October, 2006

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10/31 I have been reading alot of posts lately also, about brotherhood. I am glad
we are all united and I hope it stays that way for a long time.

When the investigation gets really rolling I hope and pray that all agencies
click on the archives page and read ALOT of these great messages and
remember brother/sister hood. Backburnfs couldn't have said any better
about staying together and taking care of each other, great message....


A wonderful and heartfelt message and I feel your and all of BDF's pain
in this time of tragedy. Every time I watch the news and see updates from
the burn center, it makes me proud to see the San Bernardino N.F. in the
back ground, united.

Stay strong. I pray for all of you.


10/31 Firefighter deaths

My deepest sympathies go with the families of course, but remember there are lots of us who worked with these folks. In my case I worked with Mark in the winter on a few assignments, great guy can't say enough. Anyway take time to reflect on whats important to you and remember the things that you shared with these folks.

I lost someone close to me in the line of duty and I tell you what I will never be the same. There isn't a day I don't think about it or remember the events that led up to his death and sometimes its lonely; no one will ever know what you had with that person or how you felt when you finally realized that they're not coming back. Its a hard thing to swallow, but eventually it gets easier to deal with and talk about.

Trust me, I was very angry and still do have anger issues with how it just happens sometimes for no reason, and why that person? It just doesn't make sense sometimes, but you find ways to deal with it.

Enough rambling. Take care of each other and tell 'em you love them because you may never get another chance, I wish I had that second chance!

RCoFD/CDF Fireman

10/31 Fallen Firefighters

I have worked with some of the firefighters who lost their lives during
the Esperanza burnover. I new Jason McKay the best, with him being
my first crew boss in my first week last year on the Tahquitz Crew.
Jason was really a cool guy to be around, and fun to be with. When
I found out what engine it was that was burned over, it hit me.

All of them will be missed.

It makes me sad to learn of Pablo Cerda passing.


10/31 Backburnfs,

Wow, Great post! Over the years, people have asked me what it's like to fight wildfires. How can you ever put it all in simple terms? It's everything from staging, to cold trailing and mop-up, to a wild firefight, to running like hell. The one thing that always comes first is "what a great bunch of people!"

I'd have to say that a great majority of us are here because we love what we do. I'd be preaching to the choir here about firefighter mishaps, so I'll say this. When the next call comes in for each of us, we'll be putting on our nomex, and grabbing our gear on the way out the door. That's who we are, and that's what we do.

Back to "what a great bunch of people". We're all here "on the porch" grieving, and "banging things around" trying to come up with better ways for all of us. We might be taking different tacks, but it's all for the better. Grieving is all of that... it's the crying, it's the screaming, and it's telling stories. We need some stories about the guys.

The meaningful story, so far, was the post containing the Aug. 31st news article [Idyllwild Town Crier] where Engine 57's crew delivered Brodyn Posey into our world.

What a legacy. Could it only happen in a movie? Start of the 2025 season... and you've got some newbies on your crew. You holler out "what's your name rookie?" "Posey"

Stay safe! "Kicks"

10/31 Pablo Cerda has passed away. This is a very sad time for all of us. Ab.
10/31 Memorial Service for Fallen Firefighters

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIF. – The San Bernardino National Forest has been working closely with the families of the fallen firefighters to help arrange private funerals for each. A public memorial service honoring the firefighters is also planned.

Details for the public memorial service are as follows:

Service Date: Sunday, November 5, 2006, 1:00 pm
Location: Hyundai Pavilion
Glen Helen Park
2575 Glen Helen Parkway
Devore, CA 92407

Further details of the memorial service and media and public protocol will follow later this week. For questions, call the San Bernardino Engine 57 Support Line at 909-383-5501.

The Forest Service firefighters tragically lost their lives while in the line of duty. The deceased are Mark Loutzenhiser, Jess McLean, Jason McKay, and Daniel Hoover Najera. A fifth firefighter, Pablo Cerda, remains in very critical condition.
10/31 First of all it is with deep sadness and sorrow from my crew and myself for
the loss of Engine 57 and our hearts and prayers go out to their family and
friends. I have been reading "They Said" this afternoon with a heavy heart
and see much concern on many different issues. They ALL are very important
issues. But we must first take care of our fallen brothers and their
families and set aside other issues for a later date. Fire does not know
which county or state it is in or what color your engine is or what title
you have. Firefighting is a very dangerous job and always will be.

Signed BDF Captain
10/31 Fire Community,

I just need to tell you all how honored I am to call you friends,
how blessed I feel for being called friend, and how amazing
I feel you all are.

Pablo, you're in our hearts. I will never forget.


10/31 Ab, I have been holding off on writing about the recent firefighter
fatalities because I was at a loss for words. I guess I found them now.

First and foremost we have to take care of the families of the four who
were killed and the one in the hospital. It is our duty to do this, and an
honor to be able to do so.

We can do a much better job of helping them than the government can. Yes
the government can give money and other assistance but we can give our
love, prayers and respect.

Every time we have firefighter fatalities “They Said” gets swamped with
posts that range from ‘fires are dangerous and people are going to die” to
“hey someone screwed up so lets get them” or ‘it’s the OPM and USFS’s
fault because they don’t recognize us as firefighters and we don’t get paid

Well I am just as guilty as the rest of you, just look at some of my past

The facts are that we all feel helpless when these tragedies envelope us,
and our consciences tell us that we have to try and make it right.

We do have a way to help make it right. Give whatever you can to one of
the memorial/survivor funds that grace these pages.

The firefighting “community” has been called a family here and other
places. Let’s show those who have lost loved ones or are dealing with
severe injuries that we are a family and that we take care of one another.

As far as the other political issues go lets give it a rest until we are
sure that we have done our duty to those who are hurting so badly.

God Bless, Backburnfs
10/31 Ab,

This was posted on CDF Firefighters public webpage.

Let the bureaucrats do their thing but just remember there isn't a Cal Fire Firefighter that wouldn't stand toe to toe with our brothers and sisters of the USFS in the heat of battle. With deepest respect.


Thanks Jake. Ab.


October 31st, 2006
Esperanza Fire Burn-over Investigation

As all of you are aware, a tragic burn-over occurred on the Esperanza Fire resulting in four deaths and one very critical injury. A CDF Accident Investigation Team was set up, and is proceeding with their investigation. This team has made arrangements for representation where it is needed, so all CDF personnel should co-operate in every way possible with that team.

It has come to the attention of CDF Firefighters that the federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) is also conducting an investigation. Until such time as CDF management determines how employees of the Department will interact with OIG and gives specific instructions on what procedures will be followed, including but not limited to how representation issues will be covered during interviews with the OIG, rank and file personnel (and all others) should not interact with members of the OIG team. This would include not responding to questions until such time as the Department has given direction to employees on the parameters of co-operation with OIG.

Unless the Department orders an employee to respond, an individual is not required to answer questions posed by OIG. My strong recommendation is to not respond until CDF management has clarified what personnel are required to do with regard to the OIG investigation. Any CDF Firefighters member who is contacted by OIG should notify me immediately.

Ken Hale
State Rank and File Director
CDF Firefighters, IAFF Local 2881

10/31 File Code: 6730 Date: October 30, 2006
Route To:

Subject: Expanded 72-hour Briefing
San Bernardino National Forest

To: Chief of the Forest Service
Director California Department of Forestry



On October 26, 2006 five wildland firefighters were entrapped during initial attack fire suppression operations on the Esperanza Fire in Riverside County, California. Three firefighters were killed at the scene, and two were airlifted to Arrowhead Regional Hospital. One firefighter died in the hospital. A fifth firefighter involved in the accident remains in critical condition with 3rd degree burns over 90 percent of his body.

Preliminary Factual Findings:

The five firefighters assigned to Alandale Engine 57 at the time of the accident were from the San Jacinto Ranger District and included Captain Mark Loutzenhiser, Fire Engine Operator Jess McClean, Assistant Fire Engine Operator Jason McKay, firefighter Daniel Hoover-Najera, and firefighter Pablo Cerda who is the survivor.

The fatalities occurred in the mountain community of Twin Pines approximately 3 miles southwest of Cabazon, California and one mile north of the San Bernardino National Forest. At the time of the entrapment, Engine 57 was engaged in structure protection operations at an isolated, unoccupied home near the junction of Wonderview Road and Gorgonio View Road.

Fuels in the area were predominately continuous heavy chaparral/manzanita best described as Fire Behavior Fuel Model 4.

A red flag warning was in effect for the area at the time of the accident. An onset of Santa Ana winds with a notable increase in velocity contributed to extreme fire behavior, including a rapid rate of fire spread and fire size growth.

Topography in the vicinity is very steep. The accident site is situated above and between two significant drainages.

The Model 62, Type 3 engine was parked facing out on a dead end dirt driveway next to an out building. The engine was totally consumed by fire.

All firefighters were outside the engine at the time of the entrapment and no fire shelters were deployed.


The suspected arson-caused fire was reported to Federal Interagency Communication Center in San Bernardino on October 26, 2006 at 1:22 a.m. The fire was set at the bottom of a slope near the town of Cabazon, California and Interstate 10. It spread southwest uphill toward State Highway 243 and the residential community of Twin Pines.

Engine 57 was part of an initial attack response involving multiple suppression resources from the Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF). CDF had jurisdiction of the fire at the time. The focus of the operation was evacuation of residents and structure protection. At approximately 7:30 a.m. a five-person engine crew from the USDA Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest was overrun by wildfire during structure protection operations.

A National Interagency Serious Accident Investigation Team is assigned with Co-Team Leaders Randy Moore, a 26-year veteran the U. S. Forest Service, who serves as the Eastern Region Regional Forester based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Brad Harris, a 22-year veteran of the California Department of Forestry, who serves as the Unit Chief for Nevada-Yuba-Placer District in Northern California. The objective of this safety investigation is to determine facts surrounding the incident, identify lessons learned, and develop recommendations for accident prevention purposes.

Randy Moore
Brad Harris

Ruben Grijalva, Director California Department of Forestry
Dick King, USDA Forest Service

Press Release

Wildland Firefighter Foundation Sets Up Local Fund to Support Families of Fallen and Injured Firefighters

Release Date: October 31, 2006

SAN BERNARDINO, CA – Wildland firefighters represent the diversity of the land they protect. They are federal, state and local firefighters, private sector firefighters, interface firefighters, and volunteers from rural communities and towns across the United States. Many are long-time career professionals, some much newer to the job. They're ordinary people doing an extraordinary job – a community of committed individuals who work and train to protect our private and public lands.

This last week, Mark Loutzenhiser, Daniel Hoover-Najera, Jason McKay, and Jess McLean were tragically killed on a wildfire near Banning, California. Another firefighter, Pablo Cerda, was critically injured and remains in the hospital receiving treatment for his burns.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has been working with the families of the fallen and injured firefighters from the San Bernardino National Forest since last Thursday. Due to the great need and expense of supporting these families, a local fund has been established at Arrowhead Credit Union to rapidly serve the needs of the survivors.

Last year, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation gave more than $85,000 in emergency grants to families. On this incident alone, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation has spent nearly $40,000 in just the first few days supporting the families. Additional support will obviously be needed.

Vicki Minor, Founder and Director of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation said, “This Foundation has been supporting Wildland Firefighters and their families since 1994 following the tragedy on Storm King Mountain in Colorado. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation honors and recognizes our wildland firefighters and strives to take care of our fallen and injured.

Donations to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation or the local Firefighters Fund can be made at any Arrowhead Credit Union location. Donations may also be sent to:

Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way
Boise, Idaho 83705

Donations may also be made online at: http://www.wffoundation.org
For additional information: Burk Minor, Public Relations, 208-841-9478

10/31 Class C Sagebrush Faller

You made a very wise statement when you said “This means that all firefighting personnel need to be on top of their game and to tend to themselves”. I have found over the years that to be true. You can see it in an OSC or DIVS eyes when they are wide and they are talking a mile a minute. That’s a good red flag warning to really review what you are being told to do. If you are familiar with Reason’s Swiss Cheese model, you see the layer of mistakes that are made to put you in a bad spot—but you also can see the one hole that the guy on the end of the layers can plug to avoid a tragedy. That last layer is the one who suffers the worst consequences. CYA!


10/31 Today was my first time visiting your forum. I have a request if I may.

Each April the Southern CA Fire Training Officer's Association puts on an "Entrapment Program". We invite entrapment survivors to Orange County (from anywhere in the US, expenses paid) to speak to an audience of firefighters from all over Southern CA (up to 300) on their experience. We've had 3 years of awesome survivor and non-survivor stories creating an atmosphere of learning second to none.

We are looking for potential speakers at our April 2007 program. If you know of anyone we can contact that may benefit our audience please contact me. My e-mail address is: den4fire@aol.com

Thank you,
Dennis Childress
Orange County Fire
10/31 Casey (or someone from FWFSA)-

Can you post a few talking points (for those of us who are not fed employees)
who want to write our congressional delegations? Just because some of our
checks come from state, county, and municipal dollars doesn't mean we can't
support your effort.


10/31 Hey Oliver, where is check-in for your incident? I'm all ready. Heck,
why dig around the Rose Garden? Why not go right through it? Let's
set up fire camp out on the National Mall.

Still Out There as an AD
10/31 Abs, all;

I would like to take a moment to tender my heartfelt sorrow at the passing of those lost in So. Cal. While not shirking our duties, I was glad that we were in the process of being laid off and unavailable to mobilize....

We were party to a couple of fires this year involving burnovers. New York (where it did take 4 HOURS to get the last injured firefighter flown off the hill) and Mudd left an impression and a bad taste in all our mouths, and I was not enthusiastic about being cast into another politically charged fire again this season.

It seems to me that whenever something goes catastrophically wrong on a fire, the overhead climate usually gets more dangerous. Instead of hearing "we want to keep the fire east of blockhead canyon," you start hearing "we WILL keep the fire east of blockhead canyon." Fighting the fire becomes personal, and in the rush to avenge the losses sometimes judgment can become clouded.

This means that all firefighting personnel need to be on top of their game and to tend to themselves. Please, fellows--it has been a long, long season. Be heads up, be smart, be safe.

Maybe it is too soon to voice this question, and abs, I give you full editorial power, but doesn't it seem as though there has been a disproportionate number of these accidents this year? I don't mean to point fingers or cast blame, but something seems to have fundamentally changed with respect to either attitude, fuel loading, or weather that has led to alot of "freak events" this season.

The majority of them have been "freak events" too.....If we had been on the right flank instead of the left, what happened to Eldo on the New York fire would have happened to us.

I challenge all still in pay status to look at your policies, look at your practices, and look to your people. The So Cal season is just kicking off after a bad year nationally, and people are starting to show the wear and tear. Make sure your people are in the right mindset. We are trained and motivated and conditioned to hack it no matter how hard the job or how tired we get...so look for signs of stress and fatigue and take them seriously.

This has been a tragic season on multiple counts already. Let's make sure it doesn't get any worse.

Class C Sagebrush Faller
10/31 Before "They Said " readers place too much blame on the current administration I thought a look at history would reveal the problems of today are somewhat the same as yesterdays...

Posted on They Said September 1999.

I think it is more than obvious, that we are reaping the "benefits" of downsizing in the FS. First we had the consent decree, which drove many of our brighter firefighters to other organizations and left a bad taste in the mouths of many who remained. Then Clinton and Gore came in with their downsizing of government. Crews and engines and aircraft were cut. The militia was cut back. No longer were we fully staffed. We have fire planners, but their advice is ignored in favor of making of FMTs' goals of cutting budgets. Their version of going along with the flow. This fire, which isn't over yet, is not the mother of all seasons. This many starts is really a fairly normal occurrence. The difference this year is the lack of resources to attack fire. Now days we are unable to support multiple large fires. The numbers are not there. Also, I  have noticed a great deal of hording of resources. I am afraid that things will not get any better. After this season is over, nobody in congress, nobody in the media will remember or even give a *****

I know Casey and others are working hard for change but since I was an impressionable young adult in the late 60"s and early 70's I've been thinking lately that maybe it's time for civil disobedience? Say about 1,000 green and yellow fire fighters digging hand line around the White House and Rose garden?


10/31 Casey,

You posted

1) stop the FS investigation until
    a) the OIG is done &
    b) those lost are laid to rest & remembered
2) challenge this on a constitutional issue
3) once congress reconvenes, either repeal or amend the Cantwell-Hastings bill
4) work to ensure the Agency covers 100% of any liability insurance premium.

It is terribly disappointing that the Agency would race to investigate before the OIG and more importantly, bring in a R9 team with no one from R5. If it smells fishy, chances are its a fish...

I whole heartily agree with items 1-3 above. I have two issues with item 4.

My preferred future condition is that all Agencies support their employees and none of us needs liability insurance.

Absent that, all agencies should cover liability insurance for all employees.

While the USFS is the 1200 pound gorilla (and USFS R-5 which I believe is California is the 800 lb orangutan) it is not the only animal in the menagerie. Owing to the inter agency nature of wildland fire management even though I am not a USFS employee the shadow of OIG investigation hangs over me. USFS employees work on assignments on my non-USFS unit. I in turn work on USFS units. I believe this opens me to investigation by OIG should any burn over or fatality happen involving a USFS employee.

So let's include all of the federal agencies that have wildland fire management responsibilities.

And give that there are GS-5 seasonals out there that are ICT4's, making significant decisions on rapidly escalating fires, we need to make this available to all, not just Agency Administrators and Supervisors.

Small Agency Fire Guy

10/31 HI Ab,

Here is something I'll share with wildland fire community regarding Legal Representation for those who have limited resources, or in the Federal Firefighter's case, Lack of Agency support.

As a federal firefighter, I have been told and have seen where the agency when confronted with the threat of a lawsuit or other legal action that will cost money, at least in my agency, those at the top would rather settle with money that fight it out, regardless to the validity of the complaintant.

Because I am a federal firefighter, if I am accused of malpractice or a complaint of malpractice, an act that offended someone, an accident that causes injury to a government employee or visitor who makes a complaint, valid or not, the agency will absolve itself of the problem and force the responsibility on the employee to defend themselves. UNLESS someone is there with a video camera or a dozen witnesses to what happened, the government will say "Its not our fault. You're on your own."

Now I belong to the IAFF Union, and have some support as far as legal aid in the event of an unlawful or illegal personnel action. My union would have to pick part or all of the tab if needed, which could bankrupt it. But, for example, I go out and treat a patient at the scene of an emergency, stay within my scope of practice, and either the patient complains or sues my agency, they will basically force it on me to prove I was right.

Because of this agency's attitude, I carry a legal aid policy called Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc., where for a monthly fee I have access to near immediate legal representation and information if I am confronted with a complaint or legal suit fro something I did or did not do. There are two levels of coverage, personal coverage and professional coverage. The Professional coverage I carry cost me about $28.00 per month and is withdrawn each month from my bank account.

I have had this for three years, and though I have not had to use it professionally, I have used it for personal matters that required me to seek legal advice that could have cost me at the least a few hundred dollars for a direct attorney's consultation. I work with fire captains, paramedics, and chief officers who don't trust the most Nepotistic-Empire Building organization in the Federal System with their professional futures.

What my service will not cover is legal aid in the event of a drunk driving arrest with a positive alcohol test. That was made clear to me before I signed up.

There are other services similar to this one available to both government and private sector employees. To me, that small amount of money I pay per month for the last several years can be returned to me Ten-Fold or greater if I have need of a single representation.

This is a service that can make a difference if either a liability or criminal issue comes knocking on your door. The way I look at this is just like an insurance policy, I need it if I screw up, or if someone accuses me of screwing up.

CDF and other larger municipal fire agencies have strong unions with deep pockets to defend their members. Right now a CDF engineer is facing manslaughter charges for a fire engine accident that killed a firefighter who did not put on his seatbelt, a charge brought on by an over-zealous district attorney. If that person had to pay for his defense they would loose their home, their savings, and everything they owned if the union did not step up to defend their member.

Does anyone here think that the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or National Park Service would step up to defend someone who was "not part of the protected crowd"? Like the Alpine County, CA Fire of 1987? The NPS Crew Burnover of 2000 in Nevada? We have small associations that don't have deep pockets, and a government that will take the easy way out, regardless of right and wrong. I think of Storm King if I take a crew out and someone is injured or killed upon my watch, and watch how fast the agency scapegoats the people least likely to defend themselves, or most likely to take "a deal".

I also see when the government protects the most worthless human beings doing stupid things on incidents, endangering others, yet nothing happens to them because of their "political" connections. I have to be responsible for myself, and be prepared to defend myself.

Four of our brother firefighters perished this last week performing their duties in Riverside County. They died fighting a fire that was started by an arsonist. I looked at what they were doing at the time, and with what I saw and learned I think they did the right things but, like any dangerous job, they got caught by the conditions of the job, and disaster struck. How many structural firefighters die each year from collapsing structures, being struck by passing cars on an accident scene, or other factors that happen when Murphy's Law kicks in?

You have to ultimately protect yourself and your family when you work for the big three Federal wildland fire agencies. They don't have your best interest in mind when it hits the fan, just political expediency.

As a federal firefighter, I'm glad that organizations such as the Wildland Firefighter Foundation exist to help families of those who are injured or have fallen with the unfortunate lack of support the federal government gives to those wildland firefighters affected and their families. The two firefighters burned on the Winnemucca Fire this year had to have outside help to get the care and support to the families they needed. The State and Local government agencies of California step up and take care of their injured employees, with some help from the local unions.

I hope many of you see the value that $25.00 to $50.00 per month can be when faced with legal bills that can amount to tens-of-thousands of dollars or more.

10/31 Pyro5755,

You said, "...I'm sick to death of burying friends."

I am also.... Buddies like you help us keep the friends we bury to a minimum.

10/31 Howdy,

Appreciate and agree with your comment, eric. You
folks have a lot to deal with now days. The interface
problems were nowhere near as challenging a few years
back. It gets worse and worse. Some of this looks like
p*ss poor planning on the part of the county building
codes. Of course, that's a whole different can of

10/31 Bill "Bronco" Molnar,

Thank you for the support from the R-5 Captains Group and your personal support. The Gold Membership in the 52 Club of your module today was... awesome to say the least.

Your losses are so real and your post was so genuine. It got me started again on crying.

While I know you are probably also grieving, things will get better.

These losses happen year after year.... They will continue. It is a dangerous job and we have to look out after our friends and families.

The best way for folks to help is to contact the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

They are down in SoCal assisting in this time of need, and are still assisting firefighters families from earlier accidents, from this year to several years ago, in dealing with the loss of their loved ones..... both family and friends.

The WFF has set up a local fund to support the firefighters, families, friends, and co-workers of the fallen and injured on the San Bernardino National Forest.

Folks can contribute to this fund or the General Fund of the Foundation.

No matter where people want their pledges of support to go to, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation are some of the first care givers on scene. They need our support.

So Cal Engineer


"Pablo Cerda remains hospitalized at Arrowhead Medical Center's Burn Unit.
His family is with him and remains hopeful."

If Pablo Cerda remains hospitalized at Arrowhead burn unit, I pray that indicates his injuries are much less involved than originally reported or he would have been transported to a larger burn specialist hospital.

IMHO, question lip service from elected officials when FED wildland FFs remain less "worthy" of comparable wages and benefits compared to local/state. For God's sake how many more possibly preventable deaths and injuries will it take before the public wakes up


River, Arrowhead is a good facility, good treatment, no doubt his docs are in consultation with specialists at larger facilities in LA. When people are as burned as he is, you can't transport them without risking their life. Please everyone, continue to send good thoughts and prayers. Ab.

10/30 Retired Green,

I will take your comments regarding leadership a step or two higher up the ladder.....

All land management agencies are in a period where partisan politics has crept its way into each and every operational level. The leaders of the party-in-power have successfully made their political philosophy the modus operandi for everything that happens in all agencies regarding on-the-ground operations, employee benefits, employee safety, employee legal rights, environmental issues vs. extractive practices, etc.

Are readers aware that Agency Administrators in several federal agencies were recently forced to sign an "oath of allegiance" to the political and operational ideals of the current administration? That was to my knowledge a first in federal government history.

I recently retired under duress from a small federal land management agency. There is no question now that my former agency has been undergoing for several years a political purge of all persons vociferously opposed to the influx to operational levels of partisan politics. There is also no question in my mind that political purging is part of the current state of malaise in the USFS.

So I guess what I am suggesting here is that if you don't like the way the WO leadership is handling things register your feelings soon at the ballot box.

10/30 SoCalG -

I have no problem kicking a door off of the hinges to save my crews life. As most vegetation fires are shorter in duration than what would be needed to fully involve a house it would be a good refuge. I cannot think of any reason not to seek whatever measure you can to protect life, and no one is going to fault you for erroring on the side of caution.

We have forcibly entered residences to do wellness checks, secure open windows in pending fire storms, or whatever may be needed. In hindsight some of these residences ended up being miles from the fire in the end, and would have been fine if simply left alone. But how do you know that at the time?

So I say keep all options in mind, and commit before its too late to commit.

Thats just my two cents though.

Be safe all -

10/30 To all of you posting comments on the investigatory issues, concerns etc.

I wish I had the time to cut & paste all of them but please forward them to John Watts in Senator Feinstein's office at
john_watts@feinstein.senate.gov. He and I shared a long conference call this afternoon with another planned soon with others from the Senator's office.

Nor Cal Tom, Retired Green etc. Although it's election time, we are working with a number of congressional folks to
1) stop the FS investigation until
    a) the OIG is done &
    b) those lost are laid to rest & remembered
2) challenge this on a constitutional issue
3) once congress reconvenes, either repeal or amend the Cantwell-Hastings bill
4) work to ensure the Agency covers 100% of any liability insurance premium.

It is terribly disappointing that the Agency would race to investigate before the OIG and more importantly, bring in a R9 team with no one from R5. If it smells fishy, chances are its a fish...


Ab will gather up all the investigation comments tomorrow morning. There is one R5 investigator on the FS Investigation team now. Ab.

10/30 From Firescribe:

from the Desert Sun

Esperanza Wildfire Timeline
Firefighters pause to honor lost 'family'
Tips flood in for probe. Call to leave a tip about the arsonist... (951) 922-7116
Desert Sun Photo Gallery also have videos

from the Press Enterprise

They Had No Chance -10/27
Tight-knit community pulling together -10/27
Arson Investigators Vow to Get Justice for Victims -10/27
'Hurricane' of fire swept over crew 10/28
Intense safety training can't always save fire crews' lives
At last, time to reflect
Press Enterprise Photo Gallery also have videos

10/30 Hello,

It's been a few years since I was in wildland fire
suppression. My question is if it is standard
procedure now to appropriate a structure as an escape
route? I am talking about forcible entry upon engine
placement and hand line deployment. The surviving
members of the Novato E6162 over-run (Cedar Fire)took
cover within the structure they were attempting to
protect. Sadly, Steve Rucker did not make it to the
door. There's a very precious cell of atmosphere
inside, at least during a blast of super heated
combustion gases.

Just Wondering, and Thanx to all of you..
Keep em' small, and God bless all

10/30 Tonight CNN's Larry King interviewed the mom and girlfriend of 20 year old
Daniel Hoover-Najera of Engine 57. Good interview. Sad. It will be
rerun later.

Tahoe Terrie

10/30 just posted @ CNN (two men questioned re: Esperanza fire)


10/30 Nor Cal Tom

Dang if you didnt hit it right on the head about the current FS Chief and FAM Director. I have had a gut feeling that when the brown stuff hit the fan that they would shrink from standing up and being there in more than word but more importantly in deed. Actions truly speak louder than words and their LACK of action now and previously is screaming that there is something desperately wrong with the Agency, the leadership at all levels, and the root of it is at the top. Where were they with the effort to properly classify the folks on the ground as FIREFIGHTERS? Simple answer: they weren't! Where is their leadership when its desperately needed? They are telling congress that there are plenty of funds, yet most every unit I know of is short funded from previous years and the agency is again in the hole for budget. When they arent lying out their a** they are dreaming up BS like doctrine and appropriate MANAGEMENT response while the folks in the field are getting hammered by real problems and when something goes to hell, the field employees get the wonderful opportunity to have to defend themselves in courts of law because the Chicken S**t agency and its "leaders" wont do the right thing and stand up for them. Yet they will send out news briefs about "Firefighters" who died and still they will do nothing to make it right for the people on the ground busting their ass. Even the President of the U.S. called them firefighters for Ch***t sake. The Chief is ignoring the true issues and certainly does not deserve the title "Chief" as that implies leadership and integrity, which I do not see them demonstrating.

Apology for the rant but its long overdue.

The old Forest Service folks are probably rolling over in their graves at the antics and shrinking violet approach being demonstrated on a daily basis by a once proud and sound agency.

Retired Green

10/30 Hey Kelly,

We can investigate all we want, put together
beautifully integrated interagency investigation
teams, delve into the Lessons Learned files, track
down our latest and greatest "Human Factors"
indicators, punch out the missed 10 and 18 checklist,
but in my humble or not so humble opinion is it's all
just a bunch of nonsense. To prove my point look at
the products that have come out of the most recent
investigation teams:

South Canyon Report.....FICTION
30Mile...........................MISSED OPPORTUNITY
Cramer..........................WAY OFF THE MARK

Here's what we all need to know and realize about
firefighting: FIRE IS DANGEROUS, It always has been
and always will be. Mistakes, missteps, random rocks
and trees, or just your average bad day at this job
are potentially fatal. Unless you are above having a
bad day or making a wrong decision you are walking
into a potentially fatal environment on every fire
call. You are FOOLISH to think it can't happen to you
or the folks who work for you.

You can have five years experience like Jeff and
Shane, or 20+ years like Mark. We all need to realize
the risks for REAL and not just brush them off in a
show of bravado for our friends and family.

Here are some absolutes in our profession:

1. Fire is dangerous
2. Helicopters crash
3. Airtankers crash
4. Good folks have died and more will die

This doesn't lessen the pain or the sacrifice that was
made. I know first hand, when I was trying to put my
feelings to words for the Cramer Fire Memorial
Dedication. Jeff Allen was a friend of mine and his
loss will continue to impact not only my career but
the rest of my life. I don't mean to burst anyone's
intellectual bubble...but it is really this simple.

This is a job with consequences from whose impact you
cannot always escape.


Not So Perfect Firefighter
10/30 Kelly

Thanks much for your post and thanks to Ab for including links to Kelly's two papers. I find them more enlightening than any of the stuff I have read from official sources regarding the Cramer fire. Scary how the Cramer and South Canyon pieces of ground look so similar. If not walking Paul Gleason's exact path of making sure we learn from the past, Kelly is for sure headed in the same direction. I'm glad you were in a position to speak out on this issue.

Kelly's description of the process of the multiple investigations was an eye opener. The Fed agencies assist with paying the liability insurance but they limit it to Line Officers and supervisors. Leaves the poor GS-5 ICT-4 or ENGB out in the cold. Only hope they have is that their pockets are so shallow no one wants to waste time on them. But with this turn to criminal prosecution anyone is fair game.

Small Agency Fire Guy

They are excellent papers, aren't they. Thanks, Kelly. Ab.

10/30 Addressed To: All Federal Wildland Firefighting resources, Region 5, California
From: William Molnar, Regional Fire Engine Captains’ representative
Regarding: Esperanza Fire Tragedy / October 30, 2006

Dear friends and fellow firefighters, I am saddened and at an enormous loss
for words to express the tragedy and loss of lives we have suffered on the
San Bernardino National Forest. These brave men and co-workers were a
piece of our foundation and represented the valiant efforts and duties that
each of us performs each fire season in Region 5 – California.

These were not just Wildland Firefighters who were injured and killed in
the line of duty; these are our brothers, friends, family members, sons,
husbands and so much more. I apologize for this delay in response but the
grief here on the San Bernardino National Forest is greater than most can
imagine and more than any family should endure.

As the Chair Elect of the California Fire Engine Captains group
representing California’s region 5, I offer our groups most humble and
sincere condolences to each and every friend and family member of our
fallen firefighters as well as our hopes, thoughts and prayers for Pablo
Cerda who is bravely fighting for his life.

The Captains’ Group in the Region has been shaken at our foundation over
our loss of these souls and there have been many requests to help, assist
and provide comfort in many ways that are generous in nature.

I ask that each of you keep these families in your thoughts and prayers, I
ask that each of you stand down with your crews and review safety protocols
and procedures and most of all, I ask that all of us take time to ensure
that each of our employees know that they are more than just someone we
work with, they represent the fabric of our efforts in wildland
firefighting amongst Forest Service Fire Engines throughout California!

These men will be greatly missed: Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, 44, of
Idyllwild; Fire Engine Operator Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; Assistant
Fire Engine Operator Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan; and firefighter Daniel
Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto. They died in the line of duty and
endured the ultimate sacrifice for the public they served.

As the regional Captains’ representative, I encourage all who read this
letter to join the Wildland Firefighter Foundation “52 Club” and make
donations that truly make a difference to all who have been touched by
these tragedies. This is one of the most compassionate and significant
acts of kindness that each of us can contribute in this time of great
sorrow. We are truly fortunate to have such an organization who serves as
our wings of hope and a guiding light in the face of great tragedy.

With sincere and heart felt condolences from all of our Captains and
Firefighters who represent the Fire Engine Workforce throughout California,

/s/ William Molnar
U.S. Forest Service
Regional Captains’ group
Representative – Region 5
10/30 If OIG wants to blame anyone, they should be helping
the Law Enforcement agencies in finding the arsonist
or arsonists. Had there been no fire set, there would
have been no fire to fight. And maybe once they begin
their ruthless interviews the light will be shed that
we are still FORESTRY TECHNICIANS and not in everyone
elses eyes... firefighters! I am at a loss for how far
the Forest Service has backed itself into a corner and
when it comes to stand tall and help your own we
continue to turn and point the finger. Its sickening
and completely mad.


10/30 All I have to say of Bosworth and Harbour is

"Look at what they do, not what they say."

The true measure of a man is his actions. Lots of politicians pay lip
service real well with words like "sympathy" and "firefighter safety".
Call BS where BS is due. Watch their actions. Theyll tell you the
true measure of their manhood by their actions.

So far, no heroes there. I'm waiting... maybe I'm wrong.

NorCal Tom

10/30 Readers,

We need immediate assistance.

There are lots of legal concerns and the ball is rolling too fast. A number of Forest Service firefighters are not currently protected with lawyers to prevent OIG from steam-rolling over them as it did on Cramer, and....... OIG is rolling.

No need to fear for our CDF firefighters. Their union and their agency have their best interests at heart and somehow are protecting them legally from OIG. Our CDF brothers and sisters will be OK legally, for which I'm glad.

There's no doubt OIG is out to get someone(s). Our Engine Captains and Battalion Chiefs who are not insured are the ones at risk.

I don't know why the FS insists on investigating starting today. Firefighters are still in a fog. They will be vulnerable to mis-remembering. They should have counsel or advice even before participating in the FS Investigation. The FS investigation should follow after the OIG investigation. Is the FS in a political competition with the OIG or with CDF?

My questions follow:

  1. Can anyone think of where we might get a good pro-bono lawyer?
  2. Can anyone think of where we could get many small or some larger donations to a fund to legally protect our Engine Captains?
  3. Do any firefighters or friends of firefighters have family members who are lawyers who would pro-bono provide advice right away? (mine are dealing with a family death)
  4. We're trying to set up a Legal Defense Fund.
  5. Do we have any firefighters who are Native American who might get their tribe's casino to contribute to a Legal Defense Fund? Do we know any others that could make a large donation to get legal defense off the ground?

Please call your congress people.

  • There must be some way they can bring pressure to bear on the Forest Service to delay the Forest Service Investigation so it does not proceed simultaneously with the OIG investigation. Simultaneous investigations will not be independent if the same firefighters who are still grieving are forced to go to both. (I know about separation of the branches of government, but...)
    ??? Who is behind the pressure for the FS to proceed so quickly when that could jeopardize firefighters' rights to not incriminate themself? Is it the FS Chief? Is it the other FAM Chief? Is it someone else in the WO like a safety officer with a beef or some other bean-counting bureaucrat? Who? Why? Budget?
  • There must be some way that Congress can tell OIG this was not their intent in passing the Hastings/Cantwell Bill.

Please call your newspaper contacts and other main stream media contacts. We can provide help with what to say. CNN is doing a piece right now on broken government. This is another example of broken government in my opinion.

Good grief, nobody did anything wrong here, certainly no firefighter:

  • CDF is protecting its firefighters (CDF FF say they're OK, and I'm glad for them, all FF should get the same consideration);
  • firefighters working for the Forest Service who find themselves in the middle of this, while just doing their jobs, are not being supported by the Forest Service, not by the FS Washington Office or the FS Regional Office;
  • OIG (Office of Inspector General) is out to find people to prosecute. These people --who are adept at prosecuting fraud-- don't realize that fire does not adhere to spread sheet rules and bank accounts. They will take the 10 Fire Orders and 18 Watchouts as unbreakable rules, when they are simply and respectively
       1) broad guidelines for engagement and disengagement of fire and 
       2) things to be careful of and mitigate when fighting fire....
    They will take the 10 and 18 as "we don't bend them we don't break them" and they'll look for ways they've been violated, so firefighters --who were just doing their jobs-- can be blamed.

Our lower level federal firefighter folks need legal defense NOW. 

Anyone have ideas or funds? Anyone know a good lawyer or two?

Ab, please give anyone my contact info.


10/30 Release No. FS- 0625s

Press Office, (202) 205-1134

Dale Bosworth, Chief
U.S. Forest Service
Fire Fighter Deaths and Injuries
Near Palm Springs, California
October 27, 2006

"It is with deep sorrow that we learn of the deaths of four firefighters from the San Bernardino National Forest in California. Another firefighter is being treated for serious burns, suffered while the crew was battling a wind-whipped wildfire that drove hundreds of people from their homes. My heartfelt sympathies go out to these families, friends and loved one affected by this tragedy."

"This incident reminds all of us that firefighting is a dangerous business. Our firefighters' and the public's safety is and always will be our first priority."
10/30 From: Bernie Weingardt
To: pdl r5 unit mailrooms@FSNOTES

Attached you will find a media release identifying the members of Engine 57
who were involved in yesterday's tragic incident.
They are:
Mark Loutzenhiser, Engine Captain
Jess McLean, Fire Engine Operator,
Jason McKay, Assistant Fire Engine Operator,
Daniel Hoover-Najera, Firefighter,
Pablo Cerda, Firefighter

Pablo Cerda remains hospitalized at Arrowhead Medical Center's Burn Unit.
His family is with him and remains hopeful.

We do not have information yet about services for the deceased. As we get
more information we will pass it on.

We received a telephone call from President Bush this morning expressing
his condolences for the loss and injuries to the firefighters of Engine 57.
He asked about the condition of Pablo Cerda and said that his thoughts and
prayers are with Pablo and his family. The President also expressed his
deep admiration for the bravery and commitment shown by the members of
Engine 57. He asked that we extend his thanks to all the employees of the
Forest Service in Region 5 for our dedication and commitment to the service
of our country.

These are difficult days for all of us, and the immediate future will
become increasingly difficult with the impending funerals. Be mindful of
the stress this tragic event will have on you and your co-workers and
please take the time to grieve, either collectively with your co-workers or
in your own personal way.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and co-workers of
these brave men.


10/30 I have the Blue sheet now, thanks. When can we expect the Green sheet
to come out. Where would the link be for any Green sheets on the CDF
web page?


Zimm, you probably know this, but others may not. A little education can help people understand why the 72 Hour Report is not yet available.

Typically there are two preliminary reports, one that comes out at 24 hours after the incident and a second that comes out at 72 hours. Feds call these the 24- and 72-Hour Reports. Other agencies may have different names for them. CDF calls them the "Blue Sheet" and "Green Sheet", respectively. (They are not posted on any public website.) The purpose of the 24-Hour Report (CDF Blue Sheet) is to give a basic framework to what happened and, specifically, to alert firefighters to any issues or conditions that might continue and might impact their safety. After all, usually fighting the fire must go on even when a tragedy occurs. The purpose of the 24-Hour Report (CDF Blue Sheet) is to provides more details about the incident that have been uncovered in the intervening time, pending the full investigation.

Sometimes when the incident being investigated is very complex and/or there is little information (no eyewitnesses, etc) the 72-Hour Report may be delayed in order for the lead agency to gather more information. I don't remember which fed investigation it was this summer, I think perhaps the New York Mountain NV burnover. The 72-Hour Report came out on time but had no more info than the 24-Hour Report. Ideally the 72-Hour Report provides more info.

In this case, we're dealing with a complex and somewhat confusing incident that had no eyewitnesses. (The one survivor is not capable of talking even if he could remember.) The 72 hours is upon us. I, for one, hope the 72-Hour Report, i.e., the CDF Green Sheet, comes out only after CDF is able to gather and make sense of more information than we already have.

Hang in there all. Ab.

10/30 Just a note to everyone to let you know the 52 club went over 2000 members this weekend. Our deepest thanks to every one that has once again stepped up and made everyone realize that this in a deeply caring community. We are running a bit behind in getting orders out to everyone. Please be understanding and we will get proper acknowledgements out to everyone just as soon as we can

Mike Warren
Wildland Firefighter Foundation Board Member

Relax on the orders, Mike. I'm sure people will understand. Ab.

10/30 USFS, OSHA, and OIG - the Cramer story

Noname (and others) -

Perhaps I can shed some light on the investigation process, especially where it pertains to USFS/OSHA/OIG. At least I'll try taking a stab at it. And I have asked Abs to include my real name so you know where I'm coming from. I was the only non-federal (local govt.) person on the Cramer [USFS] investigation and was intimately involved in the process from start to finish (my job was fire behavior).

The following is my best recollection of how the Cramer Fire investigation proceeded. I hope this will clarify a few things for some of the folks out there. Here goes...

The Cramer Fire investigation was the first USFS fatality fire investigation to take place after Public Law 107-203 (also known as the Hastings-Cantwell legislation) was enacted following the 30-mile Fire.

On the Cramer investigation, the investigative teams from the USFS, OSHA, and OIG were all housed together in the same building for two weeks in Salmon, ID immediately following the fatalities. We had a joint meeting/briefing the first thing each morning, collection of information was a cooperative effort, and information and data was shared freely between the three teams. This was intended to minimize redundant efforts and ensure that the information used in each investigation was consistent. From there, each investigative team used this information for its specific purpose - USFS for accident prevention, OSHA to look at safety violations in the federal workplace, and OIG to satisfy the intent of P.L. 107-203.

