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12/31 Just Wondering,
That was a good one!

CDF finally got around to striping the wildland nomex with reflective banding-at
the rate change comes to this organization, look for your change in about 10
years minimum!

We will not depart from double layering anytime soon.

“Another CDF BC”
12/31 I will start by saying what I know is limited so take it for what it is worth.

We have been testing a BDU type of pant. Currently I believe our L.E. personnel have them as an optional pant to wear. The BDU is being tested around the State and I believe it is specifically being looked at for our Fire Crew Captains. I'm unaware of us getting rid of the nomex pant. I believe we still subscribe to the double layering for safety. The BDU pant would be great for the type of work environment our Crew Captains are in day in and day out. The best pants I wore as a Crew Captain was the old green levis. Very comfortable and durable for our daily crew projects. Our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters on the line in Texas and Oklahoma. Keep one foot in the burn and the wind to your back!

CDF Jake
12/31 Just wondering:

Regarding the change in fire clothing: As far as I know, there is currently no
sign that CDF is changing its policy of a two layer system. Some different
types and brands of uniform pants are currently being field tested by employees,
which may look like the fire pants worn by other agencies (the pants, not
the employees!), but that's as far as it is going right now.

12/30 Here is a question for the folks from CDF.

I have noticed allot of the County and City Departments around my area in
SoCal getting rid of the yellow nomex pants (double layer) and going to the
navy blue nomex crewboss pants. Any talk of CDF making a change?

Just wondering
12/29 From Hickman:

Firefighters Exposed to Electrical Hazards During Wildland Fire Operations
(Beginning of the CIP Bulletin...)

The recent wildland fires in Texas and Oklahoma are a reminder that among the various hazards fire fighters face during wildland fire suppression activities, and one that is often overlooked, is electrical hazards.

Fire fighters performing fireground operations near power lines may be exposed to electrical shock hazards as a result of the damage caused by the flame, heat, and smoke from the fire.

The most common hazard is through direct or indirect contact with downed energized power lines. Fire fighters should look out for power lines that fall onto, and energize, equipment and materials located on the fireground. It is also important to remember that electrical currents can flow through the ground and extend several feet in any direction (ground gradient).

(Click the link to read the rest.)

12/29 Fires update from TX:

We are not getting a break as of yet. Worked another day today with several
departments, lost 2 structures but saved several also. Heard that we could
expect some crews from TN and at least 1 helo, possibly by tomorrow.

I checked on FF Hancock a short while ago and found that he is stable. He
had developed a little fluid on the lungs through last night but they had managed
to get that under control and he was doing better today.

I really want to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and best wishes for
him and his family, just one of the reasons that I am proud to call myself a

Stay safe,

Keith Newburn

The link to this article was posted on the Hot List Forum. Ab.
Residents Sift Through Burned Remains of Homes

12/29 The 2005 Timber Faller Roundtable was held in Corvallis Dec. 9 & 10. The results – in various forms – will be available in two locations by the end of January: the NWSA Prof. Timber Faller website www.nwsafallers.org... and the OSU Faller Study website: www.fallerstudy.com. I’ll also be giving a verbal report at the NWSA national conference in Reno in February, and constructing written reports for the PNWCG and the NWCG agency members.

For those of you interested in the subject of commercial timber fallers working on the fireline, I encourage you to review this material, which will include presentations in streaming video and work group portfolio results. After reviewing this information… and hopefully digesting it for a time… please consider providing your comments in a section provided for that purpose.

Comments, observations and positions from all perspectives are welcome, and will be incorporated in the faller study, provided you are willing to identify yourself, or at least your position & agency (you don’t have to provide your actual name). (So…Oliver…check it out…) This information is important to establish the context of your comments for the research reviewer and reader once it’s published.

The five major areas of focus at the Faller Roundtable included:
  1. Standards, Experience & Integrity;
  2. Safety for Fireline Fallers;
  3. Faller Mobilization (Dispatch);
  4. Faller Module Program Specifications; and
  5. Hazard Tree Assessment & Identification.

If any of you have access to, or can point me in the direction of, resources, information, etc. relating to the subject of commercial timber fallers in general, and timber industry fallers working on wildland fire, including historical experience and/or equipment requirements, hiring practices, etc. I sure would appreciate it. Just when I think I’ve found it all, something else emerges…so I’m certain there must be more helpful information out there…
Thanks for your input. It all matters.

Shari Downhill
Roundtable Coordinator
shari@ nwtimberfallers.com

12/28 Howdy gang,

Hope the F/F's in the lone star state get a break with the weather soon, and so
do we here in Nor-Cal. The song we keep hearing is an old Johnny Cash tune.
You know it, "How Highs the water Mama?".

The Sac river is cresting tonight here and we're high and dry so far (it was close)
but the weather forecast for the weekend looks ugly! We may be in for the big
one along next Tuesday. 15000 sandbags are ready. The "Quad Squad" is
ready too!

Till then, have a safe and Happy New Year and Keep your feet dry.


12/28 To Sympathetic, But Practical and NZ Helitack,

I appreciate your comments on the vegan thing. Thanks for your insight.
And I even appreciate the humorous comments, too!

Stay safe,
MT Sprout
12/28 I noticed a post that said someone couldn't access the refresher training
info on the NIFC website, and I'm getting some calls from NE FS folks as
well. There is a serious network snafu and they are working on it. No
estimate yet of it being back on line, but hopefully it won't be much
longer. It's a BLM hosted site and they've got other e-problems right now
as well.

just fyi -

Thanks Rose. Ab.

12/28 This is not a drill...

Been quite awhile since I have made any comments on here, usually I just lurk and listen to everyone else carry on. But I thought I would tell any of you who are sitting around with nothing to do, itching for a fight, that we are pretty much getting our collective you know whats handed to us in Texas right at the moment.

Lost over a 100 homes and 3 lives yesterday across the state and they see no let up for at least the next 30 days. We have been on two in excess of 1000 acres in our district alone, which contrary to popular belief about our state is not all flat. Unfortunately no resources are being ordered up as of this morning on a paid basis, that may change by this evening but I do not know that to be a fact. So if you have red bag, will travel...


I saw the 30-40 ft flame lengths on CNN after reading some of the info on the Hot List Forum. Excellent comments on CNN from the woman information officer of the TX Forest Service. She said they have firefighters coming in from Tennessee and a few other SE states. Be Safe! Ab.

12/28 From Firescribe:

Residents, Officials Begin To Survey Fire Damage NBC-5 dallas/ft worth photos & video

Fires sweep through parched Texas Kilgore News Herald

Grass fires scorch Oklahoma, Texas CNN Governors activate emergency operations as winds fan flame

Dozens of grass fires raged Tuesday across tinder-dry central Oklahoma and parts of Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry declared a disaster and dispatched National Guard troops to help battle the flames.

12/28 My wife and I held a fund-raiser to help a local family in need
(savebabyaustin.com) . I recently attended a class held at VAFB on
IOF3, I want to thank each and everyone of those who attended the class and
donated to the cause. Firefighters are in the business of serving the
communities, whether it be their own or some where else. They really stepped
up !!! The fund-raiser generated a little over $10,000 and the
family was able to take their home off the market. My wife and I had a
opportunity to present the funds to the parents and it was, to say the least,
overwhelming in the response we received. You guys are all true heros in
the eyes of the Bence family. For further updates on Austyn please visit
the website. May all you and yours be blessed........ again Thank you.....

Mike Rivera

12/27 Montana Sprout,

First, I hope you take the kidding you are receiving in stride.

Second, and quite seriously, under current rules for PPE there is no getting around "leather gloves" and "all leather, lace-type work boots with non-slip (Vibram type) melt-resistant soles and heels when working on fires. The leather top must be at least 8 inches (20.3 cm) in height, measured from the top of the heel." At least as far as I can tell.

If there is a suitable substitute for the above I am unaware of it. Furthermore, even if there was it would be a minor miracle to convince the powers that be to make an exception or change the rules.

I do not want to discourage you, just being realistic.

Maybe you too, need to be realistic and just make the choice between convictions and the job.

Sign me,
Sympathetic, but practical
12/27 Anyone wanting to make donations to Kenneth Hancock, New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Fighter, that was injured on 12-24-05, when the tanker he was driving collided with an Union Pacific Locomotive, can do so at any Austin Bank location.

Please remember that Kenneth and all other Volunteer Fire Fighters are not paid fire fighters. Kenneth volunteers his time to help others in need.

On behalf of New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Dept. we say "Thank You" to everyone that has given support by phone calls, donations, and most importantly through prayers. Please continue your support. This is going to be a long recovery for Kenneth and the New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Dept.

Glen Wilburn
New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Dept.

Austin Bank
New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Dept.
Kenneth Hancock
New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Dept.
c/o Kenneth Hancock
P.O. Box 429
New Summerfield, TX 75780
12/27 Ab,

Thanks for keeping me as Zimm, this is first change to look and see what is going
on. Snow on I-90 in a big way, glad I live in the "flats" of Washington.



12/27 Annual refresher Training:

I have been trying to access the refresher training website, but it doesn't seem to load up.
Anyone have any idea if there is a problem? I have to set up our annual training and was
also wondering when the 2006 information might be up. We start fire season pretty early
here in the southwest, and its time to get the training planned.

12/27 Montana Sprout

I guess I'll put some serious thought into the question about vegan fireline items.

I once was a practicing vegan, that is until I joined a hotshot crew. To put it quite simply, my physician strongly advised me that I would need to change my diet just to simply meet the caloric input vs output needs of firefighting. As far as a "vegan," ppe items, they really are not out there yet, not to say they could not be developed but, from a person who goes through a new pair of NICKs a year, I would be hard pressed to recommend anything other that "animal byproduct," foot wear if you choose to engage in wildland fire suppression.

Sorry to say that, but thats the facts that I have faced so far.

NZ Helitack

12/27 Kenneth Hancock, the firefighter that involved in the train vs. tender accident Saturday,
was updated from critical to fair status today, Thanks to everyone for all of the prayers
and keep them coming. I know that he and his family appreciate them.

Stay safe,

Thanks for the update Keith. Glad he's on the mend. It was good to hear your drawling TX accent on my message machine on Christmas. We were out building fence as our Christmas afternoon activity. Ab.

12/27 Terrie,

If you read my post I said it was important to be prepared. The state of Calif. has tried to tell the people of the state to be prepared for years. 3 days of food and water, 1st aid kit, medications, flashlight w/ extra batts, radio, etc,etc,etc. The folks of Louisiana that cried out that the help didn't come soon enough, they were not prepared. Some people just don't listen. Then they blame others for problems they helped create. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

Remember the run on plastic sheeting and duct tape a few yrs ago, remember the Small Pox vac's all first responders were supposed to get, remember the people standing in line last yr waiting for flu shots for a flu that didn't arrive ??? Lets not dull the senses of those we are trying to protect. Don't cry Wolf.

Good first responders, (even those that don't live out in the sticks), should be ready for the worst. Maybe because I live out in the sticks I understand that the Govt. will not arrive to help us in a timely basis because they are taking care of all the morons in the city that didn't prepare.

Maybe I'm just fed up with folks that sit on their backside and blame others for their own mistakes ? (Mayor Nagan)

Pls don't think I'm mad at you Terrie cuz I'm not. My prediction is, The Bird Flu Pandemic will be a flash in the pan. But as a good F/F I will always have a contingency plan. That's what good F/F's do.


12/26 Perhaps the boot and glove issue could be addressed by wearing Birkenstocks with
Nomex socks? Oops, sorry, Birkenstocks are usually leather. Um, hands and feet
wrapped in organically grown lettuce leaves, tied with linguini?

Still Out There as ad AD
12/26 Danfromord, if you live in farmlands/woods rather than a city and have skills... resources like farmers have, you are possibly always prepared. Not so, people in dense urban areas & WUI.

Many of us live in cities or WUI surrounded by people that expect to be rescued in an emergency. In my thinking, they could do with preparation. Cities and towns could have pandemic plans to minimize confusion. So preparation...Don't knock it. At the federal level, it's our business even if we're not up to speed yet. At the individual & family level, it's a Darwin issue. Being prepared means no hysteria, means when push comes to shove you could stay at home to avoid contact with sick people that sneeze and cough germs that could kill you & your family.

If city people are not prepared and self-sufficient when this thing hits, they'll be coming to your farming community, Joe's wilderness resort area and my forest --for food ewtc like some of those fleeing hurricanes would of if they could have. Not necessarily bad if we have the resources, but... some unprepared people could bring their hysterical "save me" and "feed me" attitudes with them and bring their sickies to boot. I'd rather we all --and THEY be as ready as they can where they are.

Danfromord, what's wrong with creating a culture of being prepared? Does it go against our tough firefighter, can-do attitude? Too much to think about? Won't do any good anyway? Well, I beg to differ on that last one. Being prepared even a little gives you options. If you don't have to join people shopping at the grocery store, you won't be one of the unprepared spreading the bug to families in your community.

Re hysterical: If chat discussion indicates anything, no one writing in here about bird flu is hysterical-- No one is chicken little. No shortages, no pressure right now. Just preppin', just dealin', then no needs to think about it.

When I finished getting ready with some food/ water/ alternatives to deal with essential things, I thought: OK, I've done what I can, that's all I need to do. I've met my responsibilities. The rest is up to god to sort out. Ka-ching, I could move on. Now I can help my community. Those who are doing similar service, thank you...

For me and my family, it was a simply GREAT carefree Christmas!

Dan, the only reason Mike wrote in about the Baikal duck is he knows there are federal monitoring stations on National Forests, Wildlife Refuges and Parks that are monitoring and he's trying to find the fed contact for the Lompoc area. Mike, I'm also trying to find the contact for you. Many people are home with family this week and out of touch with their station. Thanks for the heads-up... (Please let me know via Ab if the duck moves on or if you get the info you want.)

Here's to a mighty fine NEW Year! Cheers!

Tahoe Terrie

12/26 AB, to those out there worried about the bird flu and an Asian Duck spotted in Calif., well get a grip, OMG, Birds from Siberia wave been wintering in this area since ??? Only God knows. I personally killed a Snow Goose in this region that had a Russian tag on it back in the early 70's. So, lets not lose anymore sleep over this. If it happens, it happens. Yes! we need to be prepared but lets stop all the hysteria PLEASE! Am I being too complacent about this, I don't think so and I'll bet a lot of folks out there feel the same as I do. I want to reach out through this screen and grab Chicken Little by the throat! "SQUAWK!!!"

