May, 2006

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5/31 Debbie,

I am humbled by your words...thank you very much for this public support as
well. You're the one with the idea... I'm just doing my part to help Ken

See you Friday,

5/31 Casey Judd, and the Board of Directors of the FWFSA,

A BIG THANK YOU for taking the lead in pledges for the Ken Perry Run… (Pledge Page)
I believe because your organization was formed by wildland firefighters on behalf of wildland firefighters, you and the firefighters you serve know the importance of leadership and have shown tremendous leadership in helping, when help is needed.

That's what I am talking about… you guys rock..
Vicki Minor
Director WFF

5/31 "Warriors Supporting Warriors"......Edwards 95th Air Base rules.!!!!!

I am extremely motivated & proud of these guys. Big Kudos to Edwards!
Not only do they help defend our country, they bought off on supporting the
Wildland fire world. (Where are all our Federal Wildland Fire Command Staff
& Managers????) First I will acknowledge with highest respect to yeah...a
lady, LT. Colonel Kerry Beaghan who sat down with us at the table the other
day on the Base. The Chiefs of Staff must have found it important enough
to meet Ken and we are honored for that. (I just met her and I gather she
would say, no worries.)

I want to express the greatest thanks to Tech Sgt. Eric Grill & Chief Joe
Ybarra of Edwards Fire Department for stepping up and seeing the beauty of
comradery by personally supporting Ken's run. They will open the base for
us under tight security -- that is a biggy, they will have the Edwards Fire
Department @ dark thirty when Ken runs through.... with security escorts
for his safety and support to "RUNKENRUN". You are wonderful Sarge!!!

I step up on the soap box now......Warriors know personally what it is like
to lose brothers and sisters during the line of fire........So do
....REMEMBER those who have given their lives fighting for the
cause. I frankly ask....WHO will be there for YOU and YOUR family if you
get injured? WFF.... Who will ensure your kids, your wife, your husband, your
significant other, will be with you and taken care of emotionally,
financially by people that do genuinely care.....if you get hurt or killed?
Think about it.......... WFF......... The Wildland Firefighter Foundation...
check it out!!!

Eric you listened when everyone was skittish. You are awesome in
community relations and we are strong proof that networking and open
communication can bring people to the table - together. We hold our heads
up with Hot Fire Pride..... show it.... pledge it..... be a hot ember and
spread. I challenge everyone if you wanna talk that talk, then for
firefighters everywhere......Walk the Walk,. I am honored to be a part of
this effort.

I will scream whooooo yeah Master Chief!!!! Right On.....
Edwards!!! and a heartfelt, personal thanks from little ole me, Debbie.

See you on Friday Ken.......... RUNKENRUN

5/31 Wildland firefighter foundation (Ab note: message Debbie sent out to friends and colleagues)

You all have given a lot to me personally and I know you support the
Wildland fire program in one way or the other....I wanted to send you info
to go to the www.wffoundation.org site to read about something special
"Ken's Run" and I am blessed and involved. Ken Perry (our Wildland dude) is
running 104.8 miles (yes, he is crazy driven) for injured firefighters and
families/kids of our fallen firefighters. These are dads & moms, sisters &
brothers out there risking their lives to protect our lands and communities.
It is gonna be quite a task for him and pledges are being taken. Spread the
news, this is a great effort. Hopefully I or my dear family never has to
experience personal injury any worse than I have and it is always tough when
we lose someone in our line of work. Compassion does spread like wildfire,
so pass it on and join in for me, for Ken and for Wildland fire freaks

Enjoy Life!! Make the Difference
Debbie Santiago - BLM
Wildland Fire Mitigation & Ed Specialist Bakersfield Field Office

Debbie is acting as PIO on Ken's Team. The LA Times will be doing a story on the run. She also got the Edwards Air Force Base to allow the runners to pass and has invited their firefighters ito participate. Thanks Debbie.

Wow, so many messages coming in in such a short time! Ab.

5/31 For anyone that is going to come down to the run, it does start on Friday. The team will be meeting at Fox ATB at 1000, and then caravaning out to the start together. After a briefing we will start running at 1300. For those that can't make Fox at 1000, there will be maps there to get to the start. Here's a text. Hwy 58 (east) out of Mojave.... Turn left (north) on California City Blvd. (just before you get to Edwards AFB) follow that all the way into Cal City..10 miles or so...pass the Golf course (straight through 4 way stop). Drive another couple of miles to a "Y". There, you will see a picknic area, and the ICP (Joel Lane's motor home). and they can direct you from there.

We had our final team meeting last night, and it looks like things are on track pretty well. Some local restaurants and grocery stores in Valencia have donated food for the BBQ at sta. 126 on Sat. and water, etc.

I am excited about this......and of course a bit nervous. I got a really cool E-mail from Greg Powers the other day. He is a very accomplished ultra-runner (100 total, with 4 100 milers). Anyway, it's too bad he can't be here. We discussed how one prepares mentally for one of these. The good thing is that this is not a race. There is a purpose here and that is what will keep me going when I feel like curling up at 0300. There will be plenty of firefighters running on both days. That is a good thing. There will be many supporters, as well. Vicki Minor, Melissa and Burke are coming down from BOI.

Someone will be sending in photos and reports to they said, as we go along like last year. And hopefully we will have a real time tracking system to go along with these reports and pics.

Here are some "Fun Facts".....................

104.8 miles.

553,344 ft.

between 138,336 and 184,448 steps  

25 hours (goal)

1,500 min.

624 cal. per hour

15,600 total cal. burned     7.8 days average based on 2,000 cal. diet

210,000 heart beats (@140 BPM av.)

45,000 breaths (@ 30 per min.)

3.9 gal. total fluid intake (based on 5 oz. every 15 minutes) This is a little low, in my opinion, and does not take into account fluid loss from vomiting every 20 minutes, or so..

Hey, let's all have a good time this weekend!


5/31 Ab,

Kens Run has brought in enough in pledges to help 4 families so far. This guy and his entourage will be running for 24 hours straight. Hell, at my age I can't even party for 24 hours anymore.

I know Ken, I know what he has put himself through to be able to run all night and all day. I don't know anyone but  Forest  Gump who would do this to themself. Let's make sure he can't afford $$$$$$ to stop.......



Do you think he's practiced the vomiting part? Ab.

5/31 Everyone in TheySaid Land,

We have been extremely busy hosting and clearing up after Family Day, but
one of the most exciting events of the year is 2 days away.

The Ken Perry 104.8 mile Ultra Run

I want to tell you what's been going on behind the scenes for those of you
not working directly with the run planning.
The energy is exciting and contagious!
We have more than 25 people intimately involved in the Ultra Run Team, IC-ed
by Hutch and they're managing the unmanageable!

These are some of the things the RunKenRun Team has been pulling together:
  • Coordinating permissions for all jurisdictions and agencies: including
    • obtaining permission to run across land that's hard to get permission for
    • Coordinating with LACO, BLM and USFS
  • Mapping and mapping in real time
  • Crew t-shirts
  • Getting write-ups into the LA Times
  • Arranging a mobile home and crew and staff transport
    (Tony and Melissa only get bikes; they ran out of vehicle space...)
  • Planning the feed following the run (for those who are physically able to hold
    it down)
  • Making sure all are on the same page with safety mitigations in place
I remember how last year this event brought a cohesiveness and camaraderie
to all participants on the ground and at a distance. It was so exciting to
watch it all unfold and take place in real time.

Thanks to theysaid, the container that holds the wealth of info for the
wildland community.

It touched my heart last year when Ken Perry said, "The run is not about me.
When I'm running I think about the young firefighter kids out there on the
ground. The experience of knowing we're doing some good for them is
simultaneously satisfying and energizing. It's why I run."

Lumpy (supt, Texas Canyon IHC)
Mike Alred (supt, Bear Divide IHC)
These 2 supts have the grit to bring back their crews to run again! They
must have lost too many brain cells from smoke that they're going to
continue to follow Ken Perry through the canyon.
This year we also welcome the LACO Structure/Wildland Firefighters from
Station 126. And, firefighters on Edwards Air Force Base.

Come join us whether you are there in person or in spirit.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
5/31 Pledge Page

My little niece is selling lemonade on her front lawn on Saturday with proceeds going to Ken's run.
She asked me about firefighter's BOSSes...
She says she'll give free lemonade to any firefighter BOSS if they send some money to Ken's run.

Guess this is a message for all you GS-12 and GS-13 BOSSes out there...

[<psst> If you haven't made any of that famous Overtime$$ yet, I'm sure if I explained to her it was a pledge coming out of that first big fat check you get, she'd give you that free glass of lemonade on a promise! <grin>]


5/31 MT Firefly and others looking at wages and benefits:

One thing to keep in mind is that if you are hit by a falling snag and paralyzed for the rest of your life or burned over and cannot earn a living, Workers Comp does not take into account anything over your base pay of, say for MT Firefly, $24,000 -- in providing for part of your expenses. In addition, if you can do a little something to work or to volunteer -- that can boost morale considerably -- Workers Comp takes that amount off the allotment determined by your base pay. Moral is, if you're working for the govt, don't get hurt.

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

On a much lighter note! Something we can all do for those who do get hurt or die on the fireline...

Ken's 104 Mile Run is coming up soon, pledge, let your fire equipment suppliers know, get your friends and family to pledge.

I don't know if it starts this Friday or Saturday -- I think Friday at Fox Field.

The maps and all are great! Cool animated flyover. www.wildlandfire.com/kperry/2006/info.php

Run Ken Run!!! I'll be watching theysaid and cheering for you!!!!


It's JUNE 2-3, 2006, that's Friday and Saturday. Ken's post to the runners is HERE. Ab.

5/31 Can someone please pass on contact information for Greg Power,
formerly from Region 5 it would be a great help.

John R. Bennett
jrbfiretch @msn.com

5/31 Hi ab- Wondering if you could post this flyer & info for Shane Frear.

Shane is one of our crew that was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer last season. Shane has been dealing with chemotherapy & radiation all winter, and his outlook is getting better. He is scheduled for surgery to remove the tumor this summer & he has many months of treatment ahead of him.

Shane has been with us for 10 years, is a father of two, and is also a veteran of the Gulf War. We are hoping to raise enough funds to cover his accumulating costs not covered by insurance (travel, food, gas, bills, etc). Anyone can donate at ANY USBank to the "Shane I Frear Account" ....the account was set up for him in Tonasket Washington where he works on the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest.. Also, we are holding a Benefit Event for him in Tonasket on June 24th for those who might be in the area & want to attend the event- more information is available at the Tonasket Ranger District. Thanks!

Jen C

5/31 After 39 years of service today is Division Chief Brooks Henderson's last
day. His skills and knowledge, especially in fuels management will
definitely be felt throughout the agency with Brook's departure.
Congratulations Brooks.


Congrats Brooks. Ab.

5/31 Re Salary and Benefits:

I don't have a desire to argue with the number crunchers, but I have to clarify what I meant be having a wage and benefits above approximately 75% of the state population.

I worked 13 pay periods last year, a minimum permanent seasonal appointment. This was a budget driven decision. My wages for 40 a wk and all OT and hazard pay were over $24,000. (this is a very slow year for me) Working a full year would be approximately $48,000.

Then add in the extra 5% the feds pay to match my TSP $1200. for 6months and $2400 had I worked a full year.

The gov pays approximately 2/3 of my health insurance premiums. Total for the year, approx $1420.00 per year

Add that up and it becomes a pretty significant in comparison to the $33,000. median.

In reality, I teach on a part time basis and those wages are paid for by the State of MT. Often I make too much money to receive Unemployment Compensation.

Last year (2005) My gross income was approximately $52,000 from all sources. Add in all the Federal payments to insurance and TSP and that is a pretty significant amount. Now this is with that fact that many (you can find the actual percentage somewhere, as I work and don't have that much time to research) Montanans have NO HEALTH INSURANCE or are underinsured.

I live more comfortable then most of my friends. Living frugally by doing things like hunting deer and elk for meat, growing my own vegetables (which I freeze and can), utilizing a wood stove for heat, and driving a gas efficient car allows my dollar to stretch even farther. In my opinion, that puts me pretty close to the 75% mark.

I would love to earn portal to portal. I agree that federal employees don't make a lot of money, but where I live the cost of living is a lot lower than areas such as SOCAL. I have the resources to build my own home vs buy it at a high mark up.

Then add in the fact that I make more as a Forestry Tech GS-5/? than I would had I pursued an occupation in the field of my college degree. Life is good here.

MT Firefly

5/31 Hi Folks

Well here are a few thoughts as I close my career with the Forest Service.
I wrote the attached in response to budget and organization issues that
were being discussed at the last FAM Directors meeting. We have never
had so much money and yet we are all feeling the effects of budget
shortfalls. Where is all the money going is a question that will be
asked much more in the near future. You'll figure out who to tell what

I do want to bring your attention to the one element in my career which
has been my anchor point. When it's all said and done, it's the
firefighter on the ground that makes the difference.
However we
classify them, whatever we tell them or the media, however we treat them.....
they, the firefighters, are the ones who give the final count and tally up the
final score. If they can't be supported, don't send them out. If they can
be, make sure they are well led, well trained and well equipped so they
come home safely everytime.

To each and everyone.... take care of yourselves, nobody else will do it
for you, enjoy life, could be the only one you ever get. Finally, if you
are worried about "mega" events, the end of the world was yesterday...
Looks like free sailing from here on. Oh yi, seems someone left their
lights on and a scarf and ear ring were found in the parking lot.....

As always


Best wishes, Ray. Don't be a stranger.
Ab benediction: May you have Full Windsurfing Sails and a Following Sea...
Personal note: Beat that windsurfing board into submission, make it do what YOU want!
Forget the Ocean,
Forget the Wind,
Remember, the one that shows up and stays up there on top of the waves, catching the wind just right has a chance to carve out the course of his board!
The best to you! Ab.

5/31 Lobotomy,

I thought quotas were illegal also until I saw this webpage. I also agree that diversity is a good thing and hope this settlement agreement doesn't turn out like the R5 consent decree during the 80's and early 90's. It did more harm than good for both males and females.

It said, (www.fs.fed.us/r5/hispanic-agreement/synopsis.php)

"Both parties agree that the GS-462 Forestry Technician job series is the most important to consider because employees in that series account for about half of the region's workforce. The Judge concluded that the proper, updated Civilian Labor Force percentage for that series is 31.5 percent."

Is that a blatant use of a quota on an agency webpage showing a violation of the federal law? Are both the Court and the Executive Branch agency violating the law under the cover of a consent decree agreement? Would a third party judicial review invalidate the "settlement agreement" because it has specific quotas assigned for increasing diversity that violates current law?

It is time that people start asking some attorneys about the legality of this consent decree and the people who are making the agreements.


Synopsis of the March 30, 2006 Court Order
Following a February 10, 2006 hearing,

Judge Claudia Wilken from the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, issued an order extending the term of the Hispanic Settlement Agreement (HSA) for one year, not the three years requested by the Plaintiffs. She did not issue a contempt ruling. She said a longer order would follow. In that March 30 order, the Judge made it clear that the Forest Service must significantly increase permanent Hispanic representation in our region. The stated goal of the Settlement is to "increase the representation of Hispanics in the region 5 workforce to a percentage equivalent to the percentage of Hispanics in the Applicable Labor Pool in the Relevant Geographic Area."
Hiring goals and provisions

In the order, Judge Wilken found that the hiring goals of the Settlement Agreement were enforceable and that the Forest Service was either in breach of or not in substantial compliance with some of the provisions of the Settlement including; the hiring goal, maintaining a full-time Regional Recruitment Coordinator position, maintaining and filling the Civil Rights Director position (The Regional Civil Rights position was permanently filled in May 2004. Before this, the position was temporarily filled by a series of detailers.), an effective recruitment and outreach program, monitoring all recruitment and promotion actions, use of the documentation form and performance of the Regional Recruitment Coordinator's duties.

Student Career Employment Program

The Judge also determined that the Student Career Employment Program (SCEP) positions should not be included in permanent workforce statistics. Based on the Region's numbers from December 2002, the Hispanic representation was 8.9 percent (466 Hispanic employees out of a workforce of 5,252 employees) and three years later it increased to 9.9 percent (476 Hispanic employees out of a workforce of 4829 employees). Judge Wilken agreed with the Plaintiffs and the Monitor that without including the SCEPs, there has been little, if any, progress toward the hiring goal of the Agreement.


Both parties agree that the GS-462 Forestry Technician job series is the most important to consider because employees in that series account for about half of the region's workforce. The Judge concluded that the proper, updated Civilian Labor Force percentage for that series is 31.5 percent.

In addition, because the parties were unable to agree on a reporting and enforcement procedure for the remainder of the HSA period, the Judge directed the Monitor to propose a reporting and enforcement procedure and submit it to the Court for consideration within 21 days from the March 30 order

5/31 Here is an important resource for firefighter safety:  www.firefighterclosecalls.com.

It is no secret to those interested in firefighter safety. Gordon Graham, juris doctorate and CHP Captain, mentioned this site during his February '06 speech at the Region 5 Chief Officers / Hotshots / Engine Capt. / Prevention / Helicopter Mgr. Workshop in Reno, NV.

Sometimes the e-mails are frank and to the point and not open to discussion or opinion. The facts speak for themselves. Chief Goldfeder and Dr./Capt. Graham are inspirational in their quest for emergency responder safety.

5/30 MT Firefly,

Excellent post regarding the apprentice program and the differences between regions.

I don't agree with you in the following statement. You said, ".my salary and benefits are better than 75% of all employees across the board in my state."

Your base pay is less than the median and greatly less than the 75th percentile across the board in Montana. While I agree you may be happy and content, you should know you don't have better pay or benefits than 75% of the people in Montana.


Median Household Income Montana (US Census 2000, non-inflation adjusted).. $33,024

Montana RUS GS Pay Scale (OPM, 2006):

GS 5 step 5 (26 pay periods - PFT) ... $32,130
GS 5 step 5 (18 pay periods on / 8 pay periods off) ... $ 23,155
GS 5 step 5 (13 pay periods on / 13 pay periods off) ... $16,065

Additional information on Montana median incomes and housing prices:

www.msubillings.edu/caer/toc and overview.pdf

The Researcher

5/30 PDH-

If you have the time in and requirements needed, start pushing for your conversion. If you don't have what you need, push and make the opportunities for yourself this season to get it done. If you want to Demo out of the program, start applying.

I've seen more than 3 folks that have had headaches with the apprenticeship program. Some of this is from misdirected hiring that put personnel with little or no fire experience into a committed position for a set amount of time, some of it has been from a lack of understanding of the program.

My personal opinion on the program (even though nobody has asked for it) is that it is beneficial for somewhat motivated individuals that don't have the means to get the training or the know how on how to go about making the best of the system that is in place. I've seen the products of motivated individuals that have sought out opportunities for themselves, living the seasonal firefighter lifestyle as they travel from coast to coast with the changing seasons to get in on more temporary hire opportunities and build their quals, experience and professional network.

I know many who have entered as GS-3 seasonals and have progressed up the ranks to a GS-5 13/13 in 4-5 years without having to sign a contract obligating them to a specific department or agency.

We have a great system in place for lower level nwcg suppression and Rx courses. Nation wide you can get into classes that are being offered at the local level really easily by calling FMOs, Private Sector companies, and local fire departments that are all teaching NWCG courses. A savvy person can work out deals to fill in empty seats for little cost or some volunteer work, all the while building his or her professional network.

Once your career folder has the training you need to fulfill the next level IQCS position, employers see you as a strong asset to their program and a motivated individual.

As long as you are willing and able to be slightly nomadic, the opportunities are out there. As MTfirefly said, YOU are the master of YOUR own destiny.

Good luck this season.

JT in CO
5/30 Re: WFF Family Weekend

Two weekends ago my husband and I attended the Wildland Firefighter Foundation’s Family Day in Boise. There is no describing how much work and time Vicki and crew put into making this happen. And from a family member of a fallen firefighter, it was incredibly successful.

This year a real fire camp was set up to show us “non-fire” family members what is actually entailed to create and operate this portable mini city. The food caterers were there and we had plenty of good food to eat… and then some more. My plate was full and I turned around and there was a whole other side to graze down. Everyone involved was friendly and helpful and I’m sure they were asked the same questions over and over but they didn’t seem to mind. The only things missing from this scenic site were the sea of little tents and dirty work crews coming in.

We went into a very nice shower unit to look it over. I think the guys manning the showers were lonely because they kept inviting people to “try them out”. They meant well but they just didn’t understand the hair issue with not so young women. The few brave souls that spent the night did make good use of them and reported a positive experience.

While the shower facilities were great, there leaves much to be said about the outdoor port-a-pottys. An outhouse is an outhouse… you get in and get out quick! However, there is something to be said about being a woman sitting there almost face-to-face with the urinal but I won’t elaborate. When you really have to go, you use them and don’t complain. (Personally, I still prefer the concept of indoor plumbing.)

We were treated to a morning briefing that explained procedures, safety issues, and accountability. The Type I Incident Management team outlined and spoke about their particular role in the fire camps. Family members sat patiently and listened politely even though it was getting a little warm. Just as I was going to get up and find some water, a hand appeared and started passing out ice cold water bottles and I had no excuse to stand up. I have to give the speakers credit because the higher the temperature rose the quicker their presentations became which met with approval from all. This informed team also took extra time to answer various questions.

Although I try to insert some humor into this I know the reality of why we have these events. I would like to thank the many people who volunteered their time and equipment to make this camp happen and it will not be forgotten.

Family members came from all parts of the country with a common thread binding them… we each had lost someone very close to us who was a firefighter. It is a tragic way to meet people but everyone tried to help one another in whatever way they could. Sometimes it was a hug, word, or even a touch to let another know that you care and understand the tears. I am sorry any of us have to be there but I have met some really wonderful people and this wouldn’t be possible if the Wildland Firefighter Foundation hadn’t made the ‘dream’ work.

The Wildland Firefighter Monument in Boise is a place that is important to families. I have found it a tranquil place with an ongoing waterfall adding bubbling and soothing sounds to this natural setting. The more times I visit the more I appreciate this oasis in the middle of the asphalt. This is a place for all wildland firefighters to visit and many have already.

On Sunday we families came into the Monument together. A positive energy was felt as flowers were placed on special markers. Stories were related and shared giving a voice to the otherwise silent markers. It was a safe place to shed tears for who is missing in our lives. There were many markers whose families could not attend and we picked and put some wildflowers on some. During this time I noticed that someone had pulled a carnation apart and left one small red petal on each unadorned marker. That itty-bitty piece of red called attention to those fallen firefighters too.

And, the energy from the families brought the feeling that our own fallen firefighters were nearby
…just a whisper away
…smiling and speaking:

“Hey Dude, look at that! They are together.”

There were so many things that helped families over the weekend but it only happens because people like you donate to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to help cover expenses for these special events.

You have read on this site about families receiving immediate financial help after a death and how important it is to the survivors. Emotional help and support are also a part of their work and this is a great place to ask questions. This Foundation with Vicki’s determination is going to continue to help others through many tragic and inspiring events, such as this weekend.

Thank you for all your help.


Carol Ransdell
Mother of Mark Ransdell

Thanks for sharing Carol. Ab.

5/30 Last summer, Congress held hearings on H.R. 408, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act. As most of you know by now, this legislation would amend Title 5 USC to provide proper portal to portal compensation to our federal wildland firefighters and to include hazard pay as base pay for retirement purposes.

Shortly thereafter, Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV) Chairman of the Federal Workforce & Agency Organization Subcommittee requested a cost estimate on HR 408 from the Congressional Budget Office. This process is often called "scoring" a bill. To our dismay, based upon the CBO's predetermined practices, the "unofficial" cost estimate was staggering and clearly indicated to the FWFSA & some in Congress that the CBO just wasn't "getting it."

Recently during a trip to Washington DC, FWFSA Business Manager Casey Judd provided the CBO with FWFSA's cost estimates & analysis with emphasis on the funding intent of the legislation i.e. no additional appropriations necessary.

The CBO has just informed the FWFSA that after a cursory review of the documents provided by the FWFSA, the CBO will in fact re-evaluate their initial findings with respect to costs associated with this legislation.

As one congressman put it, "CBO throws everything against a wall and whatever sticks they add a cost to it." There are a wide variety of opinions on the CBO's scoring of legislation and the procedures they use however the scoring of any bill often makes or breaks a bill's chances of passage.

The FWFSA is pleased that the CBO will utilize the data provided to it by the FWFSA in the hope a more realistic cost estimate will be available to congress.

For more information, contact the FWFSA at 208-775-4577.

You mean Congress treated the cost estimate analysis they requested from the Congressional Budget Office as a test??? and the CBO didn't "get it"? Thanks for educating Congress (and the CBO), FWFSA. Ab.

5/30 JerseyBoy,

We think of you often. Remember, if doctoring doesn't work
out, you'll always be welcome here.

- IdahoGirl

5/30 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
5/30 Minnesota Fallen Firefighters Memorial Assoc

I have attached a copy of a fundraiser for MFFMA. If you would
please share or post on your website it would be appreciated. If you
have any questions please let me know

Thanks Brenda Lodermeier, Asst. Fire Marshal - City of St Cloud.

Anyone who would like Ab to forward a copy, please email.

5/30 Re apprenticeship program:

Regardless of how frustrated any of you you are with your Forest etc, and where the responsibilities lie for you not converting yet, I have a few statements.

