"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
February, 2007

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2/28 Ab,

Anyone know why the InciWeb pages for the Spotted Tail Fire have been taken down? A Google search showed that the Dawes County Complex had been listed as incident "368" -- but clicking the link returns the "no records found" error message.

The peer review has an interesting use of FS Doctrine for non-FS personnel. Seems like convoluted way to explain resources self-dispatching to a new fire start.

vfd cap'n
2/28 Riverside Unit Chief John Hawkins is going to be speaking at the Firehouse Expo in San Diego Thursday March 1, 2007. One of the topics is going to be about the Esperanza Fire.. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak. It is well worth it to have a seat in one of his lectures.

L8R...XTRMFC
2/28 For those in the Dispatch World

Yesterday we lost one of the great ones. Dave Boyd

David Boyd lost his courageous battle with brain cancer Tuesday. He fought a tough fight, but is now at peace. He is soaring like an eagle while flying with the wind. David definitely earned his wings!

A memorial service will be held on Monday, March 5th 11:00 AM at the Christian Community Church in St Ignatius, MT will be celebrating David's life, not death, as this is what he wanted. Hope that you will join in sharing all the wonderful stories and antics that made each of you in remembering David.

This summer David will take his "Final Flight and Jump." David's ashes will be scattered in the wind over the Mission Mountains. Connie, his wife, hoped to have it done after the Memorial service, but the weather is predicting rain or snow - go figure!

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to:
PineHaven Christian Children's Ranch and School
PO Box 940
410 St. Mary's Lake Drive
St. Ignatius, Montana 5985

Web site:
www.caringbridge.org/cb/inputSiteName.do?method=search&siteName=davidboyd

R5 Dispatcher

2/27 Tom Plymale received instructor of the year at the r-5 chiefs conference........ From Text message

OA's apologies for the temp. mis-spelling of Tom's last name. Probably a lesson to be learned regarding those tiny buttons on the palm sized units and/or cut/pasting. OA

2/27 Yet another help wanted ad on the Jobs Page. This one from Firestormers, based in Ontario, OR. OA
2/27 The Wenatchee World reporter who is now covering Ellreese's case called this morning, she said she will be reporting on yesterday's hearing in Ephrata. She was not able to attend the hearing herself, so she can not report until she finds something official. The court will release the information in a few days, she has a call in to the prosecutor to confirm the "rumors". That said, there was a USFS retiree in the court room, here's our unsubstantiated info at this point, if he heard right, it is good news for Ellreese...here's our retirees' report "xxx attended the hearing in Ephrata concerning the possession of drug paraphernalia against Ellreese. The charges were dismissed (stuff wasn't his but belonged to driver of car he was riding in). There was an additional charge filed for missing the first hearing date (Ellreese didn't get court notice in time). This charge was also dismissed."

We're glad this is finally getting behind Ell and we can now fully concentrate on the criminal charges against a Forest Service crew boss. - Thanks, Heather
2/27 HUUFC,

You ask some good questions. Most of us have been puzzled early in our
careers by what seems to be a lack of action, as we wish it would be.
I'd suggest trying to get some training on the fundamental operations of
government. My favorite is a course by the Woods Institute called The
Dynamics of Congress. It is Government 101 and more. Helps employees
understand the role of Congress, and the role of Agency directors in the
implementation of government. Answers many of the questions you ask.

Old Fire Guy

2/27 If you're looking for a book to stick in yer firepack, or just want a good read, Dean O. Talley, a long-time initial attack air tanker pilot has a good one on the market. See the details and links on the Classified Page. We've got one on the way to us and promise to provide our review here when we're done with it. OA.
2/27 Heard a good rumor that all of the alleged marijuana charges against Ellreese were dismissed in court today? Any one got the real inside news?

Aberdeen
2/27 Moondoggie

I have a shift plan from the cedar fire for 10/30-31 and 11/2,
if you need them let Ab know and we'll get them to you.

D

2/27 I am having a real problem with the recently retired USFS Chief Dale Bosworth. He was appointed by President Bush in the Spring of 2001. The 30 Mile Fire fatalities occurred on July 10, 2001 and the indictment of Ellreese Daniels happened last December 2006. Chief Bosworth then retired in January 2007. All of the events happened on Chief Bosworth's watch. Where was he? Why was he silent? Why didn't he stop the criminal case before it started? Why didn't he stay through the sordid legal process? Where was the leadership?

In his interview with the Missoula Independent of Feb. 22, 2007 he states that the USFS had steady budgets for six years but that fire went from about 20%of the total to over 40%, The difference being made up by taking money from all of the other Forest Service programs. Why didn't he fight for an increase in the budget? Where was the leadership?

Chief Bosworth's leadership has infected the Region Foresters as I read their letters in "They Said". One of them will stand behind his employees if they follow all of the rules and a few more that he threw in. Another one says that it just wouldn't be right if the Federal Government both prosecuted and defended in the same case, gee thanks.

It appears to me Chief Bosworth dumped all of the problems on the new Chief Gail Kimbell, I wish her well and hope she can restore leadership to the United States Forest Service.

HUUFC
2/26 Hi - Thought you all might be interested in this.... more info is on http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/ics_competencies.shtm :

ICS All-Hazard Core Competencies
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), working on behalf of the NIMS Integration Center, have identified and compiled the all-hazard core competencies for each ICS position identified in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and in the NWCG Wildland Fire Qualification System Guide (PMS 310-1, April 2006).

This national review is intended to provide an opportunity for comments from all stakeholders prior to inclusion of these competencies in the NIMS National Standard Curriculum Training Guidance and 5-Year NIMS Training Plan.

If you would like to request a comment form to submit comments, please email Tara.Kelly@dhs.gov. However, while a comment form will help assure clarity and consistency, it is not a requirement. You may also submit you comments directly to that email address. Comments must be submitted by March 25, 2007 to be considered.
2/26 Freezing - here's the link for Brian Sharkey's pub on heat stress:

www.fs.fed.us/t-d/php/library_card.php?p_num=9851 2841

Dick Mangan

Ab note: username t-d and password t-d

2/26 RJK your question about Albuquerque Service Center (ASC) and HSQ.

In Region 3 after SOME work to elevate the importance of processing HSQs, ASC now sends weekly updates on the status of those who have sent in HSQs to WCT administrators. It was just short of crisis mode to retain currency for spring testing and expiring WCTs. This should not have been that complicated of a process to have in place.. it did demonstrate how oblivious they were to handle this need.

I hate to spill the beans, but if you like having your seasonals from last fall still not processed for separation and not receiving their annual leave, temp hiring certs processed in terms of months (maybe), or things like Engine upgrades still not completed after being submitted last October or getting different directions up to 4 times (and counting) to submit a PAR request, then you are gonna love this. At this point we are well behind where we should be for hiring fire temps for this fire season. And supervisors at all levels, be prepared to experience what is the largest frustration imaginable. Many HR processes are not being done, no matter how much time you spend chasing them. But that should be expected, since we no longer have HR.

It would be helpful if they were learning from our hardship... ASC full steam ahead. The HSQ is workable, the other HR stuff, not so much.

Signed,

Reconnoiter

2/26 Freezing,

If you spent time searching on the net, you have probably visited these sites. They all have excellent data on heat related medical conditions. The first two are US Army sites. The third one (NCBI) is high-end medical research. If those do not work, the US Marine Corps, US Air Force and NASA sites all have research-based materials on heat stress.

Ron Marley
Shasta College
Feel free to call if you need something. 530-225-4624

http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/heat/#
www.usariem.army.mil/download.php
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

2/25 Kind of a funny thing to be looking for when its snowing most places but I'm looking for some info on heat stress.

There was an article awhile back (2-3 years maybe?) on the long term effects of heat stress and how repeated heat exhaustion / heat stroke impacts firefighters. This was not one of the many articles on hydration & heat stress, it was very specific about how repeated heat stress may impact firefighters over time. I'm pretty sure it was out of MTDC and authored by Dick Mangan or Brian Sharkey, but I could be wrong there. I have been searching for the past 2 weeks with no luck so if someone has a link to it I would appreciate it very much, I'm about googled out.

Thanks

freezing, but dreaming about heat in CA
2/25 Today's Missoulian had a brief article that PAT WILSON had been awarded the
Parachute Industry Association "Member of the Year" award for 2006.

As most of you remember, Pat was SJ Base Manager at Grangeville, and recently
retired as SJ Project Leader at MTDC.

Well Deserved!!

Dick Mangan

Thanks, I posted it on the Awards page. Ab.

2/25 Hi
NO, there are not 3 feet of snow here in Reno. We have had flurries during the
morning but nothing has stuck. There may be icy streets tonight and in the early
morning commute tomorrow, but not the total doom and gloom.

Here's a link to Reno Weather:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov

Here's the link to Nevada road conditions:

http://safetravelusa.com/nv/

And for those of you from R6, here's the California road report:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi

Buckle up! Be Safe! and enjoy yourself at the various Reno meetings!

NVJims

2/25 RE: Reno hazardous wx....

Another *(*&^%$# reason to have winter meetings in San Diego..........
Kinda like we used to...

Old Hotshot
2/25 Gonna be tons of WO FS types in Reno this next week, too.
They're staying at the Peppermill.

Clyde

2/25 Everyone heading to Reno for the Chiefs meeting heads up.
Weather is bad high winds and lots of snow. Chains required
on 80, 70, 50, 89 and most likely 395. Be safe

Brush Boy

Another email: 3+ feet of snow, still coming down. Be safe. WEAR YOUR SEATBELTS!
Yeah, as NVJims says, that's not snow in Reno per se, but snow over the passes. Ab.

2/25 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.
2/25 Kudos to the Missoula Independent. Reporter John Adams did his homework
and fielded excellent questions. Dale Bosworth didn't do too poorly either. I'm
more impressed with him now than when he was running the show. Maybe that's
the nature of the beast.....or I'm just getting feeble & soft.

Old Boot

2/24 The ” US Forest Service Honor Guard” at the Nascar Race in California
Speedway? What a country.

Way to go San Berdo.

One proud Forestry Tech

2/24 Does anyone out there have a copy of the Cedar Fire IAP for the
operational periods October 27-28 and October 29-30, 2003.

Thanks,
Moondoggie

It's for training. Ab.

2/24 Dear Ab,

The family of Ken Castro would like to thank EVERYONE that came to the Memorial Services and Celebration of Life festivities this last Wednesday. The stories were touching, funny, insightful and made us all proud of our brother, son and friend. The support the family has experienced has been overwhelming...thank you! Thank you also to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for their support during this sad time.

Cindy Wood
Ken's sister
Wood's Fire & Emergency Services

2/24 To: IFPM
From: bushman82
Subject: What the#@%$^&*(,

The older ones have have vowed to bow out in 09 due to this policy, for those of us who are threatened with having to complete our task books before 10/1/09 to retain our job/position its time to jump off the train. Our leaders need to know that it will be very difficult to complete this procedure if we can't even get a training class, I was informed that my training was cancelled. R-6 and probably other region might have a problem if we cant even get the training class in before 09, ICT3 trainings is not that easy, our GPRA goals and EYO reports tout that we suppressed 95%? of our fires during IA, with the 30 mile survey results out is this an omen? I'm saving all this for my appeal in Nov of 09.

B82

2/24 Dear Ab,

I just attended the fun-est night of the year for this old gal. The NWSA held its annual
dinner and auction for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

This year was in honor of Arnie Masoner and Doug Coyle who we lost last year. Rick
Dice and Bruce Ferguson made a wonderful, and heartfelt tribute to both Arnie and
Doug. A few tears, a few beers, lots laughs... with over $62,000.00 raised in their
memory. What a tribute to these great guys... It was especially nice to have both their
families there. The event was well attended. Jeff Berend, Bill Boardwell, Ron Hopper,
and many, many more came to help raise money in their honor.

It was an evening I will not soon forget.

Vicki Minor

P.S. On the way home I ran into a few women waiting at the airport, for their firefighters
to come home from Australia. I want to WELCOME ALL OF YOU HOME... and tell
you how proud we are of you, to serve the fire community the way you have as
ambassadors for fire.....

2/24 USFS Chiefs, Old & New

www.missoulanews.com/News/News.asp?no=6316

Mollysboy
2/24 From the Missoulian article, link above. Ab.

Independent: I’ve heard story after story about wildland firefighters spending days or even weeks playing cards in somebody’s backyard protecting a valuable home from a fire that may or may not ever reach that home. Do you think people who build homes in that wildland/urban interface should be able to expect the Forest Service and other land management agencies to protect their homes at taxpayers’ expense?

Bosworth: Well, let me give you my opinion here: I think it takes a significant shift in the public’s view. Because the people do expect when they build a home, and they’ve gotten a permit to build a home, that somehow that home is going to be protected for them at taxpayers’ expense. Also, the way insurance companies operate, they’ll insure it. There’s a whole mess of things that perpetuate that.

My opinion is that that culture has got to change. I think the agency is going to have to move more toward a risk management approach on fire. By that I mean moving the firefighting forces to places where there’s the most value at risk, where there’s the highest potential for fire. In some cases we may not be able to protect the home. And then we’re going to have to help the public to understand that, to do the work that they need to do around their property that will reduce the chance of them losing their home.

So there’s a whole cultural shift that needs to take place that I think is going to take some time to get done.

2/24 Ab,

A few people have mentioned the FS budget reductions and attrition of
employees. Chief Kimbell talked a little about increasing efficiencies at
the WO and ROs. I think this story relates to that.

vfd cap'n

---

Last year, the U.S. Forest Service hired several cannibals to increase its
workforce diversity. During the new employee orientation session, the Human
Resources specialist from Albuquerque said, "You are all part of our team
now."

He added, "Just like it said in the AVUE job listing, you get the usual
federal benefits, overtime and hazard pay. And, during fire season you get
MREs or can go through the chow line at fire camp, but please don't eat any
employees."

The cannibals promised they would not.

A couple months later their supervisor remarked, "You are all working very
hard, and I'm satisfied with your efforts. We have noticed a marked increase
in the whole Agency's performance. However, one of our firefighters has
disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?"

The cannibals all shook their heads, "No."

After the boss had left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others,
"Which one of you idiots ate the firefighter?"

A hand rose hesitantly. "You fool!" the leader raged. "All summer long we've
been eating people from Washington and the regional offices, and no one
noticed anything. But NOOOooo, you morons had to go and eat someone who
actually does something."
2/23 To NPSFYR:

Interesting post. I'm not even quite sure where to begin. The FWFSA is a non-profitt employee association and operates under two financial accounts. A general account and a Political Action Committee (PAC) account. Membership dues fund expenditures that are payed out of the general account i.e. travel, public relations, postal expenses etc. The PAC account makes political contributions to congressional candidates and is funded by personal contributions.

It certainly would make my job a lot easier if we had a large PAC fund and General fund to do some of the things much bigger organizations do. For instance, I'd love to address our issues on a full page of one of the papers that is read by every staff person and member of congress such as Roll Call. However, at about $5000 for a run of two days or so, we simply don't have the resources to do that.

Sure, I suppose it would feel great to be flamboyant and toss out $5000-10000 to a number of candidates but in working the Hill for over 13 years, I really don't see that as being necessary.

Yes, its frustrating to know that there are thousands of federal wildland firefighters out there who have benefitted from the elimination of the OT pay cap and still others who will gain something in their careers by our future sucesses who have not joined. The most important thing is that the membership does continue to grow. In fact we grew about 30% in 2006.

In any business, it costs money to make money. That 30% growth could have cost us even more if it hadn't been for They Said and our current members spreading the word about who we are and what we do. That to me is priceless.

As for fundraising, I'd love to see some grassroots fundraising. Maybe car washes by Hotshot crews, engine companies etc. There is nothing holding anyone back from raising money for the FWFSA general fund. The PAC account is a different animal because contributors must know that they are contributing to a political action fund. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) forms I've got to fill out quarterly are a real pain!! But anyone in the world can make a donation to the FWFSA or FWFSA PAC.

I think the Board of Directors and myself, while mulling over fundraising ideas, simply haven't found the time. If the Agencies didn't have us dealing with so many issues, we might have some time to formulate a game plan. And I think, candidly, I'm shy about appealing for money. We're certainly financially solvent and I'd prefer to work harder and longer to achieve our goals...it means folks in Congress actually understand the issue and are supporting it not because of the $$ we give them but because of who you are and what you do for this country. That means more to me than writing a PAC check for $5 grand. Members of Congress who support us know they aren't going to get rich by supporting us but they sure enjoy our firefighters attending their political functions.

A close relationship on Capitol Hill with staff and a member of Congress is, to me, worth a million bucks. Yes, the complexity of congress precludes any expectations that such relationships will guarantee we reach our goals, but I have seen a marked increase in those interested in what we do and those willing to truly understand the issues.

I hope that offers some insight...AB, your kind words are over the top (I'll give ya a buck in Reno)

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

It better be the winning buck! Ab.

2/23 The following is an excerpt from:

Michael T Rains, Director
Northern Research Station-USDA Forest Service

in a note to Regional Foresters:

" Last week I participated in a brief with our Chief regarding fire control and the 2008 budget. You all have heard me talk about this and my fear of moving toward a single-mission Forest Service."

"...Because of many things that are out of our control (climate change, urban sprawl), fire suppression costs are skyrocketing. To accommodate this escalation within a traditional constrained budget process is not realistic. If we continue on the present course, we will move from a multi-mission agency to a single mission agency (fire control.)"

OK folks, here is the time to educate me and let me know if I'm off base...

If fire preparedness resources dollars (all of them) actually got to the Forests to fund the necessary preparedness resources to meet the intent of the NFP instead of being diverted to pay for non-fire projects, wouldn't having adequate preparedness resources in place mitigate to a large degree the impact of all the other excuses being offered as a cause for suppression cost increases i.e. drought, urban interface, yada yada yada...

That seemed to be the point recently made to Mr. Rey by Congressman Norm Dicks of Washington, so why aren't folks like Mr. Rains not understanding this very basic concept?

Proper preparedness resources in place provide for the best opportunity to keep fires small, less costly and less impacted by all these "out of our control" manifestations. If firefighters and congress understand this, why don't those that are in positions to develop & implement fire policy?

Obviously I'm missing something...

Casey

2/23 Dear AB

Short time lurker but I've really learned alot from the site. Thank you. I don't want to create any hostility but I am curious. I've been in the system for about 6 months with the NPS. I've watched as many fundraisers have been held for the Wildland FF Foundation, especially after the Esperanza fire which obviously is such a worthy cause and they play such a vital role for all of us. But the FWFSA does too and I wonder why I don't see any flurry of fundraising for that group which also serves a vital role for our wildland FF.

Of course the two do different things, and maybe the results of making a donation to the Foundation is easy to see while what the FWFSA does, can take a lot of time to mature. But does the FWFSA do its work just from membership dues? Maybe its something legal or political?

I wanted to share a story that made me think about posting this. Last month I visited family in Maryland and they took me to Washington D.C. where they had set up a visit with my congressional representative from California. It was really cool and impressive. As we talked I told him I was a FF. All he knew was that I was a FF from his district in California but he said, "you must be with the federal wildland fire service association. They're doing an outstanding job educating us as to what you are facing in the field and what needs to get fixed."

I didn't know what to say. I wasn't a member of the FWFSA then. (I certainly am now.) But I thought that California has the CDF and all the municipals departments that I think are part of the International Association of FF yet the congressman didn't mention the IAFF, he mentioned the FWFSA.

So I thought if the Association has that kind of effect in Washington now, what would happen if the thousands of wildland FF out there --who may already be benefiting from the Association's work-- and still many thousands of others --who will benefit-- also joined the Association.

Although I've spoken to Mr. Judd several times in the past couple of months, I didn't ask these questions. Maybe I should have, but it seems to me that dealing with Washington can be very expensive and take alot of time and I'm just wondering why there is such a stampede to help the WF Foundation but not a similar rush to help the FWFSA except for slowly increasing membership.

I hope this doesn't offend anyone. I've joined both the FWFSA and the 52 Club but I was just curious.

Thanks,

NPSFYR

Well said. Good post. We Abs have supported both organizations and believe in the work they're doing for all of us: the WFF to support our wildland firefighters/firefighter families in time of troubles; and FWFSA to support our professional federal wildland firefighters exercising their First Amendment rights and responsibilities.

WFF is supported entirely from contributions, most of them from firefighters and extended firefighter families, across agencies, public, private and volunteer. There have been times in the not so distant past when there wasn't enough $$ in the bank to pay some basic WFF bills. I'm not sharing secrets when I say that the Foundation only very recently has had enough sustained donations to provide its few employees with any kind of health insurance, let alone pay its director, who is also its founder and original Visionary. More and more people have caught and shared the WFF vision, brought their talents and knowledge to bear and persisted with the effort. The WFF is our safety net.

FWFSA is supported entirely by membership dues. As most can imagine, it is incredibly expensive to travel to Washington and everywhere else that Casey needs to travel and to pay for lodging while there. In addition, there's the old saying, "Money is the mother's milk of politics." FWFSA has never had much "Mothers Milk" money. To make up for that they, and especially Casey, have worked longer and harder. His work with FWFSA and firefighters is also his passion. (If you're a FWFSA member that has gone to meetings, you know how little Casey gets paid -- equivalent of some really low GS rating -- and it's only recently that Casey has received extra to put toward health insurance as well.) Some years ago Casey caught the vision of the early FWFSA founders and brings great intelligence, experience, communication skills and awesome professionalism to the FWFSA effort. He's making a real difference for all of us. Sure, let there be a grassroots groundswell for both membership and fundraising for the FWFSA. Casey, what do you think? ...Maybe the pups could ask for donations and set up fundraising events? haw haw Ab.

2/23 MB,

The Regional assessment and Peer Review of the Spotted Trail Fire actions
seem to be right on target...

Hopefully we will see more of those styles of reports and lessons learned
with factual information and individual support for the findings from the
Regional and Washington Offices on the true lessons learned.

NorCal Tom

2/23 Ab,

Just a little heads-up for anyone in the field waiting to be contacted by
Dialogos, the latest consulting firm hired by USFS.

Take a look at the first book on their list of publications: "Who Really
Matters: The Core Group theory of power, privilege, and success"
www.dialogos.com/publications/

You can take read the first chapter of the book here:
www.dialogos.com/publications/WRM-chap1.phpl

Anyone want to take a guess whether the boots on the ground -- except for
the empty ones during a memorial service -- are in the top 10 of the FS Who
Really Matters list?

vfd cap'n
2/23 Here is a link to the subcommittee that will hear the FS budget testimony. http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/about/#members

Phone calls would generally pull more weight than e-mails. Give your questions to them, and make sure they understand what the cuts could mean to public safety, firefighter safety, etc. This is the time to ask questions, not go on a rampage. Obviously this needs to be on your own time, using your own equipment.

Still Out There as an AD
2/23 Re: Chief of the Forest Service to the National Leadership Team comments:

"In addition to our leaders, our employees must be part of designing and implementing these organizational changes. As we move forward with transformation to realign Washington and Regional Offices, and on-going centralization of services in Business Operations, we are requesting nominations from all units for "Change Champions". Change Champions will play significant roles in preparing employees across the agency for changes resulting from these two efforts. The Change Champions enclosure describes these roles and expectations. The due date for nominations is March 6, 2007."

Any nominations for people who want to "Volunteer" for CHANGE CHAMPIONS of a sinking ship? Please share.

After March 6, 2007 (The Reply Due Date).... A Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) will be made to see who was "nominated" and "who" was selected as CHAMPIONS and what the roles and expectations enclosure described as duties. A request will also be made for folks who turned down their personal nominations in disgust for the process and what the goal was.

As the Chief said, "...our employees must be part of designing and implementing these organizational changes."

Any field employees at the Forest or District level involved as CHANGE CHAMPIONS?

noname

2/23 Red Flag Warnings for:

Texas
Georgia
Florida
North Carolina
New Mexico

Fire Weather Watch's for:

Virginia
Tennessee
South Carolina

Watch those winds, monitor the RH.

Weather Nerd
2/23 Sylvia,

I too, got in touch with Brian right after reading his post to see what I could do. I did get his schedule for the run and I am going to try and be there for the first couple of days. He doesn't have a large support team, so it reminds me alot of the first time Ken did his run. I'm looking forward to cheering him on and will pledge $2.00 a mile towards his endeavor. Thanks for spreading the word and just being the wonderful person that you are.

Come on folks, let's get behind him and give Brian all the support we can. I know what these things mean to the families - it lets us know that people care and helps us with healing our spirits. I hope to see some others up at Yreka on April 1st.

Also, good news coming up regarding changes to the helicopter contracts. I'll post more when everything is confirmed.

Lori
2/22 Mellie,

I don't know the answers to your questions, but the FY 2008 budget only funds 67 national IHCs
(per the internal FS document). I don't know what that means to the RHCs that were created by
the National Fire Plan.

In Region 5, we consider RHCs to be IHCs and I also don't know how that will affect program delivery...

With a 13% overall cut in preparedness funding for FY 2008.... there surely will be cuts.

I guess we shouldn't expect any different.... most program areas of the Forest Service are getting
significant budget cuts with the main exceptions of fire suppression and law enforcement....

So much for "Most Efficient Level".........

Gizmo
2/22 In response to the number of Hotshot Crews listed on the national Hotshot Crew webpage, I noticed one glaring omission. There are over 15 crews which meet the qualification standards of an IHC not listed.

I believe this omission is glaring. There are many people who believe this to be overt.

The crews listed are the Hotshot crews which are listed are those which are considered "national shared resources". The list does not represent Forest Service Hotshot crews which have attained the same qualification standard as these crews.

Absent are the Region 5 crews which were added as part of the NFP program. These crews meet the national standard for hotshot crews and are certified to meet the same standards. In fact, the certification standards for Region 5 exceeds the national standard.

We need to give credit to the crews and their leaders who have strived to meet these same standards. The keeper of this website needs to be either 1) admonished or 2) modify the webpage for Hotshots to include all the federal crews meeting the standards.

Absent are crews like Feather River, Trinity, Palomar, and Mill Creek.

Enough is enough. If these crews are not recognized as Hotshots, then those crews referred to as Hotshots need to be referred to as Type I crews and eliminate the term Hotshots from the wildland firefighter vocabulary!

The superintendents have done outstanding jobs meeting the certification requirements. They deserve to be recognized for their dedication and commitment.

Irony
2/22 high-centered in hell and hot water,

I can't even fathom what the Forest Service Chief will say at the budget hearings on February 27th with that long list and explanations of "management efficiencies" that will somehow "make things better"..... I'd bet the acting BLM Director will say similar things... The fact is... watch.... they will say the FY 2008 Budget cuts will be overcome by future "management efficiencies".....

All I know is each time the current leadership of the Forest Service undertakes "management efficiencies" we lose FTE's, reduce productivity and efficiency, reassign budgets, and in the long run.... we fail to function as an agency responsible for the protection of our National Forests in the ways the public expects and deserves.... and the Congress intends.

Anyone heard of A-76? (ie - SERCO)..... Most people who have been displaced by A-76 competitions were transferred to contract administrator positions to oversee the contracts for the work they used to do as a federal employee.... (Effect = Increased Costs and a loss of efficiency)

Anyone heard of the Albuquerque Service Center (ASC).... also known as the Albuquerque "No-Service" Center.... (Effect = Increased Costs and a loss of efficiency)

I have spent most of my adult life working as a Forest Service firefighter and fire manager, and four years of my developmental years (14-18) as a Forest Service Explorer Scout..... I feel really bad about where the Forest Service is going and my thoughts about leaving something I have loved for so long, but folks need to be smart enough to abandon a sinking ship when the "Captain" wants the ship to sink...... Thankfully, some folks are talking to the "Captain" of the ship about avoiding the hazards and changing course..... I know that both the FWFSA and the IAWF are actively talking to the "Captain" of the ship.... but it seems futile sometimes... The Captain is a political appointee who seems to be dead set on the course ahead.........

The Forest Service Chief said,

"Many of you have been contacted by Dialogos, the contractor for our effort to build a Culture of Safety for the 21st Century. This effort will be further discussed at the April NLT meeting. The Foundational Principles Conference concluded last week. We can expect multiple venues for dialog and evaluation of the outcomes from this effort. As these two initiatives move forward, we will decide how best to integrate and manage them in concert with the focus on a Diversity Strategy and Safety Culture. "

Her quote was directed to the "Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Staff"..... I wonder how many folks at the Forest, District, and individual levels were contacted about how their "management efficiencies" were strangling the Forest Service (the employees) and its mission?

Lobotomy

2/22 I read a posting from Brian Janes, a Klamath Hotshot, about his 220 mile run through the Klamath National Forest to raise awareness and funds for the Wildland Firefighters Foundation. Heather's spirit remains in the Klamath (Stanza Fire 2002), so a piece of my heart resides there as well. I immediately wrote to him and asked what I could do to show my love and support. He replied "spread the word!" So, here I am.

O. K. all you folks on the Klamath, and elsewhere in wildland fire land, I know we're all pledged out, but this young man has fire (so to speak) and spunk. And on April 1st to the 6th he's going to be traveling through. So, please, open up your pockets and your hearts. He and the Foundation and the spirits of the Engine 11 crew (Heather, Steve and John), and all wildland firefighters, are counting on you. Join the 52 club, or pledge per mile, or run along with Brian, or just show up along his route and yell. He's doing a good thing, and deserves all the support he can get.

You can contact him at xtremejanes13@ hotmail.com. I plan to be on your cases until the run, so lets see some response.

With love and heart.....Heather's Mom
2/22 Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands: Oversight Hearing on FY 2008 Budget Request for BLM and USFS

February 27, 2007

The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, led by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), will hold an oversight hearing on the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Request for the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (USFS).

Subject:
House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
Oversight Hearing on FY 2008 Budget for the BLM and USFS

When:
Tuesday, February 27, 2007, at 10:00 a.m.

Where:
Room 1334 Longworth House Office Building

Witnesses:
(Invited to testify)

Jim Hughes, Acting Director, Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior
Abigail Kimbell, Chief, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
(May be on C-Span)
2/22 This just fell out of the mail, from Dec 22!

Ab,

I just looked in my mail to find a gorgeous Christmas tree ornament. What a
beautiful way to remember a FF mom at a difficult season. I have no words...
just deep emotions of love and thanks to all of you.

Sarah Larson (Matt Taylor's mom)

2/22 RE: “The Mgt. (WO through NIFC) spin regarding fire qualification retention through
the Thirty Mile / Cramer fiascoes:

One has to wonder… don’t they remember which half-truth and spins they fabricated
yesterday?? Check out the Forest Service ICT3 Assessment Evaluation briefing paper
dated 8/26/04. www.nationalfiretraining.net/ict3/nationalbrief2.pdf

It is available through the National Fire Training website Information page.
www.nationalfiretraining.net/news_info.php

Check out page 2 “Talking Points” first two bullets:

"• Total number of ICT3 identified in the system prior to Feb 04 were reduced in some
areas by as much as 10-15% from red card record updates"

"• 5-10 % of the existing ICT3 prior to February refused/chose not to complete the
new requirement"

So much for the validity and veracity of Rose Davis’s recent press releases regarding
the issue.

yactak
2/22 AB,

I am sending a report on an entrapment of two firefighters this season
in Nebraska. Interesting reading and the fact that the report was done
by peer review is good to see also. Folks need to remember that
interface entrapments don't just happen in CA.

MB

Regional Assessment of the Spotted Trail Incident letter (60 k doc file)
Spotted Trail Peer Review (3,850 k pdf file)

Thanks MB. Ab.

2/22 RJK and others: In reference to getting the HSQs from Alburquerque.

Working for the FS, in R1, all employees including temps as far as I know, no longer use HSQs, we all have to have physicals through CHS (Comprehensive Health Services). Your boss sends you the packet, CHS sets up an appointment, you go, the Dr. sends the info to CHS, who in turn requires you to fill in the blanks with your orthopedist, cardiac specialist etc. After you submit all the info that was not addressed by the doc, they either flag or clear you for the pack test. You then show up as cleared or not in a system administered by CHS (I think this is accurate) and you agency administrator can check your status on a secure website. When you are listed as “cleared” you can take the pack test. I have had mixed results with this, but overall, even though the process is quite convoluted, the customer service people at CHS are great when it comes to getting things turned around quickly. I was cleared within a week of the appointment even with a special trip to my orthopedist!

MTFirefly

2/22 Dear AK F/F:

Regardless of the federal wildland firefighting community's overall opinion of Mr. Rey, by his title alone he is conveyed far too much latitude, authority & respect by Congress...until now.

We worked tirelessly last year to get that point across to Congress by refuting much of what he has testified to in the past. I've taken the message that he is not the person for the job of managing the FS fire program directly to President Bush and a number of folks in Congress. I can tell you that with the change in Congress as of the November elections, there is clear agreement among many that he needs a new window to look out of. Unfortunately, I don't have a magic wand to make that happen soon enough.

I truly believe that Congress will act, or not act on this issue regardless of what Mr. Rey offers up to them as an Agency or Administration position. He is a figurehead whose credibility has been shattered although you likely won't see that on CSPAN. The response from the Agency is too little, too late and any action to fix this mess will be a result of the years long effort by the FWFSA and the increasing voice of firefighters across the country.

That being said, we could all be hopelessly cynical and simply quit trying to fix this mess. Congressman Young, who I had the pleasure of speaking with on several occasions last year and who was a cosponsor on our portal to portal pay is right on in his summation. Congress is an incredibly complex place to navigate. So, do we simply lay down and not try to fix what is broken?

The fact that the issue was offered up by Sen. Domenici is testament to our work with the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. If we hadn't proved there was a serious problem with this issue, the issue would not have been raised. The questions posed to Mr. Rey were a courtesy and likely submitted to him far enough in advance that someone could craft an answer to them for him to recite.

Sen. Wyden's "commentary" to Mr. Rey also illustrated that our voice is being heard. That is why I mentioned in a previous post that the next step, getting Congress to actually act on the concerns is a huge challenge.

But we've had other challenges and been successful. I hope it doesn't take the wholesale dropping of qualifications or not taking assignments to get Congress to act. I am hoping that an atom bomb doesn't need to be dropped to do the work of one highly experienced sniper.

That's why it is imperative that folks like yourself communicate with your elected officials such as Rep. Young and let him know how you feel and what you want him to do about it. Although I get extremely frustrated and irritated at the slow pace of congress whether it be its difficulty in understanding that complex solutions can have simple solutions or actually taking action on something, I'm convinced the federal wildland firefighting community is making a difference and can, and will, effect positive change for all of you.

Mark Rey is already self-destructing. Giving him any more credibility than he has is a waste of our time. Unfortunately he is still a figurehead afforded some semblance of formality in DC. That's changing...hopefully those that can change that situation will have the you-know-whats to do it.

Casey
2/22 Lobotomy,

I was surprised by your recent shellacking of Mollysboy, not so much for the strident tone (which was an anomaly when compared to your prior posts) but because I couldn't disagree more with your assessment (also an anomaly to the majority of your posts).

"Forget political bantering"? "Give up posts that focus on a political agenda..? You're not that naive. In this country, personal and organizational goals are realized by the acquisition and expenditure of political captial. And the watchword is: "The personal is political". A whole sh*%pot of us just spent a lot of time and energy writing our congressional representatives about the 30 mile fire debacle, in an attempt to politicize a process that has been shilled by the investigational lackeys as a legal and administrative "process". I see our actions as the functional arm of any effective movement: the manifestation of collective will to force resolution.

And your comment "concentrate on the facts of the moment, not the past or future goals"? I'm just going to let that one stand by itself, naked, vulnerable, and blushing...

Joe Hill

Lobotomy knows we Abs are against the Democrat vs Republican rhetoric. Firefighters come from both major parties and probably Independent, Green and Buddhist, etc as well. Politics, as in political party preference, is not what this forum is about; lots of other forums for that endless discussion. No need to get crosswise here over politics of that sort. Mollysboy almost oversteps at times, like the little boy with his eye on Dad as he approaches a family-defined "no no". Never fear Lobotomy, if Mollysboy leans too near the boundary again the Abs will let him know. He isn't above swat on the be-hind, behind the scenes of course. HAW HAW Ab.

2/22 It's been interesting to read some of the postings about statements from the NIFC Public Info Person regarding the impacts of the Thirtymile criminal charges, and the potential reduction of firefighters as shown in the IAWF survey. Seems like we are coming to expect the USFS PIO's to spout the "company Line" rather than tell us the truth?

Back in the good old days (read that as the mid-1990s), I worked for a USFS Chief named Jack Ward Thomas. Although JWT had a PhD, he kept his direction to the troops real simple: "Obey the law; take care of the Land; TELL THE TRUTH." Not to hard to understand, and left little room for interpretation!

Now, it seems like the "outfit" is trying to become a part of the Colbert Nation, where "truthiness" is a desired attribute, and the end objective is keeping Mark Rey happy. Misinformation and denying the obvious are part of a new management philosophy and strategy.

Me, I long for the days of old when we had a Chief like Jack and an outfit that I was 100% committed to - - and that is my truth!

Aberdeen
2/22 Casey,

I do not think Congress will act in any way soon enough that will make a difference to wildland firefighters on any of the bullet points Rey pulled out (of somewhere) pertaining to law and the SNAFU surrounding the 30mile indictment and criminalization of fire.

Rey set up the FS for unreasonable expectations with his 3 bullet points and the way he presented them. What good does it do to say in effect "we're interested in these issues"? Well DUH.

What we need to hear is

THESE ARE THE ISSUES: 1, 2, 3, etc
HERE'S WHAT WE WILL DO TO DEAL WITH and ACCOMPLISH 1.
HERE'S WHAT WE WILL DO TO DEAL WITH and ACCOMPLISH 2.
HERE'S WHAT WE WILL DO TO DEAL WITH and ACCOMPLISH 3, etc.

THIS IS THE TIME FRAME WE NEED
TO DEAL WITH 1,
WITH 2, and
WITH 3.

Please know that we probably cannot accomplish these by the beginning of fire season 2007, but we are working on them with everything we've got.

Leadership, clear direction? where is it? Another ineffectual Brownie appointee overseeing the FS and a lawbreaker himself. What has this country come to???

Don Young -congressman at large from our cold but great burnable state of Alaska- some time back got on a rant in a Congressional briefing meeting on fire and fuels. He said words to the effect that

we live in a time when it's going to take a whole town getting burned down before Congress acts.

His rant also included the fact that the media controls perceptions. Seemed pretty extreme at the time, but I am coming to agree with him. Someplace soon in the US we will have another SoCal Firestorm 2003 with inadequate resources and great losses. We will have been shouting the warning from the rooftops... Members of the public will die. Firefighters will die. Expensive and inexpensive houses will burn up. Shame, when you get right down to it...

AK F/F

2/22 Dear Lobotomy:

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me this morning about my post & yours. I didn't take the "offended" comment personally. As I indicated, from the standpoint of a nationwide organization with membership in all ranks and all land-management agencies, I do think it important to encourage folks to take assignments and not drop quals while we try and correct this mess.

That being said, the FWFSA will absolutely stand side by side with those who choose to drop qualifications or reduce their availability for assignments and take other actions they believe the current situation warrants.

I certainly am not naive enough to think that just because the Agency has responded to the issue, we can all drop our guards.

However, when I posted, I had not read the commentary attributed to Ms. Davis from NIFC. I understand a number of folks in the wildland firefighting community respect her and that her comments make it difficult to reconcile those feelings.

In fact I spoke with her several weeks ago and sent her a lengthy letter outlining what the FWFSA is and detailed some of our thoughts on a variety of issues facing our firefighters including classification & portal to portal pay.

If, despite the survey and our information to the Agency leadership two years ago, it wants to stick its head in the sand and take a "wait & see" attitude as the season rapidly approaches, then I agree with you that it may be necessary to pull the Agency's head out of the sand with a significant demonstration of "unavailabilty" amongst those that are considering such options.

We all know this needs to be fundamentally corrected before the 2007 season starts. If it takes such a demonstration to get Congress & the Agency to act, than so be it. We will stand by our members regardless of what decision they make, but in the interim, as an organization, we have to put forth a positive message that your voices have been heard by those in a position to effect change and that they will in fact correct this mess sooner rather than later to avoid what could be an ever more complex season than it already appears we're headed for.

Casey
2/22 Did anyone else notice that the NRP several times mentions that having multiple federal agencies responding can result in a "Incident of National Significance?" Just about any project fire meets this criteria. Could the next Biscuit or Rodeo fire come under FEMA control?

