"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland
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
or perhaps Ab you could place a link to the
Wildland Fire Talking Points (pdf file)
Comments welcome as usual (click name below)
Chair, AD Firefighters Association
JD the student, I can't give you the statistics for the Federal Wildland
but here's a link to the California Department of Forestry and Fire
It will give you an overview of what the CDF does and in the lower right
side of the page there is a link to "CDF Support: Hurricane disasters of
hope this helps you with your report.
<cracking up> <rolling on floor> Are you mocking Mellie???
You said... "You guys rock. Mellie too. <batting her eyes, blushing,
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...
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
I have found some valuable information on this site. It has been especially
helpful in gaining insight into the different issues that wildland
Any additional information would be appreciated.
J.D. (the student JD)
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.
If you can get the data, I can crunch it and display it any which way you
Still Out There as an AD
Here's a link to the USDA OIG audit report on Forest Service Firefighting
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.
Cramer Fire. Ab.
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
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
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.
You suck. Just kidding, I was just testing the new policy. You guys rock.
Mellie too. <batting her eyes, blushing, shucks, gawrsh>
HAW HAW... Ab.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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?
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.
"Senators fear cuts will harm ability to fight Southwest
For all you old time jumpers out there, I am sad to report that Dick Tracy
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
Redding. A good man.
Redding SMKJ Loft Manager
Condolences... Could you please let us know
about services? Ab.
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
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
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
HAW HAW. Excellent closing one liner!!! Ab.
Thanks for the most comprehensive update regarding the ADFA.
Well done, and now we must fill the glass to the top!
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
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
Graveside services will be held for Joe Ely on Saturday, April 8,
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
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.
Readers, you may contribute to the fund by sending a tax-deductible donation
made out to the Paul Gleason Wildland Fire Scholarship Fund to:
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
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
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.
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
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
full?" says it all.
Depending upon the way you look at the world, ADFA has either
"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
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
Three years. March of this year is the anniversary date of when I came
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
and 239 are ADs who are retired from the fire service (federal, state,
- We have many "sympathetic" non-members, including ADs that do not
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
the AD firefighter and support ADFA's goals.
- We have a set of Bylaws, are incorporated in the State of Idaho, are
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
to counter-act the 2005 AD Rate Proposal in which most positions were
$2-$7 an hour. We feel that ADFA, along with agency folks who saw the
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
- We have established a good relationship with Senator Larry Craig's
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
Members and 50 State Governors, along with your individual, personal
to your elected representatives. These staffs are aware of the issues,
including pay inequality and non-standard treatment of ADs. ADFA has
waiting for the release of the 2006 rates to determine our course of
with the legislative representatives. Senator Craig's staff person was
particularly interested in the OPM Review the agencies had requested of
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
with which we strongly disagree.
- The 2006 AD Rate Schedule has modest increases for many positions,
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).
feel that ADFA, in emphasizing the experience base of ADs, was
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
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
number of years since any type of increase was authorized).
- ADFA is pursuing access to the rating/ranking work for each AD
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
Region 8 of the USFS was a test bed for non-fire contracting to replace
agency Katrina logistics/planning teams, and several companies currently
- ADFA joined the National Wildfire Suppression Association (NWSA),
envisioning that we and this body could be useful to one another and
Chair, AD Firefighters Association
- The agencies continue to utilize an outdated, outmoded vehicle, the
AD Pay Authority, to hire supplementary emergency personnel in the 21st
century. With no overtime included for ADs under this Authority, the
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
meet our goal of "Fair Pay For Work Performed."
- Certain elements within the agencies are highly resistant to
of personal services. We believe several fire management groups
Geographic Area Coordinating Groups would like to go to this mechanism
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
- Maintaining a Board of Directors in a volunteer organization.
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
- Maintaining a membership that does not get discouraged by actual or
perceived lack of progress.
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.
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
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
God Bless to you all and Please be safe
Steve and Jodi
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
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
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
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,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Land Management Agency Housing Improvement Act
SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.
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
SEC. 3. EMPLOYEE HOUSING.
(a)(1) To promote the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel
necessary for the effective management of public lands, the Secretaries are
(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
(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
SEC. 4. SURVEY OF RENTAL QUARTERS.
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.
SEC. 5. SECONDARY QUARTERS.
(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
(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.
SEC. 6. SURVEY OF EXISTING FACILITIES.
(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
SEC. 7. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to
carry out this Act.
Here's the National Federation of Federal Employees' letter to Mark Rey on
Date: March 27, 2006
To: Mark Rey, Undersecretary of Agriculture
From: Bill Dougan, President NFFE
Subject: Competitive Sourcing Study Proposed For Fire and Aviation
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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 &
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
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.
