"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
OCTOBER, 2005

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10/31 Lobotomy: thanks again for timely information re: the govt pay raise, or lack there of!!!??? Been reading your posts for YEARS...arghgghghg. Better get with the program on this subject, eh?

I rely on this site for current and accurate info!! History DOES repeat itself, does it not??? HMN>

Just want to say thanks: I get more info here than from the Agency I work for...and isn't that sad???

Mellie: thanks always for the heart-felt info and timeliness for topics. Intend on spending some time reading up on the bird flu thing...scarey, eh? HMN> Fear is no friend to an epidemic though...

Heading to the Gulf Coast next week, like the rest of the community: and am only glad to help, as I can't stand watching!!! We are "do-ers" are we not???? Carry on....Lurking for years....everybody make yourself "available" if ya can: there is still a great need....

Tizzy

Welcome Tizzy. Ab.

10/31 What do Senators John McCain, Ariz.; Sam Brownback, Kan.; Tom Coburn, Okla.; Jim DeMint, S.C.; John Ensign, Nev.; Lindsey Graham, S.C.; and John Sununu, N.H. all have in common?

All of these Senators want to “freeze” a 3.1% pay increase for all federal employees that was approved by the Senate on Oct. 20th and by the House of Representatives back in June. The bill that includes the 3.1 pay increase for 2006 has yet to be signed by the President.

The only exceptions to this “freeze” would be for federal law enforcement officers and the military.

Also, a group of Congressmen are also proposing cuts to federal retiree benefits.

Full Story: www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=32685&dcn=todaysnews

Lobotomy
10/31 File Code: 1200 Date: October 27, 2005
Subject: Headquarters Organizational Changes - National Fire Plan, Forest Management, and Fire and Aviation Staffs
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs, WO Staff Directors

Over the past five years, the National Fire Plan has been and continues to be a driving force behind a substantial portion of Forest Service activities and programs. I am extremely proud of all the work we have accomplished at all levels of the agency under the umbrella of the National Fire Plan and in conjunction with the Healthy Forest Initiative.

The National Fire Plan has been a common thread running through several Forest Service and Department of Interior programs. It has helped us form some powerful partnerships with Federal, tribal, state and local agencies as well as non-government organizations. Together, we have accomplished our common objectives centered on community protection and the restoration of forest and grassland ecosystems.

In order to maintain our focus on these long-term goals and continue the success we have worked so hard to attain, I am announcing some organizational shifts related to National Fire Plan headquarters operations. These changes will result in no net gain of positions within the Washington Office. I am combining the National Fire Plan and Fire and Aviation Management staffs and creating a National Fire Plan Deputy Director position. In addition to current National Fire Plan activities, that position will oversee implementation of the hazardous fuels program and partnership activities for the Fire and Aviation Management programs. Two Assistant Director positions, one for partnerships focused on working with State Foresters and one for hazardous fuels, will report to the Deputy Director.

In addition, I am restructuring an existing Assistant Director position within the Forest Management staff. That position will enhance integration across all Deputy Areas in programs that contribute to ecological restoration. The Forest Management staff will also take the lead on the Healthy Forest Initiative and implementation of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act.

These changes will help us continue our emphasis on and support for achievement of the goals of the National Fire Plan, the Healthy Forest Initiative and the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. They will enhance our opportunities for partnerships and the integration of management activities within and outside the Forest Service and will help maintain a close connection between protection and resource management programs. We will also continue our efforts to integrate related information systems to maximize their usefulness and minimize data collection impacts to the field.

I also want to remind you that we will continue with our examination of organizational efficiencies which includes a review of the Washington Office Deputy Area structure.

We will begin working immediately to effect the organizational changes and will be requesting your assistance in recruiting candidates for vacant positions. Thanks to all of you for your contributions that have led to the success of the National Fire Plan and for your continued support as we move forward to achieve our long-term goals with this new organization.

/s/ Dale N. Bosworth
DALE N. BOSWORTH
Chief

New Organizational Chart
Fact sheet

10/31 Streamlining Dispatch

After thorough review of the Forest Service EUSC Help
Center, or as most everyone that I know calls it
"U-SUCK", I propose we do the same with our dispatch
centers. We'll contract out under EUSC. Employees in
the field, lookouts, other agencies, private parties
and office Personnel (Chiefs) will need to get a ticket
from EUSC. EUSC will prioritize all calls and forward
on to dispatch the calls they cannot take care of. The
dispatch centers will need to followup on the calls
within 24hrs, unless it's a weekend (good-luck then).
Of course the priority calls dispatch will need to
respond to within 2 hours. Overtime guaranteed. Have a
safe winter for those no longer fighting fire.

Sign me,
Another layer of government

10/31 Bill,
Thanks for the reminder of the Loop anniversary. So.......how many other
lurkers beside myself used to wear "the Duck"?

Old Fire Guy
10/31 The 39th anniversary of the 1966 Loop Fire will be tomorrow, November 1, 2005. Here is the information from our Wildland Fire Event Calendar about that fire:

"On November 1, 1966, a U.S. Forest Service firefighting crew was trapped by flames in the Loop Fire. The El Cariso Hot Shots were constructing a fireline downhill into a chimney canyon and were within 200 feet of completing their assignment when a sudden shift of winds caused a spot fire directly below where the crew was working. Within seconds, flames raced uphill, engulfing the firefighters. The fire flashed through the canyon in less than 1 minute trapping many in the crew. Ten members of the El Cariso Hot Shots perished on the Loop Fire that day and another two died in the following days. Many of those who survived, were critically burned and remained hospitalized for some time."

Our Wildland Fire Event Calendar, which can be accessed from our home page at www.iawfonline.org, has the anniversary dates of many (but not all) famous and infamous multiple fatality fires over the last 150 years. It also includes a short description and a link to more information when available. As far as I know, it is the only listing of multiple fatality fires by anniversary date. It can be sorted to show only the historical events by clicking on the "Categories" drop-down list in the upper right-hand corner.

By reviewing, and not forgetting, these fires, it just might prevent a similar disaster. On the anniversary dates, these fire situations could be discussed at safety meetings or could be topics for Six Minutes for Safety.

We are planning a staff ride of the Loop Fire as an optional part of the 9th Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Pasadena, CA, April 25-27, 2006... probably on the day following, on April 28.

We just started something that could be fun and interesting. Members of the wildland fire community can now plot their location on a map, upload a photo (of themselves, a fire, an engine, or crew), and include a short message. Using Google maps and a new service called Frapper!, you can see where other wildland fire professionals and enthusiasts are located. It only maps your city, not your specific address, in order to protect your privacy. This is open to anyone with a significant interest in wildland fire, not just IAWF members. You can access it from our home page (look in the "IAWF News" section), or you can go to it directly at: www.frappr.com/internationalassociationofwildlandfire.

Bill Gabbert
Executive Director
International Association of Wildland Fire

10/31 To all FWFSA "procrastinators":

The Reno Hilton has agreed to extend for one week (until Nov. 9th) the time period in which to make room reservations for our membership conference. A number of our folks are still on the Gulf Coast or other assignments and need some additional time.

Please use room code FWFS5 when making your reservations at 800-648-5080.

Thanks,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
(916) 515-1224
10/31 Firehorse,

If you are staying near Old Town in Downtown Sac it will be an easy walk
for you.
Head down the K St mall away from Old Sac towards the Cathedral and Pyramid
Brewery. Cut over to the Capitol at 13th Street and you will be able to see
it on your left (east) as you walk through the Capitol Mall.

Information for downtown Sac: www.downtownsac.org
Quick aerial image of where the memorial is: memorial.jpg

Welcome to Sac,
GISgirl
10/31 The after action report for the Topanga Fire can be found at
www.lafdtraining.org/ttg/wp-content/topanga_narrative.pdf (pdf file)

CDF BC
10/31 Going to Sacramento and staying near Old Town.
Can anyone give me directions to the "Firefighter Memorial"?

Firehorse
10/31 Mellie, thanks for this link: www.fluwikie.com

NorCal Tom

10/30 Hi Ab,

I was on the Topanga Fire from IA through the first few days.

I pass this along so that others can learn that we still have a ways to go in meeting the goals of FIRESCOPE back in the 1970s.

  • Communications between the primary agencies involved in fighting this fire was almost non-existent at the field level.
  • Command was Unified, but Operations were being carried out separately to a large extent by each agency. It should be a watch out when you have more than one Operations on a fire. Four is too many OPs. Especially when the result is separate briefings and plans being followed even after a IMT is in place. Also, ground units could not talk to helicopters for various reasons, which caused repeated drops on a house that had firefighters on the roof and inside, pushing fire on them.
  • Some agencies pulled out of assignments prior to finishing them and others had little wildland experience or training to draw on. Knowing this up front allows proper placement of folks so that they stay in their safety and comfort zones when possible.
  • Law folks had uncoordinated evacuations and failed road closures that hindered fire operations.
  • Some agencies took credit for things they had nothing to do with.
  • Well meaning horse loving folks hindered fire equipment by blocking roads, endangered each other by their methods and injured animals as well.

I know this sounds like a laundry list of whines, but there were good things too.

  • The initial structure protection saved houses with good efforts.
  • Many other houses were saved due to good weed abatement since there weren't enough engines to cover even a fraction of the houses exposed in the initial hours of the fire. The houses that were lost had no engines available to save them.
  • The placement of resources to pace the head of the fire and place resources worked well after it passed through the first neighborhoods.
  • The fire did not push the Hwy 101 corridor, which also helped a lot as it kept up in the hills the first night.

On the whole this turned out well, but all the elements that could lead to a serious problem were there and are still there today as the wind gets ready to blow again.

Please sign this
"A Ranger in CA"

10/29 New posts on Bird Flu Watchout. Ab.
10/29 Fire away....

On 10/26 you said "Any Captain that would put his engine at the top of a chimney, fail to notice that the main fire had arrived at his location from the predicted direction, fail to notice that a firing operation (with helicopter drops and burning for 35 minutes) had occurred only a few hundred feet away and ordered his crew to abandon the safest place to ride out the passing fire front probably should face some kind of adverse action."

Adverse action is not the goal of people who want to improve safety... lessons learned and understood are. It is such an awesome thing to see family members from these accidents lend their personal experiences to the discussion. We should never discount their opinions and recommendations for safety from an outside viewpoint. They have the same goal as most of us.... to make wildland firefighting safer.

Three observations:

1) There is usually never just one mistake that causes a burnover incident. I would hope we all know that. The Swiss Cheese Model has been proven time and time again to be an accurate model of why accidents happen. When someone thinks there is just one person or a certain small group of people contributing to the accident, they will surely be shown to be wrong when the causal and contributing factors are made public. Sometimes, an Agency (all Agencies) remove the things that could hurt a policy, a person, or an Agency through redactions or editing prior to release. This is a fact of life in our times when people worry more about litigation than keeping their fellow firefighters safe.

The Forest Service (at least the fire folks and some key non-fire managers) is undergoing a doctrinal review/change process that is focusing on six key fundamental areas to improve safety and efficiency. It took alot of hurt feelings, beating up on policies, people holding back punches when they wanted to swing, and occasionally pointing fingers at the opinions of key people above them to at least get the possibility of change upon the table. These changes came from the lessons learned from many tragic fires of the past and the things that happened during the Cedar, Old, and Grand Prix fires of 2003. They seeds of change happened from the events of the South Canyon, Thirty Mile, Cramer Fires and all of the other fatality fires from the last twenty years.

2) The main predicted direction of spread was up the San Diego River Drainage with a normal upslope flanking run towards the accident site that was roughly 45 degrees off from the San Diego River Canyon. The upslope flanking movement appears, to many experienced and educated people, to have been influenced negatively by the multiple ignitions around structures upslope of, and out of alignment from the head that was moving up the San Diego River Drainage. Don't forget, there was alot of fire that was set upslope around numerous structures (simple fire dynamics). This may have been a good tactic to "fire and get the hell out of the way and let God sort them out" if it hadn't been the fact that most of the structures were being protected by fire engines not overly familiar with the local drought, fuel conditions, and fire behavior. A simple communication that said, "Hey, these structures are un-defendable, you need to leave and I'll tell the Division Supervisor I am making a last ditch effort to save them by firing out around them" may have been a simple plug to a hole in the Swiss Cheese Model.

3) The use of a vehicle as a refuge is something you may want to investigate more. As a last resort refuge, the house was a far better choice. There are lots of variables, but residual burnout time for the fuels is extended in the house rather than in the vehicle. (It takes longer to make a house untenable than a vehicle that has a fiberglass hood, rubber door sealing, rubber tires, and glass that is prone to cracking and letting in direct flames and gases. It might be OK as a last resort to ride out the burnover in a grass fire, but in chaparral and timber (with long residual burnout times), it's a very bad choice.

See the Crank Fire Video (no link available) and Surviving Fire Entrapments: Comparing Conditions Inside Vehicles and Fire Shelters: www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/htmlpubs/htm97512817/index.php

The Aussies also have some good info on using the structure before a vehicle as a refuge.

Lobotomy

10/29 This comment is in reference to fire suppression as discussed by “Klamathman” on 10/20 and “Into the Wind’s” follow up on 10/21.

There are a lot of good reasons in southern California to let fires run and to use prescribed fire for hazardous fuels reduction, but for most of the region’s wildlands, maintaining healthy landscapes and managing “fire-dependent” ecosystems are not two of them. Although fire exclusion has certainly caused problems in some of the forests, those communities are not the dominate cover in the region. That distinction goes to shrublands like chaparral which occupies the majority of cover in all four southern California National Forests. The Cleveland is more than 88% shrubland and the Angeles is more than 71%. For chaparral, there is enough fire on the ground already. Adding more with the intent of improving its health will only lead to its elimination and ultimately replacement by weedy grassland. Such a transformation is already occurring in large areas across southern California.

Despite our best efforts, we have not excluded fire from southern California shrublands over the past century. And despite what some say, NO ONE has a clue about what the “natural” fire return interval was for chaparral before we (including Native Americans) got here and started changing the place. Besides, what’s “natural” is really no longer important. We’re here and those days of Eden are long gone. We can’t manage landscapes as if humans don’t exist. Our impact is too great for that kind of thinking and will only lead to serious natural resource damage. That means we can’t just leave most of them alone for the same reason. We’re stuck with management whether we like it or not. Something a lot of environmentalists have a hard time understanding.

So what’s with this “fire-dependent” ecosystem idea? Such a thing doesn’t really exist. Ecosystems are finely tuned machines that are adapted to patterns over time. Although it is true that some plant seeds require fire for germination, it doesn’t mean the things are “fire-dependent” anymore than people’s houses need to burn because they have fire insurance. These plants have adapted to long term patterns relating to particular fire “regimes” that includes frequency, season, severity, etc. Burn a chaparral patch three times in 20 years and its typically gone. 100-year-old chaparral remains a healthy system and doesn’t need fire to remain so. There aren’t many of those kinds of stands left anymore.

Some say chaparral doesn’t burn unless its 30 years old. Well, that just doesn’t match up with what we know. With the invasion of all those sticker weeds from the Mediterranean, etc., what we get now are a lot of flashy fuels to carry the flames. That’s what did the Mojave in during the fire there in June. The place isn’t used to fire, but the weeds brought it in. I wouldn’t be surprised if within 100 years Joshua Trees and Saguaro cacti end up on a rare species list because of these desert fires due to weeds; weeds that came over with us. Another thing we have to deal with.

All this wraps up into what I think really needs to be seriously looked at. With fire frequencies increasing and people building all over the place, fire agencies need to start looking at themselves as resource managers that take the time to understand the role fire plays in the systems they are fighting fires in…along with the two thousand other things they are being asked to do these days. Doing anything less will only lead to the uglification of many of the wonderful wild places we like to play in.

Burn and grind up the stuff in a STRATEGIC way to protect communities, but chaparral doesn’t need us to put fire on the ground to maintain its health.

jimhart
10/29 Student of Fire Science,

I'm not sure why you believe that the "401" is bad, seems to me education and experience leads to better managers. But....As you already know, the requirements and OPM standards are dynamic. There will always be refinement, additions, changes etc. as indicated by the latest supplement.

Your application/transcript will be evaluated by Human Resource Specialists to determine if your degree/coursework is such to qualify for the 401 series.

It is only my guess that the addition of a "fire science" degree anticipates coursework that includes natural resources. Subjects such as the effects of fire on soils or water quality; vegetation response to various fire intensities, (some would find this useful in managing prescribed fire). etc.

Anyhow......I would suggest it to be prudent to gain some upper level credits in natural resource courses offering this information, if such is not already a part of your "fire science" major. Education will never hurt you, and why take the chance on falling a couple credits short?

Future managers and leaders will (as in the past) be selected from those who do not constrain themselves.
Good luck, and hopefully welcome to the family of fire managers.

Old Fire Guy
10/29 Congrats.

To the Sierra NF and the Mendo NF for another safe fire season.

And to the rest of the forests that go out of service this weekend.

3150 Firefighter
10/29 Abs
The two year old FSEEE law suit has come to fruition. I'm in agreement that retardant use deserves more scrutiny than it's received in the past, but not enthusiastic about working fires without retardant use as an option. I'm interested in thoughts and comments from other They Said folks about the impacts that this decision will have on wildland fire management.

www.casperstartribune.net

SITL
10/29 PDF file on the court findings for the case involving use of retardant on wildfire

Jim R

If anyone wants this, email me and I'll send it. Ab.

10/28 Re: IFPM (Good) and the 0401 series requirements (Bad)…. and the quest for a proper classification series for federal wildland firefighters.

I have some questions I haven’t been able to get any answers to so I thought I’d throw them out to everyone for comments and suggestions. My comments are all concerning the revised (07/2005) document titled “SUPPLEMENTAL QUALIFICATION STANDARD FOR THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOREST SERVICE AND THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR - GS-0401 FIRE MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST”. Sorry for the caps… cut and pasted it. It can be found at: www.ifpm.nifc.gov/documents/GS-0401Supplementa...etc...July_2005.pdf (pdf file).

First, before my question, I have an observation. The initial standard was very narrow to include education that was obtained only in natural resources, forestry, agriculture, range management, or wildland fire science. Somebody, somewhere realized it was necessary to expand the definitions and an updated standard was born.

The new standard, seen below, seems to have broadened the definition of relevant education quite a bit. I was very happy to see fire management/fire science added to the list…. But here comes the problem.

The way I read the standard is that people with a four year degree in fire science/fire management now qualify for the 0401 series. Is this information and this updated standard being shared?

Am I interpreting the standard wrong? I keep getting told that my degree path in Fire Science, with a planned minor in another highly relevant area, is inappropriate for someone who is currently in or planning to be a “fire management specialist”.

Sign me … Student of Fire Science

> From the pdf file:

Policy Interpretation of the Supplemental Qualification Standard for the GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist This is to be used in conjunction with the GS-0401 Fire Management Specialist Standard.

Basic Requirements:
A. Education: Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s or higher degree in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, or related discipline appropriate to the position being filled. The following majors are creditable:
1. Disciplines identified in the 400 Professional and Scientific Series Standard for General Biological Science/Natural Sciences:

Agriculture - Agricultural Extension - Agronomy - Animal Science - Biochemistry - Biological Sciences (General) - Biometrics (includes Applied Forestry*) – Botany Ecology – Entomology - Fishery Biology (includes marine/aquatic) Forestry -General Fish & Wildlife - Administration Genetics – Horticulture - Microbiology - Natural Resources - Management Pharmacology - Physiology - Plant Pathology
Plant Physiology - Plant Protection & Quarantine - Rangeland Management - Soil Conservation - Soil Science – Toxicology = Wildlife - Biology Wildlife Refuge Management - Zoology

2. Natural Resource related disciplines as determined by Fire Management subject matter experts to meet the Natural Science Group GS-400

Chemistry - Earth Sciences - Environmental Sciences** - Geology – Hydrology –Meteorology - Outdoor Recreation*** - Physical Geography* - Physics - Watershed Management - Fire Management/Fire Science

10/28 Here's the start of the Bird Flu Watchout page.

Send in any questions. I'll answer or research it. I'm pretty busy today but I'll be back at that tomorrow.

Thanks for your input Ab.

Mellie

10/28 If you think avian flu is not important to be prepared for.....

Go to:

http://thomas.loc.gov and enter the search phrase "avian flu" ... you will be surprised with the results.

There are 45 bill actions so far in Congress to address this threat.

Sign me.. Is "Choking Chickens" (West Nile Virus, USDA APHIS Response by wildland firefighters) safe anymore? We were told that Cerro Grande was safe also. Untold dangers and undiscovered truths of being a wildland firefighter?

ROGUE RIVERS
10/28 Here's the official talking points on the bird flu:

Avian Flu / Pandemic Influenza
Key Messages

No one really knows when or if the avian flu will become a pandemic.
• Pandemic diseases have occurred periodically throughout human history.
• We can study the past for lessons learned on how to prevent or respond to a pandemic.
• We have the advantage of being able to plan for a possible avian flu pandemic.

In the years since past pandemics, public health officials have greatly improved our ability to detect and control infectious diseases.
• We have become more vigilant in our surveillance.
• We will recognize a new strain more quickly when it emerges.
• We will be able to take precautions to reduce the impact of a new influenza virus strain.

Public health officials worldwide have been preparing for a pandemic flu for several years.
• LPHAs will utilize many of the same responses they use on a daily basis to control the spread of disease.
• The focus on planning for bioterrorism attacks has strengthened LPHAs’ response plans for all public health emergencies.
• LPHAs’ local plans will be strengthened with guidance and support from state and federal levels.

No one knows for sure how serious or deadly a worldwide avian flu outbreak would be.
• Scientists and government believe it could pose a serious threat to public health.
• Some estimates place the number of deaths as high as 360 million people.
• Avian flu should be taken seriously and planned for.

The general public can take steps today to prepare themselves and their families for an avian flu pandemic.
• Become more diligent about good hygiene.
o Hand washing
o Respiratory etiquette
o Avoid touching your face
• Improve your overall health.
o Quit smoking
o Improve eating habits
o Exercise more
o Get immunizations
• Listen for information.

The CDC has a robust system for national influenza surveillance.
• Collaborating laboratories of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) report the number, types, and subtypes of influenza viruses detected.
• Approximately 2,250 sentinel health-care providers report patient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI), and approximately 500 of these providers continue regular reporting throughout the summer. (Missouri DHSS has approximately 30 sentinel sites.)
• 122 U.S. cities report weekly mortality attributed to influenza and pneumonia.
• A national surveillance system records pediatric deaths associated with laboratory-confirmed influenza.

Health experts expect the next pandemic to be caused by a new subtype of influenza A.
• The new subtype will most likely emerge in the Far East due to the mingling of human and animal influenza viruses there.
• Vaccine for the novel influenza virus causing the pandemic is not expected to be generally available in Missouri before the virus reaches the state.
• Initial distribution of vaccine to Missouri will be extremely limited and must be prioritized to maximize effectiveness.

An outbreak of avian flu (H5N1) has been reported in several countries throughout Asia, and recently in Europe.
• Human infections have been reported in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.
• Humans have been infected by close contact with their domestic fowl.
• Rare instances of limited human-to-human transmission of avian flu have occurred.

Rare instances of limited human-to-human transmission of avian flu have occurred.
• These cases have occurred in association with outbreaks in poultry and should not be cause for alarm.
• In no instance has the virus spread beyond a first generation of close contacts or caused illness in the general community.
• To date, human infections with avian influenza A viruses detected since 1997 have not resulted in sustained human-to-human transmission.

10/28 Re: Walking fine lines between panic, preparedness, and action. S. 1821 and HR 4068.... The Pandemic Response and Preparedness Act to protect all of us.

> From a Ted Koppel audio broadcast that Mellie linked to.

(excerpts) "A nation unprepared… We are all gonna die… Who do you like?... The yankies or the red sox… Sensibly tuned between panic and indifference…. The national mood needs to be calibrated that is somewhere between indifference and panic. 5 % of the world population would die."

This is important legislation just as are many pieces of legislation that come before the Congress.... some have immediate needs and some have preparedness needs....

Thanks for the links Mellie... it is always good to be prepared for a potential looming catastrophe. Avian flu is something that at least a few upper level managers of federal land management agencies have been discussing seriously and starting the preparations for... ie - a "camp crud".... except this time it could be a potential fatal camp crud. An unseen or or recognized hazard to the wildland fire community that has national significance.

Gizmo

10/28 Thoughts on Cedar, Firing and Learning
This was not as easy to write as I initially thought but here goes.

I was about 1.5 air miles from the scenic where Steve Rucker died, and had a good view of the smoke column as it burned in that area. Now for my level of participation and my role at the time, I could have been 1000 miles away, sounds weird but thats the way it was. Now, I was able to review the fatality site several days later, still had the markings of the investigation, so not too much guess work involved. I know which way the wind was blowing that day. I was initially baffled, by the situation, entered into a long conversation with a respected colleague that visited the site on a separate visit about how/why the fire burned the way it did. Neither of us had knowledge of the independent firing operation. Between the two of us we developed a plausible theory, but one typically associated with plume dominated fire behavior, which was not the case that day. It all became very clear after the report described the independent firing operation, that why the fire burned the way it did. And subsequently surprised the firefighters.

All that said, it is a communication issue, no communication with the adjoining resources, never an acceptable situation. Very simple and not even an argumentable point. Most bad outcomes that we have experienced in my career are associated with communications issues. We need to ask ourselves why, my answer is the lack of clear thinking and poor decision making.

As Paul McCartneys, recent lyrics go..."its a fine line between recklessness and courage".. Think about it.

Into the Wind.
10/28 Retool of FEMA
www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1005/102105c1.php

Also, I got this message from a friend; seemed applicable to the topic of expectations in emergencies.

