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July, 2006

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7/31 We offer our thanks to buffy for bringing to our attention there was a lack of navigation once folks entered the Hotlist Forum. While we take some small bit of pride in trying to think "outside the box", it seems in this case we'd failed to provide our audience a way out of one.

And to the person advising us that They Said It would be easier to read if it was just black text on a white background, we reply, "but then you couldn't walk down government hallways peering in the doors and seeing that nice yellow/orange glow reflected on the face and eyes of those watching you pass."

We appreciate and look forward to our viewers' input. Without your participation we wouldn't be here. As we conclude the end of this last day of the month of July, we are pleased to see that we have again achieved new highs for new visitors, returning visitors, and pages viewed. While we may have lost one argumentative writer from Montana and another writer who swore to never come back because we refused to post their hostile comments, at the same time we're happy to welcome several thousand new viewers.

As we near our tenth year of commitment to providing a communication link to what you all think is important and feel strongly about, we feel we must be do'in something right. Thanks again to buffy for pointing out our lack of thought!

OA.
7/31 Anybody notice the Happy Camp Complex on the Klamath? Almost ran screaming from the room when I saw that one on the Sit Report! Still scarred from Happy Camp Complex ca. 1987. Who remembers that one? The source of some of my most surreal fire experiences. I wonder if it is as smoky this time?

GG Fire
7/31 Ab & All,

Like many others, I have been wondering what, if anything, is happening with Doctrine. The NIFC Doctrine website hasn’t changed in months. I recently heard from a usually reputable source that the Aviation Doctrine developed in January 2006 at the second Pulaski Conference was gutted by our national (ahem) leadership to the point it was no longer recognizable. Is this why it hasn’t been added to the Doctrine info on the NIFC FS site? Is real Doctrine achievable under Mark Rey and the present administration? Will the next Pulaski Conference happen even if the Aviation Doctrine isn’t incorporated with the original? Is Doctrine dead? Does anybody care?

Misery Whip
7/31 An Interagency Aviation Safety Alert just came in. Ab.

Discussion: A review of recently reported SAFECOMs indicates that a trend is becoming evident;
pre-flight inspections are not being thoroughly completed, and checklists are not being utilized. This of
course is not true in every case, but it is occurring with enough regularity that it warrants attention.
Several of the following incidents could have been prevented with proper pre-flight inspections and by
using checklists. Fatigue, complacency or a false sense of urgency to accomplish a mission can all be
contributing factors in incomplete pre-flight inspections or failure to use a checklist.
A few recent incidents include: pilots taking off without checking fuel, starting helicopters with rotors
tied down, loose fuel caps, unlatched windows, and doors not properly shut. Many of these incidents
could have had severe consequences. The following excerpts are from a few of the SAFECOMS:

Click here to read the rest of the pdf file of the alert. Ab.

7/31 Ab,

New GAO Report:

Wildland Fire Rehabilitation and Restoration: Forest Service and BLM Could Benefit from
Improved Information on Status of Needed Work GAO-06-670, June 30, 2006
Abstract Highlights-PDF   PDF

Govt Watcher

7/31 July 21, 2006   [Proposed Rules]
Reemployment of Civilian Retirees To Meet Exceptional Employment Needs

SUMMARY: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is issuing proposed regulations to amend the criteria under which OPM may grant dual compensation (salary off-set) waivers on a case-by-case basis, or delegate waiver authority to agencies. This amendment clarifies that OPM may grant or delegate to agencies the authority to grant such waivers in situations resulting from emergencies posing an immediate and direct threat to life or property or situations resulting from unusual circumstances that do not involve an emergency.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janice Warren, 202-606-2367 or e-mail: janice.warren@opm.gov
[PDFPDF File Icon[75 KB] or TEXTHTML file Icon]

7/31 Apologies:

Here is my list:
To Joe Hill, I am sorry that I even spoke up and by not having "Your" strong intellectual mind.
Original AB, I am sorry that I do not have your writing ability.
"Signed", I am sorry for not being quiet and offending you.
FireFighters Back FireFighters, I am sorry for making you upset.
YM, I am sorry that you hate landowners so much that you had to criticize them on this site. I am sorry for making you do that.
I thought we could all step back and try to take a look outside the box from a different angle, but I was wrong and I have the courage to admit it.
We all risk our lives no matter if we are paid or not.

Cris

7/31 Ab,

Firefighters are getting tired, worn down and sometimes need to hydrate more than they have been doing. SoCal had problems with firefighters dealing with 100+ temps. Hot days and cold nights in NorCal make people susceptible to colds. It has been cold at night in norcal and hot during the day.

Here are a couple of useful sites relating to these issues. Heads up.

§ Heat Stress: www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/fitness/heat_stress//hs_pg1.html
§ Fatigue Intro: www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/h_s_rpts/spring_2002/fatigue.htm
§ Signs of Fatigue: www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/h_s_rpts/spring_2002/signs.htm

Todd

7/31 Jody,

"Disengage" has fallen out of favor, at least from the agency perspective. Here's a pretty good explanation from a Safety Zone newsletter from last year: www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/council/newsletters/sept_05/sep05.html

Disengagement got to be a real big problem during the 2002 fire season, in the aftermath of Thirtymile. Crews could say they were "disengaging for safety reasons" and take the rest of the day off at firecamp, or somewhere else in the shade. The DRAW-D concept allows us to address safety concerns and mitigate risks without abandoning the fight entirely.

And, yes, we are all related to Nerd. She's a sister to about a million firefighters around the country, which must make it real tough for her to get a date.

vfd cap'n

Nice page explaining levels of engagement. HAW HAW on the Nerd comment. Not true, but funny. Ab.

7/31 Re: Jody "Let Burn" and "Monitor"

Thanks 2cents for prescribed fire definitions. That's what I thought about "let it burn" (bad word, bad, bad).
I have a friend who thinks we should let most fires burn. Nice guy but he doesn't really know much about fire. (I didn't either before my summerjob last year. Still don't know much, but know how to sharpen a pulaski.) Anyways, I've been trying to educate him and I'm trying to talk him into fighting fire next summer...

What about wildfire (not prescribed fire) that is described as being "monitored" and having no active ground pounding or air show going on? Other day I heard some residents in Redding (near the norcali fires) saying "they're just letting it burn". I told them it wasn't a matter of "letting", it was the reality that there were no resources to do anything more than watch the fire and make plans for if they got those hotshot crews or that airtanker they needed. People assume we have enough fire resources to protect anything. If only they knew...

Jody

7/31 Re: Jody "Let Burn" and "Monitor"

Let me try to explain this, as I am from a forest that
is very WFU Wildland Fire Use oriented. The term "let
burn" or "let it burn" was used by firefighters back
when PNF Prescribed Natural Fires were the rage. It's
a term that stuck, but was and is very out of place in
today's WFU fires. These type of fires are managed for
resource benefits, and not left to "let burn". Trigger
points are set by management teams, where if certain
events occur or the fire gets to a certain ridge then
pre-identified actions will occur, IE lines put in to
redirect, backfires lit to prevent it from escaping
predefined boundaries. And yes, fire will always be
monitored. Sometimes the monitoring is an overflight
every 3 days, or a crew hikes in to check it every
couple days. It depends on the incident. Our forest
has had WFU fire that are a 1/10 acre and we have had
multiple 5000+ acre complexes going at the same time.
The terms "Let Burn" or "Let it Burn" should be
removed from the firefighters vocabulary. Fires are
"Managed".

Someone else can explain the engage/disengage.

Hope this helps.
Sign me, My 2cents

7/31 Lancer212,

You asked,

What happens when the school year begins and the troops start heading
back to class? Does the FS have another hiring phase?

That is usually about the time we are at preparedness level 5. You can work it from there I bet.

lol

KD

7/31 Ab,

I'm fairly new to fire and trying to understand nuances of some terms. It's interesting to me how they're used by firefighters, if they are, and how the public might "take them".

What are the differences between "let burn" and "monitor". Monitoring just means watching the fire, right?

  • It's associated with prescribed fire "for resource use".
  • It might also be watching the fire because that's all you can do.

When do you quit monitoring? Is monitoring a strategy or a tactic?

Do we ever just "let it burn"?

What about "disengage". It might sound bad to the public that is in a panic, like we're not trying, but on the ground we do need to disengage or back off from a fire sometimes. The fire orders are rules of engagement and disengagement, like the right tactics to apply if the fire changes.

Jody,
(I think I'm related to Nerd on the Fireline)

7/31 Heads up on the weather that could seriously influence the NorCal fires. There was a weather conference call yesterday. Meteorologists are predicting thunder cells and dry lightning to accompany a new front. They're predicted to begin this evening. We saw the wispy high "mares tales" clouds yesterday that predict the front's arrival within a day or two.

Be safe. Stay alert to the weather.

NorCal Tom

7/31 Ab and ALL,

Here is the link for MSNBC, to nominate Vicki Minor and the WFFF for their GREAT
Support to the Wildland Fire Service Community. www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10397946/

Retired BC

7/31 To Chris (PFC), Mollysboy, and Misery Whip.

I have actually enjoyed the last bit of postings by you all. Chris, your posting did push a lot of buttons, and that is a good thing. Being an Engine Boss for the USFS in Western North Dakota, I have dealt with a lot of pissed of Ranchers. Most of them are not happy with big Government in the first place, as most of them deal with us on grazing issues, and if the fire started on their own property, they are afraid we are going to charge them for the cost.

The local FS ranger stations are a little more aware of the issues, politics and personalities. In North Dakota, many of the issues are being worked through because of us offering training in the winter for some of the local fire departments. I still see volunteer fire departments and locals doing things on the fireline that scare me and make me worry about their safety. I know some of you might say that we should throw the safety hazard people off of the fireline, but how do you throw a rancher off of his own property? You need a local sheriff for that. I had a rancher inform me that he had been fighting fire in this country for thirty years. I did not tell him that in my 11 years as a fire fighter, I had probably seen 5 times as much fire. What the rancher sees is a younger government guy in a Fed rig coming to intrude further in his life. Sometimes the best you can do is assume the worst, keep your situation awareness up and have about seven escape routes.

When you get into larger fires that require an Incident Management Team, politics take on a whole different level. While being a FOBS on the Roberts Complex in Glacier National Park, I watched a team make some big political blunders while dealing with the locals. The IMT was from California and was used to doing things like they would in California. The team did well with dealing with the tactics and strategy of dealing with the fire, but at their level, They have to be aware of the political landscape and have tactics and strategy to deal with that. Much cussing ensued, and many of the local and state resources pulled out of dealing with the IMT. Most of what I saw was silliness from both sides. Regardless, politics are an issue on the fire and have to be dealt with. By the sounds of both Mollysboy and Misery Whips post, they deal with the politics regularly and probably have a better opinion than mine.

As for rebuilding fence, I did a bunch of that on the Clear Creak Fire in Idaho a few years back. Funny thing is, I was rebuilding it after a hotshot crew did it. They made a lot of rookie mistakes! :>) I think most hotshots like to build fireline rather than fenceline!

Also, on the Clear Creak Fire, I got to work with a bunch of Marines that were sent out from North Carolina to help fight fires in 2000. Being former Active duty Navy and a Navy reservist, the "Squid" and "Jarhead" Jokes were flying! I had a great time working with them.

Sign Me

Domaque (PO1)

Thanks for the informative perspective, Domaque. Ab.

7/31 Misery Whip I did forget one more thing.
10 years volunteer fighting fires. This fall 11.
Full time volunteer for 5years as President and the most highly trained firefighter in our company. Also looking at FF1 academy.
Cris
7/30 silly silly silly silly postings lately with the
exception of sylvia's idea. come on folks let's focus
on things that really matter. let's not let some
poster hijack this forum with nonsense. don't reply
to the chuckle heads who obviously just want
attention.

hey sylvia, i'll get my friends to nominate vicki.
any other takers?

jd

MSNBC.com, click Nightly News in the top center, then in the left column, click Making a Difference.

7/30 7107 you have a problem: your system says "User unknown"... when I reply to sender.
7/30 Ab,

What happens when the school year begins and the troops start heading
back to class? Does the FS have another hiring phase?

Lancer 212

7/30 Ab:

I've emailed before but it wasn't posted, so I am trying this way. If you received it and chose not to post, please disregard; however, here goes:

There is a segment of NBC Nightly News that showcases individuals who are "Making a Difference" I have nominated Vicki Minor from Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The creation of the Foundation from the dust left of fires following Storm King, to the Foundation today is a story of worth letting the world know. We all know that through her efforts, the families and survivors of the fallen and injured benefit greatly, financially and emotionally. Her heart is far bigger than any fire, and the spirit-fire within her burns with the intensity of many suns.

I am asking that anyone who has benefited from the huge hearts of the Foundation and the people who work there, to please go to the Making a Difference site and nominate her as well. More than one nomination may pique their interest.

I am not very computer savvy, But I know that your computer gurus will be able to provide a link to the page. First, it's MSNBC.com, click Nightly News in the top center, then in the left column, click Making a Difference.

A few days ago was the fourth anniversary of the Stanza Fire engine rollover. My daughter, Heather, died that night in 2002, along with Steve and John. Vicki and the foundation's efforts have been essential to my journey toward healing, and my very survival. I know that I am not the only one who feels that way, and this venue seems to be a good way to get this information out.

I also know that Vicki is far too humble to think that she should be singled out in such a way, but if she had not prayed to the firegods and the spirits of those burned over on Storm King, this wonderful organization, and the monument, would not be.

What better way to honor the men and women of all of the Storm Kings and Stanzas past and future, than to make known to the world the person responsible for the Foundation. Perhaps it may even generate much needed financial support so that the Foundation can grow and continue to help others.

Respectfully,

Sylvia Kratzke
PS: Remember to join the 52 Club, everyone

Great idea Sylvia; I'll do it. Vicki deserves it. The Foundation she envisioned and made real demonstrates its value daily.

I know that with the fire raging around Orleans this last week, I've thought often of our three firefighters who died on the Stanza. Having the IC pull his firefighters off the Orleans complex of fires as they exceeded safe capabilities to fight them-- well -- it made me think that Heather, John & Steve were up there watching out and guiding the process. This Ab will not forget them. They live on in many hearts and minds.

7/30 Ab, I agree, just one more thought, please.........

Cris, this is not about hay, horses, land, crops, Montana, politics, Federal Firefighters, strategy, tactics or the Augusta IHC. This is about inappropriate actions by a person to another person(s). This is about respect and how we interact with each other.

Presidents, Senators, FMO's, IHC Supts and Firefighters are all humans and can make mistakes. A Leader will acknowledge the mistake, learn from the mistake and apologize for the mistake.

The views expressed in this forum about the Senators actions would be the same if it was a Forest Service FFMO or Division Supv who went on a rant.

Cris, if you know the Senator or someone in the Senators office, and you think he should apologize call them and express your support for Sen Burns, however recommend to them that the Senator should call the local unit, or plan a trip to Va. the next time he's in DC to meet with the IHC.

Read David M. Shoup's, General, US Marine Corp write up on making mistakes. Basically, if one does not make a mistake, they are usually not in the game, or not out in front trying to improve how the game is being played.

The Senator needs an opportunity to show leadership by picking up the phone and doing the right thing.

Sign,

My thoughts............
7/30 Ab note to the person with the invalid email addy (has data.com in it): I will not post your emails unless we can dialog about their content. Email me from an account I can reply to and we can have a little talk. Ab.
7/30 Ab,

Here's something I find interesting. Take a look at the regional FS Fire & Aviation homepage links below. The R3 Southwest and R2 Rocky Mountain both re-direct to interagency pages hosted by NIFC. The R8 Southern link is only an index of folders and files. Many of the regions have information about getting hired as a seasonal fed firefighter, but R1 Northern Rockies page is almost exclusively devoted to helping people become contractors

For people in Montana, that may just be a reflection of (or may foster) an attitude of dissatisfaction with out-of-state resources or Boise involvement.

vfd cap'n

http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/fire/
http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/fire/
http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/
http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/fire/
http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/
http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/fire/
http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/fire/
http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/fire/
7/29 Ab,

Thanks for the info on Bill. He was an HFEO for me for five years and was a great hand. He knew fire, mechanics, farming and how to just be a genuine good hand. I do thank God for the time I worked with Bill and we'll keep him in our prayers. His Nur Ranch business card describes "Two Country Nuts" for him and Lois. That is a great sense of humor too.

Norm Silver, BC Retired CDF

7/29 To All Firefighters Past and Present,

We need alot prayers and get well cards for a retired CDFer, Bill Buntain. Bill is very ill right now, he had surgery last week to remove a cancerous tumor and is fighting to stay around for a couple more years. We were down there yesterday in Red Bluff to visit with Bill and his Dear Wife Lois. Lois would sure appreciate alot of prayers and some get well cards for Bill.

Bill spent 25 years with CDF in Tehama County, and has been retired for 21 years. He was a Heavy Equipment Mechanic and Dozer Operator on many fires throughout the state. Bill is 78 years old and one tough guy, but like I said, he is very ill. Bill is home for a few days to recoup, then hopefully they will be able to begin Chemo.. if all works out.

Please send get well cards to:
Bill Buntain
22080 Riverside Ave
Red Bluff, CA 96080

Thank You Kindly,

K & H

Best wishes. Ab.

7/29 OK Folks,

It's been fun while it lasted, but it's time to put this Burns thread to bed.

Ab.

7/29 Misery Whip,
Try age mid 30's. Basic, Intermediate,S-290,S-230,S-231. 2 kids, never red carded. Kids need to be older before I do that. Plans for IC this winter. Honorable Discharge 12 years ago. I won't go into the rest of my "Full" life, just will say this; I cherish each breath of air I breathe and I'm glad I'm a survivor.
It looks like my posts pushed alot of buttons.
Life goes on. We can all agree to disagree.
See ya on the next round.
Cris
7/29 cris-

you said

So which one of the hot shot crews is going to help rebuild the fences
lost? Which one of you is going to buy or donate hay so they can feed
their stock?
(We are donating 2 tons of hay to anybody who needs it)
What about the rest of you?

I can barely afford my 1/4 acre and my 900 square foot house working hard
at a govt job. I am not inclined to donate anything to millionaire
"ranchers" because their grass (that will grow back) and their fences were
burned by grass fires that are part of the land they work. If they work on
the range, and aren't prepared for range fires, they deserve whatever
situation they're in.

Yes, I have been out on a lot of ranch fires, and dealt with a ton of
hostile ranchers, many of whom roll around their giant properties, back to
their 300 or 400,000 houses in brand new 1 ton trucks that cost about half
what I paid for my house.

I will work my a$$ off fighting fire because it's something I love to do,
not because of any sympathy I have for the foolish people who live in the
interface and flip out when the government rescue provided to them at no
cost does not meet their standards. The ranchers' attitude seems to be that
they're owed something by the government they hate, and work to minimize.
Perhaps the ranchers who are in such a "hardship" could sell the 40,000
truck and the giant houses and the million dollar land in order to make
ends meet? If they had a federal engine and crew staged near their land
for IA, they'd bitch about that too, it's the rancher's paradox, they bleed
the federal government for cheap grazing and agricultural subsidies and
complain about fire protection but will vote for low-tax small government
representatives every time.

You seem to rely on people's ignorance of how ranchers live, like the "old
western" struggling-rancher cow-camp BS...I haven't seen a struggling
rancher in 20 years-every one I see is in a shiny new truck heading back
to a million dollar property... no sympathy here.

Think about this: how many times have you had to negotiate with or pay a
hostile landowner for "land use" or "water use" to fight a fire on or
threatening their land.... I have seen this a great many times.

and hotshots should not be building rancher's fences for them at
PL5... sheesh.

-YM

7/29 Hey Cris,

Why don't you call Conrad and tell him to put his boots on and help build some fence. If he is so worried about the ranchers, I am sure he can take some time out of his busy schedule to help out.

Good for you for helping out donating hay, I think that is called helping out in YOUR community. It's a little hard for the rest of us who don't live in Montana to help build fence or donate. That would be like me asking you to come out to California and help build over 100 hundred homes that were lost in the San Bernardino fires a few weeks ago?

I hope you can see were this is going.....

An-R5er
7/29 More backsliding from Conrad; from today’s Billings Gazette:

www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2006/07/29/news/state/30-burns.txt

Now he says there was “no anger” during the described “altercation” with the Augusta Hotshots. I’m starting to wonder what it was that he apologized for in the first place.

The original article described an apparently belligerent Burns confronting the Augusta crew in the Billings airport. It also said other Forest Service employees were alarmed enough to call Paula Rosenthal, which is what brought this matter to public attention. The Burns quotes after the incident indicate he was still angry enough to make critical comments to Ms. Rosenthal about firefighters sitting around and being “wasteful.” I would really like to know what actually transpired between Conrad & the hotshots.

I also wonder if the Augusta crew isn’t commenting because they prefer not to or because some gubmint official is telling them to keep quiet. How about it? Would anyone who was there care to comment? Remember, you can post here anonymously on your own computer on your own time and there isn’t a damn thing the gubmint can do about it.

Mollysboy,

Good response to PFC Cris.

PFC Cris,

I’ve seen your posts here recently and have begun to form a mental image of you based on your posts. Correct me if I’m wrong; my guess is that you’re pretty young, about mid twenties or less, without a lot of wildland fire experience, probably red-carded as a Firefighter Type 1 or 2. Sounds like you work part-time for a small rural or volunteer fire department in eastern Montana. Also, based on your PFC signature and other clues, I’d guess that you probably recently completed your service with the Marines. If I’m correct so far, good on ya. This country needs people who are willing to step up. Again, please correct me if my assumptions about you based on your posts are wrong.

As a former serviceman and firefighter, you are certainly welcome to express your opinions on this site. But it might behoove you to know that some of the people you are presuming to lecture here have probably been fighting fire longer than you have been alive. Many of them work on Type 1 & 2 IMTs. Your assumption that other They Said posters haven’t ever been exposed to angry ranchers with burned up properties is just downright silly.

Mollysboy said it well; anyone who has been in this business any length of time has seen on many occasions the grief and disappointment that comes in the aftermath of a large WUI fire. But we don’t quit fighting fire safely, no matter what angry landowners, or ignorant Senators, say.

If you continue your career as a firefighter, you’ll find that landowners berating the government and making outrageous statements about firefighter performance comes with the territory. Powerful politicians verbally abusing hardworking firefighters who have nothing to do with the strategic decisions on a fire is NOT normal. This is an aberration and deserves our strongest contempt.

You are certainly welcome to defend Conrad if you feel you need to. Just don’t forget that you will be judged by the company you keep (or defend).

Misery Whip
7/29 Paula,

You wrote in your report about a couple killed in a fire on their own land but couldn't remember the incident.
The couple died almost 10 years ago, Labor Day weekend. They were in fine fuels when the truck they were in got a flat tire, while changing it the wind shifted direction and over came the truck.
How do I remember it so well? That same weekend an arsonist came through our area and started 13 fires. Talk to D. Williams for more info.

Cris

7/29 Cris (PFC),

In response to "Senators criticizing returning troops about a "poor" job. That has already happened. Where were you? They just didn't have the guts to face them and do it."

I am well aware of the actions of some of our distinguished members of congress. My point wasn't about "guts", it was about your weak point about "freedom of speech" and "speaking their mind". As it was already pointed out, the good senator was an out of line, spoiled brat, rude, bully that hid behind his status as a senator. If you can't see that it's a waste of time to try and explain any further. Good luck with your Type 6.

"Firefighters back Firefighters"
7/29 Joe Hill,

Our loyalty was not sold "cheaply" as you say for a new truck. Out of three (3) representatives for our state only Conrad wrote back to us to show his support of our request for a grant to buy that new truck.

As I asked before, but none of you answered, when was the last time you had a landowner in your rig or dealt with that person who not only lost a years worth of hard work in just a few moments, but now has to face the prospect of cleaning up the mess?

Conrad spoke with the people most affected in the fires and had lost the most. So which one of the hot shot crews is going to help rebuild the fences lost? Which one of you is going to buy or donate hay so they can feed their stock?
(We are donating 2 tons of hay to anybody who needs it)
What about the rest of you?

I got an idea take off your fire boots and go walk a couple miles in their boots.

Conrad spoke to the landowners and got mad because they were mad.

So which one of you talked to the landowners and found out the best place to set up a defense? No one?

Conrad is still a good man in my book no matter what. He speaks his mind no matter what. To me that's better then a fence sitting person who can't answer a straight question.

FireFighters back FireFighters,

Your remark about Senators criticizing returning troops about a "poor" job. That has already happened. Where were you? They just didn't have the guts to face them and do it.

It is also amazing that people are demanding that he he become responsible for his words, but if any of you finally decide to look back in the achives here, why don't you look up where you were all demanding someone take responsibility for their actions that caused the loss of life in a fire blow up.

All his words did is cause hurt feelings, but their actions caused loss of life. So which is worse?

Cris

7/29 PFC Cris,

It's good to hear that Conrad Burns helped your department get some much needed fire equipment like a Type 6 engine. I'm sure that if your department has a legitimate need for continued Federal support that Senator Jon Tester will be the first in line to support those needs.

You made some assumptions about my background ("I guess you have never had a pissed off land owner in your rig with you before....."), and so I probably need to fill in a few blanks. Yeah, I've had lots of pissed off land owners in my rig before: for 13 years, I was in Fire with the USFS in some super-conservative, Fed-hating ranching communities in Eastern Oregon. I not only heard from them from the front seats of rigs, but also after church on Sunday, at Little League baseball games, at PTA meetings, in the pizza parlor/beer hall, at County Fair and at the cattle auction yard, See, I raise cows, irrigate and put up hay, so those pissed off landowners are my friends and neighbors too! In addition to that, I've been doing the Ops Chief 1 job on National IMTs since 1986, and have been yelled and screamed at by the best of them, from "Biscuit" to "Big Bar" to the "Sunrise fire" on Long island New York.

You're proud of being a Marine, and rightfully so! I spent 3+ years on active duty with the US Army during the VietNam era (1968-1972), and another 25 years in the National Guard. I feel a strong sense of loyalty to them as a large group, but totally disassociate myself from other Army vets like Lt. William Calley (ever hear about My Lai?), or the ex-Army wacko that blew up the Fed Building in Oklahoma City. The same for those Army troops that disgrace the uniform in Abu Graib or rape and kill little girls in Haditha.

You ask if I know Conrad: well, I've lived and worked in Montana the entire time that he's been in the US Senate, and have shaken his hand on several occasions . Montana is a small State with less than 1 million folks, so our Senators are always close to us, and their votes on each Bill is reported weekly in my local paper. So yeah, I think I know Conrad!
Lastly, you say that Conrad represents the land owners and not "out-of-staters": BULL!

He's a Senator that is supposed to not only represent Montanans (which includes alot of wildland firefighters that aren't "landowners"), but he's also a member of an elite group of 100 women and men that are supposed to do the right thing for all the citizens of the US, not just big ranchers in eastern Montana that contribute to his campaign fund.

But the real issue here is not if Conrad was a good Marine or if I've ridden with pissed off landowners: the issue is that a US Senator abused his power to intimidate and belittle some USFS firefighters who really couldn't fight back. If Conrad went into a bar outside of Camp Pendleton and bad-mouthed the Marines, US Senator or not, he'd be wearing his teeth on a necklace.

My votes are for the Augusta IHC, and soon-to-be Senator Jon Tester.

Mollysboy

7/29 Thank you to those who replied with the thermo-gel info.

A friend of mine with San Bernardino County Fire (Sawtooth and Millard, not to mention the Old Fire a few years ago) is researching the issue. His department has the stuff cached at different locations for use and very little info was provided from the vendors reps.

As for Sen. Burns, it would not be a bad idea to e-mail his office regarding every funding issue that I have seen come up in the past year. Since he brought up the Homeland Security comparison, he obviously has slept through the Federal Wildland Fire Service's funding issues, which are not as important, in his eyes. The exhausted firefighters behaved far more professionally than the overpaid and underworked public representative.

Fyr Etr

7/29 All this righteous indignation concerning the stupid comments by Senator Burns.
Don't we have better and more important issues to place our energy.
I am glad that the Senator took interest in his constituents in Montana came to hear them out. I am also hopeful that he has daylighted issues with IMT's.

Have IMT's been heavy handed in dealing with local land owners and private citizens? Yep.
How about firefighters? How many times have you had to show a lunch break while you were actually working?
Hazard pay? Oh no, its "controlled". As you chase spot fires all day or try to keep from being hit by rolling rocks when mopping up.
Anyone want to take on "closed camps"? Some IMT's don't seem to have a problem restricting your freedom.
Where do I stop? We all have our issues.
Who oversees the IMT's?
I am glad a public official has taken an interest.
Senator Burns (and probably the rest of Congress) obviously is severely uninformed as to wildland fire issues and problems. Getting Congress informed can only help the on the ground firefighters. The only ones who should feel sighted by Senator Burns comments are the Hotshot crews involved. As the professionals they are the have not resorted to the name calling going on here and are out getting the job done. My hat is off to them.

Earthpig

psssst, I'll agree with you that the hotshots are professional firefighters. I'll also disagree on other points: some hotshots have written in; they do feel slighted; others on the fireline don't have their laptops along. "Tool time" replaces keyboarding when so many fires are raging. Ab.

7/29 Chris (PFC)

Maybe you should heed your own advice "be quiet and say nothing". Having been a Marine, I'm sure that you trained, lived and possibly even fought with great men and women from all over the country - what makes you so certain that the individuals on the Augusta IHC were "out-of-staters"? Yes Chris, I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve my country in the military as well as on an Interagency Hotshot Crew - it was not about where we were from, but the job we were assigned to do, whether that be in Iraq or in Montana and we did it well. We all hail from across this great nation and didn't treat one person or piece of land any less than what we would our own. I also know as a seasonal hotshot crewmember, you get hired and go to the place of employment - how do you know that one or several of the members of the Augusta IHC weren't from Montana themselves? It is foolish to use the mentality of us vs. them and in-staters vs. out-of-staters, the point is to get the job done and make it home safely (where ever home may be!).

What's wrong is wrong - and even if Senator Burns used his "freedom of speech" to speak his mind to the Augusta IHC, don't you think that his comments and concerns would be better served in Washington DC. rather than alienating and offending a group of courageous individuals and the wildland fire community as a whole. I hold our elected officials to a higher standard than the general public.

On a more personal note, Chris yes we Marines do back each other, however we are also taught right from wrong on day one of Basic Training and to uphold the highest of personal and work ethic - with no man or woman left behind. What Senator Burns did was wrong and as a good Marine he should make amends by using his powers bestowed upon him by the voting public of Montana to increase funding for safety, training, pay and health care for all firefighters, federal, military, state, contract, volunteer, etc.....end of story. Please do not represent all Marines in your statement.

Thank you for your time -

Signed - proudly served with honor and courage in both the military and on the firelines!
7/29 Wow! Very nice Joe Hill. When I grow up, I want to write like you!! "organizational allegiance" vs. "critical thought", "crutch of an intellectual weakling", so sweet to read!

And I've also been wondering why he didn't get a punch in the nose. I've know shots that wouldn't care if he were Santa Claus or Jesus Christ, they'd of at least let loose verbally and/or invited him into the nearest bathroom to continue the discussion.

Original Ab.
7/29 Anyone here know the status of the Tahquitz Crew on the San Bernardino Forest? Thanks!

no name.

Ab will pass the info on.

7/29 Cris (PFC),

You're right, even politicians have the right to express themselves and their opinions in a public forum. They also have a right to behave in any fashion they see fit, so long as it is not contrary to orderly norms of society.

However, like everyone else, they have are responsible for the content and consequences of that speech and behavior. The public and professional outrage that is being generated is a manifestation of those consequences. He is a public figure, an elected official that presumptively should subscribe to more stringent standards of decorum than the average citizen. His diatribe was crude, profane, and peculiarly misdirected toward a group of guys and gals who swing tools for living and pay his salary. In that sense, he was nothing more than a bully. He must have been hiding behind his pompous image as "The Senator" when he popped off because I can't imagine most shots putting up with that kind of bulls@#$t abuse from any other pasty faced codger in the crowd.

It is irrelevant that Senator Burns personally or professionally enriched your life. That's what we call out here in hill country "anecdotal" and not a salient point in the current whirlwind of discussion. I'm glad you got a nice new rig out of the bargain but I can't believe that you would sell your loyalties so cheaply. As far as substituting an organizational allegiance for critical thought (i.e.: "Semper Fi", Marines back marines!), I've always believed it to be the crutch of an intellectual weakling. By that same line of thinking, you backed the play of Lee Harvey Oswald, or Charles Whitman simply because they once wore the same clothing you did. Try a little more stringency, and you'll have a better grasp of what free speech really is all about.

Joe Hill

7/29 I've been trying to get as much information regarding the Eldorado Hotshot burnover as I can. I worked on the Eldorado NF for several years and came to know many of the Hotshots, coming to hold them in high regard both as a crew and as good people. I am glad to hear that all involved are coming along well.

Then, I come across Senator Burns' comments to the Augusta Hotshots. That man should be going to the Augusta Shots base and apologizing to each of them individually, then go to the Vegas Burn Center to apologize to Jesse and Jeff. And he should do it on his own dime, not our taxpayer money.

I don't care what excuses he has for his behavior. He should take responsibility for his comments and do the right thing to the people his comments insult, they are an affront to the entire wildland firefighting community.

Dave S<snip>
7/29 sen burns' comments:

i just wanted to thank you all for your hard work and dedication fighting the fires out here in MT. If it wasnt for you, the whole state may have gone up in smoke. please dont let his comments deter your from coming back to help us. sen burns' is not how all people here in MT think and act.

as the girlfriend of a firefighter, i know how much you sacrifice to save someones house, land, car, animals and not to mention time away from your families. we should be thanking you instead of cutting you down.

thanks a bunch guys and gals!!!
jennifer stokes
billings MT

7/29 Cris (PFC),

Speaking your mind is one thing but being a big, powerful Senator taking out his frustration on a group of firefighters just trying to do their job is just plain wrong. You say "marines back marines", what would you say to "freespeech" and "speak your mind" if some other Senator spoke to some of our troops coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan in that manner, telling them that "they had done a poor job". Would you still sit back behind your "free speech" and "speak your mind" argument? I bet not, in fact you would probably feel a bit of the outrage we all have felt.

Sign me,

"Firefighters back Firefighters"
7/29 Abs,

Amazing. Just when you think Conrad Burns can’t sink any lower… he proves you wrong.

Apparently, it didn’t take Conrad long to forget that he apologized to the Augusta Hotshots for his boorish behavior at the airport. Last night he was interviewed on local TV news, glibly explaining that he had just approached the Augusta crew to ask for information, that he had a right to do so because the government is paying for these fires, and that the incident was blown way out of proportion. There was no mention of an apology.

Sounds to me like you’re saying they had it coming, eh Conrad?

I say until Conrad offers a real apology, unlike that weak press release that was no doubt written by one of his staffers, firefighters should continue to express their disgust over his treatment of the Augusta Hotshots and his disdain for federal firefighters in general. Maybe if he can be inspired to offer a real apology if he drops a few more points in the polls.

Misery Whip
7/29 Fyr Etr

all the MSDS info you'll ever need as far as retardant and such go.

www.fs.fed.us/rm/fire/wfcs/msds.htm

MG

7/29 My name is Mike Kennard (Feather River Hand Crew '03-'04, Lassen IHC '05)
and I'm in the process of writing a freelance piece on the dangers of
fighting fires along the US-Mexico Border. If you have any stories
about run-ins with cross-border violators, or confrontations with
smugglers/traffickers while conducting fire suppression activities,
I'd love to hear about it. No story is too mundane. Even if you've
just heard rumors about something, I'd still be interested in hearing
about the details.

