August, 2006

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8/31 I cannot believe this, my husband is on a hotshot on the Emerald Fire in San Bernardino. He called to tell me the latest plan for them. The fire is lined and out so you would think demob is coming, WRONG! They (Team or Forest) want to keep all 8 IHC's til Tuesday because of the holiday weekend. So let's keep 8 type I IHC's on a dead fire because another fire MIGHT START! Meanwhile, orders come in for IHC's and the answer from South Zone will be None Available. Does this sound insane or is it just me? I wonder what the media would think of this? Here is a list of the crews:

Del Rosa
Vista Grande
Kern Valley
Golden Eagles
Los Pares
Arroyo Grande Helishots

Crazy Hotshot Wife!
8/31 Here's the Balls Canyon Peer Review in html, as an alternative to the large pdf file.

Balls Canyon Review: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2006/balls-canyon/balls-cyn-review.php


8/31 Re: Joe Hill's Post

I think if we were able to ask any fallen firefighter if they considered themselves heroes the answer would be no. They were simply doing their job and got caught in an unfortunate situation. I can for certain say that would have been John's answer. His job was being a firefighter, but it didn't define who he was. He was so much more than that, and that is what made him a hero everyday in our eyes. He was a loving father and husband whose family always came first over everything.

I agree that the word hero is thrown around too much and many times in circumstances that, while tough and hard to deal with, are not extraordinary. My own personal definition of a hero is someone who puts themselves out there every single day to benefit and help others. So, in my eyes, Vicki Minor is a hero. She fights every day to make sure that none of us family members are forgotten or left behind. She works selflessly and tirelessly to ease the minds of firefighters everywhere that if something should happen their families will be taken care of both spiritually and physically.

I've been quiet this past year except for a random post here and there. It's been a hard 2nd year and my heart hasn't been up to doing much, but now is the time to help out this hero. If you haven't joined the 52 Club, do it now. If you have joined, thank you. The membership numbers are up, so let's keep the trend going and help out the families of our fallen.

Lori Greeno
8/31 Joe Hill,

Your original post had me going for a minute this morning, trying
to figure out what kind of a fire tool you were talking about "heroes"
dragging around and stepping on -- before Ab changed it.

I think I need POSH training if that's where you learn this stuff!

But maybe I got that wrong. I think POSH must teach you that you can
look at, notice and even admire anything you want as long as you
keep your lip buttoned about it.

Mellie <cracking up> <rolling on floor>
¡¡only in California!!

8/31 Dozershot,

We posted the British Columbia safety bulletin from July, 2005 that explains why they quit carrying fire shelters up north. www.coloradofirecamp.com/battlement-creek/Fire_Shelters_Canada_072505.pdf (2.2 mb - large)

The whole document is 10 pages long, but I suggest carefully reading page 2. That has the recommendations for BC firefighters on what to do in case they are burned over:

9. How would you best protect yourself in an entrapment situation?
A. To best protect yourself, you would complete the following:

* Shelter yourself in a large area that is light or free from fuels (rocky area, water/wet area, ploughed field, a ‘cool’ burned area, bulldozed clearing, etc.)
* Find a fuel-free depression or trench, preferably behind a rock or dirt pile so to block radiant heat.
* Protect yourself with clothing: sleeves down, collar up, gloves, goggles and hard hat on.
* Lie flat, facedown, parallel to the flame front.
* Keep face down and protect your airways by taking shallow breaths close to the ground.
* Curl arms and hands around head around ears
* Cover yourself with dirt if possible.
* Wet clothing if possible.
* Do not wear synthetic packs or materials.

That advice ignores the lessons of the past. Anthony Czak, Stephen Furey and Scott Nelson gave it a try at Battlement Creek in 1976. 

We included the BC policy in our presentation to the Colorado Fire Training Officers Association. Here's the link to the PowerPoint we made for the anniversary of Battlement Creek. www.coloradofirecamp.com/battlement-creek/Firecamp-CFTOA-presentation.ppt (3.7 mb, large)

Apart from the BC policy, it has 30 years of lessons that were actually learned by Gleason, Campbell, Cohen, Butler, and Putnam.

vfd cap'n
8/31 A friend sent this to me. The section on Peer Review - Intent and Purpose is excellent. Thanks to the Peers who reviewed for such a clear statement! Mellie

The Balls Canyon report is now posted on the Lessons Learned Center Web site. The report itself is large:
(2.2mb, large pdf file)

Link from the home page of the Lessons Learned Center. Bookmark this site. It's excellent: 

Peer Review Report of the Balls Canyon Near Miss June 27, 2006 (2.2 MB PDF posted 083006) This landmark document includes the Peer Review Intent & Purpose, the Incident Story, the Reasons "The Story" unfolded the way it did, and the Lessons Learned Relative to Principle-Based Decision-Making. Lessons derived come from the incident participants as well as the subject matter experts assigned to the peer review team. The emphasis is clearly on organizational learning.

8/31 Hey All -

Many of you may remember Senator (I use that term loosely) Burns' rude and unwelcome comments to the Augusta IHC a month or so ago. Well he is back at it again.....one would think this guy may have learned his lesson but yet again he goes and sticks his foot clearly in his mouth. I hope the voters of Montana are looking at what an a$s this guy is making of their great state and quickly boot his butt out of office come this November. As a former resident of Montana myself - this guy embarrasses me!

For more on Burns go to: 

Senator Burns: Terrorists Drive Taxis By Day and Kill By Night


8/31 Ab,

I just wanted to comment on the use of the term "hero", the current standard for anyone who can avoid stepping on themself while attending to the routine mandates of their lives.

As far as I can tell from a review of current opinion, all of the following are heroes: firefighters, cops, anyone in the armed services (current or past), people who pay their taxes, parents who don't divorce, workers who don't call in sick, anyone who lived in New Orleans around the time of hurricane Katrina, Senators with big yaps who served in the marine corps, Texans, Nebraska football players, etc. The indiscriminant use of the word cheapens the context to the point of irrelevance.

Well sorry, I don't think people who perform the job they were hired to do are heroes, nor are people who meet their obligations, who are honest and responsible, or even those who endure tragedy with dignity. Such attributes merely describe an expression of moral existence.

Don Mackey was a hero. He made a choice on that South Canyon line to either follow the jumpers up the east side to eventual safety, or to chase out that west line and push the Prineville shots to the ridge. He was a good fireman, and he must have known the risks, given the way the fire was boiling out of the canyon.

In one of the statements buried in the accident investigation report, his brother-in-law Kevin Erickson, who was at the "fallen tree" near the ridgetop and safety, describes making eye contact with Don at the back of the line, "drag Mcleod" so no one was left behind. He shouted down to him to "Run!" but Mackey never did and that's where they found him, at the back of the line, where any good crew boss would be.

Joe Hill
8/31 Hello fellow FF's

Just got back from the tripod complex on the Loomis Forest side and let me just say WOW I saw some very interesting fire behavior and tactics. There were about 5 of my 14 days where we were moved to a safe area or Safety Zones due to Fire Behavior the amount of dead spruce is amazing and inter-mixed with lodgepole in the 80-160 years old range spotting was something you could hardly keep up with and the night time thermal belts made the fire very active from 1900-0400, so as you would start day shift there would be new spots or areas that completely burned. On 1 day the Calif. Team made a wise decision and pulled off the whole branch due to low RH's 8-10% and Very active crown runs that ran several miles. As I left Tuesday morning the objectives changed to include keeping the fire south of Canada which I believe was around 15 miles to the north with a continuous fuel bed.

Things that I saw as problem was a lack of overhead and crews, they were being ordered just not getting filled, I must say we did good with what we had and everybody watched out for everybody else. Looking at some post here it is true we had only one agency type 3 engine from R6 but we also had some contractors that were well rounded hard working FF's.

Last but not Least my first day in briefing I had some fella walk up and say "I am with you Mate." I looked at him and realized I was going to get the chance to fight fire with an Aussie, something I will always remember. He was dialed in on weather and maps and a little nervous of the fuel type, sometimes asking very true questions regarding our tactic and strategies from a National standpoint. I am sure the visitors when they leave from Boise (Washington West) will fill in our managers on some ideas/concerns.

Well gotta go get my boat ready for the weekend. P.S. enjoy the pics of the fire running north

Signed: Hit em Hard and Keep em Small!

Pics on Fire 29 photo page. Ab.

8/30 Fire weather Warnings tomorrow and MODIS fire detection:


NOAA Fire detection and smoke. Lots in ID, MT, WA as well as in northern CA.


Click to enlarge.


8/30 Mollysboy -

Re: Canadian firefighters. There was an article floating around this
spring about B.C. firefighters Not using fire shelters anymore. I was
wondering if you saw that, I've been trying to hunt it down.
Also - thought this might interest you and others...

I had the pleasure of working in Canada a couple summers ago and I have
to say that their organization is fantastic, from sector boss to type III
Firefighters. This is a bit lengthy but you all might find their physical
standards impressive. I took the Type I test and it is NOT easy. By the
time you get to the hose drag portion of it, you're pretty darn tired. Of
the thirty people that took it, only three of us passed. I have to add
that the other 27 were not slouches by any means.

*Minimum physical fitness requirements consists of the following
(20 min rest is allowed between phases)

Shuttle Run: Complete a minimum of ninety 66ft runs back and forth, or
1800m in total (5,905ft) at predetermined beeps starting at 8.2 seconds per
run and progressing faster throughout the remainder of the runs. (There
are lines at 0ft. and 66ft. When the beep sounds you run to the line, when
it sounds again you run back to the other line. The beeps get faster and
faster. When you fail to cross a line at the beep you're out. If you
don't complete the 90 sprints, you fail, go home and find another job.)

Upright Row: In a standing position, back against the wall, knees slightly
bent, and hands placed shoulder width apart on the bar, lift a 51lb barbell
to chest height. A metronome will be set at 40 beats per minute or 20
lifts per minute. To pass - 18 repetitions in one minute. (This was the
easiest test folks)

Pump/Hose/Carry/Drag: Must be completed in Under 4 min!
Must wear; hard hat, coveralls and work boots. The time starts when the
pump is placed on the ground. (This is a Mark III - 65lbs) Start by
carrying the pump without stopping, 150 meters out and back (about 500ft).
Then pick up four 100ft lengths of 1.5" hose (rolled) weighing 68lb. Sling
over the shoulders and carry a distance of 300m (about 980ft) out and back
twice. Upon completion of above, pick up a charged length of hose and drag
it 50m (164ft) out and back twice for a total of 200m. Hose lengths must
be pulled over the shoulder with one hand and grasped behind the back with
opposite hand to pass this test. (This is where people dropped like flies,
only 3 minutes and 59 seconds to do all of it, they should add: '/barf' at
the end of the title)

Type I Firefighters - Rappel Have to pass All of the above
Type I Firefighters - Have to pass the pack test (same as ours for
arduous), the Upright Row and the Pump/Hose/Carry/Drag
Type II Contract Firefighters - Have to pass the moderate pack test, the
Upright Row and the Pump/Hose/Carry/Drag
Type III Emergency Firefighters - Have to pass the moderate pack test


8/30 Re Scouting:

It is normal for one of the more experienced people to be "scouting" ahead. They have a radio with them, and usually have a set time, or location, to meet up with the crew or another leader in the crew. They do this to look for hazards, spot fires, and the best place to lay the line.

Most times this is done solo in order to allow the fire fighting/line digging to go as fast as possible.

The why, is safety. There has to be someone who knows where to go, and what is going on around the crew. There are always lookouts, but they can't usually see where the best place to lay in line is. Normally the scout/supervisor is fairly close to the crew. Maybe a little farther than yelling distance, but far enough out that if they run into a cliff, or a swamp, they can re-route the line digging before the crew gets there.

Hope this helps more than confuses :D

8/30 A good write-up from today's Billings Gazette about folks building in Montana's Interface.


Excellent article. Ab.

8/30 Hey There:

Just found out about this page.  I was on the Perkins Inc. Div. D (Los Padres
NF, late June '06)
.  I have been confirmed with valley fever and have started
treatment.  I'm in my second round of testing, when the results come back I
will be able to see if I'm getting better
or worse.

vnc capt'n

Thanks for writing in vnc capt'n. We wish you the best recovery with no long-term effects. This is an important health issue for firefighters, as you well know, and we'd appreciate it if you'd keep us informed.

Readers, skip on down the page to 8/11 or click here for more on Valley Fever. Check also comments from Been There on 8/9 and this website: www.vfce.arizona.edu/  Ab.

8/30 Sandy,

Great to hear the ELDO H.S. folks are doing better. We are all hoping for their speedy recovery and return to firefighting.... They had us all quite scared for awhile. But they had all of us backing them up and praying for their safe recovery.


P.S. - Congrats Sandy on your promotion.... it is so cool to see a leader in the HS community progressing to a position of fire leadership!!!... I mean it very sincerely!!.... My Hotshot roots run deep and I love to see HS leaders stepping up like yourself!!

Everyone... if you can... support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation .... You are supporting yourself, your family, and OUR collaborative family of wildland firefighters. The wildland firefighter family is alive and well.

Like someone said, "Compassion Spreads Like Wildfire".

Keep safe and those around you safe.
8/29 Ab,

Is it common for supervisors or anyone else to be out by himself or herself alone while "scouting out" a fire?

If so, why?

8/29 Here's the 24 hr report for the rural engine dept engine that burned on
the South End Complex near Fields, Oregon. (photo again)

24 Hour Report
2500 Fire – Burns Interagency Fire Zone

At 1250 hours, 23 August 2006, a type 6 engine owned by the
Fields-Andrews Fire Protection Association (FA #4) experienced mechanical failure. This breakdown appeared to be a ruptured fuel line.

Engine FA #4 was the third engine in a routine flanking action, following BLM engine and a contract engine. Fuels were light, flame length and fire movement was moderate.

Engine FA #4 operator stated he was in unburned fuel, with black (no visible flame or ignition source) along the left hand side of the vehicle.

He stated that he smelled plastic or rubber burning, stopped his engine and looked under the vehicle, to see “a dripping fire” centered directly underneath the engine. He immediately took initial action on the fire underneath the vehicle, but had to retreat on foot to the black as the undercarriage became involved. The entire vehicle then caught on fire, and this fire then spread back to the black on the left and unburned fuel to the right and ahead.

Eyewitness was the Incident Commander, who was following FA#4, approximately 20 yards behind. She stated that she saw a “fireball” originate underneath FA #4. She immediately pulled into the black and began to assist. The rapid involvement of the vehicle precluded further suppression action, and both the operator and IC retreated to their safe zone in the black.

Result: Total destruction of Engine ($15,500 estimated)
Make/Model: 1988 Ford 350 Diesel w/ Standard BLM-Type pump
Safety: No injuries due to strict adherence to SOP, prior to, during and post- event, by operator and IC
Probable Cause: Mechanical failure (ruptured fuel line)
Vehicle Ignition Source: Unknown, either mechanical or hidden ember

Michael K. Williams
SOF -2
Burns Interagency Fire Zone

8/29 The Meat,

Someone's interested in your flame photo.
Send me an email. I can't find yours.


8/29 oliver

I was the task force leader type on the blossom complex that Shari is speaking of. I was the first person they confronted, and if I had it my way, they would have gone to jail. They were very hostile and showed a great lack of professionalism. The North West Timber Cutters on the other hand were very professional and very well trained. It would please me to see that group on every fire. It was said you get what you pay for; well, with that group (NWTC) you get a little more.

It has also been my experience that any body with a chainsaw can sign up as an AD if that is what they choose to do.

Just my two cents worth
Shari keep up the good work
8/29 Ab,

This NWCG safety advisory just showed up in my inbox with the following note from Lary Floyd, acting FMO for the Pike/San Isabel NF:

We just passed one month at National Prep lvl 5, and the number of incidents and accidents we've seen reflect that...
This Safety Advisory might make a good foundation for replacing a "Six
minutes for Safety" discussion with a "Sixty minutes for Safety" meeting, or
dare I call it a "time out"...

Well said, Lary.

vfd cap'n

From: NWCG Safety and Health Working Team
Date: August 28, 2006
Subject: Safety Advisory: Burnovers

In recent weeks, wildland firefighters have been involved in burnovers in a variety of fuel types in different geographic areas. These burnovers have resulted in one fatality, several serious burn injuries, and the damage or destruction of firefighting equipment. In some cases, firefighters deployed fire shelters; in others, they did not have time to deploy. It is time for us to take a serious look at the situation in which we find ourselves and ask some questions: why is this occurring, and how can we stop it?

The burnovers experienced in the United States in the past month have occurred in grass, brush and timber fuel types. They have involved different types of firefighters from different agencies with varying levels of experience, including some people who were highly trained and experienced. The following types of resources have recently experienced burnovers:

• Fire Use Module
• Engine crew
• Dozer operator
• Hotshot crew
• Line overhead

In most cases, investigations of burnovers are ongoing. We do not yet know with certainty all of the contributing and causal factors of these accidents. From what we do know, however, some common denominators seem to be emerging. Although all were not present in all cases, they seem to be common to most recent accidents. These include:

• Initial attack or Type 3 fires
• Sudden, unexpected changes in fire behavior, usually caused by wind
• Hottest, driest part of the burning period
• Approaching a fire to engage it for the first time
• Poor communications or confusing instructions
• Lack of situational awareness
• Extreme fire behavior and weather conditions were forecast for the area in which the burnovers occurred

Although conditions commonly contributing to serious accidents are ever-present, if there was ever a time for “heads up” firefighting, that time is now. Firefighters and managers need to remain cognizant of this and devote exhaustive efforts to ensure safety of the public and firefighters. We have been at Preparedness Level 5 nationally since July 28. Resources from all geographic areas and from other countries are engaged in wildland fire suppression across the United States. As the fire season progresses, firefighters are experiencing long-term fatigue, injuries, illness and stress that can seriously interfere with safe and effective firefighting.

Over-aggressiveness in tactics and strategies can lead to tactical failure and injured firefighters; risk aversion can create some of the same hazards. Firefighters, and especially leaders of firefighters, must balance the risk of operations against the potential gain and act accordingly. At all times, entrapment avoidance should be first and foremost in the minds of firefighters:

• Build line from a solid anchor point.
• Practice LCES.
• Expect the worst! Be prepared for weather changes and extreme fire behavior.
• Maintain situational awareness; recognize when you don’t have it and take steps to re-acquire it.
• Don’t engage if you haven’t established communications or if your instructions are unclear.
• Disengage if you lose communications.

Study your Incident Response Pocket Guide. It contains a great deal of information designed to keep firefighters alive. You are responsible for your safety. Don’t become a statistic.

8/29 As the agencies come to the end of the FY year employees will be developing Individual Performance Plans for the upcoming year. Wanted to plug Allan Hancock Community College Wildland Program on-line courses. If employees put down they wish to take these courses, the government should be obligated to pay the cost. We are currently working with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Natural Resource Management to allow students to transfer credits from AHC to Cal Poly. Apprentices already have college Credit from American River College and if the forest has an agreement with a local community college for the related & supplemental training, by taking this 5 on-line courses:
WFT 101 Wildland Fire Behavior [3 units]
WFT 102 Wildland Firefighter Safety & Survival [3 units]
WFT 103 Wildand Fire Operations [3 units]
WFT 104 Wildland Public Information Officer, Prevention & Investigation [3 units]
WFT 105 Wildland Fire Planning, Logistics & Finance [3 units]

They would be able to obtain a Wildland Fire Certificate from the college, employees should be aware that most of the community colleges offer general education courses on-line which they can take to obtain an AS degree from a college. If they agencies support the newer employees, it will help them in the future to obtain qualifications under IFPM.

Website: ahcfire.com

Wes Shook
AHC Wildland Fire Program Manager

PS Here is a link for a course that should qualify for IFPM. December 18 -22, 2006. 5 Units for employees needing to qualify for the 401 series. http://continuing-ed.calpoly.edu/wfsi.phpl

8/29 Eldorado Hotshots update

It has been a while for an update.

Jesse was released as an outpatient last week from the Lion's Burn
Unit at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Excellent news!
He will be getting continued treatment from the burn unit in San
Pablo, Ca, which is close to his home in Livermore. He is doing well
with his recovery and healing.

Jeff continues to improve and at his last appointment in Louisville he was
told he didn't need to return for another 2 weeks. He is building his
endurance by trying to walk as much as he can every day.

Kevin is back to full duty and with the crew. They are currently on
assignment in Wyoming.

The fellas and their families just received some packages from the
Sacramento Kings. A big thank you to Karen Robinson-Salley and the
whole Sacramento Kings organization for their support.

Once again, thanks to Vicki Minor and her staff at the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation for everything they have done. Please visit their
website and check out the membership for the 52 club. They need
our continued support.

Please pass around, and thank you everyone for your continued support. The
Eldorado Hotshots appreciate it.
More to come...

Mike Sandoval
Acting Battalion Chief - Pacific Ranger District

Thanks for the update, Sandy. Continued thoughts and prayers for all and especially for Jesse's and Jeff's speedy healing. Our best to their families as well. This is a very difficult situation for everyone involved, especially the family  caregivers. Ab.

8/29 Re Fallers on the Fireline:

Spin it anyway you want... AD fallers we hire do not look to us for full time employment; they are gainfully employed by the timber industry. Workers Comp rates are low because our accident rates are low. Spin a web of words and it still doesn't change the facts. We hire Fallers at industrial AD wage rates (in most cases the rate is the same as they make falling timber for the company they work for). AD fallers are still a great local resource and I hope they continue to resist any organizational attempt.

I think your Blossom story is another spin but in fairness, I will check out the events and learn the facts.

Point of clarification... I didn't blame "contract" fallers for any problems on the Hood. Frankly I'm not crafty enough with my words to do this and besides I blame the agencies that perpetuate the use of "contract fallers" through their hiring practices.

Thanks for the clarification regarding the overhead expense of running the Professional Fallers Program/contract fallers/falling module. I'm curious ... how much overhead expense is being held back from the fallers?

Last thing... my posts represent my personal opinions. The fact that you know which agency I work for doesn't bother me but the obvious displeasure with our agency comes through your posts as an attack on the agency... just to be clear I have not stated agency opinions... so rebuttals should stay focused on me as the poster and on the subject discussed. If you want to post trash about my agency please do it in a separate post so you can vent on all of the subjects that might be binding your drawers. All I ask is that you be specific and keep the focus on issues and not the person. Calling a faller or group of fallers bafoons (buffoons) should be saved for more intimate conversations where we can add ICs, DIVS and the food unit leader to the list. Name calling doesn't add value to the conversation at hand.

For the fallers that might read these posts

You can tell there is a disagreement between two posters about how to hire and compensate fallers that are used on the fire lines. Speaking for myself and I hope the other poster agrees... there is no argument or disagreement with the need for fallers or for the safety value of the hazardous work you provide each season. Snags and green trees present a risk to all fire fighters on the fire line. Your skills allow us to mitigate these tree hazards and I appreciate your hard work and the efforts made to our common goals and objective to suppress all fires safely.

Oliver...be safe

8/29 I would like to say THANK YOU! To all the men and women that
risked their lives during the Sawtooth fire (CA).

I knew my daughter's and my home would not make it; I stood on the
corner crying as the trucks rolled by. I had seen the fire last June in
Pioneertown, this one was nothing like I had seen before. It was more
than a fire storm.

I will rebuild again, Pioneertown is my home, I also know the fire crew
was trapped in their truck after fighting to save my home.

Bless you all! For the work you do.

Cindi Ribera

Thanks for the thanks. Glad you and your family are OK and can rebuild. Ab.

8/29 Chris,

Here's a good issue of Fire Management Today
on the Dude Fire and reconstruction of it for learning
purposes through a "Staff Ride". On a "Staff Ride"
you go back and retrace who did what and when
they did it to learn lessons from it.

Maybe other readers have links they've found helpful.


8/29 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
8/29 Wow, I keep going to South Ops News and Notes to get updates on
team rotation, etc. And I get nothing!

It has not been updated for over a week!

North Ops is up to date...

Other GACCs are up to date...

The Intel job has been filled...

Can someone please get their act in gear, PLEASE?!?!?

8/29 NorCal Tom

Well said, and I'm glad you appreciate Lobotomy's style. Well versed in the role and purpose policy plays. However, existing policy only explains the current state of affairs. My original point to Lobotomy was that I looked forward to a future date when policy changed to reflect the realities of the operating environment.

8/29 GG Fire,

Anyone who works or did work for the federal government or a state government knows that policy is the mandate from the people we represent and policy defines what we do. I for one want to THANK Lobotomy for laying out that beginning point every time it is necessary.

If you want to discuss ways that policy does not make sense or efforts we can make to change policy, that's another story, but policy is the starting place. We live in a democracy and it works because of law and policies that define our jobs.

NorCal Tom

8/29 Dear Sir:

Where can I get the particulars on the Dude Fire which took
place in Arizona in I believe 1988.


8/29 Re Fallers on the Fireline:

Anyone walking off of the fireline after they have agreed to take an assignment to fight fire is a bafoon. If you are offended by that term, so be it.

Taking a cut to organize fallers? Perhaps you need to take a closer look at the TRUE costs of employment, i.e. workers compensation. A little secret of your agency and SAIF reveals exactly why you and others don't want to give up the AD faller program. While private sector employers are forced to pay the highest workers compensation in the state (currently around 46% for hazard tree fallers), SAIF has been granted a proprietary workers compensation class code which is given ONLY to ODF. Why? Because ODF employs over 2,000 people. (Big deal...) What is this class code rate? Well, a whopping 2.5% percent. Yes, ODF pays 2.5% workers compensation on AD fallers cutting burning hazard trees on wildland fires (a significant number without background checks or experience verifications). What is wrong with that, you might ask? Well, in addition to this proprietary workers compensation code representing an unfair competitive advantage with the private sector, there is also a suspiciously high denial rate for workers compensation claims filed under this particular classification code. Liberty Northwest - a SAIF competitor - must be particularly interested in this situation, as are private sector contractors. We certainly are, particularly when we are being accused of taking an "unfair cut" of the faller module rate.

In fact, faller module fallers receive employment benefits every single employee in the state of Oregon receives (and which ODF employees receive) but which are withheld from AD Fallers. These things cost money, and the state considers these benefits (which their employees receive) too expensive for AD Fallers. Why would that be, do you think?

In addition, you mentioned "supervision" of private resources. Just last year on the Blossom Complex there was what is now notoriously called the "Showdown at the Pink Line." It was quite something. It seems that a group of state hired AD Fallers were somehow left to their own devises (i.e. without supervision). And, instead of actually working (which is what I assume they were being paid to do) they decided to line their trucks up across the road, spray a hot pink line across where they believed the division line between the state and federal managed divisions were (complete with "us" on the state side and "them" on the federal side) and wait for the faller modules and a Wyoming hand crew (who were actually working snagging the road) to come head long into their jr. high-esque confrontation. Supervision? I don't think so. Fortunately, a savvy task force unit leader diffused the situation and the AD fallers were moved into an area where they couldn't hurt themselves or anyone else. Did I mention that the individuals who "walked off the line" at the Mt. Hood Complex were a part of this AD Faller contingency on the Blossom Complex?

No doubt, there are many excellent AD Fallers. We know. We're hiring them. We're paying them well. We're giving them the training, equipment and PAY they deserve. We cover them with insurance. We provide them with unemployment insurance benefits and their pay is credited to their social security account (which hopefully will still be around when they need it.) Somehow they don't seem to be unhappy about that. But agency folks like you seem to take exception.

Re: Safety...yes, assuring fallers who make their way to the fireline are who they say they are improves safety. I'm surprised you think that is somehow a Red Herring. Providing them with adquate fireline training improves safety. Giving them workable information on how the ICS system works improves communication...and safety. One of the few ways in which the AD Faller program could be improved would be to have consequences for unacceptable performance and behavior. To date, that has been missing.

Last, all fallers who are legitimate fallers work in the commercial timber industry, and can prove it. When they come to work on a faller module it doesn't change who they are or what they do. What matters is how well they do it. And, blaming fallers who work under the faller module program for the poor choices made by AD Fallers (i.e. the Mt. Hood Complex incident) is inappropriate, no matter how craftily you wrap in up in your words.

Shari Downhill

8/28 Aussie firefighters in the US news:

Brian Sharkey in today's Missoulian on smoke hazards to firefighters: www.missoulian.com/articles/2006/08/28/news/local/news03.txt

8/28 Lobotomy:

You said....

"What you just described is Appropriate Management Response (AMR) and not Wildland Fire Use for Resource Benefit (WFU)." The are some very significant differences between the two management options."

Let's see (searching for polite response)....um, thanks for pointing that out.

So, if what I described is just AMR, and you're OK with AMR, what's your point? I described, by example, what I believe you described as a blurring of some important line. Please don't cite any more policy. Those are arbitrary management decisions, too often with no magic or basis in science, and policies are subject to change with the stroke of a pen. I can't get my head around the idea that current Forest Service policy equals wise and safe and that to look at fire in a more holistic way than the Forest Service does today is either unwise or unsafe.

Sign me,


8/28 Legislation was recently introduced by Congressman Bill Thomas (R-CA) to seek grants for research that would lead to the development of a vaccine for Valley Fever.

HR 5416 IH
2d Session

H. R. 5416
To provide for grants to conduct research toward the development of a vaccine against Valley Fever.

May 18, 2006
Mr. THOMAS introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce

To provide for grants to conduct research toward the development of a vaccine against Valley Fever.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the `Valley Fever Vaccine Development Act'.


(a) In General- In supporting research on the development of vaccines against human diseases, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shall make grants for the purpose of conducting research toward the development of a vaccine against coccidioidomycosis (commonly known as Valley Fever).

(b) Sunset- No grant may be made under subsection (a) on or after October 1, 2012. The preceding sentence does not have any legal effect on payments under grants for which amounts appropriated under subsection (c) were obligated prior to such date.

(c) Authorization of Appropriations- For the purpose of making grants under subsection (a), there are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2007 through 2012.


Health & Safety folks from the Forest Service have been in touch with epidemiologists who indicate that with sufficient funding, a vaccine is certainly possible. Rep. Thomas is not seeking reelection this year so I will be in touch with his Legislative Director to discuss the movement of the bill this year.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

8/28 Yes there are still company fallers in the timber industry, and there are fallers who contract to Timber Companies to fall timber and both types of fallers are competent and qualified to do the job of timber felling and snagging on harvest units and on fire lines. Yes we use the AD process to hire them. And yes I would use them on any of my fires. The result of waiting for days to receive "professional" fellers is more risk to fire fighters on the line and less efficient operations because of safety issues like snags that can't be fully mitigated until the fallers arrive.

We place supervision over the fallers to provide for fire line safety. Isn't this true for contract fallers also? What's next? Organize the dozer operators? Give the operators extra training and then sell it to the agencies. Jack up the price for dozer use on a fire? Agencies still need to assign supervision to these single resources assigned to the fire. Instead of the ability to use local forces we will be waiting around for the professional dozer operators to show up and the fire will be bigger and more fire fighters will be at risk.

Our timber industry sends their people to fire training yearly and they have a refresher each spring. Are they trained up to a FF level... some are but most are only receiving a basic knowledge of fire suppression. What they bring are the years of experience of tipping trees from stumps and operating equipment while complying with a multitude of OR-OSHA rules which includes basic fire suppression.

My opinion regarding the contract or professional fallers is not about the fallers. I'm sure they are a great group of individuals. However, calling our local resources names in a post on They Said doesn't help. In fact it shows how little some really care about or understand local relationships and their importance to safe and effective fire suppression actions. The comments posted read more like... how can I justify more money for providing the same resource to the government ? A question does come to mind... is all of the extra money paid for "professional" fallers going to the fallers or does somebody take a cut for organizing the fallers? Is this organization done under a non-profit umbrella?

The post crossed the line with celebrating the demise of AD resources... Hard working local resources are not always privy to federal contracting and agreements. Local AD fire fighting assistance is provided when requested. They (fallers) have a regular job... and it's falling timber! Are there "want to be fallers" trying to get hired on without the skill levels necessary? Yes I even heard of fallers in Southern Oregon showing up in tennis shoes...hmmmm professional faller? It's understandable that our AD fallers had a problem with two pay scales for the same job. Maybe if the local fallers bought embroidered shirts and matching suspenders we could pay them appropriate $$$ for the work they perform.

Playing the safety card is always a sure way to bait others into the conversation, but frankly I grow a little tired of of the misdirection the spin causes to the overall safety issues faced daily by IA and extended operation fire fighters.

I'm offended by the both the tone and content of the post regarding fallers walking off the line. I might even lose a little bit of sleep over the posters comments if I find myself with free time and nothing else to do.

Oliver... be safe

Oliver, this Ab hopes you don't loose sleep over the post. Thanks for your reply.

8/28 Readers,

It's been a month now that the Cluster Map on our Index Page has been accumulating and mapping visitors to our Index Page. Click on the small cluster map there for the bigger version.

It's interesting to see who's visiting from around the world. If you click on the part of the world you're interested in, that part of the map comes up larger on your screen. In the US, it's not so surprising we have lots of viewers from the west and from the Washington DC area, but it's very nice we also are viewed by folks across the country and Canada. You can go back and pick another part of the world to enlarge. We have viewers in Russia, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Europe, Africa, Australia (hi OB). Wow.

OK, back to working on fire. Ab.

