April, 2007

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4/30 HERE IT IS!


BLM National Fire Operations Committee Members:

The attached draft instruction memorandum has been forwarded to the BLM Assistant Director, Fire and Aviation. If the draft is approved, the IM will be issued through normal channels.

If you have any questions, please call the contact person listed on the draft IM.

Casey O'Connell
BLM Fire and Aviation
Division of Fire Operations

Red Book Errata (209 K doc file)
T-Roadside Incident Response (43K doc file)
U Job Hazard Analysis (65 K doc file)

4/30 Got this in an email and called the local Baskin
Robbins and it is true. Support Firefighters with a
few scoops.

And There I Was,

Did you know that Baskin Robbins is donating 100k to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation?

Baskin Robbins will be holding a thirty one cent scoop night in honor of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation on Wednesday May 2, from 5pm-10pm. This is a national event and will also be happening here in Farmington!

This will be an opportunity to celebrate the $100,000 donation that Baskin Robbins will be making to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Let’s show them how grateful we are for their support for this worthy cause.

We all know how important the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is in assisting families of our fallen brothers and sisters. The National Firefighters Foundation also provides Firefighters with training and information to prevent Line of Duty Deaths.

This is a great thing, especially in a time when corporations are afraid to support organizations because of public pressure. Spread the word to help create awareness of LODD and the importance of a firefighter’s job.
4/30 Thank goodness for the Hotlist here on They Said.

I have been looking for info on the fire near Kernville, and SoOps seems to be hibernating!

This is not new news... it is so embarrassing that they continue to be asleep at the wheel!

4/30 Re retention in R5:


I heard that the Shasta Trinity NF (SHF) lost 25 fire people since last season. I
can't remember if this already showed up on "They Said" or not. Forest by forest,
this seems to be adding up.

Brother Cub

4/30 Just curious, has anyone heard about the rumors of Cal Fire going to 4-0 staffing
in the Northern California Units this fire season? Wondering?

New 2 Cal Fire
4/30 Dozer operator burnover in GA (official release: Georgia Forestry)

Waycross, GA – A dozer operator with the Georgia Forestry Commission was entrapped on Saturday evening while responding to a new fire 10 miles east of Nahunta, GA. The firefighter who is a 16 year veteran was operating a bulldozer in the fire area when it became immobilized in thick bay fuels. The firefighter used the area he had plowed as a safety zone and deployed his fire shelter after a wind shift occurred and his dozer started to be over taken by fire.

Georgia Forestry Commission officials say the firefighter was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and minor injuries and released early Sunday morning.

Recent weather conditions, fire behavior and fire activity has challenged firefighters. Unpredictable conditions have made an inherently dangerous job even more dangerous.

Initial reports indicate the firefighter involved in the incident followed proper protocols which resulted in saving his life. The Georgia Forestry Commission is deploying an accident investigation team to provide additional insight in the fire behavior that occurred at the time of the incident. The team will release a 24 and 72 hour report which will be used as a lessons learned for other firefighters in understanding watch outs and circumstances to be wary of when responding to fires in this area and in these weather conditions.

Fire shelters have saved the lives of more than 270 firefighters nationally. Chances of surviving an entrapment have increased from under 50 percent to about 98 percent since agencies made fire shelters mandatory equipment.

For additional fire information, contact the Joint Information Center at 912-287-2451 or 912-287-2452.

4/30 No name 29 said:

“Does anyone know where information can be gathered regarding the Medical Standards Program that firefighters in Regions 1, 2, 6 & 10 are subjected to? How many people are being held out and for what types of conditions? Information from the DOI (I think they are using this also)? For those of you FS folks that don’t know about this program it is coming to a region near you soon, hopefully the bugs are worked out by then.”

Link to the web site below for all you could ever want to know about the “firefighter Medical Standards”


Having been subject to them when the DOI first implemented the program, I have a couple of insights from that experience.

  1. You will need a baseline physical every five years (including the first one when the program is implemented in your area) It is really not a big deal, very similar to most agencies initial hire physicals.
  2. You will take a basic physical every year, prior to being cleared for the pack test (say goodbye to regional approval of the HSQ). You do not want to wait until March/ April to take your physical. Beat the rush and get it done in December or January.
  3. It was a pain for the temps at first, but the system seems to have streamlined enough that it was working (that was a couple years ago…)
  4. I know of a few folks who got jacked up in the program, but they had some issues which were valid concerns...
  5. The program is a good thing! While it may take some “at risk” people out of the field (is this a bad thing?) it will also generate documentation that can potentially show a deteriorating health condition that was caused by the job.
  6. The Great Basin and Southwest Regions are supposed to implement in 2008, with R5 following in 2009. All other regions (and all DOI) have already implemented the program.

My only beef with the program is how much money the contractor is getting to “schedule” appointments. For my baseline physical, the cost was 500 dollars. For that, the contractor called me and told me I could schedule a physical at one of the following locations (insert local clinic here…) I was supposed to call the contractor back and let them know when I scheduled. My personnel people gave me the paperwork to take to the doc. So I went and took a physical that could not have cost more than 150 dollars, and assume the contractor got the rest. The only other thing the contractor had to do was email my personnel office that I was cleared for arduous duty.

As always, your results may vary…

L –– C –– E – S

4/30 Re-Evaluate,

Haven't you heard? Region 5 has the highest paid Forestry Techs. in the nation, why do you need a pay increase? What retention problem? There is no retention problem, there are plenty of qualified individuals to hire behind people who accept other jobs.

These are the answers I got when I asked our Forest Supervisor about pay increase and retention on my former Forest. After my conversation I felt hopeless for the first time in my career with the Forest Service. I hope someday the Region will pull their head out and recognize the serious problem that has existed for a number of years.

Stay safe this season and look after one another no matter if you're on a crew, engine, helicopter, or chief officer......

Former FS employee
4/29 Check out this video:

www.helicopterservice.com.au/photos/Dawson/Crane LTE 2004.MOV

(works on Quicktime movie player)

I'm sure the pilots had to land and change their shorts.

Tactical Decision Game moment: you have just witnessed this. Who would
you call and what would you say?

4/29 Ab

A link to Doom and Gloom by the "drive by media"

Wildfire Season Could Be Costly


4/29 Does anyone know where information can be gathered regarding the Medical Standards Program that firefighters in Regions 1, 2, 6 & 10 are subjected to? How many people are being held out and for what types of conditions? Information from the DOI (I think they are using this also)? For those of you FS folks that don’t know about this program it is coming to a region near you soon, hopefully the bugs are worked out by then.

No name 29
4/29 Noname,

That's great news on the 401 program. We will have a bunch of well educated Chief Officers walking around making $12.74 an hour. However those in a locality area can get up to about $15.01 an hour. Now that's progress! What better way for the Chiefs to feel the pain of the ground pounder than to get paid like one.

Someone needs to be fired or reassigned to the dark halls of an RO somewhere for getting us into this mess.


Managers are feeling the pain of their groundpounders from what I've observed firsthand and read here. Those who are out of touch are higher than the 401 series issue. Ab.

4/28 Region 5 and retention

I thought that maybe I could help to translate an issue from the field to the much 'higher up'. Regarding the issue of Forest Service retention as it is related to pay scales.

Two things to keep in mind.

(1) There is only a retention problem if there is an identified retention goal.

(2) The bottom line is all that most budget minded higher ups can understand.

Here is part of the equation: Fires will consume X amount of acres resulting in Y amount of “firefighter” hours needed to control them. If the Forest Service has 0 hours to apply, it must purchase these hours from the more costly Cooperators (2 to 3 times the rate of F.S. firefighters). Okay, this is obviously not cost effective.

Conversely if the Forest Service paid their Firefighters 2 or 3 times as much they would retain much of the needed firefighters, but this would also cost more.

Here is another part of the equation: Somewhere in the middle is the “Most Effective Level” of pay to retain the necessary Firefighters that are needed to accomplish Fire Management’s responsibilities to the public....

C+NVC This might be familiar to some people. Cost can represent the "MEL" Salaries and NVC can represent Cost of Cooperators and the Damage Curve can be the number in hundreds or thousands of homes that the Forest Service is willing to let burn as acceptable loss.

I understand that classification and pay are huge issies affecting retention of Firefighters in F.S. Region 5. First someone must identify that there is a retention problem in the first place. Maybe the agency doesn’t have an identified target to retain its trained and qualified firefighters. Therefore all the firefighters could leave and the ‘higher ups’ still would not have reached a problem with retention.

Bottom Line, Not until the end of the year when the bottom line comes into play and when the bills are due to all of the cooperators that replaced the firefighters that the Forest Service used to have will they understand that there is a problem.

I suppose that rigid classification systems and pay scales are going to prove more costly than frugal. I enjoy working for the Forest Service but it is shame to see these problems manifesting and compounding and not be able to do anything. Except maybe apply to an agency that will support and value its workforce.

Re-evaluate your S.A.

4/28 Oh yes, Daddy Dean (Clark).

Worked with him over in Chiricahua NP when he was the FMO in 94/95. Great times with Andrew Larson, Wendy Riggs, and the rest of the gang.

Last I hear, Clark was FMO over in Bandelier NP. Arrived after the Cerro Grande Fire.

I miss those NPS days. Had to get a real paying fire job though to pay the bills.

AZ Trailblazer
4/28 Ab:

Regarding the Kings Canyon NP Sphinx Creek Fire in 1976:

I was there (as a 7th year rookie) as were about 15 of us. The short story is that we were all in an entrapment situation in a crown fire in old growth timber and the only thing that saved our bacon was Bubb's Creek which we all got into. I remember freezing in the creek more than the minor burns from the fire which I suffered later, as I ran for it.

We had never even heard of fire shelters at that time, but believe me we were much better off in the creek than we would have been in fire shelters.

Everybody got out OK and several of us still talk about what happened there.

The lessons that I learned there were: 1) Be very careful who you follow into battle in this business, and 2) Learn everything you can about fire behavior to keep yourself and those around you out of harms way.

4/28 Hopeless...

Getting a STL or TFLD assignment as a contractor is going to be difficult, and many would argue it is a conflict of interest. For example if your engine was on your strike team you might be signing the time sheets for you engine. An easier route would be get a ENGB job with a federal agency, put in enough time to show your competence, and the agency will get you an assignment. Once you are fully qualified, you can be employed as an AD for overhead positions. And don't be hopeless, there is more jobs out there in fire, than people to fill them.


4/28 Hopeless and fireuseman - to quote our old firefighter friend will Shakespeare: something smells very rotten in fire-dispatch land.

When I see comments like "having an Agency sponsor you", "I'm on good terms with most of the people", and "they don't ever sign anyone up as an AD that wasn't retired Agency", I get seriously pi**ed off!

What ever happened to the NWCG 310-1 standards that says "if you're qualified, you're qualified; if you're not, you're not?" Looks like the good ole girls/boys club is still alive and well, paid for by my tax $$.

In my world, I see the local largest Federal agency ( a 4-letter abbreviation that will remain nameless) allowing some of their good-ole-boys to attend Annual Refresher, and then issuing them RedCards, while denying other retirees the same opportunity.

Other places, AD retirees are placed on T-1 and T-2 IMTs in Primary positions for 6+ years after they're retired, even though regular Agency folks are qualified and available for the Team slots.

Getting signed up and used as an AD shouldn't require that you're an "Agency retiree" or that you "get along with folks in Dispatch" or are "sponsored": it should be based on your quals, performance and currency, regardless of your prior agency affiliation and/or continued friendship with former co-workers.

Enough frustrated ramblings on a beautiful Spring evening.


4/28 Ab,

Here is a link to my friend and fellow firefighter Bryan Zollners funeral services. Godspeed my friend.


4/27 Re AD and Contractor:

I have heard that you cannot be signed up as both a contractor and as an
AD. I know that there are individuals that are but I think the agencies
will be taking a closer look at this........May want to consider hiring on
with another contractor during R6 off season to get taskbooks completed,
just a thought.


4/27 Student,
Check out the link for what you are after....


Desk Jockey
4/27 fireuseman,

Thanks for the reply, I haven't talked to the local FS office yet, but that might be an option since I'm on good terms with most of the people there, including one of the instructors that taught most of my classes. I called the local dispatchers office and talked to them after reading recommendations on here for ex FS personal to go through dispatch, but was told they have never signed anybody up as an AD that wasn't retired agency. Will visit the local FS office sometime next week I guess, it couldn't hurt other than possibly getting laughed at lol.

No name ? but Not so hopeless? or the firefighter formerly known as "hopeless"?

I've heard for a number of years now that Santa Maria and other socal towns/cities sign up qualified people as "regular employees"; they then dispatch them out at the high non-fed socal rates and take a hefty "admin fee". It's one way to get around low AD rates and problems with dispatch even while it adds to the rising cost of suppression. Evidently more CA towns are getting wise to the practice and are copying it. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Ab.

4/27 Re: Hopeless

Head on down to your local federal agency (FS, BLM, NPS) and see if they
will "sponsor" you. If so, you will be attached to that agency and hired
as an AD when the call comes in. I have supported folks this way and it

4/27 Re Flash and AgLearn problems:

Message on the webmasters board

A fix for Flash is being worked on, according to a reliable source in the
ISO. It's estimated that a fix will be available next week.


4/27 Potato Wedges;

Gotta admit I'm a little jealous of your position...

A couple decades ago, I left the Green Machine for a red one. The ONLY reason this happened was that I was unable to continue feeding and housing my growing family. The growth occured despite our best laid plans, and in the process, we incurred some pretty healthy medical bills. Otherwise, I'd have stayed. All this happened in the early '80's, during a time of upheaval, change, and growth for the FS.

I've always been sorry I missed that phase. My part would have been miniscule (a sagekiller), but just to be there for the changes... and in the process, I feel I let down some outstanding mentors (thank you Doug, Bob, Steve, and Ish).

This is not to say that my further career in fire was a bust. The muni department I joined grew from jeans and T-shirts to a 20th century all-risk, full service fire department. I was there to help effect that change. But it wasn't my first love, the Big Green.

The US Forest Service has always been, and still is, THE wildland fire service, at least on this continent (never worked any other), and is still driven by the boots on the ground, both permanent and seasonal. Much like our military, which would self- destruct without the career NCO professional warriors. Without the hard core of career "forestry techs" (whether permanent, "key" position personnel, or the priceless 15- year seasonals), the USFS Fire and Aviation program would implode. You and I both know that FS IA resources perform services for their communities that are not in the guidelines. That's why you have all-risk engines now; I was there to see that happen. We simply felt we had no choice, so we "just did it", and adapted to the changes in our response areas, and the incidents that occurred in them. That sort of change is still going on, for the same sort of reason. And you guys are doing it, and making it happen. When the Golden Throne in DC doesn't, or can't, make things happen, the Animals out in the weeds still make the changes that need to be made. Good on you!!

So I guess all this rambling is an old warhorse's way of congratulating and praising those of you who are in a position, and tough enough, to stick with it. I'm not in a position to advise anyone what to do with their life, their career, or their family. I'm pleased for those who move on to CALFIRE, or anywhere, if they can do what they love, and make a living doing it. But d*#n I'm glad that there are some sticking it out with the Machine!

Again, goodon'ya!!

Be Safe;

4/27 I have been looking for an answer for a while about a question I have, here's my situation.

I have been fighting fires since '94 with a volunteer fire department in R-6, and worked for a reputable private contractor from '97-'02, and have been contracting my own engine since '02. during this timespan I have taken I-100, S-110, S-131, S-190, I-200, S-205, S-212, S-230/231, S-234, S-260,S-270, S-290, S-330, S-336, and S-390. I also am certified as a Basic Structure FFT-1, with HAZMAT awareness and ops training, and have been a first responder off and on over the years. I have completed my task books for FFT-2, FFT-1 and SRB, and have open task books for STL and TFL that were initiated in April 2005.

I never worked for a Fed or State agency, but is there any way possible to for me to get signed up as a STL or TFL trainee? I know R-6 is contracting engines this year as strike teams with the contractors own STL, something my business might like to be able to do in the future, but it's very difficult to get tasks signed off unless you already have an ex agency STL or TFL on your payroll. The main reason I want to get signed on as an AD is I would like to be able to possibly supplement my income during the months that R-6 is under snow, and would also like to be available to help in other non-fire emergencies if there is a need, since my engine sits most of the time between fire seasons and I have nothing else to do.

I know the thought of a non agency person wanting to sign up as a STL or TFL might not sit too well with some on this website, but I feel I may be somewhat qualified to do the job regardless of the color of the truck I drive. I know I have more training and experience than some of the people that have been put in charge of my engine as agency STLs and TFLs over the past few years. I just want to be able to continue to grow, and feel it helps me stay on top of my game, instead of becoming stagnant.

Thank you for any responses.

Sign me "hopeless"

You wrote in. Yer not hopeless. Readers? Ab.

4/27 Student of Reason,

Are you talking about the video of kids throwing around a basketball with <snip, Ab doesn't want you to give it away>?

If so, Brad M of the Los Padres IHC should have a copy of it and would know where to get it. It’s a great video that shows how easy it is to get tunnel vision even in the most simple tasks. It would be great to see some more simple exercises like this find its way into our Human Factors training. Brad does an excellent job with showing how the human mind really works and how having that better understanding is a key part of Human Factors.


Will forward your info on as requested. Ab.

4/27 From Firescribe: While doing some other research, I came across this thoughtful document. It's a meaty response to OIGs Large Fire Cost Report. There's good info on issues and suggestions for solutions. Apparently, the person who wrote it was one of those interviewed. The comments are in italics; the report follows.

I recently read the OIG Forest Service Large Fire Cost report 08601-44-SF and was struck by the direction given to the Forest Service, to correct the FS “shortfalls”. In essence, the outcome won’t change the results. Having been a part of the OIG review, I felt more than qualified to give my recommendations to address OIG’s concerns.

First, the report lumps the entire agency in its findings. Facts are each region does some things similar--but most things quite differently. For example, some states address jurisdiction differently than others, making agreements with the USFS different. Others have far less urban interface or population than others, as well as a low frequency of fires. I’ll point out more differences throughout my comments. The point here is the differences need to be described and the question asked by OIG-- why the difference? The team I interviewed with were sincere and professional in their quest to accomplish their objectives. Their views were mainly those of auditors, accountants, with little to no familiarization with incident management. Understanding why we just couldn’t fill in another box and make things more consistent was difficult for them to understand since they had no experience with what really happens on the ground.

It needs to be clarified that homeowners do not rely on the Federal government to provide them wildfire suppression services. They really don’t care what fire department shows up, as long as they do show up and respond. The agreements presently in place in Region 5 or California are models for addressing “checker board” ownership and integrating local and state departments to respond to fires on both private and federal lands coupled the with the “cost apportionment process,” accountability and responsibility of who pays for what prior to, during and after an incident. The Cost Apportionment process is a MAJOR difference as to how suppression cost is apportioned. Many other regions do not use this process nor do they have agreements as well defined and successful as in California. Understand, the Federal Government has the authority to protect assets under its jurisdiction, thus the response of USFS first responders at the onset of a wildland fire and the reason for the agreements so each jurisdiction will know at the ONSET who will pay for what. It is not uncommon for this response to be several miles from our borders when the fire danger (rate of spread, spotting, high winds) will easily result in fires in and around structures spreading to USFS borders and beyond. Understand, the initial attack (IA) responders often involve several fire departments responding at the same time since their jurisdiction may also be threatened.

The majority of the urban interface and incorporated cities near and adjacent to USFS borders were built years ago with little emphasis on fireproofing one’s homes, much less an entire community. Thus, outdated building codes are still in effect and will be slow to be updated. Only within the last year has the State of California required and implemented a 100-foot clearance around homes. This in itself is a major step to address part of the issue of homeowner responsibility when it comes to wildfire. However, the effect of this new state regulation was a long time coming. There are examples, however, of effective City and County regulations requiring homeowners to clean up debris around homes with fiscal penalties to the homeowner if they do not comply. Orange, LA, and Ventura Counties are examples of where this presently occurs in California.

California not only has over 35 million residents, it also has a Mediterranean climate, meaning it is usually warm to hot most of the year, has fuel types that are highly volatile (they contain a lot of oils) and over two- thirds of the fires are “people” set. Coupled with having the second most threatened and endangered species in the country (Hawaii is first) as well as working with the biggest state partner (about 8th on a GNP basis), “lumping” what everyone else does gives little credit to them or Region 5. Because of The Laguna Fire in 1970 and the total lack of federal, state or local cooperation, the Federal government funded and directed that some kind of model be developed so the Fire Service would provide immediate and effective response to the taxpayers throughout the country regardless of agency or jurisdiction, thus the Incident Command System (ICS) was developed. This resulted in pre-fire identification of response across other jurisdictions, and in California agreements were also developed that also pre identified who would pay for services rendered. I mention this brief history to describe the reason all color of engines respond to fire in the urban interface as much as it may appear the agency is responding far beyond its “jurisdictional” area of responsibility.

The success of ICS has also has resulted in residents not cleaning up around their homes along the urban interface since the “Fire Service” will show up with a variety of fire engines from several departments whether the homeowner cleans up or not. Placing emphasis on the following could make a difference in reducing suppression cost in and around the urban areas and increase protection our natural resource as well as reduce loss of private property.

(1) The agency has never had as many fuels dollars in its budget as it does today. Unfortunately, the very large amounts of funding taken from the top leaves little that actually reaches the field; thus, making it almost impossible to truly place the dollars where they will make a significant difference, especially in areas where fuels reduction is expensive. Until there is a change in this practice, there will be the continued placement of fuels targets in those areas that are the least cost to implement with little to no effect to those areas that, although costly to remove the fuels, have the potential to show significant suppression cost reduction.

(2) Placing the majority of the agency’s fuels dollars within the urban interface sends a message to the homeowner that they really don’t have to worry about wildland fire. The Federal government is cleaning it up, your home is protected! The agency needs to be given the flexibility to use those dollars where it will give the taxpayer the greatest benefit, that is increase potential for increased resource protection, reduced suppression cost and increased firefighter safety. Region 5 has such a proven and operational model that provides agency administrators with not only the location of fuels reduction projects but also includes the kinds of treatment, size and probability of success. Implementation has been on going for the last 5 years. The process needs to be expanded and accelerated.


For the rest of the comments: Comments on the OIG Large Fire Report (241 K word doc) Ab.

4/27 AgLearn and Flash

Has anyone else noticed that the newest Flash is broken. Flash files no longer run on most FS computers.
AgLearn in the past has run slowly if at all or has timed out on our slow remote computers on dialup. Now it's even worse. How can we do our jobs?


4/27 Ab updated the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project Thanks for the contributions.

Also the Jobs Page and Series 0462 (Forestry Technician Series) & Series 0455 (Range Technician Series) jobs pages and Series 0401 (Biologist Series) are updated.

4/27 OPM and 401 etc.

As a recent graduate of the UNLV 401 program, I stepped away thinking that I had my 24 semester units, 18 upper division, and was on my way to have more career options. Now, it is sounding like there is some big problem with OPM that may kibosh all that hard work. Can anyone explain in simple terms what the best and worst case outcomes would be? If OPM requires the stringent 401 standards for the bio positions, the feds will lose half their workforce (my interpretation). So where is this all headed? Any help in trying to understand this mess would be a big help.

Marginally Educated, Dazed, and even More Confused

4/27 Good morning everyone. I called a friend who knew Don Studebaker well and asked if she wanted to say a few words to remember him. She was once his DPIC. This is what she wrote. Mellie


Ann Studebaker and All,

Our country has had a lengthy history of creating, nurturing and producing
some of the finest generals in the world. Don was ours. Don's work and
contribution to our agency, to leadership and to the best things in
maintaining the best fire fighting force in the world lives on. He was
excellent on pushing limits to the outskirts of acceptable, opening the
door, welcoming and nurturing diverse folks -- whether in terms of gender,
race and, more importantly, in thought. His special blend of dynamic
leadership, incredible memory, strategic viewpoints, mentoring and his
human foibles -- there is no one else like him. The man was incredible and
we all miss him dearly.

Jeanne Pincha-Tulley

4/27 KnuckleDragon,

I worked with Mitch on the Grant Grove engine crew in 1976.
Additionally, Mr. L. Dean Clark in YNP in the early 90's. Sure
would like to get back in touch, if you know where they are.



4/27 Re: South African firefighter

I once attempted to hire a South African who was not a U.S. citizen, and was informed by Human Resources that, as a citizen of a country not allied with the U.S., he was not eligible for employment with the Forest Service, though he had a green card, and had lived in the U.S. for 5+ years. You also might try consulting Albuquerque Service Center.

4/27 Ab,

A few days ago during a training class, I saw an interesting video involving
kids passing around a basketball. It also had a surprise ending that related
to situational awareness.

I would like to use this video for readiness reviews this year. Does anyone
know where I can obtain a copy?

Student of Reason
4/27 R-5 Employees

Its kind of hard to come to work these days with a positive attitude when most of the fire management that you work for is bringing the morale of its firefighting, oops, forestry technicians down. Retention, benefits, pay, working conditions and CAL FIRE are not going to change anytime soon. If those fire managers think it is so bad, well, maybe its time to pull the plug and move on. Everyone who thinks its getting worse, look at the other side. You will probably have more overtime than you know what to do with. You will probably see more fire behavior than you ever had before. Brighten up, we all still have a job. Instead of cowering in the corner, lets be the backbone we all know we can be. DUTY, RESPECT, INTEGRITY

Potatoe Wedges

4/26 Re: "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project


Dean Clark, currently Deputy FMO for the Intermountain Region of the NPS, started his wildland fire career on engines in 1971 at Grant Grove in Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP (SEKI) . He went on to become an FMO in several places. He is still very active as a MAC group member and in the field as a PSC2 and RXB1.

Mitchell Brookins started at about the same time in the same place. He spent many years in many places as a seasonal engine foreman and is still working as a contractor for wildland fire putting to work his MS in GIS technology.

Tim Stubbs started at SEKI in 1969 and, now retired, became the leader of the SEKI Forestry Crew which was the primary IA and RX crew in those parks until along came the Arrowhead Hotshots in 1982. He then spent many years as AFMO/FMO with the NPS at several areas. He is still working some as an AD/Contractor FBAN/LTAN/ATGS.

Mitchell and Tim were both part of the infamous 1976 Sphinx Creek Fire burnover, a story that has not been very well told in wildland fire lore.


Thanks. Maybe they would tell the Sphinx Creek Fire burnover story to us. Would you please ask them? I updated the fire manager project page. Ab.

4/26 My name is Robert Stamatiadis. I am 20 years old. I am a volunteer
wildland firefighter in South Africa. What is the best way to get onto
a crew in the USA. please email me at di@jabedi.co.za with any
information. I am interested in handcrews and smokejumping.
4/26 ht - no criticism of Erik was intended - I'm down on folks that intentionally wear the same filthy, gas-soaked shirt day after day, week after week, oblivious to the safety issues. As an old "2 drip torch" burner, I've ended the day with gas/diesel soaked pants too, and have had a few flare-ups, but luckily never suffered burns. But they were washed daily when they got like that.

You're right - I need to more carefully read and edit my posts before hitting "Send".

4/26 PPE Standards for Footware Memo

Here's the footware standards memo from 2005. (52 K pdf file, small)


Thanks DM. Ab.

4/26 SOF2 & Others regarding boots:

As it has been pointed out on here in the past, any boot (yes, even the La Sportiva Glacier) may meet the minimum requirements in certain sizes, but the smaller sizes which some people may wear (don't want to get gender specific here), may NOT meet the height requirement. So be careful. I know of a store which sells the boots, and has sold quite a few pairs to firefighters, and they have posted the fact that certain smaller sizes may not meet the requirements.

4/26 The office of Senator Cantwell, author of S 1152, The Wildland Firefighter Safety Act of 2007 has asked the FWFSA for a quote regarding the bill & firefighter safety. This is what we provided to the Senator:

The safety of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters is the responsibility of all those from the firefighters themselves to the Agencies that employ them. Improving firefighter safety will require the study and understanding of previous incidents as well as the recognition by those at all levels that wildland firefighting is inherently dangerous and no two offer the same dynamics. Such environments often times necessitate split-second decision-making thus demanding that decision makers have the flexibility to exercise their human instincts, judgment, experience, expertise and common sense as they see fit given the complexities each incident offers.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

4/26 From: Francois, John
Sent: Saturday, April 21, 2007 4:37 PM
To: MVU Battalion Chiefs; MVU ECC Staff; MacPherson, Tom; Eidsmoe, Gary; MVU Chiefs
Subject: Border Security
Importance: High

I attended the Borderland Management Task Force meeting this past Thursday and the Border Patrol had a Security briefing about the Border. The news is not good as far as security and safety of personnel working along the border. There is significant bandit activity in O'Neil Canyon on the Otay's, Marron Valley, Bell Valley and Jewel Valley. There have been multiple Rapes and assaults along with a brazen disrespect and confrontations against any Law Enforcement official. I am sure firefighters are probably on their list as well. The BP has been providing armed escorts for biologists working in Marron Valley during the day. The BP has special response tactical teams in place as well as a specialized operation group (Super secret squirrels).

With all this said, extra caution should be taken while working in and along the Border. Especially during nighttime operations. I suggest a risk vs. gain game plan when deciding if night shifts are need during an incident. The wild west days of the border are here again.

Stay Safe.

Battalion Chief
Campo Battalion


Message from the Cleveland:

As you all know, we've experienced a dramatic increase in immigrant traffic over the last year. This increase brings increased safety risk to employees and the public. Please maintain situational awareness at all times, particularly when you're conducting business in areas south of I-8. Make sure you cover these risks in tailgate safety sessions and morning briefings.


4/26 Re: "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project

Dear Sir:
For the Wyoming Hotshots, please include:

Vern Bentley Wy IHC and Bighorn IR (approx. 1981-1985)
now the Forest AFMO for the Medicine Bow-Routt NF.

Mike Gagen: Wy IHC, 1983, currently FFMO on the

Roger Staats: Wy IHC 1984, McCall Jumper
1986-2000ish, currently McCall District (or west
zone) FMO, PNF.

Karl Brauneis was on the Bighorn IR (currently Wyoming
IHC) just before he jumped.

just sign me - old Wyoming shot/McCall Jumper...

I included the new info. Thanks, Ab.

4/26 Karl Brauneis is one of my absolute heroes in this job.... he worked on the
Bighorn IR (now Wyoming Hotshots) crew in the early-mid 70s. Looking
forward to spinnin some yarns with him and hoisting a few at our 40 year
reunion next month. (Also held the MSO SMJ 1.5 mile record for 20 years or


4/26 >From Sept. 2006 on They Said>

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

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

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


1810 Sections
1810: Burn Treatment - Introduction
1811: Burn Categories
1812: Burn Treatment Guidelines
1813: Transportation of Burn Patients
1814: Burn Treatment Supplies
1815: Responsibilities of First Medical Provider
1816: Responsibilities of Incident Command
1817: Responsibilities of Emergency Command Center
1818: Responsibilities of Home Unit
1819: Responsibilities of Medical Consultant
4/26 HH,

There is a Federal Agency memo out there stating that the La Sportiva Glacier Boots do meet the minimum requirements for wild land fire fighting and prescribed burning. I saw it last weekend when I was at the boot shop purchasing a new pair of boots. I imagine most boot shops that sell boots to fire fighters have a copy on hand somewhere.

4/26 When I hear the story about Erik's injuries, it makes me think of the work that many people from the wildland fire community started last year as they were trying to establish a national burn treatment policy, especially Vicki Minor. It also makes me wonder why the no-brainer wasn't implemented?.....

When I had to the opportunity to meet Jesse Shirley and Chris Fry last year, I never understood the extent of their injuries...... The official accounts called their injuries (and others) other than what they truly were....

It also makes me wonder why the initial treatment of Erik was not immediately referred to a qualified burn treatment facility, but rather a "clinic"? The only exception should be for folks who are not stable and require immediate ALS prior to transportation to the "most appropriate facility"..... otherwise..... any significant burn injury goes directly to a burn center for evaluation and treatment!!!!

Hopefully, with 2nd and 3rd degree burns, Erik will have follow-ups with a qualified burn center.

I know OWCP isn't onboard yet.... That is a just a speed bump. We have to do what is right when our troops receive burn injuries and cut through the economic bull.

The CDF Burn Policy is a good one to look at as a baseline for firefighter safety..... It was discussed last year on They Said and had some good links towards a proper burn treatment policy.... but so far, no one in a place of leadership has acted to make it so.......

4/26 I recently attended the FFI class at Colorado Fire Camp and had the opportunity to have the CPS presented by Doug Campbell. I was already acquainted with it but a couple of points were made that I never realized before.
  • First, more than a prediction "system", CPS is, bottom line all about FIREFIGHTER SAFETY.
  • Secondly, cumulative effect of having CPS and the language incorporated into firefighting planning and tactics is that CPS EMPOWERS FIREFIGHTERS.... poorly conceived assignments can be identified much more readily, with firefighter input used to modify how the assignments are carried out.

Another thing I have come to realize is that because CPS has been developed in the west...it does not have the following in the Eastern/Midwestern states.

I found this to be true with the wildland firefighters I know here in northern Michigan, and also with my volunteer department as well. The prevailing attitude is that CPS is something of a "joke" ... somehow, what is learned about wildfires in the west doesn't apply back here.

I'd like to hear from other wildland firefighters in this area of the country as to how CPS is regarded by their agencies and local Fire Departments...and what their opinion of it is.


4/26 In reference to the firefighter that ignited his fuel soaked pants, it is a regrettable and preventable situation. I have caught my own pantleg on fire probably even more than once but escaped without any noticeable injuries. A recent accident like this on occurred on the Plumas NF a couple of years ago and we had to start writing a clause into the JHA about not carrying 2 drip torches while igniting, or something like that, and changing clothing that becomes fuel soaked. You can still go to the field and be safe you can even stay in the office and be safe if you try..


4/26 Re: 401 Stuff More Than a Rumor (It is pretty complex.... and the WO is involved in the discussions)
From OPM Classification Standards for Professional and Scientific Positions:


Applicants who meet the basic requirements described in the individual occupational requirements are fully qualified for the specified entry grade (generally grade GS-5). Applicants who wish to qualify for positions at higher grade levels (generally grade GS-7 and above) must also meet the requirements shown in the table on page IV-A-22, in addition to meeting the basic requirements.

The individual occupational requirements typically provide at least two methods for applicants to meet the basic requirements of the occupations covered by this standard:

A. Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree that included a major field of study or specific course requirements generally as stated in paragraph A in the individual occupational requirements.

Where specific course requirements are not indicated in paragraph A, the number of semester hours required to constitute a major field of study is the amount specified by the college or university attended. If this number cannot be obtained, 24 semester hours will be considered as equivalent to a major field of study. The nature and quality of this required course work must have been such that it would serve as a prerequisite for more advanced study in the field or subject-matter area. Related course work generally refers to courses that may be accepted as part of the program major.

B. Appropriate combination of education and experience that is typically specified in paragraph B of the individual occupational requirements. The "paragraph B" method generally requires that an applicant possess a core of educational credit, such as described in paragraph A above, plus additional education and/or experience. The method of determining the number of semester hours required to constitute a major field of study is the same as described in paragraph A.

The quality of the combination of education and experience must be sufficient to demonstrate that the applicant possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform work in the occupation, and is comparable to that normally acquired through the successful completion of a full 4-year course of study with a major in the appropriate field. In addition to courses in the major and related fields, a typical college degree would have included courses that involved analysis, writing, critical thinking, research, etc. These courses would have provided an applicant with skills and abilities sufficient to perform progressively more responsible work in the occupation. Therefore, creditable experience should have demonstrated similarly appropriate skills or abilities needed to perform the work of the occupation.

The individual occupational requirements for some series make no provision for combining experience and education. Therefore, they do not include paragraph B provisions.

For a small number of occupations or positions covered by this standard, applicants may possess certain kinds of experience in lieu of education. In such cases, applicants may meet minimum qualification requirements through experience equivalent to a 4-year degree. These situations are generally described in paragraph C of the individual occupational requirements. Note: (No paragraph C exists in the 401 supplemental standards, or none has been specifically approved by OPM for wildland firefighters.)

Applicants whose experience is used to meet the basic requirements through a paragraph B or C provision may qualify for grades above the entry level if that experience includes 1 year of specialized experience. In such cases, the specialized experience would have to be evaluated to determine if it is at the appropriate grade level in the normal line of progression.



Combining Education and Experience: When combining education with experience, first determine the applicant's total qualifying education as a percentage of the education required for the grade level; then determine the applicant's experience as a percentage of the experience required for the grade level; finally, add the two percentages. The total percentage must equal at least 100 percent to qualify an applicant for that grade level. For example, an applicant for a GS-184, Sociology, position has successfully completed 60 undergraduate semester hours, including 24 semester hours in sociology, and, in addition, has 2 full-time years of appropriate experience that demonstrates that the applicant possesses the necessary analytical and communication skills. The applicant would qualify for GS-5, since the 60 semester hours (the equivalent of 2 years of undergraduate education, or 50 percent of the total requirement) were supplemented by 2 additional years of appropriate experience that provided the remaining 50 percent of the total required education and experience.


4/26 Ab stated in regards to Karl,

"Hear, hear! He was a hotshot too; anyone know which crew?"

I believe it was the same crew that Marty Alexander was on at a different period?


4/26 Ab,

I know Karl Brauneis was on the Wyoming Hotshots, I believe it was when it
was still the Big Horn I.R. Crew. He stays in touch with the crew, and should
be at the reunion May 12,13.

4/25 Ab

Mollysboy has a good point but Erik's burn injuries from fuel-soaked Nomex pants was not the result of being "cool" he apparently did not know it. From the account posted he had no idea the situation was occurring. In my humble opinion Mollysboy could have worded his post a little better. It sort of makes Erik look like he was being "cool" rather than doing what he was supposed to do.

Your comments are right on. From my reading the chemical contact issue is truly of great concern; as bad as if not worse than, breathing smoke. It is not only confined to the Wildland troops but to the Structural guys as well; if not more so. The structural guys can wear SCBA more but they get into contact chemicals more also. Not to diminish the fact that the Wildland troops do have to handle various liquid fuels a lot more.

4/25 FIRE MANAGER HISTORY: What SmokeJumper Crew did they start on?

Karl Brauneis, Missoula SO 1977-1979 went on to be a Zone FMO on the
Shoshone N.F. and was the driving force for getting the 10 standard fire
back into their original configuration.


Hear, hear! He was a hotshot too; anyone know which crew?
Folks, ask your friends what shot and/or sj crew they were on and what management positions they've held. Send out emails to others in your region. Let's get them on the list. It's looking pretty amazing. Ab.

4/25 After reading about Erik's burn injuries from fuel-soaked Nomex pants from drip torch fuel, I'm painfully reminded about one of my personal "pet peeves": fire people (be they Hotshots, SJs, Type II crew members or others) that think it's really "cool" to wear fire shirts that are way closer to BLACK than they are YELLOW because of the accumulated saw gas and other flammable substances that they've refused to wash out. And how about the neglected sense of responsibility on the part of their Crew Supervisors, Line Overhead and Safety Officers that allow it to happen? Talk about failures in an alleged HRO organization? Yeah, it's way cool to look like a real "Vet" on the line with a blackened fire shirt, but at what risk to your personal safety? Me, I like my Salmon blackened, but not my fire shirt.

Way back in the 1950-1960 era, Dean McCullough from the Oregon State Forestry School wrote that "the days are long past when the best Forester is the one that can be smelled the furthest downwind." Can we now, in the 21st Century, acknowledge that the best wildland firefighter is not the one with the blackest fire shirt?

When the next burn injuries occur and the firefighter is wearing a fuel-soaked shirt, are we all going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and declare her/him another of "America's Heroes", or are we going to address individual responsibility and accountability for allowing ego to override common sense safety concerns. And, are we going to hold Crew Leaders accountable for failing to redeem their responsibilities for the safety of their crew members? Only time, and the next unnecessary burn injuries, will tell.

Is a clean yellow Nomex fire shirt REALLY all that bad?

And, in light of the Thirtymile legal liability issues, are YOU ready to stand up in court and answer why you didn't make your employee "clean up their act"?


With the research coming out linking chemicals that get on the skin with rare cancers in firefighters, I sure wouldn't want to live in a fuel soaked shirt just to be cool. Ab.

4/25 HH,

Federal agencies do not approve specific models or brands of boots. They give the requirements and any boot that meets those requirements is acceptable. The 2007 Red Book states:

"Required Fireline PPE includes: 8-inch high, lace-type exterior leather work boots with non-slip, Vibram type, melt-resistant soles. The 8-inch height requirement is measured from the bottom of the heel to the top of the boot." red book page 7-7, lines 42-45

This is a change from the old days when the boot requirement was for 8" uppers.