Also, any information specifically about the Coronado National Forest
would be extra helpful

Any info, or suggestions for people to talk with about the subject
will also be welcome. If you think you've got something of interest,
I encourage you to send it my way:

Mike.Kennard@gmail.com
or by phone at 303.829.6870

Thanks for the help.
Stay safe out there fellas.
7/29 Re Conrad Burns:

Mollysboy,

I guess you have never had a very P**sed off land owner in your "rig" with you before. I have. Try it some time it is a real blast. Best thing to do is be quiet and say nothing.

As for Conrad Burns too bad you don't know the man.

If it wasn't for Conrad our fire company wouldn't have gotten a new type6 fire truck.

So what if he speaks what's on his mind. I thought that was Free Speech. As for the fire fighters get over it.

Conrad spoke to the landowners first because they are the ones most affected by these fires and had lost the most. How many of the landowners were out there fighting the fires before the DNRC and the "paid" firefigters showed up? I have a good idea that a good majority of them were out there. How many of them have been fighting fires on their land before you were even born? I personally know a few.

Conrad represents the landowners not the out of state firefighters.

Well that is all I have to say for now except:
Conrad if you read this "Semper Fi!" Marines back Marines.

Cris (PFC)

7/29 Ab: This just came in on the News and Notes page for the WGBC:

1715 hrs:

“Beginning Saturday, 7/29 and until further notice, all federal and federally contracted pilots, as well as state and local flight crews assigned to federal incidents, are limited to a maximum 12 hour duty day. This restriction applies to pilots flying the following wildland fire missions in all Geographic Areas, except Alaska, Eastern and Southern Areas: large air tanker, lead plane, ASM, SEAT, ATGS, and helicopter.”

Are we having an issue with to many fires and not enough resources?

SPFDBC
7/29 Congratulations to Evelyn Hart from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest on her retirement.
Evelyn is currently working her last day with the Forest Service while assigned to the
Lakin Fire.

Evelyn received a well deserved standing ovation and a round of applause at the
planning meeting this morning!!!

Congratulations Evelyn!!!

KCK
7/29 Re: NWCG Extreme Fire Behavior Safety Advisory

Since a picture is worth a 1000 words, just take a look at the Winter’s fire that is currently burning 10 miles NW of Midas, NV. On 7-26-06, the total acreage for this fire was 8000 acres. On 7-27-06, this fire exhibited what I would call “explosive” fire behavior and moved 15 miles to the east in one burning period. Today, the fire was remapped and the new acreage was 96,000 acres. Tonight’s 209 update shows the new total at 106,288 acres and it could go to 217,000 acres. The most telling statement that corresponds with the NWCG Safety Advisory was in the observed fire behavior for today; “Extreme multiple plume dominated pyro cumulus fire behavior”.

Let’s all make sure that we watch each others back this season

SPFDBC
7/28 Fyr Etr,

Any base that uses thermogel will have the MSDS. I don't know who is.

Fly

7/28 ATGS....Scraps:

Thanks for taking the bait and continuing the discussion.

Who said I am going out as an ATGS? I happen to agree with you on that one right now. I will only go out now as an FBAN compensated also for the EERA for all of my equipment. That amount makes a huge difference.

I still instruct as a contractor all wildland fire courses from basic to S490.....

You and I have way more in common than we have in disagreement. I just happen to think it is time to fight fire right now and to save the fighting about compensation issues for this coming Winter. With all of the UTF's that have occurred in just the past few days we have a huge edge now on Uncle.

Thanks for your comments!

Nationally we just went to Preparedness Level 5........

NMAirBear
7/28 Ab,

We were just sent the notices that we are going to level 5. Need to get all
the overhead on the area together to read the bulletins and explain what this
means.

KD

7/28 Ab,

This is so much fun I can't stand it!

Seriously, you cannot believe what an embarrassment this clown has been
for the past 18 years - and to think that wildland firefighter-bashing could
lead to his ultimate demise is too good to be true!

Gash Creek fire on the Bitterroot is getting a head of steam up this PM with
100 F and winds too. If we get dry lightning in the next few days, we're off
to the races!

Aberdeen

Time to yeller up. NorCal is off to the races too. Ab.

7/28 Hi Ab,

This is for "Wondering" regarding the Eldorado Hotshots on the NY fire outside WMC.

I don't understand why the 209 didn't mention the incident; that is a team thing. My guess would be they were trying to get the medivac, fire, and accident investigation team handled--then were pulled from the fire. NICC Intel has a rule that all 209's must be submitted by 0200 -- even in emergencies, they are rather inflexible about this. I am not sure how this T2 IMT handled the actual writing of the 209, curious if some of it was written (prior to the incident) and they just emailed/faxed/called in the information to CNIDC without updating. Based on radio traffic during and after the incident, CNIDC literally fell apart. (Information only, I checked the UTF list for 7/24 and 7/25--many EDSD and IADP requests denied). Also, the information breakdown or editing of the 209 could easily have occurred at CNIDC.

In the "new" world of serious accidents (aka after 30 Mile), everyone is very politically aware. I believe this is a two part equation. One part is wonderful: the investigation team has "clean" interviews and can function to great effect, hopefully drawing correct conclusions which we can apply to future situations. Additionally, the crew is protected from unnecessary privacy intrusions. The second part is not so great: many of these political animals are keeping their mouths shut for CYA. If something is in writing, it can be taken to court, etc. I note, without surprise but with strong disapproval, the lack of mention of the incident at CNIDC, the WBCC News and Notes, or in the IMSR. I personally believe this omission was a political calculation of the CYA variety (it is incomprehensible that the dispatch centers were not aware). This political calculation unfortunately denies the public limited but truly accurate information. Unfortunately, the regular public does not have easy access to official press releases, they must either rely on the news or get their information from official websites--which in this case (as far as my search went) did not contain the press release or other mention of the incident. KCRA Channel 3 News in Sacramento got some of the story correct. Channel 2 News in Reno did a better job: they must have a good contact somewhere in central NV. Thank you to the wildlandfire.com site for providing links to accurate information as it became available. I look forward to reading the 72 hr. report.

My thoughts and prayers for the crew and family members; may they all heal quickly and cleanly. Thank Big Ernie it wasn't worse.

Old R5'er
7/28 Fyr Etr:

No first-hand experience with Thermogel, but ran across this a few years back
when researching issues related to a variety of chemicals being used, hope it helps:

www.barricadegel.com/nonylphenals.htm

Stanley
7/28 Here's the latest from today's Missoulian on Conrad Burns' comment:
pretty lewd and crude for a US Senator! These comments from a guy
who's paid $165,000 a year.

Mollysboy

Burns' criticism cut from report
www.missoulian.com/articles/2006/07/28/news/mtregional/news05.txt

Whooooo'whee, this is not good press for the Senator. The story is propagating across the country... Google results Oh my, here's one that includes a link to theysaid... Nice job, Casey! www.greatfallstribune.com

7/28 We'd like to thank all for your support of our injured firefighters.

Jeff, Jesse and the Eldorado want to express our sincere thanks.

I know that information is slow to be released and many are wondering
about their condition. What I've found out is that any information that is
released must come from one of them. The hospital, doctor and nurses can't
release any information to me. It must come from them. So, I can report
that both are improving, but with healing comes intense pain. Jeff could
possibly be released as early as Monday but must be able to change bandages
and cleanse wounds without medication before release. Jesse will be at
least another week. As reported both have second degree burns. Can't give
exact dates as it depends on many things. Both Jeff and Jesse appreciate
the calls and well wishes.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation came through as usual with immediate
support to the families; flying Jeff's mom out and finding her a hotel. No
policy nonsense to have to deal with. They secured rooms for us as well
until we could put it on our cards. They are truly appreciated. If you'd like
to send a card to Jeff and Jesse the address is:

University Medical Center,
1800 West Charleston,
Las Vegas, NV 89102.

Live plants or flowers are not allowed in the Burn Unit.

Visits from the Bear Divide and Klamath Hotshots really meant a lot to Jeff
and Jesse. Calls from many other crews as well. It's great to see this kind
of support and concern. Thanks to all.

The rest of the crew is doing well and coming through this together.
There are too many people to mention who have stepped up to help out.
Clark County Fire, the HTF and BLM just to mention a few. If you're
compelled to want to help in some way, the best thing you could do
is to donate to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Thanks again
and I'll get updates out as I get them.

Gary Humphrey
Eldorado National Forest
South Division Chief

Thanks for the update. Ab.

7/28 Has anyone experienced any skin or lung irritation when using Thermogel
to pretreat threatened structures. Someone has brought up this issue to me
and I said this forum may be a good place to get first hand experiences.
The product is a polymer.

Thanks.

Fyr Etr

7/28 NMAB & Steve M,

I like your reasoning nmab regarding throwing your years of experience into the fray in order to keep firefighters safe…. BUT why doesn’t our illustrious Uncle agree with you?? $25.71 per hr, no OT or HP is ludicrous for someone with your knowledge and skills performing as an ATGS!!!

Any ATGS who works for that pitiful low wage is, IMHO, a big part of the problem. As has been demonstrated numerous times in the past, one gets what one pays for. As long as folks out there are willing to work for table scraps, nothing will change. Do what you have always done and you will get what you always got………

All full time ATGS positions in R5 are GS-11’s. Do the math. Even 25.71 with OT is low for someone who retired as a BC, DC or FAO/ATGS.

Speaking of keeping the young uns safe…. When was the last time you attended or taught any of the basic firefighter through crew boss courses? Do you have any idea what is or isn’t being taught now? Besides the pay issue, currency in present day ground teachings and tactics should be essential to remaining a qualified ATGS.

AN ATGS who will not work for AD table scraps,,,
7/28 Communications Team Erects Lifeline for Firefighters Battling California Wildfires. HPWREN Researchers bridge the Horse ICP to the Internet within 24 hours of emergency call.

Full story on the National Science Foundation news release:
www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=107121&org=olpa&from=news

Thanks,

Captain Ron

7/28 SteveM

I can't tell you how or why the ADs are FLSA exempt. I can tell you to contact people in the Alaska State Forestry Department and ask them what happened to their EFF (their version of AD) a few years back.

They didn't have to pay OT and got sued. Now they pay OT, but they dropped the rates back when they switched over, to make up the difference.

I don't know any more than that though.

KD

7/28 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
7/28 Firefighter injuries:

From the Rapid City Journal:
www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2006/07/27/pmedition/news/news01.txt

"Two fire injuries on smaller fires in the northern Black Hills have resulted in firefighters being taken to hospital. One firefighter suffered from severe heat exhaustion and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Another, a smoke jumper, was injured jumping on a small fire and was flown to Rapid City for treatment."

S

7/28 This is a reply to the posting by Tamara Cowles on 7/23:

Tamara, if you're talking about the JACC Academy, you'll remember the USFS bought into to address the consent decree imposed by a judge because of lack of women and minorities in certain job series, one of which was fire. I went throught the first academy in 1990. You ought to be able to locate your records through the R-5 Regional Office, or via the Forest you were assigned. Otherwise, if this wasn't the Academy sponsored by the R-5 USFS, I don't have any other suggestions.

Skuabird

7/27 Seen this? S.

Senator sorry for criticizing firefighters
Burns confronted crew at airport, said they did 'poor job'

The Associated Press
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14068593/

Updated: 10:16 p.m. MT July 27, 2006

HELENA, Mont. - Sen. Conrad Burns apologized Thursday for criticizing a firefighting team for their work on a blaze in southern Montana, saying his frustration came from a meeting with upset landowners.

Burns confronted members of a Virginia firefighting team at an airport and told them they had done a "poor job," according to a state official's report obtained Thursday.

"In retrospect, I wish I had chosen my words more carefully," Burns said in a statement. "My criticism of the way the fire was handled should not have been directed at those who were working hard to put it out."

Members of the "hotshot" wildfire crew said Burns confronted them in the Billings airport Sunday while they were awaiting a flight home, according to a report by Paula Rosenthal, a state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation employee.

The firefighters said Burns told them they had done a "poor job" and should have listened to the concerns of ranchers, the report said.

"My frustration came from meeting with landowners who were critical of the way the fire was handled," Burns said. "Whatever the reason, I should have simply thanked those who worked hard to put out the fire."

The hotshot crew was battling a 143-square-mile wildfire near Pompeys Pillar National Monument, east of Billings. The blaze started July 12 and was contained last week.

Rosenthal, who prepared her report at the direction of agency supervisors, said she was sent to the airport to meet with Burns after reports of an "altercation."

"The toughest part of the conversation was the point where the senator was critical of a firefighter sitting across from us in the gate area," Rosenthal wrote. "I offered to the senator that our firefighters make around $8 to $12 an hour and time-and-a-half for overtime. He seemed a bit surprised that it wasn't higher."

She said Burns also was concerned and upset about the "command and control" system for firefighting efforts and made "several comments about us `not letting ranchers fight the fire on their own land.'"

She said she responded that that safety is always a priority.

"He replied, `We're fighting a war on terror and we're concerned about safety there too, but we're out there doing it,'" Rosenthal wrote.

The superintendent of the hotshot team, Jeff Koenig based in Staunton, Va., confirmed his team encountered Burns at the airport, but referred questions to spokeswoman JoBeth Brown.

Brown said members of the team who were present "have chosen not to say anything more about this."

"They're firefighters first," she said, "and they're really just interested in fighting fire."

Bob Harrington, forestry division administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, said Thursday that Rosenthal's conversation with Burns was cordial. However, Harrington said the firefighters reported a less cordial exchange with the senator.

'Utmost respect'

"I wasn't present for that, nor was Paula, but it is my understanding from discussions that there was some level of lively discussion, shall we say?" Harrington said. He declined to elaborate.

Casey Judd, business manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, which represents federal firefighters, said he was disappointed Burns confronted the hotshot team.

"We have expressed our support for him in the past," Judd said. "But to make a point of blistering a bunch of hotshots, it's really disconcerting."

Burns, a Republican facing a tough re-election challenge this fall, said Thursday he has since addressed his concerns about the fire's handling to the proper officials.

"Please accept my apology for any hard feelings that my comments may have caused," Burns said. "I have the utmost respect for the job firefighters have done in Montana."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Disclaimer: We believe this to be 'Fair Use' of the above copyrighted material for educational and discussion purposes and to advance awareness and understanding of issues relating to firefighter safety, civil rights, economics, individual rights, liberty, etc. 'Fair Use' of any such copyrighted material is provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. . For more information, please see: www.law.cornell.edu Ab.

7/27 I'd like to personally thank all those who have emailed me and called me today with copies of emails destined for Washington etc.

I want everyone to know that the Superintendent of the Augusta IHC is a FWFSA member and what we all say, and how we say it in the coming days regarding this matter will be viewed as a reflection on our wildland firefighting community. So let's be firm and tough, but professional.

Thanks in advance.

Casey
7/27 As a Montanan, I'm ashamed and embarrassed (but not surprised) by the comments of Senator Conrad Burns to the IHC in Billings Airport, and his other comments about wildfire suppressions actions.

Remember folks, this is the same US Senator that talked about "living around Ni**ers in DC" and called some Arab folks "ragheads"! We Montanans have low expectations from Conrad, and even then he has a hard time living up to them!

Here's a guy who promised in 1988 to only serve 2 terms, then discovered towards the end of his second term that, guess what: seniority counts in the Senate, and so he was going to run again for 3rd and now a 4th term. Seems like I learned about seniority in 5th grade Civics, and I wasn't even in Advanced Placement classes!

And as for wildfires: after the 1988, 1994, 2000 and 2003 fire seasons in Montana, you'd think he'd have an idea about how fires are fought and managed? Guess not!

Another thing: the fire that Conrad was b*tching about was a BLM fire, so he calls Mark Rey, the ex-timber industry lobbyist who's got a political appointment as Assistant Secretary in the Department of AGRICULTURE: last time I looked, the BLM was in the Department of INTERIOR. You'd think an 18 year Senator from Montana would know better?

It's a real credit to the folks on the IHC that they handled our Missouri-grown idiot so well, and that the rage and indignation being voiced is all directed at Conrad.

I wear as a badge of pride that I've voted against Conrad at every opportunity, and proudly display my "Fire Burns - 2006" bumper sticker on my rig.

Mollysboy
7/27 Ab,

One of the many roles in my FS and Education careers consists of writing and editing. And for the past couple of decades I have been an ardent letter writer for different political issues as well as working as a researcher for a California Congresswoman. I would like to offer my services, free of charge, to anyone out there who might need a hand in writing letters about the issue concerning the Senator from Montana. How about this...

If people are interested in writing, but can't seem to get past the stage of picking up the fingers and putting them to the keys to make sentences and paragraphs, what if they sent me a brief sentence with their ideas, and let me emphasize the word "brief," I could formulate a letter, again brief, for them. Brief works best in these cases.

I have already done this several times today and I KNOW there are others out there who just aren't able to muster up the final steps of producing a letter. In my case, with this being my first season away from fire since 1983, I have a bit of spare time.

Stanley

Generous offer. Ab.
7/27 CA SRF Somes Fire

Comments

Fire grew twice the size over night, about 100+ acres. There are 46 fire fighters that were flown in to a helispot that was created yesterday. The crews spent the night up there last night. At 1000 hrs this morning, the IC (Incident Commander) of this fire reported that the whole bottom of the fire had rolled out, due to extremely steep terrain. He requested 4 Type1 crews and two Type2 helicopters for exclusive use on this fire. Operations Chief (Jameson) informed him that no Type1 crews or additional helicopters were available in the Region. Jameson offered Type2 crews, but the IC declined. He stated that the terrain and conditions of the fire were unsuitable for Type2 crews.

The IC also stated that he can hear fire below them, but is unable to see it. Lookout on Orleans Mtn, and is unable to see the fire anymore due to the current inversion. Orleans Complex IC (Annand) made the call to disengage the fire and to have all resources pulled off the mountain. Currently the helicopter is shuttling people off the fire.

This is a classic "Cramer Fire" situation. Good call by the IC to get those fire fighters off the mountain. When the inversion lifts, (which is starting to happen now) we are expecting the fire to make major runs. The microwave is starting to be affected. Orleans lost all long distance service at 0930hrs, and local service is hit and miss. Currently we are not affected at Oak Bottom Fire Station / Somes Bar. The only communication by telephone Orleans has with Fortuna Dispatch right now is the one "tie-line". Radio and repeaters are not affected at this time. So if you loose contact with me or anyone else from Orleans / Somes Bar, you know that the microwave was over run by the fire.

We are doing the best we can, but resources are stretched through-out the state of California. We have pending resource orders and they are trying to be filled ASAP. We have just become the State's number 2 priority because of the resources and watershed that are threatened. I will keep you all informed when I can, for as long as I can.

Hot List poster

Annand, a leader who made the right choice. Way to walk the walk. Ab.

7/27 Ab,

There's a reason why "firefighter" again tops the Harris poll of prestigious jobs, and "member of Congress" didn't. www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/

vfd cap'n

ps, If any of the 'shots got Burns on tape, I'll offer up some bandwidth to put it on-line.
7/27 Regarding AD pay,

How does the government get around paying overtime for over 8 hours per day and/or over 40 hours per week for AD hires?

The AD Pay Plan states, " The salary rate shown for each classification is the rate per hour to be paid for all the service required of the casual hire. Premium compensation shall not be paid for service in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week or for night, Sunday, or holiday work (7 U.S.C. 2226)".

All 7 USC 2226 says is, "Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, the Department is authorized on and after August 31, 1951, to employ or otherwise contract with persons at regular rates of pay for necessary hours of work for emergency forest fire fighting and pest control and for handling of animals, including dairy cattle, without regard to Sundays, Federal holidays, and the regular workweek".

So what are the key words in that bit of policy that somehow justifies emergency workers being exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act? "Regular rates of pay"? "Regular workweek"?

Does anyone have any clearer information on this? Has it been questioned? Legally challenged? The current AD rates might be more agreeable if overtime rates were enforced. I respect NMAirBear's reasons for returning to the fray, but the current pay scale just isn't high enough for me to make the same decision.

SteveM
7/27 Re Conrad Burns:

What would one expect from a Senator who's previous job before the
Senate was the Ag. Reporter on a Montana Television Network.

Toss the Bum out. He embarrasses Montana.

Pitch Pocket

7/27 Fires on Klamath & Six Rivers:

As the just-retired Supt of the Ukonom handcrew and with thirty years of experience there, I would just like to warn all of you that may be on your way there to work on the fires, to be very heads up. There have been at least two years in the past five with heavy snow breakage between the 2000 and the 4000 foot range. The fuels are dry and heavy and anyone that has ever been in that country knows it's steep, very few safety zones, lots of roll out.

Have good lookouts, know when the inversion is going to break. Remember there is nothing out there worth one person.

Supt.

Thanks Supt. Ab.

7/27 Enquiring minds want to know...

What's the story with the Santa Fe IHC shut-down?

FB
7/27 Since I wasn't involved in the fires that pushed Senator Burns' button, I can only presume the senator had not had a pleasant time conversing with some of his constituents about the fires, and the Hotshots were his first target of opportunity to dump on.

Next to his bad manners and arrogance what I find appalling is his apparent lack of knowledge of the wildland fire management, and how things work during fire busts. If he represented a state with limited wildfire activity, I could cut him some slack. However, as everyone in the fire community knows all too well, Montana has been on top of the heap for fire activity for many years, too often since 2000. It is incomprehensive to me that a US Senator from the State of Montana, if the media reports are correct, has such a limited understanding of wildland firefighting systems and processes. What sent up a special red flag about his fire management knowledge was his alleged remark that the fires were run out of NIFC.

If Burns is as ignorant of wildland fire protection as his comments indicate, I wonder how many other western senators are at the same level of knowledge? Now that is a scary question as fire folks try to get decision makers to deal with basic fire management issues such as pay, employment, training, benefits, safety, etc.

I would suggest firefighters not only counsel Senator Burns, but also consider contacts with their own elected officials to make sure they understand the fundamentals of how the fire business works.

I shall now take pleasure in preparing my own counsel to the good senator.

Firemark

Firemark glad to see you here offering your opinion. Ab.

7/27 Sonoma or Lake County California wildland fire, started early this afternoon. Don't know any details yet I will let you know more when I get it.

Retired L.A.V.E.

Yes, I still lurk about.

Hi LAVE. Glad you're still lurking about.
That's a good bit of info for posting on the HotList Forum. There are probably others who can fill you in. That page has been cooking with flaming details. Ab.

7/27 Ab guffaw...

The AP has contacted Casey at the FWFSA regarding Senator Burns' comments to the Augusta hot shots in the airport on their way home from weeks of dirty, tiring fire duty in Montana.

<rant>

Why should Burns comment to hotshots except to say "THANK YOU VERY MUCH"? What do hotshots have to do with the management-strategy-tactics of a very large Montana fire? Fire Teams commanded by ICs do the professional large-scale planning. Hotshots deal with their assigned piece of ground - AND THEY DO IT VERY WELL. They're our much-needed "boots and Pulaski's on the fire ground".

Military Analogy: It would be like the Senator Burns waylaying some homeward-bound Green Berets, Rangers or Seals in an airport after their long, wearing tour of war duty to tell them they should have found a civilian who was not in their chain-of-command and taken orders from him or her. I think not.

The old firefighter in me says, "A verbal blindside delivered by a Senator (or anyone else who should know better) against some of our own, deserves an inbox overflowing with the logical consequences..."

</rant>

haw haw haw... Ab.

7/27 AB - Could you remind folks in R5 that the USFS Honor Guard is recruiting
new members?

Downloadable application is available on the San Bernardino NF FSWEB
http://fsweb.sanbernardino.r5.fs.fed.us/honorguard/join.shtml (internal fs web)

Thanks!

John

Forest Service folks, sign up for the Honor Guard. We all need your participation. It's a great service that the Honor Guard does. Ab.

7/27 Ab......

Didn't mean to tar all of Montana with the Senator's brush, not my intention
at all......... just meant that this just may be a landmark, in more ways than one,
after seeing Casey's post, to get the firefighter message out to 'real' listeners.....

Firefox

7/27 Ab:

How ironic; having a Senator named "Burns" criticizing fire crews. If
ranchers can handle the job ... fine with me. We'd be glad to have
our son home safely. (like most everyone).

Dave
7/27 Regarding Montana Senator Conrad Burns:

Disgusting and disgraceful attack on brothers and sisters in the wildland
fire community. Montana will forever be etched in my mind by the acid
spewed by this politician..............

Firefox

Montana's got good folks, don't tar the state with the Senator's tar brush. Ab.

7/27 Dear Wildland Firefighting Community:

While I know all of you are extremely busy, the incident involving Senator Burns and the Augusta IHC demands a full-scale response from everyone who reads this Board.

It is frustrating that a Senator who in 1999 championed legislation to eliminate the overtime pay cap for federal wildland firefighters would now become so desperate and beholden to ranchers with deep pockets.

More aggravating is the typical response from the Agency...Mark Rey contacting the ranchers but not giving our firefighters the time of day. You all have a voice and now is the time to get some serious use out of it. Especially those of you in Montana who are constituents of the Senator.

We need to inundate the following offices with faxes, phone calls, emails etc., demanding an apology and inviting these "leaders: to join our folks for a week or so cutting line and other fine things you do.

If inclined to be heard, DO NOT USE GOV'T COMPUTERS, EMAIL ADDRESSES, PHONES ETC.

To contact the staff contact in Senator Burns' DC office familiar with wildland firefighter issues, email:

heather_stefanik@burns.senate.gov (there is a underscore between heather & stefanik). The phone number is 202-224-2644 or 1-800-344-1513. The fax # is 202-224-8594.

To contact Mark Rey, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment: PH 202-720-7173 Fax: 202-720-0632

To contact Dale Bosworth, Chief of the Forest Service: Fax: 202-205-1785

To contact Tom Harbour, FS Fire & Aviation Director: PH: 202-205-1483 or email at tharbour@fs.fed.us.

This outpouring of support for our Brothers & Sisters from the Augusta IHC should be palpable across this country.

For further information or questions, please contact me directly at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.

Thanks...and be vocal.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
7/27 Dear Augusta Hotshots,

As a citizen of the state of Montana, I would like to offer my regrets for your recent unfortunate encounter with our official state moron, Conrad Burns. We usually keep him on a leash out back, but every now and then he slips his collar and rampages across the countryside, abusing whomever he meets.

While it may seem to you that Conrad is senile and ready for a rubber room, I assure you that he has been spouting this sort of insane gibberish for many years. It usually seems to peak just before elections.

Fortunately, Conrad has soiled himself beyond redemption for the upcoming election, as he holds the dubious distinction of being the largest congressional recipient of contributions from convicted felon/lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Conrad’s turn in court will come soon, maybe then we can get him a real room with bars and locks so we can keep better control of him.

I speak for most Montanans when I say that we are grateful for the hard work and the risks you took to help suppress fires in our state, and we regret that you had to endure this encounter with our state moron. Please don’t hold this against all Montanans; I’m sure you’ll receive better treatment from Senator Tester if you visit our state next year.

Misery Whip

Haw haw, there have been mutterings here from the office walls... <snort> "Not the first time Burns has made an a$$ of himself."

7/27 AD's: Everything, Everybody in Short Supply ....

Engine and Crew positions and all overhead positions out there are now in very short supply and many, many UTFs are happening. ADs: Many of us are sitting this one out because it just does not pay that well. I certainly have been one. We will all reckon back to this Summer when the Winter Games resume in Boise towards re-establishing equitable AD pay and benefit rates.

Now, that having been said, let's not be part of the upcoming (upon us right now actually) firefighter safety problem by not making our vast experience and expertise available while America burns. We all need to make a difference by being there to enhance the effort and we also need to be talkative about our cause which is to receive the compensation appropriate for the work being done. Let's make a difference in both the enhancement of firefighter safety and in the rights of ADs to be properly compensated.

I am getting back out there tomorrow with the number one thought of providing my many years of experience towards keeping folks on the ground safe.

NMAirBear
7/27 Re Mellie's message:

They have been through a CISD and I am sure there will be more to follow. One of the crewmembers assured me that they were all doing an excellent job of communicating with one another and have the greatest group of shoulders (the entire crew) to lean on. Sometimes there is nothing more effective than your best friend who you work side by side with and who was "there". There is an amazing network of Eldorado NF folks ranging from the Forest Supervisor down to first year firefighters helping all of these guys and their families with whatever they need.

Thanks for your concern.

7/27 Regarding Burns criticizes firefighters, says they didn't heed ranchers

http://billingsgazette.net/articles/2006/07/27/news/local/45-burns.txt

I think it is vital that as many of us read this article as possible, so I am posting the text here as well. This is not atypical of what many other senators and congressmen/people think and feel. And the best form of defense for us is education, contact, and the almighty vote.

Is this someone who works to make the lives of firefighters better? Or worse? Safer? Does he work to foster better relations with the public and landowners by researching historical data? Or is he counterproductive to the efforts of the different agencies to establish good communications and working relationships?

I would venture to guess that Senator Burns has spent little or no time educating himself on the basic aspects of wildland fire and its related workforce. But I could be wrong...

Here's the text of the above article:

Published on Thursday, July 27, 2006.
Last modified on 7/27/2006 at 12:15 am
Burns criticizes firefighters, says they didn't heed ranchers

By JENNIFER McKEE
Gazette State Bureau
HELENA - Republican Sen. Conrad Burns chastised a group of firefighters over the weekend for doing a "poor job" dousing a 92,000-acre blaze near Billings, a state report shows.

Burns and the firefighters - members of the Augusta Hot Shots from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest in Virginia -were at Billings Logan International Airport awaiting flights, according to Burns and Forest Service representatives.

Burns approached the firefighters and told them they had "done a poor job" and "should have listened to the ranchers," according to a report prepared by Paula Rosenthal, a state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation employee who was sent to the airport to speak with the senator.

Rosenthal wrote in her report that she received word of an "altercation" between Burns and the Hot Shot crew. The crew had been in Montana working on the Bundy Railroad fire near Worden.

The 92,000-acre timber, grass and sagebrush fire was contained on July 19, and the 368 people who came to fight it began dispersing a few days later.

Burns had been in Billings to commemorate the new interpretive center at Pompeys Pillar, the sandstone bluff near the Yellowstone River where explorer William Clark scratched his signature while on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Burns had also met with local ranchers affected by the blaze.

Matt Mackowiak, a Burns spokesman, said he didn't think Burns met with any of the fire bosses handling the fire.

By the time Rosenthal reached the airport, the interaction had ended. Burns told her he was concerned that fires are run out of the National Interagency Fire Center, in Boise, Idaho, which he called "ridiculous."

"The government needs to listen to these ranchers," the report quotes Burns as saying.

Mary Sexton, director of the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, said in an interview that the National Interagency Fire Center does not run individual fires but is the national hub for fire information and available resources. Beneath the Boise center are several regional dispatch centers, including one for the northern Rocky Mountain area in Missoula. Individual fires are managed by the fire bosses on the ground, Sexton said.

Burns also said he was concerned that fire bosses don't let ranchers fight fire on their own land. Rosenthal wrote in her report that she told the senator that "private citizens were integral to our success, as were (volunteer fire departments), county governments" and others.

Sexton said fire teams - the groups of national and local fire experts who come to manage and fight large fires - cannot tell private landowners what to do. They cannot force them to evacuate or prevent them from fighting fire on their own land. However, Sexton said fire bosses prefer to know where all people working on a fire are - including landowners - and may ask landowners not to help in the interest of safety.

Burns also said he had heard from one rancher that fire crews on the Bundy Railroad fire put a strip of fire retardant on the edge of Bureau of Land Management federal land, implying the fire crews were more interested in protecting public land than private.

"The toughest part of the conversation was the point where the senator was critical of a firefighter sitting across from us in the gate area," Rosenthal's report reads. "I offered to the senator that our firefighters make around $8 to $12 an hour and time-and-a-half for overtime. He seemed a bit surprised that it wasn't higher."

Rosenthal's report said she would take Burns' concerns back to agency officials, and Burns thanked her for taking the time to listen to him.

Dan Jerome, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service in the agency's Washington, D.C., office, said the agency has heard from Burns regarding his concerns.

"Essentially, the senator had some issues with a fire and we heard those," Jerome said. "He talked to the crew about those. Generally, the place to talk about them is with the Forest Service. Meanwhile, the crew is out fighting fire, and we're proud of the work they do."

Jerome said the agency is working on addressing Burns' concerns.

Mackowiak said Burns has been hearing from Montanans affected by wildfire for weeks.

"As a result, he very responsibly reaches out to policymakers in Washington to make sure that all coordination is being done in the best and most reasonable manner," he said.

Burns talked to Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey about his concerns, Mackowiak said, and Rey has since personally called the ranchers with whom Burns spoke. The Forest Service is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Burns wants to make sure that fire policy is "adequate and adaptive," Mackowiak said, and the senator is pushing for emergency assistance for ranchers and landowners affected by the blazes.

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

S

Disclaimer: We believe this to be 'Fair Use' of the above copyrighted material for educational and discussion purposes and to advance awareness and understanding of issues relating to firefighter safety, civil rights, economics, individual rights, liberty, etc. 'Fair Use' of any such copyrighted material is provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. . For more information, please see: www.law.cornell.edu Ab.

7/27 Eldorado Hotshots:

To all of those who hear bits and pieces, please be careful not to spread rumors. I work with them and have first hand knowledge of the incident. As you can imagine the whole crew as well as co-workers, friends and family are in the middle of a very emotional ordeal right now, not only because of the incident but also the treatment afterwards ie; medi-vac/hospital (details will be given later). Hear-say can only make things worse.

Keep them on your minds and in your hearts.

ABO

7/27 The two hotshots continue to do well. Both of their moms are at the Las Vegas burn center with them. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation flew in the one mom from the midwest.

A great gal, Cathy Risdon from the Clark Co Fire Dept employee assistance program has arranged places for the moms to stay in Las Vegas. (Clark Co is the county Las Vegas is in.) It's so great to have the structure firefighters support teams helping the moms and working with our wildland supporters at the Foundation. Wildland or structure, vollie, state, county or fed, we have a remarkable community of firefighters!

One of the two shots is doing so well he may be released in the next day or two. The second one will need longer treatment. I hope the crew is getting critical incident stress debriefing, they must be, and it's important for those who were not too affected to be present so their fellow firefighters can work through and integrate the incident. I have my fingers crossed for all those guys.

For everyone following the columns in the northern part of California, here's a good link:
Fire Information Summary

Mellie

7/27 Those fighting fire in NorCal:

Fire behavior has been extreme at times over the last days with the thunderclouds overhead. Be safe. Do not compromise LCES. Resources are very short. Many of the lightning fires in the wilderness areas and surrounding forests are likely to burn longer term since they're not being picked up on IA or EA due to fuel, terrain and resources. We're dealing with fuel and topography driven fires, folks, a number of which will go until the rains come if they're not picked up soon.

Mellie, we may get one of your famous hugs soon. Fire up the huggin' arm and your great laugh.

NorCal Tom.

7/27 Re: El Dorado Hot Shot incident

Fire crews I work with were on the scene about 40 yards below the hot shots and witnessed the whole ordeal.

(As "actual" visuals may be lost in the final reports, this is the best view I can give)

A dozer line was established. The "new" type 2 team was in place. The order was given to burn it out and thus, the fire would be out. Local fire fighters on the scene noticed a thundercloud in the sky. In this area, a single thundercloud designates high erratic winds (up to 45 mph) with "dust devils" in normal conditions.

The burn proceeded. One of the areas infamous "dust devils" hit the fire. Eye reports say this was a "huge" whirlwind. (I have seen them up to an acre in width, my interpretation would be a whirlwind covering 1/2 to one acre..........this is not confirmed as I had other questions for the crew when I talked to them.)

Some of the hotshots ran in one direction on the dozer line, around into the safe black, and back to safety. Other crew members ran toward my crews' engines on the dozer line. The actual words were "they were 'entrapped' "(not over run). They said it happened fast - no time for shelter deployment.

I believe that in the final report "local weather influences" should be discussed. Many times in my career, I have gained more knowledge on weather from the locals before entering a fire, than generic reports can accurately interpret for a whole district.

