April, 2006

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4/28 Old Sawyer, some good finds.

Baruch Fischoff did that seminal work on hindsight bias in the mid 70's, before the phrase "Monday morning quarterbacking" was introduced into common parlance. In my opinion some of the research in hindsight bias has implications for Commanders Intent vs long lists of Rules (like where did all those rules come from anyway?).

I'm busy on other things right now, but interested in the topic. Baruch is still at Carnegie Mellon U (I assume since he was in January) if you have specific questions you'd like answered. Could be worth a phone call?


4/28 LCES in emergency situations -- All Risk...

Communication is Key. Information is Key.

On incidents, firefighters on the ground and the incident management teams rely on Radios; Washington and those in cities rely on Blackberries. Neither rely on the internet. Power may be down. The internet in a very large disaster (pandemic flu) could be overwhelmed. On Katrina, having a GPS unit was of more value than any map, since street signs were down and you couldn't tell where you were anyway. Communication was lacking for the first days in New Orleans after the levees broke. Those of you who were there know the chaos and lawlessness that occurred. (Thank you for your service.)

How many of you know about GETS, the Government Emergency Telephone System? If you don't, you should! The FWS knows, what about the rest of you? I heard some got clued in during Katrina... GETS allows your emergency call to take priority over other calls --from anxious people clogging the phone system when large scale emergencies like 9/11 (or pandemic flu?) happen.

So what's needed to support GETS?

Whatever phone system you have, you should make sure that that system has wireless priority service contracts. Verison does; it's a WPS carrier. I don't know about others. Get your IMT and your regional head honchos to find such a carrier. Make it your carrier. Then apply for a GETS card. I believe getting a GETS card requires some sort of security clearance. I do not know the process. I think the extra phone charge added to your bill from the carrier is something like $5 per month.

Many of you will point out that the places we fight fire do not get a clear wireless signal. That's true, but we need to have everything possible going for us in an emergency. All Risk is a reality. Communication is KEY.

Question for dispatchers: How do you dispatch if the internet goes down -- say even locally?


4/27 I was sitting on my porch wondering whether it was humanly possible to judge a past event in real time without the bias of knowing the outcome. I decided to Google the question and ran across an article which involved empirical studies, and concludes it is not possible, and that we are not even aware of how seriously our knowledge of the outcome of an event affects our conclusions:


Old Sawyer

p.s. here is an Abstract of the article on hindsight.

p.s.s. another article on hindsight bias dealing with causal factors:

4/27 Hannah and BB, thanks for the great post and some very valid points.

To anyone applying to a fire position through AVUE, here's a few tips.

Attach Any supporting document you might have. Course Certificates, a full resume, a current and complete copy of college transcripts, etc.

When filling out job experience, put all jobs you've held, not just fire positions. In the description section, write down what you did and how long you did it.

Also, when entering seasonal positions, put in your starting date with Month, Day and Year and put in the last day you worked with Month, Day and Year.

Enter each year of employment as a separate job entry. If you put down you were a seasonal on a shot crew for 3 seasons and show a starting date of 5/1/2000 and an ending date of 11/1/2002, this will create issues for HR when they go to classify your GS rating for time in grade. AVUE shows the full amount of time between 5/1/2000 and 11/1/2002, but you only worked your 1039 hours each season.

4/27 Good morning All,

Last year we all had a magnificent time helping with or participating in

Ken Perry's 52 mile Ultra Run

to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

This year Ken and friends are running 104 miles in a day and night operation. Wow!
Can we stay online to cover it??? You bet!

Ken Perry's 104 mile Ultra Run

Today we're gearing up the web and pledge portion of the festivities and streamlining the online fund-raising associated with the event.

Here's the first part, the Ken Perry Ultra Run Pledge Page created by Original Ab.

The goal this year is $250,000. Seems like a lot, but we're soliciting large business support. Hopefully ultra-sized, large, and smaller donations combined will get us to the goal! If anyone has ideas or suggestions for who to approach for corporate or business donations, please let Melissa know your fundraising ideas. She's already entered some early pledges online to kick off the list.

Some of you may want a pledge form that you can email to friends, family, and fire gear suppliers or that you can print out to share or post in your communities. Here's a very nice,1-page pledge sheet with Ken's finish photo on it: hardcopy pdf  Pledge Page.

Have at it, Community! Tell your friends and contacts. WhoooWhooo!

More pages will be coming online soon. Stay tuned.


4/27 From South Africa:

Hi there to Nate R

Read your e-mail on the web site. glad to hear of someone who has been to RSA and has seen first hand how we fight fires and the pay that some of the guys get. Saw Nigel Wessels today at his base camp (Cape Nature Conservation - Witfontein), will send him your regards on 01/05/06 when i go there to train some of his crew. As you mentioned the Working On Fire Crew only get paid about $7 a day which is below minimum wage, even to our standards. Fortunately for me, i get more than that but thats not my point. These guys at WOF either spend their entire day fighting bush fires using bush beaters or make fire breaks along our many reserves in the Southern Cape. They definitely deserve more pay!!! Fortunately for firefighters like myself, they are not into it so much for the money but for the passion of it. I have always believed that a true firefighter does his occupation for the love of it because fire pumps through our blood. In RSA money is always a problem and i take my helmet off to the guys and girls who do firefighting as volunteers for peanuts. I worked as a volunteer for 4 years earning R2.00 a hour. WHY ? because i was born to be a fire fighter.

Nate R....Keep in touch.

Wayne Young

4/27 My thoughts on AVUE,

Hannah's post hit the nail on the head in many ways, kudos to her!

She has a very good handle on the 'question driven' vs. 'keyword' concept of rating an application (among other good points).

While I do not intend to debate the merits of these separate strategies I would point out that 'keyword' driven programs have inherent problems as well, such as savvy applicants loading their apps with said keywords.

What I learned in a recent session presented by a very capable AVUE employee is that our HR folks could edit those arcane questions on which potential applicants make the cut, or do not. Apparently, according to an HR person in the class, or agency's HR personnel are not willing or have been precluded for doing so.

This exacerbates the problem with the software, as Hannah pointed out, since some of the questions have little to do with what we actually do. As both an applicant and a Recommending Official I have been very puzzled by the wording and meaning of the KSA questions. Her point that lumping us (FFs) with Forestry Technicians is spot on, as the content comes straight from OPM. (Don't get me started on OPM, and their apparent disdain for Forest Service personnel, especially FFs!)

It gets even worse on Demo apps, I had AVUE tell me that a GS-3 with 2 years experience on an AD crew was qualified for a GS-9 Helitack Superintendent! Why? because the applicant clicked the right buttons, I guess.

So, what is my point? AVUE has many problems, but we (the FS) share some of the blame. I certainly do not expect our beleaguered HR department to shoulder the load, especially when they are getting the rug pulled out from under them. I would hope we have/had some leadership that was capable of realizing the problem and stepping up with a solution!

Alas, I am running out of hope.

4/27 I was wondering if there was any forest out there who's line officers do not let them transport sa gas in a Dolmar. On the forest I work on are rangers tell us we cannot transport using dolmars; we have to use safety cans then if we want we can fill the dolmar and take it to the field. I have read the red book standard and its seems as though dolmars are ok in there.

4/27 Showing my age, of course but I have been following some of the angst about the current application process (which I have never used) and wonder how much it differs from the old system: a paper SF-171 that was submitted to either local, regional, or national offices. This system was notorious for fraud as anyone could put anything down on the "experience" section and the initial screening was done by clerical staff that had no firefighting experience. It was not unusual to have new hires for GS-5/6 positions with no prior fire experience, but had been offered supervisory positions because of experience listed as "fireman" in the Navy, "apparatus operator" with security companies, etc. Also, the first several years I filled out SF-171's, they had several questions of the following ilk: "Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the communist party"...times have changed, sure

Joe Hill
4/26 Thanks for responses on Barracks and AVUE all.

It seems our hiring process is compounded this year by physicals and AVUE malfunctions, leading us to a 3 month process to find seasonals and pick them up before someone else does. As of today, we still have to hire 2 more folks, and our season "officially" starts on Monday, the 1st of May (even though we've had fires and have been in and out of severity since Jan 9).

As for Barracks Maintenance, I know our facilities funds have been depleted this year and most of the current Building maintenance is coming out of our project dollars. The barracks I have in question was Brand new in 2002. It was a modular style construction (not a mobile home, just walls and such trucked in pieces) and apparently when it was put together the contractor ran a water connection outside of the insulation into the attic, then back down into the wall. A very cold spell over the winter (when the barracks occupants left for Christmas) froze the pipe, it burst and water ran for 2 weeks before anyone returned. Long story short - Mold on every surface, all flooring and furniture ruined, and the building was locked up due to VERY HIGH mold counts. Mold Mititgation efforts have expended our budget, we have emergency housing in a few older homes and are trying every effort to figure out some funding to clean and rebuild the barracks.

4/26 Couple of thoughts about the Forest Service and AVUE….

I lost ten hours of work this year (with one mis-click) on AVUE and I share in the frustrations and criticisms of the system. After controlling my temper, I spoke with some over-burdened HR specialists. Although they offered a few words of advice on how they qualify applicants, their knowledge on the system was limited… so I spent some time doing research on automated hiring systems. I want to suggest that although the Forest Service may end up going with another system (and I’ve heard that AVUE may not even bid when their contract is up), I think it will be a benefit to us all.

Although the thought of a worse system is painful, the Forest Service isn’t exactly known for staying up with the times. Frankly, in the periphery of this issue may be an opportunity that we would like to see – the Forest Service utilizing progressive technology by being forced to consider new contracts. This, as opposed to sticking with an ineffective system that won’t be held to the changing hiring standards and trends – and getting stuck with it for several more years while technology flies right on by (per usual).

Most of the private industries using automated hiring systems are using “keyword” driven systems (as are other federal agencies including the Department of Defense). For instance, the expansive job networking site Monster.com uses a “keyword” based system. On the other hand, AVUE and Quickhire (BLM) are “question” driven systems.

“Question” driven systems like AVUE, in my opinion, are excruciatingly limiting – and because of the many variations of job requirements/descriptions (due to the nature of fire itself), it is to the detriment of both the applicant and the hiring officials.…. You know those obscure statements on AVUE that you have to use to rank your experience level? I spent years on ‘shot crews driving crew carriers, running Mark III’s, etc. (skills that transfer beyond hotshotting) but had to rate myself nearly inexperienced for an engine position because I hadn’t specifically “[driven] or operated a fire engine.” This story is not unique.

I’m not going to lie on my application, but it is disheartening to realize that AVUE applications are driven (rated/cut) by these questions and my application could potentially be cut because of the way the question was asked. And how do you qualify/quantify your firefighting experience when they inexplicably asks if you’ve “carried out standard scientific testing, investigative projects” etc.? It leaves much to be desired and the problem of firefighters being lumped into the technician series slaps you in the face once again….

We all know that qualified candidates can do all of the footwork and networking necessary to land a position but if AVUE cuts the app. (for whatever reason), it is all for naught. Additionally, there are highly competitive applicants out there that are not computer savvy who are being lost because of the complex navigation that AVUE requires.

It’s not that “question driven” systems don’t work – because they do meet the need to hire objectively. However, we’ve witnessed that AVUE doesn’t meet the unique needs of the Forest Service’s influx of seasonal hires (and other positions). The truth of the matter is this: the private industry is going to dictate the direction of the automated hiring technology. The Forest Service will have the opportunity to respond appropriately upon the completion of AVUE’s contract.

I personally would prefer that the Forest Service stays inline with the direction in which the technology is moving – and every indication is that “keyword” driven systems are successful and will continue to be rapidly developed. I would bet that the bids by companies developing “keyword” driven systems will be competitive and that we will see more and more federal agencies continue to adopt them. I hope that the Forest Service joins that trend.

I may be wrong in my forecast, but I would rather tolerate the bugs in a new system if it meant knowing that I was learning skills to market myself that would transfer beyond the skills needed to navigate some obscure, archaic Forest Service hiring system. In other words, I don’t want to be painted into a corner when my job is outsourced, cut due to funding, or no longer leaves room for advancement – I want to know that the application/resume that I’ve worked hard to develop can be used across the industry…federal, state or private.

Thanks for posting this – despite the length!

4/26 Readers:

We've updated the WildWeb map in the News Page area to include 6 additional dispatch centers.  We appreciate these dispatch centers who recognize the value of providing quick and current information to the interested folks in their area. There are also several benefits to the dispatch offices which pertain to significantly reducing the number of redundant phone calls.  With the proper WildCad entries, resources and other agencies can then obtain necessary information such as incident dates, names, incident numbers, management codes, etc., all without needing to personally call and speak to a dispatcher.

Two specific examples come to mind I know the long time WildWeb users are aware of.  One example is a heavy dispatch to a false alarm or other IA which can easily generate 20+ phone calls afterwards.  Another example is the day timesheets are due and everyone's looking for management codes.  With a little positive reinforcement, a majority of the callers can easily learn to find the info on their own.

Here are the new centers we're aware of and have added today:

  • Arizona Interagency Fire Center
  • Central Idaho Dispatch
  • Payette Dispatch Center
  • Northeast Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center
  • Burns Interagency Dispatch Center
  • Uintah Basin Interagency Fire Center
Thanks to our readers for bringing them to our attention. 


Thanks OA for doing that. It's a lot of work I know.

Readers, we'll be updating the links for the Type I and Type II Team Pages and GACCs as much as possible this weekend. I've received updated team information for Region 6 Type II teams. If you have info for links to teams in other regions and/or IC and DIC, please send them in. After that we'll work on updating the Links Page.

Spring Cleaning... Ab.

4/26 Thanks also to Roy for bringing Firefighter Brands to the R4 Team meetings.


4/26 Old Guy,

AVUE's contract is up in less than a year. I can only imagine that the Forest Service, in their infinite wisdom, will use some other system that will be 10 times worse! I haven't seen much lately that gives me any hope that they will do what is best (and easiest) for everyone, employees and public alike. I can't tell you how many times I have heard from the public "What's a grade and series?". Very user unfriendly!

Still Hoping

4/25 I wanted to drop a line to thank Roy Locklear from Firefighter Brands
for bringing the EMS Hydro to the Del Rosa Hotshot 60th Year Reunion.

Thanks Roy!!!

4/25 I know several people who have had problems with AVUE. After applying, AVUE determined that they were not qualified for the position, when in fact they were, and in one case, probably even over-qualified. Human Resources verified that they were qualified and had them try changing some info on AVUE to see if that changed anything, but still were not able to apply. In one instance I think it had to do with the fact that the applicant was applying for a GS-8, had no college education, but had 15 years of fire experience. They were told that since AVUE sorted them out and the position was being flown through AVUE, they could not apply at all, sorry, you’re SOL.

Sign me

The FS better step it up, or they’re gonna be SOL
4/25 Unless some major changes have taken place the maintenance and upkeep of
Forest Service residences & bunkhouses is to be done with the rent money
collected from occupants. This money is collected and put into a Forest pot to
be used as needed. This info is in the Forest Service manual (Building Maintenance)
at least thats the way it used to be ?


4/25 I'm hearing the rumor that AVUE might not be used by the FS in the near
future......too many problems.

Old Fire Guy
4/24 Dear ME:

The FWFSA has been (this isn't going to be politically correct I don't think) hounded by AVUE over the past couple of months. Their rep (seems like she is working on commissions) wants us to utilize their HR software to manage our membership. She touted their relationship with the Forest Service... maybe now I know why.

I'd be delighted to receive additional information on the problems you may be encountering with them. You can email me at FWFSAlobby@aol.com if you like.

With respect to housing... Too bad the FS didn't take the same route the Park Service did a few years ago with respect to housing. Of course now the Park Service has a lot of nice buildings but no one to fill them.

If the structures you are referring to have truly been determined to be unfit for habitation (by someone other than the crew that uses the facility), there is a lot that can be done. I would assume if you're on a National Forest your Forest Supervisor is aware of the housing problems which, I trust have been properly documented?

If so what is her/his response or plan? Is the regional Forester aware of the issue? When I visited former R5 Regional Forester Jack Blackwell, he sought our assistance with housing issues with congress. Unfortunately he spoiled that possible relationship.

Has OSHA performed an inspection and made a report? Lots of things need to be done in documenting the situation but that documentation allows for a more expedient response from those that can help fix the problem. I'm simply speaking from experience, not promising a new multi-million dollar structure... Besides haven't you heard, the Forest Service needs preparedness & suppression money, and likely housing money to pay for other, apparently more important stuff than firefighter staffing, housing etc.

Again, there are ways to address the problem. The FWFSA can't be the proverbial "knight on a white horse" to all issues but if the problems are as severe as you say, I might be able to offer some suggestions.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/24 It's been a while, but my frustrations this week have gotten the best of me and I need to vent.


Who else out there is having issues with AVUE and their GS rating process?

I know we've tried to hire a couple of folks (that's 2 to be exact) who both were on certs at a specific GS level. After making initial offers and having our HR go over the applications and supporting documents, the hires did not qualify at that level.

Seasonal Housing

I know the gov't is self insured and most funding comes from predetermined budgets appropriated at the National, Regional, Forest, and then District levels.

Does anyone know of or has anyone heard of emergency appropriations to fix major problems with barracks (in a mountain community with little or no commercial rentals) that have been deemed uninhabitable due to fire, flood, mold, etc?



4/24 Dear Ab,

I just returned from the Del Rosa Hot Shots' 60th Reunion.

Hot Shots came who fought fires in the 50’s and those guys are still in great shape. The photo albums come out. Lots of laughing and sharing. The barbeque couldn’t have been better.

Mick McCormick MC'd the event. Nice job.

I was touched as they called the older shots up to the front. I could see the pride. They were touched -- their eyes welled up and their throats got raspy -- as they shared their years of service on the Del Rosa Shot crew. It was an honor to be a part of all of it.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Gordon King, survivor of the Loop Fire. It is still very hard at age 73 for him to visit that experience. He shared with me, one of the hardest things for him was lying in the hospital - burned - and wondering how he was going to take care of his family. I got nuggets of gold insights from him to help our injured firefighters...

Those shots and their alumni raised over $7,000 for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. I was relieved, as our funds have been going out pretty fast with Oklahoma and Texas fires.