This bird flu didn't threaten a pandemic in the '70s. I'm not certain anyone is exactly worried about the duck having it. Could be Mike is just seeking info. Ab.

12/26 To the practicing vegan / Montana Sprout.

Don't eat them.

R4 Rotor

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

From the Abs at wildlandfire.com

12/25 Ab,

I don't mind a bit if you give them my number. We feel like their Christmas had been pretty
well covered since it was so close, however he will have an extremely long road to recovery
and that is what we are looking at.

If you or anyone that you feel needs to contact me, you can give them my number, either
the one that you called earlier which is my home number or my cell. I will be easier to catch
on the cell.

I know that we are all family as Firefighters and his family and him need our prayers more
than anything right now.

(I finally saw some footage of his tanker earlier this morning, he was truly in god's hands to
have survived at all.)

Thank you for your help,


Prayers are coming. Let the family know. Ab.

12/24 Tragedy in East TX

As a Tanker/Tender from the New Summerfield Texas VFD was responding to a large Wildfire, it was struck by a train at a grade crossing, the driver was airlifted to a local hospital where he is in critical condition at this time.

The Wildfire he was responding to has so far consumed over 700 acres including several structures. Units from Jacksonville, Earles Chapel and Tyler Fire Department Haz-Mat were required to respond to the tanker/train incident where they had a large fuel spill from one of the locomotives. Units from Bullard, Flint-Gresham, Earles Chapel, Troup, Arp, New Summerfield and North Cherokee VFD's as well as 3 plows from Texas Forest Service have managed to contain the blaze after a favorable wind shift.

One additional FF from North Cherokee VFD was burned on this incident after a wind shift and blow-up. While all of this incident was unfolding Bullard and Flint-Gresham forced to respond to a wildfire that threatened several buildings, it was contained at 30 acres and no structures lost.

Units in northern Smith County were kept busy on a wildfire that consumed an estimated 300 acres of pasture and timber.

Everyone!!! please remember LCES and watchouts and


Keith, so sorry... I put in a message call to Vicki at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Can I give her your number as a contact to see if the family needs special help? Ab.

12/24 To our members and all wildland firefighters:

Today, Christmas Eve, is like every other day for me...filled with Pride & Honor for having the opportunity to have the greatest job in the world working with and for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters.

It is however, the appropriate time to express that thanks and gratitude to our members, the Board of Directors and all who strive to increase awareness of the issues that our federal wildland firefighters face.

Ever the optimist, I look at 2006 as a time of organizational growth and accomplishment. There is no job I'd rather have (ok ok, President of the United States would be cool), no group I'd rather work for than our federal wildland firefighters.

It is my sincerest hope that all who visit this incredible site will use these holidays to value their families, value the camaraderie we share in this profession and accept the challenge in 2006 to be a part of a movement that will enhance your career and benefit you and your families for years to come.

Thank you for the honor of being a part of this community.

With Great Respect & Affection,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
12/24 Mr. Knox,

All C-130's have "jet engines". They are powered by Allison T-56's turbo-props. Basically a jet engine that turns a propeller. I think what you are referring to is what is called JATO or Jet Assisted Take-off bottle. These bottles are ignited on the take-off roll and jettisoned once airborne. This is a detachable solid rocket booster canister (8-four on each side) that is attached to the back of the aircraft to increase take off performance, comparable to a fifth engine.

As far as the C-119's and the P-2's, these aircraft have (or had) added non-detachable turbo-jet engines that accompany the radial powerplants. Usually Westinghouse J-34-WE-36's that also provide added take off performance, and in the Airtanker roll, better climb performance after the drop run. They are not jetisonable like the JATO bottles and don't burn rocket or jet fuel.

Hope this short choppy reply helps answer your question. I have more last minute X-mas shopping to do.

Merry Christmas to all and Long live the Heavy Tankers

Mud Slinger
12/24 Hey Ab--

I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on how a practicing vegan can
get around the leather boots & gloves requirement for the fireline?

Happy Holidays to all!
Montana Sprout
12/24 Ed Knox

If the information about the C-130 JATO (jet assist take off) doesn't answer your question, I think the engines on the C-130 are a turbo-prop engine. These engine are essentially a jet engine with a propeller attached to the front. A more correct term for these engines would be Gas Turbine engine. Gas turbine engines are used for aviation, industrial and maritime applications. An example would be that the Allison 501-K17 engines on a P-3 orion are also used on Navy destroyers (Burke and Spruance class) and cruisers (Ticonderoga class) to run their generators. I also think that the Abrams tank uses a gas turbine engine but I am not sure on that. Many different companies make gas turbines, including Rolls Royce, which makes one of the more popular models for maritime use.

Hope this helps and Happy Holidays!


12/23 Mellie,

Here is some news for you. There is a Baikal Teal Duck that resides from the
Far East Asia in Lompoc right now. It is on the front cover of the news paper.
This duck has never been seen in the area ever.


I am writing the news paper to find out who they have contacted to get the bird
tested for the bird flu...


That would be good to know. Might check with Mike P on the LP. Ab.

12/23 To the entire fire community,

I just want to thank everyone for all the support and kindness they have shown our
family during the past year. May you all have a safe and happy holiday season and
may your kindness be sent back to you tenfold.

Thanks also to the Abs for this wonderful forum. I have been enlightened in so many
ways and keep on learning every time I check in. A holiday toast to you all!

Lori Greeno
Marcus and Montana
12/23 Ed Knox

The USN Blue Angels have a C-130 with JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) they call "Fat Albert". Check out Cable/Dish TV for a demo. Several planes from the 50s had JATO to assist with lifting off. The C-119s mounted them on top, the C-130 on the fuselage pointing down at a 45 degree angle behind the wings. There are more aviation folks out there to fill in the gaps. The P-2s are an example.

Merry Christmas to All!


12/23 Why sting, thank you very much!

Merry Christmas to All!


12/23 Capt. CHOGI,

Would YOU want to drive a bus in NYC?????
And have you looked at rental rates there recently?????

First Firehead
12/22 Ed Knox,

I dont know about the C130, but its predecessor the C119 had a C119 J version that had a jet assist
mounted on the top of the fuselage. There is a photo of it on the airtanker.com site, just go to the tankers
section then tankers by type and look in type 2.

12/22 Old Guy,

Lobotomy is apparently away working on his grand unifying theory of What Threatens Firefighters? (abbreviated: gutWTF? - I understand the latter part of which stands for something else entirely, but that also seems to match Lobotomy's intuitively questioning attitude.) Because I don't have any annual leave to burn up, here's an idea:

In their first HFACS paper (Feb. 2000) Shappell and Weigmann said this of Reason's Swiss Cheese model:

"Unfortunately, however, it is simply a theory with few details on how to apply it in a real-world setting. In other words, the theory never defines what the “holes in the cheese” really are, at least within the context of everyday operations."

So, naturally, it is quite possible to have different interpretations of how the Swiss Cheese model should be applied to firefighter safety. A person could conceivably attend a NWCG class and disagree with what the instructor says are the "holes" are for wildland fire.

The Federal Aviation Administration has funded a series of research projects to adapt the Swiss Cheese model from its first use with nuclear plant accidents. At first, HFACS created the "taxonomy of unsafe operations" by defining the holes for military aviation accidents. Subsequent research has shown the validity for commercial and general aviation (GA) accidents.

For one of the GA projects, they recruited 5 experienced pilots from the Oklahoma City area and gave them a 16 hour course in HFACS. They then had the pilots review the causal factors listed in GA accident reports. With the first individual effort the pilots agreed on classifying 85% of the factors in the HFACS taxonomy and resolved the other 15% with discussion. (For instance, 2 pilots may have originally differed in opinion whether a causal factor was a skill-based or perception error. They eventually came to consensus and classified 100% of the causal factors in HFACS.)

Perhaps this could be done for wildfire entrapments: both fatal and near-miss incidents. If our DHS grant is approved, Colorado Firecamp could possibly do that as part of our PMS-490 Lessons Learned curriculum revision workshop. The original course put emphasis on the 5-step risk management process.

I don't know if the 5-step process in something Shappell and Weigmann had in mind when they wrote about "interest/fad-driven research resulting in intervention strategies that peck around the edges of accident causation, but do little to reduce the overall accident rate."

Maybe we could statistically prove the validity of the HFACS taxonomy for wildfire accidents. And, then perhaps we could all agree what our Swiss Cheese holes are.

vfd cap'n

12/22 IAWF Elects Board of Directors and President
December 22, 2005

The International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) has recently completed elections for several expiring terms on its Board of Directors, and is pleased to announce the following individuals have been elected:
  • Marc Titus, Wildfire Prevention Coordinator for the State of Washington Department of Natural Resources at Sedro Wooley, to a 3 year term on the Board;
  • Chuck Bushey, owner/president of Montana Prescribed fire Services in Billings and former IAWF Board member and vice-president, was elected to a new 3-year term. Bushey has been managing the IAWF’s “Firenet” website.
  • Rick Gale of Boise, Idaho, Retired National Park Service Wildfire Director and currently with Organizational Quality Associates, was re-elected to a new 3-year term on the Board.

In addition to the election of these 3 Board members, IAWF President Dick Mangan was re-elected to a new 2-year term as President. Mangan, a retired US Forest Service forester, is now owner/president of Blackbull Wildfire Services in Missoula, Montana.

The Board also renewed the contract for Executive Director Bill Gabbert of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Gabbert retired as a Fire Management Officer with the US National Park Service, and is the owner/president of Sagacity Wildfire Services in Hot Springs, and has served as the IAWF Executive Director since January 2005.

The IAWF is an international organization founded to promote a better understanding of wildland fire, built on the belief that an understanding of this dynamic natural force is vital for natural resource management, for firefighter safety, and for harmonious interaction between people and their environment. IAWF has members across the US, Canada, Australia, throughout Europe and Asia. It hosts the annual Wildland Fire Safety Summit, a new series of Conferences “Fire Behavior and Fuels”, and conducts wildland fire Policy Summits to address critical issues in the wildland fire community.

12/22 Did I hear this right, a transit worker in New York (bus driver) earns 60K a year?
on the news last night.

You WO people are weak!

At 47K I'll be dropping all extra items on plate asap and look to moving on.

12/21 Hello abs and all,

I have a question for the forum regarding the education part of the forest service. Does anyone know how online courses work and how do get into them? I am a GS-4 apprentice and I am looking to advance in my education and finish a degree in something. I do have some prior education from a university in CA. Can I use my other credits from CA to help me along? I am now in oregon and want to finish up to make myself happy as well as those who have helped me for the education segments I have completed.

Any info would help and if you want to email me, ab can direct you to me.

12/21 Here's a question from a military man. Anybody?

Tell me more about that C-130A with the jet engines. I'm very interested in it.
If you can't, perhaps you can steer me in the right path to some one that knows
something about it...

Ed Knox

12/21 Mr. Valencia,

It was a pleasure meeting you and the other survivors at the staff ride for the Honda Canyon Fire. It is something I will never forget and will learn from for a long time. Your book puts into perspective things that were going on when folks started to arrive to the fire and when the winds really started to blow. I just got done reading it for the second time, it is funny how you pick things up that you missed the first time.

I hope to see you again when the Vandenberg Training Center hosts the "Tactical Decision Game and Staff Ride Facilitator Course", we will be doing the Honda Canyon Fire for the Staff Ride portion of the facilitator course. I hope to get my dad out there also so he can share what he was going through when he arrived at the fire.

I encourage those who have not read "Beyond Tranquillon Ridge " to do so, it is an excellent read.

Joe, I lost your card from our last meeting, please come by the training center some time after the holidays to say hi.

Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year,

12/21 Dear Ab,

All I want for Christmas is a Benefits Specialist / Workman's Comp. person to
help with some family denial claims.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
12/21 My son is a senior in High school in Northeast Florida. I am looking for a college or
university nearby offering a 4yr degree in fire science. Do you have any suggestions?

Bob Booth

Bob, did you take a look at the 2- and 4-year schools list? Florida firefighters, any other suggestions? Ab.

12/21 old guy,

As you said, "Why mock that which is most enlightening"?

Lobotomy did not mock MCS, he only pointed out what may have been an aberration with the contractor.

If the lapse in the training is true, and I trust Lobo because he has offered reams of 'enlightenment' to this forum, it is a service to the safety of our community to point it out.

I also wonder if you have read all of his posts regarding this manner, he has shown that his position is respectful and well thought out. It has hardly been 'mocking'.

I have kept quiet until now on this matter, I happen to disagree with Lobotomy on many issues. But, to see you verge on slander towards him gets my dander up.

Sign me,
Seeking Fairness and Rationality
12/20 Hi, my name is Justin Neville.

I am a seasonal FF with Forest Service out of the Plumas NF. A few seasonals and I are in Hancock County Mississippi helping a non-profit organization, Foundation Hope, www.foundationhope.net.

We met them when my crew was sent here in October through the agency and FEMA. The efforts of the government to help the people were highly disappointing. So three of us and one guy from another crew came back after we got laid off to help the nonprofit organization get started. We also came down to remove debris from peoples' properties and clear storm-damaged trees for free because contractors are over-charging to do that work. We have been here for about 9 days mostly remodeling an office for Foundation Hope. We bought our own saws and some supplies to come down here and work.

We have just begun our saw work and debris removal, but we have run into some problems. We need some supplies that we cannot get down here. Mainly we need wedges of various sizes, 3 hardhats, chaps 36s or 40s. We also need some spare chains for 28" 50 gauge 3/8 pitch and 18" 50 G 3/8 pitch.

I am requesting that you post this message on "They Said" in hopes that people of wildland firefighting community might be willing to donate these supplies to us. Also if anyone is interested in helping work in Hancock County in the off season, the help is much needed, and we would be more then willing to accommodate.

My email is justin3@ pacbell.net.
My phone # is 510.703.4514.
My buddys brandon # is 918.822.1228.
We can be contacted at either of these numbers or email address.

Thank you very much,
Justin Neville and Brandon Simmons

Ab checked their bona fides and they check out. Much of the saw work is for already downed trees. Plastic wedges in a variety of sizes should work best. Ab.

12/20 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. There are some IHC and engine crew outreaches posted.

