests of walking the walk, come September I’ll fire up the ’62 Caddy, hook on a trailer full of Colorado river rock with some flexible pipe tied to the sides with my 25-year-old cement mixer lashed to a big rock on top, and just motor on up I-70/I-15/-I84 to Boise and lay some pipe and rock. Issue identified, issue solved. Anyone care to help? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get this figured out. It’s simple, just do it. Bottom Line: if all you out there don’t see the pipe/pump problem solved come November ……
Larger issue: who “owns” the Memorial? I believe I’ve made my feelings abundantly clear on this question, we just need to figure out the mechanism via which we as a wildland fire community lease it for the next five centuries from the BLM
Who’s responsible for maintaining it? We are. Pure and simple.
Hugh Carson, President, Emergency Team Solutions, LLC
You rock man! So does your crew…I’ll go for that. Ken’s heart and WFF are what count.
Though I have every faith Ken’ll make it…Northwest Timber Fallers’ will pay up the full
pledge ($260) even if he doesn’t!
There are a lot of other private fire service people out there. Come on y’all…Let’s set a
good example here.
5th year rookie,
I am shooting from the hip on this one. From what I remember, a Forest Service line officer determines what vehicles have emergency lighting and who can operate them under emergency conditions. There is national policy to allow the operation of vehicles with red light and sirens (FSM, FSH, and USFS Driver Operator Handbook). Maybe there are other reasons for their use being curtailed or
restrictions from using them? Emergency warning lighting and sirens are meant to provide a safer environment to the firefighter and public while responding to emergencies.
To make this a short post, FSH 7109.19 allows drivers who are specially qualified and certified to operate specialized equipment. Here is one part...
FSH 7109.19 - FLEET EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT HANDBOOK
WO AMENDMENT 7109.19-92-9
CHAPTER 60 - QUALIFICATION, TRAINING, AND TESTING
OF MOTORIZED FLEET EQUIPMENT OPERATORS
a. Emergency Vehicle. An emergency vehicle, other than
a law enforcement vehicle, equipped with a siren and
emergency lighting (white, red, or blue flashing lights)
used primarily to respond to emergency situations (for
example, fires, traffic accidents, and medical
(Doh... the FSH handbook actually mentions Forest Service vehicles being used and EQUIPPED to respond to emergency situations, ie fires, traffic accidents and medical emergencies..... WAY BACK IN 1992)
Wait a second, did I read something about cookies?
I have a $1 per mile for 52 miles.
Anyone from Eastside FD, Bellevue FD going to pledge?
I was wondering if you all could enlighten me as to the forest service policy on use of Red Lights and Siren? I am under the impression that if you are licensed to use them by the forest service, that you can when responding to a fire. However, I have been told differently recently. I have ben told that we
aren't allowed to use them. So what gives? Is there documentation that i can cite if the need arises? Any info or direction would be greatly appreciated.
5th year rookie
A little pressure on completing your mega-run, Ken???
Dave won't get his cookies if you don't make it!
OK Lori I will bite
I will pledge for one 20 person crew for Ken's run. .25 cents per mile per person =$260.00
BUT, I will need cookies. ;-) You will only need to send them when he is done and if he
makes the whole 52 miles. If he does not make the 52, I will still pay in full.
Grayback Base Manager Dave Hannibal
Although I have already bought a brick in memory of my son (Matt Taylor), I am contributing again from his last FF income for the brick wall at the
WWFF Monument. I am anxious to see it become a reality. Grief and gratitude find expression in tangible ways through the tireless efforts of those who are promoting the building and
maintenance of these memorials and monuments. Perhaps there could be one thing more difficult than suffering the loss of a loved one, and that is having to do it alone. The connection that families have been made to feel through the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation helps us realize that there are others who are missing our loved ones with us, or who may have walked through difficult times ahead of us, or may even benefit from watching our passage.
Death is always accompanied by any number of unanswered questions. However, anyone, especially the children who visit the
monument and the brick wall which will surely follow, can get a few questions answered:
- Who and what do these stones represent?
- Who are we and why do we care?
- What is the 52 Club and what are all these T-shirts doing here?
- How far does this compassion spread?
Vicki, the frustration you must feel when you deal so well with the strong emotions of the families you serve on one hand, and the cold
bureaucracy on the other is more than I could manage. May God bless your efforts.
Sarah, it was nice to meet you in person at the airport
Firefighter Statue dedication.
As you mentioned then, we Abs also feel honored to know Vicki
Minor, and to work with her and her staff on behalf of firefighters and
their families. Vicki has always told me that she does what she does
because it's what she feels compelled to do in the current moment. I'd
say she has a "calling" and that Vicki is about "living
her best life". Pettiness, jealousy, negativity -- in my experience
with her -- she doesn't go there. She looks at each person and sees the
best person they can be, and chooses to relate to that. Her style is not
to express frustration (although many families and others are tearfully
and angrily expressing it with regard to the Monument, the weed whacking
of the vegetation and the brick project that has been put on hold).
Vicki's words, to everyone with whom I've seen her interact, and her
actions demonstrate her in-the-moment, visionary good-heartedness and
belief that the best outcome will emerge. That said, I know she is a
hands-on Foundation director, even down to the paint colors that create
the "feel" of the WFF lobby. That kind of attention to detail
creates the comfortable and soothing environment you walk into there.
You can feel the lobby love while those hotshot shirts in the big room
create the drama.
When I asked Vicki about bureaucracies and politics last week, the
very brief reply she gave me was that "bureaucracies for the
most part are made up of good-hearted, over-worked and under-appreciated
people, some clearly letting their lights shine; some few others, less
so." That was it. As for politics, she says "if creative
people stick to vision, anything can be accomplished step-by-step."
OK, so where does that leave the Monument and the Brick project
that seems to be in limbo? Dry your tears, m'dear: there is collective
power here. We Abs have been hoping we'd receive clarification from NIFC
about 1) what's the procedure and who is responsible for Monument
maintenance and 2) why the new holdup on the placement of the bricks?
That hasn't been forthcoming, so one of the Abs is actively researching
the questions and has heard from many at NIFC (who desire anonymity).
When Ab's questions are answered and all the facts are clear, the
collective action to be taken should be clear as well. Stay tuned.
BLM Bob & Speedo
Thats the document! (www.wildfirelessons.net/WinningSeries.aspx)
I knew somebody would know what I was talking about...