8/28 Abs,

a new link for your page. The Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre is a collaboration of scientists put together after the bad seasons here in 01/02 & 02/03. It's directing a lot of science towards bushfires across Australia. One of the very interesting phenomenon that doesn't seem to have made these pages is a phenomenon that appears (with the benefit of hindsight) to have occurred in 2 of our most recent large fires, being the Canberra fire in Jan 03 and the Eyre Peninsula fire of Feb 05. The blurb on the website goes

Dry slots fan the flames

Columns of super-dry air that reach the earth’s surface from high altitudes could be responsible for extreme fire behaviour in some of the worst bushfires in Australia ’s history.

In work undertaken through the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, Dr Graham Mills, from the Bureau of Meteorology, has found that under certain conditions columns of dry, fast moving, high-altitude air descend, causing a rapid loss of humidity at ground level and very strong gusty winds. If positioned over an ongoing bushfire, this phenomenon can cause the bushfire to erupt into an uncontrollable inferno.

Unfortunately the link to the full document doesn't work, but it's worth putting on the radar. The rest of the research can be viewed at www.bushfirecrc.com (although the page does need some updating...).

Good luck over there. The 2nd ANZAC group is on the way & it appears a bunch from the first shift are committed to the Tripod and Cascade Crest complexes (amongst others - they're scattered around the place...).

Cheers for now


Thanks OB. Ab.

8/28 Oliver,

It's interesting you start off your post with "it's bad enough when 'company' timber fallers walk off the line because they are getting paid less than 'contract' fallers."

It would be helpful if you had pointed out that the "company" fallers you are talking about are in actuality the AD fallers your agency insists on using instead of faller modules (i.e., the "contract fallers" you're refering to). Faller Modules contain fallers who have jumped through the hoops in terms of attaining wildland firefighting training, having their backgrounds checked, and in all respects "stepping to the plate" to assure fire managers that they are willing and capable of fighting fire safely and professionally.

"Company" fallers? When did AD fallers become "company" fallers? It's questionable if the AD fallers you're talking about who "walked off the line" even work regularly in the commercial timber industry. Who knows? For the most part, AD Fallers don't have their backgrounds checked adequately, if at all. And the guys who walked off the fireline a few days ago are notorious for these kinds of antics, even to the point of going into the dispatch office and demanding assignments. Are these bafoons the kind of fallers any fire manager wants on their firefighting team? Why would they?

Let's help these folks here on They Said understand fully what you're talking about, Oliver.

The AD Fallers who "walked off the line" did so on the Mt. Hood Complex. They demanded to be paid the rate the faller modules were being paid, even though they HAD NOT met the requirements of the R6 Faller Module Emergency Equipment Rental Agreement, which (I will add) was advertised on FedBiz Ops and was open to all QUALIFED bidders. AD Fallers also are not requireed to provide the same insurances Faller Module bidders are required to provide. Did these AD Fallers who stomped their tootsies in the dirt take the time, or expend the energy to prepare a bid for that soliciation? Hell no. But they sure want the same dollar for dollar in the heat of fire season. And do you know what they got? They got a raise in the equipment rate! Yea! That'll teach 'em, huh? "You better not walk off the line again...or....or....you'll get more money." Duh. What a smart move that was!

Here's to appropriate consequences! ...or rather...here's to the demise of the AD faller program. Hip hip ....(raising my mug of stout...).

And finally, Oliver, you get what you pay for...or in the case of the AD Fallers on the Mt. Hood...NOT.

Shari Downhill
8/28 Dear Firescribe:

Nice article from the NY Times...too bad it only focused on the impact Mother Nature has had on the season, not the man-made agency impact of reducing preparedness allocations; not funding preparedness resources; UTF lists pages long etc., etc.

That's OK. It's always fun to educate the press too.


PS...By the way chatted at length with the House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) Saturday evening. He too was clueless as to the realities out in the field. NOT ANY MORE!!!!!
8/28 From Firescribe:

NY Times article by Kirk Johnson:
Wildfire damage immense, dispersed

DENVER - Bad wildfire years in the West have usually come with a giant, signature fire that resonates down the years through the lives lost or landscapes left scarred: Mann Gulch, 1949. Yellowstone, 1988. The Big Blowup, 1910.

This year has been bad, firefighters and foresters say, partly for the very lack of that center. The fires of 2006 have been just about everywhere, from the plains of Texas and Nebraska to the high northern Rockies of Montana to the Nevada desert.

8/27 More on the Mudd Fire, Elko NV fire conditions at the time the firefighters were burned over on 8/23. From the hotlist forum:

At the same time as burnover, another engine company had to set a fire to seek safety in the black. Winds were over 30 mph and aircraft were grounded. Several dozers and engines melted decals on this one. CDF & CA OES engines totaled 15 of the 37 engines that responded initial attack on this fast moving fire fire...12,000 acres in 12hours ! Lots of heroic efforts in saving structures. Kudos to Elko City FD.

Any updates or reports on the Mudd Fire incident would be appreciated. Ab.

8/27 Seems to be a lot of negative sentiment lately. After being out on two back to back assignments with less than desirable resources I will make this comment. Type two crews both agency and contract have stepped to the plate. Some are not completely capable and the overhead needs to be mindful of their use. However, in many cases there is a lot of excellent fire fighting being done without the help of IHCs. The IHCs as usual have saved the day a number of times, however, and they need to be applauded because we all know they are the backbone of wildland firefighting.

For any of you doubting the effectiveness of the National Fire Plan, the last two large fires that I was on, had large scale prescribed fire treatments that allowed for strategic and tactical advantages that resulted in increased firefighter safety, saved structures, reduced fire size and resource damage. We are in a difficult situation that will take the commitment of careers, not months or even years.

Work Hard, Work Smart, Work Together. Lets stay determined to bring them all home for the rest of the season, there is still a lot of firefighting to be done.

8/27 Still Out There

Have to agree 100% re: Canadians... just worked next to 2 of their crews on Timber Butte (Ola Comp) ; Columbia and Rocky Mountain Crews. They were excellent; well organized, well led, well trained, tough, experienced, safe, and working fools. Their techniques are different at times, but tactically sound and safe. I've spent 33 years at this incl. hotshots, helishots, helitack, engines... I've seen a good crew before. And these guys are good! My unsolicited advice to all is the same as any time you're working around a crew you're unfamiliar with: keep your head up and watch your own back.

But keep an open mind, and you may be pleasantly surprised with what you see. I certainly was!

8/26 Bluezebra.....

You said....

"As Todd said, the No Cal fires were crew shows. All engine orders were filled, although there were some disagreements for a while about using Fed only engines. This request for "Fed only" was from the Federal ICs. So drawdown for engines isn't an issue in our discussion"

Not ALL engine orders were filled. There was no request for "FED only" from the incident management level on the fires we were on.... and not all engine orders were filled. Proof on file.

Not to tip my hand.... but here it goes again... BS.... BS.. BS... arghh.... BS again..... That info is WRONG AND NOT FACTUAL...... There never was a request for FED ONLY engines or crews for the two fires I was on in a supervisory capacity (Lakin and Happy Camp)..... while we were there........ BOTH CREW AND ENGINE requests for two weeks went unfilled by "someone" or were altered by someone above the Incident Management Team Level in the ROSS or GACC...... "Someone" is more interested in "dollars" than "safety".

On the Lakin Fire and the Happy Complex Fires in Northern California, there were both crew (type 1 and 2IA) and type 3 engine orders unfilled (UTF'd) by "someone" even though those resources were available in California and other Regions... "Someone" also killed orders for Type 1, 2, and 3 helicopters even though they were available through exclusive use contracts and through CWN arrangements in California and other regions..... "Someone" needs to step up.... I have my ideas of the names of "someone"....

The resources were available and statused as available in ROSS, Wildweb, and GACC morning reports. Phone calls confirmed availability from local units.

Like I said before, "Dale Longanecker is so right in his observations. This year, there is (if not in previous years) a 19th Situation to Watch Out." This year, wildland firefighters are watching "someone" or "something" that is increasing the risks to wildland firefighters.

We will mitigate this "19th Situation"..... Come hell or high water... Bring your boots or learn how to swim.... otherwise, facts will speak louder than words.

I have the facts and I don't swim very well.......

That is all I will say.....


8/26 Rogue Rivers -

The Aussies, Kiwis and Canucks have been in the US several times before, in 2000 and 2003. The Aussies and Kiwis are all top-level fire Overhead, whose quals have been checked and crossed checked against 310-1. In Montana during 2000, they and the Canadians brought in IMTs that totally ran 1000+ person fires very successfully. They had ICs, Division Supes, Air Attack and Helicopter Managers in the mix.

Everyone on US Federal land fires carry fire shelters - Feds, state folks, rural and volunteers, Canadians, Aussies, New Zealanders, everyone. Remember, the fire shelter originated in Australia way back in the 1950-1960 era!

As for the Thirtymile and Cramer requirements, I know they get a good orientation on US Firefighter safety issues, although they may not have to do everything that one specific US Federal agency requires of their employees.

And the cost? Probably $1000-1500 per person. Looked at the hourly costs of a T-1 helicopter lately? How about the daily cost to the US agencies when they have a CDF engine crew go to Idaho or Montana? We're spending MILLIONS of dollars a day fighting fire (less than in Iraq, but still a lot of money in this taxpayer's view), so the cost of flying highly qualified fire overhead in to the US is really just chump change in the big picture! If the US had some DIVS, AOBD, FBAN, ASGS and HEB1/2 personnel available at this time, the overseas help wouldn't have been asked for: have you taken a look at the UTF list lately?

I've been fortunate enough to work with the Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians before, and personally welcome them with open arms into our wildfire suppression organization again!


8/26 Re: Dazed and Confused


Mark Rey said something earlier in the year that got me dazed and confused.... I'll digress at some other time later.

Your post about Type 1 Hotshot Crews needs some clarification. It may have confused some people including myself initially. When I read it, I thought it meant three crews were available, two of them on days off and one of them on R&R.

There are actually 5 Hotshot Crews available is SoOps..... 3 on duty (avail.), 2 on days off (avail.), and one not available due to R&R...... A friend told me that SoOps "draw down" for Hotshot Crews was a total of 2 because they could rely on the large numbers of CDF and LACO Type 1 crews if the need arises for initial attack and then order additional Hotshot Crews for support if needed from other areas.

The same friend told me that the FED engines from USFS and BLM that are shown as un-available would have been if 7-day funding would have been properly allocated this year, and the hiring and retention fiasco in California had been solved.... he hinted that most SoCal FS units use a 60% engine drawdown level and that 5 day coverage and loss of qualified engine supervisors and operators had significantly lowered the number of resources they could muster to support other areas.....

Friend also told me that similar cuts to helicopters (2 in CA and 3 in NV) have hampered initial attack and large fire support. I am not aware what the cuts in other regions or areas have been but I am sure it has something to do with the "perceived" lack of resources this year.

My friend also told me of overhead, crews, and engines being used in R-3, R-8, and R-9 to meet prescribed fire targets even though "Chief Bosworth" has "directed" twice that ALL qualified and available fire personnel would be made available for fire assignment.

I got an e-mail today from the FS info folks (FS_NEWS list-serve) talking about prescribed burning happening in Region 3 and how this was the "right time" to burn piles and that rain throughout the Southwest allowed their resources to concentrate on pile burning.......... yikes..... someone in the WO press room got their messages crossed..... they also sent the message from Chief Bosworth making all folks available for fire assignment as the #1 Priority!!!!

Gizmo.... no wonder people are confused....... No clear Mission priorities, supposed Mission creep, Mission blurring, and lack of Mission leadership is happening. 90% of the Forest Service employees probably don't even know what the FS Mission is, or know the history and reasoning behind the specific wording. The Mission is a simple thing, "Caring for the land, serving people".... It was made simple for a reason.

It is time to put a fire leader in charge of the FED fire programs or separate the FED fire programs from the land management agencies.

This year has once again been a dismal failure for safety of our firefighters and the communities they protect, our natural resources, and the American taxpayer........ The National Fire Plan was a chance for the Federal Land Managers to redeem their status of experts in managing wildfire upon the land.... they failed again.

This Year (So far, as of today): 7.4 Million acres burned to date
The NFP gauge on effectiveness (2000 fire season): 6.0 Million acres burned to date (2000).
Ten Year Average: 4.4 Million acres burned to date.

sign me.... Higbee Cut

(I feel for you land managers who are losing the money for your land management programs again... and again.. and again.... year after year due to FIRE BORROWING..... Land managers way above you are causing the problem.... not the fire managers.)..... there is a way to correct the problem and make everyone safe and happy.
8/26 Re the firefighters from Canada:

I had the pleasure to work with some of the folks from Canada in 2002 and they were very professional. I had the impression that much of their fire experience is closer to what we get in Alaska: you are more likely to be in an isolated location without much to back you up, factors that can rapidly turn a safety mistake into a tragedy. I'd be surprised if you found them to be anything less than first-rate, safe firefighters.

Still Out There as an AD

8/26 Run, Ken Ran benefit for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation:

What can be said…..?

This turned out to be such a great experience. What I saw was a great team. I saw dedication and teamwork. I was “blown” away by the amount of integrity displayed by this team. The concern for Ken, the safety for him and the rest of the crew took first priority. Even with the pressure that Ken put upon himself and the state of mind he had to put himself in to run, all decisions and contingencies were calmly and soberly executed. Because of the planning and the wealth of resources that were provided (Maps, GPS equipment, EMT, traffic control, etc…..) I was confident in the safety of all involved.

Teary eye moments for me:

  • The participation of the BLM and the Kern Valley Hotshots (thank you Debbie!!)
  • The parting (and shoving) of the Hotshots at the finish line.
  • The presentation of the jar of money to Vicky Minor from little Elisabeth Breen, the girl that sold snow cones to raise money for the run.

Bravo Team
Bravo Ken
Thanks to all the contributors.

I’m looking forward to next year!!


The Abs are also looking forward to next year. It was a great experience, both years. Thanks Ken and All.
Photos from '06 run.
Photos from '05 run.

8/26 Gizmo:

I appreciate your figures. Please allow some additional explanation.

As Todd said, the No Cal fires were crew shows. All engine orders were filled, although there were some disagreements for a while about using Fed only engines. This request for “Fed only” was from the Federal ICs. So drawdown for engines isn’t an issue in our discussion.

As to crews, your figures show 3 of 26 IHC available- that is a 90% commitment. I don’t know what South Ops considers drawdown, but a 90% commitment sounds like beyond drawdown to me. I was aware on one day a little later in the timeframe where South Ops had only 2 IHCs available.

On the CDF side, your figures show 38 of 92 crews available. That is a 59% commitment. I believe CDF’s maximum drawdown is usually 60%, particularly in areas away from the fires, which were in North Op’s area. Higher drawdown if the fires were in South Ops is always feasible.

I have noticed a lot of comments in these discussions that seem to imply to me that agencies should be emptying their stations and other locations because there are fires with orders outstanding, not in that agency’s initial attack area, or even close by. Should South Ops, for example, commit 100% of their Hot Shot crews to fires in North Ops area? Most agencies I am aware of rarely commit more than 50% of their forces out of their home area. CDF goes to as high as 65% on major events.

We all want to go to as many fires as possible, but we also know we all can’t go.

8/26 Re: More Australian, New Zealand and Canadian Wildfire Specialists
Arriving to Assist U.S. Efforts

www.nifc.gov/news/2006/nr_assistance8-25-06.pdf (1 page pdf file)

Does anyone know the following?
  1. Are they being trained in the use of fire shelters and being required
    to carry them?
  2. Are they receiving all of the 30 Mile and Cramer Abatement items
    training as firefighters? and
  3. Are they (the supervisors from Canada, AU, and NZ) being required
    to meet and document all of the 30 Mile and Cramer abatement
    items like U.S. fireline supervisors?

Rogue Rivers

P.S. - I wonder how much it must cost to bring in all those firefighters from
other countries, while U.S. firefighters are sitting at home?

8/26 Dazed and Confused,

Maybe the reason that the Engines were sent home before is that they were night shift Engines, and the fire had enough day shift engines at the time, and IA's were starting on the Forest. And maybe the reason there is a new order for engines is that the East winds have started, and the new Team might be taking over command of another fire, like Hancock, in a few days, which is burning out toward roads on the south side, which it wasn't a few days ago.

-Camp slug

8/26 Dazed,

Sometimes just before transition the team might take a hard look at downsizing (or upsizing) resources to cover the transition, and after transition the new team does the same. It makes sense to me that they might order new resources depending on the tactics they decide on, to replace other similar resources timing out, etc.

Then there's also the weather, especially the foehn winds predicted, and whether the wind shift might put residences or Hwy 96 in danger again.

From a distance it might seem confusing. My guess is that it's really not if you're in the middle of it.


8/26 Ab,

Could someone explain in layman's terms, just what exactly ROSS is, when it was created and what should be changed in the way the system works to order resources, where funding comes from, the issues about outsourcing Forest Service jobs, etc. What cuts in funding have been made that have negatively impacted safety issues? What are the efforts to FEMAize the system (which don't seem like such a great idea).

My main concern is for the safety and welfare of the firefighters and if I can send out messages to Congressmen that might help, I sure would love to be a squeeky wheel, but, boy, am I confused.

A few precise talking points for messaging would be a great help!

Just a Mom in Colorado
8/26 Bluezebra,

On 8/23, you stated, "I would like to find out the source of your information that there was 'no drawdown' involved."

I believe that your statement was referring to my comment, "During the recent (and on-going) NorCal fires, resource requests for single resource Type 1 and Type 2 IA Crews, and Type 3 Engine Strike Teams went unfilled even though ROSS, and WildWeb showed that resources were available throughout the WEST without any drawdown."

Bluezebra, I have my sources for info. I explained several of them (Wildweb, calls to command (communication) centers, calls to fire management officers, calls to incident commanders, etc.) Other sources of information are also available.

Like you, I have been working fires since early June and keep getting told the same story: resources are not available or they come back UTF. When I know that information I am given is wrong, I try and look for the correct answer utilizing every available source of information.

Operational Resources Normally Available in South Ops (CA).. Just south of North Ops (CA):

26 Hotshot Crews (FS, BLM, BIA, AFV, and KRN)
92 Type-1 Crews (CDF)
31 Type-1 Crews (LAC)

154 Type-3 Engines (USFS)
27 Type-3 Engines (USDI Agencies)
143 Type-3 Engines (CDF)
Over 100 Type-3 Engines (Local Government) Available through existing agreements.

6 Type-1 Helicopters
17 Type-2 Helicopters
4 Type-3 Helicopters

Available as of 8/26:

3 Hotshot Crews Available, 2 on Days Off, and 1 on R&R
38 Type-1 Crews (CDF)*
11 Type-1 Crews (LAC)*

94 Available, 27 Committed, 33 Unavailable** Type-3 Engines (USFS)
10 Available, 8 Committed, 9 Unavailable** Type-3 Engines (USDI Agencies)
133 Available Type-3 Engines (CDF)
Over 100 Type-3 Engines (Local Government) Available through existing agreements.

1 Available Type-1 Helicopter
9 Available, 6 Committed, 2 Out of Service Type-2 Helicopters
3 Available, 1 Committed Type-3 Helicopters

* Weekend coverage. Staffing level varies during staffing patterns. Other conditions may affect daily availability.
** Unavailable engine coverage considers un-staffed engines due to personnel shortages, non-availability of qualified supervision, or days off as a result of 5-day coverage.

8/26 I think it is real funny that we always have the
discussion about crew availability when we hit
preparedness level five and nothing is ever done. I
would like to know how many crews and engines we have
staged and are running off severity funds, an easy way
to keep resources in Region. I would like R5 to
explain how come so many resources are sucked up in
the region and they are just sitting waiting for the
big one. Alot of regions sent people to help us out
with our lightning bust now lets return the favor.
Quit the "What If" and lets fight the fires we have
across the nation. I have been tasked with sending an
engine to the Orleans complex and I just laughed at
what has taken place with the resources there, I had
an engine go there for 8 days and they released them
back to the district. The fire currently has little
access for engines and all my crews did was sit. What
I can't figure out is the day they returned they
ordered another one of my engines for the Orleans
complex. It's a hard one to figure out.

Dazed and Confused
8/26 Resources sitting and not being used?

It's bad enough when Company timber fallers in the Pacific North West are walking off the fire line because they are getting less pay than "contract fallers".... I don't know if I want my regular FF's walking off the line if they are placed side by side with resources that are paid 24/7 at two to three times their hourly rate... A little tongue in cheek because my people wouldn't walk off the line, but they would give me an ear full after the fire. So the question is... are the costs of certain resources influencing the order and fill process too much? Is it UTF or UTFUCCCP? (unable to fill under current cost containment policies)

8/26 TC.

I do know what a Fire Use team is and their quals and skills. The point I was making was that when a "Fire Use Team" is assigned that indicates that the fire has been declared a fire use and not a suppression fire. The direction states once suppression cannot be returned to use. Simple at least to me.

Nor Cal Tom

I agree with the need to be flexible with determining use vs suppression and the use AMR. I clearly remember being sent to fires that we had no business even fussing with as they were not a threat and it cost a whole lot more to put it out vs look at it once or twice a day. But the policy at the time or on the forest was to put them out, no discussions. I bent my pick over that one several times and was told in no uncertain terms what the forest policy was. So been there done that and ain't going back.

Old Guy

8/26 AB,

This is for "Caring Person's " request regarding services for Lillian

Paul M. Sever, Center Manager
Central Idaho Interagency Fire Center

Thanks Paul. Ab.


Memorials Planned and Addresses for Cards, Flowers, and Condolences
Krassel Helicopter Incident, August 13, 2006
Region 4, Payette National Forest
Services are open to family, friends and colleagues.

Lillian Patten:
· Saturday, August 26, 2006, 1500
· Mount Tabor Park, SE 69th & SE Belmont St., Portland, OR, 97215
· Dress in casual attire

· US Forest Service
Linda Goodman
333 SW 1st Ave
PO Box 3623
Portland, OR 97208-3623
Attn: David and Suzanne Tufenkian

· Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to the Wildland Firefighters
Foundation in Lillian’s name at www.wffoundation.org/ or by phone at
(208) 336-2996.

Quin Stone:
· Saturday, August 26, 2006 at 1300
· Potter Funeral Chapel, 220 E Main St, Emmett, ID
· Dress in casual attire
· A potluck will be held following the service

· Bryan and Ann Stone
1345 4th Street
Emmett, Idaho 83617

· Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to the Wildland Firefighters
Foundation in Quin’s name at www.wffoundation.org/ or by phone
at (208) 336-2996.

8/26 Understand there is a memorial service in the Portland area today for
Lillian Patten (the Payette Lookout who passed away in the recent
helicopter crash). I can't find any info about when or where - does
anyone have the info?


Caring Person

8/26 Firefighter charged in fatal crash

Manslaughter: He was driving an engine that left I-10 in Beaumont CA last year. A colleague died.
August 24, 2006
By Paul DeCarlo and John Asbury

BEAUMONT - A firefighter faces a vehicular-manslaughter charge a year after the engine he was driving went off a Beaumont freeway embankment in heavy rain, killing a 23-year-old colleague, authorities announced Thursday.

Michael Lawrence Arizaga, 47, of Hemet, was charged Aug. 4 with one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, according to the Riverside County district attorney's office.

It is the first time an on-duty Riverside County firefighter has been charged with manslaughter after being involved in an accident, said Riverside County Fire Capt. Julie Hutchinson.

It likely is the first time in the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's 101-year history as well, a spokesman said.

"As far as people here can recall, this has never happened before," CDF spokesman Michael Jarvis said Thursday from Sacramento. Riverside County contracts for fire service with CDF.


"The loss of one of our own firefighters has been a traumatic event for the Kanton family and the entire department," a Riverside County Fire Department news release stated Thursday. "This is a difficult time for this organization and it is important that we continue to work together as a department."

8/26 CDF is not the only one sitting at home. Type 1 IHC sitting at home available for over 24 hours now. So much for the national shared resource stuff. I'm not sure ROSS is the problem but more the GACC's playing games. All of the monkeying around with the system has broke it. If you are trying to get some resources for your fire, ask R5 where they are.


8/26 Angered, Frustrated, etc......

I say AMEN Brothers and Sisters.

Has ROSS increased efficiency in ordering resources? NO, when, as Angered said, changing screen to screen to screen to fill an order takes time, assuming ROSS is up and working quickly. Tongue in cheek: So much easier than looking at card stock resource orders in front of you or available resource lists.

Has ROSS reduced the number of dispatchers? NO, from what I'm seeing, the same number of dispatchers are used at expanded dispatches.

Has ROSS reduced the paperwork load? A resounding NO! Printout after printout after printout, especially at the 'root' of the order, the Ordering Manager on an incident. In the old days, flip the card over for documentation, now we sort through pages and pages of orders to find documentation.

Has ROSS reduced time in dispatch process? NO! On average, what I've seen is at least a 12 hour lag in the ordering system........... ask anyone trying to order or a resource trying to fill an order.

Has ROSS cut out the phone calls and faxes with its 'push a button and it happens' technology? Absolutely NO. Example: A order for a DIVS for a fire in the Bitterroot Montana is received, BUT, the 'report to' block says Missoula (the jetport). Several phone calls later the filling unit finds out the actual location of the incident is Sula. More questions, rent a car?, call for pickup? (usually the phone number is the expanded dispatch, requiring the expanded to call the incident and arrange pickup). Agreed, this example is due to not enough information by the dispatcher inputting the original info, or not updating the info as it becomes available. Why, make a phone call and find out!

Lastly, if you are waiting for a resource to be filled, a critical resource, and it takes days not hours because it goes around the horn to dispatch centers with no resources to fill the order, is this a safety issue?

Angered & Frustrated, I feel your pain, but as I've been told, ROSS is here to stay and we'd better get 'up to speed' (can't help but laugh at that one) on using it. A zillion dollar boondoggle............

8/26 Hey Ab!

I haven't posted in a long time, but I kinda read now and then to see whats new. I realize going into year 8 of doing this job, that as a career based culture, the more things change the more they stay the same. Look at the archives from 5 years ago and many of the posts are still being echoed and repeated today.

So remember the old joke "everybody wants to talk about the weather, but no one wants to do anything about it,"?

I have an observation about UTFs, especially if it is 'as represented' that the crews are actually there, but not "Fed" crews. I read posts suggesting that for "financial reasons only" some orders are going unfilled. So let me ask, I know that when I am running a fire down here in Florida (state level) when I order a resource (lets say a helicopter or additional tractor plows), and I am told no, (either none available, or it has happened that my boss said "let me get on scene first." As if my judgment wasn't good enough........). I advised on open radio that we would not engage on the fire because it was unsafe to do so with the resources at hand. I put dispatch on notice that their failure to send the requested personnel would change my tactics and land/homes would be lost. Keep in mind that this, by policy, had to written into the permanent record for that incident.

Suddenly I had all kinds of resources in route. Granted, later my boss and I had a heart to heart about my choice to embarrass him -vs- his lack of trust in his personnel. (He was new and didn't know any of his people. He didn't know who had ran fires or for how long, and instead of trusting our quals had made several questionable actions that we were all tired of.) My actions brought it to a head (for good or bad).

So question........ Have any pio's during an interview to the press said "Well we wanted to save those homes, but we were unable to get the manpower we needed. Unfortunately someone at ??? wouldn't approve the use of local professional crews, we were told that until a federal crew was available our orders couldn't be filled....."

I could imagine the scandal "Tonight on DATELINE......homes burn so the Fire Service can save pennies."

I realize that I might have an over-simplified view on the situation, but it seems that if the system is broken and we continue to make do, make do, "duct tape and bailing twine the broken system together" without really standing up and "refusing the risk" (see your yellow guide and think in broader terms than one assignment, think of the whole fire as one action, one risk.);
if we participate without making serious, well documented, noise,
then we are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Thanks for the voice Ab,

Flash in Florida

ps: Does anyone know the ad rate for resource unit leader on a type 2 IMT???

ADFA website. There's also a link on the Classifieds page. Ab.

8/25 Tongue in Cheek regarding ROSS


Last month, a local ROSS department store went up in flames. I’ve attached a
photo that might be used to describe the current feelings regarding the ROSS
system that we have to deal with when ordering resources.


8/25 Heads up folks,

Rumor has it that Forest Service "fire borrowing" will start in the next week or so.
Glad that the WO gave $100,000,000+ of fire dollars for the Albuquerque Service

Signed me,
FBAN sitting at home doing land management crap while the western U.S. burns.
8/25 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
8/25 Old Guy,

A Fire Use Team is essentially a short type 2 team. They are
fully capable of taking suppression actions when required.


8/25 AB: After hearing the description of fire behavior on the Mudd fire by their PIO, maybe we need to start a new list of one liner’s describing fire activities. I sure there are some good one out there. One of the best one’s I heard was the description of ice capping of a thermal column. “Cumus-overtimus”

8/25 Local Yakima Herald paper today ran article saying WA state ok’d the
DC-10 for fires in the Dayton area. Said it may be cheaper in the long run,
especially when other resources are not available. Also states they asked
for two days. To be stationed out of Moses Lake, WA.

Retro Helitacker
8/25 Angered, Frustrated:

I feel your pain brother.

Try getting a contractor paid out of IAS, input a CA-1 into SHIPS, keep up
with the continuing senseless AG-Learn Training, stay current with AMIS,
navigate AVUE etc. etc. We are rats stuck in the time sucking digital
wheel and I doubt it's going to get any better.

>From the tone of your letter, sounds like you're a little overstressed and
need a day or two off doing something self-indulgent.


8/25 OK I've finally hit my boiling point with ROSS, and
some so called "Documentation Trail" that it was said
NICC requires to place a resource order outside of
your GACC. We have a 45-50 million dollar program that
lets the GACCs know if a dispatch center has someone
available, but no they have to send it to us anyways
so we can UTF it, so they have a documentation trail,
so when they send it to NICC it appears it has been
worked on. Now this doesn't sound like much, but when
it takes a minute to 2 1/2 minutes to "view" "Query"
"check the Documentation" "UTF" and then go back to
the pending request, and the first thing you walk into
in the morning is 20-30 orders waiting to be
processed, you can figure out the time commitment that
is required for a program that is already too slow.

You also need to remember this is going on all day
long, a constant inflow of resource orders we have
nobody available for and in many cases orders we have
nobody qualified for. Now if it is as OSCC says that
NICC is requiring this, I call "Bullsh*t", someone
needs to elevate it above them so we can get this
changed, the program as cumbersome as it is, that part
of the program works and can save time and money.
"Documentation Trail", my as$, use the program like it
was designed, I have enough work to do in my daily job
without having to waste time helping to create a
documentation trail. Multiply my wasted time by every
center just in California and I bet there is a
but*load of dollars wasted.

Sign me

Angered, Frustrated and needing just a little help

8/25 From Firescribe: a bit more info...

Two Firefighters Hurt in NV Burnover

Two wildland firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management, Bakersfield, Calif., District Office were injured Wednesday afternoon during a wildland fire burn-over on the Mudd Fire. The men were caught outside their truck and had to deploy their fire shelters. Harris said the truck had a flat tire and was high-centered.

After the fire passed, the two men were transported to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital where they were treated and released for minor to moderate burns.

Trailhead Fire Threatens Stanley ID

The Trailhead Fire re-ignited Tuesday and rapidly charged through thousands of acres of tinder-dry, beetle-killed pine trees on Wednesday and Thursday.

USFS gathering smoke data

Washington Governor Declares Wildfire Emergency

Sleuth tracks down history of county fire department (Ventura County CA Fire Department)

8/25 Flexibility in determining "fire use" vs "not fire use" seems logical to me,
so long as we are all on the same page for making that kind of

NorCal Tom

8/25 Lobotomy

You are exactly correct that wildland firefighters have been considered aids or technicians when their job has long since passed those levels. I once heard from a division chief that the day of the dumb firefighter is long over and that they need to get educated. That person was right. The current push for the natural resource training is at least a start in the right direction. Also those line offices must be required to go to professional fire training and to pay attention and learn something.

A friend of mine attended the recent Fire Management for Line officers course in R-5 and they told me that a large portion of the class was out of the room on the phone, shopping, visiting with their friends or playing giggles instead of taking it seriously. I think they were right that these people didnt learn anything when I read on the NIFC report that a type 2 team was replaced on a fire by a fire use team. I believe that national policy says that once a fire is declared a wildfire it cannot be returned to fire use. Isnt this a violation of national policy? If so where are the "Leaders" who should have been all over that and held the line officer responsible for that decision accountable. National Planning level 5.

FC180 saying that CDF resources are sitting home while the west burns, what about the Fed resources sitting at home? Yes crews are short but a quick look at the Wild Cad tells the story of forests that have KEPT all their engines home in the south, yet the chiefs letter is the usual rubber page letter for this time of the year for everyone to step up and participate. Leadership by letter doesnt cut it. I would bet that resources would get shaken loose if Bosworth got on the phone to Forest Supervisors and told them to cut folks free. If they didnt, its time for a New Forest Sup. There is a huge gap between rhetoric from Bosworth and Harbour and action on their parts. At one time I thought they were people of action, now they sit on the Ivory throne and talk.

Enough of this rant

Old Guy

8/25 Todd,

I'm an old CDF crew Capt.(22+ yrs. on crews) and yes my crews will spike and do whatever is needed to get the job done.

With that said, I have to say our Dept. as a whole now-a-days is soft compared to years ago and in my opinion it's due to the fact our management promoted too quickly or they came from our resource management side so they don't always have a clue what our crews can and can't do.

The crew is a direct reflection of their Capt. So like any agency's crews, you have good ones and bad ones.
Me personally, I wish we could go more places for assignments ie; out-of state and staying out longer - spiking/coyoting. Some of the best times I've had chasing fires has come when I've been toe-to-toe with my hot shot counterparts doing the same job completing the assignment while having that sense of accomplishment with the adrenaline rush.