Did anyone else notice that one organization is used to transmit disaster information up (including a regional office structure) and that that organization would then go away and be replaced by a different organization to handle the disaster?

Anyone else have concerns that different events (natural disaster vs. terrorism and a bunch of other situations) result in very different organizations and position names and responsibilities?

It sure looks like the NRP was designed to try to keep everyone happy and has resulted in one of the most confusing, duplicative structures I have ever seen. What's so sad is that the original ICS is so elegant. (This is true even when you include the resource ordering and delivery systems, delegations of authority and the overall bigger picture that NRP tries to address.) When it hasn't worked as well, it has almost always been because of organizations trying to superimpose their day-to-day structure and authority onto it (I.e., the same problem that seems to be guiding the NRP).

Still Out There as an AD
2/22 RoFNGokie Teacher

You posted on 2/18 you were looking for some teaching resources for
the S-130. Below is a link to that may help you out.
www.nationalfiretraining.net/powerpoints.php

Smokedawg
Northeast and just to the right of Maine
2/22 Is anyone else expecting to have trouble with getting WCT questionnaire
(HSQ) approvals from the Albuquerque Service Center? Things are
slow with them. Their priority is finance... getting people paid and hired
and they've gone thru massive downsizing and outsourcing.

So when push comes to shove, will they pass it back to the FMOs?
FMOs don't want that responsibility. There's also an issue of privacy.

Another potential boondoggle?

RJK

2/22 I had to check how many Hotshot crews are listed on the National Hotshot page.

There are

  • 92 total
  • 69 are FS
  • 11 are BLM
  •  8 are BIA
  •  2 are NPS
  •  2 are County (in CA) and State (Ak/UT)

Anyone know how many experienced, long term hotshot supts have retired/left at one time in any of the previous years? Is this more than in the past? Does anyone have records going back 4 or 5 years?

8 not available in 2007 is
9% of all hotshot supts
;
11.5% of FS hotshot supts.

Are there experienced leaders to replace them? If those new supts are pulled from the HS capt ranks, are there experienced squaddies to step up into vacated capt positions?

Mellie

2/22 Ab, post this and firefighters might get a perspective on how overtaxed this agency is with mandates.

/s/ high-centered in hell and hot water.

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

Date: February 22, 2007
Subject: National Initiatives
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Staff

REPLY DUE MARCH 6, 2007

The Forest Service is undertaking a number of major initiatives, all with the aim of intensively reviewing, and in some cases making fundamental changes to the organization and its culture.

These efforts include:

• Organization Transformation: Reviewing the structure and function of regional offices and the Washington Office to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
• Business Operations Transformation: Centralizing budget and finance, and human resource functions, and implementing the new Information Resources Organization.
• Establishing a Safety Culture for the 21st Century: Exploring the agency’s safety culture through an intense review of the agency’s operational norms to address core safety issues that challenge our organization.
• Diversity Initiative: Enhancing our commitment to achieving a more diverse workforce and serving a wider diversity of customers through a focus on mission effectiveness.
• Foundational Principles: Identifying foundational principles that will be critical to building a resilient and adaptive agency for the future.

Managed separately, each of these efforts could have major impacts on employees, on the use of the agency’s resources and time, and on clarity of our overall direction of the Forest Service. Clearly, we do not have the capacity to conduct these efforts without some coordination and prioritization. This was affirmed on the February 13, National Leadership Team (NLT) conference call. In some cases we will be making adjustments to original plans, keeping focus on the goals of each initiative, while reducing the impacts on employees.

These initiatives are far-reaching and represent the potential for significant change in the organization and its operations. As such, each of you as NLT members has a personal role in assuring the success of actions that result from these efforts. We will proceed as follows regarding each initiative:

The organization transformation efforts (both WO/RO restructuring and Business Operations transformation) will require us to clearly build understanding, acceptance and support among our employees agency wide. In addition to our leaders, our employees must be part of designing and implementing these organizational changes. As we move forward with transformation to realign Washington and Regional Offices, and on-going centralization of services in Business Operations, we are requesting nominations from all units for “Change Champions”. Change Champions will play significant roles in preparing employees across the agency for changes resulting from these two efforts. The Change Champions enclosure describes these roles and expectations. The due date for nominations is March 6, 2007.

Plans are underway to implement a new Diversity Strategy as discussed with the NLT on several occasions. We will have a meeting of the “Diversity Ambassadors” in late February with specific focus on improving diversity through a focus on mission effectiveness. This will be discussed in a separate letter. We will work with our contractor, the Kaleidoscope Group to provide additional services with units that request these services.

Many of you have been contacted by Dialogos, the contractor for our effort to build a Culture of Safety for the 21st Century. This effort will be further discussed at the April NLT meeting. The Foundational Principles Conference concluded last week. We can expect multiple venues for dialog and evaluation of the outcomes from this effort. As these two initiatives move forward, we will decide how best to integrate and manage them in concert with the focus on a Diversity Strategy and Safety Culture.

I appreciate your support in managing these initiatives collectively towards a common vision.

Abigail R. Kimbell, Chief

2/22 Wow!

Just got a call from Vicki in the Reno airport heading home.
The NWSA auction raised $62,000 for the Foundation.
Nice job, Private Sector!

Firenwater, the picture you donated brought in $1,000!

Sounds like everyone had a really fun time.

Mellie

2/22 i'm being stationed in Waubay SD and i'm trying to find out if anyone else is going
to be stationed there or has been and if you can give me any important info.

thanks a lot i appreciate it, my email is thedudeinwranglers @yahoo.com

thanks again guys

If anyone has info for a new person fighting fire in this part of the country, please email him directly or send a reply via me. Ab.

2/22 Eight of our most seasoned hotshot supts will not be available in 2007.
They are leaving or have left.

EMBO

2/22 Ab,

Someone could FOIA the resource order data from last year, including Unable to
Fill (UTFs) and when ordered/unfilled. My guess is this data would indicate
definitively the decrease in fire resources at least in terms of last year. Casey
also has a lot of the nuts-and-bolts data on who is leaving.

I heard that CA might have one fewer IMT this season due to declining participation.
I hope that's not true.

Tahoe Terrie

2/22 Mollysboy,

You said, "Remember, we're the one's that brought you "Wildland Firefighters for Tester" and shifted the balance of power so that the Democrats control the Senate!!"

Forget political bantering or gloating... It is offensive to most people who look at wildland firefighter safety as something greater than political goals or agendas.

Mollysboy... concentrate on the facts of the moment... not the past or the future goals... The future desired condition.

Partisan BS confuses people, divides thoughts, and keeps folks from communicating with friends with differing opinions even though they may be on the same page with their ultimate goals and aspirations....

MB, Give up the posts and comments that focus on a political agenda and focus on the facts as you have done so well in the past to present..... We have similar goals with out posts...

Lobotomy
2/22 For those interested in deciphering FEMA speak, FEMA has a publication
called the FAAT book. It stands for FEMA Acronyms, Abbreviations and Terms.
It came out in March of 2005. It can be obtained by calling FEMA direct at
FEMA Publications (800) 480-2520 or can be down loaded from the web at
www.fema.gov/plan/prepare/faat.shtm. It's a necessary item to have in your
kit when you go to a FEMA assignment.

Signed: BM
2/22 From DownUnda:

Abs,

TAG - YOU'RE IT!!

OB
(enjoying some rain, albeit coastal...)

www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200702/s1853673.php

El Nino declared over

The Bureau of Meteorology has declared the drought-causing El Nino weather phenomenon has passed after influencing Australia's climate for more than a year.

The bureau says it is time to be optimistic about drought-breaking rains, although the drought is far from over.

In a statement, it says all the main indicators show neutral conditions have returned to the Pacific Basin.

"Along the equator, sea-surface temperatures are cooling rapidly and have been below their El Nino thresholds for about a month now," the statement said.

But the bureau's senior climatologist, Grant Beard, says it may not mean heavy rain is on the way.

"Unfortunately, El Nino is not an on-off switch, so just because the El Nino has finished in terms of its broad-scale indicators, it doesn't mean that imminent widespread rain is about to occur to break the drought," Mr Beard said.

"In fact, a lot of the areas through the south and east of the country, in terms of water supplies, are so far behind that only several years of healthy falls will replenish those supplies to something that is considered satisfactory."

But he says rain is now more likely.

"It provides optimism - cautious optimism, I would say - for a return to more normal rainfall pattern in the drought-affected areas during the next one to two seasons," he said.

Mr Beard says the rain would likely fall over Australia's eastern half and in areas in the country's south-west.

The climatologist says early signs have emerged of an imminent La Nina cycle, which would bring more rain.

"We think that the chance of a La Nina developing this year is probably higher than the long-term level of chance, which is about one in five, or 20 per cent," he said.

"La Ninas are usually associated with above-average rainfall over fairly large areas of the continent, particularly the eastern half of the country.

"But in terms of the long-term water supply issue, it's really impossible to say.

"Several years of above-average falls are really needed."

Glad you're getting some rain, OB. Ab.

2/22 Incredulously Amazed.

While I usually agree and applaud what Casey Judd and the members of the FWFSA say, I take offense this time.

The response by Rose Davis at the behest of the new Forest Service Chief and Mark Rey when addressing the issue at hand seems to belittle the survey done by the IAWF... and belittles the members of the entire wildland fire community who have contributed to the important data and communication process.

Without a show of force that verifies the data that the IAWF and FWFSA has been supporting and presenting, it will not be heard factually by the Congress, the Agency, and by the American voter... or the "leaders" of the wildland fire program.

While Rose is a good friend on issues to the wildland fire community.... She has to do the work her bosses say she has to......

Wildland firefighters have to follow their conscience and speak out.....

Lobotomy
2/22 Incredulously Amazed & Ron Marley,

Both of you expressed surprise at the fact that those in information at NIFC express denial towards the results of the survey. And I expect that there are others out there who feel the same. However, take it from someone who has spent time both working with, in classes from, and co-teaching IOF courses (Information Officer). Even though the Abs may say that Rose is a great person, and that the staff there is only working in support of our common goal, I would tend to say that we are instead dealing with someone and a group that is voicing what they are allowed and told to voice. They are saying what is approved by someone else. Anyone can very easily see what we are seeing, but not everyone will be honest or gutsy enough to publicly speak the truth. I know for a fact, first-hand that this issue has been discussed at her specific level and that she has been made aware of how many of us frontliners feel and what many of us (myself included) have decided to do.

But please don't count on these folks to publicly recognize trends which are actually occurring. Could you imagine the WO instructing her to deliver that message to the media??

Just as baffled, but not surprised!

Baffled/Not Surprised, sorry to jump on your space here. As far as I know we Abs have not offered blanket endorsements of any person that precludes professional accountability. Some things are talking points. Some things are absolutely misleading if not completely untrue.

That article said:

Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said a nationwide system that logs firefighters' availability has not seen an appreciable decline. Each year, firefighters are issued "red cards" that indicate their level of training.

"So far, we have not seen a decline in number of folks participating in incident management teams. We haven't seen an increase of applicants turning in their red cards," she said.

What kind of comment is this? Rose knows that redcard information is not yet in for 2007 and won't be for some time. Heck, in R5 both hiring and hoops we must jump through for the WCT approvals (that have to go thru ABQ) means -- not only do we not have redcard info yet for 2007 -- we may not even have fire forces ready and redcarded if we have an early fire season in socal.

It amazes me that our wildland fire community's IAWF survey is discounted by WO and talking heads that know better like Rose. This is the first survey of wildland firefighters done since South Canyon. The powers that be better pay attention to what it's saying.

At least stop spreading falsehoods, Rose, even if your bosses say you must spin it.

Ab.

2/22 For anybody out there that knows Earl Clettus Mcdonnell of the Los Padres,
he has retired!!! There will be a party for him 24 MAR 07. Please call LPF
Santa Lucia Dist. for more info or to RSVP 805-925-9538

Louis J. De La Rosa
Los Padres National Forest
2/21 I know this is a bit belated but I've been under the weather lately. On behalf of the Board of Directors & Members of the FWFSA, I'd like to extend our sincerest thanks to Chuck, Bill & Dick (and others) at the IAWF for the incredible job they did on the on-line survey in such a short period of time. The findings validate the concerns we raised to the Agency and Congress in 2005.

Despite the obvious concerns of our firefighters illustrated in the survey results, as a professional organization representing our Nation's federal wildland firefighters, it is incumbent upon the FWFSA and others to encourage our firefighters to retain their qualifications and take assignments this season as we work to correct the precedent-setting injustice of criminal prosecution.

Just a week or so ago, the issue of liability took center stage in the US Senate which resulted in an official, on-the-record response from the Administration and the Agency as to their concerns and recommendations. Never mind the fact that the concerns and recommendations were those offered to them 2 1/2 years ago by the FWFSA and which were summarily ignored then. As I've stated previously, the voice of the wildland firefighting community is what got the issue before the Senate and a response from the Agency.

Now the work truly begins. Its difficult to get Congress to address an issue... it is even more difficult to get it to take the next step and affect positive change once they understand the issue. Therefore, while all of you prepare for the upcoming season, your voice must remain loud & clear and it must be taken directly to those elected officials that are in a position to correct this mess.

Now is not the time to concern yourselves with reprisal or retribution for speaking your mind. Within the Agency & Congress... you have the floor! In fact I have been contacted in recent weeks by regional & WO leadership who appear eager to work collectively on your behalf now that they have heard your tremendous voice.

It may be a difficult thing to do in today's uncertain environment, but I hope that as many of us work everyday to correct this and other serious issues facing our firefighters at the highest levels of Government, those of you pondering your qualifications and use thereof this coming season, will place just a bit of confidence & faith in us to accomplish these goals to your advantage.

Respectfully,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/21 In spite of the IAWF survey, some of the Public Info people at NIFC still
seem to be in a state of denial:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_WST_Wildfire_Bosses.phpl

Incredulously Amazed

2/21 SoCal firewatch -

"The Last Best Place" will await Mark Rey's best buddy from California with open arms, and a very knowledgeable environmental community that has a long record of slamming in Court the "cut and run" timber beasts that don't give a damn about our (yours and mine - the Public's) land and natural resources. Mr. Tidwell will be watched closely and called up short if he tries to force thru the current Administration's policies like selling off public lands or marking timber for harvest in the name of fuels reduction before the Environmental Assessment is even completed. Coupled with a large percent of our population (less than 1,000,000) that have been, or have close ties to, wildland firefighters, fire is an ever-present part of our lives (when it's not snowing!), and we watch out for our own.

Remember, we're the one's that brought you "Wildland Firefighters for Tester" and shifted the balance of power so that the Democrats control the Senate!!

Send Mr. Tidwell off with a fond "adieu" and give him some woolies for a going-away gift!

Mollysboy

2/21 Katrina, NIMS, & ICS

Bushman82;

Sounds familiar; staff infighting or not knowing what's going on, plans changing hourly (of more often), noone/everyone in charge, etc.

My crew went to SE Louisiana in early October; by January, we had discovered that there was no Supply or Logistics Section that we could find for the local Parish, hence, no drinking water, food, or household supplies for the civilian populace. The Liaison/Coordinator, at one point, wanted me to transport my crew to New Orleans (55 miles, one way) for feeding; said it wasn't that big a deal, as we could take bag lunches at breakfast time, and just come back by 1700 for supper, so we only had to make 2 round trips a day. I asked when we were supposed to get some work done; was told not to worry, we'd be getting paid for travel time. I'd asked for a couple cases of MREs, and this was the plan...

The only consistent thread about "The Plan" seemed to be that, every 2 weeks, we had a new Team running things, and they rarely had been briefed by the Section Officers they were replacing... at least once, all Finance records left with the outgoing Team.

When FEMA polled the State, and Parish Fire overhead for needs, Parish heard about it after the fact, leaving them with 2 intact fire stations, out of (about) 10. FEMA was left with the impression that Louisiana had no needs for fire equipment, or fire services...

The one shining moment of the experience, was dealing with the Deputy Director of the NFA (serving as Fire/EMS Coordinator); unfortunately, he was sent home after the 2 weeks. Therefore, everything he was able to begin for our service area, died off with his term of service.

Around the middle of April, I was touring yet another FEC around the 2 Fire Districts we serviced, for a quick familiarization & risk/hazard analysis. About halfway through, he said (4th guy to say this), "Wow, these people really need some help down here!"; I blew a cork, started yelling "That's what I've been SAYING for FIVE MONTHS!". Fortunately, he was an understanding sort of fellow...

Shortly after, I decided it was time to just come home for fire season...

All in all, an exercise in frustration...

Pyro

2/21 Hide the Firefighters and rolling stock if Jim Pena is now the Deputy.
He is known as the “Cut Man” and is probable one of the Firefighters'
worst enemy. He has destroyed the last forest he was on and has one
agenda: get himself to the WO.

Hopefully he won’t have any teeth in the RO to hurt us anymore, but
just watch out.

No name

2/21 Maybe someone from the BDF can answer a question

I will be taking a personal trip to So-Cal in the next few weeks and would like to pay my respect to the Crew of Engine 57. I was wondering if it is possible to visit the site to pay my respect. I think there might be a memorial but I find myself compelled to visit the accident site itself. I find that I get more energy from the actual site and would like to spend some time there. I am not looking to be a tourist to the site, just someone who would appreciate the closure, that I would experience from a visit to the actual site. Any info and directions would be greatly appreciated.

Also about acronyms, JFO is Joint Field Office in FEMA lingo.

“BFD” is also in their field manual. Stands for “Base Flood Depth”

Brush Boy
2/21 SoCal firewatch

At was announced this morning at the RLT meeting that Jim Pena from
the Plumas NF will be the new R5 Deputy Regional Forester replacing
Tom Tidwell.

MJS

2/21 Whoooo whoooooo!

The NWSA gathering and auction raised more than $50,000 for the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation last night! That's got to be a record!

Sal

Great news, Sal! Thanks NWSA, you're a great bunch of professional private sector firefighters. Maybe with that event Vicki can take a much-needed winter vacation. Seems like vacation time has all but disappeared in recent years. Ab.

2/21 The 2/19 posting by Lobotomy has merit, however, the link at the end of
the posting has some significant errors. The document included in that
link was current in 2005. Since then the California Travel Net is no
longer authorized for use. Additionally, 5ea VTAC frequencies are noted.
It is important to note that only VTAC1 and VTAC3 are capable of being
programmed into older EPH Bendix-King portable radios. This is not a
wideband/narrowband issue but the fact that the other 3 VTAC frequencies
cannot be supported by the EPH radio since they are not multiples of 12.5
KHz channels. There remains a great number of the EPH radios in service
(and in caches) since the later models of the EPH are capable of
narrowband operation.

CA COML/COMC
2/21 I-300 Cadre Member said:

"I also took the IS-800 class, but can you identify all of these acronyms:
PFO, JFO, NRP, HQ, SFO, SFLEO, DRM, IMPT, DHS, SCRAG, IMPT, DRG, MACE, DRG.
I can probably get 50% off the top of my head, but not the rest."

The only one I know if the first one PFO. I don't know what it means south of 49 but up north here it is a
polite but emphatic way to say get lost.

Smokedawg

2/21 Some comments for the Big Dogs of the USFS.

From my perspective (and building off of Bill Molnar’s comments), the federal wildland agencies (specifically the USFS) are at the front end of an exodus of skilled employees. Over the last seven months I have seen a steady steam of USFS employees filing into my office to review educational plans and explore all of the possible options for transferring to CDF or other local government fire departments. To put this in perspective, in the twelve years prior to the last seven months, I had a grand total of ONE federal firefighter looking at upgrade training so they could leave the agency. This week alone I have learned about four individuals from the same engine company who are leaving federal service, and going to work for CDF (not thinking about going, they will be leaving); a fifth year crew member from one of the IHCs who will be leaving the agency; a second year crew member who wants to stay with the Fed’s, but he can not get an answer from the agency regarding his new position on an engine, and he will be accepting an offer from CDF (his old position was cut, the engine captain wants to hire him, but the captain can not get an answer from the agency---- this seems to be a common complaint in R5); a smoke jumper who will be leaving the agency after ten years of service (and another one on the way); and that’s in the last three days.

On the flip side, I had three of my best students accept or are about to accept positions with USFS units, a forth who is taking a job with the NPS, and a number of others waiting for offers. On the surface it sounds like it all evens out, it does not. The employees that are leaving were some of my best students and the agency has spent substantial amounts of time and money training these individuals. The loss is significant. During a period when most of the senior ICT members will be retiring (NIMO report), and “normal” retirements may be accelerated (Thirty Mile backlash), the system will be brutalized if the entry level system becomes a “turnstile” for the future Superintendents, Captains, Engineers and “Squadies.” It’s great for CDF, and local government fire departments, but it’s not very cost effective for the feds.

For anyone in the RO or WO to imply that there is no retention problem is flat out “nuts.” They would do well to listen to the Captains Groups, the Hotshot Superintendents, senior Operations Chiefs and Division Supervisors who have, for the last few years, been raising the alarm. You can continue to state “everything is fine”, it’s not--- MANY OF YOUR BEST PEOPLE ARE LEAVING. Saying that you do not have a retention problem because you cut crews and engines, down staffed coverage patterns or reduced the number of people on per day, (which makes it look like all the slots are filled) is nothing more than a “Red Herring” argument. I have to go; I have an appointment with another federal firefighter (forestry tech) who wants to explore their options for transferring to a city FD.

Ab, thanks for letting me vent. It is frustrating to see these individuals leave (all ex students) when they could make such a significant contribution to the fed fire.

Ron Marley,
Fire Technology Instructor
Shasta College
Redding, Ca

If anyone has questions, feel free to call. 530-225-4624
Ab, you can leave my name and phone numbers.

Thanks Ron for the hard facts. These are not the same firefighters I heard about from a RD on a coastal NF, but the pattern is identical. Heaven help California when next fire season rolls around. Ab.

2/21 Anyone know who is the next Deputy Forester for R5? Tidwell has
moved on to Montana. Guess it got too hot for him here... He can
be Rey's "Forester" there.

SoCal firewatch

2/21 I have gotten other inquiries from people needing the Fire Leadership website. I don't know what the problem is that creates the "404 Not Found" message, but here's one solution for the interim.

The following link provides a portal into the site using the wayback machine:

http://web.archive.org/web/20060515144911/http://www.fireleadership.gov/

Gleason Award, values/principles, toolbox, etc links down the lefthand side appear as grey boxes. You can position your cursor over the link and read the url to identify what it is. The link also works in the wayback machine, just click on it. You should be able to get to most of what you need. Looks like the last time the site was crawled was May 15, 2006, some info might be dated. Good luck.

If anyone knows what the timeframe is for having the Fire Leadership web back up and running, please let us know so people who need it can plan.

Ab.

2/21 Still Out there as an AD,

I also took the IS-800 class, but can you identify all of these acronyms

PFO, JFO, NRP, HQ, SFO, SFLEO, DRM, IMPT, DHS, SCRAG, IMPT, DRG, MACE, DRG.

I can probably get 50% off the top of my head, but not the rest.

Are they just trying to confuse the ICS system?

I-300 Cadre Member

Maybe we need a new acronym list? Anyone have a digital copy, please sent it in. Ab.

2/21 Ab,

What’s up with the Fire Leadership website, when I click on it I keep getting
“The Page Can not be Displayed” or “Not Found”. Hummmm.

“Boo”

Looks like it is down. I wonder for how long. Ab.

2/21 R-5 Captains Report:

I'd like to echo other sentiments about the quality product put together by Bill (Molnar)
and the Captain's group. It is an outstanding opportunity for those interested to gain a
true insight into the dynamics of what is going on out in the field.

Further, it provides those that are in a position to address concerns raised, an outline
to address those concerns.

Thanks again to Bill and those that assisted him in this effort.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/21 For some interesting context on the criminalization of human error in
various lines of work, check out the current newsletter at
www.justculture.org

Old Boot
2/21 Ab, this has been making the rounds with the following short note from Kathy Shelton, R6 Incident Business Management Specialist. As she says, I think this clarifies the issue on Hazard Pay for Low Level Helicopter Flights. R6 FF

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

If you recall in December a memo came out from WO (FS only) that talked about hazard pay for
helicopter flights and it generated a lot of discussion. The attached seeks to clarify that direction
and in my opinion does a pretty good job.

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

Date: February 9, 2007
Subject: Hazard Pay for Low Level Helicopter Flights
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Staff

There have been a number of questions regarding the letter we issued December 13, 2006 (copy enclosed), regarding the granting of hazard pay for low level helicopter flights. The Office of Personnel Management direction regarding limited control flights is found in 5 CFR 550, Subpart I, Appendix A, which states:

Limited control flights. Flights undertaken under unusual and adverse conditions (such as extreme weather, maximum load or overload, limited visibility, extreme turbulence, or low level flights involving fixed or tactical patterns) which threaten or severely limit control of the aircraft.

The hazard pay is related to the use of the aircraft not the work of the occupants. If the flight is undertaken under unusual and adverse conditions which threaten or severely limit control of the aircraft, then hazard pay is warranted. Hazard pay is not authorized for situations such as flying passengers from a work center to a location to fix equipment and when there are no adverse conditions that threaten or severely limit the aircraft.

Ignition devices used on a prescribed burn do not in and of themselves meet the definition for hazard pay. However, if the device threatens or severely limits the aircraft under the adverse conditions listed above, then the employee (not the pilot) would be entitled to hazard pay. It is the limits and stress placed on the aircraft, not the work being performed by the employee, which entitles the employee to the hazard pay.

It is up to the supervisor who authorized the use of the aircraft and/or made the determination that the work can only be accomplished under these adverse conditions to authorize hazard pay.

Hazardous duty means a duty performed under circumstances in which an accident could result in serious injury or death (5 CFR 550.902). We should not be subjecting our employees to such conditions unless it is absolutely necessary.

Employees who were authorized to perform work under the above conditions prior to December 16, 2006, may be entitled to back pay. Back pay is limited to two (2) years for those employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and six (6) years for those employees not covered by the FLSA.

If the employee wants to file a claim for back pay they must submit documentation that demonstrates what work was done; the documentation must have the supervisor’s concurrence that the work was accomplished and that hazard pay would have been appropriate under the conditions listed above. The employee’s servicing Human Resources Office (SHRO) will make the final determination if back pay is appropriate.

If you have any questions, contact your SHRO. Only regions, stations, area, and WO staff may address their questions to Debbie Rigden at (703) 605-0822 or email her at drigden@ fs.fed.us.

/s/ Donna L . Hubbert
Director of Human Capital Management

2/21 Good morning All,

I put a permanent link to the IAWF Survey results in the Documents Worth Reading section of the Archives. You can find many docs there relating to fires, burnovers, and other issues discussed on theysaid. If you're looking for materials for training, check also the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned and the Fire Leadership websites.

Ab.

2/21 Some think the NRE Mark Rey hit a home run... others believe William Molnar hit a home run...

My bet is with the facts gathered by the R-5 Captains Group and by the researchers who only
spoke facts and were not corrupted...... I read the 2006 R-5 Captains Report and it hit the nail
upon the head...pretty cool ....

Bill... awesome work by the R-5 Captains Group as always... Thanks for your leadership and
the work that the R-5 Captains Group is undertaking...

/s/ Former R-5 Captains Rep (from a small forest)
2/21 NRP

To: Still out there as an AD.

I have taken all four I-classes up to 800. As a individual who responded
to Katrina and Rita with a type 2 team it is my opinion that not even FEMA
knows how to implement and or manage this "GEM". My experience looked
nothing like the NRP, we had FEMA staffers that didn't know what was going
on, we had COE staff fighting over ICE, plans changed hourly, there were
lots of people/groups/organization all claiming they were in charge. It was
so bad when Rita hit us the local parish showed up wanting food and water
no one knew how to request it, finally the FEMA guy said to give them what
we had on hand which was sufficient for 1-2 meals. When it was our turn
to rotate out, no one argued.

Bushman82

2/21 Aberdeen:

I'm a little perplexed by your comment that "If you don't know the real 'problem',
how can you start looking for the best 'fix'?" This was to Billfire.

In context, it would appear obvious that Billfire is analyzing fatalities as a more important
measure of the success or failure of a fire season than acres, (somewhere under a billion),
or homes, (800 range).

No spin, just a simple fact. The first step to fixing this problem is upper management
understanding that fatalities are the most important stat.

We're a long way from home.

Fuels Guy
2/21 Tahoe Terrie,

You referenced a quote that is troubling by many "leaders" of the Forest Service and Mark Rey.... aka Agency Talking Points without factual references. You have made an awesome point that should be shared. Sorry if I am misquoting you. Not my intention in any way.

That quote is:

"Laying the foundation for the agency to implement 'privilege', which should not to be confused with 'immunity'. Briefly, this means information gathered during safety investigations can not be made public. The military and other agencies have used privilege and courts have ruled in favor of keeping information private. This will take both internal and external support and will require a culture change (i.e. time), but not a change in law."

While I agree with the concept, the leaders of the USDA and USFS are missing the mark and focus on the legal precedents that have been already set in the past... and somehow they (Mr. Rey, Mr. Bosworth, Ms. Kimbell, Mr. Harbour, et al) prefer to sit silent while the troops prepare to leave based upon their silence (IAWF Survey, 2007).... There is a definite lack of leadership while they sit on their thumbs and have time to act in positive ways....

1) Read the Constitution
2) Read Garrity and Kastigar
3) Read the various posts on "They Said" who reference the above legal precedents and others that are relevant and how Garrity and Kastigar were not applied correctly.....

No need to invoke "privilege".... those rights have already been determined and applied by the Courts.... and by the Founders of the the Constitution... It ain't rocket science.....

Folks need to get back to basics before they try to change laws and have to water down their views or opinions to be politically correct..... Get back to the basics and speak about your knowledge and experience that got you to the positions you are in.... Speak from the heart about what is really broken without fear from a bureaucratic mess.... USDA Forest Service = A Bureaucratic Mess.

Simply said... Be A LEADER....

Gizmo

2/21 From Mellie. This came across my desk.

It's that time again!! The Conference of Fire Service Women is in Oakland,
CA, April 25-29. Tuition is $400 per person that is including the pre -
wildland workshops. To save money you can register as a group, the first
five participants are $400 there after there will be a 25% discount per
participant, but you must register as a group.

There will be a recruitment fair again and we will be having an
inter-agency booth. We are still looking for representatives from FWS, NPS
and BIA. If your interested in helping out or you have positions you
looking to fill please contact Jane Arteaga at jarteaga@ blm.gov or
916-978-4436.

See the following web site for workshop and activities. www.wfsi.org/index.php

2/21 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.
2/20 A Word from the R-5 Engine Captain’s Representative

As the elected representative and chair of our dedicated group, I would first ask that all who have the opportunity to read our report take a moment to reflect on our past year of tragedy and loss as well as the injuries to other firefighters and families that may take many years and efforts to heal.

The heart and deepest respects of our group goes out to all of those who were injured in the line of duty and we commend those who were there to help all of our firefighters grieve the loss of San Bernardino Engine 57. These were not just firefighters, these were our friends… They were also brothers, husbands, fathers, sons, uncles, grandsons and people who had plans and ambitions greater than that day that tragically took them away from all of us.

The loss of these men is immeasurable and it will long remind each of us of the dangers we face when we staff our nearly 300 Forest Service Engines in California in what seems to be a year round fire season within Region 5.

As previously stated in last years Engine captains report, we again highlight that we are continuously loosing our ability to attract and retain our employees due to continued increased housing costs in California, low Federal wages without par ability to other agencies surrounding the federal civilian workforce and with the on going issues of pay versus retention we continue to struggle in our support of the “On the Ground Firefighters” of the U.S. Forest Service.

In 2004 and in 2005 we sounded the alarm of a mass exodus of quality employees leaving the USFS to accept better paying jobs with City, County and State Departments to better provide for their families all together. We have continuously collected and provided adequate data to support the claims of mass attrition and vacancy amongst our organization and are still awaiting some type of resolve that will assist us in retaining a highly effective workforce as was intended when we implemented the (MEL) “Most Efficient Level” buildup in 2001 till present.

Our collective group still provides our Regional Leaders with a “Can Do!” oriented group but I must admit, it is getting much harder to provide the level of service required with the current and unimaginable vacancy rate here in Region 5.

Our request continues to be our unanswered plea for equal pay incentives commensurate to our cooperative agencies as well as a new request that a more thorough review of our State of California situation affecting USFS Federal Employees be reviewed by the Washington Office and congressional administrators.

Our Regional Workforce has provided excellent and dynamic leadership in what was possibly one of the most difficult fire seasons to date. In a few short months this meeting will be far away from the tasks that we will be asked to perform in what is sure to be another busy 2007 California Fire Season. We will perform, we will respond and we will make calculated and educated decisions in regards to risk versus gain management. We will be held accountable at the highest level for the young men and women we lead into these dangerous assignments as firefighters…. It is during these times that we as the voice of the Fire Engine Workforce ask that something be done to relieve the ongoing strain and burden of a deteriorating workforce.

We thank our Regional Leadership for these opportunities to assist in the detection and elimination of these catastrophic workforce issues and we pledge our continued commitment to improving our organizational efforts to reflect a professional, dynamic and goal oriented group serving the best interests of both our employees and the public we serve.

Thank You, all of the Captains in R-5 for making us who we are today.

Sincerely, William Molnar
Regional Engine Captain’s Chair

2/20 Re: IAWF Survey

Great job!!!! It puts the way wildland firefighters are feeling into focus for
those who can make changes.

Lobotomy
2/20 Billfire -

I'm a little perplexed by your comment that "They died while performing wildland fire duties, who cares how you break it out?" Seems to me that it's like saying that a person died of cancer, and not caring if it was lung cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer or skin cancer.

If you don't know the real "problem", how can you start looking for the best "fix"?

Aberdeen

2/20 Abs et al.

I got a cold chill after reading some of the comments from the survey. There's one
that will keep me up late tonight. The person who made the comment about letting
civilians die vs. risking their crew or themselves scared the shinola outta me.

Pray our structure brothers don't get into the same mindset.

Sign me -
penflare

It's a logical thought if the only option for saving the civilian life is taking your crew into an interface area with an alignment of forces that also violates LCES for your crew. Structure firefighters have to do similar risk assessment. Ab.

2/20 I just read over the results of the survey and read all the comments. Thanks to IAWF and Ab for making the survey and for promoting it, respectively.

I hope the WO and congressional reps read the survey comments after the results, of course. I realize all were not included, but there is a broad cross-section of comments. (mine must have expressed something a little different; it made the list.)

When Rey made his 3 points before the NR & E committee (that video), the points that Harbour described as a slam-dunk, he said nothing about timeframe only that he/the powers that be were interested in working on the 3 issues. (Hmmmm, has anyone compared what's being written now with exactly what Rey said in the video?)

From Snell's letter:

some of the actions the National Office is working on to address agency support for firefighters. Briefly these are:

  1. Making professional liability insurance available to fire line supervisors.
  2. Working to clarify the law that requires the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigation when a Forest Service employee is killed by a burn over or entrapment. (PL 107-203).
  3. Laying the foundation for the agency to implement ‘privilege’, which should not to be confused with ‘immunity’. Briefly, this means information gathered during safety investigations can not be made public. The military and other agencies have used privilege and courts have ruled in favor of keeping information private. This will take both internal and external support and will require a culture change (i.e. time), but not a change in law.

However these Snell comments compare with Rey's words, I doubt if any of the 3 can be accomplished by the beginning of fire season 2007. I also wonder what stage the Daniels court case will be in by then.

I'd like to think we'd have resolution, but in all likelihood, nothing will be resolved before R3 starts to burn. What then?

Tahoe Terrie

2/20 The results of a survey the International Association of Wildland Fire initiated about the Thirtymile fire are now available at www.iawfonline.org/documents.shtml in the News Releases section.

There are three documents:

1) A news release which contains a summary of the survey results and recommendations from the IAWF;
2) The complete results of the eight multiple choice questions, and;
3) A sampling of the 1,416 optional comments left by the people who took it.

A total of 3,362 people took the survey. This large number indicates how important this issue is to wildland firefighters. The IAWF hopes that this data about the effects of the criminal charges will assist the wildland fire agencies and policy makers to formulate a strategy for mitigating the adverse impacts that the survey identified.

Bill Gabbert
Executive Director
International Association of Wildland Fire

Thanks Bill and IAWF. Ab.

2/20 Billfire,

Below is a link to and excerpt from a Time Magazine "question and answer"
feature in the Aug. 16, 2001 edition. Notice how even a month after
Thirtymile, it's not that the firefighter fatalities are downplayed, the
deaths just don't register in talking about acres burned or structures lost.

(My apologies to SJ's out there, who always cringe when they hear about
jumping "into" fires. It may come as a surprise to more than a few
volunteer firefighters that fighting western wildfires is "all paid work.")

vfd cap'n

---

www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,171557,00.phpl

Q: Is there anything particularly noteworthy about this year's fires?

A: We are in a drought, so conditions are very dry. But in comparison to
last year, the fires just aren't as intense. News-wise, it's just the story
of the saga continuing. Last year we had a lot of evacuation orders, towns
and structures threatened, this year not so many. That's not, of course, a
measure of how scary and stressful it is to the residents of town that may
be less directly threatened this year.

2/20 Mark Rey Comment

Actually if you watch the video of the congressional hearing I believe Mr.
Rey did say that a billion acres were burnt last year. What really chaps
me is we lost 24 firefighters and he has the gall to say "But the good news
is we only lost 800 homes". We had more people die but the good news
is..... give me a break. I also read the article on yahoo about the 24
deaths last year and they try to water it down by saying that all the
deaths weren't caused by burnovers, that most were aviation and vehicle
accidents. They died while performing wildland fire duties, who cares how
you break it out.

Billfire
2/20 Past policy always set human life as the top priority, followed by
protection of private property and then "natural resources".

Today's policy still retains human life as the top priority. Following
that, we need to assess values at risk and other health factors/costs etc.
For example, if you are the IC and have the choice to protect an evacuated
subdivision (not firewise, risky, high cost) effort.....or you can protect
a watershed that provides a city of a million plus folks their drinking
water. Balance the choice.

We have historically chosen to spend millions of taxpayer dollars in order
to save insurance companies from having to pay claims. That choice
sometimes results in public resources experiencing losses that are
uninsured.

At least that's my read.

Old Fire Guy

2/20 For the rest of you who have already slogged thru the IS-800 class,
what's your take on National Response Plan?

Still Out There as an AD
2/20 Policy made clearer??? Aberdeen

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

Date: February 15, 2007
Subject: Clarification of Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Staff

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently issued a report, “Large Fire Suppression Costs,” in which it recommended that the U.S. Forest Service reiterate the Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy that gives protection of natural resources and property equal consideration. This recommendation was made because the OIG audit team found that, “FS managers and staff that we interviewed either believed that protection of property continued to have priority over the protection of natural resources, or said that public and political pressures required them to give property protection a higher priority.”

However, Chapter 3 of the 2001 Federal Wildland Fire Policy states that, “The protection of human life is the single, overriding priority. Setting priorities among protecting human communities and community infrastructure, other property and improvements, and natural and cultural resources will be based on the values to be protected, human health and safety, and the costs of protection. Once people have been committed to an incident, these human resources become the highest value to be protected.”

To be clear, this means that after the protection of human life, all other protection decisions are to be made based on the values to be protected, human health and safety, and the costs of protection.

Please ensure that the appropriate people on your staff are aware of this policy.

/s/ James E. Hubbard
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

2/19 Higbee,

I think Mollyboy's unknown author quote is more appropriate for survivors and families than Voltaire's quote. Besides he did not attribute it to Voltaire. (It could have been Ted Putnam or Dick Mangan or any one of a number of fire investigators who was the unknown author, after all.)

The main point is, regardless of the rest: to the dead and for Lessons Learned, we owe the truth.

"To the survivors, we owe our sympathies; to the dead, we owe the truth!" (Unknown author)

vs

"To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth." ~ Voltaire

Mellie

2/19 Mollysboy,

I'd bet the "unknown" quote you referenced has morphed somewhat and has changed from its original meaning and personal intentions over the years from the author..... or at least I would hope they would have been based upon factual history and the history of the original author and the facts brought forward to support the quote and the eventual users and learners who would utilize the quote.....

"To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth." ~ Voltaire

Higbee
2/19 Re: .... "My radio had a lock on it even though I told them this was the most ridiculous tactic I ever witnessed in my entire career..."

Per "national direction",

All field programmable radios with access codes from the National Cache are now to be changed to 0000 or a similar set of numbers so that immediate field changes are possible based upon emergent or expected needs by the incident commander or incident leaders and available to be applied to the troops in the field.