With the change in the boot height wording, the La Sportiva Glacier boots meet all of the red book requirements. I don't think that you will be able to find an official memo that states that specifically, agencies do not want to be seen as endorsing a specific name brand.


p.s. Still in my Whites!
4/25 I just wanted to wade in on the comments and remembrances of Don
Studebaker. Don and I somehow seemed to follow each other from one Type
1 Team to another. I was his Resource Unit Leader when he was a Planning
Chief and then I made the move to Info Officer on CIIMT2 and Don then shows
up as an IC. Don would sometimes call me his "Jimmy Cricket" or
conscience because we had a secret signal (not really very secret, the
Vulcans use it all the time). I would give him the "sign" if he strayed too
far from the focus of a media interview, community meeting or briefing.
Not that straying was always a bad thing, because Don had a way of turning
the opportunity in to a lesson. Whether it was the reporter who didn't
know a thing about weather and fire behavior, or the public confused with
the meanings of containment and control; and I never minded being his
"Jimmy Cricket" it was a responsibility I took on happily. He also liked
to challenge me by asking me to find usually some historical fact about
the area where the team was assigned... .caught by Don in another teaching
opportunity...Darn it again!

I was unable to attend his memorial, one of my biggest regrets of not being
able to send an old friend off... I think of him often, asking myself
what advice would Don give me in this situation... and then it comes to
me...He did it to me again !

Thanks to all who have already posted for bringing back great memories.

s/Jimmy Cricket
4/25 My thoughts are with Erik and I hope he has a speedy and full recovery.

Was the accident preventable? Anymore I would be very hesitant to even ask this question outside of a trusted circle of friends. I know we ask the question so we can demonstrate that we are learning organizations and we are committed to safety. However, the hair on the back of my head stands up when I connect the dots and see the outcome of other investigations. Maybe the question shouldn't be asked prior to an investigation. Wouldn't want to add fuel to the fire. Pun intended. Perhaps my comments are a sad reflection of the times.

I know the questions must be asked and I am interested in facts. I just think a person who is lying injured in bed needs our well wishes and prayers more than we need to determine if the accident could have been prevented based on the information shared on the post. With time we will have the facts and we will be able to determine preventability. IMHO now is not the time to speculate.

On a lighter note:

I've lit myself on fire several times over the past 35 years but have been fortunate to escape without the serious injury of second or third degree burns. Could I have prevented these accidental lightings? Heck yes...could have stayed home, stayed at the mill, continued working on a well drilling rig, stayed with the county parks dept, continued building bomb release mechanisms or became a fishing guide. However, most accidents occur in the home, mill workers lose fingers, my a$% got cold digging wells, making air born bomb release devices was hazardous in itself and after sinking 20 miles out to sea my fishing guide fantasy lost its romance. I think I'll take my chances with a drip torch.

A thought (or a prayer... your choice) As we continue down our chosen paths, give us strength to accept life as it is and our duty to make it better...


4/25 RX Burn Injury in Region 3

With a note immediately below from Peter Tolosano, R5 FAM Safety Officer

Please discuss this incident with your Rx burners.
In another message it states that Erik was carrying an empty drip torch and the fumes from the
residual fuel vented from the drip torch and saturated his pants with an ignitable mixture.

Was this preventable???


From Frank Hayes
District Ranger
Clifton RD, Apache-Sitgreaves NF's

Here is the latest info on Erik's mishap and condition.

During blacklining operations on the Pigeon Rx on Wednesday afternoon (4/18/07), Erik Rodin, Asst Strayhorse crew foreman, was overseeing burnout operations and was also burning a small section of holding line in very steep terrain on a northern block using a standard drip torch. Conditions were very favorable, and his burnout was going well. During this time, one of his 2 drip torches had unknowingly leaked fuel onto his pants leg. It appears that Erik had slipped just after igniting some grass fuels, and perhaps caught his pants leg on fire. District Ranger Frank Hayes was acting as a lookout during this section of burnout, and observed the incident and was in constant contact with Erik during the episode.

Before Erik could extinguish the flames, he received second degree and a small amount of third degree burn to his left leg. He was able to walk out of the isolated location to a waiting vehicle unassisted, and was driven to Morenci Health clinic. The EMT there recommended he be transported to Maricopa Burn Center for assessment and treatment which occurred immediately.

He did receive a hand size third degree burn on his leg, and second degree burns to leg below the knee to his boot tops. He is overnighting at the Burn Center, and is in good spirits, though not very pleased about the incident as one can imagine. He can be reached at the Burn Center 602-344-5726.

Erik's burnout operations were successful, in spite of this relatively new but not recommended technique.

4/25 Need some kind of verification:

I need to have written proof that other agencies, federal or local govt., have
gone to and have approved the LaSportiva Glacier. I have heard rumors of
an EMAIL or a MEMO that I really would like to get my hands on!!!!

I know this question has been raised so many times before and I apologize
for this.


4/25 Patty,

I know what you mean when you say Don continues to teach... Besides what you mentioned, Don was instrumental in getting the quality ICT3 computer simulation assessment up and running in record time. I believe that continues on too. The speed with which he and his co-creators accomplished such quality work blew me away. It was stressful, but most of those who went through it learned from the process itself. In my estimation when the test leaves you more informed, that's the best kind of test. Professional. Profound.

Mostly I knew Don in teaching settings, in meetings; at break time he was willing to answer any question I had. He had another side besides teaching, a passion that reminded me of my dad. One of the things I wish I had a copy of or could see again was a video clip of Don as IC chewing out a crew of serious underperformers. I think they had hidden out rather than cutting line. He sure called them on the carpet. His directness was refreshing. They looked surprised that they had gotten caught. Too often in this "PC" age people tolerate poor or lackluster performance. Don did not and he didn't mince words. He had a passion about doing the job well and expectations both of himself and for others who worked under his command.


4/25 Don Studebaker

Don's memory and his many contributions to the Wildland Fire organization
continue to be remembered in many ways. Don was the IC of CIIMT 2 and at
the end of each Incident Team assignment the team gets together and "raise
our glasses in a toast" to Don. He's never left the team. Don was also
memorialized at the recent S-420 (Command and General Staff) training
course in South Zone last month. Don was a member of the cadre for over 20
years and was a major contributor to how the course is delivered today and
to its reputation of being a "premier training course". The fire used in
the simulation exercises was renamed the "Studebaker Fire". His legacy
will live on.....He continues to teach.


4/25 re: FERS

Been meaning to write regarding:

"Your FERS will not roll into cal pers. Basically the best thing
to do is to roll it into an IRA or some kind of deferred comp."

If you decide to leave the FS for a state or local agency, you will have the option to leave your money in the Thrift Savings Plan -- once you take it out, as a non-federal employee you'll have no opportunity to reinvest if you change your mind. The TSP is known in investment circles for its extremely low overhead; remember, less paid to managers in fees, means more money gets reinvested. To me, that made sense, and I just let my retirement stay in TSP rather than rolling it over into a private investment -- many of which can eat you alive with fees. Even compared to other investments I have (and I'm a big believer in passive investments with next to no fees) the TSP is a great deal.

For those of you Feds who are snickering and saying no one has the money to invest, do what I did: take a percentage point or two of the January raises (money I wasn't used to getting any way) and put it into Thrift Savings.

Still Out There as an AD

4/25 Just thought I'd share some thoughts on LEADERSHIP as defined by Don
Studebaker back when he was Division Chief on the Palomar Ranger District.
If my memory serves correct, he wrote these down "off the cuff" just prior
to receiving the Cal Yarborough Award as outstanding R5 Division Chief in

Don Studebaker on Leadership (jpg, large 700+K suitable for framing)

Don's contributions to the wildland fire community were many and he will
always be remembered by those fortunate enough to have worked with him. He
was also a great teacher with a knack for developing future leaders. To
this day, not a week goes by that his name isn't mentioned in some
conversation around the office, in the field, or on the fireline. Great
memories and stories for firefighters to learn from well into the future.

Carlton Joseph

4/24 Dear members of the wildland firefighting community,

Don passed away two years ago today. We miss him terribly and I'm
sure many of you do, too. Perhaps his friends could take a moment to
remember him and how much you meant to him. I think he would like
that. I hope you all have a safe fire season.

Ann Studebaker
San Diego, CA

Dear Ann,

Don also meant so much to all of us. He was a mentor to me. Original Ab was a member of his Incident Management Team. What an awesome human being! Larger than life. Willing to tell it like it was. He was a leader, no doubt about it. Every week something comes up for me that causes me to remember and celebrate Don's life. Our community embraces you and your family. Ab.

Photos of Don: Manter Fire, with Aaron at Pendola, checking "the goods", Team at Stein IC in '99, Don having a moment at Stein IC, Dennis Award, Team at Shaw AFB, and Don.

4/24 Before you slam the Siapan class please realize that the Islands in the Pacific (American Samoa, Saipan, and Guam) house employees of the NPS, FWS, NOAA, DOD and I'm sure there is a USFS person out there too. Isn't there a crew from the Islands somewhere too?

I traveled to Guam to teach a GIS class for NOAA and they have very limited access to training. Congrats to the folks out there for getting the class and being progressive enough to get some training.

So yeah- if a trainer gets to travel out there- it's a hell of a trip But if it's a local yokel good for them for being active with limited resources.

Take care and stay safe,

No slamming, just didn't know, I mean a capital hill and DHS building etc, sounded like a good internet joke to me. I had some good belly laughs based on my ignorance. Glad I didn't know. I needed the laugh. Haw Haw Haw, just remembering the good feeling of a good laugh surrounding squeak trees and instant water and the rest. Ab.

4/24 This is from wikipdia

The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), is a commonwealth in political union with the United States of America at a strategic location in the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines, at 15░1′2″N, 145░4′5″E. The United States Census Bureau reports the total land area of all islands as 463.63 km (179.01 sq mi).

It has a population of 80,362 (2005 estimate). The official 2000 census count was 69,221 [1]. Of note is that the Northern Mariana Islands have the highest female to male sex ratio in the world, with an average of 77 men to every 100 women.

Government       Presidential representative democracy
- Head of State  George W. Bush
- Governor         Benigno R. Fitial
- Lt. Governor   Timothy P. Villagomez
- Resident
Representative    Pedro Agulto Tenorio

As you can see George W. Bush is head of state.

If you look back to March archives you will see some posts regarding Red Flag Warnings for Guam which is part of the "Southern" Mariana Islands.

US Forest Service maintains a forestry program in the Mariana's a large part of which is restoring native forests that have been damaged by among other things wildfires. So there is a need for wildland fire fighters, as well and the other things wildland firefighters do like hurricane relief (in the case of the Pacific Ocean it would be typhoon relief), earthquakes, etc.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Olaf Harvey
4/24 Ab, Firescribe and Casey

As you should d**n well know :). Saipan is an island in the US Trust Territory of the Mariana Islands. (Commonwealth if the Northern Mariana Islands) Must be part of R5. And there is a Capitol Hill on the island. In the same armpit of the Pacific as Guam. Actually north of that vacation paradise.

If you don't believe me go check this out.

Don't faint when you can't read it, click on it and it becomes quite legible. Must be they are afraid of global warming and droughts when they won't get the normal annual gazillion inches of rain, got to get wildland trained people available.

Firmly tongue-in cheek.


I knew I didn't want to ask Rusty Witwer or Dennis Orbis for a reason. Too much reality... I guess all laughter fits must end at some point... Ab.

4/24 Dear Firescribe:

I'm assuming that just like similar countries/nations with ties to the US, this "location" may have a sufficient US influence to warrant an area of town where the US does business and call it Capitol Hill, inclusive of a homeland security presence etc.

I can tell you for a fact that there is no "Legislature Building" on Washington DC's Capitol Hill. There are 3 House of Representative Buildings : Rayburn, Longworth & Cannon on one side of the US Capitol and 3 Senate Buildings, Dirksen, Russell & Hart on the other side.

I would doubt there is a Homeland Security Training Center Bldg.1358 in DC as well.

My suggestion, call Rusty Witwer in the R5 RO. He's traveled the world to such places and is now in charge of training and might know something about all this.


ROFLM*O... Do you think "they" are offering the Basic 32 on some non-DC Capitol Hill and we'll be seeing those recruits this season? We should teach them to be aware of squeak trees that cause fires, get them to carry the powdered water, have them help build a few windmills that we use to blow out the fires, and put them on patrol for the scuba divers we occasionally find in trees. Lots of tasks for newbies from Capitol Hill. Ab.

4/24 Re: OPM and the 401 series

Round-about, from Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, the IFPM Subject Matter Specialist:

Based on a request from Department of Interior (DOI) and the USFS to OPM,
there are issues regarding the implementation of the GS-401 series under
the IFPM standards. One issue has to do with the number of education
credits that count towards professional and scientific positions; a second
issue meeting these requirements through use of a variety of courses
including those sponsored by NWCG. These issues are really very complex
with the variety of interpretations are based on policy changes OPM made on
February 15, 2005 and that did not come to DOI/USFS attention until

These issues affects all IFPM participating DOI agencies and the USFS. OPM
has written a letter and issued it to DOI (not USFS Washington Office).

Monday, April 23, 2008, there was a conference call (in Washington DC) that
included both Departments, several agencies and OPM. The next step is to
clarify the issues we asked OPM to assist us to interpret, mitigate and/or
fine other avenues so that the effect will be minimal.

R5's "boot camp" and other programs are mixed up in this mess and there is
not a clear interpretation at this time.

4/24 Re: Smokejumper Speaker

Suggest Bob contact: Chuck S, editor of Smokejumper magazine,
Chico, CA for possible speakers in San Jose area.


I'll send Bob the contact info. If I post it here, Chuck's email will get pounded by everyone who just realized they'd like a sj speaker, too. Haw haw. Ab.

4/24 Zimm, get hold of a copy of the S-230 (Single Resource Boss) course
materials and use Units 2 and 3 Mobilization and Arriving at the Incident;
they cover what you need for check in and time keeping.

4/24 From Firescribe:

Here's a strange combination .... The ultimate in outsourcing, perhaps? Either that or they're going for the inside the beltway minorities? And the guy Anthony who is the contact isn't even on the FS lookup utility. Outsourced? No area code... Hmmm, guess they didn't want anyone from Saipan to call him... However, if we knew the area code all you eastern guys/gals who have been trying to get the Basic 32 could call him and sign up... (Ab, I just had to comment.)

from the Saipan Tribune, Micronesia: www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?newsID=67725&cat=1

Wildland Fire Fighting training set

Ever considered a career in the forest service as a Wildland Fire Fighter? The U.S. Forest Service, Fire and Aviation will be conducting a Wildland Basic 32 Fire Fighting Course on April 23-26, 2007. The training will be held on Capital Hill, at the Homeland Security Training Center Building 1358, formerly the CUC office.

For more information, call Fire Fighter/Program Manager Anthony R. Babauta at 664-9032 or visit the Capital Hill Fire Substation adjacent to the Legislature Building.

4/24 There's a question about tucking nomex pants into the top of wildland boots on the hotlist forum, in the discussion section. Ab.
4/24 Does anyone have a power point presentation for teaching/training
firefighters how to check in at fire camp, how to file claims, how to
fill out time book, and how to demob? Could use this for training this
year too maybe???? hope hope hope!!!! get firefighters to do it right
just once.





4/24 Dave,

Regarding fitness standards for hotshot crews (ref to FS only)....
FSH5109.17 Ch 23..2 "Field units are not authorized to supplement
physical fitness standards." and "The work capacity test is the sole
physical fitness measurement recognized by the Forest Service.". Chapter
41.1 lists running, sit-ups etc as "desired, but not required." Don't
know about other agencies, but the Forest Service units may not use the
run as an selection criteria.

Good luck to your son. Being a member of a Hotshot crew is a great life

Old Fire Guy

4/24 Ab,

Gizmo referred to a memo that the WO was "sitting on" concerning the "401" qualifications. Below you will find the letter that he/she is likely referring to.

In the attached letter, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) explains why it does not sanction the practice of specifying the number of hours of upper and lower level courses associated with the Interagency Fire Program Management (IFPM) Supplemental Qualification Standard for the GS-0401 series (Fire Management Specialist). The IFPM Supplemental Qualification Standard for the GS-0401 series states in part: "The 24 semester hours must be obtained in biological sciences, natural resources, wildland fire management, forestry, or agricultural course work. Educational course work must include at least 18 semester hours of upper division (junior/senior) course work."

Based on the OPM guidance, discontinue the practice of specifying the number of hours of upper and lower level courses associated with the IFPM Supplemental Qualification Standard for the GS-0401 series (Fire Management Specialist). As a reminder, the Department of the Interior or any other Federal agency cannot modify Qualification Standards that have been published in the OPM Qualification Standards Operating Manual without prior OPM approval unless otherwise authorized in the General Policies and Instructions section of the Manual.

Use the Individual Occupational Requirements for the GS-0401 series in conjunction with the Group Coverage Qualification Standard for Professional and Scientific Positions that have been published in the OPM Qualification Standards Operating Manual.

Basic Requirements:

A. Degree: biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or related disciplines appropriate to the position.


B. Combination of education and experience - courses equivalent to a major, as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

Sign me - 24/7
4/24 I'm looking for a smokejumper in San Jose, California to come and talk about
smokejumping to elementary-aged kids in my summer programs. Can you refer
anyone to me? Thank you.

Bob Ramirez
City of San Jose
Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services
Phone: 408-292-2935
4/24 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.
4/24 Dave,

Good info from Jim. Let me add that crews PT together. They come to act as a
well oiled machine for safety sake. If members can't keep up, it reduces crew
cohesiveness and potentially raises risks when fighting fire.


Here's one Hotshot's 17 week training regimen. Ab.

4/24 Tahoe Terri, Casey,

After looking at the Bill that Senator Cantwell introduced I question how
that is really going to make me a safer firefighter. Anything that comes
from Maria's desk I treat as suspicious..... She showed her true colors in
the days, weeks, and months following the 30 Mile tragedy....using it to
come over to Yakima, Wa to meet with the press, and slamming the FS, but
never taking the time to drive 15 minutes out to the Naches Ranger District
where the 4 fallen firefighters were from. There are alot of fire personnel
from the NW that have real contempt for her...as she is viewed as using the
deaths of four firefighters for political gain.

Going to have to leave my handle off of this one
4/24 Dave,

Allow me to try and answer your question regarding
your son. Under the National Interagency Hotshot Crew
Operations Guide (NIHCOG) The criteria for the mile and
half run is listed as a GOAL, not a standard or
condition of employment, Some crews however do hold
different standards than others, depending on their
supervisors. Furthermore, if this is a BLM or NPS crew
that he is on, they have a different set of
standards.. BLM Preparedness Checklist Review #12
{Hotshot Crew} which supersedes the checklist found in
the NIHCOG..... Still with me?.... The bottom line is if
the Hotshot Crew that your son was hired on is holding
everybody to the standard of running the mile and a
half in 10:35 then they should all be informed of this
in their hiring packet prior to accepting the job so
they can prepare and train for it before they report
for duty. Hope this helps, and good luck to your son
in all his adventures. The years that I spent on a
Hotshot Crew were some of the best of my life!

Jim W.
4/24 johnb, send another email addy where we can send your hotlist sign-on info. Your current one isn't working. Ab.
4/24 Anyone heard that OPM may have some problems with the Forest Service "0401"
and "Boot Camp" approach to the wildland fire profession and qualifications?

"Rumors" are flying that the WO and RO are sitting on some sort of memo and will
share it in the next week to alleviate collateral damage to their current program......

Nothing worse than "rumors"....... as the times are changing.......

4/24 Mellie, I think your contact on the Plumas needs to re-read the FS manuals.

The Forest Service must assist the local cooperators to the best of their ability when requested. This works out to be something of a catch 22, when the local FS provides a poor response (like pulling out to the drive way then waiting until the local department goes by before responding) because the locals will usually stop asking. Once the locals stop requesting mutual aid then the FS stops responding and these rumors that the FS can not go get started. I’ve found it amazing how often stations that “don’t do medical aids” get called a lot once the locals know the request will actually provide a worthwhile service.

The manual also says FS firefighters can engage structure fires using exterior attacks, this is another myth I often hear thrown out as an excuse not to respond. While an exterior attack is not optimal, when properly conducted it is quite capable of stopping a fire until firefighters capable of entering a structure arrive.

People who complain that they didn’t sign up for this “structure firefighter” stuff need to go back to the… oh, wait the FS has always done this stuff. I have photos of FS engines from R6 fighting a structure fire in the 1950’s, and another with engines from a central California forest operating at a structure fire in the 70’s. A friend of mine helped remove bodies from the Las Vegas MGM Grand hotel fire as a crew member on a Nevada FS crew in 1980.

There is no place for people that only want to do part of the job, I can’t decide I’m only going to go to fires within 1600 feet of the engine or on slopes less than 20%, we get called we go. In many areas FS resources are much closer than any others, it is not an option to sit in the station while people lay dying or their property goes up in flames. The tools are being supplied but often the training is not, and that needs to change. I doubt most courts would accept that the BLS bag on the engine or buggy was just for employees regardless of what some want to claim.

Anyone that thinks 462’s can not do structure firefighting should look at the National Park Service, 462’s staff structure engines in some parks. OPM has approved these PDs that include up to 50% structural fire responsibilities.

This is not just an R5 thing either; I’ve worked in R3 and was responding to quite a few medicals 10 years ago. I’ve also talked to people working in R6 and many of them are responding to these calls as well. If you look at the numbers in fire stars you will see some of the North Zone forests are responding to quite a few of these “non-traditional” calls as well. An odd bit of trivia, the Eldorado NF was the second forest in the region to adopt SCBA on the engines, not all of this is coming from So. Cal; it is coming from progressive managers who provide the tools their crews need to provide adequate service to the public. Sadly it looks like many of these managers are MIA these days.

Regarding the Angeles Fire patch, I’m sorry to see where that has led, it is disgraceful. When I saw these earlier this year I thought it was one of the first positive changes I’d seen in many years. They looked good and I thought helped promote the agency as a professional firefighting organization. The days of pick up crews are long gone; so why are we pretending that is still how we fight fire. The militia is still an important part of FS fire but they are typically overhead often in areas related to their day jobs, not as boots on the ground. LE figured this out many years ago and are miles ahead of fire now. While we still have GS3 and 4 temp firefighters they have 5/7/9 career positions. Those of you who are happy with the status quo, think about that for a minute, LEOs are target GS9’s with a special pay rate and AUO which go towards retirement and TSP, while its optimistic to assume the average fire person will retire as a GS7 or 8 with nothing more than the little extra provided under fire retirement which the LEOs also get.

It’s no wonder so many are leaving jobs they love for redder pastures.

Staying Fed for now, but wondering if I’m going to regret it
4/24 Larry Sutton, Fire Operations Risk Management Officer, U.S. Forest Service - NIFC, sent this out to the hotshots in March. I think the FS Handbook is being re-written this week, but if anyone has comments, we'd be willing to post them and I'm sure they would get to him and the other writers. Ab.

I'm looking to get a sense of people's thoughts, especially career professional firefighters. This is a pretty informal survey, I don't have the time or budget to bring the Brookings Institution in to do something formal. But I am very interested in your thoughts and those of your colleagues, so please share this through your networks and give me some feedback.

Regards, Larry


Wildland Fire Suppression
Rules or Best Practices?

What do the Standard Firefighting Orders mean to you? Are they absolute rules and Policy that must be followed at all times? Or are they best practices for safe firefighting? If they are absolute rules, should the violation of one or more of them be sufficient basis for removal of an employee from their job or some other form of punishment? What about LCES? Are those principles inviolable or are they guidelines for mitigated risk? Must you always be in communication with others at all times while on a fire? Should a tactical assignment be abandoned if communications are compromised (e.g., a repeater goes down or an aerial platform goes in for fuel)? What about the Downhill Checklist (Incident Response Pocket Guide, p. 8)? Must all of these precepts be followed when constructing line downhill, or are these simply guidelines that should be followed? What about the Risk Management Process (IRPG, p 1)? Should it be followed at all times? How many times should the process be completed during a given operational period? How should the completion of this process be documented? Must the Structure Assessment Checklist (IRPG, p 14) be completed or the Structure Protection Guidelines (IRPG- p 16) followed to the letter before a structure can be protected? How about the Aviation Watch-out Situations (IRPG, p. 46), are they unbending?

The fact is, we have a lot of processes designed to keep wildland firefighters safe, contained in numerous interagency guides and publications. The Incident Response Pocket Guide, Fireline Handbook and Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (or Red Book) come to mind. Yet precisely what these checklists, orders, watch outs and processes are to us, precisely how they are to be used, and whether or not they must be used at all times by all personnel on the fireline…. these issues are less than clear. Can you remember them, or is it too confusing to comprehend 87 + bullet statements all the time?

Is it any wonder that firefighters and accident investigators are often confused when attempting to separate rules/Policy that demand absolute compliance from guidelines and checklists that help ensure survival? Take this passage from the Red Book, page 01-1, for example: “Employees engaged in fire suppression and other fire management activities will comply with standards stated in the NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide and the NWCG Fireline Handbook.” That sounds fine except that, upon examination, neither the IRPG nor the Fireline Handbook contain a section specifically marked “standards”. This would lead one to believe that, according to the Red Book, everything in those two publications represents a standard. Yet, if everything in the IRPG and the Fireline Handbook is a standard, why do we have things titled “guidelines” in there, like the Structure Protection Guidelines (IRPG, p. 16) or the First Aid Guidelines IRPG, p. 37)?

In Forest Service Manual 5130, the following passage can be found in 5135.4:

“Wildfire suppression actions must comply with the Fire Orders, and levels of engagement shall be determined by and based upon iterative risk assessment and management (IRPG p.1).”

Language like “must comply with” is pretty plain and doesn’t leave much room for interpretation. This is the kind of wording that enables accident investigation reports to recite a litany of Standard Firefighting Orders that were “violated”, representing either causal or contributing factors of an accident/serious injury or fatality.

The recent interagency emphasis on Doctrine has emphasized the point that books full of rules may actually serve to make firefighters less safe. The reasoning here is that if firefighters focus too much on rules compliance, they will not be able to focus sufficiently on situation awareness and the task at hand. Lack of situation awareness puts firefighters at increased risk, and the inability to focus on the task at hand leads to mission failure and possible injury or death. The Red Book on page 01-7 says:

“The primary means by which we implement command decisions and maintain unity of action is through the use of common principles of suppression operations. These principles guide our fundamental fire suppression practices, behaviors, and customs, and are mutually understood at every level of command. They include Risk Management, Standard Firefighting Orders and Watch Out Situations, LCES and the Downhill Line Construction Checklist. These principles are fundamental to how we perform fire suppression operations, and are intended to improve decision making and firefighter safety. They are not absolute rules. They require judgment in application.”


  1. Do you believe that the firefighting practices discussed above are “common principles of suppression operations” and as such, are the “best practices for safe firefighting”, or do you believe that they should be hard and fast unbendable rules?
  2. Are there some of these “common principles” that should be hard and fast rules, while others should simply be guidelines or best practices? If so, which one(s) should be rules?
  3. If you think some of the “common principles” should be rules or policy, what should the penalties be for violating those rules or policies?
  4. Do you think that all wildland fire management agencies need to have the same interpretation of “common principles” and “rules”? What happens if they don’t?
  5. What do you think is the overall intent of written Guidelines, Policies and Rules?
  6. What do you think the best approach is to make the fire environment safer for personnel?
4/24 Re: The FY 2008 FS Budget Request for WFSU and WFPR....... and latent failures

First, my sincere thanks to the former Chiefs of the USFS for speaking out. Their actions should be appreciated by all as a small victory.

The "Chiefs of the US Forest Service from 1979 to 2007" were not fire folks in any way..... They didn't work their way up to their positions of leadership directing and managing complex fire programs, but they were expected to be the "Voice of the Agency" without the experiences that "they" were charged in managing. LATENT FACTOR.

They (the Chiefs) were leaders each in their own way and the programs emphasis that attracted people without noticing a change in the mission to recreation and fire.... Each expressing their own professional bias, good and bad as they had blinders on for some reason.

In our world as wildland firefighters, depending upon "their" (former Chiefs) support of "their" personal direction as line officers.... we as wildland firefighters usually call bull sh*t... Each one of them acted differently when they spoke before Congress depending upon their "status"..... None of them stood up until they retired, and that while noble now, would have been better served when they could have affected immediate change in their "leadership" positions...... LATENT FACTOR..... Like others, they should have stood up when they were in leadership positions that could have made a change...... but failed to act...... until retirement.

3-1/2 of the 5 Chiefs promoted through "Merit Promotion"..... 1-1/2 of the Chiefs promoted through political appointment........

While it is great to hear the "Chief's" perspectives, I would rather hear about what they have learned from the field and the learning that they want to share with the field........ I would rather hear each Chief of the Forest Service perspectives without a GROUP THINK mentality..... as their views are challenged.

Calling BS...... That is something a leader does whenever someone jumps off the boat........ Even with friends and leaders who we admire........

Chiefs....... Step Up....Educate Yourself.... Pay it Forward....Educate Others.... Lead Up.....

4/23 In response to Mellie's question about CDF and Medical Runs:

On the MVU, CDF is often the first responder in many areas, remember San Diego County does not have a county Fire Dept. There are several paid and volunteer departments that serve some of the same rural areas where CDF stations are located, some have ambulances. CDF only operates ambulances where they staff Schedule "A" departments. The closest engine and the closest ambulance, no matter who's, are usually sent. Sometimes 2 engines go, 1 CDF and 1 the "local" department. Also there are a few areas served by private PM ambulances.

The schedule "A" department ambulances are not a de-facto CDF resource, responding to any call where CDF is dispatched first in, on a medical. They only go out of area on a Mutual Aid call. Dispatchers make it clear if it is an "Assist".

Cleveland NF runs some medical too. They do respond to traffic accidents near their stations and all accidents and injuries on the forest. Always calling for Mutual Aid for an ambulance and Medics if needed. CNF has also responded as Mutual Aid on medicals for other departments. Usually extended CPR, land a Medivac Chopper, traffic and other manpower jobs.

One thing that aids the Mutual Aid thing is that CDF, CNF and TNR share a dispatch center, which also serves many rural departments; and they have good communications with the other dispatch center serving South and East county rural areas; and a few of the smaller cities in South County. Thus CDF likely gets the bigger share of the Mutual Aid calls; particularly if a volunteer Dept. is primary. Same goes for structure and, of course, wildland fire. CDF provides a lot of Mutual Aid on structure.

All the other counties down this way have county fire for the back country. I cannot speak for Imperial County though, I believe they have a county fire department and use private ambulances. Nothing to burn there anyway except in the towns.

Someone that knows more please correct me if I am wrong; I think I have the basics down.


4/23 Casey,

Sometimes Chiefs need to retire to

  • get out of the beltway mentality
  • have the mental quiet to gain the larger perspective
  • not care what your boss might say (You're fired)
  • talk with those other retirees
  • get fired up with a new perspective on life
  • etc, any other suggestions?

NorCal Tom, also retired

4/23 Mellie,

Since 2003, CDF (CAL Fire) has been officially in the EMS (Emergency Medical Service) business, on the 'B' side that is. CDF, under schedule A and Amador contracts has always provided some level of EMS, whether BLS (basic life support) or ALS (advanced). When communities ask CDF for a Schedule A RFP, many times it includes an ALS (paramedic) component.

As far as the schedule B side goes, it has been the intent of CDF to have all emergency responders qualed up to the basic EMT level, although currently first responder is only required (CDF 4037). Many of the individual CDF administrative units require their folks to have the basic EMT at a minimum, but again, Unit Specific. In my Executive Fire Officer research paper, I found that half of the CDF units have BEMT as a minimum. What I found interesting though, is the the more rural the unit, most likely the minimum is first responder. Go figure. Here in the unit that I work in we have the BEMT minimum.

Under CDF 8579, there is a minimum amount of EMS equipment requirement, such as trauma bag, O2, C-collars, burn kits, etc etc. Regardless of EMS level on the engine, all of the equipment on a B engine is geared for the BEMT level.

Mellie, we are sometimes the only fire agency in the neighborhood and with CDF being an all risk fire agency, we will respond to just about any emergency thrown at us, regardless of SRA (State Responsibility Area), LRA (Local Responsibility Area), MTZ (Mutual Threat Zone), or FEDS.

Hope this helps out. Any other questions, have Ab forward my email to you, or do you still have it?? ;o)

AZ Trailblazer
4/23 I certainly applaud the efforts of the five former Forest Service Chiefs to offer their perspective on the Administration's FY '08 appropriations proposal for the FS and I truly don't want to deflate the importance of such collaborative work, but shouldn't these same concerns have been addressed by these Chiefs when they were chief of the Forest Service and had the ability & authority to educate the Administration, inclusive of OMB?

The letter refers to the growth in the percentage of FS budget for fire between 2000 & the 2008 proposal yet fails to illustrate what, if anything, the chiefs of that time period said or did to effect change in the way business was conducted.

In fact in recent years, the FWFSA pleaded with Chief Bosworth to address these concerns with the Administration and spell out for OMB & others just what it would take financially to fund all the projects, both fire & non-fire that Congress & the Administration expected the Agency to perform. Time and again the refrain from the FS leadership was that being a part of the Administration, the Agency had to happily accept what the Administration proposed and was expected by the Administration to tout to Congress all the wonderful things it (the Agency) could do with the proposed budget.

Just last year, an internal memo from then Chief Bosworth outlined his concerns for potential "budget transfers" to pay for fire...something Congress had been chiding him about throughout his tenure. His concern should have been taken to OMB, the Secretary of Agriculture, the President etc. the year before.

Sadly, we also read of the oft-repeated causes for increased fire suppression costs i.e. climate, inflation etc., without any recognition of the systematic diversion of preparedness & fuels funding that, had those funds been spent on what they should have been spent on, would have significantly mitigated the " out of our control" factors and would have kept far more fires small & less costly.

More revealing, the letter states that from FY 2000 through the FY 2008 proposal, the FS budget devoted to fire (both preparedness & suppression) increased steadily from 25% to 44%. If in fact the budget devoted to preparedness increased, why then is Mark Rey of the USDA testifying that preparedness allocations have been reduced? Why are preparedness resources not being funded thus causing fires to increase in size, intensity & cost?

Why didn't these Chiefs do their job and address these matters while they were chief ????? Suggesting that the problem can be fixed by providing the flexibility to finance emergency firefighting outside the FS discretionary budget is one idea.

How about more basic, simple principles:

1) stop diverting/siphoning off preparedness & fuels funding
2) provide accurate fiscal requirements to the Administration & Congress as to what is necessary to fund fire & non-fire projects without budget transfers
3) stop the over-reliance on significantly higher-priced non-federal resources for firefighting

All of these things should have been done while these folks were chief of the FS, not after they left the position. Maybe Chief Kimbell will take a cue from this letter not to allow these matters fester and become worse during her watch.


Statement of
R. Max Peterson, F. Dale Robertson, Jack Ward Thomas
Michael P. Dombeck, and Dale N. Bosworth
Retired Chiefs of the Forest Service

On the FY2008 Appropriation for the U.S. Forest Service

As Chiefs of the US Forest Service from 1979 to 2007, we wish to express in the strongest way that the Forest Service has been put into an untenable financial situation due to the way fire suppression funding is being handled in the Federal Budget.

The current procedure of funding fire suppression is based on the 10-year average cost. That assumes that fire fighting costs are reasonably predictable and reasonable constant. Examination of historical data reveals that both assumptions are wrong – sometimes dramatically wrong. Recent years have seen increasing fire costs as the result of accumulating drought effects in the West coupled with a series of years that are the warmest on record. Many reputable climatologists and fire behavior specialists predict those trends to continue. These drought and temperature conditions have compounded insect and disease damage in areas affected and the severity of damage is resulting in rapid accumulation in fuels. As a result, and particularly in the West, the fire season is beginning earlier, lasting longer, with increasing intensity. These fires are increasingly difficult and expensive to control. These factors, coupled with inflation, have driven up the costs of fire suppression. Those trends seem likely to continue.

The Forest Service is faced with difficult decisions of how to pay for fire suppression activities that exceed the 10-year average. 1) The historic process of “borrowing” from trust funds is no longer feasible, and 2) the requirement that the FS must ask for the 10-year average fire suppression cost in its budget requests, leads to sudden and unpredictable reductions in funds for non-fire related programs usually in the middle of the summer when all Forest Service programs need funding.

Historically, the FS borrowed money from Trust Funds deposited by timber sale purchasers for reforestation (Knutson-Vandenburg or KV funds) and brush disposal (BD). Congress, then, routinely reimbursed those trust funds through supplemental appropriations well after the end of fire season when actual firefighting costs were known. Generally, this approach worked well enough, as the totals available in such Trust Funds were more than sufficient to cover firefighting costs. This was assured by the 2-3 year lag-time between the time those funds were collected (when timber was harvested) and when associated reforestation and brush disposal projects were scheduled after the timber sale was closed. Since the timber sale program was reduced by over 80 percent over the decade of the 1990’s, these Trust Funds are no longer even close to adequate to assure ability to cover fire suppression costs.

Now, the FS must rely primarily on “borrowing” from appropriated funds for congressionally approved programs in Research, State & Private Forestry, and the management of the National Forests. Since the height of the fire season in the West occurs in the latter 3 months of the Fiscal year, this creates an impossible and ever more routinely occurring situation in financial management. The FS has no way of knowing how much money to hold back from other programs to ensure that they can cover firefighting cost. This not only disrupts the ability of FS to plan their work overall, but severely impacts their accomplishments in Research, S&PF, and National Forest Programs. Even though Congress has financed these programs, the FS in no longer in a position to implement non-fire suppression operations on anything resembling a logical and plan wise basis.

This problem has been magnified by the decision of the Administration to, simultaneously; reduce the funds requested for non-fire related programs. From FY 2000 through the President’s budget for 2008, the proportion of the FS budget devoted to fire (both preparedness and suppression) increased steadily from 25% to 44%. These increases in funding for fire, coming at a time of ever more constrained FS budgets, has resulted in a 35% reduction in funding for non-fire programs when adjusted for inflation. FS staffing has been reduced by 5900 positions. With the 10-year average cost of fire suppression increasing by about $80 million per year (with more increases likely in the future) the overall ability of the FS to do its assigned job is more and more limited.

If you want an efficient and effective FS that Congress and the Administration can count on to carry out its statutory mission and congressionally approved and financed programs, this problem must be fixed by providing the flexibility to finance emergency firefighting outside the FS discretionary budget.

R. Max Peterson
Chief, Forest Service
1979 – 1987
F. Dale Robertson
Chief, Forest Service
1987 – 1993
Jack Ward Thomas
Chief Forest Service
1993 – 1996

Michael P. Dombeck
Chief, Forest Service
1997 – 2001

Dale N. Bosworth
Chief, Forest Service
2001 - 2007
4/23 re: "GA Peach just posted on the hotlist. Always interesting to see how eastern fires differ in resources needed and used from western fires."

i've always thought the REAL difference is THE MEDIA. out there in SoCal there are a bazillion TV stations, newspapers, and WAY too many bored reporters. here in the the south there's lots of fire, lots of people, but we don't have the media breathing down our necks, just waiting for "the big one" to break - - - and make their careers. "goodbye smokey bear, HELLO HOLLYWOOD!!" we just don't have the pressure from the media (and all the fear they can generate) to throw resources at the fires. . . . just a thought . . . . i know there are differences in fire behavior, but not THAT much difference . . .

sign me - an R-eighter
4/23 Hi All,

I have a quick question here.

My son recently got hired onto a Hotshot crew. And while he's able to complete that "pack test" well under the time limit, he's having a hard time getting the 1.5 mile run time down to 10:35. He's in great shape- he's just not built for running.

Now, I read his hiring packet, and it says the pack test is the only physical test that determines whether you actually get hired. Nowhere does it mention a 1.5 mile run.

He insists that getting hired hinges not only on the pack test, but also on the running test and some other physical tests. Where did he hear about these tests? And are his concerns legit? I'd like to know if this 1.5 mile run is actually conducted at the start of the season, and if it determines his ability to be on this crew. Thanks for your time.

Great site by the way!

- Dave
4/23 AZ Trailblazer, Tahoe Terrie,

Jo Ann Fites, PhD wrote a 3 page white paper entitled Fire Acceleration in Chimneys and Canyons: What do we now know that could improve situational awareness and LCES? She gave me a copy at the Chief Officers Meeting in February. I don't have a digital copy.

You can find her contact info here:

All firefighters in Spain are trained on the Fire Signature Prediction Method , Doug Campbell's system. They make briefing maps with trigger points for change, and note when there could be alignment of forces which indicate increasing rate of spread. I think when I took Doug's training in 2000 Drew was there also with the Ventura County guys. He was and is a FBAN for LACounty FD, like Terry said. Many FBANs are incorporating Doug's logical terminology for groundpounders to maintain SA. The course is being taught all over the West, in Spain and in South America.


Thanks for the photo. It may be a little too high tech with the tv screen above the green board, but otherwise good... Maybe there is some way to crop it out. Still working on cracking that nut.

Klamath NF Engine Captains,

I had a great time trekking Hwy 96 and a very fine time visiting you all. It was interesting to see the signs that said "Wildland Fire Station". Our Salyer Station and Big Bar Station just say "Fire Station". I knew that FS does not respond to medical aids per se, but it was interesting to see it spelled out in the sign that said Wildland Fire... Station.

