September, 2006

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9/30 From the Plumas NF: Kudos to the Helicopter Manager, Don Hamilton who
is retiring after over 33 years with the Forest Service.

Our best to you Don.

9/30 Re: Human Factors vs. Organizational and System Influences.


"High reliability organizations try to understand the systemic reasons for why the accident happened - rather than focusing on punishing the individual." ~ Dr. Kathleen Sutcliffe, Managing the Unexpected in Prescribed Fire and Fire Use Operations: A Workshop on the High Reliability Organization, 2004. (pdf file)


"Our message this week is that expectations can get you into trouble unless you create a mindful infrastructure that is continually tracking: small failures, oversimplification, operations, capabilities for resilience, and shifting locations of expertise."

"Failure to move toward this infrastructure magnifies the damage produced by unexpected events and impairs reliable performance." ~ Dr. Karl Weick, Managing the Unexpected in Wildland Fire Operations: A Third Workshop on High Reliability Organizing, 2006.  (pdf file)

TP 13844 - Score Your Safety Culture by Dr. James Reason, 2000. Provided by Transport Canada.

Above is a self assessment that is easily taken on-line, free of charge.


9/30 I doubt that the Day fire is the longest burning fire in California history...
two that come to mind as long burning fires are the Marble Cone fire
in the Ventana Wilderness near Monterey in 1977 and the Hog Fire
at Forks of Salmon also in 1977. Sorry, I don't have accurate data
for the duration of those fires, but Marble Cone burned 175,000 acres
which was 90% of the Ventana Wilderness area.

9/30 Ab, don't really know how long the Panorama fire burned
but all I remember is, it burned into the Thunder fire that
had been burning some time before our crew flew in from
Tahoe in the old Convar.

Firetraveler from long ago

Leave us not forget the Panorama fire, did I date my self?

Ranger Rick Brower
9/30 Fire traveler from long ago,

The Day fire has been active for a long period of time
but is not the longest in Ca. History. Other minor
fires in the past have lasted a month or more. The Big
Bar and that whole group of complexes in Nor. Cal in
the late '90s and the Kirk Complex on the LPF in '99
were longer than the present Day complex as was the
1987 Complex on the Klamath. Its long but not there


9/30 Ab,

I was concerned when I read Concerned Firefighter's" safety issues with the Red Team on the Day fire. There are some pretty serious things there, but what really concerns me is why these are being voiced here and not on SAFENET. This is what SAFENET is for. >From the SAFENET site:

Front line firefighters have another tool that provides a way to be heard and get unsafe situations resolved. SAFENET is a form, and process, that has been in demand by firefighters themselves. It's a method for reporting and resolving safety concerns encountered in wildland fire, prescribed fire or all risk operations. The information provided on the form will also help collect important, safety-related data at the National Interagency Fire Center, to determine long-term trends and problem areas. The development of SAFENET was recommended in Phase III of the Wildland Firefighter Safety Awareness Study. Here are some facts about SAFENET and how it works.

* Anyone can fill out a SAFENET, anytime, to report a valid concern about unsafe situations in wildland fire, prescribed fire, or all risk operations.
* SAFENETS should be submitted to the first line supervisor, whose responsibility it is to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. However, SAFENETS may also be submitted directly to the National Center.
* SAFENET was originally intended for wildland fire operations, but can be used to report on activities such as training, and all-risk events.
* SAFENET forms are available to every firefighter, and can be ordered through the cache system. You can also submit a SAFENET via Internet, or by phone.
* You don't have to identify yourself to fill out a SAFENET, you can do it anonymously. All SAFENETS have names eliminated before posting to the web, however if you do sign your name, it cannot be guaranteed to be kept confidential.
* There is no punishment or penalty for filing a SAFENET, nor is it mandatory.

Concerned firefighter, here is the site. http://safenet.nifc.gov/. Use it, it is for you and all of us.


9/30 Concerned Wildland Firefighter

If you witnessed these safety concerns, you should file a Safenet. Thats
the process to at least get someone looking into what was going on.


9/30 0800hrs Sunday morning is the end of CDF San Diego Battalion Chief Rich Bolton's long career.

I know I am not alone in saying "Thank You" to him for the positive impact he had on so many of our careers. His genuine care and concern for the safety of his firefighters is something I will carry with me throughout my career. He is sitting at Deer Springs Sta 1 tonight and I am sure the phone is ringing off the hook with farewell calls.

(760) 749-8001


9/30 HI Ab and Casey,

Per your message posted on 09-29-06, regarding membership into the FWFSA.

Casey, you are a good man and very knowledgeable about the politics of getting something done through the legislative process and the government bureaucracy. You have been presented a task to improve the conditions and compensations for federal wildland firefighters with less support than you should have from every full-time and seasonal wildland firefighter in the system. Keep going, Casey, and you will succeed.

However, I have an issue regarding membership into the FWFSA that you mentioned. I am a firefighter in California, and have been since starting as a volunteer in 1983. I have been a federal wildland firefighter from 1987 to 1995, and currently work for one of the federal land-management agencies as a GS-0081 structural firefighter. I respond to wildland fires as part of my job every year, both small and large.

I am a strong supporter of the FWFSA, and the time I spent with the federal agencies helped pay for college and support myself, but when I attended a meeting a few years ago in Sacramento when yourself and Mike Preasmeyer were discussing issues, I asked about membership into the organization and was told I COULD NOT JOIN because I was not a GS-462 or GS-455 wildland firefighter any longer. There is an exclusion that exists in FWFSA membership.

I want to see the improvements in pay and benefits for federal wildland firefighter across the board happen. I'd like to see every federal firefighter get the CDF Portal-to-Portal pay, the CDF benefits, some kind of benefit package for seasonal firefighters, and most importantly the ability for federal seasonal firefighters to have their temporary time count toward retirement and to count to service time for permanent status.

Even though I don't work in the federal wildland area regularly, if my federal department closes down or is contracted out to a city department, I may have to go somewhere else to continue my federal career.

I'd like to support the FWFSA as a member, because of the years I spent working for the land management agencies, and of which who's membership I still work with.

Everyone who is a firefighter in the Federal Land-Management Agencies (USFS, BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA) should be a member, because your fees for membership helps bring about the changes needed in the federal bureaucracy to get the changes and benefits you want for your careers, and you need for your families. You don't get something for free, and even as a seasonal firefighter, knowing the benefits I could reap by supporting the FWFSA, I'd find the money to be a member.

Keep doing the good work, Casey, just like you did as the California Professional Firefighters Federal Representative.


You're always welcome to contact Casey directly to see if things have changed. Ab.

9/30 Lots of good issues being aired right now, so I gotta pitch in too.

Once Green, Now Red;
I have much the same background. 8 seasons w/ USFS, then 20 years with municipal. Now I've gone over to "The Dark Side" (contract employee). You said: No quals?; don't even come. R-5 was one of the first areas heading that direction. What happened since I left? Quals are not the only answer, but they're sure the first step.

Hear, hear. You hit the nail. The answer to Q's question is simple. Ethics and morality. The measure of anyone is simply, will they do what they say they'll do. If I'm called to work, I really don't care about a gourmet caterer. Have a workable plan, give us an assignment, communicate. Its not about attaboys, heroism, or even a paycheck. Its about satisfaction in a job done, as well as possible, and raising another generation of rockbreakers.

Concerned WFF;
Excellent point about out-of-area IMT's. I spent 28 years in the Ojai country; moved to R-4. With the minimal number of resources available here, we see a LOT of out-of-region resources on large incidents. Usually they're pretty sharp, or pick up local conditions quickly. But a couple of times (especially this year), we've worked for some Teams that can't seem to adjust. And we've had more than plenty of injuries, Regionally, this season. Hmmmmmm...

How about the Marble Cone, on the Monterey District, late '70's ? Don't remember the actual burn time, just seemed like we were there for about a year.

Pyro 5755
9/30 Concerned Firefighter and all,

We all know firefighter and public safety is of utmost importance. Ab asked me to put the residential and outbuilding losses on the Day fire in perspective from a purely financial point of view. We all know losses in such situations are far more than purely financial. Thank God there has been no loss of life.


So  far the Day Fire (East and West) reports

  • one residence damaged and one residence destroyed and 655 residences threatened;
  • 10 outbuildings/other damaged and 3 destroyed and 49 threatened.

This is the report I pulled from this morning's 209 that uses damage assessment reporting figures with the State of CA standard.

The estimated property saved due to direct fire suppression effort is $20,500,000 in Lockwood Valley.


Be Safe everyone. Watch each others back. Speak up, question, refuse when you need to. Thanks Concerned Firefighter for the heads up. We all need to be aware.

Tahoe Terrie

9/30 Ab,

I think this is really important and needs to be posted on they said. All this information below is true and most of it I saw directly. I think it is really important that you post this so firefighters can know what is happening on the Day Fire East. This information that I am giving you will blow a lot of your minds and make you think about certain teams you may work for. The experience of the team you work for is a real safety issue and people need to know about it.. I don't like to talk bad about teams, but this needs to be shared. And also I think someone needs to look into this team's actions on the Day Fire East, because there are some real questionable things being done that need to be looked at.

While working for the RED TEAM on the Day Fire East, I ran into very many safety issues and problems, which were lining up perfectly for the swiss cheese model to take over. I am glad during my tour, nobody was hurt or died. (Sorry to use that word, but we where lucky nobody did.)

  • First things first, I don't even think that this Southern Team had ever fought fire in Southern California before. That is the first red flag that should come up.
  • Second, every time there was a briefing, every plan had changed, every radio channel was different and resources where always assigned to different divisions than what was in the IAP.
  • Third, every time there was a plan to burn out or a major plan to do anything, they would assign a group of different tac channels. I think on shift, I had to monitor 5 different tac channels for division burnout. That is a safety issue. How are you supposed to monitor 5 tac channels and make sure you catch everything that is going on? It is impossible.
  • Fourth, on numerous shifts, hotshots crews turned down assignments and gave good safety reasons for turning them down, but operations would not listen to them. Every time they turned down an assignment, they where forced into a least trying the assignment anyway. Every time they tried, the outcome was just like the crews said it would be, it wouldn't work and the fire would jump the lines or do its own thing.
  • Fifth, the division sups that the team has with them did not even answer the radio half of the time.
    • I know of two times where the division was in clear communications with everyone, but he would not answer the crews at all during the day when they went to work cutting line. I am not sure why, but he gave the briefing out in the field and then never answered the radio all day on tac or command.
    • Second, when there was the emergency with the engine accident, division would not answer at all on command or tac. He was too worried about getting the burn show started, rather than caring if anyone was injured or what they needed.
  • Sixth, was night operations sup. He was a safety issue by himself. There were several things that I know of that are safety issues to me.
    • First, on numerous occasions, he was caught red handed conducting firing operations by himself without anyone else knowing. Not just small scale, but large scale burnouts and not informing the division or any resources out on the division what he was doing. I know of at least two different nights, where he was caught by resources when he was conducting the burnout operations, both of which never held and one was the one that took out the homes and outbuildings in the Lockwood Valley area.
    • The second was when night operations made the decision that we were burning too slow and that we just needed to pull all the resources out and burn the road, not caring if the road held, which it did not. His words were, "forget holding the road, we need to burn this road now, and get this burnout down and into to the flats." Before this burnout even happened, all the crews turned down the original plan, and came up with one that made more sense. To make this alternative plan happen, it took two sup's telling off night operations, because his plan was completely unsafe and anchored a fire into nothing but a green drainage.

As you can see, there are many things that are lining up in the swiss cheese model, and I only named a few. All this information needs to be passed on to anyone who is going to the Day Fire East and is working for the Red Team. They have a right to know because their safety could depend on it.

Lastly, to top it all off, I think that a full-on investigation needs to be done of the Red Team on the Day Fire East, because many of the outbuildings, the home and other things that were lost by the public might not have been if certain actions had not been taken by night operations. A lot of things were lost that should not have been...

Concerned Wildland Firefighter

9/30 Has the Day fire really been the longest burning fire in CA. history?
I'm pretty sure not. Let's get the old timers memories working again
and make a list.........................

Firetraveler from long ago
9/30 Re: NBC news report on SuperTankers

I have been doing this job long enough to know that the media has no clue! While the 'Super Tankers' may be a useful tool in the tool box (maybe, in certain situations), they should not take the word of homeowners in the path of a fire and aviation contractors that have a vested interest without talking to fire management folks.

It is just sensationalist "journalism" and not reporting of the news.

The Super Scooper has also been touted as the 'silver bullet' to save the day. I have seen the Super Scooper be really effective when it had a nearby water source that was suitable, but that does not mean it is "THE ANSWER", nor are the DC 10 and the 747.

I would love for the media to actually research a topic before they spout off, but it ain't gonna happen!

A news van burnt to the ground on Hwy 18 in 2003, and Chuck Henry cried on camera and apologized for being stupid. That is the best we will see from the "media".

Sign me,
'Dirty Laundry'

Think about that song, and you will get what they do.
9/29 Ab,

NBC's Brian Williams has a stupid new "news" story saying people across the West are asking where the big new firefighting plane is and why it isn't being used. Seems they would research when such a "tool" is useful and when it's not, what kind of groundpounder support is needed to put the fire out even when it's used and how much it costs per hour. Geez, same ol stupidness the politicians push...

So someone want to clue ol Brian in on why it wasnt used when the Day Fire started and why it's not used now?


9/29 Dear Schlimey:

As far as I know, there are no exclusions to membership in the FWFSA. For obvious reasons, the vast majority of our members are employees of the five land-management agencies who are eligible for the special federal firefighter retirement provisions. The potential membership base for this group is huge and obviously those we are trying to reach out to so as to let them know they do in fact have a voice in their futures.. However we also have members who are staff at NIFC, retired wildland firefighters etc.

The desire to be a member comes from what you want out of it. As a federal wildland firefighter, naturally if our legislative agenda passes, benefits will be realized through better pay, benefits & working conditions.

Others are members because they believe in what we are doing. They may not directly benefit from our legislative successes, but believe we are doing the right thing.

There is an obvious conflict in representing federal wildland firefighters and contract companies or the employees thereof in the Halls of Congress. Let's face it, our legislative agenda clearly outlines our vision that the Federal Government should be strengthening the infrastructure of it's wildland firefighting corps by properly compensating federal wildland firefighters which would lead to:

1) reduction or elimination of serious recruitment & retention problems &
2) the reduction of what has come to be an over-reliance on higher-priced non-federal resources.

As a result, our efforts, while improving things for federal wildland firefighters, might have a negative impact on some contracting firms since we are advocating the redirection of a percentage of suppression funds away from higher-priced non-federal resources back to the Nation's own federal firefighting forces.

Let's be candid...there is a feeling among federal wildland firefighters that they are not compensated properly because the Federal Government is too busy paying significantly more to contractors & cooperators. Almost a sense that non-federal resources are taking food off the table of federal wildland firefighters.

Our goal is to change that mindset and provide our federal wildland firefighters the benefits they deserve. That does not require the wholesale elimination of non-federal resources. It will however, require the land-management agencies, primarily the Forest Service to be a bit more cost effective & efficient and learn to do business in a different way.

A great deal of blame can be placed on Congress for failing to oversee the staggering sums expended in fire suppression and the FS's wanton disregard for the intent of the National Fire Plan as it relates to preparedness funding, MEL, etc.

We are always delighted and honored to welcome new members into the FWFSA. I would suspect that you and your employee base would be welcome too. However, I do not believe it practical or appropriate for the FWFSA to work on behalf of both federal wildland firefighters and contract personnel.

If you support what we do and care to join based on that, knowing full well that we are not advocating the elimination of contractors or cooperators, then come on board. But as with every other person thinking about membership, you've got to ask yourself "what's in it for me?" Is joining because we believe in what they are doing good enough, or would there be that expectation that the FWFSA would carry the contractor's legislative torch as well?

We simply can't do that. Navigating congress is problematic enough without making it more difficult for ourselves by trying to represent everyone's interests. However please feel free to visit our website, www.fwfsa.org or contact me directly anytime at cjudd@ fwfsa.org.

I hope that makes some sense.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/29 Mellie questioned my statement that "suppression efforts in the Big Bar Complex were hampered by fuel loadings produced in part by previous wildfires". That's a quote from the ICS 209's filed for that current Big Bar incident. The first reference I noted was on 8/03/06 in block 32. " Fuels and Materials involved". The statement continued in the 209's thru September 14 and possibly past that date.

I will agree that the decision to attack the Bake and Oven fires in a method that provided protection to the town of Denny was a good one.

If North Zone did not supply the resources needed for containment of the Pigeon fire in a timely manner, the obvious question is why ? Was the Pigeon Fire treated as simply another back country fire or should it have been given a priority as a WUI fire ? Obviously there were Fire forces available closer than South Zone.

My questions were not about the tactics employed by the fire teams, but by the strategy and guidance that forces them to use tactics that might not be successful. As I said in the earlier post, the current wildland fire policy has been in effect for about 15 years. Its time to evaluate its success. In light of the events of this and several other past fire seasons it does not appear to be a success.


I think Mellie is referring to the fact that there is no current Big Bar incident. There was a Big Bar Complex in 1999. There is a Bar Complex in 2006. To simplify the communication, maybe you could simply say which complex you're talking about in that sentence. Ab.


"I have yet to be given an answer as to what motivates contract engine
and handcrews to put out fires quickly when the longer a fire burns, the
longer their services are needed."

My answer is...

It is the same thing that motivates a good Forest Service, BLM, or CDF employee or any other firefighter.
Because we are professionals and we care about the job we do. Not to say that all are, In fire I think there are professionals and there are opportunists, I have seen both kinds on all sides of the fence.

Government and state employees enjoy being on fires and most prefer it to being at the station or patrolling the forest. Does that make them less motivated to work hard just to stay on the fire longer? Are they motivated to make bad tactical decisions to lengthen their assignment? Do ex-Government employees change their values and ethics when they join the private ranks? Do contractors who have never worked for an agency have measurably lower values or work ethics? It has nothing to do with who signs their paycheck. It has to do with their level of professionalism. To say contractors are more likely to take advantage is very close to saying the color of ones skin determines how hard they work or how ethical they are... I think NOT.

It's about professionals and slackers... send the slackers home with their tail between their legs and let the hard workers put the fire out regardless of who signs the check.


9/29 Clarification?

viejo you said

"The suppression efforts on the Big Bar Complex have been hampered
by fuel loadings produced in part from previous wildfires."

That is always true in theory but I am wondering...
Did you mean to say the Bar Complex (presently burning) and not the Big Bar Complex ('99)? Just asking for the sake of clarification...

If you do mean the Bar Complex, I need to further add this:
The Bar Complex is currently burning in parts of the wilderness that the Big Bar Complex never burned in. The westernmost BakeOven Fire (Bar Cplx) containment line butts up against the easternmost containment line of the Megram Fire (Big Bar Cplx) along Virgin Creek.

It was an excellent choice that Jeanne Pincha-Tulley's CIIM Team 3 (that could not get resources to fight the whole Bake and Oven fires) focused on the SW fire edge along the old containment line and nearest the community of Denny. By wrapping that up, her team removed one area of threat to the public, saving the taxpayer countless dollars. It was a matter of making tactics meet the limited resources R5 Fire (federal only) made available through NorthOps.

With respect to the other fire in the Bar Complex -- the Pigeon Fire -- there is a continuous fuel bed between where it began along Hwy 299 near Junction City and the old Onion Fire (Big Bar Cplx) containment line near New River. That old containment line was (is) considered early on in the early weeks of the fire as a contingency for long-range containment. It's likely the Pigeon can and will be contained closer and I think firefighters are going direct near Manzanita Creek and Treloar Ridge given weather patterns of fall.

The team that first dealt with the Pigeon Fire start also did not have fire resources forthcoming for IA. The Pigeon was not in the wilderness, but along a corridor (hwy 299) of residential communities that cater to river rafting, hiking, camping  and tourism. I believe that fire might have been picked up on that WUI interface with a few more resources applied early on, but the fire team, that was doing its darndest to hook it, had to deal with the limited resources R5 Fire (federal only) made available through NorthOps which immediately sent the order to SouthOps.

viejo, I'm not saying I agree or disagree with your statements; I need to think on them; just feel the need to keep the details straight.


9/29 SC/ Mr. Judd

I would like to say that several years ago when FWFSA was under their previous leadership, I offered to bring my employee base in as members and to contribute financially to your cause. The offer was refused based on the fact that we weren’t federal firefighters and the leadership did not like the concept of contracting for firefighting. We are all federal firefighters and share a part in the system. I am in full support of what you are asking for as it pertains to fair and equitable pay for the service you provide to the tax payers. I have many ties to the contract world in CA and there are many of us that will willingly support your cause. Give me the info on how to become members and we will set the wheels in motion.

If you have captured the true cost that covers all elements of a F.S. firefighter I would love to see it. I also realize that there is some additional cost associated with admin. of contracting. The cost of admin. is a variable that increases or decreases based on the quality of the service being provided by GOOD verses BAD contractors. It takes a lot more time to babysit a bad contractor than one that is well versed in the contract and has highly qualified personnel.

I feel that working together to resolve our differences will benefit the fire service as a whole. I would like to assure all of the Agency State and Fed. fire personnel that contractors don’t want to take over your jobs. We only want to assist in a job that is bigger than any of us can handle.

9/29 Large Fire Costs, Quals, Training, Seniority, Mutual Aid:

Interesting topic the issue of local government verses federal and state resources. DV brings up a good point about costs. Local governments are the most expensive resources on a fire, and quite often the most underutilized. I've been on both sides, I used to work for NPS and now work for a municipal fire agency. On large fires with a federal agency, you are going to work. With a local government agency, it is highly questionable. Quite often you'll be assigned to staging, day after day, and question why you are even on this fire. At face value it does not appear to be a good use of resources or money.

The issue of quals is another hot topic within local government itself. I've been out with absolutely great STLs who are more than qualified, and I've been out with ones that have no business leaving town, their only qual is being a B/C. Captains fit the same mold, there are exceptional ones, and ones that have no business leading crews on wildland fires. The issue in local government is training. Most wildland training is the bare minimum to get by. In some agencies, wildland fire fighting is seen as a nuisance. Nobody wants to do it until the call comes in for the "Big One" then everyone wants to go. Usually training, experience and quals give way to seniority, and the unqualified are the ones to go. Until all agencies are held to NWCG 310-1, you are going to have a wide range of capabilities, and comfort levels in the wildland.

If local governments are going to participate in the mutual aid system, they need to be held to the same training standards as our federal and state brethren. Incident management should not have to decide if a crew is capable of assignment. Being at the incident should mean they are qualified for fireline assignment.

If you're not qualified you don't get deployed. I'm sure this will generate some debate and responses.

Once Green, Now Red

9/29 Ab: I'm with Standup, and I think his statements... "Organization and system failures are a lot like any major religious text. If you look hard enough, you can find justification for your actions." and "...if more people chose to admit their own mistakes and accept the appropriate consequences, we wouldn't have organization and system failures." are both right on. Like religious texts and the U.S. Constitution, application requires some interpretation. For interpretation of HRO theory, I'll keep relying on Dr. Karl Weick and Dr. Kathleen Sutcliffe for my interpretations. If They Saiders haven't been to one of their HRO workshops, make it a priority. For interpretation of error causation theory, I'll stick to the source, Dr. Reason. Sign me, GGFire
9/29 Rogue Rivers said on 9/28 that some day the Day and the Bar Complex fires "will be used as examples of the way fire management went wrong in terms of both safety and cost containment".

These two fires are but the latest examples of an unworkable Fire Management policy. The 1999 Bar Complex, the Biscuit Fire, the Blossom fire and several of the fires in Montana this year make the point that the entire Fire Use and Management policy should be re examined.

Prescribed fire works, but needs continual follow-up. The suppression efforts on the Big Bar Complex have been hampered by fuel loadings produced in part from previous wildfires.

WFU works in some cases. In others, by the time a WFU is declared a wildfire, it is a huge problem. I don't think the science is there yet either in Meteorology or Fire Modeling to predict the effects of a wildfire 30 days out. Therefore, WFU is an art...and good artists are hard to find and should be recognized and cherished when they are discovered.

Put out fires that may harm firefighters or communities regardless of costs. Too many of the communities in the west have been terrorized by escaped wildfire this season to ignore the fact that uncontained fire burning on public land is a valid threat, not only to the local community, but by degraded air quality in communities quite removed from the immediate threat.

In 1990 or so, an examination of the old policy of containment in the first 24 hours was made and a new Fire Management policy was structured and implemented. The events of the last few years demonstrate the need for a serious re examination of that policy. Lets keep some of the good things like the emphasis on Firefighter Safety and question if we have the Science and the ability to implement some of the other changes required.

9/29 While working on Jim Smith's Type II Team, I've grown fond of his quotes. They always seem to start with My Daddy always said.....

Here are my two favorites I thought would be good to list on the Quotes page.
  1. "Always try sugar before gun powder."
  2. " It's not the depth of the water that kills you, it's the water. More relevant, it's not the size of the fire that gets you, it's the fire."

One more. At the start of the Day fire when some said let's rush in, he said,

"This gorilla doesn't like peaches; he likes bananas and he's throwing
all his peaches... He's saving his Bananas for later."


heh, heh, good ones. I added 'em to quotes to live by. Ab.

9/29 Aussies and Kiwis help Yanks in battling wildland fires
Reciprocal firefighting program provides excellent learning forum

REDDING, Calif. –For the past two weeks 25 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand have assisted American firefighters in battling some of the most severe fires California has experienced in the last 30 years. With a high level of preparedness across much of the U.S., fire management officials returned to their ties in the South Pacific for assistance.

“We are deeply grateful for their help. Our countries have a long standing friendship, spirit of cooperation and helping each other in time of need,” said Incident Commander Bill Molumby, California Interagency Incident Management Team 2. “They have provided leadership and filled key supervisory positions on the fire team at a time when we needed help.”

The coordination and request of overhead or middle management positions occurred between the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho and the Forest Fire Management Group in Australia. The request defined the criteria and qualifications that an individual must meet. These requirements include experience, level of fitness and skill sets. The same qualifications required by firefighters in the U.S.

The contingent of Australian and New Zealand firefighters flew to Boise where they underwent two days of training at NIFC. This training encompassed:

· Weather systems in the Northern Hemisphere
· Expected fuel types
· Fire behavior
· Emergency fire procedures
· Defensive driving
· Cultural advisement

After their training was completed they were assigned to fire teams throughout Northern California. Depending on their qualifications they were utilized as Division Supervisors, Branch Directors or Helicopter Managers.

“There were flames, smoke and aircraft just like at home,” said Operations Chief Peter Cramer, Swifts Creek, Australia, Dept. of Sustainability and Environment.

While there are some similarities, the Australian and New Zealand firefighters feel fighting fire in Northern California has some unique characteristics.

The fires that occur in the South Pacific tend to be smaller fires due to the different types of vegetation and the terrain. Both countries have wilderness areas and mountains, but the topography is not as steep or rugged or as high of elevation -- which has made it difficult to fight fires.

“Initially I was apprehensive about the terrain, but the training in Boise made me feel more comfortable. I knew what to expect,” said Senior Forester David McMillan, Gnangara, Australia, Forest Products.

Learning about how to fight large fires and the management of these fires is the reason that these firefighters accepted the assignments in the U.S.

“It’s getting the opportunity to learn on a big scale,” said Helibase Manger Bruce Janes, Christchurch, New Zealand, Dept. of Conservation (DOC).

The large campaign type fires provide an experience that the firefighters from the South Pacific don’t have a chance to acquire; the longer, larger fires that are managed from a long-term outlook through the Incident Command System (ICS). Australia has a similar structure to the federal management system.

“We clarify our objectives by the guidelines: specific, manageable, attainable, realistic and timeframed--SMART” said Operations Officer Geoffrey McGill, Ballan, Victoria, Country Fire Authority. “It’s very similar to America’s ICS.”

Cooperation between the different agencies, the countries and the sharing of new ideas were key themes of this visit

“Cross-fertilization is good,” said Field Liaison Bob Hagen, Bunbury, Australia, Dept. of Environment and Conservation. “We have a different management footprint and bring a set of new eyes and new ideas, but both agencies benefit from participating at the management level. We will take home and leave new ideas.”

All of the firefighters agree that their assignment has been an extremely valuable experience.

“If and when we have a big fire, it won’t be new,” said Helicopter Manager Shane Cross, Hokitika, New Zealand, DOC.

Philip MacDonald of Auckland, New Zealand, DOC was impressed by the welcoming attitude of everyone.

“The friendliness was amazing, no one judged you on who you are or where you came from; everyone was accepting,” said District Manager Russell Gould, Albany, Australia, Fire and Emergency Services Authority. He also said that the Forest Service firefighters he worked with had an outstanding work ethic; a work ethic they should be very proud of.

The Australian and New Zealanders look forward to the challenge and the chance to use the skills and knowledge they gained from fighting fire in Northern California.

“It was an honor to be hand-picked for our skills and to be able to represent our country,” said Cramer.

Note: The Australian and New Zealand contingent will be departing from the Northern California Service Center at 6101 Airport Road in Redding on Friday at 10 a.m. Media interested in interviews and photo opportunities should contact Asst. Public Affairs Officer Pam Bierce at (530) 226-2320 and plan on arriving at 9:30 a.m.

Photo of Aussies on Bassetts fire.

Anymore photos folks? I heard there were several on the Day Fire photo page but haven't been able to access that website in some days due to traffic. Ab.

9/28 Rec'd this email this evening and am forwarding on to you/ Pat B. (PatB, You're one of a number of people who have sent this in.)

Thu, 28 Sep 2006 18:04:15 -0700
Senator Boxer: Funds Needed for Fire Season

Dear Friend:

Most southern Californians remember the record-breaking, devastating fires that occurred in October 2003. Those fires, coming late in the season, are an important reminder to us that high-risk fire areas should always be ready for fires to strike.

I recently joined with several western Senators in writing to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees regarding the need to be prepared in case of fire. Our specific request was that $275 million be appropriated to replenish the emergency reserve account that is used for wildfire suppression. The Forest Service and Department of the Interior are expected to fully exhaust their funding fighting the 82,599 fires that have occurred on almost 9 million acres in our country this year. These numbers are well above the averages for fires in past years and could be part of a trend of more fires involving more acres.

Having sufficient funds to adequately and quickly fight fires is a wise use of federal funds, helping to save both communities and critical habitats and reduce the size and expense of larger fires. You can count on me to continue to ensure that we have the funds, the technology and the equipment to fight fires.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Readers, We don't plan to post political requests or discussions here, but please look at where your elected politicians stand on fire funding and support our supporters when you vote. Please vote. Ab.

9/28 Re: ADA

Firefighter no more,

It has everything to do with "reasonable accommodation" for the work performed and the ability to perform the work safely.

If you wan't, you can contact me through Ab. Ab, please forward any e-mails. Thanks!!.

I know of two firefighters who were able to fight the new medical standards implemented by USDI (and eventually the USFS) and show they could continue to perform their jobs effectively and safely, even though they had disqualification factors identified in the new standards..... Standards were changed mid-stream in their careers even though they were safe, efficient, and successful in performing their jobs as wildland firefighters.

That is the basis of "reasonable accommodation".

9/28 Casey,

You said,

"...I'll bet that at some point in time the CDF will recoup the DC-10 costs from the Federal Gov't."

You are mostly correct. A Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) has been submitted to, and approved by FEMA for the Day Fire.

The FMAG provides 75% reimbursement to state, local, and tribal government for costs they incur on wildland fires, regardless of whether they are federal, state, or local government managed when they "threaten" to become a federal disaster. The DC-10 costs will undoubtedly be paid (atleast 75%) by federal tax dollars provided by FEMA and not shown in the final fire costs to the federal agencies. This is also the case on the Sawmill and Horse Fires where FMAG's were approved and the DC-10 used.

Several years ago, the FMAG process was changed and has significantly altered the true costs of wildfire suppression and re-imbursement. It has also artificially lowered the costs that "appear" to be related to federal wildland fires.

In terms of the Day Fire, this may be the largest FMAG ever approved (possibly exceeding the SoCal Fires of '03).

From the FMAG website: http://www.fema.gov/government/grant/fmagp/index.shtm (below):

Fire Management Assistance is available to States, local and tribal governments, for the mitigation, management, and control of fires on publicly or privately owned forests or grasslands, which threaten such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.

The Fire Management Assistance declaration process is initiated when a State submits a request for assistance to the FEMA Regional Director at the time a "threat of major disaster" exists. The entire process is accomplished on an expedited basis and a FEMA decision is rendered in a matter of hours.

The Fire Management Assistance Grant Program (FMAGP) provides a 75 percent Federal cost share and the State pays the remaining 25 percent for actual costs.

Before a grant can be awarded, a State must demonstrate that total eligible costs for the declared fire meet or exceed either the individual fire cost threshold - which is applies to single fires, or the cumulative fire cost threshold, which recognizes numerous smaller fires burning throughout a State.

Eligible firefighting costs may include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.

Rogue Rivers
9/28 To All:

Thanks for the info on the DC-10 & 747 although if I were a betting man, CDF ATGS, I'll bet that at some point in time the CDF will recoup the DC-10 costs from the Federal Gov't.

Schlimey: Let's face it, there is an awful lot of $$ wasted each fire season. This is perhaps more a result of stunningly archaic policies being implemented by bureaucrats whose wildland fire experience might equate to a camping trip with their parents years ago.

As the FWFSA has reiterated before, the wildland fire program in this country will always require cooperation from Federal, State, Municipal & private fire organizations. I dare say however that we have captured the data about the complete cost of Agency personnel as compared to others. It is our bread & butter data to Congress as we seek proper compensation for the Nation's Federal Wildland Firefighters.

The volume of data pertaining to such cost comparisons as well as the policies being implemented by Mark Rey of the USDA (which are causing many of this season's fires to grow and...duh, cost more because the federal preparedness resources that should have been in place as a result of proper preparedness spending, weren't in place because of the preparedness funding was siphoned off for non-fire projects...) etc., is staggering. It has taken the FWFSA years to put this information together to paint a clear picture as to what the heck is going on.

We have been successful because our membership structure affords us the opportunity to represent those that fill the entire spectrum of fire positions from entry level GS-3s to Forest Fire & Aviation Chiefs... and even an attorney. The information provided by this diverse membership to the FWFSA which, in turn provides it to Congress as needed is what is fueling the current activism many have seen lately.

Now that we have convinced Congress something smells about all this, the next hurdle is getting them to actually do something about it.

While there is room for everyone in wildland fire suppression, the feds, like many other federal employees, are "compensation guinea pigs." That's why FEPCA, The Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act was passed by Congress & signed into law in 1990. Too bad the Legislative Branch & Executive Branch of our government have consistently refused to fully implement the law they passed.

There are areas of the country where federal wildland firefighters do in fact make more than their state & municipal counterparts. However those state & municipal counterparts have, for the most part the right under the law to negotiate pay and hours. Feds don't so naturally the Federal Gov't will take advantage of that situation. The ONLY way feds can improve their pay is through legislation via Congress.

By and large, the disparity between federal firefighters and their counterparts can range up to 66%. While you referenced the "complete" cost of Agency personnel, you should know that the "complete" cost of cooperators includes a 17% admin fee to the department from which they came; backfill costs; a full 24 hr paycheck and lodging.

So, let's not fight amongst ourselves. But also make no mistake that the FWFSA is fiercely loyal to its members and all federal wildland firefighters and will do everything in its increasing power to bring to our Nation's federal wildland firefighters all the pay and benefits they have deserved for far too long.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/28 DV,

I was on the Day for 21 days and agree with your post for the most part. However if you go over the 209 and do a rough estimate of numbers then you can figure roughly 1 out of 3 personnel on the fire are USFS. Now that’s not important, but the fact that we dish out so much money for mediocre to adequate experience with counties and cities and become "CTR nazies" with our folks is an absolute shame. Once again we're back to square one, pay us more and we'll retain more of the force and motivate them. I saw several cases of inexperience showing at the captain level and above of our counterparts. This doesn’t speak for the whole though, there were several municipal folks who did an outstanding job!


9/28 Schlimey,

I think you're missing that some of the costs that you tack onto agency firefighters are associated with contractors as well. You can't simply apply a $36.00 an hour pricetag to a contract firefighter and assume that this is the complete cost associated with using said resource. Much like agency firefighters, contractors often require agency overhead. You can't simply pretend that replacing agency firefighters with contract firefighters would somehow cause the dispatchers, ic, or a lot of other overhead costs to vanish. So, when we're coming up with an assessment about the actual cost of a GS-5, one needs to realize that many of the support costs are also tacked onto the price of a contractor.

I spent my summer working as a contractor actually, though I hope it gives me a good stepping stone into a state or agency position next summer. I was generally proud of the work that I did, and I very much enjoyed my first season working on a hand crew. There were things that I was frustrated with regarding my crew, but generally I was proud of our overall work. From all that I saw, there wasn't some sort of clear-cut line between agency firefighters and contract firefighters where the latter had no work ethic. I saw motivated firefighters in both aspects perform well, and I saw firefighters who lacked a belief in what they were doing perform poorly. This should be noted by those seeking to reduce the soaring costs of fire suppression... slackers are a waste of fire suppression funds, but you'll see them day after day, in many cases because their crews can't replace them (and thus can't let them go, for risk of becoming undermanned). Numbers don't put out fires.

9/28 Re: HROs

Organization and system failures are a lot like any major religious text. If
you look hard enough, you can find justification for your actions.

Although the ideas and concepts being discussed are absolutely valid, if more
people chose to admit their own mistakes (Mr. Madden, you have set a fine
example, thank you!) and accept the appropriate consequences, we wouldn't
have organization and system failures.

In a world where a woman can sue McDonalds because their coffee is too hot
(COFFEE IS SUPPOSED TO BE HOT!!!) I guess we can blame
anyone/anything we want to.

-(I'll still choose to) Standup
9/28 Honest Bob,

My daddy's name was also Bob. He wasn't a firefighter
but he loved having us kids rake the leaves so we could burn them
in the fall. He always told me "Tell the truth, tell it early, tell it
yourself." He also told his Boy Scouts that.

He would have loved you!

Again my apologies for unnecessarily putting you on the spot.
Sometimes the spot shows the true metal of a man... or woman.

Don't be a stranger here...


Here's a whole list of quotes to live by. Ab.

9/28 Schlimey, The only thing I am willing to bet is that
you are a contractor based on the fact that you DO
INDEED receive more money per hour, per fire, per
project than your counterparts do on the Federal side.
The fact of the matter is that until proper
compensation is given its due justice to federal
firefighters, we will ALWAYS be at the low end of the
per hour payment on a fire or not... PERIOD. If this
is not an issue I would suggest that the contracting
community help your counterparts by joining the FWFSA.


9/28 From Paula at the Lessons Learned Center, snagged off an email.

Two new Learning Curve newsletters (Issues 9 and 10) are posted at:
These issues highlight lessons learned and effective practices from the
Western State Fire Managers.

A new Wildland Fire Use Toolbox is at:
www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/WFU_Toolbox_Final.pdf (pdf file)
This toolbox was created as part of the Comb Complex WFU Information
Collection Team effort in 2005.

Curious to find out how you and your unit, crew or incident management team
are doing in organizational learning? Take the finalized Organizational
Learning Survey (developed by Harvard Business School) at:
www.wildfirelessons.net/Surveys.aspx We would like to get some
significant input from the survey between now and November 1, 2006.

Mark your calendars for the 2nd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference in
Destin, FL on March 26-30, 2007. The conference focus is on the fire
environment and will include the latest innovations in wildland fire
science through case studies, successes and failures, and learning
opportunities. For more information:

Thank you,
Center Manager
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

9/28 Ab: I was the OSC on the Red Mountain fire that was part of the Elkhorn
Complex on the Wallowa-Whitman NF. It appears that the assignment refusal
issue was on the other Red Mountain fire in Idaho. My mistake, I should
have investigated further before sending my first ever post to your site.
My team mates bailed me out on this one.

Bob Madden

Now Bob, don't let yer own behavior scare you off. Please come again. We applaud people with courage. Ab.

9/28 Bob, I don't think we're talking about the same Red Mountain Fire.
I didn't know there was more than the one in Idaho. My apologies.
I should have been more specific.


9/28 I would like to put in my 2 cents as to the increasing cost of fighting wildfires. There seems to a huge emphasis placed on contracting and the perception that contract fire fighters cost more than agency firefighters.

I have yet to see any study done by the agency or any other party that captures the complete cost of agency personnel. It is easy for an agency manager to say that a contract firefighter that cost $36.00 per hour is an outrageous cost. The fact being that even guys like Q or the National Director have no clue as to the actual cost of having a federal firefighter on the line. Sure they have a spread sheet that says a GS-5 cost the taxpayers this much --- but the part that seems to be missing is all of the levels of overhead District, Forest, Region, National, OWCP, EDD, Benefits, Training, PPE, Transportation, Equipment, Supervision, NFC, and Personnel Management. All of the statements / reports I’ve seen have a closing comment that there are cost associated that are not accounted for. This leads me to believe that these reports or studies are all theories based on incomplete information. We could add this waste of tax dollars to the cost of those agency firefighters.

To comment on Qs statement about what incentives is there for the contractors to get the fire out or to perform. That again is an issue that needs to be taken up with the Incident Management Teams and their Operation Section Chief, Branches and Division Supervisors. If contract resources aren’t producing, document the lack of performance and send them down the road !!! There are many of us that are committed to getting the job done!!!!!

What is the incentive for the federal crews to get the fire out???? When the Hot Shots can justify 16 hour shifts and contractors that are working the same division and head off the hill at the same time and the contractor gets 12 hours, who is milking the system??? The most important thing I hear from the Hot Shots is how many hours of OT did you get this year. Then we can go back to the cost of the Incident Organization where the finance section are recording 16 hr shifts along with supply unit and many others.

Productivity, this should be a real area of concern both on the fire line during severity converge or on a daily basis. Over the last 12 years I have seen a huge decline in the care and maintenance of the Tax Payers facilities (Forest Service Stations). These stations have hand crews and Engine crews that take no pride in their work or stations. I have personally seen contractors taking pride in the appearance of the facilities that host them doing everything from hazard reduction and hose washing to cleaning the bone yard. That’s not to mention the miles of fire line for force account burn units, Fire Rehab. Trail construction, Thinning and piling and more. What production are we getting from the agency crews on a daily basis???

I grew up in a Forest Service fire organization that did all of those things and we were held accountable for what you needed to get done to meet the targets. And of course we fought fires and did a good job of it.

In closing I would like to assure you that as a contractor I recognize that there are probably more bad contract crews than good. And there are just as many agency crews that fit in that same category. The savings will come when we reduce the number of resources on fires to the ones that produce and not look at it as more numbers are better. One good contract or agency crew can do the work of 3 bad ones.

9/28 Fire Pig beat me to it!

Yes, Nemechek has issues and is clueless about many of the numerous topics he opposes. I say "many" of the topics because SOME of what he says has a hint of merit. The way I look at it, if you toss enough lines out in the water you'll catch something eventually. But if you ever try to have a conversation with him, if you attempt to provide him with more accurate background information, correct him on inaccuracies with which you happen to be directly involved, be careful to not pull all of your hair out in frustration.

A couple of months ago I had a dealing with him and upon doing a search found 7 of his letters in various papers throughout the country, not just the west. I'm not sure if I am more frustrated with him or more disappointed with the media for swallowing it hook-line-and-sinker.

In any event, it's up to us to educate, and Casey of course.

9/28 Casey and Fire Dog,

The DC10 was ordered by CDF as it was determined that there was a threat to
CDF lands and interface. (Santa Paula and Ojai) CDF paid for its use solely;
there was no bill back to the USFS.

Once the threat to CDF DPA was mitigated, it was offered as a tool to the USFS
teams on the Day Fire. They choose not to use it.


Interagency Incident Management Teams. Ab.

9/28 The cost of the 747, which when on the its evaluation purposes contract
will be at a rate of 26,000 an hour with a 4 hour avail. min. unknown cost
of flight rate or total cost of 20,000 gal of retardant.