There's also an announcement for the 2006 Redding IHC Leadership Development Program Training Opportunity. You can view that via this link:


12/20 Dear Ab and All,

I wish all of you could be here in this office this time of year.
It is full of Christmas cards, hot coffee, cookies, and lots of emotions.
Families come by... to talk about their beloved ones,
Some come... just to rest and see their firefighter's picture on the wall.
People, well wishers and families, send cards of appreciation,
lauding the season and the firefighting community.
Parents call up... to say they're so touched to receive
something in memory of their son or daughter...
especially during the Holidays
when memories of those who are gone are often hard to bear.
Widows call... crying with joy because of the miracle
of some extra money sent by firefighters to help Santa treat the kids.
People calling, visiting, laughing, crying, eating cookies, hugging...
expressing thanks that SOMEONE REMEMBERED.

That SOMEONE who REMEMBERED is our Wildland Firefighting Community.
That SOMEONE is the collective YOU,
YOU who are helping out so many, one person at a time.

Many Rich Blessings to All

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks to all who help. Ab.

12/20 Ab, regarding the retirement party for Chaz... (announcement posted below and on the Classifieds page)

"Chaz" is Charlie Stumpf. He's been on the San
Bernardino and Cleveland National Forest. Charlie has done it all,
engines, shots, aviation. If you're looking for a fun after holiday party
come on down!

Thanks again!


12/20 Re: 1977 Honda Canyon fire that was on Vandenberg Air Force Base CA


In addition to the four who died in the fire, there were eight overruns involving at least 40+ people. Here is a rundown of the overruns on the morning of 20 December 1977.

Fire Overruns on South Vandenberg – December 20th 1977

Overrun of Vandenberg Engine#12 Crew. Time: 8:56 to 9:05 am.
Location: Near Origin on Tranquillon Ridge.
Effects: Engine#12 damaged (burned and blistered). Men seek cover behind engine and on roadway and survive.

Overrun of Commander & base Fire Officials, SBCo BC and Dozer Operator. Time: 9:36 to 10:00 am.
Location: Avery Road and Camera Pad.
Effects: Commander & base Fire Officials killed—when they exit vehicle and run. SBCo BC and crew overrun in
vehicle. They suffer from smoke & heat but survive. Dozer operator exposed to fire. Dies 19 days later.

Overrun of SBCo Strike Team, VAFB Engine#11, and Security Police. Time: 9:40 to 10:00 am.
Location: Delphy Road and Surf Road Intersection.
Effects: All stay in vehicles and all survive.

Overrun of Ambulance #3 transporting burned dozer operator. Time: 10:10 to 10:20 am.
Location: Coast Road. One half mile north of Delphy Road exit.
Effects: Fire impingement. Ambulance #3 backs out. Second attempt successful.

Overrun of Vandenberg and County Bulldozers. Time: 10:55 to 11:20 am.
Location: Perimeter Road around east side of SLC-4 Complex.
Effects: D6 Bulldozers overrun, operators drive into ice-plant and fenced areas for protection from firestorm.

Overrun of SLC-4 Titan Complex. Time: 11:00 to 11:20 am.
Location: Nearly all of SLC-4, including west and east pads.
Effects: Engine, Tanker and crews trapped. One firefighter injured seriously, all survive. Injured fireman rescued.

Overrun of Vandenberg bulldozer and Rescue truck on Plato Road. Time: About 2:00 pm.
Location: Plato Road, North of SLC-4 Titan Complex.
Effects: Caught by swift moving fire—cutting off exits. Dozer dives into burned area. All Survive.

Overrun of Two Vandenberg Firefighters on Coast Road. Time: About 2:00 to 2:30 pm.
Location: Coast Road
Effects: Firefighters Alt and Scott are caught by swift moving fire. Sustain burns and transferred to Hospital.

The highest recorded winds on Tranquillon Ridge was 103 knots (117 MPH).


Thanks, Joseph N. Valencia
Author: Beyond Tranquillon Ridge

12/20 Lobotomy:

Why mock that which is most enlightening, when so little is shared in a time when so many need to know more?

Compared to what the agencies had available for leadership training, even less than five years ago, the firefighting community ought to be very thankful for all the courses and work being shared now. There should be no whining allowed. And for those who feel they can do better - step up NOW and show us what you got. Perhaps some feedback on your early postulations may increase your overall effort.

Why are we focusing so much on Leadership training and building the skill bank. It all goes back to the mid-nineties when the Forest FMOs at the annual conferences raised their hands when asked, "who will be gone (retired or moved on,) in three years, five years, 10 years?"

Well that time has come and many have gone. Natural born leaders stand up and take criticism, they build on it, to them "battery" is not lumps, it is motivation. The wise leaders follows, and listens, and when corralled - opens the corral to let new horses in.

What businesses like MC Solutions represent is the collectivities of those leaders that have moved on. In their absence, we lean to the science and the academic, proven and studied research.

Lobotomy, please give us a sampling of your work- forfeit one idea or theory for the best interest of the crowd (readers.) In times of derision the best advice is to share.

You up to the challenge?

-- old guy

Lobotomy sent an Ab message with his last clarifying post saying that he's gone until the new year. He is working on a paper.

12/20 Mellie,

I just attended L-381, it is very effective and engaging. It builds on concepts covered through the entire L-Series.
If you haven't seen it already, a good overview of the class can be found at the MCS website here:

Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year to you Dear Lady,
12/20 Today, December 20, is the 28th anniversary of the 1977 Honda Canyon fire that was on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Three people were killed, including the Base Commander Colonel Joseph Turner, Fire Chief Billy Bell, and Assistant Fire Chief Eugene Cooper. Additionally, severe burns were experienced by Heavy Equipment Operator Clarence McCauley. He later died due to complications from the burns. (source: IAWF Wildland Fire Event Calendar)

Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire

For date, time, location, & reservations, use this link: "Chaz"

(Post with Charlie's photo is on the Classifieds page under Announcements)


Merry Christmas! Thanks for doing this, Jim. The Abs.

Holiday Notice Last Day

They Said It readers get an exclusive 15% discount at The Supply Cache.
Use discount code WFCOM01 (WFC"oh"M"zero"1) when shopping for wildland firefighter gifts!
Better hurry, their last shipping day is the 19th!

~The Abs, Jim & Diane and the crew from the Supply Cache

12/19 Dear Friends:

During this holiday season, I hope people continue to prepare for being self sufficient for some months as we deal with the avian flu. We definitely have a killer influenza virus on the move, geographically and across species. It may not be airborne yet, but it is ever more transmissible human to human. The genetics point to the changes, as do the family clusters of infection in Jakarta Indonesia. Scientists around the world are extremely concerned.

Local tests show Indonesian boy died of bird flu

The United Nations urged Jakarta to take steps to halt the spread of the disease.

"We are losing the battle against this particular avian influenza outbreak. It is a very nasty bird flu virus," David Nabarro, the U.N. coordinator for avian influenza, told Indonesian officials at a meeting in Jakarta.

"Act as though a pandemic influenza will start tomorrow. Don't think we can wait around and not worry it won't start for six months or one year," Nabarro said. "Once, it starts it is too late to prepare."

Children would be the most vulnerable group, he said.

Another report (on a business website) based on what the UN spokesman said:

World Is Losing Battle to Combat Bird Flu, UN Says

Outbreaks among birds in Ukraine, Romania and possibly Africa show the deadly H5N1 avian flu strain is spreading, David Nabarro, the UN's avian flu coordinator, told Indonesian government officials and reporters today in Jakarta.


12/18 Does the Forest Service or the BLM have a business pandemic plan? Anyone know?

Business Forum: What if 30% of your workers call in sick?

Be sure your company is on solid legal ground, just in case.

Business Forum: History teaches what's best in a leader.

Whenever I ask prospective clients "How can I be the most help to you?" the best executives answer: "Help me anticipate future problems."

So I am distressed to pass on a Dec. 2 report from national consulting firm Deloitte- Touche concluding that "American businesses are only beginning to recognize that a flu pandemic would present a danger to their employees, operations and bottom line."

Deeper in the report is the equally distressing news that a basic pandemic risk-management technique -- waiving sick-leave restrictions to encourage work from home -- is either rejected or undecided by more than 73 percent of firms surveyed.

So, I ask you, when an employee reports his or her life-threatening communicable disease, what exactly are you going to tell them?

Why are so many American companies sitting on their hands regarding a possible flu pandemic?

A failure of leadership.

Read the rest of the article. Ask your bosses what's up?

Tahoe Terrie

12/18 I don't have experience with the Leadership-381 training. I'm curious.

What is L-381? What redcard positions require it? If it builds on L-380,
how does it do so? Does it go into human factors in greater depth?
Somebody send me the syllabus? Ab can put us in touch.

Lobotomy, I greatly appreciate the highly academic and research-oriented
approach you bring to all you do. Wildland fire is lucky to have you as an
advocate. If you're off on vacation, have a good one!


12/18 Lobotomy:

Thanks for the thoughtful response. Your independent research project sounds interesting. I'll look forward to reading your paper when it is published, particularly if it has been reviewed, and especially if it has been reviewed by Dr. Reason.

Something that frustrates me about this forum is that, too often, posters assume that the person on the other side of the conversation knows nothing (particularly if they do not agree with that person, or the other person challenges their thinking). You and I have similar tastes in reading. I've read both Human Error by Reason and The Human Factors Classification and Analysis System - HFACS by Shappell & Wiegmann. I've spent a fair amount of time with this, and other, material incorporating it into the work I do, and preparing myself to teach others about both concepts. I must admit that by previous post was a bit garbled, though I'm not sure the purist distinctions between are important or useful for this discussion.

The Forest Service Accident Investigation Guide has little to do with your original post or mine. You stated that you had listened to a description of the Swiss Cheese Model in an L-381 class, and that they "f*ed it all up," and used that as evidence of a "general lack of understanding" of the model. I suppose that's what I most took issue with. Your personal observation of a single instructor, in a single course, supporting the conclusion that there is some "general lack of understanding" of the Swiss Cheese Model. I really mean nothing personally, but I don't agree with your assessment of a general lack of understanding and I don't consider the incident you posted as evidence of a general lack of understanding. In fact, I would have to say that, in the last few years, awareness in the Federal fire agencies of the model and the concept have gone from "0" to thousands of people understanding the basic concept (largely due to the initiative of MCS.)

Thanks for including the citations, in case blackliner and I had not done the reading. Plus its good for people to see stuff like that in a forum like this. For my part, I've read them all before on my own. If I understand right, you've chosen those citations to support your position that Forest Service "hijacked" Reason's work and turned it into an investigative, blame-placing tool. Well, that's changing the subject, and while the application of primary research could be the subject of another, long post, I won't go there.

As for inadvertently "dissing" MCS, it's not like I'm on their Christmas card list; and they're not on mine, but I thought your post and subsequent posts were out of line. We'll just chalk your post up to a someone who didn't have all their facts before they posted (sorry I couldn't pass that one up, and you earned it 8->) I will suggest that when you're in touch with Mark Smith, in addition to registering your complaints, you ask him about who at MCS has researched the model, their backgrounds, and how many hours they've spent with that material. I expect you'll be impressed.

Lobotomy, I do not question your intent, and never have. I do question what you often portray as "facts." Again, intending no personal offense, it is my experience that it is easy for a person to confuse their understanding of events, interpretations they have made, conclusions they have come to - in other words, their beliefs - with facts.

Good luck to you, keep us on the straight and narrow, keep fighting for the safety of firefighters - get that paper done.

Happy Holidays!
Sign me,
12/17 Ab,

My "piling on" to Lobotomy's comment was not an attack on the training vendor in question. It is an observation that I have previously communicated to the Leadership development folks, as well as to NIFC and regional Agency training/safety contacts.

Namely: by choosing not to develop their own curriculum for L-380 and L-381, NWCG has given vendors the goose that lays the golden eggs.

My point is that the resulting high cost of a single seat in one of these classes is more than many VFDs can budget for an entire year's worth of training for their entire department. Even many local agency units or whole forests can't afford the training, unless they get special regional funds.

If you read the comments on the annual 5109 review, there are apparently many in the field who believe L-380 should be required for the single resource boss qual. You can almost hear the choking sound in the official USFS response, as they consider the financial impact.

Of course, readers should take everything I post with a grain of salt. My world view is clearly distorted by my volunteer and non-profit outlook.

vfd cap'n

ps, Excuse me for asking, but given the scope and depth of the www.fireleadership.gov website, what could possibly be proprietary in these classes?
12/17 GGfire and blackliner,

Thank you for your messages. I didn’t mention MCS in my post and was unaware that they had proprietary rights in the instruction of the leadership classes or I would have toned down my post a bit. I am sure they do a great job 99% of the time. But like humans and the Forest Service, sometimes they are capable of mistakes. Like I said many times before, I am a full supporter of the leadership program and the leaders they produce. I have many of them working with me, for me, and above me.

That said, I’ll get back to the facts.

GGfire and blackliner, HFACS is not the Swiss Cheese Model. HFACS is an analysis and classification database model introduced to the FAA by Shappell & Wiegmann. That model somehow migrated to the Wildland Fire Community as a potentially useful tool. The terms “Swiss Cheese Model” and “HFACS” are not interchangeable.

The analysis and classification model they introduced was partially based upon the work of Dr. James Reason but missed some of the very important concepts that Dr. Reason speaks about…. Specifically, that it is more important to concentrate on removing the “holes” in the latent areas than concentrating most of the efforts in the active failures. People f*up… they are human. Concentrate on the things you can fix such as organizational, cultural, sociological, and psychological aspects of the job.

The HFACS intent was to classify human factors so they could be placed into an analysis system for future use such as investigative procedures and prevention programs. HFACS is a great way to break down the human factors associated with both the latent and active phases of an accident or incident.

So where did the disconnect happen? Somewhere, the ideas of Dr. Reason and others got hijacked to write investigative procedures that focus on blame (pilot error, human error) and not the true holes in the ‘complex systems’ that could be fixed. The USFS guide on accident investigations relies heavily on HFACS info as do many current policies and procedures. Unfortunately, so do many aspects of our safety programs. Somehow, causal factors have become the “active” failures that assign blame and the contributory factors have become the “contributory factors”. www.nifc.gov/safety_study/accident_invest/accident_invest_guide.pdf

> Dr. James Reason, Human Errors

“There is a growing awareness within the human reliability community that attempts to discover these latent failures will have a greater beneficial effect upon safety than will localized efforts to minimize active errors.”
“One of the consequences of the developments outlined above is that complex tightly-coupled and highly defended systems have become increasingly opaque to the people who manage, maintain, and operate them. This opacity has two aspects: not knowing what is happening and not understanding what the system can do.”