Back in the office this morning and catching up, I read on the bottom of the Del Rosa check, ' for our fallen brothers and sisters'.

I put the check down to catch up on my voice mail. There was a message, reporting that a volunteer firefighter had died, leaving behind two special needs kids, whom he'd had custody of, and a pregnant significant other… Who would have known the need would come again so fast…

A hard part of my job is to adequately thank donors. Donors never to get to see the faces of the people who receive their contributions. Often unbeknownst to the recipient is the fact that there is a community of firefighting folks who care and have contributed, often to the 52 Club. That recipient's face usually looks at me and says, "Oh give this to someone who needs it more." Our firefighters and their families are hard ones to help... When it sinks in that there is a community of concern, and they should really just accept the support freely given, there is quickly a new look on their face that says, "I can’t believe these firefighters care this much about me and my family…"


Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

I heard the event was a really big success. Gordon is quite a person. Thanks, Vicki, for what you do for us. Hit the link above and join the 52 Club. Support our families. Ab.

4/24 The Arizona Interagency Fire Center is now on-line with wildCAD.
I found it on the south Ops website of California. I believe it just went
up and running this month. Lists incidents as well as almost all Arizona
resource status. This includes state, BLM, USFWS units, overhead,


Thanks AZ. I'll get OA to add it. Ab.





from the Abs at wildlandfire.com

4/22 Maybe you already posted this and I just missed it. Lets all be safe out there.



24-Hour Report of Mark Stanley fatality, Tennessee Division of Forestry


Date of Report: 4/14/06
Location: 7 miles south of Bolivar, TN, east of junction of Sain Road and Lake Hardeman Road, N35.147, W88.972, on private land
Date of Occurrence: 4/13/06
Time of Occurrence: 1235 CDT
Mission: Line construction for Rx burn
Number Injured: None
Number of Fatalities: One

Narrative: During dozer line construction in preparation for a pine understory prescribed burn, Forest Technician Mark Stanley, instructed a dozer to push down a dead snag. Upon engaging with the blade of the dozer the dead red oak, approximately 10” dbh, and 50 feet tall, suddenly broke loose at ground level. Stanley was struck by the falling tree near its tip. The tree had no branches and Stanley who was some distance away, had walked into the path of the falling tree.

An investigation team has been assembled and will begin its investigation today.

Submitted By: John Kirksey, Forest Protection Chief, Tennessee Dept of Agriculture, Division of Forestry

4/22 Hi:

I just stumbled onto your site and am enjoying the photos, etc. I thought you might want to clarify your description of the book “Firestorm at Peshtigo”. You say Peshtigo was a “mining town”. That’s not correct, it was a lumbering town of sawmills, sawdust streets, and lumberjacks. The only mining going on in Wisconsin at that time, 1871, was in the very southwest corner for lead, approximately 250 miles from Peshtigo.

Great site! I previously was a member of a volunteer department and worked on many small wild fires, but also had the opportunity to be at the large fires near Black River Falls, WI in 1977 that burned about 27,000 acres.

Bob Gile
Gordon, WI

Welcome Bob. Thanks. Ab.

4/22 AB;

For clarification purposes JS report is correct except for the reference
to 56 hr. compensation: It should read 53 hr.


4/22 Ab,

Do you suppose the Air Force One graffiti stunt was done on a 747 rented from Evergreen? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12425846/

As far as I can tell, they didn't have any nozzle problems with the paint can, and no firefighters on the ground got hurt.

vfd cap'n
4/22 Stated earlier:

"CDF employees are still some of the lowest paid firefighters in the State
based on base pay salaries."

I guess you do not consider Forest Service personnel as 'firefighters'
(just like our agency).

I applaud the CDF for being able to get such good pay, but I ask you to
consider how fair it is for 'anyone' to retire at more pay than the work for.

sign me,

A lowest paid 'firefighter'
4/22 I think I know of a group of "firefighters" that are lower paid than
CDF firefighters... Any takers??

4/21 AB,

I've been an on-again/off-again reader of They Said for several years, and
have never responded before, so I'm not sure about the whole process.

In response to Wayne from George, South Africa, I visited there (Outeniqua
Nature Reserve) last November and saw firsthand how their fires burn, and
it was impressive. And for all us Americans who are constantly complaining
about our pay, those South African Working on Fire crews earn about the
equivalent of $7 PER DAY, and are happy to get it. I was most impressed
with their crews, overhead, and tactics.

Wayne, keep up the good work, and I'd be glad to correspond directly with
you anytime. And if you see Nigel Wessels anytime soon, say hi for me.

Nate R

This is how you post. Simple. Ab.

4/21 GS-0462-08 Engine Captains position audit

It seems that this topic got very quiet, very quick. Did I miss something in “They Said”,
or is everyone else still waiting for the outcome?

Please sign me

-Waiting for the other shoe to fall

I think the outcome has been decided, but no one is saying yet... Everyone involved had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I think they were afraid of what might get posted here... Ab.

4/21 Contrary to the mistaken belief, CDF did not receive ANY pay raise.

CDF employees at the request of the employer are required to work 72 to 84 hours per week. According to FLSA standards these employees are entitled to overtime compensation for these hours above 56 hours per week. Their base pay remains the same and NO pay raise has been received. They are only being compensated for being FORCED to work additional hours per week.

CDF employees are still some of the lowest paid firefighters in the State based on base pay salaries.


4/21 Hi All,

NorCal Tom, You asked when the R5 Pandemic Response Plan will be final.

Pretty soon. From what I've heard, Forest Safety Officers from across the US are all down at the National Safety Officers Meeting in San Diego. I'm going over the plan now with a fine tooth comb. When they're all home, it's likely we'll put the final touches on it and send the plan on up the foodchain in R5 and on to the WO. (We sent the draft up to the WO safety office for comment earlier and got a few suggestions back, mostly grammatical and formatting... I heard from someone back there in January that they were interested but didn't want to pay for it... Figures...)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Mellie's Tribute to R5 Pandemic Response Planners ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I want to salute Michelle Reugebrink (former Redding SJ and Tahoe NF Safety Officer), Gene Smalley (Six Rivers NF Safety Officer) and Peter Tolosano (R5 FAM Safety Officer) for their work on this. These people are truly Public Servants. We began in January immediately following the R5 Safety Officers' Meeting, at that time having no interest or support from the WO Safety shop.

Michelle has been AMAZING! She's taken all the info and coordinated the effort. I know she worked nights and weekends on it with her positive and focused energy. Smart woman and the backbone of this effort. (Perhaps some of you have seen her professional 60 second safety video messages. Inspired.) In my book, she's awesome. Thanks also to Peter who got the bird flu safety ball rolling last year and has contributed to and reviewed the plan; and thanks to Gene who met with us in Reno to work on the plan and has also gone beyond the call of duty. Consummate professionals all -- Michelle... contributing many hours after hours to get this done. You know how busy everyone is with extra duties. Imagine taking on a project like writing a R5 Pandemic Response Plan in addition to other everyday duties? My hats off to you three. Thank your families for me.

Thanks also to those around R5 who contributed feedback to the rough draft. I don't have your names at the moment, but excellent thoughtful and detailed feedback came from two people on the Shasta Trinity NF, one of whom suggested that wildlandfire.com be used to keep people updated in the face of pandemic. <grin> Thanks also to the Dispatchers Ed Hotalen and Rick Addy on the Six Rivers NF. Since the Dispatchers and LEOs are likely to fill critical pandemic response functions, they (and we) need to figure out how to minimize their risk with a mini-plan aimed at Dispatchers and another aimed at LEOs. We should do this soon.

It's clear that even with a plan for Forests, there need to be more local "Unit" mini-plans (Districts & Forests & Regions around the US, and Functions like Dispatch and LEO and whatever else is essential). We also need IMT plans for an "incident within an incident" if pandemic hits during fire season. NorCalTom as you mentioned, Jeanne Pincha-Tully (CIIMT 3) saw the firecamp need and had two people on her team -- Scott McKenney and Frank Gruhot -- begin work on the physical medical structure and logistics of a firecamp response.

It does my heart good to see this kind of leadership and follow-through. (It was pretty clear to those of us who began the process in January that leadership would have to come from the ground early on.)

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

Pandemic planning that includes fire is also being done by the DOI and the DOA (and Dept Homeland Security: DHS) within the structure of NIMS and the National Response Plan (NRP) ... under the Essential Service Functions (ESFs). Sorry for the alphabet soup... For those who don't know...

NIMS (one-eyed nims =National Incident Management System - national level "all risk") is based on our NIIMS. Within the NRP, the ESF 4 is Firefighting and the USFS is the lead agency on that, but IMTs are asked to assist other lead agencies in support functions on many of the other of the 15 ESFs.

NIIMS (two-eyed niims =National Interagency Incident Management System - federal level fire). It began in CA in the '70s to coordinate wildfires raging across fed/state/county/city jurisdictions. You know, it's the Incident Command System created by wildland firefighters and used for years...

There is a NIMS Integration Center (NIC) located at FEMA in Washington.

Steve Gage is the wildlandfire representative at NIC and the person bringing the components of NIIMS to light and building the strategic direction for and oversight of NIMS and the NRP. [Steve is a fine, intelligent man. He was Deputy IC (CIIMT5) on the Big Bar Complex. photo (Steve in foreground and Hutch (IC) at computer). Later, Steve was IC on CIIMT 3 when the team went to assist at the Pentagon following 9/11... Team photo ... Well I digress...]

Anyway, Steve Gage and other good interagency fire people are working on plans for fire team all-risk incident response in the face of pandemic. Katrina gave us a small taste of what we will be up against when the pandemic hits (perhaps too soon). Response will need to be LOCAL. The Feds (the Prez, Congress, DHS, CDC, etc.) have made it clear pandemic will overwhelm the federal level. We all need to get ready to ride this out: Fire people and R5 FS people are. Communities, schools, hospitals, cities, our FAMILIES, need to plan LOCALLY as well.

So NorCalTom and all, that's the state of affairs as I know it with Wildland Fire and National Forest Pandemic planning.

Thanks to everyone who is working to get ready and working to plan our response at the Forest level and if fire season is already underway.


We plan to stay up and running during any pandemic, allowing all to share information. Ditto on the THANKS. Ab.

4/21 On the subject if preparedness...

I just wanted to say that if any of you have active CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) teams in your neighborhood you should encourage your family and friends to attend the training. It's basic triage, light USAR, basic ICS, and how to respond to an overwhelming disaster. I just took the accelerated course (part online part in class) by San Diego Fire Department and am looking forward to the practical in a couple of weeks. It can help your loved ones be prepared in case you are called to duty, and they may better understand what you do.

Also kudos to the FireCache for carrying nice green helmets- the official CERT color.

FEMA has a CERT course and a bunch of other courses (including ICS 100) that the public can take on-line for free and get an official certificate mailed. They actually are pretty nice and were done in conjunction with the wildland community. www.training.fema.gov/emiweb/IS/is317.asp

I have joined whatever is opposite of the 180 club for now. I have left the BLM and joined the private sector as the Training Manager of a small GIS consulting firm in San Diego contracting with the government. So I figured CERT is a good stop gap to stay connected with the ICS world. I'll miss the fire world but I'll be lurking and it's good to be home with family.

Stay safe,
Victoria Smith- no longer BLMgirl

Victoria, we still expect your participation here. You can't get out of this theysaid fire community as easily as leaving the BLM! We're glad you've made the change that works for you, although it's clearly BLM's loss. Give your mom a hug from us. The Abs.

4/21 Some reflections on comments overheard at the R5 Team meeting last week... FS Regional management wants it both ways I think. Regional overhead was complaining bitterly about fire costs.... some specific comments irked me however about the cost of red Vs. green engines at the Sierra Fire in Orange County.


1. It was a Forest Service fire yet there were only ten green engines on the fire!
  • True! Note to region management: Please do the right thing then and finance for the winter fire seasons we have been having. The Cleveland NF has been having large fires almost every winter during the last five years. Your partner fire agencies would welcome better year round staffing on the southern forests.

2. The cost of red engines exceeded the cost of aircraft, the 35 strike teams assigned exceeded 1 million dollars a day.

  • True! However, green engines don't like to do structure protection and won't do interior fire work. Also keep in mind;
  • Average purchase price of the 6,000 Orange County homes directly threatened by the Sierra Fire: $1.2 to 1.4 million dollars each.
  • Actual cost of all 35 strike teams involved in structure protection: About the cost of one home.
  • The value of keeping Rich Hawkins from having to explain why his Forest's prescribed fire burned one of them, PRICELESS!

3. All this talk too about cutting out red engines of all types from fires as soon as possible, (CDF, contract county, municipal) for cost reasons and shifting federal engines all over the place... I have to wonder what that will do to a strained federal workforce... already reduced in force by budget cuts and attrition, now on endless 14 day assignments? Then, if not bewildered about "fire expense" by this point, somebody starts talking about the cost of a DC10/747 supertankers... am I the only one confused?

Contract County Guy

4/20 Dear Screwed:

I spoke with one of your colleagues, a member of the FWFSA who also had received a hire notice with a report date of 4-30-06 and subsequently received a "rescind" notice. However, the FWFSA & ANF fire management officers have been putting a great deal of heat on the FS through the press & congress and as I understand it, at least five temporary firefighters who received hire notices only to be rescinded, got word day before yesterday that they would in fact me hired.

If you are not one of those five and have not been notified, please feel free to let me know. I'll be visiting ANF folks next week on the 26th at the Santa Anita Raceway & I'd be happy to look into your particular situation. I can be reached at cjudd@fwfsa.org or (208) 775-4577.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/20 Ab: let Melissa, Hutch and everyone involved on the ICT for Ken's Ultra Run know that they are welcome to publicize the event and hawk their T-shirts at next week's IAWF Safety Summit in Pasadena.

IAWF has donated an exhibitor spot for WFF at our Conferences, and always collects donations from the attendees, with an IAWF 100% "match" of the funds donated. At the recent Fuels Conference in Portland, it amounted to $2200, and last years Safety Summit in Missoula totaled $1572.

Dick Mangan
President, IAWF

Thanks, Dick. Ab.

4/20 Ab--
FYI, from South Dakota...

New Holland Rx Entrapment. 24 hr report (doc report)


The Abs, on behalf of all who are working on Ken's - June 2 and 3 - Ultra Run (104 miles),
would like to welcome onboard

Tom Hutchison, aka Hutch,
Incident Commander of the 2006 Ken Perry Ultra Run.

Team positions are being filled. Shortly we will have a RUN page that keeps everyone up to date
and shows where needs still exist. Stay tuned...

(Ken and Killer and Lobotomy and Debbie and Melissa and GIS Girl and John and Shots and Supts
and everyone working on this event, THANKS!)

4/20 Hello Everyone!

Just a quick update on all the “stuff” I’ve been working on for Ken's Ultra Run that's coming up June 2nd and 3rd and some amazing “stuff” others have been doing:


John has an 8+ minute DVD edited and ready for copying. He got his company to donate copying the DVDs, all we have to cover is the cost of the DVDs and the ink used to print covers for them. He’ll be shipping 150 DVDs to me by Mon or Tues of next week. I cannot begin to sing John’s praises for all he’s done. His story is a lot like Ken’s, he came to us with some ideas for a story/tv-show, showed up to videotape Ken’s Run last year in CA, and then worked his big heart out getting a cameraman, editing folks and many others to buy into what Ken and he are doing for the wildland community. John you are AWESOME!


I’ve attached a rough first idea from Ian, Ken’s brother, for a t-shirt. He and I talked about selling the shirts and having some, maybe a different color, for volunteers and “Ken’s Team”. He’s also looking into getting magnets made. His company is giving us the shirts at cost, and will give us an excellent price on magnets (250 being the break point – we’re working toward non-year specific so we have a long shelf life to sell 250!). Thanks Ian for jumping right in! He and I talked and the very next day, he had a design idea!


Hopefully you’ve been to our Wildland Firefighter Foundation website and have seen my quick first-attempt at a “Ken’s Run” page (I plan to beef / pretty it up this weekend). I’m listing companies as they come onboard with donations, etc. I spoke with Injinji Socks (Ken’s sock preference) and they excited about donating some product (even offered me a pair!). They think what Ken’s doing is great – I’m hoping they come through with something wonderful. I’ve received NO’s from Clif Bar and Ross (makers of PediaLyte and Pediasure). At first the gal at Ross thought it was a cool idea and had potential, but apparently the powers that hold the purse strings weren’t so easily swayed.


I have a mailing/email list of close to 70 media outlets (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX corp HQs), ALL of the News stations in CA, and all of the Southern CA newspapers. I plan on sending out press/media kits to them next week once I receive the DVDs. I’ve also got mailing / emailing information for David Letterman, Jay Leno (in CA so hopefully!?!), Ellen Degeneres, and Oprah (much to Ken’s chagrin!) I’ve also got contact information for the Today Show, Good Morning America, etc.

Debbie Santiago called me yesterday and was glad to be asked and glad to be onboard. We haven’t “talked” yet, but we’ve left some good update messages. I’ll keep Debbie in the loop as I deal with some of the media folks and I’ll pass on any information I receive – I’m also open to ideas to ensure we’re best utilizing our time and may seek volunteers to do some calling to follow up with the TV and newspaper folks once the packets go out.

Thank you all so much for all you are doing. There is no way we’d be able to meet the excitement and needs that this run has created without all of you onboard. You’re irreplaceable!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
(208) 336-2996

Ab note: Anyone with fund-raising ideas, including ideas for more sponsors, contact Melissa.

4/20 To beat the drum a bit for the IMTs...

Our CIIMT 3 is one team that had a direct positive effect on people in Mississippi following Katrina. No doubt their help is representative of the difference other IMTs make in the face of disaster.

The following graph appears in a CDC report from their Disease Surveillance Teams (deployed to the coast, Camp Armstrong). The graph shows the reasons why patients sought medical attention following the hurricane.


Notice that Gastroenteritis was the LEAST common ailment. People were not eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water because they had good food and water available during the critical period. The reason it was available was that CIIMT 3, Florida and others were there to supply it.

Ya'll kept a bunch of people alive, teams. Thank you!

<little cheerleading routine> <one pom pom swishing>

4/20 Hiring NOT

I am one of those lucky people to get a letter from the Angeles withdrawing my job offer for this summer. Since I got it I have done some talking to a bunch of other folks that got the same letter.