9/28 Regarding the editorial in the Porterville Recorder regarding use of "Super Tankers", I Googled the opinion writer's name, Ed Nemechek, and found many many editorials he has written in newspapers all over the country. He's blamed WWII on a plot by FDR to "murder" Americans, Pinochet is a hero, as well as a whole slough of other nut job causes.

While it would be advisable to educate the general public I think it would be a waste of time to try to talk any sense to Mr. Nemechek himself. He'd probably just mark you as another in a long and continuous line of enemies of the state.


Haw Haw. Ab.

9/28 Casey :

Good post, The DC-10 is carded by CDF for evaluation purposes as listed in many posts here in the past month. I would have to assume, the DC-10 was ordered through CDF just as an S-2T would be and billed back. It can be an effective tool under the right circumstances, but as our beloved politicians always do they are looking for a silver bullet instead of just adding another tool to the "box".

Fire dog

9/28 Dear JA:

Thanks for your post and editorial on the supertankers. Gotta love the uneducated...especially the press.

I've been in touch with staff from Congressman Rohrabacher's office (R-CA) and have called the editor of the Porterville recorder to "educate" them on these aircraft etc. The DC-10 alone costs $26,000 an hour with a guarantee of 3 hours per day (747 more).

The effectiveness is obviously influenced by a number of factors and as a result, bigger is not always better. In fact there was a previous post here a day or so ago about the drops on the Day Fire from the DC-10.

A curious question is why the DC-10 is working the Day Fire if it has not been certified by the Forest Service? Any answers? If it is because Congressman Rohrabacher got on the news and asked why, again we are educating him on the use of these aircraft. Anyone know the hourly cost of the 747???

Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/28 Dear Ab,

Could we add our college wildland fire program to the list of 2 year programs under
Minnesota? The link to our website is: http://wildlandfirefighting.itascacc.edu.

Wildland Firefighting Instructor
Itasca Community College

Thanks, Marty. I added it to the 2- and 4-year Schools list. Ab.

9/28 As one of the OPS Chiefs on the Red Mountain Fire, I would like to comment
on Mellie's concerns. A portion of this fire was backing down a very steep
north slope canyon. Our strategy was to confine the fire to the upper
third of the slope with heavy helicopters and baby sit it through a
significant snow and rain event that was a couple of days away. It was
clear that LCES issues could not be mitigated by going direct. We asked a
shot crew to scout the area to see if we could engage once the weather
changed. Due to poor footing, rocks and snags, it was still a "no go".
This was a mutually agreed upon decision, certainly not a "refusal" against
our tactical plan. The forest requested that we construct an indirect
contingency line to the bottom of the canyon. This was accomplished by two
shot crews in a few hours of work. They then plumbed the line with a hose
lay and laterals. One shot crew was released for re-assignment and the
other one stayed on a few more days and completed some hot spotting and mop
up in the steeper part of the division. Every one on that division was
engaged in developing a water show to complete mop-up. There was no
"punitive" action taken by anyone on the team. This was a safe incident
with a successful outcome. The shot crews performed well and their input
was appreciated. I have no idea how this issue of refusal and punishment
came about. I can assure everyone that this team does not behave like
that. I hope this sets the record straight.

Bob Madden
Battalion Chief
Bend Fire & Rescue
9/28 There is email circulating in the GIS community that loading IE 7 beta will
break ArcGIS.

GIS person

9/28 Re: Human Factors vs. Organizational and System Influences.

Many people have characterized the wildland fire business as a high reliability organization (HRO) since the first Wildland Safety Summit in Missoula, MT. It has become a well known factor regarding safety in HROs that a "system approach" is better utilized to minimize and avoid known risks. The continued emphasis on assigning blame (or accountability) to individuals, without looking at how the agency, organization, or system failed, should be avoided. The continuance of the "person approach" (ie-blame) has not worked well for the safety of the wildland fire community in the past, and will will not work in the future. You can assign blame, over and over again, until you are blue in the face.... but the same errors will happen year after year.

A new vision of HROs and improved system approaches have become the standard in high reliability organizations; Unfortunately this has not become commonplace within the wildland fire community.

The worst thing that could happen in an HRO is to assign blame to an individual when a known procedure, policy, or system "error trap" is present and well recognized somewhere in the organization. Hopefully the Peer Review process will help to make some of these known "error traps" more recognizable and well distributed in the future.

"The basic premise in the system approach is that humans are fallible and errors are to be expected, even in the best organizations. Errors are seen as consequences rather than causes, having their origins not so much in the perversity of human nature as in "upstream" systemic factors. These include recurrent error traps in the workplace and the organizational processes that give rise to them. Countermeasures are based on the assumption that though we cannot change the human condition, we can change the conditions under which humans work. A central idea is that of system defenses. All hazardous technologies possess barriers and safeguards. When an adverse event occurs, the important issue is not who blundered, but how and why the defenses failed." ~ Dr. James Reason, Human Error: Models and Management, 2000.

Some time ago on They Said, someone said the first action in the accident causation process was the act or omission by an individual. During that discussion, someone quoted the Swiss Cheese Model as the preface for their comments. After studying the work of Dr. Reason and other safety experts such as Weick and Graham, it is very clear that the act or omission by an individual is the final "hole", not the first. Human error can always be expected, predicted, and most times prevented by proper policies, procedures, and system controls. Organization and system failures, whether an intentional or unintentional act or omission, are the first holes within the Swiss Cheese that need to be filled to keep wildland firefighters safer.

One last quote from Dr. Reason (sorry): "Blaming individuals is emotionally more satisfying than targeting institutions." More psychology stuff..... but it hits the nail on the head.


P.S. - Old Sawyer, thanks for the paper. It is a good read for people interested in safety.

9/28 I have not written in before, but upon reading this editorial in our local newspaper I was disturbed that the general public is so uneducated. Anyone feel like growling besides me??? Perhaps MORE public education is necessary, especially in regards to the DC-10 "Really Big Tankers". I am sure that mountains, steep canyons, the general lay of the land, public safety, ground crews in the area, all play heavy in the decision to use them, and are they really cost effective?



Welcome to the fray JA. We certainly could do more educating on a number of fire topics. Ab.

9/28 Ab, please excuse me if this seems like ranting.... I apologize in advance. All of my ranting is factually based.

After drinking out of "water buffalo's" and "quibetainers" in areas that didn't have potable water or domestic supplies in the past, and filling my canteens from them for many years.... I had to laugh when a friend on one of the buying teams on the Day Fire said they had spent over $400,000 on just drinking water during the last two weeks from local vendors..... He estimated that they (his team only) would spend over $1 Million on just water before the fire was contained (By goodness, don't forget the costs of gatorade). They are just one buying team assigned to the incident, and he assured me that he or others hasn't purchased any beef jerky or other prohibited products from former cost reviews.

How much did they pay to the ice vendors? How about the $21 sack lunches with mystery meat? How about the many other costs such as $10.25 per gallon powdered ice tea provided by some vendors........ The system is out of control, and the costs for large fires can be changed if people will focus on the values at risk...... firefighter and community safety.....


Sign me.... Bottled Water Speculation Seems to Be the Ticket for Fortune. Also, stock in futuristic airtankers may also add wealth to the retirement portfolio. Tanker 910 was flying on the Day Fire again today without much applause from troops on the ground.

I'd bet that changes could be made to make sure that people (feds and others) get adequate rest in appropriate facilities and get proper compensation for the work they do in the future. Somehow, if we got rid of the BS costs associated with firefighting in the 21st Century, things might be more clearer to the bean counters. Any thoughts?

I work with folks on MY team that made more in overtime alone than I make with overtime, base pay and hazard pay this year. They can afford a house, vacations, 2.1 children, a wife, and recreational activities for relaxment.... See the problem?

Hobo Gulch

Anyone try to sell you any of that "instant water"? Ab.

9/28 While on the Day Fire, a FS S/T was told to limit their hours to 12 with lunch break. But yet, the same system is willing to pay the municipal folks Portal to Portal, plus their Overtime?

In the past few years there has been a crack down on suppression cost to the point of penny pinching. Given what I saw with hiring the most expensive, I will not be surprised if we surpass 150+ million on this fire. Why are there so many municipal folks, and hardly any FS folks? Then they (WO) wonder why fire costs so much, and they tell me to penny pinch! I have never seen so many municipal folks in my 15 years, as I saw on this fire. We Feds were out numbered 50-1 at the least.

It also seemed to me that a few of the municipal folks who are Div Sups, S/T are way in over their heads, not knowing the basic fire behavior and they lack a considerable amount of wildland experience.

Everyone Please be Safe out there.


9/28 Hello.

Is anyone familiar with the American's w/ Disabilities Act (ADA)? If so, can
someone fill me in on how the Feds (USDA & DOI) are getting away with
"reassigning" or flat out firing people for not meeting the new medical standards?
Isn't that discrimination?

And, yes the situation I am most familiar with could EASILY be accommodated.

For those of you not faced with these new standards yet, beware. Your job could
be on the line!

Sign me-
Firefighter no more
9/28 >From the Ingalsbee Paper,

"The report estimated that fire confinement strategies, instead of aggressive contain-and-control, could save millions of tax dollars each year, especially when considered in conjunction with increased firefighter safety and reduced suppression impacts on the land."

O.K...... lets see... over $100 Million spent on WFU fires or former WFU fires converted to wildfires this year. Some of these fires burned into communities, killed firefighters, and caused firefighter entrapments. How do you compute those costs? How do you also add in the confinement fires that were turned into containment or control fires WEEKS after they started after additional firefighter risks were added?

Then there are the wildfires that were "managed". Unless you have a crystal ball, there is no way of managing what a wildfire may or may not do in the future.

The Bar Complex (Bake/Oven and Pigeon Fires) and the Day Fire will someday be used as examples of the way fire management went wrong in the terms of both safety and cost containment in 2006. As of today, the Bar Complex is $50.9 Million and the Day Fire is $53.1 Million. Just like in 1999 (Big Bar and Kirk Fires), these two fires will probably account for 1/10 to 1/3 of the fire suppression expenditures of the Forest Service. I won't even mention the fires in WA state (Spur Peak, Tripod Complex, and Tattosh), since they were so obvious on their mismanagement and costs incurred to firefighter safety and the communities they protect.

Most fires started in wilderness areas away from people, had limited IA and delayed extended attack. Most fires, during the initial and extended stages of the fires, were being viewed for cost containment and management under a confinement strategy, rather than full suppression. When the barn door shuts, two fires will be history makers..... both "the Bar" and "Day" have the potential of being the largest cost fires in Forest Service History....... both fires being initially managed (if not officially known) for confinement, regardless of the risks to firefighters, communities, and infrastructure.

Somehow, the lessons learned of 1910 rattle around...... Current lessons should be

  1. Prescribed Fire and Fuels Treatment works and should be properly funded,
  2. WFU Works when managed correctly by competent Fire Managers with appropriate trained and skilled Line Officer oversight, and
  3. Put fires out that may harm firefighters or communities regardless of costs.

Rogue Rivers

9/27 Ray Quintanar's comments on an old Ingalsbee 2000 article on the high cost of wildland fire. (The article is posted below Ray's comments. Feel free to read it first. Ab.) This article is similar to an article by Tom Knutson that appeared in the Sacramento Bee on Sunday.

Ray Q says:

Good article. Unfortunately, the cost of fighting fire will continue to go up for a couple of reasons: The funds allocated to the USFS for fire and fuels work does NOT all go to those programs. As I recall, of the appropriated dollar to the agency, about half goes to "other" areas and never gets to the ground, same for the fuels program. Thus, before the season starts the agency is understaffed to meet Initial Attack levels that have proven to reduce escapes and cut large fire costs. When the fires get big, the agency finds itself taking the funds it allocated to other programs to keep itself from going deficit!

More than half the money spent on fighting wildland fire goes for two items: pay for firefighters and air support.

The agency has placed itself in a "no win" situation with the use of contractors. The article is correct in that about 60-70% of the suppression dollar goes to contractors because the agency will not take a stand as to when contractors should or should not be used. Contract firefighting crews are yet to be as well led, trained or productive as our own Hotshot Crews. Yet those in Fire have to fight year after year just to fund its own. However, the agency falls all over itself giving contract firefighting crews more money than it's willing to give its own. I have yet to be given an answer as to what motivates contract engine and handcrews to put out fires quickly when the longer a fire burns, the longer their services are needed.

I support contracting our logistics area and find it effective and cost effective. In Region 5 we implemented the "kitchen in a box" concept in which a contractor would provide the entire camp package instead of finding each and every piece every time. This saved many hours of time for our ECCs and allowed easier and more efficient oversight of the contract. It has saved the public alot of money.

However, it seems when the agency, for whatever reason, doesn't allow regions to take advantage of local resources (ie, kitchens) or give more authority in the arena of aviation assets, the costs skyrocket. Cal Fire (CDF) has excellent kitchens and often the Feds can't use them. There is an agency rule that any camp over "so many meals" must go to a national catering contract. Only when the feds and state are involved in cost apportionment can the Cal Fire kitchens be used as they become part of the state's share of the incident. The cost of our national catering kitchen contract is much greater than what Cal Fire can provide. I might add Cal Fire food is also much better!

Our aviation contracts for our large helicopters are addressed at the Washington level and regions have little, if any, authority to make agreements when the opportunities occur. As I recall, last year we ended paying over a million dollars more due to delays by the Washington office. They had other priorities and had they given us the green light, we again could have saved the taxpayer more dollars.

As I recall, there are more starts with population increases and in California about two-thirds of our starts across the state are people caused. We in the Fire Service have created a culture of expectation of response. Whether the public does anything to protect their homes and communities or not, we will show up. LA County, Ventura County, Orange County and LA City are examples of where San Diego needed to be going after the Laguna Fire, 69-70. Home and community clearances must be mandatory. This is nothing new and is noted in almost every after action report that involved community loss from fire. Often we talk about the increasing fuels buildup in the forests. I submit we are about to go through this in aging communities and we will find the East Winds not only taking out our forests and watersheds, but also the older communities. We live with outdated building codes. Whole communities were and are built without consideration of wildland fire; roads are too narrow for our IA equipment to enter, much less to exit; bridges are too weak to handle to weight of our engines.

The fires of '03 are a classic example. Along the Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead corridors and communities, over 100,000 people were evacuated. At the same time in the area of Simi Valley, rather than evacuate, residents stayed in their homes which became the safety zones for the residents. The increase cost of fighting fire is not only for the reasons mentioned nor meant to be justification for this, rather is meant to point out that we in California and in many other areas no longer have the luxury of monitoring "natural starts", nor having prescribed fire whenever we want. The NPS was cited within the last 2 years for adding smoke to the atmosphere or adding air pollution to the San Joaquin Valley smokeshed. People simply will not stand for mother nature being one with low intensity fire, when the price they pay is hacking, and coughing for days on end.

There is, without any doubt, a lot the USFS can do to reduce cost. Certainly one of its most important issues is to decide what it will do in the future regarding its role in incident management. Will it support the incident management program or not? Region 5 has as close to a wildland fire department as any federal agency in the country due to its informal centralized structure. The Agency appreciates the efficiency, yet doesn't like the structure. I understand this as the Agency has been decentralized for many years.

My last comment on cost has to do with the percentage of salary that goes to the Federal Firefighter. Compared to contractors, local fire, etc, that percentage isn't much. I didn't spend all those years on the ground for the money. I did it for the adventure, making a difference, the pride of being a Wildland Firefighter in the U.S. Forest Service. I find our firefighters with the same attitude today. Yet, I also find the cost of living is getting more and more out of reach. If the agency were to give it all up to "contractors" or local fire, the cost would continue to go up. Salaries would increase in the expense column, and I doubt we would reduce acreage or cost overall.

Least we forget when it's all said and done, it's the firefighter on the ground that makes the difference. If they are not well led, properly equipped and well trained, the cost will go up even more than is happening today.....Q

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

Money to Burn: The Economics of Fire Suppression

by Timothy Ingalsbee, Ph.D.
Director, Western Fire Ecology Center

"Whenever you have opportunities to spend over a billion dollars a year, there are numerous opportunities for waste, fraud, and abuse." --Gardner Ferry, BLM Fire and Aviation Budget/Program analyst

Beginning in the 1970s, the U.S. Forest Service realized that it had reached a point of diminishing economic returns from further investments in fire suppression capability. With the help of fire scientists and ecologists, federal agencies began to understand that their attempts to exclude fires from forest and grassland ecosystems through systematic fire suppression was causing hazardous fuel loads to increase, resulting in larger, more damaging, more costly wildfires. However, federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service receive several hundred million dollars in annual appropriations for fire suppression operations. When this money is exceeded, the agency is allowed to proceed with deficit spending,, and is later reimbursed by Congress through supplemental appropriations. The economic incentives derived from the near-limitless Fire Fighting Fund is driving the agency's pro-suppression policies and practices, at the expense of more economically- and ecologically-sound prescribed burning and wildland fire use. It is time for Congress to re-examine the economics of fire suppression, demand more fiscal accountability on wildfire suppression incidents, and devise a more rational "dollars and sense" approach to fire/fuels management. Congress should invest precious tax dollars in proactive fire planning and non-commercial hazardous fuels reduction projects as the best means of avoiding the high costs to taxpayers, damage to ecosystems, and risks to firefighters from reactive, unplanned, emergency fire suppression actions.


"There are increased expenditures for suppressing large fires, and risks to financial resources. Expenditures may bear little relation to values at risk." --Hal Salwasser, USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station Director

According to a USFS study, from 1970-1995 the agency spent about $11.8 (in 1995 dollars) on fire suppression. According to the GAO, from FY 1993 through FY 1997, federal land management agencies cumulatively spent $4.4 billion on wildfire activities, with the USFS spending the lion's share of this amount. The cost of suppression is rising exponentially, as recent data indicates that both the 1998 and 1999 fire seasons cost over $1 billion each year. In general, over half the total expenditures for federal fire management activities are spent on emergency wildfire suppression, with costs rising at an average rate of 15.5% annually. As of June, 2000, the fire season has already surpassed the 10-year average for number of fires and acres burned, and thus will also likely exceed a billion tax dollars for emergency fire suppression actions.


"Often we use resources because of the public and political pressure to do something, even though it has no effect on the fire and is an economic waste." --Richard Mangan, USFS Fire Program Leader

Most wildfires on federal lands are quite small: 96% of all fires are under 100 acres. However, the total costs of suppression are skewed toward "siege-like" firefighting efforts on the few, rare, very large fires that grab the most media attention. On average, 2% of all fires nationwide account for 94% of the total burned acreage and 97% of the total suppression expenditures. For example, in 1999, out of 10,424 total fires on Forest Service lands, the agency spent over $178 million-- about 30% of the total USFS fire suppression budget that year--on just two lightning-caused wilderness fires in northern California. A 1995 Forest Service report cited "public and political pressure" as key factors motivating managers to authorize aggressive suppression strategies even if such actions are futile in the face of extreme fire weather or fuel conditions. Moreover, local Forest Service line officers are not held accountable for their use of the emergency Fire Fighting Fund. Several managers admitted that they "would have fought fires differently, and at lower cost, if the money had come from the Forest's allocated budget" instead of an emergency account from Washington, D.C. The report estimated that fire confinement strategies, instead of aggressive contain-and-control, could save millions of tax dollars each year, especially when considered in conjunction with increased firefighter safety and reduced suppression impacts on the land.


"There is lots of pressure by Congress to hire private contractors for fire suppression even though it has higher costs." --Richard Mangan, USFS Fire Program Leader

So-called "contractual services," profit-oriented private companies providing labor, equipment, or services to the federal government, now account for over half the total suppression costs on large fires. Approximately 56% of total nationwide suppression costs go to contract services, compared to 32% for agency personnel wages and 12% for all other costs. From fiscal years 1993-1997, of the $1.7 billion that the Forest Service spent on wildfire suppression activities, $1.2 billion of this amount went to private contractors for services and supplies. As the federal workforce continues to shrink, private contract firefighting companies are increasing in number and price, and this is another factor raising the costs of fire suppression.

9/27 Ab,

Here's an intriguing near-miss report, apparently prepared by Paul Gleason when he was a district FMO on the Arapaho/Roosevelt NF. www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Hourglass_1994.pdf (pdf file)

The Hourglass Fire burned through the Pingree Park campus of Colorado State University on July 1, 1994. Five firefighters deployed their shelters in two separate burnovers, and a third deployment would have occurred if a sheriff's deputy had been issued a fire shelter.

I know that technology is not the answer to all of our safety problems. But, consider what might have changed at South Canyon, if only we had the means back then to widely distribute a 24- or 72-hour report, or an incident brief like this.

Thanks for the forum, Abs. And, thanks to those with the vision for efforts like the Lessons Learned Center and NIFC Safety Alerts.

vfd cap'n

Thanks for your contributions, too, vfd cap'n. It takes the whole community. Ab.

9/27 Woodsman 20,

The DOT Emergency Response Guide is available on-line as a pdf file
at: http://hazmat.dot.gov/pubs/erg/gydebook.php

9/27 Would the FWS guy who sent in the FWS jobs page link last week please resend it. I must have deleted your email by accident. Ab.
9/27 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.

There is a growing list on the Jobs Page of folks looking for work who have some good redcard quals. Have a look if you're interested in new employees: Jobs Wanted OA

9/27 Woodsman20, you asked:

"where can one find a source to identify what all those 4 digit triangles mean
on vehicles? like to know before the next time i see one on an incident"

Try the DOT Hazardous Materials Guidebook (the small orange/yellow one). This info is updated every two years with as current information on all hazardous materials that are known to be transported, the placard identification numbers for said substances, and all kinds of nifty info you always wanted to know about haz-mat but were afraid to ask.

I believe that almost all (if not all) emergency response vehicles and crew transports (at least govt. ones) carry these books now, along with there being numerous other sources for obtaining one. If you don't have access to these, you could also probably stop by your local F.D. station and I'm sure that there would be a firefighter or officer who would be glad to show you what your looking for.

This is a must read book, if for nothing more than general knowledge, for anyone who responds to emergency incidents and has even the slightest chance of coming across an incident that involves hazardous materials.

Hope this helps you find out what you wanted to know.

9/27 Lobotomy-

I cringed the minute I saw "hold agencies accountable..." in your post. I am
familiar with the concepts and reality of organizational failure, and I do not
disagree with your statements in theory.

In practice, however, allowing one to blame the system is akin to a "poor
craftsman blaming his tools."

In a perfect world, we would use peer review and AARs, every time, in the
format they were actually designed to come to an understanding of the
successes and failures of a given action, incident, etc.

Side note: AARs are a great idea, but let me know the next
time you participate in an AAR that is something
more than the usual "we all did a great job!"
style. I know they happen, but not very often!

This ain't a perfect world, though. So, what I suggest is that we continue to
use and refine those tools that will help us get down to brass tacks, while
continuing to hold individuals AND agencies accountable for their actions
(although agencies are made up of individuals, no?) understanding that people
make mistakes.

Mistakes are just that. Hopefully one can learn from an honest mistake. But
when an honest mistake turns into a stupid mistake (one has made it
before/should have known better) that individual needs to be held accountable.


9/27 Day fire could go on for quite a while and threaten many small communities.
It jumped Lockwood Valley Road and is now into the eastern part of the
Cuyama Badlands.

Photo of Cuyama Badlands

Strike team

9/27 Live scanner feed from Day Fire on the Los Padres NF (uses WinAmp): Listen OA
9/27 As a Captain on a Hotshot crew I applaud the crew that turned down the
assignment on the Red Mountain Fire. I am sure they had good reason and
shouldn't be questioned or reprimanded for there decisions if what happened
really happened. (wasn't there) It seems like these days there are alot of
Ops section chiefs out there asking for some things that just can't be done

I have been on two fires this year where they were trying to get us to do
stuff we didn't feel comfortable with. The first was someone wanting us to
burn out a slot canyon with no safety zones or escape route. Myself and
another Hotshot crew turned it down while they joked about "riding it out
in a pool of water". I was calm about it and gave them other options about
how the job could be done. They were still all gung ho about getting
someone to do it. I warned another Hotshot crew that arrived on the fire
what they were planning and in turn they checked it out themselves and
refused the assignment. (Thats 3 crews that have turned this down so far).
Finally another Hotshot crew arrives gets suckered into it and then finds
out afterwards that 3 crews turned it down and nobody told them about the
turn downs. They were pretty upset about the whole deal.

The second one involved wanting our crew to go into a remote steep area on
a large fire to secure on last piece of line. The Ops Chief himself briefed
us and told us that we could hike there in 20 minutes and back in his day
they wouldn't have had any problems doing it. The day before some
rappellers were put in the same area and refused the assignment because of
lack of safety zones and steep terrain. (cliffs). Well it took me almost 2
hours to hike into the spot and not very long to realize there was no
escape routes, safety zones and you would have stuff falling on you all day
as you tried to do something. There was just no way to get anything done
safely except to use the helicopters to keep it in check. We talked to Div.
he agreed and we all walked away from it. Fire was still burning when we
left and never did anything.

We never had anything done to us, just pointing out that there are some Ops
chiefs out there that seem to have forgotten where they came from and how
to do things. Our number one priority is Fire fighter and public safety! As
a crew supervisor just don't forget that your job is to get everyone home
safely. Turn down things you don't feel are safe, stand up for your people.
Don't get caught up in "Nine out of ten times you can get away with it"
because its that ONE time where you don't that you will regret forever.
Learn from what you are seeing now, the people out on the lines are the
ones that are going to be making the decisions down the road. Everyone be

9/27 Mellie,

You said, "Is it time for a stand down for safety to critically re-evaluate if people are getting quality rest so they can make good decisions?"

"I think we need to take a look at tiredness, choices being made and safety. Are people even rested enough to know when they aren't making good decisions right now?"

Maybe we need a Safety Stand Up rather than a Safety Stand Down? Some of the best leaders in history, such as Patton, made their greatest decisions under the stress of combat while being served a potential defeat. Maybe those leaders need the opportunity to Stand Up rather than Stand Down under the current wildland fire organization?

It is amazing to see, and somehow get a glimpse of how the brain works when it comes to wildland firefighter safety. Lots of history and research behind the cognitive and reactionary forces of the mind, and how fire folks make mistakes in judgment or evolutionary changes for safety. Lots of understanding about adrenalin, serotonin, and other chemicals is needed before someone assigns blame to a firefighter for making a common decision that a peer would do under similar circumstances, OR assigns them as a leader such as Paul Gleason. Paul Gleason understood many of these things and never got a chance to explain them to the wildland fire community at large. It is a loss to all of us.

Somebody said at sometime, that the wildland fire community needs to be a learning community. Someday, it will be a learning community rather than a blame community. Lessons Learned.

9/27 Is anyone else having difficulty accessing Inciweb? If not, can anyone tell me why I can't seem to be able to access the Inciweb site, and, haven't been able to for a couple of days now? I've tried numerous different links to the site but can't seem to be able to access it anymore. I haven't had a problem with it all season until now.



Inciweb is overloaded. Ab.

9/27 hazmat plackards

where can one find a source to identify what all those 4 digit triangles mean
on vehicles? like to know before the next time i see one on an incident

woodsman 20

9/27 WT Joe,

Simple answer: a firefighter must always be "fire ready". It never fails, the time you decide to wait till you get to the station to refill the tank is the time you come upon that new start or vehicle fire and don’t have enough water. If a steep grade compromises the operation of a larger water tender then I can see driving it empty then filling up up at the bottom of the hill.

9/26 From Firescribe:

Photos of the Day Fire:

Live Video: S. Calif. Blaze Flares Up, Nears Homes: Lockwood Valley

Tune in to the Webcams when daylight comes.
Local Frasier Mountain Webcams:

Cuddy Valley Cam
Frazier Park School Weather Cam
Gorman, Lone Juniper Ranch Alpaca Cam
Lebec, Lone Juniper Ranch Grapevine Cam
Lockwood Valley, Polaris Observatory Webcam
Pine Mountain Club, ICA's Apache Saddle Webcam
Pine Mountain Club, PMC-Mt.Pinos Webcam
Pine Mountain Club Weather Cam

Nordhoff Ridge, Ojai Valley Museum Webcam

9/26 Ab I'm a first time poster - interesting thread on WTs

Is it common for a fed WT to return home with water in the tank? Extra weight costs $$ on the haul (gas, breaks, wear n tear, etc) and can make the rig a bit top heavy on steep mountain roads. I try to run my tender dry before hitting the road home.

WT Joe

9/26 -Standup,

You said, "We need to return to a system that holds people accountable for their actions appropriately."

I agree.

Before we hold people accountable for their actions, we need to hold agencies accountable for their procedures and processes that add to safety problems. There are a whole lot of those things out there that allow firefighters to make common "Human Errors" and be held accountable, without assigning proper Blame where Blame is appropriately due.

Dr. James Reason said (in Human Error) that we should design policies, procedures, and systems around the expectations that humans will make errors in judgment. That is a profound statement for many of us... even if we think we have our sh*t together. We CAN make mistakes when organizational failures allow us to.

Before we jump to judgment on any accident, near miss, or safety concern, we should all look at both the organizational and systemic nature of the work we do, and look at Lessons Learned before assigning blame.

A simple way to look at things is to put yourself in the shoes of the firefighters during the accident (if you are a PEER). Would you have done the same thing? Would you have reacted differently given the same circumstances, info, training, and experience? If you are a PEER, how do you roll up appropriate corrective action?

Here is an example: Part of the PEER REVIEW process should be focused on TRUE PEER REVIEW. A PEER is not a GS-13 reviewing the actions of a GS-7 Fire Use Module Supervisor or GS-9 Hotshot Supt. There may be lessons learned that the GS-7 or GS-9 witnessed but the GS-13 never had the opportunity to learn or understand the implications or decision making processes that happened. Things on the ground may have changed since the GS-13 was in the shoes of the GS-7 or GS-9.

Simple stuff on the Swiss Cheese Model and why accidents happen.

Just my thoughts,

9/26 “Who let the dogs out . . .”

Regarding the assignment “refusals” and what to do about the situation, maybe a good peer review including comparison to the elements of Foundational Doctrine would be a positive process in which everyone is held accountable for their professional judgment and decisions and everyone learns from them, in a positive format. As explained so well in “Deep Survival” the emotional system can hijack the cognitive system due to its reactive speed, but psychology also demonstrates that emotions play a part in the cognitive process itself - time permitting. The decision process is rather complex and fascinating - the more we learn about it. Judging decisions in hindsight is also fraught with cognitive problems - but is one of our strongest learning tools. I recently prepared a lengthy paper for the Serious Accident Investigation course dealing with Decision Making and Judging which I would be happy to share with anyone interested in the psychology of those processes.

Old Sawyer

Ab: Attached is the paper if anyone asks for it.
<<What Was He Thinking Decision Making and Judging .doc>>

Ab is passing it on.

9/26 Ab;

Just had to get into this one...

I have to agree with Willie. As leaders, we have a sacred responsibility for the welfare of our troops. Linear thinking (stream-of -consciousness) tells me that not only means not injuring someone, but surrounding yourself with the best available, training meaningfully, and TRUSTING them to complete their assignments safely and efficiently. And by definition, wouldn't an IHC be about the best available? Also, I haven't run into very many IHC overhead (from crew-pusher to Supe) that anyone could call hesitant around fire... So, if a IHC supe tells me he's not comfortable with something, I might just take it a little more seriously than, well, no finger pointing.

Bottom line is, we have to tread that line between encouraging the hesitant, and recognizing when someone has spotted something we've missed.

If this incident truly went down the way Mellie heard it, I want to say two things. To the crew overhead: Good job. To the Ops (or DIVS, or whoever): Please call it a near miss, learn from it, and go on. All effective leaders make mistakes.

And if I'm dragging my crew into something nobody should be into, you just might be the guy to come along and send me to bed that night with the shakes over what I had missed.

Pyro 5755
9/26 A couple of clarifications:
  • I believe people must be held accountable. Our choices and behaviors have consequences. I hold myself accountable for my actions. My choices and conduct have consequences. I can understand, learn and change.
  • Saying "no blame" was not my best choice of words. I am not yet ready to hold the Ops Chief accountable. Actually, I am more interested in the "why a human being behaved that way" if he did...
    • I haven't heard his side, if he has a side. As rmm said, he might not have considered rolling hoses to be a punishment.
    • It would have been better for me to have said "let's think about this as an After Action Review" with a consideration of Human Factors included. In my opinion, if we continue down the accountability path too early, we won't understand the why... Because no one was physically hurt this time, I was seeing exploration of this incident in more of a Peer Review mode. Thanks for the comment, Standup. My words were not clear on that.
  • I agree that people fighting fire or performing any other dangerous activity must have the freedom to refuse an assignment. Saying they have a choice must be more than lip service. They must truly have choice without repercussions. Fire's organizational climate must positively reinforce the individual's freedom to choose not to go in harm's way.
  • I agree that "the emotional side can be reeled back in"... fairly quickly for some people not in survival mode, especially for those who know their issues and have practice or training in bringing reason to bear on their knee jerk reactions. Standup, we all respond with a knee jerk -- a motor command -- to things that push our buttons. Some knee jerks are almost universal among humans, like fear of snakes. Other knee jerk reactions are learned by personal life experiences. My point is that a fearful knee jerk reaction is hard to override with reason. In fact, those who survive in a crisis are often those who more quickly bring reason and/or training to bear on a fearful situation as Lawrence Gonzales summarizes so well in Deep Survival.
    • The amygdala is the part of the brain activated when danger threatens survival. Normally the amygdala is silent and resting. However, the amygdala is hard-wired to react to threatening perceptual stimuli within thousandths of a second with an automatic "motor command" reaction.
      For example, a poisonous snake in the path activates the amygdala which creates an adrenalin reaction with simultaneous "motor commands": increased heart rate, blood pressure (flight or fight), hair standing up on neck, etc. If the stimulus is snake in your path, the amygdala message is simple: "Danger, Danger."
    • The naming of snake and analysis of the frightening stimulus is a cognitive process involving the cortex and that comes later, after the adrenalin rush and activated survival behaviors are underway. Oh, that was a snake... or was it a stick I thought was a snake? But most of us feel the jolt.
  • Humans have double wiring, one neural system for emotion, another one for cognition (reasoning). To some degree the two systems interact. The amygdala has the greater influence since there are more well developed neural connections from the amygdala (emotion) up to the cortex (reason) than vice versa. Because of the speed and connections, once an emotion is turned on it's hard to get the cortex to turn it off. Hmmm, It's no wonder we have trouble controlling our emotions.

Thanks for the opportunity to talk Human Factors, etc.


Resources/Scientists: For the research on the speed of emotional reaction and dual neural pathways for emotion and reason, see Joseph LeDoux's work, The Emotional Brain, and Paul Ekman's work on emotion automatically expressed in faces. There's a large body of scientific literature relating to "emotional intelligence", beginning with the work by Peter Salovey in the late 1980s and made popular by Dan Goleman in the '90s. Stress and its effects on the brain and body are described by Bruce McEwan in The Hostage Brain and by Bob Sapolsky in Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers.

9/26 Re: WT-3690 Rollover on the Pinnacles Fire (CA-BDF)

Why were they traveling 1.25 hours away from the fire to a rest location (after an extended shift of over 24 hours) when a fire camp and rest location was located nearby?

Also, since this is a factual report, there is not a CDF Engine 3519 or a Battalion Chief 3519 in the San Bernardino Unit of CDF... just for the record and correction.

SoCal Capt


File Code: 6730 Date: September 22, 2006
Subject: Expanded Briefing
Pinnacles Incident; Mountain Top RD; San Bernardino NF, Region 5
September 20, 2006

To: Jeanne Wade Evans, Forest Supervisor, San Bernardino N.F.

Name of injured: Two

Property damage: Sustained major damage to a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Water Tender

Preliminary factual findings: On September 20, 2006 at 0900 BLM Water Tender 3690 was involved in a single vehicle rollover accident. The BLM driver and passenger were returning to their duty station after a 24 hour initial attack assignment on the Pinnacles fire. Both BLM Personnel were ground transported to a local hospital via ambulance. The passenger was released with minor injuries. The driver was held over night for further assessment and was released September 21, 2006.

The water tender operator and passenger drove the 3,500 gallon water tender back to duty station; Apple Valley fire station; after working a 24hr initial attack assignment to take their required rest.

In the process of traveling westbound on Hwy 138 the driver of the water tender negotiated several hairpin turns with a full tank of water. Coming up to a turn at an estimated speed of 25 to 30 mph, in 5th gear low, the water tender started hopping and when the operator tried to stop it by trying to apply the brakes and downshifting, the brakes faded fast and the operator tried to grab a lower gear, but could not and was in neutral.

At the 4000 ft level access road, the driver attempted to use brakes and noted they were not working. To stop the water tender from going over the cliff the operator cranked the wheel as hard as the driver could, intending to make the turn. Going around the turn the truck was overcome and did roll over on the driver's side. The vehicle entered the eastbound lane. California Department of Forestry CDF E- 3586 called for medical assistant and CDF E- 3519 administered first aid to the operator & passenger. The water tender operator had multiple contusions to left arm and right leg and passenger had suffered strains to both arms. They both were ground transported to the Loma Linda hospital via ambulance to be checked out. The passenger was released at the hospital with strains to both arms. The driver was assessed overnight and was released September 21, 2006.

/s/ Michelle Reugebrink
Chief Investigator

cc: Dave Edgar, Regional Safety Manager

The report did not say the CDF Engines were from the San Bernardino, nor did it refer to Battalion Chiefs. It only identified engines, probably to protect the identities of those involved. You know fire traffic. Those engines could have been on the same road and come upon the accident. Ab.

9/26 Mellie,

Your post about the Red Mtn incident opened a door for me to vent, an "escape route" I've been trying to resolve for several days. Thanks in advance… There have been three "refusals" in the Sierras over the last few weeks, that I know of, all involving the same group of folks giving the orders. I witnessed the third one a short time ago, with the divs attempting to intimidate the "nay sayers" with his superior knowledge, experience and comfort level. You know where that goes.

At that point a simple "No, I don't think so" became a "F_ _ _ No".

At all three refusals the fires went "gunny sack" at the locations in question.

There have been far too many posts in this good forum about memorial services and hospital locations this summer. I can't put my finger on the "unease" I sense from a lot of very experienced suppression supervisors, but somewhere in the chain the lessons weren't learned. I'm sure without a lot of the experienced people in all agencies fighting the good fight, things could be (and may become) far worse. After all the discussion about various types/brands of fire pants- I think we just need ones with a pouch for armor plating behind the rear pockets. Maybe a rear view mirror on line packs to make it easier to watch your back?

Be safe out there, still a ways to go, methinks…


9/26 Mellie - With the utmost respect, I must disagree with your statement, "No
blame, but an apology..."

15 seconds is not too long to reel one's self back in after a mistake is made.
IF this incident occurred, or even if it didn't, the issue is the same.

We need to return to a system that holds people accountable for their actions
appropriately. An ops chief, a FFT2, or a food unit leader, it shouldn't
matter. If you make an error in judgment, you should be held responsible!
This should apply regardless of the outcome. Severe injury or death does not
absolve poor judgment.

Of course, I am dreaming, as some fire agencies not only fail to hold people
accountable, they promote those who continue to make egregious mistakes.

Mellie, I think an apology is a great start but I think we need to take it a
step further. The ramifications for punishing a crew for a refusal are far
reaching. Think about the 18 or 19 year old who started on the crew this
year. Do you think s/he will be eager to refuse an assignment again?

In a perfect world, the IC would be made aware of the incident and take
appropriate action. Maybe the Ops chief sits out the next roll, or two?
Certainly an apology in written form, as well. I don't know what the correct
punishment would be for something like this.

Take home message:
Hold yourself and others accountable, no questions, no excuses!

9/26 Mellie,

I know it appears as punishment, but perhaps it wasn't really
"punishment". I know a number of Ops Chiefs and shot crews that would roll
hose simply because it needed to be done and they were available to do it.
A tip of the hat to the crew that had the wherewithal to refuse the
assignment, and I would like to think that they didn't think that rolling
hose was "below" them. On our team, even the Ops Chiefs themselves would
roll hose if it needed to be done at the end of a fire and they had the
time. I've never known a good shot crew to not want to be productive in
some way.

9/26 Was overhead watching the DC-10 (T-910) drop yesterday on the Day fire. First drop missed the target and landed in the drainage below the ridge line that the target was on. Second drop was on target, but needed to have the conventional tankers, P-3's and P2V's, fill in many light spots and breaks (scalloping) in the retardant line. Third drop on target, lots of mud but the first 1/3 drifted into the black.

The conventional tankers built line all day and were much more effective than the DC-10 in this country. Nice political photo ops though for the DC-10 folks...

ticity tac
You have a 1957 Dodge Power Wagon engine on your website. It was
submitted by Doug Kunst. If you can please have him email me about his
restoration of this, I'd appreciate it. I have one like this and am looking
for ideas on how to restore it.

Thank you.


If anyone knows how to reach Doug these days, could you please put us in touch and I'll forward TMs message to him. Ab.

9/26 Help me

I am a TFLD with a government agency but not a DOZB, have worked
around them most of my life and was even assigned as a swamper with a state
agency. My question is can I sign off a DOZB(T) as TFLD? I was told I need
to be DOZB. Also is there any way around this one? Probably not the way it
is written. I know the rules, just seeing if there was a way around this


9/26 Regarding a rumor of a burnover on the Day Fire late yesterday:

From an accountable source I checked with:

The word I got was a local Govt. Engine crew was looking up hill when a
spot fire below the engine went undetected. The spot flared up and
blistered the paint and melted some plastic and Hard line. Rumors were
circulating that a burn over had occurred. The IMT verified no burnover
had occurred...


9/25 I heard something disturbing today that supposedly happened maybe a week or two ago.

A hotshot crew on the Red Mountain Fire refused an assignment. Later that day the fire blew up where they would have been working. In punishment for refusing the assignment, the ops chief made them roll hoses... in spite of the fact that the fire showed very clearly that their refusal was the right choice and probably saved their lives.

If true, I just don't get it even though I'd like to. It's got to be human factors based. To me it is not rational.

If the ops chief gave a punishment, he must have been basing his decision on a physiological emotional human factors response that hijacked his reason. It's not anything a person is in charge of, but rather usually is a result of stress. You know I'm always harping on how quickly the message gets to the "puppy behind the screen door" emotional brain. Once free, there's no grabbing the puppy, no reasoning with it, no controlling it. It controls you.

Something happens, the person reacts fast and automatically. The message gets to the person's emotional brain up to 15 seconds faster than the same message going along a different path of nerves can reach the person's reasoning brain. This is plenty of time for the emotional brain to hijack the body and the reasoning brain. >Bam< emotional brain reacts automatically. The person's puppy is out and the person won't even know or have seen it coming. They're just in the middle of their emotion-driven reaction.

Chronic stress, adrenalin, lack of real rest, and smoke can feed into the brain's automatic response. We have lots of that this season. Most firefighters are on their 5th or 6th assignment. They're spent, and the season is not over.

I don't want to tell false stories if the Ops Chief didn't "punish" the crew, but I do think this is a true story and I do think human factors played a part in the choices he made. No blame, but an apology would be the right thing to do.

Something else I noticed today...

We had 3 vehicle accidents last week of people going back to their duty stations from a fire. (BLM Tender (firefighters OK kind of), BLM light engine (ff in serious condition), LEO on an ID fire who drove off a drop off (in critical condition). We also have a BLM firefighter who is critical and in a coma from an off-duty vehicle accident. (Prayers for all of them and their families.)

Is it time for a stand down for safety to critically re-evaluate if people are getting quality rest so they can make good decisions?

I think we need to take a look at tiredness, choices being made and safety. Are people even rested enough to know when they aren't making good decisions right now?


PS. Lobotomy, I got my rep on board. His son works for CDF. Wasn't too hard to convince him. Everyone call your representative and ask them to vote for H.R. 408. Can we have a link to what that is, exactly???