During this initial two-week period in Salmon, I don't know if anyone from OIG visited the fatality site itself (it was a very busy time). I do know that OSHA folks did, as I made more than one trip to the fatality site with a couple of the OSHA folks. As for the interviews with personnel involved in the Cramer Fire operations, and in management positions on the Forest, there were representatives from the OSHA and OIG investigation teams present in most cases - especially some of the more critical interviews (Alan Hackett, and District/Forest personnel). In every case, there was at least one representative (who took the lead) from the USFS investigation team, usually more, along with an independent transcriber. Only two people to be interviewed showed up at their interviews with a lawyer - the District Ranger and the Forest Operations Officer. All others did it solo. Remember, there had not been criminal proceedings from an investigation prior to this, so why shouldn't they be forthcoming and honest? After all, this was simply to find out what happened, learn, and prevent future tragedies, right?

Once we left Salmon, ID, each investigative team went its own direction. The USFS team took a week off, and we then re-convened in Missoula, MT to work on the written report. While not perfect, the report did contain a fairly complete accounting of the Cramer Fire and events leading to and following the fatalities, with Appendices providing further details and reference material. I should point out that the controversial "redactions" (whiting-out) of names and other information was *NOT* -- repeat, **NOT** -- done by the investigation team. We delivered a complete, un-redacted report to the Washington Office of the USFS, and it was there that the white-out was liberally applied to the final report prior to it being publicly released.

Several things have happened since. The WO has, in my eyes, lost significant credibility by (1) redacting the Cramer report, and (2) silently standing by while its personnel faced criminal charges. OSHA levied fines against the USFS based on specific "violations" of the 10 and 18. And the OIG initiated criminal proceedings. And no one - NO ONE - pursued any meaningful work in human factors and "lessons learned." Never mind that the Cramer scenario was hauntingly similar to South Canyon and other past fatality fires. Being the only non-fed involved, I felt obligated to speak out about Cramer and have tried to dig for some basic lessons to pass on, with limited success. It's been a lonely path. Unfortunately, too many of the events following the Cramer fire investigation have set a somber precedent I fear will become the norm.

I was heartbroken upon hearing the news from the Esperanza Fire, and after having gone through the Cramer experience, it hit me very, very hard hard. I refuse to speculate or jump to any conclusions, and will wait as patiently as possible for what comes of the investigation(s) currently underway. Sadly, I fear that after of the Cramer Fire, the possibility of learning anything meaningful from a fatality fire will be slim. Believe me, I'd truly love to be proven very wrong and hope that I will be. And regardless, we all need to take care of each other and pull together as the family I have come to know and treasure.

Kelly Close

Thanks Kelly.
Ab Note: Here are two documents Kelly has created that add insight and lessons learned on the Cramer Fire:

Fire Behavior vs. Human Behavior: Why the Lessons from Cramer Matter
(755 K pdf file)
20 Minutes at H-2 – Linear Decision Making in an Exponential Fire Environment
(3363 K pdf file; large, 14 pages)

10/30 Here's the CDF Bluesheet: (Ab note: It's a very small pdf file.)

Fire Fighter Burnover, Major Injury and Fatalities, 10/26/06, Esperanza Fire, Riverside Unit

10/30 Casey,

When you contact those congressional offices on Monday, tell it to them short and simple.

While the intent (firefighter safety) of the Hastings/Cantwell legislation (PL 107-203) was admirable, the reality is that the bill has taken firefighter safety back thirty years and actually increases the risks to wildland firefighters.

PL 107-203 either needs to be repealed or amended for the federal wildland fire agencies to become "Learning Organizations" rather than "Blame Organizations".

There is so much research available now on High Reliability Organizations and how they fail, and it confirms that the PL 107-203 approach (blame) adds to increased firefighter peril.

Rogue Rivers
10/30 This weekend I drove out to Julian for a retreat. As I headed out in the Glamis traffic (holiday weekend in the dunes for the BLM and friends) I meandered towards Julian and a chill came over me as I saw the Steve Rucker memorial sign. I realized it was three years ago this weekend Cedar started. I remembered meeting Steve's widow and their kids the weekend that sign was dedicated and then seeing them again at the CA firefighter's memorial dedication.

The retreat center we were at had a number of buildings burned down in the Cedar Fire- there are tents now as a temporary hold while they raise money to replace buildings. When we came in they directed us to back our cars in- in case of evacuation. They told us about red flag warnings and fire restrictions. They have their own historical fire engine and logs piled around from thinning. The conference "center" (trailer) has a giant photo of a firefighter in their meadow with trees torching. During our hike as soon as I said I knew anything about fire I was peppered with questions from people wanting to know about wildland fire. I talked a bit about fire ecology and fire behavior and when anyone mentioned Esperanza I choked up and the only words I could use were murder and tragedy.

As for me- I had my boots, nomex, and other PPE in the trunk of my car. I checked out the terrain on google earth before I left home. I looked at fuel loading as I entered the area. I ran through watchouts in my head as I drove up. You all have taught me well.

Three years later the earth is recovering. I took a hike up Stone Wall Peak and it's a different from what I grew up with- lots more open sky, but the new growth is inspiring. The building are coming back- with decent clearance. The only thing we can never get back are the people. So everyone out there stay safe.

All I could offer this weekend were my prayers and thoughts and to try and educate others on what you do everyday. No matter how far I go- the WFF magnet is on my car and my heart is out at fire camp waiting for the smokey FOBS to come in with their scratched up maps and GPS units.

They are never forgotten,

Mellie- I'm out of the gov't now so if you ever need a civilian to contact anyone... as a citizen I will gladly do it.

JimHart- if you're going to be around for the Fire Ecology Conf in San Diego could I buy you a beer? Your eloquence summed it up so well- the Abs can pass on my info.
10/30 Today, I had the great honor of meeting two burn survivors from earlier accidents this year.

They are both down here on the San Bernardino National Forest providing support to the family of Pablo Cerda and the grieving firefighters.

Chris Fry (Bakersfield BLM) and Jesse Shirley (Eldorado H.S.) are burn survivors with a wealth of knowledge and a compassion that I cannot even begin to explain.

I wanted to send in a note to make sure they are properly recognized and thanked.

Chris and Jesse, I know you read They Said and aren't looking for thanks... but...... THANK YOU!!!!! You two brightened my day so much that I am not able to put it into words befitting the value of your compassion for fellow firefighters and their families.

Kenneth Kempter
Assistant District Fire Management Officer
FCRD, San Bernardino National Forest
10/30 Marcia,

you asked ,

"Ab - Thanks for all the great information that has been shared on your
site over the last couple of days. Do you know if contact information for
cards to the families is available as of yet?"

"Thanks - Marcia Andre from the Gila"

Marcia, any support such as cards can be sent to:

4121 Quail Canyon Rd,
San Bernardino, CA, 92404.

They will be forwarded to the families and are much appreciated by all of us.

10/29 If anyone wants to send a brief message to the families of the fallen and to Pablo's family, here's their info again from the FS press release.

I am collecting condolence messages to print out to be given to the families. (I've copied and pasted those that have already been posted.) Ab maybe you would make a separate page for this project?

In any case, if you send in your message Ab will probably forward them to me or post them. Todd

Todd, I've set up an In Memoriam Engine 57 page using the posts and partial posts you've collected from theysaid and other places. Already it is developing into a meaningful tribute.

How about a photo of each?

Readers, so far the condolences on the new page are part of the flow of theysaid and have meaning in that context. Feel free to add to this by sending a brief message to the families, or please share a story if you knew these firefighters personally. If you send them here, I'll put them on the new page. Ab.

Here are the names of the Forest Service firefighters who tragically lost their lives while in the line of duty on 10/26/06. The deceased are Mark Loutzenhiser (Lotzi), Jess McLean, Jason McKay, and Daniel Hoover-Najera. Critically injured is Pablo Cerda.

Mark Loutzenhiser (Lotzi), Engine Captain, was 44 years old and had 21 years of service. He was a certified Emergency Management Technician (EMT). He had worked previously as a hotshot crewman for the Vista Grande Hot Shots and also as a volunteer firefighter for Riverside County. He majored in fire science at Mt. San Jacinto College. He was a longtime resident of Idyllwild, Calif. where he was a great supporter and coach for the youth sports program.

Jess McLean, Fire Engine Operator, was 27 years old and had seven years of service. He had been a hotshot for three years with Vista Grande. He graduated from Banning High School in 1997 and attended fire science classes at Crafton Hills College. He was a resident of Beaumont, Calif.

Jason McKay, Assistant Fire Engine Operator, was 27 years old and had five years of Forest Service experience and four years as a volunteer firefighter in Adelanto. He also served on the Mojave Greens Type II crew. He was a certified EMT and earned an associate’s degree in Fire Science. He was a resident of Phelan, Calif.

Daniel Hoover-Najera, Firefighter, was 20 years old and was in his second season of firefighting. He worked on the Tahquitz Type II crew in 2005 and was a seasonal employee in 2006. He graduated from San Jacinto Mountain View High School in 2004. He was a resident of San Jacinto, Calif.

Pablo Cerda, who remains in critical condition, is a 23-year-old Firefighter in his second season with the Forest Service. He was previously of the Tahquitz Type II crew. He graduated from Los Amigos High School in Santa Ana in 2001 and attended Fire Academy of Riverside Community College. He is a resident of Fountain Valley, Calif.

The five Forest Service employees were on Engine Crew 57 on the San Jacinto Ranger District (BDF). They were dispatched early Thursday morning to assist on a state managed wildfire, the Esperanza Incident. They were engaging in structure protection and firefighting activities when they where overrun by flames. The accident investigation is ongoing.

10/29 Abs,

I had a thought after reading an email from a friend this morning. Sometimes English is a funny language and changing one little word can really change the impact of a phrase.

No longer shall I say that the heroic members of Engine 57 were "killed", "died" or euphemistically "passed away."

Instead, all future communication shall use the word "*murdered*".

Perhaps the word murder indicates my own personal stage of mourning. Or maybe my feelings about the public's treatment of firefighters (by whatever government double-speak they're known) in general. But I feel that using that verb in public will help maintain public awareness of the true nature of this tragedy.


I hear ya. Ab.

10/29 R.A.P.,

Excellent letter. We should all be sending these to our congressional
representatives, our newspapers, etc.


I also heard that some of our families were having problems with the
media camping on their front lawns. Some firefighters went over to the
homes and took care of the problem in a creative way. HooRah.


10/29 October 27, 2006

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a Firefighter with the United States Forest Service who wants to inform you of the fight for fair treatment in our careers and lives. Yesterday on October 26, 2006 at approximately 0600 a.m. we lost the lives of four firefighters due to a burn over on the Esperanza Fire. There is a fifth Firefighter whose life is in critical condition due to burns over 95% of his body and severe lung damage caused by inhalation of super heated gases and smoke.

In my twelve years of fighting wildland fire, I have fought over 400 fires and have watched the Forest Service progressively get annual budget cuts, yet we are directed to operate at 100% efficiency level. Due to the fact that we are a non Union Agency we are constantly scrutinized over pay and hours worked on and off the fireline. As a result of this constant pressure, we lose more Firefighters to other agencies and careers due to the lack of support from the United States Forest Service, Congress, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the current Administration.

OPM has been forewarned of the potential loss of experienced Firefighters, yet they continually inform us that we don’t have a retention issue. Often they claim that we are paid appropriately. I am passionate about my job and I consider it one of the best jobs out there, but I can’t even afford to purchase a home along with the cost of living. While on the fireline, we often work over 16 hours a shift and are only paid for 16 hours or less. The explanation we are given for this extra work with no pay is, “We need to cut costs of the fire”. Not only do we lose hours, our counterparts from other agencies get paid 24 hours and get to sleep in luxury while we often sleep in the dirt on the fire away from the comfort of lawn chairs and shade. We are the ones who are in the middle of burn risking our lives to barely making ends meet.

The Office of Personnel Management, Department of Agriculture, and Congress all refuse to call us Firefighters. Our job title is Forestry Technician; therefore we don’t get the true title as Wildland Firefighters. If I am not a Firefighter, why is it that I am constantly asked to take assignments that require me to risk my life? This is what we signed on to do as a Firefighter. Yet other agencies work only 10 to 12 days a month while we are required to work a minimum of four weeks a month. While the Government will only pay us straight time or time and a half for our dedication, unless it is a paid holiday, our colleagues from other fire agencies take the same 14 day assignment and make up to half my annual salary in that time period. Where is the savings in the budget management? I’m not writing this to degrade my fellow Firefighters, but wrong is wrong.

I saw on the news that the Municipal Firefighter Unions are using the fatalities from the Esperanza Fire for their platform for better pay and pensions for widows or widowers of fallen Firefighters. This does not include those of us in the Wildland Firefighting world. We can’t even get the right to be noticed as Firefighters. In the last several years we were encouraged to take out personal liability insurance because we risk the chance to loose everything based on our decisions out on the fireline. I believe it to be most unfortunate that our own agency will not cover us for doing our jobs. As we do not have a proper Union, we do not have the luxury or leverage to make this right. What will it take to wake up the agencies who are constantly defying our right to have the Firefighter stature? Will it take more of my brothers and sisters dying out there in the conflagrations that are getting tougher to fight? Many of these deaths go unheeded because many people barely know we even exist. That is because we are in the heart of the fire where we work in the toughest conditions. We don’t always have the luxury of having media access to understand that the Firefighters in green are at the heart of the fire. We are often the first to attend the fire line and the last to leave.

Once again, this is not a letter to belittle my counter parts or the United States Forest Service, I love my job. It is simply to shed light on the current issues that the Federal System has been neglecting to give us, largely because they do not want to change our job series and title because it requires more pay for us as an agency. Something is definitely wrong with our system and its way of thinking. That is not to say that one agency deserves more than the other. This is a statement to make things right for the Forest Service Wildland Firefighters regardless of location. Until this is taken seriously, we stand to lose more Firefighters to fatalities and burn overs.


R.A.P. (Ab reduced the name to initials.)

10/29 Good Morning to all:

There is a great deal of speculation about the impact of current federal law as it relates to OIG investigations and its impact on the details of the Esperanza Fire.

I will be in touch with Congressional offices first thing Monday morning to ascertain the law's application to this incident.

As many may recall, two seasons ago the FWFSA sought folks in Congress willing to call for hearings into the peripheral issues the law has caused. We contacted the authoring offices to apprise them of the un-intended consequences of the law and received their assurances that if the law needed some tweeking, they would work with us.

The timing is not good given the elections and the "lame duck" session of congress to follow, but when the opportunity arises to address the issue, we'll go forward. Once I get some definitive answers about the law as it affects this incident, I'll post the information.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
10/29 Noname,

You're right, the clearest, cleanest, fairest way for the investigations to proceed is for the OIG criminal investigation to proceed first. If separated in time, it will be clearly independent of the rest, to be followed by the other administrative investigations -- FS, CDF and OSHA, NIOSH.

With so many politics involved, agencies involved, and with the media clamor, who knows if the FAIR PATH of investigation will be taken by all the various legal beagles. Following the Forest Service SNAFU with the Cramer investigations, who knows whether we will have had some lessons learned.

If firefighters are not given a fair process in this, I think I will contact Oprah and get her to do a piece on it.

Noname, on a slightly different topic: My cousin who I haven't heard from in 15 years called on Thursday to let me know about a death of an elder in the family. (Keith they have a ranch near you.) I realized in the middle of the night that that branch of my dad's family are lawyers (also owned a TX basketball team). So, hmmmmm, Noname, if we need to have legal questions answered by some serious legal pros, I was just contacted by some in my family who would love to help. I'd be happy to share. (Don't you love it how sometimes when there's a real need, the need is filled in unexpected ways?)

I heard Arnie, our governator, outwitted the media yesterday when he visited Pablo and his family at the hospital. He snuck in the back way and, when done, snuck out again. Good for him. Media was massed on the front lawn. (Arnie is short; Ab, can I say that here?)

Hang in there, my friends. I love you. GG, you too.


10/29 From Familysaid:

I don't know about other family members, but the recent tragedy makes me angry to be in the situation we are in regard to lawsuits, the blame game, and who can make a buck or save a buck. What about the arsonists? What responsibility do they carry? Are the fire organizations putting as much effort into that investigation?

I'm even reading that certain fire employees (on their already strained budgets) should carry insurance to protect them from the blame game, just as doctors purchase malpractice insurance.
This is my fantasy message from a fire organization:

"We train our firefighters, we have a record of that training, and we are confident they make decisions based on that training. Firefighters have a sense of the dangers of the job regardless of whether they’ve pursued it as a career or need temporary employment to pay for a college education. The leaders know the gravity of their decisions on and off the fire line.

However, fire-related circumstances can occur resulting in the loss of life. Our first priority is to those grieving the loss. Next, investigations occur to enhance existing safety rules as necessary. The citizens have voted for laws that protect our employees from unfair lawsuits or loss of employment, so it is not necessary for them to purchase legal insurance.
The consequences of the decision of the arsonists responsible for the tragedy remain with them."

Take care and continue supporting each other.


10/29 This is what my girlfriend an I wrote about what just happened. Mike McGee


We have to wonder...
could it have been me?
What drove us to this degree
Fire? Weather? or Topography?
where would I be?
To those of CA-SBU ENG-57
And I'm sure the rest of us would agree
Eric Clapton said it best.....
Would you recognize me in heaven?

10/29 Words can not adequately express my sincere condolences to the families
of the wildland firefighters who lost their lives on the Esperanza fire.

I don't know them to give then a hug, or to tell them I said a prayer for them.
But I will make a donation on their behalf and can only hope this will help them
know how much they are thought of.

I'm not in fire service, but appreciate all who are.
Pat H
Niland, CA

Thanks so much Pat. The donation link for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is at the top of the page in purple. Ab.

10/29 Ab,

So, here are again dealing with tragedy over wildland firefighters dying to protect structures. All of our collective knowledge of fire behavior and fire fatalities stemming from suppression efforts in the Urban Interface seem to get us nowhere. Just a thought from me and you need to know that my folks think me to be a very callous individual when it comes to personal needs. Here is the premise: People with lots of dollars and no common sense build in places that put FF at risk. Fires burn, homes burn, insurance pays, foundations are rebuilt, and once again we have homes in the same places to deal with.

Here is my thought and you folks out there that think more precise than me can put your bits in as well. When a land owner purchases home owners insurance on property in the WUI the insurance company needs to have a rider that states something to the effect that if any individual helping to suppress wildland fire in and around what is determined to be " defensible space" around said property dies of what would be termed "injuries occurring from suppression actions to protect said structures" then all insurance claims on said structures would be null and void with the exception of the insurance company initiating an additional investigation as to what occurred.

Bottom line, if a wildland FF dies of burn injuries protecting your home or property, your insurance policies are null and void.

May help eliminate some of our fatalities related to suppression in the WUI.


Joeboy, you make a valid point about how silly it is to risk a firefighter life in defense of interface structures, especially those that are indefensible.

Readers, I ask you to keep in mind, though, that we do not yet know if they were protecting the structure or on a mission to see if they needed to evacuate a family... or something else. Please, let's not assume anything at the moment. Let's give this some days to settle. The discussions will occur.

10/29 Mellie:

Thanks for the extra post on "Lawyering Up", your clarifications really helped
me know where you're coming from, and I was glad to see that appeared to
have taken no offense from my post - as none was intended. Thanks for your
advocacy and support of firefighters.

GG Fire
10/28 News from the past..... a fitting tribute to the members of San Bernardino National Forest Engine 57.

A arsonist took the lives of people who were committed to protecting lives, communities, property, and natural resources. That arsonist also changed the lives of countless others for years to come, if not forever. I hope and pray that this arsonist is caught before he does additional damage to the lives of others.

Mark, Jesse, and Jason were all emergency medical technicians and equipped to perform this heroic task (below) back in August. I can't imagine the outcome of the story if the folks from E-57 weren't there back in August....... Because of some arsonist/murderer, they will never be here in the future to perform other such great deeds......

They are so missed by all of us.



Forest Service crew delivers baby boy

Idyllwild Town Crier
August 31, 2006
By J.P. Crumrine
Assistant Editor

On Sunday in the midst of the musical pandemonium at the Jazz in the Pines, another bit of pandemonium occurred within a mile of the Forest Service's Alandale Guard Station.

Engine 57's crew, led by Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, delivered a baby. "This was first time I know of anything like this," he said.

Jody and Claudia Posey of Idyllwild left home to deliver their baby at a midwife's in Indio. They barely got beyond Alandale. Jody flagged down a car and asked the driver to alert the Idyllwild Fire Department, according to Claudia.

Fortunately, he stopped at the first fire station, Alandale, and crew 57 responded. With two paramedics on his crew, Loutzenhiser felt comfortable dealing with the emergency, so he began directing traffic while Jesse MacLean and Jason McKay helped the mother who was already having contractions.

According to Loutzenhiser, McKay delivered the baby boy or at least was the official catcher.

"It was the most painfree delivery I've had," Claudia said. Brodyn Posey is her third child.

Eventually, an ambulance arrived and took the mother and child to a hospital, but both are well and at home now.

10/28 Mellie or anybody who knows, I am trying to figure this out. I don't know any fire fighter who isn't wanting to figure out what happened and wouldn't tell the truth. But this should be fair. The investigation process should be fair. The law should protect fire fighters too.

So to protect fire fighter's rights the most serious criminal investigation by OIG has to happen first. I take it that the OIG can issue subpoenas and compel you to answer or you can say you won't (==plead 5th amendment). This is what Congress says too, that it has to be an independent investigation.

Then the FS and CDF investigations that are administrative investigations can happen separately and independently after that? The FS and CDF will tell you that you have to participate in the investigation and answer all questions or you get fired. You can't refuse without getting fired, but you can't go to jail and you're not a criminal.

In Cramer the FS investigation happened first, that was a screw-up, the answers were freely given by the fire fighter, then they got used by OIG in the criminal case and the fire fighter went to jail or was forced into saying he would take OIGs deal.

I want to make sure the OIG investigation happens first so it's fair to fire fighters.
If it goes first, there won't be any information (freely given) from the FS or CDF investigation that OIG can use against the fire fighters because those investigations won't have happened yet.

If OIG gets FS or CDF fire fighter testimony, who knows what OIG will think is criminal?

All the investigations can't happen at once, can they?
What if fire fighters going between different investigations forget who they're speaking to and what the stakes are (getting fired v going to jail) and get the two mixed up? They could get confused (even if the investigators didn't mean to confuse them).

All investigations happening at once wouldn't be allowed, would it?

I wish we had a lawyer in the family.


10/28 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician Series) & Series 0455 (Range Technician Series) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist Series) are updated. Each of these series include jobs for wildland firefighters.

How strange to go through this regular process of updating jobs and to be posting wildland firefighting jobs that OPM has classified as Forestry Technician, Range Technician and Biologist. We're Wildland Firefighters. We do not like to risk our lives at all, but we certainly do not risk our lives as Forestry or Range Technicians or as Biologists! We're Wildland Firefighters.


10/28 Howdy,

I have been reading the discussions here about the
fatal over-run up in Cabazon. I pray for those
families who have lost loved ones in this terrible
incident. There will be an appropriate time to discuss
why this happened. I have some ideas, but will not
discuss that now.

I wanted to mention that tomorrow, 10/29/06 is the
third anniversary of the fatal over-run of Novato
Engine 6162 during the Cedar Fire. Steve Rucker lost
his life trying to defend a structure near Wynola in
San Diego County.

I also see that the Loop Fire tragedy has been
mentioned here, and was 40 years ago on 11/01/1966.

November 25th will be the 50th anniversary of the
Inaja Fire tragedy, which happened in 1956. This fire
initiated the 10 Standard Fire Fighting Orders.

I am new to this forum. I did serve with the
California "Division" of Forestry back in the early
70's in San Diego RU, Monte Vista. Anybody here on the
Saboba Fire in 1974? That fire burned from Saboba over
to Cabazon, just the other way from this weeks tragic

keep em' small, and God bless all...
10/28 Ab - Thanks for all the great information that has been shared on your
site over the last couple of days. Do you know if contact information for
cards to the families is available as of yet?

Thanks - Marcia Andre from the Gila

Not yet, but I'm sure someone who sees this will ask the liaisons to get that info. Ab.

10/28 BB, my friend,

It was good to see your post and read your suggestions. Thank you for writing. I would love to see your wonderfully funny, expressive face, just to see it. I know we would shed some tears together over the losses and the current situation. That Jess McLean, wasn't he was a brilliant, absolutely brilliant thinker and firefighter. I saw in him the potential to become a stellar R5 Fire Director in time. <deep breath> Well, be safe. Take care of each other. I love you all bunches. Can't wait to give you a hug.


PS. Maddog, you old cur <kidding of course>, we've missed you <not kidding>.

10/28 Dear Ab,

It was another one of those warm Sacramento Valley late October days, some ag guy to the West just lite off a rice field and dense smoke choked the air around my farm and obscured the Sutter Buttes. As the smell ignited memories of many smoky days in the past, the strangest shiver raced down my spine, and a siren went off in my brain. I did something I rarely do, rushed inside the house and turned on CNN, and there it was, the sirens call; three firefighter died, overrun by a wall of flames, two in critical condition.

I immediately started to cry, new tears from my sixty years old eyes, tears for those brave firefighters. As I stood there watching the network feed, streaks of wet unashamedly course down my cheeks, I started to choke when it was announced the fourth had died, the fifth tortured with 90% body burned. Then the stake in the soul, US Forest Service employees. My old family, part of my firefighting brethren for 32 years.

No words can say what truly needs to be said at times like these. Each of us, active or retired wildland fire fighters know the emptiness that suddenly fills the space around you, when one of ours goes down. I do know the wildland firefighting community very well, and the support they will give to ALL affected by this terrible event, will again show them all to be some of the truest heroes of this country. Then I turned the tube off, grabbed a cold beer and walked outside, to my workshop, where certain mementos reside. There I again gave up choking back the tears and had myself a heavy duty personal moment. Unconsciously, I put my old aluminum Bullard on my head, and thought of all the firelines I climbed, or sent others to climb. I thought of all those tight spots where it could have gone bad in a second, or the immense satisfaction in finally tying in the shittest sector on record! I thought of those recently fallen, people who I did not know, but who I knew, knew their jobs and unfortunately got sucked in as too many other, by duty and demon flames. There is nothing that can replace a spirit gone. Nothing. The best solace is that of kinship. Of caring, and helping. To carry these brave men in our hearts and thoughts as we carry those that have fallen before, honoring their service and continuing to build a future that recognizes the sacrifice and effort everyone brings to the fireline; whether red truck or green, whether initial attack or militia, whether first year newbie or wily seasoned Chief.


Welcome back Maddog, our old friend. The Abs.

10/28 GG, Ain't Signin', Pyro,

Sorry for any upset I've caused. I wasn't going to post a "lawyer up" post until an old IC friend, experienced with fatality investigations, asked me how I'd feel if one of the less experienced fire guys ended up doing jail time, not because he was guilty, but because he didn't know how bad all this legal stuff could be and how carefully you have to watch your words with people who don't speak fire language. (Non-fire investigators don't speak the same language.) Then I had to just pound that message out, like I finally did with Cramer.

GG Fire, I am as heartbroken and depressed as you that at a time like this when we could understand some things about human factors, fire behavior, etc, we're having to cover posteriors. I want wildland fire to be a learning environment. That's what we try to do here. However, I do not want ANY of our INTERAGENCY firefighters or the victims to be made into the fall guy(s).

If you can believe it, there are investigators from the following agencies on scene:

  • CDF
  • USFS (none from R5)
  • joint CAL OSHA / FED OSHA (looking to assign blame)
  • NIOSH (branch of the CDC)
  • OIG (and we know they're hunting heads looking to assign blame with the 10 and 18 in hand)

My fervent prayer this morning is that our CDFers know the severity of the OIG involvement. People can GO TO JAIL. OIG has very little fire experience, none before Cramer; OIG will recommend trial with the intent to put people in jail if they can, they don't have the fire knowledge base to look at the big picture, only at black and white, usually as relates to the 10 and 18. Their experience is with fraud cases primarily.

CDF Union, protect your people at all levels from their own lack of legal experience. The Fed Fire Community found out the hard way with Cramer that this legal stuff is way beyond our understanding. Much if it is NOT FAIR or reasonable. If you don't have legal insurance, you can't afford to fight for the truth and you're forced to take a plea bargain that can mean you're screwed. It's a system out of control.

Still working on this legal process but here are some important other docs surrounding OIG relating to an investigation from the past:

If anyone recalls other pertinent things that have been written that can help our CDF brothers and sisters figure out the process or recognize the gravity of it, please chime in.


10/28 Just a reminder Fire season in CA is NOT over yet! Even in North Zone it is still dry. Always keep shelters in the cab for all crewmembers, you never know when you will not be able to go outside to a bin to get yours.

I am shocked by the news, and saddened again, and was shocked again when I overheard a line Officer-type say, "maybe if they had their 401 series classes they would have understood the behavior better, and not got in the situation".! I can't believe it!! There are still folks out there that JUST DON"T GET IT. The 401 series will NOT make firefighters safer. Experience and realistic training are what matters, not a piece of paper that says you have a degree in Biology.

Keep your folks safe, disengage if needed, and come home. Houses, brush, trees, will all come back. People don't.

Hopefully this season will be over soon, so folks can make some sense of all thats happened this year. I usually don't want the season to end, but, this year I'm just tired and sick of folks getting hurt or worse, never-ending fires, and idiots in the office saying things like above.

sign me,
Done for the Season

Please reference the following:
Argument for a Federal Wildland Firefighter Series, Dozer, 1/6/05

10/28 I have watched this week's events with a combination of horror and sorrow; so many times I have found myself staring off into space. A million and one questions are going through my mind, but now doesn't seem like the right time to ask them. I suppose we'll spend the winter talking this over. At this point, I just want to tell Pablo that I pray he can find comfort in the midst of all that's happening to him and to tell the fallen firefighters' families and friends that you are not grieving alone. Anyone who has ever swung a pulaski would like to be there with you and for you; even after the winter rains come, we will not forget.

Still Out There as an AD
10/28 Has a preliminary investigation report come out on what happened in California?
I would very much like to get something with truth behind it rather than the
news media. Thanks


CDF 24 hour Blue Sheet... 72 hour Green Sheet.

10/28 Ab,

I have been trying to think what to say to these families to lift them up but unfortunately there aren't any magic words. Ken and I would just like to say we are so very sorry for the loss of these fine firefighters. The families will soon learn that the firefighting community sticks together and they will be enveloped with love and caring. I like to think that they were met by the firefighters that went before and they are sitting down tipping back a cold one.

Love and prayers to the families and their fellow firefighters.

Ken and Kathy Brinkley

10/28 This goes out to all my fellow firefighters, friends and family -

In the past few days I have had numerous emails from our counterparts in Australia & New Zealand - an ocean may separate us, however the bond remains the same among all firefighters, no matter what uniform we wear. Know that thoughts are prayers are being sent from all over the world. I share these messages to bring a little comfort to our grieving hearts:
  • Please accept the condolences of the New Zealand fire fighters for the loss of your fire fighters.

  • Sorry to hear this news - indeed this is very sad. Your fire season keeps going on and on - ours keeps on building. Melbourne has had 3.4mm of rain for the month of October the average is about 96mm so not looking forward to long hot summer.

    Regards, Andrew Graystone, Parks, Victoria, Australia

On a personal note, I am so tired of loosing friends and counterparts, please don't be afraid to ask the hard questions out on the line, slow down and make sure the answers are given clearly and you understand them and above all practice LCES. Nothing is more important than making it home safely each and every time!

Thanks goodness for folks like Casey Judd and Vicki Minor, you are true angels! Prayers to the families/friends of Mark Loutzenhiser, Jess McLean, Jason McKay, and Daniel Hoover-Najera and Pablo Cerda!! Pablo I am praying you improve daily and are resting as comfortably as you can! All the five men now have a special place in my heart, even if I didn't know them personally before this terrible accident.

Sincerely - LaDiabla72

10/28 {ab, we would like this to be posted together, please}

Joint post from two grieving friends,

Sitting here trying to put together thoughts at a very tough time in my and many other peoples lives. (It was brought to my attention that putting something, anything down on paper is a help in the grieving process). I can’t express enough the great loss we as wildland firefighters have lost. Besides being the heroes in many peoples eyes, firefighters in others and Forestry Technicians in certain peoples eyes, these guys were members of a great family on the San Jac District. I know personally that this is a tight family atmosphere where everyone was treated as family the day they start on this district.

I worked on the San Jac for many years before transferring to another forest and am still a part of that family, staying in contact with many of the folks on the BDF. I know I will personally miss Lotzi tremendously, (the stories I can tell). I did not get to know his crew but I am sure that if they worked with Lotz, they were special individuals. My thoughts go out to the family members of BDF E-57. Please, each person that reads this post, remember the 52 club, FWFSA, and support them and also donate to the BDF fund. Not only was the San Jac a family but all of us as wildland firefighters belong to this family. All of us “Forestry Technicians” can make a difference if we try. Again, heartfelt condolences to our fallen brothers and their families.



How do we honor our most recent fallen firefighters?

First, as great friends and family members, as my buddy has said above.

Then we need to support the families, as has been said.

We also should recognize the professional and heroic actions of their brothers and sisters in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. The district engine crews in the immediate area had the daunting task of finding and assisting our fallen friends and did so with bravery and skill. Remember, all these folks were friends, many who had grown up together. Think about that. Yet, they proceeded in a manner that makes me proud, and should make all of us proud. They used their training (some of which Lotzi provided them) to safely and quickly render aid. Tears come to my eyes as I think about the trauma they experienced in this situation, but they acted as the professional firefighters they are.

Now many, many folks are pouring into the area, literally and figuratively to support our district, they too are the epitome of professionalism. Rangers, Biologists, Botanists, Archeologists, Chief Officers and even retired Forest Service folks. These folks are some of the same ones that comprise our ‘militia’.

So, how do we honor our fallen firefighters?

I submit that we should recognize the true role these people play, firefighters are not Forestry Technicians! The militia does not play a ‘minor role’ in the big picture of fire suppression. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Write your congressperson, support the FWFSA, and let us try to honor all firefighters by giving them their due. We all know the fed firefighters get the short end of the stick in many areas, recognition, pay and benefits. Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot!

Folks like Casey, Vicky, Mellie and others are supporting us always and especially now in our time of need.

What will you do?


10/28 Ab,

This entrapment makes me think of what happened to me twice this year! Once when the smoke got so thick on a back burn I could not see out my windows, my eyes were burning bad and breathing was getting hard to do. I could not drive because of the steep drop offs, narrow road and no visibility. It kept getting hotter in the cab and I was beginning to worry thinking this is bad. At that point I was thinking "man what a way to go" then the smoke cleared a little and I could drive out of the fire. It got real quiet inside the cab just me and the fire outside and my mind!

The next time was during another back burn and an engine in front of me stopped on the road and I was left next to some hot burning trees. The cab got real hot fast and I rolled up the window. It did not help at all, in fact it seemed to get even hotter. My fuel tank was on the fire side and I was beginning to get real excited. Up to then I always thought the cab would help me out, but it turns into a oven and you can't get away from the heat. The engine started moving again and the cooler air never felt so good to me!

These things woke me up real fast on just how easy it is to die on a fire if things are not right. I know what these guys went thru at first when this was happening to them, but I was lucky I am here to talk about it. I learned a lot from this and intend to never let it happen again. I sure did things different from then on and my safety is the first thing I think of even if it is not pushing the envelope just a little on a fire!

There is nothing burning out there worth dying for on a fire.
Signed; Just Lucky I guess?

Never compromise your safety! No pushing the safety envelope. Know your fire behavior. Size up the situation on your piece of ground. Figure out where the most risky places are and STAY OUT OF THEM. If you need your engine or tender to escape, you're doing something wrong. LCES. Ab. (Glad yer OK!)

10/27 Casey,
It was very kind of you to stop by and show your support for us today. The FWFSA's support to BDF firefighters the last two days has been heart warming. Phone calls to members and in person visits by you has shown the class of the association. It is nice to know such caring people are there for you. Though we didn't get to talk for long I wanted to say thank you for stopping by on the fire and hopefully we can talk again soon.

Vicki and WFF,
You will be a back bone to the emotional recovery of everyone. Thank you so much.

To our brothers on 57,
Though we never developed a close relationship, a familiar face is still enough when you see that person on a fire or at training. You guys were that. I know we were never on a first name basis, but we've seen each other and just that familiar face is enough to create the bond that we have. I hear some good friends of mine speak so highly of you all so it is so hard to know we've lost such great firefighters, but we know now you will be the angels watching over us.

Jess, Jason, Mark and Daniel your sacrifice will not be in vain and we will remember you always. Pablo, I hope nothing but comfort for you and your family by whatever means is necessary. To the rest of the 57 crew, the San Jac. district, and San Bernardino NF: may you all seek comfort with your family, friends and fellow firefighters. We will get through this together!


10/27 To Pyro5755:

Thanks, seems you've made my point better than I could. Thanks also for the rational perspective on today's reality. Something needs to change. When disaster strikes, as it inevitably will, the agencies immediately drive to cover their a--. I am not one to attribute that to sinister, uncaring, clueless bureaucrats - just an institutionalized response, deeply imbedded in agency culture. Despite recent legislation, that institutionalized response is not really new - Wag Dodge took the fall for Mann Gulch in 1949. What is new is that, now, firefighters are driven to cover their a-- as well. When everybody's covering the a--, nobody's learning a thing, and it just keeps happening over and over again. I find that very sad. I do not deny the causes, or judge people's responses to them, but I despise those causes, regret the responses, and hate the situation that has been created. Unleashing the hounds? Hardly. Raging against the machine? Definitely.

My friend, for now, you hit it on the head when you said "Honor their memory with LCES folks; I'm sick to death of burying friends." For those who are engaged in R-5 and those who will be, keep 'em safe out there!

10/27 Gonna shove my foot all the way down my throat ...

GG, Ain't Signin', I'd think ( hope ) you guys are debating the same point of view, just in different words. None of us would say that now is the time to place blame. Now is, however, the time to start, and NEVER STOP, looking for what happened, why it happened, and HOW to BREAK THAT CHAIN!

re: Mellie's advice to lawyer-up: As far as I know, I've never met, or worked with/ for Mellie. So I'm being presumptuous here, and saying that from my experience, anything you say can, and will, be used against SOMEONE ELSE! In this post-Cramer-30Mile environment, I recently found myself in the Alice-in-Wonderland position of wondering just who was being protected during an investigation, and who was going to end up being the fall-guy, despite having a strong feeling that the investigation team was trying to be impartial and develop a learning situation, not to place blame.

Nowadays, (tragically) we have to remember, the AIT's findings go on to whole battalions of attorneys, most of whom are definitely not on our (the WF community's) side. I really think that's the point Mellie was making, NOT necessarily to CYA in all circumstances.

Example: How often have we all said the kindest, most supportive thing we can possibly dream up to our significant other, only to have it perceived exactly opposite? If that's never happened to you, build to it; you obviously don't need a professional wordsmith!

And GG, dozershot, jimhart, and many others;

Thank you for saying so eloquently what many of us can't yet express. I've been trying, but keep finding myself staring at a blank screen for an hour at a time. And to those who are strong enough to be with the families and friends right now, God bless you all. There has to be a special place somewhere for people like you.

Honor their memory with LCES folks; I'm sick to death of burying friends.


As tanker after tanker flew low towards the immense, dynamic plume of the Esperanza Fire, I had the honor to ride along with a B/C from the San Bernardino most of the day. We also met with Vicki Minor, as usual exhausting herself on behalf of the families of our fire victims not only to meet their immediate needs of traveling here, lodging etc., but ensuring that benefits are researched with the help of Lori Greeno. I also had the honor of meeting with many firefighters who, while grieving, were focused on their jobs.

It was humbling not only to see the number of firefighters arriving at the hospital, but to listen to the generous donations coming into the WFF... Even Chris Fry, FWFSA member and recent burn victim himself, still undergoing rehab is here along with Jesse Shirly (sorry if spelling is wrong Jesse) from the El Dorado to give comfort to the family members and their fellow BDF firefighters.

The FWFSA has many members on the San Bernardino. Still others are here from other forests to not only assist with the fire but the daunting tasks associated with a multiple fatality fire. Even WT-15 from The Six Rivers NF arrived this evening. Firefighters of all ranks and many agencies are working together not only on the fire but the unenviable task of dealing with the fatalities.

I cannot be more proud of our wildland firefighting community and the effort and sacrifice they are all making during this difficult time. As time goes on, there will be even more to do as there is no getting around the fact that this tragedy will have far reaching consequences.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with those on the lines and those remembering their fallen brothers and our most heartfelt thanks remain with those doing the often thankless work of dealing with the dynamics of this tragedy.


Casey Judd
10/27 My prayers, my heart, my love go to the families of
the injured and fallen firefighters tonite. We lost my
son, Danny Holmes (Arrowhead Hotshots) 2 years ago and
as Sylvia and Len Kratze so eloquently put it, "we
understand." I hope the love from the wildland
community envelops them as it did us and they are able
to feel the love and receive some small measure of
peace, as we did. During those first dark days and
right up to today, it is that love and caring, from
the firefighting community and the Wildland
Firefighters Foundation that has sustained us!
I am eternally grateful to Vicki Minor and her
work... I can think of no one better to be there with
the families and the crew.


10/27 We've recently become aware that folks using MS Hotmail email accounts aren't receiving our reply from the Hotlist Forum registration form. Apparently the Hotmail accounts have a setting that auto-blocks from our server. Since we don't use MS Hotmail, we aren't able to tell you all how to change your settings. If anyone knows how to do this, you can let us know and we'll post the info on the registration page.

If you use a Hotmail account and haven't received an email providing the login/password for the Hotlist Forum within 15 minutes after submitting the registration form, you may email wlf-forum@wildlandfire.com to request the info.


10/27 Jim Hart,

I don't know how, after only three years, you have been able to put
into words, what I have felt since I was 16. I am 75 now, and am glad
that someone could really put a wildland (and all) firefighters' feeling
into words.

