March, 2006

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3/31 AD Firefighter info:

NIFC Public Affairs has put out a 23-page Talking Points document. What
caught our eye was the first two sections devoted to the AD pay plan issues.

But there are other items of interest addressed, including preparedness.

Needless to say, we don't feel the 2 Talking Points on the AD issue address
the core problems, but they sure do put the government's efforts in a
positive light!! Not a surprise though. ADFA plans to respond with a
logical analysis. We will undoubtedly utilize legislative assistance on the
matter (unfortunately this seems to be the only way to get a response).

We've got a link to the Talking Points document on our web page at
www.adfirefighter.org or perhaps Ab you could place a link to the
attached here: Wildland Fire Talking Points (pdf file)

Comments welcome as usual (click name below)

Hugh Carson
Chair, AD Firefighters Association

3/31 JD the student, I can't give you the statistics for the Federal Wildland Firefighters,
but here's a link to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection home
page. CDF Fire

It will give you an overview of what the CDF does and in the lower right hand
side of the page there is a link to "CDF Support: Hurricane disasters of 2005". I
hope this helps you with your report.

3/31 Misery Whip

<cracking up> <rolling on floor> Are you mocking Mellie???

You said... "You guys rock. Mellie too. <batting her eyes, blushing, shucks, gawrsh>"

Correction, if it was really Mellie you were characterizing, it woulda been <batting eyes> <blushing> (Note the closed carrots between attributes. Mellie's grammar queen and analytical coding characteristics carry over even to the fire internet...

Mellie has never assumed a <gawrsh> attitude that I know of. After all, under that Mellie facade there is a hotshot's ego (of the best sort). By that, I mean Mellie is a can-do perfectionist but doesn't need to take the personal credit -- so long as the job gets done impeccably...

Now Mellie has been known to throw in a <little madonna smile> from time to time, among other things...


3/31 I am doing a presentation on wildland firefighting for a college speech class. I would like to find some video clips that would produce an impact on the audience. Any ideas?

I'd also like to drive home the message that Federal Wildland Firefighters do more than just fight fire. I believe it was "viejo" who recently mentioned Katrina and 9/11. What role do they play in disasters like these?

I live in the DC area. Few people here pay much attention to wildfires, much less those who fight them. Therefore, my objective is to make a lasting impression.

I have found some valuable information on this site. It has been especially helpful in gaining insight into the different issues that wildland firefighters face.

Any additional information would be appreciated.

J.D. (the student JD)
3/31 Hello all,

I think that some people have hit the issue right on the head. There is a huge amount of acreage being burned but there is no real knowledge in the media of the budget being cut out. I think that if the public were able to see what is going on, I think that they may have something to say. The federal agencies that are fighting all these fires, and see a need for more funding, should be putting it out to the media with facts.

We should not be bumping the numbers up in order to receive EXCESS funding the way that the higher ups are playing down the money issue by saying that we are doing fine, though. We should hold up our integrity and respect towards the public and present an honest appraisal.

That is all I can say right now.


3/31 Nerd:

If you can get the data, I can crunch it and display it any which way you want.

Still Out There as an AD

3/31 Ab,

Here's a link to the USDA OIG audit report on Forest Service Firefighting Contract Crews, www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/08601-42-SF.pdf

It's another crappy pdf, without digitized text, and at 2.5 mb is about ten times larger than it needs to be.

I did learn something new about the Fire-Whose-Name-Cannot-Be-Mentioned. I knew there were some language issues with the contract crews. I did not know that on one crew there were 17 firefighters including the crew boss that didn't speak English.

vfd cap'n

Cramer Fire. Ab.

3/30 Nerd on the Fireline,

As usual, you see to the heart of important issues more quickly than many posters on They Said. I’m referring to what you said on 3/29:

…”from folks in the field, I'm sensing a level of frustration and irritability that feels more like the tired, burnt-out end of the season than the beginning of one. Does this sound like anything anybody else has observed? Are we coming into the season fatigued? Does anyone with longer experience than I (aka everybody) remember another season like this? Are we looking at a safety issue?”

My answers to your questions would be; Yes, Yes, No, and YES.

I think wildland firefighters employed by the federal land management agencies are unnaturally stressed out and tired. Why shouldn’t they be? As the job of managing wildland fires on public lands has become exponentially more complex, the number of experienced federal wildland fire managers has shrunk. If the trend continues, at some point a collapse is inevitable. We may be approaching the tipping point.

Most national type 1 & 2 teams pulled at least one hurricane assignment last year, some more. I have friends who had more than 300 hours of overtime by the end of February! Wildland fires in 2006 have burned 10 times the national average acreage, burned dozens of homes, killed civilians and firefighters, but it barely registers on our nation’s consciousness. Hard to compete for TV news time when people are being blown up and executed left and right in Iraq.

The recent tenor of posts on this site tells the story better than I can. Hugh Carson’s post, Bill Dougan’s letter, Casey’s letter, and Lobotomy’s posts all indicate a high level of frustration with the current state. Casey’s description of our chief’s blank stare is probably an appropriate metaphor for the current relationship between the troops and the WO. We seem to be living separate realities and unable to communicate.

Federal wildland firefighters are rightly concerned about issues like job stability, legal liability, and outsourcing. In spite of those problems, this administration has laid out their battle plan for their last three years of spending “political capital”, and we are one of the targets. Until there is a new administration, or a different party in control of the House or Senate to blunt this ideological attack on government employees, we are vulnerable to whatever Mark Rey and the WO tells us we must do. Unless some brave Forest Service leaders stand up and challenge the latest outsourcing initiative, our firefighting ranks may be considerably thinner a few years from now.

These are hard times. Worse times are sure to follow, including losing more of our comrades to wildland fire accidents. It is enough to make anyone prematurely tired.


Really good 3/30 post. I know I’ve ripped on you in the past, I wanted you to know that I learned some things from and appreciated your post. A historical comparison is often very useful for formulating strategy. Recognition Primed Decision-making can apply to management decisions too. Thanks.


You suck. Just kidding, I was just testing the new policy. You guys rock. Mellie too. <batting her eyes, blushing, shucks, gawrsh>

Misery Whip

HAW HAW... Ab.

3/30 Short notice but here's the info for Dick Tracy' s service.
Mar.31 at 1500 hrs. at the
First United Methodist Church,
1825 East St.
Redding CA

Tim Quigley
3/30 NorCal Tom...I hear what you are saying. It seems like the Federal Wildland Firefighters are now in a state that CDF Firefighters were in during the early 60's. The job is changing, becoming more complex as more and more people in the form of permanent residents and visitors to the wildlands and the management wants a full service Fire Department that will work for Forestry Technician wages.

It looks like the ONLY hope you guys have is to support FWFSA or some other employee group and hunker down for the long fight.

During the 1960's CDF was governed by foresters who begrudged every benefit and pay raise that was granted to the Fire Protection series. They fought every work week reduction and did their best to make every change as difficult as they could, even though Fire Protection was 90% of the budget. It was only through the efforts of the CDFEA (employees association ) that we were able to present a united front and focus our requests for better working conditions.

It was not an easy task. Getting a consensus from people who worked in conditions as different as Humboldt and Riverside was a rocky road. Your workforce is even more varied, but they've got to get over the infighting and the R-5 against the world attitude and realize they are all doing the same job and want the same things... decent wages and working conditions.

Ray Q was probably correct. It will take longer than 10 or 20 years. It took longer than my 32 year career to get those benefits in CDF and the fight goes on as we speak.

I think the Management of the Federal Wildland fire agencies are doing you a disservice at this time. The Fed effort during Katrina was unreported ( maybe deliberately). The Fed effort on 9/11 also went without notice. At this time they are downplaying the efforts of Fed firefighters who work on the urban interface who respond to structure fires, vehicle fires and medical aid calls. This is similar to what the forester types who ran CDF did in the early '60's.

Tom, I hope you don't get discouraged and leave the organization because you guys who speak out are the ones who will effect change...but don't expect it to happen in the near future. If you decide to change organizations, good luck. I think CDF is one of the pre eminent wildland fire/urban interface Fire Departments in the world.

3/30 Still out there...

Thanks for putting some numbers on my speculations. I
had kind of an image in my head, and I'm not sure how
to go about putting numbers to it, but it might be
enlightening (and you did say you'd never met a
statistic you didn't like...). Okay, picture a bar
chart, like they use for rainfall. Put the months on
the horizontal axis, with December in the middle, and
then put total firefighter hours on assignment,
nationwide or for a given region, on the vertical
axis. For Most years, there's going to be dip in the
center of the graph; not to zero, but not far from it.
Anecdotally, I think that this year the dip was not
nearly as low as usual, meaning that the off season
was less off than it's been in quite a while. So I'm
thinking not so much of year-to-date as 'typical
end-of-season' to 'typical beginning-of-season'. The
year-to-date numbers are scary, though.

Nerd on the Fireline

3/30 The FY06 cut to the Forest Service preparedness budget was $500,000 dollars. It resulted somehow to a $175 million preparedness shortfall nationwide. Mark Rey says it will be offset by the increase in the response budget.

Under the proposed Forest Service FY07 budget, how will a $10 million preparedness reduction affect us in FY 2007? I hope not as badly as a small reduction in the FY2006 budget did.

Under the current standards of raking off fire preparedness dollars as seen in FY2006, it would relate to the following:

Simple algebraic equation-
500,000 reduction = 175,000,000 shortfall correlated to 10,000,000 cut = x dollars shortfall.

Simple equation…. Hard answer………Maybe someone should ask this question.

If the trend continues, the Forest Service fire preparedness budget would be hit with a $3.5 billion dollar shortfall…. How could that be when it is above and beyond the Forest Service budget in the first place?

Bean counters… you better get your facts in line if you insist wildland firefighters know algebra due to IFPM.

Or… it could be just another “irregularity” where the FS took preparedness dollars and shifted them away from what the Congress had appropriated them to do. Or maybe it was just deficit spending again cloaked without factual backing? Or maybe the fire program is funding the Forest Service?

Rogue Rivers

P.S. - Feel free to correct me as needed.... I wan't to know if my calculations are correct. Before you beat me up, remember, facts speak louder than words.
3/30 From Firescribe:

"Senators fear cuts will harm ability to fight Southwest wildfires"

3/30 For all you old time jumpers out there, I am sad to report that Dick Tracy died
last weekend. Dick was the Base Manager of the Redding Smokejumper Base
during the 70s and into the 80s. He spent time in Missoula and Silver City before
Redding. A good man.

Tim Quigley
Redding SMKJ Loft Manager

Condolences... Could you please let us know about services? Ab.

3/30 Howdy Dannyboy and AB,

I do not take your comments as bad - I do take them with a grain of salt. I know what CDF Captains are making and what they are going to be making after the year round response plan goes into effect. That is why I have applied.

I feel that I work hard for the USFS as I would for CDF, but the higher ups don't see it that way. I really believe that the USFS folks in charge know exactly how cheap they pay us, well in R5 at least. I would just like to ask you where do you work? Do you always feel you have enough money for fun stuff like a vacation? I live in California and for anyone who wants to know - if you don't already - it costs alot to live here. I am not a transplant I was born here and raised here. The cost that my parents paid for their house where I grew up was $32,000 in 1967, it is now appraised at $702,000 so in 38 years a profit of $670,000 - wow. So now days we cant buy a home for under $300,000 basically where I live. I don't feel I need to explain my complaints to anyone on here except those folks that don't care about paying the bills or have a wealthy family and don't need money.

Just to let ya know I do love my job and I like working where I work. The problem I have is we should be getting better pay and benefits, if the old blood ideas were to realize that yeah back in 1972 when they started $1.89 and hour was an ok wage. At that wage you could make with overtime at say 400 hours a year $5063 before taxes. Its 34 years later and $5063 would not buy a cheap car! Ok I might have blown off course here a bit, but I get rattled about our pay!

The thing I do want to say is this. It is 2006: 20 years ago a CDF FC made what I make now hourly, but they made more 'cause the 72 hour shift. So why do you think they have got their big pay raises? I will tell ya, alot of there folks got tired of being broke, retention problems, a higher tax base due to more people and business, which creates a higher call volume, and I figure most of all they got fed up with the gas station attendant wages, and fought the state!

I am a member of the FWFSA Ab, just so your comment is answered! I am trying to help out by getting others to join! My problem is this I talk to folks and hear them say yeah right its not ever going to happen, a pay raise huh!!! Even R5 fire and aviation officer Ray Q said its not going to happen anywhere in the near future, maybe 20 or 30 years long after I retire he said. So with attitudes like that how do you ask them to help us fight for what's right?

So next time when you have the urge to tell folks what they should do, THINK before you speak. I have done all the CDF stuff, I have joined FWFSA, and most of all I have cared what is going to happen to my future. No matter what the agencies say about retention or OPM says about it, it does have a major impact on the USFS, BLM, USFWS, BIA, and the PARK SERVICE. They want me to tell my employees how beautiful it is to work here and they pay you to look at the trees and smell the fresh air, AGHH its all cr*p. Just ask a seasonal FF here in CA if they would like to make more money and have a better schedule plus benefits and retirement as a temp, what are they going to say no I like the fresh air? NOT!!!

Have a great day guys and remember your 2 cents might just be your next pay raise.


HAW HAW. Excellent closing one liner!!! Ab.

3/30 Hugh:

Thanks for the most comprehensive update regarding the ADFA.
Well done, and now we must fill the glass to the top!

3/30 Nerd’s question interested me, since I never met a statistic I didn’t like. Here’s what the number seem to be saying about the 2006 fire season.

I looked back at the situation reports from 1997 to the present, and selected the report closest to today’s date (March 29). We have demolished the average for number of acres burned to date in the years considered. This year, 1.82 million acres have burned in the US compared with an average 212,763 acres for the previous nine years. This is the only time we’ve been at Preparedness Level 2 on this date, except for 2003 where other incidents (primarily the Columbia crash) likely resulted in the increased level of preparedness.

The second most active early season was 2000 when 569,567 burned, setting the stage for a yearly total of 7.4 million acres. The year 2001 was next busiest with 266,547 acres burned to date.

This late winter and spring, like most years, finds the Southern Region handling the largest percentage of the acres burned with 1.46 million acres. What is striking is the activity in three regions, which is not at all common for the years considered. Like many years, the Southwest had the second-most busy early season, but this year’s 220,893 acres burned is greater than the 9-year average across the entire US. The Rocky Mountain region has burned 90,961 acres, putting it ahead of the national early-season total for 1998 (56,992 acres) and close to the national total for 2003 (93,980).

For the political types lurking out there, maybe this isn’t the best year to be cutting the budget for fire???

Still Out There as an AD
3/29 Joe Ely:

Graveside services will be held for Joe Ely on Saturday, April 8, at 11
a.m. at the Glen Oaks Memorial Park, in Chico, (corner of Hegan Lane and
Midway). There will be a reception afterwards (I don't know the location).

Denny Bungarz (retired MNF FMO & Glenn County Supervisor) has set up the
"Joe Ely Memorial Fund" to relocate and maintain the Air Tanker Plaque at
the Willows Airport. Contributions in Joe's memory can be sent to

The Joe Ely Memorial Fund
Glenn County Department of Finance
516 W. Sycamore Street,
Willows, CA 95988.

A couple pics attached


Joe Ely at Rattlesnake Memorial Dedication
Plaque he was reading

3/29 Hello,

I would like to request you to post on the wildfire.com Paul Gleason Memorial Webpage a running tally on the Paul Gleason Wildland Fire Scholarship fund, which is currently established as a pending endowment at Colorado State University. The current amount in the fund is $6,334 and the goal is to reach $25,000 by October, 2009 in order to establish a permanent endowment with an annual scholarship awarded in perpetuity. Any assistance you can provide in getting the word out on this effort would be appreciated. The first scholarship has already been awarded and we can provide a profile of that award recipient if you would like to post that as well. You may also want to link to the CSU page with information on the scholarship.

Please feel free to contact me for more information. I also have a few good photos and even some old slides for the memorial page.


Thanks, Karen.
Readers, you may contribute to the fund by sending a tax-deductible donation made out to the Paul Gleason Wildland Fire Scholarship Fund to:

CSU Foundation
P.O. Box 1870
Fort Collins, CO 80522

Ab note: Here's the info on the scholarship available via dropdown menu (Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship) on the bottom of this page:
Let's make this an ongoing tribute to Paul.

The Paul Gleason Wildland Fire Scholarship

Description of Scholarship:
The Paul Gleason Wildland Fire Scholarship was established in memory of Paul. Paul was a highly skilled and respected wildland firefighter who dedicated his 38 year field career to improving firefighting safety for his many colleagues. An expert in firefighting operations, fire behavior, and fire ecology, he worked on over 500 wildland and prescribed fires throughout the United States. In doing so, Paul supervised hotshot crews for over 20 years, co-pioneered sawyer safety training for firefighters and developed the Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes and Safety Zones (LCES) safety concept now taught to all wild land firefighters. He was renowned for his engaging style as an instructor. After mandatory firefighter retirement at age 55 in 2001, Paul served at Colorado State University as a well-loved adjunct Professor of Fire Science until his untimely death in 2003. A true leader and mentor to thousands of people, Paul always identified first with the "ground-pounder" and taught that every firefighter on the line has a personal responsibility for his or her own safety by becoming a "student of fire".

Criteria of Scholarship:
Recipient must be an undergraduate student in the Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship. Recipient must maintain a GPA of at least 2.5. Recipient must demonstrate an interest and background in fire science, with special consideration given to an applicant who is currently a wildland firefighter or holds a firefighting qualification.

Number of Scholarships Awarded: 1
Dollar Amount of Scholarship: $1000

3/29 As of this morning, the Brush Creek Fire Station on the west side of the
Plumas has recorded 111.65 inches of precip. Maybe we can sell bottled
water to raise money to staff our engines.


3/29 Being the Safety Officer for our Dept., I look at all safety issues that I see in print, ie magazines, and on the web. But I also tell all of our fire fighters, structure and wildland, plus ems that they have to remember that they are responsible for their own safety at all times; goes along with the new buz words situational awareness.

Also those of us in leadership positions need to remember that you can delegate authority, but not responsibility.

As we start a new wildland season, lets all be Safe

The Old Man of the Dept
3/29 ADFA: A glass half empty or a glass half full?

I thought I would take this opportunity to bring folks up to date regarding the AD Firefighter Association, the progress of our initiatives, as well as offer my own take on where we need to go (a view that is hopefully pretty much aligned with the ADFA Board's vision)

The title of this e-mail message: "ADFA: A glass half empty or a glass half full?" says it all.

Depending upon the way you look at the world, ADFA has either accomplished "something" (i.e., "a glass half full") or "very little" (i.e., "a glass half empty"). Personally I've always been a "half full glass" type (though some might offer I've always been pretty full of something else!!).

So let's recount what we as an organization have done in the 3 years since we started ADFA. And we'll cover what we haven't done, since that's of great importance in what I consider a turning point in the life of this organization.

Three years. March of this year is the anniversary date of when I came back from teaching in Missoula so incensed by the 2003 rates that I threw together a web page that weekend and we had 75+ members by the next Wednesday. Lots of water under the bridge since then. A few successes, but many large challenges that remain.


  • We have an organization of 295 members, of which 56 are non-retired ADs, and 239 are ADs who are retired from the fire service (federal, state, local).
  • We have many "sympathetic" non-members, including ADs that do not join for whatever reason (fear of retribution, "non-joiners," do not agree with ADFA's approach, etc.). Of equal importance are the many fire management and fire operations folks throughout the country who recognize the value of the AD firefighter and support ADFA's goals.
  • We have a set of Bylaws, are incorporated in the State of Idaho, are a recognized non-profit organization under IRS Code 501(c)(5), and have a legal firm that handles our (infrequent) corporate issues.
  • ADFA initiated a Legislative Outreach program early last Spring in order to counter-act the 2005 AD Rate Proposal in which most positions were cut $2-$7 an hour. We feel that ADFA, along with agency folks who saw the folly of these cuts, were instrumental in the agencies' rescinding the 2005 Proposal and using the 2004 rates for 2005. ADFA has a comprehensive Legislative Web Page with copies of our correspondence as well as the names, addresses, and phone/fax numbers of the 535 US Legislators in the House and Senate and 50 State Governors.
  • We have established a good relationship with Senator Larry Craig's Office in Idaho and Greg Walden's Office in Oregon, as well as the Governors' staffs in NM, PA, and MT. This is a DIRECT RESULT of the Spring 2005 Legislative Outreach Program ADFA implemented by faxing 535 US legislative Members and 50 State Governors, along with your individual, personal letters to your elected representatives. These staffs are aware of the issues, including pay inequality and non-standard treatment of ADs. ADFA has been waiting for the release of the 2006 rates to determine our course of action with the legislative representatives. Senator Craig's staff person was particularly interested in the OPM Review the agencies had requested of the AD process. To our knowledge, the OPM review was cursory at best: rather than looking at the process by which AD rates are established, OPM apparently merely reaffirmed the applicability of the 1951 AD Pay Authority, with which we strongly disagree.
  • The 2006 AD Rate Schedule has modest increases for many positions, will not cut but will freeze hourly rates for others (Unit Leaders and ST Leaders), and has outrageous cuts for a few (e.g., Support Dispatcher). We feel that ADFA, in emphasizing the experience base of ADs, was responsible for grading ADs at the mid-step level 5 rather than at Level 1, which resulted in these small increases. However, a $2.50 increase is pretty slim pickings for (1) 3 years of hard work and (2) no hourly increases for several years now (the increases do not even keep up with inflation over the number of years since any type of increase was authorized).
  • ADFA is pursuing access to the rating/ranking work for each AD position that was performed by the NWCG AD Position Leveling Committee and which resulted in the 2006 AD Pay Bands A-L. Through examination of this work, ADFA may be able to offer the agencies assistance in resolving positions that appear to be severely undergraded.
  • For two years, ADFA has been stressing that contracting of personal services would provide a vehicle that (1) would allow the market to determine the rates, thus immediately and effectively ridding us collectively of the major item of disagreement, i.e., pay, and (2) would eliminate most if not all the various bones of contention and unequal treatment (use of cell phones, rental cars, laptops, etc - the list is endless) that create further conflict between the fire and AD communities. Region 8 of the USFS was a test bed for non-fire contracting to replace agency Katrina logistics/planning teams, and several companies currently have contracts.
  • ADFA joined the National Wildfire Suppression Association (NWSA), envisioning that we and this body could be useful to one another and mutually supportive.


  • The agencies continue to utilize an outdated, outmoded vehicle, the 1951 AD Pay Authority, to hire supplementary emergency personnel in the 21st century. With no overtime included for ADs under this Authority, the rates are highly unequal compared to GS employees who receive true overtime. Differences in 2-week paychecks between a GS employee and an AD employee range from the several hundreds to the several thousands of dollars (a comprehensive analysis of Pay Inequality is on our web site). We have yet to meet our goal of "Fair Pay For Work Performed."
  • Certain elements within the agencies are highly resistant to contracting of personal services. We believe several fire management groups including Geographic Area Coordinating Groups would like to go to this mechanism for fire, but the administrative side of the house is not buying in.
  • Assisting the agencies in solving the numerous non-pay issues that each and every AD firefighter appears to encounter each and every fire season
  • Maintaining a Board of Directors in a volunteer organization. Despite two e-mails to the membership about three vacant positions coming up for re-election (Vice-Chair/Chief Operating Officer, Secretary, and National Membership Coordinator), only one nomination has been received by the 3/28 due date.
  • Maintaining a membership that does not get discouraged by actual or perceived lack of progress.
Hugh Carson Chair, AD Firefighters Association
3/29 I spent Wednesday and Thursday at the International Association of Fire Chiefs Wildland Fire Conference in Phoenix. I want to thank all the participants, speakers, organizers and exhibitors. I thought it was a very well done conference. I really enjoyed listening to Chief Hawkins (CDF) about the Cedar Fire, and Chief Kelly Gouette about structure protection. Both are very professional and gave good presentations. It was nice to see a mix of federal, state, and local agencies around. For those of you who missed this, it was a informative event, and I look forward to the chance to attend in the future.

3/29 Nor-Cal Capt

Have you jumped on to that avenue that leads to CDF employment???
Better hurry, as the last I have read on the wages as of this July 1st
should really open ones eyes. Looking at your wages verses CDF
FC wages......... it appears that the CDF FC will make more
than twice the amount you are making......... and maybe
three times the amount. Now this is for a top step FC, which you
would not be.......... but it does not take long to get
there, and the bottom step pay is close to double yours anyway.
The lord helps those who help themselves......... I would use
everything available to me to get on with CDF if I were
you........... then you could easily afford those new
boots ( I always preferred westcoasts myself) and tires for that
pick-up. Next year you could write in here and boast.......
rather than complain.


Alternatively, he could become active, even more active in the FWFSA. Ab.

3/29 Steve and I would like to thank Mr. Maclean for his post,
It is truly amazing what the words "I’m sorry" can do to help mend a broken heart.

God Bless to you all and Please be safe

Steve and Jodi
3/29 John Maclean;

I'd like to throw my two cents worth in with
kj...thank you for writing in. As contentious as the
discussion got, it took guts to stand up and express
your point of view. I'm also glad Mellie talked you
into it, so thank you to Mellie too.

A more general observation...I've heard the view
expressed a couple of places that we're not looking at
the 2006 fire season, we're looking at the 2005 fire
season that never stopped. On the site, and from folks
in the field, I'm sensing a level of frustration and
irritability that feels more like the tired, burnt-out
end of the season than the beginning of one. Does this
sound like anything anybody else has observed? Are we
coming into the season fatigued? Does anyone with
longer experience than I (aka everybody) remember
another season like this? Are we looking at a safety

Nerd on the Fireline
3/29 Ab,

Here is a bill that was passed in 1992. This bill was introduced and passed to promote the recruitment and retention of federal land management employees.

What is important is that this bill was authorized and signed into law. What is even more important is that no funds were ever appropriated for it…. From 1992 to the present.

With the cost of housing so extreme in many areas, this bill is even more important now.



Land Management Agency Housing Improvement Act of 1992 (aka the Ranger Fair Housing Act.)


To improve the administration and management of public lands, National Forests, units of the National Park System, and related areas by improving the availability of adequate, appropriate, affordable, and cost effective housing for employees needed to effectively manage the public lands.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Land Management Agency Housing Improvement Act of 1992'.


As used in this Act, the term--

(1) `public lands' means Federal lands administered by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture; and

(2) `Secretaries' means the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture.


(a)(1) To promote the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel necessary for the effective management of public lands, the Secretaries are authorized to--

(A) make employee housing available, subject to the limitations set forth in paragraph (2), on or off public lands, and

(B) rent or lease such housing to employees of the respective Department at a reasonable value.

(2)(A) Housing made available on public lands shall be limited to those areas designated for administrative use.

(B) No private lands or interests therein outside of the boundaries of Federally administered areas may be acquired for the purposes of this Act except with the consent of the owner thereof.

(b) The Secretaries shall provide such housing in accordance with this Act and section 5911 of title 5, United States Code, except that for the purposes of this Act, the term--

(1) `availability of quarters' (as used in this Act and subsection (b) of section 5911) means the existence, within thirty miles of the employee's duty station, of well-constructed and maintained housing suitable to the individual and family needs of the employee, for which the rental rate as a percentage of the employee's annual gross income does not exceed the most recent Census Bureau American Housing Survey median monthly housing cost for renters inclusive of utilities, as a percentage of current income, whether paid as part of rent or paid directly to a third party;

(2) `contract' (as used in this Act and subsection (b) of section 5911) includes, but is not limited to, `Build-to-Lease', `Rental Guarantee', `Joint Development' or other lease agreements entered into by the Secretary, on or off public lands, for the purposes of sub-leasing to Departmental employees; and

(3) `reasonable value' (as used in this Act and subsection (c) of section 5911) means the base rental rate comparable to private rental rates for comparable housing facilities and associated amenities: Provided, That the base rental rate as a percentage of the employee's annual gross income shall not exceed the most recent American Housing Survey median monthly housing cost for renters inclusive of utilities, as a percentage of current income whether paid as part of rent or paid directly to a third party.

(c) Subject to appropriation, the Secretaries may enter into contracts and agreements with public and private entities to provide employee housing on or off public lands.

(d) The Secretaries may enter into cooperative agreements or joint ventures with local governmental and private entities, either on or off public lands, to provide appropriate and necessary utility and other infrastructure facilities in support of employee housing facilities provided under this Act.


The Secretaries shall conduct a survey of the availability of quarters at field units under each Secretary's jurisdiction at least every five years. If such survey indicates that Government owned or suitable privately owned quarters are not available as defined in section 3(b)(1) of this Act for the personnel assigned to a specific duty station, the Secretaries are authorized to provide suitable quarters in accordance with the provisions of this Act. For the purposes of this section, the term `suitable quarters' means well-constructed, maintained housing suitable to the individual and family needs of the employee.


(a) The Secretaries may determine that secondary quarters for employees who are permanently duty stationed at remote locations and are regularly required to relocate for temporary periods are necessary for the effective administration of an area under the jurisdiction of the respective agency. Such secondary quarters are authorized to be made available to employees, either on or off public lands, in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

(b) Rental rates for such secondary facilities shall be established so that the aggregate rental rate paid by an employee for both primary and secondary quarters as a percentage of the employee's annual gross income shall not exceed the Census Bureau American Housing Survey median monthly housing cost for renters inclusive of utilities, as a percentage of current income, whether paid as part of rent or paid directly to a third party.


(a) Within two years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretaries shall survey all existing government owned employee housing facilities under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, to assess the physical condition of such housing and the suitability of such housing for the effective prosecution of the agency mission. The Secretaries shall develop an agencywide priority listing, by structure, identifying those units in greatest need for repair, rehabilitation, replacement or initial construction, as appropriate. The survey and priority listing study shall be transmitted to the Committees on Appropriations and Energy and Natural Resources of the United States Senate and the Committees on Appropriations and Interior and Insular Affairs of the United States House of Representatives.

(b) Unless otherwise provided by law, expenditure of any funds appropriated for construction, repair or rehabilitation shall follow, in sequential order, the priority listing established by each agency. Funding available from other sources for employee housing repair may be distributed as determined by the Secretaries


There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out this Act.

3/29 Here's the National Federation of Federal Employees' letter to Mark Rey on competitive sourcing:


Date: March 27, 2006
To: Mark Rey, Undersecretary of Agriculture
From: Bill Dougan, President NFFE

Subject: Competitive Sourcing Study Proposed For Fire and Aviation Management

As I am sure you are well aware, through several conversations and electronic communications we have had on the subject, the Union is very concerned over the fact that the Forest Service continues to move forward on proposing to study, and ultimately compete, some or all of the work functions within Fire and Aviation Management. While we obviously have major concerns over the competitive sourcing initiative as a whole, which I am sure you are aware of, we are particularly concerned over this move to compete work functions in fire and aviation management.

One major area of concern is the fact that this competitive sourcing study is proposed to be done in an interagency fashion, with the study looking at the fire functions within all five federal agencies with wildland firefighting responsibilities. This presents huge problems with consistency and accuracy of data related to defining the work to be studied, as well as ultimately designing an MEO for purposes of bidding on the work to be performed. There continues to be differences in the definition of inherently governmental vs. commercial work between USDA and DOI, resulting in different categorization of positions (and the work they perform) for purposes of determining what work is appropriate or not appropriate to include in the competitive sourcing study. In addition, there are differences in requirements between USDA and DOI with respect to conducting feasibility studies prior to launching a competitive sourcing competition; again, these differences create the potential for differences in what work should, or could, be competed. And finally, it seems that there is a huge problem of trying to coordinate any such interagency effort between two Departments and 5 agencies/bureaus; the bureaucratic layers and differences between Departments and agencies/bureaus threatens to complicate the communication and coordination needed to the point of making it impossible to reach agreements and make decisions during the A-76 process.

There is also the unresolved issue of how to handle collateral fire duties, and the militia, which has not been successfully dealt with during any of the previous competitive sourcing competitions conducted by the Forest Service. Early on, the Union raised the issue of the need to figure out how to deal with the collateral fire duty work many of our employees perform, as members of the militia. This is work that is outside of the work performed by employees assigned to the fire organization, but is work that is crucial to the successful accomplishment of the fire organization and agency’s mission with respect to fire suppression, hazardous fuels reduction, and other fire-related work functions. About three years ago, the Union sat down with agency and Department managers in an attempt to address this issue, but the work was never completed; subsequent inquiries by the Union have either gone unanswered or have failed to respond with a plan and approach to deal with this problem. Repeated contacts with Tom Fitzpatrick, Program Manager for the Competitive Sourcing Office in the agency, has resulted in nothing more than an acknowledgement that the issue is still unresolved and “that is something we need to work on.”

I would submit that the agency cannot continue to ignore or side-step this issue any longer, given the decision to move forward with looking at competing fire functions under A-76. A significant amount of the work fire accomplishes is accomplished with the militia through employees with collateral duties. It is crucial to look at the work and determine what the work is, and how it will continue to be done, in light of potentially significant changes being proposed to the fire organization as a result of having to compete under A-76; indeed, if a contractor was to be successful in taking work currently done by our fire organization employees, what effect would that have on identical or similar work being performed by the militia?

The agency has invested a tremendous amount of resources (money, time and people) in training the militia workforce and ensuring they are made available to answer the call when the fire bell rings. The level of skill and amount of time required for these employees to obtain the necessary training and experience to hold many of the ICS positions is significant. It is unthinkable that the agency would be willing to risk losing that expertise and skill as well as the monetary investment in both the fire organization and militia. If work is outsourced, contractors will have difficulty in maintaining a workforce with the adequate skill sets needed to perform this work year after year.

Contractors providing fire-related services to the agency have had a less-than-satisfactory safety record. The long string of accidents, fatalities, injuries, and media coverage with the contract workforce in fire portrays a disaster waiting to happen. The recent USDA OIG audit report on Forest Service contract fire crews cites “serious control weaknesses with respect to the firefighting contract crews.” These weaknesses range from safety violations to lack of documentation for qualifications for fire positions. Is this the workforce that we want to hand the responsibility to for fire suppression and other fire work functions in the federal government? How will such actions be viewed by the public who lives and works on federal lands and in the wildland/urban interface? It seems to me we are risking public safety and failing to redeem our mission as stewards of the land by contemplating such changes.

Finally, I am also distressed that the recent March 21 letter to field managers announcing the data call for work activities performed by fire and aviation management employees, and which forms the basis for determining “what” work functions will be looked at during the feasibility study, gave only a 10 day response time for the data to be gathered and sent in. This timeframe seems woefully inadequate if an accurate accounting of the work currently being done is being asked for. Once again, in the rush to move forward, the agency is going to likely be doing so with incomplete and inaccurate data that forms the basis for choosing which functions will ultimately be competed under A-76.

I would be happy to meet or speak with you more about these concerns should you need more information or want to discuss the issues raised.

Cc: Hank Kashdan, Deputy Chief Business Operations

3/28 Ab,

Here's the Influenza Workforce Protection Plan the Bosworth mentioned:
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2006/fs_influenza_protection.doc (doc file; clicking will download it)


Thanks, Silk. Good info here. Ab.

3/28 Lobotomy:

I have spoken quite candidly to Mr. Harbour recently and sent the following letter to the Chief on March 16th. Sadly, no response yet.



March 16, 2006

Dale Bosworth, Chief
U.S. Forest Service
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Chief Bosworth:

On behalf of the members and the Board of Directors of the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, I want to clarify who we are and the source of information we obtain and often pass along to Congress in order to improve the pay, benefits and working conditions of our Nation’s federal wildland firefighters.

The FWFSA is an employee association whose origins date back to 1991. As an employee association, our greatest asset is our diverse membership ranging from entry-level firefighters to chief officers. As a result of that membership, we are fortunate to receive significant information from our members about staffing, budgets, the concerns about criminal prosecution post Cramer & Thirty Mile etc.

For several years now we have communicated with the Forest Service & other land management agencies informing them of our efforts to improve pay, benefits & working conditions for our firefighters. I spoke with you personally at Lake Arrowhead during hearings held by the Resources Committee. I received nothing but a blank stare.

We have been straightforward with our goals and objectives, not to mention our strategies. We have invited & encouraged the Forest Service to work with us on issues such as proper firefighter classification; portal to portal pay; inclusion of hazard pay for prescribed burns; basic health care for temporary firefighters and other issues only to be summarily ignored as a non-entity.

Fortunately, over the last few years, one body has begun to listen to us…Congress. This has resulted in the elimination of the overtime pay cap for federal wildland firefighters in 2000 and the increasing interest in HR 408, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act currently drawing bipartisan support in Congress.

Quite candidly, we believe if the Forest Service is going to oppose or object to legislation which we believe to not only benefit federal wildland firefighters but America’s taxpayers, we have a duty to educate Congress on issues of concern, specifically fiscal management of fire suppression/preparedness budgets.

Each day I receive phone calls and emails about staffing cuts, engines being manned 5 days a week instead of 7 etc., all in a year in which the FY ’06 outlook has identified the fact that nationally, we have already burned nearly 10 times the 10 year average in acreage as of February 3rd. We are already seeing devastating fatal fires in Texas. Engines are being parked, forests can’t hire and recruitment & retention remains a very serious issue.

We are also extremely disappointed in what appears to be your decision to audit engine captain positions and attempt to downgrade GS-8 engine captains to GS-7s. What kind of message does this send to your firefighters?

We are also disappointed in learning that the Forest Service apparently is looking for someone to “blame” for the information we have recently submitted to congress. Such information is no secret…especially when you represent hundreds upon hundreds of firefighters occupying all positions within the fire service. We don’t rely on regional foresters or forest supervisors or anyone else other than our members to provide information to us.

All we seek is what we believe Congress & the American public also seek. Money appropriated by Congress for suppression & preparedness budgets should go to suppression & preparedness budgets. If you need more, you ask for more, not worry about political rear-ends. It would be a welcome change to have the leadership of the Forest Service stand up and actually work to improve things for its firefighters.

Its time for the Forest Service leadership to stand up for its firefighters and help stem the tide of firefighters leaving the federal service for more lucrative careers with state and municipal agencies or retiring early because they are fed up with the system. The brave men & women who serve you and the citizens of this country deserve your support and your steadfast commitment to seeing that they get what they deserve in pay, benefits & working conditions.

If the Forest Service leadership is unwilling to make that commitment for its employees who risk their lives so often, and lose them as well, then might I suggest it give us the ball, get out of the way and let us run with it.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

3/28 SteveM,

The specific quote I had been responding to came from Tim's 3/21 post, which included this unambiguous paragraph:

"I have spent most of my career as a hotshot, including 12 years as a Supt. I am now on the other side of the radio as an FMO. Early on I became convinced that, as a fireline supervisor, I was responsible for the safety of my crew. There was no way anyone 75 miles away could compromise the safety of my crew. No way, no how."

That may very well be true for shots and jumpers who have such a high caliber of crew leadership, cohesion, training and experience. For others, including some recent entrapment fatalities, it's not quite the case.

vfd cap'n

3/28 Ab,

It might be helpful for readers (and their crews) to review the "media
interviews" guidelines on page 98 of the new IRPG.

As we have seen, sometimes even a journalist can get caught in the time
pressure of a high-consequence/low-frequency event. They can find
themselves answering a question, instead of being the one asking it.
Regrettable decision-making errors have been known to result.

vfd cap'n
3/28 I just got through with reading they said, and I would like to commend John Maclean for writing in and clarifying points and his point of view. It seems that John is truly apologetic for what was inferred from his comments. I truly hope that the Heaths and Allens read and possibly respond.

I would also like to say that I am amazed at the caliber of folks who write in. Their views are great especially for someone who is young and low on the pay scale. I like to know what more experienced people are seeing/feeling/knowing. This forum is great.

Thanks for the contact info.


3/28 Ab-

I want to say "Thank You" to John Maclean. for his apology regarding the
rumor spread about Heath and Allen. I hope their folks are still observing
this site.

All of us say things at one time or another that we soon regret. I felt
the apology was genuine and it took guts for him to express it. I know
I've been in situations where I've opened my mouth and out jumped a
havoc-wreaking gremlin that could not be retrieved. - leaves you squirming
until time brushes it away. (Luckily you screen our e-mails so we're not
squirming when we read our emotional responses the day after...thanks for
that last one.)

I hope the Heaths and Allens know how much they are thought about by
thousands of people in this community that they don't know. I can't
imagine the agony of losing a child, let alone having to endure it in


3/28 On 3/23 Tim posted a message containing the following:

“If I am a FFT2 I do not want some unknown FMO to keep me safe, I want my Crewboss, Engine Captain, etc. to do the job. I challenge you to find one IHC Supt or smokejumper sqaudleader who would admit that the safety of the tactics they employ could be compromised by management far removed from the scene.”

Here's how my mind interpreted the two sentences:

I trust my safety to my immediate supervisor. When fighting fire, hotshot and smokejumper supervisors do not allow safety to be compromised, especially by someone not on the fire.

Maybe Tim and I just have a similar background, mental slides, or see through the same lenses, cause I thought I knew exactly what he meant. I'm not sure how it could be twisted to mean that fmos or line officers cannot compromise safety. Weird how two such differing conclusions can be drawn from the same words isn't it?


3/28 Ab,

I saw the post on the BIRD FLU WATCHOUT page that had a link to the Forest Service Avian Influenza Bulletin #1. Thanks for the link. I haven't seen it yet on the Forest Service web or e-mail system.

In Chief Bosworth's note, he said, "We also recently distributed an Influenza Workforce Protection Plan. This document provides direction for field units on developing local plans. Bulletin #1 describes several other actions underway for communicating up-to-date, factual information on this emerging issue."

I am a fire manager and I haven't seen the Influenza Workforce Protection Plan. Anyone know when it will trickle down to the field? (I hope it doesn't act like WFPR dollars or it will never make it to the field..... sorry... tongue in cheek and meant to loosen folks up). If I haven't seen the plan, it means the ground level firefighters haven't seen the plan either.

I know the Chief has the ability to use the "FS ALL" command with e-mail..... this command needs to be used with both the Bulletin and the Workforce Protection Plan. It gets the message out to everyone at once. Hopefully the next Bulletin will concentrate on the importance of personal and family preparation.


Second thought,

It wouldn't hurt for the Chief to send an "FS ALL" message out to the troops regarding the GS-8 Classification Audit explaining what the heck is going on. I have yet to receive a single e-mail from the Chief regarding the subject..... just lots of e-mails that say "the Chief says....." or "the WO says"...... Who is best to represent what they say or think than the author?.. ie- The Chief. I would love to hear what his side of the story is.


My thanks to JM., SD., and MD. for participating in, and furthering the goals of the wildland fire community. You folks rock. You are all part of the wildland fire community and you stick you necks out for us.... I appreciate it. Ya'all stimulate critical thinking, research, and self observation..... the basics of learning. You are educators whether people agree with you or not. You set the seed.....

While many of us mostly agree, we sometimes hit road blocks that cause us to stumble and make mistakes. We are people and we don't always agree. Sometimes we feel we are in violent disagreement, but when we get to chatting or talking, we find out we are usually in "violent agreement" on the most relevant facts of the conversation. (If not, we agree to disagree and remain friends... thanks for the idea MB.. I learned something from you also).

Don't slight us folks who have to use monikers (we wish we didn't have to use them either).... we work(ed) for an agency that doesn't have a very good reputation for how it treats the people who ask questions, speak out, or try to think outside of the box. Maybe with future doctrinal change and review, monikers will not be needed?


That email from Bosworth is also posted below. Ab.

3/28 This is the guest book for the fireman that died in Ok

Please visit the Guest Book for Destry Horton.


Click on the above link or cut and paste the url into your browser's address bar.


3/27 Message from John Maclean:

Though I was away from home when the posts about me and my work first hit TheySaid, I've been reading them. I wanted to reply immediately to the Heaths and Allens, who have been unnecessarily hurt by what was said in Reno and by the inevitable misunderstandings that followed -- in fact, I wrote a response the first day this started, but the computer at the hotel where I was staying wouldn't send it. The unfortunate tone of some subsequent posts, however, has made me wary about replying at all. After talking to Mellie, however, and receiving her assurance that she also would like to see a conclusion to the current exchanges, I am making the following reply, beginning with my view of what happened at the Reno conference.

