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1/31 Old Sawyer,

Maybe someday They Said will have a day when we all get together and "de-cloak" from our monikers... A day that wildland firefighter safety is finally realized. Until then, we each have to do what we think is best for safety. That would be a dam* good "party" once we get there... oops.. I shoulda said "conference".

We are on the right track... just not quite there yet. Thanks for spreading the word about safety.

1/31 little embo,

It’s OK if you want to go back to being EMBO, as there is no other living EMBO of which I am aware. My previous post was just an emboism, to pay tribute to your bold emboness. After all, embo is a state of mind, isn’t it? Who am I to say you are not EMBO? We all feel like EMBO at times. Be EMBO and stand proud! Or whatever.

Misery Whip
1/31 Re: Risk Analysis

The Law of Air Guitar and others,

You bring up some good points. I think many in the wildland firefighting profession have been doing risk analysis for years and just never realized it. I also believe that some land managers have, and continue to do, risk analysis by sitting at their desks and making more rules for the fire program. Fire management, at least in the Forest Service, has a new doctrine that is having the bugs worked out of it.... a doctrine that takes many of us back to the times we started as a wildland firefighter.

Risk analysis is a key process in reaching the “Commander's Intent”, or “Leader's Intent” as found throughout the changes being addressed in Doctrinal Review. Probably the most important “intent” of today’s wildland fire mission is that each firefighter returns home safely after every assignment. That principle intent is “Fight fire aggressively but PROVIDE for SAFETY first.”

In Fire Suppression: Foundational Doctrine (USDA Forest Service, 2005), the following quotes may be useful in understanding the concept:

> Tom Harbour, Director of Fire and Aviation Management

“Let me open with a quote I like from Dee Hock (Visa founder): ‘Simple clear purpose and principles give rise to complex intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple stupid behavior.’ We are focused on defining those simple clear principles that will encourage complex intelligent behavior.”

> Mark Smith, Mission Centered Solutions

“Doctrine is the body of principles (not rules) that guides an organization’s activities and actions. A principle is the moral or ethical standard that forms the foundation of judgment, mode of action, decision, and behavior. Doctrine is the expression of the fundamental framework, concepts, and principles that guide the planning and conduct of operations. It is authoritative but flexible. Doctrine must be definitive enough to guide specific operation, yet adaptable enough to address diverse and varied situations.”

> Document Body

“Though the environment and the mission of the wildland fire fighter is demanding increased agility in decision making, the fire fighters’ ability to adapt and react has become more constrained. Fire line performance expectations have become increasingly rules-driven at the expense of addressing the fundamental human factors that lead to critical decision errors, delayed judgments, and improper actions.”

Now let’s get back to the point and use the sleeves up vs. down discussion as a basis for Doctrinal Review. Some posters believe that you should always have your sleeves down, while others believe it is appropriate for the supervisors to allow variation of the rule. Who is right? The answer is both, depending upon risk analysis and the “Commanders Intent”.

Risk analysis is something that is learned from experience and not the NWCG Risk Analysis Checklist. Using the risk analysis technique, a supervisor on a hotline assignment may determine that all the firefighters may need to have their sleeves rolled down to prevent burn injuries. They also may determine that sleeves need to be rolled down to prevent exposure to cuts from chaparral or exposure to poison oak. Contrarily, a supervisor using risk analysis under a different set of circumstances may determine the greatest threat of safety may be heat stress and allow his or her firefighters to roll their sleeves up. Both of the supervisors are meeting the “Commanders Intent”.

Before you jump to the keyboard for a reply, ask yourself these questions. Are you a commander, or do you have a commander, who wants people to come home each day or a commander that wants people to follow rules that may or may not apply to each situation found in the wildland firefighting environment? Are you a commander, or do you have a commander, using risk management, experience, and education to make the best decisions? Doctrinal Review is what it is all about.


P.S. – I still can’t find a reason that someone would wear a shirt soaked in oil and exhaust, sleeves up or down, on or near the fireline. It exposes the wearer to both short term (fire) and long term (health) hazards…. God only knows what it exposes their families to.

1/31 POd Warthog

Great comments a few days back..... Are you one of the REAL
Warthogs?? If so, one squeel (salute) for you.


1/31 FYI-

Thought it would be timely to let all of you know the current situation associated with NIMO. At the December meeting of the NFAEB, the following decisions were made:

  • Recruit and fill 2 NIMO teams this year (Proposed location is the SE (Atlanta) and the West (Boise).
  • Recruit and fill the NIMO coordinator position in Boise.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of these teams in meeting objectives before filling any additional teams (annual decision by NFAEB).

A follow-up conference call was held on Jan. 24 with the Regional FS FAM

Directors where the following was shared by the WO (FAM):

  • FS will fund the first two teams.
  • Salaries will be paid from suppression.
  • Outreach should begin with the month.
  • Target for vacancy announcement is April.
  • All available qualified personnel may apply (Temporary and Term positions - will be flown both Demo and agency wide) IPA's if needed will be used for non-fed partners.
  • Looking at virtual offices to reduce moving costs and potential problems of establishing appropriate office space.

I'll keep you posted as I hear more, and Marc Rounsaville is planning on discussing NIMO at the annual meeting. Thanks, ML

Michael H. Lohrey
Incident Commander, PNW National Team 2
Chair, National IC/AC Group

1/31 FYI:

The 2006 version of the PMS 310-1, Wildland Fire Qualification System
Guide, is now available. There are changes from the previous version so I
recommend getting familiar with it. There will be a question and answer
session offered this spring regarding qualifications, training and task
books. The link to the document is below:



1/31 Always

In the spring of 1968 I left home in my 57 Chevy for a helitack job, and asked my best friend to take care of my girlfriend. He took way too much care of her, impairing our friendship for-- always. On the other hand, I also happened to fall for a young lady, Kathy, that summer whom I met at the local dance hall with my helitack team. We had a wonderful romance and remained friends, but I ended up marrying Kathy’s best friend, Lynn, who I met at Kathy’s cabin the next summer while on the helitack team again. She was the most outgoing, gregarious and fun person I had ever met, the opposite of my own overly serious and introverted personality.

When I lead the hotshot crew in 1971 Lynn was right there with me and the crew, organizing softball games, playing cards with us, teaching the shy crew-members how to dance to the cowboy music. One evening after a fire we all went to the local bar- steak house- pool room- dance hall for dinner. I had picked up Lynn and showered. Many of the crew had not bothered to clean up. Lynn was beating most of the crew at pool when she asked some drunk lady to move a little so she could make a tight shot, but the drunk started a fight with her.

The crew and I broke up the cat-fight but in the process a local tough guy with a bad reputation slugged me in the side of the face and we got into it. Despite their impaired situational awareness, the crew had us quickly paralyzed with bear hugs, in a pile on the bar-room floor. We introduced ourselves as we suspiciously loosened our grips. The local tough guy apologized, saying he wouldn’t have hit me if he had he known who I was. We bought each other a beer and Lynn finished whipping the crew at pool.

Over that summer, unwittingly, Lynn did more to further our group dynamics and build crew cohesion than I could have ever done. Lynn became chronically ill from cystic fibrosis. Even during her many hospitalizations, her room was always filled with friends, flowers, card games and joy. When the doctors had done all they could, Lynn came home with grace, and died peacefully in our bed. This ended my connection to people I was with in the fire service. These were among the most exciting, challenging and romantic times of my life. I eventually remarried, raised a family and lived happily ever after, but I always remember with great fondness my time with the fire service, with my crew members, with the people I met along the way- always.

But tomorrow I will be up early to discuss fire law with a hundred hotshot supervisors from Regions 3, 8 and 9. An opportunity to meet with some of the best people on Earth- always.

Old Sawyer

Sweet. Ab.

1/31 Re: LaSportiva Boots

Hi Ab,

Just a heads up on the fad of the LaSportiva boots that several are trying out. LaSportiva has a terrible warranty process. I purchased a pair of the Makalu and had a flaw in workmanship. Went to the retailer and they tried to replace the boot but the boots have to be sent back to LaSportiva and they decide if it warrants a repair, replacement, etc. Retailer even called the company and told them the boot was faulty and wanted to replace them. No way, the boot had to be sent in.

Next question- What do you do while you wait for them to decide? Do you have an extra pair laying around? I would stick with the firefighting boot companies that have always been there! I know of an example where a guys boots broke down on a fire. Called the boot company and a pair were sent overnight to the fire camp. No questions asked! So beware.


1/31 Ab,

The NIOSH report on the Tuolumne Fire is at www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200440.phpl

vfd cap'n
1/31 Refresher topics:

Ab thanks for forwarding the feedback. Yeah, power lines...

I still see vehicles parked and staged, ICP's and DP's under power lines.
Some folks still need to look up once and a while.

Thanks for the input . . . .and the opportunity to ask.

Dave C

1/31 Ab

My condolences to the Wildland Fire Community on the loss of 2 respected members.
The loss of a trusted associate is always traumatic, no matter what world one lives in.
At least they did not pass on the line; even though one was traumatic.

My wishes for solace to the families, friends and team members left behind.

May God Bless them and take them into his arms.

1/31 490

The final day for getting your prework to the r5 490 coordinator is fast
approaching. Please have it in by the 10th. And study hard, version 3
of behave plus.

Last year we had some folks claim that the turn around time for the
prestudy and prework is too quick, can I ask how fast you would
respond to a fire assignment?

And what else are people with this course on their training developmen
plan doing in January anyway?

Take care,

1/30 Good evening:

I am a former Army officer (active duty 1982-1986) and currently a member of an online forum that is tracking the development and spread of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) strain referred to as H5N1. My concern is for the troops in Iraq and neighboring countries in the Middle East who may be exposed to this virus.

A teenage girl from the town of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq died on January 17, 2006 after presenting with symptoms consistent of having contracted avian influenza. Test results performed by a U.S. Navy Medical Research Unit in Cairo, Egypt on samples from the girl confirmed the presence of the H5N1 strain. Those results were just released today. In addition, an Iraqi man identified as a relative (uncle) of the girl who died also presented with similar symptoms several days later. He, too, has died. While there is no confirmed indication of this virus transmitting efficiently from human to human, evidence from an outbreak in Turkey that began January 1, 2006 indicates that the virus has likely developed at least a limited human to human transmission capability.

If there is anything that you might suggest as a way to get information about this to the troops, it would be appreciated. I am including a link to a thread at the forum that specifically addresses the developments in Iraq. www.curevents.com/vb/showthread.php?t=37153 The website is called Curevents.com.

John Diedrich

Iraqi health authorities go on bird flu alert
Five mobile hospitals with special equipment were due to arrive in northern Iraq later today.

1/30 I am helping to instruct this year's Fire Refresher Training on my forest
and am interested in gathering some thoughts and concerns from all over.
I am sending out emails to a few fire folks that may have some input...
large or small. I am charged with presenting the Risk Management and
10 & 18 portion of the refresher. I don't want this years to be the typical
canned information... and want it to hit some current issues that may be
resolved there and then... or at least discussed and thought about. I am
not looking to start another forum on safety issues... just some things
that may need to be brought up this year. I have not received any new
refresher training info for this year so I am sending out this message.

I have my own issues to add... but ANY input will be greatly
appreciated. You can post it in here for all to see or just email me
directly . .if that is allowed in here.

For those concerned... Hope your travel home from TX was safe.

Happy Trails to all

Dave Canning FOBS TX-IA dcanning@ fs.fed.us
1/30 Memorial Bar-B-Q for Dale will be held at Paskenta Community Hall on
Saturday, February 4 @ 1 p.m. in the town of Paskenta. Paskanta is about
15 miles west of Corning on county Road A9.

The family is requesting Donations in leu of Flowers. Please send donations
to St. Elizabeth Hospice, 1425 Vista Way, Red Bluff, California 96080.
Please make checks payable to: St. Elizabeth Hospice in Memory of Dale
Nichols. If you want you can send along with your donation a separate
piece of paper, if you want an acknowledgement sent to the family.

Cards to the family can be sent to:
Flint Nichols & his Sisters
P.O. Box 1223
Corning, California 96021
1/30 Ab,

HeeeEEEYYYYYyyyy!! I'm not THAT old! ..ok, well meb'be I am. Lets just say that we were still wearin' the old wide orange fire shelter at the time. And to be honest, of the 2 times that forbidden nectar was partaken of in inappropriate times in my career, I will say it was definitely never done in excess...we (the crew elders) wouldn't allow it. Just a nice cold one after a long day. RE the photo: Nope, that was a picture taken the morning after a crew get together. Completely legit.

OK, here is an anti "Always moment": After a particularly long shift (way before the 16hr limits of today), a group of crews finally made it into camp one evening.( I believe this was at the same Happy Camp that someone mentioned recently, but of course a different fire). We bellied up to the chow wagon in anticipation of some hot food and low and behold they were taking the sandwiches out of the remainder of the days sack lunches and grilling them up for us! GRRRRR. The regional guru at the time caught wind of it and the last I saw of him he was stomping off to some bigwig tent. By the time we got up the next morning a brand new caterer was moved in and set up ready to go. YEA!!!!!!


1/30 CDF Division Chief Bill Clayton sent the below e-mail to the San Diego Unit this morning. His State e-mail will remain active so if you would like to drop him a farewell he can be reached at Bill.Clayton@ fire.ca.gov


His note:

Fellow Firefighters,

Today I end my firefighting career with CDF spanning some 48 years. I leave you
with my favorite axiom that applies not only on the fire line: “Only the spirit of attack
born in a brave heart will bring success on the fire ground.”

I got to live the dream!

Bill Clayton

1/30 Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dales family, friends and to his
second family the Eldorado Hotshots.  Hang in there sandy.

Prineville Hotshots
1/30 I'll miss Dale and his good cheer. My best thoughts for his family.

Thoughts and prayers for Will's family and friends... sad day.


1/30 Ab,

We are quite sad to hear that Dale Nichols passed away last Friday.
Condolences to his family and friends.

Kenton and Heidi Wills

Regarding Photo, Dale Nichols is on the left, what a smile!
1/30 TC - Thanks for the note on Dale. I have some fond memories of him and L.S. station.

Always moment:
After a long shift cutting line we ended up down at a resort on a major river. We sent one poor sap to hump back up to the top to bring our bus down to the bottom (this was pre crew carrier days). As we were sitting there, the resort owner came out and asked if we all wanted something to drink. Of course we said yes, figuring he would bring out some lemonade or something. Well... a few minutes later he comes out with several cases of beer, a couple jugs of wine and other associated.... beverages. We all just sort of stopped, no one wanting to step forward to take ahold of the forbidden liquid. .. That was until the crew supt bellied up and grabbed a brew. Needless to say, we were all happy campers by the time the bus got back to pick us up.

I'm sure I have a few other "Always moments" bumpin around in my empty head...when I remember them I will sent them in. This is a good lighthearted subject.


Pulaski is not a young wip'er'snapper. I'm sure this was some looong years ago during his handcrew days... Wann'a fill us in on the year, P? Were these the remains? Ab.

1/30 It saddens me to inform you that this past weekend, Eldorado Hotshot Will
Reid lost his life in a vehicle accident. Will spent the last 3 seasons on
the crew as a sawyer. He was one of the finest employees and hardest
workers ever to come through our program. As more information becomes
available, we will send it out via email or you can check our website,
www.eldoradohotshots.org. Please keep the Reid family in your thoughts and

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made for the Reid family at the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Thank you all for your support right now.

Thanks for the information, Sandy. Condolences to Will's family, to you and your crew and to all who knew Will and called him friend. Please be safe everyone. Ab.

1/30 Ab,

I'm sad to report that Will Reid on the Eldorado Hotshot crew died over the
weekend in a car crash. As more details are available I'll let you know.

Former HS

1/30 Howdy Ab,

How and when did the label "hotshot" get applied to experienced Type 1 crews? It's a trivia question, but I seriously would like to know.

And to Law of Air Guitar: Good observation. As a dear and sometimes brilliant colleague asserted, the cost and risk of fighting fires is not justifiable when you consider benefit only in terms of houses and trees not burned. However, it is justified (to us who live the dream) if you measure benefit as seasons spent working your ass off with your best friends in the most beautiful places ordinary folks never see.

Kierkegaard also said, "When you can't do what you ought to do, do very well what you can do." And, "the greatest danger is not to take the risk."

1/30 For anyone that knew Dale Nichols, he pasted away at 11:30 Friday evening.
He had been battling cancer for some time. According to Flint (his son) he
went peacefully. Do not know of the arrangements but will let you all know
if I here anything. Dale retired several years ago as an engine captain on
the Mendocino N.F., but stayed involved with the Forest Service as a
contractor restoring historic buildings.


...if we live in forgiveness we die in our dreams - Ray Wylie Hubbard

Condolences. Ab.

1/29 Hey Ab:

The most like "Always" thread is fun and really brought back some memories. Like Old Fire Guy, my most surreal experience clearly goes to Northern California 1987. I was on the, most inappropriately named, "Happy Complex." In, the most inappropriately named, Happy Camp, California. Recollections:

-30 days in smoke down your feet

-A sharp NPS ranger in the Medical Unit who set up "Oxygen tents" to treat CO poisoning

-A retired dentist for a driver who had the DOE doing nuclear winter experiments on tomato plants in his garden

-Lots of bored pilots of grounded helicopters (you can imagine)

-A camp that grew by hundreds without adding chow, telephone, sanitary facilities - lines that looked like the opening of "Star Wars" (and in some ways the Star Wars bar scene) - you can imagine

-Native American firefighters drumming (on all nature of improvised drums) late into the night. Better than most pow-wows, but hard to sleep

-Eskimo firefighters on their first trip to the Lower 48

-A barn full of pot at the Division break

-A Operations Chief telling us at morning briefing "Make sure your people have their fire shelters today, because they're gon'na need 'em"

-A conversation when my dozer bosses, from the State of Georgia, and I said "repeat" a least five times each before agreeing to meet at the drop point where we could see each others' lips

-An LEO, assigned to the division, who was apparently the guy everyone picked on in high school and contract fallers, assigned to the division, who were apparently the guys who picked on him

-Deep sea fishing off Crescent City for R&R, followed by a dinner of fresh caught Cod at the charter Captain's house

-My friend and Branch Director telling some rude, uncaring de-mob p*ke in Yreka that he might want to check his list again, because if the name of a young lady from his forest wasn't on the list he was going to "kick someone's a**, and your name is at the top of the list." (funny after another check, her name was, in fact, on the list!)

Ah, the Glory days!

Sign me,

1/29 Abs, All--

There is a section in the link Misery Whip posted that cuts to the heart of the matter as to the safety discussion regarding Into the Firestorm:

“…The ‘design set of rules,’ written to meet the worst-case scenario
imagined, were bound to be interpreted as overly controlling and as an
unreasonable burden on operators in the field. In contingency language, the rules
didn’t match the situation most of the time.

"When the rules don’t match, pragmatic individuals adjust their behavior
accordingly; they act in ways that better align with their perceptions of current
demands. In short, they break the rules. According to General Carleton, the Task
Force Commander who took over after General Pilkington was relieved:
‘Violations of policy and guidance occur minute by minute out there. Some are
willful violations, but most are not.’…

"Such mismatches between the local demands of the situation and those of
global design rules occurred with increasing regularity as operators gained
personal experience in the field. As a result, the pervasive demands of day-to-day
practice inevitably shifted the logic of action from one based primarily on formal
rules, to one driven more tightly by the task—the ever-present demands of
minute-to-minute practice. Over time, the seductive persistence of pragmatic
practice loosens the grip of even the most rational and well-designed formal
procedures. I call this phenomenon ‘practical drift’—the slow, steady uncoupling
of local practice from written procedure…” (Snook 2000, p. 192-194)

I believe that it was this process of "Practical Drift" that people picked up on when watching the Discovery Channel series, and has led to such vociferous debate.

One other comment--
Many now have commented on how far wide of the mark the show has missed the "reality" of being on the line.  Small wonder, when the only way to capture the reality of being on a fire is to do it.  I would like to postulate that instead of capturing reality, the series has done a good job of capturing the flavor, or the spirit, of  the experience, which is all that the producers could really hope to do.  Food for thought.

Class C Sagebrush Faller

1/29 Re: Johnny Wannabe-a-hotshot

I have a few questions to ask you before I hire you as a smokejumper.

1. Seems to me from your message that you were raised on either a farm or a ranch of some kind. My question is if you were dispatched to choke chickens as many of us were a few years ago, would you be willing to choke your own chicken back at the farm or ranch which ever it may be?

2. Say you're sitting in a scab flat in the middle of nowhere, your pack is off and you're shaded up waiting for the helicopter to come get you because your pack is too heavy, what meal would you want at that very moment? If it’s soup what kind of soup?

3. You come across a fellow firefighter high grading the last pork rib MRE. You proceed to get in an altercation, what hold or move would you use to subdue the poacher, for instance half nelson, full nelson or maybe the elusive father nelson?

4. Some of us carry pictures, letters or some sort of memento or keepsake, like a rock that would fit in your pocket to remind us of things that are important to us. What would you carry that you could pass on or even touch people with?

5. If you had to be involved emotionally or physically with a club, what kind of club would it be?

6. If you were in a band in the off season and you didn’t have a real instrument while fighting fires, what imaginary instrument would you play?

Ps: sorry Misery Whip wrong embo, I’ll have to change to little embo!!!!

little embo
1/29 Hi to all:

The business office for the FWFSA is now in Inkom, Idaho. While continuing to endure the incompetent efforts of a major moving company (probably should have been called the Three Stooges Moving Company), we are getting a few things to the house despite the intermittent snow.

The new phone number for the business office is: 208-775-4577 and the mailing address is:

P.O. Box 517
Inkom, Idaho 83245

For all you lurking BLM firefighters around Pocatello etc., I hope to hear from you and inform you as to what the FWFSA is doing for you and how you can have your voice be influential and effectively heard in DC.

At the very least, those of you not members in Idaho & Montana should join just because of all the %#&^ I've had to endure getting up here to "God's Country.." It's gorgeous.

Please feel free to call or e-mail me at any time;

Hope all is well with everyone.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Glad you and your family made it Casey. Your house looks great. Lots of defensible space around it. Lots of room for those kids to grow up in too. Ab.

1/29 GSA Purchasing:

Our Fire Department is trying purchase through GSA. Our State does not allow it
unless we are covered by our Forest Fire Service. We are not.

So can anyone help with this?
Fire Chief John D'Ascensio

1/29 Abs:

Along the "Always" thread:

In the 80's I had the pleasure of being a collateral duty airtanker base manager in addition to being an AFMO, ICT3, etc. The base was located on an Air National Guard field and of course there was an Officer's Club with a well-attended lounge.

During fire seasons (this is in the Southeast) we would have our busy days. The evening debriefings were, of course, held well after dark at the O. Club and would, of course, include all involved and a few beers.

Serene humility always prevailed regarding the day's events albeit driven by a few spirits. Great stories were told. Respect for all involved always held the upper hand. We were all most aware of the gravity of our next day's duties and went home or to hotel early.

I made some of the best friends of my lifetime during this period. Several of them are no longer with us. We all really do miss them. The O. Club has a small memorial to a few of them. I am told that thes debriefings are shortly to no longer be as the base is being closed.

The movie "Always" happened in the late 80's and caused all of us a good laugh. The movie was very unlike the life we felt we all led. It was a movie, a fantasy, a concoction of what things are like according to movie makers. It did, however, glorify to the general public what we do for a living and for that I can say we were all proud. The reality is that we all worked very hard to do a very good job of putting wildfires out and to take whatever opportunities we could to enjoy the friendship of the folks we were working with. And we still do.

In memory of some really great fire aviators.

1/29 Re Firefighting and Health:


I'm not ignoring you on the cancer and extreme athlete risk issues, just trying to
get a moment to reply. Thanks for the heads up on that issue.

Women extreme-athletes frequently have their hormones messed up which results
in cessation of menstruation. This is true of marathoners, gymnasts, and others like
wildland firefighters who engage in long-term, physically stressful training/working
regimens. Men probably are equally changed hormonally, there are just no markers
that give the outward sign.

If we add in other environmental stressors such as smoke and all the electronic gear
you carry on your bodies for long hours, I have no doubt that there's a toll (increased
"allostatic load") on the body that increases your risk for cancer.

Yep, I be thinking on it.


1/28 vfd cap’n,

Ahem. We seem to have an ongoing misunderstanding about the definition of duty. In your 1/23 post, you said:

“I think it is an unfortunate circumstance for wildland firefighters that duty calls for more than what the job description says. It might be the bird flu, a terrorist attack, or the next big California quake. Fairly or unfairly - with or without proper training or equipment - "green pants" are expected to respond.”

There are several different definitions for the word “duty” in the dictionary. If you are referring to the definition of duty as something that must be done for moral reasons, then I agree that I will probably count myself among the thousands of “green pants” who will answer the all-risk call when it comes again. As we know it surely will.

But there is another definition of duty, in which both parties have obligations through previous agreements, that is not presently being met by the federal land management and disaster management agencies. I currently work in a secondary wildland firefighter position, my primary job is something else. There is no mention of all-risk in my job description. Officially, no one has ever told me that I must respond to all-risk incidents. I have received zero training in all-risk.

On the fire side, I have a ton of training I’ve received over the years. I pretty much know the risks in wildland fire and feel that it is a reasonable bargain to take these risks, even though I have seen dozens of friends and acquaintances die during my career. In return for what I give and risk when I work on fires, I make a living and derive satisfaction from this work. I accept that it is my duty to be a wildland firefighter and to respond as such when called.

So are you implying that my previous obligation and agreement to be a wildland firefighter means that I must now also expose myself to EXTREMELY hazardous environments and chaotic civil circumstances without any renegotiation of that agreement? It seems to me that if our government wants to use us in a capacity for which we are not trained, then they have a DUTY TO US to tell us up front that they want us to perform these missions, what we are expected to do on these missions, to tell us about the risks of these missions, and to pay, equip, and train us appropriately.

