November, 2006

Home of the Wildland Firefighter
SUBJECT    (Previous Archive: Nov-06)

Return to Archives Page

11/30 Ab- A friend asked me to post this, blackliner:

To all-

I am currently involved with the development of a staff ride for the Battlement Creek fatality fire in Colorado on May 1 and 2. If anyone reading was involved with this fire as a participant or an investigator, I would truly appreciate hearing your perspective on the events surrounding this tragedy. I have all of the accident reports, but am lacking the “eye-witness” perspective to complete the picture.

Additionally, a heavy air tanker crash occurred in the area at the same time as the Battlement Creek fire. This event played an integral role in how the fire was managed. It would really add to the development of the staff ride to have input from any pilots, managers or investigators involved.

The effectiveness of staff rides as training tools is well documented. Any information or insight anyone involved has to offer will only improve the quality and educational value of this one.

I thank you all in advance. Your experience on this incident will provide a wealth of information. I can be contacted at slegarza @fs.fed.us or 970.799.1291.

I currently have more than enough people to develop and administer the staff ride, so, although appreciated, please only contact me if you were somehow involved with the fire, crash or the subsequent investigation.

Thank you,
Shawna Legarza
11/30 Regarding the USDA OIG report, the Gash Creek Fire Lessons Learned
(1,500 K pdf file) available from the Lessons Learned Center gives
some additional perspective on cost containment and wildland fire use. I don't
think that anyone at the OIG expects to have an IC pull productive resources
off a fire, but they do expect that looking at fires in a manner beyond keeping
it at minimal size might have some cost and resource benefits. Even in
areas with structures there are often strategies that can be employed that
may not minimize size but do actually give a greater chance of safely
containing the fire at a lower cost, or recognizing that it won't be
contained until the weather changes. Give the Gash Creek Analysis a read,
its worth the time.

Alaskan FMO
11/30 Mellie made this offer earlier today:

I'll send a beautiful pair of Holly Yashi Earrings to the person
whose pledge tops the $26,000 mark.

Thanks to everyone who is contributing. We're now more than halfway to the goal of $52,000.

And..., drumroll... the winner is Alison Rhynes... Alison. Keep an eye on your mailbox; they should be on their way tomorrow...

If anyone made a mistake on their pledge entry, a misspelling, or want to change the affiliation or honor your firefighter in that category, pledged $100 when you meant $1.00 (!!!), or hit the pledge button twice by mistake, let us know and we can fix it.

Please consider sending in your pledge now as a donation to make things simpler for the folks at the Foundation over the holidays. Paypal is always an option as well. Info and links for donating now are on the Pledge List page. Thanks, Ab.

11/30 made a little logo picture for holidays



11/30 To: “Another CDF BC”

Sir, I would like to thank you for your piece of 11/30 and would
love to shake your hand. As a 38 year wild land fire veteran, now
retired, I must say you GOT IT RIGHT and everyone should take
the time to read your piece.

DC, ret.
11/30 waiting for spring in nc

down here in sc it is the same -- so much overgrowth and dead junk ...
fires start and burn fast here ... stay safe

11/30 AB, Long time lurker, first time poster…

I don’t think the answer is to “sue the living hell out of the insurance companies.” That would be like suing gun manufactures because one of their weapons was involved in a murder.

In my opinion, the people at fault were the homeowners. I live in Western North Carolina and we have a lot of the same WUI issues that ya’ll face, homes built on steep slopes with Laurel and Rhododendron growing all the way up to the home. Homes built in box canyons, etc, and when I’m charged with defending these types of homes, the first thing I say to myself is who in the heck would put their house here???(Among with some other thoughts…)

Lets put the responsibility on the home owners, their the ones that built that house on the 15000 block of Gorgonio View. “A house in that location should never been built”. Lobotomy has a point, let’s raise the bar for the homeowners. When there is a death from an arson fire, there are felony charges, Why not felony charges when there is a death resulting in violation of the “Defensible Space” Law.

I may be way off course here, and please tell me if I am.

Thanks for your ears,
Waiting for Spring in NC

Godspeed Eng 57
11/30 BB,

One of the new products I have started seeing are the gels. I was introduced to one last year, and under a training scenario, we applied it to wood siding. We then held a plumber's torch directly to it. While it did start to char, it took upwards of five or more minutes for that to happen, and that was just to start charring, not full ignition. It was pretty impressive. Holding the flame several inches a way did absolutely nothing. While this is no scientific test, it was a common sense approach, and seemed convincing.

The thickness of the gel could be manipulated, and it "clung" to the surface very well. It was the consistency of elmers glue, or a thick paste. It was applied by a 1" line with an eductor similar to a yard sprayer for pesticides. The brand for our test was Barricade. I have attached a link that I looked up, and they even have some video. I think it work well with your concept of application and then leaving the area.


When I was on the Brins Fire in Sedona, AZ this year, a Type 6 engine from and INSURANCE COMPANY showed up with two guys. They were not assigned to the incident, but were there from the company to "protect" their insured client's homes. They did not stand and fight, rather, they shot this Barricade Gel all over the house, and then all over the year. Talk about a money shot!! The fire didn't end up burning through that neighborhood, but the two "workers" ( they stated they were not fire fighters) said it worked well. We had to leave the area about an hour later, but it was still clinging to the places it was applied.

Im not a sales rep, just a fire fighter, but I was impressed, and kind of gives you some of the info. you were asking for. Maybe someone else will attest to it or provide criticism.

Good luck with your research, let us know what you find out back here on They Said.

11/30 Ab,

We now have 33 entrapment fatality fires mapped in GoogleEarth.

Attached is a jpg of the Banning area showing Esperanza, Mack 2 and Bailiff fatality sites - all within 3 miles of one another. (It's a guess of sorts for the Bailiff location, from a crude map in the Mack 2 report.)

vfd cap'n
11/30 We're only $315 off from the halfway mark of the pledge goal of $52,000. Pledges keep on rolling in. Way to go, everyone.

I appreciate seeing links to the 52 ultra walk popping up on fire business websites. Very fine. The word is spreading. Please let your vendors know.


11/30 I like jimhart's idea of restricting the building in known fire corridors. A fire corridor is as easy to identify as a flood plain, but the designation has been largely ignored by insurance industry.

Another CDF BC noted the amount of time required when a notice of violation is issued under the Public Resources code. As the regulations are currently enforced a PRC violation is simply a "fix it" ticket that will require a second inspection to see if the violations were corrected and then a 3rd inspection if the violator flunked again. The process is entirely too time consuming and labor intensive.

I take issue with the statement that 90% of the homes lost in wildfires are in Southern California. 3 of the 20 most destructive wildfires in terms of structure loss in California occurred in Northern California in Shasta County ( The Fountain Fire, The Canyon Fire and the Jones Fire) . California is not alone when it comes to suffering huge structure loss. The Hayman Fire in Colorado (133 homes) and the Cerro Grande Fire in New Mexico (235 homes) indicate the trend of exponentially increasing structure losses as more and more people move into the wildland.

The fact that these losses are occurring in so many different States and jurisdictions points out the need for change from the old way of doing business. Its not good enough to have each community or County establishing its own fire safe regulations. I have listened to the call for fireproof construction...No shake roofs, boxed eaves non flammable decks... since the Bel Aire Fire in LA in 1961 and the number of homes lost and the risk to firemen only seems to increase every year.

The Insurance companies are multi state, multi jurisdictional entities. They and the individual owners create the hazard, and they are ones who should bear the brunt of abating that hazard.


11/30 CDF-BC;

In our area here in (very) rural northern NV, some of my neighbors are unable to get fire insurance at any price, due to distance from any sort of fire protection, even if they live within a FPD.

How about, if the homeowner has done some long-term abatement and self-protection (screen vents, screen under porches and eves, gravel around landscape timbers, etc.) they are able to buy wildland-fire-only insurance?

Just bouncing ideas. Anybody...anybody...?

11/30 Hi Ab:

I am looking for any any research material or practical experiences on applying class A foam to structures with a standard proportioning system in a WUI setting. I am interested in recommendations on nozzle types; hose line size and application ratios. I am also interested in any research or experiences regarding the longevity of the finished foam product on vertical surfaces in a windy, dry environment. As a member of an organization with a significant WUI exposure we are looking at alternatives to the stereotypical “Stand and Fight” style of structure protection when conditions are not in our favor. Our thoughts are to develop a standardized “Foam and Go” evolution that could lessen the exposure to our personnel. I am sure that this is not a novel approach and many of you out there have thoughts and experiences on this.


BB (another one)

11/30 jimhart;

Very good analysis. I feel your pain, Brother. I think an unduly high percentage of our accidents this year in particular stem from the root of trying to protect homes, even if those events happened a long way from the dwellings. At New York Peak, we were trying to keep the fire north of the only road between the south flank and Leonard Creek Ranch, which was a couple miles away, downwind, in the bottom of a drainage with no real room to maneuver close to the buildings. Good strategy ( keep the fire clear away from homes, etc. ) but obviously, things went very wrong.

My engine crew spent most of this season helping to try to turn fire away from Elko and Carlin, NV, often doing some pretty dicey things. Noone was hurt on the incidents we worked around that area ( thanks Big Ernie ), and again, excellent strategy, but a BLM engine crew was trapped a little later in the year, doing exactly that; helping hold fire away from the edge of Elko.

re: Jeff Barnard's AP article; Oregon a leader in helping communities protect themselves? Maybe, but check out the building codes around the East aspect of the Cascades of central Oregon. Some of them are ridiculous, and some are downright suicidal. Much like Incline Village, NV, Mt. Charleston, NV, etc.

Point is, I think crew injuries and losses due to structure protection operations are even greater than we see. The strategy of keeping unstoppable fire away from populated areas is undeniably sensible, given current building and landscaping/ weed abatement codes. So, what has to change? CODES AND ENFORCEMENT!

Bottom line, I'm p***ed about this problem, have been for many years ( since Paint Fire ). Tired of being REactive to this ( new guidelines, training, etc. All good, but stopgaps ); its time to get PROactive. After all, that's one piece of common ground throughout the fire community. Instead of thinking in terms of Why Not ( reserved for snivelers ), we think How To, often in seemingly impossible situations. That's why we're on the hill trying to accomplish something while still keeping our people intact, instead of sitting in a window seat at the local HoJo's watching the smoke and quarterbacking.

So the question is, how can a lowly apolitical ENGB help support a major change in construction industry, real estate industry, and resident's attitudes toward responsibility? I've been dwelling on this for years, and still don't have the answers. There are a lot of us out here, motivated and looking for a way to make a change for the better, but don't know enough about how the system works or where to start, and too busy trying to keep the kids alive to take the time to learn, but still ready to jump on the bandwagon if someone who knows where to go is driving!

Abs, sorry about the length of the tirade.

Open to ideas, and looking for leadership.

11/30 Rouge Rivers wrote:

“I think that the families of the firefighters who were killed on the Esperanza Fire should sue the living hell out of the insurance company that insured the house on the 15000 block of Gorgonio View. A house in that location should never been built. Insurance companies are balancing financial risk vs. gain, while firefighters are balancing public safety and community protection vs. safety and protection of natural resources.”

The potential implications for this kind of action would be huge. If there is enough support (both emotional and financial) for this kind of action in the firefighting community, it is a path worth investigating. There appears to be possible support from other interests as well.

An offline discussion would be productive.


11/30 Jim-

I've read some of your posts in the past and have found them to be interesting-most of the time I don't have any issues with them. Your latest piece on what needs to be done in the wake of the Esperanza Fire was equally interesting, but I think there is a little more to the problem. I know I'll miss a few key points, but offer the following as a start:

In my nearly 30 years of service, I have observed the following fighting fires here in California. Without exception, it has been my personal experience that there has always been a WUI or a WEZ (new to me). I worked for good aggressive supervisors and others not so. My opinion? I prefer the more aggressive type and view them as "safer" overall. It is too long of a concept to try and articulate here, but it makes sense to me for some reason. Basically, you can survive a boring dead assignment with an aggressive supervisor, but you'll have an interesting time in a hot piece of line with someone doesn't "like" to fight fire-face it-there are those types out there (and what a miserable time inside they must have).

I don't see a need to change any of the fire orders. Let's face it, they are the guidelines we live by and by some unfortunate circumstance or wrong decision I make as a firefighter, I know up front that those rules will be cited for acts or omissions on my part. No one factor ever results in a fatality or injury. If you had the ability to go back in time and be there and see it, taste it, or smell it with the crew, then we could all have the perfect Monday morning QB session-one thing though, those perspectives would be all based on one common ideal: Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities and therefore it is doubtful that any one observation would be exactly the same-right?

In the specific case of the CDF, it is my humble opinion that this department is NOT serious about fuels and hazard reduction. I point to the following:

1. The Resource Management side of CDF is not staffed to perform this work in any serious capacity. There is basically no staff to do these inspections or fuels treatment. The idea that the suppression side of the department is expected to do this work from engine companies is not realistic. I can't tell you how many Governor proclamations have been issued directing the 2nd engines at two engine stations to perform defensible space inspections. This simple and straightforward directive simply ignores reality of what a day in the life of a CDF engine company looks like in many areas with all of the added "non-recognized" mission creep.

In the last 25 years CDF has lost in the order of 10 strike teams worth of engines, many bulldozers, eliminated fire crews, closed stations. We have completely wiped out everyone of our remaining 77 fire lookouts (at a cost of only $770K) The Day fire cost $77 MILLION! All of these cuts, yet the fires become more complex every year (or at least more frequent anyway).

2. PRC-4291 was changed in January of 2005 primarily as a result of the insurance industry. It has been my understanding that the department had very little if any input into the amended language of that bill. I think one could easily draw the connection to this by the long delay of implementation and numerous Board of Forestry and Fire Protection hearings to try and develop some rules that the field could use to enforce the law. Enforce is an interesting concept here too-in that there is basically none of that going on from what I can tell. All I hear about inside the bureaus is the term "Educate" and don't cite. Make an inspection, note the violations, give the landowner 10 days to fix, re-inspect, give another 10 days, visit for a citation-if you have people available to do that. Go to court in 60 days after the rain starts-have case dismissed or fine (negligible) suspended. I don't think so in my humble opinion.

What needs to happen is to inspect ONE TIME, note violation on citation, cancel insurance policy immediately until violation is cleared. If the state is unwilling or unable to HIRE ADDITIONAL inspectors, have the insurance industry fund this through a fee, or better yet, allow CDF to keep fire recovery costs to fund these additional pre-fire positions. I'm not buying into the education aspect as a method to gain compliance with PRC 4291. Plain and simple: Fines, Cancelled Insurance Policies, maybe even a court ordered "Non-Protect" sign to be posted in the yard.

3. The environmentalists in this state have made any serious attempt to manage fuels very difficult. Even differing state agencies have conflicting rules on the subject. There needs to be a categorical exemption amendment to CEQA for this work. I should not have to go through a long time consuming checklist to get this work done. I have always been perplexed by the concept that we do nothing because of a species (say elderberry) yet we all know that the wildfire that ensues will come with complete and utter destruction over the entire area-it will burn the Elderberry too. In the end, all of the native plants will recover, after all, they are native to the lands. This environmental piece is very broken. The CEQA surveys make private property owners paranoid about what may be found on the property (plants, arch sites, ect) and the potential elimination of future use because there is a permanent recording made of them. After that the person is subject to disclosure in real estate transactions, etc.. which affects property values.

It is easier to wait for the fire than to spend your time getting beat up.

Finally, there is a certain amount of risk that we accept in the firefighting business. Even after all the checklists, even after all the briefings, even after all the observations....sometimes (and fortunately rarely) bad things happen to us. I personally don't think for one second that E57 crew went out on the house to die. Those guys went out there to do a job and I'm convinced they thought they had all the bases covered or they wouldn't have done it. From everything I've seen here on They Said about the Captain, he was a good hand and definitely experienced and knowledgeable about the area-what more could you want. If I had gone into there, he is exactly the "Local" person I would have looked up to get local factors info.

Even if you were able to "take on the building industry" as you suggest, what about the millions of "existing-non-conforming" structures out there. I'm sorry, but as a public safety servant, it is my duty to at least make an assessment of those structures using my KSAs and act accordingly. Sometimes we leave them, but most of the time we do not.

If I get injured or killed doing it, someone needs to investigate it, try to learn from it what they can, and move on. At that point I will have become a member of a unique group of firefighters unfortunately. I know I'll be Monday morning QB'ed, blamed for something I forgot, and beat up. I know this going in-and I get paid a living to do it. I accept it willingly and hope that it doesn't happen and I am afforded an opportunity to retire at a relatively young age and have my health and fond memories of a career well done serving the citizens I am sworn to protect.

"Another CDF BC"
11/30 So,

The way I read the USDA OIG financial audit, it is directing the agency towards letting more fires burn (and the FS dropped the ball and agreed again without a true study of risk vs. gain based upon the talking head reply)... aka Wildland Fire Use... also often disguised as "financial management" at the risk of firefighter safety.

This is the first time the hidden financial agenda has been revealed where everyone could see and predict the outcome and future outcomes.

Read the report and all the press coverage and come to your own conclusions. After you read the report, think about the folks from the Krassel accident and the folks who were involved in another near tragedy burnover to "manage" fires. Lots of discussion needs to happen before the FS takes the recommendations of OIG as fact and institutes new policy by coercion.

Those of you that don't remember, OIG is once again stepping way outside their experience level.... and once again... they are making changes in the way we all do business that will eventually relate to increased risks to firefighters. WO, this is your time to say BS if you have any huevos... if not... the community of wildland firefighters who have suffered the losses will not take the BS anymore.

Wildland Fire Use has its appropriate application... not at the risks of firefighters or the communities they protect.

Sign Me...

Wake Up...

11/30 I agree with jimhart that we can improve our training. He wrote in part:

"I’m wondering if there is still a subconscious influence about protecting structures that may have an impact on how we approach wildfires within the WEZ. This is an area where including a human behavior component in training would be helpful."

This will be very helpful in the implementation of new Doctrine which relies on good professional judgment as the recent R-1 document reflects. Check out the training described for the Navy in this article, "Integrated Critical Thinking Training and Decision Support for Tactical Anti-Air Warfare" at www.cog-tech.com/papers/DSS/C2paperDSS_Columns6.pdf (62 K pdf)

I note that they were able in this training to reduce coherence shifts (the human mind gives too much weight to ambiguous inconclusive evidence as it supports a first impression and gets to an emerging decision), but we can be trained to avoid this, just like we can reduce coherence shifts in juries by 50% with appropriate instructions.

The Navy's "quick check" and other decision processes allow for decisions to be improved in fast or slow real time (so they don't shoot down a neutral or civilian or non-threat by accident as they have in the past).

The "planning fallacy" in which we tend to under estimate the time needed to complete a task is also something we need to teach people to recognize.

There are a dozen or more cognitive problems we need to teach to improve our decision making and I do not see such training available.

I will get in touch with NWCG when I get back - going Elk hunting in the snow and single-digit temperatures tomorrow morning.

Old Sawyer.

11/30 Re the Inspector General's Audit (Audit: Let more wildfires burn, get more money from states):

The audit urged the Forest Service to train more personnel to assess and monitor wildfires for the practice known as wildland fire use, and hold wildfire incident commanders and line officers accountable for controlling costs.

I can hear it now...

on EA:
IC: Do we/don't we order that heavy? Do we/don't we order that handcrew?
And in the meantime the fire that could have been picked up on EA ESCAPES and goes on to get really big! Oops, sorry community...

in the middle of a going and blowing fire:
IC: I fear we're exceeding our budget. We need to demobe resources x, y, and z. I don't care if they're still being effective. If we don't release them, I will face legal investigations that go on for years, and even if I don't loose my job, my attention will be diverted from my job for the duration.

You know and I know, We do our best to control the budget. The parts that are a problem are not within our control... Mother Nature and too many people living in fire prone areas! Give me a break!

Tahoe Terrie

11/30 Ab,

Just a correction for:

Bill Lafferty, fire program manager for the Oregon Department of
Forestry, noted in an email that one reason the Forest Service was
created in 1910 was to fight wildfires that were destroying whole

The actual date was 1905, but the catastrophic fires of 1910 did have a
huge influence on the Forest Service and its fire philosophy.


11/30 viejo,

Good points. I think that the families of the firefighters who were killed on the Esperanza Fire should sue the living hell out of the insurance company that insured the house on the 15000 block of Gorgonio View. A house in that location should never been built.

Insurance companies are balancing financial risk vs. gain, while firefighters are balancing public safety and community protection vs. safety and protection of natural resources.

A good hit on an insurance company would be a good precedent setting change for future firefighter safety.

For the most part, insurance companies empower financial lenders of people wanting to build in these areas. In almost all cases, when building or selling a home in these high risk areas, insurance is needed to complete the deal and is required throughout the life of the building loan or mortgage.

In some very rare instances, people very well off financially "self finance" and "self insure" in these areas, only to hold out a hand for the "public taxpayer trough" (aka FEMA, etc) when their houses are burned down in areas that they never should have been built in the first place. The insurance industry has one of the largest and most powerful lobbying efforts in the country.... they often influence political subdivisions and elected officials ideas of where it is SAFE to build.

One of the greatest travesties is the federal government compensating people to rebuild in these same areas and eventually putting firefighters at risk again.... Don't get me wrong, I deeply feel for the folks who lose their houses each year.... I feel more deeply about the folks like the Esperanza Firefighters and Destry Horton... folks who were lost this year protecting structures.... More education needs to be done on human factors all the way around (Firefighters and the communities they protect).... it is all about risk vs. gain and the unintended consequences.

jimhart, excellent post!!

Rogue Rivers
11/30 From a news article circulating today:

Andy Stahl of the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics agreed that more wildfires should be allowed to burn, but disagreed that protecting homes was driving up costs.

"Ninety percent of the homes lost to wildland fire are located in one tiny part of the country, Southern California," said Stahl. "So home loss is simply not a particularly significant issue where we fight most wildfires. To Southern California's credit, they are doing a lot, certainly more than anywhere else, to make their communities fire resistant."


I am a little tired of people pointing fingers at Southern California without having their facts straight. Here are the correct figures for Mr. Stahl and anyone who reads that article and questions where he got his figures... I did.

Two points of contention: 1) His statement on percentages of homes lost is incorrect, and 2) His statement, "So home loss is simply not a particularly significant issue where we fight most wildfires" is fatally flawed. He obviously doesn't know where "we" fight wildfires..... nationwide.


From the figures available from FAMWEB (NICC) as of November 29, 2006

Homes lost to wildfires 2006:

Alaska - 2 (0.27%)
Alabama - 20 (2.77%)
Arizona - 4 (0.55%)
California - 139 (19.28%)
Colorado - 7 (0.97%)
Florida - 12 (1.66%)
Idaho - 3 (0.42%)
Kansas - 4 (0.55%)
Kentucky - 6 (0.83%)
Maryland - 3 (0.42%
Michigan - 4 (0.55%)
Minnesota - 4 (0.55%)
Missouri - 1 (0.14%)
Mississippi - 17 (2.36%)
Montana - 51 (7.07%)
North Carolina - 3 (0.42%)
Nebraska - 14 (1.94%)
New Mexico - 18 (2.50%)
Nevada - 4 (0.55%)
Oklahoma - 112 (15.53%)
Oregon - 7 (0.97%)
Pennsylvania - 1 (0.14%)
South Carolina - 7 (0.97%)
South Dakota - 9 (1.25%)
Tennessee - 4 (0.55%)
Texas - 240 (33.29%)
Utah - 2 (0.27%)
Washington - 17 (2.36%)
West Virginia - 2 (0.27%)
Wyoming - 4 (0.55%)

Total: 721 Homes Lost Nationwide.

The agenda and misrepresentation of "facts" by that group has come up in discussion before... Ab.

11/29 I believe the Tenth Standard Fire Order should be changed to:

Having provided for safety, fight the fire intelligently.

(I can't claim to have originated this nor do I recall who I heard if from)

Midwest Fire Guy
11/29 Sent in by Firescribe:

Audit: Let more wildfires burn, get more money from states
11/29/2006, 6:11 p.m. PT
The Associated Press

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A federal audit says the U.S. Forest Service should let more wildfires burn and demand that state and local governments pick up a bigger share of firefighting costs that regularly top $1 billion a year.

The audit released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's inspector general said Forest Service personnel feel that protecting private property where cities meet forests, known as the wildland-urban interface, accounts for more than half of Forest Service firefighting costs, which have exceeded $1 billion in three of the past six years.

Produced at the request of the Forest Service, the audit said that by picking up so much of the cost of fighting wildfires, the Forest Service was taking away incentives homeowners would have to take responsibility for protecting their homes in the woods.

And because state and local governments control development in the wildland-urban interface, they should bear a greater share of the costs, the audit added.

"We are pleased with the results and hope to have all the recommendations in place for the 2007 fire season," Forest Service spokeswoman Jennifer Plyler said from Washington, D.C. "It's something we looked at and felt we needed some outside help to decide how to approach it."

Many western forests evolved with fire, but the Forest Service has long put out all the fires it could, despite recognizing for many years that this led to an unnatural buildup of fuels that has increased the size and severity of wildfires.

The audit said current Forest Service policy calls for giving equal consideration to putting out fires and letting them burn to reduce buildups of brush and small trees, but outside pressure and a lack of trained personnel make it difficult to choose to let fires burn. It noted that only 2 percent of wildfires from 1998 through 2005 were allowed to burn for ecological benefit.

The audit urged the Forest Service to train more personnel to assess and monitor wildfires for the practice known as wildland fire use, and hold wildfire incident commanders and line officers accountable for controlling costs.

The Forest Service should also ask Congress to decide who has primary responsibility for protecting homes in the woods, and if that turns out to be the states, renegotiate its firefighting agreements with them.

Bill Lafferty, fire program manager for the Oregon Department of Forestry, noted in an email that one reason the Forest Service was created in 1910 was to fight wildfires that were destroying whole towns.

Mike Carrier, natural resources adviser to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, objected to the idea of states paying a greater share when they already spend millions on protecting private property from wildfire. He said Oregon has been a leader in helping communities reduce local wildfire danger, and that the underlying problem remains the huge buildup of forest fuels.

Andy Stahl of the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics agreed that more wildfires should be allowed to burn, but disagreed that protecting homes was driving up costs.

"Ninety percent of the homes lost to wildland fire are located in one tiny part of the country, Southern California," said Stahl. "So home loss is simply not a particularly significant issue where we fight most wildfires. To Southern California's credit, they are doing a lot, certainly more than anywhere else, to make their communities fire resistant."(click link at the top to read the rest)

fair use disclaimer

11/29 Nice pledging everyone! Over $2,000 today.

Lori, are you collecting raffle items? I got a few good ones donated,
make nice presents for girlfriends/wives.


11/29 From Firescribe:

Revealing map showing all the CA fires over 200 acres (except Esperanza)

http://gacc.nifc.gov/oscc/predictive/intelligence/news_notes/Over200acres_111706.pdf (4173 K pdf)

11/29 Interesting Article: Yes it all happens in today's world.

Rockaway Twp. hires lawyer to defend fire chief
State police won't back down on arrest of fire official at crash scene

11/29 jimhart,

You described the issue so well. Let us know if you need geospatial support of your crusade. The San Bernardino National Forest conducted a spatial analysis about 10 years ago. This information is available.

Fire Geek
11/29 Note from OA at the WLF Store:

I regret to say we've run out of the CA-BDF-E57 Always Remember Decals and are waiting for the new shipment to arrive from the printer. If you have placed an order and your order number is WLF-615 or higher, we apologize, but it will be delayed. We expect the new shipment by the beginning of next week. We will not process your payment information until we ship the order. OA
11/29 I suppose it is part of the healing process, but my sadness over our loss last month is quickly turning into anger. I’ve always refrained from sending out anything I write when I am in moods like this, but I’ve decided I need to do so anyway. I need some perspectives here before I try to implement changes in the system…and yes I have the determination to do that. Just to be clear up front, my growing anger is over the continual expectation that wildland firefighters put their lives on the line to protect poorly designed structures and the failure of the political leadership to prevent the construction of homes in high risk areas.

Shortly after the Esperanza fire Class C wrote, “…but something seems to have fundamentally changed with respect to either attitude, fuel loading, or weather that has led to a lot of "freak events" this season.”

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this myself, with friends who have been in the fire service all their lives, and with those who know details about the Esperanza incident much better than I. We’ve asked ourselves if things really are different or if it is just our closeness to the situation that makes it seem so.

Our conclusion is yeah, something is different while another is that it's merely the expansion of a cancerous public attitude.

What’s different? Wildland firefighters are going to places to fight fires where we never did before. We are placing themselves in positions that would have never been considered in the past, immediately upslope from a fire with green in between us and a structure we are attempting to protect.

What’s the cancerous attitude? Growing public expectations that firefighters will protect every structure within the WEZ (the “Wildland Entrapment Zone,” formerly known as the WUI or wildland/urban interface) no matter the cost.

We need to fix these things by conducting a readjustment in how we think about wildfire within the WEZ (something most of us have known for the last 20 years).

Here’s what needs to be done:

  1. The tenth Standard Firefighting Order should be modified as follows: Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first because it’s OK to let other people’s stuff burn.
  2. There are going to be structures, no matter what is done in or around them, that will never be safe for firefighters to be near in a wildfire. We all know the determining variable; structures at the top of a fire chimney or within a known fire corridor. Although building codes are improving, houses are still being built within known fire corridors and in physical locations that literally beg to be burned during an extreme event. These structures need to be permanently red flagged, mandating that firefighters are NOT allowed to go there to engage in structure protection.
  3. The State-required 100 feet of fuel management needs to be done properly. What does this mean? It does NOT mean taking a chipper and grinding the landscape down to 6 inches or less (usually less) and then going away. All that is doing is creating environments where massive amounts of fine fuels (weeds and grasses) are encouraged to grow. The 100 foot zone (or whatever distance people want to demand based on science, not suppositions) needs to contain appropriate vegetative cover that will prevent the growth of fine fuels and will provide sufficient green to act as a buffer to embers and as a heat sink to the flame front. The two events I am familiar with (the burnovers in Pioneertown during the Sawtooth fire and the Esperanza) had three things in common:
    • flames being driven by strong winds moving upslope,
    • active structure protection, and

    It was the volatile mix of these fine fuels that allowed the flames to move so fast. We’ve got to change our focus from generalized clearance recommendations to specific requirements that specify how to create proper vegetative cover in order to prevent weed growth. And no, this doesn’t mean irrigation and fields of ice plant. Ultimately this will fail because down the line water will become the limiting factor. It takes some work, but properly managed, low-water use, fire-safe landscaping is possible. This approach also allows a homeowner retain the surrounding, low-maintenance, native vegetation (properly thinned) instead of creating a moonscape requiring yearly weed abatement.

  4. Every house within the WEZ (“Wildland Entrapment Zone”) must be constructed out of non-flammable materials. No wooden decks, no wooden roofing, no wooden siding, no wooden patio furniture, no open eaves. If not, as stated earlier here by AD, houses should be “treated like any other fuel and go for the best, and safest, firefighting strategy regardless of where the "fuels" are located.” I don’t know why vegetation has become the default focus with home ignition variables treated as afterthoughts, but I suspect it is because our leaders don’t have the guts to take on the building industry. I don’t want to believe that vegetation management budgets have anything to do with this myopic focus on clearance, but that’s something we need to be honest about. Yeah, I know retrofitting a house can be expensive, but let’s put things into perspective. Yearly maintenance of the weed lot that people are creating around their homes now due to improper clearance activities gets really expensive over time. On top of that, it just doesn’t get done much of the time. Then we are back again to enforcement issues and the creation of massive amounts of fine fuels. Viejo suggested that we should let the insurance companies be the enforcers here. Well, that might be a workable solution IF insurance companies follow rational clearance needs, but they generally don’t. I personally know of cases where they required their clients to clear 500-1000 feet. That is ridiculous, although it was likely just a pretext to dump the client. Even some of us in the fire business need to be kept in check. San Diego County planning staff is using inappropriate fuel models to require 200 feet of clearance regardless of the situation. Blanket numbers may be easy in the short run, but we’ll pay for it later with an increase in fine fuels, erosion, and landscape damage. I don’t want to harp on this natural resource issue, but honestly folks, we are on the front line of protecting what natural open space we have left. Most of us got into this business because we love the outdoors. It makes me sick to see thousands of acres of natural stuff get eliminated just because people are too lazy (or greedy) to do it right.
  5. If any firefighter is killed or injured defending a structure within the WEZ, the owner and/or builder will be held criminally responsible if it is found that #3 and #4 were not properly implemented and were the determining factors in the firefighter death or injury. This way post-mortem fire investigations will be looking in the right direction if there is a desire to place blame, instead of forcing all of us to get liability insurance just to do our job.

Outside of these changes, I wondering if there are some mind sets within the fire service that need changing as well. We are trained that safety is first and that no life is worth a house, but I’m wondering if there is still a subconscious influence about protecting structures that may have an impact on how we approach wildfires within the WEZ. This is an area where including a human behavior component in training would be helpful.

Maybe we can take a cue from Jeff Bowman, the former San Diego city fire chief. He personally went to the San Diego community of Tierrasanta long before the Cedar fire and told residents that there will be homes the fire department would let burn for lack of resources or firefighter risk. After everyone got over the initial shock, most of them began to understand. Some wildfires can not be put out and only those structures built and maintained properly will have a chance of surviving, because chances are, wildland firefighters will not be there. And they shouldn’t be there because they have a job to do; fighting the actual fire instead of squirreling around with homes that shouldn’t have been built in the first place.


11/29 Dear Ab,

I wish you could be in our office and read the cards and letters that come in. They make my eyes leak.. We got an envelope yesterday with a $1.00 in it, on the outside a little 5 year old boy wrote his name, Brandon. He is from Southern California. How young to learn to give.

As Christmas time is coming, I thought, "Boy, in the winter those Eldorado Shots and other wildland firefighters have a hard time trying to tell folks about what wildland firefighters do." So I thought one message should be, "These are the wildland guys that save your natural, native, in-the-wild Christmas trees across the nation. Probably save some of those Christmas trees you're selling too." Well, it works for me. In my mind, they're a national treasure -- No Tinsel, unless you see their Essence in the walk they walk.

I really want this Eldorado 52 Walk to be a successful event… not just for the funds that will be coming to support families of our future injured and fallen (perish the thought of future fallen...), but because of the healing and hard work these firefighters have endured since their burnover on the New York Peak fire. Being able to create a successful event like the 52 Walk helps on the road to creating as full a recovery as is possible. As most know, recovering takes effort and often endurance, lots of "walking the walk", with successes along the way. 

Community, please help in any way you can, especially by contacting companies you do business with for purchasing firefighter supplies, fire equipment and services. I am not talking about private sector firefighting companies that have crews; they have supported this foundation in a big way long before most folks knew we existed. I mean businesses in your communities and businesses you buy from at a distance, suppliers of fire equipment, etc. These companies have had a very profitable year. They can afford to give some to the fire community's safety net. This 52 Mile Ultra Walk event is a perfect reason for contacting them with such a request. In fact, I'm sure the companies would support us if they knew they could do it through this event as a donation but with their name up in lights on the pledge list. They can think of it as "good will" advertising if they choose. Please help where you can and contact who you can, so that we can take care of each other.

What will the 52 Mile Ultra Walk be like? Who will be there besides the Shots? We have Dan Holmes' mother coming from New Mexico, and John Greeno's wife from SoCal, and Heather DePalo's mother from New York. We hope more families can make it to the 52 Mile Walk. Maybe even an Ab... Hope to see all of you there. You can sign up on the Eldorado hotshot 52 mile walk page. We know some won't walk the whole way. We won't, but we'll do what we can and we'll cheer a lot.

On another note, our Foundation -- meaning ALL of us  -- is continuing to help in many ways. Two examples... First, we'll be sending out some early Christmas money for kids' presents. We're trying to do this every year to help fallen firefighter families through tough times that always occur around the holidays. Second, Burk contacted Juan Estrada yesterday; he is a Vista Grande Hot Shot and he is dying of cancer. He has two kids and a baby son coming in 7 days. He has said he wants to hang on until his son is born. He is sending us a letter to be put in a card for his wife and kids to open when they go to Sea Land or Disneyland next summer, hosted by the 52 Club.

Thank you Wildland Fire Community. Soooooooooo many many of you have helped us way beyond the call of compassion

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

There's lots of great new info on the Eldorado hotshot 52 mile walk page. Food, t-shirts, kids activities, raffles. (Still could use raffle items.) Pledges are going very well. Consider pledging and sending in your donation at the same time. Get businesses you buy from to do the same. Let the Foundation know it's for the 52 Walk. I did. Saves work later while letting the pledge show up as we work toward the goal. Ab.

11/28 Here is some good news for a change. Been working on getting this
implemented for several years. My advice, be persistent and change for the
good will happen, eventually.



File Code: 6150
Date: November 28, 2006
Subject: Hotshot Squad Leader Standard Position Description
To: Forest Supervisors

A new standard position description (SPD) for Hotshot Squad Leader positions has been developed for use at the Region 6 field level. This new SPD is a result of a classification review conducted on Region 6 Hotshot Squad Leaders. This follows previous studies on the Smokejumper Squad Leader and Engine Captain positions. The classification review concluded the appropriate classification for Hotshot Squad Leader positions is Forestry Technician,
GS-462-7, which results in an upgrade from the current GS-6 grade level.

We will be coordinating with the Washington Office to incorporate this position description into the national system. Until that time, the Region 6 SPD should be used for assignments of all Hotshot Squad Leaders in Region 6. Encumbered positions will be upgraded to the GS-7 level based on accretion of duties, i.e., the promotions will be non-competitive.

The new SPD is in the ADS (AVUE) classification section with the Region 6 SPD number of R6A084. Please contact your servicing Human Resources office for direct access to this position description. Contacts to this office should be directed to Al Anderson, (503) 808-2637, or aanderson02@fs.fed.us.

/s/ Shari L. Blakey
Director, Human Resources

/s/ J.A. Kendall Snell
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

11/28 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. Ab.
11/28 Re prc 4291, defensible space law:

Lobotmy , you can pass the clearance laws, but the public agencies in California
have demonstrated they cannot enforce the law. There are simply too many houses
and it is too labor intensive to inspect and force compliance.

The onus on compliance has got to be shifted to the insurance companies.

I think a clause that declares the policy null and void if the building is found in
non compliance would do a lot more than a "clean up your property notice".


11/28 Swimming Upriver/Fire Dog

Guess I've had my head in the smoke the past 20 years. I thought the ICS/NIIMS debate was old hat. When it first came out I remember a conversation with a gentleman that was struggling with it till he said he figured out it was little different than how an Army battalion is set up but with different names. In 1997 we used it for a flood. ICS is little more than division of labor/functions. The Mayor was the IC. I was OPS since I was the only one of the 100+ that had ever sandbagged before. Fire Hall was the ICP. Food Unit was the Salvation Army. Technical Specialist ran around town marking elevation for river crest so we knew where and how high to sand bag. I was also Com Unit since the FS supplied most of the radios. Those in the community that were recognized leaders (only training/qualification/certification was proven past performance as a leader) over the years were assigned tasks and work groups to accomplish the work (think STCR). City Maintenance staff were equipment operators and DOZB. We did not use any of the standard mnemonics but everyone knew what to do, where to do it and who to go to if they needed anything.

Not so long ago when I was teaching S-130 I would throw up an Org Chart of a Type 1 Incident. And then a Type 4 incident and talked about how ICS would allow you to grow or shrink the organization as needed. Key point when your talking to an RFD with 23 person membership.

Swimming Upriver said

The program also does not include a deep well of responders on staff… most folks working on NIMS have not been "out there" on initial response and so there is a big learning curve and many good intentions… most staff appear to come from the DHS &/or FEMA organizations in the DC area (FEMA rarely pays feds' moving expenses). Federal wildland fire agencies have been helping facilitate NIMS progress since 9/11 and possibly before.

Our local agency administrator took a job in DC the week before Katrina hit. The best thing about him leaving is he knows what a resource order is. Actually held it in his hand and been able to get to and from his assignment. I was able to visit with him this fall and he shared with me his frustrations of watching people in a room in DC trying to manage a distant incident and who had no idea of the dispatch and incident organization process.

Fire Dog said

To say no one got hurt because of the Fire Command system they used on Katrina and other incidents is not because of the system but because of the people in charge. That is the same for any profession!! ICS is only as effective as the IC, period.

Amen to that!!!!!!

Swimming Upriver said

I am constantly challenged by organizing non-firefighters to "saddle up" and get stuff done as they don't speak the same language.

If your spouse is ever in charge of a large funding raising event for school or church with lots of volunteers and logistic of Type 3 complexity. Leave town or risk damaging your marriage. ;-)

Small Agency Fire Guy

11/28 Had the pleasure to listen to Crow Bar give a speech to a Crewboss class for our new apprentices and other. Anthony, thank you for inspiring and lighting the fire in me to step up and look at myself to take the next step to become a better leader. This is the second time I have listened to one of his speech's and I have taken away so many new things to better educate myself to step up to the next level.

Thanks to Anthony and Killer for such a wonderful start to an important class for our new up and coming leaders.

11/28 -Swimming Upriver

Excellent and informative post regarding NIMS, NIIMS, NIC FEMA and any other letters I missed.

But I got to thinking about your “habits learned in wildland die hard” comments. As I sit here firmly on the downhill side of the timeline of my career I realized I have a few of those too.
  • Still make sure I have a generous supply of shroud line, space blanket, cribbage board and cards and an old tattered Louis L’amour book in my bag anywhere I go although I haven’t used any of them in years.
  • Still have a p38 on my key ring...haven’t used that in decades
  • I have to stop myself from only packing 1 set of socks/undies for every 2-3 days I plan on being gone figuring I can get by with that and need to keep under the weight limit.
  • Always hold one clean shirt and pants in reserve so I have something clean to wear home. ..I cant remember the last time I really got good and dirty.
  • Still keep a 20 tucked away at all times in my toilet bag. ..I guess that is still not a bad idea.

I’m sure more will come to mind...

Take care and be safe all


Put 'em on "Lessons Learned in Wildland Die Hard" After returning from fire season, I still back into my parking place... Ab.

11/28 I suppose a lot of us who have been around since before 1995 shake our heads a lot and ask "what's so new?" The Paint Fire (1990) and Oakland Hills (1991) should have disabused anyone who didn't think we had an interface problem. The 1994 season maybe took it up a notch when we lost so many people, not just at Storm King.

By the late 80s we had folks grumbling that we should just treat houses like any other fuel and go for the best, and safest, firefighting strategy regardless of where the "fuels" are located. Some old timers, at least in SoCal, see the change coming in the 1950s and 60s when fruit trees were cut down and replaced with homes. From their viewpoint, the orchards provided a protective band where the fires just layed down instead of marching on in to the community.

I guess the main difference is that well-connected entertainment types have been moving into the interface and are making noise for the media. That and MAYBE some in the public are finally getting the message.

Still Out there as an AD
11/28 >From the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Website:

"In January 2005 a new state law became effective that extended the defensible space clearance around homes and structures from 30 feet to 100 feet. Proper clearance to 100 feet dramatically increases the chance of your house surviving a wildfire. This defensible space also provides for firefighter safety when protecting homes during a wildland fire."

California Public Resources Code (PRC 4291) REQUIRES that homeowners provide defensible space for firefighters. The problem is, that PRC 4291 has only an infraction clause (not a misdemeanor or felony clause) that institutes a $100 to $500 dollar fine associated with it for homeowners who violate it regardless of a first, second, or a third citation.

In fact, those cited with it after a fire, may be able to fight the infraction and claim, "I met the rules of 4291.1(b)" and 'my fine must be now reduced to $50 because my property no longer meets the definition after the wildfire.'

Maybe the stakes need to be raised a little. How about homeowners who do not meet clearance standards as dictated by local law also face misdemeanor charges?... felony charges? ... rather than infraction citations and tax liens to correct hazardous actions?

We need to raise the bar..... either homeowners create defensible spaces, or firefighters simply don't protect those structures... and insurers don't insure them.

If a violation of PRC 4291 exists that the homeowner and the insurance company has been informed of, then both the homeowners and the insurers should both have civil and criminal liability if something goes bad and firefighters are injured or killed.


Specific CA PRC 4291 code spelled out.

11/27 On Brunacini, the WUI in '95, and backfiring your kitchen,

NIMS vs NIIMS vs Fire Ground Command – I'll have to read that Brunacini article; I am floored this debate is still around. I was under the impression that Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5) was meant to clear up this confusion by creating one (count 'em – one) "National Incident Management System". This does not mean there is a system for "small" incidents and then another for larger. As Willy's post explains, NIMS works in all-hazard stuff, for every day, etc etc. The direction of the new NIMS is the same – all-hazard. Unfortunately, however – progress has been slow as the program wasn't even really funded until this year and made due with detailers, searching for funds, etc. The program also does not include a deep well of responders on staff… most folks working on NIMS have not been "out there" on initial response and so there is a big learning curve and many good intentions… most staff appear to come from the DHS &/or FEMA organizations in the DC area (FEMA rarely pays feds' moving expenses). Federal wildland fire agencies have been helping facilitate NIMS progress since 9/11 and possibly before.

-- Of course, the National Fire Service Incident Management System Consortium (NFSIMS at www.ims-consortium.org) was created to bring together NWCG NIIMS and CA FIRESCOPE ideas with Fire Ground Command, and the debate ended several years ago there, with the FGC folks involved through the process. Furthermore, the NFSIMS just changed their name to "National Incident Management System Consortium" to become more all-hazard in their effort to educate the world on NIMS, and they have started to partner with the NIMS Integration Center (NIC, soon to be called the National Integration Center) at DHS-FEMA. (see www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/index.shtm)

-- As far as that goes, it looks like NWCG's NIIMS will continue to evolve in a partnership with the new NIMS as well (and be NIMS-compliant)… and NWCG is helping the NIC move forward cooperatively on NIMS work (for examples, see the NWCG Training Working Team minutes: www.fire.blm.gov/training/twt/sect_twt_minutes.php ...Oct 24-26 mtg minutes quote: "The NIC is focused on working together to build better products through partnerships to provide a better emergency response").

-- DHS-FEMA is getting a whole bunch of money in FY 07 and FY08 to work on this stuff (see recent DHS appropriations bill), including hiring lots of folks at FEMA (like really soon if not already). NIMS appears to be a major priority for FEMA. Many of these new jobs will be in FEMA regions… and I believe each FEMA region has a full-time NIMS specialist. It would be super excellent if wildland fire NIIMS type folks could go after some of these jobs, or some of the new jobs at the NIMS Integration Center at FEMA HQ in Washington, DC. Career Opportunities! Of course, there is probably not firefighter retirement. Details.

On WUI in 1995

Mellie – interesting reflections on the WUI in 1995. I am also not sure if the fire agencies were aware of the potential for the incredible WUI growth, but sociologists were well aware of demographic shifts from urban areas to suburbs and then exurbs. In the mid-90s, I studied forecasts for exponential population growth throughout the US in both suburban and exurban areas, correlating with an increase in WUI. Of course, this is when I really started to get involved with this site… I was so fired up about that threat (especially in terms of FFT safety) and invested the next few years of my life trying to get into the agencies to see if they were addressing these concerns in their policies… although somewhere in there I got sidetracked and veered a bit off course. Anyway, following the trend and the sociological demographic forecast, the WUI problem will only continue to exponentially increase, and it seems as if resource and fire management policy would be well served to include these factors (if they're not) in current strategies to prepare the workforce, training, budgets, mitigation, education, etc. that will be needed for this.

Also, it does look like there is support from above for the doctrine change discussed on the board. Standing by on that – believe it when I see it.

On backfiring the kitchen…

I have to say I've gotten a lot of mileage out of the "backfire the kitchen to save the livingroom" bit – had not heard about putting your kid on the garage roof as a lookout… excellent suggestion.