Re Document Pulaski is looking for:
I have a copy of the document I believe that Pulaski is referring to regarding geographic area fuel types, fire behavior, tactics, etc. My copy does not have a publication #. Just a
lengthy title. It is in a handbook format about the size of the Fireline Handbook. Here is the title
Wildfire Fuels, Strategy, Tactics with Special Safety and Logistical Concerns for the Following Areas
*Pacific Northwest and Northern California
*Structures in the Wildland
It is clearly not organized by GACC per se, but is designed to cover the whole country I think. The reference on the cover says "Prepared for Advanced Incident Management S-520 February 2001". It was compiled by the people at NARTC and the S-520 Steering Committee. Maybe it is available through NARTC (National Advanced Resource Technology Center) in
Tucson. I can't remember exactly how I got my hands on it since I am not a S-520 grad. It has some very good information in it for "newcomers" into an area. However I look at it as kind of baseline material that should prompt even more questions for you to ask the locals when you arrive. Obviously you can't address every scenario. Even within a given geographic area there can be wide variations and special conditions that can't be covered in a single document. I believe it is a document worthy of an update and wider distribution.
Hope that helps.............speedo
Re Fair Playing Field
All Fire Departments in the state of Colorado are being hurt by the University adding 20% to the bill they send the Feds at the end of the year, it is taking money used for equipment, training and rising insurance cost away from all of the communities in the state and then the local folks ask why they need tax bonds and other local tax hikes to keep there fire and ems departments in the black. If this is not taken care of there maybe alot of areas that emergency services are with drawn from because of the lack of funds. And people wonder why all of the fires cost so much???
Colorado Fire Chief.
New Fires in MT and GGR's Fair Playing Field topic
There is a fire burning west of Missoula, MT. There was also a 2500 acre fire north of Great
Falls, MT yesterday.
I read GGR's e-mail and it is sad when universities are taking money that they did not earn. You would think with what they charge for tuition and other things they would have enough, but I guess they need those $100,000.00 a year paychecks to make themselves feel good.
Yes GGR, it is hard being with a volunteer fire company that must go out and beg for their money so they can protect property and lives. By the way go to
they are doing grants for fire equipment for vol. fire companies. They have to be tax exempt though and their max is $2500.00, but that is better then nothing.
Pulaski and the others looking for a good reference on different geographic area
conditions might be thinking of "The Winning Series" at this site:
and its partner website www.myfirecommunity.net
are terrific resources for this sort of thing, and They Said readers would do well to
browse those sites when looking for info. It's never a bad idea to start there.
i sent a email regarding resource use in colorado, did you get it and if so are you going to do anything with it?
it follows if you did not get it the first time
Fair Playing Field
I belong to a small rural volunteer fire department in colorado. We like many other departments maintain a wildland crew (3 type 3's, 2 type 6's) that are available to work within the national system year round. The last two years we and others departments in the colorado area have scene a significant decrease in call outs to national events or severity
assignments. It has come to my attention that state universities have been the go between for the feds to the state level in the money stream. From what I have been told the colorado state university as of two years ago started adding 20% to all billings. I wonder if you could tell me if this is a normal practice throughout the country?
Do to this overhead expense that the university has tacked on to cooperator billing, and who you know, some contractors near the college (insider information), are getting most if not all the
assignments while many all volunteer departments who count on a portion of there budgets being funded from large fires and severity
assignments during the summer are getting next to none.
Contractors bill direct to the feds which bypasses the 20% that cooperators have tacked on to there billings. The feds see the bottom line and go with the best bang for the buck, novel as it may be it makes good business sense if all else (training, experience, etc, we won't go there) is equal.
The university in it's desire to get more money sees a chance to pick up some quick and easy cash, and it is not hurting anybody. I wonder if they ever thougt of the rural communities served by non taxing volunteer fire departments that rely on this income to keep stations heated during the winter months so as to provide fire protection year round, not mentioning equipment, training etc.
All to often in our hussle bustle world, individuals and organizations see inward, whats in it for them or how can I get more.
There is however a unique group of individuals in this country that think outside the box, give of
their time, and sometimes their lives to make life a little better for everyone.
Volunteers make up a large portion of emergency services throughout the US and other countries, they are held to the same standard as those who do these activities for a living. Funding for volunteers is usually non existent, or very difficult at best, and then the university steps in and cuts them off at the knees.
If the university is SKIMMING off the top, the feds should step in and STOP IT, and get our TAX money back. They should also insure that all fire fighting
organizations, be they paid, volunteer, or contractors be held to the SAME standards and be compensated equally for work performed. In other words using a type 6 as a example, no matter where you are from, what you wear or anything else, the pay is the same (period). Oh and while I am at it, they should weigh all trucks at check in as well as check the inventory for compliance to regulations.
This would be so simple if they would do it, OH YEAH, IT MAKES SENSE !
About the author, volunteer fire fighter 16 years, search & rescue 13 years, engine
boss, strike team leader, faller B, training officer qualified, etc.
I never saw your email. Could'a been the spam filter. Glad you
resent it. Ab.
to Al Golub,
Saw your comments on "They Said," so I know you must be at least an occasional reader
of that site. Have had a change of plans there in your neighborhood. You may have noticed
the machine idle there on the fuel break. Waiting for new tracks. Should be back down next
week to finish up.
Folks, we are almost at 1/10 of the way to go with pledges for Ken Perry's run in support of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation!!!.....Great job to all!!!
But there is much more to do....we have a few more chains to go to "tie it in"......We are on a steep hill, with heavy fuels, and we have a long way to go to get to the summit.
I understand that many of the smaller and larger contractors, agency employees, and others have given substantial amounts to the WFF this year, but I challenge everyone to this special run: If you have that "little extra" to support this effort in support of the WFF, it will have long lasting effects for us, our families, and the wildland firefighting community as a whole. This support could come in several forms: pledges; riding bicycles along the route; telling family, friends, and co-workers about the need to support the ride and the WFF; writing to your local media about the story; and so many other ways not even addressed yet.
Time to put on the Rally Cap.
I have some comments about MIST tactics. If MIST tactics aren't cutting it in containing a fire in the safest and most efficient way possible, then the fire strategy needs to be changed, adjusted, or MIST tactics dropped.