I was a five year apprentice in R1. We don't move as fast as those in R5. For example, there are people from my academy who are now GS Fantastics at the 7-9 level, while I am comfortable here as a 5 (and some steps). I feel that I am not ready for the loaded gun that is a Crew Boss Qualification in the current mindset of personal professional liability insurance. I was in Academy 18 and we were administered under 3 different contracts, so when it came time for my conversion audit, we found out that my Forest was responsible for giving me the Crew Boss class. (This is a once in a year chance, so it took me an extra year to convert after my hours were done.) I had to pursue my hotshot and helitack hours as my supervisor had no idea what I needed, as I was the first and only apprentice on my district.

My point is that if you don't have the ability to pursue your professional needs, than you don't have the ability to provide for you crewmembers needs, as this is one of the qualifications (Crew Boss) that you will be trained to in the program.

Be assertive, but politely and without ticking someone off (one of the skills I had to perfect, as apprentice is still a dirty word where I work, ie, temps may work 10+ years before navigating the system to get a permanent job).

Educate your supervisor as to the program and your needs, but don't think that just because you have hit 4 years, that you should be done with the program.

Get rid of the mindset that the FS "owes" you a conversion. This is a government entity, and there are millions of employees that deserve a lot more than what they are getting. If you are not happy where you are at, be PROACTIVE (read FWFSA) in getting what you want. I know that where I am at is a comfortable level for my experience, and I am not chasing the GS-increase, as my salary and benefits are better than 75% of all employees across the board in my state.

If you are not happy, Demo out of the program, dump your owed time (service agreement), and carry off into the great unknown. You have been trained to a great standard, and I 'm sure you have had some amazing experiences.

Finally, don't give up if you don't get that DEMO the first try. Remember that you are the MASTER of your own destiny, and that sometimes you have to wade through a lot of CRAP to get the things you need.

A grateful Apprentice


5/30 Prairie Dog Hunter,

As others have already told you, you can apply for these positions. The
requirements to apply are "one year of specialized experience equivalent to
GS-4" or "completion of a four (4) year course of study leading to a
bachelors' degree or the equivalent" (with a specific degree). In addition
there are other requirements that must be met within 18 months of hire.

I just posted a flyer for SCEP apprentices concerning these positions
that you can download on the recruitment section of the website.
(www.wfap.net/recruitment.phpl). If anyone has specific questions
please e-mail me and I'll answer what I can or try and send you in the
right direction to find the answer.

Cara Scott - cescott @fs.fed.us

5/30 There's a message on the Hot List Forum from -MJ regarding resources (ICT3s) needed on the Carson NF New Mexico. Ab.
5/30 Lobotomy,

I totally agree with you 100%, that the region is failing badly at meeting its goals it agreed to. I also believe that there are a few parts to the retention issue not mentioned.....
  1. Region 5 spent a great deal of money to have all the "fire" supervisors attend a training at WFTC on retention issues. WASTE OF TIME and MONEY!!!! The topic is simple, "benefits, pay, work schedule and so on". The region does not listen to the folks in the field therefore the topic to them is way out of reach.
  2. The reason that the region is hiring for the HSA through fire management is that only fire management has enough openings to show somewhat of an attempt to meet the courts satisfaction well "un-satisfaction" that is.
  3. The region has spent enough money in the past 5 years on training apprentices, and seasonal firefighters that have gone to other agencies, that it could have used that money for a diversity recruiting to benefit the agency as a whole and not just for an attempt poor one at that to show "hey we're trying".

I am not a politician nor am I an advocate of this agreement, what I am is a firefighter who would like to see a FNG start a career and become a good quality asset to us all not just a "diverse number for the courts"! I do not care what race, color, creed, or sexual orientation anyone has as long as they can do the job meeting the SET STANDARDS then pin a badge on them. Not because of their race, besides what pride would you have when asked - hey you got hired because of your heritage? Just another plot masterminded to lower moral even farther.


5/29 Mosquito,

There is no "quota" requirements for the Region or the Forests. Quotas are illegal and discriminatory. There is a requirement (settlement agreement / consent decree) to increase the diversity of Hispanics in the Region 5 Forest Service workforce. Diversity in the workforce is a good thing, and something that the agency should have been striving for without the courts having to intervene.

So far, Region 5 has been unsuccessful due to many reasons:
  1. Failure to recruit Hispanics from non-traditional sources outside of Southern California for technical and professional positions.
  2. Failure to recognize that the original Hispanic Class Complaint was brought by professional series employees due to lack of representation and promotional opportunities. Somehow, Region 5 thinks that adding GS-2 through GS-11 technical series employees will be able to help.
  3. While concentrating on the technical series, most importantly on the 0462 Forestry Technician series, the Region has failed to recognize the effects that pay, benefits, and working conditions have on recruitment and retention, and meeting court mandates that both the plaintiff and the appellate agreed to (consent decree). A recent RO memo states that since 2003, 44% of the apprentices hired have been left the agency. Temporary firefighter losses are in the range of 60%.
  4. Failure of the Region to allow localized hiring authorities as allowed by OPM. Failure of the Region to allow the 3 R's flexibilites as allowed by OPM.
  5. Failure of the Region to not count temporary and apprentice fire program hiring when it comes to retention and recruitment figures for pay, and then alternately using that information to justify "how good a job" they are doing in meeting the terms of the settlement agreement.
  6. Failure of the Region to "address barriers to recruitment and retention" as specifically stated in the Hispanic Settlement Agreement. Obvious barriers are pay, benefits, and working conditions. The majority of people working within the Forestry Technician (0462) series in California are wildland firefighters. Other fire departments and agencies are also looking to increase diversity to satisfy consent decrees (or prevent them) and see our folks as ripe for the picking.... Forest Service puppy mill.


5/29 Hello All:

It is with considerable regret that I am resigning as Chair of the AD Firefighter Association.

Dick Grace, our former Vice-Chair, has kindly consented to be Acting Chair/Chief Executive Officer until a new election can be held

As you may know, the Board of Directors is now composed of

Dick Grace, Acting Chair/Chief Executive Officer, 541-935-3724,dgrace @efn.org
Jim Stumpf, Vice Chair/Chief Operating Officer, 208-484-3247, jimstumpf @prodigy.net (NEW MEMBER)
Jay Matsen, Secretary, 253-851-0116, jmatsen @centurytel.net (NEW MEMBER)
Gary Helsel, Treasurer, 208-884-0259, glhelsel @cableone.net
Carl Pence, Legislative Affairs, 208-468-9318, pencavi @msn.com
Bud Ivey, Media/Information, 530-241-3352, hedera @c-zone.net

We started ADFA in March, 2003. I firmly believe we have had several
successes in the past 3+ years:
  • Increased the awareness of AD issues by the agencies
  • Held the line, with notable and unfortunate exceptions in the 2006 AD Rates, on severe pay cuts that were proposed in the last two years
  • Developed legislative awareness regarding the outmoded AD pay system of Congressional delegations and gubernatorial offices in several states

The challenges of the future remain largely unaddressed by the agencies:

  • Unwillingness to address the inappropriateness of utilizing the 1951 AD Pay Authority as a method of maintaining a highly-qualified supplementary workforce for the 21st century
  • Pay inequality between an AD position with no overtime and an equivalent grade level (with true overtime) that has commensurate duties, responsibilities, and complexity. This inequality costs ADs between $1000 and $5000 per pay period.
  • The resultant experience drain as ADs decide not to participate in the program.
  • Inefficiencies and consequent occasional safety hazards caused by unwillingness to authorize use and pay for AD personal cell phones, lap tops, etc.

I firmly believe your current Board has a vision and strategy for ADFA's ongoing efforts to correct the above

As far as myself is concerned, I have recently made some fairly big decisions regarding the future:

  • Am purposely not attending a fire refresher this year to relieve myself of any temptation to go out on fires this year at rates that are inequitable and result in a paycheck that does not recognize the value of an Air Operations Branch Director with 36 years of fire/aviation experience
  • Am reducing my teaching workload for Incident Leadership next year from 15 week-long courses between Nov-May to half of that
  • Resigning the Chair position of ADFA, which despite my enthusiasm for the effort, has taken up a significant amount of my time
  • Looking for alternatives here at 7000' on our "40 acres and a shack" in Crawford, Colorado: irrigating for some local rancher friends, running a plant/gardening outfit, a little consulting .... Who knows??!!

But it's time to get off the merry-go-round and start being more retired. Margaret, my wife of 30 years, is, needless to say, more than pleased.

It's been a great run, folks, and I personally appreciate all the support.

Keep the faith. As the late, great Otis Redding said, "Change is gonna' come."

Hugh Carson
Ex-Chair, AD Firefighters Association

Hugh, we wish you the best as you take your new step: retiring further into retirement!
Carry on ADFA.
Dick, welcome to the prez position. Ab.

5/29 There will be a re-broadcast of the Oprah Show seen earlier this year, with
Dr. Osterholm.

For further information click:


5/29 Ab,

Regarding the Wildland Firefighter Foundation power point I mentioned, it can be found at:


On that page on the lower-left side, there is something that looks like this:

Training this spring?

Click this link to get a zip file of the PowerPoint presentation about the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

NorCal Tom

5/29 sittin and relaxin this weekend,

I think you are confused on several issues.

With regards to being a GS-4 Step 4, everything is right if that person is at that level. When you enter the apprenticeship program with a year at GS 4 then you immediately become a step 2. So then at the start of your second year you are a step 3 and then as you enter your third you're a step 4. I converted to a GS 5 after being a GS 4 step 4 and only being in the apprenticeship for 2 years and 2 months.

Next issue. The fact that person has their helicopter time left is not the forest's problem, but the region's problem. Too many apprentices were hired and the ability to cycle them all through the engine, crew and helitack within let's say 2-4 years is very difficult. Especially if you are on a heavily staffed forest like mine.

Funding. With our current budget issues many classes including the all important S230 class was cut from our forest's training list this year! So this means that certain classes such as S230 which are required to convert were not available to apprentices extending the convert time even longer. They are left with the hope that "hey maybe next year I'll be able to get it and then convert". So once again this is a Region and National issue and not a forest issue.

Even after losing so many apprentices to municipal depts. and CDF, there is still a bottle neck of them here in Region 5. Budget cuts are not helping either.

I hope that help clears up some things.

Switching subjects, I've wondered why I haven't seen more hispanic resolution talk on this board. Within this last week our forest has had several "all employees" meetings and some very disturbing things were brought up that the Region may be doing to meet its quota for number of hispanics employees. Maybe that will spark some debate?

Thanks for everything ABs. I am a long time lurker and appreciate the hard work for the info that I get from this site.

How about......
5/29 Happy Memorial Day.

Thanks to you who have served in our military, or who have lost friends
and family, or have family members who are currently serving.

We owe you so much!

Still Out There as an AD

5/29 It is time to remember the Soldiers who died in a different type of Fire
Fight. A lot of good men and women gave their lives so we can enjoy our
freedoms we have now. Take time to reflect the memories of them today!

Region 6 Tender, Regular Army Vietnam
5/29 PD Hunter,

I am an apprentice so I may have some words that may help you.

First of all, if you are a GS 4 step 4, something is not quite right. The apprenticeship is a 2 to 4 year program and if you are currently a GS 4 step 4, you have been in the program and not moved at all. your host forest has not really done much in order to help you advance, especially if you still have your helitack time left on your work process hours.

That being said, I would like you to take my following statement not as an insult, but maybe as more of a compliment:

Maybe you arent or possibly more accurately, were not ready to move up into a more responsible position. You may have held yourself back in order to become a more competant firefighter instead of just rushing up the qual ladder into becoming a GS-5 FMO (mentally, not in reality) that i have seen some apprentices become.

As for your question about whether or not you can apply to the jobs announced under the demo authority, as long as you are a citizen and qualified, you can apply. it does not matter what job series you are in or even if you are a current employee.

So, good luck on competing with every other apprentice in R-5 and I hope that you are successful in your conquest to move up.


sittin and relaxin this weekend
5/28 There are transportation/road maps available on the Ken Perry/WFF Benefit Information/Status Page for those of you who will be attending or participating.

Thanks to Victoria Smith for her work!


5/28 Yes, if you are on 0462 and not on 0499 you can demmo out. I did it.
You dont happen to work in R-9 do you?


5/28 Coming up soon...

Run Ken Run!!!


5/28 As we all begin and continue our Wildand Fire Safety Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
training (ongoing/year-round):

Please consider adding these topics to your crews' discussions for safety....
  1. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation Powerpoint
  2. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation "The Power of One" Video (Ab comment:
    Small (6.5 MB) or Large (38 MB) download; takes 8 minutes to show to
    your crew, excellently done, good discussion starter
    ) and
  3. a personal explanation of the reasons you support the Wildland Firefighter
    Foundation and how you, and your crew can help keep wildland firefighters
    and their families safer.

Some options... Pledge to Ken Perry's Ultra Run or become a member (or Gold
Member) of the 52 Club... or both.

NorCal Tom

Ab is trying to find out how the WFF Powerpoint can be accessed. NorCal Tom, are you talking about the one shown to the Shots in February that progressed automatically? That was good too.

5/27 Ab:

Here's an article from today's NYTimes.com about the
use of immigrants, both legal and illegal, on the
firelines (registration required, but it is free):

(registration required)

I've been away from TheySaid for a while, so I haven't
been following the talk very closely. But it raises a
lot of issues that I know have been brought up on here
in the past.


PS: On an unrelated note, this will be my first summer
without fire in a long time. I've dropped out of the
fire game to become a doctor and I start rotations in
the hospital this summer. I love what I do now, but I
think of my crewmates, bros, and dispatch folks almost
every day here. Sometimes I wonder about the 180

Stay safe this summer to everyone.

Well, maybe we'll have to start a 12-step program for all those who were firefighters who shifted career emphasis. As far as I'm concerned, once a wildland firefighter, always a wildland firefighter. Of course, you could always decide to re-enter the fire ranks. Some have been known to do that. Ab.

5/27 Hey everybody -

This is my first posting, so please bear with me...

One of the lessons I've learned over the past year is to not leave things unsaid, so I'll get right to the point:

I want all of you wildland firefighters to know that you will always be in our thoughts and prayers. We love you, we appreciate you so much. You are our heroes, our role models. And to everyone who's ever contributed to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, - you're doing much more than providing emergency assistance to families like ours - you're helping us heal, you're educating us as to what you do, you're enabling the amazing Foundation to continue the important work they do.

We are the family of Jose Gonzalez, a contract pilot who was lost last year in a helicopter crash along the much-loved Charles Edgar of the Sabine NF and the much-loved John Greeno of the Stanislaus NF.

Jose (Joe) left behind two beautiful children, Sara (now 13) and Ricky (now 12) Gonzalez. As soon as we returned to Texas from burying their Daddy in Puerto Rico in March 1005, our Forest Service heli-angel (who shall remain nameless, but will always be special to us) contacted me out of the blue and told me how sorry they were, but Joe had no "death benefits". She said maybe the Wildland Firefighter Foundation would help defray the cost of our last-minute airfare and motels. Before I knew it, there was a check in hand and I understood the WFF motto "compassion spreads like wildfire".

Over the past year, the kids have been very brave, kept their grades up, and continued doing the things that always made Joe and I so proud. Because the WFF has kept up with us since the tragedy and because they honored our "rotor heads" with a marker at the Wildland Firefighter Monument, I thought it would be good to take the kids to Family Day in Boise. Before we left Texas last Friday, Ricky jokingly called this "another life-changing event". He was right.

The minute we checked in at (the amazing!) Fire Camp, there were hugs and tears all around. The beautiful Lori Greeno was there along with Montana and Marcus. I can't even go into detail about the program that was arranged for us (because I could never do it justice, plus too many tears are not good for a keyboard). Just know that both days were very moving, very enlightening and something I hope the WFF can do for every single family who suffers a loss like ours.

To meet face to face with other "survivor" families was priceless. To have the kids surrounded by such love and understanding - life-changing. It was brutal for the kids to have lost their Daddy as pre-teens when they're old enough to understand the loss, but young enough to really need his guidance and emotional support. Young classmates don't want to talk about your tragedy, so you tend to keep it locked inside. What a blessing to come to Idaho and hear the bagpipes, see the honor guard, watch the doves fly away, and to walk through the peaceful Monument gardens and realize that your Daddy will not be forgotten because the wildland firefighters really know how to take care of their own.

From the bottom of our hearts thank you to the Unsinkable Vicki Minor, Melissa, Evie and everyone else with the Foundation; thank you the the 52 Club members, thank you and Godspeed to Ken Perry, and thank you wildland firefighters - please keep doing what you're doing and going home safely when you're done. To all the incredible families we met last weekend - we love you so much - may you continue to heal and grow.

Sorry this is so long - I just want you all to know that Sara, Ricky and I will always be grateful for you.

With much love,
Sandra Sorrells Gonzalez
Lindale, Texas

Oh, anyone who knew Joe knows he would have offered you coffee and cookies, so please look us up if you're ever in East Texas. Have a safe fire season.!!

Welcome, Sandra. It's good to hear what a difference our donations to the Foundation make. Ab.

5/27 Cara,

I am currently a GS-0462-04 step 4 apprentice. Does this mean I can demo out of the program now? I have all of the qualifications to be a senior Firefighter, and acted as a senior firefighter last year on a crew, but I still have to finish up my helicopter time before I can convert. If this so please tell me, and I will apply tonight.

Prairie Dog Hunter
5/27 Dear Lobotomy:

I owe ya !!! One of my many character flaws is to pounce on some of these postings without giving due thought process. Such was the case with Bud's posting. Having just spent the better part of the afternoon fielding calls from the press on this very issue I was on the soapbox ready to go...However,

All afternoon I went through withdrawals from not jumping on They Said and responding. In fact as hard as it would have been, I was actually going to allow the entire Memorial Weekend to go by before I responded.

Thankfully you have once again spared the readership of this site from one of my "War & Peace" dissertations on these subjects. Thank you...till Tuesday :)

5/26 Bud,

Over the last two years, both the Congress and OMB have directed agencies to reduce cost pools so that more of the program funds hit the ground level. In return, the Forest Service "reduced" cost pools by making a new term called "indirect shared costs". Essentially these two term are the same and account for the increase in funds that are being diverted away for the fire program.

The sum that is shown by the WO for cost pools and indirect shared costs is for WO programs. The figure that is shown on the WO table ($74.5 million) is for WO funded programs only.

The Regional Offices then receive a significantly reduced amount of funding and then must allocate additional cost pools with the money they are given from the WO. The Regional Office cost pools fund Regional Office and Province programs.

Then what little money is left over is sent to the Forests who then have to fund their cost pools.

Nobody who understands the Forest Service budgetting process is naive. Some can really look at the figures and tell where the money is being misspent. It is not appropriate for WFPR funds to be funding 60-70% of cost pools and only getting 30-40% of the product resulting from the cost pools. It would be more appropriate for 80-90% of WFPR funding to be used for fire preparedness.

Many other agencies have done away with, or significantly lowered cost pools by requesting from Congress the funding that they need for allied support programs, not funding them by raking off money from a program that protects firefighters and communities.

5/26 An anonymous contributor sent this in:

From: www.fs.fed.us/congress/109/senate/oversight/rey/040506.phpl

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Policy, Management and Budget
United States Department of the Interior
Mark Rey
Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment
United States Department of Agriculture
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests
Firefighting Preparedness
April 5, 2006

"In the Appropriations language for the Forest Service for FY2006, Congress directed that fire suppression [WFSU] 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 [WFPR] 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."

Congressional direction has been to reduce cost pools and accurately show the true cost of the mission(s) performed, and share those costs appropriately.

The FY 2006 budget has a national cost pool cost of a little over 74 million dollars charged to WFPR. So, if "no crews have been reduced", why the drastic reductions in preparedness resources across the Western United States over the last two years? Many forests in the Western United States are reporting a loss of 25-50% FFPC on any given day!!!

From the Acronyms list:
WFPR = Wildland Fire Preparedness Resources or Wildland Fire Presuppression Fund, a fund code
WFSU = Wildland Fire Suppression
FFPC = Firefighter Production Capability

5/26 Mellie,

Thanks for posting that news article. This quote was an eye opener to me.

"The U.S. Forest Service is funded at $4.2 billion, which is $63 million less
than in 2006 but $98 million more than the request."

I read it as the Forest Service is not requesting an appropriate budget and
the Congress adjusted it upwards above the agency request.

5/26 Ab,
Just a heads up to everyone that GS-5/6 announcements for engines,
handcrews/shot crews, and helicopters just came out for Region 5. These are
DEMO so anyone who meets the qualifications and is a US citizen can apply.
Time for all of those GS-4 apprentices and seasonals to get their
applications together! To make them easy to find I have posted a link to
the announcements on the recruitment section of the WFAP website.

5/26 Ab -

Howdy! Some relevant news for this crowd...

From SI Insight at www.fcw.com/ : NAPA studies impact of A-76

The National Academy of Public Administration concluded that it is too early to tell how much an A-76 competition has improved IT services at the Forest Service.


Also, a link to the May 24 Testimony on hurricane preparedness to the House Government Reform Committee... there is some interesting info here regarding DHS, the DHS Preparedness Directorate, FEMA, etc:


-fly on the wall
5/26 There is a new, much smaller video of The Power of One available on the Ken Perry Information & Status page. Thanks to Ian Perry for making it more friendly to our large group of folks who use dial-up connections.


5/26 Ken's Ultra Run:

Ab, here's something that will give folks an idea of miles, times and the run ops.



Start Location


End Location

Leg Miles

Cumulative Miles


WFF KCP 104 Start


Staging Area 1




N35˚, 17.943″












W117, 41.226












Staging Area 1


Edwards AFB North Gate










EAFB North Gate


EAFB South Gate










EAFB South Gate


WJF Tanker Base










WJF Tanker Base

?? 0200-0300 ??

Ave K & 110 (Johnson Hill)










Ave K & 110 (Johnson Hill)

0500  ??

Green Valley Fire Station










Green Valley Fire Station

0600-0700 ???

LA County Fire Station 126

END of Run






End time should be prior to 1400 to stay within the 25 hour time frame ???


  • Run start is 17.5 miles NE of staging area 1 on Randsburg Mojave Road (2 lane dirt BLM Road)
  • Staging area 1 = Junction / Intersection of Randsburg Mojave Road and Twenty Mule Team Parkway NE of California City at the BLM rest /picnic area. Pre Run Briefing Area.
  • EAFB = Edwards Air Force Base
  • WJF = Willie J. Fox Airfield. Home of the USFS and BLM Fox Air Tanker Base and Aviation Units. This is Bravo 5’s and Ken Perry’s home base.
  • Green Valley Fire Station: US Forest Service Fire Station. Home of the Gilbert Lopez Memorial. Gilbert was the Engine Captain who died fighting a wildfire in the area in 1981.
  • LA County Fire Station 126 – Los Angeles County Fire Station in Santa Clarita. HUGE supporters of the run last year and this year. Scheduled end of the run.
  • TIMES ?? – Times prior to the 55 mile mark should be close.. everything after 55 miles with a ?? by it is a guestimate

5/26 I posted this link last month, looks like it is time again to put some facts into the discussion about budgets, fire preparedness, etc http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/ Click on Director's Corner and readTom Harbour's "Message from the Director". Then read the Fire Preparedness testimony and the rest of the information in the Corner.

The fire budget used to be 13% of the Forest Service budget. Now it's 43%. I just counted up the $$ from just fire preparedness from 2003-2006 = $~2.5 BILLION. Here's the link to the budget justifications - tedious but in the end interesting www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/

Several years ago during a couple of the big fire years, costs of suppression far exceeded funds Congress appropriated. To pay for fire suppression, funds from the rest of the Forest Service had to be used which pretty much shut down all the other programs - ask your colleagues in recreation, lands, wildlife about it - they remember. Congress made good but it took several months each time and you can see by their remarks that they still grapple with how to fund fire suppression adequately - they don't want to give too much and they don't want to give too little.

If you don't understand cost pools or indirect costs, you owe it to yourself to read up on it and understand it. Cost pools aren't taking money from Fire Preparedness, cost pools are what pay for our managment, NIFC, communications, business and personnel operations, rent, utilities, equipment and supplies. It's Congressional direction, it's a fact. Get over it. We have to have this stuff to run. That's probably why managers seem to have no reaction if you are complaining - they can't believe you are so naive as to think these things are free or should be paid by someone else.

When we harp on what we don't have, we're missing what we do have - an excellent and flexible force of people, skills, equipment, and partners that can move quickly based on need. We can't have everything everwhere all the time. We need to make the best of what we have - which is plenty - again, ask your colleagues in other areas of the Forest Service. We're damn lucky we have $ to do so much given the state of our nation's finances.


5/26 This came in regarding the GS-8 Engine Captains Review:

File Code: 6150-1
Route To:
Subject: Results of Review of Engine Captain Positions
To: Regional Foresters

I recently directed the Human Capital Management (HCM) staff to convene a small team of classification specialists and fire management subject matter experts from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service to review the classification of Supervisory Forestry Technician (Engine Captain) positions at the GS-08 level. In early April, the team reviewed both the supervisory and non-supervisory work of GS-08 Engine Captain positions, and expanded their findings to encompass all engine types. I have accepted their determination that the GS-08 grade level is supportable for an Engine Captain of a Type III or IV engine in areas with the added complexities of wildland-urban interface, including proximity of high-value improvements, and regular and recurring all-hazard incidents and frequent interagency jurisdictional issues and coordination requirements, and that the GS-07 grade level is supportable for all engine types when these complexities are not present.

It is important to note that the difference in grade does not represent a difference in the Agency's performance expectations for knowledge, skills and abilities of an Engine Captain; they are the same for all Engine Captains, regardless of engine type. This is particularly salient as it supports our mobile forces concept for fire suppression, use, and support.