When I asked, a friend who ran the dispatch shop on the Plumas a while back told me they were never allowed to dispatch resources for medical purposes, even simple things. Engines sometimes responded to accidents to help "direct traffic". When they arrived on scene the Engine Captain made the decision to do more first responder stuff if the situation warranted, like if people were dying and might not if simple medical aid was rendered.

Is CalFire tasked with responding to medical calls if an incident occurs in their SRA? Do they do more than just fire as part of their mission? Do socal forests/fire stations have MOUs with other responders like CalFire and the counties to help with medical aids? I know FS firefighters help with many more medical incidents in areas where there is more population. Does this only happen informally?

Hmmmm, in those large rural expanses, north and south, who helps if there's a heart attack or a broken leg? OK, I know from our remote ranch we can call for life flight (with a little insurance policy paid up front) or for an ambulance. It can take more than hour to arrive. We don't expect the "fire dept" to just show up. We're all basic first aid or EMT trained, too, and have two nurses in the extended family. Guess I just got to thinking of all the potentially helpless and not-so-smart people out there with few med resources... but those kind of folks exist in towns and cities too. Oh my, that sounds so non-PC and lacking in compassion, but there are lots of "helpless" people in the world! I guess people survive best who know how to take care of themselves and expect to do that from the get-go or have family who is knowledgeable. Like that young man who saved his own life in the recent college shooting with a tourniquet on his hemorrhaging femoral artery. He was an Eagle Scout. He directed a peer. We need more self-sufficiency lined up with situational awareness. When did planning to take care of yourself drop off the VALUES list?

Enough musings...
KNF I enjoyed meeting you. (Dan L., you should have a surge protector/power strip in your powerpoint box of goodies. I left mine for you. Actually I forgot it. Got another...)


4/23 KB-

Within a Hotshot organization there is either a 1-2-2 or 1-1-3 overhead
configuration. The 1-2-2, is set up with a Superintendent, 2
Foreman/Captains, and two squad bosses. The 1-1-3 has a Superintendent,
one Assistant Superintendent, and three squad bosses. The 1-2-2 is
originally started in Region 5, but has spread throughout many other
hotshot crews within other regions and agencies. Some may argue that the
two captain setup is better, but there are advantages and disadvantages
for both of the overhead configurations.

4/23 Dear Tahoe Terrie:

The FWFSA has been contacted by Sen. Cantwell's staff and OMB for our take on this particular piece of legislation. As you indicated, similar legislation has been introduced during the last two congressional sessions. As we all know, Sen. Cantwell is also one of the primary authors of legislation that led to PL 107-203 as a result of Thirty Mile in her home state of Washington.

As I expressed to the Cantwell office, it is incumbent upon all of us at all levels to do what we can to improve the safety of our firefighters. However, I also have made it clear that despite lessons learned from previous fatal fires and the implementation of a number of elements to improve safety, the business of wildland firefighting is inherently dangerous and despite our best efforts, reality suggests we will continue to lose firefighters.

I also made it very clear that with such dynamic complexities faced by our wildland firefighters on the fire ground, hard & fast rules, 10 & 18's etc., and the expectation of some not experienced in wildland firefighting for our firefighters to strictly adhere to such rigid requirements, is impractical and in fact would increase the risks to safety in many instances.

Based on my discussions with congressional staff, I think the impetus for this legislation is to extract some semblance of factual information and accountability from the leadership of the land management agencies with respect to their safety efforts. That being said, we have suggested that such factual information and accountability be expected in all aspects of the agency fire programs.

I don't know that there will be an enormous impact to FMOs should this legislation pass. Rather an annual report to congressional committees of jurisdiction from the Agencies is what is expected simply outlining what actions they are taking to improve safety and at what expense.

My personal greatest fear which I have passed along to congressional staff is like in so many other instances where the agencies have sought to show Congress what they are doing to improve this or that, the agencies often implement knee-jerk reactions that result in new guidelines or policies that, when applied in a practical setting on the fire line, don't make much sense and don't work.

An additional provision of the bill in previous forms was to require that those contracting with the agencies to perform firefighting services demonstrate that their training levels mirror those of federal wildland firefighters. Changes to this particular language in the current version of the bill concerned us because it appears that it leaves any such comparable training requirements up to the agencies rather than mandated by Congress.

Sen. Cantwell firmly believes and expects that contractors and other non-federal resources utilized by federal land management agencies should have commensurate training levels. Since members of the FWFSA would have evidence of whether this was occurring or not far sooner than any annual report to congress, we would be expected to inform Congress as to what was happening out in the field with respect to contractors, their training levels etc.

I believe the FWFSA will support the legislation based upon its general principles of focusing on safety and accountability of the agency.

I'd also like to point out that the liability issue, while not addressed in this particular bill, is a top priority of Sen. Cantwell and others from the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee in an effort to clarify the issue. Her office has reiterated that it was not her intent for PL 107-203 to result in criminal prosecution of firefighters.

As more information becomes available, I'll be certain to pass it along.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/23 GA Peach just posted on the hotlist. Always interesting to see how eastern fires differ in resources needed and used from western fires.

Thanks GA Peach.


4/23 Anyone know what if any western based resources are is South Georgia.
Do airtankers get dispatched there? Does green burn like Florida?

I heard more than 55,000 acres have burned.


4/23 Last week Washington Senator Maria Cantwell introduced the Wildland Firefighter Safety Act of 2007; it's similar to a bill introduced in 2005. That one failed to pass.

If it passes now would this make life worse for fire managers or does it not even matter? Would it it add to the paperwork? In January 2008 the new FS Handbook including doctrine should be fully operable. I hear they're meeting this week to rewrite it. Are these groups/individuals even communicating?

Do we have some educating to do? "Risk Evaluation" name of the game...

Tahoe Terrie

PS: AZ Trailblazer I do not have any more info for you. Sorry I can't help. Maybe talk to Drew Smith, LACO.

4/23 Sickupandfed,

I came over from the FS BDF over six years ago. Your FERS will not roll into cal pers. Basically the best thing to do is to roll it into an IRA or some kind of deferred comp. That's what I did!

The benefits with Cal-Fire speak for themselves 3% @50, Vested time you give 20 yrs of state service, medical benefits are paid for, yourself and spouse. The ability to retire @ 90% of your three highest years. Medical benefits are really cheap in price. I have an HMO, some people knock it, but I have always had one so I know how to work it. Overall this place is much better. I work in Riverside as part of the county fire department and would never dream that I would make 92k as a Fireman with working minimal overtime and home a lot more with family and friends.

I am glad that I made the move from the FS to Cal-Fire !!!!!!!!!!!!!


4/23 PNW IHC crew turnover concerns hotshot (Concerns sent to Jim Hampton and forwarded around. Ab.)


Just wanted to forward some thoughts and concerns I have been having
as I have heard from our crews and what has been going on in the
winter/spring. I am not sure if others are feeling this way, but am just
getting one of "those feelings". I don't know what the best venue to voice
these concerns are. Do you think it is a good idea to voice them to Jim
Furlong, the ICT's? What do you think?

Jim just wanted to run a concern by you. It seems with nearly all the R6
crews, nearly each one of us are approaching this season with significant
changes in our overhead and temporary staffing. My concern is that I, for
one, am starting to feel a little uneasy with all the changes in personnel
especially at critical positions. The timing of these changes is not very
good and will have an effect on early season cohesion and team building and
bonding. I know this is happening on Prineville and so plan to use more
caution and pay more attention to training, the types assignments I take,
early out. To me, with so many personnel changes going on on my crew at
the last minute, I feel like several holes have been made in a couple of my
slices of cheese. I am guessing many of you are in very similar
circumstances if not sharing my general feeling about recent turnrovers and
personnel changes. I care very much about all of you and want each one of
you and all your crew members to come home safe, happy and whole. As we
approach fire season in 07, I urge good SA, erring on the side of caution
and reserve over aggressive behavior in the beginning.

Thank you, be safe,
Superintendent Prineville Hotshots


JH's reply he sent out:

Some concerns from Lance. There aren't many crews that aren't in the same
boat this season. Would like to solicit some opinions from the group on who
we want to relay this info to. Some possibilities to consider would be the
Regional Steering Committee, Shelby G, the ICTs, or the Coordination
Center, if we want to air this concern. I'd like to discuss this topic as a
group, so reply to all with the history trail so we can see where we're
going with this. I'd like to wrap up the comments prior to the IHC slot at
the Type I Team meeting on May 1. I'll be traveling to that meeting on the
30th, so please have any feedback in by 4/29.

Thanks, JH


and another reply:

Hi all -

Thanks, Lance for bringing up the turnover issue - I agree that we are all
going through a growing year, and that it is a national issue this year and
not with just the hotshots, with districts, helitack, and overhead teams.

The La Grande hotshot are in a building mode this season - we have a lot of
new faces this year and some folks that are moving up into new roles

We have had a lot of crewmembers accept PSE's, go jumping, or graduate and
go on with their other life. As with everyone, the delays in hiring have
been costly as folks that we have been recruiting get job offers elsewhere
while we wait on ASC to make job offers.

We recognize that the start of this season is not "business as usual" -
pack test, mandatory training, saw certs, fire refresher and we can head
out the door after 80 hours training operating at the level that we were in

We have a lot of learning, growing and team building ahead of us

Some of the things that we are doing this year includes:

- an two-day overnight team building session with the overhead prior to the
crew coming on - this will include a comprehensive review of our SOG's and
FOG, reviews of some of our near-misses over the years, and reviews of last
years AAR's and incidents reports. We are doing this away from the station
with no phones, IBMs or other interruptions to assure that we have quality
time together.

- A full 80 hours training before becoming available, with an emphasis on
team building exercises, group PT and field exercises

- Bringing in an outside source for a team-building session during our
two-week training period

- not accepting assignments unless the full overhead is available to
respond - which means a third week that we will not be available for
off-forest assignments because my daughter is graduating high school, and
Daddy is going to be home for this.

- also, we will have to really access assignments that we accept, and
resist the tendency to get our crew split up into small groups in difficult
assignments and breaking off my key folks to provide overhead to the teams

I'm excited about having some fresh blood and the energy that comes with
new people - I've "lost" some real good people, but have gained some
excellent folks, and have got some people moved into leadership roles that
we have been mentoring for years.

I guess the message that I would like to share is that we as a crew and as
a group are in a growing mode this year - not just regionally but
nationally - I am still getting outreaches almost daily for key positions
including Supts, Assistants and Squad leaders for crews across the nation.
It is going to be a challenge for many crews to meet the Ops Guide for
overhead qualifications and to pass the readiness review.

My take on our crew situation this year is that we need to continue be
honest with ourselves about our capabilities, and to carefully access
each assignment.
(Ab's emphasis)

Good luck to you all in your last minute hiring and your training - we'll
see ya on the line


4/23 From: Streck, Matt
Sent: Sun Apr 22 20:43:38 2007
Subject: jpg of Chief Zollner "In Memory" decal

A <<zollner_logo.jpg>> (708K, large!) attached is a jpg of the "In Memory" decal that was produced for Chief Zollner's memorial. Only a few hundred were made in time for the event and more will be made in the future, I will make sure some are sent south. While we wait for more decals I thought you might like this for other uses such as screen savers etc.

Matt Streck
Fire Apparatus Engineer Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit
California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
4/23 From (3/18) from Utah, a note making the hotshot rounds...

Hey fellas. Hope all is well. Wanted to let you know that BLM in St.
George popped a fire yesterday at about 15:30 and it is 300+ acres as of
right now. The temps were 62 degrees and obviously dry in St. George. I
figure we were getting 30 foot flames off of it at times, it was very
impressive for mid-April and 62 degrees. St. George's normal precip is
2.79 inches and currently it is .63 inches. It will be busy this year over
in this area. We ran wet line and handline until about 23:00 and then it
was too steep and big rocky to work, so bagged it for the night. I spoke
with dispatch this morning and they have ordered an ICT3. Sounds like the
last piece that we couldn't get tied last night is kicking up first thing
this morning. Well, I wanted to let folks know that they may end up here
for a fire or 2 this summer.

Take care,


4/23 Calfire folks and recent FS transfers,

I'm curious as to how an interagency transfer, from Forest Service to Calfire, would
affect retirement from FERS to the CA state system. Does it transfer?

What about local government agencies, are they similar to CA state?

I've got 23+ in with the FS and will be 50 in less than 5 years.

What are the age limitations? any info would be helpful as I get an application ready.

Thanks ahead of time,

4/23 Ab,

What kind of accountability is there for a forest supervisor who alienates or otherwise runs off all qualified fire and line personnel on their forest? This person has a rep for hating fire. I know somebody said it's their bosses, the Regional Deputy Forester and Forester, who are failing to evaluate. Are there qualification checkpoints and performance reviews built in? Is there any other way to bring them to trial if people get burned up this season.

I heard Doctrine is being rewritten in the FS Handbook -- and here we are 50 years later -- after the 1957 rewrite that laid out the 10 and 18 -- but how are Forest Supervisors like the one on the Angeles being evaluated and held accountable?

Free the Angeles!!!

please, noname

4/22 Ab,

In one of the posts on hotshots back a week ago they mentioned
1-2-2 and 1-1-3 organizations. Can anyone tell us what that means?
Is one better than the other? Why do they want to know that?


4/22 I heard a rumor that DEMO hiring might be allowed for hiring
senior firefighters (SFF). Anybody have any update on that?


4/22 Ab

I finally saw proof today there may be something called CAL FIRE. A Bright Red, brand new type 3 engine with CAL FIRE, on it's side equipment compartment doors; was parked outside a local grocery store when I went in. Ran into some CDF guys inside and remarked that if that thing outside was theirs, I guessed it was time to admit that CAL FIRE is here to stay. They noted that, just like the uniforms they were wearing, it still says CDF on the doors. They still think CDF :).

They have had it 3 weeks, brand new CDF Type 34; 4X4, automatic transmission, air ride, A/C crew cab; no rumble seats like the one it replaced. Ride is great. They can't wait to get it pumping water on a real incident. The new paint scheme does not have the white stripe along the lower part of the vehicle body. (CAL FIRE will not fit where it used to say CDF).

Won't say the Engine Number might get them in trouble.

4/22 NorCal Capt

I believe the new dress uniform jacket and pants are available in the uniform program now. How ever they are more than our allowance. I know of some folks who purchase white collar shirts and have the patch put on. I saw the “Q” man wearing a white shirt at Don Studebaker's service that he had a patch placed on.

4/20 T.V on the L.P

If you contact Sue Zahn at San Dimas Tec Center she has a great GPS power
point that she has used all over the place. She said she would be more than
happy to share it. It is very basic.


4/20 Some new photos up on Logos 7 (filled in at bottom) , Logos 12 (Jumper logos) and Logos 13 (including back side of the ANF Fire Coin). Also put up a photo of the combined Kern Valley HS and Rio Hondo crew on Handcrews 21. Ab.
4/20 Jason McKay Photo Request:

Brenda, give me a call and I'll give you an update on what's going on with the media
package you all are still waiting to receive. The date for distribution of this stuff changes
more than I change hair styles.......

Love ya and all my little Z's too!


Yes, Auntie B... haw haw. Ab.

4/20 AB,

To all the good folks I work with in the Forest Service and BLM. I have
accepted a position with CAL FIRE as an Antelope Training Crew Captain.

My time here on the Payette N.F. along with my time on the Shasta Trinity
N.F. and Carson City BLM has been an exceptional experience and it is very
difficult to leave such outstanding fire organizations.

As most folks that I've worked with know very well, my Family is my driving
force and again I am putting them first.

I have made another challenging career choice that will open my mind to
different policies and practices yet, continuing to still fight fire!

Thank you all and I am looking forward to seeing you all out on the line

Damon Godden
Battalion Chief, McCall Ranger District
Payette National Forest

PS. AB- Thanks for your web site it is a tool I have used for all my
firefighters to keep up and in tune with the Nation!

Damon, Good luck with your new challenges. Don't be a stranger here. Ab.

4/20 Take a look at these snow pack maps.

I was a little surprised at how fast the fuels were drying out, so I looked this up.
The first link shows this year's 2007 western snow pack. The next shows 2006
and the last shows 2002, year of Biscuit and Rodeo, etc., etc.

Still Out There as an AD

4/20 NorCal Capt

I agree that all fire service employees should look professional when attending a service such as a funeral for a fallen firefighter. While not a FS or Fed employee, I too share in your frustration.

I attended the memorial for the Esperanza firefighters and was unable to attend Bryan's services. I was fortunate enough to call him a good friend during his time in RRU. Looking at the overall situation though, what is most important is that we are there to show our respects, while supporting the families, friends and co-workers through difficult times. I know that is what you and so many others did yesterday, and will continue to do so when necessary. Thank you.


4/20 For the person looking for a GPS powerpoint, the rewrite of the FOBS
course, S-244, included a rewrite of the old Maps and Compass course and
included a section, a very basic session, on GPS. The course is either
newly out or about to go out. I've lost track.


4/20 Mike, glad you're making hard choices. Best wishes for the career transition! Now your family will be able to plan for college for your little girl.

I want to remind everyone that Dan Fiorito, Union Hotshot Supt, is retiring in May. His potluck party is on May 19, 12-5 in LaGrande OR, Riverside Park. I will certainly miss you, Dan. Dan and others in his circle provided me great support as I went through medical stuff several years ago. I hear he's a mighty fine supt as well. Thanks, Dude!

If anyone wants the retirement party flyer with map, holler and I'll send it. Should be a good shindig.

I sure love all you folks!


4/20 T.V. on the L.P.

Feel free to download our lesson plans, student workbook, PowerPoint
presentations etc. from:


Fire Geek
4/20 To all

I would love any personal photos you are willing to share taken of Jason McKay's memorial service or of the family visiting the site. I want to finish a scrapbook about my brother and add personal photos. All I have now are photos from media outlets. Thank you so very much for any help with this. Memories are precious, as now it's all we have..

4/20 I have a short and simple point to bring up.

I attended the memorial service yesterday for a very well RESPECTED firefighter, Chief Bryan Zollner. It was a very nice and professional service, FDNY was there as well as hundreds of rep's from other dept's. This was a very "wet" service it rained awhile. There were some things that happened during this service that were very blessing, flocks of geese flying over, Bryan was a big waterfowl hunter!!! Who knows why they flew over the ceremony but they did I thought it was kind of a tribute in a way.

Anyway I am rambling on what I wanted to ask anyone who CARES is this, class A uniforms for the USFS firefighters!!! Who wants them? I for one felt like a under dressed professional and yet wanted to show my pride for a fallen brother. I wish that we had class A uniforms for this such an occasion it would not only make us look and feel like we are one of the respected and proven professionals of the fire world but it would also show respect to are fallen brothers and sisters....................

Any comments

4/20 Hey Ab!

Im looking for any type of power point on GPS usage and the basics of GPS use.
If you know of anyone that has a power point or any type of packets that i could
use for a GPS usage class that i want to put on, anything would be much appreciated.

T.V on the L.P

4/20 RE: Captain Salas,

Congratulations Mike! I am expecting a call or email from you
with new contact info once you are settled!

Best to you and your family in your transition! I appreciate all
the help, conversation and friendship over the past years. The
silver lining for the fire service is that it is keeping a fine
FIREFIGHTER in the system...

4/20 From Firescribe:

A photo slide show of Brian Zollner's funeral.


4/20 Ojai Valley News Wednesday April, 18th edition headline driest year since 1877



4/19 Ab,

I have just accepted a Crew Captain position with Cal-Fire, Gablin Camp. Today I went into my boss's office, a man I have the utmost respect for and informed him I was resigning from the Forest Service. I would like to thank everyone that I have met and who has given me advice and guidance in the 15 years that I have been a Wildland Firefighter. I have had the honor to work with some of the most talented Firefighters in the Nation.

I will miss my friends on the LP, but it will not be a good bye, I will stay in contact with them and still take the kayak out for a nice fishing trip. Mark V, Stan S, Steve M, Chris W, Al D, Tom P, Lance C, Mike B, Scott M, Doug B, Mike S, Tony D, Steve D and Tim D, you have all inspired me in one form or another and I will never forget all the valuable advice, principles, and guidance you have shared with me.

Casey, the integrity and fire you have to help so many is amazing. Keep up the fight, I just wish the RO and WO had your passion.

Take care everyone and have a safe fire season this year......

Michael Salas
Captain, Los Padres National Forest

Don't be a stranger, Mike. You've been a member of this community -- far too long to disappear now; regardless of agency, we expect to see you here in coming years. Take care of that sweet wife and your little girl. Best wishes for your new career.

CalFire may not know it, but in addition to getting a prime firefighter, they're getting an excellent Hispanic firefighter recruiter, if you ever choose to play that role for them. What a loss for the Forest Service. Ab.

4/19 Hi All. I need a photo.

Does anyone have an informal teaching or training photo with an instructor in front
of blackboard or flip chart (no high tech/powerpoint) and students sitting at tables
or in desks. Casual clothes, generic, no nomex. Fire folks. Anywhere usa?

Could be outside with people working from picnic tables if the photo was the right

Thanks in advance.


4/19 It's still hard to know from reading that letter who to trust.
Guess I'll trust Tina Hunt. We know whose side she's on.

AUSA must mean Assistant US Attorney, another acronym


4/19 Abs, here is a LETTER (5 page, 194K pdf file) from the Office of General Counsel to
the Forest Supervisor of the Okanogan-Wenatchee NFs regarding witness interviews
and testimony for the trial of Ellreese Daniels, IC on the 30 mile fire.

Rod Altig
Gorge FMO

Important information. No pretrial agreement! Ab.

4/19 Crew Cohesion,

The 2007 Fireline Safety Refresher DVD from NIFC/BLM has a chapter on Crew Cohesion -
Team Building Phase. The Facilitator and Student workbooks can be downloaded for free at www.fire.blm.gov/training/blmtrng/refresher.phpl. The Site will also tell you how to order the
DVD for about $16.

4/19 Ab preface: I am very sorry to report that Kip H, a socal federal wildland firefighter and a member of this community was found dead in his home several days ago. We have refrained from posting information, mostly because no one knows the circumstances of his death. An investigation is ongoing. As more is known, we will post it here. Our heartfelt condolences to Kip's friends and co-workers and to his Aunt Shirley. Kip's death has hit our fire community hard. Here's a note that came in from BatGrl12. Hang in there, dear. Ab.

For those of you who knew knew Kip, I apologize for not being able to contact each of you personally. The circumstances of his death are unknown at this time. I will keep you posted on the happenings through Ab, FS e-mail and if I could I would do it through his most favorite FS site.....AGLEARN just to hear him say the "F" word twelve times in a four worded sentence.

I am in contact with Miss Shirley; she is doing as well as expected and is with friends and her church family.. I will be taking Kip home sometime in the next few weeks, if anyone is interested in taking a trip to Jersey to see Aunt Shirley you are more than welcome to come along. I know that Miss Shirley would love to hear from his friends. You may send cards, letters, flowers etc to:
Miss Shirley Hale
15 Sheateau Thierry
Apt 213
Madison, New Jersey 07940

Donations can be made to the WFF, your local VFW or American Legion.

Thanks for the many phone calls. For those who have not heard back from me yet or I told you I'll call you right back and I hung up, I will.

BatGrl12 - I'm still going to bet against the Vikings just to piss him off.

4/19 Howdy all –

Found this interesting – may be relevant for changes within the federal wild land system? Don't know enough about law and precedent, but may be worth following...

- always on

"Lawsuit seeks Sunday pay differential for part-timers" :
By Brittany R. Ballenstedt


"A lawsuit filed Wednesday by the labor union that represents employees at the National Weather Service could determine whether all part-time federal employees are entitled to a 25 percent bonus for working on Sunday. The lawsuit, brought by the National Weather Service Employees Organization, seeks to clarify that four part-time weather forecasters who work on Sunday are entitled to the same 25 percent differential that full-time federal employees receive for Sunday work. …The forecasters are seeking lost premium pay for the Sundays they have worked since going to a part-time schedule. …Congress approved legislation in 1966 that entitles federal employees on the General Schedule pay system to a 25 percent differential when they are scheduled to work on Sunday. But the law does not make a distinction on eligibility between full-time and part-time employees, Hirn said. … The lawsuit contends that OPM is discriminating against part-time workers by denying them the same premiums granted by law to all federal employees. "I'm optimistic that OPM is going to reconsider their regulations," Hirn said…."

4/19 Thanks Casey!
Glad you're on board.

Re Brian Zollner:
A webpage in memory of Chief Brian Zollner: www.cdffirefighters-riverside.org/
Not only is his death a loss to CalFire, it's a loss to our entire wildland firefighting
community. There's a condolences section if you'd like to share a remembrance
or message with his family and coworkers.


4/18 I thought I'd write up some reflections on last fire season and the impacts I observed that the many fatalities and burnovers had on fire crews and management teams not directly involved in the incidents. Between cell phones and the internet news of fatalities and burnovers spread through the fire community very rapidly, so that folks became aware of events thousands of miles away almost instantly. What I observed was that crews and teams lost focus on the task at hand and that a cloak of fatigue was laid upon the camps. This is a natural human reaction to such sad news but it also creates a watchout situation as folks might not be fully engaged in their work. My thought is that when news like this arrives we need to take extra care to make sure we are maintaining our level of awareness and also to take emotional fatigue into account when planning our work.

On fires that experience fatalities or other serious incidents I think folks should consider that their fire is in command transition, a known watchout situation. In order to deal with the incident-within--an-incident the IMT will probably reorganize itself, pulling folks away from fire fighting duties. Div Sups, Safety Officers, Ops Chiefs, Medical folks, and other may be given new assignments breaking continuity on the main fire. Folks should take care to be clear about instructions and intent, make sure that their supervisors stay aware of changing conditions, and adjust plans to reflect fewer resources available.

Sign me - Hoping this won't be an issue this year.
4/18 Dear Mellie:

In response to your question about a time line with the FWFSA, CPF & IAFF, here goes:

The FWFSA was established in 1991. The Association was affiliated with the IAFF for legislative assistance only as the collective bargaining representative for federal wildland firefighters was, and continues to be NFFE, The National Federation of Federal Employees pursuant to the requirements under Title 5 of the United State Code. The affiliation with the IAFF allowed the FWFSA to also be affiliated with its California state affiliate, the CPF. The FWFSA was identified as IAFF local F-262.

For a number of years, issues that the FWFSA wanted the IAFF to pursue legislatively were offered to attendees at the IAFF biennial conventions as resolutions. Time and again these resolutions, calling for the IAFF to take a particular action on the behalf of their federal wildland firefighters, were passed by the convention delegates.

Despite the passage of such resolutions, little, if any attention was given to federal wildland firefighter issues as the majority of federal members of the IAFF were employed by the Department of Defense and the IAFF was also the collective bargaining unit representative for them. The size of the federal membership of the IAFF, as compared to the municipal membership, has been referred to as a "pimple on the rear end of the IAFF."

In the mid to late 90's, I was personally involved in working with the IAFF to push for federal firefighter pay fairness. Among the provisions of legislation that were introduced in this regards was portal to portal pay and other wildland firefighter issues. Although the FWFSA was actively involved in working to advance the legislation and was just as much a part of the IAFF as DoD firefighters, the IAFF unilaterally and arbitrarily "carved out" the wildland firefighter provisions in an effort to give the legislation a better chance to pass, according to the IAFF.

This set the stage for disaffiliation. In 2003 I was asked by a number of federal locals of the IAFF across the country, inclusive of the FWFSA, to run for the vacant position of 16th Dist. VP for the IAFF. This particular VP represents all federal firefighters in the IAFF on the IAFF Executive Board.

With a nationwide election, including Canada, an election that I should have lost by a large margin, I ended up in a loss of just 21 votes. It was during that same time in DC that the newly elected 16th district VP told the leadership of the FWFSA that they would "have to wait another 5 years or so" before the IAFF would actively pursue federal wildland firefighter issues.

That was the proverbial "last straw." In the summer of 2003, the FWFSA Board voted to disaffiliate from the IAFF. The FWFSA would have preferred to stay affiliated with the CPF as I was still on the CPF Executive Board then. However, the rules precluded that because of the disaffiliation from the IAFF.

After the disaffiliation, the FWFSA approached me and asked me to be their business manager, considering we had already established a number of personal & professional relationships on Capitol Hill. I didn't hesitate and subsequently resigned my position as CPF 5th district VP.

The effect of the FWFSA disaffiliation and our going our own way did not sit well with the IAFF or CPF. Some suggested that I "stole" the FWFSA away. Incredibly, even 3 1/2 years after the disaffiliation, Board members of the CPF criticized me for "not being a true unionist" because the members of the FWFSA I represented included supervisors and managers. That ignorance led me to have to explain to them the difference between a union and an employee association.

With all due respect to the CPF & IAFF, the FWFSA has made far greater progress and developed far more credibility on Capitol Hill than we did while we were affiliated with the IAFF. We are not burdened by internal union politics or the inherent partisan politics of labor unions.

I do want to add that we are honored and humbled by the incredible support for our position on AB 384 from many CAL-FIRE and municipal firefighters affiliated with the CPF.

The flexibility I am now allowed in dealing with whom I need to deal with in DC, without worrying about pissing off the leadership of the IAFF or CPF, is exhilarating. And, in hind site, I am in a far better place than I would have been had I been elected to the IAFF Executive Board. I am honored to work on behalf of entry level firefighters as well as chief officers.

Many of us in the FWFSA leadership miss the relationships of so many still associated with the IAFF & CPF but I dare say we don't miss the internal union politics. Unfortunately, it appears those same internal union politics, along with the ire of our leaving those two organizations nearly 4 years ago, perhaps led to the recent issue with AB 384.

The FWFSA is tiny compared to the IAFF & CPF, but whether it was keeping the IAFF from grandstanding at the Esperanza memorial or standing up to the CPF on AB 384, hopefully they now know that our loyalty and affection for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters and especially those of our members is second to none.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/18 Hey Terrie,

Good to hear from you. Point well taken, simply just an opinion of mine. My undergraduate was in earth sciences/meteorology. ;o)

I took the CPS training in So Cal back (I think) in 2000.

I have taught 290 for the past 10 years and 390 for the past 5 and have always Incorporated situational awareness, team concept training, and topography/wind alignment recognition within those program. Actually, I incorporate SA, TCT, and topography/wind alignment recognition with all of my trainings from S-130/190 and above dealing with operational/tactical deployment.

My assumption, is that wildland fire instructors are teaching these common components into their fire training, but based on your email, I have made a premature statement.

After spending time @ NIFC helping out with a re-write and developing a new training program, I would agree with you that the "newer" folks on the ground are lacking the ability to assess a situation and make a rational tactical decision. I see this not only through my travels working with various FED agencies, but also with local and state fire agency's.

Other that Doug's system, is there anything else out there you could suggest to us training folks to incorporate into local training programs.

Thanks for the input!

AZ Trailblazer
4/18 Hello All,

Does anybody have any good powerpoint or short presentation on crew cohesion.
Trying to get our crew cohesion day all dialed in.

Thanks for any help.


You've probably seen this, not a powerpoint but a starting point if no one has a ppt: Crew Cohesion, Wildland Fire Transition, and Fatalities (pdf file) Ab.

4/18 AZ Trailblazer

A question:

Can you honestly say you have ever had a course in the Wildland Fire Signature Method?

The two training courses you suggest were created to lead people into Fire Behavior Analysis. Fire Behavior Analysis using computer programs etc is good. We need FBANS. You may be one.

We also need courses that provide groundpounders with a way to size-up current fire conditions on the ground in a moment by moment unfolding fire situation. Those courses you mentioned do not fill that purpose. The Wildland Fire Signature Method combined with LCES does a much better job to provide groundpounders with risk appraisal and fire survival skills. In this day of Doctrine and loss of experienced fire managers, we need people to have the skills to keep themselves safe on the fireground. We need a tactical groundpounder course in combined LCES and Wildland Fire Signature Method.

Tahoe Terrie

4/18 Re: Drought Conditions and Wildland Firefighter Safety

Re: In memory of a friend lost today...... On Angels wings..... KH... I remember us all sitting there in the small room as we got our marching orders as new ANF employees on a 13/13 appointment some 20 years ago....


Much of the West is in in moderate to extreme drought conditions.... after a prolonged multi-year deficit in precip.

US Drought Monitor

Objective Long Term Drought Monitor

United States Seasonal Drought Outlook

Like JR said, "Please share this info with your crews". JR... right on!!... You hit the mark as I see it.

"Crews", please share this locally, and lead forward the info to the folks in the GACC, RO, and NICC predictive services.

Folks in the GACC, RO, and NICC, please lead forward and educate the OMB and the Congress.

The folks at OMB, the Congress, the Regional Offices, and the Washington Office levels of the land management agencies need to understand that you can't take away preparedness dollars and expect other areas in the West to make up the losses from other areas when the entire area is at risk due to climate change.... whether it is global warming, Pacific Decadel Oscillation (PDO), or Atlantic Multidecadel Oscillation (AMDO)..... the partisan crap doesn't matter....

My good friend yactak got me grounded last week in a great chat session on FireChat. In his own special way, he and other said they couldn't understand all off the acronyms I was using..... They also said I should head back to my roots.... I like to do both........ Whether it is Climate Change, PDO, or AMDO... it doesn't matter...... Crap has been changing..... The delivery of the wildland fire program hasn't been changing to meet the changing needs of the 21st Century program delivery.

As Mark Rey says and firmly believes, 'we can shift resources to the areas of need' and still be efficient in reducing wildland fire costs. Unfortunately, the new Chief is following his lead. "Crews" know better and understand the idea of leading up.

Mark Rey's ideas failed last fire season as the largest acreage ever burned and the largest expenditures were incurred based upon a seriously flawed idea based upon no data or field (or peer review), and I personally don't think it has any merit for this upcoming year based upon what we are seeing throughout the West.

In fact, the failed direction of Mark Rey actually increased the costs of wildland fire suppression last year (2006) because he once again supported reductions in preparedness and did not present the facts to Congress and OMB. That failed direction caused another year of losses to preparedness resources for FY 2007, and a potential loss of 13% MORE of the preparedness resources for FY 2008 as Mark Rey and Gail Kimbell supported the proposed FY 2008 budget.

There are a whole lot of leaders on the Hotshot and Smokejumper ==> Fire Manager pages that Ab has been preparing who I admire and hold in the greatest esteem..... I'd hate to see all of that talent and many of the names who I know and consider as friends and admire go to waste... all of that blood, sweat, and tears (and stories) go down the drain as we watch a wildland fire program circling the pipe and we see our roots fade away....

It is time for the leaders of the wildland fire program to "lead up" and break the barriers and support the troops!!! Time to call BS where it is due....

4/18 Lori:

Way to go girlfriend! Congratulations!

Heather's Mom


As a result of the passionate and effective efforts of Lori Greeno, I am once again pleased to report that California Assembly member Anthony Portantino, Author of AB 384, The California Fallen Federal Firefighter Survivor Assistance Act of 2007 will additionally amend the legislation to include the survivors of those California federal firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty while outside of California.

This amendment is of particular importance to the federal wildland firefighting community since so many of our firefighters travel across the country each year and find themselves risking their lives in unfamiliar territory.

It may take until next week for the text of the amendments to be actually added to the bill and we will provide a copy of the amended bill on our web site at www.fwfsa.org.

Again, our heartfelt gratitude to Lori for her advocacy for, and importance to the federal wildland firefighting community.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

4/17 Ab,

I just returned from a very exciting weekend spent with hot shots. For weeks now the Sawtooth IHC has been wanting us to come to their 40 year anniversary celebration, give a presentation and be a part of all the fun. It was a hoot hearing the stories that all those old fire dogs had to tell. I was honored to be there.

As I was planning for that adventure, the Loan Peak IHC called and wanted to know if we would come to their station and do a presentation for all their folks returning for the season. So I made a weekend out of it and found it to be a very effective way to recruit 52 club members.

As I was driving home I had a thought that if the foundation could make it to all the IHC first season meetings with all the seasonals returning, it would help familiarize those who didn't know who or what the Wildland Firefighter Foundation was about with us and what we do. And also a great way to get them on the Gold List of the 52 Club. We had about 25 shot crews on there last year (thank all of you) and I would love to beat that this year. So this is my way of telling you, we just need an invitation and we will be there, plus it would keep me out of the office, lol. I think we will be posting to they said every time we get a gold member to keep the challenge alive. Way to go guys!

Burk Minor

Wildland firefighter Foundation

4/17 Casey:

Congratulations on AB 384! Your hard work is appreciated by all survivors, past,
present and future (even though they don't know they are yet).

Thanks! and God Bless!

Heather's Mom

4/17 Ab,

PSA: Pacific Southwest Area (Forest Service Specific language)

CPS: Campbell Prediction System.

I'm not a fan of the CPS, but most local government folks like it. You get the same knowledge from S-390, in my opinion. I suggest you take the class (if you can afford it) and compare with the S-290/390 training.

AZ Trailblazer
4/17 To answer Aberdeen’s question about the acronym “PSA”, it indeed stands for Public Service Announcement but the National Weather Service uses it as Predictive Services Area used in forecasting weather for specific zones. I am certain there are other definitions out there depending upon the agency. I hope that helps a little.

4/17 I am heading to Sacramento tomorrow to speak with the PERS committee regarding AB384. My original intent was to go there to talk about 2 points in the bill that need to be changed, but thanks to Casey's hard work, one of them has already been taken care of. Great job my friend!! Now the only amendment that I will be asking them to make will be regarding LODD in state vs out of state. As you all know, you spend much of your time out of state fighting fire, and the way the bill is written now, your families would not benefit from this bill if you were to die out of state. I am hoping to get them to change it so that ALL California wildland firefighter's families will be eligible whether they die here at home or in another state.

Keep your fingers crossed that I can present a strong enough argument to get them to change this. Send some good vibes up my way.....


4/17 WHOOOO HOOOOOO Casey on the change in legislation! Good correcting an oversight.

On a slightly different note. Could you please fill us in sometime on the history behind FWFSA and CPF/IAFF/etc? I know there's some there. I don't mean any bashing, just facts and timeline please? Relationships with organizations can change. The "proof is always in the pudding" so to speak.


4/17 Casey;

If you had been around with FWFSA back in the early '80's, I probably would have retired behind a brass badge, instead of a nickel maltese cross... excellent job. Congratulations!

FS seasonals, if you have any doubts regarding your legislative group being behind you, this should help allay those fears. THIS IS HUGE!

jimhart, FireGeek;

Nicely spoken, fellers. Once in a while, its good to be reminded of why we're here, and do what we do...

4/17 Need clarification on some acronyms:

In my world, a "PSA" is a "Public Service Announcement", like "the Little League is having a fund-raising chili feed at the Grizzly Bear school on Saturday." What is a PSA about precip amounts in northern California? The local TV station asks that "you send PSA's in 2 weeks in advance."

Don't have a clue what a "CPS" training is?? Should I plan to attend? Why?

Now I know why standard terminology under ICS is important!

4/17 I was glad to see the good news regarding AB 384. With all the good work being done by FWFSA Seems counter productive for FWFSA to continue with the subtle slams against CPF. No sense getting in to a pissing match. Seems like there is more support for Federal Wildand Fire Firefighters in R5 from CPF members than they get from fellow
Federal Firefighters in other regions.


Supporter of Federal Wildland Firefighters
CPF / IAFF Member
4/16 Ab,


I am pleased to report that after extensive communications between the FWFSA and key members of the California State Assembly over the last several weeks, the author (assemblyman Anthony Portantino) of AB 384, The California Fallen Federal Firefighter Survivor Act will amend the bill on Wednesday during a committee hearing to include the families of temporary/seasonal federal firefighters to the list of those whose surviving family members will be eligible for a variety of benefits, specifically higher-education benefits under existing law.

The inclusion of temporary firefighters, especially given the fact that the bill's language, as introduced, excluded these firefighters' families from such benefits is a no-brainer since the bill and press releases from its primary sponsor, The California Professional Firefighters, specifically used the loss of Esperanza firefighters (3 of whom were temporary) as a reason for the need to expand existing law to "permanent career federal civilian firefighters". As you may recall in recent postings, it was the California Professional Firefighters which suggested that the inclusion of temporary federal firefighters would be a "budget buster" for the State of California.

The FWFSA was able to demonstrate to the Assembly that this simply was not the case. For further information, please contact the FWFSA at 208-775-4577 or through our web site at www.fwfsa.org.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Nice. Ab.

4/16 Info regarding the Memorial Service for CAL FIRE Chief Bryan Zollner is now posted on the CAL FIRE Webpage at www.fire.ca.gov Please give this wide distribution and thank you in advance for your support.


Chief Bryan Zollner Memorial & Procession Information

Procession Formation Information:

Date: Thursday April 19, 2007 by 7:30 a.m. for a Procession route briefing.

Fire Apparatus with uniformed personnel planning to participate in the Memorial Procession are requested to arrive for staging at the Shasta District Fair 1890 Briggs Street Anderson CA 96007. Click Here for a Map

Upon the procession’s arrival at the Memorial location, the Fire Apparatus will be parked in a static display. At approximately 10:45 a.m. vehicle operators will stand by their vehicles at the position of attention, with their emergency lights activated, while the Family Procession passes by. All other uniformed personnel will be directed to form a "Sea of Blue" human corridor through which the family will walk into the Memorial area.