Far as security with or without corrections, it depends on the relationship you have with CDC, I'm lucky because our LT. and staff will go on the line and support all our ops, if needed they will spike with us. Security at base camp is both our jobs, but after feeding it is nice to break away for our down time.

Hope this helps.


8/25 National Interagency Fire Center
3838 S. Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705

August 18, 2006

To: All Personnel
From: National Multi Agency Coordinating Group
Subject: Driving Safety

A quick review of the 2006 Wildland fire safety data shows this has been difficult year for accidents, and most particularly for motor vehicle related accidents. Since March of this year there have been close to a dozen incidents, including four in the last two weeks. Incredibly, these accidents reveal that many firefighters are still not wearing their seatbelts.

The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) would like to emphasize that driving is one of the most hazardous tasks in which firefighters engage. Because most of us drive every day, we tend to normalize the dangers involved. Add to that the stress of emergency response and cumulative fatigue and the risk of serious accidents increases.

Much has been written about how to ensure safe driving, but nothing is more succinct and comprehensive than the driving lesson in 6 minutes for safety. To help stem the rash of vehicle related accidents, we are asking all firefighting agencies to use Tuesday the 22nd of August as a time to review this six minutes for safety lesson plan. The lesson is attached to this memo, or can be found at www.nifc.gov/sixminutes/dsp_discussion.php?id=172.

We are now in our eighth straight month of high activity fire and significant ground and aviation operations. Please take the time to review, reinforce, and reiterate the practices that keep us safe on the road, in the air, and on the fireline. Please keep the remainder of your season safe and productive.

/s/ Tom Boatner
Chair, NMAC

Yeah, and the most deadly kind of vehicle accident you especially want to avoid is one like this: photo

8/25 To anyone who works in south zone dispatch. I have a question for you. When a resource order comes in type III engines do you send the order to a specific forest or does ROSS send it to all forests who can fill the order? Just wondering, been sitting at home watching other southern cal forests sending there engines out of region and our trucks sitting at home.

Sitting @ Home
8/25 Date: August 24, 2006
Subject: Regions Must Be Committed To Wildland Fire Operations
To: Regional Foresters

This letter follows up the Director of Fire and Aviation Management’s preparedness note to Regional Fire Directors in July and my conference call with Regional Foresters on July 27, 2006. The critical fire situation in the western regions continues unabated and is at a critical point. Recent activity has pushed the national preparedness level to 5 where national priorities take precedence over other activities. New lightning fires have created additional demands which must be addressed. As our doctrine indicates, every Forest Service employee will support wildland fire suppression emergencies. Once again, it is time to reaffirm our commitment to this mission.

Employees must participate in fire activities commensurate with their respective training, qualifications, and physical ability. Those not incident qualified or who cannot accept assignment away from home are expected to support the fire efforts and provide backup for those on assignment. Support for fire operations takes priority over accomplishment of resource targets. The release of personnel to assist on the firefighting efforts may have an effect on target accomplishment this fiscal year. I encourage you to discuss specific concerns with me.

Firefighter and public safety continue to be the number one priority. Appropriate management response to all ignitions is expected. This response should balance safety, resource needs, resource availability, and cost. Wildland Fire Situation Analysis should reflect this balance.

I am always proud as the agency rises to the significant challenges that it often faces. The Washington Office Fire and Aviation Management staff is working with the Regions and our partners to ensure success. Conference calls, correspondence, site visits, and other forums, such as the July 2006 issue of the FS Today, have focused attention on this worsening situation. It is mid-August and we will very likely have a tough fight on our hands for the next several weeks. The Forest Service’s greatest asset is our people and their knowledge, skills, and initiative.
We are all in this together.

/s/ Dale N. Bosworth
8/24 The Trailhead Fire (Idaho) has blown up after being
declared "controlled" on July 30th.



8/24 TC,

You said, "A fire is a fire is a fire". I disagree.... there is fire (wildfire), and then there is a pre-planned and well executed project area covered by an approved Fire Management Plan, where naturally ignited wildfires will be allowed to burn within a remote area without needing substantial fire suppression response or mitigations for firefighter or community safety, or without needing additional suppression resources increasing the threats to firefighter or public safety (WFU). (See Wildland Fire Use: Implementation Procedures Reference Guide)

Then there is a mixing of the two..... and that is where safety problems begin.... and continue.

So far this year, I have counted over 20 WFU fires that were converted to wildfires. Unfortunately, some of these fires have resulted in structural loss and losses to infrastructure in communities. Also, fatalities, injuries, and shelter deployments have happened this year on WFU incidents and gotten very little attention from the professional wildland fire managers or the press. I believe this inattention is by design, either intentional or inadvertent oversight to known program failures that have existed for years.

The Forest Service considers both suppression fires and WFU fires as "emergent" operations (See policy and direction in FSM and FSH).

At what point do you successfully balance risk vs. gain, especially when risk involves the potential loss of human life for the goal of "resource benefits" by some?

8/24 Rural Dept. engine that caught fire while flanking a spot fire on the
South End Complex near Fields, Oregon.



8/24 It is almost embarrassing to have the nation in a PL5 situation, and we in
Southern California CDF are sitting, all 14 engines, hundreds of overhead
and all 15 crews in my county, while fires across the nation go wanting.
What is the deal? Is it on our end or the other end? I know many requests
are placed for "green only". Maybe there is fault to go around.

FC 180

8/24 Re: The Mudd Fire Burnover

I thought I had heard everything.... Guess not....

"This fire at its height was consuming vegetation faster than pizza would
disappear at a Weight Watcher's convention," Struble said. "When you
have winds and humidity like that, nothing is going to stop it."


Rogue Rivers

8/24 Old guy,

You said something about ... "The comments about firefighters wanting to be firefighters". Thank you, it sunk in with me.

For far too long, wildland firefighters have been considered to be "aids or technicians" in the land management arena, and not professionals or leaders in the profession. If wildland firefighters are not going to be equal partners (with their ologist brothers and sisters) for safety and mission goals within the land management agencies, then I agree with the views of many before me that wildland fire management should be a separate agency (or stove piped) providing services to the land managers.

The #1 thing that wildland firefighters want is safety and that each firefighter comes home each day (or at least back to fire camp).

Conflicting management direction without a clear mission or goal is setting us up to repeat the failures of the past forty years.

Let the professional and skilled wildland fire managers determine the safest and most cost effective means of managing wildland fires without confusion or conflicting priorities from land managers. Instead of requiring fire managers to take upper division land management classes, why not consider making land managers take upper division fire management and risk assessment classes?

8/24 I have set back and been lurking for a while and have watched some interesting threads develop over the last month or so. The thought of a federal Wildland Fire Dept. has floated around for a long time and I believe the time is ripe for that to happen. No it will not circumvent politics etc. But it will help box up and contain the "new age" line officers the vast majority of which do not have any degree or background in "Natural Resource Management" most are Oligists (not all) with their own specialty and agenda. And that does not include fire.

Casey mentioned the lack of adequate classification for the Wildland Fire fighter under the new 400 series. Right on. The 462 series failed to do that as well when it was mass adopted back in about 1971-72. There actually was a Wildland Fire Fighter Series called Fire Control Aid/Technician; the PDs were accurate and reflected the tasks including the resource management work that was expected of the crews.

The comments about firefighters wanting to be firefighters and not do resource work. Well did anyone consider that "new age" resource managers view the fire fighters as bumbling, lazy, uneducated fools that are not capable of getting their projects done. That one I have seen more of in the last 10-15 years than the firefighters who are unwilling to go do the other work. Has it dawned on anyone that there is a lack of projects that the crews can do because the ologists are still squabbling over the EA or other documents?

I could rant on but it doesnt matter because those that sit on the Ivory throne dont read this forum and dont give a rats-patute about the "little people" out in the field.

old guy

Readers, this should be about "the what, not the who". We have many good people who are non-fire public servants who are just as stuck in the morass of outdated bureaucracy as fire is. Ab.

8/24 GGFire,

What you just described is Appropriate Management Response (AMR)
and not Wildland Fire Use for Resource Benefit (WFU).

The are some very significant differences between the two management

8/24 Mudd Fire burnover info link: www.inciweb.org/incident/news/article/447/1887/

Ab note: Inciweb is very slow, so I've copied and pasted it here.

Two Firefighters Deploy Emergency Shelters On Mudd Fire North Of Elko NV - Treated & Released

Incident Contact: Mike Brown (775) 748-4141

Incident: Mudd Fire
Released: 2006-08-24 10:45:00 ET

Two firefighters staffing a BLM fire engine from the BLM-Bakersfield District (California) during initial attack were involved in a burnover and emergency fire shelter deployment at approximately 1700 on Wednesday, August 23 while participating in initial attack operations on the Mudd Fire, located five mile north of Elko, Nevada.

The two firefighters were transported by ambulance to the Northeast Nevada Regional Hospital in Elko, where they were treated for minor to medium burns and released late in the evening on August 23.

An accident investigation team is being assembled and will examine the circumstances of the incident.

8/24 Todd,

Hotshot crews are hard to come by right now because of the high demand. Please keep this in mind, it is not uncommon for a strike team of engines to form up as a crew, we have done it plenty of times on fires that were lacking crews. I am going to take a guess and say almost half of the personnel on an engine strike team are former hotshots and will not hesitate to punch in some line. We are all different tools in the tool box, but can be used in the same capacity. You be safe also Todd, there have been to many tragedies this season and we are only halfway through it.....

* * * * * * * * *


Can't wait till you get home. I ordered the my Kayak today and it will be shipped within a week and half. Give me a call when you get home, I have your kayak in the engine bay.


8/24 LM,

Easier to buy new stuff than wash it with only one day off! Great deals also on
Jamaica Jaxx shirts and shorts.... didn't think anyone would recognize me with
the new haircut and stubbily goatee...
stay safe!

8/23 Lobotomy:

I'm on the way out the door to a fire assignment, so won't be able to engage for a few, but re. your post about blurring the line between AMR and WFU. The more blurring the better. I hope to live to see the day when the FS is confining Division A, while managing Division D for resource benefit, while suppressing Divisions B & C and leading the fire's edge around a subdivision on Division E.

Sign me,
8/23 Re: The Influence of the FWFSA

For those of you who continue to sit on the fence about joining the FWFSA, or continue to question whether FWFSA actually has the ability to educate congress and influence the FS, I offer the following memo from Chief Dale Bosworth dated yesterday:

From:    Dale Bosworth/WO/USDAFS
To:        pdl wo chief NLT@FSNOTES
Sent by: Kathleen A Clemens
Date:     08/22/2006, 07:42 AM
Subject: This year's fire season

I am concerned about the seriousness of this year’s fire season. In
addition to the protection of life, property and resources, and the safety
of those involved in fire suppression, I am also concerned about mounting
costs and the threat of fire funding transfers. I have asked Kent
Connaughton, Associate Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry, to
serve as the Forest Service’s comptroller to monitor and oversee our
efforts to manage suppression expenditures.

Kent will monitor daily changes in costs and the associated fire situation
for the rest of the fire season. You can expect that he will confer with
you and others involved in suppression to help me better understand how we
are managing those fires and their associated costs, and to help our budget
and finance folks answer questions posed by Congress, OMB and the

I expect that each of you be especially careful to evaluate cost
containment as an objective in your suppression strategies. Please ask
your Forest Supervisors and Rangers to do the same.


As Mr. Judd recently said, the FWFSA has the FS on its heels. Now is not the time to be content with watching a few fight the fight for all of us. Join the FWFSA. For those members like myself who have benefited financially from the FWFSA's success in eliminating the OT pay cap a few years ago, I'd encourage you to double your dues as I have.

Sure, a 12 pack is nice once in a while, but since dues are about the same, I'll skip the beer for a while.


8/23 Ab,

I have heard that the Forest Service does not have to say how much it is
spending on outsourcing studies. As I understand it, there is a cap on how
much can be spent, but there is no way to find out if the FS is staying
under that cap. Does anyone know for sure if this is true?


8/23 Todd and others:

It is my understanding CDF crews can spike out, and handle any terrain. They don't require supervision by corrections officers except when in camp, although the officers will go out to the line when then can get to the line easily. The fire camp issue can cause problems when in small, remote fire camps don't have adequate room for some separate areas for the crews to bed down.

I also heard very positive comments about the LA crews. The LA crews ended up on a fire after being rejected from several others because they are inmates. When there are 100 orders for a resource of which only 50 exist, should we be open to other solutions? From everything I have heard and seen, CDF crews could have handled this type of assignment.

8/23 Local Gov't Slug

Engines aren't what we need. Fires are in roadless and wilderness. And take a look at the terrain:

We need hotshot crews. A number of those assigned to norcal fires will be timing out soon if you can go by when they started their 2 week assignment. I hope someone will be tracking how many hs crews are really available to fill in.

A Question: Do CDF convict crews coyote out for 72 hours at a time in the smoke? The trails are very steep... I think it's more a matter of matching resource (with constraints on living conditions, security, overhead supervision, etc) to demands dictated by fire behavior, terrain, smoke inversion, etc than anything else.

I did hear from a friend early in the month that the 2 LACo convict crews were exemplary on the Bake Oven fire: they cut 7 miles of containment line in the Trinity Wilderness in a day. It was less smoky. They were further back from the fireline. Good job.

Be safe,


8/23 Oliver,

The LLC has now posted 9 parts of the Sundance Fire report, for a total of
about 100 mb. Attached are a couple pictures we've extracted so far: one of
the bridge and one of the dozer. Maybe by the 30th anniversary we'll get
the whole thing posted as an .phpl web version.

CJ - we're awfully wet with all the monsoon rain, but not complaining
(nobody would listen if we did.)

vfd cap'n


Sundance Fire, Kaniksu NF, Idaho,1967

8/23 LM,

Yes Killer is in Redding area. he is flying ATGS
on the Bar Complex, been here about a week.


8/23 Newton, can't disagree with the points you made in your post. I will add a thought that if there were more career fire fighters in the system we would see more of them on IMT's. The understaffing at District levels with fire jobs left open has a cause and effect that is measurable to the present situation of what is available to be used as a "National" resource.

The color description was used to make a point about interagency cooperation. I for one could also care less about the color of the vehicle.

Another subject...

vfd cap'n ... Regarding the Sundance Fire...I attended a 390 class in the to mid-70's and the instructor used photographic slides from the Sundance Fire. I recall a picture of a steel bridge all twisted and warped and the discussion about the temperatures needed to do this type of structural de-engineering. Have you came across this photo? If so is it online?

8/23 Hope vdf cap'n and all are safe at Colorado Fire Camp.

BITTER BRUSH: A lightning-caused fire that started yesterday in Moffat county one-half mile south of Maybell. The fire behavior last night was listed as running, rapid rates of spread with fire whirls due to thunder storms and erratic winds. Six engines, two bulldozers and one water tender is assigned. One hundred residences are listed as threatened. 300 acres; 0 % contained

CJ, Strawberry, CA Student and family

8/23 Gizmo wrote: No one cares "if they are "national" resources, or green, yellow, red, or contract....a needed resource is a needed resource..."

Apparently, that's not true. It's my understanding that local government and CDF resources from NorCal were sent to Nevada this week, probably under the new EMAC agreement signed by California. Yet last week engine and overhead orders were UTF in NorCal. Resource orders came back tagged "No Federal Available".

So is it cost that's creating the 19th Watchout? Or is it Fed ego? Likely both. Bluezebra's comments are interesting in light of the fact that most of the California IMTs (Type 1&2) are about 50% local government, largely due to the fact that there isn't any Fed overhead available. I guess local gov't overhead is capable, but engines and crews aren't?

Maybe we should change it to "closest appropriate resource that doesn't cost too much and is willing to do the job the way you think it oughtta be done".

Local Gov't Slug

8/23 RE: Suppression Appropriate Management Response (Control, Contain, Confine)
vs. Wildland Fire Use for Resource Benefit.

I for one, wish they would muddy the line between Suppression and Fire Use.
Both are great tools, and should be available for use on any incident. A
fire is a fire is a fire, and we should have all the tools available to us
at our disposal.....


8/23 re: 19th Watchout Situation

Attached is a small .pdf of a memo written by Edward Cliff, USFS Chief. It is the WO response to the investigation of the 1967 Sundance Fire that killed Luther Rodarte and Lee Collins on the Kaniksu Forest in Idaho.

During the blow-up, the fire traveled 4-1/2 miles over a divide to reach the fatality site, with an energy release every few minutes equivalent to the Hiroshima bomb.

The investigation largely focused on the lack of available radios, which had been ordered. Yet the Chief (who obviously took a personal interest in firefighter safety, as there was no board of review) responded by saying:

"In any case, once a need is recognized and cannot be met, by either primary or alternative means, then we are--never--justified in going forward just as though the need had been fulfilled. No emergency operation changes this policy."

Cliff asked later in the memo:

"Is the failure to adjust more widespread than just this one incident? Is it an indicator of a weakness in the way we operate? Is there a message in this case regarding the issuance of shelters on future fires?"

An answer can be found at Battlement Creek and at South Canyon, among others.

The first half of the Sundance Fire report is available at the Wildfire Lessons Learned Center site, www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/sundance_investigation_1967_part1.pdf

In addition to the above, it is worth downloading and studying as perhaps the first fatality investigation to discuss "adherence" to the Fire Orders, more than 20 years before the Dude Fire. (In honor of those six who died and of Paul Gleason, the Dude report has been re-posted on the Lessons Learned Center database without redactions.)

I can't say enough about the effort this past year by the LLC staff. I especially want to mention the hard work done by John Artley, an intern from the Student Conservation Association. Thanks to Paula, Dave and John.

vfd cap'n

8/23 Killer, was that you at the Redding Costco buying sox?


8/23 Gizmo:

I would like to find out the source of your information that there was "no drawdown" involved.

I was involved in resource ordering during the late July early August timeframe when there were large numbers of new fires in North Ops and Northwest GACCs. There were orders for over 100 IHC crews, and some went unfilled. How many Hotshot crews are there nationally? I think the number is 50, but it is certainly considerably less than the number ordered. California was down to 2 Hotshot crews left, both in South Ops area. I think that is called drawdown. Every Forest in North Ops area was at 50% or less of Engines on Forest.

When the ICs in California were asked if they would accept CDF Type 1 crews and local government Type 3 engines, the response was "only if they are real Type 1 crews" and "if they know how to fight fire". That was from a Type 1 Federal IC, made in the presence of at least 20 people. One IAP clearly stated only Federal Type 1 crews can do firing operations safely. As a result, the orders to CDF and local government were few and far between for the first few days. Be aware, however, the Panther Fire, the smallest of the individual fires/complexes in the North Ops area, was almost exclusively a CDF managed and staffed fire.

During my assignment, 25 Type 2 crews were flown to California from Alaska, Southern and Southwest GACCs. At least 20 other crews I am aware of were flown to Northwest and Northern Rockies. ALL orders for Type 2 crews in California were filled. A number of contract Engines (I think 20 or 25) were brought to California, filling all orders from the fires. (Orders on prepositions were filled later.)

8/22 Nice new team page for SoCal Team 1 on the Type 2 teams page. Ab.
8/22 NorCal Tom,

Dale Longanecker is so right in his observations. This year, there is (if not in previous years) a 19th Situation to Watch Out.

Dale observed a lack of resources being dispatched to his fire from "someone". That failure is happening again this year. That "someone" needs to get their a** kicked and educated about wildland fire before someone gets hurt.

Nobody knows who this "someone" is, but everybody (firefighters) recognizes that critical resources are available but not being utilized properly as requested. Federal, state, and contract resources are sitting at their home units and not being utilized in a most efficient manner even though Fire Managers are making them available for dispatch.

No one gives a rat's <behind> if they are "national" resources, or green, yellow, red, or contract....a needed resource is a needed resource... ... that is a 1970-1980's term that only had to do with direct funding to units (forests, units, and districts) prior to NFMAS and FPA..... A true wildland fire manager only wants the appropriate resource needed to get the job done safely and accomplish the mission and could care less about "old school" terms such as "national resource"... or how it could be interpreted by the new folks.

During the recent (and on-going) NorCal fires, resource requests for single resource Type 1 and Type 2 IA Crews, and Type 3 Engine Strike Teams went unfilled even though ROSS, and WildWeb showed that resources were available throughout the WEST without any drawdown. Phone calls to Dispatch Centers and DFMOs confirmed availability. Supposed "national resources" (Crews, Tankers, and Helos) sat on their home units waiting for "someone" to make a decision..

"Somehow", neither the State or Contract available resources were queried, nor were any resources from outside of the general area of concern.

I agree... there is still the term "National Resource" out there.... the term died some 10 years ago but is still used by some..... Anything funded by the federal government is a national resource, it just depends upon the level of control whether Local, Forest, Province, Region, or NICC gets involved.

Hopefully, "someone" will wake up and smell the coffee......

8/22 Howdy gang,

Hearing about understaffed fires and the increased risks to F/F's prompted the following thoughts. Prior to my job in firefighting I worked in Pvt. Industry. When we didn't have the proper crew or tools to do the job we would go into "slow down mode" and plan out our day so we could do the job we were requested to do and not hurt anyone. Now some out there may say that firefighting does not compare with what I did in the pvt. sector, but hear me out. If you don't have the resources to meet the days plan, step back and rethink what your doing. Maybe you have to rewrite the plan. Don't push your folks into situations that increase the risk of an already risky job. Upper level management would try and push and intimidate and jump up and down to get their way but, when you feel it's unsafe to assign the tactics that you are ordered to do, don't do it.

As a F/F and now a chief officer my #1 job is to keep my folks safe. As a line officer or Crew chief on a fire your #1 job is to keep your folks safe. As a F/F your #1 job is to keep yourself and your brother/sister F/F's safe. Putting out the fire or saving someone else's butt is just something we do because we're there.

Yes, it's that easy folks. Don't let your pride or whatever it is let you get yourself into a situation that turns out tragic. Once your injured, your injured, once your burned, your burned. Once you're dead....


8/22 Re Natural Resources:

To Oliver-

Of course we will hold onto our IA resources if we can (based upon our
perceived needs). And yes our priorities are almost always initial attack
as opposed to large fire support. And yes we need to all come home safe
and sound in the knowledge that we did the best we could with what we had,
using sound risk management principles.

But we also need to look hard at local vs. national needs. When it comes
down to it WE ARE ALL national resources. The folks of Colorado should be
able to use us, just as much as those of California. They have all paid
for us.

With regard to speaking our minds- we should - with the knowledge that we
speak for ourselves and not any particular agency (that's what PAOs are

Do we make mistakes -Yes. The public needs to know that we are human, that
we deal with complex issues every day. I have a little secret that just
may surprise us all,
some people will never trust "The Government", some people don't like "The
Government" and will always doubt our collective ability to manage

Our job is to be honest/open and work hard every day to redeem our public
trust. We owe it to the public to speak our minds, with the knowledge that
everyone has an opinion and a point of perspective.- some more credible
than others. We work within complex organizations that have a distinct
mission. Sometimes we speak in rough, uncivilized terms, sometimes we
speak in unfathomable jargon. The public who tune into this forum should
hear both, knowing that we are a diverse collection of human beings and not
merely faceless bureaucrats who spout all the right words and say
absolutely nothing. I'm glad that you had the pleasure of working with a
competent IMT made up of "land managers or past land managers who have
moved to fire staff positions". Some day the land management agencies
should try out the strange notion of moving competent career fire managers
into land manager positions like District Rangers, District Managers and
Forest Supervisors. Perhaps the Director/Chief/Regional Foresters and
other leaders would soon discover that the same qualities of meeting all
the prescribed objectives and providing for the leadership and direction
for a safe work assignment in difficult terrain, fuels and (political mine
fields) can be accomplished just as effectively by a career fire
professional as by a forester, engineer or person of any other background.

As a taxpayer and a professional wildland firefighter I don't even see
White, Red and Green vehicles. I see the tools of the best trained and
equipped fire suppression/management organization that the world has ever
known. We should be proud of that and prove our worth every day. That
means coming home in one piece.

Newton Smokesucker III

8/22 Ab,

I finally caught up with Lobsterman’s post on They Said. While I don’t want to start or contribute to a negative exchange I do think that in the interest of fairness the other side of the story is should be shared. Perhaps it will soothe some feelings.


While I cannot speak for the Logistic Section of CDF Incident Command Team 7, I‘d like to offer to an inside explanation for what seemed to you to be poor treatment while you were assigned to the Quail Fire.

It is a standard practice on CDF Team 7 to place the federal resources on a sixteen hour shift even when the rest of the incident is working on a twenty-four hour operational cycle. This is done because we recognize it creates certain advantages for both the federal resources as well as the Operations Section. Unfortunately the support for this modified shift pattern can sometimes be lagging, especially in the early phases of the fire when logistics is ramping up. I know that on the second day of the Quail Fire, the Logistic Sections was aware of the two federal strike teams situation and was striving to rectify the situation. I personally heard them trying to find hotel rooms for at least one of the federal strike teams and was under the impression that they were being so accommodated. Likewise I also heard them trying to accommodate a CDF strike team that, after they were sent in from the line early, was being placed in a similar situation to yours; sleeping on the lawn in a rather crowded camp.

The unfortunate truth is that there are not a heck of a lot of good sleeping areas in Southern California, especially between Gorman and Lancaster (this is one of the reason why the CDF union pushed so hard for motel rooms instead of a pay raise fifteen some odd years ago). Had the team had the fire beyond the two operational periods I am certain the situation you describe would have been rectified and an Agency Rep would probably been assigned as well.

I can say with absolute certainty that you were not poorly treated because of your agency. We consider the federal resources a valuable tool in our tool box and make every effort to treat them as such. On the Quail Fire, both USFS strike teams performed with the same professionalism that we know as their standard. I hope that you will recognize that situation that occurred should not be considered as an affront to your agency but instead was just one of those less than optimum situations we all have experienced on an incident at one time or another regardless of agency affiliation.

8/22 Re: Suppression Appropriate Management Response (Control, Contain, Confine) vs. Wildland Fire Use for Resource Benefit.

Over the last two months, it has become apparent that some Forest Service agency administrators (line officers) have blurred Suppression Appropriate Management Response (AMR) and WFU together resulting in some very significant safety problems in the field.

Suppression AMR and WFU are two separate tools and aren't to be used interchangeably. In fact, Forest Service policy states that fires can only be managed in two ways: 1) Suppression (AMR), or 2) Wildland Fire Used for Resource Benefit. Policy makes it very clear that only one of the two strategies can be followed.

FSM 5103.2
"1. Only one management objective will be applied to a wildland fire. Wildland fires will either be managed for resource benefits or suppressed. A wildland fire cannot be managed for both objectives concurrently. If two wildland fires converge, they will be managed as a single wildland fire."

I am concerned that this blurring of these two distinct management objectives / strategies is increasing the risks to wildland firefighters exponentially this year. With the increased emphasis on cost containment and the need to return fire upon the land, I have a gut feeling that some of the basics that fire managers learned in the past are being overlooked (countermanded) by land managers who do not have experience in fire or risk management. The basics are: 1) Minimize the risk(s), and 2) Minimize the exposure to the risk(s).

When there is a blurring of Suppression AMR strategies with those of WFU, you increase the risks, increase the types of exposures, and increase the lengths of exposure that wildland firefighters must endure. Add in the increased risks to the public and the communities when these strategies are blurred, and then you have a problem that must be addressed.

As policy states, fires should be either suppressed by appropriate management response or used for resource benefit... Unfortunately, this is not always happening.

No parent or spouse should ever have to be told that their loved one was killed, injured, or had to deploy fire shelters on a wildfire "used for resource benefit" or on a suppression fire that had underlying resource goals from the land managers who did not understand the risks of wildland fire suppression.

Dale Bosworth said it best last week,

"As fires continue to rage throughout the western states, we are reminded that firefighting is a dangerous business. No piece of land or anyone's home is worth the loss of life. Our firefighters' and the public's safety is and always will be our first priority."

Mellie, add Dale Bosworth to your list for people to "poke the stick at"... His words are heard and seen in the press, but his actions in reducing risks have yet to be seen by the wildland firefighter community or the public.

Mellie, as you know, Doctrine is not just an idea, it is a well proven principle for safety. Hopefully some of the other folks who have had a "stick poked at them" will come out of hibernation and re-focus on the ultimate goal.... wildland firefighter and public safety.

Sorry for the rant.


Disclaimer. - When used properly, both the Suppression AMR and WFU can decrease the risks to wildland firefighters. Like most tools, if they are used improperly or not used as intended, they are hazardous to the non-educated, non-experienced, or fatigued users. When used improperly, they result in increased risks to wildland firefighters and the communities they protect.

8/22 Ab,

Below is some info about a benefit auction for a dozen Colorado VFD's in the
Hayman Fire area.

vfd cap'n


If you or any of your guitar pickin' friends would like to show support for
some of our small local fire departments and perhaps bid on some nice
signed guitars (auction runs through Sept. 4) please check out the following
links and pass the word.

8/22 Re El Cariso IHC reunion plans:

Buddy Vandiver

Please send me your list of former El Cariso Hotshot members.
I will be assembling the master list, I guess.
doug @ dougsfire.com

Thanks Buddy
Doug Campbell

8/22 Mellie,

I'm also concerned about the outsourcing, experience levels and how they effect wild fire suppression efforts and fire fighter safety. The experience gap widens with every lost suppression dollar and FF position. Add retirements and career changes and the gap turns into a chasm. Will outsourcing become the abyss?

As you know contract resources on larger incidents need more mid level fire managers (STLC and TFLD) to make sure the work product we are paying for actually gets done. The more inexperienced contractors need more supervision and vice versa. The question for leadership is where will these mid level fire line managers positions come from if we continue to outsource? A FF becomes a TFLD.... A TFLD becomes a DIVS... DIVS becomes OSC... and so on.

Oliver...be safe

Other Stuff:

I'm still not sure a National Fire Service is the answer. First I don't know the organizational structure proposed and secondly I'm a fix it don't re-invent it sort of person.
The arguments for and the points made for change are strong but I just can't jump onto the bandwagon yet. I'm hopeful leaders will emerge from the Federal and State levels to design a way to resurrect and re-tool the fire service programs managed by the Federal Agencies and within those State Agencies that have gone down the same path to outsourcing and reduced readiness and suppression dollars.

There are bright intelligent fire fighters waiting in the wings for their chance to lead suppression efforts at local levels and on large incidents. To interrupt this flow of experienced agency FF's with outsourcing will be an expensive lesson learned in the near

What are the options to a National Fire Service?

Will a National Fire Service cause less dollars at the State Level with loss of grant dollars?

Would smaller interagency geographical areas (if the disparity in pay was addressed) help? There are already some success stories with interagency engines and fire staff.

I don't know the answers and I'm still trying to get my arms wrapped around all of the questions but I still think the most important message posted here by others is to make sure you engage yourself properly and safely despite the draw down of resources, mix of resources and shortage of experience. I think Mellie posted a great message several weeks ago about this issue. It would be worth the re-read.

Oliver...be safe

8/22 GG Fire,

I'll let you make up your own mind on Harbour. I should have added
"who have heard him speak and seen him in action."


8/22 Should There Be a Nineteenth Watchout Situation?

Dale Longanecker, survivor of the South Canyon Fire, concluded in his official statement to the Fire Investigation Team:

"I would make another Situation that Shouts Watchout!: When you don't receive the resources that you need or are debating with the dispatcher about the resources that you need. (We) needed more of everything on this fire. Dispatch didn't want them to use retardant. (They) wouldn't give us more than one helicopter."

NorCal Tom

8/22 Oliver,

I doubt there is any way to scientifically answer your question about how
many posters have doubt in our collective ability to manage fire now and
in the future. I CAN say that many of us agency fire professionals can
see the writing on the proverbial cave wall. All one has to do is try to
wrap a normally intelligent mind around the concept of outsourcing to know
that we are in mortal danger of falling into the rabbit hole. Never mind
that a huge amount of experience is disappearing as the boomers retire
and now we are once again fighting declining fire budgets in the "field"
(yes it is true, the money is vanishing before getting to the forests and

And on top of that most of us up and down the food chain are trying to do
the best we can with more than half our limbs chained to a pile of paper
so heavy we can't find the forest for the trees, so to speak.

As for the private citizens reading our posts, I hope they perceive the
truth: they are paying more for less with ideas like outsourcing, and
yes, our collective ability to manage fire now and in the future is
definitely crumbling away at a steady pace.

In spite of it all we are hanging on by our toenails for now with everyone
doing their best... and I will say, I am proud of the job we do for the
taxpayers. But I for one will not soft pedal what is going on with the
national land management agencies and this forum is the perfect place to
sift through it all, opinions, facts and nitty gritty.

By the way, I agree with the east coast engine folks that feel
under-utilized while the west burns up. I am willing to go to drawdown
levels on my district to help others. If everyone stayed home to be
available for IA who would be available to help on the big fires? We
should be fighting the fire we have, not hanging on to resources out of
fear for something that might happen.

Sign me,
The Cheshire Cat on Night Shift
8/22 Mellie:

Thanks for trolling for a response from Mr. Rey or equivalent but I do believe he has more important things to do...like help Sen. Burns through a conference call about federal wildland firefighters!

Don't know Ed that well, but it appears in order to attain whatever position he may be after, the toeing of the company line will continue.

The idea of a separate and distinct federal wildland fire organization has been discussed at a variety of levels for nearly 20 years along with the call for proper classification.

The FWFSA was established in 1991 shortly after Fire Business Management Task Groups in 1988 & '89 recommended the establishment of a new wildland firefighter series. Despite the findings from these groups, the Agency (primarily the Forest Service) has steadfastly refused to prepare for the 21st century with respect to its fire management program and the policies that apply to its firefighters.