> Abstract, HFACS, Shappell & Wiegmann, 2000

“Human error has been implicated in 70 to 80% of all civil and military aviation accidents. Yet, most accident reporting systems are not designed around any theoretical framework of human error. As a result, most accident databases are not conducive to a traditional human error analysis, making the identification of intervention strategies onerous. What is required is a general human error framework around which new investigative methods can be designed and existing accident databases restructured. Indeed, a comprehensive human factors analysis and classification system (HFACS) has recently been developed to meet those needs. Specifically, the HFACS framework has been used within the military, commercial, and general aviation sectors to systematically examine underlying human causal factors and to improve aviation accident investigations. This paper describes the development and theoretical underpinnings of HFACS in the hope that it will help safety professionals reduce the aviation accident rate through systematic, data-driven investment strategies and objective evaluation of intervention programs.”

> David Learmount, Flight International

“The worlds flight safety specialists have given up trying to eliminate human error. Now, the aim is to understand error and to control, or "manage" it. This strategy holds the key to improving airline flight safety, they say.”

> Dr. James Reason

"The best people can make the worst mistakes. Inattention, forgetfulness, preoccupation are the least manageable parts of an error sequence. Managing error-producing situations is better."

"They blame and train; write another procedure, search for a missing piece of knowledge (in the person); or an inherent tendency to make an error...[however] it is better to try to eliminate error-provoking situations."


P.S. – GGfire and blackliner, I have spent well over 200 hours in the last year researching the Swiss Cheese Model for a future paper. I have also been trying to contact Dr. Reason for some additional information and hopefully for a review of my paper. When I finally write my paper, I expect to have nearly 1,000 hours of research in it. If any instructor on the Swiss Cheese Model wants to question my intent, Ab has my e-mail address and I will happily correspond with them. All of this research is on my own time and because I feel there are some mistakes being made in the way we are currently doing business that ultimately makes wildland firefighting unsafe. As hard as we try, wildland firefighters continue to die.

12/17 Just read the post from Scott Whitmire, the Assistant Coordinator of the Apprentice Program.

Is that the same Scott Whitmire who rookied in Redding around 1986? The Mayor of Pogueville? Barracks roommate of Jim Hanson? If is it is I just wanted to send my regards as a fellow, former jumper who has not heard hide nor hair of so many of the bros since I left to pursue "other endeavors". Keep the faith, stand tall, eat rocks and glass, etc.

Joe Hill

12/17 I order them from the National Association of State Foresters when I order the Smokey Bear calendars.

Attached is the link to Smokey Bear page of their web site. There is contact information for them there.

12/16 I found it very disturbing that Lobotomy and vfd cap'n both felt the need
to rip on MCS's explanation of the Swiss Cheese Model and lament the
costs of their sessions. My experience in their class was outstanding and
now make it a point to send our people to them. With respect to cost, it
is absolutely money well spent.

12/16 Mark Smith,

Thank you for your reply. I will be contacting you via e-mail with the
specifics and my concerns.

12/16 Here is a strange question for you. Does anyone know where you can get the
clear plastic protective covers for the small Smokey Calendar books?

12/16 Good afternoon.

I felt compelled to write an observation regarding the
allegations made against Mission Centered Solutions (MCS). We have
utilized them for four years at the National Wildland Firefighter
Apprenticeship Program. In that time they have been the epitome of what we
expect our instructors to be. Professional, knowledgeable, treating the
students with fairness and respect, we could not find a better provider.
And they have always endeavored to communicate and solicit feedback, even
taking their lumps when necessary. I do not know what happened in the
session Lobotomy speaks of, but I do know that it is unfair to impugn the
integrity of MCS. I have seen the result of their classes on over 1,000
people, and I have witnessed their performance as instructors and coaches.
I believe the taxpayer is served exceedingly well by our contract with this
upstanding group.

Scott Whitmire - Assistant Coordinator, Apprenticeship Program

12/16 Lobo, NMAB and all,

I would hope that Lobo had a serious discussion with the instructor and the company prior to bad rappin them in this widely read forum. As you have said in the past Lobotomy, FACTS! You seem to have posted unsubstantiated innuendos which seem to serve no purpose other than rabblerousing.

I must weigh in with GGFire on this issue. The contractor in question has always presented a fantastic product for the wildland fire community with an emphasis being on making it better. As with GGFire, I am not affiliated with the company in question. I do however believe in their product and do not feel as some do that have posted here that the Land Management Agencies can produce the leadership program without the partnership that has been formed with the contractor. Their instructors that I have had the pleasure of observing are top notch, have life experience and truly believe in the leadership program. They constantly seem to be asking “are we making a difference”?

I attend their training sessions yearly at the Apprentice Academy as an observer to see for myself that they were still “on track” and teaching our apprentices the ‘right stuff”. Have you done that Lobotomy or are you basing your perceptions on one encounter??

12/16 I heard that Ms Townsend will be in Boise next week.

That's this Ms Townsend:

Press Gaggle After Avian Flu Tabletop Exercise with Homeland Security Advisor
Fran Townsend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt, and
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff
The Stakeout

Do you think she's going to be trying to dial in the Incident Management Teams?

sign me MTWO

12/16 I just wanted to say- Thank you to all the folks who supported our Fire GIS community. I was hoping to wait for the official (written) word from the IOSWT but since I haven't seen it yet I thought I'd go on the fact that we verified it with at least 3 separate IOSWT members' spoken word....

The GISS is back in the PMS 310-1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For those who can't comprehend why I'm so excited and thankful- I was personally told a number of times that we had no chance at getting it back in from varying levels of GS way higher than mine. So thank you Abs for the forum to keep my spirits up and not give up. Thank you to the fire community that uses our maps and spoke out, and especially to the people who helped us lobby. Thank you to the NWCG IOSWT who listened to the facts, respected the effort that was put into following the process, and recognized that the standards are necessary.

Also if there are any lurkers out there that do fire GIS or are curious about it- there is a new yahoogroup listserve (that requires membership) that is being set up right now. It's replacing the old FIRESCOPE one cause we're national now. We're just starting to get the word out.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GISS_group/ You are welcome to join our geeky GIS group.

Now onto our Standard Operating Procedures-

Excellent!!! Ditto on the thanks to the community for lending support for an important firefighting tool. Ab.

12/16 Hey Ed, good news!

NorCal Tom

12/16 Many thanks for the advice on cooking Turkey in a kettle bar -b- q.
I will try it on Christmas Day.
Merry Christmas from Sydney Australia.

Malcolm Booth

Welcome Malcolm. Happy eating! Ab.

12/16 Lobo:

Great thoughts on what I would consider a serious breach of contract by the
trainers with the trainees to train them as leaders, and evidently you were one
of them.

Mark Smith:
You have a serious problem if Lobo's perceptions are correct and they
always have been in the past. Fix it.

All of us dedicated to cutting edge training in this business need to continue to
uphold the highest standards period. No exceptions.

12/16 Dear Ab:

Wasn't there, so can't say that Lobotomy is incorrect on his assessment of the presentation he witnessed. However, I will say that I am pretty darn familiar with the contract provider and their work (no I am not associated with the company). It so happens that very few people in the wildland fire service would even know about James Reason or the HFACS ("Swiss Cheese Model") if it were not for MCS. Don't know Lobotomy or their qualifications, but "surprised" would be an understatement if I were to find that Lobotomy has better knowledge of Reason's work than the people at MCS.

Maybe an individual instructor had a bad day and "f*ed it all up" today, but people (including vfd cap'n) should be careful about piling on. The company in question is responsible for much of the meaningful human factors work being done in the wildland fire agencies.

No genius, but I do feel that because of considerable work in the human factors field, I probably have a better understanding of the model than the average bear. I've never responded on the subject before, (it usually takes some slander to provoke me to post), but I must say, that over time I have seen several people, including Lobotomy, citing James Reason and the "Swiss Cheese Model" in this forum who I felt had, at best, a somewhat tenuous grasp on the HFACS, and were distorting it's principles to support their position.

I would hope that most They Said users, having experienced a less-than-satisfactory contracted training experience would find a more productive way to address their concerns than to nail the provider on a public website.

Please sign me,

12/15 Hi ab,

This is Mark Smith, from Mission-Centered Solutions. We are the provider for L-381 Incident Leadership. "Lobotomy" expressed the following concern in a post earlier today (12/15) -

"6) General lack of understanding of Dr. James Reason's Swiss Cheese Model (I listened to a description in an L-381 class today, they f*ed it all up). Can I say that? I would hope if someone is teaching a theory or an idea that they completely research the foundation behind it..... especially for $20,000 for two classes. Hopefully this was just an anomaly."

MCS has been working with the Swiss Cheese Model, and more importantly, the safety philosophies and error resilient systems design of high reliability organizations that Dr. Reason espouses for over 13 years in training aviation, wildland and military crews and teams, conducting investigations and post-incident reports, training accident investigation teams in the
Human Factors Analysis and Classification System and in the recent foundational doctrinal work during the Pulaski Conference.

So for us, the concern "Lobotomy" raises is pretty serious. I am currently checking with all six of the instructors of the two courses we have running this week to see what feedback was given to them about their presentations on the Human Error section of L-381, where James Reason's Swiss Cheese Model for error causation is used.

I would also appreciate hearing from "Lobotomy" more specific feedback on where he or she felt the presentation was not accurate. We try very hard to practice what we teach and identify and break error chains when they are detected. Clearly, we have a vested interest in not fu@%ing it all up if we are to continue the important work of developing strong leaders and getting more people home safe in the fire service.


Mark Smith
email: MSmith@ MCSolutions.com
12/15 Lobotomy, you should give feedback to the company if you were
dissatisfied with some part of the class. I've heard they're responsive
to any suggestions and concerns.

I participated in L-380 last spring and it was excellent! I know I
made the instructors a bit nervous because I'm a stress psychologist,
but they had good info. Excellent class.


12/15 Lobotomy,

Apparently you can say that. And, said well, in my estimation.

I wonder about the proprietary curriculum development of the Leadership
courses, especially since most of the material comes from public domain

It's a shame that the high cost doesn't necessarily buy quality training,
even when most of the fire service can't afford it anyway.

vfd cap'n
12/15 For I'm Back and anyone else with specific questions concerning the
Apprenticeship Program, please feel free to contact any of the
Apprenticeship Program staff either on the phone or through e-mail. You can
find our phone numbers here:


We are more than happy to answer any question that you have.

cescott@ fs.fed.us
(916) 640-1040

I can vouch for Cara. Any questions, give her a call. Thanks Cara. Ab.

12/15 Ab, you have probably already heard this info. It was in the Redlands Daily Facts a few days ago... my local newspaper and I saw a short blurb on CNN. It adds some promise in preventing an avian flu influenza or other flu pandemic in the future. It is pretty cool that they are thinking outside of the box at other ways to produce a vaccine.
From Redlands Daily Facts, 12/12/2005: http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/news/ci_3302808

Bird-flu vaccine may be near
BEN BAEDER, Staff Writer

A Cal Poly Pomona instructor and a team of Los Angeles-based researchers say they are close to creating a vaccine against the avian flu, which has caused 70 deaths in Asia and which scientists believe has the potential to cause a worldwide pandemic.

Medical microbiologist Jill Adler-Moore and the team at the small Los Angeles firm Molecular Express Inc., have developed a vaccine that seems to be working in mice and has gained the attention of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Dave Dagle, a CDC spokesman.

"They are working on a universal influenza vaccine that has shown promise," Dagle said. "It's in an early stage, but we are interested in partnering with them."

For those who think Avian Flu and preparedness doesn't directly connect to wildland fire discussions.... Please consider...

1) Fire Camps
2) Extended Families and Friends who could lose loved ones
3) Non-traditional responses that increase exposure needlessly
4) Airline travel that increases exposure
5) Lack of general preparedness or knowledge of the risks involved (much like requiring a Professional Wildland Firefighter to become a biological scientist, forester, etc "or the equivalent")
6) General lack of understanding of Dr. James Reason's Swiss Cheese Model (I listened to a description in an L-381 class today, they f*ed it all up). Can I say that? I would hope if someone is teaching a theory or an idea that they completely research the foundation behind it..... especially for $20,000 for two classes. Hopefully this was just an anomaly.
6) and the reliance on letting someone else "take the charge"....."Hey, they are already doing
something about it"... "I don't have to act or participate. I'll be fine just doing it the way I have always done it".

Getting prepared = Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Facts speak louder than opinions (for most people).


12/14 Can someone give me advice?

I seem to be stuck here. I am coming up on my 8th season with the forest service. After the MEL year I received an appointment and attended the academy in Sacramento. However my life took a turn and I resigned from the Forest Service, but I was always a wildland firefighter at heart. So I came back and worked on an engine crew last year. I decided I wanted to come back for good, so I started applying for AFEO positions. To cover my bases I applied for the apprenticeship because I was nearing the end of my reinstatement eligibility. Now I have been offered an apprenticeship position and I am wondering a lot of things. Since I have already completed the Academy will I have to go back? And what happens if one of the many AFEO positions I have applied for comes through? Will I be held to the infamous contract and owe the FS lots of money? If you guys don't know the answers to these questions, can you tell me who to contact to answer these for me? Thanks in advance and I want to thank the ABs for this forum to get issues and questions resolved.

I'm Back

If no one knows, I'd be happy to contact someone at the Academy. Ab.

12/14 Hi to all:

For those that attended the FWFSA membership conference recently, if you have any digital photos of the event you could e-mail me, I'd be delighted to incorporate them into our next newsletter. Please e-mail them to FWFSAlobby@ aol.com. Thanks in advance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
12/14 Abs,

Here's the info on retired San Diego Fire Department BC Ken Rice's services.
All events will be on Monday, December 19, 2005

Memorial Service - 1000 Hours
Saint Gregory the Great Catholic Church (Scripps Ranch)
11451 Blue Cypress Drive, San Diego, CA 92131

Graveside Service following Memorial Service (approx 1230 hrs)
El Camino Memorial Park, Firefighter's Rest
5600 Carrol Canyon Road, San Diego, CA 92121

Celebration of Ken's life following Graveside Service (approx 1500 hrs)
Elks Lodge
1400 East Washington Avenue, El Cajon, CA

Active duty firefighters are requested to be in Class A uniform for the church and
graveside services. At Ken's request, Hawaiian attire is appropriate for active
duty firefighters at the Elks Lodge. Retired personnel and civilians are requested
to wear Hawaiian attire for all events.