From NIICD> "Radio Passwords: All NIICD radio passwords have been changed to all zeros for the 2007 fire season. (1/07)" www.fs.fed.us/fire/niicd/Hotsheet/Hotsheet.phpl#pass

The changes approved from the NIICD came from field comments and concerns for safety about rapidly changing conditions. Local radio protocols may differ but seek equivalent outcomes.

If you are confused or concerned, talk with your local communications manager..... and share your lessons learned.

Rogue Rivers
2/19 Good catch on those acres burned Fed Watcher. When I read the article I thought,
wow, thats a lot of acres burned last year. If I did the math right after I read your
note...1 billion acres is 1,562,500 square miles. One half the area of the entire
continental United States. I would suspect the press more than Rey on that flub.

Tom Jones

Yep, a former timber lobbiest should know what sounds reasonable. Ab.

2/19 Re: Communications

No Name Please,

As far as I know and understand, NIFC does not approve frequency usage except for a general set of circumstances (below). Non-IA Tactical frequencies are pre-approved and allocated through the Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACCs) as pre-approved through their WO counterparts who work with the NTIA to ensure consistency.

The NIFC (NIICD) Duty Officer does approve the usage of the following frequencies: NIFC Command 1-7, NIFC Tac 1-7, USFS R-5 Tac 4-6, USFS Air-to-ground (170.000), and BLM Air-to ground (167.950). If a local GACC or COML cannot find a frequency that will work with a given incident, the Duty Officer will assist the GACC to find a frequency that has been pre-approved through existing local agreements and/or ensure that it is on the frequency spectrum as approved by the NTIA (Feds) and/or FCC (State and local government).

I would have to agree with the OPS Chief and you also.... You both were trying to keep the folks safer, but you went in different directions and just butted heads. You both identified hazards and acted upon fixes...

The important questions, 1) Did your actions on the fire work?; 2) Did folks remain safe?; 3) Did you communicate the lessons learned forward and admit where things could have been done better?; and 4) Did you learn something from the experience and share your lessons learned?

Lobotomy

Here is one (long) example of an existing communications agreement.

2/19 After reading some of the postings in regards to frequencies, I had to write about an incident in 2005 that I should not have let go unchallenged.

I was assigned as a DIVS(T) to a Type 3 fire on the Bitterroot National Forest after the IC and the Operations from the Type 3 team about ate their lunch when the fire initially blew up. This never came out and actually the two of them laughed about it, like it was no big deal and maybe happened frequently. That was my first red flag!!!

After the Type 2 team took over and then transitioned back to this Type 3 group, we had an incident that I should have filled out on a Safenet. We were expecting a cold front to occur around 1300 hours -- at 1040 I overheard a medivac taking place on our frequency from the Payette National Forest (250 miles away) that there were two critically injured smokejumpers. I walked my entire division to inform my SOF3, OPS, and IC3 of this emergency and informed my folks to hold off on transmission until I could resolve the issue.

This is really where it gets interesting.... some other DIVS(T) and SOF3, OPS, and ICT3 decided to change frequencies at 1100 hours on the entire fire -- when a cold front was expected at 1300 and not all resources were capable of making this change. They all proceeded with the change, but I could not. My radio had a lock on it even though I told them this was the most ridiculous tactic I ever witnessed in my entire career in the middle of day with a cold front due in about an hour. They told me I better make it happen and change the frequency from the one DIVS(T) pulled out of her hat from Grand Junction, Colorado, a frequency that was a BLM channel with no authorization to use from NIFC. I called all of them to the table and told them their Safety was below the level of fundamental basics and yanked every one of my people off my division to roll hose in a group until this backwoods group could get their act together. I received a pretty interesting evaluation from the OPS guy, as he told me I lacked confidence..... I told him the only confidence I lacked was in his inability to lead.

As I read the burnover from the incident regarding the Santa Fe Hotshots and the timeliness of that and how I also waited way too long to bring this to light as part of our lessons learned, but our culture is breeding inhospitable actions in more ways than one. I apologize deeply for waiting so long, but the lesson I learned is our culture is not getting better and more and more incidents seem to be happening. Not sure if we are just fast tracking or IFPM is the root to all this madness, or lack of leadership, but my gut is giving me a powerful message right here and now.

No Name Please

Thank you for sharing. Ab.

2/19 Hi Birthday Woes,

In answer to your question regarding a Term Appointment, the Term Appointment differs from the Temporary appointment in that Temps can be 3, 4, 6 or 12 month appointments with no benefits, not to be exceeded by more than two continuous years of employment (unless a special circumstance arises.

A Term Appointment is usually a 2-Year appointment, subject to one two-year renewal and not to exceed 4 years total. Term appointments give you the status of a permanent employee, the retirement contribution, the rights, and the benefits. During the Term Appointment you are allowed to compete for a Permanent Position that would not be available to either a Temp or a member of the public with no special status. Many times the Term Appointment can be converted to a Permanent position, but mainly it gives the Term Employee the opportunity to gain access to a Permanent Federal Job.

If you were a Term you should have been told that during that period you could apply for an compete for open Permanent positions you qualify for, and should have been getting the benefit package. Having worked for DoA, DoI, and for DoD, the Term position is used in that manner.

IF you feel that your HR is jerking you around, which they can do to meet a forests-district-area's goals, or not telling the truth, ask for the Office of Personnel Management's local number and office address. They have the final word on any personnel transactions that may happen.

MOC4546
2/19 Thanks for the link to the news article Aberdeen.

One quote from Mark Rey stood out. It said,

"The good news," Rey added, is that only 800 homes were lost last
year, despite a record 1 billion acres burned, compared to 3,000
homes lost in 2003, when 5 million acres burned."

Once again, Mark Rey is out of touch with his facts. Last year, nearly
10 Million acres were burned, a far cry from a "record 1 billion" as he
is quoted as saying.

FedWatcher

2/19 "To the survivors, we owe our sympathies; to the dead, we owe the truth!" (Unknown author)

www.washingtonpost.com

Mollysboy
2/19 RoFNGokie Teacher

Here's the FS Region 5 link to their video library.
It's has stock footage, not narrated or edited, of
fires and assorted other videos about fire and
firefighting. There is some good "filler" and
information videos there. The Region 5 web has been down
this weekend, so try in a couple days. The library is
free, I've used it, a few years ago, and received the
videos pretty quickly. I don't know if there are
copyrights, I don't believe there are on the FS stock
footage, but some of the other programs might have
them.

www.r5.fs.fed.us/video

Hope this helps,
Former grunt

2/19 Anyone know where I can download the final test for S215? I looked at
NWCG's website and various others. Cant locate the test so I can print it.

Any links would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,

EGBhotshot

2/19 Red Flag Warnings for today:

Kansas
Missouri
Texas
Florida
Georgia

Haines index 6-High across the central and southern plains.

Drought impacts:

Kansas
Missouri
Texas
Florida
Georgia

Heads up!

Weather Nerd
2/19 Thank you, I appreciate all of your explanations. From the link
provided by MidwestFireGuy I found this:
www.fs.fed.us/people/benefits/
which indicates that non-fire positions may sometimes be creditable
toward firefighter retirement.

"INDIVIDUAL RULINGS:
Former employees may request an individual ruling to see if their
former work with the Forest Service can be creditable under the special
retirement provisions for law enforcement officers and firefighters.
This individual ruling is necessary when:
--you can't find your position descriptions (PD); however, you believe
the PD itself could have been matched to a covered position.
--your PD of record was incorrect - it didn't cover what the primary
purpose of your job was.
--your PD was correct and not coverable, but -- due to circumstances,
you actually spent over 50% of your time doing coverable law
enforcement or firefighter work.

This individual service credit determination affects only the
individual making the request. It does not constitute a retroactive
position determination that would convey coverage to all eligible
persons holding the same position of record. For example Felzien,
Perske, and Pate were individual rulings.
If you want to request an individual ruling for law enforcement or
firefighter coverage of past service you must submit your claim in
writing to Helga Brown, HRM; USDA Forest Service; 1601 N Kent Street,
Rm 600 RPC, Arlington, VA 22209. Be sure to include in your request
which positions need a coverage determination."

The third scenario is the one most like my situation -- however, only
20% of my time (in the Term appointment) was firefighting, not 50%.
Unless she only considers the time at my last GRADE, in which case it
was approx 50%. So I'll contact her to clarify, because a 5-month
extension would help me greatly.

But it's good to know that for at least SOME employees, their
firefighting when in a non-fire position may actually count. The
website goes on to describe what info you need to provide (it's
immense), how soon you have to do it, and gives another example of the
third scenario. (The website was from 1999 so the contact info may be
different now.)

MOC4546,
Regarding your #5 point, do you mean that Terms can apply for jobs
advertised to "Status Candidates"?

Thanks again to all,
BirthdayWoes

2/18 An AP writer has some interesting observations on firefighter fatalities.....
and everyone he interviews has their own perspectives, too!

www.oregonlive.com

Aberdeen
2/18 Hi Birthday Woes,

When I finally earned my permanent position with the Federal Government one of the first questions I asked was "Does my Temporary Time count toward my retirement or other personnel issues?"

The answer is complex. After going through several bouts with Human Resources (HR) and asking for documentation, this is what I was told.

1. Time in Service. Your time working in the federal government, temp, term, and permanent, counts toward your Service Comp Date. In other words, how long you have worked for the government to establish service comp-date and how many hours you receive for annual leave.

2. Temporary time earned after 1989 per a Congressional Act regarding Federal Temp Employee, at this time, cannot be used for credit for retirement into FERS. Temp time earned BEFORE 1989 can count toward retirement, but the employee has to pay the fees for the credit. I have had to do this to buy back six months of service. If you have a break in service of more than three continuous years, then that temp time starts over again, and you lose what you earned like time in grade and and earned sick leave. From 1987 until 1999 I worked as a Temp Firefighter for DoA, DoI, and the DoD as a firefighter, and in that time there were a few individual years where I did not have a seasonal fire job, but not more than one year break in service. If you skipped working for the government for more than three years, then you lost what you earned timewise.

3. If you have had a Term Position, that counts toward employment and retirement, because you are earning retirement credit time in a Term Position. The problem arises when you have Public Safety/Special Retirement for Fire-LEO-EMS versus Non-Public Safety. A Fire Position in 462, 455, and I think 303, and law Enforcement have the special retirement system and a time limit of Age 57 with 20 years service. If your Term Time is not more than three years old, then you have credit toward service, and while working as a Term you should have been able to compete for Permanent positions. I hope your HR told you that. You cannot combine, as far as I know, a Non-Fire Term or Perm position time with a Fire Term or Perm position. HR will be very clear on that. You can mix a Fire to Non-Fire position for retirement, but not the other way around.

4. If you worked in one discipline and worked as a Secondary Firefighter, meaning you were Red-Carded but you position was in Timber Sales or Silviculture, that fire time does not count toward a fire position. You have to be in Fire, as a Term or Perm, to have it count for retirement.

5. As a Term you should have gotten the benefit package that the Perm get, health care, insurance, and FERS retirement contribution. A Term position is like being permanent, in that it gives you the foot in the door to compete for a Perm position without special status such as veterans, disabled, or minority placement. You should check with your HR, and if they give you a hard time or are evasive, contact the Supervisor's Office or Region Office HR Department.

6. The key on the Age 37 Limit for Public Safety is the retirement issue. You can work almost everywhere else starting beyond age 37, EXCEPT Fire/Law/EMS oriented occupations. Those positions have mandatory retirement at age 57. There are VERY FEW exceptions to that limit, because the employee has to reach 20 years of service to get the minimum level of retirement. Other positions outside of Public Safety can start later than 37 because they can go as long as they are able to keep up, 65, 70, or higher.

7. The Age 37 Issue. HR can have some flexibility as to the start date. If you were selected, and they don't start you before you turn 37, they can start you shortly afterwards. And by that I mean only a couple of pay periods. I have known people starting the day after their 37th birthday. I know of one employee in fire who will actually be retiring a few weeks after his 58th birthday in order to get the 20-year mark. If there is some kind of leeway that can be taken, and HR is looking at you as a candidate to fill the spot they may find some way to make it work, but if you can't make that 20-Years of Service they won't bother.

Go back over your service times, look at what you did, when you did it, and what your job series was. Term-Time outside of Public Safety can't count toward a Public Safety Retirement plan. Put it all together and visit your HR. If you feel uncomfortable with them, or that you won't get a fair shake, try contact either another HR in a different Forest-District-Park, or try the Regional Office, or if you can get ahold of someone, the Office of Personnel Management is the ultimate authority over ALL PERSONNEL ISSUES! When OPM rules, it becomes law. I appealed a lower fire fighter employment position I was trying for when I was told they "simply hired a veteran" because of Veteran Status, not experience. I challenged the ruling through OPM and the job was offered to me within a few days.

You are in a hard spot, starting the permanent fire career at the late stage. Talk to anyone you can, gather the information, and ask questions. If you are not satisfied with the answers, take it to the next level. Good Luck to you.

MOC4546
2/18 Birthday Woes,

Here is a link to the FLERT site.

http://flert.nifc.gov/

It has everything you would want to know about Federal Fire Fighter Retirement.

Part of the answers to your questions will be in the PDs you had been hired under. It will be easier if you worked under "primary firefighter" PD's.

Good Luck

Midwest Fire Guy
2/18 Birthday Woes

Here's my understanding of "previously covered service".

First of all, the Position Description for the job you're in must state that the position is a "Primary Firefighter" position. This will only apply to Permanent or Permanent Seasonal positions who are then eligible to participate in the Federal Retirement Program (FERS).

It doesn't matter if you worked on Type 1 or 2 crews unless you filled a PFT or Perm/Seasonal position

This is because Primary Firefighters can retire after twenty years of service as a primary firefighter. With retirement available after just 20 years, primary firefighters (and Law Enforcement Officers) contribute 7 1/2 % of their gross bi-weekly pay into the retirement programs - CSRS or FERS. The rest of the Federal employees contribute just 7 %.

If you occupied a primary firefighter position as a PFT or Perm/Seasonal say for 2 years while you were in your 20's, then you would have contributed to the retirement systems for those 2 years. Having done so, if you wanted to re-enter into a primary firefighter position your entry could be extended for 2 years past your 37th birthday - until you are 39.

The 37 year age limit is because primary firefighters must contribute for a full 20 years before early retirement at age 57. This requirement is absolute! There's no waivers or exceptions allowed by OPM. If you're approaching age 37 without any prior service time as a Primary Firefighter you need to get a PFT/PermSeasonal position ASAP!

I'm sure of this information because I had to research this issue for one of my employees.

However, your time spent as a seasonal firefighter will count towards your length of service if you get rehired by a Fed Agency and continue with them until you retire.

I hope this helps - if you have more questions just post a note on TheySaid.

AK Old Timer

2/18 I'm trying to track down information on what qualifies
as "previous covered service" when seeking an
exception to the Maximum Entry Age/37th birthday rule
for primary firefighter positions.

I spent many summers as a 1039 temp, during which I
worked on fires as well as other program duties. 23
months of that were on FIRE CREWS specifically.
Because I wasn't "covered" during that time, I suspect
it doesn't count (i.e. I can't subtract it from my age
to get less than 37), correct?

Also, I have 25 months of employment in a TERM
appointment during which I was covered by gov't
benefits... it was a non-fire appointment but I did
work on region-wide Type 1 & 2 wildfires both years.
Can I subtract the time I spent on fire-fighting
assignments (when a covered term) from my age? Or
not?

Furthermore, what happens if I apply for a position
which closes before my 37th birthday, but the
selecting official doesn't actually finalize the
hiring until after my 37th birthday? i.e. what
happens if I make "the list" and do interviews while
36, but the final selection doesn't happen until after
I turn 37?

Thank you,

BirthdayWoes
2/18 "Actually, I am fairly sure the NPS was most responsible for IFPM. Ab."

That's interesting. I know of one NPS region that specifically isn't using IFPM PDs for some regional staff.

I also have it from a good source that the NPS Fire Education and Information Specialists that are scattered throughout the parks and regions are not using the IFPM Prevention and Mitigation PD like they had hoped. One of them was actually rather excited to have national level PD that fit the job she does. I was told that the National FMO at the time made a decision that NPS wouldn't be using the Prevention and Mitigation Tech PD, Period.

Interesting.............

emt_mb
2/18 I'd like to get a library started of video clips that are downloadable for use in teaching classes. Things that are fire related, saftey related, situational awareness related, ect.
Thanks

I'm looking for links to some good video clips to use in presenting S 130 or any other class.

Thanks,
RoFNGokie Teacher-"-

2/18 I don't beat horses, I just tend to them (not dead ones). The WCT is neither inherently good nor bad. Having an individual from a crew fail to perform due to respiratory problems, appearing not during the WCT taken at 700 feet, but rather on a steep hike at 8000 feet in a relatively hot and dry climate in the midst of fire season, I saw that the WCT did no harm, and no good.

It is a catch. A test used to weed out that sometimes does so in both extreme and insufficient ways, that is, beyond preventing unfit individuals from becoming wildland firefighters, and causing injury or removing some from existence. I ask, though, does the 45-year old alcoholic smoker whose diet of red meat and lack of regular cardiovascular exercise which probably would have caused premature illness/death regardless of whether a 45-pound pack were involved merit overall allowance of less fit individuals? The point is, the test is relative to individuals and thus cannot itself be blamed for anything.

After reading about the Riveria Mesa pseudo-entrapment, it would seem that anyone scouting line (STDZ, DOZB, TFLD, DIVS, ICT3, SOF1/2, FOBS...) would want to be at least fit enough to easily pass the WCT, and optimally fit enough to high tail it on a dime. On the other hand, staying out of situations warranting such is ideal, and I'm not talking about pick-up truck divs. Strong body, strong mind.

Taking some personal responsibility for choice of work, health, and the ultimate costs of being a wildland firefighter holds potential. There are numerous things one can do to balance the damage done. Growing old with pain and difficulty is not pure destiny, it is at least partially a choice. Stretching, yoga, supplementation, resistance training, relaxation, diet, and quality air and water, to name a few, can greatly enhance one's ability to cope with environmental stress. More easily said, I realize, but has so far been worth the effort in my admitedly limited experience.

On a side note, non-federal firefighters on federal wildland incidents are often expensive, and although I realize they are necessary as the feds cannot provide enough incident support, and they have much to offer and play a key role, there should be no lessening in standards of physical aptitude.

Missfire
2/17 I had no part in the creation of IFPM, but I have read through most if not all of it. It may have been a collaborative effort by all the agencies, but I believe that if any one agency was preeminent in the creation of this standard it was the BLM. At the same time, I realize that the reference to IFPM in an earlier post was probably more than a little tongue in cheek.

As examples I submit the following identified positions from IFPM

1. FOS – Fire Operations Supervisor (essentially an AFMO / BC, but a standing DOI (BLM) position)
2. EMS – Engine Module Supervisor (This is for Heavy engines, equivalent to the R5 SFEO)
3. SEO – Supervisory Engine Operator (for light engines)

I only mention this because I feel that the following is true--

1) The forest service is not the only agency responsible for IFPM
2) IFPM is actually not a bad thing (excepting the 401 piece)
3) It is critical for folks to understand IFPM so that they and their supervisors/employees do not have any surprises when it is fully implemented.

(AB, I looked but could not find a link to the IFPM web site anywhere on the board. Could you post the link if it’s not already here somewhere?)

IFPM web site – www.ifpm.nifc.gov

trying to keep the C in LCES

Actually, I am fairly sure the NPS was most responsible for IFPM. Ab.

2/17 Sting,

I heard the modern day team has been waiting almost 2 year's to replace the rower
they let go. First they didn't have enough diversity on the list, then the cert expired,
but don't worry this year is going to be better because the Region has everything
figured out this time.

If anyone is interested; This serves as a 10 day outreach notice for a 120 detail for
a lead rower on the modern day Forest Service Team.

An-R5er
2/17 Mangan, A Concerned firefighter, all…

We all seem to be dialoging the WCT quite a bit and I’m being educated along the way.

It’s not that “City” Fire Departments aren’t doing a test; it’s that they’re doing their own
style of test.

My department does an annual fit test that comprises of job related tasks. Those include
running walking, climbing, jumping, twisting, bending and lifting more than 50 pounds;
among other tasks.

I agree that no matter what test; there will be human medical issues arise.

The pace of work is set by the emergency situation… and by the shape of its personnel.

You’re correct that IAFF members don’t want a fitness requirement. That because their
management wants to make it punitive; even though the majority encourage fitness
programs to be able to perform.

So.. That is my question to you. Why the WCT in its current format, when the above
is stated in 310-1?

Thanks>

sfirelake
2/17 interested,

You may be onto something when you said beginning of stove pipe
org. When I read the changes to the 08,I couldnt figure out why the
shift. You might be right.

Don't worry about the 08 budget and Ms. Lago just yet. That budget
is DOA on the steps of the Capitol thanks to the events the night of
Nov 7, 2006.

Signed,

The duck is lame!
2/17 As we ponder and debate the weighty issues of our times (WCT, Thirtymile, Doctrinal changes, Budget cuts, etc), the words of the recently deceased political satirist Molly Ivins seem even more relevant:

"Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds; but don't forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."

Sounds like words to live by, and a new informal statement of purpose for TheySaid.

Mollysboy

2/17 Hello Ab,

Many Thanks to Len Dems for the post about my brother, Ken Castro. Len has been a tremendous help to Ken's family in their time of need. Ken's services will be held on Wednesday, February 21st at 2:00 pm at the:
French Mortuary
9300 Golf Course Road
Albuquerque, NM 87114

A Celebration of his life will be held directly after his services, "Aloha/Hawaiian Attire" mandatory, the location will be announced at the services (unavailable at this time).

Instead of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Ken's memory. Feel free to share stories with us all about your experiences (embarrassing, humorous and close calls) with Ken as we bid him farewell. Thank you all for the tremendous support you have shown him and his family during his battle with cancer.

Cindy Wood
Wood's Fire & Emergency Services

You and yours have our sympathy, Cindy. Ab.

2/17 Sting;

Well stroked, Brah! You drove that nail clear through the board, with one hit...

Pyro
2/17 A modern day parable,

The Old Forest Service and the Modern Forest Service decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River . Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Old Forest Service won by a mile.

The Modern Forest Service, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Old Forest Service had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the Modern Forest Service team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, Modern Forest Service management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, in the National Rowing Plan, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Old Forest Service, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager, none of them having any rowing experience.

They also implemented a new performance system that would make the 1 person rowing the boat more professional. It was called the "IFPM Rowing Team Program", with meetings, classes and deadlines for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Old Forest Service won by two miles.

Humiliated, the Modern Forest Service management abandoned the National Rowing Plan, laid off the rower not meeting the deadline, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Albuquerque Service Center as bonuses and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to contractors.

original author unknown,
modified by sting

2/17 A Cultural Assessment of Federal Wildland Fire Management Policies

When it’s hot and dusty
and the lightning is from cloud to ground
We are heroes.
But when it rains
We are dog$hit.

(Inscription on RAC/NCSB Smokejumper Challenge Cup)

That pretty much sums it up. Thank you for your attention.

Misery Whip
2/16 Ab:

Been lurking a long time and thought I would throw another horse on the WCT pile to see if you want to beat it any more:

I think that maybe we should take another look at the validity and application of the WCT. I still pass my annual WCT for the “arduous E-Ticket admission” to fire season, but I do not believe it is all that healthy for my semi-old guy aging joints and disks, nor does it give any strong indication of my ability to perform effectively as an ICT3 or DIVS. Most all of my youthful and elder fire compadres also pass the arduous pack test each year, but usually have some fairly significant muscle soreness or joint pain for many days afterwards, since speed walking with 45 pounds is not in their normal PT regime.

In a 2001 paper delivered by Brian Sharkey at the annual meeting of the International Association of Wildland Fire, Missoula, MT, he states “Twenty-two incident command positions call for the arduous category test; of these, only two include the actual firefighting duties for which the test (WCT) was devised.” I assume these two to be FFT2 and FFT1. Sharkey wisely suggested that a “careful evaluation” be made of the ICS positions that actually need the arduous test may help alleviate some of the cardiovascular risks in the test.

The NWCG works through “working” committees to evaluate and revise standards. Unfortunately, these committee members sometimes have limited information or science at their disposal to base decisions. Sometimes individual committee members have specific agendas or regional needs that they attempt to browbeat into national policy. Typically they rely on “OK that sounds good, lets move on to the next item before our lunch break” that is common to committee decision making.

The newer NWCG 310-1 (April 06) shows minor reductions in fitness requirements for two positions - the strike team leader engine (STEN) and the strike team dozer (STDZ) were reduced to a “moderate” rating from the previously required arduous. The NWCG Safety Health Working Team (SHWT) decision to move these to moderate fitness level appears to be based on some limited MTDC/Brian Sharkey job exertion research on the SOFS, STEN, STDZ, DIVS, and SITL positions that was carried out on fires in Washington and Montana in 2003 and 2004. The 9/2004 NWCG SHWT meeting minutes reflect that Sharkey’s data that they based their decision on “may not be representative of the overall requirements of any of the positions due to the limited sample size and short duration of data collection.”

Does a Division Supervisor who walks his division all day really need an arduous rating while a Line Safety Officer who walks this same Division only needs a moderate? Does a DOZB need more fitness walking the same fireline as a STDZ? Could I perform my ICT3 position safely and effectively with the same moderate fitness rating that the STENS working under me have? I am sure we could all offer arguments going either way.

The bottom line is we need to be fit for our position. My experience tells me that line overhead positions do not need the same physical attributes that pulaski drivers need. I believe we should focus more on reasonable job specific fitness regimes (scheduled and verifiable PT) for line and other certain other fire positions in conjunction with regular physical exams. The once or twice a year 3 mile flat ground speed walk with a 45 pound lead brassiere (WCT) only shows me as a fire manager that my firefighters can speed walk 3 miles on flat ground with a 45 pound lead brassiere.

Grumpy

2/16 Does anyone know the cost of all of the National Shared Resources combined?
I guess this would include Hotshot crews, Smoke Jumpers, Air Tankers and
Type I Helicopters (any thing else?). I wonder if it adds up to $226,000,000.
Sound like the first stages of a stove pipe?

Sign me.

interested

2/16 vfd cap'n:

"Grid for spots at the head of the fire; grid for overhead at the heel."

meow

Smokedawg :)

2/16 The Sawtooth Hotshot firefighting crew is 40 years old this year. Plans are underway for a reunion of former crew members to commemorate this anniversary. According to Tom Bates, current Sawtooth Hotshot Crew Superintendent, the reunion is scheduled for April 14th and 15th in Twin Falls. Read more...
2/16 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.

Readers, OPM rearranged the way that the jobs are listed. They now order the list by closing date, not by most recent job opening as they used to. To search on newest job opening, you can go to the OPM site and click that option. Alternatively, I have added another category to the three "fire job" series pages: jobs that have opened in the last 2 weeks. Given the number of jobs in the 462 series that have opened in the last 2 weeks, I may cut that down to jobs that have opened in the last 7 days. I know many people apply for jobs and then apply for additional jobs as they open.

My apologies to the person who emailed 2 weeks ago with the question about this. I misunderstood your question. I didn't realize you were referring to one of the jobs SERIES pages. HAW HAW, my answer to you probably sounded pretty lame.

Ab.

2/16 AZ Municipal Fire depts do pack test:

While I am sure there are plenty of fire departments who do not participate in the pack test, I know my department, and almost every municipal fire department in central Arizona DOES complete this test. We, as a consortium of departments, feel it is important to meet the national standard. Even though all these Phoenix-area departments complete annual physicals through the fire department health center, and even though most of these departments only have a small or none existent wildland fire problem, we still respond state and nationally.

Our union does not step in and tell us not to participate. WE are the union, and those on our local agency wildland fire teams feel it is important to test ourselves, and meet the national expectation.

Plus, its just one more way of keeping ourselves physically challenged and healthy.

AZfirefighter

2/16 What is the status of the type 1 helicopter contracts for this year?
I understand they were on the street, then pulled out, and then reissued.

Wassup?

2/16 The advice now making the rounds among the rank-and-file:

...If you are involved in any kind of accident or even a witness to any kind of accident, like a non-injury backing accident in an agency pickup, walk away and say nothing to anyone. It's no longer worth the risk to your career to be involved in any level of investigation...

It's sad we have come to this.

Sad, I haven't heard this. Perhaps it's only in your shop. Ab.

2/16 Re: 2,126 staff lost, a cut of $363 million in the Federal Times Article

"We'll most likely manage reduction through natural attrition and by not bringing on seasonal workers,"... Lenise Lago said.

Forest Service budget director Lenise Lago provided those facts on the record without the information that shows how bad FY 2008 will actually be or how the facts are being skewed to meet administration goals through talking points.

As Lago said it, that would mean that each person employed is worth $170,743.18. I wonder how each PERSON in the "seasonal workers" category who will bear the brunt of the budget cuts will take it....? I also wonder how the folks who voluntarily retire take it? Attrition my arse......

I also wonder about how the figure computes well above the level of ALL of the senior SES employees or the with the salary of the Vice President of the United States? VP of the US makes $186,300 per year.....

They are valued at $170,743.18 per person if you follow the administration spin in an official release... but they are only paid at a salary of a GS-2, GS-3, GS-4, and GS-5 and work at various appointment levels.... And be the first ones to be be castaway as new "management efficiencies" somehow make up for deficits....

Something is fudged up and really broken.... That is what is pissing off firefighters and getting them on edge....

Once again, cr@p rolls uphill.....

Higbee
2/16 Ab,

I might not know much about fire behavior or the alignment concept, but
here's a quote I heard recently from a hotshot foreman that rings true:

"Grid for spots at the head of the fire; grid for overhead at the heel."

vfd cap'n
2/15 Firefighters in R3,

Forsgren says;

I assure you that as Regional Forester I will personally stand behind you and your folks in the face of a bad outcome if you fulfill your role and responsibilities “with due caution.” Fire managers and members of Incident Management Teams who act with due caution can answer three questions in the affirmative:

  • Did you have a plan that was consistent with agency policy and guidelines?
  • Was it a good plan?
  • Did you follow the plan?

I know those indicators of due caution have been attacked as “unreasonable expectations.” I see it differently.

(snip) and later

A few final thoughts on the concept of due caution. Fire managers and members of Incident Management Teams who act with due caution always consciously think about and document: their assessment of risk; the steps taken to adhere to the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and mitigate the 18 Situations That Should Shout Watch Out; and implementation of LCES. Line officers who act with due caution practice careful oversight in adherence with the Thirtymile guidelines.

We know that all cannot be documented when fires blow up like in the socal firestorm of 2003. This is the same old rule-bound stuff. R3 has similar unexpected wildfire conditions on occasion. In his own words, this Forester is saying you will not be supported. And now line officers are at risk too.

NorCal Tom

2/15 Harv Forsgren -

I commend you on speaking out to clarify your expectations and insights into due caution and the reasonable aspects of firefighting. However, they did not give me much relief as I struggle with the issues of responsibility and liability currently threatening to burn us over. I don't see much reasonableness in how our actions are analyzed after the fact. Your reference to plans "consistent with agency policy and guidelines" meant having a working knowledge of ALL policies and guidelines. I'm sure you have them ALL memorized. Maybe you meant knowing the most important policies and most of the guidelines, but by posting it clearly as ALL policies and guidelines you have helped set us up. I don't know of anyone who has specifically considered one of the Ten Orders and then purposely ignored it, but I do know that on any given day, at some point in time, someone has been out of compliance with one or more of the Ten Orders. That is a fact. We are set up by those who have trotted out the slogan "we don't bend them, we don't break them" Bad things happen, things are not foreseen, and certain things are certainly not expected. We are to base our actions on current and EXPECTED fire behavior, not UNEXPECTED or within the realm of possibility. Yet we are set up again by you and others who tell us to "include contingencies for the unexpected" and that we should "expect the unexpected".

If that is what you and our leaders truly expect, I expect we are gonna see a huge increase in training budgets so we can fully meet those expectations.

NWRG

2/15 Old Boot,

The Rivera Mesa possible deployment first appeared on 11/13/2006 by
TC on They Said. I am saddened that you haven't heard about it until now.
It was first published for peer review on 11/13/2006 and very few folks
commented.

AL

2/15 HI,

My name is Brian Janes and I work on the Klamath National Forest on the Hotshot crew. I wanted to post a message that this year in the spirit of the 52 club, I will be running a 6 day loop of 220 miles of the Klamath Forest stopping at many of the work centers to spread awareness of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and working to get the entire forest involved.

I am working with the Foundation to spread and coordinate the event, but wanted to post it here so that the word will spread. The date is April 1st to 6th and, even though it is early, the more who know the better. If anyone is interested in more information, please contact me at xtremejanes13 @ hotmail.com (footsteps for firefighters) or contact Melissa at the Foundation. Thanks to all for the support and see you this summer.

Thanks

Brian Janes
Klamath Hotshots

Please keep us up to date on plans. Ab.

2/15 Dear Ab,

Attached is the February 15, 2007 Wenatchee World article about Ellreese's legal defense fund for the criminal charges at Thirtymile. Please note, there is a local reporter now covering Ellreese's plight. We are hoping to get more articles in the newspaper about the affect these charges have on the wildland firefighting community and the USFS in general.

www.wenworld.com/sub/story.php?id=1171568494-490-475

The story did not have the fund address, here it is if you would like to contribute:
Account No. 1000110690
Thirty-Mile Legal Defense and Employee Assistance Fund
Cashmere Valley Bank
PO Box 249
Leavenworth, WA. 98826

And I dropped more letters and cards off for Ellreese today, he truly appreciates this show of support, it brightens this stressful time. Thank you to all who have taken a moment to let him know you care about the difficult situation he is in. If you would like to send letters, here's the address:
Ellreese Daniels C/O
Wenatchee River Ranger District
600 Sherbourne
Leavenworth, Wa 98826

Thank you,
Heather
Retired USFS, Colleague and Friend

2/15 It is with sadness and respect that I inform you that Ken Castro, our
friend and Deputy Fire Management Officer, Intermountain Region, National
Park Service, passed away last night at the hospital near his home in New
Mexico. Ken was strong through his battle with cancer, he was 46 years
old. Ken is survived by his wife Linda and sons Dan and Ian.

The family is working through the details and plans for services will be
forthcoming. I will be traveling to New Mexico today to assist as
possible. Thank you.

Len Dems
Regional Fire and Aviation Management Officer
Intermountain Region
National Park Service

CJ, could you please let the community know about services. Our condolences to his family and friends. Ab.

2/15 news article about Ellreese's missed court appearance:

www.wenworld.com/sub/story.php?id=1171571693-646-747

Story from a Wenatchee World reporter who is now covering Ellreese locally, rather than using Yakima Herald for Associated Press.

HAM

PS - I heard there was a mail delivery difficulty for him.

2/15 Firefighters, if anyone has good high resolution photos of the Firestorm in 2003, could you contact Carey? Thanks. Ab.

I am designing an exhibit for the San Bernardino County Museum titled “Living on the Edge: Natural Disasters in SB County.”

This exhibit is designed to present the history of catastrophic events in our county and ways in which various communities have dealt with them. The SCEC motto of Awareness = Preparedness is our overarching theme. The exhibit is scheduled to open March 16th.

While we have quite a collection of archival images of historic events, we have very little, if any, of contemporary disasters. I am searching for images of the Panorama Fire, Old Fire, and any other recent events in the county.

We are a non-profit museum and the exhibit is designed for general public education and awareness.

The images we need would need to be scanned at a very high resolution for printing and graphics purposes. 30 mgs or larger is preferred at 600 dpi for image trim size 24 x 36 or larger. If you are able to assist us, we would be extremely grateful. All images used in the exhibit will be credited either to the source or the photographer.

Carey Smith, Exhibits Division
San Bernardino County Museum
Ph: (909) 307-2669 ext 239
Fax: (909) 307-0539
csmith @ sbcm.sbcounty.gov

2/15 Date: February 7, 2007
Subject: Thirtymile Fire Legal Proceedings
To: Forest Supervisors, Resource Directors, Staff Directors

Recent legal actions involving the Incident Commander (IC) on the Thirtymile Fire is of great concern to me and other members of the National Leadership Team. Our inability to address the specifics of the situation is contributing to the anxiety being felt generally and more particularly within the fire community. That legally prudent “silence” has caused some, perhaps many, to believe the agency and its leadership is not supporting our employee. As Tom Harbour, our National Fire Director has stated, “we should not confuse a lack of formal messages with a lack of effort to solve the issues.” While I’m still not in a position to discuss the specifics of that case, let me share with you what I can.

Chief Bosworth had two conference calls in late December; one with the Regional Foresters and one with Regional Fire Directors. On those calls he shared his concerns about recent developments surrounding the Thirtymile IC and provided us an opportunity to share our concerns. He wanted to assure us that he was keenly aware of the anxiety within the organization and that his staff was actively working on solutions to some of the root problems. Testimony earlier this week by Under Secretary Mark Rey before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee made public some of the areas of focus. In response to a question from Senator Domenici, Mark indicated our interest in:
  1. Amending Public Law 104-208 to allow fireline supervisors the ability to have the same reimbursement privileges for liability insurance which are now afforded other supervisors, managers, and law enforcement officers.
  2. Proceeding with modifications of policy and procedures that would enable the Forest Service to implement the concepts of “privilege” as used in the military and elsewhere. In essence, this would provide for a “firewall” between our efforts to learn from serious accidents and our efforts to ascertain responsibility for those accidents. This is essential to our ability to get complete and candid information that will help us improve our risk management practices, while maintaining our employees’ rights.
  3. Clarifying the intent of PL 107-203 to allow both our firefighters and our partners the full measure of both lessons learned and any appropriate administrative or criminal charges. That law, requiring the Office of the Inspector General to investigate all wildland fire fatalities, disproportionately focuses those reviews on criminal fault finding.

While these three actions are not sufficient in of themselves to address the concerns of our employees, they are important and significant steps in the right direction. The agency is also looking at other appropriate actions that we may take. As we pursue those actions and as this case plays out in the legal system I want to reiterate my support for those employees making critical decisions in the dynamic environment of fire management. That support, however isn’t a “blank check.”

I assure you that as Regional Forester I will personally stand behind you and your folks in the face of a bad outcome if you fulfill your role and responsibilities “with due caution.” Fire managers and members of Incident Management Teams who act with due caution can answer three questions in the affirmative:

  • Did you have a plan that was consistent with agency policy and guidelines?
  • Was it a good plan?
  • Did you follow the plan?

I know those indicators of due caution have been attacked as “unreasonable expectations.” I see it differently.

Some believe it is unreasonable to expect ICs to know all of the relevant policies and guidelines. I believe it is leadership’s responsibility to select ICs that have the capacity to learn those policies and guidelines and then see they get the appropriate working knowledge. If we fail to provide this foundation for our ICs we share responsibility and need to be held accountable for undesirable outcomes.

Some have derided the expectation that there is such a thing as a good plan – basically suggesting there is too much that is unpredictable to have a good plan. I believe that is baloney. To take their argument to the extreme there would be no need for a plan at all; we would just wing it and react to the situation. My standard for a good plan is one based on available information, one that demonstrates reasonable consideration of safety risks, and one that had a reasonable chance of being effective when formulated. A good plan includes contingencies for unexpected changes of circumstances. A good plan is one that is understood by those expected to carry it out.

Some have criticized the expectation that the plan be followed as “mindlessness” – that such an expectation would lead to increased safety risks. Again I see it differently. Certainly in the dynamic environment of wildfire suppression it is essential that we use an adaptive approach to management. That is what situational awareness is all about. But in my mind that is part of execution of a good plan – deviations from – or more accurately adjustments to – a plan should be driven by “new information.” In the absence of new information we follow the plan. To do otherwise is the kind of chaos or lone-rangering that leads to tragedy.

A few final thoughts on the concept of due caution. Fire managers and members of Incident Management Teams who act with due caution always consciously think about and document: their assessment of risk; the steps taken to adhere to the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and mitigate the 18 Situations That Should Shout Watch Out; and implementation of LCES. Line officers who act with due caution practice careful oversight in adherence with the Thirtymile guidelines. I don’t believe this “due caution” threshold is particularly high. Because of the commitment to safety throughout our fire management organization meeting these criteria is the norm.