PSS. Vicki Minor, you are too funny!!! Old fire dogs. <rolling on the floor> <laughing> Puppies at the screen door grow up to be old fire dogs. Still uncontrollable! Better watch that barking and make sure you let them out on purpose when needed so they don't make a puddle on the floor! (Q-man doesn't read theysaid, does he?) <snicker>

9/25 Ab,

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is happy to announce our new Board Members who are so graciously willing to serve your Wildland Firefighter Foundation. <drum roll> <trumpets blare> Hark, is that a hint of bagpipes in the offing...?

Here they are:

Ken and Kathy Brinkley: are the parents of Levi Brinkley, lost on Storm King and of Joe Brinkley, a smokejumper who survived a falling snag accident last year while on fire assignment. Ken works for BLM. Ken and Kathy bring wisdom, compassion and stability to new families who can use it... plus... they're lots of fun!

Ray Quintanar: much-loved, and (Mellie says) occasionally mis-understood former Director of R5 Fire and Aviation Management. Ray has too much wisdom and passion for groundpounders for us to let him sit on his bum at home all winter nursing his sore back and other "retired anatomy". He's gotta come be sore with us occasionally. As some may know and he is due to find out, old fire dogs don't retire or die, they just come to the big doghouse at WFF and we get 'em barkin' for funding!

Mike Warren: has been in fire forever. He's an NPS retiree with close ties to the Foundation through his sweet wife and firefighting son, Chris. Another big doghouse occupant. We especially need Mike because he knows how to "talk government" and he can also calm me down when I want to kill people!

Paul Ross: is a professional writer and wonderful photographer -- and a long time firefighter EMT, helicopter squad leader (and all the redcard helitack stages that precede that) -- basically a rotor head at the Grand Canyon National Park but <psst>, best of all, he makes me look 20 pounds thinner whenever he takes my photo!

They all bring a wealth of knowledge and energy with them. Unfortunately none of our board members have much money, so we're still going to need you all to contribute.

We are grateful for their coming years of (unpaid) service.
I am HONORED, I think, soon to be under their guidance & direction.

Vicki Minor

haw, haw. Ab.

9/25 Lobotomy,

Your post on 9/12, especially your P.S. comments are things that Casey Judd should mention to the President during his visit.

When appointed executive branch leaders such as Mark Rey and Dale Bosworth can't lead effectively and accomplish the mission, they need to be replaced (or resign) as Mr. Brown did.

Statements made to the Congress and the public this year about the preparedness of the Forest Service, even with known conditions and budget cuts, were false and bordered on contempt of Congress..

Simple math and empirical observations can prove that a system is broken. You don't need to be a biological scientist (or rocket scientist) to manage a wildland fire management program.

Rogue Rivers
9/25 FWFSA to Meet with President Bush next Week

The FWFSA, tired of the slow, unproductive pace of congress, has been afforded an opportunity to meet with President Bush next week in California. Business Manager Casey Judd will meet with the President in an effort to educate the President on the unacceptable response to federal wildland firefighter issues by OPM, the Forest Service, namely Mark Rey of the USDA and provide information on the many archaic pay & personnel policies which need to be changed.

"Time will be limited of course but opportunities like this don't come around too often," Judd said. "It's a shot in the dark if any action will come of the meeting, but it is critical to take advantage of such opportunities when they present themselves."

More to follow
9/25 Appropriators add $200M for emergency firefighting
Dan Berman, Greenwire

Congress will provide an additional $200 million in emergency firefighting
money to the Interior Department and Forest Service as part of a deal on
Defense Department spending reached last night.

The $100 million for the Forest Service and $100 million for Interior will
ensure the agencies can pay their firefighting bills for fiscal 2006
without borrowing from other accounts, such as land acquisition or
hazardous fuels reduction programs.

The Forest Service has already spent $1.265 billion fighting fires this
year, exhausting both its regular appropriation of $760 million and $500
million in emergency funds carried over from last year, according to
congressional sources. Interior has spent $365 million.

Wildfires have scorched more than 9 million acres of land nationwide this
year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, topping the total
8.7 million acres that burned in 2005. "This has been the worst fire season
on record," said Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.).

Earlier this month, the Senate approved $275 million for emergency
firefighting money as part of its DOD appropriations measure, but the
Forest Service later lowered its spending estimate, according to Burns'

Before the deal was reached last night, Democratic members of the Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday urged appropriators to add
the full $275 million.

"This is a true emergency, and we believe strongly that we must respond and
support these critical firefighting efforts," the senators wrote. "We
therefore urge you to include this emergency funding in the conference

9/25 here is a link I found on the 1* symbol. www.crkt.com/oneastrs.phpl

I would not know who to contact to get something like this for a fund raiser
but I am sure someone out there knows who they can contact and track
down if they wanted to.

9/25 Here is the latest list of Representatives supporting H.R. 408, Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act of 2005.

So far, it looks like the support is coming from CA, ID, CO, AZ, PA, ME, CT, NV, OR, and AK.

Time is running out on this session of Congress. If your representative isn't listed below, please contact them and ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 408.


Rep Pombo, Richard W. [CA-11]

Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] - 1/26/2005
Rep Cunningham, Randy (Duke) [CA-50] - 1/26/2005
Rep Otter, C. L. (Butch) [ID-1] - 1/26/2005
Rep Simpson, Michael K. [ID-2] - 1/26/2005
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 1/26/2005
Rep Doolittle, John T. [CA-4] - 1/26/2005
Rep Udall, Mark [CO-2] - 2/1/2005
Rep Cardoza, Dennis A. [CA-18] - 2/1/2005
Rep Renzi, Rick [AZ-1] - 2/8/2005
Rep Weldon, Curt [PA-7] - 2/8/2005
Rep Herger, Wally [CA-2] - 2/8/2005
Rep Simmons, Rob [CT-2] - 2/9/2005
Rep Calvert, Ken [CA-44] - 3/1/2005
Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43] - 3/1/2005
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 3/8/2005
Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] - 4/6/2005
Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 4/12/2005
Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 4/20/2005
Rep Tauscher, Ellen O. [CA-10] - 4/20/2005
Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27] - 4/21/2005
Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 5/24/2005
Rep Hayworth, J. D. [AZ-5] - 5/24/2005
Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 6/15/2005
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 6/16/2005
Rep Bono, Mary [CA-45] - 6/16/2005
Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] - 6/16/2005
Rep Pastor, Ed [AZ-4] - 6/22/2005
Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] - 6/22/2005
Rep Lungren, Daniel E. [CA-3] - 7/13/2005
Rep Gibbons, Jim [NV-2] - 7/25/2005
Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] - 11/15/2005
Rep Lantos, Tom [CA-12] - 2/14/2006
Rep Thompson, Mike [CA-1] - 3/28/2006
Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] - 5/9/2006
Rep Young, Don [AK] - 5/11/2006
Rep Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49] - 5/16/2006
Rep Sanchez, Loretta [CA-47] - 6/12/2006
Rep Nunes, Devin [CA-21] - 9/19/2006
9/25 Re unlicensed equipment:

Gizmo, it truly is amazing how that kind of thing is flourishing. For example a couple of days ago I saw a sink unit being supplied so called potable water with the fill hole wide open. The location of the unit was in a place where was evidence of cow and horse poo. Of course the wind was blowing the dust and poo particles right in the fill hole. Who is watching this stuff? Who continues to hire it?


9/25 Bryan Hughes, a firefighter with the Palm Springs South Coast fire zone, was
seriously injured in an off-duty motor vehicle accident on Friday, September
22. The accident occurred on Highway 74, just south of Palm Desert, CA. He
was returning home to his residence in Moreno Valley, CA. Bryan is a
firefighter on BLM engine 3630 that is co-located at CDF Riverside County
Station 30. He was involved in a collision with another vehicle on a very
steep and curvy mountain road.

Bryan is still in critical condition at Desert Regional Medical Center in
Palm Springs. He suffered very serious head trauma, a torn diaphragm, and a
skull fracture. He underwent emergency surgery on Friday evening to repair
his diaphragm. The head trauma is the major concern. He is not responding
to touch. His vitals signs are stable. The doctors are saying that they
are not sure of his prognosis. Currently he is still in a coma.

Please keep Bryan in your thoughts and prayers. Don’t hesitate to call me
anytime for an update.

Get well cards can be sent to:

Palm Springs Field Office
c/o Bryan Hughes
PO Box 581260
North Palm Springs CA 92258

Tim Dunfee
Zone Fire Management Officer
Palm Springs/South Coast Field Office, BLM
9/24 Compassion Spreads Like Wildfire!!!!

That quote is found on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF) website.

The WFF supports the families and friends of injured or killed wildland firefighters. The WFF also "will honor past, present, and future members of the wildland firefighting family by helping to maintain the wildland firefighter monument, operate a financial fund to be known as the Family Assistance Program, and partner with private and interagency organizations to educate the public about wildland fires and will promote excellence and safety in firefighting."

There are now over 1700 members in the 52 Club for 2006.

There are also 40 Gold Club Memberships from various organizations and still growing. All are interested in supporting the basics.... Compassion for the safety of the wildland fire community and our family.

All it takes is a dollar a week to make a difference in the safety of our families, friends, and co-workers.

Accidents happen, and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is there to provide support. If you haven't given a "buck to a buddy" or spread the word to your friends and co-workers, please do so now.

9/24 Just back from assignment. I had the chance to see an embroidered patch
with appropriate (not PC) safety message. It read LCES and 1* (decipher
that if you can.....). Red border and letters on white background.
If someone can tell me the origin/market source for these, I'll buy them
for my troops out of my own pocket.

Old Fire Guy

1 a$s to risk: LCES.
It would potentially be a good fund raiser for the WFF if there was interest and we could get permission. Anyone know where it came from? Ab.

9/24 skm,

Thanks for the information. It is directly relevant to safety but often is
overlooked until someone is ill or worse.

9/24 Mellie,

You said,

"Hi 6, you must be oldern'dirt. You used to set me straight along with OA and Old Fire Guy and Pulaski and Tim and Sting and MOC4546 and R5 Engine Captain, back in the "old days" of this forum. Bunch'a old f*rts! Thanks for training me up. Thanks to everyone else for continuing the educating..."

Mellie, the educating works both ways and you should also be thanked alot!!.... and all of us are also appreciative of your input and vision. Everyone who takes the time to post on They Said, or comes to the Chat Room, or updates the Hot List Forum is someone who is contributing to communication and education.

Communication is the key to education and making the wildland fire business safer and more efficient (Lessons Learned). Everyone who communicates at wildlandfire.com is making a difference for safety in their own special way.

Hopefully, someday the Doctrine will produce communication where leadership can come the top, the bottom, the middle, or through outside expertise. Every voice that is heard adds to the discussion and the learning. It will take some time for change, but that change will bring a safer and more effective wildland fire community, regardless of institutional barriers.


9/24 The DC-10 is in the air and en-route to the Day Fire right now.

9/23 Ab, Why can't we do this to the big fires, such as Day? -MJ

Indonesia Puts Out Forest Fires in Borneo, Reduces Smoke Haze 

12 September 2006

published by www.bloomberg.com

Indonesia -- Indonesia has put out most of the forest fires in its part of Borneo island after inducing rain with cloud seeding, minimizing the spread of a smoke haze that's threatening air quality in the country and its neighbors.

The number of hotspots in the provinces of Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan on Borneo has dropped to fewer than 100 from as many as 600 the previous week, Forestry Minister M.S. Kaban told reporters today. Hotspots are areas about 1-kilometer (0.6-mile) wide with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The haze occurs almost every year during the dry season as farmers on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo clear land by setting fires to trees and bushes. Smoke choked much of Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998, causing economic losses of almost $9 billion as travelers shunned the region and health-care costs increased. The haze also reduced visibility in the Strait of Malacca, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

The government has put aside a budget of 1 billion rupiah to 2 billion rupiah ($219,000) for the cloud-seeding program that began in late August, which involves spraying silver iodide particles into storm clouds. 
9/23 Mellie,

"Hi 6, you must be oldern'dirt" !?! I guess that I am.

Steve H. from R-4 has an interesting theory on FS policies over the years.
pre 1994: OUTCOME BASED: The FS only looked into incidents if there was a bad outcome.
1994-2006: RULE BASED: Rules are rules and the FS never met a new rule it didn't like. FS enforces rules to the letter of the law, even when they make no sense.
post 2006: DOCTRINE BASED: Many rules go out the window and are replaced by a more logical analysis of events. (Commander's Intent, SA, etc.)
If you ever get a chance to sit in on one of his presentations it is well worth the time.

The Peer Review process seems to be a logical product from the Doctrine. The trade-off looks to be accountability vs. education. I don't think a peer review process would have worked as well for Cramer or 30 Mile. I support the Doctrine concept and think this is a good example on how it can be implimented.

If we can combine Doctrine with LCES the fire world will be a much nicer place.

9/21 GGFire,

Here's part of an off-the-cuff email I sent to someone soliciting info on Doctrinal Change more than a year and a half ago. Part and parcel of Doctrinal Change is a change in organizational climate with an emphasis on leadership and lessons learned. Having a Peer Review process is a fine first step to making the new theoretical Doctrine real, in my opinion. Peer Review could be done on Balls Canyon and Little Venus Incidents because there was no death or injury. Without tangible changes like Peer Review, Doctrinal Change is simply an academic type of "head trip", no leadership required.

Thoughts on Commanders Intent as Doctrine:

To have Commander's Intent work, you have to have an excellent professional
firefighter leader with communication skills, and professional firefighters
for him or her to lead.

For me Commander's Intent is about training to a standard, personal
professionalism from day one, an organizational climate of professional
firefighting & learning, knowledge of and experience with changing fire behavior,
knowing some people will not be able to demonstrate basic knowledge of fire
behavior, having ways to fire them, fostering lessons learned, developing leadership,
an organizational climate of fostering and evaluating leadership, knowing some
people will not make the leadership standard and finding appropriate
alternate roles for them that fit their personality (not all are leaders).

A leader providing Commander's Intent- you must know you have a group of
people who use appropriate and safe tactics given the assignment -- who
know when to alter tactics because fire behavior has changed even if it
means backing off completely if conditions seem to be changing beyond their
experience. People who are trained in situational awareness, who know
themselves to some degree, who have some modicum of emotional intelligence,
and understand their ego issues that might blind them, people who value the
truth of the moment more greatly than they value protecting their own ego
or saving face or playing politics. People who have social skills and
communication skills, who can read their "troops" and inspire them to be
the best and achieve intent with safe tactics.



9/21 GGFire, quick comment...

Until Peer Review, there has been no way to do an After Action Rollup for any more than the local group of firefighters involved. From reading these 2 reviews, it's clear a lessons learned analysis in the form of peer review can benefit a larger group of firefighters. The problem is trust. In the past the only options following near misses have been the AAR and the Serious Accident Investigation... and we know that the second option doesn't foster trust or learning.

NorCal Tom

9/21 Please update the link for Rio Hondo College to: www.RioHondoFire.com.

This will provide a more complete picture of the program there which
includes structure, wildland, and ems.


I updated Rio Hondo College on the 2- and 4-year schools page. Nice website. Ab.

9/21 Ab:

After reading a few posts here regarding the recent peer reviews, I am curious and would like to see what people have to say. What do people see as the direct connection between peer review and the FS doctrine and how are peer reviews, as one poster put it, "bringing doctrine into focus"?

Sign me,
9/21 Ab,

We're sending an engine and crew to Steve's service tomorrow and wondered
if you had any contact information I can provide the crew.



Readers, any contact info? Ab.

9/21 Mellie,

Great summation of "Peer Review"! The latest for "Little Venus" is a
document that managers, full-time firefighters, and militia specialists can
learn from. Much of it is a reminder/acknowledgement of the value of
following existing standards and values for our safety. From a "learning"
standpoint, it is far better than the Investigation of Cramer Incident that
had so many redactions, it was nearly impossible to understand the chain of

Kudos to the champions of Peer Review......their efforts bring the Doctrine
into focus, and may well save lives in the future.

Old Fire Guy

9/21 The following memorial and funeral services have been scheduled for Battalion Chief Steve Faris of the CDF/Riverside County Fire Department who died in an off-duty traffic accident on Saturday, September 16:

Saturday, September 23, 2006
Public Memorial Service at 10 a.m.
Redlands East Valley High School
31000 Colton Ave
Redlands, CA 29374

A reception will immediately follow the memorial service at the same location. Uniformed personnel are requested to wear Class A or Dress Uniforms, the only exception will be personnel arriving on fire apparatus who shall wear administrative or best available work uniform. Any fire apparatus, excluding staff vehicles, are requested to arrive at 8:30 a.m. for staging and placement of apparatus.

There's more information for the funeral for family and close friends. If you'd like that, email Ab.
9/21 Digital Firefighter, I want to thank grl4ster and 6 as well. I had heard that someone who died on the helo crash had had a near miss earlier in the season, but if I hadn't been warned ... , well, thanks grl4ster, and thanks 6 for sending it in.

(Hi 6, you must be oldern'dirt. You used to set me straight along with OA and Old Fire Guy and Pulaski and Tim and Sting and MOC4546 and R5 Engine Captain, back in the "old days" of this forum. Bunch'a old f*rts! Thanks for training me up. Thanks to everyone else for continuing the educating...)

Digital Firefighter, you asked, "Who wrote this report??? Where the heck did "peer review" come from?"

The Peer Review folks are the Forest Service Safety Council, led by Larry Sutton who came over from BLM. They are the down-to-earth, make-it-real point people looking to put meat on the real doctrine thing. By their leadership, they are advancing the cultural change in fire based on the concept that the wildland fire organization will become a true "learning organization" by fostering and sharing lessons learned and thereby developing a "just culture." This is one of the cultural changes the Firefighter Safety Awareness Study said had to happen after South Canyon. This is what my fire friends began -- John Wendt,  Dan Felix, Jerry McGowan, Peter Tolosano and others who pushed for and participated in the Safety Protocol Review SoCal Fire Siege, 2003. Risks associated with failure of a "just culture" is why my San Bernardino NF friend Mick McCormick retired early in protest and why many of you got liability insurance.

Until the Peer Review of the Balls Canyon Near Miss, it seemed all interest in doctrinal change had gone by the wayside. But that lovely piece of work peaked my hopes again... <sigh> <...be still my heart...>

How sweet is this, the intro to that Balls Canyon review??? (Similar explanation begins on page 34 of the Peer Review of the Little Venus Entrapment fat pdf file.)

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


"Effective risk management depends crucially on establishing a reporting culture." ~ James Reason

Successful implementation of a doctrinal approach to fire management requires an organization that is committed to improving decision making and impulsively seeks to expose, learn and adjust to inevitable human fallibility. It is essential our employees share this commitment and feel free to report errors and mistakes. Our organization, with a proper preoccupation with failure, must then embrace these errors, analyze the upstream systems that enable the errors, and adjust the system to ensure that normal human error will not result in an unacceptable loss.

After Action Reviews, when implemented correctly, have enormous value at the local and small group level. Successful After Action Reviews result in the disclosure of errors in an open and noncritical atmosphere. The group immediately learns and adjusts to mitigate these errors. However, due to the confidentiality of After Action Reviews, managers (responsible for designing the system, procedures and training) cannot analyze the errors and thus cannot effect changes to make the larger larger system more resilient to human error. At the opposite end of the spectrum of reviews, is the formal investigation. Due to many factors, people subjected to investigations are often reluctant to disclose mistakes. Thus, like After Action Reviews, organizational learning opportunities are missed because managers are not learning from human error. Managers may see an error and its consequences, but never understand the human factors involved in why the error occurred. Moreover, due to the cost and complexity of formal investigations, they are a tool best suited to catastrophic events where either litigation is likely or there could be a need for significant policy changes.

Bridging the gap between After Action Reviews and Investigations are Peer Reviews. Peer reviews are based on a “Just Culture”. Just Culture is an organizational ethic where employees are encouraged to report errors and mistakes because of an ethical recognition that other employees and managers must learn (and then make adjustments to compensate) from normal human error. Rewards and punishments are based on the employee’s values and how he or she acted on their values. If an employee’s values are consistent with the organization’s values (with the value of human life being the core value) then their errors and mistakes should be treated as normal and ethical human error.

Traditional organizational reaction to errors often includes punishment for normal, or "honest," human error. This inevitably results in the suppression of error reporting and the collapse of a reporting culture.

The process used in this review encouraged honest and frank disclosure of mistakes. The peers involved were assured that the only outcome will be a report intended to facilitate organizational learning. This Peer Review was fashioned after an After Action Review. The questions asked to the peers involved in this very close call were intentionally similar to, but in greater depth than, After Action Review questions.

To facilitate organizational learning the narrative was written as a story. Storytelling is widely recognized as the most effective tool for teaching human environmental interactions. (Reference Sources of Power, by Gary Klein © 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

The questions asked to peers in this incident were designed to ascertain each interviewee’s perspective. The Peer Review team then combined these perspectives to develop a picture of the event, internal and external influences, and the decisions and behaviors involved.

The following questions were asked:

  1. What was planned?
    • a. What was your leader’s intent?
    • b. What information were you provided?
    • c. What did you feel was missing?
    • d. Why couldn’t you get it?
  2. What was the situation?
    • a. What did you see?
    • b. What were you aware you couldn’t see?
  3. What did you do?
    • a. Why did you do it?
    • b. What didn’t you do?
    • c. Why didn’t you do it?
  4. What did you learn?
    • a. What might you do differently the next time?
    • b. What can we learn as an organization?
    • c. What might we do differently?

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

Ah, read the rest of Balls Canyon, or don't, just read the Peer Review of the Little Venus Entrapment.

This reconstituted Forest Service Safety Council could have initiated an accident investigation following the entrapment. Instead -- to their great credit -- they initiated a peer review. Inspired!!!! These peer review stories create memorable slides for our mental slide trays that carry an emotional charge. They are POWERFUL learning tools and will be remembered, probably to save lives in the future.

As you read the Peer Review of Little Venus, look at the way the lessons were extracted. This is a tool that provides an example of the Just Culture Process. I know it is a "narrative". It is also telling the first-hand true story -- storytelling at its best -- to share lessons learned that will be remembered.

I applaud the efforts of the reconstituted Forest Service Safety Council and any others those who sat on or contributed to the Peer Review Panels. Creating a listening environment, a big part of what it's really about. Thank you!

Dr. Mellie

Ab note: These Reviews will have a permanent home on the Lessons Learned Website as well as here. Ab.

9/21 Thanks AGAIN Mellie for the alert on the Little Venus Report.

Incredible story and report. There's no doubt in my mind I
would have marched up that canyon with the Unaweep crew.
Powerful lesson.

The Unaweep crew and the packers are heroes not only for
what they did in the face of death but also for being so upfront with
the investigation team.

The epilogue shot right to my heart. God bless the family and friends
of Monica.

Who wrote this report??? Where the heck did "peer review" come

Digital Firefighter

9/21 Hey AB, whats with the recent posts pertaining to "So-CA"?
Thanks for trying to keep it under control. It's a great
site if the users use it properly.

By the way, any bets the Day incident runs across Hwy 33
by Sunday morning?


As mentioned several days ago, we will be working on a multi-thread forum to replace the current Hot List format so that ALL breaking fire information needs are met. Ab.

9/21 Big Bar all over again!

I was on the Big Bar Complex the last time around. A bunch of structural
engines stationed down at the house at the hairpin turn corner in Denny (by
the house where the man threw rocks at your truck when he thought you were
driving too fast!) fed a tiny deer every day. It became tame and hung around
the trucks for a good portion of the 71 days of the fire. We were worried it
was too used to humans and would become a problem later. Strange that it is
happening again on the Bar Complex.

Red Army Wife turned Green

9/21 ROSS (or something similar) going to everyone?

www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nims/rims_81406.pdf (small pdf file)

At least that's what it sounds like to me.


9/21 Bob,

The paint colt is growing well.

The little spotted fawn -- known as "Spud" -- is no more. Just after the
last firefighters left Denny, Spud disappeared. Residents looked
high and low. After a couple of days 4 itty bitty deer hooves were
found in a pile of blackberry-laden bear scat. Spud got et.

(The 2 fawns on the Big Bar Complex in '99 did survive to adulthood
and returned to the wild.)

While I'm at it...

Belated thanks to Caroline Higgins for getting some inciweb info to
folks who needed it.
Thanks to the teams for maintaining those inciweb websites.

We're hoping Denny and downriver dodge the bullet. It's a race
between rain... and fire that could approach from two directions.

  • The Bake Oven Fire is in the upper reaches of Devils Canyon. It
    has not had fire in recorded history and is full of downed timber
    and brush. Luckily the inversion below 10,000 feet reduces fire
    behavior and the rain should win.
  • The Pigeon Fire is also a threat in that there's continuous fuel between
    it and the New River. There aren't even any bare ridges that provide
    natural barriers if we get red flag warning winds that push fire. Again, the
    fire has moved slowly to the west due to inversion. However, the
    winds come. It is a race.

Gearing up for red flag winds.....


Wind, fire and water, with no bare earth to help out.

9/21 Way Cool story...............

www.nytimes.com/packages/html/us/20060920_WILDFIRE_AUDIOSS/blocker.phpl (1min 45 sec slide show on May Fire)


Great find.
Readers, verbal description accompanying the slides is spoken by Kevin Murray, Helitack Captain on Arroyo Grande Flight Crew, USFS, describing also the productivity of the CDF run CDC crews.) Ab.

9/21 Thanks OA for setting all that stuff up. Todd
9/21 The Online Scanners page, available from the News Page has been updated.  Two Southern California, one Central CA, and a Central Oregon scanner link have been added along with our newly online WLF scanner covering a fairly large portion of Northern California.   Read the WLF Scanner Info page for more info.  If you know of other wildland fire focused scanner sites, let us know about 'em.  OA.
9/21 Ab,

I was on the Bar Complex when Denny Spike Camp was on the meadow.
There was a little deer without a mom in Denny that the residents were
bottle feeding. Can anyone tell me how it's doing? Also, that little paint colt?

By the way it's good to see our SW line is holding where it's bumping up
against the old Big Bar Complex line. Maybe Denny will dodge the bullet.


9/21 I just wanted to share a great news article that was done about the No. 1 Ranked private crew in Oregon under the new Best Value Contract. The PNW Chapter of NWSA promoted the use of the contract concept for many years and we applaud ODF, DNR and USFS for the use of it to better help those of you in the agency's know that you are getting quality product from the contractor side. You can see the article by going to www.sweethomenews.com/news/story.cfm?story_no=6300

Be safe out there!

Debbie Miley
National Wildfire Suppression Association

Thanks, Debbie. Good to have incentives to recognize good crews. Ab.

9/21 I have been told that some places still use 11/2 cotton jacket hose for IA.
I know its been discussed before but in So. Cal. where I used to work we
started carrying wajax for various reasons:
  1. lighter (DUH)
  2. doesn't blow when burned
  3. able to carry more hose than cotton

can anybody give me reason to use 50 ft. cotton instead?

signed, time to change?

9/21 New MesoWest Weather version released last month that lets you
overlay a variety of functions and choose map, hybrid or google earth
as the format. Useful for getting the lay of the land around fires and
then looking at local weather conditions.


NorCal Tom

Interesting. Permanent link to that on the Links page under weather. Ab.

9/21 Chris-

Take all of the advice given here. Also, look for classes this winter and fit in whatever you can. Look for a S212 saw class. S211 pumps class. Get to know the basics in the classroom and show that you have an interest and drive to get yourself to where you need to be.

If you have the ability to work over the winter, look back east (region 8 or 9) to get picked up by a fed or state district. There are always fires going on somewhere in the country all year. You may be able to find a temp seasonal job for a month or two on a district that still has a lot of thinning/burning left to do this fall. It's definitely a foot in the door.

Make sure you keep a complete record of all your work and training. Copies of certificates, training cards, and red cards.

Best of luck!

9/21 A-10 tanker

The A-10 Warthog has never had serious backing as an air tanker from the fire agencies nor the air tanker community. The aircraft is built around the gun and once it is removed, it has some serious weight and balance issues. If you add ballast to solve the weight and balance issues, you compromise available load carrying ability. The aircraft is an excellent aircraft for its intended purpose…….but perhaps not an air tanker.

Other than the DC-10 and B-747, there are other large potential air tankers on the horizon. The answer though is a mix of resources, fixed and rotary. No one aircraft is the answer. I may be biased, but in my opinion, if you want a good initial attack tanker, it is hard to beat the CDF S2T!!


9/21 Ab,

I am wondering why I have seen in various camps in California, bladder bags dispensing potable water to the kitchen, shower, and sink units. What is alarming to me is the fact these bags are not licensed by the State of California Food and Drug Branch. I believe the majority of the sink units are not licensed except for one that I saw.

I have not seen any license or sticker on the showers or kitchens. Most of the potable trucks I have seen had current stickers but appear to have non food grade pumps. It would be interesting to see the documentation that says the pumps are food grade.

Most units, if not all that have been licensed usually ARE NOT reinspected, the contractor is required each year to send in a certification that the unit has not been altered and is in the same condition as the original inspection along with a new application for a water hauler license.

According to DHS 8605 after the unit is licensed in addition to the documentation that all components are food grade the following is required:

Monthly testing for Coliform including E-coli bacteria along with a Monthly Sanitizing process with the results forwarded to the State Food and Drug Branch and the County Health Department where the Equipment is located. (The lab usually forwards to the County.)

Record Keeping to be kept on board vehicle: Dates of cleaning and sanitation procedures, Description of process used (cleaning agents, contact time and concentration of cleaning agent).

Water sources used, dates, gallonage, and name of person who authorized/directed use of source.

Delivery points, dates, volumes delivered.

Copies of agreements, contracts, license, etc.

Test results of bacterial analysis.

These are the most critical requirements and procedures. There are other requirements. I ask the question who is checking and where are those records being kept for all the Bladder bags laying on the ground, sink units, and potable trucks along with the kitchen and shower units for licensing, testing, sanitation, records, and procedures.

What is really puzzling is that a potable truck that is licensed, and may be following all requirements to the T, is required to put water in something that is neither licensed or follows any sanitization or record keeping process, yet, is used almost exclusively.

I think most people know there are several strains of E-coli: some can make you not so sick, some can debilitate, and some could lead to a fatal illness. The other Coliform bacteria can make one sick as well. That in itself should demand a more through inspection of these units before they are used.

What defense could be offered if someone got sick requiring/directing a licensed, tested, sanitized, procedure following unit to put water in a non licensed, non tested, non sanitized, non procedure following unit for the purpose of dispensing potable water? Might be hard to explain. My thought is, use only licensed units.

On another subject. The washing of potable units for weed control with reclaimed or effluent water has to stop. The contaminated water splashes on the entire unit. At these weed wash stations there is no clean water rinse.

The operator gets the contaminated residue on him/her off of every part of the unit touched and potentially could contaminate the water. Maybe send them to a car wash that has a clear water source, wash them with another potable unit, or don’t wash them at all.

In addition every vehicle that goes through these washes has contaminated residue on them. So every driver/operator gets the residue on them.

The filters won’t stop bacteria just seeds.

I think we need to pay attention to all aspects of the emergency. Why risk some ones health unnecessarily?


9/20 I can't access the Little Venus Entrapment report as
linked on TheySaid. Is this because I'm not on an
agency computer?

If so, is there any way that I could get my hands on a
copy? I'm no longer involved in fire, but still like
to mull over lessons learned.



I'm pretty sure the FS server is down today. It's not you. I put it here. Ab.
9/20 Thanks!

9/20 Chris,

Nice to see you are interested in the shot program. The problem you are
going to face is that if the guy you worked for was so uninterested in
training you to be anything above an FFT2 then you won't have much to prove
what your skills are vs the hundreds/ thousands of other future shot folks
that will you will be competing against for a limited amount of vacancies.
My advise is to go to an agency district for a season so that you can get
documentation of your training/skills, etc. Then go after that shot job you
want. Not trying to rain on your parade but it may be easier for you to go
this route.

TC (another one)
9/20 Chris

Start here



Call the sup's. Don't complain too much about this season, let them know you
quit with most of the crew and leave it at that.

Ask them when and how to apply, and what they are looking for in a new hire.

Keep checking www.usajobs.opm.gov. Do a series search, 0455, 0462 if you
have a college degree in any natural resource or biology fields, also use 0401.

But call them. Once a month, once a week. 3-4 times over the winter.
Whatever feels right for the individual sup.


Take a look at our Jobs page, Federal Jobs by Series, top right, click the links for Series 462, 455 and 401 to begin to figure out how the opm job searches work. I don't update those pages several times a week fer nothin', but to help those new to the opm system. Ab.

9/20 Long time reader, first time posting,

Does anyone know if the military A-10 is still in prototype testing
as a viable air tanker or has it gone by the wayside? Thanks for
the website!

Firetraveler from long ago

Welcome. Ab.

9/20 Abs - regarding the Hot List Forum:

First, thanks for creating the site; it really fills and important niche in the wildfire community;
Second, thanks for your efforts at attempting to police it to insure it meets its intended purpose: we appreciate it!

Everyone out there is into the world of wildland fire, and we all are fully certified "info-junkies", but some of us don't know or care if someone hears a rumor about a smoke column showing up in "Backwater, Utah". Most would rather spend their time looking at real-time reports about real fire incidents, instead of playing the "20 questions" game about wildfires: "has anyone heard about a fire near.....?"

Abs - keep up the good work screening the site, and others - please consider the fact that there are hundreds if not thousands of your firefighters around the world that look to this site for info, not questions! Be safe, ask questions, but in the right forum!


We do our best. Ab.

9/20 What a gripping tale: the Little Venus Entrapment.

I stayed up late reading it, couldn't put it down.

Thanks for everyone's work on sharing that.
Sorry for the pain.
Glad everyone survived it.
So very sorry Monica died in the separate helicopter crash incident.


9/20 Hi all

I spent the summer on a type 2 IA crew and found that I really like busting my balls working long shifts in the middle of nowhere. So I'd like to continue this and get on a hotshot crew next summer. I have a small problem though. I (and 3/4 of the crew) finally became fed up with the crew owner's BS, lack of communication, and greed-- and quit... nastily. I'm not the kind of person to burn bridges, but I've never had an employer who made me doubt the sanity, safety and legality of his actions daily. So, while I've got some pretty good experience, I've got no reference for this job.

He's also the kind of man that saw no need to train people past what he needed them to be, therefore I'm just a FFT2 with no saw experience or anything. I'm sure I can find some saw training by next summer, and take a few more classes from a local fire dept, though.

Basically, I really can't seem to find anything online that states clearly the qualifications needed to get on a crew. I'd appreciate any recommendations anyone could give, and if I could get by with a reference from maybe a squad boss (the owner called himself the crew boss- but didn't do any work...) I'm 20 and have several years of experience as a laborer, if that helps. Thanks for anything.

9/19 ab,

i just finished reading the little venus entrapment. make sure "they said" readers realize
that one of the little venus entrapment survivors was one of the victims of the helicopter
crash on the payette. too, too sad . . . . .

that report is a "must read" for all of us all the way up and down the line . . .


Very sad. Ab.

9/19 Regarding RI's Request for information.

As far as I know, In central California there are a plethora of helitack crews. As far as I know, the aircraft on the El Dorado is the only forest service helicopter to use the R.A.D.S. program. If there are other crews who utlize the R.A.D.S. program, I am ignorant to that fact.

As for rappel crews, you are going to find that there are a few out there. I have been told that the Helitack base in Yosemite has a Rappel Program, as well as the Chester Flight Crew (Near Chico). As you can see, Firenorm really likes AG's flight crew and they are a great crew. There is also a base outside Quincy CA that utilizes the rappel program. There is also the Klamath Helitack crew. They are also using rappelling if memory serves me right.

Another option if it is rappelling that you are looking at, is to look at other regions and set up a detail. Region 6 has what has been considered the best Rappel Program out there (just hear me out before anyone starts typing like mad to respond and tell me I am wrong). They have an academy where every rappeller in the region attends at a centralized location and all of the veterans do their requalifying rappels and all of the rookies are set through a standardized training course to learn all of the basics of heli rappelling. This ensures that everyone knows the same thing and it also allows (once the season gets into swing) for the bases to basically be interchangeable. All of the rappellers are capable of being called out the Boost a base as needed. All it takes is a phone call, and a resource order and any rappeller in the region can be on their way pretty quick. The receiving base then gets the booster situated and briefed both on the base but on the aircraft as well and then the booster fills in as needed on the crew and is basically a part of the crew for as long as the boost continues.

There are also region 1 and region 4 who have rappel crews including but not limited to the Moyer Helitack crew, and the crews on the Salmon Challis NF.

If you are interested, I am sure that persons from these areas would be willing to chime in and sell their program. Staying in region 5 is fine but taking a detail to another region would allow you to boost your fire knowledge as well as see how other places work.

I am sure that everyone out there has an opinion and I would love to hear what you have to say on the topic as I am sure that RI would like as much info as he or she can get in order to make a decision and try to have some control over their career.


season is almost over (I think)
9/19 Ab, please post:

NTSB Initial Report on CDF AA410 Accident


9/19 Ab

AA 330 just told MVU that he was "off of Ramona in route to <static> ETA 2 hours,
National flight following".

Where might he be going?


9/19 Pinnacles Fire BDF

The fire is about 1000 acres, with voluntary evacs in place for the North east portion of apple valley. The point of origin at grass valley rd. c/o hwy 173. The last update was at 1630 hrs. waiting for further but it sounds like a real mess.

Socal Fireman

What? Did you loose yer hot list password again??? Or is it that you just felt you had to tag a comment on the end??? (tongue deeply in cheek) Or do you want others to come to the Hot List to play??? Ab.

9/19 Ab

You know I know better than put a question on the Hot List Forum.
Glad you made the point though. Maybe some others will get the picture.

Actually the ST was pulling into the Boll Weevil Restaurant in Ramona for lunch and they were creating a traffic jam doing it; just like every ST I have seen, over the years pulling in there, does. There is parking for about 20 engines there, except you turn left at the driveway for the parking, none to the right. but a couple always go right and the traffic jam begins.

Got my answer, thanks.


To all federal wildland firefighters:

You DO Have A Voice & it Works

Parents Get Active Too

Central California Valley Congressman Devin Nunes has finally signed on as a cosponsor to HR 408, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act. After "pulling teeth" with staff from that office, FWFSA Business Manager Casey Judd sought help from members of the FWFSA in Nunes' district to contact the staff.

Said Damon Nelson, Legislative Director for the Congressman, " We clearly understand and appreciate the role the FWFSA plays in educating Congress on these issues. However regardless of the merits of any legislative initiative, it is imperative that members of Congress hear from their constituents on the issues."

"This co-sponsorship is a direct result of our firefighters exercising their voice on the issues that face our federal wildland firefighters," Judd said today.

Other voices continue to be pro-active as well. A Mother of a federal wildland firefighter in Colorado recently contacted the FWFSA to indicate she would be present at a community forum with none other than Mark Rey, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources & the Environment. With the assistance of the FWFSA, the "Colorado Mom" as she called herself, posed some serious questions to Mr. Rey.

These are but two examples of how important it is for our federal wildland firefighters to know that they do have a voice in their future. FWFSA members are encouraged to access the Members Area on the website's home page to learn whom they can contact on Capitol Hill to have their voices heard.

9/19 SoCal CDF

That pilot said he got caught in a downdraft and had to dump his
load. It wasn't a planned drop. He was very low. Lucky...


9/19 Re Request for logistical information

There are, I think, TWO MMU strike teams "driving around San Diego". One of
them was sent to Prado Staging Saturday evening, I think the other one went
down on Sunday. Since the 2003 siege the planners are quicker to preposition
assets in SoCal whenever there's appropriate wind/humidity conditions.

-MMU medic

9/19 Ab

Report is out on the Little Venus entrapment. It is a large file because of the
graphics, but the pictures are worth the wait.

www.fs.fed.us/r2/fire2/report/PeerReview.pdf (7,648 K pdf file)


Thanks 6. Just glanced through it. The pictures are bone chilling. Glad they survived. Ab.

9/19 Kantons Death

It is a shame that not only did a firefighter die, but now the Riverside County D.A. office decides to file charges against the engineer in relation to his death. I am very upset with CDF and D.A. office. The only thing that would be positive as a result of this horrific unjust findings would be that CDF actually might have checks and balances as a result. If this goes to trial as many of you already know, everything is pulled out such as training records, how long you have driven that apparatus, maintenance, were you properly trained on the braking application of this particular engine, work to rest ratio, how many different pieces of equipment do you have like this, is everyone trained the same, etc. I really don't think that CDF has really given it thought because not only were they not in charge of the investigation, but another agency submitted the evidence and a separate agency filed the charges.

My thoughts are with that engineer who I know personally. I hope that a jury sympathizes and looks at the evidence. For the those who work for the D.A's office, not only are you a disgrace to public service but oxygen thiefs who are stealing our oxygen! The D.A's office can't even lock the right people up; what makes us think that they could lock up a good person. We're both public servants, but the difference between us and them is that we require 100% accuracy and the D.A's office requires about 50%. Honestly, when you think about it, if we screw up people could die including one of our fellow firefighters. The D.A. screws up, oh well he/she will just get out and do it again anyway or hey lets put sex offenders across the street from schools . Apples and Oranges ! Anyway just vented and have a nice day .

SoCal Fireman

I hear your frustration SoCal Fireman. Hopefully Mike's defense will bring to light to all aspects of the accident.

9/19 That SEAT that made the very low drop on the Orchard Fire - anyone
know if it got a Safecom? Film clip was on the evening news two days


9/19 Note from the Abs regarding info submitted to the Hot List:

Participants, please try to restrict it to breaking fire information... I removed the South Ops section.

In the near future we're working on a multi-thread forum to replace the current Hot List format so that ALL breaking fire information needs are met. However, we do not want to make the change in the middle of fire season. You all know the current system. It is heavily used by firefighters and fire managers to find current info on breaking incidents and resources. We ask that the focus of the Hot List continue to be on breaking news on fires.

We will accommodate all as soon as the season is over. It's clear there is a need for sharing other kinds of breaking fire info as well. We expect that with a multi-thread forum we'll be able to accommodate those needs. People will be able to choose what they read.

9/19 Request for logistical information

Ab and all

Anyone know why there was a MMU engine strike team from Merced County driving around San Diego County this AM?

Propositioned for cover?


Haw Haw, It's good you didn't put that on the hot list forum. (tongue in cheek) Ab.

9/19 Re: Hot-List Forum Posts

Over on the hotlist side, see what the Abs edit out. That will tell you what is supposed to be there.


9/19 Re: Hot-List Forum Posts
The poster took his gripes to theysaid, for which the Abs thank him.

With regards to the HOT LIST FORUM. I read it to get valuable information on the activity of a major or developing wildland fire. Not what team is going to manage which division of the fire. Who Cares! Is Team 5 going to put the fire out quicker than Team 6....No! Are Team's strategy and tactics so different....NO!

All I said, was to take the information on who is going to manage a fire, abstract facts, and all other foolish information to the 'They Said' part of this website. I am not the only person on this website that feels that there is mis-use of the Hot List Forum. Telling others some outlandish fact that the fire is burning 3,000 acres a hour is absurd!

Specific Fire Information, current fire information, and information that is valuable to Fire Personnel and Citizens alike!

Thank you.

Additionally, for reference, this is, hopefully, the last post regarding this issue from me or anyone else that finds the misuse and misinformation on the Hot List Forum unacceptable.

I will make my issues known on the "They Said" part of this valuable Web-Site

Mr. G
Career Firefighter Northern California

9/19 With regard to the militia:

Let's not forget the fact that ADs make up an incredibly important component of the militia as it exists right now. There are thousands of years of retired AD experience out there that is untapped right now. Why? We are mostly not available for the simple reason that we have not been treated or compensated properly for the past few years.

You folks on the Day Fire stay safe! I wish I could be there with you.

9/19 Ab,

Speaking of GSA.... but sort of off-pants topic.... I heard today that Stihl no longer has chainsaws on the GSA contract. I was also told that most local dealers would give a 20% discount to government customers, if you ask for it. I suppose if that's true, the Husky dealer down the street would probably match the deal.