Thank you.
Gary Todd, retired CDF

10/27 Hi Ab,

Just passing on my condolences and heartfelt sadness over the tragic loss of the four firefighters and sincere hope that the injured firefighter can make a recovery.

I never knew any of them but I recently attended a training session with firefighters from across the US. I can see the faces of our lost comrades in the faces of those I met. I have the utmost of respect for those who choose this profession. The sister/brotherhood is something almost inexplicable. Thinking of their families and loved ones.

10/27 Once again the fire community has stepped up BIG TIME in support of our
brothers and sisters. The e-mails and phone calls to the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation have been overwhelming. Please understand that any
delay in properly acknowledging your contributions is not because we don't
appreciate them, but comes from our being overwhelmed by the caring of the
fire community and the need to support the families first and foremost. As
time goes forward we will properly acknowledge each and every contribution
that each of you have dug down into your hearts and made.

Please be safe out there.

Mike Warren, Board Member
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks for letting us know, Mike. Ab.

10/27 Ab,

I just heard and all I can say is I get really irate when I find out about tragedies like this. What really pisses me off is it was intentional!! Some stupid idiot started a fire during the time of year when Santa Ana winds are common.. I hope whoever it is gets caught, and I want to send my prayers and best wishes to the families. I won't say any more because it couldn't be printed.

AD Dispatcher
10/27 Los Angeles County Fire Department
Wildland Firefighting Situational Awareness Bulletin
October 27, 2006
Drew Smith Fire Behavior Analyst

Situational Awareness refers to the degree of accuracy by which one's perception of his current environment mirrors reality.

The Fall Season and early winter months are highly conducive to large fire development. The ability to contain fire may be very challenging. Fire Spread is determined by many variables. Fuel conditions and the ability to burn are dependent upon environmental factors, (fuel, weather and topography). Santa Ana Wind driven fires may produce a rate of spread of up to 3 miles per hour.

The need to raise situational awareness is essential for the safety of all emergency responders and the public we serve. Local fuel conditions are highly conducive to the fires ability to burn with intense results. Currently, watershed conditions are highly volatile due to seasonal low live fuel moisture contents below 60%.

Plume dominated fires will involve multi-directional fire spread and a dynamic fire environment that will have a high potential for large fire development. Older growth fuels will have a higher accumulation of dead fuel component (10 hour or "stick") as referred to in the Daily Fire Weather Forecast. A "stick" less than 7 and old growth contribute to plume dominated fires.

With Live Fuel Moisture at a critically low level the surrounding annual grasses (1 hour Fuels) provide the greatest contribution to rapid-fire spread. Spotting may occur between the fire line and up to ¼ mile away. During Santa Ana Wind conditions spotting potential may be as far as 2 miles ahead of the advancing fire front. With critical low live fuel moistures an 80%-100% probability of ignition from a spot fire is probable.

Situational awareness begins with forecasted and onsite weather, in combination with topography and fuel conditions. The fires exposure to wind, slope, and solar preheating of fuel must be identified. Determine if the fire is being driven by wind, topography, or fuel conditions. Local thresholds (NFDRS pocket cards, see attached) should be utilized as a reference to ensure appropriate firefighting tactics are based on observed fire behavior.

All department members shall adhere to the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and The 18 Situations That Shout "Watch Out". In addition, tailboard safety briefings shall include, company unity, establishing Lookouts, ensuring effective Communications, identifying escape routes and Safety Zones.
This information was provided by Fire Fighter Specialist Drew Smith (fire behavior analysis). If you have any questions, please contact your regional safety & training captain.

Reference your forecast zone Los Angeles County Fire Department NFDRS Pocket Card for daily fire danger rating.
10/27 To "I ain't signing this"

You said....

"GGFire, Give folks some time to grieve a little before you unleash the hounds."

You grieve your way, I'll grieve mine thanks, we're all different.

Didn't "unleash any hounds," just said that Mellie's post described a state of affairs that frustrates me no end.

As part of my process, visited with the parent of a firefighter killed in a previous tragedy today. In their own way, expressed many of the same frustrations I did in my post.

Again, my most sincere condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of the fallen. It sounds as if we've lost some fine colleagues.

10/27 My thoughts and prayers go out today to the loved ones of our fallen heroes Mark, Jess, Jason and Daniel.
I am also sending prayers for healing and strength to our injured hero Pablo and his family.


To jimhart,
That was an eloquent, heartfelt tribute.
10/27 Here's the 4 jpg's that vfd-cap'n sent in.

From vfd-cap'n prior message:

Attached is a KML file for Google Earth showing the pre-fire construction and lack of defensible space at the Esperanza Fire fatality site. If you tilt the view down and look north-northeast, you can see straight down the adjacent chimney to the point of origin.



(For those who can view and manipulate it with google earth, here's the kml file. ...I'm on my laptop, not configured for google earth. Here's also a series of maps from ESRI, created by a member of our community who I know is out of town. Ab.)

10/27 Jimhart, eloquently put.

Welcome to membership in the "180 Club." Welcome to the fire ranks. You're one of us. (I joined that club while in college, coming up on 30 years ago. The feeling of membership in the Fire Family never leaves.)

Everyone across the nation,

Please remember that this time of year is traditionally the time of extreme fire behavior in Southern CA.
The Loop fire took 12 El Cariso Hotshots on November 1, 1966. I hear Gordon King is working on the story. Good man.
In 1993 there were 2 weeks of devastating socal fires beginning on October 26.
The Cedar Fire, one of the firestorm of the SoCal fires of 2003 began on October 25 and blew up on October 26, killing more than a dozen people. (add: ESRI used to have a fine collection of maps, can't find them)
I know there were others.

Interface fire is a greater threat now than in the past. More people live there. The threat is perhaps made worse in SoCal by the timing of large fires there, not noted outside of the R5 as a time of high fire danger.

All of you south of me, I guess I just want to say BE SAFE. Look out for your brothers and sisters. If it's too dangerous, "let the crap burn." (Thanks vfd cap't for permission) People's stuff can be replaced. You can't. To your own families and our Fire Family, you're precious.

My heartfelt condolences to everyone touched by our tragedy.

NorCal Tom

10/27 jimhart -

Thank you.
Thank you for your kind words, thank you for your passion, thank you for understanding.

10/27 Ab and All,

I found this poem on the internet after 30 Mile. It speaks more profoundly
then I ever could about how I am feeling right now.



In Memoriam

I lost a dear friend today that I never knew. Oh, I recognized the face I’d
seen so many times before. Covered with soot, dirt and sweat and showing
the pain from a body pushed way beyond the limit. I didn’t know his hobbies
or his favorite foods; until today I didn’t even know the name. It didn’t
matter at the moment if the name was Bill or Larry or Monica or Sue. What
mattered was that the loss was a fellow firefighter.

You see, being a firefighter is much more than showing up for work and
drawing a paycheck. It’s a commitment to your fellow man to be there when
you are needed, It’s a brotherhood of individuals with a common bond of
service to others and a giving of your all so that others won’t suffer.
It’s rushing into situations that everyone else is doing everything they
can to escape. It’s fighting with your entire heart, body and soul to save
the life that is so desperately in need of your tender, loving care. It’s
the living embodiment of the term “public servant”.

My friend lived that commitment to the fullest, which is how I learned the
name. In his final call he rushed in as he had as many times before. This
time however, he paid the ultimate price. He had always been there for
others, but now we gather for him. This we do to pay our respects for a
Hero; not because he died, but because he lived and served his fellow man
well. As we pay our respects we pause and realize that for some greater
reason unknown to us, there lies our friend instead of me. As I ponder the
events that led me here words alone cannot express the intense sorrow and
yet, overwhelming pride that is felt. Until today, I didn’t know the name
but I knew him well…. My friend was fellow firefighter.

–Dennis Rutledge

10/27 Ab,

Attached is a KML file for Google Earth showing the pre-fire construction and lack of defensible space at the Esperanza Fire fatality site. If you tilt the view down and look north-northeast, you can see straight down the adjacent chimney to the point of origin.

This summer my father asked me when I was planning to start a fundraising campaign for our wildfire school. He thought we should target subdivisions and homeowner groups in Colorado, on the basis that we could train more of the firefighters who protect their homes.

I asked him if he really thought I'd get much with the slogan, "Give us money to teach your firefighters to walk away and let your crap burn."

vfd cap'n

vfd cap'n, could you capture the images at 3 or 4 locations or aspects and save each one as a jpg? If you can send me those, I'll work with them and post them. I can't do anything with kml files right now. Ab.

10/27 Talking with numerous members of our Local Union, we offer our condolences to the
families and friends of our Brother Firefighters. We feel your sadness and grief and
offer our support to you.

We will be sending a donation to the WFF for proper disbursement and encourage
all who read this and are associated with wildland firefighting to do the same. As we
have fought fires along side these individuals and had them help protect us, it is on us
now to help and protect those that they have left behind.

John Crotty
President, Vandenberg Professional Firefighters Local F-116

10/27 Members of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics wish to extend condolences to the families,
colleagues and friends of those killed and injured heroically battling the fires in California.
Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers are with you all.

Mark Woodward
Public Information & Education Officer
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
10/27 Jimhart -

For the past 16 years I've been a wildland firefighter. I have been
fortunate to experience those moments of gratitude from civilians while on
large fires. Florida '07, Washington '94, So. Cal '96 etc. But
unfortunately, more often we all encounter the constant criticisms of the
public on how we've suppressed fires, our failure to save certain
resources, or our WFU policies, and Rx programs. It used to wear me down
but after awhile, you grow a thick skin and learn to smile and be polite.

A pat on the back is no longer needed because I believe in what we do and I
believe in my FF family. In light of our differing opinions on a wide
variety of topics, we all want the same thing and work our hearts out to
achieve it -- protect life, property and resources.

But darn it if your letter didn't get to me and in light of the recent
tragedy that's put me in a pretty low mood for an indeterminable amount of
time, YOU brightened my day considerably. Just wanted to say, Thanks-

God bless the families of Mark, Jess, Jason, Daniel and Pablo.


10/27 What Firefighters Mean to Me.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point during the past three years whenever I thought “firefighter” a sense of respect would overwhelm everything else in my mind. Today, that respect stands like a beacon on the tallest peaks of the San Jacintos as tears fill my eyes, all of our eyes.

I never really thought about how these feelings have slowly developed within me until yesterday when I learned what had happened on the Esperanza fire above Cabazon. I was sitting in a fire station in San Diego County talking with a few guys about fire, the 2003 Cedar, when the call came in; a USFS engine company had been involved in a burn over and three firefighters were dead, two others critically injured. I felt something clutch my heart hard. My whole body shuttered.

I eventually went home and paced back and forth in the kitchen, constantly checking my computer to see if I could find news, any news on who it was. Did I know any of them? How did it happen? How could it have happened? All the faces of those I knew in the San Bernardino National Forest flashed across my mind a thousand times. I couldn’t take the uncertainty any longer so I called a good friend who is a battalion chief on the Forest and left a message. He called back and I found out the guys I knew weren’t on the engine that burned. Initially I was relieved. Then I felt guilty about feeling relieved. Then I wondered why this all was hitting me so hard. That’s when I realized what the fire service had come to mean to me; it had become family.

This is all very strange you see because I’m a biologist who was once quite content studying quiet things; things that didn’t take people’s lives. Fire was the farthest thing from my mind. Then the 2003 Cedar fire blew through my life. But I wasn’t impacted in a way one would expect; my house didn’t burn down, I didn’t know anyone whose house did, nor did I know any of those killed by the flames. Back then, like most of the civilian population, my experience with wildfire was limited to what I heard from breathless media reports and after-the-fact newspaper coverage.

What happened to me was different. I got mad, and it got worse. I grew increasing irritated over all the stupid things I was hearing about the fire from radio commentators, politicians, and self-focused academics, none of who knew (it became increasingly clear) what they were talking about. At first I believed some of what they were peddling, but then I took some time to try to understand fire myself and realized that not only were these talking heads ignorant, but their ignorant babbling was negatively influencing public opinion. Worse, their self-serving accusations were dragging down the morale of firefighters who were doing all they could to protect lives and property. They blamed firefighters for either allowing the fire to become so huge or creating conditions which made a huge fire inevitable. What a contrast Riverside County has shown the past 24 hours; professionals all.

As time went on I started meeting some of these firefighters, asking them questions while searching through the fire scar for bits of information that would help me understand what had happened. Names are not important; they are all remarkable human beings. What is important is that I came to appreciate the job firefighters do as well as the conditions under which they must operate. I can now say with confidence that unless you’ve lived a career fighting fires (meaning you’ve been on the fire line risking your life, not analyzing it from a safe distance), you really have no business having an opinion on the matter unless you’ve checked it first with a few seasoned firefighters, the ones who know what it means to be in the thick of it.

Now that I look back, it was inevitable that I would end up sneaking into a USFS Type II wildland firefighter training course with a bunch of kids thirty years my junior. It was the most logical step. Pulaski’s, bulging lower lips filled with tobacco, cutting line through manzanita, wild personalities, one or two ex-cons, and hauling hose over a mountain; it was all part of the process. I was called Pops once. Once. That stopped when I showed these guys (and one remarkable woman) that I was able to keep up with everyone else during PT. I’ll admit it wasn’t easy. One of the proudest moments in my life was when I received my Red Card. I was one of them now. I was a firefighter.

Family responsibilities have made it difficult for me to get out on the line, but my mind is always there with them, every inch of the way; breathing the dust, feeling the heat, cutting the line. Something has become a permanent part of me now that I do not fully understand. When I hear an engine siren howl I sit up straight and look around. When the air gets dry and the Santa Ana blows, cold chills run down my spine and the hair on the back of my neck stands up. When I see smoke in the air I want to go. I want to be there. I want to be with the kind of people I have come to know. I want to be with my friends. I want to be with the best bunch of people I’ve ever known. I want to be with the firefighters.

Yeah, I suppose the Fire Service must have its share of idiots. However, I haven’t met any. It seems all of the idiots I’ve met are outside looking in. That’s what I will be worrying about shortly, after-the-fact projections and finger pointing. I’m not talking about the investigation which may or not help us understand, I don’t know how they run those things. I’m talking about those who see this wildfire as just another opportunity to promote their one-size-fits-all theories concerning what they claim as the lousy job the USFS has done managing the landscape, how conservationists have prevented this or that, or how the Fire Service failed to properly protect some particular community. I’m hoping the tragedy will slap some reality into these people, but if past fires are any indication, probably not.

All of that is irrelevant now though. What occupies my mind today are the firefighters who have been killed, four as of today with one fighting with every once of strength he has left, and their families. I want to hug them and protect them. I want the world to always remember them and crowds to grow silent when their names are spoken. I want everyone to recognize each and every day how firefighters are always there, ready to help, no matter the dangers. I want those “Thank You Firefighter” signs along the roadways to become permanent to help everyone to remember, on a daily basis, the price America’s best are willing to pay to protect us in one of the most dangerous, fire-prone environments on earth.

There are experiences in one’s life that can be defining or can change forever how one sees the world. Getting to know and become friends with firefighters over the past three years has done that for me. It’s too late to start a career in the Fire Service for me now, but I sure know what direction I would go if I had to do it all over again. I’d be a firefighter. I want all of you to know that it has been an honor to be invited into your stations, your engines, and your homes. I’ve enjoyed every second I’ve spent with you. I’m just sorry that I never had the chance to meet Mark, Jess, Jason, Daniel, and Pablo before the flames. You guys are heroes and define all that is good in this country. All of you are the best people on earth.


10/27 Abs and all -

Hopefully this will help clear up any confusion as to how many and who - pray for the families and friends of those killed and injured. Also say a small prayer to whatever GOD for our firefighters currently out there risking it all and hope they catch the arsonist who caused this fire!

Thank You - LaDiabla72

Forest Service News
USDA Forest Service
San Bernardino National Forest

602 South Tippecanoe Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92408


Date: October 27, 2006 Release: Immediate Phone: 909-382-2711

Forest Service Releases Names of Deceased and Injured
Four fatalities and one injured while fighting wildfire

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIF. – It is with great sadness that we confirm the names of the Forest Service firefighters who tragically lost their lives while in the line of duty yesterday. The deceased are Mark Loutzenhiser, Jess McLean, Jason McKay, and Daniel Hoover-Najera. Critically injured is Pablo Cerda.

Mark Loutzenhiser, Engine Captain, was 44 years old and had 21 years of service. He was a certified Emergency Management Technician (EMT). He had worked previously as a hotshot crewman for the Vista Grande Hot Shots and also as a volunteer firefighter for Riverside County. He majored in fire science at Mt. San Jacinto College. He was a longtime resident of Idyllwild, Calif. where he was a great supporter and coach for the youth sports program.

Jess McLean, Fire Engine Operator, was 27 years old and had seven years of service. He had been a hotshot for three years with Vista Grande. He graduated from Banning High School in 1997 and attended fire science classes at Crafton Hills College. He was a resident of Beaumont, Calif.

Jason McKay, Assistant Fire Engine Operator, was 27 years old and had five years of Forest Service experience and four years as a volunteer firefighter in Adelanto. He also served on the Mojave Greens Type II crew. He was a certified EMT and earned an associate’s degree in Fire Science. He was a resident of Phelan, Calif.

Daniel Hoover-Najera, Firefighter, was 20 years old and was in his second season of firefighting. He worked on the Tahquitz Type II crew in 2005 and was a seasonal employee in 2006. He graduated from San Jacinto Mountain View High School in 2004. He was a resident of San Jacinto, Calif.

Pablo Cerda, who remains in critical condition, is a 23-year-old Firefighter in his second season with the Forest Service. He was previously of the Tahquitz Type II crew. He graduated from Los Amigos High School in Santa Ana in 2001 and attended Fire Academy of Riverside Community College. He is a resident of Fountain Valley, Calif.

The five Forest Service employees were on Engine Crew 57 on the San Jacinto Ranger District. They were dispatched early Thursday morning to assist on a state managed wildfire, the Esperanza Incident. They were engaging in structure protection and firefighting activities when they where overrun by flames. The accident investigation is ongoing.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the families during this very tragic time,” said Jeanne Wade Evans, San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor. “All of us on the forest and in the fire service community are suffering a great loss.”

# # #

10/27 We lost some of the best and brightest firefighters I have ever known today. While most of these fine young folks have yet to be identified to the press, one firefighter, Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser is someone I have known for nearly 25 years from our early hotshot days. Family man with 5 kids and a loving wife. When I heard that his family was at his side during the time of his passing, it made me start bawling, not because of their and our loss, but because they were given a chance to say goodbye.... it brought some peace in the chaos of today. This was not the only time I started bawling today.... In times like this, it is O.K. to cry.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the fallen. I also want to thank everyone who has offered condolences and offers of help to so many San Bernardino NF firefighters today. My phone never stopped ringing from all of the great folks in the wildland fire community. It is still a little early for knowing what help is going to be needed, but the family liaisons will let us all know when, and if, the need arises.

A good group of people are currently down here providing support to the families, friends, and co-workers. Vicki Minor from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation arrived around 6 P.M. and sprung into action as she always does. Grief counselors, chaplains, CISD counselors, friends, neighbors, retirees, and others have also been mobilized to provide support.... it means alot to all of us.

Tough times are ahead, but we will endure and continue. The wildland fire community is indeed a pretty tight knit family. This community made me very proud today by all the support they have given, and the great restraint in posting information until family notifications could be made.

Right now, the most important things are to provide support and comfort for the spouses and children left behind, and for the survivor families, friends and co-workers.

Take care and keep safe,

10/27 Ab, Vicki told me this morning that Jesse Shirley, the Eldorado Hotshot who survived the firewhirl burnover near Winnemucca earlier this summer is heading to San Bernardino to be with the families and offer his support. Chris Fry, survivor of the BLM engine burnover is also going. Sweet thought... Incredible heartfelt action. Mellie
10/27 To the families of the fallen wildland firefighters, and the family of the injured:

Our condolences and all of our thoughts and prayers go out to you and all of the family members and friends and co-workers of the fallen and injured. My husband and I sat in prayer this morning and remembered you especially. It is one of the few things we can do to ease your pain and sorrow. Having lost our daughter in 2002, hearing of more fatalities always sends our heads spinning and our feelings spiraling to the moment we learned of Heather's death. One of the most important things we can offer to the families at this time is our simple "we understand". We know how you feel, and you are not alone in your suffering. It cannot change things, but know that there are those who do understand your pain, and we are with you in spirit at this unbearably sad time.

Sylvia and Leonard Kratzke

P.S. a donation has been sent to WFF in memory of those fallen and injured, and in memory of our Heather and in honor of Sean, Heather's husband, an engine captain who continues to fight fire. I urge all who can to contribute to this fine organization and support their efforts.
10/27 'A day of mourning': Firefighters struggle through grief to contain Cabazon fire

Staff reports
The Desert Sun

October 26, 2006

CABAZON - The nation's deadliest wildfire-fighting disaster in five years struck the mountain town of Idyllwild Thursday after four firefighters perished in a blaze set by an arsonist near Cabazon.
"It's definitely a day of mourning," Idyllwild firefighter Stan Keppler said.

Mourning was coupled with the anger of knowing that the fire that killed four and left one in critical condition was set intentionally. Officials believe an arsonist started the blaze shortly after 1 a.m.
"You don't kill four federal employees," Bill Peters, public information officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said. "Whoever did this has incurred the wrath of the federal government."

Hunt on for arsonist
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency for Riverside County on Thursday evening.

More than 1,100 firefighters from as far away as Shasta converged on the wind-whipped blaze, and at least 3,000 will be needed before the fire's out. The Santa Ana winds are expected to stick around through late Saturday.

Officials don't know how long it will take to contain the fire.

Fire officials have vowed to track down the arsonist who started it all.
"This was a deliberately set arson fire. An arson fire that leads to the death of anyone constitutes murder," said Riverside County Fire Department Chief John Hawkins.

"Turn that scum in, please," said Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley.

Bad news travels fast
Word of the deaths spread across San Jacinto Mountain as fast as the flames.

Hundreds fled from their homes in the middle of the night. A sky that should have been dark glowed orange.

It was an eerily similar story shared again and again Thursday as those who escaped the Esperanza fire gathered in evacuation centers.

But four men didn't survive, and a fifth was fighting for his life hours after he fought the flames.

The fire "burned over" the engine the all-male crew from Idyllwild was using, said Pat Boss, U.S. Forest Service spokesman. Rapidly moving Santa Ana winds, gusting up to 60 mph, changed the fire's course too quickly.

It was too late.

Three of the firefighters died. The other two were taken to Arrowhead Medical Center in Colton.

It was there that Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser died. His family was with him, said U.S. Forest Service Chaplain Ed Cortez.

The only other firefighter brought to the medical center is on life support, with burns over 95 percent of his body and severe respiratory injuries.

Officials held off from releasing his name and those of the others until their families could be reached.

At least five federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives agents are investigating. And county officials are considering offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to those responsible.

No arrests had been made as of Thursday night.

Thirty-six firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service and California Department of Forestry have died battling California wildfires since 1990.

Until Thursday, the deadliest wildfire fire-fighting disaster in the United States happened when four firefighters were killed battling the Thirtymile fire in Washington's Okanogan National Forest on July 10, 2001.

"The people who fight fires are among the bravest of men and women anywhere. We must never take for granted the hard work, sacrifices and danger that they deal with," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Thursday.

Esperanza fire started nearly three years to the date after Old Fire killed six people, destroyed 1,000 homes and scorched about 100,000 acres in the San Bernardino Mountains above San Bernardino. Santa Ana winds also fueled that deadly blaze.

Getting out of harm's way
Evacuations were ordered Thursday for 600 homes in three areas - Twin Pines, Poppet Flats and Silent Valley.

Families were forced to pack up what they could and leave everything else behind.

Charles Miner told his mother and sister to get out as he struggled to save his $50,000 backhoe from Thursday's fire.

He had burns on his face, and his right hand was burned so badly that it had to be treated and wrapped in white gauze.

The flames were licking his property as the 42-year-old left. He shook his head when asked if his house was still standing.

"It's not," he said, crying. "I watched it. It's burnt to the ground."

Miner had to cover his face and use the lines on the road to guide himself down the mountain.

"I couldn't see nothing," he said, using his red sweatshirt to wipe away tears from his burnt face.

"I was getting myself out the best I could."

The Silent Valley RV Park was not cleared in time, trapping hundreds of people behind walls of flames.

"They didn't tell us that there was any reason to evacuate until the roads had already been shut," Lydia Conrad said as she stood in line with her 7-year-old son, Shaun, waiting to use a pay phone to call home.

"We were watching the fire just hop and spread," said Cathie Meyer. She tried to evacuate two separate times before holing up at the RV park.

"There was like a 15-minute window where you could get out of here. It's just really scary."

Those at the RV park were safer riding it out there than trying to leave, said Riverside County Fire Department Capt. Julie Hutchinson.

"It may be a bit smoky, but they are fine," she said Thursday afternoon. "They are not in harm's way."

Evacuations started early Thursday morning and continued into the afternoon. Those who survived trickled in to Red Cross evacuation centers throughout the day, bringing with them tales of narrow escapes and fears of what they will return to after the fire's out.

Shortly after waking up around 4:30 a.m., the power went off at Timo Harju's Gorgonio View Road home. With the lights off, the 61-year-old could still see a glow inside his house.

"It was a wall of fire, possibly several hundred feet long. The wind was roaring in my direction," he said.

"There was only one thing to do: I grabbed the dogs and left."
Harju has been renting his home for about eight weeks, he said.
"I hope I can get back."

Here's the latest
-- About 10 houses have been damaged or destroyed by flames, which are being fed by strong winds, officials said. Aerial attacks have stopped for the evening.

-- Almost 1,000 firefighters are helping to fight the blaze, including inmates from the California Department of Corrections, and hand crews are working to create fire walls. They will continue working through the night.

-- Overnight shelters have been set up at Hemet High School and Fellowship in the Pass church, 650 Oak Valley Parkway in Beaumont. As of 9 p.m. about 12 people were staying in the church.

-- Information on this blaze can be obtained from Riverside County fire officials at (951) 940-6985.

Fair Use Disclaimer

10/27 To the family and co-workers of the fallen heroes:

My thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters and their families every
day of the year. Today I send my condolences and continue to pray.

My sympathy,

Virginia Ezzell
Tuttle, Oklahoma
10/27 A co-worker of mine came up to me and told me about the fire in Riverside. He knew I was ex-wildland and ex-fed and my heart breaks again. This has been a season of injury and death and to all those still out there- stay safe, stay aware, and don your PPE. I have had random friends that I know e-mail me to say they heard the news and are saying prayers-the network needs to pull together to support the community and families.

I was watching the news and there were guys spraying hoses with ball caps on, ones with most of the PPE on but no gloves.... It's crazy out there but please put that protective layer on and watch out for each other.

Take care out there.

10/27 RE: Vigilante justice would be appropriate

This asshole has been starting fires for the last six months in the area. Now he has killed some of my friends. I take it personal from now on. If I catch that SOB, better be some LEOs around to keep me from stringing his ass up a tree,


Officials seek arsonist responsible for Cabazon blaze
By David Kelly, Jonathan Abrams, Maeve Reston, Times Staff Writers
6:58 PM PDT, October 26, 2006

Four firefighters were killed and another critically burned Thursday trying to protect homes from a wind-whipped arson fire that charred more than 10,000 acres and forced hundreds to flee several mountain communities west of Palm Springs.

The U.S. Forest Service crew was manning hoses when a burst of wind sent flames shooting over them so quickly they had no time to deploy portable fire shelters.

"These winds were devil winds," said Pat Boss, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman. "They came out of nowhere. They were fleeing for their lives and the flames caught them."

Authorities said the fire was set shortly after 1 a.m. southeast of Cabazon. Fueled by Santa Ana winds and tinder-dry vegetation, it quickly raced south into the mountains.

Three of the firefighters died at the scene near San Gorgonio View Road, north of Twin Pines off Highway 243. Two were taken by helicopter to the burn unit at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where one succumbed to burns that covered his entire body.

"This is one of my toughest days in my 25 years as a trauma surgeon," said Dr. Dev Gnanadev, the hospital's medical director. "Never have we had this many great men get involved in so large an accident."

The sole survivor has burns over 90% of his body, severe lung injuries and was placed on life support, Gnanadev said. "The chances of survival," he said, "are low."

Four of the crew, based in the mountain community of Idyllwild, had between five and 25 years of experience. One was in his first season.

They "did everything professionally," Boss said. "They just turned around, and the wind blew over them, and it just caught them as a whirlwind."

The crew and their mangled fire truck were found in a remote canyon area, off a long-winding dirt road. Another fire crew nearby radioed for help, but did not have time to rescue their colleagues.

Shortly after their deaths, the other five forestry fire crews fighting the wildfire were temporarily pulled off the line to give them a brief moment to absorb the loss.

The mountain blaze, known as the Esperanza Fire, forced 500 residents to evacuate from the remote communities of Twin Pines, Poppet Flat and Silent Valley. Hundreds of homes were threatened.

Several hundred people in the Silent Valley recreational vehicle park were surrounded by fire after flames blocked their exit. Firefighters circled the park to keep the flames at bay.

"We couldn't evacuate them in time," said John Hawkins, fire chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Riverside County. "They're going to encounter heat, smoke - but they're probably going to be OK. There are firefighters with those people."

About 1,000 firefighters battled the blaze, but access was limited due to the steep, rugged terrain in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains. Airplanes and helicopters dropped water and fire retardant in an attempt to bring it under control.

Throughout the day, strong, dry winds rumbled like earthquakes, feeding the fire and pushing the blaze to the southwest. Trees and brush burst into flames. Balls of flame rolled across roads where people were trying to escape, forcing cars to retreat. Dense smoke made visibility impossible at times.

For the firefighters, conditions in the predawn hours Thursday had been even more harrowing. There was no electricity, so roads and buildings had no light, and the air was choked with smoke - pitch black and chaotic, is how residents described the scene

"I even backed into a tree in my front yard and I've lived here for years," said Wayne Meeks, a local resident.

A half-dozen homes along Twin Pines Road were burning at midday, and the road was littered with charred rabbits and birds.

"Oh my God, oh my God," said Lori Cornell as she walked toward her smoldering home. "I thought it might bypass us. I've never seen anything like this."

Fair Use Disclaimer

10/27 As I watched yesterday's events unfold via the HotList, news reports, etc., I found myself profoundly saddened and, shortly thereafter, angered as well. Angered not only at the fact that our family members' deaths were caused by an arsonist, but that they died trying to protect structures. No life is worth any structure, any tree, any blade of grass anywhere.

May the surviving firefighter and families and friends of those who have passed have the strength to endure these very trying times. My thoughts and prayers are with them all.

- mw
10/27 My heartfelt sorrows to the families both blood and forest service..

opm says we're forestry technicians. In my mind it would be a tribute
for congress to pass the necessary bills an laws in honor of our fallen
brethren to call us firefighters.


10/27 GGFire,

Give folks some time to grieve a little before you unleash the hounds.

you said,

"I, perhaps naively, believe that we can improve; become highly reliable, error resistant, learning organizations. You've just described an environment in which we will never learn from the tragedies that befall our brothers and sisters - to do all we can to prevent recurrence. While I do not believe that learning from their loss makes the loss of firefighters "OK," to not learn from the loss seems to make their loss that much more tragic and pointless. Your post reminds me that we are currently more of a CYA culture than a resilient, learning culture. That bums me out."

As long as we continue to stress a blame culture rather than a learning culture, lessons learned will not happen. Accountability is one thing, blame is another. After the Doc Hastings bill, blame is the norm and intended result by some, and it can result in severe criminal and civil legal proceedings if interpreted wrongly. I agree with Mellie. After the lessons learned from Cramer, folks should lawyer up.

I have NEVER seen ANY firefighter EVER act with intentional due malice or grossly negligent actions to necessitate criminal or civil proceedings. What ever happened to the Federal Tort Claims Act that protected federal employees?

A repeal of that stupid assed Hastings/Cantwell bsstardized legislation needs to happen for changes in firefighter safety. That dumb ass bill actually increases risks to firefighters, rather than increases safety. I am calling my Congressman tomorrow. His office called me today for info before a press conference..... he damn well better listen to me when I call him tomorrow.

We have not even come close to becoming a learning culture when personal liability trumps learning and keeping firefighters safer. We are also a very long way from achieving a Foundational Doctrine. Unfortunately, that is the real world.

I ain't signing this

10/27 As Pryro5755 said, "Only advice I'd add is: Write, at least, a rough draft of your memories, impressions, actions, etc. NOW, while all is fresh" - that may be the most timely & critical advise anyone suggested.

At a difficult time like this keeping a personal journal helps one put thoughts, feelings, visual/audio memories, and supposition into words for future reference & personal analysis. Make notes before gossip and conjecture cloud memory.

This devastating loss of lives is heart breaking; the ripple effect reaches worldwide. Those who lost a co-worker, friend and loved one are emotionally wounded; they need our prayers and support

10/26 There have been conflicting reports of how many have fallen. To clarify, there is still one firefighter fighting for his life in the burn unit, surrounded by his family. Thoughts and Prayers would be appreciated. Ab.
10/26 Ab,

Any thoughts or talk as to where we as the fire fighting community
could send money to help the victim's families? Thanks


Tyler and others who have emailed with this question, Vicki Minor from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is in San Bernardino now and is helping, especially the parents with their son in the burn unit. She is geared up to help with anything any of them might need, from lodging to transportation to communication to paying the bills. Her goal is to smooth their way. She is good at it. (Many parents and spouses call her their angel.) She's also supporting the supporters: our Honor Guard and our firefighters.

I'd recommend you donate money to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and earmark where you want it to go. If you want it to go to the General Fund, say that. If you want it to be split equally among the five families, say that when you donate. If you want it to go to one family in particular, say that. The Foundation can make it happen any way you specify. Money donated to families of our fallen and injured through the WFF is tax deductible.

Send a check here and state who you want it earmarked for:
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way
Boise, Idaho 83705

Or call Lillian at the WFF desk and ask her how else you can do it: (208) 336-2996

10/26 These young men that lost their lives where some of the finest firefighters I have had the privilege to work with. Their loss will be huge, they were truly the type of people that would have changed our worlds. I cannot express my profound sorrow at this. I will miss you all and will carry you in my heart until we meet again.

"And when he fell in whirlwind, he went down
As when a lordly cedar, green with boughs,
Goes down with a great shout upon the hills,
And leaves a lonesome place against the sky. "

Brothers gone, but never forgotten.

10/26 Woodsman20;

Have to wholeheartedly agree, man. Looking back over 30 years, sometimes it seems as if the only thing that changes is the faces.


Excellent advice. I wish I'd thought of it earlier this year. We'll have to chat after that report comes out.

Only advice I'd add is: Write, at least, a rough draft of your memories, impressions, actions, etc. NOW, while all is fresh. Start early in the ass't, and include everything leading up to what you were actually doing at the time of the accident. Again, this is from first-hand experience, including having to explain to a review team why I would like to discuss events that happened an hour before I began my written statement.


10/26 Ab:

Like all, I'm saddened by the loss of the firefighters on the Esperanza Fire today, and offer my condolences to the friends, family, and co-workers of those lost. Having come "most of the way" through a long fire career without having lost someone very close, I cannot imagine what this tragedy must be like, and feel that any words to express sympathy seem pretty puny. All the tougher knowing that the fire was arson, which makes harder to make sense of the loss. Can't even really describe the anger and disgust that knowledge brings. Murdering firefighters in the line of duty somehow seems more despicable than most crimes I can imagine.

Mellie: While I sincerely appreciate your intent to serve as lookout, I can't begin to describe how badly your post depressed me ("I think IT'S TIME FOR EVERYONE TO LAWYER UP.....Do not speak to anyone involved in ANY investigation without your lawyer present......")

I, perhaps naively, believe that we can improve; become highly reliable, error resistant, learning organizations. You've just described an environment in which we will never learn from the tragedies that befall our brothers and sisters - to do all we can to prevent recurrence. While I do not believe that learning from their loss makes the loss of firefighters "OK," to not learn from the loss seems to make their loss that much more tragic and pointless. Your post reminds me that we are currently more of a CYA culture than a resilient, learning culture. That bums me out.

10/26 To all my Berdue brothers and sisters:

How devastating... I got home from work and checked my email, and when I saw 4 ff killed in Cabazon on my Yahoo links I had a horrible feeling. I called Mary and we both wept; I weep as I write this. The loss of the folks at that station, dear Lotzi and all, breaks my heart.

I love and miss you all.

All my love and prayers to all of you and your families--

Del Rosa 90, 97; Engine Pup 92-96
10/26 Esperanza losses

Heartfelt sympathies and prayers to the families and friends of those who
lost their lives today, and to all firefighters - from a 'civilian.'

When you live in 'fire country' as we do, you are all our heroes and our
respect and gratitude for all you do is immeasurable.


10/26 Mellie said,

I am still looking for a copy of the Cantwell Bill that was passed following 30-Mile (that is really the Doc Hastings Bill) but was never made public... If anyone has that, could you please send it

This may not be exactly what you are looking for but www.GPOaccess.gov/ offers search options by keyword. the Library of Congress website offers transcripts from congressional records @ http:// thomas.loc.gov/ (1989 to Sep 2006).

Prayers that those who lost their lives earlier today rest in peace. Sincere heartfelt condolences to their family, friends and the entire firefighting community.


I passed the pdf version to Mellie. I think it's the same thing Casey posted below. Thanks to those who provided info. Ab.

10/26 Ab

got this from CNN about 1830PDT
Quote from Rich Hawkins CDF RRU

"Hawkins did not provide details about how officials knew the fire was deliberately set, citing the ongoing investigation. However, Hawkins and other officials said that the blaze was set in a place and under conditions that would likely guarantee maximum damage. "It was set in alignment with the wind, the slope," Hawkins said. "It was basically set to go."

Arson investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene."

Very interesting.
I have also attached for you 2 shots of the SOCAL 2 KM fog image. Black background in daylight, white about 1830 or so. The fire sure stands out. The fog scanner scans just the right infrared band to do this. The 2 HPWREN cameras that say "DOS PICOS" are also set for infrared. trying to emulate the NOAA thing but each is set up for a slightly different image and wavelength. Hopefully they will never have any fire to show. The East looks towards my place.


RJM, I just can't spend the time to deal with your fog images right now. I am photo-ed out. Lower priority... Ab.

10/26 Thoughts and prayers go out to the fire community, friends, and families of those killed. elg

10/26 My condolences, thoughts, and prayers for everyone involved in the Esperanza incident.

Wish I could do more to help.

10/26 To the poster who wanted a copy of the post 30-Mile legislation... here ya go.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

2d Session
H. R. 3971

To provide for an independent investigation of Forest Service firefighter deaths that are caused by wildfire entrapment or burnover.

HR 3971 EH
2d Session
H. R. 3971

To provide for an independent investigation of Forest Service firefighter deaths that are caused by wildfire entrapment or burnover.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


(a) INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION- In the case of each fatality of an officer or employee of the Forest Service that occurs due to wildfire entrapment or burnover, the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture shall conduct an investigation of the fatality. The investigation shall not rely on, and shall be completely independent of, any investigation of the fatality that is conducted by the Forest Service.

(b) SUBMISSION OF RESULTS- As soon as possible after completing an investigation under subsection (a), the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture shall submit to Congress and the Secretary of Agriculture a report containing the results of the investigation.

Passed the House of Representatives June 24, 2002.


10/26 Here's what I think. I've been staying situationally aware in spite of grief. Consider me your lookout.

I think IT'S  TIME  FOR  EVERYONE  TO  LAWYER UP. Firefighters, management, USFS, CDF, CITIES and TOWN agencies on the fire. Do not speak to anyone involved in ANY investigation without your lawyer present.

I'm still trying to understand the judicial process in this case, but the fact that most people involved in it, from firefighter to agency to congress -- at all levels -- don't know what the investigative process is or what the legal process is. This means that legal beagles will bumble along and groundpounders in their shocked state will talk too much, possibly putting themselves at risk. (Even for charges of manslaughter.) Following South Canyon, Cramer, 30-mile etc, we're in a more-ass of legalese that is breaking new ground in both  investigation and in court. Transition shouts WATCH-OUT.

I've been talking with a number of  retired fire managers today, including ICs who have weathered past tragedies, and a lawyer friend.

You in the investigation? How close were you or did you have any links to the decision process and assigning people? Couple of things OSHA, OIG (and the WO USFS) will check on when they question you:

  • Were you working within your capacity?
    If you IA a fire on CDF SRA, you are there at the request of the managing agency (CDF), you yourself are not operating in any management capacity. You have no management responsibility. You've been ordered up to fight fire.

    • Do not say or imply that you made a command decision, unless you did. It's most likely the IC or someone in his/her chain of command ordered you to position yourself here or there to do this or that. If you did make command decision, you have stepped outside of operating in your official capacity. There has been a breakdown in chain-of-command communication. 
    • Regarding communication, were you communicated with? were you tuned in to the right cdf frequency?
  • Did you exceed your red-card qualifications? 
    OSHA, OIG will look at
    • all engine modules and how they were staffed and they'll dig back into your past records of engine module staffing, etc.
    • work-rest ratio, days off, how long were tours. Are folks overextended? (Well duh, look at the season we've had and the personnel we've had available...)
    • they'll ask about SOPs and SOGs. (Hope you've been writing everything as guidelines and not procedures. To OSHA, OIG SOGs are like god's-words.) "Typically how you run things" equates to SOPs. Careful of your words; they can trap you.
  • The San Bernardino is a Union Forest. If you're low enough on the food chain that you don't have a lawyer and can't get or afford one, make sure your Union Rep or another witness sits in on the OSHA and FS questioning. He/she may not be able to say anything, but you might need a witness. (I'm told union reps are only GS 7 or below so they may not help much. Sorry reps, don't mean this personally... just laying out the truth as I see it for my fire guys and gals.) Better, maybe to ask your Division Chief or Batt Chief to sit in the interrogation room with you. They're probably more savvy to investigations and the implications of questions/answers than reps.

    The BEST MOVE would be to Get a lawyer. Make sure he or she is familiar with criminal law as well as OSHA and OIG. (They're hard to find.) Do not speak without your lawyer present. Do this if you're USFS, BLM, Riverside Co or LACo, etc-Co Fire or any of the CITY fire depts that were involved in the IA response gone bad. 