In closing, I ask that you personally help me communicate this information to your employees. I’m proud of the professionalism they bring to fire management and the invaluable service they perform on behalf of our country. At the same time, I understand the anxiety of those employees and wish to validate the basis of that anxiety. I will continue to share additional information as it becomes available. Please feel free to share this with all of your employees in your unit.

Sincerely,
/s/ Harv Forsgren
Regional Forester, R3

2/15 This was held up in process. It was supposed to come in yesterday morning. Ab.

Lobotomy - thanks for translating your original statement. I'm still not sure how it applies to my comments from 2/9 though. At no point did I express the perfection of the WCT, in fact, I made note that it does have flaws but at this period of time it is more relevant than previous tests. My comments were directed to people saying things like "the pack test is dumb...goodbye" (not exact words). I simply was referring to people who complain and then do nothing about it. You apparently are working very closely with people on improving the effectiveness and safety of the WCT. Thank you for that work.

If people just logged on and wrote "Forest Service is dumb...goodbye". I would find that a bit annoying as well. This is not the case for most of the postings, as we can see from things like a bank account being established in Leavenworth and people investing time to create the IAWF online survey. These people saw something they didn't like and they took action to work towards a solution. Kudos.

In regards to me listening to "elders", again in my original posting, I stressed my belief in the importance of TRAINING and education. Obviously if I felt I knew it all I would not be such a big fan of training.

Perhaps there would be more volunteers for Ride-Alongs if the invitation was not preceded by statements involving guns and knives.

TO ALL - My original comments included a touch of sarcasm but perhaps the new Microsoft software lost that in translation. I will be sure to wear all my PPE next time I express my opinions in this venue or for that matter enter my nearby WalMart. Thanks again for the entertaining and informational discussions.

That One Guy

Do we need a (sarcasm firmly planted in cheek)? haw haw. Ab.

2/15 On another issue of interest, The MACK II Fire of September 19, 1971 and the subsequent "Investigation Report" could have been written within the last few weeks and been discussed the same way we are doing it on They Said without folks truly listening and/or learning.... but the Mack II report hit on an some openly known and reoccurring latent factors that the investigators freely acknowledged and identified and offered suggestions for correction as far back as 1971..... but fell on deaf ears of people who could make changes and step up.

After reading the report above, any recommendations on a different way of communication in 2007 would be appreciated?

"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." (Lobotomy, 11/14/2006, They Said)

See also... Lobotomy, 10/01/2006 on They Said (prior to the Esperanza Fire) where many of us got fact checked on a personal basis right in the middle of the chest....

Lobotomy et al

2/15 Ab,

I was reading with some interest the message from JA Kendall Snell which
(I think) was meant to reassure the troops that management is behind them
(a position which doesn't necessarily engender trust). His parsing about
"immunity" and "privilege" was confusing - how about clarifying if
"privileged" conversations can be used later on in criminal prosecutions?
If so, how do these fancy pants semantics help create a "blame free culture"
that will improve firefighter safety?

The medical community has a long tradition of self examination in a
protected environment, free from the prying eyes of oily investigators and
other self righteous types: it's called M&M or "Morbidity and Mortality"
conference in which the medical mistakes of the past month are meticulously
dissected by a group of peers. In my state, the conferences are protected,
not discoverable legally. They can get pretty raw sometimes, and no quarter
is given to the truly boneheaded, but the purpose is to reach a consensus of
what the root cause of the incident was, and what steps need to be
implemented to prevent it from ever happening again.

Joe Hill
2/15 Fire Dept Pack tests:

I would like to point out that not all fire departments feel that there is no value in the Pack test. My fire Department not only does it for the season, we also feel it a good way to gauge cardiac fitness. we do it every year, for everybody, after the required medical eval. and having been subjected to both the step test, and 1.5 mile run, feel it a great tool.

what it comes down to is this, If you not going to pt between seasons, not take care of you body, your risking your own cardiac health.

so, until something better comes along, I will take the pack teat until i can no longer pass, and I know that will happen some day.

thanks for the rant
Firerev

Firerev, you're not in socal, but further east. There are many fire departments in SoCal also that do the Pack Test. Ab.

2/15 Re: FY 2008 Forest Service Budget

> From Federal Times

"The Forest Service would lose 2,126 staff, a cut of $363 million. "We'll most likely manage reduction through natural attrition and by not bringing on seasonal workers," said Forest Service budget director Lenise Lago."

Strider

This came in yesterday evening. Good catch. I see this morning that this info is in my local paper and the article finds fault with Bush's budget for the FS. Good work to those getting out the details on how the budget actually translates to the ground. The article even made the point that preparedness decreased while suppression increased and that preparedness is what keeps small fires from getting large. Thanks for educating Congress, FWFSA and theysaiders. Ab.

2/15 Domaque,

See Dick Mangan's post on 2/3 regarding the 12 deaths. While it is not
a scientific journal, I feel They Said is one of the best peer reviewed areas
to explore different ideas, and to discuss and learn.

Lobotomy
2/15 Rivera Mesa deployment

This is the first I've heard of this entrapment, and I find it very disturbing. There's an awful lot to be read between the lines about issues on this forest, this crew and unit cohesion. Given the background crew & fire situation, the fact that the very near miss was not brought to light for a week really makes you wonder if this is a script from the 'Soap Network' or a modern times fire situation. Very bad juju. These are the kind of scenarios which might have been accepted as were not all that unusual in the 60's and 70's, but are chilling to hear of now.

Old Boot.

2/15 Fallen: Structure guys. Brothers all the same.

www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2007/02/14/firefighters-memorial.phpl

Smokedawg
2/15 Domaque,

Not to be too picky here, but you misquoted what Lobotomy said.

You said that he said, "Simply said, the Work Capacity Test (WCT) currently has killed people preparing to take and/or were taking the WCT".

What Lobotomy actually said was, "Simply said, the WCT currently has killed people preparing to take and/or were taking the WCT (with or without apparent underlying etiological factors ESPECIALLY without proper PRE- WCT assesments."

Even though Lobotomy can't spell assessments or figure out how to use spell check, many people have recognized that there is a need for better screening before the WCT is attempted, and that a re-assessment of the positions that are characterized as arduous, moderate, and light is needed.

Tahoe Terrie

2/15 AB

Regarding vfd cap'n response to Lobotomy. vfd cap'n put words in Chief Clayton's mouth. He never said they were not anchored.

I do believe many fires have burned around "anchor points" anyway. The Chief was just saying they saw an opportunity and took it, not a suicide attack. Actually the true definition of Kamikaze is "divine wind" or "god wind"; not a suicide attack.

Engines were there and plenty of air resources, there or on the way in. He was not trading anything but saved acres; for some good hard IA work. Sounded like a consensus from all the Brass and the Engine Bosses too.

The way I see it, with that terrain HUGE safety zone (the black) if there had been a wind shift; which was unlikely. Just needed to hit it before the wind did; as it moved uphill.

Must understand; helo water close, RAAB not to far away; a valley accessible to engines etc.
Gotta know your territory and your IA resources.

ht

(my 2 cents)

2/15 A Bro....,

If someone gives you an "A@@ chewin for jumpin on ya"... I'll be on it. I don't take offense to people who are discussing topics in a heated and very personal setting.... but rather I listen, learn, evaluate, and move forward and discuss. We are human for all sakes.

"A Bro" I've got your back as do many others even though you were critical towards my view this time.... But I disagree with your statement that "I am bummed that our friends die on a yearly basis and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it"..... You and others can make a difference through:

1) Training, Education, and Experience,
2) the Wildland Firefighter Foundation,
3) Other groups such as the IAWF, FWFSA, and NWSA, and
4) the Lessons Learned Center.

Lobotomy
2/14

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

Tomorrow is the last day to take the IAWF online survey. Read Bill Gabbert's message. Please take it, if you haven't done it already. Let fire co-workers know. Results will be out on Feb 20th.

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

Also, Casey suggests it's time to focus again on educating our congressional reps. Read Casey's message. Send him info (cjudd@ fwfsa.org) or call him (208-775-4577) and let him know who (that is, what positions) on your district are applying for other non-fed jobs in fire. Ab.

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

Happy Valentine's Day!

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

2/15 A "Concerned Firefighter",

You struck a nerve, I think I speak for many professionals across the board when I say quit bawling and buck up. Most of us still have pride and high standards. You have no right to expect to be an exception, for any reason.
My first question to you would be what it is about the WCT that you are concerned about? If you are a capable and deserving fire fighter, why would you resent the need to have physical standards? I personally do not want to ever have to work with, supervise, or work for someone on the fireline who is incapable of passing the WCT. Which is easy! In my experience, (27 years) individuals who have low personal (physical) standards are invariably much more of a liability in the woods than they are an asset, no matter how smart or experienced. No fftr who is in pathetic shape should be on a fire, they hold their colleagues back, and we performers do not like waiting for or worrying about, where folks like you are because you can't keep up. My job as a smokejumper, does not require me to lift weights, do wind sprints etc. I do it to be in good enough shape to pass the smokejumper PT test, which is also not a requirement of the firefighting job, it is a test to demonstrate that I can do that job to our standards. The WCT is the same way for arduous FFTRs, only it is comparatively easy. Quit whining, learn some shame, start working out and grow some standards. If your problem is that you are just getting old, pursue moderate positions, where your obviously superior intellect and experience can still be beneficial to the rest of us. I'm thinking Logistics, Finance, Plans, etc. Seriously, those are important, in demand positions with a growing shortage of qualified participants. It is not just about how much line you can dig. You also need to cover ground, at times in a hurry, over all kinds of terrain in order to be effective, without being a drag to your peers. Get in Shape! (and educated)

Eater
2/14 Date: February 14, 2007
Subject: Actions Related to Thirtymile Incident PART 2
To: Forest Service Firefighters in the Pacific Northwest

I wrote to you on January 18th about issues surrounding Ellreese and the types of remedies families and agencies have related to tragedies. On February 2nd the Chief announced some of the actions the National Office is working on to address agency support for firefighters. Briefly these are:
  1. Making professional liability insurance available to fire line supervisors.
  2. Working to clarify the law that requires the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigation when a Forest Service employee is killed by a burn over or entrapment. (PL 107-203).
  3. Laying the foundation for the agency to implement ‘privilege’, which should not to be confused with ‘immunity’. Briefly, this means information gathered during safety investigations can not be made public. The military and other agencies have used privilege and courts have ruled in favor of keeping information private. This will take both internal and external support and will require a culture change (i.e. time), but not a change in law.

These are positive actions; however, I wanted you to know that even if we are 100% successful with implementing these and other actions, the agency can not completely protect you from criminal prosecution. The threat of criminal prosecution is in all careers: military, law enforcement, medical, and life in general. Only case law will define what courts will do with the actions and decisions we make in a very dynamic and challenging situation.

There are many things we can do to improve the working environment for the wildland fire firefighter. For example: We need to continue to provide a rewarding career, a learning environment, good training, and access to help when needed; We need to continue to improve our training courses; We need to work with partners that have the same or similar goals. To that end, I’m currently in a dialog with the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association to help improve the working environment of the federal wildland firefighter.

Issues related to recent tragedies are distracting. Each of us needs to find ways to work through these uncertainties and focus on preparation for the 2007 fire season. Your local Fire Management Officer is a good source for help. I will continue to pass along information as it becomes available, but I suspect the actions the National Office is working on will take time.

/s/ J. A. Kendall Snell
Director, Fire & Aviation Management, Region 6

2/14 "A Concerned Firefighter" - ain't it a b*tch when your own words come back to bite you in the arse? You self-righteously told "Domaque" to "come educated", but then stepped all over your self when you wrongly state that Brian Sharkey at MTDC was a "contractor". WRONG - is not, and never was! He's a GS employee like most other Feds, except he was hired under a Faculty Appointment MOU with the University of Montana, where he was a Professor.

You state so knowingly that you have never seen a fatal burnover or accident investigation that said that a person would have survived if they were in better shape: I've done a few burnover and fatality investigations over the years (Dude, South Canyon, Cedar Mountain, Buchanan, Sawtooth, Shepard Mountain, etc) and I feel very strongly that in some situations, the physical condition of some individuals contributed to the event. Can I prove it unequivocally: no, that's why it was not written up in those reports. We reported facts, not gut-feelings! For an interesting read, look at the investigation of the "Calabasas Fire" in LA County in 1996, and see if physical fitness may have been an issue in some burn injuries (fortunately, non-fatal).

City Fire Departments aren't doing the WCT, you're right! And their Unions bear much of the credit/blame, since their firefighters are dying of heart attacks while sleeping in their bunks, polishing fire trucks for parades, or directing traffic at an incident. I served on several NFPA Technical Committees in the 1990s, and heard the IAFF Union rep argue that we must re-certify PPE manufacturers every year, but remain immovable on re-certifying his Union members with ANY kind of a fitness test, not just the WCT. Concern about the firefighters, or afraid to upset the overweight, out-of-shape members that paid his salary?

Age is a fact of life for all of us, firefighter and civilian. Bad knees and backs are not caused by a 45 minute test once a year since 1998: if our bodies (yours and mine) don't want to perform now at the same level as when we were 20, maybe we shouldn't be out digging line anymore. Seems like 14-16 hours a day for 14 days is a lot more concern than the WCT, unless a person really "dogs it" on the fireline? I take the Moderate level test and go out as OPS or Safety, 'cause I know this old body ain't intended to cut too many more feet or chains of fireline anymore, let alone miles for day after day!

There was a tremendous amount of input from field fire folks doing the development stages of the WCT, and most agreed that carrying heavy loads (like 5-gallon water bags and/or hose packs) were important parts of the firefighter job, even if it wasn't in your job description. Last I read them, the Smokejumper job descriptions didn't say a word about doing Pull-ups or Sit-ups, yet they've tested for those over many years! Necessary to do the job? Probably.

There's a lot of emotion about the WCT: I'd recommend that folks who are interested and concerned start by following the advice of "A Concerned Firefighter" and COME EDUCATED: read the reports about the development process and the scientific studies that served as background material, then bring your comments to the forum along with suggestions for improvement! Don't destroy your credibility with the first incorrect statement you make.

Dick Mangan

2/14 OK you R5ers and others, here's your chance to "educate" folks in DC.

I recently received a letter from Under Secretary Rey stating in part "no widespread problem with firefighter retention has been identified." (the same nonsense we heard from OPM in the summer of 2005).

Sort of like the recent comment from the WO that the militia is a "myth."

Thus, according to the Agency, those of you having staffing issues, retention issues etc., and are formulating ways in which to correct these problems...have no problems at all.

We can deal with this a couple of ways.

I have faxed a copy of the letter to Kathrene Hansen of the Federal Executive Board and will quite candidly contact Mr. Rey's office to inquire as to whether he would, in fact, like information on the "nonexistent" retention problem.

Those of you who are in a position to have the facts can either provide the information to me and I will remove names, or... simply contact Mr. Rey and suggest he look at certain Forests and find out why his Regional leadership is keeping him apparently in the dark about retention.

Mr. Rey can be reached at:

Fax: 202-720-0632
Ph: 202-720-7173

Don't use Gov't phones & faxes. It's time to speak up. Or perhaps you could inquire with your RO as to why Mr. Rey is unaware of retention problems plaguing your area.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/14 domaque:

Come educated before saying the pack test is the greatest thing. One the pack test was developed by a contractor who based his theories on a Canadian paper on V02 max. One preventable death is more than enough. A person at wal-mart might as well be at home and they're not taking a non job related test that can kill (there is a difference). The real sad thing is You could be next you never know, is it really worth it? If you had ever seen on a Job Hazard Analysis that says taking this test could lead to death, would you take it? Especially for a job that pays what!! to a Forestry Technician. You have never seen on a fatal burnover or accident investigation anything that said the person would have survived if they were in better shape. The agency only uses this test to relieve itself of any responsibility and liability. (what an employer) That's the hard truth.

Do you see any city fire department going to this? NO because of the inherent dangers and city FDs have a much better unions that would not allow its employees to be subject to this.

Let's get to the root of this mess. In fire as we grow older we AGE - it's natural. Everyone AGES differently. The basic fact as we grow older doing the job we do are body's break down, knees, back. We shouldn't be trying to kill the very experienced employees the feds should be trying to keep. Instead of seeing them going to city and state fd's just to get and easier higher paying lifestyle.

The last factoid I leave you with is this. Brian Sharkey invented this little so called walk you take. Openly admits it's faster than a normal human being walks. If you consult the test guide lines it says to only walk. Any fast walking is considered jogging or running. A person who generally walks goes anywhere between 2.5 to 3 miles miles an hour. most are running by the time they get to 4. NOWHERE in my job description does it say; I must be able to carry 45 pounds of flat ground or uphill at a 4 mile pace. THIS TEST IS NOT JOB RELATED.

If the agency is concerned with my health. (I realize it's not and feels firefighters are a dime a dozen) They would send me to a physician and EKG me every year to see how heart healthy I am, Instead of how cheaply they can come up with a test to see if after I'm done still pushing air and haven't destroyed my back or knees.

a concerned firefighter
2/14 Lobotomy,

For years now I have watched, listened and learned from your past comments and opinions. Most if not all of what you have had to say on this forum has been educational, positive and sometimes inspirational. What happened? I find it hard to swallow when we as a fire service family resort to he said she said attitudes. I look up to folks like yourself that are obviously at the BC level or higher that can and do make positive changes for all of us in the fire service, regardless of agency worked for. Just from reading your posts on this site I know that you are a sincere fired up dude that cares about his troops and would do anything to protect and educate them. It's also obvious that you stick your neck out to see that all of us in the fire service get what we deserve ( pay, respect, etc..). I appreciate what you do and whom you battle with and for on a daily basis. I kinda look up to you in this forum for wisdom through difficult times we are all facing. All I hope to see is for your positive leadership to continue and hope you will not take this advice from a 32 year old engineer in a wrong way. I know personally that when you stick your neck out for the right reasons, sometimes, sometimes folks will scoff and judge every comment that was made. I also understand that the battles we face, (Fires, politicians or ourselves) can and will always be difficult. I am bummed that people have passed away during the pack test, I am bummed that our agency has turned it's cheek on us as a whole, I am bummed that our friends die on a yearly basis and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it, I am bummed that hiring isn't in our hands anymore, I am bummed that our leaders don't listen to our seasoned folks on the ground anymore..........My point.....?......Stay the course bro....Continue to be positve, continue to kick A@@, continue to listen to all of us regardless of age or time in the service, even though you may not agree, listen. Its the folks like you that will someday help make the changes that need to happen. I expect a A@@ chewin for jumpin on ya, but I respect you and what you have to say and offer all of us. Take care bro.....

Signed,
A Bro....
2/14 Man after all of the training we see get and here people are still not
sticking to the basics.

Riviera Mesa Entrapment Report (doc file)

Signed watch your own A$@

2/14 To Lobotomy,

You have stated "Simply said, the Work Capacity Test (WCT) currently has killed people preparing to take and/or were taking the WCT". That seems like a non-sequitur to me. The WCT did not kill those people, their underlying health conditions did. If someone dies of a heart-attack while shopping at a Super Wal-Mart, we don't say that Wal-Mart killed them. I will agree that The exertion of pushing all of those great deals around in a cart may have exacerbated the condition and caused its onset of the heart attack, but Wal-Mart did not kill him. Insert the WCT into that last scenario and I feel the same way. I agree that an effective screening before taking the test is necessary, and, if indicated by the screening, other tests to identify health risks.

I think the WCT is the best test so far. I have been subject to both the Step test and the 1.5 mile run, and I feel that the WCT better reflects the job. ( I can still do the run even though I hate it!) Are there any statistics on deaths occuring while taking any of the above tests?

If 12 deaths have occurred while taking or practicing for the WCT over the years since its implementation, how does that stack up to other causes of death for wildland firefighters? I tried to do a little bit of statistical analysis, but since I got a D in that class, I gave up. It seems that we loose more to auto accidents and burn-overs than to the WCT. I recall that there are studies on structure firefighters that follow them a lot older than most wildland firefighters. Are there any studies following retired wildland firefighters?

In your last post, you referenced (Mangan 2007). I assume it was a paper on death statistics on wildland firefighters. I am unable to locate it on google. Could you post the title?

Thanks,
Domaque.
2/14 Lobotomy,

I did accept your offer back in December. I am looking forward to the field
trip this summer.

On another subject that I probably don't have the "educational, experience,
and research background" to comment on:

I encourage folks to take a look at the cover of the Jan./Feb. issue of
Wildfire magazine. Two things caught my eye. The first was the dramatic
cover photo, that has me wondering what the hell those firefighters are
trying to accomplish with an 1-1/2 line on a fully-involved structure with
shake-shingle roof that's already torched off?

The second thing is the heading, "IAWF Update: Thirtymile Charges
'Counter-Productive.'" On page 5, the highlight from the article talks
about "a more conservative and less aggressive approach to suppressing
wildfires" and "...more acres burned, more homes and other structures
destroyed, and greater fire suppression costs to the taxpayers."

According to James Reason, all organizations have a protection/production
relationship that changes over time. The Thirtymile charges will be
"counter-productive" by skewing that relationship towards the protective.

Take a look at the Union-Tribune account of the Nov. 30th Open Fire near San
Diego, www.signonsandiego.com:80/news/northcounty/20061201-9999-7m1fire.phpl

During the upcoming fire season, how many IC's are willing to be quoted as
saying "We kamikazeed the hell out of it" in committing "everything we had"
to the head of the fire without an anchor while relying on aerial resources?
Maybe it's just a poor choice of words, but an IC should never be willing to
trade firefighters for acres or structures.

We can stand to be a little more counter-productive.

vfd cap'n

vfd cap'n, if I failed to play the middleman appropriately, I apologize.

Re the fire near San Diego: That fire went "out of alignment" and the CDF IC recognized that and hit it. I hope other ICs would be able to recognize such opportunity in the future. Ab.

2/14 Lobotomy,

Chill out a little, brah. I agree with vfd cap'n that your response to That One Guy sounded condescending and arrogant. If 12 years in this biz doesn't earn you enough credibility to post opinions here, we're all in trouble. Besides, some of the smartest people I know are relatively young and short on fire experience.

We're all on edge right now. Things are a friggin mess and it looks like it is fixing to get even worse. Let's direct our righteous anger and energy toward the politicians and political appointees and traitors within the Forest Service who are responsible for making our profession more dangerous than it ought to be, not each other.

Misery Whip
2/14 vfd cap'n,

My offer still stands..... before you quote me directly, or comment on "my comments" on things that I have been actively studying, please take up the offer of a 2-7 day ride-along to see what my educational, experience, and research background really is or contact me directly (through Ab).

That One Guy,

You asked,

"Were you implying that you think the WCT is not an effective assessment tool?
Or, do you believe that spending money on off-season temp training is not the best
use of funds?"

Neither..... Simply said, the WCT currently has killed people preparing to take and/or were taking the WCT (with or without apparent underlying etiological factors ESPECIALLY without proper PRE- WCT assesments). With 12 deaths so far (Mangan, 2007), more research and study needs to be done to prevent further deaths and create a Work Capacity Training program that minimizes the risks (includes death, injury, and removal of qualified fireline leaders from fireline duties where they can ultimately prevent death, injury..... etc... but their positions have been misclassified as arduous..... when they should have been moderate and ANOTHER accident causation path is made.... and so forth... and so forth.... ).... how is that for a run on....

It is actually a pretty complex problem with many variables.... I wasn't implying anything other than there are significant problems with the WCT program that need more expert peer review than the "one person" who verified and quantified the WCT program beyond what the developer can substantiate.

Lobotomy

2/13 Re: Do more with Less... aka (13% Reduction with WFPR Fy 2007)... aka "Management Efficiencies"......Lessons Learned from the past that don't meet the muster when compared with facts....

"Ed's" can do attitude and agency line scares me..... While filled with messages of hope and longing for the ways "we" have made things safer... His message is factually flawed from the Foundation of his research where the his thoughts for safety began... it is rife with messages that speak of Washington Office talking points that come from the Chiefs Office, the NRE, and the USDA... and eventually the President's Budget that don't factually look at what is going to happen with another budget reduction.

New Forest Service chief gets rough treatment in Congress

"This is a rough and, in my view, a very unworkable budget," said Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., chairman of the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee.

"I feel sorry for you, having to support this 'let's pretend' budget," added Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., called the land sale plan "totally unrealistic" and said, "It's certainly not going to happen in the current Congress."

Kimbell and Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who directs U.S. forest policy, said the land sale plan makes several changes from last year. Most importantly, it would ensure than at least half the revenue from the sales would stay in the state where the land is sold.

Rogue Rivers

2/13 There are several new employment ads posted on the Jobs Page from California, Idaho, and Utah Private, local, state, or federal, the ads work for all. One current advertiser wrote, "my program managers are impressed with the amount of out of state applicants for our seasonal positions, who have seen the ad off your site".

If you are considering submitting an ad, the longer you wait, the lower on the list it will be. . .OA.
2/13 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.
2/13 From Firescribe:

Indicted fire crew boss misses court date in marijuana case AP 2/13

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_WA_Thirtymile_Fire_Pot.phpl

2/13 Ab note:

Good morning All,

We'd like to welcome Eagle Gear as our newest advertiser and supporter.

Eagle Gear began in 1989 with a great concept for a low-profile pack from a creative smokejumper, Robert Early. Since then, they have made it their goal to provide the most innovative, comfortable, and durable packs in the industry. Backed by a lifetime warranty, Eagle Gear packs and webgear will last season after season. See their newest, innovative products & news on their website at www.eaglegear.com.

Their contact information along with a link to a downloadable catalog are available on the Classifieds Page under Personal Equipment.

2/13 Re: Lobotomy's response to 2/9 response to That One Guy:

"Never bring a knife to a gunfight"...... especially a dull knife...... Class Titled: Risk Management 101. Having only 12 years as a wildland firefighter, I would suggest you listen a little more to the elders.... my bad.

I'm not sure exactly what point you were trying to make here, but your attitude seems to be that younger firefighters have the "dull knife" and should not speak up about safety issues. Reminds me of the AFMO who wouldn't listen to the ICT4 and lost his life as a result on the Devil's Den Fire.

vfd cap'n
2/12 Hey all,

I just returned from my refresher training here in Montana, and I just wanted to sent out a MAJOR KUDOS to a gentleman named John (you know who you are). He came to our district and gave a presentation on his experiences in the Little Venus fire entrapment. Fortunately for us, this was the best learning in hindsight presentation we have been given. He was honest, and a compelling and educated speaker. Since I have been working for our (unnamed) district, I have been putting fire entrapment anniversaries on our cache board, and providing multiple copies of the entrapment reports for reading materials during downtime. This presentation, however, was better than anything I could have ever provided. He discussed every aspect of his experiences, including the all important FEELINGS he experienced. I am glad to see that management made sure our temps were there, as well as many district militia (timber, silviculture, trails, and even NEPA specialists were there) regardless of the cost for them to travel and take a day off from their normal jobs. Although there is a black cloud hanging over the Agency with the issues surrounding the 30 mile incident, I felt a little hope that there ARE members of my immediate leadership without their heads in the sand. To add to this, there was also a VERY FRANK discussion on liability, insurance, doctrine and personal responsibility.

In short, I know now that my management has enough interest in MY future to make those sometimes harsh discussions happen!

Kudos again John!

Montana Firefly

Excellent. Ab.

2/12 Unemployed- Lessons Learned:

For all you "old timers" watch out for the potential new requirement to have your job applications IN THE HANDS OF HUMAN RESOURCES/PERSONNEL by the CLOSE OF BUSINESS the day the job announcement closes! It wasn't listed all that well in the "how to apply" section: so watch out!

No longer is getting it postmarked and IN THE MAIL by the closing date correct all the time. Be sure to find out before you apply. Good luck everyone trying to get hired this spring: it's gonna be tough!!

Liz in TX

2/12 Mollysboy,

It would probably be best to let Tina do her job her way. I'm pretty sure she knows what she's doing and sufficient "Experts" lined up for her case. Mr. Daniels will be judged by a jury of his "Peers" but I don't think the jury will have any members with a wildland fire background if the prosecution has anything to say about it. And jamming up the court room with people in yellow shirts and boots could go against Tina as members of the jury could take that as a sign of intimidation. Let the judicial process work and this case may set a precedents beneficial firefighters in the future. I'll be flying to Washington for the trial.

Shoshanna
Attorney
Montana
2/12 Sting:

Parker will not be put on a sand table hot seat by any defense attorney. He is not on trial here.
What a good defense attorney can do is show that, ” …. all of the well documented distractions, human factors and "What if's” are …” shown to the judge and jury in a manner that encourages identification with the complexity of the issues. This could be done by placing an acknowledged senior fire ICT3 or above on the stand and questioning them on the difficulties involved in this type of job.

Now Parker's worthiness and diligence as an investigator may well be worth a serious cross by the defense.
How many other fire burnovers have you investigated?
Doesn’t the OIG have anyone who has?
Is your lack of knowledge in this area why it took so long to bring charges? And so forth.
So while Agent Parker will not be put on trial, he can be questioned as to his competence as an investigator in this field.

“Shouldn't the jury be "of his peers"? Peer by definition: A person(s) who has equal standing with another or others, as in rank, class, or age. I could objectively hear the case and arrive at an unbiased decision. (I have served twice on juries)”

Peer by legal definition is not a fellow fire fighter. Essentially it is a fellow American Citizen in good standing and without prejudice. Doctors, lawyers, police officers, bus drivers etc. don’t get a jury of their buddies. For good reason. As you probably know from your time as a juror, it is usually rare to get even one juror with substantial knowledge or background in a trial relating to that area.

Our founding fathers intended that no group get any special treatment in the judicial process. Peers are our fellow citizens as we walk down the street. I submit that the countries that don’t observe that basic premise, as part of their rule of law, are not worth living in.

Fuels Guy

2/12 Lobotomy -

I was curious about your comment suggesting that I was "bringing a knife to a gun
fight". Were you implying that you think the WCT is not an effective assessment tool?
Or, do you believe that spending money on off-season temp training is not the best
use of funds? Thanks for the clarification.

That One Guy

2/11 Sting - great idea about bringing 420/520 into the US District Court in Spokane; it would give new meaning to a "trial by a jury of your peers". If you ain't walked the walk, you can't sit in judgment of them that have!

"Kicks" - more good insight into all the weak points of the Government's alleged case.

From some first-hand knowledge, I know that Ellreese's Federal Public Defender Ms. Tina Hunt is well aware of many if not all of the shortcomings of the case that USDA-OIG Special Agent Parker and the US Attorney have brought. Ms. Hunt has a boatload of well-experienced fire folks lining up to help Ellreese's case, and will be conducting interviews with many of those folks in the coming weeks and months.

In the interim, until the charges against Ellreese are heard in open court in the full light of day, the rest of us wildland firefighters can probably be most effective by writing letters: contact your Congress-people and your local newspapers; write the Secretary of Agriculture (Mike Johanns) and his Inspector General Phyllis Fong about Special Agent Parker; let the US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, and Washington State US Senators Cantwell and Murray, know what you think about the US Attorney in Spokane that brought these charges after 5 years. And don't forget to fill out the IAWF Survey before Thursday so that the Federal Agencies know the implications of these charges - they need ammo to talk to Congress.

A few people can make a major difference: the Senate race in Montana was won by Democrat Jon Tester by a slim margin because of the efforts of wildland firefighters seriously upset by the comments of Conrad Burns. Tester's victory gave the Democrats control of the Senate. The rest is history waiting to be written.

We can make a difference for Ellreese and for changing PL 107-203 to protect firefighters from similar bogus charges in the future. The ball is in our court, and we must take action, or live with the consequences.

Mollysboy
2/11 Re: Thirty Mile,

Thank God we're not beating a dead horse! Here's another hole in the OIG's
prosecution. Bear with me on re-printing the statute for clarification purposes.
I've put pertinent material in "bold".

-CITE-
   7 USC Sec. 2270b
-EXPCITE-
   Title 7 - AGRICULTURE
   CHAPTER 55 - DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
-READ-
   Sec. 2270b. Department of Agriculture Inspector General
   Investigation of Forest Service firefighter deaths
-STATUTE-
   In the case of each fatality of an officer or employee of the
   Forest Service that occurs due to wildfire entrapment or burnover,
   The Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture shall
   conduct an investigation of the fatality. The investigation shall
   not rely on, and shall be completely independent of, any
   investigation of the fatality that is conducted by the Forest
   Service.
-SOURCE-
   (Pub. L. 107-203, Sec. 1, July 24, 2002, 116 Stat. 744.)

So there it is, IF the OIG used (relied on) any material(s) produced through
the Forest Service's investigation in order to conduct "his" own "independent
investigation", contrary to this statute, those materials should be deemed
to have been illegally obtained, ie, inadmissible.

Next step... I'm taking a wild stab at it that Special Agent Parker, et al, used
the work product of the Forest Service investigation in order to, at the very
least, have foundational information in order to proceed with their OIG
investigation. Under the "Fruits of the Poisonous Tree" doctrine, "any" evidence
gained through the use of illegally obtained evidence is deemed to ALSO be
inadmissible. If the OIG wasn't privy to, or didn't obtain, evidence and reports
through the proper manner(s), then any of the OIG case material gotten under
the guise of PL 107-203 mandate should stand to be suppressed through
pre-trial motion(s).

Additionally, Miranda, or more specifically lack thereof, might play an
interesting role in the admissibility of statements. In Vietnam, there was the
case of an NVA sniper who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. He was
more of a nuisance than anything. The GI's decided to NOT hunt him down,
and instead put up with him, because they were worried that he'd get replaced
with someone who could really shoot. Yes, that one was for "you" Mr. Parker.

Hey! If any of you are able to attend Ellreese's court proceedings, "if" the
court makes a decision that the wearing of Nomex would appear prejudicial to
the jury, you might consider wearing a nice suit, along with your White's,
Drew's, or Nick's, etc. as an obvious but "lower key" show of support. I think
that the press would really run with that.

As always, Stay Safe!

"Kicks"

2/11 Ab,

Some thoughts on the eventual Thirty-Mile court case.
  • Pre-trial: Have the Defense attorney get Parker to play the hot seat on a Tactical Decision Game / Sand Table Exercise as the Incident Commander of the fire. Since he is so knowledgeable about fire ground leadership and confident in Ellreese's guilt, what would he have done based on his experience, situational awareness and all of the dilemmas?
  • Make sure all of the well documented distractions, human factors and "What if's" are thrown in by the facilitator/role players.
  • Have the judge and each juror take turns in the hot seat.
  • Have the jury participate in the Staff Ride that was developed for the fire. The whole thing can be reasonably re-created, even with the actual participants. They will see "things are not always what they seem" when reading an investigation report or 5 years later as memories soften.
  • Maybe it's time for the Federal Fire Service to develop something similar to the Military's "Uniform Code of Military Justice" and their Courts Martial procedures.
  • Shouldn't the jury be "of his peers"? Peer by definition: A person(s) who has equal standing with another or others, as in rank, class, or age. I could objectively hear the case and arrive at an unbiased decision. ( I have served twice on juries )
  • There is too much at stake for Ellreese and the rest of the fire service, a new approach is needed

makes you think doesn't it?
a student of fire and leadership,

sting

2/11 Vicki,

I was going to offer a personal thank you "for all that you do" in Garden Valley last Sept. but you were engaged in conversation with Rowdy. A belated Thank You "for all that you do". With the cold weather, and then the panty fire in the local laundromat, it looked like your business was booming. The Lord, He works in mysterious ways.

Casey,

While the "retroactive" application of Pub. L. 107-203 appears to be a prime argument concerning the Thirty Mile prosecution, there is another key point that I'm seeing. Again, it falls "behind" the retroactive application, the second part of Pub. L. 107-203, specifically 7 USC Sec. 2270c. Submission of Results

-Statute-
As soon as possible after completing an investigation under
section 2270b of this title, the Inspector General of the
Department of Agriculture shall submit to Congress and the
Secretary of Agriculture a report containing the results of the
investigation.

In studying the statute, it does not appear to provide the OIG any authority to "personally interpret" the findings of the report, to make any decision as to remedy, or provide "him" any authority to prosecute the matter. Those matters would appear, under the statute, to fall further up the food chain. PL 107-203, as a Swiss Cheese Model, appears to be mostly air.

On a related matter, in Aug. 2001, I was up on the Colville in Washington state. Having read the preliminary Thirty Mile reports, I spent some time trying to "reinforce" the absolute importance of proper deployment site selection with the "kids". That was gleaning something from the loss of the firefighters. Lessons learned so their losses would not be in vain. These days, when we're in jeopardy of prosecution, firefighters will be forced to "Lawyer up" instead of providing the lessons. That should prove to be the biggest tragedy of all.

Here's something we really need to mull over here on They Said. Over the years, we've practiced "buddying up" in the shelters BUT the potential of having an untrained civilian as an additional occupant hasn't seemed to come up. Imagine a situation on the fireline where it's hit the fan and everything's going south. Now throw in a civilian or two that need "rescuing". Major monkey wrench! As the span of control diminishes, the best option might be to rely on your more experienced people. Sounds good on paper doesn't it? Now, what do you do with the civilians? Obviously, life safety is of prime importance. IF you assign the civilians to certain firefighters, where do you stand if the civilian panics during the deployment while sheltered up? That, with the wrong timing, can lose you a firefighter. Would you give the civilian a firefighter's shelter and then double up a couple of your firefighters? Might be a more prudent (and more firefighter safe) idea? In a water rescue, if the person gets combative, you let them go unconscious and then try to save them (or just knock them out). Maybe we could hit the civilians with a heavy stick in order to "save them". These days it might be worth it, especially if they're going to sue us anyway. Seriously folks, we need to bang this one around.

"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men." Abraham Lincoln

As always, stay safe!

"Kicks"

2/11 Here is a letter from Ed Hollenshead, R-5 Fire Director.