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.
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.
I want to say "Thank You" to John Maclean. for his apology regarding
rumor spread about Heath and Allen. I hope their folks are still observing
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
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Sincerely, John Norman Maclean
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
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
- summary and reiteration of the few most important points, aka "the take
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
- 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,
- Possibly also the reasons why fire managers should consider getting
professional liability insurance or at least enough information so they
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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:
- There are no new ways to get in trouble
- There's always a better way to stay out of trouble
- Things that go wrong in life are predictable, predictable
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
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.
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.
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
For the guy who wanted a red bag list.
Please send my thanks to everyone who has answered with contacts in
the other regions. I really appreciate their rapid replies and help.
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
Thanks, hope to be watching over some of you during the 2006 season.
This Ab will write in...
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
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.
USDA Forest Service
USDA Forest Service Avian Influenza Bulletin #1
Does anyone have a copy of the Influenza Workforce Protection Plan
he mentions? Ab.
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
- 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
HAW HAW Ab.
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
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
Did you look on the
page. There's a list there. Ab.
Re: Marcia's letter to Ray and Ed,
"On the HR Director's conference call we were informed that the Chief
asked the WO HR office to pull together a team to review the
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
conducted in Region 3. Given the broad impact if the decision were
implemented agencywide, the team will be looking at this one more time
ensure that all options are considered."
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
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.
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.
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
After the smoke had cleared I found out that we had almost driven
ditch, which would have gotten us in front of the fire.
Better safe then sorry.
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
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.
Please let Lobotomy know thanks very much for the offer to share his
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
I found what I was looking for there.
As an aside, I find it somewhat strange that there isn't any sort of
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.
up the good work Ab!
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
Hey, I'm involved in training with our department (Manitoba Conservation
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
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.
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
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.
Chair, AD Firefighters Association
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.
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.
next day called for strong gusts but it was generally felt this fire was
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
I always say it is a poor day when I don't learn something new.
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.
Re: The GS-8 Engine Classification Audit
Ab-- Here are some relevant quotes from NorCal Tom's link on 3/15: (I
and added bold for emphasis). Harv Forsgren is a leader I would want to know
> 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
"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
"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
"Much as the southern California complexities are considered
applicable across all of California the same complexities now exist
"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
"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."
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
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?
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
to save $$'s?
AND what was the first thing I learned in BASIC Air Operations taught by the
AIR RESOURCES ARE TO BE USED TO SUPPORT THE GROUND TROOPS.
AIR RESOURCES DO NOT PUT OUT FIRES....
GROUND TROOPS (Engines & Crews) DO!!!
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
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
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
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.
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
Later and be safe
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.
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
Class C Sagebrush Faller
OK, Readers, can we quit with <snip>? 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.
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,
FIRELINE SUPERVISION.....ie SAFETY.
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!
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Original Ab and Ab.
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
“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)
(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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
Print this one off and send it to your family members, friends,
and to your Safety Officers. Ab.
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!!!
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
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.
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,
Thanks in advance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is our new logo for your website, art work done by
Gabe Wishart, Union
IHC, Sr. FFTR.
Nice. I'll post the bigger one on the logos page when I have time. Ab.
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.
Keep everything. I have witnessed one lawsuit and been part of desk audits
In the lawsuit a lot of pertinent files and documents disappeared. The only
existence were the ones that the individual doing the suing had in their own
files. That made the difference in the case.
For the desk audit the paperwork showing the responsibilities and mandatory
and training made the difference. The papers for the position didn't show
papers for the personnel did.
I hope that helps.
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
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.
from the NIFC site
from the CDF site
lots of info...
I wondering if anyone can direct me to a written source (or website)
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.
Readers, can you help Marty out? Ab.
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
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
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
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
Aerial firefighting pioneer Joe Ely dies in Chico at age 94
The man credited with giving birth to modern aerial firefighting died Monday
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.
Fire Apparatus Engineer- MVU, CDF
Thanks Matt. Our condolences to all.
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,
(thumbnail only); plaque
For anyone interested, here are some links to help with the GS-8 Engine
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."
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.
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
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>
Ab, could you post the following document regarding the GS-8 Engine Captains
File Code: 6150-1 Date: March 17, 2006
Route To: (5100)
Subject: Classification of Engine Captains
To: Regional Foresters
OPTIONAL REPLY DUE MARCH 29, 2006
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
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
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 email@example.com
or to Kathleen D. Burgers, Director, Human Capital Management, at (703)
605-4532 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
/s/ Jacque Myers (for): /s/ Kent Connaughton (for):
HANK KASHDAN JAMES E. HUBBARD
Deputy Chief for Business Operations Deputy Chief, State and Private
cc: Michael Bunten
pdl wo OPS HRM class officers
pdl wo OPS HRM employment officers
pdl wo OPS HRM personnel officers
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
We appreciate everyone pulling together to help these firefighters.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
when i started, my shot supt was a gs-7 seasonal. how
many shot supts are 7 seasonals now? i'll give you a
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.