The interagency classification team will be developing an interagency position description for a GS-08 Engine Captain within the next few months. In the meantime, new Agency Position Files (APFs) in Avue have been established by the HCM Staff for your use. See enclosure for classification guidance and the list of APFs.

Where it is determined that upgrades to encumbered positions are warranted, you are authorized to proceed with non-competitive promotions based on a reclassification study of this work. Where it is determined that existing grade levels are correct, it will be necessary to reassign employees to new position descriptions; however, we are asking that you hold off on reassignments until the interagency position descriptions have been developed. As a reminder, in accordance with CFR 511.704(a) (4), an employee whose position is upgraded is not entitled to back pay.

Questions may be directed to Joan Shelly, HR Specialist (Classification) at
(215) 257-3190 or via e-mail to jmshelly@fs.fed.us.


cc: Michael Bunten, pdl wo OPS HRM class officers, pdl wo OPS HRM employment officers, pdl wo OPS HRM personnel officers, Kathy Burgers, Tom Harbour

5/26 For those interested, here are some pointers for Navigating Congress.

I've linked to them rather than posting here.

These look to be some excellent directions.


5/26 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
5/25 Lobotomy,

Some people ARE talking about the budget cuts and rake-offs and the effect
they have had and will continue to have on firefighter and public safety,
loss of effectiveness and efficiency in fire suppression, etc. I have
written letters to S.O. and R.O. Fire Management Leadership, talked about
it in regional meetings, local forest FMO meetings, and conference calls.

I haven't had much of a response at all. There is a malaise within the
agency. It is very frustrating trying to field an effective and safe fire
organization without the needed support from the agency. It's tough trying
to staff engines with unfilled vacancies, manage work/rest, respond to the
fire load, etc. It makes me mad that I have unstaffed engines sitting in
the garage when I have fires going. Here it is mid May and we're already
working people 14 days, fire season has barely begun. But the agency can
fill all kinds of non-critical positions and leave fire positions unfilled
and fire trucks un- staffed. FUBAR.

I think there was someone talking about a federal wildland fire department
some months ago. I'll go for that. It has to be better than what is going on
now. If the forest service can't effectively manage and support its fire
management organization, a fire department sure as hell must be able to!


Bump Pulaski

5/25 Everyone --

Ken's run is just a little over a week away. Those of us that have, and do put it on the line to answer the call, need to step it up and help out those that need assistance in time of tragedy. This is not "just a federal thing" or "a California" thing or a "West Coast" thing. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has helped out families in 15 different states from all over this great country. The agencies of the employees are across the board, feds, states, Counties, local fire agencies and private contractors. When tragedy strikes, it knows no bounds by the color of the paint, shape of the badge or geographic area.

Those of us that were and are part of Overhead teams, are currently Chief Officers or Incident Commanders at any level have an especially daunting task to take on some difficult situations, make sense out of the situation and then make sure that everyone goes home to their loved ones with all the pieces in the right places. Those that are crew supervisors, and company officers are face to face with situations on an almost daily basis which place firefighters in high risk situations.

Occasionally things go wrong, terribly wrong, and the WFF is there to support the families and victims of those situations. Let's all reach deep in our pocket and make a pledge to help Ken's effort to be a great success. Think about it please.


Right on... (Thanks Hutch for assuming the position of IC on this run. We all appreciate your expertise and involvement. Some other folks -but not all- on the team who are working hard... Kens Team. A lot of work is going into this event.) Ab.

5/25 Did y'all see this story about tankers dropping on an airport fire?
Sure would complicate structural fireground operations. Wonder
how effective this is?


Still Out There as an AD

5/25 Hi to all:

Letter writing in the traditional sense (letter with a stamp) to Washington DC is no longer practical as mail headed towards congressional offices and some government agencies is still being irradiated.

The best way to communicate with those that need to know and can affect change is either by fax, email or phone. Below is a listing of just some of the congressional offices and specific staff contacts the FWFSA has been working with on HR 408 as well as budget issues.

If you are inclined to email, fax or call an office or staff person, it would be best to ensure you are a constituent of that office i.e. you can vote for the person who holds that office. If you are in doubt, you can call the FWFSA directly at 208-775-4577 or email at cjudd@fwfsa.org. You can also visit the FWFSA website at www.fwfsa.org and enter the "links" area to identify your senator or congressperson. Please also note that if you call a congressional office to seek the Member's position on something, they will likely ask for your zip code so they can ensure you are a constituent.

If your particular member of congress or a staff person from that office is not listed, let me know and we'll get you a point of contact. The most important aspect of communicating with congress is knowing the facts and providing reliable data. Emotional commentary only goes so far. You need to be clear as to the factual impact current budgetary policies are having on firefighters as well as taxpayers. These are some of the selected offices & staff we continue to work on to support HR 408 and illustrate the impact of budgetary policies.

Some notes: Do not use a government phone of fax machine to communicate with these offices. This must be on your time, not on government time.

Mark Rey
Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment
PH: 202-720-7173
Fax: 202-720-0632

Dale Bosworth, Chief US Forest Service
Fax: 202-205-1785

Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) John Watts
PH: 202-224-3841
Fax: 202-228-3954

for the rest of the list

Casey Judd
Business Manager
(208) 775-4577
5/25 Escaped fires due to budget cuts

Not again, I don't believe the current fire planning model - FPA - will
provide the type of info you're interested in seeing posted. I believe that's
the primary reason we're using it rather than NFMAS.

With FPA, they can cut our budgets without the consequences being
displayed. What FPA does is give a most efficient organization for any
budget level
. So they can cut our budget in half, and FPA will give
the most efficient organization for that budget level.

NFMAS would display the resulting increase of acres burned as a result
of the budget cut, and the administration did not want to see that.


You're the first person to say that publicly here on theysaid, although many are saying it privately. If true, that sounds like information the interface Public should have, especially since the BUDGET congress allocates for fire is not the budget getting to the ground for FIRE - since so much $$ is being raked off to relocate finance and IT, etc.

5/25 Regarding the federal budget cuts and the potential for increased fire escapes, it would be great to have the readers here gather and send in the new projected fires/acres as predicted from their units fire planning analysis based on their reduced resources this year. Maybe Ab could make a chart or table and at the end of the fire seasons, there would be a historical public record to reflect the consequences of arbitrarily playing with numbers on a piece of paper.

If it's a mellow year our leaders can point and say, "See, we told you we were ready". But if it's just an average year in just 50% of the areas, there would be a location to direct any victims whose lives and property were somehow projected as being expendable. It's one thing for fire managers to view the year end "statistics", but it would be very interesting to observe John Q Public's reaction.

The final results could show taxpayers and Congress how each dollar cut from the fire preparedness budget relates to increased fire suppression costs. Or lives and property lost. From reading, I know there are some good mathematical minds contributing here to help if needed and there could be maps and charts to help even the statistically challenged to easily understand.

Anyway, just a thought. Thanks for the always interesting and informative reading.

Just sign me: Not Again!

We'll do it. Good idea. Ab.

5/25 Everyone, here's a disheartening article on budget cuts from the Star-Tribune, Washington bureau (last Saturday)...

This is a dangerous development for the public and for firefighters. Maybe we need a letter writing campaign. Anyone have some stats on resources affected? Do we write Congress, the Prez and/or someone else? I can just hear them when the interface burns up... (whiny tone) "but we didn't know..."

There needs to be some record that they were told the likely consequences of their decision -- so they can be held accountable!


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

Spending bill would cut Interior, Forest service budgets
By Noelle Straub

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House on Thursday evening passed a $25.9 billion spending bill that would reduce funding for the Interior Department, Forest Service and national parks and would drop two Bush administration proposals to sell federal lands.

"As passed by committee, the bill includes $9.7 billion for the Interior Department, which is $211 million less than fiscal year 2006 levels, but $40 million more than Bush's request. The U.S. Forest Service is funded at $4.2 billion, which is $63 million less than in 2006 but $98 million more than the request."

5/25 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Cut in firefighting capabilities in forests is unwise

"As Southern California temperatures rise to somewhere north of unbearable, with the start of the region's infamous fire season just around the corner, a federal plan to reduce the state's firefighting attack capabilities by up to 50 percent in some places is dumbfounding."

"In San Bernardino County, home to one of the most urbanized - and most dangerous - mountain forests in the nation, with approximately 100,000 residents and $7 billion in assessed property values, it means a reduction from 25 staffed engines last year to 15 engines this year. On weekends, there will be 20 engines available, although fires don't generally work on a schedule."

Don't forget that 15 engines during the week and 20 engines available on the weekends is peak FFPC under this "plan". When engines go off on strike teams, FFPC will be drastically lowered. Also, overhead will be un-available to support regional and national mobilizations.

I wonder if any other areas that are suffering cuts to their fire preparedness resources are contacting the press to have their concerns put on the public record? Are people talking about how these cuts to fire preparedness and suppression resources are going to affect the safety of our firefighters and the public this and future fire seasons?


5/24 I just got back from Family Day. It was pretty cool to meet all of the families. I want to thank the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for inviting me up there.

It's just a little over a week till the WFF 104. We've had contact with the Texas Canyon and Bear Divide Hotshots and the Rio Hondo Roadrunners, who are planning on running with me (unless a fire assignment comes up, of course). Some other firefighters from the Angeles are planning on running also. I also Met Jim Roth (Brother of McCall SMJ Roger Roth who was killed on Storm King Mtn, and who has done a lot for the wildland fire community) at Family Day. He is planning on coming out for the run. He has the Rock n Roll marathon in San Diego on the 4th, but might do a nice taper run with us on Fri or Sat.

The pledges are starting to speed up, and hopefully will continue to do so.

For those that want to come down and run or just come down, we will be meeting at Fox Air Attack base at 10:00 AM, and then traveling out to the start as a caravan. I will post directions to the start before the 2nd.

Here are some things for folks that will be coming down, either as runners or spectators.



  • Comfortable shoes: Lightweight hiking boots, or running/walking shoes.
  • Shorts or baggy lightweight light colored pants.
  • Oversized long sleeve (light colored) lightweight button shirt.
  • Hat. Preferably a full brimmed (booney hat). At least baseball style.
  • Bandana. Or cooldana
  • Sunglasses (with full UV protection)
    *Just make sure it’s comfortable, and will keep you as cool as possible.


  • Sweater, or jacket (it can get pretty cool at night)
  • Lightweight windbreaker/rain jacket
  • Light gloves


  • Sun-block Personal choice, but the high desert can be ruthless.
  • Chap-stick
  • Moisturizer (for after the sun goes down)
  • Toiletries


  • Food, snacks. (there will be only a couple of places to get food [fast food] in California City [mile 23ish] and then Lancaster.
  • Bring lots of fluids. Water, sports drinks, soda (in moderation).


  • Snakes (Mojave Green Rattlesnake, among others) are common in the desert of course, although during the heat of the day they will more than likely be burrowed in or under bushes. The best chance of seeing them will be after sunset, when the come out onto the roads to warm up. Just keep clear. There’s no reason to harm them.
  • California Desert Tortoise. The first 20 odd miles of the run are adjacent to the California Desert Tortoise Preserve. If you see one, COOL! Take a picture, but please don’t touch or move them.
  • Coyotes. ‘nuff said.
  • Could be Bees, so if you are allergic, like I am, make sure you’ve got what you need.
  • Much of the area was used as ranges during WWII, so unexploded ordinance might be out there. Don't touch. Ask me about the mortar I found years ago.......
  • Low flying aircraft and sonic booms….Let’s hope!


First I want to say how much I and the WFF appreciate all of you that want to share in this experience. The support I was given by the runners last year made it much more enjoyable to me, and the support team. It certainly made it more of a spectacle in Santa Clarita having all of the runners, than simply a lone dude running down the sidewalk. With that in mind, this year's run is not only going to be twice as far, but the conditions will more than likely be quite different than last year. Last year we started at 0700. The temperature was in the mid 50’s. Even at the finish, it may have been in the 70’s with partly cloudy skies. This year we are starting the run at virtually the hottest part of the day. There are reasons for this; mainly logistical, and I won’t get into them here.

Obviously it is impossible to say what the weather is going to be on the days of this year’s run. .However chances are it will be hot in the desert, with temps ranging from 95-105 degrees. Humidity historically would be low (8-10%), although thunderstorms are not out of the question. Wind is, again, a normal thing in the high desert this time of year due to thermal low pulling in coastal air. This wind in addition to the heat and low RH leads to quicker dehydration. As most firefighters already know, a lower RH and wind will make you feel cooler, as perspiration evaporates more freely, and can be deceptive in that being cooler makes you feel like you are properly hydrated.

It is also important to remember that if you have not been training in these conditions, you are not yet acclimated. Also being that crews are just now coming on for fire season, some members may not be acclimated nor in as prime shape as they might, say in mid to late June. So it is important for crewmembers to be looking out for each other, and for crew bosses to be looking for signs amongst the crew.

One of the most dangerous situations that can happen to runners in these conditions is what’s called Hyponetremia. This is a condition in which there is an imbalance of electrolytes; or more importantly a “low salt content” in your cells. For most of you, the distance you will probably run, this won’t be a problem. However, lack of acclimatization, or those that aren’t fully “up to speed” physically, can be at risk for this condition. In its advanced state, it is a medical emergency. Again most of you won’t be running far enough (or more importantly, long enough) for this to be an issue, so I don’t want to freak anyone out. I would suggest, however that before and during the run, you eat salty food (snacks). This can be potato chips, salted nuts, etc. Pretzels are good during the run, because they have salt, carbohydrates, and they calm the stomach.

For anyone running more than 13 miles, there are special things I can suggest. So either E-mail, or call me at least a few days before the run.

So, with that in mind, I want to list some basic rules for runners and crews to follow so that this becomes a fun and memorable experience, and to avoid any injuries or heat related illness. When you get here, you’ll notice that one of the objectives in the IAP is “TO HAVE FUN”.

  1. Crews must assign a supervisor to be in charge of all runners associated with that crew. Ideally this is someone that is not going to run, or run just a short part. This can be the Supt. of the hot shot crew, crew boss, or designee.
  2. The run/crew supervisor must have communication with the IC or OPS. Most of the way this will be cell phone, but a handie talkie would be an advantage in addition.
  3. Each crew needs to have a designated first responder, preferably an EMT. If this person wants to run, another EMT will need to be available during that time. Each crew must have a first aid kit (basic kit; blister care, bandages, etc.).
  4. The crew vehicles should remain as close to their runners as possible. This may be difficult on day 2 in some areas. We just don’t want them miles ahead of the crew.
  5. Each crew is required to provide their own food and liquids. I highly recommend that each crew buy some Gatorade (or similar) powder and mix their own in jugs, or cooler. Bottles are fine, obviously, but powder is cheaper.
  6. Anyone that plans on running more than 6 miles is required to have (at a minimum) an 80/20 electrolyte to water replacement drink ratio.
  7. Each crew should bring a separate container (cooler, tub) of water for runners to cool off with. Sponges are great. Back pack pumps would be a great idea to spray a mist.
  8. If single runners, or an engine crew want to run, we ask the they piggy back on a crew, or form a strike team for the reasons above. If at all possible set this up before the day of the run. We will have very limited time the morning of the run to deal with this.
  9. Support runners are limited to daylight hours (0440-1900). There will be a few people that will run with me during the night. They were hand picked by me, as having Ultra, marathon, or Adventure racing experience.
  10. Ken, IC, OPS or EMT has the authority to pull anyone off the course, or ask their supervisor to pull them out, if they are showing signs of any heat illness. Again, we’re not going to be overly protective about it, as we know pretty much everyone can handle what they are doing. We just want to make sure everyone is safe.

* We don’t want to keep anyone from running whatever they want to run. But let’s know our limits.

Other ideas:

  1. If you can, wear lightweight and light colored “wicking” (Coolmax or the like) materials for shirts and shorts.
  2. Wear a hat (that allows air movement), sunglasses, and sunblock. A wet bandana for your neck works great. And some kind of shroud is a nice idea.
  3. Wear proper running shoes. If you are planning on running just a couple of miles, no big deal. However, for those that are planning on more, you should be wearing good running shoes. Of course, no one is expecting you to go out and buy a $120.00 pair, but you will be more comfortable if you can plan ahead. Also if you do buy a new pair of shoes, break them in for a good 10-15 miles before the run.

The first 35 miles of the course are dirt road and the shoulder of an asphalt road. There is virtually no cover for shade really anywhere. The first good rest area for shade is at the corner of Mojave Ransburg Rd. and Twenty Mule Team Rd. in California City. (approx 28 mi from the start) This is where the ICP motor home will be parked. So the only cool area to retreat to might be inside your vehicles with A/C. (there are mini-marts and restaurants in California City.)

If a crew or runner gets a late start on the first day, please stop at the staging area (above), where the motor-home is parked, and get a briefing before joining the run.

The second day runners will meet at Green Valley Sta. It is hoped that the timing will work out that I will arrive at approx. 0600. There will be a staging area manager there to welcome everyone, and a briefing will be held there before the run begins.

At that time we will begin the run down San Fran.Canyon. This will be traveled much more (by the public) than the desert portion of the run, and will take more vigilance from leaders and runners themselves.

Runners that can’t be at the staging area at Green Valley at 0600, can start along the route. Just try to tie in with the IC or OPS before starting.

I will be about 80 miles in, when reaching GV. I will be extremely tired and probably in a lot of pain. Keep in mind that there will probably be a lot of walking (especially hills), and stopping. I may not seem to be having fun, but will be enjoying the journey. I may not look like I know you’re there, but I do. Both Texas Canyon and Bear Divide Hot Shots were there last year, and they can provide a lot of good info, and tips.

Again, I understand that most of those that will be running with me that day are in superb shape. And these rules, as all rules, are designed to protect those that may not be. I run 100+ miles a week in these conditions, purposely going out in the hottest part of the day, in order to train for this run. And I’m nervous about these things. So please don’t take this as anything more than what it is.

Thanks. Let’s all have fun, and be safe.

If you have any questions, reach me here…..

Kenneth Perry

Here's the Ken's Run Page  that we'll be using (in addition to theysaid) to keep abreast of the run in real time with photos, short videos and updates. Take a look at the jpg map and then the animated fly-over that zooms in from space. There's also a very fine video clip (8 min) of the run last year, Ken, Melissa, Vicki, Lauri Greeno, the Brinkleys and others.

Thanks to everyone participating on the ground and remotely. Get on the pledge page and pledge. Email or call your contacts and let them know of the opportunity to support the Foundation. Ab.

5/23 Concerned friend,

Did your friend keep a copy of the letter of resignation? Was it dated? Did he sign any forms saying he was resigning? He had to do paperwork to quit you cant just leave and expect to be paid and receive all your tax info! What about his paycheck did he receive it on time? He needs to check out how they listed him on payroll for the month before his firing date the agency gave him. If all you say is 100% true and all the ducks line up, talk to a union rep, then depending on the info they give, check out the agreement. If you're still not clear or need more info, contact the labor board. I suggest that before contacting an attorney and starting a lawsuit have all other options exhausted first!

5/23 Dear Concerned Friend:

Although the FWFSA doesn't get involved in labor relations, personnel actions etc., there is enough labor union experience on the Board of Directors to offer a thought or two.

I would surmise that your friend is covered under a collective bargaining agreement by a union. The obvious first place to go in such matters is the union. They are equipped for dealing with these kinds of things. If the union is worth anything, they will attempt to assist your friend despite the fact he has already separated from the service. Depending upon which union your friend was represented by, there should have been a steward on the forest to which he was assigned. That should be the first contact.

Now for common sense stuff:

You indicate your friend resigned for good reason. I would hope that anyone who resigns from the federal government for "good reason" has even better documentation of that "good reason." Moreover, your friend's union representative should already be aware of his "good reasons" ...all the more reason to contact the union.

From my experience as a labor union president, if the facts are as you present them, the issue should not be very difficult to resolve. However, your friend should be the one soliciting help, not you.

There is a rather formal, protracted process for an agency of the Government to "fire" an employee. Quite candidly, there is no way a federal employee can be fired and not know they are being fired and not be provided ample opportunities to address his termination. That is what the collective bargaining agreement is all about. Maybe you don't have all the information. With all due respect, something seems to be missing from the story. Your friend needs to contact the union with the "whole" story.

Casey Judd
5/23 I wanted to write to tell all of you readers of this site about the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, what it means to me and what it was like to be at the 2nd annual Family Weekend.

I had never heard of the WFF until October 2004. We lost my son, Dan Holmes, on 10/02/04 on a prescribed burn at Grant Grove. The Foundation immediately stepped in with offers of money, they worked some kind of magic that made it possible for the entire Arrowhead Hotshot crew, some of the engine crew, and Danny's girlfriend to bring him home to New Hampshire and help us get through the hardest days of our lives! Since then, there has always been a wonderful friend at the other end of the phone when i am feeling down and alone.

At the first Foundation Family Day, we met the wonderful people that ARE the Foundation. And, we met many other family members who understand "the life", who understand our grief and loss, who put no strings on friendship and who put no artificial timeline on how long its ok to grieve! It was a healing and honoring day. The monument site itself is beautiful and peaceful. I hope everyone of you can go there to sit quietly with memories.

This year, as you have read, there was a fire camp set up for us to see and live. It was a wonderful experience. We met many people who never hesitated to explain how you all live "at camp"; we got to eat, sleep and shower much like you do. There were many special moments but I wanted to share one personal experience. Prior to this weekend, I've not been blessed with any "visits" from Dan, but as i was showering Sunday morning and marveling at how comfortable it was, i clearly remembered Danny telling me one time "Ma, you have no idea how good a hot shower feels after a long shift on the line"! Later that day we had more somber celebrations at the Foundation and at NIFC, I'm sure you'll enjoy the pictures. We again shared our love and loss with other families and friends. I am so thankful that there is a place and there are people who make this all possible! It was a wonderful and healing weekend, made possible by the WFF and donations to it.

I wish there would never be another family to need these wonderful people, but i am sure Vicki, Burk , Melissa and the staff will be right there whenever and wherever they are needed to share the tears, lend an ear or give a wonderful hug.

Dee Burke

Welcome to theysaid, Dee. We are so sorry for your loss, but glad you have the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and our wildland fire community. Thanks for sharing.

You may not know, but this fire community at theysaid was present in spirit lending our support to your family and Arrowhead following Dan's death. Dan Holmes Memorial Page It was a heartbreaker.

Similarly we'll be virtually present with Ken, the shots and the support team celebrating Ken's run. Original Ab got the WFF Power of One Video of last year's run uploaded and linked. We invite all to view it, sign up and pledge. Ab.

5/23 To anyone that can help

Im trying to help out a good friend of mine who is dealing with some BS from his last federal job he had. If anyone can give me some help on this it would be much appreciated.

The situation he is going thru is this.

  • He had a full time position with a agency in region 5,
  • well after being there for some time he ended up quitting for very good reasons.
  • He told his FMO that he was quitting and
  • gave a letter of resignation,
  • well he just found out that in his file the agency never put down that he resigned.
  • The agency is saying he was fired!

I don't understand how the FMO can say he fired him a month after my friend resigned.
So I guess my question is can they actually do this? Once again the facts are
: My friend gave a letter of resignation
: He never signed any forms saying he was being fired
: The agency's termination date was almost a month after he resigned
: The agency had all of his contact info phone numbers, forwarding
address etc. but never contacted him

Thanks.....Concerned Friend

5/23 For all you all risk folks, you gotta try this one!

The birdflu game. It has sound (you might want to turn it down). Very therapeutic!



5/23 MJD - Dispatcher, USFS,

Thanks - your response is just another reason why this is such a good site.

Former Fed Firefighter
5/23 To enter the AD system, any former fed must first gather ALL their
certification and training records together, so any position you identify
as qualified, is documented in the paper format, including position
evaluations from assignments. Then, contact the federal fire dispatch
center closest to your home, or the state/regional coordination center, to
see if they have a need. They can process you according to their
protocols, as each region is a little different. Just BE SURE you can
document the training, task books and positions you intend to claim for a
redcard. If any of the positions require fire refreshers and annual pack
test completion, and the dispatch center can direct you on that too.

Dispatcher, USFS

I added that question and your answer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. Ab.

5/23 Good Morning Everyone-

There's a new Ken Perry/WFF Benefit page ready where information and status will be available. Currently there route maps in .jpg, pdf, and an animated fly-over. Other information will be added as we receive it. You can find the Status & Information Page at the following link: www.wildlandfire.com/kperry/2006/info.php

Original Ab

Wow... Everyone should go take a look at the map and the aerial flyover. Pretty amazing.
Thanks to everyone who is working on this project.
Pledge if you haven't already. Tell your friends and family. Plan to go cheer Ken and the hotshots on.
I feel the excitement building! Ab.

5/23 Hello All ~

(As soon as I possible I’ll have photos on our website about Family Day, bear with me!)

Yesterday marked the “end” of our 2nd Annual Family Day Event in Boise for our survivor family members. We had 70+ individual family members and 30+ support crew/staff on hand. What an amazing experience. The fire camp set up was well received and enjoyed (even with the MAJOR storm that blew through Boise on Thurs and Fri night) by everyone. Families laughed, shared, cried, and healed with each other. They also played badminton, hiked, drank a beer, and sat around a campfire.

I ran the kids activity tent on Saturday afternoon with more than 12 kids (ages 3 to 16). We decorated t-shirts, painted rocks, shook hands with Smokey Bear and heard Smokey’s story. As the younger kids became worn out, I took the older kids on a hike around the Lucky Peak Nursery grounds. We saw fat “rock chucks” (or for the rock chuck impaired - “marmots”), a snake, cat tails, and we skipped rocks in the pond. For more than an hour, we joked and laughed at and with, each other. I heard stories about dad’s that are no longer here. It was such an “in the moment” time for me. I met some truly amazing kids – Montana and Marcus Greeno, Sara and Ricky Gonzalez, and Jake Martinez. I can’t thank their Moms enough for sharing them with me.