If MIST contributes to longer exposures to the hazards of wildland fire for our firefighters (ie- longer, larger fires), we need to look at two options: 1) Suppress the fire with all means available, or 2) Turn the fire into a WFU and "logically" use firefighters in the terrain and fuels where the hazards are minimized.
MIST is a great benefit when it can be employed safely and meet resource needs. In some cases, MIST just causes longer and larger fires that require greater numbers of firefighters, over longer timeframes to control.
WFU is a great tool when it can be employed safely with firefighter safety in mind first, and with resource benefits second. Unfortunately, when firefighters are called in to "help" a WFU fire to stay in "prescription", often times they are directed to use MIST tactics. Once again, the process of prolonged exposure to the risks gets in the way of firefighter safety.
Risk vs. Exposure ... basic tenants of SAFETY.
Shari & Jersey Boy mentioned how it would be nice if there was some sort of database of information that folks could reference to shorten the learning curve when going to a new area.
Its been several years since I've seen it, but just that type of document was started by someone. For the life of me I cant remember where it was that I found it, but I want to say it was something from one of the NWCG committees. If I was remember correct it was sorted out by GACC as there was a separate document for each GACC. I too thought it was a great idea (and still do) but as I read through them I discovered that some areas had terrific and valuable information, others had very little. If I remember correctly part of the problem is that not everyone (as in from every part of the country) contributed to the project.
Granted a document covering this type of information would be incredibly huge and complicated if it were to try to cover every area in the country, however, that being said, I still felt that it was a worthwhile project probably most useable for areas that do not normally see a lot of "out of towners" coming in to help (IE the Florida fires on ~98).
Perhaps this project has fallen by the wayside with the development of some of the stuff the lessons learned center is doing. If I remember (dont count on that) or I find the printed documents (dont hold your breath on that either) I will certainly pass it along.
Perhaps someone else remembers what I am referring to and will chime in.
This is a message to the many private industry vendors out there who supply
the wildland fire industry with the tools of the trade:
Recently, I was tasked with obtaining information for immediate purchasing
of equipment for my fire department, specifically wildland equipment. The
source of funding for the purchase is from what we call "End-of-the-Year
Dollars". For those in the federal and state fire services, this is funding
left over at the end of the budget year that has to be used in a useful manner or will be lost for next year's budget. This is the best time to
replace or upgrade equipment that is not scheduled in the Annual Budget.
Much of what I specified was purchased through the General Services Administration (GSA), but there was equipment my department was looking to
purchase that GSA could not provide.
So during the third and fourth week of July, I was calling around to vendors asking about equipment, pricing, GSA rates, and product
information. Some of those vendors were prepared, prompt in answering questions, and made a point to get the information I requested before the
end of the day.
But there were several vendors who were not that way, specifically involving
wildland nylon packs. When I called for specific information regarding the product I wanted, I got "the person you need is not here", "I
don't know about that product", "I'll have to call you back", and so on,
but no followup occurred.
There were two vendors who did make a point to call me back, answered my
questions, and provided me with the information I needed. However, because
of the delay in receiving the documented information for the purchase via
email, the vendors missed out on business of more than $1000.00 each.
Because of the delay in getting the information to me, either because of
Internet problems, delays, not returning calls, or whatever the reason, the
funding for the purchase dried up, and will now have to be postponed until
October or later. These were items we needed for the fire season this year.
Now the two vendors who made the efforts are going to get the business, but
it will be later in the year and not when we needed the equipment. I want
some of the private vendors who operate websites to know when we in the
fire service look for specific things to purchase, the Internet is the first place to look using a search engine such as Google or Yahoo! . If we
find what we are looking for and find at least three vendors carrying a similar product, that makes it easy to do a bid or make a direct purchase.
There is one Northern California vendor marketing wildland packs who lost
out on some business because they did not have a website or have a
brochure with product information and pricing.
If someone calls you, a private wildland fire vendor, please have the following ready to go:
- Product information that can be faxed or emailed directly upon request.
- Websites with current product information, pricing, and good
- Have a person available during business hours who can answer specific
questions regarding products, pricing, shipping, etc., regularly.
- If no one is available, MAKE SURE someone gets back to the customer as
soon as possible, or let the customer know when someone will call them back.
- If you do business with the Federal Government, make sure you have a GSA
price list for federal agencies for your products. Having the GSA rate can
speed up a purchase.
When someone from a fire agency calls your business, asks for information
and needs it quickly, make sure that person gets it fast. When it is time
for year-end spending, there are many others competing for the same funding, and it is 'first-come, first-serve' when the product information
and pricing reaches the Chief's Desk for approval.
I used to work in sales and customer service while going to school, and I
know that if I am not prepared the person looking to buy is going to go somewhere else.
I hope some of you will take this to heart when you are asked for pricing
and product information in the near future.
Man O Man... just returned from a walk through the Firefighter Memorial at NIFC. I had not been there in a few years and wanted to see for myself what I have been reading about here.
Well..... I never "saw" anything that I thought I was going to see... ie..
landscaping etc.... What I did feel was the same powerful rush of emotions that one can experience at memorials and fatality sites. The grounds look fine...personal items are on the markers... the waterfall is peaceful. The
sprinklers had just come on cooling the warm Boise eve.. Tears welled as I read all of the names... many I knew... many I wished I had the opportunity to know....
Powerful place.....Thanks to those who had the vision to build it and thanks to those who maintain it.
I would like to provide some additional information for your "Inquiring
Minds Want To Know" section.
One of the questions asks about the first airtanker drop on a wildfire.
The answer spoke about the successful use of a Stearman 75 Cadet in Willows,
CA in 1955.
In the early 1940's, the Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS) was
experimenting with the idea of using aircraft to "bomb" forest fires.
An OPAS pilot/engineer by the name of Carl Crossley modified the floats on a
Noorduyn Norseman bushplane to scoop and drop 100 gallons of water.
His first successful attack on a wildfire took place near Temagami, Ontario
in August 1945.
He was able to knock down the flames so that ground crews could get in and
do their job.
In 1946, the OPAS tried to convert a PBY-5A Canso for waterbombing; it was
later converted to a spray plane.
As with many agencies in Canada and the United States, the OPAS experimented
with numerous types of aircraft to battle forest fires.
Now in it's 81st year of operation, the OPAS uses 9 Bombardier CL-415
aircraft for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
For more information use the following link:
Thanks for your time and thanks for a good publication.