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
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....
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.
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...
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
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
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
Just ignore the old retired guy. He got his. What does he care?
Lead, follow, or get out of the way... My 2 cents.
You seem to concentrate on only one thing. Try looking at the big (bigger)
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
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
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?
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!
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!
A few thoughts
If your boots cost more than your wife's wedding ring, you may be a
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.
Anybody have any information on the MAFFS activation?
Seems odd given the time of year and preparedness level.
Still Out there as an AD
lets all go to in and out soon.. love the food
steve aka ncbrush6
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.
North Florida Fire Services
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Black - Theres an In & Out on Overland in Boise just past the USDA
offices, and the overland theatre, unfortunately they arent hiring.
later - eric
A heads-up for interested folks: the group Women in the Fire Service is
Leadership Seminar in Phoenix on April 7-9. Presentations cover topics in
wildland and structural firefighting and many issues held in common. More
at their website, www.wfsi.org.
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
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
The discussion regarding the helitack foreman and oversight has raised a
couple of salient points which require some thought.
- If the foreman is not directly responsible for his crewmembers, who
- 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
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?
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
Nerd on the Fireline
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.
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
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.
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
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
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:
International Association of Wildland Fire
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?
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
a fire program that has recruitment and retention problems?
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??
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.
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
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....
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
What happened to the Hot list? I don't think I will be able to live without
We're working with the isp to get it back up. As some of
you are pointing out, chat is out too. Ab.
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
Again, my heart felt feelings go out to the families.
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.
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
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.
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.
gone that route ab, that's how i found out what his
ClassC and Toolshed:
After inquiring of experts and a lot of research, I never could find
in writing which places safety responsibility on a helibase manager or
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
do so effectively from a distance. Nor is it in writing designating anyone
in particular for this supervisory task. Seems to be a hole in our
structure unless someone takes the initiative to get such a crew truly
into the operation with an assigned supervisor who can confirm LCES is in
place and keep it in place in a dynamic manner.
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
The Jobs Page and
Series 0462 (Forestry Technician)
& Series 0455 (Range Technician)
jobs pages and Series 0401
(Biologist) are updated.
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.
"We" in this particular situation is spelled WO
"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,
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
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
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
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.
It may well be that the lessons learned from the Cramer Fire saved the lives
who deployed at H-4 during the Nuttall Complex blowup in 2004, in which
participants in the After Action Review noted that "LCES Worked".
I agree. Ab.
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
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
The WLF2 website which hosts the Chat and News Page is
once again available. OA.
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR FIRE CAPTAIN PAT HENRY
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)
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.
Our best to Patrick Henry's family and friends. May he rest in peace.
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.
On the Mist blowers, yeah, we use them all the time in SHORT grass.
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.....
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.
Some pretty interesting internal e-mail discussions going on regarding the
Captains Classification Audit. Those discussions should be heard "on the
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
Maybe I'm foolish enough to think that's a good plan. There is nothing
false in our claims of improving firefighter safety.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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?
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
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
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).
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.
Firestormers Wildfire Suppression has an open engine boss position.
See the details on the Jobs Page. OA
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Take care and look up out there,
Tathra rural fire brigade.
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.
I don't see an inconsistency between being respectful to the parents while
a more complete disclosure of the circumstances that led to their sons'
There is nothing in our Cramer FOIA request or appeal pending at the WO that
perpetuates rumor or slanders the memory of the deceased.
The Alaska Fire Service has a couple of GS 7/8 Fire Specialists
career/seasonal openings being advertised on the Jobs
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:
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.
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.
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
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.
fire rips when the winds are up. Be safe.
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
lots of resources moving around.
Does anyone know where the "official" ok for using la sportiva's is
Also if there is a first hand account from anyone talking about their
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.
I have a question about different agencies, and budgets affecting crews,
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
Run and Gun...
Have you been out on any assignments this year? If not,
your status is probably set at unavailable in ROSS....
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.
ABC is now responsibly addressing how you can prepare for the bird flu
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Want the call to go|
I have been available for over a week here in R6 TFLD/STEN
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
||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
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"
Texas wildfires leave seven dead
Blazes race across half a million acres, burning houses, cattle
||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.
||A friend of mine was an Air Force officer and he said that when they
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?