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

Fema who?

This Weather Bulletin came from the Emergency Manager of Eddy County in North Dakota concerning the winter storms that hit North Dakota on the 4th and 5th of October 2005. I thought it was a little funny. Maybe because it has a lot of truth in its description.

WEATHER BULLETIN

Up here in the Northern Plains we just recovered from a Historic --- may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions" with a historic blizzard of up to 24 inches of snow and winds up to 50 MPH that broke trees in half, stranded hundreds of motorist in lethal snow banks, closed all roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands.

George Bush did not come .... FEMA staged nothing ..... no one howled for the government ..... no one even uttered an expletive on TV ..... nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards .... no one asked for a FEMA trailer house ..... no news anchors moved in.

We just melted snow for water, sent out caravans to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars, fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Aladdin lamps and put on an extra layer of clothes.

Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early ... we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.

Everybody is fine.

10/27 Hi AB and ALL,

When I got into work this morning, I found this message in my government
email:

FEMA is in need of laborer type workers (male or female and doesn't have to
be in the maintenance series), someone willing to do debris removal.
Employees need supervisor's approval. This will be a 30 day assignment.
Need a government charge card. Base 8 is not covered unless the employee is
laid off or on project money, overtime and travel will be paid. We will be
getting a group to mobilize within two weeks. If you are interested please
call or email SHEN EICC. Two groups and a squad have already been
mobilized. Employees could be heading to TX, MS or LA. Tetanus shots are
required.

Thanks
Karen Gochenour
SHEN EICC

Ab added the underlines. Basically your home Agency will be paying.

10/27 R3firetaz:

Thanks for sharing the bad news regarding Bob Woyewodzic to the greater
wildland fire community.

Bob was well known throughout the Southwest (and beyond) as an excellent
freelance Division Supervisor and Safety Officer. We will will always remember
Bob's smiling face and positive attitude. He was always a great guy to be
working with.

To Bob's family, our deepest condolences.

Godspeed, Bob.

NMAirBear
10/27 Help!

Does anyone know where a Guy with a type 6 engine can go
to get auto and liability insurance?

Ex-shot goin’ private
10/27 <chuckle>

Nerd, so your nerd-ishness is limited?

<sly smile> Just trolling a little and knowing you wouldn't be offended.
(Actually, I have given some thought to a meteorite too, but I don't think
Congress would fund the "getting ready" process.)

I have found it interesting in the aftermath of Wilma that some people are
surprised and angry that they aren't being rescued by FEMA or *someone*
as fast as they expect to be...

Mellie

10/27 VfdCapt and Bob Rucker;

Bravo to both of you; to Bob Rucker, my deepest sympathies, both for your loss and for your fight to start a discussion that some apparently don't want to see come out in open. During the discussion of the Cramer fire fatalities, an extended conversation took place over the degree of personal responsibility an IC should take. I don't want to open an old can of worms here, but I see this discussion as coming back in somewhat the same direction. At what point to fireline decisions become indefensible? There's a spectrum from perfect safety through reasonable risk to reckless disregard and beyond. That's what our training and SOPs are for...to define what a reasonable person with the same training, the same information, and the same resources would/should do in a given situation. Now, before anybody jumps down my throat, I realize that the command situation, and the command decision processes, are very complex. At the same time, where that reasonable man standard is violated, questions need to be asked. Bob, I believe you are asking them. As far as backfiring ceasing to be a viable tool, I don't see that happening; as far as maybe reconsidering how resources on an incident should be informed of and respond to backfiring, maybe that needs to get looked at.

Butterfly;

I've got a good bit of experience with writing grants for FEMA and DHS money, and there is definitely money out there; there are also grants available via BLM and the USFS. The problem is that in order to get money, you have to know exactly what you're asking for, and what effect it will have on your response capability. I've found that's the hardest hurdle to cross with a VFD. I think it was one of the French philosophers (or it might have been Marx) who said "The people will never fight for freedoms they have never known". How do you persuade people to write grants for tools they've never had and training they've never heard of instead of tools they've used over and over again, like bunker gear and structure trucks?

Mellie;

Why on earth would you think of me in conjunction with a two-hour virology lecture? Is this the point when I confess that my first response was "Oh, cool!"? Any research you might do and pass on to the collective would be greatly appreciated. All-risk is getting broader, isn't it? I figure the way things are going, somebody on the site will be responding to a meteorite impact before too long.

Nerd on the Fireline

10/27 We're pleased to welcome the addition of KB Emblem Company as a new advertiser and sponsor. The company was recommended in a recent thread here regarding the quality of their embroidered patches. They provide a variety of custom embroidered products as well as lapel pins and challenge coins and are a licensed Smokey Bear company. Their website and extensive line of products is available at www.kbemblem.com

Ab.

10/27 Mellie,

Please do the research.

R5vol
10/27 Ab,

I appreciate the Rucker family's continued involvement in pushing for firefighter safety. What I particularly applaud is that they are lending the moral voice of Steven's memory to a needed discussion of firing operations.

In effect, a widow is encouraging us to focus not only on the single fatality and her personal loss, but also the multiple near-misses of that day.

"On the actual day of battle naked truths may be picked up for the asking; by the following morning they have already begun to get into their uniforms." - Sir Ian Hamilton, 1907

vfd cap'n
10/26 The coming Avian Influenza Pandemic.
For those who want more info, check the following multimedia links:

An audio version of the Nightline program (9/30/0, ABC) worth listening to.
Nightline Program on Pandemic Flu (mp3 audio): About 35-40 min. Ted Koppel interviews Senator Frist (who's a physician), Senator Reed, Michael Osterholm (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) and others. Excellent introduction.

Audio & Photomontage on the Next Killer Flu (relatively short piece) from the October 2005 issue of the National Geographic

PBS Wideangle: Avian Influenza (Sep 2005), including an interactive map, photo essay, filmmaker’s notes and an online trailer. (It's gotten much more complicated than the PBS story in the last month... Bird Migration Routes and October Bird Pandemic Map).

For Nerd on the Fireline and others who might like to sit through an hour-long lecture on the biology, virology, sociology of the H5N1 virus and the beginnings of the emerging pandemic in Southeast Asia. It's 2 hrs. The first hour by Dr. Suarez (SE Poultry Research Station, US Dept of Agriculture) is excellent science info.
Pandemic Influenza - Alabama Public Health Training Network, 2004. (Uses Realplayer.)

I have more audio-visual links and links to websites where you can read up, ask questions and get answers. I have suggestions for how we can prepare for our families. I'm willing to do the research. Just say the word and I will share. Preparation is what it's all about. Timing may be everything. We will have the equivalent of Katrinas and Wilmas in many cities and communities around the US and the world one day soon. That will not be the time to ask each other what we should do. We should and can be ready.

Mellie -
Old Chinese blessing: "May you live in interesting times."

We can make another page if need be. Ab.

10/26 Howdy all -

Thought I'd throw in a thought or two before I am off-line for a month or two...

To Ncbrush6: My sympathies and good luck to you as you try to get folks at the VFD to understand wildland fire. I have done some RX fire in the NC area and there is a bunch of urban interface all over the place and lots of potential. Plus, some serious fuel build-up and very volatile fuels in the southern rough areas. In talking to some rural FDs in the midwest, they pointed out to me that while all of their training was for structural fires, about 95-97% of their calls were for "brush fires". They were concerned about safety but didn't know where to go for resources.

On that note, one spot might be grant programs through DHS or FEMA, but also the federal land management agencies have some rural fire assistance grant programs that may be helpful for training and education for the fire department folks. I am not sure how any of this works but I bet somebody on this board could point you in the right direction if you wanted more info.

To the long-underwear discussion (sorry to bring it back up!): my personal testimony is that long underwear (like a silk/cotton blend I used) can be a big help in RX fire in spring/fall because a) it's cold in the morning at briefing time, b) it's hot during burning and the extra layer is a good extra heat shield during ignition in grass, c) it's cold at night during mop-up.

For my money and everybody's safety, for goodness sake, there are reasons for wearing cotton and not synthetics, especially next to your skin. Little kids' hallowe'en costumes are very different from wildland firefighters' costumes... ignitability is very different from flash point and melting point. From what I remember in training, it takes 11 seconds for nomex to ignite. I am guessing for cotton it's a bit less, but the horror storrors I have heard in training about synthetics are just awful. I don't know that I've heard of any injuries caused by burns FROM cotton like I have from synthetic materials. Not that I am a safety expert... just concerned about safety.

Okey dokey, I'm out for a while. Take care y'all and be safe-

-butterfly
10/26 I have followed this site ever since the Cedar Fire tragedy and bit my tongue from time to time at some of the comments that have flown back and forth concerning causes etc. Today, I feel compelled to comment on the most recent posts by "CDF Captain".

It astounds me as to the efforts that are made to defend the indefensible actions of the CDF FC on Orchard Lane. I look at the postings on this site and it seems that those that want to rationalize the approach that nothing is broke, therefore we don't need to change outnumber saner views like those expressed by "Lobotomy".

"CDF Captain" throws out accusations of motivation for the purposes of a lawsuit. I find these comments entirely offensive and so far from the truth that they barely warrant the dignity of a response. Could the motivation be something as simple as learning from a tragedy and implementing changes to do everything possible to prevent a future occurrence?

As a Californian, I have tremendous respect for all firefighters. I know that Steve Rucker was proud of his 2 seasons that he served with CDF where his first wildland fire was the Lexington Reservoir fire in 1985. It is a shame that CDF members are viewing this as an attack on their organization. I think the challenge to the organization is to learn from this event and implement positive changes to reduce risks to all firefighters.

Whenever an airplane crashes, investigators determine the causes that resulted in the event. These investigations result in binding procedural changes to minimize the chance for a recurrence. This seems like a rational approach and I think anyone who travels by air expects and values this approach. Could you imagine the outcry if the airlines tried to defend against making any changes the way we are seeing with some of the postings on this site?

I realize that firing is a necessary tool for wildland firefighting. At the same time, this tool caries risks and I have a tough time comprehending why so many are opposed to any types of safety standards. God forbid that the lessons of the Cedar Fire are ignored and a similar event occurs again. It was a miracle that all 4 of the Novato firefighters were not lost that day.

I would also challenge everyone to really look at the reports objectively. The Niosh report clearly states that Asthma was not a factor. If "CDF Captain" were to objectively read this report he would understand that. Steve was incapacitated by carbon monoxide for causes outlined in the Niosh report - none that had anything to do with Asthma.

The comments that the Novato truck has safety issues that prevented it from being used as a shelter also show that the report was not comprehended properly. Novato saw that the stock brake lines had almost melted through so they decided to retrofit all engines with braided stainless steel lines. I hardly think that had any impact of the engine being used as a refuge.

It is easy to look back with the clarity of hindsight and say what should have been done differently that day. Everyone can now speculate that the engine might have provided safe refuge but I can understand why the Novato crew elected not to do so with flames cutting off the escape route to the front of the engine. Whether or not this was a position that should have been defended is also a matter of speculation. I think that debate concerning the topography, weather conditions and any other factors are something that everyone should apply to how they might approach a similar situation in the future.

One thing that is not open to debate is whether the firing operations that occurred that day were done in a proper manner. A rouge FC engaged in these firing activities with no authorization from the IC and no communication to the firefighters in the area. This is fact and stated as such in the CDF report. The CDF report dances around the issue as what impact the firing operation had on the Novato crew. I was at the site shortly after the event and it's a toss up as to whether it was the backfire or main fire that reached the fatality site first. It was very clear that the 2 separate fires merged together. In any event, the CDF report does go so far as to estimate that the firing operation resulted in the Novato crew losing at least 90 seconds of response time.

Given these facts, I find it odd that anyone is opposed to having standards to insure that firing operations are conducted in a safe manner. I do not think anyone disputes the importance of this tool but it's a tool that needs to be used properly to insure lives are not jeopardized in the process.

As we approach the 2-year anniversary of Steve Rucker's death, I would ask that everyone look objectively at this event. Steve would want everyone to learn from this so that nobody else suffers a similar fate.

Bob Rucker (Steve Rucker's brother)

10/26 To Green Gestapo:

Folks interested in courses is different then folks needing courses to move
up in the organization. CPS not required for any level of qualification
but nice to have. GEO Air Ops is a level 3 Course not needed for
advancement again not needed. For the others you discuss have yet to fill
up a course of interested candidates for either S244/S245 or S390 which,
by the way, has been increased to 32 Hours by NWCG.

For years the training centers have been struggling to provide training,
however we see the needs and determine course needs on requests.
GUESS what, 60 students interested in a course equals one course filled
with 30 students. So if Rusty has a solution to this I certainly would like to
see it. Remember the Region only funds NCTC and WFTC, the others
need to pay for themselves.

Seldom Seen.
10/26 Dear Ms. Rucker,

Re-read the reports, and try to explain why you keep pointing the fingers at CDF.? Why, may I ask? Is a lawsuit in the near future? Are you suing Novato Fire as well for putting him in such a dangerous position?

What about his supervisor? or the strike team leader? were they not at fault in putting him a place that everyone else said was not defendable?

You keep pointing fingers at CDF, and not at Novato? Are you trying to get NIOSH, and everyone else to buy into your personal agenda so you can turn around and sue? From the outside looking in, it sure seems so.

I'm just going to say this, if you arent equipped or trained for a particular emergency, whether its a trench rescue, a structure fire, or a swiftwater rescue, or a wildfire, then the appropriate thing to do is sit back and wait for someone who knows what to do.

If CDF is responsible for your husband's death, then why did 3 others survive? What actions did they take that your husband didn't? Why didn't he follow? The engine was driven away with little more than some melted reflectors and paint blisters.

You previously mentioned that a nylon bag inside the cab melted? I'm going to guess that it was up by a window and melted from radiant heat? Were any seats or floor mats consumed by fire? If the answer is NO, than the nylon bag you mentioned did receive some high RADIANT heat, but a fire shelter would have easily reflected that. That engine was a safe refuge, and everyone would have survived. Interesting enough, the Novato report identified problems with its engines that may have hindered it being used as a safe refuge...... are you going to sue Novato?

The asthma factor sure seems to play a big factor, but its almost as if you don't want to admit it. Does Novato retro-actively have a policy about asthma now?

My opinion aside, it sure seems like you are trying to completely remove "firing" as a tool from the wildland firefighter.

Sign up for a S-234 firing class this next spring. Then you'll have an understanding and an appreciation of the complexities of firing as a tool. It is a necessary tool, that I think you are trying to abolish.

I can understand you are suffering a loss, but it seems to me that you are now on the offensive, and I will not sit idle while you attack so much with so little justification.

Sign me: CDF Captain (no......not THAT one......)
10/26 Re Cathy Rucker's post:

With all due respect to this wonderful women, while her husband was involved in a terrible accident, it in no way even is comparable to the causal factors she cites in Tuolumne Fire. Both tragedies are so different, to connect them both simply as the result of a “backfire” is incorrect. Mrs Rucker, I feel for you and you have every right to be very angry at the department and individuals involved, but please do no tie the hands of thousands of other firefighters with another “safety mandate” before engaging in a tactic. Much of what we do on the fireline is a combination of timing, science, experience, and art. Don’t take that away.

In reading the report on the Cedar and talking to those there afterward, it is fairly straight forward some of the omissions and acts that occurred. Some you cite, some you do not.

My thoughts are with you and I’m sorry for your loss.

“Another CDF BC”

10/26 Cedar Fire Fatality: Who is to blame...

Any Captain that would put his engine at the top of a chimney, fail to notice that the main fire had arrived at his location from the predicted direction, fail to notice that a firing operation (with helicopter drops and burning for 35 minutes) had occurred only a few hundred feet away and ordered his crew to abandon the safest place to ride out the passing fire front probably should face some kind of adverse action.

Then of course there is his Strike Team Leader that did know about the firing operations and didn’t tell anybody. Or possibly the Division Supervisor that bought off on “some of the CDF FC’s ideas” and apparently authorized firing operations outside the direct line construction he ordered, then leaves the only uncontained portion of his division and heads into Julian.

Of course on the CDF side we have a guy that pretended to have authority on a fire he wasn’t even assigned to and starts a completely uncoordinated firing operation in the middle of a bunch of houses and people.

Am I saying any of this mitigates the CDF FC’s guilt? No, of course not and he should be punished if for no other reason than to discourage others in the future. But he should be accused of and punished for what he did wrong, a rogue firing operation.

CDF said he didn’t kill anyone. The Novato presentation opens by stating that CDF employees did not cause the death. The closest thing they make to any accusation is to say the Rucker might have been disoriented by breathing super heated gases from the firing operation, and they don’t offer any proof of that.

There was a lot of bad judgment that absolutely contributed to the eventual outcome on Orchard Ln. that day.

Fire Away...

10/26 Hello,

This subject may have been discussed before, but I was unable to find any
mention of it. I have been told by several people that the mountaineering
type boots made by La Sportiva, specifically the "Glacier" and "Makalu"
models, are Forest Service approved for fire fighting. I would like to
begin using these boots, but as an FS employee I am sure that I would be
questioned about them. Can anyone provide me with a link to a document or
a reference showing that these boots are indeed approved? I would
appreciate it very much!

KS
10/26 Copter 100,

I was not offended by what you said and if you re-read what I had directed at you you would have realized that. I was one of the "newbies" that was stonewalled by the older Chief Officers. I was told for 2 years that they would let me know when the training was, but never did. I finally called another fire depts chief and was given a day and time.

As for my being pregnant on the fire, well I had two choices, go to the fire and help extinguished it or wait til it burned to my door step, literally. Which would you choose?

Sorry if I surprised you Terri, but after awhile you get tired of feeling like you are just one of the "guys". I've ended up at some training and meetings as the only woman. I just get over it and learn what I am there to learn.

Cris
10/26 Hey all

yes our vfd does have a few high school folks on it. they are the day time crew for the most. and now we are setting up s.130 190...so far we have 8 folks going to the class. the local rescue unit is also putting some of their folks in the class. thank god i kept pushing. and yes i am a contractor with a type 5 engine here in n.c.

ncbrush6
10/25 Tuolumne Fire -- Questions and a comment::

1) Do any of us want Cal OSHA writing policy about when and where to backfire? If you do, do you think they should dictate when law enforcement pulls their guns? Who should set the guidelines?

2) If you’re the IC on a thousand acre fire that is moving out do you want to be notified that a trained resource is about to burnout a 100’ piece of line?

There are things that need to be changed and made better and I hope that the lessons we needed to be learned are not lost.

A couple of items on the Tuolumne Fire: People who are not familiar with the local operation have tried to build in an agency tension factor between the STF and the CDF resources that did not exist. The IC and Copter 404 worked together on a regular basis for many years. Initial attacks across the agency boundaries are very common. On the fire ground TCU and STF are a team.

The firing was not a factor; the main fire hooked underneath them. The lessons lie elsewhere.

When the IC came across the crew, they were still hiking to the scene (they were near the campground) and thus had not yet requested a tactical assignment. This is not unusual since they (the crew) are technically not on the scene. The crew was monitoring the FS tactical net and anchored there line on the road before they started over. Their first calls for help were on the tactical net.

CDF BC
10/25 The training calendars are out once again, and once again I can not obtain the training to achieve the next ICS position. The Q man said that an employee should be able to make captain in about 5 years, ya right!! You have to have the training, but year after year there aren't enough slots per forest to give the employees the training they want or need. Here's an example:

CPS-Campbell Prediction System = 10 slots for 53 interested
GIAO-Geographic Intermediate Air OP = 8 slots for 38 interested
S244/45-Field Observer/Display Processor = 9 slots for 38 interested
S390-Intro to Wildland Fire Behavior Cal = 10 slots for 43 interested

I'm sure the story is the same all over the region, so why not more classes? With the examples I gave it appears that there is still a class room size of people waiting to take these classes, and at this rate it looks like it could take another 3 years to get the employees at the bottom of the current list through these classes, if they stay around that long!

Green Gestapo

Try giving Rusty a call. If he's not off dancing with Wilma he might be working with Gary. There's a design plan afoot to determine what's offered based on who-needs-what to progress in their quals so we have the right number of people moving on up to fill the positions on the forests. "Sizing the pipe to carry the flow required to meet the needs of the forests." Pretty sweet from what I've seen. Ab.

10/25 Hi all-

I'm looking to see if anyone know of a template for prototype
documentation. We are running an IT related prototype and I am trying to
work on the documentation and test plan but I wanted to check with the fire
community if there is some standard that you all like out there.

I want it to be readable, repeatable, and professional.

Thanks
BLMgirl
10/25 yo Ab,

the post by Lobotomy on 10-22 re. tragedy fires, should be framed and placed next to the light switch on all station meeting rooms (green, red, yellow...) right about eye level. Rookies would have to read it daily, old farts could drop back to twice a week in the off season. We need to make Campbell's book required reading in 290 and again in any class on interface tactics. Burn "the message" in until it becomes second nature, maybe then we can stop making the same mistakes with similar outcomes. I seem to recall firing "basics and protocol" being repeated endlessly the first week of crew orientation back to at least the '73-'75 era, though lately I've run into strike team leaders who are a little vague on the concept. Maybe we could just drop back a little harder on basics (keep the ics in basics?) by next season... Stay safe out there

-heard on a (tongue in cheek) country song- "Jose Cuervo made me love you, Prozac made me stay..."

willy
10/25 Cris:

I don't believe I intended to point a finger nor did I believe that the "gender card" was ever played.
If you choose to fight fire while you are pregnant, then it is my belief that that is a personal choice
and NOT a professional one.
Nobody at this end said, or inferred that volunteers weren't doing their job locally.
Please re-read the earlier post and you will see that I was voicing facts that are very obvious to
anybody who cares to look.
If you were offended by the post, then that is unfortunate.

COPTER100
10/25 Ab,

It's interesting how easy comments on the internet can be misinterpreted. I wouldnt
have realized cris was female if she hadn't said pregnant. I had assumed "guy"...

She apparently took something askew that ncbrush6 or copter100 said. As a friend
says... this internet communication, funny stuff. I think there was misinterpretation??

Tahoe Terrie

Read the post above. Ab.

10/25 From Cathy Rucker:

So that you will have a more complete idea, these points are the ones I mentioned at the CA Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board meeting on October 20, 2005:

First of all, I held up Steve's photo and told the Board members that he had dedicated his life to public safety. I said that, as an EMT student at Santa Rosa JC, I was beginning to understand that perspective.

I quoted from their "Division Evaluation" of my petition where it is stated that "it would be a considerable challenge to develop specific, mandatory standards for firing out operations that would assure optimal safety in all situations, without impairing the flexibility to respond to sudden, dramatic, unanticipated changes in fire behavior". I then mentioned the 9 suggested safety standards in the NIOSH report. I asked the Board if they would like for me to read them to them. Several of them nodded their heads, and so I read all nine of them aloud. Here is the link to the NIOSH report: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/face200336.phpl

Next I quoted the part of their evaluation that stated "several organizations such as the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) and the International Fire Service Training Association have developed safe practices for firing out operations. Although not carrying the same legal mandate as California Title 8 standards, such standards are readily recognized and implemented throughout the fire service profession." I held up a copy of the NWCG Fireline Handbook. I turned to page 48 of Chapter 5, Firefighting Safety. There is a small section on Firing Equipment. I told the Board that the sections talks about fueling your equipment, making sure that you are grounded, and I quoted that it says "maintain constant radio communications between the firing operations and other appropriate fireline personnel". Then I held up the Fireline Handbook and said, "This is a reference, these are not safety standards." I mentioned that IFSTA is in Oklahoma and that they write textbooks on every aspect of firefighting - but they do not write safety standards. I said that NFPA writes safety standards. (CDF - who helped the Board write their evaluation - should have known not to give me a load of $%&*@ like that. They obviously did not give me much credit at all.)

I reiterated that their evaluation concluded that this was a "training issue". At first I blurted out that "I do not agree". But then I caught myself. I then said that it is a training issue. I mentioned that one of the firefighters involved had 25 years of experience. Then I went on to talk about the lack of water supply and not being in radio communication. Then I thought to myself, "You're missing one and it's very important." And then it came to me. I also said that their firing operation was not authorized by the incident commander.

In closing I said something like, "You may think that this was a terrible accident and that it will not be repeated." And then I said, "Well, it already has. Eva Schicke lost her life in August 2004 and she was also involved in a backfiring accident."

10/25 Dear Abs,

I am saddened to report that we have lost a long time friend and comrade on the fireline - Robert 'Bob' Woyewodzic. Bob was involved in fatal car accident on the way home from work. A report indicates that he had taken actions to avoid a head on but the other driver did not.

Funeral Mass for longtime area resident Bob was held at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21, at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church. Father Derrek D. Scott officiated.

Bob was born Dec. 29, 1948, in Denison, Texas, the son of Edwin Josef and Marie Louise (Bruno) Woyewodzic. He passed away Oct. 17, 2005, near Sweetwater, N.M. at the age of 56.

A dedicated and devoted family man, Bob held a deep love for his family, the outdoors and was especially close to his pride and joy, granddaughter, Samantha, loving her beyond belief.

Bob spent 28 years in range management, wildlife biology, and wildland firefighting with the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service.

Bob was one my heroes on the fireline and one of my long-time friends. He was man that knew when, where, and how.

He was awarded Wildlife Biologist of the Year for the state of Utah. Bob was a member of Range Management Society and was active in St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church. Serving his community for numerous years, Bob was a volunteer fireman with the Cortez Volunteer Fire Department. In his free time he enjoyed practicing Shotokan Karate, hunting, fishing and teaching his family about the outdoors.