All-risk at least deserves hazardous duty pay, don’t you think?

The latter definition of duty is the one I have been using.

By the way, as much as I respect Jim Cook, Jim Saveland’s excellent paper from the 2005 Wildland Fire Safety Summit “Integral Leadership and Signal Detection for High Reliability Organizing and Learning” indicates there has been no real recent downward trend in entrapment fatalities. Here’s the link:



You old far*, it was really good to see your post on They Said. What dark hole have you been hiding in?

Misery Whip

1/28 Re bird flu:

Stanford to begin human tests of bird flu vaccine

Stanford Medical Center is already recruiting research volunteers so they can begin the screening process. They are looking for healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 64 to take part in the experimental testing. The phone number to volunteer is (650) 498-7284.

They just posted the trial on their website. http://vaccines.stanford.edu/clinical_trials.phpl

A randomized, placebo-controlled, Phase I/II, dose-ranging study of the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of intermuscular inactivated influenza A/H5N1 vaccine with different adjuvants in healthy adults

  • SUMMARY: The emergence of the avian influenza virus strains in human populations outside of the U.S. has added urgency to ongoing efforts to develop plans for responding to potential world-wide outbreak. Three influenza pandemics have occurred during the last century. This study is sponsored by the NIH and will help us compare the safety and immune response of varying doses of an avian influenza vaccine, either alone or when combined with adjuvants (substances designed to enhance immunity). The vaccine will be administered to healthy adults by intramuscular injection in the arm as two doses, given one month apart.
  • The study will involve one screening visit and six clinic visits over a 7-8 month period. At the first and third clinic visits, subjects will receive an avian flu vaccine given in one of 8 possible combinations. It is also possible (1 chance in 9) that subjects will receive a placebo vaccine. A blood sample will be taken at each of the screening and clinic visits. Subjects will receive reimbursement for completed study visits ($30.00 per visit). There will be no costs for participation.
  • ELIGIBILITY: We are enrolling healthy adults who are 18 to 64 years of age.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please contact the Stanford-LPCH Vaccine Program at (650) 498-7284.

Enrollment may close quickly, so please call as soon as possible if interested

(For further information regarding your rights as a participant, please call 1-866-680-2906 or write the Administrative Panel on Human Subjects in Medical Research, Administrative Panels Office, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5401.)


1/28 Re: Into the Firestorm Discovery Channel Series:


I was involved in the production of the Discovery Channel special. I am an Assistant District Fire Management Officer (Battalion Chief) for the Forest Service.

In early summer, I was contacted by my Forest FMO (Chief) about a production company desiring to film our crews and engines during the 2005 fire season for a Discovery Channel special. As customary, this Discovery Channel special was approved by the Washington Office public affairs staff before any official participation. A meeting was arranged to discuss the specifics.

The first meeting was attended by the following: the Forest FMO (Chief), Deputy FMO (Deputy Chief), the forest public affairs officer (PAO), myself, and two Supervisory Forestry Technicians (One Engine Captain and one Hotshot Supt.). Also in attendance were the Supervising Producer and an Assistant Producer of the Discovery Channel special.

During this first meeting, it was discussed that our local portion of the production would be following one of our hotshot crews and one of our engine modules. We were also told that they would be filming in Region 6 and possibly some CDF units. Our participation further expanded to include our other hotshot crew and our helitack crew due to a slow fire season.

There would be a producer type person and one or two camera people following each of the modules. What was different about this show was that the producers and photographers were not going to be constantly shadowed by a Forest Service PAO person or someone to watch out for their safety.

As part of the meeting, it was agreed upon that since we were not going to be providing a “minder”, the Forest Service would provide S-130, S-190, LCES, and Standards for Survival as a prerequisite for our local participation in the production. The production company agreed even though they had no requirement to do so. By law, in California and Oregon, the press/media have free access unless they are interfering with operations.

Around 30 employees of the production company received the training including field drills such as handline construction and doing hoselays. They also deployed the new and old style fire shelters. They got down and dirty just like all of us do. They received a certificate that they had completed Basic Wildland Firefighter Training according to NWCG standards.

The people who were doing the editing (producers) were on the same fireline as the photographers.

What I think some people are missing from the Discovery Channel special is how the 30 or so people doing the production bonded with the wildland firefighters….. They ate, drank, and slept with wildland firefighters during much of this production.

What scared me the most was that the production company folks went out to kick back and drink a “few” beers or hang with the folks who were providing the training and get to know them… then it dawned on me… There is no reason to be pissed off at anything they show… they, like us, have had wildland firefighter training.

The next morning, the instructor did a power hike with the HUNG OVER production folks just as he would have done with any other new firefighter… lets just say they learned………


Once again, thanks to all involved. Ab.

1/28 Re movie Always:

The closest fire camp to the movie Always that I have experienced in 32 years of fighting fire with the CDF was the Lexington Fire in the mid 1980’s.

The fire camp was set up at a park and along with the standard feeding arrangements; there were “portable” food kitchens like the kind you would see at a State Fair. They had pizza, snow cones and the other usual Fair Food, there was an AT&T area set up so firefighters could call home, all at no cost! They even provided Massage Tables (quite the line for the service) to ease the fire fighters sore muscles. Of course we slept on the ground….but the rest of the camp was pretty amazing.

With the bag lunches the next day, came the biggest surprise. I was supervising an Inmate hand crew at the time, and when I opened my lunch to see the contents, was surprised to find a Budweiser in the bag! The Captains quickly checked the other lunches and lo and behold each of the brown bags contained a Bud!


You were expected to be "older bud'wiser"? Ab.

1/27 Start planning now, the IAWF is having two conferences in 2006. In March it's the 1st Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference: Fuels Management--How to Measure Success, then April brings the 9th Wildland Fire Safety Summit. See the details and links on the Classified Page under Announcements/Notices. OA.
1/27 To all:

As the great existentialist Kierkegaard once said, “Where is the love?” (or was that the Black Eyed Peas?) The question rings as the current debate of fire line safety rattles ad nauseum.

This forum, whether you view it as academic or ignorant, provides us with a channel to vent our frustrations. In the world of wildland firefighting, corrupted by bureaucratic bumbling and complicated by the dynamics of unfulfilling theoretic modeling, our frustrations run deep as poof dirt in Northern Nevada and the ash of perished tundra in Alaska. Every year, in the season of fire hibernation, we fire fighters, presumably out of boredom take to rearranging the furniture of our discontent. Last year at this time they told us that we needed to buy professional liability insurance or face criminal prosecution. Years before they speak of how Swiss cheese effects the flight of aircraft or the trigger points of contingent thresholds within due diligence as a function of Monte Carlo Risk Analysis.

I refuse to engage any subject in a spirit of criticism without providing a solution. After years of being a student of Risk Analysis, I have come to understand one irrefutable law that spans the concept of Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA), Leadership, Safety, and yes even efficient fire suppression.

The Law of Air Guitar.
1/27 To all:

I’ve watched two episodes of “Into the firestorm” and I am anxious to learn more about fire fighting. I want to be a Hotshot but have a couple questions.
  1. Do smokejumpers ever get the chance to fight bigger and more complex fires like the ones that the Hotshot’s are shown fighting?
  2. After watching the show, I am beginning to see the hierarchy. Hotshot’s big fires, Smokejumpers little fires. How many years do you have to be a smokejumper before you can graduate to the ranks of Hotshot? (Do you have to have experience before you become a smokejumper? skydiving, camping, hiking etc.)
  3. Is it common for Smokejumpers to not have tools when fighting fire? Or did I miss something on the last episode of the show?
  4. Are there any Hotshot crew’s near Walla Walla, WA (my home town)?

I play a wicked air guitar and have been practicing an air guitar version of Whitney Houston’s “I will always Love you.”

Johnny Wannabe-a-hotshot

HAW, HAW, HAW great trolling. Ab.

1/27 The Oregon Department of Forestry is accepting applications for Seasonal Forest Officers, with full-time positions located throughout Oregon. Please see the details on the Jobs Page. Thanks, OA.
1/27 Gotta agree with RP.

My hat's off to Prineville and Redmond (and the other FF's appearing on 'Firestorm") for being gutsy enough to let film crews record their every move for an audience of thousands in the first place. That kind of 'fame' doesn't sound like a heck of a lot of fun.

IMHO, some people (including me) weren't aware of how MUCH splicing and dicing goes on in the making of these documentary-style shows, at least until those in the know pointed it out. Most of the criticism seemed well intentioned, not mean-spirited, but a lot of it revolves around scenes that apparently had little connection to reality. The result: frustration on all sides. For what it's worth, in my few encounters with Prineville and Redmond on the line they've been nothing but safe and professional.

I hope that new FF's are savvy enough to realize that the difference between TV and reality applies to our profession as much as any other. Maybe it's something that should be addressed in basic training classes. (At least for some of us - when I first looked into fire jobs, as an utterly clueless secretary from the 'burbs, I thought newbies got to jump out of airplanes the first year, and lived in 'Always'-style fire camps when away from home.) But in light of Firestorm's inaccurate depiction of events and circumstances, holding up the participating crews as bad examples of fireline safety would be exceedingly unjust.

Just my two cents,

1/27 GIS Girl.

Absolutely. Once Tony and I figure it out, we will get the route to you. The general area is from Red Rock State Park (on hwy 14 near Ridgecrest) through the desert (California city) and hopefully, I need to call them, through Edwards Air Force Base......to Fox field. Then down Sierra Hwy (instead of Bouquet Canyon)....into Newhall and Santa Clarita.

Went for a second opinion on my knee today. Yep, apparently all I needed was a 5 inch piece of tape. Uh huh, just to pull my Patella over a schosh. Lesson learned, don't mess with non sports medicine Docs.

Guys, I'm done with the whole S-2 thing. My original post was a JOKE.

Kenneth C. Perry

I did not change Ken's name to initials (as I do with ALL posts) because we know Ken already. If you want a pic to go with the name, scroll back to one of the last posts on the 2x52 mile run. Yeah, he helped raise mega-bucks for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation last year. Ab.

1/27 Original Ab notes on recent firestorm posts:

1/24 joatmon decried there weren’t any postings or feedbacks on some tv-show-related website. I say, not too surprising from where I sit. I wrote in and told them to come here and see how their documentary was received.

1/23 young and dumb in region 1: *best question award!* Just how were those arriving smokejumpers filmed from the ground on their way to a fire? (and informative that someone wrote in with the answer)

1/23 A Firefighter: signs themselves with a moniker, but want’s Norcal Tom to come out of the shadows. I know who NorCal Tom is and know if they did step forward, you’d realize what a large shadow they cast.

1/23 jh: “Just like the other guys and girls that I work with, I stay away from these kinds of discussions”.
The discussions you stay away from are about Safety? Hotshots? Smokejumpers? What?

The They Said It page isn’t a chat room, though we do have one available. But not to worry about entering there, most “angry” folks don’t last long.

1/24 b: said “I can't believe the free time that people have to critique us”.
Oh my boy, the folks here make it a priority to create the time to critique just about anyone. Don’t feel picked on, they’ve critiqued, criticized, blasted, wrote letters to, and otherwise made their opinions known. It’s called information sharing. Whether you like the info you read; whether you’re a frequent participant or lurker, wouldn’t you rather know what people are thinking about? Especially when the focus may be near and dear to you? If this tv show would have run 10 years ago, who would determine how the audience felt about it? The tv, of course. ....Not anymore.

Rest assured we’ll all be watching the rest of the series. Not because we feel we are any good at being critics, just because we are all firefighters and we can see ourselves in what we see.

1/25 J said: “I wish the yahoos that have all this time to rip on these guys could put as much heart into going to congress. . .”
I know some of the folks doing the ripping are FWFSA members and are doing all they can to make their representatives hear them. The movers and the shakers that bring about change for all of us. (Join the FWFSA. Make your voice heard.)

And to say that “so many people are around to voice their opinion on what we did wrong but, those same people aren't around to do the real work”, well I disagree on that one. Contributors here are hard workers. Many are the major agents of change on the ground. Some are youngsters. Some have been around for many years. Some are retired but still contributing to improving safety. Remember also that it isn’t only in your neck of the woods that the budgets are pinching. Lots'o'people including some who post here are overloaded with too much work and too little time and resources.
1/27 Re: PO'd off Warthog

You sound like you have a great deal of experience with being a
hotshot and a jumper. It would be "great" to hear more from you.
Please share with us more of your experience.


1/27 While talking with the President of FWFSA Mike
Preasmeyer on the Plunge fire the other day, he made a
comment that I thought was simple yet profound " If
all the folks who use prefix 11 on their payroll
sheets in front of the overtime code 21 and are NOT
members of the FWFSA, they should be ashamed of

For $10 a pay period from all those folks, we could as
an association be a force to be reckoned with.

Sign up NOW!


The FWFSA website is being revamped. It's easy to sign up. Ab.

1/27 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated.

The Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments, Forestry Division, is currently recruiting supervisors and crewmembers for the Wyoming Helitack Crew for the 2006 Fire Season. See their announcement on the Jobs Page.


1/27 Re: Firestorm


I find it interesting that the only people with enough guts to use their own names in their response to action's that are portrayed in the show are ones who were actually involved. This is actually comical. It appears to me that the criticism comes from many that lack experience or any common sense and fail to have any knowledge about the world around them. Has this created a good debate? This is not a debate or even a discussion. This is a forum for ignorance. If you have something to say, stand up and say it! Show your self!

I am well aware of how this show was produced. The film was shot by several cameras manned by fire trained camera men and women. Hours up on hours of tape were handed over to an editing crew that did not ever step foot on filming locations or even know any of the people being filme d. It was edited in a production facility in California by people who have the job putting together a job that the Discovery Channel would buy! The on-site crew turned everything over to these departments to put together something good. If it was not, it would have never hit the screen. The Discovery Channel DID NOT PAY TO HAVE THIS FILMED! It was by a company that creates films and sells them to the highest bidder. In this example, after the success of "The Deadliest Catch", the company was told, "go out and film firefighting and let us see what you come up with. If it is good we might use it".

Now with that in mind (if you can). Do you not think that this was dramatized? That the context was distorted? That the sequence was pasted together to give the best entertainment rating for its intended viewing audience? This is a show for, T.V. VIEWING ENTERTAINMENT! The discussion about s how being construed as training and what will young people think seeing a firefighter w/o gloves! What you are saying is that these people are too weak to know the difference between reality and entertainment. Most alarming are the people that are running into their classrooms to say, "Do not believe this, this is not how it is supposed to be done!" Well if you can not tell the difference, you have absolutely no business in this business. What this forum has created is a site for people to surface with autonomy and make accusations that only show their ignorance. Again, STEP UP TO THE PLATE FOLKS, raise your hand show us who you are. I for sure want to know because when the going gets tough and you are in the area. I will know that you are not a person to rely on.

The firefighters in this show are the ones you can count on to get the job done and done right! So watch the show and get a life. Go out and watch a good training film in something other then firefighting because this is not where you belong!

Central Oregon Firefighter (32 years)

Welcome RP, glad something pushed your button. I think the process here has been just ducky. People state their mind, people re'butt, we come to some common understanding, even the ones who cited safety issues at the beginning have a differen't perspective, I'll bet. We're all watching avidly. The Public is tuning in. My guess is they'll run the show again the next time fire hits the news. We're getting waaaay too much email from young people wanting to be wildland firefighters - hotshots and smoke jumpers. Better the show aired now when they can actually apply for firefighting jobs and work their way up to hotshot or SJ caliber and experience. Gives 'em some time to practice their air guitar too. (I finally retired mine, but I loved that thing.) Ab.

1/27 Socal Cap & KCP

Regarding what is too low!

During the Cedar Fire IA, on the morning of the first day, I watched 3 CDF S2s make successive drops on the W flank of Mt. Gower in Ramona. They were all “nap of the earth” and below the top of the ridge they were dropping on. Wind was terrible; they seemed to be trying to protect an Equestrian Center until the horses were evacuated.

Still can tell the chaparral they got the goo on from the newer stuff. Most of it broke up and drifted away though.

I was not more than mile from, and looking parallel to, the drop line and at an elevation about 100 feet below the line they were trying to lay; my neighbors and I were wondering why they were even trying. The horses did get evacuated; the center did suffer some, but not too much, damage.

My respect to those pilots. They should not have been flying but they were there trying to “do what they do”. Protect life and property. Not a FF, however have read much about the “rules” of Air Ops”.

This also ties with the thread of the Firestorm series; sometimes you make a personal decision to “bend” the rules because you have “Situational Awareness”. I know I have; and I agree that sometimes one has to, or can, bend rules safely because you are SA of the conditions and the “why” of the rules thus allowing you to bend them to do a job better and more effectively. If you don't know the what and why of the rules; FOLLOW THEM.

Was call brush FF for a short time, long ago; but worked with hazardous materials for many years.


Welcome RJM. Ab.

1/27 Hi Ab,

I want to inform your readers of a experience I had this summer and ask for thoughts and opinions.

This isn't exactly fire related; it concerns incident aviation SafeComs.

At Rocky Mountain National Park a very large search and rescue happened last summer. At its peak, this SAR was using hundreds of people and dog teams and a helibase with 5 helicopters. The incident was being managed by a NPS Type 2 All-Risk team. I was working on the helibase as a HECM. We had many, many, MANY safety violations. I know that at least 10 SafeComs were submitted. However, only 2 SafeComs have been posted on the SafeCom site (05-0596, 05-0614).

I have been HECM qualified (and worked on helibases and as HECM on crews while on fires yearly) since 1998. The days I spent on this helibase were the scariest I have ever experienced - I think it is luck and only luck that kept us from killing a searcher. I daily considered whether or not I should continue working on the helibase and did request a new position in the search after 4 days.

The fact that the other 8 (9?) SafeComs have not been posted is extremely disturbing to me. This situation appears to be very political and goes against everything I have ever learned (and taught others) about SafeComs. Are these SafeComs being censored? Are SafeNets censored too?

Does anyone know anything about this? Has anyone ever experienced something similar? I feel powerless - I know the AOBD and the Helibase Manager have also been trying to find out what is going on with the other SafeComs, to no avail.

In my opinion, politics overcoming safety is wrong.

1/26 A wise fire person told me that predictions are for fools (that is predictions of fire
seasons). It is what it is!

"Bueno Suerte"

Undoubtedly it will be what it will be, but I think the conditions in the SW are set up for a very active season there. Kibby said no rains for the last 100 days. Maybe no rains until the monsoon? Could be a year like 1996 in the SW . If so, could be exciting. Be safe! Ab.

1/26 S2 drop:

I know all personnel were out of there because I was the one to make sure of it. As for the drop, I did forget to mention that there was a considerable amount of old punky snags burning and had requested a few low drops, you know aerial tree falling. One thing about the show is a least they have shown interest in our profession.

Socal Cap
P.S. What type of plane do you fly?

1/26 COMT

Sounds like a good experience. My closest to "Always" was Seiad Valley in
1987. Community really took care of us. Camp was there for a long time.

Things I saw:

Large screen television brought in to watch the baseball playoffs.

JiffyPop available to crews to cook over the camp salamanders at night.

There was a townhall dance/band one evening.

R&R was arranged to go to Medford, but IC allowed the crews that wanted
to stay in place and just relax for two days. Locals provided free "guide"
service for salmon fishing......I remember a type 2 crew from Tennessee
member caught a 20 pound salmon. He said it was the experience of a
lifetime for him. Another local traded him a smoked salmon for his fresh
caught, so there was a special treat at dinner that night.

Never did catch up with Holly Hunter though....

Old Fire Guy

1/26 Hey Ken re 52x2 run-

If you're setting up a team I volunteer to be the GIS Specialist (GISS) in your plans unit

Give me your route and enough time and I'll try and give you a movie flythrough of the
course... We can also make some maps for WFF promotions, publicity stuff to send to
any media, whatever you deem fun.

Let me know- ab has my e-mail and such.

1/26 Anyone have any predictions on the '06 fire season?
How are the snow packs out there?



Hi there,

I was interested in learning more about the Smokejumpers here in Central
Oregon. I saw on the "They Said" portion of your website a Redmond,
Oregon smokejumper by the name of Gary Atteberry, is there any way to
get in touch with him? I have many questions about being a smokejumper
and would like to know more. Thank you for your help and have a great


There's a smokejumpers' forum here: www.smokejumpers.com/ You can always find that link on our links page.
Here's some info on what smokejumpers do and a sj base contact list: www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/smokejumpers/index.phpl
Now don't you go botherin' Gary. (gosh, the unexpected effects of stardom!) Ab.

1/26 52x2 run:

By the way.....the t-shirt post reminded me.

I thought a neat way to raise a few extra bucks for the run would be to sell advertising on my shirt. If any hotshot, helitack, etc crews out there want...send me a patch, and I will sew it on my shirt for the run. This shirt currently is on the wall in Boise at the WFF and will be returned there after this event.

Right now, There's a Fulton HS and generic Smokejumper patch. Texas Canyon and Bear Divide will get a spot (fee waived for running with me last year).

If anyone is interested, I thought a flat rate of $20.00 would be cool, huh? I'm a pretty little guy so space is limited. Although there will be two shirts (night and day).

If you folks think this is a good idea, I will give my home address to Ab.

Later, KCP

Little guy?... big heart. Take care of that knee. Ab.

1/26 Ab,

The t-shirt collection is just about complete; only lacking two shirts from having all of them that are currently in the system  along with some real treasures. Still missing Mt. Taylor and Vandenberg.

Anyway I wanted you to know that the book of stories connected with the shirts is coming along. I try and write in it every week and Mellie is going to help... Hopefully to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Someone asked me the other day what I was going to do when I had all the shirts collected. Well I found quite a few older shirts, so I guess I will try and find them... with stories...

There are 133 in the collection currently displayed on the wall at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. That's amazing!!!! I would also like to invite everyone who gets to Boise to check them out at the foundation. They have been quite a hit according to Vicki.


List of shirts still needed:

Current shirts:

Mt. Taylor

Older shirts:

Bitterroot I.R.
Flathead I.R.
Coeur D’ Alene
Lolo I.R.
Slate Creek
Gibhorn I.R.
Pike I.R.
Gila I.R.
Sawtooth I.R.
Deshutes I.R.
Wallow-Whitman I.R.
Oak Grove

Here's the page of shirts Rowdy has with the people who gave them to him... and links to 2 photos of the wall. Seeing is believing and it's even more awesome to be there exercising all the senses. Ab.

1/26 Well another great Firestorm show again.

Wish they would show more equipment on the line and less close ups of the flames and sparks. The camera man and cutting room is sure doing its best to make it look like the people and trucks are in those flames! Funny how a camera can zoom into a hot spot and make it look like it is all around you. You see some crews totally dressed for fires and some not. Like they are two different groups on the same fire? Still seems to be a lot of safety issues in PPE but this film is designed for drama and action shots.

Looking forward to the next one but most of all it is getting me pumped up for the 2006 fire season! I wish our snow would melt faster and summer was here!

Region 6

1/26 So Cal Capt.

A. The forward speed of the retardant is what I was looking at. Retardant should be dropped at a height that allows it to stop its forward motion and fall like rain, just before it hits the vegetation. Usually 150 ft. or so (airpeed, wind speed etc. have an effect, but extremely minor). Thickness of the fuels doesn't have anything to do with it. In fact a low drop in heavier fuels causes shadowing of the retardant, thus making it less effective. Heavier fuels require a higher coverage level, not a lower drop.

B. How do we know that all of the personnel were clear?

C. My comment was just a tad sarcastic. I am an aerial firefighter, and I have requested drops lower than normal, for various reasons. My point was that if you're not familiar with what you are looking at, you notice little things that others might not. Don't you think police officers watching "COPS" see safety infractions all the time on that show? I imagine that many think that show is not showing what it is "truly" like out on the streets.

Peace, KCP
1/26 We just got this: A good new addition to the pandemicflu.gov site on what faith based and community groups can do to prepare for the pandemic. Share it with groups in your communities. Check it out via our link on our bird flu watchout page. Ab.
1/26 RE: Into the Firestorm:

Just a quick note on the low drop by the S-2.

Two factors:

  • First, the shot was taken with a telephoto lens and looks a lot
    lower than it really is... low yes but:
  • ALL fire personnel were out of the drop zone while the aircraft
    applied the retardant and because of the canopy closure the
    planes have to get lower for effective penetration.

Remember 10s&18s & LCES...

Socal Cap

1/26 Ab,

Haw, Haw! To your response to my chagrin at SoOps Intel being asleep at the wheel!

Trust me, when I got home and realized there was a fire in Plunge Creek, the Hot List
was the first place I went. I know News & Notes is not going to be on top of anything!

That is the problem, and why I keep bringing it up. Sad isn't it.

Still Waiting

Just call this community "reliable" for coming up with intel. Ab.

1/26 RE: Into the Firestorm

Quite an amusing portrait of wildland firefighting....
The air guitar dude on Prineville was sure cool. Speaking of Prineville-
Good critique about tree falling- it is important to not drop trees on your fellow firefighters.
And I hope the burn heals up on that other guy.
You guys need to remember to whistle whenever you carry your handtools on your shoulders!
At least then when you fall on your handtools you will do so cheerfully.
One or two instances of these things might not matter, but when taken in its entirety, maybe it's time for
Prineville to take a long look into its soul. "Cool" only matters to mindless spectators -it has no place on the fireline. I know -this stuff happens to us all, no need to expect different.
Neither should we expect anything to change in the death and injury stats which heap ever more
liability and checklists on those of us who manage this mess.
I don't need to hear any sniveling about the "twisted media", I have been around the block enough to realize what was sensational hallucination and what was crew attitude during this exclusive TV extravaganza.
By next summer, maybe Prineville's standards will match our expectations of what a Type 1 Crew is supposed to be. I sure hope so.
Until then thanks for the entertainment.
To the jumpers- Howie Long would be proud.
PS-Where do I get one of those green hard hats?