Ken Perry also attended to meet the families and talk to them about his reasons for running 104.8 miles. In his own quiet, unassuming way he told them he was doing this run to raise money for them and for those that will unfortunately come along and need our help, and in some small way, bring recognition to their firefighter and all wildland firefighters.

As we cleaned up yesterday afternoon and the families slowly walked through our doors to leave, I sadly realized it might be a whole year before I’d see some of them again. We truly become attached to these families, we truly are a family. We had all the nostalgia, chatting, silliness, and in-depth emotional discussions of any family barbecue you would ever attend.

Thank you to the many family and community members who helped us bring Family Day 2006 to our survivors. You are all special, caring, and compassionate people.

Please don’t forget to make your pledge for Ken’s Run. Your support does make a difference and you are part of our family.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Ken's Ultra Run Pledge Page   Ab.

5/23 Lobotomy

The Oklahoma FOOLS will be hosting a golf tournament for fallen firefighter Destry Horton. Destry was fatally injured while fighting a wildfire earlier this year. He leaves behind a wife Brandy and two small daughters. The tournament will be a four person scramble, with tee time at 10:00 am Sat. May 27th at the Cimmaron Trails GC in Perkins, OK. The entry fee is $70.00 per person ($280 per team), and includes Green Fee, Cart, bucket of range balls, longest drive contest, food beverages, and door prizes...and well worth it.

FOR DETAILS CONTACT: oklahomafools@yahoo.com or jerimiah318@aol.com ASAP .
5/22 Dear Tahoe,

<your questions> my answers

<Is this true???>

<Is this legal in America???>
The Dept. of Agriculture thinks so. The Justice Department thinks so. The Defense thinks not. We'll find out on Wednesday what the judge thinks (or, rather, after he rules on Wednesday's hearing)

<Do you have any documents that could help us get the truth, or can you point us to some source, or are they all tied up by lawyers?>
As with any court case, the documents are available once filed with the court. This case is in federal court in Phoenix. I have hard copies. Some of the documents may be available online through the PACER system.

<Who did the questioning?>
2 agents from the Dept of Ag's Office of Inspector General.

<Do you know how long the "confession" took to extract?>
Between 4 and 5 hours.

<Was Van intimidated or coerced?>
Depends on who you ask. It will be debated at the hearing.

<Was none of the interview recorded?>



Thank you for your comments. It's very interesting to hear from a public defender. You said,

You mention the right not to incriminate yourself in your post of 5/22. What people often don't know is that you only get the famous 'Miranda Warning' if you're undergoing 'custodial interrogation.' In other words, you have to be in custody, not free to leave, and they have to be questioning you while you're in custody. If they simply arrest you and don't ask you questions, they don't have to warn you.

This is exactly what will be argued in court Wednesday. Are you or are you not in custody under the circumstances in which Van Bateman was interviewed? According to the court filings, disputed by neither the prosecution nor the defense, the two agents were armed, the interview took place in a small back room, the door was closed (with Bateman's permission), he was instructed by his supervisor to submit to the interview, the disclaimer issued to him stated he can remain silent, "however, your silence can be construed in an administrative proceeding for its evidentiary value."

The prosecution will argue that the disclaimer also states "you cannot be dismissed solely for remaining silent" and that it states "non-custodial" across the top.

The defense will argue that any given employee could not be expected to understand the implication of the buzz word "non-custodial" but will understand being ordered to submit by a supervisor and the line about silence being used against him/her in an administrative proceeding.

You said,

If I'm really lucky, there's no warning given, and there's a tape that proves that point. If this happens, we should be able to suppress the statement.

There is no tape.

You said,

I don't do much federal work, but in my limited exposure to FBI agents, it appears to be their protocol not to tape-record interviews. It seems to me they prefer to write reports containing statements allegedly made by suspects/defendants, and have their witnesses testify as to 'confessions.' Without a recording, it's hard to know if your client is telling you the truth, or if the agent is. If the agent makes a better witness than your guy (if you put your client on the stand, that is), you lose.

These were not FBI agents. They were armed agents from the Dept of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General. However, the "mo" is exactly as you describe.


5/22 Is the Forest Service going away from the "T" card system as far as check in goes?
Just one question out of a million!

Thanks SoCal FF
5/22 KC,

You mention the right not to incriminate yourself in your post of 5/22. What people often don't know is that you only get the famous 'Miranda Warning' if you're undergoing 'custodial interrogation.' In other words, you have to be in custody, not free to leave, and they have to be questioning you while you're in custody. If they simply arrest you and don't ask you questions, they don't have to warn you.

As a public defender, my clients are always telling me that they didn't get any warnings; and I tell them what I just wrote, that they have to be in custody before the warning requirement is triggered. Most of the time, my client blabs after being given the warnings. If I'm really lucky, there's no warning given, and there's a tape that proves that point. If this happens, we should be able to suppress the statement

I don't do much federal work, but in my limited exposure to FBI agents, it appears to be their protocol not to tape-record interviews. It seems to me they prefer to write reports containing statements allegedly made by suspects/defendants, and have their witnesses testify as to 'confessions.' Without a recording, it's hard to know if your client is telling you the truth, or if the agent is. If the agent makes a better witness than your guy (if you put your client on the stand, that is), you lose.

5/22 Ab-

Regarding Tom (and several others) who don't want to and are complaining about- Management Team assignments to incidents other than fire. Please, please, please, do not take this attitude! As a State Firefighter (Red Army) and member of a FEMA USAR team who responded to Katrina, it is important that you folks look at the real picture here.

While many of you think you are not trained to deal with medical mass casualty scenarios or non-fire emergencies, let me assure you, many of those who are and do respond NEED you and your skills. You have experience running large incidents. You have experience with logistics, plans, etc... This was never more evident while I was at Katrina. After 2 weeks of observing (and having to suffer the consequences) of a management team that lacked experience, knowledge, and the proper work ethic, and seeing how things began to improve almost immediately after a couple Federal and State Fire management teams began to assist the FEMA teams, it was apparent that the real skills are developed by DOING THEM. You folks do them every summer and know how to get things done. You don't need to be a doctor to run a chow line, you don't need to be a structural engineer to be a motel manager, you don't need to be an air traffic controller to run a helibase, and that is why folks like you in the fire service shine. The Can Do attitude. Lets face it, there are too many folks who, because of political connections, receive positions they are not qualified for. Yeah, they can read about the job they might have to do sometime in the future, but without having ever done it or watched someone else doing it, they wallow around in the darkness hoping something goes right. Yes, it might not be fire, but it is needed. From someone who was damn glad to see the Green Army arrive and improve the food quality 1000% over night, please understand that your skills are needed on a level you might not comprehend.

Firefish of the South

5/22 For EMT Micah

you might contact FLASH---Federal Alliance for Safe Homes
try sending an email to: phillip@flash.org

you can tell him the contact came from someone he talked to at the IAFC conference in Phoenix.

good luck,


5/22 Can anyone help me with getting into the A.D. system?


Former Fed Firefighter
5/22 TO : nwcg@nifc.gov
FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 05/16/2006
SUBJECT : SAFETY ADVISORY : New Wildland Fire Safety Initiatives

This spring two important safety initiatives were introduced to the
Wildland Fire community.

The first initiative is sponsored jointly by the Wildland Fire Lessons
Learned Center, the Safety and Health Working Team, and the Federal Fire
and Aviation Safety Team. The project is a database firefighters can query
to find historical documents from wildland fire incidents, and it serves as
the interagency repository of factual investigation reports and analysis.
The available documents include 24 and 48 hour reports, factual accident
investigation reports, and escaped prescribed fire reviews. This
initiative can be found through the following link:


The second initiative, sponsored by the Federal Fire and Aviation Safety
Team, is a program created to provide the interagency wildland fire
community a comprehensive, easy-to-follow fitness program. The objective
of this program is to improve firefighter health and safety, and to reduce
line injuries. It provides a basic format for a well balanced fitness
program that can be augmented as local units see fit. This initiative can
be found through the following link:


The NWCG Safety and Health Working Team encourages every fire organization
to investigate these initiatives and consider using them within their programs.

5/22 Ab,

Attached is the link for the California OSFM Fire Hazard Zoning Guide.
It's downloadable in PDF format.

Hope it helps, EMT_Micah.



5/22 Avian Influenza Bulletin #2:

Does it make any sense to use Fire teams to manage a bird flu pandemic outbreak in a city out of Region or even a large city in your Region? From what I can understand of what might happen in pandemic, it will require a law enforcement and medical response situation. I have no or little training in either of those areas. It makes much more sense for me to stay in my community and to help out here.

The powers that be suggest the response will be local, but then there's that jargon in the most recent Avian Influenza Bulletin that suggests otherwise:

"The USDA plan provides guidance and checklists on USDA’s primary concerns of providing for employee safety and health and continuing essential USDA functions and services during an outbreak of influenza. The plan identifies the Forest Service as a USDA support agency for 11 ESFs ranging from ESF 1 (transportation) to ESF 13 (public safety and security). Also included is ESF 8 (public health and medical service)."

We are not trained or equipped to deal with highly contagious dying and dead people or even people who are possibly bring back infection from contagious people. I might choose to risk my life for my community, certainly for my family, but I'd have to think long and hard about going to help with a medical response or quarantine of a New York City, a Los Angeles or a New Orleans. At Cerro Grande we weren't told about possible radiation exposure. If everything is chaos in a pandemic, do you think anyone would be concerned about getting the straight scoop and getting it to us so we could protect ourselves from what is likely to be a killer virus?

Thanks Ab for the forum.

NorCal Tom

5/22 KC,

You said

  1. "Van was never told he was under criminal investigation.
  2. He was told that if he did not confess, they would consider that as against him (in other words, his job was at stake if he remained silent).
  3. His own words were not recorded. The "confession" consists of the agent's summary."

Is this true??? Is this legal in America??? Does the Forest Service not know that anyone who is accused has a right to not incriminate them-self???!!! Do you have any documents that could help us get the truth, or can you point us to some source, or are they all tied up by lawyers? Who did the questioning? How many were there? Do you know how long the "confession" took to extract? Was Van intimidated or coerced? Was none of the interview recorded?

This makes me quite anxious. Government employee and an American Citizen in this strange new age of homeland security...

It also makes mw wonder what else I don't know. Beyond this one instance, what are the implications in the case of fire investigations we might face??? Does the Forest Service not know enough about the legal process to do it right??? Do I need to lawyer up on every situation where my supervisor calls me in? (I know and like my supervisor. Did Van know and like his? Who do we trust?)

Tahoe Terrie

Ab, do I need to start using my initials TT???

I think yer OK Terrie. Trust me on that... Any chance you can make it down to Ken's run and hang out with members of our community? Get a hug or two? Cheer him on? Ab.

5/22 concerned and 6

Most agencies have established a 12 month currency for the annual refresher. So if you went through an annual refresher on 6/05, and your agency has, as policy, adopted a 12 month currency for annual refresher you wouldn't need the annual refresher until 6/06.

I'm not saying it's a good thing or bad thing. Just letting you know what some of the agencies have adopted for annual refresher currency.


5/22 Need some info for a County Planning Board:

Hey Abs,

After my 16 months away from work , thanks to my tour in Iraq with the National Guard, I am back at work and in need of a little help.

The local fire departments will be meeting with the local county Planning Board in regards to potential new standards for subdivisions and other new development in order to meet fire protection requirements. I'd like to arm these guys with some good info on community planning for fire prone areas like ours.

I have searched through the FireWise website, but only found information as it directly relates to homeowners and builders. Does anyone have an example or good source of info for county planners? A sample set of ordinances, or general guidelines would be great.

About half the departments in the county are wildland fire smart thanks to our great working relationship here, so they're not going into this blind and dumb. I just want them to carry bigger bullets. (No pun intended, well okay maybe it was.)


Welcome back. Glad you're safe and sound. Ab.

5/22 Ab -

Here's some more information on Avian Flu, in case you don't have this site. As I understand it, USGS has the federal lead in monitoring wildlife populations for disease and epidemics, etc. There is an announcement about monitoring of Alaska populations as well linked from this site-


Be safe out there-

5/22 Hi Ab and All,

I note your comment about Van Bateman in 5/4 posting regarding his "confession." You may be interested to know that a hearing to suppress that "confession" will take place in Prescott, AZ on Wednesday, May 25. The circumstances of the "confession" are not confidence-inducing. 1. He was never told he was under criminal investigation. 2. He was told that if he did not confess, they would consider that as against him (in other words, his job was at stake if he remained silent). 3. His own words were not recorded. The "confession" consists of the agent's summary.

There is a good chance the "confession" will be thrown out. We'll see the arguments on Wednesday.


5/22 Here is another news story about reductions in fire staffing. It is interesting to see the comments from an ex-Forest Supervisor who retired on December 31st. The ex-Forest Supervisor is countering agency claims that reductions in preparedness will not result in increased risk to the public and firefighters.

Area fire services to be cut
National forest losing crews as season nears


From the article (Bold is mine. Ab.):

San Bernardino National Forest's former supervisor, Gene Zimmerman, warned the cutbacks will place mountain residents and their homes at greater risk.

"There are still millions of dead trees in this forest," said Zimmerman, who retired in January. "Most of the communities are hilltop, with one way in and one way out. Fire burns uphill, and it's a fire-prone forest with millions of tons of fuel ready to burn. This is not the forest to cut funding on." Zimmerman's successor, Jeanne Wade Evans, said forest officials will still have access to emergency funding for staff increases when the need arises. The most volatile part of fire season in Southern California comes later in the year with the Santa Ana winds, which can howl steadily at more than 100 mph.

"We feel comfortable with our staffing," Evans said Monday. "We will always have the ability to staff up in hazardous conditions. As a national agency, we're flexible and able to move resources around."

Zimmerman dismissed optimistic portrayals of the cuts.

"They can say what they want about moving resources, but they won't be here in initial attack," Zimmerman said. "We need the resources here before the fires start. Computer modeling showed 25 engines on standby seven days a week is the most efficient level of preparedness. Now we're going back to 15. This says we didn't learn very much in the fall of '03."

Gerald Newcombe, former San Bernardino fire chief during the 1980 Panorama Fire and current president of the Arrowhead Communities Fire Safe Council, joined Zimmerman's critique of the cutbacks.

"I understand money's tight and they need to save funds, but any reduction will have a negative effect on initial attack," Newcombe said Monday. "You're not going to have as many people ready to fight fires. If the county is staffing up, it seems like the Forest Service should do the same.

"Our fire problem is still extreme," Newcombe said. "Initial attack is critical. Even in the areas that burned in 2003, we still have serious problems. We have all these flashy fuels that pose a threat to lives and property."

5/21 Concerned,

In January of this year I received a fire assignment to go to Texas. I had not been to a 2006 refresher or taken a 2006 pack test. Was I wrong in accepting the assignment? Was my boss wrong in letting me go? Was the dispatch system broken because I was able to be made available in ROSS?

Should there be magic date be for saying that your refresher, pack test, etc. are expired? January 1st? How should we then respond to fire situations like Texas?

It sounds like you have some specific issue(s) that are bothering you, but some level of flexibility is built into the system for a reason, Texas being a good example. I support that flexibility, along with accountability. If that flexibility is being abused, then you should consider taking some type of action, such as filing a Safenet.


p.s. When I got to Texas I gave them my 2005 Red Card, and they were fine with it.
Notes on from House 2007 Interior Appropriations
  • Committee expressed concerned with Fire Program Analysis.  Bill language in Title IV limits funding for FPA until Sec of Ag. and Int. certify in writing that FPA will be completed in a timely fashion and include full state participation. 
  • Bill language also prohibits any competitive sourcing studies on any Wildland Fire functions. 
  • Bill language continues which directs the agency to charge suppression for cost pools.   
  • Hazardous fuels includes a $5 million increase for the San Bernardino NF, and includes language asking for better coordination with DOI on allocation methodologies and program metrics beyond acres treated.
    FY 2007     Variance  Variance
  FY 2006 after R & T President's FY 2007   From From 
  Enacted Budget House Mark   2007 Request 2006 Enacted
Discretionary Appropriations            
          0 0
Wildland Fire Management         0 0
Preparedness $660,705 $655,887 $655,887   $0 -$4,818
          0 0
Fire Operations - Suppression         0 0
Regular Appropriations $690,186 $746,176 $741,477   -$4,699 $51,291
          0 0
Fire Operations - Other         0 0
Hazardous Fuels $280,119 $291,792 $296,792   $5,000 $16,673
Rehab & Restoration $6,189 $1,980 $5,000   $3,020 -$1,189
Fire Research & Development $22,789 $20,121 $22,800   $2,679 $11
Joint Fire Sciences Program $7,882 $3,960 $8,000   $4,040 $118
NFP Forest Health - Fed Lands $14,779 $6,802 $14,800   $7,998 $21
NFP Forest Health - Coop Lands $9,853 $4,552 $10,000   $5,448 $147
NFP State Fire Assistance $45,816 $29,115 $43,000   $13,885 -$2,816
NFP Volunteer Fire Assistance $7,773 $7,810 $12,810   $5,000 $5,037
Total, Fire Ops - Other $395,200 $366,132 $413,202   $47,070 $18,002
5/21 Son just got his first call with the Bonneville Hotshots. Would like to be
part of the "Family Speaks" if it is ever used by others.


Welcome, Dave. Familysaid is quiet at the moment. It might pick up as the season develops. Post here, if you like. I'm sure you've seen this website: Bonneville Hotshots  Ab.

5/21 Terms I Remember:

How about this term- "'zaklies" When you've been spiked out a while and
your mouth smells zaklie like your feet (or butt)...

I remember being the only firegirl in fire camp, not a bad thing until you
need a shower.


I added it: Funny wildland firefighter terms...

BG, wasn't ex-zaklie the same for me. I was always sweet smelling... Ab.

5/21 Nerd on the Fireline,

You must be right. Who in their right mind would drive a car at fatal speed toward oncoming traffic intending to miss them by a few feet because someone painted a stripe on the ground. Sounds negligent to me. I guess that without mental shortcuts - rules of thumb, we would be too busy analyzing everything to even drive in traffic. The resulting "inverse fallacy" in our hypothetical would be:

The probability that someone negligently selected the escape route, given that the firefighter was injured, is equal to the probability that the firefighter would be injured if someone negligently selected an escape route.

The actual statistical probability that the escape route was negligently selected calculates to less than 10%, but most people would conclude it was 90%, applying their rules of thumb - a result of the inverse fallacy our mind often succumbs to. Add the hindsight bias, knowledge of the outcome, and how could the burnover be the result of anything other than someone's negligence?

Old Sawyer.
5/20 Old Sawyer;

What a fascinating piece of data...I'm still processing it, but let me try to restate your hypothesis. As I understand it, the judges are presented with two alternative scenarios:

  • an unusually fast moving fire, or
  • negligent choice of escape route.

Statistically, the probability of the fire being fast moving was not examined. There is a low probability that the escape route was negligently chosen (0.1%), but, in event that the escape route was negligently chosen, there is a high probability that the negligent choice of escape route would lead to a burn over. So, using a standard risk matrix, a negligent choice of escape route represents a low-probability, high consequence event. Your numbers also indicated that if the escape route had been safely selected, there is only a 1% chance of a burnover occurring, even in the event of an unusually fast moving fire.

I think your analysis of the statistics was a hair optimistic; what I see in your numbers is that an equal number of judges decided that there was a high probability that the escape route was negligently chosen as decided that there was a low probability that the escape route was negligently chosen. Part of me looks at that and decides that just 'cuz a judge may have graduated from law school doesn't mean he can do math.

The other part of me isn't so sure, and I think that's where the heuristics come in. A heuristic is a comfortable simplification of reality; we say, and think, "the sun rises" or "the moon shines" when the sun doesn't rise, the earth rotates to meet it, and the moon doesn't shine, it reflects. Now picture that poor judge; he knows nothing about fire, and the first thing he learns about fire is from the deluge of paperwork that a negligence case lands on his, or his clerk's, desk. He sees SOPs and training standards and all the liability-limiting paperwork that has been churned out over the years to demonstrate that the risks of firefighting are reasonable and controllable.

Compare this to a negligence case involving a car accident; anyone who has driven knows that there are controllable and uncontrollable variables involved, and we all know the consequences of operating a vehicle include death. But we casually assume that risks because we're used to them, we feel some degree of control over the process, and familiarity breeds contempt.

In a fire situation, many of the same factors are there; there are controllable and uncontrollable factors, there are risks which can mitigated, control which is either personally assumed or ceded to someone else. From a groundpounder's perspective, we casually cede some degree of control over our safety on the fireline all the time; to the IC, to a DIVS or crewboss, to a lookout or a crewmate. We assume, based on experience and on the mounds of paperwork we deal with even on the lowest levels, that everyone to whom we cede some degree of control over our safety to is trained, experienced, capable and competent.

The judge sees all that paperwork; he sees taskbooks and training documentation and SOPs, and under our legal system, he reverts to the reasonable man hypothesis: would a reasonable man, given the training demonstrated by these SOPs and taskbooks and documentation, have done as this defendant did? The statistics say that the choice of escape route was unlikely to have been negligent, but the judge sees this mound of paperwork which says that a reasonable man, given this mass of training, must have had the ability to nearly eliminate the risks associated with burnover. If the risks associated with burnover were not eliminated (aka, if burnover occurred), then negligence must have occurred.

It's an ugly little paradox; we tend to assume that if the system works, we can fight fire safely. If someone gets hurt, the system must have broken down. The system is made up of people, so if the system breaks down, it must be the result of negligence. If variables arise which were not foreseen by the system, then that too must be the result of negligence, because we have all this paperwork and institutional culture which says that we can identify and mitigate all possible fireline hazards to such a degree that we can fight fire safely if the system works. In effect, the more we believe that fireline safety is possible, the more training we get and the more paperwork we generate that says that a safe fireline is the norm, the more we paint ourselves into a corner.

I've heard it said that on any realistically complex incident, the volume of paperwork demanded by the letter of the SOPs is effectively impossible to keep up with; therefore, with the SOPs as proxy for the 'reasonable man', someone is negligent on every complex incident.

Nerd on the Fireline

5/20 Anyone hear the results of the GS8 Engine Captain review?

I heard it was supposed to be out, then I heard later, now it's May 21.
Funny how they like to release information on the weekend. What's with
that??? I guess they're waiting for the lists to expire... then it will be
another 180 days...

If the forests burn this summer and take interface communities along with
them, it will be very clear who to blame.

Tahoe Terrie

5/19 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
5/19 This example of cognitive bias  should startle you. (Cognitive bias is a bias toward thinking in a certain way; human factors, automatic mental processing that we're not even aware of...)

The Representativeness Heuristic (heuristic is a rule of thumb or cognitive shortcut) affects categorical judgment-making when the evidence being considered is representative of the category - such as a shifty nervous criminal defendant versus a criminal defendant who appears to be at ease, as described in the article “Inside the Judicial Mind”.

Don’t we categorize in our mind that if we do everything right, firefighters won’t get burned over? But there are non-negligent causes - mechanical failure on the Point Fire, a microburst on the Merritt Island Fire, panicked judgment failure by the victim on the Buchanan RX.

This heuristic impacts decision making by over-reliance on representativeness evidence and under-reliance on hard evidence such as statistical evidence. This can lead to “inverse fallacy”, which “. . . refers to the tendency to treat the probability of a hypothesis given the evidence (for example, the probability that a defendant was negligent given that the plaintiff was injured) as the same as, or close to, the probability of the evidence given the hypothesis (for example, the probability that the plaintiff would be injured if the defendant were negligent).”

The following is the text from a test of the inverse fallacy on Federal Court judges in the above article - I only changed the accident description to a fire situation, not the numbers:

The firefighter was working near an escape route when he was cut off and burned over, resulting in severe injuries. The incident members are not sure how the burnover happened, but they agree that either the escape route was negligently selected or the fire run was extraordinarily fast-moving. Government safety inspectors conducted an investigation and determined that in firefighting
  1. when escape routes are negligently selected, there is a 90% chance that they will fail to provide adequate escape time
  2. when escape routes are safely selected, they fail to provide a safe route only 1% of the time;
  3. firefighters negligently select escape routes only 1 in 1,000 times.

The materials then asked: "Given these facts, how likely is it that the burnover was due to the negligent selection of the escape route" ?

The materials provided the judges with one of four probability ranges to select:

  • 0-25%,
  • 26-50%,
  • 51-75%, or
  • 76-100%.

When presented with a problem like this one, most people commit the inverse fallacy and assume the likelihood that the escape route was negligently selected is 90%, or at least a high percentage. [FN146] . . . In fact, however, the actual probability that the escape route was negligently selected is only 8.3%.

Of the 159 judges who responded to the question, [FN148]

  • 40.9% selected the right answer by choosing 0-25%;
  • 8.8% indicated 26-50%;
  • 10.1% indicated 51- 75%; and
  • 40.3% indicated 76-100%.

Overall, the judges did well; more than 40% of them got the correct answer to a difficult question in a short period of time. Those judges who did not get the correct answer, however, exhibited a significant tendency to choose the highest range. [FN149] Although we did not inquire into the reasoning process that led these judges to their answers, the number of judges who chose the highest range suggests that many committed the inverse fallacy. In fact, roughly as many judges gave the right answer as gave the answer suggested by the inverse fallacy.

Old Sawyer

5/19 News story on staffing reduction SB. I assume other R5 forests may be
similarly affected.


Old Fire Guy
5/18 See nothing on the fact that Ray Q will be leaving at the end of the month, end of the
Q-continuum in this region.