Surviving Bob are his wife of 36 years, JoAnn Woyewodzic of Lewis; his children, Christopher Woyewodzic of San Diego, Calif., Robin Duran and husband, Mark, of Cortez, Kelly Woyewodzic of San Francisco, Calif., and Steven Azar of San Francisco, Calif.; granddaughters, Samantha Woyewodzic-Duran of Cortez and Jessica Duran of Wichita, Kansas and grandson, Derique Duran of Cortez; his brother, Edwin J. Woyewodzic Jr.; and mother-in-law Ladora Pearson of Pottsboro, Tex.

Bob will be missed. Contributions may be made to the Cortez Volunteer Fire Department, Robert Woyewodzic Memorial Fund, C/O Dolores State Bank, 101 S. Sixth, Dolores, CO 81323

Sterling
R3firetaz
BLM-Washington DC

Condolences. Ab.

10/24 From Firescribe:

Scientific American article: Preparing for a Pandemic

Self sufficiency...

10/24 Congrats on your retirement plans Alice Forbes. I heard it would be December.
WhooooHooooo! Thanks for your service, and enjoy your retirement!

Mellie

10/24 Just to let everyone know that Reggie Huston, Forest FMO on the
Mt. Hood N.F. has announced that she is retiring in December.

Good and Rich Nathan
10/24 After several years of using your website and keeping
up with 'They Said' I felt compelled to write and
thank you for all you do. I recently resigned from my
lead forestry technician position to face the 'real
world'. After all the b*** s*** for 11 years with
several different agencies, I've come to the
conclusion that it was time to get out while I was
ahead. Remember to question authority often and look
out for those you care about.

Sincerely,
Recently Resigned
10/24 re: vfd training

Here's a quote from Benjamin Franklin, written in 1735 :

"As to our Conduct in the Affair of Extinguishing Fires, tho' we do not want Hands or Good-will, yet we seem to want Order and Method...."

It's taken from the "letter to the editor" he wrote to the Philadelphia Gazette (he actually was the editor) trying to encourage the townsfolk to do things like he had seen in Boston. Franklin would surely sympathize with the transplants from Region 5, trying to explain to those who think "it can't happen here" :

"And it has pleased God, that in the Fires we have hitherto had, all the bad Circumstances have never happened together, such as dry Season, high Wind, narrow Street, and little or low Water: which perhaps tends to make us secure in our own Minds; but if a Fire with those Circumstances, which God forbid, should happen, we should afterwards be careful enough."

In this same letter Franklin coined the phrase "an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure." Yes, that quotable quote was originally meant to reference fire prevention, not medicine.

We've added the full text of Franklin's letter to a new section to the Colorado Firecamp website, Fire Origins. http://www.coloradofirecamp.com/fire-origins/index.php

We also have included a short piece about how the U.S. Army avoided the "disposition not to publish" a full and open history of World War II. We see relevance to the release of quality reports by CDF for the Cedar and Tuolumne Fires, and USFS on the Thirtymile Fire. We wish the same could be said of the Cramer Fire.

Speaking of Thirtymile, many people probably missed Jerry Williams' article from the Summer 2002 issue of Fire Management Today. The article doesn't propose another checklist, but Williams does want us to learn from our tragedy fires.

As Franklin wrote 270 years ago:

"These Officers, with the Men belonging to the Engine, at their Quarterly Meetings, discourse of Fires, of the Faults committed at some, the good Management in some Cases at others, and thus communicating their Thoughts and Experience they grow wise in the Thing, and know how to command and to execute in the best manner upon every Emergency."

Although readers may disagree about how to get there (red cards, pack tests, etc.), we all want the same outcome envisioned by the Original Ben (no offense meant to O. Ab.)

vfd cap'n
10/24 Ab,

Just wanted to get the word out that CDF Battalion Chief Mike Boren is retiring.
His retirement party is Sunday, November 6th, 2005, in Oakhurst, California 93601.

For questions or further information, contact Rancheria Forest Fire Station, or
Coarsegold Forest Fire Station in the Madera Mariposa Merced Unit.

E

10/24 Regarding the discussion of redcarding and VFDs...just
about everybody who has contributed to the discussion
so far is citing the average age (35 or 45) of
vollies, and the lack of time they have to dedicate to
training (classroom and physical). So how do small
town and rural VFDs recruit the young, the fit, and
the motivated? What works? What doesn't? I've heard
of VFDs recruiting from high schools and offering
training as high school level vocational training.
Does anybody have experience with this system?

Nerd on the Fireline

10/24 Well since no one was on the chat line, heres my response to ncbrush6. I don't need to chill, because I am too busy right now getting training set up for my guys. Be thankful that you have such young and new members in your area, we are losing ours each year. For your general info, I have been a member for 10 years and have been the Head of our company for 4 years and the ONLY woman to hold that office. You talk pretty well, but when you are on a fire and pregnant we can really talk then.

To copter100 luckily I am one of the "new" bloods and changed alot of no training, no equipment, and no response to fires. Pagers really helped. First item purchased. Yes I do "nag" my guys about keeping up on the training, but I also figure it works better if you lead by example rather then stand in the back and direct on something you don't know.

Cris

10/24 Ab

Letter received today on Pay Cap.

JE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
USDA Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Briefing Paper
Date: October 2, 2005

Topic: Application of overtime regulations

Issue: Exempt employees who are at a pay rate greater than GS-10 step 1 responding to non-fire emergencies who are assigned to exempt positions do not receive full time and one half pay for overtime hours worked.

Background: Prior to January 2001, FLSA-exempt employees who worked in exempt positions when responding to wildland fires were subject to the overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which limited overtime pay to 1 the basic pay rate up to the overtime pay rate of a GS-10 step 1. In 2000, Public Law 106-558 Firefighter Pay Reform Act amended 5 U.S.C 5542 (a) to allow full overtime to be paid to wildland firefighters of the Department of Interior and Forest Service beginning January 20, 2001. This authority applies only when wildland firefighters are engaged in wildland fire suppression activities.

Key Points:

Non-exempt employees: Overtime rate of 1 the basic rate of pay is paid for all work over 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week irregardless of the work the employee is performing.

Exempt employees:

Non fire suppression work: Overtime pay for employees who are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA-exempt) generally is earned for hours of work in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. For employees with pay rates equal to or less than the pay rate of a GS-10 step 1 full time and is received for overtime worked. For employees with pay rates greater than a GS-10 step 1, the overtime rate is the greater of a GS-10 step 1 pay rate x 1.5 or the employee's hourly rate of pay.

Exempt employees assigned to non-exempt positions: Exempt employees who are assigned to non-fire emergency incidents and perform nonexempt work for more than 20% of their work hours in any weekly tour of duty are entitled to be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 5 CFR 551.208 (d). (i.e. receive overtime at a rate of 1 times their basic rate of pay).

Wildland Fire Suppression assignments: Wildland firefighters who are exempt from the FLSA overtime pay provisions, and are employees of the Department of Interior or Forest Service receive an overtime pay rate of 1 their basic rate of pay while they are engaged in fire suppression activities only.

Bi-weekly pay limitations: Bi-weekly pay limitations apply to all employees. This limitation is waived for employees responding to wildland fire suppression activities. It can also be waived by the Department for Presidential declared emergencies at which time employees are paid under the annual limitation not to exceed the rate for a GS -15 Step 10 or Level V of the Executive Schedule, whichever is greater. Annual pay limitations still apply. There is no provision in law for waiving any salary payment received by an employee that exceeds the annual maximum earning limit.
Contact: Mary Ann Szymoniak 208-387-5499 or Emmy Ibison 406-329-3463

10/24 JD-

I'm a different Department but here are some key words to try on that HR weenie that's not being helpful...

Typically there is OT paid at the regular rate- this does not allow the full time and a half for Exempt employees or eliminate the pay cap for fire suppression work. The exemption code (11 in your case) is used for erasing the pay cap (what the HR person is saying you are running into).

So HR is saying you are Non-Exempt therefore you shouldn't use the 11 code. Without the 11 code you run into the pay cap.

So HR needs to be informed that you (as a nonexempt employee) are eligible to use the 11 code in order to alleviate the pay cap due your eligibility under FSH 6109.11, 13.12 and that should do the trick...

It sounds like HR isn't used to your regs.. Here's the quote:

FSH 6109.11 - PAY ADMINISTRATION, ATTENDANCE AND LEAVE HANDBOOK
WO AMENDMENT 6109.11-92-1
EFFECTIVE 8/3/92

Chapter 13 - PAY UNDER THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT (FLSA).

13.1 - Employee Status Under FLSA.
Complete guidance on exemption criteria is found in FSH 6109.41, FPM Letters 551-7, 551-13, and Bulletin 551-16.

13.12 - Section 7(k) Provisions for Federal Employees Engaged in Fire Protection Activities or Law Enforcement Activities. Federal employees who perform forest and range fire protection duties in an emergency fire situation are not covered under section 7(k), FPM Letter No. 551-5 of the FLSA.

write back if you need more documentation help,
BLMgirl
10/24 For anyone who has high resolution (1.5 MB JPGs or higher) digital images to donate
to the Fire Academy's hall display, here's a link to the storage ftp site.
ftp://ftp.tahoe.r5.fs.fed.us/pub/open/

We need the following kinds of images:
  • Fuel-veg type photos, representing the variety of fuel that we have in California.
  • Cloud photos, representing the types of clouds that indicate important weather changes.
  • Fire suppression activities, showing the kinds of work involved in suppression.
  • Topographic features, showing the hinds of terrain and features that are dangerous
    (like chimneys) or helpful (like safety zones).

If you have good quality slides or prints that you'd like to donate, I can scan and return
them to you. Please mail them to:
Charly Price
Tahoe National Forest
631 Coyote Street
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 478-6211
cprice01@fs.fed.us

10/24 I was involved with a VFD that had a rather interesting way of testing both
fitness and your ability to stay cool under stress. During the Firefighter I
training, everyone had to go through a fairly strenuous, totally dark maze
that involved a lot of crawling on your belly and getting around and through
downed building materials. Your SCBA tanks were checked before you went in
and after you came out and if you used more than a certain amount of air,
you were washed out of the active program. This probably wouldn't "count" in
wildland circles, but I thought it was an interesting way to make sure that
people were both fit and unlikely to panic under conditions that can easily
occur during a structure fire.

Still Out There as an AD
10/24 From Firescribe:

Fuel valve blamed in failure of air tanker's engine CA

Fall Burning Begins On Central Oregon Federal Lands OR

Lassen park lights Prospect Peak fire CA

First Responders worldwide should be aware of (from National Public Radio)
The Spread of Bird Flu
Q&A: What is Bird Flu and Who's At Risk?
10/20
Q&A: Preparing for a Flu Pandemic
10/21

10/24 DH

Info on the fires you were interested in are available on the internet. Just "google" the name
of the fatal fires. Add the Camuesa Fire to your list, August 1999 on the Los Padres N.F.
Heat stroke to a line EMT, Stephen Masto.

Yellow Angel
10/24 GS-15 position leading the FS Disaster Assistance Support Program. It's a
quickie, closes tomorrow.

http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/getjob.asp?JobID=35660134&WT.mc_n=MKT000125
10/23 Re vfd firefighters:

I was not in any way trying to start a pi23ing match. i must have hit a nerve.. relax.
i have been in the the life for 25 years. i am also on a vfd. and yes i am the only one
redcarded. but soon there will be more.. the avg age here is 35. lol, cris take a chill
and relax...

ncbrush6

10/23 I was reading over the IMWTK history page about early female firefighters:

I am JC the grandson of Marry Brooks and my Grandma retired around 1998.
Her sister Lilly Robinson also worked for the forest service and retired a few
years earlier. Both of them started fighting fire and burning slash in the
early 70s, around 71 or 72 according to my father. John Chester Sr. still
works at Mad River and the torch has been passed down to both me and my
little sister... neither of us born when our grandma and great aunt started
putting out fire. Both of us work on the SHASTA-Trinity N.F.

Ab sign me As D.H.

Hi JC, chip off the old block, aren't you? Welcome. I'll add a note to the IMWTK tomorrow. Ab.

10/23 Now that is a quote to live by...."If lessons are to be learned, then the things that hurt must be said and discussed in the future for firefighter safety."

Regardless of agency, affiliation or group.. the folks who come to the WLF chat have been chatting, bantering, discussing, and debating safety for two ++ years.... ... As Ab said on 10/22, there are lessons to be learned..... I hope to hear those lessons without Agency or personal attacks... Firefighter safety just might be the end balance when everyone gets together.

Gizmo
10/23 I certainly can understand your surprise at the local VFDs not having their personnel up to date.

I relocated (retired!!) here to N.C. from California after having spent 35 years with CDF. The Fire Department personnel in my town and those surrounding me have no desire to learn ANY courses in ICS. The newer and younger personnel desperately want to learn these skills but are being stonewalled by outdated and inefficient Chief Officers that have been in place for many years. Monies are scarce and the training budgets are the hardest hit. Concepts and principles of Emergency Management are almost non-existent and most VFDs do not welcome change or outside input. Sad...but true!

COPTER100

10/23 3150 Firefighter-

You can go to the national firetraining web and search the
nation for courses. Go here.

http://nationalfiretraining.net/schedule/

Good Luck.

Training Officer

10/23 Looks good Ab.
No I am not a member, just a supporter.

I just read the complaint about vfds not pack testing nor red carding their members. Well, try having the average age of vfd FF's being 45. Not alot of the guys around here have the time nor are in the shape to do the pack test. We do encourage them to take Basic Wildland, Intermediate and all other classes they wish to take. Our guys have jobs that 365 days a year and work anywhere from 12 to 18 hour days. Who are these busy men and women? They are farmers and ranchers. We do drop what we are doing to go to a fire because that means some one is losing their livihood for the year. It takes training and understanding to fight a fire not a red card nor pack test and just because you have one does not mean that you know more then the guy who doesn't, but has been fighting fire in that area for over 20 years. I may be trained clear up to S-230 and 231, but I still count on my guys who have been there before to let me know when there is a problem starting.We count on each other.

So lets not a pi--ing match between those who have red cards and those who do not, and each vfd has their own set of rules and training. If any of my guys want to go on a project fire I send them to another local vfd that does the pack tests and they test there, but I make sure they have their basic or refresher before they go.

By the way we are very rural.
Cris

10/23 As stated in the attached letter from the former Regional Forester, 5th paragraph, 2nd sentence:

I strongly support efforts which help in that regard such as the increased firefighter
pay scale for southern California. I know more needs to be done and am committed
to trying to do so.

Could someone in the RO answer why we are not allowed to update our figures with OPM
even after WO requested the information? This would really show your commitment to the
phrase "more needs to be done".

Signed,
3 bedrooms, 2 baths and "freeway close" for only $726,000 !!!!!!

10/23 hey ab, just a quick one i heard while workin' in nor-cal;

chinga- another name for a rhino tool

another fire girl in OR

Thanks, I added it to the fire terms page. Ab.

10/23 Hey folks

i have found out that a lot of the vfds near me here in North Carolina dont even packtest or red card their firefighters. it was a bit of a kick in the face when i asked a vfd capt how many guys and gals on his vfd are red carded.. he says they dont want to go to the classes .. i live in a big urben interface area but they dont see the need for the classes... well all i can do is keep trying.

Ncbrush6
10/23 Hello Ab,

Here is an update to the Portraits of the West article in Range Magazine.
Remember I mentioned a nice little tribute that was done for the wildland fire fighter in the Range Magazine and the Two Wildland FF's that made the front cover. Now it's online.

Here are directions on how to bring it up for everyone to enjoy and see that all the stewards of the range greatly appreciate wildland firefighters for doing what they do.

Go to the Range Magazine, you go to the most recent issue, Fall 2005. Notice that top right says "On the cover: firefighters Bob Elliot and Jason Matheson."

Scroll down the contents in "Current Features" and click Portrait of the West. You will find the article that I told you about awhile back. It's a 1 page pdf file (168K, not large).

Cris

Crs, thanks for working with me to figure out links and such. Ab.

10/22 pack test (WCT) and music

This time it was smooth jazz. Age doesn't make any difference. 3 Mi 45 min. with 45 pounds on, no run, walk, or you fail. At least that is the way it is in our dept. Young 69, closing on 70. We got told just 2 weeks ago that we will be testing just as our cards expire.

Old Man of the Dept.

Keep on truckin'

10/22 To the helitack captain getting hosed on OT pay:

It's my understanding that everyone gets full time and a half and no pay cap for suppression
work overtime. Make your timekeeper show you the regs that they're using to screw you.
Don't take their word for it. It's your right to see the rules.

Sin Nombre
10/22 Re: Tragedy Fires

SoCal CDF…. You are so correct in your statement of “Firing out is a critical tool. It must be used correctly with good communication.”

It was used incorrectly and with poor communications in both instances, Cedar and Tuolumne. In both cases, simple mistakes were made that cost folks their lives. In both cases, things like Doug Campbell’s prediction system were in alignment or nearing alignment and the Swiss Cheese slices were lining up. Communication failures and the lack of using the chain of command were also factors. Basic fire behavior was also overlooked.

You are also correct that more rules, guidelines, or policies will not fix the problem. The Forest Service is a great example of that.

A safety culture that says BS to repeated failures that can be corrected will prevail someday. We currently have unwritten policies that many of us are using this season to address the repetitive problems regardless of whether they are implemented as policy.

I see three problems that are associated with these fires and yes, I have studied them and have talked with people involved at all levels and have observed these problems first hand without any entrapments. I also have experience with these problems still occurring and not addressed in the official reports. We almost booted a CDF helitack crew just three weeks ago.

There were three contributing, if not causal factors, that were omitted from the official reports. If lessons are to be learned, then the things that hurt must be said and discussed in the future for firefighter safety.

1) The basics of communication is somehow always at the bottom of the Swiss Cheese model in accidents. In the Cedar Fire, a crew of two people was performing burnout operations without the knowledge of the Incident Commander, Operations Section Chief, Branch Director(s), the Division Supervisor, or adjacent forces. They (the folks lighting fire) also did not understand the basics of fire dynamics that they were contributing to. They lit fires upslope of a progressing fire, without communicating their intent, or notifying anyone around them or their supervisors. They had no “permission” under California law or from their supervisors AND they were not assigned to the incident.

2) On the Tuolumne Fire, you had a crew who failed to notify the IC that they were on scene of the fire and maintain adequate communications. The Incident Commander just happened to come across them hiking in as he was approaching the fire. He had a face to face contact, but no further communications with them as they progressed at his directions. They also failed to follow the IC’s orders after they were told to find an adequate anchor point and advise what they would be doing. The big problem was that they were monitoring the local CDF air-to-ground frequency and talking with their local air attack ship and helicopter instead of listening to the assigned tactical frequency and communicating with other ground resources, especially the Incident Commander on their proposed tactics. Once they are on the ground, they are a ground based resource that should be monitoring the tactical and command frequencies and not relying upon big brother in the air for their safety. Three near misses or “potential safety problems” have been recorded with this very scenario just this year…Four near misses last year…. . New local lessons learned and policy is to boot any CDF helitack crew that does not understand that they work for and communicate with the IC, the OSC, or Division Supervisor when they are on the ground. This has been a re-occurring problem even before the Tuolumne tragedy.

3) Lack of basic fire behavior knowledge when it comes to burning. If you start a backfire or burnout upslope of a fire, or start one down-wind of one that ends up having a greater “chimney effect” or “venturi effect” than the main fire, you are going to have a whole lot of fire in your face than you wanted. It is called “drawing” in the layman's world. Simple and the basics of burning, you want the fire to go AWAY from you and not contribute to it coming towards you.

You want the main fire to “draw” your burnout or backfire away from you, not your burnout and/or backfire to draw in the main fire to your location or others around you. These are simple mistakes of science that are overlooked when an investigation occurs. Even Homer Simpson could understand this in fire behavior terms…….. Doh.....

Lobotomy
10/22 Ab,
The old step test had a pass or fail based on pulse count. Does the three mile pack test culminate with a pass/fail pulse reading too or is it good enough to go the three miles. Finally, is the true answer to this question -- depending on how old you are. Thanks.

--camp slug

Readers, if you don't know the Work Capacity Test (Pack Test) prerequisites and requirements and how they relate to federal employment, you can find them via the Links page under Safety. Age hasn't stopped many a firefighter. (...This is where the Old Man of the Department always chimes in... Imagine a little music in the background... maybe Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and the Sons of the Pioneers...) Ab.

10/22 Abs,

Just returned to Idaho from the Southeast where I served three weeks with FEMA and the BIA in Rita recovery support. We sent equipment and personnel to the area through a dispatch that originated from NIFC. Although my personal observations are limited to the small area where I worked, I talked extensively with incident commanders and department of emergency management officials about their experiences in the hurricane zone.

This isn’t an earthshaking revelation… but lack of coordination and communication between federal agencies was a serious problem, even weeks after the incidents.

Our 3,500 gallon 6x6 Tactical Tender and other support equipment were ordered to the hurricane zone. It took 3 days to drive the 2,000 miles from Idaho. Apparently, 29 other pieces of like equipment were brought in from the West. Immediately after arrival, we were informed that FEMA cancelled the orders and we all would be sent back home that day. An enterprising officer in the overhead team heard through a friend of a friend at the Southeast coordination center that a piece of fire apparatus like ours was needed at a nearby an reservation (this was not through official ordering channels, which the branch sup said were completely devoid of reassignments). The sup directly called the BIA, verified the need and walked the order through the system. He later told me he had to move “heaven and hell” to get the order through. By this time, most of the other tenders were heading back home. He talked FEMA into a 24-hour hold on equipment demobilizations, as he suspected that other reassignments were glacially moving through the system.

We were sent to assist an overwhelmed volunteer fire department. A regional fire official met us there. During his briefing, he said that power was out in most areas and would be for some time, severely limiting access to firefighting water. He was not pleased when I told him about the 30 water tenders demobilized on their arrival in Texas. He said he had placed an order for Tactical Tenders through federal channels more than a week before. During this wait, the area experienced two fatal structure fires where lack of water was an issue.

Shortly after arriving at the reservation, our tender pumped more than 10,000 gallons of water assisting with the suppression of another fatal house fire in a small, nearby town. We also used the tender to deliver non potable domestic water to rural residents who had no water or power (some won’t have it for months).

If this happened in my little corner of the world that experienced only moderate damage, how bad were things region-wide? Who is standing back looking at the bigger picture?

In my service in the Gulf region, it’s apparent that some federal agencies and their officials are proud believers in CYA and confuse movement with action. It was an honor being a part, in our small way, of the vast effort to relieve human suffering and help this region heal. That said, I know we as a country can do better. Thankfully, there are officials like the Branch Sup who put his butt on the line to make things happen.

S.R. Sparky
10/22 The statement "I've had to restrain CDF and Local Government resources starting fires without permission many times before" is a pretty bold statement! Who do you work for, FireGod. I can almost guess.

BE

There are lessons to be learned all around if we can avoid the personal or agency attacks. Ab.

10/21 I am USFWS Employee in central california that is look for an S273 SEAT Manager
class for either this fall or next Spring.

Does anyone know where one might be held and when?

3150 Firefighter
10/21 Into the Wind:

Great post!! Right on Brother (or Sister as the case may be) !!

In my 37 years of involvement in this business (now as a retired FMO and contractor) I have often thought (and played the game this way) that the best fuels management projects have been good old fashioned wildfires dealt with in less than the heavy-handed full suppression mode. The absolute best fuel reduction projects (albeit mostly in wilderness and national park areas) that I have enjoyed in my lengthy career have been the large wildlfires that had not the heavy-handed suppression, not the huge cost to taxpayers, not the contentious obstructionist environmental issues, and not the safety exposure to large numbers of firefighters. We also occasionally actually learned a few things about the positive effects of fire in wildlands.

There is no excuse for the full suppression risk/exposure of the safety of firefighters in wilderness, national parks, and many other remote wildland areas!

Agency administrators can claim themselves the "victim" of a large wildlfire when signing a Wildland Fire Situation Analysis rather than the "Approving Official" of a Prescribed Fire Plan. They fear not the litigation from the former as they do the latter.

Of course I am also a big fan of the Wildland Fire Use strategy in wilderness!

We need to continue to fight the good fight to convince those few remaining jurassic-minded full suppressionists (and the folks continuing to build in the wildland-urban interface) that their way of thinking and the implications to firefighter safety is rapidly going bye-bye and has continued to unnecessarily kill our brothers and sisters.

NMAirBear
10/21 Why would CDF resist?

No firefighter should backfire or fire out unless they have earned a performance based qualification and documented records in their training files. Because this is occasionally violated (with devastating outcomes) and personnel sometimes light questionable backfires without permission through the chain of command, I would like feedback why CDF should avoid enhancing SOPs and training requirements. Clearly this would save lives and property. Many Firefighters, from many agencies, light backfires without knowing the big picture or even ask the adjoining resources how a backfire will affect their operation.

Many times I have restrained both CDF and local resources starting fires without permission while explaining to them they can't see the crews downwind (next division) that will be threatened by his/her actions. (They never admit to being hasty with the fire that would have had their name and liability devouring who knows what.)

Local Government Firefighters in California should also study page 55 of the California OES Strike team leaders manual http://www.oes.ca.gov/Operational/OEShome.nsf/PDF/FirePDFs/$file/STLManual2002.pdf is Titled "Backfire Authority Memorandum."

This memo quotes existing laws that are frequently unknown and ignored.

Safety Always!
10/21 Hey here's a question about overtime pay and salary caps:

I am a NON EXEMPT Forest Service Helitack
Captain GS-8. I was told I can't gross more $5,036
per pay period because I hit the bi-weekly salary cap.
I was also told that I could not code my time with
the "11" prefix for fire overtime because that is for
EXEMPT employees such as GS-9s and so on. So I have
lost a few thousand dollars and was told I worked
several hundred hours for free. Is this really the
case? It seems ridiculous to me. This came from my
HR person. I just want to know if this true and if
there is any recourse.