Old, Pissed Off Warthog

(chuckle) Warthog, if yer serious about the green Bullard, Supply Cache has them. Click the sponsor banner at the top of the page. Ab.

1/26 Ab, there is the following fire engine photo on Engines 11 photo page of wildlandfire.com (bottom left):

CDF Powerwagon: 1957 CDF Dodge Power Wagon restored by myself. Photo compliments of Doug Kunst.

I would like to contact the owner. I am looking for a CDF 1950's era Dodge Power Wagon to replica in a scale model.


Art Deyo

Anyone know how to reach Doug? Ab.

1/25 Well, it's just over 4 months to go till the next ultra-run. Anyone know of someone that has a right knee they could spare me until June 4th? Having a little issue right now, and waiting on my insurance co. to approve the use of Supartz (a synovial fluid replacement.....made from rooster combs....probably made in China....and they've killed all their chickens...maybe why it's so expensive.???) So, I've been limiting my mileage and sticking to trails, as much as possible.

I'm not sure when Melissa and Vicki want to start to "advertise" this officially. But it wouldn't hurt to start getting the word out now before fire season starts....Oh wait, it already has. That's right. Tony Duprey will be the "ref" again. Haven't picked the exact route yet, although the second half will be from Fox to Santa Clarita again. Slightly different route, from there, this time. Total mileage will be 104.8 miles. The "point eight" is for "me" so that it is 4 consecutive marathons.

I'll be looking for a medic type (EMT or paramedic) to hang with the support team especially for the night portion, as we will be in the middle of nowhere.

Still tring to figure out who/how many runners (teams, etc) may want to run so we can figure out the logistics. A crew relay race from Fox to Santa Clarita on the 3rd was discussed. It would be nice to know if we can make that happen, so we can interface with LACO Sheriff's office, etc. And, if enough folks want to try to do something like that, it would be a good idea to set up a little ICS structure of people that can plan and execute it.....Quite frankly so I don't have to worry about it. Although I would certainly help.

Anyway, I hope we can make this event at least as successful as the last one. If not doubley so. Let's start getting the word out now, so we can reach as many people as we can.

MELLIE: I've been reading a few posts Re: cancer, etc. There has been some research done lately as to higher than average cancer rates among endurance athletes....Which of course wildland firefighters are. Anyway, I tried to get some links for it at lunch today, but was "Dyna-Blocked". Seems that because of the massive amounts of O2 processed by these individuals, they produce higher levels of Free Radicals in their systems......Sounds like a good project for you. More free radicals+smoke and all the other crap that firefighters deal with?????? Anyway, I've made sure that I'm getting a higher level of anti-oxidants in my diet.

About jumping and hazard pay. The reason that rookie smokejumpers were given an automatic GS-5 and second year jumpers a 6 was a deal they made years ago, as I understand it, so that they would not have to pay hazard for jumps. Kind of like L.E's getting a factored in H-pay. Although, I guess now the 5 and 6 are no longer automatic. I can tell you that when we made test jumps, we were paid hazard due to the use of non-standard equipment (canopies, harnesses, etc.)

And finally....That S-2 drop was wayyyy tooooo low last night on "firestorm". See how you can pick out safety issues if you know what you are looking at? How many of you noticed that?

Again, let's get the word out, and do some more good. Ab, I hope we can work together again during the run.

Later, KCP

Of course we'll work together. Wouldn't miss the fun. OA, Vicki and Melissa have had their heads together on various projects for the last few days. I don't doubt this one has been discussed at least in passing. Ab.

1/25 Ab,

This recommendation came from the South Canyon Fire investigation report:

"Attitudes and leadership are universal factors that influence safe fire suppression. The Interagency Management Review Team should explore actions that will strengthen sensitivity to basic safety standards so they permeate every fiber of our strategy, tactics, and basic fire operations."

Perhaps we're getting close to reaching that goal. Certainly there is a "sensitivity to basic safety standards" that was not evident a decade ago. Not every fiber is permeated yet, but enough to cause the firestorm over the Firestorm program.

vfd cap'n

ps, I've missed both episodes because of station meetings, but my father has been impressed by the gritty portrayal of life on the fireline.

1/25 Hi Ab,

First thanks to all of you for what you do.

"Into the Firestorm" finally had it's debut up in Western Washington in the Pacific Northwest and I viewed the first show last night. After reading all the previous posts about line gear and rolled up sleeves, I was eager to view what the media had to say about wildfire and firefighters.

I'd have to say that I found all the earlier posts to be out of balance with the entire first segment. I don't deny that the footage used was unfortunate, but when I viewed all the additional footage and dialogue devoted to safety in sizing up a fire, and insuring tactical objectives do not compromise fire fighter safety, I 'd be inclined to believe that our profession received better than average media treatment.

I especially want to thank the Redmond Jumpers, and Hotshots for doing an admirable job representing our profession to the media. I've had plenty of opportunities to work with both groups many times as a member of one of Washington's Interagency Incident Management Teams here in Washington and down in Oregon, and they never disappoint. Keep up the good work, and I for one don't think two seconds of rolled up sleeves equals forty minutes of excellent and safe firefighting!

1/25 I want to get into wildland fire fighting/smoke jumping. Right now I am in collage but I dont know what for yet. I go to Northern Michigan University in Marquette MI. Is it good to have some sort of degree? I think it would be really existing to do with my life. My name is shawn gray and i was just wondering how to get started.

Shawn Gary
email- sgray@ nmu.edu
1/25 "Always" the movie:

I was jumping out of MSO when the movie was made. They actually paid the FS for some practice jumps on the Koonai during a control burn to simulate a fire jump but none of the footage ever made it to the screen. I'm older than most, not as old as some, but I can remember the days (35+ years ago) when carrying a flask on the line was common, as was beer in the fire camps, and driving govt vehicles to the bars when on project assignment. The Alaska fire service used to provide shuttle service to the various entertainment centers in downtown FBX. I don't suppose they still do that?

Joe Hill

1/25 IAWF Board member Tony Blanks from Tasmania posted this on "Firenet":

For Australian FireNetters who may be interested, the following info is shamelessly copied from a bulletin produced by the Australasian Fire Authorities Council For those in North America, multiply the areas given in hectares by 2.5 to get the area in acres.

Overview of fire situation
Victoria and South Australia.
Wednesday 25 January 2006

The fire situation in South East Australia is heavily taxing the resources of State fire agencies. In addition, severe fire weather has been forecast for the new few days. Consequently, support resources have been requested by Victoria and South Australia.

Fire Situation Overview


South Australian firefighters are still working on the Ngarkat Fire (North Eastern) and Kangaroo Island fire. However, both are in a contained state. There are no going fires at present. However, the state has a blanket of smoke in many areas resulting mainly from the fires in Victoria.


Around 1,000 CFA and DSE personnel are managing a large number of fires at present. The main fires being:

In the Grampians (western Victoria) where the 105,000 ha fire is threatening 6 townships.

Near Anakie (between Geelong and Ballarat) which burnt 7,000 ha and closed the Geelong-Ballan Road.

Moondara fires where 132,000 ha have been burnt near Erica. The risk continues under today's NE winds, particularly for pine plantations north of Yallourn North.


The tropical cyclone over the Tiwi Islands brought favourable conditions to southern Western Australia. Approximately 2-3mm of rainfall fell overnight on their major fire near Dwellingup. This aided the fire suppression. Now the focus is on consolidation via tracking and mopping up.

Firefighter Resource Movements


(i) Aircraft
Under the NSFC arrangements, the Sydney based Bell 214B, operated by McDermott Aviation has been deployed to South Australia for a period up to Friday, 27th January.

(ii) Firefighters
Strike teams are travelling from NSW Rural Fire Services to provide support. The contingent consists of 9 light and 10 heavy units with 98 firefighters.

There is a possibility that these NSW resources may be further redeployed to Victoria should South Australia be able to improve its fire risk and should Victoria's situation worsen.

Both NSW and Qld have provided air attack supervisors to SA to assist with their operations.


(i) Aircraft
The Sydney based Skycrane operated by Sydney Helicopter Service has been moved under NAFC arrangements from NSW to Victoria. It is expected to stay at least until Friday, 27th January.

(ii) Firefighters
A contingent of NSW firefighters is currently in or in transit to Melbourne. This NSW contingent comprises 140 firefighters from Rural Fire Service, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Forests NSW. They will have with them 10 heavy and 9 light tankers. At this stage the firefighters will be deployed to the Grampians and Mondarra fires.

NSW is also forming another contingent of 100 personnel for deployment to Victoria later today.

Tasmania is considering a request for the formation of 50 firefighters to be deployed to Victoria.


Tony B
Hobart, Tasmania

sent in by Dick Mangan
1/25 Want to catch a glimpse of Original Ab - any of you folks in Boise?

Better rush right out to the WFF, or swing by the monument or the wildland firefighter statue at the Boise Airport. He's been helping out at the Foundation over the last few days while enjoying the warm, sunny balmy weather (tongue firmly in cheek, brrrrr)... If you see him, give him a yah'hoo; bet it would surprise the pants off him. This message will self-destruct in about two hours! (hawhaw)

Ab. (while the Original Ab-ster's away, the other Ab will play!)

1/25 Had to comment on the Always Movie. I think in '84 I was on a fire in Eastern Montana, near St. Marys.

Anyway Spielberg was already working on Always and sent a crew up to get some background footage of retardant. The day they arrived it was over and snowed that night. Lots of FS folks in nomex went to the bar in St. Marys (east entrance to Glacier NP) and we closed down the bar. Lots of Government vehicles in the parking lot to take us the 1 mile back to camp (safety issue/ grizzly bears??). I remember shots of peppermint schnapps with beer chasers with a couple of jumpers.

The Always crew was at the bar and I recall them being somewhat obnoxious. So I think they got the wrong Idea. So there was music and dancing and drunk people in Nomex. Ah the bad old days!

I also was in the discovery movie Wildfire (my 5 minutes) for the prescribed fire portion. The production crew was all from the UK and they were drinking Miller GD at lunch. They told me they left the excess in the creek (for us). I went back a year later and it was still there (and could still be). My how things have changed.

Recently retired Z
1/25 Into the Firestorm on the Discovery Channel

I think we need to look at the positive aspects of this program. I've worked on fires for many years as a smokechaser, helitak, and as a jumper. I now work as an information person. I've been involved with many different fire projects such as escorting film crews to fires, working as a consultant/editor with authors, and as a technical advisor on a couple of major feature films. Let me say this. It's all for public viewing and entertainment.

Also, no author, director/screenwriter gets it right or perfect. Ask anyone in any given profession that have had their work portrayed in a feature film, book or documentary, what they think about the finished product. The majority of professionals will scoff at what they've seen and that's just human nature. We're all very serious about what we do regardless of our jobs. We all want to be portrayed as honestly as we can and it's normal for us to criticize those people who put in thousands of hours of hard work and effort trying and believing they are doing us justice. Well maybe these media folks don't get it just right. Maybe we and the millions of viewers including our elected Senators and Representatives (think budgets here) are looking through a very brief window into what exactly it is we professionals are trying to accomplish. Newspaper reporters rarely get the story straight either, but the next day their story is on the bottom of the birdcage.

What we are experiencing now with these various media is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Three years ago I had a very pushy fellow from CNN tell me he was going to become embedded with smokejumpers for an entire summer. He also told me he had skydiving experience and his plan was to jump into fires so he could report on these jumper fires "Live" to the American public. I explained our policies and hopefully educated this wayward guy in what exactly he could or could not do. He still didn't budge and indicated that he had been in Iraq and embedded with various military units with, "hot lead flying everywhere." Much to his dismay, I told him it wasn't going to happen. We professionals, working as public servants need to help these media folks and educate them as best as we can. Just because they have agendas doesn't mean they're headed in the right direction.

As for the safety aspects of "Into the Firestorm." I always had my gloves, fireshelter, hardhat, and Nomex with me, but I couldn't always wear it all at the same time. Certain things can get in the way of work.

Have a safe and great 2006.


I enjoyed the show last night. Had no interest in rewinding and throwing it in slow'mo' to see who was wearing what, when. Ab.

1/25 I just wanted to say props to the men and women of Prineville and Redmond. I had a great time working with many of you over the past summer. I wish the yahoos that have all this time to rip on these guys could put as much heart into going to congress to figure out a stable budget, maybe even voice their opinions to the right people who might give us more funding to train and bring up the organization to a higher level. It seems that so many people are around to voice their opinion on what we did wrong but, those same people aren't around to do the real work.


1/25 So, there is a ~500 acre fire on the Berdoo, yet the SoOps Intel site says
nothing about it. Well, it has not been updated for almost 2 weeks, so
I guess that makes sense... ?!?!?

Oh, and the links to the team's sites don't work either.

I will keep harping on this till someone down there wakes up!

Still Waiting

Well, don't wait too long. It's likely on a RipVanWinkle timeframe. You can always check the Hot List Forum on this site under FireNews. Lot'sa action there! And the team lists that are available via our FireLinks page under fed'ral. Ab.

1/25 From Firescribe, one of them:

Firefighter Charged With Arson in Nevada

Got this from a firefighter friend who asked what might be done ahead of time to help:

... this family of firefighters... we need to stick together and start helping the
people that are about over the edge. I don’t know if talking to people thinking
this way would help, but could it? I'm having a hard time with this.

I want to know, if we can identify people who might be prone to arson, could we help
them avoid that behavior?


1/24 Greetings all,

I am just getting to see the second episode of Firestorm, I did recognize the helo that long lined supplies into the shots as dropping water for us here in east Texas. Small world ain't it!

Got word today that several resources are demob'ing since we got a good rain over the weekend, I, for one, appreciate all the help that we have gotten from everyone.

Ken Hancock, the Volunteer Firefighter that was struck by a train responding to a wildfire was released from the hospital on the 9th of Jan. He has started rehab therapy and is starting to walk around a bit, he's a very lucky man.

Thanks to Vicki Minor and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for all of their help and encouragement to the Hancock family.

Stay safe all,


1/24 Into the Firestorm is on the Discovery Channel at 2200.
1/24 The closest to Always I have experienced was the Hayman Fire, CO, Castle Rock ICP. It was near Denver and there was a lot of support from the community.

Food; The Red Cross was cooking good stuff, and homemade goodies were coming in and everyone was eating there. The IC had declared that firefighters had to eat at the Contract Kitchen at the Morning briefing. Bad day to make that declaration, as Texas Roadhouse brought out their barbecue pits and set upwind of the ICP, needless to say the Team did not put out a good example that day.

Massage; There were 3 chiropractors that came in and treatment was free. There were also three Lady's in shorts and tank tops with massage tables that had the guys lined up, I passed as I did not want to pitch a tent in front of the crowd.

Shopping; The Red Cross had all kinds of donated stuff they were handing out, personal care, clothes, undies, you name it. Personally I would have weighed crews leaving to check if they had 50 lbs of pack with them, it was looking bad with all the stuff some crews took away.

Alcohol; There was one grateful elderly home owner that drove thru Camp in a big Mercedes handing out cold beer until someone told them they could not do that. (I missed that one).

Tunes; Sad to say that with ICP at the Fairgrounds, we cancelled a few big name concerts that were going to happen there. But sometimes someone has a guitar or a character with a banjo.

There are some times when you can't believe they pay you to do Fire sometimes, then other times you wonder what in the heck you were thinking. I feel for the first time firefighter that got to experience it and be disappointed at the next fire.

1/24 echo mt:

Quick response to the question that was posted as to the risk analysis and the option to jump the fire. The day prior to the fire jump: a local crew started to hike in, during which time it was determined to be a greater task than originally planned. For reasons unknown to me, they turned around. That evening it was determined that the fire (30'X30' tops and human caused) would be staffed in the AM using jumpers. We received the request the night before that we would be going. The coordinates were relayed to the film team, and the x-jumper accompanying the group. That is how they got into the fire in time to film. Lots of footage from several angles, and several other fires that were all put together for entertainment (i was followed for a month and a half; on and off the clock). I will not go any further for now, except that I can't believe the free time that people have to critique us.

I hope everyone can watch the next 4 episodes for there pleasure and if not, I suggest that you read a good book. Enjoy them, because I will be greatly surprised if any fire crew will ever let a film crew shoot footage again.


I, for one, hope that's not the case. Ab.

1/24 The Risk Management question is a good one.

It is a statistical fact that flying to and from a fire is actually safer than driving. Parachuting is considered so safe the Smokejumpers are not entitled to Hazard Pay for their jumps, no glamour there. If the agency practiced true statically based risk management every fire would be jumped. It's a statistically safer means of delivering firefighters to a fire.


1/24 So, if "Into the Firestorm" has been sufficiently critiqued....let's
lighten the discussion.
Reference: "Always" with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, John Goodman,
Audrey Hepburn (my personal favorite firefighting film).

Question: What is the closest you have been to a fire camp experience as
portrayed in the film? Live band, fried chicken, cold beer, and grubby

Winning story earns a chorus of "Buuullllllllllsh*****" from the rest of

Old Fire Guy

Air guitar. Ab.

1/24 G'day Ab

OB rang and asked if I could chase up where to send condolences for Captain Trevor Day as I'm a long term firey in the same organisation as Trevor (CFA). Unfortunately I was unable to determine whether his brigade has email (they certainly don't have a webpage) and currently his Region (the administrative headquarters) is busy with controlling the major fires in the area as well as the tragedy of this accident.

Consequently I have set up a thread in the International Firefighters' Day (IFFD) forum where people can leave their condolence messages for his friends and family which I will ensure are sent through to the relevant people. The link is: www.iffd.net/iffdforum/viewtopic.php?t=48

You may also wish to check out the IFFD website www.iffd.net and possibly put a link to it on your site (that OB has so kindly directed me to). (IFFD was initially begun due to tragic loss of 5 firefighters at a wildfire in 1998).

Thanks for setting up a great website - I look forward to exploring it.


Thanks, JJ. Ab.


r> SAD, SAD, SAD...


Check this link, or if it doesn't work just go to the main site and follow your nose.

1/24 If the film crew hiked into the Echo Mountain fire, and was able to get there... as the video shows , as the jumpers were performing operations... why was it jumped? Was this a risk management process or glamour for the boys? Sign me, Curious
1/23 Just like the other guys and girls that I work with, I stay away from these kinds of discussions. However after having received a call from my buddy on Prineville I thought I should check it out. What I have found is sad, This is a chat-room full of angry people.......News-flash you were not there with us, you don't know how safe we are, so stop criticizing us. The guys from Original Productions shot hundreds of hours of footage, some is real and some is exaggerated. It was cut so that people would want to talk about and watch it, it obviously worked.

Gary and RR make good points and having worked with them for the last 5 years I can tell you that they are safe and very competent jumpers. I would love to write more, but I think they did a good job expressing my feelings and concerns in fire. Plus if I keep going it may turn into personal attacks at some of the stupid things people have written.

To the person wanting to know how they made it to the echo mountain fire.....The film crew hired an ex-jumper to help them navigate through the woods and keep them safe on the fire line. It was good timing and allot of running through the woods.

Watch the show and take it for what it is A SHOW! and please stop wearing your leather gloves clipped to your belt loop in the bar.


1/23 Thanks, A Firefighter.
I don't have a beef with what was or wasn't done in the "Into the Firestorm" piece. Filmmakers are notorious for splicing film out of order to entertain and to send the message they want to send in an artistic way. I thought the message overall was good: crew cohesion, crew watching out, overhead attentiveness, overhead corrections, lookouts, briefings, etc. as well as good humor, virtuous air guitar, hard work in beautiful country. The filmmakers had real insight.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow night's show. I think this series is a very good thing. I am willing to participate in such a show. If I did, the things to be discussed would probably be similar to what is being discussed this time around.

Just Another Firefighter,
I was not implying that the "Into the Firestorm" series should be a training film. I wasn't even suggesting that it was perfectly realistic in every detail. The flavor was realistic. I appreciate Gary's and RR's clarifications. What they said was what I thought likely about how it happened and what got focused on. I just felt that Squib was a bit strong on the 'I don't do this and I don't do that'. I was trying to keep the discussion about 'the what, not the who' so I didn't mention his name in that context. Sorry if I was unclear. Overall I don't think anyone needs defending (or vilifying (sp?)).

I have my tivo set to record for tomorrow... fire and bird flu

NorCal Tom

1/23 NorCalTom...I don’t imagine that the hotshots or the jumpers had the intention of providing a training film, looks to me they were just filmed doing their jobs. Seems to me that how younger firefighters interpret that depends on the quality of the training they are receiving at home. If you have young firefighters to "mold" as you call it don’t rely on a TV program to do it.

By the way I have never seen a FS/BLM/DFWL unit that could take that kind of scrutiny unscathed. Anyone who currently does know of one let me know I'm ready for a transfer.

Just Another Firefighter
1/23 Thanks NorCal Tom!

Your insight is refreshing. I know of a film crew interested in following around some firefighters next summer. They are very good at capturing your every move and manipulating it for entertainment purposes. Tom if, by chance, you are in charge of an overhead team in Northern California that's even better. The entire fire community can spend all next winter critiquing several episodes of the actions of every firefighter under your command from the cozy comforts of our living room recliners (rolled-up shirt sleeves and all) and holding you and everyone under you on your team accountable. Note: The Hot Shot crew was working for a OH team. NorCal Tom, come out of the shadows and step up to the plate like the Hotshots and Jumpers so we can introduce you to a couple of film crews. If you're all about what you say your about that is great. Lets see you, or anyone one else for that matter, in action on film as a role model for others, that's leadership.

A Firefigher
1/23 Oz LODD

I acknowledge it's the northern winter and the quiet time up there allowing for
introspection, however things are still happening in the rest of the world..

Firefighters mourn their loss


Our condolences OB. No man is an island. The world is small. Please give our best to friends and family of Trevor Day if you have the opportunity. Do you have an address where we can send our condolences? Ab.

1/23 Squib,

OK I see your point, but let's keep this in perspective. Experience plays into common sense decision-making and into depth of situational awareness. You may have it, others who are younger, don't.

What about the new firefighters, say 18-22 year olds, who are without much fire experience and haven't had the "licks" that show them they're not invincible? They don't yet have those "watchout" common-sense slides in the mental slide tray. Say they don't wear their gloves or they don't roll down their sleeves when they logically should.

Some do push the limits their squaddies and supts set. It gets old fast when you have to ride herd on those who don't have the experience to ride herd on themselves. That's why the culture of safety is critical and should be modeled from the top down. As "old Alvord" once said, parents usually don't let kids play in the street on their own until they've done it for some time under the watchful eye and common sense of an older brother or sister. The experienced ones model and explain to the younger. If they violate a logical safety standard, they explain why.

So I'll add to what you said. You need to be aware of the message you send when you don't wear a shelter or other PPE. It may be common sense and safe to you. To the inexperienced and without your explanation, it may not be the same message.

NorCal Tom

1/23 RE: Discovery Series
Fellow Wildland Fire Fighters!

I routinely work on an overhead team during the summer months. I deliberately don’t carry my fire-shelter on me while sitting, or traveling in a vehicle on wildfires… It rides in the back of my truck, or exterior side compartment. There is no waiver that I know of excusing myself, or any other firefighter from having to wear a fire-shelter while sitting, or traveling in a vehicle on an uncontrolled fire. I guess I’m in VIOLATION of a PPE rule, as is the rest of my team- the same goes for all my engine cohorts. I can, and will, argue that my shelter in the back of my vehicle is readily available and close at hand, and always is. The same ought to be said for the Hotshots and Jumper’s when they had their shelters positioned next to them on the ground. People in vehicles should not have the luxury of being excused from carrying a fire-shelter at all times just because they have a vehicle that “carries” their fire-shelter for them. A vehicle is not a fire-shelter or approved safety zone and it’s loaded with flammable fuel. Where’s the common sense? That’s my point. We need more of it. So the jumpers took-off their packs containing fire shelters and positioned them on the ground next to them, took off their gloves, rolled-up their sleeves and got to work mopping-up a very small piece of burnt earth using their tools and bare hands. It looked to me like they had solid black- the safest place to be, a safety zone.

How about this: A firefighter traveling inside and around a wildfire, seat belted to the inside a vehicle containing 30+gallons of gasoline, and perhaps some cans of gas and diesel fuel in the back, no gloves on, and no hardhat on, and not wearing a fire-shelter. Wow! It sounds pretty bad doesn’t it? Technically that person is on a wildfire not wearing PPE. Rules are absolutes. Bending/Breaking rules on fires, we never do that!!! No doubt the overhead in the vehicle would be misinterpreted as one of those “rogue” firefighters you hear about. Think about it..

Good thing that TV crew wasn’t following me around capturing every moment for all the fire community to critique. My every day actions could easily be taken out of context… For example, I routinely work without gloved hands. The gloves are on, and then they’re off, and then back on. I set them aside for extended periods of time to operate my portable radio, feel in the blackened ash for heat, and handle my flammable paperwork. I roll-up my sleeves just enough to prevent chaffing from the dust/sleeve combination while feeling my way through the cold ash on small spots outside the line. I occasionally undo the top two, three or more buttons on my fire shirt on hot days... What a rogue I am.. The air conditioning in the vehicle never works and we all know how hot and dusty it can get on those fires- particularly when leaning over a scolding hot truck hood, reviewing plans, or reading a map. I regularly find myself inadvertently rolling back my sleeves in reaction to the stifling heat.... I deliberately wear an old style fire shirt that I don’t keep totally clean (canary yellow). Otherwise, people might think I haven’t been working, or look seasoned enough to be leading others…

Lets get away from the myopic, hypersensitive application of the ever conflicting rule based system and avoid the hypocrisy we continue mire our fire program in. It does nothing to improve safety. Lets bring about true change thru positive open dialog and support one another. The Discovery series will help. Support the folks participating in the show. They’re doing a difficult job in a dynamic environment and should be commended for stepping up to the plate.