Seldom Seen

We announced his retirement as soon as he announced it on the conference call. For those who don't know, Ray Quintanar is the Chief of R5 Fire and he's retiring on May 31.

How about people send in Q-man stories??? Interesting, funny, telling secrets, visionary, inspirational, Ray's quotable quotes... Nothing mean, please...

Ray has been an amazing force in Fire, both in R5 and beyond. He's helped create and identify good changes that had their origins in R5 and has facilitated getting them pushed upstream.

Send in your stories, your quotes, your comments, the scuttlebutt. Don't want to write, but you'll tell it??? Maybe I can arrange for you to tell your story to someone who can write it up for you. It would be great to have some of the stories told...

Embarrassing pics of Ray, anyone? Fun pics, groundpounding  pics? That's a whole 'nother opportunity...

Haw haw. This could be good if anyone is interested... Ab.

5/18 Ab,

Attached is Avian Influenza Bulletin #2 (pdf file). Thought everyone might like to review it.

Put it this way... you might not like to, but you'd better...

NorCal Tom

Thanks, everyone. Man, that was a deluge of incoming... Ab.

5/18 Has anybody seen the Safenet page lately? I have read some crazy
situations that I did not see any corrective actions taken like a
pack-test with people who got over 45 min. and still passed and others that
made me say dam.


Signed concerned Fuels Monkey
5/18 Dear Ab,

Our Second Annual Family Day is approaching -- it's this weekend. Firecamp is becoming real. Kids and parents are excited. So are we. Families are already en route. Many come from great distances. For example, Roger Roth's family is coming 1100 miles. We're already hugging them all in our thoughts for a safe journey.

It is moving to see all the volunteers that have come forward to provide a real live Firecamp for our family of fallen firefighters. The energy, anticipation, and reality is building with every prop and tent that goes up and with each campfire prepared.

Jack Wilson from NIFC who is 87 will be our key speaker on Sunday morning. We're lucky to have his wisdom and sense of history, one of the esteemed elders of Fire.

I want to share with our community the agenda and also a special reading that will be read as 100 dove are released on Sunday, at the monument. I know it is not possible for all of you to attend. We wish you could... We want to share as much as we can with you. You all make this possible. Thank you!

WFF Family Day 2006

Saturday, May 20

7:30 a.m. Check In and Breakfast
9:00 a.m. Welcome and Briefing
11:30 a.m. Sack Lunch
12:45 p.m. Trip to Helibase
3 p.m. Individual Sessions
- Moms
- Dads
- Spouses
- Co-Workers
- Siblings / Family Members
5:30 p.m. Dinner
8 p.m. Campfire

Sunday, May 21

8 a.m. Continental Breakfast at WFF
9 a.m. Program at WFF
10:30 a.m.
Monument Ceremony
11 a.m. Smokejumper Base Tours
1 p.m. Closing

Here's what will be shared as the doves are released:

Wildland Firefighter Foundation Memorial
May 21, 2006

From the past, to the present and into eternity,
white doves have been and forever shall be a beautiful symbol of hope, love, peace and
the soul. At this gathering to cherish the precious memories shared here with our loved ones, we will
release a flock of snow white doves in a symbolic tribute to their
cherished memories, for we know that they will forever
live on within our hearts.

If you will, please join us in a simple tribute and acknowledgement.
As the doves ascend into the sky and soar far above the clouds,
reflect on how your special loved one
lit up your life here on earth
with their gifts -- gifts freely shared with all of us -- shared simply in how they lived. Maybe
you'll recall their laughter, their personal glance, their smile, the smell of their dirty smoky fire shirt,
their thoughtfulness, whatever their essential special gifts were. Send to your loved one the
invoked by your sweetest memories, your thoughts in celebration of their life,
your prayers, your love and your thankfulness that they
graced the earth and your life with their unique and special

Legend holds that if you whisper to a dove, she will carry your message
up to the heavens with her upon white wings.
Send your message.
The light and love they shared are still here within and around us.
Let them know.

It is our wish that you will forever know the love, the peace, and the hope
embodied by the doves. Whenever you see a white dove,
may you be reminded of this moment, and the very special people
we remember with great honor and affection on this day.
We hold their love within our hearts.
Their light enriches each of us.

What I would ask of our community is that you take some time to send your good thoughts, blessings, positive energy, love, and/or prayers -- whatever is your way -- on Saturday and Sunday to this very special event. Please Join Us.

Vicki Minor

The Dove Story poetry from WFF for printing and sharing.

I'm printing mine out now and putting it on my desk as a reminder to tune in on Saturday and Sunday. I'll be there in spirit. Wish I could be there to see, feel, smell, hear the laughter and sharing and enjoy interacting with our fire families. Have fun Vicki.

Thank you and thanks to those great supporters and volunteers, the boots on the ground. Ab.

5/18 Concerned,

I do hear you loud and clear and I agree 100%, however if the Individuals, Departments, or Contractors doing this are in IQCS it will not let them stay available! I am sure there are loopholes here and there but as a contracting officer I have shut them down more than once for trying to cheat!

Have a safe season.....


I was blown away reading your post on here I do believe that there was a salsa commercial a few years back that would describe my thoughts for his comments, "GET A ROPE!" Just in case you don't hear this enough THANK YOU for all that you do for US forestry tech's! If we can ever get individuals like M.R. Out of office or to understand that give us 2 mins behind a closed door, we might be officially titled as FIREFIGHTERS!


I feel your anger Bro! However saying that your DIVS and FFMO, and even the Ranger don't care to even give you the time of day, you might remind them in subtle ways that after an investigation they're gonna be in the un-employment long before a SFEO! I have a 5 day effective mod with 2 ENGB and 4 qualified ENOPs, but money keeps me from 7 day coverage! Lame if you ask me! Anyway I think it's time to tell the papers about these 200K fire engines sitting 2 days a week cause are funding was cut! Besides can you tell me which 2 days those fires are going to start? I don't think Mark Rey can either!

Listen to Casey Judd bro cause the man knows what's up!!


5/18 Well Concerned I have had my Refresher Training done in March and
Equipment USFS Inspected in April. We still had snow on the ground around
that time to. Right now my Type II Tender is full of water, stocked with
5 day supply of food, 14 day change of Nomex, 3 Water Pumps, 600 ft 1.5"
hose, 600 ft of 1" hose, 50 ft of 2,5" hose, 32 ft of 3" draft hose and
all required fittings, nozzles required by the USFS.

It has been DOT Inspected, Draft and Pressure Tested along with meeting
the Flow Requirement. I have ran several tanks of water thru my system
and drafted from different locations for practice. The Pumps and Tender
are started at least once a week and checked for problems. Yes I am
ready, let the fire season begin.

Region 6 Tender

5/18 McClain,

Glad to see another alaskan. I worked out of Palmer with Crowley in 1997,
and with Whithee in 1999 at the warehouse. Former explorer with AFD 95-97.
Tell Cpt Keene, and Drowdowski that Horton said hi.

3150 Engineer
5/18 Concerned-

I get a sense that you are having issues with your own organization. If you are concerned about Duty, Respect and Integrity, maybe you should focus on voicing your concerns at your local unit. I am a BLM employee and I will tell you that Yes, my crews are responding to fires, getting projects done AND getting the required yearly refresher training. As far as your comment about giving the firefighters the right to go through training, they are REQUIRED that they attend annual training. By the way, we are also managing to fit in other fire training courses also. Its called Time Management!

Good Luck and be safe this season.


5/17 Resources are starting to come aboard all around the nation. Everyone has the mandatory refresher training they must attend to get their red cards.

Is this being done?

Or are crews and engines responding to fires when they should be in training.

Are fire managers forcing personnel to get projects done?

I wonder if leaders in charge around the nation, are telling their folks to go ahead and respond with the rationale that the red cards are still good from last year, even if they've been sitting all winter, out of shape or not seen any fire to speak of.

If this you, you are providing a disservice to your agency, your fire fighters and the public. Plus you could be putting your people in danger.

Shame on you!

Please give your/our fire fighters the right to go through the refresher training and be ready to fight fire this summer.

Duty - Respect - Integrity

Signed: Concerned
5/17 Dear Scared:

Have you read anything the FWFSA has posted here recently about what's going on to create the problems you are facing? I wouldn't be scared...I'd be mad as hell!

Most FMOs & Divisions are being unduly burdened with trying to solve complex, convoluted problems created by the Agency (primarily Forest Service) and the USDA as a result of their use of fire preparedness funds for non fire projects and not allowing Forests to run deficits this year as in the past.

Thus, I can only surmise that those "shining you on" are simply trying to figure out how to comply with Agency directives to be at 97% MEL when millions of dollars, which should have gone to these Forests, are going to all sorts of non-fire projects.

Keep in mind Rangers and other line officers are expected to "tow the company line" by the WO. If they speak up, the wrath of Mark Rey will descend upon them and likely send them up to the Modoc to live out their career in relative isolation!!!

Fortunately, many of those same Division Chiefs & FMOs, and dozens of engine captains like yourself in all regions are members of the FWFSA which harnesses those voices fed up with the status quo and tackles these tough issues directly with congress to improve pay, benefits & working conditions.

Don't get frustrated with your fire officers...join the FWFSA and put your voice to work. We will prevail...Its just unfortunate those in the leadership of the land-management agencies consider our federal wildland firefighters less deserving of other firefighters across the country. Please visit our web site at www.fwfsa.org  or phone me directly at 208-775-4577.

To: Former Fed, now red,

Please send a thank you note via fax to:

Mr. Mark Rey
Undersecretary of Agriculture
Natural Resources & the Environment
FAX: 202-720-0632

and thank him for maintaining the archaic pay & personnel policies that make you and others so willing to jump the fence. I'm sure he'd be delighted to have at least one firefighter friend.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
5/17 Might be a early Fire Season for Upper Central Washington Region 6 Area
this year. 10 hour fuel moistures down to 2% with humidity at 15% and in
the 90+ degree temps! This has been going on for a while with no rain and
more to come.

Right now rivers are flooding due to the mountain forest snow pack
melting early. There are record high temperatures for our area and will
affect the dead ladder fuel moisture on the forest floors. We already
see dry grass in the valleys and it won't be long at this rate for the higher
areas to dry out! So get ready for a early Fire Season this year; this is
my prediction.

Region 6 Tender

5/17 From Firescribe:

If you are an IC Type 3 or qualified to take such assignments, the Associated Press out of Billings Montana wants to hear from you.

AP writer Becky Bohrer is working on a story about the liability issue as it relates to post Cramer/Thirty Mile.

If anyone is interested in speaking to her and sharing your thoughts, she can be reached at:

(406) 896-1528

5/17 The Evergreen Airlines 747 "Supertanker" web site is updated as of May 17th,
with new demo drop sites and dates.



5/17 Hey everyone,

It appears that CDF has come to an agreement with the State of California that reduces the workweek for seasonal firefighters to 72 hours (as opposed to the current 96 hour workweek). They will also be paid 1.5 time for hours worked over 53 in a week. This results in 19 hours a week of guaranteed OT, which results in a substantial pay raise.

By my math that means a Fire Fighter I (seasonal) with minimal overtime beyond their normal shift will easily make $50,000/yr.

They will also have to hire several hundred more firefighters to to accommodate the shorter workweek.

Sign Me,

Former Fed, Now Happily Red
5/17 I just wanted to add a little personal info on AD rates.

I work part time as a seasonal state employee in the southwest, and I am paid using the AD rate plans. I benefit from the increases gained through this, and am NOT retired USFS, but merely working a “side job” so to speak in the summer. Any effort to increase these rates is a benefit to me and the crew members that work on our engine.

5/17 Hey all

I'm having a problem on my District/Forest and I need some advice. I'm currently an Engine Captain in R5, and I was told this year due to the budget that I was going to be cut to five crew members. I currently have four crew members on my engine and I need a fifth and I've been told for the last month that I can't hire yet. The thing that bothers me most is they keep telling me this is budget driven but other districts are being allowed to hire people so they can be seven day effective. Now the bad thing is I can't take my engine off forest because we don't have five crew members on the engine and I can't borrow someone from another engine because, well, they only have four crew members also. So tell me is this a problem thats happening across the Region or is just an isolated case and what should I do. I can't go to my Division because he keeps shining me on, the Forest FMO won't give us any answers and the ranger doesn't care.

signed: I'm scared about this season
5/17 Hey Ab,

My name is Scott McClain. I am a firefighter with the
Anchorage Fire Dept. in Alaska 2001 - present. Alaska
State Division of Forestry Palmer Ak, 96-01.
HEMG Anchorage Helitack

I also just read a note (last Oct.) from a guy named Chris
who was looking for DAN SIDES.... I personally know
Dan and in fact worked as a medic on the movie shoot
that he was talking about. You can give him my E mail
and I will get the info to him.


Hi Scott, welcome to the fray. I don't think I have that contact info anymore. If the person who wanted it could write in again, I'll put you two in touch. Ab.

5/16 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
5/16 For any co-operators or agencies still looking for employees, we at wildlandfire.com just received this nice email from John at Red Truck Wildfire, "Would you please pull my ad, I have filled all the positions and am still getting a bunch of calls. Great place to advertise!"

Call Steve at 530-846-2680 for job advertising details. Mornings between 0600-1000 PDT are best.
5/16 Hello Community!

After sending out more than 60 Ken’s Run media packets (thank you John Scott for all your work on the DVD!) we are starting to get some interest from the public (visit this link www.dailynews.com/search/ci_3823152 for a news article about Ken). Those 60 media outlets included some “celebrity” shows: Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman, and Oprah. If anyone has a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-cousin that might have a connection to any media/news folks, please let me know! I’d be glad to send our Ken’s Run DVD and Ken’s Run information sheets.

We will continue to do everything in our power to support Ken and get pledges. When we first came up with the goal of $250,000 – I had more than one person convince me that this goal was definitely do-able. I hope we haven’t added too much pressure to Ken. I encourage you to get the word out to anyone and everyone, and let me know how I can help and who I should be approaching.

Thank you to those who have already stepped up and pledged. Your support means more than you will ever know. As we get ready to host our families for our second annual “Family Day” event, we are reminded, so very clearly, why we work at the Foundation, why the Foundation is here, and how we can continue to honor and recognize wildland firefighters.

Be safe this season!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
5/16 To All Federal Wildland Firefighters:

Members of the FWFSA will receive a more detailed report on my trip to Washington DC last week via their FWFSA e-mail accounts in the next day or so but I thought it important to provide a synopsis of my meeting with Mark Rey, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources & the Environment on this site.

I met with Mr. Rey last Tuesday, May 9th. While I did not hold out hope for a very "warm & fuzzy" meeting, it was clear from his entrance into the conference room that his intent for giving me time to see him was so that he could try to intimidate me, eviscerate me, slice & dice me, chew me up & spit me out and watch me cower away with my tail between my legs.


I was extremely disappointed to discover just how much disdain & contempt he has for federal wildland firefighters and those who are trying to improve things for them. His commentary illustrated a person who considers our firefighters to be lower class employees undeserving of any rights, let alone an improvement of pay & benefits.

He initially accused me and the FWFSA of stepping on the rights of certain unions in that we were "representing" employees on pay & hours. I had to remind him that no federal employee union has the luxury of negotiating pay & hours for those they represent and that the only way to change such things is through the legislative process which is what the FWFSA does.

He "took offense" of our categorizing the diversion of fire preparedness funds as just that, a "diversion", "misuse" , "siphoning", "stealing" etc. I told him he could call it whatever he wants but the fact is that the FS was not getting all preparedness funding appropriated by congress down to the forests where it is needed and instead using sizeable amounts for non-fire projects.

He denied knowing anything about the impact on the forests, staffing, etc., that such "diversion" of funds has produced in the West. He indicated he hadn't heard from any Forest Supervisor about problems to which I replied that his demeanor and personality likely would dissuade any subordinate in his chain of command from speaking out.

I questioned him on reducing allocations to preparedness & increasing suppression...A direct contradiction to the intent of the National Fire Plan. His response: None

I informed him that during recent congressional testimony, he referred to employees as "firefighters" 132 times and asked him what he was doing personally to properly classify them as such. His response: None

I asked him what he was personally doing to stem the tide of recruitment & retention problems. His response: He was all for employees leaving the federal fire service for better paying jobs in other fire agencies because likely at some point, we'd see them again on a fire and be able to use their experience. I suggested that if that were to happen, the only difference between those firefighters being federal employees and then becoming state or municipal firefighters is that taxpayers would now be paying 5 times more for their "experience."

He is adamantly opposed to portal to portal pay. In fact, I truly believe he feels federal wildland firefighters are a drain on his ability to manipulate even more money. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Rey is no friend to federal wildland firefighters and has no interest in doing anything for them.

That being said, fortunately congress has a different impression of federal wildland firefighters. Some members of congress who have some semblance of a decent rapport with Mr. Rey, do not agree with his position on firefighters and agree with the FWFSA that changes are needed.

Some in congress demonstrated the same disdain for Mr. Rey that he showed towards our firefighters. Everyone I met with, whether it was staff or a member of the House or Senate agreed that changes need to be made. The FS's policies of reducing preparedness and increasing suppression budgets is at odds with the National Fire Plan & stand to continue to waste huge sums of tax dollars.

The FS would rather expend more money to increase the number of people closing the proverbial "barn door" after the horse gets out rather than expending sufficient funds to close the barn door before the horse gets out. With decision-makers like that, it is a wonder the Forest Service functions at all. 

Progress is being made however on the House & Senate side with respect to portal to portal and other issues. Additional House cosponsors were added while I was there and staff from Senate offices are inching closer to a companion bill and calling for hearings to allow the FWFSA to go toe to toe with the USDA & FS on the issues rather than allowing only the Agency via Mr. Rey & Chief Bosworth to report to Congress on how things are going. Most offices agreed it was time to hear from folks in the field.

Again, FWFSA members will receive a more detailed email in the next day or two but I wanted to let folks out there know just what kind of leadership in the USDA & FS they are dealing with.

PS. Some Positive news: I did learn that a congressional proposal is being prepared to reject any use of appropriated funds to enter into A-76 or other studies with respect to fire positions. The proposal has yet to go to OMB but the sense of congress is that enough studies have been done at huge taxpayer expense without demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of contracting out fire positions.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

Thanks, Casey. Ab.

5/15 As the kids and I get ready to head up to Boise I would like to thank everyone on this forum and in the community who have supported the Wildland Firefighters Foundation and made the upcoming Family Weekend possible. After John's death, the kids and I went to counseling and had lots of support from friends. This has helped us cope over the last year but we still have a void that hasn't been filled. Being able to get together with families who have actually experienced what we have gone through and know exactly how we are feeling, to be able to share our feelings and stories will be a priceless experience that I know will help with that void.

I would like to encourage everyone to support the foundation by either joining the 52 Club or pledging some money to Ken's Run. Don't limit it to yourself - tell friends, coworkers, even strangers. What the foundation is doing for our families and families that will be affected by tragedy in the future is something to be treasured.

Thanks again

Lori Greeno
5/15 Ab

Big fire drill started today in Ramona. (As you likely know.) I got home about 1430 and put scanner on. Many of the units being released were telling OPS "thanks for the good training"; "enjoyed it"; or words to that effect. Sounds like this kind of thing works.

I have been invited to go look on, by a friend on the staff. May take him up on it tomorrow or Wednesday.

5/15 Ab, I just wanted to send this information in regarding an emerging hazard for wildland firefighters. While some people may interpret my links and information as a "California thing", be assured it is an emerging hazard for all wildland firefighters. There have been 782 deaths in the United States since 1999 from West Nile Virus. It's important for firefighters to know there's a risk that can be mitigated.


West Nile Virus Information for Wildland Firefighters

Prevention Measures and Resources: http://westnile.ca.gov/prevention.php

> From the California West Nile Virus Website

What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that is common in Africa, west Asia, the Middle East, and more recently, North America. Human infection with WNV may result in serious illness. Experts believe WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall.

When was WNV first found in the United States? West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in New York in 1999. Since then, WNV has spread to 48 states, and to Canada and Mexico. Last year there were 2,448 human cases of WNV detected in the United States, including 84 deaths. This is much lower than in 2003 when there were more than 10,000 human cases of WNV detected, including 262 deaths.

When was WNV first found in California?
WNV first appeared in California in 2002 with the identification of one human case. In 2003, three human cases occurred in California and WNV activity was detected in six southern California counties. By 2004, WNV activity was observed in all 58 counties in California and 830 human infections were identified. Click Here for a summary of West Nile Virus in California in 2004.

How is WNV detected and monitored in California?
California is well prepared to detect, monitor, and respond to WNV through ongoing collaboration between over 100 public agencies. The California surveillance system includes human and horse case detection and testing of mosquitoes, sentinel chicken flocks, and dead birds for WNV.

Compiled data from various CDC websources - 2006

From the CDC (2005) Stats:

"Of the 2949 cases, 1272 (43%) were reported as West Nile meningitis or encephalitis (neuroinvasive disease), 1566 (53%) were reported as West Nile fever (milder disease), and 111 (4%) were clinically unspecified at this time."

2005: 116 confirmed deaths in the United States from WNV.

From the CDC (2004) Stats:

"Of the 2539 cases, 1142 (45%) were reported as West Nile meningitis or encephalitis (neuroinvasive disease), 1269 (50%) were reported as West Nile fever (milder disease), and 128 (5%) were clinically unspecified at this time."

2004: 100 confirmed deaths in the United States from WNV.

Read the rest of this important report: HERE

5/14 Happy Mothers Day everyone! To all you moms, I hope yours was as special as mine!


5/13 Ab,

Thanks for the clarification on the incident DH mentioned last year. It’s important to remember what Wildland Firefighter Foundation is about – supporting wildland firefighters and their families who need bolstering. Ken’s run last year was a phenomenal effort by an incredibly focused and dedicated man. That man was supported by a vast network of people who got involved because they believed not just in Ken, but in the reason he was pounding out 52 miles. If Ken hadn’t been as strong, focused and dedicated as he was (is) he wouldn’t have finished the 52nd mile. He would have never accomplished what he set out to achieve. But the reason for his incredible level of success – raising much needed funding for WFF - was because of the backing of a vast and dedicated group of people who believe taking care of wildland firefighters and their families is important.

The wildland firefighting community is again coming together to support an expanded version of Ken’s Run last year. And, again, we have the opportunity to talk to our vendors about WFF and encourage their support. The incident last year may have been unfortunate, but it was a learning experience for many folks. The concept of encouraging our vendors – i.e. people with which we spend thousands of dollars for equipment and supplies – to support the industries in which we work is not new. It’s also not inappropriate. The calls I personally made last year were straightforward, congenial and professional – until I was hung up on. I will continue to make those calls. I will continue to provide my vendors with information and background on WFF, refer them to WFF’s excellent website and then encourage their financial support of WFF. I will do this because I believe the companies – and their owners – who benefit financially from both private sector and agency wildland firefighting operations, should be aware of the ground level, human needs of the wildland firefighter workforce and respond to the needs of this workforce and their families.

I do believe it is our responsibility to provide as much information as possible to companies and individuals who may not be aware of WFF or what they do. I also believe we need to be careful about “throwing folks in front of the bus” unnecessarily because we don’t see their name on a specific donation or support list. I believe Dave Hannibal is right in one respect - there are many, many companies that chose to support not only WFF, but other organizations in a quiet, unheralded way. That should be respected. However, those who blatantly and rudely refuse to enlighten themselves in terms of the needs of the workforce they make their money off of – in my view – should be held accountable. What does that mean? Just as I said last year, it means I can choose where to spend the thousands of dollars I have to spend on supplies and equipment with vendors who DO support the wildland firefighting community. That’s just common sense to me. How do I know who supports the wildland firefighting community and who doesn’t? I ask.

While I appreciate Mr. Hannibal’s personal position, I do not agree with it. I also believe that by using the “WFF Board Member” title at the bottom of his post, readers may interpret his view as the view of the entire WFF board when, in fact, it is a personal post, based on Mr. Hannibal’s personal position and philosophy. I believe differentiating between the two is important.

As we move on, let’s all remember that we have the right to hold the positions and beliefs that we do. Agreeing with one another isn’t mandatory. I reserve the right to respectfully disagree and engage is lively debate on issues I feel passionately about. I agree with the Ab’s attempts to turn around discussion threads that start dissolving into personal attacks here on They Said. More than once they’ve helped me rethink a post written in heated frustration. Let’s not let that happen now regarding Ken’s Run. It’s just too important. Let’s agree to focus on the objective…If the objective of Ken’s Run isn’t clear, read the background on it. And then pursue the course you believe is right for you. We cannot tell one another what to think…We can only help each other learn better HOW to think. But first, we have to choose TO think.

Shari Downhill
5/12 I came home this afternoon to a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a card from WFFoundation. What an unexpected and generous gesture. It is a very special organization that continues to remember and care about another's loss over time. Wildland Firefighter Foundation, you are a blessing to so many of us. I cannot be there for Family Day but I know you will be facilitating the healing of many as you enjoy your weekend. Thank you again for brightening my day.

Sarah Larson....Matt Taylor's mom

Sweet. Ab.

5/12 AB—thanks to you for posting my query on theysaid and thanks KB for your swift response; it was a big help.



"I'm satisfied by what Secretary Ray shared with us," Udall said. "When the fire season starts, wherever it starts, that will provide us with an indication about whether they're truly ready."

Why not be prepared in advance? EXPERTS (the folks at the ground level) are, and have continued to speak about preparedness and the lack of preparedness this fire season. Once "it" starts, it is too late to prepare.

Your goal or reaction?... two choices.. 1) Listen to the talking head Mr. Mark Rey or 2) Listen to the troops in the field?....