    Everyone should Get a lawyer: USFS (the agency) should line up their lawyer, as well as other agencies like CDF. Everyone and every agency bring your lawyers to the investigative process. No one speaks without one. Let's see how the investigation goes... Lawyers speaking to lawyers. Fine idea.

On another, slightly different topic, how you are faring psychologically: 
Do not let "the powers that be" lock you up in a motel room to "wait for the investigators". The OSHA and OIG guys and WO investigative team will want you "fresh" for their investigation. They are not your friend in this case, they're probably not even from R5, although they may be fine people. You need Critical Incident Stress Debriefing so you reduce your chances of later developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with flashbacks, anxiety attacks, depression, etc. If you don't need it, go to it anyway to support those on your crew or in your organization who do need it. 

Consider it DUTY. People are social animals. You/we need other people to talk with so we can psychologically integrate our stressful experience and come to "make friends with the  memories" as one psychologist friend of mine says. I know you've all been through a lot and, as someone told me, you're moving like zombies. Demand CISD. Demand a lawyer. Get someone who is thinking clearly and has your best interests at heart to "take care of you" for a bit. You're not thinking straight. Take care of each other. Talk. Protect your own psyche and the psyches of your friends and crew first. Investigation with lawyer present have second priority.

That's it for now. This had to be said... (now- Got to go to chat.)

Love you all. My CDF guys and gals, please cover your posteriors, too... We're all community. Be Safe. That CDF Hawkins is sure a good man.

Mellie, PhD, the interagency firefighter's advocate.

PS. I am still looking for a copy of the Cantwell Bill that was passed following 30-Mile (that is really the Doc Hastings Bill) but was never made public... If anyone has that, could you please send it to me via Ab, send in a link, or come to chat tonight and I'll give you my personal email addy. (Thanks KnuckleDragon, good idea)

10/26 To all of the wildland fire community,

Lets stop to think for a minute about this tragedy. I have worked/fought fire here before and it saddens me to hear the news. I would ask all of you to drop whatever it is we we're doing to support these families in anything we can give them.... especially prayer and love


10/26 Ab

Just heard the 5 th FF passed away, not unexpected considering
the nature of the injuries.

10/26 On behalf of our members, especially those on the San Bernardino who are dealing with this painful day in very personal ways, we offer the families, friends & co-workers of those lost today our most heartfelt sympathy and share their sorrow.

Vicki Minor of the WFF is on her way down to San Bernardino and I will be heading out first thing in the morning. While the firefighting community across the country is a large one and rallies around the loss of any firefighter, we know the wildland family is unique and so incredibly special.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to all of you and remain so incredibly proud of what you do.

With Greatest Respect,

Casey Judd
10/26 knuckle Dragon:

I think that's a good idea. hate hearing about this and tired of burying
folks i've worked with over the years. I think chat would be great.

woodsman 20

10/26 Hey, I am a 4th year firefighter on the Gila National Forest, and this is the 1st time I have come up on this site. I think this site is really good, and I also want to say that my prayers are with the friends and families of our fallen firefighters. My family and I will continue to pray for all the firefighters and their families.

Thank you
10/26 To the Fire Community

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Souls', and Families of those Heroes killed and injured today; while dong their job.
Thank you firefighters for all you do.
Just can not find the right, printable, words to express my contempt for those who started this disaster.

Again my condolences to the fire community and the families traumatized by this situation.

Just saw a overhead picture of the Engine, Bad!

10/26 Mellie,

My guess is that tonight would be a very good night for a bunch of us to
chat.... if you can, of course. Let's say about 2000 PDT.

10/26 does anybody know yet what agency was affected by todays b.s.
because of an arsonist. (besides all of us)

woodsman 20

It was officially a CDF fire -- the Esperanza, CA-RRU-091190 -- on which an engine of USFS firefighters were burned over. At present 4 of our community are dead and 1 is in an intensive care (burn unit) fighting for his/her life. Ab.

10/26 Friends,

Time for prayers and tears in that order but both at the same time is what most of us are doing.

Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation who will immediately be coming to the assistance of both families of the deceased and of the injured. Compadres, please go to www.wffoundation.org, follow the links, and donate however you can.

Godspeed to those who gave all.

10/26 Another bad day in Wildland Fire Suppression......Lets remember our basic
principles even this late in a very long drawn out fire season....Our
thoughts and prayers are with the families of victims involved in today's
tragedy. All fire related personnel need to give portions of what little
money we make to the victims families to help with the loss. Lets pull
together and never forget we are all at risk everyday.

Wyo Fuels
10/26 From the news conference aired on CNN: The Esperanza fire was determined to
be an arson fire. A $100,000 reward is being offered by Riverside County. Call
951-922-7116 to provide information.

Also, a fund is being established in Riverside County to support the families of the
fatally injured/injured firefighters.

God Speed Brothers.....................


10/26 Ab,

Words don't come easy at sorrowful times like these. My prayers
for the families and friends of the fallen and injured.

vfd cap'n
10/26 Another critically injured firefighter has died. Ab.
10/26 Hey, I've been following TheySaid for awhile, but I figured I'd
put in something that might interest some of you.

NBC4 has a live video feed of the Esperanza Fire, most of
which is just raw video.



10/26 BIG hug for families, friends, Honor Guard, Chaplain, investigators,
notifiers, everyone linked to the loss of our folks on the Esperanza
Fire. I'm stunned again at how quickly this can happen and we're
changed forever.

God's speed to those who died. My heart spills over with tears and
goes out to families and close friends... I have you all in my prayers.

My personal thanks to those who have acted responsibly on the
Hot List Forum and to those who have monitored it.

Take care of each other. Be Safe.


10/26 I understand the new NFPA 1051: Standard for Wildland Firefighter Qualifications is due out this fall.

Does anyone know if there were any agency folks working on this?

I'm curious about this after reading through some FEMA stuff on a "National Credentialing" program. I ran across a list of FEMA/DHS positions for this credentialing program that just kept referencing the NFPA 1051. (http://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nims/fhmp-16-06.pdf) 18kb

For a few of the positions it says you need to meet the 310-1 or NFPA 1051 standards, but no more specifics than that. Its kind of interesting reading.

10/26 My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those
who lost their lives and those who were injured on the Esperanza fire.
Godspeed to those involved. This is truly a sad day for the wildland
firefighting community.

10/26 Here's a link to the news on the Esperanza fire:

"Three Firefighters Killed While Battling Wildfire"


10/26 > From the associated press a few minutes ago:

Sorry no link to it.

(AP) -- The U.S. Forest Service says three
firefighters have been killed and two critically injured battling a
wildfire near Palm Springs.


10/26 The USFS has told AP that 3 FS firefighters have been killed and 2
injured in the Esperanza Fire. Our thoughts and prayers for the fallen
and their families.


10/26 Mosquito,

You said, "What I want to focus on is what management can do, if anything, at the lower levels to improve the problem. I want to know what we can do at the overhead level from the Squad Boss/AFEO position all the way up to Forest FMO."

That is a good thing to focus on. The only thing that I can think of at the "firefighter to Forest FMO" level is to join the FWFSA and become an active advocate for changes in firefighter safety, pay, benefits, and working conditions.

People at the lower levels rarely get bureaucracies to change direction unless they have a strong voice, political connections, and relevant facts to educate others with.... the FWFSA provides that.

The FWFSA is the only group out there who is educating Congress about the many problems that the wildland fire program has right now, and how they are affecting wildland firefighter safety and wildland fire management program delivery. One problem, recruitment and retention, appears to be a significant throughout most of the Western United States (with the exception of maybe parts of Utah and Montana).

Mosquito, the only other thing I can think of is for folks in overhead positions to be leaders.... walk the walk, and talk the talk. Don't bring forward, or whine about something, unless they have an idea for a change that can fix the problem. Be positive in your work and seek to better each firefighters experience with the agency. Part of the change process is active communication between peers, outside parties and agencies, and other groups interested in the wildland fire program. This active communication gets the problems identified, the solutions in focus, and the goals for appropriate changes in sight.

The R-5 Board of Directors used to be such a group.... the FWFSA still is. This is not a slam on the R-5 BOD, it IS a slam on the folks ABOVE the Forest FMO's and Line Officer representatives who are not letting them do their jobs in keeping firefighters safer and improving wildland firefighter recruitment, retention, and working conditions. The FWFSA members can still stay vocal and concentrate on facts when the screws of the bureaucracy are turned on.

10/26 I just ordered up 10 calendars... can't wait for them to get here.

Get yours while they're hot!


10/26 Casey.

I thought that the FWFSA was looking to improve the pay, benefits, and working conditions of federal wildland firefighters?

Isn't the OWCP fiasco on the radar screen as improvements in "benefits and working conditions"?

What if a group of people came together and got all of the needed facts and were willing to testify and do the leg work?.... Would the FWFSA be able to request hearings and testmony before the House Government Reform Committee?

I know that membership is needed to fund much of the work that the FWFSA and its members are doing, but this work could be done "pro bono publico" by many volunteers with relevant exprience. Many of them I believe are FWFSA members.

It is a shame how our killed and injured firefighters, and their families are treated by OWCP and the agencies following an accident.

Higbee Cut
10/26 R 5 Dispatcher

What happened with the Pre Position of equipment this year like we were told was going to happened? Now that BDF has a going fire that started after midnight if would have been nice to move engines to prone areas that get windy. I don't know if is just me but I think SO ZONE did a pretty crappie job on movement this year or the overhead was holding their own resources.

South Zone FF
10/26 Re: Nora's Quilts for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation


$1100 from me bid on 10/25/2006 in the evening.

If it gets much higher than that, I might just have to buy lots
of raffle tickets and hope for the best.


(Doh.... there goes my gambling money at the R-5 Chief
Officers Conference in Reno, NV.) Thanks Wacko!!.
10/25 The Wildland Firefighter Foundation 52 Club topped 1900 members today.....

As of today, 1917 individual members.... 47 Gold Club Member Organizations.

Hopefully, well on the way to 3000 members and 60 Gold Club Member
Organizations this year,... in the future, 10,000 WFF 52 Club Members.

And lets hope we don't need that money...


10/25 Folks,

We are not out of the woods yet. NOPS had 18 fires today and flew tankers
on all of those, those that were left on contract. The wind event will
continue through Thursday here in the north. SOPS is supposed to get it
starting on Thursday. So it is not over till it is over.

So be safe out there.

R5 Dispatcher

Thanks for the heads-up. The Hot List Forum has been popping today. Ab.

10/25 Lobotomy,

I want to ask your opinion on a growing problem. After a lot of time of lurking here and occasionally posting I've gotten my feel for this forum. Now I'm sure you know of the issue at hand with our South zone forests in region five. That being the ever growing retention problem. Now we could talk for days on how we think we need to re classify our OPM series or get portal to portal, but that issue is well known and has an undetermined future that could go either way. What I want to focus on is what management can do, if anything, at the lower levels to improve the problem. I want to know what we can do at the overhead level from the Squad Boss/AFEO position all the way up to Forest FMO. You seem to have a firm grasp on our Agency and its issues, yet unless I've missed it, I've never seen discussion on what you and those below and above you can and are willing to do to keep our work force from leaving to other fire jobs. I could go in great detail on those issues, but I'm pretty sure you know them very well.

I really hope some good can come from this discussion. I am an employee of the FS and have been for several years, but as of recently I've been real tempted to take that leap away from here unless something changes or shows hint of change soon. I've see people come and go from our agency, but it just seems as of recently more and more real experienced great firefighters our leaving us for better pay and treatment by another agency and it seems the backbone of the agency is at a breaking point.

10/25 FWFSA Growth up 25%;OWCP Issues & The Political Landscape

FWFSA Growth

On behalf of the Board of Directors I'd like to use this opportunity to thank those that have helped the Association realize an unprecedented 25% increase in membership through the first 9 months of this year.

We are truly proud & honored to have the opportunity to get our message out and have so many react by placing their confidence & trust in us. No one member is more important than any other but it should not be left unsaid that the greatest growth has occurred outside of R5. This should be a testament not only to the reach of this site but the work our members have done reaching out to others throughout the season.

To date, the FWFSA has members in: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, New Mexico, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Virginia, & Florida representing all five land-management agencies as well as NIFC, and other agencies.

We are sincerely grateful for the support and look forward to even greater growth.

OWCP Issues

There have been a fair number of postings regarding the ineptness of the federal government's OWCP program. Clearly there are problems that can & should be corrected. Furthermore, it would likely require congressional action to not only identify the problems and debate solutions, but implement any changes to the program.

As with most other issues, Congress would require ample evidence that the problems exist and expect solutions from those that identify the problems to Congress in the first place. In other words, if many of you who have experienced problems with Fed OWCP are willing to provide such evidence to Congress, they would more than likely expect some idea from you as to 1) what the problem is 2) what is its impact 3) what is the solution.

The FWFSA could determine that this issue is something it should pursue. However this would be decided by the membership and it would be prudent to work with other federal organizations such as NFFE to present a united front for a change to the OWCP program.

That being said, it should be understood that the FWFSA's current plate of legislative issues is full, but moving nonetheless. Tackling an issue such as a revamp of OWCP would likely require greater time & revenue than could be supported by the FWFSA with it's current membership.

Yes, perhaps that is a transparent way of saying making such changes requires significant time, energy & money. As I've mentioned before, because of our modest size, the FWFSA works these issues the old-fashioned way...hard work, rather than expending millions of dollars buying congressional support or should I say buying "expected or anticipated" congressional support. Yes, there are days I wish we had a million bucks to influence Congress the way so many other organizations do but in the end, this way is more rewarding. That being said, sadly, it still takes the dues of many individuals across the country to do what we do. For all federal wildland firefighters, increased FWFSA growth would be a good thing...

The Political Landscape

With national elections less than two weeks away, there exists a great anxiety on both sides of the aisle as to the results of the elections and how they will manifest themselves across the country. Regardless of how the cards fall on Tuesday, November 7th, the FWFSA has worked hard to ensure that its issues will continue to receive the ever-increasing support from both sides of the aisle.

Whether we need to work through a "lame-duck" session of congress or go straight to the folks running the show as of Election Day, we will be prepared and have support in place in order to not skip a beat. That certainly shouldn't be inferred as to meaning that things will be easy, or easier depending on the outcome, it simply means we've got the support on both sides to continue the fight for our federal Wildland firefighters.

AB, thanks for allowing the length of this...

Casey Judd
Business Manager
10/25 Cedar Fire victims sue federal government


The lawsuit, filed Friday in San Diego's federal court, asks for $236 million in damages from the federal government.

The lawyers who put it together previously filed suit against the state of California and San Diego County. A Superior Court judge rejected that lawsuit's claims that officials botched the response to the fire and should have done more to prevent it.

One of those lawyers said Tuesday that the suit against the federal government is different.


10/25 Quilt Project:

Thank you everyone! Nora has received a lot of e-mail and we have packages at the post office for the quilts. There will be more than one quilt. Eva Schicke was on her Dad, Capt. Dean Chambers’, Helitack crew at CDF Columbia Air base when she was killed on 9/12/04, then to loose John Greeno, her dad’s counterpart with the USFS Stanislaus 6 months later took a toll on everyone and she knew what her project was going to be focused on at Summerville High School. Thanks Lori G. for the great posting, I think we will end up with a lot of patches and quilts for a good cause! We may even have a “who has the oldest Nomex contest”! We have some classics in our garage.

Thank you

Nora and Marian Chambers
P.O. Box 4142
Sonora, CA 95370
marianchambers @ aol.com

10/25 How do you place a bid for those quilts? If there's a record being kept, I bid $1000.00 for one of them. They sound like they will be worth it. DS
10/25 Inquiring Minds Want To Know: What is the Minnesota Pack Test?

For the answer, go to Handcrews 21 Photo Page, then go to the Fire 32 and Fire 33 Photo Pages for more MN headwaters fire photos. Ab.

10/25 Gizmo,

Great minds think alike. I already sent Nora C. the patches from teams I was on in the 80's and some nomex from much earlier than that. If enough of us old f@rts did that, her efforts could produce some truly outstanding memorabilia for the WFF "museum".

I had no idea what to do with those old nomex and patches now in my almost-retired, geriatric state. I'd bet there is a lot of cool old stuff out there that folks would be willing to part with if we get the word out.


Great coverage and comments on the fire behavior at Sawtooth. There is absolutely no substitute for local expertise both during and after the event. We'll talk more on chat some evening.


As always, great common-sense and how-it-really-is insight into the problem of IAP's being outdated by the time they hit the fireline. Most of us who have been OSC/DIVS for any length of time know that plans are only as good as the paper they are written on. Following the written plan instead of the 10-18 has caused many a near-miss or worse.


If this gets big, maybe we could ask that she give unused materials, patches, etc to the Foundation and someone at her school next year could do another quilt... Lori, would you ask her about left-overs? I just know how big these things can get. Ab.

10/25 I put up two more monuments-memorials on the Memorials page. Thanks for the lat-longs, Aaron. I am sure there are more monument-memorial photos from last year that I haven't addressed. That will be a wintertime project. Please don't send any more of those until I ask for them. Let me add this, though. When you do send in photos of such locations, please send fairly specific directions to their location or lat-longs. This will allow us better to locate them on google earth if we make that part of our winter monument-memorials re-vamp... Thanks, Ab.
10/25 Two more logos have come in, from the Salyer Crew on the Six Rivers and from Animal Evac, a CO organization. A portion of that org are wff and they evac small animals in the fire's path. Ab.
10/25 Ricky Wilson, please resend your photo of your "wildland unit". I was dragging and dropping and it dropped somewhere, I know not where. Ab.
10/25 Ab,

The calendars have arrived and they are great. Unfortunately they arrived too late for me to take them to the Texas Wildfire Academy or the New York Wildfire Academy, where I am now. Chuck Hamilton, academy coordinator, paid to have 50 calendars shipped overnight. In the academy briefing this morning he challenged the students and staff to buy 50 in less than 5 minutes. He did a great sales job, generated a lot of excitement, and sold all 50 in 32 seconds! WOW!

So fellow firefighters, get them while you can because they are going fast. Thanks again for your hard work this season and your support of the Foundation and our company.

Jim Felix
The Supply Cache, Inc.

Link to the fire calendars - purchased through The Supply Cache for $5 - is at the top of theysaid. Remember the full profit goes to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

On another note, if you pledged for Ken's Run back at the beginning of fire season and didn't kick in with the dough then, the Foundation would still love to take your check. Kick in some extra. You can deduct the donation on your '06 income tax. Send it to Wildland Firefighter Foundation, 2049 Airport Way, Boise, Idaho 83705. Ab.

10/24 NmAirBear,

Great idea.

I initially thought that....... If I would have somehow won it under a bidding process, that I would then attempt to sell it on eBay with the proceeds ALSO going to the Foundation. Win/Win/Win it seemed.

I like the idea of donating it to the Foundation though....

The Supply Cache did a raffle in support of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation not long ago. I am not aware of how much money they raised (although I do have an AWESOME rain jacket now because I bought lots of raffle tickets!!).

The Belt Buckle Auction from a few years ago.... darn.... lost the belt buckle by a hair by someone who overbid me. (Really liked the buckle and the cause).

NM, I like your idea.... I hate to put pressure on Nora, but maybe there could be two quilts? (if enough wildland firefighters kick down patches, nomex, and other momentos) to make two quilts?....... one for raffle and one for auction?

I also thought about an "Old Timers" specific quilt if that is possible..... one made with pre-1980 patches.... that so many of us would bid upon and hopefully contribute with our nuggets of old patches? A good specimen could land in a Museum, fetching a large price from museum curators.... just a thought......

... heck, some of us They Saiders could actually be Museum Specimens (my bad..... sorry)...... All in jest and tongue in cheek.


P.S. - Got a shipment notice for my Supply Cache / WFF Calendars today.... They are on the way and will be used as gifts to my friends and family this year.
10/24 True North Gear has a bid for $550 for the first blanket made. RR
10/24 Hey there.

On the Combat Zone Patch (on this page at the bottom) — It was Marc Rudkin’s (out of Wyoming) patch. He was over there for just over a year (?). When he came back in country, I managed to get one of his patches and sent it in. But I think Mark should get credit for it since he earned it over there!

Have a good one. Thank you for all your help promoting the WFF benefit calendar!


The stories that go along with the photos are usually as interesting as the photos themselves. If anyone else wants me to add more description to the photos you sent in, identify the photo and the page (url) and I will add your story.

Kel and the rest of the Supply Cache... thanks for organizing the calendar. Ab.

10/24 Gizmo,

I will not be able to match your bid but I will be sure to buy a whole bunch of raffle tickets. Regardless of how Nora's quilt(s) are awarded, I hope the winning person sees fit to donate them to the Wildland Fire Foundation to be placed with the T-shirt collection in Boise for everyone to enjoy.

10/24 Ab,

Everyone from Orange County's Fire Crew 1 wants to thank you for posting
those pictures of us on your site! Our fire crew program started up last year
so we are excited about us being on the website. Hopefully we will have more
photos to send you in the future.

Thanks again
Crew 1

Yours are some pretty sweet crew photos. Nice backgrounds... Ab.

10/24 I think I'm done updating the Logos 11 and Logos 12 pages, unless someone gets inspired to send theirs in. I am willing to add more. Please, only one per person.

Everyone, go browse who has contributed logos and patches through the years and then consider donating some of yours to the quilting fundraiser. Ab.

10/24 Mellie

Another way to deal with the planning of tactics...
When the fire situation is changing such as expanding faster than mapping,
or a weather front is approaching the area, or for when OPS is unsure of
what the next shift will be facing, one can use the Incident Command
System to help deal with this. Send the shift, div., or task force to staging
until the Div. Sup. has sized up the situation and then let the Div. Sup.
deploy the shift. This is not normal but I have used this strategy under
times of uncertainty. This makes for a better plan of action.


10/24 Re; Sawtooth Fire


Some time ago, I read something about how people who are in near miss accidents (non-fire) frequently (not at their fault) misrepresent the facts due to Human Factors in the early stages of acceptance and recovery.

The thing I read said something about post-trauma psychological responses and a battle between the reasoning mind, the variables of info exchange, the deference of blame, and what really happened to cause the incident (trauma). The paper was related to aircraft and industrial accidents, and post-accident review. It was kinda like the Kubler-Ross "Stages of Grief".... denial to acceptance...and then sharing.

The discussion on the Sawtooth Fire added more questions for me than answers as usual.... must be that "Learning Culture" thing that so many people are talking about now-a-days. Around 12 years ago, I was on a near miss on the Blackwell-Corral Fires in Idaho...It took me nearly four years (1994-1998) to go from denial of the hazards that were involved and acceptance that we damn near lost our lives because of things we didn't understand or we didn't identify (We F-ed up)... and then the sharing.

Do you or any of the other They Saiders know where I can find this article again or links to this research?

I found another paper today called... "Estimating error in wind speed measurements for experimental fires". It comes from Canada and possibly explains why local wind readings on fires do not match the observations of nearby weather stations.


I would bet there are lots of things that could be learned from the Sawtooth Fire near miss, least of which are a better understanding of Human Factors, Fire Dynamics (Fuels, Fire Behavior, Weather, Topography), and Risk Management processes..... a CDF "Green Sheet" report and recommendations doesn't cut it for Lessons Learned in this case or several others.

jimhart, thanks for bringing up the discussion. Some folks need to write a paper on all of the factors involved in these three near misses. So far, I am learning alot. Sorry for the ramble, just a collection of random thoughts from my career.


P.S. - The MCS (thunderstorm complexes I mentioned in an earlier post, not related to Mission Centered Solutions in any way) dissipated nearly 12-18 hours prior to the near miss accidents 200-500 miles away. Read an excellent paper today about how MCS, easterly waves, and inverted troughs over Southern California and Southern Nevada contribute to both Dry (46%) and Wet (44%) Gulf of California surges that significantly change fire behavior throughout the Western U.S., particularly Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada (thanks pyro5755 for not letting me forget NV).... Had to laugh when a friend told me that I wrote about "easterly waves" in July, 2005 on They Said and how my thoughts have progressed.

P.S.S. - HiStump, You are someone I wan't to know. Like Krs, you have some damn good info that I wan't to know and learn more about. Please contact me through Ab. We all can make firefighters safer. Thanks for sharing your story. It has some darn good lessons learned for all of us. Thanks.
10/24 As the Holiday Season approaches, we at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation
are keenly aware of the family whose firefighter did not return home, from
this and past fire seasons. Part of the message we send these families
through the holidays is that they, and the sacrifice that was made by the
firefighter they loved, are not forgotten by this community.

We would like to have people who have funny or fond memories of our fallen
firefighters to mail, fax, or email some of those stories. We want to
include them in family holiday cards. As we get to know them and visit with
those families, they share how wonderful it is to hear something of their
loved ones' firefighter stories. So get a beer and cuddle up to your
keyboard and give a family a cool story and a wonderful memory for the
coming Holidays.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
10/24 I offer $500 as my opening bid to the first quilt completed if someone can make sure this project goes to the Christmas Fund for the spouses and children of the fallen and injured of the past and future operations of the WFF,

The photo at: www.wffoundation.org/ and Jeff Koval's children... made a lasting impression on me that I will never forget.

I am prepared to bid high.. I hope others are also.... Let's make a difference this Christmas!!!! Let's support the WFF and our families the best we can.

Look at the kids in the photo to know where our hearts are.......

If i don't win a quilt, I am still going to give $500 to the WFF Santa's Helpers Fund either way.... the look of joy on those kids faces was priceless and something I want to remember. The family pain they endured during their loss is something I never want my family or friends to endure.

I'd bet, there are Corporate folks who could match my bet ten-fold...... for the first WFF Memorial Quilts?

10/24 (with apologies to William)

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a CalFire.
What's CalFire? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose-colored engine
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So CDF'er would, were he not CDF'er call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. CDF'er, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all thy guaranteed overtime and portal-to-portal and hotel rooms....

vfd cap'n

haw haw Ab.

10/23 Reflections or musings on names and words and how they influence us...

Jim Hart, you said, "names have a tendency to drive perceptions."

There's lots of scientific research that supports that premise.

Consider the difference between SOPs and SOGs (Standard Operating Procedures vs Standard Operating Guidelines). Procedures imply hard and fast rules; guidelines imply guidelines for actions in a certain type of situation. For example, the use of SOPs in the form of the 10 Fire Commands (We don't bend 'em, we don't break 'em.) and SOGs in the form of the18 Watchout Situations have influenced the Judicial Branch of govt which looks to rules and wants to hold someone accountable for any deviation in a burnover or fatality incident.

Here's another consideration...

A friend pointed out today that IAPs tend to drive tactics. Once something - a plan - is written down, it is harder to deviate from it. It has a life of its own in a sense. It feels like it has Plans, Ops, the IC, heck, it feels like the whole team is behind it. I would venture to say that's true.

It has a certain "weight". Fatter the IAP, the less opportunity to deviate, disagree, or turn down? Now this is good when the IAP is well-conceived, when conditions don't change, and when experienced managers have no problem changing tactics as fire conditions, weather, or radio communication, or time of day change. But often a trajectory for action and accomplishment is set by the IAP and people are not as free to deviate when they should. They also might not be "heads up" to a changing situation that suggests changing tactics. Experienced people know the IAP is a guideline and it's OK to say no or to pull back and reconsider. What about inexperienced people?

I'm sure you can think of many times - most of the times - when the IAP has been used as a guideline for action. I just wonder about the times when no one stands up at briefing to say "we shouldn't be going there"... or conditions have changed and "we shouldn't be sending you there" given the time of day and diurnal canyon winds, lack of communication, etc...

Little Venus?


Little Venus Peer Review (pdf file)

10/23 I have an old C.D.F. Dept of Conservation Div. Of Forestry Pine Tree
patch. Where can I send it?


Ab note: Here's the address from before:
Nora Chambers
P.O. Box 4142
Sonora, CA 95370
If you have any questions, you can email her at: marianchambers @ aol.com

10/23 It is not posted yet but when it is here is the link for all of the workshops this winter.



10/23 Hello

I have a student who is looking for a class C Faller class. If you know of one let me know.

Phill Q
10/23 Firehorse,

I don't believe that Nora reads TheySaid, but I know that she would be thrilled to have your "antique"! Thanks for the start to this project. I was able to drop off almost 20 of John's patches from his collection. Let's really get this rolling everyone. If you know if anybody anywhere in the country that has or can get fire patches, get in contact with them also. What a great project this could turn out to be.

10/23 Nora,

Can you use an old original "Orange Fireshirt" in your quilt project?


Priceless! Ab.

10/22 Dear Proud Riverside Firefighter,

You are absolutely right. CDF has to change and adapt to the times, no question. And you should be proud of what you do. I didn’t mean to imply that if you wanted to work municipal you should get out of the CDF (although looking back, it certainly seems one could think I meant that).

For the record I think it’s important to say that I’m not with CDF nor am I currently attached to a fire crew. Just consider me a dedicated friend of the fire service who has a tremendous respect for what you do. I find it a rather useful position to be in (not being connected to an official agency) because I can unleash my wrath (only for educational purposes of course) on uneducated members of the public and politicians who have a tendency to criticize firefighters when they should be thanking them. It seems to be happening more and more these days.

My point concerning the CALFIRE thing was that names have a tendency to drive perceptions. That’s what concerns me. It’s not about being locked into tradition; it’s about making sure the country’s premier fire/resource agency doesn’t lose touch with what will be even more important in the future than what may be perceived today. Namely, the value of quality watershed and the importance of wildlands beyond the urban interface.

If CDF is seen as only a fire agency, as in CALFIRE, there will likely be a slow and steady erosion of the forestry side. It’s already happening. Minimize the natural resource perspective and there will be no one around to ask tough questions like if we should reconsider backfiring several thousand acres in an attempt to save a couple homes or perform a prescribed burn in order to convert shrubland to grazing land. There will come a time when the CDF will be needed to spend as much energy trying to protect what few wildlands are left as they will all the homes along the growing interface. It’s coming close to that now. Check out the Badlands area that State Hwy 60 runs through near Beaumont, or the stretch of land along I-15 near north of Lake Elsinore. Yeah, you’ve still got open space there, but repeated fires have wiped out most of what was quality, native watershed. Mostly weeds now. It’s a window into the future, but it is a future that the CDF can help change IF it improves its ability to focus on resources.

Eliminating the resource reference in the name will imply resources are not an important part of the mission. If anything, CDF should consider bringing in more resource people and boost the research budget of FRAP. The experienced personnel in CDF have too much knowledge and wisdom not to develop a dedicated fire ecology research arm. That may seem a long way from the fire line, but wildland firefighters are on the front lines of resource protection and they need the best knowledge available in order to do the job right. It may even help correct past mistakes.

Pushing the CDF’s connection with natural resources further away with a name that says FIRE, FIRE, and nothing but FIRE, will only speed up the disconnect with our State’s native watersheds that need more protection, not less.

Having said all this, I will admit tradition does play a part in how I feel. Is there a course on CDF history up at Ione? If not, there should be. At the very minimum, every CDF firefighter needs to run by Charley Van Fleet’s old State Forest Service office out front at the San Jacinto Station. Why Sacramento hasn’t spent some money to better preserve this slice of history is a mystery to me. Get a key and sit inside the little building and look at some of the old stuff on the shelves. Picture a time when there were a lot more trees, more chaparral, and fewer houses. We obviously can’t turn back time, but the big wildland picture Charley appreciated is even more important today than it was then. That Division of Forestry Ranger badge Charley wore can still teach us a lot. Keeping Forestry in the name will keep reminding us of that.

Best of luck in your career.

Lobotomy, thanks for emphasizing LCES.


10/22 I have to hop in here on OWCP funds and point something out:

Firefighters who are injured on the job and receive funding usually
do not get enough to live on. The OWCP formula for the award
does not take into account the extra hours, hazard pay and overtime
that firefighters rely on to get them and their families through the year.

Vicki Minor, WFF

10/22 I don't know the OWCP outfall, but a R5 hotshot who didn't
get appropriate medical care on a finger injury/infection in 2002
had a similar progression of infection later and lost a finger. The
photos are barf-producing.


10/22 The WildWeb Dispatch Centers map off the News Page was updated this morning. Changes include correcting the links for Grand Junction and Craig Dispatch links which were accidentally swapped and we've added links to the Central Washington Interagency Communications Center and Casper Interagency Dispatch. Thanks for the heads up and for keeping us up to date. OA
10/22 Abs:

I've been following the OWCP discussions with more than casual interest, lately. I have commiserated with Krs. in the past, but this is my first post to They Said. Maybe it's time to come out of the shadows (lurking) and make what I hope are some relevant comments. As you can see, I've been there and done that...

I received a foot injury on a Region 6 fire in July of 1996. The next day, after walking several miles out of the Wilderness Area and visiting the medical tent at fire camp, I was transported to an E.R. for treatment. The diagnosis was "cellulites" and X-rays of my left ankle were negative, although none were taken of the rest of my foot, which was entirely black and blue and badly swollen. Cultures from blisters revealed a staphylococcus (staph) infection. Treatment with antibiotics alleviated the swelling in a week or so, although my fourth toe remained very sensitive, with a persistent blister. I was able to return to normal, forestry type duty, including field work in late July, if I walked carefully and wore "corn pads" to protect my sensitive toe. I returned to fire duty in August, predominantly as a felling boss on several fires in Oregon. After long hikes on another wilderness area fire, the same toe became badly swollen again and I was demobed in mid September, 1996 (never to fight fire, again!). Cultures again revealed staph infection. Continued treatment with antibiotics and visits to several specialists failed to relieve all symptoms. Still, my doctor noted "healing nicely" on November 8, 1996 and advised that I should be able to hunt elk the next day. Unfortunately, after about a mile walk (without any tripping, falling or obvious trauma to my foot), the toe became very painful and I quit hunting for the rest of the season (score one for the elk). And, as they say, the rest was down hill...

In late November, a specialist finally X-Rayed my 4th toe and found that it was fractured in two places. No one will ever convince me that the fractures were not the result of the initial injury and were the basis for my continued medical symptoms, pain and problems. Unfortunately, staph infection "found" the fractures about the time of the X-Rays and no subsequent treatments were effective in stopping its spread. My fourth toe was amputated on December 3, 1996. I spent Christmas, 1996 in the hospital, undergoing foot debridement and IV antibiotics treatments. My foot was amputated on January 27, 1997 (my son's 16th birthday) and follow-up surgeries on April 1, 1997 and July 9, 1997 continued to shorten my below knee (BK) "stump". The second revision finally stopped the infection, almost a year after the initial injury. I can vividly recall the vibrations from the surgeon's saw in the initial leg amputation, since I was under spinal anesthesia. Still, I feel very luck to have 3 inches of tibia remaining, as well as a functioning knee joint, to assist in my mobility with my prosthetic leg.

OWCP covered my medical expenses during the fire season and into the fall, although they considered the initial injury was "resolved" in July and issued a second claim number after I filed another CA-1 in September (actually, their numbering system was a very confusing combination of numbers and letters, which varied in their correspondence). However, once the bills for surgeries began to mount, they concluded that my second injury had also healed, that I had injured myself elk hunting. Consequently, my claims for compensation were deemed non work related. I must have filed a half dozen appeals or modified claims (additional doctors reports, etc), and attended a personal, oral hearing with DOL. Each written denial inferred that I was lying and trying to cheat. Each claim seemed to be handled by a different OWCP case worker, so continuity was difficult. Submission deadlines were inviolate and short, but replies were sporadic and often long delayed. Finally, in March, 1998 a US Department of Labor official agreed that my case was indeed work related and that I was entitled to compensation. I'd won a battle, but the war had just begun. Try finding all your receipts for pharmacy and medical co-pays, mileage expenses, etc. and submit them, on time, on the correct form to the appropriate official - an impossible task. I estimate that I lost over $10,000 in legitimate, out-of-pocket expenses because of "the system." I was never informed that I must be declared "medically stable" before I could begin to receive the scheduled award for the loss of my limb, so it was not until August, 1999 that my surgeon submitted his statement to that effect. It was only after an October, 2000 letter from Representative Peter DeFazio, on my behalf and request (and then, within 10 days!), that monthly installments (no interest included) from DOL began to arrive. But wait... For only 66% of the scheduled amount since, in October, 2000 I had no dependents (my wife died of breast cancer in 1998 and my son was 19, and not a college student, in 2000). The fact I had 3 dependents when I was injured and for years thereafter, was apparently, irrelevant. I could continue whining and add many more examples, but my attitude will just worsen and They Said has space constraints.

Following are some random recommendations if you are ever injured while working for the Federal Government:
  1. As others have said, don't get hurt fighting fire!
  2. Follow all procedural protocol, to the letter. Get and keep hard copies of any CA-1's CA-7's or any other related forms filed. Photos of your "owee" and the location of the mishap would be helpful. Maintain a log of witness names, addresses, and fire assignments. Don't hesitate to ask them for a statement. It's part of their job. Keep a copy of the shift plan for the day (to jog your memory) and one for the day following if someone can snag one for you (may contain discussion of your mishap).
  3. Expect an adversarial relationship with OWCP (many people really do try to cheat) - they won't disappoint you. Don't be bullied, but be courteous and professional in your conversations or correspondence. Imagine yourself in a small cubicle with no windows and a desk overflowing with unresolved claims. Makes smoke, ash and scenic vistas a little more appealing. I do wonder what criteria are used in performance evaluation of OWCP claims adjustors. Ratio of claims denied to claims accepted? I'd like to be a fly on the wall at one of their staff meetings.
  4. Don't expect to hire just any old lawyer to represent you in dealing with OWCP. In 1996, only 3 lawyers were listed as acceptable to OWCP to represent clients in Region 6 (one in Portland and two in Seattle). I'm not clear what would happen if you chose council that was not "in standing" with OWCP. I suspect the government would not pay any legal fees, even if the case was decided in your favor. I do wonder why legitimate lawyers would accept these assignments. Are they really culls that can't make a living without government assistance in finding clients? Is there an appearance of a conflict of interest?
  5. I am also skeptical of OWCP's medical advisors. In my case he/she made completely off the wall medically demeaning statements and unfounded diagnostic conclusions without ever having seen, much less examined me. Maybe government employment really clouds the objectivity of medical doctors. I recall a recent Governor of Oregon...
  6. As I first discovered during my oral hearing, (and, I suspect most federal employees don't realize), Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) are merely administrators of compensation for injury or death; they do not actually pay any claims. That responsibility rests with the agency that employs you. So, don't be fooled by the agency rep that seems to be communicating with OWCP on your behalf. They are not your friend, but are representing the agency and definitely not you. Despite appearances, misleading proclamations and misrepresentation, the relationship is actually adversarial. It also explains to me why mid- and high-level officials in land management agencies are less than supportive of injured worker's compensation efforts - any payments comes out of their own budgets. At least OWCP's position is understood and clear.
  7. Expect denials and "in your face accusations." Such hard line tactics must work on many workers. From experience, I wonder if a particular issue must be presented at least three times before it is seriously considered. Be diligent - don't ever quit when you know you're right, until all of your appeals are exhausted.
  8. If you can't resolve your situation through normal channels, remember that your congressmen work for you. Explain your problem and ask for their assistance, in writing. Send copies to your employing agency and to OWCP. Excrement really does obey the law of gravity.
  9. OWCP maintains a case file on you once a claim number is assigned. As I discovered far to late, you can request a copy of the complete file for your reference and review. I don't even think it takes a Freedom of Information Request.
  10. The American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment is frequently referenced by OWCP, sometimes inappropriately, I believe (Could be the basis for a class action suit?). I have a hard copy (over 300 pages), but it should be on-line, too. Interesting reading on specific injuries.
  11. Not all health insurance companies available to federal workers are equally adept or interested in helping you achieve a positive claim from OWCP, even if it will save them hundreds of thousands of dollars. One company retains a consultant, on staff, to assist injured workers in their battles with OWCP. As a former federal employee injured on the job, he gave me excellent advice, even before I was represented by his firm.

In closing, I think injured workers need to network to assist each other in our trials, to help other workers injured in the future, and to support those, like Krs. who have been dumped on in the past. If you have suggestions or specific, personal questions for me, Ab can supply my E-Mail address.


Thanks for speaking up. Forewarned is forearmed. Networking is a good idea. Ab.

10/22 jimhart;

Glad that worked out for you, contacting Doug. I worked for him for quite a few years on the LPNF, when he was a District FMO, starting in 1973. I've never known Doug Campbell to be wrong predicting fire behavior, and he's always been able to explain in terms I could understand what happened to us when we were off district, seeing new (to us) fire behavior. I still call him when I run into something new, or unforeseen.

Incidentally, your experience of Sawtooth closely resembles an experience my crew was involved with in Northern Nevada this season. And you're right; its spooky as heck. And you bet I called Doug!

Glad everything came out as safely as possible for you and your crew.

10/22 Arroyo Grande Flight Crew:

Kevin Murray named new Superintendent.
Phil Hernandez named new Helishot Captain.


Photos of the AG Crew in action. Ab.

10/22 Re: Firefighter Safety and the Sawtooth Fire... Re: jimhart's post.

Thunderstorm Outflow Boundary Winds (Short Answer):


With the observed wind speeds, and the column on the Sawtooth Fire lying over on its side without any real upward development (ref - Desert Sun, July 11 photos, personal observations, and folks reporting a sustained 20 mph wind), I believe the common excuse of a "column collapse" is not the case in this near miss. Folks missed basic clues on fire behavior and missed out on doing basic mitigation. Folks didn't have the RPD slides and necessary LCES.

Lack of LCES is the reason this happened.... something happened to "surprise" a great bunch of firefighters (many I know personally)..... They should not have been surprised if they were following the weather, watching the fire behavior, and doing the SIMPLE mitigating measure that Paul Gleason TAUGHT,,... LCES....... If you LCES, IT WILL KEEP YOU SAFE EVEN IF YOU MISS SOMETHING that you may have missed in your RPD slides, or haven't yet been exposed to!!!!.....this is the simple answer. Now you get the long answer......

(Long Answer, a possibility exists that):

On the day in question, sustained winds kept the columns from developing any sufficient height to create the reported wind increase that caused the "near misses" and structural losses. The fuel type (cheat grass, red brome, desert wildflowers, and scattered Joshua Trees, etc...) did not support the development of a large convective column capable of a dramatic adiabatic collapse... They simply didn't.