We are now fortunate enough that Congress has finally heeded our call for a new classification series by introducing legislation mandating OPM create a new series to more accurately reflect the duties performed by our wildland firefighters.

In 1995 the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) did a cursory review and report on the feasibility of a separate and distinct federal wildland fire service. Due in large part to the fact that the only data and feedback they sought was from the Agency and not firefighters doing the work, OMB concluded at the time such a separate service wasn't necessary.

Odd...the same problems being discussed now were discussed 20 years ago and what's been done? Nary a thing by the Agencies. Reported in 1989:

Regarding the establishment of a new wildland firefighter series:
  • Recognition of wildland firefighting as an occupation with subsequent improved self-esteem
  • Better recognition of the KSAs required by the complexities of todays fire management situation
  • Many FS firefighters get their training with us (FS) and then go to work for other agencies with better compensation
  • The existing GS-462 standards do not adequately reflect the KSAs, training, education & physical requirements of wildland firefighters

In 1990 a letter from the R5 Fire & Aviation Management to OPM regarding the draft GS-400 series standards stated that the majority of firefighting positions within the GS-462 Forestry Technician series could not be adequately classified under proposed standards. The letter proposed that the Forest Service consider an alternative wildland firefighter series.

Again, with regards to responses on this from Mark Rey, as long ago as August of 1999, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that "Funding for wildfire preparedness falls short of identified needs." Now, not only is the funding short, what's left is being diverted to non-fire projects. Gee, wonder if Mr. Rey has a red card...???

According to the GAO, consistently, "the Agencies receive 15% less than the amount of funds determined to be needed by the budget planning process..." Why? Because the political appointed leaders of the Agencies don't want to risk that appointment by discarding the Administration's proposed budgets in favor of asking Congress for what they really need to fund all of their projects. The same is true today.

Also in the 1995 GAO report: "FS & BLM indicate the firefighting workforce is getting older and nearing retirement age. If these firefighters are not replaced, the agencies will not have enough qualified individuals to fill critical fire management positions. This situation could have a direct impact on firefighter safety."

Hmm, anyone try to hire in R5 lately? Know of any highly intelligent Workforce Planning Groups (Colorado) who, despite recruitment & retention problems are proposing the abolishment of fire positions?

So Mellie, let's face it... it is all BS politics. You've got Agency leaders failing our firefighter every step of the way. You've got politicians who need to be pushed up against a wall and asked "why are you not listening to the FWFSA and our firefighters?"

But, what else to do but play politics right back. And as far as I know, the FWFSA is the ONLY organization in the Nation doing just that. Not being bullied by Mark Rey and his arrogance and not resting until members of congress are not only educated about what's going on, but actually DO SOMETHING...

It ain't easy. Lord knows I pull my hair out at the lack of action in Washington or their disbelief that complex problems have relatively simple fixes. All I can say is that those who occasionally call upon others to stand up and fight need to know we are fighting... each and every day, competing with far larger organizations with much greater revenue. If you truly want to have your voice heard, if you truly want to be a part of a movement that first brought the elimination of the overtime pay cap for wildland firefighters in 1999 and has now got portal to portal & proper classification in its crosshairs... and who will be crafting legislation next session to bring hazard pay to those while on prescribed burns and basic health benefits for temporary firefighters, then don't sit idly by and complain.

I will tell you this... I am convinced we have the FS on their heels but the voice has to get stronger and louder. Progress is slow, but progress it is. Anyone who has been to DC and dealt with that group knows that getting things done and navigating through that system is not for the weak or timid.

Let us work for you too...

Casey Judd
Business Manager

8/22 I don't think a federal wildland fire dept. is the answer. If you think
it'd be exempt from the politics, you're crazy, just take a look at homeland
security and FEMA. I for one got into this business because I wanted to
be involved in resource management. Fighting fire was a large part of
that, but so are the resource projects, like thinning, prescribed fire, and
even stacking sticks.

Somewhere along the line the Federal agencies have changed. Used to be
line officers were involved and experienced in fire, and fire fighters
were involved in all aspects of resource management. Nowadays most
firefighters would rather be firemen and not involved in resource projects
at all, and most line officers would prefer to wash their hands of fire
suppression. I think the 2 problems feed on themselves and have a
causative effect on each other.

My goal is to work with the young folks who are going to be line officers
someday. Giving them the background and experience they need in Fire. And
likewise working with our firefighters, to gain them a respect for the
resources we protect and manage. Many of our firefighters still insist,
that they need to be firemen, and don't want to be involved in resource
management in any way or form. My advice to them, is seek employment

8/22 Mellie,

So...let's discuss the plus/minus of an independent fire agency, serving all agencies. Some thoughts:

FPA takes a look at interagency "most efficient" organization, so sharing resources is obviously viable.

Independent? From what? Do we not want the "fire agency" to be respondent to the needs of the affected land management agency? Surely fire "management" is more than "put the wet stuff on the red stuff".

Where will we get the coordination between resource management and fire use/control? Will all "fire use" be taken away from resource agencies or just wildland fire?

If we accept that there is no money tree, what are the additional costs of eliminating the "militia"? They're pretty cost effective; their pay comes from other programs when not working on a fire.

Safety? How's the record of states, counties, cities that have "stovepipe" fire organizations?

Outsourcing? IF ... we can create an independent organization that is not tied to resource management, but only has the objective of extinguishing wildland fires, then why not have that organization be a private contractor?

At this time, I'm still of a mind that we need to keep fire management as a part of our holistic approach to overall land management ... but I agree it is a topic worthy of discussion. I hope that discussion can focus on the big picture and not get dragged down to "well, I've been on engines for 5 seasons, and that's all I ever want to do".

Old Fire Guy
8/22 Doug and Gordon,

There are 8 of us Mississippians who are 1961-1962 graduates of the Campbell-King
school of Fire Fighting who would sincerely be interested in a El Cariso reunion. I have
a list of most of the crew members for those years.

Richard “Buddy” Vandiver
8/22 AB,
A friend from Boise directed me to your website. Please post this;

As the one-year anniversary of Hurrcane Katrina, August 29th, approaches I
wanted to pass along some thoughts to the Wildland Fire Community in general
and to all of those who responded to Mississippi in particular: Thank you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you did for us.
For those who don't know, the USFS was tasked by FEMA to manage a large
staging area at the Stennis Space Center to support the six southern counties
in MS. The area was totally devastated. California 3 arrived at the same
time as a task force from Florida led by FL Division of Forestry. They
formed a Unified Command and began sharing resources. I was assigned as an
agency representative to close the gap in communication between MS and the
other responders. It was a joy to work with so many people who had their act
together and who knew how to achieve an objective.

At one point, the Secretary of Agriculture paid a visit. He had lunch with
the overhead and some of the crews. He was given a briefing on what had been
accomplished, how smoothly the warehouse and staging area were being managed,
and the general success of the operation. But I told the Secretary there was
more than that. Yes, the teams and crews had run a warehouse, staging area
and points of distribution in a very efficient and businesslike way. But the
product that they were delivering was life. Life itself. The death toll was
high enough, but without the uncontaminated food and clean, safe drinking
water that went through Stennis, thousands more may have died. As it was;
there was no cholera, no dysentery, no epidemics of any sort. None of the
horror that follows natural disasters in other parts of the world. The
wildland fire community had the skills necessary to get things done. After
all, y'all invented ICS.

As I said, it was my joy to work with teams led by Jeanne Pincha-Tulley,
Allen Johnson, and Dave LaFave as well as Wayne Jones, David Utley, Winnie
Schrieber and John Koehler from Florida. There was no way for me to meet all
of the crews; y'all didn't hang around the ICP very long. You had work to
do. And y'all did it well. (In spite of the humidity, fire ants, love bugs,
red bugs and mosquitoes.)

As you go about your dangerous work this year, you don't need another person
telling you to stay safe. But remember this: last year, you saved more than
trees. You saved people, lots of people. While most of those people never
knew who you were, there are those of us who will never forget the heroes in
the green pants.

Jasper Welsch
MS Emergency Management Agency
8/22 Mellie:

In your post to Bump you said "It's pretty clear to all what Harbour has done..."
Could you be more specific? It's not clear to me at all, one way or the other.

Sign me,

8/21 -J, you said,

"National resources I know of are: Interagency Hotshot Crews, Type 1 and 2 helicopters, Large Airtankers, Smokejumpers. I'm sure there are more, but the earlier post ranting about FMO's not understanding that engines are a national resource is mistaken. Read your mobilization guide: there is no such thing as a "national resource" engine."

You are absolutely correct! The mob guides do only identify those resources as NR.

However, do I not travel across the country year after year, at the drop of a dime to do my part to protect the People and Resources of our great country? Do you think that I need some document on a shelf to tell me that I am a "National Resource?" I realize that there is more to it in order to be classified as a NR. Let me ask you this, why are they not classified as a NR? Are they not a resource that can be utilized across the country? One last comment... I would imagine that you are also in that group that considers that an Engine Module / Crew as not being a Type 1 resource (Just what percent of fires are Initially Attacked by an Engine Crew?). Hmmmm... Just some food for thought...

As far as I am concerned we are all "National Resources."

However, I think that we should look at the problem not argue over definitions...

Fact: There are fires burning. There are resources not being utilized. And the woods are in sad shape, people, this will not get better for a long time...

Ta' (The un-registered "National Resource")

8/21 Bump,

Just a historical note:

Yactac and others on this forum and lurking here began advocating some years ago
that fed fire should be reorganized to be a national professional wildland fire department
independent of the land management agencies. Seems some one of them, maybe Don
Studebaker, told me the idea had come up a long time before folks on this forum
started throwing it around.

For the "Commanders Intent" type of change in Fire Doctrine to work smoothly,
a streamlined fire organization seems logical. I wish Ed Hollenshead was still pursuing
that idea. Seems like with his move to Acting R5 Chief the whole movement for a change
in FS Doctrine has gone down the tubes. From what I can see Mark Rey demonstrates
no interest in the idea. It's pretty clear to all what Harbour has done... and the person
who took over when Alice retired is all for outsourcing, I've heard. I would really
love it if someone would correct me on any of this. Bunch of BS politics.

All I gotta say is why is everyone taking this lying down??? Not a leader among ya?
not among the WO types? Just waiting til your time is up and you retire?

I got my stick. <poke poke at that hornet's nest>

Mark? Ed? anyone home?


Oliver, given the current outsourcing process we're engaged in, I am concerned about our
ability to manage fire SAFELY in the future. We just won't have the experienced professional
next-generation firefighters to do it. It takes a much shorter period of time to dismantle a
system in which people are moving up in a pipeline of classroom training and OJT than it
does to start the process over. Those who leave go to other professions.

8/21 To Ta',

Been seeing the need for a federal wildland fire department for many years
due to exactly what you said, Non-Fire trained managers, politicians, etc.
Been seeing the need and saying it too. Glad to see someone else on board,
wish a whole lot more would get there because the current situation is
getting worse and it is shouting watch out.

Bump Pulaski
8/21 Got it, thanks OA. Mellie
8/21 I will always hold the number of engines needed for IA on the District and will turn down requests for additional engines for out of Area/District fire assignments based on current and predictable District suppression needs. To do otherwise would add substance to the rhetoric that land management agencies cannot manage a fire program. This has been a long year for fire fighting resources. Lets keep our focus on safe missions regardless of resources assigned or unassigned. Are there areas for improvement within agencies and at interagency levels? Yes... I believe there are always lessons to be learned.

My concern is this ... If a private citizen reads some of the more recent posts on this forum could they come away with some doubt as to our collective ability to manage fire now and in the future? And if so how many posters have this doubt?

Discussions are always a good way to flesh out a topic of concern. For me, reading the posts on They Said is both an educational and entertaining endeavor. Perhaps another way to generate discussions about engine placements or any other subject is to ask a question without the Op ed... The time to post your opinion might be after you read the responses from other readers...just a thought.

On another note...I've had the recent pleasure of being assigned as an Agency Administrator and working with an Interagency IMT. This team is largely made up of land managers or past land managers who have moved to fire staff positions. The IMT performed their duties with a high degree of confidence and professionalism. They met all objectives and provided leadership and direction for a safe work assignment in difficult terrain and fuels. White, Red and Green vehicles are a great color combination around any ICP.

Oliver ...Be Safe
8/21 The very best chow in my opinion was at the last Big Bar Fire '99.

Denny Camp had a pit Barbeque going most nights. Ribs, roasts, steaks, huge salads, lemon meringue pie, etc --- it was the best line chow in 20 years of fire camps. They even would set up flower arrangements for us, wildflowers with a bit of those red three leaf branches thrown in. Later the arrangements had to be flagged off with yellow tape - too many people allergic to poison oak! Everyone wanted to be out in Denny just for the food. Wish I could remember the caterer.

No moniker (send one in?)

8/21 Ab:

n Aug. 19, 2006, CDF NEU responded to a 30+ acre fire in timber and oak woodlands near Rollins Lake. (see the Hot list forum). During this fire, a fire engine suffered “significant damage” during a roll over. Fortunately, no firefighters were injured since the engine was unstaffed. The engine was parked at a house providing structure protection when it apparently rolled over or around the chock block, down a hill for about 200 feet and then onto the driver’s side. This is all preliminary information, and I will post the update as soon as I get it.

The thing to remember is that all of us firefighters have been running hard for the last few months and we still have a few more to go. We are starting to see crews “time out” on current fires while new large fires keep breaking out on a daily basis. That’s not counting the daily IA fires that we all have. Our crews are starting to get tired. Simple mistakes and “cutting corners” will start to show. The safety advisor by NWCG regarding “Extreme Fire Behavior” is proving itself true. Even the little 3-5 acres fires are showing this type of fire behavior.

I think the last statement in the NWCG’s warning hit the nail on the head: “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.”


8/21 To revisit an old topic, Montana's Senator Burns:
Here's a link to a revealing video clip from a viewer.

A link to a Senator Burns video dated August 3rd on www.youtube.com, as he wraps up a conference call with Montana press about his remarks to firefighters in the Billings airport.

From Roll Call:

During the call, a Department of Agriculture official based in Montana rushed to Burns' rescue and took over answering questions about firefighting efforts in Montana. When the official, Undersecretary Mark Rey, stopped speaking, Burns thanked the reporters for joining the call, and everyone hung up.

Except the video camera was still rolling...

"'That's the way to shut that down,' Burns is seen saying on the tape, a video file of which was e-mailed to HOH. 'Huh? That works!' Then came a 'you bet!' as he put on his white cowboy hat and prepared to get up from his desk."


8/21 AB-

Between runnin and gunnin I have managed to visit your site just to see what the chatter is in the grapevine.

Then I read TA's discussion on the notion of parked engines in obscure places while some other part of the country burns.

Oh course there are many local resources out there who like being local resources just fine. They have all sorts of excuses why they aren't available for repositioning to some other part of the country... Excuses like "Little Jimmy has a bugger flicking contest in Yonkers next December and he would be just heart broken if I missed it", or "Fido has fleas and I have to give him his daily bath", or (fill in the blank). Now I know that some folks do have lives outside of fire and thus legitimate reasons for not being available, but there are lots of engines and crew stuck at home with local priorities that really don't even begin to match up with national needs.

But some local line officer is happy because he/she attains some target accomplishment at the expense of someone else's safety and support in a hellhole/situation that those someones would really liked to have avoided.

I believe that most of the problem lies in the fact that no one really has a good read on the number and types of interagency resources that are available at any given time. Oh yes we have ROSS and our trusty dispatcher/coordination system, but what we really need is one unified national interagency directory that is web based and updated daily if necessary. We need one complete snapshot of the whole nation so that we can fill in the holes where needed.

It should state what each resource is presently committed to and to which some fire god up the food chain would determine "The greatest good" for that resource.

It would state the resource type, the quals of its crew including unique individual quals (like "Good Communication Skills", "Certified Scuba Diver", "Rock Climber", "Rides Harleys", "Speaks French", "Can spit sunflower seeds over a mile", "Plays the banjo" and my favorite "Rocket Scientist.") It would include their phone numbers, their website and their availability. Low Boys/Transport companies would be pre-identified and ready for activation. Throughout the year, each resource would be identified and scheduled for repositioning in the part of the nation where they would be used. I am talking about the complete integration of the emergency and non emergency response system. If you really want to get wacky- a manager in one part of the country could mix and match his specific needs and create a high caliber team from a large pool of individuals (even create a funky punk rock/ska band who's members all happen to be Class C fallers). There's more to the wildland firefighting community than the dry mnemonics found in some computer data base. We are individuals with our own unique skills, expertise and perceptions. Put skilled, diverse people together, give them an objective and watch the results. This is the power of the national firefighting system. The time has come to harness it.

Newton Smokesucker III

8/21 Re: Mellie

My use of the phrase "alleged "best value" fence builders and painters" in my comments was intended only to condense parts of FB's message wherein he alleged agency engines were looking for fences to build or gates to paint and then whether the 'best value' engines were being utilized on the Tripod Complex.

I didn't intend to "allege" anything. One of those "I know what I mean to say", but didn't quite get it written that way. Sorry for the confusion. OA.
8/21 Firecamp and other food stories,

The Bishop outfit (Bar Comlex base camp) has been doing well. They made a breaded and stuffed chicken breast the other night that was very moist n tasty. Good salad options too. Im not much of a sweets eater but their choco cake that night got thumbs up and their mystery er mixed fruit pies were popular all round.

I bet hotshots coyoted out backcountry were getting testy from eating RATS. Hot cans were ditched two nights/three in a row because inversion set in early and helicopters couldn't deliver. Around the same time most of the med folks were timing out. One supt early in the day was trying to retrieve the crew's trauma kit via a helo delivery and asked that a pound of coffee be tucked inside it. More MRE's were delivered long line the next day to various spike camps when the country proved too rugged for even mules to reach several site and the 100' rope wasn't long enough. Those canyons need 150'.

Any other food stories?


8/21 Engines are not national resources.

National resources I know of are: Interagency Hotshot Crews, Type 1 and 2
helicopters, Large Airtankers, Smokejumpers.

I'm sure there are more, but the earlier post ranting about FMO's not
understanding that engines are a national resource is mistaken. Read your
mobilization guide: there is no such thing as a "national resource" engine.

8/20 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
8/20 What a great piece! Thought maybe you could link this on They Said.

"Families Turn to Foundation when Firefighters Killed"
scroll down to the video clip (requires Windows Media Player)



8/20 OA,

You should have added "tongue deeply in cheek" if you meant it that way to your comment...

I know it's not easy for the alleged "best value" fence builders and painters
to stay at home, but their time will come.

Many people do not know your subtle sense of humor like I do. I'd hate for politicians and
those in Washington to think you really think this of our professional wildland firefighters. Or
maybe I'm missing something here?


8/20 TA' ,


The Land Management Agencies have no business "managing" a Fire and Aviation Program in this day and age. What worked well for Mr. Pinchot 100 years ago is no longer working. Lets face it.. Small example... where is the highly touted "doctrine" from the pulaski conference at?? Great ideas with no follow up.

The Fire and Aviation programs n the Land Management Agencies need to be placed into a professional fire program that has "affiliations" or "protection responsibilities" for federal forest / park / bureau / refuges etc..

One Fire and Aviation Qualification Handbook (combined 310-1 & 5190.17) would make sense.. One master with one Commanders Intent.... Novel concept ..

8/20 I would like to thank FB for the comments on Agency engines (or lack there of) on western fires as well as thank AB for your "standard" response. As an Engine Captain for the USFS in R3, I heard the same song and dance regarding Agency engines from my District Ranger, and yes you do have a point. However, lets think about this for a minute...Are there not other regions in this country? Why are we not low-boy'n engines from R8 and R9 as we speak? I, for one, have two T6 engines sitting at my home unit, and I know of about ten (more actually) others setting in NC, GA, FL, and SC.

lets get to the point, shell we?

Why are the Engines sitting here in the east? Ask the District Rangers! Ask the Park Superintendent's! Ask the Regional FMO's! THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN (Or have never known) what it means to be a "NATIONAL RESOURCE" !!!

The fact is ladies and gentlemen, we as federal firefighters DO NOT get the needed support from our "non-fire trained" managers. And the sad fact is we never will!

Why are we as managers, not utilizing the off seasons to send our resources to other regions? Why is it so hard to set up partnerships between NFs, Parks, Refuges, States, and Reservations? DO THE LINES ON THE MAPS ACTUALLY STOP US? Or is it easier to just "do things the way we always have..." I know, I know, shall we hear the standard response on this..."If you did, and then you later became aware of a significant event, such as dry lighting or an arsonist on your home unit....nor can I imagine them wanting to assume incident commander responsibility." I could also add the stuff about the 5109 / 310-1, Agency policy, etc...

Sorry AB... Same song and dance...HEARD YA! Maybe instead of dancing, why don't we fix something for once. Or have we (for personnel and career gain) forgotten what is means to be a wildland firefighter!

The east has utilized "militia" for far to long (I.e. - "hey why don’t we send out our GS-12 'ologist (From the SO no less) instead of our GS-5 firefighter, so that we can save on our budget this year"). This train of thought is actually the first thing that will need to stop. Let fire be fought bY firefighters.

And then (while we are at it)...

STOVE-PIPE FIRE NATIONALLY! Take us out from under the umbrella of the BIA/USFS/USFWS/NPS/State/etc... Create the United States Fire Service (heck, throw in our structural brethren as well) and let us do our jobs!!!! Until we are led by experienced, on-line fire personnel and not politicians, we will never see fire managed the way it should be, as we see it from the line.

8/20 Camp Slug,

Dont forget the "crisp clean" Six Rivers National Forest air!!!

Rogue Rivers
24-Hr Average Concentration (ug/m3) Air Quality Index Air Quality Category Cautionary Statement
>150 - 250 201-300 Very Unhealthy People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.


Date 1-hr Peak/Time 24hr Average Air Quality
8/18/2006 748/1200 220.5 Very unhealthy
8/20 Ab:

I’m sure that all of us have examples of being “treated differently in our eyes” when on a fire, be it large or small. I think the critical issue that was trying to be addressed by “HHU FC” is improper radio terminology. On the fire ground, you keep one ear to the radio and your unit call sign is the key that sets you apart from the rest of the resources. Standard terminology is one of the main components of ICS. When we revert to “non-standard terms”, then a critical message might be missed which could lead to a firefighter injury or death. Basically, it’s a safety issue.


8/19 I know there's lots of scuttlebutt flying around about outsourcing, but looking around at the GACC Sit Reps, I feel like we've already been outsourced. When are they coming to haul the engines off to auction?

A prime example is the TriPod complex. Slightly over 100 engines assigned to the incident, and less than 10 are from any agency, WA DNR, USFS, etc. Yes kids, over 90% of then engines assigned to R6's #1 priority are private. A few phone calls to friends I've made over 10 or so years verified the fact that a number of R6 engines of all colors are driving around home units, looking for roads to brush and gates to paint.

This isn't a rant against private engine folks, but aren't the truly 'best value' engines the one that agencies are already paying for?


I'm no kid, but here are my thoughts. If you were in charge and there were large campaign fires, you could send all your agency initial attack resources to them and basically write them off for who knows how long. If you did, and then you later became aware of a significant event, such as dry lighting or an arsonist on your home unit, you might have a hard time, and appear quite foolish trying to get them back. Regardless, you'd still need to backfill and try to cover stations with other agencies IA resources to replace them. If the cooperating agencies were as lenient as you in sending resources for large fire support, you'd be caught trying to fulfill your IA obligations with the same above mentioned contractors and we know that regardless of how good they are, they can't be (at least where I'm from), nor can I imagine them wanting to assume incident commander responsibility. Think of the increased insurance premiums they'd face and the resulting daily rates.

I have observed that one of the most difficult decisions a fire manager has is to make is how many resources to let go at any given time. I know it's not easy for the alleged "best value" fence builders and painters to stay at home, but their time will come. I also know my 32 years in the business doesn't make me an expert, but I hope when another 10 years has passed, you'll have the wisdom to enlighten your telephone friends on how it all really works. OA

8/19 Okay, A positive note. I think the Orleans Complex camp is one of the best up right now, they have good food, decent sleeping areas in the trees, showers, laundry, is close to town and store, and even t-shirt vendors. It's only a 5 minute walk to the Klamath river, and they even have a computer at the District office to use to apply for vacancies, which are posted in camp. What more could you want? Oh, yeah, lots of hotline and h-pay awaits!! -Camp Slug

Hmmm. Could be hard to beat that quick Internet access too, this reply came just 15 minutes after I posted the last message. OA

8/19 Lobsterman,

I'm sorry to here that your experience on a CDF incident was not a pleasant one for you. Up here in the north we have a very good relationship between all of our cooperators. And anytime an issue arises, we peruse it until there is a agreeable resolution between all parties. I personally witnessed Green engines going to the same accommodations as Red engines on an incident in Central Calif in which CDF made the arrangements for them. If there are mixed strike teams (Red, Green, Yellow etc.) the whole strike team sleeps in the dirt or in a motel.
I agree with you that an Agency Rep or Liaison should have been assigned, and that if that was not happening through the team you should have contacted your home unit for assistance. If you were not the S/T leader that person should have had a more active role in securing sleeping / shower arrangements that were acceptable.
Here are a few reasons that we put inmates in the large tents: California Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation are in charge of the inmates once they come off the Fireline. It is their responsibility to count and provide for their welfare in camp. They cannot observe the inmates if they were in the 2 person tents like most of us use. If they cannot monitor them it becomes an issue. As for the Shower, if you are not getting adequate time and you have no agency rep, there are several people to see. With a lot of inmate crews CDF has a crew tech spec, and also a Dept. of Corrections rep. They would be more than willing to accommodate your needs. If that fails go talk to facilities.
And on a personal note it is a long fire season already with several more months to go we all need to take care of each other and work as one. I find that the more frustrated I get in rough situations that the worse it gets, and that the more relaxed I am in those same situations more good comes from out of it. Good luck lobsterman I hope you come up my way so that your next CDF experience is a great one. Take care, be safe.


Thanks DWD for your considerate response. Having been treated sometimes like a leper and sometimes like a king by many federal and state agencies in fire camps over the years, I eventually realized it all balances out. Sometimes those leper feeling hurt longer and aren't easily forgotten, but they do fade. Now before we begin carrying on with endless memories on how rude we've all been treated in the past, how about we get on to something more positive, like who has the "best" fire camps and who the best caterers or kitchen units are? I say the logistics chiefs, cook units, and caterers don't get enough respect. Let's give credit publicly where it's due! After all, they really can't even advertise themselves in the media and expect it to do any good when they're on a "rotation" basis. OA

8/19 Ab,

Thought I would share this with everyone about my experience on a recent fire, and how badly CDF treated the Forest Service engines assigned. It was the Quail Incident and the dates on it where 8/14 thru16.

To start things off, the inmates at this fire camp had more respect from the CDF team than did the Forest Service firefighters. All the inmate crews had nice sleeping tents with A/C units, set up on the only nice grass field around. The fed engine crews were stuck in the corner of the field, maybe a 100 x 100 area, between generators, outhouses, and all the inmates, for 50 firefighters to sleep.

The shower unit was for the inmates only. CDF overhead said they would shut it down for the feds to use for a half hour, but they just said that, it really never happened. So if you wanted to take a shower, it was like you had to be "special" to wait in the line with the inmates... just to take a shower.

But perhaps the best thing about the whole incident was they would not order a Forest Service Agency Rep for us. Every other department that had resources assigned to the fire had an Agency Rep, except the Forest Service. Since we did not have an Agency Rep there, they where able to treat our engine crews like crap.

So next time I go to a CDF incident, the first thing I am going to do is make sure I have an Agency Rep on scene or in route.


8/19 My heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones this summer. We are losing too many. Every one is one too many. Thanks to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for the helping hand for our families.

I realize FIRE is often an unpredictable force even when people are rested, tuned in to the situation and experienced. Everyone, please be aware that human factors always play a part in decisions and actions taken by humans. With that in mind, be aware that many crews are burned out, having been fighting fire in the SW since spring.

Crews, the OT is good, but please don't let the $$ dictate your decisions to carry on when you should be telling overhead you and your crew need to take a break at your home base. If you need a break, more than a 2 day RnR, demand it. Restore your sleep deficit. Get out of the smoke, clear your lungs. Hug your loved ones. Come back fresher than when you left. Predictions are that we won't have the season-ending rains in R5 and R6 until October. In the past it has been as late as early November.

We are clearly short staffed with firefighters this season, by design it appears to me. Appropriate funds were not requested. Firefighters were not rehired. All you have to do to verify this fact is look at the regional situation reports and the UTF (unable to fill) lists. It's appalling. It's easy to say, "Change the tactics to reflect the understaffed organization." I see that happening to large degree and only hope that it continues, even if "things of value" burn up. Short staffing means we are not building the future professional organization that will have enough Strike Team Leaders, DIVS, Branch Commanders, etc. Oh well, I know I'm preaching to the choir here...

Be safe. Be smart. I love ya all.


8/19 Response to "F" requesting info on the Calabasas Burnover Report.. I was the Lead Investigator on the incident, This report was distributed widely at the time of release, but is now out of print. If you have specific questions feel free to call me at at 760-<snip> or email at jpharris1 @ sbcglobal.net

John JP Harris, LACOFD ret.

Thanks, John. Fred got a copy, but it's good to have your contact info for future reference. I snipped your phone number, but will pass it on to anyone interested. Ab.

8/19 I wrote about a month ago relative to our need for a fire chief (part-time, administrative and/or operations) for our small department in Douglas City (Trinity County), California. Since then we had our own close call with the Junction Fire just west of Weaverville. Our Department was called out to assist in downtown Weaverville when a local eatery caught fire at the same time the Junction Fire was growing so rapidly.

I am a Director on the Community Services Board, which manages funding and acquisitions for the Fire Department. I think I stumbled onto the right site on the first try last month. I've been checking entries since that first submittal, and, while I did get two responses with good ideas about coping with general issues of keeping a volunteer department viable I haven't gotten feedback about where else I might put our situation forward with the hope of attracting a retired or soon-to-be retired chief to our area and our Department. Obviously, this is a long shot, but it never hurts to ask!

We have many terrific recreational choices here among the Trinity Alps, and housing and property costs are still reasonable, relatively speaking. Our current chief just stepped down for health reasons after a year and a half of very important interim service. We are in a rebuilding process with new staff and training, and we just acquired a 1994 Pierce Engine from the Southern Marin Fire Department to add to our arsenal. So, at the risk of rambling and being redundant, I again ask, are there any other web sites, publications or organizations our Board may advertise our Department and our need for a chief? How else might we make our case known? Trinity County has a total population of about 13,000, so it's not like there are a lot idle fire chiefs sitting around looking for something to do.

Any thoughts or ideas will be greatly appreciated and considered. And, from one more source, we'd like to thank all the CDF and Forest Service crews who are still working on the many remote fires still burning in Trinity County and surrounds.


8/19 I am a retired CDF forest ranger/battalion chief (32.5 years) and enjoy visiting your great web site. Why I am writing is that I am now researching into the rock-art (petroglyphs/pictographs) phenomenon and have posted a web page about wildland fire and rock-art sites for those who are concerned about fire damage. I am not sure if you want this type of info but visit my web page, anyway…more info for the fire managers to share with the other folks in their agencies. http://home.comcast.net/~carlbjork/fire.phpl

Great web site…

8/19 I would just like to say that my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and
friends of Mr. Koyle. I would also like to say thank you to all of the rest of
you wildland firefighters who are out there every day and doing this job.

Gods speed,
Be Safe,
8/18 Prayers please for Spencer's family. AH


FILLMORE, Utah (KSL News/AP) -- Today firefighters are mourning the death of one of their own.

Thirty-three-year-old Spencer Koyle died yesterday while fighting a wildfire in Fishlake National Forest in central Utah.

On Thursday, Koyle was working on the fire with about 30 other firefighters. They were building a fire line along a ridge, to help prevent the blaze from heading towards the town of Oak City. Suddenly, the wind direction changed, trapping Koyle inside the blaze. Koyle was unable to escape.

Robert Dekker, Millard County Sheriff: "Evidently the winds changed in a drastic measure, and the fire just became violent. Those that were assigned to look at it advised their crews to move, get out, evacuate. All of the firefighters, about 30, were able to do that, with the exception of the victim , and evidently the fire overtook him. "

<snip> Please click the link to read the rest. Ab.

8/18 From Firescribe:

A nice memorial to Spencer


8/18 I worked with Spencer daily at Fillmore as a SEAT pilot. I saw him every
morning at briefings, and spoke with him often in person and on the radio.
A fine individual and firefighter, he will certainly be missed. I'm no
longer in Fillmore, but heard the news this morning when a former SEAT
manager called me for information about the fatality. I'm saddened to hear
of it, and wish Spencer's family, and his extended family in the fire
service, all my sympathy and support. God Bless.

Mike Maloney
8/18 Message from Canada:

Good afternoon:

I've been following your site off and on for the last few months and just
wanted to say, thanks for providing such a well informed forum and link to
events that are happening south of 49th. A lot of issues and events that
occur down there are similar to events and concerns that happen here.
Always nice to have another source of information.

Anything I can provide from up here, just drop me a note or call.

Leo Drapeau
Safet1y Program Coordinator

When it comes to Safety Remember...
"The Life You Save..... May be Your Own."

Welcome Leo and thanks. It's good to have contacts that we can occasionally call on for information or to verify or dismiss a rumor. Likewise, if you have a question for theysaiders or otherwise, feel free to contact us. Ab.