"Tuffy"

7/27 Montana Senator Conrad Burns has a mouthful of to say about the work of wildland firefighters who fought the large fires in Eastern Montana recently, so much he said it to their faces as an Eastern area IHC was traveling home after assignment --

Original Ab found a good link--> http://billingsgazette.net/articles/2006/07/27/news/local/45-burns.txt

Those opposed to Burns in this November's election and in support of his opponent, Democrat John Tester, have been sporting "Fire Burns! 2006" bumper stickers on their vehicles for awhile now ... those words seem a bit more poignant now.

More coverage on the Eastern Montana wildfires:

www.billingsgazette.net/specialreport/?s/2006fires

- Sue
7/27 re: burnover on the New York Peak Fire.

Why is it not listed on the ICS-209 or ITD report for 7/25 or 7/26? The only thing mentioned is this:

“34: Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
Erratic fire behavior last evening caused fire to cross control line and spread rapidly to south.”

wondering
7/26 Ab

As a former NPS director was being mentioned on "They Said" it reminded me that Fran Mainella announced her Resignation on the morning report today (7/26). I am sure the editors will not mind if you so choose to quote it. It is below.

My best wishes and prayers for the members of the Eldorado Hotshots injured in the burn over. My prayers are with those crewmembers and all FF's who suffer burns.

Someone said the other day "what is a minor burn"; that is a burn that happens to someone you don't know or care about; or possibly the one you get at home roasting steaks after too many "AMBER LIBATIONS".

I remember, as a child, my father used to encourage me to go the ground floor hospital room window of a kid about my age who had been horribly burned playing with a burning leaf pile. He wanted me to talk to him and just keep him occupied for a while. Dad was the Chef Engineer at the hospital and he frequently had to change the heat lamps and make adjustments to the equipment. This was the mid 50's. I also dated a burn center nurse many years later. I know what burn injuries are; treatment is so painful. Victims face a long uphill path but as you indicated the hotshots have no apparent airway damage the recovery should be a little easier. Hopefully, if they so choose, they will be back on the line in due course.

God bless and be safe out there.

RJM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Director/Deputy Directors
Director Mainella Announces Resignation

July 26, 2006

Dear Employees,

Serving as National Park Service Director has been the most rewarding experience of my life. What has made this experience so rewarding was the chance to work with an amazing group of professional employees in carrying out the mission of the National Park Service. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to serve with you. You, the work that you do, and your complete dedication to the stewardship and enjoyment of the parks have made me proud to be a part of the everlasting legacy of the National Park Service.

But now, I have had to make a difficult decision, and I have decided to resign as your director to spend more time with my family, especially my parents and in-laws who have been having health issues. I will, however, continue to work with you for the next few months, working to finalize Management Policies, celebrate the NPS’s 90th anniversary, and finish several key projects.

As I wrote to the President, and find very important to say to all of you also, is that it has been a privilege to be entrusted with leading the National Park Service in preserving and protecting America’s national parks— some of the most beautiful lands, most significant sites and most treasured heritage of the nation. Our work has been based on the conviction that preservation of the parks and their enjoyment by present and future generations is one of the greatest of American undertakings.

Thank you for always stepping up to the plate doing the most you can with limited resources and extremely complex challenges.

As the National Park Service moves forward toward its 100th birthday, know that I will be there with you, assisting in any way that I can. National parks represent the soul of America and a gift to the world. Remember, you, the employees of the National Park Service, are its best asset!

With my best regards and deep personal respect and appreciation,

Fran P. Mainella
7/26 I am a Director on the Douglas City (Trinity County, Ca.) Community Services District Board. We oversee our volunteer fire dept, one of about thirteen in the county. We have about 26 personnel right now, about half of whom can be considered "active". Our chief is also a volunteer, and is in poor health lately.

Our problem, as with so many other volunteer fire departments, is with keeping up on current regulations and trainings to keep our people safe. Our chief wants to "retire", step down to give him time to deal with his health issues. We have no one in the dept. who is able to or interested in assuming the responsibilities. What we need most is someone with firefighting and/or administrative experience who wants to retire to a beautiful area and wouldn't mind being involved in a small, laid-back community.

I guess where I'm headed is, how do we, and where do we, go about advertising and promoting ourselves and our need to interested people? Are there publications, websites, organizations, etc. that we could contact? Our entire county has a population of about 13,000, and there aren't a lot of qualified people just waiting around! Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

You may notice I've sent this e-mail to another person; that is the Chairman of our District Board. I look forward to your response.

Thanks,

Eric Blomberg

Eric, I know your community and your fire department. Very nice spot, along Hwy 299 30-40 min west of Redding. Readers, anyone out there looking for a great place to retire, this is it.

I don't have any answers for you Eric, but maybe some of our readers will have ideas. Ab.

7/26 >From Firescribe:

the Las Vegas Sun

"Six firefighters injured in wildfire northwest of Winnemucca" .
www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/nevada/2006/jul/26/072610035.html

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Six firefighters have been injured battling a wildfire northwest of Winnemucca, the Bureau of Land Management said Wednesday.

Three of the six were flown to Humboldt General Hospital in Winnemucca. Two then were flown to the burn center at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Another was treated and released.

The other three firefighters were driven to the hospital in Winnemucca, treated and released after the incident Tuesday afternoon.

All six were members of the Eldorado National Forest hotshot crew based near Placerville, Calif.

A federal interagency serious accident investigation team was scheduled to arrive in Winnemucca on Wednesday.

The New York Peak fire has burned some 6,000 acres of brush and trees 65 miles northwest of Winnemucca, one of the largest fires in the state. <etc>

The WFF is flying the mom of one of the hotshots to Las Vegas and has made arrangements for her hotel. Burk is on it.

Three hotshots had minor burns and were treated in camp and then driven to the hospital, treated and released. Of the other three who were flown, one was treated and released from the hospital in Winnemucca; two were transported to the Las Vegas burn center. They have second and first degree burns over 50% of their bodies but no airway involvement (that is, no inhalation burns - very good news). We expect the 24 hour Report to be out in a timely manner. As you know it will have bare-bones info. The 72 Hour Report should provide more details. We're periodically briefed and when we are, we'll post it here.

For more info, see the release below. It just came in. Ab.

7/26 FOR RELEASE: July 26, 2006, 10:30 a.m.
CONTACT: Richard H. Brown, 775-861-6480, or Jamie Thompson, 775-623-1541

Six California firefighters injured in burnover

Six wildland firefighters from an Eldorado National Forest hotshot crew
were injured late Tuesday afternoon during a wildland fire burnover. The
crew was assigned to the New York Peak Fire northwest of Winnemucca,
Nevada, when the burnover occurred at approximately 5 p.m.

Three of the injured firefighters were flown by helicopter from the
incident to the Humboldt General Hospital in Winnemucca. Two of these
firefighters were subsequently flown by fixed wing aircraft to the Lion’s
Burn Care Center at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The third injured
firefighter was treated and released from the hospital in Winnemucca. The
remaining three injured firefighters were driven to the hospital in
Winnemucca, where they were treated and released.

The Eldorado National Forest is located near Placerville, California.

A federal interagency serious accident investigation team is scheduled to
arrive in Winnemucca Wednesday afternoon to conduct a review of the
incident. “Whenever injuries such as these occur during firefighting
operations, a top priority is to learn everything we can about them so that
we can work to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” said BLM
Nevada State Fire Management Officer Rex McKnight.

According to preliminary reports, the burnover occurred during burnout
operations. The fire was started by lightning at approximately 6:25 p.m. on
Monday. The New York Peak Fire was reassigned to the Jim Thomas Type 2
Incident Management Team at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The fire is burning at the south end of the Pine Forest Range in juniper,
mountain mahogany, sagebrush and cheatgrass 65 miles northwest of
Winnemucca, and has exhibited extreme fire conditions in rough terrain. The
fire is located in a wilderness study area with limited vehicle access.
There are 109 firefighters are assigned to the fire.

The crew has been taken off the fire pending investigation into the
incident. Preliminary reports indicate that more than 6,000 acres have been
burned by the New York Peak Fire. Containment figures are unavailable at
this time.

BDF

Thanks. Ab.

7/26 The announcements are open for Advanced Academy crew bosses, staff and instructors and can be found at www.wfap.net/recruitment.html#staff. We will fly the Basic announcements at a later date, due to potential curriculum changes. We will run all three advanced academies at the same time, from January 14 to February 9, 2007.

Preference for crew bosses will be first given to the previous crew bosses that helped in basic academies, then to the assistant crew bosses who helped. All interested parties are encouraged to apply, even if you have not participated in the academies before. Remember, there are no assistant crew bosses at the advanced academies.

For formal instructional cadres, we have three slots open for S-234 and three for S-290. We will also solicit interest in the “Third Instructor” or liaison positions to assist MCS in L-380, Fireline Leadership. Please use the instructor application for 3rds.

Call Scott Whitmire at 916-640-1061 or 916-717-6615 (cell) for info.
For BLM call Rick Roach at 916-640-1080 or 916-997-6655 (cell).

Please call or submit an application even if you do not know your training/work schedules for the winter. We can adjust scheduling on our end.

This is one of the best venues for learning and enhancing leadership and instructional skills. The academies also offer a golden opportunity to positively influence our new career fire employees.

Scott Whitmire
Assistant Coordinator
National Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program

7/26 Ab re the New and Improved CA Fires '06 page:

Thanks for the new look. Like it.

RJM
7/26 Need USFS red card refresher course

I passed my pack test in May but for a number of reasons I missed out on the required refresher course hours needed to re-up my red card. I know this is a long shot with fire season upon us, but is anyone in the Angeles, San Bernardino, or Cleveland NF planning a session this summer I can tap into?

jimhart
7/26 In response to a couple of queries...

The Eldorado Hotshots have been involved in a burnover on New York Peak fire, NW of Winnemucca Nevada. Three were hospitalized. One was treated and released. Assessments of two others were that they have 2nd degree burns over 35 % of their bodies. They were transported to Las Vegas for treatment.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is apprised of the situation and is standing by to help with arrangements and costs if help is necessary.

As more information becomes available, we'll let you know.

My thoughts and prayers for those involved.

Please be safe out there. This is a dangerous job.

Ab.

7/26 An interesting article in the New York Times by Roger Kennedy, former Director of the National Park Service about homes in the WUI.

Houses built to burn
www.nytimes.com

For anyone interested in some "heavy lifting" reading this summer (as time and the fires allow), check out Kennedy's new book "Wildfire and Americans: how to Save Lives, Property and Your Tax Dollars".

It offers a unique view on our WUI situation from a non-firefighter who's been deeply involved in natural resources management for many years. While all of his facts on wildfire fatalities are non correct, taken in the bigger context of offering new ideas, it's a good read the will stimulate your thoughts about the world we fight fire in.

Dick Mangan

7/26 Re the NWCG alert

Some areas/agencies sent the bulletin out thursday afternoon, July 20.

If some did and some didn't, why the difference? I think that may be
where the focus of any questioning should be. Where was/is the
communication breakdown?

KD

7/26 HEY

Maybe nifc  has forgotten us out east  i do know of a few state engines and crews wanting to go west ..lol  damm muggee out here....rain and more rain    o well  stay safe    hey anyone need a engine boss   here i am

...ncbrush

7/26 "it's not easy being green"

Did some checking. S2T's Flight time is $2649 hr. There is no AV, (for cost
summary purposes...) as California owns the aircraft or so I'm told...

mtndv8
7/25 In answer to the 3 communication concerns on the San Bernardino NF that have recently been expressed here by Rogue Rivers & Todd.
  1. Fixes for the interference issues between the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF and the San Bernardino NF:
    • The power output will be lowered on the Mt Keller Repeaters. This will not reduce coverage on the San Bernardino but should keep it from getting Humboldt-Toiyabe's bleedover.
    • The Humboldt-Toiyabe will be tone protected so it won't get the San Bernardino bleedover.
  2. Re the Comm Center in a trailer:
    The Comm Center on the San Bernardino is moving into a new Supervisor's Office. It has been operating out of an BLM Comm van during construction. It will soon be moved into its permanent facility.
  3. Mt Keller -- where the repeater is located -- lost power on Saturday. Power converted to backup but no one knew. The repeater went down when the backup batteries were drained. Power was restored asap and batteries were recharged.

In reply to the Region 5 Engine Module Configuration Requirements letter discussed by "Where have you gone RQ".

  • The clarification is to make engine deployments more flexible as SteveM said; the form/table is to track the changes.
  • There was a process involved in deciding to send out the new letter. There were requests from the field, citing "too much ambiguity" on the first letter originally sent out by RQ before his retirement. The new letter attempted to address those and see how often there's a deviation from policy.
  • The form only needs to be filled out when people deviate from policy, not necessarily every day.

Ab.

7/25 Old Fire Guy

Maybe a sun burn?

Dave
7/25 CDF

What the hell is a "mild" burn?

Old Fire Guy

7/25 I just read the post from 7/22 on the Region 5 Engine Module Configuration. I am a little puzzled by the staffing. I see ENGB and FF on the list, what happened the FEO or AFEO? I guess if you have a qualified driver then the engine will pump itself. Lets leave out one important tool in the tool box, a qualified Engine Operator, that make's a lot of sense.

Yac, took the kayak out a few times since we talked, I am pricing a Cobra Explorer right now. Can't wait till you get home so we can do some fishing.

An-R5er
7/24 The CA Fires '06 haven updated to include lightning fire information. It's no wonder resources are in short supply.

Be Safe.

Ab.

7/24  Is there a Green Sheet out on this yet? Does it get one?

http://ww2.rvcfire.org/firepio/process?action=viewIncident&id=21670 (pdf file)

Firefighter injuries:
1 with mild to moderate burns transported to Arrowhead Real Burn
Center for further evaluation.

SoCaF

7/24 &qut's not easy being green",

Daily availability for a P3 is between $9297-$10278 a day depending on
which tanker. (highe is T-23). Flight time is $6104 hr
Daily availability for a P2V is between $3231-$5670 a day depending on
which tanker and/or ve. Flight time is between $3537-$3850 hr, again,
depending on which tr and or vendor. (high rate is T-48 w/stress
monitoring equipment, currently nn service, but might be very soon...)
I can't speak to the S2T's cost's'm a big Kermit the Frog fan. Hope
this helps...)

Stanley,

Call me.

mtndv8
7/24 Hi Abs and all,

Just a heads up safety alert. With the ongoing heat wave we are having here in California one part of plant physiology may be appropriate to mention here.

When temperatures get as hot as they are now many species of oak transfer water from storage in their root system to their branches and leaves. This creates heavy loading on limbs that can result in breakage even without heat or flame impingement from fire.

This past Saturday night two firefighters from my department were under one of these branches when it let loose. This was close to midnight in the mop-up phase of a very small creeping fire in six inch fuels. There was no convective heat to speak of on the tree and no wind. Temperatures in the area for the past several days had been 100+.

They said it sounded like firecrackers going off and the next thing they knew they were slammed to the ground. Fortunately injuries were minor, abrasions mostly, and they were released from the hospital in about two hours after x-rays and a checkup.

The limb was about eighteen inches in diameter and broke at the joint to the main trunk. No visible signs of any external effects of heat anywhere on this limb or branches. If they had been about a foot more to one side I dread to think what would have happened.

Driving around the area today after I got off duty I saw several trees with broken limbs on the ground. Pines as well as oaks.

Just remember that even trees outside of the fire ground can pose a danger.

FirePig

Thanks, Ab.

7/24 I believe this has come up previously, but I am wondering if I could get the
atest and greatest information on any dispatch training programs, sites,
materials, etc. that may be out there?

Thanks!

Stanley
7/24 File Code: 6730 Date: July 22, 2006
Route To:

Subject: Expanded 72 Hour Briefing; Shelter Deployment, Shoshone NF

To: Richard Stem, Deputy Regional Forester

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE

At approximately 1615 hours on July 18, 2006, on the Little Venus Fire southwest of Cody, Wyoming, an eight-person Fire Use Module and two Shoshone National Forest employees deployed fire shelters during an active period of burning in the Greybull River drainage. No significant injuries were sustained and all personnel were safely evacuated from the fire.

This incident is a significant event but differs from past deployments in that the involved personnel were not actively engaged in the performance of an operational fireline assignment when the deployment occurred. They were en route to a camp location to de-brief with a crew they were replacing and would not be given a fireline assignment until the next operational period.

Narrative: Fire activity steadily increased on July 18 and eventually became extremely active, compromising the route to the cabin, and caused the firefighters to turnaround and move back down the drainage toward the trailhead. Ultimately, the rate of spread and long-range spotting of the fire exceeded the ability of the firefighters to move ahead of it and they deployed fire shelters near the confluence of Anderson Creek and the Greybull River. Because of the increased fire activity, and the fire shelter deployment, the management strategy of the fire was shifted from wildland fire use to wildfire suppression and a Type 2 Incident Management Team (IMT) was ordered on July 18, 2006. The IMT is implementing the appropriate management response to protect structures near the fire area, provide for fighter and public safety, and limit additional spread outside the wilderness. A review team has assembled to review the fire shelter deployment.

The shelters deployed were a mixture of older and new generation fire shelters. The ten individuals were in the shelters for approximately one hour while several fire fronts passed the deployment site.

/s/ Maribeth Gustafson
MARIBETH GUSTAFSON
Team Leader

cc: Carlos Pinto, Regional Safety & Health Manager, R2
Ted Moore, Branch Chief Fire Safety & Training, R2

Important points and more releases/details on the Little Venus Entrapment

7/23 Ab,

Thanks for sharing the NWCG Extreme Fire Behavior Safety Alert.
We were able to pass on the info to all personnel on our wildland fire.

On our incident, extreme fire behavior has been observed daily at all
hours of the day.

Thanks again, the info shared here contributes to keeping us all safe.

Yellow Angel

Glad to hear it. Ab.

7/23 Some of this goes back a bit so bear with me,

Curious,

Pre-connects and quick lays are kind of the same thing, many people use the term interchangeably. They are hoses set up for quick deployment, a pre-connect is like it sounds it is pre-connected to a discharge so a firefighter can pull the hose then a second firefighter can open the discharge. A quick lay to me means a hose set up similar to a pre-connect except the hose has to be connected to a discharge before it can be used. Both can have water at the nozzle very quickly. Structure engines often have pre-connects right behind the cab, running across the engine, they also call them cross lays or transverse lays. Forest Service engines usually have quick lays or pre-connects on the sides or at the back of the engine depending on what model engine it is.

DC10

As something of a skeptic about these "super tankers" it was nice to read an honest evaluation that shows the pros and cons. Most seem to just fixate on the massive amount of retardant and don't consider terrain or cost. Out of curiosity does anyone know what the hourly / daily rate is for the normal sized tankers, S2T, P3?

Resource availability

Seems to be many complaining that they are not being utilized. I'm not sure its fair to be finger pointing at "them" in the RO or WO, might want to start a little closer to home. My forest has had about 1/2 our engines gone since the beginning of June, everytime one group comes back another goes out. Same goes for our Type 1 crews, prevention people and overhead. Some forests are very cautious, some think the fire crews are primarily project crews, some just don't want to let people go for their own reasons.

You might want to check your status in ROSS too. We just started using it this year and there have been a few issues that have shown up, some had people that were available showing up as unavailable.

Employment issues

I'm rather surprised there has been so little talk about the region taking over hiring, we have had huge delays, no local input into the hiring etc. Jobs that were flown in Feb, were just filled in June, the backfill will probably take until next Feb. We can't even fill temp jobs at the moment.

The ENGB / ENOP issue is causing some of our modules to run 5 days, not because of a shortage of class B drivers / crew but because of the shortage of ENOP qualified drivers, we have had a hard time keeping the 5/6 level filled.

CDF has made a major change in the working conditions of their seasonals, from a 96 hour week to a 72 and they are getting more money out of it too. We've already lost several experienced seasonals and have many others that plan to apply next year. Add to this the fact California has legislation pending to allow Feds to buy their time into the state / county retirement system and next year could be "interesting" for those who are still green. A starting Captain for CDF makes 2x that of a Fed wildland Captain, a CDF seasonal makes about the same as a Fed wildland Captain.

I can't believe the apparent lack of interest in the idea a wildland series could actually be a reality, its only been a little over a month and its already through 1/2 the process. Looks promising, I thought there would be more excitement about this.

Other stuff

Seems like entrapments are up this year, thankfully all have been fairly minor so far but it looks like were looking at a busy season with alot of distractions. Hope we can avoid any serious injuries.

Just wanted to extend my thanks to Casey and the FWFSA, great job, the issues being brought to congress have helped me maintain a positive attitude despite some serious issues being dropped on us from above.

in the words of Kermit, sign me

its not easy being green

Glad yer writing in. Ab.

7/23 Lots of lightning mostly dry some moisture in areas lake and Harney county lots of strikes central Oregon some strikes mostly ran the cascade range putting jumpers in the wilderness lets see what sit says in am good night all
7/23 Northern California is getting hammered today with lightning. There was a huge anvil-shaped thunderhead stretching for miles north to south that was breath-taking on the one hand and rather scary on the other. There's smoke in the air over the Shasta T and the Six Rivers NFs. Heard there are lightning fires also on the Klamath and the Lassen.

The Hot List Forum is awesome. Thanks OA for creating it! SoCal is reporting lightning fires from yesterday.

I know resources are in short supply. Please choose tactics that fit your KSAs, resources, etc. Safety first!

Mellie

7/23 Re: Region 5 Engine Module Configuration Requirements letter.

I don't see anything wrong with the updated directive, whether it's a good form or not is another matter. As with many federal forms leaving little room for necessary verbiage, you simply input the old "see attached document".

What I read is, the first exception allows a dfm to send a short staffed engine, which could be a "swing" or supplemental engine staffed by non-fire folks, though qualified as indicated, to a lightning strike consisting of one small tree and a little ground litter that has received moderate rain. It doesn't say the dfm has to do so, just that they MAY. This option might free up a fully staffed engine for a more complex incident.

The other exception appears to address a situation that used to (and I'm sure still does) happen to me and the key wording I see is "outside the normal work day". As a former federal engine captain, I know how difficult it could be to round up the whole crew in the middle of the night and get them back to work in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes even trying to scrounge warm (and sober) bodies from the barracks didn't work. In these cases, I'd think it more than ok, I'd consider it prudent. Why would you want to have to wait a couple of hours for a full crew to just go investigate some citizens complaint of a "smell of smoke" in the air.

I'm just guessing, but I assume the prior letter dictated that the engine wouldn't roll without the 5.0 staffing level? I understand the importance of 7 day effective/5 person modules when it comes to normal daily staffing, but it also seems pretty obvious and beneficial to me why the update was issued. I don't see any snakes in this woodpile. What's the big deal?

SteveM
7/23 Hello to the Lolo and Flathead Hotshots from Montana who are spending some
time in sunny British Columbia. I had some fun switching from kW/m to BTU's
and meters/min to chns/hour but the bonus is I am now familiar with the "Haulin'
Index". Hope you all had a safe trip.

Smokedawg
FBAN
7/23 rE GACC UTF lists:

Aberdeen,

Are you kidding? Most of the GACCs can't/won't even update their News and Notes pages, with the notable exception of the Western Great Basin. They do a great job. SoCal hasn't updated since July 19th. They've got Kerr's team and maybe Garwood's team out since then. Nope, no news here... nothing to see, move along folks.

I've had a hard time this year ordering FS folks who show as available in ROSS for needed positions that the GACC says are UTF. Don't even get me started on not ordering local government folks to "save money" at the expense of having no resources on the fire.

I know that GACC's are short staffed, but c'mon now...

JF

7/23 I am looking for help to a problem.

I attended the Wildland Fire Fighter Specialist Apprenticeship program in California in 1992. I am unable to find my transcripts of courses completed. I have the certificates but no courses. I could use any suggestions on where to find them. I have already tried the state of California.

Thanks

Tamara Cowles

7/23 Lobotomy, Others Interested in Firefighter Safety:

It is likely that the NWCG's SAFETY ADVISORY : Extreme Fire Behavior has been held up in interagency review. The problem with getting fire behavior alerts out to the ground lies in interagency politics and red tape.

As an FBAN, I have drafted alerts regarding repeatedly observed extreme fire behavior and have been promptly labeled as an "alarmist" for my views. A wise old sage friend of mine (who also happens to be an FBAN and an RFMO) once corrected the naysayers, saying I was not an "alarmist" but an "alertist" and that I was well within my scope of duty. Nevertheless these alerts are sometimes not issued at all an interagency basis or are instead issued on a single agency basis as an internal memorandum.

The politics of either the need to spend funding or to save it (think Rx fire, WFU, etc.) is almost always at the root of the reluctance to endorse fire behavior alerts. This same mentality is what most years holds NWCG back from declaring Preparedness Level 4.

The need for these alerts arose from South Canyon and has been amplified repeatedly since then by other near-miss to fatal incidents. THESE ALERTS NEED TO GET TO THE FIELD ON A TIMELY BASIS!!!! The people who produce them understand the potential dangers of the fire environment and are looking out only for firefighter safety.

Maybe the day has come when politics has pre-empted firefighter safety. My best advice is for all firefighters to pay attention to all of their sources of information and most importantly to their own six senses.

Thank God for TheySaid and other forums where we can share concerns for firefighter safety without regard to bureaucratic politics.

I challenge the NWCG to get it right this year and to get the word out in an expeditious manner that there is a very dangerous period of time ahead of us in American wildland fire management. Everybody please be safe out there!

TCS
7/23 Young and Dumb,

I read what you wrote and it brought to mind a recent phone call I got.
The local Sheriffs office called asking if our fire company had a white truck.
We have a type 6 Ford F-350 white truck that is owned by our fire company.
What they failed to ask was if it was a DNRC truck.
We were willing to send our truck if they could have gotten a crew together, but nobody bothered to call us back.
There are plenty of resources out there but they never call them all in for a fire.
I'm in north central MT.

Cris

7/23 Although most of the GACC web sites look pretty standard these days,
some of them don't post a UTF (Unable to Fill) list. Not required Nationally,
especially as we hit PL4 and resources are hard to find?

Aberdeen
7/23 Rogue Rivers,

I wondered what the problem was with the scanner. Dangerous situation, no?

If this is chronic, someone needs to submit a safenet.

Todd

7/23 www.nwccweb.us/content/products/intelligence/amreport.pdf (pdf file)

read the northwest coordination center page we finally got fires in Oregon and it is 95 degrees at 11am in bend Oregon
7/23 RE: the R5 regional foresters engine staffing letter

So much for safety and what was worked so hard for regarding staffing levels.
Seems Money is the king and safety is a convenience once again... reminds me
of the late 70's and early 80's cutbacks after the Safety First recommendations
and progress of the early 70's...

You all be safe...
--
yactak
7/23 Yesterday morning, while listening to the Bigbearscanner.com (on the links page), I heard something about the San Bernardino National Forest Dispatch Center (FICC) going offline during multiple initial attack fires. One of those fires became a large fire and will be on the sit report today I think.

It sounded like the local battalion chiefs were dispatching fires and doing check backs.... and then responding as the incident commanders. Wow.... they are multi-talented folks? Some seemed very frustrated at the lack of communications and the lack of getting the resources they wanted and having to serve multiple roles.

They said something about the dispatch trailer had failed again and dispatch was working on a fix..... It was pretty bad commo.... even the non-dispatch people seemed to be garbled or cut off with nasty squealing noises half way through their transmissions... sounded like someone was stepping on their communications...... at one point, I heard someone say... Vegas.... Bristlecone IC.... hmmmm.... A FICC Dispatcher even said, "We are having Vegas interference again, can you repeat, you were completely covered by Las Vegas traffic..... .... Bristlecone Fire, per the News and Notes on the WGBCC is near Las Vegas, NV on the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF.... The HTF is not very far away from the San Bernardino in terms of air miles and terrain.... Friends of mine on the Berdoo say this is a common problem that has not been corrected even after continual complaints for the last two years. Both the CA-BDF and NV-HTF share a 171.475 frequency.

The dispatch folks and fire folks were working their butts off to maintain commo.... and keeping folks safe.

Is one or the largest federal dispatch centers in the US (USFS, FWS, BLM, NPS) dispatching out of a trailer? What is causing all of the interference? Is there a fix to those of us listening to their traffic on web link scanners?

I was disappointed.... There was so much radio interference and lack of info from dispatch...... I thought that the San Bernardino NF was a leader in the wildland fire program.... I guess I am wrong... There seemed to be some really big communications problems I never thought would exist down there......

Any more info?

Rogue Rivers
7/22 Ab,

The other day I was strolling through the wildland
firefighter memorial. Each time I visit I reflect on
my own experiences and notice that there are new items
left on the plaques by loved ones. There are
collections of toy helicopters, heart shaped rocks,
charred wood, even a piece of a skate board. It’s
hard not to get choked up. Many of the fallen were
just kids. The memorial is a sacred place. This week
I noticed that along with the plaques dedicated to our
fallen comrades, there are plaques for folks that
worked for 30 years, retired and died of old age. I’m
told there are plaques for people who are still alive
and are well liked. What has happened to the
memorial?

Concerned

Hi Concerned. Welcome to theysaid.

It's not a memorial; it's bigger than that.

It's a Monument, hence it serves many functions and means different things to different people. Here are some explanatory pages from the WFF website:
Wildland Firefighter Monument
Firefighter Monument History
Honoring the Fallen via the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, has a section on Monument Bricks.

I especially like that The Monument is a tribute to honor all of America's wildland firefighters and the people who support them. From the Vision expressed at the dedication ceremony:

"The Interagency Wildland Firefighters Monument is a place where people can appreciate, celebrate, reflect on, mourn, imagine and enjoy the wildland fire community’s endeavors and outcomes. The monument serves no single purpose or role; it is meant to be enjoyed by people from all walks of life."

7/22 Good Movie

Canyon fire from Lick Observatory, 3 minute pictures put into a Quicktime movie: mostly Plume, some fire at night.

http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/hamcam/canyonFire.mov

Very nice. (Ab can't remember moniker. People, please add your moniker or initials at the bottom of your post.)

7/22 Fellow Duty Officers,

Have you seen this new engine staffing letter and your new FORM to fill out? I would like to get your interpretation of this letter. Starting with: Exception #1 - the Duty Officer may direct an engine to respond to an incident while deviating from the standard 5.0 staffing. What does this mean to you? Does this mean your engine cannot be dispatched by your ECC? That it can only respond on the direction of the Duty Officer, "as if he/she already has enough to worry about during a response"? How many of you have an engine with a Cap, Driver and two Firefighters (4.0 staffing) daily and does your ECC status them as available?

The troubling thing is that I need to ask you what it means in the first place. Whatever happened to all this talk of less regulations, less paperwork, more doctrine and that it is now "leaders intent time in Region-5". If I hear this leaders intent one more time and then get a letter like this, I'm going to...... well never mind. Maybe I'm overreacting, and I'd like your thoughts. It's just amazing to me that no one can write a letter with a single or at least a 90% interpretation of the letter's intent.

I know this letter was first issued under different leadership, and I disagreed with parts of the letter then. Now we get an updated letter, with more questions, more regulations and to top it all off, a new form to fill out every day for the remainder of the fire season.

Here's what the letter says about the form:

"In order to determine the effects of implementing this direction, the
attached monitoring plan must be completed and maintained between
now and the end of November."

Signed,
Where have you gone RQ? A region turns its lonely eyes to you...

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

File Code: 5130
Date: July 10, 2006
Route To:
Subject: Region 5 Engine Module Configuration Requirements
To: Forest Supervisors

Operating under the direction issued in the Region 5 Engine Staffing letter issued on May 22, 2006, has resulted in some unintended consequences negatively affecting program agility, budget, and capability to provide interagency support. In response, I am superseding the May 22, 2006 letter. The purpose of this direction is to meet the intent of that letter by providing adequate leadership on our engines, and simultaneously improve our organizational capacity and ability to respond. Of course, crew safety will always be the primary consideration when applying this direction.

The Region 5 Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module Organization (SFFMMO) was developed by the Fire and Aviation Management Board of Directors (BOD) and outlined in the March 29, 2005 letter with subject “Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module Organization.” The SFFMMO was approved by each Forest Supervisor, the Regional Fire Staff, and the BOD. The standard was developed to provide a cost-effective way of doing business while continuing to provide safety, leadership and operational effectiveness on the modules. The Region 5 standard module configuration has not changed; Region 5 will continue to follow the SFFMMO.

According to the SFFMMO, the standard staffing for Type III engines is five fire personnel per day, seven days per week. This is commonly referred to as 5.0 staffing. The daily configuration for 5.0 staffing continues to include an Engine Boss (ENGB) who is not driving the engine and a qualified driver with Class B license and appropriate endorsements. The remaining three positions are comprised of a combination of senior firefighters, an apprentice, and a temporary position as displayed in the SFFMMO.

Exceptions to the SFFMMO for Type III Engines:

1. Based on the unavailability of module personnel due to fire assignments, illness, or annual leave, the Duty Officer may direct an engine to respond to an incident while deviating from the standard 5.0 staffing. The minimum staffing level under this scenario will consist of a qualified Engine Boss (ENGB) who is not driving the engine, a qualified driver with Class B license and appropriate endorsements, and an additional qualified firefighter.

2. Under rare circumstances, limited to initial attack on the home unit and when outside the normal work day, a Duty Officer may dispatch an engine staffed only by a qualified Engine Boss (ENGB) with a Class B license and appropriate endorsements, and two additional qualified firefighters.

In order to determine the effects of implementing this direction, the attached monitoring plan must be completed and maintained between now and the end of November. The results will be reviewed and discussed by the BOD at their regularly scheduled meeting in December, where they will develop a recommendation as to whether to finalize this direction as a supplemental directive prior to fire season 2007.

Any questions or comments regarding this letter should be directed to Ed Hollenshead, Acting Regional FAM Director, at 707-562-8925. The March 2005 letter, associated attachments, and the May 2006 letter are enclosed for reference purposes.

/s/ Beth G. Pendleton (for)
BERNARD WEINGARDT
Regional Forester

Enclosures
cc: Ed Hollenshead
Peter Tolosano
Susie Stingley
Michael Lococo
Ralph Domanski
Forest Fire Management Officers

2006 Region 5 Engine Module Configuration Monitoring
Forest ________________

Date

Engine ID

Modified Staffing Level /1

Reason/Duty Officer

Consequences /2

ENGB Driver FF1 App FF
                 
                 
                 

1/ Check all that apply
2/ Provide any information regarding the consequences (+/-) that can be attributed to responding with the modified level

7/22 From the Hot List, from North Ops, CA

Per North Ops @ 0800: Lightning activity in North Ops late last night from the Tahoe NF north through the eastern Plumas NF, Lassen NF and East Side PSA. Some isolated activity on the Shasta Trinity NF and Klamath NF. MWS

7/22 Well in central Oregon we are waiting temp currently 75 degrees at 8 am.

Humidity 50 percent heavy cloud cover. I hear our fire weather watch is
cancelled for central Oregon according to Boise fire weather. I will keep
you all poster here.

JDB

7/22 JDB,

The Oregon Governor made a "disaster declaration" which
allows the use of Military for fire fighting.

The dry lightning event fell apart yesterday but continued
predictions of lightning, with moisture, through the weekend
and into next week.

Mother Nature will do what she does..................... we just
try to prepare the best we can based on the weather predictions,
and then wait to see what happens.

LEE
7/21 JDB

Washington State DNR is sending two ships to Oregon tomorrow 7/22
to Stage. They will be use any place in the state. So it sounds like they
are trying to get somewhat prepared.

RAS
7/21 JDB,

Both Federal and State agencies are pre-positioning additional resources in southern
Oregon. Those additional resources are both agency (Federal and State) and contract
and include Engines, Tenders, 20 person Hand Crews and Dozers.

The local powers that be are certainly thinking about pre-positioning and preparing
for the predicted dry lightning event.