JD

10/21 DH

Reference the heat related death Fillbrook Fire MVU-3921 May 29,1997. Crewmember from La Cima Fire Center CCC. 20 acre fire near Lakeside.

Green Sheet-Findings Related to the deceased firefighter
Individual food and fluid consumption undetermined.
24 hours before the incident, the victim reported to co worker that he was experiencing acute symptoms related to either bacterial or viral infection.
The victim had been off 4 days and reported back to work the day prior to the incident for normal duty.
The day of the fire the victim told other corps members that he was not feeling well, but never informed the fire captain.
Results of hospital testing and coroners toxicology panel did not reveal any causative agents.
Remarks- There is a possibility that a pre-existing illness contributed to the inability of the deceased firefighter to regulate his body temperature.

Rhino

Thanks Rhino. Ab.

10/21 Ab,

Rarely do I post, but I just had to give a "chuck on the shoulder" to "into the wind" for their post on the absurdity of how we proportion our dollars/resources/efforts etc. between suppression and fuels treatments. Our current situation is a disservice to the american public and a true "fleecing of america". It does give me hope to read posts like that. Which IMT do you work for - sounds like they have their act together

Hats off though to the forests/districts/parks that are utilizing fire use and aggressive fuels treatments - there are definitely many, many more than ever before. I hope the trend continues. We should be rewarding these folks and figure out a way to provide incentive to continue and go bigger.

I used to work out west, but now reside in the countries most flammable state - Florida. Prescribed fire is our suppression tool here. I got fed up with chasing single-tree juniper fires in the middle of nowhere. I know we can do better. If we can burn hundreds of thousands of acres here in the 4th most populous state in the nation, with most residents not being from Florida, and urban interface issues on nearly every burn then certainly those forests and BLM districts miles from anywhere can do better than they are. It take one or two very dedicated, passionate managers to get the job done. I hope in the future more of them have the cohones to do what is right!

Thanks Ab for the forum - hopefully Hurricane Wilma will decide what she is gonna do and get on with it!

Firepup21

10/21 Lobotomy:

re: "It is so nice to have a gray water blivot leaking between the salad bar and the serving line"

This is clearly a problem, and maybe not an uncommon one? Type One Incident Support has some solutions available including extra containment and various types of replacement blivets, "pillow tanks", or "bladder tanks" with proper fittings. Some amount of leaking may be unavoidable, hence the need for secondary containment in some situations.

Also...some time back there was a discussion of sand tables and their use. In the past, we have supplied small "berms" or semi-portable trays that can be used for this. Looks similar to a "mini-berm" that you would see under a pump or other equipment to contain leaks. We have supplied them in blue color so that the blue fabric of the berm/tray can also serve to simulate a water source if desired. They can be built in various dimensions and rolled up relatively small so that they can be transported more readily than other methods.

Thanks,
Chris Ditmore
10/21 Mrs.Rucker was in Sacramento today (yesterday) fighting for changes in the way we do
backfires or burning out. OSHA will be doing more thorough looking into the way we
fire out. We have too many rules as is. Firing out is a critical tool. It must be used correctly
with good communication.

Novato Firefighter's Widow Urges New Safety Standards

SoCal CDF

10/21 re: goose chases

Some other "supply cache" goodies, are ST-ones (stones), and a grid locater.
Grid locaters help out when you have a day of gridding ahead. If a person is
really green, we try and get them to bring us some water bars.

AH20
10/21 Island Fork and Point Fires? ... any info about these tragic fires readily available?

Lobotomy

Colorado Firecamp

10/21 Fuels vs Suppression

We are all like a bunch of alcoholics, in the sense that we cannot wean ourselves off of suppression. Very few places is suppression the real answer. We waste money on putting out fires that would only do good if allowed to burn. And we only put off the inevitable one more year. The Hazardous Fuels budget on my Forest is 1/4 of the prepardness budget, then add severity, and suppression and it would drop to about 10%. That is a joke and a disservice to the American public that we are managing the Forests for and the sad fact is that they do not know or understand.

What is the answer. Using every tool in the box. Doing more than your target, finding ways to leverage funds and working your ass off. That's it, nothing magic. What about the liability of pushing burning windows. Answer: You better do it right, or not at all. When we do have large fires that we have to put out we need to back off, grab a good ridge, road or natural barrier, burn it out and make all efforts to apply fire as expertly as possible. The IMT that I work on prides itself in cost containment, we use recycled paper, and other such neat stuff that saves about $50K/fire. Nothing wrong with that but, when a Type 1 IMT hits the ground its a million bucks a day. The real saving comes from implementing sound, aggressive, tactics and getting the job done 1 day sooner, or more. And just in case any of that concerns you from a safety standpoint, it shouldn't none of that is inconsistent with safety. The first objective on every fire is firefighter and public safety and always should be. That's enough for now.

Into the wind.
10/21 Good quote here.. it is from Kelly Close available on the Colorado Firecamp page....

"All too often, fire behavior is pinned as a major culprit in burnover fatalities and
entrapments, usually associated with terms such as “extreme,” “sudden,” and “unexpected.”
But while extreme fire behavior has been a common denominator, it is not unusual, and
should seldom be unexpected."

Priceless quote as it relates to safety and recognizing the abnormal situations around you as a fire progresses to become "famous".

Sign me..... Chilly because I don't have my nomex underwear.
10/20 Reply to Another Squaddie,

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has the means to make patches, shirts,
coats, hats, or whatever you might need for your crew or group. I have been
making fire shirts for over 14 years. The Foundation would love to work
with any of you in fire service and is open to incorporating our logos and
images with your logos and designs. If you want more information, call me
at 208-336-2996. We would love to accommodate you in any way we can.

Burk Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
10/20 TC-

You are absolutely right! The more money we put towards suppression,
especially in a jack pot for SoCal, while not implementing fuels
reductions, the farther away from a healthy landscape we get. As another
year that goes by that we don't actively manage our fire dependant
ecosystems, the bigger the increase to fire fighter safety and potential
for unnatural stand replacing fires.

Is anyone getting the money they need to do effective and strategic fuels
management at the landscape level? Don't forget the issue with
maintenance. The entire planning and implementation process is not cheap,
but cheaper than a large campaign fire.

Klamathman
10/20 Alot of effort going into the discussion about nomex underwear and cotton vs polyester.

So there I was... a young lad fighting fire in cotton fireshirts, frisco jeans and a canvas filson vest. Cut a lot of hotline and never burst into flames. I guess if you want to get shrink wrapped in a burnover wear polyester; if you want to catch fire, wear cotton. I prefer cotton over polyester, (probably because I never got into disco) and wish we could go back to the cotton fire shirts. They were soft and comfortable when they weren't soaked with di-ammonium phosphate. I do like not having to pay for my own work pants though. If you worried that your tighty whities are gonna burn or melt then you've got bigger problems to deal with and should have given yourself more time to get to your safety zone.

backburnfs
10/20 Feinstein's letter to Mark Rey really pisses me off.

Currently there is no National Forest in the Nation that is getting the money they really need to do the Job in Hazardous fuels. Rather than push Congress for an overall increase in Hazardous fuels dollars (which she could do), she's telling the Forest service that they need to fully fund southern Ca, at the expense of all the other Forest's in the Nation. This smacks of the quincy library group type of stuff and is pure political bull____.

TC

10/20 Howdy all,

This is in response to Jim's question about ff death due to heat, and the tradeoff involved in wearing an undergarment to decrease burn risk in burnovers.

I live and do volunteer trail work in eastern San Diego County, so the death of the young man struck a chord with me. The exact date escapes me, but it has been several years now. Perhaps 1997-2001?

The young man was from the Imperial Valley, was only in his late teens or early twenties, he died on a fire in Lakeside. I can't remember for sure but i think he was ascending the southern flank of the fire just N of Willow road between the circle K and wildcat cyn road.

The temp was over 100, and for some reason I think it may have been humid too. I dont think the gent was an inmate, I think he was a CCC or from a similar type program.

That day I was working my regular job as equipment mechanic in east county, I went thru almost 2 gallons of water and almost two 64 oz big gulps, still basically couldnt pee until I got home and drank more water..

As an aside, it is too bad there is not a single source of info on ALL wildland ff deaths and serious injuries in CA. The deaths should not be forgotten, nor should the after actions be buried and forgotten. I am having heck of time trying to find info on Inaja and Hauser Canyon fires. And also one in LA County in Altadena that killed at least 1 ff just downslope from a paved road . I think it was called the Glen Allen fire, for the street the origin was on.

DH

10/20 Two cents into the pot. I think I'll stay with my cotton. Cotton works a lot better a wicking away the sweat and keeping you cool when the heat is on. Last time I looked, I think I wore my underwear under my Nomex and not exposed to direct flame. Cotton is a lot better than nylon as to taking heat and conducting it away for the skin. Ever see a set of boot inserts melted to a pair of cotton or wool socks? I like things soft next to me, since you can't use fabric softener on Nomex or Flame resistant clothing. The only thing softener can do for nylon is it helps remove the static, but I like the light show when I slide into my sleeping bag.

I do remember seeing a complete set of wool bunker gear some years back that was used for structural fires, but the book was rewritten and wool could no longer be used for that either, so I guess I'll stick to my cotton. Or is that my cotton sticking to me after three or four days?

Hilbille
10/20 Well, to get everybody off of the underwear issue.

I heard, but never tried, that using Vick's vapor rub would help with poison ivy. Has
anybody tried this and does it work? I heard this from a lady in an Allergies training
course. (She was allergic to just about everything.)

Cris

10/19

Today (Oct. 18), President Bush signed into law the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2006 (HR 2360), worth $31.9 billion. The law decreases funding to the Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) program, increases funding for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act, and provides a first-ever direct appropriation to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The law also implements Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff's "second stage review", which would move a number of department functions, including the USFA, into a new Preparedness Directorate.

also more interesting reading about where funds will go: www.iafc.org

Hickman

10/19 Charlie,

Los Padres Hotshots are flying out Friday...

signed
10/19 I hear Stanislaus IHC , Horseshoe IHC, and Diamond MT IHC had
rewarding experiences back in Texas and Mississippi. Any word of more
IHCs heading back for Hurricane Wilma?

Charlie
10/19 I thought I'd weigh in on the topic of firefighter clothing.

--Nomex underwear. There's a ton of it out there. Race car drivers have been wearing it for decades. Just do a Google search for: "nomex underwear". Typical prices are $100-200 for a set.

--Fabric softeners and their effect on fabric flammability. Jiangman Guo did a masters thesis on the issue. The bottom line is that fabric softeners added during the rinse cycle increase the flammability of fabrics over time. His thesis can be found here --> http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-05072003-143334/

WHAT ABOUT THE FLAMMABILITY OF COTTON VS. POLYESTER?

--Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Hal Stratton said when giving advice about the safety of Halloween costumes: "The most important guideline that we would provide the parents is to make sure that you have costumes of flame resistant fabric. And that fabric typically consists of nylon or polyester." The details can be found here --> http://www.cpsc.gov/trans/hallow03.phpl

When I saw the video tape of Mr. Stratton making that statement I was shocked, because I was taught to always wear cotton underwear when you're on a fire.

I contacted the CPSC and asked them if they were sure about the advice their Chairman gave, because I had been taught differently as a wildland firefighter. They replied that they stood by their advice that polyester costumes were indeed more fire safe than cotton.

After doing some research, I found this at an Iowa State University web site www.extension.iastate.edu/textiles/faq.phpl#fabric

--Flammability of cotton vs. polyester. Cotton ignites more quickly and burns faster than polyester. When polyester does burn, it sometimes will self-extinguish, but it melts before it burns and the molten material, if it comes in contact with skin, can cause severe burns.

--The Material Safety Data Sheet for polyester fiber says in part here --> www.sans.co.za/MSDSinternet/MSDSRefNo2000.pdf

"Molten material can cause severe burns. Do not try to peel the material from the skin.
Cool rapidly with water and continue whilst relief from pain is obtained. Obtain medical
help immediately."

SO NOW WHAT? If cotton ignites more quickly and burns faster than polyester, what should wildland firefighters wear under their Nomex shirt and pants? Polyester is less likely to ignite or sustain combustion, but if it does burn, will the injuries be worse than if cotton were worn?

I think the Missoula Technology Development Center should do some research on this. The advice the CPSC is giving conflicts with what firefighters have been taught for decades. Which school of thought is right?

Bill

10/19 Ab,

I'm kind of new here. I was browsing today and found some funny and
good pages on the links page.

Wildland Fire's Terms is one. I had some good chuckles over that.

Striker

Welcome Striker. There are some others, too Links-Miscellaneous. Contribute if you want to. Ab.

10/19 re: The Supply Cache, Inc

Jim, sorry, I was referring to the "supply cache" on project fires.

AH20

haw haw... What other wild goose chases did you send those newbies on?... Ab.

10/19 Matt,

Ruffian Specialties makes an excellent one that we use. Ask for Debbie.

www.ruffianspecialties.com/index.phpl

SRJS
10/19 Need some help here, I am looking for a fanny pack that will hold a
FireQuick launcher and flares. Does anyone know who might make
such an item?

Matt
10/19 In all actuality I have never seen Nomex underwear. I used to wear wool
long handles then switched to a silk wool mix a few years ago. Definite need
in the fall and spring in the west. Even the desert gets really cold at night.

Done been cold!
10/19 AH20,

I want to avoid a wasted phone call or internet search, we don't carry Nomex underwear, yet. It's in the works for 2006. I have been on multiple fires here in the front range of Colorado where the IA was at 2 in the afternoon and it was 80 degrees and you hike off (if you're lucky) several hours later and the snow is swirling around you. I always have my long underwear packed this time of year. There has also been some research showing that an extra layer provides insulation against radiant heat burns. People in quick flashes or burn overs with 2nd or 3rd degree burns that stop right at their t-shirt sleeve line. I believe at least one agency (CDF?) used to require, or still does, either long cotton undergarment or a pant-leg or sleeve lining in their over pants and brush jackets for this reason. I avoid cotton because of the moisture retention. The synthetic wicking products may melt so be careful what you chose.

Patches: I recommend KB emblem here in Colorado. We do business with them quite a bit and the quality of the work can be judged by their re-creation of classic Smokey Bear posters in patch form. Their website is: www.kbemblem.com or we can help you out, we are a dealer for them. Just give us a call.

Jim Felix
President
The Supply Cache, Inc

Please join or renew your membership to the 52 Club with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Never forget our fallen and injured firefighters. Visit: www.wffoundation.org

Jim, some years back CDF also had to address death of an inmate or ccc (?) crewmember from overheating and dehydration. Maybe some CDFers can fill us in on that sad story. It's somewhere in the archives...

I'm sure you know July and August heat in California and in other parts of the West requires you drink lots of water on the fireline, too. It's key to use good judgment with respect to both hydration and clothing worn in heat and cold in different parts of the US and in different seasons. It's gettin' mighty chilly in northern Cali right now. Being too hot or too cold, not getting enough sleep, and not staying well hydrated reduces situational awareness. No doubt. Ab.

10/19 another squaddie

Try Eagle Emblems. www.eagleemblems.com. Most of our Stations used them for their station patches.

FB

10/18 Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Senator Feinstein Urges Forest Service to Address Huge Shortfall In Forest Fire Funding for Southern California

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today urged the Forest Service to provide additional federal funding to meet the nearly $40 million shortfall for Southern California’s four national forests – San Bernardino, Angeles, Cleveland and Los Padres Forests – to protect neighboring communities from the threat of catastrophic forest fires.

“The recent Thurman and Topanga wildfires remind us that catastrophic fires like those of October 2003 will return to Southern California’s four national forests,” Senator Feinstein said. “There is no greater priority than protecting lives and homes, and no place in the country where as many lives and homes are at risk to forest fires as Southern California. I urge the Forest Service to provide the urgently needed funding to build effective buffers around our communities to save lives and thousands of homes.”

The regional office of the Forest Service has determined that an annual funding level of $46.4 million is needed to clear away the brush and dead and dying trees from these four forests to protect communities and escape routes for their residents. The Forest Service’s preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2006 provides only $7.5 million, or 16%, of the needed hazardous fuel reduction funding for these forests.

Senator Feinstein is calling on the Forest Service to increase the funding needed to remove the thousands of acres of dead and bark beetle-infested trees and overgrown chaparral in Southern California’s national forests. There are nearly 7 million Southern California residents living within an area considered at risk from the threat of catastrophic forest fires. An at-risk community is often defined as extending one-and-a-half miles from a forest boundary.

Following is the letter sent by Senator Feinstein to Mark Rey, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment:

October 17, 2005
The Honorable Mark Rey
Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment
Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Under Secretary Rey:

The recent Thurman and Topanga wildfires remind us that catastrophic fires like those of October 2003 will return to Southern California’s four national forests: the San Bernardino, Angeles, Cleveland and Los Padres. The only question is whether we build effective buffers around our communities to save lives and thousands of homes. In response to my inquiry, the regional office of the Forest Service has determined that an annual funding level of $46.4 million is needed for these four forests to clear away the brush and dead trees in order to protect communities and escape routes for their residents.

I am gravely concerned that the Forest Service’s preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2006 provides a mere 16% of the needed fuel reduction funding for these forests, $7.5 million as compared to the $46.4 million need. And it could have been even worse – if Congress had not earmarked $5 million for fuels work at the San Bernardino National Forest, these forests would have received only $2.5 million, or just 5% of the fuel reduction funds they need. In addition, there is no funding currently slated for the $8 million needed next year for rehabilitation and restoration of burned areas on the four Southern California forests.

The sheer numbers of people at risk from catastrophic fire in Southern California are unparalleled anywhere else in the country. By one definition, the urban area at risk from forest fires extends one-and-a-half miles from the forest boundary. Fully 6.8 million people live within one-and-one-half miles of one of the Southern California forests, more than the population of 38 states. And on weekend days 115,000 people regularly visit the San Bernardino National Forest alone, more than can be readily evacuated. Another 187,000 people live on private land within the outer boundaries of the four Southern California forests, making them particularly susceptible to being trapped by fire.

Without effective buffers in place to protect all these people, the 2003 fires were catastrophic for Southern California: 24 people were killed, 3710 homes were destroyed, 750,043 acres burned, and the cost to Federal, State, and local entities so far has exceeded $1.2 billion. We cannot let this happen again.

The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Fire Commission, which Governor Schwarzenegger convened in response to the October 2003 fires, has outlined what needs to be done:

"The most critical areas will continue to be the urban interface areas in and around the four southern forests. These communities have significant populations and limited means of egress. Concentrations of standing dead trees increase the potential for fire to spread rapidly. Evacuation and firefighting efforts in these communities are difficult and dangerous.... The protection of life and property from wildfire cannot simply rely on the availability of firefighting resources. Until the removal of thousands of acres of dead and bark beetle infestation to trees and sound Forest stewardship is achieved, southern California and other forested areas of the state to will continue to have hazardous standing fuel just waiting to become the next conflagration."

In the face of the need to protect all these people and their homes, I am concerned that the Forest Service has been steadily reducing California forests’ share of the general National Forest System, Construction, and Hazardous Fuels accounts, from 15.6% in Fiscal Year 2003 to a proposed 13.8% in Fiscal Year 2006. The rationale is that California no longer has the same volume of timber harvest as it did in the 1980's. But following the 2003 passage of the President’s Healthy Forests Restoration Act, which I strongly supported, I understood the Forest Service to refocus its efforts on hazardous fuel reduction. Others besides the Forest Service have recognized the urgent need to reduce forest fuels: 60 local Fire Safe Councils work with homeowners in Southern California to thin brush on private property, and a single company, Southern California Edison, has spent $162 million in the last two years clearing rights-of-way around its power lines in Southern California.

Even the current funding level for hazardous fuel reduction in California is in question. Of the $46 million allocated for hazardous fuel reduction on California forests, $6 million comes from excess Knutson-Vandenburg Act funds. I understand that the continued viability of this funding source depends on the Forest Service’s administrative decision to keep allocating these monies from timber receipts. I urge the agency to use its discretion to provide urgently needed funding on the Southern California forests.

There is no greater hazardous fuel reduction priority than protecting lives and homes, and no place in the country where as many lives and homes are at risk as Southern California. I ask that you work with me to find the resources to get this job done.

Sincerely,
Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator

###

James Peterson
Regional Director, Office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein

10/18 RE: another squaddie

I'm not sure if this company does patches, but I know their shirts are awesome.
They were on the school fire, and their website looks like they have some other
good stuff. www.onemorechain.com

RE: Nomex underwear.

Isnt that something you send the newbies to the supply cache to try and get?

AH20
10/18 Aberdeen,

I like rolling out of my comfy sleeping bag in the
morning
when the frost is on the ridgepole,
o'dark30
clad in my purple nomex long-johnnies,
top n bottom if it's cold
shaking my hair free of my cap,
slipping tootsies into my matching nomex slips,
'nother barbie in the woods?
...sidling up to the fire,
grabbin' some logs,
tossin' 'em on and
watchin' embers rise on the new flames'
convection whirl in the morning half-light;
cuddlin' a cup o' joe,
hand around, heat trailin' up
knowing I can sit there
warming frontside backside frontside and
them darn'd embers won't burn holes in my
soft fleecy sleepwear...

ummmmmmmm...

Didn't think about my respiratory system, Aberdeen...
Think I should worry?

Mellie

10/18 As to reasons for Nomex Fleece and non-meltable underwear. Late season
fires and RX in the Rocky Mountain states as well as early season Rx will give
you plenty of reasons. If you start over heating, strip if you have time, drink
lots of fluids if you don't.

Sign me

Done been cold!
10/18 Dumb questions about Nomex Jackets and Underwear:

1. if it's so cold that you need a jacket, why do you need expensive fire-resistant outerwear? Yeah, they look cool at Morning briefings, but did anyone ever get 2nd or 3rd degree burns at a Briefing, except from spilling hot coffee? How about a cotton sweatshirt UNDER the Yellow Nomex shirt to help keep you warm?
2. If your Nomex shirt and trousers don't protect you from the fire and you need Nomex underwear for final protection, what is happening to your respiratory system and other exposed body parts?
3 And lastly, what about the importance of "wicking" and the Aussie studies that show nearly 2/3 of the heat on bushfires/wildfires coming from metabolic sources rather than the fire?

Final thought: it's all about risks and risk management, and more PPE is seldom the best answer.

Aberdeen
10/18 Some good discussion on structure protection. Although I am still not quite sure what “Another CDF BC” meant by “anchor & hold”, thankfully its not what I initially thought they meant.

In any event I am going to throw out a few things here that may or may not be relevant everywhere.

There was a comment about folks ventilating a structure that is obviously a complete loss while hundreds of others no doubt are threatened. This is a training and command & control issue. There is no way this should be taking place unless every other structure threatened has a resource assigned to it, and unless it’s a smaller fire that is contained, we all know that is not going to be the case.

vfd cap’n said: “There needs to be some guidance for acceptable strategy and tactics to guide the independent action that occurs while command and control is being established.” I totally agree. My question is, what is out there now for strategy and tactics for structure protection? I do not know specifically what the content of S215 is now, but when it first came out (as S205), I don’t recall there being much of anything tactics wise in it as we had to add in our own stuff. The farther away we pull resources from to an incident, the more important these base classes become so that everyone is working from the same foundation in knowing what to do and what is expected. We have developed our own structure protection tactics that we feel work well in our environment. They have evolved over the years, but the important thing is that we train annually with our local FDs so that everyone knows their role and responsibility (local FD officers basically run a structure branch under OPS) as well as tactics, strategy and safety for structure protection when the big one hits. Is everyone doing this? I sure hope so. If not, shame on them.

In a nutshell, our strategy in structure protection now makes a bigger push for working from the black. This is not to say that we do not assign resources out in front of the fire, we do, but they are farther out (trying to stay at least one hour in front of the fire) for safety reasons. The push for working from the black came from experienced FD folks citing that they felt from their experiences that they safely saved more structures by coming in behind the fire front and putting out small fires on structures than risking their neck by trying to wet things down and getting out at the last minute before the fire gets there.

Well, I guess this didn’t turn out to be the novel I thought it would be, but its just a few of the thoughts that have been bouncing around my head on this topic. If someone wants a copy of the structure protection tactics guide mentioned, the Abs know how to get a hold of me and I will gladly send out a generic copy.

Pulaski

10/18 Hi Ab & all,

I'm in the market to find a company to make some embroidered patches for our crew.
I see a ton of them on the internet, but I'm afraid of just picking one out of the blue.
Can anyone here suggest, or help me find a good, reliable company?

Thanks,

another squaddie

10/18 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
10/18 RE: Alan Simmons vids

The OLD fire video that show Del Rosa also show some interesting
stuff as far as PPE, nothing I haven't seen before.....

Fuels Monkey

10/18 Nomex underwear!!

Take a look at most any race web site and you will find what you need.
This is a good plan. We were thinking along this line also...

Racer

Chuck Roast Fleece has nomex jackets. Contact info on the Classifieds page. Ab.

10/18 Re nomex long underwear:

Massif in Ashland Oregon has a variety of nomex gear including long underwear...
Be prepared to spend some of that "H" pay it is a little spendy.

Ser

10/18 Ab,

I've been trying to send 2 pages from official booklet from CA F/F Memorial 05. Kids are grown and gone so there is a major malfunction here on the operator's part.