Thanks for the info on Canadian air drops. I've included it on the
page. I just took a moment to read back through that page. It has some
interesting and random info. Anyone have more questions or info that
should have a question section? Ab.
I recently read on "They Said" that another one of our fellow firefighters had died. This time due to a car crash and not out there on the line. I never knew Jennifer Hopkins. She and I do however share something, Six years ago I was a seasonal firefighter for the Plumas National Forest, and was stationed at Brush Creek home of E-33. My heart goes out the this young woman's
family and friends. I want to wish them well. And to everyone out there on the lines or waiting to go. Please be careful. We need you out there. And we want you all to come home safe
either after a fire or a weekend take care and stay alert.
From Al Golub, photojournalist, retired from the Modesto Bee.
Strategy faulted in fatal wildfire
Bad escape planning, investigators conclude
And from the article, this about the entire report -- for those
who wanted to read the whole thing:
"The department released only the report's executive summary. Jarvis said
private personnel information needed to be blacked out before a full
version — except for the redacted portions — is released."
Al also sent in a bunch of photos of the fire scene and the
service. I'll post them soon. Thanks Al. Ab.
Good morning All.
I'll be working on photos today and tomorrow. Thanks for the
contributions and patience, especially the AK gal.
I hope everyone has a very fine day.
There are at least 150 Type 2 AD crews. The AD Firefighter Association (ADFA) has not had the time to determine exact number (if anyone has a complete national or GACC list, please e-mail it to
As some folks may be aware, the ADFA is comprised of AD firefighters, both retirees and non-retirees who possess the necessary qualifications to meet supplementary incident needs when agency-employed resources are exhausted.
To date, the Type 2 AD Crew community has not been actively involved in the discussion of AD rates and treatment. Accordingly the Board has decided to attempt to fix this error of omission on our representation.
If you have read ADFA’s Briefing to Congress on the web page at www.eteamsolutions.com/adfa1/legislative/ADFAcongmedbrief.pdf, that document outlines the pay disparity between Type 2 AD crews and local-unit-organized Type 2 Crews comprised of permanent and seasonal employees hired on the GS pay scale. It is estimated that
Type 2 AD crews make $23,000 less per pay period per crew than a GS crew (Appendix 6 in the referenced document). Another example of
“unequal pay for equal work.”
Many of these AD crews are comprised of college students or are of Hispanic or Native American descent.
The BIA’s response to the issue of Type 2 AD Crew pay -- in an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican -- stated:
“Begay said some all-Indian crews have worked together for years on AD pay and he hasn’t heard the ground-pounding firefighters complain much about the pay.” (see the rest of the article at
My take on Mr. Begay’s comment is that the crews are most likely unaware of exactly how much the difference is.
$23,000 per crew per pay period is a chunk of change, particularly in less well-off communities where firefighting income is an essential source of income to get through the winter months. As an AD firefighter 1969-78, with a wife and a child, I personally found out how important this income is.
The ADFA Board has decided to add the position of National AD Type 2 Crew Representative as an appointment to our Board.
We need a highly motivated individual who is willing to communicate and coordinate with the Type 2 Crews nation-wide, including Alaska (50+ native crews). We will find you some help on this, though.
So please contact me if you fit the bill, or know of someone who does. Preferably – though it is not essential - we can find someone from the SW Geographic Area.
Part of this job will be close coordination with the Governors and Congressional delegations in states with a high percentage of AD crews.
Senator John McCain is Chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, as well as representing a high fire occurrence state. He will be key in publicizing and mobilizing support for better pay for AD line firefighters
The ADFA National AD Type 2 Crew Representative is responsible for:
- Organizing an Outreach Program to inform Type 2 Crews of ADFA objectives and goals with regard to bettering line firefighter pay
- Coordinating with the ADFA Media/Information Officer to develop Outreach materials, mailings, etc and publicize ADFA efforts with AD Type 2 crews
- Recruiting AD Crew representatives in each geographic area who will visit personally with AD crews
- Tracking membership targets with Geographic Areas
- Reporting status of Outreach efforts to the ADFA Board
- Good organizational skills in order to organize Geographic Area representatives
- Good interpersonal and communications skills
- Good verbal and writing skills
Please write a short resume in Word or reply in an short e-mail message to ADFA at
Hugh Carson, Chair, AD Firefighters Association and AD Line Firefighter 1969-78
I think your post expressed in excellent form the importance of a full team effort. My reference to “too much butt time” specifically has to do with those who are fireline team members who may be frustrated with sitting and not fighting fire. I also am sitting on that area of my anatomy while also “working it off” in a support capacity for our fallers working on the fireline (which is why I have posted here over the past few days). I get irritated with reference to “real firefighters” and the inference only “real firefighters” have the worthwhile knowledge. We all have our work in front of us. It may not be as visible as the soot faced firefighter dragging themselves off of the fireline. But it takes all of us to get the job done. Mutual respect for all of our jobs is warranted.
Again, I want to thank both Old Logger and Mike Williams for their informative descriptions of terrain they know well. I agree with JerseyBoy that compiling this kind of information is an excellent idea and would help bring folks geographically up to speed regarding where they are headed to fight fire, thus increasing their safety. It’s similar in nature to our early attempts to compile regional timber typing and tree failure rates for fallers so that they better understand what they will be facing when they arrive in a climate with tree species they aren’t familiar with and are expected to fell danger trees.
CDF has released the "Executive Summary" version (5 pages) of the Tuolumne Fire
Investigation at this link:
Maybe the USFS will post the entire 187 page report.
Thanks BL. We'll post it if someone sends it in. Ab.
Viejo - lots of folks don't have a clear understanding of the differences between "let burn" and MIST (Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics). I recommend the new video from NIFC-PMS (NFES #2708 @ $3.08) "Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics" that is pretty helpful in understanding the differences.
Lots of the SJs and 'Shots really pride themselves on their MIST-competencies in National Parks, Wildernesses and Roadless Areas.
Abs...In my questions on 7/31 I asked if constraints were being placed on the suppression crews that hindered containment?
In the recent press releases from Blossom, I see that MIST (minimum impact suppression tactics) is being employed.
I retired from the CDF more than 10 years ago. I spent most of my 32 year career in Northern California and have worked in Humboldt, Del Norte and several other counties where the timber is tall and the hills are steep. I say that only to stop people from inferring my experience is lacking in that fuel type or terrain.