John Fisher
San Diego Fire Department

Thanks John. Ab.

12/13 A letter of appreciation and thanks!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a week already since I attended the FWFSA conference in Reno. I’d planned to get this message written soon after returning, but it seems time failed to pause as I struggled to get my thoughts in order.

Regardless, it was indeed a great pleasure to meet and speak with many of the FWFSA attendees and to find out they are participants and contributors here. Many of them I’ve only known through their aliases or monikers. It was also fun to meet several folks who admitted they are long time lurkers. I encouraged them to write and express their opinions on topics of interest, while respecting their preference. It’s my experience that it’s just a matter of time – short or long - before a person gets their button pushed and they won’t be able to remain lurking.

While enjoying the fine prime rib, conversation, and ceremonies during the opening night banquet, I was surprised to hear my name called from the podium. I was summoned to the front by Mr. Casey Judd who presented me with an award from the FWFSA for “your efforts on behalf of Federal Wildland Firefighters”. I was very pleased to have the FWFSA believe I was worthy of such an honor, especially when there were several others who received an award, whose efforts and accomplishments I consider much more significant. I was so excited, I couldn’t think of a darn thing to say, so I grabbed the plaque, shook Casey’s hand, and hurried back to my seat.

Those of you who know me a bit are probably aware I’m far more comfortable using a keyboard to communicate and I habitually avoid speaking in front of an audience. Regardless of my social shortcomings, I’m still very proud to have received the award from the FWFSA and have placed it in a prominent location here in my office. I am happy we here at Wildlandfire.com have been able to use our website and resources to help promote and support what we consider an extremely important wildland fire organization.

I realize there have been a few messages posted here skeptical of the value or effectiveness of the FWFSA, but I doubt anyone is really dumb enough to think our esteemed government leaders simply awoke one day and decided the salary cap was unfair and should be abolished. Ten years from now, new folks may hear of the long dead policy and be unable to comprehend how it was ever allowed to exist. As a highly interested observer of the process to have the salary cap removed, I can tell you for a fact that without the FWFSA, the law would still be in effect. If you are a federal wildland firefighter, I encourage you to take the time and explore what the organization is and what it is doing for you.

Meanwhile, back at the conference, it seemed no sooner had I sat down and dug back into my dinner than Vicki Minor of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation was up and speaking. As I was deciding whether to eat one more bite of the under cooked carrots or forget ‘em and polish off the beef instead, Vicki called me back to the front of the audience. I hurriedly chewed and tried swallowing a last mouthful of steak, while she informed the audience I was being presented a bronze statute humanitarian award from the WFF. As I made my way to the podium, hundreds of thoughts and memories flashed through my mind. I again thought of the other folks I knew who had received the highly prestigious award and wondered that I was worthy. I thought of my trip to Boise last Spring to the airport statue dedication and getting to meet Vicki and her staff; I remembered how sad I was, then in some way angry, as I visited the WFF offices and viewed the photographs on the walls of way too many fallen firefighters; I thought of the Ken Perry benefit run and how one person’s desire to help became such an inspiration to us all. Now that was a shining example of how a simple idea evolved to include outstanding support that steamrolled across all the boundaries we wildland firefighters too often allow to impede our progress.

I recalled the extraordinary pride I had in our They Said readers for their quick and aggressive support to help resolve that little memorial upkeep issue in Boise this year. And then, I thought of the person who posted to They Said It advising us that writing letters to any of the Idaho Congress members would be an effort in futility. The writer declared with apparent authority that the local Senator didn’t want to hear about anything to do with firefighters.

Then I mounted the steps, received the award, turned to face the audience . . . and of course, I couldn’t think of anything profound to say. One thing I was able to get across was to say “don’t let anyone tell you something can’t be done”. As I’ve moseyed through my life thus far, I’ve noticed there are always those who seemed happy to tell you why it is impossible to do something. Were we all to have listened to the above pessimist regarding the futility of taking any action on the memorial issue and just sat on our hands, they would have been right. As it turned out, it only took a couple of weeks of credible communication to create a new arrangement more focused on listening and sharing. My sincere congratulations to each and every one of you for your efforts on this and other issues!

What I also tried to say was that I was deeply honored to receive the award, but that I would only accept it on behalf of the thousands of loyal and dedicated They Said It contributors. While we may provide a place and opportunity to facilitate communication, it is only through your active participation that our wildland firefighting family enjoys any success or influence. I’ll plan on creating a representation of the statue and find a nice place to share it with you all on They Said It. We can look at it now and then, especially when one of those “my crew is better than your crew” discussions threaten to erupt, and instead reflect a moment on what we’ve accomplished when we’ve worked together.

My many thanks to you one and all. I enjoy continuing to learn from you daily.

Steve Myers
President – Wildlandfire.com LLC
12/13 Just found out 12/13/05 that Redding Smokejumper Chris Gunter
had passed away , not sure on details yet .

Just letting the fire community know we lost a good firefighter ....

David Juenke ( Rocko )

Condolences. Ab.

12/13 > From a tragic incident a few months ago.... Wear your damn seatbelt!!!!

Preliminary Report (8/31/2005): www.firefighterclosecalls.com/...pdf pdf file

Informational Summary Report (9/26/2005): www.firefighterclosecalls.com/...pdf pdf file

Keep Safe and Those Around You Safe.


Also good advice for travel over the holidays. Ab.

12/12 In the spirit of this Christmas Season, we here at Wildlandfire.com are pleased to present our faithful readers with a small reward.

Talking with Jim Felix of The Supply Cache over the weekend, we've come to an arrangement for our They Said It viewers to receive a 15% discount on all orders placed through Dec. 19th.

If you're like us, you may not have finished your shopping yet and some of you may not have started. There's less than a couple of weeks to take advantage, so head over to Jim's site now for plenty of great gift ideas for the wildland firefighters in your life.

During your checkout process you'll need to insert the discount code of WFCOM01to qualify your order. The first round thing in the code is the letter O (oh) and the second is the number 0 (zero).

Our thanks and a Merry Christmas to our community and Jim and his staff for making this offer happen so quickly!

Original Ab.

Thanks OA and Jim. Hi Kelly! (Are you one of Santa's helpers?)

12/12 Dear Ab,

I just talked to a co-worker of Ray Ruiz (Golden Eagles Hotshot) who is in the ICU at Grossmont Hospital. She told me that Ray has 5 little kids, ages 8 months to 11 years old. Mom is using any money sent to her to pay bills, so Christmas is going to be lean. We have added them to our list of families needing "Santa's Help" for Christmas. There were 12 kids of wildland firefighters originally on our list; now there are 17. If there is still a little Santa left in you, please contact us (to be a Santa, visit our website at www.wffoundation.org).

We will be sending the money we've received to our moms at the end of this week, along with the names of each one of you tender-hearted firefighter supporters who have contributed to this wonderful project.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks, Vicki. Ab.

12/12 Retired SDFD Battalion Chief Kenny Rice died today at 1316 hrs.
For those who don't know, Kenny had been battling cancer for the
past several years. If I recall correctly, he retired in 2003.

Ken was well known both in San Diego and across the wildland
community. He was an Operations Section Chief of one of the SoCal
Type 2 Incident Management Teams. I'll post more about funeral
details when I learn about them.

John Fisher
San Diego Fire-Rescue

Please offer our condolences to his family and do let us know about services in case some can go. Ab.

12/11 On the west coast of the US, Pacific time zone, the CNN Sanjay Gupta special entitled
"Killer Flu, just a breath away" is on at both 7pm and 10pm.

The National Geographic flu program (on the NG network) is on at 6pm and at 9pm.

Hotshot's Mom

12/10 Shea,

I just explored answers to your question with a young friend of mine who is currently a helo pilot working part time for Erickson Skycrane. He does not have a military background but he is steadily building hours.

The key here is getting carded by the USFS to do mission-oriented helo work (not point-to-point flying). The minimum number of flying hours to be carded at all is still 1500 total hours with a minimum of 100 hours in mission ("special use") flying or as co-pilot for mission flying. Remember these are absolute minimums.

The bottom line here is to keep racking up those safe hours of flying be it fixed wing or helo or, best for fire, mission helo. The more hours airborne you have the more saleable you are to get the specialized OJT that you need and maybe also some real work that leads into fire aviation.

Fly safe and stay with it. We need you!

12/10 Thanks Mellie, Sting and JR.
12/10 Shea,

You need to get in touch with the contracting companies themselves. There are many different companies that do contracting. Right now I can only remember Erickson, Columbia, and Papillion, (sorry, brain cramp) but there are many, many more out there. The individual companies will tell you how they certify their pilots for fire fighting duty.
A lot of the pilots who have been doing this for years started out in the military. I believe that is changing though, and we are getting less and less military trained pilots in the fire program.


12/10 Scrape, re your question on the Swiss Cheese Model of Accident Causation:

Go to archives, documents worth reading, and find the paper titled "Hugh Carson on Accident Investigation". It is relevant to wildland fire. If you search the internet try "Reasons Swiss Cheese Model", that'll get you a bunch of hits. It is introduced in L-380 Fireline Leadership if you ever go to the training.


12/10 www.coloradofirecamp.com/swiss-cheese/

12/10 Hi all,

Need advice.

Here's my situation- I currently work for a contractor in R6 and as most would know, in a typical year the fire calls start up about July 20th. I am available for fire calls from about June 1st through September 10th. (not a school teacher, just able to manipulate my regular job). My question(s) is can I work for more than one contractor? For example R4 during June and July and then follow the season up to R6 and even into Montana /Idaho?

I realize a contractor doesn't want to lose a good firefighter during the season and I can be flexible but I would like to keep my August commitment with the R6 contractor I'm with now.

I understand I need to be registered with the Feds. Would each contractor I work for have to do that? Seems redundant. Anybody out there have similar situations?

Any contractors interested? I have a resume.

Still trying to be an Engine Boss

Ab will forward any messages on.

12/10 The Whitehouse is having a Bird Flu Drill this morning.

National Geographic Channel: Race against the Killer Flu video preview;
show to air tomorrow at 9PM eastern and pacific on the Discovery Channel.

This show comes before the CNN special: Killer Flu, a Breath Away.


12/10 Scrape, it's all here -- Swiss Cheese Model of Accident Causation:

Summary fire-related comments by Hugh Carson in the Documents Worth Reading Section of the Archives

Forest Service Accident Investigation Guide, 2003 (pdf file)

The Human Factors Analysis and Classification System–HFACS, 2000 (pdf file)
by Scott A. Shappell and Douglas A. Wiegmann, based on Reason's work on human error.


12/10 On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who helped make last weekend's conference a very special event.

Many members traveled great distances to attend with their spouses, children and "significant others" who we wanted to know are also truly a part of our FWFSA family.

To Original AB, AB and Vicki Minor of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, our sincerest gratitude for your time, affection and information provided.

To Bruce Burke of Firefighter Brands/Firefighter Beverages, a special thank you for your organization's overwhelming generosity with hydration & energy drinks and other goodies. It should go as no surprise that the FWFSA is proud to endorse such superior products.

To Randy Reyes of TrueNorth & Ryan Davidson of the Mallory Company, thank you for your gracious donations to our raffle and for providing superior quality gear to the wildland firefighting community.

Most importantly to the members whose names and voices have become all too familiar to me over the last couple of years and now a face to go with it. It is my hope that the time and effort you spent in getting to the event was worthwhile.

Over the next few weeks, we hope those that attended will return the post-conference surveys so that we can ensure we improve upon our efforts for the next conference.

I am also almost overly ecstatic to announce that a bid has been accepted by the Board of Directors to modernize our web site so as to provide a superior site to our members and future members. As I write this, work is underway through the selected bidder and a committee of members developed at the conference to get work underway.

Thanks to everyone who attended. It meant a great deal to all of us.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
12/10 Hello,

I was wondering if you might be able to help me out. I am only 18 years old and am attending the Air Force Prep School, but I’m still looking at all my options, especially in the field of Wildland Fire. My mother works for the NPS and was a Wildland Firefighter before I was born. I basically grew up knowing many people in the NPS involved with fire, but I have one question they couldn’t answer and no one else seems to be able to answer it either. How do I get a job flying Helos for any agency involved with fire, federal or non-federal?

12/9 Hey group,

Does anybody here have a quick and dirty link to the original paper on the swiss cheese model. A good friend of mine's community is going thru some stuff and the only "tool" that they have is the phrase "Sierra happens". From the good leadership of this group I believe I should share our knowledge of human factors with her community and I believe this will help them out alot.

Thanks All,
12/9 Karl Petty - Leave Donor Program for Carol Maley Petty


Please post this as Carol needs help now! Karl jumped out of Redmond for quite a few years before moving into the fire cache at Redmond. He has fought the good fight against his illness but.........
Dave Lockwood

Carol & Karl Petty, 7/05

On behalf of Karl, myself, Casey, and Jessie, we want to thank all of our Forest Service family for your most generous past donations of leave. We know who some of you are, but the vast majority remains anonymous yet no less endeared. Karl has far exceeded what the doctors expected and he continues to amaze me everyday with the strength and determination he
exhibits. Though he’s in a great deal of pain 24/7 he pushes everyday possible to walk and do some sort of project. He has truly become an inspiration to those who know him.

Thanksgiving these days takes on a whole new meaning. Three years ago at the end of November, Karl was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and so it now has come to mark a milestone for us. Back when it all started we didn’t have a clue as to the road ahead nor the toll it would bring with it. All the procedures, chemo and the cancer itself have been hard on Karl and our family. We continue to take it one day at a time. Without your past leave donations, I simply don’t know how we would have survived since the diagnosis.