8/18 "The families of Mike, Quin, Lillian, and Monica have requested that in lieu
of flowers, they would like donations sent to the Foundation."

We wanted to clarify for the families, as they have been specific about
their wishes.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks, Melissa. Ab.

8/18 From Firescribe, another wildland firefighter death (FIF unit):

Salt Lake Tribune

Firefighter trapped in blaze after wind shifted, officials say
Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune

The firefighter who died in Millard County on Thursday was caught in the blaze after becoming separated from his crew when the wind shifted, his family and officials said Thursday.

Spencer S. Koyle, 33, of Holden, died on the Devils Den wildfire, about 3 miles east of the town of Oak City, about 100 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

"He just got trapped in it, basically," Koyle's sister-in-law, Shelly Buttars, told The Tribune Friday morning. Buttars said the family does not yet know the precise cause of death.

The sheriff's office said Friday that Koyle was among 30 firefighters attempting to keep the blaze from coming into town. About 2:25 p.m., the wind shifted, changing the direction and intensity of the fire, which had burned about 250 acres.

Fire lookouts ordered the firefighters out. Koyle attempted to evacuate but was overtaken by the blaze, the sheriff's office stated in a news release.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Andi Falsetto would not confirm the details of Koyle's death and said federal investigators were arriving in Millard County on Friday to assist the sheriff's office.

The Devils Den fire was started by lightning just before midnight Tuesday in the Canyon Mountains and had burned about 250 acres of pinyon, juniper and brush.

The firefighters working there Thursday were replaced Friday by a larger team, Falsetto said.

Buttars said Koyle was employed full-time by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He is survived by his wife, Nichole Koyle, and three children, ages 7, 4 and 18 months.


If you have not contributed to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, please do so now. If you have contributed, please do so again. We need to be able to support our families via the Foundation as they deal with the shock of loosing a loved one or face the mind-numbing decisions involved in being there for an injured loved one. The Foundation is our funnel and our insurance for the bad times. This Ab is going to dig deeper and is sending in another donation. If you have the means, please do likewise. Please do it now. You can call (208) 336-2996. Ab.

8/18 Equipment rollovers!!


Though I've never driven Fire fighting equipment, I was a driver and an equipment
instructor for a large power company. We put our rigs in some god-awful
situations and on top of that had to set poles 45' and larger along with transformers
weighing 300lbs and up. Side hill driving is the worst possible situation you can
get yourself in and needs to be avoided unless there is just no other way to do the
job. I have driven a side hill so steep I had the boom swung to the high side with
the auger dropped to keep the truck from rolling, you take a suction on the seat
and hang on. As with any job, everyone on the crew needs to be cut in on what
you're going to do: stop get out, everyone look over the site, discuss any problems
that you can see then go to it, you go balls to the wall, the price you pay could be
your life of you and your whole crew "THINK".

Bob K, Nampa Idaho

We aim to not go "balls to the wall" in wildland firefighting., Instead we try to juggle all balls safely between our hands and the air or retire them to the juggling balls bag until they can be safely redeployed, but thanks for your assessment. I agree with the THINK. Ab.

8/18 Re the crew buggie accident on the Orleans Complex --

Didn't roll, just flopped on it's side on Antenna Ridge road below
Orleans Lookout. Minor bumps and scrapes, crew OK.

another: Only minor first aid injuries - American River crew buggy - TNF,
vehicle righted with a cat and removed,
crew still on Incident as of today.

hotlist updates

8/18 ALL

The following is from the National Park Service Morning Daily Activities report

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
Firefighter David Quintero Killed In Off-Duty Accident

David Quintero, 22, a wildland firefighter who’d belonged to the park’s Crew 91 since 2005, was involved in a serious single-car accident at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 13th. David was off-duty and heading eastbound on Highway 198 near the Horse Creek bridge when the accident occurred. He was flown by Life Flight to University Medical Center in Fresno, where he underwent brain surgery. He was then placed on life support, but succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday afternoon. A CISD debriefing was held for park staff yesterday morning.

David was also a staff sergeant with the 1072nd Transportation Company out of Fresno, California, and a recipient of the Bronze Star during his service in Iraq. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 22nd, at the Three Rivers Memorial Building (43490 Sierra Drive). There will be a public viewing from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, August 21st, at Miller Memorial Chapel (1120 W. Goshen Avenue in Visalia).

Cards and letters can be sent to David's grandparents in Three Rivers: David Smalley and Peggy Blanchard, 41011 Meadow Drive, Three Rivers, CA 93271. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in David's name. The Foundation can be reached by phone at 208-336-2996 or on their website at www.wffoundation.org. Click on "Giving" and then "In-Memory Donations." [Submitted by Jody Lyle, Fire Information Specialist]

Just a reminder PLEASE be careful out there and not just on the fire line. We have lost enough folks!!!

Been There

8/18 I just wanted to extend my respect, condolences and prayers to the families of HT-790 and the Krassel ship, as well as to those involved in the 2 engine and the crew buggy roll overs.

I was able to attend to HT-790 memorial in Happy Camp and it was put on very nicely to honor our brothers. The USFS honor guard and bagpipe player were there as well a quite a few firefighters with representative from may different agencies, USFS, CDF, CHP, several other county/city depts. and agencies.

To everyone on the lines with me stay heads up and stay safe!!

Norcal Firegirl

Also support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. They are helping the families out and are a very tremendous organization. My thanks go out to them.

8/17 AB:

The NTSB has just released their preliminary investigation report regarding the crash of HT-790 at Happy Camp. You can find it on their aviation web site. I have also attached a PDF copy of the report. It appears that the helicopter suffered a failure in the tail rotor gearbox.

My prayers go out to the family and friends of the fallen.


8/17 Ab: Is it possible that this message can get to the respective crews?

To the Smith River Crew, the engine crew from Tahoe, and the Interagency Alaska Crew:

My many heartfelt thanks for clearing the crash site where my beautiful Heather, along with John and Steve lost their lives. It is sacred ground, and you have honored their memory. I know that you are hot and tired and worn from your work, and I appreciate your effort. I live 3,000 miles away, and trips to Happy Camp are few and far between. I have yet to hike down the trail and embrace the ground that received her spirit. Stay safe. God Bless.

Heather's Mom

Readers, would you please copy off this message from Heather's mom and get it to the crews. Thanks. Ab.

8/17 Subject: Firefighters on the Titus Fire Honor Fallen Firefighters at Stanza Memorial

News Release
For Immediate Release
August 17, 2006, 3:00 pm

Firefighters on the Titus Fire Honor Fallen Firefighters at Stanza Memorial

Members of the Smith River Crew from the Six Rivers National Forest, engine crews from the Tahoe National Forest, and interagency Alaska Crew 2 detoured from the Titus Fire to pay respect to an engine crew that was involved in a tragic accident just a few miles away.

During the early morning hours of July 28th, 2002, five firefighters from Lassen National Forest Engine 11 were patrolling the Stanza Fire when the engine left the road and rolled down a steep embankment. Three of the firefighters died and two sustained serious injuries and were flown to Redding for treatment.

The Stanza Fire was ignited by lightning on July 22, 2002 and grew quickly in the dense vegetation and hot, dry conditions. It was about 10 miles south of Happy Camp.

Conditions were similar when firefighters responded to the Titus Fire this year. This fire started on July 23, 2006 by lightning. It is located about 13 miles south of Happy Camp. It grew quickly in the dense vegetation and hot, dry conditions.

The firefighters visited the Stanza Memorial that was placed near the accident site. They maintained the access to the site and the memorial site itself by clearing vegetation and fallen trees. Mostly, they paid respect to the fallen firefighters of four years ago:

  • Steven Kent Oustad, 51, the module leader of Engine 11
  • Heather DePaolo, 28, the operator of Engine 11
  • John Self,19, firefighter on Engine 11

“We’re very thankful the crews took it upon themselves to maintain this memorial,” stated Incident Commander Mike Wakoski. “It’s important that we continue to honor the sacrifices of our fellow firefighters, even in this remote country during the hectic business of managing a large wildfire.”

Self Memorial photo: The memorial site for John Self. USFS photo by Dan Felix.
Smith River Crew: Members of the Smith River Crew in front Lassen Engine 11 Memorial. USFS photo by Dan Felix.

8/17 Hello All,

I am the Krassel Helitack Program Supervisor. On behalf of the Krassel
Family, thank you for all the kind sentiments sent our way.

The accident investigation team is wrapping up their work here. As you can
tell by the rather distasteful images displayed by the media, there is
little left of 5EV, but the team indicates that they found some good clues.
There were no witnesses to the crash and no communications from the
aircraft indicating the problem. It will be a very long time before we
have any answers to the many questions in our minds.

We are all still hoping to wake from this nightmare, but reality is setting
in more each day. We will miss each of our friends in ways that can not be
expressed. Once we have provided them the honor they deserve, we will
determine our path to rebuilding Krassel.

Celebrations of our friends lives will take place as follows:

Micheal Lewis - August 19 @ 1300 Jug Mountain Ranch

Monica Zajanc - August 19 @ 1600 Brundage Mountain

Quin Stone - August 26 @ 1300 United Methodist Church, Emmett, ID

Lilly Patten - August 26 @ TBD Mt. Tabor Park, Portland, OR

Those planning to attend on August 19 should be aware that these will be
casual events. Feel free to represent your crew.

For those in the media, we ask that you respect our friends and their
families during this very difficult time. Please think of how you would
feel if your child was in the aircraft.

Thank You All.

Doug Marolf

Doug, please give our love and best wishes to all. We hold you in our hearts. Ab.

8/17 Originally sent out by the state safety office and then by Tony Doty - Alaska Type 1 IMT


Fire Safety in Camps

Last Wednesday (08/09), at around 3 AM, a Weatherport-type tent at a remote
BLM camp caught fire and burned down. A detailed report is not yet
available, but initial reports are that a propane-fueled radiant heater
ignited a sleeping bag, forcing the occupant to evacuate the tent in the
middle of the night. While he was fortunately not injured, this was
obviously a very serious close call. Suffering severe burns several (or
many) hours away from medical assistance would have been a truly horrible

Most portable propane heaters are not rated for indoor use (including
tents) because of carbon monoxide issues. However, there are a handful of
radiant propane heaters on the market that are approved for indoor use
because they have a built-in control that shuts the heater off when
inadequate levels of oxygen are detected. These are now being used by BLM
personnel around the state. There are two very important things to remember
about using these heaters:

Very close attention must be paid to maintaining adequate distances from
combustible materials. The Buddy Heater, for example, requires only 6"
of clearance for combustibles from the sides of the heater, but requires
a full 30" clearance above the top and 24" from the front. These areas
must be kept clear of all combustible materials at all times when the
heater is in operation.

"Rated" doesn't necessarily mean "failure proof." In fact, these radiant
style heaters are not approved for indoor use in Canada, because the
Canadian government simply isn't convinced that a sleeping person should
bet their lives on an inexpensive device to detect oxygen deficiencies.
Personally, I'm inclined to agree with the Canadian government, because
detecting oxygen deficiencies is a pretty rough substitute for
monitoring CO levels.

Bottom Line: Use only heaters rated for indoor use, scrupulously maintain
clearances around the heater, and make sure your tent has an opening near
the heater for fresh air to enter.

Remember- Safety is a habit you can live with.

State Safety Office

8/17 To All those on the Titus Fire who paid their respects at the Stanza Fire Memorial, we wanted to let you and others know that the FWFSA has contacted Congressman Wally Herger's office as well as Senator Feinstein's in an effort to have them collaborate on drafting legislation that would designate the trail as a Forest Service Trail and Memorial Trail to ensure it is maintained properly to allow visitors easy access.

Congressman Herger was to attend the memorial service for the 3 firefighters in Chester after the tragedy but had slipped and broken his ankle.

We hope to work with folks on the Lassen to achieve this goal. For more information, please contact the FWFSA at www.fwfsa.org.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
8/17 Is anybody out there heading back to Oregon State University to get ready for school
at the end of this month? Krs Evans has decided to exchange Chico for Corvallis (to
study Botany) and could use some muscles to help unload his stuff at his new place
Aug. 28. Or, if you have any friends available in Corvallis who want to make some
swift cash, let me know. Ab can forward your message on to me. It should only
take a couple stout folks.


PS. A great guy (horse logger) out of Corvallis has offered to help Krs on the 28th. Any others out there?

8/17 All

When you are out there and folks are asking what can they do in response to your efforts and you tell them it is your job -- consider, to the extent you feel comfortable doing so, pointing them to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation web site and if they are so moved, they can make a donation in the name of the fire.

been there
8/17 AB,

During a period of severe drawdown on 08-09 the KNF requested anything that was available for a new start in the Clear Creek area near Happy Camp. HUU provided a crew strike team and the Orleans Complex sent another CDF crew strike team to the incident. At the incident personnel on the fire referred to the crews as “the inmates” “those inmates” the inmate crew” instead of using proper radio terminology by using the crew name and number.

Regardless of individuals personal feelings using proper procedures on a fire is a safety issue. I don’t expect the responsible parties to make the same mistake again.

8/17 There was a roll over of a crew buggy last night on the Orleans Complex.
Sounds like everyone is ok though. As for the fire it looks like a bunch
of acres are getting some good fuel treatment of a low to moderate
underburn with very little high intensity fire occurring. Looks like it
will be out when the winter rains come.

Be Safe out there.


Ab has verified that there was a single vehicle accident at end of shift yesterday with no more than minor injuries. More details will be released soon, no doubt. Drive safe all. The roads are narrow; smoke often impairs the view.

8/17 Looks like memorial services in McCall on Saturday for two of my friends who died
in the A-star. My God, to-night I realized the pilot's dad had given me a physical for
fire duty 25-28 yrs, ago. I worked so many yrs. for this not to happen. I worry so
much about my friend left behind who was in charge of the program. This pilot must
have worked so hard to make the road work for him.

What else can I say to ease the pain? Be proud of who you all are.


Thanks, LL. Please let us know the time so those who wish to share a moment of silence in solidarity can do so. I will. Ab.

8/16 There was a nice memorial service put on by the FS last week at Happy Camp for the pilots we lost when their
Heavy Lift Helitanker 790 crashed in the Klamath River. The speakers were very fine.

The pilot was Terry Wayne "Jake" Jacobs of Wofford Heights in Kern County, CA and the co-pilot was Andrei Pantchenko of Burns, OR whose family lives in Russia.

I never met either of the pilots, but those who knew them said they were fine people. They will be missed.

Here are several photos of the heavy helicopter in action taken 7/29/06 by Sam Pfahler, Missoula Smokejumpers. They're posted at the Northern Arizona Team website:
(other fine fire and firecamp photos on this page: www.nazteam.com/assignments/happy-camp/photos/index.phpl)

8/16 Subject: FW: Safety Message, BLM Engine Roll-overs... Nevada, Idaho; near miss in Wyoming

Field Mgers,

Just got off the phone with the State Fire Management Officer for Idaho BLM;
last night, the Twin Falls District experienced its third serious accident
(within the past two months) involving engine operations.
This involved an engine roll over on a dirt road, a crew member was
seriously injured/hospitalized with a broken leg and pelvis...
Similarly, Nevada BLM experienced an engine roll over last night with

Minor burn damage was also sustained to a Forest Service engine on one of
our wildland fires in the West Zone last night, no injuries to personnel...

As we head into the third month of high tempo fire/aviation operations,
please make sure you take the time to review, reinforce, and reiterate some
of the direct and indirect causal factors related to vehicle accidents
associated with extended exposure to wildland fire situations.

Most often we drive to and from the wildland fire in Wyoming...

Some of the Direct Factors:
  • Driving too fast for conditions and roads with top-heavy engines
  • Backing engines without spotters and positive communication with crew
    members on the ground
  • Inattentive driving, focusing on the radio, conversations, gps, cell
    phone, maps, etc...
  • Following distance associated with heavy load stopping (engine) stopping

Some of the Indirect Factors:

  • Dehydration resulting in the loss/delay of muscle coordination and
    reaction time
  • Extended fatigue effecting decision making, reaction time, etc...

Monitor your crews, due to the length and duration of this fire season,
don't hesitate to give your folks an extra day off if you feel they need

Excellent job so far with safety... Keep up the good work!

DL (forwarded from a theysaider in Colorado)

Be safe all. Watch out for each other. If something needs to change for safety's sake, speak up. Ab.

8/16 rumor mill about 2 BLM engine rollovers- one in NE Nevada, one
in southern Idaho over the last several days. any info?

8/16 Ab,

My son, a Ruby Mountain Hotshot from Elko working
the Idaho fires where this crash occurred, called last
night to assure us he is safe. I can't imagine being
one of the parents who has lost their loved one in
this incident. Our sincere condolences to those
folks. I am sometimes leery of the work my son does
but he would not have it any other way, so be it.
I'll be happy when the rain and snow comes.

8/16 My heartfelt sympathies go out to the families, friends and
co-workers of those lost in the Idaho helicopter crash.

Wayne (Smokedawg)
Eastern Canada
8/15 Dear Ab,

I have never written before, but I wanted to say I was heartbroken to hear about the helicopter crash on the Payette. As a wife of a Helicopter Manager, I worry every time my husband flies. My thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of the 4 individuals. Be safe out there all.

AD dispatcher
8/14 On behalf of our members nationwide, our heartfelt sympathies to the
family and friends of those lost yesterday in Idaho.

It is hoped that all of you on the lines throughout the country take a few
moments to reflect on the proud, heroic yet dangerous job you do and
continue to look out for each other.

God bless all of you.

Casey Judd
8/14 Ab,

The names of the pilot and two of the crewmembers who perished in yesterday's helicopter crash in Idaho have been released:


Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and crewmates.

Michael White, Carrie Vernon, Kibby and the gang
Sequoia/Kings Canyon N.P. Helitack Crew
8/14 Deepest sympathy to family and friends of helicopter crash victims

The news of the helicopter crash with four people on board breaks my heart. As a mom, who has a son who was a hot shot, heli-reppeller, and now is working in management at various helicopter bases and currently working the Potato fire I can relate. My son's wife is also in wildland fire. My very deepest sympathy to the families and friends. And I will remember them all in my daily prayers. My husband and I spent some time, a few years back at Krassel helicopter base with our son when he was assigned to that beautiful but lonely place at the top of the mountain and met the people at Krassel including one of the crew on the copter that crashed yesterday. We have visited Krassel helicopter base twice.

When you have someone who is in wildland firefighting everyone involved in wildland firefighting becomes a part of your family and any news, such as this sad news hits close to home. My son called early this morning to tell us the news, he always tries to call before we possibly see the news in the evening and worry and wonder if he is OK and let us know what is going on.

I keep all firefighters in my daily prayers and pray for their safety. I think too often the wildland firefighters are forgotten and unless you have someone in wildland fire, most people don't realize the great risk involved fighting wildland fires. Also all the hard work of the people behind the scenes, dispatchers, food service crews, etc, etc. Many thanks to all of you.

Be Safe.

Fire mom from Wheeling, IL.

You put it very well, Fire mom. Ab.

8/14 Payette National Forest


Date: August 14, 2006
Contact: Boyd Hartwig (208)634-0784
David Olson 861-0768


Investigation Teams Arriving Today

McCall, ID - A seven member United States Forest Service accident investigation team and a representative from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be arriving in McCall today to begin the investigation of yesterday's helicopter crash on the Payette National Forest.

The Team consists of aviation and safety experts who will have the responsibility of investigating the accident for the agency. They work in conjunction with the NTSB who is charged with investigating aircraft incidents on a national basis.

Aviation experts on the team investigate a variety of topics related to aircraft operations, procedures, regulations and policies. They will conduct interviews, review records and documentation, and visit the accident site.

Valley County Sheriff Patti Bolen will release the victim's names upon notification of next of kin.

The accident scene is about 18 miles west of Yellow Pine near the junction of the East Fork South Fork Salmon River Road and the South Fork Salmon River Road. The helicopter was not carrying a water bucket and was on a personnel transport mission.

Valley County Coroner Marvin Heikkila has retrieved the bodies which are currently in McCall.

For more information, please contact Boyd Hartwig at (208) 634-0784 or 634-0804.

8/14 Daily air quality reports for Northern California community and fire areas:

What does it mean when,.... "Everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors; people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low." ???

see the colorful table: Air Quality Guide for Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Pollution

sign me: firefighter in the smoke
8/14 Payette National Forest


Date: Aug. 13, 2006
Contact: Boyd Hartwig (208) 634-0784


Four Fatalities Confirmed in Helicopter Crash

McCall, ID - A contract helicopter assigned to fire suppression duties on the Payette National Forest crashed today at approximately 5 p.m., killing the contract pilot and three Payette National Forest employees. The names of those killed in the crash will be released in coordination with the Valley County Sheriff's office once next of kin are notified. The helicopter was ferrying Payette National Forest employees to the Payette National Forest's Krassel Guard Station before it crashed on the South Fork Salmon River Road about 18 miles west of the town of Yellow Pine.

The crash was reported to the Payette National Forest Dispatch office by a member of the Eastern Area Fire Use Management Team at 5:28 p.m. after he came onto the scene while driving on the South Fork Salmon River Road. The first emergency response was by Payette National Forest firefighters. A Payette National Forest law enforcement officer arrived on the scene soon after and reported no survivors at the crash site.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been notified of the crash and that agency will investigate the cause of the crash.

The helicopter, a single engine A Star AS350B-3, was operated on contract to the Payette National Forest.

Few additional details are available at this time. Calls on this incident will be taken starting at 0800 tomorrow morning (Aug.14) at the following numbers: (208) 634-0798, (208) 634-0784, or (208) 634-0991.

8/14 About Militia

Some time back I raised the topic of the term "militia" on They Said when one of our posters referred to the "military" as the "militia" which are quite different. My concern over the term "militia" at the time had more to do with trouble makers for-the sake-of making-trouble, using the term for their own agenda. (In part this is largely due to the news and entertainment media demonizing the term).

It surprised me a little that none of the recent posts about The Militia" mentioned or even hinted at the term as used in our US Constitution, where it is used to mean dropping whatever your normal job and duties are to assist your country in time of need. It was (still is to me) a patriotic or good Samaritan endeavor

Over the years having been in or associated with the USFS and wildland fire, I always assumed our term of militia in fire fighting was borrowed from the US Constitutional meaning, you step out of your usual mode and into a mode that is needed in the time of emergency. To me it’s a very fitting nickname for our use on this forum. Volunteer fire fighters, SAR teams and Neighborhood Watch activities are much the same, these folks step out of their every day jobs to help out when needed, only most of them don’t get paid for it.

Just my thoughts.

The Honorable Mouse

8/14 The asking price for the Type 6 Engine on the Classifieds Page just dropped $6,000. Looks like plenty of fire season ahead. Have a look! OA.
8/14 Firemark,

I understand what you are saying, however the post you are referring to, in my opinion, didn't report the incident/news as factual. As the poster said, she/he was hoping that the news was wrong. I was under the assumption that the Hot List Forum was strictly for factual information. I haven't looked at the guidelines for some time, so I could be wrong, but I think there is something related to only submitting factual information written there - but again, I could be wrong.

As I see the Hot List Forum, it is an extremely valuable tool which can only be degraded by (accidental) false or inaccurate information. If we stick to only what we know for sure, reign in on the conjecture, and stick to first-hand information, I think that it will continue to serve as a valuable tool.

I know first-hand that there were several people who are aware of the forum and who have direct information on the names and events that took place with the Krassel ship, and they held back from discussing them for all the obvious reasons.

Interestingly, what this continues to show me is just how advanced this site is in the dissemination of information related to our world. And also how very little escapes the diligent readers and contributors.

8/14 I would just like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of the four individuals killed in the helicopter crash in Idaho yesterday.

I would also like to say thank you to all of you that are current or former wildland firefighters. The risks and responsibilities that are taken on by every firefighter during the season are sometimes forgotten by those not involved and you don't always get the thanks that you deserve.


8/14 Just read some sad news -- more details to come. 4 fatalities from a helicopter crash ferrying fire personnel on the Payette NF. Link below. My best thoughts and sorrow to all involved.

Cache Queen

Our deep condolences as well. The Abs.

8/14 Ab and all -

Just received some terrible news that breaks my heart. The <snip> helicopter
crashed, pilot plus two did not survive.

--prayers to all.


8/14 A few minutes ago a listing on Hot List indicated a rotor wing out of the Krassel District, Payette NF may have crashed. Shortly after came another post admonishing people using the site not to list an incident like this until family had been notified. What is this? The posting said there was a report of a rotor wing incident, nothing else. In my career I have had the unfortunate responsibility of being a member of a notification team too many times.

If the information is correct, a machine is down, then that information is public information. the aircraft number and crew information is not necessary at this stage, but to deny an incident occurred is even worse. There are so many other aircraft in the air, it is important to know who isn't involved. I would hope the person challenging the report spends a little time rethinking the comments submitted.

A major incident is never easy, but to start withholding the obvious never makes it easier for anyone.


Firemark, you have a point, but no one was agreeing or denying an incident occurred. We Abs prefer that information not be shared until next of kin is notified and details are released. In addition, all those with loved ones working on, around or near helicopters or on the fires in the district become anxious when partial info is released prior to notifying families. Once news is reported through regular news media like the Idaho Statesman, the story has a life of its own and we will usually post links to it here.

I am glad posters on the hot list forum are reminding fellow posters to be compassionate with releasing information. Not only firefighter families, but also news media read the hot list forum. I would hope that before posters hit send to the hot list they consider what they would feel like if they had died and their spouse or teenage son or daughter got the news that way. Again, Firemark, this is not to admonish you, but to thank posters who have sensitive information for the responsibility they assume for all our families when posting on that forum.

As soon as families have been notified, please let us know and we'll post details here. Ab.

8/14 Helicopter Accident as reported from the Idaho Statesman:

Four people, including three Payette National Forest employees on fire-suppression duties, died Sunday in a helicopter crash about 18 miles west of Yellow Pine.

A contract pilot was ferrying the employees to the Krassel Guard Station when the single-engine A Star helicopter crashed about 5 p.m. on the South Fork Salmon River Road, Payette National Forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig said.

Hartwig would not disclose the duties of the forest employees Sunday night to avoid identifying the people before next of kin are notified.

The cause of the crash was not known Sunday night, he said.
The crash was discovered at 5:28 p.m. by a member of the Eastern Area Fire Use Management team who was driving on the road, Hartwig said.

All four people aboard were apparently dead when they were discovered, he said. The crash started a fire, which was suppressed by a responding fire engine, he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash; representatives of both agencies are expected to arrive in McCall today, Hartwig said.



8/14 There is a good fire-related Front Page article in the "Sunday Missoulian" today:

"The Need for Z's" talk with Dr. Brian Sharkey from MTDC about shift length
and 14 versus 21 day assignments; it's at


8/14 Hi there

I am a volunteer Wildfire firefighter living in Cape Town South Africa. I like your website. It has some amazing photos. We also have a website with some photos. Not as spectacular though! Maybe you can add a link to our website. www.capefires.com. It remains a good website either way.

Kind regards and keep up the good work.

Gerhard van Niekerk

Welcome to theysaid, Gerhard. Sweet site. Ab.

8/13 Remembering Ernie and those who go before us

It seems hard to believe that it was only 1 year ago that our fire fighting community lost Ernie Johnson. Such a sad loss for his friends and family. Ernie will always be remembered for all that he did. He was a great IC who put firefighters first. He was an innovator and and an inventor. He was a great friend who knew how to be leader. He was a great listener and story teller. He could always be counted on. He was simply put "one of the best". His presence is missed on the Olympic peninsula and also with his airspace coordination buddies.

So take time this weekend to hug your friends and let them know how they have made a difference in your life. We get so wrapped up in fire season doing what we do because we are the types who give our "all"..... but in the long run, it is our friends and family who matter the most. So remember the ones who have gone before us...... and take time to enjoy the ones you are with.

Ernie's friend

8/12 About Uni-Engines-

They are self-contained 1000 gallon tanks, with a built -in BB4 pump and foam unit. You fly them in with a helicopter to a ridgetop, and you fill them with buckets, and instant hoselay in the middle of nowhere. You only need one person to run the pump. They seem to be working well on the Orleans Complex. Another thing being tested here is aerial delivery of Barricade Gel in buckets. It has been working OK also, but nothing spectacular.


8/12 LIONA-

My understanding of the term "sketch mapping" is when subject matter experts (FBANs, SITL, Foresters, etc) go up in the air with a base map (topo, aerial imagery, etc) and they sketch information relative to the issue (fire, bark beetle, and more).

Unfortunately the imagery acquisition process is very expensive so it is not financially feasible to simply get the imagery whenever it is wanted to meet the mapping mission's needs. So my best guess looking at the area they worked for and knowing absolutely nothing other than that.... Some sort of stressor is affecting tree mortality or other forest health issue, the forest deems it is a potential threat to resource health or public safety, but to get an overall view of the issue it was determined a flight was the best method. The person obtains base maps from USGS topos or GIS and will be GPSing and writing their observations down as they fly.

As for whether it's necessary- normally people don't like to blow their budgets and flight time is expensive.

By the way RJM- sounds like you have some good experience- we should have a beer sometime.


8/12 Vfd Capt,

I just watched the clip of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation you posted. I must say wow. That short clip really means alot. It got me thinking about all the firefighters we have lost over the years. The Storm King segment hit close because although I was not in the fire service at the time of the fire. I was eventually on a Helitack Crew. I have some business in Colorado in early October of this year. I plan on making a stop at the site to visit the memorial. You did a great job with the clip. I am no longer a Wildland firefighter. I am now a career firefighter for a municipal agency. I just wanted to thank you and Ab for posting the clip. I hope it makes people aware of the dangers of our job. I also hope it makes people think and use their training so we can stop having fatalities out on the line. Once again Great work.


52 Club, join now. It's our safety net when things go bad. Ab.

8/12 What's with the new R5 policy that pulls hotshots off a fire in steep terrain
before contract crews? Seems it's designed to let some of the NorCal
fires burn on? I just don't get what those at the top are trying to do????


8/12 Wildland FF's

What is a ""Uni-Engine" 1000 gallon suppression module". Never heard
the term before; saw it referred to on the Orleans Complex Sit Rep at
North Ops today.


8/11 Re: Valley Fever

"About 60% of the time, the inhaled spores do not cause any clinical illness. The other 40% of the time, a flulike illness develops about two weeks after the inhalation. In most individuals who have a normal immune response, the symptoms of cough, low-grade fever, and malaise go away after a week or so, and are soon forgotten. For a small minority of people with impaired immunity, the fungus can spread through the body, and produce a life threatening illness." (Arizona Respiratory Center, 03 Feb 2006)

The effects of smoke:

"The effects of smoke range from eye and respiratory tract irritation to more serious disorders, including reduced lung function, bronchitis, exacerbation of asthma, and premature death. Studies have found that fine particles are linked (alone or with other pollutants) with increased mortality and aggravation of pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. In addition, particles are respiratory irritants, and exposures to high concentrations of particulate matter can cause persistent cough, phlegm, wheezing and difficulty breathing. Particles can also affect healthy people, causing respiratory symptoms, transient reductions in lung function, and pulmonary inflammation. Particulate matter can also affect the body's immune system and make it more difficult to remove inhaled foreign materials from the lung, such as pollen and bacteria." (Department of Environmental Health, County of Missoula , 2001)

"Chronic stress seems to impair the immune system's capacity to respond."
(APA, 2002, www.apa.org/releases/chronicstress.phpl)

Immune System Response and Nutrition:

Long term complications such as chronic pulmonary coccidioidomycosis (NIH, 2006) "can develop 20 or more years after initial infection which may not have been recognized, diagnosed, or treated at the time."


8/11 Miller Timber Services, located in Philomath, Oregon is looking for a forester type person with a strong background in wildland fire suppression. See their new ad on the Jobs Page under Help Wanted.

Not sure where Philomath, Oregon is? Try our new Google Earth Feed link to the right of the Help Wanted header. You will need to have Google Earth installed on your computer for it to run. If you don't have Google Earth installed, you can get it here: http://earth.google.com/download-earth.phpl

Click once on the placemark for Miller Timber Services (or our other help wanted advertisers) for a popup information window, twice to zoom in on their location.

8/11 Ab,

We've made a movie clip (.wmv file format, 3min-40sec, about 4.5mb) out of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation's powerpoint from earlier this summer. We added some audio with a song from Ginny Owens, "If You Want Me To."

Remember. Learn. Share.
vfd cap'n
8/11 Dave,

I tracked down some information on your question about the Potato Fire and the rumor that there were 3 crews who were ill. Turns out instead of three crews, it was 3 crew members (whew!). This is the unofficial report from a fellow PIO on the fire:

“There were all kinds of rumors. Turned out that 3 members of one of the crews brought a staph infection with them. They were hospitalized. Caused a good deal of commotion, but upon inspection by a doctor, turned out these were the only ones infected and the crews are all back to work.”

Ab, sign me…..

Information Diva who has been in ROSS for a week now with no assignment yet. : (

Good luck on an assignment. Thanks for tracking down the true story. Thanks to ALL who clarify the rumors. Ab.

8/10 Todd and Cy, re eating the live snake...

On the Bar Complex 4 or 5 days ago a young firefighter from a non-agency crew was Life Flight-ed out. I don't remember if it was on a dare or on a bet but he picked up a small brown snake, bit off its head, chewed and swallowed it and then ate the rest of the snake. I don't know if he swallowed it or chewed it before swallowing, but he ingested it. We have small brown snakes (pencil diameter) that are baby rattlers without much of a rattle array yet, but with telltale diamond shaped head with small fangs and venom sacks. We also have small brown gopher snakes without the "poisonous snake" shaped head. A vet friend said that theoretically you could chew and swallow the head of a venomous snake and if you had no ulcers or tears in your gut, you might be OK -- if it didn't get in your blood stream. He said if the guy got stomach cramps it was more likely from Salmonella, that snakes carry a load of that bacteria.