I find that many of the habits learned in wildland die hard – I never go anywhere without some type of wet wipe/hand wipe etc, tend to put nearly everything in Ziploc bags or little mini bags and pouches, carry water in Nalgene bottles to meetings where everyone is in dark suits, and have had to train myself not to pack knives in everything. I still have mini-flashlights everywhere, also collect dinner items for use later, carry extra food with me for the business day emergency, and kept my car "camping ready" until it sustained several break-ins. I am constantly challenged by organizing non-firefighters to "saddle up" and get stuff done as they don't speak the same language. I find it difficult to go on trips and not be fire-ready by having all my affairs in order "just in case", even though I know it's only a 2-day trip. Of course, I haven't actually been in a suppression role on a fire for several years. Silly. Practical training for life though, right? Or good training to be an eccentric? (Guess which answer is more likely?)

Be safe out there-

- Swimming Upriver
11/27 I too must sound off about Mr. Brunacinis' article. Being a Ca firefighter, I also take some offense at his rantings.

I understand that Phoenix has had a longstanding system that works internally for their applications, great. However, I went to New York on 9/11/01 and saw how the FDNY integrated into ICS, it was rough for the first few days. Their internal system worked great for their application but throw multi-agency operations in the mix and it struggled. I also went to Katrina, another discussion!! The point is we all need to work in an environment that has some commonality.

In 1970, Ca experienced a series of wildfires that made us realize that uncommon communications, tactics, equipment, and command structure WILL get someone killed, not to mention make us look silly to the taxpayers when we can't even talk to each other. FIRESCOPE was formed to study that very issue (FIRESCOPE was and still is a standing committee in CA). ICS was the product of that work.

What Mr. Brunacini also did not mention, is that ICS CAN be modified to fit the need of the incident. It is the basic structure that should not be modified. So, yes, it can be used (and is used very successfully in CA) for everyday structure fires, etc.

Accountability is how your agency chooses to use it. The basic IAP serves as an initial accountability system with line supervision responsible for maintenance.

To say no one got hurt because of the Fire Command system they used on Katrina and other incidents is not because of the system but because of the people in charge. That is the same for any profession!! ICS is only as effective as the IC, period.

His statement that the Federal Govt has only been in the incident command business for a few years is an over-reaching statement that we all know is completely false. Agencies that don't use any incident command system at all will soon be removed from any large incident if they continue to "run amok".

I also disagree with his statement that Type 1 or 2 teams cannot run a major, non-fire disaster. We in Ca have been doing it for years (fire, flood, quake, exotic new-castle disease, etc) I do not claim we in Ca are perfect, far from it, but I will say that after traveling all over the country and seeing what is out there, I am proud of what we have and where the Nation is going for standardization. We have and will continue to make it the best system out of necessity.


11/27 On Nick Brunacini's thoughts-

I think it's a healthy exercise that we thrash this one every 4-5 yrs, kind of like the "which boot is best" topic every spring...

My first exposure to Firescope was in the mid 70's, when to get the training in norcal, you had to travel to Redding and attend the "Charlie and Lanky" show for 8+ hrs. You got your cert. and on exiting the door all of the supes (foremen?) were mumbling "They can call this whatever they want, just tell me who the 'Line Boss' is." By the end of the next fire season, it seemed like repetition had taken hold and other than a few "misspeaks" on the radio, the new system was up and running. Like "Old AK" I think the 3 bar Bullard in the garage still says "sector boss" on it.

The initial days of the Alpine Meadows avalanche rescue in 1983 were run on a loosely based ICS model due to the Snow Ranger- Don Huber- being the first IC and a lot of "between season" Hobart H S guys participating in the rescue, either from the Alpine Meadows or USFS side. The system worked, an "all risk" application?

Flash ahead a couple of decades, times flies etc., to this fall. In the month of Oct., within an 8 mi. circle we had a late season urban interface event - with red, yellow, green and white units responding in the middle of the night. ICS positions and assignments all given over the radio and everyone dropped into and did their jobs. Multi-jurisdictional, unified command - no homes lost and everybody went to breakfast safely. Within a few days half of the same agencies responded to a 4th alarm structure fire in the middle of downtown with multi-fatalities. Again ICS positions and assignments given during IA were followed (no doubt in my mind who the line boss was) and a lot of "ex-green" firefighters worked side by side on an inner city "career event" fire.

For the next week the salvage/overhaul and body recovery in the building was run on a classic ICS structure, with an ICP, IAP and "technical specialists" being brought in whenever necessary. The IC did not have to be an authority on every single phase of an operation. The same individuals who function as wildland IC's and OPSC on local and natl. teams ran the show, or participated in the process. One more time, the system worked.

I guess it never hurts to do a "system evaluation" on a regular basis, it's always easier when it's raining and there's always room for improvement...

Remember that when a better mousetrap is invented, the bureaucracy will regulate a way to screw it up...

Be safe out there-


Hey Wheel- still playing mandolin?

11/27 The things that come back to me time and again recently are how much the Wildland Urban Interface has changed since I have been involved in fire -- 7 years -- and the fuel buildup we have come to recognize and climate changes we  are coming to recognize within that same time frame.

Joe Stutler (IC PNW Team 3, 1999) told me in late 1999 about about the South Canyon Report. He gave me a copy and we had some discussions about what went wrong and the long term implications for firefighting. I also heard about the 1995 Fire Policy with its emphasis on

  1. Improving fire prevention and suppression --
  2. Reducing hazardous fuels --
  3. Restoring fire-adapted ecosystems -- allowing fire to play its natural role
  4. Promoting community assistance -- the WUI communities are critical

and especially while

  • emphasizing the protection of communities and other high-priority watersheds at-risk
  • collaborating among all agencies and the public
  • keeping firefighters safe

I know that in 1995 the interface was discussed (wasn't called the "WUI" (woo-weee) by many people then).

I doubt if anyone in 1995 working on that fire policy anticipated the scope of the development that has occurred since then, as baby-boomers and others escape the cities and suburbs on weekends or in retirement. I see the houses buildup in the semi-rural towns and farms in my norcal neck o the woods - some who are building are socal escapees. Areas around socal and other western population centers have worse interface-associated problems than we do on my neck-o-the-woods. WUI population density is greater there. With people, comes a greater chance for fires starting accidentally and an increase in arson. Roads are unsafe for fire equipment ingress and egress due to terrain, budget, planning, etc. Gates are often too small or narrow. Defensible space around homes is non-existent or inadequate. There is no opportunity for the "Escape Routes" and "Safety Zones" parts of LCES. Bark beetle infestation has added massive fuel loading to the surrounding woods.

I doubt if anyone in 1995 anticipated the exponentially increasing cost of fighting fire on the expanded WUI of 2006 either.

Fuels, well we all know about the fuels problem. Drought, bark beetles, standing dead timber... Climate affecting environmental conditions leading to an increase in biomass... Primed for burning. Takes only one match-striking arsonist...

WUI, fuels and weather: We need to know when to get out of the way... We need to know when to not go there.


PS Don't let anyone tell you that smoke from wildfire has created global warming. Smoke is not the climate-change problem. The problem is "hydrocarbons from industrialization" - that is, factories, vehicles, and... lawn mowers...

Update: I've heard from an old dude that interface growth was anticipated in '95, so I stand corrected. Mellie

11/27 I hope change in doctrine is really implemented...

I know doctrine mostly relates to firefighters being trained and
treated as professionals and demonstrating their professional
leadership, but we need to cut through other stuff too.

Sounds like the R1 Doctrine on cost containment, if followed,
means we'll have to get rid of MAFFS as one of the inefficient,
outdated, otherwise marginal aviation contractors. MAFFS is a
big ticket item $$$... How politically incorrect will some of the
legislators find that suggestion?!


It's easy to look at the roadblocks. There will be some we anticipate and some we can't. I commend R1 for working on and presenting their FAM Foundational Doctrine. Way to be a leader! Ab.

11/27 Readers,

We got a request for a higher resolution version of this Modoc crew pic from the end of the 2001 fire season for printing. (It was sent in in Jan 2002.)

Photo was taken in Oct 2001, Biggs Flat fire, Lewis & Clark NF, Montana and was contributed by MR.

MR, if you're reading, please contact us. I remember where you worked (norcal NPS) even as late as 2004, but no longer have your contact info. (Don't even remember if your initials are really MR.)

I'm guessing here, but maybe the crew would like to have it for their historical photo collection.

Readers, if anyone else has Modoc IHC crew photos from their first or second year, would you please send them in. We'll pass them on.


11/27 Ab,

Attached is the new foundational doctrine and guiding principles for Northern Region Fire, Aviation, and Air (Region One of the Forest Service). I am told that this is an attempt to move us away from the rule-based system we currently operate with (if you don't follow the rules, you're doing the wrong thing), to a performance-based system where success is measured by careful planning and execution (knowledge, skills and ability determine successful outcomes).

On page 2 of the doctrine it states

" firefighters routinely encounter numerous and varied risks in performance of their jobs. Even with reasonable mitigation of risk and working within agency policies, our personnel may suffer serious injury or death. Any doctrine or policy that neglects this basic truth is incomplete. At the same time it remains the philosophy of the Northern Rockies that no resource or facility is worth the loss of human life".

That is a BIG change from currently FS policy which does not recognize the dynamic high risk environment we operate in, hence the constant proliferation of more rules and regulations.

On page 7 you'll find that

"risk management will be evaluated on the decision-making process, not the outcome. Decisions will be judged on use of professional judgment based on information available at the time".

As an example, in some cases a fire shelter deployment may be considered a good decision based on the circumstances and available information at the time, rather than considered a poor decision based on the fact shelters were deployed under any circumstances.

I must admit to being somewhat overwhelmed. I don't know whether this is an actual change to the way we were doing business or just another bit of paperwork. The fact that the regional forester has signed off on it gives me some hope. I was hoping that some of the They Said commentators would give me some input. Misery Whip, any thoughts on this document?


FAM Doctrine R1 (pdf file 2,900 K)

Ab removed the link to this. It was meant only for internal circulation and will likely be changed this week. We'll post the final version when it's available.

11/26 Hey ExBerdue!

I'd done a list a bunch of years ago, I'm sure that it's archived in here somewhere. Here are a few more...
  • While seated at the table, pick up each piece of food and ponder its useful life span in your pack before cramming it into your pocket, or into your shirt for later.
  • Getting your dinner served out through the window lends a nice touch.
  • Give one of the kids a "clicker".
  • If the smoke alarm goes off, it's okay to backfire the kitchen.
  • Leave one of the kids on the roof of the garage as a lookout.
  • Take the plastic kiddie pool and hinge it to the side of your house attached to a stiff spring. When it gets windy, it'll sound like the blue lagoon doors banging shut.
  • If you leave the lawnmower running all night, it'll sound like a generator.
  • Throw away the night lights and get some Cylume Sticks instead.
  • Replace the carpeting with wood chips.
  • Cordon off your lawn with some circus flagging.
  • Make the kids line out to load their school bags into the trunk of the family wagon.
  • Don't forget the cardboard in the window with your family name, and the E # on the windshield.
  • Show the kids how fun it is to do their homework with a headlamp.
  • For Christmas, get the kids the "same" style and color knapsacks (and hats) so they'll all look similar. Green pants are always in style.
  • Keep muttering "water conservation" while your significant other washes the car.
  • Then take the garden hose and "hydro mine" the flower bed.
  • Steal the last roll of toilet paper from the bathroom... Go ahead, try it!

As always, Stay safe! "Kicks"

Added them to the You Know You're a Forestry Tech If ... page. Thanks. Ab.

11/26 Regarding the Brunacini article;

I'm not sure I understand the basis of his objections to NIMS/NIIMS. As far as I can tell, the Fire Command system he advocates (I grew up with NIIMS, so I stipulate I'm not super familiar with the system) is a fundamentally tactical system, for short-duration incidents. I think getting Type 4/5 vs 1/2/3 involved confuses the duration of the incident with the complexity of the incident. This Fire Command system might be great for complex, short duration incidents that NIIMS wasn't necessarily designed for. As I see it, problem is strategic; the federal government was tasked with coming up with a unified system that would handle extended duration, high complexity incidents.

Campaign fires in wildland world are the closest routine incident type to the level of complexity envisioned, so that was the template that got used.

Brunacini says "Managing a burning forest does not qualify someone to manage a large explosion in the middle of a big city or figure out what to do when the people in your community start getting the bird flu. In the end, local responders will have to deal with these incidents well before federal help arrives."

Well, nobody knows exactly what do under those circumstances, because they don't happen very often. Nobody's ever been IC on two World Trade Centers, two Oklahoma Cities, or two Katrinas, let alone dozens. Big wildland fire is just the closest thing in terms of personnel numbers, overall incident complexity, and ease of resource mobilization, that happen routinely.

I think when he says "Mandating each fire department to run automatic aid with each fire department on its borders would do more to unite the fire service in one week than NIMS has done in three years.", he's fundamentally missing the point. It's a great suggestion tactically, but it's not a way to organize diverse resources to operate together for day, weeks, or months. It just doesn't address the same issues.

Another issue is that most fire departments, even large fire departments, are organized to mobilize a few dozen people with a fairly uniform skill set for a few hours or maybe a few days. Wildland fire and the military are the only organs the federal government has that can organize a few hundred to a few thousand people, with a diverse skill set, for weeks or months. Posse comitatus says you can't really use the military, and calling in the National Guard can be mediapathic.

Another issue is that you can mandate all you want, and what actually happens is another issue. You can mandate cooperation, but what actually happens when the tones go off is something else. Same thing with NIIMS- I know many fire departments who swear up, down and sideways that they use NIIMS on grant applications, but on the fireground ICS is "just too much trouble".

Anyhow, that's my two cents worth... I don't think there's anything wrong with NIMS or NIIMS, and I don't think there's anything wrong with Fire Command - they're two different tools, and maybe debate would be more useful aimed at making the systems work together, rather than fussing over which is "better".

I know I'm mostly preaching to the choir here, but with WUI as the new "normal", wildland folks and structure folks need to be able to work together. An incident lasting weeks and handled by NIMS might include a dozen structure fires handled by Fire Command. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Nerd on the Fireline

11/26 re: NIMS vs NIIMS

Good thing I saved a few of the old "SECTOR BOSS" hard hat labels.

Might come in handy some day!

AK Old Timer
11/26 Perhaps some of the readers saw the ABC "Skins Game Golf Event".
Two of the players made donations to the Esperansa group. Time to
think big as others have stated for the Foundation and we have to help
them too. There is energy from all segments of our society to be a part
of helping us all when the need is the greatest.

11/26 RE: NIMS vs FC ICS

As one that has sparred with Chief Brunacin in some of the trade magazines, it is my opinion that the only thing he is interested in is trying to keep DICS (Daddy's Incident Command System) alive. He can not accept that NIMS/ICS is the preferred and adopted ALL RISK incident management system that works with ANY emergency of any size and/or complexity.

11/26 RE: NIIMS vs. NIMS vs. Phx Fire

I just read N. Brunacini's article and was wondering if anyone else out there raised an eyebrow as I did?

I work in the valley (Phoenix) with PFD almost everyday through the "consortium". I am also heavily involved in the wildland fire community as a ENGB/CRWB and ICT4. I dont really know what true intentions Nick had, other than to slam the political side of NIMS, but I was somewhat disenchanted with his comments. I almost felt as if he was presenting, unintentionally, a competition between the intimately similar systems.

First of, Nick does a good job of defining the difference between NIMS and Fire Command. Basically, a word: Division or Group as opposed to Sector. Thats about it. The insinuation that ICS is for Type 1,2, or 3 incidents and FC is for Type 4 or 5 is merely interesting. I believe, because I participate in both "versions" everyday, that they both do the same thing!

Nick states that PFD used the FC system for a 14 day assignment to Katrina, and that because they did, they didnt get anyone injured. Great point. However, I believe thats because of the "safety first" mentality of ALL departments in the Phoenix area, not based on them using a FC IMS rather than NIMS IMS. I participate in two week assignments all the time, as well as smaller incidents, using both the PFD version, and national version. It is the safety conscious attitude the prevents the injuries, not the IMS.

Further, I have to give respect where it is due: "The federal government has only been in the incident-command business for a few years." This is a completely incorrect response. The wildland fire community, ie. USFS, BLM, etc, have used incident command for more than a few years. While FIRESCOPE might have been developed with fire departments and federal agencies alike in California, is wasnt designed in just the last "few years".

There might be issues at the top of the federal government NIMS training and management, but I was really ticked to see reference that NIIMS/NIMS and FC were two different beasts, and that one was for larger incidents, the other for smaller, and that one worked better in a different setting. As an ICT4, I work with small numbers of units in a wildland incident, and as a member of a vallie FD, I work on house fires, commercial fires, etc, in the same capacity. They can BOTH work, and are basically the same thing.

Just my thoughts... anyone else agree/disagree? Maybe I missed some other point? I guess I just get a little hot when I read more PFD glory writing, when I see them show up all the time on fires in shorts, brush pants, or whatever, not prepared, yet they are the first to proclaim how great they are.


We're helping out with selling and shipping the E-57 decals (3.5" diameter).

All proceeds benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

CA-BDF-E57 Always Remember Decal (crew57)

The Abs.

OA is point man on this one, receiving orders, keeping records, validating credit cards, shipping, etc. He shipped out a bunch before the holidays and will ship out more as soon as the shipping office reopens mid-week. The orders have come in from all over, as far as Washington DC, and Canada. If you want some, better get your order in. Sales benefit the Foundation.


"... A record 9.4 million acres burned this year across the country, surpassing the previous record of 8.7 million acres that burned in 2005, and all signs suggest the trend will continue. More severe fires are likely to threaten more homes."

"Five of the 10 worst seasons since 1960 in terms of acres burned have occurred in the last seven years," said the memo to Kempthorne from the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, which directs firefighting crews and equipment from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

"If wildfires burn at the same pace next year as they did this year, the firefighting budget will be exhausted by July, the U.S. Forest Service said. Fire managers increasingly must let some fires burn so they can send crews to fight others."

"Their unusually direct warning, in a one-page memo prepared at Kempthorne's request and obtained by The Oregonian of Portland, Ore., came shortly after five U.S. Forest Service firefighters died late last month in Southern California while trying to save a home from wind-driven flames."


It is pretty sad that it took the lives lost of firefighters, and the press attention to get the NMAC and the WO levels of the land management agencies off their butts and recognizing what the wildland firefighting community has been saying for years.

Read the whole article. The report fails to mention that 23 wildland firefighters died this year.... Not just the recent five that spurred them into action for the jobs they are supposed to be doing year-round.

Rogue Rivers

Rogue Rivers, often discussion points don't get to the ground or to the public even if a bigMAC would like them to. I'm glad these did at a time when the public has heightened awareness. Ab.

11/26 AZ engineer,

I think Nick was just writing (venting) about the passion of his Dad's work... Fire Ground Command.....that NIIMS and NIMS never really fit into the bigger picture as "they" saw it.

ICS was just a small part of the original NIIMS, but somehow morphed into the largest portion of NIMS.

I also think that Nick has some of the very same passion his Dad does.... and will continue to have for the fire services.

When ICS was introduced by FIRESCOPE, it was fought throughout the country. In fact, even when I started my career, it still wasn't being used by all areas of the Forest Service. Many areas in Region 8 and Region 9 continued to use LFO until the early to mid 1980's.

Simple fact, ICS works and has worked well for over 30 years for managing small and escalating incidents regardless of jurisdiction, complexity, or incident type.

Nick's passion is awesome, he just needs to focus it and concentrate on the facts.

Humble opinion.

11/26 This is how I remember the 10 Fire Orders that I was "taught" so many years ago:

1. Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts.
2. Know what your fire is doing at all times, observe personally, use scouts.
3. Base all actions on current and expected fire behavior.
4. Have escape routes for everyone and make them known.
5. Post lookouts when there is potential danger.
6. Be alert, keep calm, think clearly, act decisively.
7. Maintain prompt communication with your men, your boss, and adjoining forces.
8. Give clear instructions and be sure they are understood.
9. Maintain control of your men at all times.
10. Fight fire aggressively, but provide for safety first.

They were drilled into my head over 20 years ago and I STILL REMEMBER them.... I drill the newer "orders" into the heads of the folks I train and supervise nowadays, much like all of you do.... but folks keep dying.

Time to look at human factors a little better AND fire behavior. We all have so much to learn in the future.

Thanks Firescribe for sharing the news articles..... Time for us all to build a better "cockpit" rather than making more rules for the pilots. Lessons learned from Dr. James Reason.

Thanks to everyone who contributed on the news articles.

11/26 Ab

If anyone is interested here is the original 1956 USFS report on the Inaja disaster.

On the last page of the report notice paragraph C. It portends the situation the
federal forces face today.

The investigators pointed out that in general, although not related in particular
to the Inaja fire, present Government salary and wage rates make it difficult
to obtain and hold competent fire control personnel. Controlling mass forest
fires is a difficult and highly technical job. The specifications for these positions
should be further reviewed with appropriate Department and Civil Service
Commission officials.

I always think about where it says "overran Mt. Gower". I watched the Cedar
(the 2003 fire where we lost the Novato FF) do that also and it took a few of the 29
houses lost in Ramona before that flank was contained.


11/25 NIMS or NIIMS?

Found this when I was browsing around last week. What do people think?
Don't want to poke the sleeping rattlesnake, but at least read this...

Staring into the Sun: NIMS or NIIMS?
Is a beast with one "I" better than a beast with two?

AZ engineer

11/25 More to add to your humor list

Hello Abs...
I think all can relate!


One day we will all be returning to a normal life, and it may not be easy. Here are some tips for a slow, sure withdrawal from fireline life:

Make a tape recording of helicopters flying overhead so you can replay it for yourself when you go to bed.

Turn on all the lights in your bedroom before trying to sleep.

Put your stinky, dirty socks beneath your pillow.

Sprinkle some dirt and pine needles on your sheets.

Have the paper deliverer honk their horn for you at 4:00 a.m. A lot.

During the day, turn on a stove burner on to warm and sit on it. Make a sandwich, sit on it, then go and drop it in the dirt in the flower bed. Go and stand beside a full smelly garbage can when you eat it.

Twice a day, hit yourself in the shins with a hammer. (Pulaskis can really appreciate this one! ...Me!)

If you carpool to work, ride in the trunk. Then, tell your carpool driver to forget to pick you up when it’s time to go home.

In the evening, at home, start a fire in the fireplace, close the damper, shut off all the lights and read by flashlight.

For breakfast, cook a nice omelet, pour a cup of coffee, refrigerate both for 15 minutes before putting them on the table. Then, lay your head in the plate and go to sleep.
Thanks for all that you do!

Nice. Added them to the You Know You're a Forestry Tech If ...  page. Ab.

11/25 From Firescribe:

Inaja Fire Anniversary
Deadly 1956 chaos led to 'firefighting orders'
Rules held sacred, but effectiveness under fire


... Controversy about the effectiveness of the Standard Orders has been swirling since 1994, when 14 firefighters perished in the South Canyon blaze in Colorado. The investigation blamed a “can-do” attitude that led crew members to violate eight of the 10 rules.

“There was almost a moral outrage on the part of the investigators that the rules had been broken,” said Ziegler, the Purdue professor. She said fire administrators “lowered the boom,” issuing edicts that the orders should never be violated.

One of the investigators, Ted Putnam, a Forest Service firefighter and equipment specialist from Montana, refused to sign the final report. He argued that the orders are flawed and too easily used to point fingers – a way for management to avoid responsibility for shortcomings in organization and supervision.

He said more attention should be paid to the “human factors” on a fire line, such as sleep loss and fitness level, and that better training is needed for decision making in stressful conditions.

His feelings were echoed in a subsequent survey of wildland firefighters. They urged development of “a safety culture that encourages people to think rather than just obey the rules.”

Forest Service officials are moving in that direction, with more training in situational awareness, leadership and risk management. “We're not there yet, but we're making strides,” Joseph said. ... (click the link to read the whole article)

Wildfire Threat Is at Breaking Point, Officials Warn

... A record 9.4 million acres burned this year across the country, surpassing the previous record of 8.7 million acres that burned in 2005, and all signs suggest the trend will continue. More severe fires are likely to threaten more homes.

"Five of the 10 worst seasons since 1960 in terms of acres burned have occurred in the last seven years," said the memo to Kempthorne from the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, which directs firefighting crews and equipment from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

If wildfires burn at the same pace next year as they did this year, the firefighting budget will be exhausted by July, the U.S. Forest Service said. Fire managers increasingly must let some fires burn so they can send crews to fight others.

"Current trends related to wildland fire management are leading toward `perfect storm' conditions" that will severely test the nation's firefighting capacity, the fire managers said. Specifically, they told Kempthorne:

-- Half of all new homes built nationwide in the last 10 years have gone up in or next to fire-prone forests or other wildlands, and retiring baby boomers are likely to move into such areas in rising numbers.

-- Despite aggressive efforts to remove fuel for fires by thinning overgrown timber, "the accumulation of fuels often outpaces the ability to reduce them" and to keep them reduced.

-- Although wildfire poses obvious risks to homes, "most homeowners fail to take the necessary measures to better protect their property," the fire leaders wrote. "This lack of involvement is likely driven by an expectation that firefighters will always be there when needed."

More and more homes scattered across fire-prone land complicates firefighting by putting fire crews in riskier situations as they try to protect private property.

Climate studies predict that the West will grow warmer and drier, making forests more flammable and blazes more dangerous and unpredictable. The period from January to August of this year was the hottest on record, the fire managers told Kempthorne.

As fires burn more land, the cost of fighting them increases. Federal firefighting costs have topped $1 billion in four of the last seven years.

Federal agencies are hiring fewer firefighters, or employing them for shorter seasons, as inflation erodes their budgets.

Fire crews increasingly have been pulled away to help with other disasters such as hurricanes.

Each factor may not be remarkable by itself, but together they add up to longer odds and higher stakes for the nation's firefighting apparatus.

"It's a fairly amazing collection of trends that potentially put us in very difficult fire situations in the future," Boatner said. ... (click the link to read the whole article)

fair use disclaimer

11/25 Re: Large Fundraisers for the Foundation - There are a alot of celebrities looking for a cause, with a ton of money to back it up. I'm just a Pac-Northwest hic - don't know how to go about it but perhaps someone else does. Maybe one of you Cali-guys/gals knows someone....who knows someone.... that would take interest in the Foundation and throw a few frogskins our way?? Maybe I'll give ole Bill a call in Seattle....

11/25 Fire Weather


Now is a good time to review IZONE fire fight protocols. Keep one
foot in the burn and the wind to your back.

Cal Fire Jake

11/25 A year ago I started sending in reminders about upcoming anniversary dates of tragic fires. After sending in quite a few, I began noticing that others were starting to beat me to the punch and were sending in similar posts. For example, SoCalG's reminder about the 50th anniversary of the Inaja Fire. I think this is great!

For a long time, we, the wildland fire community, did not do a good job of learning from fatal mistakes. Investigations occurred, reports were written, and copies sat on shelves. Years later people might notice that the situation on Fire A was nearly identical to the situation on Fire B. For 16 years in the 70's and 80's I worked within 20 air miles of the Inaja Fire and never did visit the site to learn from it. I can't remember ever seeing the investigation report or the recommendations it may have generated. I can blame myself for not seeking out the information, but during that time the culture did not include spending time rehashing disastrous events.

Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.

We are doing a better job today in widely documenting tragic situations and trying to develop lessons to be learned. Part of that is due to the efforts of organizations like the Lessons Learned Center and Colorado Fire Camp. I like to think that our "Wildland Fire Event Calendar" and our "Infamous World Fires" document that list multiple fatality fires by calendar date has something to do with it also, helping to prevent these opportunities for learning from being forgotten.

The next step that needs to be taken is to get rid of the 2002 Hasting Cantwell Act which requires that a federal agency formed to investigate white collar crime begin investigating fatalities of USFS firefighters. This act has done more to inhibit lessons learned and ultimately make firefighters less safe than anything in recent memory.

Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire
11/25 Discussion Section of Hotlist Forum bears reading, especially if you're living in or fighting fire in SoCal.

Check CA-SoCal-Wind Event


11/25 During the John and Ken fundraiser that raised over $62,000 for our fallen, I met someone who was pretty funny and very humble.

He was someone who raised over $3 Million for fallen firefighters following 9/11 by simple efforts of networking with friends.

Pretty amazing how circumstances come together and how we make new friends in times of crisis and need.

Pretty amazing how he is so directly connected with things that most of us thought that the "shock jocks" of KFI were exploiting...... I surely did... I never would have attended the event if BattGrl12 said she would be there and prompted me..... but then she never showed up. LOL.

The person I am trying to describe sold over $3 Million in red wristbands following 9/11 for his fallen brothers and sisters of the NYFD. He was also a member of the Firehouse that John and Ken were speaking about in their "other" goals.. broadcast ratings... Small world, bigger picture.... Firefighters are firefighters no matter what the circumstances are.

It won't make a whole lot of sense unless you were here... Some good friends there and hopefully we know the good that was done.

Take care
11/25 Old Fire Guy,

Love the moniker suggestion. I will for sure use that one when I graduate
from FLETC. That one made my entire day. I spent 3 hours walking around
in the snow for some phantom truck that was off the road doing stupid things.
So when I got to sit down at the end of the day and read that suggestion,
it made me smile. Thanks for the suggestion.

Squirt Gun
11/25 The headline says it all,
"Fires likely to exceed agencies' resources ".


"A "perfect storm" of conditions favoring destructive
wildfires threatens to push the nation's firefighting
capacity toward the breaking point, top federal fire
officials have warned Interior Secretary Dirk
Kempthorne. "

>From what I've read and heard we are in about the 8th
year of a 20 year drought. I think we are still coming
out of the latest Ice Age.


11/25 Ab,

SC's idea sounds pretty cool.  Maybe the current purple remembrance wristbands
that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation currently sells could be re-tooled to say
"Always Remember" rather than "Wildland Firefighter"?

I know I'd buy one.

Another Noname
11/25 Dear SC

The Foundation already has a purple wristband available with the ribbon & flame logo & "wildland firefighter" on the outside. Some are available with a, how should I say...a candid inscription on the inside which would probably be best left for those at the Foundation to explain!

Those who have one of those ones know what I'm talking about.


It's called the "naughty one". haw haw. Ab.

11/25 Howdy,

Thought I would mention that today, November 25th is the 50th anniversary of the Inaja Fire Tragedy. The 11 men men who lost their lives did not die in vain. The 1957 report was issued and the 10 Standard Orders were brought about by this event. These orders and the knowledge contained within has saved hundreds of lives through the years. The 10 Standard Orders are gospel to all wildland fire fighters.

The area of the tragedy is in eastern San Diego County in the San Diego River drainage. Not far from this location is where Steve Rucker lost his life 3 years ago during the Cedar Fire. There are few similarities between the two fatal events. The one common factor is that both tragedies occurred after Santa Ana winds had abated, and the oceanic backflow had kicked in. In this area of the country, this typical condition is extremely dangerous because fires will go into a benign state of burning, only to be followed by unpredictable blow ups. Fires in the San Diego River can make rapid runs in four directions at once. I have seen this.

Here is a link for more info if you are interested in learning more.

They gave their lives for ours....

Keep em' small

A link to the 1957 Report is listed at the top of the Documents Worth Reading section of the Archives Page. Ab.

11/24 I got a fairly harsh phone call today from one of my friends regarding the post I made expressing a desire for the NASCAR Fundraiser. It was Thanksgiving and I was working as the IC on a fire... how inappropriate for a tongue lashing. I guess I probably need to explain a little better about what I was trying to say.

Our wish is to raise $1 Million for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation from a blossoming partnership with NASCAR that has already had some very important hurdles challenged and passed, and hopefully raise additional money in partnership with the National Football League in the future. We need help from the entire wildland firefighting community to make this happen. We have a meeting with NASCAR officials coming up on Nov. 30th and would like to have all of our ducks in line by then. We have also had some interest from one of the NASCAR drivers offering their willingness to help. We need the community to network.

For anyone who thinks myself or others are/were trying to detract from the importance of local fundraisers for the Foundation, stand assured I am a full supporter of all of the local efforts from T-shirt sales, walks, runs, and whatever happens at the local levels...... All of those great ideas and awesome fundraisers support the short term needs of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation well right now...... but what if we had another Storm King?.... or something worse yet?

We all have a place in the support of the Foundation, in any way we can help.... some give, some network.

These larger events (NASCAR and NFL) are not meant in any way for the short term needs of the Foundation, they are intended for the long term needs and expansion of the help and support that the Foundation can give to the families, friends, and comrades of our fallen and injured brothers and sisters. Nothing less, nothing more.


Thanks Lobotomy for the clarification. I had the advantage of knowing this is in the working stage. The fundraising efforts of everyone are appreciated. The networking efforts of everyone are appreciated.

We need to continue to fund the Foundation while working on possibilities of developing a sustainable fund for the long term. Ab.

11/24 Hey Ab, My father had a great idea for fundraising.
Why not make some of the rubber bracelets (like the
"LIVESTRONG" bracelets) with "Always Remember" in
green? I think you could sell them for 5 bucks a pop
or so, with proceeds going to the WFF. Just an idea.


SC, Thanks for the idea. I have sent that idea on to the Foundation for consideration. Some ideas require cash upfront to create the product to sell. They require some kind of easy way to sell, package and ship a product. These things all take time and staff. Good idea, worth considering. Thank your dad from all of us.

Folks, please send in any more ideas you might have.

Also, regarding the current fundraisers. Please get family and friends to support these and other local efforts. This is the season of true giving.

Attend the 52 Mile Ultra Walk; don't just Pledge, but send in a contribution earmarked for that event now, even as you enter your pledge. It's easy. All proceeds benefit the Foundation. Thanks Eldorado shots and Norcal II for stepping up with this event. I hear a number of folks from this community will be there.

Order a 2007 Fire Calendar  from the Supply Cache. This fine effort was begun months ago and all proceeds benefit the Foundation. Thanks Jim and all.

Finally, I'm going to repost a sticky at the top of the page regarding the Engine 57 decal. Thanks Mike C and OA for making this work. Needless to say, proceeds benefit the Foundation.


11/24 Noname,

I appreciate the information. And there is no way that the sharing of information would p*ss me off. Looking at the statistics/breakdown of the job series information, I see that I am in the smallest group of the 1801 series (I believe that this is due to the fact that the forest service or OPM, I am not sure which, changed the the new hire LEO jobs from the 1802 to the 1801 series. I do not recall the reason, but that is what happened.

As I said just before the 1802 series is where many LEOs are and I believe that there are a few other positions there as well.

The 1811 series I believe is the Special Agent positions and is the type of positions that does not require the wearing of an official uniform. They do a lot of the bigger investigations and deal with the "Investigations" aspect of Law Enforcement and Investigations.

The 11 Folks in the 1899 series are Students I believe, or maybe there is some sort of "apprenticeship program" for LE like there is the 0499 fire apprentices (which I must say I was and am working on completing the program although I am In LE now) (only 39 hours left and all of them are in dispatch, oh and S-215).

Ok well as for the new Moniker, I will put out a suggestion and I will allow you all to decide what you think. Some of you may know that in order to carry a fire arm, wear an LE uniform, or have anything that says Law Enforcement on/near you while you are working, you must go through FLETC. Well I have not been to FLETC 
AND i have been told I am too young to call Young Gun. I made the mistake of saying, well since I am too young to be young gun, call me Squirt Gun.

So Tentatively signed,

Squirt Gun
aka: 6thyrrookie

Haw haw on your new moniker. This Ab gives it a thumbs up. Perhaps you should consider Old Fire Guy's suggestion below, for when you graduate?

11/24 6thyearrookie,

If you are indeed considering a new moniker.....how about Guns&Hoses?

Old Fire Guy

Haw, haw! Nice one. Ab.

11/24 th-

I fully agree with you on how technology should be implemented on the fireline- simply, quickly, with the bulk of the load done in the office prior to fire season b/c we all know there aren't T-1 lines hiding out in those hills. If you ever want an off-line contact to implement a project I'll do my best to help you in my off hours- the Abs know where to find me. I think you really should check out what BLM in the California Desert District did (Black Rock, Hole in the Wall, Apple Valley, etc).

Here's the basics- we loaded up the 24k topos, hillshades, ownership, DPA, wilderness, fire history, etc on every panasonic toughbook- to cover the entire REGION. We loaded up premade map files that looked pretty with mapping data from the border to north of the San Bernardino NF. We loaded ArcGIS on the laptops- since it was the easiest thing to do with the BLM licensing agreements and what the bosses wanted it to do. The GPS units are pretty much Garmins across the board. The toughbooks can be plugged into the cigarette lighter- all you need is the rig to have power. The laptops have swappable hard drives so you have the ability to have a "work" hard drive with your office stuff versus your "fire" hard drive- the main reason for this was the Cobell litigation and security policy issues within the DOI. The GPS has real-time tracking ability in the GIS software- and can be collected as data IF you want it to be- I did teach them to clear out the cache

We taught some people that were not happy to be there who didn't like those damn computers and last I heard even the grumpiest was finding it really cool to have that type of information at his fingertips on a fire.

To implement a program like this you need to
#1 reduce impact on the end users
#2 make it useful so it's not just another damn checkbox
#3 make it self-contained with a scheduled data refresh (as determined by business needs)
#4 train, let them have the equipment, then train again

Happy Thanksgiving all,
11/24 Prescott AZ Fire Dept is starting a new IHC for 2007, They just got approved for Type 1 (T) Status and expect to have IHC status by end of season, They are currently a Type 2 Crew called Crew 7 (All Prescott FD units are "7" series, E71 etc) they will be known as Granite Mountain Hotshots

According to Wildland Division Chief Duane Steinbrink, they have been keeping records of all the requirements for IHC status and have had division sups signing them off over the last few years as they completed them.

They will be the first municipal fire dept hotshot crew in the country he said.






We give thanks for all of you and today we're thankful for our turkeys, too.
The Abs at wildlandfire.com

11/22 As I try to take some time away from all of this as suggested by Ab, I am constantly reminded, as I'm sure the Abs, Vicki Minor and many others are, that no matter how hard we try to take such time, the respect & affection we have for the wildland firefighting community plays a significant role not only publicly, but within our private lives as well.

Thus Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity to offer my thanks to all of you that make this extended family so special. Unfortunately there is simply not enough space to offer such thanks individually to those that have given of themselves in time of tragedy this year.

So many of us continue to feel sadness, anger, frustration and despair over those lost this season and those seriously injured. We also reflect on so many others from this family that, over the years have sacrificed their lives or have experienced serious injury as a result of fire.

Despite those emotions, there are so many things to be thankful for. It is my hope that throughout this holiday season, when all of us, at one point or another, find ourselves in the dark recesses of despair for whatever reason, we give thanks to those that make the wildland firefighting family so special.

Those that have lost family members, friends & co-workers can take comfort in the overwhelming strength of the affection shared by so many in this family. I hope they know there are many out there in our family that can provide the comfort & strength we can all use once in a while.

I am so incredibly grateful, honored & humbled to be a part of this family. Even those that criticize me or disagree with me or have labeled me one thing or another despite not knowing me, cannot permeate the affection, commitment & respect I have for so many of you. These are genuine feelings among those in the FWFSA and those that work tirelessly on behalf of the wildland firefighting family.

May all of us have peace and comfort this Thanksgiving and recognize that we are all truly blessed to be part of this family.

11/23 Ab,

You said,

Anyone who has ideas for BIG fundraising projects, please speak up. Anyone who might have contacts we might approach for BIG fundraising projects, please let us know.

There is a NASCAR gig going on behind the scenes.... Anyone with any contacts is encouraged to join in and contribute. All help is awesome and appreciated. I also heard that there is a NFL gig also going on....... For those who have contacts, join in the networks and share your knowledge.

The goal.. $1 Million Dollars so that the Foundation can always provide the services that they do best when things go gunnysack around us.

I hate to say it, but must, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation almost went bankrupt again when the Esperanza Fatalities happened.

Folks that are grieving, and families that have had losses cannot continue to support the Foundation in their usual ways.... the bar needs to be raised. We need to look out after our friends, families, and co-workers the best way we know.


We need to find a way to attract funds to build a capital endowment so the earnings of that account can fund the Foundation's (our firefighter families') needs. Thanks to Burk, Vicki, Melissa, Lillian for sticking with the effort in spite of the ongoing uncertainty. For all of our sakes, the Foundation needs sustainability. Ab.

11/23 Ab, post or share with 6thyearrookie, I do not want to piss him or her off... but empower them to look further at the future.

You never want to piss someone off who carries a gun and knows how to use it (tongue in cheek). I don't know the person who describes themselves as a rookie, but he/she is far beyond rookie status and adding to the discussion for firefighter safety in the future. If you share it.... add some thanks :)


Here is what I found for the Forest Service employees on the FedScope Program:

94 folks classified as General Inspection, Investigation, and ??? -1801 series
373 folks classified as Compliance Inspection and Support - 1802 series
101 folks classified as Criminal Investigating - 1811 series
11 folks assigned as Investigation Student Trainee - 1899 series

Information current as of the most recent June 2006 database on Fedscope as provided by OPM.

You can also do a query that separates out the grade levels from GS-2 through GS-15.

If 6thyearookie is not FS, I also know how to find the data for other federal land management agencies.


6thyearrookie, you need a new moniker. Anyone got suggestions for our former firefighter gone LEO, some play on fire and LEO or lion, etc? As noname says, you're not a rookie although you might feel you have a lot to learn, and you're certainly not a rookie in this community given your contributions. Ab.

11/23 yactak,

There are many, many folks that are glad you didnt go local agency,
and stuck it out with the FS. You taught so many so much over your
years. We thank you for that.

R5 Dispatcher

11/23 Wildman,

Sorry for bombarding the WFSC website with all of the interest. The wildland fire community, and especially the "They Said" community are pretty active and if someone posts something of interest, it usually gets an amazing amount of interest and followup by this "crazy" network of friends and family.

I think we also nearly collapsed the bigbearscanner.com website in the past. During the Heart/Sawtooth/Millard Fires, the scanner links were maxed out at their limit of 200 users online.

I have thanked you for your service on the E-57 memorial stuff, but this time... The thanks are for EVERYTHING you have done in the past, and CONTINUE to in your career for firefighter safety and the hazards that firefighters face!!! I also want to thank your son who is such an awesome firefighter who carriers on your passion. *Wink*... I wonder where he got those traits from?

As your video had lots of footage of Duane, I am saddened that his last fire was the Pinnacles Fire of 2006..... you know the story... scared us all to death. Thank goodness he is O.K.

Take care my friend and keep safe,

My deepest apologies that my post overloaded the servers of the Wrightwood Fire Safe Council. Not what I had intended.

11/22 Ab,

I am more than willing to answer any law questions you may have and if it is out of my knowledge base, I will work to get an answer. It may take some time because as I have recently found out, LEOs put in long hours (i would have to say they may be higher numbers than a firefighter when you take into account that it is a year round job) and have a whole lot of paper work to do, but I will make sure to work to help out in any way I can. Fire would have retained me if I had not had the thought of doing LE work in the back of my mind somewhere when I began 6 years ago. And to be totally honest, the PFT and slightly higher pay at the individual grades didn't hurt!! I loved the comradery of fire and the quality people I work with and network with on a professional and personal level. I found myself feeling right at home on my first day when a woman in the fire shop at a district I visited made me blush with a fun comment made without even knowing me. I am noticing the same in LE just with a different understanding and background.

Abs, in the event that you do have any law questions that you want to have answered, feel free to email them to me so that if I am away from they said I do not miss the opportunity to help out. As I am sure you know, I will be more versed with Title 36 CFR 261 laws but I am sure that I will be able to at the very least steer you and others in the right direction. And if I do not know, I will be upfront and honest and tell you.


Thenks. Ab.

11/22 6thyearrookie,

Thank you for your information.

After PL 106-558 was passed, some "personnel" and "payroll" shops have interpreted it differently, and in many cases, applied it incorrectly.

PL 106-558 simply says,

``(5) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), for an employee of the Department of the Interior or the United States Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture engaged in emergency wildland fire suppression activities, the overtime hourly rate of pay is an amount equal to one and one-half times the hourly rate of basic pay of the employee, and all that amount is premium pay.''

Where the personnel and payroll shops seem to get confused is the definitions of "emergency wildland fire suppression". I can't speak for other areas of the country or agencies, but in our area, that definition is interpreted as anyone assigned to a wildfire and working on a P-Code gets true overtime.

The intent of the legislation was, and is, that employees of the USFS and the USDI are properly compensated with true overtime while assigned to a wildfire incident. In my area, personnel engaged in "emergency wildland fire suppression" means everyone assigned to the fire regardless of the position they serve.

If you aren't getting true overtime on your wildfire assignments, I suggest you call or contact an FWFSA Director or the FWFSA Business Manager. There has been interpretive precedent through agency directives at the Regional and Washington Office level that allows true overtime.

Rogue Rivers
11/22 Ab,
Lobotomy wrote:

"As some of you may remember, the Panorama Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest began on November 24, 1980.

A few years ago, the San Bernardino National Forest digitized one of the original master copies of the video titled Panorama Fire.

Recently, the Wrightwood Fire Safe Council and the original producer have made this video available online. Look closely at the narrator (he also served as the producer and editor) and listen to his voice. Some of you will recognize him as someone who is still very active in the wildland fire community as a public information officer. This year, some of the fires he served on were the Bar Complex, Heart-Millard Complex, and the Esperanza Fire."

I will add that I also was honored to serve as part of team that worked on the Engine 57 support effort... one of the most remarkable efforts I have ever seen or experienced.

The link that was posted earlier was taken off due to the large volume of downloads. This link should prove to be working:


The anniversary is two days away. Hardly seems possible that so many years have gone by. The lessons are still there.


Oops on the downloads... We should have given wrightwood a heads up... Thanks Wildman. Ab.

11/22 Rogue Rivers,

I have been away from the computer for a bit because of a move I have had to make, but I feel that I must respectfully correct some information which you posted regarding LEOs and their pay scales and differentials.

When an LEO goes on an assignment as either a SEC1 or something to that effect, the Officer only receives the overtime. They do not and are not eligible to use the over 40 hours earned on an assignment in the AUO computation once they do the paper work and justification that they have to do for every hour of AUO that they earn. I also have come to realize that when they are doing the AUO justification, the LEO has to be able to tie the hours to an Incident Report number or something that is able to back up what they were doing which is out of their control.

In regards to Operation Linebacker, if memory serves me correctly this was an operation that was conducted on the south boarder and the officers were working on many different issues, including assisting boarder patrol. They were not acting as boarder patrol but dealing with the issues that affected the National Forest System. It just happened that the boarder patrol was able to utilize the LEOs to assist with the Officer Safety of the Boarder Patrol Officers. In the event that I am wrong on this, I apologize and you can correct me (and please do).

Hazard Pay differential: Not 100% sure on this but I believe that you are correct in saying that the LEOs get hazard pay if they are out conducting Fireline Operations. I am not sure if Investigation falls under this if they are trained as an investigator, because then this may fall under their regular duties (Like smokejumpers do not get hazard pay for jumping, they get it for fighting the fire).

As for the Grade level of LEOs in the forest service, and the fact that they are hired only as 9's and rarely as a 7/9, I must disagree with you 100%. And the reason that I can without feeling like I have nothing to stand on is because I was hired on and reported to my new position as an LEO as a 5/7/9. I am an LEO trainee right now and by the time I reach the GS-9 Level I will be what some could call a Journeyman LEO.

I also have to say that in regards to your comment about an LEO being hired on "off the street" at the 9 level seems a little skewed. In asking what someone hiring an LEO is looking for, they are not only looking at the police aspect, but they are looking at the policy and procedures that are involved. They look at the familiarity with the Forest Service policy and procedure or at the very least the ability to become familiar with these policies. The words that I have heard many times is that they can very easily train you to do police work, but it is harder to teach the policies and procedures and the mission and values of the Forest Service. Heck, I among anyone who has not been through the FLETC Land Management Police Training program, have to go down for 17 weeks to be trained to do things in a safe, effective, and legal manner when it comes to the Enforcement side of the LEO job. and after that, I have 12 more weeks in the Field Training Program. So I do not agree with you on the "off the street" idea that you present.