25+ Years working hard on the fireline.
1/23 Firefighters,

Oprah Winfrey is going to have Dr. Michael Osterholm (sp?) on her show tomorrow talking about the coming bird flu pandemic. Today my daughter (east coast) told me her topic was terrorism. At the end of today's show, she set things up for tomorrow. She said:

"I URGE you to watch tomorrow's show and prepare to
have your eyes opened
in a HUGE way. It may be one
of the most important shows we've ever done."

I can't watch it until I get home tomorrow, but I'm set up to tape it. I hope everyone who can watch it will watch. If you firefighters don't want to watch Oprah, get your Significant Other to watch and ask her/him some questions afterwards. I need to order my N-95 masks tonight, before the run on them.

Hotshot's mom

1/23 Re: going to the Southern Area

I know Arizona State resources cant go out due to $$$$$$$$$$. The State doesn't have enough money to pay the departments and wait to get reimbursed from the southern states or Feds. There are plenty willing to go, like myself. Engines, STEL, etc. Federal resources can go, but Arizona State resources (all fire departments) cannot. Kind of a depressing situation, and one we hopefully can get changed.

1/23 Can we stop talking about such minute issues as rolled up sleeves and
smelly hot shots and discuss a real safety concern? Three firefighters were
entrapped this past summer and deployed fire shelters. Check out the
I90 report.


stil jumpn'
1/23 Misery Whip:

I think it is an unfortunate circumstance for wildland firefighters that duty calls for more than what the job description says. It might be the bird flu, a terrorist attack, or the next big California quake. Fairly or unfairly - with or without proper training or equipment - "green pants" are expected to respond.

BSEL wrote this fallacy in a 1/21 post:

"It is a well-known fact that the number of fireline fatalities has exponentially increased since its introduction."

Actually, Jim Cook has documented the opposite trend. Wildland firefighter entrapment fatalities have seen a continued, steady decline since the introduction and widespread use of fire shelters. The full paper is at http://www.coloradofirecamp.com/usfs_doctrine/entrapment-fatality-trends.php

vfd cap'n
1/23 Ab & All,

I just got back from an assignment in Oklahoma, and we had a heck of a time ordering resources, especially overhead. Although Oklahoma is ordering resources from the Southern State Compact first (13 southern state agreement to send state resources), even when went to ROSS, we had trouble filling orders. I am assuming Texas is in the same situation. I know this is a downtime for many of us, and think that is why there aren’t more people in ROSS. So…..if you are interested in going out, please make yourselves available in ROSS!

Take care,

Information Diva
1/23 Regarding Into the Firestorm...

I had a question for the Redmond jumpers about something that has been
bothering me since I saw the show: How did the camera crew get to the
Echo Mountain fire?

Cheers on this fine Monday morning....

Young and Dumb in Region One
1/22 I've had the benefit of working with and learning from the boys and girls from Redmond for many, many years while rx burning and fighting fire in the SE. Situational awareness and safety is what they are ALL about. The documentary, as Gary and RR said, didn't capture the real story and all the training, all the briefings, all the experience and background they take with them everytime they hit a fire. Newbies would benefit from working side by side with the men and women from both prineville and redmond.

They sure taught me well -

1/21 Abs, All--

I would first like to tender my apologies for any inflammatory comments I made earlier. I was angered and frustrated, and didnt really think before I hit the send button.

What it is that angers and frustrates me is that we, as hotshots, finally got equal billing with the Jumpers, our day in the sun as it were, and all that people could think to do was rip on us and assume that we just willfully break regulations willy nilly without any forethought or reasons why. The engine folks, and there are many good ones, bore the brunt of my wrath because on our district they are the ones that fuel these kinds of jibes and try to do anything they can to cripple our program, that they might get more assignments and we, fewer.

Engines are big and powerful, and whenever someone sees one they immediately think "Yeay, the firefighters are here to help us!" More often than not, when we arrive, we are viewed as convicts and subject to impolite scrutiny.

So, the comments made touched a nerve more than anything, and I responded whilst my ire was still roused.

That being said, there is a definite disconnect between policy makers and ground personnel. With all of the safety regulations and checklists, it is nigh on impossible to adhere strictly to all of them and still maintain any sort of productivity. So we do what we do best..... mitigate risk.

If you followed any of my previous posts at all regarding the Cramer fire, you know that I believe in individual firefighter accountability, and this has been beaten into me by my supe, foreman, squaddies, and crew members for a long time now. We show our rookies what is expected of them, how to stay safe, and how to judge and monitor fire, but eventually the gloves have to come off and they must be allowed to make their own judgments.

Another word about sleeves up and gloves off, as these are the most common infractions on our crew--

If fire behavior is picking up, most people will unconsciously roll down their sleeves and adjust their gloves. The organism is smart enough to protect itself. I know of one very solid hotshot crew that doesnt carry helmet shrouds on the theory that they insulate the firefighter too much from their environment, and this can be a bigger safety hazard than the protection afforded.

Think about it -- haven't you ever stuck in there longer and took more heat because you had a shroud? Or stretched your shirtsleeves to cover over that little patch of skin between your gloves and cuffs? I bet you have without thinking about it, and this is what that crew is striving to avoid; hiding behind technology. I think that there is wisdom in it.

So, that is my piece, and I apologize again for any hurt feelings. Any posts incoming that slam me for my previous writing are well deserved. My bad.

Class C Sagebrush Faller

Haw haw, we all are subject to that knee jerk. We Abs got together night before last. Reading over the replies, we were both ready to rush to the keyboard willy nilly to toss in our 2 cents worth! Ab.

1/21 Hi, Ab.

A few people hit on it, but most have totally missed it. You can have all your PPE on and wear your shelter to bed, but it wont do you any good unless you have SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. Unfortunately, SA cannot be issued. Good SA comes from training and experience. When you spend as much time on the line as the Hotshots and Jumpers, your SA is naturally going to be high. I do not believe the actions depicted were flagrant safety violations. Those firefighters knew what was happening and responded accordingly. The newbie or less experienced firefighter is not going to see the situation the same as these crews. My point is, spend a season in their boots, Then criticize.

Thanks, powderhound
1/21 Hello everyone. I don’t get into the internet forum often but after looking in after the Discovery Channel show and reading some of the comments I feel the need to help "clear the air".

To be fair I will give a little background. I am currently a Redmond Smokejumper. In the past I spent several seasons with the Prineville Hotshots. First and foremost I am in no way speaking for anyone other than myself and my own experiences.

Right off the bat I have to emphasize to everyone out there that this is a television show that was created, designed and edited to entertain a viewing audience. It is not a case study. It is TV.

As I have already said I am currently a jumper out of Redmond and I can attest to a VERY safety conscious crew both on and off the fireline. I know for a fact Prineville is as well. But having jumped the Echo Mtn. fire I would like to "bring to light" some hard facts the camera did not show. First the show's reporter called the fire 3 acres and growing, truth of the matter the fire was documented as a 50' by 75' smoldering spot. When we arrived on scene the fire had already consumed all available ground fuels and consisted of hot dirt, rocks and smoking duff. Maximum flame length was about 1'-2' and isolated to a patch of pine needles next to a scree slope. Not quite the scene painted by TV....Wow imagine that. Before leaving the jump-spot we conducted three separate safety check lists and briefings as is the standard for every jumpbase I have ever visited. Prior to IA actions we had a entire fuel cycle of 250 gallon bucket drops dumped on the poor little thing. After sizing up the situation our SA told us that the benefits of removing our fire packs (while on VERY steep slope) outweighed the virtually nonexistent chance of any "extreme" fire behavior. At no time was anyone more than 30 feet from their fire shelter. As for the topic of gloves I can assure you that both myself, and the other jumpers/hotshots I have had the profound pleasure working with, wear-out plenty of pairs during an average season. However cold-trailing a fire has very little meaning if you are wearing leather gloves.

Another point I would like to address is the "best of the best" line of thought. For most (not all, I recognize) smokejumpers/hotshots there is no thought of being "better" than any other wildland firefighter. The thought that Type I resources are somehow superhuman is very closed minded. When I decided to apply for hotshot crews it was because I liked to travel, I enjoyed the outdoors and I wanted to challenge myself. It was not because I was some sort of superman that needed to be separated from my old type II crew. In fact there were several people you might judge "better" than me who never moved on. Every summer I see type II crews "better" than any hotshot crew and district engine crewmembers "better" than any smokejumper. To each his own.

I guess what all this is getting at is, after being in the position of having a film crew "in your face" all summer I can tell you that, based on their conversations, hours and hours of footage would be chopped, diced, and blended to produce what would sell their show.

1/21 Abs, Mellie, and All,

For many years I have lurked on this site, since the late 90's I think. Only once before have I posted anything, but now the subject is close to home, in fact it is home.

Over the years I have learned a great deal from this site and it's changed many of my views and opinions due to others posting. I often wondered who everyone was and to what levels in the organization this site was seen. It was confirmed to me a couple of years ago during a meeting when I heard the then Assistant Director, Operations for the Forest Service, refer to the site. I knew then that the site represented the whole gamut of the wildland fire community, from first year newbies to the highest levels of our management and leadership. Thank you for what you have created.

Remember this is your audience when you post in here. It is one of the best places to get your opinion or thoughts heard in hopefully a professional and if need be anonymous way.

In late August I sat on one of our Rigging room tables and had a conversation with Tim P. one of the assistant producers of this show, Firestorm. My concern was of course how we would be portrayed. Understanding the camera does not catch all and most of the time sound bites and video clips are at the control of the editor. How was it going to look? What were they trying to portray; a bunch of adrenaline junkies jumping into fires, a crew of wandering misfits that don't really fit into the niche of "real jobs", or professional, career firefighters that are passionate about there work and the people they work with? I was worried about backlash just like this, worried that since cameras don't show all, the firefighting public would nit pick and armchair quarterback every decision made without any of the background that went into the process. Tim of course told me not to worry, everything would be fine.

Well........................... everything is fine. Although my boss is hesitant, and his boss may not agree and his boss may very well be pissed. Look at the discussion this has brewed up. The safety issue is still a very debatable one and a very dynamic one. This series gave people a tiny window of what's going on in the real world. Yes, it is the real world, regardless if you believe your crew or your district or your forest doesn't behave this way.

I think the film portrayed just a tiny fraction of what it's like on the fireline. Whether that fire is a multi thousand acre complex or a 20'x40' spot like what the Echo Mt. fire was. The film was just sound bites and video clips colorfully pasted together in any order for the mass consumption of the T.V. audience. Some was accurate but most is taken so far out of context it's not reliable for anyone who was not there directly to pass judgment upon.

The viewer never saw integral parts of both fires. What you didn't see on the jumper fire was the detailed briefing of the jumpers before they even left the jump spot. Nor did you see the assessment and size up of the fire once they arrived. Or for that matter did you hear any fire size up and request for weather from dispatch. You also did not see all of the work rest issues that arise during an IA fire situation and how they are mitigated. All of which happened. And all of which are major safety issues being treated and mitigated. It is stated in the fire report that the fire (smoldering and creeping) was not the major hazard to the personnel. Steep slope and rolling debris posed the greatest danger. You also did not see every one of those jumpers was within acceptable distance to their packs and fire shelters. (What is acceptable distance to your fire shelter when the fire you are on has no flames?) Reinforcements were requested, not because fire behavior, but because of the amount of time and exposure it would take to mop up with the crew at hand. Less time spent on a steep hill mitigates hazards of said hill.

Safety, I argue, is not the equipment you wear or have with you. Safety, is how you think, judge, perceive, and make decisions. A doctrine of safety allows me the freedom to use my judgment to make decisions based on what I perceive. My training and experience allow me to make those decisions confidently. If I am outside of my comfort level with a decision, then its time for me to rely on someone who can make the decision safely. However, in addition to that statement, there must be a system of checks and balances, what if I don't recognize I'm out of my element? How will the safe decisions be made? Who is going to make them? What grounds do you have to make them? (Food for thought....) Is there still a need for limited checklists?

PPE are tools to protect us and all have their merits. Some believe that shelters may even give the false sense of security to make unwise decisions (another debate). But all are required and serve a worthy purpose, not just because, but because each and every item has proved to help save lives or prevent injury.

I know more than a few firefighters that are still alive today because they wore hardhats while cutting snags. I would never fathom walking up to a snag without a hard hat and attempt to cut it. The hazards are too great from falling debris while the tree is still standing or to debris being kicked back at you after the fall.

But to set my pack down while I was "tater patching" a 1/10 of an acre spot seems reasonable to me. Why? Because the fire poses no threat, I can see the entire fire area, fire behavior is minimal and if by any stretch of the imagination the fire should blow up, most likely my safety zone is the original fire that is already burned (the black, safest of all areas) where I and my pack are located. I've used my judgment in both cases, right or wrong I believe I was performing in a safe manner (up for debate).

I am sure that in the next two episodes there will be more questions about behavior of the firefighters, Jumpers, Helitack, Shots, and Engines. Please remember, everything you see is taken out of context. This is purely entertainment, and NOT DOCUMENTARY.

Please don't judge anyone until you walk a mile in their boots.

I only speak for myself

Gary A<snip>
Redmond Smokejumper

Many thanks for the context. Ab.

1/21 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 ("professional" Biologist) are updated. Ab.
1/21 I enjoyed the watching the Firestorm show and looking forward to seeing the rest of the series. It is also showing firefighters doing things we have been taught not to do on the fire line. Safety is a big issue on fires for every one involved. Myself,  I drive a Contract  Tender and it is not air-conditioned so it gets real hot in the truck. I do wear full Nomex with a Tee-Shirt at all times. I have a thermometer inside (not in the sun either) and have seen it get to 115+ degs when not moving much. I do not roll up my sleeves because you are not supposed to, as much as I would like to, and I am not on the direct line but real close. I have to wear my hardhat when out of the truck at all times. I do not wear gloves because I have to climb all over the truck and work valves, switches, knobs etc.

Some look down on a Contract Tender Operator, but I am driving a 42,000 lb truck around people and on roads not really intended for a truck this size. I have to pay 100% attention to what I am doing at all times or it would be real easy to kill someone, roll the truck or block your escape route getting stuck!

I get very tired by the end of the day working the clutch, climbing on and off the truck and dragging a 30 ft long 3 inch draft line out of a river. There are many times I wish I could walk for a while or stand in one spot in the shade. My PPE is always with in reach outside the truck. If I get off the tender to walk away from it, I put it on. It is required to do this any time I am on the fire line.

My job does not end after 12 hours I also have to inspect the truck for any damage, check fluids, rocks between the duels, clean the glass to see better and make sure I top the fuel off. I feel I do a very important job on fires filling engines, wetting down roads and landing areas for helicopters. This keeps engines on the line instead of driving to a water source to draft it. I fill many other types of fire fighting equipment that is also used, that holds a lot more than 2-300 gals of water. My providing you with water makes your job easier and much safer. 

I respect your job and please respect mine. Do your best to follow all safety rules when out there. Try to be as professional as you can, to reflect a image that we are there to do a job and do it right.

As the 2006 Fire Season begins, take a look at yourself before you respond. You are a Fire Fighter and be proud of it!


1/21 Re; “Into the Wildfire”

After watching the “Into the Wildfire” show this week on
the discovery channel I would like to applaud the Prineville Hotshots
and Redmond Smokejumpers for allowing this film crew into their
program last summer. In this day and age of decreasing budgets,
public awareness of what these crews and others do thru the
course of a fire season is nothing but beneficial in getting the
word out to the public about what we actually do.

After reading some of the comment on this post I am frankly
disgusted with the amount of negative posts over the show . As a
fire fighter community, I would think that as a whole it would
embrace a show on this nations wildfire program rather than look at
it as an opportunity to find fault. As a veteran of 27 years as type
I fire fighter and as Type III IC, I see no safety violation in a
fire fighter setting down their pack while mopping up as long as
it's within reach or in taking off their gloves to perform tasks.

These programs openly let these film crews in to document them
on a daily basic for over four months. I wonder how some of the
critics would have faired under the same scrutiny. Hundreds of hours
of film was shot to arrive at the final cut, cropped, and edited
version that fit the film makers version of reality and entertainment.

R6 Fire Fighter

1/21 To all of us bantering about the little show called Firestorm:

It seems there are of course, many different views. Some of us seem to feel very strongly about them, and almost to the point of dissent. However, we do have to work together. I know for myself, I have strong convictions and training in doing what is considered correct. My training has been that I carry my shelters at all times, my sleeves stay rolled down, and I wear gloves. I know that to cold trail, I do have to remove a glove to feel for heat. I don't think this is disregarding safety issues. Rolling down sleeves and not wearing a shelter are the ones that seem a bit more hard to understand. As a wildland and structural FF, it is hard for me to justify not wearing any structure gear at a fire, even if its just food on the stove, or a false alarm. We put on our gear in case things get out of hand and heat up. Same with my wildland PPE.

Most importantly, like many of the shots are saying, Situational Awareness is most important. Knowing what my fire is doing, where I am in relation to the fire, etc. all are important. I don't think anyone believes otherwise.

As for "pumperbunnies", I think that's hysterical. I am assigned to an engine. But, I know that I am off my truck humping up away from those six wheels hiking up nearly all the same hills as shots. As a state FF, we don't always get T1 crews, and have to do it ourselves creating hand crews out of engines, or assisted by DOC crews. I have incredible respect for the skills and experience of hotshot crews and smokejumpers. I think maybe disappointment might be a good way of describing how I felt about the few images I saw on the show. I have worked with many crews, and never noticed a big problem with the things I saw on TV. It came sort of as a shock, that our "elite firefighter (that's a compliment), who I was trained to learn from years ago, didn't do as I had been instructed way back. Especially not wearing shelters. I don't think a shelter slows me down. But I also don't make ANY plans to use it. It is merely a last resort should I screw up. It is just like my SCBA too. I wear it to help PRESERVE my life.

I think there is a slightly different perspective between some of us in our upbringing and early training. This obviously shapes our beliefs now on these issues. Hopefully others wont brow beat me because I believe my crew safety is contingent on strong Situational Awareness, fitness, strong leadership, and the use of all safety training and PPE.

Ok, that's the last of my two cents.

Thanks for listening. See you in the Southwest in a few more weeks. We haven't had rain in Arizona for over 100 days. And the forecast doesn't look good.

1/21 Maybe Discovery channel will use some of the "they
said" comments directly in their next program? Or
not. Sedgehead.
1/21 OK.....

The Discovery program did an excellent job at portraying the realities of being on a Type 1 hotshot crew. I know, because as I watched it I saw what we did every day.

So now people are bitching about the lack of professionalism and safety violations. Take the following into consideration, however. We are expected to be professionals at mitigating risk. So, occasionally I walk the fireline with my sleeves rolled up. Why? Because in my mind, the danger from heatstroke is greater than the danger the fire poses at that time (Yes, I can hear it now, so I'll head it off -- the wrist has one of the highest concentrations of blood vessels in the body, which is why you apply ice packs to them and the back of the neck in a heat stroke situation). Occasionally when firing out, I will still leave my sleeves up. Why? Because I wear a metal watch, and if the fire intensity begins to get too high, it "bites" my wrist and lets me know that maybe its time to re-evaluate. Occasionally I will roll without underwear, too, because after 10 days without a shower, the risk of crotch rot and monkey ass is greater than the threat posed by the fire.

The "unprofessional" behavior shown on the show was not unprofessional. It was the honest portrayal of the crew dynamic. Of course we don't act like team caveman all the time, in the public eye, but if we weren't allowed to jest amongst ourselves, we would surely go mad. Part of having a strong crew involves brotherhood, and if you are a spaz (like I am) you must feel comfortable being yourself around your crewmates. Kudos to Prineville for not dressing it up for the show.

One other thing, though -- the snag situation. It has happened to almost everyone at one time or another. These are the things that can kill you on a fire, so we need to be heads up on both aspects, fallers and crew members. My reaction would have been a little stronger and involved some cussing as a squad boss......

Anyway, the pumperbunnys that are complaining about the safety violations are insulated from the real world by their air conditioning and doughnuts, and only have to carry a fire shelter and two canteens. 2 more pounds is nothing with a nothing pack, but increase your load from 35 to 38 pounds, and you have a reason to bitch.

Class C Sagebrush Faller

Good comments. Thank you, but please, Sagebrush Faller, let's keep this at the real dialog level. We can do this if we stay away from belittling personal comments directed toward people with a different viewpoint. Let's keep the discussion to issues: we owe this to each other, same as on the fireline if we had differing opinions regarding safety. I don't know any risk-averse "pumperbunnies"; we all want to do the job safely. Let's not put people with differing viewpoints in some category so we can dismiss them. (And what's this picking on engine crews??? (tongue firmly in cheek))

For the most part, readers don't know exactly who posts here, their level of experience, training, age, employment with which agency or organization, their volunteer status, whether handcrew, enginecrew, supervisor or grunt. We need that anonymity so people can speak honestly. HUTCH for one is using his real name -- Tom Hutchison. He retired a while ago after being a Type I IC for many years, including through the Storm King tragedy.  He is a highly-respected wildland firefighter and was a highly respected wildland firefighter supervisor, focused on safety under the most awful circumstances. He is not risk-averse, but does have risk in mind every moment. No pumperbunny there...

Let me also point out that most who post here are focused on wildland firefighter safety. We're just not agreed on how to achieve it (or different buttons have been pushed based on our emotional experiences and training and we're posting from a glass half full rather than a glass half empty position).

The real safety questions come down to

  • Is it always rules and regs, ie, policy? even when policy is contradictory or vague? and rules don't make sense in the real moment? or
  • Is it training wildland firefighters to the level that they and their supervisors make the right choices for the given situation?

This goes to the heart of the matter of Doctrinal Change, professionalism, common sense, leadership -- all that -- as Lobotomy, 6 and others have pointed out. Some who are retired have not been privy to the discussions going on at all levels regarding how this shift in organizational climate and leadership can be achieved. This is a dialog that needs to occur so that ALL wildland firefighters understand. It took the military 25 years to make this shift.

I think we're doing pretty well as I scrutinize the full-ness of the glass; we could and need to do better as I scrutinize the empti-ness of the glass. As we go through this process, we need to really see ourselves as we are, demand better, model it, and talk about it.

Please, let's view these filmed pieces of Discovery Channel firefighting (reality?) in the light of both a celebration of wildland firefighting and as an "After Action Review" and let's appreciate the honesty in which they're offered. We have a great opportunity to learn. I thank the Agency for not squelching or micromanaging or censoring in its infancy this sharing of wildland firefighter life. I thank those crewbosses and others who took the risk to make these first steps toward dialog on Doctrinal Review. Thanks also to Ed Hollenshead and others in Boise and across the country for their work on this re-definition.


1/21 It a sad commentary on the state of safety in our business to read some of
the responses on protective equipment posted here the last few days. If the
loss of life in our trade wasn't enough, the terminations and legal findings
both against federal government employees and elsewhere you would think
might have convinced more. But it's apparent that "willful negligence" (An
OSHA set of words, not mine) is still alive and well!

People like HUTCH and others, have experienced the real meaning of safety
violations in the pain, suffering, and even death they have had to witness
in their decades in our business. Unlike most other jobs, we experience a
very high rate of injury. And perhaps its frequency numbs us to it. I
remember the bravado and fearlessness I had as a hot shot. At age 50 I look
back today on some of the things I got away earlier in my own career and
just shake my head. I'm determined not to expose my people to those same

For those yet unconvinced that its time to wear all our PPE and put your
gloves on, think about the experience of the military in Iraq. They wear all
there stuff everyday, every time. Every time they enter the battle zone. It
doesn't matter if people are smiling, its 120 degrees or people are waving
at them with less than 5 fingers...its what they do to save lives. And it
works, survivability is way up for battlefield casualties. That's the
purpose they all understand, and we as a wildfire community could all take a
lesson from such an understanding.

Contract County Guy
1/21 The hiring season is quickly approaching, much faster for some folks than others. If you're looking for a job or looking for employees, we invite you to have a look at the Jobs Page. Two companies who have enjoyed past advertising success, Firestorm and Initial Attack Resources, are currently recruiting new employees.

Over the last couple of years, our long-time readers have no doubt noticed significant increases in the amount and diversity of employers advertising with us. From where we sit, we've certainly noticed the increased popularity and traffic the pages generate. We're pleased with the success of bringing employees and employers together; after all it fits comfortably within our original mission of information sharing.

It's important to us that our viewers realize we aren't always able to determine the integrity or reliability of our advertisers. An advertiser’s appearance in our classifieds isn’t synonymous with us endorsing them. When we receive a request to publish a job ad, we try to speak to the person submitting the ad, verify the information they provide, and then even make a few calls to trusted contacts for references. That still doesn't mean we can make any guarantees, just that we do attempt to pre-screen or filter any undesirables. We have and will continue to refuse advertising requests from anyone we’re not comfortable with. We are currently exploring options to allow us to further validate, track, and approve honest and reliable employers. However, we highly recommend that any potential employee conduct their own inquiries before accepting any job offer.

On another note, for many years we've posted outreach and job announcements for federal agencies at no charge. Since we basically perceived them as non-profit organizations, we considered it our contribution to public service. We regret to say that due to the same issue of increased activity, we are now applying the same fees as non-federal ads. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause those whose current ads were removed and to those who have relied on us to help get the word out. We are in the process of contacting upper level recruiters and administrators to see if some type of blanket arrangements can be made, but it doesn't appear too promising yet. We invite any suggestions or comments you may have on this endeavor. We find it extraordinary that such demanding requirements are placed on supervisors to recruit, outreach, and fill their vacant positions, yet there is a conspicuous absence of any funding to effectively do so.