Debra Roth, as I understand it, was invited to the Reno conference to give a defense lawyer’s point of view on the question of criminal liability for firefighters because a prosecutor, Mike Johns, had spoken on the same issue at a previous conference. The issue is important, and the organizers did a service by inviting both speakers; they aren’t responsible for how things turned out.

I sat in on Ms. Roth’s session after giving a presentation of my own, which Ms. Roth attended. She referred to me several times during her talk and was very much aware that I was in the audience. She repeatedly corrected me about Tom Craven’s age – she said 32, I had said 30 in my presentation. (He was born in January, 1971, which means he was 30 at the time of the Thirtymile Fire, in which he perished.)

While describing how her law firm had represented some fire managers involved with the Cramer Fire, Roth solicited from the audience “rumors” about why the two firefighters lost on that fire, Jeff Allen and Shane Heath, had spent so many hours on the ridgeline before they were burned over. It was an odd thing to request – a lawyer soliciting rumors? For a while nobody answered. She became insistent, however, repeating her question until a member of the audience (not me) replied, “sport falling.” That didn’t satisfy her. She asked several more times for other rumors.

Rightly or wrongly, I felt drawn out by her questions. She had been using my name freely and challenging me on points of fact where I was sure I was right. And so, very foolishly, I reported the rumor that drugs had been involved.

I immediately regretted making the remark, and have come to regret it even more since then. It has caused the Heaths and Allens a hurt that is the opposite of what I and any other sensible person wish for them. I should have kept my mouth shut.
I and others expected Ms. Roth to discuss the credibility of the rumors. I tried a couple of times to break in and say something about their credibility – no one knows exactly what happened on the ridgeline except the two young men who were there. Instead, Ms. Roth used the rumors she had solicited to discuss what her law firm had done to pressure authorities not to proceed further against their clients; at least that’s my understanding of what she was doing; her presentation confused me and others. The rumors, as I understood it, would have been raised in defense if the authorities had persisted with charges. I feel sucker punched. But I said what I said.

The only good that has come of all this has been the opportunity for the Heath and Allen families to answer the rumors, though from the anguish that is clear in their posting any benefit came at a very high price for them. I’m sorry I had a role in the business. I offer my apology to the Heaths and Allens, and also to those of goodwill who have expressed concern.
A couple of points about the posts regarding me and my work.

First, an author’s best defense is his writing. I sign my work. Fire on the Mountain and Fire and Ashes have stood up factually and in other ways to years of intense public, media, and agency scrutiny.

Second, I thank those writers – even the critical ones -- who have put forward thoughtful positions, taken a civil tone, and put their names on their posts.

Sincerely, John Norman Maclean

3/27 Good afternoon everyone. Please excuse the length of this...

Let me share "my take" on the defense lawyer's presentation in Reno including the possible human factors considerations leading up to John Maclean's involvement. I'd also like to correct or clarify a few more points made by the lawyer. (For those who like spatial orientation... I was sitting in the back left of the wide conference room. John Maclean says he was in the right center-ish section. Ray Q was in the front-right center. It was a huge room.)

For organizational purposes, this presentation will utilize phases found in some fire investigations. My emphasis is on human factors. I do not seek to blame, but to facilitate lessons learned.

Pre-entrapment Phase:

I came to Ms. Roth's talk interested in what a legal defense professional had to say about professional liability. I expected

  • the presentation would shed additional light on the kinds of investigations and procedures that follow a burnover or near miss.
  • we'd learn the parameters of the legal playing field so we could all have a mental map of how the legal system works, including what a firefighter should or shouldn't say without a lawyer being present.
  • the presentation would follow the logical "rules":
    • introduction where the audience is told what will be covered;
    • content is clearly and logically presented;
    • summary and reiteration of the few most important points, aka "the take home message".

Context of my interest: We all know the legal quandary professional firefighter managers are faced with these days given all the rules that have grown out of fatality fires. During the Southern California 2003 conflagrations, firefighters had to fight fire under some extreme interface fire conditions in which it's impossible to fight fire safely and simultaneously document ALL the many rules and checklists the way a Grand Jury and court of law seems to want these days. So firefighters now live in a certain, sometimes confusing legal reality. How do they do the best job possible given the new legal parameters?

OK, so I expected some answers and this is what I thought the event organizers were looking for in her presentation too -- some clarity from a legal professional crafted for present and future Incident Managers and others at legal risk fighting fire in a complex organization in a very high risk environment...

  1. Specifically, if the worst happens on your watch,
    • how to avoid indictment,
    • what are the legal liabilities,
    • how to avoid them,
    • differences between criminal, civil and administrative liabilities;
    • types of investigations, their order and how they relate to the next step of legal quagmire
      • agency accident investigation,
      • OSHA safety investigation,
      • accountability investigation that can result in disciplinary action;
      • USDA / OIG criminal investigation,
      • etc.
  2. Possibly also the reasons why fire managers should consider getting professional liability insurance or at least enough information so they could decide.

Entrapment Phase:

In my opinion, Ms. Roth had a good powerpoint, a plan, and her talk started quite well. It was the last guest presentation of the excellent conference. The audience seemed relaxed, open and interested. She said she'd take questions as she went along. I don't think I was alone in feeling we would learn some very good, valuable things, maybe even gain some insights or understand some details available only to someone close to recent worrying legal processes. It seemed she'd made it clear that she'd entertain questions that might arise if anything needed clarifying.

She said she and her partner had been the defense lawyers for several people on the 30mile Fire and also for several people on the Cramer Fire, as a result of them having professional liability insurance. She presented her first few slides. The legal info was clear. She engaged the audience. At some point she began interjecting comments relating to the 30-mile and Cramer fires and referred to a vehicle accident that led to firefighter deaths. She solicited information . . . and then rumors from the audience.

She spoke and it seemed she was verifying a good number of her comments about the 30mile Fire with a person in the audience who I assumed was her legal partner. "As John knows..." "John will even agree with me on this." (I found out later she was addressing John Maclean whom she had only met a brief time before.)

As her talk progressed, I was shocked that some of her comments were incorrect. It seemed to me that the only follow-up questions she allowed were ones she liked. Some other comments she solicited left incorrect impressions. It was confusing, and became more and more unclear to me what she was really trying to convey.

Here are some of her statements that I feel were in error or misled the audience:

  • Tom Craven was 32. I don't know why she harped on 32. He was 30 when he died. His age was inconsequential to any point of interest in her talk. Regardless of his age he died way too young. (Aside: I was lucky enough to have known Tom. He'd been a student at a local college where I'd taught some night classes. He was a special person. Great guy, star athlete. He could get it done. I really liked his empathic reassuring style. He had a knack for working with people and putting them at ease.)
  • The drug use rumor she elicited from John Maclean regarding Shane and Jeff on the Cramer Fire. She did not correct or clarify it except to say that the Forest Service allowed no autopsy. Not true. That she did not know or did not choose to clarify was confusing and upsetting.
  • The brief, off-the-cuff comment she made about the driver of the van of young people who'd been drinking before going 90 mph and killing everyone in a head-on crash. If she was referring to the young people on the firefighting contract crew from Oregon, she was just wrong. I did some of the research to obtain contact info on a forensic specialist in TX who's studied alcohol breakdown products in bodies of people who have died in crashes. High alcohol level in such crash victims is attributable to biochemical breakdown products. Charges were never brought if I recall correctly. Why even bring that one up? Or if you do, have the facts straight.
  • On the 30mile fire, claiming that the escaped campfire with half-eaten hotdog and the inoperable pumps caused the deaths. Ray Quintanar got her to correct herself on that one.
  • The heartless fire investigators that interviewed her client firefighters way too soon after the 30mile burnover, never mind that it's the correct thing for investigators to do from a stress and memory perspective.

Burnover Phase:

So there's the context of John Maclean's comment. Should he have repeated a rumor? No. He shouldn't have said it. But in my opinion, she went fishing and she chummed him in. When she first asked for rumors, a number of people in the audience, myself included, were thinking or saying too much cutting, sport falling, joy logging. That was one rumor. -- UNTRUE --

But she didn't want that one. She kept casting out the rumor line more and more insistently, and lo and behold, a river ran through it and John Maclean bit. (Sorry John, I couldn't resist…) If I'd known that rumor would I have bit? maybe, I've said some unthinking stupid things in my time with the best of intentions... but <snip> was sitting next to me and I sure hope he woulda wacked me - HARD- as I opened my mouth <fishlike>!)

After Action Review and Lessons Learned:

John shouldn't have said it; he regrets it greatly for the pain it's caused; he'd take it back if he could and I feel for him. (In my estimation, he jumped in to provide an answer, expecting dialog and clarification. Confusion. Heck, I was confused too!!!)

I think the much greater responsibility for rumor and misinformation lies with the lawyer who consciously or unconsciously (lawyer habit?) involved the jury, er, audience. Putting on my human factors hat again... from her perspective there might be a human factors explanation as well. I just can't put myself inside a lawyer's head to figure out what it would be.

I don't know if anyone else found it ironic that Gordon Graham, the risk management man, speaker extraordinaire, and also a lawyer told the conference the day before

America was founded as a nation of laws. The good news is that the US operates under a rule of law. The bad news is that between 1776 and 2006, someplace in the mid-'60, we became a nation of lawyers ...

I can see him in my mind's eye as I share my disillusionment with him...
<big low very deep raspy ahh-haaaahh accompanied by his slow nod of assent> <the gleam in his eye>

He might say as well,

There are 3 rules of Risk Management:

  1. There are no new ways to get in trouble
  2. There's always a better way to stay out of trouble
  3. Things that go wrong in life are predictable, predictable is preventable.

This is my offering to all reading. It's "my take" on the defense lawyer's presentation and John's involvement, another slide for the slide tray... Gordon is right on. Others who were there no doubt have their truth. Mine is not definitive. If anyone has good notes on Ms. Roth's main points, would you please send them in? Somehow my thoughts and note-taking got sidetracked.


PS Anyone needs to, feel free to contact me through Ab. I'm happy to talk. (I'd rather not have personal contact info on the web.) Also ...I believe John's writing stands on its own. It's understood that any writing always comes from the perspective of the writer and different human beings view the world through different "lenses", so to speak. Mine are rose colored, I've been told.

3/27 Ab,

We got word at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation that Destry Horton, the volunteer firefighter from Oklahoma has died from his burns. We're checking into sending the family a WFF statue from the wildland fire community. I talked with the Union rep and he said there should be no problem with Destry's family receiving PSOB. That, at least is a relief.

Burk Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Sad news. Burk, next time you talk with any of those folks, please offer our condolences. Thank you for being there and keeping tabs on the help and support firefighters around the country need. Those Oklahoma, Texas, Southwestern folks are some of the nicest, helping-est  people out there. Ab.

3/27 For the guy who wanted a red bag list.



3/27 Ab,

Please send my thanks to everyone who has answered with contacts in
the other regions. I really appreciate their rapid replies and help.


3/27 I hope this is the correct email link...of course I hope for quite a lot this fire season.

I write because I have the dubious honor of being the last CDF fire lookout staff that manned a tower in 2005. Possibly the last CDF full time lookout ever. I am trying and keep CDF's fixed detection system operable and funded and am looking for others to help by writing their state government representatives, or anyone else they can think of that may apply, indicating support for funding/staffing all CDF fire lookouts. Any takers? An email to the Governor could help to. Contact info can be found on the ca.gov home page.

Thanks, hope to be watching over some of you during the 2006 season.


This Ab will write in...

3/27 Ab, FYI. This is circulating from Bosworth.


News coverage has been full of information and predictions about avian influenza and the potential for a world-wide incident similar to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. I’d like to give you my take on this.

While I think it is good business to do some organizational and personal contingency planning, I don’t want people to panic and assume the worst case scenario. The Forest Service is the best organization I know of at planning for and managing emergencies. We need to bring that expertise to this potential in a calm and professional manner.

Attached is a copy of Avian Influenza Bulletin #1. This is the first of our periodic information updates on the avian influenza and potential pandemic. We will send status reports and new information as it becomes available in the future.

We also recently distributed an Influenza Workforce Protection Plan. This document provides direction for field units on developing local plans. Bulletin #1 describes several other actions underway for communicating up-to-date, factual information on this emerging issue.

There are many unknowns at this point. While experts think avian influenza will probably get to the United States sometime in the next year by migrating wild birds, no one knows if it will mutate which would set the stage for a potential pandemic influenza outbreak. It would be wise to be prepared and I know we will be.

That’s my take.

Dale Bosworth,
Chief, USDA Forest Service

USDA Forest Service Avian Influenza Bulletin #1

Does anyone have a copy of the Influenza Workforce Protection Plan he mentions? Ab.

3/27 As far as items to pack in your red bag for summer travel to fire camps, I never leave home without the following:

- A big fluffy pillow and your favorite comfy pajamas
- Cosmetic beauty products as needed, but be sure to include aromatherapy items, pore cleansers and a night masque
- Dressy clothes and shoes for those special nights, but also some comfy walking shoes in case you want to take a short hike (don't forget – the belt, shoes, and accessories should all match). Keep your jewelry simple.
- Pocket horoscope
- Hair dryer (essential!)
- A handheld ultraviolet light (really handy to ensure your sleeping area is spotless)
- Cable TV Guide
- Your PDA, in case you want to make notes for your screenplay or take down someone's phone number
- A corkscrew and cheese slicer
- A restaurant and spa directory for your planned destination
- An umbrella and trench coat
- And stopping off to pick up gifts such as chocolates or flowers for your hosts can help make you feel welcome at your destination

Bon Voyage!
Sin Nombre


3/27 I was wondering if there is anyone out there who has gone either from fire to law enforcement or from law enforcement into fire that could give me some information. I am thinking about moving out of fire and into LE but I am still not sure of what I am actually going to do.

Any info would help. Abs can give you my info

3/27 Was wondering if anybody has an official list of required items for a "red bag" or something similar. I know some SHOT crews have this list and any optional items. Reason is I have to hopefully get one from somebody here or make one up and I do not have time until next week. Any help at all is appreciated.


Did you look on the FAQ page. There's a list there. Ab.

3/27 Re: Marcia's letter to Ray and Ed,

"On the HR Director's conference call we were informed that the Chief has
asked the WO HR office to pull together a team to review the classification
decision regarding the grade level of these positions. As you know, the
outcome of the review conducted in 2002 was that the positions are GS-7
based on the General Schedule Supervisory Guide. The review was initially
conducted in Region 3. Given the broad impact if the decision were
implemented agencywide, the team will be looking at this one more time to
ensure that all options are considered."

My observations....

1) Chief Bosworth wasn't the Chief at the time the original 1997 classification for position description N8017 was made or the 2001 UPHELD classification audit was held. BUT HE REFUSES TO LISTEN TO HIS EXPERTS or HISTORICAL fact from the people who were there...... his original classifiers and his wildland firefighters.

2) The 2002 Review was directed by the Chiefs office..... It directed that some Engine Captains would be GS-7's and the majority would be GS-6's.

3) The GSSG (General Schedule Supervisory Guide) was incorrectly applied and did not account for recent classification decisons or changes to the job as reflected by duty changes and supervisor statements. The Region 3 Audit even incorrectly evaluated factors 1, 4, and 5 at the contest of fire managers who said they were not adequately evaluating the duties of the position.

4) Broad Impact.... duh.... If a downgrade occurs, it will be the downfall of the agency.

For those of you not in the loop... the BS thing we are dealing with is that the base level of work in wildland firefighting is now described as the GS-4 level by the WO....... Engine Captains now rate out as GS-6's....... If the agency is kind enough to call them "Supervisors"..... then they rate out as GS-7's IF they (the Agebcy) include the agency interpretation of the GSSG. \The Region 5 Review had a completely different take on the issue.

A seperate classification group worked for hundreds of hours making these positions bomb proof. A completely professional group of classifiers classified position description N8017.

PD N8017 was challenged to OPM by a Region 3 classification appeal as to why it did not apply in Region 3. It caused a wide spread desk audit in Region 5 in 2001.

After the Region 5 desk audit, the position of GS -8 Engine Captina was upheld by internal FS classifiers. In fact, it was only 85 points from being upgraded to GS-9.

With all of the "Doctrinal Change" and the requirements for "All Risk" response (and no changes to the PD's), any educated classification specialist would see that the PD's are properly classified. If not, they open up a bag of worms they may not be prepared to deal with. Upgrade of Engine Captains to GS-9's.


3/27 vfd cap'n,

I had no intention of implying that an FMO could not affect fireline safety, and I apologize if I left that impression.  KD's post sums up my feelings quite well.  If the management of the fire has turned into a major cluster, the fireline supervisor still has a sacred duty to keep their people safe.  (LCES, anchor and flank, etc.)  Firefighters still have the obligation to look after each other.  After the fire AARs can be conducted and a SAFENET can be filed so that the matter can be looked into.

3/27 I have just caught up on what is being said and I agree with KD. Each person
should be responsible for their own actions. I ended up on a fire with a
"Free Lancer" who did not want to listen to orders. I had ordered a pull
back due to smoke and safety. He was lucky he didn't catch his truck on fire.

After the smoke had cleared I found out that we had almost driven into a
ditch, which would have gotten us in front of the fire.

Better safe then sorry.

3/26 Marc, if you send me your mailing address and phone number, I will get you a
new copy of the tape Kelly York data. Do you need copies of the reports also?

3/26 AB

I found this on the net and it is not mentioned on They Said so I thought I would pass it on.


Okla. Firefighter Burned In Wildfire Dies
Volunteer Was Badly Injured In Early March Fire

Condolences to family and friends... Ab.

3/26 Dear Ab:

Please let Lobotomy know thanks very much for the offer to share his materials
on the 1980 Panorama Fire but I think I have the information I was after.

Furthermore, please let VOL Dave know thanks for pointing out the CDF website.
I found what I was looking for there.

As an aside, I find it somewhat strange that there isn't any sort of published
account of any sort on the 1980 Panorama that is readily available to folks.

Your website is serving a useful purposed in the wildland fire community. Keep
up the good work Ab!

Marty Alexander

Thanks, Marty. 1980 was before fire data- and record-keeping was done on the web. That didn't really start until about 1998 or '99. How far things have come in a very few years. Look at the 209 database. Rich. Now there was an inspiration! Of course if we have a worst case scenario pandemic with 60% of workers staying home, and the web goes down due to people working from home, we could be in deep trouble in the fire world. Ah well, we'll let the WO people who make the big bucks plan for that. Ab.

3/26 Hey, I'm involved in training with our department (Manitoba Conservation Fire
Program). We use the Kelly York Story video for training our staff. However,
the only version of this video have been very poor quality. It seems that any copy
I've come across is just as poor. Does any one know where I can get a decent
copy? I've searched on the net with no luck. Any help would be appreciated.


3/25 Don't know if you received this info or not... Noname


On the HR Director's conference call we were informed that the Chief has
asked the WO HR office to pull together a team to review the classification
decision regarding the grade level of these positions. As you know, the
outcome of the review conducted in 2002 was that the positions are GS-7
based on the General Schedule Supervisory Guide. The review was initially
conducted in Region 3. Given the broad impact if the decision were
implemented agencywide, the team will be looking at this one more time to
ensure that all options are considered.

The team is tentatively scheduled to meet April 4 and 5 in Portland. The
team will consist of a WO Classifier, a R5 Classifier (Sheila Turbinton), a
BLM Classifier, an R5 Fire Engine Captain (designated by FAM) and Ed
Hollenshead in his new capacity as Dep Director, FAM. You should be
hearing from a WO contact on this as they work to set the meeting up.

We were also informed that the WO will issue a letter soon to all R/S/A's
informing us that we can not establish any new GS-462-8 Engine Captains and
that we should not fill any vacancies at the GS-8 level until this issue is
resolved. I know from the HR staff that there are numerous certs out for
Engine Captains, many of which selections were expected to be made within
the week. I asked the HR staff to proceed to fill the positions at the 7
if they were advertised that way and if we make any job offers at the GS-8
level prior to the WO direction coming out, we need to let the selectee
know what is going on and the possibility that the positions can be no
higher than the GS-7 level.

Also on yesterday, Dan Dufrene sent a message out to a host of folks
stating that the Region has cancelled all vacancy announcement and outreach
notices for the GS-462-8 Engine Captains. This is not the case. No
announcements have been cancelled and outreach has not been halted. I
clarified this yesterday in conversation with Dan. At this point I am
trying to do some rumor control regarding this piece of misinformation.
Please get the word out that we have not cancelled announcements nor have
we stopped outreach.

If you have questions, please call.

Marcia K. Staten
Director, Human Resources
Pacific Southwest Region

3/25 The final 2006 AD Pay Plan is posted on our web site at

We have also posted the AD Firefighter Association's analysis of pay
increases/decreases as well as pay inequality data.

More on this whole issue will be forthcoming.

Hugh Carson
Chair, AD Firefighters Association
3/25 Harv Forsgren is indeed a leader. What an awesome
piece that he wrote. I wish even in our times of
settlements in R-5, that the Regional Forester would
have the guts to do his job... stand up for his
firefighters like Harv has. The old school
classifications of "GS-07," for an Engine Captain are
ludicrous. Start trimming the fat from the top down,
not the bottom up. Kudos R-3, you have an awesome

Sign me, Wondering

It's my understanding that the new R5 Forester also has supported wildland firefighters in R5. The details may come to me. If anyone knows, please spout off. This site should be about thanking good people as well as pointing out limitations. Any other endorsements? Ab.

3/25 Well said KD

I agree 100%. On a fire this past summer I was FBAN and was looking at a
fire that burned primarily through a clearcut. It was looking really good. The
next day called for strong gusts but it was generally felt this fire was beaten.

The gusts came up the next day and the duff layer that was preheated and
exposed to the gusts caused some problems. Later that day when talking to
one of the Div Sups he told me one of his crew members said it looked just
like a fire he had been on a few years back that ended up tripling in size.

My point is the same as yours. Every little bit of information that can be
passed on and regardless of who passes it on should be considered. It may
be nothing, but then again there could be credible substance to that person's

I always say it is a poor day when I don't learn something new.

Dawg Fude
3/25 I have been a supervisor for several years. I have worked for 3 different Federal Agencies as a supervisor during those years.

I tell all my people that they should read as many books about fire and by fire fighters as possible. Then I want them to ask questions. I start conversations about what they have read. A few times I have been able to introduce them to people who were actually at South Canyon and on the forest(s) of 30 Mile.

I was lucky enough to have several talks with Paul Gleason about the fatality fires he had been on and experiences he had had. I learned a lot, and try to pass it on.

The one thing I try to bring forward in every firefighters mind, at all levels, is this. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY. If something doesn't seem right, ask questions. If you have a concern, and no one else seems to, bring it up. I have pulled out of fires to regroup on the basis of questions asked by people on their first I.A.  Everyone on the fireline has the responsibility to watch out for themselves and the people around them. This looking to blame someone, that isn't what firefighters are about. From my experience most of us are looking to help someone.

Kind of a ramble but I am sitting here getting a sick feeling inside reading all this. We have bigger problems. By 2010 how many of us will still have jobs? The fire year is looking to be a busy one. All predictions for hurricanes are that there are going to be more 'canes and stronger ones this year.


3/25 Re: The GS-8 Engine Classification Audit

Ab-- Here are some relevant quotes from NorCal Tom's link on 3/15: (I underlined
and added bold for emphasis). Harv Forsgren is a leader I would want to know better.


> From HARV FORSGREN, Regional Forester, Southwest Region in a letter to the Chief of the Forest Service, Dale Bosworth.

"I respectfully disagree with this decision and request reconsideration based upon what I believe to be incorrect assumptions presented in the evaluation statement."

"I have requested and received support from all other Regional Foresters to act on their behalf in my request."

"With the concurrence of Line Officers and Unit Fire Management Officers and Region Fire Management, it was determined that many locations in Region 3 met the criteria of the GS-8 because of changed management and fire environment conditions since 1997."

"A regional classification field review in 2002 of the Prescott National Forest resulted in the approved use of the GS-8 position description in the Region where the criteria was met. Forests proceeded with the GS-8 positions where applicable."

"As per your letter of March 13, 2001 which stated “the Appropriateness of the GS-8 Fire Engine Captain and Fire Engine Operator would need to be determined by classification specialists at the regional level and most likely verified by desk audit.”

"In March 2005 additional guidance was issued without field input that arbitrarily included the addition that the GS-462-8 position was again for R-5 forests only."

"In 2004 the Chief directed implementation of the Interagency Fire Program Management Qualifications Standards (IFPM)."

"The guide assigned the grade level to be GS-7/8 for the Engine Module Supervisor."

"We understand that the GS-8 Standard Position Description was based on supervising at least seven crew members to provide five-person staffing for seven days per week through the field season and crediting of physical dispersion as a special situation. We strongly disagree that the use of the Standard Position Description is only appropriate in California and we submit that the Southwestern Region has comparable complexities. We also disagree on segments of the decision where our regional evaluation was downgraded for program scope and effect and base level determination affecting supervisory duties and responsibilities."

"The decision only credits our Engine Captain with supervising work that is routine in nature and states that the majority of the work is at the GS-4 level."

"The configuration of the crew, engine, and training standards are nationally set and identical to Region 5."

"The decision also fails to give credit for the complexity of the work. This work typically ranges from operating a large, complex fire engine while supervising the crew, to becoming an incident commander responsible for supervising multiple interagency resources. Supervision of operation of the engine is not routine and varies from incident to incident depending upon the location of the incident, forest or wildland urban interface. The engine supports the work of the crew, which must be trained to operate in hazardous environments, extreme weather conditions, to build hand lines or deploy hose packs for long periods. The Engine Captain under time critical decision situations, is constantly evaluating, identifying, and analyzing strategy and tactics for a variety of forest, range, and interface mix, often in a unified command with other agencies and municipal fire districts. The challenges that face our Engine Captains in the wildland urban interface have increased in the last decade due to the encroachment of residential, commercial and human activities within and adjacent to our National Forest boundaries. They are dealing today with directing suppression actions on incidents with resource and structure values measured in the millions and not uncommonly billions of dollars."

"In addition the decision goes on to say “This factor is a critical difference in the GS-8 national SPD because the GS-8 position was designed for a fire program with the complexities found in southern California. The fire program in southern California is the most complex program in the agency. The fire seasons are longer than other parts of the country. The GS-8 position description is appropriate for use for positions supervising Type III engines with a crew comprised of at least seven individuals, the intent being to provide five person staffing seven days per week throughout the field season.”

"The critical difference in classification centers around the concept that only southern California, Region 5, has the fire complexities that justified the GS-8 grade in 1997. This concept appears to remain locked in time and fails to recognize the fire management, social, and environmental changes that have occurred service-wide across the nation since 1997."

"Much as the southern California complexities are considered applicable across all of California the same complexities now exist nation-wide."

"Given credit for the above factors, we feel that our position is properly classified at the GS-8 level. Based on potential negative ramifications to all Forest Service Regions, I request that this decision be reexamined and that it be reviewed openly and fairly."


Ab and All-- To sum it all up:

The Regional Forester said, with concurrence from the other Regions Foresters -

"I have requested and received support from all other Regional Foresters to act on their behalf in my request."

"Much as the southern California complexities are considered applicable across all of California the same complexities now exist nation-wide."


3/24 For anyone interested, here is the tour schedule for Evergreen International’s 747 Super Tanker:

Phoenix, AZ – April 1
San Bernardino, CA – April 4
Sacramento, CA – April 5
Albuquerque, NM – April 7
Houston, TX – April 10
Tallahassee, FL – April 11
Aberdeen proving Grounds, MD – April 13
Scott AFB, IL – April 18
Boise, ID – April 20
Missoula, MT – April 21
Moses Lake, WA – April 24
Fairbanks, AK – April 26
Anchorage, AK – April 27


3/24 AB, the 2006 AD Pay Plan is out in final. Anyone out there have a copy
of it or can direct me where to find it?


File Code:



March 21, 2006

Route To:





Data Calls for  Competitive Sourcing Activities -- Fire and Aviation Management   




Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director    






Fire and Aviation Management has begun preparing for the Competitive Sourcing activities under OMB Circular A-76.  This process is one of five objectives for improving government as part of the President’s Management Agenda.


The first step in this process is data calls that will define the scope of the study.  Your subject matter expert representatives, at their meeting in Boise, Idaho, the week of April 3, 2006, will use information gathered on these calls to develop the scope of the program activities to be studied.  That product will be presented to senior management representatives who are part of the Feasibility Study team and will review the data to determine which areas may be applicable under Circular A-76.  It is critical that the information collected be as complete and accurate as possible so that recommendations by the study team reflect our needs and desired future organization.  It is equally important that our personnel understand that there are no FTE reduction goals or targets in this process and this is an opportunity to improve the way we do business, and our aircraft and facilities.  There are four data calls to be completed:


D-1   Scope of Program data call. Completed forms from the Regions and the Washington Office for this data call to be submitted to Pat Norbury, National Aviation Operations Officer, by March 31, 2006.


D-2   Aviation Function Matrix data call.  Completed forms are to be collected by your designated Subject Matter Expert and brought to the April 3, 2006 meeting in Boise Idaho.


D-3   WCF and Maintenance Costs data call.  Completed forms are to be submitted to Pat Norbury, National Aviation Operations Officer, by March 31, 2006.


D-4   Process Improvement data call.  Completed forms from the Washington Office and the Regions to be submitted to Pat Norbury, National Aviation Operations Officer, by March 31, 2006.


If you have any questions, please contact Bob Kuhn, FAM Competitive Sourcing Lead, at (801) 725-5988, or Pat Norbury, National Aviation Operations Officer, at (208) 387-5646.


/s/ Larry Brosnan (for)


Director, Fire and Aviation Management

3/24 Ab,

Let me offer a somewhat hypothetical example, from which readers can form their own opinion about whether FMO's can affect fireline safety:

Suppose there was a lightning-caused fire on one district, and the initial attack resources came from a neighboring district. The IA forces including a type 4 IC arrive on-scene, and from their sizeup, request a type 3 IC. Air attack has already requested two hand crews, and the ICT4 confirms that order and tells dispatch that an additional two crews will also likely be needed.

The ICT3 dispatched to the fire turns out to also be from the neighboring district and is the DFMO of the forces on-scene. He has about an hour response time to the fire, although he never assumes command.

A variety of reasons are given: he arrives at the helibase in time to "put the second stick out" but decides to let the ICT4 keep the fire; or he was enroute but was told to "save" the fire for the ADFMO of the district where the fire is located; or he was enroute but was sent to another fire. In any event, he doesn't make contact with the ICT4 whose crew works out of his district.

Dispatch tells the ICT4 to not use the engine crew on-scene (because of work/rest guidelines) that night or the next morning.

The ADFMO does end up assuming command as ICT3 the next day and struggles with strategies/tactics to handle the fire in his district. By about noon of the second day of the incident, no "attack" on the fire has been done, except for a few retardant drops. By the time the first hand crew is fully shuttled to the fire on the afternoon of the second day, they only work as a complete crew for between five minutes and half an hour before they have to disengage due to increased fire activity. There are no elite fire crews - smokejumpers or hotshots - on the fire.

By the third day, the ICT3 knows he's losing the fire and asks dispatch to send out the Forest FMO to assist. The FFMO is in a meeting and can't leave right away.

The same DFMO from the neighboring district is in dispatch functioning as zone duty officer. He is told by the FFMO (now enroute to the fire) to not divert resources from this incident. Nevertheless, when a new fire start is reported, the DFMO/zone duty officer requests that the ICT3 prepare to release one or possibly two of the three helicopters from the first fire.

While these conversations are occurring, a fatal burnover takes place.

A half dozen individuals are disciplined for the incident, although only the action taken against ADFMO/ICT3 is publicly released. The DFMO for the neighboring district no longer works for the agency.

vfd cap'n
3/24 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated.

Additional job vacancies on the Jobs Page today.  Pacific Wildfire is looking for EMTs and Firefighters across several States.


3/24 Weighing back in on the Maclean issue:

I'll agree with a recent poster that Maclean does alot of finger pointing in "fire on the mountain" towards the BLM Grand Junction District FMO and AFMO as well as the BLM Fire Management in Colorado overall. But I will also say this; that if you watch the docu-movie, he does put blame on the firefighters that were there, it's not as though he says nothing about their mistakes. Again it's true that it is every individual's responsibility to be aware and accountable for their own safety, but it is simultaneously the Managements responsibility to not put their people in bad situations. I agree with the suggestion that I should talk to folks who were there and go to Storm King, I wish I could, but it's about 1000 miles east of me.

All I was trying to say was that as firefighters we learn from our experiences, and many times we base our tactics and actions off of what we've experienced in the past. If we didnt, we wouldnt use war stories, simulators, sandtables, or scenarios as training tools. If someone can read a book, imagine it in their head and ask themselves "what would I do in this situation" then I dont think theres anything wrong with it.

I can understand people being jittery as a fire manager these days. With all that has happened in the past 10 to 12 years as far as accountability, pin blame, IC's buying liability insurance, etc. it's sickening. This is firefighting, people, it's never going to be 100% safe, unfortunately things will happen.

In my opinion all these incidents have only served to do one thing and that is weaken our profession. We've become so focused on safety and implemented so many rules and use sexy safety terms like "risk assessment analysis", and "job hazard checklist" that we've forgotten the first of the 10 standard fire orders; FIGHT FIRE AGGRESSIVELY BUT PROVIDE FOR SAFETY FIRST. We sure do the safety part well, but I think that the profession as a whole is caring less and less about the aggressive part. Maybe I'm wrong but what the heck, it was only my two cents.

3/24 Anyone have any information regarding the rumors of a 90 day contract for the 747 "test"
super tanker? Heard
One Hundred Thousand Dollars a day availability and
Twenty Four Thousand
per flight hour...

Hmmmm that means a cool 9 million if no props turn for a 90 day contract...

All well and good to R&D new products (hmm 747 is not a new aircraft nor was it designed
to be an airtanker either) but we are currently how many millions short on the budgets with
Forests already cutting engines and crews?? And we are trying to demote the engine captains
to save $$'s?

AND what was the first thing I learned in BASIC Air Operations taught by the Forest Service???

GROUND TROOPS (Engines & Crews) DO!!!

Interesting priorities...

3/24 Dear Driptorch:

I have been in constant contact with a member of the NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee and am sharing information with him on the subject.

In 2003, while still affiliated with the IAFF, I proposed that the IAFF seek an amendment to 10 USC section 2465 which currently protects federal DoD firefighters from being contracted out except under certain base closure conditions, that would include firefighters from all five land-management agencies. I actually drafted the amendment myself.

Per the IAFF, they "didn't want to open up a can of worms."

It is clear to me and I think to union representatives that while the Administration has proposed the President's Management Agenda which apparently seeks to "study" just about every government function, and the bureaucrats at OMB are a wee bit overzealous in what we consider to be quotas and seriously lacking in any semblance of understanding about wildland firefighters and what they do, members of congress on both sides of the aisle have continually opposed contracting out federal firefighter functions.

The question is what is the best strategy to put this nonsense to bed once and for all. Obviously the Forest Service leadership, good political appointees as they are and representative of the Administration, will walk lock-step behind the druthers of OMB rather than tell the Administration "No more outsourcing studies on firefighters."

Sooo, someone else has to do that. I think with the FWFSA working with NFFE on this and the current nonsensical GS-8 audit (gotta love the timing of all this as the season gears up...must do a lot for morale) we will be able to not only demonstrate again that outsourcing fire is not cost effective or efficient, but will finally be able to educate those on the Hill as to the ridiculous costs of such studies at taxpayer expense and get someone to stand up to OMB and this entire outsourcing phenomenon and, to use a catchy phrase from administrations past...Just Say No.

We recognize how difficult it is, especially for those federal wildland firefighters who have recently spent time in Texas (maybe we ought to remind George W. that's his home state and it just lost a million acres and a dozen or so lives) to gear up for the season knowing these things are hanging over them.

I am confident NFFE and the FWFSA will use every resource they have to find these bean-counting bureaucrats something else to do with their time and waste tax dollars in some other way.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/24 Class C

We have used 50:1 in a stove and it does work - it leaves a ton of soot on your cooking stuff though, i am sure its the oil burning off and sticking to everything. It also clogs jets as oil and gas is dirty stuff to begin with. You can also use a couple of fusees cut in half lengthwise to get the sulfur out, pile this up in a shallow pile and light to boil water rapidly. It stinks to high hell, causes night blindness if you watch it, and will burn through most aluminum cookery if you let it. Otherwise you can boil a gallon of water in about 120 seconds using the fusees. Be sure to cover the water to keep the sulfur taste out or it tastes like hot springs water.

Later and be safe


3/24 Class C,

I have a MSR Dragonfly stove which uses white gas and kerosene. I think
you can use mix but will not burn as clean. White gas works just fine and
will burn a long time. Hope this helps you out.

3/24 Abs, All--

I only have a couple of comments this morning, so this shouldn't take long.

<snip> only writes about tragedies or tries to make near-tragedies appear so. Why? That is as far as I care to penetrate into the current discussion on that thread.

On a more important note, and a more technical one, does anyone know if the MSR all fuel stoves will function on 50:1? I'm looking for a more efficient way to cook the coffee in the morning, and if we didn't have to pack around propane cannisters it would cut the size of our coffee kit by 50%. MSR stoves would be preferable to any others but I would like to hear if anyone has tested any of the "all fuel" stoves on 50:1. The reason I am hot to trot on the MSR stoves is because our Siggs aren't Siggs, but actually MSR fuel bottles.

Class C Sagebrush Faller

OK, Readers, can we quit with <snip>? Ab.

3/24 <Ab>,

I didn't mention South Canyon in my post. My comments had nothing to do with South Canyon and I didn't offer my experience as an insult to <the original poster>. However, I do stand by my statement that inexperienced journalists are, in my opinion, an intrusion... pain in the arse...etc..etc.. Point of clarification, my post about these intrusions were not directed towards <the original poster>. In fact the only thing in my post directed towards you was my disagreement with calling the work of this author creative non-fiction. I expected a rise out of you but this time you took my post too personally.

I have read the work of other journalists who had obviously taken the time to understand the subject matter they were writing about and though I didn't always agree with them I respected their points of view. Other authors have a biography that include time on the line. This line experience gives these writers the ability to not only be creative but also objective in their pursuit of a story.

Lets talk a little bit about experience...I haven't survived 34 years in the business without gaining some knowledge along the way. I have less experience than some and more than others. My father didn't fight fires so I had to learn not only the skills but the culture of the ever changing fire organizations to survive in this profession. I can be a dinosaur at times and a progressive thinker and doer at other times. I learn things from my peers and the new recruits. I continue to be amazed by the capacity of wild fire organizations to adapt to changes in environments be they social or physical. I admire the individuals who choose to become wild land fire fighters and support t, like Chief Dan George said in the movie Josey Wales, their "struggle to persevere". My humble fire line experience allows me to provide this support in my own way. To be clear an un-muddled... I choose not to support the opinions of the author being discussed on this forum.


3/24 Good job Tim.

This is why I like working for FMO's like you. My
Supt and I will never put our crew's safety in the
hands of anyone else but ourselves. Yes this sets us
up for the liability if things go wrong, and yes we
accept that responsibility. I don't have any
intention of passing the buck to some "nebulous
management." We live in a culture of shifting blame,
and this has become our new model for investigating
fires. Human Factors are good, Swiss Cheese is good,
but accepting responsibility for your folks and your
actions is the first step in eliminating the need for
both of those. Most fire fatalities involving
burnovers are caused by a failure to act at the
fireline supervision level. There will always be
differing influences swirling around any incident, but
if you let those influences affect the way you manage
your crew's safety, you will be the one who ultimately
compromises their well being. This is why we hire
Supts, Captains, Foreman, Assistants, and Squaddies,

Hey Tim once you reach that FMO/ AFMO rank do you have
to take the official BOOGEY MAN class, or can you be
grandfathered in with all the blame, liability and
lame excuses? Can't wait to see JM's book to hear
which FMO caused the fatalities at 30 mile.

NEBULOUS MANAGEMENT...that's a good one!

3/24 Readers, please note:

Over the last couple of weeks a few topics here have provoked more passionate or emotional response than normal. We generally consider volatile debate positive and beneficial to the forum since opposing opinions or perspectives are more likely to be expressed and occasionally even committed lurkers are stimulated to respond.

While we enjoy a rousing, aggressive discussion as much as our audience, it can become much more complicated to moderate. We strive to maintain an impartial and evenhanded approach and conform to our objective of allowing a “free speech” area. That being said, there has always been a somewhat obscure gray area between the lines of what we judge acceptable or unacceptable for posting. Our decisions to decline posting some messages while posting others have understandably angered a few folks. In an attempt to help us and you to define and better understand the construction of an acceptable post, we are developing a list of guidelines we’ll use to establish a “policy”. We sincerely desire your honest input with this project.

The first guideline we are implementing immediately is the rejection or return for revision of any message that is directed towards a previous person instead of the subject matter in their post, if using their moniker or name makes the post more about the "who" than the "what" (that is more about their personality rather than the content of the message). It has been common and allowable to begin a reply to an existing message by referring to it using the poster’s name or alias. Often this is not a problem, as with discussion of boots or with kudos to a supervisor. In addition this may allow frequent readers to quickly associate the new message to a previous thread. However, we find it also can promote hostility between two or more writers instead of providing civil debate beneficial to all readers. We often ask posters to stick to issues not personalities, but we would like to see people responsibly crafting messages more like they're an after action review, more about the what not the who. We Abs have gotten tired of sending messages back and asking for a re-write. It takes hours out of our day. We know you've had training in this leadership quality. It would be nice to see more of it demonstrated in your posts here. If you’d like to discuss an issue with another person directly, we suggest inviting them to our Chat Room.

The next new guideline is that opposing opinion on any message is welcome and encouraged, but personal attacks on the poster must be avoided. It is pointless and counterproductive to accuse or belittle other posters’ motives, background, or character in order to dispute or disprove their message.

Since the emails are incoming as this is being written, you may already be subject to the new guidelines without being aware of them. If so, you will receive a reply requesting you update your post to conform to the new guidelines. As we continue, with your help, to develop and refine these guidelines, a page is being created and a prominent link will be provided for easy access. We encourage your input on this issue along with any others you feel pertinent and look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading and for your continuing (or new) contributions.

Original Ab and Ab.

3/24 Casey, Vicki, Lobotomy, and Company:

I do not know how many people saw this message through there email (got mine from a union friend) but...competitive sourcing has come to fire management. I do not have the letter that was sent to the RO's requesting the answers to 4 questions and oh by the way the due date to answer the four questions is Mar. 31.

One of the heads of the union states: they are planning on studying much of the fire and aviation management organization for the forest service and the other agencies. All 5 of the federal agencies will be doing a A-76 interagency study of fire management. They do not state how they are going to do it. The union is very concerned about this study.

After having seen the poor attempts the Forest Service has done with theses A-76 studies (IT, fleet maintenance, personnel etc.) I can only imagine how screwed up this will be, but if this is true you can bet we the employees will lose either by reduced grades or tours or our jobs!

Anyhow I cannot always keep up with all the A-76 study stuff, so has anyone out there heard anything else or seen anything about it?


3/24 Regarding the (degenerating) discussion of who has insulted whom between journalists and firefolks; what's the real issue here?

We have fire folks who want to do their jobs safely and well, we have journalists who want to document the lives and actions of firefighters. Journalists can enable firefighters to function safely by bringing fire and all its attendant issues to public attention; public attention influences agency policy and legislation. Awareness encourages defensible space, which makes our jobs easier and safer. Firefighters can enable journalists to do their jobs by granting them access and insight. Journalists are not firefighters. Firefighters are not journalists. We can never really UNDERSTAND each other's viewpoints without having done both jobs for extended periods of time, but we can empathize.

I know a couple of things about Shari's background, and I believe she's in a better position to empathize than most. Journalists can act as interpreters, allowing the public vicarious access, and empathy, to the world of firefighters. It's easy to say from a fire point of view that we don't need journalists, and from a strictly functional point of view that's true. But we exist within a social and political framework, and journalists enable us to influence bits of that framework that are important, and that we can't otherwise reach.