It was a professional service with Pipes & Drums. There were 500 uniformed F/Fs marching behind the Pipes and Flags from all Color Guards. The service was professional with the families in mind. There were 7 Forest Service names added. This included tanker pilots KIA from past years. All were inscribed on the wall as USFS. Also, one NPS, Arrowhead Shot Dan Holmes, with his crew in attendance. It was truly moving to see all F/F's in uniform, no matter from what agency, marching together. All the families seated, started that when the procession marched from the north wing of the Capitol to the Memorial Site, they could hear the marching steps of 1,000 boots. There were 30 new names added. Line of Duty, Job related Cancer, Iraq KIA, past names recalled, & Edward Gates USFS 7/28/1945 (dozer operator, Calandra Peak Fire, Williams Peak, Monterey County).

I watched Greeno's flag being presented to the family. She was magnificent, in this time of tribute.

Pay it forward.
Rush

10/18 Re nomex long underwear:

DH from Anchorage,

Why don't you just buy wool long handles?

Sin Nombre

10/17 Hi,

I was scrolling through some of the comments at your site and came across the inquiry by Maureen Ervin for any photos of her grandfather on the Rattlesnake Fire (9/26). I was involved as project leader for the Rattlesnake Overlook and Memorial Trail and went through all the old archive photos from the Stonyford District. I did not see any of Charles Lafferty on the fire, but there were many of him with different crews on projects and at parties that were either Christmas or retirement. She is welcome to come in and look at them anytime. I will be retiring the end of Dec but Phebe Brown the PAO could also help her if she wanted to see them. I couldn't identify him but at the dedication ceremony several people that worked with him or knew him pointed him out in the photos we had. Some of the photos went back into the 30's I think.

Jim
Grindstone RD

I found her contact info and sent her an email. Thanks, Jim. Ab.

10/17 Can someone tell me where I can purchase nomex long underwear (tops and
bottoms)?

Thank you,

DH
Anchorage AK
10/17 I would just like the readers to step back and take a look at the recent
opinions of the "Anchor and Flank" syndrome. This just goes to show how
many different manager types and experienced Firefighters there are out
there. No wonder we do our jobs so well and look good doing it (in most
cases). Thanks to all the operational folks (no offense to the rest) out
there to help get the fires out quickly, efficiently, and safely. We can
all learn to use different tactics and strategies from each other and at
different stages during the fire. This may sound kind of "pink" and all,
but a good firefighter learns from other firefighters and their experiences.
Take care all and enjoy the rest of the season.

Kick'n back in r6
George
10/17 This a question for any CDF officials that would like to answer. I have noticed this
fire season that alot of city and county departments have converted to the nomex
navy blue crewboss pants instead of doubling up. Is there any talk of CDF making
the switch in the near future?

wondering
10/17 Alan Simmons the videographer for Pasadena Fire and well known for his fire videos has a great video of how effective each tactic can/cant be. It is the Old fire day 1 video, it has over a hour of action in Del Rosa and Waterman Canyon on Day one of the Old fire. Various tactics are shown, some very good, some not so good, but it's one of the best live action videos of urban interface firefighting in urban neighborhoods and involves several different apparatus types and strike team uses. All can say that anybody that watches it will have a changed outlook to some of the described tactics being preached today. A ten year old kid with a garden hose saved more than some 400,000 dollar type ones. Would not have believed it till I saw it.

FAE-PM

Alan's link is on the classifieds page under books & videos and he sponsors the fire photos page. We've heard it is good but we haven't seen the video. Ab.

10/17 "Another CDF BC"

In your 10/16 response to Fish and Big Al, you offered a number of tactical alternatives to "anchor and hold" for the first arriving engine company to consider. That list should change throughout the fire season - dependent upon fire conditions, spread pontential and resources available - and be communicated in daily shift briefings and coordinated among agencies.

There needs to be some guidance for acceptable strategy and tactics to guide the independent action that occurs while command and control is being established.

One other comment I have is about fire videos. I don't have a problem with the company you mentioned. Whatever guys want to do on their off-duty time is their business. If a firefighter wants to set up a side-business selling footage of fires, he or she should be given as much access to an incident as any other media outlet. California is a good place to do that: there's a lot of fire and the laws allow for a lot of media access.

My concern is that there is something else going on these days, as evidenced by the Cedar and Tuolumne Fires. The first involved the self-dispatched captain shooting video of his rogue firing ops. The other was the air attack shooting video of the air show, but not understanding where that show should support line construction taking place.

Is someone telling firefighters to "put the friggin' cameras down and do your job"?

vfd cap'n
10/16 Hey all,

Hope everyone is doing well and recovered from the stomach problems (yuck!). Just had a couple of things to throw out to y'all.

First, I just got back from the CA Firefighters Memorial. What an outstanding tribute to the people who lost their lives and to the families who are still trying to get past the pain of this loss. It was a great day and I was able to meet so many people that I have only known as names on this website. I got to meet and talk with the families of the crew of Tanker 26, talk and hug Dee, Daniel Holme's mom, and meet some of the Arrowhead Hotshots and Los Padres firefighters. I also got a chance to talk with Casey Judd. Such an outstanding person, but not nearly enough time to talk. I hope to get a chance to really have a good chat with him in the near future (perhaps Reno?). It was a wonderful day all around.

Second thing is I know that with the fire season winding down I bet you all thought that I would stop pushing for the WFF. WRONG!!! Did you realize that there are only 69 shopping days left until Christmas? Need a stocking stuffer for that someone special? How about a car magnet or pin? What about buying a firefighter the ultimate present of a 52 Club membership? Come on, just because the danger isn't as great off season doesn't mean that accidents don't happen. So let's get out there and support the WFF all year long. It could be an investment in your families well being.

Stay safe.....
Lori Greeno
10/16 Fish-You said it best:

“Doesn't matter if its a bunch of three deckers in Boston or a Del Rosa neighborhood, if one house is catching the next on fire without the veg involved it's not a wildland problem, its a structural one.”

That’s right. It is a structure fire now. If you call pulling up to a burning structure fire, taking a hydrant, deploying an attack line, and suppressing a “structure” fire, “Anchor and Hold,” then I guess technically speaking, that would be a tactic for structure fire fighting. It IS NOT A VIABLE tactic for a wildland or an urban interface fire. It will not work and the fire will continue to spread and consume more and more houses until such time as it decides to go out or somebody shows up and decides to put out the spot fires and flanks and corral the thing.

A bunch of type 1’s in a cul-de-sac hooked up to hydrants squirting every place and hoping for the best may fool and impress the local residents and TV news that have no idea what they are looking at, but you will just be looking completely ineffective and silly on the evening news to your peer group that knows what they are looking at. For a great example of this spend 30 bucks and buy Alan Simmons firestorm 2003 video and watch the first part of it where the action is in your mentioned Del Rosa neighborhood or someplace close by. There are shots of people (CDF engine crew mind you-embarrassing!) whacking away (ventilating-HUH?) at a structure that is obviously a complete loss (while hundreds of others no doubt are threatened, or at least less involved). There are shots of firefighters trying to put out fully involved structures with small handlines, completely ineffective (there had to be an uninvolved house 5-10 away as you say). And then there are the deck guns from SB City, performing what I found out later by reading the great technical paper, was the infamous “anchor and hold” method.

Big AL,

I completely agree with you on your point. If the first engine company (especially type 3, but not limited to the other types fire engines that carry water and hose including type 1 and 2) goes at scene of a wildfire that is beginning to run through a neighborhood, and tactically engages in what some here are calling “structure protection” (defined as sitting at the house, camera in hand watching airtanker and helicopter, possibly eating pizza and locating the lawn chairs) instead of that engine company (especially type 3, but not limited to the other types fire engines that carry water and hose including type 1 and 2) going after the fire performing “perimeter control” (defined as laying hose, mobile attacking, constructing scratch line and maybe burning out the line, coordinating their efforts with the air attack and or helicopter, ect) you will undoubtedly burn down the whole place.

Somebody has to stop the fire spread or at least make an attempt at it. And, you better have an anchor point to work from when you start or you will have an even bigger mess. Be careful working on the head of the fire and know where the escape routes are-there will be no safety zones most likely, just the one you create in the cab of your engine and the accelerator pedal. It will be a game of seconds, so play it that way and keep the hazard controls very tight on your people and know who they are and what they can do. Not a time or place for the slackers, slugs, or newbees most definitely. Your best people only.

“Another CDF BC”
10/16 Ab,

The 2005 Timber Faller Roundtable will be held Dec. 9 & 10 at the OSU Stewart-LaSells Center in Corvallis, OR. The conference focus will be exploring the role commercial timber fallers serve on wildland fire and national emergency incidents, as well as identifying, tracking and mobilizing the commercial timber faller labor force.

Registration for the conference will begin Wednesday, Oct. 19. Specific conference information, keynote speakers, workgroup focus areas, and logistics will be available via www.nwsafallers.org. Online registration is available through OSU Stewart-LaSells Conference Center (link available through www.nwsafallers.org.) Reduced rates are available for those who participate in research focus groups and area specific research interviews.

For those of you concerned with improving the safety and professionalism of commercial timber fallers working on wildland fire incidents, please consider attending and being part of the solution.

“Get Involved. The world is determined by those who show up…”

Thanks
Shari Downhill
10/16 This email was dated 9 days ago but just fell out of the server (or something). Anyway, I was cleaning out mail files and found it. It's a Powerpoint slide show of Katrina response. It's large, 3541K. Pretty amazing set of images. Ab.

Here's the message that came with it:

katrina support:
great slide show let me know if you get this,,

Polo

A reader wrote in that the slide show was done by a photographer with the Fire Department of New York. If anyone knows who and can provide us with info on who we should give credit to, send it in. Otherwise we take the slide show off the server tomorrow morning. It is not fire per se, although it does come under all risk... Ab.

10/16 Another CDF BC,
I may be a bit confused here, but isn't anchor and hold perimeter control? As in the fire stops here?

Does it matter how much you squirt if you're on a good hydrant system with several million gallons in a reservoir? Anchor and hold is a urban tactic that won't work for squat without good hydrant support. Bump and run is a rural tactic that makes the best usage of limited water.

As someone said, structures are just another fuel type. But they're a fuel type that puts out a lot of embers and BTUs. After you write off a structure and move on, how do you propose keeping its neighbor from catching fire? Remember most communities these days have only ten feet or so between structures. Another term for this is structural conflagration. Its no longer a wildland fire. Doesn't matter if its a bunch of three deckers in Boston or a Del Rosa neighborhood, if one house is catching the next on fire without the veg involved it's not a wildland problem, its a structural one.

Again, I'm just trying to learn here, but I don't feel its appropriate to completely write off one option.

Fish
10/16 To: Another CDF BC and others-

Here is my thought on "Structure Protection". I have always felt that if used the tactics of “Anchor and Flank” on every fire, (every time we can safely do so) and completely disregard the structures in the path of the head of that fire, we would burn fewer structures overall. Think about it.

Big Al
10/16 Having read the various posts on structure protection tactics. Would someone
be up to explaining the differences and appropriate use of each in the context of
structure protection, not perimeter control, of anchor and flank, anchor and hold
and bump and run.

Into the wind.
10/16 Hello,

First off great site, I have wasted many of hours sitting and starring at some of you great photos.

I noticed on your equipment page 2 the antique fire engine. The engine is from my department in Healdsburg, CA I just thought you might wanted to know a little more for your description. It is a 1935 Ford American LaFrance it was our first motorized engine. It has never left the city, just thought you might enjoy a little more info. Thanks for putting together such a great site.

-Sam Crenshaw, Healdsburg Fire Department

Thanks Sam and welcome. I'm added the info to the photo description page. Ab.

10/15 Just a note that the National Wildfire Suppression Association will be holding it's 15th Annual Conference at the Peppermill in Reno on February 14-17th 2006. You may download registration forms and get additional info by going to www.nwsa.us and clicking on Event Info. Or email me at info @nwsa.us

We have many exciting workshops, guest speakers and a great Western Theme Auction and Dinner that will benefit NWSA and Wildland Firefighter Foundation!!!

Debbie Miley
Executive Secretary
NWSA
10/15 Sure have seen some rather profound thoughts re: structure protection during a moving wildfire.

Agree with some...don't agree with others. Just remember...if it's your crew that's fighting the red devil...DON'T get in a mind set that one and only one tactic is better than any other. Remain flexible and be able to move. You can be aggressive while safely deploying your resources in a defensive posture. Above all...stay with your people. You're only as good as they are!

COPTER100

10/15 “Anchor and Hold” is a not a tactic. It is wasting water, the engine company, and the structure.
It exposes the rest of the neighborhood to the same fate as the structure being squirted on.

“Anchor and Flank” (Pulaski) is the standard tactic that probably dates to the original Pulaski
and the standard as I remember it.

Perimeter control is what puts out a wildfire. Pretty simple concept really and I can’t figure out
why there needs to be a “definition” of it vs structure protection. Putting the fire out IS structure
protection.

“Structure Protection” that most people see on TV is defined by the homeowner provided pizza
and lawn chairs with fancy Type 1 parked in driveway. It takes a lot of engines to consume that
stuff!

“Another CDF BC”
10/15 Ab,

Re: discussion of "anchor and pucker" fireline tactics
Here's a quiz for readers:
In what year was the following quote made?
A. 1957
B. 1975
C. 1992
D. 2004

"The _________ Fire on county-protected land in southern California last winter typifies a special fire suppression problem which will become of increasing concern to the Forest Service. In the early action on that fire, the county-directed crews had to give first priority to saving lives and property, with second priority attention given to controlling the spread of the fire. There are places now within national forests where Service suppression forces would have to do the same thing, even though such action would mean attacking fires in situations not most advantageous for control. Such action can be exceptionally hazardous for the safety of the fire fighters."

Give your best guess before you Google the answer. Then read the whole report.

vfd cap'n

10/15 Structure protection cant be confined to one set of tactics - ive been doing this long enough to know that every situation has to be addressed individually. A fluid and backed up plan seems to work the best in my experience. I like anchor and hold, cause it sounds like your fighting an enemy - but in the end its a fire that does and goes where it wants there is nothing heroic about staying too long in a situation thats going south. My biggest problem with anchoring tactics is the mindset that may delay crews from withdrawing before its too late.

Anyways thats my 2 cents worth.

Also I just read a article in JAMA concerning Avian flu, and other camp born illnesses. It stated that hand sanitizing stations where people collect can reduce spread of disease by over 90%!!!! The caveat is that everyone needs to do it, so sanitize your hands before and after you eat, brief, porta potties, or reach into that horse trough of iced down drinks.

later and be safe all
Eric

10/15 JMHO,

Anchor and flank.... it works.

Anchor and hold... it doesn't work.

Structures are just another "fuel type" as we all know.

Bump and run tactics (anchor and flank) are still the best for structure protection when a fire enters a community. This tactic has been developed from many years of fire management in the interface areas that has been field truthed time and time again.

The tactics of "anchor and hold" were proven invalid (AGAIN) and useless during the Panorama Fire (1980) and during the Old Fire (2003) as it relates to structure protection. Those tactics did not work then and will not work now. Those that forget those lessons should be doomed (and will be) to repeat the lessons from the past.

Sign Me.....

Just the basics.. Lessons Learned and Not Willing to Repeat The Errors of People with Big Heads who aren't willing to hear a different opinion and discuss it... oooops
10/15 Mellie,

Thanks for the Avian Flu info.... it scares the heck out of me but it is best to be prepared
for the future. I hope it will never happen but I know it eventually will. Avian flu (as do all
the firecamp cruds) has (have) grave concerns for people clustered into firecamps and
providing incident support with poor fire camp facilities for hygiene.

Gizmo
10/15 The lack of discussion about airtankers on this board concerns me.

In 30 years we have not had such a dismal state of affairs regarding the airtanker industry. The last two fire seasons since this upheaval by the USFS have been pretty weak. What is going to happen when we have a bad season and there is no AIR SUPPORT!! It seems to me the first thing ordered on a fire with some potential is more tankers. What is going to happen when there are none available? We are the wealthiest country in the world yet there are countries with far less resources available to them who are modernizing and increasing there fixed wing fire fighting fleet and we are doing absolutely nothing. Does anyone else share these thought and concerns or is it going to be a typical reactive situation and homes and lives are going to have to be lost before we do something about it.

sincerely,

concerned

10/15 "Anchor & Hold" is just another tool in the toolbox, much like the "super scooper".
They are both at the bottom of my toolbox.

If someone chooses to use it, remember how resource intensive it is. I guess if you're
the only show in town then that's OK but during the 2003 siege, our incident could not
get enough engines to have for miles apart while the "anchor & hold" division appeared
to have numerous engines per city block.

There never are enough engines available under multiple fire situations but the "anchor
& hold" tactic even makes them more scarce.

Hopefully the GACC will have future knowledge of tactics being used when allocating
resources.

Stay safe, fire season is not over yet.

Yellow Angel
10/15 "Another CDF BC"

I might have missed something in the discussion thread, but are you
saying that anchor and flank or anchor and hold is not ever a valid tactic?
Care to explain or expand on this?


Pulaski
10/15 Dan,

I got the same stuff after eating the spaghetti on the Thurman Fire. Thank goodness they served it again on the Skye Fire. (Literally, I think they served the leftovers again, two weeks later... it looked the same, tasted the same... and had the same long lasting effects). Word of wisdom to all, if a caterer shows up.... avoid at all costs the "Mom's Pot Roast" they advertise, and the spaghetti if their name advertises the grade they think they deserve.

Competition for caterers was tough due to FEMA assignments to the hurricane relief. Lots of other normally available resources were also not readily available... ie- fuel tenders, shower units, and buying teams. Luckily, these fires were contained early and multiple fires were not occuring in the middle of trying to support a national disaster.

I am sure that the food issues will be brought forward in performance evaluations, safety inspections, and violations of contract terms that were documented by the Logistics Section Chiefs, Food Unit Leaders. and Safety Officers of both fires. (Fingers crossed for someone to actually act).

It may or may not have been the food... but the food is the first place to look. Unfortunately, both fires demobed the caterer before County Health inspectors could arrive. It is so nice to have a gray water blivot leaking between the salad bar and the serving line.... ahhh... the ambiance.

Dan, it was nice meeting you and please make sure you find time to attend the DR reunion next year!! Also, I hope to see you at the FWFSA Conference in December.

Lobotomy
10/14 Sick Crews

Just got back from assignments in Southern California, Thurman on the San Berdo, Staging at Santa Barbara and Sky on the Cleveland. Half the crew is out with some sort of stomach ailment, running to the head every 5 minutes cramping etc. Came home a couple days early because of this disease. Anyone else having similar symptoms on the crews? Sounds like several folks at the dispatch center on the Cleveland were similarly affected. May not have been something they ate. I appreciate any info.

Dan Fiorito, Union IHC

10/14 "Another CDF BC"

I might have missed something in the discussion thread, but are you saying that
anchor and flank or anchor and hold is not ever a valid tactic? Care to explain
or expand on this?

Pulaski
10/14

FWFSA MEMBERS SEEK CONFERENCE REGISTRATION EXTENSION

Despite best laid plans, many FWFSA members are still on assignments in Texas and the Gulf States and have asked me to extend the period for registering for the membership conference in Reno Dec. 2-3.

The previous deadline was tomorrow, October 15th. Instead, we will extend the period for returning the registration cards already sent to our members to NOVEMBER 15TH.

It is important to note however that room reservations must still be made by NOVEMBER 2ND by phoning 800-648-5080 and making reservations by using room code # FWFS5.

Should anyone have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me directly at (916) 515-1224. Hope to see you there.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

10/14 What's with the FS web having really old pages from August!!! being displayed?

Todd

The Forest Service www server failed. They're working on it, but in the meantime relying on the backup pages. I understand some backups are being pulled from June when fire danger was a whole lot different than today. I've heard the webmasters are calling the USUCK helpdesk (actually EUSC) to lodge complaints. Ab.

10/14 Fish,

“Anchor and Hold” is not a viable tactic period in my opinion.
Saw it first hand, seen it on video. Nope.

“Another CDF BC”

10/14 Vicki, <roflmao>

I thought Gweto was a special undercover strong arm, maybe
formerly employed by Vanna White for all I know.

Thanks for the words in support. I aim to serve.

Thanks also for following through on the $$ collecting! How about
emailing folks with a reminder? Is that considered poor form? Or
phone? I could give them a "Mellie call" for ya.

Casey, thanks for the honorary FWFSA membership card.
Awesome! Very nice plastic! When will it get me into Disneyland???
Do I have to present it at the door of the FWFSA Conference to gain
entry?

Mellie

10/13 Hi Everyone,

Vicki Minor was kind enough to show me this site and encourage me to post a note here. I'm more than happy to do it. If you all get a chance, please do check out www.ProjectThankYou.com - it's a website devoted to recognizing unsung heroes like firefighters and police officers, simply enough, by sending thank you notes. How's that for old-fashioned? The current project is First Responders in New Orleans. We'd love to have you all be among the ones who send in notes. Thanks - and thanks to Ms. Minor for the lead here.

Thanks,
greg
10/13 Ab,

I think Vicki is thinking Guido. As in the mafia guy who comes along and enjoys break'in legs.

OA

haw haw. Oopsie, was I supposed to just fix that? Ab.

10/13 Mellie,

Thanks for the post and information about the possible Avian Flu Pandemic.
Our office and family have been talking today about working on a flu plan in case this hits.

Mellie, what I appreciate about your post is that it's not about fear - it's really about wisdom: planning and making good choices. I have never known you to be an alarmist and, again, I see how you just deal with life. Thanks for the research and I'm glad you shared. The information you posted answered some of the questions we've been wondering about here in the office and put some order on all the stuff swirling around out there. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Re the Ken Perry run:

This being the first year for the Ken Perry run, and the first time we've had pledges. We did not sent out snail-mail statements to collect on them (mostly because of the expense).

This is just a kindly reminder to send those pledges in... so we don't have to send Gweto to your office to collect. If you can't remember what you pledged or if you'd like to pay with a credit card, please call. Or, you can do PayPal via our website. We'd like to begin to get some closure on this event (sooner or later)... It was fun.

Vicki Minor
Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
208-336-2996

10/13 Fed

Thanks for the info. What is the H&SWT? I would like to learn more about the
adoption and enforcement of that adoption. Also, what specs for what pieces
of PPE are more stringent in the federal specs?

Jim

H&SWT= NWCG Safety and Health Working Team. Ab.

10/13 Thanks, Lobotomy.

We're hopeful that the grant request will be funded. It's exciting to get the chance to support the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center and work with Dr. Jennifer Thackaberry from Purdue.

If anyone wants to send a letter of support, the address is:

Matt Mayer, Acting Executive Director
Office for State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness
Department of Homeland Security
810 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20531

Our thanks go out to the many "pockets of progressive thinkers" in the wildfire community who have inspired and encouraged us.

vfd cap'n
10/13 RE: Jim

Thanks Jim for the insight on Nomex. So, pretty much the earlier Aramid
Nomex is still "legal", however there is better technology available. So
agencies go with what is provided, which makes complete sense. Thanks
for the info on washing as well. Some of our crew tried to bring that
issue up, when we asked them to wear clean nomex while around our work
center. I myself have never heard of that before, and was unable to find
any info. I do know, that certain soaps, or residues can cause problems,
which is understandable. But a general washing overall does not harm the
nomex's ability to do its job.

Thanks
AH20
10/13 Another CDF BC,

I agree with you that the best possible scenario is to just put the darn fire out. However, that's not always possible. Sometimes the fire is beyond the capabilities of the resources you have. Do you spend an hour driving dirt roads to the bottom of a river drainage to properly anchor and flank a fire that started at the bottom when the fire will have burned homes at the top well before then? I hope not.

Anchor and hold is just another option just like bump and run. I'm assuming that if you don't like one, you don't like the other? I've walked through hundreds of homes destroyed in 2003. One thing that struck me in the areas I worked was that the fire was carried from structure to structure. Vegetation was not involved in the fire spread in the neighborhoods. Just how do you anchor and flank with a handcrew when the fire is "crowning" in the shake shingles? These fires ceased to be a veg fire and became a structural conflagration, necessitating a change in tactics.

That's my take... but I'm willing to learn.

Fish

10/13 USDA Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Briefing Paper

Date: October 5, 2005
Topic: Constraining WFSU Funds for Aviation

Issue: Utilization of WFSU for aviation resources has been constrained by an OMB Footnote in the Agency’s FY 2006 Wildland Fire Apportionment. The constraint will adversely affect the Agency’s ability to suppress wildfire and significantly hinder relationships with cooperators.

Background: OMB inserted the following language in the Apportionment: “Not more than $100 million of suppression funds is available for acquisition of aviation resources five days after submission of an Exhibit 300”. The Agency utilizes suppression funds for initial attack and large fire support aviation resources. The Agency is preparing an Exhibit 300 for aviation resources, but it is not complete at this time.

Key Points:

Exhibit 300: The Forest Service awarded a contract in September 2005 to complete an Exhibit 300 for all Forest Service aircraft. Phase I of the contract includes airtankers and is scheduled for completion in March 2006. The scheduled completion date for all aircraft is February 2007.

  • Requiring an Exhibit 300 prior to expending funds will effectively shutdown the Forest Service’s aviation program in FY 2006 with the exception of some limited use of airtankers late in the fiscal year.
  • Implications of this action would be those stated below, only increased in magnitude until such time as the Exhibit 300 was completed.

Funding Constraint: Aviation traditionally accounts for approximately thirty percent of total suppression expenditures, in FY 2005 these cost were $180 million through September 21, 2005.

  • A spending limitation of $100 million dollars reduces capability 50 to 75 percent. The reduction would eliminate use of a significant portion of the fleet and would be necessary to assure that the remaining aircraft are managed and operated safely and efficiently.