So what happened next to the young man? He didn't tell anyone; but those in on the chew and swallow demo knew what he'd done. He didn't eat or drink anything for a day or more -- I heard -- and he felt bad. He was dehydrated. Somehow the word got out or he was in not-so-good shape and he was Life Flight-ed to the tune of ~$8,000 (if history is a guide to cost), which was passed on to his employer no doubt. I doubt his organization was pleased. (It's a good outfit so I'm not saying who... It was his silliness, not theirs. They have other crews who are doing excellent work in the wilderness, and working in our vertical terrain is not a piece of cake.)

I think this is a prime example of human factors that relate to emotions hijacking the reasoning brain.
The brain has 3 layers:

  • the brain stem,
  • the midbrain (the puppy behind the screen door) and
  • the cortex or the reasoning brain (human evolutionary addition).

The neuronal circuit that translates perceptions and passes them to the emotional brain (via the amygdala) is as much as 15 seconds faster than the other neuronal circuit that passes the message to the reasoning brain.

If a situation you find yourself in -- or one that you create -- is "charged" either for the positive or for the negative, it's got a very strong and practiced (almost hardwired) neural net to the emotional brain (that darn puppy).

Say you're in a situation that has had fear, pain or horror associated with it in the past. Your "puppy" will try with all its might to burst through the screen door to avoid that situation again -- and it can break loose faster than your conscious, reasoning brain can even see what it's about to do.

Experienced firefighters often have the hair on their neck stand up if the fire is going gunnysack and this happens faster than they can consciously say "the fire is about to blow up, RUN" from cues reaching their reasoning brain. They usually don't even know what the cues are... Before they know it, the "puppy behind the screen door" is out and hijacks the body in an attempt to avoid something that might kill it. Hopefully that pup is trained to take the escape route to the safety zone dropping tools asap.

Each of us has "the puppy". Each of us has our own fast-acting neural network stimulated by our own experiences that have been punished or rewarded. The "puppy" can be trained to react appropriately if we know what high risk/low frequency events we're training for and if we know our issues. (I think that's one reason why Ted Putnam advocated mindfulness training (meditation) years ago.)

It's not just the negative that can affect choices in an emotional moment. The neural networks that have been created as a result of rewards or pleasure can also figure into human factors choices, especially when people don't yet have much experience with knowing and directing their own minds (and other body parts).

I think that probably happened in this snake eating incident. Say in the past you got Kudos and High Fives for taking a dare or taking someone up on a bet, and you basked in the attention you got afterwards... Your "puppy" could burst through the screen door tail wagging, wiggling with excitement, happy. I remember some kinda stupid things I did when young where I was seeking the excitement, the sense of accomplishment, the fun of being the first... including a trip out New River gorge with my sister, two inner-tubes and the dog when I was pregnant (not too much, but yikes). Our puppies were loose and on the run and our reason was hijacked the first cliff we jumped off into the river below. There was no going back... Luckily, it turned out just fine.

What was the snake? Someone connected with the snake incident thought it was a little rattler.
But... we have a lot of snakes. It could have been a little gopher snake.


8/10 I am not a cartographer, but what is "sketch mapping"? I am guessing it is
drawing a map (with emphasis on the artist's chosen field). With all the
Satellite photography, google earth, USGS topo overlays, etc. it would
seem a waste to "sketch map". Was there a pine bark beetle (or other
pest) infestation?

Maybe I'm missing something here, please help me. What I am actually a
sking is, "Was this mission actually even necessary"?


8/10 Been There,
Been there!
8/10 Stu

I don't think that ether Casey or I were suggesting that everyone run out and get tested for Valley Fever or quit fighting fire in the southwest. What I was suggesting was that folks be aware of the problem and not do the ostrich maneuver and hope it will go away. As you say, a lot of folks come down with it and never know the difference. However, if you are one of the "lucky" few that has a greater reaction you are definitely dealing with a life threatening illness, and taking the attitude that it is found all over will not help you a lot. You are right, after a two week assignment there is often a fatigue problem. By the same token if it doesn't get better after some rest, being aware that there might be a problem other than being tired just might make a real difference to your future.

If you test positive for VF I would strongly suggest that you get busy and educate yourself about what is going on. Trust me, if you have one of the more aggressive forms, although rare, you had better find a doctor that knows what the heck is going on.

Been There
8/10 DOI, Bureau of Land Management
Twin Falls District Office
2536 Kimberly Road
Twin Falls, Idaho 83301

In Reply Refer To: 9210 ID-204

Subject: 72-Hour Briefing
Fire # C2QN Raft River Fire, Personal Injury Incident
Twin Falls District, Burley Field Office BLM
Date/Time of Incident: August 4, 2006, Approximately 21:00 Hours

Number of Injuries: 1 (Family Has Been Notified)

Preliminary Factual Findings:

On August 4, 2006 at approximately 21:00 hours, an engine crew member was participating in wildfire suppression activities on the Raft River fire, approximately 30 miles east of Burley Idaho. He and three other firefighters assigned to Engine 2692 were performing mop-up operations on the northeast portion of the fire when he was struck by the engine as it was backing up. The firefighter fell to the ground, facing up, and his legs became caught under the engine. As the engine continued to back up, his legs were pushed toward his chest, injuring his back. His condition was stabilized on the scene, and he was transported via Life Flight helicopter to Magic Valley Regional Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho. At this time, he is in good condition and spirits, and continues to receive medical care.


BLM Engine 2692 arrived on scene at the Raft River fire at approximately 17:40 hours. After receiving a briefing, the engine went to work suppressing the fire. As fire activity diminished, the engine continued to work along a dozer/retardant line performing holding and mop-up actions.

At approximately 20:30 hours, the engine reached a point on the northeast edge of the fire. After mopping up a hotspot at the location, the Engine Operator and one crewmember (firefighter #1) were seated in the engine, and two other crewmembers (firefighter #2 and firefighter #3, the injured firefighter) were outside the engine rolling up hose. At approximately 20:56 hours, the Engine Operator had a radio conversation with an Engine Module Leader who was just arriving at the northeast portion of the fire with a group of engines. The Engine Module Leader agreed that Engine 2692 should leave the location and fill the water tank. Firefighter #2 overheard this conversation on the handheld radio, and firefighter #2 and firefighter #3 proceeded to walk from the driver's side rear of the engine around the back of the engine, heading to the passenger door of the engine. As the two firefighters reached a point a few feet from and directly behind the engine, Firefighter #2 noticed a lizard on the ground, and both firefighters stopped and bent down to look at it. Statements indicate that the lizard ran up the leg of firefighter #2, causing her to react and momentarily distracting both firefighters. At this point, Firefighter #2 noticed that the engine was backing up toward them, and both firefighters attempted to move out of the path of the engine. Firefighter #2 was struck by the engine and pushed into Firefighter #3, knocking him to the ground, facing up, with his feet toward the engine. As the engine proceeded to back up, Firefighter #3's legs became entangled in the undercarriage of the engine, causing his knees to be drawn up toward his chest, injuring his back.

As Firefighter #3 was being run over, Firefighter #2 ran from the rear of the engine toward the driver's side door, and shouted for the Engine Operator to stop the engine. The Engine Operator reacted immediately and stopped the engine, and then moved the engine forward a few feet, freeing firefighter #3. The Engine Operator immediately notified the Engine Module Leader of a medical emergency. The Engine Module Leader notified the incoming Type 3 Incident Commander of the medical emergency, and the ICT3 contacted South Central Idaho Interagency Dispatch Center and requested a Life Flight helicopter respond to the scene for medical evacuation. Personnel on the scene stabilized Mr. Burk and prepared a landing spot for the incoming helicopter. The Life Flight helicopter arrived on scene at 21:50 hours, and transported Mr. Burk to Magic Valley Regional Medical Center.

/s/ Jeff Arnberger, Investigation Team Leader

8/9 Was this a live rattlesnake?


8/9 Dear Stu:

As my post indicated, the information was preliminary in nature, however according to FS fire officials off the LP, several municipal firefighters on the same fires were already confirmed cases and my post was simply to alert folks...not paralyze their lives. However, if the cases are confirmed, I believe it better to keep our firefighters informed (not panicked) and develop ways to assist our federal wildland firefighters through the archaic FED OWCP process.

Knowing the Fed OWCP process as well as I do, in an effort to be prepared should these in fact be confirmed cases, we have enlisted the assistance of Congresswoman Lois Capps' Santa Barbara staff to help mitigate the potential red tape.

I at no time advocated testing for all employees exhibiting symptoms of fatigue. I would surmise it is up to the doctor to determine whether testing for Valley Fever was appropriate in any given case. I simply made the point that in the federal sector, the requirement to prove a link between the illness and the job falls on the employee while in the municipal sector and in legislation pending in congress for federal firefighters, the onus to prove that an illness or disease is not job related would be the responsibility of the employer.

I am a strong advocate of providing the same workplace protections for our federal wildland firefighters as those in the municipal sector have. And please don't get me started on better ways to spend tax dollars...


Region 4 Risk Management
USDA Forest Service,
Intermountain Region
324-25th Street
Ogden, UT 84401

Preliminary Mishap Notification July 30, 2006


Date/Time: Friday, July 28, 2006, 1145 MDT
Unit: Region 4, Boise NF, Forest Health Protection
Location: Deadwood Reservoir Airstrip
Aircraft: Cessna TU206G
Mission: Sketch Mapping
Injuries: None
Fatalities: None

Damage: Damage was limited to area of fuselage tail section. Extending approximately 10 inches left and right from 6:00 center line from approx. fuselage station 166.40 to 230.187. Damage to skin in this area and denting of bulkheads and stringers and elevator pulley bracket in this area.

Narrative: Forest Health Protection employee was conducting a sketch-mapping mission of the Landmark Basin, Boise National Forest in a FS Carded Cessna TU 206G when they decided to land at Deadwood Reservoir backcountry airstrip for lunch.

The pilot of the aircraft stated that on final approach to the airstrip approximately 50 feet above the runway the aircraft instantly sank. He applied full power, however, in spite of the full power the aircraft continued to sink straight down to the runway. The aircraft hit hard enough to bounce the aircraft about 20 yards and right of the centerline and the right wheel went into about a 2 foot ditch. Pilot applied left full rudder and left aileron and left brake. The wheel came out of the ditch but the tail wacked the ditch berm fairly hard. After the aircraft came to rest the pilot shut down the aircraft and inspected the aircraft for damage. The pilot is a FAA licensed Airframe and Powerplant mechanic.

The pilot discussed the extent of damage to the FS employee and convinced the employee that they had no significant damage that would hinder flight capabilities. The pilot and employee got back on board the aircraft and then flew the aircraft to Cascade airport (approx 15 min. away).

After landing at the Cascade airport notification were made regarding this incident.

The investigation is ongoing.

Team: QTI - Jim Morrison - Aviation Safety Manager
Scribe - Barb Hall, WO Aviation Safety Specialist
Maintenance - Kevin Bailey, Region 4 Aviation Maintenance Inspector

Information Contact: Jim Morrison - 801-625-5510


Forwarded Message that came with the Mishap Notification:

Hello Everyone, Please see attached notification.

Please brief to your employees: Do NOT get back aboard any aircraft that
has been involved in an accident or incident.

FSM 5720.3 Policy states: Only use safe operations and equipment. Do not
procure or use aviation equipment, methods, or techniques that may
adversely affect the safety of operations.

By getting on board an aircraft that was involved in an accident or
incident you are risking possible further injury. Only our Aircraft
Maintenance Inspectors, (after a return to service (proven airworthy) by
the FAA licensed Airframe and Power Plant mechanic) can return our aircraft
to contract availability (i.e. safe for our employees to ride on again).

Any questions about this please call me!

Jim Morrison
Region 4 Aviation Safety Manager

8/9 GISgirl

Thanks for the reply and it was my bad choice of words to express "how the coordinate system is stated"; I should know better. I used to be somewhat of an ocean navigator. I even remember using Loran A when you had to measure time differences on an oscilloscope display.
I convert GPS coordinates all the time on the Garmin Software on my computer. Just is more key strokes for my old fingers changing the set-up.

I am very familiar with the precision GPS stuff. Have had contractors do quite a lot of "millimeter precision" work for my company. Amazing what it shows, even measuring deflections on a moving ship. As you pointed out, takes a lot of post-processing with long computer runs; not to mention some specialized GPS units and a nearby fixed ground station to provide the control. Your hand held Garmin won't work for that. I have seen some pretty small packages; but they needed a large antenna; by handheld standards.

For fire I think what "nature" provides is accurate enough for most everything; as you noted.

Thanks for trying to clarify the base map situation.
Like everything else, there is no one way of doing it.

Appreciate your information and again thanks for the response.

8/9 NOPSer,

Ah ha, I found someone!!! It is hard for me to understand where people who like it are coming from, when CDF, USFS, and BLM, not to mention the field folks, think the program is inadequate. One AOBD quoted the program as "being a piece of junk". Yeah, the reports in ROSS are very good, but the functional value of the program isn't there. Was this program developed from the top down? Did they have GS-5 and 7 dispatchers provide their input? How about Center Managers? And by the way, the folks I work with are well trained in mobilization procedures and the utilization of ROSS. So, it is NOT a "chair to computer" issue.


8/9 Anyone have details on the firefighter kid who ate the little rattlesnake on a dare?


8/9 Re Calabasas Report

Thanks, that's just the kind of help I was looking for.


Thanks Dick M for coming to the rescue. Ab.


Safety Alert
Heat Related Illness

Discussion: Due to record breaking high temperatures experienced across the west, numerous cases of heat related illness have been reported. There is a concern that established guidelines are not being followed and/or personnel are unaware of the seriousness of a heat-induced illness.

Heat-induced illness is a result of the body's inability to cope with heat. This condition can manifest itself as a minor symptom or a life-threatening emergency. While recognition and treatment are important, prevention is the key. HEAT RELATED ILLNESS IS PREVENTABLE.

Becoming acclimated to working in a hot environment takes time. If a person is physically fit, it takes four to eight days to adapt to these conditions. This acclimation process continues for several weeks. Fatigue or alcohol consumption can delay the acclimation process and may put a person at risk for a heat illness if an intense activity is conducted following either of these conditions. Firefighters must be informed of potential factors affecting physical activity during hot weather. Individuals not acclimated or physically fit can suffer a heat-induced illness at lower levels of heat and work activity.

The Fitness and Work Capacity, Second Edition (NFES 1596) provides a table (page 29) with activity and performance guidance for different heat environments. It is important to note that a temperature above 95oF with any amount of humidity will put you in the "high" zone. Most firefighting operations occur in this "high" zone. Increased hydration and increased breaks are required for any physical activity performed during "high" periods. Seek shade during breaks if possible and stay hydrated.

Water is the primary form of fluid replacement. Firefighters should be reminded to hydrate before, during and after strenuous work activities. Before engaging in work activities, drink 20 ounces of cool water or a sports drink. During the operational period take frequent rest breaks and drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes. (1 Qt. /hour) If cold water is available, it is preferred. Consider a carbohydrate/electrolyte sports beverage such as Gatorade or equivalent as a portion of fluid replacement - this will help retain fluids and maintain energy and electrolyte levels. Consuming a sports beverage as part of re-hydrating will assist in avoiding a condition know as Hyponatremia. Hyponatremia develops when the concentration of sodium is diluted in the bloodstream. Exercise-induced hyponatremia occurs when this phenomenon is caused by an excess of water intake during exercise or work.

Avoid performance beverages such as Red Bull, Rock Star etc. These beverages contribute to dehydration. Keep track of your urine output. As a rule of thumb if you haven't urinated in three hours you may becoming dehydrated. (Drink More Water!)

Regardless of the job performed heat-induced illness prevention is a concern. Additional information about preventing this illness can be found at the following web sites or you can contact your Regional Fire Operations Safety Officer for more information.

MTDC Heat Stress - http://fsweb.mtdc.wo.fs.fed.us/php/library_card.php?p_num=9851%202841 (FS web)
OSHA Heat Stress Card - www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3154.pdf
6 Minutes for Safety - www.nifc.gov/sixminutes/dsp_discussion.php?id=67

/s/ Peter Tolosano
Peter Tolosano
R-5 Fire Operations Safety Officer

8/9 F,

The Calabasas entrapment report doesn't appear in the Lessons Learned Center investigations database yet. One reference I found was:

Harris, J. P. 1997. Calabasas Incident entrapment analysis. Los Angeles, CA: County of Los Angeles Fire Dept.

I'm not sure if that's the original investigation report, or not. I suggest giving the LACoFD training division a call. They were very helpful when we requested a copy of the Glen Allen Fire report to put on-line.

vfd cap'n

I put some people in touch behind the scenes and I think it will yield results. Thanks everyone. Ab..

8/9 Casey,

I wouldn't hold my breath, no pun intended, waiting for the government to pick up the tab for testing for Valley Fever.
Pin pointing the exact location for the original contact with the fungus would be next to impossible. Just driving through an area known to have the Coccidioidomysis spores in the soil during a dust storm will most likely expose the individual to the disease. Who is to say whether you picked up the spores traveling south on I-5 through the San Joaquin Valley to a fire or on the family vacation to Disneyland?

As to coming down with the symptoms of Valley Fever during a two week fire assignment, just about anyone would have the symptoms. It's called FATIGUE!

Should the government spend money testing everyone for Valley Fever that shows signs of fatigue? I think there would be better ways to spend tax dollars. If an individual has real concerns about the issue, perhaps they should seek testing on their own. (Personal responsibility vs Big Brother, (with deep pockets.)) OK, you've tested positive, now what?

You may have been carrying the spores for years and once you test positive, you will always test positive! Fatigue may be diagnosed as Valley Fever because of a years prior exposure.

You might be surprised at the percentage of individuals that test positive with no symptoms.

Valley Fever a problem, yes to a relatively small percent of the population. To be overly concerned, NOT ME!


8/9 As we become more prominent as the place to go for companies recruiting wildland firefighters, it isn't too surprising we also receive a steady supply of emails inquiring "how/where can I get a job". Since these type of questions aren't considered fodder for TheySaid, we usually just direct them to our Jobs Page. However, we recently received an email from a person looking for work whose skills and experience was a little outside our normal focus.

After considering how we might best accommodate this type of request, we've added a new Jobs Wanted section to the Jobs page. For the time being, we'll accept and publish free ads from folks looking for fire related employment. Since our time is already stretched pretty thin with existing daily maintenance and updates, we may have to re-evaluate the "free" part in the future. Here's a direct link to the new section which includes the above mentioned individual seeking a job in aircraft maintenance ad and directions to submit requests: Jobs Wanted

On another note, since many of you have They Said It bookmarked as an entry point, you may not have seen the new feature on our Home Page. Check out the map near the bottom left of the page. Click it to expand the map and view the ip locations of our audience over the last week. We tried the free version for a while and decided to upgrade to allow map viewing by continent which should take effect within 24 hours or so. Directions on how you can get the free version for your own website are easily found.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe. OA
8/9 Valley Fever can also be contracted in S. Utah and on the Az strip.

Old Man of the Dept
8/9 Regarding Valley Fever:

Casey and others

I am glad to see that someone seems to be getting someone’s attention about Valley Fever. I can confirm that this stuff can really lay you out and cause long term health problems. The one thing I can say is if you think that you might be having symptoms of Valley Fever, fatigue, cough, chest pain, fever, rash, headache, joint aches, you really need to get aggressive with the Doctors about testing. Some Drs. really seem to have a problem with admitting they don’t know all the answers. Valley Fever is one of those things that can be real hard to diagnose. A negative result just means that it does not show up today. It does not mean that you do not have it. It can also be real critical who runs the tests.

I would strongly suggest that if you think you might have valley fever you do some web surfing and make yourself familiar with the in’s and out’s of this disease. A site I can suggest to start with is www.vfce.arizona.edu/. This site also has links to some Drs. that are real familiar with this problem and understand what it can take to get a good diagnosis.

It is found primarily in southern CA, AZ, NM, and west Texas. It is generally found in dry alkaline soils, particularly after some type of disturbance, think fire line, dusty roads, after earthquakes, construction sites, etc. It has been confirmed in the area around Dinosaur Nat Monument in CO also. If not picked up it can progress to the skin, spinal cord, brain, bone, loss of a lung, and other fun stuff. In about 10% of the cases it leads to death.

If someone wants to talk more about this Ab can give them my contact information

Been There

It is found fairly commonly in parts of Southern CA. I have a friend who was very ill for months with it and has permanent lung damage. She had a hard time getting a correct diagnosis. Ab.

8/9 In reference to RJM's post-

The national mapping standard in the federal agencies is to use NAD83 (north American datum 1983) for data. While not all agencies have moved to this yet (I think the FS is still in the process) it is generally the standard in DOI. NAD83 is essentially equivalent to WGS84 which is the native language of GPS units.

First- all GPS units store locations in a geographic coordinate system (latitude/longitude) with the datum WGS84.
Second- a GPS unit can translate that and show it to you in different projections (geographic or UTM) and/or data (NAD 27 and 83)

Third- what you are referring to are not different coordinate systems (all three examples were geographic) but how the coordinates are expressed

Pilots (helo and fixed wing) use decimal minutes to communicate. The GIS people generally use decimal degrees when entering data in the system. The ground staff tends to use degrees minutes seconds. As long as everyone has thier GPS units set to the same datum and you are using enough numbers to get it accurate--- it's all ok. They are just different ways to say the same thing. I agree consistency would be nice but it's not foreseeable in the near future.

Inciweb projections/data - my understanding is that each map is originated from the incident it comes from- therefore the projection and datum will depend on the state, the administering agency, the GISS, and where the base data came from. I know this doesn't give you a definitive answer- but it's the current situation. If there is a lat/long grid or lat/long markings the datum should be printed on the maps produced on the fires (this is new in the GIS SOPs- Chapter 6 page 41).

On a side note- you can post-process or differentially correct GPS data (make it more accurate with lots of computer crunching after the fact)- but this is rarely done on a fire unless it is a resource specialist dealing with data such as cultural resources or a GISS has the software, time, and need to do it. Most fires use GPS units such as Garmins and simply collect data.

As for relying on GPS only and not using a compass or paper map- you'd have to be crazy. I'm a geek myself but I know power goes out, plotters go down, batteries die, or magnetic fields simply mess with your aura. Using the old school methods is simply redundancy and safety. Always have a paper map, a pen, a compass and the knowledge to use them. Computers and GPS are awesome and help you be efficient but they are not the solution- merely another tool.

As for Google earth-- I do not have enough time to properly research that tonight- stay tuned.
Stay safe and godspeed to the fallen,


8/9 For having a new product that received so much positive press, 10 Tanker Air Carrier, who apparently operates the DC-10 air tanker out of Victorville, CA, is elusive when it comes to finding contact information. Can anyone provide a phone number? Address?

Thanks in advance for any help. And thanks to Abercrombie for the forum where questions and answers are just a click away.

8/9 I looking for a copy of the 1996 Calabassas Fire Entrapment Report.
A weekend of google searches have come up empty. Can any of you
help me find it?

8/9 Aussie firefighters coming to help out in US



The Aussies who are part of our theysaid community sent us the news release, posted below. Ab.

8/9 We all had an idea this was going to happen, but were wondering when it would......
Sydney, Australia


Wednesday 9 August 2006


Eleven NSW firefighters will be deployed to the United States of America tomorrow to manage fires in north western states such as Oregon and California as part of a force of 50 personnel from Australia and New Zealand.

Five NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), three National Parks and Wildlife Service, two Forests NSW and one NSW Fire Brigades personnel will assist US firefighters for up to 35 days.

“NSW firefighters are recognised as among the best fire managers in the world,” said RFS Commissioner Phil Koperberg.

“The US has requested support in the form of incident managers and aviation specialists from NSW firefighting and land management agencies to fight forest fires currently affecting several states.

“NSW is providing highly skilled firefighters with experience in managing firefighting personnel through divisional command, planning containment strategies, logistic organisation and aircraft management.”

Most of the firefighters will leave Sydney airport at 2.30pm tomorrow bound for San Francisco, then the National Interagency Fire Centre in Boise, Idaho. Remaining crews will leave on Friday morning with seven West Australian firefighters for Los Angeles.

“NSW firefighters form part of an interagency team that has developed a reputation for providing the highest level of fire management at home in Australia and New Zealand, and on previous commitments to the USA,” said RFS Commissioner Phil Koperberg.

“This deployment will exercise the skills of our firefighters in the lead up to the NSW fire season, and share experiences with our colleagues in the USA.”

Australian and New Zealand firefighters travelled to the USA in 2000, 2002 and 2004

Sydney International Airportbr
Thursday 10 August 2006, 12.45pm

List of personnel follows

NSW Agency

Skill/position in USA


NSW Rural Fire Service

Divisional supervisor

Aviation specialist

Aviation specialist

Aviation specialist

Aviation specialist



Wyong/Lake Macquarie



National Parks & Wildlife Service

Aviation specialist

Aviation specialist

Aviation specialist




Forests NSW

Divisional supervisor

Divisional supervisor

Batemans Bay


NSW Fire Brigades

Divisional supervisor


Background on US fires

USA – National Interagency Fire Centre fire updates


USA – wildfire map


8/9 Ab--on the subject of the militia,

After returning from a small overnighter fire, I noticed the discussion on the term militia. As has been mentioned by others, that term has been used to describe those who fight fires as part of their "other duties as assigned" but are not considered to be firefighters by job description. As a member of the "militia" for over 35 years I know the term has been around a long time. The IC and both crew bosses on the fire I was just released from are all militia. We will return to these militia roles again today after our mandatory rest periods. The Forest Service has long relied heavily on the militia to meet firefighting needs especially during periods of draw down. We have many militia on our district who are actively involved in firefighting roles. Competitive sourcing studies have, to this point, totally ignored the importance of the militia in supporting emergency response. When I began as a temporary employee, the militia was a given. If you worked for the Forest Service you were expected to support the fire operation in some way. The militia was, and continues to be, an integral part of the emergency response capabilities of the Forest Service. In my opinion, it helps build and maintain good working relationships between various specialties within the outfit which is one of the strengths of the Forest Service.

8/9 To NOPSer-

ROSS is not a great program. Not knowing whether you are a Federal, State or Local employee, I will say that Region 5, CDF, and local government (OES) got sold a bad bag of goods. The forest agencies of this state succumbed to the rest of the country and their inefficient resource tool. ROSS is not an initial attack tool that is effective in California. It may work well for the agency that does not get back to back to back initial attacks. I know in our Unit when we have gotten multiple fires requiring aircraft and crews, we are mired in the slow query screen of ROSS. Maybe at NOPS where the order is presented to you already filled out, life is good.

ROSS is too slow for the number of screens one has to navigate through. MIRPS was ideal as is was quick, fairly simple, and very few screens. MIRPS was reliable where ROSS, if you do not pay attention to it, will log you out in less then 10 minutes at times. Several times this year, we have had a fire take off and I go to ROSS and find I need to re-log in. This is not okay.

Think about how many new reports we have to do now that we did not have to do with MIRPS. Equipment status updates every 3 hours (SOPS thing), FAMWEB situational reports, inability to see what is going on elsewhere in the state incident-wise, or the ease of seeing what aircraft is available.

If ROSS does go down, yes, we can still dispatch resources with the assistance of cards, cards that were supposed to go away when MIRPS took over. I never imagined we would go backwards in time and have to use cards again. Not that cards are bad. I prefer them to ROSS right now.

ROSS is slow, inefficient and unreliable as it is currently configured. So enough complaining.

How do we fix it? I think CDF started recently by not requiring rostering. To fill a helicopter or strike team took forever to end querying because of the large rosters involved. If ROSS is somehow sped up, it will be a better tool. If more shortcuts become available with a speed increase, it will be good. Region 5 needs a much larger say in the ROSS world. Until they do, it will not be an effective initial attack tool. Imagine if during the siege of 2003, ROSS was being used in California. With hundreds of strike teams rolling around SoCal, it would be a total chaos.

I have been with CDF for 25 years and been in an ECC for 8 of those years. My opinion is we stepped back in time by accepting ROSS into our centers. This tool is not better than MIRPS and we should not have accepted it unless it was!

8/9 Picker,

I'm with you. ROSS was developed from the top down and is a nightmare at
the IA level. When I bring this up I am always reminded that "it's not an
IA tool". Well then, why do I have to have it on my desk? Desks that used
to be handled by one person now take two. I won't even go into the "saves
paper" argument. This might be true if orders do not have to be printed and
faxed to multiple district / field offices.


People in our shop have had all the training available in ROSS, and are
VERY capable dispatchers. They work with it as best the system allows. We
have had ROSS Subject Matter Expert's (SMEs) come out and tell us what we
have is as good as it's going to get. When I was told they were going to
work on some of the IA issues, especially aircraft, over a year ago. I
offered to be on the committee that was working on it. I was told that they
would be working on it at the National and GACC level. While it may work
great at the GACC and NICC level it is a cumbersome monster at an IA

'nuff said.

8/9 Re: Anchor Point Tools,

Last we heard here at the WLF advertising department in December of last year was that they would get back to us regarding future advertising. Here's the most recent contact info we have:

Tune Wildland Fire Equipment
Phone: (559)-683-7030
FAX: (559)-683-7042

As I recall the last telephone conversation I had with Dan Tune, he was very excited at how his website rose to the top of the search engine rankings just by having his company name mentioned on our site. The website link above (tunefire.com) isn't going to get you anywhere, but I haven't tried the phone number. OA
8/8 Picker,

First off ROSS was down actually 9 minutes today. On Sunday when there was no-one at the regional office was working, ROSS did not freeze or lock me out once, and working at the GACC level I am in at least four different session of ROSS at once, all different centers. The number of T1 lines and number of folks on that line have a lot to do with speed also how familiar folks are with the program. At NOPS we still use the intercom and can dispatch even if ROSS is slow or freezes up at a unit. Plus ROSS does not dispatch aircraft or ground resources, dispatchers do. ROSS does not fix the problem between the chair and the computer, only good training and practice does that.

ROSS is a great program and is getting better with each version that comes out. Data Delivery System which comes out of ROSS's data base is great for reports, data, and information that is available in seconds instead of hours.


8/8 this was on "All Things Considered" tonight.
Woodsmen Spared by Insurance Policies

by Austin Jenkins

All Things Considered, August 8, 2006 · Think of it as malpractice insurance for fire bosses. U.S. Forest Service managers are buying liability insurance policies to protect themselves if they are investigated or prosecuted for their decisions about fires.

Link to audio can be found here:

click on this link, then click on "listen" after the link comes up.

They interviewed Mike Lohrey (about IC's etc. getting personal liability insurance post-Cramer). It's a good story, but they do not have the text posted online - only audio.


8/8 A informative and interesting NPS website to look at when you have time.
It contains blurbs and references on many historical large fires including
the evolution of fire management policy etc. GREAT work NPS!



8/8 Valley Fever suspected in SoCal Firefighter illnesses

Normally I don't like to put information out sooner than I know most of the details but I received a call this afternoon reporting that 3 federal wildland firefighters who were on the Perkins fire near Santa Barbara are exhibiting signs of Valley Fever.

According to the same source, there appears to have been some confirmed cases among municipal firefighters.

Although this information is perhaps premature, firefighters need to be aware of the threat as previously posted. Although legislation in congress is pending for federal firefighters with respect to presumptive illnesses, it is likely the Gov't would not foot the bill for testing until and unless the illness is confirmed and determined to be job related.

The FWFSA is currently working with staff from Congresswoman Lois Capps' office as well as Senator Feinstein's office in the hope that should these cases be confirmed, the red tape associated with Federal OWCP can be reduced as much as possible so as to avoid excessive costs to the employees.

I would presume that as more information becomes available, it will be posted here.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

8/8 Zeke

Thanks for your post and the information to the community on what you techies need to produce the maps and data for the Intel people and the boots on the ground. Like it that you Gamin as I run Gamin mapping on my computer when I am trying to fine out where fires are.

You do point out what I was trying to say, too many reports use others than decimal minutes (hddd°mm.mmm'),.

MIDOS uses decimal hours.

Same issue prevails here if the military used different co-ordinate systems to call in weapons fire. Ooops! friendly fire situation.

Anyway Zeke I understand your situation, may be you can you answer my question that started this whole thing in the first place. What maps are used for the base maps for the INCIWEB fire maps? And for the boots on the ground to use daily?

Thanks Zeke for your input and I look forward to checking out your new thing on Goggle.

8/8 Re: GPS coordinates on incidents

we can take GPS coordinates in any format, and then convert them into decimal minutes (hddd°mm.mmm'), but decimal minutes are the standard - especially for aviation - and we prefer to get them in that.

most importantly, we need to know what format they were collected in.
e.g. if your GPS is set up to display in Degrees Minutes Seconds and you write down a Lat-Long, be sure to note that it was in DMS. if you are not sure what units the GPS is set to, go to setup in the GPS, and write down the 'position format'.

if you are on a fire and want to bring in GPS coordinates to the people making the maps, try to drop in on them before you go out in the field so they can check out your GPS setup. morning is the best time to catch the GIS people, or around dinner, but not after about 8pm - this is our crunch time.

it works best if we can just download your GPS, and not have to hand-enter a long list of coordinates. check with us first if you have something other than a GARMIN GPS, as we may not have the cable to download it. also, get a download cable of your own, and bring it with you to the incident.