As Doug said, it appeared to be a wind driven fire, The column may have contributed to widespread ember fallout in the Pioneertown area, and a well observed "area ignition". This was a wind driven fire until it met the eastern slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains and the different fuel types found in the area..

Large thunderstorm COMPLEXES were happening along the Colorado River..... near Blythe, near Needles, and near Yuma, AZ during both the Millard and Sawtooth Fires. While these areas are hundreds of miles away, these "waves" and "outflow boundaries" have been known frequently to influence fires over hundreds of miles away.

A phenomenon known as an "Easterly Wave" or "Southeasterly Wave" sometimes happens in the area when distant thunderstorm COMPLEXES collapse, particularly near Yuma, Blythe, and Needles. Wind speeds have been seen to dramatically increase in these episodes (ref- Verbenia Fire, 2004 and Blaisdell Fire, 2005). On the Verbenia Fire, wind speed increases from light and variable to easterly at 40 mph + were observed by trained weather spotters and people trained in fire behavior.

Some of these "Waves" increase the RH, raise dew point, and create secondary thunderstorm lines. Sometimes, when these waves travel long distances over the desert without contacting other thunderstorm activity, all they produce is changes in wind direction and wind speeds on fires, with little noticeable change in RH or DP.

The very dry adiabatic lapse rate and extremely low RH at ground level surely allowed for some drastic changes in fire behavior if this were the cause. The ember shower from an established column that was almost horizontal must have made some differences.

It would be interesting to see what the Haines Index for the day was. I would doubt it was a 5 or a 6 that day, but with the very low humidifies and hot temperatures, I guess there could have been something else going on to increase fire activity.

Terrain complicates matters. The "wadded" up terrain in the area between a predominant transverse range (San Bernardino's), a predominant peninsular range (San Jacinto's), and then a desert transverse range (Little San Bernardino's and Joshua Tree NP) only complicates an explanation. The long expanses of flat desert to the north, east, and south...... only make things harder to evaluate.

jimhart, I agree. There are lots of factors going on. Thank goodness people kept safe and only minor injuries happened. The stuff that happened is not rare, or unpredictable. It is fire behavior, fire weather, and fire dynamics..., stuff that every firefighter should start studying. The real basic for beginners is LCES.... That is something that should be the basis of foundational learning to progress to future understanding of why things happen on fires.

There are a couple of fire behavior geeks and weather geeks on the San Bernardino NF who could explain more. They also study Human Factors. Even these geeks concentrate on LCES..... but they understand what is going on, and why sometimes wildland firefighters make mistakes.

10/21 Hi Ab,

Thanks for posting this discussion.

Thanks Doug for your insight. Gotta get out your way and enroll in one of your classes.

After some discussion with other guys, it appears as if there really wasn’t a huge column as previously described. I went and checked the RAWS data (after some gentle prodding from one of the most enlightened BC’s I know) for July 11 when all this craziness occurred (the spontaneous ignition of most of Pioneertown after the sudden wind shift and speed increase – from 20 to 60mph).

Need to check some logs but I’m pretty sure the Pioneertown event occurred between 1300 and 1500 July 11. No surprise that the RAWS data didn’t show any sudden wind changes as it was probably an extremely local event, but the Burns Canyon station did record a 5-7 RH range, so the Kestrel measurement was a bit off, but not by much. With such intense wind conditions, a huge column as previously described would not have been possible from what I understand. So this column thing came out of one of our imaginations I guess. I do know there was a huge one on the 15th when the Millard and Sawtooth fires merged. That thing bounced up and down at least three times that I saw. Events just seem to merge during fires.

My enlightened BC buddy suggested the rapid increase in winds on the 11th may have been the result of outflow boundary winds from nearby thunderstorm activity. I’m getting’ way over my head here, but whatever it was it sure created quite a show.

So looks like what we experienced was a spontaneous ember rain on fine, dry fuels that were ready to burn on any provocation. Those 60 mph winds could certainly have caused what appeared to be spontaneous. I’ll be lookin’ at some aerial footage I soon I hope. Maybe that will help me figure all this out.

Which reminds me once again how fire is controlled by a thousand little factors, and while we can predict a lot, it’s the one time we are wrong that will bite us in the posterior. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in meetings when in stone cold confidence some analyst will say such and such is happening or will happen due to this and that or a home was saved because of xyz. I honestly don’t think those guys have ever been on the line. But I guess you can cherry pick anything to prove your point. Those Watch Out Situations have been paid for in blood. “Wind increases and/or changes directions” will always be renamed the July 11th Watch Out for me.

10/21 Re CDF name change:

Well, you are right to some extent. Natural resources are very important and so is watershed. But our environment is forever changing and so has CDF. I do believe that the name change is very important, not only to the firefighters but to the politicians in Sacramento. It gives us a different name so the politicians have an idea of what we actually do. There is only a small percentage that feel the way that you do. That is pure fact, reason being it passed legislation and now has been taken as law where our chief feels appropriate. I guess it is hard for some people to deal with change but if you are a wildland firefighter change should not be a problem because the environment is forever changing along with fire behavior etc. So the point is that we should not be slowed down by people that believe that we should not change for 100 years of tradition for one year of progress. This attitude of not facing reality and it can be dangerous. I have worked my career on both sides "B" and "A" in RRU for 10 years. This is only a fraction of time to most but nevertheless I can say that I have been there for some changes.

If your attitude is so strictly wildland and you are telling folks to leave to a municipal fire dept. if they want this name change and are moving forward with Department, then possibly you may need to reflect on yourself -- because the dept. is changing with the times and if you want to do this strictly watershed and protect resources then you should go work somewhere else.

I am just tired of the old minded people in this department doing things because that's the way they have always done it. I guess my analogy is we used to throw buckets of water on fires and have horse drawn wagon pumpers so should we get rid of all of our fire engines, helicopters and new dozers? The answer is NO because we adapt and overcome and that means that we provide fire protection in all spectra, if that means eight truck companies in Riverside or if it means covering a station in Riverside on a type 3 engine running twenty medical aids in a single day then we do it day after day. We work for one of the largest Fire depts. in the nation we should act like it. I don't know how long you have been employed by CDF but it sounds like you have been here for awhile. You will retire and the younger generation will change it, just like your generation may have done. Its already happening so go with the flow and it will be better for all of us young and old. The writing is on the wall. It is truly sad but ironic and that's LIFE!

A Proud Riverside Firefighter


Following some private messages back and forth regarding what happened out at Pioneertown (west of Yucca Valley) during the Sawtooth fire last July:


Wow! What a story.

From what you just told me I can make some general assumptions.
Fire in light fuel is greatly affected by the wind. At 20 mph I would
classify the fire as wind dominated. If the convection column collapsed
that would meet the definition of a plume dominated fire. The ember
environment lofted up into the convection column blown downwind
as the column collapsed would shower the exposure with embers
that would start many fires. This situation can cause the area to
seem to area ignite all at once. Each little fire radiates its heat to
the adjacent fuel and raises the fuel to high temperatures causing
rapid ignition. This situation does require resources to vacate the
affected area to remain safe.

My course, "Wildland Fire Signature Prediction Methods" teaches
the three (3) forces that cause fire to change behavior in the short
term are, wind, terrain and solar preheating variations. In this case
the wind is dominant and terrain, as well as preheating variations, are
not influencing the fire. When the spotfires cause a large area to
begin to burn all at once the fires radiation can become dominant
until that situation abates.

Then, when the convection column begins to re-establish itself the
dominant force driving the fire shifts and wind, slope and preheat
forces in alignment become the head of the fire, and so on.
Fires can shift gears and that requires a change in tactics. Each
of these situations create a number of fire signatures at the head,
flanks and heel of the fire. These signatures are good predictive
indicators of future fire intensities when the alignment of forces
are the same on exposures. When situations change like this one
did, it is difficult to foresee the resulting fire scene, if it is a new signature.

Anyway, thanks for the morning exercise. I enjoy working on these
kind of wildland fire situations.

Doug Campbell

10/21 re: Lori Greeno's post about patches

Just wanted to let you all know out there that this project is totally legit.

I am from the town of Sonora and actually did the senior project. The school is great about making sure that the majority of these projects get finished and the town of Sonora is a down to earth small town that is supportive of the projects and what they can benefit. I am proud to say that I am from there and proud to be associated with this young lady who is pursuing such a charitable project.

Please support her idea and do whatever you can to ensure that she is able to do as much with this as possible. I know I will.


Nora Chambers is the daughter of Dean Chambers, a Helitack Captain for CDF out of Columbia. For her senior project, she has decided to make a quilt (or two) out of fire patches and old nomex. When she is done with this, the quilts will be auctioned off and all of the proceeds will be given to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. How can you help you ask? If you have any crew patches or old nomex that you would be willing to donate, that would be great! Duplicates are more than welcome as she would then be able to do the 2 quilts. I have gone through John's patches and old nomex and I will be donating those. So I am asking all you firefighters, both federal and state, to send anything that you can to Nora. You will be helping out two causes at once - helping her fulfill her needs for graduation and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Her address is:
Nora Chambers
P.O. Box 4142
Sonora, CA 95370

If you have any questions, you can email her at: marianchambers @ aol.com

I know you guys can make this a reality! Thanks for all your help....

Lori Greeno

When it's done, send in a photo. Ab.

10/20 jimhart;

Strongly recommend, if you haven't already heard from him, that you contact Doug Campbell re: Sawtooth Fire blowup. Doug has a gift ( followed by a LOT of years of experimenting and refining ) for explaining fire behavior in clear, concise terms. He's on the WLF Links page under training.

10/20 And while I am on a roll here, thought I’d jump into this CDF name change baloney.

The CDF’s primary mission is to protect watershed and natural resource values in the state. Period. This new structural protection gig is getting way out of hand.

CDF is the only fire agency in the world that has such a clear focus on resources as well as trying to deal with structural protection issues. That’s what makes CDF so unique as a state fire agency. Yeah, I know the municipal thing is gaining momentum and that protecting structures is pulling more and more money and attention (public and political, within the Department and outside), but frankly if people prefer to work with non-resource fire fighting, they ought to work for a city fire department.

I’ve been hearing about attempts to separate Forestry from Fire for years. It’s all nonsense. The minute that happens, resources will be forgotten, CDF’s primary mission will be left out in the rain, and the state’s watershed will eventually end up like a dog with mange.

CALFIRE? Geez, while we’re at it, how about renaming other state agencies to make sure we properly describe and limit their roles:

California Highway Patrol to CALTICKET
Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to CALDRUG
University of California to CALSTUDENT
California Youth Authority to CALJUVENILE
Cemetery and Funeral Bureau to CALDEAD

Come on, it’s the California Department of FORESTRY and Fire Protection for a reason. Let’s stop looking into the future with blinders on and remember that natural resources are a critical part of any future in this state worth living.

10/20 Miss my GrandDad

Saw your post about the DC-10 and your grand father. He most likely met my father. My father started as an engineer with McDonnel in 1948. Eventually when McDonnel bought Douglas he was assigned to wing design for the DC-10 which was built in St. Louis. My father spent a lot of time in Long Beach the first years of the DC-10 program. He passed away last Oct. so he never got to see the DC-10 used in its fire role. Funny how things like B-25's, B-26's and other more modern tactical bombers have been removed from the air tanker fleet and yet aircraft like the DC-4, 6 and 7 which where never designed for low-level tactical bombing and they continue to do just that.

About 3 years ago the folks at Boeing came up with the idea of using the C-17 as an aerial firefighting platform. Having a fuselage similar to the C-130 they could not set up the aircraft with tanks. Their plan was to utilize pallets of 10 gal plastic containers that would be dropped from the back of the plane. My Dad was very excited about this and could not understand why I was concerned about 10 gal cubies (80 lbs traveling at 120 mph) landing around me. I don't think this got beyond the concept stage.

Part of the McDonell mythology is that when James McDonnell (Mr. Mac) was arranging financing to buy Douglas is brother Sandy, an investment banker, asked how much he needed to buy Douglas. When told the price Sandy said the Chase Manhattan Bank would cost less. Mr. Mac supposedly replied "I didn't know they made airplanes."

One thing that the DC-10 and 747 have against them --vs the DC-4, 6 and 7-- is their size. Conservation of momentum works against them. Laws of physics are tough to work against.

Still Out There as an AD Posted:

"...once where 50+ homeowners were told that their houses wouldn't have burned if the Forest Service had used a Russian-made tanker pile of junk."

My father's brother was a civilian aeronautical engineer for the Air Force. As such he had access to most of the Soviet built air craft that defectors brought over during the 60's and 70's. The soviet philosophy that the state was more important than the individual was readily apparent in their military aircraft. Western planes had significantly more pilot survival features than Soviet aircraft. I would be very suspicious of any soviet era aircraft.

For those who are really into aircraft, this link is to a great site.

Missing My Dad

10/20 After skunkin’ around and trying to dig up enough information, I’d like to pass along this description about what happened out at Pioneertown (west of Yucca Valley) during the Sawtooth fire last July. This is for the, “Although I wasn’t there, but let me give my opinion” file.

Without namin’ names, we had five engines on the western edge of Pioneertown as the fire came over the southern ridge and was movin’ through a little draw below. The BC was concerned about communities and structures further out due to how the fire was movin’. Winds were about 20 mph. Pionneertown didn’t appear to be threatened. Shortly before, one of us had noticed that the column that had been building to the south where the main fire was had collapsed. As the BC walked up a driveway (he figured about 10 seconds worth) the wind suddenly changed from about 20 to 60 mph. (One of us had pulled out a Kestrel about that time and measured an RH of 2. He mumbled something like, “We're in trouble").

When the BC turned around the entire area where Pioneertown was (or had been) had ignited. We’re talking an area of maybe 6-8 blocks. The fire didn’t move fast, it was just there, instantly. Everyone got disorientated. All you could see was red and black everywhere. Most of the engines got out and restaged in a safety zone by the in-town fire station (it isn’t staffed). One stayed put in a safety zone where the fire first hit the town. Another engine got caught, basically melted, and is being junked.

Regarding topography, there is a gentle upgrade from the draw east to a point midtown where the slope drops down again. The fire behavior appeared to change at approximately where the upgrade stopped and the slope moved down. It was at that location I think is where this rapid ignition phenomenon stopped. The fuels were relatively thin, desert scrub, cheatgrass inbetween, but continuous in most of the open fields between the houses. Except for one, all of the houses that burned down were ignited during this sudden event. The other house burned that night because it looked fine when we all left in the afternoon. Must have been embers sleepin’ in the attic.

I would appreciate any perspectives some of you might have on what we all experienced out there. What made the place blow up like that? We’re lucky no one was killed. The San Bernardino County Sheriff did a terrific job on evacs. Unfortunately that little bit of news has been lost in the finger pointing, as usual.

10/20 AB

Thought this might be of interest to the community. Was on NPS Morning Report yesterday 10/19/06 which I just got to today.

Tom Nichols Named Acting Chief

Tom Nichols has been selected as the acting division chief for the Fire and Aviation Management Division under Visitor and Resource Protection in the Washington Office. He will be responsible for managing and supervising three major NPS program areas – wildland fire, structural fire and aviation.

A 29-year veteran of the National Park Service, Tom has worked in myriad jobs, including park technician, environmental specialist, prescribed fire specialist for Western Region, fire management officer for the Pacific West Region, fire management officer for Yosemite National Park, and, most recently, as the NPS deputy planning program leader in Boise.

Tom possesses a bachelor’s degree in chemistry/earth science from UC San Diego and a master of science in biology/ecology from San Diego State University.

He can be reached at 202-513-7133 and will be on detail through January of 2007.
[Submitted by Cam Sholly, Deputy Associate Director, Visitor and Resource Protection]


10/20 I just came across your site and thought you may like to post these photos. My father was chief pilot and engineer on these B-25 Mitchells from 1974-1991. He flew them exclusively in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. They all have since been sold to private collectors in the States and have been put back into Military colors

Greg Rees

Thanks Greg. Viewers, I put them on AirTankers 22 photo page. Would someone invite the AirTankers Pilot Board over to take a look? I also posted a lot of the Super-T demo and the Martin Mars working in British Columbia on AirTankers 21. There may be more... Does anyone have a non-copyright image (not from another website) of the DC-10? Everyone, thanks for your patience on this... (Is it true it's Friday?) Ab.

10/20 I have continued working on photos. Here's one I got to that defies our pre-existing photo categories... a picture of a tattoo that says "Remember the Fallen". Nice design. Here's the note that accompanied it... Ab.

There are two of these out there: two lady friends created the design,
went in together and had them done at the same time. Right On!! I'll
give you a hint, they both work in Region 5.... Noname...

10/20 Abs,

Injured Pride and Random Thoughts:
Thank you so much for what you provide for us! A voice in the desert,
wilderness...anywhere, is so important to all of us. I don't write too
well, but rarely speak up or out verbally (unless I'm raggin' a DIVSupe).
I'm not a whiz with computers either, so how do I use other items,
specifically Hot List Forum? I'm sure I'm missing good stuff.... Maybe
you can guide me thru with some good keystrokes, eh?

As I said earlier I'll try never to speak or write of OWCP subject ever
again and I won't, so that was the only reason to give out my name to the
Firebear...I've been into fire for 28 years, but am in <snip> so I
guess I'm one of those dependable militia folks...I've been in high demand
as a dozerboss over the years, sort of the only one at times who will
answer the bell (Training up here on <snip> is stupid for DOZB)
for Type three's...People around here like to call me a (cringe) fire wh<snip>
... not to pleasant a description, but I have been a fire mercenary at
times... In my youth, I admit being addicted to danger, loving the
adrenaline, hitting the wall and going thru... Now I'm so addicted to the
big bucks that I'll probably be one of those retired, hired guns pretty
soon... I can't wait...

My best fires have always been working with contract fallers and dozer
operators, they are always a hoot ...

I finally got a Northwest Timber Fallers sticker for my hardhat (@ Tripod).
I make several trips to Santa Barbara each year, seeing dozerlines on
ridges that I'm real glad I don't have to be on... For some reason Cal
doesn't ever call me... don't know why, as I've been in every other part of
the world, from Washington's Tyee in '94, New Mexico's Ponil, Arizona's
Rodeo-Chediski, to my District's <snip>... I've averaged seven large fire
assignments every year, so I guess that's where the mercenary nickname
comes from... I suppose then that Cal just doesn't need outside help... I'm
probably wrong. The other noticeable truth is that as a FOBS, in the
Northwest you are a lookout and spin weather (Ops oriented), but in
Southwest you're a GPS mapmaker for Plans only... weird, huh?

It was a strange fire season, the physical injury, then the ego strokes:
one IC said I was the best, and one Branch Director said I wasn't cut out
to be a DOZB, so I guess I'm the worst?... I'm glad I don't let what happens
to me on a fire define me...You just have to laugh at the irony of
rehabbing and training rehabbers on your own District, telling Dispatch you
will accept only a FOBS assignment, getting one, driving 12 hours,
motelling, arriving at the weeny Kettle Falls fire, having Plans Chief &
SITUL laugh at me 'cause they didn't order a FOBS. Egads! They
immediately sent me to Tripod as a DOZB, where I knew I'd actually be an
Excavator boss, 'cause the fire was dead. I was that and more, a Feller
buncher boss and a FELB on the same day! It had snowed 6 inches that
morning, I had no cold weather gear, was extremely burnt out on rehabbing,
so asked to go home, pissing off Branch, hence the "not cut out to be a
DOZB," message...Then the delightful letters from OWCP (oops I mentioned
them again), saying that they won't pay 'cause of a lot of reasons, so the
money... I don't have... may have to go to bills I thought the fire would
pay for... Another Egads!

Maybe I won't do fire when I retire...


I hope you continue to "do fire" when you retire. We're low resources on the services you provide. But don't count on $$. ADs I've been told get paid very little and don't get OT.

On another note, I don't think you're quiet at all. And, you write perfectly well. Stream of consciousness... I think you just needed to find your medium and we're it. Stick around. We Abs will keep you from publicly revealing too much of yourself. I can pass on emails to anyone you'd like. Hot List is easy and we're creating a smoother forum. And oh, you can come to chat when that picks up again. If needed, instructions will be provided behind the scenes for any of the options. Ab.

10/20 Anyone heard a rumor about the current "acting" Director of R-5 fire management
going back to his Deputy Director of R-5 Fire position and a new "acting" Director
will be taking the helm in the next few weeks?

Rumor has it that a current Forest Supervisor with limited to no fire experience is
going to fill the "acting" Director of Fire Management position.


I think the end of the 120 day details for Acting Director and Deputy are "coming up" soon. What's good for the fireline, also has to work for the RO: no doubt the person they get to detail in on the acting director post should be hispanic and/or female. With F5 Forester Tidwell harping on the fact that "line officers must be fire certified if the new system is to have any credibility," I'd be surprised if they detailed in a non-fire experienced acting director. And if they did, you might wonder who would really be "directing"... Ab.

10/20 Firebear, FedWatcher, Abs, & Lobotomy,

Thank you all for your information and sharing. Sometimes when dealt a
wrong, you feel you're all alone, singled-out...

Starting out in North Idaho (the Old St. Joe) in 1975, I've fought fire
quite a long time. My first three fires were all in one night on a
lightning bust on the Malheur in 1978. I was so gung-ho then, and
forever-hooked by fire. As a dozerboss and field observer, I've been hurt
a few times during the battle (mostly small scrapes), usually "the fire"
takes care of you. In Nevada, I fell and knocked myself out, but got up
and completed the dozerline, didn't know I was bleeding or that I'd had a
concussion until the next day. The type 2 team took care of me. I thought
I'd do something different this year and volunteer on three or four type 3
teams as their dozerboss, a position hard to fill. Trainees are also hard
to find. What I found out is on type 3 teams, there's no claims specialist and
no structure that we are used to that exist on larger fires. It's there for 3
shifts maybe, and then gone.

I also am learning that a lot of others have had it far worse with OWCP. For
that I'm sorry and feel for them. As I read FireWatcher's post, I was astonished.
Assistant Secretary Kerr's statement just affirms my stereotypic belief,
that the higher up you are, the less you know. Thank you, Firebear, for the
kind words, especially about having a good attitude (which changes with me
like the wind). I'm afraid I'm fighting bitterness about the whole deal.

The injury wrecked my chances for National assignments, and continues to
haunt me, thru OWCP's inability to do its job...I fear the next letter
from OWCP more than a fierce firefront...

The only way to smile about that day in July is to recall how every
firefighter sacrificed for one person...me, incredible! Some of this is
venting, some sharing for knowledge, and yes, somewhat selfish on my part.

Thank you all... It's drizzling and snowing here in Oregon, sorry SoCal.


Benner, please let this community know if there's any way we can help, for example, anyone we can write or appeal to, anyone we can call to task. Our firefighters who are injured deserve fast and ready treatment. This is a Human Resources issue and seems to me an OSHA issue as well. Perhaps the structure of Type 3 teams needs to be addressed so as to provide a knowledgeable advocate to advise, help and document the actions of those injured in the line of duty. Professionals working in high risk transient jobs should not be treated as second class citizens. Ab.

10/20 Thanks to the U.S. Forest Service Honor Guard for everything you did this year at Emmitsburg.... it was even MORE above and beyond the call of duty than ever before.... even the USFA took notice.

I hate to say this, but I must. The Forest Service Honor Guard is one of the most practiced, and most utilized Honor Guards in the nation.

My goal: I would like to see the Forest Service Honor Guard remain one of the most practiced, and the least utilized in the nation.... similar to what Ray Q. said earlier this year, when he "wanted to put Vicky Minor" of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation out of business... it confused me at first, and then the idea sank in.....

This year, the Forest Service Honor Guard was asked to, and accepted, a leadership role in the national memorial services at Emmitsburg. That was a great Honor bestowed to both OUR Honor Guard and the Forest Service in general. I hope to hear more about what OUR Honor Guard did and see pictures of the event. I heard that over 1,100 photos were taken of the event by the new Honor Guard photographer.

It is hard to believe that less than ten years ago, people were told to cease and desist on the Honor Guard formation. Back then, even some people who were avid supporters recognizing the need (Regional Fire Directors, Forest Supervisors, Forest and District FMOs etc...) were threatened with censure and the loss of their jobs if they continued to pursue something that wasn't the Forest Service norm.

Since 1998, the Forest Service Honor Guard has done all of us proud and supported the families of fallen firefighters and their families.... and the friends and co-workers they left behind. Just a short time ago, the Forest Service Honor Guard finally received official "approval" by the Chief to be an official and sanctioned service authorized by the Forest Service.

I chastised myself last week for concentrating on posts about "Lessons not Learned"... This week,,,, Lessons Learned ... The Honor Guard.

Thank you to the US Forest Service Honor Guard for your service above and beyond the call of duty!!!!! You folks do something I could never do. Lessons Learned.


P.S. - The Class A Uniform that is available in the Lions Apparel Catalog is a direct result of the FS Honor Guard and their persistence. Last year, it was only available for LINE OFFICER purchase and "big wigs" such as the National Fire Director Tom Harbour. Hopefully this year it will be available for everyone to wear at appropriate occasions. Like the nomex fire pants issue, you can purchase with your personal credit card, but don't even think of purchasing a Class A Uniform with your uniform allowance or govt. issued credit card.... the system won't allow it most times..
10/19 re: Hawaii response

I think FEMA should just get out of the response business altogether. If they can't even implement ICS enough to measure their deployment to the needs of the incident, something is really wrong. It sure doesn't give me faith in NIMS or the idea of a national response plan.

Why blow a quarter-million dollars on friggin' jet, when they had personnel on-scene for a full 2 days by that point??? That must be some kind of joke of staging in Oakland, like a bunch of kindergartners waiting for the teacher so they can hold hands to cross the street. </end rant>

vfd cap'n
10/19 FC180

Lead, Follow or get out of the way. The Director or “Chief of the Department”,
as I like to call him, has already appointed a Cal Fire transition team comprised
of some of the best and brightest minds in the department. Don’t be ashamed of
where we are going and always remember the past.

10/19 Good morning all,

I'm still at this desk working on photos. Early and late...

Thanks everyone for the marvelous photos. If you'd like sneak peaks, go to the photo page and click on the last 2 or 3 pages in each category...


10/19 Re DC-10 talking points

My grandfather was the Vice President of the DC-10 production at McDonell Douglas at Long Beach before he retired. Before he died, I asked him about the safety of the DC-4, DC-6, and DC-7 fleets as airtankers that he ALSO worked on...... After WWII where he received lots of real world "kill ya" type flak, he worked his way up from a riveteer to VP and wanted to make sure the planes he made stayed in the air under combat conditions..... hence the DC-4 through 7 models.

He said that these were the most structurally sound planes ever made. He said there has never been an inflight separation of airframe components EVER from a DC, MD, or subsequent merger B product.

He took lots of flack after some DC-10 accidents in the 1970's and 1980's where other components failed.

With the current emphasis on airframe flight life and lack of looking at other failures, empirical evidence would also show that there has never been any inflight break up (like those that grounded other airtankers) of any current Douglas, McDonell Douglas, or Boeing-Douglas Platforms.

So, if like the DC-10 platform, other state agencies are safely using the DC-4, DC-6, and DC-7 platforms for delivery of retardant, why aren't the feds using the DC-10?

Miss my GrandDad

10/19 Thanks for the small photo of Casey with President Bush. Is there any chance to see a larger one to see if it has been doctored? (Just kidding, tongue firmly in cheek). I really appreciate the work you and the other Abs have done for firefighter safety and information exchange!!!

I'd bet it was a shock to the WO managers of the "land management" agencies that within the last two year period a "rag-tag" group of wildland firefighters (FWFSA) and their supporters could:

1) Get HR 408 - Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act of 2005 introduced,

2) Get HR 5967 - Wildland Firefighter Classification Act introduced,

3) Network with, and educate staffs in the House Resources Committee, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the House Government Reform Committee on numerous issues,

4) Make several hundred bi-partisan individual Senate and House Congressional contacts and followups,

5) Make nationally syndicated comments (factual and verifiable, without political or organizational bias) to the press about firefighter preparedness levels, staffing problems, and what the effects of budget reductions would have on firefighter safety and preparedness,

6) Collaborate with NFFE, AFGE, and PEER on opposing further A-76 studies, and

7) That the FWFSA has the power to broker a meeting and photo with President Bush.

The members of the FWFSA make all these great things possible. Without a strong membership base, none of these things would have been achievable. The more members that the FWFSA has, the greater the political and legislative strength it has.

I want to thank all of the FWFSA members and allied supporters.... I also want to thank the FWFSA Board Members and Casey, who have, sometimes at great personal risk, stuck to the facts on educating Congress and the public, even though they were contradicting Agency "Talking Points", webpages, spin, and/or shell-games.

Not so very long ago, the FWFSA worked with Senate and House members to get the overtime pay cap eliminated.... back then, the Agencies also opposed the legislation for some reason..... Even back then, with factual information, common sense, and a deliberate approach for change, the FWFSA prevailed.

"Remember, it's YOUR voice.... It is YOUR future!!"

FWFSA Member since 1996
10/19 Coming Through Fire

An excellent book with unbelieveable photos. Do you want an honest feel for what it is like to be a member of a "Unit Crew" protecting some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet? Pick up this book. The writing and photography are as one. All photos have a short caption but if you've been a member of a unit or shot crew, the captions are there solely for the unknowing.

5 chainsaws.


I put it on the fire books review page. Ab.

10/19 More on OWCP:

Insult to Injury - 09/01/2002

Injured feds tell horror stories - 05/19/1999

Customer service for injured federal workers lagging - 10/04/2000

Injured employees bemoan slow claims process - 09/22/2000

Records of federal employees' injury claims called unreliable -01/03/2003

NorCal Tom
10/19 To those interested in the DC-10 issue/article:

Feel free to contact the AP writer, Mr. Jeremiah Marquez @ 213-626-1200
or try jmarquez@ap.org and voice your concerns...or in other words, educate
the press.

10/18 any crews other than Prineville at crater lake n.p searching for the lost boy?



10/18 www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15286294/from/RS.2/

Interesting comment in here about taking Smokejumpers
to Hawaii post-quake as a "labor pool"...hard duty, I
know, but does this have larger implications for the
fire service in general? We've talked a bit about FEMA
not having a labor pool of their own...with the new
"forward-leaning" FEMA, are we going to see more of
this? Any of the folks who got this duty out there?
Willing to comment?

Nerd on the Fireline

SJs went to NYC about this time of year the year before last to work on some pest in trees in Central Park. Can't remember. Went to Katrina last year. Doing what's needed is not uncommon. Have tools, will travel/ Hawaii is part of R5. Don't even need a passport. Welcome back Nerd. Ab.

10/18 Casey was there with the pres... Ab.

10/18 FedWatcher,

The numbers the head of OWCP touts as "good numbers" (148,000 of 170,000)
means that 13% of claims are not accepted on the first try. Moreover, that's 22,000

Geeeeesh, makes you wonder how many of those rejections are the result of some
"form-processor" at OWCP having a bad day -- human factors at work...


10/18 Yellow Angel,

April 10-15, 2007 in Reno

10/18 Re DC-10

Sad but true about the DC-10: a really busy fire season or a tragedy fire is going to bring out all the folks who want to take advantage of the media attention to sell their product. I had to sit through a public meeting in Florida once where 50+ homeowners were told that their houses wouldn't have burned if the Forest Service had used a Russian-made tanker pile of junk. As public servants, there's not a lot we can do but grit our teeth and hope that when the inevitable Congressional inquiry comes along, the best information will come to the surface.

Still Out There as an AD

10/18 Does anyone have the dates for the 2007 Region 5 IMT meeting ???

Yellow Angel
10/18 HUUFC

Thank you very much for the info. I've got almost five seasons with the USFS in socal with helitack, hot shots, and mostly engines. I completed the USFS apprentice program in feb of this year. I recently had to resign due to some family medical issues. I'm now looking into CDF around the SF bay area. I have no medical certifications anymore and I'm wondering if this will hold me back in seeking employment with CDF. Any info would help.

Thanks again


10/18 Re: "This DC-10 article is really frustrating"

Signed "Tired of non field going people"...et al... You bring up some really good points.

It is frustrating. It is frustrating to the point of calling BS where BS is due and giving congrats to people who are speaking the truth the best they can.

Actually, regarding the use of the DC-10, specific direction was given in the form of Forest Service "Talking Points" to the troops in the field. It directed that all media inquiries and comments be directed to <snip> regarding the DC-10 tanker program and the proposed 747 tanker program.

Those "Talking Points" said that only ONE person could talk to the media and congressional sources. That person was <snip> from Boise. <Snip> is a good person and provides a good face to the agencies and is well trusted by her media contacts and several wildland firefighter friends..... She just has to walk the political walk to keep her job. Don't blame her for following the duties her bosses tell her to do.... blame her bosses for their ignorance. <Snip> is a good person who has dedicated her career towards wildland fire management, mission accomplishment, and firefighter safety.

In order to get the true story told, it will take less censorship and agency bighandedness to get the facts out. It will also take folks who say BS where BS is due,

Sign me,

Tired of seeing friends bullied for political gain that doesn't represent facts in the wildland fire community.
10/18 Re CAL FIRE:

The so called name change that became law as Public Resources Code 701.6 states in full

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, on
and after January 1, 2007, the Department of Forestry and 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.

So to me, since the bill was NOT the Directors idea, The Director could, in theory, NEVER use the term CAL FIRE to refer to CDF. This is without a doubt the weakest department name change I have ever seen in government. The legislative suite it would take to form a REAL state Fire Department is similar in scope to what it would take to create a Federal Fire Department. So many provisions of law and funding sources would have to be rearranged, that it would never happen.

Sorry Jake but as long as our governing body is the STATE BOARD OF FORESTRY, we will always be CDF, and no less-than-100-word piece of legislation will ever change that.

Don't be ashamed of what we are. Be proud that an essentially watershed protection organization has the capability to do more, and do it well, and be happy.

FC 180

10/18 Re: OWCP and Proper Treatment of Firefighter Injuries

July 8, 1998 - From Govexec.com:

Bolding and highlighting is mine.... the problems that were identified in 1998 still continue today.



Employees blast workers' comp office
By Alison Maxwell

Officials at the Labor Department's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) are sacrificing the health and well-being of some federal workers through poor management practices, employees from across the government testified Monday at a House subcommittee hearing.

Several injured federal employees who had dealt with the OWCP said the office fails to deliver benefits promptly, is not people-oriented and acts in an adversarial manner toward injured employees. An OWCP representative denied the employees' claims. The hearing of the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology was held in California.

OWCP's primary function is to administer the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA), which allows federal employees to apply for disability and medical benefits for workplace injuries.

Ankle, neck and head injuries sustained on the job left Sammy Lopez, a supply technician at the Department of Veterans Affairs, unable to work. But because OWCP did not administer FECA properly, he testified, he was forced to liquidate his savings, cash in savings bonds and borrow money from friends and relatives.

"At every step of the process I was met with resistance from my agency and OWCP, which was responsible for safeguarding my FECA rights," Lopez said.

Lopez said the agency would not return his repeated phone calls inquiring how long it would take for his doctors to receive a response to their request for authorization. Also, when Lopez' doctors said he should not work, OWCP sent multiple requests to the physician asking for justification and often overruled the doctor's orders.

Howard Miyashiro, a former letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, testified that he experienced similar problems. Miyashiro sustained shoulder and back injuries as a result of carrying 50 pounds of mail everyday for 12 hours, he said. After filing a workmen's compensation claim with OWCP and visiting a doctor that recommended one week of bed rest, the OWCP scheduled a "fitness-for-duty" examination. The appointed doctor verbally abused him and accused him of lying about his injury, Miyashiro testified. The doctor also suggested that his back pain was congenital, meaning he would not be eligible for compensation, and suggested his termination.

Anthony Burrelli, a retired Long Beach Naval Shipyard marine electrician, testified that he has lost range of motion in his left leg and has excessive pain and joint degeneration in his hips, because of OWCP's negligence. OWCP employees, Burrelli said, purposely deny therapy authorization and evade FECA requirements.

"OWCP operates on its own set of regulations, directives, transmittals and procedures," Burrelli said. "I can only describe it as a laboratory experiment which has grown larger then its creator, answers to nobody and leaves a path of human destruction."

Postal manager Rachael Santos urged the subcommittee to take immediate legislative action to reform the claims process due to the "abuses by several high-level employees in the positions of oversight in the Labor Department."

Santos said that as a supervisor, she was told to deny all on-the-job injury claim forms from employees and to force employees to see a Postal Service doctor before having a chance to see a private doctor.

Michael Kerr, OWCP deputy assistant secretary, said the office "maintains high standards for timely decision-making, prompt payment of wage loss claims and medical bills."

"In general, I believe our record shows we do a very good job, and that we are evolving and improving in measurable ways," Kerr said.

In fiscal 1996, federal employees reported about 170,000 new injuries and about 148,000 of those claims were approved for compensation on the basis of the initial submission, Kerr said.

"For the vast majority of FECA claimants, this means quick payment of medical bills and payment of wage-loss claims," he said.

10/18 What is up with the new term "Exigency Staffing" being used in R-5? We have been using the term "Extended Staffing" for as long as I've been around, and it seemed to work well and was understandable.

Somebody told me that the decision was made from someone at a high level in R-5 or the Washington Office who likes to use big words. I am afraid that firefighters will hear, "All fire prevention, suppression, and detection resources, exigency staffing until 2000 hrs." and all of the firefighters will go home at the regular time because they don't know what "exigency" is.

I wonder what the reasoning behind going to a new term was? So far, it seems to still quack like a duck, hmmm.... the duck that "extended staffing" was. There must be a reason that people are being told that saying "extended staffing" is now taboo and how it is very important to use the new term and make sure it is used instead of "extended staffing" on FTRs?

From Merriam-Websters Online:


One entry found for exigency.
Main Entry: ex·i·gen·cy
Pronunciation: 'ek-s&-j&n(t)-sE, ig-'zi-j&n(t)-
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -cies
1 : that which is required in a particular situation -- usually used in plural <exceptionally quick in responding to the exigencies of modern warfare -- D. B. Ottaway>
2 a : the quality or state of being exigent b : a state of affairs that makes urgent demands <a leader must act in any sudden exigency>
synonym see JUNCTURE


One entry found for exigent.
Main Entry: ex·i·gent
Pronunciation: 'ek-s&-j&nt
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin exigent-, exigens, present participle of exigere to demand -- more at EXACT
1 : requiring immediate aid or action <exigent circumstances>
2 : requiring or calling for much : DEMANDING <an exigent client>
- ex·i·gent·ly adverb

Ab, sign me "ClearText"

10/18 Is it not amazing that the Govt Fire managers don't seem to complain at
the $26,000 / hour of the DC-10, yet they gripe at a CAFS equipt tactical
tender costing just over a grand a day!!???

Region 6 tender
10/17 More on Rain & SOCAL firefighting

In reference to GEEPS statement: In 1992, the ANF received over two inches of rain in early October. Two weeks later under Santa Ana conditions several fires were ignited. Several of the ignitions became large fires including Kinaloa (sp), Laguna, and a few weeks after that came Old Topanga and Green Meadows.

I believe the year of these fires was 1993 to the best of my recollection - not 1992, as I was on a few of the above referenced fires. I do not dispute his/her statement of the moral of the fuels story in SOCAL.

Thanks - if we are going to belabor this topic, just wanted to make sure we kept the information correct.


10/17 A Red Flag Warning has been issued from 8 A.M. Wednesday through 6 P.M. Friday for strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures. A High Wind Warning is also in effect from early morning Wednesday through Wednesday afternoon. Sustained windspeeds of 30-40 with gusts to 60 mph are expected to develop after midnight.

This Red Flag Warning affects the following areas:

Be safe and be watchful for wind reversals under dying Santa Ana wind conditions.

10/17 Jeff,

CDF Helitack personnel are on a 72 hour duty week. Firefighters work 3, 24 hour days
with 4 off, fire captains fire apparatus engineers and forestry pilots work a 2,1/2 -3,1/2 shift
alternate weeks or a 4 day shift each week with the 72 hours divided up over the 4 days.

10/17 This DC-10 article is really frustrating!!

The folks on Capitol Hill want us to spend less money but they are also saying to spend 26,000 dollars an hour for a minimum of 3 hours in order to put out a fire!!! MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!! The spin on this is that we, as firefighters, do not want to put out the fires and that we are saying screw using this airtanker, we want to do it the hard way. Too bad they do not talk to the people who are or are not actually benefiting from using these tools. No, they decide to talk to people who are sitting in the WO and are not actually out in the field.

Sign me,

Tired of non field going people making the decisions without consultation of the grunts

10/17 Ab, re CAL FIRE Jake's List

Looks like, among other things he was trying to cover all the Local departments run by or in Cooperation with CDF under Schedule "A". He missed the "Ramona Municipal Water District Fire Department", it does not have a Fire Board the water district contacts with CDF and is the overseeing agency. Thus there is a Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement, but it is with a Water District not a FPD. I believe there may also be others like it. The other 2 on MVU are run by Fire Boards and are in the list. Differing contracting authority, same result; a local fire department and EMS operation staffed and managed by CDF.

10/17 More on Rain & SOCAL firefighting

Having spent some of my career in SOCAL I can attest to how fast vegetation dries out after a rain event. In 1992, the ANF received over two inches of rain in early October. Two weeks later under Santa Ana conditions several fires were ignited. Several of the ignitions became large fires including Kinaloa (sp), Laguna, and a few weeks after that came Old Topanga and Green Meadows.

The moral here is it doesn’t matter how much rain falls or when, it is the nature of SOCAL vegetation to dry out, especially under Santa Ana winds, and burn without regard to previous rainfall amounts.


10/17 does anyone know if cdf helitack works a 40 hour week, 3 on
4 off, or something else? any info would be awesome.

10/17 NWCC morning briefing:

YIKES!! This is how accidents happen.

Get the word out!

Anyone coming down here ignore that report, it's completely erroneous
for here in the south zone, or maybe they are talking about another
Southern California??

Good catch for Lobotomy

10/17 Interesting article on the DC10

Firefighting jumbo jet barred from use on US forests

AZ Central.com - AZ,USA

... size of Arkansas. The reason for that no-fly zone:
The plane hasn't passed a US Forest Service safety
check. Federal officials say ...