Sign me,

Waiting for it to happen
7/21 The Rogue River-Siskiyou NF is preparing for the forecasted lightning. There are some crews and engines that got hired on an ABC Misc code and there has also been an order for a type 2 rappel ship in addition to the type 3 that is based out of Grants Pass.

Still waiting to do something this season

RE
7/21 JDB,

No problem...don't know if they will have enough resources staged though.

Oliver
7/21 Dear Rob:

The FWFSA is working closely with its members on the San Juan including FMOs and others to secure critical data and information which the FWFSA is then providing to Senator's Allard & Salazar.

I don't think anyone in the field can relate to the "logic" behind the leadership teams that propose such cuts. The FWFSA will continue to do everything they can in ALL regions to educate congress on the impact of such cuts and the sometimes "head-scratching" decisions made by the Agency with respect to fire.

With respect to the Montana situation it is time for those in that state to be pro-active whether it be to support portal to portal pay, address "quit rates" etc. I urge all federal wildland firefighters in Montana who have issues to e-mail Heather Stefanik in Senator Burns' office @:

heather_stefanik@burns.senate.gov

tell her the FWFSA sent ya

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
7/21 Oliver, thank you for the info. I was not hearing that info.

JDB

7/21 Lobotomy,

I'm an FBAN and it's the first that I've heard about this alert. What the heck is going on?
We need to seriously yank some chains out there (or should I say up there).

FBAN
7/21 Lobotomy -

Being a young firefighter in Montana, I'm intrigued by
your stats on firefighters "quitting" the Forest
Service. I'm curious to know if that means "quit" to
go to another agency, quit to get a job after college
(lots of firefighters in MT are students with no
desire for a career in fire), or just quit one
district to go to another district or forest in the
FS? Also, is there a definition of "quit?" I'm just
curious, as I have changed districts and agencies a
few times in my seasonal career, but I'm still in fire
and trying to move up.

EX Eng Boss -

Resources were scarce during the last bust here in
eastern Montana, and I'm unsure if they still are now
that a few of those fires are dying down. I'm not
sure if resource orders are getting filled now, but I
know we had a hard time filling orders for certain
positions and equipment last week.

Young and Dumb in Region One
7/21 JDB,

Wrong on the Oregon preparedness. Engines from the Northwest part of
Oregon left yesterday to stage in the South Central part of the State. Nothing
foolish about the powers to be at the State level.

Oliver
7/21 Re: NWCG Safety Alert on Fire Behavior

"The NWCG members request that all Operations and Aviation resources who may be assigned to wildland fire incidents be oriented to the key messages from this safety alert to assist them in preparing for assignments in which they may be exposed to extreme fire behavior."

The first broadscale distribution of this fire behavior safety alert came on "They Said"..... Not within the federal systems of communication. Something is broken.

As a field level fire manager (ADFMO) in a very active fire area and an IIMT member, this "alert" never reached the field in a timely matter and has not been distributed throughout the Agencies....... I got the info through web-searching on my personal time.

Somebody (Somebodies) need to start distributing critical safety information better before someone gets hurt... or worse yet, killed......... This is just another example of the failures that exist in the program and getting factual info to the field.

Lobotomy

Well, hey, we all know where the REAL communication takes place! <haw, haw> Ab.

7/21 Does any body know why the Regional Forester in R2 and the
San Juan National Forest Supervisor are cutting all 3 ADFMOs
and 8 engineers across the forest?

Rob

7/21 Re: Early July postings on “They Said” by several folks and myself,

In 2005,

6% of “Forestry Technicians” with more than four years of experience “quit” in Montana in 2005. OPM considers any percentage in excess of 4% as excessive and outside what is needed for successful program delivery.

The majority of “quits” in 2005 were in the 1-4 year period in Montana (and they were in the 20%+ range). That percentage is the folks who, in the future, would become our future experienced wildland firefighters and our future leaders of the fire management program. No wonder why OPM considers a 4% loss rate as “excessive” in a single year.

The facts are simple. Even with a “low” 6% quit rate of folks with “more than 4 years experience”… the losses become very pretty significant over a 20-25+ year career in wildland fire.

The percentages in the 1-4 year folks…. That is critical, even in Montana. If you can’t keep the “kids”, the program fails. The old folks die off, retire, or “head to greener pastures“…. No “kids” to replace the “old farts”…… ya’all know the results.

The info is similar throughout the western US anyway you look at the data….. The younger folks aren’t staying , and the experienced wildland firefighters are leaving in higher numbers and percentages than ever before…… The experienced folks are leaving at higher numbers while the recruitment and retention at the lower levels is failing.

Experience, knowledge, and education are the keys to a safe and professional wildland fire organization. These rates of losses throughout the western US are not acceptable and will result in program failure at the very least…. Deaths of wildland firefighters, and the loss of the protection of our communities and our valuable natural resources at the worst…..

Destructive processes can be corrected and can result in an efficient and safer federal wildland fire program at some time in the future. Fingers crossed.....

JMHO

Lobotomy
7/20 I believe Oregon is not ready for the heat wave or potential dry lightning storm; no resources in central Oregon are staged for abc lightning or beefed up I figure they're in a wait and see mode instead of proactive; maybe they figure if a fire starts it will make their payroll easier. the rest of the united states needs resources; if you look at the am reports needs for crews and the contractors sit, no pre positions or staging. leave it to the powers to be to be foolish again .

JDB

7/20 Been There

Thank you, I thought the discharge required the compressor on the plane, did not realize
that loading the system was as complex. I see the NC planes are deployed to Medford,
OR now.

RJM
7/20 TO :
FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 07/20/2006
SUBJECT : SAFETY ADVISORY : Extreme Fire Behavior
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Safety Advisory: Extreme Fire Behavior

This summer, the National Incident Management Situation Report has consistently reported "extreme fire behavior", "very active fire behavior", "active fire behavior" or "rapid rates of spread" on large fires in many different geographic areas. Obviously, these same conditions are occurring daily on numerous smaller initial and extended attack fires in the same areas.

Rapid rates of spread, torching, crowning, running and long range spotting have been observed on many fires. Based on fire danger indices, the potential for extreme fire behavior exists during the coming weeks with periods of hot, dry conditions forecast.

Fuel conditions of concern include:
· Very heavy (now cured) fine fuel loadings in many locations
· Continuity of fuels, especially in grass/shrub regimes
· Extremely low live and dead fuel moisture values, well below historic levels for this time of year in some locations
· Extensive areas of bug-killed or frost damaged vegetation

Many locations in recent weeks have seen extended periods of higher than average daytime temperatures coupled with low relative humidity and periods of strong wind. Forecasts indicate above normal temperatures over much of the west for the remainder of the summer season. All of these conditions, coupled with local topographic effects, may combine to produce rapid rates of spread and extreme fire behavior. The NWCG members request that all Operations and Aviation resources who may be assigned to wildland fire incidents be oriented to the key messages from this safety alert to assist them in preparing for assignments in which they may be exposed to extreme fire behavior.

Wildland firefighters can mitigate the risks posed by these hazardous conditions in a variety of ways. These include:

· Maintain constant vigilance. Remember, most fires are innocent in appearance before unexpected shifts in wind direction and/or speed results in flare-up or extreme fire behavior
· Look up, look down, look around! A firefighter who has situational awareness is a safe firefighter.
· Practice LCES at all times: Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes and Safety Zones. You've studied them well - put that knowledge into practice.
· Use the Safety Zone Guidelines found on page 7 of the Incident Response Pocket Guide. Be extremely cautious when working in areas with potential for reburn.
· Pay attention to what your fire is doing, how it responds to changing conditions, and anticipate how fire behavior will change throughout the day.
· Closely observe the fuels in the area where you're working. Remember that fine, flashy fuels respond very quickly to changes in environmental conditions.
· "Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts". Stay attuned to the fire environment so that you notice the little, incremental changes in addition to the big sudden wind shifts.
· Develop an understanding of local conditions, especially if you are in an area unfamiliar to you. Demand a thorough briefing before engaging the fire.
· Monitor your health and well-being and that of your co-workers. Drink plenty of water to maintain your hydration level and monitor fatigue. Fatigue, dehydration and stress impair situation awareness. Take countermeasures as needed.
· Use Personal Protective Equipment. It was designed for your use and issued to you for your protection; it doesn't work if worn improperly or not carried.

Leaders of wildland firefighters have special responsibilities:

· Maintain command and control. As stated in the Standard Firefighting Orders, "Give clear instructions and insure they are understood" and "Maintain control of your forces at all times."
· Employ your subordinates in accordance with their capabilities. Consider team experience, fatigue and physical limitations when accepting assignments.
· Keep your subordinates informed. Provide accurate and timely briefings.
· Use the Risk Management Process identified in the Incident Response Pocket Guide. It will help you make good risk decisions.

Information on national and geographic area fire season outlook products can be found on the National Predictive Services Outlook page at www.nifc.gov/nicc/predictive/outlooks/outlooks.htm

A long, hot, and active fire season is still ahead of us in many parts of the country. Pay attention to firefighting basics. The most important resource on any fire is you.
7/20 I hear Montana, ND , are SCREAMING for Type 6 Engines. Anyone Know if they are getting their resource orders filled? I know being a driver around Washington and Oregon that's still sitting.

Just Curious.
Sign me EX Eng Boss
7/20 I'm trying to find a young man who fought fires out of the Eureka area (CA) in 2002, 2003. His first name is Ernie, and I don't have a last name for him; he had a girlfriend named Joan.

He may have been on a helitak crew. I don't know if he was USFS or CDF, so I don't have much to go on.

If anyone thinks they know him, please email me at sunilramalingam@hotmail.com.

Sunil
7/20 Re the MAFFS questions

There are 8 military C-130H aircraft used for the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) 6 of these are air guard ships, 2- North Carolina , 2-Wyoming and 2- California . 2 are USAF reserve from Peterson Field Colorado Springs CO. While the aircraft are military, the tanking systems are the US Forest Service’s. There are separate arrangements with the states that host the air guard units about how the states can activate these units.

The reload and discharge systems on these ships are different from a commercial air tanker and some special very high-pressure compressor equipment must be in place before they can reload at a tanker base. There are portable MAFFS tanker bases but they require time to get located and set up. The retardant tanking system is designed to be slid into and out of the aircraft without any changes to the aircraft. The discharge is out the rear door of the aircraft under pressure.

Generally speaking the civilian fleet has to be fairly well maxed out before the MAFFS are put in service. The MAFFS units will be placed in an area of heavy demand and once that demand lets up they will be released. Remember the aircrews are guard and reserve and have real jobs that they are away from. Almost all of these folks have done tours in the Middle East in the not to distant past.

All of the MAFFS aircrews under go an annual proficiency training that includes actual drops.

The next generation of MAFFS, what ever it winds up being called, is being designed to solve some of the reload problems and permit them to use bases without the additional compressor equipment.

Been There

7/20 DC10 ops Sawtooth:

Great report! I’ve been out of the wildland firefighting business for a number of years now, but follow the activity closely. As I live in the Southern Sierra’s I’m always

Curious of where the troops are deployed and the status for a local response if needed.

As far as low level large frame aircraft are concerned, I have spent a lot of time in close proximity to this activity. I’m at a R&D facility where this type of op is not uncommon. I have to admit though it does tend to influence your situational awareness when you are that close to that much metal coming your way. However I have never experienced any issues with wake turbulence or any other type of vortex. This issue would be predominant for a smaller aircraft following the big guy. The normal wait period for smaller aircraft is generally 3 minutes for landing or take off. Our main runway is 200’ wide and it seems our greatest issue is FOD particularly on a take off roll.

This would be particulates being blown up onto the runway from the jet blast of a large frame aircraft.

I am curious as to thoughts regarding Evergreen’s 747. It’s capacity is 23,000 ga. As was noted in earlier comments, this large of tanker is not an every day use thing,

But I envision that in certain situations it would have a positive effect. Would this much water (not so much retardant) have a positive effect on humidity levels if dropped from altitude? It seems that this type of application could have a real effect on a fire environment. Any input here?

For my education….

R. Aday
ARFF Chief
KMHV

7/20 Misery Whip,

I apologize that you feel like I "sucker punched" you. That was not my intent,
or my meaning. I appreciate your posts a great deal and think they add alot to
the discussion of firefighter safety and professionalism.

Again, I apologize for any misunderstanding.

Lobotomy
7/20 I understand that the North Carolina Air Guard MAFFS unit was
requested by Oregon on Wed., and remember seeing on the sit.
report that they were somewhere in the west a week or so ago.

Orwell
7/20 Re for info on the possible air turbulence effects of airtankers:

Ab.

We are talking about two different phenomena here:

1. Horizontal roll vortices -- this is a fire induced situation.
It occurs when there are low winds (less than 10 mph), average
humidities, and relatively flat ground. The largest one I
personally witnessed happened on July 1, 1988. The smoke columns
rise and are parallel to the ground. They then start to rotate --
like a horizontal tornado. Lastly, they collapse sending embers
down everywhere. Four of us were trapped in the fire. This
all happens within about two minutes. Also, this occurs during
low fire intensity and therefore causes a serious, sudden,
unexpected blowup.

2. Wing tip vortices -- this is from turbulence off the wing
tips of large air tankers. I have seen research on this but not
sure if it occurred during the situation I was in. I have been
told that wing tip vortices can accelerate horizontal roll vortices.

Somewhere, I have research papers on this. Also, it is discussed
on a video that was done on this fire. It grew to about 1200 acres
in four hours.

GC

Thanks GC. For those interested: Wake Turbulence Review
Sounds like the DC-10 was dropping from 300'. Ab.

7/20 Kelly,

Thanks for the real data regarding the DC 10 drops. Facts as you have posted them
are the basis for informed decision making. Good work on your part as always!

Yactak

7/20 Re MAFFS

Stanley

Thanks, I know that, just wondering why they are not being used after all the noise about deployment.

Yellow Angel
Thank you, I was in the neighborhood, wrong base; I am recalibrated.

The question still remains why are they not being used?

Ab

You have any thoughts on that?

Great information on the Carding of the DC-10. CDF is obviously being very methodical about this. I think this is both fiscally responsible and prudent from a safety standpoint. Well qualified lead plane, thought out plan for the operation.

By the way, is the pilot the only one on the CDF OV-10's or is he just a driver for the Airboss? I think I sometimes hear 2 different voices on the same AA but not sure. I suppose I could drive to the Ramona Base and ask, but it is hot there.

And thanks to "jimhart" for his informative post on the fuel situation.

Thank you Ab for all the good information exchange. Keeps people up to date and you jump in where BS erupts.

RJM

7/20 Anymore have additional info on what the National Wildland Fire Enterprise Architecture Project (NWFEA) is?

Is it something that the firefighters know about?.... is it something the public knows about?.... Is it something that the elected officials know about?

Is it something that can be FOIA'd for additional info?

Is it something wildland firefighters should support?

Is it something wildland firefighters should reject?

Will it increase safety and efficiency?

Is this fact or fiction?

Gizmo
7/20 Re: Little Venus Fire Entrapment and Shelter Deployment

I am really happy that all of the firefighters escaped un-injured. In light of so many WFU fires this year being converted to wildfires, I hope there is some serious discussion about the risk vs. gain.

The risks to firefighters, the public, communities, and resource values must be addressed if this program is to succeed in the future. WFU is just another tool in the toolbox…. It has a purpose and place, but is not always an appropriate option. It may or may not have been appropriate in this case.

Does anyone know, when a WFU fire is converted to a wildfire, is there a review or investigation completed? I only ask this question because if a prescribed fire escapes or exceeds prescription, a full on review happens with recommendations for changes.

Little Venus Fire History

6/24/2006: Initial ICS 209 shows the fire started on 06/19/2006. 110 acres.
6/25/2006: No change.
6/26/2006: 222 acres.
6/27/2006: 235 acres.
6/28/2006: No change.
6/29/2006: 335 acres.
6/30/2006: 339 acres.
7/01/2006: 580 acres.
7/02/2006: 780 acres.
7/03/2006: No change.
7/04/2006: No change.
7/05/2006: No change.
7/06/2006: No change.
7/07/2006: Acreage reduction due to more accurate mapping - 715 acres.
7/08/2006: No change.
7/09/2006: No change.
7/10/2006: No change.
7/11/2006 - 7/15/2006: No ICS 209’s submitted.
7/16/2006: 3,000 acres.
7/17/2006: 6,712 acres.
7/18/2006: 10,000 acres. Type 2 team ordered. Shelter deployment. Fire converted to a wildfire.
7/19/2006: 12,000 acres.

Lobotomy

Inciweb on Little Venus. Ab.

7/20 Hey DW:

Want to come out West?? We still have slots on our T2IA Crew:
Its a Forest Service regular hand crew; Call 541-498-2239

Ask for Robert or Jill.

7/20 Lobotomy,

During the past couple of years, I have trolled in several posts a statement that Maria Cantwell is out to punish firefighters for making errors in judgment. My tongue was firmly planted in my cheek each time I wrote that, but you are the first one who has apparently taken it seriously.

Since you took the bait, I’ll tell you straight up my hunch is that Maria Cantwell probably IS trying to improve the welfare of Forest Service firefighters. Unfortunately, she seems to be asking the wrong people for advice on how to go about that. A bill to grant OSHA oversight of wildland firefighting is just another really bad idea that could become law. Hence my use of the word “misguided” in references to Ms. Cantwell.

I doubt that you’d argue that regardless of the intent of the Hastings bill, the result has been a disaster. Well-intended but misguided attempts to fix our culture without first attempting to understand the strengths and weaknesses of that culture will produce nothing but more uncertainty and problems. I am more concerned about reality than intent.

You said,

“The OIG process has been bastardized through lack of experience in the investigative process by investigators and by meddling by the folks mentioned above (Rey and Bosworth). If the bill was implemented properly, a highly skilled cadre of wildland fire entrapment investigators would have been hired.... not a rag tag group of "fraud" investigators.”

Since you’re concerned about getting facts correct, I’m sure you know I am an advocate of professional investigations by culturally sympathetic wildland fire entrapment investigators. You said if the bill was implemented properly, a highly skilled cadre of wildland fire entrapment investigators would have been hired etc. I’m curious to know how you came by that FACT, and the FACTS about Bosworth & Rey. I’ve not heard a whisper anywhere of those FACTS before today.

You also said,

“The bill that was passed to require an independent investigation of Forest Service fatal fires WAS the DOC. HASTINGS bill introduced and passed in the House, NOT the Maria Cantwell version. Somehow, many people keep saying and pointing attacks at the Cantwell version without knowing the facts. Anyone who keeps saying the "Cantwell Bill" loses all credibility without speaking to JUST the facts and intent of the legislation...”

I’ll concede your point about the Hastings bill being the bill that was passed into law, but Hastings and Cantwell both submitted versions of a similar bill after Thirtymile. Doc Hastings seems to have faded out of the picture but Maria Cantwell is still out there stumping, now apparently for OSHA fines for firefighters.

But since you put “Cantwell Bill” in quote marks, I’d say I have a reason to complain about YOU misquoting me. Where did you find those words in my 7/12 post? Sounds to me like you’re trying to put words in my mouth and then attack me for them.

You also said,

“Somehow, the sh*t needs to start rolling uphill to effect change for firefighter safety. The folks who are resistant to change and who are causing the change for safety to fail, and result in increased risks to firefighters that are doing their jobs as they are trained and instructed..... and to be potential targets of civil and criminal prosecution for doing their jobs..... all along while the true problem (culprit) is never addressed or reaches the radar screen... should be the targets of any investigations... not the troops in the field.”

You’re preaching to the choir, Lobotomy. If you’ve been following my They Said rants, you know I’ve said that on many occasions in many ways. And I’ve gone beyond “somehow,” I have proposed that an investigation empowered on the level of the Dryden Investigation or Columbia Accident Investigation will be required to get us beyond our present predicament.

The knowledge and skills to do such an assessment exist in our country today, but it usually requires a great crisis for politicians to exercise the will to put forth such a proposition. My guess is that it will take 20+ people killed on a burnover to generate that level of political angst.

I usually like your posts but this sucker punch was weak and petty. I expected better from you.

Misery Whip

7/19 Re DC-10:

Just to add to what Dennis Brown and Ray Chaney posted regarding the use of the DC-10.

I was on the Sawtooth and saw how effective this aircraft can POTENTIALLY be. The two drops included a line of retardant 1.3 miles long and 26 feet wide with good saturation on the ground and no apparent debris was knocked out of the timber canopy onto the ground where the drops were made. This WILL NOT BE A REPLACEMENT FOR THE S-2T, but another tool in our toolbox. The cost: $26,500/hour with a three hour minimum plus the cost of the retardant at 12,000 gallons per load. That’s about a $100,000 commitment and it will take a minimum of 24 hours to activate the program. You won’t see it on initial attack at that cost! However, where there is a threat to life and property in urban interface areas or communities (such as last year’s Topanga fire in S.Cal), or infrastructure such as 500KV powerlines, the use would be warranted. More evaluation is needed and more training required, on how to best use this new tool, but the initial results are promising that this may become a viable tool.

Kelley Gouette
Battalion Chief/Air Operations
CDF/San Luis Obispo County Fire

7/19 Little Venus Shelter Deployment

Just in...... TC

Little Venus Wildland Fire Use
Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming

Yesterday afternoon, a ten-person Fire Use Module (USDI BLM – Grand
Junction District, Unaweep Fire Use Module) deployed fire shelters on the
Little Venus Fire Southwest of Cody, Wyoming. All crewmembers were safely
evacuated and no burn injuries were sustained. Crewmembers were evaluated
at a local hospital for smoke inhalation and were subsequently released.

Current fire size is estimated to be 10,000 acres. There is potential for
the fire to burn another 80,000 acres (within the originally defined MMA)
over the next six weeks.

Lightning ignited the fire on June 19, 2006 in the Venus Creek Drainage, 30
miles west of Meeteeste WY (T47N, R105W, Sec 28, 44 04' 56”, 109 24' 35").
Decision to manage as wildland fire use was based on initial size-up which
indicated that the fire

· Was located in an area approved for wildland fire use
· Posed little threat to private property and populated areas
· Would reduce fire hazard in an extensive area of beetle-killed spruce-fir/lodgepole

The Northern Rockies Fire Use Management Team (Weldon) developed a short
term plan for management and then a more in-depth long term assessment and
management plan. Although the fire is still burning entirely on Forest
Service ownership it has crossed the previously established eastern
boundary of the Maximum Manageable Area (MMA). Prior to July 18, 2006 the
fire burned within the parameters of both of those plans.

Strategy for management of this fire has shifted to suppression due to the
shelter deployment and threats to private land. Five (5) highly defendable
structures on private land and one owned by Wyoming Fish and Game
Department are threatened.

An investigation team has been ordered to determine the reasons for the
deployment. The team is being led by White River Forest Supervisor,
Maribeth Gustafson. Tim Foley, Grand Junction District - BLM is the DOI
representative on the team

Thanks for that info. Little Venus Fire website. Be Safe All. Ab.

7/19 I saw in a previous post that there were 18,000 wildland firefighters.  Is this in CA, The West, or nationwide?  Is this how many firefighters hold redcards?  I have been on my county's pre-arranged wildland crew for several years now, but this is my first year holding a red card.  I am with a Type II IA team out of Asheville NC, just wondering what my chances were of getting to go on a Western Fire Detail this summer and if you had any links that could help me keep up with my chances.

DW

7/19 RJM,

When the MAFFS are in So Cal, they are based out of the National Guard
Air Base at Point Mugu, just south of Oxnard.

Yellow Angel
7/19 Ab,

I had the pleasure of being a part of this fine team of individuals (photo) that carded the DC-10 (photo) and flew as part of the crew on the Sawtooth Fire. I have to say that our team was a little apprehensive at first by this size of aircraft. We all agreed that safety was our primary directive and political pressure would not sway our decision making process. We performed 3 flight tests. Two on Saturday and one on Sunday morning. The first had our lead plane pilot (ex-USFS) onboard to evaluate crew coordination. On the ground myself and Chief Dan Ward assessed the drops from the ground. We not only wanted to assure safety of all pilots in the Fire Traffic Area but the troops on the ground as well. The DC-10 drop configuration is exactly the same as if it were landing at an airport. 140 kts at 35 degree flaps. Typically 160 kts in the pattern on base to final we slow to 140. Typical airtanker speed. This gives us 28 kts above stall speed a good safety margin. First drop was coverage level 6 half load. It was a very good dispersement of the load. It should be as these are the same tanks used on the S-64 Skycranes with some minor modifications. Second load was coverage level 9 with the remaining load. All drops were at 300' above ground level. Vortices were minimal. The aircraft we found moves very little air. Its the load of retardant pushing the air out of the way that creates a minimal vortices. We performed a second series of drops with evaluation and some forming up procedures with our CDF lead plane ( a first for CDF). At the end of the day the team was impressed with our findings.

The aircraft performance was very good even with 50 tons in the tanks. This aircraft it turns out that even with a 50 ton load is still 60,000 pound under max gross weight. Again a little performance safety margin. Sunday we performed another drop test coverage level 9 full load similar to what we felt we might use on the fire if assigned. Prior to this drop we performed some low level work with a full load on board. Form ups and communications over the target area. At the end of this flight we debriefed and the consensus was that with a lead plane, really an ASM (lead plane pilot and ATGS) along with an ATGS onboard the DC-10 as a technical advisor, the DC-10 could be safely carded for CDF only fires. Once carded we were assigned to the Sawtooth fire. Our CDF lead plane scouted the fire area that Operations wanted the drops and determined it a safe mission. The DC-10 made two drops of 12,000 gallons each in moderate terrain. About coverage level 8 or 9. We produced 1.3 miles of retardant line in those two drops. We received positive feedback from ground troops (hot shot sup. and dozer group) that came into the area post drop. They report good coverage on the ground.

Now this is not the panacea of aircraft! It does have limitations. The crew of Tanker 910 was the first to point this out. It was refreshing to see that we were not getting the hard sell from this company. The aircrew was very professional and crew coordination was excellent. One of the DC-10 Captains had previous Airtanker experience flying a PB4Y and P2V-7 which made us all feel more comfortable. I believe this aircraft can provide a valuable resource in the right conditions. In other circumstance it will not work. Based upon training and cost this is not an initial attack aircraft. This type of aircraft would be appropriate for major fires or rapidly expanding extended attack fires.

Below Dennis Brown (Region 5 USFS Aviation Safety Officer) posted this information on the AAP website. Chief Brown was an integral part of the CDF team that put this together. His knowledge and insight provided us information in areas that we might not have considered. Without his input this would not have been the success that it was. I hope this information helps.

Thank you.

Ray Chaney
Battalion Chief
CDF FIRE

OPSC,AOBD,ATGS

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

The California Department of Forestry has carded and approved for use a DC-10 airtanker. This aircraft is owned and operated by "10 Tanker Air Carrier, LLC" and will be for CDF use only at this time dropping only within the State's Direct Protection Area, (DPA). The aircraft is based and will be working and reloading out of the Victorville airport only at this time.

The aircraft will be carrying 12,000 gallons of retardant and has an interim Interagency Airtanker Board approval. The DC-10 tanker has been assigned the designator of Tanker 910.

The following operational considerations have been put in place by the evaluation team as precautions for the overall safety of this operation and any other incident aircraft that are assigned to incidents that it may be working. As this aircraft is worked on actual incidents and experience with the aircraft in different terrain and conditions are observed, these
considerations may be adjusted one way or the other.

1. The pilots are carded for airtanker drops, but are not initial attack rated.
2. All runs by this airtanker will be conducted with and under the supervision of a Leadplane. At present, CDF is assigning one of their OV-10 Broncos with a qualified Leadplane pilot (recently retired Forest Service Leadplane pilot) for this mission. Until such time as the Forest Service or BLM begins using this asset, this will be the only approved Leadplane combination that will be used with Tanker 910. If the CDF "Lead" is not available, the DC-10 will not be used.
3. No integration with other incident aircraft is planned for at this time. ATGS and Lead will assure that other incident aircraft are separated sufficiently to avoid any potential conflicts. As information is gathered and people get used to the capabilities and limitations of this aircraft different parameters may be developed.
4. Every attempt will be made not to disrupt the flow of other incident aircraft with the use of the DC-10. Other aircraft will remain clear of the drop area of this aircraft for 3 minutes after the drop run as per standard FAA wake turbulence avoidance procedures. ATGS and Lead will advise incident aircraft of this and not clear aircraft into this area during this period.

Flight profiles for this aircraft during testing were not that much different then a conventional large airtanker and should not require any large increase in airspace requirements to complete this mission. Drop characteristics are also similar as they are using a constant flow tank similar to what you would see on a P-3 or an Erickson Skycrane. Drop heights will be kept higher, in the 200 to 300 foot range due to the increased volumes available and to make sure that initially we are not causing any problems on the ground. Again, this tanker has interim approval from the IAB and has demonstrated that they can make drops safely from 200'.

The Forest Service is working with 10 Tanker Air Carrier, LLC towards approval as well, but additional information and documentation to meet current Forest Service requirements is required.

Dennis W. Brown
Pacific Southwest Region
Aviation Safety Manager

7/19 RJM,

MAFFS = Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems

www.fs.fed.us/fire/aviation/fixed_wing/maffs/index.html

Stanley
7/18 Just in case yer think'in you're missing out on what looks like a decent fire season for a change, there are several long time, trustworthy businesses, that include new or updated "seeking firefighters" ads over the last 24 hours on the Jobs Page.  If you tell them Original Ab sent you, ya might get a hiring bonus.  Actually, I doubt it, but ya won't know if ya don't ask.  OA.
7/18 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
7/18 Gizmo,

Here is a start to your question about the facts that were told to Congress and the public.

Incident Management Teams on order or committed as of 1900, 07/18/2006:

7 - Type 1 Teams
15 - Type 2 teams

Large fire activity throughout the West with the exception of the Pacific Northwest area.

Competition for air resources (airtankers and helicopters), ground resources (crews engines, and dozers), and overhead.

Rough estimate is 13,500 of the 18,000 firefighters that Mark Rey said were available are now committed.

Lobotomy

Here's Lobotomy's specific breakdown: Teams Committed or On Order - 07/18/06

7/18 Anyone know where the MAFFS unit is, never heard them used; NIFC SITREP dropped them a while back.
Also I thought there was a similar one here in CA, at like Santa Barbra or Vandenberg.
While not DC-10 or 747 they have a lot more retardant than the other planes. And the C131 is a proven workhorse, as long the history of the plane is known. Some were just worked too hard with no records.

For standardization and reliability the CDF S2T's take the prize. They were designed by the Navy to take a beating. They do great work, are reliable but just need a lot of loads on the bigger fires. Plus they can get down in where the bigger planes cannot. Have seen them drop in back yards etc. Of course there is no point in any plane trying to drop in winds over say 30 MPH. Maybe low and slow to create an anchor point or safe zone, just slop it in. Super for IA on lightening starts or anything that can be caught by good IA by the Airboss and some tankers. Just need proper maintenance, proper maintenance, proper maintenance. Not like some contractors apparently trying to skimp.

I guess the DC-10 showed it can lay a reliable line, where it can work. Will take a lot of cost/benefit analyses to figure that one out. Say prevent 1 fatality=worth it.

I will shut up now.

RJM
7/18 Lobotomy:

Re. your recent post to Misery Whip starting

"On 7/12 you said... "Speaking of investigations, I found an interesting article today on Thirtymile and Maria Cantwell’s continuing misguided campaign to punish firefighters who make errors in judgment."
I usually agree with you and applaud your posts, but this time I have to step in and disagree..."

I found your remarks right on target and you captured my thinking perfectly. Well said man, and thanks for the facts!

Sign me,

GGFire

7/18 Dear Gizmo:

I am one that will have to stand by what Lobotomy has said, not only in the post you referred to but the many instances in which he has in fact provide a wealth of data and factual information from the field.

I have the opportunity on a daily basis to hear from our members across the country about some of the dynamics they are facing and how Agency policy has impacted them and their crews. We are fortunate to represent those in all ranks of fire from entry-level to Forest Fire & Aviation Chiefs so the information we get is not only diverse but factual.

I also deal with congress on a daily basis by having to illustrate (using the information obtained from the field) to them what is in fact going on as compared to what they are told over the course of several months and through a number of congressional hearings.

I can honestly tell you that the picture painted for congress by the USDA & the FS is a far cry from the realities of the field. We have been able to prove that to a number of congressional offices which has led to our being invited to craft questions to be asked by congress to the likes of Mark Rey, Chief Bosworth etc., in an attempt to get real answers from the top.

Part of the problem is that Congress, for so long now, has only heard from the Mark Reys & Dale Bosworths. As a result, congress has had to rely on their testimony to 1) appropriate sufficient dollars, 2) be informed as to the expected severity of any season and 3) be informed as to the readiness of the Agencies to respond to the season pursuant to the intent of the National Fire Plan.

There are glaring problems. One is that the Forest Service has too many projects. To protect their political appointed rear-ends, instead of telling congress what they need to fund all projects, they simply agree with the budget proposal offered by the President. As a result, other projects are borrowed from to pay for fire and now fire is being borrowed from to pay for other non-fire projects.

Fortunately congress is finally "getting it" with a number of Senators referring to the budget mess as a "shell game".

Mr. Mark Rey has testified before congress that "preparedness allocations have been reduced while suppression funding is up." That is a direct contradiction to the intent of the National Fire Plan which is to focus on preparedness in order to reduce the costs of suppression.

Unfortunately, when only 3 of 13 senators attend the hearing in which those comments were made, it is clear why it is so difficult to educate congress on what is going on. They too, have too many projects!

The diversion of fire preparedness & fuels funds for non-fire projects, namely the boon-doggle service center in New Mexico, has had a clear and distinct impact on the preparedness in the field. Move-ups in Southern California are taking more than 24 hrs.; orders from SoCal can't be filled; vacancies abound even to the point where some hotshot crews are not being assembled.

Similar circumstances are found in Colorado and other western states. Ray Q knows all this. He steadfastly stood up to the leadership and told him what the impact of their policies is having on the firefighters. There is no confusion about how federal agencies are prepared for this season.

We are working very hard to get congress to address the problem before a firefighter or one of their constituents is severely injured or killed. Sadly, it may come to that before we can get some of these elected officials out of "re-election" mode and into civil service mode.

Casey Judd
Business Manager FWFSA
7/18 Hello all lurkers can someone please help describe the difference or
standardization of a Pre-connect vs. Quick-lay I have seen different
places flip-flop the names of these tools ?

Signed Curious????
7/18 To: “Waiting For Justification”

Who says the need is great? California is winding down now and there does
not appear to be any drastic need for resources nation wide. Be patient, this
might be a VERY long summer and everyone will get their shot.

DC Ret
7/18 Ab,

You asked about the effects of prop wash from large and small aircraft.

Yes, I have had experience with the effects of prop wash on fire behavior.
It gets into an event related to "horizontal roll vortex". Also, it
relates to "wing tip vortices". There has been a lot of research done on
this topic here in our region.

Let me know if you want more info.

GC

What are the differences between the two and what are the potential safety implications, if any, for firefighters on the ground? Ab.

7/18 NICC is activating preparedness level 4 under the National Fire Preparedness Plan.

AL

7/18 Does anyone out there use TriTech for their CAD system? If so, what is your opinion
of them regarding project management, customer service, or just the actual software?

I'm looking at a job in their company and thought I'd try and check with the actual
users if I could find any...

Sign me,
searching
7/18 The nature of the "fuel model" concept is that those models may cover a wide
range of the seven fuels characteristics (fuel bed depth, fuel loading,
surface area to volume ratio, vertical arrangement, horizontal continuity,
fuel moisture characteristics (extinction), compactness) that may not
necessarily conform to the "cookie cutter" pictures shown in Anderson. The
fuel models are only NUMBERS. Numbers that express those seven
characteristics that are input into the Rothermel Mathematical Fire Spread
Model. For example using Fuel Model 4 for "red slash" is very common.