"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
Multiply that by “all of you” and I think we will be able to get our
At the point the reductions are confirmed, it is too late for corrective
Sign me.... Better proactive than reactive
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.
I wonder when Fed employees
will face the same charges? Not!!
I guess the question would be what "table 4" says..... and I've seen it.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
>From the Washington Times:
"Gale A. Norton, the first female secretary of the interior,
announced she is stepping down from her Cabinet post after more than
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)
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.
Squeak trees, now there's a good 'un. Ab.
MW, V, DC, ETC
From the Rx-300 class the book answer for accountability
(which I think is pretty good) is:
- Do you have a plan?
- Is it a good plan?
- 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.
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
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
Hope that helps more than it confuses.
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.
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.
My best wishes for their healing. Ab.
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.
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.
Ab and all
You aware that Gale Norton is stepping down?
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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).
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
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 ¼ 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
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
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 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
firstname.lastname@example.org or FWFSAlobby@aol.com.
Thanks in advance.
The things to think about, as far as crew carriers are concerned,
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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”
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.
bummed and broke
Two more very nice Type 6 wildland engines are looking for new owners on the
Classified Page under Heavy Equipment!
The Pike Hotshots of Colorado and the Sawtooth Hotshots in
Idaho both use big SUVs (Suburbans?) instead of buggies.
Unsigned... Dude, Dude, Dude, Dude, Dude... <little Madonna smile><slow
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
- The Hispanic Settlement Agreement folks will continue to feel the FS
is doing its best. We certainly provide the cover on that legal
- 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!>
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
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.
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
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
Document (2.6 M)
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.
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.
USDA Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
I have learned that the 40 Engines being cut that everyone is talking about,
be true. There are 40 Engine modules that do not have module leaders as of
because of hiring issues and they are on a list until the hiring is done. I
the panic button yet.
In R-5 it's business as usual, keep up the deficit spending. I would be
what is going to be happening next year. I hope I hear from CDF soon......
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
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
It is time for us to get ready to fight fire with what ever resources we
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
the season, pack test, equip, etc.
The Old Man of The Dept
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,
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
I am looking for information on shot crews that are NOT running crew
for transport. If anyone knows of crews running trucks, suburban or other
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
camp on what type of vehicles we should go with. Any assistance would
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
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....
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
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.
Chertoff on Bird Flu.
He expects it to come to the US via migratory birds within the next 3
Click on the flight path video clip. In his brief talk he says the USDA
knows how and will take care of it.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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"
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.
Check out this website about outsourcing.
Forest Service Eyes Outsourcing Two-Thirds Of Workforce
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 email@example.com or
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
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
• 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.
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.
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
To backtrack, this is the statement from Viejo that triggered my original
“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.
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,
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.
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.
Lets get those letters coming in from all over the US. Ab.
Congratulations on your retirement. Since your service would seem to expand
through four decades, can you give some facts instead of just your opinions?
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
Redmond Smokejumper Program Manager
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"...
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>
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
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 ½ 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
gone out of business. If this is a bad year, there may not be enough
left to fill the ever increasing void either. This may be one he** of a
Please sign me,
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
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
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
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?
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 Safety Case Studies
and special presentations by:
-CDF Chief John Hawkins:
"An IC's Perspective on the Cedar Fire"
-USFS Safety Chief Ed Hollenshead:
-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:
International Association of Wildland Fire
Sounds like a good one. Ab.
I have found that irrigation and goats work better for Star Thistle
eradication than burning. viejo
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
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.
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...
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).
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
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
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
Someone wanted more info on burning star thistle. This is
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
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
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
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.
the problem of smoke inhalation has been identified and is reflected in the
that the minimum retirement age for firefighters is 50 as opposed to 62 or
for other Fed workers, if you don't like the rigors, hazards adn risks , get
at Home Depot
Budget Cuts....yea it is a problem...BLM cut 5 Helicopters this year.....
know where your firefighting money is going??????? it is spelled Iraq and
Afganistan, don't like it...shudda voted him out.......
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.
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?
I certainly don't want to make this an "us vs. them" discussion, and I am
trying to assign blame. But....
As for hypothetical prescribed fire #2 in your last post: We need to stop
needless loss of important cultural resources, such as the house of
you mentioned. What a waste!!!
Agency people need to write the local VFD's into the burn plans. I could
had a structure protection crew at this business from the start of the
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.
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
Todd from NorCal
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Bingaman Raises Concerns About Proposed Cuts to Forest Services Preparedness
703 Hart Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
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
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?
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.
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.
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??
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
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 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 ¾ 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?