10/17 I will have to second what Lobotomy said, someone needs to check facts.

And more importantly these facts need to be checked BEFORE they are released.

After checking with 3 Forest FMOs and four dispatch centers, the one commonality I heard was "that's a bunch of cr@p!" And several PNW doesn't know what it's talking about.

There is a reason south zone has 6 tankers standing by.

The good news is that phone lines are still working throughout So. Cal, so anyone from the NWCC can call and verify the information...

former NWCC'er
10/17 Hope to see a whole bunch of you at the Fire/Rescue Expo in Las Vegas 7-11 Nov. 7-10 Nov 2 days of wildland classes. Check out firerescueexpo.com. this is a good show and alot of good interaction and the exhibits are usually quite good

See you there, The Old Man of the Dept
10/17 From the Northwest Coordination Center (NW GACC Morning Brief, Oct. 16, 2006):

"The national situation closely mirrors our own here in the PNW. Significant rain activity
in Northern California began to put the finishing touches on the remaining large fire
problem there-The Uncle's Complex. Offshore winds and weather components are
forecast for, Southern California particularly, the remainder of the week. However, unlike
2003, precipitation within the last week in Southern California looked significant enough,
that a very strong Santa Ana pattern would have to be in place for a good long while to
dry the fuels to the levels seen in late October and early November of 2003. At this point
no GACC seems sufficiently in severe enough conditions, except perhaps the Southern
Area, to not assume that the 2006 Fire Season is quickly winding down nationwide."


I don't know if the above info is circulating with the Intel Shops at the GACCs and NICC, but if it is..... it needs to be fact checked.

To set the record straight for the safety of folks who may be traveling to SoCal for a fire assignment over the next few months, the precipitation last week was spotty at best. Generally very light rainfall was recorded, with many areas receiving less than 1/10 of an inch of rain. Some areas recorded no rainfall or trace amounts.

Areas that exceeded 1/2 an inch of rain, received that rainfall as a result of thunderstorms during a short period (generally less than an hour). Because of these short duration "downpours" in very limited areas, rainfall amounts that would appear to be "significant" as stated by the NW GACC, are actually insignificant due to runoff.

This limited rainfall will not have a significant effect on fall fire behavior in Southern California. The primary fuels drivers are 1 and 10 hour timelag fuels, and live herbaceous fuels. Everyone knows it takes very little time for 1 and 10 hour fuels to dry out. Also, the chaparral is getting ready for its dormant period. Rainfall in the fall and winter months do little for raising the fuel moisture content of chaparral until the spring "greenup" period. As such, whenever the weather gets warm, dry, and windy in SoCal, chaparral is capable of supporting a significant wildfire (ref. - Sierra Fire, CA-CNF, Feb. 2006) even after periods of significant rainfall.

A Fire Weather Watch is in effect for Southern California late Tuesday through Friday for strong winds, low humidity, and warm temperatures. My guess is that it will be upgraded to a Red Flag warning by Wednesday.


Southern California Rainfall Totals: www.wrh.noaa.gov/sgx/display_product.php?sid=SGX&pil=RRM

10/17 JK,

Great photos of a fire initially thought to be a "natural" ignition in an area thought to not have any threats to communities or firefighter safety. ......It had delayed IA. It also had delayed extended attack based upon "resource goals".

The fire, and subsequent actions of Fire Managers was logged for lessons learned by some.

As the fire was initially managed in an WFU area, with subsequent WFU tactics and strategies being implemented, I'd bet that that "someone" observed or understood that this wasn't a "natural fire" or a fire that could be used for "Resource Benefit".

The balancing of risk vs. gain.. what a good question on keeping firefighters and communities safer.... A question not yet asked or appropriately answered by peers and researchers?

Rogue Rivers
10/17 CAL FIRE Jake

Thanks for the info.


10/17 Thank you CAL FIRE Jake... formerly known as CDF Jake....
You spoke your mind with the facts.

Take care

10/16 FC180 said,

"CalFire is a political end-around to simulate the creation of a state fire department, which will not happen in our lifetime. And it just seems undignified."

FC180, Sorry son we are California's Full Service Fire Department already. Like it or not!

In a State as large and populated as California, no one emergency response agency can do it all. That is why cooperative efforts via contracts and agreements between state, federal and local agencies are essential in response to emergencies like wildland and structure fires, floods, earthquakes, hazardous material spills, and medical aids.

The CAL FIRE Cooperative Fire Protection Program staff are responsible for coordinating those agreements and contracts for the Department. It is because of these cooperative efforts that you may see fire engines and firefighters from different agencies at the scene of an emergency, working under a unified command relationship.

It is also because of these agreements that CAL FIRE may be the department responsible for providing dispatch, paramedic, fire, and rescue services in numerous cities and towns that are not designated as state responsibility throughout California.

Since the 1940s, local government entities such as cities, counties and districts have contracted with CAL FIRE to provide many forms of emergency services for their communities. CAL FIRE provides full-service fire protection to many of the citizens of California through the administration of 146 cooperative fire protection agreements in 35 of the State's 58 counties, 25 cities, 31 fire districts and 34 other special districts and service areas. As a full-service fire department CAL FIRE responds to wildland fires, structure fires, floods, hazardous material spills, swift water rescues, civil disturbances, earthquakes, and medical emergencies of all kinds. Local governments are able to utilize this diversity and experience through their contracts and agreements with the Department.

The CAL FIRE is responsible for fire protection within State Responsibility Areas (SRA). SRA is found in 56 of California's 58 counties and totals more than 31 million acres.

In most cases SRA is protected directly by CAL FIRE, however, in Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, SRA fire protection is provided by the counties under contract with CAL FIRE. Known as "Contract Counties", they protect 3.4 million acres of SRA.

CAL FIRE provides funding to the six counties for fire protection services including wages of suppression crews, lookouts, maintenance of fire fighting facilities, fire prevention assistants, pre-fire management positions, dispatch, special repairs, and administrative services. The Department's budget also provides for infrastructure improvements, and expanded fire fighting needs when fires grow beyond initial attack.

Contract Counties are responsible for providing initial response to fires on SRA. When a wildland fire escapes this initial attack, CAL FIRE responds with fire fighting resources to assist the county.

Currently, the state funds 68 fire stations, 82 fire engines, 12 bulldozers, 10 fire prevention officers, and portions of the 6 emergency command centers in the six counties.

CAL FIRE continues to provide other services to Contract Counties including urban forestry grants, support during earthquakes, floods, and other disasters, and the services of California State Fire Marshal which was consolidated into CAL FIRE in 1995.

The following Cities have Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements can be for a wide variety of services depending upon a local government entities needs.

Canyon Lake
Desert Hot Springs
Grass Valley
La Quinta
Moreno Valley
Palm Desert
Pismo Beach
San Jacinto
Red Bluff

The following Fire Protection Districts have Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements can be for a wide variety of services depending upon a local government entities needs.

Amador FPD
Aromas Tri County FPD
Bald Mountain FPD
Big Valley FPD
Cachagua FPD
Carmel Highlands FPD
Cloverdale FPD
Crest Forest FPD
Cypress FPD
Deer Springs FPD
East Contra Costa FPD
Fresno County FPD
Jamestown FPD
Janesville FPD
Hamilton City FPD
Higgins FPD
Hopland Sanel Valley FPD
Orange Cove FPD
Pajaro Valley FPD
Penn Valley FPD
Pioneer FPD
South Lake County FPD
South Monterey County FPD
South Santa Clara County FPD
Truckee FPD
Valley Center FPD

The following County Service Areas have Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements with CAL FIRE. Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements can be for a wide variety of services depending upon a local government entities needs

Fresno/Shaver Lake CSA #31
Pajaro Dunes CSA #1
Siskiyou/McCloud CSA #4
Sonoma/Sea Ranch CSA #40

The following Cities have Wildland Fire Protection Agreements with CDF. These agreements augment existing city fire department resources specifically for wildland fire fighting services.

Anaheim City
Chino City
Chino Valley Independent FD
Auburn City
Rocklin City
Trinidad City
Murietta City
Oroville City
Redlands City
Truckee City

I have had the pleasure working on Crash Trucks to Technical Rescue Teams, Truck Companies to ALS Squads. Type III engines to Fire Crews. All over this great State in my short career. Im looking forward to the next adventure in my department. Because I never know where Im going to end up or what I will be doing in the next few years, and I just love that about CAL FIRE. H*ll, maybe I will get to ride in the DC10 someday!


Jake, could you look this over to see if I got the tables formatted correctly. (If I didn't I can change it in the morning. Tables in your post came in a bit of a jumble.) Ab.

10/16 Ab and Everyone,

Been to www.fireleadership.gov lately? check out the 5 year report from the Leadership Committee. See what Cook and Company have been up to.

dont forget to stop and re-visit www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/toolbox.phpl


Good website: good info; nice layout; good "under the hood". Ab.


From April

Hello Ab,

I am a fan of your website, I've been with the Forest Service for over 25 years now. I am currently on Assignment In Louisiana as a DIVS working for Louisiana State Forestry, which has been quite the experience. We are doing IA and roll on at least one fire a day that requires structure protection. I am sending some pretty impressive picks I took on Wednesday (3/8/06). The fire ended up a 1000 acres and at one point about 50 structures were directly in the path of the fire. I did not use a zoom on these picks and "bugged" out safely after taking the last one. The only other person present was the dozer operator and he rode it out in one of the vehicles. He was not hurt and amazingly enough only minor damage to the remaining vehicles. If you think it don't burn in Louisiana.....Think Again!

Rogue/Siskiyou Dave.

Wow, I put 'em on Fire 30. Think next time you might wait a little longer? Ab.

10/16 Ab:

We were the first on-scene hand crew at the Sierra Fire 2/5/06. Here's a picture of our Orange County Crew 1 IA on Sierra Fire taken at about 0545 hours; second one is Initial Attack size-up from lookout point; third is Night Burn-out operation on Sierra Fire IA.

Ryan J, Orco Crew 1

Thanks Ryan for your patience. Nice pics of your crew. I put them on Crews 20.

10/16 Ab here's a pic of the Taos Crew. It's BLM Squad 1 on Clear Red Complex 2005 Idaho.


Another one for Crews 20. Sounds like Tony had a good adventure.

10/16 Hey Ab,

Laid the crew off saturday and life is good again. Here is a photo
of a rookie hotshot on a hot burnout, Brins fire, Sedona, AZ. and one of
the dragon that reared its head on the same night.


HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW on the Rookeyes. Aint it the truth. Crews 20. Don't miss the large version.
Excellent Brins Fire Dragon photo. I put it on Fire 30.
I added several other sage fire photos to the fire page as well. Ab.

10/16 Here's a photo you might be interested in. Bear Fire on Gila NF, NM.
Taken about four hours after IA.


Thanks JK and welcome to theysaid. That puppy picked up and ran. I put it on Fire 30.

10/16 As Div. A on the Columbia Complex (8.23.06) I was waiting for 2 type 6’s to arrive after fire had backed down hill behind a home and barn. They arrived just in time as the fire lapped into the lean-to part of the barn. Excellent work from Snohomish Co. WA. Strike Team. Barn saved, homeowner happy.

Columbia Complex (Div. A) 8.27.06. Crews from Snohomish Co. WA. Strike Team prep a non-defendable structure in a canyon and then use Therma-jell on it. The Therma-jell held well and was recharged with water a couple of days later.


Put several Columbia Complex structure protection photos on the Crews 19 photo page. Ab.

10/16 Aussie Branch:

Second from left with radio, is Hilton Taylor from Australia. He was
night shift Branch 1 Director, morning de-brief at North Touchet
Staging, Columbia Complex, 9/3/2006.


On the Crews 19 photo page. Also a photo there of Aussies who came to help this season. Also put up an engine pic of Chelan Brush 62 on the Engines 15 photo page. Ab.

10/16 CalFire

In the 1950's the CDF was the called the Division of Forestry. It was actually a Division under the Department of Natural Resources. Like the USFS, the CDF was run by Foresters and not paid well.

The name changes over the years reflect the evolution of the CDF from department whose emphasis was on wildland fire and resource management to a full time, full service Fire Department.

The name changes have been Union driven and have resulted in pay and benefits that would never have been possible had the membership remained under the governing umbrella of the Departments of Natural Resources or Conservation.

CALFIRE is the latest attempt to define the mission to the public. It says that CDF provides Fire Protection to 36 of California's 58 counties, responded to 5,600 wildland fires and more than 300,000 emergency calls last year.

For those of you who strive for better pay and working conditions I can only urge you to join the FWFSA or your local Federated Firefighters union. Without the efforts of the CDFEA, the CDF employees would be in the same shape the USFS employees currently find themselves in.


10/16 How can I find out more about Clerical Support Modules? I would like to
provide such a service, but am unsure what equipment is more desirable
than the rest…

Thanks for any help.

10/16 The California Department of Transportation is referred to as CALTRANS, the California Department of the Highway Patrol is referred to as CHP, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is referred to as CDF. In the future CDF can be called CalFire or CALFIRE. By default we are the state fire department in California and the new name is just that, a new name. I do not understand at all as to why it is “undignified”.

A few years ago the words “and Fire Protection” were added to the title and years before that “Division” was changed to “Department”. CDF was under the Department of Conservation now it is in the Resources Agency.

CDF employees used to be represented by CDFEA, California Division of Forestry Employees Association, now they are represented by CDF Firefighters.

I have been in CDF for almost 32 years and while I don’t like change it happens to me all of the time. FC180 will just have to get used to it.

10/16 vfd cap'n

You are something else! Irreverence! Calf Ire! You're going to make 'em
hate it even more than many do already.


PS, some really fine photos!

10/16 re: tongue in cheek on a Monday afternoon


Maybe there are other firefighters out there like me. some of us have never really been good With capitaliZation.

Anyway, I don't think anyone would actually mistake a state fire organization with the anger of a little cow. But, we might from time to time capitalize the wrong letters. My apologies to anybody associated with CalfIre.

vfd cap'n

haw haw. Ab.

10/16 Jumping Fire - Book rating

A great book...As an early 1960's US Forest Service Helitack Smoke Jumper,
this book brought back many good memories of my days (& nights) fighting fires
all over the intermountain western US. Many lessons to learn about forest fires
in this book.


I posted it on the Fire Book Reviews page. Ab.

10/16 Lobotomy and others...

Most of us prefer "CDF" when referring to the State of California Department
of Forestry and Fire Protection. CalFire is a political end-around to
simulate the creation of a state fire department, which will not happen in our
lifetime. And it just seems undignified.


Interesting clarification. I have wondered what CDF firefighters think about calling it CalFire. Anyone willing to share the history of the name changes? Ab.

10/16 Thanks to those sending in and to those who have sent in the awesome photos. I am working through sizing and posting them and still have a huge pile left to do. I'm committed to this computer seat for the next few days.

Many of the flames and columns photos will be great added to the wallpaper collection and will be featured on the wlf.com index page...

As for the 2008 calendar, we're well on our way to having some classic fire photo contenders. (Order your 2007 calendars now -- for your whole crew -- to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Give them to friends and family. Link is above.)


10/16 Ab,

A couple of pics to share, I also got a couple of
videos that are worth watching but are too big to
Email, I can send them snail mail.

IMG 0327, 0399, 0410, 0428 are taken at the Warm Fire,
Kaibab NF, AZ, the day the Type 2 relived the WFU
Team. The helicopter is from Grand Canyon NPS.

IMG 329 and 336 are at the Tripod CMPLX, Eight Mile
Camp, Okanogan NF, WA, the Army was giving out awards
prior to Demobing.

DSC 00275 is from 2005 Blossom CMPLX, Siskiyou NF, OR,
morning ride to work. Not sure what Crew, grey
sweaters, might be Greyback.

And There I Was...

Thanks, some very fine photos. I posted them on Fire 30, Crews 19, and Helicopters 21 photo pages. Ab.

10/16 Also on the Fire 30 photo page, some very fine photos. In large form any of these would make outrageous wallpaper. I'll work on that after I get through the remaining huge stack of photos. Ab.

Compliments of DV: Mutah Flats during the Day Fire

Two photos from EM:
The photo of the crowning run was taken on the Red Mountain Fire Boise NF.
The Silver City Hotshots doing a burnout on the Potato Fire on the Salmon Challis NF.

10/16 Ab,

How ‘bout flamage with a FOBS using a mobile GIS device to map it?
Here's a firefighter on the Poppet Flats Fire 2005. Cool way to accurately
map a fire.

Here's another one... This is what the Field Observer sees.

Fire Geek

Thanks Fire Geek. I added 'em to the Equipment 9 photo page. We know the benefits of real-time digital mapping. Fire intel is key. Ab.

10/16 Ab,

Here's a photo you can add to the dozer or crew section, its up to you.
What we have here is LPF C-1 with FHL Dozers FHL being Fort
Hunter Ligget DoD Fire. This is a prescribed burn from last season.


Thanks TV it's a nice action shot. I added it to the Equipment 9 photo page with the dozers. Ab.

10/16 Two engines from FP on the Engines 15 photo page:
Type - 4 Heavy engine Albuquerque, NM BLM
Type-6 engine, Wyoming, BLM

Thanks, Ab.

10/15 Danfromord,

The 49er fire was in 1988. I don't remember the acreage but it burned over 200 homes (230 I think). My first 3 day IA with no relief.

One of my favorite quotes I first used during a lecture to brand new firefighters: "You were given a head to think with, not just some place to hang your hat."

Another I have used on my crew this season: "Ears are for listening, not just for holding up those cool sunglasses."

Capt. Evil

10/15 Re: Risk Management and Wildland Firefighter Safety

Found this cool nugget for anyone interested. This presentation cuts to the basics of firefighter safety.

Gordon Graham is a nationally recognized speaker on emergency responder safety. He has also spoken about wildland firefighter safety many times at USFS and CalFire sponsored functions.

Non-punitive close call reporting: Learning from the mistakes of others, 2002 ~ Gordon Graham, J.D. at the Fire-Rescue West Conference, San Jose, CA, 2002.

Gordon Graham's presentation at the 2006 R-5 Chief Officers, Captains, and Hotshots Workshop was inspiring and well grounded. It also hit directly on the repetitive failures and why they happen (culture, hiring, blame, lack of lessons learned, etc...). The entire workshop (all presenters) was videotaped.

Does anyone know where a copy of the videotape can be obtained?

Ray Q..... if you are still out there, any advice? Since the Forest Service had the workshop videotaped, how do people interested in making the lessons learned of the workshop known to areas outside of R-5? Is there simply a way to ask someone for a copy of the video or does it have to be FOIA'd?

Thanks to anyone who can help get the video of the 2006 Workshop released. Maybe the new "acting" R-5 Director could find a way for a return of Foundational Doctrine?

I also watched a presenter by the name of Byron Kunisawa make a presentation on the R-5 Forest Service EEO/Civil Rights program in 1998 at the dreaded Forest Service "Employee Event" in Sacramento. Prior to his presentation, it was stated that the video of Byron Kunisawa's presentation would be made available to all work units to improve the EEO/Civil Rights problems that were plaguing R-5..... unfortunately, his presentation was too factual and stated the true reasons that many of our problems continue today. Byron Kunisawa's presentation hits the factual nature of why Region 5 is in such a hiring dilema right now, as it was back in 1998. He is also a well known subject matter specialist with federal experience.

If I want to get a copy of Forest Service produced videotapes, do I have to FOIA them or will they ever be made available just for the asking?..... ie - I hate to keep focusing on "Lessons not Learned", but if we are ever going to become a learning organization, we have to start learning from our mistakes and listening to experts from the outside who don't have our organizational and cultural bias.

JMHO and thoughts....


Thought I was only the one up at this late hour (insomnia).... Somebody also sent me this just a few minutes ago... seems to fit in great.... (video available on the link) www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/10/20061003-14.phpl

"But all in all, it's been a good lesson for us to watch these Forest Service people do their job, and I'm really proud of them. I want to thank you for joining me, and I congratulate you for your good work." See..... even the President is learning lessons... thanks to everyone interested in firefighter safety.
10/14 OriginalAb Note:

I received a personal request today from a close friend of Evelyn Brenner asking if we could make a place to share a photo and a few words to help remember her by. We are honored to do so. If ya never met Evelyn, take my word for it, you would have liked and enjoyed being around her. If you would like to submit your own comment or message regarding Evelyn, we'll be happy to add 'em to the page. OA

Please see the following page: In Memory of Evelyn

10/14 Pulaski,

1st, Glad to see you're still out there.

2nd, About the burning of T/P starting fires, I believe it was the 49er fire near Grass Valley, CA in 1987 that was started by a homeless guy that was burning his T/P. The local cops put him in jail for his own protection. It burned numerous homes and an large amount of acres. He did it during a howling north wind event in Sept.

3rd, Here's my quote...

"If it wasn't for all the idiots out there - most of us would be out looking for a job"


10/14 Just to let people know the California Firefighter Memorial is having
ceremonies in Sacramento today.

10/14 Benner,

Sad to hear that you are getting the run around after your slip down the hill in Oregon. I was impressed by your attitude while we were assisting you off the mountain. It made our jobs easier knowing that you were laughing while still in pain and with a bruised ego. I know that Baker River IHC (with whom I was filling in with on the fire) just finished their last assignment for the year, so the crew is scattering but I think that if you wanted or needed their assistance in any way they would try to help as best they could. At any rate I am sure we can arrange a way to get in touch if you need any help from my end. I wasn't there first but I was right behind in the second group of shots that made it up the hill


Benner, there you have your first offer of assistance. Thanks Firebear. Let me know and I will pass messages. Ab.

10/14 Tom J,

Nice photo. You can almost feel the heat coming off of it!!!!

In the photo, you can see chamise, manzanita, buckwheat, and rabbit brush. You can also see what appears to be either cheat grass or red brome along the roadside. I'd bet, if those invasives were found along the sides of the road, they were also found in the understory.

In fire behavior and/or fire ecology circles, some of us would also consider this to be an example of a crown fire.... just not in a timber fuel type as many of us are used to. Chaparral also has crown fires and surface fires....

Too infrequent fires in some timbered areas result in an un-natural buildup of understory ladder fuels. Inversely, in chaparral areas, too frequent fire often results in exotics building up in the understory, and in some cases, replacing the native vegetation.

I wonder if the buckwheat, rabbit brush, and exotic grasses were a result of too frequent fire? I also wonder (not really, there are historic photos available) if the area was originally populated by chamise, manzanita, and ceanothus when it was in its healthy and natural state?

Anyone who knows the Saugus, knows that fire has not been excluded in this area. Anyone who knows the Saugus, also knows that fires happen on a yearly basis in the I-5 and Old 99 corridor. It is also similar in most of Southern California where there are transportation corridors or population centers increasing the yearly fire return intervals.

Cant wait to read Fire in California's Ecosystems to see what it says about chaparral and coastal sage scrub communities. I hope the book makes a distinction between timber, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub, and doesn't just concentrate on timber like previous most textbooks and fire ecology research has.

Great photo!!

10/14 Thought you might like to see this letter.

Forest Service Council Letter to OIG (small-sized pdf file)

The Council is telling it like it is.


10/14 into the fire

great show I enjoyed it nice job by the arrow head hot shots
and all the structural agencies represented


10/13 Ab;

Got a new spoon, for a long- simmering pot:

Just heard today ( from a very reliable source ); at one point this season,
one of our western air- tanker bases was hosting 6 heavies and 10 SEATs.
The fuel vendor chose that particular time to raise his price on Jet-A to
$4.20/ gal. (comparative price on Avgas was $2 +/gal.).

At the same time, gas- station diesel went from $3.21 to $3.89 overnight in
that town, coincidentally the first night after a major lightning event passed



Gouging? Ab.

10/13 This is my 38th year as a wildland fire fighter. There is something about
this picture of flames on the Day fire that strikes me. For some reason it
impresses me more than any crown fire I have ever seen. When I first
saw it last summer it got my immediate attention. it can be seen on
inciweb at

Fire near Old Hwy 99 by CDFer Bill Peters

Tom J

It is awesome. Ab.

10/13 watched into the fire this evening. it was well done,
made you laugh and made you weep.
it was a great documentary.


10/13 Ab, Here is a photo I took of Mutah Flats on the Day Fire


Very nice flames! Like an Impressionist painting... Getting psyched to post photos... Ab.

10/13 Don’t forget to tune into the History Channel tonight to watch “Into the Fire”.
There are scenes in this documentary that will make you split a gut laughing,
stand up and cheer as well as reach for a tissue.

Fire Geek
10/13 Ummmm- um now here's a mighty impressive column. Warm Fire with helicopter in the foreground...

Here's the message: Ab, this was taken at the Warm Fire, Kaibab NF, AZ, the day
the Type 2 relived the WFU Team. The helicopter is from Grand Canyon NPS.
And There I Was...

I'm getting motivated to work on photos this weekend. And sure enjoying the photos coming in. Thanks for being there with your camera... Ab.

10/13 Injuries Vs. OWCP

Abs, Lobotomy & Casey,

Thank you all for your interest and your info regarding on the fire job
claims with OWCP. Hopefully, as the fireline dust settles my claim will
not be "adjudicated", their word, not mine. I don't really know who to
turn to as my supervisor and I were both accused of lying, without
witnesses or insufficient proof that I was hurt while working. It is a
mess. Basically, the whole fire shut down to rescue me, but OWCP wants
proof and our CA-1, etc. wasn't enough. Again, thank you all. I hope I
don't have to get a lawyer, as all the folks on the Elk Lake fire are long


Benner, just give us a high sign and we'll put out the word. I'm sure we can round up a passel of firefighters from the Elk Lake fire through this site... and behind the scenes. Ab.

10/13 Shortly after requesting new flamage photos for a wildlandfire.com calendar yesterday, we received an email from Jim Felix of The Supply Cache, as posted in the message below. After considering our commitment to supporting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and where our time and resources might be better applied, we have decided to forgo our calendar plans this year and instead join forces with The Supply Cache to promote their 2007 Wildland Firefighter Calendar. We commend Jim and the other vendors involved and applaud their continuing efforts to support the WFF. If you lose track of this or the following message, links to The Supply Cache can always be found at the top of this page and on our Classifieds Page.

Of course, we still want your photos to add to our Photo Pages! We promise to work on getting the photos we've received published asap! Ab & Original Ab.

10/13 Ab,

The Supply Cache is excited to announce the publishing of our first calendar, a 2007 edition. The most exciting part is 100% of sales go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. We partnered with 12 of our vendors to publish this calendar. Their contributions actually paid for the production. In addition, each month there is a discount or special promotion from these vendors that are only printed in the calendars. All the pictures featured were taken by firefighters.

Another exciting part is we are selling the calendars for only $5 each! We are printing 3000 calendars so if we sell out, $15,000 will go to the foundation. And just like those coupon books your kids sell for school, there is far more than $5 of savings. But these discounts are on wildfire gear.

The calendars will be available by the end of Oct. But you can pre - order them now. Just call us at 1-800-839-0821 or go to www.firecache.com. The stock number is 45.4096. They are only $5 each with $2 for mailing one, and .75 cents mailing for each additional calendar. Orders containing calendars and additional products will be charged our standard shipping fees. Large orders (we already sold 50 to one customer!) will be charged regular UPS rates.

We would like to thank the following vendors for contributing to the production and the promotions:

Barrier Wear, Bullard, Council Tools, Coyote Camp Fireline Chow, Mercedes Textiles Limited, Nicks Boots, Nielsen Kellerman, (makers of Kestrel weather meters), The Pack Shack, Thielsen, Topps, True North, (makers of Drink! and Dragon Fur) and also Wolfpack Gear

A special thanks to Vision Graphics of Loveland CO., our catalog and calendar printers, for their contributions.

Last but not least, tremendous thanks go out to all our customers over the years that have helped make our business a tremendous success. We are proud to serve wildland firefighters and be a part of such a wonderful community. We are glad that through the foundation we are able to give back to those who have given so much to protect and serve the public and have also contributed so much to our achievements.

We hope that this endeavor will also be a success and we plan to do this every year to assist the foundation.

Jim and Diane Felix
and the whole staff of:
The Supply Cache, Inc.
10/13 Re: My favorite Quotes to LIVE By

"If you want to know what your future holds, you can define it; but to get there, you'll have to engage in the present." ~ Ray Quintanar, Retired Chief of Fire and Aviation Management, Pacific Southwest Region.

"Never fight fire from ego" ~ Charlie Caldwell, Redding HS Retired

"Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, can never bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation." ~ Susan B. Anthony

"Error-prone people do, of course, exist, but they seldom remain at the hazardous sharp end for very long. Quite often, they get promoted to management". ~ Dr. James Reason

"When you lose your head, the next thing is your ass." ~ Don Studebaker

"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it." ~ Unknown Author.

"In youth we learn, in old age we understand." ~ Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

"The fire didn't have organizational problems." (from his account of Mann Gulch in Young Men and Fire) ~ Norman Maclean

"No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair." ~ General George Patton

"Hey stupid, don't get so excited... this fire's not an emergency... it's our job!" ~ My Old Hotshot Supt.

"If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." ~ General George Patton (again)..

"Predictable is Preventable" ~ Gordon Graham, J.D.

The capstone quote..... "Become a Student of Fire" ~ Paul Gleason

10/12 You want flames, ehhhh?

How ‘bout flamage with a FOBS using a mobile GIS device
to map it? Here’s one from the Poppet Flats Fire, 2005. Cool
way to accurately map a fire.


Fire Geek

Haw Haw. Good one, Fire Geek, but not calendar material. Ab.

10/12 Any chance of you updating the photo pages? Great stuff, but there has to be a ton of stuff that has come into you this year. Thanks.


Hi CDFer,

Do you have any good pics of big flames? I would like to post some actual fire-- day fire, bar complex, any of the ones we've had this summer, MT, ID, AZ, OR, WA, NV etc etc. I would like some really good FIRE photos for our wildlandfire.com calendar. Some really good flame ones with interagency rigs in the foreground or background. (I need incentive to sit down and work on photos for 2-3 days solid to get caught up. Weekends roll around and it's hard to sit in front of a computer yet another day... Nah, I'm not whining.)

Most photos I have gotten are of crews, equipment, rigs, DC10 and other air resources. I am happy for the photos, don't get me wrong, but OA and I have been really busy with Hotlist, theysaid, passing messages behind the scenes, answering photo requests from commercial (non-fire) people who don't want to contribute to the WFF in exchange for using them, etc.. I need FIRE!

If you have any fire photos, interagency fire FLAMES photos (with red, green, yellow, white, purple engines, rigs in them) or know folks that do, please get them to send them in and I'll promise to work on getting them up soon and a theysaid community calendar out. OA says it won't take long...

PLEASE, ask your CDF friends (ODF, WA state, ID, NV state, and anyone else with fire photos) to contribute! No vertical photos please. Horizontal ones in high resolution, large size. People who contribute winning photos, WELL, we can promise instant  FLAME  FAME !!



10/12 In regards to FERS disability: This is a helpful link. Also, to the best of my
knowledge, you do not have to be injured at work.



10/12 Hmmm...Wildfires caused by folks burning toilet paper? ...why don’t
they stomp on it after its burned to make sure it is out? ;}

Sorry, couldn’t help myself

10/12 Mike,

That's one of the problems, we have no personnel office, they all moved
to Albuquerque, and no one I ask knows how FERS Disability Retirement
works. They sent me a pamphlet that is confusing and contradicts itself
in numerous places.

Are there ANY personnel types reading They Said that would know about
FERS Disability retirement? I have many, many years in, but have not
reached Minimum retirement age yet, not even for Fire retirement.


10/12 I'd just like to say in answer to your post vis a vis "taking care of your own"
that when you take care of those guys like you said you did, that you were
taking care of "our own". Get the picture Christina.


10/12 MJ,

Check with your Personnel Department. I went out on disability
several years ago due to a non work related medical disorder.
I had "Arduous" in my position description, was unable to perform
at that level, thus the disability retirement. I was Civil Service.

10/12 Hello all...

I've been lurking a while, haven't posted in a while.
It seems that the season is tapering down, and I've
got a question I'd like to float to the collective:

This spring, there was some discussion about fatigue
based on the fact that the 2005 season didn't seem to
stop. This year, record money was spent on fire
suppression, and record or near-record acres were
burned. Based on these two factors, how do you think
the wildland fire community did safety wise? Did we
see more injuries/near misses, as would be expected
for such an intense two-year period? Did we see fewer?
If we saw fewer, was that because we dodged a bullet,
or are the changes made in policy having a positive
effect? We all see the information about fatalities
and burnovers, but what about near misses and minor
injuries? My summer season, what there was of it, was
spent with a very small, very isolated rural VFD, so
I've been out of the loop.

Nerd on the Fireline

10/12 Pyro5755 and Todd,

I don't know much about the John Fire on the LPF, but I do understand that burning toilet paper is a known and often taught practice in some environmental circles that results in wildfires by those who do not understand the risks vs. gains of their actions.

The Narrows Fire on the ANF (mid to late 1990's) was also attributed to the improper burning of toilet paper (a quickly biodegradable item that goes away with a little moisture and a little time, if left in the soil).

On 9/11, I quoted,

"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." ~ News Report.

Based upon my personal RPD slides, it would appear that the Day Fire was also caused by this same type of careless act without proper recognition of the hazards. It may have been something else?.... More info and facts are needed before a final determination is judged.

Gotta worry about what people (firefighters and the public) are being taught sometimes.... and how it all comes together for a potential failure, or an error trap.... gotta love how the Swiss Cheese Model works....

Potential lessons not learned.... Educating the public is also as important as educating the firefighters when it comes to firefighter safety.


10/11 From several sources...

The IS-800 course identified in this letter provides a challenging introduction to the National Response Plan and the workbook is a good resource to keep in your tool kit of reference material -- just in case...


File Code: 5100-3 Date: October 6, 2006
Route To:
Subject: All Hazards Training Requirements
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Staff

The President issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive No. 5 (HSPD-5) in 2003. One of the primary intentions of HSPD-5 is “to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies, the United States Government shall establish a single, comprehensive approach to domestic incident management.” In response to HSPD-5, the Department of Homeland Security initiated the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the NIMS Integration Center (NIC) to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from All-Hazards incidents.

The obligation to remain a willing partner on All-Hazards response was reinforced in the letter signed by the Chief on May 31, 2006. To fulfill the training requirements of the NIC, all individuals (including AD hires) qualified for incident response or support must complete additional training. All first responders (anyone with an Incident Qualification Card) must complete “National Incident Management System (NIMS), An Introduction” (IS-700). All middle/upper level managers which includes Strike Team/Task Force Leaders and above, Unit Leaders and above, Command and General Staff members, MAC Group Staff, and Dispatch/Coordination Center Managers must complete “National Response Plan (NRP), An Introduction” (IS-800). Each course can take up to four hours.

The IS-700 and IS-800 courses are at the following providers:
• AgLearn – On-line (Password protected site and may require you to submit a Social Security Number) at http://www.aglearn.usda.gov/
• AgLearn – Download course materials for local presentation (Password protected site) at http://www.aglearn.usda.gov/
• Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – Emergency Management Institute (EMI) – On-line or downloadable at http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/IS/is700.asp and/or http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/IS/is800.asp
• Forest Service – Materials for an updated and approved IS-700 will be provided to local course coordinators by their Regional Training Officer.

The NIC has also established Incident Command System course requirements (I-100, I-200, etc.), but the NIC standards are equivalent to or lower than the “I” courses criteria outlined in FSH 5109.17, therefore no additional “I” courses should be necessary.

Certificates of completion may be issued automatically on-line or by mail for a downloaded “hard-copy” course. A copy of the certificate should be provided to the appropriate certifying official and/or Incident Qualification System (IQCS) administrator.

Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs 2
and WO Staff

All affected employees shall complete the applicable training requirement(s) by June 1, 2007.

Contact Jim Barnett, Branch Chief, Fire Training at 208-387-5350 or Steve Gage, Emergency Management Specialist at 202-205-1558.

/s/ James E. Hubbard
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

cc: Robert H Cunningham
Ted Moore
Jerome P Macdonald
Mike Dudley
Russell Witwer
Michael J Spencer
William G Reynolds
John Grosman

10/11 hello all

I just wanted to get on here and thank all of those who provided me with contact information and advice regarding going from Law Enforcement Officer to Fire or the other way around. I have made a decision and will be leaving the fire org to pursue a career in LE. This is due to the fact that all of my criteria in selecting a job have been met. They are as follow: Is the Place right? Is the time right? and is the job right?

Hopefully some find the criteria helpful for selecting any job that they choose to take or decline. I took this job because I am interested in the job and it is in the correct place and the timing of the offer was impeccable.

So once again, thanks to those who gave me advice and information. I will be doing another job but will be FULLY supportive of my friends, brothers, and sisters who remain in the fire organization.



10/11 For folks who didn't see the message a week ago:

Free admission for Firefighters and a guest to Knott's Berry Farm in So Cal


10/11 Does anyone know if in the FERS fed retirement system, if someone
goes out on disability retirement, does it have to be a work-related
injury? Or can it be any injury that prevents further work in their regular
job? I am getting mixed answers from different places. Hopefully
someone here can show me where to get real answers.


10/11 Marc Castellnou, incendi@yahoo.com, who is the head of Catalonian
Forestry Service in Spain would like pictures of the Day fire or a
PowerPoint to use in training his fire folks. Marc heads a fire department
of 5,800 firefighters and 225 stations in the Catalonian State of Spain.
You can read about him in the 2006 issue #62 of Fire & Rescue publication
in an article titled "Beating Wildfires, using the Campbell Prediction System."
Marc and some firefighters have spent time in the USA and over the years
have invited some of us over there to exchange ideas and procedures.
He has started up the prescribed burning program in his region of Spain.
You can contact him directly or myself and I will forward the pictures or
slide show to him.
Send your comments to: (incendi@yahoo.com) for Marc
or (doug@dougsfire.com) to me.

Have a safe fire season.
Best regards to all firefighters
Doug Campbell
10/11 Firescribe,

Thanks for the heads up from the book written by Sugihara, van Wagtendonk, Shaffer, Fites-Kaufman, and Thode. It is called Fire in California's Ecosystems.

The book is not yet available to order... but some people such as Dr. J. Morgan Varner have reviewed its pre-release. Maybe his OPM Series 401 students will also review it as 'part of their training" experience before it is released???

Dr. Varner said,

"Fire in California's Ecosystems provides a rigorous synthesis and review of the role of fire in California's tremendously variable natural environments. The authors have made a substantial contribution to the fields of fire ecology, natural history, and land stewardship. With this volume, California again shines as a model for other states and regions." --Dr. J. Morgan Varner, Humboldt State University

The book sounds like a good read even though it has a $75 per issue price tag... but is it? It also sounds like a good read when folks like Monica Bond of the Center For Biological Diversity, Ron Quinn, professor of Chaparral Ecology, and other various "experts" comment without specific relative experience as a wildland firefighter... or does it? (In contrast we do have people such as Jim Hart and Rick Halsey who have worked to obtain firefighter training and experience and their "up close and personal" experiences of fire on the ground enrich their work.)

I personally think this book is just a BS re-hash of known and un-proven science that gets folks to buy books and "new" research to better the authors. Maybe Dr. Varner will support his students on the info they have gained?

While some of these folks are my peers and my mentors, I want to know where BS is due... and I see some pretty glaring things that say BS to me in this book. JMHO.... even though I love some of the authors previous work and the work they do that they're most qualified to do...... I will say BS where BS is due.... JMHO.... I am JUST a firefighter and know what my experience and education tell me to do, and say.

Two way communication and learning?


10/10 Greetings folks –

yup, I’m still here, just in lurk mode. Thought I would take a few minutes to chime in on a few things.

Christina, RN/Paramedic: Whew! Thanks for clearing that up. I tried to find the original post to see the original rumor, but was unsuccessful.

Did anybody ever chime in on the Red Mountain (in Idaho) flap about the crew being “punished” for refusing an assignment? That’s another one I’d like to hear the rest of the story on.

Re the Wildfire game. I downloaded the demo and was fairly surprised at the overall detail, quite a bit more than I expected. It is pretty fun, it even has been given the official okie-dokie by the Smokey CFFP folks. Although I don’t expect a lot of interest outside of firedogs, it does give some good general fire prevention and safety tips as each scenario is loading. Overall, it is pretty fun and I can see it as a decent training tool if for nothing else to look at various scenarios.

More Kudos: The Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact Prevention committee received a Silver Smokey for the work they did during Smokey’s 60th birthday celebration. They did a ton of great things and even shipped stuff out to other parts of the country.... kinda made me wonder how come the material they developed wasn’t being done by the federal smokey/prevention folks.

OWCP - *@&#^! I had my days dealing with them too...I guess some things never change

Mellie: you rock! ..I gotta give you a jingle some day.

AB: Ditto the above statement!

Well, I guess that’s about it folks – yall be safe out there


Mellie's posted today... I added that award to the Awards page. Thanks for the info. Ab.

10/10 Re: Over 1800 people members of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation 52 Club.

I had a chuckle two years ago when someone sent me a personal letter saying her goals for the 52 Club was 10,000 members. As of today, while significant, 1800 members isn't meeting the need.

That e-mail seemed like a challenge. Even though it was a challenge, I considered it to be coming from a friend. Good friends like challenges.

So far this year (10/8/2006 @ 1900), there are 42 Gold Members of the 52 Club. As part of the challenge I received two years ago was....

"Challenge your buddies, friends, family, and communities to join in. You'll get a patch, a pin, and a helmet sticker to declare your support for wildland firefighters and your spot in the club."

So far this year, it looks like many of the HS and Contract Resources are up to the challenge and spreading the word to their "buddies, friends, families, and communities". Also looks like there is a great list of individual contributors who have also given to the cause of injured and fallen firefighters.

I issue the following challenge..... lets get up to 3000 Members and 70 Gold Members within the 52 Club before the end of the year. I propose that each federal, state, local government, and contract resource or agency that is interested in firefighter safety and changes.... get a "buddy" to join..... get your whole group to join if you can!!!!.....