I always worked in suppression, and always fought fire on someone else's land, therefore, I did not have the luxury of modifying my tactics. That is to say that most of the time, we were committed to maximum suppression effort. Generally speaking, when modified suppression was called for, the Agency with those requirements provided the manpower and equipment and no one complained.
Times have changed, and the costs of firefighting have rocketed upward. Plus, we know there are local economic ramifications for allowing a fire to burn. Local resorts close, tourism suffers, smoke pollution occurs...lots of bad impacts. Plus, we have the added risk of uncontained fire in the wildland. I don't think anyone wants a repeat of the Biscuit Fire experience.
If the Siskiyou NF wants to let the Blossom Complex burn, or is not willing to allow a full suppression effort, why don't they simply declare the area a let burn area and bring in a WFU team? It certainly seems would be more cost effective than running a suppression effort with constraints. Do Forests use this practice to simply burn more acres and therefore get a bigger piece of the FIRE budget?
I am not demeaning the people on the ground in this message. I'm sure as you said earlier, the kids are putting forth a maximum effort. I just don't understand the policies or politics involved .
DoD fire mistake,
I made the change to DoD and also found it didn’t suit me, it cost me $24,000/yr base pay to promote from a GS6 with DoD back to a GS7 with the USFS (62,000/yr to 38,000/yr), the lost money hurts but for me it was worth it. I don’t know where you work or your grade, it used to be you actually made more going from DoD to the wildland agencies but since the pay reform in 1998 you will probably lose money going from a 72 hour week DoD job to a 40 hour wildland job, particularly if you have locality since most wildland jobs are in the RUS locality.
But to your question yes there are 26/0 jobs outside of Region 5, I know Region 3 has some 26/0 jobs, I think R4 and R6 do as well. Be aware that most regions don’t use R5’s Captain, Engineer, AFEO, SFF structure most still use the Foreman, Asst. Foreman titles, or the technical titles of Supervisory Fire Engine Operator and Fire Engine Operator, an Engine foreman is typically a GS6 or GS7, not a GS8. I wouldn't limit myself to 26/0 jobs though, it seems like most 18/8's are working pretty close to year round these days anyway. You might take a look at the NPS, many of the larger parks are running structure engines along with wildland engines so your DoD experience may help you with the Park Service more than with BLM or USFS.
I am so sorry to hear that Jennifer died. She was great to work with.
I'll miss her.
Howdy all! Just skimming the board here quick-like and had some thoughts...
I got a kick out of the post where the CA IMT was going to Alaska in "full uniform" where people where guns on their hips. I am a city dweller now from southern CA and beyond, and couldn’t help but grin hearing about places where people wear their guns on the outside of their person. I’m used to hearing gunshots, but none of these people wear their guns where you can see them!! Ahh, to be back in the woods!
To turn some recent negative threads into a positive, I just had to mention that lots-o-managers, dispatchers, contractors, technical folks, and even non-fire government employees are actually very good people who have dedicated their lives to public service and some even to the wildland fire profession. However, just because we aren't all out pounding line and slugging hose doesn't mean our hearts and thoughts aren't there. I drool when I smell smoke of any sort, but have found that I can make a hundred- or thousand-fold difference in wildland firefighting as a whole by working the issues from a vantage point VERY far removed from the field. Some very dedicated dispatchers, FMOs, nerdy IT-types, and financial managers I know are working where they are for the very same reasons… and most of them would rather be out on on the line. So I guess my point is, go easy. Hearing jabs aimed at management and people “on their butts” always feels like someone has taken that knife in my heart that would rather be out in the woods and given it a good hard twist.
Plus, seriously, the business can’t run without a certain number of butt-sitters, truth being what it is. If everyone ran out of their offices to fight fire, there’d be no one to call you to send you to the next one or send the pay-check after you get home, after they figure out who’s got to pay for it all!
I’d love to say I’d give anything to be out there, but life takes its turns… and I gave everything to be here.
Miss y’all and be safe out there!
Ab, Just wanted to report that the LNF Helicopter Module sent 6 rappeller boosters
to John Day OR today. Its great to see the inter-regional cooperation, and sharing of
specialized resources, since from our records this is a first in a LONG time. We wish
them a safe and successful "boost."
It was great to read Old Logger's account of the
terrain and fire history of the Siskiyou N.F. While I
won't go so far to say as I have a "slide" of the
area, it has definitely added to my knowledge of fire.
Taking it a bit further, since we have all sorts of
folks visiting this site with tons of local fire
knowledge, I was wondering how feasible it would be to
create a database on the web of local conditions.
I know we have pocket cards, etc., but it seems if we
could get people from around the country with "Old
Logger-type" knowledge, it would greatly shorten the
learning curve when fighting fire outside your own
Do we have enough people lurking here to get a "what
to expect: fire history/terrain" for every FS ranger
district, BLM district, state district?
Don't mean to give you more work Ab :)!
That would be a good idea if people wrote in. Ab.
Jennifer Hopkins, a seasonal firefighter on PNF E-33 was killed in a non-work related traffic accident on Saturday on her way home from work. She will be missed. Everyone be careful out
there--- at work and at play.
to post a message for her.
Just got this off the Northern California GACC News and Notes section….
Funeral Announcement - Jennifer Hopkins, a firefighter on PNF Engine 33 of the Feather River Ranger District was killed off-duty in a single vehicle traffic collision on July 30. Services will be at 10:00 am, Thursday August 4, at the Church of the Naverene, 2238 Monte Vista Avenue in Oroville. Graveside services and a reception will follow. Emergency personnel should contact Michael Condon at (530) 394-8008 or John Gay at (530) 394-8009 with any questions.
Our prayers and wishes go out to the family and friends of Jennifer.
On the morning of July 30th Firefighter Jennifer Hopkins was killed in a
solo vehicle traffic accident while returning to the station. Jennifer was
stationed at the Brush Creek Fire Station, Feather River Ranger District,
Plumas National Forest, Engine 33. Our prayers and hearts go out to the
family, friends and co-workers. Services will be held on August 4 at the
Church of Nazarene, 2238 Monte Vista Ave, Oroville Calif. Flowers or cards
may be sent to the Ramsey Funeral Home 1175 Robinson St. Oroville Ca.