I do hope that I was able to express my opinion in a respectful and educational manner, and in the event that I did not I am sorry.


Thanks for the clarifications, 6thyrrookie. And thanks also for your good research into the Garrity Rule etc. It's good to have former firefighters with new professional law connections who can get questions answered. We count you a valuable resource. I wish fire had been able to retain you. Our loss, but don't be a stranger to theysaid. Ab.

11/22 Sting,

That is why I always wrote the letters for the kids .... also encouraged all of the "new" kids to take a look at the difference in potential retirements, benefits, etc... between a "Forestry Tech" and local agency firefighter .....

Lets see... do I want to be gone all summer and miss my kids growing up in order to make enough OT to pay for their college and a decent living OR how 'bout working for a local fire agency that not only recognizes its employees as firefighters but also pays enough that decent housing and college can be a reality on base pay... novel concept.. If I had to do it over, I do believe I would have opted for the local agency and seen my kids grow up ......


11/22 Ab's, GIS Girl, Old Guys', Nerd on the Fire Line and the others.

Thanks for all the good information.
I never did say get rid of the paper maps; just advocating for another tool in the kit. Also please note that I was speaking of having the (extended) IA area pre loaded. No wireless internet or anything like that. I am too practical to think that would work. GPS works most places, except maybe for the steepest canyons, and it is accurate enough, even without "differential" for what I was envisioning.

Computer would be used on the rig to get a picture of the area on a dark smoky night when triaging structures or moving out into the boonies for fighting the fire. Having some knowledge of the area you may never have seen in daylight should be a great assistance.

A back seater could fire up the computer as the rig was rolling and enter an updated position as the rig moves. Zoom in when on scene.

Also the GPS should be used to check the compass away from the rig, if you are hiking in. Who knows if there are iron deposits in the area that have thrown the compass 10 or more off? That also might be a clue that radio contact could be dicey.

Batteries should not be an issue, how many do you carry to keep the HT going? Don't know about the newer ones but my 7 year old Garmin uses AA's; and there is always the Fire Line Cell Phone charger adaptor; that should work fine.

GIS Girl said "The problem is when there are so many things to help people out and the are dismissed simply because they are technology." Please don't let that attitude keep a good tool out of the kit."

11/22 Re Unions:

Thanks Ab for the good info. Straighten some things out for me. I do
understand about negotiations when it comes to the Feds. I work on a union

Hopefully things will change for the better, sooner than later.

Another Old Forestry Tech Guy

11/22 sting,

And the higher ups wonder why there's a retention problem.....

11/22 Re unions... and associations:

Most of the nation's federal wildland firefighters are "organized" in that the Federal Government recognizes the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) as the union that has exclusive bargaining rights for these employees (Title 5 of the United States Code).

As most know, fed employees do not share the luxury of the right to negotiate pay and benefits like CDF does. The only way to make changes to such things is by changing federal law.

The FWFSA (Federal Wildland Fire Service Association) is the organization that's the catalyst for HR 5697, HR 408 and other legislative initiatives. It's an employee association, not a union. From what I know, it is the only organization in the US working exclusively on behalf of federal wildland firefighters through the legislative process.

Within the FWFSA, I don't think there's any disagreement on what is going on or what should happen. The FWFSA Board of Directors take their guidance from its members. They do what they do on behalf of their members although the FWFSA's success will benefit all federal wildland firefighters.

From what I observed first-hand, the FWFSA is together and organized in what it is trying to do. It serves as the voice of its members who come from all 5 land-management agencies and who occupy all levels of fire positions. NFFE has the authority to use its power and influence on behalf of federal wildland firefighters as well, although keep in mind NFFE represents a number of federal occupations.

In fact NFFE and the FWFSA have worked together this year to fight the outsourcing efforts of the Forest Service.

The members of the FWFSA are heard and have a common goal. As Casey and others have said, the FWFSA can't tackle every person's ideas or opinions. It costs an incredible amount of time and money to be heard in Washington and even more to actually cement the support of congress. It isn't free.

If you're interested in change, the best advice I can give is to join the FWFSA, invest in your future and become part of its voice and success.


11/22 Old Guy,

I still believe in paper maps and compasses too. You don't have to worry
about a power source, easy to carry on the line and they always work. But
technology has come a long ways (cell-phones on the fire line). BLM's Calif
Desert Dist. engine captains have a Tough Book lap top with GPS and a
camera in which you can GPS a location in the middle of the night download
into the laptop and pull up a topo and so on. Retired CDD Chief Tom
Patterson helped them get these just before he retired. And now he works for
a company that develops this kind of software. Almost everything finds its
place in the fire service if its any good, remember when they showed us
class A foam?

One last thing to all Federal Wildland Firefighters.
Been reading all these messages about a Wildland Firefighter Series, HR5697
and that's all fine and dandy but there seems to be some disagreement on
what's going on or should happen. One thing is for sure, if WE do not get
together and organize ourselves and make ourselves heard then we will be in
for a long one sided battle.

We surly will not get everything at once but we have to start somewhere.
Good example CDF seasonals working 3 on 4 off. When I worked for them it
was 120 hrs. week no overtime.

We need to organize (union?), be heard and have a common goal.
Heck my first badge said Fireman on it.

Another Old Guy

11/22 You REALLY know you're a forestry tech when......

.....in your job as "battalion chief", a 2nd year firefighter comes to you
for a recommendation for a job with a local agency and he will start
out making a higher salary than you do... even though you have over
20 years in...you gladly give him the letter.

11/22 Re the legal assistance fund:


We've discontinued raising money because firefighters who did not have liability
insurance have gotten counsel from a great lawyer as they've needed it. Thanks
Terry! If we need money in the future to insure that their constitutional rights are
not violated, we'll let everyone know. Money that was contributed for their legal
assistance has been returned.


11/22 52 mile walk

I didn't see it in the flyer from the Eldorado HS (except a comment of a base camp).
But, is there going to be a camping area available along the trail for folks to arrive
Friday night, and get a little rest before heading home on Sunday? Be nice to be
able to have a pot of soup simmering and other necessities available.

I hope to make it, and see a lot of other folks there.

Kenneth Perry

11/22 I thought I recalled reading in "They Said" that there was a way to donate
to a legal assistance fund for those dealing with the fallout from the investigative
process. Could you please remind me on how to do that?



11/22 Old Man of the Department and Ab-

I fully advocate always having a paper IAP, compass, and cross training GISSs as DPROs. Personally, I love my paper maps, sharpies, and always enjoyed orienteering. Technology is one tool in the toolbox- not the answer to all problems- just like you don't use a dozer to cut every chain of line or only pulaskis on a crew.

The problem is when there are so many things to help people out and the are dismissed simply because they are technology. As I said politics, policy, and attitude.

Stay safe and happy holidays,
11/22 Paper maps and compass

The Old Man is a wise man. The technology, as wonderful as it is, is only good if you use it. How many of us have compressed air foam systems on our engines but continue to use straight water for mop up even after all the research indicates the superior penetration and effectiveness of CAFS? Mobile GIS will never replace paper maps and a reliable compass. It’s just a better way to simultaneously share knowledge and information with a lot of folks for the so called “common operating picture”. We have developed a GPS for Fire Management training course that is taught a various locations around the country. You can download all the lesson plans, student workbook, agenda, presentations etc. from:


Remember; in the immortal words of Buckaroo Bonsai, “No matter where you go…. there you are”!

Fire Geek

"Laugh while you can Monkey Boy!" Ab.

11/22 See and hear a lot of traffic about gps and computers, this is all well and good as long as we have contact with the satellites and power to the computers. However I feel we still need to carry the compass and teach map reading and compass use. It always points north and doesn't go down.

Old Man of the Dept

Hear, hear. I was thinking that myself this morning. Ab.

11/22 Dear Me, "I know what I am" (you know you're a forestry tech),

Great posting on "You Know You're A Forestry Tech If....". I got a great laugh out of it but it hit home because it was so true for my years as a Forestry Tech. I don't wear Green anymore but I remember those days, boy were they tough on my family and I but we made it.

During those days we worked and socialized with the greatest group of people around, that family atmosphere is still evident today. Look around you, you work and live in the most beautiful locations on earth, and people genuinely care about each other. No matter how small the paycheck, we still make things work.

Here's a couple more for you, "You Know You're A Forestry Tech If...."
1. Your tax refund carries you over until fire season begins
2. Your dog eats out of date MREs for the winter
3. You've got an old project Pulaski in your garden

Take care, enjoy what you have, make changes where you want but always live life to its fullest.

Yellow Angel

I've made a new page "You Know You're a Forestry Tech If ..." a celebration of the lighter side of (Forestry Tech) life... Ab.

11/22 Very interesting read (New York Peak Factual Report). Thanks for providing the link. Like others, I'd like to know the name of that dozer operator and other on scene & behind the scene personnel who put their jobs on the line in an effort to lessen medical issues, and to privately express my sincere THANK YOU.

May y'all remain safe this Thanksgiving.
11/22 Sberrymom,

Glad to hear you spent some time getting the kid some good footwear. FF live on their feet and great boots make working so much nicer. You failed to list which brand you bought so I am assuming you bought Whites though I did see a reference to the Nicks website. Whichever is okay, both are top of the line boots for our line of employment. Nicks are made from stiffer leather so are harder to initially break in. Once broken in, as my Nicks are, they feel like a pair of slippers. Notice I say after that are broke in. Break in from both brands ( 6 pairs of Whites, 3 pairs of Nicks) has left several "bite " scars across the tops of my feet. The kid will get them too, part of the process and unavoidable. Tends to make people focus on caring for their feet when they have open bites to tend too. Training the tongue to lay flat is a necessity.

Obenaufs is the best and has been the only treatment that I use on my work boots with the exception of an occasional greasing in late fall with a boot grease from Hoffmans in Idaho. Avoid any boot grease that has silicon in it except for products specifically designed to protect the stitching.

He should also do a thorough cleaning of the inside of the boot as the lining will accumulate excess salt from perspiration. I scrub my boots down and then fill them with warm water for a few minutes about twice a year: more often if I am in really wet conditions. A boot dryer is a must but care needs to be taken to not leave boots on for more than overnight as you can cook the leather (spoken from experience as I ruined a pair of Whites through not paying attention.)

The tag merely states that the boot is NFPA approved. My last pair of Nicks didn't have this tag as they were customs but all the pairs I looked at on the shelves did. I can't imagine leaving that tag in but he might want to for a while. Eventually it will be unreadable anyway.

Any excess mud or dirt should be removed before it dries as it actually pulls moisture out of the leather.

Last thing. Good quality boots can be rebuilt if there is no dry rot in the uppers. Cuts the cost of boot replacement in half and will eventually allow firepup to invest in an additional pair. Due to my weight and type of use I used to put on mine, I would be looking at a rebuild at least every three years. Course now the biggest abrader of the soles on my boots is the synthetic carpet we have in the district office.

Follow the directions and instructions you got and he'll be fine.

Hint: If fire pup decides that wildland fire is the career they have dreamed of, a Christmas present of a custom fitting would go into a stocking quite nicely.


Congrats Joeboy. Ab.

11/22 Ab,

None of should ever have to sell decals, T-shirts, or our souls and beliefs to make sure that our families, friends, and co-workers are protected in the future for their honorable sacrifices.

I thank everyone at wildlandfire.com for giving so much... (Especially the Abs)..... I also thank the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the Board of Directors of WFF....(Big thanks to Vicki and Burk) and especially everyone giving the little extra that each of us have stowed away for times of need.

Somehow, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation needs to become financially sound. We all need to be able to grieve and not worry about whether the Foundation will be financially sound in the future and provide the services that they do best.

Those in grief cannot continue to fund the Foundation's work. It has to come from the outside from people who are educated in advance of the work that the Foundation does.

Norm said we need to raise the bar... I agree.


Anyone who has ideas for BIG fundraising projects, please speak up. Anyone who might have contacts we might approach for BIG fundraising projects, please let us know.

Thanks Eldorado IHC for your 52 mile ultra walk fundraiser. Pledges for that are going well. I decided to send mine in ahead of time. Ab.

11/22 Fuels Guy,

You said, "Perhaps the North Slope fuel loading should be viewed as the primary sponsor of the burn over."

I disagree. Perhaps it should be considered for saving the lives of 5 other engines who were in the same drainage..... and in the same alignment of wind and topography that others have explained. Much of the old growth chaparral didn't burn... if it did, I can't even fathom how bad the last few weeks would have been.

All I can say is times the losses x 5.... and raise the bar.

11/22 Hey th,

There's actually a lot of cheap or free do-it-yourself
pseudo-GIS things you can do. DeLorme TopoUSA software
is good, and you can plug a fairly normal mid-range
handheld GPS directly into it. I've used it for
floods, SAR stuff, fire stuff, special events and even
assisting law enforcement. Google Earth and Google
maps (maps.google.com) are awesome if you can print
out ahead of time or if you have an internet
connection. They're all great ways to make quick,
accurate, professional maps. I'm a huge fan because it
de-ambigufies (is that a word?) spatial data, and
makes it possible to disseminate good maps much more
thoroughly through an incident, especially on small
incidents. I really believe in getting as much data as
possible to everybody on the incident, and if you can
get a good map to every single firefighter on an
incident, for 5-10 cents each or less, I think that
should really be done. I expect that as the cost comes
down and convenience comes up, on these tools, a map
will become as much a part of a wildland firefighter's
required equipment as a shelter is.

Nerd on the Fireline

11/22 th:

In reference to your note, there are many fire units out there that are carrying not only GPS, but also computer data as well. CDF has placed GPS in many of its' front line engines and most of the BC and above units.

The problem during a tactical firefight in many of these situations is time. Southern Ca wind driven fires are about time management. A long decision making period is rarely available. Now having said that, having it available to review and become familiar with in the field when time allows is huge. We all know the all mighty dollar drives everything we do, state and federal, and when it comes to making a decision about where to spend the ever decreasing money, keeping engines covered comes first.

These technologies are being taught from the basic academy level up to the command level. We are using digital data for fire behavior to survival and mapping classes and are advancing that avenue constantly. Are we doing it fast enough? No But again the money is the limiting factor.

As stated in another post, wind has been measured in excess of 80 mph on many occasions in So Cal and when the wind and slope came into alignment on the Esperanza fire these conditions were VERY possible. I think when the accident investigation team puts out its' report you will have a very clear picture of what happened. Be safe, we are not done in Ca yet!


11/22 Hey th-

Fire Geek called me and said as one of the professionals I had to write in I'm actually just finishing configuring a mobile for a CAD client of ours.

The basic data, the software, the equipment, etc is there. The limitations to getting technology to the front of the fire lines is NOT technology. Now granted you can't do everything everywhere in the field- wireless coverage is limited, canyons mess with satellite coverage, we don't yet have reliable/affordable real-time imagery accross the board... But after 4 years specializing in Fire GIS at the regional level, being on a few fires as a GIST, and dealing with the NWCG and NIFC folks at the national level- the problem is policy, politics, and attitude.

I know a wonderful Ops guy at the regional level that announced to the FMOs (when I was presenting on a prototype for getting technology to the field)- computers don't put out fires. Then he sat there grumpily for the rest of my presentation. The attitude is one of the things that starts to wear on a geek.

Any Garmin GPS can plug into a laptop- which can have ArcGIS or ArcPad or TopoUSA or something else plugged into it. Data is already owned by the agencies. It doesn't have to be complicated.

Another risk is getting someone who seriously overthinks it (IT) and can't sell it to the firefighters. In my current job (private sector- computer aided dispatch software company) my goal is always to support the guy on the line the best I can even if it takes me 10 extra hours to configure. It doesn't have to be rocket science but there are very few who are willing to invest in the technology (which is cheaper than re-locating HR I garuntee you), get the right people to put it together, and have the passion to follow it through.

The people are out there to help you- they are the NWCG's IRMWT's Geospatial Task Group (GTG), the Fire GIS Specialists out there (who mind you are not getting hired much anymore), and your local GIS Specialists in the agencies.... I missing being one of them but I don't miss fighting for trying to prove that what I'm doing is worth it.

Hopping off the soapbox,
11/22 VFD Cap'n,

As far as I know, nothing in the AUO directives keeps federal land management LEO's from receiving "hazardous duty pay differential" or administratively "controlled" overtime.

In fact, many LEO's love to go to Security Manager Level 1 fire assignments to receive both regular overtime.... and true overtime as obtained at the work of FWFSA over the years. There are also GS-13 District Rangers who still take assignments as "militia" to reap the benefits of true overtime, even though they don't realize that the overtime pay cap was removed several years ago..... and that they don't have to play the FLSA Exempt vs. FLSA Non-Exempt crap game when they pick and choose assignments.

I know that many Forest Service LEO's "milked the cow" and received administratively controlled overtime during "Operation Linebacker". Ask around about "Operation Linebacker" is you have never heard about it.

There a few LEO's out there that still like to fight fire, and they receive hazard pay when they do it.

Also, the lowest level of LEO in the Forest Service is GS-9... not GS-5. Occasionally, and very rarely, a GS-7/9 LEO may be hired by the Forest Service.

In the late 1980's, Forest Service LEO's went from their Forestry Technician duties to the 1800 occupational group and their own occupational series.

You seem to have missed somehow that new Forest Service LEO's can be hired nearly "off the street" and go to a GS-9 position that, for most of us, takes twenty or more years of dedicated service. Another significant difference between LEO and firefighter duties.

Rogue Rivers
We're helping out with selling and shipping the E-57 decals (3.5" diameter).

All proceeds benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

CA-BDF-E57 Always Remember Decal (crew57)


11/21 Steve in S. Carolina;

I still see the DeLong Const. operator who was at NY Pk. periodically.
And if he doesn't know by now what he did, he'd have to be severely
hearing impaired!

11/21 In response to Fuels Guy and structure triage:

The Panorama fire that burned 230+ some odd houses in 1980 shows how fast a wind driven fire moves in that country when Santa Anas blow. It's important for lessons learned. Here's the link again. Open in Internet Explorer or download to your hard drive and open. www.wrightwoodfsc.com/disaster/Panorama1.wmv

The winds were blowing such that firefighters had to position their hoses and themselves upwind of a structure they wanted to save, and usually that put them in the firestorm of the house or chaparral that was burning upwind from their position. Made the analogy "pissing in the wind" take on a whole new meaning. Ab.

11/21 Interesting debate on tech tools.
Could it be that the most important fuel loading was on the northwest aspect of the draw opposite the home site?

Perhaps the North Slope fuel loading should be viewed as the primary sponsor of the burn over.
Area ignition because of an overwhelming amount of radiant heat. ??
So substantial that an experienced local crew was this surprised and their escapes were of such short distances.

Has anyone else noted some similarities to South Canyon?
Wind driven and in brush fuel models. Of course. Above the fire and under some pressure to perform also.
But also where the wind wasn’t quite a force in alignment with the topography but where both groups of endangered fire fighters were on the downwind side of the drainage and above the fire.
South Canyon provided more time for escape, though unfortunately not enough for all.

The time for escape was apparently so short at Esperanza that this may change structure triage more than any event in our careers.

Fuels Guy
11/21 I'd like to give everyone a heads up on the El Dorado Shots 52 mile walk. Besides walking, they will also be holding a raffle. If you don't have the means to make a donation to the walk, how about going to some businesses in your area and asking them for a donation. It doesn't have to be money - a gift basket, a gift certificate, or perhaps an item from their store.

I learned about the raffle yesterday and I have already been able to commit 3 businesses to donate something. After the holidays (when all the businesses will be making BIG money) would be a great time to ask. I have printed off the page about the shots walk and one about the WFF to show the store owners so they will know that it is a legit fundraiser.

So come one you guys and gals - help out any way you can. One person can make a difference.

I hope to see some of you there!


11/21 Ab,

A random thought for people who know more than I do.

I can sit here on my computer and pull up any place I want on GOOGLE EARTH or on a variety of TOPO maps within seconds; also many states and Counties have this information. After a fire has been going a while, and it gets big enough the GIS people are there to provide information. The poor IA troops seem to have nothing, other than the paper maps they might have available.

I know pay is a big concern to the fed's right now, and rightfully so. However the Head Shack also wants to promote safety. Why does not every wildland engine and staff vehicle belonging to the Feds and CDF (and the troops in other states as well) have on aboard a computer, with the information loaded not only for the home IA area but everything within 500 miles (or some reasonable area)? The Federal Government owns all the TOPO data; they also have a huge library of photographs. As GOOGLE and their partners may have more and better pictures they might provide it for this project. Also many States have a variety of GIS data for their areas.

All would also need a GPS ( I know some MVU units have reported GPS co-ordinates when they get on scene, might be personal gear though).. These do not have to be the fancy in vehicle ones that dance and talk to you. Just a simple handheld to get co-ordinates to enter into the computer. Like the real simple ones a lot of hikers use. Some even can be loaded with TOPO or road maps.

In other words, all done using COTS equipment and software; do not need a big Government project to get it done.

Would like to hear the thoughts of some professionals.

11/21 Gizmo,

I’m sorry, I misunderstood you. I was looking at the fuels buildup next to the house. Yes, it certainly looks as though someone was attempting to create a defensible space starting downhill from the garage area. I wonder why they stopped? The DigitalGlobe image on the Google server was recorded September 9, 2004. We received a lot of rain in SoCal during that winter and the 2005 spring. The AirPhoto we used in the ArcGlobe animation shows what grew back in the last two years. It appears that Google has recently uploaded a newer image recorded on November 1st which clearly shows the Esperanza burn scar and the unburned island surrounding Poppet Flats, but when you zoom into the fatality site is still shows the house intact using the old image from two years ago. Isn’t it amazing what is available to us today? We should be using this kind of technology in our basic fire training as well as some of the intermediate courses. Sure beats a sandbox!

Fire Geek
11/21 FireGeek,

Attached is the Google Earth photo capture of the accident site. The line on the photo represents the fuels modification that was done by the landowner downslope and to the east of the property. Using the Google measurement tool, it comes out to just over 80 feet of fuels modification.

The ArcGlobe photo clearly shows a large accumulation of fuels to the east of the garage, while the Google Earth photo clearly contradicts this.

11/21 Casey

I agree with Ab

Casey, like me you probably need some time off, play with the kids, hug the wife, no more thoughts of Washington or bills being introduced in Congress or educating anyone for the next few days, and absolutely no talking to the turkey before popping it into the oven! Thanks for all your work in SoCal during the last weeks. Ab.

Take the time.

Midwest Fire Guy

11/21 Sancho,

Thanks for the info! I've built wireless stuff for LEO surveillance in the
past but wasn't sure if I was going to need some extra circuitry inline
somewhere to compensate for the Ohms differences, etc. That'll be easy.

Stay safe! "Kicks"

11/21 Joeboy,

Cheryl at D bar M said to start wearing the boots about 2-3 hours a day for a week or so and then start wearing them every day. They recommended using a solution of 50/50 rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle to spray on and rub into the boots to soften and to ease tight spots. They stretched a spot by his little toe on one boot and said to spray and use a hammer handle to stretch the spot if needed. She showed him how to fold the tongue of the boot and an alternate lacing method to ease the bite over his instep (until his foot toughens up). It is similar to the 2-1-3 lacing pattern I found (somewhere on this site) but also on the Nick’s Boots site.

She said to clean the boots using water and a soft brush (with saddle soap or Ivory dish soap if needed) and to pay special attention to the stitching. They recommended Obenauf’s Oil for protecting the boots. And to treat them whenever they are cleaned, but did not say any other frequency. She did recommend investing in a boot dryer.

Not too much info on rebuilding except for the paperwork with the boots, which says to send them to the company.

This may be a silly, but she did say not to take out the tag inside the boots (like the one on a mattress). Was she pulling his leg or not?

My fire pup can use any other hints and tricks for the care and feeding of his boots, when to rebuild and gear suggestions etc. Maybe this could be a new area on the site, a page for fire pups to get info, hints and tips from all the big dogs.

Be Safe,

11/21 Mellie,

We were supporting the GIS Unit at the ICP and the investigation team in Palm Springs. The fire progression shapefiles were from GPS recon flights recorded by the lead GISS, some twice a day. The original unburned island was hand digitized from field observer reports and the first thing that puzzled everyone was the unique shape on the north side. I immediately recognized it and pulled out the Poppet Flats RX burn shapefile from my MobileMapper CE device I used to map it last summer. It overlaid very nicely and lined up perfectly with the Fire Imaging photo.

Fire Geek
11/21 vfd cap'n:

Last time I checked, I wasn't a registered lobbyist. I guarantee you if I was, I'd be somewhere else making a whole lot more money.

And, unfortunately you're just not getting it...the bill is not just a name change but I suppose I could post for days and there would be those that just don't get it.

Bottom line, I take my direction from our dues paying members...of which you are not. So, I'm not upset at all. I'd be upset if all of our members felt the way you do. Fortunately many of them have also busted their tails on Capitol Hill on issues that will have positive effects not just on our members but all federal wildland firefighters from all five land-management agencies.

Don't confuse being upset for being occasionally tired of the periodic ignorance displayed by those that really haven't done much for federal wildland firefighters but feel the need to offer their omnipotent insight to what federal wildland firefighters need and criticize those that are doing something.

With all due respect sir, you talk the talk behind your moniker but I haven't heard from anyone who has witnessed the "walk."

Nuf said on the issue. You know how to contact me if you have a question or concern. However since you're not a member, I'll get to you in due time.


Casey, like me you probably need some time off, play with the kids, hug the wife, no more thoughts of Washington or bills being introduced in Congress or educating anyone for the next few days, and absolutely no talking to the turkey before popping it into the oven! Thanks for all your work in SoCal during the last weeks. Ab.

11/21 Re: new york pk report

Greeting you all from south carolina

did anyone give that dozer operator a big pat on the back for staying put
and protecting the shots from more harm...

damm fine work, brother.


11/21 New York Peak Factual Report

www.fire.blm.gov/textdocuments/NewYorkPkreport.pdf (3076 K pdf file)

11/21 Fire Geek,

Out of curiosity, what are you basing the fire progression on?
Are there daily satellite images of the burn?


11/21 Gizmo,

I’ve viewed the imagery from Google Earth, and unless I’m missing something, it appears that the fuels buildup on the east side of the house is the same (see attached ArcGlobe - Google Imagery). It looks more pronounced in ArcGlobe because we draped a hi-res 1 foot image over a 10-meter digital elevation model and the color is a bit richer on an AirPhoto versus a satellite image.

I believe if there is a lesson to be learned here, it’s that the technology existed before the fire and no matter if you use a free application such as Google Earth or a high end professional Geographic Information System (GIS), we should use every tool at our disposal to base our tactical decisions. Before I retired from the Department of Interior I installed ruggedized Panasonic laptops with sunlight readable touchscreens, GPS receivers and wireless modem PC cards in the engines and command vehicles on the BLM CA Desert District. The equipment enables firefighters to have the geographic advantage to make informed decisions, to enhance their situational awareness and share their knowledge and size-up of the incident in real-time with dispatchers, other responding units and agency administrators. I have a presentation that I’ll be giving at a national BLM fire management conference in a couple of weeks that I’d be glad to share with you or anyone else who is interested in how firefighter safety can be enhanced with a few affordable commercially available off-the-shelf components.

Fire Geek

11/21 Casey,

Not being a registered lobbyist myself, I'm fairly certain that you're right. There surely must be things I don't know about working with Congress and influencing legislation.

I do understand enough to know a raw deal when I see one. Federal LEO's are getting $2 to $3 more per hour of base pay than firefighters with comparable experience, training and education. It's a difference of $6,600 a year in
comparing base pay of GS-5 to GL-5.

By the way, LEO's don't get hazard pay. Instead, they get all sorts of premium pay including Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AOU) - that isn't limited to the ridiculous assertion that prescribed fire or wildfire
use is less hazardous than an uncontrolled wildland fire.

"Most AUO recipients receive a rate of 25 percent based on working an average of at least 9 hours of irregular overtime hours per week." - www.opm.gov/oca/leo_report04/part_iv.asp

Maybe all Rep. Pombo could deliver for you was HR 5697. I'm sorry you're upset that I don't think settling for a name change is quite good enough.

vfd cap'n

vfd cap'n... The point is that experience in working with Congress shows that change comes in pieces and steps and begins with a name change... Ab.

11/21 "kicks"

The flight helmet adapter you saw was most likely a homemade job and not available thru any comm source. I built one of those almost twenty years ago (which a certain high up official in the BLM aviation national office still has) for the old helicopter plug. I rewired the hi/lo switch as a mic isolate switch so you wouldn't get background noise when you keyed the mic. A comm tech will tell you the impedances between the helmet and radio are different but they're close enough to work.

sancho (in a former life)
11/21 Gizmo,

The aerial image in ArcGlobe was recorded in February of this year.

Fire Geek

Gizmo, FireGeek offered a more detailed and really HUGE file. Would this be of any use? Ab.

11/21 Sberrymom,

Out of curiosity, which brand did he choose and did he get good info
on how to break them in, make them last, get them rebuilt, etc?

11/20 Fire Geek,

Thank you for your sharing of the ArcGlobe data. It is data that most of us don't have available.

I hope it isn't being used as a point of reference in the investigation.

There is a big difference between the Google Earth data overview and the ArcGlobe data overview of the accident site.

From the Google Earth overview, it was apparent that there was fuels modification done to the east of the structure and down slope (actually mapped at 80 feet or so and confirmed through site visit).

The ArcGlobe data shows a huge brush field to the east of the structure. It also seems to be missing some of the recent fire signatures and scars from previous fires.

Something doesn't compute.

I don't know what the time frames of both of the technologies were when they "snapped" the aerial photos, but would like to know when the ArcGlobe data was captured and when the Google Earth data was captured. Both sets of data contradict each other.

11/20 vfd cap'n,

Thank you for your suggestion for us feds. What I think you are failing to see is the following:

The federal law enforcement officers from NUMEROUS agencies were already well known for doing federal law enforcement work..... they arrested people, they carried guns, etc... etc... etc.... They were recognized as law enforcement officers by their respective agencies and HAVE individual occupational series' that accurately reflect their duties and risks.....

Federal wildland firefighters do not have an occupational series or agencies that are even willing to look at the complexity and changes that have happened in the wildland fire occupation over the last 30 years.... We used to have our own series until the early 1970's, but the OPM and USFS conspired to do away with the 0456 - Fire Control Series. The next year, the USDI agencies also agreed to do away with the 0456 series.

I listened to an interview the other night of Claudia Posey. As some of you will remember, she is the mother of a baby boy by the name of Brodyn. The crew from E-57 delivered this healthy baby. One of her comments was that she was "nervous" when she saw a bunch of "forestry service" people surrounding her. She learned, and now is greatly thankful for these heroes.

Until people recognize and understand the professionalism, training, risks, and duties of wildland firefighters, and their personal dedication to their communities, natural resources, and their families..... Things will never change. Part of change is educating the elected officials, the public, and the various wildland agencies what the job of a wildland firefighter entails..... it isn't just about pay!!!

vfd cap'n, simply said, your idea will not work.

Rogue Rivers
11/20 Help?

While working Helitack, we have the PTT adapter cable which interfaces the flight helmet comms directly with the BK portable radio. The problem is that, as you doff your helmet and unplug from the David Clark PTT cable, you lose radio use until you have also unplugged the cable adapter from the side of your portable radio.

On the line, I tend to run the shoulder mike which just makes sense in avoiding missed comms due to noisy environments. This summer, I saw a shoulder mike with a short "pendant" coming out the bottom where you can plug the helmet comms in to directly. That's just plain down and dirty! The radio reverts back to the shoulder mike instantly when you unplug the helmet, and no need to pack around the second cable to do the "switch" all the time.

I looked at the mike and it was an actual Bendix King unit but the p/n sticker had come off. The short cord with the helmet plug comes out where "my" hi/lo vol. switch is. Later, I asked a Comm Tech friend about it and he said that he has never seen one, and that it sounded like something that had been modified from a standard shoulder mike.

I figure that someone "here on the porch" must have either a part number or some info on it.

As always, Stay safe! "Kicks"

11/20 Ab,

Attached is another ArcGlobe animation (5,837K wmv file) that gives a better perspective of the terrain burned during the Esperanza Fire. We showed this at last week's International Fire Ecology Congress in San Diego. Many fire managers were impressed at how it better explained the fire behavior versus trying to understand what happened from a two dimensional topographic map. I could upload a higher resolution version to your FTP server if you like.

Fire Geek

This one is OK for now. Pretty neat, but it's huge. Don't try it unless you have high speed. Thanks, Fire Geek. Ab.

11/20 Dear Old Fire Guy:

Thought I'd try to be a bit more "reserved" in my response to your question on the classification bill than my response to VFD cap'n.

There are thousands of bills introduced and passed by Congress each year. Obviously some are stunningly long, others are just as stunningly simple. There are virtually no bills that include the minutia of every dotted "i" , or crossed "T" of the intent or the mechanism of implementation, even on such behemoths as the Defense Authorization Bill, Agency appropriations bills etc.

In fact many bills that have the same intent introduced by both the House & Senate often differ in language. Those bills then must go to a conference where hand-picked representatives from each party work out the differences in language to craft a bill that both the House & Senate will pass.

Simple is sometimes much better. Especially when previous testimony has been provided for a basis of congressional record on the subject.

As long ago as the late '90's, I along with another representative of the FWFSA testified before the Forest & Forest Health subcommittee chaired by the late Helen Chenoweth of Idaho. After discussing all the issues facing federal wildland firefighters (these hearings led to the introduction of legislation on behalf of the FWFSA that ultimately was passed that eliminated the overtime pay cap for federal wildland firefighters) Chairwoman Chenoweth asked my colleague, "what is the # 1 issue facing federal wildland firefighters?" His response: Proper classification.

Since then, significant data and additional testimony has been provided to Congress, and I have even met with the Director of OPM on classification and our intentions on the issue. This record of data & testimony led Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV) to tell the OPM representatives at hearings for HR 408, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act that these employees were "heroes & firefighters, not technicians."

The development of a classification series for federal wildland firefighters to more accurately reflect their current duties and to develop appropriate standards, is not new. Congress & OPM understand this. it is just unfortunate that congress has had to mandate what it asked OPM to undertake.

Thus, the language of HR 5697 is merely the methodology for getting OPM to do its job. All the rest i.e. the need for a bottom-up series development is already on the record. If the development of a new classification series for any occupation required legislation, then the language of such a bill would be a bit more detailed.

Since such an action by OPM is administrative and shouldn't require legislation, you could perhaps consider that HR 5697 is simply congress telling OPM, "if you're not going to voluntarily do what you should have done years ago and if you're going to continue to drag your feet, we believe this issue to be important enough to us that we will codify in law, a mandate that compels you to develop such a series."

That is the intent. The bill, as written is not intended to have any impact on pay regulations. If passed, it is possible OPM could play dumb, as it has with similar legislation, and simply do what you percieve the bill to say...change the name. Fortunately Congress won't allow them to.

If passed, OPM will be required to publish "implementing regulations" for the law. It will be at that time that we and congress scrutinize these regulations and see whether OPM is doing what it is supposed to do. If it appears necessary to make it even more clear to OPM (although they already know what they are to do) then congress will craft a "technical amendment" to HR 5697 and dot the i's and cross the T's. From my discussions with members of congress & staff, it is obviously their hope that OPM won't play games and do the right thing.

I truly hope that clarifies some things. If not, anyone is always welcome to contact me directly at cjudd @ fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
11/20 Old Fire Guy,

This may help you and others understand things a little better. Right now, the official title is "Forestry Technician" or "Range Technician", or "Biological Sciences".

Wildland Firefighter has been used as a "working" title for years for positions ranging from GS-2 through GS-15. In the case of HR 5697, the official title that is referenced in Title 5, Chapter 51 for position classification would be changed for all positions from GS-2 through GS-15.

5105. Standards for classification of positions

(a)The Office of Personnel Management, after consulting the agencies, shall prepare standards for placing positions in their proper classes and grades. The Office may make such inquiries or investigations of the duties, responsibilities, and qualification requirements of positions as it considers necessary for this purpose. The agencies, on request of the Office, shall furnish information for and cooperate in the preparation of the standards. In the standards, which shall be published in such form as the Office may determine, the Office shall-
(1)define the various classes of positions in terms of duties, responsibilities, and qualification requirements;
(2)establish the official class titles; and
(3)set forth the grades in which the classes have been placed by the Office.
(b)The Office, after consulting the agencies to the extent considered necessary, shall revise, supplement, or abolish existing standards, or prepare new standards, so that, as nearly as may be practicable, positions existing at any given time will be covered by current published standards.
(c)The official class titles established under subsection (a)(2) of this section shall be used for personnel, budget, and fiscal purposes. However, this requirement does not prevent the use of organizational or other titles for internal administration, public convenience, law enforcement, or similar purposes.

When the official title of a position, and the assigned duties do not meet existing classification standards, OPM and the Agency then must work together with subject matter experts to create a new occupational series.

One of the most interesting things that we have found over the years is that even federal hotel workers and federal laundry workers even have their own occupational series, and a proper classification for the duties they perform.


11/20 Casey,

Just re-read HR 5697 and I can't see any significant change to be caused by
it. Nowhere is the word "series" to indicate OPM will be developing a new
series for wildland firefighters. It just says "......Management shall
ensure that the official title assigned under such chapter to any
class.....shall include the designation of "Wildland Firefighter". Also,
it will have no effect on any pay regulations.

Vacancy: GS 462-7 Forest Technician (Wildland Firefighter).......

What am I missing?

Old Fire Guy

11/20 vfd cap'n

(Sorry AB & all, sometimes I get a bit pooped with those that are not FWFSA members, not federal wildland firefighters etc., commenting on legislation that they had no part in crafting; no part in educating congress, and certainly those that have done little, if anything for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters. So I apologize in advance).

(Ab reply: Consider it part of the educational process. Like washing dishes and cleaning the bathroom, it never ends...)

VFD captain,
HR 5697 IS NOT intended to address pay parity; create new pay scales etc., as you refer to the law enforcement laws. First & foremost, in the eyes of congress, law enforcement & firefighters are apples & oranges. Add the "wildland" part of it and it becomes even more convoluted. That is based on 15 years of educating those folks on the Hill as to what federal firefighters do.

Let's try a bit 'o history shall we:

Up until 1972, The DOI (Park Service, BLM, BIA, Fish & Wildlife) and the USDA (Forest Service) utilized the GS-456 Fire Control series for wildland firefighters. In '72, at the request of the Forest Service, OPM consolidated the GS-456 with the GS-462, Forestry Technician and the GS-455 Range technician under the same classification standards.

The Fire Control series was then dropped and wildland firefighters were covered under GS-462 & GS-455.

This change allowed firefighters an opportunity to effect easy transfers into timber or recreation specialties within the 462 series. However the advent of primary & secondary federal firefighter retirement limited the incentive and flexibility of individuals to switch between fire & non-fire disciplines.

The classification changes that occurred in '72 reflected a change in management philosophy from strict wildland fire control to integrated resource management. This change allowed employees the opportunity to broaden their job experience by becoming well versed in areas other than fire control, including recreation, timber & range management.

The belief held by management was that firefighting was a seasonal occupation that lasted 3-6 months of the year and that a less specified position classification standard better reflected the true nature and expectations of the wildland firefighter throughout the year.

Weeellll, times have changed. As with any other firefighting organization in the country, tasks & responsibilities have changed. Whether it be responding to HazMats, medical aids, vehicle accidents, and, as you know for E-57 of the San Bernardino, child births, no longer is this a "seasonal" job.

Federal wildland firefighters have responded to typhoons across the globe (hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere) to include Katrina. In fact, the Administration's own "Post Katrina" report referred to the Government's continuing need to rely on the all-risk skills of land-management agency wildland firefighters.

These employees have picked up shuttle parts in Texas, and performed any and all duties their counterparts in the municipal & state agency sector perform.

The problem now exists that when it comes to hiring, grade increases or positions reviews etc., OPM is relying on outdated standards that in no way reflect the current duties of wildland firefighters.

Simply, HR 5697 mandates OPM to develop a new wildland firefighter classification series to more accurately reflect the all-risk duties of our firefighters whether they be entry-level or FMOs.

It is not as simple as changing the name of the classification from Forestry Technician to Wildland Firefighter. The nuts & bolts of the standards have to be redrawn. Yes, it is a morale issue of course. Its also a no-brainer in the 21st century that standards applied 30+ years ago simply don't fit.

Sadly, this should have been an administrative fix, not requiring legislation. OPM simply failed to do what it promised to do and some in Congress lost their patience and introduced legislation to mandate the changes.

It would be delightful if Congress addressed federal wildland firefighter issues as they have law enforcement. It simply isn't the reality. It would be great to be able to craft a comprehensive federal wildland firefighter reform act with every issue addressed. It simply isn't going to go anywhere in the current congressional environment, regardless of which party is in control.

Furthermore, times are considerably different now than they were in the 101st Congress. You are suggesting that the congressional environment doesn't change over 16 years. I'm here to tell you it does and you take what they give you. I don't suppose LEOs had war funding to compete with, Homeland Security, Immigration etc.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion. It would be beneficial though for it to be an informed opinion. I certainly would applaud any effort on your personal part to advance the causes of federal wildland firefighters.

Perhaps as a volunteer Captain, you can tell us what future federal wildland "groundpounders" need and explain your efforts and actions to achieve those needs. I have the luxury I suppose of a membership that determines its goals and objectives and "needs" and places their trust and confidence in the FWFSA to get those things done.

For as often as you offer insight into the needs of federal wildland firefighters, I see two options: join the FWFSA and show us what you can do OR, just show us what you can do.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

11/20 Thank you to all who posted and emailed in response to my quest for boots for my fire pup, Chris. He is duly shod thanks to 2 hours of fitting at D bar M in Reno.

Downloaded goodsearch tool bar, that's pretty neat.
Love the "you know you're a" posts.
Slowly learning the lingo on the site (thank god for the glossary)
Shed a few tears when I read about the E57 crew delivering the baby.
Well, time to start writing my emails in support of HR 5697.

Thank you to all FF and be safe
Sbrrymom ("fire mom in training" from gregory)
11/20 As some of you may remember, the Panorama Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest began on November 24, 1980.

A few years ago, the San Bernardino National Forest digitized one of the original master copies of the video titled Panorama Fire.

Recently, the Wrightwood Fire Safe Council and the original producer have made this video available online. Look closely at the narrator (he also served as the producer and editor) and listen to his voice. Some of you will recognize him as someone who is still very active in the wildland fire community as a public information officer. This year, some of the fires he served on were the Bar Complex, Heart-Millard Complex, and the Esperanza Fire.

Here is the link: www.wrightwoodfsc.com/disaster/Panorama1.wmv

Ab note: If you open this in Microsoft Internet Explorer, it will download and begin as designed. If you use another browser, you must download and save to your hard drive before opening and viewing.

Thank you to the Wrightwood FSC, Wildman, and Wildman Jr. for making this video available online.


Amazing eye-opener for those not accustomed to SoCal Santa Ana fire behavior. It's something OIG investigators should take a look at before considering action that could assign blame. The fire signature message is clear: Homes are just another kind of fuel type to the socal wind-driven fire. It's a pretty long video, about an hour. Ab.

11/20 Re-Up,

Go to www.opm.gov, the office of personnel management, and use the search box, to type in "reinstatement eligibility"...it links you to the pages/docs that will help you.

Also: contact the office hiring for the specific jobs that you want, for example: contact a regional office, for Forest Service, vs Bureau of Land Management, etc. All government, federal job sites should be under opm, with same rules, but some agencies have special limitations for hire that you might want to know.

good luck
Lobo in TX

11/20 IFPM requirements



11/20 Ab-

The following maps are for the Eldorado Hotshot walk. Just in case folks want to see where it's at. I'm still working on the poster and other ones.

Post where you think fit.

Posted the link above at the top of theysaid. Lookin' good, GIS Girl.

Readers, the Pledge page is doing very well, very well indeed.
To those who have pledged or plan to: Let me suggest you send your pledge in right now.

  • We know the 52 walk will meet expectations and pledges will come due.
  • Those who have made a pledge know we have the $ now.
  • If paid now, the donation can be deducted from this year's taxes.
  • The Foundation will not have to chase down pledges after the fact, a time-consuming operation.
  • Maybe Burk will be able to change his phone message about not being there because he's out chasing down the good ol' American dollar???

Thanks for your participation everyone. Donate if you can, enter that donation on the pledge list. Hope you can make it to the event on December 9 and/or 10! Bring your family. Dinner and breakfast, it will be fun. Ab.

11/20 Ab,

I made a mistake yesterday. I showed our latest S-130/190 class the chart listing the basic pay of federal GS wildland firefighters (aka, forestry/range techs) versus the basic pay of GL law enforcement officers (LEOs.)

(My mother told my brothers and me - at least we always heard her say - that "two wrongs make a right." So, I'm going to fix my mistake by posting these numbers on a Monday morning.)

My belief is that HR 5697 doesn't give current and future groundpounders what they need. I suggest something closer to Public Law 108-196 (attached as small pdf file) that made it's way through Congress in just 3 months, and prompted OPM to prepare a comprehensive review of LEO pay, classification, and retirement benefits: www.opm.gov/oca/leo_report04/

The OPM report states:

"LEOs within the GS system are entitled to higher rates of basic pay at grades GS 3 through GS-10, which increase pay by 3 to 23 percent depending on grade level. Currently, approximately 32,000 LEOs are entitled to these LEO special rates. These LEO special rates were established by section 403 of the Federal Law Enforcement Pay Reform Act of 1990 (which is found in section 529 of Public Law 101-509, November 5, 1990, as amended). These LEO special rates are used as base rates in computing locality payments. The conference report on the authorizing legislation stated that Congress was acting to address severe recruitment and retention problems caused by discrepancies in pay and benefits between Federal and State/local law enforcement personnel. (See House Conference Report 101-906, October 20, 1990, accompanying H.R. 5241, pages 90-92.) The special rates at grades GS-3 through 10 also might be interpreted as reflecting a judgment that lower-level LEO work was not properly valued under the GS classification system."

Pasted below are the crappy numbers for the basic pay using the "rest of United States" locality pay. The percentage difference is the same throughout the country.

vfd cap'n

GS-3: $22,572 annual, $10.82 hourly
GL-3: $27,088 annual, $12.98 hourly
20% difference

GS-4: $25,338 annual, $12.14 hourly
GL-4: $30,409 annual, $14.57 hourly
20% difference

GS-5: $28,349 annual, $13.58 hourly
GL-5: $34,966 annual, $16.75 hourly
23% difference

GS-6: $31,601 annual, $15.14 hourly
GL-6: $36,867 annual, $17.67 hourly
17% difference

GS-7: $35,116 annual, $16.83 hourly
GL-7: $39,797 annual, $19.07 hourly
13% difference

GS-8: $38,890 annual, $18.63 hourly
GL-8: $41,483 annual, $19.88 hourly
7% difference

GS-9: $42,955 annual, $20.58 hourly
GL-9: $44,387 annual, $21.27 hourly
3% difference

GS-10: $47,303 annual, $22.67 hourly
GL-10: $48,880 annual, $23.42 hourly
3% difference
11/19 My sister, the firefighter

Hi* I was searching out articles about my sister, Evelyn Brenner, and I found her on your site. Thank you for memorializing her so sweetly. Just knowing that she had such a close and loving family within the Forestry Department, makes my days a little bit easier to bear. I miss her very much.

Marilyn (Evelyn's oldest sister)

Many miss her. Sorry for your loss Marilyn. Ab.

11/19 Many folks have asked for copies of the presentations that Norm and I did
at the E 57 Memorial. Here is the combined text.