Here are the current 52 Club Gold Members:

1 WildlandFire.com
2 True North
3 Wildland Firefighter Foundation
4 Springville Hot Shots
5 Monument Helitack
6 The Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area
7 The Supply Cache, Inc.
8 Eldorado NF Engine 54
9 Del Rosa Hot Shots
10 Bald Mountain Helitack
11 Vista Grande Hot Shots
12 Klamath Hot Shots
13 Dalton Hot Shots
14 Texas Canyon Hot Shots
15 Gila Hot Shots
16 Mormon Lake Hot Shots
17 El Cariso Hot Shots
18 Laguna Hot Shots
19 Pleasant Valley Hot Shots
20 LaGrande Hot Shots
21 PNW Team #3/Anderson
22 Kern Valley Hot Shots
23 Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team 3
24 Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team 1
25 CNF Engine 41
26 Los Padres Hot Shots
27 Big Hill Helitack
28 Mt. Taylor Hot Shots
29 Palomar Hot Shots
30 Lassen Hot Shots
31 Stanislaus Hot Shots
32 Ferguson Management Company, Albany OR
33 E-404 Wasatch-Cache National Forest
34 Vandenberg Hot Shots
35 Plumas Hot Shots
36 USFS Region 9, Aviation and Fire Management
37 McCall Smokejumpers
38 Alpine Hot Shots
39 Boise Hot Shots
40 E-414 Moab, UT
41 Ukonom Handcrew, CA
42 Midewin Hot Shots

Thanks to those who are helping protect our families. Ab.

10/10 Benner,

Both Federal and State Law (California) do not allow work related injuries to be treated with private insurance. If this were the case, workers in high risk occupations would not be able to be insured due to astronomical premiums. Many times, employees have used private insurance only to have an insurance claims investigator discover it was work related and deny the private insurance claim.

The Federal Employees' Compensation Act requires that the US Govt. will provide the most appropriate level of medical care to injured employees. There are several problems that exist:

1) The OWCP has lost its former "Putting Customers First" philosophy,
2) The "Secretary of Labor" determines the best treatment of injuries through an executive branch bureaucacy that rivals the Forest Service. Within this bureaucracy, there are very few physicians with experience in recognizing or approving the treatment of various wildland firefighter injuries, and even fewer claims specialists who also have skills in widland fire injuries,
3) The re-organization to Albuquerque, NM of so many critical functions within the Forest Service, created problems with paying simple Agency Provided Medical Care (APMC) for injured employees,
4) The added burden placed upon Customer Service Representatives (CSR's) to manage the OWCP and APMC programs at the local level, and a general lack of understanding of the program and processes, has caused thousands of federal wildland firefighters to have bill collectors phoning them for payments that the Federal Government should have paid,
5) The appropriate level of care that the Federal Government provides to injured employees is usually based upon quick assessment. That quick assessment (atleast in the wildland fire program) should be coming from Medical First Responders, EMT's, or paramedics.

I know of an employee (pdf file) who was injured while on duty that has over $15,000 worth of medical treatment that collection agencies are trying to collect. OWCP denied the claim initially because they said it was "fraudulent". Then after they determined it was the real deal, they said they could not pay for the treatments because the proper paperwork was not completed by the Forest Service in a timely manner. Their suggestion to the firefighter was, "Get yourself a lawyer!". Another firefighter who was also injured has similar bills.

The treatment that our injured and/or burned firefighters receive by the USDA Forest Service and the US Dept. of Labor, Office of Worker Compensation Programs is substandard and needs to be corrected. Simple things such as a "Firefighter Injury Treatment Policy" with a "Burn Injury Supplement" would be a proper step in the right direction in letting the troops know that the field level folks that are "taking the punches" are being listened to. This problem, along with other factors in federal employee working conditions needs to be addressed for safety, and the secondary effect on firefighter recruitment and retention.


By the way, we lost a long time employee (Forest Service BC/ADFMO) to the State of California the other day. He went to a CalFire Fire Captain B position. Congratulations to him and best wishes in his continued career in the wildland fire services. The Forest Service loss is the CalFire gain.

§8103 Medical services and initial medical and other benefits

§8103 Medical services and initial medical and other benefits

(a) The United States shall furnish to an employee who is injured while in the performance of duty, the services, appliances, and supplies prescribed or recommended by a qualified physician, which the Secretary of Labor considers likely to cure, give relief, reduce the degree or the period of disability, or aid in lessening the amount of the monthly compensation. These services, appliances, and supplies shall be furnished--

(1) whether or not disability has arisen;

(2) notwithstanding that the employee has accepted or is entitled to receive benefits under subchapter III of chapter 83 of this title or another retirement system for employees of the Government; and

(3) by or on the order of United States medical officers and hospitals, or, at the employee's option, by or on the order of physicians and hospitals designated or approved by the Secretary.
The employee may initially select a physician to provide medical services, appliances, and supplies, in accordance with such regulations and instructions as the Secretary considers necessary, and may be furnished necessary and reasonable transportation and expenses incident to the securing of such services, appliances, and supplies. These expenses, when authorized or approved by the Secretary, shall be paid from the Employees' Compensation Fund.

(b) The Secretary, under such limitations or conditions as he considers necessary, may authorize the employing agencies to provide for the initial furnishing of medical and other benefits under this section. The Secretary may certify vouchers for these expenses out of the Employees' Compensation Fund when the immediate superior of the employee certifies that the expense was incurred in respect to an injury which was accepted by the employing agency as probably compensable under this subchapter. The Secretary shall prescribe the form and content of the certificate.
10/10 Hello Ab,

Just read a previous quote that you just put on the "quotes page". Whenever my father was dubious of a persons intent or that person had a somewhat cloudy reputation he'd always say "Half the lies he tells aren't true". We all know folks like that in the fire biz.

10/10 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated.

There are a couple of new employees looking for jobs and there's a new job announcement for a Fire Chief in Washoe County, NV. Ab.

10/10 Dear Pyro 5755:

Despite my years in this business, I am learning a great deal about the press this year, primarily because as an organization, the FWFSA has had to enter the "budget" arena with respect to the strange things the Forest Service does with it's preparedness & suppression funding.

The press can be an exceptional help in educating the public and it can be an unintended pain in the rear for folks who are trying to answer questions regarding complex dynamics in the world of wildland firefighting.

I take great pains to be as accurate as possible when providing information to our members and to the press. Course everyone's human. In the larger context of fed vs contractor vs cooperator, there are instances of huge disparities between pay & benefits, and, in some areas of the country there are instances where feds actually make more than some state firefighters.

My absolute priority, and that of the FWFSA is to deliver the pay & benefits our Nation's federal wildland firefighters have deserved for far too long. At the same time however, it is imperative Congress understand that as we strive for that goal, we are not advocating the total elimination of non-federal resources.

In educating congress, we have provided them with clear, irrefutable evidence of huge disparities between federal & non-federal resources and the example quoted in the paper is valid. However, I believe the context I was trying to convey to the reporter was that the Gov't has come to "over-rely" on non-federal resources rather than invest (portal to portal pay & other policies) in the infrastructure of our Nation's federal wildland firefighting corp.

That's great if contractors make millions each year as long as our federal firefighters get compensated like the vast majority of firefighters in this country, including Dept. of Defense federal firefighters.

The bottom line is that there is room for all segments of wildfire suppression. That being said, I am absolutely committed to seeing that our "feds" are first in line for the "billions" being spent. Still further, many of our members are in a position on assignments to order resources and I believe that when non-federal resources are needed, those doing the ordering will ensure that those contracting companies that take care of their employees, as we expect the land-management agencies to take care of theirs, will be those we continue to work with on behalf of our Nation's taxpayers.

Dear Benner:

Both Lobotomy & I have tried to assist federal firefighters through the OWCP process. In fact some on the Board of Directors are previous labor union presidents with a need to know about how to navigate the system.

Additionally, members of congress are always willing to help their constituents cut through the red tape...especially if they've been injured while doing their heroic duties. Don't know if you're an FWFSA member or not but not a big issue. If you'd like, please feel free to contact me if you'd like some assistance at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.


10/10 Preliminary NTSB report at: www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20061006X01477&key=1



NTSB Identification: LAX07TA001
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Sunday, October 01, 2006 in Ojai, CA
Aircraft: Erickson S64E, registration: N189AC
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On October 1, 2006, at 1100 Pacific daylight time, an Erickson S64E, N189AC, rolled over during fire suppression activities about 7 nautical miles north-northeast of Ojai, California. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/United States Forest Service (USFS) was operating the helicopter as a public-use firefighting flight mission under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Erickson Air-Crane, Inc., was the registered owner of the helicopter and employed the flight crew. The commercial certificated captain and co-pilot (who was also qualified to be pilot-in-command of the helicopter) were not injured; the helicopter sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a USFS flight plan had been filed. The flight crew was in contact with USFS local air traffic coordination personnel. The helicopter departed from the Lockwood helibase at 1000.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration accident coordinator, the flight crew was working the Day fire. They were at a retardant dip site, and snorkeling retardant out of a tank. As the helicopter was being repositioned to the next tank, the snorkel caught on the lip of the first tank and shortly thereafter, the helicopter impacted the ground on its right side.

10/10 Mellie.

That Crew wasn't "REFUSED" treatment and that RUMOR you heard wasn't rumor it was BS!. First of all those kids were delayed evac AT the fire until those in charge could figure a way to get them to a medical facility and when they were finally transported to the first hospital they were triaged and and it was quickly realized that 3 needed better care than the initial receiving facility could provide. Since the incident occurred in Northern Nevada and Nevada being fairly large and the best burn/trauma treatment available was in Las Vegas it took some time to get them evac'ed there. Only a real goof would believe those kids were refused treatment because they were "Dirty"..."Oh come back after you shower and we'll fix you right up". If any medical facility tried that they would be a$$ deep in lawsuits for years...duh.

I spent many days this past summer on wild fires, doing lifeflight stand-by, when we wasn't flying we was washing out eyes, cleaning up scrapes and scratches, re hydrating burnt out kids but we never refused one firefighter any treatment. All these problems with fire related injuries falls back on the federal agencies for not taking care of their own, not the treatment facilities or the health care providers. The agencies, fire managers, and imt staffs need to get their heads out of their arses and take care of their own.

10/10 Frequent visitor, never a contributor. Sure do appreciate all the work you
do, though. I usually only hit "They Said", but recently wandered over
most of the other menu choices on the website, including "Scratchlines" and
"Quotes To Live By", and have one which might fit in either that I believe
I coined 15 or 20 years ago........"never trust a fat man in a clean fire
shirt". It might have come from any number of true fire stories, which as
you probably know, invariably begin with "There I was..........." or "This
is no sh*t...........".

Just sign me 'Old Boot' and keep doing what you do.

Thanks Old Boots. I added it to the Quotes to Live By page. Ab.

10/10 From Firescribe

Oregon Dept of Forestry's Rick Gibson Receives National Smokey Bear Award

Good job. I added this to the Awards page. Ab.

10/10 Our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the Apple Valley firefighters
who were burned in the residential fire.


Here's a link: Firefighters injured Ab.

10/10 Casey;

Many thanks for taking time to clear up the  misquote, hopefully heading off a storm.  Maybe I'm hopelessly naive, but thought we were all, ultimately (somehow) on the same team, or at least allies.  And any bit of divisive mis-, or dis- information, certainly doesn't help toward that end.  I like to think that all we contract- types have to do to demonstrate unity is work hard, safely, efficiently, skillfully, and not try to rap* anybody financially, and we might even make the third string.

I know for a fact my boss surely doesn't charge, or receive, any $5000/ day for my engine!

So again, thank you, sir.


10/10 Re OWCP etc

Benner and others,

Do you think this is why the whole shot crew basically was refused treatment at the Winnemucca hospital? Rumor was the ER said they were too dirty. Hmmm, I can't remember the details now. I think it was one of the SoCal crews. Must look back through my notes. I think it was the fire in which 3 of the shots were burned and 2 were transported to the burn center. The rest also went to the hospital. Sorry not to have all my info together. I'm not at my regular computer, but at a friend's house.

Can anyone fill in the details? Was all that finally straightened out?

We all need to know when people are injured, what kind of info does their crew need to make sure they get treatment and aren't released too soon? When the whole crew has undergone some kind of incident, what do the rest of us need to watch out for? Insist on? Keep in mind that there will always be some level of tension between getting the folks medical and/or critical incident stress debriefing help and getting them to participate in an accident investigation and/or cya by whomever might feel they need their behind covered.


10/10 Lobotomy,

I always enjoy your opinions, and totally agree with your post on 10/8
about OWCP! On July 27th, I was hurt bad enough on a fire to be rescued,
ambulanced, X-Rayed, doctored, then rehabbed. My physical therapist
cringed when I mentioned OWCP... and threatened to cancel my visits unless
I used my own insurance. I'm still receiving bills, the ambulance folks are
trying to bill me for the ride to the ER, about 25 miles, for $ 1,286.00
...I shared the ride down with a Baker River Shot, who I imagine got
the same bill... It seems endless, none of the vendors were pleased to deal
with OWCP, so they turn to me, the victim. I'm glad I didn't die, my wife
would be getting the headaches...

My lesson learned is this, don't get hurt, don't take the ambulance, beg to
be driven by someone else, and always use your own insurance, even
if your boss or your agency says no... If any organization needs restructured,
retuned, it's that one... Kurt, of Baker River, let me know how your
injured crewman is doing, and if he had trouble with this treasured


10/9 The NEW Design of the Pondosa Pack has corrected the problem of the loose rolls, the new design allows for faster deployment, and a very secure packaging of the 300 feet of 1 ½ “, I say this is the best pack on the market, 8 years on the job and most of it doing wildland firefighting!

New updated design for both 1in and 1 1/2in Cotton and synthetic wildland hose.

Used by Federal, State, Local Agencies along the West Coast

S series $82.00 (Synthetic) 300 feet cap.

C series $78.00 (Cotton Jacketed) 200 feet cap.

Contact Pondosapack.com


10/9 I saw a premier viewing of “Into the Fire” in Dallas during the recent Fire Rescue International conference. It was very tastefully done; nothing hokey about it such as parachuting out of helicopters Huey Long style or starting backfires with 55 gallon drums of gasoline a la Yellowstone. This will be worth purchasing when it’s available on DVD.

Fire Geek
10/9 I wanted to send you a quick reminder about the upcoming airing of "Into the Fire", a documentary from Academy Award-winner, Bill Couturie. The documentary offers a glimpse inside the fire station, detailing the humor and intense loyalty shared by the men and women who routinely entrust their lives to one another. The music of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Dire Straits and other leading musical artists underscores the humorous, poignant and sometimes harrowing accounts of those interviewed. The documentary will air on The History Channel on Friday, October 13th at 8:00 p.m /7C . There will also be a second air date on Sunday, October 22nd at 4:00 p.m. /3C.


10/9 Matt,

The game you are looking for is called "Wildfire" you
can check it out and download the demo at
catdaddygames.com it is a pretty cool game.

Sign me, addicted gamer

10/9 Ab,

There is a fire strategy game called Firestorm by
Cricket Enterprises. It is not new. Pretty much fun.


I do remember trying some game... quite a while ago. Ab.

10/8 Computer Game?

I had a veteran engine boss tell me how some "kids" or newbie wildland firefighters had a wildland fire strategy game on their laptops. He said he watched them play and tried it himself. He said it would be a great training fire IC simulator and has seen how the game has turned these novice crewmembers into valuable fire strategists. Do you have any idea what this game is called?



It's been discussed here. Maybe someone will remember. Ab.

10/8 TKR71

Sorry to have to tell you this but check out Title 49 of The Code of Federal Regulations. I believe this is a new rating system for what used to be "DOT" numbered containers. Go here to begin the hunt: www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.phpl

I think it is a new international rating system indicating certification by an independent testing laboratory that the product meets certain standards. Sort of like the UL and CSA approvals on some products. 49 CFR might provide some "Grandfathering Provisions" to the old "DOT" specs you could use if you had containers to the DOT or OSHA standards.

I have been away from Haz Mat shipping for too long to be able to offer any more help but with a lot of patience you should find something in 49 CFR.

Try your local fuel dealers for information.

The agency you are dealing with should be able to tell you something about "Grandfathering" existing containers.

Good hunting

10/8 The Pigeon fire was started by a vehicle whose hot brake shoes were disintegrating
as it drove along the highway. A friend of mine -- Larry W-- was returning to Junction
City ICP from the BakeOven fire near Denny when he came upon the fire scene and
called in the fire.

Here's a pic of the Pigeon Fire origin on Hwy 299. It began between the two orange
cones that are furthest away and quickly ran uphill. The pieces marked in pink right
front foreground are parts of the hot brake shoes. Larry H<snip> is walking toward
the camera.


10/8 Pigeon Fire is still officially 'under investigation' but rumor has it that a semi with a flatbed trailer was speeding thru the area with a tire off the trailer, shooting sparks all along hwy. 299. When the call came into Dispatch, the units coming in from the west were told to be on the lookout for a 'car with hot brakes', so they weren't looking at trucks, they were watching for cars, and he was never caught.


10/8 Thanks Pyro, I wonder what kind of debris they were burning.

Anyone know how the Pigeon Fire in the BakeOven Complex started?


10/8 From Firescribe:

Trinity County (CA) residents live with smoke as USFS, CDF firefighters deal with the big blazes

Cost of 2006 wildfires burns past $1.5 billion

Fire Fight: Will outsourcing place forests at risk?
Casey is quoted... and there's more interesting stuff that relates to safety:

...Today, most teams conducting federal fire management are Forest Service or other Interior Department employees. And a huge percentage of them hold regular, federal day jobs.

For example, up to half of the Coronado National Forest's 200 employees play some fire-fighting role, from communications staff trained to provide timely fire information, to office administrators helping coordinate fire-season activities. "These are people who have other regular jobs, and who pitch in," says Coronado Supervisor Jeanine Derby. "There are a lot of roles for people other than the full-time (fire crews), from ordering supplies to setting up the camps.

"There's also very intense training involved," she says, "not only in how to carry out their jobs, but also in safety and communications and leadership." ...

Also, a New Book:
Fire in California's Ecosystems
JoAnn Fites is one of the editors.

Thanks Firescribe, I added the book to the Fire Books page. Ab.

10/8 Todd;

Don't know about Day Fire (was listed as "debris burning" on VCoFD site), but the John Fire, LPNF, Ojai Dist, was caused by an environmentally conscious hiker burning TP in heavy chaparral in late May in Portrero John Canyon (how's that for a double-entendre fire name?).

10/8 Thanks OA for the info, that's what I am looking for.

I am also looking for info on the military style metal jerricans. I am trying to find a place that sells the approved (UN 3A1, UN 1A1, UN 3H1) jerricans. They need to be red in color and have a yellow band around them, but the yellow can be stenciled or painted on later. I have talked with a couple of companies about these, but they are not UN approved, they meet CARB (California Air Resource Board), or ANSI, NFPA 30, OSHA 29CFR 1910.106, OSHA 29CFR 1926.125 standards. How do these relate to the UN standards?

10/8 Re: TKR71 and 3/4 inch hose roller,

I'm not sure about the info you have, but The Supply Cache stocks the one designed and manufactured by former Plumas Hotshot Krs Evans. Here's the direct link to the item: Evans Hose Roller If you lose the direct link, it's easily found by entering The Supply Cache online store and searching for "hose roller". The Supply Cache website link can be found at the top of this page and as always, on our Classified Ads page. OA.

10/8 Re: The Need for EMT's and Medical First Responders on the Fireline.... Maybe Old Farts are Needed


Krs and the Plumas Hotshots are the reason for some of my passion about wildland firefighter safety. The Plumas HS had medically trained and equipped firefighters on the crew. With this decision to remove Medical First Responder from the Wildland Fire Apprentice Program, I worry about the message that is being sent to the troops.

This change in the WFAP curriculum is just another example of people at higher levels determining what is needed for the troops on the ground. It is also an overt action that, as I see it, is something that screams of a NEW (actually re-emerging) HOLE in the Swiss Cheese that has been plugged before at the ground level, only to be re-opened at the system level. It might also be an overt attempt of putting Forestry Technicians back into their roles by people who do not understand the program they are trying to manage....

Many current leaders at the higher levels (Political Appointees, SES, GS-15, GS-14, GS-13, and even the GS-12) may not have the skills needed to understand what is happening at the lower levels of the organization in terms of safety awareness and upward reporting. The Tenerife Aircraft Accident in the Canary Islands is a prime example of how people, often described as instructors and leaders in the past, may be able to commit such obvious errors that may result in error traps, increased risks, and eventually failures that result in injury or death. Those that are studying Swiss Cheese and HROs should be highly aware of what I am talking about.

When Krs was injured, I was also assigned to the Red Bird Fall Fires Complex. I was one of a handful of ICT3s that were there to manage fires. I was on another fire just a few miles away managing the same type of fire and the same type of risks. This was my fourth time to the Red Bird District and my 10th time to Region 8. I also spent a 6 month detail on the Asheville HS in 1990 traveling extensively throughout the region. I was keenly aware of the hazards in R-8.

When myself and Safety Officer Tom Brand arrived there on the Red Bird, the first questions on our mind was how do we get injured firefighters to the quickest medical facility with the known and WELL INSTRUCTED hazard of the Locust tree hazards. We were familiar with the process for ordering military assets due to our experiences in the western U.S., but got a resolute NO WAY from the locals,.... we said that we should contact Fort Cambell and give them a pre-alert to our fire actions AND establish a name to name relationship. Short story... if you are in a hazardous area and wasn't to have lift capability and rapid ALS support, use the process and streamline it. If you make a friend at the local dispatch desk and the mission commanders, and you then also know the process on how to obtain a military mission number, you can prevent some chaos. I still have some guilt for not packing my bags and saying BS to this messed up bunch of folks who were an accident waiting to happen, and did. It seemed so basic for us... so basic.

There are other reasons as well to remember the need for medical training.... 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. The 1987 fatality of Bruce Visser was a catalyst of why we need pre-hospital medically trained firefighters with the proper medical equipment..... #1 Reason is to treat our own. It fired up some very dedicated people to make sure this accident is never repeated.

I hope Krs is doing well in all of his endeavors. I still use the King Radio clamshell cell phone battery charger that he designed on nearly every fire.

I received a copy of the 3/4 inch hose roller, but just haven't had the chance to try it with all of the fire activity this year. I will try it out this winter when things slow down, but I hope it has already gone into production.

I still have problems about how Krs was treated by OWCP and the agency in the treatment of his injuries. I have problems understanding why any FIREFIGHTER has to go through the BS just to get the proper treatment and someone to pay the bills.

Best thing I ever received from Krs was the energy to make sure things don't repeat ever again because of lessons not learned.

10/8 Pondosa packs are used by CDF in the HUU area of Nor Cal. They like em, we thought they had too many buckles and straps to mess with when we tried them, so I dont know about "best hose pack on the market". CDF puts in 1 1/2" trunklays with inline t's (simple hoselays) per agency policy, knock down IA with 1 1/2' nozzles. The USFS around Nor Cal usually use 1" nozzles off 1" laterals off the trunk for knock down, (Gansner Packs, or green bag packs), so I guess how good the Pondosa pack is would depend on what method you use for IA knockdown of fires.


10/8 KA

My agency used to use the Pondosa pack, but moved away from it because
they suck. Hose falls out of it about half the time when removed from the
compartment, when you bend over, and sometimes even while standing still.
I do not recommend this pack.

10/8 TKR71,

The Toy Hose Roller at www.crew13.com (Krs Evans' site) might be what you were looking for.


10/8 Att. Chief John R. Hawkins, a belated thanks for the nice words, I appreciate it very much,
Please email me direct at jpharris1@ sbcglobal.net I would like to talk to you in regards to


jp harris

10/8 Hello KA

True North Gear makes a hose pack, and will be more than willing to let anyone field test it
(or any of the True North Gear Packs). 206.723.0735 or info@truenorthgear.com.

Hope everyone had a good season,

You can also find the link for True North Gear on our Classified Ads page. Ab.

10/8 Guys, both your questions can be answered by perusing the Water Equipment Handling Guide. Found here: http://www.nwcg.gov/pms/pubs/WHEG03.pdf <large pdf file>


10/7 I am looking for any information on a 3/4 inch hose roller. One of the engines on
the forest has one and I got the information from it, but still need some place to
buy it from. Here is the info I have: Scotty, H.W. 50 B.C. Forest Service Design

10/7 Has anyone heard of the Pondosa Pack?? I hear they are
the best hose packs available on the market.


10/7 Ab,

If that's the same Scott Whitmire I knew "back in the day" former Helitack foreman, former smokejumper, former RDD JACC coordinator, former mayor of Pogueville, barracks boss, and pogue brother of the "gone but not forgotten" Leo Whirchowsky, I can vouch for his character without question. A pillar of reason and sanity in a barracks full knuckle heads, numb skulls, and other ne'er do wells. Ah, those were the days, huh Scott? Stand tall and eat rocks and glass.

Joe Hill
10/7 Billy G will giving the closing presentation at the FireRescueExpo in Las Vegas on 7-11 Nov. Also on 7-10 there will be classes on S215 Tue and Wed and S336 on Thu and Fri. This is a very good show with good seminars and a very good exhibit floor. If you can afford it, it is more than worth it. Get the info at FireRescueExpo.com

The Old Man of the Dept
10/6 Abs,

That was Chief Billy Goldfeder that sent the email to Joe. There's no need to snip his last name. Ask any structure guy who subscribes to Firehouse magazine and they'll tell you who he is. He's also known for the website www.firefighterclosecalls.com.

He's every firefighter's friend, no matter what type of nomex you wear.


10/6 Lobotomy,

My use of "cynical old f*rts" was 90% tongue-in-cheek and 10% truth. When I first became involved with the Apprenticeship Program in 1996 there were copious amounts of cynical staff. All I want for the academies is people that really do care about our agencies, their missions and the future firefighters. I was trying to prod a few fence-straddlers to come and help.

Regarding the loss of First Responder-Medical, I couldn't agree with you more. I believe that our employees benefit hugely from learning these skills and gaining this knowledge. Region Five has decided to keep 1st-responder as an elective. The Apprenticeship Program is guided by the National Interagency Joint Apprenticeship Committee (NIJAC). This committee is charged with devising the curriculum, writing the standards and operational plans, and discussing special cases or issues brought forth by the Agency Joint Apprenticeship Committees (AJAC). It is comprised of fire management, union representation, human resource advisors, and the respective agency representatives. So even if R-5 wants a certain class in the curriculum, and they have 85% of the students in the academy, they are subject to the committee's decision. Fire Management plainly stated that they were having a very hard time converting apprentices to career employees due to the inability to field cadres for S-260, Fire Business Management and I-200, ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents. (Boy, is that title the product of group-think?) So the decision was made to drop 1st-responder for these two classes. The main point is that we (the academy staff) do not decide the curriculum, we just present it.

Region Five will continue to offer 1st responder in the related and supplemental classes. One positive side effect is we have more time for physical training, with a schedule of pt's four times a week!

For anyone interested in discussing the program please call myself at 916-640-1061 or Shirley Sutliff at 916-640-1058.

Scott Whitmire

ps- Lobotomy, I really like your well-reasoned dissertations and your obvious passion for firefighters!

10/6 Ab

Here is Chief Billy G<snip>'s response to the Phill Q's Automatic Aid Question.



Hi Joe,

Am in Lancaster County PA this morning... spending some time with my friends who were deeply affected by the horrible Amish kid murders.

I have several Amish firefighter friends - and my closest, Dave <snip> (old order Amish) and I have been friends for 30 years. Dave and his wife have 10 kids and our families are close. Dave owns a fence company and is Asst Chief of the Witmer Fire Company. Dave and his family lost 1 cousin who was killed and 2 others that were wounded in this week's shooting - and I want to spend some time with Dave.

I am then due at the National Fallen FF Memorial Weekend in Emmitsburg, MD Friday night, Saturday and Sunday... and then home late Monday, so this answer will be quick.

I am not aware of any FD getting jammed due to no automatic aid since it isn't a law. Response to a call is generally up to the specific responsible FD, but I am not aware of a law requiring it.

With that said, there are cases where FDs have been sued for poor response, failure to respond etc - but not AA specifically.

Feel free to post.


10/6 Ab
From today's NPS Morning Report:
Friday, October 06, 2006


The White House
Flags To Be Flown At Half Staff

The American flag is to be flown at half-staff on Sunday in commemoration of National Fallen
Firefighters Memorial Day. They are to be returned to full staff on Monday morning.
10/6 Dear "Can't wait until the next addition to the 'Director's Corner'

I'd try to get a straight answer by cutting & pasting your They Said post to an email to:


or call him at 202-205-1483 or fax 202-205-1401

Dear Gizmo:

I'd do the same with Mark Rey and your post...

PH: 202-720-7173
Fax: 202-720-0632

As for Mr. Rey, in my hand delivered, 3-page letter to President Bush on Tuesday, I suggested in no uncertain terms that perhaps Mr. Rey may not be the best person to be "puppeteering" the Forest Service' fire program.

Good Luck to both of you...and sadly, don't forget to take evasive action when the anticipated retribution heads your way!!

10/6 Was the Day Fire really started by some camper burning their used toilet paper?


10/6 National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
25th Annual National Memorial Weekend
October 5-8, 2006

Emmitsburg, MD - The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the U.S. Fire Administration announce events for the 25th annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend on October 5-8, 2006. Plaques with the
names of the 100 men and women killed in the line of duty in 2005 and 7 firefighters who died in previous years will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Monument, located on the National Fire Academy campus in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Schedule of (weekend) Events:

October 7 Red Helmets Ride Ceremony, 11:30 a.m.
Hundreds of motorcycle riders will leave from Frederick, MD, and ride to the site of the National Fallen Firefighters Monument.

National Candlelight Service, 6:30 p.m.
Basilica of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, MD

October 8 National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service, 10 a.m.
National Fallen Firefighters Monument, Emmitsburg, MD

"A special tribute for the families of our firefighter heroes killed in the line of duty will mark the 25th Annual Memorial Weekend. Survivors from across the country will meet, establish emotional connections, and celebrate the lives of their beloved firefighters," said Chief Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the NFFF. "The Foundation offers its programs and services to ensure that families and colleagues of fallen firefighters receive the support they need to cope with the loss of their loved ones for as long as it is needed."

The National Candlelight Service and the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service will be broadcast live via satellite. Broadcast coordinates and other information on the Memorial Weekend and NFFF are available at: www.firehero.org.


Thoughts with the group... I heard Vicki from the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation and the Honor Guard are there.

Tahoe Terrie

10/6 vfd cap'n,

When the announcement for WFAP instructors, crew bosses, and staff members came out and said, "We seek people that love wildland firefighting, training and mentoring. No cynical old f*rts!" ... I was also a little confused..... Why post it on They Said? We are all folks that love wildland firefighting, training, and mentoring, and most of us would take question if we were either cynical or old in someway or other.

I think and hope that Scott was just prodding some of the Old Timers to get involved in the training process for the future leaders in the federal wildland fire program at the Academy.

By the way, I saw that the Apprenticeship Program is no longer having Medical First Responder Classes next year, what's up with that decision? Trained medical first responders are able to treat their injured brother and sister firefighters!!! Did somehow the lessons learned of the past get forgotten?

If someone wants to ask one night on Fire Chat why it is important that wildland firefighters should be trained as either Medical First Responders or EMTs, I'll be there. It is a long story. Plan to come in early and stay late. Actually, it is a short story, a firefighter died due to failures that could have been prevented by proper training and treatment protocols. Lessons Learned from 1987 that used to be a part of the WFAP Curriculum.


Hey, no picking on Scott. He said it "tongue in cheek" which I didn't see and didn't post. Because the <tongue in cheek> was enclosed in < > (and that's html code), it wasn't visible to me in copying and pasting.

My, aren't we a lot of grumpy firefighters at the end of a too-long season. (tongue FIRMLY in cheek) Whatever the case, rest up and sign up to help train our best and brightest. Rest is a good antidote this time of year. Ab.

10/6 Re: The 2006 Fire Season....

Are we ready for what may be another very busy year of fire management activity? Facing us are new demands for land management, hazardous fuels treatment, wildland fire use, and fire suppression. "Are there enough firefighters, fire engines, aircraft, expertise, and leadership to get the job done?" you ask. From my perspective, our fire management and fire fighting capability is strong. In addition, when we link arms with our cooperators at the federal, state, and local level, no other nation in the world has the assets we can muster. ~ Tom Harbour, Chief of Fire and Aviation Management, USDA Forest Service. www.fs.fed.us/fire/director/directors_msg.pdf (pdf file)

I for one, have questions about his perspectives about readiness and why he put up his rediculous "Director's Corner" website that spread false, "talking head" statements to HIS firefighters and the public even though in his gut, he probably knew he was doing wrong.... Human Factors.... I also have questions about why he preached the use of resources from state and local areas (cooperator and contract) as a fix to the underfunding of the preparedness, suppression, and hazardous fuels programs...... while, in many cases, those very state and local resources were not used in the initial attack and extended attack phases of fires before they became large.

I would also like to know why the Forest Service had about a 84% success rate this year on catching fires before they exceeded 10 acres, or $100,000. It would also be cool if someone could come up with a list of all of the WFU fires that happened this year..... which ones remained WFUs and which ones were converted to wildfires..... and the monetary costs of each fire from start to finish..... combined with a resource damage assessment.... and an assessment of the increased risks to firefighters and communities, with an emphasis of firefighter exposures, injuries, and fatalities on WFUs, and the number of structures lost and/or threatened by WFU fires.

As part of the program changes, we should also look at fires in R-5 that were managed under an "appropriate management response strategy" ..... and see if fiscally and safety-wise, if these fires were indeed managed by an appropriate management response?

sign me / Can't wait until the next addition to the "Directors Corner".

10/6 It is nice to see an empty 209 in South Ops, but the devil winds
are still to come. Great job so far everyone.

Stay safe and enjoy the upcoming winter. Take care.


10/6 Re: The news article (aka Administration Press Release w/ Talking Points)

President Bush said,

"I really want to thank the brave firefighters who risk their lives on a daily basis to contain the fires."

The best way to thank federal wildland firefighters is to make sure HR 408 and HR 5697 are passed, and leadership changes are made. Anything less is just a lip service to the people doing the work.

Under Secretary Mark Rey said,

"Such storms can ignite several thousand small fires, forcing crews to scramble to make sure all are extinguished."

All I can say is that I am glad that there has NEVER been "several thousand small fires" burning at any one time requiring fire suppression or management. This years IA and extended attack failed when underfunded and overstretched federal wildland fire programs were asked to manage dozens of fires within their areas of responsibility under conflicting priorities for firefighter safety vs. cost containment. In an effort to save money in several areas, State, local government, and contract resources were not used on initial or extended attack. This preference by some managers for "Fed Only" for cost containment backfired and caused several fires to become large project fires even though resources were available locally.

Mark Rey also said,

"So far this year, 674 homes - primary residences, not vacation houses - have burned in wildfires. That's a drop from 2002, when roughly 2,000 homes burned, and 2003, when about 3,000 burned."

"That indicates property owners and federal and state entities are making progress in reducing fuels around homes and developing wildland protection plans."

I won't comment about the mixing of FY and CY stuff that flaws Mark Rey's data, but what data he is producing is not supported by fact. The primary reason that the number of residences lost is lower, is because the West has not experienced the extreme fire weather or drought conditions that it did in previous years. A secondary reason is that a great majority of the fires this year have been in remote areas, or areas that are sparsely populated.


10/5 >From CDF email

November 23 - December 17
Knott's Annual event honoring Fire & Police Personnel. With proper ID
presented at Knott's employee ID card, paycheck, etc.) fire and police
personnel plus one guest can receive free admission. Purchase up to six
additional tickets for just $10.95 each.


10/5 see you on the next one

Oh come on! … If you still think fighting Wildland fires is about protecting natural resources, or even about putting the fire out you are sadly naïve … now its all about public perception, i.e. politics ("Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage." -- Ambrose Bierce), especially in California.

Engines, DC-10/747s, National Guard Blackhawks; they are all for the media to show the public to demonstrate that elected officials know more than professional firefighters and have the public's interest at heart.

Uncle Louie
10/5 Ab,

I was just getting ready to send in my application to teach at WFAP,
until I read the disclaimer about "cynical old f*rts."

Oh well, I guess I'll just stick around here at Theysaid, where I fit in.

vfd cap'n

haw haw, I think they'd appreciate a cynical youngish f*rt. Ab.

10/5 It's that time of year again! The National Wildland Firefighter
Apprenticeship Program is accepting applications for crew bosses, assistant
crew bosses, instructional cadres and staff members. The competition is
fierce this year, so apply quickly! The loosely-enforced deadline is
October 16. Information on how to apply can be found at our website,
www.wfap.net, then go to "Recruitment." We will host three Advanced Academies
and four Basic Academies. We seek people that love wildland firefighting,
training and mentoring. No cynical old f*rts! Please call Scott Whitmire
at 916-717-6615 or 916-640-1061 for information.
10/5 Can anybody tell me how long the wait is going to be on hiring new
positions in R5? I put in for a job that closed the 1st of July and it still
hasn't been filled. Does anybody in the RO realize that we are going to
start losing people because of the wait, or do they even care?

Waiting and waiting and waiting
10/5 Red Mtn Shots

I know this is OLD news -- but something to reflect on for the geographic area fire directors this winter. I haven't checked "They Said" for quite some time, as we are heading toward day 50 of the Rattlesnake Fire that refuses to be killed. The shot crew from Red Mountain (In Idaho) did have some problems there, and the Rattlesnake Fire gladly welcomed them to our little incident. Bear in mind, this was a time when getting even ONE IHC on a 30 to 40,000 acre incident was a reason for celebration. Their skills were needed and welcomed.

The concern that I have is that the team they were with on Red Mountain (ID) has had alleged serious personnel problems all season -- they were unavailable for a portion of the year as well, supposedly because of these problems. I've worked with the IC for numerous years and have the utmost respect for him; however, the Fire Directors in that team's geographic area need to do their job and take a look at what's happening before next season. The hot shot incident is just a red flag -- Directors -- please square this away and keep our kids safe.

Cache Queen

Discussion of this incident starts on 9/25 and refers to the Red Mountain Fire in Idaho. (There was another red mountain fire that was part of a complex on the Wallowa-Whitman NF - not that one.) Ab.

10/5 Automatic Aid Question:


Does anyone know of any legal action from a "lack of automatic aid" with other departments?
Any case would be helpful!

Phill Q

10/5 Re: From the Chief of Fire and Aviation Management:

"On our WO FAM internet website (http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/) I will display the assets, numbers, and budget which comprise our national program. I hope by sharing this information and my perspective, you will have a broader understanding of our program. Remember that we've built an agency and interagency program predicated on "coming to help" where we are needed. That is still our commitment." www.fs.fed.us/fire/director/directors_msg.pdf (pdf file)

That is Chief Harbour trying to explain why WFPR funds were cut at the expense of safety to our wildland firefighters and the communities they protect. Nothing but a bunch of smoke and mirrors.... a shell game.


First thing I would like to say, if the future Chief of Fire and Aviation Management of the Forest Service wants the respect, admiration, and support of the troops in the field and the communities they protect, then he/she needs to speak factually about the mission, the costs, and the challenges of providing our services in the 21st. Century. Without those basic tenants, they will be failed leader.

Found this surprising nugget regarding the Forest Service FY 2006 Budget at http://thomas.loc.gov. It is contained in the conference report that was submitted to the President and signed for the FY 2006 Forest Service Budget.

It allocated to the Forest Service almost $1.78 BILLION to perform its FIRE mission for FY 2006. That did not include the additional "slush fund" of $500 Million (available for multi-year use) that was also provided for wildland fire suppression. Additional appropriations were made to the Forest Service under the USDA Appropriations to manage "its non-wildfire programs".

Somehow, the Forest Service not only exceeded the fire budget, but also exceeded the "slush fund" that was meant to be used for several years as a stop-gap measure. In fact, there is not a single person (right now) who can even figure out how far the Forest Service has exceed its fire budget for FY 2006. It will take months until all of the figures are in (times, travel, contract costs, agreements, and recovery claims) until an accurate figure is available. A good friend said, "Keep an eye on the Day Fire, it will be $90 to $100 Million after all of the costs are counted."

The combined USDI/ Forest Service Fire request for an emergency supplemental was $275 Million. If the Forest Service got only $100 Million, it can't be found in the Congressional Record or at the Libarary of Congress yet. Casey, as you know, it is both hard to navigate Congress and navigate legislation.

Seems somehow they also messed up again (had to chuckle) and had to have language inserted in this year's emergency supplemental budget to make up for non-wildfire related expenditures that they they exceeded. The conference report from a few days ago included $20 Million for "Hurricane Katrina" related expenses not originally budgeted for. This was contained in language for the emergency supplemental appropriations for the war on terror and the Department of Homeland Security,

There was also a $100 Million thingeee in there for USDA about "protecting forested lands" but it would appear to most people by reading it, that it was for non-FS protected lands. I'll be damned if I can understand the language in the bill and how that $100 Million is meant to be spent..... remember, these were Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to replace dollars already spent and not allocated for FY 2006 to federal agencies.

Still haven't seen where the supposed $100 - $275 Million is being legislated that Senator Boxer talked about in emails sent to many of us. Must be hidden somewhere. Hard to follow the shell game......