Allowing the family to care for Karl and for him to remain home through this time has given us some degree of comfort. Time is the most valuable gift I can give Karl; I never before realized how precious it is. Every aspect of our lives these days seems like a timed event. How much time is left, is still unknown, but it is not indefinite either. I know I can’t begin to repay what you have already done for us. It is with mixed feelings that I find I am having to ask for more donated leave.
If you wish to contact me:

Carol Maley Petty
Training Technician
PNW Training Center

Donor Form: www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/opm630a.pdf

Send to:
Deschutes National Forest
10001 SW Emkay Dr.
Bend, Oregon 97702
c/o Marleen Brown
mmbrown @ fs.fed.us

12/9 National Forest Designators

Hey Ab, is there a web site or document that lists all of the National
Forests / Grasslands three letter designators? If so, please send me a
site address. I've looked everywhere and can't find them.


Check the Links page, bottom of the fed category. Ab.

12/9 Dear Ab:

You asked "What does Tim Appenzeller say?"

Rather than me try to recount an hour-long program, I'd recommend his
article in the October National Geographic and their upcoming television
program this Sunday.

Sign me,

I'll watch it. Ab.

12/9 Ab,

Here is a poem that I have loved.
It was written by a friend of mine, his name is Bob Lafleur,
He is a retired college teacher who lives in the sticks of Northern MN on Music, Wood heat, Solar power and Wine,
He has given me permission to print this poem on they said.

This poem reminds me of so many night fires when we hooked it, and now have a few minutes to relax before passing out with exhaustion, while trying to hold it at the same time.

Oh yeah, back then we could claim a few hours on the time sheet when we attempted to sleep all night on the side of a mountain with or without sleeping bags, and not have to run to the FMO to get a justification to break the 16 and 8, even though everyone knows that you never really sleep, when you are trying to stay warm at 7,000 feet above sea level with the flames 10 feet away.


On a clear, perfect evening
I sit beneath the stars
watching flames leaping,
the fire burning down.

It's good to be here
good as any time, and yet
my feet remind me
why I'm here.

If I had feet that never tired,
I'd take a journey
half-way 'round the world
and stop
not because my feet
told me so,
but because I was there
on a clear, perfect evening
under the moon's golden glow

A starry night. I'd climb
the night sky ladder,
and like the flame,
announce myself
to leaves
that soon will wither,
this summer
as I sit
on a clear, perfect evening,
by the fire, burning down.

Robert Lafleur

I, as well give my plug for the 52 club and FWFSA

Also it is looking to be a long winter in northern MN,
I have a few more fire poems, so if anyone wants to hear them let me know.

And hello to all the friends I have made in my 17 years of (Cheat Death, Eat Smoke, Save Lives) 10 of them stationed out west, with a couple in R-5 South Zone.

You should know who I am by this moniker.

Lucky Lindy

Nice one. Thanks. Ab.

12/9 Dear Ab:

Personally, I'm looking forward to They Said returning to more fire business. However, a few thoughts about the bird flu scare. (I am listening to Tim Appenzeller, Senior Science Editor of National Geographic talk on a radio program about Avian Flu as I write.)

I don't deny that an H5N1 pandemic is a possibility, but I am also concerned that the media and Internet chat rooms are causing a panic. Americans are generally paranoid, and a little fear goes a long way. Remember the panic over the flu vaccine shortage last year? Remember SARS? Remember Y2K?

The most important word associated with a bird flu pandemic is "if" - Every expert's statement associated with bird flu is prefaced with "If H5N1becomes contagious among humans", "If bird flu were to leave Southeast Asia," if, if, if. Don't get me wrong. It is good to be cautious. We should prepare. Our government's preparation has been woefully inadequate and wrong-headed. However, it's also important to maintain perspective. The Avian Flu pandemic is theoretical, not actual.

The scientists predicting a pandemic are using the 1918 flu pandemic as a model. Not so sure this is a good model. It's not 1918. The displacement, by World War I, of millions of people, fueled the 1918 pandemic (not to mention that many other factors were different including that hygiene was significantly less developed in this country and worldwide.)

Avian flu may not mutate, leave Southeast Asia, become pandemic, etc, etc for five to ten years. One of the big "ifs"

Hong Kong and Thailand (at the epicenter of the bird flu outbreak) have "licked" the bird flu for all practical intents and purposes

I am not arguing with those They Said regulars who are concerned, advocating preparedness, and showing concern for their brothers and sisters. However, in light of all the information and opinion flying around, I'd caution "Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively." I appreciate the efforts to raise our situational awareness, but let's not panic.

Sign me,

What does Tim Appenzeller say?
I don't see anyone here panicking, only questioning, preparing and informing.
As always, send in your other kind of fire topics. New threads are always welcome... Ab.

12/9 Ab,

LOL.... when I said "jump" I meant "Smokejump".... communication
issue, "say what you mean and mean what you say".. which leads to ...


Have you perused the CDC Pandemic Influenza website? Lots of
interesting stuff there. I am sure you have, but it may be worth the
posting here for information.

Also this interesting emergency/crisis communication for leaders
"book" from the CDC website.
www.cdc.gov/communication/emergency/leaders.pdf (pdf file)


haw haw. Still stand by what I said. Ab.

12/9 Can you add our USFS Honor Guard website to your links section? I
launched a very simple page today, but its a start. I would appreciate any
comments you have.

Here is the link:


I added it to the links page under miscellaneous. Thanks for that. Ab.

12/9 Here's the USDA brochure that covers response to an avian flu outbreak in the United States. As you can see in the response section, it says that USDA-APHIS will take the lead in the event of a HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) outbreak.


Remember who supports APHIS, FEMA, DHS, DHHS, etc... in the event of a national disaster.... federal incident management teams who bring with them lots of federal wildland firefighters.

I also have another big concern. There has been statements that firefighters, police, and medical workers would be the first to receive prophylaxis antivirals and vaccines. These two things would be very important in limiting the spread to our families, friends, and co-workers.

> From what I understand, prophylaxis antivirals and vaccines help to prevent infection and if infected, lower viral load and viral shedding.

In this case, are Forestry and Range Technicians, or other federal wildland responders considered to be firefighters?

Last thought, if you are unfortunate enough to be the "guinea pig" for the first responses to this form of disaster, consider this thought. Before returning to your family, friends, and co-workers who hopefully have been prepared and operating under some sort of plan..... consider a self quarantine for yourself for two weeks to make sure you don't bring death to their doorstep.

12/9 My sister is returning from Great Britain to get ready.
She sent me this one:

China Hiding Bird Flu Cases: Expert

Mellie, hang in there with the info. We need it. Todd

12/9 > From the post below:

"As we undertake these efforts, we are asking for your assistance as well. In order to ensure maximum preparedness, business should develop specific plans for the ways that you would protect your employees and maintain operations during a pandemic. Companies that provide critical infrastructure services, such as power and telecommunications, also have a special responsibility to plan for continued operation in a crisis and should plan accordingly. As with any catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential."

If the federal government wants the public (ie-business) to adequately prepare, they should be the role model. As for me, I haven't seen one "official" memo, policy letter, or even an e-mail addressing agency preparedness or the development of a contingency plan. Maybe the USDA-Forest Service and the USDI agencies feel they don't offer "critical infrastructure"?

Rogue Rivers

12/9 Mellie,

Ask and you shall receive, thanks for the info. I too wish we could all talk
about something else besides the bird flu. I am praying every night for a
cure or vaccine.

12/9 Mellie,

Avian flu isn't rocket science. It also isn't something to be messed around with. I am glad you are taking the lead to get many of us prepared. I am pretty disgusted with the general lack of concern by my "leaders" and the folks I work for. I am more concerned with my co-workers who just mull around, don't get prepared, and say it's like the Y2K thing that never happened. They need to wake up and have it beaten into their thick skulls that this is a real and potential problem. This is a potential life or death decision. Be prepared -- or ride the "wave".

"7.1 billion requested by President Bush."

"$9 million for planning and preparedness training and the development of simulation models." (USDA, Nov., 2005).

Just over a tenth of 1 percent of the funding for planning and preparedness. Some propose. Forget trying to correct the latent factors -- lets go hog wild to prevent the active factors that WILL NEVER BE PREVENTED (ie - pandemics happen - people make mistakes). Planning and preparedness are the keys to safety.

Planning and preparedness are the things that will keep the most numbers of people safe but received the lowest amount of PROPOSED funding. I think it is part of the total disconnect with the field level practitioners that has been happening for many years within the federal government.

Political appointees are going to be the death of of our country and our society!!! They have to bare allegiance to the folks who appointed them and disregard the science (if they even understand the science marginally). It used to work when the most educated and experienced were appointed to high positions. Now, it is all about your political affiliation, how much you donated, and your rank among the food chain (prior lobbyist, prior timber contractor, etc.). Nobody gives a rats ass about the mission or the intent to keep people safe anymore if they are political appointees -- its all me and my party nowadays. Who gets elected or appointed next seems to be the over-riding concern.

Deep Survival is the #1 concern. It is and should be the focus -- not BS politics.

Sorry, I had to get that off my chest.

12/8 December 7, 2005

Ray's wife Denise has authorized the following for release concerning Ray's condition.

Chief Ray Ruiz Sr. of the Sycuan Fire Department "Golden Eagles Hotshots" located in El Cajon, California is in critical condition in ICU at Grossmont Hospital. He has been in the hospital approximately four weeks and is currently on a ventilator to help him breath. We are all praying that he will have a full recovery. A Benevolent Fund has been set up at the San Diego Firefighters Federal Credit Union to help Ray and his family with expenses. Ray's wife Denise would like to thank all of you ahead of time for your support and prayers. The Golden Eagles Hotshot Crew has set up a watch at the hospital, and one of them is with Ray 24 hours a day. If you would like to make a contribution please send it to the following address:

San Diego Federal Credit Union
10509 san Diego Mission Road
Suite A
San Diego, CA 92108-2196

Please indicate that this is for the Chief Ray Ruiz Sr. Benevolent Fund.
The account number is 4851-S

If you would like to send a card, or get well wishes, please send them to the following address:

Chief and Mrs. Ray Ruiz Sr.
C/O Sycuan Fire Department
5449 Dehesa Road
El Cajon, CA 92019

Capt. Jim Huston
Laguna Hotshots
C/O the Golden Eagles Hotshots

Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Ab.

12/8 Sending this out for my buddy Mike who asked about sauerkraut as an avian flu remedy.
Flu the Coop... Fast facts about avian influenza
Look near the bottom.
Recipe for kimchi follows soon.

For the other Mike... who asked about pandemic plans for public schools. I
just put out the word to try to find something, anything. Are there no DEEP
SURVIVORS advocating for our kids and grandkids? Hopefully someone
besides Canada is planning...

Aaaaarg, I wish all this would just go away and I could think about fire
training and other fun stuff! <reasoning brain like hamster on a treadmill>


OK, got one bit of school pandemic plan info for Mike:
The American Embassy in India has a good one.
Hey, it's a small world, just a plane-flight away... Substitute San Francisco or Los Angeles, Portland or Seattle for the Deli trigger point. <little Ballywood smile> <sari caught in treadmill> <crash> <oof> <oh my>

12/8 From a business relative... This is filtering its way out into the business community along with links to www.pandemicflu.gov (and the checklist) and www.cdc.gov/business

Here's the letter that came out on Tuesday as everything birdflu started to ramp up:


Pandemic Flu Business Letter

December 6, 2005

President Bush recently announced the Administration’s National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, a copy of which is enclosed. This strategy is geared toward preparing the country or the possibility of an influenza pandemic. As with any of the risks that we face as a country -- including natural disasters and the ongoing possibility another terrorist attack -- it is imperative that all segments of society be prepared for such a threat. We are writing to you today on behalf of the Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security to enlist your support in encouraging preparedness for such an event within the business community. We are requesting that you, as a business leader, focus on the need for planning within your organization for the possibility of an influenza pandemic.

It is important to note from the outset that there is not a human influenza pandemic at this time, nor can we say that a pandemic is imminent. However, as the President has noted, a new strain of influenza virus (H5N1) has been found in birds in Asia, and it has been shown that this virus can infect humans. If the virus mutates in certain ways, it is possible that it could lead to a pandemic. Because this threat does exist, we think it important for you to be knowledgeable about the risks associated with the threat of an influenza pandemic and, in turn, to be adequately prepared for the possibility of a pandemic that would have significant social and economic costs.

In order to safeguard against the threat of a pandemic and to mitigate the effects of a pandemic should one occur, President Bush has outlined a coordinated government strategy that includes the establishment of a new international partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, the stockpiling of vaccines and antiviral medications, expansion of our early-warning systems here and abroad, and new initiatives for local and state level preparedness against the threat of a pandemic.

As we undertake these efforts, we are asking for your assistance as well. In order to ensure maximum preparedness, business should develop specific plans for the ways that you would protect your employees and maintain operations during a pandemic. Companies that provide critical infrastructure services, such as power and telecommunications, also have a special responsibility to plan for continued operation in a crisis and should plan accordingly. As with any catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential.

We are asking for your assistance in preparing your organization for the possibility of an Avian Flu Pandemic. In addition to the National Strategy, we have enclosed some guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for preparing for the prospect of an influenza pandemic. These materials include a checklist to assist you in the planning for a pandemic outbreak as well as other comparable catastrophes. For ongoing informational updates in both preparing for and reacting to the possible onset of a pandemic, we also encourage you to go to the Federal Government’s pandemic-related website: pandemicflu.gov. This site will be continually updated with the latest information.

Thank you for playing an important role in this effort. Should you have any questions regarding preparing your business for a pandemic, please contact our offices through the following staff:

Julie Good
Senior Advisor to the Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services
(202) 401-0063

Dan McCardell
Director, Office of Business Liaison
Department of Commerce
(202) 482-1360

James Caverly
Director, Infrastructure Partnerships Division
Department of Homeland Security
(202) 282-8291


Michael Chertoff
Secretary of Homeland Security

Michael O. Leavitt
Secretary of Health and Human Services

Carlos M. Gutierrez
Secretary of Commerce
12/8 COMT’s Christmas Wish for Wildland Fire Fighters,

I wish for a reliable radio that is easy to use.

I wish that they would Narrowband the King MPH, I just
liked that radio, had a better receiver than the EPH,
and the metal case held up better than the LPH. I
don’t need 400 pre-programmed channels if I can hand
program in what I need. 16 channels would be nice but
I could live with 14. Most people just use one group

Make it Analog only, A stash of P25 Digital radios for
those times when the situation calls for it can be
kept, the majority of Fire commo does not need the
secrecy that Digital offers, for those time it is
needed, use cell or sat phone.