I have also talked to some of the perm. people including several Captains to learn some more info. So the forest decided not to rehire the temps and steps to meet budget. They also laid off everyone with less than full time appointments for the winter, something they havent done for a long time. I have also heard they are purchasing dash cameras at $7,000+ each for rigs because there is an accident problem (primarily with recreation). One of my friends at Little T heard one of the white hats talking to someone, that they were going to spend $100 thousand this year to start up a training program at LA Valley college to hire temps.

If there is no money to hire us back why these big ticket items? Why a new training program for new temps? Dont the other two local colleges Rio Hondo and Antelope Valley do the same thing? Seems to me that if these comments are true then the comments we have seen here about no reduction of firefighters or capability are all outright lies, especially on the Angeles where they have cut two crews, and I hear some engines as well as all the summer temps.

Hummm maybe Congress or somebody needs to do some research asking pointed questions as to the management of the fire budget on the Angeles!

Also, if it was so bad, why did they wait until a month before I was supposed to go back to work? Now there is nothing available.

sign me

Screwed with no job

4/20 Amanda and 007,

Thank you sooo much!!!


4/20 Interesting that the NIH's budget is taking a hit too, with the first decrease
in real dollars in more than 30 years, according to today's Washington
Times. This link shows the significance for things like bird flu research:


Makes you wonder what the priorities are. Let it burn, then let everyone
get sick. Yeeehaa!

Still Out There as aN AD
4/19 The Southern California Association of Forester and Fire Wardens will be holding its annual conference Thursday May 4th and 5th 2006 at Camp Pilgrim Pines, San Bernardino Ca. See the Classified Page under Announcements/Notices for details. OA
4/19 From Firescribe:

Flock-Killing Planned if Bird Flu Found

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Free-ranging chickens and small, backyard flocks will be at greatest risk if deadly bird flu reaches the United States, officials said Wednesday.

They also said they would begin killing off flocks large or small if they are suspected of having the virus -- even before tests are completed.

Authorities say bird flu is likely to arrive in the United States this year.

If and when it does, ''quick detection will be key to quickly containing it and eradicating it,'' Ron DeHaven said in an interview with The Associated Press. He is head of the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Most of America's chickens come from big commercial farms that keep birds indoors and are well-protected against the spread of disease. Yet there are many flocks in people's back yards -- as many as 60,000 in Los Angeles alone -- as well as free-range flocks that are outdoors and could mix with wild birds or their droppings. (click the link for the whole story)

Ab added the text. People who are requested to go work on such culling projects better be educated to the risks and PPE required.

4/19 Hello,

I hope you can help me. I am looking for a Helishot I used to know. His name is
Philip <snip>. He used to be on crew 554 in Apple Valley California.

Any info would be great!!!

Christine Blake
Construction 70, Inc.

I'll pass any info on... Ab.
Thanks we passed the info on...

4/19 Good day to you all

Name is Wayne. Been fighting wildland or as we call it bush fires for the past 10 years. Im based in a small city in the Western Cape called 'George'. [Africa] I will send you guys some photos of my crew, vehicles and some snap shots of fires. For now i would like to share some info with you guys.

Here in the Western Cape (WC) we probably have the most fires in the whole country and the most ferocious fires in the country as well. Our vegetation mostly consists of a biome known as Fynbos (Fine bush) which is only found in the WC and no where else in the world. We also have alien vegetation being wattle, port jackson and custard ferns. We have to thank the Aussies for the alien veg. No offence Aussies!

The fires we experience here are seasonal. 2 seasons being Summer and Winter. In Summer months (November to Feb) we experience very high temperatures, usually in the 30'c up to the mid 40'c. Summer is our rainy season but we have had no Summer rains since 2004 and are currently experiencing the worst drought in 50 years. In the Winter months (May to July) we have no rain and we experience a devastating wind in these months known as the Berg Winde (Mountain Wind). This is a hot and dry wind which starts in the Namib desert, spreads through the Karoo (Arid desert) and then comes over the mountains into the WC. Hence the name Berg Winde.

The district i work in is known as the Eden District as it is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Our area of jurisdiction is 24,000 square kilometers which is 15,000 square miles. We have everything here from high rocky mountains to rugged coastline, indigenous forest and semi desert. Because of the diversity in the biomes we have, we also get to experience a wide variety of bush fires. My dept consists of 12 permanent firefighters which are divided into 2 shifts. We also have a standby crew of volunteers which consists of about 100 trained firefighters. Theses volunteers are split into groups of 22 and are stationed all over our district.

Our method of fire fighting is similar to yours except that we don't have smokejumpers and we don't use aircraft as bombers. Our tactics are usually to drive to the fire or as close as possible and work from our fire trucks. Seldom do we use the method of walking for miles to the fire and use hand tools to cut a firebreak. We are fortunate in the sense that we have a lot of access roads through our plantations and bush which makes life easier for us. We use the airforce choppers when necessary to assist us in firefighting and crew transport. Fires which start up in the mountains are left to burn and are monitored by the fire towers to watch its advancement. If the fire comes down the mountains and starts to threaten farms or houses, then we move in and extinguish it. Well i will carry on my discussion with you guys tomorrow. Gonna have a beer now and hit the sack.

Play it Safe.

Thanks, Wayne and welcome to theysaid. Ab.

4/18 Black -
I would have bet my life against a donut that the Sonic Burger was an in-n-out. I was wrong.

Mike -
Fedbizzops has lookout position up for contract. www.fbo.gov Click on "FIND BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES-GO" in the top right corner. They usually dont go for much. I have seen them go for as little as 8-10K for the whole summer. Many times local clubs will bid on a site and staff it with volunteers. Others make a few more dollars.

you can "Search Archive" and limit your search to AWARDS to see what they have gone for in the past.
I found a few still open for bid - Pickett Butte, SISI oregon, a couple in the Wallowa, 2 in California. So there may be hope but closing dates for bids must be approaching so I would hurry if you want to bid on them.
I hope this helps you out.

later - eric

4/18 Danfromord

Small world out there....... so they say. Our paths just may have
crossed a few times. I had the Eastside batallion in 1988.... colusa
and yolo counties and have spent many many an hour on fires in yolo,
colusa, lake, napa and solono counties...... say from 64 thru 96.
And you are correct........ those tall grasses cure real fast.... best
to you.

CDF Raises.............. I agree...... good for them.

In my long 33 years plus with CDF (retired BC, 1996), I always felt
as though I was somewhat behind the curve in pay, but still managed
to maintain a decent life for myself and family. In the days before
O.T., I was literally gone for most of the summer, leaving my wife to
raise the children, and was compensated with C.T.O. (compensating
time off... at straight time). The time off in the winter was great for
my hunting and fishing, but sure did not help pay the
bills...................... oh well. At the time of my retirement my
base pay, plus my guaranteed half time pay (what the heck that ever
was) totaled around $5500 per month, not counting unplanned overtime.
On a good year I made good money, but nothing like CDF BC's and FC's
are making now. Just a little info....... take it with a grain of
salt. I guess I am thinking I should have been born about 12 years
later than I was.. I put that blame on my parents......laughing out
loud. I had a great career and live just fine on my
retirement....... that is if I don't compare mine to those that are
retiring soon from CDF. Again, Good for the CDF employees...... a
long time coming.


4/18 Pandemic Flu Response Planning:

Thanks to CIIMT 3 (Scott McKenney, MEDL and Frank Gruhot, (sp?) LCS, and to Jeanne Pincha-Tully, IC) for creating the discussion paper on pandemic influenza response in firecamp. Does anyone have a digital version? I know it's draft, but I'd like to send it to fire friends.

Another Q: Anyone know when the R5 Pandemic Response Plan will be final? Thanks to Michelle Reugebrink, Peter Tolosano, Mellie, and Gene Smalley for their work on that. I only saw the draft. I'm waiting for the final. I know there were some folks on the Shasta-T that gave good feedback. Hopefully it will be incorporated.

Pandemic Flu Movie coming up next month on ABC. Info below.

NorCal Tom


"Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America"

April 18, 2006 - The movie follows Avian Flu through its mutation into a virus transmittable from human to human.

On Tuesday, May 9 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), ABC will bring to television a two-hour original movie. "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" follows an outbreak of an Avian Flu from its origins in a Hong Kong market through its mutation into a virus transmittable from human to human around the world.

The meticulously researched film stars Joely Richardson ("Nip/Tuck"), Stacy Keach ("Prison Break," "Blackbeard"), Ann Cusack ("Grey's Anatomy," "Ghost Whisperer"), Justina Machado ("Six Feet Under"), Scott Cohen ("Street Time," "Law & Order: Trial by Jury") and David Ramsey ("All of Us"). The movie opens with an American businessman flying to Hong Kong to meet with his Asian manufacturers. After 11 meetings in three countries in six days, he starts his return to Virginia. But before he returns home, the Chinese government has informed the World Health Organization that a new strain of the Avian Flu virus was discovered in a local marketplace. Over 1.2 million infected birds were killed in an attempt to eradicate this strain. Dr. Iris Varnack (Richardson) of the Epidemic Intelligence Service receives an emergency summons to China, where she discovers these efforts may have come too late. Despite the early warning, the H5N1 virus has mutated into a version that can spread from human to human -- shown in eye-opening detail whenever the microbes start to permeate the atmosphere - across races, nationalities, genders and ages.

John M. Barry, Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Tulane University and writer of the New York Times bestseller, "The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History," served as a consultant on the project.

Barry's book, which includes a new afterword on today's Avian Flu, focuses on the 1918 Spanish Flu which killed between 50-100 million people.

The film deals with the current threat of the Avian Flu virus (H5N1). Scientists continue to debate the degree to which the virus can mutate and be easily passed among human beings.

4/18 CDF to get huge raise:

Good for them!

I like the logic:

“The idea that state firefighters should not have parity with local
firefighters is ridiculous,” said Terry McHale.

What about us feds?...

Maybe the answer lies somewhere in here:

“The department I think ultimately will have to look at its mission and
see what it wants, and then compensate its employees accordingly.”

But... with all our taxpayer money going for... um... 'other things' I don't
guess logic will come into play anytime soon.

Thank goodness for the FWFSA! At least they try to push for sanity.


4/18 Dannyboy,

The flashy fuels are what I worry about down here in the Sacramento Valley.
As far a fire season goes, We will all know how big or bad it was at about
Pheasant Season. You have a few years on me so I will check my bet to the
older & more experienced player. I wonder how many times we may have
crossed paths ?

Happier than a pig in mud (I might as well, it's plenty-full)


4/17 CDF to get huge raise.

Click on this to see the story in a San Diego paper. $103,000 for a Captain?
$130,000 for a BC? And these are Base Pay? I'm in the wrong outfit!!



Record pay raises ahead for state firefighters
Increase will kick in on contract's last day
By Ed Mendel

SACRAMENTO – Some state firefighters will get a pay raise in June estimated
to average 22 percent, and others may be able to retire with pensions higher than
their final salary.

4/17 From Firescribe:

Senator Mikulski Continues Push for Study into Firefighter Cancer Rates

4/17 For more choices in fireline packs and many other hot items, please see the websites of our newest advertisers on the Classifieds Page. Our thanks to True North for their support. OA
4/17 Decreased Staffing?

Interesting spin by Forest Leadership and Regional (R5) Info Officer:


Are they afraid to tell the truth?


4/17 Black,

I agree with toe, the packs the crew are wearing right now are
pretty comfortable. Bubba let me try one out and it fit real well.

Say hi to the wife and kids.....


4/17 Thanks for the article Firescribe.

I googled some info on "powerline cancer hazards" and found there is some hotly debated discussion and research going on regarding powerlines. It seems that each time someone comes out with a study that shows an increased cancer risk, someone else comes out with a study that shows there is no difference. I think it has a lot to do with the variables they are considering.

It is a similar thing with the observational increase in cancer in wildland firefighters. I have to wonder what the fire suppression duties of the employees on the Hoosier entailed.

The article made mention of an airborne hazard that was detected...... mold (fungus).....A newly emerging hazard with very little research.

Mold comes in numerous forms. Some molds are good (penicillin) and some are bad (mycotoxins). Of particular interest to me is Fusarium mycotoxin. It is a component in naturally occuring smoke as well as laboratory derived "liquid smoke" used in research and germination.

Fusarium mycotoxins are commonly found in wildland areas and in agricultural settings ( ie - Indiana corn and grain fields). Fusarium mycotoxins are nasty. They are made airborne by smoke and carried on our clothes and our skin, and inhaled in our lungs. We take these hazards home. Fusarium runs the gambit from athletes foot (Tinea pedis), nail fungus (Onychomycosis or Tinea unguium).... and all the way to being a carcinogen. Tinea is a general term that describes when a fungus invades the skin and a carcinogen is something that causes or increases the risk of cancer.

I hope they find out what is causing the cancer cluster at the Hoosier National Forest Supervisors Office. Cancer clusters aren't just a random happening. The cause must be researched, reduced, and/or prevented. It could be powerlines, mold, or any other cause... or a synergistic cause. In any case, clusters aren't a random happening in such a small community of workers.

Wildland firefighter exposure to smoke also needs to be studied and expanded, or at the minimum (or maximum), figure out why wildland firefighters are dying of rare cancers and a greater rate from common cancers. Also, are we bringing these cancer risks home to our families and friends? Research needs a good kickstart and a focus in the right direction......

4/16 From Firescribe:

A powerful danger?
Are power lines near the U.S Forest Service's office in Bedford (Indiana)
making employees there sick?

4/16 Black,

The first place we recommend looking for line gear is on our Classifieds Page. The Supply Cache, Wildland Warehouse, Coaxsher, & National Fire Fighter all carry top of the line products. All of them will be happy to speak with you and answer any questions you may have. They're good folks who take their customer's satisfaction seriously.

Tell 'em Ab. sent ya.

4/16 Dear Black:

Thanks for your interest in the FWFSA. We have recently started to modernize our web site, www.fwfsa.org (or click on our logo on the They Said page) which allows for an easier, on-line application process.

All information regarding membership and how to apply is posted on the site. You can either establish an allotment & pay per pay period or you can use a debit/credit card to pay the annual dues.

A feature about the FWFSA is that it is not a union. As an employee association we have the luxury of having members who hold positions through the entire spectrum of fire positions from entry-level to Forest Fire & Aviation Chiefs. As a result, we receive a wealth of information from the field that allows us to educate members of congress as to the impact current policies & practices have on our federal wildland firefighters so that they can be in a better position to effect positive change for all of you.

Most importantly, after viewing the web site, if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me directly at cjudd@fwfsa.org or (208) 775-4577. Again, thanks for your interest.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/16 Black,

Happy Easter to you, the family, and to all!

Mystery Ranch has a nice line pack you should look into. They are well padded around the waist and shoulders. Also, these packs do not sway as much as others do. The main compartment has plenty of room to store your stuff. Contact Bone or someone at LP for more info.

4/16 Ab,

I had to go look at the photo to see who RAX was and its Greg O. Well in his college days at Laney in Oakland where he played football, his nick name was "Baby Huey". Lunch at the local deli was several large sandwiches, some salad and a couple of quarts of milk. It was fun to watch him unfold out of his VW Bug (customized with the drivers seat rails moved back as far as possible). Whats amazing is how gracefully he skied, smooth......

hey lori, i will get in shape too and ski with you ..... it has been too long.... thanx for all the help you gave cj on his apps.

a c's mom

Small world, isn't it? Things are gearing up for Ken Perry's run. Stay tuned for that... I think Lori will be in attendance there, too. Rax? well, we'll need to ask him! What do (in)famous hotshot supts do after they retire? Ab.

4/15 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated.

The Six Rivers National Forest has two openings being advertised. See the Jobs Page for details. Ab.

4/15 Ab,

Happy Easter weekend to all,

Im looking for positive feedback in my attempt to find and purchase a great fireline pack for crew operations. Something that can hold some weight, and is relatively comfortable. Preferably a top flap that flips over, so pack can expand as needed. Please let me know me know if you think you got something good.

Casey Judd,
How do I sign up for FWFSA-it sounds like I want the same things as you. Please post instructions to sign up for all.

Eric- Burger joint on Overland is Sonic Burger, not in-in-out.



Thanks for supplying the links.

In the document (http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/director/fy06.budget.pdf), it was interesting to see how "simplified" the Forest Service budget appears.

Allocated to Regions, Stations, & Areas

• Seventy two percent of appropriated Fire Preparedness funds go directly to Regions, Stations and Areas for program implementation.

I wonder what percentage of the appropriated fire preparedness funding makes it to the Districts and the Forests?

I understand, at least in California, that the Regional Office, McClellan, and the Provinces take a significant chunk of the money before it reaches the field level.

Here is the really simple version of the California Forest Service budget:

\Preparedness Funds From Congress/                 $$$$$$$$$$     $666 Million
  \                                                   /
    \          Washington Office         /                     $$$$$$$$$$     Still at $666 Million
      \                                           /
        \              Region               /                        $$$$$
          \                                    /
            \         Province          /                           $$$
              \                             /
                \                         / 
                  \     Forest      /                                $$
                    \                 /
                      \             /
                       \District/                                     $


4/15 Where can I find a listing of available civilian contracts
for fire lookouts in the NW region?...


4/14 Here is an entertaining news article

For those that have stood watch for flaming
jackrabbits racing out of your burn.

For the tanker mop up, there was the time a tanker was
cancelled and heading back to base, got a radio call
asking if we could use a retardant drop. We said no
because we were on a small lightning start that was
going nowhere. Dispatch responded they need to dump it
somewhere before they land. We cleared the area and
watched the show, then called the fire out as it got a
direct hit, there was not even of any steam, just a
river of retardant.

And There I Was
4/14 Danfromord

Hope your rainy season is near its end................ doesn't
really look that way when you watch the news today......oh well.
Regarding being back in to the thick of fire season with three weeks
of hot weather in May................ I doubt that. Sure, some of the
flashy fuel will be ready to burn, but the north slopes and heavier
fuels will be way behind the curve for real burning. Maybe July 1st
fire season will jump in to full swing.. at least that is what I
observed in central Lake County where I fought fires for more than 33
years. But, if the winds come up and stay up (not likely) I may have
to eat my words.

4/14 NCCrew

When we first started using air tankers in California...Stearman's and N3N's... some
office types said pretty much the same thing as you have on your latest post.