Ab here's something more of interest from the National Fire Plan
From the National Fire Plan Site:
"...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:
- Assuring that necessary firefighting resources and personnel are
available to respond to wildland fires that threaten lives and
- Conducting emergency stabilization and rehabilitation activities
on landscapes and communities affected by wildland fire
- 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
- Providing assistance to communities that have been or may be
threatened by wildland fire
- Committing to the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, an
interagency team created to set and maintain high standards for
wildland fire management on public lands."
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
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."
My opinion on that: BUDGET CUT AND BEING MISDIRECTED
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
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
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
My opinion on that: BUNCH OF BUREAUCRATS WHO HAVE FAILED TO ENSURE THE INTENT
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
Nor Cal Tom
Let’s talk sometime. I spent much of the Yellowstone fires as a line medic
I saw some pretty funky stuff in what one would expect to be normally
individuals during the daily 12-hour inversions on the North Fork fire.
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.
“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
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.”
“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
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
Don’t even get me going on the Pack Test and why firefighters keep dying
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
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
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
This link might help you to perform some self evaluation before commenting
on the competency of people who you may or may not know.
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
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.
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
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
There some helitack positions open for the jumpers that didn;t
Here are some of the people that should be contacted by the press and
politicians as to why they haven't fulfilled their contract (memorandum of
Congress and the American people:
Just a heads up. Now house cats in Germany and Austria are
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
like to see. In studies done in the lab, cats were injected with the virus,
to eat infected meat and healthy cats were housed with infected cats. All cats
It appears the virus transmits cat to cat in addition to bird to cat shown
Asia where hundreds of large cats died in a game preserve. Will will the
transmit cat to human and human to human to go pandemic soon is the
Please put some extra food and water, and vitamins aside for your
your doc to prescribe you a small stock of Rx meds.
Love you all.
FluTrackers.com for up to date birdflu info.
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
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
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
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
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
The vacancies are not considered as part of the "unfunded" positions. As
understand it, Region 5 is committed to fill all of its fire positions. The
you are seeing are open continuous rosters and positions being advertised at
the GS-7+ level when no open continuous roster exists.
HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES - UNITED STATES
SENATE - Forest Service FY2006 Budget Request - March 2, 2005
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
"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.
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
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.
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.
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"
understand is something that needs to be removed from the Forest Service
And from the CDF culture and from the ODF culture, etc. Ab.
Well, duh... on the investigation, the prescriptions, the checklists, etc.
preaching to the choir here, viejo. The investigation is proceeding as it
does, taking everything into consideration.
PS:: Ab, I know we're not supposed to get into personalities, but if you
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.
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.
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.
Info. for AV's request of 3/4:
JG Industries, Inc.
4045 B Street
Mayaguez, PR 00682
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
is accepting donations in Steve's name.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
"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.
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,
“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 ½ million dollars, where did the rest of the money go?
R5 Engine Slug
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
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
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
Re: Health Hazards
GAO Report - September 11:
Monitoring of World Trade Center Health Effects Has Progressed,
but Program for Federal Responders Lags Behind.
www.gao.gov/highlights/d06150high.pdf (pdf file)
www.gao.gov/new.items/d06481t.pdf (pdf file)
I was wondering if anyone had contact info for "J G Industries" I have a
of the nomex Kevlars and need a new pair and wanted to see what they had
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.
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
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
Thanks Casey.... Don't hold punches... ODF needs portal to portal pay.
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
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.
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
Everyone, please keep up with the spread of birdflu around
the globe. Some of my professional med friends do a fine job reporting here:
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.
Here are the two reports associated with the dozer accident in TX. Both
information that may be subject to change pending further investigation.
Texas Dozer Accident Initial &
How is the person doing? Ab.
I carry a Ruffian pack and I'm not a sawyer anymore, so here's what
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
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?
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
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
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.
Redmond Smokejumper Program Manager
Thanks Bill for stepping up publicly. Posters who are interested in
this, here's your contact info. Ab.
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
Ray said something like "You can know what your future
you define it." There was more. They must have videotaped it.
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,
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.
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
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
If anyone can help to make this be known, it would be appreciated.
Governor of Arizona by snail-mail or email.
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.
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
Awarded by the R5 Division Chiefs to one of their own.
That Chief Officers Meeting (Changing Faces of the Forest Service
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
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.
- Thinking can go bad when you're dehydrated. (reminded me of discussion
- 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
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
Awards, added it. Ab.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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:
There is some debate out there.
Define what it means to "Fight Fire Aggressively". Who does fight fire
aggressively? Who does not?
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
||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.
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
Word on the street
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.
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.
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
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
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.