5/12 Lets be careful with the assumptions of what people or big companies can afford and who should do what. Last year there was some bad blood created in someone trying to pressure private supply companies into donations for Kens run. I feel you do not and should not assume to know what people can afford or where there money goes. it is also my belief that people should donate what they feel right about and that should have nothing to do with being pressured by anyone. I for one do not want to twist any arms for donations. Make the opportunity available and good people will step up and do good things. Some of these big companies you speak about have given much quietly to the WFF and other good causes.

I am honored that Ken has taken the 52 club idea to the next level. (THANKS KEN)

Dave Hannibal
Base Manager
Grayback Forestry
WFF Board Member

Clarification: The "bad blood" was created by the way the company treated the caller before the company's employee knew anything much about any request. To check, this Ab very, very nicely repeated the calling pattern of the original caller and got the same dismissive treatment. Then and only then did we let info regarding that treatment from the original caller be posted here. Now maybe the "more than 10,000 emails" I heard the company got from theysaiders in response to company behavior was more like a "whippin" when a "time out" was in order, but the company or its employee brought the corrective message upon itself. Hopefully they've changed or clarified their employee telephone response protocol. That's all I have to say about that.

I think it is entirely appropriate for our wildland fire community to step up and educate fire-related companies regarding the opportunity to support our fire community's families. Companies can respond as they will.

We welcome and celebrate those companies that support Ken Perry's run.


5/11 Thanks to Kent Maxwell, we've an even smaller bandwidth (.jpg about 90K) file to view the Ken Perry/Wildland Firefighter Foundation Run map:  KP/WFF.  Thanks Kent!  OA
5/11 Thank your Dr. Alan Church for your inquiry on the article I wrote concerning The Original Intent Fire Orders.

Like most of my articles and poems (on fire) I provide circulation first in The Smokejumper (originally The Static Line). The "Orders" were published in the October 2001 Issue.

The Forest Service at first gave no support to the idea, until Hutch Brown at Fire Management Today said "this is good - lets get it published in a more official format".  I could also count on the smokejumper brotherhood to get the ball rolling.  A fellow jumper alumnus (Mike Apicello) pushed my write up from The Smokejumper at high levels. Mike was steadfast and pushed hard.  I understand he gave copies of the article to anyone and everyone he could get to listen to him. If I remember right, the Interior Department Agencies (USNPS/BLM/USFWS) were very supportive. We also mailed copies through the computer system to anyone and everyone who would listen.

I had always taught our young firefighters the process I laid out in the article.  The first publication (The Smokejumper) was the start in getting the orders back to their original format of what I believed to be an engagement - disengagement process. I also shared the article with Paul Gleason who was very supportive. 

The Fire Mgt Today publication (at a later date) was edited to be more friendly in nature.  Attached is my original write up as sent to The Smokejumper. (This Smokejumper version from 2001 is what we have in the Archives. Ab.)

Best Wishes,

Karl Brauneis

Thanks Karl. You can count on Mike Apicello to push good ideas along. Ab.

5/11 From Firescribe:

Feds say Forest Service ready for wildfires
By Kevin Vaughan and M.E. Sprengelmeyer, Rocky Mountain News

WASHINGTON — A top federal official reassured two Colorado congressmen today that the U.S. Forest Service is ready to face the looming summer wildfire season — even with a depleted fleet of large air tankers.

Mark Ray, undersecretary of agriculture for natural resources and environment, also told U.S. Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar, both Democrats, that the Forest Service would have a plan in place by next spring to replace the aging air tankers in the current fleet. (click the link for more)

5/11 Ab,

You know, there's been quite extensive forest fires in Norway over the past few
days -- in Rogaland and other areas of the West coast.

Emergency crews struggle to control new fires

Exhausted firefighters battled through the night to contain brush and forest
fires that flared up again along Norway's west coast. So far they've kept
the flames away from homes and farms.


Welcome Rune. Using helicopters, eh? Please keep us apprised. Ab.

5/11 The finalized Ken Perry/WFF Benefit Run route:  2006 WP/WFF

Still a PDF file, but much smaller at just 1.75 mb.  Thanks to GISGirl for the map and thanks to Debbie Santiago for cutting through the red tape to get the run allowed through Edwards AFB!  If there's interest, GISGirl says she can provide poster sized image data.  Contact the WFF at (208) 336-2996 for more info.  OA

5/11 I received a phone call from my daughter today. She is a student at OSU...she was telling me about how excited she is to have an interview for a entry level fire fighter position for the summer.

We chatted for awhile and when I asked her what she was doing this weekend she replied that her house was having a gathering in remembrance of Gina Zalunardo. I instantly recalled the tragedy...

It's hard to believe that it has been a year since Gina's death and now my daughter, even though she had never met Gina, is involved in honoring Gina's life with her sorority sisters. The conversation with my daughter reminds me how each of our lives are connected as members of the wildfire family and fire fighting community.

As a father and as a fire manager I would like people to know about this tragic anniversary and offer my continuing sympathy and prayers for healing to the Zalunardo family.


Hear, hear. Ab.

5/11 Keep the faith Kevin-

Don't stop driving the message home to management-
they need to be reminded of those CNN moments
when we are all called upon to stand before the world and be accountable
for our fire related decisions.
You and I are on the same page.
Thanks for fighting the good fight- the profession needs that now more than

When I make it to Colorado in the future I will tie in with you for PT.

Mike Benefield
5/11 Rfd cap'n:

Having warned the reader about hindsight, the judge went on in Finding 113 to conclude that ordering them to re-fill their brush truck and stay on the road, foreseeably caused their deaths because visibility might be cut to zero, they might panic and get lost, etc., (not mentioning the fact that their truck broke down as it approached the road, which was the immediate cause of the burnover):

113. The BLM IC breached his duty to warn Buttram and Oliver after the red flag
warning to stay away from the fire's northern perimeter because high winds would
drive the fire in that direction. Instead of so warning 620, the BLM IC instructed
them to refill. He knew that to refill, 620 would most likely drive toward the fence
break at the northeast corner of the fire. In other words, the BLM IC directed 620
toward the northern perimeter of the fire at a time when high winds were forecast to
drive the fire in that very direction. As the Court discussed previously in paragraph
65, the black's function as a safety zone is partly dependent on whether the
firefighters are moving through the black towards the unburned fuels that are in the
path of oncoming winds. The BLM contends that IC Kerby gave 620 "the safe
assignment of going to the road and staying there. " See BLM's Post-Trial Brief at
11. The BLM asserts that "it does not make sense that [Buttram] would drive wildly
around if he could not see at all." Id. From this, the BLM concludes there is no
proof that the "BLM proximately caused Buttram to drive out of the safe zone and
into harm's way." Id. The Court disagrees. At the time IC Kerby gave his refill
order, it was foreseeable that the high winds could kick up the dust and ash in the
black and completely obscure Buttram's and Oliver's visibility. It was also
foreseeable that Buttram and Oliver would be very near the fire's northern perimeter
-- and moving toward that perimeter--at the time the high winds were due to come
through the area. Finally, it was foreseeable that the lack of visibility could cause
panic and disorientation that would expose the firefighters to great risk because of
their close proximity to the dangerous northern perimeter of the fire. By instructing
Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law--page 27
620 to refill, the BLM IC placed Buttram and Oliver in a foreseeably dangerous
position, and thereby breached his duty to provide for their safety.

In findings 133 - 135 the judge went on to conclude that if BLM had shared its knowledge of the fire or if Kuna RFD had shared its knowledge of the inexperience of the firefighters, the tragedy could have been avoided.

Seems like a lot to foresee from an order to re-fill your truck.

Old Sawyer.

5/11 I’m a professor and a former wildland firefighter who is working on a paper on the
10 Fire Orders. I was wondering if you could clarify the following for me:

Karl Brauneis published an article in Fire Management Today 62.2 (Spring 2002): 27-29.
This apparently is a revised version of a previously circulated article that appears on the Wildlandfire
website (www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2004/10fireorders.php) which lists the date 2001 at the top
right of the website, although on the index at (www.wildlandfire.com/arc/arc.phpl) the date given is

Can you verify the date and whether or not my assumption is correct that this version of Brauneis’
article precedes the version published in FMT?

Thank you for your assistance,

Dr. Alan Church
University of Texas at Brownsville

Readers, does anyone have the timeline firmly in their head? I could go back through theysaid and figure it out, but it would be time consuming. Ab.

5/11 Ab,

A comment and a confession. Something about Kevin Joseph's post struck a cord. His statements reminded me of the integrity and quality of the Forest Service I joined in 1974. I spent two years as an engine crewman with CDF prior to that, trying to get enough experience to get hired by the premier wildland firefighting agency in existence: USFS. It is comforting to know that there still are people like Mr. Joseph out there, counter punching against the bureaucrats. My confession is that, after stints on USFS engine, helishot, helitack, hotshot, and smokejumper crews spanning 20 years, I left the agency in disgust at how it was mismanaged and degraded by the bean counters. Instead of hanging in there and trying to effect change, I voted with my feet and got a job with a municipal fire department. Doing so was an admission of defeat and I'm gratified that people like Mr. Joseph have more courage in their convictions than I did when I pulled the pin.

Joe Hill
5/10 looking for fire photo:

There used to be an edited version of this photo available.

Anyone still have a copy of it?


You mean the "naughty" one? HAW HAW  I'll have to ask... Ab.

5/10 Dear Mike,

I don't want to drive this into the ground so I'll keep this short. I have,
on many occasions discussed fire management issues of concern at the
district, forest, and regional levels. You can hear a pin drop. There is a
great indifference to fire management programs and their needs. I don't see
real leadership or advocates for fire management at least in my region. But
I will continue to say what needs to be said and I will never give up or
compromise my principles.

Anyway, If you ever come through Colorado look me up and we'll go for a
long run.

Kevin Joseph

5/10 Ab
I see that the ken Perry page is back up, lets put some pressure on the big companies that fight fire, and supply fire equipment. I see Pacific Wildfire is on the list early this year - I dont see Greyback, Skookum, Patrick, or North Tree yet so ill drop them some emails to pony up. SS Fire Apparatus supplies apparatus to all of the agencies, they billed 22 million last year. They can afford to donate big.

Noble cause Ken is doing. He has my full support and should have everyones.....


robert nemos

Here's the Foundation's page on Ken's run: www.wffoundation.org/kperry06/main.php and
the sponsors page:

5/10 Bravo Mr. Joseph!

Great to see some passion still pumping within the ranks. I too have a fire program to manage and my firefighters deserve a functional system to support them.

Contrary to what you would like to believe- Politics and fire management are always intertwined. When things start burning- politics start interacting with reality. And that's okay- it's a basic part of human nature. Just as long as us in fireline leadership roles understand that on the ground -safe and effective fire tactics are all that matters. On the fireline if we manage fire suppression first and leave politics to the pundits- we will get all of our folks back home in one piece. That is our primary mission as fireline leaders.

When we get back to the home unit however and forget about the politics- we are doomed. If we allow the cannibalization of the wildland fire profession, like we did in the 1980's either by agency or Presidential decree, wildland firefighters will die. This is where the politics come into play and this is where we must engage. Our profession was dismantled because too many professional wildland firefighters sat back and did nothing.

Please don't get the idea that I am endorsing an attitude of "sit back and take it". Quite the contrary, I am endorsing a "look up from the fireline and engage the larger issue" attitude. My words were designed to make people such as yourself think and were sarcastic in nature. I'm glad your not a pup anymore, so if you aren't one -what I said doesn't apply to you.

I will be as clear as possible here- if you want to control your own destiny and ensure the safety of your firefighters- do so at the ballot box, and state your case to your Forest/District Leadership Team. Just understand that by the time the funding gets to your level, politics may have already defined the size and composition of your organization and limited your alternatives. (That's when you give those ologists a handtool and become their worst nightmare- just like in the old days.) Bottom line- we need to take care of our firefighters before fire season. We need to advocate for them 24/7. We start that by knowing the issues and engaging the power brokers. It's our right as citizens and our responsibility as leaders.

Being that I am indeed as you say omnipotent, well traveled and a model of physical fitness- I too have noticed that there is a "lot of frustration out there in the federal wildland fire management ranks." And I too support mom, apple pie, the American flag safety and the excellence of my organization. In addition to this I will take on the bigger issues at their root, in the light of day, without excuses.

You sir are no pup- so don't gloat about your PT abilities. (Don't make me come over there and embarrass you!)

Ab- I'm not going to be outdone by Mr. Kevin M. Joseph

Also please sign me - Mike Benefield

Now, now, let's not get too slap happy with the naming yer'selfs, please. Ab.

5/10 The Run:

Ken Perry, you are a hero! I am already getting excited about the run. Last time I followed it closely via the internet and will do so again. Thanks for the inspiration Ken.

Incident Management:

Wow, things are happening fast these days in the federal fire service, and big changes are coming. They are all going to a central training and experience database (IQCS). They are transitioning to the same budgeting tool (FPA)

They are all looking at possible big budget hits over the next several years (which might hit the FS folks harder than they want with Ray Q. retiring).

I went to the CA Interagency Team meeting in Reno several weeks ago and the take home message was that FEMA is prepared for nothing and that the interagency teams will be looking at more non-fire assignments in the future.

The following week the Senate releases a report that suggested the elimination of FEMA. Is it any surprise to anyone that emergency incidents cannot be effectively run by bureaucrats? You need people that are capable of making tactical decisions that are based on clear objectives. This is outside the capability of the typical bureaucrat.

Perhaps it’s time that we re-introduce the idea that any federal incident management response organization that is created should begin with the extraction of the federal fire service from the natural resource agencies. If we as a nation really want to prepare for all-risk incidents then let’s use the folks that already know how to do it, with proven incident commanders and command staff that are constantly honing their skills. I am aware that they are creating NIIMS Teams, but where do you think that they are going to find those people from? They are going to extract those folks from already existing teams, and the crews and personnel on future incidents will more than likely come from the same pool of folks (federal, state, and contractors) that are currently being used on wildland fires as well. Timing is everything!

Be Safe!


5/10 If you haven't yet pledged for the Ken Perry run, please do so. Tell your friends and family. Alert the businesses you purchase from. This is in support of OUR Foundation, a safety net for OUR people. Let's make this a very successful event!

Ken Perry Run Pledge List

Check the course of the run, two posts below. Awesome map, GISgirl! Thanks!


5/10 To: Been There- Done That,

I was a newly hired Pup in 1974. If something's wrong I'll stand up and say
so. People keeping their mouth shut and going along with the status quo
doesn't do any good for our fire management programs. That's what is going
on now with some of our Leadership. My goal is to have the best, most
highly trained, professional, effective and safe zone fire management
organization I can. Having this type of organization meets our goals in
fire management and it keeps people safe. I want my people to be safe and
effective in their jobs and they are. This is my number one priority. When
the agency or the leadership or who or whatever doesn't support me in this
then I'll say something about it. We're going to be the best we can be. I
care about my people and I'm going to do everything I can to support them.

"Politics and fire management doesn't mix, it's what gets people hurt."
I've always said that. We should do what is right because it is right, damn
the politics, especially when firefighters health and safety is on the

Most fire people are can do. We find ways to make things work right and to
work safe. There's enough PR dollars to support the district programs. The
problem is the agency blows it before it gets to the ground. In 2005 I
couldn't hire one single seasonal USFS firefighter, but the agency can blow
the PR budget paying for people and programs that don't have anything to do
with preparedness or firefighting. That is wrong and I'm going to say
something about it. I can't fill Engineer vacancies, same reason. So I run
5 day a week engines or don't staff them at all. That is wrong and I'm
going to say something about it. Multiple drought years in a row, low fuel
live moistures, severe fire weather....leads to very large fires.
Historically significant in past fatality fires. I'm not going to sit back
and do nothing. I'm going to try and make things better. If some people
don't like it, tough. But I'm not going to give up.

The sit back and take it attitude because it's politics or budget doesn't
cut it with me. I won't tolerate it. The agency and the fire leadership in
it better be doing everything they can to support our firefighters and on
the ground fire management programs. I remember past years when budgets got
tight. Our forest and district fire management leadership cut back on
supplies, mileage, cut a few pay periods for some engines, so we could hire
firefighters and keep our 22 forest engines on for the fire season.

I see too much of an "Oh well" attitude, "It's just the way things are",
"Nothing we can do about it," "It's politics, it's budget." I say

I have a fire management program to lead and I'm going to do it the best I
can. If I see a problem I'm going to try and fix it.
You can call it whining. I call it standing up and trying to do something
about it. I call it telling the truth.

Firefighter safety is my passion. I'm never going to give up striving for
excellence, never. I have a fairly small fire organization here and a
large fire and prescribed fire load. My district fire personnel are top
notch, I'd put em up against anybody.

There is a lot of frustration out there in the federal wildland fire
management ranks. I'd think you'd know that since you've been everywhere
and done everything. I'm a Pup? Hahahahahahahah!!! That is really
funny! Come on over and let's do PT together.

Ab, please sign me- Kevin M. Joseph
5/10 Old Sawyer,

Below is part of the legal standard cited by the judge in the Point Fire litigation, ruling that BLM was liable for the burnover fatalities of two volunteer firefighters in 1995. This appears to have been an effort to avoid, or at least acknowledgement of, hindsight bias:

A danger is reasonable foreseeable if it "is apparent, or should be apparent, to one in the position of the actor. The actor's conduct must be judged in the light of the possibilities apparent to him at the time, and not by looking backward 'with the wisdom born of the event.'" W. Page Keeton et al., Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts 31, at 170 (5th ed. 1984). "In light of the recognizable risk, the conduct, to be negligent, must be unreasonable. No person can be expected to guard against harm from events which are not reasonably to be anticipated at all, or are so unlikely to occur that the risk, although recognizable, would commonly be disregarded." Id. "On the other hand, if the risk is an appreciable one, and the possible consequences are serious, the question is not one of mathematical probability alone . . . . It may be highly improbable that lightning will strike at any given place or time; but the possibility is there, and it may require precautions for the protection of inflammables. As the gravity of the possible harm increases, the apparent likelihood of its occurrence need be correspondingly less to generate a duty of precaution." Id.


Ab - Please forward the articles Old Sawyer sent in.

vfd cap'n

OK. Ab.

5/9 To: Kevin J. CJ et al

It is interesting to watch the reaction to the shifting budgets in the post
National Fire Plan world.
With our corporate memory starting to wane, with the retirement of those
who remember, now we are witnessing
the grand awakening of all those pups newly hired into "permanent"
positions within the federal agencies.
All of them now whimpering because the real world is a little more
political than anything that they could ever have imagined.
Welcome to the Federal Civil Service.

Let me remind you of the illustrious words of President Reagan, then CEO of
the federal civil service who once said, "Government IS the problem....."
Ever since then it has been a national virtue to reject anything even
remotely resembling "Big Government".
(Except of course big government contracts to big corporations to do stuff
that civil servants once did with passion for peanuts.)
After all, anyone who has ever witnessed the coordinated efforts of a group
of well trained agency wildland firefighters knows that big government
just doesn't work as efficiently as say an Exxon/Mobile Corporation
executive or a Walmart door greeter on a busy day.

We live in a changing world, where loyalty and dedication to mission have
been replaced by the temporary and the mediocre. Both within and outside of
the civil service, there has been a loss of focus on why we exist. When
disasters strike, our society looks to us with the expectation that we are
viable and up to the task.

If politicians have short circuited our ability to meet our mission
requirements, then we need to ensure that, along with us, those politicians
shoulder the consequences of our failure.

As long as "civil service"- that is service to our society, doesn't matter
to those we elect, then we can expect that our budgets will be
commensurate with the value our leaders place in us and our mission. So
quit yer whining pups, enjoy the war, start a worm farm and pray that you
ever need medical insurance or retirement benefits.

Been there-Done that
Yahoo City, Out West
5/9 Shari and Mellie:

Here are two articles I pulled off Westlaw on Hindsight Bias (and other biases) including testing of 167 Federal judges. These articles are probably not accessible on the general internet. One of the articles examines "fairness" in light of bias. One author suggests we should just accept the knowledge that we are biased and get over it. I am not that cynical yet. Nonetheless, constructing useful strategies to de-bias the processes that are important to us seems difficult at best. That is now on my to do list.

Old Sawyer.

<<Inside Judicial Mind.doc>> <<Judging in Hindsight.doc>>

Anyone who wants these articles, email and I'll forward them. Ab.

5/9 Interesting article from the Sacramento Bee regarding the use of undocumented
workers on contract fire crews. Not very flattering for several organizations.

Untrained migrants fight fires


5/9 We are pleased to welcome Fol-Da-Tank to our select group of advertisers.  We are happy to have their widely known and respected name and logo on our website, you can now easily find them on the Classifieds Page and also on any of the Equipment Photo pages. 


5/9 Hey Ab we have had about 10 wildfires in the past week biggest around 15
acres near Cave Junction Or. look at zones 620/622 for rain or lack of ppt.

BLM Medford Ashland RA
Number of Days Since Significant Precipitation. (0.50 inch or more in western Oregon or 0.25 inch or more in central and eastern Oregon during a 48 hour period.)

<snip> Most locations in the zones have about 3 weeks since last precip. Ab.

----------Zone 620----------
Sexton Summit 21
Kerby 62
Williams 62

----------Zone 622----------
Butte Falls 21
Medford 27
Emigrant Lake 69


5/8 Florida around Tampa has got a fire going and also one in Volusia
County as well. Sounds like it's starting.

Doc brown
5/8 Howdy all -

I've been off the radar for a pretty long time, but wanted to point out that DHS FEMA has been announcing several jobs lately and probably more in the near future for the NIMS Integration Center (NIC), and for working on the National Response Plan. They do not pay moving expenses... but if there's anyone living out east who may be interested, it would be great to get wildland fire folks in these jobs. This is the first time they have been funded to fill any positions since the new NIMS was signed March 1, 2004.

The NIC is the place that is working on NIMS & NRP policy development for future responses... if there is anyone out there who'd like to impact future hurricane and other all-hazard responses, these positions may be a great opportunity.

Lots of other good stuff going on in the non-fire world, but then whether it will turn out well or not changes from day to day. Sort of like cat-herding in a hailstorm, with some politics, money, and contractors thrown in to keep it moving. Coming from a wildfire perspective and working in the all-hazard, all-terrorism, all-hurricane prep all the time world, there is a long way to go in terms of preparedness and response... but there are some good people working on lots of different things. The wildland fire model for preparedness and response is excellent for this… hopefully the word is getting out.

Hope all is well out there and stay safe this season!

- fly on the wall
5/8 Pandemic Flu Movie tomorrow night on ABC:

Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America
Tuesday, May 9 at 8/7c

Starring Joely Richardson, Stacy Keach, Ann Cusack, Justina Machado, Scott Cohen and David Ramsey

Informational Announcement
To date, there have been no cases of the H5N1 virus in the United States nor has there been a human transmission of the disease in a form that could fuel a pandemic. However, experts around the world are monitoring the Avian Flu situation closely and are preparing for the possibility that the virus could begin to spread from person to person. For information on the virus log onto pandemicflu.gov.

There are times that test humanity and challenge the soul of a community or a nation. News images and headlines tell stories of rising waters, quaking ground and tragic acts by man himself. But the real story, the human story, is found in the lives changed forever, in the strength of the survivors, and the resilient hope that gives them the courage to recover.


5/7 You guys read in way too deep about it, yet you are 100% correct.
The 10's & 18's are a great tool we have, so lets follow them and
hold the fatalities.

5/7 vfd cap'n,

Before your department makes that decision think about some things here!

How did the fire start?
Was it lightning?
If not it was some form of human cause. So responding "code 2" might sound like a good idea when you know for a fact there are no homes in the area. However suppose its a dirt bike accident that started it, does your department have the funds and insurance to pay for the law suit? Now what about the land-owner, who's going to explain to him that his 25ac burned and we came without red lights and siren?

Code 3 driving is a high risk everytime we do it! If you are properly trained how to do it, and can sit behind the wheel and control yourself, the outcome will be a safe trip! What about the other people on the road? Simple you don't shove and be pushy with your apparatus, no mater what the call is!

One last thing before I say by to ya, Is your department a 911 provider? If so do you know who called in the fire? Did they use 911? If they did and you respond code 2 at your discretion not dispatches then you my friend can be held liable for any and all damages caused by this fire! I am not saying you will be but you can be! Even if your department designs an SOP and has your fire dept board of directors sign it, still wont hold up in court!

So be cautious my friend there are to many variables now days to risk that, cause you never know what's really there now do you?

5/7 I hope everyone had as much fun as I did at the Cinco de Mayo celebrations over the last few days.

Here's another celebration coming up:

Retirement BBQ being held for my dear friend John Gibbons, supe of the Ukonom Handcrew - June 3rd Pearch Creek Camp Ground near Orleans in waaaaay northern CA. Read the flyer at the link below, then please RSVP by Friday May 26th to the Front desk at the Orleans District Office 530-627-3291.

Come on and join the festivities! Happy retirement John!



5/7 LH,

You're on the right track. A friend told me what one of his firefighters likes to say: "Hey, those trees knew the risk when they decided to grow there."

Our volunteer fire department is beginning to have discussions about responding to wildland fires (no immediate threat to life) without lights and sirens. We're not trying to be deliberately slow - just deliberate in our response, so that we have time and patience to put the 10 & 18, LCES, etc. in place and give/receive a proper briefing before engaging the fire.

It may not sound like much compared to how most agencies respond, but it's a big shift for a VFD. It will require a change in attitude by our firefighters, and a change of public perceptions and expectations.

vfd cap'n
5/6 LH,

Let it burn??? Does that mean all fires? I do believe that is the outcome when it's too intense to fight.