My main point is that empathy is a tricky thing, because between the access and insight that firefighters try to give journalists, and the story that gets to the public, the message gets filtered through the storyteller's life experiences and preconceptions, their prejudices and beliefs. I know there's some folks on the site who remember about two years ago and article came out on slate.com about how lazy and overpaid firefighters are, and I think somebody commented (Lobotomy? NCbrush6?) that the reporter sounded like a firefighter had stolen his girl. Anyway, empathy is tricky and subjective, but we need that empathy; empathy is why sometimes journalism tells us more than fatality investigations.

Good journalism is empathy with strict regard for the truth, and with careful control and full understanding on the part of author of his or her own biases. We can react with in shock or betrayal when something comes out in print that contradicts our own self-images, or our own preconceptions about an event. This is normal. If you step back, it usually tells us more about the preconceptions and biases of the author than about anything else. Then you either work around those biases, try to change them, or deny that person access. When something is factually wrong, as in the rumor about the Cramer boys, we can refute it as forcefully as practicable (I cried when I read that post). But name calling and generalizations about whole professions based on the conduct of few gets us nowhere.

Firefighting and journalism have a symbiotic relationship; how else do we get voters who have never seen flame in its natural habitat to care about us if we don't have effective communication with, and through, journalism?

There's a bunch more I'd like to say, but it's late, and this post is long. We all want safer firefighters, more effective communication, and mutual respect.

(tired) Nerd on the Fireline

Thanks Nerd. Good points. Ab.

3/24 Ab,

Since I’ve been going on about good and helpful journalism, I’d like to offer this up as an example. Maybe it’ll help turn the tide away from the “he said/she said stuff… I did a search on wildlandfire.com and didn’t turn up any discussion on Malcolm Gladwell’s work. If it’s there and it’s already been discussed, I apologize for duplication of a discussion thread.

Malcolm Gladwell is not a firefighter. He is a columnist and staff writer for the New Yorker. I came across Gladwell’s work in 2001 after hearing an interview with him on a radio program, I think NPR (not sure). At that time he was talking about what led him to write “The Tipping Point – How little things can make a big difference.” (ISBN 0-316-31696-2) I was particularly interested in what he had to say because I was really just starting to understand the concept of Human Factors as a distinct concept. I was also beginning to focus on trying to understand the cultural nuances of the various federal land management agencies, how investigations were conducted, and what dynamics could lead to situations like the South Canyon investigation(s). It was so foreign to me then that I had to read about it over and over to “get it.” And then, I still doubted that I did. Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” deals with the elements of epidemics, or why an idea or concept suddenly reaches a point where big changes happen very quickly. I believe that’s what happened at South Canyon. It was a Tipping Point for a lot of reasons.

I think Gladwell is an excellent journalist because throughout his writing he refers to the source of the material on which he bases his hypotheses. When a journalist does that, they make it possible to track it back and read the original article, study, etc. and to see if your interpretation of it matches theirs. That’s why I read with a highlighter in my hand. I don’t track back everything. But, with Gladwell, I can if I need to.

Tipping Point is a good read. But, in 2005 Gladwell’s “Blink – The Power of thinking without thinking” was released (ISBN 0-316-17232-4). In Blink, Gladwell introduces two concepts that helped me further understand decision making under stress and what happens during those periods. For the first time I could fathom what he calls “Temporary or Momentary Autism” and “Mind Blindness” – the consequences of physical shut down due to an increased heart rate. Two industry areas he used to exemplify what he was talking about were the police force (specifically in hand to hand attacks and gun battles) and firefighting. To help readers understand this very complex idea (temporary autism) he goes to great lengths to describe chronic autism. Any of you with autistic siblings, or children, or who know friends with autistic children probably understand where this is going.

“When someone is autistic, he or she is, in the words of the British psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, ‘mind blind.’ People with autism find it difficult, if not impossible, to do all of the things that I’ve been describing so far as natural and automatic human processes. They have difficulty interpreting nonverbal cues, such as gestures and facial expressions or putting themselves inside someone else’s head or drawing understanding from anything other than the literal meaning of words (p. 214)….What if it were possible for autism – for mind blindness – to be a temporary condition instead of a chronic one? Could that explain why sometimes otherwise normal people come to conclusions that are completely and catastrophically wrong?” (p.221)

So, who is Malcolm Gladwell that his observations and hypotheses about rapid cognition error should mean anything to me or you, particularly in the area of wildland firefighting? Well, beyond the fact that his research and writing appear sound and valid, I would suggest that it is our responsibility as readers to be critical enough to follow up on what he says. If it sounds plausible, then going after the material and specialists he cites is a good next step. It’s okay to question a nationally recognized writer. He won’t take offense. To help us out, anywhere there is a university there is a saintly individual (or group of individuals) called research librarians. It’s not necessary to be a student at the university to get their help. And every one of them I’ve requested help from has been so helpful sometimes I just want them to stop… If you can’t physically walk in, they all have telephone lines directly to their desks. It takes time to do this, and to track down what you’re looking for. But, when it comes to something as significant as this, the time is well spent.

Why am I looking outside of the firefighting world for answers to fatalities occurring on wildland fires? Because, so often the answers to a problem lie in a completely different place than where the problem exists. Also, often those who have unveiled these solutions have been able to do so exactly because they are not immersed in the pond with the alligators. I’ve mentioned Karl Weick’s work previously. How many people in wildland fire have actually read the piece so often quoted? If not, go ahead…do it…(I had to actually read it about 6 times.) “The Collapse of Sensemaking in Organizations: The Mann Gulch Disaster.” (Administrative Science Quarterly 38: 628-652. 1993) www.myfirecommunity.net/documents/TheCollapseofSensemakinginOrganizations.pdf  (Ab, again...I apologize if this document is in the archives and I’ve missed it. If so, please feel free to replace the link I’ve provided to the link on the site. My intent is to make it simple for folks to go directly to the article, print it and read it.)

The important point here is that Dr. Weick wasn’t interested in firefighting, per se (at least from my reading of his research). He was interested in the organizational dynamics of Wag Dodge’s “outfit.” He used Norman Maclean’s story of Mann Gulch to first, understand the setting and the storyteller, assess the authenticity of the storytelling, the ability of the storyteller, and then turned his attention to what he was really looking at. Dissect “Collapse” and Weick’s process not only makes perfect sense, like any great academician/researcher, his reference section provides enough reading and background information to intellectually fund a complete undergraduate degree without stepping foot on a university campus (okay, minus the general ed. stuff) Try “Confronting Chaos,” “A recognition primed decision (RPD) model of rapid decision making” (by guess who? Gary Klein), “The Savage Mind,” “ Causes of failure in network organizations.”

In addition to thoroughly examining Norman Maclean’s book on Mann Gulch, Dr. Weick reviewed 65 other works (okay, four of them were his previous research) . I don’t say this to make it sound intimidating, but to suggest that Weick is showing the way – opening the door and inviting you in to read and think and challenge the authenticity of his thinking and brainwork if you need to. Those works are painstakingly listed in the reference section for anyone who’ll take the time to go look them up.

So, if I’m such a hot journalist, why aren’t I silent like others and working feverishly on my own book, reserving all of this intellectual stuff for a product I can sell? Why am I sticking my neck out to talk about events in Missoula? Well, I am working on a number of writing projects, none of which are making me real popular right now. However, I think it’s important to encourage folks to be critical about what they read, question why it’s being written, who’s doing the writing and what research supports their work. I write to educate myself and others, to encourage thinking and questioning. To find answers to questions and solutions to problems. Fame and popularity? I’ll leave that to others, I guess. I think this discussion is important enough to get involved in. And, I don’t think encouraging or participating in this discussion decreases what I have to write about. That’s what Mike DeGrosky was doing – Challenging what I’ve said for its validity. No harm in that.

Mellie, with your psych background I’d be interested to hear what your thoughts are on Gladwell’s momentary or temporary autism & mind blindness hypotheses as they relate to fighting fire.

3/24 Tim,

I just want to make sure I've got this straight:

1. There are firefighters who believe that FMO's and line officers cannot compromise fireline safety.
2. But, some of those same people believe that John Maclean has somehow made us all unsafe?

vfd cap'n
3/23 Firemang, If you can determine the "facts" because you "read both books and have seen the docu-movie that the History Channel did on Fire on the mountain" I congratulate you. I would suggest that Intothewind's method of "walking the ground, reading all of the reports, findings, reviews and discussing it with a number of individuals that were on South Canyon that fateful afternoon" might be slightly more effective.

I could forgive Maclean if it was just a matter of getting some facts wrong, it would be hard to hit 100% on that mark. What bothers me considerably more is the "us vs. them" or "victim mentality" that he tries to set up. (And then to use incorrect information to back his opinion is, in my opinion, egregious.) As I said earlier the further you remove the authority, responsibility, and accountability from the fireline, the less safe that environment will become. This good-guy vs. bad-guy mentality is more than wrong, it is counterproductive and fosters an unsafe working environment. If I am a FFT2 I do not want some unknown FMO to keep me safe, I want my Crewboss, Engine Captain, etc. to do the job. I challenge you to find one IHC Supt or smokejumper sqaudleader who would admit that the safety of the tactics they employ could be compromised by management far removed from the scene. Do not allow that responsibility to be removed from the fireline!

I think that is where Maclean failed. If you read his later writing he seems to believe that prior to South Canyon firefighters did not have the right to refuse an assignment.

I get very nervous to think back to the mistakes I made as a line supervisor. They were legion. I had the benefit of working with some incredible individuals who watched out for me, made suggestions, and helped me look good. We looked out for each other, and I am truly thankful for all of them. The supervisors at South Canyon were very good folks who also made some mistakes. But if you try to take responsibility for firefighter safety away from the line supervision and bump it up to some nebulous management, and try to instill that into our culture, you can only decrease the level of safety out there. That is the problem that I have with Maclean. He does not understand that as a fireline supervisor the buck has to stop there. He just don't get it. I will never understand what it is like to be a reporter in Chicago. Maclean will never understand what it is like to be a firefighter.

3/23 Mike,

I would be happy to talk to you. Ab has my contact information, as you do.

There is one person who deserved a place at that table. I doubt the conversation would have been the same if he had been there. No “mysterious sounding innuendo” intended, Mike. And, since the relaying of the head table discussion was by someone from that table, I trust that it is accurate. I’ve followed up what I needed to.

The “just another reporter….journalist….” etc. comments that have been mentioned repeatedly I interpret as an attack on journalism in general. Journalism is tough. Dam*ed if you do and dam*ed if you don’t.

My post was to encourage personal investigation, being a critical news/reading “consumer,” the importance of learning lessons from leaders, and less reliance on reading a book for the lessons.

I’ve had this discussion with you before. If you’d like to chat again, let me know. I’d like that. I learn a lot from your columns.

3/23 Ab, I'm at S-580 in Tucson this week. Just heard about Ely. I'll try to find a photo when I get home.


Thanks TC, I look forward to  posting whatever you can find.

3/23 I will weigh in that after reading Fire on the Mountain, it did answer two questions that I had. And that was after walking the ground, reading all of the reports, findings, reviews and discussing it with a number of individuals that were on South Canyon that fateful afternoon. So when Maclean comes out with his work on 30 mile my suggestion is to look for answers to questions that you may have. I have unanswered questions on that fire as well. Maybe he will answer them maybe he won't, but the factual report did not.

And by the way, one of the questions that Maclean answered, at least in my mind, was that Mackey was clearing the line, and was redeeming his responsibility as he saw it as the leader in that situation. 

3/23 Shari:

Interesting post. Not one to post here often, but I was most definitely caught by two things in your message and must respond.

1) Haven't seen anybody attacking journalists, but I have seen people attacking one journalist - who has recently been reported to have engaged in what most would consider crass, unethical behavior while an invited guest at a meeting hosted by the Forest Service. I can not substantiate that report, but it has been reported here on this site just the same. 

2) You stated that, while you were seated at the back of the room "....Even so, the stretch of space was not sufficient to mask the conversation going on at the head table, which, in my personal view, was disgusting. But, from a writer's point of view, worth jotting down." Having been seated at the head table, I am very curious about this statement. I know where you were sitting, we spoke at your table that evening. I do not "buy," for one minute, your ability to accurately interpret the discussion at the head table from 50 feet away in a noisy banquet hall. I am particularly convinced, since your generalization about it is, quite simply, dead wrong. 

There were a number of people seated at that table, and whether you intended to do so or not, you have insulted them all equally with your mysterious-sounding innuendo. Defend journalists (and the one in question) if you must, but please do not do so at the expense of people who do not deserve to be painted, broad-brush, by your very mistaken generalization. You should know better and owe better.

Mike DeGrosky
3/23 Oliver,

The ability to write well – or not – has little to do with finding and then telling the truth. Also, truth is not some ethereal concept – at least it shouldn’t be, particularly in a fatality investigation. I have no problem at all with you disagreeing with me, sir, but please, if you’re going to try to insult me, do so in plain English. By attempting to muddle this point with the insinuation that your “extensive” fire experience elevates your ability to understand “the truth” beyond my humble capability, you’ve made it clear to me you’ve misunderstood the point.

Tell me, Oliver, did ODF send you on assignment to Glenwood Springs? Is that how you are so well informed in terms of South Canyon and the related investigation?

Journalistic intrusions? My goodness! This is the closest I’ve ever seen to the suggestion that firefighting and the organizational and psychological issues surrounding it are beyond the comprehension of the …well…non-firefighter. (What do you think, Mellie?) It’s a good thing there are those who disagree with this position. For example, if it hadn’t have been for Dr. Karl Weick there are so many fire related issues that would not have been examined from an organizational perspective. And, based on Weick’s work and current collaboration with Ted Putnam, even more is being done in terms of examining ways to improve safety on the fireline. Ted’s fire background is extensive. But Dr. Weick? Oliver, are you planning on attending the upcoming HRO Conference? Dr. Weick will be there. Perhaps you can compare your extensive fire background with his, and then discuss the validity of his work on High Reliability Organizations. It certainly would be valuable information to take back to your agency.

Creative Nonfiction – it’s not such a bad genre. If a piece of writing is labeled as it should be.


I strongly disagree with you on this…when something goes into print as “The True Story”…it better be just that. If it’s not, then …. it’s not. You say it’s good if firefighters can read something and learn from it. But, if what they’re reading leaves out critical information, how reliable then are the “lessons” they’re learning? I would argue that it would be best for firefighters to learn from their leaders – good, strong leaders - and from the facts of a true investigation report, not one full of holes. Are you waiting for Maclean’s book on Thirty Mile to “learn the lessons”? If you’re hungry for those lessons, stop waiting for the book and go find someone who WAS there. Don’t be embarrassed to do that. They will talk to you. Are you looking for ways to train firefighters under you about Thirty Mile? Even more reason to pick up the phone and call someone reliable who can mentor you through that process. The printed word has so much power it’s scary. Too bad there aren’t more campfires where the likes of Paul Gleason (www.fireleadership.gov/...leadersGleason.phpl) can keep teaching their hard won lessons. I guess what I’m saying is…find the wise ones. Then ask your questions. Don’t wait for it to come out in print. Still, just because someone is old and grizzled doesn’t make them wise. It just makes them old and grizzled.

Here’s to truth…

3/23 I’m looking for the business sized certificate Apprentice Sawyer cards. 
Can you tell me where to find them or point me in the right direction?

3/23 Shari,

Hate to disagree with you on the creative non-fiction title for John Maclean but I do. Maybe we need to put some S courses together for journalists so they would have the skill sets needed to be professional with their journalistic intrusions into the wildland fire world. For those that want to book this particular speaker I would offer this...It's hard to keep the camel out of the tent once its head is in...

As for having differing opinions... bobble headed figurines all have one thing in common... but sometimes you need to shake your head in a sideways motion to exercise your given right to disagree. The difference with JM's opinions and mine is experience on the line. When you and I disagree the difference is that you can write better than me.


3/23 Tim and Shari,

I agree with "couplemorechains", John Maclean has done his best to bring the questions we all have after reading some of these "official fire reports" from South Canyon, Thirtymile, etc. and in my opinion laid the facts on the table and let the reader get out of them what they may. I agree Stephen Pyne is an excellent writer ("Year of the fires" was an awesome read) and Norman Maclean's book brought the lessons from Mann Gulch to a new generation but give John Maclean his due. Both of his books "Fire on the mountain" and "Fire and ashes" were good in their own way too. I dont see how he in Tim's words "distorts the facts". I've read both books and have seen the docu-movie that the History Channel did on Fire on the mountain and like I said before he lays all the facts out for everyone to see, and from there you are left to gather them up as you wish and formulate your own opinion. 

I hear he's coming out with a new book to be released later this year on the Thirtymile Fire that occurred near Winthrop WA. I wasnt at Thirtymile, I dont know anyone that was at Thirtymile, but I've read the USFS report on it and I have questions. For instance the first 2 resources to get there were a Type 6 engine and a 3 person IA crew with 1000 feet of hose and a Mark 3. They had 3 to 5 acres on fire as well as two 1/2 acre spots. And they did nothing? The Entiat Hotshots arrive a little later and the foreman sends the engine and IA crew home? A few hours later the foreman orders the same amount of equipment he just had? I want to know why a qualified engine boss would not take action on the fire and B. why would a hotshot foreman send home pumps and equipment when he had an unlimited water source in the Chewuch River right at his fingertips? Maybe he had a good reason, maybe he had a foolish reason, I dont know, but maybe John Maclean through his research and his writing might answer that question, such as he did when he answered the question of why were airtankers werent ordered in the first days of South Canyon? Because the Colorado office of the BLM had a policy saying that airtankers couldnt be used unless fires were manned.

So John Maclean isnt his father, so he has a different writing style than Stephen Pyne, big deal. The bottom line is that the man presents the facts, and if firefighters can read it and learn from it then what is wrong with that?

3/23 Re: Maclean

Perceptive comments. There is a specific genre of writing where I personally believe John Maclean’s writing belongs – Creative Non-Fiction. It’s a genre that allows for creative license. …For author interpretation and creative extrapolation. Anyone follow the “A Million Little Pieces” story?

Now - I would encourage you all to resist bludgeoning the journalism profession. Folks, I was in Missoula too. And I wasn’t using a moniker. I listened to Maclean’s pontification. During the course of the evening, I sat across the table from Ted Putnam during the whole presentation and I watched his face. Oh, by the way? We were sitting at a table in the back of the room. Even so, the stretch of space was not sufficient to mask the conversation going on at the head table, which, in my personal view, was disgusting. But, from a writer’s point of view, worth jotting down.

Regarding journalism - There are incredible researchers and writers out there who have been and are committed to telling the truth in a way that educates and enlightens. However, the temptation to alter and shade the truth for the purpose of improving personal market share and book sales I can imagine would be powerful. After 20 years in the journalism field I’m still what you call a “poor reporter.” (Which (((wringing my hands))) I would hope to emphasize refers to my bank account from journalistic paychecks and not the quality of my writing.)

I, unfortunately, was a lowly reporter when South Canyon occurred. I happened to be working in the base hometown of two of the individuals who died. …And so started an obsession with finding the truth, particularly after the South Canyon investigation report was released…or perhaps I should say “Tossed to a pack of hungry wolves…” The holes in that report served to attract more of my attention than the South Canyon tragedy itself. The issues emerging – Human Factors on the Fireline, Truth in agency investigations, interagency cover ups of critical evidence, falsification of training records. These issues are complex and present such a quagmire of investigative effort that I would strongly suggest y’all step back and say…”Who the hell is going to stay latched on to that when the financial result is so pathetic?” Agency folks? I would argue not, as intimidation and career wrecking were at stake, and did, in fact, occur. General market journalists? Only long enough to get the surface story, as reaching the more complex one is like watching the Matrix, and would result in missing that daily deadline.

So, come on y’all…lay off the trashing of journalists, who, for the most part, earn less than most firefighters do. Try to understand the conditions and situations that lead to the Maclean-esque work out on the market. And last, understand that there are journalists out there trying really hard to first, get up and over the learning curve and understand “the story” and then second, to tell it to you before your attention drifts lazily on to the next article on the page after less than, say… 60 seconds. (Doubt me? Watch someone read a newspaper... the Oregonian, SF Chron., NY Times, etc….just sit back with your latte and watch.) I encourage you to pay attention to more than the frothy cream. Most often the real guts of the issue are mixed in with those disgusting, undesolved chunks at the bottom of the mug, the gritty ones that nobody really wants to take in one last swig.

Finally, remember that Maclean’s father – Norman - was an incredible journalist, a former firefighter who later developed his journalistic abilities. This man’s work should not be remembered in light of his son’s current path.

So, to clarify:

Norman Maclean ROCKS! - “Young Men and Fire” ISBN 0226500624

(Available through /books/books.php )

John Maclean – son of Norman Maclean. Genre – Creative Nonfiction.

Shari Downhill
3/23 Important discussion of probable avian flu pandemic when the virus goes human to human
Interview with Dr. Michael Osterholm: 

The flu bug that could bring the world to its knees

Print this one off and send it to your family members,  friends, and to your Safety Officers. Ab.

3/23 What is up with these cold temperatures in Alaska, and the rain in Arizona? it is a weird wacky world out there when it is cold this time of year in alaska, and it is raining in Arizona. You can bet that mother nature is going to have a crazy fire season this year. If I get an assignment to Alaska, you can bet that i am going to leave my rain gear behind, and No bug dope for me. and I am also going to bring my rolling luggage suitcase because wherever there is a fire in Alaska, there is an airport nearby. I only hope that I can get Clack to drive me a round in the love bus sometime soon. and I heard that the dining hall at Fort Wainwright is going to be charging 6 dollars a meal if you work there, and they will not be serving lobster anymore this year!!!

@my 3:00
3/23 Looks like Washington State is gearing up for a substantial fire season. 
Just visited their web site and saw many openings. www.dnr.wa.gov

3/22 New posts up on birdflu. Some people sent in some questions on new research published yesterday. Mellie gives some context for what they mean. Ab.
3/22 Does anyone know if there is a Region 3 Engine Foremans/Captains Group?

If there is, could you please provide a contact name/e-mail/phone number etc. to me.

I would like to speak to them about the upcoming GS-8 Engine Captains audit 
A.S.A.P. I would also like to hear from any GS-8 Captains in Regions 2, 3, 4, 
and 8.

Thanks in advance.

3/22 Misery Whip and . . .

I'm with you. Like Misery Whip, caught M's talk in Missoula, and was really 
turned-off - and that was not the first time. Personally, I am boycotting his 
presentations and books.

Sign me,

3/22 I guess I must have passed over the posting where it was announced that we would cease to deal with issues in a mutually respectful manner, agreeing to disagree, and would instead start personally insulting those with a different opinion than ours, especially on issues like Cramer and GS-8 Engine Leaders income levels.

It's staring to read an awful lot like the "Letters to the Editor" in my local paper: <snip A> and <snipB> attacking <snip C>, who attack <snip D>, who condemn all those who aren't like them.

And I thought that us firefighters were different.....! Must have been listening to the HR Specialist in the ICP too much lately.


Amazing what an engine audit followed by one or two posts will do. It has been rather lively. I've been busy with meetings, etc, and not paying extra close attention... (Mollysboy, who is disagreeing about Cramer? I thought Jodi and Steve wrote an important letter and some logical comments followed from that. What do you disagree with? I don't hear any of those contributors really disrespecting each other, just asking questions and making comments.) Ab.

3/22 Marty Alexander,

I have some handwritten documents from the Panorama Fire and a copy of the 
Panorama Fire video I would be willing to share with you.

Contact Ab for my e-mail address.

3/22 NorthTree Fire International is now accepting applications for seasonal and CWN firefighters for the 2006 fire season.  See the details and links on the Jobs Page.  OA
3/22 Here is our new logo for your website, art work done by
Gabe Wishart, Union IHC, Sr. FFTR.

Union IHC Logo

Nice. I'll post the bigger one on the logos page when I have time. Ab.

3/22 5thyrrookie,

Keep a personal personnel file of your own. Get a copy of everything that is presently in your official personnel folder (OPF). Continually update your personal copy. Every personnel action, performance appraisals including fire ratings, job descriptions, etc. Don't throw anything remotely related to your employment away, put it in your personal folder. When I retired my personal personnel folder was five times as thick as my Official personnel folder. You never know when a new regulation of something comes along and you will need to document your work history.

Yes I needed mine to document my work history to qualify for firefighter retirement when that first came along about 1975.

Tom Jones

3/22 5thyrrookie

Keep everything. I have witnessed one lawsuit and been part of desk audits before.

In the lawsuit a lot of pertinent files and documents disappeared. The only copies in
existence were the ones that the individual doing the suing had in their own hard copy
files. That made the difference in the case.

For the desk audit the paperwork showing the responsibilities and mandatory duties
and training made the difference. The papers for the position didn't show that, the
papers for the personnel did.
I hope that helps.


3/22 Hello all,

First off, let me thank all who responded to my post regarding roughout boots vs. Regular.
I decided on the roughshots with roughed out counters and vamps and smooth uppers.

Now on to my next question to you federal employees:

What records should I be keeping regarding my employment files, such as my EDR and OPF's (which will be sent to New Mexico relatively soon)? I plan to copy all of them asap but I guess that my main question is after I copy them, how often should I update my personal records? What is their use to us personally? Has anyone out there had to fall back on their personal copies in order to keep or receive what is rightfully or legally theirs?

If this does not make sense, ask for clarification and i can do it.

3/22 from the NIFC site

from the CDF site

lots of info...

VOL Dave

3/22 Dear Ab:

I wondering if anyone can direct me to a written source (or website) concerning
stats (lives lost, homes burned, area burned) for the 1980 fire season in
California, including the Panorama Fire.

Thanks very much to one and all.

Marty Alexander

Readers, can you help Marty out? Ab.

3/22 Re: GS-8 Classification Audits


Don't forget the real world simulation from the fire folks from the Cleveland, San Bernardino, and Angeles National Forests..... as well as the participants from CDF and County fire. Actual fire simulations were the key to understanding the position of a wildland fire captain's duties.

Engine Captains from throughout Region 5 participated. Several FEOs from Region 5 also were reviewed.

SoCalCapt, the classifiers read your statement but didn't understand it in their blurred and undereducated professional eyes. They needed a real world demonstration to put images with facts..... ie- the Mill Creek exercise. The exercise went well showing physical dispersion... It went even better when the topography and rainfall made communications useless just as it does on a normal fire.......

Hopefully they will do the same thing in this audit..... if not, they are not looking at the real picture of being an engine captain or the real duties of an engine captain. If they fail to look at the "big picture", it will be the biggest class action classification review ever........ And the Captains will win again. It is a battle they should not instigate unless they know their facts. The battle could be turned upon them and make Engine Captains GS-9's as they are with DoD Station Captains...... But we "should never compare forestry technicians with firefighters"? Or should we?

CNF Capt in 2001

3/21 Re: GS-8 Classification Audits

Here is what I said five years ago to the classifiers and also posted to they said on Feb 22, 2001.

A Captain is supervising a type 3 engine with other engines on a rapidly developing wildland fire. They have been working the fire now for two hours and the captain is 5000 feet away from the engine on a hoselay and away from the supervision of the Fire Engine Operator. Scattered along this hoselay are members of the engine crew who are returning with more hose. Some of these members have radios and some do not. The engines run out of water and they begin to shuttle water from a source that is ten miles away.

The engine captain is still supervising this whole operation WHILE HE OR SHE IS PHYSICALLY DISPERSED FROM THE WORK BEING PERFORMED but still responsible for that work performed and the safety of crewmembers performing it.

One example in the GSSG states "a supervisor working in a large warehouse or factory where physical dispersion makes supervision difficult". How could any classifier not realize that physical dispersion does exist with these positions. For anyone interested in the matters of the classification, please read the two above guides and relate them to your official PD. That is how these positions were classified and certified.

(Now a PO'd BC/ADFMO who supports the Captains and can't figure why this is happening again)

3/21 Aerial firefighting pioneer Joe Ely dies in Chico at age 94

The man credited with giving birth to modern aerial firefighting died Monday in Chico.
Joseph B. Ely was 94.
As a forest control officer working in the Mendocino National Forest in the 1950s, Ely was interested in making wildfires safer to fight by attacking them from the air.

Others had tried with very limited results. But Ely, who saw 15 firefighters die in 1953 while fighting a Mendocino National Forest blaze from the ground, had a special incentive.
In 1995, Ely asked a Willows pilot if he could adapt a crop-dusting plane for aerial firefighting.

Vance Nolta concocted a gate, a dump valve and a mechanism to operate them from the cockpit of a Stearman 75 Kaydet.
With Ely looking on, Nolta tested the device on a small fire at the Willows Airport, and it worked.
The very first drop on a live fire came in August 1955, when the Stearman dumped 100 gallons of water on a crashed logging truck that had touched off a fire near Covelo.

Additional planes were converted and the first squadron of seven pilots, all from Glenn and Tehama counties, was flying against fires on a regular basis the next summer.
Ely's main contribution was conceiving of a coordinated attack on a wildfire from air and land, and developing the equipment and practices necessary to allow that to happen.

Ely reportedly earned $100 from the U.S. Forest Service for the notions that led to aerial firefighting. In 2003 he told an Enterprise-Record reporter he spent the award money at a tavern, buying drinks for the pilots.

Ely was born in Pewaukee, Wis., in 1911. He graduated from Yale University in 1935 with a master's degree in forestry and spent his whole career with the Forest Service.
He moved to Chico following retirement and taught forest and range management courses at Butte College and Chico State University.
His wife, Katherine, died in 1997.

Ely witnessed aerial firefighting's progression from those small, converted crop-dusters to today's S2-T turboprop tankers capable of dropping up to 3,000 gallons of retardant.
But he never flew a plane.

Last year Ely was the honored guest at a 50th anniversary celebration of aerial firefighting, which took place at the airport in Willows.
Frank Prentice, 79, the only surviving pilot from the squadron, was the keynote speaker for the event.
The original converted Stearman crashed years ago, but it's been purchased by pilot Gary Hendrickson, who plans to restore it.
An aerial tanker authority from the Smithsonian Institution has officially identified the Stearman as Tanker No. 1.

Memorial services for Ely are pending.

Matt Streck
Fire Apparatus Engineer- MVU, CDF

Thanks Matt. Our condolences to all. Ab.
Hey TC is Joseph Ely in one of these photos you took last July? If not, does anyone have a photo to share?
photos: Rattlesnake dedication 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (thumbnail only); plaque

3/21 For anyone interested, here are some links to help with the GS-8 Engine Captain Audit.

The issue that seems to be at the forefront is the term "physical dispersion". It can be found under the General Schedule Supervisory Guide under "Special Conditions".

The evaluation statement for Position Description N8017 (GS-8 Engine Captain) states the following in regards to physical dispersion:

"The engine crew is routinely subject to physical dispersion during emergency responses, creating an inherent difficulty for the supervisor even on small incidents. This results in work being carried out at more than one separate location. The supervisor is responsible for the employees while they are at other locations while on the home unit, as well as on fire assignments. The incumbent frequently supervises work that is being performed in different locations. The supervision and communication with subordinates is routinely complicated by limited visual contact (due to smoke, terrain, vegetation, etc.), unreliable radio communication, night-time work assignments, and crew members frequently changing locations. Credit is given for this factor."

Classifiers Handbook:
www.opm.gov/fedclass/clashnbk.pdf (pdf file)

Grade Level Guide for Aid and Technical Work in the Biological Sciences:
www.opm.gov/fedclass/gs0400.pdf (pdf file)

General Schedule Supervisory Guide:
www.opm.gov/fedclass/gssg.pdf (pdf file)

Since the initial classification in 1997 and the subsequent classification audit in 2001, the duties have changed quite a bit. Here is an example: Special Situation - 1 - Variety of Work....

"1. Variety of Work: There is only one type of work associated with this position -- forestry technicians engaged in wildland fire suppression. No credit is warranted for this factor."

For areas that are required to have medical first responder and hazmat first responder, this meets the factor and credit should be awarded.


3/21 Yellowjacket, your question endears you to me in a strange sort of way... <uh-oh> <watch out>

My style is to look at interpersonal interactions from all possible directions, to try to understand particular events from a human factors viewpoint, to try to see the world through the lens of the other person before attributing their behavior to "bad" intentions or any intentions at all. Maybe they're just thought-less?

I don't see the world as black or white (and sounds like you don't either), but I'm interested in what might live in the variety of greys that could further illuminate us to ourselves, or what might live in the white, leading to a little more grey, leading to a little more grey, leading to a little more grey, until it's black as night... And could I please get some night goggles while I'm at it???... I know, I'm a bit off-norm that way, but people fascinate me, nah, not everybody, but the people I get interested in fascinate me. <see, now you're in trouble, yj>

I don't feel anything negative about you at all. You say I've seemed to respond as a contrarian (my word) to you on theysaid. Probably true... let me apologize in advance... here's what I go thru... when confronted with hard and fast opinions or anger and I don't know the person, I generally find myself wanting to soften edges for all and get some mental breathing room. This allows me to maintain my flexibility of thought and exploration, to get a fuller picture if that's possible. I like to have the freedom to hold the person/ incident/ interaction/ decisions made/ choices in my hand, turn them/it to scrutinize from all directions, see the details, if any, to learn from. (Hopeless, eh?)

People don't go out and decide to do things that turn out bad for themselves and others. Most of us don't. But it does happen. I learn from others when I can look at situations and ask, "How would I have done that differently? Would I have? What might not be apparent here?" I know there are times I might have appeared callous or self-serving or opinionated or lacking leadership, just as I judge others to be from time to time. Does that mean I intended to be any of those things or that I am those things at my core? Does it mean that they are? Does it mean I should change my behavior? Hmmm, maybe behavior change is in order. For me the possibility always exists... The only way I can evaluate that is to bring my KSAs to bear on everything I see, feel and hear. Feedback, communication is key to change.

Yellowjacket, thanks for the honesty. I'd love to give you a hug. <big warm enveloping bear hug> Thanks for your honest contributions to the dialog. (If ever you want to get in touch on the phone or by email Ab will give you my info...)


Aside: One thing that crosses my mind occasionally... Competence... <fret fret> Original Ab has said he'd tell me if I'm incompetent. Ever since the research showing incompetents never know they're incompetent, I have doubted whether I'd ever see that in myself.... <big eyes> <full of wonder> <desiring to see all>

3/21 Ab, could you post the following document regarding the GS-8 Engine Captains Audits.

Thanks, noname


File Code: 6150-1 Date: March 17, 2006
Route To: (5100)
Subject: Classification of Engine Captains
To: Regional Foresters


As you are aware, the grade levels of Engine Module Supervisors/Engine Captains are not consistent Forest Service-wide. The discrepancy in grade levels became even more apparent during the fire hiring build-up in 2001. A team was convened to conduct desk audits of Fire Engine Captains and Fire Engine Operator positions in California. The team concluded that the Fire Engine Captains were correctly classified as Supervisory Forestry Technicians, GS-462-08. The grade level of the Engine Captains was based on supervisory responsibilities, and, in particular, the crediting of physical dispersion as a special situation.

A recent classification appeal from Region 3 has caused us to revisit the classification of these positions. Because there are now over 250 GS-8 Engine Captains in Regions 2, 3, 4 and 5, the Chief has asked the Human Capital Management Staff to convene a team to review the classification of these positions. The team will be comprised of classification specialists from the Washington Office and several regions, an Engine Captain from R-3 and R-5, the Deputy Director of F&AM in R-5, an Engine Captain and a classification specialist from the Bureau of Land Management, and a union representative. The team will review both the supervisory and nonsupervisory work and the Factor Levels credited, and will consider the effect, if any, that future anticipated changes in the fire program will have on these positions.

We realize that your Human Resources staffs are stretched very thin, but we are hopeful that we can have at least several Regional classifiers participate in this review. The team will meet in the R-6 Regional Office in Portland on April 4-5 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. to complete the review. Please advise Kathleen Burgers, Director, Human Capital Management, by March 29, if your Regional classifier or another experienced classifier can participate. We request that Regions 3 and 5 provide the name of an Engine Captain who will best represent your respective Region.

Until this review is completed, you are directed not to fill any new or vacant GS-8
Engine Captain positions. If you need to fill an Engine Captain position, you may use the national interagency Avue Position File (AFM07C) for a GS-462-07 or a Regional standard position description at the GS-6 or GS-7 level. If the position was previously classified at the GS-8 level, you may include language in your vacancy announcement that the incumbent may be promoted non-competitively to the GS-8 level, subject to a classification review. If you have an open announcement for a GS-8 Engine Captain, you must advise potential selectees that the classification of the position is under review and that the review could result in the position being classified at the GS-7 level.

We are confident that an open and fair review of Engine Captain positions, both in California and elsewhere in the Forest Service, will result in a sound classification determination. We will advise you of the results of the review by April 21.

Questions may be directed to Gary Wilson, Branch Chief, Benefits, Pay, Performance and Classification, at (703) 605-0865 or via e-mail to gwilson@fs.fed.us or to Kathleen D. Burgers, Director, Human Capital Management, at (703) 605-4532 or via e-mail to kburgers@fs.fed.us.

/s/ Jacque Myers (for): /s/ Kent Connaughton (for):
Deputy Chief for Business Operations Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

cc: Michael Bunten
pdl wo OPS HRM class officers
pdl wo OPS HRM employment officers
pdl wo OPS HRM personnel officers

3/21 Hi Ab,

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has been asked to help three injured volunteer firefighters in Texas www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,188487,00.phpl. All three are breadwinners and not able to work. One gentleman remains in critical condition and his prognosis isn’t good. Two others will require surgeries. They were working on a fire in Texas, one of many that have burned more than 900,000 acres.

We invite the community to donate toward helping these men. There were also seven firefighters injured in Oklahoma the first of March. We have been in touch with some folks there about helping families in that area as needs arise.

We appreciate everyone pulling together to help these firefighters.

Melissa Schwagerl
Office Manager,
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks for the heads up Melissa. Looks like some fun events coming up. Thanks for all you do.

Readers, if you haven't yet joined the 52 Club for the year, please do so. Get your co-workers to sign up. This is our Foundation. Joining the 52 is easy and it protects all of us should trouble occur. In this case, maybe folks could dig a bit deeper to help our great TX and OK volunteer firefighters who were injured. I'm sending my check in. Ab.

3/21 AD,

Last week I saw a few resource orders in ROSS for MAFFS support in NM.
They were UTF'd due to unavailability. Hope this helps you out.

3/21 AB,

A question for ya, How much do you make? and does it pay the bills?

I make roughly $41,000 a year BASE pay, with OT and H it worked out to $54,000 in 2005. That's $13,000 more than base with roughly 400 hours OT and 300 or so of H. Add that up and I took home $30,000. that's $2500 a month for all my expenses.

House payment----$1460
Truck---------------$400 The wife has a POS car that's paid off.
Food for the family--$300

ADD IT UP DUDE!!!! here let me help ya $2485

Now I need tires on my truck cause driving to work is important so I can get my UN-PAYCHECK to not pay my bills. So the tires cost $200 a piece that's $800, Oh damn I have to put gas in my truck so I can go and get my tires but I had to change the oil first, so now I cant get any gas to goto work to pay for my tires that I can't fricking afford anyway. But I gotta have them so I take a loan out of TSP for $1000. That loan cost is a $57 deduction out of my pay so now I bring home $2443. But I still need gas so I take the $200 left over from the tire loan and buy 78 gallons of gas at $2.56 a gallon, my truck gets 15mpg so I can roughly drive 1170 miles. Work is 30 miles from home one way so that's 60 miles a day, so I can goto work 19 days before I need gas but that's does not include the around town stuff I have to do. Which I figure its about 100 miles a week.

With all that stuff I forgot my whites are worn out from last season. So I take them to the local whites dealer to send them away and get them rebuilt for $180 with shipping that's $234. I paid both ways. New boots are $380. Then in my pissed off mood cause I am broke, I remembered its my 4 year olds birthday and she wants a new toy that costs $50. My wife and I stress over that not to mention the B-day party for her with her little friends, another $70 for food and a cake. Then at the b-day party my dog keeps taking the kids food, ah crap I need dog food there is another $35. Now here is the kicker my phone rings its my fire buddies they want me to go fishing with them! So I told them I cant cause I am broke! Felt like crap saying that. Now after they called my wife slips on some rock and falls down and cracks a tooth. I rush her to the dentist, they fix her tooth temporarily so it does not hurt and say that she needs to come back next week for a root canal and then a crown. Well at least she is going to be ok. I ask the secretary how much my FED insurance will cover she smiles and says $58 and the total cost for this is $2400. Now with all that normal stuff in life that does happen, anybody know how in debt I am a month? Roughly $2800 for the month of Feb! Now some JACKA$$ named Dale wants to cut my already crappy pay? Cant wait to see what happens this month. Anybody got a bullet? lol!!!

Do ya see a problem here?

By the way AB, I was married when I got my job as a PFT 0462. But I did need a house and wanted a child so you can either keep your opinion to yourself or go see Casey and pay for him to goto D.C. with all the extra money you make! To do his best to help us out!!!!!

Knowing how people can be, my wife does not work she is going to school for a degree to be a teacher, at night and by internet. Why a teacher knowing the pay is not $100,000 a year like the engineering degree folks that were talked about in an earlier post by "young and dumb in R-1"? Because she wants to do it, that's why!! Plus child care for one 4 year old 5 days a week 9 hours a day is $500 a month. So she stays home and raises our child and does the school thing.

Now that is just me speaking for myself, what if I was a GS-6 yeah right, they are working 2 jobs and their spouse has to work 3. Not slamming you 6's out there just making a point.

Just in case you were wondering, my buddies I wanted to go fishing with work for CDF. Guess what? they all have enough money to go fishing on days off.

I don't mean to upset you but get real, you speak like a Bosworth follower that once again has the only facts he is told or makes up. So whoever you get your info from needs to be fired. Start listening to the folks on this site and maybe just maybe there will be a US Forest Service in R-5 in 2 years. Reason I say that cause in R-5 I know of atleast 25 Captains ready to except jobs from CDF and to be honest if I get a call well "its been real its been fun but is hasn't been real fun".....

Retention... that word is a joke; it's not retention that is the problem its $$$$$$


You really don't want to ask me how much I make per month. But thanks for the details, I think... Ab.

3/21 Ab,

I don't know if you have previously posted the attached tribute.

Old Fire Guy

For Those Who Fell

To those who stir when they ring the bell
To those who fly for those who fell
To those who sleep on Storm King Hill
And to the call no longer will
Rise up and feel the dragons breath
Stood tall among us and then faced death
They humbly bring us to our knees
As we pray to God our Father please
Give us the strength to stand the test
To honor those who have gone to rest
Up on that mountain steep and tall
Remind us Lord that we can fall
And make us ever mindful still
That the sustaining fire of life can kill
We promised Lord to never forget
And to fourteen we owe a debt
And so each time I hear the bell
I go to fly for those who fell
Help me remember most of all
I as easy could also fall
Remind me of ten orders true
And eighteen things I should not do
Give me the strength of Angels wings
And wisdom to remember things I should not forget
And to fourteen I owe a debt
They left their moms, dads, husbands and wives
And won't be there to shape their children's lives
And so each time I hear the bell
You know I fly for those who fell

Chris M. Schenck, 4/2000

3/20 Couplemorechains, I am going to disagree with you and take the opposite opinion concerning John Maclean.

I think that John Maclean has done nothing to benefit the fire community and may have contributed to a decrease in firefighter safety. I also think that he is more self-serving than a Chinese buffet.

John’s father Norman had spent some time on the line as a firefighter. He touches on that at the beginning of Young Men and Fire. That book was a masterpiece, which should be required reading for every firefighter. Norman’s prose is masterful, and his writing is objective.

John Maclean is not a firefighter. He never was and never will be. He is a siren-chasing reporter. Take a good look at Fire on the Mountain. It is written more like a novel than a non-fiction book. You have your protagonist, antagonists, love triangles, blood, guts, and gore. Important facts are wrong, others are ignored. Key characters are played down.