Thanks for reading, please know that we appreciate your continued support. If you are interested in posting an employment ad, the rates begin at just $35.00 per month. You can use the link near the top of the jobs page to contact our advertising department. And don't forget to tell our advertisers you saw their ads on our site, it is through them that we are able to continue our mission of sharing information.

1/21 Hi Ab,

As for the Discovery Channel show and PPE, I agree with those who have said we are way too dependant on equipment. I personally think good firefighters have the situational awareness to recognize when certain pieces of PPE are needed. Do you think your hardhat might come off if you fall going down that steep slope? Put on your chin strap. That log you are going to turn over - could the side you can't see (but are going to put your hand on) be smoldering? Put on your glove, or use something other than your hand to turn it.

I also like Mellie's point about leadership - Mellie, in my opinion, the job of fire leaders (especially at the squad boss level) is to teach young firefighters that situational awareness and constant thinking of "what ifs."

We are much better off with firefighters paying attention, being situationally aware and taking their own safety as their responsibility than we are with dogmatic, meaningless safety rules.

1/21 6

Thank you for the breath of fresh air! I agree with your take 100%.
Use the matter between your ears and behind your eyes.

“Another CDF BC”

1/21 Right up front it should be noted that I did not see the “Firestorm” documentary. I didn’t need to see it to be alarmed, although not surprised, by some of the comments in this discussion thread. I hope I am wrong when I say that there seems to be a culture out there of some supervisors justifying, protecting, and even applauding the willful & flagrant violations of accepted safety practices and agency policy. It is not acceptable for a supervisor to “applaud” fireline leaders whose idea of “showing it like it is,” includes publicly stating that “other people follow strict regulations, we do it our way.”

I am encouraged to see that many more find this attitude as deplorable and frightening as I do. To all of the young firefighters wondering……..THIS IS NOT OK, NOT COOL and certainly not the way to ensure that you go home to your loved ones each night.

Lobotomy, I gather from your comments that you are a supervisor. It disturbs me to see you justifying and “protecting” (as MAW so aptly puts it) the willful actions and flagrant violations of those fireline leaders who are being called the “best of the best.” They do not represent what I know to be the “best of the best,” and I disagree with your position that this depicts, “the way it is” in the wildland firefighting community. I have worked with some really great leaders who would NEVER tolerate willful negligence.

Having many years of wildland firefighting & supervision under my belt, I can say with certainty that willful violations of safety regulations are BY NO MEANS “showing it like it is.” I cannot recall ever having seen a fireline supervisor who would tolerate firefighters on the fireline without fire shelters. I have worked along side many supervisors be they engines, hotshots, smoke jumpers, etc…who like me, would not allow known unsafe practices to continue to occur, and who certainly would not consider the lack of a fire shelter a “minor safety violation.”

The idea that fireline supervisors would allow such complacency brings to mind an excellent case study that I recently read which contains many glaring similarities. It is the lessons learned in an excellent case study of failed leadership so shockingly similar to this discussion thread. The study looks at the crash of a B52 which took t he lives of all four on board. Had effective leadership been in place, those four men would be alive today.

The document entitled, “Darker Shades of Blue” is the case study of a pilot who willingly violated safety regulations on a routine basis for many years. His supervisors justified it, ignored it, blew it off, minimized it, buried it, applauded it, you name it….until it took the lives of every man on board that aircraft that one tragic afternoon. Ironically, some of the quotes that I see in this discussion thread are echoed in the sentiment of this B52 pilot’s commanding officers.

The case study and very graphic accompanying video (Real B52 Crash), can be found at the following links:


Take the time to read this case study. It is great stuff. Lobotomy, I think that once you read it, you will be able to answer your own question about how this “factual portrayal,” (referring to the documentary), can hurt not only wildland firefighting, but more importantly wildland firefighters.

You can almost hear ou r young firefighters trying to decide; “Do I really need all of that PPE? But the hotshots & smoke jumpers don’t use them all the time.” Man that sends chills down my spine.

HUTCH, please share this case study with your students. Perhaps this author’s brave career ending publication will teach your students that if it seems wrong it probably is wrong…do something about it. Those are the kind of parallels that they could benefit from.

A couple of appropriate quotes from the case study:

“…trust is built by congruence between word and deed at all levels. ..without trust and mutual respect among leaders and subordinate leaders, a large organization will suffer from a combination of poor performance and low morale."

“The bad example set by Col Holland had begun to be emulated by junior and impressionable officers, and had resulted in one near disaster…”

"We can't have that, we can't tolerate things like that, we need to take action for two reasons--it's unsafe and we have a perception problem with the young aircrews."

“Red flags of warning were abundant-- and yet those who could act did not do so, in spite of recommendations to ground Bud Holland. As one B-52 crewmember said about the accident, "You could see it, hear it, feel it, and smell it coming. We were all just trying to be somewhere else when it happened."

“But there are also those aviators, usually of high experience, skill, and confidence, who see this built in flexibility as a chaotic environment which may be manipulated for their own ends--often with tragic results.”

The most tragic and compelling thing about the B52 lessons learned is quoted in the last paragraph of the study. It says,

“The crash of Czar 52, like most accidents, was part of a chain of events. These events were facilitated through the failed policies of several senior leaders at the 92d Bomb Wing. These failures included an inability to recognize and correct the actions of a single rogue aviator, which eventually led to an unhealthy comm and climate and the disintegration of trust between leaders and subordinates. However, in most aircraft mishaps, the crash is the final domino to drop in the cause and effect chain of events. In this case, however, scores of young and impressionable aviators "grew up" watching a rogue aviator as their role model for over three years. They remain on active flying status in various Air Force wings, passing along what they have learned. Because of this, the final domino in this chain of events may not yet have fallen.”

Let’s stop the “dominoes” from falling in the firefighting business, and stop justifying that which is unjustifiable.


1/21 I am down in Texas and missed the fire show on Discovery. Heard it well done.

One of the problems with rules, is that the more you have the harder it is to follow them all. I think that the PPE requirements have been diluted with new rules, such as the 30 Mile mitigation stuff. Does every Initial Attack I.C. take the time to do a written complexity analysis and complete, in writing, all of their checklists prior to engaging a fire? (I don't. The more you have your head buried in paperwork, the less situational awareness you have.) I think if you look at all of the rules that we have you would be hard pressed to follow them all. So what do you do? You make choices of which rules you think are important, which you can comply with at a later date, and which you will ignore. The problem is that safety rules become lumped in with procedural ones.

The rule on gloves used to be that they had to be with you at all times. This happened after a 1979 fire shelter deployment where an individual was killed when his fire shelter became to hot to move without gloves. We were encouraged not to wear gloves so our hands would toughen up. I started wearing gloves on a regular basis as a form of the ultimate sun screen.

When I started out we were not issued fire shelters, and our hardhats were lightweight. The first fire shelters were ignored largely because they were big and bulky. The 2nd and 3rd generation shelters were more compact and weighed less. Now we are going backwards. All of the extra weight line firefighters now carry comes with a price in terms of fatigue and heat disorders. While the new shelters are more effective in terms of protection, a the more tired a firefighter is, the less likely they are to make into a safety zone, and the more likely it is for them have to deploy.

Fire agencies have worked hard to eliminate the need for judgment on the part of the line supervisor. I don't know that it has made it a safer place to work. Why do we dock firefighters 30 minutes for lunch? Safety. Explain that one. I would be more like to see a movement downward of authority, and the accompanying accountability. Let the supervisor on the scene make the call. If we can't trust them, why are they in that position?

Sorry about the rant,
1/21 RE: Firestorm

I was truly scared after reviewing some of the comments on this website regarding the Discovery program Into The Firestorm. There are gravely naive comments made by several fighters that think good fireline safety is all about having fire shelters strapped to fire fighters. A dependence on technology does not prevent injury, nor save lives. The fire shelter is a prime example. It is a well-known fact that the number of fireline fatalities has exponentially increased since its introduction. Shelters are overemphasized in basic fireline training and marketed as flashy silver space capsules to be used when all else goes wrong. Sadly, fire fighters have ended-up in situations they probably would not have because they felt they had a final shelter option. They should not have been led to believe that. A fire shelter strapped to an unskilled firefighter’s waist only provides misguided confidence, not safety. If you feel so insecure about your own personal safety that you really need a fire shelter I suggest you stay away from wildland fire.


1/21 Here is a report on the FS/BLM Service First
Organization that some might find interesting.

It presents Organization progress, accomplishments and
future plans.

I can only guess how this will affect Fire, but it
hints toward a combined fire organization.
Unfortunately cost reduction seems to be the main

And There I Was

Service First Document

1/21 Folks,

Pull your heads out of the sand! The documentary, while it may have shown some "infringements," is still well put together. If any of you can seriously say that you have followed ALL of the safety practices that you say you have then I guess you are far better than me. I think Lobotomy has the the best and most "realistic," input thus so far. Now on the the third morning of a rappel fire, I honestly do not see myself, or my firefighters wearing all of their line gear while we "potato patch," a fire before calling it out. To those of you crying foul at this, I would then expect you to wear your full PPE while engaged in this activity... but, wait how will you feel the hot spots with your gloves on? We must all gauge the level of comfort, and Situational Awareness on our assignments, and then hopefully come to a prudent decision on how we go about our tactics, and how the job can get most efficiently done... just like these folks have shown in the first installment of this series. The rules are just that, the rules... but, they allow for our interpretation sometimes on different situations. God bless the "cavemen/women," in us all.

NZ Helitack

1/20 Re: "Into The Firestorm"

Holy crap, now I'm pissed...



Look, if you really had no idea that jumpers shed their gear (and usually their shirts...)and wear their hats backwards or that hotshots rarely wear gloves while burning out and generally look, act, smell, and cuss like cavemen, then YOU REALLY HAVEN'T A FRIGGIN' CLUE DO YOU? No one wants to screw up while cutting a snag, or God forbid, look down hill and see the crew "idiot" walk into the lay after it's been cleared and communicated, but lets be real shall we?... sometimes shiz happens. A good crew recognizes the shiz before stepping in it, then talks about it. Kudos to Prineville for having the BALLS to show it like it is.

So what's the problem? Can't mainstream America see us for who we are? Can't they see a little air-guitar on the Pulaski? Are you saying that these crews should PRETEND to be or act like something they are not? For cryin' out loud, let's just live in a fantasy huh?!

As far as instructing newbies, don't you want to teach the best safety practices AND prepare them for the reality of fire season? Don't you think this series can help? Or should we send em' into the field thinking it's all warm and fuzzy out there and everyone holds hands with their little white gloves on? (..yeah, I know, that's what the agency would like to portray...)

We are in the Limelight with this show and it has to be a bit "groovy" or who would watch it? And yes, these folks ARE representing us because THAT'S WHO WE ARE. can't you guy's friggin' see that?! And professionalism? What would be so professional about portraying a LIE?? This first episode is , whether you like it or not, an accurate portrayal of HOW IT IS EVERYDAY FOR THE TYPE 1. So now you want to take this show and these guys and pick them apart over the everyday crap?!! Who the hell are you to arm-chair quarterback? Go get fat in a yert and live in your fantasy.... because that's all it is.

We KNOW we should wear our gloves, never drop the shelter, keep the sleeves down and act like we're clean cut. So why are the biggest offenders teaching at our academy? hmmmmm... BECAUSE THEY ARE REAL. Can't you smell bullsh*t when you step in it?

Forget how you think it SHOULD be out there. Show some backbone for your people, watch this series, and FOR GOD'S SAKE SUPPORT US.

This series is will benefit us if you let it.

Seriously p*ssed off,
1/20 I wonder what Paul Gleason would say about the Discovery Channel Show being
discussed? I think he'd advise all to step into the role of being "Students of Fire".
Guess I'd like to hear some discussion of the show in the context of this piece
on leadership.

Leaders We Would Like to Talk To – Paul Gleason

I thank those crews who participated and others who were involved in the creation of
the show. It's real, it has life and integrity. It can be used for teaching, sure, and
it informs. Is it PERFECT? Y E S! We're not born knowing it all. When we get tired
or feel pressed and stressed, human factors can lead to unsafe acts. Here's an example
worthy of debate. How do we mitigate? How does someone learn and demonstrate
that they've got it? This show is not PC or bullshit, contrived or censored. It's real!
Like theysaid, it's real! Still deserves debate if you want to, like you're doing so lessons
can be learned. I think it's too easy to fob it off on "attitude".

My non-fire family and friends who saw it said they have a better idea of what firefighters
do -- the warts, the need for renewed vigilance by sawyer and crew who was below, the
dirty shirts, the fun and all. Heard several comments on how refreshing it was that there's
active teaching/learning being shown on tv. Lessons that, if not learned will continue to
endanger lives... Policy or not, we're not born knowing it all.

Comment I liked best from the youth in my family who saw it: "Wow, this is interesting...
Excellent - way beyond any stupid kind of reality show."


1/20 I'm curious to know, is there a regulation that says that being a Forest Service
DFMO can't be a collateral duty with another job (this might happen if your
district isn't particularly fire prone)?

That's what I'm being told, and am curious. Thanks!

Sign me as,

Curious George
1/20 I have read with amusement about the consternation over firefighters depicted
on the 'Into the Firestorm' series not wearing gloves and other 'violations'.

Anyone who really has experience fighting fire knows that such things occur all
the time. Is it right? No. But ask yourselves this: Have you ever done it? And:
How do such infractions compare to, lets say, the breakdown of the system that
left the poor souls of Storm King without vital weather information?

I am just saying that the view of the forest may be being lost for the view of the
trees in this case. I agree with Lobotomy on this issue.

1/20 For those of you insisting fire shelters be worn at all times, would you
insist that firefighters on tundra fires in Alaska carry shelters?

Sunil R
1/20 AZfirefighter,

Well said.

GGfire, You said,

"...you seem to be defending evidence (caught on tape) of apparent unsafe acts (in the form of willful violations of policy), preconditions for unsafe acts (in the form of substandard practices), and unsafe supervision (in the form of inadequate supervision.)".

Go back and read what I have said entirely. You will find that no place in my posts had I condoned unsafe acts... in fact it has been just the opposite.

As someone said before, it is hard to write and express tone and inflection. How about if I had written "Yes, there may have been some minor safety violations, but I can guarantee that any smokejumper who wasn't wearing their shelter had it within a few feet of the camera.... and any hotshot not wearing their gloves also had a reason....(tongue in cheek).

Or if I had written, "I thought the premiere was an excellent depiction of hotshots and smokejumpers...(tongue in cheek).

MAW, You said,

"Lobotomy, I've always enjoyed your intelligence but unless you know something we don't about the next 2 installments, like ALL of these safety VIOLATIONS will be addressed, I've lost respect for your intellect. Please, apply that brain power to creating change for the better, not protecting the "best", but not the brightest. Perhaps the WO & Region 6 will require these crews to submerge themselves in Fireline Leadership."

MAW, what I said to GGfire goes to you also. Why bag on something that is obviously going to improve the safety of both the Prineville H.S. and Redmond jumpers, and indirectly countless others who are possibly doing the same things and just never got caught on film? If those unsafe acts didn't show up on the documentary, there is a good potential that they would continue into this fire season.


1/20 Adios

If you're trying to defend the mistakes of the jumpers in the documentary, you didn't do a very good job. First off, why don't you talk to the JUMPERS who were in their fire shelters at Storm King and ask them if fire shelters are an overrated piece of equipment. Ask them if they would have rather been out in the elements or in their shelter. You talk about using your brain, you might want to do that before you put ridiculous statements out on this site. I have a hard time believing (THE BEST OF THE BEST) wouldn't be able to pack the new shelters because of the size and weight, when engine crews and the shots are packing them. Maybe we should rethink our PT program. Also the new shelters have nothing to do with what you can carry in your pack. Pack smart for an assignment and thats all's you need to do. It's hard for me to believe in this era of fire fighting you would try and defend someone being reluctant to cary a shelter. So whats next? someone doesn't like a new design on a parachute so we just jump without one. Please do us all a favor and let some air out of that swelled head of yours.

1/20 Dear Adios.

Please leave the fire profession. And if you decide your too good for the rest of us and stay, please stand up on the podium at briefing and express your views. That way, we know who you are, and can leave you alone to put out the fire. The rest of us will be going home. No way I would work with you.

Your lack of professionalism and understanding is scary. I hope you are not in a position where you supervise anyone.

1/20 Adios,

It's pretty hard to argue with logic like that. Kind of makes me want
to cut the seatbelts out of my car so I would have to learn to be a
better driver.

vfd cap'n
From Misery Whip:

vfd cap’n,

I am usually more or less on the same page as you in respect to your opinions on this site. But I have to respond to this statement from your 1/7 post. In reference to the bird flu discussion, you said,

“However, if any firefighter is really making those kind of plans, I suggest they make application to the New Orleans Police Department. I hear they are hiring now, and one could live up to a not-so-fine tradition of public service until a crisis comes.”

I respect that you are a volunteer firefighter and probably make a huge personal commitment to your profession. Our country would be in deep trouble without the thousands of volunteer firefighters and EMTs who respond to millions of emergencies every year.

Unlike yourself, I work for the US Forest Service and consider myself a wildland fire professional. Aside from incidental skirmishes with structure fires, vehicle fires and hazmat during my career, there is nothing in my job description or training that indicates I am committed to respond to anything other than wildland fires. Over the years, I have taken more risks and been injured more times than I can count in my chosen profession. I have permanent physical injuries that will affect me until the day I die. I am certain that the many days I have spent on wildfires & prescribed burns sucking smoke will likely shorten my natural life span.

I was mostly aware of the risks when I started in this business. I’ve been a faller and aviator most of my career. I chose to accept those risks, and still choose to accept those risks.

But I never agreed to respond to a flu pandemic, or a biological, chemical, or nuclear terrorist incident. Nowhere in my job description does it mention anything besides wildland fire. Under the present circumstances, working under a short-sighted administration that is hostile to government agencies, when programs, people and training are being cut left and right because of budget shortfalls, I see no reason why I should further risk my own health or that of my family & friends by performing in a capacity for which I have not been trained and have no interest.

I am offended by your suggestion that I am a fair-weather friend or coward if I choose not to answer the call for a crisis that I am not trained for. I don’t have to prove my courage to you or anyone else. I consider it foolish to take unnecessary risks. Until my agency decides to make it part of my job description, and to pay, train and equip me appropriately for these “other missions”, I feel no inclination to take unnecessary risks.

I spent a couple of weeks in SE Texas after Hurricane Rita, altogether it was one of the most hazardous and worst experiences of my career. It was dispiriting to see firsthand just how ill prepared our country is to deal with a large natural disaster, an event that you could reasonably expect to happen on a regular basis. I can’t imagine the level of confusion that would ensue after a biological, chemical, or nuclear terrorist incident. Or a bird flu pandemic.

I applaud the courage of anyone who plans to respond to incidents regardless of the nature of the incident. But I don’t think it helps to demonize wildland firefighters who are righteously concerned about being assimilated into all-risk operations under the present circumstances.

Abs & y’all,

I didn’t see the Discovery show, so I can’t comment on the content. I find it amusing, and a little sad, that some of our comrades are getting bent out of shape about some nickel dime PPE stuff, yet very few people seem to notice that our federal land management agencies have been gutted and hijacked by corporate lobbyists and anti-government ideologues. In my book, that is a far greater safety issue than a couple of jumpers with their sleeves rolled up. I'm talking about a latent failure of an entire defensive layer of the Swiss cheese model.

From the earliest days of Bush’s presidency, when Cheney invited former Enron CEO “Kenny Boy” Lay & other energy executives to help craft our country’s energy policy in secret meetings, this administration has displayed an alarming propensity for placing lobbyists and like-minded political ideologues in key government oversight positions. For the past five years, they have been busier than rabid badgers trying to roll back progress on decades of hard fought land management issues. The foxes are running the henhouse, and they aren’t finished yet.

MORE... from Misery Whip

1/20 As a reality television producer, i have read with great interest the responses to the first airing of "Into the Firestorm."

I know that i am not a wildland firefighter so my comments may not be appropriate in this forum but i feel compelled to say a few things that may shed some new light on how these shows are produced and perceived.

Although i do not know for a fact on this particular show. Elements in reality shows are usually strung together in their most entertaining fashion. That means elements of Fire A. could have been combined with elements of Fire B. or C. or D. for that matter.

It is important to remember that this show is designed to entertain first and educate second. I assume that the producers endeavored to present all the participants in their most positive light but bear in mind that if they used documented elements out of order or from different days or for that matter even different fires to punch up a small 1/2 acre fire in the remote wilderness. Some of the violations either could be taken out of context or may not have occurred at all.

This show is entertainment - not a documentary. What you see may not be what actually happened at any given moment. Keep that in mind.

1/20 I have enjoyed reading the various comments since mine the other day on the discovery program.

Yes, most of us were quick to pick up and point out the obvious deficiencies in safety practices. I am very surprised with those that defend these practices as being acceptable because there is some reason for it. When I mentioned changing the culture, this was a significant portion of the safety message in the Forest Service since 1994 and South Canyon. It is apparent that some feel the message was intended for others but not themselves. Wearing of PPE is part of that mindset wear it all the time on every fire and wear it properly. This included having it serviceable which means clean, and in good repair as well as agency approved. Isnt this covered in basic fire fighter training? Gloves, yep I hate them too for all the same reasons however they belong on the hands not the belt, pack or pocket when fighting fire. Cold trail and hand feeling are the exceptions, hand feel with the back of the hand right? Agency policy is very clear, and employees failure to comply places those employees and supervisors at risk for discipline and OSHA citations. This is an indicator of the professionalism of the employees just as dress, appearance, and actions. It was pointed out in GGfires post that wildland firefighters want to be considered "professionals" yet I see their actions, comments and appearance as saying something different. If the wildland firefighters of Forest Service want greater respect they need to change and start acting the part. I am not saying that ALL of them act this way, a vast majority are professional acting, appearing and performing. However it is those that are not that draw the attention and are perceived as "the way it really is" by the viewing public.


Hutch, read some of the posts above this one. Ab.

1/20 firedog,

All you have to do is ask your Chief. He is the one who presented it
after WS and JH wrote up at DBRTC.

1/20 I haven't been in the field for several years but was appalled to see the numbers and kinds of safety violations shown in this "documentary". God help us! Has no one learned, especially Prineville!

Most safety items have been pointed out but what about the lack of 100% cotton tee shirts under nomex fire shirts, don't believe chest hairs are nonflammable nor does it provide any protection.

If your gloves aren't on, your sleeves are rolled up, your shirt is a hair shirt, your lacking 100% cotton undies, you don't have a chin strap on your hardhat, don't have eye protection, don't have a fire shelter on you and your nomex is soaked in oil - then how are you fire ready? When will you have time during a blow up to pull it together never mind that most
"incidences" occur during mop-up.  What has been learned from past tragedies - Absolutely Nothing.

Lobotomy, I've always enjoyed your intelligence but unless you know something we don't about the next 2 installments, like ALL of these safety VIOLATIONS will be addressed, I've lost respect for your intellect. Please, apply that brain power to creating change for the better, not protecting the "best", but not the brightest. Perhaps the WO & Region 6
will require these crews to submerge themselves in Fireline Leadership.

1/20 Has anyone ever stopped to think that PPE is not the answer to safety. PPE is most often a back-up for poor decision making. And usually a CYA for an agency.

It is said that fire shelters save lives. I would suggest that they have endangered more lives than they have saved. The two safest firefighters on the South Canyon fire were the two who did not have shelters. They were in positions that gave them options and both came out unscathed. Maybe, before trusting in a piece of equipment, we should think about our response to a wildland fire from the beginning and not rush headlong into situations that we can not justify. Maybe there is a better response than throwing ourselves between flames and houses or up box canyons. Maybe our lives are worth more than the other "values at risk" and we should design our strategies with that in mind. And maybe using our brain, and not a bunch of checklists, is the best way to stay safe. Act appropriately for the job at hand and not in some one-size-fits-all fashion. The new shelters are disappointing in their size and weight. No one ever thought of initial attack or hiking when they designed them. Smokejumpers do both and I know that is why they may be reluctant to carry them. The new shelters impact what else you can reasonably carry; water, rain gear, warm clothes, batteries, food, first aid, spare parts and other equipment; the stuff you need to carry when you don't go back to fire camp every night.

As for gloves. They get in the way of more work than they help. There is no feel or dexterity with gloves. I, for one, will not be caught wearing them unless absolutely necessary. There are also places they do not belong, such as cold-trailing.

There you g o. Have fun with it. I know it is heresy not to be a fire shelter supporter. But then again, how many places are there to deploy a shelter? And if you have time to get there, maybe your time would be better spent getting to a true safety zone.

Avoid entrapment, don't compensate for it. Look before you leap.

1/20 Re: Firestorm

I think its great to see this healthy discussion about what has almost turned into a training video of sorts. Or maybe the wildland fire community looking in the mirror so to speak. I believe that many of those individuals are highly experienced with many years of service. Further, I believe as a fairly young engine boss myself, that I could learn allot from many if these individuals. However, my training and personal beliefs are that I don't "let down" on safety standards. This is usually termed "complacency". Yes, its JUST cold trailing, and with all the experience, the fire PROBABLY isn't going to flare up and bite ya. Yet, shouldn't we stress to our younger FF's that we don't just SAY safety is our first priority, we actually make it so. This includes wearing all your PPE when on the line. Yes, you can take a glove off to cold trail and search for hot spots. But I don't believe it includes dropping my shelter somewhere near me, or rolling up my sleeves. I work in Arizona. Almost every fire I go on in the desert, the temp. is over 100 degrees if not 110 or even 115+. I don't talk myself or my crew into complacency and rolling up sleeves or removing IA packs. We gauge ourselves physically, continuously hydrate, watch each others backs and selves for signs of heat stress, etc. We uphold safety as #1.