Distribute or delete as you deem appropriate.


Comments made by Mike and Norm at the E57 Memorial Service on November 5, 2006

Thanks very much for sharing. There have been many requests for your comments.

Mike and Norm, I hope you know how much your leadership has meant and continues to mean to the fire community. Thank you for continuing to demonstrate who you are during these difficult times. Ab.

11/19 Looking for help from a fed personnel type, I left a PFT appointment
with 15 service years with the FS(R-5) in 97' for the private sector
and am now interested in re-uping, looking for facts on re-instatement,
all fire quals have been maintained. Any help?

Sing me,


11/19 I know....

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! for helping me belly laugh this morning! My
goodness that feels good. Truth CAN be friggin' funny...

11/19 After reading "They Said" for the first time this evening, I feel a bit out of place since I am not only new to the Wildland Fire community but am also "way over here" in the SouthEastern side of the US - Atlanta, GA area. Just got my FFT2 a year ago and returned last week from an ENOP class (not an NWCG class but based on same principals and an EXCELLENT learning experience for me) and always looking for more training. I saw one of the posts was from someone who said they were getting rid of some slightly dated training materials. I am certainly interested in those as they may give me a slight leg-up on future classes I take. If you would forward my email address to the person who posted that, I would appreciate it. I am starting late in life in my pursuit of being a wildland firefighter at age 46 but my heart is in it 100%. Might take me a bit of time since my actual job is Interpretive Ranger for one of GA State Parks but I am determined to put as much of my own time into learning as I can.( I do get some OJT as we have a new Interagency Burn Team here that I am part of)

Secondly, I read in several places of some helmet decals on honor of E-57. My wildland helmet is still "virgin" since it is relatively new and I would like to purchase one of the decals to become my first. I also have another helmet I wear when I run our iron furnace ( we make cast iron at the park) so make that two for myself and probably another 5-6 ,more to give as gifts to WFF friends. Can you please advise on how to get these?

I may be back here in GA but the tragedies out West have had a deep impact on me, I happened to be up doing some research on the net when the news broke of the Esperanza tragedy. I cried as I read about it, was literally sick to my stomach, and felt the hurt for all of you, even though we have never met. I was able to make a very small pledge tonight for the upcoming walk. Wish I could do more but can't.

Thanks for your time in this and for what you do with the Foundation.

Jan G

Welcome, Jan.

11/18 Hi All,

I have been able to locate the site of the BDF Engine 57 burn over on Google Earth. For those not familiar with this program it is a free download from Google. Go the the Google home page and find Google Earth. follow the instructions for a free download. It is a powerful program that gives you a satellite imagery of most everywhere on the earth.

To find the Burn Over site, look at the GPS coordinates near the bottom of the screen. Go to 33 degrees 52' 49.32 N 116 degrees 48' 58.53 W. You will be able to see the "octagon building". Using the toolbar on the bottom you can zoom in, fly around, and pan down to see the topography. Go to the Tools Menu and pull down the Left Panel and you can add overlays of roads, water, boundaries, etc.

I you want to see the Point of Origin go to 33 degrees 53' 59.54 N 116 degrees 46' 00.64 W. You will see a clump of trees on Esperanza Road. That is where the fire was set.

I found this program very useful in reviewing the CDF Green Sheet and it adds a lot to the lessons learned.

Stay Safe and Always Remember

11/18 Dear "Curious in Middle America"

Hopefully my previous post clarified some of your questions about the classification legislation.

Since the FWFSA has members in every fire position, inclusive of fuels, we will rely on their expertise to assist in the series development process. We are "hell bent" on ensuring that the process is not done by a bunch of non-fire bureaucrats who have no clue about the KSAs of any given position.

As I indicated, we will do everything in our power to ensure OPM is keenly aware of the intent and what the objectives are. My experience tells me that sometimes OPM gets it right, other times they need a bit of help. We intend to be there with them the entire way and if they try to shut us out of the process, we'll simply go back to those that felt the need to mandate OPM get off its duff and create a new series (not just a name change).

Just a reminder, even though the Administration hasn't changed, as you can see by the resignation of the DoD Secretary, there may in fact be changes at OPM in its leadership as well as USDA, DOI, etc. as a result of the elections. Any such changes will influence how we go about ensuring that the intent of this legislation is adhered to.

Most importantly, the best way you can ensure your concerns are addressed is to be a member of the FWFSA. If you are already a member, you know you can contact me at any time, day or night and I'll give you the straight scoop. I'll also solicit your ideas based upon your grade, etc.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
11/18 Re Oyler, the alleged Esperanza fire arsonist:

Two agencies dispute over deadly SoCal arson wildfire probe (CDF and Riverside Co Sheriff)


11/18 arrest re CDF FF deaths--Tulare Ca on Sept 6:

Picked this off the CDF web site after hearing a blurb on tv

John B

Asst. Tulare County DATE: November 17, 2006
District Attorney
(559) 733-6411

Arrest Made In Connection With Fires
That Killed Pilot, Firefighter In Plane Crash

Visalia – State and federal investigators have arrested a 29-year-old Tulare man on
homicide and arson charges, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
announced today. Investigators with CDF and the United States Forest Service arrested
Patrick Courtney in connection to three September fires that burned in a remote canyon
above Springville known as the Bear Creek Drainage. An OV-10A air tactical aircraft
working on the fires for CDF crashed September 6, 2006 and took the lives of CDF
Battalion Chief Rob Stone and Pilot Sandy Willett.

”I commend the efforts of the joint investigation team working diligently on the case,”
said Unit Chief Ed Wristen. “The deaths of Chief Stone and Pilot Willett have been
very difficult for both of our agencies, the community and the families and friends of
our fallen firefighters. We are looking forward to bringing this incident to a close.”

Questions related to this case are being referred to the Tulare County District
Attorney’s Office.
# # #
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Tulare Unit
11/18 Things to remember when you return to civilization:

1 You don't need to make your family lineup when it's
chow time.
2 Farting in the family car is gross, farting in the
back of the buggy is funny (unless you're not the one
doing it).
3 Chocking the wheels of the family car in the driveway
may upset your spouse, when they drive over it and think
they have killed the family pet.
4 When lighting the wood stove, paper and a match work
fine, take the driptorch back to work before you burn
the house down.

You know you're a forestry tech if:

1 You pick up your food stamps the same day you get
2 You're called a heroic firefighter by Forest Service
leadership during the summer, but when you try and get
a firefighter series during the winter, leadership
forgets what you did last summer and what you prepare
and train for all winter (if not on assignment).
3 You just bought a "new" vehicle, and it's a 1984
Honda Prelude (well it's new to you anyways).
4 In spite of the things listed above, you take pride
in a job well done, and knowing you make a difference
in someone's life each time you step on the fireline.
whether it's saving someone's home, an acre of land or
covering your buddy's back.

Sign me, I know what I am!
11/18 Just found this, time stamp says it was emailed in March! Seems appropriate.


Here's some things for the Forestry Tech. line of thought:

Things to remember after demob when you return to civilization:

Don’t throw away your silverware after each meal
Don’t throw away your plate or cups either
Remember when using indoor toilets, don’t forget to flush
Yellow and green are no longer in style
You no longer need a demob slip just to go to town
You don’t need a request or order number to get everything
Drinks don’t come out of feed troughs or garbage cans
You no longer need to worry about breaking your fork at dinner
Paper is to write on, not to sleep in.
Water comes from a faucet, not a cubie
Lunch isn’t served in paper bags
Breakfast is anytime you want, not 4 a.m.
No generator will be available to “hum” you to sleep
News in on T.V. not on a bulletin board
Houses aren’t made out of plastic, nylon or cardboard
You don’t have to shower with 18 other people… unless you want to

You know you're a forestry tech. when assembling a mile and a half of hose and running up a hill to catch a fire is a good day.

You know you're a forestry tech. if you have ever cursed at a rookie for using armor-all on everything in your engine/crew haul, including the seats and gas pedal. (This makes for a very slippery ride to a fire for those of you who haven't experienced this.)

You're a forestry tech. for sure if you take pride in how long it has been since you washed your yellows.

Nor-cal firegirl

11/18 Dear Rogue:

In reading the text of HR 5697, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act, it is clear the "nuts & bolts" of what we want it to do are not spelled out. This happens in much of the legislation introduced in congress.

In addition to the text, when legislation is directed to a specific agency to do something, a "Sense of congress" report is also submitted which provides a bit more detail.

It is anyone's guess as to how OPM and it's bureaucrats will interpret the text of the bill. Rest assured we have already corresponded with the Director of OPM on what the legislation is expected to do. With that in mind, the FWFSA has worked to ensure that those who crafted the bill and those that are in a position to pass the bill understand that we expect a "bottoms up" review and development of a new series taking into consideration all fire positions.

Your point regarding the 401 is valid. Many folks have taken the time to take classes in conjunction with the 401. In fact there are FWFSA members at the helm of the 401 program. With that in mind, it is our intent to ensure that OPM seeks and uses input from the FWFSA as it relates to crafting appropriate PDs etc., remaining aware of the time & effort so many have put into their education under 401.

We simply can't allow OPM to interpret HR 5697 and craft something that isn't practical and fails to accurately reflect the duties all wildland firefighters perform in all positions.

Additionally, from time to time, agencies developing implementing regulations to recently passed legislation don't quite get it right. As a result, congress submits a "technical amendment" to provide more specificity to the AGency as to what congress intended.

Should the bill pass, the FWFSA will seek time with the OPM Director as it has in the past to ensure everyone is on the same page. In fact, one of those crafting the bill was an OPM employee detailed to the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce & Agency Organization so I would envision having him along at any meetings.

At the very least, if OPM plays dumb or interprets it any other way than what it was intended to do, we'll simply go back to the leadership of the committee that reported the bill out by unanimous consent and have them explain to OPM, in no uncertain terms, what their task is as it relates to classification.

I would encourage those in the FWFSA who are working on classes under the 401 to provide input to us regarding their thoughts on how a new series should mesh with 401. Thanks for the question. Hopefully this puts a bit of clarity to it.

11/18 `Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act' H. R. 5697

Here is a link to info about the "Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act".


This is "broad" language. For sure it would change names. Anyone know what else this would change? I'm sure that between enactment of this legislation and development of policy to implement it there will be "details". And there in lies the devil of unintended consequences.

Would a federal employee hired in fire management that is primarily fuels reduction be reclassified as "Wildland Firefighter"?

Would there be different position descriptions for Wildland Firefighters in areas that have taken on all risk initial actions vs. areas where the federal employee only does "wildland fire suppression"?

What about those folks that are wage grade equipment operators? Lots of them in the SE. Would they get special "Wildland Fire Fighter WG PDs? Would they have to convert from WG to GS?

Rogue River said:

The 0401 positions are General Biological Scientist positions without any specialty and will continue to be at the helm of wildland fire decision making.... How do we make sure it covers the entire federal wildland firefighting profession and the entire wildland firefighting community?

Since this legislation is name changing legislation what would you change the name of Fire Management Officer to? Wildland Fire Chief? And would that really change the PDs and knowledge and skills needed for the position?

Curious in middle America

11/18 Hey Ab,

The topic of the decision to evacuate or shelter in place was the last presentation at the recent FIREWISE workshop in Denver. The Australians do not evacuate their communities during wildland fires in the urban interface and referred to the 400 + folks who remained in the Silent Valley RV Club during Esperanza. They failed to mention all the hazardous fuels reduction projects conducted by CDF and BLM which created a safety zone for the residents to remain home while the flaming front was diverted around their location. Attached is an image of the entire unburned island surrounding the Poppet Flats developments.

Fire Geek
11/18 While reading old posts, I learned every hit on a web search engine can generate money for Wildland Firefighter Foundation - if we take the time to add WFF by name. I added it to my computer's tool bar for automatic access.


Please, folks, if you haven't already done so, take time now to not only add it to your computer, but also to pass along the information to everyone in your circle of friends, family and acquaintances.
To date $7.40. At even a penny a hit we can indirectly generate $$

Be safe y'all, think smart

I've been using it. Jim Felix suggested this the middle of last month. For those who didn't have a chance to explore using this, it's a good opportunity to have every click count. Ab.

11/18 Casey,

So when the legislation that prompts OPM to reclassify wildland firefighters from Forestry and Range Technicians to wildland firefighters gets passed (fingers crossed), what happens to the folks in the 0401 series identified positions within IFPM?..... aka the Forest FMO's, Forest AFMO's, etc.....

The 0401 positions are General Biological Scientist positions without any specialty and will continue to be at the helm of wildland fire decision making.... How do we make sure it covers the entire federal wildland firefighting profession and the entire wildland firefighting community?

Rogue Rivers
11/18 As of 1900 hrs., the John and Ken show fundraiser has received $46,000 for the families of E-57.

From an earlier broadcast of the John and Ken Show honoring the crew of E-57.

"Claudia Posey couldn't make it to an Indio midwife in time for the birth of their son, Brodyn, in August. Three of the firefighters who died in the Esperanza Fire helped deliver the baby along the side of a road. Claudia joined the show by phone to share the story." - Audio File Interview

This shows how wildland firefighters are different from Forestry or Range Tecnicians and why there needs to be a wildland firefighter series.

11/18 The desert sun gets people to comment on the contents of the Green Sheet.
But who are they?



11/18 Abs,

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is aware that the Paypal receipts for donations indicate that there is a shipping charge for the donation. Please be assured that no shipping is charged unless something has to be shipped and all of the donations we get are sent to the cause indicated on the donation. We are working with Paypal to get this shipping charge removed.

Mike Warren
Board Member
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
11/17 The Desert Sun
November 17, 2006 November 17, 2006

The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a resolution introduced by California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein honoring the firefighters and other public servants who responded to last month's Esperanza wildfire.

The resolution commended Esperanza responders "for dedicated service to the people of California."

"Firefighters honored the spirit of their fallen colleagues by completing the job they started and controlling the blaze, even while recognizing considerable danger to their own well-being," a portion of the resolution reads.

The resolution also commends law enforcement personnel who "are aggressively pursuing the conviction of the arsonist," as well as "generous Californians" who have contributed to a reward fund along with the Riverside County Board of Supervisors "to help bring the arsonist to justice."

In a separate statement submitted to the Congressional Record, Boxer honored the five federal firefighters who were killed in the line of duty while battling the Esperanza fire: Captain Mark Loutzenhiser, Fire Engine Operator Jess McLean, Assistant Fire Engine Operator Jason McKay, Firefighter Daniel Hoover-Najera, and Firefighter Pablo Cerda. In her statement, Boxer said,

"They and their firefighter colleagues represent the best of America, devoting themselves to public service even at their own peril. Every day, we depend for our safety upon firefighters and their counterparts in the areas of emergency response and law enforcement. I want to voice my enormous gratitude and respect for them."

Said Feinstein, "The five brave firefighters who lost their lives in the battle against the Esperanza fire gave the ultimate sacrifice. Their heroism will not be forgotten, nor will the sacrifices of their families.

"These five men of the Engine 57 crew were on the front lines, protecting thousands of lives and tens of thousands of acres when they were overwhelmed by the fire's flames. Their deaths represent a tremendous loss for the community, the state, and our nation."

fair use disclaimer

11/17 Seems like it's almost always the start of fire season somewhere in our lively wildland fire world. If it's warming up in your area and you're looking for engines, folks to staff them, or most any other resource and type of equipment, don't forget to stop by our Classifieds Page and Jobs Page.

Pacific Wildfire is selling a ton (actually, quite a few tons) of surplus equipment from engines to brass and fittings. There's also a fine looking Type 5 engine available in Alaska for sale or lease. The Jobs Page is beginning to heat up with several private companies looking for new applications, and the State of Wyoming has an urgent need for a Fire Training Program Manager. It should be noted that there are quite a few private companies that offer year around work. Compare that to your current federal or state employer.

The free Jobs Wanted section of the Jobs Page is still growing and has quite a few well qualified candidates looking for work.

11/17 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. Ab.
11/17 AB......the address for the University of Idaho
IFPM/401 series is http://401series.net

NPS Cap'n

Thanks, Ab.

11/17 Dear Disgruntled in So Cal:

Surely you've read our posts about the movement of HR 5697, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act through Congress.

The bill is likely to be taken up by the House the week of Dec. 4th where we expect passage. It will then be sent to the Senate for action and we have already established dialogue with the proper folks there to ensure they take favorable action as well.

The legislation is not intended to be a financial windfall for wildland firefighters. Rather it is fixing a long-standing problem of the series you are now a part of not accurately reflecting the multitude of firefighter tasks performed all year long.

It shouldn't have taken legislation to get OPM to do their job, but it has come to that. Congress recognized the problem and are working to correct it. As you should know, classification is just one piece of the puzzle we are working to put together.

We have answered a number of press inquiries over the last few weeks regarding liability insurance issues, classification etc. Let's face it, the news wants to sell papers so their advertisers stay with them and pay them money. Press is good, but they write what they want to write to sell their papers and retain advertisers.

If you have any specific questions about the legislation, please contact us through our web site, www.fwfsa.org.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
11/17 Ab,

Just want to start out by saying, I love the forest service because of the training I have received, the fire I have seen, and the friends I have made, but how long am I going to wait? I was thinking (which is dangerous) has anyone sent an anonymous letter to a newspaper like the Washington Post or LA times about the fact that we are forestry techs, not firefighters, that if I retire at 25 years I get 42% of my base salary, which isn't enough to live on at 100%. I think that if we maybe got the attention of the media we could make them work for us. If the public knew what we know, maybe there might be some uproar. I'm sure somebody else has thought about this, and maybe tried it, but let me know, because I'm ready to make some phone calls right now.

still disgruntled in so cal.

11/17 I am trying to gain access from your IFPM web based link. But it is
not working . Any other ways to look for possible classes...


Will the person(s) who sent in the IFPM link to the University of Idaho page on the Links page under education, please update us? That link is broken, page not available. It may be that most managers that had to meet Series 401 standards are well on their way to fulfilling their class requirements and the program at UI has been discontinued. Any info would help. If we can't find out anything, I will take down the link soon. Thanks for the heads up skd. Ab.

11/16 F/F Audio Geek, Good find.

The Emerald incident recording was a classic example on how we need to improve our communications when its comes to ordering for incidents that start on SRA or local Annexed cities with State contracted fire coverage and have a direct threat to federal land. Particularly, when it comes to ordering aircraft. You can't put blame on the BDF, and BDU chief initially running the incident, these are well experienced firefighters. I personally believe it's the fault of the current system. We do a good job of ordering extended IA aircraft and equipment when the fire starts and remains on a certain jurisdiction, but that grey area of jurisdiction of when a fire transitions to fed land seems to almost always create communication breakdown for ordering points and the actual willingness to order more resources. Listen to the entire recording and it will provide the proof.

If my memory serves me correctly, it took somewhere around an hour to order the local BDF type 2 helicopter, which was located less then 10 minutes flight time from the incident even though it was immediately aware from the first minutes of the fire it was a certainty that it would make it to the forest. Once again I want to emphasize that I'm not placing blame on the unified ICs; I have an overwhelming confidence in these guys, I believe the correction needs to made in the ordering system and the SOPs.

I attended the pole position fundraiser for 57 yesterday and what a great atmosphere and event it was! The local municipal departments support of the event was awesome. Thanks to the Pole Position Raceway staff for facilitating the fundraiser. Those go karts were a blast and it was good to see a lot of people attend the event last night and show their support.


11/16 The National Wildfire Suppression Association is hosting a Memorial
Benefit Dinner/Auction (Fire Camp Theme) in honor of Arnie Masoner
and Doug Coyle and their dedicated service to the wildland fire community.

100% of all proceeds will be given to Vicki Minor at the Auction for the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation. NWSA has previously raised over
$76,000 for the WFF.

Anyone interested in making a donation for the auction please use the
attached form or you can email Debbie Miley, Executive Director
at info@nwsa.us

Deborah K. Miley
Executive Director
National Wildfire Suppression Association

Kudos to the original serious WF Foundation fundraisers. Ab.

11/16 Monument ceremony yesterday

Here's the AP article - nicely done. It appeared all over the country from
FL to MN to TX to WA.

Fallen firefighters remembered at fire center ceremony

BOISE, Idaho - When Bodie Shaw visited the World War II memorials and Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C., he viewed them with respect, but also with detachment.

But when Shaw heard about the memorial for wildland firefighters, it was different. Shaw worked on a first response fire crew for six years, and has friends killed in the line of duty who have been honored in the memorial.

"Here I felt a connection, because I'd done this. I knew what they'd been through," said Shaw, a Bureau of Indian Affairs fire manager and a member of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, which created the memorial.

Shaw was one of dozens gathered at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise on Wednesday to honor firefighters past and present, during a ceremony for five men and women killed while battling wildfires who were remembered with memorial stones. <for the rest, click the link>

<here's another paragraph toward the end about the Chief...>
The ceremony also included performances from several local Indian tribes, in part to recognize contributions of tribal members who were among the nation's first firefighters, speakers at the ceremony said. Members of several tribes danced and sang, and Chief Delvis Heath, of the Warm Springs Tribe in Oregon, sang a traditional song honoring a fallen warrior.

Just sign me "Background".

Very nice article. Ab.

11/16 Monument Bricks

Hi Ab,

We wanted to let folks know that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation does have bricks available for purchase, that are then placed at the Wildland Firefighter Monument located at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), here in Boise. Bricks are just $49 - they make wonderful Christmas presents and are a tangible, public display of support and a way to honor someone special. The Monument is visited by hundreds of people each year.

To order a brick, click this link Brick Flyer print the form and mail it in with your payment.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way
Boise ID 83705
Ph: (208) 336-2996

11/16 Hey all,

I talked to Nora's mom yesterday to see how the quilt project was going. Marian told me that they had a big flurry of activity in the beginning, but with the events happening down south that nothing had come in for a while. I would like to ask again to either go through your own personal patches, ask friends, firefighters in your cities, and any crews that might not be aware of this project to send those patches in! I know that Nora is hoping to make more than one quilt and this can only be done with your help!

Of course, for the life of me, I can't remember Nora's addy right now, but if you want to send them to me directly, send them to:

Lori Greeno
Stanislaus NF
19777 Greenley Rd
Sonora, CA 95370


Lori's Original post from 10/16 and feel free to review last month's enthusiasm, following Lori and Nora's request:


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 <copy and remove the spaces>
I know you guys can make this a reality! Thanks for all your help....

11/16 Abs

Sorry about the confusion but there are two video clips in the story both with Ellen as the lead in ad. The one of "a place for healing" should take you to the news story with Vicki. Sorry no coverage of her getting the blanket but it does show her with it.

11/16 $600,000+ Stolen From Federal Firefighting Fund

FS Employee indicted on Federal charges of
embezzlement and theft of public money.

And There I Was
11/16 Ab,

Been off they said for a couple days so not sure if you have posted this
yet, but here is the Green Sheet with Maps on Esperanza.

Sign me: WY FF

Thanks WY FF. Sometimes folks assume we receive important docs. Usually we do. However, every once in a while info falls through the cracks of assumption. We'd rather get multiple emails than have something overlooked. For those who have been off theysaid a few days, this came in last Saturday morning (following its release late Friday). Let me bring all the links forward. When I get a moment, I will put 'em on the Documents Worth Reading page. It is pretty amazing reading. Alignment of Forces, etc. Good to see Doug Campbell's life work for firefighter safety percolating into a 72 hour report. Ab.

Esperanza Green Sheet (word doc) / Spread Map (pdf file) / Labeled Contour Map (pdf file) / Site Map (pdf file) / Site Map Detail (pdf file)

11/16 Beaumont RAWS data for 25-27 October 2006


I would like to "tag on and expand" on the assessment that "Wxgeek" provided on 11/15 concerning the 100 mph wind gusts issue at the Beaumont RAWS at or about the time of the tragic BDF-Engine 57 burnover on October 26, 2006. "Wxgeek" suggested that there might be another explanation for the "100 mph gusts" that showed in the data stream from the Beaumont RAWS. That hypothesis is right on!

A review of the hourly observations for the Beaumont RAWS stored at the Western Region Climate Center in Reno, NV ( www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/rawMAIN.pl?caCBEU ) shows that parity errors during the transmission of the data resulted in the "gust direction" of 100 degrees being pushed to the right, and into the "gust speed" column. Persistence of the gust speeds before for and after the transmission anomalies supports this. The "100 mph anomaly" occurred 5 times in the data set for October 25-27, 2006.

The patterns present in the data suggests that there were not gusts of 100 mph, and that the gusts were more probably in the 30 - 40 mph range. The final determination will, of course, rest with those associated with the investigation teams.


UTR (Under the Radar)

Table showing the Beaumont RAWS

Thanks UTR. Ab.

11/16 Wednesday evening Boise KTVB TV aired a clip honoring fallen firefighters

"Friends, family and colleagues gathered in Boise today to honor the men and women who put their lives on the line fighting wildfires.

This year 23 firefighters were killed in the line of duty across the country.

The Wildland Firefighters Memorial at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise is a very special place.

It is a place where family, friends and fellow firefighters can come to heal and cry.

Native Americans helped honor the fallen firefighters with a flag song, followed by an honor song by the Umatilla tribal drummers.

Throughout the memorial monument are the markers of 112 firefighters who were killed in the line of duty.

Vicki Minor with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation knows the stories behind nearly every marker and says they serve as an important reminder to the living.

“It’s about the healing that happens here for the living. It’s about firefighters that work shoulder to shoulder with these firefighters and have a place to come and bring an offering or ashes from the fire their on, or just to touch those memories that are buried in them,” said Minor.

For those that have visited the memorial, it really is a very moving place.

Throughout the memorial monument are the markers of 112 firefighters who were killed in the line of duty."

May they always be remembered,


I heard from Burk that as the Chief wrapped that blanket around her, she melted into its embrace and the burdens of her life melted away. Burk said she has never been so touched by anything in her life. He was touched as well. My personal thanks to the Chief for so honoring her/Foundation/firefighters with blanket and song. Ab.

11/16 Boise Monument


If you don't already have it here is a link to some of the news coverage of the ceremony held in Boise yesterday. The footage of Vicki shows her wearing a Pendleton blanket that was presented to her by the chief of the Umatilla tribe who also did one of the honor songs. When he did his song he requested no pictures or recordings so no footage of that. www.ktvb.com/news/localnews/stories/ktvbn-nov1506-firefighter.3d93afe4.phpl.


They may have shortened the clip. It is preceded by a little commercial of "Ellen" in lotus position... not Vicki. But there is a very brief footage of the Chief. Unfortunately, no longer any footage of Vicki in the blanket. [Correction: one contributor says she's in the other video that has a link on the same page.] Maybe someone took a photo yesterday and will send it in. (Maybe this is a message we should hit Ellen up to support the Foundation.) Ab.

11/15 Ab,

I found these dispatch recordings and thought some people would be interested in them.

Emerald Fire, 2006

Old Fire, 2003

F/F aka Audio Geek

11/15 Firehorse:

The vast majority of our members pay their dues through Direct Deposit. I don't want to speak for the Foundation, but I presume all you'd need is their bank's
Routing #
Account #
Account type (checking/savings)

You can create the allotment on-line via Dashboard if you're a FS employee, or EmployeeExpress if you are employed by one of the other land management agencies.

I'd simply give the Foundation a call at 208-336-2996.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
11/15 Ab,

I have an idea that may have been addressed already in "They Said". Can a person (Federal Employee) have a direct deposit to WFF? I checked with my local credit union and they said it cannot be done. (I am retired) I think it could be done if WFF was in the Combined Federal Campaign. Does anyone out there know how "Direct Deposit" works?

It is sure alot easier and simpler to have a few dollars a month or pay period taken out of a persons check and deposited directly in WFF's account. You do not miss the money and WFF gets the benefit of your contribution. For those of you still working this would be $2 per pay period to make the $52 a year. It would be so simple, and painless, to go even $10 a pay period for a total of $260 a year.

If this thought has come up before and been beat to death, I apologize for bringing it up again. Just seems like such an easy way to raise an awful lot of money.


I don't know if that has been evaluated, not on theysaid anyway. Could be the mechanics/expenses of the process could take a big chunk of the donation. Worth researching in any case. Ab.

11/15 Another community notice:

We're taking down the link to the Firefighter Legal Assistance Fund info and we Abs wanted to update you.

It seems that firefighters who did not have liability insurance -- who worried that they might need counsel -- have been making contact with very knowledgeable volunteer lawyers as needed. We are assured they may continue to do so.

THANKS to many who provided a legal safety network and peace of mind for our guys and gals:

  • Many, many thanks to the lawyers who stepped up to help.
  • Thanks Mellie for putting out the request and helping make the first contacts.
  • Thanks to the firefighters, one of whom had a very awesome family member who is helping.
  • Many, many thanks to FWFSA, its members and especially to Casey Judd who took the lead on the inter-communication with our premier lawyer and actually set up the assistance fund account.
  • Thanks to donors. Your donations will be returned to you soon. (I hope we can call on you again via theysaid if the need arises.)

The silver linings in the investigations' challenges we've faced recently are the following:

  • Terrific people with incredible law expertise who have family members working in fire have come forward to offer their services.
  • We have learned how to quickly set up a Firefighter Legal Assistance Fund.
  • We have gotten feedback that this kind of tangible legal support is valuable beyond words to those in a fog, wondering if they might need it but not knowing what to do.
  • Collectively we're ready to activate the legal safety net the next time on a moment's notice so that our wildland firefighters' constitutional rights are protected.

Hopefully, there will be no next time if the Hastings/Cantwell Law can get corrected and the agencies can figure out the investigative process. We all want Lessons Learned.

In addition, we have had extended firefighter family members with expertise who are willing to offer assistance on other firefighter issues that involve cumbersome bureaucratic processes following injury.

I want to say how proud we Abs are of this fire community and how honored we are to work with you, the individuals from many agencies, vollies and the public sector fire organizations like NWSA, and the AD firefighters, and IAWF; and how proud we are of our Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Vicki, Burk, Melissa, Lillian, and the FWFSA, from the founders who appeared before Congress many years ago to those who have stepped up to make a difference to all federal firefighters in the recent few years, especially to Casey and some others who must remain unnamed.

The Abs.

11/15 Hi,

My name is AJ Spence I have been trying all week to locate a Bitterroot Hotshot sweatshirt. My dad worked for them in the early 70’s. He is a big man now XXXL. I was hoping maybe you could help me out. I have tried the Forest Service and they have been little help.


AJ Spence

AJ, Here's a link to their contact info. I don't think it's likely you can just purchase a crew shirt. It's commonly known that you have to "be one or d* one", that is, be one or get one from a current member of the crew.. It's no wonder the Forest Service has been of little help. As I understand it, everyone has to follow the same rules and the FS doesn't make them, the hotshot crews do. Ab.

11/15 Wildlandfire.com, at the request of the Eldorado Hotshots and approved by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, has just created a dynamic database pledge list for the 52 mile Ultra Walk (December 9 & 10).

This list is like the ones we've hosted for past events like Ken's Ultra Runs that also benefited the WFF. It's easy to pledge using the Pledge Entry Form and easy to see the list of pledges on the Pledge List Page. Links join the different pages. We also hope to provide maps and photos with links on those pages. GIS Girl has said she will help with maps and at least one unnamed firefighter photographer from SBF who supported Ken's first run will send photos from the walk as it is happening.

Good timing between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's a busy time of year but will provide a meaningful family activity in keeping with the true values of the holiday season! Get your scouts and little league sports teams and kids church groups involved. Walk for part or all of the course. The course is set up to be participant friendly and a pretty walk for any walker.

For full information on this event, please go to the 52 Mile Walk page on the Eldorado IHC website (link at the top of theysaid). It should be updated soon. I hear they're hitting up sports groups around Sacramento to pledge/donate as well. Can others in our fire community do the same?

NorCal Team II is helping with logistics, etc. Thanks to them. This whole event is shaping up. Should be a fun event.



Ab, Here's another good article on Crew from E-57 from the Idyllwild Town Crier:

‘Lotzie’ — a friend, a sport and a mentor

There are actually a lot of very fine articles written in the intimate style
of a small close-knit community that you can access via links at the
bottom of that page...


Forest Service Brings Help about Feser's team stepping in to help.
A black day for local firefighters, etc.

11/15 From Firescribe:

I was looking for other info. Went to the Engine 57 Memorial site (you have
a link above) and there's a link to the Channel 2 Memorial Service for E-57.
I think that link that works is pretty new. It says


11/15 I am a long time employee of the San Jac District. The events of the last few weeks seem surreal. I still can’t believe what happened. I think most folks on the District feel the same way. We are trying to get back into the swing of things and do what we do. I think that is the best way to Honor the 57 Crew.

It has been very difficult for the families, the District and the Forest. The support that was given was unbelievable and very much appreciated. To know people cared really made a difference in how we have been able to cope with the tragedy. The San Bernardino Forest really came through with supporting the firefighter families and the district, and I know they suffered a great deal of pain as well. The Chief of the Forest Service, The Director of Fire and Aviation Management, Regional Forester and his Deputy, and the Regional Fire Director all made special trips to show support. There were untold number of municipal agencies that participated in employee funerals and the Memorial service and just offering to help.

The CDF provided a great deal of support. I will never forget Chief Hawkins coming to Vista Grande Station to express his condolences to us the morning of October 26. The California Highway Patrol was magical getting all of the District equipment to the services on time, they even picked the routes of travel for us. Don Feser’s Incident Management team really did an outstanding job working in very difficult circumstances. They supported the families with Liaisons and Supervisors, provided direction for all the public donations, assisting with funeral arrangements and the Memorial service. They coordinated and provided counselors for any employee support. They were outstanding.

The Forests in Region 5 also showed great support in sending resources for coverage to the Forest for all of the services. The Horseshoe Meadow Hotshots and Shasta T Engine strike team, besides providing coverage, completed many mundane tasks form washing vehicles to cleaning up the School grounds for Mark’s memorial service. One of the Shasta Engines finished the repainting of the Alandale Station sign and remounted it proudly in front of the station.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, especially Vicki Minor, were a most Blessed gift to all of us. Thanks also to the Wildland Firefighter Association who assisted employees immensely. Thanks to Kenny, Mike, Veronica, Betty, the Honor Guards, Dan, Eric, Alfredo, Mark, Allison, Don and Jan, and all of the other folks I am forgetting. I guess I have rambled a bit, but I just wanted to let everyone know that the great outpouring of support was truly appreciated.

Let us always remember Mark, Gus, Jason, Pablo and Danny by being the best we can be on the job and off.


11/15 Gizmo & Ab,

Having closely followed the posts here regarding the Esperanza Fire and subsequent investigation and “Green Sheet”, I would like to answer a few of your questions posted 11/11 and provide some additional information that some readers may not be aware of. The Beaumont RAWS station referenced in the CDF Green Sheet is a NFDRS reporting RAWS station for RRU and is located in the city of Beaumont behind a fire station. It transmits data at approximately ten minutes after the hour. While it is the closest RAWS station to the burnover site, it is still 8.3 miles to the west. Cranston RAWS is located almost 10 miles to the south and Palm Springs Airport is 18 miles to the southeast. While there are a few “hobby” weather stations in the area, their locations and data quality cannot be confirmed.

The CDF Green Sheet lists the 0800hr data reported into the ASCADS/WIMS system on 10/26 as 15mph to the east with “No Data” reported for peak gust. Some RAWS data locations available on the Internet, as well as some posts in this forum have listed the peak gust for this hour at 100mph. While it’s been a few years since I attended the RAWS Tech course, I do have some observations from my own agency RAWS stations that may help to explain this. RAWS stations from a certain vendor with a specific processor often spit out a 100mph reading when it is uncertain what the peak wind speed is. It is an error code of sorts. Although agreeably, not a very good one. Much has to do with the capture time frame defined in the programming for peak winds. When we changed our capture time frame from 1 second to 3 seconds, we were able to reduce to erroneous 100 mph readings to almost nil. Some RAWS data on the net (such as ROMAN) have quality assurance algorithms that omit this potential bad data. That is why you won’t find the 100mph reading at the ROMAN web site and a few others.

None of this is to imply that there were not strong winds occurring in the Beaumont/San Gorgonio area on the morning of October 26th. Only that there may be another explanation for the 100mph peak wind gust. Of note, the Beaumont RAWS had another 100mph reading at 2pm on the same day when the sustained wind was only 15mph.

Lastly, to answer another of your questions, yes, there is a meteorologist assigned to the Esperanza Fire investigation team. I’m told the investigation is ongoing with the final report still months away.

11/15 Old Sawyer,

Here's part of what NIOSH said in their report for the Sawtooth Fire:

Recommendation #5: Fire management agencies and fire departments should ensure that fire fighters utilize all available resources (lookouts, helicopters, or lead planes, etc.) when investigating fire activity located in an area that does not have an established escape route.

Discussion: Fire management agencies and fire departments should ensure that fire fighters utilize lookouts, air attack officers and aircraft when investigating areas with increased fire activity before committing themselves to an area that does not have a designated safety zone or escape route(s). Lookouts located along a ridge may have a better vantage point where they can provide valuable information on current and potential fire behavior. Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft can provide ground forces with an assessment of the situation as they have a wider view of the burn area. Utilizing available resources for remote investigation will help to ensure that fire service personnel remain in those areas that have designated safety zones and escape routes.

Fire fighters should utilize all available resources (planes, lookouts, etc.), when available, to provide them with remote investigation capabilities. This would reduce or eliminate the need of placing fire fighters in situations where escape routes or safety zones are not available. At this incident, a helicopter and lookouts were available to provide additional information regarding a large column of smoke spotted by one of the lookouts. No additional remote investigation or reports of fire activity occurred prior to the victim proceeding into the drainage where there were no designated escape routes or safety zones.
- www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Sawtooth_Prescribed_Fire_Fatality_NIOSH_Report.pdf

They will probably make an almost identical recommendation for Devil's Den.

vfd cap'n

11/15 Don't know how many have seen this website

All Hazard Response Guide: www.fs.fed.us/r8/allhazardresponse/

R8 Fed

11/15 For those who missed this story the first time around:

From the Aug. 31, 2006 issue of the Idyllwild Town Crier

Forest Service crew delivers baby boy
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.

Editor's note: All of the Alandale firefighters mentioned in this story died in the Esperanza Fire Thursday, Oct. 26.

11/15 Spent 12 days working the BDF E57 Support assignment as part of the Loutzenhiser support group. Toughest assignment in my 29 years. It was awesome to see the multitude of agencies come together working side by side to honor the families and the agency. Blue shirts and green, plus an odd mix of others, worked as one with very few hiccups. The community of Idyllwild is truly a special place. Their loss was very evident and their support was gratifying. The Idyllwild Fire Protection District is top notch.

I want to throw in one word of caution for those looking to Extreme Home makeover for the work needed on the Loutzenhiser home. Our department was involved in a similar project a few years ago and it turned out to be less desirable for the home owners than expected. Not saying it is altogether a bad idea, just a bit of advice to avoid possible shock in the end. Some things to keep in mind are the fact that the show is all about the actors and the shows ratings. The projects tend to get blown out of proportion and take on a life of their own all for entertainment value. Another consideration is the tax liability the family is left with. It can be substantial and in some cases required the family to sell personal property just to meet those obligations. The attention can be very stressful also. Not trying to throw cold water on the party but these are some serious considerations that should be looked at before allowing Hollywood to intrude on the family and community. Besides, it sounds like the community and district personnel will handle the project just fine and in the end will likely be more gratifying for everyone.

Still a little green in my veins
11/15 Vicki,

How do we contribute towards the future bricks of the Foundation at the Memorial?

I can't find a weblink....

I want one brick to say... simply "THANKS" in big letters and rightly capitalized in honor of all of our losses over so many years, and our pledge to always remember them and never forget their sacrifices in the future.


11/14 This has been circulating on the fire intranet/email system and has been sent in by a number of people. I looked for the link and was only able to find this updated opinion: dailybulletin.com/opinions/ci_4659913. If anyone has the original link, please let us know.

The Abs have been contacted a number of times by the media to provide contacts and info. I always tell them to call Casey. Haw Haw. (Dick, they misspelled your last name the first time they quoted you.) Ab.

Blame in Esperanza fire deaths may shift to forest service employees

Guy McCarthy, Staff Writer
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Article Launched:11/11/2006 11:58:04 PM PST

Even though a jailed arson suspect is charged with murdering five firefighters in the Esperanza Fire, some Forest Service employees fear they too could be targeted for blame in the deaths.

At least four separate investigations are under way to explain exactly what happened Oct. 26 on Gorgonio View Road, where the crew of Engine 57 perished in a burn-over while trying to protect a home.

Some Forest Service employees are particularly wary of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of the Inspector General.

Veteran firefighters and advocate groups worry the IG will assign blame in the Esperanza Fire deaths rather than identify lessons that can improve firefighter safety in future blazes.

"I am concerned there is a need to introduce the human perspective into firefighting investigations, to ensure we learn as much as we can from these tragedies," said Richard J. Manga, Montana-based president of the nonprofit International Association of Wildland Fire. Mangan helped investigate the 1994 Storm King deaths of 14 smokejumpers and firefighters in Colorado.

"Too often we look at weather, fuels and fire behavior, but we don't look at human factors.

"With Engine 57, these guys lived nearby and they were protecting their own community," Mangan said. "I'd let a house burn down in some instances. But put me in my own community, and that might change things. That's a human factor to be considered."

The Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, a lobbying and advocacy group, has started a legal defense fund for anyone who was in a decision-making position at the scene of the burn-over on Gorgonio View, from engine operators on up.

"We were asked by some of our folks on the forest, San Bernardino, to look into availability of legal counsel," said Casey Judd, FWFSA business manager, who is based in Idaho.

"Some have already secured the help of a legal defense team who worked on the Cramer Fire," Judd said Monday,

referring to the July 2003 fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest in central Idaho. Two firefighters who rappelled from a helicopter to clear brush on a steep slope died when they were overrun by flames.

In the wake of investigations that followed, six Forest Service managers were disciplined, including an incident commander who left his job and served 18 months on federal probation.

The criminal prosecution stemmed in part from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspector General's investigation mandated by a 2002 law, Judd said.

"The Forest Service is the only federal land management agency investigating accidents and fatalities so aggressively, specifically to burnovers and entrapments," Judd said.


Mike Dietrich, fire chief for the San Bernardino National Forest, said he tells all his management employees to protect themselves with insurance.

"Because of this new law, every Forest Service employee who's in a management position should have professional liability insurance," Dietrich said. "This is a case of arson where federal employees have died, and I don't know what the outcome will be as far as the IG's investigation."

The 2002 Hastings Cantwell Act calls for an independent investigation of any Forest Service firefighter death caused by wildfire entrapment or burnover. Lawmakers cited four firefighter deaths in the 2001 Thirtymile Fire in Washington state, and the 1994 Storm King tragedy.

Paul Feeney, deputy counsel for the Department of Agriculture's inspector general in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday his office has dispatched investigators to the site of the fatalities in the Esperanza Fire. He said he could not discuss details of the inspector general's investigation.

"We're not trying to be coy or secretive," Feeney said in a phone interview. "We're just trying to do our work."

Mangan raised several concerns about the inspector general's anticipated approach.

"When we're on the fire line, we have a decision-making space of seconds," Mangan said. "But the U.S. Attorney can take two and a half years to review everything I did in my whole career and my training."

Before the Cramer Fire disciplinary and criminal actions, firefighters who witnessed or took part in fatal incidents were more open and forthcoming about discussing details that could improve firefighter safety, Mangan said.

"On the Thirtymile Fire, people were honest - Hey, I screwed up,"' Mangan said. "It was about lessons learned, not slamming your ass and putting you in jail."

Since the Esperanza Fire is only the second time the USDA inspector general has been assigned to a burnover or entrapment situation with Forest Service firefighter fatalities, many people are worried, Mangan said.

Fear of discipline and-or prosecution may discourage people from sharing information that could enhance firefighter safety, Mangan said.

"Everybody is looking very, very carefully at what comes out of Esperanza," Mangan said. "Could they say if these guys didn't follow their training, that they screwed up, that it was not the arsonist's fault they died? It's raising these kind of first-time questions."

Mangan and others who have worked on previous firefighter fatality investigations have been critical of the process.


Ted Putnam, an 11-year smokejumper, fire behavior specialist and psychologist based in Montana, studied the fatal fires at Storm King in 1994 and other firefighter fatalities before he retired in 1998.

Last year, Putnam received an IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Award and the Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award at a 10-year reunion conference addressing human factors in wildland firefighting.

Putnam is an outspoken critic of fire agency fatality investigations.

"Stress, fear and panic predictably lead to the collapse of clear thinking and organizational structure," Putnam said in a 1995 paper for the Forest Service on decision-making breakdowns that preceded the Storm King Mountain fatalities in Colorado in 1994.

"While these psychological and social processes have been well studied in the military and the aircraft industry, the wildland fire community has not supported similar research for the fireline," Putnam said.

"The fatal wildland fire entrapments of recent memory have a tragic common denominator: human error. The lesson is clear: studying the human side of fatal wildland fire accidents is overdue."

The void has yet to be filled, Putnam said in phone interviews.

"The one thing we never did, we have no training system on how to improve decision-making," Putnam said.

Mangan said Putnam worked for him during those investigations and that he and Putnam both refused to sign the initial report.

Mangan said he joined Putnam in not signing off on the initial report about Storm King fatalities because he felt there was "too much emphasis on mistakes made by individual firefighters, and not enough examination of managerial factors."

Agencies investigating the Esperanza Fire include:
Riverside County District Attorney
Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture
Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA)
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
U.S. Forest Service

fair use disclaimer

11/14 Thanks FC180 and FOBS7.

From the Mack II Investigative Report (Page 2):

"There was apparently little or no review of accidents such as the Loop Fire and Bailiff Fire to illustrate the importance of safety guidelines. None of the surviving Vista Grande crew was even aware of the Rios fatality on the Bailiff Fire in 1967. The Rios fatality occurred about three miles from the spot where Miller was burned. The Vista Grande crew was well acquainted with the 10 Standard Orders. They had no knowledge that the failure to heed five of the ten orders resulted in the Rios fatality within four miles of Vista Grande four years earlier."

I don't believe it was as simple as the 1971 investigators put it, but they did their best for what they knew back then. On the Mack II Fire, there was a complex set of weather patterns, fire behavior, human factors, stressors, and what is just simply noted best, the unknown....Things we may never fully understand, even though lots of us will continue to strive for understanding them... but will never know the true answers.

What concerns me is the lack of information on the Bailiff Fire. Back in 1971, the investigative team thought it was important enough to cite it (Bailiff Fire) several times in their investigative report..... but no official written record of the fire can be found anywhere other than the press?

FC180, there are only a handful of CDF folks left around that started in 1967 or prior.... I would venture to guess I probably know half of them already... I even know one that started in 1957 (if I remember correctly from my "lectures".. tongue in cheek and in all respect) who is still contributing on a regular basis in various ways to this community and by helping "CDF Firefighters", your Union, even though he never was represented by them during most of his career. I met him in 1984 while I was working in Solano County as a Volunteer FAE and then a paid Fire Captain for a rural fire protection district during my off seasons. FC180, I would love to talk with the person who had the first hand knowledge of the Bailiff Fire if you can put us in touch with each other through Ab.

FOBS7, I would love to have you to put me in touch with the person who has the large database of case reports from the 1960's through 1970's. How cool that someone has kept those records.

What kinda strikes me funny right now is that many of us have probably been chatting and battling with old friends for years here on They Said and never actually really realized it...... or we were taught by mentors who at some time knew each other in the past, times of despair, and taught us our beliefs and views and how we react to things now..... and now all of us "newbies" are starting to reap the rewards of corporate knowledge that can never be replaced, only built upon and and remembered. Now, that is a lesson learned that I hope to carry forward in the future.


11/14 John and Ken are two So. Cal radio hosts who are great! A few years ago they hosted a fundraiser called "Operation Homefront" where they raised quite a bit of money for families of soldiers off fighting the war.