Chief Officers in department vehicles are requested to arrive at the Big League Dreams Sports Park, 20155 Viking Way Redding CA 96003 by 9 a.m. Click Here for a Map

Chief Officer vehicles will be parked in a static display and Chief’s will stand by their vehicles, at the position of attention as the Family Procession passes by at approximately 10:45 a.m.

Emergency Vehicles and Chief Officers are requested to RSVP at the below link.


To R.S.V.P. to the memorial please follow the following link and fill out the R.S.V.P. form. www.fire.ca.gov/fire_er_fatalities_zollner_email.php

Further information regarding the route and the memorial will be given out at the procession briefing the day of the event.

Public Participation:

The general public is requested to arrive at the Big League Dreams Sports Park by 10 a.m.


Donations to the "Bryan K. Zollner Scholarship for Future Firefighters" fund can be accepted at any Washington Mutual Bank branch.

In lieu of flowers, the family request that contributions be made in Bryan’s name to Shriner’s Hospital for Children Northern California, 2425 Stockton Blvd. Sacramento Ca. 95817-2215, Telephone (916) 453-2000.

Cards and letters for the Zollner Family may be sent to 6105 Airport Rd. Redding Ca. 96002 Attn: Matt Streck.

Friends wishing to send electronic versions of photographs of Chief Zollner are requested to send them to memorialinfo@fire.ca.gov and we will make a valiant attempt to include them in the Memorial.

4/16 Sent in by R5BC

From NOPS today

Precipitation Totals for 2006-2007 Wet Season
(Jul 2006-March 2007)

North Coast PSA
Eureka: Jul 2006 thru March 2007 = 34.18 Normal = 33.79 Percent
Normal = 99%

Mid Coast/Mendocino PSA
Ukiah: Jul 2006 thru March 2007 = 29.74 Normal = 45.36 Percent
of Normal = 66%

Bay Area PSA
San Francisco: Jul 2006 thru March 2007 =10.58 Normal =18.37 Percent
Normal =58%

Northwestern Mtns PSA
Orleans: Jul 2006 thru March 2007 = 34.85 Normal = 47.12 Percent
Normal = 74%

Sac Valley/Foothills PSA
Shasta Dam: Jul 2006 thru March 2007 = 33.60 Normal = 55.41 Percent
Normal = 61%

Northeastern CA PSA
Alturas: Jul 2006 thru March 2007 = 4.40 Normal = 9.21 Percent
Normal = 48%

Northern Sierra PSA
Blue Canyon: Jul 2006 thru March 2007 = 39.93 Normal = 60.37 Percent
Normal =66%

Eastside PSA
Susanville: Jul 2006 thru March 2007 = 2.25 Normal = 12.24 Percent
Normal = 18%

4/16 LA County Firefighters are planning to put on CPS training.
Check out the URL:

The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District is training also.

4/16 Bravo, jimhart and FireGeek.

Nerd on the Fireline

4/16 AB

Has anyone started the process for claiming back pay for hazardous duties incurred from low level flights? There was a letter from the USFS that came out in February stating employees that were authorized to perform work before December 16, 2006 may be entitled to back pay. I have contacted the USFS regional Human Resource office, but haven't made much headway. Since I no longer work for the Forest Service, but for a different federal agency that doesn't haggle over every little thing, the information on this back pay is slow coming. Any help out there would be appreciated.

Region 7 Pay Back

4/16 A Heads up for South Zone.

Subject: April Fuel Samples!

Here's the latest from Palomar District in the message below. Look at
these closely. Notice how low the live fuel moisture readings are showing.

Fuel Moisture Graph

Compare this April to last April on the bar graph. Compare this April to
last September, their about the same. Remember Critical Fuel Moisture
Level is 60%. We are well below that and it's the beginning of the drying
season! Right now the annual grasses are green but slowly curing. Today I
heard CDF respond to a grass fire in Flinn Springs area so the grass is drying
out in the lower elevations. In a "normal" year, we would get grass fires
in May & early June that would burn the grass but not the brush because
the live fuel moistures were too high. This year the brush is already cured.

As soon as the grass cures, I expect to see these fires get up & move
rapidly through the brush. Make sure all of your folks are well trained for this
coming fire season that is just about upon us. Please share this info
with your crews ..................................


4/15 Can someone give a summary of the R5 Team Conference held in Reno a week
ago? Was unable to make but understand that it was an interesting place to
be a fly on the wall and perhaps a harbinger of things to come this season.



I'd also like to hear about the R4 Team Conference held in Reno at the same time, especially the Lessons Learned presentations. I heard it was a good conference. Ab.

4/15 Old C-Rat,

My Apologies if you took my last email out of context. Maybe I should work on my internet writing skills. I meant the line “You just can't go changing things without going through the proper channels” to go with putting the fire patches on their uniforms. I still believe that proper channels should have been followed as Law Enforcement did in both the Interior and in Agriculture. As for fewer people and older equipment, I might have been off base. I do feel some in Fire Management buy things outside justification reasons which give Fire Management a bad name.

You replied to my posting with “I hope you're not in a position to supervise fireline operations with your backwards attitude”. I do take offence with you bashing me on my supervisory skills. With all do respect you have no right to, in one internet posting, write what you wrote. Sometimes that bulling attitude is what keeps others from posting on this website.

I have spent hours researching and writing unit operational guides, SOP’s and finding policy so when I go to bat for my crew I have the well thought out plan that management can look at and understand. I have brought out higher ups on low complexity RX burns to observe my crew in action and give them insight into what we do. I’ve invited them to refreshers to listen to my crew sell others on getting into a fire shelter that might save your life. We have even started a monthly Fire Management news letter that is emailed to all users on current events, new clippings and photos of what myself and my crew get up every morning and do for little pay and little recognition. I feel it is working and my crew feels good when someone outside fire management comes out and hauls brush on fuels projects (may it only be one stick). Every little thing, no matter how stupid it sounds, I do to promote wildland fire to my supervisors. Believe me I have never done just enough to collect a pay check. Training and safety are number one and two in my book and any one that has worked with me or others under me would say the same. I have seen the results of when lack of training and unsafe attitudes have steered the course. I would be more than willing to talk to you off line and maybe you could offer me more wisdom with planting the seed.

Satisfied govt worker.

Funny how when even one post comes across so wrong, others reply as they perceive you to be, not as you know yourself. OA pointed out early on this forum that one "aw sh*t" from a new moniker takes about 20 "atta boys" or clarifications to correct. Glad you're willing to clarify and enter the dialog. Safety and training are what it's about. For many interface areas - not only in California - where there is great political pressure to fight the going and blowing fire, safety is about retaining experienced fire managers that have cool risk-assessing heads who can protect our youngsters while they get the training and experience to better protect themselves. Ab.

4/14 We REALLY do have the best job in the Government


Let me just add one last thing that happened to me during the conference earlier this week. A couple of nights ago I was relaxing by the pool when a high ranking DHS official sat down and we had a great discussion about job satisfaction. After I told her what I did in my former life she stated how much she admired people who work in the National Parks, Forests and BLM Field Offices. She went on to say that she felt that her job was meaningless in Washington D.C. even though the salary was good. When I tried to encourage her by stating that the policies she writes are very important and affects everyone throughout the whole country, she replied that she could be gone tomorrow with a change in administration and nobody would even notice. She asked me point blank if I remember who was the national director of my agency when I was on the Redding Hotshot Crew. I had to admit that I couldn't but I could name all other 19 incredible individuals I spent the 1989 fire season with traveling through 7 western states. I guess that was her point. The money isn't everything... it's what we do that counts.

Fire Geek

4/14 Chief Zollner Memorial Announcement:


As the PIO for this event I'd be very grateful if you'd give this
wide distribution.

Matt Streck
CAL FIRE, Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit

Matt, thanks for the info. Please let us know details when they're available. Ab.


Sent: Sat Apr 14 16:50:05 2007
Subject: Chief Zollner Memorial Announcement

Chief Bryan Zollner Memorial Announcement

REDDING – Services for Bryan Zollner, Staff Chief of Operations for CAL FIRE’s Northern Region will be held Thursday, April 19th 2007 at 11:00 a.m. The memorial will be held at Big League Dreams, a sports park in Redding, California. The park is located at 20155 Viking Way (cross street of Old Oregon Trail) in Redding, California. (Please do not contact the park).

Details regarding a procession of emergency vehicles to the event will be released Monday, April 16, 2007 at approximately 1:00 p.m. A web page with R.S.V.P, contact and routing information will become available at that time also.

4/14 In response to Casey,

Thanks for the clarification. I posted on theysaid because I knew that other people (R5-BCMx3) were in my same shoes, I thought that info on alternatives membership due payment methods would help everyone out. From casual browsing of the FWFSA website I did not get the idea that the payment options for me were so flexible.

My intentions we never to "plaster" the fee structure on theysaid or question the value of the FWFSA, I just thought everyone would benefit from having a discussion about it. I know it helped me.

I will join now as soon as I can get a check in the mail and direct anymore questions straight to the FWFSA.

4/14 Dear R5 BCMx3

No offense taken. It should be no shock to our firefighters that I'm sure there are some in the Agency and elsewhere that would like to see the FWFSA fall flat on its face and there is Association information/data that I'd prefer to see left on our web site, available to our members or discussed more personally.

However, it was probably a good idea to spell things out. Nothing to hide. Heck, there are folks in my line of work that make 10 times what I make. I remember as a Board member of the California Professional Firefighters seeing the Board approve their lobbyists' annual salary of $250,000! With Congress I deal with ten times more politicians and get paid ten times less...go figure.

But I wouldn't trade what I do and who I do it for, for anything else (ok ok, my fantasy employment is a very successful tour golfer or homicide detective).

Anyway, no offense taken. Feel free to contact me any time.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/14 Ab,

I suspect that jimheart's latest masterpiece will get a lot of response from some of the old firedogs. It was a great summation of what it's all about that most of us who've done it for awhile can relate to. Let's face it, we chose this profession NOT to make a lot of money as our primary motivation. We do it to make a difference. Sure, the thrill of responding to a 40,000 acre major rager armed with a shovel is part of it too; along with saving damsels in distress and making our Parks, Forests, Public Lands safe for democracy and "preserving them for the enjoyment of future generations". What a noble cause that is, huh? I believe everything described by jimheart including his experience with the "evil princess of doom". The joke about my evil princess is that she didn't ride a broom but rather a Hoover vacuum cleaner! But enough of that; this forum is not about the "who" but the "what". I sense that most of the recent frustration lies not from a lack of idealism, but the cold reality that it's not as viable to make a living doing it anymore coupled with the liability issues and the perception that our national leadership isn't doing anything to make it better.

After 30 years of Federal service I was asked by the State Director of Fire and Aviation when I announced my retirement if I would do it again. Without hesitation I replied that I would. But I started my career in the early 70's and as easy as it is for every generation to look back to "the good old days", things really were more conducive to providing for your family, sending your kids off to college while getting paid to stomp out fires for the fun of it. I gave a presentation earlier this week at a national Homeland Security conference and was introduced as a retired firefighter. I could instantly see the reaction of the bureaucrats in the room thinking to themselves, "What's this firefighter going to show us that can be used to fight terrorism, a foam nozzle"? Just like the response jimheart received wearing a USFS uniform in a room full of CDFers. I told them that I had the best job in the Government... The U.S. Department of the Interior actually paid me to start fires legally under certain conditions. They all warmed up to me after that and I taught them how real-time fire mapping technology can be used in their jobs.

I know that the prestige, the honor, knowing we have the best job in the U.S. Government etc. isn't going to pay the bills but the only advice I can share with you is to just hang in there and do your best. Why? Because it's the right thing to do. Things WILL get better after this war is over just like they did when we pulled out of Viet Nam. One day when you retire you'll be proud that you didn't quit or transfer when so much is at stake and you're needed the most.

Fire Geek
4/14 Jimhart and Firescribe

Thanks, That’s what I was looking for.

I will remember.


4/14 to casey:

I didnt mean anything bad by that, if I offended you I am sorry. I will contact you in other ways, like through the website. I still want to join, and thanks for the information, I will probably join now, now that I know that I can pay monthly, or by the pay period.


R5-BCMx3, don't worry about it. We're glad you wrote in. Please do so again. Discussing $$ didn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary to me, probably because it seems to me that FWFSA dues are the best value going out here in this chaotic fed fire world. Thanks to Casey and all at FWFSA for giving firefighters a chance to bring about change. Another way to collectively demonstrate "The Power of One". Ab.

4/14 From Firescribe:

The Desert Sun "Photo Gallery"

Inches from the flames: Opening hours of Esperanza Fire
Go to photo # 8

JE, As I recall, the description when it was first posted in The Desert Sun said it was taken at 0730 or 0745 on October 2. Another poster here may have more info.


4/14 Chief Bryan Zollner

I worked with Bryan here in RRU. He was at Bautista Camp I was at Oak Glen. He always called me Homebrew. Bryan was the type of person who would always go the extra mile to get the job done. I always wanted to do my best and then some when Bryan was my Strike Team Leader, Div Sup, Ops or IC. That’s the respect we had for him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. We lost one of the best CAL FIRE had to offer. He will surely be missed.

FC Sam Sanchez RRU

4/14 Dear R5-BCMx3 & oohello again:

I wasn't thrilled to see our dues structure plastered all over TheySaid as anyone can contact me through our web site to ask such questions but here is the scoop:

The vast majority of our dues paying members, temporary or permanent, pay through payroll deduction either through the Dashboard on-line system if they are Forest Service employees or EmployeeExpress if they are employed by BLM, BIA, Fish & Wildlife or NPS. The allotment per pay period is $10.00.

No one is obligated to pay $260.00 up front although some choose that option through our web site to pay the entire annual dues from a credit card and not deal with the payroll deduction process.

Others who wish to pay the annual dues in its entirety do so by check. Of course we aren't going to toss away money if someone wants to pay monthly by check but it can become a headache, especially during the season. With payroll deduction its automatic.

Again, I want to reiterate that those who go into non-pay status, whether they be temporary firefighters who have been laid off, or someone who is injured and goes on OWCP etc., are not obligated to pay their dues while in the non-pay status to maintain their membership.

If a temporary firefighter who is a member of the FWFSA goes into a layoff status, the payroll deduction obviously stops. When they are picked up again the next season, the payroll deduction usually starts up again automatically. What we ask of our folks who go into a non-pay status for any reason is to simply have the courtesy of letting us know when that will happen and again contact up when they believe they will be picked up again. It is a simple step to help the budgeting process.

All that being said, let's be clear that while some members are in a non-pay status, the other members, inclusive of permanent-career firefighters, permanent 18/8's etc., and other members like families etc., carry the financial load of the Association. Therefore we encourage those in a non-pay status who can afford to do so to continue to pay their dues manually, but again, they are not obligated to do so. Remember, we are working for all of our members all year long.

This is an incredibly expensive business to be in (dealing with Congress) and because we don't have millions to throw around to members of congress, we have to do it the old-fashioned way... work harder and longer and smarter. Although I am biased, I think we do a remarkable job of competing for Congress' support and action on our issues with the limited financial resources we do have. Remember, we are a non-profit organization. No one here is flying to Tahiti each month!

I also want to let you know that we have signed on a number of temporary firefighters and folks in the GS-4 range who have not balked at the dues structure, in fact many are paying annually up front. So, I guess as in anything else, you have to individually decide if exercising your voice and lending it to the FWFSA in an effort to create the career you want & deserve is worth $0.71 per day.

If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me directly through our web site at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.

Remember, either method of applying and paying dues can be accomplished through our web site at www.fwfsa.org. For obvious security reasons, if someone submits an application and wants to pay via allotment, we do not provide the financial institution's information on our web site. Your application will be received by me personally and it will prompt me to send a reply with our bank information necessary for the allotment and I almost always try and contact the new applicant by phone personally.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/14 Hello,

I spent five seasons working for as a firefighter for the FS. Last
year, I decided after much deliberation, would be my last season. I
have decided to pursue a career in journalism and am writing an
article about how fire policy affects firefighters on the ground. I
wanted to ask you if this is a topic you might be willing to answer
questions on and if you could help me find some documents. I'm
looking for a history of the Forest Service's total budget and
documentation specifically on the AMR. Is that description confined the
the FMP? Any help you could give would be much appreciated and please
let me know if you are comfortable answering questions.

Thank you,
Kyle Dickman

Readers, any help here? Ab.

4/14 Ab,

Attached is a NASA photo (545 K) of the Esperanza. I don’t know if this is the
one JE wanted, but it does show the plume.

4/14 Mollysboy,

It was interesting to hear your perception about some of the posts recently as a "R5/California versus the rest of the US Wildfire Community" discussion.

Many of us view this as a discussion of on-going and new problems that R-5 is facing or has faced in the past, and that other areas in the nation is also facing or will have to face these same problems in the future and be prepared. When you are on the other end of the stick, you could possibly perceive many of the posts as a "... rest of the US Wildfire Community versus R5/California " discussion.

Like you, I have worked in several regions, and I have fought fire in every region. I don't view any of the posts as an "us vs. them" or a "them vs. us" discussion in any way.... I do view that there is frustration throughout the wildland fire program that is being dismantled piece by piece.

How many of our "kids" can afford to buy a house for their families in Boise, Missoula, Flagstaff, or Albuquerque?... or in Mio (MI), or Fort Lauderdale, or Asheville, or Carson City.... or countless other areas?

At what levels in each state do wildland firefighters and their families qualify for food stamps?....


Lobotomy, This Ab occasionally gets really really REALLY tired of the negativity and bickering. When posters step off into attacking personalities, it makes me wonder why I moderate this board. As did Mollysboy and others, I saw this current regions thread as heading into an us vs them non-productive discussion. It's easy to misinterpret words when there is no body language or facial gesture to accompany them. Thanks Mollysboy, Rockslide, Pulaski, jimhart and other oldtimers who were trying to bring in some positives. Highlighting the positives is also what I wanted to do with the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project, besides capturing a bit of cool history. By the way, I have updated that. THANKS to everyone who is participating. Interesting stuff.

Firefighters know that those who show up have an opportunity to bring order out of chaos. Sometimes showing up makes you realize it's time to move to another agency through which you can better "shine your light" or "share your KSAs". That is a proactive action in my book. We're ALL in this together. Carry on. Ab.

4/14 Former Rotorhead,

There was no evidence of rotor impact on the snag at the IDP.


4/13 I'm sorry to hear of the loss of Chief Bryan Zollner. What
a loss to his family, CAL-FIRE and the rest of the California
Fire Service.

Fred Burris
Ventura County
4/13 We just lost another brother to LAco. Arn spent over 15 years
with the FS and RAM didnt even want to give up the chrome
hook. That is just too bad. Good luck Arn with your new career

4/13 A while back you had a link I believe that shows the fire plume from
the Esperanza. The photo shows the smoke column with what appears
to be a break in the inversion. I believe it was a link from NASA. I
would like to find it again for training.


Anyone remember that? Ab.

4/13 As I recall, All ANF "Firefighters" paid out of their pockets, not FS $$$,
for those patches. I encourage that everyone who paid $$$ for them "tell"
her you need to be reimbursed or given the patches back.

ANF Captain.
4/13 Sometimes it takes a kid to put things into perspective.

It happened on the last day of my red card refresher course a week ago. I carpooled with a 20-year-old young man who has been dreaming about firefighting ever since he was a toddler and first played with a bunch of little red, toy fire trucks. We had just spent our final session together scraping dirt and breathing in smoke while moping up the last remnants of a prescribed burn. Nothing too exciting. Although we did experience flame lengths in excess of four inches, shelters were not deployed (a running joke all day). Just a bunch of folks out in the forest doing what they love. Although Joe and I are thirty years (plus) apart and couldn’t have been coming from more different places, we hit it off pretty well. I guess that kind of thing happens when you toss a bunch of people together who are asked to do push ups every morning, memorize 10’s and 18’s, and learn a new life. But this was wildland firefighting in the USFS and it ain’t like anything else. I suspect everyone here knows that.

Joe and I talked about a lot of things while we trained together, especially in the car up and back down the mountain on Friday:
  • What being a wildland firefighter really meant to us (helping people and protecting the land).
  • How important it was for our Crew to work as a team.
  • How proud we felt to be able to wear USFS gear (even though the packs were brand new).
  • How lucky we were to be trained by a remarkable Captain whose main concern was to create a professional Crew that he can bring back home ALIVE, every time.
  • Why the community bond within the fire family is so strong.
  • And yeah, how cool we felt when we filled up the gas tank with our Nomex still on. People noticed and knew we were USFS firefighters. One smiled and waved at us.
  • And yeah again, how good it felt to wave hello to another driver who had the same firefighter sticker on the back of his window like we did.

Although he’s eager to work with the Crew, Joe can’t wait to get assigned to an engine. He was a 17-year-old volunteer when the Cedar fire started in San Diego County and was on one of the first engines that responded that night. Since he was so young and a volunteer, all he could do was watch. But man, what a story to watch. He’s worked with the CDF, a municipal fire department, and the USFS, and has even flown a bunch of missions on tankers. Fire is in this kid’s blood. When I listened to him, all I could think about was how lucky I was to have the chance to be able to hear his enthusiasm, his dreams, and the love he has for the fire service. Imagine, going to work everyday with a firefighter uniform on, being ready to save some one’s life or home on a moment’s notice. That’s what he was really saying.

During one of our deep philosophical discussions, we figured there are two kinds of people in the world, those who go out and get a job to try and make lots of money, and those who go out to make a difference in the world. Money? Who cares, just as long as you can drive around in a fire truck and protect others. I think it’s a safe guess to say that most of us here are in the last group.

Being a gypsy myself, I’ve wandered from agency to agency and have heard all the jokes. You know, stuff like how it’s not a fire triangle, but a fire square. The forth line has your rival agency’s name on it. Take out that line and the fire goes out. Get it? I’ve been the butt end of those kinds of snickers like the time I wore my USFS shirt when giving a presentation about natural resources to a large room filled with navy-blue-uniformed CDF crews. I’ll never do that again. You could have heard a pin drop, even when I was using some of my best lines.

But you know, whenever I’m in a new town I usually end up finding my way to a local fire station and talking. No matter if the trucks are green, red, or yellow. It just happens. In fact, I had a great talk with a good friend the other day who has worked with fire for the BLM for a very long time. I think we disagreed about a couple things, but our common language put all that into the proper perspective. I took advantage of the wisdom another good friend in the CDF has accumulated over a storied career as we worked together on some fire planning issues this week. Remarkable stuff he taught me. Some of the best dinners and conversations I’ve had this past year have been in San Diego city fire stations. The mayor rejected their raise yesterday you know.

It’s perfectly reasonable to feel dumped on when you see so many things going the wrong way. This is especially true with all the liability, politics, and pay issues that have come up recently. Not depending on a career in the USFS to support my family, I can’t fully understand all the conflicts many have written about here. However, I did have the evil princess of doom dominate the last couple years of my previous career, so I do know what it is like to work under difficult conditions. I ended up quitting, but only after I ran the witch out of the profession. Not a bad trade, but I know one that is not usually available to most.

Anyway, I guess my point is that, well, sometimes it’s good to just close ranks and appreciate the strength of our community. There really isn’t anything like it.

For me, today was pretty lousy for a number of reasons. Doesn’t matter why. What did I do? I grabbed a beer and the cigar I had been saving for a while and went outside on my deck; did some thinking. Went back inside and grabbed the photo I have of the Crew I trained with last week and went back outside. Puffed a few and had a couple more sips. In the photo, Joe is standing to the right, skinny, with a yellow Nomex shirt hanging on his young frame, smilin’, and full of life.

He can’t wait to get assigned to an engine.

The beer and cigar were good. Remembering a young firefighter’s hopes and dreams made them even better, at least for this evening.

Please stay safe this year my friends. And listen to some of those kids.


4/13 As posted on CAL FIRE webmail.

Godspeed my friend.


Vehicle Accident Claims Life of Chief Bryan Zollner, Medal of Valor Recipient in 1998 for Saving Child

A single vehicle traffic accident on Thursday, April 12 claimed the life of Bryan Zollner, the North Region Staff Chief of Operations for CAL FIRE. Chief Zollner, 44, of Redding was killed Thursday morning when his vehicle left State Route 44 near Bogard Rest Area, 60 miles East of Redding in Lassen County. The California Highway Patrol responded and is conducting an investigation with a Major Accident Investigation Team from CAL FIRE.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the following statement regarding the death of Chief Zollner: "Each day California firefighters put their lives on the line assisting and protecting our citizens. Maria and I were saddened to hear of the passing of one of California's devoted fire chiefs. Chief Zollner gallantly served our state with courage and skill. We offer our thoughts and prayers to Bryan's family, friends and co-workers during this difficult time." In honor of Chief Zollner, flags at the Capitol and at all CAL FIRE facilities will be flown at half-staff.

Badge shrouds were authorized for all uniformed employees in memory of Chief Zollner by CAL FIRE Director Ruben Grijalva. “CAL FIRE lost one if its best and brightest leaders,” Grijalva said. “His passing will affect our organization for a long time to come.”

Chief Zollner was a committed, unselfish and knowledgeable member of the fire community who gave everything he had to make the world safe for others. Zollner donated his home for use as a model in fire prevention materials distributed in the department’s statewide campaign for defensible space. He was greatly respected among firefighters and all who were lucky enough to have known him.

Bryan came from a family with a legacy of firefighting. His father was a fire chief for the city of Oroville; his great grandfather was a firefighter in Detroit. Bryan started as a sleeper firefighter in the Butte Unit while attending Butte Community College. In 1981 he was hired as a seasonal firefighter by the Butte Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, then known as CDF. He worked a year for the Oroville Fire Department as a fire protection operator before returning to CDF as a limited term Firefighter II in the Fresno-Kings Unit. In 1985, he returned to the Butte Unit as a limited term Fire Apparatus Engineer with the Chico Battalion. For one year he worked for the Yuba City Fire Department.

Zollner returned to CDF in 1986 as a permanent Firefighter II in Santa Clara Unit, received a quick promotion to Fire Apparatus Engineer and went to work at the Ramona Air Attack Base in San Diego. He was promoted three years later to Fire Captain at Bautista Conservation Camp in the Riverside Unit of CDF. Zollner worked in the Riverside Unit in various locations and positions including Battalion Chief and Chief of the Norco Conservation Camp.

In 2001, Zollner accepted the position of Deputy Chief with the public education office for CDF in Sacramento. In 2002 he came to Northern Region as Deputy Chief for Conservation Camp coordination and North Ops Operations. In 2005 he was named Assistant Chief Operations in Tehama Glenn Unit. In 2006 he returned to Northern Region as Staff Chief for operations. Additionally he worked on numerous Incident Command Teams for CDF as an Operations Section Chief, as a Plans Section Chief and was an Incident Commander.

Chief Zollner received the Medal of Valor in 1998 for an off-duty rescue of a child from a burning structure in Riverside.

Bryan Zollner is survived by his wife, Pam; son, Ty; daughter, Alexia Moore; son-in-law, Charles Moore; two grandchildren; sister, Tracy Zollner; and parents Bob and Brenda Zollner.

Services are pending and information will be forthcoming from CAL FIRE.
4/13 The news of Chief Zollner's accident is a tragic loss to anyone who worked with, knew him or heard stories about him. I first met Bryan in RRU as a station captain. I remember his son running around the station in a duplicate uniform to look like his dad. He was tough, but always looked out for you and pressed you to be better informed, better prepared and to be a better firefighter.

Chief Zollner was one of three major influences on me in my time in the fire service. He allowed me opportunities that maybe others would not have. He was a firefighter's firefighter.

I often thought about emailing Bryan over the last several years as we lost touch. Today I am kicking myself for not doing so. Bryan, you are already and will be missed by all of those who you touched.

Jeff L

4/13 RE: Rockslide

Excerpt from MHS Blues. Pat gave me permission to use a snippet from the title song of his HOTSHOT album for a presentation several years ago, I know he wouldnt mind it being posted here.

In 1994 the Mendocino had a 20yr Hotshot reunion that fortunately Pat was able to attend. The funny thing was when Pat walked in, all the "older guys" who worked on the crew with Pat it was like, "Hey cool, Pats' here." and the younger guys who had no clue that he was a part of the crew were like "wholly cow, its Pat Ford the blues guy!

I just checked and you can still purchase the HOTSHOT album from their website: www.bluerockit.com/, go to the orders page and its number 121.

<< www.wildlandfire.com/progs/MHS-Blues-pat-ford.wav >> (1800 K wav file, requires winamp to open)


4/13 OWCP discussion

I was injured on an initial attack fire while working for the Gallatin
National Forest as a GS-4 temp employee. The claim is on-going. I would
be happy to provide the documentation I have accumulated regarding my
interaction with OWCP.



I'll pass your contact info on to Shari. Ab.

4/13 Subject: We are no longer authorized to use 163.100 or 168.350

These two frequencies have been reassigned to DOJ and Homeland Security.
So we have to vacate. All existing RFAs for these two frequencies have
been deleted as of today.

Please don't program either in any radio.

Fred Buhr, Frequency Manager - CA, HI, NV
USDA Forest Service, IRM


Please be advised the following frequencies 163.100 and 168.350; R5
Tactical and Government Shared frequencies will be removed from Forest
Radios. Seize Use of the above frequencies/Channels.

New replacement radios will have above frequencies removed from them.
All old radios will be gathered, and turned in to radio shop. Future
correspondence will take place on direction to turn-in all old radios, and
the issuance of new radios. Another side note, we are no-longer authorized
to use R5 Travel Net and Travel Net frequencies... Thanks for you

Patrick K(snip)
USDA Forest Service
Service Area
Electronics Technician

I think he meant cease. Ab.

4/13 Re Lobotomy's States Question:


Is it Rhode Island and Connecticut??


4/13 I havent been as attentive to the board as much the last few weeks, but I would
ditto Mollysboy comments whole heartedly. …but what I want to know is
where can I get a pair of nomex bib-overalls???

4/13 Firefighter Appreciation

Back in the 80’s there was a hotshot captain with the Mendocino Hotshots named Patrick Ford. Patrick left the Forest Service after that to pursue his real passion of being a Blues musician. Since then Patrick and his brothers Robin & Mark formed two bands, The Charles Ford Band and most recently The Ford Blues Band. Along the way Patrick wrote a song about the Mendocino Hotshots titled the Mendocino Hotshot Blues.

Patrick says this about firefighters “Until you have walked in the boots of a wildland firefighter, you have no idea how much they give of themselves physically and emotionally for very little pay or appreciation. In “Mendocino Hotshot Blues” I have tried to pass along a taste of what it’s like. I’ve seen the day turn to night as the smoke got so thick it blocked out the sun. I’ve seen the night turn to day as the flames lit up the sky like the sun had just come back up. I’ve seen fear on men’s faces as things got out of hand and they began to ponder the possibilities. There are all kinds of blues in this world. Some you are born into, some just happen, and others you create for yourself. Firefighters chose to do what they do and must accept the consequences. We should all be very thankful they have made that choice. This song is my way of saying thanks.”


4/13 Folks - the "R5/California versus the rest of the US Wildfire Community" dialogue seems to be on a steady downward path over the past few days. In the view of someone who has fought fire in all of the West, California, Alaska, and lots of the Southern and a few Eastern States, it seems self-destructing and counter-productive to the wildland fire community!
Things are different, no matter where you go: different isn't good or bad, it's just different. Some folks like big shiny fire trucks and bugles; others like wilderness WFU fires, and still others wear Nomex bib overalls and use tractor-plows amongst the gators! In my world, there still aren't bugles, captains, etc: just firefighters, AFMOs and FMOs, as well as Forest Fire Staff Officers and Fuels Specialists. Not good, not bad: just the way it is, and it works for us!

Everyone is free to change jobs and migrate to a place in the fire community that suits their "comfort zone": let's not kick each other over those choices just because they are different than our own. We will ALL end up in California, Oregon, Montana, Florida and maybe even some of the Eastern States (Remember Walsh Ditch in the mid-1970s??) on major fire events, and the Public we serve doesn't give a rats a** if we have green or red trucks, bugles or empty collars, get paid mini-bucks or mega-bucks, or live in a trailer park or a gated SoCal mansion: they only want the fire out, quickly and efficiently.

Bitching about your situation, or criticizing others for whatever reason, isn't going to make the fire community stronger OR make things batter in your world.

Enough fire philosophy for tonite: be safe in the days/weeks/months ahead, no matter where you are, or who you work for!


4/13 Dear R5BC,

Before you go Bashing the other regions too hard remember there are some
of us who are working hard to improve our fire management programs. It is
true we don't enjoy the support R-5 does but we are fighting like hell to
change that, and it is a very difficult assignment.

My firefighters are not a bunch of Cowboys riding around in contractor type
6 engines. My firefighters are professionally trained and very excellent at
what they do. I average 115 fires per year on a 1.2 million acre zone and
we burn another 3,000 to 4,000 acres per year in prescribed fire. I have 2
type 6 and 1 type 4 engine. In the five years I have been here my
professional forest service and BLM firefighters have not had a fire go
past a type 3, though every other district and agency around us has. I have
to rely on severity resources to help us out with suppression when we go to
extreme conditions, but I have to do what I must to get the job done. The
management team is cutting fire positions here in an already under-staffed
program. That is my battle and my challenge. My professional firefighters
lay progressive hoselays, mobile attack, cut line, fly in and fight fire
safely and aggressively. I'll put my professionally trained firefighters up
against any district in the nation. We have a huge amount of WUI and this
is an excellent program. When I was in region 3, I brought in the first
Model 62 ever to that region five years ago.

Listen up everyone, we have to knock off the fighting in the fire
management ranks. Every forest and region across the nation has it's own
unique challenges and problems. We have to work hard together to improve
our fire management programs and our working conditions for our
firefighters. I see the over-riding problem as a lack of agency support
for fire management programs and personnel. Fire management personnel MUST
band together and stand together.

Battle on Friends,
Old C-Rat
4/13 Ab, it’s late and I hope this makes sense.

R-9 Captain and others,

As you stated, based and budgets and resource allocation, R-5 does have more “stuff” per sq mile than any of other regions in the United States (and there are obvious reasons for it). While some of you squabble about what R-5 “has” or “does not have”, and the “constant "holier than though" attitude out there,” you are missing the point. If R-5 cannot field the correct number of qualified and competent firefighters required to protect federal lands, then those federal lands have a much greater potential to burn (on a somewhat stunning scale). If federal lands do burn on a large scale, because R-5 cannot field these crews, engines, aircraft and overhead, s--- will hit the fan. At that point the United States congress will solve the problem. “The U.S. Congress will make something work.” If that “something” includes contracting out federal lands to state and local government agencies, and don’t think for a minute that it couldn’t happen, the USFS will have completely lost control. Could congress provide another massive influx of dollars as they did seven years ago? They could, but it is doubtful that they would. However, “they will make something work.”

You can field all of the typical counter arguments; “they” (pick any fire agency you want) could never provide the same kind of protection that “we” provide; “their” training is not up to “our” standards; it will cost more when its completed; “they” (fellow firefighters) would never let “their” agency take over ours; they (any agency) can not cross state lines, etc. It does not matter what argument you want to make, when embarrassed, “the U.S. Congress will make something work.” If this region loses control of its federal lands, you can kiss the rest of the regions good bye. Your R-9 job will disappear in a heart beat.

With the exception of the U.S. Military, there is nothing that cannot be contracted out to another government agency or to a private contractor. If you have read some of my previous postings, you may recall that 25 years ago, during the Air Traffic Controllers strike, I was one of the military Air Traffic Controllers who were ordered to staff every single FAA Air Traffic Control Tower and Radar center. This occurred within a few days after the striking controllers failed to return to work. It is a lot harder to replace Air Traffic Controllers than it is to replace fire fighters. At that time, the military had a fraction of the total number of certified Air Traffic Controller’s in the country, but “the U.S. Congress made something work.” At the time of the Air Traffic Controller’s strike, the federal government had a very limited system to replace and train new Air Traffic Controllers. Why should they, the system only needed to replace the “normal” retirements and disabilities. But, within just two to three years, almost every Air Traffic Controller had been replaced. “The U.S. Congress made something work.”

In all regions, the total number of federal firefighters (forestry technicians) is a drop in the bucket to the total number of paid firefighters in California. We have 40 plus colleges with fire technology programs in California. There are probably 600 to 1000 students currently enrolled in California fire academies (my college has 77 in the two academies that are currently running, and I work for a small college). If R-5 loses control of its suppression capabilities, the “U.S. Congress will make something work.” Once they have made it work here, they will make it work everywhere. Every single federal wildland firefighter had better get on the same page, start fighting for the same common goals, support the FWFSA, and pay close attention to what’s going on in R-5, or “the U.S. Congress will make something work.” As R-5 goes, so goes the rest of the system. Don’t let one of the worlds finest wildland fire agencies become something we read about in history books!

Ab, as always, thanks for letting me rant.


4/13 There are no words to express the loss that has happened in CA today. Chief Bryan Zollner was one of the best there was. Rank and agency meant very little to him, he treated EVERYONE with the respect and had pride for all. He was part of every agency's "family". He is missed already. Glasses were raised in his honor tonight. May he rest in peace and be forever watching over us and take pride in knowing how much he taught us when he was with us. We will sorely miss him at NOPS. God Speed to green hillsides and smoke clear days. We will miss you Bryan.

R5 Dispatcher

Swagger and big smile, high standards: indeed, a great loss. Ab.

4/13 To Oohello:

I too agree with you. I just got hired on permanent (still a GS 4 though), and have been thinking about joining FWFSA. But 260 bucks straight out of the pocket is way too much for me. Dont get me wrong, I really want to join for the cause, but come on I have bills to pay, it would take me 2 months to get out of the hole with that extra bill on my "tab".
And Casey, can I pay in monthly installments or is it all due at once? And on top of that, a twelve pack and a half is not enough for just a month, Just kidding, in all seriousness though I really want to join but just cant afford it right now. Are there different ways, other then paying the 260$ all up front?



Can you make it a payment by credit card? Ab.

4/13 Ab

I worked in R-5 and understand what the issues for folks trying to survive on the FS pay. For
myself I had a wife, two kids and one income. As I saw it I had two options, have my wife go back
to work or move out of R-5. I chose to move, it wasn't any easy decision. I also understand that to
make the most out of the FS pay I must continue to Hotshot until retirement. We all make choices
and we have the power to make personal changes.


4/13 Subject: R5 HS Crew Staffing

I spoke with Art Torrez from South Ops today and he is in need of the
following information. Will you please respond back to both Art and
myself. He needs the information by the end of this week. I know we're
all busy, but this shouldn't take long.

1. List of crew names that are not certified in the region and the year
they were established.

2. List of crews that are going to meet the 1-2-2 organization by start of

3. List of crews that will only meet the 1-1-3 organization by start of

4. Number of vacancies by position that are hindering the crews from
meeting the 1-2-2 organization.


4/13 Having grown up in R-8, and having received my introduction to fire and the Forest Service in R-1, I find the recent bickering betwixt firefighters about meaningless statistics and Regional superiority disturbing. The facts are, R-5 is going through a painful transition, and though the bitching and moaning is tiresome at times, most of us are concerned about the agency and its future. The right action is for all of us to pull together instead of tearing at each others throats and work towards solutions that will make all of our jobs better. If R-5 goes to sh**t we will all feel the consequences... however, if we can work for meaningful change (whether it be better pay, new series classification or some other recognition of the problems with R-5 retention) then I think we all stand to benefit.


4/13 Ab,

I have a few questions for anyone wanting to contribute to the discussion. I hate to see folks pointing fingers at one Region or another.

Which state has the largest acreage of National Forest lands outside of Alaska?

Which state has the largest Forest Service budget for fire preparedness (WFPR)?

Which state has the largest wildland-urban interface problem adjacent to the National Forest lands?

Which state(s) and/or Region(s) have the largest average annual expenditures for fire suppression (WFSU)?

The first three ones are easy and a no-brainer to figure out. The last question is a zinger, while most folks would initially jump to the conclusion it was California, those folks would need to look elsewhere. The state(s) and Region(s) with the largest average WFSU expenditures are actually the states that have the lowest WFPR expenditures and preparedness.

While WFPR expenditures go down, WFSU costs go up... it is a no-brainer anyway folks look at it.

4/13 Dear happy govt worker,

You said, "You just can't go changing things without going through the
proper channels." Firefighters who are interested in improving working
conditions do what they must to get there, especially in an agency that has
turned its back on fire management. I've been working through the channels
for years to try and improve fire management programs. It is hard to do
when you have to deal with agency administrators who don't understand fire
management. You can bet the R-5 fire managers do work through the proper
channels. They do what they must.

I spent the first 13 years of my 33 year career in south zone R-5. They
have a solid firefighters like we all do. But they have one thing most of
the non-R-5 regions haven't got and that is a basic understanding by most
people in the region of fire management. They are beginning to suffer
setbacks in that area.