Rich Strazzo, CDF Incident Mapping Guru, has put together a good white paper on GPS mapping for Incidents. You can download it from: http://www.northtreefire.com/gis/gps_on_incidents.doc

Re: new virtual fire tour concept

we just finished a GIS mapping assignment on the foster gulch fire - in far eastern oregon - where we came up with a new public-info fire mapping product. it uses google earth and fire perimeter mapping to create a 'virtual tour' of the fire.

we're not doing this for commercial purposes - google won't let you make money off of their service - just like to share what we are up to, and are interested in seeing where this technology will go.

we'll be doing this on future assignments, and will be putting links to the tours on our website.

the prototype tours are online at:

(you need to install the google earth software to take the tour).



8/8 Retired Gary, Your email address returns the "Undeliverable mail" with error message "User unknown". You should ask your company if they have a block on incoming mail from us. Maybe this is also why the scanner isn't working on your account. So, Original Ab can't email you even if he wants to. I haven't been able to either. Consider creating a yahoo or a hotmail acct and see if that works. Ab.
8/8 Anchor Point Tools - Does anybody know where this company went??? sure would like to know.


8/8 They had to take ROSS down for 30 minutes this afternoon. Took us 9 minutes
to do one change of availability prior to the shutdown. If there are any
dispatchers out there that are not frustrated with the system, let me know
what kind of drugs you are on! Ah, the good ol' days of cards and intercom
are long gone. Right, Sid?

8/8 Teresa from Mountaineers Fire Crew reports they have filled their job vacancies for now and their crews are hard at work on the NorCal fires. She also said she was again impressed with the quantity and quality of applications they received from across the States. If you are looking for work, there are still several companies from around the West with immediate needs on the Jobs Page. If you are looking for employees, use the contact information on the Jobs Page to have your ad published today.


Note: NWSA members receive a 10% discount!

8/8 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
8/8 Stanley -

You're technically correct that "Militia" is a military term, but for us old timers with "green underwear" it's always had a different meaning: the USFS militia refers to the folks in the outfit that aren't in firefighter jobs, getting the firefighter retirement program, but that drop everything and run when the fire whistle blows! Range Cons, Foresters, Admin folks, Wildlife Biologists, Archs, yes even Engineers are all active participants in the fire organization. The Pacific Northwest GACC had a T-1 IC named Doug Porter in the 1990's who was a professional engineer in his everyday job. When I was at MTDC, several of our younger Mechanical Engineers had been hotshots and Smokejumpers during their school years, so when we had hot July & August days here in Missoula, they came to work wearing Nomex pants so they could assist the Lolo NF Initial Attack forces as needed.

Look at the folks serving on T-1 and T-2 IMTs in Operations, Planning, Safety, Logistics and Finance: they too are the "Militia".

The militia was, and continues to be, a real strength in the USFS Fire program.

Dick Mangan

8/8 Stanley:

The term "militia" has been used by the Agency (wrong or right) to identify Forest Service employees who respond to wildfires in a number of different capacities but whose primary duties are not firefighting.

The use of the term "militia" is probably just as silly as the term "Forestry Technician" for those that primarily do firefighting and are eligible for the Government's special retirement provisions for federal firefighters.

The use of the term "Militia" in the recent posts and press releases is to help identify a segment of Forest Service employees vital to the fire program, and even encouraged routinely by the Agency to take fire assignments but whom are also primarily employed in jobs the Forest Service is looking to outsource.

The Agency can't have it both ways...They can't continue to encourage the Militia to take fire assignments and rely on them for collateral fire duties yet incorporate them into their outsourcing studies without regard to the impact of the fire program.

We didn't coin the term, we're just using it as it is widely understood which employees it refers to. Fortunately the FWFSA has secured legislation, HR 5697 that will mandate that OPM establish a new wildland firefighter series and classification to more accurately reflect the current duties of the employees.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
8/8 Ab:

A report from the Potato Fire in Idaho mentioned 3 crews having medical problems. I "assume" this means they are passing some kind of "bug/illness" around to each other. Heard anything?


Ab hasn't.

8/8 Jeff

I started that thread on 8/2 when I was questioning why so many different reports use position in different formats. I just get tired of changing the "preferences" in my software every report I look at. Totally impertinent; BUT it has pointed out a real need for standardization.

It was a totally off the cuff part of my post where I was actually asking: What maps are used for the INCIWEB base maps, from the ICPs

Fred said hddd°mm.mmm' (Lat/Long in Degrees and decimal minutes) was because it is aviation standard. I have heard that from AA consistently when I hear them on IA or recon.

The Old Man of the Dept came back and said need maps and compass. As GPS is not reliable all the time (batteries etc.) (true even with GPS need maps, and compass on hand.).

I guess it would be nice to have ONE standard for all reports. MODIS tabular summaries and ERSI are in ° (Lat/Long in Degrees and decimal degrees).

.I do not have to deal with it in a rush situation. Just looking at where the fires are. I imagine it could get confusing in a heated situation where someone with a GPS on hddd.dddd were calling for a drop (or rescue) and the air force was on hddd°mm.mmm' and did not catch the difference. Even worse if one of them was using hddd.mm' ss.s"

8/8 Stanley,

I agree with you, I don’t like the term fire militia either………..it makes me think of the anti-government recluse types that stockpile ammunition, food, etc. in preparation for a “war”.

I also wonder why the mnemonic changed for an Information Officer changed from IOF to PIO, seems to me that IOF is more straightforward. I know that the USFS uses the term PIO for their full time Public Information Officers who work on Forests, but I think the IOF designation was appropriate for qualified individuals (yet most of us are not full-time “regular” PIOs) working as part of an Incident Management Team. Anyway…….

Take care and be safe,

Information Diva
8/8 Per Webster's New World Dictionary 1979 edition MILITA An Army composed of citizens called out in time of emergency

Glad I Retired.

(Ab note for newbies: Call When Needed; there's a link to the list of acronyms at the top of the page.)

8/8 Stanley,

Hmmmmm. Yes, you are the only person.

Fading Away
8/7 Ab

Saw that some members of the BAR ICP instituted a successful SAR operation
near the ICP on the Trinity River the other day. Goes to show professional
firefighters "do what they do" when they have to do it.

See the post on Inciweb: www.inciweb.org/incident/news/article/357/1233/

also: www.yubanet.com/artman/publish/article_40212.shtml

Those gentlemen did not have to get involved; they did it because they cared
and obviously the boss said OK.

Way back when, in my home town, a family friend - a Shift Capt (and for a while
Acting Chief) of the city FD told me "if you ever need help, no matter where you
are, call the Fire Department, they will get you the help you need".

Guess it still holds true today.


8/7 R5 budget cuts/new rules?

Anyone know how long this budget cut and new rule thing is suppost to last? The forest's in southern California are having a hard time staffing up their engines, plus it's been hard on the folks like me not to even be on this year yet because of the budget cut and new rules.

About the new rules can anyone tell me what this new rule thing is? Thanks!


8/7 On 8/3 Fred wrote that a paper was floating around about using Degrees and decimal minutes. Although I don’t want to negate that. I know that N.I.C.C. issued a paper in 2003 dealing with just this issue. They advised the National standard will be Degrees, minutes and seconds. I also would direct all to chapter 24 of the (Red Book) Fire and Aviation it is referred to in several paragraphs as Degrees minutes and seconds. To order a proper TFR one must submit it in D,M,S. Again not to take another stand just seems that he as well as others are right. When we standardize the Lat/Long issue and all are on one page it may very well help all involved in the Aviation part of Wildland fires.

8/7 Regarding the militia:

Hmmmmm... Am I the only person who is having difficulty with the use of "militia" when referring to wildland firefighters?

I could be wrong, and probably am, and I don't have a dictionary at my fingertips, but doesn't militia refer to the military and its soldiers?

Isn't it best to stick to what we are? And not start combining agencies, different roles and job descriptions?

8/7 "Fork in the trail",

Well said. Small addition.....Within the FS, the "line officer" ie.
Forest Supervisor, Deputy, District Ranger is either the Agency
Administrator, or the Agency Administrator's Representative. That comes
through a letter of delegation. That letter is issued by name, and only
when the line officer has acquired the pre-requisite "core competencies".
When an assistant ranger fills in as "Acting" they do not automatically
carry the "delegation of authority" for wildland fire.....again, that is an
authority delegated by "name" not by position.

Old Fire Guy

8/7 Hi Mellie, I noticed your post to Rogue Rivers about chain of command for fires.

The key missing ingredient is the DOA - Delegation of Authority that is
submitted to any incoming IMT that "delegates" the actions the Forest wants
accomplished by the team on the incident. DOAs are usually written and
signed by the local Line Officer aka the "Agency Administrator" - when the
situation becomes one to bear where there are several incidents in a Region
with multiple teams - what usually happens is the geographic area, or a
cluster of affected units (Forests, Parks, Reserves, etc - they set up a
Geographic MAC group - which functions similar to the NMAC but only for
that Geographic area, or affected area of concern.

So we have two things that could occur.
  • Multiple IMTs on multiple fires within a close-in geographic area (NOT A
    GACC) - NMAC can order an Area Command to handle on the ground
    command and control issues.
  • Multiples entities in a same said area with multiple incidents can also set
    up a (local) MMAC - MultiAgency Coordinating Group - to handle allocation
    and prioritization in the same area.

It's about the same way the national level works but at a stop down; there
can be multiple Area Commands and multiple MACs engaged in different GACC
areas at the same time - but the model is the same just like ICS is the
same ; follow the same protocols.

As for assigning the incidents to IMTs - only Line Officers or Agency
Administrators can sign off on the DOAs.
What makes it confusing, albeit, is when at a level like NPL -V - with
people "acting" for people - it can get confusing / but as a rule Regional
Fire Directors DO NOT sign DOAs and have no Line Authority.............
Remember the final objective is to leave the incident in the hands of the
local unit no worse for wear - physically, politically, and with
communities. -- Hope this helps

-- "Fork in the trail"

Also special thanks to Vicki for all her help with the Eldorado Shots, the
significant other of the FF who got injured near Twin Falls, and the pilots
assigned to Northern Cal fires. Be safe all. I agree / nature is doing
her thing. We're on a cycle. Northern California is experiencing its 20
year hit.

8/7 Press Release

For Immediate Release: Thursday, August 3, 2006
Contact: Mark Davis, NFFE Forest Service Council, (608) 231-9474; Carol
Goldberg, PEER, (202) 265-7337; Casey Judd, Federal Wildland Fire Service
Association, (208) 775-4577

Forest Service Looks to Outsource Its “Fire Militia”
Fire-Fighting Capability May be Compromised by Contracting Out Staff Positions

Washington, DC — Even as the nation’s fire suppression resources are stretched to their limit by another harrowing fire season, the Forest Service is proceeding with outsourcing plans affecting thousands of its staff who are trained fire-fighters. These actions are part of an overall plan to study replacement of as many as 21,350 Forest Service jobs, more than two-thirds of the total agency workforce, with contractors, according to documents jointly released today by the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) Forest Service Council, the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Spurred by concerns that agency plans would reduce national fire suppression capabilities, appropriations committees in both houses of Congress have passed language prohibiting outsourcing studies involving personnel who support wildfire suppression activities. Nonetheless, the Forest Service recently briefed the President’s White House Office of Management and Budget that it will proceed with outsourcing studies affecting agency fire-fighters regardless of whether this language is passed into law.

Outsourcing studies determine which employee groupings or functions will be put out for bid among private contractors. Forest Service plans would not spare employees who are part of the agency’s “fire militia” from potential job loss. For example, as many as 2,000 Forest Service fire militia members are included in the agency’s planned outsourcing feasibility study of staff performing data collection and analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Fire militia members work in a variety of “day jobs,” but are certified for critical fire suppression duties, many of which require years of training and experience on fires to acquire. Fire militia members are regularly dispatched to fight fires throughout the country.

“We just went to the highest wildfire risk level, National Preparedness Level 5, with several regions experiencing major incidents which have the potential to exhaust all agency fire resources” stated Casey Judd, Business Manager of the FWFSA. “The Forest Service simply cannot afford to give away fire-fighting capacity, regardless of the reason.”

“There is broad bi-partisan agreement that the Forest Service competitive sourcing program is an unmitigated disaster,” observed Bill Dougan, President of the NFFE Forest Service Council, noting that a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review is slated to begin following a bi-partisan expression of concern. “It makes sense to put this program on hold until the GAO audit can be completed.”

In addition to fire-fighting, fire militia employees respond to a wide range of emergencies, ranging from hurricanes to outbreaks of avian viruses, such as Exotic Newcastle Disease. The Incident Command System used by the fire militia has been so successful that President Bush ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to duplicate the structure.

“These outsourcing plans threaten to FEMA-ize the Forest Service by atomizing its operations into disposable portions and sacrificing its large-scale incident management capabilities,” added PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing to the irony of the Bush administration using the current Forest Service Incident Command System as a model for reforming FEMA. “Unfortunately, delays in enacting appropriations legislation may allow the Forest Service to begin the contracting process before Congress can put a stop to it.”

8/7 To What if,

I just returned from fire assignment. Skimming theysaid, I saw your post. I have experienced this in the past few years and have come to the personal realization that Safenets and Safecoms aren't all they are sold as. It is my understanding that there are two types that don't get posted: (1) Ones that are seen as "whiny" or not truly safety issues and (2) ones that are seen as too political. Unfortunately it is the catagory 2 ones that leave serious safety issues out there.

I have no advice. I tried to hunt down this problem to the root a year ago when one helibase I was working on generated 11 safecoms (only 2 of which were ever posted). I can tell you that for myself I have decided that the system is highly political and not truly about safety. Therefore I have stopped teaching to newbies that safecoms and safenets are a way to deal with safety issues.

8/6 New update on Jeff, Jesse, and Kevin - Eldorado Hotshots:

Both Jeff and Jesse remain in the Lions Burn Care Unit at University Medical Center, Las Vegas. Both are recovering from debridement surgery on Friday. The surgeon has applied a synthetic skin to protect their burns and aid in the healing. Jeff will be re-evaluated soon to see how his burns are healing. Jesse will need skin graft surgery to the back of his legs sometime early this week. Kevin is at home with his family and will be back to work in a couple of weeks.

Vicki Minor from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation flew in Friday and assisted here in Las Vegas with the families. Their support has been tremendous for the Gehlhausens, Shirleys, and Breitweisers. Please visit their website at www.wffoundation.org and spread the word on the 52 club. Thanks again for everyone's support. Jeff, Jesse, Kevin, their families, and the Eldorado Hotshots appreciate it.

We have set up email accounts for Jeff, Jesse, and Kevin to receive messages. Their email addresses are:


Drop them a message and we will see that they get it. Continue to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Please pass this on to all. More to come....

Mike Sandoval

Thanks, Sandy. We continue to hold them and their families in our thoughts and prayers. Ab.

8/6 Two things:

Fire situation in No. Cal = Area Command - It will happen and we will wait things out until the rains come in Sept. Lets not get anyone hurt for something that nature has been doing for millions of years. Protect structures, listen to the communities and be safe. We don't need a "white paper" or "informational brief" to do those three things.

Casey's request for contacting Legislators about Interior Appropriations bill (HR 5386) and the current House approved language = “Of the funds appropriated by this or any other Act, none may be used in fiscal year 2007 for competitive sourcing studies and related activities by the Forest Service.” If you have an opportunity, use the links Casey provided to show your support, it's critical! If you or you know folks that are committed, get a campaign of spouses, fathers, mothers or whom ever that can get that email to your representatives. Contracting is being looked at everyday and we need those that represent us, now show support for us.

TC #2 (Not the original TC. Ab.)
8/6 Rogue Rivers,

The Interagency Incident Management Team that's called in to work on any fire comes in at the request of the Line or Agency Officer in charge. In our case that's Joyce Anderson who is the District Ranger on the Shasta-T where the fires are burning. Her boss is also a "Line Officer". She's the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Supervisor, Sharon Heywood. Sharon's boss is the Regional (or is it Acting Regional?) Forester Bernie Weingardt.

The Fire Chief (Fire Management Officer or Chief Officer) for each forest (most of them) also work for their "Line Officer" (as Gizmo says Agency Administrator; I add "Direct line of Command from Congress"). They do not work directly for the Regional Director or Acting R5 Director of Fire and Aviation Management (Ed Hollenshead). There are a few forests in CA where the Chief Officer can act independently of, but in consultation with, the Line Officer.

My point is that Forests officially give their own fire people their marching orders. Forests also give marching orders to IMTs who they have called in to manage an incident on their forest. Rogue Rivers, it's my understanding that the Regional (Acting) Director of Fire does not determine resources on the ground or how resources are allocated to fires that are burning. Maybe I have this completely wrong. I thought an independent National MAC group or Area Command would do that when resources get in short supply.

A Regional Director of FAM might work with the Regional Forester to come up with some general guidelines or considerations, but the local Line Officers (anointed by Congress) would never be left out of the loop, would they?


8/6 Denny resident

I just checked in with the team. They caught the slopover (Div I). I think we're still good at holding it on Jim Jam Ridge and over to the SW. Today's plan is to burn out the hole in the doughnut on that SW corner (Div Z). If we can accomplish that and the crews can hold it or catch any spots and then mop up, we may have that corner nearest residences and ranches buttoned down. I'm hoping.


8/6 Fire slopped over into Devils Canyon on the Bar Complex.
The Team hit it hard with a lot of water. It's not yet a major
thing or a minor thing, but I hope the Team 3 gets to stay.

Denny resident

If you have a fast enough modem, here's a good option for maps of the northern CA incidents and others. Go to InciWeb: http://www.inciweb.org/ Go to the bottom right and click on Google Earth Feed. If you've never done this before, download and install the Google Earth program. Make sure the "Layers" option on the left has Google Earth Community checked as well as the standard default: terrain, roads, borders, and populated places. Then zoom in. The fires and complexes have yellow hats, the webcams can be clicked on, you can zoom right in to the Bar or the Orleans or the Klamath, etc. Terrain is steep. The Bar Complex is hiding behind the SHF Lightning Complex helmet, although the two big fires of the Bar Complex that are not contained are some distance away near Denny. In mucking around, use the hand to move the earth. Look for the i that starts with 1974. It's near where the Denny Road takes off of HWY 299 at Hawkins Bar. Took me a while to find it. The helmet on the map is misleading. Maybe the folks at Inciweb will fix it. Ab.

8/6 I don't know if this is what Zimm is looking for. There is a DC 10 video link in this article.


8/6 RJM,

Maybe just maybe the Bake and other fires of the Bar complex are doing some good, perhaps, there are long term benefits to the resources you mentioned with this fire, as opposed to this idea of destruction that we often associate with fire. But to start pushing dozer line into wilderness areas in the name of resource protection is indeed a slippery slope (sorry). I know this fire brings to mind the infamously smoky Big Bar complex and months of toil, however the intensity of this fire from an outsider's perspective seems more constructive than destructive. If we want California's largest wilderness area out our back door, I think we must accept the limitations on firefighting in the wilderness, but more important is a shift in our perception of fire and its effect on the land.


8/6 Re merging complexes in norcal for management by one IIMT:


I heard or saw something similar. Inciweb or 209 maybe if not someplace else.
I think I've got Oldtimers early, or maybe its too much smoke with too much
of whatever carbon ...oxide in it.

Question is, would that make sense? As I see it, many of these complexes are
just getting their legs and we're just getting the feel for the terrain, the forest line officers,
etc. Crews are exhausted. Many are timing out in the next few days and they don't
want local to fire RnR but need to go home- to take care of business, recover from poison
oak, catch their breath away from smoke, squeeze their honey, hug their kid.

Teams from out of region are being called home too. Big fire is a month early in CA,
usually we go everywhere else to help early in the season then when fire hits here shot
crews and teams from other regions to the east are already wrapping it up, kids back to
school, etc. "Normal" years we have enough resources to carry on, often with minimal help
unless it's a Kirk or Big Bar year. This is a year like that '99 year. And on top of it other
western regions have fire too and are facing I heard 40% drawdown.

What about finances? The agencies that support fire (ha, that fire bucks support!?) are
busted. We went and helped out with Katrina & Rita and we've paid the bill. We helped
with early fires in TX and NM and AZ and OK and we've paid the bill. I wouldn't be surprised
if the fire Gods (or want-to-be-gods at the regional/national levels) are looking at ways to
cost-cut with fire because fed fire agencies don't have the money. Ask Congress? We need
to get further into the season with more of the Public clamoring before the Harbours of the
world feel comfortable even asking Congress. Who's to say if that's good or bad? What's
agency policy? I heard the acting regional fire chief say some time back that firefighter safety is not
first priority, agency policy is. Agency policy has historically been about managing natural
resources. So where does that leave firefighters and wilderness communities and how
fires burn or get put out in wilderness and on forest lands? Some of the forests need to burn,
in a good way, but how do you do that? Are we doing that now? I think we're in transition
and firefighters know that transition is one of the 18 Watchout Situations.

Would one team managing a bunch of complexes work? Normally the fire escapes IA
and EA and it's clear it's likely to go big without a focused attempt to pick it up and the
resources to do so. It gets bigger, resources get released from other assignments and
reassigned to help. There's build-up for a while until goals are met. Line is constructed, burned
out and held. If fire jumps the line, crews with overhead direction up to the team level are there
to refocus anew. Crews and teams are demobed. Complexes are combined as the fires
are contained mopped up. When have complexes separated by some miles been combined
just as they're getting bigger?

Commanders intent: the Regional fire director (really acting director) says "make it so"
to forest fire chiefs and incident commanders. The regional forester says "make it so" to
forest supes and district rangers. Various forests and one team try to work it with not
enough resources or overhead supervision - attention to detail. Tactics are scaled
back to match the resources. Guess we'll see what happens.

Where in the mix are the line officers - the District Rangers, the Forest Supervisors?
Do they know enough to sign off on one IIMT managing a number of complexes? The
financial side of it might sound good to them. Beyond that, I don't know. Am I missing

This may be a good thing even if it doesn't feel like it. Fire management in California is
in transition. All I got to say is, if things go wrong, we need to make sure the lessons learned
get to the right people, the regional fire director the national fire director, the regional forester.

Rogue Rivers

8/6 Todd,

I haven't heard of that but I did get a call from a Hotshot Supt. this evening that said there were some "problems" on the East Fire (a part of the Hunter Fire) managed by a type 1 team and the Hunter Fire (managed by a type 2 team from Region 3 as part of the Kingsley Complex) with conflicting priorities and strategies. He said it was utter chaos that erupted into arguments on the command and tactical channels. The Supt. was concerned about safety of the troops in the field and said he had never seen problems like this ever before.

I trust my HS Supt's when they call home.

Seems there were some severe "communications" problems.

IIMTs (Both Type 1 and Type 2) work for the Agency Administrator. Teams are given their "marching orders" by a Delegation of Authority from the Agency Administrator that is supported by a Wildland Fire Situational Analysis (WFSA). Seems there was some type of conflict today that should be identified, documented, and corrected for future firefighter safety.

A Federal Fire and Aviation Safety Team (FFAST) should be convened to address the issue(s) and get to the facts of the incident on August 5, 2006.

8/5 Can anyone point me to the post or hotlist or article that said the
FS is thinking of putting a number of the NorCal Complexes (Orleans
Complex, Bar Complex, Uncles Complex, maybe Happy Camp
Complex) under the management of ONE Incident Management
Team. I know I read it somewhere several days ago and I can't find
it now.


8/5 RJM,

I was briefed yesterday at a community meeting on the Bake and Oven Fires. (I brought brownies. <grin> Two kinds... <bigger grin> Just kidding...)

A bulldozer has been used to widen an old jeep trail just outside the wilderness boundary and fire is being used to burn out the line on the SW corner of the fires which now have burned together. If the line can be widened, the backing fire can join it and the reduced fuel conditions will protect the Denny community. www.inciweb.org/incident/news/article/357/1201/

As far as fire in the wilderness, well there are not enough resources to handle that wide a fire front now. This is a case where reduced resources mean you alter tactics for the sake of firefighter safety. This land is fairly vertical... I have been told by some old residents who worked for the Forest Service years ago that in their day the FS would have sent out a crew to hike in, often at night, to pick up a fire like the Oven or Bake when it was small.

Today a weather front moved in; the winds picked up mid-afternoon. If we're lucky, the lines in that SW section continue to hold. There's just a little more burnout to do there. I'm hoping -- as are all the residents and the firefighters -- that the line is holding. Hoping that line on JimJam Ridge is holding too: we don't need fire in Devil's Canyon.


8/5 Re: Leave Donations for Juan Estrada


If federal employees from outside of the Forest Service would also like to donate annual leave to Juan, they will need OPM Form 630b.

Here is the form: www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/opm630b.pdf

The process is a little harder to complete, but well worth it in supporting one of our own. It takes a little coordination between the personnel office of the donating individual and the receiving personnel office of the leave recipient.

We have some experts to help make the process smoother if you need help. If you have any problems, please contact Katie or Janey at (909) 382-2600 (Select option 5 - San Jacinto Ranger District).

Also, employees interested in helping in other ways can contribute to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and make a note on their contribution that it is for Juan in the comments. The Foundation has once again shown how critical they are for the safety and well being of our firefighters, our families, and our friends.

Thank you so much Vicky, Melissa, Burk, and all of the WFF Board of Directors and supporters!!! You all are so awesome..... It is amazing how much work you do behind the scenes that so few of us will ever know about!!!

Juan.... speedy recovery!!!

8/5 Ab and all

I might be hung, drawn and quartered for saying this, but the BAR Complex seems to be spreading down drainages on the “Wilderness” side where MIST is required. Obviously a lot of wilderness and watershed is being burned. The IMT seems to be dealing with it well but the latest map shows it moving down an apparent stream drainage, towards the S and SW. If the Big Yellow McLeod’s can prevent more damage, save communities, and protect watershed, why cannot someone up in the Head Shed authorize their use in the "Wilderness"?

I understand that the terrain is rough; but given a decent bit of ground to work with, a good Cat Skinner can get a line in. It is still early enough, before the rainy season, that BAER can be implemented. Or say the Big Yellow McLeod’s can’t work because of the terrain; how about doing explosive line building, like they have done in Washington State? Control the Bake-Oven to prevent watershed and property damage, then when the time is right use prescribed fire to continue cleanup and regeneration of the forest.

Natural wilderness needs to be preserved, but if using MIST for it’s own sake leads to more destruction that just does not jive with good Forest Management.

Just random thoughts!

Also my prayers to the families, coworkers and friends of the pilots lost last evening on the Helitanker. May God rest them.

8/5 Who has the video of the DC 10 air tanker used this summer in California?
I have looked around and have not found it yet. Surely there is some??

8/5 Ab note: Please help Juan and donate some leave if you can. As I understand it, anyone who works for a federal agency can donate leave.

Juan D. Estrada has just recently been approved for the Leave Donor
Program. Juan is currently a Vista Grande Hot Shot, here on the San
Bernardino NF, San Jacinto RD, who has been recently diagnosed with cancer
for the second time. He has exhausted all his leave and can not support
his family without your help. If you wish to donate leave to Juan and his
family, please fill out the AD-1043 and route through your time keeper. A
link to the AD-1043 form, has been attached below for your convenience.
Juan and his family are very appreciative to any hours that can be donated.
Thank You for your time.



8/5 A contract Type 1 helicopter assigned to the Happy Camp Complex wildfire crashed into the Klamath River approximately 10 miles south of Happy Camp around 7:45 p.m. Friday. Two pilots aboard the helicopter did not survive the crash. The accident site has been secured and an investigation is ongoing, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department reported. No further details were available Friday night.


Captain Ron
8/5 On 8/4/06, shortly after 1930, Helitanker 790 crashed on the Klamath
National Forest while fighting fire on the Titus fire in the Happy Complex.
Unfortunately both pilots on board were killed in the accident. Our hearts
and prayers go out to the families and co-workers of the two pilots. A
Forest Service Team is being assembled to work with the NTSB and FAA on
this accident. NTSB and FAA representatives will be on site 8/5, with the
NTSB taking the lead in the investigation.


Sad news indeed. Condolences. Ab.

8/5 Helitanker 790 crashed near Independence Ridge, killing both pilots, @ 1930.
Fatalities have been confirmed, notifications made.
This could result in an aircraft standown for today.


8/5 Our mechanics wife just informed me about the Heavy Lift that went down in
Happy Camp area and she was asking me for some details. It seems that she as
well as our mechanic knew the pilots well. Any info that I could pass on the
them would be appreciated by them.

8/5 Ab,

Jeff and Shane Memorial

In Memory of Jeff Allen and Shane Heath

Indianola Helitack Crew Members, lost in the Cramer Fire near here on July 22, 2003.

"This will be a lasting place of remembrance and gratitude for their lives and service, a place for wildland firefighters to reflect in their memory, and a reminder to all who are involved with firefighting, from those on the line to those up the line..

"To find a way to bring everyone back safely from every fire. "

Sign Me. Commanders Intent (and the intent of wildland firefighter mothers, fathers, and family members......and friends, and coworkers of wildland firefighters nationwide. this type of tragedy need not happen ever again if proper corrective actions are implemented to improve wildland firefighter safety in the future)

P.S. - To those "up the line".. take notice. Commanders intent is "Bring everyone back safely from every fire." Nothing less and nothing more..... This monument to two wildand firefighters is your marching orders to improve safety... it will be their legacy and gift to the wildland fire community in the future.

A culture of wildland fire safety starts at the top, not with the acts or omissions of Forestry Technicans or Forestry workers.

This monument to the lives of Jeff and Shane should have never been needed. I consider them to be angels looking out for the safety of future federal wildland firefighters.

I hope they are looking down upon us and laughing at out frailties.... Thanks Jeff and Shane.... you will be missed and not forgotten by your wildland firefighter friends and family...... Keep Safe
8/5 Anyone have more information on this incident? eg

Fyi: Aug. 5, 2006
By Record Searchlight staff
August 5, 2006
Fire helicopter crashes in river
A helicopter assigned to the Happy Camp Complex of fires crashed Friday evening in the Klamath River southwest of Happy Camp, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department reported.

The sheriff's department and U.S. Forest Service are investigating. No further details were available Friday night.


8/5 Old fire guy
Please send it.
doug @ dougsfire.com
8/5 Re: Additional Info on Valley Fever.

CDF Firefighters have recognized the hazard, will the Federal Government follow suit? The firefighters (forestry technicians) I mentioned in yesterdays post are federal wildland firefighters and not covered by the CDF MOU.

DECEMBER 8-11, 2005

SUBJECT: Valley Fever (Coccidioidomysis) Presumptive Illness
SUBMITTED BY: District IV + 50 Delegates

INTENT: To amend section 10.8 of the MOU to include Valley Fever (Coccidioidomysis) as a presumptive illness for all Bargaining Unit 8 Employees as an Enhanced Industrial Disability Leave (EIDL).


WHEREAS, (1) CDF personnel throughout the state are subject to working in areas of known or high occurrence of Valley Fever (Coccidioidomysis); and

WHEREAS, (2) Numerous CDF personnel have been diagnosed with Valley Fever (Coccidioidomysis) as a work related injury and are not receiving Enhanced Industrial Disability Leave. Valley Fever (Coccidioidomysis) has a two to four week incubation period; it is difficult if not impossible to determine the specific incident in which valley fever was contracted. Therefore, employees are not eligible for (EIDL), and

WHEREAS, (3) Thirty five thousand (35,000) new case are diagnosed each year in California alone. All individuals are susceptible to Valley Fever Coccidioidomysis), but people who engage in activities that disturb the soil are at increased risk.

RESOLVED, (A) That CDF Firefighters use all means possible to change Section 10.8 to include Valley Fever (Coccidioidomysis) as a presumptive illness, qualifying for Enhanced Industrial Disability Leave that does not have to be specific to "responding to, returning from, or fighting active fire as defined in PRC 4103, 4104, 4170 and 4170.5", and

RESOLVED, (B) Be it further that this resolution be move into CDF Firefighters Policy until achieved.


"In the U.S., it was first discovered and very prevalent in the California's San Joaquin Valley, hence its more popular name, San Joaquin Fever or Valley Fever. Coccidioidomycosis occurs in a primary and in a secondary form. The primary form, due to inhalation of windborne spores, varies in severity from that of the common cold to symptoms resembling those of influenza. The secondary form is a virulent and severe, chronic, progressive and granulomatous (a mass of nodular tissue resulting from inflammation, injury or infection) disease resulting in involvement of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues, viscera, the central nervous system and lungs. Coccidioidomycosis may affect anyone, but if you are pregnant or your immune system is weak, you are especially vulnerable." NBC News 18, Lexington, KY.

Anyone who has been around fires knows that as the fire season progresses, firefighters' immune systems are compromised due to fatigue, smoke, and lack of proper nutrition and hydration. This emerging hazard needs to be addressed to mitigate the hazards to our wildland firefighters, regardless of affiliation.

8/4 I will chime in as I have lived in areas for the past 27 years where valley fever is quite often contacted. In fact have a very good friend who had to have a lung removed as a result of it.

If my dimming memory serves me right it is from a fungus in the ground and becomes airborne when the ground is disturbed, Of course digging a fire line can do this quite well, but even worse would be when dozer lines are put in. Couple this with winds and you can have a problem.

Old Man of the Dept
8/4 Doug, Gordon,

I've got a line on some of the ECHS from 1973 and can forward that list to

Old Fire Guy

8/4 (Old Man of the Department) chime in..... We need to know and
understand the hazards associated with wildland fire suppression.

8/3 Ab,

Recently several wildland firefighters in California have been diagnosed with Valley Fever and are undergoing treatment and/or observation. Valley fever is also known as Coccidioidomycosis, San Joaquin Valley Fever, and Coccidiosis.