They are going to host an event in Ontario CA for Mark, Jess, Jason, Pablo and Danny. If I can get around the I-15 closure I'll be there. I've missed the show these past few weeks but rumor has it that they were talking about the lack of benefits and the pay that we make versus the job that we do. Again I can't confirm that.

For more information on the equation below log on to: www.johnandkenshow.com/archives/2006/11/14/1218/.

For you So. Cal folks they are on the air Mon-Fri 3:00 - 7:00 pm and I think you can also listen over the internet.

Ab note: <no equation> the graphic was too complicated

See ya there!


11/14 Ab,

This is a fundraiser that two of our local radio shock jocks are doing to raise funds for the families of E-57. If it is like any of the other fundraisers they have done, there will be lots of money generated for the families, and of course... an increase in their listeners and ratings.




I am pleased to report that after a number of conversations with House & Senate leadership today, it is evident that they too share the desire to put HR 5697, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act will be placed on the House suspense calendar the week of December 4th.

Should it be passed by the House, it will be sent to the Senate for action. Thus we are ensuring the bill is on the radar screen of the senate leadership so that should it be passed by the House and sent to the Senate, they will act to pass it as well.

More to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

11/14 sbrrymom

You could buy a pair of White's and help finance all of the yuppie outdoor gear in
the new warehouse in Spokane or you could go online to Nicksboots.com and
request a sizing kit. You can order both off the shelf or custom built boots from
them. Can't stress enough the need for quality footgear for folks coming into the
fold at the entry level.


11/14 Re: Devils Den, As I wrote 10 years ago after the Dude Fire, ingress (e.g., Mann Gulch)
and egress (e.g., Point Fire) present dangerous situations in which LCES may be
compromised. Add scouting. I am terribly sorry for this loss - stay safe en route.

Old Sawyer.

11/14 Ab,

We are please to announce that the bricks that folks have been buying from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation are now in the ground at the Wildland Firefighter Monument inside the heart of NIFC.

After all the struggles, the meetings, etc......... Bodie Shaw BIA, Burk Minor WFF, and Dave Muller BLM, spent a $100.00 on sand... and laid all those bricks from early morn till evening, by themselves. As stout as those 3 guys are, I still think we should take up donations for them to see a chiropractor.

The installation has been designed so that it will be easy to add more new bricks...

My new brick order is going read.

Many Thanks to
the Abs

Thanks Abs for all that you do and are... You have created a place where we as a community and family can come and scrap, ask question, and answer questions, and argue, and share, and love, and heal....

Vicki Minor

Nice job, guys. Thanks Vicki. We Abs just do it 'cause it needs to be done.

11/14 Lobotomy RE the Bailiff Fire

An eye witness to the Bailiff Fire (he is still working for CDF) told me that Rios (the fire fatality victim) had been cutting hand line on a flank all night on the Bailiff and they were told to take a break. He proceeded to get above the fire in the green and the fire flared up and burned him to death. This happened on a ridgeline directly above the current location of the Ranch on the west end of Cabazon, south of the gravel pit. I have never seen any documentation except a forest rec map with a red dot and a date. The location coincides with what the witness told me. NE 1/4 Section 19, 3S 2E, SBBM. This fatality was also in late October, 10/30/1967.


The Devil's Den Fire final report is out: www.nifc.gov/ARB_Factual_Report.pdf

It reminds me of Rick Lupe's death on the Sawtooth RX burn - showing up late in the day, not really supposed to be there, pitching in but not really part of the command structure.

I've been frustrated more than once as an IC when a chief officer shows up, won't take command away from me but starts meddling and giving orders.

On the other hand, I can understand the noble intentions to look out for one's personnel and the post-Cramer paranoia of liability attached to delegated duty. It's not going to get any easier for FMOs and duty officers.

Another sad, sad lesson learned.

vfd cap'n
11/14 Ab,

Here's the Pinnacles 72 Hour Report on the BLM Water
Tender Rollover.


11/14 Lobotomy,

I believe that I have the entire collection of CDF “Green Sheets” and the oldest one is dated 9-25-1978, so you probably won’t find anything along those lines. Reference incident/case study reports, I have also been through the main storage files in Sacramento, and I do not recall seeing anything on the Bailiff fire.

This is the link to a story that ran Sunday on the Mack II fire, www.pe.com

The reporter that worked on this article mentioned to me that the newspaper office has a sound historical archive, and you may be able to find information at that site. In addition, feel free to contact me directly, and I may be able to put you in touch with someone who has a large database of case reports from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

11/14 Ab, here's a forwarded doc that has important news for groundpounders. SRJS

Sula Fire 2000, firefighting liability ruling (450 K pdf file)

Please read the attached. It's good news from a firefighter liability standpoint. The case involves a tort claim against the government with the plantiff claiming that a backfire ignited by a Division Supervisor resulted in property damage on the Sula Fire in 2000. The ruling sets a very broad framework for what constitutes discretionary function in conducting fire suppression operations. I expect we'll hear a big sigh of relief throughout the wildland fire community as they read this. In summary the the Judge states:

"A firefighter's weighing of risks becomes more complicated and more difficult with increasing development, but the balancing of risks and benefits constitutes policy-based discretion to execute the Government's duty to provide for the common good. Those decisions should not be "second guess[ed] . . . through the medium of an action in tort."

Congress created the land management agencies and granted authority and broad discretion to fight wildfires on public lands. How federal agencies fight wildland fires and balance the concomitant dangers to lives and property on public and adjacent lands constitutes the exercise of discretionary social, political, and economic policy.

The Government actions are protected by the discretionary function exception. Whether the Government employees' actions were wise, foolish, or negligent is irrelevant in considering whether the exception applies."

This is great news.

Mark Beighley
Director, Office of Wildland Fire Coordination
Department of the Interior

11/14 Anyone have any information on the Bailiff Fire that happened on the Riverside Ranger Unit of CDF and the San Bernardino National Forest on October 29, 1967?

From what I understand, it burned from the Bailiff Ranch near Cabazon/Banning to North Mountain near Hemet.... much like the Esperanza Fire. The little info available says it burned 28,000 acres.

The Bailiff Fire is also described to have killed one federal firefighter. Thank you RM for bringing that to my attention today. Thanks also Gizmo for trying to get to the bottom of some of the fire behavior issues.....

Less than four years later, the Mack II Fire killed Robert Maxwell Miller in the same general area. (Note to McClellan folks, the name on the classroom... "Banning"... is wrong). The Mack II Investigative Report references the lessons not learned from both the Bailiff and Loop Fires.

On October 1st, I posted about the Mack II Fire in a posting on They Said. It was an extreme sucker punch to have things hit home so personally so near in the future.... and so near to the area that the fatality happened in. The San Bernardino Folks must be blessed with some sort of forward thinking vision.... or a curse.

You see, the San Bernardino National Forest has been a leader for years..... Honor Guard.... Lessons Learned contributions..... Safety Protocol Review.... Foundational Doctrine.... They Said postings.... Support of the WFF ... etc.... etc.... etc.....

Then we get slammed.

This time, it struck home. Somehow, we have been preparing ourselves and others for another tragedy and helping others.... this time, it just struck us.... This time, I will remember how the entire wildland firefighting community, and the firefighting community as a whole came together to support each other.

11/14 sbrrymom

You can find White's boots at Pure Cowboy in the shopping center by OSH in
Sonora. They are a little pricey but good boots.

11/14 Ab,

Do you know where we can get the decals in remembrance of engine 57?


They're working on the logistics. Ab.

11/13 Good day All,

For those who haven't been to the Hotlist Forum recently, we have a new forum up and running. There is a section for IA, a section for "EA and large fire", a "Discussion" section for questions and comments relating to the fires posted on IA and EA portions of the hotlist, and a section to ask questions relating to how the new forum works and to address the more techie stuff relating to the forum for those having problems.

We think this new format will address issues different people had with the old one, namely that some people (dispatchers, firefighters used to comm traffic on fire) wanted the bare bones on IA of fires, while some others wanted to get their questions answered (what's happening now?), wanted to say thanks to this crew or that, etc. Those questions/comments/thanks can now go into the "discussion" section. If something is posted in the wrong place, moderators will remove it from the inappropriate section and put it in the right place and perhaps send a little email explaining (if/when we have time) until everyone gets the hang of the system.

We have worked hard on the "Frequently Asked Questions" section. Please review that first if you have a question.

You will need to re-register, choosing a moniker, initials or username. No email addys or commercial usernames, please. Those posting to theysaid who are attached to their regular monikers might want to consider snapping up their own monikers to reduce confusion if you want to post to the hotlist in the future. For the next two weeks or so we'll be trying to reserve the old timers monikers for the old timer theysaid contributors.

When you sign up, we get a notice and reply as soon as we can. Please be patient.

Thanks to the folks who helped with the beta testing. You saved us a great deal of time and we appreciate it.

The Abs



The FWFSA is working with key legislators to get HR 5697, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act added to the suspension calendar in Congress before this session ends.

The suspension calendar is a list of bills that are non-controversial and would be expected to pass if time permitted them to get to the floor. Passage of these bills requires a 2/3rds vote and bills are not amendable.

The suspension calendar is a perfect place for HR 5697 because it was reported out of the Government Reform Committee by unanimous consent meaning that members of the committee from both sides of the aisle agreed to report it out favorably.

In order to get it on the suspension calendar, we are working with the office of the Author, Rep. Pombo, as well as the offices of the following:

Government Reform Committee Chairman (majority party) Tom Davis (R-VA)
" " " Ranking Member (minority party) Henry Waxman (D-CA)

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO)
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD

and a few others.

Those of you firmly believing that the time has come to create a wildland firefighter series can help.

First and foremost, contact should be made with Pombo's office. He's the author and if he wants to move something before the balance of power changes he certainly has the ability to do so.

Pombo's fax is: 202-226-0861
The DC office # is 202-225-1947
emails should go to: michael.defilippis@mail.house.gov

NOTE: I will provide contacts for the other offices as it becomes necessary.

If you choose to contact Pombo's office, simply state who you are, what you are (federal wildland firefighter), supporter thereof etc., where you live and your request to have HR 5697, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act added to the suspension calendar.

If you want to add "on behalf of those lost and seriously injured in wildfires this season" or "on behalf of federal wildland firefighters across the nation..." feel free to do so.

To track the number of contacts he gets, it would be great if you would be willing to Cc the FWFSA by fax 208-775-4577, email: cjudd@fwfsa.org or via the web contact form on our web page.

There is very little time left to work this issue. This week Congress is working to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) which will fund the government until they return Dec. 4th to take up the suspension calendar and other actions.

Additionally, the Senate Interior Appropriations bill is still a viable vehicle for HR 408, The Federal Wildland Firefighter Emergency Response Compensation Act. If you choose, while contacting Pombo's office on the classification bill, you can also ask for movement on HR 408.

Ironically, Sen. Burns is the Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Committee and he is well aware of our efforts to move 408. I'm not sure how receptive he'll be to firefighters after his loss but it can't hurt to try.

His fax is 202-224-8594
Office # 202-224-2644
Staff contact: heather_stefanik@burns.senate.gov

PLEASE be respectful in your communications with these two offices. Like them or not, they have done more than their fair share for wildland firefighters over the years, foot-in-mouth disease (Burns) notwithstanding.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

11/13 The contact is Julie. Toll free number is 1 800-560-0111. She told me a brief description of the fact it didn't air on T.V. The web cast is the only thing available but they can Convert to DVD or VHS format.

I hope this helps!

Always Remember!


11/13 Re Frank Millers death:

I'm heart broken, again.

Thanks Abs for having this website where fire folks, of all kinds, can come and sit and read about friends/family and news, in a factual setting, and have a place to talk and ....listen sometimes!

La Diabla, thanks so much for posting the loss of Frank Miller. I posted on the legacy.com 11/13 to discover that they might not be accepting posts after 11/12. Nice article.

Heartfelt words of "Gone but not forgotten" ring true here. Frank trained me for IA and A/C dispatching years ago. I think of his logic, humor and advice every fire season I send a person to a fire. I have called him intending to visit: but got way-laid by fires while in AZ. He was truly inspirational.

I only wish that I could've brightened his day, by a card or a word. But: pls relay to his family: he will not be forgotten for a minute! He was one of my mentors, and lives on through me, and he wouldv'e liked that, I'm sure, always a teacher.

lobo in TX
11/13 Respectfully,

More sad news to report - we have lost a great firefighter and friend, Frank Miller who was the Arizona BLM State Aviation Manager. For those of you who knew Frank, you were lucky indeed and for those of you who did not have the wonderful opportunity to know him personally, his steady presence in aviation policy and procedure influences your safety each and every day. Frank will be greatly missed by myself and many others! This has been a rough year for all of us - please take a moment to reflect on all those who passed this year and on your family and friends who support us all.


The BLM Honor Guard will be representing the fire community at tomorrow's services in Boise, ID and a memorial will be held at the Wildlandfighter Memorial on Wednesday at NIFC. Frank's last wishes were to come home to Idaho! May your soul forever soar with the eagles Frank!

Thank You!

La Diabla
11/13 Dear Ab:

I was contacted this morning by a woman from the company. I contacted them through the link on They Said 11/6 . She said it would be a copy of the web cast recorded in either DVD or VHS format. The Cost was 95 dollars plus shipping I believe. Not Sure of the Quality but it might be a good investment so the people at the districts can see it.

It took just about a week to for them to get in touch with me. I have the 1-800 number or my desk at work. I guess I can walk over there if anybody shows an interest.

Well Everyone have a Safe And Wonderful Holiday Season!!!

Sign Me.


Yes, we would like the number. Is this going to be a 52 mile walk to your office? Ab. (tongue in cheek)

11/13 Ab,

I'm sure you have been inundated with questions regarding the entire
E-57 Memorial Video. I tried the link that someone posted back on the 6th
and they seem to have no idea what I'm talking about regarding the video.
Any information on where I can order one for the district fire folks?
Below is the posting that was listed on the 6th.

Thanks, JTO

-Cara wrote:

CBS 2 has a video of the memorial service posted at

If you would like to purchase a copy of the video the form
and 800 number are at https://system.netsuite.com.

Cara, any updated info on where this can be purchased or who we might ask? Anyone on Feser's Team know? Chuck? Ab.

11/13 Here's a good lessons learned review, of an incident that could have been tragic.


Potential Entrapment, Rivera Mesa Fire (MS Word doc file)
New Mexico State Forestry, Las Vegas, New Mexico
June 18, 2006

11/13 Ab:

I have some slightly dated training material. Everything for S-211
and some other stuff. I'm cleaning up and planning to get rid of it
unless someone wants it.

You're welcome to give my email to anyone interested.


11/13 Fire in California Ecosystems

Pricey, but a very good book for those interested in more than just
suppression. This will probably be one of the textbooks folks have to use
to get their 401's..............


Added it to the Book Reviews List. Ab.

11/13 Capt 3-1;

I have to agree with Lobotomy; how we deal with losses has definitely improved over the years, albeit slowly. Many years ago, I watched my good friend Teddy cartwheel his C-119 across a canyon; we all were expected to continue working, and on arriving home, the most we ever learned about services, etc, was reading a couple of news clippings about his funeral (after the fact). While stunned, horrified, and angered (always my first response) at the loss of E-57, I've been thrilled and heartened by the amazing response of our community, and the public in general.

Hang in there, everyone. You're beginning to be recognized as human by the rest of the world. We are firefighters.


While in Reno, you might check D-M Tack Store; they stock White's, Hathorn's, etc., in many sizes and types. Good folks, too.

Pyro 5755

11/13 I am looking for information on ff boots. My son needs to get boots and he cannot find any thing locally (Sonora, CA) and would like some input as to style, brands and where to buy them.

We will be in Reno, NV next weekend and are hoping there is someplace there to go get fitted and purchase.

He is working full time, attending Columbia College (Fire Technology) and was just accepted as a trainee with Tuolumne County Fire Department at Station <snip> and will start their training program in Jan along with the Academy at the College. (busy boy wants try and keep working a bit also). Thus, I get to do the leg work (ha-ha I see my check book in use too).

So any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Be Safe,

Hi Sbrrymom. The <snip> is to avoid his embarrassment when he moves on up and writes in here. Happens faster than you think. Ab.

11/13 Got My Hammer

Been There Done That... for a very long time. Not looking for
an education, Just posting my 2 cents worth.


How true. Thanks for your contributions CW. Ab.

11/13 Firepig, you may think you are not deserving of thanks for sharing the e-mail of a friend in support of their losses. We all contribute in our own special ways.

Thank you.

Think again. Everyone who shares in communication reaps great rewards for their friends and families.

2 Cents

These are several recent press items....

2 cents

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Contra Costa Times, CA - November 13

In August, I wrote about Jesse Shirley, the El Dorado Hotshots firefighter who was seriously burned in a Nevada fire, and his recuperation. His mother, Thea, called me and wanted to update everyone about Jesse's condition.

She said Jesse is back to limited light duty. He cannot be outdoors without protection from the sun, and it will be another year before he is ready to assume his duties again.

After the terrible loss of four firefighters just a few weeks ago in Southern California, and a fifth who had been hospitalized with burns over 90 percent of his body, Jesse called the Forestry Service to see if he could help. He flew to Southern California to stay with that firefighter, Pablo Cerda, and his family at the hospital. Unfortunately, Cerda succumbed to his burns.

Thea and her husband, Jim, wanted to thank everyone for their letters and cards while Jesse was recuperating, and they wanted people to know about the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, where people can make donations to help these firefighters and their families and others around the West who need assistance. If you'd like to help, go to www.wffoundation.org.

Bakersfield Californian, November 8

Raffle to benefit families of firefighters killed in wildfire

A raffle benefiting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is under way.

Proceeds will aid the families of five firefighters killed in the Esperanza fire. The winner will receive a sewing machine.

Rawles Sewing Machines and Vacuum Cleaners is sponsoring the drawing. Tickets are $1 each or $5 for six. The drawing will be at 4 p.m. Dec. 2 and you do not need to be present to win.

Rawles is inside the Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts, 3010 Ming Ave. For more information, call Helen at 831-1411 or 809-8069.

Sierra Sun, November 7

"Tahoe National Forest employees collected close to $10,000 during the "fill the boot" drive on Sunday to support the families of the five firefighters killed in a Southern California arson fire."

"All donations from Sunday's fundraiser will go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, an organization that provides immediate financial and emotional assistance for the families of fallen firefighters."

"Ferguson said a lot of people recognized the boots the firefighters were holding and knew their money was going to a worthy cause."

Redlands Daily Facts, November 6

A fund has been set up at Arrowhead Credit Union by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in support of the families. Donations may be made at any Arrowhead Credit Union or may be sent to Wildland Firefighter Foundation, 2049 Airport Way, Boise, Idaho, 83705.

Yuba.Net, November 6

Eldorado Hotshots Plan 52-Mile Walk Fundraiser

11/13 Hi Ab,

We've had lots of suggestions and questions regarding the Foundation being
listed on the Combined Federal Campaign. We are, this year for the first
time, listed on the Southwest Idaho CFC. The national campaign is very
stringent and the qualifications are tough. We've been pulling together all
the statistics required to apply, as the application deadline is January 30,
2007. Once the application is complete, we'll then go through the selection
process hoping that we provided enough information so that we will be listed
on the National CFC in 2007. We'll also go through the required audit for
the National CFC - we had our very first audit for the SW Idaho CFC earlier
this year.

The audit revealed that our administrative expenses (overhead) are only 7%!
The Foundation has operated very lean for a number of years. Seven percent
is very low and a credit to our staff - just 3 full time staff members
(incredible work-horses!) - who keep the Foundation going, not only
assisting the families in times of crisis and need, but also growing and
maintaining the 52 Club, selling merchandise to raise funds, planning and
organizing our "Family Fire" event each year, sending out statues when there
is a fatality, assisting in planning Ken's Run, and the list goes on, and
on. There were many times that Vicki chose to forego her salary to ensure
that our staff had a payday.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation would not exist without the amazing
support of our community. Each member of the 52 Club, every donor, every
Ken's Run pledge, each and every one of you have helped build something we
can all be proud of, and in the process, helped many wildland firefighter
families who have experienced a loss, or an injury.

Thank you from the very bottom of our hearts.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
11/13 CW,

Thank you for your concern for wildland firefighters and your support of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

You seem to be a firefighter or someone closely related to a firefighter. I don't know, just guessing.

You also seem to be reading WAY TO MUCH into my posts. Relax a little.

Firefighters are acutely aware of the need for charitable organizations. Some charitable organizations do better than others with administrative costs, and unfortunately, some organizations prey on the unknowing in times of crisis.

Believe it or not, there are "charitable" organizations out there that charge a 60% or better administrative fee. To better understand that, think of yourself giving a dollar to a charity for a specific purpose, only to find out the only 40 cents of your donation went to the cause you were giving to.

When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, it often times brings out the best and worst in charitable organizations. If you don't believe me, think about what happened after 9/11. Like 9/11, this tragedy brought out the best and worst charitable organizations...... I'll leave it at that before I offend anyone.....

Actually, No I won't.... I've seen it first hand during the last three weeks and it took lots of people to stop that crap in its tracks, or atleast slow it down. There is another "Foundation" out there other than the WFF. This one is a MULTI-MILLION $$$ Foundation funded by license plate sales, through taxpayer dollars, and through individual and corporate donations. It is not hurting and should have never stepped in, and charges an astronomical administrative fee that the public and most firefighters are unaware of. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation should be asking them for a donation to recoup their outlays during the first three days, and successive costs to date...... While the Wildland Firefighter Foundation was helping the families with their immediate needs, this other "Foundation" was hitting the press and doing other things that were so disgusting I cannot, and will not explain.

CW, I agree with you. Each person should decide where their money goes and what it is used for. Where we separate paths is not educating firefighters and the community on the risks and gains. Part of knowing the risks is getting a complete look at all of the info. Part of the gains is knowing the charitable organizations BEFORE an accident ever happens.... then you make your final decision.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation was making flight and travel arrangements for families even before the tragedy was announced by the press. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is doing more, and will continue to do more for our fallen firefighters families than anyone will ever realize.... unless you have been there, done that, and been in the middle of it, just take my word on it.

Got My Hammer

Phew, Vicki, sign this guy/gal up! Let him/her keep the hammer. Ab.

11/13 Captain 3-1,

Things will get better someday, and we hopefully will all be able to honor our fallen better in the future.

As you begin your memorial services tomorrow, remember, we (the entire wildland fire community) have got your backs. All of us will do what is right regardless of rules and/or procedures that are flawed.

It doesn't hit home until it hits home. We need to make sure our firefighters and their families are better protected in the future. Thanks to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF) and the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA) for all that you are doing and will continue to do in the future.

11/12 2 Cents,

I have nothing to do with it other than relaying the message from one
board to another. Whoever did come up with the idea and got the ball
rolling is the one deserving of any praise.

Stay safe.

For those who did not hear of this fundraiser, a Friday post by FirePig; don't miss it:

Pole Position Raceway, an indoor Go Kart track in Corona, CA is hosting a
fundraiser for Engine 57 this coming Wednesday 11/15/06.


Here's what a young lady who hangs out on a desert motorcycle racing
website I'm a member of sent me:

"Firefighter fundraiser at Pole Position Raceway in Corona, CA on November
15th. This is a special benefit to raise money for the families of the
five firefighters who lost their lives fighting the Esperanza fire. For
those who do not wish to race, donations will be accepted. Each standard
(14 lap) race will be $25.00. They will "keep the doors open until there
are no more racers".

This is a great cause ... and Pole Position is a very family oriented
venue! Hope to see ya there!"

11/12 Lori-

Good post. Thanks for noticing about who steps up so often, It always amazes me how some accidents affect the public so much more that others. As far as media coverage or recognition goes so many go by with so little and some become such a big deal. Then in compensation one family gets $5000.00 and another gets $150,000.00. Not fair really but then I guess nothing seems fair when accidents happen.... Weren't they ALL good firefighters worthy of remembrance?

Got my Hammer

As far as "Most of us just want every cent to go to the families" How is it that you know what most of us want? Seems if you read enough here that you will find there is no such thing, with the exception of less accidents. As for me I give and then let that organization decide what to do with it. How do we keep the doors open at places like the Wildland Firefighter Foundation without employees getting a pay check now and then? or paying the rent or electric bills ? If you truly want to see organizations like these keep the doors open to help in the year 2007 or 2027 then we must let them decide where the money goes. It seems short sided and unfair to expect them to give "every penny" to the families of one particular accident. I do understand that some funds are earmarked for certain families, I just think the bulk should be a general fund donation to an organization you believe in.

I say choose wisely where you give your money and then just LET IT GO.


11/12 Ab -

We're into the CFC season (Combined Federal Campaign). I noticed that
the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is not listed among the charities. It's too
late for this year, but hopefully they can get listed for next year, it would
boost their financials significantly.


11/12 Dear Rogue...

We're already on the Hastings-Cantwell bill. As I may have posted before, both Hastings & Cantwell's offices were obviously unaware of the "collateral damage" the legislation would result in.

In 2004 we solicited feedback from those who had the quals for an ICT assignment to determine what, if any, impact the investigatory process had on them. We got quite a response. We contacted folks on the Hill, including Cantwell & Hastings to let them know of the feedback and that perhaps hearings on the matter would be beneficial.

Obviously we want to be respectful of the nature of the legislation and the families that lost loved-ones on Thirty-Mile & Cramer. 2004 & 2005 did not result in any major problems with folks not taking ICT 3 assignments so we didn't push for the hearings.

After the Esperanza tragedy, as you can imagine, many were concerned about the investigatory process, including the press. In fact I am still fielding calls from them on the matter. Additionally, Sen. Feinstein's office has assured me they will address the issue immediately.

There is a lot of turmoil and hurt feelings on Capitol Hill. The next few weeks will be challenging but the FWFSA will do everything in its power to focus attention on HR 5697, the classification bill, HR 408, the portal to portal bill and the Hastings-Cantwell bill.

If AB will allow me, I'll again post some "contact" information so folks can let members of congress hear from our wildland firefighters on these issues. I should have that to the site later today.

I have prepared a press release on the classification bill which will go out to all CA congressional offices starting today as well as many press contacts in an effort to get this bill to the floor. AB has a copy of the release and is more than welcome to post it.

Working feverishly from snowy SE Idaho,


FWFSA press release

11/11 FirePig,

What a great idea for a local fundraiser for the families of Mark, Gus, Jason, Danny, and Pablo at the local Go-Kart Track. Local people who are touched by a tragedy usually get the ball rolling for their friends. This time, who knows where the chain of loving began.

Your posting set into a chain of action, a tremendous network of people who are looking at the future of our community.

You may not believe it, but your idea has evolved into possible future NASCAR sponsorships, the NASCAR Foundation, and large scale ways to make sure we never have to do fundraising ever again for our fallen and their families.

When friends, families, an co-workers all come together for a united cause, it is amazing to see what can happen. It just sucks that it has to be under these horrific circumstances...... We need to truly honor what our lost brothers have brought back to our community, and what they will bring in the future. Can't even begin to put it into words how much we will miss them, and how much we should honor them and their families in the future.

Thanks for everyone who rallied and got the coin counting machine donated for the families!!! Seemed pretty small at the time, but ya'all stepped up. Makes me proud to be a wildland firefighter and a member of this wildland firefighting community (and family).

2 Cents
11/11 Does anyone know if a meteorologist is a member of the Esperanza Fire accident investigation team?

If I am correct, the Beaumont RAWS is a NFDRS RAWS. NFDRS RAWS are supposed to be reliable and accurate data collection points. It is even a "30 Mile Action Item".

When I look at the "Green Sheet" below, they show "-ND-" on it during the 6 am to 7 am period. If I am correct, that means "No Data".

I know from past experience, it is not uncommon to get rogue winds during a developing Santa Ana. While not common or predictable, it could be plausible that a rogue gust of wind caused that reading of 100 mph and initiated a chain of events. Maybe this time, during an accident, a RAWS actually caught some important data during the accident initiation phase, and some people just can't believe the advanced technology we have in place?

I have been knocked off my feet, many years before, during Santa Ana's near the Cajon Pass. Once in the early 80's and once in the early 90's. During the early 1990's event, 1000 KV power trestles rated and 120 mph fell to the ground and started fires. Usually those events are a more NE aligned event and extremely rare. Check the records on the internet, it will tell you it takes an 80-100 mph wind to take people off their feet.

The event in the San Gorgonio Pass was a more Easterly aligned event at the time of the accident. It was such a rapidly progressing wind event, that it went from NW to nearly due East within a twelve hour period.

A meteorologist could explain and follow their data better since they have the ability to search their archives of high and low pressure movement, pressure gradients, soundings, AWS and METAR station readings, model guidance, and what was happening with this complex weather pattern during the pre, during, and post accident phase.

The time frame of the RAWS discrepancies has some very important significance to me. CDF has some of the best RAWS maintenance and calibration technician folks around. I trust their RAWS data. Why doesn't the "green sheet"?

Nearly forty air miles away, DUE west towards the coast, the Fremont Canyon RAWS was showing gusts of over 51 mph during this developing Santa Ana condition. If this were a NE aligned event and strong..... the Fremont RAWS would have shown gusts in the 70-80 mph range, or higher.

I was around when the Fremont RAWS was tipped over many years ago and showed an astronomical wind speed during a developing Santa Ana..... huge wind and then it stopped transmitting completely.... We all thought it had failed somehow..... It did, it was ripped out of the ground from its stakes!!!!

RAWS Tech's, help me on this one, what are the "lunar landers" rated at for wind speed? Been awhile since I was a RAWS Tech. If I remember correctly over 100 mph.

I bums me out that finally a rare wind phenomenon may have been caught on RAWS that could help prevent burnover accidents in the future, and the initial "Green Sheet" investigators are downplaying the significance of this potential, and rare increase in wind speeds.

In great respect and honor of our fallen friends, their families, and our comrades.


What a surprise to see those pictures after 50 plus years. Alan Turk identified several of the guys on the crew. I started as a Hotshot in the 1952 season, and became the L.P. Hotshot truck driver in 1953, and drove and fought fires during the 1954 & 1955 seasons also. That's probably me (Bob Purvis) standing by the Hotshot truck in one photo. I think that is Joe Gonzalez (5th from left in top row), and Lee Powers (somewhere) in the other photo. I agree that that's Porky Moreno (seated front row, far left), and Ed Bensen (standing far left in top row). A lot of these guys had gone to Santa Ynez High School . . Alan Turk, Denny Treloar, Joe Gonzalez, Lee Powers, and myself, among others.

It was great to see some of these old friends at the 50 year L.P. Hotshot Anniversary get together held in 1999 (actually delayed until 2001 due to extended fire season).

Thanks for putting these photos on your site.
. . . Bob Purvis

Whoohoo. Thanks, Bob. I'll add that info to the photo descriptions page. Ab.

11/11 Ab doesn't want heavy politics here but I thought I'd offer some clarity as to why folks like Pelosi & Reid are not cosponsors on HR 408.

There a number of leadership positions in both parties for which co-sponsorship is sort of an unwritten taboo. Odd concerning the ethical issues that face Congress each year! With Pelosi being Minority Leader in the House & Reid being the Minority Leader in the Senate, they are not likely cosponsors of this type of legislation.

Others who have indicated their support for the legislation but will not cosponsor are John Boehner, current Majority Leader in the House, as well as Rep. Jon Porter, current Chairman of the Federal Workforce & Agency Organization Subcommittee and Jerry Lewis, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Lewis refrains from cosponsoring legislation that would potentially require additional appropriations and thus present a possible conflict of interest. That doesn't mean that those who don't cosponsor are not actively participating in the movement of the bill(s) behind the scenes.

Since HR 408 is within the jurisdiction of Porter's subcommittee, he won't cosponsor. However, his support is evident by the fact that he held hearings on the bill and quite candidly ripped OPM & the Forest Service. If he was not supportive of HR 408, it would have never seen the light of day with respect to hearings.

Also remember that it was Porter's subcommittee who drafted the language for the classification bill. Again with such a bill in his subcommittee's jurisdiction, he wouldn't author or cosponsor it but deferred it to Pombo for introduction as a courtesy.

The full committee (Government Reform) marked up the classification bill and reported it out of the committee by unanimous consent which meant that Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) & Ranking member (which means the ranking minority party member) Henry Waxman (D-CA) both agreed to the bill as did all members of the committee.

It is very possible that Waxman will become the chairman of that full committee. This coming week the "just an office manager" guy with FWFSA will be hot on Waxman, Davis, Pombo, Boehner and others, including Senator Feinstein to get the classification bill to the floor for immediate action.

Hopefully that clarifies the co-sponsorship issue.

Lovingly signed by:

Just an Office Manager
11/11 Casey:

Excellent responses to mine and others' posts regarding the need to separate out the larger environmental issues from the one that you and your organization have been advocating so well. I stand corrected and suitably chastised.

And to the other poster who reminded me that neither Reid nor Pelosi signed onto the Pombo bill, I stand similarly corrected - excellent point. Admittedly, the Democratic leadership have bigger fresh to fry, at least in the near-term. But I would advise everyone to remember that the Democrats now hold the power on getting a bill to the President's desk, so perhaps the focus should shift slightly.

What is MOST encouraging, Casey, is your even-handed approach, and the very firm message that "the FWFSA will not skip a beat on working the issues. It doesn't matter if Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives or polka-dotted elephants run Congress. We'll educate all of them until our federal wildland firefighters get the pay & benefits they deserve."

And Casey, you are right on about focusing any non-pay issue right where the problem emanates, ie, with Mr. Rey. Reference an article I wrote for the Boise Statesman three years ago regarding the spurious arguments used to dismantle the practically the entire airtanker fleet without regard to identifying the other good vendors aside from Aero Union ... to say nothing of Mr Rey's outright lying via his fire mouthpiece at NIFC Rose Davis regarding the capability of SEATS and heavy helicopters to replace heavy airtankers.

And to Ab, who stated that Actions are always louder than words but, Casey, I'm glad you have both words and actions. Ab, I say Amen to that, having spent literally three years of my post-retirement life working on ADFA pay issues, as well as actively participating as an AOBD during the "airtanker-less years."
Good luck to all of you.

Hugh Carson
11/11 Casey,

While you and other members of this community, and some FWFSA members are so focused, how about changing the Hastings/Cantwell Bill so that lessons learned will be shared with everyone in the future?... Goal: Reduce and or prevent future wildland firefighter accidents in the future?...... Not through redacted bullsh*t that comes out of OIG that most of us are getting when we ask for the true facts from the gov..... Somehow there needs to be a way to get through the FOIA process without all of the CYA BS that the agencies keep giving out anytime a FOIA request comes in for facts on why wildland firefighters continue to be killed and injured.

I thought the intent of the Hastings/Cantwell Bills were to improve wildland firefighter safety..... those of us in the field know it only increases the risks and leads to lessons never learned. Maybe some folks in WA, OR, and ID need to step up and say BS to their elected officials and how they have treated wildland firefighters in their hasty actions in the past..... A noble goal, but a misdirected goal.

Just a thought.....

Rogue Rivers
11/11 Midwest Fire Guy-

I don't want to beat a dead horse here, political or
not, but here goes... Forgive me Ab. ;)

Conrad Burns lost to Tester by roughly 3,000 votes. I
would like to think that a majority of those 3,000
votes were from fire folks. There are plenty of
firefighters in the state, and all it would take to
get that many votes is a few people in each town and
city in Montana. I can't say if it was a "dagger in
the heart" or not, but I do know that it probably
didn't help him much.

Young and Dumb in Region One
11/11 To Calkins:

Vicki (although she'll never admit it, and kick me for saying it), is pooped and needs to rest some. She won't of course and Burke is there to help. The FWFSA can help too. Just let us know what we can do with respect to the logistics on the stickers. We've got a Director & many members on the BDF that can also help.

We've also got a lot of folks, both BLM & Forest Service in SE Idaho I'm trying to motivate as well for donations.

Please feel free to contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or call me at 208-775-4577, we'd be glad to help.

11/11 Ab,

I saw someone looking for this info. I thought it was already posted. See attached files for the Green Sheet and several different maps.


Esperanza Green Sheet (word doc) / Spread Map (pdf file) / Labeled Contour Map (pdf file) / Site Map (pdf file) / Site Map Detail (pdf file)

11/11 Casey; Well said. You are a great American. I wish you were my union rep.


Casey is no one's union rep, just an "office manager". Sure is a knowledgeable one. Ab.

11/11 Hey ab,

We got the POV stickers, just need to figure out how to get them sent out.
Kind of a logistical problem, on duty sales, etc, etc. So I will contact
Vicky Minor and see if she can help us out with this dilemma. so lets be
patient, we will get them out as soon as possible. If you work on the
Berdo, you know how to get a hold of me. Maybe we can get them spread out
over the district and get the money where it needs to go, off-duty of
course :)...

Stickers will be 5$ a piece, with donations going to the families/WFF Fund,
we cant forget to help out Vicki, we know how she helped us out.


11/11 OK,

I've got to chime in here once more because I don't suppose there is anyone who posts on this forum who knows Congressman Pombo better than I. I have spent 12 years developing a relationship with him, his family & staff. I have taken the time to educate him on the issues and taken the time to initiate dialogue with him and many other "rabid radicals of the right." (also loony liberals of the left) Why??? Because they've run the show for the past 12 years. And, unlike backseat drivers, have been able to change their minds on issues because I've taken the time to work with them rather than stand on the sidelines ranting about them.

Let's be honest. Much of what is thought about any given politician (and I'm guessing neither Mollyboy or Hugh C. live in California's 11th congressional district) is developed through the media. It's easy to "label" politicians as this or that based upon what one reads or hears and how that information is spun by either a Democratic newspaper or a Republican newspaper.

I'll say it again. I don't agree with many members of congress as it relates to their ideology on a variety of issues. However if the FWFSA were to try and advance the issues on behalf of federal wildland firefighters based upon the "perfect, pleasing to all" candidate...we'd make no progress at all...Because there are none.

The irritation in this post is directed at the labeling of an individual based not on personal knowledge, but through a collective process of 1) one's own beliefs 2) the inference that the politician's beliefs are different 3) what one reads and hears 4) the lack of any real effort to engage the politician on the issues, preferring to stand on the sidelines and bash them while others work their collectives A_ _s off with those rabid politicians on behalf of the same folks who are branding them as evil.

With all due respect to Hugh C. & Mollyboy, there appears to be no mention of the $5million "out of district" money spent to defeat Pombo, for a seat that pays $150 grand??? Thought provoking sums. Now, the residents of the 11th district have sent packing the House Resources committee chairman for a rookie who, regardless of his party's control of the House, will be relegated to the "back row" and be told to shut up & listen for a few years before he says anything that will likely be heard... even by his own party's leadership.

Folks...there is no perfect politician. You try to educate them all. You remain persistent, regardless of party affiliation. That's why we have more democratic cosponsors on Pombo's legislation than Republicans...because we're colorblind to party, color blind to ideology and simply expect every one of them in DC to understand our plight and go to bat for our federal wildland firefighters.

Focus your ire on those who truly deserve it... start with Mark Rey. To original Hugh, as I've already posted, the FWFSA will not skip a beat on working the issues. It doesn't matter if Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives or polka-dotted elephants run Congress. We'll educate all of them until our federal wildland firefighters get the pay & benefits they deserve.


Actions are always louder than words but, Casey, I'm glad you have both words and actions. Ab.

11/11 Ab sorry that I confused people

Anyway hugh carson, last time I looked Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi were not co-sponsors of the bill. You may have not liked Pombo but his name is on the record! I'm afraid that to pelosi and reid we are but small fish and they are looking to get even with the right and even if it was the right thing to do (pass the bill) they wouldn't be able to swallow their pride and DO IT! Just my humble opinion and oh yeah look what conrad burns did..... His actions were LOUDER than his WORDS.... my my, and we threw him a dagger.... nice

Casey, Hang in there. Maybe just maybe the Bill could get passed before the demo's take over...

original hugh

OK folks, we're not going to get heavy into politics here. There are plenty of sites you can go to that cater to political discussions. Ab.

11/11 RE: R&R

Here is a link to the "Red Book"

Federal Employees (BLM/USFS/NPS/FWS) follow this policy. BIA has the "Blue Book" and it would have similar info.


Release Date: January 2006 06-3

Assignment Definition
An assignment is defined as the time period (days) between the first full operational period at the first incident or reporting location on the original resource order and commencement of return travel to the home unit.

Length of Assignment
Standard assignment length is 14 days, exclusive of travel from and to home unit, with possible extensions identified below. Time spent in staging and preposition status counts toward the 14-day limit, regardless of pay status, for all personnel, including Incident Management Teams.

Days Off
After completion of a 14 day assignment and return to the home unit, two mandatory days off will be provided (2 after 14). Days off must occur on the calendar days immediately following the return travel in order to be charged to the incident. (See Section 12.1-2) (5 U.S.C. 6104, 5 CFR 610.301-306, and 56 Comp. Gen. Decision 393 (1977). If the next day(s) upon return from an incident is/are a regular work day(s), a paid day(s) off will be authorized. Regulations may preclude authorizing this for non-NWCG and state/local 32 employees.

Pay entitlement, including administrative leave, for a paid day(s) off cannot be authorized on the individual’s regular day(s) off at their home unit. Agencies will apply holiday pay regulations, as appropriate. A paid day off is recorded on home unit time records according to agency requirements. Casuals (AD) are not entitled to paid day(s) off upon release from the incident or at their point of hire.

Contract resources are not entitled to paid day(s) off upon release from the incident or at their point of hire.

Home unit agency administrators may authorize additional day(s) off with compensation to further mitigate fatigue. If authorized, home unit program funds will be used.


You said that "..since Conrad's "Dagger in the Heart" could well have been his comments to the Augusta IHC last summer in Billings, Montana airport." Maybe, but don't read to much into that. More likely the good folks of Montana were dismayed that Mr. Burns had become so close to Jack Abramoff. Along with his close association with Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Burns seems to have suffered from chronic foot in mouth syndrome. See the link to wikipedia article.


Midwest Fire Guy

11/11 Where can we purchase the vehicle decal? Do the funds go to the families?



11/11 Ab,

Here is a pile burn of 140 acres near some homes I burned on
Thursday. I might have to make it the Family Christmas Card lol


Thanks, I put it on the Fire 33 photo page. Definitely end of the season in northern USA. Ab.

11/11 There is some confusion over the hugh moniker.

hugh who wrote in with the question about the firefighter bill is original hugh. If you check back in the archives he's there often speaking to firefighter issues. Well, now that I look back, he's mostly in the old old theysaid archives which are not available online for viewing.

Mollysboy may have been replying to the Hugh I think he knows - Hugh Carson - who has been a strong recent participant on theysaid and an advocate for wildland firefighters, most recently for AD firefighters.

I have gone back and added <original> to original hugh's posts to try to clarify.

11/11 Dear Hugh, both of you & Mollysboy:

First to Mollyboy... a bit of history regarding Pombo & Burns.

In 1994 it was taboo for labor groups, federal employees etc., to consider even speaking to "anti-labor" Republicans like Pombo, Burns and many others. Oddly enough, Pombo & Burns turned out to be champions for federal wildland firefighters.

Those federal wildland firefighters enjoying the extra pay from the elimination of the overtime pay cap in 2000 can thank Pombo & Burns. Those deserving of portal to portal pay & proper classification can also thank Pombo.

Let's face it, there is no one candidate in any local, state or national forum that can please everyone all the time. Those of us representing federal wildland firefighters work to educate all members of congress on the issues.

I certainly don't agree with some of the ideas of Pombo, Bush, Burns, or for that matter many Democrats who also support our issues. You can personally assess their importance to you based on environmental policy,etc. We at the FWFSA must assess their importance based on their willingness to work to achieve the pay & benefits you deserve.

I don't agree with most of the President's policies. However if someone provides me the opportunity to bend his ear on issues that affect our federal wildland firefighters and provides me a forum to educate him as well, I'm going to take it.

In my humble opinion, the policies that you should be concerned about emanate from Mark Rey, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment. Those policies include not funding preparedness resources and diverting preparedness funds to non-fire projects; failing to join in the effort to properly classify our firefighters, etc. Those, Folks, are the true candidates that need replacing.

Hugh <original hugh and Hugh C>... since we have worked so closely with members on both sides of the aisle on our issues, we won't skip a beat with our legislative agenda now that Pombo & Burns have been defeated. There are still a couple of weeks left in this session where they will still run the show and I am doing everything we can to get them to get the classification bill & portal to portal bill onto the Senate Interior Appropriations bill. Ironically that committee is chaired by Burns.

Additionally, a press release will be going out to all of the California congressional delegation Monday morning urging them - in honor of E-57 and in fact all of you - to call for the classification bill to get to the floor for an immediate vote.

My one & a half cents worth...

11/11 Mollysboy,

I understand what you are saying, My point is that pombo was the sponsor of the bill and everybody else was a tag along. What happens now? Does it die a slow death because we are not high enough on the other co-sponsors' radar or does somebody else take the lead? Say what you want about pombo but he did step up to the plate for firefighters. That is more than I can say for 400 odd others.

<original> hugh

11/11 SWA there are two types that are listed on 11/7. AVD

Re stickers, decals:

Evidently there are at least two sets of folks who are doing stickers/decals.

One on the San Jac is doing the engine decals.

Another (Station 11) is doing helmet and vehicle decals.

Someone asked about decals. That's all I know. Ab.

Haw haw. Good one. Must have been asleep when I posted SWA's post last night. Thanks for playing Ab. Ab.

11/11 Seems there's another "hugh" out there.

So just to clarify the this Hugh's thoughts on Pombo and his well-deserved
loss to retain his seat, and Mollysboy response to him, this Hugh could not
agree with MollyBoy more, though I do feel regret for Casey and his
organization for all the good work they did on this issue. And I'm
confident that it will continue.

You hit the nail on the head, Mollysboy. My own support for fair pay for
work performed, whether for GS'ers or on behalf of the AD Firefighter
Association when I was chair, was always darkened by the specter (and
ethical dilemma) of getting our support from so-called legislators of
Pombo's ilk.

Pombo was nothing but a rabid radical of the right, and judging by the
election results, it appears that the American public has finally woken up
to the myriad shams being perpetrated on them both here at home and

I for one say good riddance to Mr. Pombo and their ilk. There are indeed
others out there who will champion our cause. Jon Tester looks to be a
good one, and don't forget Nancy Pelosi will be the Speaker of the House and
Harry Reid from Nevada will be the Majority Leader in the Senate. That
there is some major horsepower from a few "big fire" states. All is not
lost, not by any means


Hugh Carson
11/11 As for politicians...

Diane Feinstein, Jerry Lewis, Mary Bono, and Joe Baca all spoke at the E57 memorial. They repeatedly called our fallen "firefighters". I know Feinstein made the fed agency I worked for jump repeatedly, so she knows the wildland agencies.

Yes, Pombo was a support for the classification but as an environmental sciences type, I had a real hard time with some of his policies. Maybe ask him for a buddy to pass the torch to? Pombo could ask a friend/colleague to carry forth this effort of his.

keep plugging on,
11/10 Hugh -

The last time I looked, the reason that we were involved in wildland fire management was to help achieve natural resource management objectives. In my view, the philosophy and legislative intents of Richard Pombo were doing more damage to our natural resources than fire could ever do, no matter what the job series/classification of those working to suppress them.

"Sleeping with the Enemy" just because he does your bidding is dangerous business, and almost always comes back to bite you.

Conrad Burns needed to go down for a number of reasons, and Pombo needed to go down because of his approach towards our Public lands and their management.

Last Tuesday, we won battles, and must continue to fight the other battles for wildland firefighters. There are still 535 members of Congress that must be convinced to pick up our causes - Montana's new Senator Jon Tester is a likely candidate, since Conrad's "Dagger in the Heart" could well have been his comments to the Augusta IHC last summer in Billings, Montana airport.

"You can't pick your relatives, but you can pick your friends".