Don't tell the R-5 fire managers how we get along quite well with less
people, less money, and older equipment. You're playing right into the
hands of the agency administrators who don't give a tinkers damn about fire
management and don't support our programs. I have been fighting like hell
for years to get more money, more people, and newer and improved equipment
to better provide my firefighters with the basics of the job to get it done
more efficiently, effectively, and safely. We push our firefighters way too
hard on forests like mine with a heavy fire and prescribed fire workload.
Our 'Management Team" is cutting fire positions when they don't need to and
shouldn't. But our agency administrators don't know their rear end from a
hot rock about fire management programs. I have argued and used agency
policy to support my point, but they don't give a damn. They don't give a
damn about Safety either. It is all lip service!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Let's make sure we get all of our "Gag-Learn" done, but then we won't staff
the engines with firefighters or engineers. I'll continue to fight and work
through channels and outside of channels so my firefighters are supported with
a safe and supportive atmosphere within which to perform the fire management
job. So don't you dare tell them all how great it is with nothing, and nothing
because they don't support us!

As for the Angeles patches. It is a way to show pride and professionalism
and esprit de corps in your organization. Just like sports team wear
uniforms, and fire and police agencies, and numerous other organizations.
Send me some Angeles patches, I'll put em on my uniform. Fire stations,
districts, forests, hotshot crews, fire prevention organizations, helitack
crews, smoke jumpers all have crew t-shirts, sweat shirts and caps with
their logo or crew name. It is a way to take pride in their outfit. Someone
pointed out the other day about LE forest service uniforms with their own
patch on the right sleeve and a different badge. I think what the Angeles
did is great and all fire personnel should have a fire management patch on
their right sleeve.

You are not doing your job in fire management if you're happy with just
enough to make the job a little more dangerous. I hope you're not in a
position to supervise fireline operations with your backwards attitude.
Everyone who works in fire management should be doing everything they can
to improve their programs and to be at their best in the safety and
effectiveness of their firefighters. In today's forest service in my region,
if you're truly working to improve your fire management program and you're
not pissing people off, then you're not doing you're job.

Here's an old quote and don't I remember who it's from, "A man does what he
must, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures, and that is the
basis of all human morality."

Battle on Angeles,
Old C-Rat

4/13 R5 Recruitment and Retention Statistic,

First, I wish you the best on your planned move and your personal decision. Each decision to leave is personal and I fully understand what you are saying.

Unlike you, I don't plan to go to CAL FIRE unless things get really grim or they make an excellent offer that I can't refuse. I am looking at greener pastures like I did in the 1980's when the Forest Service in Region 5 had the Consent Decree and a similar mood and attitudes as we are facing now.

In the 1980's, I left the Forest Service to go to BLM. It was one of the hardest and best desisions of my career. After the FS Consent Decree ended, I returned to the Forest Service in R-5 and had an excellent additional ten years with the agency and mission that I love.

R9 Captain,

You said, "You chose the pay system you have when you chose the job and location you are in. If you don't like it, there are always jobs flying in the other regions. I know, I did. I spent 5 of my 10 years in R5, and I left."

I like the job I do in wildland fire and the challenges I face in my area. I am also connected with the communities I protect and am a member of. When I started, I got paid better than a CDF employee and got more overtime, but I got older and wiser. I was offered jobs with CDF in my first and second years of service, but couldn't make do with their salaries. Over the years, the job I loved took hit after hit and I saw the communities that I was protecting, and the jobs that I loved eroded to hiring anyone qualified who didn't bail out to CAL FIRE or augment BLM.

Rogue Rivers (former R-4 and R-8 employee)
4/13 To R5BC and NORCAL Capt:

1) What do you mean by '"responding with equipment like we have, we might as not ever get dispatched" I could say the same thing. Last winter in TX (year round fire season??) I was down with a small 450 dozer with fireplow. We were working side by side with 2 R5 dozers, one NPS and one USFS. I can't remember their exact size, but they were both in the D7/D8 range I believe. The first fire all 3 dozers were on, our little "toy" as the R5'ers kept calling it ran circles around the big guys. It all comes down to having the right equipment for the job. We don't use the big dozers and tall T3 engine like the 62's out there, because they just can't do the job in our fuel type. Sure the big dozers can put in an impressive amount of line in the steep country and the rocks and the 62's can carry 5 people, but try getting the dozers through a heavy hardwood stand without creating a 4 lane highway and getting 800+ (like our T4's) gallons of water down an overgrown, low hanging 2 track without losing your light bars R5 has the equipment that works out there and we have the equipment that works back here, and that's the way it should be.

2) The values at risk comment: What do you consider values at risk. If you are talking about true resource values like timber, endangered species, watershed, than every forest in every state has high values at risk. CA put out around 840 million cu.ft in 2002 while MS put out about 1.4 billion cu.ft. Who has a higher resource value there? If you are talking about property values at risk, than sure dollar to dollar, CA has higher values at risk. Now me personally, when I am in the WUI, I don't do cost analysis on someone house. A $1,000,000 house is just as valuable to me as a $60,000 house. They are still someone's home. Try to explain to the OIG that you spent more time and effort to save a $1,000,000 house over a small 20 home sub-division of $50-60,000 houses. If you really think about, who can better afford a catastrophic loss, someone who make 6 figures and owns a $1,000,000+ home or someone making $20,000/year that owns a$50,000 home. A house is a house is a house. No matter what the materialistic value of the structure, the true value is to the homeowner and their irreplaceable possessions and memories attached to their home.

3) "When you start to work 600-800+ hours of OT like most of us do in this region, you might realize we have a huge fire load like no other in the US." - Last summer, I accrued around 750 hours of OT. (out of my 5 years in R5, my best season was al little over 600 hours.) My first OT hours were clocked in early January and my last substantial amount of OT hours were clocked in early December, so we have the possibility of a year round season too. As far as the huge fire load, some of the folks in R8 average 700-1000 hours of OT a year and almost all of that is on their home unit. R5 is not the only region with a year round fire season.

3) As far as R5 setting up the identifiers of Capt, BC, etc. Not really a huge deal to most of the US. You can call me a Captain, Engine Module Leader, EMS, whatever. I will still do the same job with the same professionalism and integrity regardless of my title. I was working in R5 when the whole collar brass issue came up (at least in NorCal, I believe SoCal had already been using them for a while). Most of us on the district kind of thought the same thing, sure it was kind of an ego boost to get jewelry on our uniform like the structure world has, but it seemed like a waste of money. And that was from the BC and DC.

4) And the comment about other regions have their sense of commitment and pride is just way off base. It is an easy thing to say when R5 has by far the largest budget of any other region with a smaller land mass to cover. It is easy for R5 to not use contractors when you get the budget to fund the amount of equipment you have. Try not using contractors when even your 26-0s aren't funded year round. A lot of forests have to send their fire perms off forest a minimum of 1-2 pay periods just meet budget. And many of us of "sent over" to other shops during the slow periods to get us off of WFPR funds. Sure, that is an RO and WO budget issue on both sides, but to say we don't have commitment and pride because of the way the RO and WO funds us is just way off base. I don't like contractors anymore than the next Fed. employee. Who likes to work side by side with someone who has generally less training and less experiences (not all though, there are some top notch contractors out there, but I wouldnt' say that that is the norm) and is making sometimes 2-3 times the pay that you are whether they work 8 hours or 24?

5) I left R5 less than 2 years ago, so I am not that far removed from the cost of living and the BS you have to deal with. It was a big relief for a while, but as I realize every time I change units and/or regions, that every place has their own unique blend of BS to deal with. Everybody has budget issues, as well as issues with staffing, training, and the almighty meeting of targets.

I may be bit more outspoken or non-PC than I should be at times, but overall we work on the same team. No matter what region we live or work in, no matter what agency we work for, we are all part of the firefighting community and should treat each other as such. I would support a pay increase/standardization if there was one that came out that was equal and fair across the board. The locality pay system we have now is far from perfect. The pay scale for federal wildland fire fighters is far from being comparable to the rest of the fire fighting force of this country. Imagine what our pay would be like if we were WG instead of GS.
AI do agree that until the federal system catches up with the local governments and private sectors, we will continue to lose good people.

I am sorry if I offended those of you back in R5. I did enjoy my years out there and try to bring some of what I learned out there to where I am now. Just please don't call us uncommitted, unprofessional, or lacking in pride simply because the RO and WO will not give us the funding to do the job they ask us to do.

R9 Captain

4/13 I'm sorry can someone please remind me when there was
a major contingent sent to R-9? Get off the horse,
dude! Your remarks are only those of someone who has
other motives. Cali is and I'm pretty sure will be the
major forefront to what a professional organization
should be... you know why the statistics are favored
to your side? Because we send more professional
resources on a first response. If R-5 were like most
other regions ( and I've had the pleasure of staying
in most of them) we would wait to have an engine crew
get on scene , after a 2 hour hike to order an air
tanker... or a helicopter. Then we would order a
team... Thats why our statistics are low, because we
get the f---kin job done in the first operational
period! Cry somewhere else, I know you would hop on
the bandwagon if you were offered a wild land
firefighter series.


4/13 N355EV

Has anyone considered a main rotor strike at the IDP followed by a
release of basket materials downwind and downslope of the impact
site and impacting the aircraft in a post-impact attitude?

Former Rotorhead

4/12 N355EV

My FMO asked me this morning if I had read any of the posts in regard to 5EV. I hadn't actually had the time to do that lately, as I have been busy trying to fill some major holes in a Helitack program that has been around for 30 years. After scrolling though the posts, I feel a bit compelled to offer a bit of information.

First I would like to thank "Student of Reason" for doing what I expected the media and others looking to sell a story to do, focus on one paragraph of the report. I have to admit that I did the same thing the first time I read through. I do ask you to go back and read it again, this time skip the one paragraph that you focused on.

One of the reasons that Jenks, D, and RD have a different take on this is that they have been to the crash site. These folks and anyone else that has spent time on the Salmon River Breaks know that 2000' is a long way when you're going up but it's just a hop, skip and a jump when you're headed down. Another factor is that most of these folks have flown this mission before. The flight path that 5EV was on that day was not typical. On a nice clear day, the typical route would be further West over the South Fork. The apparent route was down a spur ridge that leads from William's Peak Lookout to the confluence of the East Fork and South Fork of the Salmon. Krassel is then a few miles up the South Fork from the confluence.

Another thing to point out is that the weather observations for McCall do not represent the weather conditions on the South Fork. McCall is 20 miles upwind with a 3500' tall barrier in the middle. I was on the Sheep Creek Fire trying to get personnel demobed for days off at the time of the crash. We could not get a helicopter in through the smoke that was between McCall and the Sheep Creek Fire.

Next, I want to mention that Lilly hated flying and Monica was very conservative. It may have had something to do with wrecking her car and being burned over in the month or so prior to the crash, but whatever the reason, that was the case. Quin was very respectful of everyone around him and for those who believe he was reckless, a hot-dog, or otherwise can find comfort in knowing that he would have been flying at a most conservative level with those passengers.

The numerous failures mentioned by "Student of Reason" indicate that Mike and myself failed at doing our jobs properly. I would like to think that by 6 months later someone would have come to me and told me where I screwed up. My crew is my number 2 priority in my life, right behind my wife and sons, I assure you all that had I believed that there was reckless flight taking place, I would have done whatever was necessary to eliminate the problem. There are pilots out there who do not care for me because of that.

On the topic of open top baskets, pick up a copy of the new R4 helicopter contract. They are no longer an option.

My final take on the report is that:

  1. For some reason the aircraft had deviated from its typical flight and was following a spur ridge.
  2. If the aircraft knocked over the snag at the IDP it was flying within 90' of the ground.
  3. If the contents of the basket started coming out after contacting the snag, it would make sense that it was the pilot's side basket that contacted the tree since there was paint from the tail rotor in one of the QBs.
  4. If number 3 is correct, the nose of the aircraft was likely canted to the left.
  5. If a pilot had visibility issues, he would try to maintain a ground reference.
  6. It is easier to see out the side of a helicopter than the front.
  7. A gray snag is hard to see in smoke.

If I have learned one thing from this past summer, it is that people like to make assumptions. I did. After experiencing the summer from hell and having my crew deal with rescuing mushrooms hunters from a van in a river, saving lives of people in a plane crash, being burnt over on Little Venus, losing 4 incredible people when our ship crashed, fighting brain tumors, and numerous other things that seem so petty now, I have a much clearer perspective. I hope no one else ever has to deal with one of these scenarios, but if you do, try to come out of it a better person.

Hoping for an uneventful summer.

Doug Marolf
Krassel Helitack Supervisor

Doug, thanks for writing in. We're with you and yours, man. Condolences. Ab.

4/12 R9 Captain,

You might want to consider the values at risk and the complexity that we deal with here in R5 before you go sending out a arrogant email. We can't go riding around like a bunch of cowboys in type 6 contractor engines like those in other regions do. If you came out here with your attitude toward R5, this place would eat your lunch like it has done to many of out of region fire resources with that attitude. Those of us that have worked here most of our careers choose to work here because we love to be challenged and we have a huge sense of commitment and pride that other regions have lost do to their inability to stand up and do what’s right for the taxpayers -- and that means no contractors.

Your WUI and R5 WUI are quite a bit different. Air tankers don't sit unloaded here as they do in other regions. If we dispatched and responded with fire equipment like you have, we might as not ever get dispatched. Because the fire is going to eat your lunch. Our dispatch is generally 3 fold any other region and there’s a reason for that. When you start to work 600-800+ hours of OT like most of us do just in this region, you might realize we have a huge fire load like no other in the US. And maybe you should remember R5 is: who set the identifier of captain, bc and dv in place for the rest of the regions to follow?

So if you want to take the road of less resistance and leave R5 then that’s your issue. For those of us that stay here because we love the sense of pride, commitment, aggressive firefighting, professionalism and a year around fire season deserve to be compensated accordingly. Keep in mind year around fire season too.


4/12 From Firescribe:

Article on FS staffing in SoCal

4/12 I recently accepted a Captain position with CDF/CalFire and will be leaving my Captain position on the Texas Canyon Hotshots this week. I'll be working at Fenner Canyon, which is not too far down the road from the Big Pines engine station where I started fresh out of high school in 1988. I have been fortunate to have spent my FS career surrounded by many long-standing, respected leaders. Lots of great memories and experiences through the years from engine time, Fulton Hotshots, Apple Valley Flight Crew, Chantry Flight Crew, Texas Canyon Hotshots, Arroyo Grande Flight Crew, and back to TCHS my final four years as a Captain. I am excited about my new career change and looking forward to the new challenges ahead.

Dave Nish
Texas Canyon Hotshots

The fed side of the fire family will certainly miss you Dave. Good luck in your new career. Don't be a stranger to theysaid. Ab.

4/12 R9 Captain and all others interested in Retention,

To your comments... every firefighter has a little bit of an ego. You would have to in order to think standing in the way of a natural disaster is a good idea. You don't see FEMA trying to stop a hurricane.

R5 is unique just as every other region is unique, we burnt down 750,000 acres, 3000 + homes, and had 20 + civilian fatalities in 1 week. Think this is odd, well guess what, isn't the first, wont be the last. So I would say the 25% of fires comment might have been a little overstated, but the budget we get, and stand we take for our firefighters is well deserved.

I feel bad, but after 7 years with the feds I am going to CAL Fire. The career ladder of pay and benefits is just greater, and love of your job doesn't pay the mortgage. With median home prices at all time highs Fed Firefighters on single incomes have serious issues paying rent. To R9's comments about moving... somebody has to prevent the fires from killing hundreds more and destroying thousands more homes. You might not have wanted to stay, but we do. Because of the disparity in pay, the Forest Service is the best agency in California at training other people's firefighters. Call me materialistic if you want, but the reality is bills have to get paid, and I'm not the first and wont be the last. Next time one of R9's fires get big and they need crews to fly out for suppression, keep that in mind. No region is an island unto themselves in a National agency.

R5 Recruitment and Retention Statistic

D2, you'll never be simply a statistic to us. Many thanks for your service and best wishes in your new adventure. Luckily you're still part of this community. Ab.

4/12 Per Director Grijalva,

Effective immediately, flags will be flown at half staff at all CDF facilities in honor of the passing of Staff Chief Bryan Zollner.

On behalf of Northern Region Chief Bill Hoehman, it is with sadness and sorrow that we have to advise that Staff Chief Bryan Zollner has been involved in a fatal single vehicle traffic collision early this morning. Chief Zollner was en route to a meeting when the accident occurred along icy roads on Highway 44 near Bogard, in Lassen County. CHP is currently investigating the accident and CAL FIRE is assembling an Accident Review Team. Deputy Chief Ralph Minnich is the Agency Contact and can be reached at 530-941-0655. Additional information will be released as known and we respectfully request that this information remain internal until such time as a formal press release is made public.

Ken Pimlott
Assistant Deputy Director, Cooperative Fire Training and Safety

Loss of a good firefighter. I'll hold his family and friends in my thoughts. Ab

4/12 R-9 Captain,

First off let me say this to ALL: that was a wild and extreme number I posted about the 25%! With all the flaming attitudes over this issue, "get over it".

R-9 Captain, the numbers you posted are very likely true and correct for your region. In R-5 we are one very large populous state with extensive federal lands owned by ALL citizens of this nation. These lands have extreme terrain. They burn, sometimes burn extremely hot, fanned by extreme winds that produce extreme fire behavior. We are one state to one region unlike some eastern regions with 13 plus states. What we do have, in addition, are millions of people condensed into a smaller area which creates more incidents IE: full risk!

Before you go on thinking that we are the almighty and act accordingly, try working here NOW and living here NOW and dealing with the B.S. day in and day out. I am sorry you left this region I do not know ALL your reasons for doing and so and do not really care, but that option is not open to me since my whole family lives here and I do not want to leave them.

So get off your soap box, try to see the issue from our perspective: try to understand that the cost of living here and in other interface areas has gone wild and we as federal firefighters trying to live and work in such areas are way behind in pay and benefits. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why we have a retention problem NATION WIDE.

So R-9 guy try supporting instead of trashing; it will benefit you as well as federal employees in all the regions in the nation!!!!!!


OH by the way 10 years is a short time.

4/12 Turn that frown upside down SoCal

This is my first post here and I might be out of line but..... Yes, I used to work in R5, but after a short break, I now work in another region. R5's should maybe look at other regions and see how they function with less people, less money and older equipment, we seem to pull it off quite well. There are plenty of places other than SoCal with higher living costs (i.e everywhere) and if you want to work for the government you deal with it. It is called public service and be proud of it! As for fires, we all have fires! Why change the uniform by adding patches? A uniform with chest and shoulder candy doesn't make you more of a firefighter or less of a firefighter. You can take pride in the service by being a professional and wearing the standard uniform, people will know who you are and will respect you for not what you wear but for who you are. You just can't go changing things without going through the proper channels. Professionalism starts at the station, crew or module level, it will spread to the upper levels, try it. And for all you R5's that want a better government job in a different region after reading this, spend sometime in Tan and get 5 point VP or better yet get 10 point VP like me, the MAM's didn't care what uniform I wore.

Happy govt worker.

4/12 Oliver Moore Addition

I would like to add to your analysis with some completely and some partially true "benefits"

Project work prepping burn units yields scouting time for wild game and berries to supplement the velveeta and fruit loops.

If you hear an elk bugle in the fall, you usually have enough credit and comp hours left over (from taking 8 hours of reg. pay and 6 hrs of credit for spring burning/training OT) to take the rest of the week off and hunt it, butcher it, and throw it in the freezer.

The "leftover" MRE parts become your lunch for the next day, and the cheese is a hit for your kids in the cafeteria at school.

Half of the recipes in your house can utilize applesauce, pears and peaches from the MRE's as well (think fruit salad)

When you take the kids to the store, they cry because the thrifty mart and food bank don't stock "Chums".

You can scout the good firewood areas while on patrol, and also have credit hours to get off work until the heat of day, and the start of hoot owl. Selling firewood will let you take that year's overdue honeymoon.

MT Firefly

haw haw. Ab.

4/12 Dear Drip Torch:

I absolutely agree with your assessments. When we talk to congress about the diversion of preparedness funds we also refer to the misuse of fuels funding.

As for other Forest Service occupations and pay & benefits, I certainly concur. However as an employee association, the FWFSA has an obligation to its members, primarily firefighters. We simply do not have the financial resources to carry everyone's torch.

The Federal Executive Board works to address pay for federal employees regardless of occupation and there are a number of unions that should [emphasis added] be doing the same thing. There are likely other organizations and groups out there that are in a position to work on behalf of other FS occupations.

Let's face it, when I speak of getting the Agency to change archaic pay & personnel policies, while obviously myopic towards firefighters, such changes should apply to all.

It is a luxury to be able to focus on one segment of the workforce... federal wildland firefighters. But I dare say that segment, more than any other, has been ignored for far too long and deserves everything we can accomplish for them.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/12 Dear Oohello:

Thanks for the post about seasonal membership. As you may know, on our legislative plate are initiatives to secure basic health coverage for seasonal firefighters as well as securing eligibility to Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI). Temporary/seasonal federal wildland firefighters deserve the same pay & benefits permanent folks do and we have many members in that category.

As you likely also know, it is incredibly expensive to work with Congress in an effort to educate them on the issues and secure it's members' support. Our revenue comes solely from membership dues. In fact, our annual revenue is dwarfed by political contributions alone of other organizations.

With respect to temporary/seasonal employees, while the dues structure is the same for them, we recognize that when folks go into a non-pay status, things can be financially tight. Our policy for our temporary firefighters has been that when they go into a non-pay status, they are not obligated to remit monthly dues although since our work continues on their behalf while they are in a non-pay status, we encourage those who can afford to do so to pay their dues. As a result, the actual annual dues for a temporary firefighter can be less than the full $260.00.

That being said, our expectation from them is to let me know when they expect to go into a non-pay status and again when the expect to be picked back up.

I will tell you that the vast majority of our temporary firefighters do continue to pay their dues manually while laid off.

If you'd like additional information, please feel free to email me through our web site at www.fwfsa.org or call me at 208-775-4577.

By the way, $260 annually is about the same as a 12 pak and a half each month :)

Also, keep in mind that should we be successful in securing portal to portal pay for you, you would see a 100% return on that annual dues investment of $260 in just one assignment. Not a bad return.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/12 BigSky LTC,

Thanks for the info that is interesting. Just so you know it was a wild guess!!
However I do know that not all the acreage gets reported to NIFC. I know that I have been on 5 fires already this season and none of them have shown up on the nat'l sit report as added acres for the yearly totals.

Have a good one and be safe

4/12 Once again, a Californian's ignorance of the rest of the US shows through. (remember, I said ignorance, not stupidty, huge difference). Anyway, I thinnk the following comment needs a little truth added "Not a single firefighter in Ca thinks the world revolves around us, we just have oh say 25% of the wildland fire incidents counted each year here in Ca. Now that's just a guess but think about it we have more fires and a higher cost of living than the rest of the nation. As for Ca or R-5 fire folks, we are not looking for a war with other regions, just asking for what is right and way past due!!!!!"

If you check the stats for 2006, CA reported 8,193 fires for 678,906 acres,nowhere near the 25% stated. Actually more like 8.6% and 6.9% respectively.

No, if you want talk true percentages, take a look at the Southern Area (48,632 fire or 50% for 2,632,358 acres or 26.6%) Even the Eastern Area had a larger percentage of fires with 14,418 fires or 14.9%. We have a much larger land mass to protect here in the eastern half of the country (regions 8 & 9) and much larger population base (R8 95,000,000+ and R9 83,000,000+ VS CA 36,000,000+) albeit a lower overall population density than most of CA.
The vast majority of our forest lands in the R8 and R9 are WUI lands yet our regional fire budgets and individual forest budget are much much smaller than CA has. Most of South OPS already has the 25% increase and North OPs has anywhere from 25% to the "Rest Of US" rate. R8 and R9 are almost all entirely"Rest of US" rate, yet we have more wildfires and burn more under Rx fires than almost all of the other regions combined.
I get tired of hearing how hard the R5 folks have it with the pay system. I am sorry you chose to live in one of the most overpriced areas in the country, but don't expect sympathy from those of us who are doing the same job as you for less pay. True, we don't carry SCBA's and roll on medical like R5, but then neither do all of the R5 FS/BLM/NPS fire crews.

You chose the pay system you have when you chose the job and location you are in. If you don't like it, there are always jobs flying in the other regions. I know, I did. I spent 5 of my 10 years in R5, and I left. Partly because of the extreme cost of living, but a lot of the reason for my leaving was the constant "holier than though" attitude out there. I mean, come on, when the region host a regional fire meeting in another region and the RFMO (Ray Q) starts it off by saying R5 is the best fire program in the country, you gotta admit a bit of an ego.

R9 Captain

4/12 Casey,

As a federal seasonal firefighter I appreciate all that you are doing in Washington to help me out. However, I, like most of the other seasonal employees that I know, have not supported the FWFSA through becoming a member. In fact, I have intended to join for the last few years. So what stops me? Well, I guess to be honest it is the 260 dollars. It is hard for me to take that much money out of any one month's budget.

I believe I am not the only one in this boat.

While I am sure you know a whole lot more about raising money, these are things would make my membership possible.

-Seasonal employees work 13 pay periods, there could be a reduced rate of 130 dollars (at 10 dollars dues per pay period)

-Perhaps there is a way the money could be automatically withdrawn from a seasonal employees paycheck?

-If not, could the total dues could be paid in installments.

I am not trying to be cheap here, as I think 260 dollars is a good deal for what we get in return, but I do think that by changing the fee structure for seasonal employees you would attract many new members and have an overall increase in revenue.

4/12 Casey,

After reading all the posts about retention and pay, and your latest post, and knowing how little management listens to us or calls it a region 5 problem, maybe it is time to approach the issue from a different angle. I know it is a huge issue for fire (and I know your primary goal is support of wildland firefighters but all is fair in love and war) but I do believe it an issue for other departments (recreation, wildlife, line officers) as well. A GS-7 regardless of the title of the job cannot afford to live in many places and they are not all in California! Can you imagine living on those wages in Aspen or Vail Colorado? How about Fort Collins, Jackson Hole, Taos, White Fish, and Tuscon??? I know there are more places than I have named. Does congress know this? I doubt it. I wonder if a GS-13 ranger can afford to live some of these places. I think the pay and retention issues crosses all the ranks in the FS and BLM. When was the last time we had some really outstanding leaders for line officers? It has been a long time. The forest service does not get and keep the best employees anymore due to pay, many people love the job but cannot afford it and that includes fire management, district rangers and other specialists. The difference between fire management and the others is that people in fire leave in large numbers, the other groups leave one at time, and no one is tracking the other groups. Maybe one way to tackle the issue is to show congress how poor the federal pay is across the board.

Everyone talks about reducing the cost of large fires, and keeping fires smaller, but the one thing no one ever mentions if fuels management. If we can get the fuels dollars where they are supposed to go (ie treat the fuels) we can reduce large fire costs. Not only will treating the fuels reduce large fire costs but it will keep our firefighters safer!

Drip Torch
4/12 It's been really interesting reading all the posts about life in the California fire service, but one that really caught my attention was the comment by NORCAL Capt that California has about 25% of the wildland fire incidents. I must have some kind of a suppressed "Statistician Gene", caused it got me interested if it was close to real, or just a wild-arsed guess. So, off I go to the NIFC web site, and cranked out the following numbers, based on their data:
California (North and South Ops combined) during the last 5 years (2002-2006) have about 11.3% of all US fires, and about 6.5% of the acres burned. They have 7.8% of the lightning-caused fires, burning about 1.6% of the national acreage; and 12% of the human-caused fires that burn about 17% of the national acreage.
The specific numbers are at www.nifc.gov/stats/lightning_human_fires.phpl

BigSky LTC
4/11 Dear CS:

Many good points in your post and I think what you are trying to say, please correct me if I'm wrong, is that spending a little on preparedness (i.e. 1-3 dollars to save $100) would increase effectiveness to or above the 97% rate (a number thrown out there by the Agency but not supported by factual data) and thus reduce suppression costs.

If that is your take, you are in fine company. We believe the "3%" or whatever actual figure it may be, costs so much for several reasons:

1) dollars for federal preparedness resources are systematically diverted to non-fire projects such as Albuquerque, Admin etc. Obviously when resources are not available, fires get bigger, more dangerous & more expensive waiting for the federal resources that should have been in place.

2) The agencies simply continue to rely on cooperators and other non-federal resources at significantly higher costs to make up for the absent federal preparedness resources once the fires do come.

The diversion of preparedness funding & over-reliance on non-federal resources have had a far greater impact on the sky-rocketing costs of suppression than the typical "things we can't control" excuses thrown out by the experts such as climate, WUI etc. In fact it stands to reason that proper preparedness would mitigate, to a large degree, the impact these "out of our control" dynamics have on any given season.

Congress IS starting to understand that simply throwing more money into suppression while the Agency diverts preparedness dollars is not cost-effective & efficient. Recent dialogue between Congress and USDA Undersecretary Rey prove that out.

It is problematic however when the leadership of the Agency won't educate OMB on this and simply be silent when the Administration proposes budgets that throw more money at suppression. Such a process encourages the Agencies to continue to over-rely on non-federal resources and allows them to believe that because of additional suppression money, they can continue to use preparedness dollars in any non-fire way they see fit.

Then oddly, Congress who votes to spend more on suppression then hold hearings to ask "why is suppression costing so much?" They then get the typical responses of climate, WUI , blah, blah, blah. That's why I have a lot more gray hair than I did a few years ago!!


Congress is beginning to understand and has been provided the data and factual information as to what is truly going on. Of course there are still some not quite educated but I am convinced those on the Senate side know what's up and will be in a position to expect some changes in how the agencies, especially the FS, manage their tax dollars.

I don't for a minute believe it is necessary to adhere to the Guns or Butter ideology. Having worked Capitol Hill since '94 and gone toe to toe with the Dept. of Defense on budget issues, I can assure you there is PLENTY of money despite what the agencies pass down to the troops. Again, it is a matter of proper management. Constrained budgets my _ _ _!! It makes for great buzzwords and again, allows the agencies to divert the money Congress appropriates for preparedness to other projects.

Let's face it, if the FS used WRPR dollars for that purpose, as congress intends, the suppression costs would be significantly lower. We have had to illustrate to congress, especially over the last year that the reason the FS comes back to congress in the fall for emergency supplemental appropriations for suppression is because they have wiped out their suppression budget and reserve fund as a direct result of not funding preparedness resources.

So, as far as a machine that we can't feed, it could be easily fed if the financial mismanagement ended.

As far as other FS functions are concerned, we believe it is the responsibility of the FS Chief to inform the Administration & Congress precisely what it will cost to fund all the projects without needing budget transfers (i.e. robbing Peter to pay Paul). Frequently in Chief Bosworth's career he was chided by Congress for budget transfers rather than being frank as to the true financial needs of the Agency.

Yet we continue to hear the Agency leadership suggest that since they are part of the Administration, they must simply say thank you to whatever budget proposal is offered by the Administration and suggest to congress the wonderful things they have done, and continue to do with such funding. BS...(sorry AB)

Several things need to change:

1) the new FS Chief needs to do her job and educate the Administration, especially the OMB FS Budget Analyst (bean counter) who has absolutely no clue about the needs of the fire program, that the financial priority for the fire program must be preparedness, not suppression.

2) She must ensure the WO, ROs, line officers etc., stop diverting preparedness funding and ensure it gets to the FMOs so they can ensure resources are in place that will keep fires small and less costly.

3) Provide accurate cost estimates to the Administration as to what it will cost to fund everything congress expects her agency to do and stop settling for whatever the President proposes.

4) support legislation and other initiatives that will change archaic pay & personnel policies into those that will bring the FS fire program into the 21st century so as to reduce, if not eliminate recruitment & retention problems.

5) Demand that the Fire & Aviation leadership reduce its reliance on higher-priced non-federal resources and use those savings to strengthen the infrastructure of the nation's federal wildland firefighting corps which, if done, would be far more cost-effective and efficient for our Nation's taxpayers than the current status quo.

And finally, I'd like your thoughts on the following, given your experience:

The season is already upon us. Some Forests are getting some temporary hires, many of which have 0-1 seasons behind them. In the meantime, many captains, FEOs etc., are leaving for greener pastures (greener as in $$ & benefits) yet the Agency, primarily through the direction of Forest Supervisors, believes the priority of Division Chiefs and equivalents is to get these new folks to complete the variety of AgLearn classes such as No Fear, Reasonable Accommodations, USDA Security Literacy & Privacy, Ethics in 60-90 days when they should be taking that time to train and prepare for the season.

Let's not even touch on the issue of many employees being timed out on the computer while trying to perform these classes because of archaic, dial-up computer systems and the many outlying stations that don't even have computers.

Priorities just seem to be in total chaos. Your thoughts on that would be appreciated.

4/11 Alan Sinclair asked

Does anyone have any info on standards for the distance unprotected
personnel should be from vehicle fires? SOPs for the use of SCBAs in
the Forest Service?

Answer is: there is no set distance to be from a vehicle on fire. Safest thing to do get away at least 200 feet.

Way to many factors:

1. How big a vehicle? small car to 18 wheeler represents a huge size difference. Also, huge difference in BTU release potential.

2. What is in it? personal belongs or 6000 gallon of metalethaldeath, for fun it has a mixed load of solids and liquids which are all on shown on the placards.

3. What kind of fuel? gas, diesel, propane, battery, hydrogen.

4. What is around it as it is burning?

5. Weather

And when you talk of unprotected personnel, I hope you are referring to wildland firefighters in their type of PPE. It will not work for that kind of work. The only type that works is full ensemble Structural turnouts, hood, helmet, gloves, boots, and SCBA. Oh, by the way mine way about 20-30 lbs. + the SCBA at 25 and change. Anything less is foolish.

Best advice I can give you is: should you have a fire in your vehicle and it is determined that it is small (I mean small, not big than maybe 2 x 2 feet) then use the fire extinguisher and put it out. Gas and diesel do not blow up they burn, but they do flow like water.

Supply every apparatus in your forest with a North America Emergency Response Guide Book (NAERG).

Hope this helps!


4/11 Here is a link to the 2007 Red Book.


Things have been rearranged since 2003 so Chapter 11
may not still have the same topics.

Midwest Fire Guy
4/11 Regarding the post on “Fire Hogs”……

The aircraft has some serious weight and balance issues. Once this problem is solved by the use of counter weights, the useful load available would not allow it to haul enough retardant to make it viable and useful. There is also no serious interest out there from the US or State Government agencies.


4/11 Old Fire Guy

Come on now, do you think that your statements just
apply to South Zone? Well you're way off base. I've
worked for three different regions over my career and
problems people face in Cali are alot different than
what you face in other regions, but some aren't. I
don't think that it is to much to ask to get paid
better when you live in an area where the cost of
living is high. I take it you live in a smaller rural
area and that's good, but you can't knock someone that
doesn't want that type of life but wants to make a
living comparable to yours. Do you think that
employees in Central Oregon, or Missoula wouldn't like
to make more due to rising costs? Hel* the Captains in
Central Oregon just got GS-7 wages but are still not
permanent (26-0).

As far as your statement that we are "too cool" to do
anything but fire, where the hel* did that come from.
My engine does just as much project work as any engine
outside the region. Now we do do alot more training
than other regions, but again we have different
responsibilities than you do. Yes, we are required to
role on medicals, car wrecks and other public needs
where you probably aren't. And don't confuse "too Cool"
with "professionalism", now I will admit there are a
few areas where people are pretty arrogant but it is

Now the next thing is something everyone including
yourself should want and that is 100% MEL, wouldn't
your life be easier. Expecting Congress to give us a
fair shake isn't to much to ask. Being able to employ
more people isn't to much to ask. Not worring about
our declining budgets year after year isn't to much to
ask. And having Old Fire Guys realize that people and
priorities have changed and they need to change with
the times isn't to much to ask for.

Thanks Ab

4/11 Ab

Here's his photo from the Wrightwood website:
Gene Zimmerman

also a few more (in)famous fire people...
Mick McCormick
Jim Wilkins
Ralph Domanski
Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
Joe Millar
Jeanne and Joe
Don Studebaker
Terri Decker


4/11 Lobotomy,

Thank you, Old Friend, for that bit of information regarding Gene Zimmerman and the honor guard. I had no idea.

The most profound tragedy in my career that I can remember was when my tag-team air attack partner, Sam Tobias, was killed in a fire related aircraft wreck in 2000. I will never forget the absolutely moving memorial service brought to us by the USFS Honor Guard. Have you ever seen two hundred hotshots/jumpers/aviators all crying at once? (please no answer, I know it would be to the affirmative)

The honor given our amigo was so appropriate, so much what he deserved. Thank you Gene!!

It is still OK to have heroes in the high ranks! Unfortunately there just aren't too many of them any more. Thanks for reminding us of one of them.


Anyone have a photo of Gene Zimmerman? Ab.

4/11 Dear Old Fire Guy:

Oddly enough I actually enjoy some of your postings. I'm certainly not inclined to go tit-for-tat with you on your last post but just wanted to offer my opinion(s) to it if you wouldn't mind:
  • Wont be safe until we get our own job series...

Not sure anyone has ever equated classification with safety. Got a bet for you...let's take a year and you count the number of times elected officials, agency leadership, anyone actually, refers to these employees in public as Forestry Technicians/Range technicians etc. I'll count up the times those who are in a position to make such a simple classification change use the term "wildland firefighter" to describe these employees.

Let's see who wins. Even in brochures put out by the Agencies about how great it would be to do this kind of work, official pamphlets and brochures refer to these positions as being a wildland firefighter. The Post-Katrina report from the Administration clearly stated the Government needs to continue to rely on land-management agency wildland firefighters...

You've got federal Dept. of Defense firefighters classified as such, why not wildland firefighters? They are eligible for federal firefighter special retirement, why not classify them as such? It is not a safety issue, but it is a morale issue and a common sense issue. I dare say that such a classification change would do stunningly good things for retention & recruitment. And...it doesn't cost a thing to do so.

  • FS firefighters from CA deserve more pay than other FS employees from CA

The issue is not simply "more pay" but proper compensation. This includes all wildland firefighters from all land management agencies regardless of location. Feel free to justify why the land-management agencies should continue to use your tax dollars to pay cooperators portal to portal pay at 4-5 times the equivalent rate of a federal wildland firefighter while taking their own firefighters on the same fire off the clock . Justify the fact that some cooperators have made over $100,000 in OT alone on federal assignments while our folks are taken off the clock. Justify why these federal wildland firefighters go on a number of FEMA assignments, whether it be hurricanes, picking up shuttle parts etc., and don't get paid proper OT.

These are fundamental compensation issues that need to be addressed. Not addressing them leads to what we are seeing in high-cost areas in California...a large number of feds going to other agencies. Hey its your tax dollars...you can pay them as feds or you can pay them 4-5 times more as CAL-FIRE folks.

High cost areas such as SoCal do need to look at ways to retain folks. You might remember many years ago Congress enacted FEPCA, The Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act. Sadly, each year the president, whether Republican or Democrat has used "national emergencies" as a reason to not implement FEPCA. Perhaps if it had been actually implemented, we would not be seeing some of these problems.

Most FS employees in CA deserve better pay. Again, fundamental pay issues. The Federal Executive Board is addressing the problem on behalf of all federal employees and, we hope, NFFE is doing the same. The FWFSA has the luxury of being myopic and working exclusively for federal wildland firefighters.

  • Any manager that does not march on Congress...

I haven't seen any effort to seek 110% of MEL. However, Most Efficient Level means just that, not a percentage thereof.

  • We want to have special patches...

Haven't seen too many frat rats that risk their lives on a daily basis...Coming from a military installation that was slated for closure by BRAC, I can tell you that we did the same thing to keep morale up. It worked to a great degree. Having pride in who you are, what you do etc., rubs off on others and has a definite positive impact on one's performance.

These are not just rank & file firefighters coming up with these ideas, these are chief officers who have been in the system long enough to know what is needed to instill some morale etc. I did the same thing as a chief officer. Given the environment of liability, alleged budget reductions etc., anything that can help keep our folks in place (again as a benefit to the American taxpayer) should be viewed as a positive effort.

  • We're too cool to do any work not involving fire or our equipment..

You could be a bit clearer on that. Do you mean too cool to travel across the country for days on end away from one's family in a non-pay status to pick up shuttle parts, help hurricane victims?

Yup, the sun still comes up...as does the pile of bills on the kitchen table of many federal wildland firefighters. No one has suggested the world revolves around California but most know "as California goes, so does the rest of the country."

C'mon old man, this is the 21st century. Perhaps in your day all you needed was the sunsets and the smell of pine to pay your bills. That just isn't the case in today's world.


4/11 Old Fire Guy,

Do you think that was a positive thing to add to the FIRE????

Your quote:
1. We won't be safe until we get our own job series number.
2. FS firefighters from CA deserve more pay than other FS employees from CA
3. Any manager that does not march on Congress and demand 110% MEL is a traitor.
4. We want to have special patches, insignia and other "cool stuff".....just like frat rats.
5. We're "too cool" to do any work not involving fire or our equipment.