Implications: The requirement of an Exhibit 300 pre expenditure of funds or implementation of the funding constraint has significant implications to Forest Service and cooperators’ suppression activities, including:

  • Reduced initial attack success rate; the current rate of 99% could be expected to drop into the low 90’s resulting in additional large fires (those greater than three hundred acres).
  • Increased loss of government and private property. Some of this loss could be mitigated through ground based resources subject to availability and timing of the incident.
  • Increased resource damage and environmental impacts such as: loss of habitat and air and water quality degradation.
  • Increased demand for ground based Agency and cooperator resources to respond to larger and longer duration fires.
  • Reduced capability to support federal partners and state, county, and local governments due to loss of aviation capability and resulting increased demand for ground based resources.

Contact: Bill Breedlove, Branch Chief, Fire Planning, 202-205-0996

Sign me......

Ya... this has to be shared.... oops

10/13 I came across this great grant proposal to improve wildland firefighter safety. Thanks Colorado Firecamp for continuing to get the word out that wildland firefighting can be made safer. You are A+ in my mind.

www.coloradofirecamp.com/etc.pdf (pdf file)

This is a relatively low dollar grant request that would pay significant dividends in the future when it comes to wildland firefighter lessons learned and safety. I hope the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters grant program see's it the same way. No less than $32,500,000 has been allocated for the FY2006 program to support firefighter and public safety. The entire Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program received a whopping $650,000,000 allocation for grants in FY06. We, as wildland firefighters, families and friends, need to make it loud and clear that this grant proposal needs to be funded and that wildland firefighting safety needs to be addressed.

FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program: www.firegrantsupport.com/fp_about.aspx

It would also be nice to see a grant applied for to study the health hazards of wildland firefighting in the future. Maybe a comprehensive study will someday be done to study the synergistic effects of exposures to smoke, radiation (natural and man-made), lifestyle (smoking, obesity, etc...), toxins, and repetitive physical exertion as it relates to premature "natural death" in so many of our wildland firefighters. We concentrate on the burn-over fatalities as we rightly should, but we seem to lose the fact that there are possibly hundreds of wildland firefighters dying well before their time each and every year due to other hazards we have yet even began to quantify or understand.

Lobotomy
10/13 About fire jobs with the Fish and Wildlife Service...

There is good and bad with all wildland fire agencies. The good with FWS? You can be recognized as you are a fish in a small pond, and if you do good, management will see it. Good training opportunities, too (usually). Good GS grade advancement, also, when compared to other agencies.

It is an agency run by biologists, so the 401 series is king (and they have almost always hired 401 series FMOs and AFMOs). So a college degree is highly valued in the agency.

The bad? In MOST Regions of the FWS, you (as FMO or AFMO) work for the Refuge Manager. Engine Bosses work for the FMO or AFMO, BUT.... The concept of "Congressionally allocated FIRE dollars", nationally available resources, and a "help other agencies when needed" is perceived by Refuge Managers on a case-by-case basis. In other words, Refuge Managers often want to use you at home (fence projects, road grading, duck counts, public hunt administration, biological work). I was told once that the biotechs couldn't do fence work, as they "had important work to do". Like fire work is not important. Some FMOs have to go ask the Refuge Manager what he/she has the fire crew doing today, as the Refuge Manager may not quite follow the "chain of command".

For a lot of Refuge Managers (not all!!) Dispatch Plans, Staffing Plans, Task Book completion, Fire Management Plan updates, those are low priority (unless non-completion threatens the flow of fire dollars). And some Refuge Managers view a Task Book completion as a "one-time" assignment. In other words, if you completed it, you don't need to go out again in that position unless currency is an issue. And they want to know how that position (or the next) will benefit their Refuge (maybe their Region, too, as they are very good at helping "neighboring refuges" with personnel, equipment, etc). Individual Development Plans (IDPs) assist is justifying some training/positions.

If the Refuge Manager's supervisors at the Regional Office tell them to do something, they do it. The Office of Aircraft Services (AMD now) says something is required? The Regional Office said nothing about it, so they will not adhere to the OAS's directions as far as requirements for ACE training, etc.

Most of the Refuge Managers in place right now grew up with the agency's staffs doing "prescribed burns". They burned thousands and thousands of acres with little training, and really, they did a pretty good job. So they don't really grasp all the nuances of fire training, safety, fire planning, etc that we have to deal with today.

The first crop of FMOs to hit the FWS Refuges in the last 15 years have changed many refuges for the better as far as fire management goes. There are still some refuge managers out there that just want the fire dollars and personnel, but could care less about fire management. Many refuge managers viewed the fire money as an answer to their prayers for maintenance money and personnel ("What does that refuge need a maintenance person for, they have a fire crew!"). And the first crop of FMOs in the agency fought that long battle. Some made progress at prioritizing fire as the proper use of fire dollars, some are still at it. Some Refuge Managers retired or moved on to the Regional Offices, some FMOs moved on, also.

My advice? Check with NEIGHBORING FMOs and AFMOs wherever the jobs are being advertised. If you call the FWS Regional Fire Office, they will try to sell you the job to get someone in that position (they might not tell you the whole truth). The neighboring refuge FMOs will shoot straight, tell you the pros and cons of that particular job, and give you some insight as to why the last guy (and the guy before that) left that refuge. And if the job is working for an FMO, the neighboring FMOs will tell you the straight scoop about the FMO currently in the position.

And talk to guys that have left that agency's fire program. They are out there. Dig a little.

When the FWS decided to go all out for fire (about 1990), a question was posed to the Fire guru (a staff of one PFT at the time) for FWS at BIFC: "Frank, where are you going to get all those fire people for your agency?" His reply: "We are going to buy them from the USFS, BLM, NPS, and BIA." And they did. So most FMOs have experience outside the FWS, so they will know your point-of-view. Good luck.

LIONA

10/13

Avian Flu Pandemic: Implications for Fire

Thoughts from Mellie
10/10/05

This email is to give a heads up on a global and national situation -- an influenza pandemic -- that is likely to involve the IMTs* and all-risk wildland firefighters sooner or later. A pandemic is an epidemic that affects the entire world almost simultaneously, usually causing great illness and great loss of life. This flu pandemic will not be caused by one of our garden-variety, get-your-current-flu-shot type of virus strains, but by a mutated bird flu virus - H5N1 - that's new to mankind. Human bodies have no experience with it and no natural immune defenses against it. Right now the human mortality rate from H5N1 is 52% but this may decrease with further mutations as it's beneficial to a virus not to kill all of its hosts.

Currently our country and the world are not prepared with a vaccine to prevent this flu or with antiviral medication (Oseltamivir, aka Tamiflu), a prophylactic that may increase a person's chance of surviving infection. In addition, the United States is not ready with national or local plans to mitigate the spread of pandemic disease once it gets to the U.S. or to deal with the associated chaotic disruptions that widespread illness and death are likely to bring.

As you undoubtedly have heard, there is a growing discussion among world policy makers and epidemiologists regarding virus H5N1 and the growing likelihood the world will face a human influenza pandemic similar to the pandemic of 1918-19. I have been following the epidemiological developments relating to H5N1 for about a year with growing concern.

If you're having trouble getting your head around the implications of PANDEMIC, join the crowd. The first psychological response to the "worst case scenario" must be the "deer in the headlights" syndrome. I sat down to write about this three weeks ago, but unlike my normal self, found I was unable to "speak the unspeakable". As many of you know, my personal "Deep Survival" style is to "just get busy and figure it out", make some decisions, do it and move on. Normally, like most of you, I define the problem, do the research, strategize for the worst while hoping for the best, and if appropriate, share what I've learned with family, friends and colleagues, then act on my best choices. I usually move through the process fairly quickly, sometimes with radical and surprising results.

Not so this time... It's taken me a bit longer with this PANDEMIC situation to get to the sharing stage... The reason I'm sharing now is that I feel that ICS* and NIMS* will be an important structure for responding to a pandemic. No doubt the federal incident management teams will be called to serve. Whether you and our groundpounders choose to go in harm's way, you should have the facts as best they are known, know what to look for as the world-wide disease situation develops, know what PPE* and safety behaviors are necessary (but far from sufficient) to protect yourselves, and consult with your families to develop a family survival plan. No one can think clearly while on assignment if they're worried for their family at home.

OK, so what is the potential for pandemic of this avian flu?
There are three prerequisites for a PANDEMIC to develop: 1) ...

HERE's where to read the rest of Mellie's research, including suggestions for planning. Ab.

10/12 NRP, ICS, NIMO, NIMS, the MEL organization, recognition of expertise, divergence of fire
mission from the land management mission and so on...

I've been thinking about it and I've come to some conclusions:
  • The National Response Plan is only as valuable as the Incident Command System pieces.
  • The only people who know and really understand how ICS works are wildland firefighters.
  • The Department of Homeland Security doesn't get it. The people in charge don't even listen
    to the people who know what's going on with ICS.
  • DoI leadership doesn't have a clue, I've recently discovered.
  • Higher up DoA fire people get it to some degree but don't seem to have the will to support
    or protect our Fire Forces. Those firefighters are now All Risk.
  • Our Public doesn't understand.
  • No one in (supposed) WO leadership positions seems to care that to get people into IMT
    positions you have to work with them from the ground up. It would make so much more
    sense financially to build our Fire Forces to be the best professionals possible and then
    to retain them as the valuable resource they are.
  • We need policy and budget in place for ICS and the IMTs to work.
  • What will it take for this country, including DHL and FEMA, and those in charge of the
    Land Management Agencies to discover they're throwing away excellent developing
    young professionals?
  • What if this country has another National Emergency with some real RISK attached to it
    and no one comes? Unfortunately, I think that could be a real possibility.

In my opinion, wildland firefighters need to quit enabling the non-protection of our fire forces. I
think they need to say "LOOK, WE NEED A BUDGET LINE THAT FUNDS US FOR THE
PROFESSIONAL WORK WE DO!"

OK Ab, done with my rant!
Tahoe Terrie

10/12 I would like some information on working for the CDF. I have read most
of the information on the dept. site and am in the process of applying
but I would like some tips from someone familiar with the CDF and the
best way to get hired. Currently I am a FFT1 with the Forest Service
and an EMT.

Thanks
ST

Ab would be happy to pass any info on.

10/12 Let me make sure I understand this. R-5 is shutting down helicopters. Fire funds won't make it through 3/4's of a year? "Unsigned" said 80 million less for firefighting aircraft contracts in 2006 nationwide?

When is somebody in the WO going to stand up and speak the truth about the fire budget situation in the Forest Service. Does anyone have the guts?

We won't allow you to ruin our MEL organization without a fight!!! Each Forest worked hard to build this MEL organization and were not going to just give it away by loading our fire engines and crew buggies on semi's only to be shipped one-way to some foreign country to use.

FWFSA, your members need your help. We ask you to ask them one question: "Will the Forest Service maintain 2005 levels of firefighting capabilities in 2006?". Ask anyone you like until we get an answer.

I don't think to many elected officials or taxpayers for that matter will be happy to hear the employees (First Responders) in these photos could be reduced. USDA, DOI and DOD First Responder/Wildland Firefighters have many skills and multiple talents. The Administration wants to maintain budgets for FEMA, Homeland Security and DOD, why would you even think of reducing Americas single largest group of Wildland/All-Risk Emergency First Responders from DOI, USDA Forest Service and DOD that are called upon in large numbers in times of crisis.

www.mysanantonio.com

To those up high--------> Don't be afraid to tell the truth. Don't be afraid to fight for what's right!

Signed,

No way, no how!
and
Watching your decisions closely!
10/12 Re the age limitations for fed fire
STL/TFL Greg,

I agree with ya, I think its a bunch of BS. Just can't believe in this day and age with all the discrimination issues that the federal government has been involved with that this still plagues the forest service. You can't discriminate against veterans, women, ethnicity's, cultures, religion, etc., but god for bid we higher someone that can do a the job, is in good shape, has a lot of knowledge both on the job and off. But we still can't get past this dumbass rule. Sorry just venting.

SoCal. FF

10/12 Someone sent me this -

"The best overview of FEMA history I've seen:"
http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Perrow/

Sign me... no name
10/12 Howdy!

Couldn't resist getting in on this latest discussion on the last big bad fire in southern California.

I have to say how surprised I am that everyone always thinks someone else is hording resources and they're not getting what they should on their fire.

Folks at the South Ops GACC work pretty well with other fire managers in the So Cal area to coordinate resources to manage initial attack and existing fires. This goes for federal, state, county, and local folks. As a general rule, initial attack is always a priority and can divert resources from going fires even if there is an active structure threat because the potential resource draw of new large fires is a big threat and the resource draw and existence of another large fire (or several) usually results in a threat to more structures, people, infrastructure, etc. The only other thing that would trump this is an known threat to human life like an un-evacuated community. Management of draw down and effective capacity includes threat management, and mitigation of these threats through a focus on initial attack is a key priority. Even during the fall So Cal fires of 2003, initial attack was a priority even though those fires were threatening thousands of structures, because if any new large fires would have occurred, there were simply no resources to put on them. Keeping new fires small prevents you from finding yourself in a situation where there are not enough resources to go around later on.

- still learning
10/12 Mellie -

In response to whatever you were asking about oil spills, responsibility for that normally falls under ESF-10, and the response is usually managed by the Coast Guard, who use ICS and are apparently pretty good at incident management as well as fire folks. Environmental spills and damage, etc. seems to be managed under ESF-11 if it doesn't fall under ESF-10. Other than specialists who work in environmental assessment in the land management agencies, it is not highly likely for wildland fire fire folks to need to deal with this type of response.

This interest in safety and recent discussions I think are highly important. I don't think the value of the Safety Officer on the IMTs and within the ICS organization can be stressed enough when it comes to all risk, and the responses to your questions from everyone are right on.

I don't think, however, that agencies always have all the answers at any one time on an incident, despite the environmental monitoring and safety briefings that occur. I am still not convinced that the toxic cloud in NY after 9/11 was not extremely hazardous to those around it and I'm not sure, but I don't think that all the possible monitoring was in place around the towers that could have been as is often the nature of disasters. The Los Alamos wildland fire suppression I think is also debatable since it occurred on old DOE lands which are well known to be polluted with lord knows what.

I don't know about the previous avian flu incidents that fire teams have been on (different avian flu than the current really bad stuff in Asia), but the exotic newcastle's disease response involved very careful monitoring of fire folks who were involved. Once it was discovered that fire crews were working directly with the chickens, changes were made as I understand it and those crews were pulled out of direct contact and replaced with folks who were vet techs, etc.

Agency liaisons are put in lots of locations for these all-risk disaster things to monitor stuff and make sure folks are taken care of. In the same way individuals have responsibility for looking out for their own safety and those working with them on wildfires, individuals have a responsibility for speaking up if they are uncomfortable in an all risk situation. I have a sense that both in the wildland fire and related law enforcement communities, people have been very careful in this Katrina/Rita response that fire/LE folks that have been deployed have been associated with IMTs and the corresponding safer network, and in this case especially, safety net (food, logistics, etc).

Just my thoughts...

~safety fan~
10/12 Ab,

I was just wondering, when are they going to update
the SACC crew type teams? I have a family member gone
for the second time and usually they keep up but this
time, nothing. I rely on this web site to check up on
the crew. You could be very helpful.

concerned for loved one.
10/12 Out applying:

It does seem like I've run into more Fish and Wildlife folks who have taken
wildfire assignments in recent years. The folks I talked to said their
bosses supported wildfire assignments because it keeps everyone better
prepared to handle rx burning.

I knew of one person who had trouble adjusting when switching between
natural resource agencies. The change did not include Fish and Wildlife but
her experience is worth noting. Things you might take for granted such as
flex time or a climate that discourages micro-management and other
"intangibles" can be very different with another agency. It might be worth
noting what you do like in your current job situation (not just the job
description) and asking the new folks how they operate.

Still Out There as an AD
10/12 To Out Applying:

I've worked for all four land management agencies and I enjoyed working for FWS the best. A smaller agency, less bureaucratic, and we got experience unparalleled in any other job I had. We weren't just rotorheads, or handcrews, or RX people, we did it all. I can't say enough about the support and training I had with those folks. Of course this could be different in other states. We went on fires 12 months out of the year.

Hope this helps.

M
10/12 Here is a quote,

"Aviation traditionally accounts for approximately 30% of total suppression expenditures, in FY 2005 these costs were $180 million through September 21, 2005.

A spending limitation of $100 million dollars reduces capability 50 to 75 percent. The reduction would eliminate use of a significant portion of the fleet and would be necessary to assure that the remaining aircraft are managed and operated safely and efficiently."

With a 40 million dollar deficit for Region 5, it looks like MEL build up might be MEL draw down.

unsigned...

10/12 I personally like the concept of “Anchor and Hold!” NOT!

Sheeeesh.

Put the fire out. That is “Structure Protection.”

“Another CDF BC”
10/12 concerning NFPA 1977...

The Federal Agencies, through NWCG, did adopt NFPA 1977...though some
of our specs are more stringent than what NFPA 1977 has... but just thought you
should know that through the H&SWT these standards were adopted.

Fed

10/11 Thanks to Tony Duprey, Mike Preasmeyer, MS, and all, for the support. Thanks to Rogue Rivers for keeping us honest and awake and to Ab for this website and your timely wisdom when needed.

Just a final comment. The best structure protection is to put the fire out before the fire gets to the structure. This is perimeter control. Once it gets there, what is structure protection? Structure protection is using fundamental wildland fire tactics to put the fire out around the structure. Direct Attack with hose lines, constructing dozer and hand lines around structures, firing out those lines, helicopter and air drops to slow fire spread and reduce fire intensity so direct attack is manageable. These are the same tactics we use on typical wildland fires. There are additional safety issues. Like being in the green at the fire’s head. And once the structure catches fire, there are issues of training and equipment to suppress the structure fire. But this concept of Structure Protection doesn’t need to be such a big deal. We can do both. Why do we have to order type I engines for structure protection and why do we create a Structure Branch? And why does the Structure Branch or Group have to be a local government fire chief? Type III engines are just as capable of protecting structures, if not more, than type I engines, there’s just not as many and may not always be available. But a lot of times they are and the request is for type I’s. We need those type III’s, whether the green or red or rainbows, both to protect homes and for use in perimeter control when the type I’s can’t reach the fight.

I don’t use Structure Branches very often. I put my Structure Groups in my geographic branches and my Divisions can also do structure protection in addition to perimeter control. Structure Groups are formed in advance of the fire where you have time for prep and planning. This way the appropriate Operations overhead can move their resources interchangeably between structure protection and perimeter control or accomplish both simultaneously without having another layer of supervision to deal with.

Last, we should be putting our best operations supervisors into these positions, not just the local government fire chief that shows up. We are using wildland tactics as mentioned earlier. Structure protection may be what the local fire chief is most comfortable with and many, especially contract county chief officers, have a lot of wildland and structure experience. But not always, especially city departments, and it is unfair to give someone who is not familiar with wildland fire tactics the job of structure protection on these major incidents. Some states have the structure departments with one foot on the porch, I say, go after it when you have the chance, if you're properly trained and equipped, the best structure defense is put the fire out before it gets there!

For more on this discussion, I’ll see you in San Diego at Firehouse World and in March at the IAFC Wildland Conference in Phoenix.

Thanks again, Ab for this forum. The winds will blow again starting Thursday in s.cal and we’ll be ready.

Kelley Gouette

Good comments. Be safe all. Ab.

10/11 Hi all-

I'm considering defecting from my current agency to the Fish and Wildlife Service. My current boss and I are not seeing eye to eye on how to manage my program so I'm looking at a couple of open jobs with the FWS. I'd just like some feedback from current or former fish and wildlife folks on their agency, both the pros and the cons.

I know they are prescribed burning focused in the fire world but I've never worked too closely with the agency.

Any words of wisdom?
out applying
10/11 Word is getting around that a major shut down in rotorwing aircraft late this week in R-5 due to lack of funding and just in time for another forecasted wind event in So Cal.

Anyone know what's going on? My Division Chief tells me unless we get severity we will be out of funds come April 2006 on the Ranger District.

Has the WO not read the long term forecasts?

Is anything being done to let people know that first responders in the Forest Service are not receiving the funding needed to maintain what we have built up the past few years?

Signed,

It's time to make sure the people know the truth !!!!!!!!!
10/11 AH20
Aramid vs. Nomex, well they are sort of the same thing. It is all a matter of marketing. Aramid was the original name of the fiber that was made of Nomex, but they did not call it Nomex then. The fiber was then woven into fabric and made into fire resistant clothing. Nomex is a trademarked name of the Dupont Company. Try this site for more info:

www.dupont.com/nomex/index.phpl

Nomex is actually a chemical composition that can be manipulated into different forms. They consolidated all their product lines made from that chemical under the name Nomex several years ago. Its' inherent flame resistant properties, flexibility in manifestation and inert properties make it useful in many industries. Dupont no longer makes the "old versions" of Nomex fiber so no mills can get the fiber to weave the fabric and no manufacturers can get the fabric to sew the shirts. (We get the "where can I get the old shirts?" question at least once a month.) Agencies have switched to these fabrics because they are the ones that are available. However, there are different weaves that vary on how "soft" they feel. Nomex does not lose its' flame resistant properties due to washing or wear. So the life of the garment is judged on how long its durability and structural integrity last. Washing and use may leave behind some undesirable residue though. In the structure world, there is much concern on what types of ethyl methyl bad stuff remain in the garments after use, some that could be flammable or hazardous. There are strict guidelines on cleaning and maintaining structure gear. Those same concerns are entering the wildland side. With NFPA ever present, similar cleaning and maintenance standards may be coming to fireline near you in the future!

Mollysboy
I know that recent Federal contracts for producing wildland clothing have included the requirement that the garments meet NFPA 1977. (This was not true 5 to 8 years ago.) However, I don't think federal agencies have "adopted" NFPA. Otherwise, a lot of folks would have to get rid of their boots and some would have to get rid of their helmets. Adoption to me would require all employees to only use PPE that is certified, and I do no think that is the case at the federal level for all pieces of PPE. Doubt it is true for most states and I certainly see a huge range in acceptance on the VFD and rural side.

Jim

10/11 Rotorhead wannabe,

Oops! As my kids would say "My bad!" . When I gave you the addresses for the job search, I made a mistake on the USAjobs one. The correct address is www.usajobs.opm.gov. If you tried the other one, you know by now that my brain was disconnected that day! Hope this helps you out.

Lori
10/11 Thanks Kelley!!! As I said before, great job on the Topanga Fire. You answered my questions.

All that the news was portraying was shots of airtankers and engines protecting structures. It would give the appearance to people from outside of California that wildland firefighters only protect structures and never put fires out until the weather changes. When you said "federal involvement was minimal" it hit a nerve. I thought of all of the federal resources that weren't being given credit for the work they were doing and that the fire had requested a FMAG (FEMA Fire Management Assistance Grant) in the first few hours for federal assistance.

I was pretty sure that perimeter control was happening but everyone who was watching the footage live on national TV never saw it.... and the PIOs only talked about how they were protecting the structures.

I talked to some folks from LACO and Ventura County that were in command functions during the onset and transition of the fire this the weekend. They explained pretty well why it took so long to divert aircraft. They felt it was about immediate vs. potential structural threat (the CA policy of new fire has precedence vs. CA policy of No Divert during structural threat) and lots of political pressures from multiple jurisdictions. They too felt it was not a perfect fire but there were lessons to be learned... just like every fire.

The questions about perimeter control vs. protect a structure(s) have been hotly debated for a long time. Your explained a good mix of both tactics that were used effectively on the Topanga Fire. It's a hard decision to balance structure protection vs. perimeter control.

Rogue Rivers
10/11 LW was looking for his 1/2 brother

LW, i just saw your query from 08/25/04 and i think i can help.
post a note here with a way to contact you.
i'll check back here and in 'they said' now and then.

okj3

Ab may have that contact info. We'll check.

10/11 Ab,

Can anyone tell me why their is still a Max entry age limit for the federal government? As long as they have a pack test and a doctors release should be able to compete for federal jobs. I say this because I'm 43 years old and still can keep up with the 18 year olds, each year I take the pack test and refresher, each year I'm incharge of a strike team of engines.

I even went to court ( lost the case), federal government stated they have ever right to discriminate age to keep a young work force according to the rules set back in the early 50's. What will it take to change this rule?

OLD TIMER? THINK NOT!!

STL/TFL Greg
10/11 AH20 - the fabrics industry is constantly trying to provide better protection and better "wearability". They've gone from Nomex to Nomex 3 to Nomex 3A, and continue to work on new products that meet and exceed our current requirements - that's how progress is made, either in wildland fire PPE or vehicles ("Where can I still get one of those good running Edsels??")

If a PPE product can be certified under NFPA 1977 (2005 edition), it meets the requirements for use on a wildland fire managed by those agencies (all Feds, most States and rurals) that subscribe to the NFPA Standard process.

Mollysboy
10/10 We're pleased to welcome and announce a new advertiser, Type One Incident Support, of Bend, Oregon.

They may be found on the Classifieds Page under Specialty Products and are also sponsoring the helicopter photo pages. Type One is a product distribution company and technical information source for the SEI Industries Bambi Bucket, Fireflex Tanks and Environmental Containment product lines. They are also a supplier of Phos-Chek Class A foam, The Rookie Sidekick portable fire hose rollers, Timberline Hose Clamps and Madd Dog foam nozzles. See their website for more information at their nice new web site at www.typeoneproducts.com

Ab.

10/10 Redding IHC outreach for 2006 is posted. I put a link on the jobs page, too.

Original Ab has moved the News page to our main wildlandfire.com website. If you have an old link to wildlandfire2.com or to the old news page location, correct it. We be consolidating.

Ab.

10/10 Hello,

I am looking for some information on the older style, aramid
shirts. Is there a reason why most agencies have switched to the more
coarse knit nomex shirts? If the aramids are still within regulation,
where can they be purchased, or are they still made? If they are not
made, does anyone have any sitting around they want to get rid of?