I look forward to the rest of this series. I enjoy the feeling of being on the line while I wait through the winter. I like the sound of the chain saws, pumps, Pulaski's and the talk and humor of the crew. I think we can also watch, listen, learn and maybe get a little self assessment for the wildland fire community out of it.

Lastly, I know going into the 2006 fire season, that after watching this series, my eyes will be open, my mind too, thinking about what MY crew might be doing to not uphold safety to the highest possible level, so that we may all go home to our wives and kids.

Be safe....its not just a slogan!

1/20 Ab:

Smoke jumpers not wearing their PPE? Hotshots acting like ignorant "cavemen"? So what's new about any of that? Do I think that the safety infractions in the documentary will tarnish the image of the Forest Service or, worse yet, the image of firefighting. Hell no, other than us, no one will even notice.

I'd have to agree with Lobotomy that the documentary just "shows it like it is." The problem is that "like it is" is pretty sad. People have hit all the nails on the head. for me, the firefighters portrayed do not inspire confidence, they convey a lack of professionalism, they're not leading by example, and they show that we've made too little progress. Search the "They Said" archives for all the times that firefighters have complained that they are not classified, respected, paid, etc., etc. as professionals. Let's face it, being respected, paid, etc as a professional usually requires that you behave like a professional. You think you'd ever catch the Phoenix Fire Department like this? Not likely.

Lobotomy- a personal guarantee "that any smokejumper who wasn't wearing their shelter had it within a few feet of the camera.... and any hotshot not wearing their gloves also had a reason...."? I'll take that guarantee, just send me the money for my smokejumpers and hotshots back right away! Unless "I don't feel like it" or "it's not part of my image bro" counts as a reason.

I'd also like to know what a private documentary film has to do with "the Doctrinal Review process"? Could you clarify that?

We've been over the ground about Reason, HFACS, Swiss Cheese - and I don't want to open that wound again, but for all that reading and writing, you seem to be defending evidence (caught on tape) of apparent unsafe acts (in the form of willful violations of policy), preconditions for unsafe acts (in the form of substandard practices), and unsafe supervision (in the form of inadequate supervision.)

Sign me,

1/20 RE: 

"I thought the premiere was an excellent depiction of hotshots and smokejumpers.... does anyone know if they cover any other aspects of wildland firefighting such as engines, helitack, and incident management?"

They did shoot SoCal Team 3 briefing the nightshift on BDF's Blaisdell Fire near Palm Springs while trailing the Mill Creek Hotshots....don't know if this ended up on the editor's cutting room floor or not.


1/20 I don't know why everyone is so fired up about showing the safety violations. They would have happened whether the cameras were there are not. These violations are happening everywhere in the wildland fire community and must be addressed in a constructive manner.

Isn't it better to know that we still have a long way to go if we are ever going to create a safety culture within the Forest Service? I for one would rather see the facts of what is happening on the fireline rather than see what a Forest Service censor, or as Hutch calls it "a liaison", insists is removed from or added to a production or documentary about wildland firefighting.

Sitting Back and Enjoying The Show
1/19 HUTCH,

As a college instructor, I am sure that you will have a healthy discussion about the things you saw as safety violations with your students. I would also hope that supervisors and managers would do the same. I saw another safety violation that nobody has said anything about yet. The sawyer's nomex shirt looked like it had been soaked in an oil can for days before it was worn. Not much flame resistance there.

I agree that these violations should not be happening, but I think it is important to see that errors in judgment are still happening, even with the “best of the best”. It kind of makes you want to scratch your head and wonder why they did it like that, even though they knew they were being filmed?

As a supervisor of several units that will be appearing later in this documentary series, I was a little leery about them filming our modules. The question was asked several times by our firefighters, “What if we do something wrong on camera?” My answer was to do business as usual and as you were trained and if something bad comes out of it, we’ll correct it. It is all part of the learning process.

I think this documentary will also be a good learning experience for those interested in the culture of wildland firefighting and some of the unique challenges wildland firefighters have.

Each of us gets different things from watching documentaries. Those who are not familiar with wildland firefighting will not dwell on, or even notice the unsafe actions that so many of us have noticed. What they will see is a documentary that shows what is really happening, good or bad, in the wildland firefighting profession. This documentary will help us to make things safer for all by recognizing the good and the bad ways we continue to do business. The public will get some entertainment and educational value and be less the wiser as we find additional ways to correct latent factors that continue to allow active failures that result in accidents, injuries, and deaths.


P.S. – After the release of “Deadliest Catch”, numerous latent safety factors that allowed active failures were identified in the Alaskan crab fishing profession. Many of these latent factors were exposed and corrected as a result of a documentary that many in the crab fishing industry thought showed too many safety violations and showed the industry in a bad light to the world. The public loved it and the profession became safer. See any parallels?
1/19 You gotta be kidding me,

I work here on the ANF and I have heard nothing about 30% raise for just this forest or any other. I received a call from a good friend to day asking me about this. Who did you hear this from? Because I would like to find out more.

I would have to agree that I was less than impressed by some of the things being shown on the show Into The Firestorm. The jumpers not wearing shelters, gloves, and having there sleeves rolled up. I know that they will probably laugh about it but they should be the ones leading the pack and they do a very poor job of it. The other thing that disturbed me was some of the things the Hotshots said and did. They made some comments that just portrayed Hotshots and other firefighters as a bunch of ignorant "caveman" to use some of their own terms. I was disappointed to say the least on the lack of Professionalism they showed in front of the cameras at times and hope they are cringing at how they were being portrayed this is not how I want my crew to act.

Concerned Captain
1/19 RE: Into the Firestorm

I also noticed that the jumpers were not wearing gloves or shelters, but I thought it was while they were cold trailing and mopping up. I'm not sure if that's what was going on, but that's what it looked like to me.

On a side note, as I am young and have mostly done what I've been told to on fires, where can I find agency-specific (NPS, BLM, USFS) PPE lists, and a list of when certain PPE is required? I.e., are gloves required to be worn while mopping up on small (<1/10 ac) fires, are shelters required to be worn at ALL times, or are there exceptions when they don't have to be worn, are chaps required to be worn whenever you are working around (not with) a saw, etc? I'm not looking for someone to tell me what the regulations are. I know what I've been told about PPE in these situations, and I'm interested in seeing the regulations for myself. Having a document to reference would be really nice.

Young and Dumb in Region One
1/19 I was wondering if others would jump on some of the Discovery program's
safety issues. Announcing to the world that you don't know where the fire is
hardly inspires confidence in a crew's willingness to follow the 10 standard
orders ... Do these guys really represent the wildland fire community? I've
known plenty of superintendents and engine bosses who would have chewed
somebody up one side and down the other for not having all their proper gear
on. I think the program was trying too hard for the "groovy" side of things.

Still Out there as an AD
1/19 NPS cap'n and AZ firefighter. Right on with the discovery program. My thoughts were what could have been a really good program was compromised by showing the blatant disregard for safety that was demonstrated in that presentation. No gloves, sleeves rolled up, no shelters, falling trees with out checking the area with people below them, and comments about "other people follow strict regulations, we do it our way" to name just a few. Yet for the FS as an agency which keeps talking about a change in culture to allow this to continue to happen let alone show it as the way they do business on national television, is very short sighted as it demonstrates poor performance by their employees in the film as well as the liaison people that should have been assigned to the production.

Today I was very close to sending a e-mail to my friends in the F.S. W.O. F&AM group expressing my frustration with this. I too spent portions of today's classes in the College where I teach discussing the irresponsible actions shown on this program with students in Wildland fire classes, and will repeat the same discussions tomorrow with other classes. The fortunate thing is that kids in class with one or more fire season recognized these bone head actions by "the best of the best?" Sad statement on the professionalism of these "best of the best".


1/19 To Arizona Firefighter and NPS Captain:

Yes I too watched Into the Firestorm last night and saw the same thing. Smoke jumpers with no fireshelters on. My husband who also fights fire both on a volunteer department and as militia for the FS saw the same thing. There is no excuse for that! Health and safety Code direction (I looked it up today!) is that you shall wear a fireshelter when on the fireline. There is no reference in there that the rule does not apply to smoke jumpers! The neat thing about the show (some of it was a little hard to get into...) but for once the forest service had top billing and then we have a group of people on a TV with safety violations. I realize the general viewing public will not get it, but lots of firefighters (many outside the agency) watched that show last night, and we have people on the show on a fireline with no fire shelters. What a poor example and impression they made.

Drip Torch
1/19 NPS Cap'n,

How are factual portrayals of the way firefighting is being done ever going to hurt wildland firefighting? Yes, there may have been some minor safety violations, but I can guarantee that any smokejumper who wasn't wearing their shelter had it within a few feet of the camera.... and any hotshot not wearing their gloves also had a reason....

If we and the public are going to learn, we have to show it like it is and not sugar coat it. Wildland firefighting is dangerous business... hence the title, "Dangerous Seasons: Into the Firestorm". I applaud the Redmond Jumpers and Prineville Hotshots for "showing it like it is" and the sawyer who felt comfortable enough to say "We are going to kick Ass" on film. Showing it like it is "kicks ass" and free from being too politically correct.

I have heard the people who were involved in the documentary actually attended a complete wildland fire training program and cut line and laid hose like the rest of us. They received the same training we provide to each and every new federal firefighter.

My biggest concern is from past "documentaries" on wildland firefighting that got too much "agency" input (possibly censorship?).... too much CYA on the way wildland firefighting is really accomplished. My secondary concern is that the "agencies" will not value or punish people because of the lessons learned from this first documentary series that was basically given a green light with out agency input prior to release.

NPS Cap'n, it is best to watch the whole series... compare and contrast... and take what is good from it and use it. There are lessons to be learned. The best thing is to see the hazards of the profession, the people making perceived or factual "Human Errors", and what is really going on in the minds of the folks making decisions.

It is the first time a documentary has been given such freedom to "show it like it is". It is just another step in the Doctrinal Review process as I see it. Anyone within the Forest Service can tell you that.... if they read the e-mail chain expressing concern about what the series would contain without prior viewing of it. The e-mail was more about concerns that agency image could be tarnished than what is really happening on the ground.... A big barrier to doctrinal review and safety.

I give an A* to the first night of the series and cannot wait to watch the next hour.

This show was cool to sit and watch after several glasses of wine. My girlfriend was all into this show. 3 years on a shot crew for me and she is from the east, so it was great,,,  for her to learn some stuff ( she is from the non fire side). I don't want to start the shot vs jumpers thing (((( beat to death)))). But the ppe thing was bad.
Also  how the ihc sawyer cutting the snag down, and finding some one below .. very close...  Watching this on TV ( not caught up in the moment working burning cutting ) brought me down to earth. 


1/19 We are hearing the Angeles National Forest is in the final stages of breaking away from 462 Special Pay with the Southern California Forests (ANF, BDF, CNF, LPF) and develop it's own Special Pay request to the RO, WO and OPM. I'm hearing they call this a "test Forest". Testing is for computer applications and fire hose. This is the first time I've heard we ever tested pay for employees doing the same job and living in the same difficult housing market.

Special Pay was developed due to unequal pay from people doing the same job outside of Federal employment. This unequal pay was documented in the 2002 Special Pay update the 4 So Cal Forests completed, documenting large pay gaps for every local department from San Diego to Monterey to LA County to San Bernardino County. There is no difference from ANF's pay issues and the other neighboring Forests.

Significant raises up to 30% could be given to 462 series employees on the Angeles, leaving the BDF, CNF and LPF with increased recruitment and retention problems and low moral as employees on those Forests try and figure out why regional and local leadership allowed this to happen.

I hope Regional Fire Management, Forest Supervisors and Forest Fire Management Officers from the BDF, CNF and LPF will meet ASAP to discuss this. This must not be approved by the RF and sent onto the WO without the BDF, CNF and LPF allowed to develop our own cooperator pay figures and retention stats to go along with the ANF's. These 4 Forests have been doing So. Cal Special Pay together since 1989. Why are the 3 other Forests being left behind?

Any ANFers out there want to confirm or deny this is happening and tell your BDF, CNF and LPF fellow Firefighters right now, "we are all in So. Cal and we are all in this together and we are not breaking away!?

You gotta be kidding me!
1/18 There's a new announcement for the 60th Year Anniversary of the Del Rosa Hotshots here:  Del Rosa Reunion
1/18 Here's a reminder about the anniversary date of an Infamous Fire:

Canberra, Australia, January 18, 2003. When fire swept into the western suburbs of Canberra, the national capital of Australia, four civilians were killed, 500 homes were destroyed, an internationally famed astronomical observatory burned, and extensive tracts of commercial and recreational softwood plantations went up in smoke.

From our Wildland Fire Event Calendar

Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire
1/18 Just got back from a 6,000 acre fire on the Bessey RD in the Nebraska NF (yes they have trees there). Primarily a grass fire but the timber was involved. Type 3 IMT, 2 type 2 crews and a BUNCH of type 6 engines. It is quite dry in NB and SD and unless we see some good moisture it could be a rip roaring season around here. Be safe out there, we may be seeing each other a little early this year.

1/18 This may be old news to some:
I think it was Friday the 13th when I saw this story on the local news. Apparently the FBI arrested three men in Auburn, Ca and accused them of terrorist activities. The men were plotting to bomb federal buildings, namely Forest Service buildings, in the Foresthill area of the Tahoe National Forest. The men are apparently members of the ELF (Earth Liberation Front), a domestic terrorist organization.
I think this is an issue we all need to think about a little more. I think that many people may have a relatively safe feeling about terrorism because of the fact we are so far from the major metropolitan areas where terrorism is most likely to strike(those "big four" employees in SoCal are likely excepted). I know I did! But this incident has shown me that we aroward an all-risk type of organizatiHow FS employees have had this type of ning?
This is only one example of probably thousands each year where local and Federal Authorities, as well as Forest Service law enforcement, have come together to literally save the day. The mood would have been very somber here had these individuals not performed their duties to the fullest extent. I would like to publicly thank these men and women for protecting our extended family! We have enough crap to worry about without these nuts running around compromising our safety!
1/18 Re: Into The Firestorm

I tried to watch and found it hard to get into. I think this has potential to hurt wildland fire fighting. They had repeated shots of people not wearing gloves, people not wearing shelters, etc. Showing all this unsafe behavior isn't good. Somebody should have picked that up during production...and it shouldn't have happened in the first place!

NPS Cap'n
1/18 After watching Into the Firestorm, I was thrilled to see such a well docemented show. The footage and interviews were great.
However, I was a bit disappointed in what looked like some SJ's not wearing fire shelters on the line. Did anyone else see this? It seems as our country's elite, they should be setting the example. As a wildland fire instructor, I know I will have students watching this show, and I KNOW I will have to answer questions as to why they are told they HAVE to wear their shelters at all times, but the SJ's don't.

Any other views out there?
I'm just an engine slug though.

1/18 Ab,
This announcement is from the NIOSH website. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/firehome.phpl.  The NIOSH Tuolumne Fire report should be released within a few weeks.
vfd cap'n
NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP) to hold Public Stakeholders’ Meeting on March 22nd, 2006 in Washington D.C

NIOSH will be holding a public stakeholders’ meeting on March 22nd, 2006, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. The purpose of the meeting is to seek input to ensure that the FFFIPP is meeting the needs of stakeholders, and to identify ways in NIOSH might improve upon the program to increase its impact on the safety and health of fire fighters across the United States. A similar meeting was held in January 1998 to provide valuable stakeholder input as NIOSH was planning and establishing the FFFIPP. Detailed information will be provided in a federal register notice that will be posted in the near future.
1/18 Re: Into the Firestorm

The announcer said it would follow the same crews but also move to CA next week.

In CA it's on at 10 on Discovery Channel. Don't know if it's on earlier as well.

Good reporting of the lumps and the bumps, the lessons learned as well as the dirt. All but the smoke and the smell.

NorCal Tom

1/18 Lobotomy,

I know CDF Helitack out of San Diego will be featured on the 24th.

CDF Jake 
1/17 I'm watching "Into the Firestorm" now. Redmond SJs on the 2 acre Echo Mt Fire and 
Prineville IHC on the northern edge of the Burnt Cabin Fire, two remote fires in Oregon. 
Nice job! Good insight into tactics and the the decision making process.

This is the first of a series.


1/17 Re: "Into the Firestorm" aired tonight on the Discovery Channel.

I thought the premiere was an excellent depiction of hotshots and smokejumpers.... 
does anyone know if they cover any other aspects of wildland firefighting such as 
engines, helitack, and incident management?

1/17 Dan, I'm forwarding a helpful email. Ab.
1/17 Hi,

My name is Dan Thau, I have just returned from a NOLS course in Patagonia Chile. I am certified as a Wilderness First Responder and in adult CPR. I am very interested in getting into wild land firefighting and would be willing to do whatever is necessary to get on a crew this season.

Thanks, please get back to me.

1/17 I am looking for info on a forest service "fire intern" program I have heard of. I am currently working on a degree and would like any info i can get. Like if your various assignments will be in one particular area or if you would be assigned to 3 or 4 different regions in the course of the internship? Is it year round employment? I have tried to find info on the FS web site but haven't had much luck if any one has info or a link i would greatly appreciate it.


Look here: www.wfap.net/index.phpl You can always find it on the Links page under training and education. Ab.

1/16 Eastern New Mexico Fire Restrictions

Finally the State put in fire restrictions, but not enough as normal for New Mexico. They
never think ahead that it is easier to lift them than it is to put them in. We are so damn dry
in the central parts of the State.

I ask all of you fellow New Mexicans to email and call the Governor’s office and ask them
to add all the counties that do not get any rain out of this storm.


Jeff C

www.emnrd.state.nm.us/ restrictions<snip>.pdf (pdf file)

1/13 Heavy rain here this afternoon...strong gusts from the west and southwest...pounding the side of the house.
The snow advisory was lifted for our area and has moved strictly to the mountains to the west of us.
Strong wind advisories for here all day Saturday and most of Sunday.
We have popcorn, hot chocolate, cold beer and plenty of cold cuts to watch football on the telly...and if the power goes out...crank up the 'ol genny...

It would, however, be a GREAT day to be in the duck blind with some hot coffee and some brown cough syrup.


Where is here, roughly? Ab.

1/13 -- old guy,

Sorry, been on vacation and I really enjoyed the time off!!! While I have been away, I saw that the discussion on safety changed to the Cerro Grande fire and the folks who where exposed to additional hazards of the trade such as cancers.

I will give you an example of my work "regarding the paper" on the Swiss Cheese Model when it is finished... and I can guarantee anyone concerned with its outcome, it will be "peer reviewed" and more importantly, fact checked for accuracy.

The most important fact is that it will that it WILL come from ideas, suggestions, and observations from the Swiss Cheese Model. Most of my posts on They Said have been "peer reviewed" and "fact checked" and suggested from the wildland fire community and not scientists.

The posts I have made on They Said that don't meet "review or factual evidence" have been quickly corrected or edited by my peers as I have so humbly appreciated. I am a participant in the learning process.... Are you?

I wonder if others can be humble in the learning process? I am the most humble person when it comes to learning and education.... for true education, it works both ways.

I am not one to spew BS.... Speak facts or speak science.


P.S. - please don't gig me on my grade because I don't use spell check in my e-mail program. I type by the hip.

P.S.S. - please don't gig me when I introduce or inter-relate several conceptual ideas on safety at the same time.......... We expect our incident commanders to be flooded with "information overload" and make "competent" decisions..... ANYONE INTERESTED IN SAFETY should be getting to the point that they understand that "people F**k Up" and make mistakes. We have to design systems and protections that prevent human failures....

Lets get to the point somehow that we prevent or reduce the human factors failures that are allowed by latent failures.... that result in near misses, incidents, accidents, and tragedies that happen to us all.
1/13 A friend sent this single web-based resource on emergency preparedness planning
for Pandemic Influenza organized by topic and level of jurisdiction. It's from
Washington (not DC).

Excellent job.

1/12 Scanner 2

Which site are you listening to for CDF LNU?


1/12 Hi "I Hate Birds", sending you a hug!

This bird flu thing scares me too, mostly for my sons who are cytokine storm age and for all of you.

I have some ideas.

  • Make your personal and family food, water, meds preparation as best you can.
  • Begin to work on your fire department right now to come up with a pandemic plan, including
    1. definition of scope of duties and which ones are essential
    2. cross training for essential duties for if someone is out of commission for a time
    3. sufficient supply of PPE for 3 waves of 4-6 weeks each. Stockpiling masks is important because they will not be available when everyone wants them. All employees are entitled to a safe work environment. You are entitled to PPE.
    4. supply of antivirals (tamiflu, relenza, amantidine). The strain of birdflu in Turkey is amantidine sensitive (ie not resistant to the antiviral amantidine) - gene sequencing shows this is so. Amantidine, unlike tamiflu, it is generic, inexpensive, and available if your fire department can purchase it now... and presuming that the Turkey strain is the one that goes pandemic, which at this moment is an unknown.
    5. guidelines for staying home when you or your family members are sick; people who are sick must stay home.
    6. guidelines and training to minimize contamination risk to your family. This is donning PPE and taking it off and disposing of it, taking a disinfecting shower.

I went to our county health emergency preparedness (pandemic flu) meeting today of all the leaders in the county medical arena, including hospital administrators, directors of retirement living facilities, first responders, OES, Red Cross, mental health people, etc - about 40 people. Main issues that came up were need for communication and coordination between groups, for chain of command in communication (ICS), PPE, education of the public, way to get the word out so people can stay at home when they're ill and avoid overloading a medical system that has little surge capacity... and avoid potentially infecting themselves at the hospital. Everyone was working so hard to not express anxiety that it was surreal, and for a couple of little Red Cross ladies, they did not have a clue what we're up against for what duration if this comes to pass. Good first try nonetheless.

Action helps. There are things we can do. There are people who have been researching this and know quite a lot.

Send an email if you want to talk in person.


1/12 We have a terrific website and many publications that we can provide free of charge
concerning wildland fires. It can be found at www.livingwithfire.info.

Sonya Sistare
Wildfire Project Coordinator
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
5305 Mill Street, Reno, NV 89503

Hi Sonya, I added it to the Wildfire Education links page. Ab.

1/11 Next Tuesday, January 17,2006 the Discovery Channel will be premiering a 3 part series titled "Into the Firestorm".

During the 2005 Fire Season, the Discovery Channel sent camera crews throughout the West Coast and rode along with the Redmond Smokejumpers, Mill Creek Hot Shots and San Diego Unit CDF Heli-Tack Crew.

The following two consecutive Tuesdays will also be brand new episodes. Please make time to watch these shows and tell a friend to watch, as every lit bit helps in the ratings. Check your local listing for broadcast times as it varies throughout the country.

Matt S
Fire Apparatus Engineer-San Diego Unit, CDF

Thanks for the heads-up, Matt. Ab.

1/11 Hey Abs,

To tell you the truth, I'm scared shi%less of the BIRD FLU. Not for me, but for my beautiful wife and 7 month baby boy. I work for a FD in Nor Cal and we talk about the possible Pandemic frequently. I saw a post about two weeks ago that said take care of your families first, but if we do that how do we as first line responders corner the people that might come down with this mid-evil crap? I have to go to work you guys have to go to work (we all do in the fire service). I feel like my "SA" meter is broken, what do we do if the sh&t does hit the fan? Run? Face it and try to beat it? If this crap does in fact surface will this be a defining moment for all of us?

I Hate Birds
1/11 Ab,

Forgive me if I mumble, as it is after midnight here, but I wish to advise all of you of what is happening here in OK.

I cannot speak for any other states as I am assigned here at the ICP. As of today, or yesterday the 3rd, we have burned almost 400,000 acres and have lost 220 homes. Here in the Southern Region there is a multi state agreement called the “Compact”. It is like a Mutual Aid Agreement, except it has a discounted rate for various state resources in this Region. As of yesterday the Federal Disaster Declaration had not been signed in DC. Therefore the state of Oklahoma is carrying all the cost of the suppression efforts and is ordering all the resources it needs for right now through that process. So, many of you are not seeing the orders that are being generated. Only a few of us Overhead are from out of the Region due to the fact that Nationally several orders could not be filled during the New Year’s Holiday. They do not use hand crews at all with exception of a few BIA. All the resources are Type 6 and 7 Engines or Tractor Plows. These fires are very fast and last only a few days at the most but are very Extreme in their fire behavior. We have pre-positioned Divisions of resources throughout central and eastern Oklahoma. I expect that if the Federal Declaration is signed you will see more orders in the Federal system. The long range forecast has us planning to be here for the next 30 days at a minimum.

I haven’t had time to read what is being posted, but thought you folks out there wondering what is going on would like the facts.

Sign me,

Be safe. Try to get some quality sleep. Ab.

1/11 Another retirement:

"Joe Pilot", best of luck to you in your next chapter. There is life after.....


1/11 Just a note that the National Wildfire Suppression Association is going to be holding it's 15th Annual Conference in Reno at the Peppermill from February 14 -17th. We have some many great things planned, workshops, Keynote Speaker Bruce Vincent, Agency speakers, presentation on Loss Control, Presentation on Regulations under Department of Labor for Private Sector, Mandatory Trainers Workshop and as always our Annual Auction to help benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation! Plus a 2 day vendor show. If you are interested you can see more info on the conference by going to www.nwsa.us and clicking on the link for the 2006 Annual Convention!!! We encourage all to attend, and find out more about the private sector!

Debbie Miley
1/11 Scanner 2

I have just conducted some tests with Scanner 2. My daughter works in ECC at St Helena CDF/Napa Co. Fire . We made contact by phone and I had her transmit on LNU east and LNU west along with Napa Co freq. from Mt Vaca, Mt St Helena, Walker Ridge and the transmitter antenna in Sacramento. There was no other traffic on at that time and I still could not pick anything up. All of the traffic I hear is "right speaker" traffic. Any suggestions?