95965. The Plumas NF would like to thank the Forest Service Honor Guard for
Our thoughts and prayers for friends and family. Ab.
the reason many folks who are commenting here and NOT keeping your KIDS SAFE is that some
bureaucracy decided that being educated in a BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE is more important than addressing the root causes of firefighter injuries, illness, and fatalities....
the AGENCIES and OPM determined that our education and experience somehow don't keep the folks safe.... Maybe it is the AGENCIES and the OPM who are MISSING THE POINT??? Wildland firefighters are firefighters.
Wildland firefighting is just a different breed of firefighting. The risks and
negative outcomes are the same.... death, injury, and long term illness and injuries.
Many IFPM positions require US to have specialized education to continue our current jobs (Those of us at home trying to meet those requirements to do 'and keep' the jobs we have been safely doing for years to protect the "KIDS" beneath us) to obtain degrees or substantial credits in Agriculture, Forestry, Natural Resources, and other Biological Sciences positions.
There is going to be a an intervention at some point, an intervention that RETURNS the folks who are "REALLY" responsible for wildland firefighter safety back to the helm of wildland firefighter discussions. I can't wait until
it happens..... August 12.
Bowing from the waste…with a quick wink…
We all have our moments, sir.
Really…the Iowa Women’s site was a mistake…honest.
And, as Old Logger provided They Said readers with such an intensely descriptive picture of the area, the “terrain” discussion was fortunately redirected from its apparent dismal initial direction of chest pounding.
As far as “ripping me a new one,” you might remember where I live and operate…full metal (and mental) armor is required to
survive… head to toe full metal armor.... Oh, but to have a humane work
environment… perhaps someday. For now, its comforting to know I have metal covering my a___.
It’s interesting NorthZone, how you include “open mind” and “no desire to educate closed minds” in the same sentence. Your insinuation that the Safety Summit was simply a “seminar” speaks for itself.
When chest pounding is more acceptable in your circle of “real firefighters” than education, your perspective is clear. Rock Away and keep clippin’ those coupons.
Perhaps, in all fairness, you thought I was suggesting the description of the Blossom Complex area was useless, and sharing that information served no purpose. Not at all. By contrast, insulting one another based on a lack of understanding, I believe, is.
Enjoy your retirement.
Plumas Natl Forest sent me your link. I am looking for two pieces of
equipment as I leisure in a creek bed in a pretty remote area and don't want
to perish in the event of a sudden firestorm. I'm looking for a small radio
that can give a location. I'm not even sure what this thing is called. The
other thing is some sort of oxygen supply and mask, so that I can breath in
intense smoke and or water in the creek.
Any suggestions or direction you may lend would be appreciated. I was
spurred onward to explore these devices when a friend recently broke her
ankle out there and it took us a while to get help.
Yuba City Driver Safety
Could anybody tell me where they have 26&0 captains positions other than
region 5? I switched over to DOD fire and I would really like to get back into
the woods. Holding down a lazyboy just isn't for me! A structure fire just
doesn't match a good old running timber fire.
dod fire mistake
I will eat my crow with humility. You are certainly correct and I apologize for leading you astray. Especially since I’ve found myself at that same Iowa Women’s site myself and have laughed at my “too fast fingers.” Thank you for providing the correct route to the IAWF site and I hope that it helped others find their way there too.
Lori…I was really just teasing, you don’t need to send cookies. My mother keeps my cookie jar stocked. It was really just a light hearted comment and I think your offer was generous and wonderful. I also am anxious to see more folks participate in this fundraiser. WFF is there for us. We need to be there for WFF.
Old Logger – thanks.
“Deep and dark green, swift and clear, icy cold and as pure as the snows from which it sprang, the river had its source in the mountain under Crater Lake. It was a river at its birth; and it glided away through the Oregon forest, with hurrying momentum, as if eager to begin the long leap down through the Siskiyous. The giant firs shaded it; the deer drank from it; the little black-backed trout rose greedily to floating flies. And in sunlit glades, where the woods lightened, the wild lilac bloomed in its marvelous profusion of color, white and purple and pink, scenting the warm drowsy air with sweet fragrance.” ~ Zane Grey - Rogue River Feud
At least it wasn't one of those XXX sites that too fast fingers
can sometimes take you to. Ab.
Abs, since retirement, I've been sitting in my rocking chair happily clipping coupons. Until now, there has been little drivel to rile me as I occasionally observe the ebb & flow of topics on this form.
Kudos to all who didn't rip Shari a new one.<snip> be safe
Pray the new kids on the block & the upward mobility herd realize there is much to glean (pertinent information that may save their lives) from their Elders who take the time to relate their stories but will never attend a "seminar".
The "real" wildland firefighters in my circle of FS & BLM family members & friends who make/take time to read this forum keep an open mind (even with 15+ yrs of experience, nationwide terrain/situations); busy: no laptops, no hoselay, no desire to educate closed minds, nor expend energy on a butt kicking ego trip.
Best wishes to Phil and others recovering from injuries; thanks to the Abs for providing this forum,
safe landings, y'all.
Ken's Benefit Mega Run:
Okay all you red, white & blue folks (green and lime green,
too).. Let's dance. Put up and pledge. My honey gave me the OK for the check book. We pledged $5/ mile Also, I will send an extra $50 if the Blossom Fire gang can hook the fire before the 52 run. I have faith in the ORCA team to catch it. But I still have the OK and I will still send it anyway. Let's go! The ball is in your court...
- Old Logger, Kudos for "taking too long" to describe reality in your neck of the woods. Forewarned is forearmed.
One would hope any wildland FF who might be heading to the Blossom fire reads and rereads your post.....
groundpounders, rapellers, jumpers, crew bosses, et al.
Sure, Southzone has some of the highest mountain peaks in North
America.... doubt anyone is fighting fire above tree line! ditto Northzone which is no cake walk either. this is not a P-contest.
Old Loggers' descriptive narration can be applied to other microcosms.
(We'd like to know more about the Sandvik... )
be safe all,
Regarding the post about the Blossom Fire:
In 1987, the Silver Fire began on August 30 and was not contained until
after the rains fell for three days the first week in November.
A mere 15 years or so, and the Biscuit Fire started in July and wasn't
contained until it had a perimeter of over 450,000 acres with a cost of half
Within five days of entering the fire service I was sent in on a night crew
down Shasta Costa Creek to relieve a crew of jumpers that had been "in the
hole" for two days." This was my first large fire, and the beginning of my
career on the Siskiyou National Forest, "the land of the moving mountains."