11/10 Hello, I'm trying to find out how to get some memorial decals to distribute
amongst fellow firefighters to put on our Fire engine and personal vehicles
to support are fallen brothers on E-57 San Bernardino N. F. Any info would
be greatly appreciated Thank you.


11/10 pombo was tossed out just like conrad burns so were does that leave us
as pombo was a sponsor of the wff bill....... won the battle lost the war?


Ab clarification: This is the "original hugh" from the late 1990s theysaid.

11/10 Ab, a fundraiser in Corona

The LaVerne Firefighter Association and Pole Position Raceway invites you to be part of a special benefit to raise money for the families of the five firefighters who lost their lives in the Esperanza Fire.

"This should be an incredible event" said Firefighter Engineer Leonard Kilman of the LaVerne Firefighter Association. We want this to be a huge public event" (and so on, see below...)


We have a color picture (flyer) of the announcement sent by AVD. I typed in a little bit. If you want it, just ask and we'll send it. Ab.

11/10 Abs,

Pole Position Raceway, an indoor Go Kart track in Corona, is hosting a
fundraiser for Engine 57 this coming Wednesday 11/15/06.


Here's what a young lady who hangs out on a desert motorcycle racing
website I'm a member of sent me:

"Firefighter fundraiser at Pole Position Raceway in Corona, CA on November
15th. This is a special benefit to raise money for the families of the
five firefighters who lost their lives fighting the Esperanza fire. For
those who do not wish to race, donations will be accepted. Each standard
(14 lap) race will be $25.00. They will "keep the doors open until there
are no more racers".

This is a great cause ... and Pole Position is a very family oriented
venue! Hope to see ya there!"

11/10 With the tragic events of the last few weeks and the on-going need for support of the WFF, I would like to make a request of all readers of TheySaid.

As we are all aware (if you have been into a "big box" store recently, you know what I mean), a certain holiday involving a jolly, fat guy is coming up. I am planning on asking my family and friends to make a donation to the WFF, either as part of the 52 Club or otherwise. I would ask you all to do the same. I know many of us have donated to the various causes to date, but this magnification of our efforts will, I hope, lead to great things.   By making this request, we are not only adding $$ to the pot, we are educating - a very important part of this process.

A present I hope my family will never need, but I am glad to know is out there. Thank you to all involved in the WFF - true heroes in my eyes.


P.S. - I know it is way too early to be talking of said holiday, my apologies.

Give that fat guy and his dwarves a pulaski. Ab.

11/10 One of the purest thoughts anyone should ever have....

We will never understand fire behavior or human factors on tragedy fires until somehow we all become, and are recognized as wildland firefighting professionals rather than Forestry and Range Technicians in support of Foresters and allied ologists...... Not general biological scientists.

The post-Storm-King-actions were supposed to send us on a trajectory toward greater professionalism and greater safety. The IFPM 0401 Educational Requirement..... aka the 0401 series was supposed to do that, but has taken us still further away.

The intent to professionalize wildland firefighting is a noble intent, the actions in response by the bureaucrats were horrible..... much like what happened with the Hastings/Cantwell Bill...... The intent was noble and good, the outcome... a real mess. People got involved who never should have been invited or somehow they invited themselves into the discussions for future firefighter safety.... the true intent.

Sorry for stepping in on your discussion about what happened.... My comments may not mean much right now, but they may in the bigger picture of the future, when folks re-focus.

Sorry it may be a confusing post.... I apologize.... it will make sense later to some of us. It is late.

I am a Bio grad (ologist) and that doesn't cut it for fire professionalism and safety

Bio grad, thanks for contributing. Ab.

11/10 Thank you United Way.

From: www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_H_money09.3965f48.phpl

"The United Way will distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to the families of five firefighters killed in last month's Esperanza Fire, county officials said Wednesday."

"Supervisor Marion Ashley said the nonprofit organization has agreed to distribute the money without charging any administrative fees. So far, about $700,000 in cash and pledges has been raised."

(Now reported to be over $800,000 from local sources and nearing $900,000)

Thanks to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF) and the United Way for providing needed support in this time of need and waiving administrative costs. While we all understand that administrative costs are the norm in Foundations and Charitable organizations, some have better records than others. Some Foundations and Charitable organizations know when to lead and when to follow. You two organizations have a very good and continued reputation amongst the wildland fire community as accountable and are viewed as true leaders.

I wonder regrettably about the contributions made to the California Fire Foundation. I have heard they have an admin fee in excess of 40% and were one of the most publicized places to contribute to the fallen and their families. Hopefully they will follow the lead of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and United Way in waiving their administrative fees on donated money for the families of the E-57 fallen and make sure every dime goes to the families without political gain.

Someday, I hope the WFF never has to ask for money to support the immediate, and continued needs of the families of our fallen and injured.

Still haven't gotten the final word on what H4H is doing, hopefully they are also donating their administrative fees for the funds they are receiving. They are a well known and well needed charitable organization also.... just not usually in this capacity. H4H folks, speak up and meet the bar. Tell us what you are doing... and planning..... Should we as a wildland firefighting community support your efforts or send the funds elsewhere..... your PR time, not mine. Most of us just want every cent to go to the families....

At some point, all of us need to also meet the bar and make sure that all of our brothers and sisters are protected in the future..... the best way we can do it is by networking and spreading the word..... making sure the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and other worthy groups are there to provide support for the 2007 losses...... and I hate to say it, but it is fact, losses will happen again in 2007...... and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation will be the first and last ones there supporting the families, friends, and co-workers as they have since Storm King.

Raise the bar.... Always Remember.... and as someone said the other night, "Pay it Forward".

Got my Hammer

11/10 Thanks Doug,

Here is the RAWS info and some of my observations from the fire from across the valley.

RAWS Info from Beaumont, CA on October 26, 2006:


of Day Solar
Dew Wet
Ending at Rad.
Ave.V. Dir.Max.
L.S.T. ly.
Deg. F.
Deg. F.
Deg. F.
in. Hg.
1 am 0.0
7.0 70 22.0
-12 37
2 am 0.0
8.0 72 20.0
-7 38
3 am 0.0
9.0 75 22.0
-5 38
4 am 0.0
10.0 73 23.0
-8 37
5 am 0.0
13.0 81 26.0
-4 38
6 am 0.1
13.0 83 31.0
-4 37
7 am 4.6
15.0 82 100.0
3 38
8 am 21.9
16.0 91 33.0
5 40
9 am 41.2
19.0 85 39.0
4 41

Note the wind anomaly found between 6 am and 7 am. Wind gust speeds increased from 31 mph to 100 mph. Wind vector was nearly due east with only a 10 degree or less separation. Column was heading due west towards the ocean. Some terrain channeling was observed changing the wind vector due to topography.

Shortly before 7 am, a large vertical column developed to a height of approx. 12,000 to 15,000 feet. It was higher than Mt. San Jacinto as a gauge.

Shortly after the vertical column development, the column went horizontal again with little further vertical development. No pyrocumulous were observed. Without pyrocumulous development, there is little chance that an adiabatic column collapse occurred. Looks like the column was sheared and all of the lofted embers and superheated gases then headed upslope and downwind towards the accident site.


11/10 AB,

I read your post "when is a good time to start letting people comment on the Esperanza burnover," all I can say is, I think it's to early. I just can't get this feeling out of my gut telling me people will get hurt after reading comments about their coworkers.

With that, the question is when is a good time? I know it's hard to screen posts about the subject and people have questions about what went wrong and how we as community and organization can help prevent another tragic event like this one not to happen again. I have questions too, but right now I can wait for my answers.

Again, when is it a good time to start asking those questions? My vote would be wait until we hear from folks from the San Bernardino letting us know it's time, yes that might be selfish but that's what my gut is telling me.

I think if people want to learn from this incident, the photo you posted will give some of us a little glimpse of the fire, enough to take it to your sand tables and discuss it in your stations with your troops.

What do other's think?


I hear what you're saying R5er. I asked and have heard from some firefighters on the BDF who have said sorting it out might help them if the tone is like an AAR. Ab.

11/10 Re: questions about the incident,

I think it's time, too. Be nice y'all. Part of honoring the crew is in learning what went wrong!

What I was told was that the burnover happened at ~0730. My Mapsource tells me that local sunrise on 10/26 was 07:00; perhaps a few minutes earlier at that elevation (~3500ft). Engine 57 was part of the IA on the fire, with several other USFS engines on the hill and CDF in the valley.

I was able to visit and photograph the site, it's *really* steep. You can see that too on Google Earth.

I'd really like to see the Green Sheet to answer these Q's more definitively... any word on the timing of that, anyone?

11/10 I am amazed at the outpouring of support for the families of E-57. It’s wonderful to see people step up and help. I would like to ask anyone who is approached about donations to now steer them towards the WFF. I don’t think the public, and perhaps many firefighters, realize that most families of fallen firefighters never receive this kind of overwhelming support. Many times the only help they get is from the foundation.

I would like to tell you about a family that I met after their firefighter died. He was on an out of state fire assignment and left behind a wife and son. Not only did the family not receive the Public Safety Officers Benefit, but she was also denied the $10,000 death benefit. Fortunately, there was money available from the foundation to help with immediate expenses. She is now struggling to pay off all the funeral expenses which the death benefit would have covered. Beyond that, the state in which they live did not recognize him as a fallen firefighter at their ceremonies. The only recognition this gentleman received was at Emmitsburg, MD at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial.

Other people who have rarely received help beyond the WFF are the folks who work as contract firefighters and pilots. Vicki and I have talked about how there have been times were there was no money in the general fund to help these families in need. She told me the first people to step up and give money to her in these situations are the contracting companies whether the fallen firefighter be a federal, state or contract employee.

Because of situations like this, I would love to see more money be sent to the foundation so that no family will ever have to be told, “I’m sorry, we don’t have any money to help you out.” Unfortunately, this has happened in the past, so please, let’s not let it happen in the future.

Is any death not as meaningful as another…..

Lori Greeno
11/10 Ab,

I work on the Cleveland and knew Daniel personally and will miss his ever present
smile. As for fundraising, a group of us on my crew were going to do a 24 hr deal
and got shut down at the regional level. I am thrilled to hear that Eldo's gig is
a go, I will be there. Anyway, we decided to go to a local agency and got full
cooperation from them. It always amazes me when our agency says "NO" because of
rules. Good god people are dying out here, this agency has many issues that we
all would like to seee resolved, but this is wrong. As mentioned we went outside
and raised a ton of cash for everybody, Daniel, Frankie, E-57 and the WFF.

It feels good to do good, and I still love my job..............

Captain 3-1

11/9 Readers,

After the Esperanza burnover, some firefighters wrote in almost immediately. They wanted to understand what had happened to Engine 57 and its crew that morning. Others wanted to know what the fire behavior was like that resulted in the great loss of life. Still others were interested in human factors. It's natural to want to understand.

At that time we Abs decided to ask people to hold off on the questions and the discussion. Emotions were raw. People were hurting. Many firefighters and their loved ones were in a fog. We decided it would be soon enough to talk when the crew on E-57 were celebrated, memorialized and laid to rest, and when we as a community had our feet more soundly on the ground again.

Discussion of "what happened and why" to try to prevent it happening again is another way to give meaning to this tragedy and to heal. We have been asked if it's time and think maybe it is. What do you think? Can we do this in a caring and respectful way? We'll be moderating...

Here's part of one email that came in that asked pertinent questions. Remember this is not personal against the crew or against others that the crew might have been working for. To some degree we all have these questions.

Why were they there at that time? Did they know where they were on the topography and what the risk was? What about LCES? Especially where was a proper safety zone given the fire behavior? Was the engine an IA resource or part of a strike team; who were they working for? Who assigned them to the area, and did the division sup scout the area before assigning them or was is the typical chaos of the fist operational period were there was a lack of organization and communication? How long were they at the home before the fire hit them? Did they see the fire behavior prior to protecting the house? How long had they been assigned?

And from another:

From some distance away the column changed just before or around the time the fire blew up. How did the Santa Ana winds change or did they? Was this unusual for Santa Anas at 0700? What, besides winds, could account for fire behavior like that? Was there some kind of simultaneous ignition like seemed to happen on the Sawtooth Fire? Where there any hints it was coming? What was the smoke on the ground like? Visibility? Still dark? What time exactly? How fast was the fire traveling? Are there any records? What about other fatality fires? Do we have any models that can predict that? If no models, how can we better keep safe?

Readers, please remember that people are still hurting. If you choose to enter into this discussion, please keep it about issues and not personalities or agencies or people.

While writing your post, please keep the feeling of community you experienced during the memorial service for Engine 57.


11/9 I'm posting this info in conjunction with my post above. Doug Campbell created this image following a Google Earth image that was shared right after the burnover. There have been a number of people discussing fire behavior behind the scenes. People mourn and sort things out in different ways.


Description that accompanies the jpg.

Wind driven fire blows the flames into the
fuel in front of the advancing line of fire.
Spotfires introduce radiant heat in the fuel
in advance of the line of fire.
Under high fire danger conditions the spot
fires become can so numerous and
Preheating fuel so intense that the area
seems to ignite all at once.
This situation is one of these with the
potential for area ignition.
The burn pattern signature seems to
indicate this is what happened.
The fire and observations of the fire
behavior are the ground truth. The fire
models are ill equipped to account for all
the variations in this scenario.


11/9 Hot off the press.

"Four militant environmentalists pleaded guilty to arson and conspiracy charges Thursday in federal court, part of an investigation into what federal officials say was an ecoterrorism cell that caused $30 million in damage in firebombings over five years......As a result of plea agreements, prosecutors recommended sentences of five years for one of the four, Jonathan Paul, 40, of Ashland, a wildland firefighter (emphasis added) and animal rights activist. Sentences of eight years were recommended for the three other defendants" www.oregonlive.com The guy gets a break on arson charges because he is a wildland firefighter!?!? That just seems wrong to me.

11/9 Ab, Woodman d, Annette, and JT,

Although it appears that the local group working to coordinate the Loutzenhiser Family's home improvement isn't going to pursue the Extreme Home Makeover application process, you can still nominate the family on your own. Here is the link: http://abc.go.com/primetime/xtremehome/casting.phpl

Simply fill out as much information as you can on page 2, complete your contact information on page 4, complete your purpose for nomination on page 5 and mail application to the address listed on page 9.

Thanks again,
Lisa D

11/9 AB~

I am trying to send a donation to each of the families on the CNF and for
the Frank D'Amico memorial fund there is no address...just Fathers' House
Church...is there a mailing address available for me to send a donation?
Thanks for all the great work that you do...theysaid is a great resource
for all of us to provide support to each other, even though we're hundreds
of miles apart!


Ab note:

Here's that clarification, I'm correcting it below as well:

The Daniel Duran Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 2422
Ramona, CA 92065

Make check payable to:
Daniel Duran Memorial Fund
For electronic deposit:
Bank of America
Routing # 540930135
Account # 0907742336

The Frank D’Amico Memorial Fund
c/o Father’s House Church
4481 Estrella Ave.
San Diego, CA 92115

Make check payable to:
Father’s House Church
Memo: Frank D’Amico

Phew, my envelope hadn't been picked up by the mailman yet. Ab.

11/9 To the families on the Cleveland-

I'm in San Diego and while I don't have much $$ right now I'd like to help.
If you need babysitting, someone to do the laundry, clean the house a bit,
mow the lawn and take care of the yard.... whatever- please let me know.
My job is crazy busy but there is always time.

The abs have my contacts-
11/9 Firefighters,

This is a plea from me to please donate some money to the two families who lost firefighters in non-Line-Of-Duty-Deaths last Saturday as they headed back on a curvy road to the Cleveland National Forest.

I just spoke with Vicki for clarification of WFF Mission and Vision.
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation helps financially with LODD and we barely squeek by with that in a season like this one. The Foundation also helps families with filling out forms, insurance issues, getting stuff donated by local businesses, etc, the services where they have expertise. Non-LODD firefighter families are often invited to Wildland Firefighter Family Day and other events that the Foundation hosts when the WFF knows of a need. This is especially valuable for children and spouses of firefighters, to play and talk with others who have experienced loss and to feel first-hand what their dad or mom did as a firefighter. Bottom line is that the Foundation (our 52 Club) does not have the financial means to help everyone. But we can help independently by "passing the virtual boot" for these two families.

So dig a bit deeper and help the Cleveland firefighter families with funeral expenses, etc. The mom with little kids especially tugs at my heart strings.


11/9 Ab,

I found the article below in the Idyllwild Town Crier this morning. As a former resident of Idyllwild, I should have realized the town would take care of the Loutzenhiser Family. Thank you for everyone's support for the EHM idea. Looks like Larry's Team has it covered. We'll support them directly at the PO Box listed.

Thank you Larry for keeping us informed and taking the lead.
Bless you!

Lisa D


Efforts to Remodel Mark’s House

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2006, 12:02 p.m.

To clarify the question in regards to "Extreme Makeover," we are NOT
pursuing that route. As many of you found out when accessing the website,
there is an 18 pg. application.... who knew!!! We also came up with an
alternative contact, but as of now no one has contacted us. Someone told us
the show was no longer 'in business.'

AND, more importantly.... the firefighters in particular and the community
in general want to complete the project for Maria and the kids in Mark's
memory. With the plans by Rbt. Priefer already filed with the county, and
lots of willing know-how the job will be lovingly completed by Idyllwild and
her extended community. The project is in the 'preparation' stage. Larry
Donahoo of Village Hardware is ONE of the project coordinators. PLEASE DO
NOT CALL HIM AT THE STORE; he has been inundated with calls, which
obviously interferes with his business. Think "Parts and Labor"; Labor or
materials.. or both! PLEASE SEND H IM A NOTE telling him how you
would like to help:

Larry Donahoo
Village Hardware
PO Box 1155
Idyllwild, CA 92549-1155

11/9 Been thinking, stunned, and almost speechless since the Esperanza Fire….. but today I am finally starting to feel like I can begin to re-engage and look ahead. This has been an experience none of us will forget.

This last few days it didn't matter what uniform you wore, or what color truck you came on, everybody’s heart was Forest Service green.

Like most of you, being a part of this community of exceptional people is one of the most important aspects of my life. How we collectively came together has made me, and likely most of you, proud all over again to be a wildland firefighter. I feel extremely blessed to be in such good company.

Contract County Guy
11/9 Craig Wilson, a political science Professor at Montana State University - Billings, was quoted in today's Montana newspapers:

Wilson speculated that the "dagger in the heart" of Burns' re-election efforts may have been when he cursed out some members of an elite Virginia firefighting team at the Billings airport in July. Burns told one firefighter the crew had done "a piss-poor job" of battling a fire near Billings and told a state official the firefighters "didn't do a God-damned thing."
Senator Burns was defeated in his re-election bid.


11/9 Thanks to everyone working for municipal fire departments, CDF, state and county agencies.... who still bleed green. Over the last two weeks, I have met many of you who were former Forest Service firefighters who were grief stricken as I am.... Anaheim Engine 6 really kicked in and was very personal to meet... both of the "boot" firefighters were former U.S. Forest Service firefighters.. still rookies trying to fit in....

Anaheim FD Firefighters Association bought 100 of the T-Shirts made on a short notice to meet the needs of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in support of the families... Anaheim Firefighter Association bought 50 Larges and 50 X-L's... then a former FS firefighter, now a "boot" rookie stepped up... he wanted a medium. Anaheim Firefighters Association bought 101 shirts... how cool... they still gave him grief... rightly so, he is a rookie. Something he must have learned was..... speaking up and doing what he was trained to do. He got a shirt.

Don't know his name but would like to keep in touch, but you Anaheim Firefighters can give him a well deserved pat on the back for his and ours personal experience and contribution to firefighter safety. Continue to treat him like the rookie he is... Take care of him and make sure he is safe.... look out after his family if things ever go bad....... sorry, preaching to the choir here....

Anaheim E-6..... you guys rock!!!!

Wish I could come back and hug you all and shake your hands again.

Take care and keep safe,

11/9 Sedgehead.

Thanks for the info.

Awesome work that the H4H is doing.

The Habitat for Humanity seems to be a worthy and well known charity. I wonder if their customary 21% admin fee has been waived for Lotzi's family?....... If not, I think we need to look at others areas to get the job done.

Like I said, "Extreme Makeover" and "Flip this House" seem to be the best options........ It would be so cool if this could be done for all of the families that want it..... If not, maybe they could just do it for the Loutzenhiser and McKay families that have the greatest needs right now for home "modification".

Got My Hammer
11/9 LisaD

I think that you had a great idea!.. If I could afford the trip right now,
I'd put my nail bags on and travel.

great idea!


11/9 TKR71

RE: Paid days off after assignments.

This will vary by incident and also who you work for. The basic rule is that after 14 days on assignment at a type 1 or 2 incident the IC may authorize two days off with pay (it is rare to get time off from a type 3, 4 or 5 incident). If you return to your home unit on your normal days off, you do not get the pay. If you work for a State or local agency, they are not obligated to give you the time off and there may actually be a policy that precludes this, you will have to check. If you bounce between several incidents for your 14 days, you should not expect to get the time off, it will be up to the last incident that you are on. If you are an AD you do not get the time also, contractors may or may not be eligible.

If you are going to extend past 14 days the incident is required to give you two days off before day 22. Once again, if these days off happen to fall on your normal days off they are not obligated to pay you, although I have yet to have an incident be that tight, if they are extending you they usually want to keep you happy.

This can all be found in the "Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook", PMS 902, Chapter 10 section 12

Hope this helps

11/8 Just want to check on something,

If you're on assignment for 7- 13 days, you get 1 paid day off --R&R, right?
Or is it 2 days after a 14 day assignment, and no days if you dont make it to 14?
And does it matter if it is an actual fire assignment or just a station coverage assignment?

11/8 SNF-FF,

I remember the fire you are describing. It used to be one of the modules in the "Firefighter Safety and Survival" class the the National Fire Academy (NFA) taught back in the mid 1980's. I think it was also a part of another CDF training package I saw.

The NFA version had another module showing a Phoenix Fire Department person cutting into a toluene storage tank to do a body recovery.... most of us know what the outcome of that was.

It also had a module showing a rookie firefighter operating a ladder platform right into power lines.... we also know what that outcome was.

None of these fires have a link to the Esperanza Fire except for Human Factors....

As we all will undoubtedly do, we will begin discussing what happened on the Esperanza Fire. I hope we all can remain civil and respectful of each other, not blaming, just trying to understand what happened. I hope we can begin to focus on Human Factors and other factors that may have contributed to this horrific accident.

Fire behavior on this incident was not the norm.... some described it as "successive" area ignitions...... others described it as "non-typical column collapse".... others have documented the signs of tell tale "horizontal vortices". I don't know what happened.... I haven't even visited the site yet..... but I will with some good friends in the near future...... it will be part of my understanding of what happened and part of my closure and hopefully, healing.

I hope this community that has shown so much respect in the last two weeks will continue to do so. I personally knew some of the firefighters involved on the Esperanza Fire. I hope that in their memory, we can make leaps and strides in future firefighter safety.

Remember..... families, friends, and co-workers will be also viewing this site for some understanding about what happened. Please be respectful. In their honor, we should never assign blame, only future understanding. It raises the bar.

11/8 Cleveland National Forest,

You all stood behind us on Sunday, whether in presence or spirit. We all felt the special bond that the wildland firefighting community has, especially the Forest Service family. We will do everything we can.....

I am sending off my checks today. Please let us know if there any other ways we can offer assistance to the families.

11/8 Two more USFS Firefighters Lost

If losing the Engine 57 crew wasn't enough to suffer through this month, on the evening of November 4th, 2006, Cleveland N.F. firefighters Daniel Duran and Francesco “Frankie” D’Amico died in a traffic accident in the Pine Hills area near Julian. This tragedy has left the families with significant financial needs that we can help with. In the case of Daniel Duran, a wife and and two daughters are left behind with no source of income. In the case of Frank D’Amico, the family is struggling to cover the funeral expenses. The following is information regarding the memorial funds for both firefighters.

The Daniel Duran Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 2422
Ramona, CA 92065

Make check payable to:
Daniel Duran Memorial Fund
For electronic deposit:
Bank of America
Routing # 540930135
Account # 0907742336

The Frank D’Amico Memorial Fund
c/o Father’s House Church
4481 Estrella Ave.
San Diego, CA 92115

Make check payable to:
Father’s House Church
Memo: Frank D’Amico

The Cleveland N.F. would appreciate any assistance other firefighters could help provide to these two families.

Thanks for writing in, Cleveland N.F. Someone needs to call the Foundation to see what help might be available. I'm putting two checks in the mail. These young men did not die in the line of duty but their families have funeral and other expenses nonetheless. In addition, Dan was the breadwinner; he left a wife and two small children. Firefighters, can we do more? Ab.

11/8 Ab,

The Towncrier (www.towncrier.com) is the local newspaper in Idyllwild and I just read that they as well as the Idyllwild FD are planning on re-building Mark's house with the cooperation of the local hardware store. I have also read that Pat Boss is gathering info on re-build as well as Habitat For Humanity. Is there anyone out there that can get the actual facts on who is responsible for re-build? Regardless of who it is it would be nice to make sure that the monies are going to the right place at the right time to avoid confusion later on.


Skip down to Larry's post yesterday. I think folks on the ground there are all on the same page. Ab.

11/8 LA County FD Dispatch is going to be on the History Channel as part of the history of the telephone. Should be interesting to see where communication on fires began and get a feel for where it might go in the future. Staying safe on fire is largely about intel and knowledge of what the fire will do.


LACO firegirl

11/8 AB,

Some folks asked about H4H's plans for contributions. I don't know the
local details. Hopefully someone local can check on that.

You can find details of Habitat for Humanity's international financial
management in their annual report (URL below).

www.habitat.org/giving/report/2005/annual_report_2005.pdf (1,300 K pdf file)

According to Habitat for Humanity's annual report, their expenditures fall
out as follows:

79% program expense
17% fund raising expense
4% management and general expense

I'd say that's about average for such groups, based on what little I know
about such organizations and expenses. Having run a business, I know it
takes a significant percentage to advertise (in this case, fundraise) and
to manage (the 4%). I think they're doing well (my opinion).


Sounds like a fine project to do for Lotzi's family. Ab.

11/8 Ab,

Let me be among the first to applaud the end of Conrad Burns career in the Senate. Attached is a link to a hot-off-the-press article declaring Jon Tester Montana's newest senator: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15620405/

The article notes that Conrad's abuse of firefighters last summer contributed to his fall. It was a pleasure casting my vote for Tester. I think I'll leave my "Fire Burns!" bumper sticker on for a while longer just for grins.

Misery Whip

Our thanks to the hotshots who behaved professionally to Burns in the Boise airport when he first jumped on them. Seemingly small behaviors can make a huge difference in revealing character and professionalism. Ab.

11/8 Had a thought if Lisa D. or whoever is pursuing the nomination to Extreme Home Makeover if everyone who wanted to list their names to be attached to the form maybe it would really grab their attention as I'm sure it would be a substantial list. I would be happy to release my name address phone whatever if it would help. Just imagine what we can do by working together to help the families of the fallen be it building an addition for Mark's family, collecting funds, asking for donations of building supplies or supporting fundraisers & the WFF by giving whatever we can (coins, dollars all add up). I am thrilled to learn the reward money is going to the families of the fallen as well it should.

On Sunday evening (the day of the Memorial service) there was a spectacular sunset of pinks, reds and brilliant oranges here in Orange County and I thought what a beautiful tribute Mother Nature is paying to the lost heroes who worked valiantly to protect her forests.

And a big hug (wish I could give her one in person) to Kim McKay for writing to They Said to thank everyone in the midst of her grief. From all I have read here the McKay family is a truly remarkable family-- the kind of people anyone would be proud to call friends.

To the entire fire community: God bless you all-- you are all heroes. And you do what you have always done, answer the call to duty and do your job even in the midst of unbearable grief.

11/8 Thanks, everyone, problem with the coins is solved.

A coin counting machine has been donated.

2 cents

11/8 2 Centsworth

look at www.pacifictrustbank.com for free coin exchange, no
charge open an account or get a cashiers check. Closest to San
Bernardino is Riverside.

11/8 Thanks Everyone,

We have been trying to get banks and credit unions to take the change and exchange it for cash. They seem to have some bureaucratic process in place that says, "Our machine and our folks don't count it until you do." Maybe the local Casinos might help out.

Went through that process most of the day today while trying to deposit lots of cash from the firefighting community..... the coins stopped us cold in our tracks. Spent hours sorting, counting, flipping, and tallying bills... so much a new process to all of us.

CoinStar wants a 7.5 percent admin fee to process the coins. We simply can't do it..... these funds were instructed to go directly to the families and we will honor the wishes of the folks who were contributing it. If we have to sit around and sort, count, and tally these coins, we WILL before we dishonor the people donating them.

If any of ya'all have CoinStar, local bank, credit union, or casino contacts in the area that can cut through the process, please give Ab a jingle or e-mail. The goal is to have ALL of the funds distributed to the families tomorrow to help them with their short-term needs.

Best we can do right now.

2 cents
11/8 I am looking for any examples of a Wilderness Fire Plan. I work on a forest in R-9 and have been given the task of doing a Wilderness Fire Plan. I also have a few questions regarding them. We have 4 wildernesses on my Zone. Do I write one for each or one covering all 4?

Any and all info will help.

avanderheuel @ hotmail.com



Please remove spaces from email addy. Ab.

11/7 MSNBC commentators on Burns' potential loss in Montana and
what it means and how it came about
  • "The internet"... and
  • "How Conrad Burns characterized visiting firefighters..."


Thanks, everyone, for this community



11/7 I want to thank the following departments and communities they protect, that have done an outstanding job in raising funds for the families of our fallen. These funds have been going to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in direct support of the E-57 families nearly non-stop since early morning, October 26, 2006. This is only a local list that I personally know of (and can remember), and hopefully someone will be able to track down all of the departments and communities that are contributing nationwide. I also want to thank the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, their fund is said to be nearly $800,000 now.

I know I am going to miss a few of these because it has been a little confusing over the last few weeks. If I missed your department, please chime in. It is not meant in disrespect. Your support needs to be recognized. The departments below, and the communities they represent, did some amazing work in bringing some comfort to the families of the fallen, and in raising the spirits of those left behind to carry on in this, the most noble profession.

Redlands Fire Department
San Bernardino County Fire Department
CDF - San Bernardino Unit
CDF - Riverside Unit
Chino Valley FPD
Ontario Fire Department
Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department
Montclair Fire Department
Running Springs Fire Department
San Bernardino City Fire Department
Anaheim Fire Department
Apple Valley Fire Department
Victorville Fire Department

On another note: To the firefighters and local communities nationwide who are "passing the boot", doing car washes, joining the 52 Club, or various other events to support the families of our fallen and injured firefighters, thank you. I hope you know, we would do it for you if the tables were turned. Your support is so greatly appreciated.

Take care and keep safe,


Please, let's have all recognized. Good work. Ab.

11/7 Lisa D,

I had a similar thought, it took awhile for me to come up with a similar loss among an engine crew, I came up with the 1962 Timberlodge fire on the Sierra NF, near Mariposa, CA. 4 fatalities and 2 serious injuries, the engine involved was from the Jerseydale USFS station located about 5 miles from the incident site.

The only other one I can think of is the 1977 Bass River fire in New Jersey, 4 firefighters were killed when their engine was trapped and burned over.

A Federal Firefighter with a dream and a cause,

I think that is a great idea, I'd love to see a project like that although I have no idea where one would start it.

If you are serious you might try contacting Steve Dunsky, he was one of the USFS employees involved in The Greatest Good, I talked with him during one of the screenings of that film, he was very approachable and he mentioned that they had alot of fire footage and information that couldn't be fit into the film, that might be a good start.

Abs, this info is on the Greatest Good website, if you prefer to link to that site



I'll pass the other contact info along. Ab.

11/7 Abs,

Is there anyone out there who has an idea if everything is being taken care of as far as finances go for Marks family? What I am getting at is, are the bills being taken care of or do we need to step up and handle this for a while. Like Ab said "the more they can be set up to stay afloat now, the more can be saved for college." Personally I can think of no better Christmas gift for myself than to have my wife use my gift money to pay a bill or two. So anyone on the support staff or in the know would you please let us know.

I also contacted the Home Depot in Beaumont on Monday and informed them of what was going on with Marks house. Don't know if they will come through but they do good things. Maybe some more phone calls from the readers would help.

I think we all need to in some way, get our hands on something personal, If the site becomes a memorial maybe all of us can help build it.


The families are being taken care of. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation cut each of the families a large check a number of days ago to cover their current expenses. Prior to that the Foundation stepped in and paid for many initial expenses. Vicki is good at getting the handle on any kind of need and filling it quickly. This is what other organizations and agencies can't do and why families really feel supported by our 52 Club donations and other contributions. Ab.

11/7 Ab,

Just a quick question. I hate to be a but* head and ask this question but it has been in my mind for awhile.

How much of the funds being contributed to the Habitat for Humanity, Loutzenhiser Building Fund are going directly to Lotzi's family and the house they are re-building?

I know the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, when asked (ie - towards a specific family, families, and/or projects) donates the money directly (without admin costs) to the intended purpose of the donating individuals. The WFF is doing that with funds being received right now earmarked in support of Lotzi, Jess, Jason, Pablo, and Daniel. They are also receiving non-earmarked funds to support the families and friends of future fallen firefighters and other support.

Habitat for Humanity is an awesome charity with great support.... I just have some questions that would make me feel better to know the answers to.

I like the idea of the "Extreme Makeover" or "Flip this House"........

Got My Hammer

I think it's a reasonable question. Accountability, pure and simple... Any legit organization collecting money for victims doesn't mind answering that question. 9/11 educated lots of us about where our donations did or didn't go and how quickly those in need of support got what they needed. Ab

11/7 2 cents worth,

try the local casinos, they have been very helpful with our loss.
I am sure a few coins won’t be a problem when you tell them
what they're for.

Still Learning
11/7 Two cents worth;

Just a thought; try one of the casinos in the area. They certainly
have coin counting machines and might be willing to donate use
of one of them.

11/7 Ab

Please pass to 2 Cents Worth that, any bank, if you can explain
what the money is for, should be willing to turn the coin into
cash or a bank draft.

Banks have much heavier duty machines than the ones in stores.

11/7 I heard the local Raley's Food Stores have those change
machines, and do not charge the 10% fee for the transaction,
but take that 10% fee and give you a coupon for that amount
to spend in the store.

11/7 Here is CoinStar's website:
You might also try a local bank or credit union. Some
of them have self-service coin counting machines and
might refund their fees.

11/7 Ab,

Do you or any of the readers have any contacts for CoinStar? They
operate the machines found in many supermarkets that exchange
coins into cash.

The reason I am asking is that we have about 150 lbs. of coins that
need to be turned into cash and we do not want to pay the service fee.

Does anyone have any contacts near the San Bernardino area for
other options if CoinStar cannot be contacted?

Thanks in advance.

2 cents worth (times several thousand)

11/7 Re stickers, decals:

Evidently there are at least two sets of folks who are doing stickers/decals.

One on the San Jac is doing the engine decals.

Another (Station 11) is doing helmet and vehicle decals.

Someone asked about decals. That's all I know. Ab.

11/7 SoCal Capt,

I saw that also. Initially the Riverside County Board of Supervisors representative said that the Reward Fund would go to the families to rebuild. Someone must have contacted them, communicated, and educated them more on the issue. Thanks to whomever that was or whichever group it was.

They (Riverside Supervisors and others) were pretty cool in setting up a reward fund and a firefighter assistance fund in the first few hours after the tragedy.

They were doing things from the heart and while grieving, but sometimes we all make mistakes under pressure.... they were doing the best they could under the circumstances and helping out the only way they knew.

The Reward Fund was awesome.

All of the "Firefighter Assistance" funds following the horrific accident were troubling to both the firefighters and the public wanting to contribute. It caused lots of confusion to the wildland fire community and the firefighting community as a whole. It even got one group called the "T-Shirt Vendors Today"..... how sad.

We are wildland firefighters, we have a support mechanism known as the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Wildland Firefighters have known for years, whenever we lose a brother or sister, or one is injured, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is some of the FIRST and LAST supporters on scene for the families, friends, and co-workers of the injured and fallen.

Hopefully this lesson will be learned. The other funds, while reputable and sincere, give me and other some grief on how they are managed, or how they could be managed better. We just don't know.

We know, respect, and trust the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to do what is right.

Norm, I heard your heartfelt speech and it brought tears to my eyes.... we do need to raise the bar. All of us will..... it is the least we all can do. I for one am going to follow your direction and do what I can to raise the bar in anyway I can.

11/7 LisaD

Donation of the site or part of it to a suitable organization or agency capable of maintaining it would be tax deductible. In addition, conveyance of a conservation easement for what has become a historic site may also qualify. I will do some deeper research on the tax issues. Maybe the WFF would be interested in holding an easement and maintaining the site. The Abs can keep in touch with me on the issue.

Old Sawyer.

11/7 I just read the letter from Lisa D. about the idea of rebuilding the Loutzenhiser house. Let me give everyone some up to date info. My name is Larry Donahoo. I am a PC Captain with Idyllwild Fire. My friend Mark was lost in the Esperanza fire, as you know. There has been a committee formed here in Idyllwild to finish Mark's dream of adding on and remodeling the family home.

Habitat for Humanity was contacted, and has graciously agreed to help us get the job done. The offers for help have truly been astonishing.

We are in the organizing steps now, with a meeting tomorrow to set the timeline. Maria and the kids will be moved into another home while we open up the existing structure and evaluate the condition. Once done, we will be able to figure out what materials are needed to do the project.

We still need funds to get the project off the ground, as well as to buy materials we are not able to get donated. If anyone wishes to send anything to help, here is the info:

make checks to:
Habitat for Humanity
Loutzenhiser Building Fund
PO Box 1743
Idyllwild, CA 92549

I will try to send periodic updates so all of you will know how it is going. Starting next week, our local newspaper will post updates on their site, towncrier.com as well.

Please keep all 5 of these brave men and their families and friends in your prayers. And I do agree we now have 5 new Angels looking after us.


Thanks Larry. Please do keep us updated. Ab.

11/7 LisaD-

I was lying in bed last night thinking of the fallen and the same thought
occurred to me regarding Mark's family. I was going to look up the
info this evening. Let me know if you need any help. The abs have my


The more they can be set up to stay afloat now, the more can be saved for college. Please ask if Extreme Home Makeover can kick in for that too. Ab.

11/7 Very cool idea Lisa D.....here is the application to nominate a family
to the show.



Ab forwarded it.

11/7 My grief over the loss of Engine 57, and my dear friend Lotzi, has brought on an overwhelming need to do "something" to help, beyond monetary donations... something I can get my hands into, so to speak.

I have had two ideas that inspire me to ask the following questions.

I don't recall another Fatality Fire that involved an entire engine crew, on a home district, on private property. This accident site has already become a place of memoriam for many, as I imagine it always will be.

That said, my question is this: Is there a way to approach the owner of the property to create a permanent memorial site? Or are memorial sites usually done in some other general area to the actual accident site??

Secondly, as some may know, Lotzi was in the process of putting an addition onto the families' 2 bedroom, 1 bath home. Yes. 5 kids in a 2 bedroom home. It's tight and homey to say the least. Donations are on their way to help finish this work. However, there is so much more this family needs, and I want to nominate them for Extreme Home Makeover. Okay, I know, that sounds corny. It sounds crazy. It's a long shot. I just need to do it now while this is still current on peoples' minds. Maybe someone else has already done this? If they have, I'm going to do everything I can to support them.
I am still in shock and awe of the memorials I attended this weekend for Lotzi and the entire crew of Engine 57. I thought I was done with "fire", but this has made me realize that the bond never leaves you.

I am a former VGHS, and so very grateful to, Art, Rocky, Pete, Jess, Tony, Garrett and VG, WFF the district and the BDF for taking such good care of the surviving families and friends. So very proud of you, one and all.

God bless you all. Always.

You can sign me,
Lisa D

11/7 Speaking of wildland firefighter documentaries, does
anyone out there happen to know of a source where one
could obtain a copy of the "Into the Firestorm" series
that ran on Discovery Channel a while back?

I have searched all over the internet (Amazon,
Discovery Channel Store, etc.) but no luck.


11/7 Ab,

I guess it is time that I quit lurking and finally write something. I have been reading theysaid for over a year now and haven't really felt compelled to write anything until now. I would just like to remind people that as we grieve and mourn for the 5 firefighters and their families to remember to pray for all of those who are in Southern California assisting in their time of need. I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who is running around with the "strike team" of information officers assigned down there. It is really beginning to take a toll on those who have been involved.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all...God has 5 new angels in heaven and we have 5 more angels watching over us.

11/7 Ab and all,

For the last few years I have been turning over and over the idea as follows farther down. The idea has slowly slipped in and out of my brain as fire seasons have come and gone. I have been recently taking strength and determination from the events of the season. From Ken's run, Eldorado IHC's strength and compassion, the whole San Berdu, and many other events of the year. I need help and input to get it off the ground! So here is my idea.

I want to make a full length video documentary of Federal firefighters. I know it has been done by the Discovery channel and National Geographic, but they can't tell our history, our lives, our hardships, our bonds like we can. I want to show not just our lives during the fire season, but also away from fire. When I get this documentary done I will make sure that it is seen at every film festival I can possibly get it into. I will in Ken's spirit and inspiration turn all money acquired from the sale and showing of the video directly into the WFF. Money matters, but helping a family get back on their feet and living again after the loss of a loved one matters even more to me. It is way more gratifying than any hundred dollar bill ever could be!

I value everyone's feedback and Ab please pass along my email to anyone that would like to talk to me directly!

Thank you,
A Federal Firefighter with a dream and a cause
11/7 Getting some emails asking that people remember to exercise their responsibility as citizens in a constitutional republic and VOTE.

Especially you firefighters in Montana, VOTE, but everywhere, really, VOTE. If you have ever visited other countries, you'd know how lucky we are here in the USA with the constitutional opportunity to set our own course. VOTE.

(L<snip>, no backtalk! haw, haw)


I wrote this in 1994 after South Canyon. DF




















11/7 To all of you out there who are mourning with us I want to say thank you.

However I also want to say this to every emergency worker out there: Remember why you chose to do the job you do; it isn't for the recognition or the great paycheck LOL but whether it was because of compassion for others, the thrill of the job, or the adrenaline high you get from the job you do. This has taken a toll on you as well as on us and we know that. I believe Jason would want all of you to remember the good times and not just the bad. To remember what it feels like when the sound of the tones calls you to duty, remember the feeling of a well fought fight, remember the feeling you have when you get back to the station, when you're so tired you can barely put one foot in front of the other and yet you still have a smile on your face because you won another one.

I know the anger and the frustration you are feeling but what I don't want is for you to forget the other things that mean so much to all of us.

Also remember the next time you go out on the line you will have a little extra help from 5 firefighters with brand new wings looking out for each and every one of you.

I also want to say thank you to everyone who has laughed with us, cried with us, and remembered with us. You made a very tragic time much more bearable than you will ever know. I wouldn't know where to start on making a list of all those people who have helped us since this happened so thank you all.

God bless, God speed
Kim McKay
Jason McKay's sister
You can sign it as I have it written

11/7 As a Friend and Previous Co-worker

I am not much of a writer, speller or grammatical genius, but here are some of my fragmented thoughts and feelings.

I knew three of the fallen, Lotzi, Gus, and McKay. I knew Gus the best, for the time that I worked with him, he was a life saver. There were one or two times during the season that if it had not been for him, I may not have been able to finish out the season. He was awesome at basketball, soccer, and just about everything else he put his hands to. He always had the ability to make us laugh and see the best of almost every situation. I had an absolute blast going and doing the live fire training with him at Camp Pendleton, as he was acting as Engineer/Capt/IC.

I was watching CNN as the Esperanza fire progressed and grew that fateful morning. As I was watching it they broke in with "Breaking News." As I sat there and let it sink in, all I could do was hope it was no one I knew, and begin praying for the families of the deceased. When I finally leaned the names, I was in utter shock. Not only did I know one, I knew three of them. I could only imagine how the San Berdu was reeling with the shear impact of the loss, especially since it was on home turf.

When I arrived in San Bernardino for the weekend leading up to the memorial, I was totally amazed at the show of support, by the local agencies, as well as ones in towns and cities all over the state. It was made even more evident by the show of support by all the agencies, counties, cities, and districts of firefighters that were able to make it to the memorial. As the memorial service filled my heart swelled and I was truly amazed. I was once again proud to be part of the Green Machine, and the wild land firefighting organization. It felt good to see Forest Service employees being honored by firefighters of every agency, without regard to the color of truck driven.

Thank you all who could make it, and for the thoughts and prayers of those who could not.

11/7 Support Group

What a wonderful ceremony on Sunday, the San Bernardino N.F. and support staff did a great job putting together such a memorable service. To all the folks that are assigned to the families of our or fallen brothers, my heart goes out to you all for the amazing job you are doing. It hit me really hard yesterday after seeing my friend and mentor, I could see and feel the pain he is going through after I hugged him, he look drained. BC-41 you are and always will be an inspiration to me, stay strong my friend because your real family and the family you work with are so proud of the work you are doing.

I hope and pray that all of the statements that the top brass of the Forest Service said comes true and they are not just blowing smoke. It is time for change for the agency, it is time to give us the credit of being Firefighters and start getting Firefighter wages. If they don't help us out then it's time to turn the heat way up. I call on the Region 5 Captains group to keep an eye on the top brass to see if they change there tune and start supporting all of the hard working men and women of this great agency. The Captains group has a strong voice and with the help of the FWFSA I know we can make a change for the good and the memory of our fallen brothers.

Vicki and Casey, you are amazing individuals. I can not put into words what I am feeling, all I can say is thank you for EVERYTHING you have done for all of the firefighters. Thank you for being there for the families of the fallen and all of the employee's on the San Bernardino N.F.

To the San Bernardino, I have been praying for you all and it made me feel good to see all you so united. Take care of the two remaining Firefighters from E-57 and godspeed to you all. Long live the memory of Engine 57 and all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice this fire season.


11/7 Re: Reward money for turning in the arsonist was unclaimed:


On 11/3, someone said, "The reward money is going to help the people who lost their homes in the fire. This was stated during the press conference today in Riverside."

That post was in response to my thoughts that the reward money should be re-directed to the families of the fallen.

That greatly concerned me and so many others as I also saw it also described the same way by the press. Why give money to families to rebuild in the same areas again? The families that had their homes burned down will get FEMA support and insurance money to cover their losses.

Build in those areas again, and someday, firefighters are put at risk and extreme peril. The views are great, the scenery beautiful, the risks to firefighters to provide the serenity.... well known now.

Today, I saw a news release confirming that the reward money will not be given out, and was actually talking about some of the funds going to the families of the fallen firefighters..... that is where it needs to go.

Fallen Firefighters cannot be replaced as structures are. Morongo Reservation is to be thanked for directing their $100,000 portion of the reward money towards the families of the fallen and not replacing these structures.

I somehow think there is an awesome network that has formed and is working behind the scenes to "Always Remember" and "Never Forget" the losses of San Bernardino National Forest, San Jacinto Ranger District, Engine 57 and all of our losses over the many years.


11/6 Off to Las Vegas tomorrow for 5 days of Fire/Rescue conference and exhibits, hope to see and meet some of you there. Fri 10 Nov is the United States Marine Corps Birthday, so happy birthday to all Marines who are on this site. Sat 11 Nov is Veterans day and a very big thank you to any of you that have served, or are still serving.

Old Man of the Dept, also USMC Ret.
11/6 Everyone,

Please keep in mind and heart that the funeral service for Daniel Hoover-Najera
is being held today and the one for Pablo Cerda is tomorrow.

Thanks for yesterday's great success. It's been mighty fine to have everyone
working through different ideas but basically pulling together.