I spent a lot of time on the ground and a lot of time in both rotary and fixed wing Air
Attack on wild land fires.

I have yet to see an aircraft...no matter how good the pilot was or which agency it
was working for...ever mop up a fire!

I have seen a retardant (as well as a water) drop extinguish a small fire but it was
in light, flashy fuels.

I sure wouldn't get my Nomex all bunched up waiting for ANY aircraft...no matter
the size...to replace Fire Crews, Fire Engines, Fire Dozers or any Fire People...

They are the absolute end result in the continuing line of extinguishing wild fires.

Aircraft are but a tool to be used by ground attack forces.


4/14 Fire facts: I googled "Forest Service fire preparedness" and this is what I got:,
check the Directors Corner:

And I found the 2007 President's budget which has the enacted 2006 budget.

The 2007 budget justification has the WHOLE Forest Service budget. Don't
print the whole thing unless you want 593 pages.

National Fire Plan starts on p 4-1 and Wildland Fire on p. 9-1. The sections
include what was accomplished in 2005, the 2006 program, and plans for
2007. These look like publicly available documents to me. We could probably
argue forever how things get divided at the field level.



As of last eve and today the rain has stopped in Nor-Cal. Many Thanks to the Superior Being... (It's a short sleve T-shirt & sunburn day today. It's been sooooooooooo long without Sun us Sun worshiping Californios are getting grumpy)

We have been monitoring our levy on the Sacramento River constantly and things are holding but, any new erosion cannot be seen till the H2O goes down more. The little village I work in has been prompting and prodding the State & Fed Gov. for over 20 years about building a new levy to protect our town of about 2500 folks. We have had some successes in funding but it takes it's toll on an unpaid staff to keep up the pressure. (We do not have a paid lobbyist to carry our voice to Congress or the State house.) The Vol. FD here and the County OES folks have done a Hero's job over the years keeping the Levy intact. But we are now like the homeless guy sitting on the curb holding a sign reading "the end is near". We are protected by a Private Levy system that is approx. 100 years old and we are running out of time and riverbank.

I hope we get the funding before all I have left to protect is a lake full of abandon houses.

As far as the wildland fire season goes, 2 to 3 weeks of hot & dry north wind, (normal May weather) will put us right back into the thick of wildland season. It's not uncommon for Nor-cal to go 120 days w/o measurable precip. and as a very wise Cowboy once said, It always dries out after a wet spell".


4/13 Hey Live:

Lobotomy & I know that. The quote you posted is certainly not from me or Lobotomy...I know who he is... Mr. Lobotomy & many FWFSA members have to deal with the nonsense about preparedness funding each and every day in the field. I have the luxury??? of having to educate congress on the nutty things going on.

Sadly, Mr. Rey probably knows exactly what he's talking about. However up until now, he & Chief Bosworth have been able to get away with the "smoke & mirrors" explanations for several reasons:

1) No one was challenging them
2) Congress is so swamped and there are so many scheduling conflicts that unless a hearing of some sort is set for prime time with media galore (especially in an election year) `rarely is there enough members of congress to pose the tough questions... thus, Mr. Rey & Chief Bosworth skate through the hearing process
3) congress hadn't been educated...until now.

While the FWFSA tries to achieve its goals and objectives by educating congress and securing it's members' support on our issues, once in a while we have to take on peripheral issues in order to paint a clearer picture to congress as to what's going on.

Case in point, the GS-8 engine captain audit, A-76 studies targeting fire positions and of course the budget mess. It is necessary that we address those peripheral issues in the context of establishing our credibility by educating congress on them in order to achieve our primary goals & objectives.

So Live... Lobotomy and I are with ya on this one. I'm hoping Mr. Rey will accept my scheduling request headed for his office... betcha you'd like to be a fly on the wall in that get together!!!

4/13 re:747

Aircraft, no matter the size, do not put out wildfires. It takes firefighters on
the ground. Bring on that big pig. Maybe then we can always keep one
foot in the black.

4/13 Abs,

We are looking for a couple of dozer photos to round out the collection posted on the walls here at the McClellan Training Facility. I was wondering if I could get in contact with the photographers for five of your dozer photos on the equipment page. The photos I like include: from Equipment 3, "Piru Dozer, 2" and "Dido Fire Dozer"; from Equipment 5, "Building Line, Creek" and "Dozer on Hippy Fire"; and from Equipment 8, "MFC Dozer".

Please let me know how to contact these photographers at your convenience. Thank you.

Scott Whitmire
National Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program

We'll check photographers info at our end. To save time and effort, the photographers should contact Scott direct. OA.

4/13 CR, Lobotomy, and Casey..

Here are the basics:
WFPR (Preparedness) Funds
WFSU (Suppression) Funds
WFPR and WFSU are terms that aren't the same and are different budget line items.

You said, "This was in Mark Rey's testimony (just after the paragraph about the $666 million) 'In Appropriations language for the Forest Service for FY2006, Congress directed that fire suppression funds pay a proportionate share of costpools (indirect costs) on the same basis as other funds. We want to assure you that no crews have been reduced as a result of this requirement because crews are funded through fire preparedness allocations. However, this direction has reduced available suppression funding by $209 million which may significantly increase the need for borrowing from other accounts in the event of a severe fire season."

Suppression funding is not the same as preparedness funding.... each has a distinct identifier that OMB and Congress understands (as do the bean counters). Each set of funds has a distinct purpose and a set of intended purposes.

The lack of suppression funding should not cut into other funding within other Forest Service programs when suppression or preparedness funds are insufficient for the given year.

Mark Rey doesn't seem to understand the differences between preparedness and response..... hmmm.... Maybe he needs some better educating before he testifies before Congress next time?

Simple fact.... less preparedness dollars = less firefighters and firefighting resources.

Live from Reno Nevada
4/13 I welcome various observations and input.

You can either look at the information folks are submitting as facts and being supported by the current Agency actions reducing preparedness resources (per FWFSA and numerous public sources) or you can support the bureaucratic version that says that there have been no changes to preparedness since the National Fire Plan was implemented......

It is your choice on what figures you choose to follow and look at as facts.

True facts speak louder then opinions....
4/13 Ab,

Rough couple of days here in South Dakota. Had a fatality on Tuesday
(see link to article below). After working a grass fire a VFD engine got
stuck, they were trying to pull out engine when the rope or cable broke
and shot through the windshield striking him in the head. Scares me when
I think of how many times I have winched or pulled out stuck vehicles.
And today had a RX burn escape and burn over an engine crew. Engine was
total loss and two Firefighters received minor/moderate burns. As the
agency responsible has yet to issue a press release I will not name the
agency or location. Lets be careful out there folks, it is going to be a
long season.
Injured Elkton fireman dies


4/13 Hey Ab and All its been a long time...

So I was sitting around reflecting on fire seasons come to past. I've taken on a new job, and instead of riding under red lights I ride under blue ones now. But ever time I see this site, an old photo, or a column of smoke in the sky I miss it...Maybe the '07 season will see my return.

Anyway, I was looking at the monstrosity of an air tanker that Evergreen has, and its brought some fears to me. Basically it appears (from what I've read) to be able to hit a head fire, crown fire dead on and knock it out. Beyond that it can do what 7 other air tankers would be required to do otherwise. You know, every so often a piece of technology comes along that revolutionizes the way an industry operates and I can't help but be a little fearful that an air craft like this could seriously knock back the need for so many crews (hand, shot, or engine). It seems like this 747 has the capacity to stop campaign fires. Anyone else thought about it like this? I realize that one of these won't amount to much, but suppose they get a fleet of these jokers?

So what else do we know about this tanker, I've watched some videos on it and they mostly show it off on nice level ground, can it make drops in mountainous terrain, or will it suffer the catastrophic consequences like the C-130 a few years ago? Maybe it doesn't need the maneuverability cause it carries so much water? Or would it have to release so high up that it would make it an ineffective water dump? DOES ANYONE KNOW?

Didn't the Russian's tinker around with a super tanker on the scale of Evergreens? As I recall they did, and as if I remember right, it wasn't a very effective tool? Anyone know why?

Enough rambling, to all a safe season and to all a good season!


4/12 Re: Firebill

Not familiar with the program you mentioned. Have you checked out
Fire Pro;

Saw a demo at the International Assoc of Fire Chiefs conference in Phoenix.
It appears to be very user friendly and have many features of use to the fire

John Bennett

4/12 Casey and Lobotomy,

Thanks for your info though I found myself with my head on the keyboard
trying to understand what is what. I'm not sure it's a shell game, just
complex stuff. I don't see the $100 million for the Albuquerque Service
Center anywhere - where did you get that figure? Your link is to the
President's 2006 budget but I thought Congress passed the 2006 budget
with instructions of how things are to be spent. This was in Mark Rey's
testimony (just after the paragraph about the $666 million) "In
Appropriations language for the Forest Service for FY2006, Congress
directed that fire suppression funds pay a proportionate share of cost
pools (indirect costs) on the same basis as other funds. We want to assure
you that no crews have been reduced as a result of this requirement because
crews are funded through fire preparedness allocations. However, this
direction has reduced available suppression funding by $209 million which
may significantly increase the need for borrowing from other accounts in
the event of a severe fire season. We again urge the Congress to recede
from this direction."

My apologies to everyone if this is starting to look like "inside
baseball'. CR
4/12 14 in R8

Are you asking about the 747? If so, it suffered some damage when a pressure
valve blew a hole in the fuselage, prior to starting it's demonstration tour April 1st,
in Phoenix. Haven't heard it's status since 3/29/06...



ps; What a great marketing campaign...!
4/12 On behalf of the Board of Directors of the FWFSA and our membership, I'd like
to congratulate FWFSA member Micah Bell on his safe return from 14 months
of reserve duty.

Micah is currently assigned to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Indiana.
Casey Judd
4/12 Hey everybody, anyone get a chance to see our new Airtanker??? pics
or video, heck is it dropping water or just flying around the country to
show off?


14 in R8

4/12 Ab,

>From one who lurks but rarely posts.

Some belated and random thoughts on John MacLean,

He is in the business of writing. As a rule, if it's not controversial, it does not sell. Even though I do not like what appears to be an unhealthy bias towards fire management and fire supervisors, I still purchase his books. Keep in mind, that he is not writing books for those of us in the wildland community. From my standpoint, he's writing for the "arm chair adventurer," "Mom and Pop" middle America book buyer, and non-wildland firefighters. Without drama, they just don't sell.

His books are one piece of an extremely complex historical puzzle and since all history is remembered history (I wish I could remember who said that), MacLean's works are his personal version of that investigated history, and hence "new" remembered history. Critical thinking, developing opinions, and being able to support those opinions with cogent arguments only happens when you have multiple reports, articles, books, interviews, lectures, discussions, and personal observations to create and construct your own unique points of view (remembered history). Whether you want to call his works Fiction or Non-fiction, they are grounded in history. Good historical writing should inspire controversy. It should make you think, analyze; and at times doubt, argue, and question facts. It should cause you to write notes in the margins, place sticky notes with additional questions on the pages, and ultimately inspire you to learn more. For me, Mr. MacLean's writings fill that role. They are one piece of that historical puzzle.

An important point that may have been overlooked is the drastic difference between the anonymity of this site and publishing books. When you write for national distribution and place your name to that work, you put your reputation on the line. You open yourself to attacks, ridicule, challenges, and at times straight hate. I have just as much to say as Mr. MacLean, but I have not spent thousands of dollars of my own money researching the material and in the end placing those facts, opinions, and remembered history on the line. I do not always agree with his opinions or interpretations of these histories, but I am glad he wrote them. I did not take that chance. In my opinion, anything that gets us thinking, talking, and debating is worthwhile.

Think about how fast you formed or reinforced an opinion about John MacLean after that first posting describing his comments at the Reno conference. People at the conference interpreted those comments differently (remembered history) and posted accordingly. Without even thinking, I used those comments to support some of my own pre-conceived negative bias about Mr. MacLean. "There he goes, more agency bashing, slinging crap without facts, blah-blah-blah." I reinforced my opinion without having both sides of the story. Clearly not fair or logical, but definitely a fundamental component of human behavior. I should have waited until all of the facts had been presented.

By no means am I trying to support Mr. MacLean. In fact, last night I spent a few hours with someone, whom I believe is one of the all time great minds of the wildland fire community, and we were slamming Mr. MacLean quite nicely. What Mr. MacLean said was wrong, but he apologized and that moves him up a notch in my book. I would not have him speak at a conference, but I am sure I will buy his next book.

To John MacLean, I too thank you for your apology.

Ron Marley
4/12 To All

Just to change the "subjects" for a
moment.................................. Rainfall................
looks like California from border to border is, and continues to be
thoroughly DRENCHED, to say the least. Doubt that things will be
really ready to burn well before July 1st or so. Just curious of some
of the rainfall measurements some of you have in your areas. Have
heard that some parts of Lake County are approaching 100 inches, and
the majority of the county is between 60 and 80. I'll bet that
Cal-Trans in high up in their overtime budget.

4/11 Does anyone know of any sources for custom (fire) GPS icons for the
Garmin units; or, has anyone used xImage to create fire icons?

Any help would be appreciated.

4/11 source for hard hat holders:


4/11 Hey Ab,

Love the site, don't get on there as much as I'd like to, too darn busy these days.....

Anyway, I was wondering if i could ask a question of the folks on the site.

I'm looking for the hardhat holders/brackets that I've seen used in engines and buggies,
was looking to get a few for the crew, give them some more storage room. I'm having
a heck of a time finding them anywhere and was looking for a lead.......

Thanks in advance.


4/11 The Six Rivers National Forest has two openings being advertised, see the Jobs Page for details. OA
4/11 Bud,

I have attached some information to help clarify the intricate Forest Service budget process.

Please read the FY 2006 (This year) Budget Summary available at:

Then look at: FSH 6509.11g - Appropriation Use Handbook. It describes how each appropriated dollar is to be spent.

Appropriation Title

FY 2005 Enacted

Pay Costs

Program Changes

FY 2006 Budget

Forest and Rangeland Research





State and Private Forestry





National Forest System





Wildland Fire Management





Capital Improvements and Maintenance





Land Acquisition





Other Appropriations





Total Discretionary Appropriations





Total Mandatory Appropriations





Subtotal – Total Forest Service





Supplemental and Other Emergency Funding





Grand Total – Forest Service





“Wildland Fire Management (FY 2006 President's Budget Request: $1,444,267,000)

Wildland Fire Management provides funding for fire management including preparedness, fire suppression operations on National Forest System and adjacent lands, and also supports the National Fire Plan. The program seeks to protect life, property, and natural resources on the 192 million acres of National Forest System lands, as well as on an additional 20 million acres of adjacent State and private lands. The program recognizes that wildfire is a critical natural process that must be integrated into land and resource management plans and activities on a landscape scale across agency boundaries. The program also recognizes that wildland fire management must be based on the best available science.”

“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.”

“Shell Game”?  


4/11 Bud;

I certainly respect your opinion. From my perspective of working with members of congress & their staffs for many years, it is their expectation that appropriated dollars for fire preparedness go to just that...fire preparedness as envisioned by the National Fire Plan.

This does not mean raking $100 million off the top of the fire preparedness budget to relocate, or centralize human resources in New Mexico. In fact, the effort to centralize functions has to date, been an unworkable disaster with additional cost overruns according to those that manage the centralized unit and has created a headache for many forest administrators.

If diverting preparedness funds to these other programs has the potential to adversely affect our permanent firefighters, not to mention those temporary firefighters that have received hire letters only to be told now that because of a lack of preparedness funding the "hire" letters will be rescinded, then we have to address that.

If diverting preparedness funds causes forests to be able to man engines only 5 out of 7 days a week, let's hope the folks who have made the decision to divert these funds have received a promise from God that fires won't start on the other two days of the week engines sit idle!

If diverting these "fire" funds to "non-fire" projects increases the risks to our firefighters and the citizens they protect, then we have to address that. Congress expects the money it appropriates to be used for the intended purpose. Even Senator Wyden from Oregon admonished Mr. Rey recently regarding the Forest Service' budgetary "shell game."

Simply, the commentary by Mr. Rey that preparedness/readiness will be equivalent to what it has been for the last few years cannot be reconciled with the directives from Forest Supervisors not to hire temporary firefighters this season; staff engines with 4 rather than 5 personnel and for only 5 of 7 days.

The National Fire Plan did not intend to close the proverbial barn door after the horse got loose. Rather its intent was to be better prepared so as to be able to reduce the staggering costs of suppression.

Rather than intelligently investing in the infrastructure of America's wildland fire service (federal wildland firefighters) and thus strengthening the investment America's taxpayers have made in their training, the Agency would rather increase suppression costs so that it can continue to pay for substantially higher-priced resources (contractors & cooperators) and waste literally hundreds of millions of tax dollars each year.

If Congress appropriates $666 million for fire preparedness, than $666 million better be going to the regions, not $ 478 million. If the Agency wants to centralize operations then it should ask for money to do that and not worry about risking their political appointed rear-ends.

These other programs may have great merit. If so, the Agency should do its job and validate authorizations & appropriations for them, not rip off the fire budgets.

The FWFSA's goals & objectives are very basic. Work through the legislative process to improve pay, benefits & working conditions for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters. It is more than apparent that the Agency chooses not to join us in that endeavor. Once in a while, we have to address the nonsensical practices & policies of the Agencies and bring those practices to the attention of congress.


4/10 Casey,

Thanks for your information. I read Mark Rey's prepared statement closely
- it seems to have a lot of information we can digest now rather than wait
for a transcript that may or may not ever appear. In the testimony, I
was interested in the sentence: " The Forest Service receives $666
million and allocates $478 million of this to its regions for fire
preparedness; the remaining $188 million supports a variety of services,
such as the National Interagency Fire Center, the National Advanced Fire
and Resource Institute in Tucson, Arizona, Washington Fire and Aviation
program leadership, projects at the Missoula and San Dimas Technology and
Development Centers, the Albuquerque Service Center to process personnel
and business transactions, and Information Technology programs." I think
you abbreviated that sentence in your 4/7 message.

It seems to me those services support Forest Service firefighters as well
as other fed and state. And when needed, firefighting resources are
national resources, not just local and not just Forest Service. That
seems reasonable to me.