You have to ask yourself what is carrying the fire. Well, what was carrying
the fire on the Sawtooth the first two or three days was heavy grass
cover (heavier than normal due to sufficient rain during the short desert
growing season), with scattered jackpots of heavier fuel. Does that sound
familiar? With Fuel Model 2 and 35 mph winds and fuel mositures in the sub
5% range, BEHAVE outputs are ROS 1865 Ft/minnad 48' flames. This is in the
realm of what I saw. It was very similar to fuel model 2, so we used fuel
model 2. The report is accurate. And I am not on the investigation team, I
do have intimate knowledge of the fire behavior.

Fireball XL5

7/18 Jimhart,

The only thing I can add to is, "tell Dr. Minnich" hello and ask if he ever watches the
Discovery Channel show "Myth Busters".

Hopefully it will shut him up (fingers crossed x 2)... until he can speak factually on
the wildland fire problem in the area he professes to be an expert in.

Personally, I am tired of his BS.

Ken
7/18

Avian Influenza Bulletin Number 3

July 14, 2006

There have been numerous developments in the planning for a possible avian influenza outbreak and/or a human influenza pandemic in the United States since Avian Influenza Bulletin #2. The purpose of today’s bulletin is to summarize some of those developments and give everyone some indication of Forest Service actions and things to come.

USDA Avian Flu Brochure

USDA has produced an avian flu brochure that will be distributed nationwide over the next few weeks. The brochure is an excellent document for employees and their families to reference for information concerning avian flu. The brochure addresses such issues as: What is the avian influenza? How can people be affected by avian influenza? What USDA is doing to protect the United States, including wild bird surveillance and testing. Due to the potential for avian influenza
along bird migratory routes, the first production run of the brochures will be distributed to USDA northwest locations, including FS visitor centers. The second production run will be distributed nationally to FS regions.

Interagency DOI/FS Response and Preparedness Plan

The Draft Interagency Response and Preparedness Plan is under review at DOI and was presented to the Forest Service Executive Leadership Team (ELT) on July 11. The ELT is reviewing the plan and will provide comments on the draft to the interagency committee developing the plan. Additional information is needed from OPM related to personnel issues and policies, which may delay finalizing the plan. The plan contains numerous appendixes including interim plans by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for personal protective equipment requirements for responders to a highly pathogenic avian influenza event, as well as deployment screening questionnaires and other key information and checklists.

R/S/A Influenza Workforce Protection Plans

Nearly all R/S/As have reported that they have drafted and/or published Influenza Workforce Protection Plans. Many R/S/As continue to provide the Washington Office (WO) with updates to their plans. The next step will be to test the plans for viability. We expect to receive additional guidance on testing in the coming month.

COOP and the WO Influenza Workforce Plan

The Washington Office is currently soliciting input to the WO Avian Influenza Workforce Plan Annex to the WO Continuity of Operation (COOP) Plan from members of the Associate Deputy Chief’s Working Group for Avian Influenza. Comments, additions, and recommended changes will be integrated into the annex before final approval and before addition to the WO COOP Plan. Once the annex is published, the WO will implement the plan through a series of employee notification tests and table-top exercises.

A COOP Plan and Avian Influenza/Pandemic Annex is also under development for the Albuquerque Service Center.

OPM Guidelines Update

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Pandemic Influenza Information website is located at:
http://opm.gov/pandemic/. This new feature provides employee and agency guidance for existing policies relating to hiring and leave flexibilities, and medical program management. Additionally, a number of important links are made available and the site is updated regularly.

Avian Influenza Surveillance Program

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is working with the Departments of Agriculture, the Interior, and Health and Human Services to monitor bird populations for the earliest possible detection of the H5N1 virus if it enters this country. The plan contains five major strategies:

  • Testing wild birds that have died or are sick offers the highest and earliest probability of detecting the H5N1 strain should it be introduced into this country by migratory birds. This strategy expands existing programs to investigate disease outbreaks.
  • Sample testing of live wild birds will target those species that represent the highest risk of being exposed to, or infected with, the H5N1influenza strain because of their migration patterns. Many populations of migratory birds that nest in Alaska
    spend winter in parts of Asia where the virus is endemic.
  • Sample testing of hunter-killed and subsistence harvested birds at check stations operated by the USFWS and State natural resource agencies supplements the samples from live wild birds.
  • Monitoring and testing of sentinel animals such as duck flocks that can be placed in wetland areas where they will commingle with wild birds. The ducks are then monitored and tested for the virus.
  • Environmental sampling monitors water and/or fecal samples from waterfowl habitat. The USFWS has submitted or finalized funding agreements with the States of WA, NV, UT, MT, and OR, and with the U.S. Geological Survey, to fund wild bird surveillance in Pacific Flyway States other than Alaska.

The USFWS in Alaska currently has 16 projects in the field collecting samples from live birds. July is anticipated to be the busiest sampling time, with 28 projects in the field at peak sampling. To date, 3,626 live birds in Alaska have been tested and the H5N1 virus has not been detected.

Employee and Public Awareness Effort

The best thing you can do for yourself, coworkers, and your family is to find out everything you can about avian influenza and pandemic influenza outbreaks. The potential for the avian influenza to mutate and become a human influenza pandemic
continues to receive a lot of media coverage and is of concern to everyone. The White House and all of the Federal Government are working diligently to prepare and plan for this contingency. A critical part of that effort includes publishing communication products on websites to support Government, State, and individual and community planning efforts.

Keywebsites include:

General Information:

Prevention: avoiding the spread of colds and flu – workplace hygiene

Preparedness:

Hunter precautions and field biologists handling wild birds:

What is Going On in Your State?

As mentioned before, it is the individuals’ responsibility to find out everything they can about avian influenza and pandemic  influenza outbreaks.

Another source of information, in addition to the Federal Government, USDA, and the Forest Service Web sites mentioned above is the State/locality information site.

If you go to: www.pandemicflu.gov/usamap.html and click on your State, you will find out such things as the status of your State pandemic planning; local State agriculture, health, and wildlife information; Federal funding assistance for States; and other related information. This information, in case of an outbreak of avian influenza, may be critical to you and your family’s health and welfare.

7/18 Greetings all,

Looking at the hot list here on the NEWS page, I am seeing a trend called "Lack of aircraft" being reported on many of the fires in The Sierra Nevada area.

I have looked at a few of the GACC reports and it seems to me that there are aircraft available and sitting. For example, in Region 6, there are many type 2 and 3 helicopters available with 5 to 15 crewmembers available with each. Why aren't these aircraft being utilized with a need that seems to be so great?

I am sure there are reasons, but I was wondering what they may be.

Signed,

Looking for justification
7/18 Lobotomy, you said....

"If I was an investigator and investigating wildland firefighter fatalities or near miss incidents, I would start at the top and look at the statement(s) of the folks who really make decisions... Mr. Mark Rey and Chief Dale Bosworth. Recent Congressional Testimony (both House and Senate) can be proven to be factually incorrect and leaning towards contempt of Congress... if not outright perjury."

I wonder if you or others in the wildland fire community can clarify and give facts about what has been said to the Congress, the public, and our local elected officials..... and how that info differs from what is actually happening on the ground? There seems to be lots of confusion about how the federal agencies are prepared for this fire season, and they seem to be missing the boat somehow.

I also wonder if the Q man is still out there as a "new" retiree amongst other retirees who have a great interest in wildand fire...#1 Goal keeping folks safe...... now is the time to speak up my friends to protect firefighters.

Lobotomy, any facts? Or are we going to wait to the end of fire season to calculate our "losses" yet again?

Gizmo

7/18 This was posted at various places on the web today and was received in e-mails.

Due to the frequency, and number of Aviation Incidents involving aircraft owned and operated by New Frontier Aviation, of Ft. Benton Montana, all the Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) owned and/or operated by New Frontier Aviation, of Ft. Benton, Montana will be temporarily stood down for a period of not less than 48 hours, pending a review by Aviation Management Directorate. This "Stand Down" is to be effective starting at 1000 MDT, on July 17, 2006. http://gacc.nifc.gov/wgbc/information/newfrontierstanddown for full notice.

noname

Thanks, this was posted on the Hot List Forum yesterday as well. Text sent in by SPFDBC below. Ab.

7/18 Abs:

This just in from the Western Great Basin GACC:

National Aviation Office
Bureau of Land Management
3833 South Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705

Notice: Temporary Stand Down

Due to the frequency, and number of Aviation Incidents involving aircraft owned and operated by New Frontier Aviation, of Ft. Benton Montana, all the Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) owned and/or operated by New Frontier Aviation, of Ft. Benton, Montana will be temporarily stood down for a period of not less than 48 hours, pending a review by Aviation Management Directorate.

This “Stand Down” is to be effective starting at 1000 MDT, on July 17, 2006.

A Notice will be issued when these aircraft are to be returned to service.

During this time period, no SEAT of New Frontier Aviation will be flown, but will remain on Availability, unless otherwise identified as unavailable.

The following SEATs are those identified by AMD as the aircraft affected.

T-461 M18 N4326M
T-464 M18 N92043
T-466 M18T N466AT
T-475 M18T N4QT
T-463 M18 N9152X
T-470 M18T N13458
T-471 M18T N7813T
T-489 M18T N110AF
T-469 M18T N116BS
T-455 M18T N455TG
T-467 S2r-660-T65 N660TR
T-407 AT802 N48523H
T-472 AT802 C-GLLG

If you have any questions please contact the National SEAT Coordinator ( 208-387-5419)or the National SEAT Program Manager (208-387-5872)
_________________________

SPFDBC

7/17 Ab,

I’ve been spending some time on the Sawtooth complex fire and wrote the piece below summarizing some of my experiences there. I spent several hours up in the Pipes Canyon Reserve near Pioneertown and came back barely able to breathe for all the heat, ash, and smoke. I had been trying to hydrate properly, but with no one watching my back, it was difficult to stay up with it. I returned to the conservancy facility on the Reserve and downed a lot of water. I know this is nothing new to the folks on the line out there, but it just reminds me one more time how much admiration and respect I have for the firefighters doing the work. I think there should be a community firefighter scout program that enrolls certain radio talk show hosts, selected politicians, and a handful of public citizens, placing them on the worst wildfire in California every year, if just for a day. I think we’d get a completely different perspective from those folks afterwards.

If anyone here was on the Sawtooth fireline in the desert region Monday through Thursday (before the fire hit the timbered areas) I’d appreciate any information you would like to offer concerning what the fuels and fire behavior were like. You can respond here or to my own email via naturalist@californiachaparral.com. I’m conducting some research on the homes that burned/didn’t burn as well as the fire’s overall behavior in the desert and would appreciate any insights you may have.

-jimhart

----------

“This isn’t a good time.”

That’s what a Pioneertown resident repeated to me a couple times Saturday afternoon as I was asking him about the behavior of the Sawtooth complex fire that has burned 61,000 acres so far in the desert mountains west of Yucca Valley, destroyed 58 homes, and unknown to me at the time, had taken a life. My collection of information on the types of fuels present, why some houses burned while others did not, and the debate over what kinds of fuel carried the flames suddenly took on a different meaning.

The reason for the resident’s disinterest in talking to me was made clear about 15 minutes later when I noticed several deputies a short distance away from an area I was examining. Little white flags marked important points of evidence, possibly footsteps. Yellow tape cordoned off about a half acre. This was where searchers had just found the bodies of Pioneertown resident Jerry Guthrie, 57, and his dog. He had been told to evacuate, but stayed. There is speculation that he left his home and walked up a small ridge to check on the fire’s progress Tuesday shortly after talking to his son on the phone around 1:30 PM. Maybe he panicked. Whatever happened, Jerry appears to have been overcome by heat and flames. It will be a couple days before an autopsy report will be released.

Jerry’s house survived the fire. It was a well built, domed shaped structure with fire resistant materials covering the surfaces. He had done an excellent job creating a fire safe home. The desert all around his place was charred black. The ashen remains of the sparse vegetation that was present was relatively close to the building. It appears the construction more than anything else saved the place. If he had only stayed inside…

There’s a lot of potential offered by this fire to help shed some light on the whole vegetation clearance/fire safe construction issue. Unlike the Cedar fire, it will be difficult to blame the dense vegetation. Pretty sparse out there. From my preliminary examination, it appears embers and wind were the two most important variables here. Structure survivability seems to have had more to do with fire safe construction than anything related to vegetation. Hopefully I’ll be able to clarify this first impression with a more thorough investigation over the next few months. I’ve already set up some of the ground work. Hopefully, we can honor Jerry with some quality research to help significantly reduce the risk of such a tragic loss from happening again.

I have heard it suggested that native wildflowers carried the flames and that the area probably will not burn for another century. These two perspectives have been really bothering me because I know with the amount of fine fuels contributed by invasive species is pretty significant out there.

The impact of invasive weeds on native plant communities has been really horrible. They are the vanguard of the ongoing onslaught to develop into the backcountry that is consuming so much of our native landscape. If you would like to have a firsthand account of what has happened, take a drive westbound on Highway 60 through the “badlands” area between Beaumont and Moreno Valley. About half way through the badlands there is a single, small turn out. Get ready to slam on the brakes as you approach the area and swiftly turn into it. Get out of your car and take a short stroll down the bulldozed dirt ramp into the waist-high growth of mustard, Bromus, and wild oats. The smell of dumped garbage, flicking grasshoppers hitting your face, and sharp weed stickers penetrating your skin through your clothes will help you get in touch with what “type-conversion” by alien plants is all about. Sure, there were a couple sugarbush shrubs trying to make a comeback from the last fire, and here and there you might find some struggling sagebrush (I also saw a dead dove on the road), but for the most part the place is a 21st century wasteland, eliciting the same kinds of feelings one might have when visiting a hometown that has been turned into a garbage dump or a childhood home that is now the local crack/cocaine house.

A fuels manager with the USFS told me Saturday that a slowly creeping “band of yellow felt” is moving up the front range of the San Bernardino, Santa Ana, and San Gabriel Mountains as native vegetation is being type-converted to weedy grassland. Fire after repeated fire has replaced the native ground cover (sage scrub and chaparral) with flashy, annual fuels. “I don’t know how we are going to stop it,” he told me.

Thank God the USFS and CDF has been there to put out the fires they have. Now there’s a novel concept, thanking the fire service for putting out wildfires instead of blaming them for allowing fuel build-up via fire suppression (a concept that has been misapplied to a large number of ecosystems).

The process of type-conversion is a problem in the desert as well. Repeated fires, aided by historical over-grazing, have infected much of the Mojave desert with alien cheatgrass. On your type-conversion tour, drive to Yucca Valley along Highway 62 outside of Palm Springs. The “band of yellow felt” is not so much a band, but more of a blanket covering much of the landscape. That blanket is a continuous fuel bed. Historically, with sparser vegetation, it appears fires traveled only a few yards. Combine the invasive fuel bed with low humidity and high winds, the factors present when the Sawtooth complex fire was started by lightning, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I mainly investigated the Pipes Canyon area, Pioneertown, and the general site of the Sawtooth fire’s origin. I have never been to this location before and depended upon CDF firefighters, rangers at the Pipes Canyon Reserve, and a few local residents to let me know what the place looked like prior to the fire. There were also numerous areas that did not burn due to fire retardant drops, fire line construction, etc. so I was able to record the general pre-burn vegetation/fuel mix. The fire scar established during the 2005 Pioneertown fire, which burned approximately 2000 acres, was relatively untouched by the Sawtooth complex. Although there was a lot of cheatgrass covering this scar, it was a very low, thin cover without the necessary high fuel concentration provided by native shrubs to allow the fire to carry.

There was a wide range of vegetation communities consumed. Desert scrub dominated by blackbrush, scattered cacti and Joshua trees, intermixed by boulders appeared to be the most common community-type. On mesic, north facing slopes, beautiful, old-growth juniper-pinyon pine communities existed mixed with scrub oak and manzanita. Up Pipes Canyon, some of the pines were in excess of 1,000 years old; most of the ones I saw had lived at least 500 years. They are all gone now. The on-site manager on the Reserve told me about the fine fuels mix before the fire and indicated it was about a 50:50 between cheatgrass/red brome and native bunch grass. This was supported by examining some of the unburned areas within the fire scar. I searched for all the native wildflowers that supposedly carried the fire, and although I found a few clumps, they represented maybe 10-20% of the mix at the most. The predominate fine fuel component was cheatgrass with a few scattered red brome and unidentified non-native grasses that clumped under native shrubs, sometimes forming connections between shrubs and trees. I did see significant stands of Sahara mustard in and around Pioneertown, but not in Pipes Canyon. The Reserve manager indicated the area in and surrounding Pipes Canyon was used historically for cattle grazing, a prime mover of invasive species.

Also according to the Reserve manager, the El Nino years we had prior to our 7-8 year drought created a lot of growth. The drought then produced a lot of stress to the vegetation, allowing many of the pinyon pines to be susceptible to the bark beetle; this lead to the death of many trees and accumulation of dead fuels. The last two years of record rainfall produced a flush of fine fuels, especially cheatgrass. The lightning storm that hit July 9th igniting the Sawtooth complex fire came during a time of near record temperatures. High winds caught the flames and pushed them into the Reserve and nearby Pioneer town on Tuesday (July 11). While the lighting was natural as was the accumulation of dead fuel, the additional growth of fine fuels by invasive species was not. While fire is not uncommon in this desert area, the historical fire regime seems to indicate that the fires were typically very small, not on the massive scale we are seeing today. The fires today appear to be primarily encouraged by the expansion of alien weeds. The prediction that the area will not burn for another century is not supported by these observations.

Any further thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

-jimhart

Thanks for what you do, jimhart, for firefighters and for fire. Ab.

7/17 Abs,

Thanks for the Hot List forum and thanks to the dispatchers and others who let us know about breaking fires. I also use other links on the news page, the gaccs, the wildweb, the maps. Could you please add ESRI to the maps list, at least for this season? (I even had a scanner link running in the background the other day.)

I'm also finding your CA Fires '06 useful as it includes fires from CDF and counties as well as fed. It's nice to have the links all in one place.

Tahoe Terrie

Added ESRI.
We appreciate the thanks. We also appreciate the contributions of the wildlandfire.com community. Ab.

7/17 Why are the Millard, the Sawtooth and the Heart not listed on the Inciweb at the national level?

www.inciweb.org/

Todd

Maybe they're transitioning to including the Heart Incident. For what's going on there check CA Fires '06. Ab.

7/17 From Firescribe:

Weather, for one day a friend, could become firefighters' foe
also: A unique DC-10 helps crews.
www.pe.com

The DC-10, capable of hauling four times as much water or fire retardant as the largest conventional air tankers, made two passes over the Sawtooth Complex Fire. The jet dumped a swath of red retardant that stretched three-quarters of a mile between the fire front and the Big Bear mountain resort, said Rick Hatton.

7/17 Ab,

The DC-10 made 2 drops yesterday and built 3/4 mile of retardant line.
It was very successful for treating a large prominent ridgeline.

Here are the requirements the all current tanker pilots have to meet:

50 drops on active fires
200 hours of low level and mountain
100 hours in the last 12 months
3 letters of recommendation from Lead Plane Pilots
2 letters of recommendation from IA captains

I don't know if the DC-10 pilot has to meet these requirements.

Fly

7/17 Misery Whip.

On 7/12, you said... "Speaking of investigations, I found an interesting article today on Thirtymile and Maria Cantwell’s continuing misguided campaign to punish firefighters who make errors in judgment."

I usually agree with you and applaud your posts, but this time I have to step in and disagree regarding the ultimate goal and the facts. The ultimate goal is that each and every firefighter comes home. You seem to have a bone to pick with Maria Cantwell and it seems to be getting you off focus, while you keep "quoting" things that aren't true.

Any politicians who are out to "punish firefighters" are sure to never serve as an elected official ever again. Maybe, the intent of protecting firefighters and preventing future accidents was circumvented and their intent misunderstood and F-ed up?

The bill that was passed to require an independent investigation of Forest Service fatal fires WAS the DOC. HASTINGS bill introduced and passed in the House, NOT the Maria Cantwell version. Somehow, many people keep saying and pointing attacks at the Cantwell version without knowing the facts. Anyone who keeps saying the "Cantwell Bill" loses all credibility without speaking to JUST the facts and intent of the legislation...

The intent..... every firefighter comes home and never again will a spouse, or brother, or sister have to hear that their loved one has been killed on a wildland fire when it could have been prevented.

The Senate version (Cantwell Version) did not fly ... That version required an independent investigation of ALL (regardless of agency) federal wildland fires that resulted in a fatality. A conference report was held and the bill (with modifications to the House version) passed and was signed into law. That bill only required an OIG investigation of the Forest Service fatality fires.

Misery Whip, do you think that Doc Hastings or Maria Cantwell were actually trying to put field level wildland firefghters in jail or hold them financially accountable for their actions?.. or were they trying to get an out of control bureaucracy under control and listening to the troops in the field and listening to the concerns of the public?

Since the bill passed unanimously in BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE.... and was signed into law... there must have been a problem with the way the bill was interpreted and implemented.

If I was an investigator and investigating wildland firefighter fatalities or near miss incidents, I would start at the top and look at the statement of the folks who really make decisions... Mr. Mark Rey and Chief Dale Bosworth. Recent Congressional Testimony (both House and Senate) can be proven to be factually incorrect and leaning towards contempt of Congress... if not outright perjury.

The OIG process has been bastardized through lack of experience in the investigative process by investigators and by meddling by the folks mentioned above (Rey and Bosworth). If the bill was implemented properly, a highly skilled cadre of wildland fire entrapment investigators would have been hired.... not a rag tag group of "fraud" investigators.

Somehow, the sh*t needs to start rolling uphill to effect change for firefighter safety. The folks who are resistant to change and who are causing the change for safety to fail, and result in increased risks to firefighters that are doing their jobs as they are trained and instructed..... and to be potential targets of civil and criminal prosecution for doing their jobs..... all along while the true problem (culprit) is never addressed or reaches the radar screen... should be the targets of any investigations... not the troops in the field.

JMHO

Lobotomy
7/17 Ab,

Could you link to the ESRI website? They have some great fire maps!

www.esri.com/disaster_response/sbfires071506.html

Also I've attached a map that shows the exact time and location where the fires started on the morning of July 9.

Thanks,

Fire Geek

Nice maps. I added a link to the running CA Fires '06 page. Ab.

7/17 One would have to question the "72 Hour Report" when it says as "factual".... "Fuel Model 2" in the middle of the Sonoran/Mojave conversion zone deserts???????... Doesn't fit any way you try to put the square in a round box and "make bad things look good".

Maybe they are actually talking about a fuel area that more accurately mimics a FM 1 (short grass), 4 (mature chaparral) and 6 (moderate density shrubs) in regards to fire spread and intensity?

Maybe they (the investigators) were just as confused as the firefighters on scene at the rates of spread when they published their 72 hour report one week after the incident?

Fuel Model 2

Characteristics
This type consists of open grown pine stands. Trees are widely
spaced with few understory shrubs or regeneration. Ground
cover consists of mountain grasses/and or needles and small
woody litter. This model occurs in open-grown and mature
Ponderosa pine stands in the foothill to montane zone.

Common Species/Species
The predominate tree species is Ponderosa pine. This type may
include some scattered Douglas fir. Other tree and shrub
species include Common and Rocky Mountain Juniper,
Buckbrush, Bitter brush, and Mountain

Were the investigators who issued the report trained in fire behavior, human factors, and fuels identification? More info is needed... the 72 Hour Report is flawed and should be flushed.... FUBAR.

Gizmo

7/17 I was just reading the stories about early equipment issues with great interest.

I was a member of the EL Cariso Hotshots in 1961 and 1962. In 1962 we were issued orange fire retardant shirts. We had metal hardhats, bought our own boots and clothing. Most of us had our own survival kit made up of war surplus canteen covers and metal cup. We carried fish hooks, bullion cubes salt and a few other small items.

This web site is a great site! I enjoy reading any information on old crews and I try to keep up with the fires and crews of today. My days as a Hot Shot are treasured. I have a few pictures and film of fires back then from Southern California to Idaho and Montana. I worked for Doug Campbell, Gordon King and Marvin Stout in 1961 and 1962.

Thanks for your website.

Richard A. “Buddy” Vandiver

Welcome Buddy. One of the old guys, eh. I'd be happy to send your message on to Doug and Gordon. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Marvin. Ab.

7/17 Am I missing something?

The 24 hour report for the Big Draw fire came out after the incident had already been published in the press as a human interest story about survival. There hasn't been a 72 hour report with any additional updates.

The 72 Hour Report for the Scorpio Fire came out around a week after the incident occurred. There was never a 24 hour report.

The Sawtooth Fire 72 Hour Report / CDF Green Sheet has the title "A joint investigation by" ..... It came out a week after the incidents occurred. There wasn't a 24 hour report done on this one either.

.... Then there are the rumors of shelter deployments on a fire near CCD and another near LVD....

I thought that the 24 hour and 72 hour reports were supposed to be heads up tool for the troops in the field to receive accurate and rapid information on incidents and implement changes if needed, and to quell rumors from happening..... not be an investigative tool, or a tool to be delayed for whatever reason.

This same scenario happened last year when some folks tried to hijack AARs make them an investigative tool.

sign me.... KEEP SAFE... A tool is a tool when it is used properly
7/16

GREEN SHEET/72 HOUR REPORT

A Joint Investigation By:
Bureau of Land Management
San Bernardino County Fire Department and
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Wildland Fire Entrapment
Minor Burn Injuries and Smoke Inhalation

Fire Engine Damage

Command Vehicle Damage


July 11, 2006

Sawtooth Complex

Incident Number 06-CA-BDU-007229
Accident Investigation Incident Number CA-CSR-059

SUMMARY

The following information is a preliminary summary of an incident with entrapments that occurred on a vegetation fire in which fire engines and a command vehicle received minor fire damage. Four firefighters suffered minor injuries.

CONDITIONS

Location:
Incident 1 - involving BLM Captain 3636 occurred approximately two miles southwest of the intersection of Keys Ranch Road and Pioneertown Road, which is located approximately 1 and 1/2 miles northwest of Pioneertown.

Incident 2 - involving San Bernardino County Fire Department (BDC) Engine 122 occurred at Paloma Avenue and Lariat Trails, in Pioneertown.

Incident 3 - involving BDC Engine 122B occurred on Lariat Trails near Paloma Avenue, in Pioneertown.

[LOCATION  MAP]

Fuel:
Type: Fuels in the Pioneertown area are a mix of (Fuel Model 2) Pinyon Pine, California Juniper with scattered Joshua Trees, and a heavy grass component.

Loading: The fuel bed ranged from 2-3ft. in height. Fuel loadings varied 2-5 tons per acre.

Continuity: Fuel was very continuous with no significant break in the continuity.

Live Fuel Moisture: Evaluations indicated live fuel moisture of 58%. The fuel loading was higher than that of the normal limits due to the above normal rainfall in 2004 and 2005.

Dead Fuel Moisture: Fine dead fuel moisture indicated 1 hour time-lag fuel moisture of 3-4%. The ignition probability of a firebrand landing in receptive fuels was 100%

Weather:
Temperature: High 90s
Relative Humidity: 5-8%
Winds: Southwest 11-20 mph G 37

Fire Behavior:
The burning conditions were caused by an upper-level trough which passed over Southern California, resulting in strong gusty winds over the fire area. The weather combined with heavy fuels created extreme burning conditions. These weather conditions were not forecasted in the morning fire weather. On scene fire personnel reported very extreme wind gusts, plume dominated fire behavior, and area ignition.

SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

Incident 1 - BLM Captain 3636

On July 11, 2006, at approximately 1332 hours, BLM E3636, E3632, and BLM DIV 3604 were dispatched for structure protection in the Pioneertown area. Captain 3636 responded separately in his utility vehicle.

Arriving at the scene ahead of the engine crews, Captain 3636 met with CDF Prevention 3522 and received the instructions to drive to Keys Ranch Road then head west to evaluate structures for protection. Captain 3636 met CDF E3586 along Keys Ranch Road and instructed them to follow him further up an unnamed road to assist in fire protection.

Approximately one mile up the road in a northwest direction they arrived at a large residential structure with approximately a three-quarter acre clearing adjacent to it. A civilian at the scene told Captain 3636 there were two more residential structures toward the mouth of the canyon where the fire was approaching. Captain 3636 then radioed DIV 3604 instructing him to hold all incoming resources at the large three-quarter acre clearing (safety zone) while he scouted further.

The road narrowed and had thick vegetation on both sides but Captain 3636 could still observe the fire’s progress and felt he could proceed safely based on the fire behavior. He continued until he reached a large two-story residential structure at the end of the road.

Before he had time to get out of his vehicle to assess the structure, the fire front hit with black out conditions including high velocity winds and extreme heat. Realizing that he had no escape options, he remained in his vehicle while the fire front passed by him.

Captain 3636 radioed DIV 3604 to let him know of his situation. He then radioed P3522 on RED net to ask for air support. Given the extreme conditions of wind and smoke, air support was not feasible.

While taking refuge in his vehicle Captain 3636 crawled into the back seat of his vehicle and pulled his fire shelter out of his web gear for easier access if needed. He returned to the driver seat to back up his vehicle due to fire impingement to the front of the vehicle.

Captain 3636 maintained his refuge in the vehicle until the smoke and flames had visibly cleared and he knew the fire front had passed. He radioed DIV 3604 and P3522 to let them know he was safe.

Incident 2 - San Bernardino County E122

On July 11, 2006 at approximately 1300 hours, San Bernardino County E122 was assigned to provide structure protection for homes in the Pioneertown area, as part of a structure protection group on the Sawtooth Complex Fire.

The task force group leader BDC BC 137 was in charge of BDC E121, E122, E36, E451 and E122B. E122B was operated by the City of 29 Palms Fire Department Station 421 personnel.

After the task force began clearing vegetation from around structures, they were called to provide support for strike teams in the Keys Ranch Road area. The groups fought fire using bump and run tactics and then returned to the Paloma Avenue and Lariat Trails to continue providing structure protection. The crew returned to the residential structure clearing brush, then noticed the changing fire behavior. High velocity winds blew into their assigned area causing the fire to rapidly spread towards their location. The engine crew took refuge in E122 to escape the extreme fire activity. While taking shelter in the rear of the engine cab, the crew heard escaping refrigerate gas from the roof-mounted air conditioning unit.

The fire blew over E122; the captain evaluated crew conditions and returned to the pre-established safety zone of San Bernardino County Fire Station 38. BC137 performed group safety checks and medical treatment was provided to crew members by a county medic ambulance. Three firefighters were treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation and were transported to a local area hospital.

Incident 3 – 29 Palms E122B

BDC E122B, operated by City of 29 Palms personnel, positioned at two residential structures on Lariat Trails. The crew prepared for structure protection and observed the fire at a distance, estimating a half mile from their location moving towards them at a moderate rate of spread. The crew continued to protect the structures when the fire spread increased significantly. The crew sought refuge in the garage of the residence.

The smoke level in the garage began to drop and the heat increased as the roof of the garage ignited and the house burned. Due to the Fire Captain’s command presence, the crew remained calm and escaped through a garage window and observed their engine still intact. They entered the engine and drove back to the strike team pre-established safety zone at San Bernardino County Station 38.

During the drive to the fire station the crew experienced zero visibility. At one point they slowed down to make a turn near a burning Joshua tree where the engine received minor damage. A firefighter sitting in the back of the open rear cab fire engine sustained minor burns to her back when turning away from the radiant heat. She wore all her wildland PPE.

The fire engine and crew arrived safely at the pre-established safety zone and the injured firefighter was treated for the burn injury and transported by ambulance to the hospital. There she was treated and released returning back to her crew.

INJURIES/DAMAGES

Incident 1 - BLM Captain 3636
Injuries

• No injuries.

Damage

• The damage of the BLM command vehicle consisted of: melted front vehicle lenses; melted the driver-side mirror; and minor scorching to the paint at the front and rear of the vehicle.

Incident 2 - San Bernardino County E122
Injuries

• 1 firefighter received minor burns, and was transported to a local area hospital treated and released. The firefighter was released from duty for one day due to the injury.
• 2 firefighters were observed for smoke inhalation, treated and released.

Damage

• Damage to BDC E122 consisted of: moderate blistering of paint on left side of the engine; melting of the rubber seal around the driver’s side rear cab window which cracked the windshield; melting of the plastic gauge covers and plastic name plates on the pump panel; melting of the light bar on top of the cab; damage to the air conditioning system on the roof of the cab; and melting of the rear hose bed covers.

Incident 3 - Palms E122B
Injuries

• 1 firefighter from the City of 29 Palms Fire Department from Station 421 suffered minor first degree burns on the right shoulder and neck, and smoke inhalation. The firefighter was treated at the hospital and was released.

Damage
• The damage to BDC 122B operated by 29 Palms Station 421 personnel consisted of: cracked windshield and side window; melted pump panel gauges; and minor scorching of the body paint on the front of the cab.

SAFETY ISSUES FOR REVIEW

• Continue to re-evaluate fire weather and current burning conditions.
• Line supervisors need to continually weigh risk versus benefit in their strategy and tactics.
• Review the practice of taking refuge inside fire engines and vehicles as a last resort while in light flashy fuels during fire suppression activities.
• Review the practice of taking refuge in structures as a last resort.

You can download the report in doc form here: Sawtooth Entrapment 72 Hr Report

7/16 Re the DC-10

For those interested in what larger aircraft and those flying in their vicinity have to
contend with, here's a good discussion of wake turbulence.

Wake Turbulence Review

Bob

Anyone know what the fire training requirements are for the pilot? Is it the same as for current AT pilots?

Prop-wash can affect fire on the ground. Anyone know what wake turbulence does to fire on the ground or to the "fire environment" above the fire? Ab.

7/16 Bird Hunter

My district has had two engines and a dozer available for over two weeks and
nothing has come-up yet. My crew has yet to make it to a fire this year, not even
a campfire. It's mid july and we haven't even had an IA.

DS

7/16 The first drop from a DC-10 onto a fire was on the Sawtooth Complex about noon today.
I think it was the big airplane's first drop on a wildfire.

On the Big Bear scanner they were warning ground crews there was a big drop coming.

Here's the story and some info on the DC-10:
www.pe.com/digitalextra/metro/wildfires/stories/PE_News_Local_D_tanker15.2

JC

7/16 Aberdeen, In answer to your questions:

Question: I see on the National Sit report where the Feds assign Type 1 and Type 2 IMTs to fires, but all the CDF IMTs are always called Type 1. Does the CDF have Type 2 IMTs also?

To my knowledge CDF only has Type 1 Incident Management Teams, and I believe there are 10 in the state. They never had type 2 IMTs, because local resources command all incidents until a Type 1 Team is requested.

Question: Do their Type1 IMTs train to the NWCG levels for Type 1, like attendance at 520?

From my past experience in CDF they are trained at the same levels as National IMTs. When I worked CDF before my retirement the end of 2003, they annually required all IMT members to attend refresher courses as set by the national level.

Captain Ron S (ret)

7/16 I was wondering if R-5 has reached draw down levels or are their just not many fire orders for resources coming in wright now? It seems as though North Ops is sitting around waiting for the big one. It seems as though their is a lot of type one crews still sitting on base.

Bird hunter
7/15 Re:  CDF Team Typing

Goes back to the beginning days of NWCG 310-1. ICS is/was supposed to max at the 400 level of training. Remember it is supposed to all inclusive of any/all wildland agencies nationally.

The Feds wanted to continue to do something more so they did the 520/620 thing, used to be known as Fire Generalship during the LFO period. Those classes were the after-actions related to fatality fires in the mid/late 50's. Feds, mostly USFS, did things like used internal direction dictating what they considered Type 1 Teams. The other fed agencies went along so they could play at that level. No other levels of govt. needed higher training to be NIIMS compliant. So, when CDF started going to preset teams is the late eighties, they fit the 310-1 requirements for a Type 1 TM. During the same period it could have been said that the Fed "T2 " teams were actually, in many cases, performing as T1 teams; as long as you went with the NWCG 310-1. And, that document has/had its roots in FIRESCOPE.