All these recent radios have been having problems that
the manufacturers have tried solving with software
changes. I miss the days of Solid State reliability,
before one errant bit can ruin your day.

Just give me a Analog radio that costs less, and works
when I want it to. Recent articles I have read are
pointing to a software driven radio that can do VHF to
800 MHz to provide interoperability, so look forward
to a radio that costs around 5K.
12/8 Rad,

After having spent 32 years with the green machine, 18 on hotshot crews, my
ONLY regrets are that I never jumped and I did not have the luxury of spending
more time with my family while my kids were growing up.... choices....


Well, I for one am glad you stuck with the FS, yactac. Many are better, safer firefighters for your leadership and mentorship. The organization is also better for your participation. Ab.

12/8 My name is Amanda <snip> and I am a journalist in the Army stationed in South Korea.
I fought in the Roberts Complex fire in '03 with the West Fork Wildland District (Bitterroot NF, Mt.) and I was wondering if you have any pictures of that fire? I would greatly appreciate it if you did - I miss the real world and the excitement


PFC <snip>

I will be in the states next week and will have access to some of my pictures with the Forest Service that I could send.

Be safe Amanda. Anyone know of any photos? Ab.

12/8 Rad,

Do what's best for your family. The structure dept will be a definite change compared to what you're used to, but the time with the family with be great. Unfortunately the fed agencies (especially in So Cal) can't keep up with the cost of living as evidenced by all the posts here in recent weeks. I know wayyyy too many guys who wished they had made the switch years ago and didn't. Their biggest complaint was that they missed many summers with their young children, who are now grown up.

Good luck
12/8 Just a quick note to say a BIG THANK YOU to the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation and Vicki Minor for helping our FS employee in norcal!
(as Mellie would say..."hugs" to you)

firegirl, proud to be a member of the 52 club

I just went to the Foundation Homepage. What a great idea to have a Santa fund. Cute kids. Part of our community. Ab.

12/7 Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Many of you have family members still living
who served in WWII. Do your best to tell them thanks for serving and honor
their commitment to our freedom. We also need to remember those who are
serving today. GOD BLESS THEM ALL!!

12/7 Dear Original Ab ~~

What an honor it was to present you with a humanitarian award. You have done so much for this Foundation and the people it serves. You have moved so quietly behind the scenes and helped with funding when we wondered if we could keep the doors open. When I looked into your face, I saw so many of the little kids whom you will never get to see but that you have affected with your open heart and hand. It was surely my pleasure to give this award to you, and all that you represent.

Casey Judd and the FWFSA Board of Directors ~~

You created and presented an outstanding conference. I felt so honored and really enjoyed the event. After attending the conference, I really began to understand what you folks are doing for the "whole" of firefighters.

Mellie ~~

I think you should put your presentation on video and make it available to everyone. You also did a great job.

I believe what I enjoyed the most were the families that attended. What a sight to see kids on their dad's arms and spouses enjoying each other while in attendance.

Readers ~~

Let me change hats for a moment to something not Foundation related:
I had a large tent and put it up for sale on the classified page on wildlandfire.com. It sold in a week.
So list the stuff you need to sell. It works kind of like ebay, but faster & hotter!

Vicki Minor
Director, Wildland Firefighter Foundation

12/7 Rad,

Many of us before you have come to that same decision day. I remember my Forest Service days like they were yesterday and treasure my memories as a hot shot and of the other crews and assignments I served. I thought I was gonna be green forever.

But like you, other realities hit and I had to move on. Let me suggest to you though that you try some other departments where you don't have to hang up your whites forever. You say you work in R5, you can try CDF or one of the contract county fire departments (LA, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Marin, Kern). CDF has great opportunities and so do the contract counties. The contract counties are also among the first to hit the road in out-of-county (aka "off forest") assignments. Salary, benefits, and days off are much better too. My outfit recently hired 2 USFS engine Capt's and a BLM helitack Capt. (and a couple CDF firefighters!)

I have spent 28 years in a career outside of the big green but every year I get to visit my old (and new) wildland friends on the many fires I have had the privilege to be part of. I get to be part of training cadres each year and teach wildland courses for CDF and the feds. It's not the same or as much wildland work as your doing but it's still all good! I have made OPSC, PLSC, OPBD quals and attend a lot of fires. Some years I've been gone about 8 weeks of the fire season- which more than fills my bill. You can do the same and still treat that new family of yours right. Wish feds did better by their quality people, they just don't. Look into one of these outfits and you can keep your "stumpy" roots!

Good luck to you!
Contract County Guy
12/7 Hi Ab,

Just went through the runaround with the BLM over the FIRES website...thought I'd let all those seeking seasonal dispatch employment know the BLM is opening Logistic Dispatcher positions this Friday (12-16) & Fire Dispatch positions on next Tuesday (12-20). They'll run on a 4-week opening period, which is a marked difference from past years...The first wave of hiring for all the other seasonal positions (engine, helitack, handcrew) closes tomorrow, December 8th, so hurry up and submit!

Anyone have any idea when the Forest Service is posting dispatch positions? I'm looking to make the jump...

- Sue
12/7 Interesting report about CA fire protection and CDF MOU..
I dont know if you have ever posted this or not.


12/7 Hi all-
I just received the following announcement for communications planning...
I'm sure some of you will find it helpful. I've just skimmed it but it
seems well written and logical.

The direct link is: www.nwcg.gov/teams/wfewt/bp/comm-planning.pdf
(24 page .pdf)


Attached you will find an announcement for a new tool available from the NWCG Wildland Fire Education Working Team: Best Practices: Communication Planning. Please distribute this email to your working team members and throughout your organizations. The Best Practices: Communication Planning is a useful resource for field personnel and is available on the NWCG website.

Thanks very much for your help and support.

Maureen Brooks
Community Fire Planner, WUI, Fire Prevention and Firewise
USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area S&PF
Fire and Aviation Management
12/7 Rad

I have 15 years in and no family. I am in it for the long haul. I grew up in a Forest Service House. If you have a job offer with a structure department, and are serious about your desire to actually be there for your family, TAKE IT!

Your quality of life will be much greater than where you are as well. Your income vs. expenditures ratio will alone guarantee that. From my own experiences, if you want to have any time in the summer with your children and still have a decent life, Federal Fire isn't going to work.

That said, Federal Fire is a lifestyle like no other in the world. It is an amazing collection of extremely intelligent and interesting people. If you do go to the structure side of things, consider working with the local fire departments that do wildland on your days off.

Good luck, hope I didn't make a hard decision even harder.


12/7 Ab,
This just came in with the first section checklist. OMG, are we in deep trouble! Wonder what the Governator thinks of this? SoCal CDF

There are 11 sections in all. The whole thing is posted here: www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/statelocalchecklist.phpl

Planning for pandemic influenza is critical. To assist you in your efforts, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed the following checklist. It identifies important, specific activities you can do now to prepare. Many are specific to pandemic influenza, but a number also pertain to any public health emergency.

This checklist is based on the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan, Public Health Guidance for State and Local Partners, but is not intended to set forth mandatory requirements. Each state and local jurisdiction should determine for itself whether it is adequately prepared for disease outbreaks in accordance with its own laws and procedures.

Section 1
Community Preparedness Leadership and Networking [Preparedness Goal 1—Increase the use and development of interventions known to prevent human illness from chemical, biological, radiological agents, and naturally occurring health threats.]

Completed, In Progress, Not Started

  • Establish a Pandemic Preparedness Coordinating Committee that represents all relevant stakeholders in the jurisdiction (including governmental, public health, healthcare, emergency response, agriculture, education, business, communication, community based, and faith-based sectors, as well as private citizens) and that is accountable for articulating strategic priorities and overseeing the development and execution of the jurisdiction's operational pandemic plan.
  • Delineate accountability and responsibility, capabilities, and resources for key stakeholders engaged in planning and executing specific components of the operational plan. Assure that the plan includes timelines, deliverables, and performance measures.
  • Within every state, clarify which activities will be performed at a state, local, or coordinated level, and indicate what role the state will have in providing guidance and assistance.
  • Assure that the operational plan for pandemic influenza response is an integral element of the overall state and local emergency response plan established under Federal Emergency Support Function 8 (ESF8): Health and medical service and compliant with National Incident Management System.
  • Address integration of state, local, tribal, territorial, and regional plans across jurisdictional boundaries in the plan.
  • Formalize agreements with neighboring jurisdictions and address communication, mutual aid, and other cross-jurisdictional needs.
  • Ensure existence of a demographic profile of the community (including special needs populations and language minorities) and ensure that the needs of these populations are addressed in the operation plan.
  • Address provision of psychosocial support services for the community, including patients and their families, and those affected by community containment procedures in the plan (see Supplement 11).
  • Test the communication operational plan that addresses the needs of targeted public, private sector, governmental, public health, medical, and emergency response audiences; identifies priority channels of communication; delineates the network of communication personnel, including lead spokespersons and persons trained in emergency risk communication; and links to other communication networks (see Supplement 10).
  • Identify for all stakeholders the legal authorities responsible for executing the operational plan, especially those authorities responsible for case identification, isolation, quarantine, movement restriction, healthcare services, emergency care, and mutual aid.
  • Make clear to all stakeholders the process for requesting, coordinating, and approving requests for resources to state and federal agencies.
  • Create an Incident Command System for the pandemic plan based on the National Incident Management System and exercise this system along with other operational elements of the plan.
  • Assist in establishing and promoting community-based task forces that support healthcare institutions on a local or regional basis.
  • Identify the authority responsible for declaring a public health emergency at the state and local levels and for officially activating the pandemic influenza response plan.
  • Identify the state and local law enforcement personnel who will maintain public order and help implement control measures. Determine in advance what will constitute a “law enforcement” emergency and educate law enforcement officials so that they can pre-plan for their families and sustain themselves during the emergency.
  • Ensure that the plans are scalable, to the magnitude and severity of the pandemic and available resources. Revise as necessary.
12/7 Mellie, thanks for kick starting the wildland fire community and getting them prepared.

As of July 2005, the United States population was estimated at 295,734,134 (Source: CIA-The World Fact Book).

Using the estimates of Dr. Osterholm (30-60 percent infection rate) that would mean roughly 89 million to 177 million people infected in the United States.

Under the current losses of about 50 percent of those infected, that would mean 44.5-88.5 million deaths in the United States.

If the virus emerges and spreads with the current rate of mortality, the following deaths could occur:

On the high scale, that would mean a 30% loss in the U.S. population. On the low scale, it would mean a 15% loss.

One variable would be whether the avian flu mutates through an intermediary host (equine, feline, swine, etc.) or jumps directly to humans without changing its pathogenicity. If I understand what I have been reading and researching, the 1968 pandemic was an avian strain that mutated through swine, while the 1918 pandemic came directly from birds, and humans or birds were where the re-assortment occurred for sustainable human-to-human transmission.

Dr. Osterholm said, "Even if a 1918-like scenario unfolds, 98 of 100 people will still be alive at the end of the pandemic; how do we minimize their pain and suffering?" With a world population of 6,446,131,400 (Source: CIA-The World Fact Book), and a pandemic causing 180-360 million deaths worldwide (Osterholm, 2005), that would equate to a 3 to 6 percent loss rate of the world population assuming the best in medical care and the availability of antivirals that work. There is some evidence that antivirals are ineffective according to Dr. Nguyen Tuong Van of the Centre for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi who has treated many of the first cases of avian flu (United Press International, Dec. 3, 2005).

To put it into perspective, I'll use the Forest Service folks as an example. Let's look at what all this means:
Forest Service Employees as of June 2005 (FedScope):   45,586
30-60 percent infection rate (Osterholm, 2005):        13,676-27,352 sick employees
Worst Case Scenario (50% Death Rate of those infected): 6,838-16,411 deaths
Best Case Scenario (3-6% Death Rate of those infected):   410- 1,641 FS employee deaths
Wildland firefighters will be the highest exposed group within the USFS due to latent factors (fire camps, non-traditional responses, and the general "can do" attitude) and failures to correct them. Those latent factors will be the same for all federal wildland firefighters regardless of agency affiliation.

It hurts to lose just one co-worker or friend in our wildland fire community when they are killed, injured or become ill... I can't imagine why this potential has not been discussed in the open outside of the FWFSA Conference.


People have tried to raise situational awareness. So far the questions have been falling on deaf ears in Boise and Washington. In my opinion we're set for a major burnover. The FS will face lawsuits for many years afterwards if there is no pandemic business plan. Ab.

12/7 Hello all,

I am writing today only to express my current dilemma in which I believe many Wildland Firefighters have dealt with and will continue to deal with until change comes in regards to retention. The dilemma that I am speaking of is whether I should continue in my employment with the Forest Service.

The reasons for my dilemma are numerous, but I must first say that I truly love being a wildland firefighter and that I love working for the Forest Service. I have invested the past 9 years of my life to working hard and learning all I could about fire suppression and land management to prepare myself for my current position. The agency has also invested tens of thousands of dollars in my training to prepare me for my next logical promotion to captain.

As a young man working on the engine and the hotshot crew I loved to be away from home and to work as much overtime as I could but as times have changed a few years ago I married and with that my priorities changed. Before my only priority was work but now with a wife, my new family is my first priority. And here lies the dilemma, my wife and I want to start a family this year and we both believe that the raising of our children is the most important thing for us which will require her to remain at home with the children.

The problem is living in southern California it costs about 2000 dollars a month to live here that includes rent, utilities, insurance, two car payments, and gas, but I only take home $1000 a pay period as a GS-07 and that is putting 15% in the TSP and I will still need to pay for food, clothing and other miscellaneous things, currently my wife takes home a little less than I so we are able to save some and pay down college bills. We don't live extravagantly we have two economy cars, one paid for, minimal credit card debt, we live in a small 800 square foot house and try to be as thrifty as possible.

I recently spoke to a hotshot superintendent who expressed that he wished he had invested more time in his family than away from home and that he now encourages his guys to take time to spend with family in the hope that their families won't follow the same fate as his. It is along these lines that I am considering leaving the agency because to stay I would have to depend upon overtime to provide for my family but sacrificing my time with them.