It will be interesting to see how this changes the wildland saw market.

vfd cap'n
9/19 Hi RI,

I saw your posting and have some info. I am a former helitack firefighter from the Plumas National Forest in Northern California.

You wanted to know about helicopters in Central California? Well There are several, The best is the Arroyo Granda Helishot Crew. They are located near San Luis Obispo. Like I said they are Helishots, they rappel in two squads of about 10 firefighters each squad. They use an type one helicopter with a 750 gal. bucket. They are the best. They are part of the Los Padres National Forest. The Los Padres also has another helishot crew using a type 2 ship, a Huey 205 I think, but I forgot where they are. There is also a type 3 ship over in Chuchupae near I-5.

Now if you want state aircraft up in San Jose, CDF has a helicopter at Alma Helitack -- Copter 106. I was on that ship too for a season. I hope this answers your questions. I you need more info post another article on wildfire and I will find you.

Good Luck.


9/19 DS,

Tried to order the Lions pants... got told they weren't approved for purchase by the FS unless it was on a personal credit card and NOT a government issued PCMS card or uniform authorization approval. They know the rules of the agency they are providing uniforms to, and don't want to jeopardize their contract.

I personally don't need those pants, I drive around all day and work in an office, and I haven't hiked a hill in three years. The NFES pants work fine for me. I do listen to the firefighters below me that I supervise, who I am responsible to protect and provide the best level of leadership, management, and supervision to.

When one of the many leaders who work for me comes forward with a problem, I act upon it. Many of the folks who work with me are true leaders and could teach us all a thing or two........ They are being taught leadership principles through the Leadership Development Program that many of us "older" folks were never indoctrinated to.

I'd follow the steps outlined in current policy though, until "Commanders Intent" becomes institutionalized and well recognized in all levels of the land management agencies. If you are an "emergent leader", or a current leader who doesn't understand the implications or policy or direction, beware of the advice or direction you give to others on the purchase of "fire pants".

9/19 i am a apprentice in region 5 and am located on a forest without a helicopter crew. i am searching for a crew in central cal and was wondering if anyone had any info on a good crew. i would like a rapelling or fastrope crew but that is not necessary. please e mail me with any info. location, etc. at ratsinfo@juno.com


9/18 Ab,

Something about this quote from the 9/16/06 AP article on competitive sourcing:

"It's a myth those folks are out on fire lines all the time," (Jacqueline) Myers told The Associated Press. "If we have more fires, we hire more temps and contractors. We don't send everyday Forest Service employees out to do that stuff."

Talk about a one dimensional line of thought.
On my ranger district there are 25 non fire related personnel. Of these, 22 have fire qualifications.

Qualified Unit Leaders ( Facilities, Food, Ground Supp., Supply, Resource) : 6
Qualified General Staff ( Planning, Logistics ) : 3
Type 1 Incident Management Team Members: 2
Type 2 Incident Management Team Members: 3
Type 2 Command Staff ( Information ): 1
Buying Team Member: 1
BAER Team Members: 4

This doesn't include the branch director, drivers, security, personnel time recorders, status check-in, etc.

This breakdown is from just one ranger district on a southern California forest.

We can't manage fires without these folks. If you outsource their day job, we all lose.


Thanks Sting, how true. Ab.

9/18 Re nomex pants issue:


You are correct. It isn't illegal, but if you work for the Forest Service, it is against policy unless it is documented by an appropriate JHA and approved in writing by a Line Officer as to the need. Having a GSA Contract # means nothing more than they (the vendor) has contacted GSA to register their product. Being on a GSA Contract doesn't infer approval for purchase until mandatory sources such as JWOD, JSTOR, or Agency Direction has been met in the approval process.

You better ask around with some fire management folks of a higher level before you put yourself or others at risk financially by not knowing all the information on current policy and direction.

There is a very specific (national) letter that says that the Forest Service Cache (NFES) pants will be the only pants purchased. The letter also states that if you purchase pants, even those that are on GSA contract without proper approval, you can be held financially responsible. The letter also said that this was the case regarding pre-suppression purchases made with WFPR or other project funds. The letter also said that any pants that were NFPA approved could be worn if the users decided to purchase them at their cost.

The only way around this policy (direction) is through proper documentation such as I have stated and provided, that meets agency direction on the purchase of PPE. Being on a GSA or Federal Supply Schedule doesn't mean you have a green light to purchase something against stated or directed policy unless there is a loop hole that allows line officers and supervisors to approve, such as in the JHA process.

DS, if you want, proceed at your own risk... not at the risk of others who may think it is OK.... The process has been described on how to properly purchase non-FS cache system supplied items.

There will be lots of "bean counters" and auditors out there in the next year looking at the WFPR and WFSU expenditures of FY 2006. Good luck on your idea.

sign me... Really Tired Now

9/18 Forest Service retirees speak (below)...... I for one liked the $10.25 per gallon powdered iced tea that Four Stars Catering provided.....(tongue in cheek)..... They are Tom Cruise's catering company, so they can't be all bad... they must be Top Gun?

Don't forget the LARGE costs for invasive weed control..... On some fires, the costs for a water tender and gray water tank and containment basin..... with the sole mission of washing vehicles nearly exceeded the aircraft costs... In some cases, exceeding $250,000 for washing vehicles....... hmmm, no wonder why Congress is questioning large fire costs.


Spending on firefighting nears record
Forest Service pays an average of $12 million per day to combat blazes, while prevention program budgets lag far behind
By Tom Knudson

SACRAMENTO - Four years after the most expensive fire season in history and two years after an exhaustive federal report on high firefighting costs, the U.S. Forest Service still is burning through dollars like wildfire through chaparral.

Last month, tax dollars flew out the agency's door at an average of $12 million a day -- $500,000 an hour. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, $1,250 more will be spent.

This week, if current patterns hold, 2006 will become the most costly year ever, exceeding the $1.27 billion spent in 2002.

The pace of the spending, which has drawn the concern of Congress and the White House Office of Management and Budget, threatens to siphon money from other programs, among them reforestation efforts designed to help the land heal from fire.

The cost has been aggravated by the nature of this year's fire season, which began early and so far has crackled across a record 8.8 million acres -- including 145,000 acres burning in California on Saturday. But that's hardly the only reason for the soaring tab. Others include:
  • A blank-check budgeting process that prompts Forest Service managers to throw money at fires but neglect the thinning projects that reduce their size, ferocity and cost. "There are no effective incentives" to corral costs, says an internal Forest Service memo obtained by the Sacramento Bee.
  • The growing use of contract air tankers, as well as industrial-type helicopters that can cost $30,000 a day or more, to replace air tankers grounded after fatal crashes in 2002. "They are absolutely incredible machines," said Joe Stutler, a retired Forest Service firefighter and commander. "But when you have a helicopter that costs $8,000 an hour, and you're flying it 12 hours a day, you do the math. We've got over a hundred of those in the system right now."
  • Intervention by members of Congress with no firefighting experience who demand aerial water and retardant drops that aren't needed -- just to satisfy frazzled constituents.

It's like me trying to help a brain surgeon," said Mike Edrington, a retired Forest Service fire and aviation manager who said he was pressured by California congressional representatives to call out the military on San Diego County wildfires in 2003.

Edrington resisted. "I'm frustrated because we spend a lot of energy trying to deal with that instead of focusing on fire," he said.

Other factors kindle costs, too, none more key than ... click link above to read the rest...

9/18 Hi Ab.

I haven't written for quite some time, but still follow the postings. For DS, and to help keep the forum going , I say:


I for one still wear the yellow FSS line gear...... I like it, and find it quite functional. I haven't tried the newer blue stuff, but as my "yellow" is getting quite frayed, it may be my next option. I see a lot of pretty fancy low slung butt huggin packs out there, but, I like the option of removing the day pack, suspenders and only going with the belt , shelter and canteens. Maybe I'm just a basic woosey type guy, but the price is right for me.. and it works.

sign me happy with the stuff.

9/18 The 2007 Hiring Bulletin for Firefighter 1 (Seasonal) has been posted on the CDF website.

The filing period is Nov. 1, 2006 through January 31, 2007.

www.fire.ca.gov/php/careers_content/downloads/07ff1_bul.pdf (pdf file)
9/18 Message from the Chief

Chief's Memo - September 18, 2006
Chief Ruben Grijalva

CDF Pays Tribute to Fallen Firefighters in Tulare Unit

On behalf of Unit Chief, Ed Wristen, I want to thank all of the CDF personnel, USFS personnel, Tulare County Fire, other local government police and fire agencies, and so many others that helped the CDF Tulare Unit during a very difficult week. The Critical Incident Stress Management team did an extraordinary job. My personal gratitude and that of our entire department goes out to them as they took care of so many people that were hurting from this loss.

As I had breakfast with Chief Wristen the morning after the second day of memorial services for BC Rob Stone and Pilot Sandy Willett, mere words could not explain the level of gratitude that he felt for the assistance the Tulare Unit received from so many people. From covering fire stations, to traffic control during the memorial processions, to working with the media, so many dedicated professionals showed how CDF and our friends cared for the fallen firefighters and their families.

I was inspired by the leadership, compassion, and professionalism of Chief Wristen as he led the CDF Tulare Unit through a very difficult time in their history, as well all of the CDF family. His entire staff was remarkable as everyone pitched in to make the tribute to Rob and Sandy a memorable and distinguished honor that their families will have in their hearts for years to come.

CDF Firefighters' Honor Guard and the CDF Pipes and Drums Band were simply amazing as they honored their fallen brothers, as only they can. In 99-degree plus temperatures, they marched and played magnificently, bringing tears to the eyes of those attending the memorial ceremonies with the sounds of old traditional bagpipe songs such as "Amazing Grace."

I must also commend Southern Region Chief, Candace Gregory, and Southern Assistant Region Chief, Chuck Maner, for the manner in which they coordinated multiple events associated with this tragic incident; including the fire suppression, rescue mission, fire investigation, crash investigation, and the two memorial services. Additionally, Chief Gregory approved Chief Wristen's request to allow all equipment in the Tulare Unit to be decorated with a decal for one year that honors Rob Stone and Sandy Willett's ultimate sacrifice.

In addition, I have requested, and the Board of Forestry (BOF) has approved, the naming of two trees in the Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest in memory of Rob Stone and Sandy Willett. Board Chairman, Stan Dixon, directed BOF staff to work with us to accomplish the wishes of the Tulare Unit.

It was a difficult week for everyone involved, but I am proud of the way we pulled together and properly honored our fallen firefighters, and their families. But, my hope is that this is something we do not get proficient at doing.


Ruben Grijalva, Chief
Director / State Fire Marshal
9/18 OK Ab,

Here are the facts regarding the nomex pants issue so we can put it to rest. First off if anyone has issue with going to private industry to buy supplies when FSS offers an alternative take a look at your gear and see what you have on your back that is private and not FSS. I don't think I know of anyone who wears the FSS yellow packs besides inmates. Eagle and Ruffian wouldn't be in business if we did. However, now that FSS has upgraded their packs I suggest you try them before going private anymore. These new packs (the blue ones) are very good. Now back to the pants. The pants the first person who started this issue was referring to were the Crew Boss pants from National Firefighter. These pants are, I repeat, are, on GSA contract. When you call to order give them your GSA account activity code and you will get the GSA price. No need to create a JHA that makes it seem like the FSS pants aren't sufficient. They just don't last, are uncomfortable and get burn scars too easily. For USDA employees, Lion Apparel offers an exact replica of the Crew Boss pants from National complete with reinforced crotch for about half the price. These are also on GSA contract. Call the regular number for ordering uniforms, tell them you are purchasing non-uniform apparel with a Gov. Visa and they will transfer you. Nothing illegal, no fake JHAs, these are better pants, more comfortable, last longer and are just slightly more expensive than the FSS pants AND on GSA contract.


9/18 Dear Gizmo:

The project coordinator off the Trabuco RD that I spoke with 2 years ago
about funding is now gone. I have put a call into her replacement and as
soon as I hear what the status is, unless someone does it sooner, I'll get
something posted.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/18 This  update on our 2 injured firefighters from the Mudd Fire has come in from several sources:

Chris Fry is recovering well from his third skin graft surgery which was completed late last week. Additional reconstruction surgery will still be needed on his elbows, but for now, Chris was feeling well enough to visit his BLM Chimney Peak fire station today to pick up some things, and seemed to be in good spirits.

Austin Berrigan's third skin graft surgery was completed successfully yesterday. He was released from the hospital today, and is already back home recuperating. His mother told me today that providing these new grafts are successful, additional surgery will not be needed. On the way back from Sherman Oaks, they passed by the Day fire on I-5, and Austin said he wished he was out there.

9/18 Nomexfiller,

I think you’re absolutely right. Just to be straight, it is not our
position, nor do I think it’s anyone’s, that we lock out contract
firefighters and try to go it alone. What we’re against is top-down quotas
from the Kremlin – oh, excuse me, the White House – that force binding
outsourcing studies on agencies regardless of what the real needs of the
organization are.

Plans are to study 2/3 of the Forest Service workforce for outsourcing over
the next three years. Wonder how things will work if they carry through on
those plans? For folks interested in where their job is on the outsourcing
schedule, you can check it out at
www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/CSIndex/CSIndex.phpl, under “specific
listing of jobs for the auction block.”

Mark Davis, Co-Chairman
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
9/18 Just came in over the CNN Wire, not sure what it is, but coming
from Bezerkely, I'm sure it's worth the posting.



Scrolling stuff makes me crosseyed, but otherwise some good info for homeowners. Ab.

9/18 Ab,

Hope you'll put this in for me. Just a few thoughts for everyone to chew on.

As for the militia, not only do I put in my 40 a week at the regular job during fire season, but then I'm called upon to put in another however many hours when things get burning. I like the work. I like the people. I wouldn't do it if I didn't. The way it works here, we NEED our militia.

On the topic of contractors, everyone needs to take a step back and be on the same side for once. I've noticed more and more that agencies are "sitting" on resources for many reasons: targets, "in case", burn prep, you name it. "Militia" and permanent fire are finding it tough in some areas to get the training that they need. Budgets are shrinking, but the fires aren't.

Unless I'm mistaken, there are not enough agency-owned ships to man all the fires that we've had. Again, unless I'm mistaken, there are not enough agency engines out there either. And again, unless I'm mistaken, there are not enough agency hand crews out there to go around. Especially, Type 1s. (I watch the UTFs, apparently, so should other people.)

Whether anyone likes it or not, there are not enough firefighters to go around inside the agencies. It's called downsizing. Maybe you've heard of it? LOL

I have friends on IHCs and contract crews. I've learned alot from both. So, put away all the macho of "we can handle it without you", and you might just find that we're all working for the same result.

Just my 2 cents.

Hope everyone finishes out their year safe and enjoys a well-deserved break. It's been a long one.

Long time lurker, first time writer.


Welcome Nomexfiller, I like your clever moniker. Ab.

9/18 Question on the Hot List Forum regarding the Day Fire:

What are the current, if any, outstanding resource requests still out there for these fires? Is there a website to view any South Ops or North Ops resource orders?


This is info related to a question on the Hot List Forum. If you are interested in specific fire information, go to the South Ops web page (under links), and under Intelligence, look at the Daily Situation Report. It will be dated the day prior. On the 209 from the DAY FIRE, critical resource needs are:
1- 10 Type 3 Engine Strike Teams
2- 8 DIVS; 5 OPBD
3- 5 SOFR

Hope this helps all of the folks inquiring about outstanding orders.

Be safe out there....


Thanks Firechic for writing in. Ab.

9/18 From a number of sources:


Firefighters mourn
By Danielle Seckler

BIG BEAR LAKE  -  BDU Chief Tm O’Keefe and County Fire Chief John R. Hawkins of the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection in Riverside announced that City of Temecula Fire Marshal Steve Faris died on Saturday, Sept. 16th, at approximately 2:00 p.m. While off duty, Fire Marshall Faris was traveling in his Ford Explorer, eastbound on the I-10, near Mt. Vernon in the City of Colton, and apparently an accident occurred, killing Faris.

Firefighters are a small community, which stretches across multiple fire agencies and counties. There will be sadness among them, while they mourn their fallen comrade. As it becomes known, further information on the incident will be updated here.

All of our hearts and prayers go out to Faris’ family, including his son John and his fiancée, Shirley.

We Abs know many of you knew and worked with Steve Faris and speak very highly of him. We offer our condolences and know he will be missed by all. Ab.

9/18 Aberdeen,

I have seen this quote several times. I don't know who the author is, but It may be helpful for you.

Remember: "To ignore the FACTS doesn't change the FACTS".

You said,

"As I view these comments, it's alot like folks comparing Dodge/Ford/Chevy pickup trucks: every one has an opinion on what's best, but can never offer firm, died-in-wool evidence that is irrefutable that shows that one is better than the other."

The FACT is that the pants that are being supplied by the FS Cache System are OK for a percentage of users while they are not OK for another percentage of users.

If the current pants don't meet the needs of some users for various reasons (durability, protection, comfort, etc...), it is not up to people outside of their shoes such as yourself, I, or the "bean counters" to say they should use a product inferior to their needs for both safety and efficiency.

From FSH 6709.11:

Section 05: "A JHA (Form FS-6700-7 or equivalent) results in a document that outlines special procedural and personal protective equipment/clothing (PPE) requirements, qualifications, training, safety practices, and emergency evacuation procedures. A JHA is designed for some flexibility. "

"Line officers, supervisors, and employees may utilize the JHA to justify specific PPE needs or variances for a particular work project or activity."

sign me again / Tired

P.S. - The military did alot of research and development into the design of the BDU style pants to make sure they were durable, offered protection, were comfortable to wear, and were cost effective. How come the Forest Service didn't do the same when they tried to "copy the military style" and some how only produced a pair of tight fitting "Wrangler" like pants with pockets on the side?

9/18 Ab, I've wondered about why signs haven't been followed up on for that stretch of "firefighter highway". It would be good PR for the public and for some of us it would lift our heart.

SoCal F/F

CDF Statement on the death of Chris Kanton.

www.rvcfire.org/opencms/home/Statement_8-2006.pdf (pdf file)

ACR 162: CDF Firefighter Chris KantonMemorial Highway.
This measure would designate the portion of State Highway Route 10
from the Beaumont Avenue/Highway Route 79 exit to the Sunset Avenue
Exit, in the County of Riverside, as the CDF Firefighter Chris Kanton
Memorial Highway. The measure would also request the Department of
Transportation to determine the cost of appropriate signs showing
this special designation, and upon receiving donations from nonstate
sources covering that cost, to erect those signs.

9/17 NorCalTom's/Lobo posts are very well said.

Our R-5 Acting FFAM Director has done a decent job of laying out Commanders Intent. He has demonstrated his knowledge of a militaristic organization and the principals of leadership. His direction and guidance are important, and the measurement of it's impact will take time to develop, because something is missing?

I've listened and read all I need to about Commanders Intent. I now need my Acting FFAM Director to address "Director Intent".

The average Module Leader and his or her Crewmembers are more concerned about the Director's Intent than his Commanders Intent paper. When our commander has demobed us, and the day is done, we go home to our families. Fresh in our minds is the daily concerns about the fire budget, outsourcing and expansion of contracting firefighting crews and the organization and profession we've chosen.

It's time for the Director to be a Director, instead of being a Commander. The previous R-5 FFAM Director came to work everyday mission focused on; "We shall maintain the MEL build up of 2001 and we shall not reduce one boot in this region. We are here for the boots and because of the boots....PERIOD" (Can't you picture him saying that? It's true, I only wish every boot could have been there when he said it, it was masterful, it was one of those moments). He wasn't perfect (none of us are) but he was a Director we respected and remain proud of still today. He was a Director for the average Firefighter, he was our Director!

The average Boot has a family, a spouse, kids and worries about reductions in force, losing a job, buying a home and the ability to afford retirement. My question to the Director is when will the briefing paper come out called "Directors Intent" addressing the following questions:
  • Does the Director intend to direct his staff to develop ideas and strategies to stop any reductions of firefighting resources?
  • Is the Director committed to do all he can to fix the out of control hiring process and associated problems with hiring in this region? Mr. Director, your Boots are missing opportunities to promote as leaders because they didn't click one stupid box in Avue! Or the 30 day outreach process turned into a 90 days because of inefficiency.
  • Does the Director intend to support the expansion of contracting resources in Region-5?
  • Will the Director take a stand, draw a line in the sand with the RF and his former WO counterparts when it comes fight any efforts to reduce firefighter capability.
  • Does the Director intend to "update" So Cal 462 Special Pay calculations to show support for the boots on the ground who live and work in an area where the cost-of-living is out of control. Does he intend to direct his staff to begin working with the 4 So Cal Forests for data gathering to meet OPM's Nov 1 deadline for Special Pay updates?
  • Will the Director maintain an open line of communications with officials from FWFSA?
  • Will the Director show some ability to communicate with the boots?
  • Does the Director intend to focus on those pocketbook issues so important to the average firefighter who are just trying to provide a good quality of life for his or her family.

We have the Commanders Intent letter, talking points and briefing paper. Thanks.

It's time to hear the "Directors Intent" for his Boots. As you continue your mission as our leader, remember Patton's 4th Armored Division stopped in its tracks as it was marching towards Germany and made a left turn north to the siege at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. He was successful only because of those 4th Armored Boots, and Patton new it. They believed in what they were doing, they were loyal and determined. The R-5 FFAM Directors success shall be measured by his Boots loyalty to this Service and this Region. A loyalty that can only be found from within, and not from a contractor who is focused annual profits, investor reaction and year end bonuses.


Waiting to hear from my new Director on his "intent" for this region!

9/17 Lots of breaking info on the Hot List Forum. Ab.
9/17 In 2002, the California Legislature enacted legislation naming State Route 74 between Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano as the "Wildland Firefighters Memorial Highway". To this date, I have not seen any signs on the highway depicting its name.

As part of that legislation,

"...the Department of Transportation is requested to determine the cost of appropriate plaques and markers, consistent with the signing requirements for the state highway system, showing the special designation and, upon receiving donations from nonstate sources covering that cost, to erect those plaques and markers;..."

Does anyone know if CalTrans ever determined the costs needed for proper signage so that volunteer groups can contribute both monetarily and with labor?

Additional Info:






9/17 Well another Fire Season is wrapping up in the Northwest Washington area
Region 6! This was a long one and I got 59 days on the fires so far with
the Type II Tender. The Snow sorta ended the Tripod Fire after 3 inches
fell on it up North near Canada. Sure was lots of equipment on that one
and over 3,000 miles drove in the back country. I hope every one will or
has had a safe season.

Region 6 Contract Tender


9/17 Every once in a while, I too get seriously "chaffed" about things in the world of wildland fire, like "Tired......" seems to be in her/his posting about fire trousers. My "chaffing", however, results from people using terms that they freely throw about without offering any basis of fact ("inferior", "worthless", "don't work", "cost effective", "smokejumper only pants").
As I view these comments, it's alot like folks comparing Dodge/Ford/Chevy pickup trucks: every one has an opinion on what's best, but can never offer firm, died-in-wool evidence that is irrefutable that shows that one is better than the other.

Opinions on fire pants and pickup trucks are just like <bellybuttons>: everyone has one!
Give me FACTS!


9/17 DC-10

I have no idea if its legal or not. I just know its been used this summer. lol

DC-10 dropping on a fire in Cali, and in Wa (columbia complex I believe), legal? I would assume so.


9/17 Ab,

Due to recent discussions about a different vehicle accident involving a California fire engine I felt that this might be of some interest to others.


One Is Dead After Car Hits Fire Engine
Four Firefighters Suffered Minor Injuries After Head-On Collision
September 17, 2006

LIVE OAKS, Calif. -- A head-on crash between a fire engine and a Buick sedan on Highway 99 at Encinal Road on Saturday left one man dead and four firefighters with minor injuries. The victim, a Live Oaks man, was in his mid-40's, California Highway Police said.

The fire crew told authorities that they was returning from a fire mission when the driver of the sedan going the opposite way drifted into the path of the engine.

The accident happened after 7 p.m. Traffic was diverted for more than two hours, starting at 8 p.m., and did not clear until after 10 p.m.

The firefighters, who were in an Office of Emergency Services engine, are based at the Linda Fire Department.

9/17 Lobotomy,

There is no language in AB1423 that has any mention of who will lead CDF as a Firefighter from the ranks or a resource person. You can check at www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/acsframeset2text.php

As you know the Director of CAL FIRE (maybe Chief of the Department someday) is a governor appointed position. For the last several years we have had the pleasure of having an experienced "Fire Chief" as our Director. I hope this trend continues for obvious reasons. Would we like to have a Firefighter that has come up through the ranks of the department as Director? Absolutely!! It hasn't been since Dick Ernest that this has happened, back in the 80's. Unfortunately that will be a big war with Sacramento power brokers. As of now our Union is taking on the small battles that they know they will have some reasonable amount of success in. Eventually we might get to the point of having language adopted to have a CDF Firefighter become Director. We are trying to lobby smartly.

You said,

The problem continued with CDF being under the Board of Forestry. The problems with program delivery didn't change, and people were injured and in some cases killed due to mission conflict.

Not sure what you meant here? We are still under the Resources agency and the board of forestry. Our mission will not change with the name change. We are however always looking to evolve in a way that better serves the taxpayers of California. As for fatalities attributed to mission conflict that might be a stretch.

I really hope that some day a "FED FIRE" organization can be developed. Bringing in those Federal agencies with fire protection missions together into one organization such as NPS, USFS, FWFS, BIA, etc. I believe as a FED FIRE organization you can lobby more effectively for better wages, benefits, etc. Get rid of this 16 hour crap and non portal to portal as well. However I think most politicians would much too afraid of dealing with a large FED FIRE agency. You would be too powerful an organization to manage. Too powerful a lobbying force to contend with. Maybe that's why they like a bunch of scattered Federal Fire agencies as they have you now. Maybe Im reading too much into the conspiracy theory.

CDF Jake

9/17 Senator Doolittle

Well he came, he saw, he flew... and he was again
reminded the ever so tough issues of doing the same
jobs as our non federal counterparts... but only being
paid up to a maximum 16 hour day. Hopefully he
remembers this as California begins to burn. Oh and
ya'll would have been disgusted at the amount of
"targets," that suddenly popped up for the helicopters
right before his flight. At least the media now knows
its "U.S. Forest Service."

NZ Helitack

9/17 CDF Jake,

I think there is something missing.

AB 1423 also has SOMETHING about WHO was in charge of the FIRE program within the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection that wasn't mentioned... and how the evolution has happened. Somehow, your post failed to mention, the Chief of Cal-Fire (aka CDF) will be a firefighter who worked their way up through the ranks of wildland firefighting before making fire management and safety decisions?

In the early years, when CDF meant.... California Division of Forestry, under the California Resources Agency, problems with safety and program delivery were identified with a key group of people seeking changes. The problem continued with CDF being under the Board of Forestry. The problems with program delivery didn't change, and people were injured and in some cases killed due to mission conflict.

Within a few years, CDF changed from the Division of Forestry to the Department of Forestry with additional leadership... it took a few more dam* good leaders to change it from the CDF to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. . and I am happy to know a few of them even though I am a fed fire person.

I am happy to know the folks who finally got the real and funded roles of CDF to be Cal-Fire....are helping the FS folks in Fire also look at the mission of FIRE PROGRAM DELIVERY IN THE 21st CENTURY.

Someday, there will be a FED-FIRE agency providing fire management services to federally protected lands....... Those Fed-Fire folks can concentrate on safety and efficiency of services without BS.. Fingers crossed.

9/17 Re: folks worrying about proper PPE (Pants) and the supposed "cost containment stuff" with superior vs. inferior gear.

There are several different vendors offering GSA approved wildland fire pants that meet both federal supply schedule (FSS) standards and NFPA requirements. These are available through both the GSA Advantage website and through purchase with vendors using the GSA Contract numbers. Current National Fire Cache items within the Forest Service are the lowest bid, and don't always meet the requirements of the mission.... and don't fall within the "best value" bid process that happens in other areas.

Current cost containment direction (policy) by "bean counters" in the Forest Service is to utilize the nationally supplied fire pants that are supplied through the Forest Service Cache system. The Cache System is MEANT TO SUPPORT on-going fires, not PROVIDE DIRECTION on the APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF SAFETY CLOTHING THAT IS MOST EFFECTIVE AND COST EFFICIENT FOR USE throughout the fire season by Line Officers and Fire Managers.

Those pants work for some, and those pants don't work for others. There is an option that some of you may want to know about.

If the NATIONAL FIRE CACHE pants don't work, you should get the purchase approved by your supervisor and Line Officer as a needed safety item, and can show the cost effectiveness of this item through either a 1) JHA, or 2) A well documented need, that is cost effective and saving the government money, then the battle is on if someone questions your purchase.

GSA and NFPA approved means just that.... they are available safety items for use when appropriate and approved per FS POLICY.

sign me / Tired of replacing worthless nomex pants... (and getting chaffed)

P.S - I liked the old "smokejumper only pants" of the past.....Very few people could get them.... ... Best value to the FF and the GOVT, and I still have a pair or two that are 30 years old that work just fine...(But WAS never a SMKJ personally, just learned from them).. wake up.
9/17 KD,

Last time I looked, the DC-10 was not approved by the Forest Service.

The Forest Service Policy (unless it has changed and was never forwarded to all aircraft users) was:

The aircraft COULD be used on Forest Service fires if it was ORDERED BY and PAID FOR by other cooperators or unified commanders IF THEIR JURISDICTIONS were threatened.

In California, it has only been used on Federal Land two times that I am aware of.... on the Sawmill Fire (CA-BDU) and Horse Fire (CA-CNF). On both occasions, the aircraft dropped on BLM land protected under an agreement with the State of California. I have also heard that it might have dropped up in the Monterey area, but I don't have first hand knowledge of that.

The Sawmill Fire was a CDF fire threatening both BLM and USFS lands. The Horse Fire was a Forest Service fire threatening both CDF and Forest Service lands. On both occasions, each fire had the potential to threaten communities and was a useful, but expensive tool that doesn't fit well with the "cost containment" and "fed only" stuff this year.

With new technologies coming around all the time, we need to know all the inputs for risk vs. gain. I asked some of the questions in my earlier post that the "bean counters" have been asking, but I am still just a ground pounder seeking answers and asking questions.

I'll cut to the chase and just give it up.... CDF has been more involved with the development of the DC-10 platform, and the Forest Service has been more involved in the development of the 747 platform. I hope it isn't a my airtanker is bigger than your airtanker thing? (tongue in cheek, I hope)

Lots of additional information on these two airtankers and soon, the BAE 146, will be needed so that fire managers can weigh risk vs. gain in our decision making process. Someday, we fire managers will aslo need to know the lessons learned on the effectiveness and best utilization of these aircraft to make decisions once they are approved.


If I recall correctly, the 747 (Boeing) approached R5 first back in 2002 at the San Diego Fire Meeting. I think the DC-10 platform development began later than that. Ab.

9/17 It's about #%*@# time that someone recognizes that the public gets double
bang for its buck when it comes to many Forest Service employees. The fire
organization gets excellent support from the militia. I'd love to see that
contract for outsourcing that says, "you'll do 40 hours a weeks of GIS
(planning, biology surveys, fill in the blank) and be on call all the rest of
the time to go out on fires."

Still Out There as an AD
9/16 CDF Jake;

I remember when Calif. Div. Of Highways changed to Cal Trans. They changed
logos as they ran out of the old ones. Now nobody can remember the old ones.
Just us real old guys.

Now its CAL FIRE Hmm.


9/16 Gotta love the press

Apparently even I have to be cognizant of what I say to the press and how
they put that on paper. I AM NOT the "HEAD" of the FWFSA. I am the
simple, humble servant of our members & Board of Directors. OK, Chief
Cook & Bottle Washer too...


Haw haw. Ab.

9/16 Yo SC-

When ol' Congressman Doolittle (what's in a name??) takes his flyby on Ralston today- take heed from a divs briefing given overlooking the Biscuit Fire a few years back...

"Due to the high number of political aircraft overhead today, and the current state of digital graphics- please use all of your fingers as you salute those overhead. Single digit 'you're numba one' actions will not only be photographed, they will be followed up on."

Everyone at DP 53 promptly taped over their names on their webgear...

Stay warm out there- central sierras got first snow yesterday...


9/16 From Firescribe:

Outsourcing threatens fire militia, groups say (WY)

A Bush administration study on whether some jobs and duties in the U.S. Forest Service could be done more efficiently by private contractors compromises the agency's in-house firefighting force, say groups representing federal employees.

Administration officials dispute the claim. But the question of whether "competitive sourcing" studies -- which determine whether nongovernment activities should be kept in-house or turned over to private firms -- undermine the "fire militia" has caught the attention of Congress. The Government Accountability Office earlier this year began an as-yet-uncompleted probe after a bipartisan group of senators asked if the outsourcing competition studies give enough consideration to the Forest Service's long-term ability to manage wildfires.

and further down...

Employees who leave their usual jobs and join fire teams are specially trained and certified to work in a firefighting environment. But the number of regular employees who are getting that special fire certification is dropping because of fewer incentives being offered by the agencies, said Casey Judd, head of the Idaho-based Federal Wildland Fire Service Association.

"They've failed to address recruitment and retention of the fire militia even though the Forest Service has relied on it for years," said Judd. "Rather than strengthening it, they now want to go out and hire private firefighters for three times the rate federal folks cost."

Dozens choose to evacuate along the Gunflint Trail (MN)

It's the first time the Gunflint Trail has been evacuated since officials developed plans to deal with major fires that were expected after the 1999 windstorm. New radio antennas and emergency plans have been put in place.

Cooler temperatures, humidity help crews fight Montana wildfire that forced evacuations

Firefighters and homeowners got cooler temperatures and hint of rain Friday to help douse a wildfire that has forced people out of homes and cabins.

'This is exactly what we need,' fire information officer Marq Webb said...

9/16 Congressman Doolittle has been a strong supporter of federal wildland firefighters since his entry into congress in the early 90's thanks to the efforts of the FWFSA which has developed a close personal & working relationship with him.

He may be out of touch with the mainstream on a number of issues but supporting wildland firefighters is not one of them. He has cosponsored each and every legislative effort on their behalf.

In fact, most of the Northern California congressional delegation including both Republicans & Democrats i.e. Herger, Thompson, Doolittle, Lungren, Woolsey, Pombo, Matsui, Tauscher, Lantos & Stark are cosponsors on HR 408, our portal to portal legislation.

If there are in fact questions that folks would like to get to the congressman, I'd be delighted to pass them along and get answers to you.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

You gonna catch him as he's flying over? Ab.

9/16 CAL-FIRE Legislation Signed by Governor

On Thursday, September 14th, our CAL-FIRE legislation (AB 1423) authored by Assemblyman Russ Bogh, was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

AB 1423 adds section 701.6 to the Public Resources Code, to read:

701.6(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, on and after January 1, 2007, the Department of Forestry & Fire Protection may be referred to, where appropriate and as determined by the director, as CAL-FIRE.

(b) No existing supplies, forms, insignias, signs, or logos shall be destroyed or changed as a result of the authorization to use CAL-FIRE where appropriate to refer to the department, and they shall continue to be used until exhausted or unserviceable.

This law will become effective on January 1, 2007, and marks a significant milestone in our efforts to be recognized as California's Fire Department.

This is a positive direction for our organization.

CDF Jake

That means it's still Calif. Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection but it can be referred to as Cal-Fire if the Director approves? Ab.

9/16 Ab,

A short story to illustrate the value of even a little
training. It may be the reason I'm here today.

Just about 40 years ago, I was a young Airman
stationed at one of California's most beautiful and
lonely spots, the now-defunct Point Arena Air Force
Station. The Major in charge of our small band of
radar and radio types decided we needed a fire
department and yours truly "volunteered" to attend a
fire apparatus seminar at the Sea Ranch horse barn
(still there on highway 1 today), put on by the state.
While in attendance, I chatted with wildland fire
folks who were there and soaked up some do's and

With my certificate now tacked to the barracks wall, I
was appointed Fire Chief of Point Arena Air Force
Station Volunteer Fire Department. We cranked our
ancient fire truck up and dragged our hoses around the
site and I became "Smokey" for the rest of my tour.

Soon, the Mendocino County mountains east of the site
erupted in a huge wildland fire. The state asked for
manpower from us and volunteers jammed into a bus and
set off for the fire. We were commanded by a
brand-new "Butter-Bar" (2nd Lt.), who shall forever be
named "Lt. Fuzz" in my memory. Long story short, we
were thrown into the battle, the wind changed and
suddenly we were in real danger. Lt. Fuzz shouted, in
the voice of a soprano opera singer, for us to run up
the hill to safety.

Everyone knows a Fire Chief outranks a 2nd Lt. so I
counter-manded that order and we flanked the danger,
into the black and were OK. Just the bit of
knowledge, passed on to me by the veteran wildland
firefighters, had become very valuable.

Be safe out there, folks.

Hotshot Dad

Good presence of mind to go along with what you'd been told. Ab.

9/16 From RBR:

Data problems surface in review of Forest Service contract savings

By Jenny Mandel
Newly revealed documents indicate independent reviewers were unable to substantiate savings from a public-private job competition that resulted in outsourcing of Forest Service fleet maintenance work in California.

But questions remain about the accuracy of the assessment, and an Agriculture Department official said an additional review is planned for next month. Observers say flaws in the review process support broader criticisms of how the contracting effort was managed.

The independent verification and validation report, produced for the Forest Service in May by Arlington, Va.-based Paradigm Technologies Inc., documents the company's attempts to obtain baseline data on agency performance of fleet maintenance, as well as cost data for a phase-in period and the first year of full contract operation. The data was meant to verify claims that the public-private competition resulted in savings of $1.61 million in fiscal 2005.

The fleet maintenance contract already has had its share of public scrutiny. When agency employees protested following the original award decision in January 2004, the Government Accountability Office found that under the rules of the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76, they had no legal standing to do so. The case ultimately helped prompt a rule change allowing designated agency officials to file protests on employees' behalf.

Then in May of this year, the contract with Serco Management Services Inc. was terminated due to performance problems. At that time, Jacqueline Myers, Forest Service associate deputy chief of business operations, said the cancellation would not affect competitive sourcing-related savings figures reported to OMB for fiscal 2005.

The validation report appears to cast doubt on the credibility of the reported savings figures, though.

For the first year of the contract, from June 2004 to June 2005, the total cost was reported but breakouts were not available for costs associated with personnel, materials, overhead and other categories, leading reviewers to conclude that the totals could not be substantiated. A key record, the standard competition form, also was never certified by agency officials, the auditors found.

"The [validation] team analysts attempted to perform analyses on the data; however, all efforts were futile," the report stated. The authors attributed the lack of data to poor responses from the California regional office in charge of the contract.

But the audit had much larger validity problems.

A California-based official, in a July response to the report on behalf of Regional Forester Bernard Weingardt, wrote that the cost information had been supplied as requested. In that response, obtained by Government Executive, the official highlighted a major problem in the analysis: The verification report described difficulty in verifying the cost of agency performance following the public-private competition, while the contract had in fact been performed by Serco, a private contractor.

Asked about the error, Joe Walsh, a Forest Service spokesman, directed questions to the office of the chief financial officer at the Agriculture Department, the Forest Service's parent agency. "This is really not something that we're tracking," Walsh said, because the report was prepared for the chief financial officer.

Agriculture Associate CFO Jon Holladay said the auditors' failure to obtain documentation stemmed from competitive sourcing staff turnover during the time the analysis was conducted.

After researching the auditors' erroneous understanding that an in-house team was performing the work, Holladay concluded the report was "a very early draft and was never finalized" because of the staff problems. But the document was not marked as a draft, and the regional forester's response indicated the understanding that the report had been issued formally.

Holladay said contract costs for the audit were $2,946, and that an additional review would be conducted in October.

Mark Davis, a leader with the National Federation of Federal Employees Forest Service Council Legislative Committee, said problems with the savings validation echoed wider problems with the agency's competitive sourcing process. "Not only is the program incompetently run, but their audits have big problems," he said.

"All aspects of this program smack of incompetence ...Word comes down that 'data' is needed for a report, and the regions scurry around on short time-frames to put together retrospective estimates," Davis said. "This stuff is clearly not verifiable."

9/15 In the spirit of play, tongue in cheek (and knowing Doolittle is a supporter of wildland firefighters):


How will the Congressman be flying over the fire tomorrow?
Will the flight impact fire suppression operations in any way?
On a Magic Carpet?
On a Broomstick?
Anti-Gravity belt?
In a US Government Aircraft?, If so what fire work is not being accomplished?
In a chartered Aircraft, if so who is paying for it?
In a CDF Aircraft, why; and will he be wearing NOMEX?



haw haw. Ab.

9/15 Folks,

Congressman Dolittle will be flying over the
Ralston fire tomorrow. Any questions that ya'll would
like to ask i'll try to do on your behalf. Thanks!!!


Do we need to get a big megaphone to you ASAP? (Tongue firmly in cheek.) Ab.

9/15 Everyone,

Just a reminder that any expenses that you make out of your own pocket can be deducted on your income tax, if you itemize. This should include, travel, medical, ie prescription safety glasses, training, and uniforms and equipment to include tents and sleeping bags. Every little bit helps come April 15.

The Old Man of the Dept

9/15 I was just spending some time on R&R catching up with everything here.

Pants: GSA's last a month to a month and a half for me before the crotch blows out, the pockets rip off, or the cuff is too burned and frayed to be suitable.

Kevlar pants offer superior protection to non-fire issues (things that sting, bite, etc), but very warm in the desert climates. Great for R-1 and R-6.

As for funding and purchasing superior equipment, budget into your own personal budget. Buy your own gear if you can't get you agency to get it for you. You can get what works for you and what fits: Packs, pants, shirts, safety glasses, etc. The lowest priced item (GSA mentality) may work for all some of the time, but won't work for everyone all of the time. When in real doubt, take your GSA pants to a tailor- nomex thread in hand-and have them make it fit you.


Be safe

9/15 Mellie, it is Allen Johnson's team and you're right about that being the Rush Fire. Todd
9/15 AL and Todd,

I just talked with Jack West up on the Klamath NF and that unnamed fire to the ESE of Cecilville is the Rush Fire, It's been contained for a month. Originally it was part of the Uncles Complex. He said it hasn't even shown a smoke during the current red flag wind event. Nonetheless for safety sake, that area is in the process of being closed down for hunting season.

Regarding the 800 acre spot on the BakeOven NE perimeter that happened during the wind event: I talked with Chuck Dickson at the Bar ICP and he says they're bringing in a Type 2 Team for the northeastern side of the BakeOven Fire. Fire spotted over the NE line into St Clair Creek drainage. That could potentially move it towards Cecilville when the winds shift tomorrow. The new team will work at protecting that community. (I'm not sure which team it is. Looking at the rotation, maybe it's Johnson's Central Sierra Team and South Ops just hasn't updated the website.)

Several people have asked about the long finger on the Pigeon Fire along the North Fork of the Trinity from Helena leading to Hobo Gulch. In the early days, the Pigeon Fire escaped containment to the NW (into the Manzanita Creek drainage) and to the NE near Helena. Hotshots burned out around Helena to protect structures. The fire continued to spot to the NE in steep country. When that happened in our steep country where it's hard to hook slopovers, each spot was connected back to the main fire. This then created a line of black prior to the wind event and has stood firefighters in good stead for the winds. No homes or structures have been lost and there has been only one small slop over along that northfork Trinity River corridor. It's pretty remarkable that the CIIM Team 1 has been able to mostly maintain fire containment during the last few days of wind. It has been really windy. Thanks, all.

OK, that's what I know. May the lines continue to hold as the winds shift again. There was snow in the high country and some rain in the canyons. Let's not get complacent, though. We need a lot more. A few days of drying and the fire could take off and run 5 miles in a day like it did in '99.

Be Safe.


And I have my padiwacker handy for any firefighter who fails to fasten a seat belt! This should be automatic behavior for all.