Once I returned from the fire, I went to my official duty as a
reconnaissance timber sale officer, covering much of the range of what is
now the area of the Blossom Fire. In the twenty years I spent both working
and living in the Siskiyou - there is one thing that I learned very quickly
- and that is there are very few flat places, and that many of the slopes
are craggy, slippery serpentine, and loose soils. Also, proximity to the
coastal Mediterranean climate makes it idea for low brush growth,
especially hucklebrush, ceanothus. thick rhododendron, pure tanoak stands,
four to five inch diameter poison-oak, and a mixture of fuels rarely seen
in other parts of the world let alone the country.
There are flammable redwood components, very heavy and high btu tan-oak (now
diseased with multiple tones were acre) multi-tiered canopy's that carry
flame for miles -especially during an east wind situation and when it is
how and dry. There are two directions on the Siskiyou - up and down.
Makes it very difficult to keep keen situational awareness when progressing
with fireline building. It is also a serrated landscape, where one moment
you may be on a soft ridge, only to find oneself at the end of a steep
drop-off - with no where to go but back.
In the late sixties, the only way out of these remote fires was find a
trail, follow a tributary of one of the many rivers - fiording as you go -
or try to pick up an old elk or deer trail. When the logging got further
into the Gold Beach, Powers, Galice and Chetco Ranger Districts, sometimes
there would be a pioneer road, or in the case of Blossom Bar - an old, very
old mining road. Hazards in the Siskiyou in any space and time were and
remain: yellowjackets, aggressive bald-face hornets, poison oak, loose,
tired rock, rolling rocks, unstable slopes (land of the moving mountains)
and not to include gray wolf (yes they have been found and verified by the
Smithsonian), cougar, rattle snakes, - well the list goes on. Typical
shelf like for a pair of White's, Buffalos, (these were prior to Nick's)
were about three years before a rebuild were necessary. And employees who
"worked" in the woods every day were not uncommon to own "rubber caulks"
for the annual 80" of rain in November and December episodes - (and yes
people worked outside in this everyday), and knee-high boots to prevent the
multiple bruises from the extremely thick brush - especially for those
running P-lines, profiles, or trail recon. The Sandvik was the tool of
choice - it's the Swedish made "American machete of the Siskiyous" and you
didn't go anywhere with out one.
Smokejumpers who initial attacked fires in the Kalmiopsis wilderness, the
north kalmiopsis roadless, the chrome creek, Lemmingsworth gulch areas -
told tales of fighting fire for three days and having to hike out for five
or six days, no trail, through overcrowded south facing slopes heavy in
tan-oak dust, and little if any stable footing. When jumpers from other
areas of the country were sent to the Siskiyou, they were always given 150'
or longer let-down ropes in case of a timber landing. Some missions saw
jumpers add an additional let down rope to their leg pocket. The Siskiyou
welcomed its first helicopter when it arrived - and it still remains a
highly viable tool.
Getting back to Blossom - first of all, Gold Beach, Agness, Blossom Bar are
as about as far remote as anyone would want to have to transfer people,
equipment, tools. It's one step back for every 2 steps forward. Along
with the steep, it is very slick, it is also very brushy - spacing
between crew members must be maintained or an ear or eye can easily get
snapped out of place (then infected with tan-oak). The Timber is ancient,
making orientation very difficult, unless you come in from the air, the
moment you enter this forest ecotype - it is easy to get tuned around. Now
folks have GPS - it wasn't around a few years back - however the terrain of
the forest used to play tricks on compass needles due to the high mineral
content of the soil ores in some area. And as far a radio communication
functions - without repeaters, one would not talk to another
Well, given the safety mandate that we all follow these days it is no
wonder that progress on Blossom is taking so long. I would assume that for
every "danger tree" in the north Kalmiopsis that has to be felled - that
not only do the Ops Chiefs need to find a logger to cut down anything over
60" d.b.h. - but the Forest is being pushed to write an E.A. (environmental
analysis) for cutting that stem. Blossom, Silver, Chrome, Biscuit - all
these fire are burning in the hearth of the environmental homeland of the
green movement in America.
Blossom is a special area in a special place on a special Forest that is
looked over by special forces and special people. It does not surprise
some to hear the types of remarks posted about this country. It is God's
Country. And when you come back quietly after the fires are out, the
following spring - and enter these woods alone, or with a friend - to trek
through and see the changes - its an adventure never forgotten, hard to
share, and the visions stay with you an entire lifetime. Each scar,
bruise, bite that you get is your contribution, and welcome to these woods.
Taking too long???? I would not tend to think so. Time to this Forest is
immortal. It is but a mote in God's eye.
- Old Logger
Thanks for the glimpse of the place. Ab.
North Valley Engine Burnover
7 Miles North of Orovada, Humboldt County,
WID Burnover Final Report ATT
1.pdf (pdf file)
Thanks TC and thanks to viejo for sending in the 24-hour narrative
just after the burnover (theysaid, 7/20). Thank goodness no one was hurt
in this one... I am convinced that knowing about these situations and
being prepared for heavy flashy fuels has saved some lives this season.
Also, maybe enough time has passed to show this photo (sent in by
Dick Mangan on 7/20) of the results of the burnover
in Spain in similar flashy fuels. 11 Spanish firefighters died. I
didn't want to post this earlier as people were grief-stricken and
memorial services were taking place. Readers, when that report comes
out, please send it in. As I understand it, the potential for changing
fire behavior was determined and many firefighters were pulled off that
line before the blowup, saving many lives. Our thoughts and prayers are
still with the friends of the lost and their families.
This Old Sawyer pledges $1.08 per mile for Ken's run, yielding my age at 52 miles.
Thank you Oliver!!! Nothing is worth the life of a firefighter. I have been in the business a few years
and have three kids out on the line at this time. To all the arm chair quarter backs I must ask. Why
are you on the keyboard and not the line? To all the folks on their two days recovery time I say
thanks and hang in there.
dirty face fire
mandatory evacuations on lake levenworth wash
photos and videos
Has anyone gone to the IAWF site and read through the proceedings Proceedings from 2005 Wildland Fire Safety Summit as Sheri suggested on
8/1? I did, but as much as I tried, I couldn't find anything about the safety summit....because the link took me to Iowa Women's
Ha Ha! I'm sure it was unintentional, but I couldn't help poking
fun..... and it is intended to be all in good fun in posting this. Man, some of you guys need a fire or something to let off some steam with all this blather about my terrain is steeper/tougher that your terrain yadda yadda yadda. ...lets see now, where did I put that list of umpteen situations that shout watch out when posting on bulleting boards.....