For necessary expenses for forest fire presuppression activities on National Forest System lands, for emergency fire suppression on or adjacent to such lands or other lands under fire protection agreement, hazardous fuels reduction on or adjacent to such lands, and for emergency rehabilitation of burned-over National Forest System lands and water, $1,779,395,000, to remain available until expended:
Provided, That such funds including unobligated balances under this heading, are available for repayment of advances from other appropriations accounts previously transferred for such purposes:
Provided further, That such funds shall be available to reimburse State and other cooperating entities for services provided in response to wildfire and other emergencies or disasters to the extent such reimbursements by the Forest Service for non-fire emergencies are fully repaid by the responsible emergency management agency:
Provided further, That not less than 50 percent of any unobligated balances remaining (exclusive of amounts for hazardous fuels reduction) at the end of fiscal year 2005 shall be transferred to the fund established pursuant to section 3 of Public Law 71-319 (16 U.S.C. 576 et seq.) if necessary to reimburse the fund for unpaid past advances:
Provided further, That, notwithstanding any other provision of law, $8,000,000 of funds appropriated under this appropriation shall be used for Fire Science Research in support of the Joint Fire Science Program:
Provided further, That all authorities for the use of funds, including the use of contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements, available to execute the Forest and Rangeland Research appropriation, are also available in the utilization of these funds for Fire Science Research:
Provided further, That funds provided shall be available for emergency rehabilitation and restoration, hazardous fuels reduction activities in the urban-wildland interface, support to Federal emergency response, and wildfire suppression activities of the Forest Service:
Provided further, That of the funds provided, $286,000,000 is for hazardous fuels reduction activities, $6,281,000 is for rehabilitation and restoration, $23,219,000 is for research activities and to make competitive research grants pursuant to the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1641 et seq.), $46,500,000 is for State fire assistance, $7,889,000 is for volunteer fire assistance, $15,000,000 is for forest health activities on Federal lands and $10,000,000 is for forest health activities on State and private lands:
Provided further, That amounts in this paragraph may be transferred to the `State and Private Forestry', `National Forest System', and `Forest and Rangeland Research' accounts to fund State fire assistance, volunteer fire assistance, forest health management, forest and rangeland research, vegetation and watershed management, heritage site rehabilitation, and wildlife and fish habitat management and restoration:
Provided further, That transfers of any amounts in excess of those authorized in this paragraph, shall require approval of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations in compliance with reprogramming procedures contained in the report accompanying this Act:
Provided further, That funds provided under this heading for hazardous fuels treatments may be transferred to and made a part of the `National Forest System' account at the sole discretion of the Chief of the Forest Service thirty days after notifying the House and the Senate Committees on Appropriations:
Provided further, That the costs of implementing any cooperative agreement between the Federal Government and any non-Federal entity may be shared, as mutually agreed on by the affected parties:
Provided further, That in addition to funds provided for State Fire Assistance programs, and subject to all authorities available to the Forest Service under the State and Private Forestry Appropriation, up to $15,000,000 may be used on adjacent non-Federal lands for the purpose of protecting communities when hazard reduction activities are planned on national forest lands that have the potential to place such communities at risk:
Provided further, That included in funding for hazardous fuel reduction is $5,000,000 for implementing the Community Forest Restoration Act, Public Law 106-393, title VI, and any portion of such funds shall be available for use on non-Federal lands in accordance with authorities available to the Forest Service under the State and Private Forestry Appropriation:
Provided further, That the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture may authorize the transfer of funds appropriated for wildland fire management, in an aggregate amount not to exceed $9,000,000, between the Departments when such transfers would facilitate and expedite jointly funded wildland fire management programs and projects:
Provided further, That of the funds provided for hazardous fuels reduction, not to exceed $5,000,000, may be used to make grants, using any authorities available to the Forest Service under the State and Private Forestry appropriation, for the purpose of creating incentives for increased use of biomass from national forest lands:
Provided further, That funds designated for wildfire suppression shall be assessed for indirect costs on the same basis as such assessments are calculated against other agency programs.

10/5 See You,

I'm going to make the obvious assumption that you are a federal employee
and not a contractor. (That could make the difference whether you should
be given a canteen in Supply). I can't argue with you a bit about
overordering - or keeping resources once they are no longer needed.
However, it sounds like some of these problems - long chow lines, lack of
parking places, stinginess in Supply - should have fallen squarely on the
shoulders of the Logistics Chief. There's no excuse for any of that. If
you didn't talk with your DIVS or OSC about it you should have. If you did
and they didn't chat with the Logs Chief, shame on them! I'd heavily
encourage you to talk directly with the Logs Chief next time if it comes up
and you don't get any resolution through your supervisor(s). Those things
absolutely should not happen when there's an IMT in place. Any Logs Chief
worth their title SHOULD want to know (although it should be very obvious,
sometimes it takes a little whining) and SHOULD take quick action to
correct it. ( I know... in an ideal world...) Shame on the Logs Chief.

10/4 concerned!

I have spent the last few weeks on the Day Fire. Alot of money being thrown away. The only people actually out on the fire line doing anything are the Hotshots and the Inmate crews. There's limited access, yet there's enough red engines to protect the whole state.

Talk about budget problems, why are we paying municipals 24-7 to sit around. Our crew along with many others had to buy our own dinner every nite because when we went to camp the entire place was filled with engines with nowhere to park and the chow line was literally 2 hours long. All people with spit shined boots and freshly creased shirts. Where are all these people when it comes to the dirty work of putting the fire out, I sure as heck never saw them out there. Someone needs to put a stop to the over-ordering of resources.

Another thing that bothers me is all this hype about the dc10. Yeah, use it in the desert, but has anyone seen a passenger plane make sharp banked turns and dive into a canyon? The places we need painted, it cant get to, unless it's a large broad ridge a mile or 2 long. Haven't yet seen one of them either.

Third and final complaint, the supply unit comes the fs cache, so if you are a municipal supply unit leader, just give us the stuff we need. You don't own it, we do. I cant even get a canteen without an argument, Yet non fs employees are walking around in green nomex.

For the icing on the cake, our crew was told we will be working 12 hour days because of cost containment!!!! By the way I make 14 dollars an hour.

see you on the next one

10/4 To all those interested:

I have spoken to Becky Boone at the Boise AP and will be providing her a "different perspective" as to the costs associated with this season.

Also, according to our Senate Sources, the Forest Service was given only $100 million of the requested $175 million supplemental appropriation "bail out" as I call it.

As for Schlimey, FWFSA applications are on our web site at www.fwfsa.org.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
10/4 Lobotomy, I agree with your post of 10/4 and item number 6 in particular.

WFU and lightly attacked fires in the Wilderness areas have cost the
taxpayers and the firefighters dearly this year here in California. Two
fatalities on the Uncles Complex and another helicopter crash on the Day
fire. As we drag these fires out, we not only increase costs, but we
endanger our fire crews and contractors. Exposure equals risk in our

10/4 Casey,

I fully understand the FWFSA position as it pertains to representing the federal fire fighter. I am in complete agreement with the need for adjustments in the current pay and benefit scale for the federal fire fighter. My suggestion that we contractors or private organizations join your cause would not be for the intent of having you lobby for the private sector. The hope would be that we could support you in your quest for equality and develop a better understanding of each others position. At this point we have our own congressional support and lobbyist. I believe that there is a fine mix of resources, federal and private, that would be the most cost effective means to suppressing fires or other all risk incidents.

I would like to point out that one of the key benefits to contracting is that you don’t have to pay us unless we are used. As you know, contractors are the ones that are performing 90% of the fuels treatment on federal lands. Over the past several years, my contracted fire crews have worked on the PNF, SHF, LNF and NPS performing service contracts for thinning, piling and RXB. This work was performed on a piece price ($ per acre). These crews were in direct communication with the local ECC and available for immediate dispatch. There was no cost to the agency to have us listed as a resource on a daily basis. (I do realize that there is an initial admin cost for developing the contract.) We have responded to plenty of fires that were in the local areas and assisted in the rapid containment and control of these fires. In many cases, we were one of the first resources on scene. Again, there was no cost to the agency until we were called. That could be viewed as a cost effective benefit to the agency.

I am not really convinced that in all of the infamous wisdom of the agencies, that MEL or FFP is the solution to the fire problem at hand. I believe that these programs have diluted the quality of the Hot Shot program. I say this as an old Hot Shot foreman and as a guy that still goes out on the fire line with my crews. I have watched these guys in action and ask myself, “What makes them think they are Hot Shots?” This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of really good HS out there, some new ones and old ones. Again I believe that 5 good crews are better than 10 weak ones. The same analogy goes with Engines crews. The performance of a resource should speak for itself, be it agency or contractor.

I would also like to add that I read a response that addressed what is the motivation of contractors to get the fire out. In the case of some of us contractors that are X agency, it is the love of the work and the passing of the torch. There are plenty of young people that come to work for us as a starting point in their quest for fire. My organization and my leaders instill a good work ethic, training, experience and a drug-free work place with moral integrity that has allowed them to go right into the Hot Shots or onto Engine crews. Just because we quit or retired doesn’t mean we lost our motivation. Much like the AD program that is used to supplement the management teams, what is their motivation? The commitment and love of the work!! It’s not just about the money.

I am still interested in the cost that you have captured for agency resources.

Thanks for your honest responses,

10/4 How come the Day Fire (162,702 acres with a cost of $74.9 Million to date) has been removed from the National Incident Management Situation Report?

The situation report says there is only one national IIMT committed, but there are still two additional ones (Feser and Custer) assigned to the Day Fire. They are still working under an Area Command Team (Waterbury).

There are still 1,200 people assigned to this fire.

Is this an effort to make the Day Fire go away, now that it is not getting much press coverage?


The Day Fire is still up on Inciweb: http://inciweb.org/incident/475/

It's pretty standard practice to take fires off the Sit Report when they are contained even if there are lots of firefighters still mopping up, etc. Ab.

10/4 Glad to hear 742's crew got out, the ship can be rebuilt, here they're
working above the Stehekin landing on Flick Cr. 9/13/06. Also had them
IA a fire earlier in year, a great air crew.

photo HT 742


Nice action shot. Ab.

10/4 In reference to Lobotomy's 10/1 post on lessons not learned... The
documentation is pretty clear we have the same problems...

Felt I either had to vomit or cough when looking at lessons learned from the
past that seemed to matter somehow to many of us .... Nobody else seems
to care to comment about how we have messed up things for over 35 years
ago and make the same mistakes.... Even though the events and actions
of our failures, and the appropriate corrections are documented by "our
leaders" of the past seem to smack us in the face.

Review Team Assigned:

N.J. Farrell, Acting Regional Forester
H.L. Mitchell, Deputy Forest Supervisor
Lynn J. Horton, Regional Safety Manager
R. E Hall, Regional Fire Training Officer
Mark Schroeder, Research Meteorologist
George Witbeck, Regional Special Agent

sign me /WTF/ thanks goodness for PEER REVIEW and subsequent
changes for the safety of wildland firefighters. Back then, this review panel
had some relevant Lessons Learned that were never listened to............
Now they are relevant factors......

10/4 So, with the Forest Service and Mr. Mark Rey portraying that the Forest Service is "only" $100 Million over budget.... one would have to ask the following questions....

1) Why isn't it noted in news articles that in reality, the Forest Service actually exceeded it's FY 2006 Suppression (WFSU) request by nearly $600 Million? The Forest Service had a $500 Million multi-year carryover "slush fund" for future "potential emergencies" that was also exceeded?.

2) Why have the taxpayers, at the behest of elected leaders, allowed an additional approval of $275 Million to be approved for wildland fire suppression, when Mr. Rey, Ms. Scarlett, and the other folks such as Dale Bosworth and Tom Harbour assured all of us, under OATH, in Congressional Testimony, that this was a good budget and that the federal land management agencies were prepared for the 2006 fire season the best they could?

3) Why are the true costs of wildfires not being reported to the public? The costs of FEMA Fire Management Assistance Grants have went up nearly 100 fold over the last four years. Where does that accounting of wildfire costs take place? This "cat is out of the bag".... it is smoke and mirrors at its finest. FEMA reimburses state, local, and tribal governments 75% of the costs that they incurred on approved wildland fires by FEMA. In most cases, these costs are not shown or attributed to large wildland fire costs that the land management agencies report each year to Congress. Can you say DC-10 on the Sawmill, Horse, and Day Fires and why "CDF" decided to use this new tool?. It wasn't CDF who made the decisions, it was interagency fire managers willing to give a new tool a try when existing tools weren't working.

4) Why weren't Wildfire Preparedness Funds (WFPR) properly funded? Why weren't Wildland Hazardous Fuels Programs (WFHF) funds properly funded? Why were Suppression (WFSU) funds (now reported to be at least $100 Million in the hole, not counting costs being re-imbursed to state, local government, and tribal) being used throughout the year to augment, support, and bail out the underbudgeting of funds to these FIRE PREPAREDNESS programs through FIRE SEVERITY funding?.....

5) How the heck can we keep people safe, when we can't even speak the facts about where the focus is on the wildland fire program or what the goal is. The current focus is dollars by some people who I am beginning to really hate and want to pint really sharp fingers at....... They play a shell game with dollars and how it affects firefighter safety..... That "SHELL GAME" , year after year, misleads the public and results in increased risks to wildland firefighters and the communities they protect.

6) How does the Forest Service explain the fatalities, injuries, losses and threats to communities that happened this year, from failed policies and leadership? What are the problems with Wildland Fire Use?.... What are the problems when "someone" steps out of line and dictates NEW regional fire strategies that cost over $250 million? What happens when $100 Million or so costs were associated with fires that were being managed for resource benefit (WFU), without the benefit of the firefighters and communities giving comment?

7) What is up with the repeated statement, over and over again each year, that 2% of the fires account for 85% of the costs each year...... Any facts?

8) Was it not predictable, or preventable? It was both. There are good folks such as the WFF, FWFSA, NWSA, IAWF, ADFFA, and countless other groups out there who recognize that something is broken and needs to be repaired. Hopefully not beyond repair as it seems now. All of their goals are firefighter safety, community protection, and fiscal responsibility to the public.

There is one big as$ hole in the Swiss Cheese Model that is adding to risks of our firefighters and the communities we protect....... that hole is factual communication of the costs, the risks, and the values protected.

Dam'it... people die each year to protect the communities and trees....

10/4 Re; The Krassel Accident

NTSB Identification: SEA06GA158
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Sunday, August 13, 2006 in Yellow Pine, ID
Aircraft: Eurocopter AS-350-B3, registration: N355EV
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On August 13, 2006, at 1756 mountain daylight time, a Eurocopter AS-350-B3 helicopter, N355EV, was destroyed by fire following impact with the East Fork Rd. (FS Rd. 48) about 18 miles west of Yellow Pine, Idaho. The commercial pilot and his three passengers were fatally injured. The helicopter was being operated under contract to the United States Forest Service by Evergreen Helicopters, Inc. of McMinnville, Oregon, as a public use flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight that had originated approximately 5 minutes before the accident. A company flight plan had been filed.

The flight's mission was to replace fire-watch personnel on top of Williams Peak, located approximately 4 nautical miles north, north-east from Krassel USFS Airport (24K). The exchange had occurred, and the helicopter was returning to Krassel USFS Airport when the accident occurred. Wreckage debris was found north-east of the impact site, up the mountain side for approximately 1,800 feet. The debris included the tail-cone with its vertical and dorsal fins, the tail rotor gear box cover, one tail rotor blade, the top half of the upper wire cutter, approximately 6 five gallon potable water containers (cubies), and other miscellaneous refuse.
10/4 Forest Service spends $1.5B on wildfires


BOISE, Idaho -- Wildfires across the country have burned a record number of acres this year, and with the scorched land comes a record bill, a federal official said Tuesday.

The U.S. Forest Service's firefighting efforts for fiscal year 2006, which ended Sept. 30, cost more than $1.5 billion, at least $100 million over budget, said Mark Rey, the Agriculture Department undersecretary for natural resources and the environment.

To pay for the fires, money was transferred from other programs that had surpluses, including a reforestation program, said Kent Connaughton, the Forest Service comptroller.

The wildfire season is not over yet, but so far more than 15,515 square miles, or 9.93 million acres, have burned in the Lower 48 states, Rey said. That is the most since at least 1960, when the Boise-based National Interagency Fire Center began keeping reliable records.

The previous record was in 2005, when more than 8.6 million acres burned. The average of the past 10 years has been 4.9 million acres.

The 2006 tab compares with $690 million spent in 2005 and $726 million in 2004, Forest Service spokesman Dan Jiron said.

This year, for the first time, the Forest Service had a comptroller overseeing expenses, and fires that reached certain expense levels automatically triggered an independent review, Rey said.

"We're getting better results in terms of cost, as a consequence of making cost efficiency and cost containment something that we spend a lot of time on," he said. "There's a three-way tension: The safety of firefighters, protecting homes and property and not spending a gazillion dollars. I think we've made some strides."

This fire season was exacerbated by seven large-scale dry lightning storms, more than double the normal number, Rey said. Such storms can ignite several thousand small fires, forcing crews to scramble to make sure all are extinguished.

So far this year, 674 homes - primary residences, not vacation houses - have burned in wildfires, Rey said. That's a drop from 2002, when roughly 2,000 homes burned, and 2003, when about 3,000 burned.

That indicates property owners and federal and state entities are making progress in reducing fuels around homes and developing wildland protection plans, he said.

President Bush said Tuesday that Congress needs to pass further laws that will provide ways to restore forests once they've been burned and commended the Forest Service for their operational planning.

"I really want to thank the brave firefighters who risk their lives on a daily basis to contain the fires," said Bush, who was in Los Angeles, where a giant wildfire about 50 miles northwest of the city was extinguished Monday, nearly a month after it began.


Lessons Learned... so much for "expert" Congressional Testimony provided during the spring. Maybe they should have listened to the experts rather than Mark Rey and Lynn Scarlett and other politically appointed talking heads.

SoCal Capt

Fair Use Disclaimer

10/3 Ab,

I heard that the FWFSA meeting with President Bush went well.
I hope to hear some more specifics soon.

10/3 Gone but not forgotten -MT

Just wanted to pass on that Mike Landon, a senior engine boss with the Montana DNRC’s Libby Unit, passed away at his home Thursday, September 28. He’d been with us for six years, spent many years in California and Texas as both a structure and wildland firefighter, and was currently the assistant chief of Cabinet View Fire Department. He leaves a wife and several children/grandchildren.

Harold W. Gemmell
Fire Forester. MT DNRC

10/3 Gone but not forgotten -CA

Evelyn, fire dispatcher for the Feather River District, Plumas NF is
no longer with us.
God speed Evelyn. I'll miss you - you open, friendly, helping person.

Tahoe Terrie

10/3 'Casey & Abs,

Way to Push!...(first time responder, long time lurker).
Good luck with your mission with the big guns, love what you're
sayin' and tryin' to do.

I finally looked at your FWFSA web site, was tempted to join
up, but (embarrassingly) admit that I can't afford the bucks to
join in. A small fire in Oregon kept me from making hay, so
my Winter looks bleak.

I got tosee Sky Crane 742 on two Type 3 incidents and later at
Tripod. So strange to see the wreckage on video, but so glad
no one was hurt bad.

It's been a strange abnormal fire season for me, but I'm still
thinking very fond thoughts of The Baker River Shots who
rescued me and honored me by using me in a training film,
Thanks guys, hope one of you sees my thanks to you here.

On to Rehab, in more ways than one.


10/3 Thank you for all your hard work Casey - you're not corny, you're awesome.
What you are doing with your life actually makes a difference.

10/3 The Day Fire is contained. Good work everyone.

Tahoe Terrie


Ok, so I may embarrass myself with this analogy, but for those who know me and have small children like me, they'll understand my mind set.

Last night at bed time, I read one of my 3 year old son's favorite books to him: The Little Engine That Could.

This afternoon as I drove south on I-15 in Idaho to Salt Lake City airport to catch a flight to California to meet with President Bush tomorrow morning, several Forest Service buggies belonging to the Bitterroot Hot Shots were traveling northbound and I realized the similarity between the Little Engine That Could and the FWFSA. (ok, I hear some snickering...)

The fact is, navigating congress, educating its members and securing their support for federal wildland firefighter issues is frustrating, daunting & time consuming and requires passion, persistence & perseverance; many of the attributes the little engine demonstrated.

Consider our members and the dues they entrust to us as the coal that creates the steam that creates the power to ascend the mountain.

With each and every phone call, personal meeting, fax, email etc., between the FWFSA and those in DC, the mantra of I think we can, I think we can, I think we can resonates loudly.

We have not gotten over the mountain nor reached its peak to deliver the pay and benefits our federal wildland firefighters deserve...but we are making progress slowly, but surely.

Think of the power of the FWFSA at present and then consider the power with every federal wildland firefighter adding their voice to this movement. The mantra would change as it did in the story from I think we can to I knew we could!

Ok, so some of you think I need to get some sleep...but the reality is each and every worthwhile movement has started small and continued to grow & grow and with each new voice the movement itself becomes louder until it reaches its goal.

Each and every day I am humbled to have the best job in the world...representing our Nation's federal wildland firefighters. Some who have never met me apparently think I'm some high-priced lobbyist...Joke is on you. Perhaps maybe GS-4 pay without benefits...

But I'd do this for free if I could. So as corny as this posting may have been, it contains the passion, persistence & perseverance necessary to get our firefighters what they have deserved for far too long. The message is...all of you sitting on the fence; all of you naysayers out there, join the movement, have your voice heard and help get this darn train over the hill!!!

With Great Affection & Admiration for all of you,


You go... Thanks Casey and FWFSA. Ab.

10/3 Thank you for the information on the IAP's, that helps!

10/3 To rtn -

Don't hold your breath waiting on the investigation. It has been 19 months since the ship that John was in went down and still nothing from the NTSB or the Forest Service. I was told that the NTSB investigator assigned to the case was slow, but I didn't realize just how slow they meant. I was told it would be at least 1 year before anything came out, even without a tortoise working the case. I'm ready for some answers, even though I'm sure of what the cause will be.

I'm glad to see that the pilots made it out safe down south. Thanks to the ground crew and everyone else involved.

To Donny Hamilton - Congratulations on your retirement. I enjoyed meeting you the summer you spent at Bald Mt in 97. Make the best of your time with your family and have lots of good times and fun.

Lori Greeno
10/3 Just what is “organization” in federal fire? This is a trickier question than it might appear on the surface.

You have the overall national level which sticks up high enough to get caught in all the political crosswinds: note the inability earlier this summer to get a “heads-up this season is getting bad” letter out to the ground. You have the unit that a resource comes from. Think, for example, of the crews that have had several shelter deployments in their history versus those that have never. Likely, you’ll find a different safety culture at the home unit for each of these crews. (Yeah, I’m oversimplifying hugely. But you could probably come up with a lot more “levels” of organization than I’m giving here.) Then you have the organization of the forest or district that is hosting the fire. Think here of the OSHA report citing the deficiencies at this level on the South Canyon Fire. Then, to make matters even more complicated, you have the overhead teams that are often from outside of the local area. [Not to pick at old wounds, but compare the actions of the local ranger after the Mann Gulch Fire (who operated at a time when the local ranger was pretty much expected to be in charge) and the semi-local, then national teams that came in at South Canyon where the search for the last two firefighters got lost in the shuffle of fighting the fire.]

In the last year or so, I’ve come around to agreeing with those of you who are really pushing the organizational side of this. (That letter last summer really got to me: if we can’t get a simple safety message out to the troops, how in the world are we going to create an overall safety-minded culture?) So please don’t see me raising the complexity issue as an argument against some of our recent organizational postings. But I don’t think I’ve seen anyone raise these questions here previously.

Still Out There as an AD
10/2 Those of you who fought the Junction Fire may already be familiar with our newest advertiser on the Classified Ads page, but for those who aren't, we'd like to introduce and welcome Charms-4-All and invite you to visit to their website and view the products firefighters were standing in line for. Thanks and keep it safe. OA
10/2 The crewmembers involved in the crash of HT-742 yesterday were recognized this morning by Incident Commander Mike Dietrich for their heroic and quick actions at the scene.

The commendation states

"Whose prompt and courageous actions at the scene of the Helicopter accident were integral to stabilizing the situation and protecting two pilots from further injury."

Ab added this award to the awards page. Perhaps when some time has passed we'll have the 12 names and can add them. Right now there's protection of privacy. (Thanks Mellie for trying to get the info.) These folks took correct actions under pressure in a situation where there are few opportunities to practice. Deep survival. Nice work by the ground crew. Ab.

10/2 Does anybody have knowledge of theme parks letting Firefighters and their
families in? I am going to So. Cal. next week for a family vacation and
heard some rumors of certain places letting us in.


Signed: Over in R6

10/2 HK

As far as I know about the IAPs being formatted to the smaller version it
is all done at the copier's trailer (ie.FireDawg) at the incident.

When we do the IAPs we request that so many are done full page and so many
half page.

Resource Person

10/2 HK-

There are two practical ways that I know of to get an
IAP or other document formatted in the "miniature" or
booklet style.

One is to purchase a program called "Fine Print". It
installs on your computer like a printer. Create your
document as you normally would in 8.5" x 11" format,
then when you click on print, it shows up as a
"printer". Select it (Fine Print) and then you have
formatting choices that include the booklet format.
It does the reformatting for you; you don't have to
try to do it in your word processing program. I have
used this program; it's a little tricky, but after you
figure it out it works well. Be sure you practice
before you have to get out that IAP at O'Dark Thirty.

A second way is that some newer printers include
printer drivers that will reformat your document into
a booklet, much like Fine Print. For example, on a
Canon iR2220 printer, choose Finishing/Print
Style/Booklet printing. I have not tried this, but I
have explored the option.

Hope this helps.

10/2 rtn you said

I'm curious whether anyone has heard any more about the helicopter crash on
the payette forest this august. has there been an investigation report.
does anyone have info on what went wrong.

After the 72 hour report we need to wait for the NTSB accident report. I had that report
but must have deleted it. Anyone here have that?

NorCal Tom

This 72 Hour Report on the Krassel Helicopter Accident came in. Don't know if we've posted it before. Ab.


Subject: Expanded Briefing Krassel Helicopter Accident
August 13, 2006

To: Hank Kashdan, DASHO


Name of injured or deceased:
Quin R. Stone, Evergreen Helicopters, Inc. Contract Pilot
Michael Gene Lewis, Krassel Helicopter Manager
Monica Lee Zajanc, Helitack Crewmember
Lillian M. Patten, Fire Lookout

Preliminary factual findings:
On August 13, 2006, at approximately 1730, helicopter N355EV, a Eurocopter AS 350 B3 under contract to the Forest Service by Evergreen Helicopters, Inc., crashed on the Payette National Forest 18 miles west of Yellowpine, ID. The pilot and three Forest Service employees on board were fatally injured.

The helicopter was returning from Williams Peak Lookout tower to Krassel Helibase. Weather conditions were light winds with relatively clear visibility. The helicopter crashed on US Forest Road 48 near the confluence of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River and the South Fork of the Salmon River. There was a post-crash fire and much of the helicopter was consumed. The cause of the crash is still under investigation under the jurisdiction of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). A Forest Service National Serious Accident Investigation Team is working with the NTSB.

Serious Accident Investigation Team leader

10/2 Popular airship...this one was take'n at the Tripod last month. Even have some
video on it working from a Heliwell. Sorry to hear of the loss of such a fine piece
of equipment, but happier to hear everyone walked away.



10/2 The Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist) are updated. Ab.
10/2 HT-742

I am also very thankful to hear that the two pilots from HT-742 walked away. Thank god for miracles. I worked with the Erickson folks for most of the summer back in 2004 and had a blast with them. They are above all professionals but happen to be great people as well. I would be interested to hear what airframe the 742 tank was attached to and who the pilots were. I worked with the N173AC and N247AC airframes. N247AC still had that "new car" smell back in 2004 as it had just been certificated.

Anyone know anymore on this incident?


10/2 Hey Ab,

I've been looking for an IAP that is formatted for the miniature version.
Do you know where I could get the smaller one? It's the 8.5x11 folded
in half like a book. I've messed with my full size one but can't get it
formatted properly.


Handy format. Readers? Ab.

10/2 Abs,

I'm looking for a little help. This fall, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore celebrates its 40th anniversary as a unit of the National Park Service.

As part of that celebration, I'm trying to find out more about the history of the fire program at our park. If there are any readers/lurkers out there who can tell some stories about the program (the good and the not so good), have some photos, or can contribute to my project, please pass my email on to them.

So far I have training photos from the 1970s as well as some pics of old engines we used to have. I'm in need of anything available from the 80s and 90s.

10/2 I'm curious whether anyone has heard any more about the helicopter crash on
the payette forest this august. has there been an investigation report.
does anyone have info on what went wrong. ---rtn
10/2 Gizmo

Thanks for the memory jar, yes age blurs the facts, I was a rookie fire
fighter and met a MEMBER of the Redding Hotshots that year on Thunder
Ridge -by the name of Lechleither- while hacking our way down some canyon.
I guess the question still remains, how long did the Panorama fire burn
for, I guess it would be a complex by todays standards, I also remember
having Thanksgiving dinner with, then, Governor Jerry Brown in fire camp.
The Convair could not land at Ontario due to the winds, had to land at a
larger Military base near by? White knuckles and barf bags were the rule
of the day.

Ranger Rick

10/2 I am saddened to hear of the wreck of #742! I have spent many days working with this Erickson Air-Crane #742 on quite a few fires in the Pacific North West. I got to know the Crew and Pilots personally and am glad to hear they're OK with only minor injuries.

I have many pictures of this Helitanker #742 in action. As a Contract Tender I helped clean it many times and wet down its landing areas. This picture was taken on the 2006 Spur Peak Fire in the Okanogan, Washington area not long ago. I also often worked with the N54 HL Heavy Lift that I think went down in NorCal with loss of its two pilots, but I'm still trying to get the number off it. That wreck happened just after it left the Spur Peak Fire. At that time I went on to the 2006 Tripod Complex Fire where the 742 was also working. I missed the detailed reports on the NorCal crash, if it was the N54 HL Heavy Lift. Another photo

You never know when your luck will run out on these fires!

Region 6 Tender

We won't know the cause until the NTSB investigation is complete. There may be additional photos of 472 on the helicopter photo pages. Ab.

10/2 I don't know who to send this to, so I will send it here.

The IAWF Policy Summit (2006) report said,

"Determine how wildland fire personnel and land management agencies can better fit into the FEMA ESF-4 "wildland firefighting" emergency services function, to better serve FEMA, and minimize adverse affects on the land management agencies. The natural resource agencies were not consulted during the last revision of the National Response Plan (NRP). FEMA needs skilled and experienced natural resource agency personnel "at the table" when revising the NRP, if they are to depend on natural resource agency resources." ~ From the IAWF.

Simple fact.... ESF 4 is "Firefighting", not "wildland firefighting" as being misdescribed in this report, and has not changed since the Federal Response Plan (FRP) was changed to the National Response Plan (NRP). The Forest Service is charged with this mission under ESF 4 just like it has been for over 20 years.. It (the Forest Service) has been charged with this important Homeland Security Mission for over 20 years regardless of the actions, or inactions, of forest managers who contribute to the lack of firefighter safety, training, and preparedness....

Simple fact.... all of the relevant emergency management organizations (federal, state, and employee organizations) were not invited to the "Summit" sponsored by the IAWF to discuss how the "Forest Service" was able, or not able, to perform this task under the current organization, or how the Forest Service would need to change to successfully accomplish the mission assigned for the last 20+ years, and in the future.

Maybe all of the relevant players who have jurisdictional responsibilities and key responsibilities could be invited in the future to decision making "think tanks"? I also understand a discussion on FS Doctrine came out of this conference...... Which of the advocates for Doctrinal Change were there to provide "expert testimony" from first hand knowledge of Forest Service capabilities and past history, or knowledge of the current state of the Forest Service and how it is barely functioning.... ie - circling the toilet? How many leaders who have been the TRUE LEADERS of FS Doctrine were never "invited" to lead the Forest Service into the 21st Century?

Is this a repeat of the Pulaski Conference for Forest Service Doctrine? Lots of fanfare, but limited action?

Sorry, feeling a little bitter on Lessons Not Learned over the past 40 years. I am also feeling that leaders of the past who learned alot are not being listened to. We will all make the same mistakes again, unless someone opens their eyes and understands we are "A High Reliability Organization".

A special thanks to Chief John Hawkins of the RRU who has over 40 years experience, for giving me the courage to say BS where BS is due. Things will get better, if federal wildland firefighters communicate the issues related to safety and effectiveness. Chief Hawkins is a leader that I know.... and a leader that anyone interested in firefighter safety should know.

www.iawfonline.org/pdf/2006_Policy_Summit.pdf (pdf file)

Rogue Rivers
10/1 Re: The basics.... the goal that each firefighter returns home each day.

More on Safety from Gordon Graham, J.D., and Chief Billy Goldfeder, E.F.O:


So Cal Firefighter

10/1 Information on this incident was posted on the Hot List Forum early this afternoon. An official release is now out on Inciweb. We're glad all are OK. Photo of 742 making a water drop in 2001. There's another lower quality photo of 742 on the Helicopter 15 photo page. Ab.

Helitanker Incident At Rose Valley

Incident: Day
Released: 2006-10-01 16:17:00 ET

One of the helitankers working on the Day Fire was involved in an accident at approximately 11:05 a.m. today while working in the Rose Valley area of Los Padres National Forest. There were two pilots on board. The helitanker sustained extensive damage, but there were no injuries. There was a small fuel spill, but there was no fire. Helitanker-742, a Sikorsky-64E, is owned by a private company under contract to the USDA Forest Service. An investigation team has been ordered.

Here's the Ventura County Fire Dept Log for the incident: http://fire.countyofventura.org/fireline/frameset/f_pages/f_three_details.asp?inc_num=6087956

Link to video news story about the crash:

10/1 From a Forest Service Fatality investigation report of the past:

History does repeat itself .... Lessons Not Learned.....


..."The investigation team does not feel more restrictions are necessary with regard to how we fight fire. Our problems will not be solved through restrictions when the basic cause lies elsewhere. We have our downhill guides for line construction. The first four of these guides were violated in the case of the <firefighters name> fatality. Nine of the Ten Standard Firefighting Orders were also violated. Further restrictions would also be violated, unless training and experience gives foremen and crewmen on the ground the basic knowledge to understand the reasons for the rules and restrictions. Foremen must also have gained the necessary experience and developed the supervisory and leadership skills needed for enforcement."

"Crew leadership begins with the recruitment, selection, and appointment of individuals with basic strengths in the areas pertinent to the crews work. In forest fire control, these areas include both a strong physical capability and a moderate level of intelligence. These basic abilities then can be utilized in a work and training program to produce strong and capable first line supervisors."

"The <forest name> has been less than fully successful in developing first-line supervisors (crew foremen) necessary for their fire control organization."

"Many of their more experienced people have left to join other Forest Service units and other firefighting agencies such as the California Division of Forestry and various County Fire Departments. Competition for good men is keen. We continue to train good people for other agencies. Our conditions for employment leave this Region, and particularly the <forest name> is an almost untenable position. It is difficult to entice high quality people to apply for fire positions when agencies such as the California Division of Forestry and most County Fire Departments can offer capable people full-time yearlong employment, better crew living conditions and higher pay." ...

... "The <forest name>, as elsewhere in the Region, is operating under severe budgetary and ceiling limitations. Allotments have failed to keep pace with increasing equipment, salary and other operating costs. The level of manning of fire crews is less than in prior years. The situation has been deteriorating over the past two to three years with a major loss of crewmen (78 positions) in <year>. Prior to <year> tanker crews had been fully financed and manned (generally 5 men per tanker) for the full fire season." ...

... "We are relying on a fire force that is deteriorating in both quantity and quality. We face a growing problem and growing public concern. People at the Forest level are becoming increasingly frustrated and bitter. Their frustration comes from trying to do a larger job with a lesser force. Their bitterness stems from the fact that they cannot see the results of any real effort being made to make their plight known, Interviews with Forest Service people revealed that they believe the Forest Service is more concerned with new programs and its image than it is with telling Congress and the Budgetary authorities the facts about our resource losses and protection needs. Other programs receive major fund increases, but we continue to lose effective dollars for the basic fire control organization. Our people believe that little is being done to point out the potential social and environmental benefits possible from increased fire protection, and thus capitalize on the current high level of public and Congressional concern in these areas."


Extracted from: Investigation Report, Robert Maxwell Miller Fatality, San Bernardino National Forest, September 19, 1971.

www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Mack_2_1971.pdf (entire pdf file)


P.S. - See also the 1957 Report to the Chief....

"Career limitations in the present fire control aid series result in the loss of well qualified fire men to woods and other industries, state and county protection agencies, and other jobs where better careers are available. This situation makes it difficult to recruit and develop additional suitable men in this category. There is in-service competition in that better careers are available in the timber management jobs of the forestry aid series. The men involved in these positions are the people who provide the local experience and stability which is important in the fire control job.".


10/1 Ranger Rick Brower,

The Panorama Fire did not burn into the Thunder Fire in 1980.

The Panorama Fire stopped on Interstate 15. The Thunder Fire stopped on the east slope of Thunder Mountain in the Middle Fork of Lytle Creek. Both fires started about 12 hours apart, with the Thunder Fire starting during the middle of the night and the Panorama Fire starting in the daytime.

Several firefighters on the San Bernardino lost their houses during the Panorama Fire, while they were busy battling the Thunder Fire on the ANF/BDF boundary.

Maybe you were referring to the Summit Fire? It was a separate fire, not associated in any way with the Panorama Fire. It was located north of Rancho Cucamonga, due south of the Thunder Fire under a dying Santa Ana condition. I am not aware if the Thunder and Summit Fires merged, but their general location made it a possibility. The Panorama Fire also didn't merge with the Summit Fire.

To compound things, the Sycamore Fire also started that day near Highway 330. The eastern edge of the Panorama and the Sycamore fires came close to merging, but I also believe they didn't meet either.

Time and age sometimes "blurs" our memories and our recollections. It happens to all of us. Good notes and reference databases help to restore memory, at least to me.

Loved the old Convair 580.... what a scary ride. My last ride in one of them was in 1990 as a member of the Asheville Hotshots. Nothing better than watching the wings bend as you are trying to land in a thunderstorm..... Storytelling is one of the key components in Lessons Learned and Leadership..... Storytelling must be factual for lessons learned.

Take care and keep safe.

10/1 Speaking up.

Re chain of command, it is sometimes hard to speak up.

Good points from everyone on the use of Safenet - if chain of command
hasn't worked.

An additional thing to keep in mind when you hear scanner traffic even
if this is a bit of a tangent. When there is some kind of accident or injury it
is sometimes considered an "incident" within the larger incident of the fire.
People can be specifically assigned to cover that "incident within the incident"
so that those fighting fire can continue with a single mind.

Good comments by KE on assumptions made by those not privy to Ops
planning and regarding changes in the IAP if conditions on the fire are

Concerned FF, I am a firm believer in people speaking up sooner if possible
or later and in whatever way they can spit it out. Once you've spit it out once
it's easier to do it again. Each time you do it, you fine tune it.

NorCal Tom

10/1 I just wanted to say Bob M. - you're an awesome Ops Chief and had a great
time working with you on the Red Mtn. fire in Oregon. I almost responded to
Mellie's earlier post as well, then thought - this is totally inaccurate..... maybe
it's a different fire.... sure enough.

Keep up the good work, love working with your team.


10/1 concerned firefighter:

Your comments beg the question.... What position were you holding on the fire? Were you involved with any of the operational planning?? I'd be very careful about the type of accusations you are making if you didn't have thorough knowledge of what type of planning went on behind the scenes. To accuse an ops chief of single-handedly being responsible for burning down structures is a huge leap if you didn't have extensive knowledge of forecasted fire behavior/weather etc.

If you've ever been involved with the development of an IAP, than you'd know that things always change as far as resources assigned the morning of the briefing "horsetrading" always occurs during division and branch breakouts.

The same is true of operational plans. The first plan formulated is rarely the one that is executed. If you can't be flexible and willing to make things work on the fly then you are in the wrong business.

I'd have to agree with FB's statement "

"these accusations smack of the typical regional elitism out of area teams face when the locals expect failure, and then they pursue that cause like vultures....... I would caution against it. it hurts our solidarity and sets back any progress we have made nationally"

That said, I hope you reported your concerns to the safety officer on your division or to the teams safety officer, I am sure the Red Team would appreciate you using the proper chain of command rather than broadcasting fairly serious accusations on a public web site. SAFENET is your best option if you didn't voice your concerns while actually on the fire.


10/1 Ab,

CWF's statements regarding the Red Team are very serious! But I would caution him and any one else from running down a path of verbal rock throwing, accusations and slander. Our ability to speak freely in spite of our knowledge base is our right of course. I would caution anyone from making judgments without the appropriate investigation. I know there are safety officers assigned to that incident. If you have a safety issue, you reported it to the safety officer. If it is a safety issue with immediate consequences then the act must be stopped. If these events are true then CWF or anyone else witnessing them should have refused the assignment and contacted the on duty safety officer. You do no good complaining on a blog!

My opinion is that these accusations smack of the typical regional elitism out of area teams face when the locals expect failure, and then they pursue that cause like vultures. Many of us have traveled to other states on fire assignments only to be met with this same attitude. I would caution against it. it hurts our solidarity and sets back any progress we have made nationally.


Theysaid is not a blog. Technically it's an internet forum contributed to by a community of wildland firefighters. (Blogs are a more personal journal or diary.) Here are some Wikipedia definitions: blog, internet forum and internet community. Original Ab was a visionary when he began this website. He continues to be highly innovative. If you haven't read Ab Speaks, you should. This community is also remarkable. The forum would'nt exist without all of you. Ab.

10/1 Concerned Firefighter:

Bravo!! Great post!! Thank you for bringing your concerns regarding the Day Fire to this board. The wildland firefighter community is a safer place because of your actions.

Ditto from me. Use the SAFENET as a vehicle to make your concerns known to folks who can do something about them right now.

Please state your concerns in your SAFENET as they relate to the actions of individuals, not of the team as a whole.

The folks who make up the Red Team are generally stand up fire folks and there is a lot more western fire experience there than you might expect. What you describe appears to be more the result of individual actions rather than a team failure but let's use the SAFENET system and the great folks attached to it to determine that.

George Custer and I were Division Supervisors together on the Red Team in the 80's and the Red Team did fires all over the US during that time. He was one of the best on-the-ground fire tacticians I have worked with. The shot crews that worked for him all held him in high regard. He is the Incident Commander of the Red Team now and your concerns are certainly his concerns. I know he will be happy to work with you towards a resolution.


10/1 kudos to one TV news station

This summer I visited family and friends in the Reno area. The wildland fire coverage provided by gal reporter and a weather guy employed by Reno channel 2 TV station was the best I've seen, ever. The reporters included info for all of northern NV.

Amazingly the gal knew her stuff (not only the difference between CONTAINED & CONTROLLED) and the weather guy provided "fire weather" info.

As urban interface creeps into wildlands, it's beyond belief why so few news stations bother to provide more than hype.

cranky retiree

10/1 Ab

Hate to jump in here but everyone is forgetting the fires going in Northern CA now.
Bar Complex start 7/23, Uncles Complex same start.
Day is more contained than either (finally).

The 2003 So Cal siege was not as long as the Bar and Uncles are now.

~Archive: September-06
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