I hate to say this, but there are dead firefighters that have followed the 10 and 18 to the "T". So before a big blown out debate starts here, sometimes things go wrong we cannot control even with all the risk management tools we use. So maybe let it burn is a good idea? Not, we need to actively suppress all wildland fires that are a threat to any kind of improvement or resource deemed as having value "aka" your house, loggable timber, feed plots, ETC!

Every job, career, lifestyle, and attitude have risks, some worth taking others are not; for example would you stand in front of a train going 90mph with your feet chained to the track? I doubt it! But would you get in your car and drive to the store for food? Yes! Both things I mentioned are risks right? So for our fire world, if you take all the precautions necessary follow the 10 and 18, LCES, "Look up, Look down, Look all around" and so on you're trying to prevent tragedy YES? But when you say trees and brush are not worth it your 10000000000000000% RIGHT!

So you follow the 10 & 18 and LCES, the basics right? Now you're on the line as a crew boss and a spot fire starts below your location, Watch out right? how many let me tell ya #1,3,8,9,10,11,13,16, so 8 of them maybe I kinda added a few that could be used. Then the orders out of the 10 you are gonna break 2,3,4,5. I know what you're thinking here: I am not going to break those orders. Yeah you are, its a new fire there is no anchor point on a hillside between 2 fires, REMEMBER THIS IS PRETEND! You cannot have any idea what your fire is doing until it's sized up, so without that # 2, #3 BROKEN. Where is your new escape route? Can you use the same one for the new fire? You don't know yet 'cause the fire is not sized up. So guess what, #4 BROKEN. Do you need another lookout for this fire? YES, 'cause there is danger, fire below your crew and unburned fuel between them, so I hate to say it #5 BROKEN! Now all this is over and you got the fire out and lined fairly quick and nobody got hurt, did you still break the rules? YES, you did, is anybody going to care? probably not! If your firefighter got killed 'cause they fell down the hill when they tripped on a rock headed to this spot fire are you going to get nailed to the wall? YOU BETCHA!!! Why because he just tripped and fell I had no control over that? Maybe you are right, but if you followed the 10 & 18 and exited the area when you detected the spot fire he would be alive now!

So following the 10 and 18 is not just that simple, maybe when you learn them the first time in the basic 32! I am not slamming you here, just letting you know that to be a good quality crew boss, ic, divs,or whatever else you want to be, there is more to it than the basics!! Every decision you make either at work or home it has a reaction positive/negative or indifferent, it still has effect!

So with all the above mentioned, investigation teams don't care about which items you followed, just which ones you didn't follow. LH one thing I do want to say is that if you follow all the rules all the time a 1/4ac fire will grow to 5ac before you finish your nomegram, your risk management process, and your incident complexity analysis. Please download a copy of the "PULASKI DOCTRINE draft" and read it, you will see that firefighting is not the 10 and 18!

Grass burns and grows back with the rains, brush burns and takes 10 to 30 years to un-scar the landscape, timber burns and you will not see it return to pre-fire landscape but your kids might. So "let it burn" doesn't sound like a good idea now does it? For firefighter safety I agree if it's too hot, back off, but don't sit and watch cause we can't risk killing anyone? Our jobs are RISK!!!!!!

Have a safe season and brush up on those 156 rules of engagement............


5/6 Firepup21

Call me!!! Just kidding. Play safe down there you guys and gals.
I hope u get the help you need. Shame about the homes. That plain sux.

Keep your stick on the ice.

5/6 Hey, I have to agree with both LH and Kevin J

Firefighters as a whole need to get back to the basics of the 10 and 18 but we need agency and congressional support to have enough resources to do the job safely. I do not have the answer for us to get support in Washington it seems that depends on which homes burn or how many firefighters die. Can they mean to underfund our management purposefully or do they also need further education? Hey Kevin how are things going?


5/6 Dear Old Fire Guy:

Youthful? Hardly

Inexperienced? More Hardly

A lobbyist? No, an advocate!

With all due respect, while we would like to think congress works within established guidelines, it does not. The deviations from such "guidelines" are as varied as they are frequent.

My commentary comes from the experience you say I lack. Over a decade on the Hill and a number of relationships from those on both sides of the aisle provides me the opportunity to agree with you on one thing...

Congress makes tough choices. However it also makes politically expedient choices, self-serving choices and often times the tough choices are on hiatus in an election year.

However, it remains as simplistic as I suggested...Congress authorizes and appropriates dollars to a variety of agencies through the "established guidelines" you referred to. (We could likely chat for hours about those guidelines.)

Congress then assumes, expects, whatever you want to call it, that the agencies will utilize the dollars for their intended purposes. If an agency has 100 different budgets and receives appropriated dollars for each, no one budget is more of a priority than another.

Therefore, my expectation (as a taxpayer let's say) that fire preparedness dollars appropriated by congress be used for fire preparedness is not a priority, it's a fundamental responsibility of the agency.

Since I'm not a lobbyist, I don't have a "program" that I think is a priority. However, I do believe that it is an inherent, fundamental obligation & responsibility of a federal agency utilizing tax dollars to use them as designated by congress.

I am truly sorry you care to categorize absolute fact (agency using preparedness & fuels dollars for purposes & projects other than those for which the dollars were intended) as "negative accusations."

Why has congress now referred to the FS budgetary mess as a "shell game?" Why for years has congress admonished the FS Chief for "borrowing" from other programs when all he needs do is ask for what he needs?

Why do we have yet another GAO report saying the same thing about FS fiscal mismanagement that we saw 10 years ago?

Again, with all due respect sir, I have spent a considerable career working Capitol Hill, testifying before congressional committees, meeting with presidents on firefighter issues. This is not arrogance but simply fact.

Let's use the old adage about the FS budget mess. If it looks and smells like a rat... guess what?

No one is "crying out" for anything other than for congress and the agencies to operate within their "guidelines," the most important of which are to discharge their obligation and responsibilities to the taxpayers of this country.

I dare say there is no "established guideline" for agencies to misuse and waste hundreds of millions of dollars each year and there is no established guideline for preparedness & fuels money to be misused by those from the USDA down to the regional level.

So let's go over the scenario which seems to play itself out so frequently:

Funds appropriated for preparedness & fuels will be diverted for non-fire projects. Forests will, as they have for the last several years, operate their budgets in deficit to adequately staff their stations & equipment for the season.

Why operate in a deficit? Because much of the preparedness $$ gets siphoned off before it gets to the forests where it all should go.

Oops, this year the word is "no deficit spending" but by gosh the agency wants its fire managers to meet that 98% initial attack mark even though the agency is still taking your preparedness dollars.

What's a fire manager supposed to do? How about send out hire notices to temporary firefighters then have to send another letter to them saying "oops, sorry we can't hire you because of budget problems." To bad the rescind letters can't be honest and say "we can't hire you because others are ripping off the money I'm supposed to use to hire you and staff my engines..."

Then let's operate engines 5 out of 7 days a week. We're sure we can convince God & Mother Nature (not to mention the nutcases that throw their cigarettes from their cars) not to start fires on the other two days of the week.

Hey lets just run with 3 firefighters on a crew rather than 5. Gosh look at the wonderful things we can do to allow preparedness funds to be used for other purposes...

Of course NIFC, as of 2-3-06 indicated that nearly 10 times the 10 year average for acres burned as of that date had already been lost... and that was before Texas. Fortunately, although the preparedness budget has been ransacked, the suppression budget has increased. A bit contradictory to the concepts of the National Fire Plan and sort of like closing the proverbial barn door after the horses are out.

The increase in the suppression budget is absolutely critical so the agencies can continue to maintain their over-reliance on significantly higher-priced resources.

Wow, the season becomes a bad one. What will the agency do? Simply go to Congress, tell it "Gosh its a bad year" and voila, a supplemental appropriations bill.

So it's OK to increase the suppression budget and seek additional suppression dollars in a bad year simply because the preparedness budget was raided and preparedness was not adequate to prevent the necessity for the huge suppression expenditures?

Perhaps I'm the only one to whom this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I guarantee you, there are a few folks on the Hill starting to think the same thing.

5/6 Writer needs information

I'm presently writing a mystery set in New Mexico. I use the background of a forest fire so that my P.I. protagonist can pretend to be a firefighter in order to sneak back onto a ranch threatened by the fire. He searches for a man he's been hired to find and whom he believes is being held against his will on the ranch. The worsening fire increases the P.I.'s anxiety to find this man before it's too late.

I want the firefighter scenes to be realistic, and while I can google for information (and your website is excellent), I would like to contact someone who can answer questions, and who may have fought fires in New Mexico. And if they read genre fiction, particularly mysteries, all the better. Also, someone from Dallas where I'm located would also be beneficial.

I would appreciate any information you can give me.


Carol McCoy
Dallas, TX

5/5 LH,

It's not that simple, think about it. Just because we follow rules doesn't
mean rapidly changing, escalating, and unknown or unforeseen situations or
events won't change everything. Mistakes will also be made in any human
endeavor. We can anticipate changes based on our training and experience,
but we can't always predict a certain future or positive outcome. There are
inherent risks in wildland fire suppression. It's not a perfect world.

Emergency services such as fire and law enforcement are jobs that have risk
and they are dangerous jobs. We must do everything we can to have the
safest work environment we can in spite of very dangerous and rapidly
changing circumstances. We accomplish this through training, education,
experience, discipline, professionalism, safety programs and mechanisms,
positive and progressive attitudes and I have always said...a supportive
atmosphere within which to perform the fire management job.... and that is
where I would like raise some discussion points.

I believe the most challenging issue we deal with today is the failure of
the agency to provide the support required for our fire management
programs. Reduced budgets and PR dollars diverted elsewhere and to fund
personnel who are not involved in preparedness mean engines sitting idle
and unstaffed, firefighters not hired, crews unfunded, engine upgrades not
funded, new equipment not purchased and on and on. But we can waste
millions on NFMAS and FPA planning and then not use the funding or staffing
data it gives us in the end. By the time the PR dollars get to a forest
there's a 30 to 40% "Overhead" tap. By the time it gets to the district I
don't have enough to staff engines 7 days a week, hire engineers, or hire
all the firefighters I need but tens of millions are spent before it gets
to the people who are Preparedness.

Why don't we have the support? That's been debated for years now. Does the
agency always have experienced and knowledgeable fire people in upper level
fire management leadership positions who have the ability to develop,
implement and interpret policy or to provide the leadership for developing
and maintaining professional, highly trained and skilled, effective and
safe fire management programs and then supporting those programs? I see a
real indifference to on the ground fire management needs and operations. I
see the agency as out of touch with the ground. I see a lapse in
leadership. Just about every system we have is broken or it doesn't work.
Anyone tried hiring seasonal firefighters through avue lately? Anyone had
problems getting people cleared through comprehensive health service's so
they can take the pack test?

Everything the agency does in fire management has to be in support of the
initial attack engine crews, IA crews, hotshot crews, helitack crews,
jumpers, and air tanker program. These are the people who are fire
management. These are the people who suppress the fires; protect life,
property and natural resources, conduct the prescribed burns, manage
wildland fire use for resource benefits, conduct fire prevention programs,
work with homeowners, support other fire service agencies, are away from
home and family much of the summer because of their unique dedication to
the job. These people are the backbone of the fire management program.
Surely they deserve the utmost support from the agency but it seems to me
we're on the low end of the agency's priorities.

The forest service needs to do a much better job of supporting fire
management programs than what is currently occurring. My highest priority
is the safety, health, and welfare of my district fire management personnel
as they perform a dangerous job. Second is our ability to safely and
effectively respond to the fire load and to protect life and property. I
don't feel like the agency is behind us anymore.

Kevin J
5/5 Hey Ab,

Things are really starting to get busy here in Florida. We are approaching 85 days without rain and lightning season is just a couple thunderstorms away. A 2000 acre state fire destroyed about 12 homes recently. Pass along for the western folks that would like a trip to Florida to ensure that their status in ROSS is "available". We placed an order for a helicopter module and it went to six GACC's and came back unfilled. A few of our single resources have come in from California. I have a sneaking feeling that there are firefighters that are available a bit closer than R5.

Stay tuned ...... looks like a busy spring here in sunny Florida.

5/5 CJ,

One can certainly appreciate your passion for the job, and the desire to
see the world function in a "simple" fashion......such is the luxury of

As you become more seasoned and knowledgeable, (the Patricia Woods "Dynamics
of Congress" is highly recommended), you will realize that life and
government is full of hard choices, and operates within established

All lobbyists see their program as the top priority, needing 100% funding,
contributing nothing towards the support infrastructure. Our elected
representatives in Congress make the tough choices however, as well they

Is there not room for improvement? Of course there is, and we will
continue to need people to cry out for improvement. Let's avoid negative
accusations if we can.

Old Fire Guy

5/5 Nothing better than downing a few Corona's while reading a GAO report about wildland fire agency management & preparedness!!!

I bet for the amount of money spent on the GAO report to tell all of us in the wildland firefighting community that the agencies are... with all due respect, inept at fire management policy at the national level, or for the money spent on LANDFIRE, FPA etc., those that actually do the work in the field could actually make a decent living.

Let's not kid ourselves and let's ensure congress doesn't kid themselves...As long as the agencies, primarily the USDA, the Forest Service and its leadership on down to Regional Foresters are allowed to misuse & divert funds appropriated by congress for fire preparedness funds and fuels to fund other non-fire projects, the efforts and tax dollars spent on such grandiose plans as LANDFIRE & FPA will be rendered irrelevant.

Let me try and understand this... As the Forest Service & USDA continue to needlessly increase the risk to the health & safety of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters and the taxpayers of this country by misusing & diverting preparedness & fuels budgets and using said budgets as "cash cows" for other projects, they are going to spend another $48 million to "provide a single mechanism for planning & budgeting agency activities to prepare for, and respond to wildland fire"?

Does this mean they are spending $48 million dollars so that they can streamline their process of ripping off the preparedness and fuels budgets? 

The agencies plan on using the data collected by LANDFIRE to "better support their strategic decisions on preparedness, suppression, the location and design of fuel reduction projects and other land management activities."

We already know the strategic decision on preparedness and the other land management activities... take preparedness money from the Forests and fire management officers and use it to pay for "other" land management activities... like the HR move to New Mexico???

Heck, we could have told congress that without the cost of a GAO report. 

The FPA is apparently being implemented in response to a congressional committee direction to improve budget allocation tools. The only budget allocation tool is the greedy hands of those that rip off preparedness & fuels. The only way to improve that is to "cut off" those greedy hands from continually emptying the cookie jar for their own selfish goals & objectives.

Someway, somehow, we will finally educate the right people who will finally put an end to all this nutty, wasteful, fiscal mismanagement and illustrate to those responsible in no uncertain terms that their days are numbered and that the only way to establish long-term goals & objectives is to:

1) Request of congress all funds necessary to finance all projects, inclusive of fire @ 100% MEL (no exceptions) so that there is no more borrowing, or "robbing Peter to pay Paul" etc. If the Forest Service needs more money to centralize HR, than have the guts to say "we need more." Stop worrying about saving one's political rear end by not wimpishly (probably not a word) submitting to the President's budget proposals if its less than what you need.

2) Stop using the preparedness & fuels budgets as cash cows for anything other than what those funds were appropriated by congress for.

3) Expend those appropriated dollars to rebuild the Nation's wildland firefighting infrastructure (our federal wildland firefighters) so that we can not only attract viable career employees but actually keep them and provide the taxpayers of this country with the greatest "bang for their tax buck."

Such simple fixes to such complex problems...sure wish the agency leadership could think up such simple fixes rather than wasting even more money to pacify congress and continue the status quo.

5/5 Where can I find the AD pay schedule for 2006? 

Your assistance will be appreciated. 


You can go to the ADFA site. They have both FS and DOI AD pay plans. You can always find their link on the Classifieds page. Classifieds is an important links page for finding many organizations and businesses relating to wildland fire. Ab.

5/5 If everyone would just follow the 10 & 18, we would not even be having 
conversations about burnovers and fatalities. Its just trees and brush we are 
protecting. Let it burn if it means we are going to be going home tomorrow 


5/4 From Firescribe:

Bateman confesses to forest arsons
Sun Staff Reporter

The forest firefighter worked his way into management at the Coconino National Forest over three decades by fighting monster fires like the Rodeo-Chediski, helping the search for survivors at the World Trade Center and being a voice of authority for his crew amid disaster.

But last October, Van Bateman was in the hot seat as two federal investigators told him they knew he started two fires that burned 22.6 acres of his own Mogollon Rim District in 2004.

Bateman denied it at first, joking with the agents.

But he cracked when Department of Agriculture agents showed him global positioning system evidence that put his truck at the scene, according to court documents detailing an October 2005 interview.

Regardless of how this turns out, my personal opinion is that Van Bateman is a fine person and has contributed much to this country. Ab.

5/4 Does anyone have a copy of the S-234 powerpoint? I
would greatly appreciate a copy of it. Ab, will have
my contact info. 

Thanks, SC

STJS, is that one you sent in? If so, I'll go look. Ab.

5/4 To the person who said

"There hasn't been a Forest Service burnover fatality since 1981. Folks
have learned a lesson (I Hope). ??

Call me superstitious but I would not ever make a statement like that. It
seems the kind of thing that may be true but the regret associated with
being wrong after the fact would not be worth the pride of stating it. And
to make it specific to an agency shows chutzpa. I admire your sand but I
would not make that presumption of safety. Are you saying there are NO
latent organizational factors in the California Region of the Forest Service
that are manifest? It must be nice to be done with safety as a goal.


5/4 This came in from a helpful contributor... Thanks, Ab.

Re: Frequent Flyer Miles / Federal Employees

> www.gsa.gov/gsa/cm_attachments/GSA_BASIC/ travel_advisory_5_R2OJ2R_0Z5RDZ-i34K-pR.doc

On December 28, 2001, the President signed into law S. 1438, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002. Section 1116 of this law authorizes Federal employees to retain promotional items, including frequent flyer miles, earned on official travel. This travel advisory provides interim details regarding this new authority.

Guidelines for Official Federal Travelers—Using Frequent Traveler Benefits

Certain provisions of the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) and the Federal Property Management Regulations (FPMR) require that promotional benefits, including frequent flyer miles, earned on official travel are considered the property of the Government and may only be used for official travel. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002, signed by President Bush on December 28, 2001, now allows federal employees to retain for personal use promotional items received incident to official travel. This travel advisory provides Questions and Answers that will help the federal traveler become familiar with the new law and the new travel procedures which are being established as a result of this statutory change.

Who should read this travel advisory?
All federal travelers, authorizing officials and travel managers should read this advisory. This travel advisory provides guidance for federal travelers who earn promotional materials and frequent traveler benefits while on official Government travel.

What is the new law?
This travel advisory is based on enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002. Section 1116 of this law specifically states that federal employees may retain for personal use promotional items, including frequent flyer miles, earned on official travel.

Are any other laws affected?
Yes. This new law repeals Section 6008 of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 (5 U.S.C. 5702 note; Public Law No. 103-355), which had prohibited personal retention of such promotional items.

What regulation(s) do you need to know about?
Certain provisions of the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) (41 CFR 301-53) and the Federal Property Management Regulations (FPMR) (41 CFR 101-25) require that promotional benefits, including frequent flyer miles, earned on official travel are considered the property of the Government and may only be used for official travel. These regulations are in the process of amendment.

How is a frequent travel promotional benefits account established?
It is the responsibility of each traveler to communicate directly with a service provider to establish his/her frequent travel promotional benefits account. Any associated costs are to be paid by the traveler, and are not a reimbursable expense.

What may the traveler do with promotional benefits or material he/she receives from a travel service provider?
Any promotional benefits or material received from a travel service provider in connection with official travel may be retained for personal use, if such items are obtained under the same conditions as those offered to the general public at no additional cost to the Government. This includes all benefits earned, including those earned before enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002.

Under what circumstances may the traveler use frequent travel benefits to upgrade his/her transportation class of service when on official travel?
It is the policy of the Government that employees generally must travel by coach class accommodations. However, you may upgrade your transportation class of service at your own expense. Therefore, as frequent traveler benefits may now be retained for your personal use, you may use any frequent traveler benefits you have earned to upgrade your transportation class to premium service. The regulations governing upgrades to premium airline accommodations continue to be found at FTR 301-10.123 and 301-10.124. Your agency cannot pay for any upgrades, unless you meet one of the exceptions in these regulations.

When will the FTR and FPMR changes be effective?
The amendatory language to the FTR and FPMR is not in effect until a final rule(s) is published in the Federal Register (FR). We anticipate that publication will take place in 30-60 days. You may, however, use your frequent traveler benefits immediately in accordance with paragraph 9, below.

What authority allows immediate use of promotional benefits earned while on official travel?
GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy has issued a governmentwide waiver of the provisions of the FTR and FPMR that require that promotional items received incident to official travel, including frequent flyer miles, before, on or after the date of the waiver may be retained by federal employees for their personal use. The waiver remains in effect until a permanent amendment(s) to the provisions referenced herein is published in the FR.

Who should a federal traveler call if he/she is confused and does not know what to do?
He/she should contact the supervisor or travel approving official.

Are frequent traveler benefits taxable?
The Internal Revenue Service has indicated to GSA that these benefits may be taxable. GSA will provide additional information as we receive it from the IRS.

If you have additional questions, please contact your supervisor or your agency’s travel or financial policy manager. Jim Harte, OGP’s Travel Policy Team Leader at 202-501-0483, is also available to assist you.

So Readers, you are free to donate frequent flyer miles to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for the upcoming Family Day at Firecamp Event... I'm sure that it would be tax deductible too. Ab.

5/4 Hey there certain person, also howdy to another person discussing this issue.

I have had a little milling around time with this and decided to write in. I do think you both make very strong points about the safety conference.

I am however pretty disappointed in Lobotomy for his comments about not having a burnover since 1981! Are we better than the rest of the fire world? NO! The USFS has killed more wildland firefighters than any other agency in the US. I am not talking bogus stuff here either, I know that we are in fact the leading agency in the USA for wildland fire. I mean our training programs and requirements are good "alot of overkill", but there is always room to improve. Certain person I know you work on a socal forest and are the busiest forest call wise in the nation. Does that mean if a fire starts in say Wyoming on FED land and GOD forbid a firefighter is killed it doesn't effect you? WRONG!!! It does in one way or another it will. SORRY Certain person but the fire world be it VOLUNTEER, PAID, MUNICIPAL, or WILDLAND, we are all brothers and sisters. If a firefighter is killed in Russia it will in some way effect you and I. I do think about our fallen brothers at least once a day. I know that if we think of them it will remind us of what can happen to each and everyone of us. I am very much a heartfelt person for the losses of my fellow firefighters, if it ever happens right next to you then you will understand, especially when you just talked to them about there wedding on the coming weekend!

I am not on a soapbox just hoping to let you know that your words are not all that wise this time. I like reading your posts just not this one it kinda hit a BIG nerve!

I hope that after reading your post I am wrong, but you sound like you have a bad taste for R5? I know that R5 is the big region that is disliked by all the others, SO WHAT! Does that mean we are below your standards? Just remember the very valuable words that FIREFIGHTERS live by RISK vs. GAIN, using the smarta$$ed language you used was your risk so what did you gain? NOTHING except widening the gap even more between regions! I am not a tree hugger shoot from the hip liberal, I am an American Firefighter that serves the public proudly "for crappy pay"! Anyhow I do hope that I was wrong about this and if so good if not then please think before making finger pointing remarks. I do very much agree with you about the conference, it is a valuable tool.

So my general thoughts are if you're a firefighter anywhere in the world reading this, think for a minute - can you be killed at work tomorrow? Do you want to come home in a coffin? Miss your kids growing up? I am guessing you're gonna say NO! If you said yes please see a doctor soon lol. Our jobs are in the heart not just a paycheck, why else would you risk it all for some person you don't know? So with yet another fire season upon us and more Line Of Duty Deaths, maybe just maybe we can learn how to not lose a single firefighter someday soon. The conference is a great start, I will be attending next year.

As far as R5 - we have alot of BS stuff going on that is a distraction away from training and getting ready for fire season. Which I do feel that in itself should be a watch-out! I do hope that each and every firefighter has a safe fire season.

Remember that an accident does not mean its time to point fingers; its time to learn. Negligence is when pointing fingers still does not bring out the true facts, it distorts them!

Have a good one guys!

Ab substituted names for "Certain person". This is about issues, but monikers help ID which issues. That was pretty funny NORCAL Capt.

5/3 Some selected quotes from the GAO report from Firescribe (below):

..."The agencies have not prepared a tactical plan outlining the critical steps and associated time frames for completing a cohesive wildland fire management strategy, as we recommended. And while the agencies completed a February 2006 interagency document entitled "Protecting People and Natural Resources: A Cohesive Fuels Treatment Strategy," this document does not identify long-term options and related funding needed for reducing fuels and responding to wildland fires when they occur, as we called for."...

..."The Fire Program Analysis (FPA) system is a computer-based model designed to assist the agencies in cost-effectively allocating the resources necessary to address wildland fires. The first of FPA's two phases is nearly complete, with the second phase expected to be completed in 2008. However, gaps in the data collected for FPA may reduce its usefulness in allocating resources."...

..."Our reviews over the last 7 years identified several weaknesses in the federal government's management response to wildland fire issues, including:

1. . the lack of a national strategy that addressed the likely high costs of needed fuel reduction efforts and the need to prioritize these efforts;

2. . shortcomings in federal planning and implementation at the local level;

3. . the lack of basic data, such as the amount and location of lands needing fuel reduction;

4. . ineffective coordination among federal agencies and collaboration between these agencies and nonfederal entities; and

5. . insufficient accountability for federal expenditures and performance in wildland fire management."...