Oh yea, the correct link for the IAWF (Int. Assoc of wildland fire, NOT the Iowa Women's Foundation) is
My thought for the day comes from Wade Boggs during his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame over the weekend:
"Life is about obstacles," Boggs said. "Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens. Not by what life brings us, but the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts."
Y'all stay safe out there
This is a little bit of a fudge on my original intent (I wanted ALL the crewmembers to sign up), but at $5 a mile, I will gladly make you and your crew the promised cookies and brownies. You can email me at
LGreeno @ msn. com and let me know where I should send them. I am heading to New Orleans tomorrow with the kids for a family reunion of John's family, so I won't be able to get those to you right away. I will get those to you as soon as we get back. I'll be looking for your email and thanks for the pledge. I hope the pledges keep on rolling in. Come on everyone!
Here we go again with people getting all "puppy-ass" about the Blossom Fire and whether other regions even know what real wildland fire looks like.
You can put me down for $1 a kilometer for Ken's run. It makes the math little more difficult, but what can expect from someone not quite smart enough to make a paying gig out of wildland fire?
I do know my metric conversions... 1 kilometer= 0.62 mile. Ab.
I can confirm the steepness of the Blossom area in the Wild and Scenic Rogue River area. I was borne and raised in that part of the country .Chased a Bear or two plus other critters from Galice to Agness on both sides of the river. Later in life I fought a number of fires in the same area. It's not just the steep slopes that make it difficult. Large trees and brush.... rocks balanced on top of rocks and streams, over grown with vegetation, stair stepping their way down to the Rogue . Even before the Wild designation in the early 70's this was a wild piece of real estate. I applaud the efforts of the crews assigned to the Blossom complex and hope they have an IAP that leads them to success safely.
To the discussion about arm chair quarterbacking - Many posts here on They Said, posted after fatalities and burnovers, emphatically stated that no piece of land...no
home... no unique natural resource...is worth the life of a single fire fighter.
Maybe the leadership on the Blossom believe this also.
Does anyone know what will happen with the Monument bricks? When?
Who is in charge of that? I thought a beautiful wall was designed. I
one brick that I bought and several friends purchased them after I did.
Maybe if we could call someone we could hurry everything up.
Regarding this terrain discussion….give it a friggin’ break already. I’ve seen incredibly informative and helpful discussion threads on They Said. This is not one of them. It looks like it’s headed down a really pathetic path. There is nothing informative about a “My terrain is bigger and badder than your terrain” p__sing match. For heaven’s sake let’s concentrate on safety and looking out for one another out there. It’s all challenging. What firefighters do is risky. Oil your boots and keep your fingers off the keyboard if you don’t have anything better to do than criticize and bluster. (Sorry Ab, my nerves are frazzled right about now….) I, for one, appreciate messages like Ed’s from the field …”…with NO injuries.” (Thanks, Ed, for that one…). Here’s a thought for a constructive diversion tactic to combat mental spiraling due to “too much butt time”…How many of you were in Missoula for the IAWF Safety Summit? If not, check out the organization’s website
(www.iawf.org) and read some of the incredible research papers and presentations that those folks worked hard to bring to the wildland fire community. Go to the “Proceedings from 2005 Wildland Fire Safety Summit” link on the main page. Stretch your mind rather than wasting it on useless mental blather. IAWF members can download the presentation papers and posters at no charge. (If you’re not yet a member, dues are extremely reasonable and worth the minimal cost.) The entire collection is also available on CD and can be ordered from IAWF. The wisdom in this collection is phenomenal and shouldn’t be gathering dust on the shelf. Agency and private sector trainers would do well to consider incorporating it into their training programs. It’s there for accessing…just reach out and grab it…consume it…digest it…spit out what doesn’t ring true for you.
Here are a couple of my particular favorites:” TEFF: Ten Essential Factors of Firefighting” (Patrick Withen, PhD); and “Deep Psychology – The Quiet Way to Wisdom” (Ted Putnam, PhD) Both of these guys come from smokejumper ranks. Withen is still fighting fire…so firefighting is something they know well.
And, really, in your spare time you could try learning a bit of Latin: nemo surdior est quam is qui non audiet “No man is more deaf than he who will not hear”
I'm explaining so we keep this to ISSUES. I should have put in one of
those <tongue firmly in my armpit> clarifications of my emotion, I
guess. My point with Viejo (or anybody else) is that EXPERIENCE in your
(anybody's) home environment is important in how you (or anyone) look at
and criticize things. It's a good thing to keep your own (or
Viejo's) perspective in mind whenever you Monday Morning
Before everyone in SoCal goes wild here; good grief BB get a grip
<unruly tongue, slap, slap>; re-read what I said specifically
"your flat so cal grasslands with roads"
Viejo's or anyone's experience in his (or anyone's) home environment
with his CDF (or any agency's) methods of fighting fire don't
necessarily work in other roadless AND extreme terrains (or on the
moon). I know the LPF, the ANF, the BDF, the CNF have wilderness areas
and mountains with limited roads. I've fought fire there too. However,
CDF's tactic of going direct on fires often doesn't work in roadless
vertical environments with big timber no matter how many handcrews you
have. Now if we could put their (or any agency's) dozers on those
vertical southern Oregon mountainsides, that might be something
interesting to watch. (Sorry Ab, that just spewed out. <tongue
escaped from armpit, my bad>)
haw, haw, thanks for trying. Ab.
Todd may be interested to know that Mt. San Gorgonio, not too far east of Los Angeles, rises to 11,500 feet. Just south of Mt. San Gorgonio, Mt. San Jacinto's 10,800 foot elevation climbs over 10,000 of those feet in only 7 miles!! According to Wikipedia, it is "part of the sheerest mountain face in all of North America". As for the roads, they imply population and improvements; factors which greatly increase the need for fast, aggressive firefighting. Also implicit is the consequent greater number of fire starts. Add to that the hot climate, Santa Ana winds, and long rainless season, and you see why Southern California is where "REAL wildland firefighters (Todd's words)" learn their trade.
CDF Mike in Arroyo Grand
I’m pledging $5 per mile for Ken’s run on behalf of my 2005 Northwest Timber Faller crew. Do I get cookies?