4/10 On 4/10 Lobotomy said:

“There are also lots of Hispanic agricultural workers throughout the state. Even with the poor pay of the Forest Service, a job as a wildland firefighter pays more than working in the fields. What is even more important is that the folks working in the fields know how to do hard, back breaking work for substandard pay.... very similar to wildland firefighters. They also have a strong work ethic and a sense of pride in the work they do.”

How true Lobo. In the 70’s & 80’s we recruited a large percentage of our firefighting crew from the agricultural fields and minority enclaves nearby. Strong work ethic, extremely hard workers… One of the “tools” we had in our favor at that time was local hiring authority (read local TEAM). No Human Resource, Washington Office, Regional Office or courtroom meddling. We could offer jobs on the local level without going through a maze of “stops” to be approved. A simple paper application, background check at the local level, PT test and walla.. a job… and funny thing about it , our “flavor” mimicked local population ethnicity. The current hiring system is cumbersome and unrealistic. No matter what one’s viewpoint is, reality is that a large portion of the population does not have access to the current application system and / or more importantly, someone to help them get through it. And a computer terminal stuck in the front office of a Ranger Station for “the public” without a dedicated Avue expert readily available is not the answer.

Really want to meet ethnicity “requirements” and just do the right thing in this day and age? Put together an enterprise team (or similar team concept) that consists partially of SME’s (Fire Mgt, Hotshot, Engine, Helitack, Prevention) folk and go out all year and really recruit… not only in the Hispanic community but in ALL communities.. Find the best.. Arm this enterprise team with access to, and all the tools for, the current hiring portal (ie AVUE) and some type of simplified hiring authority. Then provide follow up help for these new hires to build careers.. Help them with the path to full time employment and career goals…Not doing it for them, but true pathway lighting with dedicated individuals to show the way… hmmm …. Sounds kinda like what we used to be able to do on the local level…. May be pie in the sky, but obviously the current method is not meeting the agency “commander’s intent” …

4/10 I just looked at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation power point presentation......It caused me to cry.

It caused me to drop a "few" tears... actually a flood of tears like no other presentation has done before.

4/10 Re: Rowdy & others. . .

I here ya on loosing the experience and wisdom of the retiring work force. When too many are lost it becomes worrisome on the line as all to often their replacements still have there own lessens to learn. One thing I will not miss that you hit on "Just the thoughts of them barking at you or better yet, not even talking to you" The barking and attitude I could handle but that not even talking to you part always chapped my a**... No one should be above talking to...In the current day of increased crew cohesion maybe the thought should be "incident cohesion".

Lets hope the next generation leaves that one behind. This is not a personal dig at anyone., I do not know Rax but wish him a good retirement.


4/10 Re: The Hispanic Settlement Agreement (Consent Decree) and the recent court ruling.....

On 4/3 NorCalTom said, "Most California national forests with large populations of Hispanics nearby are in socal where there are also large urban areas with alternatives for wildland firefighter employment."

On 4/4, Rogue Rivers said, " The are also large communities of Hispanics throughout the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, the North Coast, and just north of the stateline in Oregon.

Please see the attached document (2003) describing the Hispanic workforce county by county in California:

The are also lots of Hispanic agricultural workers throughout the state. Even with the poor pay of the Forest Service, a job as a wildland firefighter pays more than working in the fields. What is even more important is that the folks working in the fields know how to do hard, back breaking work for substandard pay.... very similiar to wildland firefighters. They also have a strong work ethic and a sense of pride in the work they do.

Hiring for diversity doesn't mean "not hiring the most qualified". It means the Forest Service needs to change its methods to recruit, train, and retain at the entry level; Then they need to retain their experienced employees throughout their career.

An example is: The current WO Director of Fire and Aviation Management got hired as a GS-2 and is now an S.E.S. employee making six figure wages. For GS-1 through GS-4 positions, you have to meet either the experience or education component. After you recruit someone at the GS-2 through GS-4 level, you continue to train them and offer a competitive career and training throughout their employment with the agency.

Jose (Joe) Cruz, a Hispanic American and past WO Director of Fire and Aviation Management, worked his way up through the Agency after starting as a Del Rosa Hotshot on the San Bernardino National Forest. He is also an example of a leader who started at the bottom and worked his way to the top.


General Experience

Specialized Experience







3 months


High school graduation or equivalent


6 months


1 year above high school with course(s) related to the occupation, if required


6 months

6 months

2 years above high school with courses related to the occupation, if required


P.S. - A factor that may complicate recruitment and retention from the Hispanic agricultural worker community, or anyone interested in wildland fire, is that many agricultural areas provide housing to their employees, and in limited cases, their families. The current costs for buying or renting a home or apartment in most areas of California is prohibitive to most agricultural workers. These include the agricultural workers (Forestry Technicians) from the United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Service, as well as Hispanic agricultural workers from throughout the state.
4/9 Congratulations to Rax on his retirement. Thanks for all you have given to the wildland fire
community, the Forest Service, and the FWFSA!!


The FWFSA Website has been updated.




PS Rax was an original member of the FWFSA.. He was also one of the original Chapter Directors.

4/9 Congratulations to Rax on his retirement. A great time was had by all
last night - hundreds of well wishers and lots of great stories. Of
course, I got to hear my own stories about Rax from Greeno. We're
gonna miss you Rax. Let's go skiing next year since we'll both have
the time. That should give us both enough time to get in shape, eh?

4/9 Did Rax let anyone know what he's gonna do when he grows up?

<snicker> return to <deadpan>
<little madonna smile>


4/9 Rax retirement:


Well, they kicked him out in style last night in Sonora! Many good stories and tales.

Here’s a rare shot of the BIG GUY in clean mode. We caught “The General” last
summer wondering on the CDF compound next door to the Shot base at Sonora.
Rax, we had no idea we were rubbing off that much on you.

Congratulations from your CDF neighbors!


4/9 "Been off-line with this page for awhile, a little out of touch but only
because I've been busy with other "meaningful" work. At least I believe it

Casey Judd: Keep up the good fight. "Blank stares" seem to be the status
quo symbol of micro-vision in the green. Although at higher levels the
reality is all of government is going to have to change its business and
wildland fire management is no exception; notably it is a function of its
own that is long overdue for a transitional moment. the future is upon us
now and "leaders" that do not heed mandates will fall to their own lessons
unlearned. When the time Congress calls for qualitative and quantitative
measurements of how the system is functioning - the number of engines on
cinder blocks will be counted in the tally. Poor planning is no reason to
humiliate a workforce, bring down its motivation, and disentangle ground
pounding professionals from their inherent hopes and beliefs. It's like
the guy said, without management's support in doctrine, it will fail.
What's the corollary of double-speak?

To the Heaths and Allens: the road to opening the vision for others is not
always clear, fog and mist and sleepless nights will always take their
toll. No matter what gets said your children, our mentors, are alive with
a higher power and continue to touch us with valuable lessons everyday. My
heart is always with you and your families. Hang tough. Maintain.

Regarding John's apology, he made a mistake, he copped to it, accept the
apology and try to remember all the good that our extended families bring
to one another. Screw the lawyers, what do they know anyway, and how
unprofessional do they have to be to reinforce - their karma will get them.
I know was very unfortunate the way the way things came out. I was not
there, but it sounded out of character. We all know mistakes are made.
Remember, forgiveness is the easiest step to take in the arduous journey of

And thanks to Mellie, the Abs, and the others for pressing on the bird flu
issues. It's time decision makers get off their arses; do we have to have
another flood to redeem mankind's wisdom. At least Noah's ark accounted
for two of each species. Remember, once an agency puts its concerns in
print, it later falters. All of you responders out there - take care of
your families first. When this flu hits, there will most likely be the
usual response.

Times have changed, challenges are evolving further each and every day, the
risks are unknown and waters untested.

"Vision to see, faith to believe and courage to act" - read that in a
good book lately. Maintain. Move forward ever carefully -

-Fork in the trail.
4/8 Ab,

You are correct, my post was a little harsh, but it could have been worse if I didn't tone it down a bit. Sometimes, when it comes to safety, wildland firefighters get a little ticked off when they see actions taken that are going to compromise safety.

Maybe others need to get a little "harsh" so that the administration listens and understands they are reducing safety and setting us up for additional incidents, accidents, and tragedies.

I see a train wreck for safety coming this season.... I hope I am wrong.

Reductions in suppression resources, reductions on module staffing, reductions on aerial resources, reductions in training, etc = reductions in safety to firefighters, and the public and communities they protect.

Dont worry about the preparedness budget or preparedness resources.... The AP reports,

"Rey defended his budget, saying the agency has increased funding for firefighting and has a reserve fund available for emergencies."

Firefighting is a slush fund that will be covered one way or the other..... preparedness has fixed costs.


4/7 Every year I look around and see some of our finest leaving the organization.

One night a couple of weeks ago, Vicki Minor gave me a key to the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation in Boise. I went up there in the evening and no one was
around except myself. I sat and ponder the hotshot shirt collection and all that it
has brought me. If you only knew!! I remembered as a rookie division that
it was truly a pain in the rear to have an old seasoned Superintendent on
your Division. Just the thoughts of them barking at you or better yet, not
even talking to you. They knew how things needed to be run and they didn't
need a Division to tell them. But, the reward for me is in the end. The
seasoned Superintendent made us all better firemen and women. We learned by
watching, learning and doing. I don't know that it's good or bad to have
them leaving, only time will tell. Hopefully, enough of them rubbed off on
us younger generation. I hope that we understand and respect the time,
knowledge, and effort these folks have spent during their careers. Their
leadership skills they provided came from within them. No L-180, 280, 380,
381, 480 leadership courses, just leadership in its truest and finest form.

It's been a real pleasure, Rax, working with you over the years. Good luck in
what ever you do and if I need a DIVS (AD) I will be calling you up. I hope
for the rest of us that we continue to shadow and learn from those we have
left. Thanks again for all that you do. You have truly been an inspiration
to me.

Rowdy Muir
Division Chief
Ashley National Forest

4/7 Lobotomy-

Good post and good comments. There is a clear lack of support for fire
management from the agency. I see it from Washington and in my region and
on my forest. It is very frustrating when you're trying to maintain a fire
organization and critical positions cannot be filled and roadblock after
roadblock is thrown in your way.

Going FS to municipal-

Right On and well stated. You sound like the type of person we need in
the FS. Sorry you may leave.

Nerd on the Fireline-

I think you're the who posted about the oldtimers walking 10 miles
to the fireline through 10 feet of snow and thats why they were
able to put out the fires because they gained all their experience in
the 60's, 70's, 80's in the old days, or something to that effect. That
was too funny, I laughed out loud when I read that. The "Old timers" said
the same things to us when I started. But I am really encouraged by the
young firefighters who work for the FS now. There are some top notch, hard
working, dedicated and responsible firefighters out there, in all regions.
I have some that work on my district and they started in 2002.

My dream is to see a federal wildland fire department, run by experienced
fire people who support professional fire management programs. I absolutely
cannot believe what we have to "fight for" in todays agency just to do our
jobs right. Basic fire management organizational and fundamental principles
are constantly challenged with lack of funding, lack of support, and lack
of understanding. But we won't give up, we keep fighting and standing up
for what is right.

I appreciate the work Casey and the FWFSA is doing, keep up the good work!

Kevin J

4/7 Food for thought... from the R5 Chief Officer's meeting

Gordon Graham on Admiral Rickover's 7 Rules for Success:

  1. You must have a rising standard of quality over time and well above the minimum standard.
  2. People involved in complex systems have to be highly capable.
    • Gordon Q1 to the audience: If you hire idiots, will they always be idiots?
      Response from the audience: yes
    • Gordon Q2 to the audience: If you promote idiots, will they always be idiots?
      Response from the audience: yes
      (Gordon: Ahhhhhhh ha...)
  3. The key role of supervision must be to
    • spot issues before they become problems and
    • deal with them before they become problems.
  4. You must have a healthy respect for dangers of the job
  5. Training must be constant and rigorous and must focus on high risk, low frequency events
  6. Audits are essential
  7. The organization and members must have the ability to
    • analyze past data (strategic, organizational, operational and environmental) and
    • continue to study accumulated data

NorCal Tom

4/7 Having been through an A76 study, I’ll gripe about my

For my personal sanity, I just had to accept it and
make the best of it. Decisions were already made way
above me and there was nothing I could do but
  • The timeline to answer predictions of work for
    the next 5 years was extremely short.
  • The questions also did not cover our entire scope
    of work, they only asked specific questions that
    left a lot of work unaccounted for.
  • Answers needed to fit in the provided form for
    easier editing, no room to further describe duties.
    It was like management really did not realize all that
    we did.

I think the FS is paying for transferring and/or promoting
troublesome people.

Prepare to apply for your own jobs, on a very short
notice, then it is not open long (if the Forest
Service wins the study). I had to apply for my job
twice, not good for morale. Then I did not qualify for
my position that I had for 16 years because of the way
I answered the AVUE questions, the questions were
slanted toward management, purchasing and planning. So
I re-did them to qualify and still was not the best
candidate, I heard that this was common as most Radio
Techs did not do that type of work. They filled over
300 positions in 2 weeks, so the weight of AVUE
ratings were the only thing that mattered, heard they
had no time to go through applications thoroughly.

In all, it is a very frustrating process; causes a lot
of stress, Techs are having health problems. I’m not
able to do my job efficiently, as I now have the time
and expense of the EUSC ticket process added to the
simplest of tasks. To me it seems the whole process
was to give greater control to the WO and make money
for IBM.


4/7 HUTCH,

If you're reading, would you please email me? I'd like to talk
with you on the phone and I've lost your contact info.


PS Rax is retiring tomorrow! Bon voyage!
Ya'll gonna give him an apron? <grin>

4/7 I heard all the folks involved in the GS-8 Classification Audit were subjected to a "confidentiality agreement" the second day. Too bad, it might have helped with rumor control and how folks felt about the "process".

Is classification something that should be kept secret until the Chief acts? Or should the Chief act on relevant facts from the field?

A good old fashioned FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request with specific information gathering requests can trump a non-authorized or non-allowed by law "confidentiality agreement"........ or actions by the Chief. Confidentiality agreements are only authorized and approved in limited circumstances by statute, legislation, and policy. Somebody messed up in this case. I can't wait for the squirming.

Classification decisions and appeals are not exempt from FOIAs...... There is case law to support it. OPM releases these decisions all the time with minimal redactions. The Forest Service will have to release the decisions one way or the other regardless of "confidentiality agreements".


..... yes, Mr. Rey, I am a San Bernardino NF Employee who laughs at you - at your lack of preparation for the issues.... Don't blame Ray Q or any others in the Forest Service..... Blame Yourself......... You didn't take the time to prepare for this Congressional Hearing..... You are the uneducated one elevated to an appointed post without working your way up through the ranks. I will take you on (before Congress).... tit for tat.


Harsh... Ab.

4/7 A couple of things -

To the ? person -

Yes, we did have classes to help out the apprentices before taking 190. It used to be that they got together in study groups, but this was up to them. After having quite a few not pass, we made it known that it was expected that they came to these classes. I know of several people who thought they "knew it all" and never bothered to study because they had a couple of seasons under their belts. It was a rude shock to them to find out how little they really knew. The apprentice who didn't pass this year was an outstanding person and I was saddened to find out they wouldn't be with us. I think they are one of those people who just don't test well. Hopefully they won't give up and will go for it next year.

To BB -

I will agree with you on AVUE. I find it easy to do, but then again, I have done it almost 40 times this year alone. I help out anyone (both agency employees and the public) who needs help filling out the application. I sympathize with anyone trying to use it for the first time - I remember the horror of it all. And don't blame HR for the ambiguous KSAs. We aren't the ones who pick them out. They are the most poorly done KSAs I've ever seen.

Can you tell me what feeding animals in a lab, zoo, or store has to do with firefighting? Still can't figure that one out!!

Still in HR with sore calves

4/7 My two cents....

So here are my thoughts on a couple of things that have been popping up in the forum. These are my thoughts on these things. If you get b*tt hurt over them so be it! They are my feelings on everything.

Competitive Outsourcing:
If you like your job, write your senator and rep.; support and assist your Union in everyway possible. If you like your job, fight for it and stick up for yourself. Burying your head in the sand like an Ostrich does nothing.

Current Budget:
You reap what you pay for! Less IA resources larger fires! More money spent. It isn't a safety issue... Don't have the support? back out and wave!

I went through this program and everyone knows... It went from and experienced fast track for good firefighters to a mass hiring of anyone that will take the job. Alot of times in Region 5 bypassing better qualified candidates for less qualified racially acceptable candidates... It isn't the forest's choice.. It is coming down from the region. Everyone knows that California is the most litigated state in the nation! We'll have the arab, black, and white guy settlements soon. The forest Service fire service is about extremes...One way or the other...We don't always hire the best person for the job. I've seen plenty of people promoted on ineptitude. It's a government agency it's a popularity contest and political satire not fair...May the worst candidate, but the best kiss ass win!

Women in the fire service:
There are some dang good female firefighters out there. I know a few that are harder and badder than any male firefighter I have ever met! I've also met some that need to find a good desk job and keep their butts out of the woods! It happens! Deal with it! Male/female we are all brothers and sisters and the work we do and the heart we have for the job we love defines us, not the sex.

Drugs in the fire service:
It happens...Until you pay better and set higher hiring standards and get rid of F-ing AVUE and their bullsh@t system it is going to happen! Deal with it case by case and move on!

That is all from me!

Thanks Ab,

Going FS to municipal

We're really sorry to lose you from the fed ranks. Be safe and don't be a stranger here. Ab.

4/6 Ab

Just saw on CBS news that Chief R. David Paulison, acting director of
FEMA has been nominated as permanent director.

4/6 Dear Bud:

The link which you have provided simply affords folks to read the prepared statement of Mark Rey which, more likely than not, he simply read from prior to any questioning. The public may not actually see a posted transcript of the question & answer period for months. Thus what was written in the news article previously posted was simply a reporter's summation of the question & answer period which came after the joint statement from the FS & DOI.

To gain a realistic perspective of what really went on you either have to rely on reporters or know someone on the Hill.

Sadly, the hearing conflicted with Senate debate on an immigration bill. A number of Senators who we had hoped would attend the hearing instead were on the Senate floor...after all it is an election year.