Tahoe Terrie

11/6 From Firescribe:

Second dead firefighter's name released in Julian crash

JULIAN ---- The name of a second U.S. Forestry firefighter killed Saturday night in a car crash outside Julian has been released by the San Diego County medical examiner's office.

Daniel Duran, 29, of Calexico was a front-seat passenger in a 1990 BMW driven by Francesco D'Amico, 20, of Chula Vista, a medical examiner's investigator said today.

Authorities said both men died when the southbound car veered down an embankment on Boulder Creek Road and slammed into an oak tree.

Another passenger, Adrian Rios, 20, of Chula Vista suffered severe injuries, officials said.

11/6 JT,
CBS 2 has a video of the memorial service posted at

If you would like to purchase a copy of the video the form and 800 number are at


11/6 I missed the Live Feed of the Memorial Service yesterday. I really
wanted to be part of it. I am a retired USFS employee with 36 1/2
years of service in F&AM.

My question is there video available of the service anywhere?



11/6 Poem By Robert Service

"So here's a song to dirt and sweat,
A grace to grit and grime;
A hail to workers who beget
The wonders of our time.
And as they gaze through gutter grit,
To palaces enskied,
Let them believe, by sweat and dirt,
They, too, are glorified.

-- Robert Service


11/6 Family,

I just wanted to say thanks to Chief Bosworth, Bernie Weingardt, Tom Harbour, and especially Mike Dietrich and Norm Walker for defining so well why we were all there yesterday, either in body or spirit. It was an honor to be among all of you. It was a humbling experience to be surrounded by so many dedicated, selfless individuals. Thanks for letting me in. You can be sure I will do whatever I can, whenever I can, to remind those who may not understand what firefighting and the fire community is all about.

11/6 As part of the team (Feser's CIIMT #1) that was assigned to support the
families of the fallen firefighters, Mark "Lotzi" Loutzenhiser, Jess "Gus" McLean,
Jason McKay, Pablo Cerda and Daniel Hoover Najera, I must say that
this has been the most difficult assignment to have been part of. I must
also say that I am honored to have been able to be part of the families
support group. I am also proud that the Forest Service stepped up to the
plate to honor with dignity and respect. To all that could not be there in
person, your thoughts and prayers are there, and always will be.

you may sign my name as is below.......

Michele Tanzi
11/6 how much more sadness can we bear . . . grl4ster

Two firefighters killed in auto accident
The Associated Press

Two firefighters were killed and another seriously injured in the Cleveland National Forest when their vehicle ran off the road, flipped over and hit an oak tree, authorities said Sunday.

Francesco Damico, 20, of Chula Vista and a 29-year-old man from Imperial County whose name was not released died at about 9:30 Saturday night as they tried to make a tight turn heading home from the U.S. Forest Service Pine Hills Station where they worked, authorities said.

Both men were dead when rescue workers arrived at the scene, said Investigator Paul Parker, a medical examiner for San Diego County.

Authorities were still trying to contact relatives of the unidentified man, Parker said.

Adrian Rios, 20, of Chula Vista survived the crash but was stuck in the vehicle for two hours before someone drove by and spotted him, authorities said. <snip>
11/6 E-57

"FOREVER YOUNG" Godspeed..........

11/6 The live link to the memorial service was beyond compare. Thanks.
Some thoughts and poems, for E 57 and all who fell this season,
for all in this incredible community:

Silent now the engine
(for all who fell this season)

now the engine
the beast
the flames
too the heat
still i see
tired and smiling
another roll
boots tread now
may their saws
forever                                   r alan kuehn      11/05/06     0711

Old Friends

old friends now
boots that at
blistered my hot
dry feet ..
they now are
much a part
this past season
much a part
who I seem
that placing them
for the winter
forever is intolerable
molded to me
are as one
  the forest
leaving soft prints
    black                                   r alan kuehn      11/04/06     2051


11/6 The Redding Firefighter Association held pass the boot . The link to their final tally
is enclosed. The community support here in Northern California is amazing.

Godspeed to Engine 57 crew.



11/6 To the Memorial Coordinators:

Well done, the Memorial was a deeply moving event. I witnessed my Forest Service family, and the rest of the Fire Service attendees, standing solemnly and reverently in honor of the Alandale crew, their friends and families. I got lump in my throat watching the Honor Guard and hearing the Pipes and Drums play "The Minstrel Boy" as they marched in.

Something struck me, something refreshing, a memento. I was taken back to a time in history when we openly and publicly looked to God for supplication. No political correctness, no beating around the bush. Thank you Chaplain Seltzner for your personal, heartfelt and humble prayer.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like I have my American identity back. Thank you so very much for asking God to be there, I am sure a lot of people were as deeply moved as I was. My pride in America and as a United States Forest Service Firefighter has once again been restored.
.....One nation, under.....you know the rest.


11/5 Dozer 3,

I am so glad your son got to be a part of the family today and provided support to all of us. I have known YOU for over twenty years,,,,, It was such an honor to meet your son today.... how awesome.... Compassion does spread like wildfire....

Thank you....

Tough kid.... very tough dad.... you guys (son and dad) rock in ways we do not know..... When you said, "I'll salute those boys the best way" and basically said FU on the conference all... Still crying about that..... Dozer 3.... you are so awesome..... you are someone to be thanked in this horrible time and our celebration of E-57.

I love you all.... keep safe and those around you safe....

Thanks so much to Dozer 3 and E-32....... Thanks so much for everyone who has done something personal and from the heart.


11/5 The memorial today was awe inspiring. The emotion was raw and on the surface for everyone. I wasn't planning on going- in fact I was talking myself out of it since I wasn't sure I'd belong anymore now that I'm out of the government. But a dear friend told me I'd regret it forever if I didn't go and so I committed to meet him there. I felt honored to participate.

Once I arrived I saw friends in the sea of green and blue and brown. Many things impressed me but I'll try and stick to the little things that touched my heart. First when the families started processing in the crowd stood- and remained standing for the next 15-20 minutes until all the families were seated. The music was searing to me since I hadn't heard most of those songs since my dad's memorial service. The musicians should be commended as they sang powerfully and beautifully.

The forest supervisor should be commended for her composure, humanity, and how she represented the honor of the forest service. The politicians were decent but Mike and Norm spoke to us and not the cameras. There is a reason you two were applauded- not the politicians (who actually kept it relatively non-political). You two standing by each other showed the solidarity of the fire community. Your speeches brought the fallen to life and let us know the men behind the names. Mike I know later you said you didn't know how you got through the speech- you got through because you knew how much every firefighter in the crowd needed to hear who these men where and how they are remembered. You and Norm were numb from pain but you rose above to speak to your people and the families.

The fly-over with the bagpipes had tears streaming down every face. Ken it was good to know you were up there.

And finally- while most left the stage and people were filing out... Mike, Norm (holding the folded flag), and the Forest Supervisor stood together on the stage until every single family member processed out. You three showed class, concern, and respect.

As I was leaving I ran into friends and felt the community once again. I heard plans for more wildland firefighter foundation fundraisers from different forests. I also heard the crushing news of the Cleveland crash. As I drove home to San Diego passing the various engines I realized you can take the girl out of the ICP but forever in my heart I will be part of the wildland community.

To all involved you did a beautiful job.
Stay safe out there,
11/5 As I listened to the program today I was truly
impressed by the deep emotions expressed by all the
speakers, and there were some heavyweights that spoke
as it should have been. The one theme that was
expressed by ALL the speakers was that the five who
gave their lives in service to their country was that
they were all FIREFIGHTERS from the United States
Forest Service. That's right FIREFIGHTERS, I heard
the Chief say it several times. Not once did any of
the speakers refer to the five as Forestry Technicians.

The greatest honor that we could give for the fallen
five is to properly establish a firefighter series
within our organization with proper pay and benefits.
It's time to change.... if you believe this is the
right thing to do for the memory of E-57 and our
future employees engaged in this honorable profession,
then make it happen, contact your elected officials,
join the FWFSA, rattle some cages, get off your a$$
and do something.

Note to Casey: if it doesn't happen now , it never
will. I know you give it your all, all the time... thanks.

11/5 Engine 57 Memorial Page has been updated.


11/5 Hi Ab,

My two soccer teams this last Saturday 11/4/06 dedicated their games to the fallen firefighters & their families. They played with as much determination and heart as they could. They even said a prayer for them. Yes, they both won and, yes, it brought tears to my eyes to see how hard they played and how much it meant to them. (My youngest team U-8, one of the little girls came up to me and asked: Coach Michelle do you think the firefighters were proud of us? and I said yes with the biggest smile and a quivering lip.)

All my kids make me so proud and they have the biggest hearts and care so deeply! They even painted their faces! This was so important to them. My youngest team said, Coach we have to have a plan, I said yes we do and that plan is to have fun and do the best you can and that will make the firefighters so proud.

I not sure if you can post these, but I told the kids I would see and let them know.

U-8 Yellow Lightening: Names: Bowdy, Bailie, Sequia, Kathryn, Alse, Zane, Winston, Hayden, Gus, Madison, Chance, & Coach: Michelle

U-12 Fast & Furious: Names: Ben, Preston, Natassha, Hannah, Megan, Angelian, Tyler, Miranda. Bottom from left to right: Tommy, Turtle, Joe, & Heather. Coach: Michelle

Thanks Michelle. Great idea. We will certainly let the families know. Tell the kids we're proud of them for doing their best and having fun!

Maybe some of your Soccer Kids and some of your Cub Scouts would even like to join in on the Eldorado hotshot walk. Check the link at the top of the page for details. Ab.

11/5 I don't know where to begin...

I just want to thank everyone for the huge support they have offered, and given in such a heartfelt and professional manner. I hesitate to list folks and organizations because I know I will miss some deserving folks, but I feel I must make a stab at this.

The Captains Group, Feser's team, BATGRL12 (I know who you are), Kristel, Buzz, Alfredo, Bruce, Veronica, and all the other family liaisons (some of whom are not trained but make up for it in HEART), Lobotomy, Casey, Mellie (She covered Marlene, but I will include her too, not just for this but for everything else she does to support the forest), ALL of the other fire organizations that have stepped up, The Honor Guard! (Eric, you were awesome, and Eddie, great catch to fix a glitch), Retired FS (and other agencies) that have pitched in, , the San Bernardino National Forest, the San Jacinto Ranger District, the community of Idyllwild, the fire community as a whole, a certain laid off R9 GS-4 that stepped up today AND all of those I have not listed but know have stepped up!

My grief is overwhelming, but I am heartened by this outpouring of support and help. I can only hope to repay it by remembering and living by the words of Division Chief Norm Walker today, he knew that the crew of Engine 57 ‘raised the bar’ of excellence and commitment, and for us to honor them, we must all work hard to raise the bar ourselves.

11/5 Thanks to all those who provided photos, links, other media, and firsthand
descriptions for those of us unable to attend the memorial ceremony.

11/5 What a wonderful way for us all to pay tribute to Mark, Jess, Jason, Daniel, and Pablo. My hats off to the San Bernardino, what an awesome sight it was to see the engines and all personnel lined up at the entrance. And the stickers on all the engines. When and if these become available to the rest of us, please let us know.

Thank you Mike and Norm. Your heartfelt words were moving. Mike your vegetation fire response, area 57, brought me to tears. Norm I appreciated the stories, not having known these men, you gave it a personal touch. Jeanne you also did a wonderful job as the master of ceremonies. The professionalism all of you from the San Bernardino showed, made me proud once again to have once been a U.S. Forest Service Firefighter.

To those that could not be there, I wish everyone could have experienced the pipes playing Amazing Grace while the Tankers, then the Helicopters flew over, the tears really started to pour. I haven't been able to put in words how I felt since I first heard that a crew was missing on 10/26 and then to find out the terrible news. I still cant, but others here have. In my own way I did what felt right, joining the 52 club, going to the hospital for Pablo, and now the memorial. My heart goes out to the families, may you know that this person will not forget the sacrifice your loved ones gave. The showing of support from the greater fire community was overwhelming, I also know that a good number of these department's personnel were once Green and proud. I know mine is full of former USFS Firefighters.

And lets not forget the remaining members of E-57 who until today their names were unknown to me. Kyle and Kyle my deepest sympathies go out to you, I cant even imagine how the two of you feel. If the fire service and more importantly the Forest Service is your calling stay with it. You will have a great support system to help you work through this.

To all those involved behind the scenes thank you, WFF thanks you for all you do, Abs thanks for giving us a place to be serious, laugh, cry, and get angry.

And if things could not get any worse lets not forget our brothers from the Cleveland and give them and their families the same amount of support.

From my family to the families of the fallen:

In Loving Memory of BDF E-57


11/5 Photos from Memorial Service

Hello Ab. I am one of the people who submitted photos for Ken Perry's run in June. I took some again today at the Engine 57 Memorial Service. If you would like to use any of them on Wildlandfire.com, please feel free to do so.

Also, if you ever need a photographer in Southern California, please feel free to call on me. If I can be there, I will help.

Best regards,

Lee Anne

Thanks again, Lee Anne. I posted them on Engine 57 Memorial Page. We'll keep your offer in mind. Ab.

11/5 So sad to loose even more....

Signed gone but not forgotten
11/5 Another link to photos of the event down south. Though some of us were not
able to attend due to having to staff dispatch centers, we were there in
our hearts. Godspeed to all.


R5 Dispatcher
11/5 I watched the memorial service and was very moved. It was an excellent program. Great job. When I recognized some faces, I wished even more that I could have been there. Our hearts go out to the families, BDF employees, and the many others that are affected by this tragedy.

Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire
11/5 Sheesh...I don't know what to say. Be careful driving.
At a loss for the moment. I heard it on the scanner.
Oh boy...Pine Hills Guard Station...


Two People Killed After Hitting Tree In Cleveland National Forest

Firefighter, companion die in crash near Julian

Ab has learned that 2 wildland firefighters (1 permanent Forest Service firefighter and 1 seasonal firefighter) are dead and a third is in critical condition following an off-duty accident last night in a private vehicle. This is very sad news. As soon as more information is released, I hope someone will provide the details. The WFF knows and has stepped in to see if the families have immediate needs. Ab.

11/5 Ab,

A few more shots:



Thanks so much Joe. Ah, the wonders of the internet! Ab.

11/5 Thanks for this forum Abs. I was too far away to get to the ceremony.
The feed let me be there. It was good to see the CDF and Forest Service
brothers and sisters in the flag ceremony, in the honor guard procession,
presenting helmets and WFF statues to the families, sitting in the audience..
I've worked for both agencies. Thanks for the respect that's been
demonstrated in this very hard time.


You're welcome, AL. Ab.

11/5 Thanks to all who let me be a part of the ceremony from
across the country.

11/5 Oh my gosh,
What a wonderful, wonderful ceremony.
Love you guys and gals.


11/5 It was a deeply moving and well produced memorial. May it bring
solace to their families and friends.

My thanks to all who made it possible for those of us who could
not be there to participate through the streaming video.

11/5 cbs2.com is live now.



11/5 Via cell phone, a photo as the ceremony is about to begin:

The memorial


11/5 Onelick,

Try this on-the-scene blog by Riverside Press Enterprise reporter.



Ten or 15 minutes until the feed should kick in. Ab.

11/5 To All:

Is there any update to the list of media that is covering the memorial service today?
I'm here on the East Coast wishing I could be there in person to pay my respects.
I already have the www.nbc4.tv/index.phpl link, are there any others? I am sure
there are many, many more that can't make it in person, but are there in spirit.

Thank you

Hello my old friend. Haven't heard of any other.

Just got a call from the memorial site that at least a mile, maybe 2, of polished green FS engines are lined up to provide entrance to the families. The line is winding away as far as the eye can see. Shoulder to shoulder are the crews and FS personnel in uniform: hotshots, engine crews, other FS personnel. As limousines arrive with the families inside, those in the line salute. Also, there are many, many interagency engines - red and yellow and white and green - already parked in the parking area, with more arriving. Two structure engines have their towers extended in an inverted V and are supporting the biggest American flag anyone has ever seen.

Inside the amphitheater, the Honor Guard is practicing. The bagpipes wail out in practice, tears fall. There's a huge white banner with an image of a relaxed and used Whites firefighter boot, empty, with laces undone. "Always Remember" and the names of our fallen are written on the banner. Across the front of the stage, there's a table for each of the fallen with their photo, flowers, and a yellow hardhat with their name and Engine 57 on it. Also on each table is one of the wildland firefighter statues.

It's still hours until the service begins. The amphitheater is filling. The top of the amphitheater will have hotshot crew buggies parked in honor. Ab.

11/5 I want to thank the folks behind the scenes on the San Bernardino NF who have been helping with everything. I know they are in grief too, but they're carrying on and doing it with grace.

In particular I'd like to embarrass Marlene Rhynes. She's been my "go to" person for some arrangements connected with the memorial service today. I don't know what she does on the forest, but I've left her messages. She's left me one. Nice voice, doing her awesome piece to help out. Beyond the "call of duty". Thanks Marlene! (... and if your face is turning red, GOOD, you deserve it!)

Thanks also to the others like Marlene who are supporting, each in their own way. In many cases we'll never know what you helpers have contributed, but thanks for contributing. You're invaluable. You're what makes the Forest Service great.


11/5 Ab,

Yesterday was my 47th birthday, I think. I've lied about it so much I really don't know. I don't celebrate, I'm usually at work or sitting at home on the couch ignoring the phone and just doing nothing. Yesterday was different. I received a phone call from Jody or Crystal, (they sound so much alike on the phone) asking me to join them for brunch. I didn't want to get out of my pj's or leave the house and I really didn't want to tackle my afro which was wild as it ever was and I thought of every excuse in the book to get out of it, then they put Bonnie on the phone.

I don't remember everything that she said to me but I'll never forget this. She told me that as she walked through that Cordon of Honor she kept her head high and she was so proud of each and everyone of you, she told me to keep my head up, be proud and go on. I got off the couch still a little groggy from too much Cabo Wabo and not enough orange juice, and met them for brunch, of course I was late.

Jody met me at the door and led me to Grandma, Bonnie and Crystal who were sitting at a table with balloons and flowers just a cheezin'. Wow, during the worst time of theirs lives they thought of me. We ate and laughed and reflected on Jason's service and then it happened, those waitress' came over and started singing. I will never do that to anyone again, I was so embarrassed, but honored that they were so happy to be celebrating with me and they got me chocolate cake to boot!

Later on that evening I had to deliver things to the house. The families' assignment for the day was to chill out, get to bed early and to get ready for today but with the Reese/McKay families do you think that happened? Nope. I walked in and they were all there, they sang Happy Birthday and all I wanted to do was get out of there! Like I said, I ain't one for celebrations. I just wanted to pass on Bonnie's words of wisdom to you all and pass it on like wildfire,

Hold your heads high, be proud of who you are and what you do, but most of all go on.

They are truly an incredible family. To those of you who are still assigned or you didn't get chance to sign at the service, there is a guest book floating around the SO. It was on a table in the briefing room. If you get a chance please sign it. Bonnie would greatly appreciate it!


11/5 KCK,

After i wrote that little thing about the ESPERANZA incident,
my girlfriend was playing that song and it just sounded so
appropriate, for our brothers and sisters.


11/5 On 10/24/2006, I wrote about some of the processes we have all gone through before in previous accidents... so naive I feel now. I have been a supporter on the outside looking in for so many years.... I feel like I have failed.

On 10/26/2006, my worst nightmare happened. It became very personal and will be a part of me until the day I die.. I lost a friend and other people who I had assisted with in training, some who I knew in the Esperanza Fire but never got a chance to learn more about... especially their families.

Lessons Learned.... Know the Families of your fellow firefighters. At the least, support them in anyway you can when something bad happens..... I can't even explain the terrific things the Wildland Firefighter Foundation has been doing behind the scenes.....

The Memorial Service today (Sunday) is about healing and remembrance..... about us hugging, shaking hands, and just being their for each other. You all get it.

11/5 JM,

Thanks for sharing the safety gram.

It has been a tough year. It really sets in how long this fire season has been when I see the 22 names listed in Honor on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation's website titled, "Honoring Our Fallen", 2006.


P.S. - I hope the arsonist is forced to watch the memorial services tomorrow. Maybe then will he know the pain and suffering he has caused.
11/5 As the wife of a former USFS firefighter, I can only imagine the pain and sorrow the families are feeling. I just want them to know that their husband, sons, father, brothers, boyfriends, are our heroes and will NEVER be forgotten. And we, part of the fire brother/sisterhood, will think of them every night, as we go to sleep.

It touches my heart to see the "Boot" out on every street corner, and donations coming from around the world, from some of us who have never met them, but will have touched our lives forever.

We went to Arrowhead Regional Hospital on October 30th, to see how Pablo was doing, we felt so much love and concern, not only from the Firefighters that were there, but from each and every visitor at that hospital, who were there to see their own family members. The nurses, the staff.....such a wonderful feeling to see so many caring hearts. That is how much this tragedy means to all of us.

We will be at the Memorial on Sunday, to pay our respects and to show our support to the families. And our hearts will be with them forever. We are all one big family.

Foresters Wife
USFS 91- 97, Angeles National Forest

11/5 Old Engine Guy,

Good question. From what I understand, and I am not an expert, just a crew guy, there is no longer a difference between the 50 crews in California in regards to intent. There are still several crews working towards their hotshot status, and when that is reached they will become an IHC. Until one of the new crews officially request for a Review by the Safety First Committee and the R5 Hotshot Steering Committee the crew will be a Type 2IA crew. Once the crew has gone through the 2 day review process they will become an IHC. During the period between officially requesting and receiving the review they will have the status as a Type 1 crew but will not be an IHC.

To make things even more confusing there are five different websites that have a listing of the R5 crews. Attached is a spread sheet that lists the crews and where I got the information. Maybe someday all of the information will be the same but right now there is still confusion as to which crews are to be listed as IHC and what crews are not. The North Ops Daily Resource Report breaks down the crews that have achieved Type 1 status and those that are Type 2IA.

For more information maybe Johnny Clem, Superintendent of the Klamath Hotshots and Chairman of the R5 Hotshot Steering Committee; or Pete Coy, Superintendent of Mill Creek Hotshots and Certification Coordinator for the Region; could pipe in and give any clarifying information.

Also congratulations goes out to Shasta Lake Hotshots: (See News Release)

And to the American River Hotshots: (See News Release)

Hope This Helps,
11/5 Hey Ab,

The San Bernardino is already working on some helmet stickers and there are
two different kinds of vehicle stickers and in various sizes.


11/4 Joanna

FYI Several stickers are in production here on the BDF.

One which is already on our equipment stating "In memory of Engine 57
firefighters October 26th, 2006". Several others will be coming out. Another
vehicle one and one for fire helmets. If I get a hold of some pics off of our
emails I'll send them in.

11/4 Great story in the LA Times today about the Loop disaster quoting Gordon King,
two other survivors and Vicki and Mellie:


FC 180

The story will move into the archives tomorrow, I think, and free registration will be required to access it. If you want to read it later, you might copy and paste it somewhere. Ab.

11/4 RE: Fill The Boot

Several "Fill the boot" fundraisers have been happening this weekend in the San Bernardino County area and all I can say is the communities' support of its firefighters is showing! BDF firefighters and its local cooperators have collected at least $100,000 for the families of our brothers! (going off of figures collected from our fundraiser and calls to other ones). It is so heart warming to see the public's support! Hopefully they're support will continue to show tomorrow.


The service yesterday for Jason was awesome. I'm sure he is very pleased about how it turned out. Also, Jason's family was so welcoming at their home. Thank you guys so much for making us feel welcomed! And thank you to the High Desert Agencies for lining the route with support! It was one of those times you felt butterflies in your stomach.

Let’s celebrate 5 awesome firefighters tomorrow!


11/4 Hey Ab,

I was just looking at the Engine 57 Memorial site and it occurred to me that the graphic they did with 'never forget' would make a great window sticker or decal for those of us who do not intend to forget...

Any plans for doing something like this? Proceeds could go to the WFF foundation for the families...

I'm sure I'm not the first to think of this, and am even more sure that there will be some springing up out there, but if I am going to purchase I would like to be sure it is FF approved and the money is going to a legitimate source or charity.

Just a thought.


I haven't gotten wind of such a plan yet. I think everyone is pretty busy tomorrow, but maybe the day after you could call someone on the BDF and ask. I could give you contact info. Ab.

11/4 Greetings.

Thank you for all your support through all of this. Yesterdays services where an amazing celebration of their lives and to know that they were men that would have changed our world. I was lucky enough to make a visit with my brothers and sisters from the San Jacinto Ranger Dist. I was able to make peace with what happened and have a better understanding of just how furious the fire was.

I took a few pics and have stitched them together to make a QuickTime VR. It is up to you if you want to post them or just send them to specific people. I do not want the media getting a hold of them. Once again thank you for everything.


Thanks Shrek. Here are the first two. Readers, these are not for discussion at this point, only for viewing. Thanks, Ab.

End of Property
Down Canyon

11/4 WOW... Ab, I believe we will be sending that with all the statues in the future.

Ken Perry will be flying in the fly over.

How lucky we all are to have each other.

I read recently from a wise old woman.... Life is short but it sure is wide....

Vicki Minor
P.S. Happy Birthday to Bette Ashe.

Happy birthday dear Bette, Happy birthday to you. And thanks for all. Ab.

11/4 Hey just thought I would let people know that the Redding Fire Association
members are holding a Memorial and donation here in Redding. As of noon
they had over 4000 dollars for the victims. Our fire brothers and sisters hard
at work for the victims. Thanks for their help in helping the families.

Dave/ SHF ENG Capt.

Thanks Dave. Ab.

11/14 Ab

Googled it to find the author.

Website is city of Kirksville, Missouri.

-Author: Assistant Chief Kp
-Boles Fire Protection District

Boles FPD is in Labadie, MO


Thanks, I've given credit. Ab.

11/4 Just some information to share...

Know you all work to keep alive the memories of your fallen sisters and brothers. Something the Moms, the Dads, the significant others and wives and families will appreciate over the years is a note on their loved one's birthday. As the Mum of a lost child I know how I cherish these.

So very tragic and heartbreaking. Bless them and Bless you. The families may also need a great deal of support emotionally and, heaven forbid, but if a change of venue happens as they go through the criminal justice meat grinder. They may need lodging folks to care for their residence. They will need you but they may never ever ask for help, they are hurting to badly.

Respectfully a Mum

Thanks Mum, if we can help you, please let us know privately. Ab.

11/4 Ab,

We are holding a boot drive on the Tahoe National Forest for the
families of fire fighters who lost their lives on the Esperanza fire. All of the
money that is raised will go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.
Please post this. Here is a link to the article.



Thanks. Ab.

11/4 Loss and rebirth in a '66 fire
By Mike Anton, LA Times Staff Writer
November 4, 2006

Story of the Loop fire. You can read the long first page, but then have to
register. First page was good. I don't think it costs anything to register.


11/4 Ab-

Info on TV/Web coverage on the BDF Engine 57 Memorial. As of Saturday @ 1000 PST:

KNBC www.nbc4.tv will be streaming the memorial over the web at 1300.
CNN No listing.
MSNBC No listing

For firefighters with the proper hardware, the National Fire Association will be broadcasting the memorial live over their network. I'll post again if I hear of any other broadcasts.


Thanks Rob, I have a feeling CNN and MSNBC will cover at least part of it, perhaps without much warning. It's too big a political event with lots of bigwigs - who will be "showing their support" - to be overlooked by the media. This is OK. The politics of it is not what it's about for all of us, however.

We will all be present to support San Jac BDF firefighters and our families first, as only we can. The rest is fluff, including one international eye-candy union (clearly not our CDF union) that is milking this as though they've supported wildland firefighters in the past. (yawn)

Readers, if anyone finds out for sure of other stations broadcasting this event, please let us know.

This Ab will not be on site, but present 100% in spirit when our Wildland Firefighter Foundation statues are presented to the families. How I would like to know who will be presenting, but they're keeping that hush-hush. Those statues are FROM US - from this community of interagency firefighters, vollies, and excellent private sector firefighters, and supporters - FROM US, provided by money we all raised with fundraisers like Ken's run, raffles, auctions or donated via our Wildland Firefighter Foundation's 52 Club or General Fund.

The statues are tangible evidence of our wildland firefighter community's love and respect for our fallen brothers and promise of support for their families.

In our statues being presented are our runners' fundraising steps; the strain of our fire crews' uphill strides, bump; the pulaski's cuts; the chainsaw's roar; the rappellers' descent; the smokejumpers' leap; the sweat and smell of our brows, pits, and feet; the long, hot smoke-filled days and nights... the elements of the wilderness, including fire.

We will not forget. Ab.

11/4 BATGRL12,

Good job leading us into the celebration of Jason's life.

Was it a bit round about? Many of us in the rigs following you began to wonder what the heck we were doin'? where we were goin'? one ranger even asked should we have brought food for the long-haul? We were on cell phones between vehicles, debating your intent. Best we could determine, you wanted us to shift gears, see all the people lining the roadway, get into the moment and transition into the celebration of Jason's life.

It worked.

Thanks, we'd follow you anywhere. Jason's family is awesome!

Eng Capt


It's sad to say that the arsonist has a defense fund paid for by us tax payers,
yet our fellow Firefighters have to have a legal assistance fund set up for them
paid for with contributions. So as it goes, the accused has more rights than
the victims.


Still Learning

11/4 MM,

Got a chance to listen to the song.... so awesome.

It explains alot how about so many of us are grieving..... what a fitting tribute to our fallen friends and brothers.

Thank you MM




I heard through the grapevine (dont know the details yet) that you're
helping or have helped smooth the way with OWCP for KRS (our paralyzed hotshot) to manage
the OWCP process so he may get what he needs, simply to live.

Thanks also to anyone(s) behind the scenes who has facilitated that change!


11/4 On behalf of the McKay family, thank you so much.

That was unbelievable, more than I'd ever expected. Bonnie thanked each and every one of you as we walked through the Cordon Of Honor.

I have to give a shout out to everyone behind the scene who made this possible. No matter how small your part was, thank you so much. A special thanks to my team, the production group, High Desert Church and Sunset Hills Memorial Park for taking in my vision and making it happen. To the City of Victorville, CHP, San Bernardino County Sheriffs Department, and Cal Trans thanks for making it possible for the procession to happen. I thank each and everyone of you for showing up. I hadn't been in a Victorville parade since Highschool and to have three CHP units leading me instead of chasing me, I could sure use that kind of escort the next time I need to go to the mall. Mercy Air, that flyover was incredible. The one thing that I didn't think about. Thank you for that Warren. Claudia Posey, thank you so much for introducing Brodyn to us. You were right, he does have a little bit of both Jess and Jason in him.

Someone asked me how long I thought it would take for things to get back to normal. This is the new normal for all of us and a new chapter in the lives of Bonnie and her family. They shall get through it and so will we.

If I forgot or forget to thank anyone I'm sorry. See you on Sunday.


11/4 Ab,

I suspect that most of the fire communities’ thoughts are with our fallen and their families this weekend. The memorial service set for tomorrow will be very emotional for both the people there and those of us far away. I believe the reason behind that being the sense of family that we all feel in the fire service. Sure we bicker and fight among ourselves, but as family we always set our feelings aside to help a brother or sister because that is what family does. I have always told my wife that I never worry if something happens to me because she will be in good hands. I believe that very strongly based on the past actions of my brothers and sisters in the fire service. As I set typing this I am reminded that life is terminal no matter how you look at it. The question we must always ask of ourselves in this high risk business is have we lived life to the fullest, loved, laughed and left it better than we found it?

I wanted to provide a little something I found several years ago that has made this and past fire service fatalities easier on myself. I believe it is the way things are run by the IC of all creation.


Click to read The Last Command (Author is Assistant Chief Kp, Boles Fire Protection District, Labadie, MO)

11/4 Molly,

No Way! Do people really screw up your name? I blame it on my dyslexic keyboard, becaws I are a relly good spellur. With all that you do on our "porch", you're like gold. You too Mellie, you are a credit to your family and friends.

Yesterday, I rescued an elderly lady who'd blown a tire hitting a curb. She was going to have to leave the vehicle "abandoned" until her SSI check came in so that she could afford to fix it. Twenty bucks at a junkyard got a replacement tire and rim, which I put on for her. I still haven't met her, don't need to. Obviously, I wouldn't take any money for helping her out. I've always claimed that the deeds were "my penance" for having been such an a$$ as a kid. The kind of people that "we" are, I'd bet that most of us are doing the same thing every day.

I've decided to print up some "fundraising flyers" for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and leave them in my vehicle along with some pre-addressed envelopes. In the future, when people offer to pay me for stuff like that, I'll give them the envelopes and paperwork to make a donation "to a really meaningful cause" instead. You can go to www.wffoundation.org/documents/FirefightersLoveCookies2_001.doc (2464K doc) for the form.

Not bad, I wouldn't have taken the money anyway...

Stay safe! "Kicks"

Great idea. Ab.

11/4 Yesterday, I was truly impressed while riding in the procession for Jason.

>From the church, with the two aerial ladders holding up the American Flag in Victorville. To his Aunts house in Apple Valley. People stopped, got out of their cars with their hands held over their hearts. Veterans young and old standing at attention saluting. Local agency apparatus at intersections at attention. Apple Valley Police/Sheriff patrol cars lined up, lights on and saluting. Some people crying, some waving. Although a very sad occasion, it made me very proud and extremely moved by the public's outpouring respect for us as firefighters. Our prayers and thoughts are still with the families through these tough times and in our hearts forever. My hats off to all my sisters and brothers on the San Bernardino National Forest, for a "Job Well Done". We will get thru this, "As We Are One".

Signed, BDF Captain 19

11/4 Ab,

The tragedy of the Esperanza Fire has touched us all. Today there is a health fair at our local hospital. We are adding a "Fill the Boot" to our display with the collected moneys earmarked to the Relief Fund established for Engine 57. It seems the right thing to do. We hope other departments will use their local events, to support those who are left behind when tragedy strikes the US Fire community.

My Brother's and Sister's Keeper
11/4 Casey, Burk Minor, and Rick Halsey,

On Monday it is Danny's services/memorial and on Tuesday it is Pablo's services/memorial.

The Sunday Memorial Service for all of our fallen is not the last remembrance of our fallen, but it will be an honorable and fitting service for the families, and a chance for the firefighting community to come together and recognize our losses and what they mean to all of us individually on a personal basis.

How we honor these great firefighters and heroes in the future is very personal to us in the wildland firefighting community, especially those of us on the San Bernardino NF.... even more personal to those on the San Jacinto District. These were our families, our friends, and our co-workers. They will continue to be a part of the wildland firefighting community and our circle of friends forever.

I am so glad to hear that Casey Judd, Burk Minor, and Rick Halsey are attending the Memorial Services to support everyone in their own special ways. I am also very happy you folks are just attending for us to have a shoulder to cry on, talk to, and just provide support...... it means so much..... no speeches, no flyers, no "talking points"... just a shoulder to cry on and provide support... you guys get it.... you have become wildland firefighters.

Right now, it is time for healing and support for the families and friends... you guys get it..... you guys are all part of the wildland firefighting community and bless us all everyday in your actions . I am so honored to know you and how you are supporting us, and how you have become a member of "our" community.

Take care and keep safe.......

11/3 Can someone answer why do some crews such as Klamath, Modoc and Golden Eagles who came about around 2001 with the rest of the MEL buildup crews and hold the title of IHC and other crews such as Palomar and Mill Creek who were established 20 plus years ago and were axed due to budget can only hold the title of RHC.

Old Engine Guy

There is no more RHC, it's IHC or not. Ab.

11/3 I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy, condolences and prayers to the families; vast firefighter family and friends of our lost heroes.

I am not a firefighter but my son is an engine operator on the LPF. I have been crying off and on since the news first broke of the tragedy and every time I read another heart wrenching post. Even though I did not know any of the firefighters they were still family to me. There are so many kind and loving people in the firefighter family and the extended firefighter family. Heather’s family and Danny’s mom who wrote to "They Said" to offer comfort when still recovering from their own tragic losses; and the two burned firefighters who traveled to be with the families; and all the courageous people who have been there with the families to offer whatever comfort they can and assist in any way possible and the Eldorado hotshots for their upcoming fundraiser. What wonderful, loving and thoughtful people, but that is the norm not the exception in the firefighter family/community.

It broke my heart to read about the ring for Jason’s girlfriend— it is such a blessing that Vicki took care of it and got his ring for her as it will surely be a treasured memory of their love. Thank God the WFF is not a government org. tied up in bureaucratic red tape— that Vicki can take care of immediate needs and get things done now not fill out forms in triplicate and wait months/years when the financial needs are now. Knowing how grossly underpaid USFS firefighters are I am sure the families live paycheck to paycheck as most of us do, and when hit by tragedy do not have the funds for funerals and all the myriad financial problems that occur. My son told me about Wildlandfire.com and Wildland Firefighters Foundation a month or so ago. What a caring, giving, insightful and strong woman Vicki Minor must be— she saw a tremendous need and she took action— she is a hero. I hate to think what our firefighters and families went through before the WFF existed. I will be joining the 52 club and buying a membership for my dear mother-in-law for Christmas to help support this much needed and appreciated organization.

Also it makes me heartsick and angry that there has to be a legal assistance fund for firefighters— our firefighters would never knowingly put another in jeopardy. There is not a structure in this world worth a human life let alone 5 lives. Weathermen/women whose training, educations and jobs are to forecast the weather don’t always get it right, so how can our firefighters be expected to predict the weather and wind when the weather professionals can’t?

The inhuman monster who started the fire is responsible for this tragedy. One criminal act devastated so many lives, destroyed so many hopes and dreams, left the families and loved ones with an emptiness that will never be filled and left innocent children without a father. I hope justice prevails.

Annette (a firefighters mom)

11/3 Ab, I want to bring up something... SPELLING... <tongue in cheek>

With all this working together on fire, on memorials, I'm sure people will express their appreciation with plaques or figures or pulaskis or gold shovels with thanks and names and forest names and unit identifiers.

I have an unusual name - nickname really - Mellie.

Used to be FIRE people frequently misspelled it or typo-ed it as Millie, like your mom's old Aunt Millie - short for Mildred or Millicent. (MoHicks, and Safetys and DIVS and R5 Chiefs, Hunters, and Dougs, but NEVER Misery Whip, he's perfect <snicker> and never, never OA!.)

Nowdays mis-spelling my name only happens occasionally... or maybe Ab always fixes it. Anyway, the first few times it happened, it kinda hurt my feelings, like they didn't care enough to get it right... but then I looked at who had made the mistake or typo and I know they really wouldn't have wanted to make me unhappy. And I changed my thinking. I am more tolerant of Millie, sometimes I can even think of it as an endearing form of Mellie... ?

OK, I'll confess, I've misspelled names too. I used to get confused with Vicki's name and spell it Vicky, ummmm and she's one of my best friends, ummmm and so did the FWFSA (Casey) last year when they awarded Vicki the first ever award she'd ever received. Luckily, he figured it out before the ceremony and had a new one made... and she LOVED it. (She may have the mis-spelled one too... maybe on her bathroom wall?)

San Ber-nar-di-no is another one that's often misspelled. I saw it without the r in a govt memo the other day about our fallen, one from the WO.... Misspelled twice. They didn't mean it.

I saw it posted later here. Ab corrected it! <snicker> before posting. And the unit identifier for San Bernardino National Forest is BDF. I used to get it mixed up (even worse are all those five S forest unit identifiers). I think I could pass the CA forest test now, but maybe not if I was stressed or tired on a fire assignment.

So my message is this:
If someone gives you a token of their appreciation and something's misspelled, your name or your forest or its unit identifier, etc, please look at the genuine appreciation or honor the giver is expressing and overlook the mis-spelling. (And know that when your heirs sell it on eBay, they will get loads more money for it because of the mis-spelling, like those stamps or dollar bills printed upside down or backwards. Makes it unique and gen-u-ine.)

And for those who are appreciating or honoring, thanks for the appreciation/honor (and please check your spelling).

Ab, time to take away my keyboard on a Friday night and sign me
Millie, the spelling Queen (At least no one's misspell my name Gertrude! <snicker>)

haw, haw: some firefighters are not so good at spelling. Something to help... CA Unit Identifiers and on the Links page under federal there are links to lists of all the other unit identifiers and to national forest names. Can't help with people names. Ab.

11/3 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. Ab.
11/3 Misery Whip:

The last two sentences of your post were especially poignant to me since I deal with these politicians on a daily basis. I hope you will permit me to use your sentiments as I "pull the proverbial teeth" to get these elected officials to do something.

The sad point is that for nearly a year the FWFSA has pleaded with those in the House & Senate to address a number of serious issues before they lost constituents or we lost firefighters.

Typically, here we are, our words heard but not acted upon. Things are a bit different now. With serious injuries in Winnemucca and losses in Idaho & Utah and now California, the "voice" is considerably louder, clearer and more focused than ever to change the status quo.

No more will bureaucrats be able to present unrealistic, rosy, misleading information on preparedness and all the wonderful things the Agency(s) have accomplished without serious scrutiny and without voices like the FWFSA right at the same witness table telling congress how it really is in the field.

The loss of these heroes cannot, and will not be in vain. If it means convincing Congress to "clean house" as well as adopt fire program policies that true firefighters develop, not (with all due respect) ologists etc., then so be it.

We are all emotionally wiped out. Let's mourn. Those of us at the memorial will salute these heroes and all of us will carry them in our hearts as we do all those that have been lost before them as well as those seriously injured.

Then, as the sun rises on Monday, November 6th, let's all reaffirm our commitment to fixing what needs to be fixed.

With Great Respect for all of you,

11/3 Abs & All,

I wanted to express my support and sympathy to the friends and loved ones of the Crew of Engine 57. I didn’t know any of them but it is obvious from the emails and news that these were good people, the kind the world needs more of today. The story of Pablo’s honor parade choked me up. I wish I could have seen it.

I guess we’re already on a first name basis. Jason, Mark, Jess, Daniel and Pablo. These men have entered the ranks of our most revered, brother firefighters who were cut short in their prime. Words fail at a time like this.

Mellie, Abs, Vicki Minor, Casey, I am proud to be part of a community that has individuals such as you looking out for our best interests. From everything I can determine you folks are representing us in a most honorable manner. You are our de facto leaders in a time when our appointed leaders seem to be in hiding. Thank you for speaking the truth to power. I’m putting some checks in the mail tonight.

My advice to anyone who is even remotely connected to this incident is; don’t say anything about your own or other people’s actions to any investigator, regardless of the investigator’s agency, until you can be completely assured that criminal charges will not be filed against anyone besides the arsonist who started this fire. The OIG can use any statement taken by FS or other investigators and use it against you and others in a criminal trial.

Lessons learned will have to wait until the politicians figure out whether they want to treat us as criminals, or as valued public servants who are performing to the best of our abilities under extremely trying circumstances. They can’t have it both ways.

Misery Whip
11/3 Ab....

I just created a page on our website for the 52 Mile Walk. Can you replace
the link at the top of They Said from our homepage to the new page? Thanks
for pushing this for us on They Said. More info will be coming out
New Page: www.eldoradohotshots.org/52milewalk.phpl


Done. Ab.

11/3 Arson, murder charges to be filed in deadly California wildfire
This handout photo released Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006, by the Riverside
County Sheriff's Department shows Raymond Lee Oyler

By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press Writer

Thursday, November 2, 2006
(11-02) 11:40 PST Riverside, Calif. (AP) --

Arson, murder and other charges carrying a possible death sentence will be
filed against a 36-year-old man in connection with a wildfire that killed
five U.S. Forest Service firefighters last month and other fires last year,
authorities said Thursday.

Sheriff's investigators recommended five counts of first-degree murder, 11
counts of arson and 10 counts of use of an incendiary device against
Raymond Lee Oyler, 36, and Riverside County District Attorney-elect Rod
Pacheco told a press conference that prosecutors would do so later in the

Oyler will additionally face two so-called special circumstances, one
alleging murders committed during arson and another alleging multiple
murders, Pacheco said. A court appearance was set for Thursday afternoon.

The five firefighters were killed by the Esperanza fire, which spread over
more than 60 square miles before being contained Monday. Authorities did
not immediately identify the other fires.

"It is important to note that the charges we are filing today include the
possibility that life in prison without the possibility of parole is one
possible sentence, as well as death," Pacheco said.

A decision on whether to seek life in prison or the death penalty will be
made in the next 60 days, "but only after a careful and sober review of the
evidence, the defendant's background, and the particular nature and
circumstances of this case," Pacheco said.

The impact of the firefighters' deaths on family and friends will also be
considered, he said.

"The feelings of the surviving family members of the victims will be
consulted and be given great weight by our office in what is always a
difficult decision," he said.

Oyler has not been available for comment since being arrested earlier in
the week. A call to the home of Oyler's mother was answered by a woman who
said she had no comment.

The Esperanza fire was set shortly after 1 a.m. on Oct. 26 in Cabazon, a
city along Interstate 10 about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. Stoked by
Santa Ana winds, it swept southwest through the San Jacinto Mountains,
overran the five firefighters, destroyed 34 homes and charred more than 60
square miles before being contained Monday.

Killed at the scene were firefighters Jason McKay, 27, of Apple Valley;
Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; and Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto.
Mark Loutzenhiser, 43, of Idyllwild, the captain of Engine 57, died soon
after at a hospital. Firefighter Pablo Cerda, 23, of Fountain Valley died
Tuesday evening.

Investigators interviewed Oyler on Oct. 27, served a search warrant on his
Beaumont residence Monday, then arrested him Tuesday.

"This arrest really does help with some of the closure, the healing that we
in the Forest Service community, and in the families, need," said Jeanne
Wade Evans, the San Bernardino National Forest supervisor.

In Joplin, Mo., police and court records show Oyler had several traffic
violations and other mostly minor run-ins with the law from 1997 through
1999. The most severe was a 1999 misdemeanor count of violating a
protection order won by his wife by entering her apartment while she was
out. A warrant issued in the case was never served. Jasper County circuit
court records show Oyler's wife divorced him in 2001.
11/3 Ab,

I am saddened by the lose of BDF E-57. I have been retired for a few years now, but I still think of the difficulty and the unpredictability of wildland firefighting, and the JOY of doing it. I know they were doing just what they wanted to do, and feel they would like to do it again. Oh, I can hear them saying now “Just One More Time . . . .”

To the families and friends of E-57, have strength to continue with your lives. That is important to all of us.

To the Crew of E-57, God Speed.


PS: Theysaid is playing such an important role in the information sharing within the fire service and to us retirees. The information you are getting out to those of us removed from Southern California helps to keep the importance of this incident and the aftermath fresh in our minds.

Great Site, Great Job!

Thanks, Hunter, lots and lots going on behind the scenes, too. It's rewarding to make a contribution. Ab.

11/3 I just left a meeting of the local Rotary club (of which I happen to be a member) with a smokey bear baseball cap full of money for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. As soon as I can find a stamp, over $500 will be on it's way to Boise.

Many of you have a father/mother/brother/aunt in a service club like Rotary (Kiwanis, Lions, Junior League, etc) who want to help out organizations like the foundation, they just need to be made aware of the need and how to help. Use your network!

Everyone hang in there!

11/3 Reminders:

Please go to the www.eldoradohotshots.org/ to read about the 52 Mile Walk the Eldorado Hotshots are organizing. You can also jump down to read their explanatory post from yesterday.

Funeral services for Jess McLean and Jason McKay are being held today. If you're inclined, please hold them, their families and our fire community in your thoughts and hearts today. Ab.

11/3 To our Forest Service family:

We want to share and pass on the honor and tribute that was paid to Pablo after his passing. After the deep sadness and sorrow it was an honor to represent the San Bernardino National Forest in the tribute to Pablo.

After Pablo’s passing Engine 32, Dozer 3, Ranger 3, Ranger 1, Information 1 with support of our local cooperators and law enforcement agencies escorted Pablo to Riverside County. The 10 and 215 freeways were shut down with the help of CHP and Sheriff Office while we escorted Pablo. The overpasses were covered with numerous state, county and city emergency vehicles and paid great tribute as we passed. As we passed through the Moreno Valley area on the overpass a Moreno Valley ladder truck was fully extended displaying the American flag with other apparatus, while all personnel where standing at attention across the truck and saluted as we passed.