1/11 Hello Firefighters,

I am looking for a picture of a home that was owned by a CDF Captain in Southern California that was the only home left standing after a wildland fire. I believe that it was in the 90's sometime. We are doing a project with our Kindergarten and First grade class in regards to the importance of a defensible space around your home. I remember that the picture was very striking as the owner had surrounded his home with an "ice plant" that was very hard to burn and as a result was the only home left standing in the entire neighborhood. If you have any information or can point me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it.

I can be reached at hubhome@ msn.com


Sandie Hubbard

Readers, does anyone know of such a photo? Sandie, here's the only photo we have of defensible space on this site, from the Lost Cannon Fire, Walker CA 6/16/02. You can access the photo description, photographer, etc via the Fire 11 photo page. Click on "Cannon Defensible" under the thumbnail. Thanks for working with the kids to develop safe and prepared citizens. Ab.

1/11 Greetings all,

Fires are blowing and going here in our area, it seems that this is an everyday occurrence anymore. We worked several fires again today. Had an opportunity for a helitack to save our butts by knocking down the head so we could get dug in and on it. We appreciate the help that we are seeing from all parties involved, today alone that involved 2 different helitacks, 1 DIVS out of CA, an ENG crew out of MO and numerous Texas Forest Service plows.

Ken Hancock, the FF that was struck by a train responding to the wildfire is improving everyday, the hospital is saying that he maybe able to go home later this week. He may have to have a skin graft replaced because it doesn't want to take. To this day he doesn't remember what happened, perhaps that is best.

Thank you to everyone for all of your prayers and thoughts. A very special thank you to Vicki Minor and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, your help has been immeasurable. The response from the all of the wildland fire community has made me proud to be a FF.

The New Summerfield VFD where Ken serves, took a donation that was made to them by an Insurance Organization and bought materials and went out to the Hancock's house and built a wheelchair ramp for when Ken is released from the hospital. They have his rehab set up with a home healthcare when he is released.

Thank you again and STAY SAFE,


1/11 Firefighters with kids ages 2 to 9 years:

Here's one opportunity to give your kids some protection against bird flu virus H5N1. This came across my desk yesterday. I know one adult who has been part of the adult clinical trial. My guess is that volunteers will step up quickly, so if you're interested, best call right away. Mellie

Children Sought As Volunteers For US Govt Flu Vaccination Study
If interested, contact the number below.

120 kids are being sought across the usa, now....like in NOW.
Age range 2 - 9 yrs old.
4 study visits over 6 months. will draw blood samples.
I only know the site in the LA area, in the Valley.
If you are interested, call 310-265-1623
Peninsula Research Associates, Inc.
email: dcappy@pratrials.com
1/10 Retired John,

When you were there, you may not have heard any discussion about elevated cancer rates in Los Alamos, but there has been a lot discussion and research. Google:

One of the documents that comes up is this one:
http://hsc.unm.edu/epiccpro/redesign/LAC Cancer Rate Study--Phase 1.pdf (pdf file)

That study shows some increased rates over the reference population for certain types of cancer in Los Alamos. Some rates were lower than the reference population. There's lots of reading on the topic.

Sin Nombre
1/10 Ab,

I don't really know what kind of fire season awaits us in 2006. In Colorado we already have state and county fire bans in place, but the Governor has yet to declare that the "whole state is on fire."

One thing I can predict is the anniversaries that we'll see this year:

* 50th anniversary of the 1956 Inaja Fire,
* 40th anniversary of the 1966 Loop Fire,
* 30th anniversary of the 1976 Battlement Creek Fire,
*   5th anniversary of the 2001 Thirtymile Fire.

We'll see whether USFS Chief Bosworth will make appointments at the end of the season to produce a "2007 Task Force Report: A Plan to Further, Further Reduce the Chances of Men and Women Being Burned While Fighting Fires."

vfd cap'n
1/9 Well it looks like the Snow was the Type 3 team needed in Colorado. Since I have a cabin in the area I was really interested in this one. Looking the news tonight it seems they got 6-8 inches of the God-sent class A foam last night and really put a hurt on the Dancing Devil they had on their hands. All I can say is thanks to the Colorado Fire guys and girls, and I am glad the wind did not blow it up the canyon to Cuchara and take my beloved hiding spot at my cabin where even my cell phone does not work.

Jeff C
1/9 fires
Well it does seem like it is in the works to be a bad fire year..
well my boots are greased my gear is packed and my engine is
fueled up and set to go....
i have gone for katrina to fires..
but i like the fires better..
1/9 Ab,

Really odd to see fire activity in Colorado...in
January. Community evacuations? Homes lost? A
state fire ban? I've lived here most of my life and
can't remember winter conditions this bad before.
Sure, a really wet spring is always possible, but if
not the fire season here could be early and

Here's some news clips:

www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/feeds/ap/2006/01/09/ap2438821.phpl http://cbs4denver.com/topstories/local_story_009194212.phpl

Guess it's time to put down the leftover pumpkin pie
and get back to the gym, eh?


Ditto for AZ, NM, TX and OK. Maybe no rains until the monsoon. Could be a year like 1996 in the SW, eh? That was quite a season. Ab.

1/9 First, my condolences go to anyone who has lost a loved one due to any form of cancer. We are currently dealing with cancer in our family as my mother-in-law is undergoing Chemo Therapy after surgery for breast cancer.

As a person assigned to the Cerro Grande Fire I feel compelled to comment on the current discussion on cancer risk/infection now going on.

Los Alamos is first and foremost a research facility. Yes, nuclear research is a part of the equation but it should be remembered it is a research, not a test site. The "bomb" was tested over 200 miles to the south at Trinity Site, now a part of White Sands Missile Range. Could there be some form of contamination in the area? Probably not more than in any other location.

During the "Cold War" testing was done above ground on the Nevada Test Range, and later underground test were also performed there. These test impacted many communities down wind such as Caliente Nevada and Saint George Utah which both have a much higher than average cancer rate.

Other bomb development was done at Hanford Washington.

All of these locations have been burned by wildland fires at some time. Crews were given radiological monitoring badges on the Nevada Test Site (ask the ANF guys). I don't know if the same was done at Hanford. No such actions were taken at the Cerro Grande Fire or the fire (1979 I think) which also burned part of the Lab area.

While assigned to the Cerro Grande Fire I had frequent contact with an ex jumper who came by the helibase to chat. He had been employed at the lab for over 20 yrs; since getting his PhD for which jumping paid a big part of. I asked him about the potential for contamination from radioactive material. He said there was no more risk there than other in other areas. In fact, he stated the local cancer percentages were no different than other cites of the same size (appox 14,000). He further said there were numerous air monitoring stations (I think 14) located around the lab and community and the EPA and health departments regularly check the data from these sites. He claimed there were extremely small amounts of radiological material at the lab.

I didn't get the impression he was giving the "party line" or trying to simply BS me. He was simply one FF talking to another.

I lived in New Mexico for years, worked on the Gila and Cibola, fought fire in the area near Los Alamos. I often hiked the areas on the Santa Fe and Bandelier NM for recreation. At no time while living and working there did I ever hear any discussion of an elevated cancer rate in that vicinity.

Perhaps the most useful way to answer this question is to query the New Mexico Health Dept. and National Cancer Institute to see what statistics they have. It would also be helpful to see if data exist for the cancer rates among Fire Fighters. I doubt Wildland FF are singled out and we have many environmental factors which could contribute to cancer rates to say nothing of personal behaviors (smoking for example) or family histories.

My comments most likely won't put this issue to rest but I can tell you I feel safe enough to live in the area.

Best wishes for a happy and fire safe New Year,

USFS Retired
1/8 Hi abs, all--

The thread regarding los alamos intrigues me, as I was on the Air Force Fire on the Nevada Test Site last season, and there were some reports of some pretty strange skin reactions, etc on this fire, too.

Of course, officially we were never exposed to radiation.....but then, why did they screen all of us with Geiger counters as we came off the line, and why did the counters go BEEEP when passed over the soles of our boots and the bends of our knees and elbows? Why does my pee now glow in the dark? And why were we discouraged from filing CA-2's because the IMT was allegedly going to file some sort of blanket claim, proof of which I have never yet seen? I'm beginning to wonder if there was ever an Air Force Fire at all..... officially.

I would like to know if anyone else on the Air Force Fire had any weird experiences out there or heard any of the same rumors I did. If anybody from El Cariso is lurking, I would like to know if there is truth to the rumor I heard that one of their crewmembers that had a documented exposure at Los Alamos developed similar symptoms on the Air Force. Usually I don't give credence to this kind of hearsay, but given the circumstances, I'm not so sure.


Class C Sagebrush Faller
1/8 Not only did the LP lose Wes Shook, we also lost one hell of an Air-Attack.
Jim Chestnut AA-07 retired also and he will truly be missed. Good luck Jim,
and try not to have to much fun with the new house.

Wes thanks for everything that you have done for me also.


1/8 Hey Mellie,

It's all pretty much catch and release between seasons like this anyway.

Kind of reminds me of taking the engine out to flow test this one dry hydrant
on a private property pond fed by a hot springs. We tried explaining to the
landowner how the weighted line and bobber helped us calculate volume
and displacement. We almost had him convinced until he saw the baited hook.

Those sure were some nice looking trout, I mean, it's sure nice having a
reliable water supply.

vfd cap'n
1/8 Howdy Mellie,

Don't worry about me, keep up the info. We just need to keep the info accurate. I'm not saying it has not been.

Here is an example of what can happen when accurate info is misunderstood by the public. A small town in Nor-Cal is threatened by a large river that is rising. In the past 20 yrs this area has been evacuated 3 times and the gallant crew of the Minnow has saved the day every time. Now the townspeople don't heed the warning to prepare for an evacuation because their perception is "we've never flooded before, it won't flood now. The crew of the Minnow will save us" and they even get mad at the local authorities when they advised them to prepare for evacuation. A few years ago during a big flood, a medical response was needed. As most VFDs do, the pagers and the siren sounded. The phone at the station rang for a hour because the town folks panicked and thought it was the notice to evacuate. What I'm trying to do is show that information (even good and accurate information) can put the public into a panic.

I am not saying that the information should be withheld. It just has to be accurate and not misleading.. As I said in an earlier post. we must prepare for the worst. If its predictable - its preventable. I was set off by a post that would lead some people to believe that a bird that migrated here needed to be tested just in case it had the dreaded illness. The fact remains that migratory birds from the infected area have been migrating here for eons. We can't stop them at the border.

Two nights ago I attended a meeting with 1 of the local service clubs to inform them of the risk of flooding and the condition of our Levy. I gave it to them straight. It's ugly. But, They now know we have a plan to take care of them. They will prepare, and be ready next time. I will be meeting with the other service club next week. Let's just call it damage control. In case you're wondering, that little town is Hamilton City, Ca. The river is the Sacramento. The Levy is approx. 100 years old and in terrible shape. A local grassroots level group has been getting closer and closer to getting Federal funding to build a new Levy system around the town. If all the stars and planets line up right the new levy could get here around 2010 or so. We basically had the last 9 years off. 1997 almost drowned us all. We won't survive another flood of the likes of 1997. Thankfully we are getting support from our elected officials, both local and far, far away.

When you see t he news reports about flooding in Nor-Cal, keep us in your thoughts and if the Bird Flu does hit us as predicted by some folks, pray for us all.

AB, I'm getting windy'er as I grow older.
Never a Boy Scout but always prepared,


1/7 hahahaha, vfd cap't, you're a crack up! fishing eh?

I have never advocated anyone leaving his or her "profession" or their post. If you look at everything I've written from day one, I have said that families must be cared for first before we truly have the freedom of mind to make the best choices for what to do in the given moment. At least that's what I need in order to have the freedom to focus as completely as possible on the problem or situation at hand.

There's a show on PBS tonight in half an hour at 9PM Pacific called Killer Flu that includes scenarios where family members and coworkers talk about issues that come up in families and for first responders as the pandemic flu moves through a community. Dr Osterholm, one of my academic heroes, talks about what is needed to get ready for the worst case scenario. He's currently working for Dept of Homeland Security. (He'd say he's no hero, just doing his job, but he's an inspiration to me nonetheless. He stays on focus and pulls no punches.) I hope you get to see it.

I must also stay on focus and pull no punches. You all have taught me a lot about the integrity of that kind of behavior.



1/7 Ab have once again gotten together with Jim of The Supply Cache to arrange this offer:


Happy New Year to you, all the "Abs", and all your loyal readers. I hope everyone's holidays went well. We appreciate the collaboration to provide a discount to the readers of "They Said It". In the interest of drumming up additional business during our slow months and continuing to serve the community with the best selection of gear around, I want to extend another discount promotion to your readers for the month of January. Just like the last time, it is good for web orders only. The discount code to use is WFC26. This will get you 10% off orders of $100 or more. Happy shopping!

Thanks again for all you do to support the community. I am off to Sterling Colorado for the Great Plains Wildfire College and then to Boise for a board meeting of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Everyone, don't forget to renew your 52 club memberships for 2006!

Jim Felix
The Supply Cache, Inc

1/7 RE: Radio Channel Congestion

COMT makes mention of 'linking' repeaters on a large incident. This permits different branches to communicate with each other, even though each branch is utilizing a separate command repeater.

This has been available as standard equipment components available from the NIFC for many years. To "link" or "not-to-link" different branches of the same incident is NOT a Communications Unit's decision. This decision is made by the OPSC. The Communications Unit merely provides the equipment and technical expertise to implement this option. The Communications Unit Leader has a responsibility to explain the ramifications of each alternative to the OPSC.

The same is true with regard to Tactical frequencies and how they are assigned to specific divisions. Again, the Communications Unit secures these resources but it is the Operations Section that determines which divisions shall be placed and combined on a specific tactical frequency.

With regard to interoperability equipment, there continues to be more and more available. COMT makes a valid point that equipment from specific agencies is needed in advance to insure proper operation. Without going into specific technical details, it is fair to say that not all interoperability equipment functions as well as might be expected. It's just not 'plug and play'.


1/7 re: bird flu preparations


I encourage everybody to have a general emergency preparedness plan for their families, to include a supply of food, water, medicine/first aid supplies, etc.

Yet, I have to question Mellie's advice that wildland firefighters make preparations to abandon their profession in event of a bird flu pandemic. Staying at home is not an option for most of us.

However, if any firefighter is really making those kind of plans, I suggest they make application to the New Orleans Police Department. I hear they are hiring now, and one could live up to a not-so-fine tradition of public service until a crisis comes.

vfd cap'n
1/7 Ab,

Just got word that Wes Shook BC from the LP is retiring. From one R5
aviation TEAM member, thanks for all your help and support throughout the
years. Enjoy your time off, you have certainly earned it. Good Luck!


Congrats, Wes, you made it. Thanks for all your contributions to aviation and otherwise. Readers, for those who don't know Wes personally, we'll be loosing a very fine instructor when he retires. Wes, when you retire please don't become a stranger to theysaid. Ab.

1/7 Cerro Grande/Cancer risk:

Dear Ab, JerseyBoy, Ms. Larson, Mellie, Lance, and fire dogs,

Out of respect for Doc Smith, (father) and entire family, in my limited knowledge I don't know if Kirk Smith's (Mormon Lake) passing had anything to do with his exposure to risks at Los Alamos but he, along with many others, was a great firefighter, husband, father and all around good guy who at a young age (37, I believe) left us on (9/11/02).

I would never think of imposing on Kirk's loved ones about information needed for a correlation between Kirk's crew's assignment and health risks, but I wanted to mention his dedication to fire and our outfit. I feel awkward posting because I am not the best source for info, but Kirk was well liked in our and the fire community and is still greatly missed.



Thanks for posting Redwings. Kirk was a great guy by all accounts. We lost a good one. Ab.

1/6 Bird Flu Virus and families being prepared:

From Firescribe

Thanks, Mellie, for keeping us heads up.

It seems the tone and level of federal government information is changing, at least as I read it on their websites. They're now telling people to stock up. They're even advising parents to have a plan for home schooling, if kids have to stay home longer than initially thought! To me this stepped up govt direction is a trigger point for re-sizing up the threat.

WHO (World Health Org) also seems worried about the outbreak in Turkey and Europe is very worried.

New York Times
New Bird Flu Cases in Turkey Put Europe on 'High Alert'

"I'm not sure we've seen a cluster like this in terms of numbers, and certainly it's a concern," said Maria Cheng, spokeswoman for the Division of Epidemic Preparedness at the World Health Organization. "Is the virus being transmitted more easily from birds to humans, or even from humans to humans? We need to put all the pieces together before we can come to conclusions."

Article from Reuters
Worried about bird flu? Stock up, Health and Human Services advises

This website from Health and Human Services is fairly new: www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/tab3.phpl
"Pandemic Flu Planning Checklist for Individuals and Families", www.pandemicflu.gov/planguide/checklist.phpl lists the following:

  • Teaching children to wash hands frequently and appropriately, covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, and modeling the correct behavior
  •  Having ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, soups, bottled water and cleaning supplies on-hand for an extended stay at home.
  • Having any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes and vitamins.
  • Talking with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick or what will be needed to care for them in another home.

Items to have on hand for an extended stay at home:

Examples of food and non-perishables

Examples of medical, health, and emergency supplies

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, and soups
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter or nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Crackers
  • Canned juices
  • Bottled water
  • Canned or jarred baby food and formula
  • Pet food
  • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment
  • Soap and water, or alcohol-based hand wash
  • Medicines for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Thermometer
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Vitamins
  • Fluids with electrolytes
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Portable radio
  • Manual can opener
  • Garbage bags
  • Tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers
1/6 Bird Flu Update: The virus is changing.

The next two days will tell if we're only dealing with a H5N1 virus that is better at transmitting bird to human (which is of concern in and of itself) or if it's gained the capability of transmitting human to human and going pandemic. I'm working my contacts to keep abreast of info coming out of Turkey, but the growing numbers of families infected and what they mean are cause for concern. It's the children and teens who are dying. WHO  is clearly concerned: WHO Teams are on their way to Turkey. Given the number of infected and the numbers of large family CLUSTERS infected, the virus has changed.

My friends, if you do not have extra food in your pantries, please add some to your shopping list next visit to the store. What I keep seeing in my mind's eye is that "time and options" graphic from the Leadership course. Recall that it is wedge-shaped - like a doorstop - with the wide part at the left and the narrow part at the right. The floor axis (horizontal) represents time; the vertical axis represents the number of possible options or choices for action that can save you and your crew's life. At the beginning of an incident we're at the fat part of the wedge: we have many option or choices for action that can save us and our family's lives. As time passes, options decline, choices narrow... If we don't make good choices when we can, we become the "victims" as did for many of those who refused to or could not get out of Katrina's way in New Orleans. Unfortunately, this time when this killer flu bug makes the leap to human-to-human transmission, we're going to have a world of Katrinas.

In my opinion, this bird flu bug is evolving; we are all are moving along that time axis whether we want to recognize it or not. The number of options we can choose from is diminishing. One big factor that will determine who lives and who dies is going to be... who gets infected. We and our families need to be prepared to ride this out at home when the killer flu goes pandemic. Our best bet will be to not get infected. We will need a supply of food at home, food for some months. Because of our just-in-time mode of food and  medicine delivery, each family needs to stock up.

The big picture:
Bad things happen. Over time some really bad things are inevitable. It's part and parcel of being human and living on planet earth. Whether the bad things happen to you and yours "before your time" is in part your choice. It's the result of your leadership and your planning. Lawrence Gonzales, author of Deep Survival, would agree with me. There are things YOU can do. Get about YOUR work of protecting your families, if you haven't yet done so.

Preparation ideas:

  • buy extra food when you go to the grocery store, stock up on non-perishables;
  • look at the food list on the Bird Flu Watchout page;
  • go to one of the websites where people are sharing tips for getting prepared (Curevent.com's Flu Clinic Prep and their General Prep site). If there's too much info there, start more simply.

Don't get caught in denial, become the "deer in the headlights" or wallow too long feeling helpless. You've watched others do that in the face of crisis. You are wildland firefighters! Get over that stuff! There are many simple things you can do. Preparation gives you future options.


1/6 Boots,

Thanks for the clarification. I have seen that before. What it means is that IF one is in a locality pay area, say for example the north end of the Los Padres, Monterey County, which receives the San Francisco Locality pay, IF the locality pay for ones GS rate is higher than the Special Rate Chart for said GS rate&#8230; one would receive the locality pay in lieu of the special rate. In other words you will always get the highest rate&#8230;.. Basically the locality pay at the, oh, GS 8 step 6 or so and above for the southern forests is catching up with the special pay rate.

So what you need to do is to look at your GS / step pay rate on the locality rate chart and compare it to the special rate chart # 256 &#8230;. Which ever one is higher is the one you will receive.

And you win the Prize!!! You spelled it correctly!

1/6 Here's an article about radio interoperability.

The gateway mentioned is a device that connects
different radio systems together. Example; VHF to UHF,
VHF to trunked UHF, VHF to 800 Mhz, vice versa and
etc... And you need to have the radios set up in
advance for each agency that might be used.

A problem I see with joining separate radio systems
is, it gets congested when connected, you end up with
one channel with twice the users. On busy Incidents I
have been on, if it was not planned in the beginning
to link up Repeaters, I end up separating the RPTR
networks I just linked because of too much traffic on
a single channel.

The problems are Nationwide and involve all levels,
add to this the Radio Industry lobbying Congress for
new hardware they say we need. Like the USA Today
Money article headline says, "Compatible radio systems
would cost billions".

1/6 Yactak,

Sorry if the name is misspelled. I spoke with you via fire chat last night (Jan. 5) about a possible pay increase for Southern Ca. Forestry Techs. I looked at OPM and couldn't produce the proper information that night. I did more research on the page I was speaking of and found it.

* http://apps.opm.gov/ssc/tables/index.cfm
-Scroll down to "Complete set of special salary rates and indexes"
-go down to "Complete set of title 5 special salary rate tables" click on it
-scroll down about 1/4 of the way down and find Special Salary Rate Table Number 0256 and read

0256 found in Index= Forestry Technician for AG (Dept. of Agriculture) and in IN (Department of Interior) for Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

You will see the regular pay table, below that table you will see the effective date of "First day of the first pay period beginning on or after 01/01/2006, and just below that it reads.

Authorization increased. Be advised that employees stationed in certain locations maybe entitled (depending on their grade and step) to a locality rate that exceeds the corresponding special rate appearing in this schedule; such an underlying special rate is not used for any purpose.

So my question. Is this a locality pay increase and is it based on where we are in the food chain by this I mean GS level.

If anyone has input on this for clarity, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,
1/6 Ab, along the lines unexpected health risks related to all risk assignments:
Mysterious Illness - May be related to Katrina

Mysterious illness could have Katrina ties

Missouri FF

1/6 Who makes the Best Kevlar Pants? For Durability...Comfort....Price...

What I really want is a pair with a gusseted crotch maximum comfort. Does
anyone make them that way?

1/5 Ab:

I am a former firefighter who is now in medical
school. i've posted before, but due to school work
haven't had the chance to check the board until

lance honda's post intrigued me. i am currently in a
section about oncology (cancer) and would like some
more information about the firefighters who worked on
the los alamos fire and are now suffering from cancer.

could you please contact lance honda and pass along my
email, or direct me to people who know a bit more?
i'll do my best to investigate.


George Kochman, a.k.a. "JerseyBoy"
University of Maryland School of Medicine

feel free to post this, and pass along my email to
anyone who has info.

Will do. Ab.

1/5 Lance,

Is Matt Taylor among those who worked on the Los Alamos fire in 1999?
His initial cancer was diagnosed in early 2001. Just wondering ... guess I
always will.

Sarah Larson

Sarah, check Mellie's post below. Ab.

1/5 Dear Cynic:

If folks like those in the FWFSA did not develop relationships with those like Mr. Gladics and so many other staffers in DC who, let's face it, actually tell their bosses what to do, then certainly nothing would ever be accomplished.

Nobody thought the overtime pay cap would be eliminated but, depending on your grade and position, maybe you benefit from that. If we all simply succumbed to the status quo without fighting for what is right, what kind of legacy do we leave for those who will follow?

Let's all remember that it is Congress who authorizes and appropriates the dollars to the USDA/USFS etc. All it takes is for us to educate the right people in DC as to what's going on, establish our credibility with them and craft solutions to existing problems.

We've done that to the point of eliminating the OT pay cap. We've done that to the point of securing good bipartisan support on our portal to portal legislation and, there are folks like Mr. Gladics with tremendous influence on those that can change law and policy.

The problem I face in DC, and I'm sure Mr. Gladics would agree, is the competition for time, access & support from congress and the incredible difficulty in navigating what is still a very partisan body whose main priority, at least for the House members, is to remain in office every two years!

However I am confident there is a growing number of members of congress growing weary of the ineptitude of government agencies such as the Forest Service. The sad irony is that even many in the WO share our frustration and support the FWFSA's goals and objectives.

Although we all get frustrated at times and cynical, it is truly rewarding to finally get through to a member of congress who previously didn't know what federal wildland firefighters were, what they did, who they worked for etc., and have that member cosponsor legislation that will truly benefit our firefighters.

Sometimes it takes just a phone call, sometimes it takes a year or two of constant educating to get folks on board but it is very rewarding and helps fuel the continued fight on these issues.

And yes, in a couple of months, I'll be back in Washington working on Mr. Gladics to help us get a senate version of our bill.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
1/5 Lance,

Lobotomy and others (Jersey Boy?) who have talked about this on chat are interested. I am too. As I recall Matt T (Prineville), Rick (Mormon Lake), his AZ FMO Cathie?, Paul Gleason and Rod S are a few who developed cancer. Most are gone from our physical presence now.