Just looked out my window. The sun is still there. The world does not
revolve around California (I know....that's heresy!).

Old Fire Guy

I wonder what region you work in?

Your post really kind of ticked me off as well as a few others I am sure of. I am not here to get in a pis*ing match, just saying hey enough of the slams on R-5 fire folks.

Not a single firefighter in Ca thinks the world revolves around us, we just have oh say 25% of the wildland fire incidents counted each year here in Ca. Now that's just a guess but think about it we have more fires and a higher cost of living than the rest of the nation. As for Ca or R-5 fire folks, we are not looking for a war with other regions, just asking for what is right and way past due!!!!!

Nationwide FAM folks morale is lower than what it should be with a very high probability that this season is going to top last year and cause more injuries due to minimal staffing levels

So with that Old Fire Guy, smile now because I am sure that you will be having egg on your face soon!!!


4/11 I heard from a friend who left the FS some years ago for DHS.
From his perspective it sounds like DHS is more and more likely
to get our fed fire troops. The FS/BLM is on their last chance.

Is that good or bad?

64 of one, 64 of the other... I haven't decided...


4/11 Patches on uniform shirts? My agency is so poor we don't have uniform shirts instead we all agreed to buy and wear clothing that contains no more than 60% polyester . Wallets with badges? With our pay scale the agency issues key chain coin fobs... the kind you squeeze open and the pennies and nickels fall out. . Fire shirts? A few of us have hand me downs but most just dye a white shirt from Good Will yellow and try to stay out of the flames.

The good news is that we have made recent changes to help with our fire fighter retention issues...We lowered the pay scale by $200 so our firefighters are now eligible for food stamps, which for most employees equal $247 in food commodities...net gain to FF's... $47. With the $47 dollar increase we were able to increase their health insurance premiums by $10 and gained dental coverage (extractions only). This still left $37 worth of Fruit Loops and Velveeta on each firefighters table. Needless to say management is very happy. The only problem with these changes is the agency issued coin holders...The food stamp cards don't fold up small enough to fit in the key chain coin fobs. Any suggestions?

Oliver Moore

ps...I wasn't around on the first of April so my agency update is a little late...

4/11 Hey Alan,

I did a little snooping, here's what I found....no specific distance
requirements for unprotected personnel, just says to avoid the

There is some good info on SCBA requirements for our


I doubt this is the most current version, but maybe it can help you find
what your looking for.

Jim W.

4/11 Ab:

I am really struggling with some of the issues people bring fourth in this
forum. I have been lurking too long…

I have been in Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) for over 27 years and
seen the rise and fall of budgets and workforces.

The National Fire Plan (NFP) of 2000 was helpful to a point. But we built
a machine we could not feed. Some units built too much of a machine. Since
that time we have seen a steady decline of WFPR (Preparedness) Now our
domestic budgets are very constrained . The economic term Guns or Butter
comes to mind. Bottom line, we can’t spend Billions of dollars in the
Middle East and expect to keep domestic budgets at intended NFP levels
something was going to get cut. Other non fire parts of land management
agencies have suffered these decreases to an even greater extent. To date
Fire Management still has the lions share about 45% of the USFS budget.
Other functions continue to find creative ways to get a piece of that
share. This may be cost pools or primary purpose charges. Let's face it,
when WFSU (P codes) is depleted and fire borrowing (taking) begins, other
agency functions are not happy with their losses and they don’t see FAM as
a friend.

Some of the latest contributors seemed pretty worked up over rural fire
assistance funds being withdrawn by DOI. While others are upset about R5
loosing WFPR dollars and reducing their firefighting workforce. Here is,
where you may not get much sympathy. South zone of R5 has almost 1/4th of
the national WFPR budget. Regions 1,2,3,4, North Zone R5, 6,8,9 and 10
probably don’t have much sympathy for any one of the south zone forest
putting 5 engines on blocks or not hiring 30 seasonal firefighters. At the
same DOI is suffering the same funding challenges.

So why would you give millions to cooperators when you can’t fund your own
folks??? In fact the same cooperators have no problem coming to federal
fires and charging substantially higher equipment, personnel rates and
administrative fees of over 25%. I would say DOI made a difficult but
reasonable decision, if it was within their desecration.

Back to reducing fire fighting capability or putting engines on blocks.
First we don’t really put anything on blocks in the USFS unless we
surplus the equipment we still pay in to a Working Capitol Fund for it.
What we do is, we don’t hire folks to staff them. Telling a congress
person that a unit is not going to hire 30 young people may not have a big
effect on them, unless they are real influential young people.

I have been thinking a lot more about what you could say that would mean
more to congress or the public who we serve. So work with me here! Rumor
has it that the Federal Wildland agencies are about 97% effective in
initial attack (using WFPR and a little WFSU$$). We know that the
remaining 3% become large incidents that cost lets say 2-4 billion WFSU
dollars to fight. Now you may say that 97% is not a good number. Use
anything you want for this exercise. I’ll use the 3% we don’t catch and
say they cost 3 Billion to fight. That’s 1 billion per 1% (see were I’m
going) if we decrease our national effectiveness to less then 97 or what
ever % it will likely cost another billion per 1% loss of effectiveness.
Now what it actually cost for a 1% effectiveness change is a little tough
to say but let’s say it was 100-300 million. Spend a 1-3 dollars to save
$100.00. That’s good risk management. We pay that much in ATM fees.
Perhaps Congress doesn’t think that way, but I think the American people
might get it. I am sure I am over simplifying this but I’m trying to take
the emotion out of this and put it in economical terms.

I haven’t said any thing about resource or property damage. That cost lots
more in some places. And there are some places that we should not be
fighting fire at all.

Just my thoughts


4/11 Alan Sinclair-

Check the Forest Service Health and Safety book FSH.
Section 26.15 addresses vehicle fires.


4/11 Ab,

Things do not feel good at the team meetings. Lack of focus and cohesion.
Low morale.

CIIMT1 will be led by Rich Hawkins, fine leader, Chief on the Cleveland
NF. Jerry McGowan will act as DPIC. He's a good fireman as well, Chief
2 on the Stanislaus NF and one funny dude.


4/11 foxpup,

Tenerife. Nobody was to blame, but the most experienced instructor pilot from the airline made human errors and there was a well known causal chain of errors that could have been corrected to prevent the accident.

Those that we admire, respect, and love can make human errors. A properly designed system will understand that, and design out the latent factors. We all can make things better by designing a safer "cockpit".

There are lessons to be learned. Sometimes those lessons hurt both personally on an individual basis and on an organizational basis... but in the end, hopefully an honest and factual discussion will keep our guys and gals safer in the future.

Blame is not the same as addressing the corrective actions... The corrective actions honor the losses for everyone in the future, and the blame is just a self serving scar and barrier for the future. Anyone who wants to assign blame is just doing something natural.... they need to get beyond that and start the healing and focus on what needs to be changed....

In all due respect to everyone WE have all lost this last year... some who I knew personally, and some who I have heard their stories from my closest friends.... Don't put up barriers to communication... speak to everyone whether they have the same ideas as you or others... At some point, everything will come together.

Student of Reason
4/11 Lobotomy,

Is that the same dress uniform that only the line officers are
authorized to wear and purchase? Seems like such an irony
when the idea came from the field (firefighters) for an Honor


Well, they couldn't very well wear nomex. Snort. Haw haw. Ab.

4/11 >From the Whineries of California....

1. We won't be safe until we get our own job series number.
2. FS firefighters from CA deserve more pay than other FS employees from CA
3. Any manager that does not march on Congress and demand 110% MEL is a traitor.
4. We want to have special patches, insignia and other "cool stuff".....just like frat rats.
5. We're "too cool" to do any work not involving fire or our equipment.

Just looked out my window. The sun is still there. The world does not
revolve around California (I know....that's heresy!).

Old Fire Guy

4/10 Before everyone goes on continuing to slam Line Officers, we all must realize that there are some really supportive line officers out there. Unfortunately, sometimes the folks above them at the Forest, Regional, and Washington Office levels put barriers in front of them that "appear" to be insurmountable. Some of the Line Officers are leaders and will find a way around obstacles that make absolutely no sense in mission delivery and efficiency.

One such example of an awesome Forest Supervisor was Gene Zimmerman. While most folks could find fault with him in some way or the other, you always knew where you stood with him and his sentiment behind all of his decisions.... and when he made a decision, he stuck with it tooth and nail even if it countered the direction or policies flowing out of the RO or the WO.

One such decision almost cost him his job.... he supported his firefighters in starting a Forest Service Honor Guard. More than once he was called upon the carpet.... threatened with reassignment, threatened with disciplinary action, and ordered to stop what the Honor Guard was doing. He was told the three primary reasons from the WO were:

1. Those are unauthorized uniforms,
2. We do not have the funding to support this type of program, and
3. There is not an overwhelming need for this type of program.

The firefighters understood the need for the Honor Guard program. The Forest Supervisor supported it and was willing to do anything to make it happen. For years, the Forest Service Honor Guard program was considered by the RO an WO as a group of renegades wearing non-approved uniforms performing something that should be "more local" in need.

It wasn't until the last few years that the Forest Service Honor Guard has received official sanctioning from the WO and some funding. Another plus is that the Forest Service was able to return a little bit to its past in utilizing a dress uniform consisting of an Ike Jacket and a "Smokey Bear" style hat like the "old school" Forest Service had. It lent a lot to restoring the professionalism in the Forest Service, and the pride in the agency mission and risks that had been lost for decades.

4/10 Albuquerque,

Good advice for those there, though those that have done so in the
past have really been slammed for trying to protect themselves.

I am speaking from previous experience with this person and fortunately
I am not working on that unit! Though I do have many close friends that are.

Old Green and Gray Guy

4/10 Old Green and Gray Guy,

I needed to do a little research on your comments for the sake of balance and fairness. I don't think I have met the ANF Supervisor. I don't personally know many people from SoCal.

Here's what I have found out: The ANF Supervisor has lots of line officer fire experience both from the Plumas NF where she was Deputy Forest Supervisor and from the Angeles NF. She has been well mentored and trained in dealing with large fires. She has interacted with incident management teams as forest administrator on large fires. She has not "come up in fire" on any kind of fire crew the way many old firefighting forest supervisors from yester-year did, but she does have extensive administrative fire experience.

As for taking fire money, she has done nothing wrong there. When the FS Washington Office centralized the administration, those administrators that were left behind became a direct cost to whatever the forest project was. The forest function with the most FTE is Fire. Thus, Fire on a forest now pays for all administration. The reason for this is that administration costs come off the top of the budget and are funded at 100%. So the ANF Supervisor simply follows current Forest Service budgetary procedures. If I am incomplete on this, anyone, please let me know.

You said, "the ANF Forest Supervisor has decimated the rest of the staff on the forest. Who is left?" Good question. As best I can find out, more than a year ago all or most of the ANF District Rangers moved, quit or retired; soon after that all or most of the ANF District FMOs followed suit. I do not know the reasons for this exodus, but if there is a problem, it is not something the old or new FS Chief would know about. It would not even be on their radar screens. No, any problem on the Angeles, if there were one, would come under the purview and responsibility of the Regional and Deputy Regional Forester who supervise all of the R5 Forest Supervisors. They should know about problems and take any action they deem necessary to correct them.

I do wonder if she knew about the patches and the pins. Many forests have pins. People sometimes wear them and sometimes not. If she knew, why did she not object earlier? If she knew, but thought it was OK was she later instructed to send out the letter and, if so, by whom? Who OKs pins and patches, anyway?

That's the best research I can do on short notice.


4/10 Does anyone have any info on standards for the distance unprotected
personnel should be from vehicle fires? SOPs for the use of SCBAs in
the Forest Service?

Thanks in advance,

Alan Sinclair
Tonto NF.

4/10 Chaos--

Please correct me if I am wrong. But, is this a chaotic situation, or what?

What I have been reading in this post is disheartening. I retired three years ago after 30 years of service with an outfit that HAD strong pride and leadership throughout. What happened? What happened to just goin out there, throwin dirt, and gettin the job done? Disengage? What happened to the promises of pay increases, MEL, full time employment, promises of filling vacancies in safety sensitive positions, and all the other stuff with acronyms that no one understands anyway? Yes, there were these kinds of promises that management HAD made long ago. Badges? Who cares if the units are proud to wear badges and patches and Bud stickers and unit hats and collar brass and all that kind of stuff that builds moral and pride? For the love of life and occupation, let it happen, if it's a TEAM building icon. Hey, YOU managers, do ya get it? There's firefighters out there that need your leadership and support. Crap or get off the pot! You field folks, if it's necessary, stand up and be heard, make changes, and move on. Easier said than done in the present environs, but ya can't win if you don't play.

Thanks to the leaders throughout my career; Mr. Sandborg, Mr. Benik, and Mr. Caplinger......

Thee Picker

4/10 I've been reading "They said it" too long....need a quick solution....

How 'bout somebody take a video camera and straight up "pop-o-rot-zee" interview the FS "leadership" at their offices about the retention, hiring, and classification issues, and then interview the troops at the ground level and see what the differences are. After that, make about... oh.... say... 500 copies and start sending them out in droves to the major media hubs...... hel*, it's America.... everybody loves a good government scandal on TV...

Any volunteers?.... or do we all need to pitch in on a contractor?... Hey Casey, can we use FWFSA funds for this?

*Dude, I'm SO kidding about this........I think.*

"Just smile and wave boys....smile and wave..."

4/10 Old Green and Gray Guy

A grievance can always be filed if there is documentation of wrong-doing.
I don't know if there is in this case but actions, if warranted by documentation,
are better than words.


4/10 Several things on my take on the plight of the ANF.

The forest is losing folks at a high rate to better paying jobs with other employers, not just other fire agencies. Though the fire agencies are sucking up all the bright, up-and-coming folks as fast as they can, Edison Co. is also scoring many simply because they pay MUCH better and have better benefits.

Besides pay, the other major reason folks are leaving is because, as pointed out, the ship has sunk. The sinking began in July 2001 when the present supervisor arrived. It actually started when a great Ranger retired off the Saugus the day before the Supervisor arrived. For those that do not know, this FSup has a track record of employee abuse and bullying. They did the exact same things as the DFS on the Plumas. When they left there, there was a huge sigh of relief, and sympathy calls and e-mails abounded to people on the Angeles with condolences re their new FSup.

Fire should not feel like the lone Forestry Techs. They are just a much larger target of opportunity, after all the FSup has decimated the rest of the staff on the forest. Look and see who is left. . . no one!! Those that remain are shell shocked and trapped in the reign of terror precipitated by the FSup and Deputy.

I believe Aberdeen asked what their fire quals are. Well that is easy: NONE whatsoever.

The former FS Chief and obviously the New Chief do not have the intestinal fortitude to remove this cancer from the agency. They are part of the problem by permitting and condoning the FSup's actions with NO action of their own to enforce the words they say about tolerating no harassment and fostering workplace health.

The ANFSup talks out of both sides of their mouth. I have personally witnessed them telling WO and RO people how they support fire etc, then they turn around and take away funds and badmouth the fire program.

As said earlier, there is no leadership in the Forest Service and their ability to recruit and retain employees is diminishing every day as MANAGEMENT (as opposed to leadership) does not get it. When you work in a hostile work environment, why do you think there is a recruitment and retention problem?

Old Green and Gray Guy

4/10 To those that have recently posted suggesting that readers join the FWFSA, thanks. It is humbling that despite the chaos and dysfunction occurring daily, primarily in R5, the FWFSA continues to see growth.

Interestingly, the vast majority of those apparently taking positions with CAL-FIRE and others have not been FWFSA members. That is not to say the losses are any less disconcerting to the FWFSA because what we are trying to accomplish will benefit everyone, not just members.

I do need to reflect on the loss of Don Feser, a longtime member of the FWFSA who I first met in 1994, ironically in Washington DC as we both "worked the Hill" for federal wildland firefighters. Any loss in the federal wildland firefighting community to any other fire agency is too much of a loss as we work daily to try and convince those in a position to effect positive change to do so to make the land management agencies "the" place to make a wildland firefighting career.

That being said, the loss of Don illustrates just how dysfunctional the fire program is and amplifies what everyone already knows: most line officers, with all due respect, may know how to manage people and tow the Agency Company Line, but they don't know how to manage firefighters and a fire program.

There are wonderful federal wildland firefighters out there in all land management agencies and in all fire positions that can take the reigns of this train wreck and lead by example. No longer is it acceptable to simply sit back and expect non-fire people to successfully manage a fire program.

The FWFSA, while making progress on a number of fronts does not possess a magic wand, nor sufficient quantities of pixie dust that would enable us to fix these problems without the collective voice of our members and the commitment from so many others to recognize that now is the time to take control and save this wreck.

Consider the issues and problems we are all facing as challenges of which you can make a difference.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
4/10 What ever happened to the Fire Hog aircraft idea. Last I knew (5 years
ago at least) there was a couple of planes working out the bugs and getting
air certificated. What happened?


4/10 All,

Sad to hear about Chief Feser's departure. Never worked for him directly, but was on a few fires his team managed. His team was always professional and SAFE. The "forestry techs" on my home unit are dealing with a similar issue as the ANF, however this does not involve fire patches or badges. We're butting heads with our line officers over putting FS shields on our everyday uniforms (shirts and hats). Its frustrating enough not to be classified as firefighters; it even more frustrating not to know which agency you work for. If it wasn't for the FS shield on my truck I might really be confused.

A non R-5er
4/10 Student of Reason,

In reference to your 6 points that contributed or caused this accident, I would guess that you have not been around the Krassel program. I did not personally know Quinn, but have only heard good things about his ability. As far as the administration or contracting representative, I hold these folks in the highest regards as some of the finest firefighters I have worked with. The CRM aspect is unfounded, one of the firefighters on board has been awarded several air awards for his attention to detail and safe work practices (adhering to the CRM concept), I always felt safe under his direction.

I understand that it is easy to look at a report and draw conclusions about what might have happened, or who is to blame of which I cannot answer but what I do know is that the leadership of this program and the rappellers underneath them strive to make their crew as safe as possible while providing the best service possible.

Krassel endured a lot last season; they have a good foreman and fire staff that will work through this tragedy.

4/10 Over the last 12 years or so, I have had the privilege of working under Chief Don Feser on a number of major and minor incidents. The most recent was the Engine 57 Memorial. Chief Feser was always the consummate professional who allowed the folks on his team the latitude to do their jobs with minimal intervention. He was a quiet leader... not prone to lengthy discourse on any subject but he was always watching and always listening.

He "managed by wandering around" and would show up in your shop just to say, "hi". He got results in difficult situations because he backed his folks and knew that he had their back. It made making the tough decisions a little more palatable. His leadership during the Engine 57 Support effort was exemplary. Chief Don Feser made a significant positive difference in his career and I was the better for working with him.

As this fire season progresses, the Angeles National Forest Line Officer will have her hands full explaining why the fire program (and the 40% vacancies that have not been filled) on the Forest that sits next to Los Angeles has been gutted. A very sad state of affairs brought on by inept bungling on the part of the Supervisor.

NoName 66

4/10 Here is the ANF Battalion Coin. The front has an image of what the patch looks like.
Very professional. Some upper management out there should read the back (Tail side)
of this coin. I am sure Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron received one, all of a sudden it's
news to her.



ANF Fire Patch

4/10 Before everyone jumps on Jody, maybe we need to look at
her bosses, the Regional Forester and new Deputy Forester?


4/10 Ab,

Incident Command Team Meetings are this week, I think.

Don Feser's precipitous retirement leaves CIIMT 1 without an IC. He was an excellent Incident Commander and his loss is a big one. People may not realize it, but Type I ICs have the equivalent status within government of a One Star General. Most here know -- but the Public may not know -- that we need incident commanders and the ICS teams they command for dealing with large fires and other disasters -like Katrina and terrorist attacks on NYC and the Pentagon. Getting to the level of Type I Incident Commander takes many, many years of fire and leadership training and experience. It takes a certain kind of no-nonsense safety attitude as well. There are not so many people with incident commander quals out there.

Type 1 Incident Command Teams
Type 2 Incident Command Teams

I would hope that whatever the cause of Don's retirement that he could be invited back and waters could be smoothed. I know that's a way "outside the box" thought. I shake my head when I think of this situation in the context of the loss of such experience and talent of one of this nation's few non-military One Star Generals.

Everyone is stressed out. Can't we all just take a deep breath?


If anyone has updated Teams info on the two team pages linked above, please let us know. Most regions that don't have year-round fire, as we do in California, have already had time to make selections and have their organizational meetings. Region 5 has no breathing room. Might be one more reason why people are "stressed out". Ab.

4/10 Well, the truth of the matter is there aren't any leaders in today's forest
service. Fire management has some leaders. The forest supervisors and
district rangers aren't leaders, they're politicians. Leaders stand on
their own two feet and work to support their organizations and their
personnel. They work to bring people together, to work together and to be
successful. They work to build team effort, spirit, and organizational
successes and achievements. There are some good leaders in fire management
who work hard to develop and support their personnel and fire management
organizations to be safe and successful in a high risk emergency work
environment. Good leaders set high standards, lead by example and support
their employees in achieving those standards and in being the best they can

The fire management organization on the Angeles wanted to show some pride
in themselves and their fire management program. Firefighters SHOULD take
pride in themselves and their noble profession. Esprit de Corps, team
spirit, organizational pride and excellence. Their fire management leader
lead by example.

I think it is great that they had patches and wallet badges to show a sense
of pride in their organization.

I saw the letter from the forest supervisor. It was disgraceful.
Unfortunately, I am not surprised. That is exactly the non-leadership that
exists in the forest service today. Why would anyone who leads an
organization or team not be doing everything they could to be the best they
could be, to set the example and support their team or program with the
best of everything? For those who wonder where the leadership is from the
region or the washington office or their own local forest, there isn't any.
If there was, the LEADERS would be DOING something. But they are not, so
there isn't any.

About 4 years ago, I was called in to the forest supervisors office on my
forest and told that fire personnel could not wear the forest service
uniform, nor could we use the radio unit identifiers system (Division,
Battalion, etc.) that my AFMO and I had proposed to incorporate on our
forest, nor could we wear collar brass. I was given a letter that states in

"To refresh memories, common, plain language and terminology will be used
over the radio for this forest. Last names will be used for sending and
receiving radio messages. No titles (i.e. Captain, etc) will be used in
place of common, plain terms, except for the use of engine numbers. Through
recent discussions, the fire organization may be creating an appearance of
being separate from other resource areas. By creating new radio terminology
for people along with call signs, the effect will only increase the
division between fire and the other resources. This common language also
helps with incoming fire resources, knowing who's who, communication
between Volunteer Fire Departments, and assists with dispatching and local
knowledge......The wearing of specific uniforms and clothing pins of rank
causes a breakdown in the appearance of operating as one seamless agency.
All units have gone to personally purchasing unit T-shirts. This should be
the norm for uniforms. An alternative is to wear nomex

This did cause a big drop in morale on my district. How the letter ever
made it through HR I don't know, telling certain FS employees they can't
wear their agency uniform is illegal. We had no support from our own forest,
nor S.O. fire 'Leadership." Shortly after, we began wearing the USFS
uniform again and this past year we have gone to using the unit identifiers
on the entire zone. But battles like this still continue.

So the old adage to the forest service applies, "Lead, Follow, or get out
of the way." What is happening on the Angeles is following a continued
pattern of negative support for fire management. Forest Service
administration: If you won't support fire management and don't want to deal
with it anymore then move fire into it's own federal fire department.

Battle on Friends,
Old C-Rat

4/10 Krassel N355EV

Over the last few days I've been reading some of the posts regarding the loss of the Krassel bird last year. Like a lot of folks on here, I had friends aboard as well. It's always a tough time reading the NTSB reports and trying to decipher them; are they blaming the crew, was it reckless flying, was it mechanical failure. Regardless of the findings, there is always, always a desire to place the blame on something. Like "D" said, our end desire should be to try and find the truth. So I'd like to address a couple of the issues that have been posted:

1. Unsafe and Unchecked Behavior by the pilot: Prior to this accident, I heard nothing but great things about Quinn's ability to handle the helicopter as a professional. I also don't believe that "Sleigh Rides" or negative G maneuvers qualify as unsafe or hot-dogging. The Krassel Crew has had experience with poor aviators before, and knowing the leadership personally, they would not allow for reckless practices or attitudes to be a part of their organization.

2. Flying In the "Death Curve". Anyone in the helicopter business knows that the most critical times in rotary-wing flight are takeoff and landing. In mountain flying, it's critical to minimize an aircraft's time spent in the backside of the curve. One of the best ways to do this is to perform an Airspeed-Over-Altitude takeoff. This is when the pilot purposely drops down the side of a ridge to gain airspeed to gain Effective Translational Lift ie Natural Flight vs Mechanical Flight. It is absolutely possible that Quinn was trying to do this and might not have seen the snag due to haze. And we all know that snags are difficult to see especially when they're mixed in with live timber.

3. Open Cargo Baskets. I was surprised to see them on N355EV. I remember them on Llamas and Allouettes, but we used Cargo-Net bungees to secure gear, with extra bungees over the top. With faster and more powerful helicopters available I can't believe they're still in use.

4. The fact that the helicopter was "functioning properly". This is a statement that NTSB uses when there was no mechanical failure that caused the accident and that the manufacturer is not to blame, ie main rotor separation due to the "jesus nut" falling off. This does not imply that foreign object damage did not cause the tail rotor to fail thereby requiring the pilot to initiate an autorotation.

5. The Location of the Wreckage. Flat out, this was some darn good flying from what I can tell.

I'm no expert by any means, nor do I claim to be. The fact is I lost an incredible friend, and the USFS lost some outstanding folks. When I first heard about the accident, and the location of the wreckage this is what I figured happened:

Something (probably an empty cubie) left the basket and took out the tail rotor right after takeoff. The pilot reduced the collective to minimize torque effect and initiated an autorotation. While doing this he nosed the helicopter over in order to build up airspeed for his Rotor RPM and touchdown flare. Both of these actions will result in a loss of altitude possibly causing the snag strike. As he quickly scanned the area for an LZ, he found the only option, on the road. If he did not have the glide distance to make it, he may have tried to ease in a little extra collective/cyclic because having a little less rotor RPM was better than a perfect auto into the trees or river. The final result was the helicopter made it to the LZ, but lacked rotor RPM for a full cushion at the bottom causing a hard landing and the resulting fire. Not a cause of hotdogging, poor pilotage, or CRM; just a good pilot making a split second decision which resulted in an unfortunate accident.

Our society is so hel*-bent on blaming someone for everything, whether it be the government for Katrina, or Californians for traffic in Idaho. I believe this was an accident, and that the pilot and crew played with the cards they were dealt, and they played as best as they could.

Please don't resort to immediately placing the blame on a "reckless pilot" and a "crew who didn't speak up about it". Those of us who knew these individuals know that they were all professional and don't deserve the slander. Do like "D" said, keep searching for the truth...

4/10 Tribute to Angeles National Forest Chief Don Feser

Chief Feser Thank you for you many dedicated years of service and for all you have done during your career to better Firefighter excellence and safety You are a true professional!

Question To Ponder

Lets ponder the question if we were truly a Fire Organization who wore patches and had badges that identified us as Firefighters, would Don Feser still be working Chief of the Angeles National Forest today????

Forest Service Law Enforcement has it own patch and badge. They wear their patches and badges proudly. Forest Service Law Enforcement has their own classification and they work for Law Enforcement. They had to be taken out of control of Line Officers to achieve the recognition and classification.

Perhaps the Forest Service Fire Organization needs to be removed from control of the Line Officers so we can have the recognition and classification that Law Enforcement has. Then we can wear are fire patches and badges with pride and honor.

All the Angeles Firefighters looked extremely professional wearing their Angeles fire patches at the Esperanza Memorial. There were many heads turning to look and those patches and many compliments about how professional they looked.

Proud To Be An FWFSA Member
4/10 Just saw the note to the DRs and Fire Leadership on the Angeles NF in California from the Forest Supervisor, and was curious: does anyone out there know what his/her wildland fire quals were/are? Seems that being Forest Supervisor on the Angeles ought to require some pretty strong fire background (remember the fire backgrounds of former Angeles Forest Supervisors George Roby and Mike Rogers in the 1990s, and the Angeles NFs historical record of major wildfires??).

My comments are not intended to minimize the authority of a Forest Supervisor to issue such a memo, but rather to gain knowledge about his/her background in Fire to think that such a note is needed and appropriate.


4/10 I suppose all the R-5ers will now have to remove the Engine 57 Memorial
Decals from their engines as they're not "Official and Approved" insignia.

AK Old Timer
4/10 All,

I agree that letter from the Angeles NF Supervisor lacked a lot of tact, but it leads me to believe that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. It is a story I will probably never hear. I do know she is technically correct on both the badge and patch issue.

Personally, if a badge or patch will help firefighters (sorry, Forestry Techs) in California do their jobs, then issue it to them. I am out here in North Dakota, and don't have a use for a badge. Different areas have different issues and you fight fire according to the area you are in. I have heard (please correct me if I am wrong) that in certain areas of CA, FS firefighters can be called to respond to a variety of incidents that we would usually be responded to by structure firefighters. Something on the uniform to separate highly trained forestry techs (fire fighters) from your run of the mill forestry techs would come in handy.

There is also the esprit de corps issue. Army and Navy (don't know about the Marines or Air Force) all have unit badges( Army) or rockers (Navy) that are worn on various uniforms to show that a person is associated with a certain unit or ship. I have rockers from all of my past ships and shore billets. It would be a point of pride for me to have a patch from my past FS stations.

LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) have a variation of the FS uniform. Unfortunately, the Forest Service does not have any designated firefighters, so a variation of the uniform would not be an option. I think getting a designation for wildland firefighters would solve many issues, this one included.


4/10 Why as Forestry Technicians are we allowed to pay into
Firefighter retirement? Who else pays into Police and Fire
retirement? Gee sounds like a big brother scam.

Old Forestry Technician

4/10 AB,

I just read that disgusting posting Angeles FS supervisor Jody Noiron about threatening personnel with disciplinary action and termination for an item that identifies a special division and the most well-known part of the Forest Service.

Does anyone have a photo of what this "unauthorized badge, wallet, and patch" look like? I'd like to see what Ms. Noiron is upset about, and how it is so bad for the Forest Service.

AB, can you find this patch and badge and post the photo on They Said? Thanks.

4/9 I find it very sad that when I attended the Engine 57 Memorial Service, my
Forest Supervisor actually walked down the line of ANF Firefighters
standing at attention and thanked us for the great job we were doing as
Firefighters. Hundreds of us heard the same lip service that the
politicians and Dale Bosworth gave (even calling us Firefighters). I feel
for the crew of Engine 57, let's not let their passing go unheeded. We all
should make a stand and find other alternatives along with Casey Judd's
(FWFSA) fight. The question is how? Just when you'd think that things may
get better, she still won't budge when it comes down to the reclassification of
the 0462.

Yes I heard the same thing about the patches and badges. Well
the truth of the matter is, Don isn't leaving... He's gone. There are
some rumors floating around but they all seem to hold the same story line.

>From what I hear Chief Feser abruptly resigned without any signs. What I
did hear is that he was threatened with possibly three days on the beach.

If I were in his shoes, I'd do the same. I do hope that Chief Feser finds
it in himself to help continue the fight for what we deserve. I don't know
if a resignation is along with retirement is grounds for signing some
piece of paper stating that anyone should not speak for five years. Chief
Feser did many things to shed some light on the current situation. His FAM
meetings were constantly criticized every year by the Forest Supervisor and
Fire Management from other districts. I wish everyone great luck in what
ever they do with this job or actually moving on to help provide for their
families in other careers. I for one will stay on this life raft and
figure a way to assist in the fight for what is rightfully ours. It may
not happen in my career, but possibly in the younger generation. Hold your
heads up and fight hard... Those of you who are leaving, fill out those
exit interviews and state exactly why you are leaving, don't hold back or
it will continue for the friends you leave behind.


4/9 With all that is being said regarding the spineless backbone of our agency
overhead (USFS). When is the next CDF open list test going to hit the streets?


4/9 Re: ANF Fire Patch


Does anyone have a photo of the patch and badge in question?
I’d like to see what they look like thanks.

Signed “Curious”

Hang on to those for eBay or for the Smithsonian. (Tongue planted firmly in cheek.) Ab.

4/9 AL,

On your second part: Universities have the same problem in recruiting faculty to California from out of the area. People's disposable income takes a big hit when the come to California to work because it's so prohibitively expensive to live here. A house costs more, gas is VERY expensive. Food is about average. Moving hits them WEALTH wise as well. There are financial incentives, but I don't think they're used very often. I think that takes line officer approval and we're in a time of want.

On your first part that you "get": People who are already here and who managed to start purchasing a house when it was more affordable are reluctant to leave. As you say, understandable.


4/9 Mellie,

I've also heard that 90% of fire manager hiring is done locally.
Why do you think it's that way?


Ab, please add this clarification:
I have heard that people get hired and they are then not willing
to leave the forest or the district to advance. The applicant pool
coming from out of the area is small too. I get the first part but
not the second part.

4/9 It is sad to hear that Don Feser is leaving. But if the rumors I hear are true, then I commend him for taking a stand. I only wish he would address the masses and maybe that's coming.

The rumor I had heard is that the ANF Forest Supervisor asked that all new fire patches, fire badges w/ wallet and ID cards be collected from all ANF employees and handed to her. All names of employees who had such items to be written down and placed on her desk. I attached a copy of her letter (pdf file) that has been circulating around (hopefully Ab can insert). She states that these items are illegal and maybe she's right (I'm not sure) but her lack of tact is the issue. With all the retention issues already at hand, the ANF Fire Management Team had the foresight to do what little they could to help boost employee morale. Giving back to the employee some sense of pride in their job to say they are "Wildland Firefighters"!! I know several other forest's that are/were looking into doing the same. How could Don or any other ANF fire manager face their employees and say "our leader does not think you deserve such a title or recognition as Firefighter", and strip it away. It is bad enough that our WO leaders do not recognize us as firefighters. Oh, they'll give us the lip service but when you look at our pay structure and the smoke and mirrors in regards to the regions retention issues, it's no wonder our regions artery is turning from green to red. But to have our local Forest Supervisor (s) to do this just lowers that bar even more. We are not a sinking ship, it sunk. The survivors are already in the life rafts and everyone else is swimming to shore wondering if another ship will rescue them. It is in my hopes that the leaders of this agency will address these issues soon. Let us know that rescue is on its way!

PS: If you're not a member of FWFSA, become one. It is time we take a stand.
I would even go as far as to let your fire managers know if you are even considering CDF. It's time we send a message (this time in BOLD )!

Praying for Change!!

I think when chiefs retire, they have to sign an agreement that they will not talk for 5 years. If Don doesn't clue us in, it will most likely be due to that kind of restriction. Ab.

4/9 TC,

I did not mean to imply that the BOD thinks that streamlining hiring will fix retention, although it might help people's frustration level. As you know in addition to retention, hiring has been another problem that has been driving everyone crazy. 500+ firefighter positions need filling in R5 alone. Hopefully soon, there will be some answers as to whether hiring can get streamlined. I believe that would lower some blood pressure and save lots of money. In addition, I believe that when people who do their jobs well can advance in their jobs, they feel like there is some personal control, some prospect for movement, and therefore some chance for hope... and possibly a career within the Forest Service side of the fire organization.

Another wrinkle to this: As we all know, 90% of R5 hiring occurs within R5 and often within the local forest, so once R5 firefighters are hired there's a hole left behind them lower in the pipeline. The R5 Fire organization requires a pipeline of trained firefighters, stepping up --from the entry level on up, with training and experience. That training and experience is costly and should get figured into any retention wrangling. As far as hiring goes, a truly open and continuous roster is what's needed and being worked on. Beyond that, we also need to keep the excellent new people we're investing the big bucks in, get apprentices converting and wanting to have a career with the FS.

As far as the critical issue of retention of mid-level managers goes, that seems pretty hopeless to me in the short term without congressional intervention and direction, both on the financial incentives side and the revision of the Hastings-Cantwell bill side. (Sorry I can't remember the bill numbers.) That said, I also do not see Congress being able to allocate more money directly to FS fire until we're done paying out the big bucks for the Iraq war. As someone said, "Decisions made in times of plenty are different than decisions made in times of want." Money would go a long way to fixing the retention problem in socal. Without more income or other taxes, our nation is in a time of want.

TC, there are lots of good heads are trying to noodle this out, and lots of managers not sleeping well; and those close to retirement, there are lots of those looking forward to a good sleep when they hit 50. You know this whole SNAFU is not simple by as long shot. In my last post I didn't mean to sound like I am making light of the retention issue. It's hard to want to try when a good chief retires precipitously leaving behind a hole in the forest fire leadership near Los Angeles as well as a Type I incident command team without an IC. It's hard to want to try when 12 people on a socal forest that burns jump to CalFire all at once or when practically all the managers on a norcal ranger district that burns bail out (or you know they're in the process of bailing). Some forests and interface residences and some socal watersheds may burn this summer. Sad potential reality. No property or woods is worth wildland firefighters' lives or injury in my opinion.

Simply put, in my last post I was, and am, hoping we can soon celebrate a more streamlined hiring process. Sometimes success on one problem can free us a little to tackle another problem, creatively and with renewed vigor. Hope is an important feeling. Hopelessness/ helplessness means one doesn't bother to try.

I hope everyone is aware that there is power in a collective grass roots association approach like the FWFSA. All voices should be heard in a democracy. Collective voices usually gain more attention. Those of you who haven't joined FWFSA, should. Think outside the box... Advocate professionally and collectively for yourself.


4/9 Hello All,

We wanted to publicly thank BRIAN JANES, KLAMATH HOT SHOT, for
his amazing physical endurance and POWER OF ONE goal to raise money and
awareness for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (www.wffoundation.org).
This morning I talked with Brian, who has a week off to recover, about what
he accomplished. We are so proud of him and wish we had more time to
get the word out about his determination to do something for his fellow
firefighters. As soon as I can get some photos of Brian's run, I'll get them
posted on our website.

Thank you Brian for your compassionate heart. We hope you are inspired to
stay in touch and help us plan more physical events. Thank you Ken Perry for
offering words of support to Brian as he trained to complete 220 miles.

Thank you to those that donated toward Brian's efforts. We appreciate the
ongoing support of our wildland firefighting community. We want to be ready
for families and firefighters that will need us this summer.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Folks, you can still contribute in honor of Brian's effort or to the 52 Club. Don't delay. Ab.

4/9 Krassel N355EV

I am a family member of one of the Krassel crash victims as well as a
wildland firefighter. I have been reading the postings and appreciate the
vigor in which this is being debated. As a family member, however, it makes
a TREMENDOUS difference to me in determining what happened with
N355EV and when.

From what I understand, the current factual report may be the last
word from NTSB on this matter. From what I understand about NTSB, they
will not put out a probable cause report unless they are sure that there
is probable cause.

From what I understand about the crash, 3 possible things happened. If
anyone else has any better/different ideas please MAKE THEM KNOWN.

  1. The pilot, for WHATEVER reason, clipped a snag on the cargo basket,
    possibly making contact with the tail rotor in the process, backhaul and
    empty cubes flew out and up through both the main and tail rotor
  2. Enough garbage and crap flew loose from the open cargo baskets to
    cause 355EV’s tail rotor to fail, then the pilot hit the snag.
  3. A combination of 1 and 2

In the end it’s a tossup between pilot error (THEY always seem to go
after the pilot don’t THEY) and unsafe/antiquated equipment. I have
personally flown in ships with open cargo baskets in the past and quite
frankly can’t believe that they are still around.

As far as trying to determine what hit the ground when, that is hard. Like
Jenks, I too have been to the crash site, hiked for hours trying to make
sense of things. In that terrain it’s just hard. I FULLY BELIEVE, like
Jenks, that pilot Quinn Stone (don’t forget he had a name) put that ship
in the only possible place for a crash landing, except perhaps the East
Fork River itself.

Please continue your debates/discussions. Please always strive for
truth. Do not ever forget that there were four people on this ship who
no longer get to speak for themselves.


Thanks for your thoughtful and reasoned post. We're very sorry for your loss. We're also sorry to have lost some fine people. Heartbreaker. Ab.

4/9 Re: The Firefighter Exodus


This week I was attending the California Fire Mechanics Academy at the US
Forest Service Training Center in Sacramento. While there I ran into one of
my old DoD colleagues who now works in R-5. We got to talking about what
was going on with the Exodus of well qualified fire personnel from the Feds to
CDF (of which I will never refer to them as CALFIRE).

I asked him what he knew of the migration to "redder" pastures, and he was
told that there was 150 Federal vacancies created by the Exodus. Recently a
long-time CDF Prevention Officer who had been on the job for almost 40
years retired, and during his party the Retirees from CDF are leaving by
the hundreds. In the coming eighteen months Battalion Chief positions will
be approaching a hundred vacancies, Fire Captains will be over two hundred
vacancies, Engineers will be close the Captain's numbers, and what is
sparking this mad dash to the finish line is 3-at-50 CALPers which could
give the employee between 80-110% of the employees after time, sick leave
conversion (which Feds like us don't get to count toward retirement), and
Annual Leave time is calculated for Final Compensation.