Also, is there a point in which the regular nomex material, loses it's
effectiveness with washing? Or, what is the life span of the nomex
shirts/pants?

Thanks
AH20

10/10 Tony,

I 2nd that. Kelley G and Tracy G are both excellent interagency cooperators. Kelley and retired Deputy Chief Dan Dulitz always took the extra effort to come over say hi and see how things are going.

Tracy's firecracker and can-do attitude with fire training is a huge plus for local departments, CDF and the feds.

We all have within our departments those that don't want to play nice. Call it attitude, selfishness or whatever you like. Without question Kelley G is not one of those. He's the type you want in the foxhole with you.

In this media hyped world called Southern California, it's not always easy to send a consistent message. However regardless of the agency we work for, we all need to watch each other's back and do the best we can, which in my opinion is a dam good job.

Last thing we need is a New Orleans type scenario with political leaders, fire and police chiefs going in 25 different directions during are next So Cal fire siege. Because if that were to happen, what on earth would we do with that famous statue of RQ?

Signed,
MS
Keep smiling Ray! (come visit soon, the troops on the ground would like to meet you before the end of the season)

10/10 Prior to my retirement this July, I had the pleasure of working with Kelley Gouette as his CDF Battalion and my Forest Service Battalion adjoined and overlapped. During my tenure in that Battalion, Kelley always requested our green (Forest Service) resources for his (CDF) wildland fires, supporting both the interagency cooperation and closest available resources concept.

Kelley was and is a fantastic supporter of interagency cooperation and a highly skilled and effective firefighter, as are his Ranger Unit resources. Kelley planned and organized many fantastic drills in our mutual response areas that were highly effective in bringing multiple fire organizations together for planning and hands on working together that promoted interagency cooperation and effectiveness.

Kelley, twas a pleasure working with you and I can tell by your posts here that your high degree of professionalism is still intact…

Only the facts!!

Tony Duprey
10/9 Teaching about fire in the U.S. overseas

A friend of mine asked me if I would teach a class in Europe about fire in the U.S.
Needs to be about 30-45 min in length. Any idea where to start? Is there a
presentation out there that I could use? Any info would help. Thanks.

jagerjustin@hotmail.com

Who is the audience? If you know that, you've got a starting place. Ab.

10/9 Topanga Fire: Responding to issues raised by Rogue Rivers.

You are correct in my overlooking federal resources assigned to Topanga. I mentioned the aircraft, crews and engines but not in complete or detailed format. Fatigue was a bit of a factor as well as the limited time I had to respond and trying to do my job as an OSC. I am not “defending” why the federal cooperators were not mentioned in the 209. They should have been. I was trying to point out that it was a large incident and in the “big picture” of 3,000 personnel assigned, the federal involvement was relatively small in comparison with most wildland fires in California where there is a large federal presence regardless of jurisdiction. And you are right the NPS was part of the unified command. Sometimes things get overlooked and we need to do better. I was merely suggesting that sometimes things are overlooked and that this was not deliberate. The t-shirt vendor left off Ventura County from the Topanga t-shirt, but included the USFS which had no jurisdictional authority, it was NPS. And yes we need to do better with the 209 than a t-shirt vendor does with their product.

Perimeter control? There was perimeter control after the incident acquired type III engines and we went after it. Perimeter control was minimal on initial and extended attack. The focus was on structure protection. And that doesn’t mean the fire wasn’t being fought. There was a lot of good firefighting done in backyards as the fire burned to the edge of those houses. Structure protection is using wildland fire techniques to conduct perimeter control around homes. This happened. Was the incident aggressive in going after the fire before it got to the houses? Some agencies just aren’t as comfortable with that as others and if they’re not comfortable with it from a safety perspective, that’s okay. They didn’t get anyone hurt. As we received a few type III engines, crews and dozers, and some experienced operations overhead, we went after it very aggressively and put the fire out before it jumped the 101 freeway. As I flew the fire I saw several roads that could have been improved with a dozer and fired by type III engines as the fire was in a backing mode. We secured permission from the NPS to construct the line but by the time this was done and the resources in place, the fire had crossed the road and made a slope reversal running towards homes on the SE corner of the fire threatening the 101 freeway. That night we constructed line behind LAC station 125 and fired out securing that line. Next day when the onshore winds returned (like we knew they would and had planned for) we had line completed across the top so as to “close the backdoor” and we fired out the dozerline and Albertson motorway to secure the north end. What needs to be put into perspective is that, for the first time in history, a major wildfire under Santa Ana conditions, was contained before jumping the 101 freeway and burning all the way through Malibu to the Pacific Ocean.

As for the last shot regarding hoarding of resources, that’s just nonsense. The fire in Burbank asked for help on initial attack. We sent air tankers and helicopters. When the fire was 50 acres the second morning, we diverted air tankers, type I and II helicopters, a dozer S/T and a crew S/T per their request. We released additional air tankers, type III engines S/T’s, all of the hotshot crews and federal resources ASAP so they could be re-assigned to BDF. Ask Monterey and the LPF S/T if I sandbagged them. EVERY SPECIFIC REQUEST I received as the Operations Chief, I accommodated. Did we have resources staged? Absolutely! We kept 8 S/T’s of engines and three handcrews in staging as a contingency during the 3 day wind event that occurred when the fire was 90% contained. We had 50-60 mph sustained winds, embers blowing across the line and at one point had 1 S/T of engines and 1 S/T of crews left in staging. Those staged resources WERE utilized and we DID hold the fire. Can you imagine the political fallout if we'd had a breakout after the fire was 90% contained? It would have been Oakland Hills all over.

Sorry, Ab for the rant! This was not a perfect incident, haven’t been to one yet. But the cooperation and unified command effort amongst the agencies was the best I’ve ever seen in the “Bermuda Triangle” that is LA, Ventura, and LAC and great strides have been made. I’m out!

Kelley Gouette

10/9 To Mellie:

You said...

"When a request goes out to Type I Teams to manage a non-fire emergency,
what's the procedure for assessing safety?"

...The procedure is the same as it is for a fire.

"Are firefighters notified if their safety may be compromised?"

...You're kidding here, right? Teams have Safety Officers that do exactly that.

"Is there something in the ordering process that advises teams, crews, and
other resources of the potential risks associated with the assignment?"

...Yes, it's called the in-briefing and the other briefings teams hold - just the same as a fire.

"Do team members discuss safety prior to deployment?"

...Do you think teams forget about their commitment to safety just because it isn't a fire?

"Are members of a team ever really free to beg off an assignment ?"

...It isn't the army - someone can quit if they want to.

"The more cohesive the team, the harder to question risks and opt out?"

...Exactly the opposite - the more cohesive the team, the easier to question risks.

"This past year our Type I Incident Management Teams spent 37% of their time on
"hurricane duty". Including other non-fire duties that teams performed last year, it's
estimated teams spend more than 50% of their time on non-fire incidents. In past years
teams have had chicken choking assignments, dealing with terrorist attack following 9/11,
fighting fire in areas with radioactive risks (Cerro Grande/Los Alamos) and other
"all-risk" non-fire assignments.
What discussions regarding safety preceded those deployments?"

...The briefings - in-briefing and daily. Teams don't just go in blind - there are agency administrators and staff to brief them, no matter what the assignment.

"We assume that we know the risks associated with fighting fire. We work long and
hard at keeping people safe on fire assignments. What about the rest of the assignments?"

...That doesn't change just because it's not a fire.

Sin Nombre

10/9 NCGroundPounder

You can find most of your information concerning the NW Regional contract for crews, engines and water tenders on the Internet.

The Regional Engine/Water Tender Contracts are administered by the R6 USFS and can be found at www.fs.fed.us/r6/ppm/fire_procurement. You should also be able to find information on the "National Crew Contracts" on this website.

The Regional Crew Contracts are administered by the Oregon Department of Forestry and can be found at www.oregon.gov/odf/index. It's a little difficult to navigate but you need to go to "Divisions", "Forest Protection Division", "Fire in the Forest", "Fire Fighting Resources", "Contractor Associations".

The NWSA (National Wildfire Suppression Association) is a contractor association and their website has information concerning training requirements and certification (they follow the 310-1that many agencies follow). This website will provide you names of other contractor associations too. www.nwsa.us.

Happy writing!

KC

10/8 Rotorhead wannabe,

You can go to www.usajobs.com or www.avuedigitalservices.com to find what jobs are available. I believe the 7/8 helitack job you are talking about is on the Stanislaus and it is not a lead crewperson job. It is for an assistant foreman. Hope this helps.

Lobotomy,

Thanks for the info. Big hugs to you! I never did get to tell you what a great job you did with the pictures from Ken's run. I just watched the video the other day and saw you lurking in the background snapping pictures like crazy! Hope to meet you again one day soon. Take care until then and keep on informing us.....

Lori

There's a link for R5 Outreach on the jobs page under federal. We do have a helpful bunch here, don't we? Ab.

10/8 Re: Does anybody think about this stuff besides me?

This is just my humble opinion, but the Type 1 and Type 2 IMTs are the best in the world in managing incidents. It does not matter if the incident is All Risk or a Wildfire, these folks are the best at implementing the ICS system.

When I took I-300 one of the things that was hammered into us was that only the ICS positions needed for the particular incident need to be implemented. That's the great thing about ICS. The teams are experts in managing folks and making sure tasks get done. All you have to do is insert operations and safety folks that pertain to that certain incident. I think the IMT could run any incident thrown at them given expert help and the right resources and supplies. The big thing the ICS system handles is span of control. It does not matter if it's a strike team of Power Pole workers or Type 3 engines, you still need span of control.

I talked with folks who went to the Hurricanes last year. They've said it's a gross waste of resources and experience to have the teams manage a supply depot or a parking lot full of trucks full of ice. To be more efficient you could split up the geographic area damaged just like a fire, and have the team run everything from evacuees, to utility workers and so on. Will a few ICS positions need to be created? Yes, but that's the beauty of the system.

From the few things I have heard so far from Katrina, things are getting better, but they have a ways to go. Someone needs to be accountable for the waste of resources, and under-utilization of our folks.

SRJS
10/8 Hi everyone,

Ab, I really enjoy your site. I check it often and learn many things here first. Thanks for all of (all of your) work!

My question(s) (actually 2):
  1. Can someone point me to a website listing USFS job outreaches? I recently saw an outreach for a GS-6 Lead Crewmember on an interagency helicopter on the BT. I responded to the outreach but now seem to have lost it.
  2. I see that the same helitack program is flying a 7/8 - I'm wondering if this is the same job and it got upgraded (in which case I'm no longer qualified)?

Any help would be appreciated!

rotor-head wannabe

10/8 Strong NW winds hitting most areas of northern Santa Barbara County today. NWS has posted wind advisories for the Los Padres and surrounding areas for today. Partly cloudy now with a with a dry front moving through the area and heading south. It should get real interesting in the next 24-72 hours from Ventura south to San Diego and all jurisdictions in between as the next wind event appears to be setting up.

For those not in the area, below is a good website to monitor So. Cal fire weather conditions.

www.wrh.noaa.gov/lox/

From NWS Oxnard:

Ventura County Coastal Valleys ...including: Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Moorpark, Simi Valley

Sunday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the upper 40s and 50s. Areas of northeast winds 15 to 25 mph below passes and canyons late.
Monday: columbus day...mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 70s and 80s. Areas of northeast winds 15 to 25 mph with stronger gusts in the morning.

Signed,
Heads Up
10/7 Thanks -western idealist- and "Usually Lurking" and "back to mapping". I found your comments on the technical and NIMS/ICS topics interesting food for thought. Communication, expertise and chain of command...

Here's another subject - safety and the call to serve on ALL-RISK incidents-
Can anyone tell me... ???

When a request goes out to Type I Teams to manage a non-fire emergency, what's the procedure for assessing safety? Are firefighters notified if their safety may be compromised? Is there something in the ordering process that advises teams, crews, and other resources of the potential risks associated with the assignment? Do team members discuss safety prior to deployment? Are members of a team ever really free to beg off an assignment ? The more cohesive the team, the harder to question risks and opt out?

This past year our Type I Incident Management Teams spent 37% of their time on "hurricane duty". Including other non-fire duties that teams performed last year, it's estimated teams spend more than 50% of their time on non-fire incidents. In past years teams have had chicken choking assignments, dealing with terrorist attack following 9/11, fighting fire in areas with radioactive risks (Cerro Grande/Los Alamos) and other "all-risk" non-fire assignments.

What discussions regarding safety preceded those deployments?

We assume that we know the risks associated with fighting fire. We work long and hard at keeping people safe on fire assignments. What about the rest of the assignments?

For example, what if FIRE was tasked by FEMA to clean up oil spills resulting from the hurricanes. If we are, will there be serious discussion of long and short term risks of working with oil, what is appropriate PPE, etc? What if there are chemical spills as well? Who is the SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT for those risks? FDNY didn't know what dangerous breathing conditions they were getting into as they tried to rescue comrades at the World Trade Center. In my opinion, educated risk assessments are necessary.

Finally, where does concern for your family's safety fit in? (Some New Orleans cops and pumping station workers chose their wife and kid's safety over sticking at "their posts". Can't say as I blame them.) Do you have discussions with your families before hand?

Does anybody think about this stuff besides me? <wry grin>

Mellie

10/7 Ab,
Would you please post the URL listed in response to CDF Captain's request
for more testimonials to our late friend Jerry Bishop?

Jerry Robert Bishop -- Fresno Bee

Thank you,
Jim

When you're on that page, click on "view/sign guest book" link to see what's been written - and to contribute. Ab.

10/7 Usually lurking-

You want to know what adds insult to injury? While hundreds of people
trained in GIS for Incident response sat in their cubicles at home waiting
to be called out to help Katrina the state Emergency Operations Centers put
out a call for volunteers through to the general GIS Community.

The fire community has trained over 400 people in how to apply GIS
specifically for incidents and there are hundreds of experienced people in
ROSS. Yet when an incident occurs they call for volunteers and leave the
trained people at home... and most were not willing to go outside of the
incident ordering system to get to Katrina.

Now FEMA is starting to order some GISTs but the EOCs never went through
the system to get GIS help.

As for SoCal 2003- While the incident GIS information was good the focus
was on firefighter safety not public information. There were definitely
things that could have been done better but people in high up places
(GACC/Regional level) have to invest in having personnel trained and able
to distribute the information beyond the incident.

One major advancement we have done since then is to have one interagency
site that once the fire perimeter is posted- you can see where the fire is
and zoom into the area. Now we just have to get all the agencies to
consistently utilize it.

http://wildfire.cr.usgs.gov/fireplanning/

Okay steam blown off...
now back to mapping
10/7 Regarding use of technology on fires...

California-Nevada-Hawaii Forest Fire Council is having a conference entitled
Applying Technology and Common Sense to Wildland Fire on
October 26 and 27 at the Peppermill in Reno NV.

Here's the link to the website:
www.cnhfire.org/

GK

10/7 CDF Capt pay:

Thanks for the feed back. Good luck to all taking the exam.

LH

10/7 CDF Captain A and B pay:

Within the Ca Dept of Forestry, Fire Captain range “A” is usually assignment to a
Fire Station, ECC, Air Attack or Helitack base or fire prevention.

Fire Captain range “B” is assignment to a Conservation Camp. These folks
supervise inmates from the Cal Dept of Corrections or the Ca Youth Authority,
which is the reason for the extra money.

Firefly
10/7 I had the honor of attending Jerry Bishop's funeral this last week. As I type this, I am almost teary eyed just thinking about the emotions that ran that day.

Jerry was everything that was spoken about him. He was a father, a mentor, and a friend, and so much more that words cannot describe.

I had the opportunity to work for Jerry in 1993 and 1994. He and Rudy Verduzco taught me everything that I was to learn in those years. I look back on my seasons with the USFS on the Sierra, as some of the most memorable and enriching years of my life.

Both the engine crews from Clearwater and North Fork would open the first few weeks of fire season, with both engines based in North Fork, so the crews could refresh their trainings, and learn to work together as a crew. Sure there was the typical rivalry between the crews, but those first few weeks, Jerry would take us out on hose pack hikes, runs, and hand-line construction, to teach us that out on the fire line, it doesn't matter who you work for, or what uniform you wear, you always work together as a team. Those first few weeks together built upon the rest of fire season. I vividly remember the day that I learned "hand-line construction" can be fun. That day was as we punched in a 2 foot scrape, and a 6 foot cut ( i think?). We had been practicing for weeks, and on this day, we all finally learned to work together as a team. All of a sudden, it wasn't just one person trying to complete the job alone, but rather........all of us,..... together.. We laughed, we joked, and we all felt good about what we had done. And Jerry stood up at the top of the line and told us this is what teamwork is about.

Throughout my career in the fire service, I'd stop by the Fire Office to visit when I could, and Jerry always had a smile for me. When I started work with CDF, Jerry would jovially joke with me about going to "other guys", but he always re-enforced me, and told me he was proud of me. Jerry was a guy with a smile on his face 24 hours a day.

I miss Jerry, and will always hold him dear to my heart.

Many thanks to all who showed up for Jerry's Memorial. He touched so many lives. To see so many people, so many engines, crew buggies, heli-tenders, and equipment was a beautiful tribute. The helicopter fly-over, and the missing man formation of the air attack and air tankers gave me goose bumps.

Sign me:
CDF Fire Captain who will never forget his USFS roots..........

I would love to read other people's posts about Jerry, I'm sure there are hundreds of people out there who know him, and could share what Jerry meant to all of us.
10/7 New fire started at 2030 tonight on north side of Barrett Lake, San Diego Co, CA.
Burning hot and fast northeast up canyon. No ground access until daylight, see HPWREN
shot taken at 2115 tonight.

hpwren.ucsd.edu picture

JS

Hope you put this info on the Hot List Forum. Ab.

10/7 Ab -

Since the board has taken a bit of a technical spin, let me come out of the woodwork and throw this article into the loop that a buddy sent me from the Park Service:

GIS comes to the rescue: www.fcw.com/article91003-10-03-05-Print

Seems like there was a group of folks who tried to make some of these points after the 2003 southern California wildfires. I read a couple of papers on how to look at sharing information, especially GIS information, that were super.

Here is a link to one of the papers: www.igist.com/web/web/ea_SD_fires.pdf (pdf file)

Another one of the papers made some of the key points that come up again in the FCW article, like that there need to be mechanisms to share mapping and other data between agencies, preferably before the disaster occurs. Of course, lots of folks have said this in lots of ways before and since those fires.

As I recall, the federal and state wildland fire agencies involved in those 2003 California wildfires were not particularly receptive to these sorts of ideas, even though I hear that some of the people who were fighting the good fight continue to inch forward. Too bad we have to keep learning the same lessons!

I am fully in agreement with what the “western idealist” is saying – this stuff should not be fixed solely by FEMA, or only in the wildfire realm – it should be truly interagency. And, government should make every effort to best utilize the technologies that are available today. Obviously, lives depend on it!

Usually Lurking
10/7 Lori and Tahoe Terri,

The way I read the proposed PSOB changes, there is both good and bad.

Here’s how I read the proposed changes (and the Federal Register is hard to read):

As an “agent of the government”, private sector firefighters (contract) (air and ground) would be covered by the PSOB due to their “serving a public agency in an official capacity”. This is the good in the proposed changes. It meets the intent of Congress. Firefighters are firefighters. Wildland firefighters are wildland firefighters regardless of affiliation and are covered.

The Hometown Heroes Act (A portion of the PSOB) would be severely limited based upon American Heart Association guidelines that were based upon the Framingham Heart Study Population that did not adequately address the health hazards of exposure to stress, smoke, and other toxins that firefighters regularly receive and contribute to known risk factors. This is the bad of the proposed changes as it does not meet the intent of Congress for a law they passed less than twelve months ago to cover firefighters who die or are severely injured in the line of duty.

Good legislation can get really screwed up when bureaucracies start implementing “rules” to cover the intent of Congress. I believe the intent of Congress was that if you served as a firefighter and accepted the risks of being a firefighter, the livelihood of your family would be honored and protected under the PSOB program.

The intent of Congress was also to make things safer for wildland firefighters when the Doc Hastings bill was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and then by the Senate that required an independent investigation by the USDA OIG of all Forest Service entrapment fatalities. It has been a disgrace to the wildland firefighter community, especially the Forest Service family, about how this program has been handled. The intent of Congress was for lessons learned to be implemented to prevent future tragedies NOT to have prosecutions of the folks who made simple mistakes.

Here are three links that may be of interest to you and the wildland fire community ----

Proposed Changes: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/pdf/05-14659.pdf (pdf file)

IAFF Comments:
http://daily.iaff.org/images/Media2005/092805PSOB.pdf (pdf file)

Federal Presumptive Disability Law:
www.iaff.org/politics/us/content/0505fedpresumptive.php (pdf file)

Unfortunately, we Forestry and Range Technicians and families in the wildland fire community didn’t receive the info about public comment until a few days ago. The comment period ended last week… But we have a strong voice for future changes………..

Lobotomy
10/7 CDF pay:

All CDF Fire Captains receive Range A pay with the exception of Hand Crew Captains, they are Range B (10% enhancement for supervising so many people). Colloquially we use the term Captain A to refer to Engine and Staff Captains and Captain B to refer to Handcrew Captains. Hope this clears things up.

PS I believe the majority of people hired on the open list are hired into Captain B positions at camps that have a hard time attracting CDF folks.

LNU Capt.

10/7 CDF pay:

In all due respect to Pat B.'s response on CDF pay scales he provides good info on where to get the current information. However he is incorrect on the Range A & B differential.

The range B scales are higher because those employees are involved in the supervision of inmates and/or wards in the penal system. These inmates/wards are used for hand-crews in CDF.

The pay difference is generally a 10% increase from the range A pay scales. There are numerous positions within CDF that have contact or supervision of inmates/wards that qualify for the range B rates.

Monty M.

10/7 Re: WildCAD

I have seen it say "you are unauthorized" once before and it was available some
time later. So I don't think this is anything new.

Amanda

It came back up today. Ab.

10/7 IT et al

Good perspective. What we should watch is the caliber (GS level) of those
that work the solutions. The practitioners need to have a say.

FH

10/6 Howdy all -

Here's a great article on FEMA's IT systems, in an investigation looking into the 2004 hurricane response:

"Computer systems at FEMA were lacking in 2004, says IG" at www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=32492&dcn=e_gvet

This is a really true and thoroughly researched report, from the first third of it I've read. I am impressed. Important points include notes on FEMA's IT systems not integrating with NIMS, and inappropriate/substandard/inefficient systems to mobilize resources as well as supplies. Also it is clear on a lack of interoperability with state and local IT systems, although I'm not sure if it mentions integration with federal systems.

Now, I will say two things. Wildland fire has some excellent
  1. policy to facilitate quick mobilization of resources and to work within a mutual aid framework with state and local government, and
  2. the IT systems that sort of correspond with this.

Let's just not beat around the bush here: wildland fire simply has the capability for mass mobilization of resources and supplies, and systems that work to support that. But, those systems are not perfect either. I have heard that an effort is underway in the wildland fire community to address some of these issues and plan for long term changes and integration. Good news for wildland fire: a plan to work on these issues.

Let me throw out a radical idea:

Perhaps in the post-Katrina world, FEMA, DHS, and the land management agencies, in cooperation with the rest of the government, could actually work together and POOL resources to build fully interoperable and efficient systems to more efficiently mobilize personnel and resources, keep track of them all, make sure everyone gets home safely, and to work with state, local, tribal, and FEDERAL government agencies to ensure mutual aid plans such as EMAC, etc are incorporated. I will say FEMA has a tendency to forget about federal government and focus totally on state/local government. NIMS is supposed to fix some of this, but as DHS' own IG has shown, NIMS is not obvious in FEMA's IT set up (from what I've read so far).

Call me crazy, but it seems like the E-Government should idealistically be encouraging just such activities. And, NIMS should provide the framework within which these activities occur FOR FEMA AS A WHOLE. It looks to me like all signs are saying it's time for FEMA to stop operating under their old status quo and start operating under NIMS as it was really meant. You DO NOT SEE wildland fires where folks don't get supplies and equipment and millions of extra dollars are spent on contracting for ridiculous things such as driving ice all over the country, etc. You do see some controversial expenditures on wildland fires, but these are rarely due to glaring inefficiencies in the systems. This is due I believe to adherence at all levels of response to the original NIIMS, where business processes and IT systems relate to the framework from the local and mutual aid level to the headquarters and National MAC levels.

If only I could do that sort of interview with the Washington Post!

Hahahahahahahaha. I am sure loving the anonymous protection of this board.

I will say this. Since 9/11, the government has done some really amazing things, policy-wise. HSPD-5 is great, NIMS policy is great, and the National Response Plan is a good first shot, although it would be better probably by more closely following the principles of NIMS.

However, wildland fire has a lot to offer to the national thought process on emergency management as the domestic federal agencies who respond to and actually manage more large, complex incidents per year and overall than any other agency, including FEMA. FEMA does NOT manage incidents. Federal wildland fire agencies manage incidents and often in close coordination or Unified Command with local and state government, and don't forget, with each other! This INCLUDES resource mobilization and management including personnel, equipment, policy, systems, supplies, and decision support such as maintaining capability, etc.

Who better to help show how to do effective interagency incident management response and coordination than the folks who are already doing it at every level?

Yet, when it comes to designing policy, procedures, and systems for emergency management in this country, the assets and expertise of wildland fire are not tapped often enough. The land management agencies do a pretty good job of trying to be aggressive about this, especially USDA and Forest Service, but the recognition really needs to come from major state and federal policymakers and the American public.