Statistical analysis of this kind of thing is a bit hard. You need the data from a number of firefighters, both those who fought fire, digging in possibly radioactive soil at Cerro Grande... and those who did not. You'd need to ask firefighters a slew of other questions relating to other cancer risk factors... well maybe you could limit it to some few important ones. Once you had the data, you could compare the incidence of cancer in firefighters who fought fire at Cerro Grande with similar others who did not... to see if the two groups differ.

There are lots of risk factors for cancer that firefighters are exposed to: sun on skin, breathing smoke particles from the fires you fight, physical stress, sleep deprivation stress, high levels of epinephrine (adrenalin) and cortisol (both kinds of stress hormones). It's hard to quantify some of the risks and the impact they may have on cancer incidence gets tossed in the big old "random variability" category if you can't figure out how to quantify them. Further complicating things: some firefighters smoke or chew and those two habits greatly increase a person's risk for cancer.

For some individual hard-to-measure risk factors, you're going to have to assume that all firefighters have exposure to them. Other risk factors like tobacco either must be accounted for or controlled for in analysis. If you can measure and control mathematically for the contributions of risk factors A and B and C to (possible) differing cancer rates between those who did and didn't fight fire at Cerro Grande, you can begin to get at whether Cerro Grande itself is also a causal factor - or is one of the LARGE causal factors for cancer -- over and above the other risk factors that all or most may have.

I think the thing that struck me about the cancers that I'd heard of in wildland firefighters -- who were at Cerro Grande or at Hanover -- is that they are the more rare and unusual cancers. Someone could look into that. Maybe Original Ab could make us a database that firefighters could contribute to.

I love you, Lance. It was a blessing to get to work with you, with Matt Taylor and with Nancy Larson (Matt's mom) as we explored options on his behalf. You were a very good friend and mentor to him. I'd trust you to watch my back anytime. Tell your lovely wife hello from me.


1/5 Mellie,

I an observation, a couple of questions and something I would like wildland fire fighters to consider when taking assignments.

Before I ask my questions I have to preface them with an observation. So far in my very limited knowledge of the crews and fire fighters involved, I know of at least three and possibly four cases of fire fighters suffering from cancer after they were involved in suppression/prescribed fire actions at Los Alamos in 1999.

I cannot come even close to implying that their forms and contracting of cancer was caused by their involvement in that fire situation. To say I lack the skills, knowledge, training, and expertise to make such a supposition would be a tremendous understatement. I have heard stories and accounts of where some of the crews went, and those were described as questionably safe and in some cases in areas that were off limits to normal access (whatever that meant).

Question #1 is this: Does anyone else know of any other fire fighters who took part in this particular prescribed fire/suppression effort that has suffered from cancer of any kind?

Question #2 is for anyone with some talent, interest or knowledge in statistical analysis: How likely or what is the
percentage/chance/statistical probability that 4 people from X number of crews could contract cancer within 2-4 years of a fire assignment in Los Alamos given that they were all young, strong and healthy and cancer did not run in their families and wildland fire fighters as far as my knowledge have not suffered from cancer (in my experience) during the ages they are
allowed to fight fires?

Given the above questions and the people I know who have had or died from cancer, what I would like you to consider is this: if in the future you or your crew gets an assignment in an area that may be radioactive or at some time may have had atomic radiation present, think carefully before accepting such an assignment. Those are not the kind of dangers we have traditionally faced before or considered as dangerous or risky. Consider the potential risk of illness in the short or longer term and the possible loss of health or life.

Thank you again, most respectfully

Lance Honda

Good questions, Lance. This was discussed on theysaid a bit more than a year ago. It has been a recurrent topic in chat. I know of at least five groundpounders. Ab.

1/5 In response to Frank's presentation.

It is not exactly rocket science, anyone who has worked on a district for any length of time is quite familiar with the scenario, and while maybe not being able to provide the nice charts etc, knows how it works in FS. There have been several initiatives (none of which lasted very long) to get the money to the district level, but in the end the district folks know where it eventually ends up. The work is at the district and the money resides elsewhere.

Your challenge Frank, is to see that it ends up where it belongs, and after working an entire career at the district level I sincerely wish you luck.

the cynic

1/5 Information on Wildland Firefighting Classes starting to come out of Missouri


We'll be looking for you
1/4 Bird Flu Update:

About 10 people from two families have bird flu in Turkey. Two of the original 4 children who presented with symptoms several days ago are dead. There are not enough ventilators in the hospital in Van to treat all patients.

These are the first cases of bird flu outside of South East Asia and they're in clusters involving 2 families. It seems likely that this is still bird-to-human transmission and they got the virus from touching and/or slaughtering their chickens. The next few days should clarify the mode of transmission.

(Danfromord, I'm not anxious, just keeping people appraised. I know you think the bird flu pandemic, if it comes, will be simply a "flash". I think it is clearly coming, given the spread in birds and the changing genetic makeup which we can now identify. I also believe it will be much more than than a "flash" and there's much families and communities can do to be prepared.)

From CNN: Turkey says dead boy had bird flu

From Reuters:  Second Turkish child dies from bird flu


PS 1/5 update: I just heard from a Turkish friend that the number of people hospitalized with birdflu like symptoms is growing (symptoms include pneumonia, bleeding gums, and difficulty breathing). They're still trying to pin down numbers. The hemorrhagic (bleeding) component is worrisome. In addition, it's unusual to have this many infections in a bang like this in four sparsely populated provinces. It seems that the H5N1 (bird flu) virus is evolving to be more transmissable to humans, even if it is still bird to human transmission. While it doesn't appear that it has evolved to human-to-human transmission yet, the efficiency of H5N1 infections of humans seems to have increased. When the gene sequences are submitted to genBank, we'll likely have more info regarding increased risk to humans (or not). Before then the pattern of infection and deaths should give us more clues. Here are the numbers he thinks are infected:

  • 15 patients hospitalized in the city of Van  -->14 patients from the town of Ağrı (includes members of 2 families, including the 2 kids who died) and one patient from Van
  • 5 patients from the town of Horasan hospitalized in Erzurum
  • 6 patients from the town of Aralık in Igdir County (if these were sent to Van, this could be overlap)
1/4 Sending those mining families from hope to heck has to be one of the saddest things I’ve seen in a long time. And I hope the fire community sees the opportunity to be reminded about lessons-that-need-to-be-learned that should come out of that, particularly for line officers and IC types.

The list of topics is a million miles long but the most glaring is that from the start, no-one ever defined where accurate information would be coming from: the governor, mine execs, the local congresswoman, fire and EMS leaders, Uncle Joe? When the “12 alive” started to be shouted, the media should be faulted for going with a story reported by distant family members (in one case, when a cousin was asked where he was getting his info, he looked the CNN reporter in the eye and said, “From CNN.”), the reporters were left hanging with no clear source, because not a single reliable official was available.

Those in charge on the scene were especially negligent for not dealing with possibly misleading information as soon as it came out. It was hours after the “good” news before any official of any type was available! Even if they had to stand up in front of those cameras and happy family members and say, “we don’t know; we can’t confirm where than information came from; we’d like to share your joy, but we just don’t have the firm information to do that; when we know for certain, so and so will tell the families first, then make an announcement to the press …”

I just feel so badly for those families!

Still Out There as an AD

Everyone here knows that there are lots of ways mis-information can be heard and get passed on when fighting fire. In this technological age there are lots of public "ears" listening in on comm unit information passed between crews and team members in an emergency. People listening want info, they may want to help, some are just curious. They're often hoping and praying for the miracle.

It's my experience that firefighters do a good job of being circumspect over the airways. They're knowledgeable regarding how info on an incident should and shouldn't be shared. We all need to continue being careful not to cause unnecessary anxiety or to provide hope, only to snatch it away.

We try our best to be careful here and are glad that this community continues to post responsibly to the Hot List Forum. Ab.

1/4 I am curious to know how the presentation (An Examination of the Forest Service,
Its Challenges, Budgets and Performance Trends) came into DM’s hands

I am not upset that he posted it, more just interested in understanding if that
presentation came to him from the private sector or from within the Forest Service.

Frank Gladics
Professional Staff
Energy & Natural Resource Committee
202-224- 2878

PS – it is also nice to see my name in They Said not proceeded or followed by a
string of curse words. I guess Casey and I may have made some progress in the last
two years in our effort to communicate. (Our first attempt was a bit like watching a
porcupine and a hedgehog trying to figure out how to shake hands).

Frank: haw, haw on the PS... It came in from a Forest Service retiree who is still involved in fire. Ab.

1/4 Dear Ab:

Thank you very much for forwarding the article on the 1938 Pepper Hill Fire
from The Wildland Firefighter and please pass on my thanks to Wetbulb.

Wetbulb is right on about their observation concerning potential fatality fires
in non-traditional fatality fire regions of the country (I call this "stereotyping fire


For those wanting to cite references it was from Volume 4 Number 10. Ab.

1/4 Dear DM:

Frank Gladics and I share the same benevolence & cynicism towards the Forest Service. An interesting story about Frank.

About a year and a half ago or so he popped up on They Said and blasted HR 408 given its audacity to provide our federal wildland firefighters with portal to portal pay and thus be paid while sleeping (sort of like all the other firefighters in the US!). Naturally, and thankfully, he received an earful from the federal wildland firefighting community. in addition, several of us paid him a visit in DC to discuss the issue.

It was definitely surprising to learn he not only had a Forest Service background, but a wildland firefighting background. Despite his initial misgivings about our efforts, I truly believe by the end of about a half an hour or so, we had a convert of sorts on our issue. It is my hope that since that time, the FWFSA has continued to provide credible information to him. It is also our hope that he will finally work with us (hope he's reading this) in redirecting a mere 3% of the annual suppression budget back to the Nation's own federal wildland firefighters from higher priced resources and assist us in getting Sen. Domenici to sponsor a Senate version of HR 408.

Frank is incredibly knowledgeable and a very good contact. His dry sense of humor shows through in his presentation as does mine in the FWFSA's commentary on our issues. I truly hope we will be able to expand our relationship with him and secure his assistance in achieving our goals. Thanks for your posting.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
1/4 Fire in TX

Just to add to what everyone else has said, fire behavior in Texas right now is not what these people around here are used to. I have seen extreme behavior like this out west but never here at home. I was on the Airport, which was in Mineral Wells, and the Huckabay fires sunday through tuesday. Sunday at the airport the SEATs were grounded because the fire ran onto the field and they could not launch. Our engines knocked it down enough and they started taking off on a taxi way, coming around and dropping to save the retard plant! The fire went to 1800 acres and lost 14 structures including 8 homes. Fired out dozer line all day monday at Huckabay after they had lost I do not know how many homes the night before. Last estimate on it was right at 3000 acres. Stay tuned to this channel.


1/4 The Pepper Hill fire article requested by Marty Alexander appeared in the
February 2001 issue of Wildland Firefighter. I have attached a PDF version
of this article. Most people don't think of Pennsylvania when they think of
dangerous fire behavior, but it can happen. The article is fairly interesting
and well-written.

I have been lurking for a while now, but this seemed like a good chance to
get in the game.


Welcome. Thanks for the info. I forwarded it on. Ab.

1/4 The article on the Pepper Hill fire is in the Feb. 2001 issue of Wildland
Firefighter. I'll do my best to fax it out tomorrow!

Jim Felix

Jim, thanks, but see the post above. I just emailed a copy off. Ab.

1/3 Montana Sprout -

Without trying to sound patronizing, I admire your Noble pursuit to attire protectively in vegan PPE. Being a former vegetarian times subscriber, PETA donater, animal rights activist in college and vegan (OK, I ate honey) and fire fighting for 18 years I can see your fortune scribed on the wall. I had to change to fight fire.

Leather boots and gloves aren't an issue. You have no choice. You can pack your gear with high energy snacks and protein bars and forgo the slab of meat on white but what happens after the fifth shift in some lonesome section of the Arizona strip when you realize you're empty and there isn't a health food store for hundreds of miles. You can't live off of the applesauce and tabasco in the MREs and be useful for anything. A crew is as strong as the weakest link.

Another thing to face as a vegan fire fighter is philosophical is that YOU are directly involved in suppression which can often do more ecological harm than good. The snags - the precious songbird, ringtail cat and woodpecker habitat, the drool coming off your comrades because they want to fall them.... all in the name of safety, when you know that's bullsh/t and it's more about practice and fun. Did you know you can still see the ruts from the old covered wagon wheels going across the desert, yet we blaze fireline in it...yea, to be a vegan in fire.... evolve through adaptation.

Make alot of money and donate to the Humane Society.

Good Luck, Peace.

Welcome Maddog2. I added the 2.
Maddog (the original) was from the Plumas. He hasn't written in in a while, but he's still part of this community. He was always a carnivore. Ab.

1/3 LMC -

To answer your question: There was no Incident Commander for the first 5 hours or so.
The departments just tended to find fire, and go squirt water on it. It wasn't until the fire
reached city limits that the paid fire dept. established an EOC, Command Post, and
started assigning trucks to locations, and people to IC Positions.


1/3 Attached is a real eye-opener on USFS operations from Frank Gladichs, a Staffer on the US Senate Energy & Natural Resources subcommittee. It could really focus some discussions to Congressmen, etc in the coming months.

Maybe put it on a "TheySaid" link for folks to download; it comes off quick, even with my dial-up connection. It was presented at the December USFS Leadership Team meeting, so it's public knowledge.

Use it as you see fit!


An Examination of the Forest Service, Its Challenges, Budgets and Performance Trends (large 2,524 K ppt file)
Lots of graphs and comparative info here. Ab.

1/3 Just some info those of you following the fires in the Southwest. Great Plains Dispatch
has sent 5 engines (fed and state) down to Texas assist on New Years Day. In addition
I was told that there have been order for overhead to go.

Sign me,
Stuck at the office!
1/3 RedCardJason

Was there one Incident Commander overseeing this fire and sending the different departments to different flanks? Sometimes when things get busy the IC can use a gentle reminder to have everyone monitor State Fire. (The New Mexico State Fire frequency is for mutual aid and every department should have it.) You can use your own department frequency for tactical stuff on your flank. We have had it happen with us more than once, and we also train together. Keep up the training and use this experience to learn how to do it better next time.

1/3 RedCardJason:

You are so right! I have seen the poor fireline communication amongst VFDs many times as both a groundpounder and as an air attack supervisor in Southeast New Mexico. It was very evident again on Sunday.

I have been pushing for better firefighting through full implementation of ICS by VFDs in Southeast NM (where I also live) for almost two decades. Now that I am a retired fed all that I can do is refuse to play when I see a serious safety issue and to complain in forums like this one. Complaining to politicians in this area seems to be a waste of time.

The problem lies with some very hard headed people both in the VFDs and in the NM State Forestry who is supposed to oversee the implementation of ICS and NIIMS in New Mexico. "Cowboy firefighting" has become institutionalized in SENM. Nobody, certainly not the feds, is able to change anything from the way it has always been.

The solution, unfortunately, lies in some future litigation stemming from a fireline tragedy and in courageous people coming forward as star witnesses for the plaintiffs. Be there. I sure will.

Be safe, Jason, and watch out for yourself. There are many more rough days ahead in this part of the world before we get enough rain to squelch the current fire danger.

1/3 Observations from my perspective:

TX, OK, NM call up of resources
-At least with my state agency, much has been sent via the state level (IE: State of Texas as us for help) which may fly under the fed radar and as such not show up in the Fed system. I am sure they have done similar requests with other states that are much closer than I am.

-Keep in mind that in Texas (the areas that I am familiar with at least) the local FD has the responsibility for IA of wildland fires and only calls in any state resources when they need help. This help is often hours away due to travel distances in normal conditions.

RedCardJason, My experience with procedure or SOP changes is that it takes a lot of work and repetition to get to the point that it is common practice or accepted standard procedure. What has worked for me is to start doing these things even on marginal assignments where it is not really needed. That way when the poop hits the fan things will go at according to plan much more easily. …not taking murphy into account of course…

1/3 I have been a long time lurker, but am a first time poster; so first thing - great job Ab!

I am a volunteer for a small rural department in southeast New Mexico, and have been bustin tail on the fires that have been burning down here lately. The fires that swept thru Hobbs and burned more than 20,000 acres and at least 11 homes are OUT! But for how long?

The other thing I have, people are talking about fire management and resources interchangeably. I think that if we sit back and look, we will see that while management may be adequate, they don't have or aren't ordering enough resources to do the job they are setting out to do. By the same token, in other places like here in SE New Mexico there are enough resources, but we lack the management to deal with a large-scale fire. There were at least 30 to 40 engines and 100 to 125 personnel on these fires, but we were all working as separate departments. For example: VFD #1 would band together and head out on one flank, staying on their radio channel, while VFD #2 would head out on a different flank of the fire and Paid FD #1 would be on their own side of the fire on their separate EDACS radio system that nobody else can talk on. We train on a regular basis to operate together, we preach interoperability, we designate radio frequencies and study the IC system. When the fire strikes, we don't use all of this... Why?


Welcome RedCardJason. Good comments and questions. Ab.

1/3 Hi-

Do you have any photos and information that you can share
about your Model T fire engine?

-Keith T

Only Model T I know of is pictured HERE, click on the words below the image for application info. Anyone have contact info, phone number, etc? Ab.

1/3 To MOC4546

I know that resources from R5 are being sent to TX. Dennis and Dave, the 517 Helitack Superintendent and Assistant were sent down Sunday. If help isn't being sent, it isn't because the guys don't want to go. You can't do anything until orders come through, and that is strictly up to the folks in Texas. Y'all out there dealing with these fires be careful. A big shout out to all my friends down there! See you all in March!

1/3 In response to MOC4546

I agree, but I do know there has been a request from Texas and OK. There is FEMA grant paperwork summated by both states. As for here in NM we are working the State Resource Management Plan, and the 80000 acre that is burning here is under control as of today, I know I sent 3 1 ton truck loads of foam there today. We will need the help, here in our County alone, there have been 16 wildland fires dispatched since 12:01 am on Jan. 1. We have not had any measurable rainfall in over 60 days, after an abnormally wet Spring and Summer. So we have the undergrowth to have a 2000 all over again, as long as Fins and Feathers doesn’t do a prescribed burn on an Extrame day again in Los Alamos. That is just a little poke folk, don’t get mad ok.

Jeff C

1/2 As MOC4546 states:

There are plenty of wildland qualified fire fighters out there willing and ready to go to Texas or OK. As the closest resources concept works, I am sure there are some in New Mexico who can go, and here in Arizona, I know of many personnel who have gotten there gear ready, bags packed, and engines checked, but there are no orders. Its seems these states might not do things the way the rest of the country does them with large scale fires.

I checked the TICC and it shows all the staged resources, and I count less then ten engines. AS MOC states, there are VFD sure, but do they need help?

Like MOC4546 said, there are crews ready to go, the word just needs to get to the right people.

1/2 Well, it is Only Jan. 2nd and fires are burning it could be a real long year.

Just today alone two Type 2 IA FS regular crews and at least a dozen OH operational positions were sent today to Texas and Arkansas from NOPS forests. Came close to sending a Type 1 IMT but the Southern area deployed one of their own. So if you are available to take a fire assignment, call your dispatch center and let them know. Texas and OK need help and they are asking for it.


1/2 There sure are a lot of fires burning in the Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico area, There are probably a LOT of Federal Wildland Resources (engines) that could have been re-staffed and sent to assist these states with their 'unusual' fire season right now. Region 5 US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the NPS could be called upon.

There can be a lot of federal help sent to your states right now, but it takes two things to happen:

1. The State Governors need to declare a disaster and ask for help from the Federal Government. As far a I know, none of these states have asked for help other than National Guard resources for each state.

2. The States, who need more help than they have, need to be willing to pay for that help, regardless of where it comes from.

How long would it take to staff up wildland engines and helitack resources with permanent fire personnel, local seasonal personnel, or people on an AD Schedule? A directive from the Agency head or perhaps the White House should be sufficient. But the states have to ask for help, and that means someone has to pay for it.

I've been watching the news on TV and the Web about the fires. The acres are over 100,00 in all, the count is over 200 homes destroyed, a large number of outbuildings, two entire towns were leveled, and the death toll is now more than five.

I lived in North Texas when I was younger, and visited Oklahoma frequently. These area are composed of counties that are small in size (ie, 4-6 counties in Texas equal the size of one California county or 12-20 counties equal the size of one Arizona county) and the resources are almost entirely volunteer. I understand the Texas State Forest Service is doing a good job managing the fires, but more resources are needed.

There are resources you can call on right now and have there within 48 hours, even sooner if authorization comes to use a couple of Air Force C-5A and C-141 out of Travis AFB or Edwards AFB (remember Florida 1998). And that is just for California.

When Hurricane Katrina and Wilma happened, many federal resources were being called upon and were enroute within 24 hours. I was on a plane and in Florida within that time frame when my order request came in.

The help is there. The resources are there. The management teams are there. The FMOs just need a slap in the back of the head and told "forget your project work and make it happen". When will the orders come in? I can go for a 14-day assignment, and there are probably a couple HUNDRED of us red-carded permanent federal resources that could leave within hours of getting the call.

If you fire guys in Texas, Oklahoma, and now New Mexico need help, it is there. Ask your governors to request help from the Federal Government. There was a lot of help sent to the Gulf States for Hurricane Relief, why can't this be any different?

That is just my opinion. My dad's home is near some of those grass fires in North Texas and I know what resources have not been utilized yet.

1/2 Thanks to Vicki and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation
for their help for Ken and his family.


1/2 Kenneth Ray Hancock, injured New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Fighter, is making great improvements since his accident on December 24, 2005, when the tanker he was driving collided with an Union Pacific train.

Kenny Ray underwent his third surgery on his right arm this morning. Kenny Ray is still unable to breathe on his own, however the doctors are trying to wean him from the ventilator. 

Kenny Ray's family is doing well.  Kim Hancock, Kenny's wife, has been a trooper.  She has been right beside Kenny when allowed during scheduled visitations.  When not, Kim is just a phone call away.

The New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Department has been hanging in there.  They continue to answer to the call of duty by responding to fire and medical calls.  Each volunteer has been helping out the Hancock Family by taking donations for the family, making visits to Kenny Ray and his family, and this week are planning a Strawberry Shortcake Birthday Party for Kenny Ray's daughter that is turning 3 years old. 

Kenny Ray is improving everyday.  We know that Kenny Ray wouldn't be here today if not for the many, many prayers that have been sent up to God.  Thanks to everyone for all your prayers and support. 

Glen Wilburn
New Summerfield Volunteer Fire Department
1/2 Fires raged in eastern New Mexico yesterday, burning an estimated 50,000 acres west of Hobbs and another 19,000 acres near Tatum in two different blazes. The Weather Service is expecting another warm, breezy day for New Mexico, where it is supposed to reach 75 degrees. Overnight low on January 1 was 42 degrees, the warmest January 1st on record. Previous record was 41, back in 1982.


Welcome, JC. Ab.

1/2 Fires are riiiiiiiiiiiiiipin' in TX and OK!

Weather is wild card in Oklahoma, Texas fires: Blazes force evacuations

250,000-3,000 acres burned; more than 200 homes lost

Links to fire video taken near Oklahoma City and in Texas.


Be safe. Ab.


The problem with CDF's PPE upgrade has to do with procurement from PIA
(Prison Industries). When CDF made the change to the newer style nomex,
which has better pockets and reflective material, they had just done a major
purchase of the old style nomex in both yellow and orange, several thousand
sets I understand. So prior to issuing the new style nomex, the old product must
be used up, so we see folks with the new styles, but unless you get it on a
incident, as most service centers are not giving it out yet.

That is why it takes so long. FYI

BDU medic

1/2 Dear Ab:

I seem to recall that there was an article published a few years back on the
1938 Pepper Hill (or Run) Fire in Pennsylvania (8 fatalities). It was published
in either Wildfire magazine or The Wildland Firefighter.

I'm hoping someone will recall this article and be able to fax me a copy of the
article (to 780-417-9759). Perhaps we could even get posted on WF website.

Thanks very much in advance.

Marty Alexander, PhD, RPF
Senior Researcher
FERIC Wildland Fire Operations Research Group

Hi Marty. Must be cold up in your neck o' the Canadian woods. Readers, anyone know? Ab.
1/2 So, I see SoOps "Intel" is still asleep at the switch!

Ok, use or lose leave, holidays, whatever...

But it would only take a few seconds to update the team rotations remotely.

It is an embarrassment that SoOps is so lame in this area.

Still Waiting
1/2 Hi AB,
long time reader-retired ff(34 years). Any way, I am puzzled by what appears to be no proactive response to the RAINS.
I share much of what people on here have to say. Know a few of you. It's a very interesting field we
find ourselves in. One that has a great future and many challenges.

Dick Terry
MYL '58, SMKJ 6 Seasons


1/1 Thanks to all the CDF folks that replied back. Sounds like you are
trying to make a change.

Happy New Year everyone....

just wondering
1/1 Our Department in New Mexico is looking at converting to a UI department and
wanted to get some specs that are used in the CDF agency. We are mostly looking
at the turnouts, both wildland and structure. If anyone can help please email me.

1/1 For everyone that may be on their way to give us a hand to us with our TX wildfires; we are having some of the wildest, most extreme fire behavior that I have seen in a very long time. My crew man and myself narrowly avoided being burnt over by about 40 feet this past Fri. while protecting structures from a rapidly advancing head and flame front. This was our last stand where we stood a chance of stopping the fire before it crossed a roadway into densely populated mobile home community. With the help of another engine and my other crewman we did manage a stop at that roadway and saved too many homes to count.

Many of our younger FF's have never seen this type of behavior as such are having to rely on the experience of the more experienced Firefighters.

My point: remember all of your training, and stay safe. We are having to do a lot defensive tactics rather than going head to head in an offensive mode.

Welcome to Texas, everyone, and we appreciate all the help that we are getting.

Stay safe,


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