Rod Altig
Gorge FMO, R6

~~~~via Ken Snell, R6: fyi. From the Ed in Region 5.~~~~

Folks...

We are all aware of the many issues and challenges swirling around fire and aviation management, both nationally and in our own Region. Many of these issues strike a deeply personal chord and we, as the leadership of the Region 5 Fire and Aviation program, have influence to the extent that we can instill confidence that leadership is indeed in place, listening to the concerns of our firefighters, and active in addressing the issues. As individuals and as the Board of Directors we are doing that, despite unprecedented challenges to our creativity and commitment. We are not ignoring the issues or hoping for better times... all of us are engaged in bringing about necessary change. We understand that if there is to be relief, if there is to be an improvement in our capacity to accomplish our mission, we have the collective obligation to exercise the prerogatives and responsibilities we have been given. It won't happen over night, but I am here to tell you it IS happening. Let's spend a moment and take stock of what we and this agency are doing to address some of the daunting issues before us.

The specter of the Elreese Daniels indictments permeates many of our discussions and concerns. There are many unknowns to us, and there are those that are willing to fill the voids with rumor and innuendo. What we do know is that the voice of concern extends from the firefighter on the ground to the highest levels of our agency and Department. It has been heard in the Halls of Congress, and they are sympathetic. We, our new Chief, our Under-Secretary, and our national leadership are working to remove the burden we and those that look to us for leadership are carrying. It will take time, and the end state is presently unknown. If one looks at the facts, there is ample evidence that a positive outcome will result.

On the heels of our own tragedy, individuals and teams stood up to support families, friends and co-workers in a manner that was awe-inspiring. The values we hold dear came through in a most obvious and powerful way. I was humbled and gratified by it all. It is said that tragedy yields to strength, and we have seen ample evidence of that strength. We are united, we are strong, and we are focused on what is right. Beyond dealing with the overt effects of our tragedy, a number of you, your Forest Supervisors, and others have raised the consciousness of influential community leaders and elected and appointed officials as to our concerns relating to the unknowns surrounding accident investigations, criminal investigations, and the like. These efforts have already yielded some fruit, both inside and outside the agency, and will gain momentum as time goes on. As I reflect on the strength and commitment of this Region, I am unabashedly confident in the outcome.

At the same time, there is unparalleled expectation that we do our job more efficiently... that we accomplish our mission with fewer dollars. As the largest program in the country, our efforts and performance are the most visible, we have the largest share of the responsibility to find balance and to achieve efficiencies. We have already stepped to the plate:

  • In 2006 we established and implemented a strategy to address long-term fire suppression management. That little document has been used nationally to address and to a degree satisfy OMB and our critics. It has given us more credibility than we could have imagined.
  • Our approach to Stewardship Fireshed Assessment leads the nation as a comprehensive and objective means to maximize the efficient expenditure of fuels treatment dollars. As we combine this science with community acceptance of their responsibilities expressed in Community Wildfire Protection Plans, we will see a steady increase in momentum that will protect communities and reduce the risk to our firefighters
  • Our decision support capacity is unparalleled, and we have demonstrated our ability to use it wisely. We are being asked to assist the national office as they wrestle with the dilemma of developing an efficient means to allocate firefighting resources across the nation
  • We have undertaken the task of streamlining the Regional Office through reorganization and realignment of our efforts to achieve maximum benefit and reduce costs. Already we have identified over $6 million dollars that will be added to the discretionary budget that can be applied on the ground. This effort will well situate us to achieve the latest direction to realign 25% of our RO operating cost to the ground, without creating a crisis
  • We are working to reduce the costs of our airtanker operations by reducing the number of bases, yet maintaining our capacity and response times. We are coordinating with our communities and our cooperators to ensure they understand and have confidence in the outcome
  • We are leveraging our excellent cooperative relationships to improve our infrastructure at South Ops, while reducing costs at the same time
  • We are establishing a renewed cooperative relationship with the line officers of this Region through the development of the Region 5 Line Officer Team. Patterned after the national "LOT" the focus is to develop capacity in the line officer ranks, improve communications, and achieve additional efficiencies

Another issue that has been of concern for some time now has been hiring of personnel. Many of the influences have been outside our control. But despite the difficulties, we are improving our participation, ownership, and commitment... and are focused to overcome our hiring backlog by May 1. While there are still issues of process, there is an obvious commitment to overcome them.

My note could go on for pages to describe the challenges we face and our responses to them. But that is not the intent. What I've provided is evidence that we are united in our commitment to maintaining the best fire management organization in the world. We are blessed with a mission that affects the strength of this nation and the health of its people. We have an awesome responsibility, and incredible opportunity and latitude to meet it. This important mission makes us unique in fire management, and I embrace that. We will respond to these many issues that are currently on our plate and those to come. We will make the hard decisions, be transparent in doing so, and ensure they are focused on protecting our members, maintaining our capacity, and continuing our excellence. Our commitment to every member of this fire management organization is that they will be well trained, well equipped, and well lead. Every individual will be given the opportunity to achieve their goals. Every member of this organization will be able to contribute to their highest level of capability. We will increase our performance by releasing the creative genius of our workforce to exercise their judgment and initiative. We will be guided by sound principles, directed by consummate leadership, and driven by a shared purpose.

These are the facts. I want you to share them, along with your perceptions and expectations, with your people.

Keep your SA sharp...

-ed-

2/11 Lucky Lindy's wife is telling wintertime stories on familysaid. Ab.
2/10 trying to keep the C in LCES,

My apologies.

Rogue Rivers
2/10 The board has been very serious soooooooo, Here is some humor to lighten your day.
In the national news, danfromord admits that he is the father of Anna Nicole's baby.

Ya cut 16 chains, waddaya get
a bad case of Oak and a Predinsone drip
Squad Boss don't ya call me cause I can't go
My feet are so swollen that my boots won't fit
:>)

What do you do on a rainy day?
Dan
2/10 Dear Fish & Mollysboy:

Mollysboy is pretty much on point. Part of the problem is that the law is rather vague. In the opening part of the legislation leading to the law, it states:

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

However section 1(a) seems to expand the intent by stating:

"In the case of each fatality of an officer or employee of the Forest Service due to wildfire entrapment or burnover..."

Inferences could be drawn that an investigation is required, not just with firefighter deaths, but those of others, perhaps fire ecologists and others. Again, the intent is vague.

Let's face it. The specificity of the law as relating to Forest Service employees demonstrates the intent of the legislation/law being to respond to the needs of the families lost on Thirty Mile. The fact that the legislation/law was written by Washington state congressional folks validates that point. However, given that this issue is even in criminal court should lead those from other land-management agencies to be wary of "motivated" overzealous prosecutors looking to make a name for themselves.

Therein lies one of the problems with this law... it was simply not well thought out and failed to look at the bigger picture.

The application of 107-203 to Thirty Mile "retroactively" is a concern, as nowhere in the law does it authorize the legislation to be applied retroactively to Thirty Mile or any fire. Despite this lack of authority, the OIG Investigator clearly states his reliance on 107-203 to support his investigation into Thirty Mile.

The OIG Investigator also states that he worked "in concert" with the US Attorney's office and I believe you ask how that nexus developed.

The US Attorney's office is also relying on a less publicized statute (at least in the public commentary on Thirty Mile): this is Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 51 Homicide, Sec. 114 Protection of officers & employees of the United States and amended subsequent to 9/11.

This statute in part says

"Whoever kills or attempts to kill any officer or employee of the United States or of any agency in any branch of the United States Government (including any member of the uniformed services) while such officer or employee is engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties, or any person assisting such an officer or employee in the performance of such duties or on account of that assistance, shall be punished-

(1) in the case of murder, as provided under section 1111;
(2) in the case of manslaughter, as provided under section 1112; or
(3) in the case of attempted murder or manslaughter, as provided in section 1113

Let's not be naive. This law, amended post 9/11, is designed to focus on terrorists in this country or those who support such activities. To apply it in the case of Ellreese Daniels is unconscionable, irresponsible, an abuse of the law and stinks of political ambitions on the part of the US Attorney. At the very least, it is an extreme stretch to apply the intent of the law in the Thirty Mile case.

We have offered that assessment to the President and US Attorney Gonzalez in a letter last month. We also have corresponded with Phyllis Fong, USDA OIG on her department's "retroactive" application of 107-203; Mr. Parker's continual reference to his reliance on the Forest Service investigation ( a violation of the law) and actions which he continued to display while on the Esperanza scene.

Further, we have asked her department to define the parameters/policies/procedures it has developed to conduct such investigations under the law and have asked Congress to explain what its intent was in seeking a report from the USDA OIG's office, i.e. once they get such a report, what will they do with it.

All of this has led to the dialogue during last week's Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee during which Sen. Domenici (R-NM) raised this issue and Mr. Mark Rey, answering for the Administration, offered concerns and recommendations... never mind the same concerns and recommendations the FWFSA took to the Forest Service 2 1/2 years ago and which fell on deaf ears.

So... hopefully this explains a bit on the application of the laws and how the US Attorney & OIG's office seem to be working together on this mess.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

2/10 AB,

At this point in time, this is what I can confirm:
  • The R5 travel net license was not renewed for 2007 and the R5 "hotshot" nets.
  • "The 5 frequencies everyone is referring to (in the 150 mghz range, i think) were never
    authorized at the national level, for use in any region, which is probably why there is an
    issue with using them." That is correct too.
  • The National IHC nets are still useable.
  • AM frequencies are going to be available, just not the same ones; new ones will be
    issued. They are not trying to compromise anyone's communication; they are just trying
    to get control over the frequencies that are being used and make sure we are in
    compliance with the FCC.

R5 Dispatcher

2/10 During the last class of the wildland fire academy yesterday, Rob Holt informed us that
there is a new system in the works that would individually rate the success of firefighter's fires
by how quickly the fires that they IA are put out.

This appears to put a huge hole at the organizational level in the swiss cheese model, leading
to an increase of risk to firefighters. And most disturbingly, this would appear to go in the
opposite direction of where the agency should be heading and that is WFU and appropriate
suppression tactics.

With budgets getting smaller, it looks like the only way to efficiently treat fuels at the landscape
level is to let some fires burn. A lot of the nor cal fires ie; orleans, pigeon, bake, had less than
15% high severity. Does anyone know anything about this?

klamathman

Thanks for the heads up. Ab.

2/10 Ab

I have been researching the FCC for any information on changing allocation in the VHF Hi Band (150 to 174 MHz) and find nothing; other than the Narrowbanding that USFS is doing.

Big changes coming in the 800 and new 700 MHz bands but that is all planned and known (or developing) stuff. Pulaski's Dept. may be 800 MHz and got caught up in the reallocation there. If in the VHF, it possibly was done in the area by a local Frequency Allocation Group which can distribute frequencies within FCC set guidelines; in the FAG's area of influence.

The FCC usually gives many years notice before they change anything. The local FAGs may make changes more rapidly but everyone involved will (Should) know.

Regarding monitoring, FCC does listen, but usually only if there are complaints of some kind.

ht
2/10 Ab,

From the leadership website, www.fireleadership.gov, check out the new publication "Leading in the Wildland Fire Service" link below the "Updates and New Features" box.
A Must Read.

Also, a link to the Marine Corps University leadership continua as a reminder to see where each individual falls into the picture. Just replace "Marine" with "Firefighter"
www.mcu.usmc.mil/lejeune/ldc.php, My personal thanks to the U.S.M.C. for letting us into their world.

A great place to start for those Forest Service Line Officers, RO and WO managers who desire to be leaders.

compliments of a student of fire and leadership,

sting

Thank you, sting. Ab.

2/10 Readers:

I have heard through the grapevine that they are into the thousands of responses to the IAWF online survey. Since there are only about 16,000 in the wildland fire workforce nationwide (including Forest Service, BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA; AD firefighters; and "militia"), the more people who respond to this, the better picture the WO, Congress, etc will have for the upcoming season.

Please get the word out to fire friends across the country. Be sure to send it to our essential militia, as well.

I love this grassroots stuff! Thanks to Bill and IAWF.

(Ab, please add: The R5 Director, before he retired, told me that of the 16,000 wildland firefighter workforce nationwide, there are 4,300-4,500 who work in fire from the R5 Forest Service alone.)

Mellie

PS Ab, could you please post again the IAWF Director Bill Gabbert's message:

We want to thank everyone who has already taken the survey about the fallout from the Thirtymile fire legal issues. The response has been overwhelming. If you have not taken it yet, be sure and have your voice heard. The last day to take it is February 15. The survey can be found at http://tinyurl.com/yo7nj6 More information is on They Said and also on our web site at www.iawfonline.org/ in the "IAWF News" section. If you don't take the survey, you don't get to b*tch about the Thirtymile fire situation. :-)

The results of the survey will be available February 20.
Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire

2/10 RE: Radio frequency change

There could be some something to the radio frequency change that is the current topic. I don't know whether the same kind of changes have been implemented in R5 yet.

In my state we did have a huge radio frequency re-allocation occur on a statewide basis. I don’t know for sure, but it sure smells like it is something that came down from above (IE: Homeland Security / FEMA). Although a few of our old mutual aid frequencies had a tone added or the usage intent changed, we didn’t loose the availability of any frequencies, they were just all renamed & regrouped to fit a grand scheme. In the end we actually ended up with additional frequency options.

The unfortunate thing is that this came down the pike within a couple months of our fire season with little time for wildland agencies and FDs to have all radios reprogrammed and get used to the changes.

Pulaski
2/10 Re Frequencies:

Ab note: I emailed the posters who contributed to the frequencies thread in an effort to find out what is the truth here, since R5 Comm and Boise Comm seem to be telling different stories. Let me say that there is no "bad guy" here. There is simply a question asked and answered by several people and they've been told different things. [Educational message for Jaime who asked about latent systemic or organizational problems some time back: In my opinion, confusion over communication frequencies might be an example of a "latent systemic problem" that could affect firefighter safety if allowed to persist, that is, if not clarified before you need the frequency.]

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

From Hotshot Dad:

Ab,

My money is on this being a rumor. I suspect someone,
somewhere got spanked and threatened with the age-old
"$10,000 FCC fine" for using an unauthorized
frequency. User programmable radios can lead to
"bootlegging" a frequency, for whatever reason.

The FCC does not go around "yanking" frequencies. It
just does not work that way. Re-allocation is a long
process with hearings ad-nauseum.

I would think the NIFC Communications Duty Officer
would be aware of any such action as that office
coordinates and assigns incident frequencies at the
national level. This office also assigns
Communications Coordinators to support a specific
geographic area.

Hotshot Dad

2/10 From trying to keep the C in LCES

Rogue River said...

"trying to keep the C in LCES",

I talked with a someone in the Regional Comm Shop... They then contacted the FCC directly.... neither the Regional Comm Shop from Region 5 nor the FCC have any knowledge about what you are talking about.//
*Both the FCC and the Region 5 Comm Shop says the frequencies were not lost and are still available for use.... just simply a rumor*.....
Any more info to contradict this??? If not, let's call off the dogs.

>"Rogue River",

>Your response to my post seems a bit harsh, don't you think? It feels as if you are posting a rebuttal in a debate. I have simply posted information that I have in response to some earlier posts on the board. Given that, I don't see the need for hot words to fly about it.

>I pasted my original post in below, with a few additional remarks. Perhaps a second look will make clear exactly what it is that I have to offer on this subject.

From R5 Dispatcher

Re Concerning Frequencies:

"Not only have crew freqs been retrieved by FCC, R5 (Pacific Southwest Region), Travel Net has also been retrieved. FCC is tightening the usage of Freqs big time this year. We are trying our hardest to keep the AM freqs for IA right now with the radio shop in Boise"

>This quote is not mine. It is one of at least two prior posts on this subject, both of which spurred me to look into this. In fact, one of the posters screen name definitely lent some credibility to the statement. Perhaps I should have credited the original poster, and for that I apologize.

All quotes (indented text) from "trying to keep the C in LCES"

AB,

I was extremely concerned about this when it was first posted. Couldn't imagine why they were taking this critical tool away from my crew. So I spoke with the folks at the comm shop in Boise (National Interagency Incident Communications Dept.) about this.

>I never said that I spoke with the R5 comm folks. Only with the National Comm shop, where the National IHC crew nets come from. The regional comm shop may or may not have been able to answer the question that I was asking. I never asked them since I found the answer to my question at NIICD.

They stressed the need to make a distinction between the 5 frequencies that were in use in R5, and the National IHC crew nets.

>I am of the opinion that they stressed this distinction only in order to determine whether or not they where able to correctly answer my question.

The 5 frequencies everyone is referring to (in the 150 mghz range, i think) were never authorized at the national level, for use in any region, which is probably why there is an issue with using them. However, the 4 National IHC frequencies where authorized, and are not subject to FCC removal.

>This last piece is as close to word for word as I can recall from a 10 minute conversation 2-3 days ago with the National Interagency Incident Communications Dept.

Before anyone jumps on me about this, send an email to the comm shop. They were quick to reply, and happy to answer my questions.

>Rogue River, I hope that your information from the R5 shop is true. I hope they know something that the National shop was/is unaware of. I hope those frequencies are still available for use. This job is hard enough these days without worrying about FCC violations to go along with every other concern.

trying to keep the C in LCES

My thanks "C" for the time you took to look into this and the time you're taking to clarify. Communications are critical. If Boise Comm and R5 Comm are not on the same page in their reporting of available frequencies, we need to know well before we need to use them, so alternative arrangements can be made. Alternatively, if this is a rumor and all is as it was before, we need to know that. Clarifying such issues is what this board is about. I hope that someone (not necessarily you "C") will call Boise and get them to provide the definitive word on this. Ab.

2/10 I'd just like to say congratulations to all the fine young men and women who graduated from the Wildland Fire Fighter Apprenticeship Program this afternoon. Over 200 graduates heard the words from Craig Barnes, BLM, and Tom Harbour, USFS. I was impressed by the camaraderie and cohesiveness from these young people who came together from all over the US to spend 2 month over the last two years training to become the future leaders of our Wildland fire community. Good luck and stay safe!

Fire mom

Nice message. Ab.

2/9 Hi All,

A bank account is now up and ready for Ellreese Daniels, to help with his defense of criminal charges. His lawyer, Tina Hunt, thought there will be incidental financial needs such as lost time from work, travel, overnight stays, court apparel and bringing his family to Spokane for the trial. Court related costs are paid by the Public Defender's Office. Note - we have broadened this fund, just in case a future need arises to support other employees associated with Thirtymile Fire, who might require assistance and/or a defense. The fund is governed by four people (2 retirees and 2 community members). If there are excess funds, money will be given to the Wildland Firefighter Association in Boise, Idaho. Here's some info from our charter:

"A legal defense and employee assistance fund has been established to provide financial support to Forest Service employees (current and former) who need assistance to respond to administrative and criminal charges."

Checks should be made out to "Thirty-Mile Legal Defense and Employee Assistance Fund"; put the account number (1000110690) on the check and send to:

Account No. 1000110690
Thirty-Mile Legal Defense and Employee Assistance Fund
Cashmere Valley Bank
PO Box 249
Leavenworth, WA. 98826

Special Note: for active USFS employees, please DO NOT distribute this fund-raising information within internal email systems, as it would be an inappropriate use of government equipment. That said, for those of us outside in the private sector, it would be OK for us to send to FS employees from our home/personal computers.

Thank you for considering helping Ellreese; having friends and support is an incredible force.

Take Care All,
Heather
Retired USFS
Private Citizen, Colleague and Friend

2/9 "trying to keep the C in LCES",

I talked with a someone in the Regional Comm Shop... They then contacted the FCC directly.... neither the Regional Comm Shop from Region 5 nor the FCC have any knowledge about what you are talking about.

Both the FCC and the Region 5 Comm Shop say the frequencies were not lost and are still available for use.... just simply a rumor.....

Any more info to contradict this??? If not, let's call off the dogs.

Rogue Rivers
2/9 Thank you to the person who told me that one of my goals is not attainable.

I was told that Frank Rios could not be added to the National Fallen Firefighters
Memorial because his death happened prior to 1988.

My remaining goals are the same.

Gizmo
2/9 RMS,

Glad to see you are around and still contributing. I spoke with a Doctor friend of mine and he thought your treatment was dam* near criminal in nature.... well outside of the Standard of Care for the 21st century. I will paraphrase his thoughts below.

A Stress EKG should not to be used during a possible (probable) myocardial infarction (MI)!!! It is an important diagnostic tool to evaluate if there are any irregularities that exist prior to an MI, and to be an indication of underlying problems that could lead to an MI in the future, but should not be used as a tool to confirm whether or not an MI has occurred.

With the signs and symptoms you were explaining, they should have treated it as worse case and began proper treatment. Before the cardiac enzymes test came back, they should have treated you based upon your signs and symptoms....

Maybe if you had completed a Stress EKG "before" the event, different results or outcomes may have been seen? Remember, you never completed the full Stress EKG.

That One Guy,

I remember a good quote that an old LEO friend of mine used to say (now retired)..... "Never bring a knife to a gunfight"...... especially a dull knife...... Class Titled: Risk Management 101. Having only 12 years as a wildland firefighter, I would suggest you listen a little more to the elders.... my bad.

Lobotomy
2/9 I don't want to beat the horse that is dying and I've looked at fatalities that have occurred in wildland firefighting and noticed that some folks have perished during the "pack test", but the province of Newfoundland and Labrador has recently put a number of their folks interested in out-of-province export through the "pack test". These folks could not go through their family doctors to get clearance healthwise to participate in the pack, but had a government appointed doctor put them through a screening process that ensured that a family physician didn't simply go along with a "hey doc, sign this".

I don't know the process south of the 49th. I do know one thing though, our competitive nature doesn't allow us to target 45 minutes, it pushes us to be "better than buddy". Hey dudes and dudettes, target 44 minutes and leave yourselves that 1 minute safe zone.

Smokedawg

2/9 Fish - you need to read PL 107-203.

Several things: first, it's not ALL Fed firefighters that are covered under this law; just USFS firefighters that are killed in a burnover/entrapment. Seems that Senator Cantwell and Rep. Hastings didn't give a damn about the NPS, F&WS, BIA or BLM Federal employees that might die when they passed this Federal law!

Second, the Law says that the USDA-OIG will conduct an investigation independent from the USFS of the event, and issue a report to Congress and the Sec of Ag - - - not Alberto and the boys at the Department of Justice who hire the US Attorneys. Doesn't say that the USDA-OIG has to have investigators that can spell "fire" let alone understand wildland fire suppression operations!

So, you ask incredulously, how did the US Attorney in Spokane (who's rumored to want a Federal Judgeship) and USDA-OIG Special Agent Parker get involved in a fire that occurred more than a year BEFORE PL 107-203 was signed into law? Inquiring minds would like to know too? As us old military types would say..." a target of opportunity"? Fire at will.

Mollysboy

Title 18 Law, post 911. They wanted part of the action? Ab.

2/9 RE PLI:

PLI... as I read about it in this forum, I notice that folks are using
PROFESSIONAL Liability Insurance and PERSONAL Liability
Insurance interchangeably.

The Wright and Co. insurance that I carried that covered the on
the job issues was PROFESSIONAL Liability Insurance. I believe
there is a difference.

One would do well to check the coverages ....

yactak

Thanks yactac. Even I was getting confused. Ab.

2/9 hey fish,

if you are a homeowner it might be cheaper to get an
umbrella policy under your current homeowners plan. i
got a better rate, better coverage, and a single point
of contact for pli, auto, homeowners, and rv and boat.
i carry up to $750,000 for lawyers and $2 million for
liability and lost wages, and wage compensation for 3
years due to any adverse action.

jd

My only comment is that this kind of fed law is so unique that a regular pli lawyer might not understand how the game is played. Ab.

2/9 Contract County Guy and MJ,

A few comments about Personal Liability Insurance (PLI) and the non-Federal responder. I've been looking into the same thing for my agency in light of my personal responses on a Fed team. MJ, the link you posted lists the rate for Fed employees, not county or local government. Any idea on prices for those agencies? Is it the same?

Someone recently posted that the OIG investigation is not triggered by a fatality on a Federal responsibility fire, it's triggered by the fatality of a Fed while on a fire. To my pea brain, that means that should you have a large incident in your jurisdiction and a Fed strike team gets burned over there is going to be a criminal investigation. Possibly if a Forest Service engine gets in a wreck on the way to your fire there will be a criminal investigation. That should be a concern to all agencies anywhere that run automatic or mutual aid with the USFS. Local chiefs should be up in arms and working through the political systems themselves to have the law rewritten.

Fish

One poster some time back said the ADFA made an agreement with wrightandco for professional liability insurance. If true, other deals are likely to be struck. Contact them and ask. Ab.

2/9 Re Concerning Frequencies:

"Not only have crew freqs been retrieved by FCC, R5 (Pacific Southwest Region),
Travel Net has also been retrieved. FCC is tightening the usage of Freqs big time
this year. We are trying our hardest to keep the AM freqs for IA right now with
the radio shop in Boise"

AB,

I was extremely concerned about this when it was first posted. Couldn't imagine why they were taking this critical tool away from my crew. So I spoke with the folks at the comm shop in Boise (National Interagency Incident Communications Dept.) about this.

They stressed the need to make a distinction between the 5 frequencies that were in use in R5, and the National IHC crew nets.

The 5 frequencies everyone is referring to (in the 150 mghz range, i think) were never authorized at the national level, for use in any region, which is probably why there is an issue with using them. However, the 4 National IHC frequencies where authorized, and are not subject to FCC removal.

Before anyone jumps on me about this, send an email to the comm shop. They were quick to reply, and happy to answer my questions.

"trying to keep the C in LCES"

2/9 Hey Kicks, I want to respond to your post Re: ThirtyMile.
We sent Bruce and Paula Hagemeyer a letter asking them -- if, indeed, it was true that they "were
not in it for the money" and that they were "just doing it to help firefighter lives be better" -- would
they consider stepping up and making a donation to help firefighters. It's been over a month and
we have not heard from the grateful couple.

On another note, THANKS to all of you... who have done so much for the Esperanza Families!

Thanks for all the support...

Vicki

haw haw.

2/9 VFD Cap'n,

The S-290 CD-ROM might have been removed as an item you can order from NIFC, but it still shows up as an allowable course in the December 2006 version of the NWCG Field Managers Course Guide. This means it can still be presented in this format. I agree this isn't the best way, but with declining budgets, some of us just can't afford to send everybody off forest. This is not your regular self-study, a supervisor still has to oversee the course, administer the unit quizzes, and the Final exam. It's not the best way, but it does give us another option in the tool box.

-MJ

2/9 To AB, directed to all,

I hear discussion's on "Stress EKG's" quite a bit and each time it brings
back a twinge in my chest. There are a few folks that seem to think that
this particular test is the answer in preventing someone from being
stricken with a heart attack while being administered the WCT. Although I
do believe it could possibly detect an obvious irregularity in the way the
heart functions in an individual, there are times when this isn't the
case. Let me give you an example or let's put it in a scenario.

December 18, 2000, roughly 0650, while in the process of getting dressed to
go to work, I started experiencing a pain in the upper middle area of my
shoulder blades. It felt like a pinched nerve so at first it was no big
deal. I just attributed it to after effects from packing around a 066
chainsaw with a 32 inch bar for 2 weeks on a "contour falling fire rehab
project". Within a matter of minutes the pain progressed with a feeling of
nausea and anxiety. At that moment I knew what was going on, I was having a
heart attack. It wasn't so much the pain, but the feeling of distress.
By the time I walked over to the other room to let my wife know of my
problem, both of my arms at the same time started to radiate with pain. It
felt as though I had to constantly stretch and crack my knuckles, a most
uncomfortable sensation.

We lived in a fairly small town so the trip to the hospital was only 2
miles and at that time there were only two stop lights, in which I urgently
expressed to my wife that we will not stop at any red light this particular
morning.

Once in the hospital, the emergency room attendees did the norm, I
assumed. Blood pressure, blood tests along with a EKG test, but nothing
showed that I was having a heart attack. By that time I requested a trash
can for the nausea explosions and something, anything, for pain relief. They
administered morphine and give me two nitro pills, to no avail. The nitro
ended up in the trash can. After four slams of morphine in my thigh I was
starting to tolerate the pain to the point where a baggy sufficed instead
of a trash can.

Here's the kicker. The doctor felt a "Stress EKG" was needed to see if, in
fact, I was having a heart attack -- remember nothing was showing that I was
indeed having this attack. My symptoms were not the text book symptoms, but
I knew and, believe me, I relayed to them I knew. Anyway they plugged me up
to the EKG machine and away I go on the tread mill, full of morphine (5
slams now) and a baggy in hand to throw up in. After a few minutes I'm up
to a slow jog and after another 8 minutes I'm telling the doctors enough is
enough. Here's the doctors reply, "Go ahead and stop, because you've
passed the test, no irregularities". My god, I need to lie down. Well, I
survived the test and now I'm finally on a morphine drip system, all's
good. It wasn't until 2100 that evening that the blood tests showed that I
indeed did have a heart attack.

December 19, 2000, transported to a Salt Lake Hospital for a stint
procedure, it was a "no go".

December 21,2000, open heart surgery with six bypasses. Two with 99%
blockage, two with 85% blockage and two with 50% blockage.

My age at the time was 45 years old, my weight was 185 and 6 foot in height
and I did smoke. I was one of those dogs that would sit at the top of the
hill waiting for the crew to arrive smoking a non- filter Camel. I started
my adventure with the Forest Service back in 1975 on the Cleveland N.F.
Worked on a hotshot crew for 4 seasons and on engines for 15 seasons. We
worked hard and played hard, so I'm assuming it just wasn't just the
cigarettes that lead up to this attack.

So, my point is the "Stress EKG" could bring on a false sense of security
and I do feel there's a need to investigate other options. If you didn't
catch it, I passed a "Stress EKG" in mid-stroke of a heart attack.

I know I don't want to go through that again to prove a point, even though
unintentional. By the way, I made it back to work for fire season 2001 as a
Center Manager (detailed), just to keep me off the line temporarily. I
still chuckle on that decision. I've moved on and I've taken the Arduous
test every year sense. Still walking with the dozers..............

RMS

Glad you made it OK. Genetics are also a big factor. Ab.

2/9 Ab,

On the subject of S-290 -

The cd-rom was removed from the NIFC publications catalog in November, 2006. Several regions have increased the classroom 290 instructor requirements to needing an IMET to teach the weather units.

It took us 6 months and 4 agencies to get approval for use of a National Weather Service IMET for our 290 class this week - going from Pueblo to Kansas City to Denver to D.C. to Boise, and finally the blessing sent back to Pueblo. On the other hand, we have students from New Mexico and Arkansas enrolled in the class.

290 and several other 200-level courses aren't just for local delivery anymore.

vfd cap'n

2/9 Contract County Guy,

Go to www.wrightandco.com, they have all the info on Professional Liability Insurance. They only charge $292 per year, from April to April, and in the USFS, we get reimbursed for half if we buy it a year at a time, for those who supervise in our regular jobs, though there is movement to include those who have supervisory Red card quals. It is a 1 Million dollar policy for liability, $10 grand for Identity theft, and 10 grand for Accidental death or dismemberment. $292 for a year doesn't seem that much anymore to feel better, most folks can make that in one or two days on a fire. It helps me to sleep better at night now that my Agency wouldn't back me if something bad happens.

-MJ

2/9 Dear Ab - I just wanted to comment on two topics that have come up frequently.

#1 The WCT. My complaint is: Quit complaining. It seems like everyone always says the same thing "I don't like the pack test." Or something similar to that. In a perfect world we would have a perfect work capacity test. The reality is, we don't live in a perfect world. If we made our test more difficult (like the Canadian version with hose and pump carrying) then people would complain, Oh it's too hard. Right now I would venture to guess that most people feel it is too easy. The objective of a "test" is to measure the aptitude, understanding, or the ability to perform a certain task. In the pack test example we should determine what is the objective. We are not required to wear heart rate monitors and it is not a timed event (in the case of a race for example; someone who completes the race in 35 minutes is faster and therefore better than someone who finishes in 40 minutes). The desired outcome is to finish the test in less than 45 minutes, period. So the objective is: walk 3 miles and do not die. Most of the time the desired result is found. Unfortunately, there have been a few fatalities and that is extremely tragic. I feel terrible for the folks who have mentioned in They Said - they would like to continue doing the pack test but their hips and joints won't allow it, the deserve to be on the fireline. On the other hand, I feel that if the requirements (time, weight, and distance) were relaxed or loosened then we would be getting other people passing the test and put in to service and putting other physically fit fire fighters into danger. I have witnessed several people who did not pass the WCT. In the examples I witnessed, it was a good thing, they did not deserve to be on the fireline. As far as the comments about a moving scale for weight (i.e. a 130 lb. person carrying less weight than a 200 lb person) - that doesn't solve anything. On the fireline when gear is getting divided up would you say excuse me - I only need to carry two lengths of hose because I am lighter? No. A pump, a saw, and cases of MREs do not come in different weights for different people. 45 pounds is not a lot of weight. Five gallons of water in a pack, a few rolls of hose, my dog, all these things weigh about 45 pounds and it is not unreasonable to ask someone to carry this amount of weight over a FLAT three mile distance. Instead of just complaining about how lame the pack test is why don't you suggest an alternative? This test is just a basic evaluation. Other crews such as smokejumpers, hotshots and some rappel/helitack crews have additional, more strict testing that they complete. Someone who is going to drive a tender shouldn't need to meet the running requirements of a smokejumper. These crews realize that the WCT is just a basic test and they test for more real world scenarios with their own supplements. The WCT is best option we have at this time.

#2 Paying for temp training. I want to say Congratulations to the Las Vegas employer (whoever it is) for paying for their temp employee to travel to Washington to obtain some S-290 training. Yes, there is an approved S-290 CD-ROM but sitting at home on your computer with a disc will not give you the same learning experience as sitting in a classroom with other living and breathing firefighters. I could stay at home and download videos from YOU tube and learn how to snowboard without ever seeing snow - but I guarantee you that if I paid a little money and got training from a paid instructor at the ski hill I would be a much better snowboarder in the end. It's bad enough that a temp employee doesn't get health coverage, retirement, or the respect they deserve - do you really need to take away the training too? I personally have spent over $4,000 of my own money (as a temp) to attend training in the off season. It's disgusting that I had to do that. I'm glad I got the training but I think the government should spend more on their quote "temporary" employees. If you treat something as temporary then don't be surprised when it disappears.

Much respect to all those firefighters out there - thanks for all the good discussion. Training is never a waste of time - Complaining for the sake of complaining, is.

P.S. - This will be my 12th fire season so I have done a few pack tests. I don't enjoy the shin-splint inducing walk either but I throw some extra weight in my pack and try and get done as soon as possible just to get it over with.

Signed, That One Guy

2/9 Re: Wildland Firefighter Frank Rios, Bailiff Fire, October 1967.

Through various means, I have been able to track Firefighter Rios' roots back to the Tohono O'odham Nation (Formerly known as the Papago Nation) in southern Arizona.

As many of you will remember, Firefighter Rios was fatally injured on the Bailiff Fire of 1967 and there is no written record or memorial dedicated for his service (See post on December 20, 2006).

In an effort to honor his sacrifice, several folks are working to gain additional information so that both he and his family can be properly honored and remembered through "stories" and remembrance.

Here are our simple goals:

1.) Firefighter Frank Rios' name added to the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial,
2.) Firefighter Frank Rios' name added to the California Fallen Firefighter Memorial,
3.) The family of Firefighter Frank Rios to obtain a statue from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for their loss,
4.) That a written record documenting and honoring his sacrifice becomes available for lessons learned, and
5.) A local memorial is erected to honor his service and his family's loss where the story can be told.

Thank you to my CAL FIRE friends for getting me focused again.

Gizmo
2/9 Dear Ab, I have just recently been a lurker on your
board- it is fantastic! Thank you and please
continue. I would like to respond to 2-cents comment
on flying temps to training and the cost effectiveness
of it.

'2-cents, I think it is a bit disingenuous to
suggest that temps are getting some sort of free ride
if we pay for their travel costs for training. CD
training is great if there is someone with the proper
experience present to act as a soundingboard, but how
many perms are willing to do that for free? It seems
to me that the fire community as a whole gains huge
dividends by aggressively training temps while they
are temps. The more time that we invest in them, the
better the whole program is, and it creates an
incentive for people to apply for perm positions. If
we want to run a cost analysis on something, why not
look at bucket drops on dead fires, hoarding resources
and the enormous amount of superfluous personnel on
complex incidents? Our biggest asset is not just our
people, but our people's minds. I think nickel and
dimeing the temps misses the bigger picture. Just my
two cents.

simplemind

Welcome to posting. Ab.

2/9 SC and Mater,

Mark Rey and the senior Forest Service leadership call those things..... "changes in management efficiency" and somehow lie to Congress and the American people year after year and tell them that they can continue to do more with less while the troops (you) in the field say otherwise..... They (Rey et al) actually believe it is working....... and add it to their talking points as "how they are affecting change and making things better".

Doing more with less is a myth no matter what you smoke or are trying to sell to wildland firefighters.... It is well known that you get what you pay for..... and the wildland fire program is no different and is a glaring example to the bureaucrats of how a system can fail with a lack of leadership.

I am saddened by the lack of leadership from the WO of the Forest Service..... once again, they have the chance to comment and lead the troops in the field..... but they sit on their thumbs.

If they (Mark Rey and the FS Leadership) do not comment, a different form of "changes in management efficiency" will occur..... and it WILL come from the troops in the field.... and from the leaders... and it will be supported by both the field and from the Congress and the Press...... and they (Mark Rey et al) will be at the pointy end of the stick.......

Choose your friends and allies now.... Like someone said on They Said a few months ago.... it could get ugly.... I didn't believe it back then, but I believe it now.....

sign me... Not a Day Late/Dollar Short
2/8 SC,

At a recent meeting we were told from our Forest Supervisor that the R-5 Regional Office plans on hiring the same way for the meantime, and no changes in these hiring practices will be implemented until the transition to Albuquerque occurs. Yes, to Albuquerque, NM. We think it's bad now, just wait.

Mater

2/8 My agency is considering its options in light of personal liability concerns for staff engaged in supervisory and command functions on fires involving USFS employees. We are also considering both our Federal team participation and "fill-in"/CWN requests for Federal fires. Some questions for those of you in the know....

a. What is the cost of personal liability insurance?
b. To what extent does the federal government cover these costs and to whom is "cost sharing" offered?
c, Is there a provider that offers a group rate?
d. What is the extent of the coverage?

A number of us are trying to come up with solutions that avoid out-right withholding of assistance, as some have suggested. That would be hugely detrimental to our cooperator agreements and mutual response. It would also cost our people valuable training assignments and experience that is gained during out-of-county response. (Unsure how this might play out in local National Forest lands response or mutual threat). Our agency provides a substantial amount of overhead to assist Federal, State, and local wild fires in California. Currently we have no plan to change our strike team deployment since our STL's would only be supervising our own people, but we are considering direction that STL's not accept broader supervision responsibilities once on the line.

Looking forward to hearing from you that have worked through this.

Contract County Guy
2/8 A Dirt Person,

Thanks for the recommendation on the book. It looks like a good read.

Student of Reason
2/8 RX escapes:

To Ellreese,

What can we do, as fellow firefighters, to help you? I, too, was b*ned by the agency, not as bad as you're getting it, and I still carry some resentment after almost 20 years.

In reference to the posting from the trail person from the 30 Mile Forest, yes, they will tell you their hands are tied by powers greater than themselves and, they're right. But, how did it get to this point? Who are the powers? What does this mean for the rest of us who are firefighters/fire managers? This charge of manslaughter is a big deal and Ellreese's life will forever be changed, again. Is he being held up as another example? Is there a message that the "Powers" are trying to convey to the wildland firefighting community? What?!

Is there a fund set-up for contributions for Ellreese's legal expenses?

Thanks for listening
old gal

HERE's what Heather found out we can do for Ellreese. There's a Legal Defense Fund set up at Cashmere Valley Bank in Leavenworth WA. If anyone has the exact info for donating to that account, please let us know. Ab.

2/8 I am with you 100% on the self-study CD I was asking lurkers and others if
flying people to S-290 classes was cost effective? I know when I was in
that part of my career it was more like you can come to the training on
your own dime, and own time.

Signed... 2 cents

2/8 Is there any spreadsheet type data collection of escape RX fires or
fatalities. I am trying to tie my S-234 unit.

signed,
data call
2/8 For "My two cents",

Why would you fly a temp to WA from Vegas for S-290 when the CD-ROM self-study
version has been approved for use in both the 310-1 and the 5109.17 for at least 2 years
now? This is what we use for our temps that do not get the classroom course.

-MJ

2/8 To Student of Reason:

I'm familiar with the work of Maslow and Kubler-Ross. Thanks for reminding me. I'll look up some of the others on your reading list, and I can recommend Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. It's a thought-provoking book, and gives a lot more information about so-called "human-factors" than is ever discussed in fire training.

Part of my own riled-up-ness is because I work on the Forest where 30 Mile happened. Maybe things seem more intense here because we're closer to it and have felt some of the fallout sooner. I've had good conversations with the FMO, my supervisor, and district ranger, and wrote to the Forest Supervisor about my misgivings about getting a red card this year. To their credit, they have all listened. The F. Supervisor has been going to all the districts to talk to us and answer questions about Ellreese's trial. I finally understand more about what is going on, and the conclusion is that it's extremely political. It's in the hands of the courts now, and Ellreese has a lot of fortitude to go through with it. He deserves all our support. As far as my other issues with the fire organization, I've been promised that the discussion will continue and maybe we can work on some of it at the Forest level. That's encouraging.

Being on the trail crew makes me a second-string firefighter. With the fire budget going down, second string seems a little more important this year. I wonder how it's all going to shake out? Those of you going through the competitive sourcing study have my sympathy--we did it a few years ago, and it's one of the more demoralizing things I have ever been through. But the work in the woods doesn't go away. Sometimes that has to be what keeps us going.

A Dirt Person

2/8 Re FS Budget

When you fly a 1039-TEMP from Las Vegas to W.A. for a S-290 class, that does
not seem very cost effective?

Signed my 2 cents hard at work.

2/8 Re hiring:

Brushboy

I think people would be more outraged with this process and with the people
running it. But most of us in the system know that the "Civil Rights
People" are some of the most incompetent people in the agency. Heck my
district has gone through five investigations this last year and nothing came
out of any of them. The statement made to us was we can get rid of one
person or we can let ten go, well so far six people have left and three
more have multiple apps out. These people care about nothing more than
numbers to meet their quotas, oh sorry "goals". I hope the next group of
people that are doing the hiring have better luck because my app is down
there right now, hopefully it hasn't been lost.

Billfire

2/8 Re 30mile:

Hey all, Is it just me? Bruce and Paula Hagemeyer, the two civilian campers from the Thirty Mile Fire got paid $400,000 in their lawsuit settlement. When we rescue people off the top of a mountain, etc., if anything, we send them a BILL ! Hell, that fire shelter should have qualified as a "high rent district". I guess that the settlement must make it easier for the Hagemeyers to count their blessings, especially when each "blessing" has some money stuck to it.

When any of you are communicating with politicians, or press, etc. in reference to the Thirty Mile, this irony might be pointed out.

As always, stay safe! "Kicks"

2/8 Re hiring:

Way to go R-5, this is not good for anyone who wants to hire on the basis of "fit for the job," and to
think I was so foolish to believe the quota hiring system was a thing of past times. Whatever happened to
hiring "the most qualified?"

. Region 5 Plans to Voluntarily Continue Many Provisions of the HSA

58. In anticipation of the February 13, 2007, expiration of the HSA, the Region plans a smooth
transition of programs, policies and procedures affecting its outreach, recruitment, applicant flow,
mentoring, and selection processes. This transition realigns HSA programs and processes under the
leadership of the Civil Rights Director, who reports to the Regional Forester and Associate Regional
Forester. The Region made a significant investment in these programs and believes that most of them are
having a positive impact on increasing Hispanic representation.

59. At this point in time, the Region plans to continue, in substantially the same format, most of
the HSA provisions and remedial measures. Specifically, the Region will continue to maintain a
full-time Civil Rights Director position, a fulltime Regional Recruitment Coordinator position, as well as
provide sufficient resources for both positions. These positions will continue implementation of the
Regional Outreach and Recruitment Program and engage in outreach and recruitment activities. Region 5 will
also continue to (1) recruit from SCEP; (2) follow Forest Service directives and policy on Workforce
Planning; (3) provide EEO training in accordance with USDA requirements; (4) collect and maintain applicant
flow system data and provide systems support (i.e., AVUE and the Region 5 Applicant Flow System until all
applicant flow data is captured by a single automated system); (5) extend the Outside Recruiter contract for
an additional year; (6) offer the Mentoring Program to all permanent employees regardless of length of
service, including SCEPs, as well as continue the Mentoring Program Manager position; and (7) fund the
expanded Central California Consortium in Northern and Southern California for a five year period, as
reported in its June 2006 Report to the Court.

60. The Region plans to continue several HSA provisions and Orders with some modifications under
the leadership and oversight of the Civil Rights Director: (1) advertise Region 5 positions
government-wide and externally (DEMO) for all non-Line Officer positions, and in accordance with the Forest
Service Merit Promotion Plan and USDA guidelines; (2) advertise Region 5 positions multi-grade and
interdisciplinary, where appropriate, and in accordance with the Forest Service Merit Promotion
Plan and USDA guidelines; and (3) review recruitment and promotion action results.

61. Although not required by the HSA or the Court’s remedial measures, the Region plans to continue the
Regional Selection Team process of centralized hiring selections for all positions GS-12 and below non-Line
Officer and all Federal Wage System positions for the nineteen administrative units in Region 5.

SC

2/8 Re pack test:

Well CB

guess I left out one thing on my comment about the Pack Test. I am 55 years of age and a little old for fighting fires the hard way now. The test bums me that it hurts the knees and ankles (not the heart) to take and when I was younger it would not have been a problem at all. The USFS will cut you off at 50 years of age anyway for the fire line but contracting a Tender is a different story. I just like hitting the fire with water still in my old age and you have to do the pack test to spray water on the fire or your stuck with filling engines and keeping the dust down. Oh to be young again but I still have a few years left on the fires even if it is only driving a Tender and bringing the young bucks water to help put the fire out with!

Tender R6

2/7 I've probably posted a bit too much lately but indulge me with one more please.

I cannot express my personal gratitude for the incredible number of applications we've received for membership with the FWFSA over the past few weeks, with many telling me its time to join the fight.

What caught me tonight was watching my almost 4 year old son, decked out in his cowboy hat, boots, guitar, ear-mounted boom mike singing along with a Garth Brooks DVD playing Standing Outside the Fire.

The cutest thing I've ever seen, but the only part he really has down is what resonated with me, as we all engage in "fixing" the federal wildfire firefighting program:

"Life is not tried
it is merely survived
if you're standing outside the fire."

Join the fight...get get inside the fire

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

2/7 E-57 "Always Remember" banner with the new E-57 beneath it,
surrounded by family members as the Governor signs the California
Fallen Firefighters Assistance Tax Clarification Act of 2006.

Photo

Noname

2/7 CB,

You said regarding the pack test, "Has it killed a few people? Sure, but how many of these people would've had a heart attack at home, playing basketball with the kids?"

Your statement seemed a little callous, but I know that wasn't your intent. I wonder if that statement would be the same if you would have known someone who has died while taking the "pack test"? I personally don't know anyone who has died taking the test also, but I do study organizational learning and safety.

You bring up an interesting perspective that I have seen posted on They Said for years, although I fully disagree with it. Your statement compares apples to oranges.... The underlying etiology, while similar, is distinctly different in the stressors involved and how the outcome of the accident causation cycle could be stopped.

The lack of proper health screening prior to the WCT is a significant and re-occurring latent factor resident within the WCT guidelines and procedures. As has been said by many, the proper way to pre-screen for a WCT is by providing a Stress EKG to ensure that no irregularities exist prior to the test being given, rather than providing a Health Screening Questionnaire that a person has to complete (Human Factor => potential for Human Error if not designed out of the system... ie- plugging a hole in the Swiss Cheese) .... The problem is that Stress EKG's are somewhat expensive, and a general resistance to their use is entirely budget driven.

Dick Mangan provided information that 12 folks have died taking or preparing for Work Capacity Testing. Every life matters, and latent safety failures need to be addressed or the same types of accidents will continue to happen.

Lobotomy
2/7 Ab

I have to say this. If anyone really wants to know about the hiring practices or the lack of hiring going on in R-5, just go down to the Regional Office and experience what’s going on. I don’t have the time and you don’t have the space, Ab, for me to describe what is going on down there. I remember a book a retired Chief of the Forest Service wrote and he said that the FS cannot change until “The Civil Rights Nazi Groups” (I apologize for anyone I offend with the Nazi remark) are brought under control. I have never seen a more dysfunctional group - which I believe is deliberately dysfunctional to secure their jobs - in my life. Lost packages, lost certs, lost a lot of hard work by district and forest people... and they have the attitude of “OH Well”.

I commend all the FMOs, AFMOs, DRs and all the others that go down there for 1 to 2 weeks with the notion they are going to make a difference and fill positions. You/we did our best but what goes on in Vallejo needs to be investigated.

Brushboy (Trying to wash the bad taste of LOST PACKAGES out of my mouth)
2/7 Re Pack Test:

I think the discussion regarding the Pack Test is pretty interesting. I'm also on the small side at 125lbs. While 45lbs isn't the most comfortable weight for me, walking for 3 miles on flat ground isn't bad at all. Give me 30lbs and make me go up a hill, and that's when the problems start. But if you take a look at all the gear, hoses and tools you carry up a mountain during a fire (with heat, smoke, lack of sleep, etc) I think the pack test doesn't even compare to the work we do. Has it killed a few people? Sure, but how many of these people would've had a heart attack at home, playing basketball with the kids? I think anyone planning on fighting a wildfire shouldn't have a problem taking the pack test. But maybe we should question whether there's a better way to test?

CB

2/7 For those of you who missed the CA Governor's bill signing today, you can
view the entire video or read the speeches at the link below.

http://gov.ca.gov

socal ff

2/7 TC & Mellie:

I think what TC was referring to are funding transfers. For years the FS was borrowing from non-fire pots to pay for fire and more recently taking from fire to pay for non-fire projects. Congress chided the former FS Chief on a number of occasions for doing this.

In fact in August of 2006, former FS Chief Bosworth communicated with his regional leadership stating that he was "concerned about mounting costs and the threat of fire funding transfers." No threat. It became a reality very quickly.

Last season, as we predicted to Congress as far back as Feb. 2006 that by September the Agency, as a result of their upside-down policies, would go through their appropriated dollars for suppression, then wipe out an existing $500 million "reserve" fund and need more.

What then happened, again as predicted, was the Agency went to Congress and sought an emergency supplemental appropriation I believe in the amount of $150 million. Congress indulged the Agency but with far less than what they were seeking. We told Congress we felt the additional funding was a "bail out" of the Agency for its fiscal mismanagement and costly policies.

We are hopeful Congress now "gets it."

Casey
2/7 To Appropriations Watcher:

You are indeed correct. Congress is still working off a Joint Continuing Resolution (the Senate Interior Appropriations bill was not passed by the end of last session) which is supposed to be voted on in a couple of weeks.

I'd like all of you to know that since Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) is now the Chairperson of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, she is keenly aware of our many [emphasis added] concerns...especially what appears to be the upside down methodology of increasing suppression and reducing preparedness.

As Chairwoman she will wield significant power and she is an ally. There have been some subcommittee staff changes so once I get a good email address for her staff person on the committee, Rachel Taylor, I will post it to encourage California wildland firefighters to speak their minds.

Additionally, a number of congressional offices both Republican & Democratic are fully aware of our concerns and echo them. The next step is to actually do something about it.

To Mop Shop:

Rest assured there are a number of folks on the Hill that are aware of Mr. Rey's actions and concur that it might be time to find a better suited person to manage the FS fire program. Additionally, the President, Attorney General Albert Gonzalez and USDA OIG Phyllis Fong are also aware that the wildland firefighting community knows what's up and expect the leadership to be dealt with in the same fashion as folks like Mr. Daniels.

As I've posted previously, there are protocols and procedures Congress must work under. It would be nice to see a wholesale replacement of leadership with folks that have serious fire background but it won't happen overnight.

To: Let's get the hiring back to the forests

One of the top complaints I hear from our folks in the field is the problematic hiring process since the Regional office in R5 took over the hiring process, ostensibly as a result of the HSA. The delays are a cause for recruitment & retention problems, and quite frankly, no one knows who they need, what they need, and are better judges of those whom they might want to hire than the FMOs.

It is my sincerest hope that this and many, many other issues will be brought up to the Regional & National leadership in Reno in a few weeks. If firefighters remain silent with such an opportunity to seek some answers, then there really is no point complaining. The time to speak up is now.

Casey
2/7 Hey, Mellie.

I'm looking forward to the test next week. That newsletter downloaded just
fine, but after reading, I double-checked the link to make sure it wasn't from
www.no-blame-culture.org. (Don't worry, I'll ask Nerd if she'll tutor me
over the weekend.)

vfd cap'n
2/7 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16991877/

Hey all...

This article is a sad and sobering reminder of what
happens when nobody gets held accountable for
firefighter fatalities...There's a good quote in
there..."When a cop dies, it's a crime scene. When a
firefighter dies, it's a good funeral." For all the
potential abuses of the system (wrongful prosecution
years after the fact, witch hunts, excessive personal
and professional liability), I think the wildland
world is moving in something of the right direction;
away from the culture that firefighter deaths are
inevitable.

Nerd on the Fireline

This is the same article Misery Whip pointed to a few days ago but his emphasis was on the latent system design problems. Ab.

2/7 Mellie,

To answer your question, what happens when the Suppression Budget
runs out? That's when the shell game really begins. It's what they call
fire borrowing. Used to be, the agency would borrow funds from KV or WCF
(pots of dollars that had been collected to accomplish certain tasks) then
congress would pass a bill to replace it. Awhile back, I think 5-6 yrs
ago, congress refused to replace the borrowed money, and those funds darn
near went broke. Now when the $ run out, the agency has to borrow from
other appropriated funds, so essentially all work stops, no contracts are
let and all money money goes to pay for fire suppression. Not a good way
to run a business..................

TC

2/7 We want to thank everyone who has already taken the survey about the fallout from the Thirtymile fire legal issues. The response has been overwhelming. If you have not taken it yet, be sure and have your voice heard. The last day to take it is February 15. The survey can be found at http://tinyurl.com/yo7nj6 More information is on They Said and also on our web site at www.iawfonline.org/ in the "IAWF News" section. If you don't take the survey, you don't get to b*tch about the Thirtymile fire situation. :-)

The results of the survey will be available February 20.
Bill Gabbert
International Association of Wildland Fire
2/7 Re Budget

Good morning All,

Thanks for the very interesting info on FS fire budget. What I wonder is... say the suppression money the FS has earmarked for FY 2007 is $741 Million. When we reach that Suppression expenditure, if no more money is forthcoming from Congress, do we then just say, "OK, that's it, everybody home, end of the season?"

At some time we need a financial arrangement such that fire expenses do not dip into other Forest Service programs to get paid back later. This is a business-like arrangement. If the public wants the protection, congress must allocate for fire. If the budget for fire suppression is exceeded, there's no one to pay for it, suppression ends.

OK, so define and pay for suppression until the $$ runs out. What about Preparedness, Hazard Fuels Reduction, those PRE-Suppression costs? It's cheaper to spend money to have the resources available to pick up starts on IA than to contend with EA or large fires. Will we pick up all lightning and arson starts? No. But better to pick up more than fewer because we don't have engines on the forests when the lightning busts come.

Mellie

2/7 LC - The Forest Service direction on collateral duties is in the FS manual
5130.43-5 (pg 10).

"5. Ensure that Incident Commanders on Type 1, 2, and 3 wildland fires
have no collateral duties, except for those of unfilled Command and General
Staff positions as described in the Fireline Handbook (FSH 5109.32a)."

The entire document can be found at:
http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/directives/html/fsm5000.shtml (internal fs web)

There are no restrictions on collateral duties for Type 4 & 5 Incident
Commanders that I'm aware of.

TC

2/7 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.
2/7 Regarding Just Culture:

There's an excellent website on Just Culture that those interested might like to check out. I was going to send it in last night but the connection kept timing out, possibly because of too many people downloading its Just Culture "Criminal Edition" newsletter_janfeb07.pdf

This is a very interesting read. Other groups that need to maintain a learning environment for safety sake are confronting the same issues as fire and are sharing ideas.

That newsletter is presented in the context of nurses and pilots; but very applicable to wildland fire. We do have fire people taking this approach to Safety Investigations so Safety Culture/Learning Culture will become the norm.

My favorite part of the 7 page newsletter: Professionals Facing Criminal Charges — A Threat to System Safety?

excerpts from several articles:

Professionals Facing Criminal Charges —A Threat to System Safety?

The criminalization of unintentional human error.” That is what many observers called it. After all, there seems to be universal agreement that Julie Thao did not intend to harm her patient. Shown below is a very simple anatomy of an adverse event that helps explain the contributions to a simple human error and its resulting adverse outcome.

system design ----------->|
                                         |  human error -----------> adverse outcome
behavioral choices  ------>|

A person makes a mistake that causes an adverse outcome. The person involved had no intention to cause the adverse outcome – that is why we call it a human error. The error is “unintentional” by definition. Behind the human error in this simple model is what we in the Just Culture refer to as the two manageable inputs – the system we designed around this person, and their behavioral choices in that system... [go read more]

No Criminal Acts? What’s in a Policy?

Criminal. It’s a familiar term. We’ve been raised to believe that criminals are the ‘bad” people among us. We look at those being criminally prosecuted as having “evil intent.” As our principal article expressed, criminal law now no longer requires “evil intent.” Many criminal laws, and multitudes of federal and state regulations, make simple human error against the law... [go read more]

Thanks to friends who sent me a copy. I am glad it is circulating behind the scenes. We all need to educate ourselves on this and work to make it so. More investigations along the lines of Just Culture and Peer Review are necessary.

vfd cap't, test next week! (tongue in right cheek); nerd on the fireline, I know YOU could ace this now!
Tom Harbour, Ed Hollenshead, others in high places, test on Friday; politics left at the door (tongue in left cheek)

Mellie

If anyone has problems with downloading the pdf newsletter, please let me know. Ab.

2/7 Ab,

Where could I find more information on the guidelines we are to follow for holding multiple positions
while fighting fires? Is this in the red book? I thought I reviewed this last year and now I am unable
to find it again.

For example: Being the first on the fire and holding the IC & Engine Captain roles at the same time.

I believe this change came from the Thirty Mile Fire.

Thanks

LC
2/7 Todd,

Facts are interesting as they are sometimes presented to their peers for
factual review and opinions... but as far as a conspiracy.... not yet.... but
the facts are leading us there as "peer review is suppressed" while simple
and repeatable facts are disregarded....

Noname
2/7 hey all

I have been a "lurker" for some time. I have been with the forest service going on five years now as a temp. (This year I just became a apprentice.) Reading all this stuff about ellreese just pisses me off, and it makes me not want to go any higher in the ranks then a FEO or maybe a captain. Well just thought I would throw in my 2 cents.
thanks

BCM-R5

Welcome BCM-R5.

2/7 FPA

FPA came about because congress wanted the 5 federal fire agencies to have a common budget development/analysis tool that would assist in setting national, regional, and local priorities for staffing and funding. Congress also said there would be no additional money as a result of FPA. So FPA would be a new template to cut the existing pie. (Which is very interesting given that FPA runs generally came up with programs that were millions of dollar more than existing funding levels.) Congress wanted to be sure that the $'s were going where the greatest need based upon "weighted acres protected". I liked the weighted acres protected concept since it allowed us to assign values to things like recreation, wildlife, T&E species and others that did not have a commodity $ value. Back in my USFS days I would have to constrain my RX program so as to not burn to much TES habitat in any one year. It would be reasonable to then assume we needed to hold wildfire and RX fire acres burned below that same threshold to avoid detrimental cumulative effects. But since the USFS ran their fire budget on Net Value Changed (what's the $ value of a TES species?) we got very little in the way of suppression funding.

I think the Weighted Acres Protected is good since the 5 federal fire agencies are really "Natural Resource Management Agencies" and their job is management of natural resources not "Fire Department". The weighted acres protected was a significant change for the USFS. And depending upon where you are, it could be viewed as good or bad depending upon where you were. If you have lots of high $ timber, it might be bad. If you have low $ value timber, but significant recreational, wildlife, watershed, community infrastructure etc. it's good.

More of an FPA geek than I ever intended to be.
2/6 Small Agency FMO,

I looked at the FPA website, and we've spent about 10 million dollars on it so far.
My fire organization costs about a million per year, so it doesn't take a mathematician
to figure out that FPA has, in effect, robbed us of 10 small sized annual fire
organizations over the last few years.

If FPA is truly going to save us money, the cost of FPA itself needs to be subtracted
from any savings. I think it would be better to spend the money on fuel treatments
and suppression at this point.

Sign me:

Small Agency AFMO

2/6 To All

I’ve been reading all the latest posts and im sorry that it has come to this.
I work for CDF, ( CAL FIRE ). I am glad that the state hasn’t come to
this type of CR**** we are all in it together. Sometimes it’s about
firefighters. We are in one of the same. Let CALFIRE know what we need
to do to help. I would be glad to try something.

Thanks

CDF @CAPT

2/6 The Smoke and Mirrors can be freely fact checked thanks to the USDA Forest Website located at:
http://www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/

I'd bet the Government Accounting Office (GAO) will be keenly aware of how folks are cooking the books from now on....... If I remember correctly, "cooking the books" is criminal..... and in this case, crap is rolling uphill.....

Let's start with:

Forest Service Full-Time Equivalents (FTE's) as reported in FS budget requests from the above web link:

FY 2006 to FY 2008: 13,502 (2006) 12,575 (2007) 12,183 (2008) -392 FTE's

FY 2005: Missing Data (MM) (The Books were Cooked). Somehow WFPR FTE's jumped, even though there was a marked loss in budget over the last few years.... The FS calls it "management efficiencies".... aka "Doing More with Less".... also known as a "Can do Attitude"..... It simply can't be done.....

FY 2002 to FY 2004: 9,504 (2002) 9,258 (2003) 8, 924 (2004) -334 FTE's

FY 2005: No data available on FTE's (at least I cannot find it or figure out how the FTE's from 2004 (8,924) jumped to 13,502 in 2006 while the budget still went down significantly. FY 2005 must have been a pivotal year with an astounding increase in budgets (Tongue firmly in cheek) or unbelievable "management efficiencies", or similar to this year when the FY 2008 Budget Request states that the losses of FFPC will be offset by increased "management efficiencies" being implemented.

During this entire time (FY 2002 to FY 2008), a loss of WFPR (Preparedness) resources was obvious to everyone in the field responsible for the delivery of the wildland fire program and for WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER SAFETY.... it made sense.... If the WFPR budget is reduced, the amount of preparedness resources would obviously be lessened.... but somehow we have "similar FFPC" as envisioned under the National Fire Plan....

/s/ Sign me Just the Facts
2/6 A Dirt Person,

Don't let anger consume you or cloud your judgment of folks who are posting on They Said. Many of us are in various stages of grief and or personal learning, or just here to say Hi........ It has to be a personal decision for you and from your gut and we are not in any way in the positions to understand if folks are angered or seeking self actualization.

By far, most folks who are honestly posting on They Said have gotten far beyond the ANGER and are focusing on other areas of Kubler-Ross and what they can do with the baseline as described by Maslow.... or they are just lurkers or trollers....

If you don't recognize Kubler-Ross or Maslow.... I humbly recommend you take a look at them before making any decisions about your future...You seem to be someone honestly looking towards your safety and the safety of your troops. After Kubler-Ross and Maslow, then look forward to studies of Reason, Graham, Weick, Sutcliffe, Ziegler, and countless others interested in organizational safety and wildland firefighter safety.

Otherwise, it is good to vent and meet new friends.... A Dirt Person, welcome to They Said..... It is OK to vent.... We all do it with our friends from They Said.....

Student of Reason
2/6 Several emails from a pup:

I am twenty years old and since I was eighteen I have been putting applications in the Forest Service trying to get a job with them and just this past week I got a call from three different districts asking me if I wanted a job with them this summer and I said yes. What are the chance of me getting a job with them this summer? I have already taken the Basic 32. If you can't answer this question could you please refer me to someone who can. Thank you. KN

I replied that all he could do was try, no guarantees. Got this back.

Sorry to bother you once again Ab, But I went to a Forest Service station and was told that the hiring won't be until the budget comes. Do you know when the Forest Service is supposed to get their budget for California? KN

Anyone have any info for him? Ab.

2/6 Re: Shell Game

Casey,

You asked,

"I am not the greatest at understanding all this FTE stuff so if someone who does can take a look at the budget proposal on the FS web site and take a peek Appendix E, specifically page E-2 and clarify what the numbers are saying I'd certainly appreciate it. Thanks in advance."

Basically, an FTE is the equivalent of one full-time worker. It is often expressed as 1.0 for a full time employee working 26 pay periods per year. A 13/13 employee (6 months/year) counts as a 0.5 FTE.

I am also very concerned. The Forest Service FY 2008 budget proposes a loss of 3,592 FTEs from the Wildland Fire Management Program.... or so it would seem with a cursory look.

In FY 2006, there were 13,502 FTE's and for FY 2008 there will be only 8,893 under WFM ....... but wait, to help muddy the waters, the FS created a new budget line item called WFF (Wildland Firefighters).... under that scenario, it would appear that we are actually gaining 3,200 Wildland Firefighter FTE's.

But when you cut through the smoke and mirrors.... the Forest Service is proposing a net loss of 392 FTEs. This can be interpreted as the following, depending upon where the budget cuts are going to be made:

1) It could mean that 392 Permanent Full-Time Employees will be unfunded, or
2) It could mean that 784 13/13's will be unfunded, or
3) It could mean that 784 temporary wildland firefighters working a full 1039 would be unfounded, or
4) It could mean that 1,176 temporary wildland firefighters who only work 4 months a year would be unfunded, or
5) It could mean any number of combinations of unfunded positions, or
6) It could just be another example of the Forest Service relying upon suppression expenditures to bail out the Wildland Fire Preparedness program....

Hope that helps,

Higbee

2/6 Casey, what is the line item on Wildland Firefighter? this leaves a whole
lot of speculation to us as to what this really means!

is this good or bad for us professional wildland firefighters???

IL-SHF FMO
2/6 I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if this is a process of dismantling
Forest Service wildland fire. Are we going to be so messed up that we'll all
have to go under one agency like DHS as a wildland fire organization?

Todd

2/6 Dirt Person

Your post was very well thought out and you articulated with out whining some important issues.

Given the training materials we have to work with its no wonder they want all instructors to have a facilitative instructor course.

The USFS maybe the 800 lb gorilla. But they are not the only show in town. Think about some of the other agencies.

FPA -

Over the life of FPA numerous times the field sent word up the chain that it was broke. One of these included a letter from Regional Directors of the Fed agencies in our GAC saying its broke. There were a lot of egos and a lot of $'s tied up with it and it had so much momentum that it was not going to stop. And then congress stepped in. We were directed to stop development of FPA and look for another tool. Some aspects of it are good. It made use look at our needs and capabilities and had a frame work for determining what were the priorities.

A segment of FPA was a process called "The Optimizer". The optimizer would pick the most effective, economic suppression resource given the values at risk. It utilized standard production rates in the FLB and each GAC could use specialized resources and their production rates that was unique to there area. The optimizer used Behave fuel models and the hauling chart to determine what resource would be most effective. Some of the thinking the optimizer did on the Initial Attack part of the program was: When dealing with FM 3 and flame length and ROS that you can get during average conditions it would 1) Not respond since the fire would exceed initial attack target acres before resources could arrive. 2) Throw a lot of air resources at the fire. 3) Send Type 4 engines (greater production rate than Type 6 and the tracked equipment we all used never mind that the Type 4 would just get stuck.) It ignored the tactic of indirect attack burning out roads and other barriers.

Now I would have loved to have had the empire FPA built for use but makes you wonder how on earth we have been successful over the past 20 years catching so many of our initial attacks with 1/10 the stuff FPA said we needed. And think of how much more successful our initial attack would have been over the life of FPA if would could have put the money into fire line building resources.

Small Agency FMO
2/6 Sting,

I apologize for leaving much of that undone mierda in the pannier for you... doesn't feel good to know that issues one spent so much time on are still nowhere... Unfortunately, I am inclined to believe that when you pass the panniers, much of the current baggage will still weigh them down.

On a good note... there is life after the FS. I miss and worry about the troops, but do not miss the endless lies and lack of leadership one iota. You are correct... Loyalty is a two way street and the Forest, RO and WO types would do well to get their side moving.. One can only lead up so long without support....

yactak

Yactac, now don't you be hurrying him up as you rest against your surfboard down in Baja between waves. We still have 4.6 years of him unless he gets a better offer! Who knows what can happen in that time... "another week older and deeper in debt"... don't get me going again! Besides, he needs to attend the Chiefs meeting and fill us in. Ab.

2/6 I have been reading this web site and everyone's posting for some time. I am a little depressed reading every ones comments. I started about 10 years ago fighting fires locally here in Colorado. I meet some great people in the wildfire area. I began going to classes and taking an interest in wildfire issues. I kept hearing a great call for new people to fill in positions at wildfires. The incident management side of the fire really interested me and I began to work on task books.

I am about to give up. If I can not get my task books signed off this year I am through. The money I have spent both personally and by my agency to get training is in the thousands of dollars. I have been offered positions with another federal disaster response agency. No task book, no hassle, just show up for training and off we go. They purchase all of my personal equipment, right down to sleeping bags and tents.

I have to tell you the people I have meet in the wildfire fighting are some of the finest people I have ever worked with. I am saddened to read how depressed everyone seems to be.

Another big issue will come up next year when the cooperator agreements come up for renewal. I know of some fire departments that may with draw from CRRF agreements if major changes are made in reimbursement. Anyway I wish you all of you the very best. And thank you for your work, you are a great bunch of folks!!

Chief

Chief, you're part of us here. Thanks for sharing your perspective. Don't be a stranger whatever you decide to do. Ab.

2/6 Re: Trying to always do more with less..... aka.... False Promises to the American People and Congress..... Wildfire Preparedness takes another 13% reduction in FY 2008.

Since the Forest Service is sending out information stamped "internal use only" in reference to the 2008 Budget Request, I thought I would capture that same information through other sources available on the internet without compromising agency document security. Someone should FOIA the 2 page "FY 2008 Budget Summary" as it is a document that needs to be seen and discussed and not held as "internal use only".

Here is a rough breakdown of the President's "proposed" FY 2008 budget for Wildfire Activities within the Forest Service in comparison to previous years (2003-2008).

This comparison does not take into account the terrible losses that have occurred in the S&PF Forestry programs and how those losses directly impact State and Local government communities and firefighters. Some of these programs are FireWise Community and FireSafe Council grants, biomass utilization grants, and other program areas that could help to keep both communities and wildland firefighters safer.

Preparedness:
FY 2003 - $612 Million
FY 2004 - $672 Million
FY 2005 - $666 Million
FY 2006 - $661 Million
FY 2007 - $656 Million
FY 2008 - $349 Million

Suppression:
FY 2003 - $418 Million
FY 2004 - $597 Million
FY 2005 - $686 Million
FY 2006 - $690 Million
FY 2007 - $741 Million
FY 2008 - $911 Million

Hazardous Fuels Reduction:
FY 2003 - $237 Million
FY 2004 - $258 Million
FY 2005 - $266 Million
FY 2006 - $280 Million
FY 2007 - $292 Million
FY 2008 - $292 Million

Other Fire Operations:
FY 2003 - $134 Million
FY 2004 - $121 Million
FY 2005 - $77 Million
FY 2006 - $115 Million
FY 2007 - $122 Million
FY 2008 - $97 Million

Wildland Firefighters:
FY 2006 - a/
FY 2007 - a/
FY 2008 - $220 Million

Official Explanation of "a/" = "Salaries for Wildland Firefighters were provided under Preparedness prior to FY 2008"

Real World Interpretation of "a/" = SHELL GAME. Any way you look at it, PREPAREDNESS FY 2008 is being proposed to be funded at less than the FY 2003 level, while somehow the FFPC levels seem to stay nearly the same.

Lobotomy

Ref:
USDA FY 2005 Budget Summary (pdf file)
USDA FY 2008 Budget Summary (pdf file)
Forest Service, Fire & Aviation Management, Directors Corner, 2006 (fam website html)
2/6 Ab

As a civilian, who checks They Said frequently; to keep abreast of happenings, I must say I am greatly disturbed by most of today's postings. Too much (underpaid) talent appears ready to abandon the USFS over the events surrounding the 30 mile prosecution. This is so sad but I cannot blame them. Go to work: do your job and someone under your command makes a mistake, during the "Fog of Battle"; and you are accused of causing the death.

Worse yet, unqualified investigators, breaking all the Rules of the Law present the charges that Crucify you.

What is this country coming to? Look at the BP Agents that went to prison and one is now critically injured; for defending the border. Too bad more people do not know of this forum; I actually think that it should be required reading for every member of our Congress. Of course there is a little raw professional humor here but they should be able to take that also.

God Bless everyone who gears up and goes out protect us from fire.

ht

You be raggin' on the fine poetry/ song making here? "Professional humor"??? Haw haw. Ab.

2/6 There is a new message from the Forest Service Fire & Aviation Management
Director posted on his webpage. It can be found at: www.fs.fed.us/fire/.

Noname

Here it is:

US Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Message from the Director
February, 2007

In my last message I talked about the feasibility study of Aviation and other Airborne Activities.
I want to touch on this study again as it is moving out and you will be hearing a lot about in the
next few months.

After a year-long effort by a lot of you folks and leadership, the Aviation Feasibility Study is
complete and was accepted by my boss the Deputy Chief for State & Private Forestry in
December 2006. After reviewing the study, I’m pretty impressed. I believe this document is the
most comprehensive in-depth product we have as a source for program information and, more
importantly, a useful guide for the future. The study not only fulfilled the Forest Service
requirement to examine potential work areas for private-public competitions, but it also provides
an array of recommendations encompassing every facet of the aviation program.

So here is what happens next. The study is in the hands of the Chief, Regional Foresters, Station
Directors and other leadership for final review and comment. Once the comments are back it is
up the Chief to make the final decision on which recommendations she wants implemented. I
expect she will issue a letter with her decision in March.

If the letter directs us to complete any competitions or business process reengineerings (BPR) we
will have 12 months from official start to initial decisions. If there are any recommended
improvements in ways we do business, such as contracting or staffing changes, we will have 24
months to get these done. An interesting point here: the Forest Service Competitive Sourcing
Program Office has the oversight to make sure any tasks we are assigned get done and on time so
there won’t be any wiggle room.

I will be calling on you to provide your expertise on any MEO Teams (Most Efficient
Organization), or to help if we need to do an Agency Tender (our in-house bid) if work is
competed. If we need to do it I know I can depend on you to step up to the plate for the good of
the aviation program because you know the missions better than anyone and are the best in the
business!

While a lot of the focus seems to rest on potential cost savings and rightfully so, I really think
that any of the recommendations we implement will make us stronger, safer and more efficient in
our aviation program. That’s everything I know right now. Keep your eye on the ball, head in
the game and be safe.

Tom Harbour

2/6 Ab,

Being a federal employees we are not able to strike against the Federal Government, so let's strike against Washington State whenever they have a fire, since Washington State is the one that charged our firefighter.

We can thank the Forest Service and OES for the campers suing the Forest Service. Let's talk about making the case for them by charging our firefighter.

According to the Forest Service we are Forestry Technicians, not professional firefighters, so should a Forestry Technician be making the decisions a firefighter should be making? Therefore, should he be held accountable?

SGM

We can't strike against against anyone or any state. It's not the state's fault. I agree, how strange and demeaning to be called Forestry and Range Technicians... I hear your frustration.

I think

  • if we continue to get the word out via FWFSA to legislators, local and national;
  • if we support Ellreese and all who work and hake honest human decisions within their positions;
  • if we get out the word and encourage firefighters to fill out the IAWF survey, we have more hard facts;
  • if we demand that fire have a Just Culture so we can foster a safer Learning Environment;
  • if we focus on systemic factors that need to be corrected to make firefighting safer,

I think we can effect change for the better. When our agencies leaders don't seem to step up to leadership as fast as we want, it's up to the true professionals on the ground to do it. That's us. We're working at getting the info we need to make the picture more clear to those who can help, skipping the agencies. There is action taking place behind the scenes.

We're strong as a group. Hang in there. This is a work in progress. Ab.

2/6 Dear Ab,

I just found this forum, and am relieved to find people who are as angry as I am... I went on my first wildfire in 1982, but am probably not going to get my red card this year because:

  1. Ellreese Daniels case--what happened to personal responsibility for one's own safety? What happened to plain old bad luck? Any of us could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mistakes were made at 30 Mile, but it's wrong to make one guy the scapegoat and destroy his life.
  2. Pack test--the taxpayers pay for me to drive an hour and a half to get a phony physical exam from a contractor so I can walk on the flat with a heavy pack on for 45 minutes. If I have a heart attack doing that, the government can't be sued. But I don't need any exam or test to do my regular job, which consists of putting on a 30 pound pack and hiking up hills with a chainsaw day after day. Seems to me that the taxpayer's money could be put to better use than physicals and pack tests.
  3. The new fire shelter--we are trained to avoid entrapment, but they want us to carry a heavier fire shelter. Hm.
  4. The System--I've been a FFT1 since 1989. They didn't have any record of me being an ICT5 (even though I have certificates of training, and can name the fires I went on), so I had to do the task book. I wanted to be a FOBS, but after 8 years couldn't get past the single resource boss hurdle. I seem to get passed by people with 3 seasons of experience. I gave up and turned in my incomplete task books last fall.
  5. NIFC training materials--these are just awful. Learning can happen when instructors veer away from these, but they are not designed for how most of us learn. They waste a lot of time. We should be teaching critical thinking and woods sense. Not checklists.
  6. Online training--Something about FEMA before I can get a red card? Again, the taxpayer's money could be put to better use. The public expects TP in the outhouses and windfalls off the roads and trails.

I always loved the firefighting part of my job, since I had that first whiff of smoke years ago. I like how it pulls people together, I like seeing what nature can do. I love being with a good crew, and I like the paycheck. But it's not fun any more with all these hoops to jump through. If I jump through 'em, I'll feel like I'm selling out to a culture that's going in the wrong direction. I'd be complicit in stupidity. All these hoops are meant to cover everybody's butt but mine. I'm sure the FS would hang me out to dry in a heartbeat should something bad happen on my watch. We could make things better if we wanted to, but I don't see that happening. It's too bad. I'm going to miss fire a lot.

Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

A Dirt Person

Welcome Dirt Person. Doesn't sound like venting to me, but a reality check. Ab.

2/6 Over the weekend firefighter Jose Gonzales was killed in a tragic car
accident near his home in Fresno, Ca.

Jose had just completed his first season as a firefighter on PNF Engine 30
on the Feather River Ranger District and had a promising career ahead of
him. He left behind a fiancé and an unborn child. Services will be held
this Friday in Reedly, Ca. Our thoughts and prayers go out for this young
man and his family.

Friends on the Feather River

Condolences. Ab.

2/6 Why can Mark Rey clearly break the law and get away with it and
firefighters who do their jobs to the best of their abilities get slapped
with criminal charges? I know some here and some in Congress and
some on the eastern forests have seen the documents against Rey.
Is there a cover up?

OK, so he's a good old boy former timber lobbyist. He was appointed.
He has friends in high places. Does he have a different set of rules?

Another one of Brownie's ilk??? Throw the guy out!!!

Mop Shot

No cover up here. We think Congress is working on it. Ab.

2/6 Ab & All,

The follow-up to yesterday's story about structural firefighter fatalities and CDC investigations has eerie parallels with our ongoing Thirtymile debacle. This quote is from today's story:

"Since Schmidt was fired in 2000, the CDC program has not hired another fire safety engineer. It has safety and occupational health specialists performing the firefighter investigations. Several do have experience and training as firefighters.

Schmidt said the underlying problem is that in 1998, Congress handed the CDC a role it hadn't asked for and may not have been trained for.

"They would spend a lot of time talking to the firefighters … and then they would write the report," he said. "… They would come back to the office, and say, ‘Which firefighter do you think was the most credible one there?’ — and benchmark everything against what that firefighter said."

Looks like our structural friends have the same kinds of problems we have with our investigations. Congressional relief is overdue.

Here's the link to the story:

www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16991877/

Misery Whip

2/6 Ab,

My turn....Right now, I dont like what I am seeing and hearing everywhere in the Forest Service. The do more with less, hiring? 7 district fire leadership vacancies since March 06, 3 out of 4 engines staffed 5 days, court mandated social engineering, 1000 hrs of overtime stress, gutless & ignorant Party-Line Officers, declined performance award recommendations for my people, criminal liability, understaffed engines & year round fire season, Lotzi and his kids gone, still No Dozer Swamper PD, aglearn cr*p, NIMS, NRP, remote stations still with dial-up internet... this mule's panniers can't take any more

I am now planning to retire in 4.6 years on my 50th birthday, with 27 years in. I will continue to stay involved by joining a local agency and also teaching Wildland Fire Courses through the community college. I will pay it forward.

I will perform to the best of my ability as a Battalion Chief and honor my current commitments and quaIs as DIVS and ICT3, renew my PLI and then Cover My A$$ each summer. I wanted to be an Ops Chief, Safety Officer and Type 2 IC, but not any more, not at the expense of my family, home and freedom. I will attend no more developmental training, just refreshers.