The States (not just CDF & FP) have now developed an equivalent program to the Fed 520 class (not sure about 620 level). And I believe that it was been put on at least once, if not more times.

The stated reason for not using CDF teams on R5 FS fires had to do with reciprocity issues. CDF said that Fed T1 teams would not be used on state incidents but they were okay with working fed incidents. The consequences was the almost total exclusion on CDF participation in the Fed 520 Advanced Incident Class in the recent past.

Not sure how the CDF teams would fit into the single "I" NIMS definitions of incident complexity and typing that's out there now.

Still a duffer.

7/15 A Question: I see on the National Sit report where the Feds assign Type 1
and Type 2 IMTs to fires, but all the CDF IMTs are always called Type 1.
Does the CDF have Type 2 IMTs also? Do their T-1 IMTs train to the
NWCG levels for T-1, like attendance at 520?

Aberdeen
7/15 Updated Sawtooth-Millard Fire maps: www.wildlandfire.com/pics/millard-sawtooth/millard.htm

The Fire Planning and Mapping Tools runs a day or more behind in posting updates.

Ab.

7/15 From North Ops

Update, National Type I Team status: Team 2 (Molumby) has been ordered for the Millard Complex. Team 5 (Dietrich) will stand down due to fire activity on the IC's home forest. Team 1 (Feser) will be on 2 hr call in California and Team 3 will be on 2 hr call National. Team 4 (Opliger) is on assignment in Quesnel British Columbia. MWS

Todd

7/15 Quite a few near misses on the Sawtooth-Millard.

Be Safe everyone.

NorCal Tom

7/15 Seen a "near miss" or potential accident lately? Been involved?.. or commented on one....
Have opinions on how to make things safer?

Join the 52 Club...

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation helps to protect our families and friends... join today.

Be a part of the "Compassion that spreads like wildfire. A buck a week to help a buddy.
It's that easy.
"

Your contributions help makes things safer for all of us firefighters... our families, our friends,
and our co-workers.

Lobotomy

52 Club sign-up

7/15 Ab

HWREN cameras are dynamic. If someone sees something worth sharing they should save and send the picture.
Just sending the link from the IP Address box gets the viewer the latest picture.

Noticed this on the Hot List forum today "CA-CNF-Pine Fire" first post. May want to put a note like that in the instructions. This applies to most WEB CAMS I have seen. Using IE right click and select copy, paste it into message you are sending or save it someplace to paste later.

Also the latest versions allow you to "hover" over the picture and a box pops up in the upper left corner allowing SAVE, PRINT, EMAIL or OPEN My PICTURES. Lose the box, just move the pointer off the picture then back on it.

Trying to be helpful.

RJM

7/14 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
7/13 At last, The results of the Engine Captain classification review -MJ

Date: May 30, 2006
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 APF’s.

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.

/s/ Dale N. Bosworth
DALE N. BOSWORTH
Chief

Enclosure

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

7/13 Hey Ab,

Attached is a video clip of the Cobra in action. It depicts the this morning's recon.
The live video feed received in the ICP is being used by fire officials to make
tactical decisions.

Video clip (large 4730K wmv file)

Fire Geek

Here's a Desert Sun news article to accompany the video clip; about halfway down.
http://cgi.desert-sun.com/firelive.shtml

very kewl.

7/13 For those of you who haven't had a chance to see what the Fire Planning and Mapping Tools can do, I have captured some map images of the Millard and Sawtooth Complexes and their surrounding communities.

Millard and Sawtooth Complex Maps, captured from a real-time fire and mapping tool

You can add or subtract features like cities and communities, SRA of CDF, BLM, FS, wilderness, etc. In several maps I had the locator on and there's a little box in the upper lefthand corner that shows where in California the fires are burning. In one I highlighted the wilderness option. You can zoom in to see street names.

Again, thanks to GIS Girl for her big part this project. I'm sorry she's left BLM, but know her KSAs will continue to benefit fire.

Ab.

7/13 Re Sawtooth Complex:

Ab,

I've been in direct contact with immediate family of one of the 4-man crew injured Tuesday 7/11/06; Sawtooth Complex. He was back to work next day. Only a guess; based on my understanding of the incident; the 3 others are probably in the same condition.

This is really kicking. Tuesday PM had aerial attack directly over my house; too many passes to count. Watched successful burn-out terminate 1/4 mile from my home. It's all they report: hi temps, winds, etc.
Many thanks to all firefighters doing the jobs they do - be safe.

MP

7/13 Re: Scorpio 72-hour report

I believe the findings of the preliminary investigation are supported by the
narrative. Any attempt to answer the question of why something happened
will be somewhat subjective. Other details may emerge as the investigation
continues, and the final report may have different findings.

The Scorpio report makes for a good training tool, that could be easily
adapted to a sand table exercise. How many ways should a leader split up a
4-person crew (helitack, engine or IA-squad) on a 1,000-acre initial attack
fire to make effective use of resources? Does that change when the strategy
is indirect attack with a backfiring tactic? What is required for a
complete briefing in this scenario? What is adequate weather information
and how should it be communicated?

The purpose of a 72-hour report is not to blame the investigators but to
learn from this near-miss incident. Does anybody have this report as a pdf
file and is there a map accompanying it?

vfd cap'n
7/13 from the scorpio 72 hr:

The following findings were noted as contributing factors leading up to
and determining the outcome of the entrapment on the Scorpio Fire. These
findings will be discussed in detail within the Final Report.

• Inadequate weather information obtained and distributed during
suppression activities

Highly misleading! Weather distributed that day called for widely
scattered thunderstorms and variable winds. The personnel involved flew to
the fire in a helicopter, giving an ample opportunity to observe buildup.
This site is adjacent to the Great Salt Flats...it's not hard to see
thunderstorms coming from the west over the salt flats from the hogup mtns.

I don't really understand what specifically the investigation team would like
to have changed...or on whom the onus rests. I don't like the connotation
that information about what's happening in the sky above you needs to be
"obtained and distributed". In the desert, with expansive views,
thunderstorms should not be sneaking up on anyone, let alone anyone with a
helicopter. I'm afraid somebody in a weather center or dispatch is going to
get burned by this, when they're in an office looking at drywall and
computers, the person standing in the desert looking at black thunderheads
is the one responsible for understanding what's about to happen to their
fire. This "obtain and distribute" stuff is the worst kind of
administrative BS, in my opinion.

no name on this please. Thx.
7/12 To all those involved in the planning units of the IMTs-

Please note that the NWCG has officially published the GIS Standard
Operating Procedures on Incidents (June 2006) (2.7 Mbytes; PDF
format) PMS 936 or NFES 2809. It is over 90 pages full color so you
may want to wait till the caches get them (yes, there actually is a
publishing run happening).

But the standards exist and are now online at the large files library:
www.nwcg.gov/pms/pubs/large.html

Dreams do come true,
GISgirl

Good enough. By the way, I was looking at all the mapping options available on the wlf.com News page Fire Maps links and was really appreciating your contributions: Fire Planning & Mapping Tools from the California Fire Alliance & USGS. You did some very fine work on that. Who would think that firefighters could GPS the fire boundaries upload it and we have instant info on the web... and the Public can go get it, you don't have to send it to them and it can help them make choices about when and where to evacuate. Remarkable.
Best of everything in your new job. (Glad to see you're still posting.) Ab.

7/12 Ab,

I’m with Mollysboy and Tahoe Terrie, I have to question the wisdom of the Scorpio investigators calling very subjective statements facts in a preliminary report. This one is already starting to smell like just another after action flogging for the folks at the tip of the spear. Until we can develop a cadre of trained investigators who understand human factors and modern accident theory, and are allowed to also identify organizational and management failures, our investigations will continue to blame the people who take the risks and do the dirty work. And the dead.

Speaking of investigations, I found an interesting article today on Thirtymile and Maria Cantwell’s continuing misguided campaign to punish firefighters who make errors in judgment. If her proposed OSHA bill passes, we might as well kiss Doctrine goodbye. Come to think of it, we won’t need Doctrine anymore because we won’t be able to engage fires if our work environment has to meet OSHA standards. Here’s the link:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/277018_thirty10.html

And this one about post-Cramer liability for wildland firefighters:

www.yakima-herald.com/page/dis/302800145477973
And so it goes.

Misery Whip
7/12 CDF South Ops just put out the same orders as North Ops: All Sch. B to remain
on duty, all Sch A to remain on duty until noon on their relief day awaiting orders...

Here we go! Everybody comes home...

SoCal CDF

7/12 KRS:

You are correct, FS uses NS threads on inch and a half, and NPSH Tapered
on one inch. I keep this note in my wallet so I don't have to remember when
purchasing fittings.

Old Sawyer.

7/12 Anyone know more about the 2 (5?) firefighters that received (minor?) burns
on the Sawtooth Complex? Will we see a 24hr report?

AL

I heard the accident investigation team was supposed to be there today. Be safe all. Ab.

7/12 On July 22, at 9:30 a.m., a memorial statue will be dedicated at Indianola
Helitack, 11 miles West of North Fork, Idaho off of Highway 93.
The base is set along the main fork of the Salmon River. The monument is in
memory of Jeff Allen and Shane Heath who were killed
on July 22, 2003 on the Cramer Fire. Senator Larry Craig will be in
attendance to help dedicate the statue, along with the Heath and Allen
families and numerous US Forest Service personnel and community members.

Please keep these families in your thoughts as they participate in this
special recognition of their sons.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
www.wffoundation.org

Ab hopes everyone who can attend will do so.

7/12 Hello All-

I'm in the process of designing foam nozzles for all common sizes of
wildland hose- 3/4" is easy, but I'm having trouble finding the
appropriate fitting(s) for 1" & 1.5" hose. If I remember correctly
1.5" has NST threads while 1" has NPSH. (Please correct me if I'm
wrong..)

So my dilemma is this: I can make the nozzle but without the proper
threads it's useless to everyone. The potential fix? Next time someone
busts a hose, could you chop the ends off & send 'em to me? Then I can
be certain while wandering around the plumbing shop that I'm getting
the right thing. (That act of kindness will place you ontop of the
"test this please" list..)

If I had a wildland type station nearby I'd just go ask, but...

Thanks Much-
KRS

Readers, for those who don't know KRS, he's a creative ex-hotshot. Take a look at one of his useful creations, for sale on wildlandfire.com: King Radio - Cell Phone Adapter. Ab.

7/12 Ab,

Crew bilingual requirements reference: National Mob Guide, Chapter 60, Section 62.2
Minimum Crew Standards for National Mobilization - Bilingual Requirement: CRWB
and FFT1's must be bilingual (able to read and interpret) in language of crew
.

www.nifc.gov/nicc/mobguide/Chapter_60.pdf

This Space Available

Many thanks. Ab.

7/12 CDF northern region has canceled days off for all personnel (including personnel
in Schedule A local government contracts). Expect big orders for resources.

Noname

If you're interested in following breaking fires and not registered for the Hot List Forum, you're missing out. It's easy. Click the News button in the header. Ab.

7/12 New start in Montana near Columbus called the Saunders Fire:

www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2006/07/11/news/state/20-columbusfire_g.txt

MT FF

7/12 Ab,

I know you have some of these on your links, but the following have video of the Sawtooth Fire in So Cal:

www.kesq.com
http://nbc4.tv
http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/
http://cbs2.com

Fyr etr

I checked and added the new one to the Current California Fires '06 page. Ab.

7/12 Ab

Looks like the Sawtooth might now be considered "RIPSAW", can't believe how it went so wild.
The air forces tried yesterday, just not enough aircraft.

Someone posted the VISALIA lightning site (usually 2 hours behind) the other day, here is an even better one for SO Nevada and parts of SE CA, this one is real time. Courtesy of DOE.
www.sord.nv.doe.gov/Lightning/Lightning-sord.htm

Hope is not a prelude to another fall of 2003 down here. No TS and dry lightening that I could find today.
Best wishes and God bless those on the lines.
(I can say that can't I?)

RJM
7/12 I was on the San Bernardino strike team at the Boulder Complex. We were the first strike team on the complex and were broken up the first couple of days to get a handle on the fires. We regrouped a few days later along with some single resource Fed engines and contract engines/crews and worked the largest fire. We were stretched pretty thin the first few shifts but as the orders were filled things worked out a lot better.

As a Resource Unit Leader, understanding the GACC and how orders are filled help me understand how things operate and why we sometimes do not have the resources available when needed.

The easiest way to see how many resources are committed to a geographical area is to view the Situation Report. Look at the Preparedness Level, 1-5 and see how many resources are committed to each incident.

Lets not forget the new staffing levels for each module (ENGB, ENOP + 3), draw down, 5 or 7 day staffing and what goes on in Fire Management on local Forest.

Believe me after 30+ years you won’t make em all but you will get your fair share.

STILL LEARNING
7/11 Yet another R - 5er

You need to check with your local forest for your availability. The Plumas
requested multiple times agency or local government engines but none were
available. We did manage to get on a few local government engines but the
only thing available were contractors. SO check with your boss to find out
were the problem really lies.

JE

7/11 I'm glad to see that the 72 Hour Report for the Scorpio Entrapment has been sent out to the field in a fairly timely manner: better to get the info out quickly than have rumors become the "de facto" true story about what happened.
My only concern is with the section labeled Preliminary factual findings ": I believe that facts are those statements that are true beyond question, such as the date, location, time, agency, etc.

Terms such as "inadequate", "incomplete", "ineffective" and "neglected" seem to me to be the subjective views of those conducting the investigation. They are an important component of the investigative process, but should not be labeled as "Facts ", but rather "causal factors" that led to the event, and areas where opportunities exist to improve future training for all firefighters.

In light of the liability issues that have evolved from Thirtymile and Cramer, it is critical that the investigators carefully chose their words and the connotation that they are used in, lest we see more firefighters before the Federal Bench under the threat of criminal prosecution.

Mollysboy
7/11 To all Federal Wildland Firefighters:

Recently I posted commentary on the recent re-issuance of an "ethics memo" regarding employees holding fiduciary positions on non-federal organizations. According to a more recent post citing Ethics Advisor Lori Delgado stating that these changes are new, I want to make it crystal clear to every federal wildland firefighter who reads this Board:

The timing of the ethics memo could either be because 1) The FS is taking a lot of hits in the press and want to invoke some type of "gag order" on its employees or 2) it is in response to a recent Supreme Court decision on the subject.

The most recent post references positions in the FWFSA as potential targets of the "new" requirements.

First & foremost, the FWFSA has discussed this matter with no less than a half dozen lawyers... half of which are members of Congress!!

This has more to do with a Forest Service Battalion Chief sitting on a Fire Board for say for Sacramento Fire as a Forest Service B/C. It does not have anything to do with how a FS employee spends his/her own non-duty time participating in a non-federal organization.

Perhaps it stems from too much Official Time being requested (at a cost to the Agency) for these employees in such fiduciary positions to attend non-federal functions i.e. a FS B/C taking Official Time to conduct business as a Board member of a municipal fire board.

The FWFSA is a non-profit employee organization. It does not require or request its Board Members to utilize Official Time to attend FWFSA functions. Therefore to any FWFSA Member, Board Member or potential member, the "Ethics Memo" language has absolutely no bearing on your affiliation/membership with the FWFSA.

If anyone has any questions, concerns or doubts, please don't hesitate to contact me directly at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
7/11 On the 72 Hour Report there must be a typo.

I think it should say Preliminary Findings or Preliminary Subjective Findings,
not Preliminary Factual Findings. Lets not bias things here before we really
have some detailed facts.

I'm glad they got the report out. I'm glad both firefighters are OK.

Tahoe Terrie

7/11 Re: Boulder Complex Resources.

Lets back up a day or so: in the NOPS area within a 36 hour period, NOPS
mobilized three Type 2 teams, a FUMT team, and then in the next 12 hours, another
Type 2 team was deployed. Making a total of 4 Type 2 incidents in the NOPS
area. With that many major incidents starting so close together, resources
were used up very quickly. Also lighting fires were numerous throughout the
northern forests. One day alone PNF picked up over 300 new starts; luckily
Mother Nature put out some of them for us. Also NOPS had been very
generous to other GACCs and was down to about 47% of its own resources
avail. (Below "ready reserve", so to speak.)

The GACC was unable to fill any engine or crew request that any of the forests
were requesting. (Let alone the Strike Teams of stuff they were asking for). An
example - Boulder asked one day for 4 S/T of T3 engines, we (the GACC) were
able to fill one S/T and 4 engines.

After the first day of the Boulder fire, the GACC requested 15 engines, (Type
Any) and 10 crews T2, (no other types were avail) from NICC. Then after
they passed inspection, and were all committed, the GACC requested 10
crews and 15 more engines. After they passed, all but about 5 were committed
to fires, the others were hosted by local forests.

When the fires started releasing resources, the contract resources were the
first resources to be released, we kept them available locally until resource
that had been out of GACC were rested up and had returned to duty.

Sure WildCAD might have "said" resources were sitting. Think that through.
Some were o/s, some not staffed, some on mandatory R/R or the forest was on
drawdown and no more could be sent.

If you didn't think much was going on in the Pacific Southwest Region the
last two weeks or so, you haven't been at NOPS or SOPS these last few
weeks.

NOPS

Appreciate the insights. Ab.

7/11 FYI,

HR 5697 Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act has Passed in the House Committee on Government Reform. It is now in the House. The Bill is attached below.

Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act (Introduced in House) HR 5697 IH

                               109th CONGRESS
                                 2d Session
                                 H. R. 5697

 To provide for the appropriate designation of certain Federal positions
 involved in wildland fire suppression activities.

                      IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                               June 28, 2006

 Mr. POMBO (for himself and Mr. PORTER) introduced the following bill;
 which was referred to the Committee on Government Reform.

                                   A BILL

 To provide for the appropriate designation of certain Federal positions
 involved in wildland fire suppression activities.

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

 SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the `Federal Wildland Firefighter
       Classification Act'.

 SEC. 2. REQUIREMENT.

       (a) In General- In the administration of chapter 51 of title 5,
       United States Code, the Office of Personnel Management shall ensure
       that the official title assigned under such chapter to any class or
       other category of positions described in subsection (b) shall
       include the designation of `Wildland Firefighter' or words to that
       effect.

       (b) Applicability- This section shall apply in the case of any class
       or other category of positions that consists primarily or
       exclusively of forest technician positions, range technician
       positions, or any other category of positions the duties and
       responsibilities of which may include significant wildland fire
       suppression activities (as determined by the Office).

 SEC. 3. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

       Nothing in this Act shall be considered to require any change in the
       pay, benefits, or other terms or conditions of employment that apply
       with respect to any category of employees or positions.

 SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.

       For purposes of this Act--

             (1) the terms `class', `employee', and `position' shall have
             the meanings set forth in section 5102 of title 5, United
             States Code; and

             (2) the terms `forest technician position' and `range
             technician position' shall have the meanings specified by the
             Office of Personnel Management.

 

7/11 Ab, this is a letter that has been circulating in R5. I have gotten some questions from a couple of fire friends about what it means and if it refers to people in the FWFSA or those sitting on the FWFSA board. I highlighted what I think are the pertinent parts. As best I understand, the letter refers to someone who is sitting on a non-federal board as the Forest Service representative. Forest Service employees can sit on any board they like as Private Citizens who happen to be employed by the Forest Service. Just don't wear your uniform or introduce yourself as a rep of the government. It's like not using FS letterhead to write personal letters. I don't know what this means for Firesafe Councils, etc, if any are FS reps to any of those organizations.... Anyone know?

Mellie (ps, I miss John Wendt at times like this. He had lots of savvy answers.)

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

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen: Please see the text immediately below, from
Ethics Advisor Lori Delgado in the Washington Office. As the attachments
state, Forest Service personnel are no longer allowed to sit, in their
official capacities, as fiduciary members of non-Federal organizations.

The message requires me to send the W.O. a written report next month. To
make it possible for me to send the folks in Washington a valid report, I
ask that each forest supervisor and each staff director send me either (a)
the name of any person within that supervisor's or director's organization
who is sitting in his or her official capacity as a fiduciary -- i.e. a board
member, executive committee member, or the like -- of any non-Federal
organization
, or (b) send me a negative report saying that no employees
within that supervisor's or director's organization are so involved.

Please understand that this is not a matter of misconduct. The strict
prohibition against participation in a fiduciary role is new. Employees
may have been quite properly participating as fiduciaries in non-Federal
entities in the past. But according to new national guidelines, I must
verify that any persons in any such roles are notified to resign from such
positions. So no corrective or punitive action will be contemplated
(unless someone refuses to resign his or her fiduciary position in a
non-Federal organization), although some employees may have to modify the
roles they have in those other organizations.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from each of you. Please respond to
me, with either a list of names or a negative report, no later than August 1. <snip>

7/11 Region 5 Type II Fire Crews Page 76 of 108

F. Fireline Leadership Communications Skills. All personnel in leadership
positions such as Crew, and/or Engine Bosses, Squad Bosses, and radio
operators, shall be able to communicate fluently at a conversational level
in English. Specifically:
  • All radio communication on tactical, command and air-to-ground
    frequencies will be in the English language.
  • All supervisors of personnel engaged in fire suppression and prescribed
    fire operations will be able to read write and speak English sufficient to
    understand and communicate in English. All supervisors must also be able to
    communicate in the language of the individuals they directly supervise.
  • These standards will be applied to agency and contracted personnel.

Also found in the Red-Book in Appendix Z. Crew bosses and FFT1s.

Anyone have the documentation reference of requirements for overhead of Spanish-speaking only crews? As I recall, last year there was a regulation that the overhead of a Spanish-speaking crew needed to speak Spanish to be able to direct their crew. At some point it was discovered that one crew's overhead could not speak English... It only makes sense that they should be able to communicate both up- and down-stream --> bilingual. Ab.

7/11 United States Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management

In Reply
Refer To: 9210 (UT-020)

July 11, 2006

To: Glenn Carpenter Salt Lake Field Office Manager and Acting Associate State Director

Subject: Expanded (72 hour) Report for Scorpio Fire Entrapment

The following report is the Expanded 72 Hour Report for the incident involving two fire fighters entrapped during burnout operations on the Scorpio Fire. This report contains information from the preliminary report previously given on the NFES 0869 as well as additional details regarding the incident. This report is a preliminary report and is subject to change. The final report will follow within 45 days.

Personnel entrapped on the Scorpio Fire

Greg Vander Werff – Shelter was deployed, injury was a second degree burn to left arm/elbow
Fred Alldredge – Entrapped on fire, no shelter deployment, no injuries

Introduction

On June 30, 2006 two firefighters from the BLM Salt Lake Helitack Crew were entrapped while conducting a backfire operation on the Scorpio Fire in the Hog Up Mountains, Box Elder County, Utah. One member of the crew felt it necessary to deploy his shelter for protection and the other sought refuge in a wash from the smoke and embers. The crewmember that deployed his shelter was treated for a second degree burn on his left elbow.

The Scorpio Fire was under the jurisdiction of the Salt Lake Field Office, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Salt Lake Field Office in conjunction with the Utah State Office initiated the investigation regarding the entrapment. The investigation team collected information from a site visit, data collected, and individual interviews with personnel involved with the incident.

Narrative

Salt Lake Helitack was dispatched to the Scorpio fire on the afternoon of June 30th with 4 crew members and pilot on board helicopter 1BH. The crew arrived at the advancing fire front, flying from a southern direction and continued north over the fire to the heel. The Crew estimated the fire to be over 1,000 acres at that time. Upon arrival, the fire was noted to be making a good run from the northeast to the southwest. 1BH sat down on the northeast end of the fire, dropping off two crewmembers which initiated a backfire from the road. Helicopter 1BH then proceeded with the remaining crewmembers to the heel of the fire where they tied in with engines from the Volunteer Fire Department. One crewmember, an ICT4 trainee stayed with the volunteer engines to direct and assist the activities at the heel and west flank of the fire while the ICT4 on the fire stayed with helicopter 1BH to continue the recon.

At approximately 18:00 hours additional resources from the BLM Salt Lake Field Office arrived on scene at the north end of the fire to aid in suppression activities. At this time the fire began to exhibit extreme fire behavior as a result of strong downdraft winds associated with a thunder cell tracking over the fire. Firing operations were compromised due to the changing weather conditions. Upon arrival, Engine 438 was sent along the east flank in order to aid with the backfire, but was unable to reach the two helitack crewmembers because of the extreme fire behavior and lack of visibility. The crewmembers conducting backfire operations on the east flank experienced a strong wind shift that carried the fire across the road. Firing operations were suspended and the two crewmembers tried to rendezvous in the black. Due to high wind conditions and reduced visibility, they were unable to meet. Because of the extreme fire behavior, one crewmember took shelter in a small wash within the black and endured the event with his pack turned into the wind and shroud in place. The other crewmember deployed his shelter beside the road in a narrow strip of black created from the firing operation. While in the shelter, the crewmember received a burn on his left elbow.

As the front passed, the two helicopter crewmembers located each other and were joined by Engine 438 at the shelter deployment site. At this time the type III IC arrived on scene and ordered all resources to gather at the heel of the fire.

Preliminary factual findings

The following findings were noted as contributing factors leading up to and determining the outcome of the entrapment on the Scorpio Fire. These findings will be discussed in detail within the Final Report.

• Inadequate weather information obtained and distributed during suppression activities
• Incomplete briefing
• LCES not in place
• Ineffective use of resources
• Overhead engaging in suppression activities neglected primary oversight duties
• Fire experienced extreme wind event from passing thunder cell
• Effective use of shelter training and PPE during deployment

Investigation Team

Randy Peterson
Paul Briggs
Tracy Dunford

7/11 72 hour report Scorpio Fire Entrapment

Interesting.............. Check out the contributing factors. Will we
ever learn?

TC

7/11 I just ran across this article and I am wondering if it is true. It says that Oregon
private crew contractors are REQUIRED to be bilingual or they will lose their
jobs.

EL

EL, For safety sake crew members must be able to communicate with overhead. It's up to a company to head up its Spanish speaking crews - if they have any - with someone who can communicate with them. So yes, the supervisor must speak the language of their crew as well as English. Only makes sense. LCES. Ab.

7/11 Sally

Welcome to the new Forest Service, the agency with no
spine. We all know at the ground level that leaving
local federal engines at home and bringing in out of
region contractors isn't right but our leaders don't
care. The people who are making these decisions have
their high GS level jobs and they aren't concerned for
us. It's not the people on the ground that are
failing it's the upper level bigheads that are failing
us. I think it's also funny that I called a friend of
mine in Nevada this weekend and she stated they were
having a hard time getting federal engines there and
all they could get was contractors from out of state.
Who knows maybe it's time to shut North Op's down and
contract it out, I guess it couldn't be any worse then
Serco.

DM
7/11 Ab,
Just read misery whips comments.
Missery <snip> I work as a contractor. I also spend 9 months of the year working on the agency side. Contrators are people just like you. In my years I've worked with some of the worst most unethical and lazy people that you have ever seen. Some of them were even contractors. Point is misery whip quit using contrators as your whipping boy and scape goat and fix the problems in your own agency. One way is to find a system that incorperates compaints and deals with them fairly across the board.
If you open your eyes and start to see personel as individuals it might help some of your problems. Say its xyz fire engine thats causing problems not contractors.
My crew work their butt off. We maintain our selves and our equipment to a higher standard than any agency I've worked for or with requires of their own, and we give not only our IC, but every one of our brothers and sisters on the line and behind it 110%.

Signed,
Just anouther guy on the line.
7/10 Informations from Europe:

Heliteam of six (1 Portuguese and 5 Chileans) are surrounded and caught by the
flames in fire in Portugal. Anyone know more on this?

Five firefighters die in a helitanker crash in the Canary Islands (Sikorsky S-61N
from Helicsa Helicópteros now owned by Helisureste; article has it wrong)
in Spanish www.elpais.es 
English machine translation: HERE

SinNombre

PS, This firefighting plane (Beriev 200 amphibious turbojet airtanker) on loan
from Russia almost crashed and is grounded...
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Portugal_receives_Russian_aerial_firefighting_airplane

It started some spot fires when it dumped fuel. A CL-215 put out the spots.
from article: "Plane to battle fires causes fire" by João Miguel Tavares

promo video of the plane www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y1_X_l_smw

Other info from Europe: Listing of Airtankers in Europe (lots of them!)

Condolences to families and friends. Ab.

7/10 re Boulder Complex resources:

I also would like to voice my opinion:

There were three different companies as well as crews from Oregon on this R5 fire. A lot of equipment was sitting around according to the wildcad. We need as Federal Wildland Firefighters to voice our opinions to our congressmen and as well as the public to tell our congressmen and congresswomen what is going on in region 5 if this is our future.

Yet another R - 5er

7/10 Sally,

Not only were USFS R5 engines passed-up but so were California Region 5, Plumas County located contract engines and tenders (on the Boulder Complex). North Ops and the Plumas have no desire to help, promote or hire in-state or local business. The Plumas has been very lax in hiring locally and they have very little interest in helping the local economy.

No Sense

7/10 Kern Co Fire has the best little media clip for the lightning storm on June 30, 2003:
www.co.kern.ca.us/fire/Trngdiv/Lightning.mpg

Imbedded in the flashes are the following stats:
over 1,000 calls
44 vegetation fires
17 structure fires
42 hazardous conditions
68 medical aid calls
204 additional emergency calls
No fatalities

Very effective. CDF is also effective at letting the public know what they do. The
Forest Service is not so good... FS was getting better in R5, but nothing lately.
What happened? How do you get funding when no one knows what you do?

Thunderstorm watchout

7/10 HPWREN images captured by SMER Cam of Border Fire last week above the San
Diego - Riverside County line.

http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/HWB/SMER-I15-fire-20060630/

RS

Nice ones. Ab.

7/10 Can't hold it in any more.....

I have a question for most of the Northern and Central Forest in Region 5.
During the Boulder Complex on the Plumas last week, how many engines
were sitting home? Could any of you have been able to spare 5 engines to
go to this complex?

I am wondering because I couldn't believe that I saw at least 5 contract
Engines from OR on this fire when there wasn't that much going on in the
Region.

Sally
7/9 Ab

Was listening on the scanner today to traffic on the Command Channel for some fires in the badlands north of SR62 between Yucca Valley and Morongo Valley CA. It was obvious that access was terrible and I guess there were only 2, S2Ts and 2 SEATs available. AA330 out of Ramona had relieved AA310 out of Hemet.

330 calls OPS on the command and says something to the effect "There are cloud shadows getting over the fire. I don't like what might happen you should remind everyone to review the Watch Outs and LCES." The IC was characterizing the fire as wind and slope driven.

Within an hour there was a 180 degree wind shift. I will say that was some pretty heads up thinking in that plane.

Also 330 kept trying to get more S2Ts to bomb the thing into submission without a lot of crew risk. Never did hear if they got there but it did not sound that way on command. Could not hear Air to Air.

My best wishes to, and prayers for, the boots on the ground on that one. Might be a long night.

RJM

Many new So Cal starts reported on the Hot List Forum, including the one you were listening to. Be safe all. Ab.

7/9 From Firescribe:

Northern California Seasonal Fire Weather/Fire Potential Outlook July – October 2006 (pdf file)

7/9 Ab, lots of lightning in the West. https://thunderstorm.vaisala.com/tux/jsp/explorer/explorer.jsp

San Bernardino has two complexes started by lightning and complicated by thunderstorm activity:

  1. The Millard Complex near Cabazon. Three fires in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, erratic fire behavior with spotting. Walker's team is ordered.
  2. The Sawtooth Complex near the Pioneertown Community. Yucca Valley and Morongo Valley Community are threatened.

Also, the Pushwalla Complex is burning in Joshua Tree National Park. Good progress on that one today but still a ways from containment.

Thunderstorm watchout

7/9 Ab,

Here's the link to the Thirtymile staff ride on the Fire Leadership website: www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/staffride/library_staff_ride4.html

There are some great mp3 audio clips with some of the stands. Here's one for the quotes page:

"Start asking questions earlier on, about where we're going with the fire." Marshall Brown, Entiat IHC supt. www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/staffride/downloads/lsr4/marshall_brown_stand2.mp3

vfd cap'n

ps, Thanks to the fire performer, formerly known as BLM Bob.

7/9 WaterPros Fire in Las Vegas, NV is currently looking for CDL Drivers with Tanker Endorsement.  See their new employment ad on the Jobs Page.  OA
7/9 Re 30mile:

Readers/trainers, also check Lessons from the 30 Mile Fire - training materials For future reference if you're trying to find these fast -- and other training materials relating to 30mile or other fires, go to our Archives page under Documents worth Reading. Ab.

7/9 Five years ago--on July 10, 2001, we lost four of our wildland firefighters near Winthrop, Washington on the Okanogan National Forest on the Thirtymile Fire. They were Tom Craven, Karen Fitzpatrick, Devin Weaver, and Jessica Johnson. The lessons learned are still applicable today.

Here is a link to a memorial site: www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/thirtymile/thirtymile-brochure.pdf (pdf file)

Here is a link to the report: www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/thirtymile_lsr4_fire_investigation_rpt.pdf (pdf file)

Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire

Thanks Bill. We lost some great young people that day. Photos.

7/8 I know this is a few days late (I've been on a roll) but I've wanted to remind everyone of  STORM KING'S 12 MEMORIAL, July 6th 2006. I just wanted to remember the ultimate sacrifice that those 14 brothers and sisters who fell on the steep hillside 12 years gave. This is going on my 4th season and I fight fire every season in memory of BONNIE HOLTBY whom I knew as a child. She was a "HERO" in my eyes long before the Storm King Fire. Now I look around and wonder what little girls think of me.

If you have a chance, just take a moment of SILENCE for those who died, and STAY SAFE OUT THERE.

NorCal Firegirl

Storm King photos (first 6) and description. Ab.

7/8 vfd cap'n,

BLM Bob is no more. I've moved on and am looking for challenges (and pleasures) outside of the fire world. I left those reports that I mentioned in that long-ago post to my staff and successor. I made a suggestion that they send them to the Wildfire Lessons Learned Center, but they've probably been kind of busy with fire season.

If Ab will forward you my email address, you can write to me and I'll help you to get in touch with the folks I left the reports with. Your project sounds good, and I still think it might be a good thing if first-copy quality reproductions of those reports were available to everyone through something like the Lessons Learned Center so maybe something can be worked out.

All the best,
The bon vivant formerly known as BLM Bob

Bob, best wishes in your new endeavors. Keep reading here and if something stimulates you to put fingers to keyboard, please write in. Thanks for your many contributions to fire through the years. Ab.

7/7 Ab,

Thanks for including the link to NWSA’s website in your response to Deborah Miley’s post. I looked at their member list; no doubt there are some historical fire figures who are NWSA members. Francis Mohr, the father of Minimum Impact Suppression Standards. Paul Solarz, former Type II IC and a fine, smart man. Bill Moody, smokejumper legend from NCSB. Some other good ones too.

But I also saw several names of contractors who I know from personal experience, contractors who do not have a good reputation among federal firefighters. Like DM, in some cases I have been forced to dismiss contract crews and engines from incidents for poor performance. At times I have released resources with scathing performance appraisals for willfully disobeying direct orders, for leaving their assigned work areas in the middle of a shift to sleep or screw off, only to see them show up on the next incident! Needless to say, these kinds of experiences do not make me feel all fuzzy about NWSA Independent Consultant Deborah Miley’s “can’t we all just get along” plea. Nor do I have much faith that ODF’s overwhelmed contract administration system is going to miraculously fix everything overnight, or ever for that matter.

Like DM, I know how it feels to have an incompetent contract crew show up on my incident when what I really needed was a crew who I could trust to take commander’s intent and work safely and intelligently without some kind of elaborate in-the-heat-of-battle fireline appraisal/mating dance. His point about babysitting is right on, and a good example of how messed up this system is. I can tell you from experience that when you have a weak contract crew/engine that you have to constantly deal with on your fire or division, they make your job three times as hard.