At the invitation of staff from the full committee (Energy & Natural Resources) the FWFSA crafted questions which we hoped would be posed by the subcommittee chairman to Mr. Rey and FS Chief Bosworth. Apparently Chief Bosworth was a no-show. While it is disappointing that the text of our questions were not posed "ver batim" it is clear congress is starting to understand the "shell game of budgetary mismanagement by the Forest Service."

Mr. Rey is the typical federal agency bureaucrat that, as was evident by his testimony, can engage an abbreviated Senate subcommittee with smoke & mirrors and for the most part come away unscathed.

Notice how he seamlessly comments on the use of Preparedness funding stating that of the $666 million received, $478 goes to the regions and the remaining $188 million "supports a variety of services, such as...the Albuquerque Service Center..."

Federal wildland firefighters, regional leadership and the organizations that represent them think that is a flat out misuse of preparedness funds resulting in understaffing, recruitment & retention problems and a variety of problems Rey is professional enough to stay away from.

Fortunately we are beginning to educate folks on the Hill as to what the heck is really going on. The Agency and its hired spokesman can tap dance all they want around the real issues and continue to think they can blow smoke up congress's you-know-what. They feel comfortable that they can continue to do this largely because of exactly what happened yesterday...scheduling conflicts with floor debates and votes.

An Interior Appropriations hearing a few weeks ago didn't have any mention of fire or firefighters. Many of those members failed to attend the hearing because of scheduling conflicts.

Thus all we can do is continue to educate folks on the Hill and look for any and every opportunity to blow the cover off the status quo. Perhaps we'll have a better opportunity in the House. Perhaps we'll be able to call for a separate and distinct hearing in the House Resources Committee or Forest & Forest Health Subcommittee where our questions will have to be answered.

Our questions and commentary sent to the Energy & Natural Resources Committee staff will be available for review on the FWFSA web site under News & Legislation hopefully by tomorrow. Or, if someone would like to review them sooner, please feel free to email me at cjudd@fwfsa.org and I will send a copy to you.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/6 Hello,

I was wondering if anyone has a copy of the old
S-217 Helicopter Crewmember package. Specifically the
old student workbooks, and especially the instructors
guide. Contact Ab, and he has my contact info.

Sean Cox

4/6 Fire and All Risk Presentation:

I'd like to send out a thanks to everyone who responded to my request for
information on wildland firefighting. Some really great info., pics., and video.
Thanks to your help, I'm feeling pretty good about how my presentation is
coming together. I think it will make a lasting impact on my audience.

Thanks again,
J.D. the student

4/6 Regarding the AP News Article: Senators Criticize Forest Service Budget As Wildfire Season Nears

Here is the link to the testimony Mark Rey presented at the hearing.

Doesn't sound like the reporter listened to or read it.

4/6 For anyone planning on attending the Joe Ely Memorial Celebration:

Plan to meet at Glenn Oaks Memorial Park at 1030 hrs. to go over final touches for the ceremony. We will be leaving the MNF S.O. at 0930. We can either convoy over or meet there. Phebe tells me that the road is closed with the rolling dips so we will have to go through Hamilton City. It sound like we will have a significant amount of company from other agencies. The City of Chico, CDF, and the FS will be present with at least one piece of fire apparatus, maybe more. We have two members of the FS honor guard arriving tomorrow night in Chico. The CDF may provide members of their honor guard as well.

This is how we envision what will take place. The memorial takes place in Chico at the Glenn Oaks Memorial Park on Saturday at 11:00. This is on Hegan Lane.

Joe Ely was cremated last week so there will be no coffin. However, the minister will give a talk at the grave site. After that, he will allow the family to share experiences with everyone. Following that, the minister will introduce Tom Contreras (MNF forest Supervisor) who will share with everyone knowledge of the unique contribution Joe made to the fire fighting community. Then he will present a picture to Charlotte (last name ?). After further comments by Tom, he will introduce the honor guard who will come in and present a flag to Tom. In turn, Tom will present the flag to Joe Ely's oldest son Frank Ely. The honor guard may bring their bell and ring it at an appropriate time. After the flag presentation, at an agreed upon moment, Dave Roak will play taps. This will conclude our tribute to Joe Ely. It is possible, nothing in stone, that an aircraft may do a few flybys.

Might as well plan for the worst. Bring gear for foul weather.

One of the sons of Joe Ely said a reception will be held afterward at the Trinity Methodist Church in Chico. They really welcome everyone to attend. For those who can attend, we will have to get directions at the memorial.

Family members again and again (sometimes with tears) have expressed their appreciation to the Forest Service and other agencies for paying for such honor to Joe.

sent via TC

Here's another fine historical photo of Joe and others with bi-plane from sometime in the past. Thanks TC.
And a close-up. And another look at the photo of Joe at the Rattlesnake Fire Memorial dedication. Ab.

4/6 Snapper, you said

Keep in mind that the oldest bones found in the world are from Africa and surely we are all descendents.

Actually you are absolutely correct and this is a different interpretation to put on the ethnicity question, although I don't believe it's one the judge had in mind. <grin>

There's a project on National Geographic called the Genographic project in which National Geographic maps the human family tree. www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/

Article here: Global Gene Project to Trace Humanity's Migrations

Our family is participating. Anyone can. It's really interesting. It costs $110 per person, I think. We're waiting on info from my husband's family. In my family of origin... One of my brothers supplied the male cheek cells for the y-DNA and my sister supplied the female (females carry the mitochondrial or mother's DNA). Both lines start in Africa. Our female line goes straight to Scandinavia via Spain, our male line goes through the Middle East and wanders further east over into the Caucasus, north into Siberia and then east through Europe ending in Spain.

Fascinating stuff! Join the project. Use it to tell the truth on your forms if you're so inclined. Then seek qualified and diverse people to fill your ranks! We've gained some good skills for reaching out.


PS. Misery Whip, I'll deal with you later. I always mis-spell that word!

4/6 From Firescribe:

AP News Article: Senators criticize Forest Service budget as wildfire season nears

Western senators on Wednesday took turns criticizing the Forest Service's plans for fighting wildfires, calling the budget a “shell game” and questioning whether the agency is prepared for what in some areas could be the worst fire season in years.

. . .

Rey defended his budget, saying the agency has increased funding for firefighting and has a reserve fund available for emergencies.

But senators wanted to know whether the Forest Service is devoting enough of its budget to fire prevention, controlling bark beetles and training firefighters.

4/6 snapper

How dare you lie to such an honest establishment? I
cannot believe you would misrepresent yourself just to
make your life easier and you could actually do your
job without distractions, shame on you, liar. I meen
the only thing I have to put up with is a HC supt.
telling everyone he is ex special forces from the navy
when he was actually a signal man. It's a good thing
us R5 guys are so honest.


haw haw haw. Don't we all bend the truth some time or other? Ab.

4/6 To JS

Discrimination is illegal, but that doesn't stop you from supporting it. You R5s need to quit griping about your plight with court mandated discrimination and start doing something constructive about it, like civil disobedience in all claiming minority status. But I guess civil disobedience is right and just if you're a minority, and illegal and immoral if you're not. Can you imagine having everyone in the Forest Service prove their ethnicity that claim it. Keep in mind that the oldest bones found in the world are from Africa and surely we are all descendents......


4/5 Ab,

Here’s a link to some Katrina pictures I took and posted on flickr.


I was using my camera phone as a mobile blog for my wife and friends
while I was out there.


Thanks Harry. Thanks for the suggestion, John. Ab.

4/5 Thought I'd share a Fire Story that I received in the
email. Sounds like a character building experience all
youngsters should go through.

And There I Was


Mutiny On Boulder Mountain
By James M. Hagen

2714 words 16 September 2003

The year was 1942 and the United States was at war. With this, the Second World War in full bloom, manpower on the home front was short on strong, able-bodied men. Women, old men and young boys filled the gap left by our men in the armed forces. This was well expressed by a song popular on the radio and the jukeboxes. It was “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old” and the lyrics went like this:

They’re either too young or too old,
They’re either too gray or too grassy green;
The pickin’s are poor and the crop is lean.
What’s good is in the army, what’s left will never harm me;
I’m finding it east to stay good as gold –
They’re either too young or too old.
Tomorrow I go hiking with an Eagle Scout unless
I get a call from grandpa for a snappy game of chess.
I’ve looked the field over and lo and behold –
They’re either too young or too old.

I was one of those Eagle Scouts, sixteen years old, and was spending the summer on the staff of Boy Scout Camp Geronimo. In those days, Camp Geronimo was located across the road from Kohl’s Ranch on Tonto Creek. In later years the camp was moved to its present location off the fire control road under the Mogollon Rim. A friend and fellow scout, John Shipley and I were in charge of the handicraft lodge where many of the scouts would spend time doing craft kits or making articles from leather. Moccasins and tooled belts were the favorites. The aroma of the fresh leather purchased from Porter’s Saddle Shop in Phoenix added to the pleasantry of the craft shop environment.

At the end of a hot summer day we gathered for dinner in the dining hall. Dinner was not yet over when some Forest Service personnel came and asked for all young men 16 years or older to stand. Whatever this was, it sounded very serious. I stood, as well as 10 other young men, mostly staff members. “What’s up?” was my immediate thought as it probably was with the others. However there was no time for questions and answers – only time to listen and respond.

“Come with us” were the orders issued and we found ourselves recruited as fire fighters. We had no knowledge of the fire fighting and were literally conscripted into service. However we were excited at the prospect of a great adventure. With no time for packing, planning, or other preparations we were herded into the back of a stake body truck and sent speeding southward through the dust of the Bush Highway, the predecessor to today’s Highway 87. The Bush Highway was unpaved, narrow, and always a difficult hazardous route to travel. The destination, as yet unknown to us, was Sunflower. Our driver, called Punjab, was a big burly Eastern Indian who drove the winding roads with a vengeance. When we went through the Sycamore Creek area we had to get down low on the truck bed to avoid being whipped by branches of the Sycamore trees that hung over the very narrow road.

Sunflower was about half way to Phoenix and usually just a pit stop for something cold to drink. Just before this wide spot in the road called Sunflower, we pulled off the side at the Sunflower ranger station. By now it was dark and the ranger suggested we get some sleep before starting out for the fire front. Most of us had grabbed our sleeping bags to bring along, but this would be the last good night’s sleep we would get for nearly two weeks.

Morning came before daylight when we were awakened and given our fire-fighting tools and marching orders. The fire was on Boulder Mountain, southeast of Sunflower. In the early dawn we could see the smoke nearly five miles away. We would have to “hoof it” to the fire line.

Each of us was given a fire-fighting tool that would be our constant companion: axe, rake, hoe, etc. I received a tool new to me and that most people have never seen or heard about – a brush hook. This tool is a hybrid between an axe and a scythe. It has a heavy head with a long sharp curved blade and is used to clear brush. Whatever tool you had pretty much determined what tasks you would be assigned. I learned that just a few hours of using a brush hook would tire out even a strong man.

An older man said, “come” and we followed him, leaving everything behind except the clothes on our back and our one fire-fighting tool – for me it was the brush hook. It was rough climbing and a long hike up the mountain to get to the fire line, especially carrying a heavy tool. We would sorely miss our sleeping bags. Communications were utterly lacking, so our parents, siblings and friends would not know about our “adventure” until it was over. There were no news helicopters or journalists to even let the rest of the world know that there was a fire. We were going off into the wild unknown.

As we approached the fire there was a noise that was ominous and almost frightening. It sounded like the roar of a gigantic waterfall such as Niagara. We asked our leader “What’s that noise”” and he explained that it was the fire devouring everything in its path of destruction. There roar never let up – only intensified at times. The thrill of adventure now took on a more serious if not more exciting tone.

Our eleven young inexperienced but energetic scouts were joined by ten seasoned and experienced much older men, making twenty-one of us to fight a fire that had already burned more than 1000 thousand acres of cedars, scrub oak, mesquite, and manzanita and was completely out of control. The fire was burning westward on the north side of Boulder Mountain which has a series of north/south ridges leading to the valley below. Each ridge top would be a potential place where a firebreak might stop the fire’s advance.

John Shipley and I had known each other for many years. We worked closely together on the fire line just like we had worked together many times before. We were good friends but opposites in personality. John was laid-back and a fun-loving, joking type person where I tended to be more quiet and serious. We complemented each other and worked well together. Laboring in close proximity on the fire line was a good bonding experience. The first day’s assignment was to build a firebreak down a long north/south ridge to the west of the fire. This would consume all of what was left of the day. The work was difficult, but we tackled the job with enthusiasm. Much of the brush was manzanita that could not be hoed, chopped, axed or otherwise moved, not even with the brush hook. Consequently the firebreak had to detour around such obstacles.

Late in the evening as we quit for lack of visibility we moved out of the danger area onto a high point away from the fire. We watched that night as the fire crossed the bottom of the canyon. At that point it roared like a (jet plane) up the hill toward our firebreak. Reaching the hilltop, the flames leaped hundreds of feet into the air scattering sparks everywhere. We watched in amazement and wonder at the awesome force of this firestorm. The power, the fury, and the thunderous noise were like unto nothing any of us had ever experienced. (Multi-engine jet aircraft were yet in the future).

Then the fire jumped the line and started its slower burn down the side of the next canyon. Our job for the next day would be to once again build a firebreak down another ridge ahead of the fire. At this point you might be asking “Where were the Hotshots, the water-drop helicopters, the slurry bombers, the bulldozers?” They didn’t exist. Fires were fought the hard way: with hand tools and hard labor. We wondered if there wasn’t a better way. The thrill of adventure was gone. It was now just a hot, dusty, smoky and backbreaking full-time task.

A t-shirt and Levis were our fire fighting uniform. These might have been fine down in the valley, but now, here on this mountaintop, the night air became very bold. How could you get any sleep when you had goose bumps and your teeth were chattering? Not one of us had a jacket or even a warm shirt. One of the old-timers showed us how to sleep warmly. Making a bed of hot coals and covering it with dirt provided the warmth in a unique way to survive the night. However, you had to be careful not to toss in your bed or you would stir up the coals. More than one “ouch” was heard in the night.

What about food and water? A light aircraft, flown out of Phoenix by A.L Moore and Sons Mortuary, and part of the Civil Air Patrol, attempted to drop us food, tools, and water. We got the food OK, but the tools floated down by parachute into a distant canyon and we never found them. The water was a perfect drop, pointed right at our location. When the parachute opened, it ripped the handle off the water canister, which then came down like a bomb, exploding in our midst. So much for our hopes for good clean water.

Our food was army K-rations. These consisted of a wax-sealed box that contained a small can of pre-cooked prepared food, a few hard “dog biscuits” and a bar of high-melting point chocolate. “Beggars can’t be chooser” and we were glad for our two or three K-rations each day. The chocolate was as precious as gold.

Every day someone took our one pack mule and went to a distant horse-watering trough to bring back our drinking water. It was brackish but we drank it. Our first casualty was a scout that fell off the mule into a cactus. He got cactus spines under his skin that could not be removed without surgery. He was sent out and now twenty of us continued on. We felt sorry for him, but later realized that he was the lucky one.

The second day was a repeat of the first: work a 16 hour day hoeing, raking, axing and whacking down bushes and small trees to make a not-very-wide break down a very long ridge. Then before dark retreating to a safe spot to watch the fire advance and jump our fire break. Feelings of hopelessness were gradually creeping into our minds, but we approached each day with determination to conquer this ugly beast.

The rugged, rocky terrain took its toll on us in many ways; wounds from cactus and sharp brush; sprains from stumbling over rocks, and sunburn from long hot days with no shade. Our confidence and morale were approaching the breaking point. By about the 6th day of all this my boot soles had come loose and were clacking with every step like a pair of flippers. But live with it – there was not even such a thing as duct tape to mend them. We wore the same clothes for the duration of the fire. With barely enough water to drink, there was no water to wash with or to brush our teeth even if we had possessed a toothbrush. Older men could not shave and their beards were a trap for dust and the soot from the fire. Those few who had hats had a distinct white band across their foreheads just above the black of their faces. We had become quite a motley crew.

The work went on and each day was a repeat of the previous one: spending all day building a fire break; then watching as the fire would jump the break and head toward the next ridge. This was extremely frustrating and heartbreaking. It made the whole situation seem futile.

One of the older men was our leader and he handed out the work assignments. On one day there were a couple of spot fires outside the main fire area. John Shipley and I were assigned to get these quickly put out before they could spread. We made a good team and the task was soon done. That was exciting and rewarding, but even more exciting was the huge diamond back rattlesnake that we came across. He was all of 6 feet in length and 3 or 4 inches in diameter; the largest rattler either of us had ever seen. We wanted to kill him for the skin and rattles, but he escaped into a cavern under a large rock shelf. Rather foolishly, we tried to pull him out with a long yucca stalk, but couldn’t. We poked and prodded but he was deeply entrenched in his rocky retreat. Also we needed to leave and get back to the main fire line. This was neither the first nor the last rattler we would see on the mountain.

Another day when water was almost gone our leader showed us how to find water by digging a deep hole in the sand of an arroyo near green vegetation. He dug the hole and found moisture that, given time, (probably hours) would seep into the hole and provide enough water for survival. We were too busy to wait for the water to seep in, but the knowledge that it was there was comforting.

By about day 7 or 8 there were ten young men who were tired, hungry, thirsty and ragged. The blistering days, hard work, and frigid nights were taking their toll on morale of the troops. It didn’t seem to bother the older men, but the rest of us were “mumbling in the beards that we didn’t have”. With food and water further rationed, the water hardly fit to drink, and the fire more than 20 men could possibly stop, there was mutinous talk among our band of scouts. We desperately wanted to leave and go back to civilization. Our talk included how we might slip away, how we might get back the 60 miles or so to camp Geronimo, and what fate would await us if we did this. Walk the plank? Face a firing squad? By comparing our situation with that of our friends in the armed forces, we managed to squelch that urge to mutiny. Certainly we had it good compared to soldiers in combat, or at least so we rationalized.

On about the 8th day, wonder of wonders, the Forest Service came driving up the mountain in 4 wheel drive trucks with food, water and over a hundred Indians from New Mexico to join the effort. Instead of the bugle calls and the shout “The cavalry are coming”” it was truck horns blowing and “Indians to the rescue!” That night they prepared us a feast. Huge steaks broiled over a bed of coals, fried potatoes, corn, biscuits, fresh water, coffee, and all you could eat. Nothing could ever have tasted better. Our thanksgiving for this was surely as great as that of the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. We too were out numbered by the Indians and were thankful for their presence.