Tell me why at 42 I shouldn't roll the dice and try CDF or any other local,
county or State fire agency? 150 people are doing that this year.

Governor Arnold Schwartzeneggar has moved that the State's "lucrative"
retirement fund be re-evaluated and moved to a more market-performance
based fund similar to what other states have. Like the federal CSRS vs.
FERS, those in the old system get to stay there and new employees get the
lesser retirement system.

Its not just CDF having this problem with retirees. Many other large and
medium sized career fire departments in California are having similar
vacancy issues in Fire and Law Enforcement. San Francisco FD has had
hundreds of openings from vacant positions, and has had over a hundred
promotional opportunities but has not had a test in a while.

In the last year the CDF Director and the Governor opened the hiring for
Captain and above to qualified applicants who did not work for CDF. Before
that all positions above Engineer were restricted to permanent CDF
employees only, not other fire agencies. The CDFEA Union didn't like that
and fought hard to prevent the State of California from opening the list,
which they did not succeed at. Now CDF is going to benefit not only from
experienced personnel, but also gain from others OUTSIDE their agency who
could invigorate the agency with new ideas and experiences.

How can you turn down 80-100% of your paycheck for 25-30 years of service?
How can you turn down NOT BEING FORCED OUT at age 57 when you still
have the physical and mental fitness to continue as long as you like? How about
the simple choice of "I want to leave when I am ready"?

One retired Division Chief from Sacramento Metro Fire District retired last
year, and after his time in service, his sick leave accumulation, and
leftover Annual Leave he'll be pulling down 105% of his top salary for the
rest of his life. Such-A-Deal!

As a Federal Firefighter, I'll be lucky to reach 50% of salary under FERS
at 57, then when I draw on my Thrift Savings Plan at 59 they will take away
a portion of my FERS, and when I draw Social Security (if its still there
in 20 years) they will take another chunk of my FERS away. As a Federal
Firefighter I'll lose any leftover sick leave, which will probably be in
the neighborhood of thousands of hours that won't be added in my retirement
calculations. As a Federal Firefighter I am limited to 432 hours of Annual
Leave on the books yearly, which is a lot if you are on the 40-hour work
week, but is not much time on the 72-hour work week.

How about working only three days per week? The average 40-hour firefighter
works five days per week, not counting overtime during the summer months on
fires. There is nothing like having four quality days off for yourself and
your family, versus rushing home from work during the 5-day week and
rushing through your weekend with the family.

Now we see a lot of Federal Fire Management Overhead are either going
somewhere else for greater rewards and benefits, or simply retiring, and
who knows where they will be working for that extra fire paycheck after

I'm worried about the trend of moving to an all-contract fire system on our
federal lands, the forcing out of all federal wildland fire suppression and
overhead and depending solely on a contractor. What happened to the days
when the private contractor was CALL-WHEN-NEEDED (CWN), not this
granting of moneys to staff private crews or engines to staff 40-hours per week
during fire season? "We'll call you when we have a fire, and not before".

I don't care what the opinion is about Contractors, other than FEDERAL
RESOURCES. To do otherwise simply leaves it open to corruption and no

The Federal Fire Managers need to stand up and start telling Congress and
Management what you need to do the job, which is good quality people, with
good qualifications, earning a decent wage for the area they work in, who
are supported by their leadership.

I hope you Forest Service Fire Overhead retiring be not afraid to speak out
publicly about the problems going on in Federal Wildland Fire Management.


4/9 I'm concerned over the BOD's bright idea that cleaning up the hiring
process is going to fix the retention problem. Well, it's not. It's way
to little and way to late. How are we going to hire quality folks to fill
Captain and BC positions? They're just not out there. Sure we can hire
new folks, but it will take years to get them trained up in order to
replace the folks we're currently losing, and when we do get them trained,
we'll most likely lose them also.

4/9 So there is still some confusion out here in R5.

Did Chief Don Feser retire or is he still around for a few weeks?
And was it because of a meeting with the ANF Forest Sup?


4/9 Well stated Fire Whirlz,

I got to say, you said it correct. Don't forget that there still is
chipping to do on the Angeles while the refresher training is still taking
place. We need an additional 20% chipped or burned before fire season.
Particularly when we are out of prescription "So why are you guys burning?"
When did fire season end? or did it? So maybe you can help me give
mental therapy to management who has undergone the typical overhead
lobotomy. By the way? I am told we are to staff all engines 7 days. Hey
Overhead! There are more firefighters leaving and you don't even show any
concern, well just keep chipping and quit thinking rationally . Oh by the
way, skip any fire training that will help prevent the green horns from
getting killed be cause you need to clean toilets at the campgrounds and
build signs while you're at it. I guess we're all starting sound like a
broken record. By the way, I have three firefighter on my engine ready to
hit the trail as soon as they get word from their new employer.

"Jesu*, can you take the time to throw a drowning man a line"?

RAP again
4/8 Angeles National Forest Fire Leadership,

The Angeles Fire Management is a sinking ship! With the loss of Chief Don Feser and with the pending retirement of Assistant Chief Don Garwood. This leaves the Angeles Fire leadership in serious trouble. Most of the other Chief Officers are at or near retirement age, some are nearing mandatory retirement age in 2 years or less. It is apparent that Forest Service Management is in a reactionary mode on the Angeles National Forest and the time wedge is closing quickly to deal with this leadership issue.

Where is the leader's intent? Chief Feser abruptly retires and no leaders intent is given to the firefighters on the Angeles National Forest. We are left to ponder why Chief Feser abruptly retired!!!!! The rumors are flying and here we sit pondering, where is the leadership?

It brings to mind who's on first? By Abbott and Costello

"Costello: Look, you gotta pitcher on this team?
Abbott: Now wouldn't this be a fine team without a pitcher.
Costello: The pitcher's name.
Abbott: Tomorrow.
Costello: You don't wanna tell me today?"

- Who's on First? by Abbott & Costello


All Hands on Deck Man! Man The Life Boats!

Who's On First?

4/8 Kenneth (BDF ADFMO):

Look again at the T&D web site, under "T&D Pubs" and then under the Safety topics: you'll find pubs and videos about "Fed NR field employees working along the Mexican Border"; "Personal Safety Awareness for Field Employees"; "Personal Safety in Remote Work Locations"; and "Violence Awareness Training for Field employees".

All these are intended to help Natural Resource workers in the field deal with threats, intimidation, physical attacks, etc while on the job.

vfd cap'n:

Thanks for the links to the Buchanan reports. A word of caution (admittedly biased) about the OSHA report: it was their (OSHAs) 1st ever wildland fire fatality, and some of us on the USFS Investigation Team thought that they were just a bit ignorant and overbearing at the time. One OSHA guy, who had never been on a wildfire, demanded that we deliver "ALL fire training materials" to them. Wise Ass Dick responded: where would you like to park the semi-trucks and trailers that will be coming from NIFC. "What's NIFC" they responded? We got over the lack of mutual loathing and insults, but the USFS argued strongly, in writing, about their findings.

Dick Mangan

4/8 What are numbers going to do to change the minds of the RO and WO? The Captains' group and the FWFSA have been supplying numbers and data for the past few years and where has that gotten us? We have given facts and numbers on retention, falling down stations, and hiring to our Forest Supervisor and we keep getting told,
  • there is either no money or
  • we are the highest paid FS employee's in the nation, so why do we need to get a raise?

I also hear about educating Congress. Well how much educating do they need? The FWFSA has been educating Congress for the past 4 years and they don't get it either, maybe because there is a war going on right now and they won't pay attention until one of their houses burn down in a fire. Don't get me wrong: Casey you are doing a hell of job. If our leadership cared half as much as you do, we wouldn't be having this discussion and employees wouldn't be leaving.

Numbers, I am tired of hearing about supplying numbers. They don't need more numbers or facts, they already have them. It's time for the FS leadership to pull their heads out of the sand and start doing something about it.

Here's fact that I see: if nothing gets done after this year to help out our LOYAL EMPLOYEES, then nothing will ever be done and the Forest Service will be a thing of the past because of all the people that will be leaving to go to an organization that takes care of their employees and can run a fire organization.

Now is the time to see what the RO and FLT are all about. This is a big test to see if they do something or if they keep sitting by while our organization keeps bleeding.


Hemorrhaging. Ab.

4/8 Wahh!

R5 - welcome to what SZ feels on a continuous basis in losing quality people to other agencies. This is nothing new for us down here. Now the rest of the region got stung and it becomes an issue and a crisis for others. Remember what we were told? "IT'S NOT THE MONEY!" I think this is called denial. Well now, what is the FS leadership going to do about it? Let's see, hire like we did when MEL came around. This was recommended before, but now it's a brilliant idea because the DOA, I mean BOD thought of it. BRILIANT! BRILIANT! Nice going, just figure how to get though the all the hoops to get the jobs out sooner than later. Hey, here's a novel idea, maybe you should get the jobs out on the street that have been sitting for almost two years now. I hear that CDF is now putting out announcements for BCs, hey CDF, or I mean CALFIRE, tell your recruiting officers that you can get some very well trained, well experienced FFTs with loaded red cards from the USF of S. You see, this is what LA County does, Kern County does, Burbank Fire does, LA City does, and Santa Barbara County and City does and so on. But remember, you don't have to tell them it's the money, fed employees will come just because you have pretty red trucks, we don't care about the money, we're idiots.

Does anyone out there think that the FS leadership should take any responsibility for the big loss of quality, well trained, well experienced people we just lost? I think so. I think heads should roll! You see they knew it was coming and just sat on their thumbs. Maybe that's why we were told it's not the money, since it's not the money why would the FS care that we lost and will continue to lose quality people that take MONEY to get them so well qualified. Since our leadership doesn't think it's the money, which in turn creates our retention problem, by the way, the other agencies probably think we're fricken idiots for such remarks and can go right to their unions and tell them that we can save MONEY by opening our announcements to outside agencies and save us a bunch of MONEY in training them. BRILLIANT! BRILLIANT! Plus, we can tell them we have pretty red trucks. Those fed employees will jump right over to ride in them because they don't care about the MONEY!

You watch now FS. Your chiefs will come to you soon, those of you that are left that is, and they will demand that you RUSH, through your annual training and be ready to fight fire. Oh yeah, and by the way, make sure you have a couple of engines available while you train. Don't tell the safety officers in the region that we do this, though. And don't pay attention to what we tell you about how important it is to train together, just go! Oh, by the way if you don't have enough people just use ADs. Don’t forget to cram all the required training in for your apprentices too, you know, the ones that have been laid off, make sure they get their training in when you do your other critical training, then sign them off as if they did it so you can be ready and good to go. Hey, BOD here's another idea, how about using the demo at the 5 level? Oh, I forgot we can hire GS 3’s off the streets. That will help fill the critical need. And we can train them when we want, right in the middle of fire season. BRILLIANT! BRILLIANT!

And ____________ (you fill in the blanks and continue the post)

I think I’m beginning to understand why the Chief on the Angeles left.

Signed FireWhirlz

4/8 The Interagency Dispatchers' Workshop held in Kensleyville, CA this year held a silent auction to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The dispatchers all brought something from their area in California to be auctioned off, we had everything from coffee mugs to old Smokey Bear prevention posters, a total of around $640 was raised and will be sent on to the Foundation. Thanks to all the dispatchers that made this happen.

On other bits of information, we heard the count of Forest Service folks heading to the CALFIRE side is up to 67 now.

R5 Dispatcher
4/8 As for the retention here on the Angeles? Who cares where they are going,
the fact is that we have more people leaving than the Forest Supervisor and
Fire Management care to know. I can name at least 15 Firefighters that
plan on fleeing this agency as soon as they get the word from another job.
They are holding off to inform management because they are afraid to burn
any bridges.

We just took a recent major hit when Chief Don Feser quit, after our Forest
Supervisor yet again failed to realize the issues we face. We are also
faced with Don Garwood's retirement coming up this month sometime. Our
major backbone on this forest has been broken and we don't really have
anyone that can fill the position. The ones who can fill it, won't. This
is a dam* good job, but the current management refuses to practice what
they preach. I sometimes wonder why the mental abuse still exists. My
district still can't fill AFMO position for the second year, we just
received a new Ranger after the old one left due to a disagreement with
the Forest Supervisor.

Now that we are severely tapped of experience, what is left for us? Does
this mean the fight for Firefighter rights is diminishing? Has everyone
forgotten Engine 57? Driving around with memorial sticker on our vehicles
doesn't quite make things better. I'm sure that even the crew of Engine 57
would like to have become unionized through out the Forest Service. Giving
us Firefighter status will help keep more experience with us giving us the
right to be treated fairly. Is it possible that we'd ever be able to pull
away from our current Forest Supervisor and stand on our own? Can Fire
really become it's own entity? We know what the answers are, but can we
get the results we need before another Fatality occurs? I sure hope so...

I hate seeing my friends leave this agency.


4/8 Rattled,

The R5 BOD and the LOT (Line Officers' Team) got together with a HR rep
and our esteemed Gary B to work at streamlining the hiring process similar to
the way hiring was streamlined during the MEL buildup. If the program
can be made to work and it seems it could be, it should save lots of time and
money. I am optimistic about the hiring part improving.


4/8 re Copter Hover Drops

In a post from “Jenks” of 4/7 regarding helicopter hover drops, the purpose of forward air speed on a water drop, is not to improve transitional lift but rather overall effectiveness. I agree with Jenks that the amount of forward speed carried in a “running” helicopter drop does not significantly enhance flight safety.

It is my opinion that in most cases, hover drops are a waste of water, valuable flight time and increase risk. A hover drop puts too much water in one spot……as you know, some of the water is effective while the rest does little but cascade down the hill and the hover drop can be a hazard to ground personnel. A water drop with forward speed increases the line length, frees up the drop area for aircraft following and helps to eliminate the increased risk created by aircraft orbit time as other helicopters fly around as someone attempts to talk the first drop in.

I agree that in areas of heavy fuel, in remote areas where a water source is not available, “Heli-Mopping” can deliver needed (but expensive) water. In the majority of cases though, a firefighter on the ground directing a hovering aircraft for a “precision drop” increases the risk to themselves; increases aircraft cost due to maneuvering time, slows the delivery of the water and reduces overall effectiveness.

Just my two cents,


4/8 Hi Ab,

Regarding the last round of Cal-Fire hiring, it was mentioned that MNF was the next hardest hit, even though we lost 3 people, possibly 4. It doesn't mention that on one district we are down to two captains for 4 engines, and only 1 qualified FEO. The problem, well one at least is that our hiring system is so bad that we will most likely not be able to fill any overhead opening for at least 6 months from what I've experienced. This is no way to run a professional "fire" organization. Any private business run this way would have been forced to have closed its doors long ago.

sign me "Rattled in R-5"

4/8 Um, just wow...

Rail Runner outruns wildfire (passenger train into Albuquerque NM) video

Hot Wheels

4/8 Irony,

Even at those numbers, the losses to CAL FIRE are very significant.

I have a question.

First, I know there were two data calls for the information you are presenting. One went out to the Forest FMO's to be presented at the BOD, and another went out to the Region 5 Captains group through the FWFSA.

Is there a chance that the BDF and MNF folks just did a better job of data collection? Does the FWFSA data jive with the BOD data?

It is important to remember that this is not a CAL FIRE thing that is affecting the federal land management agencies in California. We lose folks to local government and the state all of the time on a "trickling" basis. We also lose folks to areas outside of wildland fire that offer better pay, benefits, and working conditions, it is nothing new.

The CAL FIRE losses are just an example of a pre-existing problem that is not being addressed. Where it gets really scary is the number of losses is at the entry level..... GS-2 through 4 temporary firefighters and apprentices, and GS-5 senior firefighters.


FWFSA may hear about people on the list for CalFire who have not yet heard or been hired. Ab.

4/8 Dick Mangan,

I couldn't find the info on the links you provided. Am I missing something?

You said, "For folks interested in learning what to do to protect workers from violent events like happened last week at a USFS Fire Station, check out the MTDC web site under "Safety Pubs". Dr. Jon Driessen and his crew have done a lot of great work over the past 5-6 years on Videos and publications to address this issue."

Either I can't find them or they are obviously there for all to see and I cannot see them about how they relate to the firefighter who was injured on the San Bernardino

... Any direct links? I have a local connection to the issue and would like to hear more. We admitted our mistakes and took corrective action to prevent a similar event in the future.

Kenneth (BDF ADFMO).
4/7 AnotherDave,

There are 2 reports available in the LLC database for the Buchanan prescribed fire:

www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Buchanan_RX_Fire_1993.pdf (3.4 mb PDF file of OSHA investigation)
www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Buchanan_Rx_Burn_Investigation_1993.pdf (19.2 mb PDF file, USFS investigation, color photographs on last 3 pages)

vfd cap'n
4/7 Regarding the effects of CALFIRE's tapping into the Forest Service's workforce, I offer the following statistics:

There are approximately 45 (plus or minus) persons affected by CALFIRE hiring in the last month. This is substantially less that the 125 figure floating around by conjecture or innuendo. At the same time, the hits at the lower levels of the organization are contrary to the diversity goals.

---Forest hardest hit BDF 16 people. Significant!
---7 Forests not affected
---GS 11    1
---GS   9   6
---GS   8   7 Captain level
---GS   7   7 All FEO's
---GS   6 20 Squad Boss/AFEO
---others    4

CNF had 0. The ANF woes are not CDF, but local govt. MNF was the next hardest hit.

The people moving to CALFIRE seem to be the best of the best! As for the individuals moving to CALFIRE at the captain and above level this is certainly the case. Skimming seems to be the operative word.

The data is certainly not official, but gleaned from the Forests. The data is just a "snapshot" as of April 6.

To the folks moving from the FS to CALFIRE, congratulations. The experience gained through the Forest Service will be reflected someday in the new organization! The FS may lose now, but all of us will gain as folks move through careers.

Losing 50 people is not significant over the course of several years. Losing 50 people in less than a month is. Retention is real. "Cost neutral" solutions is not real and a bad constraint.

The next round --predicted to be in June-- could be more profound.

4/7 To Brian, Baja, and entire crew,

Congratulations on a job well done!
You and your support crew and all involved have truly inspired me!
You dared to dream and look what you've accomplished!
The power of one is an amazing thing.
I can't wait to get to work myself and try to do what I can to support the cause.
Thanks again for your strength, courage, pure determination and compassion!

Take care, rest up, and be safe out there this season!

Heljo 2245

Wildland Firefighter Foundation Donate NOW! Don't put it off. WFF is our safety net. Ab.

4/7 Abs

I watched Brian running for six days through the windshield of my pickup, as I was fortunate enough to be a member of his support team. What I witnessed during those days of Brian’s Run was unbelievable to say the least.

I don’t know if it was because I have never been involved with, or even seen a distance runner “do his thing”, but what took place over the six days of running is something I will long remember.

I watched Brian run up a six percent grade for eleven miles with hardly a break. He ran to the top of Carter Meadow Summit, starting at an elevation of 3000 feet and reaching the 6000+ mark in just over 2 hours, incredible!!!

I watched Brian in so much pain on the third day; I thought the run would be forfeited. It hurt him so much to walk….. so he ran!! I think the runners call it “in the zone”, that’s when the mind tells the rest of the body to go numb, the pain is not there…. yeah right!

He knew from the beginning that he would not fail; a testament to his training as a Hotshot, his commitment to his brothers and sisters of the fire service, and his devotion to those whom he has never met, but gives everything he is to assist those in need.

I am proud to have been there to witness this man “do his thing”. Thank you Brian for allowing me to be a part of your dream……VERY WELL DONE!!!!

Tom Bagwell
Brian Support Team Member
4/7 For folks interested in learning what to do to protect workers from violent events like happened last week at a USFS Fire Station, check out the MTDC web site under "Safety Pubs". Dr. Jon Driessen and his crew have done a lot of great work over the past 5-6 years on Videos and publications to address this issue.
www.fs.fed.us/t-d/ User Name: t-d; Password: t-d

Someone asked about the Buchanan Prescribed Fire Fatality report. It happened in USFS R-3 on the Santa Fe NF on April 22, 1993. I don't know who might have a copy of the report, but ask the Santa Fe NF and R3 F&AM.

Very frustrating event: everything was done according to the wisdom of the day, on a 16,000+ acre prescribed fire: even had a fire weather meteorologist and FBAN on the ground within sight distance of the spot where a sudden wind flare-up drove the fire into the P-J for 20-30 acres, catching a holding crew and killing one firefighter. No clear violations of the 10/18/LCES as I remember, but it's been almost 14 years since we did the Investigation.

Dick Mangan
4/7 Re Brian Janes' amazing 220 mile run!


Great Job!!! You and your support team ROCK!!!

Kudo's to you, your Team and the Klamath Hotshots!!!

Tony Duprey
Retired LP Hotshot

4/7 Lori,

I thought you'd be proud of this for the intent and get a giggle out of how it was being implemented... You got them finally working to improve the safety of the air world!!! Great to have you as a friend. It was great to talk to you today and hear how determined you are for the safety of the wildland fire community.

Avionics Airworthiness Inspector
SALARY RANGE: 52,912.00 - 82,446.00 USD per year
OPEN PERIOD: Monday, March 19, 2007 to Friday, July 20, 2007
SERIES & GRADE: GS-1801-11/12
POSITION INFORMATION: Full Time Permanent - No time limit

This position is located in Region 5, Fire and Aviation Management, in the Regional Aviation Groups. The incumbent performs aircraft avionics systems inspections, equipment inspections, applications engineering and evaluation engineering to support the aviation program. Provides advisory services to those who design, test, produce, procure, supply, operate, repair, or dispose of equipment. Provides on-site maintenance assistance on newly developed or issued equipment. Provides assistance to suppliers, users, and repairers. Maintains liaison with agencies and contractors developing the equipment for the purpose of effecting solutions to problems. Advises and assists in developing production procedures and techniques where intensive knowledge of the equipment is a consideration.


Looks good to me. I wonder though if the current GS-9 Forest Service and BLM Rangers will qualify (tongue in cheek mostly). Both the BLM Rangers and the Forest Service LEOs are in the same general inspection and compliance series and would qualify.

I wonder about a few things though:

1) Will the Forest Service allow the Airworthiness Inspectors to carry guns (tongue firmly in cheek)?

2) Why would the Forest Service use the GS-1801 series when other federal agencies are using the 1825 series for Airworthiness Inspectors?

3) Did the fact that the 1825 (Aviation Safety) series is in critical need and has a unique special pay rate established influence the decision to go with the 1801 (General Inspection, Investigation, and Compliance) series rather than the 1825 series? Was this attempt to reduce the costs of hiring 20 qualified inspectors?

4/7 Old Krassel Guy,

I don’t know that I helped very much; hopefully we started a meaningful dialogue, complete with facts and real emotion. I would be interested to hear what the investigator has to say, so I will look for your post concerning your experience. I hope you still remember the South Fork fondly.

One of my intentions was to expose the hearsay, speculation, and conjecture that is rampant in forums and is inadmissible in courts because it lacks substance. Say what you like about what may have happened; there is no conclusive proof as of yet that the uprooted snag was actually struck by the helicopter. Not coincidentally, the report references the initial-debris-point not the “initial-strike-point”. The NTSB factual report makes no real connection between the crash and snag other than scraps of paper and magnetic headings. Which are hardly proof that a fiberglass and composite machine impacted a dry and hardened snag. While the cubies contained paint chips and corresponding slashes consistent with impacting the tail rotor paddles. The conclusion that the program was unsafe and negligent based on interviews that revealed a perfectionist pilot that enjoyed what he did and flew within the limitations of the aircraft is disingenuous to the dialogue that most of you claim to revere.

As for the height/velocity curve and helicopter missions, the delusion that helicopters can complete a mission without spending considerable time in that curve is na´ve. As an example, recently pilots have been asked to refrain from hover drops and instead make drops while using some translational lift. In order to make more than a degree or two of difference in the curve, the pilot would have to make a drop, assuming a 100’ foot longline, at a speed that relegates the drop useless because of dispersion. In turn the pilot is asked to return and repeat the process. As is commonly known helicopters are designed to operate within the height/velocity curve, if a mission can be accomplished outside of the curve; you need an airplane not a helicopter. Don’t patronize helicopter pilots by asking them to fly a few knots faster while doing bucket work just so we can feel pro-active. If you really want to help, ensure they receive benefits commensurate with the risks they take.

Obviously I am too close to the situation to think objectively, but in the final analysis, is any flight really necessary when pilots or crewmembers perish? The risk assessment looks pretty foolish at a funeral; indeed most of our checklists preclude any action at all. As long as we are sentient people, motivated by goals and objectives, deadlines and expectations we will undoubtedly lose family members, friends, and co-workers in this dangerous profession we have chosen.


4/7 RD,

I have been there and done that. It is OK to lash out at me, I fully understand your pain... I am an easy target since you don't know my background, intentions, and the losses I have had over the last 20+ years as a wildland firefighter. You also don't know the research I have been doing to make things better.

If you want to talk with me, Ab can put you in touch. If not, I will understand.... but please don't slam me without facts.

I wish you the best and hope your pain eases in the future..... It will... The best thing is to reach out and talk with friends and families with similar experiences and goals.

I am sorry if you misinterpreted my posting as assigning blame... My posting was intended for corrective action and lessons learned.

I wish you the best and apologize to you for any misunderstanding.

I almost gave up my career when you said , "With your 6 points of blame you pointed out, keep your thoughts and prayers to yourself. The hole that needs to be plugged is your mouth. No one knows for sure what happened, and it does no good to guess. As a coworker of the victims, I resent what you have said."

Right now.. the thoughts of three bad days and an early exit (retirement) are on my mind....

Student of Reason
4/7 Has Anybody heard anything with the BOD mtg happening so far this week.

4/7 Lobotomy and All

Is there any new info on the incident on the San Berdo attack? We have out stations on
our district and would like to use this for a Safety Meeting topic. Haven’t seen anything
since Lobotomy’s post.

4/6 Day 6- it is finally over. The last day of the run was a great day, not pain just tired but a great showing by the home unit and fellow crew members. Left at 8am and finished about 2:30pm. Coming through Yreka was great and seeing all the people at the Supervisors office was what the whole event was about. Really glad to have finished and couldn't have done it without my support crew, all the help the forest provided in lodging, and everyone one who came out, waved, or even thought about us as we covered mile after mile. Special thanks to Sylvia( heathers mom) for coming all the way from New York and representing the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. I truly hope that our efforts pay off big time. Now planning on taking some time off from running to recoup and heal up a bit and be ready for fire season. Hope to meet more of you out on the line this year. Take care, especially of your crews.

Brian Janes
Klamath Hotshots

Thanks for the great and successful effort. Readers, go to the Foundation website (top) and donate in Brian's name and/or sign up for the 52 Club, if you haven't already done that. Ab.

4/6 Mission Complete!!

Brian completed the last 30 miles of his amazing 220
mile run
today in Yreka. With bells ringing, sirens
going, horns blowing, people cheering, and friends and
fellow hotshots running close by, he ran under the
flag and through the ribbon. He wasn't even winded!
A giant chocolate milkshake awaited him as well as
lots of congratulations.

I had the pleasure of presenting him with a plaque
honoring his amazing feat (feet?!!?!) on behalf of the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation. After all, we are
why he was running, and it was the least we could do.
We are all so proud of Brian, and pleased he made this
personal journey in order to let everyone in and
around the Klamath know about this wonderful
organization that has helped so many, even when they
didn't know they could be helped.

A piece of my heart will always remain here in this
beautiful country where Heather chose to live, work
and ultimately, release her spirit. It was an honor
for me to be able to share this with all of you.

Way to go Brian!

Sylvia Kratzke
Heather's Mom

ps... the 52 Club needs YOU!
4/6 RD:

I too sympathize with your emotions because I was there and was integrally involved in my own emotions and those of everybody around me for weeks afterwards. The whole thing sucked big time and as a retired person I have kept myself out of the fire business ever since.

One of my best friends in fire, also retired, was the first person on the scene. He has stated that he will never fight fire again. It shook him up that completely.

Anger is a part of the grieving process. Acceptance is the end of that process. We will only achieve acceptance if we can continue to endeavor to try to prevent these types of accidents from happening again. With that in mind, I wholly endorse Student of Reason's opinion regarding the Krassell tragedy.

We need to learn from this and move on, sooner rather than later.

4/6 RD - I can't claim to understand the depth of emotion that you feel about the loss of a co-worker, and your stated resentment about comments that were posted. But I most strongly disagree with your comments that someone who posts on this site should "plug their mouth" or "keep your thoughts to yourself". The greatest benefit of this site lies in the fact that it is an open forum where all wildland firefighters can freely express their ideas, opinions and perspectives, even if they are contrary to an Agency policy, political correctness, or opinions of others. Discussions about the investigation findings, and possible lessons learned, are essential to reducing/preventing similar events in the future, and must never be stifled in spite of the pain they sometimes cause others.

4/6 The Planning Committee for the Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire is issuing its last and final call for papers and Special Sessions.

This conference, which is scheduled for 23 – 25 October 2007, will be held in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

Currently, we are reviewing over 9 Special Session requests, and almost 70 independent research paper submissions. The quality of submissions is high. Based on the individuals requesting an opportunity to present and the quality of the abstracts we have received, we believe this meeting will greatly exceed all expectations.

Fire affects people and people impact fire – this relationship has been known for years but in some ways it has been discounted. This conference will show people how they can make a difference in redefining this relationship. For details go to:

This conference is co-sponsored by the: International Association of Wildland Fire, Interior West Fire Council, The Colorado State Forest Service, Canadian Forest Service, Alberta Forest Service, Lesson Learned Center, and Sustainable Forest Management Centre of Excellence in Canada.

4/6 Jenks,

Thank you very much for the clarification, you answer some of the questions I had which weren't thoroughly covered in the report. You obviously have some direct insight to the report and I appreciate your letting us in on it.

Frankly, some of us on the forest who are friends with crew members and Doug have apparently been getting poor information. So once again, thanks for the correct info.

Next week I will be attending training where someone involved with the investigation will be discussing the incident and report, so now, thanks to you, I have a leg up on things.

Old Krassel Guy
4/6 To Lori (regarding the Klamath incident),

I believe that in a helicopter like a skycrane (a pilot in command and a co-pilot) only the pilot in command must have over 1500 hrs. I am not sure what the requirements for the co-pilot are, but I know they are significantly less. I am sure that others on here know more of the specifics.

4/6 I can't explain how relieved I feel after reading Lori Greeno's post about people speaking up about pilots who fly with complete disregard for the rules. As a helicopter manager I have flown with MANY qualified, safe and professional pilots. Unfortunately last year I had to work with a pilot I knew to be "one of those". I finally put my foot down, filed a complaint and said I would never fly with that pilot again. As it is an exclusive use contract this complaint went all the way up the food chain and the pilot was permanently removed from the contract. I struggled with myself for quite a while wondering if I did the right thing because I took away this guy's way of living but finally decided I wanted to make sure my fellow firefighters and the pilot himself went home to their families. After reading Lori Greeno's post I am reassured I did the right thing. Unfortunately this pilot was taken off our contract but moved to another contract. He still flies. It is up to us to make sure we work in a safe environment and never ASSUME that everything is ok if the pilot is carded. As with everything in firefighting it is our professional duty to speak up when something doesn't feel right and make the right people are listening.

Here's to a good, safe season!!


4/6 jenks,

I appreciate your candor and it sounds as though you have a connection with the Krassel crew but if you read the report more closely you will see that the cubitainers were located up to 600' downslope and down the flight path from the initial debris point where the 90' snag lay uprooted. The evidence leads one to believe the a/c impacted the snag at one of the two cargo baskets which in turn emptied the basket of its cargo. I also believe we should be using cargo baskets similar to the Dart utility basket with latching lids but I don't feel that would have changed the outcome here.

4/6 jenks,

I agree with you when you said, "The NTSB factual report says little more than the helicopter was functioning properly before impact and the pilot was carded and proficient." Unlike you, the NTSB infers some important info in describing the debris field and where each item was found... the initial strike.... the 90 foot snag with a debris field extending below it for over 2000 feet. Everything else was found below the initial strike, also known as the initial debris point. If you are flying in nasty smoke to meet your mission (whether upslope or downslope), you fly low and slow..... It defies logic if you understand the helo world. It also defies logic if the debris field was over 2000 feet long.

I disagree with you when you said, "To draw the conclusions that Student of Reason does is ill-informed and pre-mature. Proficient pilots are asked to fly down ridge lines and trace terrain daily in suppression and pre-suppression duties."

jenks, fire season is rapidly approaching us. As many of us know the NTSB, their "probable cause" report may take months or years to be finalized (or never be finalized) and we can either sit on our thumbs and talk about it or we can try choose to be silent and wait for another accident before "we" comment.

While NTSB sorts things out, it is important that the simple things are corrected. You did hit on some important things that are known problems and should be corrected before fire season is "officially" underway.....

1) Flying in what some know as the "Death Curve"..... also known as what you describe as the "height velocity curve". This is the curve (varies by helicopter model and pilot reaction time) that should allow a safer landing in the auto-rotation mode. That simple thing that is taught to helicopter pilots for safety is often ignored for the mission delivery. (Latent existing factor).

2) Helicopter managers and anyone in a "Chief of Party" position should object to any unsafe action for the aircraft involved or any known hazards that exist with the flight that are not properly mitigated. (Latent existing factor).

3) Problems with external load baskets have been identified. The problems address both the use of "bungee cords" and the securing of external cargo. (Potential pre-existing latent factor not identified in the factual report).

4) I agree with you. Contract pilots on a firefighting mission should also be covered by the same support and benefits that other fallen firefighter get.

Hopefully, the final report will not address "Controlled Flight Into Terrain"...... that one always bums me out as we lose our friends and co-workers. Fingers crossed that it was something different, but he NTSB report looks the same as many other I have viewed and studied.

Student of Reason
4/6 HI all,

Well, yesterday's run was another tough one, still painful but with some great help we made it to happy camp to a great welcome from the district folks. I was overwhelmed by the number of people out there and it was great to know that there was that much support for the Foundation. Heather's mom was also out there for a portion of the day and joined us for a sweet tasting beer and pizza.

Day 5, finally real home turf. Made the longest leg today with little problems with the knee and a lot of support. Kudos to the entire Oak Knoll station for both engines and the Shots for coming out and helping from Seiad Valley all the way to Oak Knoll. It is amazing how much better you feel when you see people you know along the way. Did take a lunch break at the Seiad station to say hi and met a great lady who 's brother-in-law was killed in the 9-11 attacks. Her husband was there for over a year helping to recover bodies and ended up with the illness that is causing cancer from all the dust. She was really grateful for what we are doing and gave us a picture and a patch from the engine he was on. Amazing people all along this trip. Tomorrow is the last day (yeah), shorter, more familiar, and more support so it should be a "fun" day. Thanks again to everyone who has made this event possible.

Brian Janes
Klamath Hotshots

4/6 Ab,
I am having a problem with the WWF web site. When I click on the like for Brian's run it shuts down my system. If possible, would you post the actual location, and the estimated time for the end of his run on Friday.

Anyone have more info than below?

Brian will start and end at the Klamath National Forest supervisors office in Yreka, California, and proceed in the following manner:

April 1: 40 miles Yreka to Callahan (start at 8 a.m.)
April 2: 31 miles Callahan to Cecilville
April 3: 35 miles Cecilville to Somes Bar
April 4: 38 miles Somes Bar to Happy Camp
April 5: 46 miles Happy Camp to Klamath River
April 6: 30 miles Klamath River to Yreka

4/6 Jenks,

I understand your reluctance to assign blame...
Nonetheless, how do you explain the uprooted tree that was initially contacted? Someone should have spoke up and said " hey, this ain't right!" or "No! old man Scary says we shouldn't be doing this!" "Sleigh rides", joy rides, etc. should be an immediate "Watch-Out" and not tolerated, regardless of how proficient the pilot is. This was not a mission that was so important to put those 4 people in a high risk situation with no regard for the common safety precautions that we should all take prior to boarding any aircraft. I think that the NTSB investigation is pretty straight to the point and leaves little to the imagination.

In regards to your statement; "Proficient pilots are asked to fly down ridge lines and trace terrain daily in suppression and pre-suppression duties." is no excuse and is bordering on ludicrous. A risk assessment analysis needs to be done prior to any flight that that is considered "high risk", i.e. any flight that is planned less than 500 AGL. Was it an acceptable risk for the mission? I don't think so. To use the excuse that pilots are asked to fly certain profiles for certain missions is using a huge loop to justify the result of a catastrophic outcome and should not be tolerated in the aircraft or any other world.
I am sorry for the loss of life and I hope the survivors can find some resolve in the NTSB investigation.
My family keeps the families of the survivors in their prayers.

Capt. Evil

4/6 Student of Reason,

With your 6 points of blame you pointed out, keep your thoughts and prayers to yourself. The hole that needs to be plugged is your mouth. No one knows for sure what happened, and it does no good to guess. As a coworker
of the victims, I resent what you have said.


4/5 Ab and all,

I have a couple of things that have been on my mind lately.

I believe the new (2000) nwcg guidelines say that national courses can now be passed at a 70% scoring rate. I believe 590 is probably still 80%, I also believe that certain courses may need to have a higher success rate than 70% for the candidate to be successful on the job.

Cadres need to be able to demand more from students than nwcg does, only not less.

Do you want someone who does 'C' work to analyze your fire behavior?

Secondly, Dick Mangan mentioned a while ago about the lessons learned from fatal and near fatal fires, anyway he mentioned the Buchanan burn and I was wondering if that report is posted somewhere or does he know where a person could read about it?


4/5 Thanks all for any news on Brian Janes' run.

Brain- I am absolutely amazed and impressed. I would have never guessed in the times we went hung out at the track or bummed around hanging out with your sister that I would see you take on such a noble cause with such personal persistence. You remind me of Meb K (Olympic silver medalist in the marathon) from high school in that you are just running and running and running.

To all- here is a guy in his 20s making a significant difference. I don't have a lot of spare cash but I will be making a donation in honor of this run. I may be out of the industry but you are still all my family.

Take care Brian and keep sending in those updates.

Victoria S from San Diego

4/5 I hardly know where to begin when it comes to the aviation accidents that have occurred in the past 2 years. I have so much to say that I hope I can only get it all out in a way that makes sense.

When I got the final NTSB and FS report on John's accident, I was stunned and totally PO'd. To find out that the pilot only had 286.00 hours of the required 1500.00 flight time floored me. Reading further, I came to understand that it was a failure on many levels that put him, John, and Charles in this situation. It started with the contractor hiring him and not verifying his flight times, continued on with the pilot not being above board and signing the form confirming that he had the correct flight times, and ended with the pilot inspector never reviewing the pilot's logbook.

I figured that this was a one time occurrence, that certainly more careful checks were made with other pilots, but to my dismay, I have learned that this has happened at least 3 more times since then. One of them was the accident that claimed the lives of the 2 pilots on the Klamath. While theirs was due to catastrophic failure of the ship, it was still found that one of them didn't meet the 1500.00 hour requirement. I now wonder how many of you are out there flying with pilots that don't meet the hours and don't even know it.

I did get in contact with NIFC and expressed my concerns about this issue. They have re-written the contracts making the contractors responsible for verifying hours and past employment. Now I'm hoping that they will take it one step further and make it mandatory for any contractor that is found using pilots that don't meet the requirements to automatically lose any contracts they may have with the government and not be allowed to bid on them ever again. Maybe then they will realize that they can't put our loved ones in danger in the chase for the almighty buck.

As for the Krassel incident - we have all known hot dog pilots. Obviously this was well known to the folks up there. Why didn't anyone say anything about this pilot?? Is it ok to put other people's lives in danger just to show off? Don't let people get away with this kind of behavior just because you don't want to rock the boat! Be the one who saves lives if you ever see behavior like this.

I could go on and on about how many things I think need to change in the aviation world, but I will vent my anger at the right people for as long as I have to in order to get some changes made.

Lori Greeno
4/5 Been reading all of the problems with retention here in Region 5. I haven't been able to promote for over 2 years now. We also have had an opening in which I am qualified for for about a year and a half. The position still isn't filled and I am surprised they haven't called me for the job. I have heard that our forest wants to give us a 50% of our base to retain employees. Of course this is nothing but talk for now. I will believe it when I see it. In the past 1 1/2 years I am considering on leaving the F.S. They haven't shown that they want to keep employees. I have given over 110% at my job while I see others doing not much of anything except collecting a paycheck. as the F.S. we are not getting anywhere. I can see why people want to get out of the region. There is no incentive to stay. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, the F.S., the people I work with, and the hard work, but I have a family to support. I am gone weeks at a time with no incentive to stay. Here lies the problem from a firefighter's point of view.