I have spent most of my career as a hotshot, including 12 years as a Supt. I am now on the other side of the radio as an FMO. Early on I became convinced that, as a fireline supervisor, I was responsible for the safety of my crew. There was no way anyone 75 miles away could compromise the safety of my crew. No way, no how.

Maclean has tried to introduce a management boogey-man for his book. Why? I don’t know for sure, but I think it has to do with him not having a clue about fire and trying to sell books. As an FMO I shudder that some line firefighter might think that I hold the key to their safety. I try my best to train, equip, and empower firefighters, but I cannot control the decision process that takes place on the line.

Maclean has tried to introduce us vs. them or protagonist vs. antagonist mentality, and to some extent he has succeeded. The further you remove the authority, responsibility, and accountability from the fireline, the less safe that environment will become. "The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise." Colin Powell

There were many good people on the hill at South Canyon. Some good people made mistakes. Does Maclean have a clue what it is like to work as a supervisor in a dynamic high hazard environment while being affected by fatigue, stress, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, frustration, and all of the other factors that decrease your effectiveness? No! Good people can and will make mistakes.

Charlie Palmer and Steve Smith may think the world of him, but I think that Maclean has now become a ghoulish, macabre figure, trying to make a career niche in the field of wildland fire fatalities.

If we need to have a modern day scribe to replace Norman Maclean I would nominate Steven Pyne. His writing is excellent. You can tell he knows what smoke smells like and what sweat in your eyes feels like. I would love to meet him some day.

Couplemorechains, concerning Maclean, if “he’s on our side” I want to switch sides.

3/20 Here's some things for the Forestry Tech. line of thought:

Things to remember after demob when you return to civilization:
Don’t throw away your silverware after each meal
Don’t throw away your plate or cups either
Remember when using indoor toilets, don’t forget to flush
Yellow and green are no longer in style
You no longer need a demob slip just to go to town
You don’t need a request or order number to get everything
Drinks don’t come out of feed troughs or garbage cans
You no longer need to worry about breaking your fork at dinner
Paper is to write on, not to sleep in.
Water comes from a faucet, not a cubie
Lunch isn’t served in paper bags
Breakfast is anytime you want, not 4 a.m.
No generator will be available to “hum” you to sleep
News in on T.V. not on a bulletin board
Houses aren’t made out of plastic, nylon or cardboard
You don’t have to shower with 18 other people… unless you want to

You know you're a forestry tech. when assembling a mile and a half of hose and running up a hill to catch a fire is a good day

You know you're a forestry tech. if you have ever cursed at a rookie for using armor-all on everything in your engine/crew haul, including the seats and gas pedal (this makes for a very slippery ride to a fire for those of you who haven't experienced this.)

Your a forestry tech. for sure if you take pride in how long it has been since you washed your yellows.

Nor-cal firegirl

Thanks. Ab.

3/20 Can anyone tell/guess how long this hiring freeze in
R5 is going to last. We're not getting much info out
our SO which isn't unusual. This just hits at a bad
time, right when we were going to start filling
Captain positions.


It's nationwide where the GS-8 Engine Captains Classification Audit applies. I think that happens April 4-8 in Portland. Like last year, it's one thing and another and the hiring process gets pushed back and back. Ab.

3/20 Re: The supposed "law of supply and demand"

I don't usually do this since I am only a student.

Most people who are students know it by the title of "the theory of supply and demand". In the educational world, it is most commonly referred to as a theory because of the many variables associated with supply and demand such as.... quality, durability, appropriateness, market, accessibility, usefulness, and cost. Each one of these variables has sub-variables that also need to be considered.

Most professors use the term theory because "supply and demand" has so many variables and as such, each variable can cause the "supposed law" to not be repeatable under study, experimentation, or analysis. If it is not repeatable, it is neither useful research, nor law.

In terms of recruitment and retention, one common aspect (theory) related to continually losing the "best of the best" is that the quality of the "supply" side is greatly reduced exponentially by each loss of a highly skilled firefighter/leader. Demand (expectations by the consumer... ie- management, the public, and congress) goes up..... Supply (quality) goes down..... End result, the product fails to meet "market" expectations.

I like the In-N-Out burger comparisons. In-N-Out is used as an education business model by many non-fire sources because of their ability to attract and keep highly skilled and motivated employees in their profession. In their market, they pay substantially more than their competitors (ie- MacDonalds) and offer better benefits and working conditions.

Think about it.... as my professors would say. If you "lose the best of the best" over and over again, and you cannot recruit the "best of the best" in the future.... what do you have left over? The teachings of Gordon Graham, J.D., are pretty relevant when it comes to future safety......

Student of Fire Science
3/20 hey aberdeen,

when i started, my shot supt was a gs-7 seasonal. how
many shot supts are 7 seasonals now? i'll give you a

3/20 To All:

Just for grins..... not that anyone really cares...... I
have been reading some posts here regarding wages, etc.
Like I said... just for grins..... to show how $$$$$$$ have
changed in the past 10 years or so........ get this.........
I retired as a BC with CDF 10 years ago with 33 years + of service.
Now a BC with CDF, retiring at age 51 with 31 years or so, receives
MORE THAN TWICE the amount I receive. Not complaining,
just throwing out some figures.

3/20 Re: People Slamming In-N-Out Burger


With all due respect, our Store Managers, on average, have been with the company for over 13 years and average in excess of $100,000 in total compensation per year. In addition to the Store Manager position, there are three additional levels of restaurant management positions: 2nd Manager, 3rd Manager, and 4th Manager. Average annual compensation for these levels of management are: 2nd Managers - $50,000/year, 3rd Managers - $41,000/year, and 4th Managers - $33,000/year. In addition to cash compensation, all managers enjoy a comprehensive benefits package including paid vacations, a 401k program, and medical, dental, vision, and life and travel insurance coverage.

We also hire our entry level employees at $9.00 per hour. After a short period, these employees can rapidly progress to $12.00 per hour. We offer full benefits to all of our full time associates.

We are actively recruiting current and retired federal employees who think like Aberdeen. We expect future expansion to Missoula, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Albuquerque. Come join the team!!!

All tongue in cheek....

In-N-Out Burger

3/20 Aberdeen,

Do you know of any place I can relocate to? Lets say I am a GS-7 Engine Foreman for the BLM. I have a WAE 3-6 month appointment and usually work 5 months per year. My next promotion would be to either a GS-8 or GS-9 6-9 month WAE position. I currently make around $27,000 per year.

3/20 The recent postings about income, where one works, the costs of raising a family, the "you made the career choice" posts illustrate the passion I've come to know working for our wildland firefighters. While we may disagree with each other, there is one common thread that keeps this family afloat... this site.

We are afforded the luxury of putting forth valuable information, one's thoughts on an issue and at what cost to us? Nothing but the sweat equity put into this by AB. So, while we posture and debate, let's not lose sight of why we have such an opportunity to do so in the first place.

OK, there was a caveat... my two cents.

Regardless of the reasons for becoming federal wildland firefighters, each one has as much capacity, capability & responsibility for watching out for themselves and their colleagues on the fire line as they do in changing the system, or the status quo.

Many of us have heard "hey, you get a paycheck don't ya" or "there's the gate if you don't like it" spewed usually by management. However, the dynamics in the federal wildland fire service are unique in that even management (supervisors, chief etc.) are continuing to be critical of current pay & personnel policies.

The real issues that have to be addressed in order to make changes have very little to do with where one lives, if they are married, how many kids they have etc. I concur that the Agency is not obligated to ensure you can raise your family and pay your bills. In dealing with Congress, there are far too many groups of people or organizations arguing the same thing and fighting for the same dollars.

That being said, very few would be facing such issues if the Agencies managed their money as we are expected to manage ours. It boils down more to addressing current policy, and the outright refusal of the agencies to change the status quo and risk their political behinds than any other factor.

While the federal government does not owe any of it's employees a "living" it does owe the American taxpayer the responsibility of utilizing appropriated dollars for what they were intended and to ensure the taxpayer is getting the biggest "bang for the buck."

Thus, the issue should not be whether In & Out Burger pays more but why current federal government land management agencies continue to waste tax dollars by paying more to others for doing the same job their own employees are doing on the same fire line.

The question is why the federal government takes its own employees off the clock while continuing to pay others for a full 24 hours at rates that are inherently higher than federal earnings even before paying for backfills, lodging, administrative costs etc.

Ask that question of your elected federal officials rather than "why doesn't the FS pay me enough to raise my family." Let's face it. There are many, many members of congress who have no national forests in their district, no federal wildland firefighters in their district, maybe even hardly a tree in their district. But every member of congress has taxpayers who can vote.

Each of you has the right to advocate a better system for yourselves. However realizing that for every wildland firefighter there are a dozen other people wanting the same thing ($$$) you've got to create a strategy that will make those members of congress remember you, the wildland firefighter at the end of the day rather than...with all due respect, any other group or person who they've also heard from.

Better pay & benefits do not have to cost additional appropriations. Such changes can be accomplished within the current budgets of the land management agencies. However they are not going to effect change on their own. It will take a mandate by Congress, the body that appropriates the dollars to the land management agencies, to send a clear message to the agencies that wasteful, inept financial management is a thing of the past.

Why am I so confident that this can be accomplished? Because we fought the same fight and prevailed against another government bureaucracy that didn't want to properly compensate their federal firefighters...The Department of Defense.

The debate on-going on They Said is healthy for all of us. At the same time, save some of the passion and adrenaline for making a positive change for a wildland firefighters.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/20 Just ignore the old retired guy. He got his. What does he care?
Lead, follow, or get out of the way... My 2 cents.


3/20 Aberdeen,

You seem to concentrate on only one thing. Try looking at the big (bigger) picture.

Thank you for your advice and your concerns. I will file it in the circular file under "not submitted with any facts".

By the way, look up the real estate prices in the areas you mentioned. After you do that, run the prices through a mortgage calculator.

Aberdeen, you said, "Please believe that I'm not insensitive to your economic concerns, but only trying to paint the picture as clearly as possible so that you don't spend your career frustrated and angry about issues will likely never see change at the National Level." Who, or what the hell made you an expert in economics, political action, and education? If you are going to try and educate someone, you better get your facts straight.

3/20 Feed Me, Black & Lobotomy -

Let me see if I've got this all correct: you make a career choice, with your eyes wide open about pay and benefits, to become a wildland firefighter on the Fed side of the road. You then start making some life-style choices: living in a high cost of living area, getting married, having babies, buying homes. These lifestyle choices exceed your earnings, and you're no different than a school teacher, wildlife biologist or nurse's aid in similar circumstances: you've made the choices, and they're tough ones, but the taxpayers have chosen not to give you greater rewards.

Remember that as a Fed, except for the locality pay, you're measured against the National Standard that applies in Adin CA, Baker City OR, Colville WA, and Rolling Fork, Mississippi. There are different levels of complexities in all these areas, but will probably never be recognized at the National Level, just like being paid as a GS-12 District Ranger in towns with 300 people and no resource conflicts versus being in Bend Oregon or Missoula Montana with non-stop conflicts on every resource management action.

People have to make choices, factoring in all their conflicting needs/wants/desires: early in my career, I decided that moving to Bend, Oregon was my career dream! By the time I became strongly competitive for jobs there, I knew that I and my family couldn't afford to live there, so we adjusted our goals and aimed for something different. Had I gone there, and let my lifestyle exceed my earning capacity, do you think the "Uncle Sugar" would bail me out?

The reason that "In & Out" or MacDonald's pays good money in your areas is only because they Cannot get anyone to work there for $5-6-7 per hour. It's called the "law of supply and demand" in the private sector. Right now, the USFS doesn't feel the shortage (nationally) by paying GS-7 or 8 wages for engine crew leaders, and so isn't motivated to find ways to pay more.

Please believe that I'm not insensitive to your economic concerns, but only trying to paint the picture as clearly as possible so that you don't spend your career frustrated and angry about issues will likely never see change at the National Level.
If the USFS cannot fill these jobs, and other agencies and/or contractors are not an acceptable alternative to fill them, maybe then there will be some movement forward on your concerns.

How long are you willing to wait?


3/20 Got this in a EMail from the USFS today.

Kathy Wiegard gave me an update on the injured Oklahoma rural fire fighter
who was involved in the truck entrapment a couple of weeks ago. He
apparently was not wearing nomex or protective clothing above the waist at
the time of entrapment and was severely burned on the upper body. He was
removed from life support some time ago, but is still alive. They amputated
both arms, both ears, and may have to amputate one foot. He also has
limited vision and burns to his face. He is not in a coma, and is
responsive to external stimuli. Kathy says that a team of doctors from
Minnesota will try to determine the best treatment.

National Interagency Coordination Center
Predictive Services & Intelligence

Be Safe out there!

Tender R6

We posted on this last week. No doubt he should have had his nomex on, but when a kid firefighter vollie fell off his truck as it was driving away, our now injured firefighter jumped out of the truck and wrapped the kid in something (blanket, turnouts, who knows what?) that protected the kid as the fire burned over. My prayers are for him and his family and friends. His action was selfless.

Tender R6, I echo your words to everyone here... "Be safe out there!" and add, Mitigate the pre-entrapment risks. Every time! Ab.

3/20 A few thoughts

If your boots cost more than your wife's wedding ring, you may be a
Forestry Technician

If your employer requires you to be Night Duty Officer and does not
compensate you for it, you may be a Forestry Technician.

If fires are burning and Life and Property are at risk and your crew can't
go because you have not had POSH training, you may be a Forestry

If you have ever cut a load of fire wood for the elderly couple that lives
down the road, you may be a Forestry Technician.

3/20 Anybody have any information on the MAFFS activation?
Seems odd given the time of year and preparedness level.

Still Out there as an AD
3/20 hey eric

lets all go to in and out soon.. love the food

steve aka ncbrush6
3/20 I am a private contractor in the state of Florida. I have landed a contract with the a state agency doing prescribed burning. They are requiring for me to obtain wildfire suppression insurance. I am having trouble finding a company that carries a policy for that. I was wondering if you had any information or leads on this. I would greatly appreciate any reponse. Thanks for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Donnie Johnson
North Florida Fire Services
3/20 With all due respect to some recent postings, I believe that it is important to recognize that John Maclean has made, and is continuing to make, a positive contribution to wildland firefighters and the wildland community. In my opinion, he has our best interests as firefighters at heart, and that he is motivated to make sure that when really bad things happen on the fireline, all levels of involvement are closely analyzed and dissected.

I too was at the Safety Summit in Missoula last April to hear John speak, and I did not interpret his talk as negatively as apparently some others have. And that’s fine. To each their own. At least he got people to think about and debate some of these pressing issues. My hope is that John never has to write another book about some tragedy fire, and my guess is that he would agree. Sure, people can disagree with him and his stance on these fires, but in my mind, he’s on our side.


3/20 Misery Whip,

Some of my employees attended IMT training last week and John Maclean was the keynote speaker. The feedback they provided about Mr. Maclean was not favorable to say the least. One of my people said it wasn't so much what he said but how he said it that bothered him. It seems that finding fault and pinning blame is all he is capable of doing.

3/20 There are so many things to respond too this morning, where do I start?

Think I will just focus on one area right now.

Type III IC and Burn Boss 1's need to have insurance in place. I personally know 3 people who have let their quals lapse because of the current head hunting regime we are in. I know another 5 who are capping themselves out at their current positions because they don't want to go to jail for others' mistakes. I only know 50 or so fire people well enough to talk at that level. How many others are there?

Every one of us who is looking at going up the ladder now has to weigh in whether the money and the responsibilities, the ability to maybe make a difference, is worth risking your freedom and livelihood for? I wanted to be an FMO someday. Now I want to be the number 2 fuels guy somewhere. Can't go to jail for IC IV or Burn Boss II.


3/20 From Firescribe:

Risk Communication:

3/20 Sounds like the 747 will be online this summer does anybody know where???
LAX, SAC, PHX, LOL I also have been told FS has acquired 3 P-3's does
anybody know if they're FS owned?

Signed prop wash
3/20 Black,

As a single 23-year-old who will be getting a BS in
Forestry this May, I can tell you that the money isn't
all that great when you look at what other young'uns
are getting with a four-year degree. I have friends
who got engineering degrees last year and now have
jobs that pay over $100,000 per year. The lowest paid
of my friends from that particular school gets $40,000
a year. I'll be lucky if I can get a GS-5 13/13 and
make $25,000 in a year; $30,000 if it's a busy season.

Kinda puts it in perspective doesn't it?

Young and Dumb in Region One
3/20 Black - Theres an In & Out on Overland in Boise just past the USDA
offices, and the overland theatre, unfortunately they arent hiring.

later - eric
3/30 Howdy, Ab,

A heads-up for interested folks: the group Women in the Fire Service is holding a
Leadership Seminar in Phoenix on April 7-9. Presentations cover topics in both
wildland and structural firefighting and many issues held in common. More info
at their website, www.wfsi.org.

Prineville IHC
3/19 Aberdeen,

I agree with Lobotomy and FEED ME. The agencies need to pay us enough to take care of our families. Yeah, the money is great if you are 22 years old and single, but it wont cut it to raise a family.

A year and a half ago, I moved from the Santa Barbara area to Boise because of cost living. If the agency wants to keep people around they need to ante up and pay us what we are worth. My salary doesnt pay our monthly bills and they lay me off in the winter!! Im fed up!!

To bad there isnt any IN & Out Burger in Idaho, they would probably pay better!!

3/19 Hi Mellie,

Where's my big bear hug? You've only ever chastised me here, and I'd like to know why. Do you know the intentions of the line officers I speak of? Do you know their names, their faces, their motivations?

I don't think you understood what I was trying to say. I'm not claiming to be a psychological expert, but I know what I have seen and heard. Without going into details, all I'm trying to get across is that there exist people who are trying to glamorize these tragic deaths or use them as an excuse for why they are (or are not) so successful in their careers the last couple of years (yes, I'm talking about people on and off this Forest).

Maybe your psychological research shows that this is normal. I'm not alone in the feeling that most of us who knew Jeff and Shane would like to move on. We'd like to also live with the happy memories those two gave us. And I, for one, would like it if the overhead I spoke of earlier would never again liken their "claim to fame" as having come to this Forest in the wake of Cramer.

3/19 Abs, All--

The discussion regarding the helitack foreman and oversight has raised a couple of salient points which require some thought.
  1. If the foreman is not directly responsible for his crewmembers, who is?
  2. If the foreman is not responsible for those individuals, why would someone several links higher in the chain of command be held accountable for them in a legal setting?

I am not saying that mistakes weren't made at all levels, but much like South Canyon, when the Prineville foreman turned around on the line because he was uncomfortable, something should have clicked and triggered a reaction before the situation spiraled out of control. AND IN BOTH CASES THE CHANCE DID PRESENT ITSELF.

Monday morning quarterbacking and hindsight is always 20/20, so we will never know for sure what went through the minds of both foremen in each situation as it unfolded. What I know as a squaddy on an IHC, though, is that I am responsible for my men and I am accountable to them. I have worked on a rappel ship also, and our sop was that for any mission, the helicopter was dedicated to support for the folks on the ground and unavailable for maintenance or other missions. Whoever the dedicated helicopter manager was for the day was in charge of general oversight of the operation.

I am not trying to bash or bag on anyone, because all of the holes in the swiss cheese just happened to line up perfectly. My biggest problem with the Cramer debacle is that now the decision makers several rungs up the ladder are being held legally accountable for errors made on the fireground.

To me, this just creates a cult of fear, not a cult of safety. The message this sends to me is that if I make a mistake, it is the IC's fault, and secondly, that if I am the IC I can't avoid micromanagement without the risk of being found criminally negligent if something goes horribly horribly wrong.

Any lessons learned from the Cramer Fire seem, to me, to be buried beneath bureaucratic red tape and the threat of legal recrimination.

The real lesson learned -- Don't be a type III IC. Sad but true.

Class C Sagebrush faller

ps--food for thought. Aren't fires and prescribed burns much larger with higher intensities, on the whole, now more than they were in the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's?

3/19 Geeknoid;

Hey, if they can help, more power to them... if you know these folks, I think a lot of us would be very interested if they'd be willing to put up a little 'micropresentation' on theysaid, with maybe some more info on who they are, and (with the understanding that they might not be interested in full disclosure for patent/intellectual property reasons) some technical detail. I couldn't get the pdf file to open, so maybe it's there and I didn't see it. You have to admit that the lack of technical detail on the site kind of cuts into their credibility, as does the lack of names and reciprocal exposure from the Caldon side. I don't recognize your handle, but if you've been lurking long, you should know that there's some pretty well connected, and very well informed, people who contribute to the site. Through what forums did the Pyrorazor folks solicit involvement from the wildland fire community? If it's just two guys thinking outside the box, great, everything has to start somewhere, but at the risk of sounding incredibly cynical (and potentially hostile, which is not my intention), I'd love to hear back from them when they've raised some capital. Two guys, one website, and some good intentions do not an innovation make.

Nerd on the Fireline

3/19 Greetings from Boise Air Terminal.

I had my first chance to visit the memorial at NIFC on Friday, time constraints didn't allow me to visit the foundation. It was a pretty neat site, nice and quiet. Peaceful. I wish the fountain had been turned on, but we all know you can't have it all.

As I wiped away some of the dust and a few dried leaves from around Jeff and Shane's stone, as well as a few others, I thought about the peaceful surroundings, and how nice it would be to remember them for purely for their sacrifice and the people they were, and not have to defend their honor them from someone who has never 'walked the walk'.

Take any opportunity to can to visit the memorial and the firefighter statue at the airport. A visit to the memorial, or just looking at some pictures, must might put your head in the right place as fire season spools up.

3/19 hey old sawyer,

my job description states that i am responsible for
the day to day safe operations of the crew. that is
saying to me that whether or not i'm on a fire or
project work, their safety is my responsibility. yeah
i've had people get hurt, i'm not perfect and i don't
micro manage.

what i was saying about supervision of a crew actively
engaged in suppression or cutting a helispot, is that
as things get more complex they require the level of
supervision to increase.

i do not leave it up to my crewmembers to provide
themselves with a lookout although we expect them to
learn, know, and ask when lookouts are needed. the
squad leaders, the assistant, or the supt will make
sure lookouts are covered when needed especially when
working on remote parts of a fire. those are our own
sop's but i'm sure there are many crews with similar

have we really gotten to the point where everything
needs to be spelled out in writing? maybe next week
we'll figure out the verbiage for swinging a tool
correctly, or how to tie our boots with gov't
efficiency. come on folks. those that need it
totally spelled out can't read anyway.

3/19 JD

Technically you are right because the FS Manual specifically says all supervisors are responsible for the safety of their subordinates, but there is nothing I could find in job descriptions, manual guidance, helibase operations or anything else in writing which defined who is responsible for safety of a helitack team clearing a helispot on a fire, large or small. Glad to hear you are among those who take the initiative to get it done safely, written down or not.

As we implement Doctrine it will take some serious work to boil down all the rules to those which are essential, clear, unambiguous and never to be violated, and then rely on well trained people who understand and practice safety, understand fire behavior and follow commander's intent, like you apparently do with those you lead and teach. My point to Class 3 Sagebrush Faller (great name - I am not good enough to claim Faller status) and Toolshed, who raised the question, was just to note that their question was a fair one, (thus the research) and the answer is not written down anywhere. Whether it should be written down somewhere or should be understood without it, is one of those issues the people implementing Doctrine will need to seriously consider.

Old Sawyer.

3/19 If anyone in a professional job series is looking for a way to get continuing forestry education (CFE) credits, you might be pleased to learn that the Society of American Foresters (SAF) has approved the April 25-28 Wildland Fire Safety Summit for CFE credits. The conference has been approved for:

7.0 CFE Contact Hours, Category 1
9.5 CFE Contact Hours, Category 2
Optional Staff Ride (Field Trip) 3.0 hours, Category 2.

The 9th Wildland Fire Safety Summit will be in Pasadena, CA. The staff ride will retrace the steps of the El Cariso Hot Shots on the 1966 Loop Fire. For more information, go to the conference web page at:

Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire
3/19 It just irritates the h*ll out of me that our fearless
leader would be looking at cutting the rates of our
engine captains and think that that will be a huge
savings in our budget. Why doesn't he look at cutting
the cost of our WO, RO, and the SO and let that money
go back to where it belongs the districts. I'm tired
of everytime the powers to be decide try to save money,
they go after the bottom level of our agency. How come
our district offices have shrunk down to nothing, but
the offices above them have stayed at the same levels?
Why doesn't this idiot look at some real areas to
save cost and stay away from the districts?

3/19 Aberdeen,

I have two questions for you.

1) When was the last time you looked at the housing costs in and around
Missoula, Boise, or Spokane for example? and

2) When was the last time, if ever, were you on a district trying to manage
a fire program that has recruitment and retention problems?


3/19 Nerd on the Fireline,

In regards to the PyroRazor company. They're concept caught my interest so I got to meet those folks involved. They're official job is with Caldon Biotech in an entirely different field (Read the PDf file on the Pyrorazor). However, because the devastation and fatalities they have read about on wildland fires, they wanted to create something that could help the community and firefighters. What you see in the web site is all CONCEPTIONAL (Just an idea). They are trying to research and work with whoever. They have asked anyone who likes to "Think outside the Box" in the wildland fire arena for advice and direction. When I spoke with them, they had this idea, but did not know where to go from there. I have referred them to San Dimas and Missoula Fire Lab. I know looking at this type of technology is a bit Sci Fi but so was the thought of ever having a 747 Airtanker or the pilots back 50 years ago who wanted to use crop dusters on wildfires. I believe it will take years of research before we ever see missiles or bombs being dropped on fires. However, I do see a large use with the UAV's on wildfire. Just think of an UAV that can stay up for 16 hours or more and provide real time information such as Recon, GIS Mapping, weather, fire behavior, heat signatures, etc.... So to put down the issue of this being a scam, it is not. It's just two guys thinking outside the box, and where would we be today if nobody did??


3/18 I know we are all interested in the future... ie this
summer as it relates to budget issues, but im sure
everyone noticed that Congress just passed a 92
billion dollar package for the military for our
involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and?... Iran soon?
Anyways, I think we as a concerned group need to
include this in our inquiries into where the money has
gone from our budgets. Just think if we were allocated
just 1 billion dollars... our problems, from a budget
standpoint would be solved.

Just a thought.
NZ Helitack

3/18 Hi everybody,

I have just been sitting here reading all the stuff on here, and wow.
I know there are several topics going on here all at once and sometimes they seem to run together. There is one particular topic on here that needs re-direction!

First off the talk of the rumors about the Cramer fire. I strongly feel that it is time to let the fallen firefighters rest!! I know we need to remember them and we will, as we do our own personal family. However, these firefighters lost their lives doing the same job as we all do. I have read some things on here that are kinda hard to swallow, cause it just makes me sick. So with that, sorry everybody, but I have to say this and say it loudly so maybe some of you can hear it "LET THEM REST IN PEACE, PLEASE", enough is enough. Now just to strengthening this a bit, imagine it was your child that died tragically. Then a few years later as you're starting to heal and move on, some uneducated rightfield self acclaimed factfinder says something about the possibility of drug use by your child caused their death? Talk about a knife in the back!! Then the good folks that work in the same profession as your child did, start the talk of it all over again. <snip> Makes no sense other than hurting the people who knew and loved your child!! So with that, all I want to say to everyone and anyone that might have the intentions of writing about this rumor and the disgracing of the fallen firefighters and there families. DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!! However, I am sure the family and friends as well as the conscious wildland firefighters would like to hear an apology!!!! One last jab here "what if a reporter said there were reports of illegal drug use by the firefighters of 9/11/01 which may have caused them to parish"? I don't know the answer but I can imagine, treat this the same cause it is!!!!!!!

Now the second part of this is easy. As we all know the Cramer fire had two fatalities, lesson's learned needs to be the topic not a re-investigation. Those of you who say that if ya continuously show the troops pictures and articles of what could happen to them if they are not watching their S.A. are only creating a mind set that we have alot of firefighters die all the time. Plus you might make a firefighter that was headed down the right path turn around and head back because it looked too smoky to fight fire. I am sure some agree and some don't, but to leave a picture out of puppies in fire gear vs your dead dog in the road makes alot more sense. What I am saying here is simple: if you teach and train your firefighters about tragedy and how to avoid it, give them all the proper PPE, show them how to use it, take them by the hand and lead them into a fire, give them support and answer questions, they will get it. Have them read about fatality fires and learn from the mistakes. I am sure we can all agree on one thing: our job is full of dangers? With that we all know that the chances of another firefighter fatality in likely to happen, or we would not be logical. I pray that it does not happen but ????

Now that I have said all this stuff I bet half agree and half don't but thats ok we live in a free country. The fact is a lesson is something to teach or pass on to a student. So lets all be students of fire and learn what the folks who have payed the ultimate price are teaching us. Lets not start another witch hunt it only hurts us all. With that everybody remember the past once in awhile even if it did not affect you because it did affect somebody; thats why there are memorials and training guides as to how not to become a statistic....

Be safe
3/18 Aberdeen,

Walking off the job was all tongue in cheek. By the way I signed on to be a GS-8, not a 7, 6, or 5. Fair pay is always worth fighting for. There is nothing wrong with trying to better your position in life. We all do this for our own reasons, but I doubt the cash is top priority on most peoples list. Just remember we all have to make at a minimum a living wage for where we live. If you think you can live much above the poverty line as a GS-8 in LA, SD, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Santa Cruz, San F, Denver, Flagstaff, Vegas, Bend, Boise, Aspen, Santa Fe, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Jackson, Driggs, Missoula, Spokane, Coeur d' Alene, Tahoe, Sacramento, San Louis Obispo, Swan Valley, Big Bear, Tucson, Eugene, Boulder, Portland, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympic, Wentachee, Lake Chelan, Summit County, Palm Springs, you would be mistaken.

I know there are plenty of affordable places, but anywhere in the Rocky Mountains or Cali is really out of touch if you want to own a home and raise a family. I also know that I signed on for the job... but that's no excuse for the WO to try and take what little we have achieved in Pay Standards and COLA compensation. I don't think many taxpayers would mind us getting paid at a level that reflects what we do. What they hate is when we spend their money on frivolous things like designer nomex, or paying FD's thousands more than us for less production.

Yes there are some who think $50-60 Grand is a lot of cashola. That's $35K takehome or just less than $3K a month. Put $1000-1500 in a mortgage for a POS house, and that leaves you $1500 a month to put towards bills, a car, groceries, kids, and GAS. According to my conservative budget I get about $150-200 mad money each month. Now I hope that puts it in perspective what most Captains in areas other than rural areas have to deal with.

I love my job, my crew, and my family. I takes alot of dedication and loyalty to our agencies to stay and make this work on the homefront. We're not asking for 6 figure salaries here, just a fair shake.

3/18 Hey Old Sawyer,

On most issues I agree with you, BUT I don't on this one. My guys are my and my supt's responsibility on a large fire incident, just like squads on a hotshot crew are the supt's responsibility even if they are working different sections of line.

Now with that said, Initial Attack may be different when you have to deploy multiple sets of rappellers on multiple fires. You still are responsible for properly sizing up that response and delivering your firefighters to a safe site. On a large fire -- as a helitack captain -- it is my and my supt's responsibility to make sure the areas that my firefighters are working  in is safe, no matter what their assignment, and that LCES is covered. We provide our own lookouts and rarely if ever rely on someone else. I would hope the experts you consulted would take another look at this. I would not want to work on a crew where the supt washes his/her hands of safe fire-ground operations as soon as they deploy their firefighters and return to helibase. Large incidents require additional levels of supervision than single tree lightening strikes just for the complexity of communication, size, and scale of operations.

Accountability goes a heck of a lot further than just taking the blame after things get scary, accountability is 3 dimensional. Accountability is your contract with your firefighters that you will seek out the safest course of action when deploying your crew, Accountability is to the agency that you will operate only to level in which you are trained and not purposely deviate from safe firefighting tactics. That you will provide for foreseeable contingencies and communicate them to your subordinates and supervisors. Lastly accountability is putting yourself on the mat if things do go wrong, take your lumps, and hopefully move on.

Maybe this is just my philosophy, but I would hope there are more helitack supts and capts that are looking out for their folks. As far as is this written down somewhere? I doubt it, but common sense overrides paperwork on the fire-ground.

I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I've been doing this awhile and had this philosophy well before Cramer.


3/18 Misery Whip,

Having been on 10 fatality fires throughout my career, this topic was near and dear to me. This post is not directed at anyone or at any policies. Just my thoughts.

I have to agree with you. I was at the Missoula presentation of Mr. Maclean also. For me, both his speech and his video showed disrespect for both the lives lost, and the survivors (families, friends, co-workers, students, etc....). It also showed a great misunderstanding of "human factors" and the study and prevention of the causes of fatality fires.

When I had heard that Region 5 had invited Mr. Maclean to be the keynote speaker at the Cal Yarborough awards, I was a little set back. I could only think to myself that "we" paid for this keynote speaker to sell and autograph his books...... I also wondered what Cal Yarborough would think even though I never met him. I also wondered what Paul Gleason would think.

After sitting back for a couple of weeks, I believe (and hope) that there must have been something more behind Mr. Macleans writings other than publicity and book selling. There is something, either from his dad's teachings and past in wildland fire, or something he has experienced in his career as a journalist that leads him to write about wildland firefighting in the style he does. None of us can understand his reasons unless he explains them to us.

Hopefully, when Mr. Maclean writes and speaks, he will consider that the subjects of his writings and speeches are people who are fallible. The people who buy his books are wildland firefighters, their families, and their friends. Wildland firefighters, families, and friends are deeply affected by everything that occurs in the "community".... be it said, done, heard, seen, or rumored. It affects us all in one way or the other.

When there is a fatality, escaped prescribed burn, near miss, or even a trivial review such as the GS-8 Engine Captains Classification Audit..... remember, the folks on the receiving end of "the stick" are people...... Treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.... then lessons will be learned. Assign blame or assign guilt as most of our "investigations" and "reviews" do, then you lose the lessons learned again.

Just some gut feelings.


P.S..... GS-8 Engine Captains (Regions 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9) need to get on the ball if they hope to maintain their GS ratings in the current "review". Ask the GS-8 Captains from Region 5 how they gained "lessons learned" in the last position classification audit. It's not a California thing.

3/18 Feed Me - just a few comments regarding your idea for Engine folks to walk off the job in mid-August:

First, when you signed on as a Fed, you agreed not to strike. If you didn't like the rules, you shouldn't have agreed to play on that team. You hold your employer to their side of the agreement (pay days, leave packages, health insurance, retirement), so you to have an obligation (in my opinion) to fulfill your side of the deal by not breaking the law and striking.

Second, look back in history at the story of the Air Traffic controllers under Ronald Reagan, and glean out the lessons they learned;

Next, such an action may be just the "window of opportunity" that management and the Administration is looking for to get CDF/LA County/Orange County/Ventura County/etc to take over fire responsibilities on the Federal lands close to them. As a minimum, the Feds would likely pay those Agencies any price to have their qualified folks work all the OT they wanted in order to cover your absence. It might also open the door for "contract engines" from R-6 and R-1 to make the trek southward to do the job: they're being bid on a "best-value" basis this year, and there are some really sharp pencils out there calculating costs and profit margins for running a fire operation. Maybe the Feds would even give them your unused, idle engines and all they'd have to do is provide staffing?

While your yearly salary (base pay, OT and HP) may seem low to the folks living in the high-cost areas you mention, it will look pretty good to folks in much of the rest of the US, and you'll never get much sympathy from them, or their Congressmen. You may tilt the scales away from helping Fed firefighters everywhere.

I'm not intending to downplay your economic concerns, just bring up a few thoughts to consider before you head down a path that may not take you where you want to be.

3/18 What happened to the Hot list? I don't think I will be able to live without it.


We're working with the isp to get it back up. As some of you are pointing out, chat is out too. Ab.

3/18 Misery Whip

I totally agree with you when you say let Shane and Jeff rest in peace... God bless them and their families.

However, I cannot agree with letting all go when you say the investigation was badly flawed from the beginning. I have no personal knowledge of what took place, other than what I can find to read.... if one believes all he reads, then there is definitely "fault" here. I have found in my 35 years of wildland firefighting (retired) that several burn overs and/or fire fatality investigations have been, as you say, "badly flawed".... to say the least. Finding and bringing out fault seems to never really come out.... the reason is obvious, as then that nasty word "accountability" surfaces... heaven forbid anyone should ever be held accountable for these tragedies. It is difficult for one to learn from investigations that circle the bulls-eye and never really line up the crosshairs up on reality. Anyone who has spent any time wildland firefighting knows that it is a very, very ,rare occasion when a sudden wind change or other act of nature is the culprit.... very rare indeed.

Again, my heart felt feelings go out to the families.

3/17 Ab & all,

There are probably not any regular posters on this site who have jabbered more in the past couple of years about lessons learned than myself. I feel that it is vitally important to the safety of future firefighters to capture and share lessons gained from studying our past failures.

Having said that, I’m siding with the Heaths, JD, and Yellowjacket on this round. Enough is enough. It is time to quit muckraking and let Shane and Jeff rest in peace.

We will never be able to discover all of the lessons learned from Cramer because the process and investigation was badly flawed from the beginning. Instead of looking at the organizational failures that spawned this accident, the Cramer investigation was narrowly focused on the actions of a few individuals. It is too late to turn back the clock and do it over. Hurtful rumors and unverifiable innuendos don’t add anything to the few lessons we did learn from Cramer.

As for John Maclean, he seems to be turning into the reigning tabloid journalist of wildland fire. At the dinner in Missoula last year where Ted Putnam received the IAWF lifetime achievement award, Maclean read an excerpt from his draft Thirtymile manuscript. It was one of the most tasteless and disgusting public displays I’ve ever witnessed, especially considering that several people in the room were entrapment survivors from fatality incidents. He seemed to relish describing the death throes of our comrades who died on the Thirtymile Fire. I decided right then and there that I would never purchase or read anything he writes ever again. Sensational tabloid journalism may sell more books for Maclean, but I lost any respect I ever had for the man.

vfd cap’n, if you are serious about learning real lessons (and I believe you are), give up the FOIA quest and let these people get on with their lives. Some things are not worth pursuing at any cost. Real lessons learned don’t gain anything from shocking tidbits that don’t really matter.

Misery Whip
3/17 ROSS

Lately there have been some comments on this board about not getting called for positions that were listed "UTF" at the GACCs. There are a couple of glitches in ROSS that could make you unavailable. When you use the self status program, be sure you click somewhere else on the form after changing your status and then be sure to hit the "SAVE" button. If the change is still highlighted when you hit "SAVE", it reverts to the original setting.

If you have an "Unavailability Period" showing, make sure you remove it even if it has expired. If it is showing, you are not statused available even if the availability box is checked. Hopefully the folks at ROSS will fix these problems.

A special thanks to the folks at Central Nevada Interagency Dispatch Center for finding these problems and reporting them!!!

Please spread this information to all who use the ROSS self status system.

Radio Guy

3/17 AB's

Watching the discussions on the Cramer the last week or so, sounds like
it is getting too personal and not leading to your purposes of sharing and
educating. It has degenerated into what I would call a "goat rope".

Those men were obviously not "toking"; the production they did was great,
from all I have read. Sounds like it was one of those "fog of war" things
and the people involved know where they were deficient and they carry
that to their own graves.

I can only offer my condolences to the parents, who were brave enough
to speak up on the site.

Really wanted to wish all a happy St. Patty's day and rain to the plains.

A simple question, why cannot CDF share some of the S2T's with Texas?
Sure not needed here now.

And my condolences to the Fire Community and his family, on the loss of
Captain Patrick Henry.


3/17 gone that route ab, that's how i found out what his
intentions were.

3/17 ClassC and Toolshed:

After inquiring of experts and a lot of research, I never could find anything
in writing which places safety responsibility on a helibase manager or helitack
team supervisor, for on scene safety of Helitackers constructing a Helispot
n a remote part of a fire. Likely they may lack the factual knowledge to even
do so effectively from a distance. Nor is it in writing designating anyone else
in particular for this supervisory task. Seems to be a hole in our supervisory
structure unless someone takes the initiative to get such a crew truly integrated
into the operation with an assigned supervisor who can confirm LCES is in
place and keep it in place in a dynamic manner.

Old Sawyer

3/17 Please post on the they said forum.

Why don't USFS Engine Captains and Fire Engine Operators walk off the job in the middle of August and see how the Agency runs with GS-4 Engine Captains? Yes I know that will never happen. I am for giving GS-8s at a minimum to all supervisors who accept liability for their crews on the fireline no matter what Region. In most place a GS-8 might get you into a nice below average house in a below average neighborhood.

Come on WO, do you think we all live in crew housing? My kids eat from your allocated dollars!!

Look at Flagstaff, Denver, Santa Barbara, Vegas, Tahoe, and many more. I know Cali has different fire responsibilities in certain areas because I work here, but It's not just a Cali thing when it comes to cost of living. Retention doesn't matter to the WO because we just leave positions vacant or fill them with any warm body who fits the minimum quals. Retention will never be an argument the WO will look at. BOTTOM LINE is all they understand.

Feed Me!

3/17 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated.


3/17 yellowjacket,

it's no use with vfd, he has an agenda that he will
see through till the end no matter who he hurts. some
people just don't get it and some people just refuse
to get it. i don't know which one he is but it
doesn't much matter. what matters is that jeff and
shane's memory and dignity are defended from people
who are out to exploit them. all we can do is bring to
light those that are self serving and make them known
to others. thanks for weighing in, i thought i was
alone in thinking this obsession is disgusting.


jd, I think it's hard to know another person's true intention. Our experience with vfd capt is that he has integrity. Maybe he just needs to hear more of your perspective behind the scenes. These deaths have not been easy for any of us. Ab.

3/17 Bluesman:

"We" in this particular situation is spelled WO

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/17 Class C,

"Where is the helicopter manager in all of this?" One of the best questions
ever asked about Cramer. Actually the manager was on an ASGS assignment
off unit, the question should read "Where was the Asst Helitack Foreman in
all of this?"

Your fellow incompetent,

3/17 Yellowjacket,

Psychological research shows that in the face of a death, people want to be helpful to those who survive, friends and family. Research also shows that most people don't know exactly what to do or how to act to be helpful. What's helpful for one will not be helpful for another. It's easy to misinterpret the intent of what is being said or done.

Please don't fault the line officers for not knowing, if it appears to you that they don't. It's a very hard thing to get it right 100% for every person. My guess is that they're trying to be sensitive and aware and helpful. Often in that position, whatever they say or do will meet with someone's disapproval.


3/17 Re: Pyrorazor

I know I haven't been doing much besides lurking
lately, but I poked into the pyrorazor thing a bit.
For one thing, the website kind of reminds me a scam
that was running in central California for a
while...the company marketed 'the ultimate hanger'
which would hang anything anywhere, only $19.99, and
anybody who ordered it got a nail. Anyhow, did anybody
but me notice that there's nothing they claim to do
that you couldn't do with a waterballoon slingshot?

Also, they reference Caldon Biotech a lot, but the
Caldon biotech site never mentions them. I tried
calling the contact number, and it's Caldon Biotech as
well, but it's just a message, with no mechanism for
getting ahold of a real person, and no mention of
Pyrorazor on the message. If you do a websearch on
pyrorazor, you get nothing. The technical information
on the site is nonexistent, many of the links and
documents don't open, and the 'schematic diagrams'
look to be done in Microsoft Paint, and they don't
enlarge. Unless and until more substantial
confirmation (such as a Pyrorazor rep showing up on
the site, or at a wildlandfire conference), I'd just
class this as a very slick website construction
project done by a high school or college student.

Nerd on the Fireline

3/17 Ab et. al,

I had made a pact with myself to stay away from this site; as I felt it had become an unhealthy addiction that caused frequent, unnecessary spikes in my blood pressure. Today I fell of the wagon. I came here to look at your jobs section. Instead, I felt myself resisting the urge to vomit. I didn't realize the Cramer issues are still alive and well here; and I certainly didn't realize the direction they are headed.

First, "the rumor:" I heard that rumor the day after they died. I have no proof, but from the nature of when, where, and how I heard it, I believe the rumor was invented to try and save someone's ass(es). I wish I knew exactly what was said about the rumor at the chief officers' meeting, because I hate to take something out of context. But if it is true that the rumor was brought up there and not refuted as being "only a rumor," that adds weight to my theory.