..."Officials at Agriculture and Interior told us the agencies have not developed the tactical plan we called for, outlining the critical steps the agencies will take, together with related time frames, to complete a cohesive strategy for wildland fire management-despite their commitment to do so in their response to our January 2005 report."...

..."Agency officials told us that, although their recently published cohesive strategy does not contain long-term options and needed funding, the agencies are taking steps to increase the effectiveness of their wildland fire management. The Wildland Fire Leadership Council is developing a comprehensive framework to monitor hazardous fuels reduction projects,3 and is conducting a review of the 10-Year Comprehensive Strategy Implementation Plan.4 The comprehensive monitoring framework will, among other activities, evaluate the effect of fuels treatments intended to reduce the risk of wildland fire and the extent of collaboration among federal, state, and local entities. Similarly, the review of the implementation plan, which an Interior official told us will be completed by midsummer 2006, will incorporate performance measures to evaluate whether fuels treatment activities are meeting their intended objectives. However, both of these efforts focus on the effects of fuels treatment activities, rather than providing options and needed funding for potential future wildland fire management activities."...

..."Given the importance of a cohesive strategy for wildland fire management that identifies long-term options and needed funding, as well as the need to understand how and when the agencies will develop such a strategy, the Congress may wish to consider requiring that the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior develop a tactical plan that lays out the specific steps and time frames needed to complete a cohesive strategy."

"In the interim, while the agencies are developing a tactical plan and cohesive strategy, the Congress will continue to lack information regarding long-term options and needed funding for responding to wildland fire problems. If the Congress believes such information is necessary to make informed decisions in the near term, it may wish to consider seeking an independent source to provide interim information until the agencies are able to complete the cohesive strategy we previously recommended. This could be accomplished by, among other approaches, requiring the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to contract with a third party. Regardless of the approach chosen, given both the complexity and the urgency of the wildland fire issue, the Congress may wish to specify certain time frames and deliverables-including long-term options and needed funding based upon the best available information-in order to ensure that it is provided with timely and comprehensive information."...

5/3 Just wanted to give everyone a heads up so the celebrating doesn't start too soon. I learned on our conference call today that AVUE may not be going away like we all hope it will. They are in the bidding for the new contract. They have also delayed migrating Region 5 HR and Personnel to Sept of 2007. I have to go have a drink now.....

HR in R5
5/3 vfd cap'n

Interesting point. Hindsight bias results from sense-making - learning from the past, which must occur from good outcomes as well as bad outcomes. A group which knows the outcome, good, bad, or near-miss, should overestimate the foreseeability of the outcome, in themselves as well as for the people actually involved, and attribute more weight to the causes of the outcome than a group which does not know the outcome. We should be wary, then, when studying near-misses, the same as bad outcomes, so as not to ignorantly allow hindsight bias to overly influence our conclusions. Nor should we become overconfident in the reasons for (decisions judged to have lead to) a good outcome.

Old Sawyer 

5/3 Ab

In good humor:
Could not let mislocating a fire by about 300 miles go without commenting. Today's NIFC reports are reporting the "Cherrytown" incident in New York as being "Near Rochester". Now that is my old stomping ground.
Called one of my sisters in Rochester and she has not heard of anything so I went to the USFS maps.

Turns out the fire is in the lower Hudson River Valley. Say 250 to 300 miles from Rochester.
However not wanting to be a total dummy I went to the GPS software I have on my computer and found an old historic "Rochester town" near the fire area.

Which goes to show that believe the Satellite images and GIS people. If someone at the end of shift, doing a report, does not get the name of the location correct some troops might be going in the wrong direction.

How many other states have 3 places with "about" the same name.

5/3 Frequent Flier Miles

Someone said (don't want to use names):

"Whoever handles your travel should be able to answer the question 
definitively however..."

hehe... We have Fedtraveler...

It is hard enough to get a decent reservation out of them...

Much like Serco...

only they have not defaulted... yet...

5/3 From Firescribe:

New GAO Report:

Wildland Fire Management: Update on Federal Agency Efforts to Develop 
a Cohesive Strategy to Address Wildland Fire Threats


5/3 re: frequent flyer miles 

In Forest Service they now go directly to the personnel for personal use,
just as with NPS. We can donate!!

RM Member
5/3 Old Sawyer,

A good example of hindsight bias is the Butte Fire, which is held up in NWCG training materials as a safety success for the 70+ lives saved. 

But the Canadians cite the same incident as a failure of basic, safe firefighting principles. In fact, it's used as justification for not carrying fire shelters in British Columbia, because of the 70+ lives unnecessarily placed at risk.

De-biasing is not only about avoiding harsh judgment for "bad" outcomes. It could mean a change in the current attitude of "no harm, no foul" when dealing with our "good" outcomes during near-miss incidents.

On another topic -- Thanks to Jennifer Thackaberry Ziegler, Dan Northern and Kelly Close for making our first Wildfire Safety Drill a success last weekend in Salida, Colorado. Those three are working hard to inspire us all to be biased in favor of firefighter safety.

vfd cap'n
5/3 re: frequent flyer miles

I know the word used to be that frequent flyer miles could not be accrued on official
government travel. A few years back (at least in the NPS), that changed and it is now
allowable. I'm not sure how other agencies differ, but I'd assume that they're all about
the same. Whoever handles your travel should be able to answer the question
definitively however...

5/3 For those of you on teams that go to the South Pacific to help, there was an 8.0 earthquake
near Tonga and a tsunami is radiating out from there.

Interactive Map of the area (passing pointer over the islands highlights the island name)

USGS Earthquake Map


I just checked www.prh.noaa.gov/ptwc/wmsg and the tsunami warning has now been cancelled. Ab.

5/3 Donate Frequent Flyer Miles to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation Family Day Event...

While the topic of frequent flyer miles is up here, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation could use some frequent flyer miles to get some of the families of fallen firefighters to the Family Event that is coming up on May 20 and 21. It sounds like an excellent program. Families will be attending and camping out at Fire Camp to see what it's like. Great idea, especially so the kids can see what their parent did that was special.

Those with frequent flyer miles to donate, please check out the Family Day Event and then call or email the Foundation as soon as possible (contact info is on that page). We don't want any family member to be denied this memory-making experience.


5/3 Does anybody know what the official policy is concerning frequent flyer miles for
travel to an incident. Do you personally get to claim them or do you have to turn
them back? I have heard it both ways and cannot find an answer. For those who
do a lot of travel to incidents the miles sure can add up quick and I want to make
sure it's legal to keep them.

Thanks for any info.


Good question, CRN.

5/3 Ab,

For those who would like to see the R5 Pandemic Response Plan, you can download it here:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2006/r5-pandemic-plan.doc  (2,053 K word document)

My thanks again to Michelle Reugebrink, Peter Tolosano, Gene Smalley and, for the firecamp preliminary plan, to CIIMT3 -- Jean Pincha-Tulley, Scotty McKenney and Frank Gruhot. All of you folks are the best... Excellent professionals!

Dispatchers... we need to come up with some ideas for your group.


5/3 Shari and Mellie:

I ran a key-word search for "hindsight bias" on Westlaw for all Federal and state court decisions in the United States. There were a few cases dealing with patent litigation issues of "obviousness" which warned of hindsight bias concerning post-patent developments, but did not involve any analysis of the cognitive process. There were also a few cases warning of hindsight bias when investors (trustees) were being sued for bad investment performance in light of subsequent market performance. These opinions also did not discuss the cognitive processes involved in hindsight bias.

There was only one case in reported American legal history in which the judge allowed an expert psychologist to explain to the jury the mechanism and effects of hindsight bias, a medical malpractice case in which a doctor failed to see a small mass in the x-ray of another doctor who later developed lung cancer.

There was no case in which expert testimony on hindsight bias was disallowed. A search of judicial organization websites yielded no discussion of the issue. A search for theories controverting the validity of hindsight bias yielded nothing. It appears that the cognitive mechanism of hindsight bias is not disputed, is being discussed in intellectual circles, but is being generally ignored by people and organizations in the profession of judging bad outcomes.

I have sent the information to some key people involved in accident investigations of burnover fatalities. Burnover fatalities have every influence which increase the effect of hindsight bias. Severity of the outcome increases the bias - and firefighters are revered in our society, their death is as severe as it gets. Accident investigation teams involve a group deliberative process in which a dominant personality can influence others toward hindsight bias, as do OSHA and OIG and prosecution teams, as well as juries. By the time the public can try to judge in hindsight, we have documented a large array of possible policy violations, in a format which creates a recreation of the event, which reinforces hindsight bias as well. We are sometimes provided adverse information about decision makers which helps us dislike them, another contributor to bias.

With this barrage of information which all contributes to our natural process to learn from the past, which is the same cognitive process which creates hindsight bias, it seems to me that we should pay more attention to debiasing techniques than we appear to be doing on a national scale.

The issue is as relevant in talking to your child about the cause of their first auto accident as it is to a jury considering a negligent homicide criminal prosecution. I am surprised that this issue has not gotten more attention. Maybe some good can come of it.

Old Sawyer.

5/3 Regarding recent comments about the value of attending/not attending the IAWF Safety Summit in Pasadena last week, here's a little different perspective. First, <a person> is awfully parochial in <their> approach to wildland fire in SoCal if <they> can brag in your PS about "no USFS burnover fatalities since 1981". I applaud <their> "green underwear" approach, but can't forget Steve Rucker on "Cedar" in 2003 (either can CDF Chief John Hawkins, the IC, based on his heartful comments at the Safety Summit); how about the 2 LA County firefighters that died on GlenAllen in 1993: they don't count? Ever seen the "Kelly York" video - death isn't the only burnover consequence!

Some of the R5 USFS leadership thought it was worthwhile enough to attend, and even offer presentations: Ray Q and Deputy Ed Hollenshead both attended, participated, and gave meaningful input. JoAnne Fites showed some new "hot" info about fire blow-ups from Montana that definitely related to cutting edge info on fire safety.

Last year at Missoula, USFS-R5 firefighters attended the Safety Summit (Montana hasn't had a burnover fatality since ???) and apparently went away better and more safety conscious for the experience. Seems to me that USFS R5 fire folks occasionally cross the State line to work out-of-Area on IMT's throughout the West too? No learning experiences from the I-90 burnover outside of Missoula last year? The Lessons Learned Center thinks there was, and talked about it!

Folks from Australia, Canada, Portugal and South Africa (as well as some SoCal city and county department folks) all came, interacted, shared experiences and concerns, and hopefully left with different experiences than they had before the Safety Summit.
When one talks about staying home and getting "emerging thoughts and technologies": the Safety Summit had as it's keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Thackaberry Ziegler, offering new and exciting ways to look at ourselves and our firefighting operations; Ed Hollenshead from your Agency talking about the new Doctrinal Foundation, and ways to apply it; and CDF SoCal Chief John Hawkins telling first-hand about the Cedar Fire that killed many (including FF Steve Rucker) and ripped across the landscape for days. This is "old School Thinking"?

Me, I'm with FC180 - glad I was there, and plan to be there again next time too!


5/2 Community--

Ken is asking for anyone interested in running with him during the daylight on June 2nd or 3rd, to please let us know asap.  This can include individuals or crews.  There are also needs for other volunteers for support during the run.  The positions are various, such as transportation, staging area managers, logistics type folks, etc.  If interested, please send an email stating your interest and what you may be able to provide.  As we identify the positions further, we'll provide a list of them.

And, Ken says for a $25 donation, he'll attach patches or logos on his running shirt/vest/caps!  These could be agencies, organizations, crews, or other company items.

Original Ab.

5/2 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated.

Red Truck Wildfire is looking for an engine boss in Region 4, Southwest Idaho. Please see the Jobs Page for info.


5/2 Ken Perry Ultra Run:


Thought I would send in a little update for They Said....

Well folks, it's exactly one month till the pledge run. This next month will be busy with the final planning. The key team positions are pretty much filled at this point, but we may be looking for a couple of more volunteers. The route is still not finalized yet, although it will be by the 5th. Once that is done, I will get that info to GIS girl, and she will make a map (and possibly a "fly by") of the route and post it here.

LA County fire is planning on hosting a BBQ at the finish line, and we would like to get an idea of how many people (runners and supporters) might be there, so we can procure food, etc. We would also like to know how many runners, bikers and others may be with us on the route.

This will be a 25 (or so) hr. event, so we are trying to figure out staging areas where runners can start from. It may be Fox Air Base, or Green Valley fire station. This kind of depends on the final route.

There will be a "things to bring" and "good stuff to know" etc. list that I will forward to this site and the WFF in the coming weeks.

Thanks to all the folks that are volunteering their time to help out with this cause. Thanks to the pledgers, and sponsors.

Hope to see you on June 2nd and 3rd.


If you haven't made your pledge, please do. Ken's Ultra Run Pledge Page Link also at top of this table. This supports our Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Ab.

5/2 Shari and Mellie

Hindsight bias was apparent during the Dude Fire Staff Ride, the first Ride in a successful learning program. Here is a comment I made to Ed Hollenshead during the post-ride review:

"I just read your comments. Insightful as always. I am finding the whole situation a little depressing in that people seem too quick to criticize based on hindsight. It is certainly one of the difficulties we face daily in litigation. It often seems impossible for people to think and analyze in real time when the outcome is known. If we do another Staff Ride, we need to restructure it if people are going to truly learn anything new from it. They should be learning how to deal with the next fire, not trying to figure out what really happened on the Dude Fire. We need to show them how to learn that - and I am not sure how to do that. I'll take your comments home and read them again when I have more time to reflect.

On the bright side, people are still thinking and talking (sometimes talking and then thinking, though) which will itself enhance firefighter safety over time, even if somewhat indirectly. Too bad the process is so painful. I am so glad people like you are strong enough to handle it."

In light of the hindsight bias research, we should educate future Riders that the powerful learning tool they are engaged in will inevitably influence them to condemn those who made decisions in real time, so they can temper their own thoughts and conclusions with the knowledge of how their own mind will try to bias them. We can give them the information and tools to help them through the process. I will send my thoughts along to Dave Thomas.

Old Sawyer

5/2 The 9th IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Summit is History!

This year's Safety Summit was co-hosted by LA County Fire, and held in Pasadena, California. It had an excellent program, leading off with a keynote address by Dr. Jennifer Thackaberry Ziegler (author of "Discursive Openings") and wrapped up with an incredible presentation by CDF Chief John Hawkins of "An IC's perspectives of the Cedar Fire".
Then, an optional "Staff Ride" on the Loop Fire with Gordon King (El Cariso Supe in 1966) and former Dalton Hotshot Supe Chuck Hartley finished the week. For those of us lucky enough to go on the Staff Ride, it will never be forgotten.
Attendees included folks from Portugal, Australia, Canada and even 3 folks from South Africa, as well as the US.
The next IAWF Safety Summit is tentatively scheduled for early 2008 in the Southeastern US - see you there!

Dick Mangan
President, 2004-2006
International Assoc. of Wildland fire

5/1 Old Sawyer,

You never cease to amaze me. You’ve been more helpful than you’ll ever know.

Thank you.

Shari Downhill
5/1 FC180,

Thanks for your post.

I have asked that question also, just in a different way, ... you asked,

"Where were you all? There was so much to learn and see, and you missed it. I guess for the same reasons that Foresters and Fire Wardens annual meeting attendance is falling."

My paraphrase is, "Why have people not been flocking to conferences that MAY improve wildland firefighter safety?"

A few recent articles in a wildland fire magazine turned me away. I would rather focus on training my folks, listening to emerging thoughts and technology, and meeting my fuels management targets. Personally, there has been too much "old school" thinking on basic subjects rather than concentrating on the advanced.

Wildland Firefighter 101... Keep the Troops Safe.....

Wildland Fireifghter 606... Keep the Troops Safer..... Advanced Degree Required OR management experience in mitigating ALL risks. (Don't confuse "ALL risks" with ALL RISK).

FC180, you said, "You can lead a horse to water...".... which one of "us" knows how to make them drink?... It depends upon their desire to research and learn, and accept new ideas.

It depends upon the audience and the intended purpose.


P.S. - There hasn't been a Forest Service burn over fatality in Southern California since 1981. Folks have learned a lesson (I Hope).

P.S.S - I met Gordon King at the Del Rosa HS reunion for the first time.... His soul and spirit are why WE all need to keep people safe..... He is an excellent educator and a survivor.... He was there... he had to recover, and take the drive home that none of us would ever want to endure.

He is a leader I would want to know.

5/1 I have been checking up on whose question I haven't answered and who I haven't responded to... Sometimes life gets pretty crazy busy.

Shep, thanks for the great comments on the 1918 pandemic! I would like to see those photos. Mike Whalen, IC for the NV 1 Team, has similar photos he took in SE LA during a Katrina assignment. He's promised to send those photos to me.

It was great to meet so many of the Great Basin team folks at the team meetings -- except I missed Rowdy -- he was zigging when I was zagging...

Shari, you asked a long time back (I had to go out of town just as you were writing and I didn't reply...) --gee, it was 3/24 -- sorry. You said...

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

Autism is a neurological disorder of language and communication in which the person is unable to read nonverbal language cues and/ or unable to express themselves. It presents across a spectrum of disorder. The origin is unknown. I don't know that I would use autism as an analogy to the physiological and psychological changes that occur under stress as Gladwell did.

When under extreme stress the brain gets overloaded and short term memory is not consolidated into long term memory. Among other body reactions, blood pressure rises with blood flow restricted to the body core. Epinephrine (adrenalin) blocks the memory consolidation process at the hippocampus. As a result of the physiological changes related to stress people, often don't remember what happened, and may reconstruct what they think was likely to have happened based on bits and pieces of memory they then fill in with prior experience. Mind blindness, I guess you could describe it that way. People also get tunnel vision. The sense that is most important for survival is often amplified, while others are minimized. Under extreme stress, you are not functioning normally.

Two people I know who have written and spoken most extensively about this work with the military, the police/highway patrol and others in high stress jobs where lives are at stake. Both are excellent speakers.

  1. Safety Expert Dr. Gordon Graham (the "Predictable is Preventable" guy) has spoken several times at the Chief Officers Meeting, one time on the adrenalin (epinephrine) reaction and the nor-epinephrine dump following the stressor. Nerd on the Fireline made a graphic for it on Familysaid once upon a time after she had read something by him or heard one of his presentations.
  2. Dave Grossman (Lt. Col., ret ranger) is a highly respected PhD stress psychologist who teaches or taught at West Point. He works with the military and knows the physiological reactions that occur under stress that can put people at risk in a dangerous environment. I heard him speak on The Bulletproof Mind (2000 or 2001?) then picked up his book to read On Combat, the Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace (2004). I highly recommend it.

I believe Gladwell must have heard about the work of these two people. His book Blink – The Power of thinking without thinking is mighty fine as well, but not nearly so gripping as Grossman's writing. (Yactac recommended Tipping Point and Blink to me as a follow-up to Deep Survival... I just love some of those fire chat conversations.)

Enough for now. These conversations could go on forever!


5/1 West Texas IA Briefing Paper (pdf file)

Please share with any resources who may be mobilized to West Texas.

Through a couple of steps, from Joe Ferguson, Assistant Director - Operations, FAM, Southern Region

Thanks for sending that in. It's a shame we lost a dozer operator. Be safe all. Ab.

5/1 Mellie,

I did some more research on hindsight bias and these are my conclusions with links to the sources:

The problem:

- Hindsight bias naturally results from knowing the outcome of a situation. The mind uses outcome knowledge to judge or learn from the past - to make sense of it. People are generally unaware of the effect outcome knowledge has on their perceptions. Even if they are made aware of hindsight bias and attempt to reduce it, it cannot be eliminated, because the mind cannot ignore the truth of a known outcome when trying to judge an act, omission or decision in real time. See e.g., “Hindsight ≠Foresight: The effect of outcome knowledge on judgment under uncertainty”, B. Fischoff 1975 (Abstract with link to full article):


-Hindsight bias has significant legal implications in determining liability, fault, or blame, bordering on creation of strict liability for an actor implicated in a bad outcome, judged by a person with knowledge of that outcome. Knowledge of subsequent remedial measures can also increase hindsight bias. Hindsight bias has been found to increase in group settings. Most strategies to de-bias people including judges and juries are ineffective, but suggestions are made in this article concerning litigation techniques. Fully informing the decision maker of the cause and effect of hindsight bias is important. See e.g., “Hindsight Bias and the Subsequent Remedial Measures Rule: Fixing the Feasibility Exception”, K. Eberwine 2005:


-While Eberwine’s article suggests that the use of “counterfactuals” (if only X, there would have been a different outcome) may help reduce hindsight bias, studies indicate that counterfactuals actually increase hindsight bias. Counterfactuals ask the mind to disregard knowledge of what actually happened, the truth, in place of a falsehood, which simply cannot be done for the same reason that hindsight bias exists in the first place. However, the use of “semifactuals, (even if X, the outcome would have been the same) does not increase hindsight bias, because it does not ask the mind to replace the true outcome with a false outcome - the known outcome stays in place. The issue is particularly important in efforts to find the cause(s) of a bad outcome. Use of semifactuals does not eliminate hindsight bias, just does not make it worse. See e.g., “Counterfactuals, Causal Attributions, and the! Hindsight Bias: A Conceptual Integration”, N. Roese and J. Olson, 1996:


-Attempts to debias hindsight with counterfactuals - forcing people to think about alternative outcomes, can backfire. One study found that people can be asked to consider one or two simple alternative outcomes (counterfactuals) without increasing hindsight bias, but when people were asked to consider ten alternatives which could have changed the outcome, hindsight bias was increased. In other words, the harder you try to debias hindsight the worse you can make it. “When Debiasing backfires: Accessible Content and Accessibility Experiences in Debiasing Hindsight”, L. Sanna, et al. 2002:


-Similarly, when people are shown computer animated re-enactments, hindsight bias is increased. “Computer animations used in court colored by bias, researchers say”, J Barlow, 2006:


-One strategy when asking people to judge past events, is to use the semifactual “even if” rather than the counterfactual “if only”, since the semifactual method allows the “judge” to consider the antecedent act, omission or decision without trying to force the mind to accept an outcome other than the known true outcome. These concepts have the same impact on self-blame as they do on determinations of fault or liability. See e.g., “Semifactual “even if” Thinking”, R. McCloy and R. Byrne, 2002:



-Whether in litigation, accident investigation, self-analysis or any other judgmental context, the “judge” needs to be fully informed of the mechanism of hindsight bias, its causes and effects. Activities which can increase hindsight bias should be avoided, such as exploring a lot of difficult counterfactuals or viewing re-creations of the event at issue. Efforts should be made to debias the process . Hindsight bias cannot be eliminated but should be reduced whenever possible. There are numerous other biases which affect our judgment as well, which would be helpful to understand in order to improve our decisions.

Old Sawyer

5/1 Announced on this mornings conference call. Q-man is retiring on May 31st.


Sorry to hear the Ray Quintanar is retiring. We wish him the BEST. Ab.

5/1 A number of people have been asking to have and/or use a copy of the pandemic
flu powerpoint I have presented at safety and team meetings, and about the
handouts I provided.

You may use my powerpoint. Ab gave me permission to make it available on
wildlandfire.com. You can download it here:
The handout I provided is also available here:

Creating this slide show took a lot of my time. I am making it available for
educational purposes and have chosen not to charge a fee for my time. However,
I ask that if you find it valuable to you, in return for using it or part of it, please
donate $10 or more (or whatever amount you like) to the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation. A check is fine. Your donation is tax deductible. As most here
know, the Foundation helps families of wildland firefighters across the nation
who die or are hurt on the fireline. www.wffoundation.org/index.phpl

Address and phone number below:
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way
Boise, Idaho 83705
Ph (208) 336-2996


5/1 LCES All Risk:

Just some observations about telephone communications. On 9-11-01 cell phone communications were difficult and regional phone calling was impossible from my area. The only was to contact our head quarters (25 miles away) was by radio. The only thing that was dependable that day was our antique VHF radio repeaters and fire look out system (we used to be able to brag that you could see The Twin Towers from several of the lookouts). If we had lost electric we could have still been able to communicate State wide with human repeaters in the towers.

We still don't use computers for any of our dispatching. In some cases it still pays to be in the Stone Age.

On another note, I seem to recall the during the first Trade Center bombing, in the early 1990's, there were also some disruptions (ATMs etc.) regionally.

Bill E.

5/1 Vickie Minor and the IAWF Executive Staff:

We had the unforgettable experience of learning from Gordon King last week at
the Loop Fire Staff Ride, part of the Wildland Fire Safety Summit. He was
eloquent and willing to share his experiences with us in a way that can
never be repaid. When his book is published I will be sure and have a first
edition. It is one thing to read about an incident, its another to visit
the ground and see the site, but it is something all together different to
have not one but three eyewitnesses to history there for your benefit.
Thanks to Mr. King, Chuck Hartley and Cliff Johnson.

The Safety Summit in Pasadena, CA was excellent and everything I expected.
My only disappointment was how poorly attended this conference was in the
heart of the "year round fire season" with arguably the highest density of
fatality fires anywhere. There are more wildland firefighters per square
mile here than anywhere in the world. Where were you all? There was so
much to learn and see, and you missed it. I guess for the same reasons that
Foresters and Fire Wardens annual meeting attendance is falling. You can
lead a horse to water... Everyone talks like they are a student of fire,
but you all are truant.

FC 180
5/1 Mellie, we can still dispatch, just have to go back to the good ol' days,
with radios & telephones & hard copies. Honestly, things move much
quicker, and you dont have to stress out about the ROSS working bar.....
ROSS not working fast enough.....

ol' dispatcher
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