Three weeks ago I tested with a fire department back east whose firefighters start at the same rate as a captain here. A few days ago I received a job offer, so now I find myself in a dilemma as to what to do, continue doing what I love with the Forest Service and hope for a raise or start over and move across the country so that I can ensure that my wife and future family will be given the time and attention they need. I still do not know what I will do but hope that others might know of the difficulty involved in this decision and my wish that I would rather not have to make it at all.


12/6 Ab,

Sorry if this post seems a little bit off-topic, but I just can't seem to get worked up about bird flu.

Anyway, we're still hoping to get our DHS grant for that "other" homeland security threat: wildfire. The Fire Origins project would digitize 50 wildland entrapment fatality reports during 2006, or basically one report a week. To help get ourselves in shape, this week we've added the 1998 fire behavior report of the South Canyon Fire.

vfd cap'n
12/6 Thanks to everyone for an excellent and fun FWFSA Conference. Great to have folks from fed agencies other than the FS, from states other than California, and young and old! Excellent food. Good raffle and registration treats! Casey I need a pack that slings over the other shoulder! <giggle>

Original Ab was awarded the Wildland Firefighter Foundation Humanitarian Award. I'm very proud of him and his contributions to wildland firefighter groundpounders everywhere. In his usual humble way, he gave credit to all of you who make his contribution possible. Original Ab, send in a photo! We want to see the statue! It's pretty sweet.

Vicki Minor got a mighty fine dramatic plaque from FWFSA made of sandstone. She should send in a photo of that one. She said it's the first award she's ever gotten. Yahoo! Congrats, Vicki!

Others got plaques too. Maybe Casey can remind us... Kent Swartzlander, and some old original FWFSA members who weren't able to attend and several honorees. We could add them to the fire awards page.

I had fun talking with the hotshots, engine capts, etc late into the night on Friday. (One of 'em was pretty sure I'm a spy, so I agreed. I might be a spy if I could just figure out who to sell all the secrets to! I could auction the "goods" on eBay...) Also enjoyed meeting all of you who post here and getting acquainted with spouses and kids.

Steve Griffin, very nice to meet you. I'm glad you don't think I'm a spy. BIG CONGRATS on being elected to Dan Kleinman's spot on the board. I'm sure you'll do us proud! Dan, thanks for your service. Sorry you're stepping down, but we have a new live one as a replacement.


12/6 Re Pandemic Business Plan:

RG and Old Dude, I know the Forest Service doesn't have a pandemic business plan. Neither does BLM or NPS. Good question about when the Academy sends people home, RG... (Nerd, thanks for your input on fire department plans. I listened to your link last week. As far as projections, Osterholm has projections here at CIDRAP - pdf file - Ab.)

I do know that 25 of the largest business in the US/world got together last Friday with reps from H&HS to plan for the pandemic. Shearson Lehman preceded them by a week in their planning. I haven't heard what any of them came up with. I do know that business provides 85% of our national infrastructure -- as in food, water, medicine, essential services, fuel, energy, banking/investment, etc. To get through this incident whenever it comes and to rebuild most expeditiously, there must be a plan and contingencies in place for as many businesses as possible. People will continue to need the essentials. How to keep them coming??? What is essential that the FS, BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA does? Those things need to be defined and planned for.

Here's one good PANDEMIC BUSINESS PLAN I have recommended to several local NorCal businesses. Microbix is willing to share it with whomever wants to ask: www.microbix.com/1503.phpl

I already have most of the family and personal info and the ppe in the powerpoint I presented at FWFSA. However, I was lacking some of the info on this BUSINESS page: www.microbix.com/1503.phpl

The bottom of this page is also excellent. It brings practiced behaviors right down to earth with practical examples. www.microbix.com/150101.phpl
You could develop scenarios for at the office. Maybe there would be some logical places your safety officer could provide hand wipes, surface disinfectant, whatever else is needed to mitigate office infection - for as long as you need to physically be in the office.

(Hmmm, along the personal financial lines, I've got to think through which is the safest kind of investment for retirement funds... Most 401Ks let you choose the kind...)

Dan, I am honing the powerpoint I presented and getting permission for the maps from HN so as not to violate copyright. I'll let you know when the powerpoint with handout suggestions is ready to share. Maybe tomorrow or the next day.

Thanks to ALL - Abs included - for being the terrific people you are. I'm proud to count you among my friends.


12/6 www.breitbart.com/news/2005/12/05/051206001434.cz1ycjxs.phpl
This is the first piece I've seen that actually talks
about a timetable for flu spread after effective
human-to-human transmission is achieved.

Nerd on the Fireline

Nerd, that Killer Flu show on PBS had a progression of infection timetable. Much more dramatic to see it in print...

I've been watching the news lately too. I think Sec. Leavitt (Health and Human Services) and Dr. Osterholm (DHS) know some things we don't and are trying to prepare us... Dr. Osterholm was on CNN this morning talking masks, food storage and his family's preparedness for 6-12 months. President Bush just met with Lee Jong-wook the director-general of WHO at the White House. Wonder what they talked about? Ab.

12/6 Bird Flu (Thanks Mel)

Is there a plan for when the Academy shuts down? If some
of the first bird flu enters SF from Asia, it will soon be in Sac.
If it comes this training season, we need to have some plans
in place to get our kids home.

I called the public schools. They are following the county's lead.
I called the county. They don't have a plan.

What do we do about suggesting our communities get ready.
We're a bit remote. If I speak up, they'll guess I have some extra
food. I don't want anybody knocking on my door when the
little markets shelves are bare. Cities will have it worst. my bet.

This could be more about the crisis of not enough food, medicine,
gas as about people sick and dying. What about law enforcement.
We saw Katrina. We saw the local bully boys holding up the fed
caravans going to the airport and hijacking resources. There
were finally LEOs that defended the orders that got thru. Bet no
sheriffs in this case or not enough.

Dan was right that the FLTs are not going to address forest communities
that need to get prepared. If they would have a community meeting, no
one individual would have to show up in the crosshairs of the
unprepared later. Bureaucracy gets in the way of forests taking a

Maybe we need to invite an outsider in to talk.

The more prepped our community is, the better for all.

Anyone know what businesses are doing?


12/6 Mellie:

An article in the Stateman 12/2, I believe AP as it was in the business
section - recorded the results of a well known Think Tank whom Tommy
Thompson, one of the beltway's brightest is a board member - and the
article went like this.

The think tank contacted / surveyed over a thousand companies, major
manufacturers, builders, suppliers -etc - and asked if they had a plan
ready for a flu episode. Unfortunately, about 80% said "no." Now that's
scary. What's good though is that some of the industry leaders now in the
U.S. are trying to educate businesses and companies about survival plans.
This is a good thing.

So I ask - what is your agency, state, county, EMPLOYER's strategic plan?

Responding to 007 and hoping one of those comfy but weathered FS houses
comes open.......

The Forest Service is actively selling off government real estate. Much of
it those older but comfy government homes.
With budgets the way they are, districts fighting just to keep people
working - those good old days are gone.

The only government housing that may be rentable in the near future are the
old lookouts, now in the rental recreation program.

Seriously folks - the land management agencies don't have any money; the
paradigm has inverted and behaving like Mae West!

-- old dude
12/6 Good conference, FWFSA. Casey, GOOD JOB, MAN.

Re birdflu:

Bush was talking birdflu this morning on Foxxx. They're stepping it up.

Reported 3,000 birds with H5N1 dropped dead in Ukraine over the
weekend. The Ukrainian officials declared a "state of emergency" and
they're culling flocks.

Wife of a Chinese friend says there's a news blackout on bird flu in China
while one more case was officially declared.

I'm watching the news in a whole new way.

Thanks for the alert Mellie. I'm getting my family together tonight to
plan a town run to sams club and smart&final. We will get beans and
rice, but add some other canned and dried things too. Picking up some
galvanized trash cans for storage. Everyone is thinking and making lists.

We're telling the kids its like making Swiss Family Robinson plans.
Even they are into it. Thanks for that tip Mellie. Attitude is what its all


12/5 Just got back from attending the FWFSA conference in Reno, just wanted to write in a few comments.


It was a pleasure and an honor to finally meet you in person, I am only sorry that we were not able to sit down and chat a little more. Your presentation on the Bird Flu was very informative and scary at the same time, thanks for your tireless efforts.

Original AB and Vicki,

Congratulations on your award's. Both of you are perfect examples of integrity and compassion.

FWFSA Board Members,

Thanks for putting on this conference, it was nice being able to met some of the other members that came from far away places. The conference was allot of fun and I can't wait for 2007. I can't wait for the new web page, it sounds like a huge improvement.


You out did yourself organizing this conference. Thank you for all of your hard work and the nice goodies that we all got and let your wife know that we appreciated all of her help also. You can count on me if you need help in DC, GO LAKERS......

It was a great conference and family friendly. I hope folks will read this post and think real hard about attending our next conference in 2007, you will truly benefit from it by meeting some great people and your board members.


It was a most *excellent* meeting. Nice job Casey and all. It was mighty fine to have significant others and kids in, out and about. Thanks to Casey's wife for her work and activities for the kids. Ab.

12/3 just for information

the 12/2 comment by Zimm was not me. I am quite familiar with the SEATs and what they do and where they are. In the future I will be BC Zimmerman.


Nope, you've been Zimm for longer than dirt. The other person will be zimm2. I changed the moniker. Ab.

12/3 R5er

Nope, none of the apprentices have been offered jobs yet. We are still awaiting
word on when we can go ahead and do this. Hopefully it will be soon.....

12/3 Fellow Wildland Firefighters:

The dialogue has again commenced within the National Wildfire Coordination Group (NWCG) Incident Business Practices Working Team (IBPWT) regarding 2006 Administratively Determined (AD) wildland firefighter wages and benefits. Rumor has it they have already decreed no changes in wages from last year. From this we can also assume no changes in benefits (which have always been zip nada, none).

The AD wage level was lowered about 5 years ago from several regional standards to one national standard for almost all AD employees. Since that time there has been no increase in wage rates and, in fact, last year there was a concerted effort by IBPWT to reduce most AD wages. That effort was tabled by NWCG after a great deal of angst was expressed from a wide array of folks including some politicians.

5 Years in a row with no upward adjustment of AD wages amounts to a de facto reduction in wages in terms of real income. (Again benefits remain zip, nada, none.)

Below is a list (in rough descending order of numbers of persons effected) of the categories of firefighters who continue to be negatively effected by the continuing efforts of the IBPWT to reduce AD rates:

1. Native American and Hispanic AD Crews
2. Contract firefighters who are paid on parity with AD firefighters
3. Volunteer Fire Departments when deployed on federal fires
4. State Employees when deployed as AD’s on federal fires (most of the mountain, southern and eastern states)
5. De facto seasonal employees such as spouses and schoolteachers who are the seasonal backbone of most western dispatch centers
6. Retired federal wildland fire specialists still working as AD’s

This is a very large, critically important, and diverse group of American wildland firefighters. Add hurricanes, floods, disasters, impending pandemics, etc. to their current and future workload and AD’s become even more integral to national incident management efforts.

If you are an AD you will continue to be negatively affected by the current course of the IBPWT. If you are a federal incident or land manager it is in your best interest to support better treatment of such a large group of de facto employees upon whom you depend so much.

It is again time to contact in writing your congressman and senators with your concerns regarding the continued IBPWT negative attitude towards better wages and benefits of AD firefighters. There will be forthcoming more information regarding an organized letter writing effort on TheySaid and other forums such as AD Firefighter Association.

Thanks Abs for this truly great forum!!

12/2 Does anyone know if the Apprenticeship hiring is completed in R5 yet? I thought
I heard a date of 12/1 but I can't remember for sure.


12/2 Are the SEATs back up and flying. They went down after the Utah incident
and I have not heard anything since. Also, did a cause of that SEAT’s accident
get determined?

Are the comm. Caches ready to clone the new narrow band digital radios. We
just finished switching around from BK to EFJ. When we show up will they
have what we need to clone for the fire.


12/1 007

Thanks for the excellent reading.

12/1 Hello Ab-

Regarding the posts in response to the threat of Avian Flu and our ability to respond.

I believe that the recent hurricanes proved one thing quite clearly - the US is not even close to dealing with heavy impact emergencies. For years we have done a fine job of mobilizing an army to war, but we are always behind the power curve when it comes to fires, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and epidemics. It's not that our emergency services are grossly inept, I believe that it is because our citizens are 95% clueless about how the natural world works and how our society's infrastructure interacts with the natural world around us. Just watch a Southern Californian drive in the snow and it becomes quite apparent that regular interaction with our environment teaches us humans about how to react when the conditions change around us. My first suggestion would be for every community in the US to have an evacuation plan that specifies travel routes, time frames and logistical support mechanisms to support a mass exodus. If a community is next to a large body of water, perhaps a system of barges/boats could be employed to relieve the congestion on the roads.

Aviation contractors need to be pre identified for SAR operations. Mobile hospitals need to be cached along with medical supplies, food and drinking water.

Bottom line- address the emergency before it arrives. Because the earthquake is coming to Southern California, the flood to Salt Lake City, the wildfire to Denver, the Tsunamis to Anchorage and the pandemic to everywhere in between. It's not a question of if but when. All of us know this instinctively. Why does the population as a whole fail to grasp the dynamic nature of life on planet earth? If a city lies below sea level- its going to flood. If a city lies on top of a twisted maze of earthquake faults the earth is going to fracture and shake. If you live in an area where the natural vegetation burns, you are going to have wildfires. If you have no natural resistance to disease, without medical intervention chances are good that you will die. Every community should take responsibility for developing their own comprehensive plans for dealing with disasters.

Ask your community about it's emergency response plans- the answer may surprise you.

Chicken Little's Brother
-Big Vulture

12/1 checks for dee ann b., a quick search brought these up. i use image
checks. com and went through their portal, as they don't seem to have
any themselves.


today sign me
raining bambi buckets full outside
12/1 It appears that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Oregon
is pushing for portal-to-portal pay for Oregon Department of Forestry
employees engaged in incident response.


Rogue Rivers
12/1 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
12/1 Good morning, Ab.

We've added a couple more historic documents to the Fire Origins section on
the Colorado Firecamp website.

The first is the brief of the 1966 Loop Fire Analysis Group report.

The second is the 1967 report of the Fire Safety Review Team that was formed
in response to the Loop Fire tragedy.

Remember. Learn. Share.

vfd cap'n
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