Jodi and Steve are two of the nicest people I have ever met, and I feel horrible that they had to defend Shane and Jeff from people that didn't even know them. What's worse is that they had to defend them from people that are supposed to be professionals (and in this case a person with a famous last name that had a father who was a good writer.) At any rate, it is sickening.

Second, with regards to vfd's FOIA: enough is enough! I used to think that your agenda was to help tell the story so other firefighters might learn something. You're going too far. I'm with JD, I now think its a sick obsession. Enough people have been hurt and you are just tearing off scabs!

That brings me to the last thing I wanted to say. Cramer is being used a crutch on this Forest, and it's wrong! People that were here before and people that knew Jeff and Shane are ready to move on. Not to say we will ever forget, but we are coping with our loss and are moving on.

People that didn't even know Jeff and Shane (new Forest Supervisor, new District Ranger, new Zone FMO) keep picking at the scabs and using Cramer as an excuse for their own shortcomings. Mid-sentence, their tone of voice will fall and their faces get somber as they say something like, "since the Cramer accident" or "in the wake of the Cramer tragedy" or "the aftermath, the fallout." They talk about Jeff and Shane like they knew them, yet I have never heard of any of them ask anyone who those two really were. Yeah, they were real people with real personalities . . . pretty neat guys in my opinion!

Enough of my rant. I am truly sorry that I am caught in this trap again.

"Rumors" were solicited by the lawyer as I understand it. When you engage an audience with a question, it gives you deniability of a certain kind. Lawyers must know this? or am I too cynical?

We Abs hear all kinds of rumors here; we try to confirm/disconfirm them, or they don't make it to theysaid. We never heard that one, not even a whisper. You're the first person I know who mentions having heard it, besides the lawyer and the person who named the rumor. Ab.

3/17 It may well be that the lessons learned from the Cramer Fire saved the lives of those
who deployed at H-4 during the Nuttall Complex blowup in 2004, in which
participants in the After Action Review noted that "LCES Worked".

Old Sawyer

I agree. Ab.

3/17 Name Request

I’ve had enough experience with mobilization to know that Name Request/Suggests can
be a royal pain. At the same time, it can be extremely frustrating to wait for a resource
on an incident knowing that a qualified person is available, only to have the order come
back “UTF.” Seems like there should be some flexibility all the way around to make sure
needs are met with a system that doesn’t always work perfectly.

Still Out There as an AD

3/17 Class C...building on the "you might be a redneck" theme and your last post.

You might be a competent fire fighter if: you have ever had to wait for the vacuum tubes in your engines radio to warm up before being able to informing dispatch you were responding to a fire.

You might be a competent fire fighter if: Instead of MRE"S you ate C-Rats.

You might be a competent fire fighter if: Assigned to a large fire in the 60's and Copenhagen was handed out free of charge.

You might be a competent fire fighter if: The only protection worn on your hands in the 70's were calluses.

You might be a competent fire fighter if: You ordered canned peaches for fire camp and Blitz beer was automatically delivered.

You might be a competent fire fighter if: The uniform you wore in the early 70's was more flammable than the fuel type on your District.

You might be a competent fire fighter if: one of your slash burns accounted for 80%of the District's accomplishments and only 10% of the planned acres.

Offered as humor ...not as an editorial comment...I think

3/17 The WLF2 website which hosts the Chat and News Page is once again available. OA.

Mendocino Unit Chief Loyde Johnson, regretfully announces the death of Fire Captain Patrick Henry.

On Monday, March 13, 2006, 54 year old Fire Captain Patrick Henry suffered a heart attack while on duty at Parlin Fork Conservation Camp. Captain Henry was transported to Mendocino Coast District Hospital in Fort Bragg by CALSTAR 4, where his death was pronounced.

A memorial service will be held for Captain Henry on Thursday, March 23, 2006, at 4:00 p.m. in Fort Bragg, at the Cotton Auditorium. Personnel are requested to wear the Dress Uniform. The service will be preceded by a procession of fire apparatus from the CDF Mendocino Unit, Mendocino County Fire Services, and other CDF Units and local government fire departments from throughout California. The procession will begin at the old Georgia Pacific Mill site, just north of the Noyo Bridge on Main St., proceed north to Fir St., and terminate at the Cotton Auditorium. All CDF Units or Local Government Fire Departments that would like to participate with apparatus in the procession need to contact HFEO Rich Noonan at 707-391-6742 for staging area information, times, etc. Apparatus will be limited to one vehicle per Department/Unit due to logistics of the location.

In an effort to provide adequate logistical support for both the Service and reception following, any individuals and/or groups that wish to attend are being asked to RSVP Howard Forest HQ, by telephone at 707-459-7414.

Captain Henry began his CDF career in 1975 as a Fire Fighter I in the Sonoma Unit where he worked for several seasons. In 1986 he began work as an artisan at North Coast Region Headquarters in Santa Rosa. In 1992 he promoted to Fire Apparatus Engineer in the Mendocino Unit at Boonville Station. He promoted to Captain at Pt. Arena Station and transferred to Parlin Fork Conservation Camp in 1998.

While at Parlin Fork, Captain Henry was particularly proud of the project work his crews did in the coastal communities of Mendocino County. Some of these include the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse restoration, the Sea Ranch Viewshed, and construction of the Westport Fire Station.

On April 20, 1999, Captain Henry supervised a dramatic rescue by Parlin Fork Crew 3 when they came upon a victim trapped under an overturned vehicle down the embankment of Highway 1 near Fort Bragg. After determining that she could not survive much longer under the weight of the vehicle, Captain Henry directed the crew to physically lift the vehicle off the victim to extricate her. The crew held the vehicle suspended while the victim was removed. Hospital sources indicated that if were not for the actions taken by Captain Henry and his crew, the victim would not have survived.

Captain Henry leaves behind his loving wife Michelle, and four children, Tom and Joe Henry and Jehremy and Ariel Hagardorn.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Make A Wish Foundation 235 Pine Street, 6th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104-2745 (415) 402-2764.

Cards may be sent to:
Mrs. Michelle Henry and Family
32875 Mill Creek Dr.
Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Photos and more information can be found at the below link.

Matt Streck

Our best to Patrick Henry's family and friends. May he rest in peace. Ab.

3/17 Regarding "name requests" -

The quote from the Mob Guide is correct and has been adhered to by NICC with very few exceptions this year so far, with the exception of some 'very special' requests. Ditto "name suggests", although they are filled more readily. Interestingly, when we get rockin' and rollin' at PL4+ if your grandmother's name is in ROSS and you name suggest/request her, the chances of her showing up are very good.


3/17 Shep,

On the Mist blowers, yeah, we use them all the time in SHORT grass. They
are pretty much ineffective at over a foot flame length, anything less than
1' & you can really make some progress. Just another tool to have in the
tool box, not effective on everything, but highly effective in very short

"Burnt" < got tagged with that one years ago & kinda like it.....

3/17 R3 issuing red cards

In response to the question about how R3 is doing red card issues so early in the season, by the way we have been fighting U/I fires here in New Mexico since November on at least a weekly basis. The powers that be in 2004 issued a memo, www.nwcg.gov/pms/docs/clarification.pdf, that the locals are in charge if it is within there response areas. I know there is a large federal operation going on in West Texas and they have been called in to assist. But here in New Mexico we did our standards class and pack test the first week of the new year, how fun that was getting the holiday food off so fast. So if that helps there you go, if not come on down we will get you pack tested on almost any day of the week somewhere in the state. Severity patrols are on going, the shot crews are coming on line in the next 2 weeks and the helitack is up and running already.

Welcome to the 2005 fire season that never stopped here.

Jeff C.

3/17 Some pretty interesting internal e-mail discussions going on regarding the GS-8
Captains Classification Audit. Those discussions should be heard "on the record"
and from the LEADERS who are forwarding and responding to the e-mails.

If it's not on the record, it's just a bunch of rumors.

3/17 About the name requests: "Name request for suppression or all-hazard
incidents should be rare and will only be accepted for highly-specialized
positions or meet specific agency objectives." This is the wording in the
2006 National Mob Guide.

3/17 Abs, All--

I would like to tender my deepest sympathies and vent my outrage about the rumor voiced regarding the "cramer boys." Though I have argued in the past about personal accountability and right versus wrong with this scenario, I find it a great injustice to claim that they were chemically impaired while on the helispot.

I tend to agree with the sentiment that it was a total cluster without one singular cause, and if the IC was responsible, then to some degree so were Jeff and Shane. I still ask this question: Where was the Helicopter manager in all this? I could go on, but now doesn't seem to be the correct time.

Regardless, I am so sorry that such evil and unfounded rumors could be placed as a contributing factor when there are ample ones on the fireground to explore and learn from.

Regarding crew hauls--
Sawtooth has the "short bus" ford chassis configuration, along with Ruby Mountain, Silver State and Snake River. They are a nifty compromise--they drive like a truck, don't require a CDL, and haul a 6 person squad perfectly, making for pre-set IA modules and greater flexibility. I like them. The drawback is that they require a larger fleet. More vehicles=more moving parts=more breakdowns, especially if you drive off road. They have even more breakdowns if you drive off road badly, like I do.

Copter 100, misery whip, and viejo--im not touching this discussion with a ten foot pole. After reading your posts, I never want to get my RX quals because apparently I should be legally accountable for every unforeseen weather change, and also because I will never measure up to the firefighters of the good old days. Why try? I don't even want to hit the line this year, as I will only be cowering in the shadow of greatness past. I suck, and any experience I have is worthless because it didn't come in the 60's, 70's, 80's, or early 90's. Maybe the reason you were able to catch all those fires was because of the waist deep snow you had to hike through ten miles uphill both ways to spike camp.

I am now absolutely mortified that I may be completely incompetent as well.

I think that we can all agree, though:


Class C Sagebrush Faller, back from vacation and slightly tipsy.

ps--my comments regarding Jeff and Shane are completely serious, and should not be thought of as any sort of jest. Slander is no laughing matter. Regardless of the true causes of the accident these men above all else have proved their honor and deserve to be buried with it intact.

pps--I cringe in anticipation for any recriminations from the old timers. Let me just reply in advance "You are right," to whatever their argument or comment is. It always seems to work with my wife.

Can I have some of what's made you tipsy? Maybe I need a vacation...? Ab.

3/17 Greetings,

Midwest Wildfire Academy schedule and registration is now up at

The Weather Channel has been running teasers this week that their
show "It Could Happen Tomorrow" this Sunday night will be about
wildfire and San Diego.

Has anybody tried the Stihl leaf blowers with the water tank sprayer
on it such as the SR420 model on grass fires?

3/17 JD,

You are welcome to question my motives all you want. Cramer is important to us, but no more than Point or Island Fork or Tuolumne or Inaja or Battlement Creek or the handful of other fatality entrapment reports we've made available on our website.

If you really think I have a profit motive in this, then you apparently don't understand what the 'v' in 'vfd' stands for. Or maybe the 'non' in 'non-profit' is somehow confusing.

Chief Billy Goldfeder posted an article to Firehouse.com a couple days ago that focused on some structural firefighter fatalities. He talked about the 2 ways of remembering the incidents. The first is to remember the loss and suffering of the family members, friends and other members of the department. He added:

"The second 'remember' is that when firefighters are killed, every one of us has a high priority responsibility to study the event, learn from it and do whatever it takes to make sure it is never repeated. That has to occur at the smallest rural firehouse to the biggest city firehouse, and it must affect every firefighter-no matter what.

"And when we are done learning, we have to make sure everyone you run calls with learns too. Who gets that done? You. By spreading the facts. Not some of the BS that goes on in some chat rooms, bulletin boards and forums, but by all of us getting the facts from the reports and from the affected FD's, and putting it in the faces of those who go with us to fires. Include it in drills, trainings, e-mails, whatever it takes to keep this stuff in their faces so they-we-us cannot forget and will not repeat history. Keeping it in their faces works. We just have to want to do it."

Maybe I'm foolish enough to think that's a good plan. There is nothing false in our claims of improving firefighter safety.

vfd cap'n

3/17 We are aware the WLF2 website which hosts the Chat and News Page is unavailable. We've requested our website be transferred to a higher quality server and are working on the move. We'll announce it here when it's back up. Sorry for the inconvenience. OA.
3/16 vfd and any others

I never said you were out to slander Jeff and Shane.
But you are after voice recordings of the boys begging
for their lives and you intend to play them to
audiences for your own personal profit. This in mine
and several other's opinions are exploitive,
especially to those who were close to the boys and
their families. I think that if you were completely
honest with folks here and the families about your
intended purposes, like trying to somehow connect
yourself to this incident, or trying to be THE ONE who
discovers the so called truth, or trying to build your
name in the fire community, most would feel the same
as I. I know personally the destruction you are
causing and the lack of empathy you are showing all
those involved while falsely claiming that this is
about training opportunities for the next generation
of firefighters. What is this obsession really about?

3/16 Hey, I've got an idea. Let's cut our engine captains back to GS-7s. That
will surely help with our retention problems. I am forever amazed at how
dumb we can be.

3/16 Just to clarify Peregrine's bird flu TSP post,

The S Fund offers the opportunity to earn a potentially high investment
return over the long term by investing in the stocks of small and
medium-size U.S. companies. www.tsp.gov/rates/fundsheet-sfund.pdf


3/16 Howdy,

Does anyone know where the State of New Mexico EMNR got their new Type 6s from? For once the Governor signed the capital outlay and did not live veto us getting a new truck. I am looking for all the info I can on local, rapid builders. Please email me if you have any info at westernfireprotection@yahoo.com.

Jeff C.
3/15 Re: GS-8 Engine Captains Position Classification Audit

Six years ago, Region 5 had their GS-8 Engine Captains position classification challenged. The challenge was a result of a classification appeal in Region 3 that was incorrectly supported by the Washington Office.

As a result, the initially classified GS-8 Engine Captain position (National PD #N8017) was approved by a Washington Office classifier. A subsequent desk audit was performed on ALL engine captains positions in Region 5 in 2000. PD #N8017 has been classified and audited for its appropriateness in Region 5. There has been no reduction in duties for these engine captains, if anything, their duties have increased.

As for the other regions, I fully support engine captains who have similar responsibilities. It is only fair. PD #N8017 should be used in areas where it is appropriate and not be just a "California Thing".

It is sad that the Chief has once again let us down by not supporting the field. Even the Region 4 Regional Forester is supporting his GS-8 Engine Captains and he wrote a letter of opposition to the Chief's decision.

I guess we should have expected it. That is what happens when you try to classify an Engine Captain under the Forestry Technician series.

3/15 Repeating History..

At yesterdays (3/14/2006) H.R. Directors Conference Call (W.O. to R.O. HR Directors), it was stated Chief Bosworth has requested the HR group perform a position classification audit/review on the GS-8 Engine Captains positions AGAIN. This audit/review will be held April 4-6 in Portland, Oregon and only one Captain from Region 5 will be asked to attend.

Just like before, the reason is a complaint from Region 3.

As you will recall, in 2000, the Washington Office did this same exact thing with the intent of reducing the GS-8 Engine Captains to GS-7s, and subsequently with trickle down effects of Engineers to GS-6 and AFEOs to GS-5s. The Washington Office's attempt to downgrade these positions was not upheld by the position classification audit that was performed by classification specialists from both the Forest Service and BLM.

With no reduction in duties or responsibilities, why would the W.O. attempt to downgrade the workforce again? If this happens, what do you think the effects will be on recruitment and retention at the new GS-5 through GS-7 (formerly GS-6 through GS-8) ranks?

NorCal Tom
3/15 Hello AB

Does anyone know of a site that has posting of the various
kinds of hose packs past and present? I am helping a relatively new
fire fighter with setting up these packs.... and it's been a lonnnnng time
since I hoisted a hose pack!

well worn one

3/15 OK I Heard a rumor about a NIFC dispatcher not wanting to fill name
request? is this now policy or what is the policy?

Signed: wanting to know more

3/15 Ab, people should think about where their retirement money is invested and
have a financial plan for avian flu pandemic.

I have rearranged my money in my Thrift Savings Plan to the G fund until
the avian flu problem either passes or happens. I had the bulk of my money
in the I and S funds (both overseas, high growth-high risk funds).


3/15 Ab:

The draft of the USFS 2006 AD Directive has been posted on the
AD Firefighters Association page:


This document, or something very close to it, will likely very soon be
signed into execution by the NWCG.

3/15 Firestormers Wildfire Suppression has an open engine boss position.  See the details on the Jobs Page.  OA
3/15 Hello Undecided,

I am approaching my sixth season in firefighting this year and have worked
for both federal and state agencies (hotshots with the feds; state and forest
service handcrews). I would be happy to share any information or work
experiences from both sectors with you if you like...

E-mail Ab if you would like my contact info.


3/15 FireBill,

If you get through the security checkpoint at the NIFC Main Gate, go to the
Jack Wilson Building, main offices, northeast corner of the NIFC compound.
This is also the large building adjacent to the Firefighter Memorial. At
the first floor main entrance there is a limited gift shop, which sells
caps, shirts, mugs, pins, and emblems depicting the NIFC fire logo. Prices
are reasonable. The jump shack is nearby.

Sky Snake
3/15 Hey folks,

I'll be in Boise on Friday for a non-fire related conference, and I've got a
couple of hours between the time I land and the time the meetings start.

Who do I call to find out where to go at the NIFC to buy some gift shop
swag for the folks at home, and maybe visit the jump shack?



NIFC is adjacent to the airport, as is the jump shack. Does NIFC have a gift shop? The Monument and Wildland Firefighter Foundation are very close by too. Have fun. Ab.

3/14 Hi Ab,

Just A short note to say that down-under we are thinking of the
firefighters in Texas and our thoughts go to the families that have lost
loved ones, we can only hope the weather give them a break which they
desperately need.

Take care and look up out there,
Tathra rural fire brigade.

3/14 I am curious as to how R3 and others are getting around the Red Card
debacle of refresher, Is there an exemption being in place for certain
GACCs or is everybody fighting fire currently Red Carded? Will there be an
exemption? Is BLM held to the special video/refresher class being put on
by NIFC. Please any info on this would be greatly appreciated.


3/14 jd,

I don't see an inconsistency between being respectful to the parents while seeking
a more complete disclosure of the circumstances that led to their sons' deaths.

There is nothing in our Cramer FOIA request or appeal pending at the WO that
perpetuates rumor or slanders the memory of the deceased.

vfd cap'n
3/14 The Alaska Fire Service has a couple of GS 7/8 Fire Specialists career/seasonal openings being advertised on the Jobs Page.  OA
3/14 It sometimes seems folks only write in here to share info or links to disasters, make complaints, or with other negative issues.  I guess I understand that anger or frustration is more likely to prompt an inquiry or response since  I am aware of the  behavior in myself.

With an eye towards correcting that, I saw the following article in this morning's local paper and thought I'd share some positive news for a change.  Even though its a little late,  my congratulations to Robert Daniels and the Feather River Hotshots for their difficult accomplishment in attaining their Type 1 crew status.  Also congrats to the Oroville and Plumas fire management for supporting the crew during their transition.  Not sure how long it will last, but here's the link:  www.orovillemr.com/news/ci_3601146#

3/14 I hear that some of the forests in Region 5 are not hiring any seasonals.
With seasonals not being hired and permanent fire people trying to plan for
some P-code savings, some forests are still in deficit. Something doesn't
make sense with this picture.

3/14 For those interested in hydration issues, check www.firefighterbrand.com and research their products. (I see they're linked on the Classifieds page and are sponsoring the wlf.com News page.)
We were fortunate to have a great volume of their products (hydration drinks, energy drinks, trail mix, chili, beef jerky) nated to us for our members to try at our membership conference in Reno this past December.

The feedback we have received from our members is that not only are the products tastier, the science behind them is far superior to Gatorade, Powerade etc. As a result of that feedback, the FWFSA has endorsed the use of Firefighter Brand products and hope to assist the company in introducing the product to more wildland firefighters this upcoming season.

Just as important as the science and taste is that a portion of gross profit from the sales of Firefighter Brand are donated to local and national fire organizations. In the case of products ordered by the land-management agencies, or any wildland firefighting group for that matter, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation will benefit from donations.

If you'd like further information on these products, please feel free to visit their web site or contact Bruce Burke, President at 203-847-9125 (tell him the FWFSA sent you) or 488 Main Ave. 2nd Floor, Norwalk, CT 06851.

We truly believe these are superior products. They benefit the firefighting community and we should encourage our wildland firefighters to seek out these products as often as possible.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

3/14 Winds are died down this morning in the TX panhandle and OK. We need the break. I heard from a friend that the lower part of TX about the level of Houston across to San Antonio and south will be having red flags with hot dry air coming in from Mexico. We get more winds up north tomorrow.

The fire rips when the winds are up. Be safe.

3/14 Sad week for Texas - it is becoming more obvious that the south west / texas
are in for an early and hot fire season. Keep your head up, and be safe all.

Heres a great link listing TICC's response as of this morning to the texas fires.
lots of resources moving around.
http://tfsfrp.tamu.edu/wildfires/Branch.jpg (map)


Does anyone know where the "official" ok for using la sportiva's is located?
Also if there is a first hand account from anyone talking about their pro's and
con's I would also appreciate that.

Do a search on sportiva. At the top of the archived pages that come up as a result of the search, hit control and F simultaneously and skip down through the page of the archive looking for the term. This has been discussed off-and-on for a while. Ab.

3/14 I have a question about different agencies, and budgets affecting crews, etc.

I have been in fire for only four years, all of which on seasonal handcrews. I have done some research on budgets, the way they affect agencies, etc. But a lot of it still does not make sense. I have come to the point where I need to decide if I am to join a state shot crew, or federal shot crew. Currently I work for a state type 2 IA crew out of the northwest. Both shot crews have a lot to offer, but I am still torn on which to go with. I want to be in this for the long run, but with all the talk of budgets, career positions, etc, I am not sure if a federal position is better than a state, or vice versus. Or, is one agency better in the long run, than another? I started off with a private crew, so I am not in tune with all this as I wish I was. Any pointers, tips, insights, would be helpful. I also apologize for a ramble of a email. Hopefully some of it makes sense.


3/14 Run and Gun...

Have you been out on any assignments this year?  If not,
your status is probably set at unavailable in ROSS....

3/14 vfd capt,

i find it ironic that you would offer condolences when
you yourself are attempting to perpetuate rumors and
speculation about the cramer fire. way to play both
sides of the fence.

3/14 ABC is now responsibly addressing how you can prepare for the bird flu pandemic.
Lots of good suggestions. Kudos to them. Mellie

How Will Bird Flu Change Your Life?
A Look at What Could Happen at Home, Work, School and in Your Community

3/13 Mr. and Mrs. Heath,

I did not attend the Chief Officers meeting and therefore have no knowledge of what rumors were or were not circulated. But rumors serve little purpose other than to cause pain, and such is evident here.

The loss you feel can only be imagined by we who have grown children near the ages of Jeff and Shane. Please know that they are still included in our thoughts and prayers.

I know of no responsible fire manager who for one moment gives serious consideration to the rumor you mentioned. We fire managers in the FS cannot fully understand this tragedy as so much of the report remains redacted. But from what we have learned, I believe we have made, and will continue to make changes to reduce the risk to future young firefighters.

It touched me to hear you speak of Shane as always being with you. God bless you both.

Old Fire Guy

3/13 Ab,

I'm at a loss for words. The post from the Heaths is the saddest thing I've read on this board.

It's hard to believe that the worst that can happen to parents, just keeps getting worse.

vfd cap'n
3/13 I was on the cramer and had the honor of meeting both jeff and shane the morning before the tragic incident. these true grit firefighters lost their lives doing what we all here love to do, and now they are being slandered?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? unacceptable!

I was there and saw what happened with my own 2 eyes and knew the situation was dire from the moment the fire blew. these young men put their lives on the line day in and day out. my opinion is that we (being the fire community) need to make sure these young men's memories are not tarnished by people who werent there (there being on a fire in general). we all know the risks. now we have to worry if we do lose our lives in a tragic fire situation (god forbid) we have to worry about being slandered and attacked after we're gone.

concerned contractor

3/13 Big bear hugs to the Heaths and Allens. Remember we're your fire
community too. We love you!!!

Jodi and Steve, thanks for being the shining lights you are. You enrich
all you touch. I'm honored to know you.


3/13 Want the call to go

I have been available for over a week here in R6 TFLD/STEN ICT4
how come no call
i see the UTF list and still wonder are the local GACC's filling the orders?

Want to Run N Gun but got to get out of the snow first.


Readers, this comes in from Jodi and Steve Heath, Shane Heath's parents, who also consulted with Diz and Bill Allen, Jeff Allen's parents. Shane and Jeff died on the Cramer Fire two and a half years ago. Ab.

Fire Community,

A fire friend brought to our attention that a speaker at the chiefs meeting felt a need to start a hurtful rumor about Shane and Jeff. We must correct this. It is not true. Those who brought it up and spoke about it failed to mention that it is not true.

Let me say at the beginning that it is hurtful that families have to defend their dead sons from untrue rumors. We shouldn't be here having to post this. Having to defend the boys makes us sad. (Yes, I know they were young men responsible for themselves when they died, but I'll forever call them my boys.)


Ms Roth, being a lawyer is no excuse. Being from Washington DC is no excuse. Not being a firefighter is no excuse. It is unprofessional and unfair for any human being to ask for rumors from an audience and then not dispel the rumor or support it with fact. Evidently you did neither. All I can conclude is that you wanted the rumor to appear true to suit your own purposes. You no doubt know that a rumor tossed out in the guise of a question can have a hurtful and damaging life of its own. Shame on you.

The fire community is a small community, a fire family. People feel strongly and are connected. Tossed out at such a prestigious meeting and not immediately rebutted, a rumor is what people might remember years later as a possible explanation for tragedy. The only problem is, this rumor is not true.

Mr. Maclean, as a writer, I'd think you would have proof of such a rumor before voicing it, or maybe I was misinformed and you write fiction, not nonfiction books. Shame on you.

Ms Roth asked "What were 'those guys' doing out there for 5-1/2 hours?" And the rumor you and Maclean say... is that they were smoking marijuana.

Not so. Shane's autopsy report shows he was clean. I have it right here. And the government entity awarding the cash settlement surely wouldn't have made the award to the boys otherwise. If you check the records, they never do.

Ms Roth, you said it was 5-1/2 hours.

Yes it was 5-1/2 hours from the time they flew out of Cove Creek until they were burned over, but what does that mean in context?

That day Shane and Jeff were just back from a slow, dry, uneventful fire assignment in Utah. They were happy to be home working in their mountains. The day was clear and bright.

They flew out of Cove Creek at 9:29 AM. By the time they flew over H2 and talked with the crew foreman about what needed to be done, rappelled, got their equipment down and ready, I doubt if they started cutting before 10:15 or 10:30. I'm sure that they took a few water breaks (it was a little warm that day; I think 103o). They may even have stopped to eat a sandwich, who knows?

Their job that day was to make H2 a two-way and as safe as possible for helicopters and crews to land and take off from later, possibly even for a medium helicopter to have landing room. From the air it may have looked like only "a snag and 6 trees" needed to be cut, but when those boys got down there and sized it up, there was more to do: more than 100 trees needed to be cleared.

Shane loved to cut down trees, no doubt about that, but he also grew up doing the very best job he could do. Falling trees is time consuming, hard and dangerous work. Not all trees at H2 were easy. On large trees, the boys had to spot each other, make multiple cuts, work with wedges, and gauge the direction of the fall. In part, they were working along a ridge on sloping ground. Some trees were diseased. Those had to be handled carefully to be safe. They couldn't just fall the trees and let them lay. Some had to be cut into lengths and then dragged off or rolled away. No, it was not as easy as it looked from the air.

A smokejumper who was on the investigation team said "Don't let anyone make you doubt those guys were doing anything but working their asses off."

Ms Roth, unless you've walked the ridge, humped the slope carrying weight on your shoulders and cut trees, do you really have a right to question what they were doing or speculate about how long it took? Growing up on a large farm, Shane was taught to work hard and not do a job half-assed. Is it really a bad thing to say they did a better job than they needed to and that they worked hard for quite a while? Doing the job well, persisting at it, to us as parents, it says we raised them right.

June of 2004 we walked H2, and that ridge and came to understand so many things. We have seen all the work that Shane and Jeff had done that day. We sat beside the spot where Shane fell and died that day. It was so very hard. We sat there and sifted our hands through that spot and gathered the hooks and eyes and screws from his boots. A yellow nomex shirt had been laid down to mark where Shane had fallen that day. I picked it up to straiten it out and found that there was still a lot of ash underneath it, feeling that these ashes were a part of Shane I gathered them with great care and put them in a small leather pouch a wonderful friend had given me just for that purpose.

What went wrong? In my opinion, a lot of things. We'll never know exactly what. But I am sure it was a collective tragedy, a group effort or maybe a group oversight, not just one person's fault. The two boys were there on the mountain and working hard, thinking someone was watching the fire that seemed so far away. Alan Hackett failed to place a spotter to the east that day. Early in the afternoon Alan Hackett made the decision not to use H2, but failed to relay that to the Helibase so they could retrieve Jeff and Shane. He talked about having to get them off that ridge forty minutes before the burn over, but again failed to give anyone that order. Also early in the afternoon a decision was made to do a 30hr routine maintenance on one of the helicopters, making it unavailable for pickup.

What human factors led to Alan Hackett's oversight? It's reported that Alan had family problems. In addition to that, the report states that he was doing too many things: working on several fires, while continuing with forest responsibilities following a merger of two forests due to budget cuts. Alan was wearing several hats at once, too many hats to be safe.

On the evening of the 21st Randy Lambeth the FAO went to Rick Hafenfeld (Patty Bates husband) and the OSO and asked him to let Patty Bates (Alan Hackett's supervisor) know that Alan didn't have a grasp on the fire and things were going badly. On the morning of the 22nd Patty approached Randy and said “Rick tells me you have a problem with Alan.” Randy went on to tell her of his concerns and that things were out of control. She made a not so nice comment and then told Randy that Alan would remain as the IC. So even though Alan's difficulties and unfitness were brought to her attention twice, she did not remove him from command.

And then the irony... the names and how the chance similarities in names confused radio communication.

There was Shane Heath at H2 and Heath Hand the crew boss at H1
There was Jeff Allen at H2 and Alan Hackett the IC.
Alan Hackett and others were talking to Heath Hand. Others were talking with various members of both crews. Normally in communicating, firefighters refer to other firefighters by their last names, but probably there was confusion on both the Heath and Alan names. Other people listening to the radio traffic could have easily gotten confused about who was talking with whom, who knew what, and where they were going on what ship.

Whatever the cause, there was information that never got to the boys. If they had been told that the plan to use H2 that night had been abandoned, or that they had no spotter to the east... If they'd known fire had rolled out from the ridge into the second drainage -- the Cache Bar -- and was taking off to the west, they would have known the dangerous new direction of the fire's advance. Instead they kept working, thinking the fire was to the west. If….If….If….

By the time a helicopter was ready to leave and attempt a pickup, the smoke was too thick -- visibility was zero. When the boys realized the smoke was too thick, their last communication was that they were "bugging out". They ran up the ridge to the west. Unbeknownst to them, they were running directly into the Cache Bar arm of the fire.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

We're trying to move on. It is very sad to us that some of the people involved in Shane and Jeff's deaths won't own their own part in the creation of this tragedy, so they can move on, so we all can move on. As I mentioned, we don't believe it was any one person's fault. It was a cluster, created by a collective of people who were not aware, by agency policy and by circumstances of communication. If only Shane and Jeff could have had inkling ahead of time to turn down the assignment completely... How would they have known that? Maybe Shane and Jeff should have known to ask the right questions and keep on asking them. Hopefully firefighters in the future will do that. Shane and Jeff assumed their supervisors were fully functioning and watching their backs, which was clearly not the case. Hopefully supervisors in the future will truly supervise or excuse themselves from command. Hopefully their supervisor will supervise when a problem in the chain of command is brought to their attention, especially if it's brought to their attention repeatedly. It's called LEADING: you know, when in charge, take charge! And when any of you recognize that communication is unclear for whatever reason, similar names or otherwise, please step up and clear it up.

Are we angry at this rumor? Yeah we're angry - hurt angry - but Shane's right here always and he whispers, "Be strong Mom, Dad. I'm right here beside you and I love you."

Jodi and Steve Heath

Thanks Jodi and Steve.
More on the various Cramer reports and commentary from a number of people, starting here:
www.wildlandfire.com/arc/arc.php#cramer and at coloradofirecamp.com
Photo of Jodi, Zack and Steve at the Boise Airport dedication of the wildland firefighter statue last year. It was our pleasure to meet and get to know them. Ab.

3/13 Wildlandfire.com would like to welcome Firefighter Brand Products to our Classified Page and as the exclusive sponsor of the News Page

Our staff had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Bruce Burke, the president of the company, at a recent conference.  We were impressed with their selection of "hazmat free" beverage and food products and even more impressed with the companies commitment to returning a portion of their sales to local, state, and national firefighting support organizations including the Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Check out their informative website for details on a variety of good tasting (we sampled many of them at the conference) and "good for you" products. 


3/13 Massive Texas wildfires leave seven dead
Blazes race across half a million acres, burning houses, cattle


3/13 Re: RF Directions,

Reminds me of the little dutch boy trying to plug a hole in the dike with
his finger while thinking he would keep it from failing. It would have
been a lot better to build a dike that wasn't susceptible to holes.

The best thing the little dutch boy could have done was to run around
and let everyone know there was a hole in the dike and it was in danger
of failing and needed repairs.

3/13 A friend of mine was an Air Force officer and he said that when they built
new facilities, they'd put in the recreation features first figuring when
there were cost overruns, Congress would be hard-pressed not to fund a
runway or something else central to their mission. Maybe that's this year's
budget strategy -- Congress will be hard-pressed to come up with funding for
firefighting, especially after it stayed in the news all winter.

Still Our There as an AD, along a primrose path?
3/12 Thoughts...

"When and if I hear about reductions in firefighting resources confirmed by my
RF, the phones will be ringing and the emails will be flying all across this country.
Multiply that by “all of you” and I think we will be able to get our point across."

At the point the reductions are confirmed, it is too late for corrective action.

Sign me.... Better proactive than reactive

3/12 From Firescribe:

Parents of Thirtymile fire victim sue 2 Forest Service officials

Ken and Barbara Weaver of Yakima filed suit in U.S. District Court in Yakima on Tuesday, alleging that Forest Service employees Maureen Hanson and George Jackson violated the civil rights of their 21-year-old son Devin, one of four firefighters killed in the blaze.

The lawsuit accuses Hanson and Jackson of "impairing" a separate lawsuit the victims' families had filed against the companies that produced the emergency fire shelters used by the firefighters. That lawsuit was settled Tuesday. Terms were not disclosed.

The latest lawsuit alleges that Hanson, a Forest Service supervisor in Wenatchee, destroyed the actual shelters used by the firefighters. Jackson, a fire investigator working in Missoula, Mont., withheld "crucial" information about the shortcomings of the shelters from the families, the lawsuit contends.

Loss of this evidence forced the Weavers to settle their claims for much less than they otherwise would have, according to the lawsuit, which seeks at least $3 million in damages.

3/12 www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11767492/from/ET/

I wonder when Fed employees will face the same charges? Not!!

Heli Pilot

3/12 to My Thoughts...,

I guess the question would be what "table 4" says..... and I've seen it.

3/12 Casey, bummed and broke, et al…..

I cannot comment on the budget issues outside of Region-5 or for any other land management agency. I do know that only one Line Officer in this Region makes decisions on our fire preparedness budget and he has sent that direction to the Forest Supervisors and District Rangers with his annual budget direction. A summary of his written direction:

1. Provides Firefighting Production Capability (FFPC) at the level identified in the National Program Direction, as displayed in the following Regional Firefighting Production Capability (FFPC MAR 16.0) And National Shared Resources Table 4.
This RF direction addresses staffing on each Forest. Readers should look at table 4 for the Forest they work on. Forests are required to staff at this level. Forests that choose not to staff at this level can have the firefighting resource(s) removed from the Forest and assigned to another Forest. Remember the RF has a target to meet a fire preparedness. If he cannot meet that target he will be asked why not? He must staff those resources.

2. Work Plans (WP) are to reflect the Regional Firefighting Production Capability (FFPC MAR 16.0) and National Shared Resources organization as displayed in Table 4.
This direction from our RF details the requirement to now fund all the firefighting resources on table 4.

3. Maintain efforts to fill positions to the Standard Fire and Fuel Management Module Organization as described in the March 29, 2005 Regional Forester letter.
This direction addresses hiring and the requirement for each Forest to continue to hire, hire and hire more so modules can be staffed at the target level assigned to the RF by his boss the Chief.

Staffing, funding and hiring direction is set. Now we need to know how he wants us to balance the books for this organization.

4. A minimum Engine Staffing of 5 persons 5 days per week is acceptable. By March 15, Forests will notify their respective Geographic Area Coordination Center (GACC) with anticipated Engine staffing less than 7 days per week.
This is a step back from last year however it affects only 20% of your Forests engines. It does not affect any permanent hiring including Apprentices. It could affect some temp hiring. However real life shows us that with our vacancies and current attrition rates, having 20% of your engines 5 days is going to happen, budget or no budget. Hiring of Apprentices is critical to R-5 for many reasons. We have more Apprentice Academies going on now then ever before. Any downsizing will hit the Apprentices first and hardest and we all remember how important Apprentice hiring is to this region, right? If you are a module leader in this region and you don’t understand how important Apprentices are to this region, all you need to do is look at the what the Apprentice programs means to those outside of fire management.

5. The FY 06 WFPR budget is austere and is expected to remain so for the next several years. The region has been directed to use a combination of WFPR and WFSU (P-code Base 8) to fund the requisite Regional Firefighter Production Cap ability (FFPC) and National Shared Resource objectives.
This, along with direction that no forest will have an ending deficit tells it all. #5 plus the current vacancy rate will allow us to balance our books. The RF made this decision not because it sounded like swell idea. He did this because Congress authorized it and the WO used this in the direction to each RF.

This is probably not the best way to do business and it’s very different than the MEL build up years. However we all need to get on board with it for now. As I see it, no one has the guts to cut firefighters. This is probably mostly true because of your positive image with the public. It’s also true because unlike many other federal programs we can show a direct benefit and overall cost decreases to the taxpayer for a fire program funded at the current level with a 99% IA success rate vs. paying less for IA capabilities and more large fires that burn down more houses and expose firefighters and public to increased threats of injuries and fatalities. What we have built since 2000 is directly related to safety. Again, any decreases from the 2000-2004 build up will increase the number of large fires with increased costs and firefighter exposures associated with those large fires.

Also different now from the early 1980’s reduction in firefighting resources is our ability to communicate better. We all have cells, we all have private email accounts, we all know how to get a hold of our Representatives, we have FWFSA and www.wildlandfire.com. When and if I hear about reductions in firefighting resources confirmed by my RF, the phones will be ringing and the emails will be flying all across this country. Multiply that by “all of you” and I think we will be able to get our point across.

Is your Forest is doing something different then what your RF told your Forest Supervisor to do with staffing, funding and hiring? If so, ask why? If you don’t like the answers, let someone know by using those cells, emails and FWFSA. I can tell you my Forest is following the RF direction.

Remember this: Often those that work in regional offices are recipients of our jokes and criticisms. It may be hard for us to see, however if you carry a hose pack or swing a tool in this region, you have some people in key positions at RO/WO FAM that are the best friends you ha ve right now when it comes to trying to save your job by working hard to avoid reductions! I know that may be hard to swallow, understand or believe, however it’s a fact and proved by the examples shown above in this post.

My Thoughts……
3/12 Ab

Between you AB's and me; as an engineer and sometimes scientist I am skeptical of any private, Biotech, firm that has the solution to ALL fires.

Sure sounds good but I Goggled them and they make biological agents for the medical community. Exactly for what I am not sure. I be skeptical! Now if I recall correctly fire is used to destroy infectious biological agents. How could they put out fire? Also it would take a lot of computer power to "take in all the local conditions" (that good fire bosses do by training and instinct) to direct the "package" to deliver the agent. Would be great if it were true. Sounds like someone trying to get some grant money for a "pie in the sky" project. Now if they could produce something to make the water load in the equipment you have much more efficient, that would be great. Like the new foams, only 1000 times better, 10 gal per acre or something.

I have "pie in the sky"; If someone could figure out how to make an air tanker out of a ship the size of the Exxon Valdez. That would splat a fire in one swoop, carries as much as 52,000 CDF, S2T drops; that would kill the whole forest. LOL

Just random thoughts to amuse the Abs.

3/12 Ab:

>From the Washington Times:

"Gale A. Norton, the first female secretary of the interior, yesterday
announced she is stepping down from her Cabinet post after more than five
years to pursue private-sector opportunities."

I thought that was what what she had been doing for 5 years as Secretary
(e.g., pursuing/enhancing the private sector)

Tongue in cheek(iness)


3/12 RJM,

It does my heart good to see slimy vermin like Gale Norton leave the government. Dollars to donuts says that her resignation has more to do with the fact that Jack Abramoff is now singing like a canary than any desire to return to private life. This is a really entertaining resignation statement from today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

“In a resignation letter to Bush, Norton said she is ready to leave government for a private sector job, which is likely to prove much more lucrative. After five years in Washington, the former Colorado attorney general from Denver said she and her husband hope to "end up closer to the mountains we love in the West."

"Mr. President, this department has climbed the mountaintop in terms of achieving the goals we set out to accomplish," wrote Norton, whose resignation takes effect at the end of March.

"Now I feel it is time for me to leave this mountain you gave me to climb, catch my breath, then set my sights on new goals to achieve in the private sector."

My hunch is that her resignation has less to do with a desire to “end up closer to the mountains we love in the West” than the fact that she is starting to smell like a dead fish in an administration that has recently been sprouting more leaks than the New Orleans levies during Katrina.

Another armchair quarterback,

The pyrorazor looks like another quack idea that will join the list of Really Stupid Inventions which includes firefighting blimps, plastic waterbombs, and other poorly thought out inspirations. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this website is part of a scam to fool some unsuspecting suckers into investing in this farce. Nice graphics though.

Misery Whip

Squeak trees, now there's a good 'un. Ab.

3/12 MW, V, DC, ETC

From the Rx-300 class the book answer for accountability (which I think is pretty good) is:

  1. Do you have a plan?
  2. Is it a good plan?
  3. Did you follow the plan?

#1 seems like a Darwin Award question.
#2 is still an issue, much to my frustration. I was part of an Rx program review and looking at their burn plans, and they were garbage. This was a unit with a large Rx program (and a large history or Rx escapes). Other plans from our agency and others are sometimes lacking, especially in having a verifiable prescription.
#3 seems like it is most often the result of a plan that does not meet the #2 criteria. (I did not think we needed that many engines.) Even if that was not a contributing factor in an escape the Burn Boss will get crucified for not following a plan.

I was on two project fires in the 1970s that were escaped Rx fires. 1 resulted in a fatality, I don't know that we did any better in the old days.

Unpredicted high winds = act of God.......If that was the case you can bet that the NWS is actively looking into it through their internal review process. They have a formalized process for anytime they miss an event, such as a tornado with no tornado warning in place.

Rx fire is an unquantifiable tradeoff. How do you measure the number of houses that did not burn because of treatments next to communities? Any time you strike a match there is some level of risk. What level of risk are individuals and agencies will to accept? I am willing to accept as much risk as there is......as long as questions 1, 2, and 3 are answered yes.

Sorry for the lecture.


3/12 Kyle
You want to know where to start so that you can become a hotshot. Normally you will need 2-3 years experience on other types of fire crews before becoming a hotshot. In order to get these jobs you need to look at the website www.usajobs.opm.gov use the series search button at the top and enter 0455, 0462 into the series box. Then select which state(s) you want to work in. Then in the pay range selections put in gs-3 through gs-5. I am assuming that you have 24 semester hours in some sort of non marine natural science field. If you don't have the school, gs-3 through gs-4. then search.
This site lists all federal jobs in the world.