9/15 Reference the criminal charges against the CDF engine operator:

Where and when do we address the personal responsibility of the deceased firefighter who did not secure his own seat belt? This never seemed to be a "discretionary action" like the recent court ruling in Montana about the 10/18. The rules were plain and simple: YOU will have YOUR seat belt fastened when in the CDF vehicle.

There's an old saying that "to the survivors we owe our sympathies, but to the dead we owe the truth!".


9/15 Ab,

Here's a simple SOP for seatbelt use:

1. The driver will not release the parking brake until all vehicle occupants have fastened their seatbelts.

2. Vehicle occupants will not release their seatbelts until the driver has set the parking brake.

If firefighters could just be a little more accountable to each other, we wouldn't have to worry so much about being held accountable in the judicial system.

vfd cap'n

I know it's harsh, but if firefighters would only buckle up, they wouldn't risk loosing their life. Take responsibility for yourselves, folks. Ab.

9/15 Greencheese

The DC-10 HAS been used on fires this summer.


9/15 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. An experienced water tender operator is looking for work in the Jobs Wanted section of the Jobs Page. Ab.
9/15 Ab--on the militia, again,

After sending my note on the militia yesterday I did a quick calculation on the number of people on my district who respond as members of the militia to various incidents. My calculations indicate that around 50 percent of the permanent non fire workforce on the district respond to incidents as militia members. District militia have responded to fires, hurricanes, the space shuttle disaster, and other types of incidents. The skill levels range from PIOs, finance, GIS, Resource, Demob, Food Unit Leaders, Receiving and Distribution, ICs, Strike Team Leaders, Division Sups, Crew Bosses, etc which are not generally filled by temporary fire fighters. That may or may not be representative of the Forest Service as a whole but it certainly demonstrates that the militia is not a myth but is, in reality, a well trained, skilled, integral part of the federal fire fighting program.

9/15 Green Gestapo,

You may have a good point.

Appendix A to Subpart I of Part 550-Schedule of Pay Differentials Authorized for Hazardous Duty Under Subpart I
Exposure to Hazardous Agents, work with or in close proximity to:
(5) Virulent biologicals. Materials of micro-organic nature which when introduced into the body are likely to cause serious disease or fatality and for which protective devices do not afford complete protection.

We tried using this approach a few years ago locally and were told that it applied only to scientists and biologists working in lab settings with known biological and etiological hazards.. it didn't apply to us folks working in the field with only "potential" or "possible" exposures without knowing what the heck they we being exposed with... Confused us also.

I think you are right in your interpretation.... The interpretation then was that PPE provided "complete" protection against hazards, but nobody knows what the true hazards are to "hazardous agents" or exactly what those "potential" hazardous agents are.

Rogue Rivers
9/15 The results of the Fire Pants Research project are complete.

Kevlar Fire Pants, paid $150.00 in 2001, replaced yesterday. Per year amortized value of pants $30.00.
Lousy GSA crap pants $80.00, replace every other year amortized yearly value, $40.00.

Intangible values of increased safety and protection and besides they look cooler were not addressed in this study.

Footnote: Round numbers were used to make the calculations simpler, actual values may have differed slightly. These are test results, your results may differ due to specific working conditions.

Be safe.


9/15 As requested, here is the link to the CDF Burn Treatment Policy Site (CDF Intranet available as Internet through a backdoor for policy review):

http://webmain02.fire.ca.gov/Pubs/Issuance/1700/Index1700.php (Scroll down)

Thanks CDFBigWig (LoL). Thanks to the CDF folks for making it available on the internet for changes in the ways we treat burn injuries to federal wildland firefighters.


1810 Sections
1810: Burn Treatment - Introduction
1811: Burn Categories
1812: Burn Treatment Guidelines
1813: Transportation of Burn Patients
1814: Burn Treatment Supplies
1815: Responsibilities of First Medical Provider
1816: Responsibilities of Incident Command
1817: Responsibilities of Emergency Command Center
1818: Responsibilities of Home Unit
1819: Responsibilities of Medical Consultant
9/15 Ab,

You said, "Gizmo, it's your opinion that these two regional managers want to move on up. We haven't asked them. Have you? Ab."

Ab, I have done my research. I wouldn't post it if it wasn't researched and collaborated by peers.

I saw a cool signature line a few says ago.... It said, "Remember: "To ignore the FACTS doesn't change the FACTS".

9/15 I don't know if the firefighter should be charged with manslaughter or not (I aint a judge or a lawyer), but we have to get our firefighters wearing seatbelts and driving safely for road conditions. CDF in Riverside County has known about the problems with the Spartan Engines and Jake Brakes getting them squirrly..... I almost crashed one ten years ago because I forgot to turn the jake brake off while it was drizzling. I was also a backseater at another time when the Spartan I was riding in got sideways entering a mobile home park because the jake brake kicked in as we decelerated to enter. The Spartan Engine has some big underlying problems for safety..... they are underbraked (unless you rely on the jake brake) for the weight involved, and over powered for the chassis.

For anyone who viewed the actual scene (as I did on my way home), or anyone who looked at the pictures, this should have been a minor accident if folks were wearing their seatbelts. Engine left the roadway, bounced alot, got a little airborne, and pitched un-belted firefighters all over the place.

Investigations from at least two of the incidents this year (Region 4) that resulted in federal wildland firefighter injuries showed that seatbelt use was not enforced and excessive speed for road conditions was present... they were LUCKY.

From the article: "We understand that even if we're in a fire engine, we aren't above the law," Hutchinson said. "We owe it to the firefighter that lost his life not to let this happen again."

I hope the best for this firefighter... maybe he could continue his career through a pre-trial diversion agreement..... He obviously has went through hell with this ordeal and doesn't need any more. Maybe the CDF Firefighters legal defense team, or the CDF hierarchy could offer up Pre-Trial Diversion since this is a misdemeanor case without gross negligence?

The lessons learned from this firefighter speaking to, and educating his peers about the importance of seatbelts and driving safety would reverberate for years to come throughout all agencies..... just a thought. The CDF Spartan Engines need to be taken out of service as a known and not corrected hazard also.

Former RRU
9/15 Anyone heard the "rumors" about the Evergreen 747 going on contract in Boise sometime this week?

A friend told me that it has a $3.1 million availability for thirty days and costs somewhere around $30,000 per flight hour.

Is it going to be a FS or BLM contract? Where will it be used?

With everyone on the ground being hounded for cost containment, does it give a mixed message?

If it is only being tested, why does it have such a hefty availability fee? Should the feds have to pay to test someone else's development project?

If the 747 is OK, why isn't the DC-10 or the BAE 146 being considered for airtanker status?

9/14 Ab, please post:

California Firefighter Fights Apparatus Manslaughter Charge

Updated: 09-14-2006 01:07:39 PM

Banning, Calif.-- A veteran firefighter pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a criminal vehicular manslaughter case stemming from a fire-engine crash that killed a fellow firefighter more than a year ago.

Last month, the Riverside County district attorney's office charged 47-year-old Michael Lawrence Arizaga with one count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. The action followed a yearlong accident investigation.

A California Highway Patrol accident report found that Arizaga had been driving too fast for the rainy conditions, had not removed an emergency brake and had failed to ensure that all firefighters aboard the engine were wearing seat belts. CHP Officer Robert Saiz said Arizaga was not intoxicated at the time of the crash.

Christopher Kanton, a 23-year-old firefighter from Temecula, died after the engine sailed more than 40 feet over an Interstate 10 embankment in Beaumont.

Fire officials say this is the first time a fire engine's driver has faced a vehicular manslaughter charge in the 101-year history of the California Department of Forestry, which contracts fire services throughout much of Riverside County.

Riverside County Fire Department spokeswoman Julie Hutchinson said the agency expects no special treatment and respects the investigators' findings.

"We understand that even if we're in a fire engine, we aren't above the law," Hutchinson said. "We owe it to the firefighter that lost his life not to let this happen again."

At an arraignment Tuesday, Arizaga met his attorney flanked by family members and fellow firefighters on the front steps of the Riverside County Superior Court in Banning.

Arizaga, a Hemet resident, said he began his firefighting career in Banning 14 years ago and was assigned to a Moreno Valley fire station at the time of the accident. He referred other questions to his attorney.

Michael D. Schwartz, a Santa Monica-based lawyer hired to defend Arizaga by the CDF firefighters union, said he thinks the case should be dismissed and called the criminal filing ridiculous.

If found guilty in the case, Arizaga could face as long as a year in prison. He remains on paid administrative leave pending the legal proceedings, officials said.

A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 17 in the Banning court.

District attorney's office spokeswoman Ingrid Wyatt said a prosecutor has not yet been assigned to the case.

Terry McHale, CDF public-policy director, echoed earlier sentiments concerning the precedent a conviction would set and the adverse effect it could have on emergency response times.

"If he gets convicted, innocent people will lose their lives and property will burn," McHale said by phone from Sacramento. "It will be fought with everything the fire service can muster."

Fair Use Disclaimer

9/14 Todd, do you know what fire that is on the GeoMac Map,
that smaller one ESE of Cecilville? Is it a spot or a fire from
the lightning busts end of July that has been contained for a


9/14 Mellie,

Look at what Geomac with Modus thermal satellite says is happening on
the Bar Complex today. Looks like your wind is having an effect. Yellow
is the old boundary.


Rippin'! The satellite image shows a big column too (Link to satellite
imagery, etc & maps on the News page).


9/14 Please post! DAT

Forgotten tribute

In July of 2001, four firefighters lost their lives when the Thirtymile Fire exploded and burned over them and 11 others trapped in the Chewuch River Canyon. They were not the first wildland firefighters to meet their death in the mountains surrounding the Methow.

Since 1929, a total of 14 firefighters have died while working on blazes here. The names of the four who died at Thirtymile are recognizable to many: Jessica Johnson, Karen Fitzpatrick, Devin Weaver and Tom Craven. But how about the others? Do you know the story of Douglas Ingram, Ernani St. Luise or Robert Cavanaugh? Do the names Robert Carlman, Keith Hendrickson, Gerald Helmer or George Carey ring a bell? How about J.C. Brehm, Joseph Coke or Michael Adams?

Soon after the Thirtymile tragedy, a group of Winthrop business leaders proposed the creation of a memorial, not just to the Thirtymile victims, but as a tribute to all of the wildland firefighters who have died in the line of duty in the Methow.
There was plenty of support for the memorial, and an alliance formed to help turn it into a reality. A public selection process was conducted by Methow Arts, and a rusted steel and stone silhouetted design by local metalworker Barry Stromberger was the popular choice.

All that was left was to raise the estimated $31,000 for the project. T-shirts were printed and grants were written. The town of Winthrop and the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce put up some administrative money. That was five years ago.

Shadowed somewhat by the tragedy of Sept. 11, fundraising momentum slowed, then essentially stopped in late 2001, according to Methow Arts director Kate Jones. Whether it was because of the controversy surrounding the Thirtymile deaths or the distraction of what was happening on the national and international stage, the money stopped coming in.
Methow Arts, which was approached to help with funding and selection, has become the owner of the project by default. Now, Jones said, the board is ready to re-invigorate the effort to construct the memorial.

A total of $13,000 has been raised, and much of that spent on the selection process and administration. We still need to raise $17,000, most of which would be slated for the artist’s fee and materials.

Is there still community support for this worthy project? If so, say it with a check. Donations may be sent to Methow Arts, P.O. Box 723, Twisp, WA 98856. For more information, or to see a model of the monument, call Methow Arts at 997-4004.

Let’s not forget these men and women who gave their lives while trying to protect our lives, land and property from wildfire. Let’s get this worthy tribute out of the box and into the Winthrop park.

– John Hanron
Published in the Methow Valley News Sept. 13, 2006

9/14 Ab,

I've personally heard the acting R5 Fire Director say he looks at his
current job as stepping stone to bigger things.


9/14 The Type 6 Engine on the Classified Ads page sold yesterday, but there is a new Type 5 Engine just posted today.  This one is being advertised as a lease option and the owner will deliver.  See the details under the Heavy Equipment section.  OA
9/14 Dear DAS and others:

The Associated Press informed me this afternoon that they should have a nationwide article out on the matter tomorrow.

Much of the information they received from the FWFSA was documentation pertaining to the historical reliance on, and use of those in the Militia to counter the comments from the PIO in the WO who indicated the Militia was a myth and stated "that's why we hire temporary firefighters."

Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/14 Boy do we have wind!!!

I hope firefighters on the NorCal fires are being really safe. I heard the Pigeon and Bake Oven blew out in three places yesterday afternoon:

  • along Manzanita Creek -Pigeon
  • along the Hobo Gulch Road - Pigeon
  • way up north-east in the Trinity Wilderness backcountry toward Cecil Lake - BakeOven

The 9 strike teams of engines (45) are working on structures. I hope enough people have followed the mandatory evacuation orders so that firefighters can concentrate on the fire and structures rather than residents. Good luck.

Remember that after the NW winds come through with these types of weather systems, they're followed by NE and S winds. Those will test other containment lines, especially if there's an alignment of forces (wind, slope and maximum preheating time period). Guess everyone in OPS knows that. When I'm on the coast I watch the local smoke stacks to predict the weather. Strange to have this kind of wintertime weather pattern right now but have the sky be absolutely clear.

I hear Weaverville is getting the smoke. Don't hold your breath.

Be Safe.


9/14 For those interested:

Last year 4/20/05 Brian Bruns, Paul Cockrell, Tom Lynch died when T-26 their Lockheed P-3B (AeroUnion)
crashed on the Lassen NF during a training flight out of Chico. The NTSB report that came out on 8/29/06 says,

The reason for the in-flight collision with terrain could not be determined.

Full narrative

My condolences to Stone's and Willett's families.


9/14 Report on Rob Stone Memorial:

Thousands Pay Respect to CDF Killed in Plane Crash


9/14 Here's donation information for both BC Stone and CDF Pilot Sandy Willet. MS

In lieu of flowers, CDF Battalion Chief Rob Stone’s family has requested that donations be made in his name to the Rob Stone Memorial Trust Fund. Donations can be sent to either:

Valley Oak Credit Union Or
40870 Sierra Drive
Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-4471
University Medical Center, Regional Burn Center
445 S. Cedar Ave.
Fresno CA 93702
(559) 459-4000

In lieu of flowers, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Pilot George “Sandy” E. Willett’s family has requested that donations be made in his name to a trust fund that has been established at Bank of America.
Donations can be made at any Bank of America Branch. The account number is 0018644451 or funds can be transferred electronically by wire number 026009593 and the account number.

9/14 Hi Ab, nice site.

I'm here in Ontario, Canada. We've had hot and dry weather
like our more southern US neighbors and over 400 new starts
in 4 days. More are predicted.

Haven't even gotten to some of those already burning.

Hoping for early rain

9/14 Ab--on the subject of militia,

I just read about the PIO that stated the militia was a myth. I find that statement disturbing. I have been fighting fire as a member of the USFS R5 militia for over 30 years. So far this summer I have spent over 25 days on fire assignments as a Crew Boss and IC T4 and expect to be doing more. I have a number of people working for me, "militia", who have up to 4 weeks on fire and other incident (hurricane) assignments over the past twelve months. I know of other "militia" on the forest who are integral members of Type 1 and 2 teams who have been gone on numerous assignments. The militia is not a myth. It appears obvious to me that the PIO in question was trying to put spin on the outsourcing question by giving misinformation. The truth needs to be told.

The post of the 12th that stated that militia are not responding in the numbers they used to is accurate. However, the main reasons that militia are not responding is that they are not there in the numbers they used to be. A large component of the militia of old was comprised of timber folks. These positions in R5 have largely disappeared as the timber program took a major nosedive. As people disappeared so did the militia. Forests that used to be able to supply two 20 person crews of red carded people for fires and somewhat function can not even find 10 people as non fire functions (timber, recreation, etc.) have lost staffing. Those militia who remain, permanent and temporary, do what they can to respond while still trying to complete assigned work with their dwindling numbers. As positions have gone away, those remaining have had to take on additional workload. Backup personnel are no longer available in many areas to meet on going needs if they were to leave on an assignment. Even though the numbers of militia are not as many as in days of old, we continue to try to do our part. No matter what the spin a PIO places on it, contracting out of positions that serve as militia will have a substantial adverse impact on federal emergency response. The militia plays a substantial role in emergency response, especially in years with high activity.

The militia is alive, although in lower numbers, and actively involved in fire fighting and emergency response. Let the truth be told. I speak from experience not spin.

9/14 R-5, California, Forest Service.... We have two R5 management folks... one wants to be the future Chief of the Forest Service and one wants to be the next Director of Fire and Aviation Management at the helm in R-5, and some day replace the National Director of Fire and Aviation Management, Tom Harbour, and the Chief of the Forest Service, Dale Bosworth..... Somehow, they forgot their roots and the reason they got to the positions they are in.

They got to their current positions because the folks below them were confident in their leadership abilities and their commitment to meet the mission. (See Military Doctrine and how Leadership Failures Happen). They supported them until they got screwed up and lost focus of the Doctrine, Commanders Intent, and the Mission..... Back to Basics.

Basics.... firefighter safety, community safety, resource protection. It is how you (those people) got to those positions of "leadership" and "management" (somehow), follow and re-focus your efforts on the basics of your career path and your emphasis on safety. If you loose the support of the troops by missing the focus of safety and the the mission, you have lost the battle, and eventually the war.


Gizmo, it's your opinion that these two regional managers want to move on up. We haven't asked them. Have you? Ab.

9/14 Pay for Potential

I was joking with a structural firefighter recently about how nice it must
be to get paid all night while sleeping. He responded "We're paid for our
potential. We may be watching cable, or sleeping, but it is in a location
and under conditions that allow us to have response times in the minutes and
seconds to trouble as opposed to hours and minutes from home."

I really liked the way he put it and so I want to chime in on being paid
short hours while on a deployment.

If I wanted to make 12 hours I could stay home. I may be doing nothing
while on a deployment, may be sitting in camp IA, or be rehabbing, water
baring, etc.

But as has been posted before, many times the reason my crew is still there
and not demobbed is that we are being held out to protect against the what
if's of the coming days. Now, it doesn't help me at all to have a short day
out west. I can't take my wife to dinner, play leggos with my son, or yell
at my dog for barking all night. I am stuck thousands of miles from hearth
and home to be available. As the hotshot's wife complained, he wasn't
working, but wasn't released either.

So I think making 12 hours is unfair to the firecrew. It pays them for
their labor, but doesn't take into account their potential. The only reason
they are sleeping in a tent with hundreds of snoring stinking neighbors is
to be close to the need IF the need arises.

And as for personalizing things by calling someone's arguments "snivilling"
You can always tell when a person has either NO personal experience or
none recently. Sometimes I think that one requirement of overhead should be
that in order to keep their redcards they should have to perform one day of
"rehab", or detail a parking lot for trash, or other non-pleasing task, do
it for basic firefighter pay, and only get 12 hours.

Flash in Florida

9/13 Just in case you're still sitting at home wishing you were on one of the large fires, there are four quality contract suppression organizations needing immediate help.  I hear Mountaineers and Firestorm have co-operated to even offer late season basic and refresher training beginning on Monday.  See the Jobs Page for contact info.  OA
9/13 Ab,

We've posted .phpl and .pdf versions of the ruling from Backfire 2000 vs. United States federal lawsuit. We should all be interested in what the judge had to say about firefighter liability during firing operations, stemming from the Bitterroot Valley wildfires in 2000.

Here's what he had to say about the Fire Orders (before they were put back in original sequence):

Plaintiffs claim that Government firefighters had no discretion to deviate from Government policies on safety, such as those in the Ten Firefighting Orders and the Eighteen Watchout Situations. Plaintiffs are correct, these policies contained mandates. But each mandatory directive provides discretion to the firefighter. For example, Standing Fire Order Number Seven holds that a firefighter must "determine safety zones and escape routes." But the firefighter must use discretion to decide what constitutes an adequate safety zone based on the surrounding fuels, topography, weather, fire behavior, availability of other firefighting resources, time available to prepare the site and other factors involved in fire fighting discretion. An adequate safety zone may vary greatly in size depending on these and other factors. The Orders tend toward vagueness. Standing Fire Order Number Ten instructs firefighters to "Stay alert, keep calm, think clearly, act decisively." This is the language of discretion, not of specific mandatory actions or protocols.

The non-specific language of the Government's policies and directives, such as the Standing Orders and Watchout Situations, supports the Government's position. These are flexible principles to be used in fighting fire, an activity that depends on firefighters' judgment, common sense, and experience. The Miller Court's holding is applicable here: "The existence of some mandatory language does not eliminate discretion when the broader goals sought to be achieved necessarily involved an element of discretion." Miller, 163 F.3d at 595.

Makes sense to me.

vfd cap'n
9/13 Dear R5er:

Their response is unfortunately based on ignorance. They also likely have to toe the company line. Also I assume their fire experience or background is between none & nil!!??

If we put credence in what they said, or what Mark Rey says etc., there would be no reason to work to try fix things. But we are hoping that firefighters now recognize they can make a difference in their futures. What we are doing is the right thing to do whether the Forest Leadership wants to acknowledge it or not.

Some may be surprised that several higher-ups in the WO support what we are doing...they just can't publicly say it.

Congress is addressing the classification issue and compensation issues which means we have had an impact and which will lead to other benefits. The Forest Leadership ought to go back to bean counting and sucking up to Mark Rey and leave the firefighting to firefighters and the fight to improve your lives to us.

9/13 Mandatory evacuations are in effect for residents of Canyon Creek and north of Powerhouse Road because of anticipated winds and increased fire activity on the Bar Complex, a Bar Complex information officer said today.

The Trinity County Sheriff’s Department ordered the evacuations as of noon today, information officer Chris Worth said.

That was just posted in the www.redding.com website.


Thanks DG. Mellie also posted that info on the Hot List Forum. Ab.

9/13 Ab: your readers may be interested in this issue paper (122K pdf file) our retiree group has recently completed.

A fact not included in our paper is the method Interior agencies use to keep from going broke. Fire costs are spread across the entire Interior budget, and then, at the end of the season a supplemental appropriation is requested, so the Interior fire agencies do not have to mortgage the house like the FS does.

John F. Marker, Northwest Director,
National Association of Forest Service Retirees (NAFSR)
9/13 Re H-pay for medicals:

This is how "we" (FS on our district) justify hazard pay on medical aides. There must be blood or other bodily fluid exposure for justification.

§550.907 Relationship to additional pay payable under other statutes.
Hazard pay differential is in addition to any additional pay or allowances payable under other statutes. It shall not be considered part of the employee's rate of basic pay in computing additional pay or allowances payable under other statutes. [56 FR 20345, May 3, 1991]

Appendix A to Subpart I of Part 550—Schedule of Pay Differentials Authorized for Hazardous Duty Under Subpart I
Exposure to Hazardous Agents, work with or in close proximity to:
(5) Virulent biologicals. Materials of micro-organic nature which when introduced into the body are likely to cause serious disease or fatality and for which protective devices do not afford complete protection.

Green Gestapo

9/13 Casey,

I have been reading your last few posts about pay issues, portal to portal, and Firefighter recognition. I appreciate the fight and will always appreciate everything the FWFSA is trying to do for the Forestry Aids and Technicians through out the Nation.

Here is one frustration that I have run into the last couple of meetings that we have had about retention and recruitment. I have quoted some of the things that you have mentioned about pay reform and recognition, and here is the answer that I have gotten from the FLT (Forest Leadership Team). We have nothing coming because we are the highest paid Forestry Aids and Technicians in the nation so we will never see any type of pay raise besides cost of living.

I hope and pray for the welfare of the agency and the folks that love this job as much as I do that something happens soon.....

9/12 Hello Ab,

I’m not sure what might be the best/proper means to introduce our Heat Stress Management solution to your world…

Our CoreControl/RTX product cools down your internal core temp, via the palm of your hand, and within approx 5 – 6 minutes. This technology was developed by some Stanford University biologists, and we’ve mainly been focusing upon the athletic markets and the military. (So this firefighter market is new for me, and I realize I’m just sticking my toes in the water.) Our solution is different than the misting fans, cooling chairs, and cooling vests, in that, they merely address external skin temperature. And the studies that Stanford and the military have done, indicates that this external instance cooling, actually raises your core temperature first…as your brain instantly “says” the skin is cold, and pumps more internal heat.

I’ve attached a couple articles: Core Control, Core Firefighters, and you can view this video-clip from The Discovery Channel called Cool yer Jets: www.exn.ca/dailyplanet/view.asp?date=9/20/2005 which provides a nice overview of the solution. I can provide you with an evaluation unit or put you in contact with some of our medical doctor folks, or even the Stanford biologists…if you need add’l info/data.

I’ve recently presented to some local Fire Departments, and they loved the solution, and how this might help their folks recover from the heat of the battle. Thus, why I’m excited about the upcoming conferences, and getting some of your input. I realize our product will need to be modified a bit for the firefighter market (easy manufacturing enhancements), but I believe I see a huge market, and a huge value-add we can provide.

I’m going to be exhibiting our solution at the Fire and Rescue Int’l conference…hope to see you there.

Charlie Murdock
President, Castle Technologies

I read the articles and viewed the video and think this product has great potential. Any information on how Charlie can best get his product widely introduced and approved by federal, state, and other wildland suppression agencies is welcome and appreciated. OriginalAb.

9/12 Matt and All -- Either this just dropped in off the server or I missed it earlier. Apologies if it was my bad. I hope the service today went well and that tomorrow's will be profoundly meaningful. Ab.

Here is some info on tomorrows (today's) Memorial for CDF BC Rob Stone in Visalia and Wednesdays Memorial for CDF/Dyncorp Pilot Sandy Willet..

Matt Streck


Memorial Service information
RSVP requested

VISALIA- On Wednesday, September 6, 2006 California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Rob Stone and CDF/DynCorp Pilot George “Sandy” Willett died in a plane crash in a rural area of Tulare County, while flying over a wildland fire.

The Memorial Service for CDF Battalion Chief Rob Stone will be held:
Tuesday September 12, 2006 at 2:00 p.m.( Recommended apparatus arrival time is 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.)

Visalia First Assembly of God Church 3737 So. Akers Road
Intersection of Akers Rd. and Caldwell Ave. Visalia, Ca.

Directions: From Hwy 99 go eastbound Caldwell Ave to Akers and right on Akers.


The Memorial Service for CDF/ DynCorp Pilot George “Sandy” Willett, Jr will be held:
Wednesday September 13, 2006 at 12:00 p.m. (Recommended apparatus arrival time 10:30 a.m.)

Kings County Fairgrounds 12:00 p.m. 810 So. 10th Avenue Hanford, Ca.

Directions: From Hwy 198 go south on 10th Ave

Uniform: Permanent CDF personnel to wear Class A uniform, Limited Term and Seasonal personnel, clean & serviceable admin or work uniform. Allied agency personnel to wear highest level uniform possible.

At both events the families will arrive in a small procession of apparatus and be greeted by a static display of public safety apparatus and personnel standing at attention. Agencies wishing to participate in these events are requested to RSVP at the below phone numbers & arrive at the recommended times to allow for placement in the static display.

(559) 636-4107 or 4108 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m

9/12 Darn it.... LOL.. You are A WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER who is making changes for safety being labeled as an "Engineer"..... Bret, call BS where BS is due.. and invite the Fire Managers and Fire Professionals to your Conference regarding Fire Behavior and Fuels.....

Your title.... Bret Butler
Research Mechanical Engineer
USFS - RMRS Fire Sciences Lab.

Bret, your title needs some work. You are a Fire Management Professional and should be recognized as such.

Nobody wants to come to a fire conference to be lectured by a bunch a Engineers and Ologists telling wildland fire professionals how to do their jobs..... They want to hear from experienced and educated fire managers such as yourself on ways to improve the wildland fire program that the federal government delivers..... Give it some thought.

9/12 Dear "MOC4546":

Nothing like putting me on the spot!!

Let me first start by saying that all entities involved in wildfire suppression, whether they be federal, municipal, state or contract personnel, all play an integral role in managing wildland fires each year. The question though is to what degree the federal land-management agencies, and thus the federal government, utilizes each of these components.

There is absolutely no question that municipal & state firefighters earn more than their counterparts in the federal sector even at their base rates. It is also a fact that there are additional costs associated with paying for municipal resources such as 1) administrative costs to their department 2) backfill costs 3) lodging costs etc.

It is also not a secret that a number of municipal firefighters "make a killing" on overtime each wildfire season, compliments of the federal government, who continues to take their own firefighters "off the clock" for periods of time during any 24hr period.

It is also a fact that contractors are in the business...to make a profit. Nothing illegal about that. Even the contract community acknowledges that there are good contract outfits and bad ones.

Most importantly, as the FWFSA pursues what it believes to be a long-overdue compensation policy of portal to portal for federal wildland firefighters, it is not advocating the wholesale elimination of the use of contractors and cooperators during wildfire seasons.

Now more to the point: It is my opinion that the land-management agencies, primarily the Forest Service, has ignored the infrastructure of its firefighting corps for many years by ignoring serious recruitment & retention problems and failing to develop and implement policies, such as portal to portal pay; health benefits for temporary firefighters; hazard pay on prescribed burns etc., that would have a dramatic effect on the R&R issues.

Rather than providing the American taxpayer with it's best "bang for the buck" by strengthening the infrastructure, the FS has done two additional things that have manifested themselves in skyrocketing suppression costs.

1) The FS continues to rely and/or expect those in the "militia", or whatever term you want to use, to continue to respond to needs within the fire program each season. This expectation continues despite clear evidence that the number of those performing collateral fire duties has diminished significantly in recent years. Why? The same reason for the R&R problems among firefighters... no incentives.

So far then, you have the FS 1) not strengthening its infrastructure of firefighters and addressing the R&R issues & 2) continuing to rely on the "militia" which simply isn't showing up in the numbers they once used to.

Add # 3) As a result, the agencies have come to over-rely on contractors & cooperators. This is evident by the explosion of contract companies over the last 10 years. Many have been created by former FS firefighters. Heck, you can't blame them, doing business with the Government can be extremely lucrative... unless you're an employee of that Government!

And a # 4: Until recently, congress simply doled out the money without any question. Recently they've begun to ask why the cost of suppression continues to go up. Quite candidly, the FS, via Mark Rey and others have not been straight up with congress. It is my firm belief that the skyrocketing costs of suppression have, in large part, to do with this over-reliance on non-federal resources.

As many of you have read, even reports authored by Tom Harbour, FS Fire & Aviation Director have come to the conclusion that feds doing the entire job on any given fire, especially large ones, would save significant tax dollars... in the hundreds of millions each year. We have proven without a doubt to congress that if the agencies implemented portal to portal pay it would:

Have a significant positive impact on the R&R issues which would lead to the strengthening of the nation's wildland firefighting infrastructure. By doing that the agencies could reduce their reliance on higher-priced resources. (notice I didn't say totally eliminate their use). By doing that, and even throwing in basic health coverage for temporary firefighters which can make up about 46% of staffing each season, the Government could save hundreds of millions of dollars each season in suppression costs.

These aren't theories, they are absolutely fact. So why are the agencies not out racing to embrace such positive and cost-effective practices? No incentive... yet. Congress has yet to put enough pressure on the agencies. For so long congress had only Mark Rey & Dale Bosworth to rely on about what's going on with the fire program of the FS. Now they also have the FWFSA which, by virtue of its diverse membership, can relay information to congress from the field that the FS 1) sure as heck doesn't want us to have & 2) sure as heck doesn't want getting to congress.

It is an extremely long, exhausting, highly political road to hoe to get the government to change the way it does business regardless of the financial benefits. The partisan nature of congress precludes a lot of good work from getting done. Fortunately the FWFSA has worked extremely hard over the years to develop close personal & professional relationships on both sides of the aisle in order to reduce the impact of partisan politics in it's legislative agenda. Perhaps that is why there are more democratic co-sponsors of HR 408 than republicans.

Since we can't rely on the agencies to fix things, we have no choice but to rely on congress. The only way to get them to do it is to be persistent with a loud, nation-wide voice. Speaking of that, we are honored to welcome our first Illinois member to the FWFSA today.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/12 J Greeson,

I must admit that you are right on the money, as I have been employed by you in the past. As a matter of fact, all of my 12 years of wildland fire experience consists of contract crews. I have been on many fires where the Fed crews are much more willing to do stupid things for stupid reasons simply because they can and will have the equipment replaced as soon as they return to camp. I must also say that J Greeson and his partner meet and or exceed all federal training standards when it comes to hiring crew members to man their engines in Oregon and Idaho. I was a devoted employee through good and bad times and watched as many engines were rolling to fires, knowing that eventually it would be our turn, and in every case that we received work orders, we not only did the job, but were one of the last engines to be de-mobed.

So, in summary, J Greeson, keep up the hard work, and to those that look down at contract firefighters, remember that we all have the same training, and in some cases, we are more qualified than you might think, so treat us as "brothers", not "step brothers".

Stay safe, and hydrated......


9/12 J. Greeson,

Who pushed your button?

Where are you aiming your frustration at? Like Lobotomy said, the folks responsible are the people at helm of the fiasco of this fire season.... Mark Rey, Dale Bosworth, and Tom Harbour. Maybe you need to join the NWSA and get active in providing info to the Congress, the ultimate folks who fund the federal agencies and the programs they administer.

Maybe you missed something, but there is a push for outsourcing for preparedness, and the utilization of contract resources for suppression. Lots of contract crews and engines are being used RIGHT NOW to replace federal resources in both suppression and preparedness....

In many cases, local government, state, and contract resources aren't being utilized for cost containment reasons on FEDERAL FIRES. This decision results in delayed initial and extended attack, increased acreages on fires, and increased risks and exposures to hazards that wildland firefighters and the communities they protect must deal with. It is just a sign of how the Fed's are doing business right now to meet their cost containment goals and not keeping firefighter, community, and resource protection in mind. Risk vs. Gain.

Most wildland firefighters, like myself, understand that local government, state, and contract resources are needed for an efficient and cost effective wildland response to federal wildland fires. Some people do not.

Rogue Rivers
9/12 Mellie,

Thanks for a reminder (ash and cherry blossoms) of the finer things in the wildland firefighting life. I would love to have been there at my old Alma Mater to see that. Woodland smoke always smelled good in Arcata this time of year.

J. Greeson, Getting Tired of the BS, others,

This has been a really long, stressful, and frustrating fire season for all of us. I have caught myself being short tempered, obnoxious even, which I chalked up first to the folks around me but soon thereafter to the fatigue, stress, and frustration that many of us are feeling and some of us have endured for a very long time.

Just lately on a large fire assignment a wiser person than me started playing 14 questions with me regarding my state of fatigue and stress. We both ended up agreeing that I needed to go home for some attitude adjustment after already having been there a lot of days straight. I had to agree that I was "not on top of my game" and have since both recuperated and learned a personal lesson regarding how things can get in these really long fire seasons.

Folks, I can see the fatigue, stress, and frustration clearly right here on the TheySaid board. Some recent posts state legitimate concerns but also tell me that folks are very angry and frustrated right now. This comes at the wrong time of year, in my opinion. Safety being our number one priority and fatigue, stress, and frustration being our number one nemesis right now..... well I think you can see where I am going with this.

Venting may temporarily make us feel better but hostility just adds to the problem. We all need to chill out a bit for the time being or we might become our own worst safety issue.

A big change in the weather is forecasted for at least the Northwest Area and Northern Rockies later this week. That won't be the end of fire season but at least it will give many of us a chance to rest and recuperate a bit. You folks in SoCal and Texas hang in there. Be safe!

As far as the issues and frustrations go, come about late November let the "Winter Games" begin between many of us and the various American bureaucracies. We will all be much better able to come together and constructively defend our issues when we aren't so tired and stressed out.

Ab, thanks again for the great forum. Sign me this time:

Knuckle Dragon
9/12 CDF Jake

Thanks for confirming what I had believed for a long time. At least in one small corner of CA the Red and Green engine people work together and are not taking cheap shots all the time. (At least not in public like in some places.)
As OA has told me, it is hard for the two biggest FD's in the world not to trade shots at times, but I have seen good co-operation here in this area over the years. CDF sometimes first in on CNF incidents, and the other way around. No haggling on the radio over who is in charge, the Chiefs know each other and divvy the assignments up quickly.

Neighbors, co-workers, just get the job done in the fastest and safest way.

Thanks again


9/12 KO, you said it very well..... I have blue/green color blindness... my bad. It might keep me from being a federal wildland firefighter in the future if the new Medical Standards are implemented.

You said, "We in 'blue' have completed our certifications & qualifications (310-1), became available in the OES system, are in ROSS, completed a Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement with a local forest, and still no requests."

"Most of us in blue today who have completed 310-1 requirements have come from forest agencies, and have experience/education which we would still like to use helping our brothers/sisters in green."

Say it again SAM.. "Most of us in blue today who have completed 310-1 requirements have come from forest agencies, and have experience/education which we would still like to use helping our brothers/sisters in green."

Still bleed green KO? The folks who have left the FEDs for various reasons (pay, benefits, and working conditions) need to be listened to and have a voice for wildland firefighter safety... Any of the folks who are qualified should be used to ensure firefighter safety. Thanks.

9/12 Re: Fight fire aggressively, BUT provided for SAFETY FIRST (I learned that back in April of 1982). aka.. 2006 Fire Season Failures: Lessons NOT Learned.

NorCal Tom,

I have been told that members of the Region 5 Board of Directors (BOD) feel disenfranchised since the new Regional Forester and acting Fire Director took the helm. I know that sounds harsh, but it has to be said from a wildland fire manager who focuses on firefighter safety, the protection of our communities, and the protection of our natural resources. They (BOD Members) have seen the words about a Foundational Doctrine and its importance for safety and protection of natural resources, but have conversely seen the actions of micromanagers not allowing local Fire Professionals and local Line Officers to perform the jobs they KNOW how to do best.

I fully understand their feelings. For many years, the R-5 BOD has been a group of highly experienced Fire Management Professionals who were relied upon for their expertise in managing wildfires. As a group, they provided collective knowledge and experience in the policies for Region 5 Fire Management and tried to solve problems proactively.

Forest Supervisors and District Rangers are now being told how to do their jobs in completing the Wildland Fire Situation Analysis (WFSA) by the Regional Forester. Fire Managers are being told how to do their jobs from the acting Director of Fire and Aviation Management from R-5..

Here is the simple problem.. ".we then brought together a small group of Forest Service fire management, line officer, and public information personnel, and representatives of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) to develop an interagency strategy." Hmm. I think prior to this year, other "small groups" were brought together to develop ROSS, the IQCS system, and the 30 Mile and Cramer Abatements. SEE THE PROBLEM.. One size doesn't fit all.. Back to DOCTRINE.

They did not consult the DLT's, the FLT's, or the RLT before they came up with a change in the way we do business, mid-stream during an active fire season... They also did not consult the Fire Managers, who have been for a long time, only "adjunct technical staff".

In their efforts to reduce costs on wildfires and manage wildfires for resource benefits without an approved WFU Plan by morphing the meaning of an appropriate FIRE MANAGEMENT RESPONSE (seems to be their primary focus this year), they have allowed firefighter and community safety to become secondary without any consultation by the true professionals.. The Fire Management Officers, The Incident Management Teams, and the Local Line Officers.

Sad state of affairs this year... Really sad.. Almost makes me ashamed of being a federal wildland firefighter when I talk to the public.. Makes me more pissed off than ashamed though. I can't tell the public what is really going on or look them squarely in the eyes. I learned it along time ago, Fight Fire Aggressively, BUT Provide for Safety First.. I will do it even if it ruffles some folks feathers.


P.S. - Anyone else notice how silent Under Secretary Mark Rey, Chief Bosworth, and Director Harbour have been since June? Might be some "retirements" or "resignations" soon?.. This mess-up is on the scale of Hurricane Katrina with the mismanagement of Federal Resources and Dollars, and Dale Bosworth, Mark Rey, and Tom Harbour need to answer some tough questions about their "preparedness" and "leadership" roles this fire season and their statements to Congress. Folks, we are looking at close to a BILLION dollars of money spent on Fire Suppression (WFSU) this year!!!! Nearly a quarter of that money went to bailing out resources that SHOULD have been funded through PREPAREDNESS dollars. Also, Over 100 Million dollars was spent on WFU fires and WFU fires that were converted to wildfires. That has to change.. Leadership has to change to make it happen. There aren't any wildland fire managers out there who want to see the other Forest Service programs fail because of "fire borrowing" that seems to keep happening since 2000.
9/12 Mr Greeson,

Your anger seems to be bi-directional: Primarily, that you have to invest time and money in your business (contract firefighting) to make it profitable. Secondarily, that you resent agency crews for not having to manage the same logistical hurdles.

I have no sympathy for either complaint. Yes, I concede your point that you have to use your own funds to make your equipment and personnel operational. Isn't that what the contract business is all about? Are you implying the government should train, equip, and maintain your business for you? That would leave you to do what? Collect the paycheck? The fact of the matter is that agency crews (equipped, trained and maintained by the government), are still more cost effective that those provided by contractors in firefighting venues.

In your line of work, you have two mandates: business and function. Your functional obligation is to provide a contracted service that meets or exceeds the stipulations of your contract. Your business obligation is to provide that service in a manner that is profitable to you and your investors. Your recent post implies you are, at best, resentful fulfilling the first and marginally able to manage the second.


Joe Hill
9/12 Question:

Did any of the NorCal fires blow up yesterday, or was it just the off-shore wind?
Ash was raining out of the sky on the coast about 2 or 3 in the afternoon and the
smoke was fairly thick. The falling ash reminded me of falling cherry blossoms.


9/12 RJM,

You miss my point.

All of the Federal Land Management Agencies and most state agencies (I've worked with some good fire hands that were fisheries biologists for the state) rely on utilizing militia during times of high fire work load. These are all folks who have fire as a collateral duty. And many of them do it very well! They don't have 6C retirement and they don't get an hour a day for PT. When the need arises they step forward. Some are motivated by money, others by adventure, and some by duty (The forester to protect the tree, the fisheries biologist to protect fisheries). Our fire organizations are based upon the average worst case. The militia allows us to respond to the worst case.

I am not an advocate of turning all federal wildland resources into all risk responders. In the areas that I have lived those needs are best filled by local governmental agencies. County, City, Rural Fire District, and Emergency Response Districts. Our limited federal resources in these areas would contribute very little out side of wildland fire suppression. That may not be true where you are but I think that holds true for most of the country.

Small Agency Fire Guy
9/11 To <those talking about contract crews and equipment>,

I just wish you agency folks had to go out find and build a good truck , build it into an engine from scratch, (OUT OF YOUR OWN POCKET), wire it, plum it, equip it with what is required . Go out and by nomex, helmets, line gear , radio's, etc., insure it (OUT OF POCKET). Then go out and find people, train them (OUT OF POCKET ), then try and keep them around until we actually get called, Pay for the fuel (OUT OF POCKET). We have NO guarantee of any work although we pay Insurance costs to just hope you get to play. I'v done this and it is NOT cheep. It’s a full time year round headache that cost more than any of you have a clue. We earn out days. We have to do way more than you know, and do it on OUR OWN MONEY, not taxpayer dollars. WE have to maintain our equipment (OUT OF POCKET ).

We don't have fleet mechanics to wipe our nose and tell us it's ok, we will get you another piece of tax-payered equipment so you can go out and thrash it until the next breakdown. You all seem to have this misconception that we just go out and make all this money. Some do, some don't. But it still costs a fortune. When you do your comparison on cost, remember the taxpayer is Not putting us up in motels, feeding us in restaurants, or renting expensive SUV's . And if you can quit looking down your noses at us, you might even notice the fires ARE going out. I have spent the last 15 years of my life in contract firefighting and am DAM* proud of it. I'v had the pleasure to work with lots of shot crews, Type. II crews on more fires than I can name. I'v taken my engines all over most of the western US (OUT OF MY OWN POCKET) and have a fist full of evals, just like a lot of you. So before you make stupid statements about contractors INVESTIGATE the facts FIRST, then shut-up.