4/5 Old Krassel Guy,

The NTSB factual report says little more than the helicopter was functioning properly before impact and the pilot was carded and proficient. To draw the conclusions that Student of Reason does is ill-informed and pre-mature. Proficient pilots are asked to fly down ridge lines and trace terrain daily in suppression and pre-suppression duties. Indeed IR flights consistently require the pilot to fly under the height velocity curve for little or no benefit to the management of the incident. For now the truly heartbreaking detail is the wire mesh baskets that were attached to the skids for cargo.

Open baskets are light, strong, and ideally suited for heavy loads like saws, secure IA packs, and Bambi Buckets. However their shortcomings are evident when loads like garbage, empty MRE boxes, and cubitainer bladders are secured by bungees. I have witnessed several pilots shake their head and complain the baskets were dangerous, claiming that foreign object debris kills. The baskets look good on paper for the vendor, the government, and the district; less weight, more space, and greater allowable at the same cost. It is clear from the findings that several cubitainer bladders, stored in the baskets, impacted the tail rotor, subsequently severing one paddle. An imbalance and catastrophic chain reaction resulted leaving the pilot with limited control over a severely damaged helicopter.

Even though 355EV was falling apart around him, the pilot was able to put the aircraft in the only open space available, the only spot that would give anyone a chance. Having seen the crash site in the steep, timbered, and unforgiving East Fork drainage; I am confident that the aircraft came to rest on the road because of the shear skill and desire of the pilot to protect his passengers and friends. Though he was not considered a firefighter and will receive no death benefits from the government because he was a contractor. Really sad that pilots who perish while on duty at an average rate of 5 a year are not compensated. Their families should receive the same support and benefits of line fire fighters if they are asked to take the same risks, and indeed more, as the rest of the fire community.


4/5 Re: Firefighter injured on the San Bernardino NF today

Today, a firefighter was injured while visiting a station closed down for the winter to do routine project work. As the firefighter arrived at the station, he thought he saw someone standing near the side of the station.

After the firefighter parked, he walked to the back of the station and noticed a broken window and went to investigate. As he approached the broken window, a man with a knife jumped out and began attacking him.

Luckily, the firefighter only received defensive slashing wounds to both wrists. He was treated and released at a local hospital with only stitches and a tetanus shot being needed. Crestforest FPD and Forest Service employees provided initial EMS care.

Numerous sheriffs deputies, a sheriffs helicopter, a FS Patrol Captain, a FS LEO, a FS LEO/Canine Unit, a Special Agent, and others actively searched the area for the person responsible for this attempted breaking and entering, and attack on the Forest Service firefighter. As of this posting, the assailant is still at large.

Lessons Learned:
1) Keep security gates closed and locked when the compound is not occupied.
-- Prior known problems at this fire station. The gates were unlocked and wide open.
2) Make sure that the building alarm system is activated.
-- The building alarm system was de-activated. It would have provided and audible alarm and an alert to law enforcement and to the FICC dispatch center. The audible alarm would have also signaled the firefighter to retreat.
3) If unknown persons are on a closed compound when you approach, move back... reassess... and call for the assistance of law enforcement before investigating....
4) District fire management needs to ensure that the above items are addressed and corrected. (WE WILL).

Holes in the Swiss Cheese.

4/5 Oh boy! What a wonderful welcome in Happy Camp!!

We caught up with Brian somewhere between Orleans and
Happy Camp. I was sure glad to finally meet him and
he was really glad to see me! I was truly impressed.
Here is a guy whose been running for three and a half
days, and he's chatting away with me and not even
panting or breaking his stride. What a phenomenal
physical specimen of running humanity!

We got into the escort line and followed him for
several miles into Happy Camp. A fine welcome with
lots of folks and fire trucks and horns and shouts and
whoo-hoo's. A chair, a bag of ice and a drink for
Brian, and pizza and pops courtesy of the district for
the rest of us.

And on top of everything else, he is truly a nice guy!
It occurred to us while driving in the car behind the
team watching his feet rise and fall that he's doing
this great huge thing for nothing. I mean, no gain
for himself. Out of the goodness of his heart, he is
challenging himself and all of us, to do what we can
for the Foundation. Amazing!

He's determined to finish this run, even if he has to
walk part of the way. So come on out and cheer him
on. It really keeps his spirits up on those long
lonely miles.

On to Oak Knoll, and then Yreka! He's over the hump,
and it's all down hill (not literally) from here.

Heather's Mom
4/5 Old Krassel Guy,

1) High speed down slope impacts with trees and terrain covering a large area,
2) Pre-existing dangerous behaviors that were not corrected resulting in four deaths,
3) Failure of Cockpit Resource Management (CRM),
4) Pilot error,
5) Failure of contract administrator to administer a safe contract,
6) Failure of the Contracting Officers Representative to manage a safe contract.

Lots of holes that could have been plugged to prevent the accident.

Really sad, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and co-workers of those that we lost.

Student of Reason
4/4 Ab,

It may not be as spectacular and noble as running the entire Klamath National Forest, but we did a small part to help. During the 2nd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference in Destin, Florida, March 23-27, 2007, the attendees contributed to a raffle and raised $1,088 for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF). The IAWF Board of Directors voted to match this and sent a total of $2,176 to the WFF.


Fire Geek
4/4 Would someone mind deciphering the accident report for 355EV?
I think I understand most of what is being said but not completely


Old Krassel Guy
4/4 Re: Brian Janes Run

We did have a small welcome planned at Oak Bottom for Brian and Crew, but broke a small fire right before his arrival. I did make it there myself to meet him coming in, just in time. His run is raising awareness of the Foundation, too bad we didn't have more folks on yet to be motivated, but we haven't brought most of our Seasonal and Temp Fire folks on yet. Some of us old-timers are renewing our membership in the 52 club, and a couple of new members are coming aboard. Go Brian!! (Only 2 more Chains!!)


4/4 Wow,


The editorial responses to the Shelter-in-place (SIP) proposals and actual adoption by San Diego County seem to have some really vocal and uneducated folks circling the wagons and willing to throw rocks at folks who have "nukes" to throw back....I'd let them rant some and get their frustrations out...the battle has already been won.... Maybe if they rant enough they will see their errors... I doubt it, but in any case, they don't matter and will always be a thorn in the side.... it was a local victory to be celebrated nationwide.

Day late and a dollar short for them to mount a challenge.... And not concentrating on their expertise, facts and knowledge, these folks who are actually good people... have just simply missed the point and are following a direction to a dead end road with blinders on following their leadership goals.

Is it true that the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association is providing the funding for the "monkeys" website because they don't want the land in any way developed?

I feel for them, I would hate to see additional wildlands spoiled, but they will do it anyway and we as a community can make those safer developments for everyone. If the Sierra Club and American Lung Association are opposing this, I hope they are being educated fully about why their position and their support is wrong. Personally, my monetary contributions to the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association wil not happen until they change the direction of their local leaders.

It is private land and will be developed in some way or the other regardless... goes back to the personal property rights argument from the early days of the United States....

What is of the utmost importance is that the fire professionals (federal, state, and local), the wildland fire ecologists, the community planners, the building industry, and the insurance industry came together to design safer communities in the approval process....

4/4 chameleon also of many pseudonyms,

DHS sounds good to me. They have lots of money to "throw around" without the peering eyes centered on them like the Forest Service and other federal land management agencies do when it relates to the "soaring costs of wildland fire suppression"... LOL.

Between 2001 and 2002, a major change to the FMAG program happened due to eligibility determination changes for state and local government entities wanting FMAG 75% reimbursement for eligible costs. As such, the western states became big players in the FMAG program changes.

See http://www.fema.gov/news/disaster_totals_annual.fema for how the primary demography of grant awards has changed from the inception of the program.

A small re-allocation of some of those funds (the stationary President's Disaster Relief Fund) to address recruitment, retention, and relocation to areas with higher costs and a shift to using more federal firefighters on federal wildland fires would be a huge costs savings for the federal government in the long run. It would also help stabilize the rising expenditures of wildland fire suppression funds in areas with the greatest overall costs.

The FWFSA has been saying these things for years.... OMB and Congress both need to be educated on the issue.... Anyway you look at it, some big changes need to happen.

chameleon, I feel bad for you brother, but you must have been better off than many of us when we started.... I got my first pair of Whites from my supt (long retired)....... He gave them to me out of pity for the horrible boots I came to work with when I started on the Hotshots (I still have the boots he gave me).... When I started, Whites were only $170 dollars a pair and at $5.20 per hour, I could not afford good boots until I got some good paychecks.... when I finally broke down and had saved enough to actually purchase an additional pair the next season, they had gone up to $220 a pair. That year was a good year.... I bought a good pair of boots and a 1972 Datsun pickup free and clear and they were almost the same price.... and had some spare change left over for winter to carry me over.

Ahhh... the good old days....

4/4 vfd cap'n - -

While Congress has given the USDI the authority to fund the RFA, they also gave them the discretion to NOT fund it out the $$ available to them for it and all the other items on the list. Picking and choosing priorities.

As for the Point Fire in 1995 where 2 members of the Kuna Fire Department died, seems like the final lawsuit results found the BLM about 50% liable for asking for resources that they knew were not qualified, and the Kuna Fire Department about 45% liable for sending them. How about local responsibility and accountability?

In my opinion, if a community has wildland fire protection responsibilities (like Kuna, Idaho and hundreds of other similar communities) then they should tax their own local folks for the costs of training and equipping their firefighters, instead of expecting the rest of the USA taxpayers to cover the costs.

The National Parks under USDI need fire protection $$, and the ranchers that graze BLM Lands in Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming want their summer range protected; how about the native villages in Alaska that the Alaska Fire Service protects, and the BIA fire forces in many of the western States that protect tribal lands? Don't forget the USF&WS Wildlife Refuges we all love that need fire protection too!

My State, many other western US states (and maybe your State too??) are running huge budget surpluses - why don't they pay the RFA costs?

Will there be shortfalls and escaped fires if RFA is dropped? He*l, yes! Welcome to life - - - a series of tradeoffs!


4/4 Ab and Company -

I have been some quality time looking at the NIMS draft posted here last week. Have found some concerns you all may want to comment on (comments due FRIDAY 4/6).

** Using the document from the link posted last week… See NIMS Draft page 15: "a. Role Of Elected And Appointed Officials During An Incident." This sub-section indicates that elected officials communicate directly with an Incident Commander and further that officials "may provide policy, direction, and authority to the IC." This seems most disconcerting in light of the other issues ICs are dealing with. Creation of federal (national) policy feds are directed to adhere to could cause more problems in addition to those this might create for non-feds. It seems to me that elected officials should be working primarily through MACS and/or with agency/ department leaders (except in the rare circumstances that they are designated as ICs).

** Also, I have noticed that everywhere in the NIMS where it used to say "incident management," it now says "emergency management and incident response." Not sure if it matters but it seems weird to me – anyone else?

Be safe –

4/4 Brian Janes Update from 4/3 at 1800:

Greetings all, well day 3 is down but not without some blood, sweat, and tears. Yesterdays long down hill took its toll on my IT- Band in my right knee and was quite hampering today. Spent a lot of time walking the 35 mile leg rather than running due to the pain. Also dealing with some thigh muscle strains but still moving forward as ever. The folks at Petersburg were great and so were the accommodations. Much Appreciated. Also want to thank all the kids from Forks of Salmon school for meeting us at the bridge and running with us. It was a nice bright spot on a tuff day. Made it to Oak Bottom around 4pm to a great welcome of an old captain of mine. Again, wonderful accommodations were provided which means the world after a tough day. Looking forward to tomorrow and ending in Happy Camp at the home district office after 40 miles. If anything like today, might arrive a bit later than sooner, 5-6 pm but we will make it one way or another. Again, much thanks to my great support crew for a goods day's work.

4/4 I'm hearing that Type I Incident Commander and Angeles NF Fire Chief Don Feser retired today after a meeting. Anyone know anything about this?

If true, Don's leadership and his IMTs hard work will "Always Be Remembered" for the outstanding efforts of support to the Families and Forest during the Esperanza Fire.

On another note, I heard 7-10 BDF fire employees have accepted fire positions with Cal Fire, with more to follow. What is going on RO-FAM and Line, where is the Leadership?

Most of you know that laid off Firefighters receive more money from unemployment than they do a base check with us. Adding on top of that is increased costs to commute to work. Now sit back and think about that picture for a minute........................... How pathetic is that? Now I don't need to be educated on how Ca. computes unemployment compensation, all I ask is compare this fact to any other profession, let alone any other fire agency. That is absolutely pathetic, it is a joke!. What is going on RO-FAM and Line, where is the Leadership?

While we face serious retention and baby boomer retirement issues, the RO spent time drafting and sending out a letter asking what we should rename the R-5 Women's Conference. HUH? I got a suggestion: The Region-5 We Don't Care About Giving a Living Wage to Our Women and Men Firefighters Conference of 2007 (any ideas out there? I know you do)

BOD is working on how to increase Line Officer involvement with Fire by studying how LOT membership will work. HUM, now that's a heavy subject, we will get some problems solved there this week.

Finally, for the person who spoke about turning R-5 over to Cal Fire. I can just see the Chief's testimony in front of congress on this subject. By the time Boxer and Feinstien got done with Abby after presenting that proposal, she would be leaving the room with a new tattoo that said "Hillary in 2008" on her b-hind, and then reassigned to R-6 to hand feed spotted owls for the rest of her career. Give me a break, the WO does not have the guts to face this eco-friendly Congress with that proposal. Not to mentioned the extra 125 million it would cost to have the same staffing levels.


What is going on RO-FAM and Line, where is the Leadership?
4/4 Did I hear right?

Don Feser retired? Fire Management Officer of the ANF and Type I IC of
Team 1. Please tell me I’m wrong, we can’t take a loss like this right now.


Enjoyed your post but however I don’t have 3 decades to wait. We need a
change now.


4/4 Chameleon…

((((…Standing from my chair….Long…steady….slow….repetitive clap…..))))

4/4 All,

The NTSB recently released the factual report for the 355EV accident. Here's the link:


The term "sleigh ride" has a whole new meaning for me. This story will become part of our firefighting lore.

My sympathies to the friends and families of our compatriots who perished in the crash of 355EV.

Misery Whip

4/3 RE: "Out of chaos comes creativity"

Lots of interesting food for thought in the last few weeks, both on this board and my recent experiences. I have been reading these posts with concerns about the federal wildland way, big challenges, big troubles; chaos, in some ways. I think about my dedication to this life: from the sacrifices I made buying my first fire boots and other gear as a seasonal, and moving myself around the country trying to get the job that would give me the most fire training and experience to get "in the door", to my unwitting acceptance of an office job that began my transition from "sunsets" to "skyscrapers". I didn't know it would happen this way; it's not what I set out to do. And, the initial $300 boot expense seems like pennies compared to the financial and personal investments I've made in this career since, always fighting for one thing or another.

All that being said, what I've learned is that flexibility, imagination, and an open mind are the things keeping me sane, and the things that may save the programs I continue to work within, albeit from unforeseen angles. Since leaving the field level, I have learned that while there is tremendous wisdom in the fire way, there is also a lot to be learned from others, other agencies, non-fire people, and just plain different perspectives. After all the gloom and doom I have heard from so many including myself, I have recently come across a few who are looking at this as an exciting time to be in this field; that challenges forcing change make folks think outside the box and outside possibilities into the previously inconceivable. E.g., at first, one may panic at moving the FS fire program to DHS, but then think about the other ramifications: DHS does seem to take care of its own responders (ICE, USCG, etc). Such a move could create a national fire service some have wanted for so long (… and really, would DHS employ "forestry technicians"? … perhaps potential for a wildland series…). These are out of the box thoughts of my own and no one else's… but I have heard rumors again recently of a national fire service. What's left of my ecologically-oriented mind gets a bit concerned about such rumors and possibility, but then again, I remain open-minded to the discussion. All that being said, OMB is not Congress. And, with all the re-thinking that goes on from OMB and other similar types, it wouldn't surprise me if in the next few decades that folks started to consolidate the five federal land management agencies in some manner anyway. After all, some of their original missions are well over 100 years old, and the lines between them get fuzzier as the environmental concerns of society evolve and progress (or digress). When the bottom line is consolidation and streamlining, the maintenance of five separate primary federal land management organization could be re-thought. Yes, such thoughts could cause panic and chaos, but in the long term change will happen anyway somehow (if you can't beat 'em, join 'em??).

Didn't mean to wax on…meant for a short post. Too much to think about, but of course, all of it critical. : )

-chameleon also of many pseudonyms

...To quote Ab from a few years ago (and other wise beings), "In the midst of motion, stillness"...
4/3 a bit of clarity on Professional Liability Insurance coverage:

This email is being sent to you to inform you of what I found out about
the question "Would the Insurance Company's pay supervisor and managers the
Insurance Liability coverage if they had been charged with a crime?".

I spoke directly to the insurance companies that provide Liability
Insurance coverage to supervisors and managers of the US Forest Service.
Kim Savoy of the Wright and Company and Susan Shamzer from the USDA/ESRA
Insurance, c/o Mass Benefits Consultants both stated that their companies
provided a built in coverage of $100 thousand for liability insurance for
supervisors and managers even if they had been charged with a crime. They
were both very clear to say that once the employee had been found guilty of
the crime that the insurance coverage would stop.

I believe the rumor got started as a result of several workshops where
some different law firms were saying that in the future, Insurance
companies were not going to provide insurance coverage to Govt.
supervisors/managers when that person has been charged with a crime.
However, for now the employees would be covered until they had been found
guilty of a crime.

Rich Martinez
WO- Human Resources

4/3 SM,

I'm going to call "BS" on the assertion that Congress is to blame for RFA getting the axe.

Public Law 110-5 gave the Interior Department the same funding authority as provided in Public Law 109-54, which states:

"For necessary expenses for fire preparedness, suppression
operations, fire science and research, emergency rehabilitation,
hazardous fuels reduction, and rural fire assistance by the Department
of the Interior, $766,564,000, to remain available until expended...."

It was DOI that chose to eliminate the "and rural fire assistance" from their list of priorities.

The ironic part is that Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne was a Senator from Idaho in 1995 when two poorly trained and ill-equipped volunteer firefighters were killed on the Point Fire.

Kempthorne was also very active in the Western Governors Association wildfire initiatives. Just last December, the WGA updated the 10-Year Implementation Plan for the National Fire Plan. They re-affirmed the need to establish and maintain the firefighter assistance programs.

vfd cap'n

4/3 SM,

You said, "Related to your post about RFA (in referring to VFD Capn and Ab's posts)" . You also said, "As an AFMO and long time "DOI guy" I can tell you that the primary blame for the loss of 2007 RFA funding lies with congress and the continuing resolution that we are working under (for the entire year!)"

You are simply wrong in your analysis.... In your experience as an AFMO and long time "DOI guy", I can tell you are wrong at the very basics of how agencies and programs are funded when you place blame upon the Congress without looking at the bigger picture of how federal agencies are actually funded and the entire process that is involved.... The problem in the loss of RFA lies squarely upon the folks in the WO of your individual agency who are political appointees who are simply trying to keep their jobs for the next two years and could give a rats <patootie> about what happens later after they leave.... They are not being leaders, but rather trying to keep salaries intact...... ie - Mark Rey, deathnell of the Forest Service.

The funding has not been reduced at the request of the Congress, but rather at the request of the OMB and the current administration that doesn't recognize the value of the programs that the RFA program supports.... Your supposed leaders failed you... and you followed them and assigned blame to the Congress.....

It is a similar problem throughout government while folks concentrate on partisan politics rather than mission delivery as a federal employee and the oath you signed.... Learn the basics.... and lead up... Be a leader

Get back to the basics!!!!

No more political appointees to agencies that have a public safety, community safety, or employee safety missions... They don't focus on the same goals of mission delivery and efficiency that we have...

4/3 Re: Shelter-in-place program and wildland firefighter and community safety

Here's some good info from folks who are doing it right.


Fire protection in Rancho Santa Fe Fire District as an example

Shelter in Place During Wildfires (8 page pdf file)

Article: Shelter-in-place program balances beauty, safety


January 30, 2005

RANCHO SANTA FE - Fire inspectors checked the eaves, drain pipes, fencing and all the shrubbery surrounding the newly built home. Everything passed muster but a single prodocarpus.

The plant was not only too close to the window, it wasn't even where it was supposed to be, according to the landscape plan on file with the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District.

And it hadn't been there a few days earlier when he walked through the still-unoccupied property, Fire Inspector John Jerome told Fire Chief Erwin L. Willis.

"Sometimes things get a little modified," he said. "And sometimes someone goes to Home Depot after the inspection."

The prodocarpus would have to go because the errant piece of greenery could speed the transfer of heat into the house if there were a blaze outside.

For Rancho Santa Fe fire officials, the devil is in the details, and they take what they call "a modern approach to living safely in a woodland-urban interface community."

All new construction must have fire-resistive building materials, boxed eaves, fire sprinklers, a Class-A noncombustible roof, dual-pane or tempered-glass windows, and chimneys with approved spark arrestors.

The aim is to minimize the loss of life and property when wildfires burn, as they inevitably do in Southern California. Many communities have the same or similar guidelines, but the Rancho Santa Fire Protection District has taken them to a new level. (San Diego County, 2007 enacted)

Under a program called shelter-in-place, residents of five newer communities within the 42-square-mile Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District would stay put, in their own homes, rather than try to flee along narrow, winding rural roads when fire threatens.

"Most deaths during wildfires occur when people trying to flee are trapped in their cars," said Willis, who launched the shelter-in-place program here in 1997.

Shelter-in-place applies to only five of the more than two-dozen homeowners associations within the district - The Bridges, 4S Ranch, Crosby Estates, Cielo and Santa Fe Valley. Everyone else would evacuate if a wildfire came through, including those who live in the Rancho Santa Fe covenant area.

Several other Southern California residential developments, in Rancho Cucamonga, Highland and Fontana, have also been built to shelter-in-place standards, but the five in the local district are the only ones in San Diego County, said Rolland Crawford, Loma Linda fire marshal. He co-chairs the southern division of California Fire Chiefs Association urban-wildland interface committee. (In San Bernardino County and adjacent to the San Bernardino National Forest, as proposed by 'Earney 1997 et al', the Forest Service was actively involved on planning design and comments that were eventually used for success in planning adjacent to the wildland areas. These communities were affected during the 2003 fires with no losses of any homes nor any loss of lives due to community and development design standards that were commented upon, and acted upon, by city and county building commissioners as well as federal land managers.

Fire-resistive construction, however, is only part of the equation. All homes within the district must also have well-maintained fire-resistive landscaping.

"Most of the recent wildfires in the district occurred in the eastern portion in the Lake Hodges area, much of it still in native brush. But the district as a whole has the potential for a big fire," said Mike Scott, the fire district's urban forester.

A forester is someone who manages a forest, but an urban forester also deals with people, said Scott, who has been with the district for five years.

He is one of the few foresters working for a local fire department in California, Crawford said. Glendale and Hayward have them, and so does Los Angeles County, he said.

Scott's concern is "fuel management . . . how we look at a community and make it more defensible in terms of fire-resistant landscaping," he said, and he has both an advisory and an enforcement role.

The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District begins just east of Interstate 5 near the coast almost to Interstate 15 inland. It includes the exclusive Rancho Santa Fe Covenant with its large estates, citrus groves and eucalyptus trees, and newer communities with expensive tract homes and smaller lots.

About 18,000 people live in the district's 6,000 homes, about a third of them in the covenant. And they have markedly different degrees of vulnerability if fire breaks out.

The district escaped the October 2003 wildfires that scorched large areas of San Diego County. Had the flames come, they could have burned through the district in 30 minutes, but 98 percent of the shelter-in-place homes would have survived, Willis said.

"Past studies show that 70 percent of homes with flammable wood roofs burn in fires like we had," the chief said. "These studies also show that 38 percent of homes that do not have a 30-foot (brush) clearance are lost."

The fire district enforces a "brush management area" extending 100 feet from any combustible structure. The 50 feet closest to the structure is limited to fire-resistant ornamental vegetation that is irrigated; the next 50 feet must be either an extension of the irrigated zone or a zone with thinned native brush and tree species.

"This is often misunderstood as grading or completely clearing brush from around the home," Scott said. "We don't use the word 'clear.' We're talking about selective thinning, reducing the fuel loading of the brush."

With "fire-resistive" landscaping and the thinning of native vegetation, most fires will stop at the irrigated zone, or at least transfer their heat to structures with less intensity, he said.

San Diego County's standard is a so-called "defensible landscape" of fire-resistant plants and the clearing of all dry brush and grasses and leaf litter extending at least 50 feet from a structure, along with the pruning and spacing of trees, said Sarah Vaughn of the Department of Land Use and Planning. The cleared area extends to 200 feet on hillsides.

These buffer zones also provide firefighters with a safe area where they can do their jobs, Scott said. If it gets too hot, they may be forced to retreat, and the home could be lost, he said.

"Most fire districts call what we're doing weed abatement, but there's more to it than that," he said. "We try to work closely with the homeowner to minimize the danger. What makes this difficult is the homeowner is looking at aesthetics, and the Fire Department is looking at safety. We try to find a balance between the two."

Fair Use Disclaimer

4/3 Re: Shelter-in-place


I wouldn't give too much credit to the "flying monkeys". Just because they have a website and a vocal following, they are blinded by their anger from the Cedar fire of 2003.

It is great to see the fire professionals (federal, state, and local), the wildland fire ecologists, the community planners, the building industry, and the insurance industry coming together to design safer communities in the wildland urban interface.

Hopefully some of the ideas from San Diego County will spread nationwide and be used for future developments, and for the approval of individual properties in fire prone areas.

For those of you who want a laugh, go to Liar!Liar! County's on FIRE to see the "flying monkees" up close and in person.

4/3 Eric,

Thank you for your helpful answer to my inquiry. It seems I was mistaken in
the Red Card issue - my ex husband seemed to think it was being withheld but
now I know the contractor doesn't have to give out the red card. Perhaps
they were not being dis-honest about that.

I believe the Certificate of Training may still be an issue but I'm sure
that can be worked out. I appreciate the opportunity to ask questions and
receive answers! I have spoken with his contractor's local office and
satisfied that he is doing what he needs to provide documents.

He doesn't have a "new employer" but I believe in always keeping copies of
whatever training in your own personal employment file. One never knows.

Again, thank you.

4/2 Re update- footsteps for firefighters and Brian Janes

Hello, all:

I'm here in Redding after a days flying and enjoying
the birds eye view of this beautiful country of ours.

I spoke with Brian after he finished his second day.
He's in Petersburg, and has one tired set of legs
after a fairly grueling uphill run-rather unforgiving
terrain. He is, however, in GREAT spirits, and plans
to run again tomorrow.

My plan is to meet up with him at Oak Bottom when he
finishes his run for tomorrow.

Lets all keep him in our thoughts and prayers, and
remember why he's making this colossal effort...the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The folks at the
Foundation have been making an effort, selflessly and
quietly for years now, and it's time they got their
due. Come on out and support Brian with your good
wishes and cheers, and support the Foundation in any
way you can.

Heather's Mom

4/2 Footsteps For Firefighters Update -- Day 2

Hi Everybody,

Day 2 is in the bag. Much tougher than day 1 especially the hill out of Callahan. I want to thank all those who told me the hill was shorter than it was, so we were able to make it. I want to thank Darren and Nancy who came out with us again on the second day. We couldn't have made it without them. Tomorrow is a little bit longer, but a flatter run to Somes Bar. Looking forward to some recovery.

Thanks to everybody so far that has helped out.

--Brian Janes

4/2 Vfd Capn and Ab,

Related to your post about RFA. As an AFMO and long time "DOI guy" I can tell you that the primary blame for the loss of 2007 RFA funding lies with congress and the continuing resolution that we are working under (for the entire year!). I have seen no evidence of DOI "killing it off" as you suggest. In fact many of our DOI fire managers have been trying to preserve the program. Unfortunately congress was too busy fiddling around with elections and other monkey business, rather than ensuring that a complete and timely budget was delivered for FY07. We just completed a local proposal for FY08 funding, so hopefully our congress can see the light and ensure that the program continues.


SM, my comment about Interior was made tongue in cheek. Ab.

4/2 "another R6 tender",

I noticed the reduced rate requirement for the 2nd shift, and it seems to make perfect sense to me. I believe the reason for the lower rate for the 2nd shift would be because a single shift on a fire assignment normally averages 14 hours, but can also be as long as 16 while still meeting the 2-1 work rest guidelines. If the single shift rate was based on that 14hr average shift with a little cusion to cover the possible 16hr's on occasion, that would only leave 8-10 hours available for the calendar day to charge for the 2nd shift so the agency most likely doesn't want to pay a rate based on 28-32 potential hours total for 24 hours actual time on the fireline.

an R6 engine contractor
4/2 Hi Ab,
I am a Wildland Fireman's Wife and I have created a blog for W.F.W. I didn't want to take away from the FAMILY SAID site on wildlandfire.com, but this is only for Wives, no moms, girlfriends, etc. I created this site after meeting with Lori Greeno & Susan Farren on the Cleveland National Forest.


Hotshot Firemans.wyf
4/2 Notes from the Advertising Desk,

Alan Simmons of Firestorm Videos had us update his classified ad to include mention of his newest video releases of Firestorm 2006 - Volumes 1 & 2. These videos feature the Day, Esperanza, Shekell Fire, plus five others from the 2006 season.

Several new employment ads are on the Jobs Page. Helitack supervisors and crewmembers are needed by the State of Wyoming and several companies are seeking qualified engine boss/crewmembers in Idaho, Oregon, and Montana.


4/2 Anyone know anything about this, or a possible release date for the report?

From the USFS Chief's Newsletter:

travels to California on Monday evening to participate in the Esperanza
Accident Review Board."


4/2 Please spread the word. Anyone who works within the fire community may
wish to comment on this proposed rule, just out today:

"Clarifying Prohibitions for Failure To Maintain Control of Fires That
Damage National Forest System Lands"

(See attached file: FS_FRDOC_0001-0109[1].pdf small 57K pdf file)

Comments must be received by June 1, 2007. Written comments concerning
this notice should be addressed to USDA Forest Service, State and Private
Forestry, Stop 1109, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC
20250–1109. Comments may also be sent via e-mail to spf@fs.fed.us or via
facsimile to 202–205–1174.
4/2 Ab,

It looks like the Dept. of Interior is killing off the Rural Fire Assistance
grant program. See the message below from the Colorado State Forest Service.
It's some pretty scary stuff, considering the legislative movement in New
Mexico and Montana to remove the criminal liability of sending untrained and
poorly equipped volunteer firefighters to fight wildland fires.

I got our copy of the NIFC annual refresher dvd on Friday. The section on
the Texas VFD's is quite the eye-opener. (Check the case when you get
yours, we got 2 copies of disk one and no disk two.)

vfd capn


Good Morning All ~

After calling the national leads of all the Interior Departments that we
regularly deal with in RFA (BLM/NPS/BIA), it appears that RFA will die a
silent death, for this year anyway. Though there will be no "official"
announcement, those three departments are saying their operating budgets
have a zero balance in RFA for 2007, and they are not expecting it to
change. After conferring with Bill Wallis (BLM Colorado) and Rich Homann,
we have agreed to consider this the final decision regarding RFA funding for

Though we don't have the award yet, the news is better for VFA. The U.S.
Forest Service received its budget last week, and VFA is funded at the
previous year's level. We hope to have information from them in the the
next 2-3 weeks that will allow us to move ahead.

More when I have it.

Don't we wish those DOI guys would pull their heads out of their dark Interiors? What's the world coming to? Ab.

4/2 "region 6 tender"

Did you happen to notice how they are limiting our 2nd shift rate this year? They get us to bid lower and lower every year so that we can be competitive and then they tell us we can only charge so much for our 2nd shift. I ran the numbers and talked with some of our other fellow tenders (as well as engine owners),: it aint going to pay us to run a second shift!" If they keep driving our prices down we wont be able to hire quality help and maintain our equipment! Something to think about.....

another r6 tender

4/2 Ab,

That OMB bean counter guy who hates the FS (remember his "low hanging fruit"
comment), well he's working to have FS fire go to DHS.

Wonder where this all will end up.

<initial, initial>

(Wouldn't mind if he lost his own low hanging fruit, if he has any.)

Everyone, please remember that those who show up in the midst of chaos can affect the future. "Out of chaos comes creativity." Ab.

4/2 Ab,

The R5 BOD is meeting this week.

They've been asked to bring any info showing any losses of personnel to CALFIRE,
including their forest positions, whether they're on teams and their red card quals.
They're going to assess the current situation and then track the impact of any losses
on preparedness.

I'm glad the possible impacts of retention are on the radar screen. Now we just need
some solutions.


4/2 "Prepare, Defend, and Stay" from Down Unda:

Australia's "Prepare, Defend, and Stay" Program has resulted in great success, saving property and lives. I had first heard of their "community" based education and "risk sharing" program a couple of years ago in Missoula MT for IAWF's Safety Summit. Why doesn't this work for all of us? You train your communities on Sat & Sun get to know them, find out where they live, asses their physical abilities (to help or hinder), and teach them valuable skills for pre-fire fuels management, and fire suppression after the fire front has passed. We have all seen it so many times in our past where we spend time and firefighting resources "Kicking Them Out", only to find they've ignored our warnings on Defensible Space. Then we use more suppression resources for "Bailing Them Out" by moving wood piles and managing "their" fuels problem. I believe the average home owner would spend alot more time in wildfire preparedness if they also directly shared in the responsibility of defending their homes and property during live fire operations.

Our own IRPG suggests that we should prepare structures for protection, removing wood stacked against the structure and "Clean roof of combustible items?"

"Americans in the I-Zone" Take responsibility and ownership for your property, the Aussies have.


4/2 Anyone know how we can reach Craig Happ? A kids book publisher in the UK is interested in one of his AirTanker images. All we have is his old military email addy. Ab.
4/2 Well another Fire Season ready to start!

The Engine and Water Tender Contract is out with the USFS in Region 6. I have my RT130, IS700 done and waiting to be inspected for 2007 once more. Real dry spring, hardly any rain and we have had a few fires already. Looking forward to another safe season out on the fire line. Remember LCES so we can all do it again in 2008! Tenders & Engines required to be NFPA Compliant with complete full baffle system for 2008 (time to cut open those tanks) and maybe a 3 year contract this year?

R6 Tender

4/2 RE your fire manager history....

Roy Skelton was FMO 1978 -1994 on the old Winthrop RD on the Okanogan NF. I think he was Crew Boss or Sup't.?? on the Rouge River HS in the early/mid 70s? Was a Type 1 OSC, AOBD and AAGS on R6 teams in the 80's. (Interesting - his son Randy is now FMO on the Grasslands in R1. I believe he was a H'shot also - don't know where, though)

Likewise, Terry McCabe was FMO on the old Twisp RD on the Okanogan NF in the late 70's thru 1993. An AAGS/ASGS on R6 Type 1 teams in the early 1980s. I know he rookied at NCSB - in the late 50s or early 60s??? After retirement, Terry did AD and Contract AAGS work until at least 2004. He was/is a great Air Attack! (His son also jumped at NCSB and now works fire for WA State DNR)


Thanks, JIMBO, I added them. (Still have a bit of other catching up to do on the list.) Thanks ALL for sending in the info. Ab.

4/1 Kevin Joseph,

I found Craig Herret for you in my neck'o'the'woods. He's been retired from
CDF for maybe 7 or 8 years. He left a message on my message machine. I'll
send you his contact info.


4/1 They released the flying monkeys this morning and they’re landing on several CDF stations in San Diego County. It is difficult to describe the grief they have caused our firefighting colleagues down there over the past year.

If you are so inclined, you might want to throw some water on these misinformed primates who are responding in force to an opinion piece written by a guy who is just trying to get the facts out on shelter in place. Here’s the link to the article. Immediately below it are the community responses.

The flying monkeys are quite organized. It would be a good idea for us to be as well and contribute our own comments. The paper provides an easy way to do so anonymously.



Readers, the system used in Australia works really well there. We need more of that self reliance here. Ab.

4/1 S Harter -

This may not be the answer you are looking for, but a contract company is not supposed to give out red cards to people they do not employ.

In the contract world, a "Red Card" issued by an employer or contract company is their assurance that the employee is certified and on their list of employees on file with the respective Contracting Officer.

What a contract suppression company cannot do is withhold certificates of training. I suggest he collect up his certs and a new employer can issue their red card. The certs are what a new employer needs.

If the company is indeed a member of the NWSA (www.nwsa.us) you can look them up on their membership list.

So to make it short: Red cards belong to the company, and certificates of training belong to the employee. Red cards stay with the company as it is company property as it says "Company XX certifies John Doe"

Hope this helps.


4/1 The attached green sheet was issued for a severe injury incurred by a city firefighter operating as part of a Type 1 engine strike team on the "241 Fire" in Orange County a couple weeks ago. This fire burned 2,036 acres and several structures during a Santa Ana wind event. The injured firefighter was struck in the face with an axe causing serious but correctable injuries.

This is just another reminder of the serious burning conditions we are all facing in Southern California and a reminder to be safe. Fire Season is HERE!

Contract County Guy


Huntington Beach FD – Medic Engine 45
Firefighter Injury
March 11, 2007
“241” Incident
Orange County Fire Authority #CA-ORC-016557
It is intended as a safety and training tool, an aid to preventing future occurrences, and
to inform interested parties. Because it is published on a short time frame, the
information contained herein is subject to revision as further investigation is conducted
and additional information is developed.

On March 11, 2007 at approximately 08:00 a vegetation fire started in
the city of Anaheim in Orange County, CA. Orange County Mixed Agency
Strike Team XOR1422A was dispatched to the fire and arrived at scene at
approximately 10:00. At approximately 14:20hrs, while engaged in a
significant structure protection operation, the Engineer from Huntington
Beach Fire Department ME-45 was struck in the face with the blade of an
axe. The engineer was immediately treated by members of his own crew
and transported to the trauma center for evaluation. He underwent
reconstructive and plastic surgery, and is expected to make a full recovery.

Temperature: 90 degrees
Winds: north east 12 mph, gusts to 30+
Relative humidity: 7%
Visibility: varied 0-20 feet
General Topography:
Wildland/Urban Interface area with Medium Brush and Grass
Accident site topography:
Road Conditions:
Make Model of Equipment:

On March 11, 2007 Strike Team XOR1422A (Orange County Mixed
Agency Strike Team) was assigned to the “241” incident which started on
Highway 241 north of Windy Ridge in the City of Anaheim. ST1422A. The
strike team became engaged in structure protection operations in the
wildland/urban interface area at approximately 10:25 hours. The members
of the strike team engaged the fire in several locations, units became
engaged in structure protection at 6811 Avenida de Santiago. HTB-ME45
switched to Structural PPE and made an interior attack on the fire with
other units from XOR1422A, the fire was overhauled for approximately 45
minutes. Upon completion of that assignment the crew from HTB-ME45
switched back to wildland PPE.

Crews continued to utilize bump and run tactics until 1400hrs when it
was noted that there was smoke and fire coming from the chimney of the
structure at 1110 Tamarisk. At the direction of the Strike Team Leader
crews again switched back to structural PPE and engaged the structure fire
at that location. Per the Strike Team Leader, crews were engaged in fire
suppression and overhaul for approximately 30 to 45 minutes when the
Captain from Fullerton Engine 3 advised the Strike Team Leader his crews
need for rehab. During that time the Engineer was working on the outdoor
patio deck with the Captain from Anaheim E21. The Engineer from HTBME45
was attempting to locate and extinguish a fire located in the walls
and floor of the deck (ref: Photo 1 and 2) with an axe when he became tired
and handed the axe off to the Captain of ANA-E21. The Captain took 3 to
4 swings of the axe to attempt to remove 2 studs from the wall of the patio.
Upon taking 1 additional swing he broke through both studs and the axe
continued around striking the Engineer from HTB-ME45 in the right cheek.
(Ref: photo 3- the Captain was standing at the red arrow and the Engineer
was standing at the blue arrow.) The call of ‘”Firefighter Down” was
transmitted with an immediate request for an ambulance code 3 to their

The crew from HTB-ME45 began the ALS care of the injured
engineer and maintained care throughout the transport to the trauma
center. The engineer sustained a deep laceration to his right cheek, a
fracture to his cheek bone and sinus, and possible nerve damage. He
underwent reconstructive and plastic surgery to repair the damage. The
prognosis is for a return to full duty without limitations.

The engineer sustained a deep laceration to his right cheek, a fracture to
his cheek bone and sinus, and possible nerve damage to his face.

• Maintain situational awareness at all times
• Maintain adequate crew clearance when operating hand tools, ensure
clearance in tight spaces
• Identify and minimize fatigue by utilizing proper work/rest intervals
o Fatigue is major contributing factor of fire line injuries
Picture #1

4/1 SS,

There is a meeting set for April 15th to determine what will and will not be kept
from the Hispanic agreement here in R5, but as far as we know, the GS 5/6's will
be flown both G and DP.

Young and Dumb,

If you want a list of all the helitack bases and who the superintendents are, send
me an email. I will be glad to send that to you.

4/1 How do I find out if a contract company is a member of NWSA?

They won't give my son his red card. They just ask him,
Why? Are you planning on leaving?

I think they are dishonest.
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