As for local area classes. you will need S190 and S130, unless they changed the nomenclature again. basically the entry level fire classes. A lot of the entry level jobs assume that they are going to have to give you these classes themselves. But if you are already redcarded you will have a big leg up. I would go to your local federal land management agencies, and your local fire departments and see if there are any of these classes being offered.

Hope that helps more than it confuses.


3/12 DC(ret)

WOW............... seems that you, M.W., and others have kissed and
made up after you ripped each other over and over for the past week
or so.............. why is that??? All of you seem to think that
maybe, just maybe, you are now beginning to get on the same
page.................... NOT. Now all are trying to smooth
everything over.................... getting GUSHY. I liked it better
when you were all firing with both barrels............... telling it
like it was!! I don't think you are all being honest anymore, but if
you ARE.... congrats to all of you.....enjoy.


Some of us are interested in communicating and understanding and learning something. This forum is about sharing  information. Occasionally it gets heated, but firefighters usually find they have more in common than they thought, especially when there's good info provided. When the barrels go down, more info usually comes out. Stick around if you like, you'll see... Ab.

3/12 Good Sunday morning, All. I've been out of town, but I wanted to give you an update in response to a couple of questions about injured wildland firefighters last week.

Steve Burns (from Oregon) who was in the dozer accident in Texas is still in the hospital in Texas. He'll be there a while. He has plates in his hips and healing -- to get good enough to go home -- is a long slow process. The Foundation is paying his house payments until the financial waters calm down.

Destiny Horton --the worst hurt of the 7 volunteer firefighters that were burned over in Oklahoma -- is undergoing further surgery. Both his arms will be amputated from the elbow down and he'll loose his left foot. He was driving the truck when a kid fell off the back. He stopped, ran back and threw either a blanket or a fire shelter over him. The kid was relatively OK, but Destiny was severely burned. Burk was able to contact Destiny's mother-in-law after the accident. She said the community and extended community in OK are providing lots of support at this time. The Foundation will keep in touch and see if they need help later.

Please keep these folks in your thoughts. Thanks for your concerns.

Vicki Minor

My best wishes for their healing. Ab.

3/11 This came in several days ago but fell through the cracks. (Ab's sick). Don't know if it still applies, but dannyboy wanted it posted.

Misery Whip,

New guy here. See you here bunches. 35 years retired wildland, and
like most of those here.. "been there, done that". Congrats to all.
Regarding the Hotlum Burn................... you are correct in
saying the winds were 60 to 80. I happened to be coming thru on 97
that day as it crossed from south to north over 97. It was burning as
if it were late September of a dry year.... there were USFS rigs, FPD
rigs and others rolling up and down the highway with their reds
flashing brightly................... laughable to me. At one point I
tried to exit my pick-up against the wind... NOT!! A steady 50 with
gusts well over 75 to say the least.

Now to comment some. You write that the poor single dispatcher was
working three (WOW>>THREE?) fires and did not hear the Red Flag
warnings................. three fires is child's play for a
dispatcher on winter time fires. Did the budget cuts you refer to
take away her hearing???
You also comment on contract crews with falsified training
records...... bad for the Department and shameful doings by the
contractor................... however, do you really think that the
outcome would have been different if they would have had the
legitimate training............... not really.
Just getting started.......... more to follow.... film at eleven.


3/11 Ab and all

You aware that Gale Norton is stepping down?

3/11 Many years ago (‘80s) when I was part of the cadre for S490 (Advanced Fire Behavior), there was a Class Coordinator on the Federal side by the name of Dick Harrel. At the close of each session Dick gave a little speech. In this speech there was what I always thought to be a very good piece of “sage advice”. He said” “it is perfectly OK to get excited as you want to by fire behavior in any situation, but it was never OK to be surprised by it”. Following that advice, learning and observing fire behavior at every opportunity served me well for a lot of years. Just thought I would pass that along.

3/11 Hi, I'm doing a research paper on the Temagami fire of 1977 and I'm having a hard time trying to get information on it. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about it. Can you tell me how many if any..... firefighters were lost and if any laws were implemented from the disaster.

Thank you for your time.
Kelly Soulliere

3/11 Hey ab here is a answer to all the budget woes that have been posted LOL some sort of new technology that would need even less people! here you go turn up your sound the music on this website is far out.....


Another armchair quarterback

Slick marketing, with a piece of the elkbath photo at the end... Ab.

3/11 Thanks you for your very informative post. What I found most interesting is that through different uses of words or semantics, we all seem to be in agreement. We are all close together on these issues. I would, however, like to make one thing clear and that is I’m all for accountability, but “punishment” was never in any of my posts. Safety has always come first and hopefully for all FFs it will continue to be so. I definitely hear you about the hamstringing. The year before my retirement, I did a stint on the Cannon Fire over in the Walker River drainage in eastern California. I found the “rules of engagement” to be more than cumbersome and there were times we didn’t get into doing our job until late morning as we navigated our way through the “check lists”. I also agree that erring too far on the side of safety can in itself be a safety issue as was the case in my previously mentioned experience. We lost valuable time to accomplish our tasks while the fire was still laying down. On this same incident, the vast majority of folks were pulled from the line at night (for safety??) and the fire was virtually un-staffed at a time when a lot of productivity could have happened.

To be sure, I mean absolutely no criticism of the Team managing that fire as they all did an outstanding job and it was a pleasure to work with and for them. They were also working under the “hamstringing” but did well in spite of it.

This overly litigious society we live in has spread to our noble profession and is making life difficult to say the least. I saw the beginnings of it and you have to cope with it now. I agree with you and think South Canyon was a major turning point in our business where aggressive fire fighting started to become a thing of the past for the wrong reasons.

I could ramble on and on as these issues are still quite passionate to me, but I wont. Thank you again for your post and I must say we seem to already be on the same page. Good luck in the future and STAY SAFE.


3/11 Kudos Misery Whip.

Your latest post was right on. I have become nauseated reading the
he said / she said over this incident. While both sides have had good
points, they both seemed to be laced with a little emotion or anger.

A good point, experienced analysis, and a civil tone, is what makes
this forum a great learning tool for all of us in wildland fire (Green,
Red, or Purple).


3/11 DC,

I know, I said I was going to take a break, but I can see you are still struggling with the accountability/punishment issue. Let me see if I can help explain the “new” viewpoint, and I promise I’ll be civil.

In case it matters to you, I’m no spring chicken either. I fought fire in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s too, and I still work in Operations on a Type 1 team.

The playing field has changed considerably for wildland firefighters since the Cramer Fire. There is a real paranoia among firefighters these days as a result of the Cramer IC being forced to quit or face criminal charges. Firefighters have become hamstrung by all of the post 30 Mile/Cramer checklists, etc that have to be filled out and discussed before you can even engage a acre fire. Firefighters, through no fault of their own, are slower to engage fires and will bail out quicker if things get even a little hinky. We have developed a “bias for inaction”, and that is a safety problem in itself.

Highly publicized escaped burns like Cerro Grande have taken their toll as well. Burn bosses all carry liability insurance these days and take extraordinary care to make sure all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed before they burn. I remember a day when you could lose some extra acreage on a burn and nobody really cared as long as you caught it. Just chalk up the slopover as extra acres. Nowadays, everyone is a little spooked about putting any fire on the ground. Any escape is considered a mistake. But they still happen sometimes.

Since South Canyon, there has been a growing recognition that we keep repeating the same kinds of mistakes that kill firefighters time after time. There are similarities between fires like Mann Gulch and Cramer that are positively disturbing.

In the past few years, the federal fire agencies have invested enormous effort to provide high-quality Leadership training to firefighters. This is one of the best changes I’ve seen in my entire career. The young’uns these days are taught to ask hard questions, to understand human factors that can interfere with safety, and that you must learn from past mistakes. After Action Reviews are SOP these days for any significant event. You don’t need to fear that the younger generation is going to pot. They are as fit and committed and dedicated as firefighters were in the 60’s. But they work in a much different social context and work environment.

The revolutionary change that makes it harder for old-timers to understand what is presently happening in the fire world has been in the area of human factors and risk management. The best way I can describe it is that there is a sea change in the way we view our world. In a way, it is like we have learned a new language that many old-timers don’t understand. Accountability is still important, only accountability to us means that you look for all of the causes to an accident, not just the ones that are easiest to detect and pin on an individual. And we have become extremely sensitized to people who equate accountability with punishment of an individual, because the science these days tells us that most organizational accidents have many causes, and that many of those causes are things which are beyond the control of the people who are closest to the problem.

There are two excellent books I’d like to recommend if you are serious about understanding the present fire culture. One is “Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents” by James Reason. The other is "Managing the Unexpected” by Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe. These people are among the highest regarded experts in their field.

I think what makes old farts like me a little testy about this kind of stuff is that I understand and speak this new language. Many of the posters who call for accountability and punishment any time a fatality or escaped burn happens want to focus on punishing individuals. We want to learn all of the lessons, not just the ones that are easiest to detect. And political pressure from people who don’t understand this “new way” makes it harder to find and eliminate accident causes.

Like most people, I respect anyone who respects me. All we want is for people to understand and respect this new way of viewing these problems. But you can’t do it until you understand our “new” language.

I hope you enjoy your retirement, it sounds like you earned it. Best wishes to you,

Misery Whip
3/11 To All Federal Wildland Firefighters:

As many of you know, the FWFSA has launched an "educational" campaign directed towards key congressional committees with jurisdiction or interest in fire suppression/preparedness budgets of the Forest Service and other land management agencies.

Already They Said has posted a number of comments on the subject of cuts; staffing reductions etc.

We would very much like to hear from those of you who have first hand knowledge/awareness of actual cuts, potential cuts etc. It is not important to have your name, but information on what forest, national park etc., is being affected, what state, the numbers and types of personnel/equipment would be helpful.

These issues are not exclusive to R5. Anywhere cuts or lack of funding is occurring, we'd like to hear from you. You do not have to be an FWFSA member. Please feel free to send all correspondence and documentation to cjudd@fwfsa.org or FWFSAlobby@aol.com.

Thanks in advance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/11 Sd105

The things to think about, as far as crew carriers are concerned, are how
many miles are you going to put on them and how much time your crews are
spending in them. Crew buggies are great if you're spending 110 days on
fire because you have all of your equipment and the guys have their own
little "space". The Ford and International carriers aren't cheap. The
thing about using SUV's is their fuel economy and efficiency for long
hauls. Here in the Southwest we see crews from the Southeast,
predominately, on fires with these types of vehicles. Most of these guys
are running with 3 SUV's and a couple of 6- packs for their gear. Most of
the MEL crews (San Juan, Warm Springs, Navajo) used these until they got
their crew buggies. The SUV's are fuel efficient for crew operations but
the sacrifice is crew comfort and long range affordability (diesel engines
in the crummies). Another thing to think about is CDL regulations. The new
International buggies are over 26,000 lbs, so you have to certify your

Hope that helps.
R3 Hotshot

3/11 Hi, my name is Kyle. I have been interested in wildland fires ever since my freshmen science class. As a senior now i have to think what i want to do with my life. I run about two miles everyotherday for my health and in hoping to prepare for a career in a hot shot crew. My only hard questions are were to start, schooling; such is confusing me.

-thank you for your time-

3/11 Ab,

Here's something of interest to readers: in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada charges have been filed for safety violations in the deaths of two firefighters at a hardware store fire last year.

"The charges include failing to take reasonable precautions to ensure the health and safety of crews, as well as failing to properly instruct each worker 'in the safe performance of his or her duties.'"

The chief and deputy chief are facing "a maximum penalty of $500,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding a year, or both." http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/National/2006/03/11/1482790-sun.phpl

Even when converted to U.S. dollars, that's probably still a lot of money.

vfd cap'n
3/11 Ab, I've done a little research...

Here are a few details on the Hotlum Rx burn that escaped on the Shasta-T NF. By the time it was contained, it burned a house, several vehicles, boat, telephone poles, and AT&T cable... and there was a vehicle accident on Hwy 97 because of the smoke. All is being included and evaluated in the review.

The fire was lit on Thurs, Feb 23 after checking appropriate weather forecasts (Medford, Reno, Sacramento, Eureka). Some of you may remember that the NWS moved out of Redding some years ago. The existing forecast areas come together on the Shasta Trinity; they don't always agree. There was also a spot weather forecast out of Redding. All forecasts indicated there should be no problems with weather.

The burn began on Thurs. It was OK on Friday. Saturday there were winds. The spot forecast under-predicted the winds. Saturday night the fire was held through 20-30 mph winds with gusts to 40mph. Firefighters were on it all night long, specifically 4 engines and a dozer crew. On Sun morning 60-70 mph winds hit, it couldn't be contained, and the fire marched right on out.

An 1800 acre area was planned. Initially there was a dozer line around around 500 acres, and that was accomplished. There was a 2 acre finger outside the dozer line but still within the 1800 acre unit. That was mopped up and held until the big winds came unexpectedly on Sunday.

The Review Team was on site the entire time. They included Bob Patton, FBAN; Kit Bailey, technical specialist; Ron Harrison, meteorologist; Bernie Barrow, fuels specialist; and Art Gaffery, Line Officer from the Sequoia.

That's what my research indicates. It appears that it was "done by the book". I'm sure the Review will indicate what lessons could be learned.

3/10 Nor Cal Tom-

Not sure what you mean by CDF trying to avoid things and that we dodged a bullet on the last one. You might be referring to the Tuolumne Fire. Did you know that as part of that joint USFS/CDF investigation team that an OSHA investigator was invited to participate with the team? While I haven’t participated in the leadership series training package, I have reviewed it and it does have applicability even in CDF-after all it’s good stuff. I believe it is being presented in some areas of the state to CDF people by USFS personnel.

What has happened to the federal agencies and the legal system is most unfortunate and I certainly hope it doesn’t come to our town, but I don’t think we’re necessarily not on the same page as you say or would suggest. As for your remark about common standards, not sure what you mean there either, all I can say is we are all firefighters at heart regardless of agency and we all work together-contrary to what you might suggest.

“Another CDF BC”
3/10 unsigned - In R-5 it's business as usual, keep up the deficit spending???

What forest are you from? You are either misinformed
or your forest is in for a boot in the ass. My forest,
in R-5, has cut back all our engines from 7 to 5 day a
week staffing, cut funding in training, are not
staffing lookouts fulltime, are not filling positions,
have dropped many vehicles from the fleet (sharing
vehicles), due to the 5 day staffing on engines are
only hiring a couple temps, we are looking at what
engines and possibly what crews we can cut to
"survive" within our budget. "Business as Usual" I
don't think so.

Sign me,
bummed and broke

3/10 Two more very nice Type 6 wildland engines are looking for new owners on the Classified Page under Heavy Equipment! OA
3/10 SD105,

The Pike Hotshots of Colorado and the Sawtooth Hotshots in
Idaho both use big SUVs (Suburbans?) instead of buggies.

3/10 Unsigned... Dude, Dude, Dude, Dude, Dude... <little Madonna smile><slow wink>

Line Officers at the Chiefs Meeting told the WO reps that come the end of the month, they would cut engines that are not funded. They say we can't start the season on a maybe. People put themselves at risk on a maybe.

These are Line Officers in areas with tons of interface and multi-million dollar homes (that do have safety clearance around them) and reservoirs at risk. You can bet your bottom dollar if word doesn't come down from Mark Rey to OK those budgets and this leads to engines being unstaffed and if the area burns, it will be Mark Rey held accountable.

How about writing Mark Rey.

They could think of it this way: If they give the money, they get the political ball off their backs.

  • Enough fire forces mean we won't have an increase in Initial Attack escapes.
  • The Hispanic Settlement Agreement folks will continue to feel the FS is doing its best. We certainly provide the cover on that legal arrangement.
  • Less Severity money will need to be requested to fight those big costly fires we're likely to have.
  • And the inside new legal info from that lawyer <shark> Debra (can't remember her last name) from DC who spoke...
    She said that with fire now on the radar of OIG & OSHA, managers on up the chain can be cited even if they don't know about what actually happens on the ground way down under their command. So, cut the budget that cuts staffing for a bunch of engines... fodder for the legal sharks? (Seems a bit far out, unfair and topsy-turvy. Maybe someone should follow up to see if this could occur.)

OK, 'nuf for now. Bye to all you dudes and dudettes and doodahs.

Tra la, <skipping through hail!>

3/10 Unsigned - Don't know who your talking to, but I'm hearing direction very
clear from both Washington & RO leadership, that R5 will not deficit spend
this year.

3/10 Nor-Cal Tom,

I totally agree with you that all departments should be held more
accountable for the human tragedy's that occur. In MY OPINION, the
reason they are not is that the final findings always seem to avoid
putting the blame on "human error".................... this would put
the word "accountable" in to the mix................ Bad Word! This
is NOT to say that ALL our human error, but it is a very Rare
occasion when a sudden weather or wind change is the culprit.... very
rare indeed. Wildland firefighting, we all know, is a dangerous
occupation and when a tragedy occurs, all need to know the "why", in
detail, and learn from it............... regardless of the why or who.


3/10 Just a thought/just asking AKA lobotomy,

I believe you need to take your questions to NWCG, the Forest Service and BLM Training folks in Boise, and current management. I am not qualified, nor do I possess the knowledge to answer your questions... IF you are truly looking for the facts and not just chasing rabbits and personal vendetta's....

3/10 This may be of interest to readers:

Aviation Special Investigation Report
Special Investigation Report on
Emergency Medical Services Operations

NTSB Number SIR-06/01
NTIS Number PB2006-917001
PDF Document (2.6 M)

3/10 SD105

I know both the Navajo, and I the Cherokee Hotshots do not use the large crew buggies. The Navajo shots use Ford Expeditions, and if I remember correctly, the Cherokee shots were using six packs. Another crew was also the Warm Springs Hotshots. I cannot quite remember what they were driving though. Hope that helps.

3/10 Re: AD Pay Plan Overhaul


Here is a tiny bit of information that has (finally) been released by those tasked with revamping the federal AD Pay Plan. Not exactly a shining example of a transparent government process – actually dismally far from it. The only way to change this track record of the government agencies we have put in place to oversee our collective national “business” is to ask the questions. And then ask again when the first questions go unanswered. And then ask again…. and again… and keep asking. Sometimes the resulting silence is both deafening and full of its own information.

Shari Downhill


USDA Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Briefing Paper
Date March 3, 2006
Topic: Comparing the 2005 and 2006 AD Pay Plan

Issue: The 2006 AD pay plan will have 12 pay bands (AD-A through AD-L) vs. the previous AD-1 through AD-5. While the majority of the positions will have an increase in pay rate; some position’s rates will be reduced due to classifications and leveling.

Background: In 2004 the National Wildfire Coordinating Group asked the Incident Business Practices Working Team to analyze the use of the AD pay plan, its covered positions and associated pay rates. In collaboration with Subject Matter Experts and Human Resource Specialists, positions were classified and a revised pay plan was developed that clarified language and developed consistent uses and pay rates across agencies and geographic areas.

Key Points: The original revised plan proposed for 2005 set pay rates, based on job classification and evaluation of duties at the equivalent of a step 1 in the WG/GS pay scale. This caused the rates for approximately 80% of the positions in the plan to go down. Concerns about the decreases put the proposed plan on hold until further analysis and an OPM review could be completed. In 2005, the 2004 pay plan, including rates, was utilized.

For 2006, DOI and FS Human Resources pay specialists agreed to utilize the mid level of the GS/WG pay scales in the rate calculation formula. By calculating the formulas with the mid-step, the majority of the positions would receive an increase in pay, however approximately 38% would still go down, primarily the Unit Leader and Strike Team Leader positions.

In order to reduce these impacts, a proposal to “freeze” the rates for these pay bands at the 2005 level has been agreed to by DOI and Forest Service Fire Leadership. Once annual cost of living adjustments bring these rates to the 2005 levels, they would then increase at the same increments as the remainder of the pay bands. This may result in these positions not seeing an increase for several years. Alaska and Hawaii rates are not affected by this proposal. In this scenario 21 positions would still receive a decrease in pay, due to the classification of the positions placing them in more appropriate pay bands. Statistically, these 21 positions comprise approximately 5% of all ADs hired annually.

Many of the most critical and utilized positions filled by the AD community will have rate increase from 10 to 15% from the AD-1 through 5 rates used the past three years.

DOI hires 69% of the casuals nationally; FS hires 31%. 75% of the casuals hired during the period 2000-2004 fell in the AD-1 through AD-4 rates classification with 50% of those FFT2 (firefighter type 2).

Adjustments to the plan can be made through an established annual review process. Details of this process are being worked on collaboratively with Human Resources.

Annual rate increases to the plan will correspond to the “Rest of US” Federal pay increases.

Contact: Mary Ann Szymoniak 208-387-5944 or Emmy Ibison 406-329-3463

3/10 I wanted to thank the elders of the board and (one especially that isnt that old) for the words of wisdom. Tactical Truths/Scratchlines/One liners etc. lessons learned... and if I can leave this message for the other young bulls out there, strength and drive arent enough, wisdom and humility make the man.


3/10 DC(ret),

You said on 3/9/2006, "The one thing I take pride in is that I NEVER stopped learning from start to finish. I believe when we “think” we know enough about out business we at that point cross the line from being a professional to being VERY dangerous to ourselves and the people we supervise and the people we serve."

DC, go back to your post on 3/8 and ask yourself if bagging on people, especially when you don't know the person or the facts, accomplishes learning for yourself or others. You even bagged on 007 tonight.....

I will ask again, "Since your service would seem to expand through four decades, can you give some facts instead of just your opinions?" Facts foster learning.

You said, "I find it interesting that there are many of you on this forum that feel the need for confrontation on issues as simple as safety and accountability."

I ask, what is so simple about the issue of safety and accountability. If you have been reading for years without posting, especially when you seem to be so concerned about safety and accountability..... you should have been posting for years. That is as bad as seeing an unsafe action and not taking action.

3/10 I have learned that the 40 Engines being cut that everyone is talking about, may not
be true. There are 40 Engine modules that do not have module leaders as of yet
because of hiring issues and they are on a list until the hiring is done. I wouldn't hit
the panic button yet.

In R-5 it's business as usual, keep up the deficit spending. I would be worrying about
what is going to be happening next year. I hope I hear from CDF soon......

3/10 Hi yactak,

I'm interested in developing a Fireline Leadership (L-380) or Incident Leadership (L-381) course for my company or agency. How do I go about doing that?

Answer from the Leadership Site: Course design criteria can be found on the Wildland Fire Leadership web site at www.fireleadership.gov/courses/courses.phpl. There is a pulldown menu that says “More Information” and one of the menu items is “Design Criteria”. The info found here will clarify the intent and cover the topics which must be included in the design and delivery of L-380 and L-381.

> From the L-380 and L-381 Links:

The L-380 Course Criteria offers an alternative approach to training. There is no standing course package available through the NWCG Publication Management System. Agencies have the authority to develop lesson plans based on the course criteria outlined here. The purpose of establishing course criteria is to give agencies the latitude to develop or acquire leadership training that fits their organizational needs while meeting the intent of the leadership curriculum. The following criteria is intended for use by training officers and managers for determining their best source for L-380 training. These criteria can be used to evaluate a training product that is developed internally or acquired through other providers such as a contractor, a university, or other source.

So, why have only are only MCS approved suppliers of leadership training been approved? I ask the question again….. If there are no NWCG requirements, why has L-381 become NWCG L-381 and why has L-380 become NWCG L-380 been indoctrinated…. Why are these requirements for fireline qualifications now required and only approved from MCS providers?

Maybe a supervisor should be the person who judges the qualifications of their employees…. Qualifies and certifies them…. Much like it was in the “old school”. You never promoted someone until they were ready and you stuck by their quals no matter what they did. You taught them…. You were as much as responsible for their actions as they are.

Just a thought…. Just asking
3/10 It is time for us to get ready to fight fire with what ever resources we have.

Took the WCT (pack test) last evening. Came in with a 36min 36sec, not
too bad for a old guy 69 pushing 70, pushing it to close.

I enjoy all the talk on this site, but it is about time to start getting ready for
the season, pack test, equip, etc.

The Old Man of The Dept
3/10 Just got back from the National BIA Forestry meeting that was held in
Spokane, Washington and it was mentioned that AD rates will soon be
approved. From one of the speakers its looks like AD 1 & 2 will get a
13 percent increase this year.

See you all in the SW soon,


3/10 What do y'all know about the AD rates for 2006? I've seen some mention of it
in this forum, but no specifics. Thanks for any info!

Still Out There as a (Poor?) AD
3/10 I am looking for information on shot crews that are NOT running crew carriers
for transport. If anyone knows of crews running trucks, suburban or other vehicles
I would like to know which crews. I have a couple of type 2 IA crews and we
are going to be upgrading our fleet in the next year and we have a decidedly split
camp on what type of vehicles we should go with. Any assistance would appreciated.

3/10 Dear Y and D

Helos cut.... as in "the contracts were not renewed"
and will not be....Winnemucca, Keene ( Bakersfield ) 2 in Oregon and
one in Utah


You may be right about the history of fire retirement, I was told the history of it by a Forest Service FCO many years ago, the Fire retirement is a can of worms anyway as to how gets it and who has to fight for it....My point about smoke and all that is that nobody is drafted into fire fighting, if the environment is a problem for someone, then there are other was to make a living and that maybe firefighting isn't the field they should go into...

Student of Fire Science:

Thanks for the Civics lesson and you are right, when you state that Mark Rey, Dale Bosworth, and Lynn Scarlett say things are fine and dandy when as we know they are not quite "That" fine and dandy......My point here is that since 9/11 we have been sending billions and billions of dollars to Iraq and Afghanistan...those billions have to come from somewhere and there hasn't been a direct tax increase to the general public.......... if we weren't spending billions there, maybe there would be more available for firefighters and equipment here... Katrina and Rita of course, didn't help the budgets any either....... for those who were around in 1999 they may remember this fire season was intense throughout the west. Fire planners and Washingtonians realized the Fed fire services were under funded and under staffed and as a result we saw 100% MEL in 2000. It was like an open checkbook, hotshot crews, helicopters, engines and more support staffing was added..... Well, that was the last year that we had 100% MEL (except for one FED Region that operated under a false economy and just continued to plow ahead with a deficit trailing) and now we have all these positions and understandably people want to keep them filled, but cuts have been coming each year since then, and now we have engines on blocks, fewer helicopters and staffing cuts and since we have other national issues that are front page and require funding, these cuts will continue.

If you are really a Student of fire science and are in school, you are on the right track. If you want to stay in this business the future of this profession is will rely on those who have the foresight to get a college degree (a real degree) and get into the professional series. It might cut a few fire seasons short to get the degree, because you may have to start school in September and that is a tough call, especially when the September fires are pulling in 16's with haz. It is a sacrifice and in the long run it will pay off more and you will get into the positions quicker where a real difference can be made.

Remember. you have to make your own bed however you want to sleep, nobody owes you anything and you don't always get get what you want....

Frank Z
3/9 retired DC,

It's not that people are confrontational, it's that we come from different agencies and contract organizations and some are retired while some are still "in the loop". We have different perspectives. We share them.

CDF has always worked at Public Relations on fires. They really WORK IT from what I see. I wish we could do as well. They know the value of having the public on their side. CDF has avoided at all costs the appearance of mistakes and/or wrongdoing. That's hard to do when there are now millions of rules and procedures to be followed, and lawyers and the public are cynical of government and expect firefighters to be "held accountable" in a very rule bound way and it's all very emotional with fire. CDF has been and is working daily at staying out from under the scrutiny of the state level equivalent of OIG, OSHA, etc that the feds have to deal with.

I think it is only a matter of time, a short time, before CDF will be thrust into the lawyers limelight (thrown to the sharks) and made to adhere to the same legal morass following any problem -- as we feds are now. I thought it might happen with the last CDF tragedy, but you all dodged the bullet. I'm glad for that. When the lawyer sharks get their teeth into CDF, you may get on the same page as the rest of us feds ff with respect to more serious leadership training and common standards of operation we all should be agreeing on.

Regarding learning, you're preaching to the choir on that. Professional firefighters, we train and learn all the time. God, Mother, apple pie and training as my dear old dad used to say.

NorCal Tom

3/9 Chertoff on Bird Flu.

He expects it to come to the US via migratory birds within the next 3 months.


Click on the flight path video clip. In his brief talk he says the USDA knows how and will take care of it.


3/9 007, since you have only been in the business for six years, I would say you likely have a lot to learn and a great deal of experience to gain. Keep reading. We all recognize wild land firefighting is a very dangerous job and sadly, from time to time bad things do happen and there is not a decade that that is or will be immune.

I find it interesting that there are many of you on this forum that feel the need for confrontation on issues as simple as safety and accountability. If putting safety and accountability right up front is, as some of you have said, “old thinking” then I vote for “old thinking”. I have been retired for 3 years, but my career started in 1964 and ended in 2003. During that period, I saw and fought an uncountable number of fires, large and small. I was on a Type 1 Command Team in Operations for 9 years. The one thing I take pride in is that I NEVER stopped learning from start to finish. I believe when we “think” we know enough about out business we at that point cross the line from being a professional to being VERY dangerous to ourselves and the people we supervise and the people we serve.

3/9 For those considering adding to your rolling stock resources, or for those who still think the contractors have all the fun riding that alleged gravy train and want to try your hand at it, there is new classified ad with a tender, type 4, & type 6 engine for sale.  See the details here:  Downsizing Sale OA.
3/9 Reply to Student of Fire Science

Move to Idaho...that'll cure whatever ails ya. Maybe you picked up something
from those darn firefighters in Reno.

Get well soon.

This Ab's got it too, and I never get sick... Nonstop coughing, serious lung involvement. Doc this morning. I'm reassured it's not bird flu because I'm not dead yet, but that's about the only upside. Ab.

3/9 Grandma,

Thanks for the reply. I know all about the heli-mopping but every penny counts it just seems we are pinching them in all the wrong spots. As far as the folks I am talking about none of them have ever been in a primary fire job, so they were never out as a ground pounder. As for going to the FMO, he is in the same boat, X bio person turned FMO. So he takes care of his bio people first, sorta a bunch of good old boys.


3/9 5thyrrookie,

I have used both roughouts, and regular style on many boots. Time and time again I have liked the feel of the roughouts. Without getting too technical, I think it is that your feet are more apt to move against the smooth side rather than the rough. When there is resistance, I feel there is more opportunity for hot spots and blisters on the top of the toes and sides of the feet. I saw a post regarding holding water and I disagree. The permeability of the leather is the same regardless of which side faces out.

Better than the roughouts though; I feel are the mountaineering style boots many hotshots and jumpers have switched to. Do a search on theysaid and you will get some intel on that phenomenon (hopefully that doesn't complicate your decisions)! Specifically the Lasportiva Makalu. Word of caution- measure the pair in your size to make sure you are at or above the 8" minimum limit


3/9 DC,

I wasn't fighting fire in the 60's, 70's, 80's or 90's when no one apparently made a mistake on a Rx fire due to their superior ability and knowledge, however, I have spent a good portion of my career since 2000 studying the mistakes that killed more than a few of our fellow firefighters in the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. Nostalgia can be alot like a dog enjoying the taste of its own vomit.


3/9 Check out this website about outsourcing.

Forest Service Eyes Outsourcing Two-Thirds Of Workforce


3/8 Dear Student of Fire Science:

As you were writing your post, I was writing the attached letter and sending it to all members of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee along with my staff contacts in DC.

A similar letter will be going out to members of other key committees. As a result of the FWFSA establishing its credibility in Washington, congressional staff in DC are already communicating with their bosses (senators & representatives) to address this issue.

At the same time we will be working with certain offices in DC to look at ways to finally put the A-76/outsourcing issue for federal wildland firefighters to bed once and for all.

The "constituents" you speak of are all of you out there. You all have a voice and you all have the capability of changing the status quo and educating those on Capitol Hill that can effect change for you.

Educate your elected representatives in congress as to what is going on. Stay on top of them. For every one of us that contacts a congressional office, there are 20 others contacting the same office, primarily for the same thing: money or fixing a problem. It is our job to ensure that at the end of the day, staff and members of congress remember, above all else, federal wildland firefighters.

If you'd like assistance in identifying your elected officials or ways to communicate with them, please feel free to contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or (208) 775-4577.

Casey Judd
Business Manager


March 7, 2006

The Honorable Senator Pete V. Domenici
Chairman, Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee
364 Dirksen Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Domenici:

The Federal Wildland Fire Service Association is a national employee association whose members are federal wildland firefighters employed by all five land management agencies. Our members span the entire spectrum of fire positions from entry-level firefighter to forest fire chief and even includes a U.S. Attorney.

We are writing to you and other members of the committee to apprise you of our serious concerns with what we consider to be fiscal mismanagement by the Forest Service and misleading statements from it’s leadership as it relates to funds sought from, or appropriated by congress for fire suppression & preparedness budgets over the past several years, including the recent committee hearings on the FY ’07 Forest Service Budget.

As I indicated, the breadth of our membership provides our Association with ample data from those that actually perform fire suppression and those that command such incidents. Clearly the information we have provided to a variety of congressional offices over the years is information the land-management agencies and in fact OPM prefer that we not divulge to Congress.

Further, as a result of our information passing frequent credibility tests on Capitol Hill, we have been able to develop significant bipartisan relationships in an effort to educate members of congress as to what is actually happening on the fire lines. As a result, we are honored to have a bipartisan group in Congress supporting H.R. 408, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act. This legislation is revenue neutral and would require the land-management agencies to become more cost-effective and efficient in the manner in which they utilize appropriated funds for fire suppression & preparedness.

Just a year ago on March 2, 2005, Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth appeared before your committee regarding the Forest Service FY ’06 Budget Request. A member of the committee expressed concern for the reductions in the USFS fire preparedness budget to which Chief Bosworth replied: “ With the Forest Service FY ’06 preparedness budget, the agency is committed to maintaining firefighter readiness comparable to the FY 2005 level without sacrificing firefighter safety.”

Chief Bosworth was asked to identify the FY ’06 preparedness funding for each of the 10 regions. His answer totaled $561,333,000. Congress appropriated $ 676,000,000. Our obvious questions:

• Where did the other $114,667,000 end up & who approved it?
• How will this reduced firefighting capability affect firefighter/public safety?
• How will this affect resource & community protection?

More recently on February 28, 2006, Chief Bosworth again appeared before your committee to discuss the president’s budget proposals for the Forest Service. In typical eloquent bureaucratic rhetoric, the Chief proceeded to tout the accomplishments of the Forest Service.

In discussing Forest Service successes, his comments indicated that the “Forest Service controlled 99% of all unwanted and unplanned fires during initial attack.” While that may sound impressive, it has far more to do with Mother Nature and a mild fire season than Forest Service policy.

Most disturbing is that while touting the 99% figure and all of the successes, he failed to alert the committee that according to the National Wildland Fire Outlook Report for February through June 2006 prepared by the Predictive Services Group from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, as of February 3, 2006, 340,589 acres had already burned nationally, nearly 10 times the 10-year average for that date of approximately 49,000 acres!

On the day Chief Bosworth was providing testimony before your committee stating that the agency was committed to maintaining firefighter readiness without compromising firefighter safety and Mark Rey, Under Secretary of Agriculture was assuring the committee that “ the Forest Service & DOI will maintain sufficient readiness resources to suppress more than 98% of wildfires on initial attack”, Forest Service Fire & Aviation Director Tom Harbour was at the Forest Service’ Chief Officers conference in Reno Nevada confirming significant cuts throughout the Western United States. The preparedness resources Congress has appropriated funds for but which will not be funded by the Forest Service in FY ’06 in California alone are:

48 fire engines
7 Type 1 hand crews
1 Type 2 hand crew
12 water tenders
Misc. other resources (prevention, dispatch, dozers etc.)
A total of 515 firefighters

According to Region 5 officials at the conference, they indicate they will be "trying to find ways to juggle around funds to make sure there are no cuts of equipment…so far." The regional office indicates R5 will be at MEL (most efficient level) minus 20, in other words 80% MEL. As a result some forests are already reporting they will be down to 50% firefighting production capacity/capability on any given day.

We believe you and others on the committee would agree that given the FY’06 wild fire outlook, such cuts significantly increase the risk to the health & safety not only of our firefighters, but our Nation’s citizens.

Why the cuts? We believe the Forest Service has systematically misused appropriated funds from both the Preparedness and Suppression budgets to fund other non-fire programs that have nothing to do with the intent or purpose of the National Fire Plan.

As an example, you may recall that at the recent committee hearing, Chief Bosworth indicated the Forest Service had begun its Business Operations Transformation Program which, according to the Chief would, among other things, advance the efficiency of its “budget & finance” operations. He specifically referenced the Albuquerque Service Center which became operational in 2005. Sadly, he did not inform the committee that in order for the center to become operational, the Forest Service raked $100,000,000 off the top of the fire suppression budget leaving many engines understaffed and some unmanned.

Senator, we are not in the business of criticizing government agencies. Our goals & objectives are to improve the pay, benefits & working conditions for our Nation’s federal wildland firefighters. These “all risk” firefighters risk their lives throughout the year, not only responding to wildfires and a myriad of emergency incidents but to FEMA assignments where they work without being paid proper overtime.

As we seek continued support for HR 408 and work to educate the Senate so as to secure a companion bill, such education becomes increasingly difficult when the agencies who routinely respond to such legislative proposals as being “too expensive” are allowed to go unchecked and misuse appropriated funds intended for our firefighters in their efforts to protect our Nation’s natural resources and it’s citizens real & personal property.

We urge you and others from this committee to start asking some serious questions and refrain from simply accepting the year to year bureaucratic rhetoric provided by the agencies. Our firefighters and the taxpayers of this country deserve no less. We would be honored to assist these efforts in any way we can.

Respectfully submitted:

Casey Judd
Business Manager

3/8 5thyrrookie,

A template letter is not always the best, but is useful for some people. It is obvious that the person who wrote this letter was from California and addressing his(her) California delegation. In addition, he(she) addressed that this is also not just a California problem.

You should write a personal letter to your elected officials. A follow-up phone call would also be a plus.

As far as snail mail, it is still not preferred. All snail mail goes through irradiation prior to delivery to Congress. This irradiation process delays mail and sometimes makes the letters unreadable. Fax and e-mail are always acceptable ways to contact your elected officials.

Washington shock jock

I checked around and you're right. Thanks for tutoring us, shock jock. Ab.

3/8 viejo, COPTER 100, DC, and anyone else who thinks I’m rude or condescending,

This has all been very interesting, but I think we know where each of us stands now on the subject at hand. This will be my last post on this particular topic for the present. I’ll tell you straight up that I intended to be harsh with viejo and COPTER 100 because of the seriousness of the subject.

To backtrack, this is the statement from Viejo that triggered my original response:

“I don't want to start a witch hunt regarding the causes of the Hotlum escape, but I do believe that someone or a group of someone's should be held accountable. In California, as you know, it is common to cite the individual who lit the fire for criminal action and to hold them or their company liable for civil damages.”

And then Viejo said, “I don't like incompetence in any agency and will comment on it as the acts occur.”

That’s pretty strong stuff. These aren’t hypothetical people you’re talking about, the people associated with the Hotlum escape are real flesh and blood people who right now are going through one of the worst experiences that any firefighter can experience. Every nuance of every detail on that burn is being scrutinized by investigators and their peers. No matter what the outcome, this incident will haunt these folks for the rest of their careers.

I find it a little sad that a former firefighter would attack these people publicly before even knowing what the facts were. I expect hysteria from the public, but not from people who should know better.

So, which is more rude or unfair; someone who uses hypothetical questions and stinging humor to tweak an anonymous person’s ego on a website, or someone who accuses real human beings of incompetence and demands punishment without knowing what the facts are, especially at a time when those people really could use some support and empathy?

By the way, rumor has it that 60-80 mph winds (!) blew out the Hotlum burn. Do you still feel as smug about your call for punishment as you did before?

The beauty of this site is that it provides a forum for many different opinions. But if you, or anyone else, want to use this site in the future as a venue for attacking honorable firefighters, then you can anticipate another response from me.

Misery Whip

3/8 To Viejo, Misery Whip, COPTER100,

I think you are all getting a little emotional about the perceived insults to agencies and each other. You both have good points. Viejo, I agree that we all need to take responsibility for our actions. As leaders, we must accept that the mistakes of those who work for us are our responsibility. If I accept a fire, I must be willing to accept the consequences. But, Misery Whip is also right in his points.

To expect that everything will go right 100% of the time is delusional, which I think much of the public expects this. Look at the FEMA issue with Hurricane Katrina. The public seems to think that FEMA is a national fire department standing by to rush to the rescue. In my opinion, FEMA should change their name to the Federal Emergency Check Agency (FECA). (Somebody find a L for that acronym!) FEMA was never intended to act in that manner but the public expects it too anyway.

I also think that our some of our leaders worry more about public perception and their careers than doing the right thing and backing our ICs when things go wrong. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but the IC of the Cramer incident had requested a Type 2 team to take over the day before the fatalities. I assume it was because he thought it was getting beyond his ability to handle the fire. Where rules broken on Cramer? Yes. Is the IC responsible? Yes. As were many others who took part in that fire. I was not there, but I acted as an assistant instructor for several classes that members of the Indianola Fire Crew attended. I wish there was something I could have done to prevent that whole incident.

I understand that much of the discussion was about prescribed burns, but the issue about lack of support remains the same in my mind. I try to approach wildfires and prescribed burns with the same attitude.

You all keep on posting and defending your views. You are all a lot closer than you know. But I have to have a petty parting shot to all three of you..... I am calling you ALL DUDE,DUDE,DUDE!
Have a safe season,

3/8 Hello all,

I have a concern about the letter that was posted in order to contact our
congress persons. There is one flaw with this format. This letter seems to
only address the problems in Region 5. How would this help out the rest
of the agency to address the misappropriation of funds agency wide?

I ask this because I see how this letter could be very beneficial, but it
would be nice to have an idea about what to do for the rest of the agency.

Any Suggestions?



Thanks all to those who replied to my 3/7 post. I said/asked:

Well I am looking to buy a new pair of boots and I have a question
regarding the type I should get. I am thinking about getting a pair
of rough outs instead of regular boots. what are the forum's opinion
on this choice? Could I get some feed back??

Please keep the feedback coming. I am going to buy a pair this
weekend and would like as many opinions to go off of.

Good request. Lets get those letters coming in from all over the US. Ab.

3/8 DC (ret),

Congratulations on your retirement. Since your service would seem to expand
through four decades, can you give some facts instead of just your opinions?

3/8 Dear "I Gotta",

You make some good points. I remember many many years ago when I was a seasonal GS 5 engine operator, getting p.o'd because the GS 11's would come out of the office to help us do the fun stuff, then they would retreat when it was time to clean up. However, now that I'm higher up there (tho not an 11), I have to point out that many of us spent years as GS 3, 4, and 5's groundpounding and truly love firefighting. Many of us still want a chance to go out on fires, and we've put in our time busting our butts to get where we are. What's the harm? I personally haven't seen district folks being sent out first or "sucking up fire money" at their desks, and if that is happening, this would be something to bring up with the FMO. Whenever I am being paid by fire, I'm actually doing fire stuff, right there on the engine with everyone else. Also, sometimes "militia" get sent out because there is a requirement to keep a certain number of engines, etc on forest.

That being said, when it's time for me to put a crew together, I always try to get the seasonals first and the permies last. But what salary someone makes doesn't really concern me; it's their experience and attitude. It really is a drop in the bucket compared to heli-mopping, stuff that gets wasted at camps, etc.

If the FS REALLY wanted to save money, they might look at how much it is costing to do "baseline" physicals for all arduous WCT takers. Blood work, vision, (EKGs for everyone over 40) is not cheap!! Or is that only my region that is doing this?


3/8 Pitch Pocket,

Not all of my emails have been making it through, but then I was warned by someone who told me they might be censored and I think it may have been true, but thank you for that bit of information regarding Redmond. In the research I have been doing I have learned that you are highlighting a very good bit of historical information. Thanks! I need all the help I can get. If this doesn't make it through They Said, I will email the group of people who have been giving me good information and advice individually.