Sincerely J. Greeson

9/11 MOC4546

Study on Fire Costs: Agency vs. Contract Crews WA and OR
(on the Lessons Learned website)


9/11 Nice photos taken during and after the 9-11 Observance on the Uncles Complex today:



9/11 September 11, 2001...

Spent that day on the Treasure Fire on the Tahoe NF. Got released from the Star Fire the day before (9/10/2001) to do initial attack on this emerging incident.

All operations on the Treasure Fire stopped as WE ALL listened to how things were unfolding on the East Coast on 9/11/2001. All incident aircraft were grounded, and most of the ground folks were listening to AM radio for important updates about the attack on us. Operations on the fire had to stop to ensure safety and listen to the most up to date news on what was happening. A total loss of SA and focus happened, but wildland firefighters reacted appropriately and kept everyone safe.

We all got it together and finished our mission.... put the fire out and keep our firefighters and our communities safe. It was a lesson learned by many of us. Little talk happens about the success of the Treasure Fire or the IMT that was managing it.

Reduce the exposure, reduce the hazards, and reduce the lengths of exposure to the hazards... seems like pretty simple wildland firefighting strategy and tactics from my old HS supt.... Thank You RR.... and thank you to Linda's Team for keeping folks safer and allowing us to implement Commanders Intent before the term was ever even recognized......

Lessons Learned for the better should be shared for success, Lessons Learned for the worse should never be repeated again. Everyone came home to their families, their friends, and their co-workers from this fire. Simple Lessons Learned.

9/11 A Little Worried,

You haven't read or heard any more of this because those who were involved found it so unbelievable that it could or would happen in this day and age that they were paranoid about saying aything more! Some could have lost their jobs had they spoken up. The OIG contacted them - not the other way around, and when they voiced their specific concerns, they were removed from the team. Who would speak up any more - unless they were at retirement age anyway.

There is reason to be concerned. Look at all of the ramifications! How can a teacher stand up and tell starting firefighters that they need to speak up when they feel something or someone is unsafe? How can they turn down an assignment? Worse yet, WHY did this happen??

I'm worried, too.

Getting Tired of the BS
9/11 Dear "A little worried"

None of those mentioned in the article were FWFSA members. However having members in all fire positions from entry-level to FMOs and Forest Fire & Aviation chiefs provides our organization with a wealth of information from the field that simply can't be refuted by WO bureaucrats.

The FWFSA serves as a voice for its members whether it be pursuing legislative remedies to current archaic pay & personnel policies or when safety issues arise and our members are concerned about repercussions.

We have also lately had to weigh in on other matters such as the implementation of medical standards in R2; diversion of preparedness dollars to non-fire projects; the recent engine captain audit; outsourcing and a number of inquiries from the press. As you might imagine, much of the information we receive that we subsequently pass along to congress or the press is from members in the field who know exactly what's going on but recognize the potential for repercussions.

Although I can't specifically address the matter referred to in the article, if one of our members was involved in a safety concern but felt that if they went forward through the normal channels there would be "hell to pay," then the "concern" would be raised by the FWFSA and as I often do, become the pain in the rear to the Agency in such matters.

When issues arise in the field and it is something congress needs to know about, it doesn't come from a specific B/C or firefighter, it comes from the FWFSA. Granted, the press often wants to talk with firefighters about what's going on but we have made it very clear to the press that the Agency can be very vindictive.

Fortunately there are those in our organization that could care less about potential repercussions and gladly place their names on issues simply because what they are doing and what we are trying to do is the right thing.

Personally, I'll tackle almost anything a member brings to us whether it be of a personal nature or a concern agency-wide. Can't always fix everything but I firmly believe the Agency knows we aren't going away anytime soon and that we've got the ear of many in congress.

Many of those in leadership positions in the FWFSA including myself have a number of years as local union presidents experienced in labor relations, OWCP etc. This allows us to offer assistance to our members when asked. More often than not, managers & supervisors have nowhere to turn so we'll do what we can to assist them. After all, they are some of the true heroes who provide us with the information from the field that allows us to educate congress as to what is really going on out in the field.

So, if you aren't an FWFSA member and you run into something like this, I'd presume you'd stay "a little worried." If you were an FWFSA member, you'd know someone had your back.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/11 Regarding Weingart's letter and Hollenshead's group:

Interesting all this supposedly "new" stuff about Doctrine and
"Commander's Intent". What has puzzled me from the beginning
is that we've been fighting fire using a "Commander's Intent"
process here in California for a number of years.

Many thanks to
the R5 Board of Directors/ Chiefs and to the Incident
Commanders nation-wide.

I find it revealing that the Region 5 Forester calls the R5 Fire Chief
Officers the "Fire Staff" in his cc. Trying to keep a bunch of
professional Fire Chiefs and Incident Commanders in their places,
is he? I also wonder at the following statement in Weingart's letter:

...we then brought together a small group of Forest Service
fire management, line officer, and public information personnel,
and representatives of the California Department of Forestry
and Fire Protection (CDF) to develop an interagency strategy.

Only one line officer? Was that the Regional Forester only? I would
like to know exactly who was in the group. Why PIOs? Why not
more line officers (Forest Management Staff) involved the process?

Is the process now: decisions are only made at the top and sent down?
"Here is my intent, go forth and do it." Oh yeah, we will talk about it...
but right now...

  • keep costs low,
  • acreage burning is OK,
  • while you're at it, figure in houses burning and what it would cost
    to pay people off (might be cheaper than defending them),
  • know that firefighters you need will not be available, cooperators
    cost too much,
  • don't state in the 209 that you didn't get the resources you needed
    to carry out your plan, it makes the FS look bad,
  • etc?

NorCal Tom

9/11 Why is the Forest Service putting their firefighters in danger by not supplying requested leadership and technical support?

The Forest Service Leaders need to put the safety and needs of their personnel first.
It is frustrating being a DIVS and looking at the UTF list to see the daily needs.
We in "blue" have completed our certifications & qualifications (310-1), became available in the OES system, are in ROSS, completed a Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement with a local forest, and still no requests.
Most of us in blue today who have completed 310-1 requirements have come from forest agencies, and have experience/education which we would still like to use helping our brothers/sisters in green.


9/11 2nd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference 2007

Please mark your calendars for the 2nd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, scheduled for March 26-30, 2007 in Destin Florida.

You will not want to miss this important conference-- http://emmps.wsu.edu/fire.behavior/. There will be ample opportunity for both presenters and attendees to participate. Online registration is is open now.

The 2nd Call for Papers, Posters, Special Sessions, and Workshops is open now at www.emmps.wsu.edu/fire.behavior/secondary/PAPERS.phpl and www.emmps.wsu.edu/fire.behavior/secondary/SPECIAL%20SESSIONS.phpl.


Bret Butler
Research Mechanical Engineer
USFS - RMRS Fire Sciences Lab.

9/11 Ab, Here is a question for Casey:

This overspending that was reported on "They Said" by a few hundred million dollars so far this season, is part of the excessive costs the result of such large use of private contractors?

I've noticed on our forum page that there has been a lot of discussion about federal, state, and other government resources are not being utilized. I've also noticed this year a lot of discussions about the 'abundance' of the use of private contractors on more fires than the use of government fire resources.

Last year I worked with a large contractor outfit during the Hurricane Wilma Recovery Mission in Florida back in November, and heard about the wide uses of privates during Hurricane Rita and Katrina.

When I started doing Fire Operations in the early 1980s a contractor was someone you called when regular fire resources were strained to less than 10%, and when secondary government fire resources were similarly used, and/or when Operations staff had either special needs for the incident or wanted to get government resources rehabed and off to the next fire.

Private Operators were on-call, not on paid standby, not doing fire and resource work that was done by regular government crews, they were there for Mop-Up and some IA, but were like contract helicopters, CWN (Call-When-Needed). I swear, I think the private companies are being called to fires before the government resources are.

Does anyone have the actual breakdown on private company expenditures vs. government expenditures? If the privates are costing more than the governments, why can't we step up to the plate as government fire people and start multi-tasking? By that I mean every available Type-1 and Type-2 handcrew, engine crew, helitack crew, and overhead should have been sent to Katrina and Rita to clean up the mess, cut up the trees, clear the brush, move the cars, demolish the buildings, whatever it takes to get the job done. When Hurricane Wilma hit, almost all the temporary/seasonal crews had been laid off or were about to be laid off when it struck in mid-October and resources were being called.

There probably would have been few exceptions of those people to be brought back to work either as GS employees or as AD employees. I know the private contractor I worked with had over 40 people was paying his firefighter between $13.00 and $25.00 per hour, per person, plus the money the contractor made on the contract from the government. I'll bet it would have been cheaper to keep the temporary firefighters working than laying them off, and having them go on UNemployment until the beginning of next season.

I was to state a fact here that it seems that rather than being back-up help, they have become frontline help. Where does the FWFSA stand on mandating that government resources be used up before private contractors are used? Just like the good old days of the 1980s?

How about it, Casey? By the way, Tom H. from McCelland AFB FD said hello, and he may be retiring in a matter of months.

9/11 XJumper (and also Casey)

Wow! This is no small story, why haven't I been seeing more of this? It's downright scary if you ask me.

Casey, if those who were adversely impacted by their feeling the need to bring up safety issues were members of the FWFSA, what support would your organization be able to offer them?

Sometimes I see and read things (like this story for instance) that make me realize we really haven't progressed too far in all areas of accident prevention. It all starts with the freedom to communicate.

Signed: A little worried
9/11 From the Hot List Forum:

Just got off the phone with a Vandenburg hotshot crew member. The Day Fire (Angeles NF) blew up an part of a strike team got cut off and had to burn out around them. All made it out O.K. Fire is now burning toward the I -5 and is shut down all directions. VERY erratic fire behavior.

9/11 >From KNBC News:

"USFS officials said in a statement Monday that "investigators have determined that the Day Fire was started by someone burning a small amount of material" within the forest. Potential suspects and witnesses are being interviewed, they said."

What do you think the chances are that they were burning Toilet Paper again?..... just like the Narrows Fire on the Angeles NF about ten years ago.... The Narrows Fire is talked about by the locals as the TP Fire and is still the brunt of jokes in SoCal.

Hey, all of you wilderness lover types, don't burn your TP in the wilderness even if some wilderness groups tell you that is the right thing to do to protect the wilderness values of the area!!! It really jacks up the wilderness and takes away the pristine views for many of us when a stand replacing fire happens, and causes us firefighters to take un-needed risks to put out a fire that should have never started.

Hopefully everyone on the Vandenburg HS crew is safe.... Fingers crossed.


9/11 hello....i am a 10th grader (im victoria by the way) and there was recently a fire in my area, in fact i had a small brush fire in my backyard. Either way, at one of the meetings to update the communities awareness of the situations/update, i was interested by one of the positions on the team, the fire behavior analyst.

Now in school, we are putting together our plans for careers and what not, and im sure thats what i want to be, and i am wondering what the educational requirements are for this job to make this happen.

Please email me back,
victoria, Falkland,BC

Victoria, Fire Behavior Analysts are very important people on a fire team. For a start, it would be a good idea to get a college degree. Readers, any suggestions? Ab will pass on messages.

9/11 ROSS

Can someone please tell me what the constant "Cobra bite" is that pops up in ROSS
and throws you out of the screen you're working in? It has become another frustrating
feature of this elaborate, yet cumbersome, program. Tried to roster a flight crew and
the process took 45 minutes as a result of the "Cobra".



9/11 Here's the letter Gizmo requested: (Ab Note: Click the link toward the end for the Enclosure -- Comprehensive Approach to Fire Suppression Management.)

USDA Forest Service, Region 5
File Code: 5100 Date: September 1, 2006
Route To:
Subject: Fire Suppression Strategies - A Comprehensive Approach
To: Forest Supervisors

In early July it became apparent that several fires in northern California were going to be of long duration. At the same time the Southwest Area was heavily engaged, fire activity throughout the entire west was accelerating, and competition for resources was increasing. In recognition of these facts we brought in an Area Command Team to evaluate the "balance" of Wildland Fire Situation Analyses (WFSA) and Incident Action Plans (IAP) against the existing and forecasted realities. With their work in hand we then brought together a small group of Forest Service fire management, line officer, and public information personnel, and representatives of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) to develop an interagency strategy. The attached paper is a result of this cooperative work.

Though of particular emphasis during periods of long-term, well entrenched fires, multiple large fires nation-wide, and significant drawdown of critical resources, the principles in this paper are to some degree applicable to all fires we manage. The principles are not new, and my expectation is that you ensure they are consistently considered and applied in every step we take to manage fire suppression. Review and discuss them as you develop your WFSAs and Delegations of Authority. Application of the principles should be apparent in Incident Action Plans and Incident Status Summaries (ICS-209). They should also be used to establish the measures of performance for Incident Management Teams and local fire suppression response.

The value of principles lies not only in their guidance but in the dialogue they generate. In this business of fire suppression the outcomes are seldom known ahead of time; there simply are no guarantees. However, through the review, discussion, and application of this body of principles in our decision-making and performance management processes, we can be consistent in our emphasis of safe, effective, and cost-efficient fire suppression.

/s/ Bernard Weingardt
Regional Forester

Enclosure: Comprehensive Approach to Fire Suppression Management

cc: Forest Fire Staff Officers
Geographical Interagency Coordination Centers (North and South)
FAM Directors

9/11 Thanks for the emails coming in reminding us that this is the 5th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93. Like most of you, we Abs will acknowledge the anniversary, each in our own way. Photos:  nywtc_pentagon  sept11.php

Here's what one Fire Team (Uncles Fire)  has planned. 9-11 Observance


9/11 To all federal wildland firefighters:

Sadly many of the same Senators who have recently blasted the budgetary "shell game" of the Forest Service and other land management agencies, are now poised to bail out the Agency with an additional emergency supplemental appropriations of $ 275 million for fire suppression: $175 million for the FS, $100 million for DOI.

Just one month ago, as of Aug 7th, the FWFSA received word from Capitol Hill that stated that $ 659 million had been spent on suppression so far with a balance remaining of $531 Million which included $500 million in a reserve account.

With 74 days remaining in the fiscal year, the FS was reporting to congress that for the period between July 10-31 the daily obligation rate was $6.5 million per day and that if they continued at that daily rate, an additional $481 million would be spent through the end of the year and thus sufficient funds would be available without initiating "fund transfers."

The suppression $$ is gone... The FWFSA firmly believes that this is a direct result of the diversion/siphoning of preparedness funds to non-fire programs causing preparedness resources necessary pursuant to the National Fire Plan to not be funded.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if resources aren't available when a fire is small, it gets bigger...and more expensive! Duh,,,,So much for Mark Rey's 99% initial attack capability!

We are urging these senators to "amend the amendment" by directing that sufficient sums of the emergency supplemental appropriations be used to compensate our federal wildland firefighters with portal to portal pay rather than wasting all these hundreds of millions of dollars on higher-priced resources.

Lot's of politics involved...Stay tuned.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/11 TITLE: Incident Management Teams BEWARE!

An ongoing news event we should all be aware of. It shows the risk we all face when reporting unsafe situations. Also, this information was found via a reporter utilizing the FOIA, it was not circulated widely. In talking with one of the reporters, two people currently on the team, and one previous member, the consensus is that they do NOT feel safe or free to report safety issues.

I have worked underneath a person involved in this situation and I know that these issues have surfaced earlier, but there was no support to voice any sort of protest.

This issue strikes at the core of our existence as firefighters, the freedom and ability to communicate unsafe situations before they result in injuries or death.

The articles can be found at:

9/11 RJM,

You are right on the money. USFS CNF in San Diego is an integral part of the emergency services response to the citizens of the county. Our brother and sisters in green stand side by side with us on a variety of calls not just wildland.

I wonder if there will ever be one Federal Fire agency (NPS,USFS,Fed Fire,BIA,FWFS,etc) ? I doubt the politicians would want that powerful a lobbying group to challenge them. We can only hope.

CDF Jake
9/11 Small Agency Fire Guy

You are right on. I read the "NPS Daily Report" each day as part of my news search when I get home from work. They seem to have "Fire Brigades", both structural and Wildland, and SAR teams that are made up of members of all disciplines in the service; not just "rangers".

Why do not all the Fed agencies do this? NPS has an active Emergency Medical response system with paramedics, again including all members of the staff; while USFS FF's worry that they will be disciplined for responding to medicals. Why are there EMT certified people in USFS if they are not allowed to freely do the job? Look at the posts of a few days ago on this.

I know that USFS CNF does respond, first in, to some medicals (mostly TC's) in parts of San Diego county. Likely because they share a dispatch center with CDF and other local resources, and someone hollers over to someone else and says "roll engine XX". Always (from what I can hear on scanner) run on the CDF frequencies though. Of course that makes sense as the ambulances are on CDF radio and a CDF (or other MVU dispatched) engine usually rolls on the incident. CNF engines also have been sent to extended CPR or other major medicals where they are close and additional manpower needed.

Mystified by our national priorities as much as you are.

9/11 9-11-01 Please honor the fallen, We Will Never Forget


Being one of the old guys on the Dept., I have seen this before. The yr I remember the most and I can't remember the yr exactly...... I suffer from CRS now and then...... was in the early 90's. The north state was on fire. The Bear is burning T-shirts got reprinted to say "The Bear is burning again". We local gov folks sat at home for what seemed like weeks and finally the Governor lit a fire under somebody's Butt and State OES got ordered to start ordering equipment. It looks like one of those years again. Reminds me of the Malibu fire of 93. The Equip from the north state was demobed and sent home when 50 MPH Santa Anna winds were predicted for the next day. Our local Eng. drove all night to get home to be dispatched back to So. Cal, 4 hr's later. So where am I going with all this ? Follow the money trail. It will almost always lead you to the reason why things don't seem to be running as they usually do. Somebody's squeezing Mr. Lincoln so hard a tear is running down his face.


9/11 Link to photos taken at Cavity Fire Superior NF.


Small Agency Fire Guy

9/10 Higbee Cut,

You said on 8/26....

"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."

Today R-1 is also showing Prescribed Fire commitments (9/10) on their "News and Notes Page" as initial attack fires escape containment..... R-4, R-6, and R-1 are also showing new wildland fire use (WFU) fires.

Another "friend" told me that the costs attributed to "fire suppression costs" (WFSU) this year included over 100 Million Dollars for WFU fires and WFU fires that were converted to wildfires. Go figure.... who would of thought that the feds would play a shell game with dollars and safety to meet a management goal and directive.

Dam* shell game.....

So, what is the priority? Costs or safety? Ask a wildland firefighter and you will get a true answer.

Folks are following the shell game..... and can give an accurate account to legislators and community leaders who have been mislead by a jacked up bureaucracy.

FWFSA Member For Ten Years

9/10 Hey Ken,

Sorry I didn't get to see you while you were in Boise last. I am so glad my
bud is doing better, I know we at the Foundation were worried about you.
It's tough not getting that endorphin rush from getting outside ~ you've
definitely been in my thoughts and soon we'll have to start planning for
Ken's Run 2007!

Everyone stay safe and enjoy what's left of summer.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
9/10 No Name,

Capable fire managers who have knowledge of fire behavior, human factors, and the Campbell System are on the Pigeon Fire (Bar Complex).

I am, as you probably are, concerned that the Bar Complex (Pigeon Fire) still shows a CRITICAL NEED for a FBAN along with numerous other critical needs. I am also concerned that IR flights are intermittent due to "someones" priority. I have been dealing with that "someone" for the entire fire season and it is time for that someone to step up and tell us why things are so f<snip>ed up this year.

I haven't seen any maps since Wednesday or any plans for strategy or tactics on the Pigeon Fire, but I am sure that a Type 1 Team is looking at the big picture and has the goal that every firefighter assigned to the Bar Complex will return home.

A big concern is that many of the fires in Northern California are having inversions setting in and not allowing adequate fire perimeters to be mapped for safety. Knowing where the fire is at is critical for safety of fire operations. "Someone" has made the decision that wilderness fires are of a low priority.

I am really concerned that someone spouted off that NICC and SoOps are closed to business for fires in NoOps. "Someone" made those decisions as were similar decisions made to tell IC's not to tell that critical resource needs would affect their chances of containment on their fires. I want to know that person's NAME. I never knew that a National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC) or the Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center (SoOps) had such a pull on the ways that NorCal fires were managed or suppressed.

I made a few phone calls.... neither the NICC or SoOps folks knew that they were CLOSED to requests from NoOps...... "Someone" who is spouting BS needs to step up and explain their direction to the folks. Neither the folks from NICC or SoOps know that they should not receive or fill orders from NoOps.

By the way, CDF and Local Government resources are sitting at home and not being utilized because of the decisions that "someone" has made. I sure would like to know who that "someone" is and what the he*l they are thinking?


P.S. - If you are that "someone" that I am speaking of, you should be ashamed of balancing costs vs. firefighter safety. Nothing trumps safety of our firefighters, or the protection of the communities we protect.

P.S.S. - If anyone has the R-5 Regional Forester Letter (R-5 Fire Director Letter) of September 1st.... Please share it. It hits to the root of the problem for firefighter and public safety.
9/10 Ab, Doug and all following the fire trigger points on the Pigeon Fire:

It sure looks like the fire is very near the bottom of the Manzanita Creek
above (or - NE of) Big Bar and is nearing that trigger point for a run up canyon.


Hot slope map from 9/5
Hot slope with SE wind (description on slide) from 9/5

No Name

It appears so and the weather is drier and hotter today and tomorrow with a SE wind. Ab.

9/10 Ken

Congratulations on your being able to run 2 months after such serious surgery.
It is a testimony to your training, guts and stamina; which, without question, the
record on this site attests to.

Wishing you well on your continued recovery.

9/10 Casey,

I wonder if the PIO discussing the Militia was auditioning for FOX News?

Over the past 20 years I have worked with many good folks from regular non fire jobs in important capacities in fire suppression organizations. This is my reality:

Fire Position     Career Title (Federal and State employees)

ENGB              Maintenance Worker
GIS Specialist   Wildlife Biologist, Assistant Refuge Manager
FFT2                Refuge Manager (He knew enough to let his professional fire staff
                         do their jobs and allow himself to be plugged in where he fit best.)
EMT                 Refuge Manager, District Ranger
SEC1                Enforcement Biologist, Assistant Refuge Manager
FBAN               Wildlife Biologist, District Ranger, Forester (Timber Management Specialist)
STEN/STCR     Resource Assistant
DIVS                 Forester

And we all know "ologists" that have been members of Type 1 and 2 teams including ICs.

Once upon a time in the Forest Service you could not get a job as a Forest Supervisor with out having been on a Type 2 team.

You might be able to query each federal agencies payroll system for those that had time charged to a FIRECODE number and their portion title. If we all put in all of the information that IQCS has room for it would be one stop to get this report. But that's way more work than I need to put into IQCS.

Small Agency Fire Guy

9/10 Dear MJ:

HR 5697, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act as introduced is a separate and distinct element to the FWFSA's longstanding goal(s) of properly classifying our federal wildland firefighters; properly compensating them through portal to portal pay and including their hazard pay as base pay for retirement purposes (HR 408) as well as other legislative initiatives that will be pursued during the next congress. These include:

1) Basic health care for temporary firefighters
2) Hazard Pay for firefighters while on prescribed burns.

It would certainly be nice to craft a nice, neat package of everything we want in one bill. Unfortunately that is not practical when dealing with congress. As a result, we have had to work tirelessly for years to get to where we are with respect to congress' understanding of the issues that affect our firefighters.

The issue of proper classification for federal wildland firefighters has been discussed for over 20 years. So too has portal to portal pay as well as other ideas to better provide for our federal wildland firefighters.

For many years, the FWFSA was affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters for the sole purpose of pursuing the FWFSA's legislative goals and objectives as referenced above. With all dues respect to the IAFF, despite years of repeated resolutions being offered and approved at IAFF conventions authorizing the IAFF's Government Affairs department to pursue such legislation, nothing was ever offered by the IAFF specifically for federal wildland firefighters. As a result in 2003, the FWFSA disaffiliated from the IAFF to handle its own legislative agenda.

Even before the disaffiliation, the FWFSA, with no assistance from the IAFF, secured legislation to eliminate the OT pay cap for wildland firefighters in 1999-2000. Congressman Pombo did the House version while, ironically (based on recent incidents) Senator Conrad Burns did the senate version. The bill language was subsequently passed and signed into law. Depending on your current position, many federal wildland firefighters are benefiting financially from that legislation.

The next legislative effort was for portal to portal pay and the inclusion of hazard pay as base pay for retirement purposes. Current legislation in congress seeks this benefit.

We had hoped that OPM & the Agency would voluntarily take up the classification issue. The classification matter is an administrative remedy not usually requiring legislation. OPM & the Agencies can do this on their own. They have simply refused to do so.

In the summer of 2005 during congressional hearings on the portal to portal legislation, Rep. John Porter (R-NV) told the OPM representative that these employees were "firefighters & heroes, not a bunch of technicians." At the hearing, OPM agreed to initiate the development of a new wildland firefighter series. We made it very clear at the time that we did not feel the 401 series nor the 0081 was appropriate. We felt that a new series which more accurately reflected the all-risk nature of the duties performed by federal wildland firefighters in the 21st century was necessary.

Quite simply, Rep. Porter got tired of waiting and contacted the FWFSA several months ago to ask if we would mind if his subcommittee (The Federal Workforce & Agency Organization Subcommittee) crafted legislation to mandate OPM to develop the new series. Thus the legislation is simply to force OPM to do something it should have done years and years ago.

The classification legislation, along with the portal to portal legislation and any other bills introduced subsequently, will simply be elements, or pieces to the master plan of securing the pay and benefits all of our federal wildland firefighters have deserved for far too long.

I certainly wish all of this could be done overnight. I don't mind telling you that the pressure on me and the FWFSA to "deliver the goods" is enormous. We are a relatively small organization competing with ones much larger and who have far greater resources than we do. As a result, we have had to work harder to access congress, educate its members and secure support for our issues. However the current legislation should give fire fighters a clear understanding that the FWFSA now has the ear of many in congress who now understand what needs to be done.

Since you have visited the web site, I'd encourage you to visit the News & Legislation link and click on the "Navigating Congress" article. It should give you a clear picture of just how incredibly difficult it is to deal with congress, especially when you're up against an agency which has no interest in providing its firefighters with the pay & benefits they deserve.

We have a strong voice but it certainly can get stronger. The potential membership for the FWFSA nationwide is huge. It starts with you recognizing that you have a voice in your future. All the FWFSA does is harness the many voices out there from all five land-management agencies and amplifies that voice where it is needed.

I hope that answers your question(s) about the classification legislation. If not, please feel free to contact me directly at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577. OR better yet, go back to the web site and join us -- if you haven't already...

Casey Judd
Business Manager
9/10 Ab and All.

Yes, WHY are there more fatalities? The fire service has an excellent ICS system which is designed for any type of incident, good equipment if not superior to the past, more aircraft, a fire shelter and for the most part more resources today.

If you have not seen this link before it is pretty good to keep up to date on fatalities nationwide:
"Line of Duty Death"

Also, as a side note, the Dep. of Justice works hand in hand here for the payment of Line of Duty Death.

In addition, at least in most wildland agencies the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Boise & the Firefighter Memorial Emmitsburg are notified. In Calif. there is an application on line for names being placed on the wall in Sacramento too.

As you see this is still a real concern with me even though I am retired. Compassion for those who have lost a LOVED ONE is and should always be FIRST.

Everybody Stay SAFE.

Retired BC

9/10 I am inspired to make my first post to They Said today, the first anniversary of Ken Perry's 52 mile run to benefit the WFF! I am his wife and running partner, Wendy.

One year ago, Ken was running. If you were anywhere along the route on that day, you remember the excitement and inspiration that he created as he ran. It turned into a much bigger day than we ever anticipated, and the amount of money that was pledged and donated was incredible!

Since then, Ken worked with many other people to plan another run, a 104-miler this past June. Between those two runs, Ken has brought in over $70,000 to the WFF. No one is more proud of him than I am!

About a month and a half after the 104-mile run, Ken had scheduled back surgery, an extensive procedure that took almost 8 hours. Then, a week after being discharged, he had emergency back surgery for a cerebral spinal fluid leak. His recovery has been difficult, but I'm excited to report that today, on the one year anniversary of running an ultramarathon, Ken ran 2 miles! As we ran today, we talked about last year, and our memories of that amazing day. We sure wish the winds would have been as calm as they were today!!

We are inspired to re-join the 52 Club, and I hope many of you who experienced either of Ken's ultra-runs will be too. It's the least we can do for the men and women who are working so hard to protect our wildlands, and will continue to do so for many more weeks... maybe months. Here's a picture of Ken this morning on his first post-surgery run (looks pretty happy, doesn't he?), as well as a close-up of his scar!!

Wendy Perry

Welcome Wendy. Cool pics. Ab.

9/10 JS,

The Tripod fire is in Washington, your news link is about a fatality in UTAH, somethings mixed up.


JS is having trouble keeping track too. Mellie sent in the beginning of this page. Thanks, Mellie.

Fallen and Injured Firefighters, 2006

Readers, if you know the links or articles or contact info for any of these fallen or injured firefighters, please send them in. Most have been mentioned or discussed on theysaid. Ab.

9/10 JS,

Here's the links to the Devil's Den 24- and 72-hour reports, as well as the Inciweb page.

vfd cap'n

www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Devil's_Den_24_and_72hour_2006.pdf (pdf file)
9/10 JS

I don't believe the investigation report on Spencer Koyle's death is out yet. What is difficult for me is that we have had so many deaths and burn injuries this season that unless I knew the person or the forest or fire they were on, it's hard to keep track. Why are we having so many?

Perhaps it would be good to make a list with a link to the 24 hour report and another link to the investigation report.

For those who have survived, a note or contact helps. Maybe a list could also summarize how to contact the firefighter or family with good wishes.

Just a thought.


9/10 I did not hear of the Firefighter fatality on the Tripod fire on August 17.

All that was said is someone died and that more info would come through.

I found this article of this story with photos and still would like more info
on this tragic loss.



9/9 Re: Pacific Wildfire's Jobs Page ad

For those of you who checked the Jobs Page within the last 24 hours or so, there was an error on the hourly wages paid by Pacific Wildfire. The pay starts at $10.00 per hour, but goes up to $25.00 p/hour depending on experience. My apologies for the error. OA
9/9 Forest Service "MISinformation" Officer Dumbfounds Associated Press

The Associated Press is currently working with NFFE, the FWFSA and others in an attempt to provide stories as to the Forest Service's "end run" on outsourcing positions that have collateral fire duties.

To the astonishment of an Associated Press reporter, a HR PIO for the Forest Service from the Washington Office (WO) stated categorically when responding to questions about the outsourcing plans and its impact on the fire program that "the 'militia' is a myth" and suggested in no uncertain terms that only permanent and temporary firefighters respond to fire incidents.

Needless to say this likely comes as a shock to all of us that have read the Foundational Doctrine, GAO reports and more specifically to those who have, and/or continue to perform collateral fire duties.

To strengthen the press stories, should you have any factual commentary or documents which you'd like to share to illustrate that the "militia" (or whatever term suits you) has existed and still exists and is an expected integral part of the Agency's resources regardless of the number of those actually responding continuing to decline, please feel free to pass along comments, attachments etc to cjudd@fwfsa.org.


9/9 I have seen it all now......

This is what is posted on a WildWeb page....

09/09/2006   18:54   BDF-8769   RO/VANCE/   Resource Order   JUNGLE BUTT C5XQ

See, there is humor still out there.....

Rogue Rivers

Haw Haw, or maybe a typo misspelling of Jungle Butte??? ... I like  the humor hypothesis better. Ab.

9/9 For anyone interested, here are some links to burn treatment and support resources.

Dr. Richard Grossman, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Dr. Peter Grossman, M.D.

Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation

Firefighters Quest for Burn Survivors

American Burn Association

The Phoenix Society
9/9 FWFSA members,
This is language right out of the Wildland Firefighters Classification Act bill, right off the FWFSA site,


Nothing in this Act shall be considered to require any change in the pay, benefits, or other terms or conditions of employment that apply with respect to any category of employees or positions.

How will this help anything if Pay, Benefits, or Terms of Employment (tours) are not increased?

I guess it's a start, but just wondering


9/9 Sin Nombre-

Since when is a shot crew being kegged on their own forest considered available for IA? If they are being held for "IA", why aren't the crews spread out over drought areas and broken into IA loads?


p.s.- Everybodies' accounts should be brimming now, so get your 52 club done!
9/9 blackliner,

couldn't agree more. not only IHCs, but aircraft as well.
coming from R4 to R2 is an interesting change. cya.... maybe.
i call it... "short on experienced field personnel".

9/9 While checking out what I've missed on this website I see folks stuck on the home unit while nationally we're at preparedness level 5. I read where a fire behavior analyst is stuck doing "land management crap", engines sitting around, crews being pigeon-holed, and I know of places where folks are being held back from fire assignments because DR's want to meet targets. The big cheese in the WO sent a letter out directing line officers to support fire but I know DR's and others that are dismissing this letter. Obviously we have a problem.

I read the notes from Vicki Minor and others expressing their concern about how our brothers and sisters that are burned on the job are not covered properly because of a lack of policy (I guess forestry technicians don't get burned?). I know of other brothers and sisters that have been injured on the job that do not receive good medical treatment or disability because of policy and OWCP issues. Obviously we have a problem.

I know that we are unable to recruit or retain employees because of pay and benefit issues, and improper classification. The investment that we make in these employees is wasted for our agency when they move on to better paying jobs with better benefits and proper job classification. Obviously there's a problem.

Fire borrowing is occurring because the WO decided to build a "Walmart Supercenter" called the Albuquerque Service Center which cost fire management upwards of $500,000,000 or some obscene amount of money. The number of fire suppression resources were reduced at the beginning of the biggest fire season on record for the ASC. Obviously we have a problem.

There are other problems that I haven't listed but I know how to fix the problem... how about you?

R4 FWFSA member

Ab sez try this: FWFSA



Services for Rob Stone, CDF Battalion Chief:

Tuesday, September 12, at 1400 hours
Visalia First Assembly Church on the corner of Acres Road and Caldwell Avenue in Visalia.
Other details, including procession instructions, will follow.


Services for CDF/ DynCorp Pilot George “Sandy” Willett, Jr.:

Rosary Service (family & friends)
Tuesday September 12, 2006 at 6:30 p.m.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church 10355 Hanford-Armona Road Hanford, Ca.

Funeral Mass (family & friends)
Wednesday September 13, 2006 at 10:00 a.m.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church 10355 Hanford-Armona Road Hanford, Ca.

Memorial service to follow at the:
Kings County Fairgrounds 12:00 p.m. 810 So. 10th Avenue Hanford, Ca.

For further information on either of these services, please call:
(559) 636-4107 or 4108, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

9/9 JP,

Great to hear that you are doing well and still thinking about the fire service. You were great and helped so many FF’s better understand the practical nature of wildland fire fighting and safety. You showed a passion for your job which everyone recognized and respected. Your name and initials still ring throughout the fireland halls of SoCal and the LAC. You know how you handled the Glen Allen Fire burnover emotions and the FF rehab. You know how you handled the Calabasas Fire burnover. Each burnover showed your personal touch for people and your commitment to all of us learning from and better understanding fire behavior and FF safety. I particularly learned a lot from you which was really about being a nice person, leader and competent fire officer. Remember how we would laugh about how Gary Nelson would have a Mad magazine inside the IAP? Ryland was memorizing the IAP and Nelson was having fun reading about Alfred E. Newman (you know who the Nelson characters were!). Lyle Burkhart fit in there somewhere. You guys were special to so many people. Just this last winter, I helped teach a S-400 and S-430 class at LAC Camp 2. You were everywhere with most every discussion.

Take care, be safe, have fun and live the FF dream…

John Hawkins, CDF/Riverside County Fire

9/9 Ab,

Yesterday, I was worried about my son, a <snip>
Hotshot, observing his birthday on the Rockland fire
in eastern Idaho. Took me back to my own birthday in
Vietnam '68, when I had just arrived and no one knew
it was my birthday, very lonely.

At chow yesterday, my son's fellow firefighters found
a "Strawberry Shortcake" cake, crossed out "Emily 6",
decorated it with a flaming stick and sang happy
birthday to him.

What a great bunch of people. I hope Emily got
another cake for her 6th birthday.

Hotshot Dad

Haw Haw. Hotshot Dad, Ab snipped the crew name. Unspoken hotshot image has it that rookie hotshots spring fully formed, but somewhat inexperienced, from the fire ethers. They are sorely embarrassed if identified too closely by a parent on an internet forum. (They've even been known to send in photos of themselves and their best bud and later have us remove them. This is especially difficult to live down as they advance to become Squaddie, Capt and Supt.) As it is, your son may be called Emily by his crew for the rest of the season; when all is said and done, he might rather have had an unrecognized birthday. Haw haw, but it's wonderful he has you for a dad and we're glad you contribute here.

9/9 Thanks MJ for the advice.

I'll check the LMP and forest ops plan. I was once told by my FMO (who is retired now) that there is an un-written rule on the forest that you have to go out twice to get signed off. I have quite a few "quality" assignments from folks at differing gov. agencies on my book so maybe the tool will swing my way this time when I turn it in.

On hoarding resources, I am acting as crew rep/IC right now with a contract engine that is just sitting in the compound not doing anything. Earlier in the season, I was crew rep/IC with two engines and a hand crew just sitting around the compound waiting for something to start on the forest. Yeah its called "severity" but on my forest we don't get the starts unless it is lightning. Finally ended up that the hand crew asked to be demobed so they could go to a fire. There is no reason why we can't let the contract crews out to a fire and order up a quality agency type III engine w/crew, cost half the price, and free up some single resource folks to work on their engines for local IAs .

Middle aged fire dog

9/8 JP,

Thank you for your passion about firefighter safety. You said,


"Fire Fighters, we have chosen a very dangerous profession we are entitled to the best medical care available when we are injured."

Federal Wildland Firefighters, and co-operators on federal fires don't have the luxury of a well defined policy or protocol for the treatment of burn injuries. This needs to change and will change for the betterment of firefighter safety in the future.

The CDF Policy is so simple, but so correct..... it relies on the expertise of burn treatment specialists to evaluate EVERY burn injury (even ones that might appear to be minor)...... If you get burned.... you go to a Burn Center for evaluation, and if needed, you get the best and most appropriate treatment.

Thank you to everyone I have chatted with, e-mailed, and shared phone calls with over the last two days..... A special thanks to the LA County folks who have traveled to the Grossman Burn Center to provide support to their federal firefighter brothers.......

It is a tough time in the wildland fire community right now.... over the last two days, I watched some of the strongest people I know break down a little bit... some wept, some cried, some just got real silent..... some got pissed off. This year has been tough.... really tough with all of our losses and injuries..... Each of us deals with our losses and injuries in our own ways..... but all of us.... and I mean ALL OF US.... no matter how things happen, WE ALL seek to improve firefighter safety in any way we can and make sure our families, our friends, and our co-workers are protected.....

Ya'all keep safe and call BS where BS is due when it comes to firefighter safety!!! Communications is key.


9/8 Another CDF BC,

Amen Brother........
9/8 John JP Harris LACOFD ret,

I was in a crewboss class at Little T many years ago
and had the privilege of sitting in on your class
related to fatalities and burnovers. The slide show
you presented with photos and stories of firefighters
that died or were badly burned stays with me even

I always carry with me the lessons that you shared
with us that day. Decisions that I make as a crewboss
can take or forever change the lives of people on my
crew, and leave family members and coworkers left
behind to grieve. I have been a safer
firefighter/crewboss/division/etc as a result of this
presentation. Fighting fire aggressively but
providing for safety first. I just want to say

another FS Wildland Firefighter
9/8 Pacific Wildfire is losing some crewmembers returning to college.  They are very active and looking for immediate help.  See their new announcement on the Jobs Page. OA.
9/8 Ab,

I have been told that a high level (big wig) USDI fire employee is interested in making a federal burn treatment policy so that we don't repeat some of the failures of this fire season and years past.

I wonder if any high level (WO) folks from the Forest Service will rise to the challenge for safety and get a treatment policy in place before next fire season?

The info from the CDF training package seems like a good template to start with. Obviously, there will be some road blocks such as the antiquated OWCP process, but I am sure the various employee associations and unions can get together and push the agencies to overcome any barrier to firefighter safety.

Thanks to Vicki and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for everything you do for our fallen and injured firefighters, their families, their friends, and all of us!!!!.


P.S. - A friend who is a Risk Management Specialist said that OSHA could become involved if appropriate treatment for workplace injuries is not provided by an employer. We all know what happens when OSHA gets involved when agencies are reactive rather than proactive on safety issues. A Federal Burn Treatment Policy would show that the agencies are being proactive on a known safety issue and looking out for the best interests of the troops.... that would be a much appreciated change in the ways we have been doing business post-1994.
9/8 TC,

Don't know who gave the order, the facilitator on the AM conference call said it....
About drawdown, we are out of crews too, all gone to Ralston, only Engines,
hope nothing new lights.

Back to creepin',


9/8 blackliner,

I can see that your ass is all chapped about Rocky Mountian crews being held in-region, but I just looked at the RMA resource status report (www.fs.fed.us/r2/fire/daily_resource_status2.php) for 9/8 and it shows only one IHC crew available - all the others are in MT or ID - and only 5 Type 2 IA crews available. Now, here's some quick MAC Group basics for you: a key thing to keep in mind is that the Number 1 Priority is firefighter and public safety, right? And the Number 2 priority is...? The answer - Initial Attack. That means effective IA is a higher priority for resources than escaped fires. I imagine you can see why that is. If IA is the highest priority and they have high indices in the RMA, then wouldn't it be the wrong move to let all of the crews go out of the GACC?

Sin Nombre
9/8 Sancho,

I know that notes are taken at the daily NoOps IC Conference call.
Maybe someone should submit a FOIA request for copies of the
notes in question?

Rogue Rivers
9/8 Look at the amount of crews on the fire in south ops and compared to some of the other fires in the nation hmmmm wonder how many are IHCs....

Also to the person with the Task Book issues:

I too was subjected to having a signed off task book but the "FIRE STAFF" said I needed to go Off-Forest for 1 more???? like a 14 day fire is going to make you that more qualified??? I have seen many FFs that should probably not even be ICT-4's yet there out there being division supervisors.

Signed R&R and back-out

9/8 Sancho - just curious if that direction is coming from the Acting R5

On the subject of resource shortage??? I know my Forest is down to
drawdown, we have only 4 engines and no crews left to guard the home front.
We do have a CWN type III helo which we've listed as available, but no one
is asking for it yet. In the meantime we're making good use of it
monitoring internal burning on some fires we've already contained.

I know that some folks are playing games though. A park service FMO
advised our dispatch center that he had a type 3 engine available, but when
we tried to send it to Happy Camp, for some reason he changed his

9/8 Ab,

There are problems associated with the fact that our wildland firefighters never die or get injured in the town where they live.

The following logistical and financial issues became very clear when I went to the Las Vegas Burn Center to visit the two Eldorado shots that were burned:

  • First, the doctors would not give the family enough clear information. Not enough communication; incomplete briefing. We finally called the the hospital Chief of Staff and the family advocacy professionals at the Las Vegas Burn center to get critical information to the family and/or the firefighter's liaison.
  • Second, members of both of these families of the injured came to Las Vegas and stayed away from home, work and extended family support for as long as 30 days. One family wanted to know when their son could move home to a burn hospital in Kentucky and the other, home to a burn hospital in California. They were told the OWCP would not pay to move the firefighter, no matter what the reason.

    Finally, one firefighter and his parents flew home to Kentucky. The 52 CLUB purchased Dad's ticket in regular seating and the firefighter and Mom flew first class, the 52 Club paying for his mom's ticket and the FS paying for his ticket. His mother needed to sit in the aisle seat so no one would bump him: he was still in pretty fragile condition. Unfortunately, there is no money in the fed system to help pay expenses of the family caregivers who must travel or stay with the injured.
  • Third, hospitals can be very territorial. The Las Vegas Burn Center and, more recently, the Fresno Hospital  - where the burned BLM firefighter was cared for - did not want to give up these patients.