For you Forest, R.O. and W.O. folks who lurk here. Loyalty is a 2-way street. You better do something fast or there are hundreds just like me who are coming to the same conclusion. When we are all gone, guess who will get blamed?

gonna go plan this summer's 2-week vacation now,

sting

Wow. Ab.

2/6 So what is happening with Fire Program Analysis (FPA) folks?

After watching Undersecretary Mark Rey say (on the record at a Congressional Hearing) that is it no longer being considered a "budget tool" as originally planned...... What is the reason that FPA has spent over $20 Million in development of a tool that will never be used to meet the intent of Congress and something that Fire Planners have said would never work in the first place?

What is the intent and/or purpose of FPA?

Sorry, just a rumor so far... with some good baseline facts to support further research and discussions on how well intentioned programs can go so bad...

Rogue Rivers
2/6 Counting the Days,

I will not be more than a few steps behind you.... CA OES looks good as does an assistant manager at In-N-Out Burger but I will hop this ship at the first opportunity that presents itself...... or hopefully a Full Manager position that now pays in excess of $110,000 without any of the associated risks of wildland fire management for myself or my family.....

Many paths folks can take.... How do we forget the BS and concentrate on what really matters?... Our families, friends, and co-workers?

It is pretty sad that managing folks flipping hamburgers pays so much better than folks managing wildland firefighter safety programs and protecting communities in the WUI..... It is sad that the Federal Wildland Fire Program has come to such a basic misunderstanding of facts and truths under our current leadership.... and human behaviour.... that it pays better to produce a "great Hamburger" rather than produce a "wildland fire protected community".

A CDF Seasonal Firefighter position looks equally as good compared to my GS-9 salary and benefits..... After 25 years of service, I can still swallow my pride and speak to the facts..... and do what is right for my family and my community without any loyalty to the Forest Service..... especially since so many of us continue to get screwed over....

Gizmo
2/5 Regarding the Press Enterprise Story.....

"The measure - authored by Sen. Jim Battin, R-La Quinta and co-authored by Assemblyman John Benoit, R-Palm Desert -- passed its final hurdle in the California Senate today. Battin said he expects the governor to sign the bill by mid-week. It's possible the governor will come to Riverside County to do so, he said."

Hopefully the Governor will suspend with the pomp and circumstance of Bill signings.... and just sign the bill ASAP...... I am sure that both Assemblyman Benoit and Senator Battin would understand the importance.... A follow-up visit by the Governor would probably be appreciated after he signs the bill.

I have heard that the families are really tired of all the public ceremonies, but they really appreciate all of the hard work done behind the scenes in both the United States Congress and the California Legislature..... It was an awesome job by a lot of people with a common goal.... The Governors visit should be personal and from the heart.....

Noname

2/5

President's Forest Service Budget Proposal Demonstrates Cluelessness... At Odds With Congress

While the Senate last week wrestled with the ever-increasing costs of wild fire suppression and looked for ways to rectify the problem, the Administration has taken the opposite approach by responding to the escalating fire costs by proposing to throw more money at it by increasing the suppression budget by 23%.

So much for any incentive for the Agency to reduce suppression costs!

Sadly, despite common sense suggesting that investing in preparedness will reduce suppression costs, the proposal appears to call for significant reductions in preparedness FTEs. It should be noted that wildland firefighters is a new appropriation for FY 2008.

I am not the greatest at understanding all this FTE stuff so if someone who does can take a look at the budget proposal on the FS web site and take a peek Appendix E, specifically page E-2 and clarify what the numbers are saying I'd certainly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

2/5 Ab, I can't shake these reoccurring thoughts and I am not sure they have
been addressed here yet so bear with me.

What if; Engine 57 Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser had been the sole survivor of
the Esperanza burnover and fatalities?

Would he be sitting in jail awaiting a criminal trial and crucifixion for
"killing" his crew under auspices of this ludicrous Public Law 107-203?

Would he have been accused of lying to the Government if all the facts did
not measure up precisely to his testimony?

Would he and his family be put through the crucible of public humiliation
and degradation in the media?

Would the Chief and the other snivelling "burro-crats" (jackasses in high
places) be giving us the same old tired line that they support Wildland
Firefighters?

Would a million dollar liability insurance policy have been enough to keep
him and his family out of financial devastation?

I use Mark as an example not to cause any hurt but because his memory is
still fresh in my grey haired head from his days on VG.

I am out of this mess soon, only a few months after the Chief and some of
my friends. Thanks be to God that I made it to my 50th birthday. I would
have liked to hang around a bit longer but I can't take the "What If's"
anymore.

Sorry for being anonymous, Rod and the rest of you brave souls who use your
names here, but the Abs let us do this for a reason.

Counting the Days

Counting the Days, I am sorry to hear you're retiring soon, but I understand.
We will miss your wisdom. I will miss your support... and knowing you're out there working with the kids.

As for your questions, we all have "what if" questions like those. I have gotten questions from people involved in several old fatality fires (Storm King and another) wondering if the DOJ will go back that far and charge them as criminals. How many of us have made mistakes in our past... The most recent questions I received along these lines were from an agency that might be interviewing old retired and retiring fire dogs, wondering if interviews aimed at preserving fire history and wisdom could put the interviewee and/or their coworkers at risk for criminal lawsuits. Crazy world, eh?

Don't be a stranger to theysaid, my friend. Does this make you an old fire dog? haw haw Ab.

2/5 The newest Drought Monitor is out.

I wonder how well the "resource allocation" that Mr. Rey talked
about in his recent Congressional testimony will work?.... Hopefully
not as poorly as last fire season.

So much for El Nino?

Higbee

Extreme drought... Tetons, Yellowstone, West Texas, Minnesota, more. wow.

2/5 Firescribe,

Don't forget that the Fire side of the Forest Service has their funding appropriated
under the Interior Appropriations Bill and I don't believe those levels have been
released yet.

Appropriations Watcher

2/5 Breaking news

Fallen firefighters bill on CA governor's desk

www.pe.com/breakingnews/local/stories/PE_News_Local_D_webfighters1.cb7065.phpl

A bill that would distribute more than $1 million in donations to survivors of the five firefighters killed in the Esperanza Fire in October is now on the governor's desk awaiting his signature.

Senate Bill 41, the California Fallen Firefighters Assistance Tax Clarification Act, exempts the contributions from rules that prevent tax-exempt organizations such as the United Way from giving so much money to a small group of people.

The measure - authored by Sen. Jim Battin, R-La Quinta and co-authored by Assemblyman John Benoit, R-Palm Desert -- passed its final hurdle in the California Senate today. Battin said he expects the governor to sign the bill by mid-week. It's possible the governor will come to Riverside County to do so, he said.

for more, check the link

2/5 Hi Ab

Someone had asked the canuck pre-employment fitness standard test. The two steps for the British Columbia test follow.

1) Pack Test: a job specific test where participants are required to carry a 20.43 kg (45 lb.) backpack over a measured, level, 4.83 km. (3 mile) course in less than 45:00 minutes. This test measures both muscular and aerobic fitness in individuals.

2) Pump and Hose (PH) Test: a job specific test using standard BCFS fire suppression equipment. Participants carry a Wajax Mark III pump a distance of 100m (328 feet), and then are timed to carry 4 lengths rolled hose 300m (984 feet), and drag one end of a charged 1½ inch hose 200m (656 feet). This test must be completed in less than 4 minutes and 10 seconds.

* Participants are allowed a minimum of 15 minutes rest between the Pack Test and start of the Pump Hose Test. Failing any component constitutes an overall test failure.

Smokedawg
2/5 Casey

Good job. On my district we did not drop any Engine Crews to 5 day staffing. We just
down staffed 2 out of 5 of our Engine Crews due to lack of funding. Our Fire
Management Plan states that our district “Draw Down” level is 3 engines. So basically
we start every day during Fire Season at Draw Down, so legally I am unable to send
any resources to assist with fires off forest.

John V Estes
DFMO
2/5 From Firescribe:

Ab,

I know passage of the CA bill was posted here, too, but here's an
article from the same Idyllwild Town Crier ... good news:
Assembly eliminates state tax on Esperanza gifts

Now for the other news:

Johanns Outlines President Bush's FY 2008 Agriculture Budget

B.C. firefighters caught in Australian pay row

Air tanker base moves to Santa Maria CA

2/5 Here is a article about the preliminary hearing for Raymond Oyler, in the
Esperanza Fire murder and arson charges.

Ron Altig
Gorge FMO

Oyler hearing set for March 19
www.idyl.com/pages/stories/story2.phpl

2/5 Dear AB:

Can you put a link to our testimony (attached) on They Said? It has been provided
to Sen. Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee
for inclusion into the official record for the 1-30-07 hearing on wildfire suppression
costs.

Thanks,

Casey

FWFSA testimony (doc file)

2/5 Ab,

For those still following Ted Putnam’s work on Mindfulness, the following article was co-authored by Ted Putnam and Karl Weick in the Journal of Management Inquiry, and published Sept. ’06.

It’s available here: http://jmi.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/15/3/275

For those who want to read it, but who can’t access it above, I’d be happy to send a copy for educational purposes.

Putnam and Weick continue to lead the field in this specific area. Those interested in making the fire ground safer can’t do it through rules and witch hunts. They CAN however pursue that goal by supporting an environment in which minds, as well as bodies, are trained to be at the cutting edge of their high performance potential.

Shari Downhill
2/5 Readers/Firefighters:

Please go to the IAWF survey and take it, if you haven't already. (Info and survey links are above.) It is imperative that the info on the outfall of the 30mile law (P.L. 107-203) gets sent from the ground up.

I heard over the weekend that on one NorCal forest, a very large proportion of its mid-level fire staff have applied to CDF or to county/city fire departments. These people are in the same category where we have a lack of applicants now, because no one is trained and experienced enough to fill in (supts, squaddies, captains, DIVS, ICT3) and because the hiring process is too cumbersome. I didn't have the presence of mind to write down the numbers or their red card certs. I am seeking those now to add that detail to this post. I did ask if those seeking to leave knew about the IAWF survey and was assured fire management had sent out an email. This survey info is the kind of information we must get to congress. I hope that people -- even those who are making moves to leave -- will fill out the survey.

Given that we had 3500+ people signed up on the hotlist forum alone prior to going to our new format, I am sure that we will have large numbers of responses to the IAWF survey. I expect in the thousands. It takes only moments to do it. I am now getting emails from the east coast indicating that some round-robin mailings to fire folks are getting through to those eastern folks via fire email channels. However, I heard from someone this morning who was at a southeast meeting in the last few weeks: when he asked if the issue regarding criminalization of firefighters was on their radar screens, they replied that it was, and many of them simply weren't going to come west to participate next season. Those folks did not know about the survey. We need to let them know.

Please, if you know wildland firefighters in the east, southeast, and across the nation, send the information on the survey out to them. Send it also to PIOs, fire finance folks and "militia". Send it to ADs and EFF. Get it to FS, BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA firefighters, etc including firefighters on interagency teams. Best way to get the info out is to send them the link to IAWF Executive Director Bill Gabbert's informational post (or copy and paste it into the email) and to the IAWF survey (http://tinyurl.com/yo7nj6). We must have some way to quantify the problem so we can alert the WO and our Congress and our Public before fire season rolls around in earnest.

Ab.

2/5 Ab, Thought this was worth sharing. JW

Ab note: Please keep the behind the scenes support going for Ellreese and all of us. It's good to see that Linda is doing her part to pass on info that keeps people up to date.

As discussed yesterday, Jim attended the arraignment for Ellreese Daniel to support him and all firefighters. Wanted to share Jim's note.

Linda Goodman
Regional Forester, Pacific Northwest Region

----- Original Message -----

From: James Boynton
Sent: 01/31/2007 02:02 PM
Subject: Yesterday's arraignment

Yesterday I was able to attend the arraignment of our employee Ellreese Daniels in federal court in Spokane. Ellreese was present with his attorney, Christina Hunt. The federal judge advised him of the charges against him; 4 counts of involuntary manslaughter and 7 counts of giving false statements to a federal investigator. His attorney entered a plea of not guilty on all counts, on his behalf. A new judge was assigned and a trial date was set for March 26. Ms. Hunt indicated the trial date will likely be delayed until sometime later this year. After speaking with Ms. Hunt, I’m confident in her ability to defend Ellreese against the charges and believe she will serve him well.

There were more than 20 Forest employees, retirees and friends of Ellreese there to provide him support and he was extremely appreciative of their presence.

There was also a considerable amount of media present. I was pleased that I was able to share with the media our support of Ellreese and the far-reaching negative impacts criminalizing of fire fighting decisions has had on our workforce and ability to effectively respond to incidents.

We will continue to keep you updated as things unfold.

Jim

2/5 From Old Fire Guy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: February 2, 2007
Subject: Fire Liability and Safety
To: National Leadership Team

On January 30, 2007, Mark Rey, Under Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment, testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on fire cost containment. Senator Pete Dominici (R-NM) questioned him on how the administration would improve the focus on firefighter safety. Mr. Rey’s answer was well received by the committee.

Mr. Rey outlined these actions are needed:

  • Work to amend PL 104-208 sec. 636 to allow fire line supervisors to
    receive the same reimbursement privileges enjoyed by supervisors and law
    enforcement officers for liability insurance.
  • Work to clarify PL 107-203 to reflect that the independent
    investigations are conducted to obtain lessons learned and are separate
    from appropriate administrative and criminal investigations.
  • Work towards the implementation of protocols in accident
    investigations to help firefighters have the confidence to provide complete
    and candid information so that these investigations can serve to improve
    our risk management practices.

Completion of this work will require action by Congress and the Administration. In my judgment these actions will enhance our safety program and move the Forest Service towards a culture of risk management.

As your Chief, I have always been committed to our firefighters and our safety programs. I hope these recent developments serve as evidence of my support.

/s/ Dale N. Bosworth
DALE N. BOSWORTH
Chief

2/5 any canucks want to explain what the canadians do for
the WCT.....i think it's quite a bit harder than what
we do.

44 min 59 seconds every year

jd
2/5 Abs & All,

I just read an incredible human factors story about bureaucratic bungling as it relates
to the safety of our structural firefighter bros and sisters. What happened to engineer
Schmidt occurs far too frequently in our line of work; if you don't like the message,
shoot the messenger.

This is a great example of how NOT to address a serious safety issue...

Here's the link:

www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16890732/

Misery Whip
2/5 Ab,

Having been in the radio biz for about 45 years, I
have not been a big fan of the FCC in years past. It
seems the present "kinder, gentler" FCC is really
trying to provide radio spectrum re-allocation that
will benefit all. It is a monumental task to move
frequencies around, in order to provide for
ever-increasing demand, without crushing a few toes.

I do know a plan has been approved, which will go into
effect in 2009, whereby television broadcasters in the
upper 700 MHZ frequencies will have to vacate (crushed
toes) to free up spectrum for public safety. How that
will affect the Wildland Fire community remains to be
seen.

Narrow-banding (squeezing the existing channels) to
provide more channels in a given chunk of spectrum is
supposed to provide considerably more channels by 2018.

Point is, FCC is not sitting on its hands. When the
smoke clears (pun intended) we shall see if big
business or public safety scores the points.

On another subject, our family has two "Shots" lined
up and ready for the coming fire season. They know
they have to watch out for themselves and their
buddies, no matter what. They love the business. One
of them says, "I love dirt in my food and sweat on
my........ never mind.

Be careful out there.

Hotshot Dad
2/5 Sorry to break up all the dialogue on 30 mile and WCT. There is another important topic that needs to be addressed and I hope it gets a lot of attention in Reno. I am frustrated and disgusted by the hiring process that we have. There are key positions that are not being filled, and now, I hear talk of shutting engines down this coming fire season because of it. My Forest has had key positions that have not been filled for over a year, how does this happen?

I know there is a lot of focus of what's going on in WA, but we need to turn some of that attention to getting positions filled. This has been going on for over a year now and something needs to be done. I cannot get these questions answered on my Forest, so I ask them here:

1. Why are so many positions not being filled?
2. Why does it take so long to make a selection?
3. Why is there no accountability?
4. How do the heads in the Region let this happen?
5. Who is in charge?

Not to be rude, but I don't need an explanation of how we got here, we all know that already.

Everyone who is affected by the hiring deserves an explanation and to have some folks accountable for putting together a process that does not work.

Signed,

Let's get the hiring back to the Forests

2/4 I would like to wish Jody McKay a Happy, Happy Birthday!!!

Luv ya!

BatGrl12
2/4 Ab

Nice little poem you penned there responding to 7107. Liked Lucky Lindy's too,

Australia kicking again:
www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21171823-1702,00.phpl
To save the tired minds reading this after the game; 40° in Australian is 104° in American.

ht
2/4 Yep, pack test, back when i was a youngin' we didn't have a regulation "pack". We had to hike up into the hills and wallop a young cougar, lug its carcass down the hill, weigh it in and if if weighed less than 45 lbs, we'd have to do it agin'. When you came back down with a 45 pounder, then and only then could we start the test. Usually bout half way through the dang cat would come to and be a tad fussy, but we didn't complain. We carried on.

Heck, we'd always lose a couple lads to the scurvy bout a half hour in. We'd have to step over their carcasses with a fussy cougar on our backs. Still no complaining. Sure was nice when they let us wear boots and do it in the daylight too. Still though, us old guys figgered the new youngins' had it way too easy.

Well I could go on and on but I have to get to work. I run a grizzly farm here in the northwest and we've got an artificial insemination project on the go and we boys are takin' a break to reattach a few limbs before gettin' back at 'er.

Have a good one!

SD

haw haw.

2/4 Blue hut
Monkey butt!!!

Lotta talk
Swampy walk,,,

Mop up... Cold trail
Fire boogers... Never fail

Groundpig, the poet

Good one. Ab.

2/4 Abs,

Call me old fashioned, but I thought the WCT was the
old guys salvation from the mile and a half run for time.

Airtac
2/4 count me as one of those injured during the WCT - - - five years ago i hurt my hip during the test. at the time, i was 48, w/ a completed but not signed off TFLD taskbook with every intention of moving to ICT3. i was carded (and very active) as ICT4 and RXB2 (also very active). the next two years i took moderate so that i could continue w/ rx burning. now my hip bothers me too much even for that. no, i did not fill out any paperwork, though, in retrospect, i wish i had.

please - no signature. thanks.

Always fill out the paperwork.

I was humpin' the track, doin' the WCT.
Piss pump on my back, set a pace to see.
My knees were fine, my back was strong
Thought I was a winner, but, boy, was I wrong.

Ya load 45 pounds, whad ya get?
Crank up the pace and out goes the hip
Dispatch, don't ya call me, cause I can't come
I gotta nurse this sore hip, now ain't that dumb?

(My rhyming ability is minimal; nothing about your long term injury, which is significant...) Ab.

2/4 Todd, (post 2/1)

Sad to report but, according to Stihl the paperwork GSA was requiring was not the usual and was very complex, so they did not renew, "to many hoops to hop thru". Now the taxpayer is going to foot the bill for list price chainsaws minus 10-15% off. and no tax.

It was nice while we could get 044R's for $450 a pop and an 066R for just over $500. Last time I checked an 044R would run us around $635 at the local saw shop, (the same shop who would receive and service our GSA saws). I believe Huskaqvarna still has a GSA contract. Why is it we try and fix what is not broken?

I live by the motto "trust the tried and true and validate and try the new and innovative". Hows that for a combi?

sc (see cutter)

2/4 Abercrombie; Seems like to me you were a little hard on the Lld Man of the dept. I am 62 retired officially in 2003. I spent plenty of time bent over various implements of destruction including chain saws. Ate lots of smoke, got a bad knee had back surgery in 1998 and yes I can still pass the pack test. I think there will always be plenty of able bodied folks out there to take care of the pups.

7107

7107,
Theysaid Burnout

You fight fires all week, whad ya get?
A whole week more tired, whad ya bet?
My family keeps a callin, but no dinner bone,
I owe my soul to this digital tome.

Ab.

2/4 16 tons

With a high Temp of -15, I might as well write a song.

I'll be the first to admit that this one is corny, I cannot hold a candle to the Fire Poet's talent but here goes.

You must sing this one to the tune of "16 Tons". I hope we all remember this, it goes like this---

You load 16 tons what do you get?/ Another day older and a deeper in debt.

OK here's how you sing it. Replace the song's original words with mine. Now sing along with me.

I was born in the smoke when the sun wouldn't shine,
I picked up my combie and I walked to the line,
We cut 27 chains before 3 o'clock,
And got hit in the A** with a slurry drop.

You fight fire all week, whad do ya get?
7 days older and a deeper in debt,
My wife keeps a callin but I can't come home,
Cause I gotta milk this fire till it's dry as a bone.

If you see the flames a comin, you better step aside,
Alot of us didn't and alot of us died,
It's got one flank of Iron, and the other of Steel,
If the right one doesn't get you, then the left one will,

You fight fire all week, whad do ya get?
Another week older and a deeper in debt,
My wife keeps a callin, but I can't come home,
Cause I gotta milk this fire till it's dry as bone.

Thats all folks.

Add any verses or make edits as necessary,
I hope to hear you singing this summer.

Lucky Lindy

Nice. Ab.

2/4 Yaktak suggests that we modify PL 107-203 to have the USDA OIG investigate all the deaths of USFS fire personnel, regardless of cause. I would hope that they could do a better job than USDA-IOG Special Agent Parker did on Thirtymile.

Instead, I would suggest that there are already several investigative groups out there to fill that role, and are capable of doing it much better that the USDA-OIG.

First, Fed OSHA has the responsibility to investigate the on-job deaths of all Federal employees, and have been doing so on wildfire burnovers since 1993, including South Canyon, Thirtymile and Cramer (and I'm sure on Esperanza, too!).
There is also the Congressionally-mandated investigations that the NIOSH group has been doing since about 1998 on ALL firefighter fatalities (structural, wildfire, whatever). Their reports are at www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/default.phpl. The problem with NIOSH is that they are underfunded and understaffed, but they ARE fire professionals who can do a better job than the USDA-OIG folks who spend most of their time in grain silos and slaughter houses.

Make NIOSH whole, and then hold them accountable to produce a quality report in a timely manner. Don't give special Agent Parker another excuse to come into our world!

Mollysboy

2/4 Re WCT:

Ab, sorry to create such outcome.

Let's take me from the top, You can post this if you want, but it is mainly for you. Never got involved with the fire service until I was 50, jumped through the hoops and got red carded at 64, maintained it every year since. Yes I am with a Vol. Dept. And only carry a basic red card. And one of reasons I continue to do so is what I was taught before I became involved with the fire service, "LEADERSHIP" by example. If I do the pack test, then no one who is younger than me can complain about it.

No, I have not cut that much line, or humped that many hose packs. But I do know if one of our units rolls up on your fire that they will have a certified Eng Boss on it and all the crew is red carded and most of them EMTs or ParaMedics.

My background where I took physical beating was 20 years in the United States Marine Corps., to include 3 tours in Viet Nam, 1 with a Recon Bn, 1 with a Inf Bn. and 1 with a Inf Reg Hq. I have humped a lot places there, stateside and various other little no longer known brush fires. Smoke is bad we all know that, but agent orange didn't do us much good either.

I am dam*d proud of my Service then and now. Also that I can still do the WCT. No treadmill, I do run on the street at 0430 also have a home gym. You have My Email feel free to contact me. Publish in any way you want.

The Old Man of the Dept.
USMC Ret

Thanks for the good reply. Leading by example is critical. We should each strive for that. You should be proud of your service. We are. Also glad you survived to help us out with fires here at home. Carry on. Ab.

2/4 Rogue Rivers - you make an excellent point about knowing the true facts about fire events versus "common knowledge" or generally accepted numbers that may not be based in Fact. When we look at the Federal, State, County, Rural, Volunteers and Contractors, it's really tough to get a specific number of people taking the WCT; firefighter days spent on the fireline (and at what condition the fire was burning); miles driven to/from/on a fire; even number of hours/missions flown by aircraft on fire assignments.

Probably the best numbers relating to fatalities deals with the 2 deaths of smokejumpers in parachuting accidents: we know that there are about 380 jumpers nationally, and they average about 20 jumps per person per year, practice and fire (specific numbers are available at the bases). So 380 X 20 = 7600 jumps per year times 17 years (1990-2006) = 129,000 total jumps. 2 fatalities means a frequency of 0.0000154, or 0.0154 fatalities per 1000 jumps. These numbers are a good guess, but can be tightened down even more because of the small numbers of individuals and the tight controls we have at the 9 US bases.

No way we can get good numbers on the other events that are killing and/or injuring firefighters. It will take a determined emphasis by the managers/chiefs at all the agencies that fight wildfire to get better data, which can then lead us to improved risk management and mitigation.

Dick Mangan
2/4 Ab,

Your response to “Old Man” is spot on!! Where we need a standard that sets and measures the firefighter abilities to meet that standard. I am not sure that the WCT is that standard, after 26 years, 22 in In Wildland fire and before that 4 year as a US Army Infantryman, taking the WCT has become a pain! Years of climb mountains with loads on my back has come back to roost, my joints, (knees) are paying the price!! Having said that, I’ll keep taking the WCT until I retire or the agencies come up with a new standard to measure firefighter physical fitness and ability to do this job.

One question. Is there any data out there on the number of FF’s who have sustained injuries while taking or training for the WCT.

Olympic Engine

2/4 WCT Fairness?

Problem with this test, it is not fair to all. I can do over 100 sit ups and still do more, 25 pull ups no problem, 50-75 push ups, no problem either. I can climb a 30 ft rope without using my feet. Now I only weigh 125 lbs and big guys will say it is because I am light that I can do this and they can't! Well if the test was "fair", the weight you carry would match the amount you weigh. 2.7 times 45 lbs is my weight and using this math formula, a 195 lb person should carry 72.2 lbs to have the same effect on them for the weight as 45 lbs has on me. Adding 45 lbs to a big guy does not test his heart near as much as it would me. That is just like having me do 25 pull ups compared to a guy who weighs 195 lbs doing them. It is not the weight so much as it is the short legs and the speed/time required to do this test for someone my size. I have to take a lot more steps than a tall person does, so really my test is much harder. A tall person should maybe do another mile further to get his wind up like mine will be. This test is not about carrying the 45 lbs for 3 miles, it is about how fast you can carry it.

Now for the 70 year old guy who has never worn out any parts on his body, it must be nice to have led a life that spared your body, but I worked construction for 38+ years and never owned or used a tread mill. I get my exercise at work but also took a lot of years off my knees and ankles. Moving real fast is a little harder on these old knees and I hate to just take more years off them to prove they can haul 45 lbs around real fast! So I guess I won't be able to contract a Tactical Tender this year for the USFS. I will still fight fires on my off days as a Volunteer Wildland Firefighter and contract as a regular Tender 'cause the test is easy without the 45 lbs!

Tender R6/US Army also

2/4 Growing Systemic Safety Issue?

COMMUNICATIONS

Tahoe Terrie

2/4 Concerning Frequencies:

Not only have crew freqs been retrieved by FCC, R5 (Pacific Southwest Region),
Travel Net has also been retrieved. FCC is tightening the usage of Freqs big time
this year. We are trying our hardest to keep the AM freqs for IA right now with
the radio shop in Boise.

R5 Dispatcher

2/4 Old Man of the Dept

I congratulate you on your accomplishments in life, I am amazed at your age you take and complete the WCT at the Arduous Level. Maybe we should contact the Guinness Book of World Records.

I have just one question. I am assuming at your age you work for a Volunteer Fire Dept. You stated that all personnel in your dept are required to participate in the WCT regardless if they have Wildland Fire Duties. Isn’t this a little risky? I work with and have been a member of a Volunteer Fire Companies and I would be very cautious of requiring that they pass the WCT.

Volunteer Firefighters are essential to our success but we use them in the capacity they have. I am always thankful to see the Water Tender arrive with our local Volunteers operating it, assisting in traffic control etc, but I would never ask or require the WCT of them and I’m sure they don’t want to take it. They just want to help in anyway they/we can.

Thanks to all the Volunteer Firefighters and Companies in this great country.

Brushboy

Ditto on the thanks to Volunteers. Ab.

2/4 Mr. Mangan and Lobotomy,

Thank you for the links on Fire Investigation. I have my reading cut out for me now!

Domaque.

2/4 I've read the supposed 90% success rate of folks taking the WCT passing... I have also read the supposed 98% success rate of "initial attack"....

Where do folks get their numbers from and can their facts be re-created in the forms of factual peer reviewed research?

I want to make sure I have the same data set and am actually studying the same inputs and outcomes with different "outputs".... For me, it is not simple math, but a true comparison of risk vs. gain without distractors to the findings...

It only takes one WCT to kill a firefighter.... It only takes one fire that has escaped initial attack to kill a firefighter....

Sorry for adding such a complex set of variables "to such an easy mathematical equation".... I agree in advance, it shouldn't have to be rocket science.

Rogue Rivers
2/4 RE the 12 WCT related deaths:

Possibly any re-write of PL 107-203 should include the following capitalized verbiage I have added to the text of the law....

" In the case of each fatality of an officer or employee of the Forest Service that occurs due to wildfire entrapment or burnover OR IN PREPARATION FOR FIREFIGHTING, the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture shall conduct an investigation of the fatality. The investigation shall not rely on, and shall be completely independent of, any investigation of the fatality that is conducted by the Forest Service."

yactak

2/4 Ab, I just know you were waiting for me to chime in, so here goes. I am 70, pushing 71 and plan on taking the WCT again this year. I feel that the only one that should be administered is the arduous. I get an annual physical from my personal Doctor. I work out on the home gym, jog 3.5 mi at least 3 mornings a week.

If I can do it, why can't these young pups, (younger than me). Our policy is everyone in the Dept takes the test yearly, whether they are going to do wildlands or not.

If an individual will take the responsibility for their own health and keep it up year round, then they won't have too many problems. I just have never been able to see why there is so much talk about the test. If a person can't walk 3 mi with 45 lb then maybe they ought to seek other work. As has already been said. Better to go down on the track than in the middle of nowhere.

Semper Fi
Old Man of the Dept

I feel like you're bragging to the choir here, Old Man. You may be operating on a level playing field, but the rest are likely operating in the mountains. I guess I'd want to know

  • how many seasons did you cut line on a hotshot crew?
  • for how many hours night and day?
  • how many chains of line did you cut, hunched over a pulaski?
  • how many jumps did you make into the backcountry where you then had to pack ALL your gear out afterwards?
  • how many hosepacks did you hump up the line day in and day out?
  • how much smoke did you suck for how many years?

Many wildland firefighters do such joint-wearing, cancer-creating work for their entire careers. Did you? A treadmill and jogging on a track are not the equivalent.

What's the highest redcard rating you hold? What kind of wildland fire experience do you have? I'm glad you're old and in great health and continuing to work to keep yourself fit. That's excellent. Many firefighters I know have and are doing the same with different results, because of their years of body-wearing service. My guess is that your background does not compare with many experienced career wildland firefighters who have put their bodies on the line for all of us and whose wildland fire expertise we continue to need. Brains or brawn? It would be nice to have both, but we need experience (brains) to keep the pups safe while they grow, experience wise, into middle management positions. Abercrombie.

2/3 Ab,

Here is an excellent website regarding serious accident investigations.

The website contains a lesson plan, powerpoints, investigation guides, case studies, charts, and handouts.

www.nifc.gov/safety_study/accident_invest/inter_accident_invest.php

Misery Whip,

When you said 5x5.... It made me flash back to the In-N-Out Burger "Secret Menu" website.

MW, we do our WCTs in a fairly large city (250,000+ people). Our WCTs only have an EMT-B on scene without Advanced Life Support medications or tools such as an AED. (Problem 1). Often times, even within a large city, it can take in excess of 6-8 minutes for Advanced Life Support to arrive on scene of a medical emergency.

The pre-medical screening for the WCT is awful.... (Problem 2).... and it has gotten even worse now that the Health Screening Questionnaires are being approved by the REGIONAL OFFICE....

The determination of what position on the fireline needs what level of WCT needs to be re-evaluated against risk vs. gain. (Problem 3). I can still out hike many of the young pups on the fireline.... but I don't carry a 45 pound pack and I surely don't walk as fast.... I am an endurance hiker..... something that is sorely missing in the current WCT stuff.

I have been an ICT3 for 16 years now and I didn't drop my ICT3 or other quals after Cramer or Thirtymile (so far).... and I can still hike.... and I dam* still can manage fires to the best of my ability.... even though my knees are weak....

On another note, there is case law (precedent) on employer required capacity (ability to perform assigned work or duties) testing and how it must accurately reflect the work being performed..... I'll leave that for another date.

Lobotomy
2/3 Re Moderate STEN

Aberdeen,

So the 310-1 says:
TFLD - Arduous
STEN - Moderate
STDZ - Moderate
STPL - Moderate
STCR - Arduous
DIVS - Arduous

Nice to know as I get to old to lug that 45 lb pack around the track I can step down from ICT3 and DIVS and be a STEN/STDZ/STPL and still get my hazard pay. But I do recall back in 1997 being on a fire east of Darby Mt. on the Bitterroot NF and meeting a STEN working with a strike team of RFD engines from ID. He was an USFS employee and it had been 5 years since he had been on a fire. The local FMO had convinced him to help out with taking the RFD engines and STEN-t. He was assured it would be an easy assignment cause they were Type 5 eng. His strike team was tasked with putting in a hose lay to support the hand crews. Last time I saw him he had a Mark 3 pump on his back and headed up hill.

Midwest Fire Guy

2/3 Here is the first WCT Administrator's Guide (1998):
www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/pdfpubs/pdf98512810/pdf98512810.pdf

Here is the most recent WCT Administrator's Guide (2003):
www.nwcg.gov/pms/pubs/PMS931.pdf

I hear that a 2007 WCT Administrator's Guide is in the works... only a rumor so far although different
procedures are already being implemented.

Here is something Brian Sharkey, Ph.D wrote in 1999 describing the development of the WCT:
www.iawfonline.org/summit/2001%20Presentations/proceedings/Brian%20J.%20Sharkey%20.doc

Here is something Brian Sharkey, Ph.D wrote in 2004 in the form of "Talking Points":
www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/wct/2004/2004_WCT_TalkingPointsand_Q&A.pdf

Dick Mangan pointed out that there have been 12 WCT related deaths since 1998. I would bet
that the total number of federal employees killed by burnovers since 1998 is somewhat similar,
but far more on the radar screen of those interested in safety.

The facts are out there.
Noname
2/3 I just heard that the FCC has taken away the 5 designated intercrew radio frequencies
designed for Hotshot Crews. That the FCC has and will set up frequency intercepters
on incidents to find out who is using unapproved freqs. The FCC also stated that they
will FINE $10,000 per transmission. You think radio traffic is bad now, just wait until
the crews cant use intercrew freqs.

Any answers to this madness?
Bullshavick
2/3 Brush Boy - not to be too nit-picky, but...... my April 2006 version of 310-1
says that a Strike Team Leader Engines (STEN) requires a MODERATE
fitness level (it's on page 60). The only Strike Team Leader position that
requires ARDUOUS is for Crews.

Aberdeen
2/3 Interested - you asked about fatalities that occurred taking the WCT. I'm just finalizing an Update to the 1990-1998 Fatalities report from MTDC; it will cover 1990-2006, all causes.

The basis is the yearly NWCG Safety Gram, and shows 12 deaths related to taking/preparing for the WCT: 10 were heart attacks, and 2 from "other medical causes". None have occurred in 2005 or 2006. The victims were Federal (7), State (3), Volunteer (1) and contractor (1).

During those 17 years, 74 people died from Heart Attacks and other medical reasons.

The big killers were, and still are, Heart Attacks (22%), Vehicle Accidents (23%), Aircraft wrecks (23%), and burnovers (21%).

The Updated report will be available form MTDC and the NWCG Safety & Health Working Team about April 1st.

Dick Mangan
2/3 jd

Don’t apologize, I asked for input and you gave it and I appreciate it. That’s what this forum Ab provides for us is for, discussion. I am just a looking at an injury I have that might affect me. I am still very capable of walking and working the fire line and still do. I just took offensive of the pickup jockey comment, which some folks do and dislike it as much as you do.

Have you noticed in the 310-1 that a Strike Team Leader Engine is Arduous and a Dozer STL is Moderate? Who do you think should be in better physical conditions.

Brush Boy
2/3 Mollysboy,
In regards to Lobotomy's post about the ICT1 that failed the WCT at the moderate level....

I do not believe Lobo was off mark as he never said that the ICT1 failing the WCT at the moderate level made that individual unqualified to perform as an ICT1 or ICT2. As you know the FS Qualification and Training Handbook, 5109.17 matches the PMS 310-1 as far as ICT1 & 2 physical quals... NONE. My take on Lobo's post is that:

1. One does not need to take the WCT to perform as an ICT1 or 2. This shows that the agencies believe that one's brain is not always tied to ones knees and back.

2. Technically, an ICT1 or 2 that does not have an "arduous" rating on their Incident Qualification Card cannot perform in the "lesser" complex position of ICT3, 4 or 5... hmmmmm... Something is wrong with that picture.

Just my take on Lobo's post....

yactak
2/3 Lobotomy,

I'm usually 5 x 5 with you, my friend, but I have to say I disagree with you about some of the things you said about the WCT. I do agree that it is terrible when people die taking the pack test. But I would rather see someone have a heart attack in a controlled situation with EMTs and advanced life support nearby than while wandering around way out in the boonies. At least they stand a fighting chance of getting to a hospital and surviving the heart attack.

Unfortunately, there will always be people with undiagnosed heart conditions in our business, ticking time bombs waiting to go off. The WCT may actually give some of those people a better chance of surviving a heart attack.

I don't think the WCT is unfair. If I can't carry 45 lbs for three miles on flat ground, then I probably shouldn’t be traipsing around with 30 lbs of line gear in steep gnarly country anyway. We've all seen those individuals who supposedly have passed the pack test but are slower than slug snot hiking in steep country. When those people are in supervisory positions, they impede progress because it takes them longer to get around and assess things.

You should cut Dr. Sharkey some slack too. He is really a caring and dedicated gentleman who has done more to improve knowledge of wildland firefighter physiology, fitness, and health hazards to firefighters than any other individual, living or dead. The politics involved in implementing something like the pack test are absolutely insane, and the nature of his work makes him an easy target. But he cares deeply about the welfare of firefighters, and perseveres despite the negative things some people have said about his work.

As far as making ICT3 moderate, I could go either way. I gave up my ICT3 and Burn Boss quals after Cramer so this topic doesn't affect me directly. I agree the experience is needed at that level, but on the other hand, maybe this is just another symptom of a sick system that needs an influx of leadership, money, career development, training, job security, etc. Too many old codgers like us who are bumping retirement and not enough young guns coming in behind us is going to create a critical ICT3 shortage within the next few years.

Misery Whip
2/3 lobotomy,

the topic was type3 ic's not type one or two. i gave
my opinion and stand by it. i won't even to begin to
argue science, human factors, or anything else along
those line with you because you would crush my pea
sized brain like a grape. in my humble opinion
serving as a type 1 or 2 ic, in which i have
absolutely zero experience, seems to be a lot less
physically taxing than working a type 3 back country
fire that requires hiking in and out of steep terrain
with your pack and overnight gear. please don't take
my opinion of requiring physical standards with not
appreciating the experience and knowledge that have
taken decades to acquire. this will probably go
round and round for awhile, but in the end i think
most would agree in having some form of physical
ability and accountability for those in the field
doing the job. look at some of municipal fire
departments around the country that continue to have
folks who have tons of experience die from heart
attacks year after year because they are out of shape.
i don't know what a fair test looks like, and i don't
really know where the fair cutoff would be in the
chain of command of who would have to pass.

jd
2/2 Dear Dick Mangan and Ken Kempter,

You are both a breath of fresh air in this crazy job of wildland firefighting!
I have had the opportunity to talk to Ken in person and read Mr. Mangan's
posts, and I will tell all how much of a difference it has made to a burnover
victim. I feel like there is support out there!

Thank you both for your work! You guys are truly ahead of the curve!

-brushfire

2/2 Lobotomy - in spite of your long-term record of posting "good stuff", I'm afraid you really blew it when you said that a well respected Type 1 IC failed the "Moderate Level" WCT: he/she might have failed the WCT at the Moderate level, but the April 2006 version of PMS 310-1, on page 31, says that, under Physical Fitness Level, there is NONE REQUIRED to be a Type 1 Incident Commander (same on page 32 for Type 2 ICs.).

Mollysboy
2/2 Dick Mangan,

Thank you for you your service and for helping to keep wildland firefighters safer back then, now, and in the future. It is greatly appreciated by many of us who actively study safety and the causes for systemic or organizational failures and how the bureaucratic process and the lack of organizational learning always bites us in the butt when we least expect it.... and somehow, sometimes, "stuff" just happens.....

Are there any differences between Investigating Wildland Fire Entrapment (1995) and Investigating Wildland Fire Entrapments: 2001 Edition? If so, could you please explain..... Are there any cultural, personal, or political changes that were made between the two versions?

Also, how do these two documents complement or conflict with various "current" Agency procedures, documents, policies, and training in conducting required serious accident investigations (SAI's) and how they are failing in allowing lessons to be learned in 2007?.....

Will things be different under a Just Culture?.... or different under a Learning Culture?....

Thanks Dick.... you are a friend.... Just asking questions... Sitting back now and listening and learning.....

Kenneth Kempter
2/2 How many people have died taking or preparing for the pack test?

I ask the question again like I did a few years ago (and never got a true answer) because to me the official record of fire fatalities (and cause) is flawed. I think this is a question that needs to be answered. Whatever the cause, heart attack heat stress Etc, Was the person that died taking or preparing for The Pack Test? Lets fess up! Is the government sponsoring a test that has a history of fatalities every year? I think so! Prove me wrong! I agree the test is a good measure of physical fitness, (although I don't agree with the 45 lbs. thing) I take it every year and pass. But I will tell you, my wife is well versed in what to do if I happen to die preparing for or taking the test, and I think it is just a matter of time before a spouse, mother or father takes the federal government or the test administrator to task on this issue in a court of law.

Sign me,

interested in the facts.

2/2 Lobotomy,

The biometric study from Storm King is dead, the company could not get the
extra funding that it needed. The SKM did get a grant but the grant hand to
be matched by other funds.

RR

2/2 Re: Draft NIMS Upgrade

-office slug,

I have requesed a comment form from:

NIMScomments@hsi.dhs.gov

I will also consider sending an e-mail to the same address
above after reading the proposed update.

KPL
2/2 jd,

You asked, "... has anyone ever failed the moderate pack test? please God help us all."

Simple answer is yes. One person in particular was a Type 1 IC and one of the most respected leaders of the last 20 years and one of the most experienced complex incident managers of our time.

For arguments sake, why don't we entertain that the "one size fits" all Work Capacity Test is just not as simple as it appears to some..... For some of us, it is a serious latent safety failure that keeps some of our most experienced folks off the fireline and continues to result in widows..... I agree with you, we should re-consider some of the other positions also......