Valley Fever is an endemic fungus that is most common in Kern, Kings, Tulare, and San Luis Obispo counties, but it is also found at high levels throughout the foothills of the San Joaquin Valley and the central coastal ranges in California. Valley Fever is also highly endemic in other parts of the southwest, particularly around Phoenix and Tucson.

Valley Fever Map: www.ispe.arizona.edu/climas/research/vf/figures/figure1.phpl

General Valley Fever Info: www.dhpe.org/infect/valley.phpl

Mayo Clinic Info on Valley Fever: www.mayoclinic.com/health/valley-fever/DS00695

Cedars-Sinai Info on Valley Fever: www.csmc.edu/5750.phpl

For the Techies Only (National Institutes of Health): www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001322.php

"The medical and indirect costs for people with the most benign illness range from $3,000 to $5,000 per case. For those who experience a more severe illness, costs climb from $30,000 to $300,000 - especially for those who get meningitis or who are hospitalized for a long time. The average is $8,000 per case overall." John Caldwell, Director of Clinical Research, Kern Medical Center.

"This disease is serious, and can be fatal. It exacts a tremendous toll in personal and community resources. Valley Fever can't be eliminated, like smallpox and polio, but it can be controlled. We believe we have the basic knowledge, tools and people to develop a vaccine." Hans Einstein, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P., Professor of Clinical Medicine, U.S.C. School of Medicine, Medical Director, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

If you suspect you may have been exposed to Valley Fever in conjunction with your wildland firefighter duties, please follow applicable agency protocols to document exposure and seek medical consultation or treatment as needed. Long term complications such as chronic pulmonary coccidioidomycosis (NIH, 2006) "can develop 20 or more years after initial infection which may not have been recognized, diagnosed, or treated at the time."


Do seasonal, contract and AD firefighters have insurance to pay for the costs? I have a friend who almost died from it. She still has shortness of breath at times. She couldn't pass the WCT. (Old Man of the Department, this is not the time to chime in... Tongue firmly in cheek.) Ab.

8/3 Re RJM and GPS formats,

There was a paper floating around Region that established the standard
format as hddd°mm.mmm' (Lat/Long in Degrees and decimal minutes).
The reason given was that aircraft use this format.


8/3 To The Old Man of the Dept:

Sir, your comments are well put and of great value. I love GPS, but when push comes to shove, got to have that compass and map on hand. Even with GPS must have the area map. However GPS can see through smoke, inversion and fog.

My old hand held even will allow you to enter the variation so it displays in magnetic headings/bearings.
Actually that is what provoked my question, what map series are used for fire?


8/3 Hey Matthew,

Just click on the links tab on top of page, scroll down to training section
and look for the link for the New York one. Its out on the Island.
Great place to train.

Ex-New Yorker in R6

Here's the Links page under Training and Education. Ab.

8/3 Cy by fire fighter 1 course, I am presuming you are
looking for the S-131 and L-280 courses. If so
Antelope Valley College in Lancaster will be offering
both this coming fall as short term courses on

8/3 Anyone know if there are any Forest Service type 1 firefighter classes that take
place in the Southern California area? Thanks!


8/3 Competitive Outsourcing Update

The so-called “competitive” outsourcing program is a major threat to Forest Service firefighters. For whatever reason, this program is now on the fast track. The agency plans to perform outsourcing studies on over 20,000 agency jobs over the next few years, many performed by red-carded employees.

Congress has put restrictions in place designed to protect firefighters from mindless outsourcing, but so far the Forest Service has simply ignored them. Stronger language to protect firefighters is in this year’s Interior Appropriations bill (HR 5386). The bill has passed the House and is waiting for Senate action. The Forest Service has already told the White House that it intends to ignore at least some of the restrictions on outsourcing firefighters in the pending law as well.

NFFE and FWFSA are working together on this important legislative issue. To see our joint press release, go to www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/CSIndex/CSIndex.phpl or to www.fwfsa.org. We are also working with our Congressional contacts to address this issue.

The White House is totally committed to its privatization agenda. It will take strong Congressional action to stop it. What’s needed is for Congress to use its power of the purse to say, “Of the funds appropriated by this or any other Act, none may be used in fiscal year 2007 for competitive sourcing studies and related activities by the Forest Service.”

To make this happen, we need as many folks as possible to contact their Senators. Ask them to pressure Senate leadership to bring the Interior Appropriations bill (HR 5386) to the floor, and to support an amendment to cut off funds for “competitive sourcing.” Contact info for Senators is at www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

Also, call your House rep and ask him/her to work for the same amendment. Contact info is at www.house.gov.

In contacting your elected reps, use your own equipment (phone or computer) on your own time.

Casey Judd, Business Manager, FWFSA
Mark Davis, NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

8/3 Shane and Jeff Monument:

The unveiling of the monument for Jeff and Shane on July 22 was a very sad but special day for us. It was heartwarming to see so many family and friends paying tribute to Jeff and Shane.

We appreciate and are overwhelmed by the hours of work that have gone into the design and sculpting of the bronzes and the building of the base for the monument.

We want to thank Steve Kimball, Dennis Fogle and everyone who got the project started. We want to thank Drew Brown for all of the work he did on the bronzes and Randy Brown and Julie Pepper for their work on the foundation and the bridge.

We also want to thank Vicki Minor for all of her help and also “for just for being Vicki”.

The monument and the base it sits on are truly a work art and a wonderful tribute to Jeff and Shane. We hope it will be a place where people can come to reflect and will also serve as a reminder to firefighters and everyone how precious life really is.

We would encourage anyone who passes through Salmon to take the time to go to Indianola to see the monument and absorb the ambiance of the monument and its surroundings.

We also want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during the past three years and for all of the kind posts that have been given to Jeff. He was such special a young man, who is truly loved by his family and friends. He was the kind of person that people were drawn to.

He is deeply missed and will always be loved by many.

Diz Allen, Jeff’s Mom

Thanks Diz, we hold those guys in our hearts. Photos of their Monument here: Shane and Jeff 1, Shane and Jeff 2, Shane and Jeff 3. Ab.

8/3 To firefighters at large....

Gordon King and Doug Campbell who are former El Cariso
Hotshot Superintendents and they have been talking about a
reunion. Is there someone who can help us with
how to go about setting up this event?

Doug & Gordon

So ya want to have a party... Ab.

8/3 Thanks everyone, for replying to my message! If anyone would like to reach me directly
regarding Tom’s days on the shots, please contact me at zsaznme@yahoo.com.

Thanks again for your prompt feedback!


Office of Fire and Aviation
3833 South Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705

To: Designated Agency Safety and Health Official (DASHO)

Subject: Expanded (72 Hour) Report for the New York Peak Fire

Number of Injured Employees: Six

Narrative: Eldorado Hot Shots responded to the New York Peak fire around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25 and were conducting burn out activities near Leonard Ranch near Denio Junction in NV. At approximately 5 p.m. a vortex (e.g., dust devil, fire whirl) developed suddenly and three firefighters received serious burn injuries. They were evacuated by air ambulance and hospitalized. One firefighter was treated and released from Humboldt General Hospital in Winnemucca. Two other firefighters were flown to Lion’s Burn Care Center at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Three additional firefighters were later treated for minor burns locally and released. An Entrapment/Burnover Investigation Team was activated on Tuesday night and arrived on Wednesday, July 26 to begin investigating the incident. The team consists of both BLM and Forest Service employees:

  • Team Lead: Ed Singleton, BLM Albuquerque District Office Manger
  • Chief Investigator: Kathy Greer, BLM Utah State Safety Manager
  • Safety Advisor: Stan Adams, Richfield Field Office/Ashley National Forest Interagency Safety Officer
  • Technical Experts:
    o Gary Jarvis, R4 Fuels Program Manager
    o Jerry McGowan, Fire Operations, Stanislaus National Forest
    o Hector Madrid, BLM New Mexico Fire Management Officer
  • Union Representative: Dan Duefrene, Shasta-Trinity National Forest

The team participated in a site visit with the Eldorado Hot Shots to review site operations during the incident and to conduct crew interviews. Data is being gathered to support the investigation. Preliminary findings indicate that fire behavior and a sudden weather change were significant factors in this incident and that a burn over did occur. Another significant finding was related to material factors. Had a bulldozer not remained with the crew for a short period of time, more serious injuries would have occurred. Two firefighters remain hospitalized for their injuries. The investigation will continue as more witness interviews are conducted and data is analyzed. Personal protective equipment is being sent to Missoula Technical Development Center for further analysis. A final report will be issued within 45 days of the incident.

/s/Ed Singleton, Entrapment/Burnover Investigation Team Lead

cc: BLM Safety Manager, WO-740
Office of Fire and Aviation, Division of Fire Operations Chief

8/3 The 'All Hands' letter is out for NPS

August 2, 2006
To: Regional Directors
Attn: Superintendents
From: for Director /s/ Steve Martin

Subject: Staff Support for 2006 Wildland Fire Season

The 2006 fire season has escalated. On Saturday, July 29, 2006, the National Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group declared a National Preparedness Level 5, based on the prevalence of large-scale project type fires in several geographic areas creating intense competition for wildland fire suppression and support resources.

This fire season, many parts of the country have experienced major fire activity that started last November and carried through much of the winter. A chain of weather events now has set in place conditions that are resulting in another potentially severe and dangerous fire season that will place significant demands on our resource capability.

Successful and safe responses to the rigorous demands of an above-average fire season require a concerted effort by National Park Service (NPS) employees at all levels of the organization and all disciplines. Requests will be made for above average numbers of employees from parks, for assistance both within and outside home units. Initial preparations and long-term planning should be done now. I am asking regional directors and park superintendents to ensure that our employees and equipment are ready for another difficult fire season.

The following sections clarify areas where most questions occur related to support of wildland fire activities. Please review these sections and disseminate to appropriate staff members.

Park Operations ? As preparedness levels change and the call for assistance broadens, base park operations and visitor services may have to change due to the need to shift staff and equipment to fire suppression efforts. Plan for this before it becomes a crisis. Each superintendent should consider how park operations may be changed at each preparedness level. Following are some considerations:

* Some services may be reduced, such as visitor center hours.
* Some facilities must operate regardless of the preparedness level, such as wastewater treatment plants.
* Adequate staff must be present in the park to provide essential and critical services.

Resource Availability ? National preparedness levels established by the MAC Group are dictated by burning conditions, fire activity and resource availability, and guide continual preparations for worsening situations. Resource availability is the area of greatest concern.

Preparedness Levels 1 ? 5 are described in the National Interagency Mobilization Guide (NMG) available on the web at www.nifc.gov/news/mobguide/index.phpl. Descriptions of these various preparedness levels, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the most severe, are found in NMG Chapter 20, section 26, pages 73-80, and may be helpful to you in your long-range planning. All offices are to assess their need for qualified fire personnel and make available those not essential to initial attack or critical park operations. Permanent employees should be assigned to overhead assignments, wherever possible, while seasonal employees generally should fill commitments for crew assignments. Those personnel that have received additional training since their last assignment should be identified for a qualifying trainee assignment into that newly acquired skill. Regions are to expedite all mobilization efforts in concert with their cooperators.

At National Preparedness Levels 4 and 5, all qualified personnel will be made available for firefighting or support assignments. Because of the demands for firefighting personnel, some fuel treatment activities such as prescribed fire and burn unit preparation may be postponed. However, mechanical projects under contract should be continued, and critical oversight personnel should continue to be assigned to these projects. If there are questions about specific situations and circumstances, please contact your regional fire management officer.

Information Dissemination ? As services are reduced to address national firefighting priorities, we will increase the information program to assure that park visitors are aware of and understand the need for reductions in hours of operation or suspension of programs.

Backfill ? Program managers are reminded that they have authority to shift regular hours to fire accounts (Base 8) or they have backfilling authority for positions assigned to emergency wildland fire operations. See Shifting Regular Hours to Fire Accounts (Base 8), page 4, Chapter 19, RM-18 and Backfilling, page 5, Chapter 19, RM-18. RM-18 is on the web at www.nps.gov/fire/fire/fir_wil_pla_reference18.phpl.

I expect all parks and offices to contribute fully to the effort, as we remain committed to providing an appropriate level of support to NPS and interagency wildland fire suppression activities. Any questions related to this information may be directed to your Regional Fire Management Officer, or Mike Wallace, NPS Fire Director and Acting Division Chief, Fire and Aviation, at the Fire Management Program Center in Boise, at 208-387-5225.

Cc: Associate Regional Directors, Operations
Regional Fire Management Officers
8/3 Don't quit teaching and learning the maps and compass, as satellites can
go down and batteries die. But maps and compasses seem to work in
spite of all our modern tech.

The Old Man of the Dept
8/3 Lori;

Thanks for the reply. I hope to get your e-mail from Ab and will be in
contact with you ASAP.

Lancer 212
8/3 Hi Abercrombie,

My name is Matt N<snip>, I'm from Brooklyn, NY and have been offered to go out to California with this contractor that I met. The problem is there really isn't any place out here in New York that does any of the cert classes that I have to take to go out there. The classes I need to take are S130/190, L180 and I100. Do you know of any place that would offer these classes in NY or in any surrounding states? Thank you, for your time and help.

Matthew <snip>

8/3 Cara,

The Region 5 vacancy announcement from your link shows: Salary: $18,385.00 - $20,278.00 Annual

Wow, our agency salary looks so appealing. Do food stamps come with that apprenticeship?

This is not an attack at you personally, but maybe someone should review this. I know it does not include locality pay, but to have this as the "poster salary" for the announcement...well that’s just terrible.

8/2 Ab's

Totally impertinent to any real discussion going on but I am curious, and I think others might be.

I am quite familiar with GPS and it's issues and accuracies, having spent some time playing with Big and small "boats" and using it for various scientific work. Have worked with millimeter accuracy differential GPS for precision measurement. That requires a very "local" station, like within a mile or so and line of site. Typical differential works off a reference station up to hundreds of miles away. (MM accuracy requires post collection analysis by rather elaborate programs.)

I do not see the day to day need for even basic differential in the fire service. These days with dithering off, basic GPS is accurate enough to get resources where they need to be even in dense woods. Those signals which come down from the sky do not have, for the most part, the bounce and skip etc. associated with differential referencing from terrestrial stations. Likely completely accurate enough to get rescue to a down FF without ambiguity. For the final, legal description of the fire, from aircraft mapping can possibly see fooling with differential, but day to day I believe it is not worth the effort. But I am not in the FS.

I am curious though why different fire units use different GPS co-ordinate systems.
NORCAL GACC Sitrep reports locations using the hddd°mm'ss" system (Lat/Long in Degrees, Minutes and then seconds without a decimal).

I have heard CDF AA and an occasional unit report locations using hddd°mm.mmm' (Lat/Long in Degrees and decimal minutes).

Have also heard (and ESRI reports in) hddd.dddd° (Lat/Long in Degrees and decimal degrees).

Does not bother me I can figure any location sitting on my computer.

USFS (CNF when I can hear them) seem to report locations in "Legal Description" (tract/town and section). They likely do not have GPS on the engines; Non fire takes all fire the money, guys that need it cant get it.

Which brings up another point I am curious about. What are the base maps used for fire maps on INCIWEB?

Possibly GISgirl has the answers.

Thanks, RJM
8/2 Ab,

I have a question to the readers at They Said regarding the Safenet program and its effectiveness in addressing and correcting safety problems.


What if.. ???????????

1) What if a Fed employee submitted a Safenet on a genuine safety problem that was well known, documented, and observed by over two hundred fire employees and documented on a dispatch tape recording?.. and

2) What if this was a recurring problem as documented on other Safenets submitted by other Fed employees on the same unit?.. and

3) What if the Fed employee discussed the Safenet in advance (as requested in the Safenet instructions) with his supervisor, his safety manager, and the person responsible for the program in question. and the Forest Deputy FMO?...and

4) What if the Fed employee gave all of his contact information including name, telephone number, and e-mail address to the Safenet program system?.. and

5) What if the employee (ADFMO), his supervisor(s) (DFMO and Forest Deputy FMO), or the local program expert were never contacted regarding the specifics of the SAFETY HAZARD submitted?.. and

5) What if the person supplying "corrective action" was a WO employee who was not familiar with the problem, did not contact the person(s) submitting the Safenet for additional info, or the program area manager who understands the problem that was occurring and how it affects safety?.. and

6) What if someone was injured or killed because something that has been addressed as a safety issue in the past was not corrected or mitigated, even though it was elevated to the National (WO) level in a Safenet several times?

The Safenet Program has become part of the "process" and "CYA" rather than the fix to safety issues... Somebody needs to get a clue and return this tool to the original intent... The Safenet program could be a great resource for SAFETY... Lose the bureaucracy and head towards commanders intent before folks get killed...

7) What if the problem continues?

I hate to add this comment at the end, this "hypothetical" scenario is a real one.. My bad.. It happened over the last two months, and continues without true and substantive corrective action to this date. My contact info is available.

Sign Me ..... What If????
8/2 Ab,

I thought I'd share this NWCG Safety Advisory that was issued today in case it doesn't make it to the field in a timely manner.

(Note to USFS WO fire managers with FS ALL access in Lotus Notes..... Please use FS ALL to make sure that this notice goes to all employees, fire and non-fire, who may be called to respond, or support fires this fire season. Relying on the "nine layer" e-mail system to get safety advisories out is not effective or efficient and has shown failures in the past).


P.S. - It has been great over the last two months seeing some IIMT's utilizing "Commander's Intent" when formulating the incident objectives on the ICS 202..... and imparting what both the IC and agency administrator expects of the troops on the line.... Doctrine is still out there......

TO :
FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 08/02/2006

As we enter National Preparedness Level 5, the Federal Fire and Aviation Safety Team (FFAST), in coordination with the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC), would like to emphasize the following key safety points:

o A high number of entrapments and burnovers have occurred this fire season. One common denominator in these incidents has been RAPID CHANGES IN FIRE BEHAVIOR. Review NWCG Safety Advisory: Extreme Fire Behavior (issued 7/20/06): http://safenet.nifc.gov/notice.nsf -- study it with your firefighting colleagues. In addition, the following are concerns for firefighter and public safety:
+ Expect reburn potential
+ Winds have highly variable direction and speed
+ Anticipate extreme rates of spread and extraordinary fire behavior
+ Fire whirls developing from terrain, dry atmospheric condition and strong surface instability.

o Driving still remains one of the highest risks during wildland fire operations.
+ Recent accident investigations have discovered personnel are not wearing seat belts. Seat belts are required to be worn at all times during vehicle operations - NO EXCEPTIONS! Local fire units and incident management teams are encouraged to conduct spot checks to ensure compliance.
+ To help manage driver fatigue, whenever possible, mobilization should not occur prior to 0500; and during demobilization resources should be able to return to home units or reassignments no later than 2200 hours.

o Resource shortages are already occurring. Recognizing this, it is important that the fatigue of firefighters and support personnel be closely monitored, and that proactive countermeasures to mitigate fatigue be identified and implemented. Remember work/rest guidelines are the minimum and supplementary time off to reduce fatigue should be given as deemed necessary.

o The Draft 2006 NWCG Safety Gram is attached for review and can be utilized for briefing purposes.
8/2 C64 & GIS Girl,
Thanks SO much for your help. It really means a lot.
8/2 Update on Eldorado Hotshots, Jess & Jessie,

Jeff and Jesse are doing very well... See Gary's comments below.
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation really stepped up on this one as they
always do. We are very fortunate to have such an organization within our
community. Please checkout their website and information about the 52 club
when you have a chance. Keep Jesse, Jeff and their families in your
thoughts and prayers. They still have a long way to go in the recovery

As for the rest of the Eldorado Hotshots the crew did an AAR in Las Vegas.
Gary reports it was a very successful AAR. The hospital allowed the entire
crew into the room with the patients. The remainder of the crew has now
returned to the Forest and is on two days of R/R followed by two regular
days off. Saturday is their first day back on duty. They will be engaged
in tool and vehicle rehab on Saturday and available when they are ready to
go. This will be decided by the forest.

The investigation team has completed their on-site work and has disbanded
they will complete their report over the next 45 days. Thanks to Jerry
McGowan for stepping up to work on this investigation. Jerry is now with
his team on the Kingsley Complex. The 72 hour report should be out today.
I will forward it when I have it...

Share with those who may be concerned...

The 72 Hour Report can be found here: Report

8/2 Update on Eldorado Hotshots, Jess & Jessie,

Jeff and Jesse continue to receive a tremendous amount of support from
family, friends, the Forest Service, BLM, the WFF and many others. I'm
glad to report reimbursement has been approved for the families and the
WFF. Details for both Jeff and Jesse's continued treatment are still in
the works so I'm not able to release yet. Jeff and Jesse have improved but
some of the burns in some areas were more severe than first thought.
That's about all I can say about their condition at this point. Some have
asked for the Wildland Firefighters Foundation web site address. It is
wffoundation.org. The Stanislaus Hotshots called this morning and plan to
stop by on their trip home from Utah this week. Many other crews,
individuals and Ranger Districts have called, sent cards, movies,
magazines, etc. Local news media are interested in their story as well but
are respecting their privacy. Thanks again for your support, Jeff and
Jesse, their families and the Eldorado Hotshots appreciate it all. Please
remember not to spread news or opinions that haven't been confirmed by the
facts; that aren't out yet. More to come. gary

8/2 Recruitment bulletins for the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program are now out for Forest Service Region 4, 5, and 6 as well as BLM California. All the announcements are posted at http://www.wfap.net/recruitment.phpl .

Also, a reminder to all GS-4 Apprentices and seasonal to get their applications in for the GS-5/6 demo positions in California. If you have a year in as a GS-4 or meet the college requirements you can apply. Links to these announcements are also posted in the WFAP website.

8/2 Re: Shari's request,

First off fire geek spent many an hour with tons of other gov folks developing GPS for ICS aka GPS for Fire Management. Some material is posted on-line at the NPS- though I am not sure the vintage:

The group that developed the material "officially" and currently maintains it is the Geospatial Training Advisory Group and thier website (including contact info for questions/citation) is:
There is some on-line pre-course work for the GPS course posted that includes two Pre-Work lessons and a Pre-Work Test. Each lesson is comprised of two files, a Word file and a Powerpoint file. The first lesson is Pre-Work, Introduction to GPS. The second lesson is Pre-Work, Using Maps with GPS.

Also the NWCG Field Observer's SME review group updated the Maps and Compass for Firefighters (pre-work for DPRO, FOBS, etc) in 2005/2006 to include GPS. I lost track of the status or if it is posted but maybe someone lurking from the NWCG Training folks in Boise can help out?

On other news to my buddies out there- it's only been 4 months but I am officially going back into public safety! I got a job working for a CAD vendor down in SoCal doing GIS. I'll be working with metro/city fire/police/EMS. So while it's not quite wildland- it's still fire. I'll take that trade off for getting to live at home.

If anyone is at the ESRI User's Conference next week send me a message through Ab and I'll give you a tour or just have a beer :-)

Stay safe out there to all and to my Sac Metro boys on assignment- it's good to see you back in the game.
8/2 Dear Ab,
We wanted to report that once again the Prineville Hotshots have taken the lead in outstanding humanitarian support to the foundation. Chris Pahl, who had downed two hamburgers and one sausage took on bets that within the next five minutes he could down 5 more hamburgers and hold it for a half hour without puking. He won the bets and forwarded his winnings to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. We're proud of you, Chris, and we heard you're on a vegetarian diet now.

Thanks for your support!.
Vicki Minor

8/2 Hey I thought i would let you know the SW Fire Use Management Team has a website now. Its a work in progress but if you want to link to it the address is swfumt.com


8/2 To the folks asking why a "let my people go" letter has not been released:

Such letters imply the situation is getting out of hand. Two things "the decider" is firm on: 1) things are in control and 2) I'm always right. In 2006 national emergencies will always be dealt with decisively, at least according to fearless leader. Do
you really expect such a letter this year? Don't bank on it. That would imply things are getting out of control. How can that be when we've past "mission accomplished"?

Of course, such a letter's release later today will probably prove me wrong tomorrow.

8/2 Shari, WA DNR uses fire line explosives to make line. I got to see them blow about 1/2 mile on the ridge behind my house in '94. They use det cord and RF ignition, string it out and when you come to a tree, take a few wraps around it, the bigger tree the more turns you use. The line is still pretty much there 12 years later. (I apologize to the experts if I've over simplified). Of course I'm not on Flick, but can tell you it's East Slope P.Pine and D. Fir with some true firs mixed in, STEEP(like up to 100%), hasn't burnt there in a long time, probably 80-100 year old second growth, but there may be some 3 to 4' dbh.

Only way into Stehekin is boat, plane or hike. Friend's cabin is right below the origin and there appears to have been some local vs Federal conflict during IA, but I don't believe much I read in the Wenatchee paper and haven't talked to the folks that were there yet except over the radio, but it eventually involved the Governor. Tell your guys to stay safe!
(and stay out of politics) C64

8/2 To the fire community,

How wonderful to see that we got through July without a single fatality! While I still have bad days, this is definitely a high point for me. Keep safe out there and watch out for each other.

To Lancer 212,
My advice - apply to AVUE. We always lose people in late August/early Sept that are heading back to school. Plus, the AVUE contract has been renewed and will be around for at least 1 more year, so if your application is in there, it will be good next year too. Just remember to recertify it every 3 months. If you need any help, Ab can give you my email addy. I will be more than glad to give you any help you need. Good luck!!

Lori Greeno
8/1 Am I wasting my time by applying for a Forestry Aid (fire) position via the AVUE system at this time of year? Does anybody have any advice? Thanks.

Lancer 212

While you're waiting to hear an answer, there is a quality list of private suppression organizations on the Jobs Page who can hire you tomorrow if they like your qualifications. OA

8/1 Preparedness Level Five, why aren't all federal resources available? I just received an email from a former region 9 employee.

On Friday last week we went to PL 5 nationally for wildland fire suppression. This is the highest level, indicating the greatest gap between resource needs and availability of resources (human and otherwise) to fight fire. We have not, however, received any additional direction from the Regional Office or the Chief, nor have we been relieved of our responsibilities to accomplish our work targets. If you are qualified in ICQS please speak with your supervisor about your availability for dispatch. A list of critical resource needs and the names of individuals on Forest qualified in those skills has been provided to the FLT. If you have any questions about your quals or red card status, please contact Fire Dispatch. For your information on status of fires, you can follow the recently activated Fire link on our Wane National Forest website under Supervisor’s Office/Operations Group.

No wonder there's such a large group of resources no being released to go on a fire detail. How many other forest are holding back resources?
Is this normal?
8/1 To anyone with contact info for Alpine Hotshots:

My late Husband, Thomas Sherwood, was a crewmember and assistant saw boss for Alpine Hotshots during the 1986 and 1987 seasons when they were stationed at Crater Lake, Oregon and Yellowstone NP. Tom died in September of 2000, and I have recently been wondering what to do with a lot of his firefighting memorabilia. I have quite a few reels of slides from different fires the crew fought those seasons and memorabilia—t-shirts, screens, etc., in my storage unit in Idaho. Is anyone from those days still on the crew? I thought I saw Dave Neimi’s name somewhere in connection with Alpine in Rocky Mtn. NP, but not sure.

If anyone can contact them and see if they have an interest in some “vintage” Alpine Hotshot stuff, please let me know. I may be traveling back through Idaho later this month, and I’d be happy to gather up the items if there’s interest in them.

I must say, your website has brought back a lot of memories for me—I sorta miss those days—very exciting times for Tom and I, as a young couple. It’s all fond (well, some not-so-fond) memories now.

Please feel free to contact me at this e-mail address and/or forward/post my message for anyone interested.

Thanks for your consideration!

Best regards,

Stephanie D. Sherwood

Note: We'll keep Stephanie from having her inbox stuffed with spam by relaying any messages for her. Use the Email Ab button at the top/right of the page to send a message. Thanks for writing Stephanie, it was nice to hear from you. OA.

8/1 Misery Whip,

If you supervised a module containing all the FS people who understand the color-coded doctrine released by the Chief, you'd be lucky to come out of a position grade review as a GS-4. It will likely be even less recognizable to the field as the risk management office makes their changes.

vfd cap'n
8/1 Hey, sorry to break on on this incredibly cerebral stuff, but...can anyone give me some real time info on the Flick? Blasters? Why and how are they using blasters? Is anyone here from that part of the country who could give me some insight? We have fallers going in and I just wanted to give them some kind of useful info, i.e. tree type, geology, etc. And, especially burn history. Anyone?

Also, we're adding an "Air-to-Ground" & "Maps/GPS" to our faller refresher training next spring. Does anyone have suggestions or guidance in terms of curriculum that might already exist that we could utilize or borrow from?

Thanks for your help.

8/1 Blackbull Wildfire Services is starting a 4-day Basic firefighter training class on Thursday August 3rd in Missoula, and will offer a 8-hour "refresher" in conjunction with it on Friday August 4th. Call them at 406-543-0013 for details. OA
8/1 Misery Whip:

In your post starting "Like many others, I have been wondering what, if anything, is happening with Doctrine....." You asked, "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?"

The only thing I can say is that the ultimate success of doctrine will require a supportive environment. For doctrinal efforts to take root, people are going to need to be given the opportunity to take action, to "give it a try" so-to-speak. Fire folk need to be able to begin (without seeking approval, without relying on some sort of central permission, and using their judgement) to take a doctrinal approach to their work.

Breaking people out of the comfort of the current rules-n-checklist culture will be tough. I think that for the doctrinal approach to happen, will require that the people at the pointy-end of the spear receive coaching, counseling, and mentoring that prepares them for the (still theoretical) brave, new, doctrinal world. Right now, it's words on a page, and it isn't going to just happen.

Sign me, GGFire
8/1 With what appears to have the potential of a long, busy fire season and the impending return of many firefighters to college, there is a good selection of companies advertising for immediate need employees on the Jobs Page. I just added Red Truck Wildfire who currently has openings in Boise, ID. If you need training first, Colorado Fire Camp has upcoming training classes for new firefighters. With enough interest they may even be able to add more. Check 'em out and tell ''em OA sent ya!
8/1 GG Fire

I remember the summer of never-ending smoke of the 1988 Happy Camp Complex. We're on the other side of the Trinities, but it seeped and creeped along the valleys and filled our up bottom to top. It was creepy. I left our valley that summer for cleaner air.

The Bar Complex is going to be a repeat of the 1999 Big Bar. It might have been caught small with enough hotshots and air support, but you know how it is once fire gets established in those steep mountains. Here's part of what I wrote to friends. Luckily most were there during 1999 and they are more "trained up", largely by Larry Wright (now retired but still fighting fire). That Big Bar Complex got me to leave my former life, hooked forever.

The Bar Complex of fires are comprised of the Oven and the Bake fires that were started by lightning striking Bakeoven and JimJam Ridges, respectively, several days ago. Because of the extent of the lightning strikes across northern California and the lightning fires already burning to the east and in SoCal, there were not enough fire resources (air support and hotshots) to "pick up" the fires nearest us on Initial or Extended Attack. (They did hook a lot of the fires caused by the 1200 strikes, but ours were very remote.) Here's a map showing lots of current large fires burning; many, many of the western fires were caused by lightning strikes in hot, steep terrain. http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/

History shows that when fires in our extremely steep NorCal country burn for longer than 36 hours without containment resources, they get bigger and more unstoppable. After a certain acreage, it's unlikely they can be put out before the rains come in the Fall. This is because rolling burning logs and rocks are already spreading fire downhill into new drainages, often even past containment lines, if and when we can build them. Fire gets established where it comes to rest and then burns uphill later... and... on it spreads. The two fires near Denny are already on their way -- spreading, joining, becoming bigger and burning long term.

Thanks to everyone who was to kind and willing to "let me into the fire circle". Looking back, in 1999 and after, some of what I've inadvertently done is change locals perceptions of the Forest Service and firefighters. Larry Wright (Branch) and Candy Dillingham (PIO) and groundpounders did their parts, too, on that in the Denny area.

Last few days I've been visiting with friends there and catching up. This morning I realized that my firefighter friends have old stereotyped perceptions of the Denny community that it no longer deserves. It has really changed. The bad ones are gone, moved away or dead. The rest of us are all older, mellowed out? There's quite a bit of "gentrification" with people of all professions getting away. It doesn't look too different. Most people like to "rough it", but it is full of neat folks. When the country's not burning, it is rugged, gorgeous, blue skies, eagles, ringtail cats, New River, and cool nights and hot days that make you want to jump in. Ummmmm.

So when you come to fight fire here this summer, best bring a new attitude, or I might just have to adjust it for you! (grin)


PS to Jody: If you don't have the info on the 10 fire orders as rules of engagement/disengagement, take a look in the Archives, documents worth reading for Karl Brauneis' stuff. OK, here it is: "Original Intent" Ten Standard Fire Fighting Orders . See they're not hard and fast RULES, but guidelines for safe firefighting. Now what you need on top of that as a beginning groundpounder is a course in the Campbell Prediction System so you know how to better "read" the fire on the ground.

PPS to Tom Annand and to Dave Sinclear and to other ICs: Thanks for "disengaging" our folks when conditions exceeded capacity to safely fight fire following the lightning busts.

8/1 Regarding no name's post on 7/29

The Tahquitz crew has not been activated due to no available crew bosses
across the district and forest. Apparently, due to engine staffing requirements
engines can not free up anyone available to fill the assignment. This answer
was provided from a forest BC when I asked......Hope it helps

8/1 Cris, you're a piece of work.

Hang in there, be safe!

~Archive: July-06
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