The more prominent (read: bigger) contractors are all crowing about how Best Value contracts will fix everything. To me, Best Value is just another pain-in-the-ass short-sighted attempt at a fix that heaps more work and more pressure right on the fireline supervisor. Once again, fireline supervisors wind up being the enforcement police and doing the dirty work for a defective system. More tasks heaped on the people who can least afford additional distractions. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Ever since Best Value came on their radar, contractors have become more pushy about getting better performance appraisals. I can’t tell that contractor work ethics have changed, just that many of them now expect superlative performance ratings even if they were just so-so or had an easy assignment.

For those who think I’m just bashing contractors for the heck of it and being unfair, below are a few quotes from the Oregon Department of Forestry’s official website (ODF administers the national crew contract). Here’s the link to the web page from which these quotes were extracted (thanks again for the NWSA link Ab):

http://egov.oregon.gov/ODF/FireCrewLanguageRequirement.shtml

“Although firefighting companies have existed for decades, the industry has expanded rapidly in recent years. This has been in response to a series of large fires, to reductions in public-agency firefighting resources, and to reduced job opportunities in other parts of the forest industry.

The expansion has not been without growing pains. While many contractors have consistently performed well, others have had problems including poor crew supervision, language barriers, unqualified personnel, equipment deficiencies, alcohol and drug use, and inadequate incident performance.”


“The number of Hispanic crews in the Northwest has increased markedly in recent years. A count of Spanish surnames on crew rosters suggests that about 85 percent of current contract firefighters are of Hispanic descent. This rough estimate doesn’t indicate how many crew members speak English.

There is no contract requirement that supervisors on contract crews speak any language other than English. There is a requirement that supervisors be able to communicate with the workers for whom they are responsible. This is essential to ensure that all personnel are made aware of safety hazards that can develop quickly in firefighting.”


“Contractors must certify that they have complied with federal immigration laws, and must fill out the I-9 forms required of all employers.

Because social security number anomalies are common among illegal immigrants, contractors this year are being asked to take extra steps to verify the numbers they are given. Land management agencies are working increasingly with federal immigration authorities, the experts in this area, to improve monitoring if(sp) immigration status.”

I don’t know how you folks read those official contract website quotes, but they sound to me like an admission of some extremely serious problems that have not yet been rectified.

I know this is a hard pill for contractors to swallow, but I believe it is just bad strategy to use contract wildland firefighters in large numbers. In a previous post I referred to a book called “Apollo, Challenger, Columbia: The Decline of the Space Program; A Study in Organizational Communication". If you are a fed firefighter, I defy you to read this book without seeing the similarities between NASA’s increasing use of contractors and subsequent decline, and the contractor related problems we now see on the firelines.

For the folks who don’t seem to understand the relationship of culture to safety, I suggest you read the book “Managing the Unexpected”. When it comes to fireline safety, an organization’s culture can spell the difference between safety and disaster. I have found that when it comes to contractors, there are as many cultures as there are companies. Some are ok, some are simply awful. Care to guess which kind fed fire supervisors tend to remember?

For many reasons, I don’t think contract firefighting has worked well overall or will ever live up to its billing as a way to save the federal government money. I believe we need to get back to building a 100% MEL fed organization so that we will continue to have a large enough pool of excellent people from which to select our future fire managers, so that our wounded culture can heal, and also because at the end of the day I am a taxpayer too.

Misery Whip

7/7 Run over by his own engine - be REAL careful out there!

Dick Mangan
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

File Date: July 4, 2006

Subject: 24 Hour report
Fire # CUG9 Big Draw Fire, personal injury incident
Twin Falls District, (Jarbidge Field Office) Bureau of Land Management
Date of Incident: July 2, 2006

To: Chris Simonson, Fire Management Officer

(24 Hour Report)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Name of Injured: Thane Peters (Family has been notified)

On July 2, 2006 at approximately 1900 hours, Thane Peters was participating in wild fire suppression activities on the Big Draw fire, southeast of the Mountain Home Air Force Base’s Sailor Creek training range. Mr. Peters was working with a hose at the left front of his assigned type IV engine, number 2416 when he apparently tripped and fell to the ground. His legs were run over by the left front tire of the engine breaking his right femur and fracturing his left foot. His condition was stabilized on the scene and he was transported to Magic Valley Hospital in Twin Falls via a U.S. Forest Service helicopter that was also assigned to the fire. He was treated for his injuries and has yet to be released from the hospital.

The investigation of the incident is ongoing.

/s/ George Rummele
George Rummele
Safety Officer

Article with human interest details posted below: "FF injured, not fallen"... Follow the link. Ab.

7/7 TO ALL, regarding contractors

I have spoken before regarding contracting. I am going to speak again. I am a contractor and have been for the last four years. We have experienced all of this BS that everyone is talking about. I'm going tell you all we are on both sides of the fence. As well as being contractors, we are also volunteer firefighters AND ALL of our crew members are the same. So I would like to point out a couple of facts.

1.) Yes, there are some bad apples out there. But guess what, it's not just contractors (also stated by Contractor ENGB). How many of you leave a fire with a performance review? My guess would be less than half. We don't go home without one. That's where you start weeding out the bad. The contracting officer gets copies of ours.

2.) We are not getting rich, believe me. But we love being a part of wildland firefighting, and enjoy working with the people that welcome us. We get paid by the hour with an 8 hour guarantee. We pay for our own fuel, repairs, insurances, food (when in travel), supplies as we need them. I know for a fact everyone else GETS paid for the above. We also pay our people very well, but we do expect hard working, team oriented, individuals.

3.) We work twice as hard as everyone, to prove ourselves. We take the initiative. When our shift requires hand crew support, we take water for us and enough for the hand crews. In TX on IA, when all was quiet, my engine crew helped the dozer crew do maintenance on the dozers, helped clean the facility they were staged at, one night we even instructed an Urban Interface class for the volunteers in TX (yes, the instructor was M-410 qualified). My point, we stay busy and always go a step further than what's expected. Some of you may remember our mission from previous writings "SETTING A NEW STANDARD". And our number one goal is ALWAYS SAFETY!

Misery Whip,

In your 7/4 post I would like to comment that being a volunteer firefighter we interact within the county of our fire department to uphold our training and working with the different agencies we have become reputable and gained the recognition we deserve. We also have interaction with several C & G in our region in training at Wildfire Academies and Colleges. We ourselves don't just pop up when there's fire. We take it seriously year round, and continue to train. We feel with that interaction then you meet us before the fire and feel comfortable working with us and know that we are reputable company. That is how we operate and I don't have an answer for other contractors, but I don't like when we ALL get put down when someone mentions the C word.

TO ALL,

Just to sum up. Please, if you haven't used a particular contractor, give them a chance before you judge. If they're bad most definitely write up a performance eval, send a copy home with them AND mail one to that region's contracting officer. I know if my contracting officer received a negative eval, that contract would be pulled immediately.
On the other hand if you have a good contractor then also do the same, because that's how the good can weed out the bad. You could also request to see some past evals when they get to the fire, someone could be looking them over during engine inspections. I know I'll have them on my engines. It's just like a job you get 90 performance review if you perform your job at 100% you get to keep your job and maybe a raise, if not you're out.

Region 2 Contractor
7/7 Well I know that the Colville Indian Reservation has a lady that
I know very well still on a lookout tower.

She is in her mid 80's and still goin' strong. Congrats to her.

Sign me X ENGB BIA

So she was born in about 1926. Can you find out when she started or how many years she's done it? What are the biggest changes she's seen in fire, in looking out for fire or in fighting fire... or a good story or two - best memory, worst memory? Ab.

7/7 From Firescribe: Anyone know if this would help or not? There is a problem and we need a solution, in my opinion.

Housing allowance for feds? Some execs say yes...
By AIMEE CURL
Federal Times
July 05, 2006

Federal leaders in Los Angeles and San Francisco plan to push a bold new idea for battling recruitment and retention problems in high-priced cities:

Instead of locality pay, give feds a military-like housing allowance. "Although there's a recognition that locality pay is broken, there has not been any wholesale effort to change it," said Kathrene Hansen, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles Federal Executive Board. "Everyone's been tweaking locality pay and market-based pay around the edges, but no one's been saying, 'Let's address the problem head on.' Obviously the military figured this out years ago. It's not a new idea, but a new application of it." Called the Variable Housing Allowance, it would replace locality pay in areas where federal workers receive more money based on a higher cost of living. The 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act created locality pay as a way to reduce pay disparity between the federal and nonfederal work forces in some cities. (Read the rest of the article via the link. Ab.)

Kathrene Hansen
Executive Director
Greater Los Angeles Federal Executive Board
Kathrene.Hansen @ dhs.gov

7/7 Arroyo Grande helo and crew:

Searching through the SAFECOMS and saw two for...
possibly H-527? Does anyone have any info, they
sounded pretty serious... hope everyone is/was okay.

Sign me "WANDERING."

About a week or 10 days ago the AG crew was in Arizona when their helicopter made a hard or rough landing. All were OK. The incident is being followed up with investigation, inspections, etc. It may be a case of too high, too hot and too heavy, but that's speculation. We'll know when the investigation is complete. It's being handled by the aviation folks.

Our best thoughts as always with the crew. Photos of the AG helo and crew from past years: Arroyo Grande Flight Crew Ab.

7/7 Ab, here's one story with a not so bad ending... Todd

Firefighter injured, not fallen

TWIN FALLS The thought that he might not survive only lasted a moment as the tire of a 32,000-pound fire engine rolled up his legs.

But when the tire stopped at his hips, Thane Peters knew he would live to fight another fire.

On Sunday, the 24-year-old arrived at the head of a fire south of Glenns Ferry with his U.S. Bureau of Land Management fire crew. (For more, follow the link...)

7/6 Stuff for IMWTK:

The first female lookouts were

1913, Hallie Morse Daggett, Eddy's Gulch Lookout, Klamath NF. Ranger W.H McCarthy listed her qualifications as "an ardent advocate of the Forest Service, not afraid of anything that walks,creeps or flies, and a perfect lady". She started work June 1, 1913 and remained on the job for 14 years.

Harriet Kelley of the Tahoe NF, and Mollie Ingoldsby of the Plumas NF became lookouts in 1918.

Campfire permits
In 1915 the Angeles National Forest was the first to require campfire permits, by 1920 all Southern California forests required the permits.

Unusual patrol vehicles

The Tahoe NF used a 26 foot gasoline powered launch stationed on the Northwest shore of Lake Tahoe. It patrolled the lake looking for fires from 1910-1918.

The Sierra NF used motorcycle patrolmen beginning in 1912. In 1913, the Sierra NF began using a Model T runabout outfitted with railroad wheels to patrol the tracks of the San Joaquin and Eastern railroad tracks.

The Angeles NF possibly had the first aerial patrol in 1913 when Ranger Parnay rode with a pilot observing a series of test fires. In 1916 the Angeles experimented with the use of hot air balloons to detect fires.

1919 saw the first organized use of aircraft for patrol in California when the US Army Air Service and the US Forest Service worked together to patrol the Angeles and Cleveland National Forests.

Source:
Fire in the Forest, A history of forest fire control on the national forests in California, 1898-1956. Robert W. Cermak

AW

Thanks, I added those to IMWTK. Ab.

7/6 Ab can I get a S-131 book any where on-line?

Thanks!

Cy

7/6 Ab,

If BLM Bob is still lurking around Theysaid, I have a favor to ask. In January 2004, he wrote:

1/13 - "One last thing; you know it's only been less than five years since the first investigation report was published on-line in 1999. We shouldn't take it for granted. It used to often be really, really hard to get your hands on reports. I've got some rare original ones like the 1976 Battlement Creek fire and the 1983 Mound House fire. The reports are so much better distributed now than back in the day. Talk about hard for the youngsters and groundpounders to get the information. We should be glad for the progress made there." www.wildlandfire.com/arc/2004a_jan.htm

Do you still have the Battlement Creek report? Would you be willing to let me borrow it or send me a quality, digital scan? I've been working off a copy of a copy, with really poor image quality. And, what the Lessons Learned Center has in the database is no better (except for some interesting underlining of key phrases.)

I have most of the text scanned or re-typed, but the image quality is really poor on the maps and photos. I would dearly love to give the wildfire community photo-quality images from the original report. Ab has my contact info.

By the statistics, over two-thirds of burnover fatalities involve firefighters under the age of 30. I can't help but think that these kids can still learn from a fire that will have a 30th anniversary in less than two weeks.

vfd cap'n

ps, I just re-read the note Ab added to that original post, asking to borrow the reports. I'm hoping I'm a better beggar.

7/6 Lobotomy,

Nice job, you make some excellent points in this forum. We all need to make sure our
elected (or wantabee elected) officials continue to hear from people yourself and from
all of us.

Below is the budget results the past few years and what we have to look forward to from
our current representatives. If your Forest, BLM District or Park was broke this year,
just wait until next year. If you ever thought about making a lot of noise, the next 4 months
is the best chance you have that someone is going to listen.

VOTE November 7th............

FY 2005 FY 2006

FY 2006 after
R & T

FY 2007

FY 2007  
  Final Enacted Presidents Budget House Mark-up Senate Subcommittee Mark-up
Wildland Fire Management            
Preparedness $676,470 $666,068 $660,705 $655,887 $655,887 $655,887

MS

7/6 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
7/6 KB, we'll hope it was an oversight error of Wildland Fire Magazine.

My brother-in-law literally ran for his life on this day twelve years ago and lived.

We will never forget those who did not.

Thoughts and prayers to those lost, those missing them, and those still fighting fire.

EG
7/6 Women and showers:

A friend brought my attention to the posting on women's showers (below) and someone wanting the "real story" and suggested I respond, since I was there. In the early/mid seventies we went out for one of those one day shifts when the supe turns down a helicopter ride out because "we'd rather walk out" and we knew we were in for it -- what followed was consecutive, sweltering hot 24 hour shifts of cutting line, hot shoveling, and cutting line around hot spots, sleeping on the line for days.

We finally got back into fire camp and were beat. Everyone on my assembled crew started taking showers (the old open-air ones) and told me the Women's Showers were 1-2. (I was told because this was when most of the men did not want showers). I went at 1. "Sorry" said the shower manager. Too many guys want showers, the Women's Hours will be at 2. At 2 I was told it was 4. At 4 it was 5 and on and on. He was getting a real kick out of this now, since he probably had never been on the line in his life, but this really wasn't funny on any level anymore, since I clearly wasn't going to get a shower.

I was furious by now and he thought that was even funnier. I just took my stuff and walked in -- was there ever a commotion "you can't go in there!" he was yelling in panic from the door, because now he was in trouble. You could have heard a pin drop in the showers, believe me, the showers were full, and I was just grim faced, you could have fried an egg on my head, looking straight ahead and just getting my shower and getting out of there. Yes, I'm pretty sure some guys fled. But I also appreciate there were so many guys, both in the shower and who heard about it on the lightning-fast grapevine in camp, that were simply kind and respectful and just understood how much it meant to get a hot shower as a firefighter after so long on a hot assignment and were apologetic I had to make a stink and do that to make my point.

After that there were Women's Hours posted on the shower and they kept them and that guy disappeared. As years went by it seemed like women in the showers became some kind of joke or gag -- but back in those days there were a lot of guys who just didn't think I should have had to do that.

Thanks.
Sincerely,

An Old Salt (now)

Thanks "Old Salt". Good to have the first-hand story about when you were a young, dirty and (no doubt) salty grunt, just wanting a shower. I put it on the IMWTK page at the bottom. I need to incorporate other historical info that's come in over the last month on fire camp showers as well. Also anyone know when Linda Szczepanik became IC or Jeanne Pincha-Tulley? Ab.

7/6 Ab,

Attached is Tony Petrilli's witness statement from the South Canyon Fire report. We mail this as pre-course reading (along with the IRPG) to every student in our S-130/190 classes. It's a small pdf (96 kb) and should be added to the Documents Worth Reading section.

vfd cap'n

Tony Petrilli's witness statement - 96k pdf

7/6 Dick,

Thank you for your post. You make some very good points, but I am still not sure why you keep focusing your references on Southern California. You seem to be fixated on Southern California while turning a blind eye to what is happening in the rest of the western United States.

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

From the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos158.htm

"Median hourly earnings of fire fighters were $18.43 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $13.65 and $24.14. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.71, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $29.21. Median hourly earnings were $18.78 in local government, $17.34 in the Federal Government, and $14.94 in State government."

"Median annual earnings of first-line supervisors/managers of fire fighting and prevention workers were $58,920 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $46,880 and $72,600. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $90,860. First-line supervisors/managers of fire fighting and prevention workers employed in local government earned about $60,800 a year."

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

Nearly 50 years ago, this statement was found in the 1957 Report to the Chief

"Career limitations in the present fire control aid series result in the loss of well qualified fire men to woods and other industries, state and county protection agencies, and other jobs where better careers are available. This situation makes it difficult to recruit and develop additional suitable men in this category."

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

As the years go by, problems that aren't properly addressed will just simmer..... this problem has been simmering for far too long.

Lobotomy

7/6 From yesterdays R-6 Morning Report / Shared Resources Briefing:

Activity Summary:

Most units are handling new starts and holdover fires from recent lightning with no
problems reported. Fires are mostly Class AB. Units report IA forces are stretched.

www.nwccweb.us/content/products/intelligence/amreport.pdf (pdf file)

7/6 Ab,

This past week we received our July issue of Wildland Fire Magazine. This is the
first year I didn't see a mention of South Canyon in a July issue.

In August 1994 my wife and one of our sons walked off of Hell's Gate ridge and
were picked up on I 70 by Sonny Lasalle. On our way back to Glenwood Springs
I told Sonny not to forget what happened because when we forget it will happen
all over again. I also told Mike Dombeck, Jack Ward Thomas and others I was
going to be a boil on their A$$ until the day I died so this wouldn't happen again.

I hope we haven't reached that point that we are forgetting. We still have many
firefighters out there we love and care for, So Let's Not Forget.

STAY SAFE OUT THERE.

KB

7/6 Dear Ab,

It's a day of remembrance: JULY 6th 1994............
It doesn't seam like 12 years have gone by since Storm King.

The families of those 14 have added so much to WFF. They share with and mentor the new families that come our way, giving them hope and sharing in their sorrow. They continue to help fund this Foundation. They send photos of newborn babies that come into their families' lives. They share their favorite memories, their laughter and tears. Levi Brinkley's Dad gave me this remembrance and we have it hanging on the wall with the pictures of the firefighters we lost that day:

WHAT WE LEARNED.......
The lives of the 14 firefighters on Storm King serve as a
constant reminder for all firefighters today. We learned that
human life is more precious that any home, property, or
landscape and that safety should guide firefighters' decisions.


We send our deepest sympathy to the families of Storm King.
We also send our sympathy and remembrance to the firefighters and friends whose lives were touched and changed by this tremendous loss.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

7/6 I am not going to debate semantics, but I suppose a better word to have used should have been the "program" has worked quite well. Is the "program" perfect? No, but it is improving every year and a lot of fires have been suppressed using contract fire fighters. I will say again there are some very good to excellent contractors who take a great deal of pride in being fire fighters.

Let us not forget that there are "bad apples" on both sides of the fence. We all need to continuously work hard to ensure the best and safest fire fighting forces available.

Well-said Debbie Miley, Mellie and DM.

Let us stop the "us" vs. "them" debate.

One other thought....................Take some time some day and sit down with a contract company owner and learn what all is really reflected in that contract price. It will be an eye-opener. It is not all profit and it is not all a bed of roses. Plus, while the agency folks keep on working regardless of whether they are on a fire or not, contractors are not working, but they still have bills to pay and families to provide for.

Have a safe summer everyone!

Contractors have their place too
7/6 NorCal Tom -

Thanks for attaching the links to show the sources of the 33% attrition rate among Forestry Technicians in Montana for 2005. It really helps to put the numbers in a much clearer perspective.

The 2 charts you've referenced show that there were in fact 1092 Forestry Technicians working for the USFS in 2005: 361 of them had less than 2 years experience, and were working in ALL aspects of forestry work like timber marking, trail maintenance as well as fire, and 315 of them quit the agency. Since Montana has a relatively short field season, and summer students are still an important component of the workforce, I'm guessing that that's where many of these resignations came from, as the students quit to go back to school in late August and early September.

Probably more telling, compared to the retention problems in Southern California, is that there were 623 Forestry Technicians in Montana with more than 4 years experience, and only 22 (6%) quit in 2005. To me, this number reflects an extremely stable workforce, maybe because they like the agency, the job and the pay; maybe because there aren't better paying competitors in the local market.

Whatever the reasons, the numbers show that the experienced Forestry Technicians in Montana (in all the forestry areas including Fire) are staying around in very high percentages.

None of the above should be interpreted as making light of the seriousness of retaining qualified folks, regardless of their duration on the job. Hiring, training and retaining the next generation of workers is an important task for all of us, regardless of the industry or geographic location.

Now, if someone came in and offered these same Forestry Techs a job in Montana that paid $100,000+ with the work schedules that the departments in SoCal have (more time for hunting, fishing, hiking), I'd lay money on the line that the % of "quits" would be significantly higher, but those kind of wages aren't out there in the "Last Best Place".

Again, thanks for providing the data that allows us to take some of the emotion out of our discussions and replace it with real numbers.

Dick Mangan

7/5 Any more Hotshot Crews out there looking to be 52 Club Gold Members?

"A buck a week to help a buddy. It's that easy. Be a part of the compassion that spreads like wildfire."

Springville HS (CA-SQF), Del Rosa HS (CA-BDF), and Vista Grande HS (CA-BDF) are all now 2006 52 Club Gold Members..... is your crew next?

Lobotomy
7/5 Ab,

Just confirming shelter deployment on Scorpio incident west of Great Salt
Lake. don't have details on this other than to say that the person is OK.

noname

7/5 Ab,

Have not been on the site for awhile (too long) and I see some of the same common threads discussed annually - but it's good to see people noticing that the costs of running separate fire programs is getting prohibitive and redundant.... and are speaking up about its pros and cons. I picked this point up in several threads, altho subtle, the grapevine has its eye on concepts now in place in the wildland fire community and I am particularly glad it is being spoken up to.

What we all ought to know is that there is a current NWCG sponsored, and legislatively mandated, on-going effort to examine and rectify the BUSINESS FOCUS and functional business areas of wildland fire management. The National Wildland Fire Enterprise Architecture project, or NWFEA for short is the initiative that is building the future forest fire fighting business transformation strategy, the blueprint for implementation, and the methodologies that will change the way agencies, states and cooperators manage wildland fire as a single line of business / An enterprise with a focus on eliminating redundant and inefficient fire business practices, streamlining costs and dysfunctional systems so the wildland fire community can function as if it were a single business (like a corporation in the private sector) - and looking at all of the needed, and non-needed sub-focus areas of the wildland fire enterprise.

The issues are on the table NOW, the tools are in development NOW, and the transition plans are being forged. It will happen and more likely sooner - than later.

This is not stovepiping the organization, nor is it a mix of fire fighting doctrines, or the start of a single wildland firefighting entity / it is the launch of a sensible and practical exercise that plans to run the business (enterprise) of wildland firefighting in a more cohesive, standardized and cost effective manner. The NWFEA goal is to make every dollar spent in the national fire community go further, identify and eliminate stupid and dumb redundancies, and stream-line asinine and dysfunctional interagency fire business functions. It's not a pipe dream - its happening, and the table is getting set NOW for out year budgeting. Perhaps not the next cycle - but probably a lot sooner that 2020, as some visionaries view things.

What ICS was in its beginnings and what is has evolved into now as a world wide model, is about to happen with the interagency evolution of getting rid of old one agency - one business line of practices. Think of running the wildland fire enterprise like a Fortune 500 company. Would not this be a doable - if not noble goal. Well, times are changing. National Leadership is not asleep at the wheel. It is coming.

And honestly, its time for sacrosanct, untouchable single fire entities to really examine how they are going to fit. What may appeal now as the cream of the iceberg may tip under its own growing weight. Honestly - doesn't it make sense that some of the remaining "codger corporate memory" does see and understand s the writing on the wall - that we are all operating in a bigger sandbox then we think we can manage alone. And doesn't it make sense to eliminate bad business? It makes a whole lot of sense to me that there truly remain some visionaries that have taken their heads out of the sand.

Just glad to hear the first tremors of the conversation rippling thru the 'theysaid dialogues.
Remember none of us is as smart as all of us - and none of us can afford to do "it" without each other anymore.

I think by 2010 the business drivers of fire management programs (FUNDING) will be more unified and focused. Waste and redundancies (especially some of the 'rave' overcost operations' exclusively will see even tougher times ahead) if they don't weigh into the concept. Just wanted to take some time to check in. Fire Leadership has its fingers wrapped around some good things. Changes are coming and the edge of the rut is not the horizon. Every entity evolves. Fire business is no exception.

- "Forks in the Trail"

7/5 Fire on Mt. Jumbo just outside of Missoula - watch at:

www.umt.edu/grizcam

T-00 has been making drops.

AS

7/5 mnf wildcad

Is back up and running again (I think) seems to have been a server problem
of some type.

TC

7/5 Mountaineers Fire Crew based out of Redding, CA is looking for a few more qualified folks. They have an ad on the Jobs Page that was posted today. OA
7/5 I don't need to tell most readers here:

Firefighting is an interagency effort across many regions with varying topography, having varying interface constraints, varying policies and politics. Besides fed, state, local, municipal firefighters, resources include contract firefighters, vollies, and AD firefighters, airtanker pilots, helicopter resources, etc. On fires I've been on, all groups have a role to play; all groups cost different amounts. Training and performance, safety, and maintenance of a core group of fire professionals that will grow up to become the IMTs of the future must be taken into account. A good business would factor in true costs at every step, would hire and train the best, would oversee and fire those that don't measure up for whatever reason. There would also be a projected budget that could be counted on, so that long range goals could be achieved.

Of necessity, it sounds more and more like the hardcore business approach will be coming. The Forest Service is not the FS of 100 years ago. If the WO FS is going to hijack big fire money for stove-piping finance, IT, and maintenance shops, it should be especially careful not to compromise resources or safety.

One other thing: In the new scheme of things, the Forest Service (plus the President and Congress) will have to decide if the Incident Management Teams will continue. I think the Fire Teams are an incredible resource for this nation. Deciding to streamline fire, to downsize resources because money was raked off for other FS functions, to cut fire resources and eventually training -- all this is likely to have an additional effect of eliminating national fire teams down the road... You can't just snap your fingers and they appear out of nowhere. Fire managers must be grown as professionals; our fire leaders have been trying to foster such growth from the ground up since the National Fire Plan came out.

A viable professional fire program takes years to build. In contrast, it can take as little as one or two seasons to make everything disappear. (Kind of like pumping too much water out of an aquifer (underground river) in the SW, until it collapses.)

On the face of it, Misery Whip, I liked your post.
Similarly, Debbie Miley I liked your post.
I can see each of your perspectives. I don't think either one is the whole story, but then, you never said they were.

I need to read more deeply and catch up after being away...
Just wanted to check in.

Love you all!

Mellie

7/5 R5 doesn't have to spend much time babysitting contractors because
we don't let many contractors in and we send 'em packin' quick if paperwork's
not up to snuff. We don't have enough R5 fed staff for scrutinizing everywhichway
rules can get bent, one of the considerations, for sure. Some of us watched
what happened as the PNW dismantled their fire organization which
quickly turned into a babysitting operation watching out for the bad
contractors. In my opinion, it was lucky for us our leader (Q)
said "nuh-uh".

I didn't make it to the Q party - was on a fire. Was he roasted and toasted
to perfection?

Strider

7/5 Deborah

I have a couple of comments to make about the hiring
of contactors. First I'm glad to see that the NWSA is
trying to make a difference in the contract world
because it is long overdue. But one thing that I
don't understand is why you think the feds should have
to monitor the contactors why can't you guys just live
up to the contacts that you sign, we have enough
things going on in fire and having to babysit shouldn't
be one of them. I worked in R6 for a number of years
and having to deal with contract engines is a complete
nightmare, I associate it with trying to herd cats.
We also do monitor crews on the line and alot have
been disbanned just to show up the next year with a
new name and owner. I have personally kicked engines
off the line for doing drugs, sleeping and hiding from
the strike team leader but I still see those engines
to this day on the line, I think it's time that the
contractors monitor themselves and see how hard it is
to get rid of the bad ones. Also the playing field
isn't even, how many fed engines do you see in R6 on
large project fires not many. Until the contract
world gets better at monitoring itself you guys will
never get the respect that you want.

DM
7/5 I would like to remind everyone, that the "bad contractors" who do not know their jobs are out there because the agencies have not done their job of enforcing the requirements of their own contract/agreements. We in the contract community also want to see the standards for these resources raised. We want a fair playing field, and as with agency personnel SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY! So you cannot blame the contracting community for the people who hire them allowing those types of resources on the line. NWSA is working hard to promote professionalism within the contract community, and encouraging the agencies to promote the same through best value contracting so that we are all safe out there! It is not us vs you, it is us versus that monster we call FIRE!

We mourn your losses just as you mourn ours, and our main goal is to Preserve and Protect life and our environment!!! I really hate to see this "ours is better than yours" attitude begin again this year, Inter and Intra lata Crew Cohesiveness is a huge factor in fire safety on the line, and we should all be concerned about that!

I hope this will be the year we will all work towards creating a cohesive attitude on the line for the benefit of the lives and environment we both strive to protect. Just as raising a child "takes" a village so does smothering that monster out there.

Deborah Miley
Independent Consultant to NWSA

Well said, Debbie. Thanks for the professional private sector perspective. Thank you all for NWSA. Ab.

7/5 Washington Fires:

I have never seen so many fires started from lightning in the last 10
years living here in Okanogan. We have had over 57 starts in 24 hours off
the reservation and around 12 starts last night on the Colville
Reservation. We are still getting new starts off the lightning storm this
morning. Lots of these fires have nobody on them yet. The big one I think
named Spur Fire(#213) is about 25 miles from me and a few miles outside
of Winthrop, WA. We were having gusts of up to 29 MPH last night which
was not helping. Little rain in some areas dry temps in the 90s also.

This could turn into a big mess today and resources were pretty much used
up yesterday. Contract Crews, Engines and Tenders going out and I probably
will be called myself since we don't have enough local USFS and DNR
people to stop them.

Region 6 Tender

Be safe. Ab.

7/5 I know there are not many Law Enforcement people that may read "They Said", but there are a few of us that work Interstate and Highway fires. Consider the following 14 minute "Move Over Video" food for thought...sometimes them big (red/green/blue/yellow/ white) whatever color trucks also make good targets..

Hickman

Ab note: This 14 minute video is specifically directed toward law enforcement but as Hickman says, it's important for all working along roadways. I've taken the liberty to substitute "wildland firefighter" for "officer" in the following video description. There are some excellent points all should consider:

Your Vest Won’t Stop This Bullet (Move Over Video) tells drivers to pay attention and wildland firefighters to take five precautions when needing to stop along a highway. The first deals with stop location; wildland firefighters should try to avoid stopping at blind curbs, hillcrests, hidden areas or areas with narrow or non-existent shoulders. Secondly wildland firefighters should be aware of surrounding traffic; more often wildland firefighters with more experience and familiarity with the area end up making judgment errors because they are too comfortable in the situation. In addition, wildland firefighters should always find an escape route for the incident. After the incident they should enter traffic safely and, lastly, wildland firefighters should pack (the trunk of) their vehicles in order to avoid explosions caused by fuel tank piercing.

To view the video, go to www.dps.mo.gov/home/dpshome.htm. In the upper left corner click on the "Move over video". (Note that the Netscape browser does not show the Missouri home page in its entirety.) Ab.

7/4 Lots of fires burning in North Central Washington. Oplinger's CIIMT 4  is going to Canada. Check the Hot List Forum. If you haven't already, you need to register. Ab.
7/4 Need help from the collective world group of fire gurus/geeks (smiles) and GIS folks out there -

Crazy question but do you guys know of a database of information on elevation in the U.S. by longitude/latitude? I found something by the U.S. Geological Survey called the National Elevation Dataset but I can't say I understand their terminology nor can I find out what sort of format this data is stored in. http://ned.usgs.gov// - Is what I found. I need this information for a college project my brother is currently working on - thanks in advance for any information provided!

Please feel free to email me via Ab.

nhallisey

7/4 Wildweb:

Looks like the Mendocino isn't posting anymore. I looked on the main
Wildweb page and they aren't there anymore.

KM

This is the last link we had: http://63.196.254.151/WildWeb/WCMNF.htm No action since June... Ab.

7/4 Aberdeen,

For the 2005 fire season, the Forest Service in Montana had 1092 Forestry
Technicians employed. For CY 2005, 360 Forestry Technicians quit. (small
pdf files)


That is a 33% attrition rate.

It is not just a Southern California thing.

NorCal Tom
7/4 Passing this on. (from N/W Alberta, Canada)

Helicopter crashes near Grande Prairie
www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2006/07/04/chopper-crash.html

SmokeDawg

7/4 Hope this helps (the prior question on National Preparedness Levels),

What are National Preparedness Levels?
 

The National Multi-Agency Coordination Group (MAC) establishes Preparedness
Levels throughout the calendar year to help assure that firefighting resources
are ready to respond to new incidents. Preparedness Levels are dictated by
burning conditions, fire activity, and especially resource availability.

The five Preparedness Levels range from I to V, with V being the highest level.
Each Preparedness Level has specific management directions. As the Preparedness
Levels rise, more federal and state employees become available for fire
mobilization if needed.

Preparedness Level I – No large fire activity is occurring. Most geographic
areas are experiencing low to moderate fire danger. There is little or no
commitment of national resources.

Preparedness Level II – One region of the country is experiencing high fire
danger. Wildland fire activity is occurring, and there is a potential for
escapes to larger fires.

Preparedness Level III – Two or more regions of the country are experiencing
wildland or prescribed fire activities requiring a major commitment of national
resources. Additional resources are being ordered through the National
Interagency Coordination Center. Incident Management Teams are committed in two
or more regions, or 275 crews are committed nationally.

Preparedness Level IV – Two or more regions of the country are experiencing
incidents requiring Type I Teams. Competition exists for resources between
Geographic Areas. Or when 425 crews or five Type I Teams area committed
nationally. Some firefighting resources may be pre-positioned to respond to
predicted incidents and liaisons are established with the military and Canadian
resources.

Preparedness Level V – Several Geographic Areas are experiencing major incidents
which have the potential to exhaust all agency fire resources. When 550 crews
are committed nationally. Canadian Liaison and a coordinator for military
mobilization are asked to participate in national planning.

NOPS

7/4 Once again we're back to the contractor bashing. Here's a few facts. . . #1 in the history of contract firefighting contractors have had one deployment, and zero fatalities on the fireline. Contractors are an integral part of the wildland firefighting "culture" and are made up of in many cases of retired or redirected federal and state personnel. I personally have friends whom started out on state and federal crews only to join the contract industry later. We are all firefighters and I for one am tired of all internal bashing we do to one another. We wouldn't accept this from an author so why do we accept it from one another?

sign me,

just putting in my 2 cents worth
7/4 Great Basin Shelter Deployment Rumor

Haven't heard of any shelter deployment in Utah, but there was a fire shelter deployed by a CDF engine crew on the Balls Canyon Fire near Reno, NV early last week. Not a rumor- fact.

No injuries, sounds like it was precautionary- heard on a conference call that the engine became stuck/disabled, the crew entered the cab, one person popped a shelter as a precaution, and aircraft protected the engine from impingement, with no damage to the engine either. Sounds like the crew and overhead handled the situation correctly when it counted.

I also have not seen anything in writing through official channels, but it was mentioned on the same conference call that the investigation would be conducted under a format known as "peer review". I'm a Fed (Non- FS), and have never heard of this process.