Does anyone know what happened with the biometric study of the WCT that was being performed by Storm King Technologies?.... That study was funded by the Department of Homeland Security with a grant intended to improve wildland firefighter safety.

Lobotomy
2/2 Hi all -

I got this update today - "the draft NIMS document is posted for public review until February 19 through the following Web Site: www.dhs.gov/xprepresp/programs/gc_1166653070655.shtm. Comment forms can be obtained by emailing NIMScomments@ hsi.dhs.gov. This is the first of two national comment periods on the document." Also, this is not posted on the normal NIMS Web Site, so you have to know where this site is.

From what I have heard so far, there may be some issues with this draft of NIMS document (be sure to look at the appendices). Comments are not weighted by organization, but are taken from all individuals, so this would be a good opportunity to have some input (I've heard they expect like 10,000 comments).

-office slug
2/2 brush boy,

i wish i had a truck. you asked for opinions and i
responded, sorry i disagree with you.

jd
2/2 Information report on Ellreese Daniels’ Arraignment Hearing 1/30/07.

Here's some info and encouragement asking folks to come out and support Ellreese at the upcoming March 13th Pre-trial Hearing in Spokane.

This past Tuesday 1/30/07 a group of us attended the Arraignment Hearing at Spokane Federal Court. Afterwards, we were able to personally talk with Ellreese's attorney, Tina Hunt. She has reviewed and confirmed the following items, and in her words "I think the showing of support is extremely important to Ellreese and to the court."
  1. The pre-trial hearing is set for March 13, 2007 at the Federal Courthouse in Spokane (time TBA);
  2. The judge hearing this case will be the Honorable Fred Van Sickle (FYI - he was previously a Chelan/Douglas County Superior Court Judge);
  3. It is absolutely appropriate for interested people to come into the court room.
  4. The trial is set to start on March 26th, but his lawyer will be asking for a continuance until October 2007;
  5. Tina will probably not know until March if the continuance is granted, then she will let us know of changes;
  6. Finance questions - all of Ellreese’s court related costs are paid by the Public Defender’s Office;
  7. Other finance questions - Ellreese will need financial assistance for incidentals (days off work, travel, overnight stays); court apparel; and if he wants his family brought to Washington for the trial. (For those interested in helping further, we’re setting up a Legal Defense Fund at Cashmere Valley Bank in Leavenworth).
  8. Ellreese truly appreciates any and all support offered; the cards and letters are very important to him; as was the good showing of people at his hearing.

An aside, from my perspective of being at the Arraignment Hearing: There was a decent showing of about 20 of us; it was very significant, I’m glad I took the time to go. But, it was an awful experience, “chilling”, to hear the US Attorney read criminal charges against a USFS employee. I can only imagine how Ellreese is feeling.

On the good side – the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Supervisor, Jim Boynton, showed first-rate leadership by attending, and then, in interviews with media. In a note, he said,

“I was pleased that I was able to share with the media our support of Ellreese and the far-reaching negative impacts criminalizing of fire fighting decisions has had on our workforce and ability to effectively respond to incidents.”

Finally, my heart goes out to the family and friends of our lost four (Tom, Jessica, Karen and Devin) on 30-Mile, as it does to the survivors. There is not a day that those closely associated with 30-Mile do not remember their lost four comrades. It is a tough time for all; we need to help each other through this. Thank you to TheySaid for this important and professional forum.

Sincerely,

Heather Murphy
Retired USFS Wildlife Biologist-Resource Advisor, Colleague and Friend, (02/02/07)

Thanks, Heather. Good support and leadership counts for a lot. Ab.

2/2 jd

You may manage your fires from the cab of your truck, but I don't, never
have, never will. I do it on the ground but not with 45 pounds compressing
my spine.

Brush Boy

2/2 Fire entrapment and burnover investigations have been going on for decades, at least back as far as the Blackwater Canyon Fire in the 1930s. When I started doing investigations in 1990 on the Dude Fire, and then over the following years, it seemed that there was always a new crew of Investigators, except for the folks from MTDC. Because of the frustration of explaining "process" for the first days after an event, when we should have been doing investigative work, I wrote up the guide for "Investigating Wildland Fire Entrapment" in 1995, and updated it after my retirement in 2001. www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/htmlpubs/htm01512823/index.php

Both the original and updated versions were written before Thirtymile and PL 107-203: the report obviously needs revision in light of those events, and what happened after Cramer.

Take a close look at the section labeled "Interview Techniques": it was our best collective judgment on how folks who had just experienced a major traumatic event should be questioned; again, this definitely needs revision in light of PL 107-203 and the activities of OIG and the US Attorneys in Idaho and Spokane.

My point: we always intended that the Investigation Report would be the basis of "Lessons Learned", not "Gotchas" and Administrative/Criminal actions.

Over the years before Thirtymile, we learned critical "Lessons Learned" from the Investigations on Dude, Wasatch, Buchanan, South Canyon, Cedar Mountain and many others: changes in the transition of IMTs; radio communications; fire shelter case design; leadership roles; crew cohesion; and refusing risks: all these were generated by our reports in the 1990's, and I believe resulted in greater firefighter safety. I fear that the opportunities to learn lessons from entrapments and burnovers in 2007 and beyond may be lost if something does change in our risk management culture and legal climate.

Dick Mangan
2/2 “Checking in”… just what does that mean?

If it means showing up, announcing across the hood that you are going to do a certain thing and getting a nod from somebody, then a check-in happened. But if “checking in” involves receiving a briefing and giving information to the IC about the arriving resources (pretty critical I think to establish accountability) then it didn’t happen.

Lesson Learned: During IA or transition it’s a challenge to maintain control and communication with arriving resources. Checking in properly upon arrival is very important. Checking in requires an exchange of information between the arriving resource and the appropriate fire manager (IC or delegated person). Information about the arriving resource needs to be given and a briefing needs to be received with adequate information that will allow the new resource to operate within the 10 orders and mitigate the 18 Watchouts. We are all responsible for following the 10 and mitigating the 18.

NWRG

2/2 Sleep Deprivation:

In fact, the 30mile Review reports how little sleep the crew had prior
to entrapment/deployment. Sleep research shows that people having
the crew's level of sleep deprivation have reactions and thought
processes that are the equivalent of those who are legally drunk.

It's no wonder strong work-rest guidelines came out of 30mile, along
with leadership training (thanks Jim Cook) and lessons learned
regarding fire shelter deployment.

Good review of the incident at the MTDC site and excellent lessons
learned.

Mellie

www.fs.fed.us/t-d/lessons/
username t-d
pw t-d

2/2 All,

In Interrogation of Prisoners of war, the Army trains its interrogators in the concept of "Shock Of Capture". Interrogating someone while the Shock of Capture is still fresh cuts down on the development of cover stories and can get to the actual facts before memory clouds the facts. I think that this concept would apply to fatality investigation such as Thirty Mile and Cramer. If I was an investigator for a fatality fire, I would want to be there as quick as possible to take advantage of the shock, And I would also try to segregate all involved to keep them from talking to each other and deciding on what they were going to tell investigators.

I think that this is pretty standard in all investigations. Shock of Capture is also a standard human reaction that can be counted upon. I think that is why police are required to read the Miranda Rights upon each arrest.

As a Wildland firefighter, My cooperation with investigators would depend on the motivation of the investigators. If the motivation is to assign blame, I don't want to talk to you. You can threaten my job, but I still don't want to talk to you. If the product of your investigation can be used by the Department of Justice to accuse a fellow firefighter, I don't want to talk to you. If your investigation is to learn something, and to prevent an event from happening again, I will tell you everything. I will cooperate with all investigations if I have proper legal council.

On the discussion between Misery Whip and VFD Capt..

I tend to agree with Misery Whip. In any investigation, the point of view of the person plays a big roll in the information received. As to whether Ellreese lied to investigators, What one person believes to be truth may not be reality. It does not mean that the person lied intentionally, It just means they are wrong. As we have seen from many fire fatality investigation reports, they are only as good as the investigators. So much depends on the investigators skill and motivation. Lets not even mention the political motivations of the investigators superiors. Personally, It makes me right off some of the inconsistencies of different witnesses in many of these reports. In the case of the ENGB checking in or not, It is the investigators job to try to lay out the facts. If the investigator believes that the ENGB did not check in, then he needs to put that in the report.

I am sad that the Wildland firefighting community is facing this legal monster. I think that dozershot hit it on the head with his last post. We need to back off, re-assess, and re-engage the problem to the benefit of all. When it comes right down to it, the "Fire does not care what we think."

Domaque
2/2 Properly Documenting Training???

With the advent of numerous on-line courses and agencies trading classroom
hours for video based programs, does anyone know what OSHA's
requirements are for properly documenting training received?

Are certificates adequate documentation (if offered)?
Does the employee need his signature?
Does the supervisor need to verify with a signature?
Are electronic signatures acceptable?
Where can I find OSHA's requirements for properly documenting Training?

Thanks,
Yellow Angel
2/2 Ab note. A number of people have sent this in. Good news.
Messages include:

The Bill is expected to go to the Governor sometime on Monday.

In case you haven't seen.
Take Care, JH

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

CA Assembly Approves Battin-Benoit Effort to Help Firefighter Families
Thu Feb 1, 2007 2:53 pm (PST)

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly this morning unanimously approved Senate Bill 41, the California Fallen Firefighters Assistance Tax Clarification Act, authored by Riverside County legislators Senator Jim Battin (R-La Quinta) and Assemblyman John J. Benoit (R-Bermuda Dunes). The measure now heads back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, and is expected to reach the Governor's desk as soon as Monday.

Assemblyman Benoit presented the measure on the Assembly Floor, saying: "As a former volunteer firefighter, public safety commander, and past president of our local United Way, I am very pleased to be in a position to offer whatever assistance I can the families of these brave men. These firefighters were true heroes, selflessly giving their lives to protect others, and we owe their families our gratitude, our prayers and our full support."

On January 18, the Assembly approved Benoit's measure, Assembly Bill 108 (Benoit), the California Fallen Firefighters Assistance Tax Clarification Act, by a vote of 76-0 on the same day that Senator Battin's SB 41 cleared the Senate. Both bills, which are nearly identical, allow for the disbursement of over $1 million to the families of five firefighters who died while battling the Esperanza fire in October. Last week, Senator Battin and Assemblyman Benoit united their efforts behind one bill, SB 41, in order to move it to the Governor as quickly as possible.

After the October fire, over $1 million was donated to the families of the five U.S. Forest Service firefighters. The money was to be distributed by charitable organizations including the Central County United Way and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, but distribution was postponed when the outpouring of support exceeded specific documented needs. Nearly 5,000 contributors pitched in, in a surge of support for the firefighters' families, raising money in elementary schools, radio talk shows, and Beanie Baby sales.

Congress acted quickly and approved the Fallen Firefighter Assistance Tax Clarification Act of 2006 (HR 6429, by Rep. Mary Bono), providing an exemption to the IRS rule that stalled the distribution. The federal law ensures that the non-profits will not lose their tax-exempt status when they distribute the money. A similar exemption allowed the collection and distribution of funds to families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Assemblyman Benoit represents the mountain community of Idyllwild and his district includes the battalion headquarters of the five brave firefighters who perished in the Esperanza fire last year.

2/2 vfd cap’n,

For someone who puts himself out there as a lessons learned advocate, I’d say there are some important lessons you need to learn if you want to be treated as a credible source of information in the future.

I am puzzled why once again you seem to be defending Agent Parker’s position that Ellreese lied and (apparently) everyone else was telling the truth. Have you never experienced the “fog of war” yourself? Experienced accident investigators know it is both predictable and expected that traumatic incidents such as Thirtymile will frequently yield very different versions of the same event by participants who may have been in the same location. And when you layer over that the undisputed fact that many of the participants were extremely sleep deprived at the critical moments in question, the accuracy of any statement must be taken with a degree of skepticism.

There is a quotation I heard years ago that applies here. This is from memory, sorry if I butcher it:

“On the day of the battle, naked lessons are lying about everywhere and can be had
for free. By the next day, they have already begun to put their clothes back on.”

I’m fairly certain this is just an approximation of the real quote. The point is, as time elapses, individual memories of events subtly change. There is nothing sinister or criminal about this, it is just a very normal human tendency to remember and portray events in a way that casts the best light on the storyteller.

Another point to consider; after the fatalities occurred, anyone who was even peripherally involved with Thirtymile had excellent motivation to distance themselves from Ellreese in any way possible.

I encourage you to get off this person-based approach you seem to be stuck on and look more at the organizational issues that preceded this incident. Instead of going back and rewriting history, you should be looking forward to help insure that future accidents are investigated by trained professionals who understand the information processing limitations of human beings, and who are permitted to delve into contributing organizational influences. Too much time and memory and anger has passed under the bridge for THE truth about Thirtymile to ever emerge.

If the ENGB in question was wrongly portrayed, he has my empathy. But checking in at an incident is still a good lesson regardless of whether it happened or not. The important point is whether it makes people talk and think about checking in and getting briefed on every fire, not who did, or did not, fulfill their responsibility in this particular circumstance.

Another quote for you, from George Herbert:

“Follow not truth too near the heels, lest it dash out thy teeth.”

Misery Whip

2/2 JG,

Thanks for sharing the MTDC Thirtymile Website. I remember visiting it prior to the 2002 fire season as required reading.

A link within the presentation takes you to a training aid that was published prior to the Thirtymile Fire called Fire Shelter Deployment: Avoid the Flames. This training aid has been used as a supplement to fire shelter training for quite some time and actually references past and current suggestions found in Your Fire Shelter - 2001 Edition and The New Generation Fire Shelter (NFES 2710).

"Suggested areas for deployment include paved, gravel, or dirt roads, burned areas that will not reburn (Figure 3), rockslides (Figure 4), or areas cleared by dozers."

"Figure 4: Large rockslides make excellent sites for deploying fire shelters, but firefighters must deploy their shelters well away from grass, brush, and trees.

If those involved in Thirtymile studied their fire shelter materials as all of us do each year during either our initial or refresher training, they obviously would have come across these statements.... in fact, these deployment areas are places I remember being told as the best places to deploy in for over 24 years.....

In terms of looking at this in a Just Culture view and eventually as a Learning Culture, couldn't the actions on the Thirtymile Fire be interpreted as they were doing what they were trained to do?..... or would that divert attention away from the scapegoat Ellreese Daniels and towards a latent systemic failure that relates to training and complex situational awareness?

Until some scientist or other expert can quantify what the best case safety zone is, or worse yet, what a deployment area actually is under the complex set of variables on wildland fires, I cannot even understand how criminal charges could be filed for someone meeting the determinations of gross negligence..... what happened to the Reasonable Man Test?.....

Gizmo

P.S. - I am pleased that Mr. Boche from Region 2 is starting to talk to his troops (day late and a dollar short or not, hopefully he will continue to talk, listen, and learn).... but.... As he mentions a Just Culture and a Learning Culture interchangeably, they are not the same..... A Just Culture is a stepping stone towards our preferred future condition..... a Learning Culture. I somehow think that Mr. Boche was using a set of "Talking Points" to make much of his statement, without truly studying or understanding what he was talking about..... In fact, one of his statements was damn near word for word as found in some internal 'Talking Points".....

P.S.S. - Ab, you are right regarding Tom Harbour and Mark Rey... we should celebrate when folks do the right things... But I am afraid to give any kudos to folks who have sat on their thumbs for so long while so many others around them have had the vision of where we need to go for safety but bureaucratic processes and agency self protection has always trumped Lessons Learned..... Right now, if they want to add to a Just Culture, they need to admit their mistakes and take the lead for change.... otherwise, we are just enabling them to continue their destructive behaviors towards firefighter safety and efficiency that eventually always falls upon the shoulders of the field level firefighters and their families without them EVER sharing any of the responsibility or accountability.

Point taken. I understand your feelings. Ab.

2/2 Does anyone know about what the "Chief's Principal Representative" concept is and how it is going to affect Incident Management Teams and Line Officers this coming fire season?

These two paragraphs should get folks more interested:

"The Chief's Principal Representative (CPR) will assist the assigned Agency Administrator as well as the next level of administration. In working with the local agency administrator, the CPR will be assist in the development of the delegation of authority, review and provide oversight to the development of the wildfire situation analysis (WFSA), and challenge incident management teams and local leadership to develop and execute more effective incident management. In short, the CPR will bring national perspective to fire management."

"The CPR will advise, provide counsel and recommend actions to the current staff, and if needed, the CPR will have the authority to act for local agency administration in order to achieve a greater national goal."

If you read through the lines, it appears that "Big Brother" will be watching, and if needed, replace the local agency administrator (line officer) to meet national goals.

Higbee

2007 National Incident Management Meeting

2/2 lobotomy,

i have no thoughts on type 1&2 ic's. type 3 is much
different, and i think you know that. i'm not saying
that the line is perfectly clear. but for argument's
sake maybe we should make task force leaders or strike
team leaders moderate, or engine captains, or
helitack, or smokejumpers, or.......so on and so on.
where should the line be drawn? i don't make policy i
just have the opinion that having physically as well
as mentally capable firefighters is a bonus.

i'm just curious, has anyone ever failed the moderate
pack test? please God help us all.

jd

2/1 To Boche,

You said:

"It is crucial that we focus on the mission of the upcoming fire season and resist temptations to get distracted. Today’s workplace environment offers ample chances to get distracted. We must sustain our focus in a “safety-first” environment that minimizes risks of injury or death and maximizes the effectiveness of fire suppression. Firefighter and public safety is Job One, period. All incident personnel must be vigilant so that safety is never compromised for any reason."

Your own region 2 has the worst record of support for fire management. Why do region 2 forest "Leadership Teams" have the power and ability to cut their own forest fire management organizations to a level that will compromise the safety of fire management personnel to perform the fire management job? The experienced fire management officers who have strongly voiced disapproval of these plans have been ignored. The so-called "leadership teams" are comprised of "Leaders" who have no fire experience or fire qualifications and completely disregard the advice of those fire management officers who do. How can this be? I have been an FMO in region 2 for over five years and I 've never even seen you! I have written you letters to voice my concerns over inexperienced line officers and the lack of support for fire management programs in this region. I have never even had a response. Region 2 does not have a good record when it comes to support for fire management programs. How in the hell can inexperienced politicians have so much power? Don't talk safety unless you mean it. You've been disengaged too long!

If safety as you stated is "Job One" then put your money where your mouth is!!!! I can tell you that this is not the priority in region 2. The San Juan is cutting its own fire management program and completely disregarding safety as any priority at all. Where is the leadership? Stand up and make yourself known. Some forest "Leadership Teams" have no fire experience whatsoever yet they make policy of their own accord while completely disregarding any and all advice from experienced and knowledgeable fire management personnel.

Region 2 is long on mouth and short on support. Safety and the total and complete unwavering support of our fire management personnel is critical. Tell me Mr. Boche, Where is it?

Ramona Joe

2/1 Re: WCT for ICT3's

jd,

So with your ideas on the subject, what are your thoughts on a Type 1 or Type 2 Incident Commander who only has to take the "moderate" level work capacity test?

Do you not think it is ironic that they are qualified to manage more complex incidents, but because many of the Type 1 and Type 2 IC's only take the moderate level WCT, they are not quailified to manage a less complex fire (ie. Type 3)? What about a rapidly expanding type 3 or 4 fire that could benefit from the experience and training from a Type 1 or Type 2 IC?

I do not consider this discussion to be a lowering of the standards as you state, but rather a true discussion about risk vs. gain and having your most experienced Type 3 Incident Commanders on the fireline where they are needed.

Lobotomy
2/1 There's a great Lessons Learned Thirty Mile Fire website that
you can use for training. I highly recommend it.

www.fs.fed.us/t-d/lessons/

username t-d
pw t-d

JG

I read through the slideshow yesterday. Some good lessons. Ab.

2/1 I heard the Stihl lost the chainsaw contract. Can anyone confirm?

If it's true, do we know who got it, one co. or many?

Todd

2/1 I came across this NAFRI page while researching some other things this morning. I think that IMT meeting might have been last week, but I'm not sure.

2007 National Incident Management Meeting

Lots of meaty stuff there that shows how the reduced budget will be changing fire management and firefighting.

There's good info on fire law, which was why I was researching - to see if there was anything new on the internet.

I especially recommend Mike Johns powerpoint on fire law. It's a fattie to download, but excellent info.
Mike spoke at the R5 Chiefs meeting several years ago. Good talk.

Fire Law powerpoint, very large (~17,300K)

Another ppt, psychological info, fairly small: Managing Expectations (~200K)

Have fun browsing, something for everyone.

Mellie

2/1 Ab,

This concept of "privilege" could be a home run, or it could slice foul:

"...to allow both our firefighters and our partners the full measure of both lessons learned and any appropriate administrative or criminal charges."

I'm probably more than a little jaded, but what bothers me is the misinformation that the FS presented as the Thirtymile "lessons learned" for the last five years. One of those key "lessons" that I learned (and taught others) was about a free-lancing engine boss who re-engaged a fire without checking in with the IC.

I wonder if privilege is for the benefit of firefighters or an agency which says, "That's our story and we're stickin' to it."

vfd cap'n

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

vfd cap'n, what do you mean by this? It's not clear. Ab.

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

According to the official FS investigation report and the Thirtymile staff ride on the Fire Leadership website:

"Around 15:30 both engines, #701 and #704, arrived at the fire, and drove past the Entiat Hotshots and the Northwest Regular #6 Crew where they are eating lunch beside the road. Neither engine checked in with the IC (or anyone else) for a briefing...." www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/staffride/lsr4_stand3.phpl

That's a pretty key point (what, not who) in the entire sequence. If the spot fires hadn't been attacked, then the NWR #6 crew would have still been disengaged at the lunch spot when the fire took off.

Maybe the Oral Reply Team was right, that it wasn't their job to bring new disciplinary action against Daniels for the false statement. But, somebody in the Forest Service should have had the duty/respect/integrity to make the public correction when they found that ENGB <snip> had indeed checked in.

vfd cap'n

2/1 Howdy all-
I got this email today

"Received phone call from FEMA-NIC office today... it sounds like the National Incident Management System (NIMS) version 2.3 will be released 2-2-07 on the web for 3 weeks of public comment. Check www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/nims_alert.shtm for NIMS Alerts and www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/index.shtm home page Friday -bottom right for new draft NIMS Document to be posted..."

Will send more info when I've got it... I believe this is the first of two public review comment periods for updating the March 2003 NIMS policy document before a summer release. Would be interesting to have some more wildland folks have a look at the thing and any issues, gaps, etc. In reality, this document is now what NWCG and FIRESCOPE are supposed to align with so this is a good opportunity to have some input if interested. Hopefully they'll post a process how to send comments in.

-office slug

2/1 It's encouraging to see Mark Boche from the USFS Region 2 join the small but growing number of Fire Managers who are finally stepping forward and offering some comments to the troops in the field.

No disrespect, Mr. Boche, but you'll have to excuse me if I remain somewhat skeptical that all the things you say will become reality the next time one or more USFS firefighters are killed on a wildland fire.

For example, you state that "When our firefighters act within the scope of assigned duties in a reasonably safe and ethical way free of gross negligence, the Forest Service will stand with them." Reading your statement and applying it to Thirtymile, I'm assuming that the official USFS position is that everyone involved, except Ellreese Daniels, met your criteria? The attempted Administrative Actions against many of those involved with Thirtymile says otherwise! Putting that point aside, you make it sound like the USFS really has the power and authority to "stand with them". I question what will really happen when an angry spouse/parent of a deceased firefighter gets their Congressman/Senator to pressure the Chief, Mark Rey or a politically motivated and ambitious US Attorney (who may be looking for Senatorial favor to become a US Judge??) to take action, or in the case of the USFS, to sit on its hands with their mouths shut while another employee is charged with manslaughter.

You also tell the field fire folks that "We will distinguish between acceptable honest errors and unacceptable willful violations". Using the standards that OSHA has for "willful" violations, the USFS has been cited for "willful violations" on numerous fire fatalities since the 1993 Buchanan fatality, yet no one in the upper levels of USFS management (line officers or fire people) have ever faced criminal charges, or even a slow down in their upward mobility!

The final element of your 3 key principles says that we should take action that "MINIMIZES risks of injury or death", but then you follow up saying that all personnel "must be vigilant so that safety is NEVER compromised for any reason." Sounds like conflicting direction to me: in my experience of 30+ years, the only way to insure that safety is never compromised for any reason is to implement the "NO ACTION" alternative by staying on the road and waiting for the rain and/or snow to put the fire out.

I wish that your words, and the words of others that are finally coming out, could convince me to grease up my White's and pack my Red Bag for the coming season. I'm afraid, however, I remain unconvinced, and so will implement my own personal "No Action" alternative for the 2007 fire season or until the critical issue of firefighter liability is resolved satisfactorily.

Mollysboy

2/1 From a number of people in R6

Final National Incident Commander/ Area Commander Group 2006 After Action Review (.doc file)
 

2/1 Management Efficiencies Talking Points:

Wonder how everyone will feel about this one:

    • Critical resources (Type 1 firefighting crews & aircraft) are managed nationally for maximum flexibility.

noname

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

U.S. Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Management Efficiencies Fact Sheet
January 29, 2007

  • Over the last 20 years the Forest Service has been persistently challenged by fire management costs.
  • Contributing factors to these cost challenges include climate changes, the expanding WUI, and general forest health conditions resulting in larger more intense fires.
  • In 2006, fire suppression expenditures accounted for 40% of the Agency budget or $1.5 billion.
  • In 2007, 41% of the Forest Service budget is allocated to fire management, and in 2008 that percentage climbs to 48%.
  • Because of these escalating costs, other Agency programs are suffering and our ability to care for the land and serve the people is compromised.
  • Various internal and external groups have studied these costs and have provided over 300 recommendations intended to curb increasing suppression costs if implemented.
  • The Chief directed a small group of Forest Service subject matter experts to review and consolidate these recommendations and develop actions the Forest Service can take over the short and long term to support sound decision making and ensure prudent choices are made when spending. The resulting recommendations have been titled Management Efficiencies.
  • These actions were categorized into Leadership, Operations, and Management and when implemented serve to ensure the following.
    • Clear and concise understanding of Appropriate Management Response – choosing the best suppression strategy for the resources and values at risk.
    • Expanded Knowledge, Skill, and Ability for Agency Administrators responsible for managing large or nationally significant fires.
    • Increased oversight from the Regional and Washington offices on incidents of national significance in support of the agency administrator.
    • Severity funds are used within limits.
    • Establishment of a definite budget for each incident (use of SCI).
    • Critical resources (Type 1 firefighting crews & aircraft) are managed nationally for maximum flexibility.
    • Revision of the current aviation strategy ensuring the safe and financially prudent use of firefighting aircraft.
  • The details of the proposed management efficiencies are being formulated and expected implementation of the short-term actions will begin in the 2007 fire season.

These recommendations go hand-in-hand with the variety of business processes the Forest Service has changed in recent years to more efficiently manage its resources.

Contact: Tom Harbour 202-205-0808

2/1 It's the first of February and the Jobs Page is becoming very active. This will be the 4th year of our accepting and publishing paid job vacancies or announcements. The diversity of employment opportunities posted and the frequency of the page views, close to 10,000 p/month, demonstrate the page's popularity. Several companies who offer their crews full-time employment have chosen to maintain an ad year-round. And there are a few who are pleased to find it unnecessary to advertise beyond our site.

A Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression employee stated in a recent email, "I wanted to let you know that the site worked great again this year, we received close to 150+ applications through the use of your site. We get a variety of applicants from all across the country."

There are currently BLM, USFS, several State, one City, and a few private organizations prepping for their impending fire seasons. If you're considering a private company, consider asking them if they're a NWSA member.

Regardless of any other evolving issues, there will be a fire season this year and we're proud to bring you some options on where or how you might want to participate! Don't forget to let our advertisers know where you saw the info! Without their support, we wouldn't be here.

Thanks, OA.

This Ab also says thanks to our advertisers. And I'm really glad OA and I are not paying for this site out of pocket any more. That said, it's also nice to feel we provide a meeting place so that those who want to find firefighting jobs get tied in with those who are offering them.

2/1 File Code: 5100 Date: January 30, 2007
Subject: Forest Service Support of Firefighters
To: Regional Leadership Team (R2)

This morning, we have 25 firefighters (Rocky Mountain Area and R2 Forest Service) on duty in Australia. Our firefighters are responding once again to another emergency assignment. As I think about the work they are performing, my thoughts are drawn to the one-year anniversary of the Chief’s Fire Suppression Doctrine and our movement to a learning culture. Also on my mind is R6 Director Snell’s letter outlining observations about recent actions by the U.S. Attorney in Spokane. These three events warrant a few observations from where I sit.

The criminal court case arising from the Thirtymile Fire in Washington State has caused much anxiety among firefighters about Forest Service support of our employees, including our Region 2 firefighters. The Forest Service leadership is keenly aware of these concerns and is working to find solutions. Some solutions can be politically sensitive and must be handled appropriately to foster success. When new information becomes available, we will share immediately.

Until recently, federal criminal actions did not follow fire suppression tragedies, so we were able to nurture a culture that learned from our mistakes. Threats of federal criminal prosecution make employees less willing to engage in investigations and reviews for fear of incrimination. This threatens our ability to sustain a learning culture, or Just Culture (one wherein employees are valued, not punished, for self reporting of errors).

The enclosure addresses some key questions and concerns about issues related to the Thirtymile incident. In this letter, I wish to stress three key principles.
  • People are our greatest asset in fighting fire. We are proud of our firefighters. Our firefighters are some of the most able professionals working in a high-risk environment that the world has ever seen. When our firefighters act within the scope of assigned duties in a reasonably safe and ethical way free of gross negligence, the Forest Service will stand with them. We will distinguish between acceptable honest errors and unacceptable willful violations.
  • One year ago, our agency embraced the Fire Suppression Foundational Doctrine. While implementation is in progress, it is vital that we move forward to implement the cultural shift and attain a Just Culture. Myriad rules and regulations cannot keep up with increasing complexities in fire management. The Doctrine promotes intelligent behavior in complex incidents by replacing many detailed rules with simple, clear principles. We need a nimble environment of open communication to learn, adapt, and improve.
  • It is crucial that we focus on the mission of the upcoming fire season and resist temptations to get distracted. Today’s workplace environment offers ample chances to get distracted. We must sustain our focus in a “safety-first” environment that minimizes risks of injury or death and maximizes the effectiveness of fire suppression. Firefighter and public safety is Job One, period. All incident personnel must be vigilant so that safety is never compromised for any reason.

I am proud of the dedication our firefighters bring to the job everyday and look forward to our continued efforts to first be safe and second carry out the Forest Service fire management mission.

/s/ Mark
MARK A. BOCHE
Director, State & Private Forestry, Region 2

2/1 Legal Advice in from R2. Some is what Snell said in his white paper. Ab.

GUIDANCE,  ADVICE  AND  ANSWERS

When suppression efforts do not go as planned and tragedies occur, there are three actions, the government and victims, or their families, may take: 1) administrative, 2) civil, and 3) federal criminal actions.

· Administrative Actions help the agency address performance issues. This action is not new and is exercised at the discretion of agency leadership. If the agency is taking action against an employee, it cannot supply legal counsel. Employees may wish to protect themselves by having legal or union representation during this course of action. Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) can provide such legal representation.

The agency does provide 50 percent reimbursement for PLI for most fire line supervisors. The Washington Office is looking for a Congressional sponsor to change the law to make 50 percent reimbursement for PLI available to all firefighters who are interested.

· Civil Actions are when a third party brings a lawsuit against an employee or the agency. In most circumstances, employees are covered under the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act. Here employees are provided “absolute immunity” for common negligence, that is, a failure to exercise due care under the circumstances. If an employee was acting within their scope of employment and did not commit gross negligence, the United States will substitute itself for the employee during legal proceedings.

There were several civil lawsuits filed related to the Thirtymile incident. The lawsuit filed by the Hagameyer’s against the agency was settled for $400,000. There were two constitutional tort lawsuits brought against two Forest Service employees. In both cases, employees asked for and were granted legal representation by the Justice Department. There was also a lawsuit filed against the manufactures of the fire shelters, however, the Forest Service was not involved in this lawsuit except to provide testimony.

· Federal Law-Based Criminal Actions are new as they apply to actions, or lack of actions, our employees may take related to fire suppression. The following paragraphs provide some answers to questions being circulated within the fire community about what, or why, things are happening to the Thirtymile IC.

Questions and Answers

· Is there a difference between being charged by federal prosecutors and being indicted?

Yes. Prosecutors file charges, or counts, against an individual that are formally read to them by a judge. The accused has an opportunity to enter a plea. Assuming a not guilty plea is filed, a date is set for a Grand Jury hearing where the prosecutor presents their evidence. This is a one-sided hearing. The accused does not have an opportunity at the Grand Jury to provide evidence of innocence. The Grand Jury considers evidence presented and then decides whether there is enough probable cause for an indictment, which is a formal accusation of a crime. If the accused is indicted, the case is scheduled for a jury trial in the future to allow the accused time to prepare a defense. Remember, the accused is presumed innocent unless found guilty at this trial.

The IC involved in the Cramer incident was not found guilty or indicted. The matter was settled prior to it going before a Grand Jury by using a pretrial diversion; a discretionary form of resolution in which criminal charges are either never filed, or are dismissed before the case gets to the Grand Jury.

· Why did it take five years before charges were brought?

Federal law allows up to five years to file charges. In the case of the Thirtymile IC, his attorney asked for, and was granted, an additional six months to study the case.

· Why didn’t the government supply an attorney?

When the United States brings a federal criminal complaint against an individual, via a US Attorney, it would be a conflict of interest for it to also defend the same individual in the same criminal matter. In the Thirtymile case, a public defender was assigned.

· Why is the agency being silent?

It is inappropriate to comment on ongoing criminal proceedings. To do otherwise, could be seen as interfering in the legal process. This should not be viewed, however, as either agreeing, or disagreeing, with the criminal proceedings. National Fire Director Tom Harbour commented on this matter a few weeks ago by saying “Don't confuse a lack of formal messages with a lack of effort to solve the issues.”

· Will liability insurance cover attorney fees in criminal cases?

Yes - but one should always check his/her policy to be sure. Typically, if an individual has taken out Professional Liability Insurance (PLI), then this insurance can be used to provide him/her with legal representation for criminal actions brought against them. PLI can also be used to provide legal representation to individuals for Administrative, Civil, and Criminal actions taken against them. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will consider providing legal representation for civil actions brought against an employee, and for state law-based criminal charges filed against an employee for actions occurring while he/she was acting within the scope of employment. For Administrative or federal criminal actions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not provide representation, because in both cases, it is the federal government bringing charges against an employee, and it would be a conflict of interest.

· What is currently happening?

After the Thirtymile incident, Senator Maria Cantwell helped enact P.L. 107-203 requiring that whenever a Forest Service fatality is caused by wildfire entrapment or burn over, the autonomous USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) shall conduct an investigation of the fatality completely independent of any investigation of the fatality that is conducted by the Forest Service. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will work directly with OIG and has access to the OIG investigative report which they will use to help them determine a course of action.

Although the Thirtymile incident happened befores against a party using information they deem appropriateand I used my old shelter for training as new fire shelters became available...

But... the little "shelter" never did what it was intended to do....

While you can buy an "old style fire shelter" on Ebay or other sources, you cannot buy the experiences and stories of those who used them or were reduced to using them....

I still have my "orange sack"..... and my "yellow sack"... I now have a "blue sack"....

Marty Alexander of Canada can explain what I am trying to say....

Rogue Rivers

Rogue Rivers, I think he just wanted to show one to the new folks in training... Ab.

2/1 brush boy,

not all type 3 fires can be managed from your truck.
you of all people should know that. sorry about your
injury, but the lessening of standards, even physical
ones, is not a step in the right direction. maybe you
could do Air Attack, there's always a shortage and
it's almost like running the whole show without the
paperwork.

jd
2/1 Re: Silence from the Leadership of the Forest Service at the WO Level on Wildland Firefighter Safety

"From: Tom Harbour/WO/USDAFS
Date: 01/30/2007 11:22
Subject: NRE hit a home run!"

Blah, Blah, Blah..... BS...

It completely depends upon what a home run really is, and personally means to each of us on the ground level of wildland firefighting... and if someone is committed to win the game and make wildland firefighting safer and more efficient.... I simply would call it a "bunt" to save face, but Director Harbour thinks it was a "home run"..... just as I would have expected he'd think. He needs to come to the game where his education and experience could make a difference and not sit behind Mark Rey at Congressional Hearings...

Tom Harbour has exposed his hand and his game (and it is a poor hand to show).... but the current and next Chief haven't spoken to the troops yet about their intention... and Undersecretary Rey.... he got sent to the bleachers for some R&R before pitching again.

Communications is the key.... and right now.... Communications out of the Washington Office is non-existent other than a "bunt" to CYA....

A a "Learning Culture" is what we need to strive for ..... the eventual goal of a High Reliability Organization (HRO) as envisioned by the "true leadership" of the Forest Service.

Who is up next to bat?

As I remember from my earlier days of Little League... we always said, "Swing batta, batta, swing".... eventually we got to a batter who knew how to swing and hit a "home run".... or we shut them down. I would hardly consider the NRE hearings as a "home run"....

Gizmo

Gizmo, we need to celebrate the little things and the big things on the way to achieving a goal. If people get blasted for making a move in the right direction, even if it wasn't as big a move as you / we / firefighters want and need, how do we encourage them to move ahead. I'd say, "Good move, Tom Harbour, KEEP THEM COMING! Hit 'em harder. You can do it! Don't let up. Put your shoulder into it, your whole body, follow through. We expect more of the same and better. We know you can do it! Lead by example, yeah." Ab.

2/1 Brush Boy,

You just hit the nail on the head in identifying a widely known latent systemic failure that exists within the Forest Service.

For some reason, the Forest Service continues to insist that a "Type 3" IC needs more brawn than brain. As a result, some of the more experienced folks cannot do the duty of a Type 3 Incident Commander..... and my knees are nearing that point also.

If I am remembering correctly, Dr. Sharkey's WCT (and yes, I still call it "his" WCT) was based upon the kilocalorie per hour burned while performing line construction. Over the years, the idea has somehow morphed into "anyone on the fireline needs to be qualified at the arduous level".

As an ICT3, I hope the heck that they don't have their heads down and digging fireline.

Whether you agree with me or not, there has been more firefighters killed completing the Work Capacity Test than were killed on the Esperanza Fire..... but somehow.... folks turn a blind eye to that. Whenever firefighters die, we need to concentrate and plug up those damn holes in the Swiss Cheese regardless of the level they were initiated at.... and the WCT is a prime example of latent systemic failures that exist

Lobotomy
2/1 Casey, Casey, Casey,

I like to make up my mind for myself . I don't like anecdotes, or
rumours, or half of a story when there is something I am concerned about -
I like and want facts and its even better when combined with thoughtful
discussion - like much of "They Said". I think you would find that most of
my postings on "They Said" are in "Check this out" category. I share
what I found out in my websearch because I think others might find it
useful too. In making an argument for or against something, it seems to
me good sense to check out what is on the record - on official websites or
official documents - because it's out there for all to see. I may not
agree with it but I have a fuller picture. Not everyone is the enemy.
Just sayin'.

Bud
2/1 Brush Boy - 45 pounds is not the real issue; it's endurance for mucho many hours on the line. Just like a DIVS! But, as for who should be at the Arduous level, it's a nation-wide NWCG issue, so bump your thoughts/rationale up to them thru your local and regional folks.

Aberdeen

Haw haw. It's not the real issue unless you have a bad back, but are otherwise fit and able to do your job. Ab.

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