Fire Ape

HAW HAW, ya right, great innuendo. We have posted everything that has come into our mailbox from you. Sometimes our spam filter sorts out a variety of monikers/contents, especially if I am out of town and working from my laptop. It often seems to be more attuned to possible crap as well as sometimes filtering non-crap that comes in... Hey, feel free to email all your friends as an alternative. In many cases when people plan to do something, it's good to plan and execute behind the scenes. I'd also be happy to copy and paste your messages and send them to those who have shown an interest. Let me know. Ab.

3/8 Everyone,

Here's an example of a fire budget letter a friend sent to his congressmen and women. Feel free to modify and use it. Send it to both your Senators and to your House of Representatives person. You might also want to send a copy to Jerry Lewis, head of the Appropriations Committee. I heard firefighters saved his home during the 2003 firestorm in Southern California. He has some control over the purse strings. Get friends and family to send it. We need to do this.

Hardcopy with a stamp is best. There's something impressive about the stack of letters getting bigger and bigger. Here's where you can look them up: on the Contact your congressman. I'm having a "write your congressman" party Friday night... fun way to get it done.


Honorable Congressman/woman (Name)
(Address) Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman/woman (Name),

I am writing you today to express my concerns over how the Forest Service is implementing it's FY 2006 Fire Preparedness Budget. With the current direction, public and firefighter safety will be at risk this fire season.

The FY 2006 fire preparedness budget is $676 million, a slight decrease of only $500,000 from the previous year. The Forest Service has been misusing this allocation to fund other non-fire programs that have nothing to do with the intent or the purpose of the National Fire Plan.

Congress approved the $676 million for fire preparedness. Because the Forest Service has been misusing these funds, significant cuts are possible throughout the Western United States. These are the preparedness resources that are "unfunded" for this fiscal year in California:

1) 48 Fire Engines
2) 7 Type 1 Hand Crews
3) 1 Type 2 Hand Crew
4) 12 Water Tenders
5) Misc. Other Resources (Prevention, Dispatch, Dozers, etc.)
6) A total of 515 firefighters.

Regarding the FY 2006 budget, Under Secretary Mark Rey said, "The Forest Service and DOI will maintain sufficient readiness resources to suppress more than 98% of wildfires on initial attack. This represents the same approximate level of readiness that has occurred over the past several years."  I am sure you will agree that Mr. Rey mislead Congress by this statement. A loss of 515 firefighters is not "the same approximate level of readiness".

I am requesting that you take a look into this problem and provide congressional oversight over the Forest Service. This problem is occurring throughout the United States. Preparedness funding and its improper use to fund other programs within the Forest Service is a hazard to the safety of our firefighters, the public, and our communities.

Thank you, as always, for your time on this critical subject. Quick action by your office and Congress can correct this problem before fire season arrives. I can be reached at (xxx) xxx-xxxx or by e-mail at xxx@xxxx.xxx

Sincerely yours,

(Your name)
(Your address)

3/8 A few ideas on how the forest service can save some money.

First off i am just about to end a 21 day detail in R-3. The plane tickets we bought we $1,200 one way. I know that are tickets need to be 100% refundable but come on. If we know we are going let us buy them from travelocity or something. The forest service may loose some tickets here and there but in the long run I think it would save lots of money.

Second is too much overhead. On a forest I used to work on we had way to much overhead.

here is the breakdown for the zone and I say again the ZONE not forest:
Zone FMO GS 11
2 Zone AFMO's one on each district GS 9
1 AFMO Prevention GS-9
1 Afmo Fuels GS-9

the "zone" gets about 25 fires a year in there spring season most of witch are but out by the VFDs Do we really need that much overhead for such a small fire load?

Also on this forest they use district folks to what they call "Staffing" on days when there is a high BI. I Guess they know when there will be fires and when there will not. When we had plenty of fire folks to do it ( one type 6 one type 4 and a dozer all fully staffed) Most district folks are Gs 7's and up sucking down fire money while still doing there BA's and CE's at there desk when they should have been washing engines, doing fuels work etc....

An other thing I have seen happen is fire folks be passed up on going off forest on fires so the district GS fantastic can go out. These folks make on base what I make on overtime. I have also heard abut a GS-13 district ranger going out as a radio operator. something an AD-2 can do.

The forest service also need to look at how many fire jobs were created to move people from an other job. One I know of was a district ranger having a Forest fire staff officer job created for him because he got in some trouble or was doing a poor job as ranger. So how much fire $$ is being spent there?

I gotta get out of this place.
3/8 Pitch Pocket

Just to keep the facts straight. The Redmond Smokejumper Unit hired back
all the Smokejumpers that jumped last year with the exception of one rookie
that was a permanent FS employee on detail to our program from another
Forest. His home unit supervisor contacted our program and requested his
return, we honored his supervisor’s request. We had absolutely no
obligation to hire any new employees this year. Yes, we did hire several
new candidates and they were all very well qualified. As I pointed out in
my March 3rd posting, our program remains dedicated to our agency’s hiring
and employment policies that foster workforce diversity that is reflective
of society as a whole. We value diversity and we recognize the need to
increase diversity in our workforce. I encourage you to contact me directly
through email or by phone if you have any other questions. Much

Bill Selby
Redmond Smokejumper Program Manager
(541) 504-7280
Email: wselby@fs.fed.us
3/8 Misery Whip.. I was disappointed by your response to the discussion on prescribed fire. You changed the facts and the basic assumptions after the fact and that seemed, at best a juvenile attempt to win an argument or make a point.

While your Agency might absolve you of liability if you used the Swiss Cheese argument in an escaped fire scenario, I don't think that will hold up in Civil Court. Nor do I think it would hold up well in a town meeting of homeowners who had been burned out by a prescribed fire escape. I hope you have your personal liability insurance policy paid up.

I was trying to present to the students and not so experienced members of this forum that the New Age thinking of absolution of liability via Swiss cheese models and no personal liability is not accepted by everyone in the wildland fire community and probably will not be accepted by the courts, either.

If the fact that I accept responsibility for my own and my subordinates actions makes me a fool or a dinosaur then I am proud to be one.

3/8 I have been a long time reader of your page and never “chimed in”, but I can not let this one go. I’m a retired wild land fire fighter who has conducted an uncountable number of burns myself. It occurs to me that in the “good old days”, 60s, 70, 80, and 90s the number of disastrous escapes was far fewer than in recent years. I’m not the least bit surprised if attitudes like those of Misery Whip are pervasive in the forest agencies of today. His arrogance and dismissive attitude is the type of behavior that leads people to make mistakes and not accept responsibility or consequences.

I think, perhaps, one of the leading causes of this increase of escapes just might be the enormous experience gap that exists because people like Viejo and many more of his caliber have retired. It is also our own fault for not properly mentoring those who would follow to insure as much of that “now gone” experience was passed on.

I will agree with Misery Whip on one point; that to err is human. We just erred less often in “our days of old thinking” because we never put fire on the ground without covering ALL of the bases and we probably had a better understanding of wildland fire behavior. This understanding was based on training and a great deal of experience. Misery Whip’s attitude is inexcusable and if that is the standard attitude of today’s forest agencies them we are all in deep trouble.

DC (ret)
3/8 undecided on lone peak ihc,

I personally I have worked with this crew on many fires last year. I believe Joel is the sup or at least was last year. They came across as a great crew. Always willing to help our shot crew with any possible help. My sup had a lot of good to say about them as did our crew. One thing, they are NOT lazy. I would go for it.


3/8 Undecided,

This is the only link I know of for the Lone Peak IHC. All it gives is their
contact info and job info, not much on history. I'm sure if you give them a
call they will gladly talk about the history of the crew.


Laguna Jim.....
3/8 Your response to "Viejo" was pretty...albeit...petty. I find your attitude condescending at best. All of us in this forum have, over time, agreed to disagree. Please don't insult the rest of us here with a cute little afterthought claiming that you purposely left out some information such as Red Flag Warnings. Your abrupt dismissal of someone else's opinion coupled with a cute little reference to a "sword of death" was rude by any standard. Nobody here is perfect and folks like you demean the efforts of others to have a meaningful correspondence.
Oh...and by the way...please don't call me "dude"...
3/8 Misery Whip,
I had to get out the maps to try to find out if there is a Buttafuoco.
I know you say it's a made-up hypothetical place, but the name
is kind of familiar...
Mellie <little snicker>
3/8 viejo,

I agree that this forum is for exchanging ideas. Isn’t that what we are doing? I really don’t give a hoot who you are or what agency you worked for or how many prescribed burns you managed before you retired. I have also managed complex burns; the difference between us is that I still have to work in an environment that has changed radically in the past few years.

The point I've been trying to make is that your view of the world is considered archaic by most credible behavioral scientists today, yet you still feel that your opinion should prevail. You seem to think that all theories are equal, in the way that some people feel “Intelligent Design” deserves equal time with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

I don’t know what “theory” you are using (carrot and stick?), but James Reason’s work is highly acclaimed by scientists and corporations around the world. Error management is far more than the “Swiss Cheese Model” you so casually dismiss. It recognizes that when human beings are engaged in complex endeavors, errors in judgment WILL occur regardless of good intentions, training, and systems put in place to detect errors. Only fools and dinosaurs believe that perfection is possible in such circumstances.

Error management can only succeed in a climate where people can feel safe self-reporting errors in judgment. People won’t self-report errors in judgment when the Viejo Sword of Death is poised to strike those who unintentionally err. The best way to minimize errors is through a healthy culture, not fear.

It was revealing to hear you say, “I was pushed my bosses to produce black acres and I was extremely lucky never to suffer that disastrous escape.” You mean it wasn’t your consummate skill and perfection that kept you out of trouble?

Now for the pop quiz. Unfortunately, your answer to hypothetical question 1 is wrong. You made some wrong ASSUMPTIONS before you had all the facts. What I didn’t tell you in the scenario was that there was a Red Flag Warning issued for high winds hour before they started lighting. Because of budgets cuts and destructive policies forced on the land management agencies by the Bush administration, the only dispatcher on duty that day was working her ass off all day long dispatching three new fires, the poor thing didn’t even have time for a pee break, and consequently didn’t see the Red Flag Warning until the end of the day. So the correct answer is Dubya.

It was nice to hear you admit that there are actually circumstances where a reasonable and prudent burn boss might have a legitimate defense if their burn went awry. That is a little different than your previous “hang the SOB & we’ll figure out the facts later” attitude in my book.

As for hypothetical question 2, you blew that one also. The correct answer is that it was the prostitutes at the Buttafuoco Bordello who were at fault, their sinful ways brought down the wrath of an angry vengeful God who used the prescribed burn as a pretext to burn them out. But it was only temporary, the bordello’s insurance policy paid off so they were able to build an even bigger and better cathouse. Happy ending for the good citizens of Buttafuoco. (Just kidding, this one was a bone for the Intelligent Design enthusiasts).

I find it interesting that you didn’t think the fact that two contract crews working the area where the burn blew out had falsified training records was significant. As you put it, “Neither the public nor the reviewing officer want to hear about sub standard crews or budget cuts.” Huh? I can tell you that if I was the FMO on the Bunghole district, or the IC in charge of personnel mopping and patrolling the burn, and I knew that people I was relying on to do a professional job were, in fact, NOT PROPERLY TRAINED AND PERPETRATING A FRAUD ON THE GOVERNMENT, I WOULD DAMN WELL WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT. Only then could I adjust my operation accordingly.

I’ll let you in on a little secret; most people who work in the wildland fire business today would consider this significant.

Maybe you should take Lobotomy’s advice and read the article on incompetence. But then, incompetent people often lack the skills to recognize incompetence in themselves or others, so it might be a waste of time.


Sorry, dude, I just can’t figure out what points you are trying to make, other than you agree with viejo. I’m not sure what other agency you were referencing; the USFS was the only agency in my scenario. You don’t seem to have a good grasp of this subject, maybe you should take Lobotomy’s advice too.

vfd cap’n,

Nice one, LOL. I can see you now, bravely defending the Buttafuoco Bordello and accepting lap-dances and other gratuities from the grateful ho’s. Where do I sign up?


Sorry, the opening on the Bunghole closed last week.

Misery Whip
3/8 Blame Game

I guess we would do everything right if we did it our way.

To add a response to viejos' how the people "expect professionals", he should go back to basic 190. Three factors that influence fire behavior are fuel, weather, and topography. With WEATHER BEING THE LEAST CONSTANT.

On all the prescribed burns i've been to, we have had the normal forecasts, spot forecasts, and anything else that was relevant toward weather. After having all that information, we still delegated people to take weather. If it is that important for a burnboss to have people taking weather at hourly increments to see if the weather stays the same, then I think it's possible an unexpected wind event could happen. Also, look how often forecasts are actually right; half of the time they are not.

I think they should change the title incident commander to infallible commander due to the fact that if they even look at someone crosseyed they're criticized.


3/8 Hello, I was wondering if anyone out there has any information
on the Lone Peak Hotshots out of Utah. I have searched the
internet and have found nothing as far as history on the crew, etc.
I am trying to decide if they will be the right crew for me to work
on this year. So I am interested in researching them a little. Any
help would be great.


If you look on our Links page under jobs, there's a link to hotshot crew info nationwide and contacts. It does not appear that they have a web page. Anyone have more information? Ab.

3/8 I must say that I am unhappy to hear about proposed FS cutbacks, but i am
happy to hear that the ranks of the contractors are being thinned out. I
can't recall how many times I have seen contract engines covering FS
stations when there are plenty of FS engines AVAILABLE do that same job.
Hopefully the contract gravy train is coming to an end..... but I doubt it.

3/8 Concerned Contractor;

Been contracting for several years now and there never seemed to be a
problem of under staffing on the fires. The problem was there are too many
contractors wanting to fight fires, so a lot would get called out from a
few days a season to none at all! This is a problem that is hard to deal
with. The USFS is trying to come up with a way to limit the amount of
Tenders and Type 6 Engines in Region 6. That way we all can get more
work and the ones that do work will be high quality contract crews. I for
one do not want to be on the cutting room floor, so I will do my best to
provide the best service and equipment I can.

This is a problem because a lot of people think you can make a killing fighting fires.
They come into the program and get a big surprise: they don’t work most of
the year. They make a big investment in equipment and the bills come rolling in
to be paid and they sit at home wondering why they are not on the fires.

Problem is, they only need so many so many crews and pieces of equipment
to do the job. The other problem is there is only so many fires during a
season to be put out. It is a risk to go into this line of work. The ones
who can stick it out and have their equipment paid for have a better
chance of success doing it.

If I was to buy 8 Tenders and expected them to be put to work all year,
 it would be a joke. Try to keep 8 qualified drivers all insured, 8 Tenders
all insured and maintained and then not roll for 6 months! Big time cash
flow problem and a disappointing end to a business adventure. So the
trick is to stay small so you can afford to not work all the time and
hope for the best. You are not going to get rich doing this line of
work and as long as there are still people out there thinking you will,
there will be too many contractors competing for the same work.

R6 Tender

3/8 In regards to the question regarding rough out boots

We must remember that the leather used for rough outs and smooth out boots are the same. How one would hold more water than the other is a mystery to me. I must admit I am a little biased towards the rough outs though, they are the most comfortable boots I have used and I no longer wear my smooth boots. I regularly sleep in my rough outs, they are that comfy.

3/8 Diversity hiring at Redmond

Catching up on my reading; I was interested in the discussion on Diversity Hiring at the Redmond Smokejumper Program. If I understand it correctly; trained seasonals, most likely from last year’s rookie class, did not get hired back at Redmond to make room for rookie diversity candidates to be trained this year.

If my memory serves me, it was just about twenty years ago that this same tactic was used at Redmond. The trained jumpers that got passed over eventually were reinstated after grieving their case. Bill might want to research the diversity programs at other bases to find out how they have avoided this unfortunate situation.

Pitch Pocket

3/7 I dont know if anyone has gauged the fact of cutbacks in the forest service,
combined with the loss and cutbacks of many contract companies. Several
large contractors are cutting their crews by 50%, and many have just down right
gone out of business. If this is a bad year, there may not be enough contractors
left to fill the ever increasing void either. This may be one he** of a season folks,
keep safe.

Please sign me,
concerned contractor.
3/7 Frank Z,

I don't usually do this since I am only a student, but since you want to assign blame to one person, I must. Here is some of the basics from Government 101.

The President "proposes" a budget for all of the Executive Branch Agencies.

Congressional hearings are held on the proposed budget.

Political appointees such as Mark Rey, Dale Bosworth, and Lynn Scarlett attend and support the Presidents proposed budget as the "talking heads" during Congressional testimony. They are supposed to give factual and relevant testimony. They almost always say, "Everything is fine and dandy.... we'll make due by our efficiency and our reorganization efforts."

The Congress authorizes, appropriates, and allocates the budget after they determine it meets the needs of the public and the mission of the Agency. The only way they know whether or not the dollars are hitting the ground is through their constituents. After the year 2000 fires, the constituents got fired up.

I don't know about BLM, but the last non-politically appointed Chief of the Forest Service was Jack Ward Thomas. I understand JWT was always ready to butt heads when head butting was needed. I also understand he worked quite a bit behind the scenes to get the National Fire Plan going. I wonder how he would feel about the National Fire Plan being dismantled piece by piece?

Student of Fire Science
3/7 Copter100 and viejo,

Since you both don't work for the Forest Service, why do you want
to counter the claims and observations of the people that do?

Rogue Rivers
3/7 The program for the 9th Wildland Fire Safety Summit has been developed and is attached. In keeping with the long tradition of the Safety Summits, it will be another stellar line up of well-respected speakers. The program will include presentations on:

-New Wildland Fire Technologies
-Fire Weather
-Aviation Safety
-Human Performance
-Fire Safety Case Studies

and special presentations by:

-CDF Chief John Hawkins:
"An IC's Perspective on the Cedar Fire"

-USFS Safety Chief Ed Hollenshead:
"Doctrinal Change"

-Dr. Jennifer Thackaberry-Ziegler:
"Ethical Dilemmas in Wildland Fire Safety"

Reduced registration rates are available through March 14.

The conference will be in Pasadena, California, April 25-27, 2006, with an optional Staff Ride (or field trip) on April 28. The Staff Ride will be an opportunity to learn from and explore the circumstances surrounding the nearby Loop Fire of 1966, which was a disaster for the El Cariso Hot Shots.

More information can be found on the IAWF web site at:

Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire

Sounds like a good one. Ab.

3/7 I have found that irrigation and goats work better for Star Thistle eradication than burning. viejo
3/7 Still Out There as an AD,

That is an excellent set of questions. The first thing that needs to be done is to re-open the Health Hazards of Smoke Study and PROPERLY fund it. When it is properly funded and staffed with a diverse group of researchers and firefighters, the study will be able to get to the root causes of firefighter illness. When the hazards are identified, mitigations such as improved PPE, improved procedures, and a stronger risk analysis tool can be developed. It is a pretty simple risk management concept..... front load your research so that you know what the current and potential hazards are before trying to mitigate the risk. Simply put, you can't mitigate hazards if you don't know they exist.

I kinda set up the MTDC folks... I apologize for that. Mycotoxins are a relatively new study focus and they are just now being studied in other aspects of land management. They were not even on the radar screen as a hazard until around the year 2000.

We need two areas of emphasis: 1) Renewed primary research into the health hazards of smoke, and 2) A group to perform secondary research and try to compile all of the previous primary research into a common understandable theme.

S.R. Sparky,

Contact Ab for my e-mail or come by firechat some night. I wasn't at Yellowstone but I am always happy to talk about hazards.

Frank Z,

I have a whole compilation of how federal employees got firefighter retirement. I also have the stuff where the Forest Service was opposing firefighter retirement. It had nothing to do with smoke, but nice try. Federal firefighter retirement programs go way back to a person named J. Edgar Hoover and a few disgruntled federal cops.... you can start researching it from there. If you make it to the part where Richard Nixon vetoed the bill for firefighter special retirement provisions, I'd be happy to tell you the rest of the story. It came out well...

3/7 I endured the agony of rough-outs for one long 900o.t.+ season and will
never do it again. I found the boots absorbed and held water like a
sponge. I couldn't get them dried out. Never had this problem with
regular boots (except for the knee deep tundra in Canada and AK).

3/7 Frank Z -

Which 5 BLM ships got cut, and what exactly do you
mean by "cut"? I had heard rumors of this, but no
details. If you could fill me in on the nitty-gritty
that would be great.

Young and Dumb in Region One
3/7 Wildland Services, Inc. is having a "going out of business" sale.  See the details on the Classified Page under Heavy Equipment, though there is a lot more than engines being offered.  OA
3/7 Your "hypothetical" scenario to Viejo was a fairly straightforward project to be tackled. Viejo accomplished that project quite nicely I must say. As for the 2nd "hypothetical" ...I find it pretty darn silly that the incident is turned over to an "agency" that accepts it as is and then you ask who is to "blame" for the incident that follows the escape.
In all aspects of Fire Control, when you assume command (as is the stated fact in your hypothesis) you also accept the responsibility of being in control of the incident/situation.
If, after four days, S___ happens as you write, where does it relieve the current Incident Commander and suddenly revert to another person? This scenario as depicted by you, only suggests that the incident was turned over to an incompetent agency for the purpose of mop up & patrol. If the responsible agency let the fire escape, then it must be said that they, in fact, were irresponsible.
You seem to be trying to plunge a knife into a cadaver here Misery Whip...or shooting the horse after it has died.
The fire was turned over to another agency for a stated purpose yet you also ask who is to blame...?
If you have to ask such a question...I respectfully suggest that you have missed the intention of your own tome. The incoming Incident Commander accepted the incident as is...warts, feathers and all.
We all should be aware that with command comes responsibility.
I'll stop chasing this rabbit down the hole now but I respectfully suggest that "Viejo" is correct in his/her admonitions regarding actions without responsibility.
3/7 Thistle burning

Someone wanted more info on burning star thistle. This is from my
experience. Burning to control most thistle plants needs to take place
after the heads have formed on the plants, but before they've gone to seed.
In my area, this can be anytime early to late june depending on weather.
Usually this time of year, the thistle itself will not burn, but the heat
generated will kill it. For this reason a head fire is best, backing fires
don't usually put out enough heat to do the job. It can take anywhere from
3-7 years of burning, every year, before the seed bed has been gotten rid
of, so if you miss a year, you could be starting over again. For firing,
the mixture in the torch is not that important, however 3:1 is good.
Fuzee's will also work fine.

Another method not involving fire is irrigation. Or just manually pulling
up the plants every year before they go to seed.

Anyone else have any ideas and/or experience doing this????


I prefer roughouts personally, seems like they seal easier and keep sealed better to me.
3 parts diesel 1 part gas to drip torch fuel. (unless you want to experiment lol)
star thistle , pull it when its green, not flowered yet. Takes several rounds before it makes a difference but it seemed to work.


3/7 Misery Whip... I think the purpose of this board is to exchange ideas. Hopefully this will be an open exchange, not restricted to one Agency or Region.

With that in mind, I will tell you I am retired from a State Fire Agency; I have conducted several high intensity, high risk prescribed burns in different fuel types during several different fire seasons. If it is really important to you, contact the Abs for my personal address and I will give you a full curriculum vitae.

I speak out because it is important for the up and coming people in our profession to hear a different view. Since I have been on both sides of the fence, as a brush burner and as private citizen, I see the problem in a different perspective than one who is still working under the pressures that can develop to meet Agency goals and objectives.

Before we address the hypotheticals, let me say that because we, the fire professionals, are the 'experts" we should, and the public has the right to expect us to work to a higher standard. When burning under permit here in California the public is held to the standards of "what would a reasonable and prudent man do in this circumstance? " and "did he use due diligence in the pursuit of his endeavors ?" The professional must exceed those standards.

Now to your hypothetical... in case one, the fire was blown out of control by an unpredicted wind. The first question unpredicted by whom? For a citizen, the TV weather should be an adequate defense, but for our professional, not so.

Did he have spot forecasts? Did he have a forecast and an outlook? Did he have a portable RAWS and monitor the weather for a week or so in advance? What was the weather history for that locale at that season of the year?
What was his contingency planning? Were adequate backup and reserve forces available? If your burn boss had met all of those criteria I would say he has a reasonable defense.

In the second scenario, the burn has been returned to the local Forest for patrol and mopup , a rekindle occurs and subsequently the fire escapes. This is more clear... the local forest and FMO have assumed responsibility for the burn. Neither the public nor the reviewing officer want to hear about sub standard crews or budget cuts. Using the standards of due diligence and reason, a citizen might not be held liable for an escape after one week, but a wildland professional should expect a fire to smolder and rekindle after that length of time.

In either case, and in all cases when using prescribed fire, the question must be posed is the risk worth the reward? Can your agency or you personally stand the heat that will be generated if your burn results in a catastrophic escape? Have all of the less risky alternatives to burning been explored? Cost is probably not an effective deterrent, wildfires are terribly expensive, and the loss of public trust too expensive to measure.

I think back on some of the of the burns that I conducted and can honestly say the risk was not worth the reward. I was pushed my bosses to produce black acres and I was extremely lucky never to suffer that disastrous escape. I hope this forum and others like it will prevent up and coming burn bosses from that fate.

3/7 the problem of smoke inhalation has been identified and is reflected in the fact
that the minimum retirement age for firefighters is 50 as opposed to 62 or so
for other Fed workers, if you don't like the rigors, hazards adn risks , get a job
at Home Depot

Budget Cuts....yea it is a problem...BLM cut 5 Helicopters this year..... wanna
know where your firefighting money is going??????? it is spelled Iraq and
Afganistan, don't like it...shudda voted him out.......

Frank Z
3/7 Hi,

I'm looking for a summer course that will train for the certificate needed for wild fire fighting.

I am 20 years old, a US citizen and am a second year college student studying in the UK. I expect to
be back in the US in early June.

So far the only thing I have found is an eight day course that costs almost $2000 in Montana. Is there
a list of wildfire academies with charges/schedules.

Thank you very much for any assistance.

3/7 Soooo, we ARE going to have the double whammy of the unfillable jobs and the unfunded jobs in R5?

In the late 80's I was on a BD crew in R6. We primarily were doing slash burns in old growth logging shows. The University of Washington sent a research team out to walk with us carrying air filter/moniter backpacks to see just what we inhaled and at what levels. We never heard anything official but one of the students later told us it was amazing how far over any and all safety levels we were for inhalents in the workplace. I always wondered if the reason nothing official was ever said or announced was because they were afraid they would have to pay us more, I.E. hazard on RX. We sucked way more smoke on RX than we ever did on wildfire. On the other hand, how else are we supposed to do our jobs?


3/7 Misery Whip,

I certainly don't want to make this an "us vs. them" discussion, and I am not
trying to assign blame. But....

As for hypothetical prescribed fire #2 in your last post: We need to stop this
needless loss of important cultural resources, such as the house of ill-repute
you mentioned. What a waste!!!

Agency people need to write the local VFD's into the burn plans. I could have
had a structure protection crew at this business from the start of the incident
until final containment (or until law enforcement chased us off.)

And unlike the type 6 engine crews, structural firefighters are trained and
equipped for interior operations.

vfd cap'n
3/7 Ab, this came out while we were in Reno. Seems we're not the only ones
concerned about firefighter cuts. Here are a few more people to contact...

Our representatives are looking for good information from professional
wildland firefighters.

Todd from NorCal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bingaman Raises Concerns About Proposed Cuts to Forest Services Preparedness Program

Jude McCartin
Maria Najera
703 Hart Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-5521

WASHINGTON – At a Capitol Hill hearing today, U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today said he was very concerned about the White House's proposal to cut $10 million Forest Service's Fire Preparedness program.

"Parts of the West are experiencing some of the driest conditions on record. In the Southwest, we are struggling to prepare for what looks to be a catastrophic fire season with a Fire Preparedness program that was cut by more than 20%—and that was on top of cuts from the year before. This budget proposes yet another cut of $10 million to the national Preparedness program, dramatic cuts in State Fire Assistance, and virtual elimination of the Fire Rehabilitation program," Bingaman said.

"The lack of funding for hazardous fuels reduction projects also is a concern. We have tens-of-thousands of acres of projects in the Southwest alone that are ready for immediate implementation but for a lack of funds. The local staff of the Forest Service has worked very hard with our communities to put these projects together. They have done their part. This budget does not do its part to get those projects off of the shelf and on to the ground," he added.

Bingaman made his remarks at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the fiscal year 2007 Forest Service budget. He is the top Democrat on the committee.

Bingaman is committed to working in a bipartisan way to ensure there is enough funding in this drought year for firefighting and post-fire restoration.

3/7 TC,

About the star thistle, you got any eradication info, even just word-of-mouth wisdom on what to do and when for best results? I heard (well, someone held up fingers during one of the talks in Reno) that the fuel ratio for drip torches is 3:1, I assume that's  fuel oil to gas?


3/7 Ab,

I got a kick out of Misery Whip’s hypothetical situations. I have heard
that there is an opening on the Bunghole NF.

Any info on said opening?


Checked the jobs page? Ab.

3/7 Check the bird flu watchout page. Couple of people are suggesting we watch where we have our money invested when the birdflu goes pandemic. Looks like more and more scientists are thinking that will happen. Ab.
3/7 Well I am looking to buy a new pair of boots and I have a question
regarding the type I should get. I am thinking about getting a pair
of rough outs instead of regular boots. what are the forum's opinion
on this choice? Could I get some feed back??

3/7 While the discussion on the health hazards of wildland smoke is interesting,
I'm not sure what we're supposed to "do" with the information. Stand back
and let wildfires rip? All go into a different line of work? It seems like
most efforts to come up with breathing protection runs into serious problems
with weight and/or limitation of aerobic capacity. I'm not saying we should
bury our heads in the sand. But I'm always wary of situations when people
try to convince me that there is a danger without trying to tell me what
practical outcome we should be seeking.

Still Out There as an AD
3/7 viejo,

Sorry, friend, I just can’t let this one go.

I have to ask what combination of qualifications and experience makes you wise enough to pass judgment on others without knowing what all the facts are. It must be wonderful to be so self-assured that you don’t see any irony in appointing yourself the High Sheriff of Incompetence.

Since I only know you through your posts, I don’t have as much confidence in your incompetence-detecting abilities as you seem to have. If you don’t mind, I’d like to test your sage-like reasoning powers with a couple of hypothetical questions.

Hypothetical question 1: You are the burn boss on an 850 acre prescribed burn in mixed conifer within 1 mile of a subdivision. The burn plan is text book, everything is in prescription, the forecast looks great, you have all the resources and contingency resources you need based on the predicted conditions. Predicted winds for the day are 5-10 mph. It is a beautiful day, the FMO agrees conditions are perfect, and you begin lighting. Six hours later, you are finished, lots of fire on the ground, everything is going according to plan, and lookouts and RAWS start indicating an unforecasted 30 mph wind within 100 miles of your area. You immediately cut off firing and get every available resource working to prepare for a possible wind event. In spite of all efforts, including ordering all of the extra resources you can lay your hands on, the 30 mph wind hits your burn one hour later. Your burn crowns, resists all suppression efforts and blows out. The wind continues to blow a steady 30-40 mph for 4 hours and then dies. By the time it quits blowing, 45 homes and 11,000 acres have burned.

Whose fault is it?

Hypothetical question 2: You are the burn boss on a 4,000 acre ponderosa & sagebrush prescribed burn on the Bunghole District of the Dooh-Dah National Forest near the small high desert town of Buttafuoco. Every thing goes great, you pull off the burn without a hitch, the burn is turned over to the Bunghole District for mopup and patrol. Four days later, when you are back home taking online Security Literacy training in your office on the Cornholio National Forest, the Bunghole FMO calls and tells you that your formerly largely dead burn escaped and burned several structures in Buttafuoco, including one of the local major businesses; a house of ill repute. It turns out later that the Bunghole FMO was forced by budget cuts and a lack of well-trained agency personnel to use contract crews to mop up and patrol the burn until it was out. It also turns out that several members of two contract crews who were assigned to the area where the burn blew out were illegal aliens without work visas and had fraudulently been certified as having all the required training to meet contract specifications.

Whose fault is it?

Misery Whip
3/7 Ab here's something more of interest from the National Fire Plan

From the National Fire Plan Site: www.fireplan.gov

"...the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior are working to successfully implement the key points outlined in the National Fire Plan by taking the following steps:

  1. Assuring that necessary firefighting resources and personnel are available to respond to wildland fires that threaten lives and property
  2. Conducting emergency stabilization and rehabilitation activities on landscapes and communities affected by wildland fire
  3. Reducing hazardous fuels (dry brush and trees that have accumulated and increase the likelihood of unusually large fires) in the country's forests and rangelands
  4. Providing assistance to communities that have been or may be threatened by wildland fire
  5. Committing to the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, an interagency team created to set and maintain high standards for wildland fire management on public lands."
In detail:

Item #1. "ASSURING THAT NECESSARY FIREFIGHTING RESOURCES AND PERSONNEL ARE AVAILABLE TO RESPOND TO WILDLAND FIRES THAT THREATEN LIVES AND PROPERTY: An ongoing priority of the National Fire Plan is ensuring that the agencies of the Departments of Agriculture and Interior maintain a world-class firefighting organization. The Departments will continue to provide all necessary resources to ensure that the fire suppression workforce is at the highest efficiency possible in order to protect life and property in as safe a manner as possible. During the life of the National Fire Plan, major efforts to address the shrinking firefighting workforce have been undertaken, including hiring of additional permanent and seasonal firefighters and permanent fire management staff.

Enhanced training and leadership development opportunities for firefighters and fire managers continue to be delivered through the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program, the Fire Use Training Academy, and the Prescribed Fire Training Academy. Through these academies, more than 500 people have been trained yearly since the inception of the National Fire Plan."


Item #2. "CONDUCTING EMERGENCY STABILIZATION AND REHABILITATION ACTIVITIES ON LANDSCAPES AND COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY WILDLAND FIRE: In the aftermath of catastrophic wildland fires, emergency stabilization and post-fire rehabilitation work improves lands that are unlikely to recover naturally from the effects of wildfires. Emergency stabilization treatments are essential to protecting lives and properties downstream of burned areas. This work, often implemented over the course of several years following a wildfire, includes reforestation, road and trail rehabilitation, fence replacement, fish and wildlife habitat restoration, invasive plant treatments, and replanting and reseeding with native or other desirable vegetation."

My opinion on that: BUDGET CUT BIG TIME IN 2007

Item #3. "REDUCING HAZARDOUS FUELS (DRY BRUSH AND TREES THAT HAVE ACCUMULATED AND INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF UNUSUALLY LARGE FIRES) IN THE COUNTRY'S FORESTS AND RANGELANDS: In response to the risks posed by heavy fuels loads -- the result of decades of fire suppression activities, sustained drought, and increasing insect, disease, and invasive plant infestations -- the National Fire Plan established an intensive, long-term hazardous fuels reduction program. Hazardous fuels reduction treatments are designed to reduce the risks of catastrophic wildland fire to people, communities, and natural resources while restoring forest and rangeland ecosystems to closely match their historical structure, function, diversity, and dynamics. Such treatments accomplish these goals by removing or modifying wildland fuels to reduce the potential for severe wildland fire behavior, lessen the post-fire damage, and limit the spread or proliferation of invasive species and diseases. Treatments are accomplished using prescribed fire, mechanical thinning, herbicides, grazing, or combinations of these and other methods. Treatments are being increasingly focused on the expanding wildland/urban interface areas.

The Healthy Forests Initiative and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act have equipped land managers with additional tools to achieve long-term objectives in reducing hazardous fuels and restoring fire-adapted ecosystems."

My opinion on that: AGENCY FOCUS

Item #4. PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE BEEN OR MAY BE THREATENED BY WILDLAND FIRE: Communities need many types of assistance, and community participation is at the core of carrying out citizen-driven solutions to reduce the risks of fire in the wildland/urban interface. Agencies provide support for educating citizens on the effects of fire, community fire protection planning, and training and equipping rural and volunteer firefighters. Through a variety of grant programs including Rural, State, and Volunteer Fire Assistance and Economic Action Programs, delivered by the Agencies and the State Foresters, communities can take action to live safely in fire-prone areas."

My opinion on that: CUT TO THE POINT OF NON-EXISTENCE IN 2007.

Item #5. "COMMITTING TO THE WILDLAND FIRE LEADERSHIP COUNCIL, AN INTERAGENCY TEAM CREATED TO SET AND MAINTAIN HIGH STANDARDS FOR WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT ON PUBLIC LANDS: Oversight, coordination, program development, integration, and monitoring are critical to successful implementation of the National Fire Plan. Well-articulated, consistent policies and procedures provide for better oversight and review, and lead to greater accountability. To this end, the Wildland Fire Leadership Council is committed to ensuring the highest level of accountability."


The Forest Service and the USDI Agencies made a commitment to the National Fire Plan. They need to stick by it and let Congressional leaders properly fund it.

Nor Cal Tom

3/7 ‘botomy

Let’s talk sometime. I spent much of the Yellowstone fires as a line medic on Spike.
I saw some pretty funky stuff in what one would expect to be normally healthy
individuals during the daily 12-hour inversions on the North Fork fire.

S.R. Sparky
3/6 Re: The Health Hazards of Smoke

I want to add some more information regarding the health hazards of smoke since everyone sat so quietly without comment. Butenolide (discussed on 2/25/2006) is just one of many metabolites found in smoke. Another key metabolite is known as Aflatoxin. There are hundreds of other metabolites found in smoke that are hazardous. They all come from various mycotoxins with Fusarium Sp. being a common one found in the wildland areas.

From www.themoldsource.com/mold/toxins.phpl:

“The secondary metabolites, called mycotoxins (myxo=fungus; toxins), are produced to give fungi a competitive edge against other microorganisms, including other fungi. There are over 200 recognized mycotoxins, however, the study of mycotoxins and their health effects on humans is in its infancy and many more are waiting to be discovered. Many mycotoxins are harmful to humans and animals when inhaled, ingested or brought into contact with human skin. Mycotoxins can cause a variety of short term as well as long-term health effects, ranging from immediate toxic response to potential long-term carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and teratogenic (birth defect causing) effects. Symptoms due to exposure to mycotoxins include dermatitis, cold and flu symptoms, sore throat, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, and impaired or altered immune function, which may lead to opportunistic infection.”

From www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/htmlpubs/htm99512801/index.php

“Smoke has always been a problem for wildland firefighters. Research conducted in the 1960's and 70's on the health effects of smoke exposure was not conclusive. The 1987 fires in northern California and the 1988 Yellowstone fires raised serious concerns about the effects of forest fire smoke on the health of wildland firefighters.”

The study of smoke in the 1990’s and in early 2000 was also inconclusive. It was a flawed study that looked at carbon monoxide, respirable (breathable) particulate matter, formaldehyde, acrolein, and benzene as the key hazards in smoke…… they failed to look outside the box or listen to the folks who were suffering from smoke exposures. One person even said to me, “You must just be sensitized to smoke” when I explained what I have been suffering with since 1987.

Wildland firefighters and their family members continue to die from “rare” cancers…. suffer from liver, kidney, and brain ailments, and have lung problems…. How long will it take for the researchers and the various other “expert ologists” in the wildland fire program to listen to the wildland firefighters?

The rare cancers aren’t rare in the wildland fire community…. I don’t have cancer as of this posting…. But I do have screwed up lungs and a passion for safety and saying BS where BS is due. If I keep asking questions or making statements, it’s because I want some of the researchers to do their damn jobs!!!! Listen to the firefighters if you are doing fire research.
Don’t even get me going on the Pack Test and why firefighters keep dying taking it….


3/6 Re: “It is only a rumor” – February 1 to March 6, 2006. The reason why it is important to question and research rumors..... it all comes back to duty, respect, and integrity.

For easier understanding, start from the bottom of this post and read upwards.

Student of Fire Science


3/6/2006 – Tahoe Terrie posts a link for the public, the press, and Congress to ask questions about why the National Fire Plan is not providing adequate resources in the Western United States. Note how many of them are political appointees and how much time they have had being a firefighter.... they are known as the Wildland Fire Leadership Council....

3/5/2006 - R6er with engine on blocks calls into question statements made by Dale Bosworth, Chief of the Forest Service, to Congress on March 2, 2005 and to Vicki Minor (as posted 2/1/2006).

3/4/2006 – R5 engine slug calls into question statements made by Mark Rey, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment.

3/3/2006 – Mellie and Gizmo confirm that potential cuts are real and looming after attending the Region 5 Chief Officers Conference. Lots of discussions about A-76 and budget "cuts". Over 500 people in attendance at the Conference including Hotshots, Engines, Helitack, Smokejumpers, Chief Officers, Line Officers and the public.

3/3/2006 – TCS said (regarding the 2006 AD Memorandum), “Get ready, folks! Not only does this come on the verge of what promises to be a major wildland fire season in the southern tier of states, it also promises to negatively affect the largest number of firefighters in the history of federal wildland firefighting.” (Note: AD firefighters are always getting overlooked in their importance to the wildland fire community and their influence on safety.)

3/3/2006 – Azfirefighter addresses concerns over the State of Arizona not funding severity resources. (Note: Assistance programs under State and Private Forestry, USFS, received big cuts in FY 2006 and even larger planned cuts in FY 2007.)

2/27/2006 – Outsourcing Plan is posted on They Said.

2/24/2006 – Gizmo calls BS on Bluesman.

2/24/2006 – Bluesman said, “Gizmo's post is not correct.”

2/24/2006 – Gizmo said, “There are rumors floating around that Region 5 may be losing 40+ engines this coming fire season due to budget cuts. There also are rumors that many fire engines will only be covered five days a week instead of seven.”

2/3/2006 – Casey Judd said, “Since the FWFSA has earned and established its credibility in DC, we are in a position to address your particular concerns with the proper elected officials. All the land management agencies know the FWFSA is keenly aware that what congress appropriates for preparedness & fire, doesn't always get to where it should. They also know that, armed with accurate data about such issues, we will not hesitate to address the matter with the appropriate folks in DC.”

2/2/2006 – Kevin Joseph said, “I appreciate the work you do at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. It is important that someone speaks out on behalf of wildland firefighters. The "Rumor" that there will be cutbacks on wildland firefighters is, unfortunately, very true. We received drastic cutbacks last year in both USFS and BLM fire management programs on my unit and they are continuing.”

2/1/2006 – Vicki Minor said, “In my visit with Dale Bosworth I asked him -- because of work we do here at the Foundation -- not to cut back on wildland firefighters. Cuts would stretch firefighting lines too thin and leave remaining firefighters far too vulnerable. He assured me that reduction in firefighter forces is only a rumor and that there will be no wildland firefighter cutbacks.”

3/6 Misery Whip,

Great post.


This link might help you to perform some self evaluation before commenting
on the competency of people who you may or may not know.


3/6 Rogue Rivers,

I'm not sure why I would be afraid of ODF getting portal to portal pay if I were a Forest Service person in region 6. I'm not currently employed by the USFS ...and the last thing I can remember being scared of is my first ex wife's attorney. She was a cross between a pit bull and Janet Reno ( the attorney not my ex) . You can read my last post to determine my rank and file status.

other posters...

I feel the need to respond to the prescription burn topic but don't have the time to write a book to get my thoughts in order at this time...so my comment is simply... don't let the argument be framed by what civil or criminal actions an agency might take against a private landowner who willfully or negligently started a fire. Instead the responsible agency should examine the prescription to determine if the risk of over achievement of acres was mentioned, mitigated and monitored as goals of the burn plan. Items of discovery within this review should drive any needed changes to the agency prescribed burning activities.

My personal opinion is that caution should be the key word when finding fault and pinning blame. The spin from the fire fighting community should support prescribed burning as a resource management tool that has inherent risks but also has the potential for large dividends in forest health and WUI protection issues.

3/6 Ab, could you post this,

Los Padres "icon" of many years, Hurston Buck, passed away on March 1, at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. Hurston had lived with many difficult health issues over the years, and finally succumbed at age 82 to a heart attack and stroke suffered on February 27. Hurston had such a long and interesting career with the Forest Service.