With a rejuvenated crew of 20 and over 100 reinforcements the fire was contained in the next two days. It had burned nearly 20,000 acres before being stopped. A crew of happy men and boys left the area rejoicing in a difficult mission accomplished.

At $1 per hour, ten scouts went home a bit richer materially, but much richer for the experience on the fire line. The mutiny never occurred, nor was it mentioned aloud outside our group of young men, and we were thankful for that and for the lessons learned – lessons that would last a lifetime: firefighting techniques, the value of hard work, the spirit of cooperation, patience, persistence, endurance, and survival skills. These cannot be bought at any price. The reward for our efforts was the satisfaction of accomplishing a seemingly impossible task under extremely difficult situations.


Interesting. Kids grew up a lot quicker in those days... Would someone please ask James Hagen if it's OK to have this posted. We can remove it if it's not. Ab.

4/5 Just a note from inside the apprentice world,

I am a 3rd year apprentice and I have seen many minority groups including other women, flow right through the program and wash out. Quite frankly after the washouts I have seen, I would never want to fight fire next to any of them. If you can't pass the 190 test without help or extra explaining you shouldn't be on the fireline in the first place. Also many are failing drug tests or refusing to take them, I also would not want to work on the line with people under the influence of drugs. Quite frankly all of the "fired" or "washed out" new hires shouldn't have been hired in the first place, they filled a quota but not the retention rate plain and simple.

Norcal Firegirl

4/5 Mellie,

Naw, I was still laughing at your response to my teasing. You are such a good sport.

By the way, grammatically the word “lose” would be more appropriate than “loose” in the fourth paragraph of your otherwise impeccable 4/5 post. Unless, of course, you meant to use “loose” in the context of “loose the dogs of war.”

<evil demon grin>< Smithers, release the hounds>


Your Cruel Admirer,

Misery Whip

4/5 Language

I have worked with Navajo crews, must they speak english, The crew boss did but not the whole crew. We need anyone who is willing to work to help fight fire or whatever the assignment. It is good the fs is going to hire more diversity from the people of California, it is to bad it has to be done by courts instead of management.

And as far as being able to write speak and understand english they are a myriad of folks in the outfit who have great difficulty with the spoken word and their spelling is terrible but the still go to Reno every winter.


4/5 reply to Snapper regarding supplying false ethnic heritage

1000 US Code: Up to $10,000 and 10 years in jail.
This is ample reason to not lie to the Federal Goverment.


4/5 I had an opportunity to attend an excellent seminar yesterday sponsored by the California State Fire Firefighter's Association in Orange County. It was there 3rd annual "entrapment seminar". Among the speakers were Bob Sallee, the last living survivor of the Mann Gulch disaster who gave a poignant account of the fire. It was amazing how a very personal and first hand account can draw a large room silent and breathless some 57 years after a tragedy. It was like it was "yesterday". That you so much Bob for sharing. There is still so much we can all learn from that fire.

Also presenting was John Maclean, giving an excellent account of the 30 Mile Fire. It was so clear to me how much this guy's heart and soul is so much in the right place. I have read his books as we all have. And I have heard him speak before as we all have. And I read his apology here as we all did. John said in his speech that sometimes in the last few minutes of a man's life we get to see what they are truly made of. He of course was speaking of hero's such as Don Mackey on Storm King Mountain. Thankfully John, with your writings and talks, we don't have to wait so long to see what your about, or what your made of! Keep up the good work!

Contract County Guy.
4/5 Ab,

I'm not sure what grammatically-correct attributes she may exhibit when she
reads this, but Mellie and I agree.

I think the federal requirements should be the same for wildland
firefighters as it is for pilots and other aviation folks: a person must "be
able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language."

Check the links to any eligibility requirements in CFR Title 14 Chapter 1
Part 61:

vfd cap'n
4/5 BB

If you were Hispanic why would you fill out the paper work claiming it? If
you didn't, that would mean your outfit would never meet its goals for
hiring and every job you put in for you would have a better chance at. You
could have 95% diverse workforce but if only 10% claim it, you're still short
of your goal as a Forest, as a Region, as the entire FS......


I know at least 4 firefighters with Hispanic roots that do not check the ethnicity box and whose name doesn't reflect their ethnicity. Ray Quintanar R5 Chief is one of them. I heard from someone though that he doesn't really count... Ab.

4/5 BB,

R5 is not touting bogus numbers on the retention issue. Every meeting I
have been to I've seen accurate info. Gary Beal can pull the info out of
the R5 database. There's no doubt there is a problem.

And if you think the retention issue does not get passed upstream to the
WO, you're wrong again.

NorCal Tom

4/5 Ab,

Just wanted to let you know that "The Evergreen Supertanker
demonstration tour is being rescheduled while the system undergoes
additional refinement. " (from their website)


Thanks, we didn't see that. Would someone please let us know their new schedule when it's known? Ab.

4/5 Reminder:

The 747 is gonna do a drop at McClellan in Sac today. If anyone is there and takes photo or short video, please send 'er in. In fact, if anyone has photos from any of their appearances, please send them. Thanks, Ab.

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


4/5 Ab, discrimination is illegal, but that doesn't stop these judges or our
outfit from doing it....If more folks in your R5 do what I have promoted by
filling out the AD 1086 form claiming minority status then the FS could
quit hiring unqualified people and get back to hiring people based on their
qualification no matter what their ethnicity. Rather than saying lying is
illegal and this hiring practice is legal, try looking at it as civil
disobedience. But maybe in the 1950s you would have supported "separate but
equal" interpretations of our courts as legal, and not supported the Martin
Luther Kings of this county and just being law breakers....What say

I believe we can hire qualified people and also make an effort to hire diversity. That may be more difficult in some parts of the country than in others. Retaining diversity is another issue... Ab.

4/5 ? who asked about S190 --

When I took the 5 month CDF, USFS, local cities FF1 training (in 2000), there was large attrition during the first few weeks (41 down to 30 in 2 wks & by the end, down to 16!). After the first 2 weeks people settled down, learned and practiced the material and did amazingly well. Then we hit S190 and many people failed. In the case of our class, I think it was in part because people thought the material and the test would be similar to the past, and even when it seemed the material was different, people mistakenly didn't think the test would be. It was. There were lists of memorization and the test was detailed. As an academic it was a snap for me, but a lot of the previous material and testing had had a kinesthetic component with information often being linked to the doing or performing of the testing, which provides body cues for the brain to imagine "acting through" the tests. Many excellent firefighters I know are primarily kinesthetic learners (as opposed to relying on auditory or visual modes for learning, btw a good teacher employs all 3 modes in teaching). Anyway firefighters are "just do it" kinds of people as opposed to "just list it" kinds of people. This isn't an ethnic thing at all, although Hispanics may trust memory gained from the doing more than memory gained through the listing (auditory and visual language). It may also be easier to rehearse sequences of steps in a context of body movements than to imagine them on a piece of paper.

Another factor... people perform better on tests if testing occurs in the same mode as the learning. (I won't go into too great a detail about the hippie guy who came to my HSU stats class stoned fairly routinely. I had to warn him that research suggested he'd need to come to the exam stoned to be able to perform... He did... It didn't help too much.)

In any case, back to wildland firefighters... if you switch testing/knowledge modes on people in an exam setting, you can set them up for failure. When I taught stats at HSU I'd get these big vietnam vet, natural resources majors (GI bill) in class. Sometimes they would clutch (adrenalin) on exams to the point of not being able to write because they were stressed and sitting down. Adrenalin (fight or flight) can be moderated if people breathe. I'd encourage them to stretch, breathe deeply and pretend they were calming themselves to take a shot. To make sure they weren't blindsided, I always put a practice exam on reserve in the library for them to try out. I wasn't testing exam taking skills. I was testing their knowledge of stats and their thinking. When I taught at research methods CMU, I began the class by teaching students how to memorize large amounts of material. There are a number of techniques for recalling lists of things and important to know if you're going to have to perform "just list it" in the academic arena.

So I'd say there is something about S190 that is different and tested differently. We shouldn't loose good people at the outset for the wrong reasons...

I personally think firefighters MUST SPEAK ENGLISH!

BB --Hug for you!

Misery Whip -- did I scare you off???!!


4/5 I ran across this website: www.wfsi.org/women_and_firefighting/issues.php but they have very good ideas about hiring qualified people representative of the whole population, not just white guys (no offence, I know you guys need jobs too).

This site is mostly geared toward diversifying structural fire ranks with women, but there is some wildland and racial minority info as well. There are a lot of reasons Wildfire agencies have a hard time finding and retaining a diverse workforce and there are a lot of good ideas for solving this issue, the biggest hurdle is recognizing that the same hiring practices and work environments that attract mostly young white males are not going to work to attract others. I know this because it hasn't worked yet. When you only have round holes, you will not get any square pegs...you might get a few roundish squares (like me) but that's it.

Leaving out the diversity in the workplace is like eating bananas your whole life, sure they are good, but you'd be missing out on all the benefits, vitamins and minerals, in all the other fruit in the bowl. There is a lot of good that can come from a diverse group of people working toward the same goal that you could not get from just a bunch of bananas (no pun intended : ) and yes, you may run into some rotten fruit, but you'd have run into rotten bananas too.

The shift does not have to be hard or costly if we recognize that just because we have a way of doing things does not mean it is always the only or best way. When the fire behavior changes, we change tactics. Here is just some of the info about diversifying the fire workforce found here www.wfsi.org/women_and_firefighting/issues.php?issue=15:

Newcomers and assimilation

How have fire departments dealt with the prospect of any new, previously excluded group seeking to become firefighters? The pattern is the same regardless of the group. The first response is usually to build a wall: to find reasons why X's (people belonging to the given group) "can't" be firefighters. Much energy is spent documenting and defending this position.

When enough X's do eventually become firefighters that this argument is weakened, the response shifts: "Okay; we'll hire X's, but we're not going to change anything for them. They'll just have to deal with the workplace as it is." The changes contemplated by this approach include things like restraining firefighters from racist behavior, taking steps against sexual harassment, and providing restroom privacy for female firefighters (and maintaining it for male firefighters). (To read the rest of this good article, click the link above to go to the webpage. We can't reproduce the rest of it here without violating copyright. Ab.)


Thanks Madfox. I hear what you're saying. In my experience diversity adds a richness to life. Ab.

4/5 I have a question to the folks that posted about the hispanics who failed S-190. Did any of you sit down with these kids and go over what S-190 is all about and answer the questions they have? If that was done, in my mind they should have passed with flying colors. I know it can be done because I have participated in reviewing S-190 for the last couple years for the new apprentices that were selected on my Forest.

4/5 A rant on hiring, Avue, and the Hispanic resolution...

Our lawyers must be morons! The issue is not being represented correctly! We (at least on my forest) have done a very good job of hiring entry level diversity. How they fail to get that fact in front of the judge is a mystery... or it is a conspiracy...

Before you write me off as a nut, think about it... we all know the effort and the results we have shown in the recruitment and hiring in the apprenticeship program, and it is not being recognized. It is much like the bogus numbers on the retention issue that the region touts. So... is it ineptitude? or is it a concerted effort to drive this great organization into the ground?

Avue is part of the problem. How easy is it for target entry level folks to do a good job of getting in a decent application? I just had a session on Avue well presented by an Avue employee, and I must say that it is not all the contractor's fault. But, to expect entry level folks to navigate it is a bit optimistic, at best.

As for filling higher level jobs, it seems that it is our HR folks that are at fault. The arcane KSAs CAN be edited to better reflect what is important to us, but our HR folks will not/do not take advantage of that utility in the program.

IMHO this is negligence on the part of the agency!

In the words of a good friend and colleague of mine, "We are doomed!"

Sorry for the negativity, but things do look bleak.

4/5 As an FMO one time a few years ago I was brought into the Rangers office
and told that Fire was 17% diverse and our goal was 30% and if we didn't
meet that goal that I would not be part of the hiring process. I called a
meeting of all our fire personnel and told that the news. I then produced
the AD 1086 form and told them I was claiming minority status and that they
could do what they wanted, but if we didn't meet our goals there would be
no promotions in house. The next time we ran the numbers Fire was 38%
diverse and the Ranger never bothered me again. Sometimes you can work
within the system to beat the system, and no you can't be asked to prove
your minority status claim.

Food for thought.....


I am giving away no identities in saying this person is not from R5. Whatever the region, lying is illegal. Ab.

4/4 Ty, I want to echo KJ's comments about you being a great brother.

I don't know much about the BLM's Quick Hire program but if it is anything
like the FS's AVUE system it has serious problems. I figure about 25% of
AVUE applicants get hosed in a similar way to you for the reasons that KJ
already addressed and a few others. On our recent referral list for GS-4's
from AVUE we had 160 individuals on the list. I have received at least 25
phone calls from people who tell me that they applied to our location, when
I checked they were not on the referral list and those are just the ones who
took the time to call and ask so I am sure there are many more.

Another way we have hired folks that we want to hire but are not on the
list is by hiring them as students. This is another way you may be able to
get your GS rating elevated. With the FS anyway all you have to do is show
that you are signed up for or planning on attending courses at a JC or
other college. A letter from the school showing your intentions should do,
so if your supervisor will work with you on this you can sign up for some
classes for next winter term and they might be able hire you as a student
hire. Get the details from them.

Hope this helps.

4/4 Today & tomorrow classifiers from BLM & the Forest Service, along with NFFE representatives and several engine captains from R3 & R5 will be meeting in Portland, Oregon to address the nonsensical position classification review recently ordered by Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. The FWFSA is truly honored to have one of its members attending the meeting as an engine captain from R5.

It is our fervent hope that this review, oddly called for at the beginning of what could be a serious fire season, will demonstrate to all concerned once and for all that our federal wildland firefighters are "all risk, "multi-tasked" firefighters deserving of far more than what the agencies or OPM are willing to give them.

As if this weren't enough, the Forest Service has placed fire positions on their list for A-76 outsourcing studies for this year and firefighters throughout the West are bracing for cuts.

While disappointing and discouraging that the Forest Service would even consider such activities at the start of a season already significantly surpassing 10 year averages for acreage burned, it will not go unchallenged.

As our firefighters demonstrate their value to this Nation in Portland, the FWFSA has been provided a significant opportunity to craft questions to be asked to Chief Bosworth and likely Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey tomorrow by the Chairman of the Senate Public Lands & Forests Subcommittee, Senator Larry Craig of Idaho.

While there are no misgivings that the questions actually posed to Chief Bosworth will have been somewhat "tamed" and rendered less "pointed" by the subcommittee staff from those we have actually forwarded to the staff so as to appear "senatorial," we trust they will be serious enough to let Chief Bosworth & Undersecretary Rey know in no uncertain terms that the voices of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters have become loud & clear not only with respect to archaic pay & personnel policies but now the budgetary process & the phenomenon of dollars appropriated by Congress for preparedness budgets being diverted to other non-fire projects. Other questions submitted deal with the classification review and the A-76 studies.

We look forward to this being the start of an eye-opening awareness by Congress of the issues that have plagued our firefighters for far too long. The magnitude of the opportunity presented to the FWFSA to submit such questions cannot be overstated.

We wish our firefighters the best in Portland and hope they will come back with 9s rather than 7s. Such a success will help us continue with our goals of proper classification for our federal wildland firefighters, not the least of which is a GS5/6 for entry level firefighters. It is unconscionable for land management agencies & the Government to expect men & women to risk their lives for GS-3 or GS-4 wages.

With Great Respect for all:

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/4 Rogue Rivers,

We had 13 apprentice positions to fill this year. 6 out of the 13 were of Hispanic descent, and out of those 6, 4 of them came from SoCal. Since we are located in Northern CA, I'm wondering how many will still be with us in a couple of years. We have already lost 2 of them - 1 didn't bother to show up and the other didn't pass the 190 at Academy. In past years, we have lost several employees/apprentices because of distance from their families who either can't make the move due to money constraints or won't make the move because of other family nearby.

We try but it seems like an uphill climb. Guess we better put on our crampons and start digging in......

An HR person with sore calves

4/4 Ty -

I'm hoping this can help you out. I'm assuming that the GS-03 you were
awarded is a temporary/seasonal position?

It looks to me like you do qualify for a GS-04. However, there are a
couple of things that would have resulted in the 03. Temporary positions
03,04 and 05's are mostly budget driven. Year to year, depending on MEL
(most efficient level) funding, you have "X" number of dollars to hire "X"
number of employees, if the money isn't there you will not have very many
GS-04's and GS-05's. Currently I have six people that "qualify" for GS-04
& 05's but I don't have the money, so they're hired as GS-03 & 04's.
The other thing that could have happened to you, (this has happened to a
couple of my employees in the past) is that when you filled out your
resume/application you did not include the exact dates of your prior
employment. ie. If you were employed as a firefighter from April to
November but you did not include the specific dates of those months,
personnel will not award that time to you for grade purposes. I was
informed by personnel that they will assume that you worked from April 30th
to November 1. This will short your time by two months if the true dates
were April 1 to Nov. 30.

If your problem truly is in not being "rated" properly and has nothing to
do with money, you need to speak with your supervisor and personnel. If
they will allow a re-submission, take another look at your resume. Insure
that you described appropriately in detail ALL of your duties within those
positions that you previously held (don't write "fought fire" as many
people do, surprisingly), include the exact dates of employment along with
verification of your education - transcripts/diploma. Hopefully this
helps, good luck and kudos to you for being an awesome big brother.


4/4 Ab,

Hoping maybe someone with more time on than me has had a similar experience and can help me out. I recently accepted a job, and submitted all my paperwork to HR, believing I'd been hired into an 04 spot. I just found out that I was somehow mistaken (???) and that quickhire (BLM) only rated me out as as a GS-03 despite my having a season on a type II in Northern Cal, another season on a USFS engine on the Angeles N.F., and a year and a half as a "municipal" firefighter in a jurisdiction that's overwhelmingly wildland (8 sq. mi of residential and light commercial interspersed in 232 sq. miles of crops and grassland). I've been through red card training four times prior, have the extras (S-212, S-211, S-215, S-131, etc.) and I'm a certified California firefighter I, EMT-I D/AA, and HAZMAT FRO-D. A.S. degree in fire science as well... I /think/ I should qualify for the GS-04... am I wrong? I've looked at the way the qualifications work on the job announcement and it looks like I got hosed...