It was a true hero’s honor as Pablo deserved and we know our fallen comrades were smiling. We were honored and proud to have taken part in this tribute paid to Pablo and his family.

Engine 32 and Dozer 3

Thanks Engine 32 and Dozer 3. Ab.

A bit more... this was what was shared in yesterday's FS info update:

Pablo Cerda was honored in a special manner following his passing on Tuesday. As his body was moved from the hospital an impromptu procession formed involving over 50 public safety vehicles. As the procession continued the interstate was closed and at EVERY overpass fire personnel saluted the passing of Pablo.
11/3 Nerd on the fireline,

We've had the capability to receive real-time, up-to-date fire status information directly on the fireline for a couple of years now. It's as simple as plugging a digital radio into your PDA. see:


Fire Geek

Fire Geek, thanks for sending this in earlier. I'm just having time to get to it now. Esperanza Fire ArcGlobe animation (a wmv or windows media player file) It's 1 minute. It provides quite a perspective and reminds me that Esperanza is Spanish for "hope". Ab.

11/3 Yesterday was a day of celebration for the McKay family.

The news of the arrest came while I was outside reading Smoke Jumpers One to Ten to the kids and chasing Triple Z around the yard, the adults were working on the OWCP paperwork. Jody ran out to get me as they wanted to share another special moment with me. The tears were flowing and they were so quiet but of course I changed all of that. Triple Z and I started dancing and singing (well I was) at the top of our lungs Celebrate by Kool and the Gang. Pretty soon I had them all singing, dancing and high fiving around the house.

The family would like to thank everyone who, no matter how small their part may have been, for finding that creep (my words) before he caused harm to someone else.

BDF - Thanks for that fabulous showing of support at the visitation last night. Bonnie had the family leave so that you all could have time there with Jason by yourselves. She is one incredible woman. If you are wondering why I was out running around and wiping noses outside instead of by Bonnie's side last night, I had to give the adults time alone without having to worry about their children disturbing others. I can't believe that they trusted me with them after being with me for all this time, but they did. With all of the running around we did, (I was always "IT") the pack test isn't nothing but a walk in the park!

Today will be a long day for us.

I had to pick the girls up at 0330 this morning for an interview with the Today show, I didn't wear my pj's this time. I hope that what we set up for Jason and his family last night did him justice and gave you all a vision of the life and times of Jason Robert McKay. Thank you production group for flying - yes I said flying - the photos to Apple Valley for the display.

Today should be fabulous. I thank everyone who has assisted me in putting this together. I am getting my documentation together and I will turn it in proudly, for right now I feel like I am on top of the world.

I got a peek at Staci's ring, it is beautiful. Jason's family has trusted me to give Staci a letter that Jason had written to Staci but for whatever reason he never gave it to her.

Paul and Rob, thank you so much for the rock. I had it in my "purse" along with the letter and I shared it with the girls this morning. I will carry that rock in my "purse" everyday, today I will take it out before I go on stage, I'd hate for it to fall out or start to slip while I'm trying to get through the Bell ceremony, but know that I will treasure it forever.

Please note that today is not only to honor Jason but to honor you too. Again to those who are working with me thanks again for all of your support. Krystel, Veronica, Bruce and Eddie my prayers and thoughts are with you. Before I forget, the Memorial Folder's front cover was an actual photo project that Jason did and many thanks to Cal Trans for not closing the freeway today.


Our best wishes for the day. Thanks for sharing. We'll be there in spirit. Ab.

11/3 dedication to SBU 57

Hard to post
I think this song is really cool
to all the brothers


4 minute song - it's a wmv file, very LARGE, requires windows media player or another media player- We will leave this up today and then remove it. (you need high speed internet for this large file) I don't know if this constitutes fair use. Buy the CD. I am. It is pretty amazing in this context. Brought some healing tears to my eyes. Made me think of chat last Thursday night after hearing the news. There were many of us (35 highest number - I had to be anonymous); we weren't talking about meaningful things, necessarily, most of us were not talking too much... we were each at our own keyboard, me with my beer. It was a safe place for personal tears, lots of us virtually together, sharing our humanity and feelings of those lost. We will not forget. Ab.

11/3 Ab,

Awesome.. so awesome.



11/3 In light of the recent tragedy I wanted to express my sincere condolences to the families of the men who lost their lives, to their co-workers, and to their friends. I think I speak for many who have been at a loss of words. This tragedy has taken it's toll on many people in the fire world and beyond. My thoughts and prayers are with all involved.

I wanted to thank those who have been working to find the arsonist who started this devastating fire. Many folks worked hard, long hours. WE THANK YOU. Also, a very big thank you to Vicki Minor, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and Casey Judd, and those that made the trip to comfort Pablo while he was fighting for his life. This is how we, the FIRE COMMUNITY, support each other. Let us never forget....... Godspeed my brothers

11/3 SoCal Capt,

There are "rumors" that Raymond Lee Oyler has been a subject of interest all year. Just not enough emphasis and focus from state, local, and federal investigative agencies. That <snip>head was someone who was problematic and a nuisance fire starter from everything I have heard.

They never released that we had some a-h serial arsonist in the area that could cause damage. and folks should be on the look out. Riverside County Fire Department never said... these are arson fires.... we know what caused them... Instead, they publicized many of them as "suspicious". RCoFD initially talked and publicized what was happening, and then went moot as the fires continued from June thru October.

I am so grief stricken..... maybe some action to just detain and interview this a-h would have prevented the loss of my friends....

Did it take a $500,000 plus reward to apprehend him and get the public looking?

A-h was a known hazard on parole.

Maybe if OIG wants to assign some sort of blame or provide lessons learned, they should concentrate on Mr. Oyler and how he screwed up the lives of so many families, friends, and co-workers.

Sorry, data dump... I want to blame fire investigators for not stopping this BS when it started back in May... they aren't to blame. but they are an easy target.. they also were caught in the bureaucratic process. I am just so happy they have cornered this a-h. Some small step toward justice taking its course adds to my recovery.

Sorry for venting on others Ab. The arson investigators really did an awesome job. I am in so much pain over these deaths.


CC, there's not much I can say -but hang in there. In hindsight it always seems things should have gone faster or something should have been done differently to change the outcome. Our friends are dead. It is what it is, not just a bad dream.

CC, thanks for your kudos to the arson investigators. They deserve our kudos and high fives. Thanks CDF and FS. Thanks for the backup FBI and ATF. Ab.

11/3 Thanks Casey...

Awesome work that you and others are doing to protect all of us post Cramer.

Any chance of changing the name from Legal Defense Fund to Legal Assistance Fund?

I know it is semantics... but sometimes just a few small changes in wording is priceless and protects the innocent.

SoCal Groundpounder

Thanks for attention to perceptions in naming. Ab.

11/3 Casey

BINGO!!! Well said.

11/3 Ab,

Just for update, the planned freeway closure near Devore Pavilion for this weekend has been canceled in respect for the Memorial......Thank you Caltrans.


BDF Brothers and Sisters,.... Love, thoughts, and prayers to you all! miss you! See you Sunday.

God speed 57...


Thanks for the link. A number of people expressed concern about that. Chuck on the IIMT assured me that they were working with Cal Trans to work that out. Ab.

11/3 52 Walk

Hey Sandy, and Eldo IHC,
I have copied and pasted the e-mail you sent out on
the site to all major news outlets in the Sacto
area... hopefully they will respond.


11/3 Re Reward Money

SoCal Capt asked:

The paper is saying that the arsonist was initially apprehended
during a routine traffic stop. If so, nobody would be able to
claim the reward money?

I wonder if everyone who was contributing reward money
would then consider donating it to the families?

The reward money is going to help the people who lost their homes in the
fire. This was stated during the press conference today in Riverside.

Signed - No one special

11/3 Re Reward Money

I think it would be wonderful if the reward money was donated to the Wildland Firefighters Foundation. How wonderful it would be to know that it wouldn't be a struggle from summer to summer for Vicki to help out the families when it is needed most. This year had to be a HUGE drain on their finances with all the fatalities and injuries that occurred and I know it would give Vicki a peace of mind to know that she would never have to tell a family "I'm sorry that we can't help you out. We just don't have the funds."

I thought about going down south for the memorial service, but quite frankly, I have found myself overwhelmed by this whole thing. Please know that my thoughts and prayers will be with all of you down there.


11/3 Bud

I have a question for you concerning the investigation. If you were involved in a burnover or a fatality would you be running around asking for lessons learned and the facts of what happened or would you be more likely to be thinking about your career and what could happen to you? I think you would be concerned with your career and not becoming a scapegoat. It is still early in the process and we will know what happened (somewhat) later down the line.

So don't think that the burnover and the lessons we learn will be secondary, but right now we need to be concerned with our fellow firefighters that are going to be put through an investigation. We don't need them to be railroaded by an unfair process.


11/2 Bud,

Please allow me to respond to your post.

I don't know that anyone has expressed as much anger, as they have frustration over the investigative process as a whole since the Hastings-Cantwell bill became law. The legislation and resulting law were relatively mundane.

Yes, it is crystal clear that the legislation and law were an effort by the Washington State congressional delegation to provide some sort of answers or assistance to those families that lost loved-ones on Thirty-Mile. The fact that the Forest Service alone was singled out for such investigations despite the fact that the other four land-management agencies also have wildland firefighters demonstrates the myopic intent of the legislation.

I have spoken at length with staff from both Cantwell & Hastings office and it is also clear that no one anticipated the unintended consequences that have come to the forefront beginning with Cramer.

The frustration is a result of a number of facts:

The OIG of the USDA does not have the expertise in investigating wildland firefighting accidents. The lack of such expertise has led the OIG to rely heavily on the Forest Service' investigation despite the fact that congress' intent of the legislation was to ensure a separate and independent investigation by the OIG.

As a result of a failure to develop sound legal practices in such investigations, the investigative practices to date have created serious implications for employee's constitutional rights under the fifth amendment.

It is simply not common for the OIG of the USDA to be expected to be called upon to conduct a criminal investigation involving a fatality. The facts of the Cramer investigation has left a clear picture in employees' minds that criminal prosecutions will be aggressively considered in every burnover or entrapment fatality. Such an outcome is unlike any other in the federal government.

Thus the "covering of one's rump" is nothing more than a reaction to the facts of the Cramer investigation and the uncertainty of what the investigative process will be.

It is sad if anyone assumes people are seeking legal assistance or "covering their rumps" because of wrong-doing on the Esperanza. The wrong-doing was the arson...that's it.

I hope I don't get in trouble for quoting the following which is copyrighted, but it is extremely important to respond to your post.

According to the defense team from the Cramer, they quote:

"It is our experience that the actions or inactions of those employees directly involved in such fires are scrutinized with a magnifying glass and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, notwithstanding that fire management decisions are often made in a compressed time frame and only with the information then available. Applying that level of scrutiny to the inexactness of the 10 Standing Firefighting Orders and the discretionary nature of mitigating the 18 Watchout Situations in a political environment that demands accountability, it is hard for us to imagine that anyone directly involved in a burnover or entrapment fatality will not face some allegation of negligence or wrongdoing."

The fact of what happened to Engine 57 is that they got burned over and they all died. This was the result of an arson fire. Those are the facts.

While those around the accident site have every right to "cover their rumps", there is no doubt in my mind that they too want to know... and learn from, the dynamics that caused the crew to be burned over.

As wildland firefighters know, you can plug as many what-if scenarios you want and as many standing orders as you can into any fire assignment. The bottom line is you are dealing with a force that in many instances, even the seasoned experts can't predict. You can do your best, given the circumstances at the time. You can even plan for a number of eventualities. But let's face it...S*%# is gonna happen in a blink of an eye and no number of years of firefighting, no number of standing orders etc., etc., is going to save you.

There should be no need for any firefighter to have to secure, let alone pay for liability insurance. The greatest peace of mind would be to know that your Agency is going to back you 100%... OK, better get the insurance!

The questions you posed about safety practices, having a plan and did we do our best are certainly valid. But do they have to be asked and the answers scrutinized while firefighters are still grieving for the loss of their friends and co-workers? While they are still in shock? I personally think not. For crying out loud, why couldn't the Forest Service allow the dead to be buried, memorialized and remembered before sending in the assault team?

The goal of the investigations should be to learn from the incident, not place blame. Sadly, perhaps I am a realist and can't envision a world in which everyone comes home alive each time. You know that firefighting is an inherently dangerous profession. In my opinion, wildland firefighting is the most dynamic, unpredictable and scary firefighting I've ever done. We can learn a thousand lessons from each fire, but if Mother Nature wants to, she can change any predictable behavior in a split second and quite candidly, there won't be time to flip through the "lessons learned" handbook.

If you go to work in this profession and do the best you can given the circumstances presented to you, then your employer ought to back you up 100%. There should be no need for liability insurance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

11/2 Please pass on through all of your mailing lists ASAP. Thanks...

To all Forest Service employees and others interested,

The recent event on the Esperanza Fire has affected us all. The families
of our brothers from San Bernardino Engine 57 who lost their lives are in
our thoughts and prayers. With this event, and all other tragic events
this fire season, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation has been there for
each and every time. The Eldorado Interagency Hotshot Crew feels it is
our duty to now try to give back. We are in the planning phase to
organize a fundraiser to help support the Foundation.

Our Mission: A 52 mile walk in Sacramento, California, in support of
the 52 club that the Foundation hosts.
We are inspired by Ken Perry and
his run to support the 52 club. As of now, our walk will be on the American
River Parkway, from Discovery Park to Folsom Dam, and back. Our tentative
date is December 9th, 2006, rain or shine. Through sponsors, donations,
and pledges, we plan to raise as much money as possible to give to the
Foundation that supports our injured and fallen brothers and sisters in
the fire community.
The Foundation assisted us this season when we went
through our own event on the New York Peak Fire in which we had 6 injured

What we need: An event like this will take some work and we need your
help. We need to get this message to as many people as possible. We
are excited about this opportunity to give back to our community, get the
public, media, and other agencies involved, and most of all, support our
fellow firefighters and their families that need our help. If you are
interested, please respond ASAP via email or phone at the contacts below.
If you are unfamiliar with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, please
visit their website by clicking on the link.

Our organization is being established, and grows every day. We can’t wait
to hear from you and have you participate in this day with us. Thank you
in advance, and we will get back to you soon with more details. Visit our
website at www.eldoradohotshots.org for more details and updates.


Eldorado Hotshots
11/2 Just sitting here reading the news tonight.

The paper is saying that the arsonist was initially apprehended
during a routine traffic stop. If so, nobody would be able to
claim the reward money?

I wonder if everyone who was contributing reward money
would then consider donating it to the families?

SoCal Capt

11/2 Has anybody ever heard of using Fourier transform
spectroscopy on the plumes of wildland fires? They use
it on volcanoes for remote sensing of gases,
particulates, and water vapor. The idea is that
changes in any of the above could predictively
correlate to changes in eruption behavior. Has this
ever been tried looking at wildland fire plumes in
terms of predicting changes in fire behavior? It seems
to me that changes in the ratios of
CO2:CO:H2O:particulates should change shortly in
advance of change in fire behavior. Has this been

Nerd on the Fireline

11/2 Ab,

The USDA website is pretty hard to navigate but I found the link to two
reports: the Contract Crew audit (March 2006) and Firefighter Safety
(September 2004) www.usda.gov/oig/rptsauditsfs.php

At the heart of all this, through the tears, and anger, we all want to know
how to prevent the loss of colleagues . We're putting a lot of energy into
being angry and being armchair lawyers regarding the OIG - who is doing
what they were directed to do by Congress because Congress decided to have
an independent look at the facts behind firefighter fatalities. Casey
posted the text of the law - no where does it say criminal charges will be
filed as a result of the OIG investigation. The US Attorney is the one who
made the decision to file charges re: Cramer. Are people so worried
about covering their rumps that finding out the facts of what happened to
Engine 57 is secondary?

"Due caution" - did we follow our safety practices, did we have a plan, and
did we do our best? $400/year for liability insurance is a small price to
pay if it makes brings more peace of mind.

But most of all what can we find out from this terrible event so we can
bring everyone home alive each time.

11/2 A conversation in Chat last night got an idea lodged
in my head. I've been thinking about real-time remote
sensing and monitoring data, provided directly to
crews via PDA or similar, and how to translate the
data into fire behavior. Yactak, you mentioned an
instrument package...would you mind sending me more
info, via Ab? (If it's not too much trouble, Ab).
Let's honor our departed by making sure this NEVER

Nerd on the Fireline

11/2 In addition to the firefighters I feel so bad for the family of this
arsonist - I am sure they had no clue that their father, son, husband
was this sick in the head. This guy gets off on setting fires, and now
it looks like he is guilty of 5 capitol felony murders.

It seems like there are more and more dates to remember, with more
and more names added every year.

Be safe all - eric
11/2 Dear AB,

I wanted to share a little love story with you all…
Jason who we lost last week left behind a wonderful sweet girlfriend named Staci.
I met her on Tuesday, she showed me a quilt she had made for him and a scrapbook full of pictures.
As I looked thought the album, I could see the love in Jason's eyes for his sweet Staci.
I think those two packed more in the time they were together than most of us do in a life time.
Jason had picked out a beautiful engagement ring for Staci and was paying on it.
This evening Staci's dad will be giving her Jason's ring... tied to a rose.

I believe that is the best money the 52 CLUB has ever spent…

Vicki Minor

Jason would have loved this. We will not forget. Thanks, Vicki. Ab.

11/2 Final Call for Special Sessions, Oral and Poster Papers for the 2nd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference to be held at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Destin, Florida, March 26-30, 2007. The Conference is hosted by the International Association of Wildland Fire and the National Wildfire Coordinating Group - Fire Environment Working Team.

The theme of the Conference is “The Fire Environment – Innovations, Management, and Policy.” It will provide attendees with the latest innovations in wildland fire management practices – success stories as well as lessons learned, collaboration opportunities, cutting edge advances in wildland fire science, current and potential future wildland fire policy.

Major sponsors are the Joint Fire Science Program, NWCG Fire Behavior Committee, Fire Danger Committee, and Fire Weather Committee, National Predictive Services Group, Fire/Air Issues Coordinating Group, National Interagency Fuels Coordinating Group, USFS Washington Office Research, National Weather Service, Florida Division of Forestry and USAF Eglin Air Force Base.

Integrated into this 2007 Conference is the Joint Fire Science Program Annual Primary Investigator Meeting where cutting edge research results will be presented. A full-length track on Wildland Fire Smoke Management will address the latest regulations, challenges, strategies, and tools to assist the fire practitioner and planner.

For additional information please visit: www.emmps.wsu.edu/fire.behavior/. Information will continually change, and you can subscribe to updates from any page linked from the home page.

We invite abstracts for oral and poster papers in any one of the 25 topic areas related to the fire environment. Deadline for submitting oral and poster papers is November 30, 2006. Submitters are asked to identity a topical category for their abstract, which we will use to organize papers into sessions. All abstracts will be reviewed, and notification of acceptance will be made by January 15, 2007. A final agenda will be available on the web by the end of January.

We encourage your participation in the 2nd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference. There is a high degree of interest being expressed in this event from all over the world.

Please contact Wayne A. Cook, Co-Chair , USFS-RMRS Fire Science Lab, wcook@fs.fed.us or Bret W. Butler, Co-Chair USFS-RMRS Fire Science Lab, bwbutler@fs.fed.us , if you have questions about the Conference.
11/2 File Code: 6500
Date: November 1, 2006
Route To:
Subject: Authority for Forest Service Employees to Attend Memorial Services - Esperanza Fire Tragedy
To: Bernard Weingardt, Regional Forester, Region 5

In response to your 6500 letter dated October 30, 2006, Region Five’s request is approved in accordance with the authority in 5 USC 6328. Appropriated funds may be used to pay travel expenses for selected employees from the Regional Office and national forests to attend the public memorial service, scheduled tentatively for November 5, for the firefighters who perished in the Esperanza Fire tragedy, October 26, 2006. This authorization should not be interpreted as a blanket authority for future incidents; it pertains exclusively to this specific incident and to the service for San Bernardino National Forest’s employees, Mark Loutzenhiser, Jess McLean, Jason McKay, Daniel Hoover-Najera, and Pablo Cerda.

Travel expenses are authorized for selected employees, determined by the Regional Forester, to attend the memorial services. All expenses shall be in accordance with the Federal Travel Regulations and all travel claims shall be kept in official files. Travel shall be financed with the same program funds used for each respective employee’s salary. Use of government-owned vehicles shall be maximized.

If you have questions or need more assistance, contact Doug Shjeflo for WO Human Capital Management matters, (703) 605-0881 or dshjeflo@fs.fed.us; or Gail McCrary for Financial Policy and Analysis matters, (703) 764-9117 or gmccrary@fs.fed.us.

/s/ Dale N. Bosworth

11/2 Ab, found this on suspect Raymond Lee Oyler on the SBC Superior Court web site.
Desert Sun reports:

Riverside County Superior Court records show Oyler has had prior brushes with the justice system, but most were minor traffic-infractions such as speeding and failure to wear a seatbelt.

But San Bernardino County has two more serious charges (I attached an excel sheet I copied/pasted off their site): Possession and auto theft.

You can search their defendant base by name.

Pat Sophy AKA CG
11/2 Ab,

You might want to remind readers about this page about common stress reactions and 12 things to try: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2003_n_before/stress_debrief.php


Thanks K. We do have many goodies in our archives. Readers, this page has excellent points. Thanks Mellie for the page way back when. Ab.

11/2 Re Fallen Brothers and Sisters:

I am an Engine Captain and An Air Support Group Supervisor on a Southern California IMT Team, I just wanted to say that this web site is such a great forum to visit and hear what fire folks have to say and their thoughts, I have been crying a lot inside for what has happened this year with losing lots of friends 2 on Helitanker 790 in Happy Camp N.Cal , 2 on Air Attack 410, I knew Rob Stone and had worked with him recently and a SEAT Managers Daughter Monica on the A-star in Idaho that I worked with at times and now the Esparanza Fire that took 5 more, I have attended Training Classes with Mike,...

There was an Incident debrief today that I could not attend because it has been burning me inside and I don’t feel that some person at this time can make it better Especially with some of the folks the federal government hires Re: POSH Training.

This Site of yours has made me feel somewhat relief by hearing what other folks are feeling and don’t feel so alone, THanks So Much for this site, It means ALOT .....

RN, Engine Capt <snip identifying info>

11/2 The news conference was a gathering of the Sheriff of the Riverside County Sheriff's Dept, Riverside Co District Attorney, CDF Riverside Co, the Forest Supervisor for the San Bernardino NF and a few others.

News coming out of the press conference is that Raymond Lee Oyler of Beaumont has been arrested and charged with 5 counts of first degree murder, 2 with special circumstances (murders committed during arson and multiple murders). He's also charged with 11 counts of arson (including 2 in the Banning Area) and 10 counts of use of an incendiary device in commission of the arsons.

If found guilty, the DA says Oyler can face a sentence of life without parole or the death penalty. Whether the death penalty will be sought will be determined by the DA within 60 days. Included in this decision will be consideration of the deaths of the 5 firefighters and the impact of their deaths on family, friends, loved ones and children.

The CDF Riverside spokesman thanked everyone from state and fed fire investigators to FBI, ATF for the interagency effort. They've been working on this 24-7 most of the summer. He said he was proud of the fire investigators and wanted to thank elected officials who backed them up with the development of the reward.

The San Bernardino Forest Supervisor thanked everyone, said good fact-finding led to the arrest and she expected justice would be served. She said that it's been a difficult time for the FS and for families of the firefighters, that an extensive amount of work has gone into this and that many have been affected. She thinks that this will help bring the closure and the healing needed.

The ATF spokesman offered condolences for the loss of the firefighters and said it was an honor for ATF to play a small part.

Photos of the 5 fallen firefighters were shown at several different times. Their names were spoken.

They will not be forgotten.


11/2 RIVERSIDE, November 2, 2006 - Eyewitness News has learned Raymond Lee Oyler
will be charged in connection with the Esperanza Fire. A news conference
being held now.

The 36-year-old from Beaumont was arrested Tuesday in connection with two
June fires in the Banning Pass area. The Esperanza fire was set shortly
after 1 a.m. on Oct. 26 in Cabazon. The wildfire, fueled by Santa Ana
winds, destroyed 34 homes and charred 40,200 acres - or about 60 square
miles - before being contained Monday night. Investigators interviewed
Oyler on Oct. 27 and served a search warrant on his residence Monday,
according to a Sheriff's Department statement. Four U.S. Forest Service
firefighters died last week as they tried to protect a house from
wind-driven flames in the San Jacinto Mountains. A fifth firefighter, Pablo
Cerda, 23, of Fountain Valley, died Tuesday evening at Arrowhead Regional
Medical Center in Colton. The four other firefighters killed fighting the
fire were the engine captain, Mark Loutzenhiser, 43, of Idyllwild; Jason
McKay, 27, of Apple Valley; Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; and Daniel
Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto

sign JL
11/2 All local news outlets advised of major news conference @ 11:00AM
today regarding Esperanza fire. No further details released as yet.

Riverside County Fire Volunteer

Thanks to others who are bombarding us with the same message. Ab.

11/2 Ab,

People should watch the live Forest Service/Riverside news coverage that
will be carried on CNN, MSNBC and Fox at 1100 hours.

Just called my wife to tape it. Hopefully it will end up on national news tonight.


11/2 Ab,

There were actually two OIG investigation reports of the Cramer Fire. Attached is the OIG Report that dealt with the actions/inactions of FS personnel. This is more in-depth than what was given to Congress.

The other report has not been released - even the investigation number has been redacted. It dealt in more detail with the quality of contract crews, including the one at Cramer that had 17 firefighters including the crew boss who didn't speak English.

vfd cap'n

Thanks for that. Good contractors are policing the language issue within their own ranks; this issue has been corrected by the company. Ab.

11/2 Ken Hale said, "...cooperate in every way possible" with a joint investigation also under way by CDF and the U.S. Forest Service.

CDF friends.... say BS, please. I am sure Ken Hale is looking out for his members, he just needs to understand the brevity and the processes of what happens when OIG steps in.

He obviously never followed what happened on the Cramer Fire when an administrative investigation was fouled up by politics and was turned into something really nasty. Political grandstanding and a witch hunt.

CDF needs to get legal folks on the ball and stop theirs and the Forest Service "joint investigation" until the OIG investigation is completed.

There is a great conflict between the many investigative processes going on right now...... Compelled vs. Non-Compelled Testimony.

OSHA, NIOSH, OIG, and a joint CDF/USDA Forest Service investigation are happening at the same time. Big problems with Compelled vs. Non-Compelled Testimony..... CDF Firefighters take note.

OIG has a record (Cramer Fire) of taking Compelled Testimony obtained through administrative investigations where folks are required to "cooperate" at fear of losing their jobs, and using it against firefighters. Once a statement is made under Administratively Compelled Testimony... OIG can then subpoena the "administrative" info that was "freely" given. (A nasty legal loophole where compelled testimony [CDF-FS] is used in a setting in which non-compelled testimony [OIG] is standard.) It never gives a firefighter the ability to plead their Fifth Amendment Rights or seek legal representation to protect their innocence.

During an OIG investigation, the best thing you can do is seek legal representation and not speak to any investigators until you are properly represented by an attorney.

Ken Hale may have given some of the worst advice ever to CDF firefighters. It is not his fault, he just doesn't know how bad things can get.

signed.... Gizmo (A Fed) worrying about his state Brothers.

There is a rumor floating around that CDF Firefighters has gained an immunity clause from OIG for their firefighters "participating" in the joint investigation? Any truth to that?

Readers, there is no implied slam against any agency in this post. Firefighters are seeking information that will allow legal defense fund lawyers to protect non-CDF and non-liability-insured firefighters from potentially being sucked into a legal vortex in which their constitutional rights are violated. At the same time, fed socal firefighters are concerned that their CDF brothers/sisters and the CDF Union are naive to their own legal risks. Please step above agency and share any info you have. Messages can be copied and pasted and passed behind the scenes and anonymity will be insured.

11/2 First and foremost, my sincere heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the family & friends of Pablo Cerda... Lotzi, Jess, Jason & Dan included. My grief cannot compare to that of family & co-workers. I wish I had the ability to write wise words and help relieve your sorrow.

Secondly, the Eldorado HOTSHOTs - who chose to make a personally painful journey to Southzone in an effort to offer support to folks - should be acknowledged. Kudos! and thank you.

Lastly, and I hate to say this to all Fed FFs, I have this overwhelming urge to YELL: BUY INSURANCE to protect yourselves from liability repercussions should the need arrive.


11/1 To the Families, Friends, and Co-workers of Alandale Engine 57,

My words cannot assuage you of your loss
I would willingly take your pain that it might relent
I only hope that you cherished the time you had with my brothers
I knew them not personally, but we shared a common desire
To serve our families and country, to make a difference in the world
Their job was a labor of love, of the natural world and the lives of those around them

I will come to Glen Helen and stand with you, to remember my fallen brothers
Shed a tear for those lost and those left behind, and hope to soothe the wounds
Not only do I grieve but thousands, if not more, just like me
We loved our brothers and we love you, we are forever connected.

Godspeed Lotzi, Jess, Jason, Daniel and Pablo.

11/1 It was nice to have Tom Harbour on the BDF today. Low key.
Hope he'll get a chance to visit the field if he sticks around.


11/1 CDF union leader to firefighters: Don’t talk to federal investigators of fatal wildfire
Official wants “ground rules” agreed upon before state firefighters cooperate with the USDA investigation of Esperanza blaze
November 1, 2006

A union leader recommended Tuesday that California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighters not participate in an ongoing federal investigation of the fatal Esperanza wildfire being conducted by the USDA's Office of Inspector General, or OIG.

Ken Hale, state rank and file director for CDF Firefighters, called on firefighters to "cooperate in every way possible" with a joint investigation also under way by CDF and the U.S. Forest Service. But until "ground rules" are set with OIG, Hale said he is urging CDF firefighters to not answer the agency's questions or otherwise "interact with" the agency's investigation.

"My main concern is, these are CDF employees I'm talking about," Hale said. "They have specific rights in the state of California. I don't know whether OIG would abrogate those rights." (Go to the site for the rest.)

I think the reporter saw that posted here first and followed up. Good enough. Ab.

11/1 You said it best "bronco" My thoughts thoughts are with you.

Hang in there Bill...... (and everyone else too!)

11/1 The Engine 57 Memorial web site is up - though not entirely operational yet - at www.engine57memorial.org. They are working feverishly on completing the content to provide as much information as possible about the memorial. Right now only the RSVP form is operational but more will be forthcoming very soon. Please use the RSVP form for the memorial so we can begin to estimate the fire community's response - though we expect and hope for a very respectful response.

To BATGRL12, I know you don't want to fill out the log. But, the care and the support that has been provided to the families during this difficult time needs to be documented so it can be duplicated if, (though hopefully never) care like this needs to be given. So many details that you took care of - so many items that you and Larry accomplished need to be remembered so we can all learn and profit from the awesome work you have done. All of the Family Liaisons, the Family Support Group Supervisors, and the personnel in each group are doing a wonderful job - way beyond what was ever hoped for. So, if you aren't gonna do a unit log I hope you are ready to do a brain dump some time to help us get this in writing.

This is the emotionally draining and difficult assignment I have had in 31 seasons.

Thanks for everyone's good work on this. Ab.

11/1 Ab Announcement:

As most of you know, there's going to be a public memorial for Engine 57 this Sunday at the Glen Helen Regional Park; Hyundai Pavilion in Devore. pdf file announcement (small pdf)

Here are a couple of places to watch for developing information on the upcoming memorial. Planners are working on a system to get feedback and, I believe, a "request to participate form" that can be managed on the web.

This site is propagating over the internet now. It comes up on my screen, but may not come up on yours. It will have more information in it soon. The CIIMT1 is working as hard as it can to get this organized.

Esperanza Incident on Inciweb with information on the Memorial Service on Sunday, including maps:

San Bernardino National Forest Website

People have commented on road construction that might create traffic problems. The planners have been working with CalTrans.

11/1 To all interested parties:

As you likely know there are a number of "funds" being set up to help the families of those lost on the Esperanza as well as other causes.

Yesterday I was asked to start setting up a legal assistance fund for those likely to be involved in the investigatory process. The logistical process of doing so through the FWFSA's tax ID number will take a couple of days (we'll get the paperwork done by Sunday since we'll all likely be in BDF).

The Legal Assistance Fund will be separate and distinct from any other FWFSA account. Until the account number is actually assigned, those wishing to make a donation/contribution to this fund can do so to:

P.O. Box 517
Inkom, ID 83245

All those making a contribution/donation will receive a receipt from the FWFSA.

On this same note, the FWFSA has been in contact with the defense team involved in the Cramer Fire as well as a "well seasoned" attorney who is the father of an FMO. Still further we have been in touch with the hierarchy of Senator Feinstein's office on the liability/investigation/constitutionality issues.

A lot of work is going on behind the scenes to protect those firefighters vulnerable to overzealous bureaucrats looking to place blame.

If you have any questions whatsoever, please don't hesitate to call me directly at 208-775-4577 or email me at cjudd@fwfsa.org.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

Many thanks for taking lead on that Casey.

Many, many thanks to those writing in or calling to contact Mellie and others. Our network is becoming stronger. More knowledgeable folks means the effort gets spread around. We have fine resources among family members of fire folks, people in the 180 club and retirees, both fire and non-fire.

Readers, please send in some money for legal assistance to our socal firefighters. I am. Let's cover our guys now, and figure out this crazy system, so we know how all can be be protected in the future. Maybe we can bootstrap ourselves into that learning organization we want to be in spite of bureaucratic blocks.


11/1 Ab,

I don't know if your firefighters know about The Impact Fund.
This is one resource you should look into: www.impactfund.org.
They have lawyers who work pro bono and people who know
how to deal with all kinds of bureaucratic processes like OWCP.

The phone number for general information at the Impact Fund is
510-845-3473, ext 301.

NoNameGiven, but a member of the extended fire family community. Ab.

11/1 I just heard this morning that the fifth member of Engine 57's crew, Pablo Cerda, passed on. I was hoping and praying for a miracle but now he's gone. I can only hope that he is now in a better place. Again, my thoughts and prayers go out to all of the family members and friends of those fallen.


P.S.: I hope that when they catch the person(s) that started this fire that they are tied to a tree and burned just like they burned this valiant crew. Just wishful thinking I guess.
11/1 To all: Does anyone recall the MEL build-up and the difficulties and challenges it presented us with? We (The USFS) found ourselves growing and expanding at a rate greater than our ability to train firefighters, house personnel, maintain quality leadership as an infrastructure and so on.

We asked our Regional and Washington Office leadership to pay close attention to these concerns, provide additional funding for leadership training and equipment in support of the Engine Workforce here in Region – 5 as well as assist in our need to maintain such a large scale build-up by applying future modeling of projected recruitment and personnel needs beyond years one and two.

Does anyone ever wonder why there is a 10 year or greater difference in age and experience levels on Engine 57 or any other Engine in Region-5? While retention, pay and the ability to staff engines becomes more difficult in California, we read these posts that indicate an investigation may attempt to point fingers at our fallen firefighters as if this is the solution to avoid responsibility as to what some of the real break downs and failures really are here in California. Why do we have reduced funding and more 5 day engines than in years past?

Is it because we grew too fast and trained too well only to lose a great deal of our firefighters to better paying municipalities? Check the pay scales one more time and tell me the R.O. and W.O. are looking out for their people here in California. Check the housing costs here and tell us there isn’t a profound impact on the workforce that affects how we as an agency do business in region – 5. Tell me Forestry Techs (What a Joke!) don't do urban interface and structure protection.

I am not saying that higher pay will solve all the problems but I believe it may resolve retention issues that directly and ultimately affect the levels of experience that are present on our fire engines. Our system continues to starve for higher levels of experience amongst our firefighters! Unfortunately those higher levels of experienced employees are thanking the United States Forest Service for their excellent training and, in many cases working for city, county and state fire departments. Not because they wanted the leave the Forest Service, but because they needed to take care of their futures and their families with pay, benefits and retirements that can provide for our high cost of living in California.

National Interagency Serious Accident Investigation Team – If you are looking for a true cause of actions that lead to work place injuries and fatalities, then I suggest that you start with what motivates and stimulates our organization's ability to staff and function under the current Regional and Washington Office perception of California’s readiness and preparedness. Let’s not focus on the ground level actions, let’s focus on how the Regional Office, Washington Office and others support us? We are both screaming and starving for better conditions here in California that will better help us avoid the loss of our friends and co-workers! Can you hear us yet?

I will again be at another funeral service for people I respect and people who will be greatly missed in our firefighting community! I again for the second time in 20 years will be in Maryland for the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service in 2007 to again honor our fallen friends.

I am proud of wearing these green pants for 20 years, but embarrassed that our leaders choose to argue about the obvious issues that continue to plague us. Bill Molnar, I appreciate your post as well as the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the FWFSA. Each of these groups struggles to bring a fair, dignified and meaningful balance to what we do and who we are every year. My esprit de corps remains Green with the U.S. Forest Service and my deepest sympathies go out to us all!

with deepest respects,

Timothy J. Davis, USFS, Engine Captain

11/1 Lets not forget about what happened 40 years ago today on the
Loop Fire on the Angeles National Forest.

11/1 Ab, Not sure if you have seen this or not yet. MB

Ab Note: One of the comments in the message string:
Please remind your folks that its important to partner up on tasks, especially in remote areas.

24 and 72 Hour Reports on the Miami (Sierra NF) Lookout Fatality

Sorry for the loss. Condolences to his partner and other loved ones. Ab.

11/1 Got a call from Gordon King this morning.

He's concerned about all the supporters on this incident. His advice to me and others: You need to make yourself take a break from it. You need to reduce the hypervigilance. He suggested everyone make time for a walk, best where you can feel the breeze, the sun (or rain) on your face, the earth under your feet. Focus on the feelings of the elements; for as long as possible, let the rest blow away.

Gordon, I forgot it was the Loop Fire Anniversary until after we hung up. I will think of you walking while I'm walking, letting it all blow away at least for a time.

Thank you.

The Loop fire occurred 40 years ago today, killing 12 El Cariso Hotshots. A sudden wind shift ignited a spot fire below where they were working, fire raced about 1/3 mi in less than a minute. Ab.

11/1 To the Families of Our Fallen Brothers,
On behalf of our engine crew, we are sending our
Condolences and Prayers to each and everyone of you.
Our Hearts were broken and our spirit pierced when we
had learned of this tragedy. We pray that each and
everyday the memories of your loved ones would give
you strength, perseverance, and endurance to overcome
the brokenness that you all must be feeling. We here,
will always remember and Honor Our Brothers of BDF
Engine 57. Our hearts are with everybody who has
suffered through this. May God be with you all.

LPF Engine 38
11/1 Ab,

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has another way everyone can help support our important mission on a daily basis. It’s called GoodSearch. It is a Yahoo driven search engine where you can direct part of their advertising revenues to a charity of your choice. Go to www.goodsearch.com/ To find the Foundation just put in “Wildland” and verify. It should come up as a choice. Each search generates approximately a penny. That could mean a lot of dough for the foundation at the end of the year. You can even add a toolbar to your browser.

Thanks to Olaf Saul of Wolf Pack Gear for letting us know about this opportunity.

Jim Felix
11/1 Re air support:

Did NTSB report what they think happened with the
Erickson Aircrane crash on the Day fire beginning of oct?


Here: http://ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20061006X01477&key=1

11/1 Tanker 99 crash/ Oct 3, 2003

NTSB Probable Cause


Thanks to the San Bernardino NF firefighters that hiked in to find the
wreckage. Remember everyone, these traumas you experience when
helping others add up. Take care of yourselves.

11/1 From Firescribe:

Man Faces 2 Arson Counts in California

Ab, please add: Don't know if this is the guy...

11/1 First time I met Lotzi.... Mid 1980's.

Last time I got to hang out... at Rock Camp Station on the San Bernardino National Forest in 2006....

For some damn reason, I cannot remember the name of the fire and it really disturbs me.

I felt so good as an Ops Chief to know that Lotzi was coming as one of my division supervisors.... he was one of the most experienced fireline supervisors I have ever known and we were putting him on a critical portion of the line on the fire. He did an excellent job, but I can't remember the name of the fire.

Sorry for not being able to kick down more and explain the details. Lotzi was a friend I have known on fires for over twenty years and somehow I just can't remember more than his face and him sitting in his utility vehicle.

The 1987 "Dollywood" trip that both VG and DR took.... is priceless in my memory slides. Remember something about El Cariso HS getting booted from the hotel because "they threw" a newbie out the window... literally.

VG and DR started the trip on the same plane and returned home on the same plane. So many stories to tell.

11/1 Ab and the entire firefighting community,

I'm sure you have all heard by now that we lost another bother firefighter last night. The fifth member of the forest service fire engine crew that was burned over last week has passed. This death now makes this the deadliest fire since Storm King 12 years ago. We must remember these brave men. This incident hits really close to home for me since three years ago I was a member of a forest service engine crew in southern California. For all I know, I may have chatted with one of these firefighters while waiting in line for chow or supplies. I worked with many many crews over my six years in the forest service. Now that the fire is out our efforts must switch from suppression, to investigation and reflection. Its strange that not one month ago I stood at the base of Storm King and marveled at what must have happen there. I walked very slowly around the memorial and paid tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. As I toured the memorial I wished that there were never another fire as bad as this one, and now here we are....Our job will never be easy. It will never be totally 100% safe. But we must learn from what has happed here. We leaned a lot from all of these tragic fires, Storm King, Thirtymile, Mann Gulch and now a new name will be listed among the tragic fires list, and 5 names will be added to a memorial wall.

To close this letter I would like everyone to at some point in their busy day to stop and reflect, Just for a second stop what ever you are doing and think about you loved ones and the loved ones of those that were lost this past week. They died doing the job that we all love and are trained for. We will take lessons from this incident and we will remember the lost as heroes. Their sacrifice will not be in vain. Take care out there people. The most important thing you can do on a fire is to come home when it is all over. Acres of land grow back, houses are rebuilt and lively hoods are restored. But lives cannot be brought back. If sacrificing one more tree means your crew comes home than so be it. May those that were lost be remembered and the job to continue...

11/1 The services for Jason McKay are as follows:

The visitation will be held on November 02, 2006

Dudley Mortuary
16095 Tuscola Rd, Apple Valley CA 92307,
1800 - 2000.

The service to celebrate his life will be held:

November 03, 2006
10:00 AM

High Desert Church
14545 Hook Blvd
Victorville, CA 92392

All uniformed personnel, engine and hotshot crews, chief officers, need to be at the church by 0900. The family has opened the service to the public, but you all are their priority for seating. The auditorium holds 2500, get the word out, for Bonnie I'd like to have a butt in every seat.

After the service, there will be a procession from the church to the reception which the family is holding to honor you. Please stop by even if it is only for a minute. The family feels your prayers and now they need to see and touch you as you are part of the family now and forever. They are a family of stories, if you have one or a fond memory of Jason or you just want to tell them how you are feeling, put it on paper and bring with you to the reception. We'll have a box set aside to receive them.

It has been an honor to serve with Larry Busby as their Family Liaisons, Jason started his career with the Forest Service on the Mojave Crew. I don't know if I could ever do this again, it is emotionally and physically draining but it is truly fulfilling and has touched my whole being in a way that I cannot explain. Everything has to be perfect for them, it just has to be. The experiences with the McKay family, from making the notification and dealing with the death of Jason to laughing so hard you wished you had a Depends Undergarment on, I wouldn't change it for the world. I just want to hug each and every one of my firefighters, to comfort them also and let them know that everything is going to be okay. Randy, thanks for answering the phone. You're my rock right now.

The family would like to thank those who made it possible for them to visit the accident site. Jason's mother could not thank me enough. Ron and Michelle, Thank you so much.

To my team behind the scene, I cannot apologize for wanting things to be perfect, but I do apologize for those moments where my DIVAness took the best of me. I promise to sit down and help with the IAP (even if I think it's stupid) without huffing and rolling my eyes. I hope that I was dreaming, but to the person that told me to fill out a daily unit log and I said to kiss my ass, I am sorry for that -but I still ain't doing it.

Again on behalf of the McKay family, thanks for everything and everyone update your emergency notification card!!!

See you Friday.


11/1 We share your grief and express our condolences to the
families and friends of BDF E-57. Mark Loutzenhiser,
Jess McLean, Jason McKay, Daniel Hoover Najera and
Pablo Cerda are gone from this world, but will not be
forgotten. We continue to offer prayers for peace and
comfort for the families and friends. May God grant
those blessings through the troubling and painful
times ahead. As a fellow citizen, I appreciate their
service to the public. How I wish it weren't

Greg from the Sabine National Forest, Texas
11/1 Saw that we lost our only survivor...Condolences to our brothers and family.


11/1 This summer I had had to seek refuge in a house as the fire made a significant run into a small subdivision. As the fire front hit, it breached the structure and the structure became involved as well. Conditions in the structure degraded within about 10 minutes to the point where the toxic smoke became my major life threat. I carefully exited the house and found conditions outside reasonable enough to get in my vehicle (which amazingly didn’t burn up) and drive out to safety.

That day haunts me and I hope it always will. Over the past two years I have become an avid student and occasional speaker on the subjects of situation awareness, naturalistic decisionmaking and recognition primed decisionmaking, sense-making and HROs, signal detection and the like. I have read with fascination the writings of Kelly Close and “Misery Whip” (in They Said), Karl Weick and Katleen Sutcliff and others. And, in the process of preparing a talk for an upcoming conference on these very subjects, I am stunned and saddened by the news from the Esperanza Fire.

I have come to accept that my forays into organizational and decisionmaking literature are an effort to better understand after 9-11 what someone once terms as the “anatomy of a disaster.” Surely, there must be a view or a perspective or a theoretical model that if only applied could help us avert such tragedies in the future. And, in fact there are such approaches that could indeed help us to perhaps reduce the number of near misses, injuries and fatalities. My late night musings, however, keep coming back to the same conclusion—we operate within a culture where those truly capable of implementing system-wide cultural and behavior shifts (the GS-99s, the politicians, etc) have no interest in doing so unless it serves their own personal agendas. In other OD speak, they are “playing not to lose” and not “playing to win.”

So, at the end of the day (so to speak) we will learn that the firefighters of Engine 57 did some things right and some things wrong, just as I did this summer -- if we were perfect, we wouldn’t have been caught in the first place. It is important however to not equate that view with blame as any system that depends on human perfection to meet it’s goals —whether they be safety or operational in nature— is most certainly a system flawed to the very core. Nevertheless, we all have to be able to own our own s*** otherwise we are no different than those who have the power and authority to perpetuate a culture that prioritizes political and economic values over human health and safety.

So, my encouragement to all of us in the fire community is to be open to learning by other’s actions— good and bad (what’s the saying—“there, but for the grace of god, go I”); let’s not look too quickly at blaming individuals (except, of course, those that started the fire). Rather, we should examine critically a system and culture that has failed miserably to make any marked progress in reducing fire fighter fatalities since 1933. It’s time to accept that blaming individuals or simply chalking it up to physical alignment of fuels, weather and topography has gotten us nowhere.

It scares me that I came very close to “leaving behind” a wonderful spouse and three amazing kids…all to save a house that was built on land that was meant to burn. I believe in our profession; I believe that it is truly one of the finest duties one can perform. But, it is clear that we all have a lot to learn to better protect ourselves and that there must be some fundamental changes in the expectations and support of our profession.


~Archive: October-06
Copyright © 2014 FWI WildlandFire.com - All Rights Reserved. Your source for Wildland Fire News and Wildfire News and Information.