I would like to see Congress change the ruling in OWCP so that after a burned wildland firefighter is stable, he or she could be transported at OWCP's cost to a burn center closer to home. This would alleviate some of the hardship placed on the firefighters and their families. The families of firefighters in the incidents I described above were the firefighter's parents. Imagine the logistical nightmare if a spouse with little kids had to travel to a remote burn hospital and be there for 30 days to support their firefighter.

On the issue of hospitals releasing burn victims too early and/or not referring them for Burn Unit care: I just spoke with Mike Sandoval of the Eldorado IHC. He said that while two Eldorado hot shots were flown to the Las Vegas Burn Center, the Winnemucca Hospital released a third burned Eldorado hot shot who also should have been flown to the Burn Center for special attention to his injuries. He said proper assessment, treatment, patient referral, care and transport closer to home of burned firefighters is a battle that all of us need to fight for.

How do we get a nation-wide wildland firefighter burn policy? How do we get OWCP to change its policy concerning transport of injured wildland firefighters to hospitals, including burn hospitals, closer to home? We need to figure that out and make it so.

Mike Sandoval, I need to publicly say that you touched my life deeply with the care you provide for your fellows and their families. I felt the hurt in your heart and saw the compassion on your face for the experience you shared with your firefighter in that burn center. True compassion shines from the inside out. To you Mike, and to others of you who tend to our injured... Thank You... Thank You...on behalf of all of us...

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Ab note:
The 52 CLUB has provided a great deal of support for families of our injured this year. These family are overwhelmed with emotion when given this support, partly because they're relieved to have someone smooth their way in confusing and hurting times; but moreso, in simply recognizing that this money comes from our firefighter community who care and are concerned about them and their loved ones, who are our fire "family" as well.

If you have not yet joined the 52 CLUB, please do so, to continue to support the Foundation's helping ways. It's very easy to do with a phone call or on the web. The Foundation is our funnel. May it continue to run full and overflowing.

9/8 K7W,

I can't believe it took you 2 years to complete a FFT2 taskbook. The 'o' tasks can be signed off in ANY simulation, in the station, or even while still in basic 32 fireschool! A fire assignment is not even needed for FFT2, so someone was either misinforming you, or didn't take the time to actually READ the info in the front of the taskbook. It explains how to fill them out, when they expire, and other info some folks don't read.

For USFS folks, the minimum number of assignments to become qualified is usually either written in the Forest Operations plan, Fire Management plan, or another document. Most forests have some kind of review committee, (required after the 30-mile burnover) that makes training rules and decisions. On my Forest, we require at least 2 'quality' assignments to become fully qualified. (A Quality assignment is defined here as at least 4 shifts, with Hotline required.)

If someone is familiar with your training, qualifications, and quality of work, they might not need you to do as many assignments as someone they have never met or worked with, or have not been able to complete tasks after many tries in their book. I once met someone who had 10 assignments as CRWB in a taskbook, and was unable to complete the book. This person should not have been a trainee at that level, they were not ready.

There also is a class available on how to sign off taskbooks. It used to be taught in the mid-'90's, after taskbooks were introduced. I don't know if that's out now.

Some folks still don't know how to fill the blocks out correctly, even though the info is all right there. They don't put their phone numbers, they don't put down their INCIDENT job titles, etc. Or, the Final evaluator will sign off the block as "should be certified", but not fill out the inside part of the inside front cover. All things that make someone need another assignment. If folks would fill them out properly, and read the info provided by NWCG and in the taskbooks themselves, these questions would not even be necessary.

Good Luck, hope you get signed off,


9/8 Something happened on the CA-North Zone I.C. Conference call this A.M. that folks should know. This info is sensitive, but should be told.

All of the Teams were told to NOT put on their ICS-209's that "lack of Resources are contributing to not meeting objectives". Even if it's true, Region says to NOT put it down, or it will make the USFS look bad. I couldn't believe this. They need to get resources to these fires, or quit complaining that they are still burning. But asking teams to stretch the truth for political reasons seems out of line to me.......


9/8 RMM-

There is definitely some serious CYA going on in the Mile High City. Holding teams and crews may make them feel better about the security of their positions on the Ops committee, but really does our region a disservice in the view of the rest of the regions. Early season, R3 was kicking crews up here as needed - now we are supposed to return the favor, right? R1, 4, 5 and 6 are all way understaffed with going fires... but hey, R2 might burn.

9/8 Re the Ralston fire on the Tahoe NF (relocated from the Hot List Forum):

Oplinger's Type 1 Team will be taking over this incident on Saturday.

Question: Can a Type 1 IMT manage a fire better than a Type 2 IMT
when no resources are given to either team?.... keep safe and those
around you safe..... Things are pretty jacked up right now and they
aren't getting safer or better anytime soon...

9/8 Ab, Vicki, Lobotomy, Readers,

Los Angeles County Fire also has had several SAD CASES OF INADEQUATE CARE FOR FIRE FIGHTERS BURNED.

In 1970 we had two members burned critically on a grass fire one of them nearly died at a very good hospital, BUT NOT A BURN CENTER. these firefighters wives complained loud and clear, it was at that time that LACOFD discovered what is now called GROSSMAN BURN CENTER. Both members were flown to Grossman Burn Center. (at that time I believe it was named Brotman Burn Center).

It was also at that time that one of our chaplains started ALISA ANN BURN FOUNDATION with donations that came into the department for the two burned Fire Fighters, (actually the Captain and Engineer) which I believe has changed its name California Burn Foundation..

I don't believe LACOFD utilizes a written policy as paramedic protocol requires transporting to the nearest emergency hospital: however every LACOFD FIRE FIGHTERS UNDERSTANDS THAT AS SOON AS AIRWAY IS STABLE THE BURNED FF WILL BE TRANSFERRED TO GROSSMAN BURN CENTER.

Those of you who have been trained as EMT's have been taught that in order to go to a burn center you need to have a certain percentage of a hand, face, ect. burned in order to go to a burn center...THIS IS BS, IF YOU ARE BURNED ON DUTY, GET TO A BURN CENTER..

Fire Fighters, we have chosen a very dangerous profession we are entitled to the best medical care available when we are injured.

By the way there is a real good reason for going to the closest emergency hospital first. as at times at a Burn Center that no doctors are on duty.

John JP Harris LACOFD ret.

9/8 Hey Blackliner,

The brain trust in Denver is watching their backs (CYA type of thing)
after these articles came out the beginning of the week. See

They're under a microscope. Doesn't make sense to me to be holding
resources (they're holding teams, too - not just type 1 crews), but I
believe they are definitely erring on the side of caution due to the heat
from ridicule (which is deserved).

9/8 Re Mapping Software:


It sounds like RedZone RZ3 has many of the features you are looking for. RedZone is incident response mapping software designed specifically for wildland fire. You can load aerials, topos, other GIS layers, draw your own fire perimeters and plot ICS points. Downloading from a Garmin GPS is quite easy and information is saved to a GIS compatible shapefile. When I go on a fire, I hook up a Garmin 18 to my laptop in my vehicle and RedZone displays my current location. It’s great for GPSing dozer line.

Lastly, we are working with several companies to display the location of other responders using GPS enabled radios. It’s new technology but very cost effective and simple to use.

If you would like to talk about your needs, give me a call at (303) 386-3955 or email me at cwoodward@redzonesoftware.com. Our web site is www.redzonesoftware.com.


Welcome Clark.
Readers, for future reference, there's a permanent link to RedZone Software on the Classifieds page under software. Ab.

9/8 It was just like getting socked in the gut to learn that Rob was killed the other day at work.

He embodied everything we like in a CDF’er. When you were in a tight spot or getting into a tangle, there would be Rob, ready to jump in there with you and cover your back or be right in the thick of it -- true warrior. We need more of him that’s for dam* sure. The best part about Rob was that he was a good person too and very likeable -- good people as we like to say. He was taken way too early and he had a lot yet to give CDF. That part is selfish-the real loss is for his young family and all of those things they will not have him for.

The news left me once again realizing what we do is a dangerous business and it can be over in a second. It’s a good outfit, but the family piece is much more important.

Dam* it anyway.

“Another CDF BC”
9/8 JS

I recently set-up my truck for use with a laptop and GPS unit. RAM mounts
has mounting systems specific to trucks; took me about 30 minutes to put
together and mount in my truck. If you are using ARC GIS, there is a GPS
extension that will allow you to utilize real-time moving maps. You would
need your corporate data layers loaded into your C drive. You may also need
a "dongle" which is a USB device that has your corporate license information
loaded on it; Probably have to get with your GIS folks to get one.
Otherwise, ARC GIS won't open unless you're hooked into your network.

I can use either a Bluetooth GPS unit on my dash for a wireless set-up, or
plug a Garmin into my laptop with either a USB or serial connector. Delorme
has Topo USA 6.0 out, which contains topo's for the entire US, which can all
be loaded on you C drive. This can also be used with a GPS unit for real
time use, and also give you routing information, lodging, exits, etc.....
With purchase you also get $100 worth of aerial photo downloads; might be
enough to cover your area and give you two options.

For downloading your Garmin into GIS, go to this website and download the
free DNR garmin extension.
This extension also allows you to have real-time data with your GIS system.

Haven't made it into tracking resources yet. Hope this helps.

9/8 Ab: For those that still don’t use the Hot List.

The Ralston Fire (CA-TNF-1443) started on 9-5-2006 at 1551 hours near Mosquito Ridge Rd and the Mosquito Narrows. This is approximately 7 miles east of the Town of Foresthill in Placer County. By 0600 on 9-6-06, the fire was 200 acres @ 0% contained and was well established in heavy timber and brush (Lat: 39° 1´ 0" Long: 120° 42´ 9"). The fire burned actively all day and by nightfall was 700 acres, still with no containment.

Nor-Cal IMT 1 (Sinclair) was requested.

Today, the fire made strong runs towards the area of Michigan Bluff as well as up canyon. The fire spotted across the Middle Folk of the American River to the south and has established itself on the El Dorado Forest at about 200 acres. The fire has also burned down to the north fork of the American River. Should the fire jump the north fork, the area of Michigan Bluff will be immediately threatened.

Current 209 shows 1900 acres @ 0% contained. Critical resource needs: 2 Type 1 helicopters, 20 Type III engines, 20 Type 1 or Type 2 IA crews. Due to the very steep, rugged, inaccessible terrain and limited resources, it is not likely that containment objectives will be met. As of this post time, the fire is burning very actively and the header can be seen of the Sac. Valley floor. Nor-Cal IMT 1 (Sinclair) has taken command.

9/8 Hey All-

Looks like the brain trust in Denver has made another brilliant (can you taste the sarcasm yet?) decision regarding shot crews. All R2 crews presently in region will be held due to high fire indices.

So much for good utilization of our national resources! Somebody needs to let them in on a little secret- The Entire West Has High Fire indices! Holding crews during PL5 just in case... anyone in D.C. see a problem here?

9/7 Zimm,

I bet you know, but I'll say for the rest of the board, WA State
Mob has very specific rules before it can be enacted, including
structures in a fire district threatened and activation of all local
mutual aid resources. I agree we are a ready reserve, but the fire has
to come out of the hills. I called my local interagency dispatch center
today to tell them I'm available, but it sounds like they didn't want to
hassle with putting Vollies in ROSS, can't say I blame them. I'd just
as soon go with my local engines when State Mob calls, my manifest is
already filled out, all we need is a fire and resource #.


Good day to you. First and foremost, I must thank you for the wonderful site. For us in the South we seem to be a little behind in times and even slower in finding out at the ground level of changes that could affect not only careers but the safety of our firefighter and that is where your site serves to keep us enlightened and for that we thank you.
I tried posting on the board but could not directly so I will try this route.
Was just wondering if anyone out there could help me with some advice. We are trying to develop a system where we can have a laptop in ic rigs loaded with digital orthoquads and other historical data (ie. gis files showing old plowlines, recent cut areas, access, etc) which I think we could do no problem. Where we need the help is we would like to be able to see real time where we are at on these images and even track resources if possible. Any ideas out there or contacts for more info. would be greatly appreciated.
Also needed is a good software suite for downloading garmin files into gis files.
Thanks and yall stay safe out there.


Welcome JS. Glad you kept trying. Ab.

9/7 Re: Wildland Firefighter Burn Injuries


On federal wildland fires, there is a lack of a clear, well defined, and consistent policy for the treatment of burn injuries. This has been an on-going problem for years, and occasionally results in inadequate treatment, inappropriate treatment, or a complete lack of treatment for burn injuries on federal wildland fires.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has an excellent burn treatment policy. It was developed during the 1970's following a similar burn accident in the former CDF Region VI. Back then, a CDF firefighter was treated and released from a local General Hospital following a burn injury in Hesperia, CA only to have to be re-admitted to the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks for skin grafting, infection control, and rehabilitation.

The CDF burn treatment policy is lengthy but very simple to paraphrase..... All burn injuries will be evaluated, and if needed, treated at a burn center by specialists.

I have requested a digital version of the CDF policy (pdf or .doc) from a friend of mine who is working at the CDF Headquarters in Sacramento. I have also requested digital copies of the LA County, San Diego City, and Ventura County Fire Department policies. If anyone has other specific burn treatment policies and/or protocols from their departments, could you please forward them to Ab.

Creating a federal policy for the treatment of burn injuries is critical for safety. This is an important step to closing a known "safety hole" in the Swiss Cheese Model. I hope the Region 5 Safety First Committee will take a look at this as an action item needing correction ASAP.


P.S. - There is also a CDF Burn Treatment Policy Training and Quiz available from Marin County Fire Department at:
www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/FR/main/fire/4300/4328/4328-3/4328-3.tlp.PDF (pdf file)
9/7 Dear Ab,

I'm not in the government system, and I don't know how the system can be fixed.

What I read about the burntover firefighters' condition weeks ago and what I saw and heard first hand when I met with one of them the other day were a long way apart.

I don't know if folks are taught in the government system to put a positive spin on burned firefighters or not. In this case, words and reality did not line up, not by a long shot.

I do know this. It's hard for all of us to deal with injury and death. It's especially hard to deal with the sights and smells and sounds that accompany burn injury. We never have enough experience to do it. Humans want and need to keep positive thoughts so we can live our lives effectively and function well. We want and need to think it could never happen to us. We also know it could, even while our minds deny the possibility. We want to be helpful but often we don't know how. This is one of those what-you-call "infrequent events with a high risk outcome", something we don't train for.

When hearing that someone has died or is injured, our first human thought is often "I'm glad it wasn't me." If they're a friend, later we feel guilty we had that thought. That thought is human. It's what happens afterwards that counts. Do we distance ourselves from the injured? Do we dismiss the severity of their situation by putting on a positive spin? Do we take the word of some small hospital, in some small community, distant from home that the burns are minor to medium even as the blisters are developing and they're released from the hospital? What takes priority if there also needs to be an investigation?

People who are injured are in no condition to be making critical decisions. Those around them are usually in no condition to be making decisions. Who advocates for them with doctors/hospitals that may not have burn experience? Who steps up and cares with enough knowledge and experience to insure their best possible outcomes?

Delay in treatment or the wrong treatment can create lifelong disability in burn cases. Let's see if we can fix the system and/or create something much better for these and future burnt firefighters and their families.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

9/7 Mosquito, and PH,

On my last post, I was answering someone who "wished North Zone had fires and no resources showed up". He didn't seem to care if homes burned, he just wanted his cash even when he was in camp. Said some were doing "stupid work". That was holding open line, suppression rehab, and monitoring the fire for escape. We didn't consider this "stupid work", but necessary to secure the fire. Let's put out one at a time before we have to come back and start over again!!

That pushed my buttons. If someone is WORKING, they should get paid, no problem. Even standby for a fire.  I pay folks 16 hours a day with H-pay, even over 24 in IA, when we have earned it, but someone has to watch the budget $$$, or Congress will stop giving it to us. But if someone is lying on a bed, in a resort, I don't think our tax dollars can support that. I know this situation doesn't happen very often, but on this particular fire, it did. Sometimes we work our butts off, sometimes we get to relax, and I think it all evens out for Fed folks. Maybe we don't make as much money as other agencies, but that's Okay to me for the quality of life I get up in the mountains here. Don't take a USFS job if you want lots of $$$, bottom line. I also have been waiting for portal-to-portal, the FWFSA has been promising to deliver it for years now, and I'll believe it when I see it. The crews working the Somes are staying inside, on beds, in a ranch for tourists, They have laundry service, espresso right down the road at Somes Bar store, and are back in camp by 1900 each night, free to do whatever they want. Granted they're not home, but it still is better than most camps around.

I have been in the USFS for 26 years, working my way up to where I am now, and I have never complained about someone not showing a lunch. There is just an easier way of doing it. Instead of arguing with a Finance person about showing a lunch break, most of us old school types just show the break, then add a half hour at the end of the day. No arguments, everyone is happy. Some folks would rather argue it instead, though.

Now to answer PH, I am USFS, have been for 26 years, started as a GS-3 on a Engine, and worked up. I like working for this Agency, even though I could get more $$$ working for CDF or a municipal Dept. and No, I am not 'getting my hours in' , in fact, until our fire is dead out, even took myself off of the availability list for the rest of the season. I will push for my employees to get the proper classifications, pay grades, and benefits, but not at the expense of letting homes burn, or wishing fires on someone else.

Someone has to stay behind and finish things up, and this time, I'm one of them. I'm not complaining, it comes with the territory. Someday Congress will realize we should be getting more, but until then, I will just keep working, and yes, even doing the "stupid work".


9/7 Lots of chatter about resources, lack thereof etc. Someone correct me if I'm wrong...

If the $666 Million in fire preparedness dollars appropriated by congress had gotten down to the FMOs and those responsible for hiring temporary firefighters and other typical preparedness resources instead of being siphoned off by line officers, regional foresters, etc., for non-fire projects, I dare say there would be sufficient levels of federal resources to have precluded the long UTF lists etc.

Hmm, National Fire Plan's intent was to focus on preparedness so as to reduce suppression costs. Yet the puppeteer of the FS fire program, Mark Rey, tells congress "that while preparedness allocations have been reduced, suppression funds have increased."

Soooo, this season comes around, Forests are expected to reach 98% initial attack capability without deficit spending and without vast arrays of preparedness resources being funded (because much of the dough is going to the boondoggle HR center in New Mexico.)

All of a sudden, small fires become big while firefighters wait for resources that are nowhere near because they weren't funded because the $$ was ripped off by the WO and others down the food chain to pay for non-fire projects because Chief Bosworth & Mark Rey are too busy covering their politically appointed rear-ends to tell the Administration and Congress "look, we need this much $$ to fund all these projects so we can stop these "fund transfers" and eliminate the budgetary shell game and ensure proper preparedness...and thus the safety of our firefighters and those they protect."

Sooo, more expensive resources have to be called in (sorry contractors and municipal folks but lets face it, you cost a whole lot more) and soon congress wonders why the costs of suppression continue to skyrocket. Its a broken, vicious cycle perpetuated by people who have no practical fire experience.

Fed only orders...what a concept. If the Agency (FS) actually addressed its recruitment & retention problems properly by doing away with archaic pay & personnel policies, and properly compensated its firefighters along with getting preparedness funds to where they should be going, the infrastructure of this Nation's wildland firefighting corps would be solid; the best value for the American taxpayer; and this discussion about resources wouldn't be occurring.

Certainly not suggesting the wholesale elimination of contractors and cooperators. But someone, namely the tax paying public is being fleeced by the Agency. Hopefully now that congress, both the House & Senate are beginning to understand the consequences of these policies, they'll actually do something besides spew typical election year rhetoric.

Sign me...

Guess Who
9/7 Not only does CDF and OES have available resources there is a ton of contract equipment available as well.  I personally think it is a turf issue and PNW is not the only area that has an issue with California resources.  I always wonder why?

9/7 Chief Sue Husari,

Have the federal agencies or PNW MAC State Foresters requested assistance from CDF or California OES for out of state deployment of resources? If so, have those requests been denied? California is heading into what is traditionally our peak portion of fire season (September and October) and I’m sure our CDF upper management would want to keep a large contingent of resources available to cover our own backyard. However CDF does have 9 Incident Command Teams (0 currently committed) available as well as dozers and Type III engines. With no major fires currently burning in the state on CDF direct protection and only a minimal commitment of resources to federal incidents in R-5, we should be able to muster up some assistance. Earlier this year we deployed 2 CDF Type III strike teams to Nevada. As you know OES can mobilize Type I and Type III local government and OES engines, OES water tenders, as well as CDF and local government overhead for deployment. This morning’s Governor’s report shows 78% of CDF’s 336 Type III engines available and 100% of OES’ 110 Type I engines also available. Or is this lack of available resources you describe, federal and contract resources only? There are capable resources available, either not wanted by federal agencies because of cost constraints, or not being allowed to participate by cooperating agencies. I’m down the food chain so I don’t know what the real story is, but I think I know the answer. The same reason people have been complaining about a lack of resources all summer long.

9/7 Ab

As always when something this tragic happens I send my condolences and prayers to the families of Chief Stone and Mr. Willett; and to the entire wildland community, especially their friends and co-workers.

9/7 Re ROSS:

Ah ha, the problem isn't ROSS. It's a change in Fed Fire's use of the nearest available resource. Are regions besides R5 having "Fed only" added to their 209 requests after the fact by the region 5 fire director and ? the region 5 forester???

I agree with "It's not easy being green" that fed forces might be the cheapest, but if using only fed forces is now policy, it should be stated that way. Expectations relate to public safety. Communities deserve the option of planning to protect themselves if fed fire has opted for a slower (sometimes ineffectual) response.

One clear clue as to policy change would be if we're figuring the cost of letting communities burn into one or more of the WFSA runs.

Sorry, I'm a bit cynical today. Our acting R5 director is not from R5, but from R3. I don't know that he is vested in this region's forests or communities.


9/7 JS,

There are lots of resources available in the PNW. Problem is they are not in ROSS as listed resources. All of the resources are from both volunteer and career fire departments. There are many of them that would be more than happy to send resources if they were asked to do so. I know in my area there are carded PSCs, IMTICs, DIVS, STLE, STLC, AND ON AND ON. Expense is an issue but no one wants to responsibility to put the Fire Service into ROSS or let them status their own resources. Which one of these ends up costing more: A Firefighter ready to go in state or a Firefighter that needs an airplane ticket to show up?

Sue Husari, it seems in her letter, is missing the point of the problem. There already is a Ready Reserve of resources. In Washington State it is called Mobilization, in Oregon it is called Conflagration ACT. The systems were put into place several years ago and have been tested time and time again, and you know what? THEY WORK. Case in point, Columbia Complex went state mob and the first STE was in Dayton within 3 hours. Maybe it is time to recognize and utilize the resources that are well trained, safe, readily available, and know how to do the job just like the summer hires (nothing against the summer hires, they are the main staple of the fire season, the USA has to have them to even keep up some summers & I was one many moons ago).


9/7 Ab,

Thought I would add some items to the pants conversation. Although I am
certainly not an expert, I do have a little experience and expertise in the

The Nomex Kevlar blends (trademarked as Advance fabric and others)
outperform standard Nomex in a few significant ways. First is heat
resistance. Both fabrics burn, but neither will sustain flame once the heat
source is removed. Standard Nomex burns at about 800 degrees F, while the
blends can sustain a higher temperature before they will burn. Durability is
also significantly increased. Specifications for both can be found on the
web and are too technical to get into here. But with a composition of 60%
Kevlar, these fabrics last quite a bit longer in tests and also according to
feedback from the majority of our customers. While the blends may cost 70 to
90% more than Nomex (comparing retail pricing not GSA pricing), the life
tends to be 3 to 4 times longer. That only speaks to fabric durability. The
actual garments themselves are more than just a sheet of fabric. The blend
fabrics are certainly more difficult to cut, sew and work with than Nomex. I
believe every manufacturer out there has had their share of difficulties
consistently producing garments with no seam problems. Especially in the
crotch area where many layers and seams come together, and there is a high
degree of abrasion, flexion and stress. Most manufactures are continuing to
tweak designs to address these difficulties. But some of the problem is the
"standards". The NFPA standard has one set of measurement specs for any
pants, regular or over pants. So if the specs are followed, the resulting
designs do not fit the way most people would like. This also results in
undue stress on seams and restrictions on designs.

The "standards" also bring out many opinions and discussions. Just because
any product, GSA or not, meets the "standard" does not mean it is the best
tool for the job. In fact many of the standards are sort of a lowest common
denominator. Many manufacturers sit on the committees to make these rules
and have an inherent interest in making sure their products are accepted.
The standards set specific criteria that are the minimums a product must
meet. It also provides for some sizing and design consistency across
manufacturers. Even then, the enforcement is lacking. Clothing that are
outside the specs, but labeled as meeting certain standards, is out there.
They may be minor issues such as a certain measurement out of spec, but they
are still out of spec. On the other side there are products that exceed the
standards. The current helmet in the GSA fire equipment catalog has a four
point suspension. The most popular helmet that also meets the standard has a
six point suspension. Many would argue that the additional suspension straps
provide greater comfort and safety. You certainly do not hear too many
arguments or admonishments about firefighters spending the extra money on
helmets. Just because an item is produced to specifications and is made on a
low bid contract does not mean it is the best tool for every firefighter,
nor is it the best value for every taxpayer.

Positives and negatives from our customers:

lower price, cooler fabric (temperature that is), softer fabric, breaks in
Not as durable,

Higher durability, lasts longer, more protection, less brush or cactus
spines penetrating fabric,
more expensive, hotter fabric, takes a few washings and wearings to break
in, more problems with seams, creasing and increased wear under chaps

Freedom of choice, ain't this country great!

Jim Felix
The Supply Cache, Inc
9/7 AB,

Yesterday's tragic loss of Air Attack 410 has hit Santa Barbara hard. Sandy Willett was a former Santa Barbara Police Officer. Following an on duty motorcycle crash in the late 70's that almost took his life then, he lateraled over to the University of California Police Department-Santa Barbara, working in Isla Vista.

Sandy and I left the UCPD in 1989 and became business partners for several years. He had also returned to run his family crop dusting business based in Huron. Following his dad's death, Sandy returned to government work in South America prior to returning to contract flying for CDF and others. Sandy's former wife Jenifer was with CHP both in Goleta and Coalinga.

The sudden loss of Chief Stone and Sandy Willett is a brutal reminder that we work in a dangerous business. May the crew of Air Attack 410 rest in peace.

Michael S. Williams
9/7 FYI. No end or relief in extreme fire weather for the PNW in sight.
There are no resources available from other portions of our country. We
are basically on our own in OR/WA. This document has information on the
creation of reserve forces to be available for new large fires starts.
These reserves will come from a change in strategy that would free up
resources on current large fires by not trying to line all portions of fire
perimeters, delaying rehab, reducing mop-up standards, etc..

We want to share this NW MAC strategy with you so you are aware of our
efforts for Ready Reserve. At the heart of the issue is to have fire
resources identified in advance available for an emerging incident (new
large fire) requiring an incident management team. The challenge is that
fire fighting resources that are needed for new incidents need to come from
our existing incidents. Virtually no resources are available outside the
geographic area. We are also experiencing a daily lost of resources with
college in full swing and contract resources who have had enough fire
fighting for the season. Increase in demand and a decrease in supply.....

We expect to be very busy for the foreseeable future and we need to have a
good contingency plan in place....



To: Agency Administrators Date: September 5, 2006
Incident Commanders
Fire Management Officers
Dispatch Center Managers

Subject: Northwest MAC Ready Reserve Strategic Direction

The purpose of this letter is to provide guidance for the development of a wildland fire Ready Reserve in the Pacific Northwest. Expected weather developments and resource depletion will challenge our capacity to respond to incidents. The goal and desired result, in addition to effective initial attack, is to provide a group of resources available to deploy on new large fires. We will continue to fight fire with all available resources and will not hold any resources in staging that could be utilized on the fireline. As circumstances evolve, this will require us to examine and possibly revise tactical options that sustain our firefighting capacity and protect critical community assets.

The highest priorities for incidents are protection of life and property. In some cases, perimeter control or containment may not be realistic given the amount of open fire perimeter, the current fuel conditions and lack of firefighting resources.

Resource Status

Many units in the Northwest geographic area are losing seasonal and contract workers to other commitments such as school attendance and other jobs. Additional resources are not readily available from other geographic areas. National resources currently assigned to incidents in the Northwest may be reassigned to other incidents at the end of their current tours, based on national priorities.

Fire Weather/Fire Danger Potential

The geographic area is experiencing unprecedented dryness levels and many instances of extreme fire behavior. The extended forecast indicates no relief; in fact, unstable conditions will continue and lightning will alternate with windy conditions over the next week. Dry fuels have boosted severity indices (100 hr dead fuel, Energy Release Component) above their 97th percentile in all Predictive Service Areas, setting records in most predictive service areas.

Weather patterns appear more like those in the first week of August, rather than the first week of September. Conditions continue to be warm and dry as a ridge aloft builds again over the Pacific Northwest. This cycle of ridge building aloft will continue through at least mid-September, resulting in Haines indices above 5 and isolated lightning on a recurring basis.

Ready Reserve Strategy

Assuming that we will fight fire with all available resources and that we must position ourselves for whatever new incidents develop, the Northwest Multi Agency Coordination Group (NW MAC) has developed four Ready Reserve groups. Each group will consist of the following resources, with at least 6 operational shifts remaining on their current tour:

One staffed Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 Helicopter; five Engines; and eight Type 2 Crews

The MAC Support Group will identify and recommend to NW MAC the top 3-5 incidents capable of supplying Ready Reserve resources. A Ready Reserve group would be dispatched with any Type 1 or 2 Incident Management Teams (IMTs) deployed within the geographic area. In addition, the MAC Support Group may identify “candidate fires” that could be successfully concluded with a short-term influx of resources such as a Ready Reserve group or some other combination of resources.

MAC Agency Representatives will be contacting Agency Administrators to discuss the Ready Reserve strategy. Agency Administrators may then wish to inform cooperating partners and elected officials as they determine necessary. Agency Representatives will also provide assistance with Wildland Fire Situation Analysis (WFSA) development for new starts, and work with Agency Administrators on revising those WFSAs where cost thresholds have been exceeded. This will assure that strategies and objectives outlined in the WFSA are realistic and obtainable given the probable availability of resources and current conditions.

Firefighter Safety and Fatigue Management

The Pacific Northwest would normally be past the peak of most fire activity in early September. The current season is forecasted to continue for several weeks longer. Many firefighters started on incidents in the spring, and have been on multiple assignments since then. As managers, we must take seriously the responsibility to make decisions that will bring them home safe when the season eventually ends. One critical aspect is the management of cumulative fatigue. We encourage you to monitor personnel for fatigue, and assure they get adequate rest and recuperation. This may require more days off than the minimum under work/rest guidelines.

Modified Strategy

We will need to revise tactics and objectives as we face new challenges. Aircraft have been essential to our firefighting efforts, but preventative maintenance and crew recuperation are extremely important. The role of air resources may be limited for some incidents. As we explore the strategies needed to complete the fire season for 2006, we will require realistic approaches based on what is available. Agency Administrators and Incident Commanders should revise mop-up standards, defer rehab plans, or change suppression objectives to free up crews and resources for reallocation by NW MAC.

Despite adverse weather, historically dry fire danger indices and scarce resources, our people are doing admirable work. By making some shifts in workload and continuing to involve Agency Administrators and affected local entities, we’ll be positioned to better respond to changing circumstances.

/s/ Sue Husari
NW MAC Chair

9/7 Taskbooks and Nomex......

Sounds like a good name for a Forest Service rock band....

Anyway, I have to chime in and say, "yep" to the "Good 'ol boy system" as far as taskbooks go. Lord knows we've all seen it....like it or not. I would surely say that it's not the common place (I can only speak for a small area of USFS in R-5...) but sheeesh......haven't you ever met an obviously underexperienced (you know...those SCARY folks...) person out on a fire? Sometimes with a rather important position? Hmmmm...SOMEBODY deemed them qualified for whatever reason...regardless of agency.

As for Kevlar Nomex...uh, If you like em'...wear em'...Consider a sewing machine though if you out-fit a whole crew. It might pay for itself after 3 seasons.

As for GSA standard Nomex...Hmmm, If you like em'...wear em'...Consider looking for sewn and repaired pants at the next supply tent though, while thinking about your tax money....( where do all those tattered pants go?)

As for AA-410.....God bless you and God speed to you...

9/7 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
9/6 Crash of CDF Plane Claims the Lives of Two Firefighters

Investigators are examining an OV-10 Airtactical aircraft that crashed today in the Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest and claimed the lives of two firefighters.

Battalion Chief Robert Paul Stone of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and DynCorp Pilot George “Sandy” Willett were both killed in the crash shortly after 10:30 a.m. while on a mission east of Springville in Tulare County.

Battalion Chief Stone, 36, was a resident of Visalia and an 18-year employee of CDF. He is survived by his wife, Mary Marinda “Rindi” Stone and two children Wil, age 8, and Libbie, age 4.

Pilot Willett, 52, was a resident of Hanford and a pilot for four years with DynCorp, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and contracts with California to provide pilots for firefighting. He is survived by his wife, Judy, of Hanford.

Investigators, CDF personnel and equipment are still reviewing evidence at the scene and more details will be released as soon as they become available. The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified by CDF.

More information regarding this tragic incident will be forthcoming at the CDF web site at www.Fire.ca.gov.

Ruben Grijalva,
Director/State Fire Marshal

Condolences. Ab.

9/6 Well thanks for the responses. I have tried looking in the 5109, but can find nothing on # of assignments to get signed off. K7W is right, it is not what you know but who you know to get signed off. The thing on my district is that nobody fights for you, or lends you a hand to get qualified. I've got some good people to help me along from a neighboring gov. agency though. If we could all get on the same training standards as our friends at the BLM we could all have the same standards and rules and leave out the training gap. We are supposed to be going to a "Service First" organization (Interagency) so maybe things will improve.

9/6 K7W, maybe it's who you know in your organization, not in mine.

"sign my book", off-forest assignments are important.


9/6 Sadly enough, once again our thoughts and prayers go out to the families
and friends of the CDF AA crew members who gave their lives on
Sept. 6th, 2006 in the line of duty.

9/6 Condolences to the families of AA-410 from the
Peppermint Flight Crew. PAAB is a 2nd home for us.
God speed as they fly to a better place.

P'mint 522
9/6 Ab, here's what was posted on Inciweb 8/28 regarding the Mudd Fire burnover:

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

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.

Doesn't sound exactly like "minor to medium burns" describes their situation very well. Why were they treated and released if Inciweb is accurate?

Tahoe Terrie

9/6 Dear Ab,

I just returned from a visit to Bakersfield CA.
I went to see how the BLM firefighters were doing. They were burned on the the Mudd Fire.

I met with Austin Berrigan, first year rookie and his family. Austin's hands were wrapped with gauze and he held them up while trying to visit. He still had scabs on his ears some on his face, and elbows, but his hands seemed unbearable, to me. Austin, who was being seen as an out-patient in Fresno, has now been admitted to the Burn Center in Sherman Oaks.

I was unable to see Chris Fry, as he was going into surgery for skin grafts - to be taken from his scalp and placed on his elbow. His doctor is moving very aggressively with Chris. His fear is that the elbow which is burned down to the cartilage will loose some of its mobility.

Both firefighters are in the Sherman Oaks Burn Center now.

I am posting this because I feel like the system has failed these two firefighters.

I am, however, very grateful to Trenten Burnett and David Brinsfield. Those guys have been there every day for these injured firefighters. It's a two hour commute to Sherman Oaks and David has a sweet little family he doesn't see very much.

Chris Fry's mother told me, and I quote: "Some of the wonderful things rubbed off Trenten onto Chris since he has been in the Hospital."

I am in hopes that some of you may send a card or a message of encouragement to these firefighters.

Their addresses are:

Austin Berrigan
6131 Milles Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93306

Chris Fry
25645 Avenida Jolita,
Valencia, CA 91355

Thank you Gordon King. Your advice is invaluable to this Foundation for the care of the injured.

A Special Thanks to the members of the 52 CLUB, you make it possible to give support, and help to these injured firefighters and their families in time of need. If you haven't Joined the 52 Club yet.... please do so. I am very concerned about the needs of the firefighters on the ground and in the air in the next few months.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Vicki, Why did the system fail? Can we get it fixed? Ab.

9/6 Just want to express my condolences to the families of the crew of 410
and to all CDF personnel for this loss.


9/6 Kevlar Pants

I have tried for years to get better nomex than the GSA garbage that we are mandated to use. Eventually I gave up and now buy all of my nomex out of my own pocket. You will not get anyone with purchase authority to buy these under the threat of having to pay the cost back to the government at the least.

9/6 sm,

no justification needed. the kevlar pants have a gsa number. you can order them if you want... but they suck. i haven't had a pair last more than a season and i think they are one the biggest wastes of money. i would rather save the cash and outfit my crew with better equipment.

9/6 To all CDF personnel:

At 10:25 this morning, Air Attack 410 was flying a mission east of Porterville, in Tulare County, when the aircraft crashed in a remote location. There are two confirmed fatalities. CDF personnel and equipment have arrived at the scene and more details will be released as soon as they become available.

Effective immediately, flags will be flown at half staff at all CDF facilities.

Ruben Grijalva, Chief

Condolences. Ab.

9/6 SM - you're looking for the magic words/numbers to "justify" buying Kevlar pants instead of using the GSA-issued Nomex: just take a look at the 16-digit number on your personal Visa or MasterCard account; it will get you anything you want, within your personal credit limit. As a taxpayer, I have no problem with you spending YOUR hard earned money on these items, but am vigorously opposed to you spending MY tax dollars when the GSA Nomex meets all approved and accepted national standards, including NFPA and NWCG.

9/6 From the Hot List Forum.


Visalia Times Delta: CDF plane reported down, Staff reports. A California Department of Forestry aircraft was reported down this morning in an area near Balch Park, emergency radio reports and reports from witnesses said. Officials at Tulare County Office of Education’s SCICON said they had reports that the plane crashed 15 miles north of the school camp. CDF officials in Visalia and Sacramento refused to provide any information on the crash. Check VisaliaTimesDelta.com later in the day for further details.

Associated Press: SPRINGVILLE – A plane crashed in the Tulare County foothills Wednesday near where firefighters were battling a wildfire, authorities said. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and sheriff's deputies were responding to the scene about 170 miles north of Los Angeles, said Sgt. Chris Douglass of the Tulare County sheriff's office. CDF firefighters were fighting a small blaze in the nearby Mountain Home area, but it wasn't immediately known if the aircraft was being used in that effort.

Another brief article: CDF Plane Crashes In Tulare County Foothills

9/6 I'm looking for info on how to obtain the Kevlar fire pants (such as those
found in "the Supply Cache" catalog)...USFS folks have to resort to
standard green GSA pants and I know BLM and others can "justify"
theirs....Does anyone have a "justification" I could borrow so I could pick
up a couple pair? Thanks.

9/6 Some information on Task Books can be obtained from the TASK BOOK
ADMINISTRATOR'S GUIDE, PMS 330-1 / NFES 1556. Otherwise you are right, I
have seen all kinds of different ways Task Books have been handled by each
FED Agency. On assignment get it done thru the training Unit. The saddest
although is the way Local Agencies sign off on Task Books but that would
open up a can of worms. (any input?). My personal thought on the subject is
"How confident is one to handle the task". Putting ego before
accountability can detrimental to one's career, read some reports on
Tragedy Fire Investigations.


9/6 Ray=DC-10

A member of the Tahoe Hot Shots had a video he took on the Sawtooth Fire of
it but I didn't get the Firefighters name. Maybe when they get back you can
make contact.

9/6 Taskbooks need to be completed. However, I have learned that it is not what you know or have learned but rather, who you know. I've actually had a BIA Superintendent tell me this! This is the very much the case in the Federal agency ranks and they hold ALL the keys to your success.

If your agency really wants you to learn, your tasksbooks will be signed off in the field while you are under assignment to complete the tasks. Many times you have to ask the IC (on smaller fires) or the DIVS or Strike Team Leader if you can complete a task while assigned to them during an incident. And, I have found most of them will be happy to allow you to complete needed tasks if it is possible at that time. Many of them, who were not just "grandfathered" will understand what it takes to complete the tasks. A key issue is that your agency is "suppose" to give you opportunities to complete the tasks once the books are initiated. Smaller agencies do not seem to have the interest in this process and it makes it difficult to near impossible for individuals to complete tasks. The system has flaws in that regard.

It takes time and experience to complete these wiz-bang task books. It took me 2 years for my FFT2. It will probably take me 4 years for my FFT1....just because my area does not have many Wildland Fires and most of what we do is Initial Attack, without much opportunity to complete the required tasks.

In regards to the Type 5 Command training, it says some of the tasks can be signed off in a Search and Rescue Incident.
However, NONE of the SAR coordinators or the commander or the Sheriff in my county have any clue about taskbooks. And this is the same across my state! I am a SAR Team Leader and I hesitate having anyone in my state's SAR program sign anything off because they just do not know if they are authorized.....even though we do use the ICS for our incidents.

Getting registered in ROSS or IQCS is a whole 'nother' major PITA for those that do not have access to those systems.
There are many folks that are not listed in those and therefore can not be deployed because some individual person could careless if information is input. Right now, in my area, both the BLM and the BIA have no one able to input data into the IQCS! Their own policies state that should not ever happen!

The funny this about all these task books is they pretty much ignore prior experience. For example, I am an experienced Engineer/FireFighter, responsible for millions of dollars of equipment and crew. Yet I am not qualified to be a ENOP?

I've been an FCC Licensed Radio Tech, a Technical Engineer, a Senior Instruments Tech as well as being
a Certified Electronic Tech going on 30 years and I can't even get registered in IQCS as a COMT (T)!
I am also the Chair for my County Republican Party and I want this stuff fixed!

Obviously, the system has issues. However, if you know someone, you can slide right in.


9/6 This will clear up the rumors about the response on the Derby Fire in Montana...

sign me - Dispatcher's Wife

From the Bozeman Chronicle on 9/5

Air cleared on Big Timber fire rumor
By Scott McMillion, Chronicle Staff Writer

BIG TIMBER - A rumor has been wafting through this area for two weeks, a rumor as persistent as the smoke from the nearby Derby fire.

It's not true.

The rumor holds that the Big Timber Volunteer Fire Department was the first on the scene of the Derby fire - now estimated at 178,000 acres - but that the crews and trucks were called off the scene by the U.S. Forest Service.

Here's what really happened, according to Big Timber District Ranger Bill Avey and Cory Conner, deputy chief of the Big Timber VFD and the man in charge on Aug. 22, when the fire was first spotted.

At first, there was some confusion about the fire's location, Conner said. The fire was initially reported to be a few miles away.

By the time the flames were located, it became clear that Big Timber VFD's nine trucks on the scene were separated from the fire by 2.5 miles of rugged and roadless country.

In the meantime, the Forest Service had sent in smokejumpers, who arrived at the fire even before the engines made it to the end of the road, Avey said.

The smokejumpers were overwhelmed, however, and by 2 a.m. on Aug. 23 they had to retreat for their own safety, Avey said.

By then, the Big Timber volunteers - who have helped save dozens of structures since the fire started - had gone home.

"We decided to save our resources until there was some good we could do with them," Conner said Monday.

The early firefighting was made more difficult by the fact that the Derby fire ignited on the same day as the Emerald Hills fire east of Billings, a blaze that threatened dozens of homes.

That fire was given higher priority for resources like airplanes and helicopters because the Derby fire initially was a long way from any homes or other structures.

Fair Use Disclaimer

9/6 WLF Admin Note:

We've added a new online scanner link that may interest those of you in or around Butte County, CA.  The name of the site is Butte County Public Safety Scanner.  It offers a variety of city and county fire in addition to the Plumas National Forest.  The link is available from the News page, then under the Online Scanners link at the top of the California listings.  It promises to be a reliable site as compared to some of the others we've experienced.  My personal thanks to the host and owner of the site for providing his expertise to us as we develop and test our own online scanning feature.  If you know of online scanner links in your area that include wildland fire frequencies, send 'em in.  Here's the direct link to the home page:  http://www.thenet411.net/index.phpl 

Enjoy, OriginalAb.