I also agree that something official needs to be published, and soon, for learning purposes. I hope "peer review" isn't a veiled term for "we'll take a look at ourselves and write a report about ourselves", but I think it has more to do with the interagency review process (CDF in Nevada on a FS fire- you can imagine the politics, legal issues, etc.).

Regardless of the circumstances, injuries, equipment damage, or process, something led up to this, and I feel that the Agencies aren't doing their firefighters any favors by not telling us how to avoid a similar situation.

My two cents.
Sign me- Tired already in GB.

7/4 Dear "Long-Time FWFSA Member"

The FWFSA hasn't offered a formal/official position on 401 but candidly/unofficially, whatever you want to call it, I don't believe a wildland firefighter, regardless of rank, needs to be an "ologist."

Personally, I think the 401 was an Agency "knee-jerk" reaction to fatal fires so that it could show the Government that they are making their firefighters more professional which, apparently in their minds would reduce fatal fires and the scrutiny given the Agency. It is another program for the sake of having another program.

However ignoring years and years of experience & expertise on the fire ground in favor of classroom "ologist" training doesn't make sense to me. We have made it very clear to Congress that 401 is not the answer, nor is trying to fit federal wildland firefighters into the 0081 classification.

With all due respect, if you've got a crown fire racing above you devouring several acres a minute with periodic microbursts, I don't care what kind of "ologist" you are, it won't help you. The only thing that will help you is experience, expertise and instinct.

You can doctrine the world to death. I don't know too many wildland firefighters that have read the doctrine that don't look up, scratch their head and say "huh?" You can have certificate after certificate hanging in your office...until you cut the line, scramble to safety, effectively manage a fire incident etc., no certificate or "ologist" title will be of much value.

So, from a personal standpoint, if the "ologists" want to continue to respond to fires for whatever reason as the "Militia", the Agency needs to give them an incentive. Perhaps provide the "ologists" with a secondary classification of wildland firefighter so that they can perhaps be entitled to the special retirement provisions for federal firefighters..oh yea, and properly compensate them when on 24+ assignments (portal to portal).

For firefighters currently entitled to special retirement provisions, create a separate and distinct wildland firefighter classification which more accurately reflects the "all-risk" nature of the job now, not what it was 30 years ago. If wildland firefighters want to become an "ologist" then great. Provide an extra incentive for doing so but don't mandate it.

Yes, all this takes money. Problem is as we now know it, the Agencies get more than enough money...they just spend it in a nutty way.

To "D":

There has been talk for decades about the development of a separate and distinct federal wildland fire service. There has even been a GAO report some years back but from reading it, it appears those preparing the report didn't have the benefit of hearing from folks in the field. Now with the FWFSA & other organizations/forums allowing for those voices to be heard, things might be different.

Let's not kid ourselves. This would be a very political issue dealing with a great deal of money and who controls it. The Forest Service may think of fire management as a ball & chain but it also sees it as a cash cow to fund other projects.

With the history during WWII of fuel laden balloons being sent over the Pacific Northwest to start wildfires and the increasing concern over "pyro-terrorism" maybe the function should be given to Homeland security. At least that Agency might have more money to waste!

The problem is that all these government agencies are incredibly bureaucratic and very poor fiscal managers. Maybe trying to identify the lesser of the evils will be difficult. The idea is "on the FWFSA burner" but we have to take what congress gives us. There is no way to get everything we want all at one time...we have to take baby-steps all the while making steady progress which I think we are doing.

Have a safe Holiday to all.

Casey
7/4 I first want to start off by saying the first 3 lines of your post where great.  Now on the Contractor part. Here I go.

You know some of the contract engines have ex fed employees. I happen to be one. Second I didn't know there was a fed fire culture. We are there to do the same as you are get the fire out so we can go home. I have been doin fire for the last 12 years. I see good bad and ugly crews, but I say nothing not my place. I have seen fed and gov crews that are bad do I say anything NO. Why cause if you start saying things they get all moody and don't do a good job.

Sign me Contractor ENGB

7/4 Have a Happy Fourth down there folks! Hopefully most of you are
getting a break and are able to spend some time with your families.

SmokeDawg (.ca)
7/4 Cache Queen,

I also heard the rumor of a Great Basin shelter deployment last week. I can’t believe that anyone could be naive enough to think that you could keep something like a shelter deployment secret in the internet age. Doesn’t fit with Doctrine either, can’t learn the lessons if you don’t know what happened in the first place.

Zinn,

Rumors and speculation are exactly what you get when you don’t share information on these “minor” deployments/entrapments. 24 and 72 hour reports help keep the speculation to a minimum.

Contractors have their place too,

In your 7/2 post you said:

“Oregon has used contractors for over 20 years as an integral part of their over-all fire fighting forces and it has been quite effective.”

Not sure what “it” means in the context of your post but if you define “it” as shoveling barrelfuls of money to people who may or may not be capable of providing the service for which they are being paid, people who are paid much more than it would cost for equivalent fed resources of type, people who frequently field crews carrying illegal aliens and/or personnel with falsified training/pack test records, then I guess I would agree ”it” has been quite effective.

But if you define “it” as a fireline supervisor being able to consistently trust that the contract engines/crews dispatched to your fires are well-trained, well-led, motivated, experienced in wildland fire, physically fit, and communicate well in English, then I would suggest “it” has not been very effective at all.

And if you factor in that increasing reliance on contract crews and engines has permitted senior federal managers (not leaders) to eliminate fed firefighter jobs and turn a once mighty firefighting organization into a hollow shell of its former self, I would say “it” has been a dismal failure.

Contractors, before you tee off, first let me state my disclaimer, which is that there are some fine individuals and decent crews out there in the contracting biz. Unfortunately, years of dealing with some of the less scrupulous contractors in your community have left me, and many other fed fire supervisors, with low expectations from contract resources. The FS has always gotten better bang for the buck with AD fallers and catskinners, I don’t look at them in the same light as contract crews/engines.

For some reason, it seems to have become PC to say that contract firefighters are here to stay in large numbers and nothing can change that. Why? Because people with an ideological predisposition for smaller government want it that way? While claiming to save money by shrinking the size of government, these same politicians don’t mind forking over obscene amounts of money to someone just as long as they don’t work for the government. There are too many recent examples of this; billions of wasted taxpayer dollars handed over to contractors in Iraq and New Orleans. I see no virtue in that style of wasteful management.

As an aside, there was a great documentary on Frontline recently about problems with contract security forces working side-by-side with our military forces in Iraq. I was surprised how many similar cultural issues there were to our present wildland fed/contractor situation.

One topic that seems to be nearly absent in the recent discussion of R5 woes and staffing reductions is the cultural damage presently being inflicted on our agency’s federal wildland firefighters. If safety is indeed a by-product of a healthy culture, as many organizational experts believe, then you can only speculate what forms our cultural downgrade might take. Unfortunately, people will have to die to confirm this.

I don’t have anything against contractors as individuals but the biggest problem with having large numbers of them on the firelines is that they are not part of our fed wildland fire culture. Their short-term and long-term motivation is different, their training and qualifications will always be suspect to us, and federal wildland fire supervisors will always view them as being of something other than our culture.

I still remember a time when contractors were barely on our radar, when our fed hotshot crews, BD crews, type 2 district crews and engine crews were amazingly safe, efficient and cost effective firefighting resources. It was our culture that was the core of our strength. I would like to see us return to that level of staffing once again. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point where Doctrine can work unless we do so.

Wait, I’m having a Dr. Seuss moment…

It just occurred to me that maybe Smokey Bear should retire his sorry old beat up singed carcass to the retirement den and let our version of the Lorax be the new USFS mascot. Who speaks for Piss Fir Willie, the endangered Forest Service grunt and foundation of a once magnificent fire management organization; “the best in the world”, according to some? Can Willie survive the Wildland Fire Leadership Council’s diabolical manipulations? Tune in next week!

Misery Whip
7/3 Yes, there was a shelter deployment in Utah on June, 30th. No injuries - it was on the Scorpio Fire (Salt Lake BLM) during initial attack. Contributing factors were both light, flashy fuels & down-drafts from a thunder cell moving overhead. If these things don't ring a bell, check page 4 in your IRPG...

Cache Queen is right, folks working the fire season should be told about these things - as soon as they are substantiated - if only for the sole reason that it might give cause for firefighters to reconsider safety and conditions. All other speculation (and resulting gossip) should be kept at a minimum until the facts are revealed (in my opinion).

Please be safe out there.

- Zinn
7/3 NICC is operating at preparedness level (PL) 3+. Has anyone seen what the heck 3+ means? It is not addressed in any of the operating plans.  I was speaking with a Geographic Area Coordinator the other day who said we should have been in PL4 last week.  Must be some politics involved.

SUMMARY OF FIRE ACTIVITY ACROSS THE UNITED STATES

Fire Activity

Yesterday

Year-to-Date

2000 Fire Season

10 Year Average

Number of Fires

321

57,949

49,656

41,676

Acres Burned

34,768

3,821,505

1,904,709

1,661,564

RESOURCES COMMITTED

Crews
(20 persons)

Engines
(5 persons)

Helicopters
(7 persons)

Air Tankers
(2 persons)

Overhead

Total Personnel

316

591

89

17

1,811

11,743


Rogue Rivers
7/3 "Federal Wildland Fire Service"

Is someone actually working towards the future? Not just talking about how it "should" be?
In my experience once you name something, it has much more potential of actually happening. If congress does force OPM to separately list firefighters from the 0455,0462, and the 0401 series', isn't the next step separating us from the parent agencies? I hope so, many, many years of watching congressionally allocated money being siphoned off for non fire/fuels needs makes me think that is the only way to go. Not even touching on non fire personnel being responsible for fire programs and the safety issues that causes. 

KD

7/3 Re: Classification

Thanks Casey for all your hard work. Question though, what effect will this have on the 401 "General Biologist" implementation.

Long time member FWFSA

7/3 AW

I started on a Green Hornet 2X4 and then we were issued
a Mormon Harrington cabover 4X4. They both had a Wisconson
air cooled pump engine on a 4 stage centrifugal pump.
This photo was taken at the old FS station on San Marcos
Pass, on the LP on June 22, 1953.

Good ole days,
Doug Campbell

Reduced size pic of Doug and "tanker" when he was a kid. AW, feel free to email him at his website. Link on the Classifieds page. Ab.

7/3 Lobotomy, Mellie,

You are on target with your thoughts of cooperation to reduce redundancies.
Take a look at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center as an example. State
of MN along with FS, F&WS, NPS, BIA, DEM (Dept. Emergency Mgt) have
co-located their "cache" and work together on all risk incidents. Too much
to go into detail here, but they found that costs went down, and responses
are more efficient.

Old Fire Guy

7/3 I'm looking for information on old USFS fire apparatus, specifically the late 40's Marmon Harringtons and Green Hornets. I'm interested in the pump capacity, tank size, pump drive (aux motor, PTO etc) and what truck chassis they were built on (were they all Fords?). Were these a Region 5 only thing? also did they ever have an actual model number?

My understanding is both of these were basically the same except the Green Hornets were 2 wheel drive and the Marmon Harringtons were 4x4.

I was hoping there might be some out there in theysaid world that had actually worked on one of these engines,

Thanks

AW
7/3 Hi there,

Let me introduce myself, I am Bert de Jong an (ex) P-3 Instructor Flight Engineer (6.500 hrs) from the Netherlands and I’ve run in to your fabulous site with very imposing pictures and stories. The P3-FE community has a site called Centerseat where all P3-FE’s write their exceptional stories but I think your experiences will beat them all. My request is . . will you please enter the site and join the Centerseat with your findings on the operation of the P3 in your environment and operation?

We, the P3 community will be grateful to exchange experiences. The URL for the site is http://www.centerseat.net/forums/index.php where you have to sign in. Please do so, you will add and gather knowledge on P3 operations.

Regards, Bert de Jong

Bert, you should also email someone at the AirTanker Pilots Board and ask if you can be included in their forum. Ab.

7/3 Noname,

You bring up some interesting points regarding county or state fire departments taking over suppression responsibilities for federal lands in Southern California.

In regards to the Angeles NF, Los Angeles County Fire Department does not staff any type 3 fire engines and would not be able to provide the level of protection that the federal agency currently provides. In fact, when LACO needs type 3 engines, the Angeles, Los Padres, and San Bernardino National Forests are some of the first resources called upon for support.

On the San Bernardino NF, the forest has more type 3 engines and aircraft than the surrounding San Bernardino Unit of CDF.

In either case, the costs of contracting these forests would be excessive.

Mellie,

In regards to redundancy, you are partially correct. There exists a redundancy between the federal agencies, not with the local and state cooperators. Each agency has a different mission and goals, and work well together providing a synergistic effect on wildland fire suppression.

Having adjacent national forests, BLM districts, FWS refuges, and national parks and monuments creates this duplication of effort. This is where redundancies should be addressed first.

Lobotomy
7/3 Intothewind,

I do agree, in time as communities do the right things to protect themselves, we will be able to let back country fires burn more freely. But I think it will take alot longer than 2020 for that to happen. I think Smokejumpers' jobs will be safe beyond then. As you may or may not know, smokejumpers are not limited to back country fires. That has been the traditional role and the bread and butter of the program for years. But the the jumper program has been evolving beyond those traditional roles the last several years. Here's a few ways:

1. The key to aggressive IA in any venue is getting firefighters to the scene quickly. The jumpers' high speed aircraft plays right into that concept. Depending on the type and number of aircraft, an emerging fire could get 8 to 40 or more smokejumpers converging from different bases in a fairly short period of time. It's an idea that all fire going personnel need to realize. Jumpers can be used in almost any fire situation in which many firefighters are needed quickly whether it's near roads or not. The aircraft is the transportation, one of the same reason we use helicopters, but the fixed wings are faster.

2. The jumpers are cultivating ICT3s, a role which many people do NOT want to fill due to all the possible legal ramifications. Jumpers can, will be and are dispatched to fires to set up the framework for an Type 3 organization. They are willing to step up leadershipwise to fill that role.

3. Jumpers are aggressively getting involved in Wild Fire Use. Fast deployment to these fires can help managers get initial information to help them make timely decisions on how to proceed. And because of the payloads of their aircraft, they can be given enough supplies to be self sufficient for a long time.

These are just a few ways the jumpers are evolving. As you can tell, I am a smokejumper (for the last 28 years) and this probably sounds like a sales pitch but I do think it's important for everyone out there to understand the capabilities of ALL their tools they have available to them. I wish I had a dime for every time someone said to me, " I didn't know you guys could do that".

Just remember, the plane and parachute are just the way we get to the fire. Everyone has to get there somehow. Engine, crew buggy, helicopter, etc. Once we are all there, we are all firefighters working together.

SMKJ79

7/3 Remember, so we don't forget the lessons learned:

12 years ago, On July 3, 1994, the Bureau of Land Management received a report of a fire near the base of Storm King Mountain in the South Canyon, near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Over the next several days the South Canyon Fire increased in size and the BLM/Forest Service dispatched hotshot crews, smokejumpers, and helicopters to contain the fire - with very little luck.

On the afternoon of July 6, the South Canyon fire spotted back across the drainage and beneath the firefighters, moving onto steep slopes and into dense, highly flammable Gambel oak. Within seconds, a wall of flame raced up the hill toward the firefighters on the west flank fireline.

Failing to outrun the flames, 12 firefighters perished. Two helitack crew members on top of the ridge also died when they tried to outrun the fire to the northwest. The remaining 35 firefighters survived by escaping out the east drainage or by seeking a safety area and deploying their fire shelters.

More information can be found at:
www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/South%20Canyon_Fire_Investigation_Executive_Summary.pdf (pdf file)
or
www.coloradofirecamp.com/south-canyon-fire/pdf-links.htm

--
Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire
7/3 Outsourcing USFS wildfire operations for the Southern Cal forests - hum, an interesting concept, given all the dialogue about pay inequities and the inability of the USFS units down there to retain qualified fire personnel.

But rather than getting into a subjective verbal/email "pi**ing contest about "my Dodge is better than your Ford, which is better than her Chevy", it seems that a solid economic analysis would be a good starting point: how much appropriated USFS $$ goes to each of the 4 southern forests for their fire program (total $$, not just those that reach the groundpounders); how many acres are being protected; number of fires, acres, etc.

Then, some input on what neighboring agencies (CDF, LA County, Orange County, etc) would charge the Feds for comparable levels of protection.

My old green underwear starts itching furiously when I think about breaking the nearly 100 years of tradition by getting away from a USFS fire presence, but I'm also reminded of the old saying that "if we keep on doing what we've always done, we'll always get what we've always gotten". As a taxpayer, I believe it's time for the question to be asked, and looked at with complete objectivity.

There was an earlier reference that alluded that if SoCal wasn't under USFS fire, the same would occur in Albuquerque, Flagstaff and Missoula: seems unlikely, since there are not other large agencies that have large programs, people/equipment and pay mega-bucks to steal away USFS fire folks in any of those areas. A fire job with the USFS in my area is still a highly desired position that pays way better than the "competition".

The rest of the USFS is already looking hard, and implementing, contracts for lots of their land management activities; fire management, with it's big bucks and high visibility, cannot avoid the spotlight forever.

Aberdeen

7/3 Cache Queen,

I haven't heard of any shelter deployments in Utah. I did hear about a possible
non-injury shelter deployment on the Vegas fire in Nevada. It was mentioned
on a conference call but I can't find anything else out about it.

Gizmo
7/3 C'Mon Already

Geez folks:

It's the 4th of July and we're back at it with the greens vs blues vs reds etc.

To those in the CDF & Municipal departments...you and your unions have the luxury of negotiating lucrative contracts with management. Feds don't. We have to change the federal law...and that literally takes an act of Congress.

I can't blame any federal firefighter who "jumps ship" for better pay & benefits. I've had the honor of being on the California Professional Firefighters (CPF) Executive Board and as the representative of federal firefighters in California, was always somewhat frustrated that we did not enjoy the same negotiating parameters the state & municipal firefighters enjoy.

However I have found my spot...working for federal wildland firefighters as the most rewarding, frustrating, honorable job I have ever held. Our federal wildland firefighters have been abused and treated like 2nd class citizens by the Agencies of the Federal Government for far too long. If you, as federal wildland firefighters want or need to make the jump, go ahead. But I am damned determined with the rest of the FWFSA to make the federal wildland fire service THE place to work and make a career.

Many of our accomplishments & successes will come too late for those who have steadfastly remained in green throughout their careers and will leave the service soon. But when I see buggy after buggy of hotshots and hear from our members across the country I know that they are worth fighting for.

As far as flatlanders vs wildland folks...I spent 24 years as a structural firefighter, finishing up as an Asst. Chief. On several occasions I had the "furtune??!" of taking an engineto a wildfire up I-80 or up along 50. That &$%# IS work. I'd much rather be in the middle of a fully charged warehouse of deathly chemicals than do what our federal wildland firefighters do day in and day out.

No one firefighter is better than the other. But my hat tips to the wildland folks not only for what they go through on the fire line but what they have to endure from their employers...

Now...play nicely and have a safe and happy fourth...whether you're racing down Santa Monica Freeway in a red truck or winding your way up to Lake Arrowhead in a green buggy...

CAsey

7/3 Old timer,

Seems like maybe you haven't been keeping up with the times. Yellow Angel said it well, stating that your brush was awful broad. I work in a joint CDF / USFS facility and share many of the same experiences and stories with my green brothers. Team Green has some outstanding individuals, and some that aren't, just like mine and every other organization in the world. The "tastes great, less filling" argument went out long ago. This forum should be used for intelligent discussion on "actual" issues and get rid of the 3rd grade my Dad can beat up your Dad bs.

Fireout

7/2 Old timer,

I've got to laugh to myself about your comments, that broad stroke pen must be very very old. Times have changed. Many of the Fed employees are jumping ship to these Counties and we are proud to hire them because of their experience, knowledge, strong work ethic and desire to pull hose or cut line. I used to be one of those Captains on a green engine eons ago. Our crews are comprised of seasoned veterans with Hot Shot, Helitack and Engine experience.

Take a look at the make up of the Fed Type 1 & Type 2 Teams in Region 5.

Good thing that broad stroke pen had red paint otherwise I might have taken it personally.

Yellow Angel
7/2 RR- Thanks for the e-288. You've made my summer a lot easier! WS
7/2 RE: Centralized Fire Organization (aka stovepiped)

I worked on a forest that went to a centralized fire organization from the traditional organization. In all respects the centralized organization was much better for the fire organization on the forest. Two key items to remember regarding a centralized forest fire organization:

1. The Forest FMO still worked for the forest supervisor instead of the Regional Director of Fire and Aviation. The Regional Director of Fire and Aviation still worked for the regional forester. So if one wants to do it right... centralization needs to be accomplished all the way to the national office... hmmm... even then the National Director of Fire and Aviation Mgt would work for a political appointee......

2. A centralized organization takes strong leadership... on the forest I worked on the strong ones retired, weak ones were brought into the forest fire and aviation mgt positions and the centralized organization was disbanded and returned to the traditional organization within a year.

The forest fire organization is much worse of now under the traditional organization than the centralized one... all about money.......

yactak
7/2 Ab,

I think intothewind was hinting at an important issue that must ultimately be addressed in California. That issue is redundancy. We have Fed, State and County fire depts with resource redundancies and each with their own bureaucracies and additional responsibilities. If I recall correctly, the combined budgets for Fed, State and county fire is around 2 billion dollars, and that may be only for SoCal. It just seems that from a business perspective we should be able to streamline these redundant fire organizations somehow, especially in SoCal. Of course you've got to also think about power and control... and politics...

Just thinking out loud...

Mellie

7/2 Oldtimer, please no red engine bashing again!

We contract counties, unlike the green machine, have multiple risk missions 24-7, and therefore multiple personalities in our people. Sure, our flat landers are occasionally pulled up the hill to fight a big one. And occasionally some of what you say is true when applied to folks who don't like wildland fire.... much can be said the same of federal managers who don't like fire particularly either. But it doesn't apply to all of us! There are a lot of folks in all of the contract counties that love wildland fire and do an outstanding job, some are among the best wildland fire fighters I know. And, FYI, I have spent my time in my whites on the ground myself, and I know for a fact your characterizations don't fit. So time to quit poisoning the well, we all need each other. With the fed cutbacks in particular, they can't pull off the IA in my backyard forests like they used to, and I know we depend on our Forest Service partners to pull off the mission as well. Let's face it, were in this together....and were a lot more alike than we ever were different. Please pick your fights elsewhere.

Contract County Guy

7/2 Lobotomy,

Your remarks about urban interface make me think about all of the housing developments going up in the forests all over the western mountains. In our area we have a couple areas where it is unspoken to NEVER go into those developed areas in a fire.

In a recent trip to the Kalispell area there were some places I could not put myself or any firefighter that I know in there because it is not defendable. There was only one home that I saw that was defendable; no surprise, it belongs to a volunteer firefighter. From what I was told he has tried to make his neighbors see the advantage of keeping the fuels down around their homes, but you can tell that they are not listening.

No surprise here, but there are small fires starting around MT. Wait a couple days and be ready. It is hot and dry and all that early rain brought out the fine fuels. Be ready.

Cris

7/2 Shelter Deployment?

Anyone heard anything about a shelter deployment on one of the fires in Utah. I may have just awakened from my retirement nap, but thought that even though the facts are not out....the WORD should be as a safety precaution. The light fuels in the Great Basin are extremely thick this year, and this should be at least recognized, but from what I hear, the crews on the fire were told to keep their traps shut. Bunch of baloney from my standpoint as a Monday a.m. quarterback -- sounds like management trying to cover their you know whats. Seriously, though, does anyone know -- has the policy changed on reporting such incidents, or are we taking a secret approach to safety now days?

Cache Queen

7/2 Intothewind

Your comments on So Cal Urban Interface are interesting. I spent many many years in So Cal before I retired last year. If you honestly think that CDF or Counties can handle the Urban Interface problem better, I want some of what you're smoking.

I will take some heat for what I have to say but here goes:

Most all Counties including the biggest Co. Fire department crews rarely get off the rig and fight fire unless two things happen

  1. its flat ground and they can drag their reel or jump line to it,
  2. a rarer chief tells them to get off and go to work, the crews are inmates and have worked hard to earn the title orange sleeping bags.

CDF is much the same and their folks today are too busy trying to be like the Municipal fire departments. If you think they will staff stations at places like Apache Saddle, Fig, Chilao, Monte Cristo, BDF Big Pine, San Juan or Oak Grove then you're dead wrong. That first does not even consider cost for the contract because they aint cheep, and they are damned expensive when the fire escapes. Besides the FS has been doing a good job fighting interface fires in So Cal for over 50 years. When the chips are really down, the green engines can be counted on for being there out in the pucker brush fightin fire while the red ones are grandstanding for the media, staged or just pulling out.

Believe Lobotomy said it right: with knowledge training and experience the feds can do quite well especially if the budget wizards pay attention to the overall big picture and spend some now and save alot more in the future.

FS is in a down staffing cycle which happens ever 20-25 years due to big buildups and then retirements. There is alot of young talent out there. They just need some time. The present training Quals and certs process has that all screwed up because the talented ones are held back because of the mediocre ones.

Old timer

7/2 Intothewind,

You stated "There is no apparent reason that I know of to have a
stovepiped organization." Maybe you just don't know or see it the way
others do. I would rather see a stovepiped organization than what we have
now. The non support of fire management by the agency and some of its line
officers is more than disgraceful, it is wrong. They preach a big safety
line but do not back it up with support. It is obvious to me the agency
just doesn't care. Rather than a stovepiped or central fire organization,
I'd like to see a federal wildland fire department that is separate from
the forest service, only because the forest service has demonstrated that
it no longer chooses to provide the required support for fire management
organizations and programs and forest service firefighters. A department
that is lead by experienced and knowledgeable wildland fire management
personnel who have the ability to lead organizations.

Bump Pulaski
7/2 Intothewind:

Contractors may not be the answer but they certainly are a "piece of the puzzle". Many contractors are excellent fire fighters, who live in "fire country" and have a keen interest in suppressing fires that are affecting their families and communities. Many of those same contractors work in the timber industry during the rest of the year and to see their lively-hood go up in smoke is counterproductive to providing a living for they and their families.

Oregon has used contractors for over 20 years as an integral part of their over-all fire fighting forces and it has been quite effective.

The contracts (PNW Interagency Crew and Engine/Water Tender) have come a long way since 1990 and so have many of the crews. Yes, there are still crews who aren't the best but there are also many crews who are very good and take a great deal of pride in what they do as a part of the fire fighting community.

Sign me,

Contractors have their place too

Hear hear. Ab.

7/2 Yollabolle WFU complex:

For those that have access to FS network, photos and updated maps are
posted daily at:

ftp://r5fs09n.fire.r5.fs.fed.us/fmp/WFU/2006%20Fire%20Use/MNF/YollaBolly_Complex/

TC

7/2 I really don't believe the word abandon is appropriate and certainly not what the point of may discussion was based. What is generally missing from those areas that you mentioned is a large enough state wildland fire suppression organization. That is not a knock on those states programs, they just do not match the CDF model. I understood that at one time the USFS preparedness budget for the Angeles was equal to the USFS R1 budget. So as I have heard over and over retention is difficult in the USFS in SoCal, why not give all of the funding for the Cleveland and Angeles NF to the Counties and CDF. They can hire their own firefighters and pay them a living wage for SoCal. The objective would be the same protect life, property and natural resources, in that order. Remember the USFS has pool taps that will always make its hard to compete, can you say Black hole, I mean ASC.

In most areas there is the need to maintain federal wildland firefighters, doing exactly what has been done for years, protecting communities and natural resources. Remember what I signed off with Work hard, work together, work smart. I probably got it backwards, work smart, work together, work hard in that order. Just throwing out some ideas how to accomplish those goals.

Noname

7/1 Intothewind,

You said, ".well the USFS needs to pay the counties and CDF in So Cal for fire protection and get out of the business down there all together (save the IHCs)."

Do you think we should also abandon other WUI areas such as Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Boise, Missoula, Carson City, etc.?

Instead of running away from the problems associated with the wildland urban interface, why not learn to deal with and manage it through knowledge, training, and experience? Many of the Forests and Dept. of Interior units are successfully managing the wildland urban interface problems, as in SoCal and throughout the Western U.S.

Lobotomy
7/1 Dear Ab, how do I follow my son?

My son just started firefighting out of Boise ID. He was sent out to his
first fire this morning, to Nevada. He told me that I could find out where
he is and how things are going on your website, but did not tell me how.
Can you help?

Thank you
Sonja J

I am also going to post this on familysaid.
First of all, you need to know his crew's name. It would also be good to find out what fire his crew was sent to. First time he calls in, ask him. Then you can look for specific fire information in a number of places. Readers, any other pointers? Ab.

7/1 For Steve M

You will more than likely get a few replies from those whose feathers you have ruffled...so be it.

You are correct however, in your pointing out the very real fact that people in the fire service... no matter the color of their uniform... still have to provide and care for their family. The United States Forest Service does not recognize this fact, as evidenced by their refusal to adequately compensate their fire going personnel at the lower ranks.

While it may seem a bitter pill to swallow, those folks who transition from the Federal Firefighting Force into State and other local governmental agencies will receive a good wage, far better working conditions and at last... a fair and unbiased chance to promote on their individual merits and qualifications. Gook luck to all of them... and for those of you who choose to remain with a Federal Agency that is lying to its employees and turning its' back on its Emergency Responders... well... you're sadly going to need more than luck. Continue to fight the good fight...and take care of one another.

COPTER100

7/1 Anyone have a link to an electronic copy of the OF-288 that I can put on my
thumb drive? I have an interagency FF that I need to complete a time report
for all local fires.

Thanks!

WS

7/1 Re: There were 8, now there are 5

Since the federal agencies (at least I'm assuming you are federal) aren't being too responsive in trying to remedy the long standing recruit/retain problem, maybe you can look for some kind of silver lining in your miserable situation. How about if you compared yourself to a college football coach, there are many similarities. You get to pick yourself a good "team" for a year or two. You spend countless hours training and practicing with them. You get to see them perform against your opponent during the season, and if you're real lucky, once in a while, you even get to take them the "BIG ONE".

But, just like you, the coach never knows for sure who will return the next year or who will turn "pro". The departing players are always grateful for the training and experience. They'd like to stay, but they just can't pass up the opportunity. They'll always remember you and the good times they had, but they really need to think of their families and their future.

Despite the smirks and being considered by many as a "training farm" for the pros, you can take great pride in sending a high ratio of your 2nd and 3rd year players onwards and upwards. You have the satisfaction of knowing you were the one who picked them and provided them the training and experience to advance. And you know you can do the same thing again next year. And the year after that. And again. Forever.

Just like the coach, you can keep statistics and records of just how many members you "lost to the pros". You can memorize them and brag over drinks with your peers. You may, at some point become famous and be recognized as the one having lost the most employees to the pros. Think about it. You walk into a district office somewhere and folks begin staring and whispering amongst themselves. You overhear one person say, "That's him. I heard he lost over 342 high quality firefighters to the pros". And you hold your head high, cause you know the pros only take the best of the best. And you helped get them there.

SteveM
7/1 Mollysboy-

I am very familiar with both the dispatch procedure and the demob procedure, and planning levels.

Actually, the UTF list, as an example, for EACC (farthest from the 'action'), is comprised of orders placed with EACC from NICC. Those that cannot be filled by EACC and are returned to NICC to be shopped elsewhere. That particular UTF list is not exclusive to the GACC's orders placed within the GACC.

Further, looking at EACC's UTF list today, 97 orders received from NICC, everything from ASGS to SCKN, of those 81 were returned to NICC. Again, EACC is at the 'end of the line' when 'closest forces' principals apply.

The situation I mentioned, names of those individuals requesting another assignment were forwarded to the GACC, each had several qualifications, and 'played well with others'. The home GACC was baffled as they were receiving orders for those qualifications and turning them back, yet a person sitting within a day's driving distance of another assignment was sent home.

Common sense has disappeared with the stroke of a key.

Firefox

7/1 There were 8, now there are 5.

If you're talking about an engine I'm looking to get on one for the USFS, and I have applied for an engine position on Avue. As of right now, I'm on a type 2 hand crew for the San Bernardino National Forest, looking to advance more in the USFS.

PT

7/1 whoa,

Its not bad when you have one person leave for better pay and benefits
two weeks ago. Now I was just informed I'll be having two more from
my module leaving for CDF. What's really bad is these folks would love
to have given us a 2 week notice. But they're being forced to show up on
two day notice.  Being told, "show up or will find somebody else."

signed
There were 8, now there are 5.

7/1 Believe it or not we are in an era of change in Fire Management and it is, in the long run, going to work. In the short term, there are going to be snafus. What the hell am I talking about? Mainly the two W's, WUI and WFU. How do those two work together? As communities have increased protection from fuels reduction, it becomes less and less of a risk to allow WFU to occur. The middle ground needs to be taken care of by some timber harvest and landscape burning. And the backcountry can burn as it has since well before humans inhabited the continent (sorry Smoke Jumpers, you will be a casualty of cost cutting by 2020, my prediction, have fun while it lasts).

What other predictions do I have, well the USFS needs to pay the counties and CDF in So Cal for fire protection and get out of the business down there all together (save the IHCs). There is no apparent reason that I know of to have a stove piped fire organization. However, there needs to be a consolidated approach to firefighting for the Federal Agencies and main state players, especially in the west. We all waste too much money duplicating effort and not working together. Case in point, there should be about 4 different models of engines to choose from for all Fed agencies. I know there are a hundred good reasons that everybody needs something special, but we need to save money and buy firefighters. When you get a piece of equipment based on personal preference you are adding to the problem.

I don't believe that contract crews are the answer. I remember around 1990, being a STCR for some contractors, and my buddy who was working with me had a couple of contract crews and his perspective was, "I don't think that hiring someone that its not in their best interest to put the fire out is a good idea". I wasn't sure on that given day; 16 years later I have no doubt that he was correct.

Work hard, work together and work smart.

Intothewind.
7/1 The problem with fire management, is that no one who knows anything about fire is actually in a position to manage it. Maybe its time for the fire program to make a major change like law enforcement did in the FS.

The law enforcement branch was chimney piped after a relatively small incident at the district level. It somehow came to light that several violations were overlooked in a local timber sale, when the LEO on the district started investigating why they had not been reported by the Timber Inspector for that sale, he discovered that the FS employee was also working part time for the contractor hired to do the sale. The LEO reported this information to his direct supervisor, the District Ranger, who decided that the problem would be taken care of in house for fear of looking bad. Eventually, the forest supervisor found out about it, pretty soon the public found out about it, and eventually it made its way up the WO and before you know it it’s an issue before Congress. The issue was that here we had law enforcement officers, classified as such, who received specific training, carried weapons, were specialized professionals, being supervised by people who were A: not qualified in the law and B: not in a position to supervise objectively, regarding the law. Law enforcement was an aspect of the forest service that needed to be run independently of politics, PR, and fear of personal reliability over doing what was right. Congress saw that, but it took an incident that made the government look bad for any one to realize it or do anything about it.

Fire Management isn’t just about making sure places don’t, or do, burn. Peoples' lives are at stake, firefighters, home owners, any one who uses public lands. I hope it doesn’t take an incident that makes the FS look bad, that cost people their lives, for them to realize that firefighters should be supervised by actual firefighters. Fire Management needs to implemented by people who know what they're doing, and ultimately know that they are doing the right thing to ensure both proper forest fire management and safety. Whether or not the FS realizes it, or if they do and just don’t care, either way, it doesn’t matter, but the tax paying public expects them to take care of their lives and property when fires start. I hate to wish for bad things to happen, but I really hope the FS gets caught with their pants down this season, so that the public and Congress can see what’s really going on, and that it’s not all about money.

Sign me-

A lurker, just adding my two cents

  ~Archive: June-06
 

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