Will I still have a job after saying these things? I hope so. I am getting less chicken about telling it like it is, although it can be dangerous for careers and futures. I leave with a quote from this article ("FEMA's decline: an agency's slow slide from grace" at www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0905/092805j1.php )

"If there were so many signs and so many warnings that FEMA was not the agency it once was, then how did it keep its reputation? Mainly, it appears, because few outside the emergency response community were paying any attention... The public and at least one independent inquiry likely will be asking hard questions about FEMA's blunders… Some want to block Chertoff's plan to separate FEMA's response and recovery divisions, while others propose separating FEMA from DHS. More proposals are sure to surface. The real question is what the Bush administration and Congress will do when the inquiries end. The 2004 Intelligence Reform Act, forced through in the wake of the 9/11 commission's report, has received decidedly mixed reviews. A hasty, public relations-driven reform following the Katrina investigations could bode ill for disaster response."

Be safe out there!
-western idealist

10/6 Terrie,

Just got done looking at the DOJ website for the PSOB Benefits. Doesn't look to me like anything is being reduced. They just increased (as of Oct 1) the death and disability benefit from 275,000 to 283,000 and the PSOBEA has gone up per month also. Maybe I am missing out on something, maybe this isn't what you are talking about. If you hear anything else, I would be interested to know. If it is true, it's amazing how they can devalue someone's life and make their survivors wonder why....

Lori
10/6 Howdy-

For all you folks in the field or who have returned from Katrina/Rita, or who have been involved, thought I'd pass along info on DHS' Inspector General info from a press release at their Web Site at www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=4873. Here's an excerpt from the release:

"In addition to these proactive efforts to ensure internal procurement integrity, FEMA and the DHS Office of the Inspector General are actively addressing external fraud issues. Fraudulent contractors and false claims of disaster losses are not uncommon in the wake of disasters, and DHS encourages anyone who believes they may have witnessed fraudulent activity to report it immediately through the DHS Inspector General's Hurricane Relief Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721."

Having been involved with one or two FEMA responses and having heard nightmares about fraud/abuse at LOTS of other FEMA disasters, thought you all may come across some situations worth reporting. Hope not.

Be safe-

-WO

10/6 Readers,

The Supply Cache/Fire Cache that sponsors theysaid is doing yet another raffle to benefit the Wildland Firefighter's Foundation. They're the most WFF supporting, raffling-holding folks around. (Prize is $250 merchandise certificate.) Go to their raffle page via the text under their banner link above to learn the details and to buy tickets. (Their banner still takes you to their home page.)

Ab.

10/6 Request:

My brother is retiring after 30+ years with CDF in 2006.
He's an avid collector of fire fighting memorabilia. I would like to find something special for him.
I'm not fire oriented - so I am asking you, the experts - for suggestions.
thanks and be safe out there -

Annie Anonymous
10/6 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
10/6 Anybody know anything about reduction of PSOB?

Tahoe Terrie

10/6 Something I found. Think it's satire, but who knows with California.................. TC.......

Fire evacuees lash out at FEMA for untimely espresso, comfy chair delivery

LOS ANGELES, CA - Residents here who were mildly inconvenienced over the weekend when they had to leave their homes for a few hours blasted FEMA for failing to have espresso and comfortable chairs available immediately. Dozens of people were asked to relocate temporarily while firefighters battled flames and scorching hot winds to save million dollar homes. Residents who were not fortunate enough to go to the mall or a movie were forced to stand or sit on guard rails for several minutes without so much as a cup of instant coffee. One man, Michael DeLafountain remarked, "It's just another example of how incompetent Bush is. Why am I not surprised?"

One woman, Michelle Gilbert, was stuck out in public in last year's fashion. "I can't even go shopping, they just made us leave in what we were wearing. It's humiliating. I hate Bush and I hate FEMA, whoever he is."

Red Cross spokesperson Clark Bunting told This Reporter that padded chairs and lattes were loaded into trucks and ready to be delivered to the uncomfortable evacuees but had to turn away when they were pelted with rocks. "Apparently they thought we were FEMA and their understandable rage boiled up and took over when they saw us."
10/6 Katrina:

Matt Branch,

Glad to see you were able to make the move out of Elpaso county. I know it was a tough one. The Black Hats are a great crew and I am glad you guys made it down for Katrina/Rita. We are in New Orleans in the community of Algiers setting up DRCs etc. If you get any free time give me a call. I am sure Ab will give you my temp. cell number.

You guys stay safe and take care,
Arlo

10/6 Ab-

After listening to a few presentations from CDF it was- 30' clearance enforced &
100' highly recommended but not enforceable until next year (2006) due to some
procedural/lawish/notification issues. Now this only applies to state regs- so SRA
lands.

Local agencies can do what local regs dictate. One article I read cited 200' clearances
when talking about Topanga is that true?

Stay safe out there,
BLMgirl
10/6 this is in response to the following message posted 10/04/05

was intrigued with the CDF Capt. pay chart and was wondering what makes
up the different ranges? Also if you have the data, could you throw me some
numbers as to what the FFIIs, both medic and non-medic, make per year
without the O/T. Thanks. LH

The CA Department of Personnel Administration http://www.dpa.ca.gov/
web page has a link to the California State Civil Service Pay Scales, 52nd Edition, now available online.

the payscales are for every civil service position, are easy to research specific positions.
This web site also has a link to the negotiated union contracts which will also reflect the projected 2006 pay benefit increase.

Example of Ranges in pay are established by salary determination based on education, time in service, shift differentials. If you look on the job specifications on the state personnel board web page http://www.spb.ca.gov

look toward the left of the page and it has a tag for current and former state employees takes you to the next page, in the first block, click on Class Specifications (Job Descriptions), Employment Statistics and Pay Scale

http://www.spb.ca.gov/Employment/current_former_employees.php

type in the job specs you're interested in, and it will also reflect the ranges in pay.

Range A typically is the range given to a new hiree, after a probationary term, the employee receives a pay increase (typically 5%) - to Range B

As for the medic pay, that would also reflect on a pay range and monthly pay.

As for the Capt test being open and not just promotional, was based on the projection of staffing reduction (retirement) following the 2006 pay/benefit increase.

I think the state of CA is the only agency that pays once a month

hope this answered your question.
Pat B

10/5 WildWeb Cad issues on your news and info page, the CAD for the Stanislaus is not responding.
could you provide insight or let us know when it is available on theysaid?

RO

RO, none of the Wildcad links work from our news page or from any other GACC site that formerly provided access. The links are still there on the GACC sites under intelligence, but the message is that they're not accessible because "you are not authorized". One other time when WildCAD was down for updating, the message was that it was unable to find the pages. Does anyone know if this is something new? Ab.

10/5 USFA and WITF to Broadcast Live the 2005 Fallen Firefighter Candlelight and Memorial Services

Release Date: October 3, 2005

Emmitsburg, MD - The United States Fire Administration will join on October 8th and 9th, with the production crews of WITF Studios of Harrisburg, PA for a live broadcast feed of the 2005 National Fallen Fighters Candlelight and Memorial services. As firefighters from around the nation come together to remember the firefighters lost in 2004, the firefighters and media are invited to view this broadcast feed.

"Using the USFA's EENET studios, and the technical capabilities of the WITF team, these live events, for the first time, will be available to all firefighters throughout the United States," said Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Charlie Dickinson. "These ceremonies recognize those that gave their lives in service to their communities, and it is indeed a great honor to provide this opportunity for all of this nation's firefighters to witness and participate in these very important ceremonies. We will never forget those whom have made these ultimate sacrifices for their fellow residents."

Fire service members are encouraged to contact their local community cable station managers to capture the feed for broadcast on the local public, governmental or educational cable channels. The signal will also be available for subscribers to Dish Television. Dish Television users should check their local listings for broadcast times and details. For information regarding this broadcast, contact Sue Downin of the EENET Studios at 301-447-1073.

According to Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director, "The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation invites all firefighters to work with their local cable providers and Dish Networks to join with us to remember the fallen of 2004. We are so pleased to work with the USFA, WITF, NATOA and Dish Networks to continue to include all firefighters in these ceremonies honoring the fallen, and in support of the survivors left behind."

For further information regarding the events of the upcoming Fallen Firefighter Memorial Weekend, please visit www.firehero.org or www.usfa.fema.gov.

The following information will assist your community and departments with capturing the live feeds.

2005 Fallen Firefighters Luminary Service
Saturday, October 8, 2005 (6:00pm-9:00pm) Satellite feed begins at 5:30pm

2005 Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service
Sunday, October 9, 2005 (10:00-13:30) Test Begins at 09:30

These programs are available on both C-Band and KU-Band Satellite. The receive specifications are the same for both broadcasts and are as follows:

C-Band

Satellite Telesat ANIK F-2 (C-Band)
Transponder 12b
Polarization Vertical
Channel Number 24
Downlink Frequency 4180 MHz
Orbital Position 111 degrees West Longitude
Audio Frequency 6.2/6.8

Uplinked from WITF Harrisburg, PA: C-Band Technical Trouble # 717 221-2959

KU-Band

Satellite SBS - 6 (KU-Band)
Transponder 17
Polarization Horizontal
Channel Number 17
Downlink Frequency 12117 MHz
Orbital Position 74 degrees West Longitude
Audio Frequency 6.2/6.8

KU-Band Tech Trouble # - EENET Uplink, Emmitsburg, MD (301) 447-5058 or (301) 447-1582 (back-up)
10/5 It seems as if the public is beginning to get the idea. It appears that many of the home owners are beginning to adhere to the 30' clearance rule. As I was watching the news channels last week they were commenting numerous times how the fire came to a stop when it hit a green belt or the cleared areas that many home owners have put in.

Just thought that some of you would appreciate that the majority of folks are finally catching on.

Any more information on the possible arson start to these fires?

Red Flag warning in the Bay Area, NorCal.

Stay safe out there

Retired L.A.V.E.

Yeah, but isn't it 100' now?

10/5 Anybody else having trouble getting the monthly or seasonal outlook info at
NIFC to load? We've had out driest September on record here, and I've
wondered what's going to happen when the leaves start to fall. I've found
out-of-date info, and pages that won't load (why oh why is the gov't so in
love with PDF).

Still Out There as an AD
10/5 Kelley,

Great job on the Topanga Fire but I have some questions. Sorry, it is always a learning experience in the wildland fire business as you know.

When you say "the federal involvement was minimal" you seemed to forget the type 1 and 2 airtankers, the type 1 helitankers, the type 2 helicopters, the dozers and the misc. overhead in addition to the crews and engines that the feds provided. They must also be part of the federal wildland resources overlooked in the ICS-209 and the press?

The National Park Service, a federal wildland agency (NPS) was in unified command.

Did anyone do perimeter control during the fire or was it all about structure protection? Would active perimeter control have mitigated the need to protect additional structures as the fire progressed? Kelley, these are serious questions and my feeling is there are lessons to be learned.

I "heard" (and experienced) that the Topanga fire kept needed IA resources (air and ground) from keeping initial attack fires small (San Timoteo, Castaway [Burbank], and Thurman) as they were being hoarded. ALL THREE FIRES ESCAPED initial attack during normal fall weather conditions due to the lack of aircraft, helicopters, crews, engines, and overhead.

Remember, just the facts.

Rogue Rivers
10/5 hi

My name is Kyle Melberg. I am currently a journeyman operator in the local union of ventura county. I am very interested in being a part of the dozer team. It is something that i have always been interested in. I have been operating for about 7-8 years have spent 4 years in the navy seabees as a operator and would like to further my federal career but most of all i want to fight fires with a dozer. If you could give me any help or direction in how to become a wild fire dozer operator it would be greatly appreciated.

kyle melberg
mel2198577@yahoo.com
10/4 Lobotomy,

I was one of those people that was offended and did not understand. I have read
your past post, I see what you are saying. Call me slow in the thinking department,
but I see what your point is. It would be nice to pay the rent and have 3 large bills
left over to put in the savings account. I respect your voice here, I hope that you
can help make a difference, God knows you guys on the Fed side deserve the best.

Signed,

Remember the ones who aren't with us anymore......
10/4 Lobotomy

I was intrigued with the CDF Capt. pay chart and was wondering what makes
up the different ranges? Also if you have the data, could you throw me some
numbers as to what the FFIIs, both medic and non-medic, make per year
without the O/T. Thanks.

LH

10/4 Discussion between 2 CDFers from a CDF message board:

Re CDF Open Capt. Test: Heard open applications outnumbered promotional... any truth?
Reply: With our (CDF's) recent increases in OT and our retirement, I know plenty of USFS folks who are looking as well as some federal base and military facility types.

We may be getting some most excellently trained FS people. Lobotomy, I agree with you that the fed fire org is loosing out...

SoCal CDF

10/4 Ab,

This is the announcement from the Washington Assoc. of Fire Chiefs regarding the memorial for
the crew of Airlift 4, the Airlift Northwest ship that was lost over Puget Sound last Thursday night.

Could you please trim it up as appropriate and add to They Said?

Thanks,
FireBill

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

Date: October 3, 2005

Subject: Airlift Northwest Memorial

September 29, 2005, the emergency service community lost three exceptional people. Steve Smith, Lois Suzuki, and Erin Reed passed away after their air ambulance was lost while returning from providing emergent care in the Seattle area.

Airlift Northwest will conduct a public memorial service for Steve, Lois and Erin Thursday October 6, 2005 at 1100 AM. The location will be at the 7777 Perimeter RD, S. Hanger Building - Southeast Boeing Field. A reception will immediately follow at Airlift Northwest Administrative Building: 6987 Perimeter RD, S., Seattle, WA 98108.

* Agencies wishing to bring apparatus are asked to arrive starting at 0800, no later than 1000 to allow for coordination of parking.
* Complementary private vehicle parking is available on the property.
* Seattle Police will assist guiding vehicles to the proper location.
* Personnel are encouraged to represent their agencies in uniform.

Please contact Gary Aleshire (galeshire @ firedistrict1.org or 425-754-1048) for any additional information.

10/4 To Kelley Gouette, OSC, CDF Team 7

Kelley, you posed a "striking figure" on ALL the LA news channels during one of your Ops Briefing on the Topanga Fire...which was carried "live" !!!!! So much for your 15 minutes of fame? Your wife (Team PIO) was prolifically quoted on the radio news but got nowhere near the "face time", that's got to contribute to domestic accord.... Good Job!

(Me and most of the ORC folks were over on the Harvard fire in Burbank...)

Contract County Guy
10/4 Hey abs,

I received this and thought that you may want to post this on both they said and
family said so that the fire fighters as well as the families who do not peruse they said
would know that the feds are doing well down south.

Forest Service crews help evacuees

RO

10/4 Hi AB!

I am looking for a book or a manual that might give descriptions and/or
show pictures of different types of hose packs. If you could point me in
the right direction I would really appreciate it. Thanks for your time!

Green

10/4 Hey Abs et. All,

Heard a story about an ATV/Plow set up like a tractor plow unit.
Heard they run it in the southwest. Does anyone out there have pics or
descriptions of this bad Larry? The size of the unit might make better
sense over a Rayco when it comes to money, transport, and access issues.

thanks,
Type 1 wrench
10/4 I'm writing a paper on contract crews and the processes they have to through to be certified and costs to the crews and how to get on the national registry. I know this has been a source of alot of debate on here, but any help any of yall can offer from personal experience would help alot. Its for my Forest Protection class haha............. one and a half semesters till I'm done with forestry school and out west with you guys pounding the ground.

Thanks everybody and be safe
NCGroundPounder

10/4 your web site is great!!

''arrowhead hotshots''

Welcome. Ab.

10/4 This is a simple comparison for the folks who don’t like (or can’t understand) comparing burger flippers to wildland firefighters. It is about safety, recruitment, retention, and fairness for wildland firefighters. It is also about performing a dangerous job... photos attached. Thurman Fire 1 & Thurman Fire 2

In-N-Out burger has got their act together. CDF also does, as do many state and local government agencies throughout the west. Those employers have realized that they need to provide competitive salaries, benefits, and working conditions to attract and keep the best employees available. Employers of that caliber should be applauded.

The Federal Land Management Agencies and McDonalds….. Well, what can I say??? … Facts speak louder than words if those words are visible for all to see... Their performance has been far less than “competitive”. A recent e-mail I received stressed the importance of the problem…. WE HAVE BEEN LOSING THE BEST OF THE BEST FOR OVER TEN YEARS……… There is some great “opposite synergy” happening when you can’t keep the “stars” of the organization around, whether it is through recruitment, retention, or battling early retirement. It directly relates to safety failures in the past and in the future.

Even as the jaded facts that are being presented by the less than “fire educated” Washington and Regional Offices continue to battle firm facts as they relate to safety, their supposition is that there is ONLY a 1.5-3 percent loss per year. Their facts mean we have lost 15-30 percent of our future leaders over a decade.... 30-50 percent over 20 years... and 45-90 percent over the life of a 30 year career.

I believe the FWFSA has facts to show that the recruitment and retention issues nationwide are far worse than the Agencies keep telling the public, the managers, and the Congress.

Sorry, Off the soap box and on to the current and verifiable facts:

Federal Battalion Chief in the Southern California Special Salary Rate Area:
Yearly Salary: $52,342.00 (GS-9 step 5, 22 years experience, Southern California Special Salary Rate)

CDF Fire Captain:
Range A (Without un-planned overtime): Lowest Pay ($5505.00 per month) – Highest Pay ($6668.00 per month).

Range B (Without un-planned overtime): Lowest Pay ($6041.00 per month) – Highest Pay ($7341.00 per month).

Yearly Salary without un-planned overtime (aka base salary for the federal folks):
Range A - $66.060-$80,016 per year.
Range B - $72,492-$88,092 per year.
(Yearly income significantly higher when un-planned overtime is obtained)

If you think this is about greed, ask what the cost of living is and the cost of buying a house in the Western United States is nowadays…. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins that no wildland firefighter seems to possess…. The ability to provide for shelter, food, and comfort is one of the basic needs of humanity that federal wildland firefighters and their families are fighting for.

Lobotomy
10/3 Just some notes from the OSC on Topanga.

Majority of the fire was CDF Direct Protection (SRA) in Ventura County. Fire started in Los Angeles City and spread to LAC, VNC and Santa Monica Mountains NRA (NPS) LAC was the ordering point due to fire spread and initial ordering. LAC Team #3 assumed initial command. Transitioned to Unified Command with 5 agencies involved (CDF,LAC, LFD, VNC and NPS) under one Operations Chief with 4 deputies and CDF Type 1 Team #7 (Heil).

Aircraft flying at night were from LA City and LA County due to life threat. This is unusual but there have been past practice when life threat is high such as Topanga “93, Simi “03 etc. They DO NOT use night vision because of the light from the fire, only ambient light and in areas they are familiar with.

This fire has gone extremely well given the politics and multiple agency involvement. Only 1 residence was destroyed by the fire. Sorry for the lack of credit to the USFS on the 209. Sometimes things are missed in the heat of battle and federal involvement was minimal with 5 hotshot crews out of 84 total, 2 Type III helicopters, and a couple of Type III engine S/T’s. People need to remember, when life threat is in the 10’s of thousands and structure threat is in the hundreds, GUIDELINES such as not working 24 hour shifts, 2 for 1 rest cycles, and flight hour limitations are sometimes compromised until the life threat passes or enough resources arrive to mitigate these issues. CDF ICT #7 works very hard to insure that federal resources are in compliance with federal policies. We run a 24 hour shift on a going fire, with 24 hours off. That’s a 1-1 rest cycle which exceeds the federal requirement. We work federal resources 16-8 so we have them available each day shift, and so there is no loss of pay. Sometimes it is necessary to work the 24 hour shift and we then try and give them a 12 hour off to meet the 2 for 1 rather than 24 off but that is not always feasible as well. When the situation allowed, we released federal resources so they could be re-deployed to the Thurman fire on the San Bernardino. All in all, the most successful interface fire I have been involved with from a unified command standpoint. A little luck and a lot of hard work went into the successful save of many structures.

Kelley Gouette
Battalion Chief/Air Operations
CDF/San Luis Obispo

From what I heard, it was a job well done. I even listened to some of the action via the online scanner. Ab.

10/3 Good morning,

We here at the McClellan Training Center are seeking fire
photos to liven up the sanatorium-style walls. We have over 50% of the
walls covered. We need high-resolution (1.5 MB) photos, or quality prints.
Please submit any action-packed or dramatic photos to Charly Price at
cprice01@fs.fed.us. Please, no Sears catalog style photos, the ones where
everyone is looking out at 45 degrees with hands on their hips, obviously
posing. We have a sufficient number of old photos, we need 70's, 80's,
90's, and newer photos. Charly can also be reached by phone at
530-478-6211.

Thanks.

Scott Whitmire

10/3 Re injured firefighter article:

Mellie,

That is correct, the Plumas Hotshot was injured after a large green tree fell in the middle of the burn and flew downslope into the canyon burn. Ironically, it was at that time that myself and a couple of others were talking with the DIVS about how silly it would be working a 24 hour shift on such a steep slope with no access to timely medical care. Not whining, just rationally thinking at the time.

NZ Helitack

Staying situationally aware. Ab.

10/2 South Zone News & Notes has finally been updated,

Yeeha!

10/2 Hello Ab:

Maybe you could post Melissa's phone number at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation,
so we dummies who can't remember what we pledged to Ken's run can settle-up our
pledge?

Sign me,
GGFire

Melissa @ Wildland Firefighter Foundation = (208) 336-2996

10/2 Geez!

I wish the SoOps website actually had some current info! It still says
Kerr's team is on 2 hour when it is on the Thurman fire. Many other
things have not been updated either. What is up!

disappointed
10/2 The first question to ask is do you consider “Pumpkin Time” cut-off or shutdown?

You can legally fly past cut-off, (if certain conditions exist) but not shut down. Shut Down is defined as no aircraft operations below 1000’ above ground level, (except to land) one hour past cut-off, (cut-off is hour before sunset). Confusing isn’t it? Dispatchers and air program folks still struggle with the policies.

Regarding night operations, in L.A. County I believe they use night vision goggles to operate into the evening.

Here are the Agency policies for CDF and FS……

Firefly
10/2 SoCal fires:

I was down in L. A., last week for a class, not related to fire, and I say a bunch of footage from the news. The aircraft that that were working after dark were the firehawks, LA County adaptation of the Blackhawk. It was the only aircraft that I saw flying at night in the news footage, I think they have some special night capability such as what the military has.

I noticed that the news stations in Southern California were pretty much 24 hour news on fires evacuations, and freeway closures. Traffic got pretty fouled up and they were talking of closing parts of US 101. They thought the fire was going to jump 101 and head to Malibu and the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday. On Wednesday I walked by the El Segundo Fire Station and they were forming up a strike team of type 1 engines at about 4:30 PM.

When I left on Friday morning things looked better but they were worried that the Santa Ana, foehn winds, would be back on Monday or Tuesday. The last time I heard they suspected arson and were investigating.

Retired L.A.V.E.

10/2 Uncle Louis,

I noticed the "past pumpkin time" as well, but I assumed that it was not the fed ships which were doing this. Managing FS & other interagency ships I have experienced many times being shut down at the time as stated on our contract and watching the county and state ships (or at least county ships, I can't think of when I've seen state ships do it but that doesn't mean they haven't) work past dark.

That may shed some light on this matter.

HCWN Junkie
10/2 "On the ground and watching this decision closely",

You said,

"A meeting will be taking place within the next 45 days to determine Forest Service fire
suppression staffing levels for 2006."

Do you have any information about the who, what, when, where, and how of this meeting? Is
this a meeting concerning a local district, a forest, a province, a region, or nationally?

Lobotomy

10/2 Is the injured ff in this article from 10 days ago the Plumas shot?

Tahoe Forest fire contained; 1 injured

The hurricanes were grabbing the news then...

Mellie

10/2 How come?

How come helicopters and other air tanker resources are currently being used
after pumpkin time in So CA? Did this suddenly become a safe practice or
politically expedient?

Uncle Louie

10/1 A meeting will be taking place within the next 45 days to determine Forest Service fire suppression staffing levels for 2006. Those high level agency officials worried the regions will pull the media card, fear not my friends. The regions will not need to do this because of US, your federal emergency first responders (OPM calls us Forestry Techs) will not allow another 1980's like decrease happen. Period! Any hint of decease or softening of the WO stance to maintain current levels of firefighting production, the WO will be busy answering phone calls from congressional leaders, the public and probably political White House appointees. All of them wondering "what is going on" OUCH.....

We all know what we started is 2000 was the right thing and it's working. Large fire occurrence is down, IA effectiveness is high. We will not allow anyone to reduce Forest Service firefighting staffing levels without a fight. The public and congress support and appreciate us and they will not allow our effectiveness to be reduced.

To those decision makers, I hope you have the wisdom and courage to do the right thing, to speak the truth to the Chief, Agri Officials, Congress and the Public.

Unlike the 1980's, the majority of us now have computers, private email accounts, an organization that supports us (FWFSA) and cell phones. The response to any decision to reduce firefighting resources and will be strong and sustained.

Again to all the decision makers, tell the truth, show some leadership and do the right thing!

Signed,
On the ground and watching this decision closely

PS - To all on the FWFSA Org chart, one thing ---> Get Ready !

10/1 Message to the Fire Responders to the Hurricanes:

Test run this AM on the supposed chickenpox patient returned negative.

THERE IS NO CHICKENPOX. I REPEAT, NO CHICKENPOX!!!!!!!!

The Forest Service folks are doing an outstanding job. I feel privileged to
have the opportunity to work with them.

Nancy Walea, RN, MA
Public Health Nurse Consultant
San Antonio Metropolitan Health District
332 W. Commerce, Suite 202
San Antonio, TX 78205

Thanks, Nancy. Ab.

 
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