I was wondering if anyone knew if it's possible to get myself bumped up to an 04 at this point, and if so, then HOW? Do I talk to quickhire, BLM human resources, someone else? I know my supt. has nothing to do with the rating process... and he's the last person I want to bug with this... so I'm not sure who to go to?

Also, please don't get me wrong... I'm grateful to have a job offer at all, and I don't want to make waves. BUT, I have a younger brother with special needs (autism) who due to financial difficulties can't rely on my parents for support any longer. I'm responsible for him now, and every little bit helps. I'd normally be one to go with the flow and keep my mouth shut, while thanking god that I even got offered a chance to do this work I love. But I'm more than willing to fight for a little extra income when it's to take care of my family. Any help or advice would be great.


4/4 The Forest Service has been non-competitive in creating a diverse workforce representing their surrounding communities for years. It isn't just prevalent in Southern California.

The are also large communities of Hispanics throughout the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, the North Coast, and just north of the stateline in Oregon.

The Southern California Forests are running closer to a 25-35 percent representation of Hispanics in the workforce. Why isn't the rest of the region?

Rogue Rivers
4/4 Re: R-5 Hispanic Settlement Agreement

I wonder if the management and attorneys from the Forest Service represented the problem correctly before the judge?

The Forest Service in Region 5 is having tremendous problems with recruitment and retention across the board. These problems are compounded when you are trying to hire to obtain a diverse workforce representative of the surrounding population.

The Fire Program in Region 5 seems to be specifically targeted in the "ability" to bring diversity to the agency. There are other under-represented groups also out there such as Women, African-Americans, Asian-Pacific Islanders, etc......

If the Agency expects the Fire Program to help them meet diversity, including the Hispanic Settlement Agreement, then the Agency needs to recognize they are competing with other fire agencies who are also seeking to hire for diversity.

We hire folks from all ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds only to lose them within a few years (or less). The large Hispanic apprentice hiring from a few years ago is an excellent example of the problem..... there were problems with recruitment and especially problems with retention. On my Forest, we were only able to retain about 40% of our apprentices regardless of diversity.

The Forest Service in Region 5 has become a recruitment source (at all levels) for other agencies offering better pay, benefits, and working conditions.

4/4 Ab

You are absolutely justified in your rant. H*ll it is not a rant it is a homily.

We have these perceived discrimination issues; sorry, when it comes to public safety; only the BEST QUALIFIED.! Be it a male, female, whatever race or ethnic origin. Just pass the tests, (medical, physical, toxicology) and be ranked for selection. And by the way, speak English enough to understand the radio traffic and to "pass the information on".

4/4 Hi Ab,

I do strongly agree with you on the outreach abolishment! I just finished dealing with outreach for a position, I had to have a minimum of 25 outreach interested folks before they would fly the job! 25 interested people? now that took me and my co-parts 4 weeks to get 25 just think how many I will have apply next week. ZERO why cause they have jobs elsewhere now.
Has anyone ever seen a Municipal, or state fire agency ask who is interested before they are interested? OUTREACH is a cost that is basically a bunch of BS. I figured it cost the FS about $11,000 for the outreach I did. And we're asked to watch cost!!!! What a joke! Lets just drop outreach and then maybe we will get those qualified folks that are under the Hispanic agreement to actually apply. When they are recruited professionally!!! So that's my rant and rave......


4/3 Ab,

Charlie Medina, our local district ranger and a true friend, has retired after 40 years of “caring for the land and serving people” with the Forest Service. Charlie gave a lot of assistance and encouragement in getting Colorado Firecamp off the ground.

The newspaper ran this article about his experiences, especially as an Hispanic in the FS:

In contrast to that, I am baffled by OIG's failure to address the language barriers on some contract crews with their recent FS audit:

"Recommendation No. 8

Ensure that PNWCG completes the pre-season language assessment and certification, and is ready to implement the procedure for the 2006 fire season. Coordinate with PNWCG to adopt the procedure for national contract crews.

Agency Response.

In its written response dated March 2, 2006, FS stated that it had planned a pilot test of programs based on English as a second language with a local community college. However, firefighting crew contractors balked at this plan because they feared the eventual cost would be too high. FS will work with ODF to determine how best to implement the recommendation by March 31, 2007.

OIG Position.

We accept FS' management decision. For final action, please provide documentation to OCFO to indicate that the agreed upon actions have been taken."

I have just one question about OIG and FS allowing this known safety problem to wait another fire season or longer:

¿Como se dice "WTF?" en espanol?

vfd cap'n

4/3 My experience as a r5 employee myself is that they have been going the
wrong way with how they are hiring.

In 2004 our forest had a huge push to hire apprentices. During this hiring
push it seemed that they were going for quantity instead of quality. It
seemed like if you marked hispanic on the ethnic origin you were automatically
hired. Three things happened though.

  • One, there were a bunch of no shows.
  • Two, another chunk of the new apprentices were
    disqualified because they couldn't pass a drug test.
  • The final bunch couldn't pass the 190 test at the

Not all was at a loss though; I can't remember how many apprentices
were hired that summer but we were able to keep at least five from all
they have hired. It seemed like the region wants to meet quotas (heaven
forbid) rather than hire quality employees. It's alright if they need to
diversify the workforce, but I want to be able to trust the person they
hire. We can't sacrifice safety in order to meet a quota.

My last part of this rant is that they need to do more than just post
announcements of job fairs and openings on the internet. Even though this
is the computer age and that everybody has to have the computer. We
could be missing the opportunity of hiring quality employees because
they might not have a computer.

just some thoughts,

akh, I agree with your comments about hiring apprentices, no-shows, disqualifications and retention. However, job fair information was disseminated in many more places than on the internet.

<Ab RANT> You also need to remember that the Region is involved in a legal process. The judge makes the determination of goals, not the FS Fire Hire folks in R5 or on the forests who, from what I've seen, have bent over backwards to comply with the legal agreement. Everyone needs to realize that this is a legal process. It cannot be made to just go away. It cannot be altered by the Forest Service. All the Forest Service can do is explain what it's doing to try to meet the goals set forth by the legal process. We're a nation of laws, now a nation of lawyers. Let's not rail against the regional and forest folks working hard to figure this out.

From what I understand in the recent interaction, the Judge said R5 was in breech on 3 things, not in contempt. I also heard he said that a certain percentage of the Series 462 hires must be Hispanic. Anyone, correct me if I'm wrong. Now, I don't think he can do that because it would, by definition, be a quota. He cannot set a quota, only a goal. Anyway, we'll see. I think clarification is being sought... at least I would hope someone would get it in writing so there is legal recourse. If anyone sees such a clarification and can share it, please do so.

The fire hiring process right now is that we do outreach and outreach and outreach, if some legally imposed outreach expectation is not reached first time around. It easily takes 200+ days to hire for any fire position instead of 3 months. Unacceptable! It is unsafe for positions go unfilled due to retirements and vacancies as firefighters move to other organizations. The bureaucratic paperwork piles up, from what I've seen, which slows the process down even more. Like molasses. Who applies for outreach? No one. People apply for jobs! Seems to me one solution would be to drop the outreach, advertise the job from the onset for 120 days and hire. Encourage diverse applicants to apply. People might be surprised at the success we'd have. </RANT>


4/3 SeldomSeen,

I think you have raised some myths and presented them as facts regarding

Not all ADs are retirees.
I have seen more than one GISS AD and they are typically young, loosely
associated with the agency (volunteered, former temp, college student, etc)
that have the skills, training and are competent but not in a position to

People have no control as to whether they are replaced in their previous
job- that is management's decision.
Considering I have left 2 jobs and had no one replace me (and subsequently
gotten calls 2-4 years later still asking for help, answering questions,
etc) I understand the frustration of those who wanted to train people
behind them. It is hard to watch a program you developed over years slowly
dissolve due to inattention. Don't think former employees didn't try- they
have no hiring control once they retire or resign.

Not all ADs have the ability to become contractors.
Becoming a contractor is significant overhead and some of those single
resource people do not have the knowledge or money to devote to doing this.
Are you saying a college student who is off for the summer who is trained
as a GISS and has worked on their thesis at a National Park needs to become
a contractor to work fire?

We as a community need to figure out how we help each other work for fair
rates, similar working situations, and as safe as we can get situations.
There are needs for different types of employees so lets help each other.

4/3 Hispanics: We're in a no-win situation in FS Fire...

Hard to get 'em and hard to keep 'em. Made worse by the WO budget.

Most California national forests with large populations of Hispanics nearby are
in socal where there are also large urban areas with alternatives for wildland
firefighter employment.

It's hard to retain Hispanic firefighters if they're not being paid wages that are
competitive with other non-fed fire departments in the area. Those depts (CDF,
LACO, SDCO etc) are also looking to increase Hispanics on their rosters.

Slowing down the hiring process slows down training and readiness: increases
risk for crews and for the public.

NorCal Tom

4/3 Correct me if I am wrong ( :D) but isn't the net result every time one of these lawsuits hits Cali less applicants over all?

I know several women who refuse to ever work in R5 because they want to be able to get and do jobs on their own merit, not because a judge said so. This is even after the consent decree expired. Looking over my long nose the last few years it seems to me that R5 has had less and less people since this lawsuit was first placed.

Just an uninformed opinion looking for information
4/3 Ab,

No surprise on the comments on AD. Just about everyone, (me included,
darn it), knows that their personal experience/perspective is a universal
truth. Some examples:

- AD’s are all federal retirees who don’t need the money anyhow.
- The public wants the FS to stop focusing on wildland fire, and to
become “rescue squads” immediately available to respond to brush fires,
house fires, auto accidents, medical emergencies, search and rescue,
terrorist attacks etc.
- Agency leaders, the infamous “they”, could force Congress to reduce
funding to any and all other programs so that “fire” can have 100% MEL.
- California fed firefighters, not other federal personnel, should be
compensated for every hour away from home.
- Anyone who does not agree with the author is not a “real”
- Contractors are non-productive and dangerous.
- Contractors are all highly skilled and a critical partner in our mission.
- All injuries are a result of management incompetence or conspiracy.
- “They” (see above) force us to work unsafely.
- Readers……add your own.
By the way, this is not unique to the world of wildland firefighting.
In 30+ years of government service, I’ve found that all employees know “the
truth”……we just know different truths.

Old Fire Guy

And the variety of personal truths flesh out the whole picture to tell us which are more universal than others.. Ab.

4/2 Story:
Judge orders Forest Service to diversify its workforce


OAKLAND -- A federal judge ordered the U.S. Forest Service to diversify its work force in California, ruling that the agency has failed to eliminate hiring and promotional barriers to Hispanics as required by a 2002 court agreement.

Hispanics only make up about 9 percent of the forest service's 5,000-member work force that manages 18 national forests in California. That's about the same percentage as it was in October 2002 when a lawsuit accusing the agency of discrimination was settled, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland said Thursday.

Wilken said the agency has failed to conduct an effective recruitment and outreach program, employ a full-time recruitment coordinator or make good-faith efforts to employ a civil rights director in California as required by the 2002 agreement.

The judge ordered the agency to sign a contract with "an effective outside recruiter" and allow a court-appointed monitor to hire a new staff member to review all new hires and promotions.

4/2 Re AD compensation...


Seems <a recent poster has> an extremely limited view of AD Pay Plan EMPLOYEES. In order of <his> numbered points:

1. Just because YOU are retired, does not mean all of the AD EMPLOYEES are "already receiving compensation from the federal government". I work about 150 to 160 days a year as an AD, am not retired, and receive NO compensation form the federal government other than my wages.
I am not alone, but I do not mislead myself into thinking everyone is like me.

2. "We are retired...". Speak for yourself as ONE AD EMPLOYEE, do not make "We" statements you cannot verify.

3."As managers you should have all trained folks to replace...". This is true of AD EMPLOYEES, also. How many assignments have you been on as an AD? Have you had Trainees with you on EVERY assignment? If not, is that YOUR fault? You well know that the system often blocks trainees (state funding, severity funding, FEMA funded, etc etc). Ever have to tell an employee that they could not go to training because of budgets? I did. Was that my fault? Was that your fault as a "manager", bean counter, Regional Office person??? Who's fault is it? Don't be smug and tell AD's that it is their fault!~

4. "Those folks on the crews need to fight for their rights..." Have you really fought fires, or are you some "2 or 3 weeks a year" fire guy? The Native American crewpersons have very little ability to "fight for their rights". Did you notice on the ill-fated PROPOSED 2005 AD Pay Rates (that were scrapped) that the Crew Boss positions were to receive a RAISE, while the Squad Bosses and Crewpersons were to get a DECREASE in pay? Who fights for the crewperson's rights? The Crew Boss. If they get a raise, are they going to go to bat for the crewpersons?
"...and, as contractors, I'm sure they are.". DO NOT CONFUSE AD EMPLOYEES WITH CONTRACTORS.

You speak as a retired employee of the federal government (and likely at the upper pay scales, say a GS-12 or 13?), and say you don't need to work. OK, fine. But do not let yourself believe your personal situation represents all AD EMPLOYEES or even all retired federal employees. I'm sure a lot of GS-5, 6, and 7 retirees (Yes, they do retire at those grades), still NEED the work, and now make less as an AD than they did as an employee (especially considering OT, benefits, and cost-of-living adjustments--or lack thereof where AD Pay Plans are concerned).

Thanks for allowing me to counter your stance on AD EMPLOYEE pay issues. Thanks to this forum for a venue for dialogue.


LIONA, you make some excellent points and make them directly and with force. But, please let's try to keep this about issues and not make it about personalities. Ab recognizes the passion here, but if we can keep this in the realm of issues, we'll learn more. Let me throw in a little Ab instruction...

For example the item containing, "Have you really fought fires, or are you some '2 or 3 weeks a year' fire guy?" could also be written without the "in your face" comment, simply by making the point from an issues perspective rather than from a personality perspective.

Posters, please try to keep the dialog respectful. If you swing and the other poster simply comes back swinging, what do we learn? For me, the question is really: What can we learn here? What are the issues that might lead to different perspectives? If we know the perspectives and the issues that create them, maybe we can educate to change minds.

Thanks everyone. Ab.

4/2 JD

Check out Firecrew77.com

This site has a brief video clip at the start page. The site is for the Roadrunners Hand Crew
from Rio Hondo College; check it out and drop us a line if we can help in any way.

John Bennett
Crew Coordinator
4/2 Seldom Seen,

1.Not all ADs are federal retirees… Not all ADs receive other compensation from the federal government. Can you spell “Blue Card Crew”? As in “Cal Poly Crew aka “Santa Lucia Crew” to name one AD crew of many across the country… I don’t believe any of those college kids are receiving a fed annuity. As you well know there are also many single resource types who are not federal retirees…

And so what if one is a federal retiree? What in heavens name does receiving a pension have to do with receiving decent compensation for work performed? Does being a federal retiree suddenly make one a second class citizen?

2.Correct… No one has to work for the current AD compensation and pay structure, but more importantly… no one should have to. The ADFA is doing what Americans have the right to do, lobby for fair and equitable working wages. If that turns out to be the abolition of the current AD authority in favor of personal services contracts… so be it.

3.Get off your high horse. The Feds are having trouble finding folks to fill ICS positions in a large part because many in the fed fire workforce are leaving the federal service for higher paying municipal and state positions which have much better benefits and retirement packages where they do not have to work 1000 hours of overtime to make ends meet. And now this exodus has hit at the Engineer / Captain level… folks with 8 – 15 years in the outfit. The folks that don’t leave are fried trying to do more with less and deal with a year round fire / incident season.

4.So folks that are not on crews (such as retirees) have no right in your opinion to fight for fair compensation and benefits? Hmmmm… Guess I had better take a fresh look at the U.S. Constitution.

You are correct that as a federal retiree you can choose to work or not. But seems to me that if folks do choose to work in a field that they dedicated their lives to and still have much to offer experience wise, they should be fairly compensated… federal retiree or other.

Hugh I wish you and the ADFA the best of luck and applaud your efforts!

Beach Bum (with sand twixt me toe's!)
4/1 Hugh and others

I am sorry but I have to disagree with the whole battle to increase AD pay rates. This is based on several points:

  1. AD employees are already receiving compensation from the federal government, in most cases, as retired employees.
  2. None of us have to work for these rates. We are retired, the agency should deal with the incidents and if they need help, then they need to pay for it.
  3. As managers you should have all trained folks to replace you. Now you want to be compensated for not doing it during your job as a manager.
  4. Those folks on the crews and others need to fight for their rights and, as contractors, I am sure they are.

I wish you all the best, however I feel that as a retired employee, I can either work or not. Guess what, I will not work for the wages they offer. I would say the same to others. We put in our time.

Seldom Seen

4/1 The student JD,

The Wyoming Hotshots (www.wyominghotshots.com) have a pretty good
3 minute or so video clip on their site. You might contact them and see if
they have more.

4/1 For J.D. (the student JD)

Whatever you provide for your college class, don’t forget your wildland firefighters and wildfires in your state. From my recollections doing some research several years ago the State of Maryland (DNR) does have a wildland firefighting program. I didn’t find a lot of information with a quick check on the state web site tonite, but take some time and talk to some folks about your local wildfire problems. Too often on this side of the Mississippi, people (especially those in more urban areas) only hear about or think that wildfires are a western US thing. So be sure to give your local folks some credit. I did find this historical document which may be a helpful starting point (www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/programapps/history.pdf ). I’m sure if you poked around the state website you can find some names and contact numbers of some fire folks near you.

For SteveM.

...I haven’t forgot to look, just haven’t dug out the old photo albums yet..

Y’all be safe out there

4/1 Ab,

If you have a contact email address for JD I can get him some visuals
that he is looking for, Katrina and Smokejumper stuff. I'd rather not
post my email address on line, but I'd be happy to contact him directly
if you have an address.

MT Jumper

PS- A big thanks for maintaining this site...I'm 12 years in the forest
service and amazingly I get some of my best information off this site!
Keep up the good work!

Thanks MT Jumper. I'll send him a note. Ab.

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