His first "job" with the Forest Service was in 1937 as an unpaid fire camp assistant to his dad (a Forest Service engineer) on the Trinity NF. He hired on officially in 1938... at 25 cents/hr! His career took him from the Trinity to the Klamath, then the Stanislaus NF and he served as a crew foreman, warehouseman, inmate planting camp manager, then district fire control officer. He came to the LPF in 1965, as the Cuyama District Fire Control Officer, then moved into the Forest's Chief Dispatcher position in 1972 when the forest began converting from district-based to centralized dispatching. After retiring from the LPF in 1976 he spent many fire seasons (until 1996) in "call when needed" positions in fire communications. Hurston was very proud that he "fought fire for 50 years" with the Forest Service! He was very well-known in the fire services statewide for his boisterous, jovial (and sometimes cantankerous) personality. Until he began to really slow down he stopped by the SO on a regular basis to say "hi" and let us know, in no uncertain terms, what he thought about the changes in the Forest Service. We will miss his booming voice and presence.

Hurston is survived by his wife Joyce, a son Mike and a daughter Marie.

Memorial services will be on Friday, March 10, at the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge located at 150 N. Kellogg Avenue (north of Calle Real between Fairview and Patterson Avenues). The service will start at 10:00 a.m.

You can send letters of condolence to Joyce Buck and family at 464 Coronado Drive, Goleta, CA 93117.


Thanks for the info TP. Sounds like he left his mark and will be missed. Ab.

3/6 jumper jive

There some helitack positions open for the jumpers that didn;t get
picked-up. LMAO


3/6 Ab,

Here are some of the people that should be contacted by the press and the
politicians as to why they haven't fulfilled their contract (memorandum of
understanding www.fireplan.gov/leadership/memorandum.phpl) with
Congress and the American people:

Tahoe Terrie

3/6 Bird Flu:

Just a heads up. Now house cats in Germany and Austria are testing positive
for bird flu. Cats are mammals like humans. Does this mean the H5N1 virus is
more transmissible to humans? This species barrier jump is not what scientists
like to see. In studies done in the lab, cats were injected with the virus, allowed
to eat infected meat and healthy cats were housed with infected cats. All cats died.
It appears the virus transmits cat to cat in addition to bird to cat shown in SE
Asia where hundreds of large cats died in a game preserve. Will will the virus
transmit cat to human and human to human to go pandemic soon is the question.

Please put some extra food and water, and vitamins aside for your families. Ask
your doc to prescribe you a small stock of Rx meds.

Love you all.

FluTrackers.com for up to date birdflu info.

3/6 Norcal Tom and Misery Whip. Yes, I am very old school and believe that someone has to take personal responsibility for his or her actions. I believe if you create a prescription, sign off on a burn plan or ignite a prescribed fire you are in effect saying "Yes, I personally will do everything in my power to make this go right".

If the burn plan or the prescription was compromised then there should be disciplinary action taken. If the burn plan was inadequate in addressing the need for holding or patrol forces then that individual's personal performance report should reflect that and his or her pay docked accordingly.

This escape will cost millions of dollars before the adverse damage claims are settled. The reputation of all land management agencies in Northern California have been damaged. The BLM just completed the payment of nearly 24 million dollars for the Louden Escape A BLM Prescribed fire escape in near Weaverville, Ca in 1999. 23 homes were burned. The public in California just had a full week of coverage of the escape on the Cleveland NF, which I am sure will be quite expensive. At what point does someone say enough?

I am an advocate of prescribed fire, but we cannot explain all of our escapes as something that fell thru the cracks or the holes in the Swiss Cheese model.

I don't believe in using committees to absolve guilt. The Swiss Cheese model and accident models are currently the rage, but I prefer the older theory of "the buck stops here". A person or an Agency should be responsible for their actions.

Lobotomy says wildland suppression cannot be made 100% safe and I agree. Prescribed fire will never be 100% without risk either, but there is a difference. Lighting a prescribed burn is a willful act.

I have been accused of Agency or Fed bashing. I don't like incompetence in any agency and will comment on it as the acts occur. viejo
3/5 Here is the link to last weeks hearing on the Forest Service FY 2007 budget proposal. If you think things are bad this coming fire season.... just wait, it can get worse. If we only had 1/2 million dollars cut from preparedness for this coming fire season, imagine what it will be like with a $10 million cut.


3/5 KD,

The vacancies are not considered as part of the "unfunded" positions. As I
understand it, Region 5 is committed to fill all of its fire positions. The positions
you are seeing are open continuous rosters and positions being advertised at
the GS-7+ level when no open continuous roster exists.



Senators Question to Chief Bosworth: Despite these critical issues, how do you explain reductions in the USFS-preparedness budget?

Chief Bosworth's Answer. With the Forest Service FY 2006 preparedness budget, the agency is committed to maintaining firefighting readiness comparable to the FY 2005 level without sacrificing firefighter safety.

Senators Question to Chief Bosworth: Can you clearly identify how much money will be spent on preparedness within each region of the Forest Service including within my State of Washington (R6)?

Chief Bosworth's Answer:
Region 1 -  $58,362,000
Region 2 -  $29,975,000
Region 3 -  $64,308,000
Region 4 -  $59,555,000
Region 5 - $203,506,000
Region 6 -  $82,944,000
Region 8 -  $36,348,000
Region 9 -  $22,941,000
Region 10 -  $3,394,000

So the total sent out to the Regions for preparedness was $561,333,000?
Congress appropriated $676,000,000 for fire preparedness.
Where did the remaining $114,667,000 go to?

R6er with engine on blocks
3/5 NorCal Tom

"Viejo" brings out some rather salient points. However...you seem to take offense at that and want to discredit him/her by attempting to suggest that "Viejo" has somehow always "has a bone to pick with USFS". You also say that we're not "supposed to get into personalities". You ask Abs why that is...! Take a look at your own post there Tommy Boy and you'll have to admit that perhaps YOU might be a little too overbearing and more than a little full of yourself.

Is there always supposed to be something wrong with a knee jerk reaction? We all are guilty of having them...get over it there in Northern California. Nobody in this forum is always right about everything...yourself included...but this time, my vote is with "Viejo".


Copter100, I made the comment about knee jerk, not "Tommy Boy" (hawhaw). I definitely do not feel knee jerk is an entirely bad thing and I always hope the typing hands are connected to the knee gone wild when there are good points made. Seems like several were. Sometimes that's what keeps this site going on a sleepy-eyed Sunday... That said, it's rare that flaming or red-truck/green-truck polarization creates an optimal environment for lessons learned. Ab.

3/5 NorCal Tom,

What I’ve noticed about viejo’s posts is that they consistently exhibit ”old” thinking; if something bad happens, then that means that some bad person intentionally did (or didn’t do) something to cause it. For folks with this mentality, there is only one answer; cut the head (or heads) off of the people who were closest to the problem. Like Cramer.

Fortunately, there is a growing body of science that says most accidents are not that simple, and that they frequently have multiple causes at many organizational levels. As more people become aware of James Reason’s theories on risk management and accident prevention, as books like Managing the Unexpected become part of our wildland fire culture, hopefully we will see fewer Cramers and more wide-ranging investigations that will also reveal things like reduced budgets, lack of training, management decisions to leave positions vacant, etc that are often as or more important than the proximate causes.

Tom Harbour and many of our FAM leaders are advocates of this new style of management. If you go to the doctrine website, you can find many examples of how Reason’s and Weick/Sutcliffe’s work have influenced the creation of our wildland fire doctrine.

Some folks like viejo may decide to educate themselves about this “new” science and will eventually come around. Some never will.

Misery Whip
3/5 I have a thought/question.

Are all the unfunded positions in region 5 the same ones that have been clogging all the job searches on Avue for the last 3 years? Whenever you do a search for jobs in Avue, you get choked out by all the California jobs that they can't fill. You have to screen through them to get to the jobs in states where you actually are looking. Did the "powers that be" finally decide to give up and just drop those jobs?


No. Readers, want to elaborate? Ab.

3/5 viejo,

You said, "The public has a right to expect "the experts" to be able to conduct a prescribed
burn without risk to them or their property."

I correlate that statement to the thought that wildland firefighting can be made 100% safe.

Both statements are impossible to accomplish 100% of the time.

With wildland fire and prescribed fire, the public needs to be educated on the risks and must
understand that accidents do happen occasionally. When accidents happen, fact finding will
occur and lessons will be learned.

Accountability starts at the top and works down...... the rush to "blame" rather than
understand is something that needs to be removed from the Forest Service culture.


And from the CDF culture and from the ODF culture, etc. Ab.

3/5 Well, duh... on the investigation, the prescriptions, the checklists, etc. You're
preaching to the choir here, viejo. The investigation is proceeding as it always
does, taking everything into consideration.

NorCal Tom

PS:: Ab, I know we're not supposed to get into personalities, but if you search
theysaid on viejo, you see he always has a bone to pick against the Forest
Service, never any other agency. Why is that, eh?

Something to do with kneejerk powering typing fingers??? Ab.

3/5 Ab,

Wildland fire has borrowed a lot of ideas from the military over the years:
fire orders, sand table exercises, commander's intent, HFACS, doctrine,

Now it looks like the Army is following the lead of the Forest Service
with an OIG investigation to consider criminal charges - possibly negligent
homicide - for the "friendly fire" death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.

vfd cap'n
3/5 What in the world does NWCG have to gain by screwing all of the AD
Firefighters by lowering their wages? Have they thought at all about the
ramifications of their actions? I think this is just some personal vendettas
being brought upon ADs by folks who have some kind of axe to grind.

The history of these types of adverse actions in the federal government
has been decidedly negative towards all of the perpetrators.

3/5 Info. for AV's request of 3/4:

JG Industries, Inc.
4045 B Street
Mayaguez, PR 00682
Government contractor

I'm in a searching mood...

Re:  2/24 Bob Nance Inquiry
He might mean Siskiyou Aviation

Re: 3/3 Texas dozer incident:
Couldn't locate a news update, but www.wffoundation.org/
is accepting donations in Steve's name.


3/5 Lobotomy... I don't want to start a witch hunt regarding the causes of the Hotlum escape, but I do believe that someone or a group of someone's should be held accountable. In California, as you know, it is common to cite the individual who lit the fire for criminal action and to hold them or their company liable for civil damages.

Prescribed burning has a commonality with hunting terrorists...you've got to be right 100% of the time.

The public has a right to expect "the experts" to be able to conduct a prescribed burn without risk to them or their property. There are prescriptions and Go-No-Go checklists required for every burn, if these were violated, then disciplinary action is called for.


3/4 Mellie

Would love to help but the talk guy I was referring to is a fire service basher. He thinks there are too many firefighters and they get paid too much (at least in San Diego City).

Of course he was full of criticism about the IA on the Cedar fire also, not enough troops. Everything done wrong; that kind of stuff. Bashed CDF and USFS (CNF) pretty good too.

If you have some info send it on (Ab can give you my address) and I can try some other talk hosts or newscasters.
This is not a good time for me right now but I will do as much as I can. I am on overtime for the next few weeks, rush redesign job on something I have been saying was done wrong, for over a year. Now I get to fix it. Electrical system, wires too small. Yall can appreciate the issue, trying to get the pressure/volume needed using a 2" hose out of the same length of "toy' hose. Electrons have the same issues water does with pressure/volume and conductor (hose) size.

Give me some sites and/or news releases and I will send the stuff to the local media. I am sure they are not looking for fire stuff.

3/4 Sharon Heywood, supervisor of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, apologized to about 60 residents who gathered Friday for a public meeting about the fire, which scorched about 3,000 acres of land.

Heywood said a review of fire plans and how officials reacted has already begun.

Before it was brought under control last Monday, the Hotlum fire destroyed one house, four vehicles and a boat. It also burned around 100 telephone poles and 27,000 feet of AT&T cable. Two hundred customers lost telephone service.

Some residents were concerned that no one would be held accountable for the blaze, but authorities said they will decide on discipline based on the review.

"If I was camping out there and I started this, I would hate to think of what would happen to me," said Lake Shastina resident Ken Howser.

Here goes the blame game again....... Maybe the "forestry supervisor" is the one at fault? One should not throw stones when they live in glass houses. The troops on the ground are getting tired of the "blame game" whether it comes from the public, the press, or the Agency talking heads. Wildland firefighters are a learning group...... they get pissed off when the "blame game" interferes with lessons learned.

3/4 Re: Forest Service Fire Suppression Budget and Capabilities

Statement from Mark Rey, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, Concerning the Forest Service Fiscal Year 2006 Budget, March 3, 2005:

“Efficient Response to Wildfires: While the effective treatment of hazardous fuels provides the long-term protection of communities and natural resources from the threat of catastrophic wildfire, the agency must also continue to address fire preparedness. The Forest Service and DOI will maintain sufficient readiness resources to suppress more than 98% of wildfires on initial attack. This represents the same approximate level of readiness that has occurred over the past several years.”

Forest Service Budget Justifications for FY 2006:

“The FY 2006 President’s Budget contains an increase in the Wildland Fire Management program of $3.8 million after adjusting for non-emergency funding and the movement of hazardous fuel funding to NFS. Highlights include Wildfire Suppression Operations funded at $700.5 million, an increase of $51.6 million, and Preparedness funded at $676 million, which is consistent with the 2005 enacted level. The President’s Budget proposes to move hazardous fuel funding to the National Forest System to improve implementation of the program during severe wildland fire seasons, as well as to improve coordination.”

“To distribute preparedness funds efficiently, the Forest Service calculates a Firefighting Production Capability (FFPC) based on the level of funding provided. FFPC equates specific number and mix of resources (e.g. personnel and equipment) identified in local unit’s National Fire Management Analysis System (NFMAS) plans. FFPC represents the total fireline building capability of all firefighters and equipment if all were deployed at one time. Fireline building capability is measured in chains per hour, where one chain equals 66 feet.”

“For FY 2006, the agency will maintain a level of readiness approximate to that attained in 2004. This will be achieved through efficiencies implemented in the program leadership functions and agency-wide overhead. This level of readiness will be maintained consistent firefighter safety as the primary consideration in all aspects of the wildfire suppression management program including training, deployment, suppression, and demobilization.”

“The FY 2006 President’s Budget proposes $676.01 million for Preparedness; a decrease of almost $0.5 million from the FY 2005 enacted level. At this level of funding, the agency will maintain a level of readiness similar to the level attained in FY 2004.”

So, if the FY 2006 NATIONWIDE budget for fire preparedness was only cut by million dollars, where did the rest of the money go?

R5 Engine Slug

3/4 Dear Rogue:

Over the past year, I've had several conversations with R5's NFFE VP representative on the Portal to Portal issue. Their initial concern about HR 408 was that its effect was exclusive to those who are primary firefighters & eligible for the federal government's special retirement provisions and would not apply to those that respond to fire calls as the "militia" or perform fire duties as a secondary duty.

My response of course was that the bill, entitled aptly enough "The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act" was crafted by and for the FWFSA at the direction of its members, knowing full well that many federal wildland firefighters not actually members of the FWFSA would certainly benefit.

However, I also provided the NFFE VP with case law (ironically a NFFE case) where the federal courts found against OPM and in favor of NFFE as it related to the interpretation of what a primary firefighter was... thus broadening the field of potential beneficiaries of HR 408. At present, I believe NFFE supports the bill.

With respect to AFGE, I simply can't say. But lets talk politics for a minute. Traditionally, the large federal labor unions have been synonymous with supporting democratic candidates while opposing republicans. This continues today although nearly 50% of union membership is registered Republican. As a result, some of the unions have touted their work with the majority but primarily have relationships with a handful of moderate republicans in the East to showcase the fact they are working with both parties.

I think to a great degree, the FWFSA, being an employee association and not a union, has a distinct advantage over the unions in advocating issues for federal wildland firefighters because we represent only federal wildland firefighters in a political/legislative capacity and don't have to get into the contractual issues the unions do. Furthermore, the unions have a variety of other occupations which they must represent.

With all due respect to the unions, the fact that HR 408 has been authored by a republican, yet has more democratic cosponsors than republicans, demonstrates that the union "endorsement" of the bill is not a critical need. The FWFSA has been able to disengage itself from the partisan bickering in DC to secure the support of those that represent the entire spectrum of political ideology.

Every firefighter in this country deserves to be properly compensated for their efforts. To change things, though, takes considerable time and energy. To change the status quo requires people who are willing to take on the fight and not sit around complaining or whining about the way things are while refusing to play a role in making such changes.

Fortunately, the membership of the FWFSA has seen the Association's commitment to changing things for the better and are willing to be a part of the change.

3/4 Re: Health Hazards

GAO Report - September 11:
Monitoring of World Trade Center Health Effects Has Progressed,
but Program for Federal Responders Lags Behind.

Abstract: www.gao.gov/docsearch/abstract.php?rptno=GAO-06-481T
Highlights: www.gao.gov/highlights/d06150high.pdf (pdf file)
Full Report: www.gao.gov/new.items/d06481t.pdf (pdf file)

3/4 I was wondering if anyone had contact info for "J G Industries" I have a pair
of the nomex Kevlars and need a new pair and wanted to see what they had
to offer.


3/4 Ab

The biggest misconception throughout the entire universe is that firefighters will lose their connection with the land if they are properly classified as firefighters. Ask the biologists, the archaeologists, the botanists, the foresters, etc if they lost the connection with the land.

Stop making out firefighters as the bad guys in land management. Start with asking the other professions if they lost contact with land management by allowing the fire managers to exercise their profession?

Ask the easy questions before you ask the tough questions.

Just another thought

I take it keeping contact with the land was one of the reasons given in developing some issue or argument at the Chiefs' meeting? Ab.

3/4 AZFirefighter

Arizona had let loose a severity contract and put some of the work out to bid.
Thats what I am told from an AZLand associate of mine.
aside - thats the skinny anyways

be safe - have fun

3/4 Casey and Oliver,

ODF is not IAFF. They are part of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Here is last years proposal:

Notice the SEIU is not a specific union for firefighting representation... but none the less, they represent the needs of their firefighter members even though they are called laborers and forest protection officers.

Casey, why doesn't the Forest Service NFFE and AFGE locals join with the FWFSA in supporting HR 408? .... especially when the majority of their members are firefighters?... Is there a disconnect between the locals, the chapters, the districts, and the leadership?

SEIU seems to be fully supporting portal to portal... and has the support of the rank and file. Oliver, are you outside of rank and file within ODF or are you a Forest Service person in region 6 afraid of ODF getting portal to portal pay?

Thanks Casey.... Don't hold punches... ODF needs portal to portal pay.

Rogue Rivers
3/3 Bluesman,

The rumor that I was asking about last week was confirmed at the Region 5 Chief Officers Conference.

It was confirmed that the following resources are not funded for the 2006 fire season in Region 5:

48 Type 3 Engines
12 Water Tenders
7 Type 1 Crews
1 Type 2 Crew
Misc. Other Resources (Dozers, Prevention, etc...)
Total: 515 Firefighters

The Region says they will be trying ways to juggle around funds to make sure there are no cuts of equipment -- so far. The Regional Office also says we will be at MEL Minus 20 -- aka 80% MEL. There will be lots of 5 day fire engines and some Forests say they will be down to 50% firefighting production capacity/capability on any given day during fire season. Several line officers are spitting mad.

I wonder what the members of Congress, who believe the Forest Service is providing protection in the MEL Minus 5 to MEL Minus 10 range, would think about these "unfunded" resources?

I also wonder what the members of Congress, the public, and the media would think about....

1) Where was the money intended for preparedness staffing directed to and who approved it?
2) How will this reduced firefighting capability affect firefighter and public safety? and
3) How will this affect resource and community protection?

These will be tough questions to answer.


3/3 Everyone,

Gizmo or whoever said something last week about cuts was right.

Resources will be cut in R5 this next season unless something changes with the budget allocation. I understand the pinch the WO is in with the squeeze from above from george-dubya. Gordon Graham says the size of the pie is a choice, not a foregone limitation. (He suggested this book: The Fair Tax Book by Neil Boortz. OMG, I just looked at this! I used to be a liberal environmentalist! What am I coming to!!! The things this ol gal has to lip lock or lay a Willie Nelson on, to bring about change!)

OK, so how can we do this change next week? Any chance we could get a media blitz going?

  • Those socal talk show guys that some of you (RJM and others) wanted to "school" in the ways of fire... how about you give them some real projected CA budget numbers as part of that schooling?
  • We could write up some press releases with photos of green engines that won't be available this year, could do them in B/W and color for the local papers, especially Big Bear and south - the parts that are bound to burn. Get your spouses and kids on it. Make it a classroom project at your kids' schools. Heck, we need to tell the public and congress what we need to do the job on IA and EA.
  • We could send copies to Senators and Congress people. I'll call on my friends and family. They're always up for a "theme" barbeque. (I won't tell them about that book, well, maybe a few who are in the middle of working on taxes!)

Should I get a few written pieces together that people could modify and send? Snail mail is best. Reporters will take it anyway you give it. We have to do this soon. If no decision is made, the Line Officers say they're going to have to declare the cuts. We can't go into fire season in earnest not knowing what we have. If there's no engine to safely send, we need to have it stated up front that we could be loosing starts on IA if it's as bad a season as it looks like it could be.


PS: you R3 and R8 folks. Sorry to hear about the OK burnover. I hope all are alright and recovering.

Can we help you out with getting your message about resources to congress, etc?

Everyone, please keep up with the spread of birdflu around the globe. Some of my professional med friends do a fine job reporting here: www.flutrackers.com/forum/

3/3 Brian,

I really do not think the pack is the issue, bigger pack mean more stuff, smaller pack means what you do need you can't take. Somewhere in the middle is probably the best. The big thing to remember is your not on a camping trip, but there to work. Yea, the work is a blast, but you still need the tools to do the job. Staying basic seems to have always worked well for me. forgot one item the last email, get a P-38 can opener. They work to good to not have. Be safe, maybe see you it you come west this year. I hang out in the Northwest mostly.


3/3 Ab,

Here are the two reports associated with the dozer accident in TX. Both contain
information that may be subject to change pending further investigation.

Texas Dozer Accident Initial & Preliminary Reports


How is the person doing? Ab.

3/3 Brian,

I carry a Ruffian pack and I'm not a sawyer anymore, so here's what I carry:
1 -100oz camel back
4 -1qt GSA canteens ( they fit better in most packs)
1 wool knit cap
1 lightweight fleece top
1 poncho, rip stop nylon
1 pair boot socks
1 hi-graded MRE, (enough real food to last you 24 hours, get rid of all the
packaging and heaters, etc)
all the required equipment (headlamp, fire shelter, 1st aid kit, etc)

Then you have to think about specialized equipment. I carry
6 fussees,
a box of quickfire flares,
a box of .22 rounds,
a flare gun,
a Garmin Vista GPS,
a Kestral (which are junk anyway, Forest SOP),
belt weather kit, and
two siggs of saw gas and oil,
a box of aa batteries,
a roll of fiber tape, and
2 rolls of pink flagging.

This minimum type pack weighs about 35 pounds.
weigh in p-cord, saw kits, and whatever else you might have to carry up a
hill (mark III pump?) and the bottom line is: what do you really need to
last you 24 hours unsupported?

R3 Hotshot

3/3 Dear Kamie:

I've been called a lot of things in my life...Bubba isn't one of them. I have all the respect in the world for IAFF members and if by PFD you mean Portneuf, heck I'll do what I can in DC to get them some federal dollars! Course I'll make sure my neighbors have good defensible spaces too!!! (if the snow ever melts)

My last post was in reference to the fact that there is an organization of state firefighters in Oregon still dealing with archaic policies. My question was simply, "where is the IAFF?" They weren't there for their federal wildland firefighters so I was simply posing the question as to what, if anything, they were doing to help the ODF.

I was obviously mistaken that Oliver's posting was about their Oregon state portal to portal issue, not the FWFSA's current fight for portal to portal for federal wildland firefighters. Thus, my suggestion he donate his portal to portal earnings to the Foundation was based upon my erroneous assumption that it was the "federal" portal to portal issue he was referring to, not the Oregon state issue.

Firefighters from all sorts of organizations contribute to the Foundation as they should. Vicki is a saint and she does good work... period.

I never have been bent out of shape. Well, there was that time I fell through a roof... Nonetheless, I didn't think I equated the FWFSA as being the only Foundation contributors so I'm not sure what I was getting bent about. Again, I have all the respect in the world for IAFF members. It's some of the leadership and their decision making process and lack of support on federal wildland firefighter issues that has been disconcerting. Heck, I liked the IAFF so much I darn near got elected to their Executive Board in 2003. That...would have been terrifying to Harold, with all due respect I'm sure. (those darn renegade federal firefighters from California)

Anyway, I am now in your absolutely gorgeous state where our membership continues to grow. And that of course brings me to my greatest concern. Your commentary of being a FORMER FWFSA member was obviously troubling to me since the Association has worked incredibly hard since the disaffiliation in 2003 from the IAFF to build the membership and deliver to our federal wildland firefighters the pay & benefits they have deserved for far too long.

That being said, since we apparently share the same area code, I'd be honored and humbled to have you email me at FWFSAlobby@aol.com or call me at 208-775-4577 and let me know why you are a former member.

If you have not been with the Association since before 2003, I can probably understand why you may no longer be a member. But do me the courtesy of letting me know what, if anything I can do to once again earn the honor of working with and for you on the issues that our federal wildland firefighters face.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/3 RE: Redmond Smokejumpers and Workforce Diversity

The Redmond Smokejumper Program is committed to taking on a leadership role
in workforce diversity. Our program remains dedicated to agency hiring and
employment policies that foster workforce diversity that is reflective of
society as a whole. We value diversity and we recognize the need to
increase diversity in our workforce. If you find yourself confused about
the Redmond Smokejumper Program’s temporary workforce hiring policy this
year, I encourage you to contact me directly through email, or by phone.
Much appreciated.

Bill Selby
Redmond Smokejumper Program Manager
(541) 504-7280
email: wselby@fs.fed.us

Thanks Bill for stepping up publicly. Posters who are interested in this, here's your contact info. Ab.

3/3 Great Job on the R5 Chief's Conference! Are the videotapes going
to be on PBS? If so, let us know when. I've been chuckling over
Gordon Graham.

Ray said something like "You can know what your future holds if
you define it." There was more. They must have videotaped it.


3/3 Ab and They Said readers:

The NWCG has been in stealth mode lately while it again ponders the Incident Business Practices Working Team’s suggestion to radically reduce the wages and benefits of most American federal land management agency Administratively Determined (AD) wildland firefighters.

AD firefighters are, in descending order of numbers,
1) Native American and Hispanic Firefighter Crews,
2) VFD folks on federal fires,
3) most state employees on federal fires,
4) contract firefighters paid on parity with AD firefighters,
5) most of the dispatch system which is staffed by ADs during busy times, and
6) retired experts in critically needed supervisory positions.
The "militia" upon which the federal land management agencies depend so completely will be entirely negatively affected.

Nobody in wildland fire will be unaffected as this new wage scale manifests itself with an accelerated decrease in available firefighters and the resultant increased ancillary safety issues.

This will be the largest adverse action against federal wildland firefighters in the history of the discipline. It will end up one of the largest “brain drains” in the history of the federal government rivaled only by the wholesale firing of all union air traffic controllers by Ronald Reagan in 1981.

The NWCG silence lately has been deafening. Insiders have been talking selectively to coworkers, to IC team meetings, and to the dispatch community with admonitions that they have been warned by supervisors not to divulge what is about to happen. There has been to date no official memorandum from NWCG but there has been some obvious design to let NWCG intent get out as rumor. NWCG evidently does not want a repeat of last year when NWCG actually did communicate this negative initiative openly. Last year their initiative was summarily shot down by immediate and absolute outcry from federal, state, and county fire managers, and by state and federal politicians.

The latest rumor is that the official 2006 AD Memorandum will be distributed late next week.

Get ready, folks! Not only does this come on the verge of what promises to be a major wildland fire season in the southern tier of states, it also promises to negatively affect the largest number of firefighters in the history of federal wildland firefighting.

3/3 Concern in Arizona for 2006!

Just heard some shocking news:

Arizona State Land has apparently NOT funded the very few state severity engines that are normally staffed, for 2006. This might be oversight, or maybe intentional, but the staffing for these short term, temporary units is not there. These engines run out of the three districts, and use fire department personnel. This is a benefit in that it provides pre-positioned engines which can stage in areas of frequent starts, can be used for fuels reduction and fire prevention education. Plus, this gives great experience to fire personnel to work on taskbooks and get good fire experience.

The Tucson district engine was assigned to over 30 fires last year alone. I don’t know all the facts yet, but apparently the money is going to aircraft and communications.

If anyone has any further insight into this, or is concerned and think these engines need to be staffed, please let the Governor know your concern. Arizona has NO county fire departments, and the state only staffs these engines in the summer. This will leave these areas relying on other rural or volunteer departments to respond, requiring more time, and a longer time for back-up.

If anyone can help to make this be known, it would be appreciated.


Contact the Governor of Arizona by snail-mail or email.

3/3 Brian;
go to:
drinkhydration.com and look at their new "Drink System".

It is fully supported and was designed specifically for all-risk events.

Drinks parent company is True North Gear.

3/3 Still out there as an AD-

Those platypus bags are great. I use the 1L size to fill with a bottle of wine (or ?) when I pack into the mountains, it's less weight in and I don't have to pack out the empty bottle. I also roll one up and keep it in my line pack. If I get assigned away from the engine I can fill it with extra water. I did have a leaker once, but REI replaced it with no problem. Never tried the hydration systems either.



Buck Silva current recipient of the

Cal Yarborough Award, for outstanding Division Chief.

Awarded by the R5 Division Chiefs to one of their own.

3/3 Ab,

That Chief Officers Meeting (Changing Faces of the Forest Service theme) has to be one of the best I have been to in many years. Others have been good, but this was "over the top." The Washington Office showed up and actually listened and dialoged. Kent Connaughton (sp?), Tom Harbour, Hank Kashdan. Didn't agree with some (lot) of what they said but good to have the conversations.

Good presentation and interaction with a Human Resources woman. Felt she's working on solutions hopefully with some success. Sorry, can't remember her name.

Gordon Graham was stupendous as always, especially delightful in his caricature of lawyers -- had everyone clutching their sides. Also good were his humorous comments on the effectiveness of job fairs in hiring. Did that ring true or what!

He gave some excellent information on risk assessment, starting with:

  • "There are no new ways to get in trouble.
  • We must always seek better ways to stay out of trouble.
  • Minimum standards are not good enough."

I liked his comment on bureaucrats and the size of the budget pie too. Reminded me of Casey. Maybe I can summarize a few of his other points when I can.

Laurence Gonzales (Deep Survival) was also good -with his discussion of the role of human factors in decision making:

  • "Emotional bookmarks" control behavior.
  • Risk/reward loop sets us up for making irrational decisions.
  • All learning is physical.

More things:

  • Thinking can go bad when you're dehydrated. (reminded me of discussion here)
  • Bad choices combined with "dodging the bullet" may not lead to good choices next time if you like the rush of the near miss. (reminded me of what a hotshot said here and what Campbell has said for years)

Ray had a good one liner at closeout. I don't remember exactly what it was.

NorCal Tom

3/3 Happy 2nd day after your birthday, Mike.

Congrats on the receiving the Humanitarian Award, Vicki. Glad to hear
Harbour appreciating the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Nice female
statue. Can we have a picture?

Good job on the Conference, Chiefs Cadre. Jim Smith, you're awesome.

Tahoe Terrie

Awards, added it. Ab.

3/3 Hmm, fight fire aggressively.

The most aggressively I ever fought fire were the times I started them. There is no better time to learn than when you are trying to catch your own start, be it a pile of leaves at home, brush pile, unit or a major back burn. You can read all you want, but you learn from your mistakes. There is no substitute for the School of Hard Knocks, book learned people usually lack common sense.

You can always second guess later, but the feeling of dread as you watch your burn take off is hard to describe. I’m just glad I worked in a remote area. You are also more likely to push yourself. Pride can be a dangerous thing.

I’ve talked to a few Old Timers that have commented on the way fires are fought on Banker’s hours now days. (But then didn’t they all walk 5 miles thru snow to go to school, anyhow). Eat breakfast, attend briefing, go to the line, get there about when the fire gets active, dis-engage until shift’s over, then head in for dinner.

The use of night shift has also been commented on. I never did like night shift, the eerie feeling of wandering around in the smoking forest at night, burned out from lack of sleep due to daytime heat. But you can get right up on the fire and hit it direct while taking advantage of lower temps and higher humidity. Never heard of a burn over happen after midnight. Injury due to lack of light, fatigue, bee and hornet nests and cliffs have thankfully reduced night shift some.

Oh the Memories,
And There I Was
3/3 Anyone else out there a fan of the Platypus bottles? No taste, no leaks, and
they fold up fairly small when you're not using them in transit. They're
made by Cascade Designs, the same folks who make the Thermarest sleeping
pads. (I love companies that can make me more comfortable!) They have
hydration systems too, but I'm not as familiar with them.

Still Out There As An AD
3/3 SRJS,

Thanks for the info, I am currently with district 11 out of Scranton so I have a lot of ground to cover and like keeping the pack light but those things that I was told I should carry never made it out after the first few years. Being on a crew of 2 makes spreading out the extras a little hard, but we have a vehicle we would be able to keep less used things in on the job. The packs are not issued (glad we get what we get) the state feels we don't need them and since they employ us they won't buy or reimburse the cost.


Thanks also, I have been looking at different backpack hydration systems and the one I got a few years ago I got to use once and had to get rid of it. After the first wash, I let it dry and later found mold in it where I could not reach. Many people that I have asked suggested the Camelback, so this time I will go with them and hope the mold doesn't come back.

3/3 Casey:

Calm down there Bubba...don't have a vapor lock cuz them dedicated IAFF Guys from PFD have about a 15-20 minute response time to Little Ol Inkom lol. I bet theres a lot of NON FWFSA people that donate to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, I'm a FORMER FWFSA member, My husband (IAFF Member) and I still support the foundation. Lets not get all bent out of shape here sheesh now we have the Rotorheads bickering about who gets more dollars per day, maybe next week they'll be yapping about who has the bigger stick.

3/3 Oliver:

I would assume the ODF is an affiliate of the IAFF? If so, what is the IAFF doing for you and the ODF on the HR/benefits issues? (perhaps as much as they did (actually didn't do) for our federal wildland firefighters when they were affiliated with them!!

I offer my apology if I did not pick up on the posts that your comments were directed to the Oregon issues. I absolutely, wholeheartedly concur with your assessments of the needs of the ODF. The portal to portal issue that we are pursuing for federal wildland firefighters obviously is different than what your organization may be trying to accomplish within the state of Oregon.

I would assume that the ODF has developed an aggressive campaign to inform the public as to what they do for them and has aggressively lobbied the state legislature. I'm asking simply because I don't know and would be delighted to understand the dynamics of why the state of Oregon desires to remain archaic in their policies towards those that protect life & property in their state.

As a former Executive Board member of the California Professional Firefighters (CPF), I believe I can say categorically that the CPF has taken the lead and been successful in a number of related issues that ODF appears to be dealing with. While the CPF rarely needed the appearance of the IAFF as backing for any of their efforts, I can't possibly fathom why the IAFF would not assist the ODF with seeking changes in current policy.

It all boils down to politics. That's what we do. Feel free to contact me personally any time at FWFSAlobby@aol.com or (208) 775-4577. I'd certainly like to learn more. Again, my personal apologies for my assessment of your post.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/3 What's with all these RX fire escapees the past couple of years? There appears to be a "lack of" somewhere in the equation. What ever happened to monitoring the FWX obs before, during, and after? Do we need to send folks back to 290, 390 and 490? Or, maybe a 40 hour course in the "Bacics of Secure and Mop up" needs to be developed ($$$$$), or maybe someone isn't paying attention, or maybe Managers aren't really managing! Somewhere in that equation appears a hidden rule called "Base all actions on current and expected fire behavior". Read that rule in some book, somewhere. Does this rule apply during the winter months, too? I guess I just don't get it. Can someone set me straight on this? Please!

3/2 Why is the Shasta-T escape not being discussed here. Was curious was it a pile burn or broadcast/underburn? Heard of a structure loss anybody have the inside scoop.

signed, Just Wandering

There is info on the Shasta-T escape in the Hot List Forum (available off the News Page), though a few days old now.  One news media link with some info here: www.mercurynews.com

3/2 There is some debate out there.

Define what it means to "Fight Fire Aggressively". Who does fight fire aggressively? Who does not?

3/2 Brian,

Look, try not to "read" to far into what to carry in your pack...it simply leads to too much crap you won't touch....

You need surprisingly less than you think for 24 hours and the lighter you are, the happier you are. Keep it basic bro, no extra frills. If you do that, you'll start to acquire the little pieces of pleasure you want slowly and only after a need arises. If you start to "think ahead" to much, you'll always have more crap than needed and look like a boy scout with stock in a carabiner company.

Also, look at the stuff you just cleaned from your pack. Anything there you never touched at all last season?

Just remember this: 24 hours is 24 hours. Dehydration, hunger, and the cold at dawn don't care whether you are on an engine or a crew. If you have only the engines IA harness then use what little space you have effectively. You may have to substitute food for Copenhagen.....

As for H20 storage, it's all personal preference. If you go with the backpack hydration, I recommend Camelback military models and highly recommend the ball-valve and mouth piece cover.

3/1 Mountaineers Fire Crew out of Redding, CA, is now accepting applications for the 2006 fire season.  Their training classes begin at the end of this month.  Check out their employment announcement on the Jobs Page.
3/1 Casey

Whoa slow down...I know you are passionate about the work you are doing for federal fire fighters. I gave my opinion in the form of a bet that portal to portal wouldn't happen anytime soon for ODF fire fighters. I made this comment from a 30 plus year career perspective on what I think our fire fighters need at this point in history and knowing how our system works.

My personal belief is that there are HR/Benefit issues with the state of Oregon that need to be addressed prior to us taking on the portal to portal pay issue. Did you know that our fire fighters are charged with an accident for poison oak reactions if they do not use TechNu or some other worthless pre treatment...OR...our that fire fighters just went through a two year freeze on merit pay increases.....OR... that ODF fire fighters do not have a hazard pay compensation package?

Nothing I said should distract you from your efforts on behalf of Federal Fire Fighters. I respect the hard work and long hours you give to their support. My response was to a posting of our (ODF) pay scales that didn't include our entry level fire fighter and the comment that we might have portal to portal pay soon for State of Oregon fire fighters...I don't think it will be soon and like I said there are plenty of other issues (in my personal opinion) that need to be addressed first. As a manager I have to be careful with opinions when the subject matter might become a bargaining issue. If you want a personal opinion about the portal to portal pay I'll give you one...I think ODF fire fighters deserve a wage and benefit package that would allow them to live substantially above the poverty line and be adequately compensated for meeting the requirements of the job we assign them to.

Casey...caution should be taken that not all posters on they said are federal fire fighters and that a difference of opinion offered by other agency employees about their agency shouldn't be looked at as undermining any ongoing efforts for the federal fire fighters.
Just tell me the color of ribbon to wear and I'll wear it in support of the issue.

And by the way...I am a 52 club supporter of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. So...as for my comment would I accept the portal to portal pay?...Here's the deal...If I haven't retired by the time ODF receives portal to portal pay I will donate my first 24 hour shift each season to the Foundation...believe me Casey this is a bet I would like to pay off on. However if I were the Grand Master Knight PooPah of the world I would work on some other HR/benefit issues prior to a portal to portal pay package for ODF fire fighters...it's just my opinion Casey...no spin...no bickering and no intentional undermining of your efforts.


3/1 I am sure that the smoke-jumpers don't have an actual written down gender quota to fill because I am sure that is illegal. However with that said, could Redmond really say with all honesty that they hired the most qualified applicants? I would find that a little hard to believe since I have heard that smokejumper bases get an average of 200 applications a year. I have known friends with several years of experience never get a chance to jump for no real reason other than a base trying to diversify.

Sounds to me like you are getting the short end of the stick, unfortunately I have no idea who to contact. What are the other smokejumper crews telling you regarding their hiring? Does anybody really give a good reason these days?

EngineslugSW- I am sorry if you thought I was whining, but have you ever sat on a hiring committee and heard "we are looking for women applicants only"

Firefighting is already dangerous, lets hire the best for the job........good luck Ape

Word on the street
3/1 Word on the Street....

Quotas? Where are the Quotas? The feds' don't have them anymore, except
for the Latino Settlement Act. In my experience, I have not been given
anything, in fact my last name has been nothing but an obstacle in the
road as far as the Forest Services goes, I guess there is no use in crying
about this worlds inequity, my advice is to focus all that misplaced
energy at working hard, and making a good impression on those you work
around. By the way I'm an Asian male, how many Asian Smoke-jumper's are
out there, or even just on your average crew? Not too many in my
experience. Lets not complain, it really doesn't help solve the problem,
hard work and determination work allot better.

Anyone have any comments on taking responsibility for our own actions by
solving the problems thrown to us in life, and/or real-life examples of
how they were overcome?

P.S.-Drew's Boots has got to be the greatest boot store on the west, check
it out on the web, forgot to mention they have real live cobblers who
really know about boots.

3/1 R6 Fire and Word on the Street,

Do either of you know if there are really gender quotas that have to be met? I thought that was a thing of the past and not even legal. I made a couple of calls but haven't received responses yet. I'll just keep calling and writing until I get some sort of response. It felt like no one wants to talk about it, and now I see why. I'm sort of shocked at it all. What does it say when a trained jumper in good standing can't get back to it? It would save the program a LOT of money, but I guess that's not a problem with the programs now. Things have sure changed in the past three years, cause that didn't seem to be the case before.

I probably need to channel my anger into letters to my congressman. If anyone on here has suggestions please let me know. The mouth on me will say something I might regret without help from other wiser and more experienced in the fire world.

It's probably just me, but this just doesn't sound right to me.

Fire Ape

3/1 Fire Ape......

From what I have been told they hired 5-6 rookies. All Female, some with out much experience. Sounds like bullS@&%$ to me, can you say filling a quota!!!!!

Word on the street
3/1 Mellie, burning star thistle this time of year, does not help much in the
control of it. Best time is usually in June when the heads have formed,
but before it goes to seed. At least thats my experience.

3/1 Fire Ape,

You might be referring to the four women rookie candidates that were hired. And yes, what you heard is correct. This is, in fact, generating a fair amount of discussion with quite a few people. And don't get me wrong, this discussion is coming from women and men. Not sure how it came about, but it is a surprise to many. Sorry if you are one of those with a lot of years and experience who put in for one of the spots.

3/1 Dear Oliver:

What would have happened if the FWFSA didn't "bet" on being able to eliminate the overtime pay cap for wildland firefighters in 1999-2000?

Would we have the increased awareness & education on Capitol Hill about federal wildland firefighters which has led to a portal to portal bill if we "didn't bet" on our ability to educate them and establish our credibility with them.

Would we have more democratic cosponsors on our portal to portal legislation (a republican authored bill) if we didn't bet we could overcome the partisan bickering in DC and garner the support for the bill because its the right thing to do.

Heck let's all just give up on doing the time consuming, often frustrating work to improve pay, benefits & working conditions for our federal wildland firefighters who have deserved such improvements for far too long.

Sorry, I will continue to bust my butt for our federal wildland firefighters because we can make a difference and can change the status quo. So... I'm sure you know where to find me...wanna bet?

And, if you choose not to accept the financial benefits of such legislation should it become law, I'd suggest donating the extra money to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/1 vfd cap'n

I have absolutely no doubt that 21,000 thousand jobs could be cut by the Forest Service to the betterment of the Service. However, the deadwood at the SO, Region and Washington levels will not be the ones to be cut. The cuts will be at the GS-7 level and below. The real reductions should be made much higher up the food chain.

Let's take a serious look at waste within the Federal fire organizations before we say there is no room for cuts. Do you have any idea what a Skycrane costs for one day of standby just for example? ($24,000) Or a K-Max that only hauls 500 gallons on a good day? ($20,000) Buys a lot of seven day staffing and full engine crews?

Let's find out the true costs of a lot of our programs, starting with the big helicopters, smoke jumpers, Cobra helicopters and on and on before you say there is no room for cuts.

Heli Pilot
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