9/6 Re Pigeon fire Helispots:

As I understand it, there are no helispots on the Pigeon, at least there weren't
day before yesterday. The main helibase for the fire (and for the BakeOven)
is at Weaverville and the ICP is at Junction City, 8 miles away.


PS. Strider, my area is fine and will be fine even if the fire bumps us. Fire is not
a bad thing in my neck of the woods. It's coming closer from several directions.
It may be the rains will arrive before the fire does. It was Nov 2 in '99. Some
years winter rains start in early October. <eyes wide><eating popcorn while
waiting for the fireworks display... threatened by rain>

9/6 Task book questions:

Hey folks thought I would throw out a couple of question to all the Engine Boss's out there young and old.

How many off Forest assignments did it take you to get signed off. Did it take any assignment at all, did you just get signed off by doing your daily job on the engine, and working with the crew on local IAs. I have been working on the engine for five years and like to think I know what I am doing and have been told so by several peers and the FMO. I have been a trainee for about 7 months and have lots of local IA's and one engine boss "trainee" assignment off forest. I am being told that Fire staff will not sign off on my book (which is completely been filled out by five different trainers and final evaluation has been done) because I only have one off Forest assignment. Also been told that there is a rule with the Forest Service that you have to have two off forest assignments. Kinda' hard to get off forest when your engines are not available for an off forest assignment. One more quick question I have is, can you back date in task books. I was told by my AFMO and training officer that you can back date up to one year.

Thanks for any comments,

will you sign my book?????

9/6 Okay, one more, from “Nozzle Hog”:

Once my red card stretched from here to the floor
Qualifications I had by the score
But thanks to three-ten-dash-one
It’s no longer such fun
I not qualified to run a lawnmower

Haw Haw. Ab.

9/6 Thanks Doug.

Anyone know where the helispots are on the Pigeon Fire?


9/6 Concerned -

Yeah, the Derby Mountain Fire in Montana is getting a lot of press, and there are always the "anti-government" folks in eastern Montana ready to offer their 20-20 hindsight about what coulda/shoulda/oughta been done different by the Feds and State DNRC. Remember, you're not too far away from the home of the "Freemen" that held the FBI and ATF folks at bay on a ranch over by Jordan, Montana! a few years back

Most folks recognize the extreme fire conditions (fuel moisture, temps, RH and wind) that led to "Derby Mountain's " rapid spread, and recognize that the wildland firefighters on the ground were overwhelmed.

Rumor has it that there are some "Wildland Firefighters for Tester " (Conrad Burns' opponent) bumper sticker starting to surface all over Montana?

+93F in Missoula today, with RH in the 20% range, and no real end in sight; forecasted to be in the mid-80s on Saturday for the University of Montana - South Dakota State game: Go Griz - Beat the Jackrabbits!


9/6 Boise State University is giving a break to firefighters:

BSU to extend deadlines for firefighters working in West


9/6 Re: DC-10


Sorry didn't have my camera ready as it flew over the us, it sure shook the picnic table I was railed out on (we were night shift) and the next night at shift change I got 1 pic but it's so far away it's just a dot. Somebody has got to have pics somewhere, they are probably still on the fire.

At briefing Jennings joked how the air ops were affecting us on nights and I piped up "blocking out the sun", he chuckled. My pics are mostly fire and after downloading them, they aren't that cool unless you were there. A few nights later we helped fire from a dozer line in DIV G that was very red, looked like pretty good coverage if that was the area they dropped. N46°12.560' W117°48.703' was about midpoint.


9/5 Doug,

Thanks, very interesting, looks like it will be moving toward the
Bake Oven fire. I don't see any natural features that are likely
to slow it down for long when I Google Earth it. I wonder
what effect the inversion will have. It often burns off in the
afternoon if it's like the Somes fire area.

Be safe everyone.


Add: Mellie, I hope your area is OK.

BakeOven and Pigeon Fires Ab.

9/5 C64

I would appreciate any pictures of the DC10 on the Columbia complex. I was one of the CDF team members assigned to the DC10. Appreciate any information you can provide from a ground perspective as well. You can email them to me at ray.chaney @ fire.ca.gov

A special note to say thank you to the Moses Lake Airbase. Rob, Sherry, and Bob we really appreciated your hospitality. You guys have a great facility and great folks working there. Would love to come back one day.

9/5 Here are the maps.

First one is the afternoon hot slope map. The highlighted aspects are the
South and West aspects which will peak in fuel flammability in afternoon

Hot slope map

Second one summarizes the alignment or lack of alignment of forces:
wind, slope and maximum preheating time periods.
This gives a good idea of the major spread potential.

Hot slope with SE wind (description on slide)


9/5 Sure Strider
It is in the works.
Thanks for asking.
9/5 Hi Ab,

I watched the entire A&E Yellowstone movie last night and I have to say that was the funniest wildland firefighting movie since Howie Long's Firestorm several years ago. The proximity suit, the way they cut line everything. It was a comedy. I have been in firefighting for almost 10 years, 7 of which were spent in wildland. I have never seen a fire start a small twig on a green tree start the whole forest on fire.

The ending was interesting at best. Using GASOLINE to STOP a fire! Come on. Anyway the show was a joke, but I would like to think the public knows better than to believe that is the way fires are fought. The one true thing in the movie was the let it burn policy. I have herd that it is true if the fire starts naturally and its nowhere near man made building or camp grounds that the park service lets it burn out on its own.

If you missed it you didn't miss much. Good luck and please everyone stay safe out there. I know the fire season is winding down a bit, but don't let your guard down. Its best to come home to be able to spend that hard earned pay check.


9/5 Hey Doug,

I took your class in 2002. How about giving us your input on the Pigeon
fire looking at possible alignment of slope, wind and time of day? Winds
are still from the SE. Consider it a little tutorial?


9/5 Has anyone been following the Derby Fire in Montana?

Apparently there are accusations flying about mismanagement of the fire by the FS from the onset. Do these kind of reactions from the public happen often or is this something special? The reason I am asking is because this area is a stronghold of Senator Conrad Burns (the MT senator who tore into the hotshots about the bad job they had done) and I was curious if this might just be “chest-pounding” from Burns’ supporters, a common thing during a big fire that gets out of hand, or possibly a combination of factors.

There are numerous articles at the Billings Gazette www.billingsgazette.net/ about the fire. Of particular interest are the comments at the end of the various articles.

It would be interesting to see what feedback the readers and contributors to this site have to offer. Possibly someone out there has first-hand information??

Sign me

9/5 C-64 -
I researched the Australia situation a couple years back and found that
they don't have very many paid positions in fire suppression. If you want
to go, most likely you'll be volunteering. I spoke with several
individuals in charge over there and they were more than happy to host
volunteers but pay is out.

vfd capn - Thanks for the info on B.C. and fire shelters. Page 2 reminded
me of South Park's "duck and cover"......

I can't believe I wasted valuable "Zzz" time on that terrible Yellowstone
movie. A&E needs to do a little R&D. The anti - fire use rhetoric is as
bad as the anti-military crap of "Jarhead".

Thanks for the belly laugh Smokedawg-


9/5 Hi All,

I asked Doug Campbell to give me his brief take on the Balls Canyon nearmiss (Report - small html version or official large pdf version www.wildfirelessons.net/<snip>Report.pdf) to provide his input on Lessons Learned. I took Doug's CPS class in 2000 along with Drew Smith (FBAN LACo Fire), the yr 2000 crop of Ventura Co firefighters, and some FS and CDF guys. Awesome class for understanding fire behavior on the ground from the perspective of a groundpounder. I am thankful to see his ideas (he'd say they're old hotshot supt ideas) being incorporated into current groundpounder fire behavior training. Incorporation like this should happen more.

Anyway, Doug sent me the following and gave me permission to post it (bolding is mine):

Hi Mellie

I just read the Balls Canyon near miss report and have made a
hazard map of the area for the afternoon of the day in question.
(hazard map)

My gut tells me that when tactics changed from direct to indirect
attack there needed to be a reevaluation of the situation and
there was not.

It is the same old thing.....  Firefighters above a fire with the
fireground between them and the fire in full alignment with
wind, slope and maximum preheating time periods.

If the tactics would have stayed direct, I might not have made
a map like this.  If I had known the tactics would include the
indirect alternative, such as it was, I would have made a hazard
and time tagged the indirect line, and had resources moved
out of the hazard zone by 1100 hours.


Doug has a permanent link on the Classifieds page: www.dougsfire.com/. Ab.

9/5 Public Safety on Federal Lands:


Not sure which federal agency you work for, but you had better check your
jurisdiction. Most federal agencies (with the exception of some National
Parks) do not have official jurisdiction for public safety on federal
lands. This is normally the responsibility of the either the local county
or the state. I know most agencies (at least in California) will respond
to public safety incidents and take whatever actions are needed, as we're
normally the closest resource, but it is still technically a local


9/5 While I too had a good laugh at the movie, I have to
jump in for a second about the fire suit.
It's called proximity gear. Used mainly on aircraft
fires. Quite uncomfortable I might add.


engine slug
9/5 Despite the most advanced real-time GIS display I've ever seen used on a wildfire, I have to applaud the writers of "Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone" for their simple suppression tactics... 55 gallon barrels of gasoline? That's a technological advancement never seen before. I hope nobody believes it.

Fire Geek
9/5 I understand folks in the western US are having problems with a few little fires. I have decided to make myself available. That being said, could someone meet me in Missoula with 75 forty-five gallon drums of diesel fuel, 200 yards of primer cord and a good bottle of Scotch. I'll bring my own mylar fire suit and ice.

Have a safe week all and keep your stick on the ice!

9/5 RE: All risk Medical Aids on Forests

007, You are part of an ever going amount of FS firefighters that DO respond to medical aids on a daily basis! On my forest there are no less then 8 engines that I can count off the top of my head that are first in to medical aids for their local towns or campgrounds and are also on automatic aids to the local municipal departments in the CAD system (meaning if a 911 call comes in then a Forest Service engine is automatically on that run).

EMT Micah said it right, we do have a duty to act as employees that are at least trained at the first responder level, (there is an abundant amount of EMTs on my district) and they're riding in vehicles that look a lot similar to local city engines so the public looks to us for help! It is an absolute shame that the higher ups don’t see things the way we do out here in the real world! Guess what, when a vehicle carrying 6 people goes head on with another vehicle the public pulls straight into our station to alert us of it and we have the DUTY TO ACT and be human beings. As far as covering yourself, the previous posts summed it up already, document everything and act only in the scope of your practice! Our engines use the local medical authority runs sheets as our documentation.

RE: the hoarding of resources
The lashing out of holding crews on the Emerald Incident was so premature! By the time the initial post was made the fire was NOT fully contained and the amount of crews listed to be kept supposedly till Tuesday was so far fetched by that person. All I can recommend is know the facts before you speak out. (I know because I was there). I understand not seeing a family member all Summer can cause some serious emotions to spark when some rumors are heard, but please refrain from going off of rumors and speculations.

As far as hoarding resources or requests as "fed only" at the regional and national level: my gosh that is such a touchy and in depth subject it would be who of most of us not to create or own conclusions on it unless we were in the real upper ranks where that info is actually discussed. Unless there is a complete standard on how many resources in say....South Ops in Cali can let go to North zone or out of region then there will always be arguments on it. As far as "fed only" request and the nearest resources issues, Mellie had some valid points. I believe my forest has solved that very problem! For the most part our District chief officers know that if we have an IA with immediate threats then they know to order Type 3 strike teams as immediate need and order the closet available!!!! Whether you get CDF engines, municipal type 3s or fed engines it doesn’t matter! You will get those closet engines to take action on your priority fire! Do managers up North need to learn this step? I really don’t know if that is a valid question or not being that I'm not manager up there. I am just showing you that it works for us! And if money and budget cuts are really the cause of all of this well then hell that’s completely beyond me and would not surprise me at all! However, as stated before if it causes an injury or a fatality there better be hell to pay!

MJ, if I'm away from home then I should be paid for max hours if I cant get portal to portal! The divisions and ops chiefs that use the magnified glass on CTRs should get a reality check! How about this, next time I promise to shut down the line cutting and all helibase operations for exactly .5 hours to make you happy and show our lunch! Welcome to the real world people where lunches are taken in minute increments and sometimes don’t occur till you get off the line or night time shows up. Even if you are holding line and rehabbing then you should be paid for your availability time not just the time that you are swinging the tool! Hey guess what, we dish out a lot of money to contractors for availability and to municipal engines for portal to portal (not to mention for coverage behind them at their local stations!), how about we pay the same to our employees and improve our retention issues in region 5??? Is that so far fetched?

Wow! So many complex issues in Region 5 these days! And people wonder why we fight for more pay and recognition of the job that we actually perform! This is the constant issue of this website and our job, yet some people just don't get it!

9/5 MJ,

Are you a firefighter? Agency, state, municipal, what? If you are
municipal, you are probably getting paid portal 24hrs. And maybe on a team
or single resource on an incident getting YOUR HOURS in. Even though some
firefighters complain about 16's, I feel we deserve atleast that even if we
are not working! We spend time away from are friends and families, miss out
on our son's and daughters first B-days, pretty much have no life for the
duration of the fire season. Now I know what you are thinking. "If you are
unhappy, do not like your job, find another, right? I am proud to be where
I am at and if teams want to nickel and dime the very people who put their
lives on the line day in and day out for 3 days or 30 days, they need to
wake up and do what is right. Hopefully, I am wrong about where you are
coming from MJ.


PH, I'm glad you wrote in yesterday. Welcome. MJ's post obviously pushed your button as it has pushed the button of other groundpounders I've spoken with. Readers, please pay attention to the emotion behind this post on the issue of pay, pay parity across agency and redcard position and the feeling of sacrifice that comes with being away from family while doing your job.

That said, I hope contributors can stick to issues and not drag personalities into this. MJ, please do not consider this as personally directed at you. Those who have read here for a long time know your integrity, your professionalism and where you are coming from with the post you sent in on 9/3 in response to claims of hoarding.

sign me: Ab, theysaid moderator.

9/4 Thank you to the heli crew or crews that diverted on their return to the Sand Flat Fire (STF) from Bald Mt. Heliport twice today to assist with fires in our area. The first time was to make 4-5 drops on a house fire in Strawberry that could have gone much bigger as a number of large trees around the house were becoming involved. The second was to make a drop on the small fire directly above town on Herring Creek Road, a little to close for comfort.....

To all firefighters: Thank you for all your hard work and most of all, be safe.

Strawberry Mom
9/4 EMT_Micah…man ain’t that the truth.

I work in DoD and I know three guys personally that found themselves on the carpet with an investigator going over EVERYTHING… from the time the call came in to the time they handed over the patient to the ER or higher medical authority.

We found out the hard way that “homemade” run sheets won’t cut it. We had to go to the licensing agency and obtain their documentation…mainly for legal purposes. It had the same data as our sheets but in “legalese”.

A paramedic told me the most important item to note are TIMES!!! A rubber exam glove makes a great clip board.

Lancer 212
9/4 -C and ak,

What a really bad show! Does anyone know if there have been large fires in
Yellowstone since 1988? I know they have an active FUM program, guess
nothing has been as big or dramatic as fire of '88. I don't know if I can sit
through this whole show. Silver nomex, like mylar. I think not.

Tahoe Terrie

9/4 If anyone out there is in need of a little humor tonight you may want to tune into Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone on A&E .

From A&E's website: The lives of thousands of tourists and campers are threatened when the worst wildfires in Yellowstone National Park history rage out of control. As the deadly flames veer across the main road, cutting off campsites near Old Faithful, two veteran firefighters come up with a radical plan - they'll try to temporarily shift the direction of the fire and evacuate everyone before the park burns over. Tense drama stars Scott Foley and Richard Burgi. (2006)

So far it's pretty funny, can't say I've ever seen any fire behaviour like that. I think I see a little romance in the future. The show does seem to be blaming their fictional fire on wildland fire use policy. I'll be interested in seeing the spin on that one. (Oh dear, I just looked up and the 'fire ecologist' is walking through 20 foot flames in some kind of silver space suit)


9/4 is anyone out there watching the MOST moronic fire movie ever?

it's on A&E. "firestorm . . . " something about yellowstone.
there's a fire ecologist who walks around inside a fire whirl, w/o any kind
of breathing apparatus/oxygen and in a suit made of what
appears to be several fire shelters. a sawyer is running a saw w/o proper
PPE. yeah. our poor families - watching this inanity and thinking
this is how fires are fought! the way the story is going down, it's 4th
of july weekend, there are multiple fires, no overhead team, no evacuations,
and the secy of interior is headed there for a visit.


Haw Haw. "ak" If I didn't know those were your initials, I'd think they were a guttural reaction to the flick. Ab.

9/4 Thanks Mellie for the alert on the Balls Canyon report.

Usually I don't put too much faith in accident reports produced in-house. They are normally just self-inspections and driven by political concerns rather than genuine concerns for learning what when wrong. The Balls Canyon report, however, is wildly different! The first page "Peer Review Intent and Purpose" is utterly profound. Maybe this Doctrine thing is finally gaining traction?

Just think of how different the firefighting world would be today if the investigators of Thirtymile and Cramer had taken this approach. Instead of redacted reports and reams of checklists... we might actually know what really happened and might actually be safer firefighters having learned from what the folks on these fires could have taught us.

Digital Firefighter

9/4 From Firescribe:

Cause of fatal air tanker crash still a mystery

SACRAMENTO — U.S. investigators were unable to determine the cause of a front-line federal firefighting air tanker crash last year in Northern California that killed three aviators, the National Transportation Safety Board reported Sunday.

The NTSB concluded the four-engine P-3 — the type of military-surplus plane that has become the mainstay of the federal firefighting fleet this summer — did not break up in mid-air like older types of firefighting planes that have been grounded.

The agency also said Tanker 26 did not suffer engine or control problems, but was so close to the ground that a wing tip smashed into rugged terrain.

One Injury Related To Stanislaus Forest Fire (but not bad)

One firefighter was injured when he burned his hand evading falling rocks. He has been treated and released.

MT Fire officials order more evacuations

Nation's highest priority wildfire grows (MT)

COLUMBUS, Mont. (AP) - More people have been chased from their homes by a huge wildfire in Montana.

Winds picked up last night, fanning the two-week-old Derby Mountain fire, regarded as the current highest priority wildfire in the nation. It has now spread across 180-thousand acres of extremely dry land in south-central Montana.

A fire information officer says crews near Big Timber were "close to buttoning things up there" when the winds picked up and the fire "took off." Additional crews are being sent in.

U.S. fire crosses into B.C.

A massive U.S. forest fire crossed into B.C. south of Princeton late Sunday afternoon allowing Canadian firefighters to begin work to manage the blaze, and leaving nearby residents to prepare for a possible evacuation.

Provincial fire information officer Jeff Moore said the estimated 5,000-hectare blaze -- officially called the Tatoosh Complex fire -- crossed the border into Canada at about 5:30 p.m.

ID Firefighter tried to get teen to start fires

Some lightning across the West (and in other wetter places across the USA):

9/4 007,

I understand your predicament. As the US Gov't, we are responsible for safety of the public on federal lands, period. Some land management units delegate this responsibility to local agencies through agreements and MOUs.

In some of those areas with agreements, the locals still may be a very long way away. And even in some areas where the locals are closer, there may be questions as to whose land/responsibility it is anyway. With that in mind, those individuals who are trained to act, should act.

If you take any emergency medical training class, or even American Red Cross first aid training, the first thing you learn about is the "Duty to Act" and "Good Samaritan" laws. As long as you are acting in the best interest of the public, are only doing what you're trained to do, and can justify your actions, then good for you. The public only sees a fire truck, not the agency driving it. And they know that fire trucks are supposed to show up and help them when there is an emergency.

Just remember, in these times of budget woes and lawsuits at the drop of a hat, you need to document everything. If you didn't write it down, it didn't happen and that could bite you in the a**.

Document your responses, keep track of time and resources used. If you have this documentation to prove a real need exists, then maybe your agency will decide to support and sanction what you're already doing. Just don't step over the line and get yourselves into any trouble.

9/4 Hey all, just returned from the Columbia Complex, 10 night shifts, good fire behavior, great structure saves, cabins everywhere, got to see the DC-10 work! The Aussies really helped fill in the operational gaps, good people to work for, Lohrey’s team was top shelf as usual. I’ve got some pics to send in later, but my question now is there anyone out there at NIFC that can help me get on the list to go help the Aussies this winter? I’m STEN and just finished TFLD task book on this fire. Do they take Vollies?



9/4 JL,

Here's the most recent info on the Pigeon Fire, which is located near Big Flat (between Big Bar and Junction City). Mandatory evacuations are in effect for the communities of Big Flat and Helena. Highway 299 is still closed. It's not just fire and rock rollout, it's more like rock slides. Power lines affecting central and southern Trinity County are shut off. Power has been rerouted to keep power up and running in Weaverville and Junction City.

The fire is up to an estimated 4,360 acres; infrared (IR) flights later today will give a more exact amount. The fire blew out at the AA/BB division yesterday, moving to the NE and NW. It spotted into the Manzanita Research Natural Area. (I think there was a fire there in 1988.)

The fire is currently lined up in a bunch of canyons. It will probably burn actively this afternoon. They are trying to suppress it and protect structures. I heard that Don Feser's CIIMT1 team has been activated to assume command soon. (They're an excellent team, but then all our CA teams are excellent.)

Containment held on the Hwy 299 corridor, so there's no fire over the highway or across the Trinity River, which is remarkable since the canyon is narrow there. I don't think Junction City is in much danger. The fire is expected to continue to burn to the north toward the Trinity Wilderness.

Somebody sent me a list of the critical resource needs posted this morning, I think from the 209:

  1. 6 Type I Crews or II IA Crews/ 2 Type I HELO and 1 Type II HELO
  2. 3 Type II Strike Team Engines
  3. 2 DIVS, 1 OPBD, IR Flight

I heard from a different soCA source that when the Pigeon fire first broke the other day and the forest ordered 5 strike teams of type 3 engines (25 engines) for structure protection, that the order that went to NorthOps immediately got handed off to SouthOps to be filled by soCA engines.

Now that doesn't make sense to me! It takes 2 days for soCA engines to get to the fire -the whole length of the state away. In contrast, there are many competent, practiced, experienced structure protection engines in cities and towns close by (Redding, other central valley/foothills towns in our fire-prone areas) that could have made a difference early on. Longer term I can see using fed engines, but when fire is going and blowing, use the nearest possible resource!

This BS ('scuse my French, Ab) early on in the firefighting on the various lightning complexes at the end of July/ beginning of August-- about having no resources. Well, the Orleans Complex was told they couldn't have crews or structure engines because they were sent to the Bar Complex, the Hunter and the Lakin and the other fires got the same message. I hate to say it, but it sounds like flim-flam to me and I don't think it originates with NorthOps, although I do think NorthOps has been given some marching orders and is marching.

Many of you know my blood runs green here in northernCA, our place is nestled in the heart of the National Forest, and I love our forests and fire people, but something really weird (and originally it was a subtle pattern) is happening behind the scenes at the Regional and WO levels and we need to be very careful that wildland firefighters and the public don't suffer. (I'm not worried for our family/land. We're set to go it on our own. But interface people should know they're expected to go it on their own, if that's the reality.)

I hate to make a statement that makes the Forest Service look bad, but I have to speak up on this Labor Day. It's not the forest and fire laborers and middle management that's creating a major policy change in Region 5. It's not the forest rangers, the supervisors or the fire management teams. This push for "fed only" is happening from the top down. I think the wanta'be leaders at the Regional and National levels are the culprits here. There's a hidden agenda if you watch what they do and pay less attention to their words. Maybe they're being told by Congress and the President that they have to to meet some budget limitation. I only hope it doesn't compromise safety.

Communication if KEY. When I was a kid, my dad always said "Tell the truth, tell it often, tell it FIRST." If fire policy is changing in Region 5 and Nation, let's have that clearly stated. If it is to be "fed only" engines and type 2 crews from maybe 600 miles away -from here on out- let's know that and plan. Let's let the interface public and rural communities and farms/ranches know they're on their own. Let's tell them to prepare to be on their own, without sending a mixed message.

I love you all. Be safe.


Ab note: this just came in, a pdf file (463K, not too big) of the map for the Pigeon Fire.

9/4 Just got home so this goes back a bit,

Regarding "Fed only" requests, I can see why this would be, it actually makes alot of sense.

California Firescope Field Operations Guide (FOG) so it may vary somewhat from what those of you outside R5 are used to
  • Type 1 crew
  • No use restriction, fully equipped, permanently assigned supervision
  • Minimum number of crew members
  • State / Local Govt 12
  • State / Local Govt Hotshot crew 18 (as far as I know Kern County has the only State / Local HS crew)
  • Federal 18

NWCG standards

  • Type 1 crew
  • Intercrew communications (do inmate crews always have more than 1 radio?)
  • 80% must have minimum of 1 season (do inmate crews always meet this?)
  • Full time organized crew
  • Minimum number of crew members 18-20 (as seen above inmate crews in CA do not meet this)

Federal crews can be broken into multiple modules, State / Local inmate crews cannot (only 1 supervisor). Additionally Hotshot crews have multiple FFT1, CRWB, Strike team leaders and at least 1 DIVS, this is not required or even possible with inmate crews.

So 12 FF vs 18FF makes sense to me why someone would order a HS crew over an inmate crew, even without considering the extra quals of the overhead. I've never understood how CDF / LACO can call their crews type 1 when they don't even remotely resemble the description of a Type 1. Don't get me wrong they are good crews but 12 FF simply can't approach the work of 18-20, and I just don't see how the need for custodial supervision can be seen as "no restrictions". By the same logic I don't see how Smokejumpers who typically work in small groups can be considered full time crews with permanently assigned supervision when that is not their typical mode of operating, but they are also considered type 1.

Why are so many agencies too proud to call their crews Type 2 which is closer to reality?

  • Engines
  • Type 3 engine
  • minimum crew 3

Federal engines have a crew of 5, most state / local govt and contract engines I see have 3FF occasionally 4. A five person engine module can easily double the work of a 3 person module since it has twice as many "workers" plus the operator.

  • 3 person module, supervisor, operator, FF
  • 5 person module, supervisor, operator, 3 FF

Looks pretty simple to me why someone would order Fed resources without them being biased towards the Fed agencies. Fed resources are different from most State / Local Govt and can usually outperform them due to greater people power, the fact they are usually cheaper is an added bonus.

Its easy to point fingers but a simple look at the guides we are all supposed to be familiar with makes the reasons pretty obvious. Work gets done by people and few agencies match the Feds staffing.

It's not easy being green

9/4 Medical response by land management agency engines:

Musings from the field... holiday ramblings...

The holiday weekend brought an avian fire and medicals to my neck of the woods and our response to the latter is the subject of my post. I work for an unnamed agency that just so happens to drive an odd shade of green truck, our policy (or at least the way we perceive it in the field) is that we don't do medicals... the joke around the station is, if the camper's broken leg (insert t.c., or civilian injury of choice) is not a threat to the wildland then we don't roll.

However, we do roll... we care as human beings, firefighters as forestry techs. For that matter, often we self dispatch because the nearest ambulance is twenty miles away. We carry oxygen and a trauma bag and do what we can until the ambulance arrives. Nevertheless, when the incident is over, we often feel the need to justify our actions to the ECC or others (perhaps this is all in our head but methinks not).

It seems at times, that despite our ability - my engine has four EMT's - our agency doesn't realize the predicament we face, to the public and to ourselves: we are tasked de facto with providing first aid on federal land, however it seems the policy still fails to recognize this fact. I am sure all of us would expect and desire the quick attention of a well trained group of first responders for our families if the need arose on our national forests - the attention most engine crews in my neck of the woods can provide. It is imperative, therefore, that we provide this for the folks that pay our salaries with a clear policy and dispatch system that recognizes this fact. All risk or not, we have a duty to act.


9/3 Please continue to post updates on the Pigeon Fire. I
have property and relatives in Junction City who may
be in the path of the fire. Thank You very much.

9/3 Ab's

Sorry I started so much discussion on internet connections. Maybe it will lead to some good somewhere.

As I am sure you have discovered for yourselves, even with a high speed connection, you are not assured of fast downloads. Take for example the fire planning and mapping tools. (At least that which is public) It is slow even with a cable modem. Sometimes even the NWS is slow.

It all depends on the server speed and capacity, the internet traffic overall and the traffic through the routers and switches nearest you; or where your transaction is passing through. Just having a good connection does not assure fast transfer. Sure would be nice for each IMT to have the capability to use satellite connections, like ships do. Each forest/district/unit and each IMT have it's own earth station , a satellite to link with and all the goodies to go with. Likely not in our lifetimes, budget stuff being what it is.

I guess the fire service would be lucky to have satellite phones for the real remote locations, I hope they do!

I feel so sorry for the people in the SHF area, they have had smoke and inversion for weeks on weeks now, then this new fire crops up. Rains get here soon.

Again thank you AB for providing this forum and allowing an outsider to participate, hopefully some things I say are of help. Best wishes to the firefighters throughout the country.


You're welcome. Ab.

9/3 Mellie,

The Pigeon Fire is still ripping. Look at the column in the Cal Trans Web cam,
about 10 miles away on Oregon Mt. (the summit between Weaverville & Junction 



9/3 DS,

Hoarding resources? The Orleans complex has over 10 miles of open line, holding in a creek, and only has 5 engines and 2 crews on 15,710 acres. The Titus fire, just up the highway, demobed crews early, and now it's burning again, Ordering up a T2 team. There is still lots of reburn potential on the Somes Fire, and hot spots smoking all over it. That's why the fire is keeping a minimum of crews through the weekend. 

As for hours, who ever said you get guaranteed 16 hours a day? Crews on the Somes are getting 12 with Hazard pay, pretty good for holding and rehab. 

I get so sick of folks sniveling because they aren't getting 16's, even if they are doing nothing, which is what you said you were doing if you're on a crew. So, if you weren't working, why should you deserve 16 hours? You don't sound very professional, wishing fires on Nor Cal, and whining about hours. We need crews that work, not snivel.


9/3 Many thanks to Sinclear's SoCal Team3 for putting the BakeOven 
Ops map on Inciweb. With the closure of Hwy 299 due to rollout 
from the Pigeon Fire, it's great to still be getting good info via the web.

I know I don't need to say it, but Be Safe
Even if it is wilderness, make the safety zones large enough.
Remember, there was a blowup and a 5 mile run on the Big Bar 
Complex '99. What has been low level, smoldering fire can sometimes 
pick up and run in these steep mountains.


9/3 I find this web site very interesting. Lots of input from folks on certain
matters that only upper Fire Management could explain, (daily conference
calls with IMTs etc.) and some input from folks that have not been around
very long. 

I have been on fires when 21 days turned into 30+ days. I
recently have been on fire assignments for 14 days, got home and the two days
RnR fell on my days off, then been on an assignment when I was paid for
the two days off. Its just the way the dice fall. I do not ever recall when
I demobed anyone early to save money on a fire or just to cheat them out of
Admin Leave. 

Hanging on to IH Crews and engines happens a lot due to a
variety of issues, some explained and some not. It's hard to take a crew on
a fire with only two - three days left out of their fourteen. I think teams
would like to have resources with 14 days. So you send them home after 11
-13 days they get 2 days off (normal days off) and then they are up for an
assignment for 14 more. IHCs are in big demand so they are not usually home
very long. 

Each Forest or Field Office works with the IMT to determine
needs for resources when turning over an Incident to the unit as a Type III
incident and usually the Type III incident will work with the team to
identify needed resources. 

There are some things I do know. I am guaranteed
80 hour base checks, I will still go to fires when needed, I don't always
like what happens on fires (politics), I am still on dial-up so can't keep
up with all the new mandatory training requiring DSL/Turbo or cable and I
have two Pack test left. the rest is all learning experience. 

Keep asking those questions and keep those replies coming in so we can educate
each other and get rid of the RUMORS. 

Ah what going on with the one Federal Wildland Fire Agency?

Still Learning

Thanks for your input. Welcome. Ab.

9/3 Just my two bits on this hoarding of resources. 

The places that are doing this need to be smacked down and something needs to be done about this. I currently came off a fire on the Six Rivers and we had an abundant number of Fed crews sitting around doing stupid work all because the Forest doesn't want to let them go. We left and a number of crews were patrolling about five miles of road and other crews were on the chipper crew. Then on top of that now they decide they need to save money so they cut everyones hours, a real morale boost for everyone that had to stay on the fire. I really hope Northern Cal gets slammed with fires and no one sends them resources. This crap that R5 is pulling right now is simply wrong. Lets fight the fires we have and quit this "We might get a fire" stuff. If management doesn't have the guts to do whats right then retire or move out of the way for people that take this job more serious. If you're afraid of your own shadow then maybe it's time to take a look at what you're doing and just simply move on. And for the people that have to work on the forest way up in the NW corner of the state, I'm sorry you have to work there, I don't think I've seen more disgruntled crews in my life. Not only is the fire shafting them their forest is too. A lot of supervisors who are legends in their own minds.


DS, I feel your frustration, but let's not be wishing anyone or anywhere gets slammed with fires. Sounds like you got demobed when the team turned the fire back to the forest Type III organization. 

From what I've observed, teams that are timing out often don't simultaneously want to reduce crews too drastically in transition; IHCs have some experience on the fire and can provide knowledge, continuity and leadership. Team transition is one watchout. Add crew transition to the mix and it could be worse. I believe that teams need to mitigate risk, especially during team transition. Considering the big picture is prudent.

Another thing I've observed is that when a fire begins, everyone comes on board in lock-step on their 14 days. Teams try to get the crews staggered so all crews do not time out all at once, requiring replacement. This was a problem this summer for some norcal lightning complex fires and there were apparently no Type 1 replacement crews to be had. Ab.

9/3 Here's one of those slower loading pdfs that should be read if you're fighting fire in NorCal.

September 2006


Tahoe Terrie

9/3 Ab(s) -- longtime lurker, firsttime e-mailer. Felt the need to e-mail in support of your comment at the bottom of RJMs 9/2 post. 

Your comment on SPEED OF DOWNLOAD as a safety (and effectiveness and efficiency) issue is SPOT-ON !! The "digital divide" between those with lightning-fast internet connections and those with snail-speed dial-up is huge and continues to widen. I just got a DSL connection to replace dial-up at work and the difference is Amazing. I quickly realized that I had been sub-consciously avoiding accessing some websites and checking on certain things - like real-time NWS radar maps, like on-line training modules, etc, due to the slowness of dialup. Glad to hear that this item was brought up in R5 earlier this year. Thanks to you for spreading the word on TheySaid - and for providing the html version of the IMSR daily.

Sidenote -- the reformatting of the IMSR (NICC Sit Report) is a good thing - definitely more user friendly and easier to read and absorb - especially for family and friends who dont live-eat-breathe the report every day. Thanks to the folks who made that happen.

Tip of the hardhat to you, Abs, for the service you provide on TheySaid. Thoughts and Prayers for all firefighters on the line nationwide. 

Sign me - "Stumpie"

Stumpie -- Welcome to posting on theysaid. We can provide the service, but the contributors make it happen. Ab.

9/3 Ab

I have better than DSL, I have cable.
The PDF link is the one I have had bookmarked for years. 

To talk about PDF files, we discussed this a little before. I am used to making PDF's that combine Word and Excel and sometimes Access, into one document.
Size is not so bad when you PDF from a file. Now when you scan a file into PDF look out. Megabytes in seconds.

I do use your link if I want to look at a back issue of the Morning Report. Same data, just a little different appearance except there is no "6 minutes to safety" in the HTML report; HTML is 36 KB against the 144 KB for the PDF for today's report.

I do agree that when you are out on the end of a long phone line, or trying to link over a cell phone, the smaller the better.
Don't see how ICP's in the boonies use the fire mapping tools etc. that are on the net.
I think HPWREN makes a difference for ICP's for incidents on MVU. They can give them High Speed Internet, plus phone in short order.

MVU has been a little crazy this afternoon. Likely not as bad as some of the units up north have been lately but multiple starts in short period of time (and a bunch of medical calls); right after sending a batch of units to RRU. Even had San Diego City "Copter 1" in route to the Granite incident. From what I can hear now everything is within reach of containment. If no one else has I will update the incident when I get back to the page.

Have a good holiday weekend.

BTW check the NWS San Diego home page, Flash Flood watches and warnings where the fires are.

9/2 Okay folks, three more limericks from "The Nozzle Hog"

In a "port-a-john" near fire camp
A hotshot went in for a nap
But what a surprise
When he opened his eyes
It was dark and he had no headlamp

You can run but you can't always hide
A shelter is best kept at your side
For when big flames you meet
You should beat a retreat
Or you'll end up like Bonnie and Clyde

Crewman: "It's a shame we must walk in from here"
Squad boss: "It's a shame that we can't have a beer"
Crew boss: "It's a shame, it's a shame,
If I hear it again...
I'll kick you both square in rear !"

-- The Nozzle Hog
9/2 Ab

The NICC Interagency Management Sit Report is presented in a new format today.
www.nifc.gov/nicc/sitreprt.pdf (pdf file)

Like the new format of the IMSR, tabular data for each area is nice, previously only 
available by looking at the GACC (some of them).

This change makes it a little easier to read as far as the big picture overview goes, 
and they have not taken away anything that was there.

Sometimes change is good.

Hope this holiday weekend is not a backbreaker for the boots on the ground, 
available resources being drawn down like they are.

And Nozzle Hog, like your stuff, keep em coming.


RJM, you must have a fast DSL hookup. PDF files are usually the lazy webster's choice for presentation of information to wildland firefighters. They're fatter and clunkier than html, unwieldy and slow for firefighters logging on to read a document remotely. 

Because we know that most remote firefighter internet capabilities are slow, we offer the link to the fast and simple html version of the National Fire Sit Report on the links page

Speed of download is an issue that came up at the R5 Chief Officers' meeting last year. The WO speaker, maybe Harbour, was proudly speaking about this web program and that one. A chief in the audience spoke up to say that most ranger district computers couldn't call up the page he was talking about because download was so slow on the remote forest equipment and lines: it timed out before download was complete. Harbour, or whoever it was, was speechless. I mean, what can you say? It's like saying a fire shelter doesn't work or the hose has no water pressure or the com unit is spouting garbled conversations between firefighters in SoCal  overlaid by conversations between firefighters in Nevada, because the frequencies of the two areas overlap.

For many, speed of download is a safety issue that goes unrecognized. Ab.

9/2 "The Nozzle Hog"

Love the limericks
would love to see more
add supporting photos
and its a book in a store.

Strawberry Mom
9/2 Keep an eye on Oregon redflags for haines six, low rh and dry lightning on labor day weekend for all fire zones
And I am the duty fire officer all weekend
Lets be safe out there

9/2 Re: Crazy hotshot Wife's Post

Another thing to think about for the crews who have only 2 or 3 more days left on their tours. If they make it to 14 days, they get to take 2 days off and quite possibly get them paid days off. I have been on fires all summer where I have gone 10 to 13 days and been released. Then I have gone home and not had any days off or I have been sent home just to take my regular unpaid days off. The team could be thinking about the morale of the crews. It is quite degrading to be sent home just so that you can get you "regular scheduled days off" so that the government can save a GS-5's base wages for a day or 2.

My 2 cents may mean nothing especially since your husband may have been gone all summer and you want to see him. I do feel for situations like that and I hope you get to see him soon.

No paid days off all summer
9/2 Nozzle Hog

Keep em coming

9/1 Crazy Hot Shot Wife;

I guess if I was running things over at South Ops, I would do the same thing.
It would be a good feeling having all those crew buggies lined up in one place.
Considering the weather and the long weekend coming up.
Gotta take the bad with the good.


9/1 Ground-pounding literary scholars might enjoy these... Fire Fighter Limericks

Said a PeeO'ed Hotshot named Ike
"There's not a lot here that we like...
The team is so bent
on saving a cent
We're all off-the-clock while we spike!"

It's preposterous to dig line on this ground
tis so rocky my Pulaski is round,
through rocks and through roots
so tough that my boots
Are yelping like dogs in the pound

While brushing his teeth with great haste
A rookie mistook soap for toothpaste
He wiped off his chin
with a big foaming grin
"ummm, this brand has a peculiar taste"

Wildland firefighters today
are Americas great heroes they say
through the smoke and the dust
the going is rough
And the work far exceeds what they pay

Limericks courtesy of:
"The Nozzle Hog"
9/1 Here's another thought on a fire hoarding crews.

Six of the Eight crews only have a few days left of their 14 day tours. Should they break a fire this weekend...... those crews would all need to be released Monday or Tuesday, then South Zone would have to scramble to order crews because all the local SoCal crews would be timed out!! However, if they demobbed them all home today, then by Monday they'd be available for 14 days!!! Plus all the crews they are hoarding are considered local crews anyways, most have no more than a 4 hour ETA to an incident. Doesn't make sense to me.

--Crazy Hotshot Wife

9/1 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
9/1 Crazy Hotshot Wife,

The IHC's crews are being demobed (tentatively) on Saturday 9/2.

A Hotshot
9/1 Crazy Hotshot Wife

Sorry you are feeling crazy. Red flag warnings are up for today in S. Cal
due to low humidity and critically dry fuels. Add to that a holiday
weekend with lots of people, outdoor activities, and the chance of fire
starts and no wonder the hotshot crews are being held - swift initial
attack is critical.

9/1 Howdy ma'am (HS wife)

Chances are high that those doing illegal and negligent target shooting and
other fire-related activities will be out in force over the weekend. Thank
your husband for mitigating the risk. It's hot and dry.

retired McLeod

9/1 Crazy Hot shot wife,

Your concern is very valid. This is going on all over the place with the federal agencies (specifically) holding on to crews (Agency and Contract) under the guise of severity and "something might happen" and mean time active fires are burning and IC's are crying for crews to work on their fires.

Frankly, in my opinion, it is morally and ethically wrong. Sure, something might happen but then again, it might not. Meanwhile there is lots happening all over the western US.

Maybe it is time to let our public officials know what is going on, because in the meantime, the "hoarding" of resources is affecting the ability of other incidents to manage effectively. Somehow that does not seem right!!

As for Canadians and fire shelters...................... It is my understanding that they will use them here in the US because that is our policy and they are here at our request. They will need to be provided the training before being assigned to the fire line. I do not know if that is actually happening but that was the discussion, in my agency, last winter when this issue came to light.

Sign me,

Aggravated with hoarding
9/1 I second Lori Greeno.

Vicki Minor and Wildland Firefighters Foundation is an asset we cannot afford NOT to support. What she means to the community of wildland firefighter family survivors is fairly well known to us who are surviving our loss, and through venues like this, to the wildland fire community in general. What the average firefighter doesn't realize, though, is that in the blink of an eye, their life could change forever. A work related accident could render them gravely injured, or send their families on a journey no wildland firefighters family should ever have to take. Then what?

If there were no Foundation, I know my life would be very different from what it is now. Burying my daughter is not something I ever planned on, and certainly never thought I could survive. The Foundation has been essential for me. It has provided me another window into my daughter's life in wildland fire, her love of firefighting and the people in fire, and expanded my knowledge of her reasons for doing this dangerous job. It has helped me reconcile my daughter's death in fire, and continue on with my life.

I am proud of Heather and what she accomplished. I am proud to support WFF. Both my husband and I belong to the 52 Club. A dollar a week is nothing compared to the benefit of having people like Vicki and and Foundation ready and financially able to help the next firefighter or firefighter's family. It's way less than a Starbuck's and in the end, you feel a whole lot better afterwards knowing you will be helping someone, somewhere, when the next eye blinks....

Sylvia Kratzke
9/1 Crazy Hotshot Wife,

You take the king's coins..... you sing the king's tune...............

the fiddler
~Archive: August-06
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